In the driving seat

PHOTO : DAVID HURST'Chorley Guardian columnist Josh Vosper with AST driving instructor Stuart Taylor
PHOTO : DAVID HURST'Chorley Guardian columnist Josh Vosper with AST driving instructor Stuart Taylor
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The Guardian’s Josh Vosper goes through a rollercoaster of emotions, as he gets behind the wheels for the first time...

Heard the one about the photographer who couldn’t drive?

If it sounds like a joke then I’m the punchline!

As a 21-year-old non-driver I have an unhealthy interest in public transport and particularly their timetables. I don’t know why, but I’ve never learnt to drive.

I studied for photography at college for three years but never got round to grabbing my L-plates and learning to drive.

Then I started taking pictures for the Chorley and Leyland Guardian and realised that being a photographer was the job for me.

I covered Chorley FC home and away and relied on the supporters’ bus to get me to exotic locations like Prescot Cables and Durham.

Then the editor offered me the chance to come into the office for some hands-on work experience.

Then the phone rang. There’s been a fire and we need a photographer.

I grabbed my jacket and my camera. “Anyone give me a lift?” is the last thing I said as I headed to the door.

That’s the thing with wanting to be a photographer. A photographer without transport is like a butcher without any meat.

It’s the reason why I’m today sitting with driving instructor Stuart Taylor, of AST Driving School. There are all sorts of thoughts going through my mind. I’m anxious, nervous, apprehensive, eager and excited all at the same time.

I’ve never been really good at co-ordination so steering a car was always going to be a challenge for me.

I’d warned my friends and family to avoid the roads of Chorley on Monday morning but now the only thing stopping me from hitting the open road was Stuart.

This was my moment of truth. My tummy was doing somersaults and I wasn’t even hungry.

Stuart immediately put me at ease.

He showed me how to check my mirrors, position my seat correctly, how to indicate.

Such actions are basics for most people but for me it was unchartered territory.

After an hour I felt good and everything seemed fairly straightforward – then I had to turn the engine on.

I heard a big roar and my heart skipped a beat.

I felt more like CS Lewis than Lewis Hamilton but I was determined this story would have a happy ending.

Trying to find the ‘biting point’ was harder than I first thought.

After pulling the handbrake up, going into first gear and pressing on the clutch and accelerator I was away.

It took me a few seconds to realise I was in control, I was actually driving this machine.

It seemed fairly straight forward on an empty road, no traffic or pressure, just me and my instructor Stuart.

After he told me to pull over, I went again, this time over a roundabout.

After I had gone round, I got too excited and stalled by trying to pull over.

Needless to say there were several more mishaps along the way – and I’ll be sharing them with the Guardian’s readers.

Bring it on!!!!

- Stuart Taylor runs AST Driving School. They can be contacted at 0800 310 2479 / 07840 028 905 /