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‘For the first time in 25 years, I’m learning to drive again — and I can almost taste the freedom’

Tanya Sweeney


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'I can just about taste sweet, delicious freedom of driving. It’s right there, on the tip of my tongue.'

'I can just about taste sweet, delicious freedom of driving. It’s right there, on the tip of my tongue.'

'I can just about taste sweet, delicious freedom of driving. It’s right there, on the tip of my tongue.'

In some ways, it was just — to borrow a cliché — like riding a bike. Turns out that if you haven’t sat behind the wheel of a car in two decades, your body sort of remembers what to do. Muscle memory kicked in, and I soon found myself grabbing for handbrakes that no longer existed, and pumping brakes that had gotten a lot more sensitive since I last used them (something to do with computers, I was informed). Car keys also seem to have been left in the last century. I didn’t know that, but then, why would I?

The driving instructor takes a look at my provisional licence. “Blimey, what have you been at?” he says, glancing at my date of birth. “You’re only a couple of years younger than me.”

It was my first driving lesson in a quarter-century, although I learned to drive at the age of 14: a friend had a battered-up old banger that we used to drive around the fields of Meath while her younger siblings screeched and rattled around in the back. A year later, my father took me to Ballyfermot, where I spent Sunday afternoons doing three-point turns in deserted industrial estates. It being the 1990s, it was possible to pootle about on a second provisional licence and still legally drive, as an unaccompanied driver. Which is exactly what I did. From family trips to Donegal to college commutes down the dual carriageway, I did them all.


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