A Driving Instructor's Blog

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Christmas CardIt suddenly occurred to me today that Christmas is only about six weeks away. Come to think of it, I always realise this late every year without fail. And about now, I’d be buying my Christmas cards from Asda – and I’m thinking like last year, with just walking in and browsing as I usually do.

This year, doing that among the nutjobs who are intent on spreading COVID as a result of their low IQs is a definite no-no, so it’s Amazon this time around. And I was surprised at what they had on offer. There’s even some pop-up ones, and I’ve never seen those in Asda before!

I read today that the guy who bought HMV out last year has said:

Look, the reality is – and obviously this didn’t happen – but if Amazon and the governments of the world sat down together and came up with a plan to give Amazon the best possible advantage, this would have been it…

He’s darned right. But although I sympathise with him and all high street stores, the reality of the situation simply cannot be denied.

I’ve never had any major issues buying from Amazon or anywhere else online. I buy what I want at the price I want, and if that means online – from Amazon or anyone else – then so be it. In the vast majority of cases, it is it. Better range, fast delivery (often less than 24 hours with Amazon if you order first thing), and better prices for many items (though not groceries, I admit).

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DIY hand sanitizer ingredientsAs people will no doubt have found out, those members of our society who don’t wash their hands even after they’ve had a shit have been resolutely buying crates of hand sanitizer and thus preventing those of us for whom it might have some benefit getting any of it. In some cases, they’re selling it on eBay for stupid prices.

It’s actually quite easy to make your own. For hand sanitizer to sanitize, it needs to contain at least 60% alcohol. Vodka has been touted across the internet as a suitable makeshift option, but normal vodka is only about 40% alcohol, and it simply doesn’t work. You can get some spirits which are 96% alcohol (which people have died from by drinking it neat), but anyone who is stupid enough to pay how much they cost in the first place puts themselves on this year’s list of Darwin Awards candidates immediately. It would be cheaper to pay the extortionate prices for a faeces-covered rip-off on eBay, being sold by ‘stevethetwat99’ in Manchester (made up name, by the way).

You can use ethanol or isopropyl alcohol (IPA) as your sanitizer base. IPA is often also called ‘rubbing alcohol’, though the great unwashed appear to have latched on to it and have cleared out most stocks of that.

I use ethanol – to be specific, bioethanol – which is used as a fuel for stoves and such. I always have a supply because it’s what I use in my homemade screen wash as the antifreeze element.

You need the following:

  • a suitable plastic bottle
  • bioethanol or neat IPA
  • Aloe Vera Gel
  • Tea Tree Oil
  • Lavender Oil

I used a 250ml plastic bottle with a flip-top lid intended for hand creams (don’t ask why I have any of these in the first place).

Calibrate the bottle first. Pour in exactly 175mls (or grammes) of water. Mark the level with a felt-tip pen. Now add another 75mls (or 75 grammes) of water and mark that level, too. Empty the water away and shake any drips out.

Now you can make the sanitizer. Fill the bottle to the first mark with your alcohol. Then fill it to the second mark with Aloe Vera Gel. Add a few drops of the two oils (up to 10-15 of each, though neither is essential, and you can use anything you like the smell of as long as it’s only a few drops), then screw on the lid and shake well. It takes a while for the gel to disperse, but once it has your sanitizer is ready to use. This version contains 70% by volume of alcohol.

Be careful if you buy ‘rubbing alcohol’ as it is often already diluted to 70% and adding anything else will stop it sanitizing properly. It’s best to buy neat IPA, which is usually freely available as a cleaner.

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Secret firewood safeThere’s a website called Instructables, where people provide step-by-step details for building various things. I came across it a couple of years ago when I was searching for a circuit diagram for something I was building using a Raspberry Pi.

