Diary Of An ADI

A Driving Instructor's Blog

Now hold on a minute. I was not a big fan of Demis Roussos’ solo career. That wasn’t my kind of music. Ever. But he was a bona fide mega-star when I was growing up, and a lot of people bought his records. However, I recently became aware of a late-60s prog-rock outfit called Aphrodite’s Child, who were a bit before my time, and I was surprised to hear – at least, I thought I’d heard, then went home and looked it up – that their line-up included Roussos.Demis Roussos

So with that, it is sad to hear that Demis died yesterday.

I was also surprised to discover that Aphrodite’s Child included Vangelis (of Chariots of Fire fame). He said on hearing of Roussos’ death:

As for me, I keep those special memories that we share together those early days and I wish you to be happy wherever you are.

Aphrodite’s Child are worth looking up, as this video shows (remember: it’s from the late-60s/early-70s, so make allowances for choice of clothing and general hirsuteness).

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Yes! No UK dates yet, but they will surely come. The North American R40 dates are here. There are 35 dates up until August, which suggests they’ll be over here later in the year. My guess is September/October.Rush at the MEN in 2013

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I noticed a this topic on a forum recently and thought it would be a good thing publish some sensible stuff about it.Mediaeval Swordplay

No one is absolutely and definitely certain why the UK drives on the left and everyone else (about three quarters of the world) on the right. However, there are some very reasonable arguments about why this is (I got this from Tesco Bank). It’s worth noting that in order to understand these arguments, you have to consider an extended historical timeline. You can’t just take one piece of historical information and then poo-poo it in a modern context. Well, I say that – don’t forget that we’re talking about driving instructors here, and they can do things like that at the drop of a hat!

In the past, when swords were the weapon of choice, most people were right-handed. It was therefore common practice to walk on the left and pass other travellers sword arm to sword arm. Many years later, in the mid-18th century, the General Highways Act was introduced and this practice was carried over with the recommendation that traffic keep to the left. This was then further carried on into the Highways Bill in the early part of the 19th century.

In France, there was probably a similar approach to start with, but when Napoleon came to power, the fact that he was left-handed meant that he marched on the right. So France adopted this, and since both France and Britain were active colonisers any country they colonised was forced to adopt the respective system.

America was initially colonised by Britain, France, Spain, and Portugal. Britain was a minority player, and so using the left-hand side of the road was never adopted over there. As America grew, many other countries changed their system to match.

It would cost billions for the UK to change now.

Like it or not, swords are part of the reason why we drive on the left. There’s no single reason why the world does what it does, but an interconnected series of historical situations that stretch back to mediaeval times.

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It looks like part of a coordinated exercise, as this email from DVSA advises that the Sinfin test centre in Derby is moving to the ex-VOSA testing station in Alveston. The timescale is similar to that for the Leicester move in the recent article, and people should carry on booking as usual in the meantime.

This one might cause a few more hisses of disapproval from the vipers, as a distance of around 4 miles is involved. Jeez, when I first started I used to cover tests at Sinfin (not many), even though I’m based in Nottingham.

An update from DVSA reports that the last test at Sinfin will be 10 February 2015. Tests as the new Alvaston centre will commence 16 February.

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Well, competition is hotting up already for the 2015 Darwin Awards. This story on the BBC skirts around the details, but The Independent apparently calls it like it is.Brighton Pier and bad weather

Two men are almost certainly dead after going swimming in the sea in Brighton. If that wasn’t bad enough, consider that they were in their 20s, had been drinking, and decided on this seemingly clever course of action at around 1am. And if you still think it sounds OK, consider also that there were force 9 gales – the sea tends to become a little unpredictable when it’s that windy.

At the end of the BBC version, a separate Brighton incident is reported where an 18-year old deliberately went into the sea at 9am. He got out again.

It’s hard to feel any sympathy whatsoever for any of these morons. Coastguard staff could (and still could) have died, just because of these juvenile prats and their undiagnosed learning disabilities.

An update to the story suggests that it was a “dare”. In some respects, that makes it an even more stupid act.

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Originally posted in 2009. Updated for 2015.

Further to a post about cancelled lessons due to weather, I noticed on one forum someone getting all excited about how there is a market for specialised snow lessons.

Let’s have a reality check here.

