A Driving Instructor's Blog


All the Es

This article was originally published in 2011, but I’ve updated it a couple of times since, and again in 2018 following a run of hits. It’s been popular on and off since, and has suddenly been swamped again in mid-2021.

The original article came about after watching an argument flare up on a forum concerning the 4Es. Basically, no one knew what they were, but they’d all done a quick search and were arguing their own interpretations of the first hit they’d come across on Google. It’s funny watching people trying to put each other down when none of them have a clue.

As an aside, I notice that some organisations have turned the 4Es into the 5Es. At least I guess it means they can have more meetings, do more flipcharts, and offer more consultation opportunities instead of getting on with some bloody work. I’ve even seen the 3Es out there somewhere. Talk about confusion!

One of the big problems trying to get to the bottom of what the 4Es are all about is that even the people apparently implementing them obfuscate things so much that they don’t have a clue, either. The best place to go for a serious explanation is America, and a public safety site for Nevada is probably the best I’ve seen.

Nevada gives them as:

  • engineering
  • enforcement
  • education
  • emergency response

The Wikipedia entry explains:

Accident prevention and improvement of traffic safety

This comprises education and information, above all following the “4 Es”: enforcement, education, engineering, encouragement/economy. The main goal is promoting safety by influencing and modifying behavior using legal, educational, vehicle- and road-specific measures; driver training, driving-instructor education, information on traffic issues, campaign design and marketing, effective enforcement.

You will note the slight difference with the fourth one, though if you think about it, Nevada has it covered with their version – and bear in mind that they actually use it.

“Engineering” means things like road design, lane markings, footpaths, and so on (design things with safety in mind). “Enforcement” means publicity, policing, and so on (remind people, and pull them up if they don’t comply). “Education” means giving out information, conducting campaigns, and so on for all users (pedestrians and drivers). “Emergency response” refers to maintaining a “first responder” system.

India has been looking into it, and they refer to:

…included engineering of safe roads, provision of emergency care, enforcement of traffic rules and regulations, the use of ITS for improving road safety, and the creation of an educational and awareness campaign for changing road user behaviour to improve road safety.

The same headings as Nevada. And the ITE – an international organisation – says:

Within the 4 E’s of transportation safety, “engineering” and “education” are two of the more traditional focuses for transportation engineers and planners. However, the importance of “enforcement” and “emergency responses” should not be understated, and both are critical elements of a successful roadway safety management program.

From a driving instructor’s point of view, the education part is the one they are going to be dealing with, though perhaps with a little enforcement thrown in.

Remember, though, that it is the dog which wags the tail – not the other way round – and decent instructors (or anyone else acting responsibly) are covering their part automatically without having to worry about acronyms and the inevitable flipcharts and Powerpoint sessions. In the rat race, though, it all has to be documented and filed, so it is a much bigger – and more costly – job.


ReadlyA couple of years ago I was having a clear out and I was amazed at the number of magazines I’d collected over the years. They were mainly my Classic Rock mags, and part of my decision to have a clear out was that I’d been getting more and more disillusioned with that particular publication.

At the time, I was on an annual subscription, but Planet Rock had just launched its own magazine and that did exactly what it said on the tin – it covered rock music. Classic Rock acquired a new editor, and she made it clear in her introductory piece what she was planning. Subsequently, any rock music they covered had to include at least half female acts – meaning it became obscure and far from ‘classic’, at best – and they also decided that (as just one example) Depeche Mode somehow ticked both the ‘classic’ and ‘rock’ boxes at the same time (actually, they decided twice in the space of just a couple of months with that one example). Then they did their ‘best 100 female artists of all time’ issue, and necessarily had to include non-rock genres to fill it out. That was it from me, and I cancelled my sub.

Before any feminists start frothing at the mouth over this, I go to see lots of female artists and bands with female members. I actually seek them out if I hear them on Planet Rock and like the sound. Like Samantha Fish, Haim, Paramore, Evanescence, Courtney Love, Joanne Shaw Taylor, The Lounge Kittens… I just don’t need any feminist magazine editors trying to filter out the men for me. And if you don’t like the fact that I don’t like that fact, click the back button and go somewhere else.

Planet Rock mag suits me fine, but when the lockdown came along, it also came with a lot of extra time for reading and finding tips on how to do stuff I wouldn’t have otherwise had time for. And going out to buy magazines wasn’t an option – even if it would have been of benefit with the ‘current’ issue on sale (you usually need a series of them).

