Diary Of An ADI

A Driving Instructor's Blog

I was on a lesson this morning with a pupil. Chinese girl, but she has a problem staying focused on things. Once her mind flips on to a different subject the one she was on previously is forgotten about. A good example would be coming up to a junction with traffic lights on red. If, say, an ambulance went through she’d forget the lights were on red as her mind would now be on the ambulance. Same thing happens if she makes a mistake – she’ll be driving perfectly then, for one reason or another, stall, veer towards/away from the kerb, etc., and she’ll be dwelling on that instead of what she should be doing next, so it all snowballs.

Well, we were doing the emergency stop. I raised my hand and said ‘STOP’ and she did it perfectly. All she needed to do now was put the handbrake on, slip it into neutral, then check her mirrors.

So what does she do? For some reason she just about climbed down into the floorwell to look at her feet. The fact we were doing the Emergency Stop exercise was completely forgotten. She even went back in for another look when I said ‘Hey, what are you doing?’

After I pulled her over – and it took what felt like 10 minutes to get moving again because she’d lost the thread completely – I managed to get her to explain: ‘I thought I’d broken my shoe’.

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Well, I went to see Primal Scream last night – and this is what good rock and roll is all about! Great gig.

For such a small venue (Nottingham’s Rock City) they had a pretty substantial set, and the sound was typical of Rock City – raw! They covered most of their well-known songs (Country Girl was right at the end), but I don’t think there was one bad song in there all night. We stood near the stage-left speaker stack (I told my mate it was a bad idea, but he reckoned the sound would be worse in the middle). I think my ears were bleeding afterwards. Admittedly it was my idea to get near the stage, but I blame him for not wanting to get in the middle.

I didn’t take my camera, and the pictures I got using my mobile are absolutely crap. They made great use of strobes, and this didn’t help on the pix front, but it is a shame as this is one gig I’ll remember. Must take that damned camera next time: I keep getting the latest top-megapixel cameras then never use them.

Went for a curry afterwards and it was almost as rubbish as the one we had after the MGMT gig a few weeks ago. One of the people I was with tasted hers and immediately said ‘it tastes like soup’ – I was about to say the same thing! And the naan breads were the size of CDs (cost £2.50 each).We weren’t stupid enough to go to the same restaurant as before, but it definitely looks like Nottingham’s curry houses are using tinned soup these days and calling it ‘curry’. Oh, and they seem to have stopped using anything even resembling curry spices. Tasteless gunk!

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Today started off badly. I’d arranged to pick up a pupil who lives the other side of the city. Her test was booked for 11.11, pick-up time was 09.00, and I had set my alarm for 07.30.

I woke with a start and looked at the clock to see 10.00! I quickly phoned my pupil and explained I’d overslept and missed my alarm, and that I was on my way. I felt terrible: it’s the first time I have ever done this.

I was out of the house by 10.10 and arrived at her house around 10.30. We got to the test centre 3 minutes late, and we’d had no chance to practice any of the manoeuvres as originally intended. She was out for nearly 50 minutes (that’s at the high end of the time range it takes for a test).

But she passed! Well done CP, that now makes it 8 passes in a row for me in this current run.

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I had a day off today, and travelled down to Wiltshire to do a bit of shopping. Both going down, and coming back, there was one thing about many other drivers that was driving me nuts.

Why is it that – when on motorways or fast roads – other drivers feel the need to creep past you and then cut in just in front and slow down?

I lost count of the times it happened. In one particular case I was driving on the M69 doing a steady 70mph. In my mirror I could see this car in the distance and over a period of maybe 20 minutes it was either a constant distance behind or gaining on me very slowly. I was moving between the left and middle lanes as other traffic dictated, which is why I noticed him – and the M69 is a fairly quiet motorway whenever I’m on it. Eventually – and after having not moved from the middle lane at any point during his lengthy gain on me, even though he could have – he moved past, going a few miles per hour over the limit, and pulled in in front of me so that the gap was maybe a quarter of what it should have been at the speed we were travelling at, and slowed down! Behind me it was completely clear.

My only option for safety reasons was to slow down or move out.

How do they ever manage to pass their tests? Some of them shouldn’t be allowed to breed, let alone go out unsupervised in a car.

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I had a lesson booked with a pupil this afternoon. I’d texted him in the week to make sure he was OK for it, and got no reply. I texted again this afternoon about 30 minutes before I was due to pick him up. I get a phone call a few minutes later…

Me: Hello?

