Diary Of An ADI

A Driving Instructor's Blog

Last year I had a pupil who couldn’t afford her lessons and she cancelled a lot of them. In fact, between July and the beginning of October she cancelled six lessons – that’s about once a fortnight, or every other lesson (and there were cancellations before July, too). It’s also worth noting that because she was saving for a holiday, then went on that holiday, there was a period where she had no lessons anyway, which makes the cancellation rate even worse.

I knew she was strapped for cash and I never had a go at her about this. Even on the occasions when the cancellation was with less than 48 hours notice I didn’t charge her. She was a nice girl, good driver, nearly ready for test, etc.

At the start of October I got a text message cancelling yet another lesson. My mobile phone uses Outlook and text messages are shown as previews. I saw the usual ‘got to cancel’ and ‘sorry’ phrases and left it at that. What I hadn’t seen was the request lower down the message to book one for 25th October. Obviously, I didn’t reply.

On the morning of 25th October I got a text asking where I was. I replied that we had nothing booked… but later on it dawned on me to look at her previous texts to see if I’d missed anything, and that’s when I discovered this request at the end of her last cancellation. Although it wasn’t my fault I apologised profusely. But she refused to acknowledge my texts or phone calls, and I gave up.

Just to summarise for a moment:

  • the pupil cancels lesson after lesson over a total of maybe 10 months
  • this eventually creates a huge mix up resulting in her thinking she’s booked a new lesson and me not having any knowledge of such a booking
  • this is all on top of the lost money (£140 between July-September, plus lost bookings with other pupils) and messed up diary her cancellations have caused me in that whole period

Well, I found out from another pupil this morning that her mother said I had ‘ let her daughter down ‘.

I was really pissed off on hearing this. What made it worse was that I was out with another pupil yesterday and I saw this girl walking down the street with her friend. Young people are extremely bad at hiding their feelings or behaving in a mature way: it was obvious she had seen me and even more obvious she was pretending she hadn’t. Better still, her friend turned round to have a look after they’d walked by. So it couldn’t have been plainer that she was behaving like a spoiled brat.

This is one of the downsides to the job, unfortunately.

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Looking at my stats and yesterday the number of hits went through the roof. Amazing how many people were searching for ‘Linda Kingdon ‘ (and one or two for the school’s – sorry, the ‘place for learning’s’ - name).

She’s the one I wrote about recently who has banned the use of the word ‘school’ to describe her, er, school.

I wonder if it’s because she and her teachers – ooops! I mean, ‘people who convey knowledge’ – have been boosting their egos by seeing what a commotion they’ve caused…?

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Just watching a 1974 performance of Tubular Bells , by Mike Oldfield on BBC 4. It looks like it’ll be available here on the BBC site soon, but it isn’t there yet (EDIT: It is now! Until 13 January, so get it while it’s hot! )

There’s more Prog Rock on after it, as well. Not sure what that is yet. Might be repeats (yes, it is. Same show as the one I mentioned in that last post).

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I watched a couple of shows on BBC 4 (satellite) last week. Prog Rock At The BBC has some brilliant performances on it – especially from the likes of Wishbone Ash , The Nice , and Caravan . It was just a shame that the spotty-faced oik responsible for the captions for each performance were focused on taking the piss out of the whole Prog Rock phenomenon.

Some of the best rock bands ever came out of the Prog Rock movement – try to imagine saying the same of today’s lame offerings in 40 years time: it just won’t happen. So it is annoying when 18 year olds with ADHD are allowed to comment on something which they are incapable of understanding, and which was musically capable of producing 43 minute long tracks with almost no repetition. Your average Hip Hop act can’t go 5 seconds without repetition – it’s the only thing they can do.

There was a follow-up show – Prog Rock Britannia. This was typical BBC – basic summary: Prog Rock was the direct result of the Beatles and The Sex Pistols, just like all musical genres. End of matter . Time has no meaning to those at the Beeb (well, they make Doctor Who and hype it into the stratosphere, after all), and justifying the past using more recent history is one of its favoured ways of misleading the public.

