There is a nice, neat hole punched through my Florida driver’s license now. Bottom right hand corner. That license, like the proverbial parrot of Monty Python fame, is expired, defunct, no longer valid. The upside of this is that I was able to get a permit to drive in the state of Victoria without doing any tests whatsoever. I did not have to demonstrate my ability to navigate a vehicle on what I consider the “wrong” side of the road or explain the finer points of the infamous “hook” turn. The downside is that the picture makes me look older (for some reason) and goofy.

This is not the first time I have driven on the “wrong” side of the road. I went to film school in London some forty years ago where I became infatuated with an adorable little car called a Super Seven. It was manufactured by Lotus and built from a kit. This one had even been raced on occasion. For some reason the builder (an amateur mechanic and racer) had neglected to install the windshield wipers. That was not to blame for my mishap, however.

One night, after hoisting a few too many pints with some Irish friends, I took a suburban corner a little too fast and actually hopped the kerb. The couple out for a stroll must have been a little disturbed to see a yellow race car following them up the sidewalk, but they took it very well. They ran back and asked me if I was all right.

Despite the excellent public transportation system, we owned two cars during our stay in Hong Kong. The first had a leaky sun roof and ended up rotting from the inside out one summer when I was in Nova Scotia. It sat too long in the sun and sprouted strange life forms. The other was an ancient (by Hong Kong standards) Daihatsu with fuel injection. It was perfect because it was so small and nimble. I loved driving it but there was no where to go.

On one of my first forays out in the City, I turned into the right (wrong) side of the road. Fortunately, there was a bus stop 100 metres from our apartment complex. I can still see the horrified faces of the commuters. They raised their hands in unison and pointed left in exaggerated pantomime. I got the picture and switched lanes. Others were not so lucky. One night I woke to the sound of a crash. An inebriated gweilo (white foreign devil) was driving home on the wrong side of the road. Fortunately, both the drivers were in Mercedes and neither was injured.

Driving down under has presented certain problems. When I was out house hunting in a rented car, I turned the wrong way into a one-way street. I frequently encounter difficulties negotiating busy round abouts. Some of them have stop lights, dividing the circumference into thirds. I seem to lose my way with alarming regularity despite downloading maps to my destination. I have yet to do the infamous “hook” turn that involves going into the far left lane to make a right hand turn.

And the car itself seems to trip me up. The gear shift is on the “wrong” side. I automatically hit the wand for the windshield wipers instead of the turn signal. At least the pedals are in the right position on the floor. We have purchased a vehicle which can, in theory, be driven off road. That may be the safest place for me to be.