Post 9: "Zen and the art of automobile maintenance".
I passed my driving test first time. This is a Big Deal because it’s literally the only test I have ever achieved a better result in than my siblings. Don’t feel bad for them - they’ve done ok. One is a business graduate who then did a second degree and requalified as a midwife. One is a paediatric cardiologist. One is the head of marketing for an international company. As Jewish families go, two in a medical profession and one executive is an ok result. If only I had any kind of aptitude for law or accountancy. I don’t. I do this.
Anyway, my pride in my driving test has given me a real love of driving and I am a terrible passenger. None of you drive in a way that will make me feel as good as driving myself. When he drops me off at the station, Mark usually opens the car door, starts the engine and moves straight over to the passenger seat. When we get to our destination, we perform an almost balletic routine as I trip off towards the station and he leaps back into the driver’s seat.
I hope any therapists in my network are enjoying this material.
I’ve also formed a strong attachment and found great affection towards the four cars that I have owned. Each car has had a distinct personality (anthropomorphising much?) and something to teach me about life.
My first car was a Fiat Panda, and it taught me that you can fit a quart into a pint pot. Or a pint into a quart pot. Whichever one means that by being careful you can make something greater than the sum of it’s parts.
My second was a Nissan Bluebird, a car for grown ups. When I was ill* I had to relinquish my driving license on medical grounds for over a year. When my license was returned, I was quite nervous to drive, but the Bluebird was calm and practical and predictably the same and soon it felt completely natural to be back behind the wheel. It had waited patiently for me and welcomed me back. That’s a nice way to treat someone after a rough time.
My third car was a Nissan Micra, in a funky purpley blue colour. This was the first (and only) new car that I had/have ever owned. It had loads of cool features, like a brilliant sound system and bleepy things for when you’re reversing and little compartments for this and that. It seemed very frivolous but it was made of strong stuff. The car (and I) survived 3 serious crashes, including being the middle vehicle in a pile up (that grimly chaotic experience later contributing to the finale of a play). We can be stronger than we seem, and keep on keeping on.
My current car is an old Ford Fusiom. It’s brilliant for schlepping around sets for shows, tech equipment, and a whole gang of kids on the school run. Today I spotted that the fuel gage was low so I dashed to the nearest petrol station to put in some emergency rations, it can get a bit hangry otherwise. They only had premium unleaded, so I put a tenner’s worth in, muttering “You’d better not get used to it.” It’s developed a quirky nature in its advancing years, so we get on well. Like Penny’s car in The Big Bang Theory, it’s “check engine” light is permanently on, I kind of like that - it adds a sense of uncertainty and an element of risk. Like life.
*see Post 2: “Don’t You Forget About Me”