Fear of 4 Wheels – Part 11

I feel like I should publish a post that isn’t part of this series, to break all the Fear of 4 Wheels posts up. However, I’m not going to!  I’m writing this on the 27th June, which has been a very, long, day.  Both myself and Greté woke up very early today.  Both for different reasons.  For me, today was my driving theory and hazard perception test day.  I’ve not really slept well for the past few days, and this morning I was up at 6:00am.  Given the success of yesterday’s drive home, and the quiet roads, I thought I’d give driving in to the office a shot.

I jotted this paragraph down when I got to the office.

I’m sitting here feeling pretty bloody good about myself, so I thought I’d throw down a few words.  I’ve been employed since I left university in 1993, but today, 20 years later, is the first time I’ve ever driven myself to work.  Greté was with me obviously, but I did the actual driving.  It’s pretty empowering, I can tell you (although I probably don’t have to, since you can all drive).

I’ll be honest, it felt even better than it sounds.  The roads were quiet, but there was still plenty of traffic, and despite a couple of white vans trying to run me off the road when their lane merged into mine, it was a good drive.  No mistakes, a couple of confidence issues, but lots of mirror use and plenty of control.  I was buzzing when I got to work – I was also shaking, so I had some shortbread that a colleague had brought in.  I think the shaking was part adrenaline, part low sugar (concentration burns my sugar faster than you might imagine).

Work itself dragged – because I knew at 6:00pm, twelve hours after getting out of bed, I had a theory exam to take in the centre of Nottingham.  I made sure we were there early, and I didn’t drive.  Thankfully Greté is used to and puts up with my tendency to arrive 2 hours early for everything I do, although we were technically only 1 hour and 15 minutes early.  We grabbed a coffee in Costa, bought a spare umbrella (yeh, thanks rain), wandered around for a bit, and then I headed in to the test centre.  As usual, I was more nervous about the procedural aspects of the test than I was about the actual test.  You know what my biggest worry was?  Would I have to pay for a locker or would they be free, and if I had to pay, did I have the right coinage.

Yeh, welcome to my head.

Luckily, lockers were free, the staff were great, the instructions were clear and about an hour after going in, I left.

This is the first exam that’s mattered since I left university in 1993.  So not only 20 years of employment and driving in for the first time, but 20 years since I sat an exam that could change my life.

The multi-choice was fine, there were 2 questions I’d never seen on topics I can’t remember reading about (minimum distance between you and the car in front when stopping in a tunnel, and another about soft tarmac), and out of the 50 I got 2 wrong (I found out later).  I’m tempted to think it was those 2 I got wrong, but it might not have been.  The hazard perception test was just, stressful.  You get no feedback as you go, and it’s possible to click too much or in the wrong way and score 0 points even if you spot the hazard.  The lack of feedback is simply terrifying and by clip 15 I was essentially a gibbering wreck.  The massive headphones didn’t help, and I was approximately too fucking hot by the time I left.

Was I clicking too much?  Was I somehow accidentally clicking in a mysterious pattern that the software would think was cheating?  Let’s face it, all software sucks, so it’s entirely possible it could get it wrong.

I walked from the test room with no clue if I’d passed or not, but by the time I got to the desk, the results were printed out and handed to me.  The member of staff doesn’t tell you if you’ve passed, so I had to read the certificate, about 3 times, before I convinced myself that I had.

I had passed my theory test.

I had successfully, passed, the theory and hazard perception test.

I have two years in which to apply for and pass my practical exam now.  I’m pretty sure my instructor is going to suggest I book a date in late August or early September at next week’s lesson (assuming she’s well).

It’s still only slowly sinking in.

The good news is that I can finally stop worrying about whether I need a stabilising bar when towing a caravan.


Fear of 4 Wheels – Part 10

Short one today, I promise.  My instructor cancelled today’s lesson at short notice due to illness.  Judging by the overwhelming sense of relief I felt at that, I’m guessing I didn’t fancy going out for a drive anyway.

Although to be fair, I did drive home today from work (with Greté keeping me company), which wasn’t too bad.  Yesterday however was a different matter entirely.  It was the first time I’d driven since last Wednesday’s lesson, for various reasons, and it was like being back at week 1.

