If you have ever had the misfortune to leave food within a five metre radius of me, you will be painfully aware that self-control is not exactly my forte. I have basically resigned myself to a lifetime of rehearsing my apologetic smile and hoping that nobody hits me in the face. However, last week, after failing yet another driving test, I came to a strange realisation: the Leighton Buzzard driving examiners have seen me cry more often than many of my closest friends. With the exception of a few weeks during sixth form when I was taking antibiotics that had the mortifying side effect of making me frequently and spontaneously burst into tears, crying in front of people – especially people who don’t share my DNA – is something I avoid at all costs.
Boyfriend (who, just to be very clear, is not in any way related to me) was decidedly sceptical about my claim that a small group of DSA employees have been witness to my tears more than people who know me well enough to never leave their salt and vinegar products unattended in my presence. This is probably because Boyfriend has seen me cry so many times that he suffers from semi-permanent mascara stains and at some point soon is going to start associating me with the smell of salt. Nevertheless, I do not have many friends who have seen me cry more times than I have failed a driving test – which may not be a testament to my driving ability but is definitely evidence that I do possess a few ounces of self-control.
So, if I can hold it together under normal circumstances, what is it about a driving test that makes me unable to stop myself from crying like a baby? And what can I do to control myself and finally pass? … No, really, those weren’t rhetorical questions: what can I do? Using public transport in Cornwall is like being in a Louis Theroux documentary. Help me.
I have tried to reason that, much like a spider, the driving examiner is probably more scared of me than I am of them; but this has never cured my fear of spiders and spiders don’t have the means to provide me with a driving license. I have tried thinking positive thoughts during the test; but never succeeded in anything other than a petrified mental repetition of swear words in various languages. And as for my mother’s advice to imagine the driving examiners naked; this actually makes them a good deal more scary than fully clothed.
Short of having a few shots of vodka before my test (which I fancy may be frowned upon by the Driving Standards Agency) I am depressingly out of ideas.
I do of course know that, apart from being incredibly frustrating and expensive, the repercussions of a string of failed driving tests are pretty much non-existent. Sure, I spend more time on buses than any sane person wishes to spend, but I have friends who love me enough to put up with me eating their food and a boyfriend who loves me enough to put up with me being ever so slightly hysterical.
And yes, it would certainly be nice to travel without fearing for my life, but something tells me that after four failed driving tests it is quite possible that any number of eccentric Cornish people on a bus are less of a danger to me than I am to myself.