A few years ago, as a result of my quest to find some authentic German food recipes, I came across a subscription service called Readly. It carries – and this is no exaggeration – thousands of UK titles. They’re all the ones you see on the newsstands (and many you don’t), from TV Times, OK!, Hello!, through all the photography and amateur DIY magazines, through to music and musicians (including Classic Rock). They cover specialist computer and technology subjects, gaming, weddings, cycling, fishing, horse riding, pets… everything (but no X-rated adult stuff). Including back issues, too, which multiplies the content by at least ten. And as I already implied, they have similar numbers of publications from Europe, Asia, and America. They’ve also recently started including newspapers, though it’s only The Independent and Evening Standard right now.

My normal Readly subscription is less than £8 a month, but they offer a two months for free trial. Even so, at £8 a month, that’s the newsstand cost of just three magazines! If you were after foreign magazines, you’d probably pay more than that for a single issue once shipping was included.

You can get the Readly app with the offer through Amazon (it’s free), and you can read on your phone, tablet, or computer. You can also read offline by downloading the content.


Swarm of GnatsI’ve mentioned this before, but I started the blog way back in November 2008. That first month, I got 7 visits! It’s gone steadily upwards ever since, and at the present rate, I figure that the blog will pass the 1,000,000 visitor mark early in 2019.

So I guess I must be doing something right, even if I’m not pulling in McDonalds or Coca-cola levels of traffic.

I keep an eye on my stats, and investigate any blips. I had one recently where increased traffic was coming from Facebook and landing on the Should I Become A Driving Instructor article. After a bit of digging, I discovered that the owner of a Facebook group had linked to it in good faith.

That article is a long one, and it runs to more than 15,000 words, which is about a quarter of the length of standard novel. For me, that’s no problem whatsoever – I can both read that number of words (in about 20 minutes), and write them (albeit over a longer period). Tossing off a 1,000-worder takes me perhaps an hour, on and off, including digging out and editing a suitable image to go with it. If I know what I want to say, I have no problem writing it down, and the only bottleneck is how quickly I can type (or physically write if I’m putting it on paper). I guess that the only problem with all this is in assuming that other people can cope with that many words. But then again, as I’ve said before, it’s my blog and if they don’t like it, there’s the BACK button.

As an aside, I used to be able to physically write very quickly with what everyone said was “girlie” handwriting (i.e. it was neater than theirs, legible, and flowing). I’ve always had an interest in calligraphy, too. Many years of using computers means I get cramp if I try handwriting for long now, and it doesn’t feel anywhere as neat as it used to be – though pupils often comment on how neat it is.

Anyway, back on topic. It seems, though, that it is me who is somehow in the wrong for making that article 15,000 words long judging from some of the inane comments on that Facebook page!

The reason for this seems to be rooted in what the Internet Age has done to people’s intellects. Consider this question:

Discuss the issues facing someone who is considering becoming a teacher.

For me, a complete answer could easily run to 10,000 words or more. However, for many people today, a perfectly acceptable answer might amount to:

Smile lol

Regular blog readers will already know that I have a low opinion of many of those I have to share this planet with, and who cross my path in the course of a typical day (other driving instructors often make up a fair proportion of those). This is the main reason I don’t have comments enabled.

The point is, though, that if you were thinking of becoming a teacher, which answer is likely to be of most benefit to you? The one with a lot of relevant words on a complex subject written by a teacher, or the one put together by a monkey using random hieroglyphics? Incidentally, if you think it’s the monkey one, just accept that I’m trying to help you.

That’s why the Should I Become A Driving Instructor article is 15,000 words long. It’s not aimed at monkeys.


Channeling Positivity school closureThe local BBC newsfeed has done away with news other than to report page after page of school closures due to the snow. But this one made me laugh.

I think we can be fairly certain that the Irony Academy is still open.


Burntstump Seely emailThe local BBC newsfeed has a comment where a local school – Burntstump Seely – has set some “homework” for children, while the school is closed due to snow. It shows a photograph of the poster the school has put up (or possibly emailed) for the children (above).

Personally, I’d have set some spelling homework. The person who produced this can’t even spell the name of the school correctly (see bottom left).

