Diary Of An ADI

A Driving Instructor's Blog

Father TimeAll other news has stopped these last two days because of the motor accident involving Prince Philip near Sandringham. Apparently, he’s already back behind the wheel.

The last line in that article made me smile.

Chris Spinks, who led Norfolk’s roads policing team for five years, said the royal would not be shown any “favouritism” in the investigation.

It’s too late, Chris. He already has been if he’s back driving again already. If it had been any other 97-year old who had hit the wrong pedal because of being dazzled by the sun, they’d probably have had their licence confiscated on the spot. And if they’d have driven into a Royal vehicle, they’d still be in the cells helping with enquiries. And at that age, they’d be unlikely to get their licence back without so much hassle that it would be simpler to just forget it.

Age is both a progressive and a relative thing. We’re all affected by it as our lives progress, but some people more so (and more quickly) than others.

On the one hand, age should not be seen as a barrier against learning to drive. It should not be seen as a direct barrier to carrying on driving well into your old age (however that might be defined). However, there comes a point where you – as an individual – have moved as far along the timeline as you can without becoming a serious risk. As I said above, some people get there quicker – and earlier – than others. Getting the pedals mixed up – along with not being able to see very well – is most definitely the point where Father Time is telling you you should stop.

I would bet money that Prince Philip has never got the pedals mixed up before. But he’s 97 – and he has now.

Fortunately, no one was killed or seriously injured.


It gets better. If a normal motorist was observed not wearing a seatbelt, the police would go nuts over it (they have done, before). It’s a good job the Duke is not getting “favourable” treatment, isn’t it?

Share

Donald Tusk TweetI’ve been saying this since 24 June 2016, but Donald Tusk has uttered the words that our own government is too stupid to work out for itself.

If a deal is impossible, and no one wants no deal, then who will finally have the courage to say what the only positive solution is?

Brexit needs stopping NOW. It should never have been allowed to get this far, because the morons who voted for it have had time to harden what little minds they have in expecting it to go through – no matter what the cost. The only options remaining are national suicide, or nullify the referendum result and do the right thing. Stay.

Nicola Sturgeon has also said something which fits neatly with that:

We have reached the point now where it would be unconscionable to kick the can any further down the road.

It should never have been kicked so far. The country was always going to lose in any exit from the EU, and every day since 23 June 2016 has raised negative after negative. The only positives – if you can call them that – have been nationalist fantasies based on the premise that we’re British and everything will be OK. It won’t be “OK”. And doing the right – and obvious – thing now means that the perceived loss to those people who have difficulty walking and chewing gum at the same time will be that much greater, since they’ve been given false hope for over two years.

Leaving the EU has revealed that it will be a catastrophic on all fronts. It needs to be stopped.

Share

Paul Hogan barbecuing shrimpIs it just me, or does every Australian cookery programme revolve around barbecuing 2-foot long shrimps and an octopus in front of Sydney Harbour?

I’m watching the cookery channel and they’ve got an Australian Day. Every bloody programme it’s the giant shrimps and cephalopods. And Sydney Harbour.

If you want even one shrimp that size over here you need to re-mortgage your house.

Share

William Merritt Centre website

This is a sponsored article on behalf of Kate McKinlay.

https://www.wmdlc.org/

Seven years ago I changed my life for the better and qualified as a Driving Instructor and have never looked back.

To say I am passionate about my job is an understatement. My friends and family regularly have to tell me (in the nicest possible way) to shut up, as once I start talking about my job I become very animated and focused.

To be able to give someone a new life skill is a privilege and I relish finding new ways to help a client learn to drive.

It is a skill that most of us take for granted and that at some stage we will learn to drive and then depend on that skill to keep us independent into our old age.

Within my first two of years as an ADI, I found that while teaching people to drive was very satisfying, I got the most out of coaching people who suffer with high levels of anxiety and depression.

Every lesson for them is like climbing Mount Everest and they constantly need reminding of the great freedom it will give them, once they achieve their goal.