Him: Oh. Hello. How are you doing?

Me: Fine thanks. You?

Him: Yeah, great. Um. I’ve moved house, did you know that?

Me: Erm. No. For me to know that, you have to tell me, and you didn’t.

Why aren’t guns legal over here? They’d come in handy sometimes.

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Friday (yesterday) was the annual Children In Need Appeal Day run by the BBC.

One of my pupils today raised some money by having that part of his body normally hidden in his trousers waxed! But he hadn’t gone as far as his friend, who’d had a full body wax (including his nether regions). Apparently, my pupil paid £25 for his friend’s eyebrows to be waxed, too.

In case anyone hasn’t clicked, we’re talking hair removal here.

I told him the story of a girl I once knew. She had plucked her eyebrows completely out when she was younger (don’t ask me why: it was something I had never understood even when she told me). But they’d never grown back and she now had to paint them on (I think girls would probably call it something else, but ‘painting them on’ just about covers it).

He can’t wait to tell his friend.

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OK, I think I got this gallery thing figured out – here are some photos I took at the Queen + Paul Rodgers gig a few weeks ago.     

Click the thumbnails to see a medium-sized image, then click that image to see the full size photo (the full-sized images are reduced to 800×600 from the original 2592×1944).

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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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Driving back from a lesson I noticed a hot-air balloon flying quite low over the city. It was swinging back and forth quite significantly like a pendulum.

Seeing how windy it is today I don’t envy those onboard when they come to land!

You know, I’ve never wanted to go up in one of those things. The idea of landing – even on a warm, still day – doesn’t exactly appeal to me. From what I understand, landing is pretty much hit and miss at the best of times. With weather like today’s I can fairly say that going up in one is well down my list of priorities.

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In a previous post about the downside to this job I mentioned a pupil who had an unexplained strop on her lesson last week.

Well, her next lesson was on 9th (Sunday). On 3rd Nov I texted her and asked if she was all right (her lesson on 2nd Nov was where she’d had the strop). No reply . I texted again on 6th Nov and asked if we were still on for Sunday. No reply . I texted again on 8th Nov and asked if were still on for the following day. I get the reply: ‘ I think so ‘.

Bearing in mind her lesson is at 8pm on the Sunday, I get a text message at 4pm Sunday afternoon saying: ‘ I can’t make my driving lesson later. Sorry ‘.

I decided to have a look back over her record for the last few months. Here’s what it looks like:

  • Sun, 9/11 – 8pm lesson ( cancelled at 4pm)
  • Sun, 2/11 – 8pm lesson (has a strop near the end)
  • Sun, 26/10 – 8pm lesson ( cancelled with under 10 hours notice due to hangover)
  • Sun 19/10 – 8pm lesson OK
  • Sun 12/10 – 8pm lesson OK
  • Sun 5/10 – 8pm lesson ( cancelled with under 3 hours notice due to hangover, I think)
  • Sun 28/9 – 8pm lesson OK
  • Sun 21/9 – 8pm lesson OK
  • Sun 14/9 – 8pm lesson ( cancelled same day – no reason)
  • Sun 7/9 – 8pm lesson OK
  • Fri 29/8 – 12pm lesson OK
  • Sun 24/8 – 8pm lesson ( cancelled same day – no reason)
  • Sun 17/8 – 8pm lesson OK
  • Sun 20/7 – 8pm lesson ( cancelled with under 6 hours notice – no reason)
  • Sun 13/7 – 8pm lesson OK
  • Sun 6/7 – 8pm lesson OK
  • Tue 24/6 – 8pm lesson OK
  • Thu 19/6 – 8pm lesson OK
  • Sun 15/6 – 8pm lesson ( cancelled same day – no reason)

If I go further back there are more cancellations. There was at least one other strop in there somewhere, too, where she got in the car already upset. There were a couple where she could hardly keep her eyes open (on one, she had the remnants of a hangover at 8pm). I asked her repeatedly to give me more notice, and I warned her several times about the dangers of being tired or drinking before driving.

I’ve been tolerant because her late lesson isn’t usually required by anyone else, although it has lost me work a couple of times. But in all, her behaviour has cost me a total of more than £160 in income alone, plus the lost work and fuel – not to mention the inconvenience.

She has nothing pre-booked in my diary now, and if she calls next week to ask where I am I’m afraid I’m going to politely tell her to find another instructor. Enough is enough.

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