It’s the night before the driving test and I’m physically ill. I’m revising road signs that I swear I’ve never seen before and I’m half dreading/hoping that the RSA will cancel my appointment due to frost/administrational error/a severe case of gout.
I manage to get about 45 minutes of uninterrupted sleep before I drag myself out of the enveloping warmth of my bed and force myself into the Avensis of Potential Mass Destruction.
Papa Bear is accompanying me to the test, dutifully quizzing me and giving me last-minute pointers. It’s all going well until we pull into town, and here is where I’ll give you one piece of advice – never do a practical driving test the day before the rag. Just don’t.
So anyway, my brain and my hands decide to part ways as I continue to make silly mistakes at roundabouts and fail to check my mirrors every two and a half seconds. When I nearly flatten a schoolgirl at a zebra crossing, I lose my shit and start sobbing.
As we pull up to the test centre, I’m calm, collected and ready for business. Bawling is so therapeutic, even if there is mascara on your chin.
I meet my instructor and hold out my hand to shake his; something he either doesn’t see or chooses not to – equally embarrassing on my part.
“Hi, how are ya doing?” I garble.
“Michelle. Take a seat. The first part of your test will now begin,” replied a man with the most monotone voice I’ve ever heard. We’re talking Fr Purcell on Father Ted here, it was truly the most boring voice in the world.
This continues into the car, whereby Mr Roboto takes a seat and sets his facial expression to stone for the next half-hour.
In my head, things are running smoothly. I manage all my manoeuvres with ease (the hill start was textbook, I’d write home about that one). No chancey pedestrians, no kids with stray footballs and not a cyclist in sight.
Unfortunately, this is not enough for The Terminator as he breaks the news to me in a manner I would only deem acceptable for a mortician.
“I’m afraid, Michelle … (pauses for effect) … that I do not have very good news for you.”
What, did I accidentally run over my father and not realise it? Is it the dawning of a post-2016 apocalyptic world whereby Tom Cruise has failed to save the day and the only people remaining on Earth are the people who skip queues, spit on the street and don’t wait for people to get off the bus before they get on? No. I just didn’t pass the test. He gives me a brief run-through of my flaws, indicating the areas where I need to practise. Every area.
Tears are pricking the old peepers again (it’s the rag, I cried later that day at Joseph Gordon-Levitt doing a backflip on Graham Norton) and I sense his discomfort at human emotion. He averts his gaze and says I am free to go.
Papa Bear collects his bag of hormonal spawn at the door and takes me for coffee. I am reassured by loved ones for the rest of the day that the instructor is only a bollix, and that I am perfect. Just as I am.