I've started practicing again, in anticipation of a driving exam I can take anytime after March 14 - found a company that rents out dual-command cars, and whose owner is willing to accompany me, as my choice was either to buy my own car and drive it around alone, which I have no intention of doing - honestly, here in Brussels I need a car like I need a third nostril (ergo est, "don't") and the prospect of blundering through more bank/civil service escroquerie and incompetence in the quest to get insurance and a parking permit - well, look, I've decided not to do it, and the prospect still makes me want to puke in frustration. Anyways, my choice was between that, buying more Euro 45/hour lessons from the school where my favourite instructor smelt like wine, doing something completely uninsured and irresponsible on Sundays with people willing to rent out their cars and company, or what I've done, which is use a company called LearnCar.
I'm not recommending it yet, as I've only done two hours out of the twenty-two I've bought, but so far it seems pretty awesome and the owner, an ex-highway cop, has already given me some really great tips about driving that my much more expensive instructors never gave me. Nobody ever explained to me, for example, the magic of second gear when it comes to speed bumps, roundabouts, and entering intersections with rightwards priority. I used to hate and fear roundabouts; now that I've learnt the magic of second gear, I'm looking forward to driving in Canada less because we don't have them there. It will also be hard now, I think, to drive in a place that doesn't have rightwards priority, although I do feel it's a rather stupid rule. If you want to slow traffic, why not have obligatory stops at T-junctions, or put in more lights? Spend a bit of a fucking money, for god's sake, people pay 50% income tax here - why not cut off the Parliament's champagne account and use that for more fucking traffic lights? Anyways. And he slaps me when I glance at the gearbox. He understands conditioning. Perfect.
Much more seriously, nobody had previously explained the necessity of tapping the brake when you use the frein moteur, that is, when you switch gears downward to slow down (how do you say that in English?). It's obvious, right? You're slowing down all of a sudden and you need to communicate that to whoever's behind you - but I hadn't been doing it and my instructors had never mentioned it. Okay, luckily someone explained now, before I started driving around on my own and got into a vicious fight, or dead, with someone rear-ending me on a motorway at high speed. But it makes me miss Young Driver's, in Ontario, where I first learnt to drive twelve years ago, though that doesn't count because it was an automatic, and automatics aren't driving, they're a runaway fairground ride, and yet stickshift is much more fun. But the focus at Young Driver's was totally on defensive driving, on getting yourself from point A to point B without being killed either by your own or someone else's ineptitude, and that's really what I'm interested in - especially in Belgium, or rather especially in Europe generally.