Mock horror

Thirty-two in the countdown of lessons, and it’s a heady day of low-speed junctions and turns round the residential areas of Newport. It’s bright and sunny, the road is wet, and worse, that wetness is a thin layer of slush that is slippery underfoot. We only discover how bad it is at the end of the lesson when I get out to head for a bus and Cowes – and decide to tread carefully. And it’s the time of the school run, and I get stuck behind a bus most of the way into Newport from the point where there are really no safe overtaking places (those winding Island roads).

We covered more new ground, including the Blackwater accident black spot and roads I didn’t know existed, such as the real twister that runs up to the back of Carisbrooke Castle.

Still, there were no serious slip-ups during the lesson as such until P. says the chilling words, “For the next 20 minutes you can assume you’re under test conditions.” In other words, it’s the first mock. We’re in school territory, with speed humps and width restrictions, and then on into town.

I failed, of course, with one serious fault. And I knew I’d failed when I did it. There’s a particularly sharp corner in Newport’s backstreets that I was approaching in third, and had left it too late to drop a gear. A van came the other way round the blind corner, seemingly too quickly, and I had to brake sharply. I didn’t stop or stall, just slowed abruptly. And that demonstrates lack of control of the vehicle, and is a fail. I take consolation that C.’s son failed his test on Friday because the car in front of him missed its turn at a mini-roundabout and reversed to get back to it, by which point he had crossed the line.

Other than the serious fault, I had four minor faults, and had gone the first half of the mock with no faults at all. I have at last been looking in my mirrors before signalling, but not alas always before slowing down (one fault), braked too sharply in the gentle approach to a junction (one fault), failed to signal to a car behind that I was going round a van parked on double-yellow lines once the on-coming traffic had passed (one fault), and failed to advance into a space large enough for the Clio between a Keep Clear zone and a pedestrian crossing (one fault).

It’s not much to eradicate. And I have time to think about it with a trip to see J. on the mainland, and then to be back in time for the theory test at 4pm.


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