Thursday, 18 August 2011

An unexpected pleasure.

The day before yesterday, I got an email out of the blue. It came from a German woman who is working in Wallasey. She's going back to Germany shortly, but before she goes, she wanted to drive on English roads, so that if in the future she had to do so, she would have the knowledge and the confidence to do so.

So that's what I did for two hours yesterday morning. Something different to the run-of-the-mill stuff. Her English was good enough to get by mainly, and I was careful in both choice and delivery of my words.

She called roundabouts "circles" and roadsigns, "Shields". Whether these are the german words, or the english translations I'm not sure.

What she found hardest to get to grips with (literally) was using her left hand to change gear. The pedals are in the same order regardless of which side of the road you drive on, but when you drive on the right, the gearstick is on your right. She quickly got the hang of this, and what initially promised to be a difficult session turned into a free-flowing drive that covered everything from tight residential streets, via twisty country lanes, to motorway driving. She finished the lesson with a big smile on her face.

One challenge for me was to concentrate on stuff that mattered (making sure she could work out where to put herself, making sure she knew where to look, giving her time space and practice in the physical act of driving from an unfamiliar position) and ignoring things that didn't really matter too much, such as whether she used push pull steering, or was occasionally coasting.

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