It was even irritating to see some of the Prog Rock pioneers half taking the piss or criticising what they did back then – especially when you consider that some of them still tour and make a passable living out of it now!

But the only real problem with these shows was that they specifically made out that Prog Rock was a quintiessentially English phenomenon. Anyone at the Beeb heard of Frank Zappa ?

Most annoying of all, though, was the omission of the best Prog Rock band ever: Rush. And they’re still going strong…

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Well, I wrote the other day about an  anomaly at a school in Kent who had banned his teachers from using red pen to mark pupils’ work. But another story in yesterday’s press has quickly put headmistress – sorry, headteacher – Linda Kingdon on the 2009 Total & Utter Prat contenders list.

She has banned the use of the word ‘school’ to describe her… school. It has ‘negative connotations’, you see.

Instead it is to be known as ‘a place for learning’. Its head hopes the change will help ‘de-institutionalise’ the school.

She sounds a right laugh, doesn’t she. Having worked in industry for many years, I can imagine the off-site meetings her teachers will have been involved in, the reams flipchart paper (all in nice pen colours – except red: we don’t want any negative connotations), presentations by ‘groups’ (they’ll naturally have all been split into groups), and so on.

‘We decided from an early stage we didn’t want to use the word “school”,’ she said yesterday. ‘This is Watercliffe Meadow, a place for learning. One reason was many of the parents of the children here had very negative connotations of school.

‘We wanted to de-institutionalise the place and bring the school closer to real life.’ Watercliffe Meadow, which was named after Watermead, Shirecliffe and Busk Meadow schools, is described as a 2,000 sq m learning environment for 481 children, from nursery stage through to Year 6.

There’s a photograph of her, as well. She has the kind of irritatingly smug countenance which, when you consider the crap it spouts, is rather more to be expected at the rear end of a farm animal than on the shoulders of someone charged with teaching future generations.

Fortunately, Ms Kingdon – and possibly her eager-to-please teachers – are the only people on the planet who think it is a good idea. Parents aren’t impressed, neither is the Campaign for Plain English .

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Settle is a small town in North Yorkshire, on the edge of the Yorkshire Dales.

Yesterday, there was a story in the press telling how on Boxing Day the owner of a hardware store decided he wanted to spend the day with his family so he rigged up a funnel into a bucket (an ‘honesty box’), put up a sign telling customers to pay for whatever they wanted, and duly left the shop unattended.

When he returned there was £187.66 (and two Euros – even Settle would appear to have people who aren’t completely honest) in the box. The various stories are not totally clear on whether anything was taken without being paid for, but it appears that nothing was stolen.

It was a nice gesture, I suppose, but one many of us would have trouble getting our heads around based on the scum we know live around us.

But I can’t help think it is being blown so much out of proportion that Settle might be storing up trouble for itself.

On BBC National News this morning they had the guy in the studio. He seems completely genuine, although it all comes across as a bit naïve out here in the real world. However, they also had cameras in Settle and were interviewing some of the residents. One said:

This is typical of Settle. I leave my door unlocked all the time.

You’d be lucky to get any change out of £300,000 for a 3-bedroom house in Settle, so you can imagine the ‘wealth’ that lives there. And Settle is uncomfortably close to places like Leeds, Bradford, Manchester, Liverpool, and Newcastle (places specifically referred to in the Book Of Revelation) – the less salubrious inhabitants of which probably all got 50″ Plasma TVs for Christmas and were watching the news this morning.

Yes, they’re very trusting in Settle. Just not very bright.

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And as you can imagine, there is a huge, angry outcry from breastfeeding mothers – even though it’s worth bearing in mind that Facebook and MySpace have already banned such images.

