A Driving Instructor's Blog

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Looking at my stats and yesterday the number of hits went through the roof. Amazing how many people were searching for ‘Linda Kingdon ‘ (and one or two for the school’s – sorry, the ‘place for learning’s’ - name).

She’s the one I wrote about recently who has banned the use of the word ‘school’ to describe her, er, school.

I wonder if it’s because she and her teachers – ooops! I mean, ‘people who convey knowledge’ – have been boosting their egos by seeing what a commotion they’ve caused…?

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And as you can imagine, there is a huge, angry outcry from breastfeeding mothers – even though it’s worth bearing in mind that Facebook and MySpace have already banned such images.

I think we need to clarify a couple of things here… the only people who want breastfeeding forced on the general public are:

  1. Sad women whose brains have turned to jelly because of the hormones involved in dropping a sprog
  2. Middle-aged hippies trying to be Earth Mothers
  3. Perverts

Get it into your stupid skulls: it was you who had the kid, not the rest of us. We’re not interested in the same things you are – the contents of nappies are not fascinating to us (especially when we’re trying to eat a Big Mac Meal in peace), neither are photos of your kids covered in food or other substances. In fact, your kids are pug ugly – don’t tempt us to tell you directly, because you won’t like it if we do.

Those Damned Kiddie Trailers

Even if we find the filthy things our kids do even remotely interesting, that interest doesn’t extend to the disgusting things yours do. And the same goes for breastfeeding.

Keep your blue-veined saggies for the bedroom – or at least the privacy of your own home. If we’re in a restaurant having a meal (including McDonalds), it really doesn’t do anything for us when we can see some ugly, middle-aged hippy-chick at the next table breastfeeding her sprog.

And another thing: don’t leave your stupid bike with the kiddie-trailer on it so close to the door in future – other people want to get in and out, too. If I crack my shin on it again it’s going straight over the hedge and into the road!

EDIT: If YouTube changes its mind at any time, someone let me know so I can make a note here. I certainly won’t be keeping an eye on the issue myself.

EDIT: Someone recently searched for “youtube big breastfeeding.com”. Get a life, pervert.

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Being out and about I’ve noticed that some people – a surprisingly large number, in fact – have had Christmas decorations up since November. Pretty sad, really.

Appreciation of aesthetics is not one of the strong points of people who go for early Christmas decorations. They seem to be of the mind that if half a dozen lights look nice, then several thousand will be absolutely stunning. They’re right – but it all depends on what you mean by ‘stunning’.

Thinking about last year, one house not far from me had a Santa on skis crashed on to the roof, another Santa with skis splatted to the bedroom window, a Santa with a sack on a rope ladder hanging off the drainpipe, another Santa hanging from the windowsill… there were probably more. I lost count.

Already – and since November – there are houses with those preformed lights stuck all over the front: Santa on a sleigh, various reindeers, hot air balloon (never understood that one), a train (that one, neither), fir trees, dangly icicles (many of which have been hanging off the roof since last year), spirals wound around trees in the garden… the list goes on.

I don’t know if you ever watched that film with Dan Aykroyd – Coneheads. There’s one scene where Mr Conehead takes a photo of his daughter going out to the prom with a human date. He has this huge camera flash with a metal grid across the front. When it goes off you see the human with his hair all singed and blasted back, and the grid pattern burned into his reddened face. Well, there are a couple of streets around here where you really would be advised to wear sunblock if you walk down there at night. ‘Tacky’ doesn’t even come close to describing it.

Listening to the radio today it was part-entertaining and part-sad to hear the presenters trying to turn every single comment into a Christmassy one. It’s only 4 December – we have 3 weeks to go! I’ve heard Slade’s Merry Christmas Everybody (link removed as it is now broken) about a hundred times in the last three days, and Wizzard’s I Wish It Could Be Christmas Everyday (link removed as it is now broken) is a close second.

I’m now waiting to see my first ‘idiot wearing a Santa hat’.

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Heard on the radio that the M1 has been closed today (12th November, 2008) with major diversions since around 8.30 this morning in Leicestershire due to an accident. In addition, there has been another serious accident in the queue of traffic caught up in the jams resulting from the first. Police are having to carry out ‘accident investigation work’, which means the road will be affected for a while to come.

And to top that off, there’s now another accident on the southbound M1 in Nottinghamshire.

