It’s a long time ago now, but driving is one of the few things I took to more or less immediately.
I had my first lesson when I was about 19, and my instructor was the same guy my sister had had. His vehicle was a Ford Escort and I had no trouble with it at all. However, ill health and discomfort made me postpone my lessons, and I didn’t start again until after I got married in 1977. I was 21.
The driving school was just around the corner from where I worked, so I had a lesson in my lunch hour three times a week. At £2.20 a time, that was very doable!
The car this time was a Volkswagen Polo and again I had no problems. After a few weeks, our route would actually take me home to see to the dog as it had roundabouts, traffic lights, narrow roads, T junctions and double bends, so covered a lot of road conditions, plus I could do a three point turn in my own road and there was a good hill start going back.
I was surprised when my instructor said he’d put me in for my test in February. I didn’t think I was ready, but he had every confidence so I agreed. I didn’t tell anyone in my family as I knew I’d never hear the last of it if I failed, but had to book a two hour lunch at work on Test Day.
I remember the date clearly, February 15th 1978, and I was the only one of 6 of us in the bank taking our tests that week who passed, though I didn’t think I had.
We all had the same examiner, a hard nut who pulled no punches and didn’t suffer fools lightly. My route was one of the hardest, and I forgot to look over my shoulder before pulling away from the kerb, though I was indicating and had checked my mirror.
All was going OK until we came to a T junction with a bus stop in the direct line of vision. The bus there started to roll back and my examiner hit the brake before I did. Knowing I’d failed as he’d taken control of the vehicle, we continued for the duration of the rest of my test and my final maneuver was to reverse round a corner, only this one was uphill as well.
I positioned the car, checked my mirror and everything else, then proceeded to reverse. Something caught my eye, so I put the car in first, moved back to my starting position and waited. I could see him hovering to put a X in the fail box on the form when the milk float came out of the road I was about to reverse into and passed us. I’d seen it, he hadn’t.
I got tongue tied on my Highway Code, but he handed me my pass note, congratulated me, then went off to scare his next victim.
It was Husband’s birthday on the 18th so I thought I’d surprise him with my pass certificate, and had to contain my laughter in bed on the 15th as he decided to give me pointers on what to do when I eventually sat my test. There was no way he’d let me drive his car to practice though. Come the 18th I presented him with my certificate and he was very pleased for me, especially as he’d passed first time and finally agreed I could drive his car. It was totally different to what I was used to and I ended up on the pavement instead of in the parking bay. He was not so impressed about that, and the day got worse as I gave my Mum and MIL my L plates with a flourish, but both failed to see the significance.
Still full of excitement at having passed first time, I couldn’t wait to tell the girls at darts only for my sister to announce her pregnancy so I didn’t bother.
As an aside, it took her two goes to pass, her eldest daughter 8 and I believe her youngest daughter 4.
As for accidents? Ah. Yes. You might like to read this