I don't mind driving. In fact it can be quite pleasurable being in my own little bubble, listening to some music. Years ago when I lived in Auckland, and petrol prices were less of a concern, I'd often go for a long drive up north at the weekend. On my own. And that's the thing. As soon as I have passengers, driving becomes scary as all hell. What little sense of direction I have flies out the window and I become hyper-aware of every gear change and lane change. Will she think I'm too cautious? Too reckless? Too goddamn incompetent? I look in the rear-view mirror to see the expression on her face. If I'm by myself nobody's going to know if I've taken a wrong turn so the prospect doesn't bother me. I can relax, which means I can concentrate on the road. But when I've got passengers that all changes to the point where my judgement is impaired and I'm probably a danger to other road users. With certain people (like my parents, or someone like Martin who doesn't drive yet) it's not so bad, but with most people I can feel the pressure ratcheting up about ten notches. And that's what I felt yesterday as I took people the short distance to Happy Valley Road for the start of our tramp at Te Kopahou Reserve.
Instead of marvelling at the scenery I spent the first two hours of the tramp wondering if I can somehow get over this fear of driving with other people. It isn't completely irrational (if I had to guess, I'd say I'm five times more likely to have an accident in a car full of people than on my own). It's just as well we had the tramp yesterday and not today - it's seriously nasty out there now. Yesterday there wasn't much wind and only a light shower, but the low cloud made things very atmospheric. We started off on the Tip Track (so called because it overlooks the landfill site), walking past that slightly ridiculous castle. We then passed what looks like a giant football (made up of pentagonal and hexagonal panels) and is actually a radar station that keeps track of planes. That's what they tell us anyway. Next week we'll probably find out that it's used by GCSB for something more sinister. I struggle to remember much after that. There were some impressive views for sure (when the cloud didn't restrict them), but I was feeling a bit down and having a hard time taking much in. Some of the tracks were fairly steep but overall the trip was just at the right level for me. Today I was feeling the benefits of all that exertion without being put completely out of commission.
After the tramp I had a nice hot shower and popped over to my cousin's for dinner. She had a friend over; we listened to my cousin rehearse a presentation about patents and trade marks that she was due to make tomorrow for the University of the Third Age in Timaru. The talk lasted an hour but it was interesting; she'd made a good job of cutting out the legalese. Today's ghastly weather meant that all planes (and ferries) have been grounded in Wellington and her talk has been postponed till October. I braved the elements enough to make it to the market, then braved Julie this afternoon. She's a bit more positive now that's she's got a new doctor.
The driving-with-passengers-is-scary thing is really just a manifestation of my general doing-anything-with-anybody-is-scary thing. I wish there was a cure. Perhaps doing it more often would help. Maybe a flatmate would help; the extra income certainly wouldn't do me any harm.
The Phoenix Foundation are a very good band from Wellington. I had no idea they'd hit the big time in the UK, but a year ago Buffalo got some serious airplay on BBC 6 Music. I wonder why that particular song was "the one". That station nearly closed down; when I was over there in 2010 there was a big campaign to save it. I notice Cerys Matthews is hosting a programme right now. She's Welsh and was lead singer of Catatonia in the late nineties. She couldn't really sing but I liked the band anyway and have two of their albums.