A lot of the stuff on it is extremely… well, let’s say ‘niche’. I mean, I’m sure there is a lot of demand for a Celtic Knot Rolling Pin, a Rubber Band Wallet (made using a 3D printer), or a multitude of tacky-looking lamps and pendants. But I’m equally sure that there is a lot of demand to quickly recapture the people involved and get them safely back inside their padded cells.

This one arrived in my inbox this morning. Someone has created a clever concealed safe that looks like a piece of firewood.

Actually, ‘secret safes’ that look like other things is a very popular area on Instructables. Ones that look like books are common. Then there’s an ‘underground secret safe’ (aka buried jar), one concealed in a speaker, one in a torch, ones in aerosol cans, ones gouged into wooden drawers and ‘hidden’ by a sticker, one in a jar of mayonnaise, another in a tin of soup… and it goes on. In almost all cases, the act of creating the ‘safe’ destroys the item being used as the disguise and prevents it from fulfilling its original purpose.

Probably about one Instructable in a thousand is actually something you might need, and of those, many are extremely complex. The rest are submitted by kids.

The firewood safe is certainly slightly clever in terms of the craftsmanship, but I can’t help wondering if anyone in their right mind would risk putting large sums of money or valuable items in something which looks like firewood, is stored on a stack of firewood, and is located right next to a fire which utilises said stack of firewood.

It certainly redefines the word ‘safe’.

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I’m a carer for my elderly parents. On Thursday, I got up and told my 90-year old dad that I wasn’t doing anymore lessons so I didn’t have to come into contact with people, and the first thing he says is: ‘can you take me to Wickes, then?’

I said ‘what? No, I’m not’, and he almost fell out with me. He sulked for a while, and wouldn’t tell me what he wanted.

I said ‘dad, whatever it is I can order it online, then we won’t have to go out’. He still wouldn’t tell me.

Fast forward two days, and I again started trying to explain to him what ‘social distancing’ meant, and what it was for. I explained that if 100 people meet in a room, and one of them is infected, all 100 could walk out infected, and that’s how the virus could spread. I think I have finally got it through to him that he’s going to have to stop going to the Birds bakery for the very specific (and very small) loaf he insists on eating every day, and that I can buy a packed loaf in the weekly shop that he will have to get used to while we’re in this mess.

I then asked again what it was he wanted from Wickes: ‘a roll of roofing felt’!

A few weeks ago, during the storms, the roof of our shed started flapping because the felt had torn. I went ballistic, and said ‘dad, you’re not climbing on that roof. If you do, I’ll get my air pistol and f***ing shoot you down!’ I stress once more, he is 90 years old, has macular degeneration and cannot see, and COPD, so even taking a shower is a major struggle.

He almost fell out with me again, but I think I have persuaded him – and now I’m not working I can keep my eyes on him, because he’s a lying old git and probably still has every intention of trying it if he gets the chance.

On the plus side, a local roofer is going to get some much needed work, as getting it done professionally has just become my top priority in order to avert impending disaster.

As an aside, about five years ago I came home from lessons and he was on his bed upstairs covered in blood and cuts (he’s on blood-thinning medication). He’d been trimming the hedge at the bottom of the garden and fallen off the ridiculously unstable plank between two small step ladders he’d rigged up, and into the bushes. When I brought it up in the conversation today, he said ‘I didn’t fall off – I just missed my footing when the short plank…’

I interjected at this point ‘’…which you’re as thick as two of’.

Talk about stress.

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A lot of people are finding this article based on the search term “UKCPS scam”. It was first published in 2013 and it sees regular spikes in visitor traffic. I saw a surge at Christmas 2018, and now there’s one in 2019, which doesn’t come as much of a surprise – UKCPS are vultures.


