A deep breath and a decision

I have been learning how to drive for the last 12 years. I have failed 4 practical driving tests. I have had 9 different driving instructors. I have taken and passed with 100% a theory test which expired after 2 years about 8 years ago.

Now living in a country where public transport isn’t so bad and bad drivers are increasingly prevalent doesn’t give me too much of an incentive to learn how to drive. I really wanted to in the past hence the 4 tests. My lovely friends do drive me places and give me lifts and I really do appreciate that but I really would love to get behind that driver’s seat and offer to take them places instead. In my mind, it has been building up to quite a big thing.

I had an accident not long before my mum died. My boyfriend of the time was taking me out in his Nissan Sunny for some practice one Sunday and he thought that I was took close to the other cars so grabbed the steering wheel and we ended up in an elderly couple’s garden impact with their brick outhouse only stopped by a wheelie bin. I was pretty shaken by this and had my first panic attack the day after. I was wracked by guilt because not only had the car (I almost said I there) had totalled their garden fence and greenhouse, I had run over their cat’s leg who subsequently had a heart attack and died because of the trauma. Now rather than owning up and saying he’d grabbed the steering wheel and caused me to panic, he let me think that it was all my fault. (That would probably explain why I’m married to pao now, not him.) Maybe it is a Catholic guilt thing but I felt extremely guilty. I was kind of ashamed too, I didn’t want to meet up with my driving instructor after that (That was No. 2, No.1 quit after the first lesson because he was diagnosed as diabetic).

At the time, I didn’t actually like Instructor No. 2. He shouted at me. He basically treated me like an idiot because I just did not get reversing. My brain just doesn’t work that way – ok, I’m a very slow learner. I admit it but then I’m very good at other things.

So I used the excuse of my mum dying to get out of that situation altogether. A year or so later, I was driving round Wandsworth with Instructor No. 3 and then back in Canterbury during my final year at University with Instructor No. 4. We did the same two hour circuit through the villages including Womenswold every week for many weeks.

I met and fell for a guy who lived in Essex so naturally Instructor No. 5 came along and so did Test No. 1. I took Test No. 1 in a town called Chelmsford which had a big and very scary looking roundabout but I was confident, we’d practiced it many times. What I wasn’t prepared for was being too nervous and pulling out in front of a white van at the beginning of the test. I then proceeded to go to pieces after that.

Me and Essex guy then split up and I then took up with Instructor No. 6. This relationship lasted two lessons because he broke his leg and his brother died and he gave up driving instruction. So onto Instructor No. 7, Carlos. I remember his name because he was the one I had for the longest time and after 3 more failed tests, I decided not to do it any more. He was a great instructor and according to him I had all the manoeuvres down perfectly. Heh but not on test day. Test No 2, I failed for speeding but the rest was ok. Test No 3 I took in Herne Bay which I thought might improve matters but this served to make me more nervous because I was unfamiliar with the roads. Test No 4: well, I just went to pieces.

After a long break from driving and driving our lovely old Mirielle (I’ll have to edit this with photos) under pao’s supervision, we bought Marie-Claire. Shiny new Marie-Claire, in fact. The shininess and newness of this car frightened me so I have only ever driven it twice maybe three times since we’ve had it which is almost two years.

So onto Instructor No. 8. I thought it might be good to learn in a similar car to Marie-Claire. However, after 5 or 6 lessons with the man we now scornfully dub ‘King of the Road’, I decided that I had had enough of him and his references to the ‘kerbie werbies’ and going ‘gently gently’ on the clutch when he’d parked up at the end of my road out of sight one day and charged me for half a lesson missed because I didn’t come out of the house in time. He also referred to the road as his ‘playground’. Enough was enough. Besides I had no idea what Instructor No. 8’s name was probably because I was seething because he spent the whole lesson talking about how great he was.

