Wednesday, 23 November 2011

Jumanji!

As my dedicated readers will know, I am currently facing my first driving test in well over a decade. I am, naturally, panicking. For the record and for those of you who have never had the pleasure of being in the car with me: I am an excellent driver. No accidents, no tickets and only a couple of white knuckle moments. The issue is purely having to take the practical test. As I've said before, my concern is failing a driving test with plenty of experience and a spotless record. Mind you, I say this having, since my last post on the topic, passed the written test with an excellent score. Oh, really, don't I deserve to toot my own horn on that just a little?

Our June trip to Wales didn't do any favours for my confidence. Before I go any further, I want to remind you that I have driven all over the world and been driven in Peru, where driving is a full contact sport. The roads aren't any narrower in Wales than they are in Ireland, but they have this really frightening policy of posting how many people have died on whatever particular road your currently navigating.


It was late, pitch black, really foggy and we were utterly and completely lost. I'd be clutching the steering wheel, trying to peer through the fog, eyes open for cars, cliffs and sheep, when suddenly a large sign would flash into view. Not ten feet from the front bumper would be an enormous placard announcing that 64 people had died on that road. Brilliant. That's really relaxing me. How comforting to know. All it did was make me mentally add 2 to the total while asking my other half if this road was more or less likely to bring an end to us than the last one. Needless to say, he loved the romantic evening drive.


Now, many of you may be thinking that the biggest issue might be switching sides of the road as I took that first driving test in the US. I assure you, it is not. I am most worried about the ridiculously complex system of road markings in this country. I do not at all understand why there are so many different signs, lines and names. Honestly, there are at least four types of lines on the road that mean no parking. Why do we need so many? Does it really matter if it's no parking because you're approaching a regular pedestrian or a school crossing? In case you're wondering, that's a white zig-zag line versus a yellow zig-zag line.

What really cracks me up, though are the pedestrian crossings, themselves. They're all named after animals. It's a veritable menagerie out there. You have the standard zebra crossing, of course, but then there's also the toucan crossing and, I kid you not, the pelican crossing. You'd want to be careful, who knows what else could be on these crazy British roads. One moment you're calmly walking in a toucan crossing when suddenly a rhino rounds the corner. Everyone knows rhinos are colourblind, so of course he runs the light and that leaves you in a crumpled heap wondering if you should have gone for the pelican crossing instead.


Still no date for the practical test. I think some lessons might be in order, first. Hopefully, they'll cover wildlife.

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