Baby you can drive my car…

Today, is my 5th driving test.

My driving history is a bit epic.  I failed 3 tests during my A-levels, largely because I wasn’t confident enough, and because my A-levels stressed me out too much. I then abandoned learning to drive altogether whilst I was at Uni, unable to afford lessons and feeling that I had no need for a car anyway, living in Leeds city centre. I didn’t really *want* a car, and a driving license, until I graduated – I knew I’d have to commute from where I now live with my boyfriend, to my post-grad college in Leeds, and so decided a car would be the quickest/least stressful way to do that.

Plus 99% of journo jobs require a drivers license and own car.

So, last July, I began again. Began lessons with a all female driving school, and surprised myself by remembering more than I thought I would. By November I had my fourth (but considered 1st, in my new driving adventure) test booked (for December) and felt quite confident.

I failed. But no catastrophically, and the rest of the test, I was happy with (only 7 minors) I got 2 serious faults – observation on a turn in the road (which was confusing, but irrelevant seeing as there were *2* serious faults) and another for stopping for a woman who stepped out into the road with her son – and not checking my mirrors before hand.

I was upset, but not as upset as previous times as I’d proved to myself – short of the 2 serious – that I could get through a test. Having failed for pulling out too early on roundabouts, and being dualled, I was happy my test experiences had improved substantially.

Then the drama began. I rebooked for early January, but the snow destroyed all chances of doing the test. My post-grad began on the 25th Jan, so I rebooked quickly, only to have a second cancelled by snow. My final chance (in my head) was the 27th Jan, halfway through the first week of my course, and my last attempt to get the license before getting into the course proper.

This time, my instructor failed me. I was excited about the test, bizarrely, and felt quite happy when I answered both the show me/tell me questions correctly, and got into the car, raring to go to finally get my license. Suddenly the examiner called me out of the car again, pointing at the task disc.

“It’s out of date,” he said, “your instructor probably has the new one in the car somewhere, why don’t you go get her.”

I ran back to the test centre, to the room, and told her the situation. As soon as I saw her reaction I knew there was no new tax disc, her eyes confirmed she had no idea her tax disc had expired. This was Jan 27th, and it had expired Dec 31st. She had bought a 6mth disc instead of 12; and had later told herself she had a 12 mth disc.

She drove me home. I was utterly devastated – I had missed another opportunity to pass and this time it wasn’t even my fault. I spent the rest of the day angry, then upset, then angry again – the worst part is always answering that question “So, did you pass?” This time I hadn’t even made it past the test centre.

My instructor said she would understand if I didn’t want to use her again – but I was too far in the process to start with someone else, and as mad as I was, we all make mistakes – we’re only human. And she did feel awful about it. Due to the demands of my course I had to wait until the easter break before I could schedule another test – and that is where we are now, first day of the holidays, 2hrs and 20 mins before my next test.

About half an hour ago, my instructor called me, asking if my car (a light blue Purgeot 106, bought cheap from a family friend) was insured for me to drive in it. It is, but I want to get it cleaned/serviced and the handbrake checked, so I had no intention of using it for the test. Apparently, my instructors car has got a problem, and she’s waiting for a part, coming from Cullingworth (approx 40mins away). She reckons if the part arrives in time and her garage fits it (in 20 mins, according to them) she will arrive at mine at 11am as scheduled and all will be ok. But if the part is delayed, or she can’t get to the garage early enough, then the only options are to take my car, or a mini.

I opted for a mini. I’ve learnt in an Almera, and the dimensions of a Mini are closer to the Almera than my long, blocky Purgeot. I called my boyfriend about it – funnily enough he passed his test first time, in a car he had only used that morning – his instructor sent someone else, and another car, for him on test day. He passed – and so I figure, so can I.

I am going to pass today. I can drive, I have been going out in my own car (with DBF as supervisor) for a couple of months and have had no issues whatsoever. I’ve drive to York, Skipton, Leeds…so 40 mins round the test centre is hardly an uphll struggle. I have my car parked outside my house, and I am determined to come home today, rip my L plates off and drive off, free as a bird.

So I’ll either get the normal car (fingers crossed) or the mini. But I won’t fail, I’m determined not to do that. Frankly I’ve paid that much money to the DSA by now I refuse to go through the £100-a-time test process again!!

I will keep you posted.


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