Someone asked me what was the most embarrassing thing that has happened to me, for that I would have to go back, way back to when I was sixteen, in 1980 and in my last year of High School. One of the perks of being in Grade 10 was that in the last term, all the 16 yo grade 10’ers got to do Driver Training, driver training was split up into two sections, the first section was theory, where you learnt about the road rules and stuff like that, in order to get into the second
section, you had to pass the first section with at least 75%, being the smart arse that I was I managed a score of 100%.
So I was looking forward to driver training, which that year was being held at Baskerville Raceway, since none of us had learners permits and were not allowed to drive on public roads. We arrived at Baskerville and the road safety guys
explained how it was going to be done, in alphabetical order, which meant that of course I was waaaay down the list, last in fact, we’d each get 10 minutes pre drive instruction in the car, you know, pointing out the pedals and gears and
stuff, then we would be allowed to drive once around the circuit slowly, and then if our instructor thought we could be trusted, another turn around the circuit, at a semi decent speed.
So I waited for what seemed like hours for my turn, watching everyone else have their turn and have what seemed like a great time, then finally they got to me, so I got into the car, the instructor pointed out the go faster pedal, the stop
pedal, and how exactly to change gears, and the importance of looking in the rear vision mirror, all the important stuff like that.
Under the watchful eye of the instructor I crept around for my first circuit of Baskerville, at the stately speed of 20km an hour, I only crunched the gears a couple of time, and I thought I did really well, so did the instructor because
he said that I could have another circuit, because by this time I was the last person in the car to have ago, the rest of the students were standing around waiting for me to finish.
For some strange reason, the instructor asked three of the boys if they wanted to come in the car for my last lap, so I started around the track again, with Robert, Alan and Robert in the back seat, all giving me helpful and not so
helpful hints, since they’d all be brought up on farms, they’d been driving since they were old enough to sit on a pillow to bring them up to look over the steering wheel, I was from suburbia, and the only times I’d been in a car was as
The track was set up so that we were on the inside track, with a barrier of hay bales, witches hats and some portable fencing separating us from the middle of track which had the race club storage shed, and a few other bits and pieces on
it, so I was about half way around the track, going somewhat above 40km , the instructor told me that I could go faster, so I accelerated to about 55, which felt like I was speeding around the track, the boys started woohooing and
calling me the Alan Jones of BHS, then all of a sudden there was this horrible scream from the back seat.
I jumped and my foot accidentally pressed on the accelerator, and the car shot forward off the track, through the witches hats, through the hay bales and headed straight for the shed, however one thing I hadn’t noticed before, was that in the middle of the track someone was grazing a herd a sheep, the sheep scattered before the car running in all directions, I managed to take my foot off the accelerator, and the car came to a gentle stop over the rough ground of the middle, the car was surrounded by madly baaaing sheep, covered in wisps of hay, and had a witches hat perched rakishly on the windscreen.
We all got out of the car, slightly shaken and surveyed the damage, luckily there was only a very small dent in the car and a great smear of blood, caused by a sheep, who was now deceased. It turned out that a bloody great huntsman had crawled out from the back door and that’s what made Robert scream. Robert, Alan and Robert decided to walk back to where the rest of the kids were, the instructor backed the car back onto the track, avoiding the sad sheep corpse and
I got back in the car and finished my lap.
Unfortunately by the time I got back, the three boys had already made it back and the story had spread, and it grew in the telling, funnily enough, there was very little mention of the fact of WHY we’d gone off the track, the spider
wasn’t mentioned at all, and they made it seem as if I’d just swerved off the track because I couldn’t steer properly.
By the time we got back to school, my trail of damage not only included the car, which was a write off, I’d also demolished the shed, destroyed multiple hay bales, and witches hats, but also I’d massacred a whole herd of innocent sheep, according to the story, I ploughed through the herd tossing sheep into the air as I went, their pitiful baas as I run them over, willy nilly.
For weeks after, wherever I went people would baa at me and think it was hilarious, no one believed what had actually happened, not when the three boys kept on embellishing the story.