top of page
  • Writer's pictureKiri Self

Kiri Learns To Drive!

I can't believe I'm writing this - I am learning to drive!!!


I know, I know - I'm 41 years old - how have I not ever learnt yet?!? As obviously I'm such a fully functioning adult in every other respect 😍😊😆


Well - I never really needed to. I've lived in London for 20 years and having a car there is more hassle than not. But now, I live in the countryside ("bum fuck nowhere" as one of my gorgeous friends calls it 😆😆) by the sea, and I really need to be able to drive to regain my independence.


Like every other resource down here though lessons are in very short supply, and so they are therefore ridiculously expensive and much rarer than hens teeth. Having emerged from the last few years without a brass farthing to my name I'm reliant on the government and on the kindness of friends and family to make life work right now. And boy - some friends are worth more than their weight in gold. Not only did my cheerleading squad turn up from London to come see my recent exhibition (which I promise to do a full post on v v soon) and between them, J, and the village hall, magicked up an event out of thin air, but another friend from way back when in my LSE days got in touch with a crazy offer. A completely crazy, selfless, kind, amazing offer.


He volunteered to drive all the way from Kent to come down and teach me how to drive.


You what now?


I hadn't seen him for at least 12 years!



John Nicholson is the founder and CEO of The Community Driving School - the very first Community Interest Company not-for-profit Driving School in the world.


"Formed in 2016 by director, John Nicholson, the aim of the Community Driving School (CDS) is to allow those on a low wage, unemployed, young carers and students access to jobs previously beyond them and discourage people from driving illegally by accessing funds to assist pay for lessons and obtain a valid UK Driving Licence."

Each client accepted onto the course of lessons receives one hour of driving lessons in return for every hour of volunteering work in the local community supported by their partners. This completely unique model allows people access to a UK driving licence and all of the associated life changing benefits that this brings.



So - why did he decide to come down here, and what spurred that offer?


John and I knew each other a very long time ago, in both of our previous lives in the City. He worked at the London Stock Exchange and I worked at one of its member firms (NYFIX for those in the know..!) John worked in member services and was my designated contact point. We hit it off and became friends - it is worth pointing out that he is one of the few people from that time period that never made me feel uncomfortable or hit on me in any way whatsoever. We had a lunch together in the LSE canteen one day and I told John a little of my childhood. He remembers feeling that there was something not quite right with me - a vulnerability and brokenness that he sensed beneath my outwardly confident exterior.


Fast forward a few years and we lost touch - in part because John left the City having survived a suicide attempt. He retrained as a driving instructor and discovered a passionate desire to help those who are less fortunate to be able to access driving lessons, and the concept of the Community Driving School was born.





I, in the meantime, suffered my own (well documented on here) mental breakdowns and breakthroughs, and moved to start my own new life.


John and I reconnected on LinkedIn and I shared with him my blog - I had been touched by his own openness to talk about his struggles with mental health and suicide and I had let him know that. In turn, John read my posts and was particularly deeply affected by the issues of my early life at the hands of all sorts of kinds of bullies and predators.


In our own words...


John Nicholson (Social Entrepreneur)

"Hello again Kiri. Wow, you truly are an inspiring person. Your journey has had me thinking so much abut my own life path. Your bravery is beyond words and I will be speaking with some of the pupils I teach about your blog. Some of them suffered sexual abuse by their parents from as young as 6 years old. They have gone into abusive relationships and are only now seeking a way through life. What I do to help them is give them a chance in life through learning to drive. It is a life skill which cannot be taken from them. They gain confidence in themselves when they achieve something as simple as moving the car. Changing career was the single best thing that happened to me. Yes, it almost cost me my life, but I would do it again in a heartbeat to be where I am now in this world."


"What you do is incredible! Do you know, I’ve never learned to drive yet. Kind of terrified of the prospect. If anyone wants to connect with me please do feel free to give them my details. It’s only by exposing our inner hurts and shame to others that the power of them is taken away."


John Nicholson (Social Entrepreneur)

"Maybe we should correct that then. I'll come down to Cornwall for a week or so and we can get you taught. We can write about the experience. Honestly, I am so in awe of you. I am still crying... Life can be a shit sometimes, but like you say writing/talking about the hurt we suffered makes more invulnerable to the past."


And that was it. A plan was born. He came down here on Monday, and in between many naps I have slowly been learning to drive. It's such an incredibly empowering thing to do - much like art it was always one of those things that I told myself I couldn't do.



It turns out, I can do it. I really can. But only with a ridiculous amount of swearing, and a rebrand of the accelerator pedal to be the "shit-fuck" pedal.


We did decide that learning on an automatic would be a better idea for me though - one of the strange aspects of neurodiversity is that we have a more difficult time processing sensory information than most people do -


"Sensory Processing refers to the way our nervous system receives messages from the senses and responds to those messages. Neurodivergent people who have a difficult time processing this sensory information essentially have a neurological traffic jam that prevents certain parts of the brain from receiving the information they need to interpret sensory information correctly. These difficulties lie on a spectrum with some people having severe difficulties while others are more mild." What is Sensory Processing - Parenting the Neurodiverse



And, I haven't actually crashed yet despite my best attempts, so there is that.


If this tale has inspired you in any way - please please do consider donating to or sponsoring the fabulous work that John does. It's a truly unique and amazing thing that he has set up and it needs your help to keep expanding and reaching more people.



And if you want to buy me a car then I do love Aston Martins. 😆😆 (JOKE. I don't think they do automatics.)


And never forget the story of the girl on the beach, and the starfish.


"A young girl was walking along a beach upon which thousands of starfish had been washed up during a terrible storm. When she came to each starfish, she would pick it up, and throw it back into the ocean. People watched her with amusement. She had been doing this for some time when a man approached her and said, “Little girl, why are you doing this? Look at this beach! You can’t save all these starfish. You can’t begin to make a difference!” The girl seemed crushed, suddenly deflated. But after a few moments, she bent down, picked up another starfish, and hurled it as far as she could into the ocean. Then she looked up at the man and replied,
“Well, I made a difference for that one!”
The old man looked at the girl inquisitively and thought about what she had done and said. Inspired, he joined the little girl in throwing starfish back into the sea. Soon others joined, and all the starfish were saved. "

Comments

Rated 0 out of 5 stars.
No ratings yet

Add a rating
bottom of page