  • Until February 2009, it hadn’t snowed to any appreciable extent in the UK for around 26 years!
  • We had two bad winters, then a few years ago several mild ones with almost no snow.
  • When it DOES snow a little it is usually gone inside a week or two.

Admittedly, local councils’ incompetence and bureaucracy (Nottingham councils are certainly no exception here) means that every time there is any bad weather it is like they have never experienced it before. This – and the media hyping it to death – makes things Car on snow-covered roadseem a lot worse than they really are.

Will I be ditching my normal pupils and specialising in snow driving? Will I be buying a Ski-doo and offering lessons on that? I don’t think so.

You see, having a “specialised Snow Instructor” in the UK (particularly in England) would be like having a fleet of icebreakers sailing around the Mediterranean: bloody stupid! Which makes it an ideal venture for some clown to take on to Dragon’s Den, I suppose.

Those of use who remain here on Planet Earth will carry on doing things the way they do now: use whatever weather comes to hand as a teaching opportunity if it is appropriate.

Here are some typical search terms people use to find the blog.

Will my driving lessons be cancelled due to snow?

It depends on how much snow there is, how far advanced you are with your training, and your instructor’s attitude to teaching in snow. There is no rule that says you mustn’t have lessons in snow. In fact, it makes sense to do them so you can get valuable experience. But beginners perhaps shouldn’t because it’s just too dangerous for them. It’s your instructor’s decision, even if you want to do it.

Do driving lessons get cancelled when there is snow?

It depends on how much snow and how advanced you are as a learner driver. Your instructor will decide. You won’t get charged for it – if you do, find another iCar wheel with snow flakesnstructor quickly. Remember that if the police are advising people not to travel unless it’s essential, having a driving lesson in those conditions might not be a good idea.

Will my instructor tell me if my lesson is cancelled?

He or she should do. But why take the chance? Just call or text him and ask. Why make life so complicated when a simple text will sort it all out? If he just doesn’t turn up, get another instructor as soon as possible.

Will I have to pay for my lesson if it’s cancelled due to snow?

Well, there’s no law which says your instructor can’t charge you. However, if he or she does (or tries to), find another one quickly because the Law Of Common Decency says that they should NOT charge you. Not in a million years!

However, if it’s you who wants to cancel – but your instructor wants to go ahead with the lesson – then it is a little more tricky. It all depends on whether the conditions really are too bad, and whether or not your ADI is making the right decision based on the right reasons. Unfortunately, this is between you and your instructor – but as I said above, if you aren’t happy then find another one.

If you want to do the lesson, but your instructor refuses, again – if you’re not happy with that (and you must be realistic about the conditions) – find another one. When I cancel Snow-covered rural roadlessons it’s usually with my newer pupils who I know can panic and brake too hard. All the others can handle it as long as conditions aren’t too bad. As a general rule, if the advice is not to travel unless it’s absolutely necessary, or if the roads are gridlocked, then I will cancel a lesson no matter who it is.

I’m worried about driving lessons in snow

Don’t be. You’re going to have to do it when you’ve passed, and it makes sense to learn how to do it now while you have the chance. A lot of people never see snow until they’ve passed their tests, then they don’t know what to do.

Will my driving test be cancelled due to snow?

Quite possibly. You need to phone up the test centre on the day using the number on your email confirmation and check. Otherwise, you MUST turn up – even if they cancel it at the last minute. If you don’t, you’ll probably lose your test fee – or end up having a drawn-out argument over it. Make life simple and follow the guidelines.

If my test is cancelled, will I have to pay for another?

No. They will send you a new date within a few days (or you can phone them or look it up online). And it will not count as one of your six “lives” for moving your test.

Can I claim for out of pocket expenses if my test is cancelled?

No. Neither you, nor your instructor, can claim any Bus on a snow-covered roadmoney back – which is one reason some unscrupulous ADIs might try and charge you for the hire of the car on the day as if the test had gone ahead.

Will snow stop a driving test?

YES. Snow can easily stop a test, or prevent it from going ahead. It doesn’t matter how you phrase the question, or who you ask, if there is snow then the test is likely to be affected. They tell you all this when you book it – it’s on the cover note that no one bothers to read which goes with the confirmation email.