With each client I took on with this problem, I had to learn a lot about their everyday life and the problems they faced. This meant often meant that I was an agony aunt, councillor or general sounding board. I never once felt that this was a burden, as it gave me the chance to build a good relationship with them, which in turn meant they trusted me and I was able to help them much more effectively.

In most cases, patience and understanding of their worries was paramount in teaching them to drive, but the reward in seeing them achieve their goal was immeasurable.

About 18 months ago, the Driving Instructors Association, that I am a member of, was invited along to The William Merritt Disabled Living Centre, where they do driving assessments to not only assess a person’s ability to drive safely, but

Advise on the correct adaptations to enable a disabled person to drive.  I jumped at the chance to see if there was a new challenge for me and 18 months down the line I am now doing 3 days a week doing driving assessments.

Assessing someone, to see if their medical condition is impacting on their ability to drive safely is often very challenging and I must admit to having a few hairy moments, but it certainly keeps you on the ball and each case has its unique challenges.

Driving assessments, are sadly on the increase, due to an ageing population and all the infirmities that go with it, but where ever possible we want to keep people mobile and independent for as long as possible.

Assessing if someone’s illness is affecting their driving, is very different from teaching someone to drive. I have learnt a great deal about many medical conditions and the effect they have on individuals.

Our biggest client base is Dementia and Stroke and these can be equally challenging when trying to assess a person’s ability to drive. 

With Dementia you are looking to see if their reactions, processing skills, visual spatial awareness and their ability to control the car, are still within safe parameters and all the while trying not to intervene.

For example, on a recent assessment of a gentleman diagnosed with Dementia, he consistently drifted to the right, failed to respond to developing hazards and struggled constantly to coordinate clutch and gear, this meant that I was giving directions, watching the road, watching the client and at the same time keeping us and other road users safe. Woo Hoo fun and games, but oh so interesting,

But had this been a normal driving lesson, I would have been asking my student to pull over and asking them about their road position, then getting them to see and deal with the developing hazards etc.; but on an assessment you need to gather as much evidence of their driving to be able to make an informed decision on their ability to drive safely.

Assessing a disabled person for the best adaptation to enable them to learn or return to driving is, for me, the most satisfying part of the job. I have learnt so much about the adaptions that are available on the market today, that I am now knowledgeable enough to be able to give some useful advice when asked. I have also “nearly “learnt to drive with all of them and this is greatly to my advantage when I am teaching a client to use them for the first time.

I am now confident and comfortable teaching various hand controls and left foot accelerator and enjoy nothing more than seeing the sheer joy on a client’s face, when they can achieve their goal of driving, giving them back a chance to be independent and achieve other goals, such as getting or retaining employment.

In an ideal world it would be straight forward to achieve these everyday goals, but sadly it is still a challenge for disabled people to access the help they need.

One of the greatest problems they face is the sheer lack of ADI,s who are willing and able to take on these clients.

We are struggling more and more to find ADIs in the areas where they are needed and the few we do have are overrun with work.

So, if  like me you enjoy a new challenge and feel you could give and receive more from your chosen career, take a moment to look into making another person’s life much less of a fight, to achieve what we take for granted.

Kate McKinlay ADI

Share

National speed limit on dirt trackOn lessons, it is quite common for pupils to query why there is a national speed limit in force in places where it is obviously not possible or safe to drive above about 30-40mph. One particular road around here is a single track with crude passing places on it (not the one shown in the photo above, but similar).

The history of the national speed limit (NSL) is quite interesting.

The first speed limits were introduced as long ago as 1865 for vehicles which were not powered by animals. A limit of 2mph in urban areas, and 4mph everywhere else, was in force, and someone with a red flag had to walk in front of the vehicle. The first speeding ticket was issued in 1896, when someone was assessed to be driving at 8mph in a residential area.

Obviously, the maximum speed capability of vehicles improved, and people were flouting the Law on a regular basis. So in 1903 the maximum speed limit was increased to 30mph.

