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Tuesday, December 06, 2005

My time in the post-office queue this morning was livened up by the crazy man in combat fatigues who told me all about his central heating problems while doing a strange little dance. He was amiable enough I suppose, certainly not at all threatening - but it was a very long twenty minutes.

However, it was worth standing in the queue, because, with any luck, I will have a British driving licence in a couple of weeks.

It's been a bit of a performance organising one, largely due to my lack of administrative skills. When we were still in South Africa, we were supposed to convert our old drivers' licences (which were in our ID books) into credit-card style ones. I let that slide ... and let it slide ... and let it slide ... and then we went to the states, so I totally forgot about the issue.

When we arrived in the states, I discovered that it wasn't an option to convert a South African driver's licence to a US one, so I had to redo the test. Which - although I got nervous about it - was pathetically easy.

But you can't convert a US licence to a UK one without taking the UK test. And the UK test is really hard; people at Bobby's work who've moved here from other countries say that you absolutely have to take some (expensive) lessons from a driving school, and even with the lessons, most of them seem to have had to redo the test three or four times before they've passed.

Then we learned the good news - you can convert a SA licence without taking the test - and the bad news - you can only convert the credit-card style licence. After much wailing and gnashing of teeth and googling, I discovered a site for ex-South Africans living in the UK, and they had a work-around for the problem - one can ask the SA licensing people for a letter of authority, which, along with the ID book, is apparently good enough for the UK people. Technically the are only supposed to do this if you left the country before '99, but I thought I'd try anyway. And, after jumping through a few more hoops, my letter of authority arrived in the post a week or so ago. Thank goodness.

Cross fingers that nothing goes wrong with the exchange process; once I have a UK licence our car insurance rates should drop dramatically, which will improve our finances.

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