Up until now I was wondering about accidents (and breakdowns). You can set your watch by them: you get one accident and one breakdown every day on an important road into and out of the city. In the morning, it will always be on the busiest carriageway. In the evening it’ll be the other one, which is now busiest. If there are roadworks, the breakdown or accident is bound to be right in the middle where there’s no hard shoulder.

I could understand it if there were lots of accidents or breakdowns all day. Or if they occurred everywhere. And the frequency of daily accidents suggests that there should be a lot throughout the day. But there are aren’t. Accidents (and breakdowns) are carefully designed to cause maximum disruption at the most incovenient times, and in the most inconvenient places.

I blame it on a Government Conspiracy!

Edit: After a post made on 12 December 2008 I checked back and, believe it or not, today (the day this original post was published) was as near-as-dammit a full moon! I’m getting more convinced that lower primates are affected by the phases of the moon and – when they also carry a driving licence – mayhem can ensue.

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When you do a lot of driving you listen to the radio for traffic news. But I wish I knew who it was who comes up with some of those adverts!

They’re mostly just stupid, but every now and then you get one that is just so annoying you want to scream.

A couple of years ago – around Christmas – there was one which had children and babies coughing to the tune of Jingle Bells, or We Wish You A Merry Christmas, or something like that. Nasty, wet, catarrhy coughs advertising some childrens’ cough syrup.

Then there is anything to do with Kelloggs Crunchy Nut Cornflakes. Listening to and watching actors big up the basic function of eating is annoying at the best of times (even Del-boy, Rodney, or Uncle Albert eating in one of the best and funniest UK sitcoms ever – Only Fools And Horses – is bad), but when you just have to listen… aaargh! Those Kelloggs ads are infuriating – just an excuse to have actors hamming it up by talking with their exaggerated mouths full. You can just imagine the milk running down their chins (and don’t get me started on TV adverts which involve children eating).

One of the latest ones is some idiotic ad for Volkswagen which has the actor mooing loudly (in a kind of accelerating car-kind of way). God only knows what the point is, or what car they’re advertising (because I don’t let it get anywhere near telling me before I turn off or change channels). This follows hot on the heels of a recent safety ad for motorbikes where the actor is saying ‘one-two-three-four’ in a similar way. It hurts your bloody ears. Like I say, the radio goes straight off when one of these comes on.

There’s another current one about tax credits and how to claim money if you earn less than a certain amount. They have this telephone conversation between the agent and a client, with the agent asking three basic questions: ‘Do you work more than 30 hours a week, are you 25 or over, and do you earn less than £17,000 a year’. The client is 26, works over 30 hours (with a snigger), and earns £9,000 (what a loser). The agent then tells him ‘it’s just what you’re entitled to’ – pronouncing the word ‘entitled’ as ‘en-ti-tooled’. Aaargh again!

And there’s a new one today – it’s just telling you about changes to the education system: a few paragraphs of information. Sounds simple, doesn’t it? Except that the advertising genius responsible has used about 50 different people to say a few words each, and since all the voices are different – obviously to try and encompass ‘yoof culture’ in its entirety – you can’t focus on what is being said. Listening to it is like getting cramp in your brain.

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Well, today started off as a typical Sunday. I was travelling to my first lesson and for some reason this vest-clad, tattooed zombie in a red Kia people carrier (LC04 CEN) decided he was going to tailgate me – and I couldn’t see his headlights in my rearview mirror, so that shows how close he was. This went on for about a mile and half until he turned off into a side street.

Picked up my pupil, and as we got out on to the Ring Road – about 30 metres before a left turn off – a red people carrier cuts across us from the right lane and takes the exit road. Guess who it was? That’s right, zombie man in his red Kia (LC04 CEN), and he then tailgated the car in front of him until he passed out of our view. I’m pretty sure he had kids in the back – they probably won’t reach adulthood with this bloke as their father, and certainly won’t stay there with him as a role model.