Driving tests cancelled due to snow 2015

It doesn’t matter if it’s 1815, 1915, 2015, or any other date. They will probably cancel your test if there is snow on the ground and/or it is icy. And it doesn’t matter what you, your instructor, or your mum or dad says. It is up to the test centre to decide.

Why was my driving test cancelled because it snowed?

Use your common sense. Driving in snow is dangerous even for experienced drivers. The side streets are covered in sheet ice and compacted snow and you WILL skid if you even drive carefully on them. You could EASILY lose control. That’s why there are so many accidents in snow and icy conditions.

On top of all this, you are a new driver and you are NOT as experienced as you think – in fact, you may never even have driven on snow before. The DSA isn’t going to take the risk, so you have to accept it.

Incidentally, I keep seeing search terms like “cancelled driving test 23rd” from people located 300 miles away in my stats. The internet doesn’t work like that!


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This DVSA email reports that from Monday 12 January 2015, the Hazard Perception Test will switch from real clips to CGI (computer generated) ones. The Theory Test is otherwise unchanged and it is quite likely candidates will be unaware of the change – the clips are so realistic.

I can’t wait to see comments from the ignorati out there. I think I’ll open a book on who brings up “video game” first.

QR code for Hazard Perception Test Vol 2Incidentally, the Driving Test Success (Focus Multimedia) app now has a Vol 2, which consists of CGI clips. It only costs £1.49 and is well worth downloading.

You can scan the QR code shown here to find it, or search the app store for your phone – search for “Hazard Perception Test vol 2″.

My advice is to download ONLY the Focus Multimedia apps for the theory test (questions and hazard perception). Nothing else comes close to the quality of these.

Technically, you can get away with just downloading the volume 2 clips now, but I’d strongly advise downloading volume 1 as well if you want to have the best chance of passing. Even if you buy all three apps – questions and two HPT volumes – you’re paying less than £6 for all the training materials you will ever need.

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I’ve been trying to steer clear of this, but I can’t. Before I start let me make one thing absolutely clear: RAPE IS WRONG.

For anyone who’s been living in a cave, Ched Evans is a footballer who used to play for Sheffield United. A couple of years ago he was convicted of rape and sent to prison for five years. He’s served about half of that sentence and is now out on probation. He is trying to rebuild his career. Initially, it looked like Sheffield Utd would take him back, but there was an outcry and they backed down. A Maltese club wanted to sign him, but the Ministry of Justice said he couldn’t play abroad. Currently, Oldham Athletic are in talks about whether or not to sign him, but they are under intense pressure not to.

Evans still maintains his innocence, even though he was convicted. He is preparing an appeal.

The reason I have decided to comment on this very sensitive issue is down to this article I saw today on the BBC website. Of course, the first thing I did was locate the Jean Hatchet blog mentioned in that article – it’s here, if anyone wants a look.

What immediately struck me about the blog – and in all honesty, I just wanted to see a selection of Jean Hatchet’s writings to find out what sort of things she wrote about – was that in spite of the BBC’s label describing her as “a blogger” she has, at the time of writing, only actually published five articles. The first was produced in November last year – less than three months ago, which hardly makes Hatchet the fount of all blogging knowledge the BBC story implies. All five posts are essentially foul-mouthed rants, and all but one of them is specifically to do with Ched Evans, with the other one certainly being along related lines. Jean Hatchet’s main claim to fame (other than being a self-proclaimed “radical feminist”), and the main reason the BBC sought her out (though being a self-proclaimed “radical feminist” was undoubtedly part of the equation), is that she is the one who started the online petition that is trying to force Oldham not to sign Evans. I have no doubt that she would start any number of additional petitions if any other football club showed an inclination to sign the player.

On her blog, Hatchet makes the following statement:

It is evident that Mr Evans, and men like him, do not understand the notion of consent.

This is the crux of Evans’ conviction. The girl he is said to have raped was allegedly out of her skull on drink. She had already gone with one of Evans’ friends – presumably while she was still capable of thinking and walking – and was having sex with him when Evans turned up and joined in. The friend was acquitted, but Evans wasn’t. The girl says she couldn’t remember any of what happened. The whole situation is far from being black or white, except in terms of the Law and Evans’ subsequent conviction.

