Diary Of An ADI

A Driving Instructor's Blog

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.

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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!

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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Had a pupil on a pretest lesson today and coming off a roundabout we were tailgated very closely by a jackass in a dark grey Volkswagen Golf GTi (H595 JWK). Seeing as we wouldn’t move (we couldn’t: it was busy), he undertook us and then sat just in front of us in the same queue of traffic we were in! I’m sure his peanut-sized brain was truly satisfied after this.

Then, on my way to another pupil – again, sitting in traffic, a prat in a blue Vauxhall Astra (FL57 ORH) undertook me and several other cars in heavy traffic. He undertook in parking bays. Best part was everyone he undertook went past him at the next two sets of lights.

Mind you, no one is exempt from stupidity. On my way home tonight after my last lesson I looked in my rearview mirror and found I was being tailgated by another driving instructor! He appeared to try and overtake me as he moved into a slip road to turn right… this subject is worth a separate post.

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Good result for England, and an even better one for Theo Walcott – would never have happened if he wasn’t an Arsenal player! Good write-ups on the game from Sky and comments from Capello in the BBC article.

I wonder if this will now silence the racists who’ve had the daggers out for Fabio Capello since he was appointed England Coach? All this crap about how ‘an England coach should be an Englishman’ from the likes of these knuckleheads I see every day driving their pratmobiles, cutting everyone up, no doubt with the George Flag hanging out their bedroom windows, and a ‘staffy’ crapping in the backyard.

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No Right Turn SignFirst thing this morning I was on my way to my first lesson of the day when I had to suddenly brake. Two old dears in a silver car (FL53 YNO) had decided the No Right Turn sign (opposite) - on a bend with solid ‘no overtaking’ lines both sides – didn’t apply to them, and the safety issues it was designed to address were not relevent when they turned right there.

Then tonight there were two stunning examples of stupidity. I was with a pupil and we were turning right from major to minor. The pupil was just about straight, having turned into the road, when a silver pratmobile (YH02 NFU) actually cut the corner completely and overtook us. It sped off at considerably greater than the 30mph limit for the area. It’s also worth noting that the pratmobile had a huge dent in the back. Clearly, the peanut-brain driving it had exceeded the limits of his capabilities – small as they obviously were - on at least one other occasion.

The same pupil was on a 60mph road when we were dangerously and unnecessarily cut up by an Audi – what else? – (VA04 EUW), which then sat in front of us. My pupil asked ‘why did they do that? What was the point?’ A hard question to answer without including a few home truths.

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Yesterday had the makings of the worst ever for lunatics.

I was with my first pupil at 10am in heavy rain and in the space of less than 20 minutes we had a blue Audi (ML54 YTM) cut us up, a silver Citroen C4 (PE08 USJ) undertake us at traffic lights at speed, then we were dangerously overtaken by a Broadbent & Co white van (FY05 UDL), and finally we were overtaken dangerously again on the Ring Road by a silver Astra (W326 LNU).

Surprisingly, there was a big lull until my fourth pupil later in the day around 6pm. A grey Toyota (H1 HSO) tried to overtake just after traffic lights, failed, then began to tailgate very closely. I glared at him and he dropped back. About a mile later as I was indicating to turn off he managed to salvage some of his pride by tailgating again for a few yards before shooting off. Finally, I was on the Ring Road and I saw this next idiot approaching at high speed in my rearview mirror in a Vauxhall (AK07 YMR). I was in a 50mph zone, so I pulled over to let him pass – which he did, and then cut into the small gap in front of me! Once he got through the gap he flew across three lanes and shot off in the 50mph zone at at least 70mph.

Honestly, people are getting worse.

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