Stalled pulling away, too fast in 1st, stopping short of junctions, stalling, jumping away like a rabbit, thunking to a stop, changing down gear too early, etc., etc.  Yesterday did not do my confidence any favours at all.  Today though, as I said, much better overall, and more use of the mirrors.  I guess the lesson there is, drive more often, so I’m going to try and drive home every night this week.

Tomorrow I have my theory test (and hazard perception test).  I’ve been revising hard (using a couple of apps on Android, one which I found only at the start of the week is and very, very good, while the other I’d been using for longer and is a lot weaker).  The best app so far, that I’ve found, is this one.  It has a really snappy title, “Theory Test +Hazard Perception”, but it’s very good.  I’m pretty confident about the multi-choice questions, but I’m still nervous about the hazard perception stuff, because it’s possible to get zero points just by clicking ‘in the wrong pattern’ or ‘too often’.

One last thing, there are a lot of cyclists where I live.  A lot.

Fear of 4 Wheels – Part 9

Not me

As the weeks go on, and the lessons get more serious and less accident prone, it gets harder to write these blog posts.  I wonder, how much fun can it be reading about how I drove around for 2 hours without any really funny anecdotes or near death experiences.  Then I remind myself that when have I ever worried about boring someone half to death with an unfunny story from my life, and why should I start worrying now.

After last weeks lesson I was sure I was going to get out and about in our car as much as I could.  You know what?  It’s hard, and I’m naturally lazy.  I don’t mean hard in a rocket science or pure mathematics way, I mean hard in a just plain hard work hard way.  Like moving 500 lbs of sand from one place to another – anyone can do it, but it’s just proper hard work.  I’m really, really good at making excuses and avoiding hard work, it’s one of my secret super powers (my top one is the Power of Passive Aggression).  So in fact, I only drove our car twice between the last lesson and this one, but that’s twice more than I expected.

I drove to the council refuse / recycling centre on Sunday and then I drove back from Tesco this afternoon before the actual driving lesson.  Greté (bless her cotton socks of patience) has been trying to encourage me, and be patient and nice, but as I said, I’m lazy and it’s hard!  Cry!  So anyway, I drove to the recycling centre (we got rid of some old furniture, two boxes of old electronics and cables, and some other junk), and it was okay.  I had my first traffic-light managed contraflow experience.  The driver behind me had a ‘learner driver stalls and doesn’t get through on the green cycle like you had hoped’ experience.  I’m pretty hard on myself at those moments, I’m not worried about the people stuck behind me, they were me once upon a time, but I am hard on myself.  I hate not being able to do something when I’m learning it, which is why I give a lot of stuff up very quickly when it turns out I’m not instantly any good at it.  Anyway, I berated myself while the lights turned from red to green and then pulled away very, very slowly, much to the increased agitation of the driver behind me.  Coming back was fine, and I even did a bit of far-too-fast reversing on-site at the recycling place, which was fun (for everyone, including the guy who was walking behind me at the time).

Also not me

I then pretty much cried like a spoiled child every time Greté tried to get me to drive home or back from the shops or where-ever.  I’ve had a hard day, I’m tired, it’s hard, it hurts when I press it, etc.  Today though, Greté had a medical appointment, and after stopping at Tesco briefly on the way home to pick up some stuff, I drove back from there.  It was a bit haphazard but right at the end, the last 4 or 5 stop/starts my feet had an epiphany.

I have known in my head for a few weeks that controlling the car speed in first gear is nothing to do with the actual revs or the amount of accelerator in use.  It’s all to do with the clutch.  I know this.  My feet however refused to believe, they still subscribed to the church of ‘if you use too much gas you’ll pull away at 100mph and drive into the car in front’.  So, from a handbrake start I have been trying to apply just enough accelerator to pull away while lifting the clutch.  But finding just enough is hard, and takes a lot of practice, and if you don’t get enough you stall.  If you feel like you’re almost about to stall you panic and hit the accelerator and lift the clutch and then bounce away like a rabbit chasing a frog.  The trick is to convince yourself that it almost doesn’t matter what the revs are (as long as you’re not killing the engine), if you lift the clutch slowly enough, you will pull away slowly, and if you put the clutch back in, you’ll stop accelerating.

My feet finally got on-board on the way back from Tesco, and I have Greté to thank for encouraging me to do that.

