Diary Of An ADI

A Driving Instructor's Blog

The Second Coming – sorry, I mean the time when Alan Shearer takes over and proves he will be as good at managing as he was at playing football (i.e. mediocre) is getting closer.

Can’t blame El Tel for turning it down. Not with those nutters who call themselves supporters likely to be on his back from the get go.

It’s better that Eastenders or Corrie, watching this.

Share

Well, the critics did their usual and made a meal of Arsenal’s prospects this season back in August. Even some Gooners posted on web forums and said that the team had no depth, that Arsene Wenger should have spent big during summer, and so on.

I wonder what they’re saying now?

A team with an average age of 19 beat Sheffield Utd 6-0. The goalscorers were 20, 19, and 16 (the 19-year old got a hat-trick). And after years of criticism about the number of foreign players in the side (this country is racist whether it likes to admit it or not), there were five English players in the side (the 16-year old was one).

Arsene Wenger is an absolute genius.

Share

Every night, when I go to bed, I spend some time listening to the various digital music channels on Sky. I channel-hop until I find something decent – something which can make your finger tired after a while, as the amount of decent music seems to constitute less than 1% of the total music played on these channels.

I detest all forms of (c)rap music – the ‘c’ is silent when you pronounce that.

I like rock, so Kerrang! (Sky channel 368) is annoying when it plays (c)rap music. It’s also annoying when it keeps playing Slipknot and other bands who all sound exactly the same, and who feature lead singers for whom laryngitis is a suitable cover to hide their inability to sing. Apart from Kings Of Leon, Foo Fighters, and so on, one gem I heard recently was Operation Ground & Pound by Dragonforce. It was good enough to make me get tickets to go and see them on their forthcoming tour.

MTV2 (355) blows hot and cold. It goes through long phases of playing absolute rubbish (more (c)rap, Oasis, pop music, people from London pretending they talk like black gang members, people pretending they’re from London pretending they talk like black gang members, etc.). At rare intervals, they play a track a few times by someone who actually sounds good –  so I got tickets while back to see MGMT in a few weeks. Meanwhile, MTV2 is back to playing Oasis every five minutes.

Sometimes, you’ll channel-hop several times through all the channels and the only music you can find is (c)rap. Boring bass lines, blokes trying to pretend they’re gangsters (sorry, ‘gangstas’ – illiteracy is mandatory for this genre), women trying to pretend they’re somehow hot, all feeling really happy with themselves because the video editor made it look as if they could dance like Michael Jackson used to be able to. Yaaaaawn. The only song in the last 10 years broadly from this genre that was anywhere near good was Outkast’s Hey Ya. And everything they did after that (and before) was crap (the ‘c’ isn’t silent this time).

Now, I enjoy some classical music, too. It’s great to hear Vivaldi or Mozart played by a decent orchestra or musician on ClassicFM (now oMusic, channel 369), though hearing Nigel Kennedy say ‘cool’ at the end of a performance is somehow pushing attempts to make classical more accessible a little too far. Videos for classical music often try too hard! There’s something slightly disturbing about a strapping red-haired woman being shown dressed demurely in one scene, then with her legs wide open and a cello stuffed in between them in another. It just doesn’t quite work. Some of the newer classical or pseudo-classical composers are simply pretentious (anything by the Michael Nyman band – discordant, reptitive garbage), but every now and then you find out about something really good. Sigur Ros and Efterklang are two such, and Little Death Orchestra’s Tiny Crescent Sun was excellent (shame they were a one-off).

But one that really caught my attention the other night was Nell Bryden’s Second Time Around (link removed as it is now broken).

Share

A message for all those who feel like they have to go out with one leg rolled up to just below the knee (mainly teenage girls, unfortunately):

YOU LOOK TOTAL PRATS, SO STOP IT!

In any case, the kind of person who does do it usually has a calf (and rear end) which looks like something you’d find hanging in a butcher’s shop and not walking down catwalk – i.e. something best left under wraps and not displayed openly.

Share

If I live to be a hundred, I’ll never understand the female mind.

