Uphill struggle: life in the slow lane

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The Independent Culture
Pity the driving instructor. Not only does he have to risk life and limb on a daily basis, he has to do it with the kind of jokey blasness that instills confidence in the frightened rabbit tucked in behind the wheel. My driving instructor, 55 if he was a day, did this by wearing nothing but black and engaging me in conversation about heavy metal bands. As I also wore nothing but black at the time this worked, and I passed first time.

Not so the pupils taking a "Crash Course", in Short Stories (8pm C4) at an intensive driving school in Malvern. These poor lambs have reached a pitch of desperation that has driven them to a week's stay in a bed and breakfast and non-stop, all-day practice leading to a test. Geraldine Shooman has been driving for 25 years, taken 11 tests and still hasn't learned not to stick her tongue out while going around corners. "Remember the business policy," says Ron, the boss at the briefing session, "No laughing at the pupils."

Watching these poor souls is a surprisingly emotive experience, probably because it's something most of us have been through: bumping on the kerb of a roundabout, forming the front of a beeping queue at an uphill junction, driving round the backstreets with a totally silent man in the car. But at least most of us don't have to spend our lives approaching roundabouts asking the driver what they see and receiving the reply: "Daffodils".