I knew the left handed driving would be challenging, especially after being tired from the flight – but I had a plan. My plan was to take it slow.
The Enterprise Rental car agent must have put the word out because we pulled out into a deserted parking lot…to be dumped in the bustle of Gatwick traffic! So much for ‘take it slow’!
The new plan was that I’d keep the car moving while Kaety made sure I did everything right.
The lanes were so, so narrow – there were several instances when I was certain I was going to lose the passenger side mirror.
The novelty and panic of being on the wrong side softened as we hit a huge M24 traffic jam which allowed me to slow down and ask, “How did this left handed driving thing happen anyway?!”
Apparently it all started because it was easier to hack someone you met on the road with your right handed sword while riding on your horse to the left side of the road.
The standard began to change slowly to the right as teams of horses pulling wagons became more common. Not having invented a wagon seat yet the drivers sat on the horse nearest the wagon so they could whip all the horse in the team with their right hands.
Most countries occupied by Napoleon had their traffic patterns moved to the left…because he was left handed.
After a lot of weird decisions and royal decrees later a lot of countries were driving on the right and it was time for the world to have a talk.
Most countries shrugged and said, “What the hell does it matter?!”, and switched to the right. The UK decided that their long habit of circumstance created by a guy with a sword was probably at that point in their history more of a ‘proud tradition’ and less of ‘stuff that just happened’ so they stuck with the left and paired the decision with a proclamation.
As I made my way down the British left handed road driving with the acumen of a 15 year old I felt comforted that I could totally hack an oncoming driver out the window with my sword and not have to deal with the fumbly inconvenience of crossing over my body.
Bottom line, after a two hour drive I got used to it…until we hit the bike lane wide roads in the Cotswolds.