I know I don't look in any way old enough but it's true, I have a 17 year old (was the toast of the Daily Mail having given birth to him aged only 9) and one of the big things about having a child who has just turned 17 is that sooner or later they are going to want to learn to drive.
Well Joe decided that he wanted to learn to drive the second he turned 17. That sadly didn't happen. Having filled in all the forms to order his provisional license and sent the cheque etc they were returned to us. Apparently we had failed on the following points.
POINTS ON WHICH WE HAD FAILED
(I say 'we' I mean 'me' I was the one who was all clever and cocky: It's a government form, how hard can it actually be. VERY! Apparently!
1) Fill in the form correctly
This does not mean 'agree to fill in the form for your 17 then get involved in Coronation Street (worrying about Hayley and Roy) meaning you only do a half arsed job. 'Date of Birth' clearly meant his not mine. (Apparently Joe is now a 39 year old woman!) Here's hoping he can deal with being peri menopausal
2) Send your most recent passport
Ensure you check which passport you are sending. Apparently the passport I sent was of a 3 year old Joe (I'm certain they all melted at the cuteness, I know I did when they returned it) and it did not correspond with the photo of the 17 year old Joe. (Still melted but only because I could only see his face and not hear his angry, accusing voice) Found the most recent passport later (sent it off, not quite feeling the melty love I felt about the 3 year old Joe)
3) Get a signature of a 'qualified' person
Hairdressers are qualified. FACT! Bastards.
So we finally got the provisional through (What do they do at the DVLA? You send a perfectly lovely passport photo and your license comes back looking like you are no stranger to strangling prostitutes behind skips)
So we've got the license and we decide to look into car insurance. Joe's been saving so has enough for a cheap runaround. A friend tells us about a 1L corsa which is apparently the best car for cheap insurance. We go and have a look and it seems OK. It doesn't have tinted windows, it isn't lowered, in fact it's a very sensible car.
I call our insurance to enquire about the cost of getting Joe his own insurance.
After answering 12500 questions (will he ever give a lift to a friend whose Auntie owns a brown Labrador and has revolting piles?) She gears up to give me the price. I'm quite hopeful here. We've bonded. I'm going to her mothers for summer solstice and her and her husband and their three children are coming to us for Burns night (I've explained that my Dad is Scottish and promised he'll play the bagpipes and set fire to a haggis)
Insurance Woman Wendy: I've got you a really great price here
Me: *in the style of Mrs Doyle :Go on....
Wendy: You're going to be impressed
Me *already impressed: Yes
Wendy: £3846 a year
Mental Wendy: Are you still there?
Me: What did you just say?
Mad Wendy: 3846 a year, that's the yearly cost however if you want to break it down you can pay a deposit of 1400 and a monthly payment of £366 a month. (sounding like she'd just offered me the moon on a stick) What do you think of that?
Me: *SHOUTING Just wait!
Lots of mad scuffling while I locate my Texas Instrument Scientific Calculator. (Slice of Pi anyone?)
Me: *SHOUTING LOUDER Wendy? WENDY??? Are you a glue sniffer Wendy?Do you inhale lighter fuel on your breaks Wendy? That's 5792 English Pounds a year! You can buy a house in Peterlee for that Wendy! Do you hear me Wendy? PETERLEE!!
Demented Wendy: I'm still here Mrs Aspinall, there is no need to shout (She can forget Burns night, the horrible robbing cow!)
Me: *calmly now There has clearly been a misunderstanding Wendy. This is a 1L Corsa!Vicars drive them Wendy, and librarians. LIBRARIANS!!!
Stupid halfwit Wendy: That is the price Mrs Aspinall.
I was about to shout a bit more but at this point Phil took the phone off me and hung up. This upset me as he clearly had no idea how close me and Wendy had become. I was about to suggest we all holidayed together on the isle of Mann in June.
Anyway as a result of that, and many similar quotes we decided to insure Joe on our car (still expensive but 'Blimey' expensive, not 'JESUS CHRIST' (collapse and void your bladder) expensive.
So at this point he's had ten lessons and his instructor says he's doing really well; and he is. If we're going anywhere he drives us and he's really calm and confident. Unlike me, I'm a horrible driver (that in itself deserves an entirely new blog post). So as I was saying, he's a good driver so after ten lessons and on the advice of his driving instructor he applied for his theory test.
THIS IS WHERE IT ALL GOES HORRIBLY WRONG.
So today Joe had his theory test. I'd told him not to worry about directions because I was having a decent day (yesterday) so if he walked slow, I'd go with him. However this morning was a different story. I woke in complete agony (stupid fibromyalgia for those who don't know) and told him there was no way on earth I could go with him. He was great about this (he's a really nice lad) and let Phil drop him at the station.
His test was booked for 10am, and he arrived in Middlesbrough at 8.30am. He called me as soon as he got there and I sent him very clear directions a friend had sent me.
TURNS OUT THEY WERE WRONG.
I next heard from Joe (who was following the wrong directions) at 8.40am. He was very angry at this point.
