Yes, I’m gonna be a star…

The house owners rather foolishly left me their ‘spare’ car to use while they’re away.

Ha ha ha! I asked a few nervous questions about insurance, and their only response was a casual shrug and Just try not to hit anything, it’s only third party as they cheerfully tossed me the keys. It took me several days of just walking nervously around it before I even had the courage to get inside.

For a start, it’s a jeep – much, much bigger than Rio the Clio. It is a Monster Car. You sit in it and you can look down at all the people in their ordinary cars miles and miles below, and feel like you’re very big and important. And also, possibly, in a much higher position of power than you really should be.

Secondly, it’s an automatic. It is quite disconcerting to take your foot off the brake and realise that you’re suddenly off and running again without having put it into gear or anything. That’s caught me out a few times when I’ve been a little too far forward at a junction, taken my foot off the brake to roll back a little, and found myself plunging forward into the stream of traffic instead. Watch out for me in my Monster Car! the caption would read, were I a cartoon Hails sitting perched atop a tank and gripping the steering wheel ineffectually, with a frenzied expression of panic on my Woman Driver face.

Thirdly, I feel like I’m driving from the passenger seat. I can’t get the hang of what I should be seeing in the mirrors at all, or what angle anything’s at, or how to judge my distance from anything on my right.

But most importantly, of course, I have to drive on the right hand side of the road. They don’t really like it when I try to drive on the left like I did at home. I tried it once, albeit by accident, and got glared at by an angry Belgian in a defenceless Mini (but to be fair, it must have been quite a frightening sight for him). It all feels terribly unnatural – going round a roundabout anti-clockwise, for example, is just terrifying. Particularly for someone from Ballymena the Capital of Pointless Mini Roundabouts.

Then, of course, there’s the very real possibility that I will take a wrong turning and get more hopelessly lost than I have ever been in my entire life. The signs are in a language I don’t know, I would have no idea how to ask for directions (or understand them), I’m already confused by the road layouts, and I have no Maxine. The Belfast Incident would have nothing on a Lost In Belgium story.

So, taking all that into account, I’m actually rather proud of myself for getting behind the steering wheel and going for a drive each day. I have no one to clap me on the back and say “Atta girl!” but I’m sure that you’re all thinking it. Beep beep’m beep beep, yeah!

And maybe next week I’ll actually drive out of the village…


7 thoughts on “Yes, I’m gonna be a star…

  1. I’m glad you’re driving it over there. I remember reading the Belfast incident and your stories about road rage around Cullybackey.Remember to only drive it in Belgium so the people of Northern Ireland feel safe out on the roads ;-)

  2. The Sister says:

    Wonder if Maxine (being a blonde and all), would have anymore of a clue than you do…wonder if she’d start learning a new lanuage…??!!

    She still has problems with Belfast!!

  3. bevchen says:

    I’ve lived in Germany for two years and I still can’t even walk across a road without looking the wrong way. You’re very brave.

  4. The Parents says:

    I see you have inherited your Father’s hair raising motoring skills!!!! Please be careful and beware of car parks at roundabouts!!!!!!!

  5. d@\/e – those incidents only prove that I am a *good* driver, and that (a) signposts need to be clearer and (b) other people need to drive faster.
    Sister – I really, really miss Maxine! I don’t think I fully appreciated how much she enriched my life until she was no longer in it.
    bevchen – I am. Thank you!
    Parents (or, more accurately, Mum) – Poor Dad. Yes, our driving styles are quite similar. I have yet to mistake a parking lot for a slip road, but I have been lost more times than the average motorist!

  6. McBouncy says:

    Hayley in an automatic Jeep! Do you pretend to be me and act like you own the whole road?

    I no longer have a jeep… :(
    You post about my blonde hair and I no longer have it and then about jeeps and I no longer have one. Spooky…

    I got fed up circling the car park for half an hour trying to find a space big enough to park the Q7 so I managed to convince McLovely to buy me something smaller. His idea of small and mine are totally different. It is still massive…

    Maybe I should send you the car airfreshener you bought me which reads “Yes I do own the whole damn road!”

  7. McBouncy – I am a lot more timid in the jeep than you are! Any time I’m acting like I own the whole road it’s mainly accidental rather than out of a belief that I do. ;)

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