Driving Edinburgh commuters up the wall

By | 28 July, 2009

Regular readers will remember that at the ripe old age of 32 I’m currently learning to drive. To have left it so late is sad, I know. Anyway, I thought I would give you a quick update as to how I’m doing – because I know you’re all just dying to know.

Well, it’s all going pretty swimmingly. My instructor, Rab, and I have been spending the evenings tootling around every side-street and main road in Edinburgh – going through seemingly every combination of roundabout, complicated junction and difficult narrow road that seems to exist in Edinburgh. Where the hell do all these difficult roads come from? I’ve never noticed them before.

I’ve now got everything sorted aside from clutch control (I’m learning in an manual drive car – non of this automatic gear malarkey for me!) so I’m pleased to report I’ve stalled at pretty much every one of the junctions mentioned above and have consequently held up Edinburgh’s traffic to a significant degree. I’m very proud of this.

Last Thursday I also passed my theory test. For those outside the UK, this is a written test which quizzes you on what roads signs mean, what you should do in an accident and how to avoid skids, etc., etc. The second part is a series of 14 videos taken from a driver’s point of view and you have to click when you see a developing hazard. All in all it’s quite good fun; but I was disappointed to get only 49/50 on the first section – I wanted to show off with a cool 50/50.

Anyway, back to the proper driving. The diabetes seems to be behaving itself well enough and hasn’t caused any problems. However, Rab told me the story of a diabetic ex-pupil of his – for the benefit of this post let’s call him Angus.

As part of his usual running commentary Rab asked Angus to turn left at a major junction. However, Angus didn’t move into the left lane or indeed look like he was going to turn, so Rab asked him again. No response. Rab shouted – again no response. He looked over to see his student’s eyes were completely glazed over, sweat pouring off him and he was clearly having a severe hypo and was completely out of it. While in control of one tonne of rapidly moving car.

Thank heavens for duel-controls – Rab was able to stop the car, shove some sugar down Angus’ throat and drive him home. The pupil’s wife opened the door and shouted “not again! You really need to get your sugars right before getting in a car!” Needless to say, Rab refused to take Angus out again.

Obviously Angus is one of the bad ‘uns that give all of us well-controlled diabetics a bad name. Hearing stories like this, however, makes you realise that perhaps the three-year limited licence which diabetics are subject to in UK (and about which both Alison and I bitched about in an earlier article) is perhaps not so bad after all.

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About Tim

Diagnosed with Type One when he was 28, Tim founded Shoot Up in 2009. For the diabetes geeks, he wears a Medtronic 640G insulin pump filled with Humalog and uses Abbott's Libre flash glucose monitor.

12 thoughts on “Driving Edinburgh commuters up the wall

  1. Alison

    Congratulations on being a driving genius. I can’t believe your instructor is called Rab, you’re so Scottish!

  2. CALpumper

    I spy…no umbrella!? What is this?

    “…theory test.”
    Shouldn’t these road signs mean what they say? And not at all be suggested as theories in which a driver may or may not oblige by?

    Just sayin’.
    That 3 year reminder that your pancreas is lacking, I say, still not nice.

    Oh and,

    Hi Alison!

  3. Tim

    @CALpumper Ah, the umbrella’s long gone now! I thought something more summery was needed!

    Ha ha – I’ve never thought of the theory test in those terms. It would be a slightly (but only slightly) less safe if this is how it worked!

  4. Katie

    Rab seems to hang on to his seat and door really tightly when you’re driving Tim!

  5. Ru


    Remind me to continue to use the bus as my preferred mode of transport when I am in Edinburgh. Perhaps I should start sitting near the emergency exit so I can fling myself from the vehicle should I see your vehicle heading my way.


  6. Melissa

    Just stumbled across your blog today :]

    Learning to drive in Edinburgh is a brave move, the bus drivers in our lovely capital are insane.

    Well done on passing your theory :] Did you find the place okay ? I remember worrying myself stupid because I had no idea where it was. But after wandering around and going down a wee cobbled street and up lots of stairs I eventually found it.

    Good luck with the rest of your lessons !

  7. Tim

    @Melissa Mien gott! Another Edinburgher! I knew there had to be some out there somwehere…

    The theory test centre was a pain to find, especially as I lost my carefully printed out map on the way. However, TECHNOLOGY came to the rescue in the form of Google Maps on my BlackBerry.

    Thanks for luck – I may need it…!


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