After seeing this story in the newsfeeds I thought I’d mention something that happened to me in late 2013. In fact, I mentioned it in this article back in January of 2014, but there’s a bit of a follow up.Leeds Arena

In December 2013, I went to see Status Quo at the new Leeds Arena. I picked up my mate (let’s call him Bob) from his house just outside Leeds and we drove into the City Centre. Bob directed me to the Edward Street car park not far away from the Arena and we parked there. This car park has ANPR cameras that detect your registration number as you drive in, and you have to enter your registration into the ticket machine – if it doesn’t match what the ANPR system picked up you apparently don’t get a ticket. I paid using my debit card (which turned out to be a wise move). There was only one price available at the time from the machine – the £8.50 overnight charge – in spite of a list of hourly tariffs being shown on signs. We arrived at shortly before 6pm and drove out at just after 11pm, where ANPR cameras apparently once again log your exit.

As we walked to the Arena, Bob told me that a few weeks earlier his wife (let’s call her Sarah) had been Christmas shopping and parked in that same car park. A few days later she was stung with a fine for “insufficient fee paid”. Now, Sarah isn’t the kind of person to take things lying down, and in any case she’d kept the receipts proving that she had paid the correct amount. She kicked up a stink and they dropped the charge. It was normal chit-chat, and I didn’t think much of it after that.

I lease my school car and the arrangement is that any traffic fines are automatically paid by the lease agent (most lease companies operate this way, I believe) if an infringement is submitted to them. This avoids the fine escalation if you don’t pay within 14 days. Anyway, in January I got a letter from my lease company informing me that they had paid a fine submitted by UKCPS (United Kingdom Car Parking Solutions). I was spitting feathers (this is another one of the things that can create stress in this job) because I hadn’t done anything wrong.

I immediately wrote an appeal to UKCPS. I also wrote to Leeds City Council, because I didn’t realise at the time that the car park in question was a private one, but all this did was teach me what a bunch of dickheads work there. The Council told me it wasn’t their problem (it seems Leeds has a similar bunch of morons in charge that Nottingham does). I pointed out in my letter to UKCPS that they KNEW I had entered the car park, they KNEW I had left it, and they KNEW how much I had paid. Furthermore, since I’d paid by debit card, my bank statement was proof of how much I’d paid. There was no reply after 20 days. I wrote a further harshly-worded letter demanding a response from them within 14 days, which was not forthcoming. I then phoned them on the number that says not to use it for claims, and they said immediately that they’d refund it. I never had to provide proof of the amount I’d paid, and I eventually got my money back in February.

I stress again that UKCPS KNEW I had paid the right amount. Their ANPR system and ticket machine would tell them that clearly. And they asked for no proof when I phoned them, which suggests they were well aware of enough information – either from my letters that they’d ignored, or via said systems – to immediately admit they were wrong. So it doesn’t take a genius to work out what they were up to, particularly when you consider they’d tried the exact same thing with Bob’s wife. I’m updating this at Christmas 2018, which is further evidence: they try this same scam every year.

In fact, if you Google “UKCPS insufficient fee” – which I did when I appealed – you find that the same scam has been pulled on hundreds, if not thousands, of other innocent members of the public. Take a look at this single link – particularly the reviews on the left hand side, where 16 out of 17 reviewers have had the same scam pulled on them and most appear to have coughed up! The hits that Google throws up are mainly the ones where people have actually tried to do something about it. It’s anyone’s guess how many others have blindly paid up thinking they made a mistake. UKCPS is cashing in on the fact that it knows a significant number of people won’t appeal. So they’re either scam artists, or are so incompetent that they make a lot of “mistakes”.

UKCPS are the sort of vermin who, until the Law changed making it illegal, would have happily clamped everyone who parked in their car park. The Law now needs to change to put these thieving parasites out of business for good. You will note that their (crap and amateurish) website graphics imply that they manage car parking for Tesco, Harveys, and Boots, since these are featured.

And Leeds City Council needs a good slap to remind it that it cannot just shake off all responsibility for cowboy operators in their City.


More recently (mid-2016) I had a run of hits on this story. I did a bit more reading and it would appear that UKCPS is becoming less likely to accept an appeal on the first contact. Perhaps their owner – who is still not behind bars where he belongs, based on the false charges his scumbag company has brought against innocent people – is worried that his profits are not increasing as much as he’d like, so he’s ordered the parasites who work for him to put up a defence.