By 1930, that speed limit was being ignored, too, and the Road Traffic Act got rid of speed limits completely. Of course, at that time, not many cars could go much above that anyway, so it wasn’t a problem for a while. However, the number of road deaths began to increase and in 1935 a 30mph limit was introduced in built-up areas, and that remains the case up to the present day. However, there were no limits anywhere else.

The first motorway appeared in 1958. Most cars could only manage up to about 50mph, so having no speed limit wasn’t much of a problem. But in 1964 – with motorways being the straightest and flattest roads available, and still unrestricted – the rally driver, jack Sears, took a test car (a Cobre Coupe) on the M1 and got up to 185mph. The newspapers were all over it, citing it as dangerous driving, and debate still rages over whether he was to blame for the trial the following year of a 70mph limit on motorways, though the foggy winter and number of accidents it led to was probably a factor. In 1967, the 70mph limit became Law. It applied to all non-urban roads.

In 1973 there was a major oil crisis. To conserve fuel, the NSL was temporarily dropped to 50mph. This was lifted in early 1974. However, later that year, as part of a fuel conservation initiative, the NSL on non-motorway roads was reduced to 50mph. But in 1977, this was relaxed and the NSL on those roads went up to 60mph. The two NSLs were made permanent in 1978.

And that’s why we have the speed limits we have today.

Share

Normal DistributionThis question crops up repeatedly. It’s often the first question a pupil asks when they get in the car for the first time.

The official DVSA statistics say that the typical learner takes around 45 hours of lessons with an instructor, and 20 or more hours of private practice before they pass their test. As soon as this is mentioned, people who haven’t got a clue what statistics are start trotting out the usual crap and accuse DVSA of interfering in their job.

Look. There was a study a few years ago which asked a lot of new drivers how many hours they had had, and the result was an average of 45 hours plus at least 20 hours of private practice. You can’t alter the fact that that’s what happened: those drivers did have an average of 45 hours plus 20 hours of private practice prior to passing. Just because the word “statistics” is used, and you don’t understand them, doesn’t change that. It’s what did happen.

Try to understand what the word “average” means. If you have 100 people, and each one of them took between 20 and 100 hours to pass their tests, if you add up all the hours then divide by 100 you get “an average” number of hours. It doesn’t mean that every person took “the average”. It just means that was the middle-ish amount of hours taken. In the case of the DVSA study, that average number of hours turned out to be 45. This is a lot more reliable than saying how long it took your last pupil, who did it in less.

Of course, if each one of those hundred people took a different number of hours, ranging from 1 to 100, then the average wouldn’t tell you much. However, the likelihood – indeed, the reality – is that the majority of people would be clustered somewhere in the middle, with only outliers stretching off towards the extremities. It would be called “a distribution” – in statistical terms, a “normal distribution” – and if you plotted the numbers on a graph it would look something like the one shown above. This is a powerful and very useful tool, and it remains such even if you haven’t got a clue what it means. The DVSA study showed that 45 hours was the average that most people were clustered around.

When a new pupil gets in the car and asks how many hours they’ll need before you’ve even seen them drive, you need your head examining if you quote them a specific figure, and especially if it is from your last model pupil. However, explaining the above statistic in suitable terms will give them a rough idea, and illustrate clearly that they’re almost certainly not going to be ready by next Friday if they’ve never driven before.

I’ve mentioned before that the fastest learner I ever had went from zero to pass in 14½ hours over a couple of months. He was exceptional, though, and it is worth also noting that he must have done at least five times that number of hours as private practice. I rarely come across anyone as dedicated as he was. Some years before him, another pupil managed the same in 17½ hours. She, too, did a lot of private practice when she went home between terms, though she took over a year to learn. Then there was another one, who did it in 23 hours. He was unusual inasmuch as he didn’t do any private practice at all. I’ve had a fair number manage it between 25 and 30 hours, and a huge number between 30 and 50 hours. These are first time passes I’m referring to, and some did private practice, whereas some didn’t.

At the other end of the scale, I taught one woman for over 100 hours until I finally persuaded her to switch to automatic (I’d been trying that since around the 40 hour mark). She never had a test with me, and she then took at least another 100 hours of automatic lessons, and finally passed on her seventh attempt. She’s since given up driving, after wrecking her car bit by bit over the course of the first fortnight she had it.

