Sunday, October 28, 2007

Doing what Maddie said.

Story contd.

I had found a delightful primary school for the boys. It was a Church of England school next to the 10C Church, run by three splendid women. As it was in the next village to us I had to visit the headmistress to see if she would accept my sons. When I told her I was going to learn to drive in order to deliver the boys she was so impressed she accepted them. Now all I had to do was learn to drive.

It was quite clear that William was not going to be my instructor. He would lean out of the car apologising to all and sundry whilst I quietly fumed. Hard up as we were, we decided that six professional lessons should do the trick. Our car was now an old Wolseley – with a running board and I was to learn on a Mini. The instructor was a pleasant young man and told me I must not attempt to drive our car until I had passed the test as the controls were different. This meant I was expected to pass with six lessons and no practice.

Actually I found the lessons the most exciting thing that I had done in ages and would lie in bed at night going through all the motions. By now we all had our own bedrooms; it lessened the squabbles between the boys and as William was a lark to my owl it made sense. Once when my old nursing friend Annie was staying she was shocked when William threw my nightie down the stairs so I wouldn’t disturb him when I went to bed. I suppose we were a bit odd.

After my first lesson the instructor said, with a hint of surprise,

‘You’re not bad. When you got in the car I thought you were going to find it difficult.’

That taught me such a lot about body language so I practised giving off the right vibes and by the time I took my test that examiner had to believe I was totally confident, assured and safe. It worked and I passed first time. That’s six lessons and no practice. Oh had I said that already?

The same day one of the boys had a hospital appointment so I decided to drive them in the Wolseley. Not a brilliant idea – I still had to get used to the different controls. On the way to the hospital – the very hospital which is now cited, to my horror, as the worst in Britain - I saw my instructor and noticed his look of alarm. Then it dawned on me that I couldn’t get us out of the car until I had parked it. I should have realised that once I had passed my test was when I really had to learn to drive. By the time # 1 son was due at the village school I was fairly proficient. We didn’t have safety belts and the boys use to fight to have the front seat so it was done in strict rotation. Mothers used to drive with their left arm at the ready to shoot out and act as a protection to stop them falling forward.

We had a nasty turning right out of the road into the oncoming traffic and the only way to do it safely was to inch out. Every morning this woman with her hair scraped back in a steel grey bun, would cycle towards me and just as she had passed would hiss

‘You’re well out!’

It drove me nuts because she always managed to say it when it was too late for her to hear my valid explanation. One day I was so cross I yelled

‘Silly old cow!’

Naturally then for years the boys would say

‘Oh look Mummy! It’s the silly old cow.’

Now I was mobile the world seemed an exciting place with endless possibilities. At last I could think about getting a job but until both boys were at school it had to fit in with the couple of hours I was free each day. Where to start?

34 comments:

Nea said...

Six lessons and no practise - you're a natural!
I learnt to jump-start our car today - twice!

kenju said...

I am amazed that you struck out in an unfamiliar vehicle! Good for you, and down with the silly old cow. I suppose you soon learned that you had to be careful what you said in front of the boys...LOL

PI said...

Nea: I'm not sure what that means but I'm guessing you jump up and down on the accelerator until it starts. No?

Judy: just sublime ignorance. I still have to be careful what I say in front of the boys including MTL:)

f:lux said...

Six lessons and no practice? Impressive!

Nea said...

Not quite Pat, if your car battery is flat and won't start, then you use jump leads to connect your car's battery to another car's battery and start your car using the other car's battery = a jump start. Taking care not to get your leads crossed or your poles in a muddle or the battery can explode. I didn't;)
My children won't let me be rude to other motorists/bikers/pedestrians either. They tell me I have to be polite. So I try to say nice things in a really rude tone.
Now I'm off to change all four tyres...

granny p said...

I passed my test first time too - to everyone's amazement. (And irritation.) But I had many more lessons than six and probably a much easier car. I'm amazed and admiring. Nice boys too.

Zinnia Cyclamen said...

Six lessons and no practice - blimey - no wonder you needed some top-up lessons recently!!!

PI said...

granny p and F:lux: ouch! My boasting has caught up with me. sorry:(

Nea : is there anything you can't do?
My reaction to rude drivers is, in theory, to give a cheery Queen Mum wave. It unnerves them but sometimes an unlady-like oath escapes my lips. I blame blogging!

Zinnia: your effrontery takes my breath away- but makes me laugh:)
How very dare you?

AndrewM said...

There's non need to shout!

Or are you just trying to make your post look longer?

apprentice said...

Good for you. I like the bit about appearing confiden - the trick in life for sure.

PI said...

andrewm:I erred. Forgot to cancel 'bold' tried a larger font and one doesn't know for certain how it will appear until it's published. We live and learn. Meanwhile you can take your specs off:)

belle said...

PI - Well done - 6 lessons .... I AM impressed but I know what you mean about the test examiner. My driving instructor told me that when the examiner called my name I was to smile at him until he smiled back. You can imagine how long that took but I passed first time! I was told afterwards that he was the Chief Examiner for Berkshire so no doubt had high standards.
I always muddle bump and jump starting - jump is the battery thing but there's also when you turn the ignition on, put the car into 2nd gear, keep the clutch down and roll down a hill (of course you have to have one nearby!) Once you have gathered reasonable speed, let the clutch in with a vengeance, keep your foot on the throttle - and away you go!!

john.g. said...

