Today I had to got to the DVLA in Wimbledon to change my Aussie licence for a British one.
I was prepared. I had dealt with British red tape before.
First up, I drove to Sainsbury's and their photo booth for my recent passport style photos, which I have to say are not too bad at all (shocker!) and then made my way by bus to Wimbledon, somewhere I hadn't been before. I had my D1 form all completed, my passport, my new photo, proof of UK address, my Aussie licence and the princely sum of 50 pounds. I was ready to wait as long as necessary and had no other plans for the rest of the day.
Getting off the bus near the station, I found the office just around the corner and located the licencing section on the 1st floor. I took my ticket, opened the door and prepared to take my seat and wait for my number to be called. I even had a book to read!
The waiting area was...empty! My number was next to be called and five minutes (yes, it's true!) later, I had surrendered my Aussie licence, had my passport and ID checked, paid the fee and was on my way out the door.
I was stunned, to say the least. I thought back to when I first arrived in Queensland from South Australia three years ago and I spent half a day at Queensland Transport trying to change my SA licence to a QLD one. I had expected this experience to be at least that much hassle. But no. It wasn't bad at all.
Then it hit me. I had just given up my Australian driver's licence for a British one. The licence I have had for almost half my life. What does that mean? Am I no longer Australian? I can't explain it, but I feel a bit sad without it. Like a tie to home has been cut off. I know that's crazy.
So this isn't just a holiday, then? I live in London now.