Diary Of An ADI

A Driving Instructor's Blog

TickWell done Catriona, who passed today with 6 driver faults. She rounds off a great week – six tests, and six passes.

Cat has learnt a lot during her lessons with me. Most notably, the concept of the “sense of humour”. I remember when I was teaching her to reverse round a corner early on, and she had a habit of steering the wrong way. One time I saw where her hands had moved to on the steering wheel and said “if you steer that way you’re walking home”. Cat is (or was) one of those deadpan people who takes things very literally, and the possibility that I might not have been serious did not enter her head. Sarcasm – one of my favourite teaching tools – was anathema to her. Not any more, though. She gives as good as she gets.

She’s already signed up for Pass Plus.

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Still a little behind with these updates, but on 29 November I went to see Slash with Myles Kennedy & The Conspirators at the Leeds Arena.

I saw Slash last year in Nottingham and it was a great show.It was notable that he had a great support band – The Treatment – who are making a name for themselves in their own right. Well, this time around there were two support bands. The first was an Australian four-piece called Twenty Two Hundred, who were good.Twenty Two Hundred

Even better, though, were California Breed. I’ve been hearing a lot of these on Planet Rock – they’re a “supergroup” consisting of Glenn Hughes, Jason Bonham, and Andrew Watt.California Breed's Glenn Hughes

Glenn Hughes played with Deep Purple and Black Sabbath, and was also a member of Black Country Communion (whom I never got to see before they split). I guess it was only fitting that they ended their set with the Deep Purple song Burn. Guitarist, Andrew Watt, was a revelation.

Myles Kennedy 2014

Slash and Myles Kennedy were on fire, though. The set list was as follows:

  • You’re a Lie
  • Nightrain
  • Standing in the Sun
  • Avalon
  • Back from Cali
  • Withered Delilah
  • You Could Be Mine
  • Ghost
  • Doctor Alibi
  • Out Ta Get Me
  • Wicked Stone
  • Beneath the Savage Sun
  • Mr. Brownstone
  • Rocket Queen
  • Bent to Fly
  • World on Fire
  • Anastasia
  • Sweet Child O’ Mine
  • Slither

Encore:

  • Paradise City

Slash at Leeds Arena 2014Newer bands (like The Pretty Reckless, mentioned previously) should take note. Here we have 20 songs with an average timing of over 4 minutes, so a minimum playing time of 80 minutes. Add to that the various Slash solos – including one that was 10 minutes or more – and you have value for money… with knobs on.

It’s funny when you think about it. Slash pisses around playing solos, and lesser bands piss around doing absolutely nothing between songs. Slash was polished, that’s for sure.

The Arena was taking no prisoners that night, either. They were doing body scans outside, and they’d obviously confiscated some very unusual items (including half bottles of whisky). I decided to take my camera in in full view, and they didn’t give a damn – they were more interested in the signal my business card wallet was giving on the hand scanner!

Oh, yeah. And this was my first visit to the Leeds Arena since the Edward Street/UKCPS car park scam I was involved in about a year ago. This time I used another car park a short distance away from the arena and was in and out with no delays whatsoever. And parking only cost £5.

A great night. The only hiccup was that I got home at 1.30am and had to get up again at 5.00am to pick a pupil up at 6.30am for an 8.10am test. I’d told him he’d better bloody pass getting me up at that time. Fortunately, he did.

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I’m a bit late mentioning this, but I went to see The Pretty Reckless at Rock City a few weeks ago (17 November, to be precise).

I saw them a few years ago at the Leeds O2, where they were supporting Evanescence. I’d had them on my tour alerts and snapped up tickets as soon as they went on sale. I did the same thing this time.The Pretty Reckless - Taylor Momsen

It is a bit difficult to describe this. On the one hand, the music was excellent. However, there simply wasn’t enough of it! The set list, shown below, consisted of a mere 11 songs. The encore was just one song.

  • Follow Me Down
  • Since You’re Gone
  • Sweet Things
  • Miss Nothing
  • House on a Hill
  • Dear Sister
  • Absolution
  • Why’d You Bring a Shotgun to the Party
  • Make Me Wanna Die
  • Heaven Knows
  • Going to Hell

Encore:

  • Fucked Up World

You could forgive the paucity of material when they were supporting in 2011 after only a single album having been released. After all, they only formed in 2009. But another two years down the line, and after graduating to headline status… well, I’m not so sure. Not being a hard rock band in the true sense the average length of each of their songs is around three minutes, so with that set list you’re looking at little over half an hour’s worth of music. And yet somehow they managed to stretch it to almost an hour and a half. And I said “almost”.

Unfortunately, they still haven’t polished their performance, and the rawness that was evident when they supported Evanescence was still there. You see, support bands are usually crammed in at the front of the stage – in front of the already-installed equipment of the main act. For that reason you can forgive the cramped performances that result. But if you’re the headline act yourself, then the audience expects a little more. There was a huge gap between each song which merely emphasised this unpolished product.

Having said that, the audience was predominantly young and female, and I doubt that they knew what they should be expecting. The screams of “we love you Taylor” probably illustrate that better than anything.