Absolutely not me

What it meant was that when I went out for the driving lesson, I was pretty much able to forget worrying about actually pulling away, standing start, slow start already in first, whatever, I just made sure I lifted the clutch really bloody slowly.  No stalls today.  None.  Pulled out into some pretty hair raising roundabouts as well, knowing I’d have enough time.

Now of course, since I’ve mastered that, the problem is I’m not going fast enough.  Now we’re pulling off roundabouts onto 50mph roads, and my instructor wants me to get up into 4th and 5th pretty quickly and she’s right, because if I don’t, even on the narrowest of single carriageways, some dumb ass idiots will overtake me because they might be late for Coronation Street.

So my feet are on-board, which is good, and I did another 3 point turn today (sorry, turning in the road), and nailed it.  That’s my second go at it, and I’m at ‘5’ on the 1-5 scoring chart the instructor uses.  Pretty bloody happy about that – so as long as my life in the car consists only of turning around in the street and pulling away from junctions, I’m sorted.

Most of the rest of my scores are between 3 and 5.  The 3’s are mostly around junctions and the 4’s are for maneuvers and general driving.  She’s still confident that it’ll only take around 28-30 hours of lessons to get me through the test, which I still find slightly terrifying.

One of the 3’s is for something like ‘meeting traffic’ or words to that effect.  I guess turning left into a narrow road, to find a car coming at me on my side of the road because the other side was stacked with parked cars counts as ‘meeting traffic’.  We stopped (my instructor did some braking although I think I would have been okay), and the person in the car just happily pootled past us and headed off.  I was quite calm overall, but it does remind you how bloody dangerous the whole driving concept can be.

In that vein, we were traveling at about 50mph along a dual carriageway towards a set of traffic lights at a pedestrian crossing.  I could see no one was present, so I continued at the same speed, anticipating no change in the lights.  What neither of us anticipated was a cyclist on our side of the road, coming around the wrong side of the barriers at the lights (so facing us, but on the road), waiting to cross, who then basically failed to get his foot out of the pedal stirrup.  He starting falling sideways into the road, and finally managed to get his foot underneath him and stop his collapse.  I went from 50mph to about 15mph in a pretty bloody short distance, with my instructor cursing, and drove around the cyclist.  He seemed oblivious to his near miss.

Speaking of cyclists, they’re definitely the most complex part of the drive for me at the moment.  The advice is to give them about 2 metres clearance if you’re going to overtake.  You can’t overtake if you can’t see far enough ahead, if you’re approaching a crossing, or if there’s not enough room to give them a couple of metres of clearance.  This is fine if you’re on a slow road, but we were passing one cyclist in a 40mph limit, with heavy traffic in both directions.  I was trying to slow down and not get too close, while looking for a gap, but because I was now doing 20mph, cars were passing me on the right side and overtaking, into oncoming traffic, with parked cars coming up in my lane as well.

That was an ‘exciting’ time for everyone, including my instructor who was giving me a lot of running advice at a time when I wasn’t really able to appreciate it.

There were two really good things about the drive yesterday.  The first one was that it was challenging, and my instructor knows she’s challenging me.  We basically drove into the centre of Nottingham along a route that was very busy and I’m very familiar with, and then along another route just outside the city centre which is equally busy.  They were both challenging but they gave me the confidence that when the time comes I will be able to make it into town without a complete breakdown.  At one point as we were driving slowly up a hill towards the centre, my instructor asked if I was nervous.  I said yes, but only because I knew what junction we were approaching.

The second thing was finally getting to 70mph.  We were driving along a road and my instructor asked, “What’s the speed limit?” to which I responded, confidently, “70mph”.  She followed with the killer, “what speed are you doing?”.  “50mph” was my meek response.

“Put your foot down then,” she said.  So I did.

Fear of 4 Wheels – Part 8

Just a small update today.  Driving around yesterday really helped, beyond measure.  I decided not to drive to work this morning, because I’m still finding driving mentally draining and I don’t want to spend the first hour at work any more tired than I already am.  However, I did drive home, and generally it was okay.  Managed to stall it 8 times getting off the site I work at, but once past that roundabout I was fine.  I suspect I took some roundabouts slightly quicker and with perhaps a little less room than my instructor might have liked if she’d been in the car, but there you go.  Greté was patient and kept me safe.

