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I just saw this on the BBC website. It’s one of the saddest stories I’ve ever read.

Harold Milner, 79, passed his driving test in October 2017. He’d done it because his wife, who had always driven, was terminally ill with bone cancer and was unable to continue doing so, and he needed to be able to take her to and from the hospital.

Less than three weeks after passing his test, he mistook the accelerator for the brake and hit 70-year old Irene Moore, who was crossing the road while shopping in Hull. She died in hospital three days later.

A policeman called to the scene, PC Bryan Moore, saw Mrs Moore as she was being treated at the scene with the breathing bag over her face. He didn’t realise until he heard her name mentioned later on police radio that it was his own mother.

PC Moore said at trial that he bore no ill-feeling towards Mr Milner and didn’t want to see him put in prison.

Maybe for once the judge got it right when he described it as:

…a tragedy for all concerned. It is a truly remarkable and unique case.

Mr Milner was given a four-month suspended sentence. He has since surrendered his licence and has no intention of driving again.

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Trump's Space CorpsLike Brexit, Donald Trump is another anomaly from 2016 that just keeps on giving.

His latest stunt appears to involve restarting the Strategic Defense Initiative – aka “Star Wars” – which was first started by Ronald Reagan in 1983 at the height of The Cold War.

The big differences this time around are that:

  • Ronald Reagan wasn’t a certified nutcase
  • technology wasn’t up to it the first time
  • the key world leaders involved now are bordering on insanity

I think the picture above gives a good representation of what is involved – at least in theory.

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Old-style dial phoneOnce upon a time, a call made to “directory enquiries” by dialling 192 on your phone was free. In the 1990s, BT started charging 25p per call, and this rose to 40p by 2002. At that time, this was already considered a rip-off – an understandable reaction to something which previously cost nothing. The service was discontinued shortly afterwards. To replace it, the 118 numbers appeared. Whereas BT operated 192, any company could start a 118 service. And they did.

The most popular service today is 118 118, widely advertised with those two long-haired and moustachioed blokes, and which was successfully sued a few years ago by David Bedford (a British athlete from the early 70s) for stealing his image.

Before the internet – indeed, at a time when some houses still had gaslights, and many still had outside toilets – directory enquiries was an important service. It was a good way of finding someone’s phone number from their name and/or address, and I used it a few times in my youth. I remember that the operators were very helpful and adept at nailing the number you were after, even if the information you had was quite vague. However, by the time BT started charging for the service, I was on the internet and could find numbers myself. That was over 25 years ago, so it amazes me that anyone today should still need such services as 118 118. But apparently, they do.

I suppose we should be grateful that human longevity is what it is, otherwise we’d all still be wearing clothes made on Jacquard looms, riding Penny Farthings (albeit, clad in Lycra) to work, and I’d probably be giving lessons on how to drive a horse and carriage. Because it seems that more than 2% of the population still uses directory enquiries (more than 4% if they’re over 65). That’s a lot of people.

As I said, 192 calls cost 40p at the time the service was shutdown, and people were unhappy even then. Well, it seems that current 118 services cost as much as £20 per call, with 118 118 charging over £11, and even the cheapest providers charging between £1-£3. Those with the highest profiles – 118 118, Hello Maureen, Yell – are the worst offenders.

The funny thing is that the media was going on about this exact same thing over a year ago, where it was pointed out that 118 operators were free to charge up to £24 per call. The BBC even used the same photo in the article then that they have used in this latest story.

For me, the need for directory enquiries was pretty much gone right when I jumped on to the web. Over 25 years down the line it should be gone for everyone. I mean, you can even talk to your computer or phone (or Alexa) and ask it for a number these days, and unlike the phone services – which are apparently surly and unhelpful – you can ask the question in different forms again and again until you get a result. If you do this, there are no rip offs to worry about in the first place.

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Scum pitched on Chilwell P+RAnyone using the Chilwell park and ride car park should be aware that it is currently overrun with vermin. It seems they’ve been there almost a week already.

Yes, for at least the third time in 18 months, filthy “travellers” have moved in and they’ve turned the place into a garbage tip.

I went in there with a pupil yesterday to do a bay park manoeuvre, and the scum have spaced themselves out right across 80% of the park. There is refuse everywhere, and they are using the space behind an electricity box at the end closest to the main road as a latrine. This is the kind of scum that they are.

We watched one of them go behind the box and relieve himself, then walk back to his caravan. There are also what appear to be wet wipes strewn behind that box, so they’re shitting there, too. Even apes in a zoo are cleaner than these animals.

Authorities are no doubt going through all the usual hoops to get them off.

If it was me, I’d just send in – actually, I’d be happy to drive it myself – a big JCB and trash all their bloody caravans, whether they’re inside them or not. They are filthy, verminous scum, and deserve nothing better.

And the sooner the Police cotton on to this, the better it will be all round.

