Thursday, 28 June 2012

Tales From A 1980's Man Down Under - The Driving Test

Driving was easier thirty years ago. Australia was the first place to try and improve the standards, particularly on Drink and Drive. There was the uncorroborated figure banded about that twice the number of people had died on the roads in Australia tthan had been killed in both the Great Wars. Sounded like over-enthusiastic pub talk, but there was most definitely a serious problem.

After my tractor smash/concussion, I thought it would be a good time to start being a learner driver. I started with a friend who castigated me for running over a snake.

'You bloody idiot,' she yelled 'it will still be alive.'

She ordered me out of the car. 'I'll have to show you the correct way. No good just driving over a snake - it will bounce back like a rubber tyre. You see you've got to hit the brakes just before you hit it and skid over it.'

By the time we'd turned round, the Tiger snake had slithered happily off into the bush.

'Darn it,' she said smacking the steering wheel. That was the first and last lesson I had from her.

I had the odd lesson from a professional Driving Instructor in Brisbane.

But I took my first test in a country town in the bush. Those were the days when a Policeman could be the examiner. The Sergeant came out of the station and shook my hand. We drove round the block, seeing most of the one-horse town and reversed into the parking space outside the station.

'Well done - you've passed,' he said signing the official piece of paper. 'Tea break, now. fancy a cup?'

As I drove back home along the main street, a car parked outside the pub reversed hastily, without looking into the middle of the road. The car I was following was unfortunately in the way and its front wing disintegrated.

The two drivers walked calmly back to the pub and took quite some time to swop details, no doubt over a schooner or two.

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