Diary Of An ADI

A Driving Instructor's Blog

I was on a lesson over the weekend, and driving through the city centre and on to London Road we were repeatedly obstructed by a cyclist who was weaving through traffic and riding in the middle of lanes to prevent anyone getting by. Amusingly, he had a GoPro on the front of his helmet – which I assume must have been attached with a couple of 6-inch nails straight through his brain.Cyclist warnings on lorries

I pointed out to my pupil, as this twat weaved his way through traffic and rode straight through red traffic lights at the junction between Lower Parliament Street and Pennyfoot Street, that this was the precise location where a woman cyclist was killed not that long ago. Then, at the roundabout, he skipped on to the pavement to avoid stopping, and we again had to deal with him blocking the left lane he’d re-joined as we approached Hooters.

He wasn’t unusual. He was typical.

Coincidentally, the case against the lorry driver who ran over that woman has just come to its conclusion. He has been found guilty of “causing her death by careless driving”. The BBC Local newsfeed has a few more details – most notably:

Jurors were told it is not illegal for a cyclist to come up the inside of a lorry, but the Highway Code recommends not to do so.

Actually, the Highway Code says various things aimed at cyclists. I can’t find anything like that, but there are plenty of much better ones.

Rule 72

On the left. When approaching a junction on the left, watch out for vehicles turning in front of you, out of or into the side road. Just before you turn, check for undertaking cyclists or motorcyclists. Do not ride on the inside of vehicles signalling or slowing down to turn left.

Rule 73

Pay particular attention to long vehicles which need a lot of room to manoeuvre at corners. Be aware that drivers may not see you. They may have to move over to the right before turning left. Wait until they have completed the manoeuvre because the rear wheels come very close to the kerb while turning. Do not be tempted to ride in the space between them and the kerb.

I don’t think it has been proven one way or the other whether Adam Haywood was signalling. He has never claimed that he was – saying that he cannot remember, but that he normally would have. That Post report somehow has reached the conclusion that he wasn’t, and I believe this is based on the premise that Louise Wright – an all-knowing and completely flawless cyclist – wouldn’t have been there if he – a totally flawed and guilty before proven motorist – had been signalling, so since she was there, he couldn’t have been.

The big problem here is that the Highway Code is full of MUSTs and DO NOTs for motorists (the capitals mean there is a Law that applies). ALL the cyclist rules – with a few notable exceptions – are completely free from hindrance of Laws, meaning cyclists can technically get away with anything. Absolutely no cyclist is anywhere near flawless, and even the exceptions are ignored.

Rule 64

You MUST NOT cycle on a pavement.

I don’t think I need to say again that 95% of cyclists ride on the pavement when it suits them. And 100% of the police force does sod all about it. Then there is:

Rule 60

At night your cycle MUST have white front and red rear lights lit. It MUST also be fitted with a red rear reflector (and amber pedal reflectors, if manufactured after 1/10/85). White front reflectors and spoke reflectors will also help you to be seen. Flashing lights are permitted but it is recommended that cyclists who are riding in areas without street lighting use a steady front lamp.

Not many cyclists have lights fitted, or even reflectors.

Rule 71

You MUST NOT cross the stop line when the traffic lights are red. Some junctions have an advanced stop line to enable you to wait and position yourself ahead of other traffic

The majority think nothing of skipping lights when it suits them, and many haven’t got a clue about cycle forward areas and assume they can do that at any junction.

Rule 66

You should

  • never ride more than two abreast, and ride in single file on narrow or busy roads and when riding round bends
  • not ride close behind another vehicle

It’s common to see the Spandex boys slipstreaming cars and buses. Riding two abreast on country lanes and busy roads is standard behaviour. Earlier this summer there was an organised cycle event around Ruddington and the south of Nottingham, and there were parents riding three or four abreast as they ushered there bloody kids on tiny little toy bikes along the A60. It was extremely dangerous, since the roads had not been closed, and you had to overtake wide.

Considering all of the above, the Pennyfoot Street junction does not have a cycle forward area. The junction is one of the busiest in Nottingham and the accident happened during the rush hour. Any cyclist pushing forward – and especially alongside a lorry – under those conditions would need their head examining. And yet they still do it.

