Eventually, I took a driving test. But Mister Much didn’t think much of my motoring skills

Suzanne Moore learns to drive and finds an accidental therapist.

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People are evangelical about driving, aren’t they? I had made some attempt when young but was put off by a Swiss Tony-type driving instructor.

“Changing the gears is like making love,” he used to say. Then he shouted at me when I ignored some traffic lights in Potters Bar, so that was that.

But later on I found myself again being urged to drive, “for the sake of the children”.

Someone recommended a very patient instructor. Neville was having some sort of existential crisis. Every lesson was spent going through alternative career choices. Could he be a journalist? An estate agent? Or put in fitted kitchens? A great weight of defeat hung over him as he explained what a clutch was while I would explain to him that my main problem was that I did not feel the car was an extension of my ego but alien to it.

“Do you think I could become a therapist?” he asked.

The driving lessons/co-counselling went on for ever, as neither of us spoke of “the test”. Eventually I felt I should mention it.

My goal was not so much to be able to drive as to relieve him of his misery.

I was unbelievably nervous. A driving test was someone judging me on whether I could do something properly. No one seemed to care about my interpretation of driving.

There was only one way to cope so I amassed a wondrous collection of drugs, including some from the builder who was doing my loft.

“This sorted out my back. You won’t feel a thing.”

By the time I arrived at the prefabricated test centre with Neville, I was totally off my head.

The examiner came and introduced himself. “Hello, Miss Moore. I am Mr Much.”

This caused me to collapse in hysterics for ten minutes. Mr Much looked alarmed. “And now, when you have gathered yourself, perhaps we can go to the car.”

“The car?”

It had never occurred to me to note the car I had my lessons in. Was it blue? It had a big BSM sign on top of it. As we walked outside, I saw there were loads of them.

By the time I’d tried to break into the fifth car, I sensed I was not doing well. Eventually a door opened and I got in. Phew! I even remembered some sort of manoeuvre with initials about mirrors. Then I heard a tapping on the window. It was an exasperated Mr Much: “You have to let me into the car, too.”

From there things went downhill.

Neville was waiting for me.

“I couldn’t even find the car,” I said. “Why don’t you admit I am the worst person you have ever had?”

“But you are not! I had one recently that when we got to the test centre just made a run for it.”

There was hope for me yet. And Neville.

Suzanne Moore is a writer and columnist. In 2019 she was joint winner of the Orwell Prize for journalism.

This article appears in the 23 January 2015 issue of the New Statesman, Christianity in the Middle East

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