Another took 160 hours and three attempts before passing (his brother tells me he has had numerous minor bumps). More recently, another passed on his fourth attempt after 133 hours over more than three years. I’ve had a few I can recall with around 60 or 70 hours, and not all of them had issues like those others. One in particular nearly passed with a single driver fault on his first test – until he nudged the barrier at the Colwick Test Centre when he parked at the end – and then took a further 7 attempts (if I recall) to pass, with regular lessons in between. He was a good driver, but the number of hours he took was disproportionately high.

I’ve never bothered to sit down and work it out properly, but my average is somewhere between 25 and 45 hours. That’s the range most of my pupils are in. The overall skew is towards the lower end of the range, since those taking a large number of lessons are fewer than those who manage the much shorter numbers. It’s statistics again.

With all that in mind, when anyone asks, I simply tell them that the national average is apparently 45 hours with as much private practice as possible, but that I’ve had people do it in as little as under 20 hours, and as much as 200 – though those were exceptional cases. I explain that everyone is different, and you only know how many hours it will take after you’ve taken them. I explain that it is best to think in the 30-40 hour range to begin with – but if we can do it quicker, we will. I tell them that it is impossible to predict how many hours they will need at the outset, but we’ll get a better idea as their lessons progress.

If they don’t like that they can go elsewhere. Only a few ever have, but they were exclusively non-UK drivers who wanted to take a test immediately.

Share

DroneI’ve been thinking about getting a drone for some time. If I did, I would also take the necessary flying courses to make sure I was fully legal and capable of handling it. And I wouldn’t break the Law with it.

Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you will be aware of the chaos at Gatwick over the weekend before Christmas, where thousands of flights were cancelled or affected by someone flying what appears to be a commercial drone (or drones) into the airport boundaries. The disruption meant that tens of thousands of people were screwed for Christmas – they missed holidays, connections, funerals, and so on.

Whoever is responsible deserves to be flung, kicking and screaming, into the intake of a 747 engine just so they – and anyone like them – can see what the effects of a large object being sucked into an engine could do.

The editors of certain newspapers and current affairs TV shows – and I’m referring to both present and retired editors, here – should be flung in with them.

The chaos at Gatwick is hard to comprehend, but once you start to get your head around even a small part of it, you begin to realise how ineffectual the police were in handling it (more on this later, as it seems they may have actually been the cause of later disruption). I don’t necessarily mean that they were handling it badly (well, wait until later). Just that they didn’t have a clue how to do so, and so didn’t handle it at all. And that perhaps explains partly why they arrested a couple and took them in for questioning.

Precisely why these two were arrested – vague stories suggest a neighbour “tipped off” the police – has not yet been made clear. Of far greater importance is the fact that they have been released without charge. Not “under investigation”, or “on bail”. But without charge. That means that they were not involved in any way with the problems at Gatwick.

I stress at this point that the police didn’t do anything wrong. But the press did. Yet again.

You see, the police simply reported that a 47-year-old man and 54-year-old woman from Crawley had been taken in for questioning. However, reporters from trash publications such as The Mail on Sunday and The Sun (not to mention Piers Morgan on TV) crawled out of their sewers and U-bends and managed to obtain the names of the two arrestees from small-minded neighbours. And then they published those names, along with photographs, and went as far as it is possible to go towards saying that they were guilty without actually stating it. And they now find themselves right in the middle of yet another libel action.

The problem is that it doesn’t matter how much they get paid in damages. Mud sticks, and you can pretty much guarantee that there will be at least one twat out there who still believes they were guilty, and who could decide to take their own style of revenge. No amount of money can compensate for having to live with that. They’ve already had a ruined Christmas, but that is likely to be small fry compared to what they could endure. When certain sections of the press gets things wrong, to save face they usually tend to work on the principle that even if someone wasn’t guilty of one thing, there’s bound to be something they’re guilty of if you dig deep enough.