We should get you on a motorbike!

PI said...

belle: you can join Nea at top of the class. I'd forgotten that method but I do remember how to double declutch.

Johng: as long as it has three wheels.

sablonneuse said...

Six lessons: most impressive, ut I'm surprised at not allowing you to practise on another car. When I was learning I used the driving school's Triumph Herald but had a lot of practise in a Ford van belonging to my stepfather and as a special treat, I was allowed to drive my mother's car as well. Now that was good for building confidence. Mind you, I had 18 lessons before passing the test.

Nea said...

Ooh thank you, top of the class, but I only learnt to jump start yesterday, and I don't think I'd ever dare try and bump start, so best put Belle top.

SUE LOU said...

Hi, Thanks for the nice comment on The Purple Stars. Are you a Red Hatter too? If not, be sure to find a chapter near you and try it out. In the meantime, if you ever do "cross the pond", you are welcome to join us for lunch the first Saturday of each month here in NE US (Michigan)

PI said...

Nea:no no! It's not just a car maintenance award but a general all round one. And my decision is final:)

PI said...

Sue Lou: thanks for the invite. I'm not a Red Hatter but will be sure to join you if I ever again make it over there.

Keith said...

Bloody hell! For the first time I can actually read a posting from the other side of the room without my glasses. Are you going to keep this format?

PI said...

Keith: I'm afraid not. It was a double mistake. It just looks so ugly.

Eryl Shields said...

Seperate bedrooms that's so cool! And passing your test first time and finding freedom. When I passed my test (first time also but I had lots of practice) I couldn't believe the sense of freedom. I used to just go out for the sake of it.

PI said...

eryl:when one was young and strong one used to be quite lazy and it was bliss to drive everywhere. Now I walk every opportunity I get.
Since I married MTL I have eschewed separate rooms.

OldOldLady Of The Hills said...

Great story, Pat....Now, why did I think you have just been learning to drive recently? Maybe there is more to the story from when the boys were little that we haven't gotten to yet...Hmmmm!
Anyway....you were very brave to go out in 'the old car'....!

PI said...

Naaomi: what I had recently was a refresher course of lessons as I had lost my confidence. They were very rewarding and very worthwhile.

Guyana-Gyal said...

Actually, I thought the 'bold' was a new style...the chit chat posts are normal face and the 'story cont'd' is bold, and I thought, good idea.

You sound like my mum, she didn't have that many driving lessons either. Hm, I wonder if she needs to go to driving school again too, I have conniptions when she drives and I'm in the car.

I still remember her using that left hand to protect young ones in seatbeltless front seat. Seat belts became mandatory here only recently.

I don't understand what the silly old cow was yelling at you, what does 'you're well out' mean? But it was funny, hee hee the way she tormented you every morning.

PI said...

GG: Bold is one thing - a bigger font is another and the two together are too much. The SOC meant I was well out in the road - I had to inch forward in order to see round the bend - which meant she had to swerve a couple of inches . SOC!

Sam, Problem-Child-Bride said...

Double declutching? Shudder. It sounds like something you have to wear an open back gown for.

My husband snores like a stenoric boar with a sinus infection, bless. Sleeping in different rooms occasionally has made all the difference to the length of our marriage. Seriously.

Well done on passing your test so quickly. I bet it made all the difference to be that extra bit mobile.

PI said...

Sam: we all have our little crosses to bear - it's how we deal with them that's important. Yes it was great to feel that little thrill of freedom.

Daphne Wayne-Bough said...

At last! I have been waiting for weeks for your story to pick up. It's getting quite riveting now.

May I tentatively and respectfully suggest that driving tests were not quite as hard in those days ...? (Ducks). I had hundreds of lessons in two different countries and spent hundreds, if not thousands of pounds. I passed fourth time. Nobody would pass with six lessons these days.

PI said...

Daphne: you're absolutely right - and I should have acknowledged that. All the joy has gone out of driving for me now and I'm sure you are a much better driver. My hey day was driving alone to the south of France. Mon Dieu! Brings me out in cold sweat to think about it.

SUE LOU said...

PI- Get a convertible! Puts the joy right back in the driving. I put the top down on my PT Cruiser on the way back from our monthly Red Hat luncheon today. A little chilly, but invigorating and delightful -tooling down the road- Elvis blasting on the Radio-Almost Heaven :-)

By the way I took driving lessons when I was in High School- way too many years ago- and they were for a whole semester (4 1/2 months). We not only had to learn the rules and laws of the road as well as actual driving (both automatic and stick shift), but also memorize all the parts of an internal combustion engine, pass simulator driving as well as driving on the road and watch car accident horror films. - no cost - just part of my government sponsored free public education.

Speaking of driving- have you been to SafeT's blog to see what he did to his 2007 yellow Ford Focus? Takes a Mom's breath away.

PI said...

Sue Lou: I used to have a Triumph Spitfire but when I was decades younger. I'd have difficulty getting in and out of it now. It's time I visited your son''s blog again.

SUE LOU said...

PI - I know what you mean. I had a little yellow VW when Joe was born (35 years ago), and had some small cars after that as well, but could no longer get in or out of anything smaller than my PT now. Seems like the older we get, the larger and more luxurious our cars need to be. My husband drives a Chevy Avalanche truck- it fits him just right. LOL