Now don’t have a heart attack. I have always had a driving licence but had to take the test so I can drive a manual. It has been a fairly amusing (or is that bemusing?) process.
Firstly, I drove a manual car for two years on my Canadian licence, when I first moved to Derbyshire. I managed to drive all over the country without hitting anything; or killing anybody, or running anybody over, or causing any other general mayhem – as much as I tried!
Anyway, when my Canadian licence ran out (they don’t have lifetime licences over there), I went to switch it for an English one. Easy you would think, particularly as I rolled up to the office in my manual car.
But no, of course, it’s not that easy - we are after all talking about a government department. No, unless I could somehow prove that 30 years ago I took my driving test in a manual car, they could not give me a license. Even when I explained I had been driving a manual car for two years, that didn’t help either, and they would only give me a license for an automatic.
My boss was most surprised when I had to phone and ask him to come and collect me along with a colleague, as I was now unable to drive their car and they had to rustle me up an automatic.
I have concluded, now that I have finally got around to taking the manual test, that 99% of the population would fail their test were they to take it now. Firstly you have to have a head and neck like a tortoise on “speed.” So instead of checking everything when backing up and getting the hell out of the way, you have to keep your head spinning around like a demented cockerel while you creep backwards at one mile an hour.
You may also have to reverse into a parking spot. You aren’t allowed to do the normal thing and drive just past the space with the front of the car pointed at the opposite side. No, you have to stay straight and then reverse into the space at a 90 degree angle. It is so much harder - and that’s with no cars parked. No wonder so many people are frightened to back up. Even I dreaded it - and I am a brilliant “backer-upperer!”.
Also, you aren’t allowed to let the wheel “run” through your hands but have to pull it. This probably worked OK before the invention of power-steering, but with it the steering wheel moves faster than your hands - which probably explains why they only let you do manoeuvres at a snail’s pace.
Anyway, I went off to the do the test and passed with flying colours - and it was so nice to get it out of the way and get back to driving safely again.
So, may you all drive carefully - and do be good, buckle up... (oh yes - I must tell you about getting stopped for not having my belt on – later) and stay safe.