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A motorwayI’ve said it before, but this is about 50 years late. But better late than never.

As of today, 4 June 2018, learner drivers will be allowed on motorways as long as they’re with a fully-qualified instructor and in a car with dual controls fitted.

The Highway Code has also changed with effect from today. Specifically, Rule 253. This paragraph has been added:

From 4 June 2018 provisional licence holders may drive on the motorway if they are accompanied by an approved driving instructor and are driving a car displaying red L plates (D plates in Wales), that’s fitted with dual controls.

Apparently, learners are still not allowed on certain roads – designated “special roads”. Motorways were specifically designated “special roads” until today, but the Law has changed on that. So the big question has to be: what other “special roads are there?”

I have to be honest and say that until I saw this email from DVSA, I had no idea that there was a third category of non-private carriageway beyond normal roads and motorways. After looking it up, it would appear that I wasn’t alone, and a FOI enquiry was made on the subject in 2016 by someone.

It would seem that there is only one “special road” in the whole of the UK. Highways England – and even they had to look into it – responded to the FOI request with:

From the information that we hold, the only non-motorway special road that has been identified is the A282 in Essex and Kent, between M25 junction 30 and south of M25 junction 1b. This section of road includes the Dartford – Thurrock River Crossing.

Why does this country have to be so f—ing stupid? But anyway, the fact remains that as of today (4 June), learners can be taken on any road in the whole of the UK – except for the f—ing A282 in Essex and Kent (unless another one crawls out of the woodwork).

Jesus H Christ.

Update: A reader informs me that there is a stretch of the A55 in North Wales which is also classed as a “special road” (and maybe part of the A1 ‘oop north’). I’ve actually driven on that when visiting Llandudno one time before I became an instructor.

Ahhh. Llandudno. Every other shop is a Mobility shop. And (some) people drive around with wheelchairs on the rhino horns on the back of their cars. I’m not making that up. Much. And you’ll get tarred and feathered if you pronounce “Llandudno” the way it’s spelled while you’re there.

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iZettle logoI’ve mentioned elsewhere that when I first started taking card payments from my pupils, I chose iZettle. Everything was fine (without anything to compare with) until the time they updated their app and it wouldn’t run on my smartphone. They basically told me to get stuffed – effectively almost killing my business overnight – which prompted me to switch to PayPal. By the time they came back and admitted they had made a mistake, it was too late.

Ironically, I would have chosen PayPal in the first place if their staff hadn’t been so incompetent at the time, but the bad information I was given had ironed itself out by the time iZettle screwed up, and the switch was easy.

PayPal is much better than iZettle ever was. The main plus point being that any money you take can be in your account within minutes, as opposed to the “several working days” (aka a week, if you have bank holidays and a system fault to deal with at Easter or Christmas). PayPal is 24/7, whereas iZettle was 24/3 if you were lucky, and 0/7 if you weren’t.

So it was with interest that I read this article reporting that PayPal has purchased iZettle.

The language is suitably business-like, and it isn’t possible yet to say why this has happened, given that iZettle was apparently ready to list itself on the Swedish stock exchange. Surprisingly, it had targeted being “in profit” for 2020 (compare that to PayPal, which has been “in profit” since the Age of the Dinosaurs). However, I get a number of hits from people who are having problems with iZettle judging by the search terms used, so I have my own opinion.

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The Keystone KopsWikipedia tells us that The Keystone Kops were…

…fictional, humorously incompetent policemen, featured in several silent film slapstick comedies produced by Mack Sennett for his Keystone Film Company between 1912 and 1917.

A local news item tells how a lunatic waving a machete around was reported to the Police on 4 May. The man who reported him is quoted:

He was screaming and coming down the road with the machete shouting ‘I’m going to chop you up’.

If I hadn’t moved he would have caught me with it.”

The Police came and confiscated the weapon – but they didn’t arrest the man because:

…the force said they “couldn’t find any sign of a disturbance”.

They didn’t take a statement from the witness immediately, and the lunatic with the machete (who is clearly a mental case) was finally arrested a week later, on 11 May. The BBC video of what “no disturbance” looks like to Nottingham Police is therefore quite revealing. As is the apparent change in the Law, which it now seems allows you to have a machete in public in the first place and not be arrested.

Then there was this story from Worcester. Police there have put up a sign at the station telling criminals when the best (and most convenient) time to hand themselves in is.

Police message to criminals - West Mercia PoliceIt has since been removed, and officials are hopefully in the process of making sure those responsible are on their way back to stacking shelves at Tesco again.

And all this reminds me of a situation about four years ago. I stopped in a field gateway on a country lane near Bunny and observed three or four large bales of what I suddenly realised were Cannabis plants. I phoned the Police, and was told it wasn’t their problem and that I should contact the Council to have them removed. I did that, and after listening through a message that went roughly like this:

So that we can help you best, please choose from one of the following options. For roof repairs press 1, for door painting press 2… [a lot more removed so I don’t bore you to death]… for water discolouration press 27…

I pressed something I’d heard earlier and which sounded closest to what might be needed. The person who answered was like computer AI, but without the “I”, so I just said “oh, f**k it” and hung up.