When I’m out on lessons, my blood sometimes runs cold when I suddenly realise that a cyclist has crept up on our left side. It’s bad enough that it almost catches me out – but what about the pupil, who might only be on their second or third session? Even a newly qualified driver may not have suitably developed skills to spot every retard on two wheels who does things like this – and it doesn’t help anyone if they all find out the hard way. Neither the dead or seriously injured cyclist, nor the severely traumatised driver (who will undeservedly get 100% of the blame and 0% sympathy).

It seems that the Law is very eager to blame Adam Haywood for Louise Wright’s death. It is prepared to make all kinds of assumptions without the necessary proof in order to do so. But if you were being completely objective about it, it would be equally simple to make some similar assumptions about Louise Wright putting herself in such a dangerous situation to begin with.

The Highway Code urgently needs some DO NOTs and MUSTs adding to the cycling rules. Unfortunately, before that can happen, the UK needs to start getting real about cycling and road use. The government needs to stop trying to encourage people to ride on the roads, and instead get them on to the very expensive and underused cycle lanes and cycle routes.

Adam Haywood has been found guilty of “careless driving” because such a crime exists. There is no Law about careless cycling, and on that basis Mr Haywood might be considered to have been hard done by over something that was, at best, more like 50:50.

There’s more detail in this updated story on the BBC. The article repeats:

Jurors were told it is not illegal for a cyclist to come up the inside of a lorry, but the Highway Code recommends not to do so.

It also adds:

Jurors were told there is nothing in law to say that a driver must indicate, but the Highway Code says they should.

Only the first nebulous statement was used in determining Adam Haywood’s guilt. The second one was not used at any time to suggest that Louise Wright was equally to blame if such vague reasoning is to be allowed in courts of law. I’m sorry, but this is just f—ing ridiculous.

The BBC’s Local News feed includes a post:

Cyclist death should ‘remind motorists about awareness’

Speaking after the sentencing, Det Con Connie Xavier from the Serious Collision Investigation Unit, said: “It should remind all motorists for the need for absolute awareness.”

“If we allow that awareness to lapse, even for one moment, it can result, as with this case, in a loss of life.”

This is why the police have lost the plot. Where is the vital mention that cyclists should also develop “awareness” and not behave like anarchic prats?

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Somewhere in my posts about the disastrous decision to leave the EU I mentioned that it wouldn’t be long before some prat started going on about bringing back Imperial units of measure. Well, although I said it over 3 months ago, here’s confirmation that I was right.Pre-decimal coinage

The leading jackass for the movement, Warwick Cairns, claims:

…imperial measurements are not only easily understandable but inherently popular.

“There is something about feet and inches that feel part of our identity and culture,” he says. “They make sense on a human scale, they make sense on a cultural scale. It is part of us.”

Complete bullshit. Imperial measurements are only “easier” for people who are not likely to need to worry about using them for many more years – because they won’t be around. The main protagonists in all this are old fossils who hate Johnny Foreigners, and who were brought up using the Imperial system. They represent the past, not the future. The woman in the picture below is the archetypal anti-metric idiot (apologies for the stereotyping, but some people make it just too easy).An anti-metric protester

I can assure you that, having been in the first generation involved when the switch to metric was made, doing maths using an antiquated multi-base system – and one where the bases were variously 4, 8, 12, 14, 16, 20, etc. – was no fun at all. Doing maths in base 10 was much easier, and it meant that instead of pissing about with over-complicated fundamentals, you could start learning serious stuff.

Why have a system where there are 12 inches to a foot, and three feet to a yard, and where the basic unit of the inch was split into halves, quarters, eighths, sixteenths, thirty-seconds, and so? You had thous, inches, feet, yards, chains, furlongs, miles, leagues, fathoms, cables, nautical miles, links, and rods.

Having a metre consisting of 100 centimetres makes much more sense. And splitting each centimetre into tenths (1 millimetre), hundredths, thousandths, and so on makes calculations using the metric units inherently easier. And it extends naturally to volume and area.

It was the same with pounds (weight). The basic pound, or lb, consisted of 16 ounces (oz). But there were 14lbs to a stone (st). Then you had the hundredweight (cwt) – which is 112lbs or 8st in the UK, but 100lb in the US (so the names “short hundredweight” and “long hundredweight” have to be employed). The US doesn’t use stones. But the different cwt weights then mean that there are both long- and short-tons, since a ton in the UK is 2240lb, but in the US it’s 2000lb. And right down the bottom end you had grains and drachms. A grain was 1/7000th of a lb, a drachm was 1/256th lb, an ounce (oz) was 1/16th lb, there were 14lbs to a st, 28lbs to a quarter, 112lbs in a cwt, and then the ton.

