Friday, 14 November 2014

Not so 'dear' young man

Dear, not so dear, young man

It has now been almost four weeks since the accident. Four weeks since the day that you caused the one thing to happen that I have always worried would but had been assured, couldn’t, happen to me. I never wanted to learn to drive. I used to tell my mum and dad that I would happily live my life via public transport, walking and cycling as long as I never had to drive one of those terrifying contraptions they call a car. I used to say I would live in a city where it wasn’t necessary or encouraged, to own a car. Anyway, I would be much healthier without one, wouldn’t I mum? All that walking and cycling would be very good for weight loss and…but no. ‘Driving is so useful. Even if you plan never to use it, it’s such a good skill to have’. My argument died. Lessons started a couple of months after I turned 17.

I’ve never been a confident learner. I am happy in the knowledge that I, myself, can drive. That’s not my problem. The problems start when I start to think about all the other idiots on the road. Idiots like you. I managed to get so far with my lessons. In fact, the day you crashed into me, mum had been commenting only moments before on how much better I was getting. How much more confident I was on the road. The annoying thing was, she was right! For the first time, I was feeling confident. I was feeling happy behind the wheel. Able to enjoy the Magic radio station I love to listen to and chat to mum while making my way home from the weekly shop. I felt confident driving up that hill, even though I’ve never liked it. There’s just way too many corners, you know? I mean why is that necessary? I shouldn’t talk about that too much though. I mean, I wouldn’t want to give you another way of trying to remove the blame for what happened from yourself. That is, besides your attempts at blaming the wet leaves that so annoyingly got in your way on the road (urgh! Why would nature do that to you when you’re trying to be a cool kid and drive fast round a corner!!! Sooo unfair!) and of course, the most hilarious scape-goat, Karma…good ol’ Karma at it again. Because, as we all know it’s Karma that causes car crashes when people drive too fast and subsequently skid…nothing to do with the driver’s inability to drive safely.

Anyway, as I was saying, I really do dislike that road. I always have, however that day, I was feeling reasonably confident. Happy, as I pottered up the hill at a gentle 27ish mph. So that would be the day you chose to take the car out. The day you chose to jump in the car, a week after passing your test, pick up as much speed as possible and hurtle round that corner. Neither my mum nor I knew what had hit us, literally. One minute mum was talking about her new inability to look at her phone in the car. The next I was, apparently, shouting something rude that should not be repeated publicly, and then there was a bang. I don’t really want to go into details but it was terrifying. I remember just sitting there shaking and crying that ‘my nose is broken. I’ve broken my nose!’. Mum had to eventually tell me to ‘GET OUT OF THE CAR! THE ENGINE IS ON FIRE!’ I don’t think I was aware of that horrific result the impact had caused, but I feel that even if I had known, I probably still wouldn’t have moved. I was so shocked. So completely baffled as to how one minute we could have been moving and now we were still, my head throbbing and my nose aching. You’re lucky I could just get out of the car. You’re even luckier that we had that lovely man behind us able to help mum out when her door wouldn’t open. You’re lucky all three of us are alive. That’s all I can say. It could have very easily been a different story.

I’m glad I didn’t see you at the scene. Although I’m not sure I would have done anything if I had. I was too busy asking for my daddy. I kept repeating ‘I want my daddy, I want my daddy’. Mum kept asking for our bags to be rescued and ‘Where are my glasses??’. It was almost as if we hadn’t quite absorbed what had happened. We were told that was normal though. By the off-duty police officer who moved us to the side of the road, the lady that let me use her mobile to call dad and sat with us in the police car while we waited for the ambulance, and the paramedic. All such lovely people. People that helped us in every way possible. People that assured me that there was absolutely nothing I could have done. Apparently anyone who’d been in the position of our car would have suffered the same. You were out of control. Going backwards. In case you’re wondering, that’s not the way we drive in this country. We drive safely and preferably forwards.

I suppose that’s what I could have told you as I sat opposite you for a good hour in A&E. While you sat there texting your mates on your unscathed phone in your apparently completely unscathed physical and emotional state. Did you once even think of looking at me, and eventually, mum? Did you ever wonder whether you should say something? Ask how we were perhaps? Looking at you, it didn’t look like the thought even crossed your mind. More surprisingly, it didn’t seem to cross the minds of your mother or girlfriend either. As they came swooping round the corner gushing about how sorry they were this had happened to you. How you shouldn’t worry because these things happen. I must admit that this did mean I was almost smug when your girlfriend burst into tears crying that she couldn’t ‘sit and look at that woman anymore’ indicating my mum. My poor mum, clutching her shoulder, later declared to be a broken collar bone (just one of her many injuries), and crying. Yet even then, you could only muster a ‘what’s wrong with her’ as you watched your girlfriend run off. You left your mum to deal with her while we had to continue sitting there, watching your uncaring, unapologetic face waiting to be given the all clear so you could just go home. Back to your little life at the top of Harts Hill as if nothing had happened.

You know I’ve looked you up on Facebook. Oh the miracles of social networking. I mean, I couldn’t see everything. Yet that almost makes it more dreadful that within the small snippets of your life that I could see were three or four posts from friends or family congratulating you on passing your driving test. They told you how proud they were and one even told you to drive safely. Oh, the irony. More recently, when I looked at your page, I saw a photo you’d posted of what looks like your new car. If it is, then I don’t know what to say. To you that day 4 weeks ago may have been just that. A day in your lifetime. One single day. One that you can now forget about and move on from. You may feel that all it was was an irritation. Oh dear, poor boy needs to buy a new car. How annoying. Well, it wasn’t for us. For me it was a knock in my new-found confidence in driving. It has stopped mum and I being able to watch anything on television where a car crash or speeding cars are involved. It has made mum dependent on everyone else for a while. That may sound fun to some, but you don’t know my mum. She’s an independent woman.

You know what though, I’m writing this letter to let you know I’m not going to let your silly mistake control me. Two weeks after the crash, I got back in my driving instructors car and drove down and up Harts Hill. Yesterday I spent two hours in his car driving from Newbury to Reading and on Tuesday I am going to take my driving test. Do you know what I’m going to do when I pass. When I’ve got a car and I’m able to go out for the first time, perhaps just down the road to get some milk. I’m going to drive safely. I’m going to follow the rules of the road. I’m going to note the weather and the road conditions. I’m going to take my time. In the way I have done since the first day I sat in a car.

So, young man, I hope that I’ve made myself clear. I hope I have illustrated just what you’re stupidity did to two strangers that you probably haven’t thought about once since the day you changed our lives. More importantly, now you’ve got this new car, I hope that you drive safely. 

You know, now that you’ve seen the damage you can cause.

Safe driving young man.

P.S. Here's a memento of the occasion we shared...enjoy:


  1. I wish I could get my anger about this off my chest so eloquently. You are a brave girl and we are very proud of your determination to put this behind you.

  2. What a horrible experience, Ellie-may, and how eloquently you address it. I salute your courage in the face of what happened, and your keen ability to write about it in such a compelling and compassionate way.

    Love from Your American Aunt, Elayne