Many people who know me know that I don’t drive in the UK, though I have been a US driver for many years. (American licenses can’t transfer to Europe, though European licenses are inter-transferrable as a rule. UK and Dutch ones certainly are.)
A smaller and less fortunate group of people have been around me at the time of one or both of my British driving tests (both, coincidentally, in October, which is too close to winter for sanity), and have seen how badly I react to failing them. If this isn’t you, dear reader, count your blessings. Seriously.
While we were in California at Easter this year, I did all the driving and really enjoyed it. So when we got back M and I agreed that I should do one more test before we left the UK. It would be like throwing spaghetti at the wall – if it sticks, great. If not, the Dutch test is reputed to be easier, even if all the road signs are in Dutch.
Accordingly, I’ve been taking lessons from the very patient Gareth of Euan’s School of Motoring. My competence as a driver has never been in question, but my nerves were pretty iffy after two failures. Along the way, Gareth and I have discussed the move to the Netherlands, various gems of classical scholarship, the comparative values of swear words between Battlestar Galactica and real life, and of course the odd bit of driving lore. (I talk when I’m nervous.)
I didn’t tell anyone about this, apart from two conversations where it was, for specific reasons, relevant. I simply didn’t want any expectations, didn’t want to tell anyone I’d failed again. It would just sink without a ripple, unnoticed.
And I did everything differently that I could – different test centre (Currie instead of Joppa), had the instructor in the car for the test, every change I could manage. Not to break any “jinx”, but to persuade myself to relax.
And still I was still sure I had failed. I was promising myself that entire bag of Hershey’s Kisses that’s stashed under my bed, with an afternoon of junk TV after the inevitable bad news. I saw the examiner marking minor points against me over and over again (you fail if you get 15 or more, even if all of your major behaviours are acceptable). By the time we pulled into the parking bay at the test centre, I was feeling deeply gloomy.
Well, the fact that you’re reading this means that I was wrong to feel glum. I got 11 minor marks (all due to nerves…you try to do 40 minutes’ drive perfectly error free while shaking like a leaf!) and no majors. I passed. I am now a licensed British driver.
I can use my UK license to drive in the Netherlands (or exchange it for a Dutch one, or use it to get a Dutch one – not sure). This will make logistics a lot easier, particularly if we don’t have childcare in Oostzaan. And I don’t have to sit any more tests, or do any driving lessons!