Now I have Instructor No. 9. His name is David. I have skipped seeing him for a long period now because I knew I’d have to pass the theory thing all over again. The theory test has also become harder because there is a hazard perception test. If you fail this, you have failed the whole theory test. Without the theory test, you aren’t allowed to take the practical test.

Motivation to take the theory test has been difficult to muster. I think I’m still scarred by what happened in the past. Also, I’m a slight perfectionist so I get very stressed by any sorts of tests or interviews. I’ve done a couple of mock tests with David and even then, I’ve managed to get several serious faults because he said the word test on that lesson. I had slightly wanted to do it in time for pao’s op but that opportunity has passed. I have found a couple of people who are also taking the theory test so we are going to get together to study together.

Fingers crossed. I’m already feeling my stomach knot up and my shoulders getting tense. I’m going to phone the driving school for another 12 lessons tomorrow. Wish me luck and send some valium. I’ll be needing it.

Get comfortable where you can

The pile of clothes which were in the built in wardrobe now grace one half of our soon-to-be old bed. Ariel has obviously decided that she won’t let a pile of clothes keep her away from her half.

Meanwhile, I have become very popular in my new bedroom. Sadly, there is no where to plug in my electric blanket but I have a number of cats who have decided to sacrifice their body heat and step in to breach the gap.

Closing Ceremony

Please excuse me as I wipe away a tear whilst watching the closing ceremony of the Olympics. That is, a tear of joy and bemusement, rather than tears of sorrow. Currently, there are a couple of hundred Italians dressed as aviators, clowns and other actors dressed as royalty dancing along to the tune of YMCA. Oh, now it is to ‘I will survive’ and, oh, a serious bit, the Greek national anthem for the raising of the Greek flag.

I didn’t have a dilemma about what I wanted to do after the Olympics. I am hooked on socks! Thank you Peevish – the yarn knits so beautifully!

I was allowed to knit whilst pao and his friend decorated so all is well with the world 🙂

This morning the room looked like this…

By 7pm tonight, it looked like this..

Hasn’t pao done well? I think he deserves a beer.

A tail of two kitties and other stories

The decorating is progressing slowly since I am now incapacitated and pao is the only person working on it now. Poor pao. He looks tired.

Before any work could commence today, we had what is becoming a weekly trip to the vet. Merlin was reversing himself through the catflap as fast as possible because Jasper was wanting to come in and they aren’t best friends at the moment. Actually they are never friends. After Merlin had slunk off to lick his sore paw which he got stuck in the catflap as he was reversing, we saw Jasper come in with what looked like a bite on his tail. As Perdita also needed to revisit the vets because her tail was still a little puffy at times, we grabbed both and took them off to Medical. Perdita got away with no tablets this time as the swelling has gone now and her puffiness was probably due to some playfighting with Ophelia. Jasper, however, got a pack of big antibiotic capsules. Now don’t get me wrong but they were the sort of size, I would expect to get if I went to the vet, er, doctors. Jasper starts on these capsules tomorrow morning so it will be interesting to see if a) he lets us put them in his mouth and b) he swallows them. I foresee wet dissolving capsules on the floor but he isn’t too bad at tablet taking.

The room is finally clear apart from the heap of stuff on the bed. I would have to admit that I am not the first to run out and start decorating. In fact, it is the last thing in my mind as a “fun” activity. My idea of decorating is ringing someone in the Yellow Pages but pao is keen to decorate so who am I to stop him? But pao is in a strange mood where he seems determined to decorate til he drops (literally). I’ve had to convince him to stop otherwise he would be no good tomorrow.

Whilst pao was busy with the dust bunnies and junk which had accumulated under the bed, I was happily making Peeve’s stitch markers so that they could get into the post for her delight and joy.

Ophelia, as ever, was only too keen to help.


Phew! Finished with time to spare. Yes, Mrs SJT, I was sitting there knitting like mad! I will now go back to bed.

Sub-trainer Ophelia is proud of her achievements, namely, biting the pointy sticks.

Book meme

This is from Chris’s and Peeve’s blogs but I thought it looked like fun!

