FROM THE brash and obsessive to the airheads and nervous nellies, this is how to spot the many different types of driver on our roads. Which one are you?
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Driving is a very serious business for the Steely-Eyed Helmsman. He’s not the sort of chap to wear driving gloves — that would be stupid — but he does have a special pair of driving shoes and he wears them, along with his Nomex suit and his own crash helmet, whenever he takes his BMW M3 to a track day. Even when not on a circuit, the helmsman’s life is dominated by driving. Or “pedalling” as he sometimes calls it. He’s one of the few people on the road who will go for a drive just for the sake of it. Indeed he can regale people for hours at parties with tales of his favourite routes and his favourite drives. Although, funnily enough, he doesn’t get invited to many parties, largely on account of this very habit.
The Emma’s name is Emma. The “rilly, like, funny thing” is that when Daddy bought the Emma a Mini for her 17th birthday she couldn’t think of any other name for it so she just called the car “Emma” because it, “you know just, like, popped into my head”.
And then, “literally, like, ironically”, barely two years later when she got the job at the estate agency, it gave her a company car that was, you guessed it, a Mini. And two years later she moved to the recruitment consultancy, where she was given a company car that was, “and this is, like, literally so amazing” also a Mini.
She called the second and third Minis “Emma”, just to keep things clear. When the Emma is driving her Emma she’s always on the phone and, although the device is hands-free, so is her driving style and the “rilly, like, funny thing” is that as a consequence she’s always bumping into bollards, lampposts, newsagents and the elderly. But, hey, there’s no need to get, like, totes emosh about it.
Thick-necked, jewellery-heavy and permanently on his phone, the Ne’er-Do-Well believes tracksuit bottoms are perfectly acceptable attire for any time and occasion. He also considers his Range Rover Sport the perfect symbol, not only of how well he is doing but also of how much he would like you to get out of his way — even if “his way” in this instance is to park diagonally across the disabled spaces.
The Ne’er-Do-Well may have a perfectly legitimate business, such as a carpet warehouse or small chain of double-glazing showrooms, but his appearance, his car and his driving all inexorably suggest he is somehow up to no good.
Van drivers are, as we know, lairy and hairy and capable of giving a succinct opinion on your driving ability so loud it’s like sticking your head into a Cockney jet engine. But Corporate Van Man is different. There’s no curly-cornered tabloid on his dashboard, or 50 layers of pasty wrappers and fag ash on his floor and he’s not allowed to drive round shirtless on a hot day because he is contractually obliged to keep his van clean and his company tie neatly knotted around the collar of his short-sleeved shirt.
Likewise his manner on the road must suppress all van-driver urges so as to remain careful, courteous and within the speed limit, all because of that little sticker on the back that asks, “How’s my driving?” His driving is fine. But it’s like watching a bulldog with its bits chopped off.
Oldies remember when all this was fields and streams. In fact, it’s still all fields and streams, only now they’re driving their Honda Jazz through them because they misheard their sat nav. Mr Oldie used to be easy to spot because he wore a hat, but times change and not every befuddled octogenarian now plants a trilby where his hair used to be before getting into the car.
You’ll have to get pretty close before you can see the ear hair hanging down the sides of his head like ivy on an old rectory. Mrs Oldie, meanwhile, favours a driving stance in which her face is precisely 1in from the top of the steering wheel, and the Lord alone knows what would happen if the airbag went off. Although it’s not clear if airbags actually activate when the vehicle speed is below 18mph. Which it is. Always.
The Bag of Nerves can think of nothing worse in the entire world than having to drive a car. Which is unfortunate for them, and indeed for everyone else on the road, because it’s something they have to do regularly. It makes them profoundly miserable as well as a jangling bag of incipient nerve collapse.
The Bag of Nerves is the kind of driver who suddenly jabs on the brakes in panic while travelling at 52mph on a perfectly empty motorway and puts on a 45-minute demonstration of clutch-torturing, high-rev shuffling in order to get into an enormous space in the supermarket car park. The Bag of Nerves only bought their Vauxhall Corsa because the dealer was nearby (and because they know nothing about cars) but really their ideal transport is long, has many seats and is called “a train”.
The Audi company of Ingolstadt, Bavaria, spends many billions of euros to make sure its cars are engineered to the very highest level in every area, from the action of the switches to the precision with which the doors close. The Audi-ist might subconsciously appreciate this but frankly finds it secondary to the more important business of telling the world how bloody successful and brilliant they are.
“Look at me in my well-cut German car with a ruddy great logo on the front,” the Audi-ist thinks. “Look at me being a winner. A four-ringed ruddy winner.” To make everyone else on the road realise that they are inferior, the Audi-ist then attempts to brand the back of the car in front with their Audi logo, usually while in the outside lane of the M4. In truth, the Audi-ist is bad news, unless you are BMW, in which case you heave a sigh of relief that they have found a different make of car to buy.
The Classicist doesn’t have a car; he has “the old girl”. Likewise he does not go for a drive; he goes for “a run” or “a spin”, usually to a country pub, where he can meet up with fellow MGB owners so they can stand round in the car park admiring each other’s engines and discussing gasket leakage for five hours.
“Have you met my wife, Jean?” Eventually the Classicist will “guide” the old girl home so he can get straight onto the owners’ club online forum to talk some more about distributor caps while Jean gets the dinner on. That is assuming the old girl didn’t break down on the way back from the pub, something the Classicist secretly hopes will happen so he can get under the bonnet and have another fiddle. I should be so lucky, sighs Jean.