Personally, I did enjoy the show. There just wasn’t enough of it to go around, and you could see it being spread thinly on purpose.

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TickWell done Eileen, who passed today first time with just 3 driver faults. This is a classic example of why you should never write someone off – and how wrong you can be if you do.

Eileen is very nervous, and following my suggestion some months ago has been using beta-blockers on her lessons (after a visit to her GP). They have had a positive effect, but there is no “magic pill” that can turn someone into a brilliant driver. And certainly not overnight.

I had stopped her from taking a previously booked test because I thought she was dangerous. But I have to be honest in that I also wanted her to cancel this one on her last normal lesson because I was really worried about her nerves and how she would react on the driving test. I insisted that I sit in the back in case the test was abandoned – I honestly thought that it was a possibility – and I had advised her to be prepared for the possibility of things going wrong. She knew this, of course. That’s why she had gone to her GP in the first place, and she told me that the nerves came and went unpredictably in other aspects of her life.

It was one of the best drives I have ever seen anyone produce, on test or off it. When the examiner told her she’d passed – and I knew she had from what I’d seen even before he announced it – I had tears in my eyes. The three faults were all for the same thing, and they came early on, but she got into the swing and didn’t make the same mistake again.

So it just goes to show how wrong you can be. Anyone on the outside looking in would have probably said she wasn’t ready. Indeed, I saw a forum thread recently with precisely that topic, where people were lambasting someone who had taken a candidate to test who he said wasn’t up to standard. To be fair, that instructor hadn’t done himself any favours in how he put the story across, but it did illustrate clearly how the only person who knows the candidate is the instructor who taught them – and the information probably ought not to be passed to others for their opinions. Outsiders can usually only advise based on grudges and sections from the Great Big Handbook Of Finding Fault With Others.

I was completely wrong about Eileen. I’m happy to admit it. And I’ve learnt something: don’t be too hasty consigning pupils to the metaphorical scrapheap.

Hopefully, this tale will help others learn, too, before they start shooting their mouths off.

And Eileen’s pass brings my tally to five out of five for the week.

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TickWell done Jim, who passed today using his own car. I’m still claiming it because I taught him, and he only went in his own vehicle because he wanted to take his test earlier than my diary would permit (in fact, I had another test at the same time).

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The story below is from 2011. It has recently attracted quite  few hits on the blog.

In actual fact, apart from the original announcement, there appears to have been no further press information on this subject. Indeed, Autoglass’s own website doesn’t even mention the original press release – it seems to have been removed, and history altered.

If anyone from Autoglass has any information, please let me know.


Autoglass has just announced (June 2011) it is getting rid of 400 jobs.

I must confess to being sceptical about the reasons given by the owners. Apparently, it is because people are driving more carefully due to the rising price of fuel!!!

Hard to prove… but just as hard to disprove, I guess. But one thing I do know: it doesn’t tie in with what I’m seeing. In any case, it’s bit of a wishy-washy reason for something that could destroy someone’s life.

(This story has been edited due to an inaccuracy on my part in the original)

EDIT 17/6/2011: I’ve also found this link to Sky News covering the story. It doesn’t make the logic being used to justify the redundancies any more, er, logical.

Autoglass has a staff of around 3,000 according to that article, so 400 losses is well over 10% of the workforce.

In a statement, the firm said: “As a result of the exceptionally mild winter combined with the increased cost of fuel, which has caused a reduction in the number of miles driven, there has been less vehicle damage and the industry, as a whole, has seen lower demand this year.

Can someone just remind me what last winter was like? I can’t remember. Or rather, I seem to remember quite a different winter to the one they’re talking about here. It was officially the second coldest winter since 1985/86 in the UK as a whole, the second coldest in Scotland since 1978/79, and seventh equal coldest since records began in Northern Ireland, and the second coldest since 1995/96 in England and Wales. You can read all the other stats over at the Met Office website, but calling last winter “exceptionally mild” is laughable – particularly as a reason for putting 400 people out of work.

I wonder what Autoglass management will do when the weather gets cold again and people start driving faster once more? Sack even more people?

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TickWell done Virash, who passed today with just 2 driver faults. A very quiet and reserved lad, but a very good driver who deserved to pass.

He was so good, in fact, that I insisted he didn’t do as many lessons as he wanted in the run up to his test.

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TickWell done Abdul, who passed this week with 7 river faults. A very nice guy who is a student at Nottingham University.

A problem we had trouble solving was shoulder checks during manoeuvres. Amazing how that suggestion to “kiss both parrots” fixed it in an instant after everything else had failed!

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TickWell done Kelvin, who passed first time with 7 driver faults last week. Another one who took very early (or very late) lessons to fit in with work, so I’m doubly glad he passed. I can have some lie-ins again now.

Very quiet, but a pleasure to teach all the way through.

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TickWell done Steve, who passed in November with 10 driver faults. He is one of a group of three I have taught from the same company, and the only one to need a second attempt!

I’m glad he passed, because it means that all those horrendous 8am lessons (ones early as 7am) are now a thing of the past.

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