And so I finally got around to booking a driving test.
For my 17th birthday, as is now traditional in our family, I was given driving lessons. And for a few months I failed to do anything about this, and then started them, and went off on a course of 10. I continued to have lessons for the next few months, pausing for A-Levels and resuming for summer. Then I went to University for two years.
I came back, procrastinated for a few months, and then went back to the lessons. Eventually, around christmas last year, getting to the point where there was no point in me having the lessons until I had booked the test.
Three months after that point, I booked the test. And three weeks after that I told the instructor, Chris, about the test. I now had two weeks until the test, and I hadn’t driven in a few months.
Revision driving test. Wandered around in fine and sunny weather. Got back into the habit. Booked some lessons for the next week.
Basic driving. Hour lesson, pootled up to the town where the test centre is, practiced manoeuvres around the area where the test is usually, went home.
Nice day, pootled back up to Tonbridge Wells, manoeuvred, drove around, had a look at the entrance to the test centre, came back.
It’s now Friday, the last week has been mostly sunny, much wind, and the occasional light drizzle. My driving has improved a couple of hundred-fold, and I’m now silently confidant that I should pass. The biggest problem at the moment is that the sun is so bright, fortunately I’ll be doing it in early morning. My parallel parking is going like clockwork (literally, go back until the car lines up with *here* then one turn of the wheel *right* then back until *this* point, then one turn *left* then steer like a baby bull…) My reverse around a corner is so accurate you could use it as a protractor, and the three-point-turn is done in barely two and a third… and, basking in the balmy sunny afternoon on Friday, I went home with a spring in my step, and thought I might just pass this.
Six forty, and I’m awake, staring at the ceiling. I get up, shower, the sun is peeking out from behind the clouds, it looks like a nice day. Shower, Breakfast, check mail…
…and it’s 7:35 and Chris is here for one last lesson to brush up on things. Wander up to the town, dealing with rush hour traffic. Wander around Sherwood, where the test frequently is done, Parallel park, reverse around a corner, do a three point turn behind a white car, and make our way though the One way system that the Tunbridge Wells Test Centre is in the middle of. Turn into the test centre, and note with disappointment as it starts to drizzle.
Watch with dismay as the drizzle begins to escalate and turn into real rain.
By the time I’ve signed the declaration of insurance, and done the eyesight test, and he’s got the model of the car and ID numbers, the rain is incredibly heavy. And I’ve never driven in heavy rain before.
Cars stop differently in the rain. Sometimes they don’t stop at all. Mine stopped every time I told it to. Just not where I wanted it to, and I was so tense that my steering went everywhere. I was positioning right for left turns, and vice versa.
Then came the parallel park, done in Sherwood to park behind a white car. I realised later it was exactly where I had been doing three-point-turns earlier, but at that point it might as well have been on the moon. We pulled in, and as we did so I hit the curb, which I *know* is an automatic fail. At this point I knew I was done for, and might as well relax I parked next to the car – slightly too far forward – and went into reverse. I slowly backed the car to the exact optimal point for turning, missed it by three feet, and then steered the wrong way. There was no way I could have done it in a car’s length now, and so, having already failed, I reset to the right position, and repeated the manoeuvre perfectly.
At that point, I discovered afterwards, I hadn’t actually failed.
But I did, on three counts of inability to steer, reversing around a corner, and parallel parking.