Into the 30s

Christmas and new year put in a spate of driving sessions, three official with P., three with C. and one with J., getting me down to 36 to go… It’s all a bit of a haze about what we covered in individual lessons, but in essence reverse parking into a bay and parallel parking featured with P. plus more in-road turns. I’m amazed in conversations with drivers of my age but of more experience that they never had to learn to park a car as part of their tests.

I am beginning to be taken on different roads. C. took me round the back streets of Wootton to practise junctions and clutch control; P. took me of down the Sandown road and out round to Arreton, which is pretty notorious for accidents. the special journey was with J., who is medically cleared to drive while at home, and who could therefore bravely sit in while I drove Jimjams to Ryde for an early morning skating lesson. She didn’t go pale or scream at me, which I take as a good sign; Jimjams was slightly less complimentary about some of the gear changes.

New year’s day brought about a trip to one of the beaches of south west Wight for the annual freezing cold BBQ. It resulted in a prolonged driving session, and me missing the turning for the chine car park as I couldn’t see where C. wanted me to turn into and because I knew that way was largely cliff with an abrupt drop. We had to go on to Isle of Wight Pearl, turn round in the car park and head back for the chine. After the BBQ, and thoroughly frozen, C. accompanied me on the drive to his place in Wootton. I’d expected to go the straightforward way, but C. took me through central Newport and round some of its streets first, and it’s here I developed my glitch for the day: I simply couldn’t change down from third to second. I’d like to think it was a one-off, but no; every critical time I blew it and was left coasting while I faffed around until eventually I got it in gear again. (cue male chorus of “it’s never happened to me before…”).

No doubt that one will come back to haunt me.

P. has also said that I should go ahead and book my theory test. I’ve been practising using the computer programs for the multiple choice test and in general improving my knowledge of the highway code. And over the holidays I turned to the hazard perception DVDs. I can confidently predict that the hazard perception element is where I may fail, not because I can’t see or anticipate the hazards, but because the response of the DVD to input is so poor and locks up. It’s like trying to play the old Dragon’s Lair arcade game which depending on you learning when to twitch the controls rather than timing it to what visually seemed right. If the hazard perception test is just learning to play a video game by knowing when to twitch the controls, then it is failing in its aim.

I should have learned when I was 20…

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