The Sun’s former political editor, Trevor Kavanagh, reckons the papers were right to name the two arrested people. It’s good to see him keeping down his standards into retirement. I didn’t think he could go any lower, but he’s proven me wrong. He reckons that by potentially destroying these two people’s lives, the police found out more quickly that they weren’t responsible, and that that’s a good thing. What a prat!

Since then, though, the situation has lurched from one farce to another. At one point, the police seemed to suggest that there might not have been a drone in the first place. They backtracked on that, but in the last day it has emerged that the latter sightings, which caused further flight suspensions even closer to Christmas, could actually have been police drones – which Sussex Police had started using as part of whatever it was they were pretending to do to sort the problem out. I mean, come on. They were flying drones, and couldn’t identify them as theirs when people reported seeing them? And that’s even before you ask what the hell they thought launching drones would achieve by way of bringing the matter to a suitable conclusion.

As it stands, 10 days after the first sighting and airport lockdown, no one is any closer to finding out what happened and who did it, and there is still the whiff of a possibility that no one did anything – so let’s go and arrest two innocent people and let the press loose on them.

Oh, and ban all drones.

Share

Borders graphicThe system we have in the UK is that if you hold a full non-UK licence from a non-EU country, or a country which does not have a reciprocal arrangement with the UK, you can drive on that licence for up to 12 months.

The clock starts ticking from the moment you set foot in the UK. It doesn’t stop if you go home again, and it doesn’t get reset at any time. Oh, and you can’t go back home, get a full licence, then come back and drive for a full 12 months on it. The clock is started as a result of your first entry into the UK – not the entry of your licence.

The purpose of this arrangement is to give you time to apply for a UK provisional licence, take driving lessons, and pass your test. Unfortunately, many see it as an excuse not to do anything for another 12 months – then get desperate.

Many years ago, while I was still a relatively fresh ADI, I had a new pupil who was from Pakistan. He had a job with a big pharmaceutical company based in the south of the UK. On his first lesson I asked to see his licence, and he handed me a pristine Pakistani one (green card). Alarm bells rang immediately, and asked him how long he’d been in the UK (two years). I then asked him when he had obtained this licence. He told me he went home earlier in the year (about three months previously) and got the licence then. I told him I didn’t think he could drive on it and – in his presence – called the main police station in Nottingham to seek clarification. As luck would have it, the guy who answered on that Saturday or Sunday afternoon was ex-traffic police, and he told me he thought I was right, but went to fetch the handbook to check for me. That was when I heard the full detail I have already given, above. In this learner’s case, he needed a UK provisional licence and didn’t have one, and the lesson obviously didn’t go ahead.

Some designated countries (and the whole of the EU) have those “reciprocal arrangements” I mentioned. The full list is here (and although it is dated 2013, it is still correct at the time of writing). People who hold full licences from those countries can exchange them for a full UK one without having to take a test. The exchange is like-for-like – an automatic licence from Australia would get exchanged for an automatic licence in the UK. And the original licence must have been obtained in one of the reciprocal countries – not one near by, or with a similar sounding name or geography (i.e. North Korea is not the same as South Korea, USA is not Canada, Hong Kong is not China (nor is Singapore), and so on).

Ignorance of these rules – real or pretend – is not going to get you anywhere if you get stopped by the police. I know for a fact that there’s a fair number of older non-UK drivers, who have been in the UK for quite some time, who still drive on their “international licence” by virtue of going to visit family in their home country once a year, thus believing they’re resetting the counter. They only get away with it because they haven’t been caught yet – and I know for a fact that there are some who have been caught, and who therefore can’t fall back on “pretend” ignorance any more, but who carry on driving nonetheless. Sorry, but it’s true.

As driving instructors, our only professional responsibility is to make sure the people we teach are licensed to take lessons with us. Anything beyond that is a personal matter, and climbing on to a soap box to bemoan the dangers of allowing foreigners to drive in the UK at all, without (or before) passing a test, has nothing to do with our day job. Don’t forget that we are foreigners when we travel outside the UK, and if you think we should bar anyone who hasn’t passed a test in the UK from driving here at all, then expect to have your (or your kids’) future plans for camping or skiing holidays seriously curtailed in return.

