A Driving Instructor's Blog

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A meteorThe Mirror has some handy advice for people who might want to watch the Lyrid meteor shower this weekend.

Apparently, you need to look up at the sky to see if it’s clear, because if it’s not you won’t see anything. Having established that it IS clear, you then need to keep looking up because that’s where the meteors will be.

I’m glad they told me that. I’d never have figured it out by myself.

Somewhat more relevant, other than the fact that it is the “second brightest star in the sky”, is that Vega is in the North East (the two stars on the handle side of The Plough point roughly towards it). The Mirror doesn’t mention that.

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I’ve always been a Labour voter, though I didn’t vote last time because Jeremy Corbyn is not the person to lead this country (even less so with his Brexit sympathies). Ooops. I DID vote last time, but vowed not to the next time because of Jeremy Corbyn. Thanks to a reader for pointing that out to me. My bad.

After today’s announcement of a General Election – probably on 8 June if it gets the go-ahead – my first thought was that I wouldn’t vote this time, either. Having said that, I haven’t seen the Lib Dem manifesto yet. If they’re against Brexit then they can count on my vote.

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Sat nav displayAn email alert has just come in from DVSA advising that the driving test will change from 4 December 2017. The changes are as follows:

  • Independent driving will now last for 20 minutes (instead of 10 minutes)
  • 4 out of every 5 tests will use a sat nav for the independent driving part
  • 1 out of every 5 tests will use traffic signs for the independent driving part (as often done now)
  • turn in the road and reversing around a corner will no longer be tested
  • 1 out of 3 possible manoeuvres will be tested – parallel park, bay park, or reversing in a straight line on the right-hand side of the road
  • one of the show me/tell me questions will be asked while you are driving

The bay park exercise could involve reversing in (as now) and driving out again, or driving in forwards, then reversing back out again. The straight reverse on the right will be for about two car lengths, then driving back out into the normal traffic flow.

The sat nav will be supplied by the examiner and won’t involve route setting. Going the wrong way won’t result in a fail as long as it is done properly (as now with independent driving).

The show me/tell question asked while driving will be of the “show me how you’d clean the windscreen if it was dirty” kind (not “show me how you’d adjust your head restraint”).

Although the changes are watered down a little from what was being discussed last year, I am totally opposed to the removal of the turn in the road and corner reverse exercises. These should have remained on the list of possible manoeuvres to make sure instructors were teaching people properly. DVSA says that “you should still be taught them by your instructor”, but that is bollocks – within 18 months the majority of ADIs won’t go anywhere near them (many won’t right from the off), and pupils are going to start kicking up a stink when they know they’re not going to be tested and yet are still being taught them on lessons (especially the ones who have trouble with them, or who can’t afford lessons as it is).

DVSA has only provided the most basic information showing response to the consultation. There is no detailed breakdown of who voted what – God only knows why you would want to ask “the public” how it should be tested on something it can’t do very well in the first place – and some obvious weasel words which amount to “well, even though people said ‘yes’, we decided it would be ‘no’”, and vice versa. I know that some weak-minded ADIs who were involved in the trials were gushing about the changes from the moment they had their first meeting with DVSA, but I can’t believe that those with a mind of their own were happy with everything.

I don’t have an issue with the other changes.

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Dropped star on EU flag29 March 2017 is a date which will go down in history as a turning point.

It marks the point at which stupidity as a prerequisite of being allowed to vote in the UK was officially sanctioned. It also marks the official sanctioning of hatred and xenophobia as a British trait suitable for campaigning purposes, since the only reason the aforementioned stupid people cast their votes the way they did last June was because of hatred and xenophobia directed at Europeans (and anyone else who doesn’t look British if you’re just too stupid to realise they might not be). Oh, and because of that bloody bus promising £350,000,000 a week to the NHS.

Of course, the Americans have taken a similar wrong turn with the election of a certain gentleman who – if you take into account some of the more artistically contrived stories the last few days – is either a complete a**hole or a misunderstood genius.

Occam’s Razor springs to mind here: if you come across as an a**hole to just about everyone who hears you every time you open your mouth, all things being equal, you probably are an a**hole. The same goes for Brexit, of course, because no matter how many times you repeat the mantra “everything will be all right”, the simple fact remains that the UK is leaving the largest economy in the world to strike out on its own as the fifth largest, and without having a clue how it is going to manage to retain that position.

Yes, Article 50 has been triggered.

So, 29 March 2017 will live in infamy as the precise point when the UK turned from metaphorically shooting itself in the foot, and aimed a little higher.

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Wonder Woman - from the upcoming filmThere’s a new superhero film on its way, this time a remake of Wonder Woman. That second word pretty much guarantees that everyone involved with the film is going to be strung up by the feminist community, no matter how feminine, masculine, or neutral the main character ends up as being portrayed.

In fact, it has already started. In her armpits.

Apparently, the tinfoil helmet brigade have already decided that her armpits have been digitally altered, and are… wait for it… up in arms over it (I couldn’t resist).

Twitter has turned incandescent over the matter, but someone beat me to it with this picture suggesting what she looked like before the digital airbrush treatment.The unaltered version

I almost choked when I saw it.

The simple fact is that with high definition imaging these days, someone’s armpits are going to put you right off your popcorn, no matter if they’re au naturel or freshly mowed. A bit of electronic jiggery-pokery is of benefit to everyone except the professional loonies out there.

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Another nail in the coffin of the UK as any sort of world power comes as it is announced that Theresa May will trigger Article 50 – the official notification of the UK’s intention to leave the EU – on Wednesday, 29 March 2017.

Remember: 29 March 2017.

It is a date which will live in infamy.


Incidentally, I saw a very appropriate comment posted by someone earlier today. They said:

The clocks go forward one hour on March 26th.

