It’s officially the last day of winter – zippity do da! Oh, happy day. As of tomorrow, it’s Sydney in the springtime once more – just the thought of those longer, warmer days lifts my mood. Not that there’s anything wrong with my mood – I slept through from midnight to 6:30 this morning without a single toilet trip or unexplained awakening. For the third night in a row, no less. So that’s enough to put the spring in my step even without the change of season.
It probably helped that I went to bed absolutely shattered. I’m on deadline for the Varuna News, and I’ve also had some more freelance work come in (Hallelujah – apparently foaming at the mouth about the subbing disaster has done no lasting damage). Then there’s my professional driving lessons – I had the first last week, and yesterday’s was two hours long. Two hours! No wonder I needed a little treat afterwards. And I have another one on Thursday morning, just after I file to my editor.
Driving lessons are expensive. As an older learner, it turns out I’m exempt from keeping the logbook – as of last December, that’s only for learner drivers under the age of 25 – but I really, really feel for all those parents out there. Not only is their teenaged child – and just imagine you have three in the house – now required to complete 120 hours of supervised driving before they can go for their provisional licence, but parents are also digging pretty deep if they’re paying for some lessons too (and professional assistance makes sense for a number of reasons, not least being that 10 professional hours of tuition equals 30 logbook hours). I’m on a 5-hour “deal” that cost $330. I don’t know about you, but I think that’s pretty steep. There’s a test preparation lesson I’ll probably do in another month or so, and that’s another couple of hundred right there. And is it worth it? Well, I have mixed feelings so far.
It’s been awesome for parking instruction. This guy has a formula for parallel parking that is unbeatable. If only I could remember it. But still, it’s foolproof. He has the formula pasted to his dashboard, and I’m going to do the same thing in the Welsh Dragon. Perfect parks, every time. And the same with reverse parking, although I only did that between two parked cars for the first time yesterday, and I need to practise more. That’s all quite nifty – and well worth the lessons. But $66 an hour…? You know, I’m not remotely convinced yesterday’s lesson was worth $132. I drove around the neighbourhood and surrounding suburbs for a while, did some three point turns down a side street, reverse parked in a lot, parallel parked down a residential street, and drove around some more. Meanwhile my instructor chatted – non-stop – about his real estate history, his family tree, his new toy, and his preferred final resting place (he’d like to have his ashes scattered out on the bombora by his surfing buddies).
At last week’s lesson (1.5 hours), I found all this talk profoundly distracting. There’s some driving instruction scattered in there too, don’t get me wrong, but mainly he’s just nattering away about whatever takes his fancy. Like the fact that one of his surfing buddies is a cage fighter. This guy named his son Tyson after you-know-who, but apparently little Tyson (we drove past him, and apparently my instructor is currently teaching this kid to drive, even though to me he seriously looked about 10 years old) is a lover, not a fighter. And indeed he was talking to two foxy blondes as we went by. Then there’s the tattoos on young girls: they might look sexy now, my instructor told me, but just you wait twenty years, when that pretty butterfly on a pert teen bosom has transformed into a gigantic terradactyl. He’s got a point.
Anyway, this week I knew what was coming, and I think I almost courted some of the chat as a way of testing myself. There will be distractions, after all. A crying baby springs to mind. And I’ll have to be able to cope with them. It’s made me realise that Llew and I have been conducting our lessons in near silence, bar instruction, and this guy’s incessant chatter came as quite a rude shock. Can’t you see I’m driving?! Now I think he’s doing me a favour – maybe it’s even tactical. Maybe it’s a deliberate strategy. Or maybe he’s only talking because he’s comfortable with the way I’m driving. Or maybe – and this is the most compelling option – he’s a good old-fashioned blabbermouth who loves a captive audience. He was a cab driver for 30 years before this gig, and after the horrors of that job – the joys of regaling trapped passengers notwithstanding – this must seem like very easy money indeed.
It can’t hurt. I’m not sure it’s worth $330, but it can’t hurt. And now it’s time for me to start punching keys to earn dem beans, so I’ll see you guys tomorrow.