Earlier this week, I’d just finished for the day and was driving home when I felt my phone vibrate. When I got a chance to stop and have a look I didn’t recognise the number, so I called back. This was at around 9.45pm – the original call coming in perhaps 10 minutes earlier.
The call went something like this – imagine a very thick accent, very difficult to understand on the phone:
Me: Hello, I’ve got a missed call from this number – you called a few minutes ago?
Him: Yes. I’ve got a driving test tomorrow and I wondered if you were available.
Me: I’m afraid I’m fully booked tomorrow – what time is your test?
Note that I have no intention of taking someone I’ve never seen drive to test – I’m just trying to be polite.
Me: No. I’ve got a lesson on right at that time. I’m sorry.
Him: So you’re not available?
Me: No. I’ve got lessons all day and one at exactly the time of your test.
Him: Couldn’t you cancel them?
Me: No, because a lot of these people have tests of their own coming up and they need to take the lessons. I can’t cancel people like that.
And he still persisted in trying to persuade me – I suppose that at 9.30pm he must have been getting a bit desperate.
It’s hard to fathom, sometimes, how the minds of some people work.
Had a day off today and went on business to Wiltshire. Coming back along the A346 between Ogbourne St George and Chiseldon (just south of Swindon) I was nearly killed by a complete pillock (didn’t get the number) overtaking at speed coming towards me in heavy rain. I had to slam on my brakes and stop to avoid a head-on collision. If that’d have been any of my pupils after passing their test I suspect they’d have been killed either by collision or running off the road down the embankment.
Then just north of Stow-on-the-Wold on the A429 I was overtaken in torrential rain by a baby chimp in a black Volkswagen Golf (what else?) on that stretch of road where a whole family was wiped out by an imbecile overtaking in March this year. About 20 minutes later I caught up with him and wondered why – he was driving like a total prat when I saw him the first time, so I hardly expected to see him again unless he was smeared across the front of a lorry. Then I saw the Police car in the queue of traffic in front… clever little chimp! Once the Police turned off near Shipston-on-Stour he was at it again – and he caused an oncoming car to slow down as he nearly had a head-on with them when he overtook three other vehicles in one go. The rain was so heavy at this point you could barely see more than 10 cars ahead.
Finally, the motorway was absolutely solid due the weather and with it being a Friday. On eventually leaving the motorway I was on the junction roundabout (3 and 4 lanes wide, snarled up with traffic at 4pm) and an idiot in a white Inviron van (VD56 AJV) in the left/outside lane decided he needed to be somewhere else, and just tried to pull out in front of me. He was going to go whether I braked or not. He then managed to cross all four lanes in one go and last I saw he was on the inside lane. God only knows how someone who drives a company vehicle can be such a poor driver he is a) four lanes wrong that close to where he needs to be, and b) so stupid that he changes lanes like this in these conditions!
Still, all these examples are great for using with my pupils when I try to get them to understand what sort of pond life they will have to deal with when they pass – and hopefully prevent them turning into pond life themselves.
OK, so a little bit of yesterday included.
Last night I was in a quiet industrial area with a pupil going over a couple of manoeuvres. She was completing her Turn in the Road and just about to drive forward in pouring rain (and it was torrential) when this thug in a gold Rover, I think it was (R338 SJF) decided he was going to not stop at all and just went for the gap. Both me and the pupil had to brake hard (I can’t take chances when cretins like this are in the area). He drove into the UKMail depot at the end of the road.