For liquids, you have even greater differences between the UK and US measures. A UK pint is 34.7 cubic inches, but a US pint is 28.9 cubic inches. Therefore, a US gallon is 231.2 cubic inches, whereas the UK gallon is 277.4 cubic inches. Then you had gills, quarts, and pecks. And minims, scruples, and drachms, Let’s not even go into dry measures, with bushels.

Historically, many countries have used some or all of these units, but even in the UK the actual definition has changed several times. Indeed, many American definitions are older historical ones that would have applied in the UK at one time or another. It seems that just about every king we ever had filled up his favourite barrel and then decreed that it was the standard unit for something or other. Even when it was just about to be scrapped, the Imperial system had the Imperial pound, the a Avoirdupois pound, and the Troy pound. There were some others used by merchants, too.

Several Imperial measurements had various kinks and corrections that had to be applied somewhere (e.g. the fathom, which was regarded as being 6 feet, when it was in fact 1/1000 of a nautical mile – so actually 6.08 feet).

The Imperial system was – and still is – a God-awful mess and it’s place is on the scrapheap of history. It was nothing like the panacea being suggested by these out of date idiots.

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Well done to Arsenal, who walloped Nottingham Forest 4-0 last night in the “League Cup” – in spite of certain Forest supporters convincing themselves Forest would run up a cricket score and get Arsene Wenger sacked.Fry - Kicked YOUR Ass

In the words of the inimitable Fry in Futurama – the Bicyclops Built for Two episode:

Kicked YOUR ass!

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The answer is when it is Trent University – which is more of a glorified sixth form that takes people from around the country instead of just locally. I say this after seeing this story in the week. It laughingly refers to the people ultimately responsible for killing a hedgehog as “researchers”.

In case any Trent University “researchers” are reading this, it is probably worth reminding them what a hedgehog normally looks like.A healthy hedgehog

However, this is what one looks like after Trent University “researchers” have got to it.Hedgehog festooned with a radio and various other tags

The dirty silver thing is a radio transmitter, and the various coloured tags are shrink- or heat-wrapped to the hedgehog’s spines. You have to wonder what sort of retard would attach THAT many tags to a single animal. Well, actually you don’t have to wonder too much when you think of sixth-formers pretending they’re scientists.

Wildlife experts have commented that the coloured tags are far too long and would most likely interfere with the animal’s normal behaviour. They could easily have become entangled. Apparently, the radio transmitter was twisted around the animal when it was found by someone in their garden. Experts have pointed out that such a bulky device would have prevented the animal from crawling under low hedges, gates, and fences, and would thus have put it at risk from predators.

The vet who treated the hedgehog removed TWENTY SIX tags.Tags removed from the animal

The hedgehog was:

…dehydrated, underweight, had mange, severe colitis, broken toes on one foot and [sic] intestinal fluke, and died despite attempts to treat him.

This is the part where you need to make your mind up for yourselves. Do you think that a hedgehog festooned with 26 tags, all of them at least six times longer than its spines, and a radio transmitter the size of a matchbox bearing – if you look at the picture – an antenna which appears to be approximately the same length as the animal itself, is going to be adversely affected?

Or do these two quotes convince you otherwise?

Hugh Warwick from the British Hedgehog Preservation Society, which part-funded the study, said: “Over 30 years of work there is no evidence that our research interferes with the well-being of hedgehogs at all.

“The heat-shrink plastic tags that are now the standard marking technique do not require plastic to be melted onto the spines and cause the hedgehog no trouble at all. It is not far off humans getting hair-extensions.”

Nottingham Trent University said: “The animal is completely unhindered and able to go about its activities – such as feeding and breeding – in the usual way.

“Research is crucial to furthering our understanding of the threats hedgehogs face and to develop appropriate responses to those.”

Hugh Warwick is clearly one of those pseudo-scientists who likes to anthropomorphise things. However, I think it is safe to say that what was done to this hedgehog had f__k all to do with human hair extensions (which, incidentally, cause MAJOR problems for humans if done incorrectly).

And Trent University – who are clearly too embarrassed to identify the cretin of a “researcher” responsible – have managed one of those brilliant paradoxes. They say they want to further their understanding of “threats to hedgehogs”. Obviously by becoming one.

