The topographical test

Addison Lee, William Road NW1

In order to qualify for a TfL Private Hire drivers license everyone must pass the the topographical skills assessment. In the official TfL Annex A specifications are laid out in a 14 page documents and quaintly enough it all hinges upon being able to find your way around a London AZ. Remember those?

I was actually a bit nervous about it because I wasn’t sure my ego could take a fail or even a poor score. I needn’t have worried. I took my test at Addison Lee on a Friday afternoon and I’m pretty sure I was in and out in 15 minutes, certificate in hand.

There were three sets of questions to answer.  Module one involved being able to find a street in a map by its grid reference. For example, look up Chandos Street in the index and write down its page number and grid reference.

Module two was the inverse of the first. We were shown London Bridge on a map and we were then asked to write down page number and grid reference. Easy peesy: P42 C6.

Finally, for module three we were test on our understanding of the compass. The question:

Him: ‘If you start your journey in Stratford and end in Richmond what direction are you travelling?’

Me: ‘South West?’

Him: ‘Correct!’

Having answered one question from each of three modules correctly our assessor figured we were more than up to it so he helpfully distributed a copy of the correct answers for all the questions for each module.

Him: ‘Now lads please make sure you copy these over exactly as in the original or there’ll be hell to pay in the front office’.

The transposition took the bulk of the time.  After that it was time to enter our details into the system, fork over £25 and then our certificates appeared on the printer in the same room.

It was the quickest academic achievement I have ever notched up even if I did feel a little dirty what with the copying and all. Oh, and I’ve never opened an AZ since. It’s all about the Sat Nav anyway.

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