I PASSED my driving test first time when I was 18. This did not make me Nigel Mansell.

In fact, according to research those who pass second time apparently fare better when it comes to driving safely and considerately. They are less likely to drive at a snail’s pace, whilst those who need six goes or more goes to gain their licence are more likely to clip a car and not own up.

A mixture of good fortune on test day and the confidence of youth combined with the right amount of tuition led to me chocking off one of life’s milestones before university hardship rendered lessons impossible.

Passing my test gave me the chance to escape to ‘the town’ (Fort William) in my father’s Volvo that had a handbrake that took all my strength to release it and no power steering but never once let me down.

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Then I moved to Glasgow and rarely drove again. My paper licence lay dog-eared in a storage box with the graduation photographs. Why would I need to? I had everything on my doorstep, a decent public transport network and two legs.

As the years moved on, there was still no real need to drive. Yes, it would have been handy for my job as a reporter but in those days we had a designated driver who could get you anywhere in what seemed like seconds. After that I cadged lifts with the press photographers which was a good opportunity to chat through whatever story lay ahead. Grocery shopping was a trachle but then came online deliveries.

Fast forward 25 years from my test and family circumstances dictate that it would be helpful to have a car.


After staring at the same street view for months, it would also be nice to have the freedom to zip off somewhere greener than Glasgow on a whim. And surely getting my first car at 45 means I can enjoy it slightly less guiltily in carbon footprint terms? My need for a car has nothing to do with Covid-related public transport fears: I have no daily commute.

But there is the small matter of getting back behind the wheel and after 20 plus years as a passenger and no city driving experience, it’s a daunting prospect.

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Ignoring my brother’s recommendations to get a Volkswagen Golf (reliability and re-sale value, he said) I pick the cheeriest car I can find – a bright red second-hand Mini Cooper. I’ve nicknamed it FUF because of the registration plate.

A handful of refresher lessons helped prepare me for the relentless city traffic and I may take a couple more in my new wheels to fine-tune manoeuvres and motorway skills.

In the meantime, if you spot a cautious driver in a chilli red mini with a P on the boot, don’t beep – I’ll think I’ve done something wrong – just give me a friendly wave or better still, right of way on a tight uphill.