We all dislike our driving licence photo don’t we? I look like a terrified, but hard core criminal in mine. No, I am not going to display it here. Why on earth aren’t we allowed to smile in these photographs? Just a shadow of a grin would help a lot.
IN THE BEGINNING….ULVERSTONE
My father taught me drive. Nothing wrong with that, except that he had previously taught himself to drive (in a fashion) by pottering around one of our farm paddocks in an old dodge ute (see below). I’m afraid his ineptitude was passed on to me.
I bought my first car at eighteen, from Jacks Garage; a brand new, white Corolla for $1,750. It was a red one I wanted really, but they only had white. My father said that was a good thing because, ‘Red cars go too fast‘. How did I pay for it? Well, my saved wages at the P.W.D. and bean picking during my holidays. Hire purchase had to cover the rest.
The day before my test I drove four miles to work without a licenced driver with me. Wrong I know, but this was because Dad had to take his latest utility in for a service. ‘Just drive quietly behind me and you’ll be alright,‘ he said. Fortunately all went without incident.
My driving test took place in our small Tasmanian town of Ulverstone. The police tester had issued my learner’s permit three months earlier and I’d also booked my test with him. Unfortunately he remembered me and my Corolla very well. The first thing he said was, ‘Well you seemed to be driving OK across the bridge yesterday.‘
Oh good grief, I almost fainted and even Dad looked a bit shaken.
My father sat in the back with the Constable, who joked that he would be extra hard on me as punishment for my transgression. In fact, the pair of them chatted about the football, except for a brief moment when I heard, ‘Don’t you have a top gear in this car?” Such was my nervousness that I’d been tootling along in third. I wasn’t asked to reverse park (thank you Constable, God and St. Christopher), and I managed very well on the hill start up to the look-out. That was my one area of expertise, because we lived on a hill and I often had to stop for cows.
I’d messed up one of the written questions (something about passing on a narrow bridge) but I passed the overall test easy peasy. Dear me, what a joke! A licence to create havoc.
I owned three cars over the next few years, between various working holidays overseas. Only ever smashed one, a Morris 1100. I careered off a wet road in Devonport, spun a couple of times, hit a stationary taxi and ended up in a hedge. No injuries miraculously and the taxi driver kindly drove me in to the office.
During the period I owned the above car I met my now husband, Rob. He was racing cars on Tasmania’s main circuits back then, so you can imagine his shock and horror when I took him for a ride one day. I think it was my cornering that he found the most frightening.
MANY YEARS ON…..AND AN UNBLEMISHED RECORD
These days I have a gold licence…..not one single point lost. I had been caught speeding as a very new driver, but I burst into tears and they let me off with a stern warning. BUT…..I feel a complete fraud. You see I haven’t actually driven for forty three years, since moving to Sydney. Well, it’s a lot busier here than in Ulverstone and I am well aware of my limitations. The problem is that I have nightmarish thoughts about motor registry officials seeing through me and demanding another driving test.
My licence is kept up purely for proof of identity. Otherwise I would have to carry my passport everywhere.
Friends wonder how I cope, but it’s fine…..I can easily walk to the village where I live in the Blue Mountains. Plus, I have a live-in chauffeur and a well used Opal travel card.
By the way, my squeaky clean driving history qualifies me for a massive discount in renewal fees. MORE GUILT!
I have always been short sighted, but now that I am quite elderly my increasing long sight has sort of evened things out and I only wear glasses for watching TV. When my last ones fell apart years ago I couldn’t be bothered with the hassle of the optometrist and just hunted out an old pair. However, they are not great, so doing the eyechart test increases my anxiety level by a couple of hundred percent!
And this, dear readers, is why I look like an aged ‘rabbit in the headlights’ (pun intended) in my licence photo. Rob has suggested I go into the Motor Registry Office and have a sneaky pre-peek at the eyechart. In the event that I can’t read far enough down it will be off to the wretched optometrist.
Wish me luck please. I have until November 13 before expiration.
NOTE – I HAVE TO CONFESS TO HISTORIC FRAUD IN ANOTHER AREA OF MY LIFE – MUSICAL ABILITY