I was driving to a pupil the other day and I was behind a dark red Renault Clio. Nothing odd about that. But the inside was a comedy of errors…

  • pink seat covers
  • pink furry dice – huge ones
  • a pair of stuffed pink & white bootees on the back parcel shelf
  • a pink ball on the end of the aerial
  • a pink & white giraffe and a white teddy bear glued to the passenger side dashboard
  • a large, nodding white poodle glued very slightly to the left of the speedo area of the dash
  • various other toys stuck to windows and in corners

From behind I couldn’t see the driver above the head restraint of rear of the seat, so she wasn’t a tall person. So there was no way she could possibly see properly with that poodle on the dash and those dice hanging from the mirror. And she wasn’t a slow driver, either – she shot off pretty quickly from lights and stuff.

Makes you wonder how she’d deal with a kid walking across as the lights change, hidden right behind that stupid stuffed poodle.

Mind you, I was on a lesson yesterday and a car (a BMW, I think) pulled up alongside us at lights. I said to my pupil:

Just look at this guy on his mobile next to us.

Apart from the fact he was on his mobile whilst driving, the mobile had what appeared to be a huge metal chain attached to it (or possibly it was an ornamental belt buckle – it was about 10cm across and looked like it was diamond-encrusted). Also attached was some sort of stuffed toy at least 20cm long.

Share

Early finish today, so just watching this on TV. It hasn’t half changed since the early days.

To start with, even I can answer a lot of the questions these days. But the teams seem to be under the impression they’re on Catchphrase. The captain of the winning team, Brighton, just made a random guess every time a question was asked and his team was not forthcoming with an answer!

Share

So, Newcastle are now managerless and chairmanless.

I wonder if those nutters who call themselves supporters realise how difficult it is going to be to sell the club to anyone, when whoever does take it on knows he has a bunch of psychopaths ready to threaten physical harm to him and his family to contend with unless he buys all the top players ahead of Chelsea, Man Utd, and now Man City? (I leave Arsenal out of that list because they don’t need to spend big to get decent players).

Eight managers in ten years surely says something, doesn’t it?

Kevin Keegan was good for the club. But let’s face it: he was just the caretaker until His Supreme Galactic Lordship Alan Shearer was ready to take on the mantle. Many Geordie supporters are very short-sighted on such matters – not least, the stupid belief that with every new manager the Premiership title, the FA and Carling Cups, the Championship, and any number of other trophies should all be won that season. When Shearer eventually does take over, there’s going to be a very loud wake-up call on that one!

Mike Ashley screwed up, of course, by appointing people to take care of certain matters without involving Keegan at all. Trying to buy and sell players being the best example. But the attitude of some supporters towards him is almost criminal.

Share

It was madness on the roads today.

To start with, it was the day of the local marathon and they had rolling roadblocks in place. A ‘rolling roadblock’ in this context is a euphemism for ‘complete inability to travel from one side of the city to the other without taking a 30 mile detour due to closed roads and bridges, and if you try it’s a lottery as to which road you’ll find blocked’.

Even well away from the main marathon route there were problems, with people in silver foil capes wandering all over the place as if to say ‘look at me everybody – I’ve run in the marathon, I have’. Annoying little things like stopping and turning round to talk loudly to friends whilst crossing at traffic lights, thus preventing as many of the queueing (and detoured) cars getting through as would have done if they hadn’t been there. And crossing where there’s no actual crossing. And crossing when cars have just started to move away from traffic lights. And not making any attempt to cross quickly.

Then there was the cricket. One of the last matches of the season and the half-decent weather brought a large crowd out. Made more of a problem since the cricket ground is just about in the middle of the marathon route, and most cricket-goers are usually already as addled as someone who’s just run a marathon and have real problems with pedestrian crossing systems. A bit like students, really. Good (i.e. non-existent) planning there, then.

Incidentally, I’ve noticed a huge increase of people out running or riding bikes since the Olympics. I just wish they’d run and ride off the roads instead of on them.

