I used to be quite a good driver back in Brussels. I could park on a postage stamp (you had to – parking there is a blood sport), I could nip and tuck through the traffic with surgical precision, and I scarcely ever got a scratch on my car. But here in Blighty – thank goodness for car insurance is all I can say. My wing mirrors have more scars than Bear Grylls. My back bumper has been replaced. Twice. And, last New Year’s Day, my car was keyed. All the way round.
I don’t know whether it’s the general level of aggression in London, or whether it’s because I found it easier on the other side of the road, but at times I feel like a learner again. In our old street in Belgium, there was hardly a centimetre to park in, but I managed it, day after day. Here, we have residents’ parking (which is annoying in a whole different way) and there are often great sweeps of spaces available. I always try and straighten up the car and I don’t take up more than one space. But often, when I get out, I see that I have parked in a way which would disgrace most drunks. It’s often a good taxi-ride’s distance to the curb, and the car will frequently be at a jaunty angle to the street. What’s happened there?
I think it’s probably just a case of forgetting skills you no longer need, which in a way is quite a sensible use of brain power. I would be no good to anyone if my brain cells were spread too thinly. So I’m just spring cleaning my cranial capacity. I no longer need to precision-park – so I can’t.
That’s all well and good, as long as one is cramming new knowlege in to fill the gap where those parking skills used to nestle. And that’s the bit I’m not quite so sure about. Can I do anything now that I couldn’t do before? Erm …. I’ll have to think about that one!