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Ageing, ageism, photography, stories

7th February 2017

John Lyon, 78

John was a civilian instructor at the Metropolitan Police Driving School in the sixties and now runs John Lyon HPC, a high performance driving school in Peterborough. He has vast experience as a racing driver, with many championships under his belt and has also written a book, Advanced Driving.

“I was bought up on a farm in Chester and even though my degree was in agriculture, I could see that was not going to be for me so I changed my tack completely and went on to instructing because I love motoring. I am pleased I chose to do a job that I enjoy and I would urge others to do the same. We spend a third of our lives sleeping, a third of our lives being lazy and a third at work. For me, there is nothing better than sitting with people, enjoying their company in a lovely motor vehicle on a clear open road and watching them develop as a driver.

I met my third wife Sally about four years ago at a dance and we practice virtually every evening. It keeps you mentally and physically active.

Alongside my motoring pursuits, I am also a keen ballroom and sequence dancer. I actually met my third wife Sally about four years ago at a dance and we practice virtually every evening. It keeps you mentally and physically active. There are about 300 dances with around 16 bars in each – you have to remember them all so it’s a great test on your memory. We live in a thatched cottage in a beautiful village about six miles east of Stamford in Lincolnshire. The country roads here are nice and quiet. I have a car named after the course I run which I race today across the UK and Europe and then I also run a little BMW 318is every day.

As far as health goes, we are both strict vegetarians. I don’t eat very much, just fruit in the morning and a light lunch, maybe a herbal tea before bed. I’m on about 1500 calories a day and I am in the gym all the time. I don’t drink alcohol apart from the very occasional glass of wine at lunchtime and I certainly don’t smoke. Both my parents smoked heavily and they died too young because of smoking related diseases. I thought it was such a waste of life.

I think the prime of life is in your thirties – physically and mentally you are at your best. Having said that, if you’re intelligent enough to exercise your brain and get on with life, you can keep yourself quite fit and do what you want into your seventies and beyond. I see a lot of people skydiving in their eighties for example. I also don’t think age has any bar on to the ability to drive by the way. It’s a question of training.

The best advice I could pass on is to go to the very best university, latch on to the best teacher you can find and then pass on all your knowledge to the next generation. My job now is to try to help people as best as I possibly can. I think it’s a terrible tragedy to retire at 65 when you know so much. I am going to keep going for as long as I can. People need to know an enormous amount about driving and the current standard in this country is appalling. The driving test is completely inadequate.

I’ve got grey hair of course, so people might look at me and think ‘silly old fool’ but I don’t care. So what? I leave them in the distance! I’d like to go down as the fastest driver in the world – I’ve already done 201.4 miles an hour on an autobahn in Germany in a Lamborghini Diablo. Fast and safe, that’s the answer!

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