This has been the system used for many years across many countries. It doesn’t result in carnage, and apart from the usual mad rush to get a licence at the end of the 12 month window, it works reasonably well. For us as well as “them”.

Foreigners can fail a test and still drive. That’s wrong.

Look. It’s the system. How many current UK drivers would pass the test if they took it right now, without additional training? How many ADIs would?

It’s worth looking at the DVLA’s official position on this before spending the rest of your working life believing something else. I wrote to them and specifically asked what happens if a non-UK/non-EU full licence holder takes and fails a test within the 12 month window. Their response was:

A non GB licence holder can still drive for up to 12 months regardless of a UK test failure.

Is that clear enough? ADIs are always whinging about how one of their pupils was unfairly failed for things like not looking in their blind spot even though no one was nearby, or braking hard at a junction, but that they’re otherwise good drivers. Like it or not, the test is a series of hoops the candidate has to jump through, and if they miss one, they fail. The difference is that a learner has never driven unsupervised and has never been licensed to do so, whereas those holding licences from other countries usually have. There’s a big difference.

And don’t forget that when a UK driver visits another country, they expect to be able to get a hire car if they want one and visit all the tourist sites. A UK driver in Europe, the USA, or anywhere else is no different to a foreign driver in the UK. It’s the system.

If you’re teaching a foreign driver, just concentrate on your job and teach them. Get them through their test.

Trying to get them off the roads is a personal issue, not a professional one.

Foreigners may never have driven on the left

No. And foreigners in other countries – foreigners from the UK – may never have driven on the right. Yet many thousands do it every year. It’s the system.

The driving test isn’t specifically about driving on the left or right. It’s about being able to drive safely enough to get a licence. It’s all very well giving examples of the bad examples you may have experienced or heard of (or even imagined might happen), but a lot of non-UK drivers holding full licences are perfectly safe on the roads.

Of course, some aren’t. But as I suggested previously, some of our own learners fall into that category.

Professionally, we should concentrate on teaching our own learners. If you want to embark on a personal crusade, keep it separate.

I’ve seen people fail their test and drive away from the test centre

If they have a full licence from another country and are still within their 12 months, they are not breaking the Law. It’s the system. I repeat what the DVLA has told me:

A non GB licence holder can still drive for up to 12 months regardless of a UK test failure.

If they drive away on a Provisional licence unaccompanied then they are breaking the Law. It’s a totally separate situation, and one that isn’t confined to non-UK drivers.

Even EU drivers are unsafe

Look. Try to understand this. The people who come to you are not representative of the entire population of the universe. They are merely representative of the type of people who have issues with their driving.  Crass, all-encompassing statements about EU (or any non-UK) drivers are just wrong. The ones who approach you obviously know they have issues, otherwise they wouldn’t have.

Foreigners have always driven here when they visit – certainly within your lifetime. The vast majority are exactly the same as a Briton driving abroad – and we’ve always done that.

There are some UK drivers – people who can trace their family tree back virtually to the Saxons – who are crap drivers. They’re probably less “foreign” than you are. It happens. And they’d be just as crap driving in France, Spain, the USA, or anywhere else. The same is true for some people who were born in other countries. Driving is a human skill, not a racial one.

The UK test is stricter than everyone else’s

You can’t have it both ways. First, it’s about driving on the left, now it’s about British superiority.

Britain doesn’t have the “hardest” test – not even within Europe.

In my own experience – and that of a lot of other ADIs if what I have read is correct – people from countries where obtaining a licence is easiest tend to realise they’re going to have problems and take lessons when they get here. Not all of them, of course, but a fair few.

I’ve had full licence holders from Pakistan, India, Sri Lanka, Peru, Chile, Colombia, Mexico, USA, Gambia, Nigeria, Kenya, Senegal, Zimbabwe, and some others I can’t recall right now come to me for lessons because they’re terrified of our roads.