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The Met Office has revealed the names it will be assigning to storms during 2017/18. Here they are:Storm Names 2017/18 - Met Office

You could just leave it at that. If you’re like me, though, you might see something a little more sinister.

Once upon a time, hurricanes were always given female names. In our modern PC world, though, this is totally unacceptable, and nowadays they use a mixture of male and female names. I believe that they alternate – so one hurricane will be female, the next male, the next female, and so on.

The Met Office – which started naming “storms” in the UK last year – has been giving them both male and female names from the start. As you know, all science in the UK simply has to involve children (and people with the kinds of children), which explains why you get names like Oisin and Wilbert.

I mean, there have been about six people named Wilbert in the last 100 years. Most of them are dead (a bit like the name, really), and those who aren’t nearly are. And although Oisin is apparently a top choice for Irish language boys’ names in Ireland, I can honestly say that the only time I’ve ever come across it is in ancient Irish literature (Oisin was the son of Fionn MacCool) through one of my favourite bands, Horslips.

The sinister part to my mind is that there are 11 male names and only 10 female ones. Can you imagine the uproar and demands for resignations that would follow if it was the other way around? And I reckon it’s only a matter of time before they start naming them retrospectively – or renaming them after the event – so that damaging ones don’t go down in history as having female names.

I’d bet money that someone somewhere has already raised that one in a meeting.

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Four years ago, spurred on by the London Olympics, a lot of people with no brains took up cycling, and so joined a lot of other people with no brains who already cycled.

I think I should explain, for about the six hundredth time, that I ride a bike sometimes. But – being in possession of a brain – I tend to do the following:

  • keep away from traffic whenever possible
  • use cycle paths wherever possible
  • follow the rules in the Highway Code

As we all know, though, the vast majority of cyclists do none of these things. They deliberately ride in traffic, deliberately get in the way of traffic, deliberately refuse to use cycle paths and cycle lanes, and do not abide by a single rule in the Highway Code. And they’re just the good ones. The long and the short of it is that the number of brain dead cyclists on the roads has increased dramatically since London, and the Rio Olympics appear to have given the problem another kick start. As a result, the number of actually dead cyclists continues to rise.

Here in Nottingham, the City Council has decided that we should be like Amsterdam as far as bikes are concerned (it also decided we should be like Munich, Hanover, Vienna, Zagreb, and lots of other places it was nice to visit on expensive “fact finding” trips about tram systems, but that’s another story). Consequently, it has continued to plan and introduce more and more dedicated cycle routes – bravely ignoring all opposition – as it steamrollers its Cycle City Ambition Programme through every inch of road.

Probably the worst example at the moment is along Castle Boulevard and the surrounding area. This what the road used to look like:Castle Boulevard before the dedicated cycle route

Notice how the lanes were wide and there was already a cycle lane marked out.

But this is what it is like now, after the installation of Nottingham City Council’s Glorious Cycle Superhighway:Castle Boulevard with the dedicated cycle route

You can see how the kerbed area on the left has taken a significant amount of road away from motor vehicles. If you go back towards the city centre you will also notice that all the residential parking along the side where the cycle route is has been lost.

Further away from the city, at the junction with Abbey Bridge, the roundabout which used to be two lanes wide is now only a single lane (as are all the feed roads). This older shot is from the Lenton side before Google has had a chance to update its imagery:Castle Boulevard and two lanes on the roundabout

As a result – and bearing in mind that this is a main route into the city centre and the Castle Marina Retail Park – traffic is frequently queueing on to the roundabout, even outside rush hour. Nottingham City Council has, in its quest to make sweet love to all cyclists while systematically screwing all motorists, created serious congestion.

But I haven’t got to my point yet, I’m just about to show you proof that Nottingham City Council is staffed by complete and utter f–kwits.

Let’s turn left from Castle Boulevard and on to Abbey Bridge. Here’s what the road looked earlier this year (again, Google imagery hasn’t been updated yet):Abbey Bridge before the cycle route

Nice wide road with a cycle lane either side. Enough room for cars and lorries to keep well away from cyclists.

Here’s what it looks like now, with the Superhighway installed:Abbey Bridge with the cycle superhighway installed

You can’t quite see how narrow the lanes are now that more than a quarter of the road’s width has been given over to the new kerbed cycle route. Back down by the roundabout they’re narrower still, AND they have put in a pedestrian crossing more or less ON the roundabout itself.

