Nov 30 2012 By Natasha Gorbert-Hopkins
Today I tried to apply for a provisional driving licence.
Living on the outskirts of London, I’ve never really needed to drive before, as Tubes and buses have always proved... well, not reliable, but at the very least, cheap. Still, it’s probably time to get this particular rite of passage over with.
I went on the direct.gov website, and saw that you could apply online for the licence. “How convenient!” I thought.
I had forgotten, however, that nothing is that simple when you live on a boat. After filling in my name and date of birth, it asked me to enter my postcode. Ah.
The problem is, we don't have a 'proper' address. Some boats, on fancier moorings, get their post delivered to them. Ours goes to a PO Box in the local Royal Mail sorting office, and we have to go and collect it every so often.
Lots of people, from mobile phone companies to banks to local government, don’t like it when you try to claim that you live in a sorting office. We are frequently refused services based on a 'lack of residential address', or are required to provide extensive paperwork to demonstrate why we don’t have a standard house number.
It seems to be assumed that because your home has the capability to move, you will suddenly disappear into the night (at a steady three miles per hour). This view doesn’t take into account the fact that people have jobs, friends, schools and all the other factors that lead people to remain in an area long-term.
One day, perhaps, I will start a campaign to recognise the existence of boat folk and their quirky addresses. Until then, I’ll keep wearily rolling my eyes and entering my gran’s postcode.