If someone has a full licence from any country, and doesn’t give a damn about how they drive, they won’t come anywhere near you in the first place. So if they do, it’s either because they don’t have a licence, or because they know they need some guidance. And if they vanish once you explain how much work is involved… well, as I said previously, it’s a totally separate issue, and has nothing to do with allowing foreigners to drive for 12 months on their full national licences.

I never see them again when I tell them they won’t pass the test

You’d never see any learner again if you told them that. I was under the impression that ADIs were supposed to be positive when dealing with their customers.

Perhaps you should take a step back and consider that maybe your attitude to “foreigners” is clouding your judgement when you take them on.

When someone comes to me, and once I’ve assessed their driving, I explain to them what is required to pass the test, and that they’re not there yet (assuming that they aren’t, although many aren’t far off). I explain that there’s no chance of passing the test by luck unless you’re close to the required standard, so it is important to fix any specific problems. I stress to them that we’re going to do it in the shortest possible time, because driving lessons are expensive. I never tell people how long it will take, because I simply don’t know. If someone is no better than a beginner, they usually already know they’re not ready (and, usually, they do, no matter what you’ve convinced yourself of otherwise). One or two might believe differently – usually, the older drivers – but the majority don’t.

If someone insists on booking a test in spite of all that, I simply tell them that they can’t use my car. If they disappear as a result, I concentrate on my other pupils, because that’s my job.

If they pass, they’re not insured to drive away from the test centre

Neither are UK learners. That’s why I explain to any of mine – no matter where they come from or what colour their skin is – that if they go for their test in their own car (and a small number do), they need to phone their insurance company before they drive away just to be on the safe side. If they’ve spent all that money on learning to drive, they will listen. Any who don’t are not automatically “foreign”.

It’s their responsibility – not yours. And the problem is not confined to “foreigners”.

Share

Definition of illiteracyI’ve been noticing this for some time now. Previously reputable news agencies reporting on things solely sourced from Facebook or Twitter.

It might not be what you’d call “reputable” in the usual sense of the word, but it is nevertheless a newspaper and so you’d expect some journalistic skill on display, but the Daily Mirror has reported on a “bizarre” TV interview between Joanna Lumley and The Black Eyed Peas. I saw it as an MSN newsfeed and wondered what might have happened for it to be labelled as such.

Well, the short answer is: absolutely nothing.

Basically, the “bizarreness” is simply that… well, Joanna Lumley interviewed The Black Eyed Peas. That’s it. That’s the entire story. The whole thing can be summed up perfectly in those five words. Joanna Lumley interviewed The Black Eyed Peas.

The Mirror, though, manages to string it out to 200 words and three screenshots from the interview. Two shots show people sitting on a couch, and one is a mistimed capture of the back of two people’s heads. The extra words come from The Mirror’s copy-and-paste-from-Twitter department, where they duplicate five complete Tweets from certified idiots, each saying that the interview was “bizarre”. As far as I can tell, the only reason it is “bizarre” even to these morons is because… well, Joanna Lumley interviewed The Black Eyed Peas.

The BBC does this sort of thing now, too. It isn’t averse to creating entire articles based on Twitter or Facebook posts, and it doesn’t even correct the appalling grammar that is endemic to those things. It even includes them totally un-spellchecked in most “sensible” articles. It must save them a lot of time.

I wouldn’t click on a link to any story about The Black Eyed Peas purely based on their music. It simply isn’t my scene. But the word “bizarre” is clickbait, and clickbaiting is the latest journalistic tool of choice to get people to pages full of adverts. MSN’s newsfeeds do it all the time – take my advice, and never click on any link which says “you’ll never guess what happened next” or has the word “adorable” or “sponsored” in it. Because whatever did happen next will be as interesting as staring at a wall, and I think that “adorable” is the Facebook generation’s preferred way of referring to any juvenile animal with less than six legs doing what juvenile animals with less than six legs naturally do (which frequently equates to doing absolutely nothing). “Sponsored” is a combination of those two things higher up the page designed to get you to the ads quicker.

We’re doomed. DOOMED.

Share
1 2 3 266