Wednesday, 27 July 2011

Kate and the Motorcar

Prompted by concerned readers of Kate in the Countryside, I ditched Baz the too-friendly driving instructor. Things were getting serious now with my driving test so soon. Also I was struggling to cope with the stress of Baz's fluctuating moods (dictated - as far as I could tell - by his coffee + cigarette intake, as well as whether he'd had much success on Angry Birds lately). 

Granted, the Driving Test is something that many seventeen-year-olds overcome with ease. But at my advanced years, I could only fear it. 

Lohan attends
Driving Test
So when the morning of the test arrived, I went for a lengthy distracting run and spent an hour or so deciding on a jacket and skirt combo, (court appearance attire) to fully acknowledge the solemnity of the occasion. 

Off to the test centre we drove - getting lost on the way when I took the wrong turning from the A406. For reasons still unclear to me, I was taking the test somewhere halfway to Scotland called Borehamwood. It's a quiet and leafy suburb which frankly made my jaunts up to Marble Arch dodging homicidal maniacs seem a bit unnecessarily Real World.

I tend to talk fast and to excess when nervous. My poor new driving instructor smiled benevolently as we waited for my test somewhere that was a soothing cross between a doctor's waiting room and a detention centre. 

Soon Derek the Driving Examiner processed out of his Driving Examiner Lair: 'Kate Mason?'

KitC: 'That's me!' 

I agreed with everything Derek said to the point of hysteria. (D: 'Good weather we're having eh?' KitC: 'Good? Great more like! BRILLIANT weather!') When he asked me to complete 'Turn in the Road' (three point turn to you and me) I thought all my luck had come at once. The easiest one!
Enough said
It was a rather narrow road. 'Hope I only need three points to my turn eh?' I joked, desperately. Derek looked blank.

'Proceed when ready,' he intoned.

In no time at all I was sweating and shaking as I grappled with steering wheel and gearstick. I checked my mirrors so much I mostly forgot to move.  This I teamed with an onslaught of driving-related jokes in an attempt to charm Derek. It didn't work. He was uncharmable.

At last, it was all over. Back at the test centre, dear old Derek passed me. Then, summoning my instructor to listen, he harrangued me for my inane commentary during my appalling turn in the road: 'It was irrelevant. You did too many points.' etc. I tried in vain to explain that I'd been attempting jokes. He didn't buy it. 

I fled back to Hanger Lane (Where? I have no idea) to catch the tube back to the Pad. There, I was so overcome with relief and adrenaline at being no longer L that I struck up conversation with a mother and daughter waiting on my platform. Luckily, they were Australian and seemed to think such friendly tube chatter was normal, rather than fleeing in fear, as I'd expected.

By the time the train arrived, we were old friends. They asked why I wasn't at work today. I explained (with pride) that I'd just passed my driving test. They were baffled. 'Oh OK. But you're twenty-three right?' asked the sixteen-year-old daughter, looking confused and perhaps a little superior. She - of course - was already driving. Last time I make conversation on the Underground. 


  1. how many minus points or whatever they are called did you get? back in 2005 i got ELEVEN. beat that KitC! mysterious L, happy you are L no longer

  2. that was for you, glad you spotted it! i got six yeah. bosh.

  3. Testing. Bicycles, tricycles, spectacles, test ing.

  4. welcome to the blog sexy underscore james