Incidentally, the spelling is wrong on Google Maps, too, and anything related to that. The rest of Google shows it as “Burntstump”, and the road it is on is called “Burntstump Hill”. The letterhead in the image above shows it as “Burntstump”. There’s a nearby restaurant called “Burnt Stump”, and the school is right on the edge of the “Burntstump Country Park”



Neat handwritingAs I mentioned in that recent story about the idiot who had allowed an it’s-a-fair-cop-I-did-it-where-do-I-pay £30 parking fine escalate into a £600-and-counting-here-come-the-bailiffs-again melodrama, I sometimes despair at the direction society seems to be heading.

When I write out my address on a letterhead or envelope (or when I complete any online form), it takes the format:

Mr Firstname Lastname

22 My Street North

The Estate


XY12 2AB

You will note how each word is properly capitalised (and all of the post code). The advantage of such a clearly written address is that the blame for subsequently misdirected mail cannot lie with me, but rather with The Royal Mail, who seem to treat delivering letters and packages as something of a hindrance to all the other things they apparently do in their sorting offices. Indeed, they apparently have a failure rate of something like 1 in every 1,000 letters, and I firmly believe that most of these are mine, since I am losing an average of three or four letters or parcels every few months. And I also suspect that they aren’t making daily deliveries on my street, particularly where packages are involved (don’t even get me started on the speed with which they decide no one is home as you run down the stairs to answer the door and they’ve sprinted to the van and driven off, having left a poorly completed “while you were out” card on the door mat).

But back to addressing issues. In these modern times, it is very un-Teamworking to point out someone’s crap literacy, and as a result it has become common for people to use all capitals (ugly and messy), all lower case (ugly, messy, and stupid), random capitalisation (ugly, messy, lazy, and even more stupid), or any or all of the above with added txtspk (just stupid, full stop) when they post on forums, send emails, or – and this is where my point is heading – when they fill out online address forms.

Today, I printed out a postal label for someone after I sold an item on eBay. Their official eBay-registered postal address, if taken from the one I gave above, looks like this:

Firstname Lastname

22 my street north, The Estate




Xy12 2ab

If it wasn’t for the fact that the postage labels are created securely I would have corrected it, but I can’t help wonder why someone would complete their eBay profile so poorly. It might get there – but if it doesn’t, it’s been played directly into The Royal Mail’s hands.


The local BBC News site had a warning after some local troglodytes were seen waving bags at stags in Wollaton Park. Bear in mind that it is the rutting season, and the last thing any sane person needs is a pair of deer antlers up their backside.Stags fighting

But this bit is funny:

Kath George, museum assistant at Wollaton Hall, said…

“Our advice is always the same, no matter what the season, or whether the deer have children with them – DO NOT approach them!

“They are wild animals…”

I always thought a young deer was a fawn. But it seems that we’re now anthropomorphising them for some reason.


I was in Asda the other night doing my weekly shop. It was about 6.30pm, and I remember thinking to myself that I was a bit early and would have to put up with an elevated number of other customers (and all that that entails).Macaulay Culkon from Futurama

True to form, the entrance area (from 5m inside the store to the same distance outside) was performing its usual function as a place for people with trolleys to walk into and then stop dead, preventing anyone else from coming in or going out. The outer entrance area  (Asda’s smoking garden) was filled with oiley, obese, and generally disgusting people chain smoking something they must have picked up after their dog had done its business. Naturally, it being a Friday, the pick-up/drop-off areas and parent/toddler bays, were full of Audis and 4x4s – each containing a swarthy, acne-ridden individual barely visible in the front bucket seat, cycling through endless dance tracks in an attempt to find the one most likely (in his dreams) of making everyone go “oooh! Look how cool he is” (in reality, everyone thinks “prick”).

Ordinarily, I would simply have wondered for a few minutes if the specimens in the Audis were actually in the car park for any reason other than to “be seen” – were they waiting for someone, for example? If so, were they going to be the first Audi driver in the history of the universe to be seen opening up the trunk and loading a pile of groceries into it? I might also have wondered where the smokers were going – were they waiting for an ashtray on wheels, driven by another chain-smoker, to pick them up and take them and their salad and baguettes back to the bricks and mortar ashtrays they live in? And so on.

