In the stalls…

So where was I? Another eight sessions with either P. or C. have passed, and the ones with C. have been eventful. I am tempted never again to speak of the Staplers Road junction just above the Coppins Bridge roundabout because it has resulted in the most memorable event of all the lessons so far.

Every time so far the lights have been green, and I have never had to worry about stopping and doing the tricky hill start at this junction. That is until one evening with C., near the end of a two-hour session, when they changed, leaving me at the line ready to turn right. I thought I’d conquered hill starts, but this patch of road is particularly steep, I didn’t give the engine enough revs, and I stalled. At the point I thought “O, I’ve stalled”, C. acted promptly to stop us rolling back downhill by applying the handbrake.

I didn’t panic, and re-started the engine ready to try again, revved, and then found I couldn’t move the handbrake. C. had applied it so firmly that I couldn’t budge it. And so I stalled again, panicked by the fact that I couldn’t work out how I was going to move forward. There was a moment of tense discussion…

Anyway, I tried again, and this time the lights had changed back to red, so I had to wait calmly, trying not to think too much about the queue of cars that had built up behind me.

Attempt four was balked when a young driver screeched up on the inside lane and cut in front of us for the turning. I can only assume that any problems he’d had when learning had all been forgotten; I can only hope that after I pass I show the tolerance of and patience with learners that others have shown me.

We made it on go five. C. worked the handbrake and I just floored the accelerator. The tyres protested noisily, but we were up and round into Staplers and on the route home. We got back and then went for an emergency pint of tranquillising Gales HSB at The Cedars in Wootton in order to restore a feeling of normality.

I am amazed by C’s tolerance and patience, especially as next time out we had one of those moments when I turn crimson after missing two turnings in East Cowes, which I simply can’t see in the dark, but which C. knows are there because he works there. In daylight, of course, there would be no problem.

Still, the most recent night’s session with C. was great: the first one since P. recommended I book my test that I actually felt like I was ready to take the test, now just over two weeks away. I’ve at last managed to park the Honda by reversing into a bay, twice, meaning I can do it in our own car and in the instructor’s.

P. has arranged an hour with an “alien’ in the car, another instructor who will take me on a mock test. The idea is that I have someone in the car who I don’t know, rather than someone with whom I feel comfortable, so I am as prepared as I can be when I take the test for real: I know I will be a bag of nerves, but I would like to have the experience of being a bag of nerves when it’s not quite so crucial.

The last session with P. was good too. I hadn’t realised he’d been marking me from the outset, and it was only right at the end of almost two hours, and having successfully reversed round a sharp corner, that I clipped the kerb on coming out of the junction again, haven forgotten to edge out further. He said it was the first serious fault all lesson, and up till that point I had made only five minor faults, three on mirrors, two on gears. I may yet master how to control a car!


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