This morning I was on my way to my first lesson and an articulated lorry (FY53 EYO), which had just taken a corner on to a roundabout with a turning radius similar to the orbit of Saturn, decided to break the 30mph speed limit on the inside lane in order to undertake me so he could pull out in front and turn right at a mini-roundabout several hundred metres ahead. I was about to say it isn’t often you get lorries doing this, but oddly enough I was with a pupil yesterday and we were joking about how we were doing the 60mph limit on the road we were on, and the lorry in front was pulling away quite rapidly. It must be big business being able to tinker under the hood of an artic…
Driving back from this pupil, as I crossed the tramlines and a railway line heading towards the city – clearly marked with the sign shown on the right – a specimen of White Van Man driving an Oriel Printing van (YJ05 YDZ) slowed down, causing me to almost stop on the tracks, and turned left. All he had to do (and he was probably following his satnav anyway if he wasn’t from this area) was go 100 metres ahead, turn left, then left again, and he’d have been on the road he wanted – except legally.
Later, I was near a school with another pupil around lunchtime and we were doing the Left Reverse exercise. Some guy in a Ford people carrier (L4 RLX) decided those yellow zig-zags meant he could stop there. He only drove off when cars coming up behind couldn’t get through, seeing as he was blocking the road as well. But personalized plates mean you can do this sort of thing, right?
But the most overriding feature of today was an overturned lorry on a roundabout. It happened sometime before 11am (and it appeared to be some sort of skip-carrier), because when I drove around the roundabout at 10.45am the traffic had already started to build up and the Police had got at least two three-lane feeder roads coned down to a single lane to keep traffic away from the affected lane and the one next to it. It was already pandemonium.
It meant that I was late to three lessons today. The last one I nearly cancelled, but the pupil was fortunately able to move it back by an hour. This was at 6pm (moved to 7pm). Now, I don’t want to criticise whatever it was people were doing up there, but at 5.15pm there were tailbacks of several miles on all the roads leading to the roundabout and – I subsequently found – on just about every other road within a 5 mile radius as people sought to avoid it. Wherever I went there were queues, and people turning around to try and find alternatives. It was chaos.
So why the hell did it take over 9 hours to move an overturned lorry? God only knows how many days it would have taken if it had caught fire or something.
It’s not just the bad weather than brings them out of the woodwork!
Driving with a pupil this afternoon and we’re in a busy shopping area. We’re coming up to a Puffin crossing and we’re close enough for the pupil to have to brake quite quickly as they change to red. But this doesn’t stop a complete imbecile in a silver estate car (Y840 JRB) cut in from the right hand lane ahead of us! In fact, seeing as he’s done it within 2 car lengths of the lights (and 3 car lengths of us), there isn’t time for him to stop (even though he was clearly thinking about it) and he shoots them on red.
Then this evening – during rush hour – I’m with another pupil driving through a busy urban area with narrow streets. A white van (SH06 SVG) with a trailer decides that it is just going to stop – blocking both a T-junction on the street, and us – in order to allow the passenger to get out. My pupil checks her mirrors and moves to go past and the moron inside just indicates and pulls off as she draws alongside. Just for the record, the trailer didn’t have a registration plate on it either, adding to the list of crimes this neanderthal has probably been involved in this week as he’s driven to and from work (and it’s only Tuesday).
Having said this, the heavens opened a little later and rush hour became anything but rushed! Typically, a few spots of rain somehow contrived to bring everything to a complete standstill when – if everyone drove sensibly – you shouldn’t really have noticed much difference.
Out with pupils yesterday, if I was going to list one thing which characterises many motorists in bad weather it’d have to be that they get stupider.
In very heavy rain and spray there was one car (LS51 KGK) which was clearly exceeding the speed limit and cut in front causing us to have to slow down. Then later in the day, also in heavy rain, there was a dark-coloured Corsa (KV05 VAM) which did more or less the same.
As an aside, during a patch of bright weather in the middle of the day, we were driving down a hill and this silver Punto driven by a woman – which had been sort of tailgating for several hundred metres – (WN06 BOU) overtook us between pedestrian crossings and where there are pedestrian refuges all the way down, only to turn right less than 100 metres further on. She could have waited, but then she wouldn’t have been making the really grown up statement about driving behind a learner.
