19/05/2011 11:11 BST | Updated 22/05/2015 06:12 BST

Achtung Baby Or Leave It To The Professionals

Achtung Baby or Leave it to the professionals Getty

In Germany, when learning to drive you have no choice as to how you go about it. If you wish to stay sweet of the law, you are forced to dole out for official driving lessons to be undertaken with a registered instructor.

Sitting alongside terrified, white-knuckled siblings or well-meaning but obviously deranged friends who reckon they will have you parallel parking and three point turning before the end of the week, is strictly verboten.

Notwithstanding the incredible cost involved, it's still a good idea. Surely I was not alone in my first and last agonising driving lesson with dad. Until that hill start. Following a 5am return home when I was 17 I thought I had heard the worst. But after my seventh attempt and with an ever lengthening queue of cars behind me, dad blew. I exited the vehicle and insisted on walking the 30 mile journey home. Not my finest moment.

Driving instructors don't yell. Actually, they're not telling you anything different from your dad, who has probably got 30 years more driving experience then them anyway. But we listened to them. Why? Simple; we shared neither a gene pool or a pizza with them.

In an attempt to negate at least some of my numerous Mumfails over the years, I decided to try to give Finje a leg-up to school, due to start August 2012, and teach her to read!

Approaching the task subject with kid gloves, I did what those books tell you to do. Jolly-japes would be order of the day. In my über-enthusiastic endeavour to motivate my inherently suspicious child, I suspect failure became apparent early on. Had some brave soul observed me trying my hand at aspiring educator, they could have been excused for considering a call to social services. I had somehow lapsed into 1970s Playschool mode and was channelling my inner Floella Benjamin.

Finje was singularly unimpressed. And not a little bewildered.

"No mama, I want to learn to read when I start school like the other kids do."

Unwilling to let go of Floella now I had her, I battled on. Would it not be fantastic and wonderful and ever so cool if she could already read a bit before she even started school?

Finje threw me a look that looked suspiciously like a terrifying glance into the future, sighed a sigh of a five-year-old carrying the weight of Encyclopedia Britannica on her shoulders,

"When I'm six and old and dimply I'll read!"



"Do you mean wrinkly"


That's that sorted then.