Joe: FFS (we all know what that means, but my parents read my blog so I can't actually say it - yes I am 39 but I get wrong if I swear!) I have no effing idea where I am. I'm in a field with a church in front of me.
Me: Are you sure it's a church
Joe: Well it has a steeple and it's a church so I'm FAIRLY SURE IT'S A BLOODY CHURCH!
At this point I could sense his anger so I re-sent him the directions I'd been given and politely suggested that he'd gone wrong somewhere.
APPARENTLY THE DIRECTIONS I HAD GIVEN HIM WERE NOT JUST WRONG. THEY WERE HORRIBLY WRONG!
Another phone call:
Joe: I'm on the A66 (the dual carriageway that runs through Middlesbrough)
Me: Surely you mean you're near the A66
Joe: No, you fool! Your directions have sent me to the A66. I'm on the hard shoulder bit.
At this point I started to panic.
Me: Joe *shouting* JOE!!! Stay where you are I'll send you a postcode. Put it in your map thingy and follow the route.
Joe: OK just hurry up I've only got 55 minutes
At this point I did what I do best and googled it. I found the postcode within seconds and sent it to Joe. He text me back to say he'd got it and it had given him a route to walk
At this point I was quite calm and confident he was on his way (THIS IS PRECISELY WHY NOBODY SHOULD EVER BE CALM AND CONFIDENT ABOUT ANYTHING I'M INVOLVED IN)
Yet another phone call:
Joe: Mam *getting angry* MAM!!! The app on my phone says I've walked 4 miles, you said it was only 15 minutes away
Me: I'm sure you're nearly there just keep following the map. What are you near?
Joe: A railway track, and the A66.
Phil: *annoyingly interfering in the background* Jools.....JOOOOOLS (this is the way he pronounces my name when I've irritated him - all the time).....JOOLS...he's no where near the test centre, let me speak to him.
Joe: I can't, I have to cross the A66
At this point he was actually crossing the A66 Which if you're from the North East is tantamount to crossing a motorway. WHICH HE DID!
THINGS YOU DON'T EVER WANT YOUR CHILDREN TO DO:
1) Play 'Mummies and Daddies'.In our group of friends this would involve drinking too much wine/gin and getting involved in a conversation which involves violent recriminations about the time Daddy looked at a picture of Linda Lusardi for 3 seconds too long or mummy bought a rug off QVC that really wasn't needed. (IT WAS NEEDED, IT WAS A WELCOME ADDITION TO THE HEARTH, DON'T LISTEN TO WHAT THAT ARSE TELLS YOU) N.B Sorry! I've just been defending that purchase for 9 years now!
2) Eat food off the floor. My children, when they were younger were like rabid dogs, if anyone in our house dropped anything on the floor. Syd at 2 could sniff out an M&M at 60 paces. The dog would still be looking for it and Syd would have snorted it up his left nostril. Things like this are why we're well known at A&E (A&E staff: Hello Aspinall family, who's fallen out of a window/shoved something up their nose/eaten a wine glass tonight)
3) Write about you at school. When Joe was six he was asked to write about his 'special place at home'. He wrote about how he was asked to sit in his wardrobe at home when he was noisy. I had no idea about this until his 'open evening' when his teacher voiced concerns that he was 'FORCED INTO A CUPBOARD'. When i asked the six year old Joe about this he told me he'd made it up so he looked interesting (would have been even more interesting if Social Services had taken cupboard boy into care!)
So back to Joe on his quest to get to the test centre on time. I ring him again.
Me: Joe where are you
Joe: I'm following the directions, I can't talk now, I'm in a bush.
HE'S IN A BUSH! WHY ON EARTH IS MY 17 YEAR OLD SON IN A BUSH?
There is clearly something wrong with him, why can't he just stick to pavements like normal people, instead of scurrying through the undergrowth like a demented stoat. (turns out this was also my fault read on...)
At this point it was well over an hour since he had arrived in Middlesbrough and he was not answering his phone. I was getting a bit panicky when my phone rang; I was Joe
Joe: Mam, I'm totally lost. I've followed the directions to the postcode you've sent me. I've ran most of it and I'm now 8 miles outside of Middlesbrough.
Me: You can't be Joe. I sent you the right postcode.
Joe: I'm in the middle of an industrial estate. I've had to cross the A66 four times, it's a miracle I haven't been crushed by a lorry.
Me: Well I don't know what to say......(at this point Phil took the phone off me and spoke to Joe)
Phil: Joe what postcode did she give you (Joe tells him). (Stupid clever Phil-face googles it!)
She's given you the postcode for the TA testing centre, you're near Stockton, stay there I'm coming for you! (At this point they conspiritorily laugh -I make a mental note to blow my nose in their pants/socks before I put them in their drawers)
YES THAT'S RIGHT. I'd sent the poor lad 8 miles out of his way by giving him the wrong postcode.
Phil spent the next hour driving round Teesside industrial estates looking for him.
Neither of them spoke to me for the rest of the day.....Needless to say I'll be paying for his re-sit!
Anyone need directions?