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Sunday, 10 November 2013

In The Avenues and Alleyways

The right colour, but not our car I'm afraid!

Continuing the story that began with An 'L' of a Time

The last time we were together, I was telling you about setting off on my first Driving Test and how delighted I was that we appeared to be heading for the area around my home in South Broadway Street, Burton. 

I viewed this as a good omen.  How could I go wrong?  I knew, as the saying goes, every crook and nanny in the area (which wasn't too far from the truth).  Accordingly, I sailed around the back streets of my neighbourhood with confidence.  As far as I was concerned, everything was going swimmingly.  The turning around in the road, the reversing around corners, the hill starts, even the emergency stop, all went as well as I could have hoped.  On a little cloud of misplaced confidence, I drove back down Burton High Street heading for the Test Centre in Rosemount Road.  With hindsight, it would have been a really good idea to have kept an eye out for people waiting to cross the zebra crossing leading over to, what was, Bargates.  I didn't.  Apparently somebody was waiting to cross and I didn't see them.  As you might imagine, this was somewhat fatal to my hopes of passing first time.  From the list provided, that was not my only discretion, but was certainly the icing on the cake as far as my Examiner was concerned.

Pat was decidedly unhappy that I hadn't delivered a First Time Pass and he drove us back to Burton chuntering about the mistakes I had apparently made, more in sorrow really than anger.  Talking it over during my next lesson, Pat suggested that part of the problem might be that I had no driving practice between our lessons.  He was, of course, absolutely correct and, as luck would have it, something came along to solve that problem.

Dad and I came into a little money.  No great fortune but, inevitably, it burned a hole in both our pockets.  Rather than see it vanish across the bar counter, which was always a strong possibility, we decided to invest in a second-hand car.  Not unsurprisingly, my dad knew someone who had a car for sale, and before very long we were the joint owners of an ancient but respectable Morris 1100. 

In many ways this was a good car in which to learn.  It was basic, had no major problems that we could see and was reasonably forgiving.  It did, however, mean that I had to spend some time learning with my dad.  We all know that learning with a relative is fraught with problems and we were no exception.  The only time that I could nag him to go out with me was on a Sunday afternoon, when he really wanted to sleep off Sunday lunch and the few pints before it.  He was, therefore, not in the best of humours and this didn't improve as I crashed the gears and nervously tackled the considerably more primitive controls, in comparison to the Honda Civic I had so far spent my time driving.  After a couple of sessions that largely consisted of us screaming at each other and ready to do violence at any moment, there was an unspoken agreement that we wouldn't do this again.

The outcome was that I decided that the only way to get in the additional driving practice I needed was to get Kevin to sit with me.  Unfortunately, the only problem that the car had was that it was incapable of holding its charge.  After a week of being used intermittently (we could only afford the petrol to run it from time to time), by Sunday the car would not start.  The answer was to draft in all of my mates on a Sunday morning to push the car up and down South Broadway Street until we managed to bump-start the thing.  This could be quite an arduous exercise and I will always remember one very sedentary friend being commandeered one week and having to sit down and recover for quite some time after the first abortive attempt.

I might not be able to drive yet, but I certainly wouldn't need a gym subscription.


The latest collection of Philip's stories is A Kick at the Pantry Door

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