By the time I got home, there was only an hour before my lesson started; and that lesson went really, really well.  Just 30 minutes driving home in the car meant that when the lesson started my overall control was already much better, I was more relaxed, and a lot calmer.  We did a lot of straight driving, talked about roundabouts, worked on my approach and control, and everything generally was just much better.  One wobbly hill-start without enough clutch,  but just generally much better.  I even filtered onto the ring road in a manner which felt far safer than last time.

So, nothing funny to say, no mishaps, no panics, just enjoyable driving for a couple of hours, with a couple of decent 60mph runs.

I think I’ll try and drive a few times a week at least, mostly back from work (nice stop/start traffic to improve my control).  I’ve said to Greté I don’t mind driving, as long as I’m not expected to talk to anyone when we get where-ever we’re going.

Theory test on the 27th – I better start reading and doing some practice on hazard perception then.

Fear of 4 Wheels – Part 7

“It’s the job that’s never started as takes longest to finish.
Attributed to the “Old Gaffer” by Samwise Gamgee”

I love Tolkien.  He’s wordy, and turgid in places, and he’s confused and a little rambling, but he knows people, and he knows hearts, and I’m always able to find something he’s written that inspires me or seems to fit the moment.  So, it was with the following quote running through my brain, that I sat behind the wheel of our car in Tesco’s car park.

“Forth, and fear no darkness! Arise! Arise, Riders of Theoden! Spears shall be shaken, shields shall be splintered! A sword day… a red day… ere the sun rises!
Ride now!… Ride now!… Ride! Ride to ruin and the world’s ending!
Forth, Eorlingas!”

No just joking, it was the quote at the top of the page.  Samwise, as we all know the true hero of Lord of the Rings, has far too many sensible things to say, and none of us are fooled when he pretends the wisdom comes from his Old Gaffer.

I have started to learn to drive, and I have every intent of seeing it through.  But achieving that means fighting off the demon of self doubt, the heavyweight emotional pillar of my life.  I know that towards the end of the two hour lessons I’m in control of the car and junctions aren’t a problem, but I also know at the start it’s a different story.  I think too much, and I panic, trying to get the hand brake off, the clutch up and the accelerator down in too short a time span.  This leads to random stalling.  I know that to get over that I just need practice, and I know that I had to get into our own car to do that.  But flipping heck it’s hard making yourself do it.  So many excuses, so many reasons not to.

But thanks to my lovely wife and the support of my friends I did just that this evening.  Again, you’re probably thinking ‘man up dude’, but you know, when you learn to drive at 17 you already think you’re immortal, at 42, you know you’re not, and I’m not going to dismiss how hard this is.

However, I got in, Greté drove to Tesco, parked up, we switched seats and I had a tootle around the car park.  As expected, the first few starts were bad and I ended up in a parking bay, at an angle, with the only option to back out into the busiest part of the car park.  This was this evening’s first moment.  I could stop there and then, just ask Greté to drive home, or, I could bite the bullet, be Samwise Gangee and keep trying.

I chose a middle option, asked Greté to move the car somewhere else in the car park, and then I set off again.  Ten start stops later, and I basically decided that only an insane person would ever drive on the actual roads, and since I’m clearly insane, I took a left, a right, and another left, and the car park disappeared in my rear view mirror.

I drove towards our house at first, because that way lies safety.  No major issues with a roundabout on the way, little below the speed limit, and despite a little bit of a hiccough at the roundabout near our street, my confidence was growing.  As we neared our street, this was the second moment, the second precipice, the second point at which I could stop now.  We had something in the car we needed to take to a friend’s house, some 7 miles away from ours, but if I turned right into our street, that would be it.  No delivery, no seeing our friends.

I sailed past.  Something in my head had clicked and I was determined to at least make it half way to our friend’s house under my own power.  Even if I had to stop on the way and let Greté take over, how bad would that be, I thought, it’s still experience.  The primary obstacle to that, is the roundabout I needed to use to leave our town.  It’s often quite busy, and even when not busy it still poses a mental block.  My approach was good, t-junction approach since you can’t see traffic entering from the right until you’re very close, slow stop, handbrake on.  Perfect.  Biting point, ready to go, bit of gas – stall.



There isn’t really a worse place to stall a car on that roundabout.  All the traffic enters from the right and goes pretty much straight on, and off the left.  I had two choices now – I could panic and turn into gibbering jelly, leave the car, crying, and ask Greté to take me home, or I could restart the engine and pull away in a controlled manner.  The third and final moment in this journey.