Just consider this a moment. The area is more than 90% student accommodation, and is a ten minute walk from the University main campus. Anyone who has ever had to drive during rush hour where there are students and pedestrian crossings will know how much of a delay that can create as the crossing spends more time on red than it does on green. And you purposely put such a crossing right on a roundabout which – as we’ve already seen – is on a road which was busy to begin with, and which has been made more so by the halving of its capacity. And the problems already being encountered have occurred during summer before the students come back…? But I still haven’t come to my point yet – and you’re going to love it!

As you travel over Abbey Bridge and down the other side, you approach the junction with Lenton Lane on the left and Gregory Street on the right. This is what it looks like right now:The Abbey Bridge traffic lights

As the cycle superhighway ends, the road opens up into two lanes at the lights. The lanes are clearly marked as you approach, thus:Abbey Bridge lights - road markings

One detail you might not notice is that, having spent millions on building a dedicated and segregated cycle route, the Council f—kwits have not seen fit to provide any cycle lane between the end of the superhighway and the cycle forward area at the lights. You will understand that in normal operation, hundreds of cars will be trying to move into that left hand lane while – theoretically, at least – hundreds of Bradley Wigginses will be trying to move into it from the superhighway. And it’s not marked up in any way!

But I’m still not there yet. And here it comes.

This is what the road looked like until two days ago. At the weekend they had the road markers out, and this is what they did at this junction. It is exactly the same as in the photo above on the approach, but this is what you have when you get there:Abbey Bridge lights - cycle route markings

Precisely what that left turn arrow is doing there is anyone’s guess. But the placement of a marked cycle lane right in the path of traffic has to be the most stupid and dangerous thing I have ever seen carried out by people in positions of ill-deserved power.

It’s so dangerous it’s criminal. Literally.

I should point out that the last three images were taken from the same video clip I recorded when I drove through the junction today. I didn’t have a picture of the junction prior to the weekend so I simply erased the new cycle lane in the 2nd image to show what it looked like last week.

They simply cannot leave it like this, as it is an accident waiting to happen. The big question, though, is what will they do? The road is too busy – a lot of people turn right – to restrict traffic to just the right hand lane. It isn’t wide enough to accommodate the superhighway and two lanes either at or beyond this junction (I guess that’s why it ends 50m short). There are definitely two lanes on the other side. And the road has been two lanes for so long – decades – changing it now would be dangerous. In any case, the road leads to the ring road, and is a major route to Long Eaton, Beeston, Chilwell, and Derby.

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Someone sent this to me recently, and I thought I’d tidy it up, add a few bits, and reproduce it here. It’s in the form of an open letter to a problem pupil. To be honest, I think it’s a composite of various pupils, but I think most of us can relate to at least part of it (note: I believe that the original came from somewhere around London and the Home Counties).

Dear xxxxxxxxxxxxxxx

You recently accused me of shouting at you on a lesson when your test was only ONE WEEK away. I listened to you, and decided that the written word might convey my sentiments more diplomatically than what I really wanted to say to your face at the time.

You came to me barely EIGHT WEEKS ago. You told me on the telephone that you could already drive, and had been doing so on a full licence in your home country in Africa – and more recently in Europe – for “many years”. Your plan was to “learn the test routes” and the British roads.

On our first lesson you could barely move the car without either stalling it, or lurching off with a wheel spin. Each time you stopped, the contents of the rear seat transferred themselves to the front. Indeed, stopping didn’t initially appear to be a problem for you, as you did it every time you saw another car moving even vaguely towards us, in the middle of junctions and roundabouts where we had clear right of way, and in sundry other situations. However, once we moved to busier roads it was apparent that your stopping skills were less reliable around pedestrian crossings and red lights. At least once on each of the FIVE LESSONS you have had during our time together I have had to stop the car for you either to  prevent us hitting a pedestrian or in order to comply with UK Law regarding red lights. Your clutch control has improved, but even on our most recent lesson you once again found moving away from your house problematic. The ache in my arm by the end reminded me that I had spent more time controlling the steering from my side than you had from yours. If I suggest that you use the handbrake when we are stopped, you invariably forget about it and try to move off with it engaged. Conversely, if I let you do it your way, we invariably roll back – and then either stall or generate a wheel spin as you react to the roll. For all practical purposes, you are a beginner in all aspects of driving in the UK.

Your speed control is such that I often have to remind you of the speed limit. You frequently do not see road signs at all (you don’t know what many of them mean), and your ability to follow and/or interpret direction signs is non-existent based on the few times I have asked you to follow the signs to somewhere.

