A few weeks ago, whilst I was watching the Great British Bake Off, I decided that I wanted to become a baker so I impulse bought a guidebook called ‘The Ultimate Guide To Baking’ in the assumption that it would instantly transform me into the next Mary Berry.
‘The Ultimate Guide To Baking’ is full of images of expertly constructed, pristinely decorated cakes.
Each image is accompanied by a set of instructions which are arranged in a series of ‘simple steps’.
In theory, following these simple steps will enable you to accurately replicate the cake in the book.
The problem with guidebooks is that they tend to be written by extremely talented people who have spent years honing their craft.
Therefore, what may seem like a ‘simple step’ to them, is actually quite challenging for the average person.
In addition, each ‘simple step’ is linked within a co-dependant chain of other simple steps so, in order to successfully replicate the image in the book, it is necessary to follow every single simple step correctly.
If you mess up one simple step, it directly affects all the other steps and the entire thing collapses – like a game of ‘simple step’ jenga.
I first learnt that simple steps aren’t as simple as they seem when I decided to learn to draw as a child and made the mistake of believing that a ‘Drawing Made Easy’ guidebook would transform me into a skilled and masterful artist.
It turns out that 23 year old me can’t cope with simple steps either…
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I turn 23 in a couple of weeks and, although I physically resemble an adult, I often feel much younger on the inside.
As a result, I am always looking around for things to confirm my status as an official grown-up in the hope that I will eventually be able to convince my inner self that I actually I am one.
In his iconic song ‘Blowin’ in the Wind’, Bob Dylan asks the question ‘How many roads must a man walk down before you can call him a man?’
Whilst I do not know the exact answer to Bob’s question and have no ambitions of becoming a man, I imagine that the whole process of becoming an adult would be a lot quicker if you just drove there instead.
So, last year, I decided to learn how to drive.
Driving lessons are quite expensive so I decided to try and accelerate the learning process by asking my mum to help me practice in between them.
I thought that my mum would be a good candidate for the job because she had previously taught me to ride a bike as a child.
However, for some reason, she seemed reluctant to resume her role as instructor.
My mum is a very cautious driver with a high regard for motoring safety.
As a result, the prospect of giving me complete control of a moving vehicle made her incredibly anxious.
In an attempt to ease her nerves, I decided to demonstrate my ability to control the car by driving at 10 mph around a suburban cul-de-sac.
However, by the way my mum was reacting, I may as well have been trying to set a world speed record on the salt flats of Utah.
When I first started driving with my mum, I was initially quite calm.
I had taken nine driving lessons with a qualified instructor and was confident in my ability to control the car.
I didn’t think there was anything to worry about.
However, my mum’s anxiety was so high in relation to mine that it began to diffuse along a concentration gradient until the panic was evenly spread between us and we were both infused with the same sense of impending doom.
In order to diffuse some of the tension, I decided to put some calming music on but its effect was limited by the sounds of my mum having a panic attack over the soundtrack at regular intervals.
In the end, it was a bit like an episode James Corden’s Carpool Karaoke except, instead of a celebrity singing their iconic hits, there was just my mum periodically shouting ‘easy on the clutch’ and ‘mirror, signal, manoeuvre’ over the Relax and Unwind playlist on Spotify.
Driving can be a stressful experience all round.
In everyday life, the majority of people tend to be quite considerate and respectful towards other people.
However, when driving, our tolerance for others drastically decreases.
Any sense of social convention rapidly disintegrates, something which is magnified by the fact that the car itself provides a physical barrier behind which the driver is able to conceal their identity.
This allows drivers to feel comfortable expressing what would otherwise be a socially inappropriate level of rage with the same sense of anonymity as an internet troll.
Many people try to make the experience of driving less stressful by investing in a Sat Nav to help them navigate.
Like most technology, a Sat Nav is the best thing ever until it stops working properly, at which point it immediately becomes the worst thing in existence.
Normally, a Sat Nav will give you precise directions to help you get to your destination in the fastest time possible.
However, occasionally the GPS system will malfunction and it will start instructing you to complete manoeuvres that the physical set up of the road renders impossible.
When this happens, it is easy to become frustrated.
In contrast, the Sat Nav’s voice remains completely calm and serene, blissfully ignorant of your own increasing levels of irritation.