I think we need to clarify a couple of things here… the only people who want breastfeeding forced on the general public are:

  1. Sad women whose brains have turned to jelly because of the hormones involved in dropping a sprog
  2. Middle-aged hippies trying to be Earth Mothers
  3. Perverts

Get it into your stupid skulls: it was you who had the kid, not the rest of us. We’re not interested in the same things you are – the contents of nappies are not fascinating to us (especially when we’re trying to eat a Big Mac Meal in peace), neither are photos of your kids covered in food or other substances. In fact, your kids are pug ugly – don’t tempt us to tell you directly, because you won’t like it if we do.

Those Damned Kiddie Trailers

Even if we find the filthy things our kids do even remotely interesting, that interest doesn’t extend to the disgusting things yours do. And the same goes for breastfeeding.

Keep your blue-veined saggies for the bedroom – or at least the privacy of your own home. If we’re in a restaurant having a meal (including McDonalds), it really doesn’t do anything for us when we can see some ugly, middle-aged hippy-chick at the next table breastfeeding her sprog.

And another thing: don’t leave your stupid bike with the kiddie-trailer on it so close to the door in future – other people want to get in and out, too. If I crack my shin on it again it’s going straight over the hedge and into the road!

EDIT: If YouTube changes its mind at any time, someone let me know so I can make a note here. I certainly won’t be keeping an eye on the issue myself.

EDIT: Someone recently searched for “youtube big breastfeeding.com”. Get a life, pervert.

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I saw this story in today’s Daily Mirror newspaper.

I nominate headmaster – sorry: headteacherRichard Sammonds for the 2008 Total and Utter Prat Award . I quote:

But headteacher Richard Sammonds said: “Red pen can be quite demotivating for children.

“It has negative, old school connotations of ‘See me’ and ‘Not good enough’.”

…Mr Sammonds’ Crofton Junior School in Orpington, Kent, is among hundreds to have banned the ink. He added: “We use highlighter pens in all colours of the rainbow – apart from red.”

Marking In RedErm. I hate to break it to you, Richard, but one of the main aims of learning is to identify when things aren’t good enough so you can improve. Children are not able to determine what is good enough in this context, and that’s why we have teachers. Well, it used to be. It seems that teachers these days are allowed – nay! forced – to do everything except teach. It isn’t hard to imgine the meetings, brainstorming sessions, and other wastes of taxpayers’ money that led to this earth-shattering decision.

Also in the running for the same award is Shirley Clarke from The Institute of Education – an organisation which clearly moulds itself around whatever its members are doing instead of directing them in what they should be doing. Again, I quote:

“When children see every single spelling mistake covered in red they can feel useless and give up.”

The little dears. I’m sure Mr Sammonds and Ms Clarke will be proud to know in their retirement years that they contributed to a generation which doesn’t know right from wrong, or good from bad, and which will no doubt need psychiatric help when it discovers what real life is like once it leaves school – with the ubiquitous fifteen GCSEs (all A**) and the impression that it knows more than the rest of society put together.

This pair of idiots need someone to explain to them that children only react badly to red pen (and loads of other things the politically-correct brigade has jumped on) if they know that it is under scrutiny and they can win a point. And that in itself is because some moron in the past has given children the idea that they can decide what to learn – which is why half of them can’t read, can’t spell, and think that by answering a couple of multiple choice questions about gay civil partnerships they can become X Factor contestants when they leave school (well, it IS a job, isn’t it?).

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Well done to GP for passing his test yesterday afternoon – the last test of the year for me and the test centre – with just 9 driver faults.

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I was listening to the local news on the radio yesterday and there was a ‘top’ story where a certain high-street retailer/pharmacy was urging people to stock up on prescription medicines over the festive period.

Of course, on Saturday it was Big News that retailers were seeing an increase in shoppers but it was still a disastrous year and the sales are starting early to try and drag people in.

Maybe it’s just me, but this is about as cynical as you can get. The same store/pharmacy has previously advised people to throw medicines away if they have finished with them, and it is very big on stating the obvious (because not everything is obvious to a lot of people) – and yet its only defence here could be that it was talking about old medicines before, and now it is thinking of the Christmas shutdown.

Of course, poor recent sales wouldn’t have anything at all to do with it…

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