‘I know that it’s a kind of ‘herd’ thing – group dynamics,’ Stacy said, ‘the weakest are afraid to be seen as wimps, so they cheer-on the ones who are doing things like calling women names as they pass. The ones who should know better don’t like being the odd one out – so they say nothing.’
‘But they’re as bad then, aren’t they?’ Mel asked.
‘That kind of social conditioning doesn’t get educated out of the system overnight, Mel love,’ Stacy said, ‘We just have to keep making a fuss, keep it in the headlines. It’s just like systemic racism – and just as evil.’
‘Change of subject,’ Stacy said, ‘What do you think of those two over there – the bloke with the polo shirt? He’s got a nice arse, hasn’t he? I don’t fancy yours much though.’
They laughed conspiratorially.
Progress with the driving lessons – or not
After a few weeks of twice-weekly, two-hour lessons, Tracy was gaining confidence. There had been a couple of occasions when she’d noticed her instructor, Geoff, eyeing her up and down – but in her life that was pretty much the norm. She didn’t want to dress like a scarecrow or deliberately make herself look unattractive. That was a type of surrender. Someone had suggested that she should buy a cheap wedding ring to put men off. She’d heard from someone else that some men simply saw that as a challenge.
On her fourth lesson she noticed what Stacy had been talking about. He’d directed her onto a long quiet stretch of wide road on an industrial estate and instructed her to choose somewhere convenient, safe and legal, to pull into the roadside. He’d commented on jerkiness he’d noticed in the way she moved away from the kerbside. He’d said that it was down to her clutch control and he wanted her to engage first gear, keeping the clutch pedal down without pressing the accelerator and then to remove the handbrake. She was then do her mirror checks and to gently raise her foot on the clutch until the car began to move forward without the aid of the accelerator.
At her first attempt the car stalled. At her next try, the car crept forward and he told her to continue slowly to remove clutch pressure until the car was moving forward without any assistance from either the accelerator or clutch pedal. She did as she was told and moved her left hand onto the gear lever knob to prepare to change into second gear. It was then that he placed his hand over hers and said that he wanted her to simply let the car continue to build up speed without the accelerator for the time being. His hand remained over hers.
He got her to speed up and slow down using the footbrake and clutch pedal alone until she could use the clutch comfortably. At that point, he removed his hand and told her that, starting to use the accelerator, she should change up into second gear.
Mel felt that she’d made a major leap in her driving skill, but she wasn’t happy about how he’d kept his hand over hers.
He told her to continue along the estate ring road for a while and then said that she should pull into the roadside again and park-up for a moment. He explained that he now wanted her to develop her steering and reversing skills by completing a turn in the road to test standards. He talked her through the idea of using the steering quite quickly while moving slowly and explained what use she’d need to make of her mirrors, and what checks she’d need to make without them by turning her head and shoulders.
She began the manoeuvre as instructed, steering towards the opposite kerb. It was while she was turning and reversing, as he turned to check behind, that he placed his hand on her leg above her knee – she could feel through her trousers his fingers lying across the inside of her thighs .
She braked, changed gear into neutral and applied the handbrake before yanking the key from the ignition and opening her door.
‘What are you doing?’ he asked. ‘We’re in the middle of the road.’
‘Get your hand off my leg,’ she told him firmly. ‘The lesson is over. I’m phoning my dad to collect me and take me home. If you want your fee for this lesson, sue me. The court will be interested to hear why I refused to pay you.’
‘Jesus,’ he said, ‘I didn’t mean any harm. I hadn’t even realised what I’d done.’
‘I don’t believe you and nor will my friend Detective Sergeant Jackson,’ she said
She got out of the car and tossed the key across the road into a hedge.
She slammed the door shut and walking to the pavement, phone in hand, keyed in her dad’s number.
Geoff got out of the car, his face red with fury.
‘You stupid bitch,’ he said, ‘Where did you throw the key?’
She stopped speaking to her dad and pointed to the hedge.
‘Your car’s causing an obstruction,’ she said, ‘I expect the police will be here soon to get you to move it. I’ll explain if I’m still here.’
He walked quickly across to the hedge as a lorry driver sounded his horn.
A change of scene today. While we’re still in bluebells season, I thought that I’d include a few shots that I took in my local park on 28 April. Today’s photo shows some flowering cherry trees.
I used my Pentax KP 24 MM cropped sensor camera with a Pentax 28-105 mm f/3.5 to 5.6 lens. The EXIF data were shutter speed was 1/200 seconds at f/5 and 28 mm. The shot was handheld. I post-processed the shot in Lightroom.