Spraypainting flowers

Now I remember why I drink so much. A week or so sober and I’m a veritable maelstrom of unexamined feelings. It doesn’t help that I’m physically exhausted. Sitting on a moving engine for hours trying to notdie is going to do that to anyone. I have tears close tonight and I’m not entirely sure why and it’s probably just exhaustion and worry. I’ll probably sleep quite early and have crazy crazy dreams and wake up feeling fine and go ace the test. Right now I want to phone my mum and cry.

I’m in Rochester. There was a cheapass Airbnb right next to the only testing centre in the UK that could get me a slot for my theory test on time. It’s at 9am tomorrow and I wasn’t going to risk rush hour trains and at that price it’s worth it.

The whole reason I’m rushing myself up onto a big bike is because I don’t trust the rail companies. If I miss or fail this test tomorrow then I’ve wasted a ton of cash on non refundable practical exams I’m not going to be allowed to take in Oxford.

Rochester right now though. A little pocket of England I haven’t really examined. And despite my curious soul, I’m not going to examine it tonight. I’m going to grab something comestible, look at some lines, play some DVLA video games about “hazard perception”, which are less about real life than they are about guessing the intentions of whoever made them, and do another mock test just for the hell of it even though I’m an encyclopedia of stopping distances and signage and rules and details and obscurely worded ridiculous bollocks designed to catch out and not to reveal competence. No point having a spongebrain if you don’t use it. The theory test is a commitment test first, and a theory test second. It’s also an English comprehension test, as sometimes the questions are so obtuse and bassacred that you need a comprehensive lexicon to surmount them. Sebastian Vettel would definitely fail this theory test if he did no prep. It’s designed so you have to prep. So I’ll prep.

Then I’ll wash, and fall asleep keeping this malaise at bay. From experience when I feel like this I’m about to get sick. That had better not be the case this time. Too much to do.

Today I met Paul in the car park of the Sattavis Patidar centre. I’m training through Lightning because they’re based near Oxford. That way if I fail mod two I might (probably won’t) be able to get another shot at it before crunch. Plus they have a base in Wembley, here, in the car park of this obscurely named event centre. I’ve googled a bit and can find no sense in the name. My best guess is that it’s a conflation of all the names of the “team of architects” who built it. They use it for events, and the car park is huge. But after we get back from some street riding we discover the car park to be full of cars for an orthodox wedding, and Paul has a heated discussion with shoutyman who is trying to use every inch of space to park wedding cars. Here’s a photo I took in the morning. It looks like a selfie but actually it’s about the guy who is literally spraypainting the “fresh” white flowers lilac. He had loads of them. It stank like the Old Vic Tunnels. And it was a wonderful discussion about the distance between fantasy and reality. Real cut flowers. Sodden with spray paint. Dried in time. “Wow those flowers look so bright!” I didn’t want to directly photograph him as he’d probably get weird about it.


We ended up missing out on the last couple of hours training because of the wedding as there was no space to do it. Paul had a proper rage on after spending all day reminding me to relax, and eventually chose to sit talking to us so we felt we had our money’s worth. He’s a good teacher. I was happy and knackered.

The test, the theory test, all of it is just spraypainting flowers. If we are the right colour when the examiner is looking at us then we pass. I just need to hope that the colour runs deeper. I enjoy not being dead.

Author: albarclay

This blog is a work of creative writing. Do not mistake it for truth. All opinions are mine and not that of my numerous employers.

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