You were – and remain – unable to complete any of the standard manoeuvres to anywhere near an acceptable standard. The time available to practice these has been reduced by your issues with basic car control, roundabouts, and road junctions, and the need to address these. On our most recent lesson, and having only done it once before with me, I asked you if you remembered how to reverse around a corner. You furnished me with the answer which is common among your countrymen, who would apparently prefer to demonstrate that they can’t do something instead of just admitting to it up front, and gave me an emphatic “yes”. I expressed surprise, but you were adamant. You then proceeded to do exactly what you did on the first lesson before I had shown you how to do it properly, and moved off without even a glimmer of a safety check. By the time I stopped you we were about to mount the kerb on the opposite side of the road, although you were gazing fixedly at something in the nearside mirror (it certainly wasn’t our nearside kerb).

You are unable to adhere to any sort of lane discipline, and you frequently drive as though there are no road markings at all. Your solution to not knowing where to position the car is to put it “somewhere in the middle”. Having said that, we have had to spend a significant amount of time recently going over two particular roundabouts repeatedly, because no matter how many times you negotiate them, and no matter how many times I get you to tell me you’re going “straight ahead” and you need to be in the lane with the “straight arrow”, as soon as we get there you jiggle the steering and go into the lane with the “left turn” arrow and we end up going left. All this happens when you panic (and especially when the word “roundabout” is mentioned), but you refused to acknowledge that you are in any way “nervous” or “panicked” until the most recent lesson when you let it slip out.

Your uncertainty over your road position in these situations means that even if you appear to be handling a particular junction or roundabout correctly, there is a high probability that as we approach it more closely you will suddenly attempt to fling the car into another lane with no prior mirror checks or signals. Indeed, this has even happened on straight roads, and without warning, when new lanes have appeared in front of us. I am constantly saying “watch the kerb” or grabbing the steering wheel to prevent us mounting the pavement or veering into another road user (which is why my arm aches by the end of our lessons).

Unfortunately, and in spite of what I have mentioned above, from the first moment you got in my car on that initial lesson all you have wanted to do was book your test. You had made it clear you were poorly paid and couldn’t afford many lessons. I explained that being test-ready was about being able to drive, not about taking the smallest number of lessons possible, but my experience in these matters told me you were not listening and just wanted to take a test as soon as you could get one (you would happily have done one that afternoon if you’d have had the chance). I warned you that tests were booking 18 weeks out, but you said that that was too far away. I explained that if you were test-ready we could look for cancellations and 18 weeks would be fine for now.

On our second lesson, you still had not booked a test. Then you told me that one of your friends had informed you that test centre “X” was “easier” than all the others in the county (this was based on the sole criterion that your friend had passed there). I explained that this was factually incorrect. I also pointed out that I didn’t normally cover that test centre as it was further away, and that I wasn’t completely familiar with the roads around it. I advised you to ignore your friend and to book your test at one of the several centres I DID cover (I even explained that one of them had the ACTUAL highest pass rate in the county) . These were closer and we had already driven around some of the typical roads.

You ignored me and booked your test at test centre “X” – because you had come across a cancellation test date that was less than SIX WEEKS away. You then cancelled a lesson and I didn’t see you for more than two weeks. This explains why, having been with me for EIGHT WEEKS, and with only ONE WEEK to go to your test, you have only taken FIVE lessons.

During our lessons your mobile phone chirps merrily away in your pocket. On the most recent one I made you silence it, because it was just too distracting. However, in spite of apparently being at the hub of the technological universe, you steadfastly refuse to answer any of MY texts – and I’m thinking especially of the ones where I was trying to clarify the actual date and time of your test for my diary. I only obtained this information from you on the THIRD lesson, and even then you had to look it up from the DVSA email on your phone. This suggests that you don’t give a damn about MY business and are only interested in what YOU want.

On that third lesson I took you out to the areas covered by test centre “X”, which is very busy. Even though you refused to admit it, you were terrified of every roundabout and every junction. You later claimed that it was because you were on “unfamiliar roads” – I refrained from pointing out that it was YOUR choice to book your test over there, though to be fair to you ALL roads are “unfamiliar” as far as the problems we are encountering go.

