Episode 142. Aixam 500-5. WJ52 WNV. (Part 4).

When I bought this thing I promised my two little monsters that at some point I would let them drive it. My reasoning was that it's pretty small, light, and with only two gears, forwards, and reverse I figured that all they'd need to worry about was steering and stopping. I really couldn't see how it could go wrong.

A couple of nights ago a friend of mine, a mid-thirties man who lives with his Mum on my street expressed interest in having the Aixam because he doesn't have a car licence, and thought that something like the Aixam would be easy enough for him to drive. So he asked me if he could test drive it as he'd never driven a car before, I figured that since he rides a motorcycle it should be OK, and so one evening off we went. Well, to my surprise it wasn't good, he seemed to have trouble holding the car in the correct place on the road (like the left hand side of the road for instance!), going around corners, and stopping. Infact, to cut a long story short He seemed to have a little bit of trouble controlling the beast! To be honest, there were a couple of times when I felt like reaching for the steering wheel, but as there was nothing else about I managed to stop myself. I remember when I was learning to drive my Mum would often reach for the steering wheel, and keep her hand on the handbrake, I found this quite off putting, and so, against my better judgement I managed to keep my hands in my lap. Actually in the end I sat on my hands, I figured that at the very least it might stop the poop coming out! After his test drive he told me that actually he has only got his CBT, and so he was restricted to mopeds. Nothing wrong with that, but I wish I'd have known sooner, but like I say, I figured that by your mid-thirties most fellas had got a little experience behind the wheel of something, but in the case of my neighbour, not so much!

Anyway, armed with this new knowledge of just how interesting it can be driving in a car with someone who has absolutely no idea what they're doing, I was less interested in my two little monsters having a go. But, I did promise them they could have a go if they wanted, and as I'm getting around to the idea of selling it, they should drive it sooner rather than later. Friday night I was discussing the idea of selling it with Mrs Clint while we were eating our dinner, my two little Monsters piped up that I can't sell it yet, as they'd not yet had a go at driving it. So I said, OK, you can drive it tonight, but we're going to have to go out really late after everyone else has gone to bed! I told them to set their alarms for 01:00hrs, then we'd take it out and they could drive it.

My feeling was that even if they did set their alarms for 01:00 hrs, they probably wouldn't be so interested in going out for a drive...

01:00hrs, I hear the beeping of multiple alarms! I figured that even though the alarms were going off there was a good chance that they wouldn't get up. Within about two minutes of the alarms going off my two little Monsters were stood infront of me, fully dressed and ready to go. It's funny because on a school day it takes them over an hour from the sound of their alarms going to when they have enough clothing on them that I feel would be enough to not raise any eyebrows at school, yet here they were ready to go in just two minutes... If they can do it in the middle of the night, they'll be doing in first thing every weekday morning from here on in! I don't really like going out after the curfew, and in my town by 01:15 the curfew had been in force for about 15 minutes, and as such the streetlights were out and it was really dark! We eventually found the Aixam and got in. I told my two little Monsters that what we'd do is find an empty car park, and they could have a go around there.

We drove about for a while, and although most of the car parks were pretty qiuet there were too many other obsticles in the car parks to hit, things like walls, fences, and  even steel pillars! Besides, despite the added excitement of ramps going up and down I really fancied letting them go someplace where they could put their foot down a little and experince the full power of the mighty Aixam!

After driving around all the car park structures in town I suddenly had an idea, what about the Park and Ride car parks? They're flat, and quite big. We headed out to the biggest of the two, however when we arrived there we found a gate across the road going into the car park. By all accounts the council lock the car park every night at 21:00hrs these days due to several occasions when travellers had arrived in the night and set up camp in the past. Of course what they don't put a gate across is the narrow foot path, and as the Aixam is just over four feet wide we were soon blezzing along that foot path! We were in, I looked at my oldest Monster who was sitting in the front beside me and said, right then, you're up, do you want a go? She was quite hesitant and undecided as she thought that she might get in trouble. But then the decision was made for her when my littlest Monster climbed through from the back and just said, "I'll do it!" With the biggest Monster now relegated to the back seat, and me in the front passenger seat I said to my littlest Monster to adjust the seat to where she could reach all the controls, then buckle up for safety. She didn't need to move the seat much, and was soon buckling up. "Now what?" She said. I said, right, the pedal on the right is for GO, the pedal on the left is for WHOA! Now turn the key, start the car, push it into gear, and off we go. "OK" she said, and did just that. We set off down the long straight of the car park and so far so good. The position on the road seemed OK, atleast we were on the left, and the speed seemed OK too. Around the corner and up the other way, again all seemed pretty good. So far I'd not even felt the need to reach the steering wheel, let alone sit on my hands to stop the poop coming out! We did a couple of laps, and then as we rounded the corner before the long straight she said, "Right, I'm gonna gun it now!" And put her foot down, the Aixam crept forward, but pretty soon we were approaching the end of the long straight at 50 m.p.h.! She broke hard and pulled up just infront of the gate. "That was AWESOME!" she said. "Right." Came the voice from the back seat, "My go now!" I got out, my littlest Monster slid across into the passenger seat, and I turned the Aixam around, then we all changed seats again. With my biggest Monster buckled up for safety I said to her, right, you know what you're doing? "Yeah." She said, "Left pedal Whoa, right pedal go!" Thats it I said, she turned the key, and off we went. 

We did a couple of laps, and she was doing well, but that's when it all kinda went pear shaped. We were suddenly joined by another vehicle, a Transit that had orange and yellow reflective graphics and the word 'SECURITY' along the side. He was definately interested in having a chat with us, and was coming towards us quite quickly! "What do I do?" said my biggest Monster who was still behind the wheel. Well, I said, you've got the wheel in your hand so it's up to you really. We can either stop for a chat and find out what he wants, although I've got a pretty good idea what he's going to say. Or we can just get the heck outta here! "Lets get the heck outta here!" She said, "Look, he's left the gate open!" I said, yes, but he can fit through the gate, I doubt he'll be able to fit through the foot path!! We hit the foot path at about 40 m.p.h and she drove through the corners until we reached the other end. I was right, the Transit didn't fit on the foot path and headed for the gate! We got to the end of the foot path were it reached the road, Right, all change I said, and we changed seating positions once more. I hit the road as fast as the Aixam could take us away from the town.

With the curfew in place I hoped the darkness would work in our favour, I quickly found a side road, pulled in and turned off the lights. We sat there silently ducked down as low as we could go, waiting, watching!! The road was suddenly lit up and a Transit raced by with its headlights on full beam! We watched him carry on down the road and into the distance, then I said to my little Monsters, I dunno where he's going, he's missed us! We all chuckled, and I said, lets go home! I started the Aixam, and headed for home, we arrived home, still chuckling, and as it was 02:30hrs we headed for bed.

Bizarrely my two little Monsters were reluctant to get up on Saturday morning, saying that they were tired or something! But when they did eventually surface from their room they were still talking about the night before, and wanted to know when they could do it again. I told them that I felt that it would not be the best idea to do it again any time soon, but I thought that their driving was pretty good for a first go! Infact despite their lack of experience I would say that it was better than the drive I had earlier in the week with the mid-thrity year old fella. I never felt safe with him, but worryingly I felt perfectly safe with my kids driving, even during the get-a-way! However, we've done it now, and I believe now more than ever that it is really time someone else has a turn with it. I have already got someone coming to look at it in the week, he wants it so that his kids can have a drive about in it, atleast now if he asks I can tell him that it is child friendly, and can almost certainly be driven by kids from age 8-80! Just might be best to avoid the Park and Ride for a while!