The bales gradually rotted over the next few months.

Oh, yes. And then a couple of years ago. I was driving along Coventry Lane near Bramcote with a pupil, and a wanker in a pratmobile overtook us at high speed on the opposite side of those pedestrian central refuges – an absolutely illegal action – and almost had a head-on with another car. I reported it to the Police, pointing out I had him on dashcam, with his registration number clearly visible, and that I knew where he probably lived because of where he turned off a little further on. The Police weren’t interested, and basically told me that the dashcam footage wasn’t enough.

The legacy of The Keystone Kops lives on in Britain.

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Trump's Iran announcement2016 saw two of the biggest catastrophes the world has seen in a long time. Brexit, and the election of Donald Trump as POTUS.

There has been a collective movement of denial over Trump. To some of us, he was a f—ing w–nker in 2016, he has remained a f—ing w–nker all the time since 2016, and he has just shown how much of a f—ing w–nker he really is by pulling out of the Iran nuclear deal.

Within minutes of his announcement, Iran said it is going to start enriching uranium again, and Israel has begun bigging itself up ready to go to war with Syria because it reckons Iran is supplying it with arms with which to attack Jerusalem. Russia reckons the action will jeopardise the Korean pact, which means the North will restart its nuclear trials. If Israel attacks any Muslim country, other Muslim countries are likely to join in. Every f—ing lunatic hardcore Islamist who isn’t in Syria will start trying to get at Trump by blowing up whatever country they are currently residing in. And the price of oil is likely to skyrocket. Every civilised country has condemned Trump’s decision.

Britain is in a bit of a cleft stick, because we’re in the middle of trying to spit on Europe, whilst simultaneously being in the middle of shaping up to have Trump’s babies (along with lots of chlorinated chicken) to make up for what we’re about to lose. And thanks to the Brexit effect on the pound – which, in spite of the Brexiter rhetoric a few weeks ago, is now back down the what it was the day after the Referendum versus the dollar – everything is costing more. Fuel prices are already creeping up again (5p in the last three weeks) even before the effects of Trump’s latest folly kick in. In other words, we’re trying to go it alone at what has become the worst imaginable time in which to do so.

I pointed out in 2016 that by leaving the EU we could not foresee what was around the corner, and that a war with someone was possible. Trump has made that even more possible – almost likely.

The problem is that the Iran deal was actually working. It wasn’t perfect, but it was better than what Trump has now condemned the world to. He has pretty much proved what the less civilised countries already believed: that America can’t be trusted.

Ironically, America can be trusted. Just not with Trump as POTUS.

The thought occurs to me that I hope I wake up tomorrow (ambiguity in that comment deliberate).

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The Lake District - How it Should LookOr, how to destroy the environment and get paid loads of money for doing it.

This BBC news article reports on campaigners’ claims that the Lake District National Park Authority (LDNPA) has “violated [the park’s] World Heritage status”.

They cite the dramatic increase in “off-roaders” on motorbikes and 4x4s, who have damaged the landscape. The LDNPA actually encourages morons to come and tear up the countryside.

Let’s not play games here. Absolutely no 4×4 or quadbike/motorbike rider who goes to the Lake District to ride “off-road” – not a single one of them –  gives a flying f*ck about the environment other than how they can turn it into mud every weekend. If they did, they wouldn’t have a 4×4 in the first place, and as for motorbike/quadbike riders… well, there’s more processing power in a mosquito’s genitalia than there is in the typical biker’s head area, and all they want to do is make a noise and send mud flying in the air.

That’s why the comments of Mark Eccles, the alleged leader of LDNPA, are laughable:

We encourage users to behave responsibly on what can be vulnerable tracks to minimise environmental impact and respect other users.

This idiot WANTS off-roaders to come to the Lake District and to “behave responsibly. There’s more chance of a squirrel becoming Pope.

He then says something which is almost the exact opposite:

[It would be] preferable if people did not take vehicles on these routes” [but it is legal].

If he had any balls, he’d stop them or deter them. It would be easy to justify simply on the basis of how much damage they cause. But he is no doubt one of that modern breed of men who have artificially balanced hormones, and for whom “equal opportunities” is the mantra that governs every decision they make. He’s no doubt of a mind that trees have to be cut down to make every corner of the Lake District accessible by wheelchair, and is probably considering painting it pink to try to attract more female visitors. So, in this case, he mustn’t discriminate against monkeys who like things that make a noise and go fast.

For anyone who doesn’t know, The Lake District National Park covers almost 1,000 square miles. And it looks like the photo above when there are no off-roaders around. Once they’ve been and gone, though, it looks like this.

The Lake District - How Off-roaders leave it

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