Wednesday, March 19, 2008

momentous news

I passed my driving test on Monday. This is quite a major moment for me, so permit me to bang on about it at some length.

It's been a long and tortuous process, characterised by brief flurries of activity separated by years of inactivity, and I can tell you that the test that I passed on Monday was either the fourth or fifth that I've taken since my driving career began 20 or so years ago. I couldn't honestly tell you which of those it is, as my recollection of how many tests I took back when I was a teenager is a bit hazy; it was either two or three. If I had to guess I have a feeling it might have been three, which would make it five overall. But it doesn't really matter, except inasmuch as anyone who might have the notion I've been taking a couple a year since I was 17, and would now be somewhere in the 40s, would be wrong. I'd be skint, for one thing - lessons, not to mention test fees, don't come cheap.

The full test history is, if my assumptions above are correct:
  • Three in the late 1980s when I was about 18. I don't recall much about them, except that I failed one when the examiner had to make a "verbal intervention" (which equates to an instant failure, not surprisingly) when I was about (as he saw it, anyway) to kill a cyclist.
  • One in March 2000 after a course of lessons with BSM. No complaints about the tuition; the flow of the course was broken up a bit by a badly-timed three-week trip to Africa right in the middle of it, and a couple of cancelled lessons after I got back when I was in bed with what at one stage might have been malaria, but later turned out to be the slightly less serious Not Malaria.
  • And finally a week-long intensive course from the good people at Safeway UK, and in particular my excellent and unflappable instructor Paul, culminating in a test on Monday morning at the Newport test centre. Here's a tip for you: if you're planning a test in Newport, make it at about 8:40am, so that there's a good chance the examiner will avoid the rush-hour traffic jams in the town centre, and instead take you off up the dual carriageway towards the M4 and into sleepy suburban Ringland for the usual driving around and manoeuvring activities. I believe it's Route 15 in this list of official test routes.
It also seemed advisable to pass the test before they made it any more complicated; since I took my first one in about 1988 the following additions have been made:
  • the theory test
  • the parallel parking manoeuvre
  • the hazard perception test
  • the bay parking manoeuvre
  • the "show me, tell me" questions
  • the extension of the test length up to a maximum of 48 minutes
So it seemed like a good idea to get it out of the way now before you have to assemble the car from a pile of random parts and make your own petrol out of some coal before setting off. I have to buy a car. Despite Andy's best efforts to get me to buy a Land Rover to facilitate future Swanage trips, I think I might start with something a little more practical.

All that remains before I end this self-indulgent rambling is a quick roll-call of those whose generosity and patience I have exploited over the years. This is not exhaustive, so feel free to be offended by your omission if you like.
  • the lovely Hazel
  • my friends, work colleagues and occasional sporting opponents Robin, Andy and James
  • my parents - other notable family-related mentions include my brothers-in-law Ben and Ray
  • my ex-girlfriend Anne
  • my friend and exciting sports-car owner Alex
  • my friends and fellow cheese-racing enthusiasts Mario, Tony, Martyn, Jon, Steffen, Andy and Ian
  • my ex-work colleagues Andy and Paul (aka Yorkie)
  • my ex-landlady Catherine
  • my old schoolfriends Mark, Andrew, Peter, Lucinda and Pippa
Thanks everyone. The frequency with which you'll be asked for lifts should now decrease. Conversely, the frequency with which you'll be run off the road, to death, by me, may go up slightly to compensate. Swings and roundabouts.


Maz said...

Don’t put yourself down Dave. I am sure that I am in no more danger on the roads now than I was before you passed your test.

Maz (Sydney, Australia) :-)

Anonymous said...

i feel your jubilation. I have failed twice here in frogland last year and have not had the courage, the money or the time to sort out a third test, I'm quite demoralised by it all. Plus now, I have a little two month old girl to add to my things to deal with, the driving lessons have taken a back seat (pardon the pun).

I have to do it all in frog here (obviously) but that makes it even worse to get through, plus my driving teacher is a flirt and calls me "chérie" all the time.

Plus I've almost given up thinking I'm ever going to pass.

BUt enough about me, this was meant to be a message just to say big congratulations to you. I think it's wicked news innit.


Andy said...

I remember that time when you didn't have Malaria. Strangely enough, I also didn't have Malaria at exactly the same time. How's that for coincidence?

I haven't totally given up on the LandRover plan. I think for dedicated outdoorsy types it's the only way to travel. I'll keep looking at ebay and see if we can find one to go halfsies [thirdsies anyone? quatersies?] once I've sold a kidney or two.

And another think. You seem to have a lot of friends called Andy or Andrew. I don't even know who I am now...

Oh, yeah, nearly forgot. Congrats. Can I have a lift?

electrichalibut said...

If you can get that Landy we were looking at on eBay today for £300 or so I'm in for a quarter share, deffo. You might have to do the welding though.

And as for the French driving test, isn't it just a case of driving round and round the Arc de Triomphe chain-smoking Gauloises and shrugging gallicly? And then marrying Carla Bruni. Incidentally I see the British tabloids have dug up all her old "glamour" shoots, i.e. shots of her in her pants. Quality stuff.

electrichalibut said...

And Andy, you were Andy #1 in the list. Andys #2, #3 and #4 are different Andys. Hope that helps.

Anonymous said...

Well done mate. Is this the end of public transport for you? It was the end of being reasonably fit for me.

The Black Rabbit said...

Well done pal!
I'll join ya one day (if I get my arse in gear (quite liderally!), and will IMMEDIATELY by an old Ford Capri...

electrichalibut said...

Well, I'd like to say that having a car will open up a new world of sporting opportunity to me, i.e. walking, cycling, golf, in places I'd otherwise not be able to get to.

And I'm sure that's true, but I'm sure it also opens up a whole new world of driving to places I'd previously have walked to, thereby turning into a big fat bloater.

Oh well. I've had a good innings.