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You have to laugh! Heard this story on the radio on my way to my first lesson today.

Let’s just do a quick reality check:

  • getting a tattoo is stupid
  • getting a face tattoo is stupider

OK, the first one is just my personal opinion, but Kimberley Vlaminck from Belgium ignored these two simple rules and went to get some stars tattooed on her face. She reckons she only wanted three stars, but fell asleep during the procedure and ended up with 56 of them!

If you look at the picture, does the phrase “saw the result and had second thoughts” spring to mind, or what?

I think this part really gives an insight into what happened:

The trouble all started when she went home and her father and boyfriend threw a fit. They are saying things now like I doped her or hypnotised her. What rubbish. She asked for 56 stars and that’s what she got.

Kimberley Vlaminck - Face TattoosYes, I think “second thoughts” was definitely involved here.

When I was at Uni, there was this bloke – an early Goth-type rocker. He had long black hair, and right in the middle of his forehead – just above his hairline – he’d had a patch about the size of an egg shaved, and in it was a tattoo of a pentagram or something similar.

I mean, can you imagine what he must look like now. His hair will recede above the previous position and he’ll become an old guy with an ugly, stupid faded blue smudge on his head. I doubt he’ll be doing much more than hanging around outside the door of the pub with a pint in his hand at 11.30 in the morning – after all, he’s hardly likely to be a City high-flyer, is he?

Tattoos make a statement: specifically, they state “look at me – I’m a prat.”

It’s not as if they stay clear for very long. I lose count of the number of women I see with tattoos on shoulders, around their upper arms, on their legs which – as the women expand with age – go misshapen and start to fade. With blokes, you just expect this stupidity from some of them… but you’d think women would have more sense.

Oh, and back to Ms Vlaminck. My understanding is that tattoos are painful to get done. They are also drawn carefully by artists, so they take a long time to do. And Ms Vlaminck says she slept through it all? Of course she did…

EDIT 26/3/2012: I get regular hits on this story – more recently, asking what became of Kimberley Vlaminck. According to this story [link no longer correct] she was to have laser surgery – paid for by herself, not someone she’d accused – to remove them last year.

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Someone sent me this story in an email today:

TRUE STORY:

Outside Bristol Zoo there is a car park for 150 cars and 8 coaches.

There also used to be a very pleasant parking attendant at the Bristol Zoo with a ticket machine charging cars £1 and coaches £5.

This parking attendant worked there for all of 25 years, then one day just didn’t turn up for work…

“Ho hum”, said Bristol Zoo Management, “better phone up the City Council and get them to send a new parking attendant.”

“Err no”, said the Council, “that car park is your responsibility…”

“Err no”, said Bristol Zoo Management, “the attendant was employed by the City Council, wasn’t he…?”

“Err NO!”

Sitting in his villa in Spain is a bloke who had been taking daily the car park fees amounting to an estimated £400 per day at Bristol Zoo for the last 25 years.

YES, I’ve done the sums = £3,650,000

Like most of these things, I’m not convinced it is true – but can you imagine getting away with something like this if it was?

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I’m writing this just as a response to various things I’ve heard from other driving instructors.

I posted a few weeks ago about how Vauxhall is feeling the pinch and has decided to stop supplying tuition cars to BSM for free. I must admit that I didn’t know BSM got these cars for free. I do know that BSM instructors can pay a lot of money for their franchise and I simply questioned if this might cause that franchise fee to rise still further.

The news seems to have sent nearly all other instructors totally crazy, though! And I don’t mean BSM instructors.

The common desire seems to be that BSM should collapse and all its instructors ‘be made redundant’ (demonstrating the typical instructor’s total lack of understanding over salaried- and self-employment). One thing I learn from this is that membership of the Human Race isn’t clear cut and fringe membership is possible – how anyone could wish redundancy on their fellow man in these times is beyond me.

Another one is that this should cause BSM to put its lesson prices up. The belief amongst some instructors here seems to be that if BSM puts lesson prices up, other big schools like The AA , Red Driving , and so on will follow. Then, all the hapless instructors who are currently charging silly prices to try and steal work away from everyone else will be able to put their prices up as well (no doubt to a level which still undercuts the big schools so they can continue to try and steal work away).

Also heard more than once is an attitude to learning that BSM got the cars for free that is so strong your ears nearly catch fire. "How dare BSM get its fleet for free!" is what it amounts to – and this from people who aren’t franchised to BSM and have no business poking their noses in like that. How BSM gets its cars is BSM ‘s business. They don’t come and tell these people how to run their businesses, so what gives them the right to try and tell BSM how to run theirs?

The overriding attitude is one of glee. The world is getting more and more full with very sad and very malicious people, I’m afraid.

Being serious and objective for a moment… it will be interesting to see how BSM resolves this. If you think about it, it would be surprising if any large national school actually paid for its fleet – an agreement with a manufacturer is more likely because they get the major advertising and the school gets the cars. Yes, it’s a pain that the individual man in the street can’t get the same deal, but at corporate level strange things can and do happen. Vauxhall is quite likely to end up closing plants and making redundancies, so giving away a couple of thousand cars that can only be sold on for perhaps half their value is an expense it has to address first. Hopefully, BSM will resolve the issue from its own side and source its cars from elsewhere without having to charge its franchisees any more money – I was told by an instructor it is in talks with FIAT, but I cannot confirm this. I have no affiliation with BSM , by the way, but I do not want to see it fall.

Just to add that this post is starting to get a few hits and I suspect (judging by the search terms used) it is from BSM franchisees worried about what is happening. This is just my opinion, but it is also a realistic summary of the situation as it stands based on available information…

BSM is in talks with Vauxhall to come to an agreement over the deal. It may end up having to pay for the cars it previously got for nothing. It may be that Vauxhall and BSM part company. I heard a rumour that BSM was talking to FIAT, but I have seen nothing written about this anywhere. The only official information at this time is that Times story.

If you’re a BSM instructor, don’t worry. Something will happen and there’s no way Aviva is going to just close down the driving school. The BSM franchise is already easily the most expensive out there and no one in their right minds is going to ask you to pay more. BSM’s driving school is too successful to let fail.

Ignore the stupid and malicious rumours you keep seeing and hearing. Just wait and see what happens.

*** Click Here! BSM and FIAT sign deal (23/07/2009)***

EDIT 13/10/2010: And note the latest change here, as BSM decides to switch back to Vauxhall and Corsas.

EDIT 28/6/2012: And don’t forget that BSM is now run by The AA.

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