Once inside, I’d probably have scowled at a few people as they blocked aisles or pushed trolleys around with no application whatsoever of the Supermarket HIghway Code. I’d almost certainly have wondered at the mentality of those who shop in Asda, and who are responsible for the presence of raw chickens placed next to the biscuits, fresh pizza on top of cases of Budweiser, empty crisp and snack packets on various shelves, and the sundry fresh and frozen items secreted in locations hundreds of metres away from where they should be. Had it been a particularly bad day, I’d undoubtedly have fumed at the number of children wearing “heelies” and running up and down in front of me. In fact, it was a bad day, because I had to contend with some 3 year-old brat on a bicycle as I walked towards the dairy aisle, a slightly older one swinging a trolley around in a circle in another, one jumping up and down in the beer aisle in front of two obese men (one of which I assume was her father), and – in the background the whole time I was there – a repeated, piercing scream from the spawn of some Earth Mother who probably thought that her kids should be seen and heard by everyone.

Then I saw this story on the BBC website. Kim Christofi owns a small cafe in Felixstowe, and she posted on her store’s Facebook page that she would step in if parents were “too scared to discipline their children”. She actually said it much better than that. Here is the actual Facebook text:

Can we make ourselves perfectly clear to all parents who are too scared to discipline their children about tantrum screaming. We will give you five lenient minutes to ask the child to stop screaming and then we will ask the child ourselves. If that means you too having a tantrum about our having to speak to your child and hurling threats about not returning – that’s really okay with us. We have a duty of care to the rest of our customers.

Absolutely spot on. But, as you can probably imagine, all the Brexit voters out there (yes, I’m assuming – but I’m probably right) didn’t like it one bit. As a result, Ms Christofi’s Facebook account has been inundated with trolls accusing her of being against autistic people, against disabled people in general, and all the other bad things that come at you from Facebook when you’re in the news.

Someone who goes by the name “Emma Watson” is a prime example of all that’s wrong with Facebook:

So the South Kiosk at Martello Park have had to close their Facebook page and I’m not sure she will have much business today or this summer.

This may have been a very silly error of judgement on her part, she obviously hadn’t thought this though or realised how vital things can go on Facebook.

It’s a shame she couldn’t just admit she made a mistake and apologise. Instead she made excuses and dug a deeper hole.
I’m not excusing any vile responses but I can imagine their wa…s some extremely upset parents out there that responded in the heat of the moment, but I’m not sure you can blame them really. I don’t however think it was those comments that put her out of business. She really did that herself. It was her post that did the damage and even if people couldn’t comment and that post was shared far and wide the outcome would have been the same.

I hope she takes this time to reflect on this situation.

I don’t think they have closed their page. And I think their business has gone through the roof, because there are many more people out there who support what she has said than there are who disagree. What has happened is that – as usual – those who disagree have the biggest mouths and the lowest intelligence, and the South Kiosk’s Facebook page has been trolled almost to death by people like Miss (sorry, Ms) Watson. I also notice that some media outlets have representatives who are hounding Ms Christofi on Facebook, using very offensive language and Sun-style analytics of every word Ms Christofi says. Some idiots are even referring to physical assault having taken place – I can see no reference anywhere for that.

Let’s just clarify some things:

  • Ms Christofi wrote a comment about screaming kids in her café
  • she did not – at any time – identify them as autistic, disabled, or anything else
  • there is absolutely nothing else to add – that’s all she did/didn’t say

Unfortunately, some imbecile (and it’s hard to point the finger at one in particular) decided that an autistic kid screaming at the top of its lungs in a public area is somehow different to a normal one doing it, and is therefore totally acceptable.  People like Emma Watson have orgasms over things like this. Ms Christofi’s most recent comment on the subject is:

For the last time, If you are bringing your children up to the kiosk then YOU need to keep them under control. If YOUR child is damaging MY business then I will take action.

Again, she is absolutely spot on.

If I go to the cinema to watch a film, I don’t expect to have anyone sitting next to me (or even to be within earshot) who is going to be screaming and running around, be it a kid or an adult. And it would make no difference if I subsequently discovered that the screamer was autistic – because if they were, and if they can’t keep quiet and still, then they shouldn’t be there. Exactly the same applies if I go to a restaurant or a cafe, or most other public venues.

Some morons are saying that tantrums are part of a child’s development, and ignoring them is one way of dealing with it. Actually, any decent parent would have done their job well enough by “ignoring” tantrums at home, so that public displays were rare. I didn’t do it when I was a kid because I knew I’d get a clip round the ear. Instead, public tantrums like these are the norm – the culmination of a me-me-me scenario being played out, where the kid has been spoiled again and again, but still wants more.

