To pass your Greek driving test there are certain driving techniques you must learn. Here I’ll just give you a handy guide. If there is a car in front of you it must be overtaken. It doesn’t matter if it happens to be going round a corner when you do this, nor does it matter if afterwards you slow down, thus irritating the driver of the car you have overtaken. If a car ahead is being overtaken by another car, you must attempt to overtake them both. Extra points are given if you can also do this on a corner.
When approaching a right-hand bend, you must swing out to the left to give you a better view around the corner so you can go round it faster, just like a racing driver does. This is compulsory, even if you are driving a pick-up truck in which you have yet to discover the other three gears and are travelling at 20 kilometres an hour. Also, in an attempt not to wear out your tires too quickly, you must be tardy about swinging back to your side of the road. Extra points are given here if you can drive any approaching vehicle off a cliff and into the top of an olive tree.
Let me make a quick note here about pick-up trucks. There are only two acceptable kinds of pick-up truck. The first should be worked over from nose to tail with a hammer, all the lights smashed and it loaded with crates of grapes until it is sitting down on its axel. It shouldn’t have working brakes, road tax and if at all possible should burn a pint of oil per gallon of petrol or diesel. The second is a brand new, polished to a gleam, 40,000 Euro vehicle with all the trimmings. It has the capability of climbing mountains, being loaded with tonnes of materials, the power to tow a lorry, and is used for none of these. It must then be driven at high speed everywhere, except when there are puddles in the road, which must be circumvented at two miles an hour to avoid getting spots of mud on the paintwork.
Indicators, in the Greek driving world, must never be used to apprise the driver behind of where you are going. If you must use them at all, turn them all on as hazard lights to baffle everyone, slam to a halt in the middle of the road then abandon you vehicle whilst you go and have a chat with Kostas about the price of tomatoes.
Wherever you find functioning traffic lights you must have your hand poised over the horn in readiness for when they change. Beeping your horn when way back in the queue is essential. It won’t get the guy ahead off his mobile phone any quicker, or get you through any quicker, but you can be smugly assured that you have at least irritated someone.
Double parking is a must, and extra points are given if you can gridlock a town or do so on a roundabout. Also, giving way to approaching vehicles where access is narrow, probably because of the double parking, is for wussies. Better to stop where you are and shout very loudly at the other driver.
Bonus points are given if you can achieve all the above whilst speaking into a mobile phone in your right hand, your left arm hanging out the window as you flick ash from your cigarette, and whilst you steer with your knees. It is a given for all Greek drivers that a necklace of beads and a crucifix hanging from the rear-view mirror is more effective than an airbag.