Meme instructions: Look at the list of books below. Bold the ones you’ve read, italicize the ones you might read, cross out the ones you won’t, underline the ones on your book shelf, and place parentheses around the ones you’ve never even heard of.

The Da Vinci Code – Dan Brown
The Catcher in the Rye – J.D. Salinger
The Hitchhiker’s Guide To The Galaxy – Douglas Adams
The Great Gatsby – F.Scott Fitzgerald
To Kill a Mockingbird – Harper Lee
The Time Traveler’s Wife – Audrey Niffenegger
His Dark Materials – Philip Pullman
Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince – J. K. Rowling
Life of Pi – Yann Martel
Animal Farm: A Fairy Story – George Orwell
Catch-22 – Joseph Heller
The Hobbit – J. R. R. Tolkien
The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time – Mark Haddon
Lord of the Flies – William Golding
Pride and Prejudice – Jane Austen
1984 – George Orwell
Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban – J. K. Rowling
One Hundred Years of Solitude – Gabriel Garcia Marquez
Memoirs of a Geisha – Arthur Golden
(The Kite Runner – Khaled Hosseini)
The Lovely Bones – Alice Sebold
(Slaughterhouse 5 – Kurt Vonnegut)
Angels and Demons – Dan Brown
Fight Club – Chuck Palahniuk
Neuromancer – William Gibson
(Cryptonomicon – Neal Stephenson)
(The Secret History – Donna Tartt)
A Clockwork Orange – Anthony Burgess
Wuthering Heights – Emily Bronte
Brave New World – Aldous Huxley
The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe – C. S. Lewis
(Middlesex – Jeffrey Eugenides)
(Cloud Atlas – David Mitchell)
The Lord of the Rings – J. R. R. Tolkien
Jane Eyre – Charlotte Bronte
Good Omens – Terry Pratchett, Neil Gaiman
Atonement – Ian McEwan
(The Shadow Of The Wind – Carlos Ruiz Zafon)
The Old Man and the Sea – Ernest Hemingway
The Handmaid’s Tale – Margaret Atwood
The Bell Jar – Sylvia Plath
Dune – Frank Herbert
Curious George – H.A.Rey
Six Dinner Sid

(I’ve added a couple of my own favourites :-))

I love reading almost as much as I love knitting. There were lots of interesting “want to reads on that list”.

I’ve just finished the first Stephanie Plum and I liked it so much I want to read the next now. Thank you Chris for telling me about them! The next on my night-table is “Cold, Pure and Very Dead” by Joanne Dobson.

Now back to the knitting- only a couple of days left. Will I make it by the 7pm GMT Sunday deadline? Here is a photo of progress so far. Ariel doesn’t seem very excited about it though.

Down by the river

Yesterday evening’s dramatic events prevented me from posting about where I went for work yesterday.

I have found out where retired milkfloats go when they leave the dairy.

I saw an old boat.

And an old bus.

And a lifeboat.

And I found the yellow submarine.

I don’t think the photos do justice to how cold and wet it was. The people I went to photograph were deeply unimpressed at having to go outside for their photos but at least I waited for a little dry patch before we dashed out. I was pleased that there was a really decent cafe for a bit of tea and toast and knitting when I’d gotten fed up with strolling round in the wind and rain. I did manage to complete an inch on the socks so I’m very pleased about that. Lots more to go though!

pao is tying my shoelaces again because I woke up with a new kind of backache this morning 🙁 At least I can type for myself now because MrsSJT has bandaged me properly. Hooray for MrsSJT!

A trip to Casualty

pao is having to type today’s entry. As I have sustained an injury on my way to the fridge this evening which resulted in a large gash in my elbow, lots of blood and a trip to casualty for glueing (which did not work as it came apart and started bleeding again) and a tetanus shot. So no knitting or other activity tonight as its very painfull but I did ask the emergency nurse if I was allowed to knit still and he said “it was ok as long as I put a cushion under my arm”. Once the bleeding stops sock no2 will resume.