And far too many rubbish parents seem willing to label it as “autism”.

But let’s just close by saying again that Ms Christofi never mentioned autism. She only commented on badly-behaved children.

Note: Autism exists. The problem is that the symptoms of true autism overlap significantly with simple bad behaviour and poor upbringing. That ineffectual parents should latch on to autism as an excuse for their failings is perhaps understandable.


I was casually browsing the BBC website and came across this story. It states that “Ofsted is warning that pupils are being taught in ‘squalid’ schools that are unregistered and unsupervised”.

If you read the entire article at no point can you find out anything other than what the relatively vague Ofsted wording says. The first thing I wanted to know was what type of schools these were and even that information is missing. They mention schools, “some [of which] are believed to be in Birmingham and London”, but only include one name – Bordesley Independent School in Birmingham – but suggest that that one “has closed”.

The closest they get to what must be fairly obvious to the casual reader is:

…inspectors had been delayed from entering, but once inside had found “squalid conditions, including three single mattresses covered in filthy sheets in one room and no running water in the toilet areas”.

There was also “clear evidence of segregation, with separate classrooms for boys and girls” and “no evidence of appropriate vetting checks being carried out on staff”.

Inspectors also warned of “pupils being taught a narrow curriculum that was failing to prepare them for life in modern Britain”.

Going with the only piece of concrete information – Bordesley Independent School – a check on various UK business sites, such as Endole, reveals nothing about accounts. However, it does indicate that the director resigned on 28 September 2015. That director’s name was Naveed Naveed Hussain, and although he apparently “resigned” he is also listed as “current”. Other business sites still report the company as “active” and Mr Hussain as “current”.

You will note that I am following the BBC’s lead on this and skirting around the issue in case some dimwit (like that crazy woman from Manchester who wrote to me a few years ago) decides to play society’s favourite card.


I caught this story on the BBC website earlier today. It concerns a mathematics exam which was taken yesterday, and which has apparently turned half of the teenage population suicidal as a result of one of the questions. Here’s the question which has caused all the fuss:Maths exam question from 2015 which caught everyone out

The BBC quotes a pupil:

There was one person in the exam hall who was crying their eyes out during the exam.

Naturally, being 2015, the whole affair warranted numerous tweets and Facebook posts. These showed fairly conclusively that modern pupils’ sense of humour is as bad as their maths skills.

The Beeb quotes another one:

I found the exam bearable at the beginning but then it took a sharp turn to maths that was way too hard.

I can’t remember the numbers, but the one about Hannah’s sweets in particular made me want to cry.

And Georgina (another pupil) is quoted:

The question involving Hannah’s sweets was the most annoying question I have ever seen in a GCSE paper.

I think Edexcel want us to be like Einstein. It’s crazy, and I hope the exam board lower the grade boundaries because most of the people who took that exam did not know what that question meant.

I think it’s fairly obvious that someone somewhere has screwed up if pupils hadn’t effectively been given the answers before they went in. That’s how it works these days, isn’t it? The exam people reckon it was deliberate, but with so many unhappy boys and girls crying to mummy and daddy… well, let’s see who backs down first.

Georgina and her friends might want to consider the kind of questions we used to have to answer when O Levels were still around. Here’s the first one from a maths paper (syllabus 1) from way back (the first question on any paper was always the easiest):First question from a 1968 O Level maths paper (syllabus 1)

Or this one from syllabus 2:Fiest question from a 1968 maths O Level paper (syllabus 2)

I passed my maths O Level with questions like this. As I’ve said before, modern kids don’t know they are born.

The question about Hannah and her sweets is funny, because it’s all typically baby-like (as you’d expect of a 21st century exam paper), then you are smacked in the face by a proper equation and asked something in terms modern pupils have most likely never had to deal with (i.e. “show that… etc.”). But what’s even more surprising is the depth of knowledge of probability theory needed to answer it – the key is that you have to multiply probabilities to solve it. I ought to add that if this sort of thing really is being taught to school kids these days, I’ll happily take back some of what I’ve said about exams getting easier.

Like I say, someone somewhere – and we’re talking about Edexcel here – has cocked up. If not now, they will have once enough complaints have been made.

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