I wanted so badly to do the former, but managed somehow to do the latter on the first try.  That was a confidence boost.  I’d basically stopped the car on a roundabout from hell, hadn’t panicked and had then recovered.

Compared to that, the rest of the trip was like falling down some stairs, pretty easy all told.  I followed the route I take to work mostly, because I wanted to try it while it wasn’t moving at 2mph, and eventually, without any other major mishaps, we made it to our destination.

Somewhere about half way through the drive, I started just knowing where the biting point was, and at that point, junctions felt easier.  But they’re still not comfortable, I’m still hoping beyond hope every time that the lights will stay green, that the roundabout will be clear without a full stop.  But that fear then drives rushing, and the rushing drives mistakes, and the mistakes drive the fear.  I basically need to just drive everywhere and get used to the fact that I can pull away at a junction, and that I can start the car in the right way.

On the way home, it was dark enough for lights, and by the time we got home, it was pretty dark generally, so I’ve had some practice at that as well.

The sweetest moment of the whole trip was putting the car onto the drive (forwards), first try, without hitting the wall or losing any wing mirrors.  I’m not sure I was in control *quite* enough for everyone’s liking, but I’ll take it.  I never thought in a thousand years I’d be able to put a car on our drive under my own steam.

Maybe, just maybe, I’ll drive to and from work tomorrow.  We’ll see.

On “Hague: Law-abiding Britons have nothing to fear from GCHQ”

This is the quote,

“Law-abiding” citizens have “nothing to fear” from the British intelligence services, the foreign secretary says.

source: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-22832263

I was going to tweet a response to this but it would have been longer than 140 characters.  I’ve seen some people say ‘why is everyone upset about the surveillance, surely we need to protect ourselves’ or words to that effect.  The view that it’s okay for your own government to spy on you, and in this day and age even Facebook knows what we’re doing.

There problem here is that I’m (ultimately) in control of how much I tell Facebook, for example.  The clearest example I can give of that is I don’t use the check-in feature, and I don’t post on Twitter or Facebook if I’m going to be out of the house for a few days.  I’m not in control of what phone companies decide to pass on to the government about me.

So here’s the real crux.  It’s only okay for your government to spy on you without transparency when they are a) beyond reproach and b) immune to fuck-ups.

However, since governments are made up of people, and a percentage of people will always be corrupt and not above reproach, and another percentage will always fuck-up, it is not okay for the government to collect data on all it’s citizens.  There will always be someone prepared to put themselves and money before your safety, there will always be someone who’s not diligent enough to protect you properly.  We should make sure we don’t, as a country, allow people to simply gather as much intelligence as they like, in the hope that they can take care of it properly.

They can’t.  Innocent people will suffer, because there’s not a year goes by in this country without a miscarriage of justice.

Fear of 4 Wheels – Part 6

fozzydrivingIt’s been nine hours since we started this journey.  Nine hours behind the wheel.  Nine hours of traffic jams and stalls.  Nine hours of not knowing where the biting point is.  Nine hours of sweaty armpits and nervous laughs at junctions.  Nine hours of not quite stopping, or stopping too early, or failing to start, or going when the exit isn’t clear.  Nine hours of trying to listen and learn at the same time as controlling a deadly weapon.  Nine hours of getting home with legs like jelly, and feeling so hungry that I could eat the next person who knocks at the door.

After the first lesson, my instructor estimated it would take 25 hours to learn to drive.  (That’s ~£550-£625 worth of lessons if you’re tracking these things).  That means I have roughly 16 hours of this left if I’m going to hit that original guess.  Sixteen hours does not feel like enough time to improve to the point where I won’t be terrified to get into a car with an examiner.  Which means I am going to have to ask Greté to sit with me in our car while I do some more driving.  I can’t see any other way of keeping the cost under £1000 and keeping the time down to something approaching sensible.

If you know my wife, then I urge you – give her solace and comfort over the coming weeks, she’s absolutely going to need it.

My name is Tony, I’m 42, and I’m learning to drive.

I have drunk Coca Cola Zero, consumed food, and watched an episode of CSI, and I’m just about recovered from my two hour driving lesson.  Here then, is this week’s blog post.

