It’s 1995 all over again..

..but on the wrong side of the road.

So, as life is one long ladder that one must ascend in a prescribed way for one to make any progress, the current ‘rung’ I am grappling with is that of becoming a British driver. I’ve put this off for any number of reasons. For one, I left the States a nervous driver, due to a high-speed accident that left me unnervingly unscathed. For two, I’m so spaced out, just generally being a mum, that I’m not sure I can cope with remembering to drive on the correct side of the road. For three, well there are just so many buses, and prams, and cars parked every which way, and people wandering into the roads…! For four, well, there are those roundabouts. Everyone here seems to be nervous of motorways. I’m don’t really understand that, as I’m a huge fan of divided highways. It’s that dosey-doeing round in cramped circles that makes me nervous. The worst though, would have to be the inept signage. Whether it’s the completely unmarked streets of a residential area or the motorway signs giving a driver friend fits, it’s all just rubbish.

So, what might make a person wish to drive in a country with trains and buses? Well, for starters, we are a house of people who get bus sick. Buses are expensive, and likely don’t take you near enough where you want to go without either a circuitous route requiring multiple changes in dodgy locations or just giving up and getting a taxi for the last few miles. Trains are wonderful things, and ideally I would ride them everywhere. It’s that ‘everywhere’ that is of course the problem. The clincher now is that James has no desire to rent another place–he wants to buy. This makes me sick with commitment-related fear, but he’s probably right. And as he’s been working from home and things are getting seriously cramped here, we need to move forward. Forward means our being able to drive so we don’t have to live within half a mile of a train station and pay the associated housing prices. It will also mean we can consider much more rural locales without having to rely on Tesco Delivery for our daily bread. It’s all enough to make me gnaw on my fingernails, so to keep my fingers busy I’ve paid the 7 quid to subscribe to the Driving Standards Agency’s theory test practice site. As all of the possible questions will come into rotation, I’ll be spending my evenings plunking through these while I wait for my provisional license. Once I take my theory test, things get a bit more complicated. I’m unsure at this point if there’s a drivers training company in the area that will allow a person to take the driving test in one of their cars. I’m making it even harder by stubbornly refusing to test on anything other than an automatic. My US readers might boggle at this, but over here automatics are in a dramatic minority and you will not be endorsed to drive manuals unless you pass in a manual. It’s not like all of those yankee teens who took driver’s ed in a chevy automatic, passed the test, then happily tore down the highway in old beat-up pickups. Once upon a time I learned to drive a manual, sorta, but I have no interest in trying to learn British driving and a British clutch simultaneously and on this point I’ve put my foot firmly down. So what I still have to figure out is how to get around having to actually buy myself a car anytime soon. Insurance, car tax, MOTs, and petrol don’t cost nearly what I thought they would, but as we don’t have any motorheads in the immediate family, I refuse to get a car without a warranty. That means a certified used car with low miles. That means quite a lot of money, particularly if we aren’t interested in financing.

Well, back to studying slip roads, pelican crossings, and ‘ford’ signs (worrying..).


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4 Responses to “It’s 1995 all over again..”

  1. fairylaura Says:

    Oooh, driving. I passed my test three years ago and have happily not driven since. Unfortunately I know that at some point I’m going to have to get back into it because there’s no way I’m living in a city for the rest of my life. Still, it’s one of those things that, with practice, just becomes automatic. And I’m sure it’ll be the same for you too, my dear. *hug*

    Ford signs are easy- if the road goes through a river, that’s your ford right there. πŸ˜‰ Frog signs are funnier.

    • rosgen Says:

      See, it’s the whole there being such a prolonged flooding of a road that necessitates permanent signage thing that gets me…that just can’t be right!

      • fairylaura Says:

        It’s not a prolonged flooding- the road was designed to go through an already existing stream, you see! Usually the stream will be wider there, because it was made shallower at some point in the past to allow for easier crossing (usually by people or a cart- it’s unlikely to have been desinged for cars).

        Does that help?

        Anyway, the best of luck to you, my dear. πŸ™‚ *hug*

  2. Anonymous Says:

    Roundabouts have become all the rage here. I don’t mind them–it’s the other drivers that sometimes worry me. But,eh, they’re everywhere.
    You’ll do just fine. And I’m sure the kids will be great at helping you study. πŸ˜›

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