Later, I was dropping off a new pupil with no previous experience outside his house. The pupil waited until it was clear and then got out of the driver’s seat. As I went round the back of the car he held the door open for me. I saw a car coming and said: ‘No, close it. I’ll get it when it’s clear’. However, the blue car – a prat-mobile with a fin on the back, not sure what model – coming up the hill (VN02 VEP) was being driven by a sour-faced weasel-woman and I think we made her Sunday by giving her the opportunity to sound her horn from 20 car lengths back. I doubt she is familiar with the concept of the brake pedal (or even gravity, seeing as she was going uphill). After I had driven off she was at the end of the road and – typical of her kind – had pulled out into the middle of the main road to block people coming one way so she could go the other. I passed this classy piece at the next set of lights.

And finally, having dropped off my last pupil I was coming around a roundabout in the left lane so that I’d be correctly in the left turn-only lane on the exit (intending to turn left at the next set of lights). There were three cars in front of me, and none at all behind except for a black soft-top Audi A4 (FM05 MSX), being driven by one of those women who, from their appearance, is probably a shop supervisor and has gone into massive debt to get their ‘dream car’ so she can pretend to be something else. I was doing 30mph. The speed limit was 30mph. I was about four car lengths behind the car in front. She made it up to about 40 in the wrong lane so she could cut in front and so forced me to slow down. The best part was that she waved as if to say ‘thanks’. This sort of behaviour – where there is no benefit to breaking the law – really annoys me.

In my time as a driving instructor I think I can safely say that Audi drivers are amongst the worst I encounter. They can never stay behind, and speed limits mean nothing to them.

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In the UK we have a road sign which warns you you’re near a rest home or other area where you might encounter elderly or infirm pedestrians (shown here).

Old or Infirm People road sign

Old or Infirm People road sign

According to a story in the press this week (various newspapers, but full story in the Daily Mail) campaigners are demanding for it to be scrapped because it is ‘insulting to today’s fitter, healthier senior citizens’. They’re saying that it should be replaced with traffic calming measures (it often is) or a new image which is more politically correct.

Help The Aged senior policy officer Lizzy McLennan (26) says: “Very few older people are hunched over, with a walking stick.

“They are assuming everyone who is old looks like that, and they don’t.”

Erm, no Lizzy. They’re not doing that, nor have they ever done so (and at your age you probably wouldn’t know that). What they are doing is warning you that you might encounter infirm people.

Gordon Lishman (no age given), director-general of Age Concern says:

“The motivation behind these signs is positive.

“However, in practice a reduced speed limit in such areas, as implemented in school districts, would be a more welcome way to achieve this.”

Hold on, Gordon. Don’t get carried away. School districts also have a road sign irrespective of whether or not they have traffic calming measures. Haven’t you seen this one? And while we’re on the subject, do children actually look like that nowadays?

Barry Earnshaw (65), chief executive of Age Concern Lincoln says:

“I am 65, so therefore I am considered an elderly person.

“The sign doesn’t represent older people as they are today.

“There should be a generic sign that is representative of all vulnerable pedestrians, regardless of age.

“The objective is to make people slow down – there needn’t be separate signs for sifferent types of pedestrians. It is very outdated.”

Of course it is, Barry. I’m sure your ‘generic sign’ – perhaps a smiley face or something – would be really useful outside schools, stables, and hospitals and would prevent a great many injuries and deaths. But what on earth would be the point of putting up a warning sign at all if senior citizens nowadays are all fit, athletic, superheroes? It must just be my imagination that they’re building so many care homes and ‘retirement villages’ around the country.

At least some people haven’t succumbed to senility just yet. The Taxpayers’ Alliance said the objections were ridiculous and a waste of public money. Campaign director Mark Wallace said:

“They should pay more attention to the real concerns of older people – rising taxes and soaring household bills.”

Problem is, Mark, the ones kicking up the stink probably don’t have to worry about those things. That’s why they have so much free time on their hands to come up with ridiculous stuff like this. Whatever happened to eating ice cream on the benches in shopping centres and trying to get on the bus 10 minutes before their bus passes become valid?

Waterfowl warning sign

Waterfowl warning sign

But the best response has to be the one that came from the Highways Agency. A spokesman said they would not be making further alterations.

“To change every sign in the country would cost taxpayers hundreds of thousands of pounds – and a change in the law.

“It’s not a simple process, and I don’t think most people would see it as a high priority for government spending.”

Quite. But while we’re on the subject I think the RSPB ought to start a campaign as a result of that highly offensive sign warning of waterfowl. Every duck and moorhen in the country should be compensated for the gross insult that sign has delivered concerning their appearance.

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