I’ve finally taken the decision that I need to learn to drive. It’s taken me a little longer than everyone else, I’ll be learning at the grand old age of twenty-five (or even twenty-six by the time I get my act together). I’m pretty sure one of the reasons I’ve decided to learn to drive is because my provisional licence will expire soon and I’ll feel like a massive failure if I have to pay £70 to renew the bloody thing.
I did do a little bit of driving when I turned 17 – but the lessons cost £20 a week, which was exactly the same amount of money I earned at my Saturday job at BHS. The lessons soon stopped when I crashed my driving instructor’s car (his fault, promise) and my Dad ended up threatening to sue him. He ended up taking me out after that, taking it in turns with my stepmum, but eventually, I moved to Uni and couldn’t afford a car. Then I moved to Holland and there was no point driving there. After all, everyone cycles and I can’t do my lefts and rights in this country, let alone thinking about it there. Then I moved to London. And who needs a car when you live so close to the tube station you get their wifi in the living room?
But the time comes to us all. One day I’ll move out of London and I’ll have to be able to drive. I might as well get it ticked off while I can. In a moment of “I really have to commit to this driving test thing” I booked my theory test. Here are eight recurring thoughts I’ve had since then:
You wonder whether you’ll ever have a conversation with anyone about the theory test without them telling you it’s piss easy.
You’ll have no trouble they say. Why are you even bothering to revise they ask? Don’t you realise that there is no test easier in the world? Apart from maybe the Egyptian driving test. Apparently you only have to go forwards for a bit and then backwards for a bit. Way to pile on the pressure guys.
Yet you realise everyone fails the bloody thing.
Honestly, I’ve lost count of the number of people I know that have told they actually failed it. When I say told, I meant they often admit in a hushed tone. As though they were telling me a state-guarded secret. You start to wonder whether it’s as easy as everyone says it is. You think of the shame there will be if you fail yours, especially as you’ve always been a bit of a swot and never failed an exam in your life. Finally, you remember your Dad calling your brother an “oaf” when he failed his theory test.
You realise crossings in the UK have stupid names.
What on earth is the difference between a toucan crossing, a pelican crossing and a puffin crossing? Why do they all have to be named after birds? What are all the different types? Why do they have different light stages and rules? How come I’ve never noticed there’s a difference in my twenty-five long years of life?
You know you’ve picked up some knowledge from being in a car.
All those years of being a passenger have meant something. You know brown signs mean tourist information and you know what the speed limits are in various areas because your Mum never followed them. Or where you can and can’t overtake because there’s a road back home that your Dad never followed the instructions of, leaving you pressing an imaginary brake in the front seat praying you’d make it home in one piece.
And yet you realise you have no idea when it comes to some of the other questions.
What gear should you put the car in to act as a brake? Turns out it’s not putting it into neutral at all, obvs. It is in fact, is one of the worst things you can do. Oops.
You wonder why some things developed like they did.
Did the people in the DVLA’s sign designing department mean for there to be different shapes of a sign which correspond with instructions or orders or did it just happen?
You question whether anyone in London ever did the test.
You’re only meant to use your horn at certain times? Could someone please let the thousands of people who drive along the South Circular know that because I can’t remember the last time I got a good nights sleep. You’re meant to park up to reset your sat nav? The Highway Code people have clearly never been in the back of an Uber.
You start to question yourself.
I know that you need to drive past horses slowly and carefully. But these other answers look pretty convincing. I’ve only been in a car past a horse like once. Maybe it’s another answer? I know nothing about horses.