A Driving Instructor's Blog

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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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The wrong sort of cream teaBefore Christmas I wrote about the most annoying ad in the world (at the moment) – the TUI ad, which is still on Sky One every ten bloody minutes.

It’s so annoying that I would never book a holiday with TUI, just on principle, and I switch the sound off or change channels as soon as it comes on. Of course, in the future – around 2030 or so – I might feel differently about booking a holiday through them, though right now they have no chance. But after all is said and done, it is just… annoying. Really, really annoying. But still just annoying.

However, some people are nutcases. Especially if they are Cornish, it would seem.

The BBC has this story about a Mother’s Day advert produced by the National Trust for “cream teas”. For anyone who doesn’t know, a cream tea is a peculiarly British thing, defined as:

…a meal taken in the afternoon consisting of tea to drink with scones, jam, and cream

This definition doesn’t do it justice, though. It is a ritual, and is only a proper cream tea if the tea is served in annoyingly small china teacups and – I wouldn’t be surprised to learn – stirred using spoons with a strict length and chemical composition. The reason I wouldn’t be surprised to learn that is that it seems the order in which the jam and cream (clotted cream, actually) are placed on the scone is also rigidly defined. At least in the minds of the aforementioned nutcases.

The picture at the top of this post is what has called all the fuss. Although I have never stooped so low as to have a cream tea because of the “ritualness” of it, it does look rather appetising. The picture below – a proper cream tea, allegedly – doesn’t.

The correct sort of cream teaAnd yet National Trust members (the secret wing of the Brexit campaign, I suspect, if you go on age) are threatening to cancel their memberships as a result of the ad. Some reckon it “makes them feel sick”. All it is is a bloody cake with jam and cream, and the order doesn’t make it taste any different anymore than a ham salad sandwich tastes different if you put the lettuce and tomatoes on in reverse order.

The Trust’s Visitor Experience manager is playing with fire when he makes light of the situation – some of those morons are serious.

Another ad (well, series of ads) which is shining a light on the average IQ of the typical Briton is the Nationwide one, featuring Flo and Joan.

Flo and Joan – played by Nicola and Rosie Dempsey – sing typical advert songs in front of a home keyboard. I suppose I should be annoyed by this one, too, but for some reason I can’t put my finger on I’m not. I’ve not listened to the words, and I’m neither driven towards or away from opening an account with Nationwide. But there’s just something about Flo and Joan that is… OK.

That’s not true for the nutcases, though. People have issued death threats to Nicola and Rosie, and these are deemed serious enough to have involved the police. Looking at some of the samples, it’s hard to believe they are deadly serious, but they overstep the mark enough to make you wonder.

Disliking something – even being intensely annoyed about it – is one thing. But to go so far as to cancel membership of an organisation which does good work or to issue threats of violence over something so trivial just doesn’t make sense.

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Yesterday, during the worst of the snow, the media were falling over themselves to show inane video footage sent in by the public of cats in the snow, dogs in the snow, birds in the snow, snow drifts, cars covered in snow, snow on runways, snow being shovelled off runways, fields covered in snow, people playing in the snow, gritters gritting the snow, traffic and gritters stuck in the snow, and so on.

One video recorded on someone’s dashcam showed a bus veering to avoid a car. It was funny at the time just because of the audio of the van driver of the recording vehicle.

Today, though, the BBC is falling over itself since it has discovered that the bus driver was… a woman! There’s no mention, yet, of who (or what) the driver of the car which veered into the path of the bus was.

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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.

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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”

Confused?

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