I decided recently to get my German driving licence exchanged for an Irish one. Now that we in the EU are all one big happy family it should be easy peasy, I thought. I checked out what I'd need in the way of documentation on the online website and made my appointment. So far so splendid. The lady on the other side of the desk looked through my stuff and picked up my tatty, dog-eared German licence.
'I've never seen one of these,' she said and up she got and walked away with it to confer with her colleagues. I would have thought that in these days of data share the information should only have been a mouse click away.
Now, admittedly the licence is 30 years old and I never had it upgraded to one of those smart cheque-card-like jobs. And I do look a bit older these days - yeah, OK, I look like the mother of that lady in the photo. But it is me, I swear. I remember exactly the day I got it.
It was Ash Wednesday and city traffic was light. I didn't make too many mistakes following my first disastrous test a few weeks before on which I shall be discreetly silent. The driving inspector looked deeply into my eyes and said - wait for it - 'shouldn't you be wearing glasses?' I hastened to assure him that I was wearing contact lenses and he really had no option other than to believe me. He then signed the licence and handed it over to me, shaking hands with me as well. It had all been prepared in advance and only needed his signature to make it legal. I was so relieved I could have kissed him, well maybe not but I felt as if I'd been given a gold medal at the Olympics. I'd finally done it. And thus I embarked on a fraught relationship with my driving and the realities of traffic and road signs, kamikaze pedestrians and your-driving-sucks-other drivers.
So how could this lady say she didn't accept this piece of paper which is proof positive that anyone can drive if I can? That's what she did, though. She advised me to contact the German driving licence people and get confirmation that they did issue me with this document 30 years ago. So I went home, wrote a humble email to the people in Flensburg and now await their reply. Maybe they'll be sympathetic, maybe they'll laugh their heads off, maybe they'll ignore me. My driving future rests in their hands. If they don't cooperate I won't get issued with an Irish licence. I could of course sit my driving test here but I doubt if I'd pass it.
So will I be a driving woman or a driven woman? I'm not taking any bets either way.