The issue with “consent” is far more complex than Hatchet seems capable of realising. You see, it is absolutely possible for a woman to consent to sex with a man, then to have regrets the following day and make allegations concerning non-consensual intercourse (possibly throwing in a few comments about being drunk). Intercourse may not even have taken place for such claims to be made, and the motive may well be financial gain or some sort of retribution, but it will immediately be labelled as “rape”. The man’s name will automatically be published in every newspaper in the land, whereas the woman will automatically be granted full anonymity. Even in cases where the woman is proved to be lying – and it happens quite often – her anonymity often remains in force, yet the man’s life is in ruins. But what makes this even more frightening is that Hatchet (and, increasingly, the Law) actually seem to believe that that rape of some sort has still taken place… if not in actuality, very nearly so.

At this point I will say again: RAPE IS WRONG. If a man forces himself on a woman, he should rot in prison for a long time. But should that still be the case if there is any doubt at all over consent?

The girl involved in the Ched Evans case is no exception as far as official anonymity goes (she’s even been given a new identity). However, it isn’t difficult to find her name (it actually appears in Hatchet’s blog in several of the comments). Assuming that what I have read has even a grain of truth in it, the woman in question appears to have a previous (failed) history for attempting to blackmail sportsmen. At the very least, she went willingly with Evans’ friend and was not quite so comatose when the friend picked her up in the chip shop or wherever it was. Much is being made of the fact that she was possibly – not definitely – around two and a half times over the drink drive limit, but that doesn’t automatically mean you are unconscious. It also appears that the girl in question tweeted that she was “going to win big” on the run up to the trial, and made various promises to friends about how she would spend the money on them. If you Google it you can dig all this up – including the tweets that the girl had apparently attempted to delete (and it is worrying that the new identity she has been given is perhaps partly an attempt to side-step this Twitter history without actually considering any of it). I’m not aware that any of this was brought up in court. Interestingly, Welsh police arrested 23 people for naming the victim, and to date nine have been convicted. The full case is described on Wikipedia, though you can see numerous side stories in the media.

None of this proves that the judgement against Evans was wrong, of course, but it does make you wonder. Well, maybe not those like Jean Hatchet, but certainly normal people. The girl who was apparently raped certainly didn’t seem to have had her life damaged the way rape victims’ lives usually are judging by her tweets, and that doesn’t make any sense. The point is that this wasn’t a case of a man kidnapping a woman in the street, dragging her into an alley, and forcibly raping her. It’s much greyer, and as I say it all hinges on the issue of consent and the court’s interpretation of that in this particular case. Evans’ guilt appears to have been as marginal as his innocence would have been.

Irrespective of this very important background information, the big question to me is: should Ched Evans be allowed to have any sort of career?

There is one sensible argument that says he should wait for the outcome of his appeal before trying to play professional football again. However, no matter what the outcome of that appeal, Evans will be hounded by the feminists until the day he dies. You see, the big grey area of the Law that deals with the matter of consent has a bottomless chasm on one side (i.e. you’re totally guilty). Unfortunately, on the other side there isn’t the expected “totally innocent”. Instead, there’s another chasm almost as deep as the first which merely says “you’re nearly guilty, but not quite”. Feminists like Jean Hatchet make sure it stays like that with their foul-mouthed tirades.

At the present time, Evans is being prevented from working by people like Hatchet and the British Legal system. Even Ed Miliband has stuck his nose in – all I can say there is that Miliband is bloody lucky that my support of Labour goes deeper than him. Effectively, people would rather Evans die on the street than rebuild his life. Oh, I’m sure that people like Jean Hatchet would argue in favour of the rebuilding that his victim has got to do – and I’d agree… if only the unused evidence didn’t suggest something more.

Don’t get me wrong. I don’t know Evans personally, though everything points to the usual problems of a young man acquiring fame and money, and having it go to his head. Even without the issue of rape coming into it, footballers getting involved in sexual activities that are bordering on the realms of pornography are not uncommon. But it takes two to tango, as the saying goes, and young females are increasingly drawn willingly into the same world.

Yesterday, Oldham had all but signed Evans in the full knowledge that some sponsors would pull out. Today, they have withdrawn the offer due to threats to staff and their families. They cite the sponsors, but the threats are the main reason. The people who made those threats are scum. The worst kind of scum. And the type of scum that is far lower down the evolutionary chain than Evans could ever be.

