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August 26, 2005

'Thus conscience does make cowards of us all;'

To drive, or not to drive that is the question: Whether 'tis nobler in the mind to suffer The slings and arrows of outrageous public transport system, Or to take arms against a journey of troubles, And by opposing end them?

To tell you the truth I have never enjoyed travelling by car Iíd love to be able to say it was all to do with the environmental impact but really my aversion can be traced long before I understood the meaning of the word ípollution.í

Perhaps it comes of belonging to a family (well OK a father) who worshipped the motor car as if it were a God and fretted if one accidentally got so much as a spec of mud on the back seat.
From a very young age I have always had this irrational premonition that my life will end rather abruptly in some nasty pile up, or that I will be maimed or disabled in the same way. Strangely though my Dadís car was the only vehicle in which I ever felt mildly comfortable. If for whatever reason I had to travel with someone else I would freak out, big time. I still do to a certain extent, although now I know that screaming and crying and banging my fists on the back seat is not a rational behaviour for a 29 year old, so I keep it all inside.

Of all the drivers in the world I trust myself the least. Whenever I am behind the wheel I am not only convinced that I am about to die, but that I am about to take everyone who happens to be in the car with me and itís all going to be MY FAULT.
Mentally balanced, moi?

So, I hear you ask, why in Godís name did you ever learn to drive? Well the fact is I grew up in a claustrophobic small sleepy commuter village in Hertfordshire. I learned as soon as I took on a paper round at the age of 13 that I had no desire to spend my free time amongst those who read the Daily Mail as if it were the bible. All my friends lived in the nearest town where I went to secondary school but horror of horror the last bus back rolled itís creaky wheels past the end of my road at the ungodly hour of precisely 5:30pm. So any later sojourns had to be planned well in advance to ensure that my Dad would be able to come and pick me up and whenever this was the case, heíd be sitting outside the venue at precisely 10:29 tapping his fingers on the steering wheel because he always seemed to have an early start a 6am.
It kind of killed that feeling of freedom that I'm told is felt by most teenagers.

Passing my driving test certainly presented me with a liberty that I had long been yearning but unfortunately it never alleviated the fear.
Mr PE is an old road protester and so never learned to drive (he also grew up in London which kind of helped) so in our relationship the driving is always down to me. So you can imagine my glee when a couple of years ago we decided that we could no longer afford to run a car and exchanged our automobile for some much needed banknotes. It also meant I could rub my hands together and become all holier-than-thou about pollution.

But public transport sucks doesnít it?! Particularly when you are going away and can only take as much stuff as you can carry. Waiting at some cruddy bus stop or train station, back groaning under the weight of the kitchen sink with a child who just wants to run about is not my idea of fun.
But compared to death I guess it wins hands down.

Ah but now I have been spoiled, much to my initial chagrin Mr PE arranged after a bad experience last year that we should borrow a car for this yearís Beautiful Days. Plus that we should attempt to murder offer a lift to some friends. Once the fear had subsided ever so slightly I began to get used to not having to carry everything up and down escalators on the underground, to not have to trek in the rain from the station the other end. to being able to listen to my own music, to being delivered door to door, to being able to take more blankets, more pillows and more nibbles.

And bugger me if I didnít get us all to Exeter and back in ONE PIECE!
My Father-in-Law had to prise my fingers open to get those keys back from me I can tell you, goddammit.

We are off camping in Devon next week, we shall have to tackle two busses, two trains and the underground whilst carrying a weekís worth of stuff on our backs.

Ďay, there's the rub;í

Posted by purple elephant at August 26, 2005 11:01 AM