Since her husband died, nearly two yars ago, she has felt rather stranded without transport and at the age of 54, started driving lessons. The first hurdle was the ‘code’ as you have to pass the theory before you are allowed behind the wheel and it took her three attempts to achieve the passmark of 36 out of 50. A rota of neighbours, including Jay, drove her into town three or four times a week to sweat over the computers at the driving school doing practice tests so she wasn’t the only one to be disappointed at each failure. It was quite a commitment giving her lifts for well over six months.
Finally she passed and began driving.
It didn’t seem long before she took her driving test and I was surprised to find out that the instructor sits in the back of the car but mustn’t say anything and at the end, the examiner doesn’t tell you whether or not you’ve passed.
This is because it has been known for fists to fly in the event of a failure!
Claudine had already bought herself a secondhand car and it was sitting in her garage so she was really disappointed to learn that she had failed – especially since her instructor had led her to believe that she had performed well enough to pass.
However, a few weeks later the chap who had examined her made the front page of the local paper becasue he was notorious for failing everyone. He had been sent off for ‘retraining’ but was just as reluctant to pass anyone on his return.
You’d think they would have given her a free repeat test, but no, she had to pay again.
The new test was scheduled for 8a.m. one morning during the snowy weather. Needless to say it was cancelled and she had to wait several weeks before getting another slot and safer road conditions.
But just over a week ago SHE PASSED!!
Of course, that was a good reason to get out the champagne and invite friends and neighbours round.
She provided apple tart, custard flan and gateau au sucre (a local speciality) and we got through a couple of bottles of fizz before she sobered us up with coffee.
Fortunately no-one had to drive home as the flics round here are horribly hard on anyone caught driving under the influence. In France you lose points for traffic offences and a new driver only has 6 points for the first year, in contrast to the usual 12.