They go back 40 years on March 29th.

I wish I’d thought that one up.


And this one sums up pretty much everyone who voted to leave the EU:

why do remoaners always mention bananas when taking about the EU? I don’t mind if I never eat a banana again, I just want to get out of the EU, to be honest with you I don’t eat foreign food, it probably taste nice but I don’t trust it, Europe is ungrateful, we taught them English, gave them civilisation and taught them basic skills like how to use a knife and fork and use toilet paper.

Only thinking of himself, and so narrow-minded that he’ll only eat lard and gravel spread on BRITISH cardboard. The frightening thing is that he almost certainly believes that part about teaching Europeans to speak English and “civilising” them. And this clueless twat was allowed to vote last summer.

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CuckooYou couldn’t make this sort of thing up. Level after level of complete stupidity.

On one side, you have Katie Hopkins – anything she says or writes is usually complete bollocks, and with her unique way of putting it across, it is frequently even more bollocks than that. Back in 2015, she made a mistake (not a unique phenomenon for her) and got someone mixed up with someone else, made one of her trademark asinine and highly offensive comments to the innocent party, then followed it up with her trademark refusal to admit her error and apologise to that person once the error was noted. Indeed, even after the subsequent libel case went against her – leaving her with a legal bill likely to top £300,000 – she is still shit stirring.

On the other side, you have the person she offended – listed as a “food blogger” who goes by the name of “Jack Monroe”. Something that struck me in all the media stories this week was that it wasn’t possible to pin down whether Monroe was male or female. The name implies one thing, the photos are ambiguous (which is the only reason the question occurred to me in the first place), and none of the stories I read used the relevant personal pronouns. But I think I can now see why that was. That Huffington Post article starts off confusingly by using the possessive pronoun “their” to refer to Monroe in the singular. I initially assumed it was a typo or bad editing – something which is now standard in most media outlets – since “he” and “she” are singular, and the only grammatically correct asexual alternative is “it”. But it clarifies a few paragraphs later:

Monroe, who identifies outside the binary construct of gender and prefers the gender-neutral pronoun ‘they’ and title ‘Mx’…

I wonder how long it took to come up with that pile of crap? I mean, you could say quite simply “he or she is writing a blog article”. It would appear that “it is writing a blog article” is not acceptable for some reason. Monroe apparently expects it to be rendered “they is writing a blog article”. And what the f*** is wrong with “Ms” if you live your life on a high horse, free from any sort of reliance on a filthy, putrid male? How the hell is “Mx” any different, other than requiring a brand new construct?

Any sympathy I originally felt has wafted away on the winds, along with grammatical correctness, and I now consider the match to be a draw. Mind you, it does mean we get two nominees for the 2017 Darwin Awards instead of just one.

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Bus LaneThis BBC story reports that bus lane enforcement cameras make £31m per year in fines. One particular lane, in Newcastle, made £1.5m on its own – and that’s after you consider that the BBC contacted 160 local authorities for financial data.

The fun part is where a spokeswoman for Newcastle said:

We would firmly stress that bus lanes are not there to generate income – they are there to help us to manage our road networks efficiently.

Liar. Bus lanes CAUSE congestion, and they have done so since the day the first one was introduced. You have to be a complete idiot (or pathological liar) either not to realise that, or to argue the point. So sticking cameras on them can only be to make easy money.

A prime example in Nottingham is the A52 Derby Road heading into the city via the Priory Roundabout. It used to be three lanes in merging to a single lane going out, past Wollaton Park. There was always serious congestion during rush hour. Then, they turned the left lane into a 24-hour bus lane, and suddenly three lanes of traffic was forced into just two, with still just a single lane leading out. The only benefit was to buses, which were now able to skip about three-quarters of a mile of gridlock and force their way back in at the roundabout (“force” being the operative word when Barton, Indigo, or YourBus are involved). Since much of the congestion was caused by buses stopping for extended periods of time on the single lane side (all the stops are next to the University, and you can imagine the difficulty most students are likely to have getting on a bus), having them all get down there more quickly made the congestion even worse. Admittedly, it doesn’t have cameras on it, but there are plenty that do.

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Driver using mobile phoneFrom today (1 March 2017) the penalties for using a mobile phone when driving have increased.

If you get caught now, it’s 6 points on your licence and a £200 fine. New drivers – those who passed their tests less than 2 years ago – should bear in mind that the points will put them at the limit provided during the probationary period. In theory – and, hopefully, in reality – that means you’re banned.

DVSA’s photo used in the news release carries the words “make the glove compartment the phone compartment”. Unfortunately, this is unlikely to happen – the typical 17-year old can only put their phone in one of two places: in their hand, or between their legs. Well over half of my new pupils try that at first, and I know for a fact that however much I emphasise the dangers and penalties, when they pass they’re going to do it. I also know that they will use their phone while they’re driving – it is a condition of 17-year olds today.

I fully agree with higher penalties. The only form of education which stands any chance of working is one which carries a significant punishment with it.

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British BreakfastIt seems that the new £1 coin – which will soon be put into circulation – narrowly escaped having a picture of a fried breakfast on it.

How long will it take for the arseholes who run this country wake up and realise that “having a vote” on important decisions by involving the general public is like having your dog guard your kebab. It isn’t going to work, no matter how much you try and convince yourself it will.

It was almost Boaty McBoatface all over again.

Amusingly, the design chosen – from a 15-year old, and against the huge number of suggestions for a fried breakfast image – incorporates a rose, leek, thistle, and shamrock. Thanks to Brexit, at least one of those is likely to end up out of place in a few years’ time.

In the words of Kent Brockman:

I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again. Democracy simply doesn’t work

Or Winston Churchill:

The best argument against democracy is a five-minute conversation with the average voter

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