I was trying for the Institute of Advanced Motorists in a bid to get my hefty insurance premiums down.
My car for the weekend? The sublime Rolls-Royce Ghost.
The IAM method is all about driving to a system, un-catchily named IPSGA. Not a phrase that trots off the tongue, admittedly.
It’s an acronym and stands for Information, Position, Speed, Gear, Acceleration. Approach any situation with this in mind, say the IAM, and it’s impossible to have an accident.
So for the past few weeks in readiness for the Big Test I’ve been brain-washing myself into adopting all the above along with lots of two-handed steering wheel shuffling and deliberate and obvious mirror checks.
“Such is the smoothness of ride and utter silence, 30mph in the Ghost feels like you could pop open a door and walk alongside”
These things are easy in a Rolls-Royce. For starters you’re terrified of everything and everyone around you – it’s a bit like riding a motorbike.
But it’s the price of the car that puts you on edge, not the prospect of pain.
The Information bit is easy. Captaining a land yacht worth as much as a house means you absorb information like the Terminator.
You scan every junction, every parked car, every pedestrian – terrified they will damage your glistening bodywork and finely-sculpted panel work.
Speed is trickier. Such is the smoothness of ride and utter silence, 30mph in the Ghost feels like you could pop open a door and walk alongside.
Thankfully it’s got a head-up display, so concentrating hard on your speed doesn’t involve taking your eyes off the road.
Gears? A doddle. The eight-speed auto box does it all for you with one of the smoothest shift actions around. Gears don’t so much engage as melt together.
Acceleration? How much do you want? A waft or a welly? Take your pick.
The Ghost will increase its speed glacially with no drama or fuss or it’ll flatten passengers’ eyeballs into the size and shape of saucers if you bury the pedal into the lower piles of the soft lambswool rugs. For such a behemoth (three tonnes!) it is stupidly fast if you ask it to be. Check the 0-62 time for proof.
But during my test there was none of this behavior. We wafted up the A15, glided gracefully along the A151 and floated down lane two of the A1.
Yes, lane two. Not the fast lane. Far too vulgar a term, y’know.
My examiner, clipboard on his lap and buttocks cossetted by acres of soft, hand-crafted calf skin, seemed strangely isolated from the real world outside.
And the idiot behind the wheel sitting next to him.
On such an unseasonably hot day, a gentle breath of icy aircon offered similar distraction. But distraction had all been part of my master plan.
Twenty-five years of bad habits had to be disguised somehow.
The Ghost interior is festooned with visual distractions.
You could spend hours admiring the glossy rosewood marquetry on the door cappings and fiddling with the damped, chrome push-pull knobs that control face-level ventilation.
But the full-fat sound system is the biggest distraction – sadly not a suitable decoy during a test situation.
All this other-worldly luxury worked, too. I passed with a First.
Speaking of a first, I reckon that’s the first time anyone’s taken their test in a Roller for quite some time, don’t you?