Incidentally, that Punto driver looked like the ink on her licence was probably still wet. This is something else you notice as a driving instructor: the new drivers are often the worst. Probably explains why so many of them get themselves or others removed from the gene pool soon after passing.
Well, after all that crappy weather at the weekend today started with a crisp blue sky. The humidity that’s plagued us (and kept the aircon in the car busy) was gone. OK. So it’s raining again now, but this morning – and the first day of the month – was a real breath of fresh air (no pun intended).
Most of the kids go back to school this week, the nights are drawing in, and… it’ll soon be Christmas!
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.
Such as, why is it that men with complexions out of a Tipp-Ex bottle and legs like baler-twine feel that they must wear shorts in hot weather?
Or why do women who take time to dress in appropriately light summer clothing then decide to wear Ugg boots as well?
Or why do people with the physique of Shrek, the income of John Paul Getty, and the driving skills of a chimpanzee decide that they have to buy BMW Z-series sports cars and drive them around on Saturdays?
Saw one of those this morning. It looked like the airbag had gone off and was driving the thing. At a small roundabout near me he was turning right, and with one lane closed due to road works it was a bottleneck. Of course, this didn’t stop him stopping for no reason at all (or rather, some reason best known to himself) and causing a hold up. Even when he drove off on to the 50mph slip road he was only doing around 25-30. Strangely for a BMW driver, he didn’t even exceed 50 when the limit changed to 70mph.
Weekend drivers are a law unto themselves!
Well, it was Saturday (nearly). Wouldn’t be surprised if it’s a full moon tonight, too.
Driving along the Ring Road with a pupil on a 40mph stretch and a Weasel-boy in an old red Renault Clio (V710 JLC) struggles past at about 45 and then dangerously cuts in front literally less than half a car’s length away. It had to be deliberate – either that or stupidity just reached a new high. Once the limit went up to 50mph he was definitely doing at least 60.
And a few minutes later coming off a roundabout a silver Vauxhall (Astra, I think: LS51 SYF) decided that she (Weasel-girl this time, I think) was going to overtake on the short merge area, and in spite of the fact my pupil accelerated like a proper driver the Vauxhall driver’s pea-brain wasn’t able to deal with the new situation and she went ahead causing us to brake sharply. She then tailgated the car in front dangerously for about a mile until we turned off.
Seriously, I wonder how these people pass their tests… and how they manage to keep their licences.
Yesterday (30/08/2008), I’d emerged from a side road on to a 50mph road which was totally clear in either direction. I’d accelerated up to 50 when in my mirror I see Weasel-boy approaching in his blue Renault Megane (PK06 OFM) at Mach 2. We drive for about a mile and a half with him tailgating me through speed zones of 50, to 40, 50 again, 40 again, then back to 50mph. All the while oncoming traffic has prevented him overtaking. When we get to this final 50 zone, and with a solid white line on our side as we’re on a hill with a hidden summit, he overtakes.
Brilliant manoeuvre, as he can now sit in front of me and behind that caravan we’ve been following all this time. I noticed from behind that above the back of the seat – like all these Weasel-boys he barely came above the seat – he looks just like Hergé’s Tin Tin, complete with the quiff. I could see the quiff moving all over as he resolutely demonstrated his inability to look at me in the mirror.
At a small roundabout he then tried to overtake the caravan on the inside. Obviously, not a very bright Weasel-boy as he was nearly crushed against the roundabout as the caravan cut in.
There’s something scary in all this, though. You get a lot of people who pass their tests and yet they are completely ignorant of what is required to drive safely. A pupil this morning was boasting about his friend who apparently ‘took 10 lessons then decided he was good enough, booked his test, and passed, even though he said he didn’t know anything about driving‘. I discovered this when I tried to find out who’d told this pupil there was a six-month waiting list for the driving test (it’s 4-5 weeks).
This same friend had also sagely announced that ‘you learn everything you need when you go out driving on your own‘.
Yes, I suppose you do. If you live long enough to learn it.