I only started driving lessons because of comedy – before that, there’s be no need. There was a bus from where I lived to where I worked and I had a very obliging, mobile sister. I did once go out with a nice bloke because he drove (he was nice, too, but not nice). Not because I was impressed by is dad’s Volvo, but because it meant I could get home from the art-house cinema in Newcastle. Art is my reason for using a man. Judge me. I dare you. ART.
Being a comedian is harder if you can’t drive. You can’t take last-minute gigs as easily, because the on-the-day train ticket is your whole fee, if not more. Getting a lift off someone you’ve never met is normal, but still odd. What if they’re a bad driver, or smell, or don’t like Heart FM?
I learnt to drive via three instructors, in two different towns over two years. I passed the second time. The first time I drove into oncoming traffic. That’s bad, as I found out. The second time, I chatted all the way around, super-confident and a good driver. I passed.
Since then I’ve driven between 20,000 and 50,000 miles a year for the past six years. I have no points, have contested two parking tickets, and have been pulled over by police three times – once for a taking a junction incorrectly, once for having my fog lights on (I didn’t and argued) and once to tell me to get out of the way because criminals were in front of me (how exciting).
So therefore I get incredibly annoyed when I see people in films and on telly not concentrating when “driving”. Yes, I know it’s magic and they’re really on the back of a truck with a faceful of cameramen, but any time an actor is looking at his or her passenger too much, I assume they’re all going to die. And am annoyed when they don’t. I have seen Sleepless in Seattle more often than I’ve seen some of my family members, but when Meg Ryan is listening to Tom Hanks on the wireless while driving, she does not look at the road once. Wistful Middle Distance the whole time. Wistful Middle Distance driving is a shortcut to dead. What did I learn from that film? Not that there is someone out there for everyone. Not that radio phone-in shows can be an unexpected route to love. Not that Tom Hanks is the only man who can rock a bubble perm. I learnt that Meg Ryan is a bad, BAD driver. I hope she’s better now.
I hope she’s learnt from Downton’s Matthew, who was so happy about the birth of his son and so full of love for his wife that he drove his car while looking up at the sky. DEAD. As he should be. I loved him, but the man drove like an idiot.
Biscuits on the brain
I’m really enjoying ITV’s Weight Loss Ward. Amazing stories, plus North East accents. My favourite bit was when one inspiring fella described to his children the holes made in his stomach during his operation: “about the size of a Jammie Dodger”. His brain was on the fast-track to health, but his heart was still in the biscuit tin.
The Sarah Millican Television Programme — Best of Series 1 & 2 is available on DVD at radiotimes.com/dvdshop.