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This story from ITV News reports that in Birmingham it is routine for drivers with 12 points or more on their licences not to be banned. Examples include:

  • 77-year old has at least 12 points for speeding
  • 63-year old has 12 points for using mobile phone, speeding, and shooting red lights
  • 56-year old has 12 points for drink-driving and having no insurance
  • 19-year old has 15 points for speeding and failing to identify the driver
  • Of the 20 youngest to have 12 points or more, only two have been banned

All those in the legal system associated with not banning these people are complete arseholes, intent on sending this country into the sewer (and it doesn’t really need much help with that as it is).

These miscreants should be named. Come to think of it, so should the morons who didn’t ban them.

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I saw this topic on a forum recently. It concerns emerging – usually on to a roundabout – using a vehicle on your right as a “shield”. I’ve covered roundabouts in detail before, but this is a separate subject.Generic roundabout

There is no official guidance that I am aware of which says you should or shouldn’t do it. I have to be honest and admit that I do it myself sometimes, but only if I am confident that I’m not taking too big a risk. Because it IS a risk, and doing it right depends heavily on how well you can control the car – being able to accelerate briskly, and to brake quickly and effectively if the situation changes – and on how well you can read other people. Most new drivers do not have those skills, and this should guide their decision about whether or not to do it.

So, what are the risks? Well, imagine that you’re sitting at the entrance to a roundabout in the left hand lane, and that there is a van to your right. The van is blocking your view of traffic coming from the right. Suddenly, the van moves off, and you follow suit. If everything goes to plan, you drive merrily on your way and everyone is happy. But consider the following possibilities:

  1. The van driver made the wrong decision and a bus or lorry was coming from the right. The bus/lorry collides with the van and pushes it into you, or the van sees the bus/lorry and realises he’s made a mistake, then takes evasive action by turning into your path.
  2. The van driver made the wrong decision because something was coming, and brakes sharply. You continue ahead and are suddenly exposed to whatever it is that made the van brake.
  3. The van moves off, but something was coming. The van manages to get away, but you move off a fraction of a second later – perhaps jumping a little as you rush the manoeuvre, thus slowing you down a bit more – and are exposed to whatever the van was trying to beat.
  4. The van moves off, but he was timing his move because there was something coming. You accelerate ahead and are exposed to whatever the van was waiting for.
  5. The van stops. You also manage to stop, but the car behind you had tried to move off with you and doesn’t react in time. He drives straight into the back of you and pushes you further on to the roundabout.

The simple fact is that no matter how well it turns out, you were simply guessing that the road was clear, and in the case of using a van as your shield were relying on someone who almost by definition was not the best example to follow. The examples above CAN happen.

Now, if the vehicle you’re using as a shield is bigger – a bus or a lorry, for example – it is likely to move off more slowly, and that means you can do the same. If it stops, you’ll have more time to react. Generally speaking, buses are less likely to take risks compared with van drivers, and lorries are less likely to be pushed into your path if someone collides with them. But even so, this is a mercenary view of a situation which still boils down to you taking a gamble on something you can’t see.

You cannot be certain how quickly or slowly your shield is going to move. Some lorries (e.g. motorway maintenance ones or those that often carry earth or rubble for building sites) can move off very quickly, especially if they’re unladen. Some vans – in spite of always adopting the “fast” lane as their default – move away extremely slowly (usually the old smelly DAF vans, or old rust buckets). If you can read this it definitely helps you make your decision. Oh, and consider which route you intend to take – if you’re going straight ahead, using a shield makes a lot more sense than if you’re simply turning left. Using a shield for left turns is roughly equivalent to trying to do roundabouts wearing a blindfold!

I always teach my learners that if they can’t see, then they shouldn’t go. Early on in their training they can easily be led by what other drivers are doing, and I often have to warn them “don’t copy him – wait until you can see” as they start to move off whilst completely unsighted (and sometimes in the wrong gear). Later on, I explain that using a shield during normal driving is only even passably acceptable if you’re bloody sure about what you’re doing. Don’t copy cars (especially Audis and BMWs, which are faster than you, and are driven by bigger idiots), and be very careful with vans (the drivers of which probably own Audis or BMWs anyway). And yes, I use that sort of language to get the message across.

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