I used to play rugby, now I watch it. I support a football team. I have trekked in four continents. I have run a respectable marathon. I have sired two children. Beer and whiskey are my preferred tipples. I have no problems with either capitalism or nature being red in tooth and claw. There is more to show that I happily enjoy many of the cultural characteristics of masculinity in our culture.
But I I don’t drive. Why is this?
I have always lived in London which means driving is neither compulsory or desirable. My family was not one who saw cars as anything more than a convenience-certainly not a desirable status symbol. So no teen age longing for “wheels”. University in the 60s was not only anti consumerist but most were too poor to have cars. So I entered my mid twenties not having learnt to drive.
Then I met and started,as the Americans so quaintly put it,dating Vivien. She comes from an outer suburb family where cars are treated not only as necessities but status symbols. So she drove from an early age. Under her auspices I learnt to drive. Even crashing her company car in the process. At the fourth attempt aged about 33 I passed my test.
Then we had a period where we shared the driving. It was not to last long. Coming back from an afternoon’s drinking and dope smoking I wrote off a car coming the other way. Luckily a policeman was just behind me. My licence was lost for a year.
In that year Vivien decided that I was not a fit and proper person to drive. After a few attempts at sharing the driving much to her discomfort-did you see that light, why didn’t you indicate, why are you in third, going so fast/slow etc- I gave up if she was in the car. She didn’t ,mind me ferrying the children but she couldn’t stand being my passenger. You dont have to be Sigmund to work it out.
So I did less driving. I still live in London.It was never in my DNA any way. I cycle as much as 100 miles a week.Most of my other destinations I reach by public transport or expensive taxis. But I drove less and less ,lack of practice did not improve my skills,until I have suddenly realised over the last year I haven’t driven at all. Pussy whipped, perhaps , lazy, certainly. Practical,maybe. Ahead of the game,of course.
Statistics show that when partners drive together men are four times more likely to take the wheel. Vivien is exceptional in that most women feel uncomfortable when their partner is a passenger and not driving. She doesn’t really feel comfortable when any one else is driving. Even in 90 per cent of household where they consider themselves “ feminists” the man does the driving. Except of course on party nights when the women drives home. One of my lines which has a shadow of truth is faced with the choice between drinking and driving I found it a no brainer.
The statistics come from a 2010 survey carried out by the Institute of Advanced Motorists.