Wednesday, 22 July 2009

Family Fears

When I popped in to visit St Billy yesterday I saw that he'd written of his concerns re his granddaughter being a newly qualified driver. We are all too aware that the young don't seem to have a healthy regard of the dangers. They act as if they feel invincible. It reminded me of my own fears when my nephew just passed his test and was intending to drive to/from university. I could see it made sense instead of hauling all his dirty laundry home by train to have the use of his car. But suddenly for an 18 year old to go from minor pottering around town to driving on major routes and motorways didn't bear thinking about. To get some of my worries off my chest I penned him a letter:

"Dear Nephew

Enclosed are a couple of leaflets I picked up when we had a speaker talk to us recently [at the garden club] about the history of British woodlands. I’m not sure what exactly you are studying at University on 'Geography' but Pat said you would be interested in collecting information – so here they are! Now, in my day [yawn….] geography was all about maps, globes, countries, continents, rivers, hills and mountains and other geographical features that I may have missed out in the aforementioned list. Also about resources such as minerals etc. At least I can have a fair stab at pointing in the correct area of the globe when someone mentions some far and away foreign country. I also know where my hometown, yours and Southampton fit into a map of England – next time I see you I’ll have to test your knowledge and awareness of British towns/cities/rivers etc. – so be warned!

I was very pleased to hear you had passed your driving test – well done – but please [a bit of auntily nagging is now coming up] do take care. Whatever you do don’t drink and drive. Also try to drive carefully at all times. Remember there are some mad buggers out there who do daft things when you least expect them to. Also always leave plenty of s p a c e when pulled up behind another car. Some folk aren’t good at clutch control and at best will roll back and dent your front or at worst someone may hit you from behind and if you're too close to the one in front you end up becoming sandwiched. And finally, when driving allow plenty of space for unexpected idiots braking or turning with no warnings [don’t forget if you ever hit anyone from the rear you're at fault – no dispute allowed: regardless of whatever the daft idiot in front does – if you hit them from behind then you’re the guilty party]. And then your astronomically high insurance premium will soar to even greater heights.

I always quote the 2 second rule – this is where you watch the car in front pass a marker then recite “only a fool ignores the 2 second rule” (normal talking pace - no gabbling it) you should be able to say it all before you pass the same marker point. This means regardless of speed you are doing that the gap between you and car in front is adequate. May you have many, many happy and carefree years of motoring ahead of you – it can be fun – I enjoy driving but am always thinking of the risks. I am also thinking of taking the advanced motoring course – if I qualify it should help to lower the insurance premiums – speaking of which there is a short course called “Pass Plus” [I think it covers motorways etc] which may help you to do the same. Enough nagging!

I hope you are impressed by this fancy font – I’ve just started to do a course n calligraphy – I’d like to say this all my own work but I wont lie…. At the moment I’m practicing [or is that practising?] with a calligraphy pen - getting the angles right on various curves and zig zags – sheet after sheet – I get writers cramp. I hope to be proficient enough to do hand made Christmas cards this year – we’ll see.

Apart from writer’s cramp I also suffer from computer user’s mouse hand/shoulder (RSI), housemaid’s knee and mobile phone, texter’s thumb! Pat and I regularly pass short messages back and forth – heaven only know’s why – it would be cheaper to phone and use the landline. BT allow me to talk for 5.5p for a whole hour and here I am texting a short sentence and paying 12p for the honour – but it makes me feel young and trendy! It’s good though as had friends in South Africa last month (that’s towards the bottom half of the globe slightly to the right of us – in a geographer’s language almost south east – at least - I think that’s where it is) and they sent me a birthday text greeting. They’re young and trendy too even though 10+ years older than I. Talking of birthdays - thank you very much for the birthday card – I was very pleased to receive it.

With much love from your very proud Aunt. (by that I mean your Aunt who is full of pride of her nephew - even if he is unable to pin point the whereabouts of Southampton on a blank map of the UK)"

Then when I started to relax and get used to the idea of his driving around the country he took up a new hobby - sky diving . . . eek.


rachel said...

Hmmm, yes, I know those anxious feelings well - all that driving with attack, vim and vigour that the young manage without a qualm! The white knuckles and phantom braking that gives us away! Now they sit next to us as we pootle along and roll their eyes at our old-lady driving....

Stinking Billy said...

Penny, very amusing, and an excellent example of what aunties are for. I am honoured to have been mentioned in the introduction. x

Around My Kitchen Table said...

Wonderful letter! And you very cleverly wove all your advice into how he should avoid bad drivers - not nagging him to be a good driver himself. Good luck with the sky-diving letter, should you ever write one!

Phidelm said...

Excellent post, LadyT - thank you! No longer a car-owner (&, rather risibly, missing driving), but recognise excellent advice when I see it. I agree with Around MKT, above: you've approached the subject with commendable tact and subtlety, where nagging or brow-beating just wouldn't work.
I remember E Devon well (parents lived & are buried there). Greetings from France.

ladythinker said...

Very kind of you all to stop by . . and for your kind comments.