Last summer I went on holiday with some friends I used to work with back in Dublin (some of whom I’m lucky enough still to work with in London). We rented a villa in Sicily, and a few cars to ferry the 11 of us around the island. It was while being chauffeured around the Italian countryside that I reflected on my inability to repay the favour being paid to me by my friends in the drivers’ seats.
So, despite living in the centre of Europe’s largest metropolis, with a public transport system to rival anywhere else in the world—as well as parking spaces that cost as much as a small apartment to rent—I resolved to finally acquire a licence to drive.
I did start learning when I lived in Ireland, before I moved to Dublin. I passed the theory test, got a provisional licence and had a few paid lessons and a few ad-hoc ones. But when I moved to Dublin I no longer had access to a car. And living five minutes’ walk from my office made it less pressing. Moving from there to London only made me less inclined to get driving.
Now that I’ve been in London for more than two years I’m starting to realize the potential benefits of driving. I’d be less restricted on holidays, like I said. I’d also gain a lot of freedom on work trips—many places, in the USA especially, are pretty hard to survive in without a car. And I could see a lot more of my adoptive home if I wasn’t restricted to places near a train station. In the time I’ve been here I’ve left London by plane far more often than by any other means of transport, and I’ve seen little if any of England outside of the major cities.
So it all added up to a decision that 2012 would be the year I would get my licence. On January 1 I requested the forms I need to apply for a provisional licence. All I need now is a passport size photo and a stretch of four weeks or so during which I won’t need my passport, as I’m required to send that in along with the application. Oh, and then I just have to actually learn, and pass the test.