Top Gear – why I wasn’t a fan

Fast Cars on the BBC's Top Gear

Fast Cars on the BBC's Top Gear

If you’re not one of the 350 million weekly viewers of Top Gear, then it’s pretty likely that you’ve at least heard of it. For those that don’t know, Top Gear is a BBC TV series about high performance cars – most guys I know are really into fast cars… but am I?

Now, most, if not everyone that knows me will tell you that I’m not really into fast cars. In fact, most will tell you that I’m just not into cars full stop. For me, there is one thing that gets in the way: nystagmus.

In the UK, in order to drive a car, you must be able to read a standard number plate from 20.5 metres (67 feet). Regardless of the degree to which I tried to kid myself when I was 17, nystagmus can put a dampener on ones hopes of driving. In my case, I’ve resigned to the fact that I can’t drive and probably won’t be able to drive for the foreseeable future. Obviously, I hope treatments will advance, but for now, I accept I can’t drive. There are however, some lucky people with nystagmus who can drive; I actually know of a reasonable number, so having nystagmus doesn’t exclude the idea completely.

Most people with visual impairments find the late teens very troublesome; around 17/18, everyone around you is learning to drive. It’s tough. Wherever I go, people seem to start talking about fast cars at some point and I’m just not interested. If I can’t drive, why should I be? The problem then is, you can feel like you’re shut out of an entire conversation – it’s a double edged sword.

You have to look on the upside though…

Not everyone needs to drive. Thousands of people who have driving licenses, choose not to drive. Take London for example, the majority of people use public transport on a daily basis – they have the buses and tubes to get around London. I imagine most would agree that trying to get somewhere in central London by car can be a nightmare. Oh, and we’d better not forget to mention the congestion charge starting at £9 per day! Finally, everyone has to pay insurance and for some new drivers, this can be in excess of £1,000.

Right, getting back on track… Top Gear – my perception, until last week, was that it was a TV series about fast cars – something I wasn’t interested in and generally shut out. Well, I watched part of an episode. Now, my view has changed.

It was humorous! It was funny! It wasn’t all just about fast cars and it didn’t make me feel too uncomfortable, the humour took away the reminder of my inability to drive. Don’t get me wrong, I’m still not massively into it, but the one episode I’ve watched was interesting and I’ll be more open to watching them in the future.

Having had conversations about this with other people with nystagmus, who also felt the same way, I would encourage them to watch an episode. See what you think… it might not be as bad as you think!!!

Find out more about Driving Eyesight Requirements in the UK.

About James

I was born in the UK and have congenital idiopathic nystagmus (had nystagmus since birth and the cause is unknown). I went to university, where I studied Mathematics and have since been working in the City of London, doing a job I absolutely love.
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