Fixing your driving would have been fairly straightforward over 18 weeks. Fixing it over 6 weeks, then losing 2 weeks when you stopped lessons, and concurrent with all this realising the depth of your problems, made it pretty much impossible. On our most recent lesson, I believe that it was my repeated intervention for the reasons mentioned above (most notably, where you AGAIN turned left at one of the roundabouts after telling me clearly what you had seen, what lane you needed, and which exit you should take), combined with your own dawning realisation that there just might be a problem, which led to your accusation that I was “shouting” at you. You also accused me of “not teaching” you. You actually said – with only ONE WEEK to go before your test – that “you should be telling me what to do so I can learn”.

Just for once, and before my blood boils off completely, you will consider MY concerns and do as you are told.

You ARE NOT taking your test next week. You WILL cancel it and move it back. A LONG WAY back. If you don’t like it, you can find another instructor.

I have been “telling you what to do” since the first lesson – and that is part of the problem. I should not be having to “tell you” anything this close to your test, particularly as you keep claiming to “be able to drive”. I have tried to let you drive independently and you can’t. Even a simple left turn can blow up into the most convoluted disaster imaginable if I don’t tell you exactly what to do, and you have learned almost nothing from these instances. You are not as good a driver as you seem to believe, and you are not a particularly fast learner. As I say, I can fix you in 18 weeks, but definitely not within the time frame you have in mind.

When the examiner gets in the car with you, you are ON YOUR OWN. If he has to tell you what to do, grab the wheel, use the brakes, etc. then you WILL fail.

My livelihood depends on retaining my licence to teach. People like you who only want to use my car for a driving test, could easily interfere with that. I have tried to get you ready for your test and – as a result of your complete and utter selfishness in booking a cancellation slot – have failed. Therefore you ARE NOT using my car next week.

Personally, I’ve lost count of the number of poorly-paid overseas pupils I’ve had who reckon they can drive and only want to go to test. Ones who do it in their own cars are the bane of DVSA examiners, as they take test after test with no proper lessons in between. Many are just dangerous, and the frightening thing is that if the examiner doesn’t see anything that the system says he should award a serious fault for, he has to pass that candidate.

I believe that the proposed changes to the driving test – while welcomed by certain inexperienced and naïve instructors – will just make the situation worse. We need a test which can weed out as many bad drivers as possible – not one which helps them pass, which is precisely what the proposed new test will do.

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Apologies for being offline for a while this evening. I had been trying to convert the site to HTTPS and lost access to the control panel.Futurama's Broken Robots

I make regular backups, and had a bit of a scare when the latest one wouldn’t restore (more specifically, I couldn’t import the old MySQL database into the new one). Anyway, after a bit of fiddling I finally managed it.

Sorry about that.

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A week or two ago I was force-fed the news that Alex Jones (a BBC TV presenter) was pregnant at the age of 39. My thoughts at the time were a very vague and nondescript mixture of “so what”, “39 isn’t old”, and “good luck to her”. Stuff like that.Alex Jones

Given the choice, I probably wouldn’t have thought about it again. Mind you, I wouldn’t have thought about it the first time if I’d been given the choice there, either. But then I was force-fed with some more “news” about her today. It seems that the BBC with its master plan to outlaw the condition of being male, has already given her a new show about fertility.

Ms Jones has been pregnant all of five minutes, and she is already an absolute and complete expert on the subject, telling us not to judge older women as selfish career hunters when they wait to have kids.

It’s funny. Two weeks ago, the possibility that Alex Jones was a “selfish career woman” hadn’t entered my head. But now, I can’t get it out of my head that Alex Jones IS a selfish career woman as she harangues us about age and fertility for her new show.

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I saw this story on the BBC website. It’s one of those that brings a tear to the eye.Fidencio Sanchez

Fidencio Sanchez is 89 years old. He had only been retired for a few weeks from his ice-cream selling business when his only daughter died and he became guardian to her two children. His wife, who also sold ice-cream, was forced to retire due to ill health. Consequently, he came out of retirement and began selling ice cream again. He works from “early” until 8pm. He’s 89, for God’s sake. The same age as my dad – and he shouldn’t have to be doing this.

Joel Cervantes Macias was passing by and saw him. He took this picture, which then appeared online, and then went viral. A friend (Joe Loera) suggested an online fundraiser – which had a target of $3,000.

They exceeded that within an hour. It currently stands at more than $200,000. And Joel and Joe prove that there is hope while the world still has people like them.

You can make a donation directly from the fundraiser page here.

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