Back in the day, you could pass your driving test with a wink and a smile. Well, that’s how my mother passed hers anyway. The 60’s were a simpler, slower paced time. When my mother first started to drive there were hardly any cars on the road. Her father bought her first car. He had a few bob. He was an undertaker and his wife was a midwife. Basically if they didn’t get you on the way in, they’d get you on the way out.
So my mother was very popular with the local girls. She would pick them up and drop them home from Ranks flour mill, where they all worked at the time. But luxury was not always guaranteed. They had to use umbrellas in the car when it rained. Car pool meant something different in them days. There were holes in the floor and the windows were stuck. My mother thought she was a rock star.
“I promise I won’t crash
The day came when she had to get her full licence. In she went to Limerick County Council. She filled out a form, told them where she worked and promised not to crash the car. That was it. She was handed her licence. And she still has it to this day. Don’t get me wrong, she deserves it. She is a very competent driver. In fact, she thought me to drive.
But life isn’t as simple for me. Although my car boasts electric windows and doesn’t require an umbrella on a wet day, I have to attend drivers boot camp before they will give me a full licence. “Are you old enough to be on the internet?” you may ask. Yes I am 38. I should explain…
My youth was spent on planes, trains, ferries, buses and the odd mule. I liked to travel so I had no need nor want of a car. On my return to Ireland I employed the generosity of my family to cart me around if I needed to leave the city boundaries. Eventually I was bullied into learning to drive. To cut a long story short, I eventually took a test, or 3. The reason they failed me the first time was for not looking in my mirrors enough. The second time was for looking in them too much. The third time I didn’t turn up, for fear.
I am a good driver. I have thought my friends to drive. I’ve given parallel parking tips to my sister (I even drew a diagram) who passed her test 10 years ago. So why did I fail my tests? Well, I took them at a time when the government were outsourcing to private test centres. When I failed both tests, their parting words to me were “See you next time!” No you bloody won’t says I and drove off – unaccompanied (!).
So I waited until the back log depleted and decided to trust the judgement of a salary paid civil servant. But then I realised my licence was out of date. I sent off my form and passport photos, only for them to be sent back with a stern note informing me that there should be no winking nor smiling on the photographs.
I give up.