Jeremy Watson: 'Cue yanking of steering wheel and a lively exchange'

YOU don't have to go to a theme park to get a thrill ride. Just take a teenage learner driver for a spin. The effect is much the same. Disorientation, a growing fear in the pit of the stomach, nausea, dizziness and the whitest of white knuckles.

Readers of this column may remember Daughter No 1 abandoning me outside Harvey Nichols at the end of a particularly harrowing journey along Edinburgh's George Street. It's obviously genetic, and from their mother's side. The words "write off" and "Mrs Watson" have been linked more than once in her driving career.

No 2 is now 17 and armed and dangerous with a provisional driving licence. Wisely, she chose to take instruction from a professional before heading out with her ma and pa and, perhaps unwisely, after a few moments in a car with dual controls, he described her as a "natural".

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So she immediately insisted she drive to her job as a volunteer at a local hospice, a few hundred yards from home. A casualty department would have been a more appropriate destination.

L-plates secured and my left hand tight to the door handle, we lurched up the drive. Unfortunately, getting out of the drive involves turning right across the traffic stream. As she steamed towards the road I, regrettably, felt she was about to merge rather too quickly with the traffic stream and yanked the hand-brake on. Cue a lively father-daughter exchange of views.

Traffic stream, perhaps entranced by what was going on, did the decent, but very foolish thing. It stopped to let us complete the right turn and go merrily on down the road. But No 2 was a little enthusiastic with the turning and traffic stream suddenly lost the smile on its face. Cue yanking of steering wheel to the left and another lively father-daughter verbal exchange.

We then proceeded in a straight line in first gear and stony silence. We went up to second, then third and all seemed well with. At last, I thought, I'm getting the hand of this driving instruction lark. Just one problem remained: turning left into the hospice driveway. Down into second for the corner, I urged. The blank expression on her face indicated she hadn't heard me. "Down into sec... oh bloody hell just turn will you." We took it in third, ending up diagonal to the kerb, and came to a crunching halt. Just like her sister, No 2 got out and wandered nonchalantly off without a word. I just sat there waiting for my bowels to stop moving.

There are laws against many things in this country, some sound, some ridiculous. But could the legislators please make it an offence for teenagers to accept driving lessons from their parents. Not for their sake, for ours.

• This article was first published in The Scotland on Sunday, April 18, 2010