Since the football season started again it hasn’t been uncommon for one of the local teams to have a home match at the same time as a big cricket match, resulting in closed roads (for parking) and congestion (as a result of those with no road sense). Add some other event at the arena, pulling in gaggles of screaming girls and their parents, and you have Hell On Earth if you’re a motorist.

But back to my original point: the leaves are starting to turn, the nights are cooler and longer, and the marathon is just about the last disruptive event of the summer. Just the football to contend with.

Share

My pupil didn’t realise until just before her test that it was the thirteenth. And it didn’t make a bit of difference in the end as she passed with 6 driving faults. Well done KOR.

On the other hand, I had a pupil due for his test on Thursday. It was a rearranged test for one cancelled over a month ago with less than 2 hours notice by the DSA (not sure if it was an ill examiner or a mixed up booking – I’m sure they’d say the first one even if the second thing was really the reason). It was bad enough that he’d had to wait so long for a rearranged date, as they usually get one in quite quickly. Anyway, we turned up and cutting a long story short we discovered they’d booked his test in at another test centre! The pupil had told me it was at the same centre, and he’s expected it to be at the same centre as no one had asked him if it was OK to change it. He hadn’t even been consciously aware that there was an alternative centre.

Admittedly, he should have read the letter in minute detail. But then again, a rearranged date which was due to the DSA messing up anyway shouldn’t have taken so long or involved a change of venue. Since his original cancellation I’ve had pupils booking fresh tests for shorter times at the same test centre.

In future I’ll now have to make sure I see the confirmation letter (which is really private correspondence between the candidate and the DSA) and check it in fine detail. Should be interesting when the pupil doesn’t have one – quite a common situation, especially if a test date is changed.

Share

You see the adverts everywhere: Become a Driving Instructor. Work hours to suit yourself, and earn £30,000 a year. No experience [or skills or qualifications] necessary. That part in italics is the rub. They don’t say it, but it is implied – and that’s one of the big problems facing this industry today.

Historically, driving instructors as a group have never been the brightest bunch of people in the world, but at least they knew a bit about driving just by virtue of experience. OK, they have a bit of chip on their shoulder which forces many to liken themselves to doctors or other skilled professionals whenever they get the chance. But times have changed.

No experience, skills, or qualifications. And you can become a driving instructor.

Nowadays, the focus is on earning £30,000 a year and not having to have achieved anything at school to get it. Driving instructors are getting younger – so young, in fact, that the wisdom of years for them is way off in the future. This why you see instructors breaking speed limits, tailgating, abusing residents and other people (you should see the noticeboard in my local test centre), and otherwise driving like the chavs they are teaching.

At one of my local test centres this morning my pupil drove into the car park and we saw another learner car reverse parking in a bay. We waited some way back until the car had (very slowly) completed their manoeuvre, then we went in to do the same. In the meantime, another learner car had pulled up behind us. But instead of waiting for us to park, the idiot instructor allowed (or advised, but certainly didn’t stop) their pupil to pull into the car park as well and position alongside us to reverse park on the opposite side. I couldn’t really believe it, but it just goes to show what is happening between the ears of many instructors today. Very little.

It’s the same when you’re out teaching. You’ll find a corner or piece of road to do a certain manoeuvre and some other instructor will pull up behind you. They’re basically queueing to use the location. Only yesterday I had a pupil do a Left Reverse around a sharp corner and another car pulls in to do the same manoeuvre around the same corner – just as well we didn’t need to do it again. Last week I was doing the same manoeuvre around a different corner. My pupil had driven a little far ahead of the usual start position and that was all it took for another learner to pull in behind and ‘steal’ the corner. Also last week I had a pupil doing a Turn In The Road and another learner car came so close to us to do the same manoeuvre we had to wait.

If I turn into somewhere and see a learner car I go somewhere else. If I see a learner parked before a corner I assume they’re going to use it and drive on. If I see a learner parked on a clear, straight, wide road then I go and do my Turn In The Road elsewhere. Other instructors really could do with taking note.

This one is going to be a running theme.

Share