Don’t be put off. UKCPS’ false charge scheme IS a scam, sanctioned by the city councils who allow UKCPS to operate within their boundaries.

If you know you were not guilty, don’t pay – and argue like mad. Often, and hard. Just don’t ignore the charge notice.


Is UKCPS a scam parking operator?

Well, me and my mate’s wife have direct experience of the kind of things they get up to. But take a look at these links:

These are a tiny sample. Try Googling for “UKCPS parking scam” or “UKCPS Ltd parking ticket” and see what you get. There are hundreds and hundreds of people like you who these cretins are trying to intimidate (including disabled people parking in disabled bays that these gutter trash operate). That Responsive link sums it up nicely by pointing out that UKCPS usually backs down at the first appeal – and that’s because they know that they can make money from those who don’t appeal. You don’t need to be a genius to work out if it’s a scam or not.

Are UKCPS fines legitimate?

There is no straight answer to this. In my opinion, they are not – and that explains why anyone appealing to UKCPS, and making sure the appeal is heard (i.e. don’t let them just ignore you) appears to get the fine refunded or overturned rather easily.

UKCPS are scammers, that’s for sure. They seem to operate on the principle that if they issue 100 bogus fines, only a small minority of people are likely to complain and see the complaint through. Even if only one person out of that hundred didn’t appeal, they’re making money. But I suspect that more like 80% of people simply pay up and leave it at that.

If someone ever had the desire and the money to take them to court, I think we’d find out rather quickly just how legitimate these cowboys are.

Should I just ignore the fine?

No, don’t do that. By all means, withhold payment while you contest it, but don’t just ignore it. These scammers walk a very fine line between being legal and illegal, and they know full well what they’re doing. If you ignore it, they’ll likely pass it over to debt collectors, and the amount you owe will go up by hundreds of pounds (you must have seen the Bailiffs programmes on TV).

Just fight the putrid parasites on their own terms.

Is UKCPS a legitimate company?

Unfortunately, yes. There is a big question mark over the legality of their business practices, however. There is a also a big question mark over the role of councils such as Leeds City Council, who are effectively authorising this illegal behaviour – presumably because UKCPS pays them money in order to keep operating. The list of scumbags directors who operate UKCPS are given as:

  • Ms Helen Claire Hilton
  • Ms Lorraine Doyle
  • Mr Gary Deegan (twice)
  • Mr Michael Bullock

I had a look at this list again in 2019 and it seems that apart from Deegan, all the others resigned some time ago. So UKCPS is apparently a one-man scumbag outfit now.

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Christmas alreadyBut, by God, it hangs around for a long time.

It’s 16 October. The trees are only just turning yellow. The clocks don’t go back for another few weeks. Bonfire night is still a way off. And I just saw (last night) the first Christmas advert on TV. In the last week, I saw my first Christmas tree in someone’s front room while I was on a lesson. And I’m pretty damned sure that the lights in someone’s window and outside their house when I picked my pupil up for her lesson tonight were Christmas lights.

People are idiots.

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One million visitorsFinally got there!

The blog received its 1,000,000th visitor earlier this evening.

I started it in November 2008 and got 7 visitors that month. December of that year saw 28, but by May 2009 we were into the thousands. The trend has been upwards ever since, and the blog currently gets around 20,000 visits a month.

Free Vector Graphics by www.Vecteezy.com

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Dumped baby rabbitSomeone dumped a baby rabbit in Bestwood. Its mother died, but it was rescued. It’s the cutest little thing.

Knowing Bestwood and its denizens, I’m surprised they dumped the rabbit. Most of them would have eaten it – and the box it was in, as well.

And I promise to stop posting this sort of cutesy stuff. If I’m not careful, I’ll be posting blurred selfies of me with a trout-pout.

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