I commented to friends at work that at the moment I seem to spend Monday and Tuesday worrying about the upcoming lesson, Wednesday in a state of zombie like stupor, and then Thursday and Friday recovering.  There’s just time for a weekend before the whole process starts again.  Of course, I’m employing a teeny bit of hyperbole (who knew)!  For the most part, I’m okay, but if I stop to think during the week, then I’m either thinking about the lesson that’s coming up or the one that just passed.  I try and make these moments constructive, thinking about POM (prepare, observe, manoeuvre), or MSM (mirror, signal, manoeuvre), or the sequence when coming up to a junction (mirrors, indicate, road position, speed, gears, observation, stall).

I don’t know if it helps.  Last week’s lesson was so good that I was expecting trouble today, and if you go looking for trouble you’re surely going to find it.  The first few manoeuvres were okay, but I got to a painful roundabout not far from here with rush hour traffic and just blew it.  Stalled twice, didn’t go in an obvious gap, and then tried to go a third time and stalled it again.  Eventually I played second fiddle and my instructor used her pedals to get us moving and around the roundabout.  Confidence shot to ribbons, we proceeded on our way.

I can’t decide if I just want the instructor to be quiet as we come to junctions and let me run through the stuff on my own, or if I should trust the fact that she’s taught other people to drive successfully and I should avoid messing with her system.  Now I wonder, briefly, if I should ask if she ever has taught anyone to drive.  Maybe all her students fail?  Now I’m wondering if I want to know that or not.


After a few miles, I got back into the swing of things, and junctions got a bit easier.  I’m drifting right at right turns, which is an automatic fail if you cross the line (I did) and I’m still not looking ahead enough at t-junctions.  There was one minor incident, where I came up to a roundabout (going right), slowed, checked I was clear to enter, and pleased with myself for not stalling, did so.  Sadly, there was an 18 wheel truck also on the roundabout at the same time, coming from the left, known generally as ‘my exit wasn’t clear’.  Known specifically as ‘SHIT! A TRUCK!’.

I slowed, and we didn’t die (much), but it kind of took the edge off the happiness I felt for not stalling.

Despite it being obvious that I can not talk and drive at the same time, my instructor insists on asking questions like, “what’s the speed limit on this road”, to which my normal garbled response translates to 30Idunno50?  Today, after the shocking start, we got to one junction and I asked ‘which way are we headed’?  My mouth was so dry at that moment, that it basically felt like someone had glued it shut.  Hearing yourself mumble, gurgle and splatch your way through the phrase “which way are we headed” is bad enough, but when your instructor says “sorry?” like you’re talking Dutch, it’s another kick in the confidence testicles.

We drove round a bit more, me trying to work some moisture back into my mouth, my instructor trying not to brake for me too often, and then headed over to a Tesco, or an Asda, or maybe a Morrison’s car park.  I tend not to look up from the road much so I’m not entirely certain.  Here, I learned the joys of reverse bay parking.  This seems like it might be useful, if I really wanted to reverse into an open parking bay with absolutely nothing else around me.  I did it three times (to the left) and once (to the right), and nailed it on every go except the first in which I was a bit wide.  I can control the car with the clutch perfectly well, move at painfully slow speeds trying to break my neck looking behind me, but when it comes to pulling away at junctions I continue to try and do it with the handbrake on, or the clutch too far up, or no gas.  Grrr, it’s annoying.

After this, we drove to some poor, unsuspecting street somewhere, and, to the great frustration of everyone who lives on the street (no doubt), learned how to reverse parallel park.  Nailed that 3 times too.

At one stage, while I was sitting alongside a parked car, basically blocking the road in both directions while I made observations (i.e. pretended to look in my mirrors and blind spots), some elderly couple pulled out of their drive and turned to come towards me.  I think I could hear their resigned sigh as they realised what I was doing, and they did a flawless 3 point turn (probably designed to make me feel inadequate), and drove off the other way.  I bet that place bloody loves driving instructors.

However, nailing the parking calmed me down, and pulling away from that and then driving home it was almost pleasant.

fozzydriving2I have decided that I know the basics now.  I’m confident I can stop, I have not once (yet) gone for the accelerator rather than the brake.  So I’m going to go with Greté to the local supermarket, get used to the clutch in our car, and then drive home.  If that seems okay, and if Greté makes it through without wanting to kill me, and I make it through without wanting to hide in shame for the rest of my life, I might try driving to and from work a couple of days a week.

Excellent news I’m sure for everyone who uses the same route I do.

I apologise in advance.