Follow the reluctant adventures in the life of a Welsh astrophysicist sent around the world for some reason, wherein I photograph potatoes and destroy galaxies in the name of science. And don't forget about my website,

Tuesday 5 October 2010

Brmm, brrrmmm !

Wow ! A blog post that's actually a proper blog about life and stuff !

So I was all set to write a lengthy post about the entire experience of driving, then realised this would be utterly pointless. A rather large number of people drive anyway, so what am I supposed to tell them ? And for those who don't, how am I supposed to describe something which makes absolutely no sense until you try it ? No, I think I'll just have a bit of a rant about driving courses.

I did an intensive course (9am-1pm, 5 days a week) preceded by two 2-hour sessions. The idea of an intensive course is that you can learn to drive in a week and be ready to take the test at the end of it. On some courses you drive around a track and even share with another learner - this would be absolute drivel. You might as well go and sacrifice a chocolate-covered goat to the Great God of Coconuts; it'd be just as relevant.

With hindsight I think I would have preferred a semi-intensive course - daily lessons perhaps, but maybe 2hrs per day rather than 4, supplemented with practise in my parent's car. I have to disagree with my instructor (who is a wise man and very good at his job) that you learn far more in 4 hrs; I just can't concentrate for that long. Anything much over 3 hours and I start to feel like I've been doing numerical integration in my head for about 2 days straight whilst only taking breaks to write an essay on the Platonic theory of forms*. Frankly, it gets boring. Even though I start making more mistakes and become increasingly afraid for my life, I become bored of being afraid for my life. I want to go home and play computer games.

*I'll bet you any money you like you've never heard driving described by that analogy before.

I also think I disagree that it would have been easier to learn at 17 as my instructor keeps telling me. For one thing, I don't think I learn any more slowly now than I did then, though I am far lazier. For another, I had no money at 17 ! I'd have had to have got a job as well as taking 4 A-levels**. Goodbye highly limited social life. Easy ? Should I also have taken up kick-boxing for good measure ? Or maybe just initiated a Middle East peace conference ?

**As opposed to now, when I have sufficient funds but find most of my spare time being ever more rapidly consumed in the fiery maelstrom of preparation for moving across the sea in a few weeks time.

That said, intensive courses do seem to work, at least for me. Well, kindof. I'm now capable of driving around without killing anyone, provided I'm given some instructions. Or rather I was when I finished the intensive course. After a break of 2-3 weeks from professional tuition***, I'm back to where I was about halfway through - it is, in fact, exactly like retaining knowledge having been cramming for an exam. All the basics are there, but the rest is up there somewhere in some kind of disgusting knowledge soup, and only the sieve of a professional instructor can remove the foul peas of ineptitude leaving only the delicious chicken of competence.

***To be fair most of that was spent in the firey maelstrom of preparation.

Still... driving in Puerto Rico in a few weeks ? In an automatic ? On the wrong side of the road and with all the controls on the wrong side of the car ?

Hmm. Can I do another viva instead ?

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