I had a dilemma when starting sock2: with the self patterning wool I could have tried to find a similar start point as sock1 or just go with the randomness. Guess what I went with the randomness so my socks won’t match. Don’t ask me to wallpaper for you 🙂
[or me – pao]

One sock down

Thank you all for your encouraging comments on my last post. I know that the next few months will prove very interesting. We will get through it even if I have to buy pao a ski mask to wear so that I’m certain I won’t poke his eye out or blind him inadvertantly.

Here is what has occupied my every non-work, non-clearing, non-sleeping moment since I arrived home on Thursday evening.
I was a bit worried that I wouldn’t actually finish both socks by the 7pm Sunday deadline and I am still considering taking a day off work so that I will be finished in time.

So I have a couple of apologies to make:

Peevish: I’m sorry I haven’t quite finished making your stitch markers yet. I will definitely make those tomorrow evening and have your parcel in the post on Wednesday (I would have promised to mail it tomorrow but I’m working at another site I’ve never been to tomorrow which is slightly in the middle of nowhere and I forgot about it until after I got home tonight so have spent silly time trying to find out exactly how to get there which I should have done during the paid participation part of the day).

pao: I’m sorry that I haven’t spoken to you much in the last three days and I have knitted everywhere and sneaked off to knit when I should have been working on the spare oom.

Cats miscellaneous: I’m sorry that I’ve not been cuddling you as much as I would have liked in the last three days. After Sunday, I’m mostly yours. Normal service as cat warmer, feeder and cuddler will resume from 7pm Sunday evening.

I think Ariel is more interested in the pointy sticks.
I did consider photoshopping Phoebe’s red eye but I’m too tired after racing to finish the sock.

An announcement and some Olympic progress

Thank you all for your lovely comments about my London trip. As you may have gathered, I had a great time and it is a day that I will treasure for a long time. Not just because I have a huger stash than before but that I had a nice time with pao. pao now has a date for his operation: 23 March. If I haven’t mentioned it before, pao is having a cornea transplant because he has an eye condition called keratoconus where his eyeball is rugby ball shaped rather than eyeball shaped. So he has worn out his cornea and needs a new one.

pao has asked me a couple of times why I haven’t mentioned it here before as I knew on Tuesday but I suppose it was because it was still sinking in for me. I know he is pretty frightened by the experience and so am I. What with the panic attacks and feeling stressed recently, I think I’ve been filing it. Yes, that’s right, filing it. So I can get it out to deal with when I’m ready which probably isn’t too healthy so I’m taking it out now. I am scared. Terrified. I have to believe what I’ve told pao which is that the operation cannot make things any worse than they are now because essentially he is blind in one eye. A successful op means that pao will be able to see again in that eye so we should be happy, right? Well, kind of, because we both know deep down that someone will die in the next couple of weeks so that pao can have this opportunity to maybe see in that eye again. I know that they are destined to die anyway but it is such a sad thing for that person’s family to have to go through just so that pao can see again. I know they would have died anyway and that we all die one day but after feeling the heartache of my mum and grandmother dying, I feel sad for that person’s family. The donor people did say that pao could write a letter to the family of his donor and I will be encouraging him to do so then that family will know that their loved one did one last good deed. Life is so unpredictable.

I also know that this isn’t the end of pao’s problems. In a couple of years, pao will have to have his other cornea replaced and we’ll be going through the same dilemma all over again. I hope and pray that this op will be a success and pao can have his sight back. My best friend is blind and she is much better at understanding pao and what he is going through. I wish I knew what to say and do. I’m scared of hurting him when he comes home from hospital.

Well, you’ve all been very patient so to reward you with some good news now. Here I present a photo (taken last night) of sock progress so far. Ophelia is quite taken with them and spends a lot of time on my lap whilst I’m making them so I’m scared I’m going to poke her in the eye and then we’ll have matching pirates.