Turning Left in London by
(306 Stories)

Prompted By The DMV

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Turning Left in London

I’ve written about our magical year in the early 1970s when my husband Danny worked in his company’s London office.  (See Laundry Day in LondonValentine’s Day in FoggytownKinky Boots and Intro to Cookery)

Here’s another story.

Before we left for our London sojourn we went to the DMV,  presented our New York drivers licenses,  paid a fee,  and were issued international licenses.

Once settled in London Danny enjoyed his work,  and I kept busy taking courses and learning my way around that wonderful city.  (See Inks and Derek: Art and the Cricket Scores and Munro)

Then after a few months we planned our first holiday – a road trip around Scotland.  (See Taking the High Road)

We went to a car rental agency where Danny showed  his international  license and we were given a car along with reminders about the difference between driving in the States and in Britain.

Danny,  always an excellent driver,  would be doing all the driving, and after practicing for a few blocks,  he proudly declared he’d mastered the right-side steering wheel.   And,  he assured me,  driving in the left lane on a two way road was also a piece of cake.

And then feeling fully confident  he took that first disastrous left  turn —  into the wrong lane and the oncoming traffic!

He swerved in time and we survived unscathed,  and that year we rented a few more cars,  and took a few more lovely road trips around Britain.

But apparently having an international drivers license doesn’t guarantee you’re a skilled international driver.   Altho turning right came easy,  Danny never did quite nail that bloody British left hand turn!

And we learned that even crossing the street in London can be risky unless you remember to “Look right,  then left.”  

(And it’s best to watch out for any Yankees with international drivers licenses who might be coming down the road!)

– Dana Susan Lehrman

Profile photo of Dana Susan Lehrman Dana Susan Lehrman
This retired librarian loves big city bustle and cozy country weekends, friends and family, good books and theatre, movies and jazz, travel, tennis, Yankee baseball, and writing about life as she sees it on her blog World Thru Brown Eyes!

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Characterizations: right on!


  1. A nice warning to drive in England or Japan.
    I practiced the turns by jogging through Tokyo streets before getting my car. It was fun but often unnerving.

  2. Khati Hendry says:

    We found that the manta “left, left, left” and a hefty dose of two-person driving helped—one of the few times that back-seat driving can be truly appreciated. So hard to break old habits! But well worth the freedom of driving around the countryside.

  3. Fred Suffet says:

    Fortunately, Dana, you both survived and are still here. Whew! Did Danny (and perhaps you) have to repeat the experiment in later years?

    • Actually Fred, on visits to Britain since we usually stick to trains and taxis!
      And as you may know, London taxi drivers have to study the city roads and then pass an exam, and thus they really know their way around town! Unfortunately not done in New York!

  4. Betsy Pfau says:

    Been there, barely survived that, Dana. I wouldn’t dare, but Dan has much better spatial sense than I do. We did fine on our first trip (about 40 years ago, now). But in 2016, my London cousin got married in Uckfield, almost two hours outside London. We took a train to a station in Brighton and rented a car there to get to our hotel (we had to come back later to pick David up). Dan promptly nicked a side-view mirror off a parked car, did get to our hotel (we did some sight-seeing along the way). But once we had to go back to pick up David, Dan ran into a big boulder on the way out of the driveway, which caused a flat, there was only a donut-spare tire, we were late retrieving David, whose cell phone was losing juice. Then we had to go back (a 45 minute drive in each direction) to get a new rental from the little gas station where we ‘d rented the car! Never again! We are too old.

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