Driving instructors are the bravest of souls and deserve their own day | Alun Newman

We’re all different, we’re all individuals.Don’t judge, unless of course your answer to this next question is different to mine.

By Alun Newman
Tuesday, 15th March 2022, 6:00 am

Here’s the question.

Did you ‘pass’ first time?

Your reaction at this point will say a lot in the world of hierarchy, driving skills and judgement.

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First time or fifth time - it really doesn't matter. Picture: Adobe Stock

If you drive, then at some stage in your life you will have been asked this question.

If it was a ‘yes’ then you probably just felt a palpable sense of smugness chemicals being deployed from your brain.

If it was a ‘no’ then you’ll have the reasoning ready and probably well-rehearsed over the years.

For example: ‘I would have passed but the instructor hated me.’ ‘An eagle hit the windscreen.’ ‘I couldn’t understand the examiner's strong Welsh accent.’ ‘All the best drivers passed the second time.’

Well, something along those lines.

If it took more than two attempts, your heart sinks a little bit because you know the Spanish Inquisition is heading your way and they won’t move on until they’ve had some good quizzical fun at your expense.

For those who pass on the fourth or more attempt, then it’s often easier to pretend to faint, let the person you are with call an ambulance, get taken to A&E then get admitted and stay in for a few days.

This would be preferable to the guffawing and laughing at your expense.

All good quality judgement is usually done behind people's backs.

But not when it comes to driving tests.

This is one of the rare exceptions when shaming someone is seen as almost a requirement.

Unfortunately for my family, we have a legacy of first-time passers – father, mother, siblings, wife, eldest child – we all passed the first time.

Its a legacy that I couldn’t give a monkey’s about (not true) until we’re all round a dinner table and we spot easy prey, like a new boyfriend. It helps bed them in and also gives a measure of their character.

My youngest daughter has started driving and she is utterly brilliant at so many things. However, I thought driving may be a challenge as she muddles her left and right under pressure – a key element of driving and road safety.

I actually felt nervous for her driving instructor.

These men and women must be some of the bravest and most patient people on the planet. I don’t know how they do it.

I went out with my daughter to the industrial estate for a very slow mooch around and I was terrified. Just as we seemed to by breaking the 3mph speed record I saw that we were heading for a massive dustbin. Stay quiet, I thought. She’ll see it. It was bigger than Ben Nevis. Slowly we headed towards it.

I calmly mutter: ‘bin’. Nothing.

A louder: ‘bin’. Still nothing.

‘Bin, bin, bin, bin!’ Handbrake. Pause. Defibrillator. Smile.

My daughter’s response was: ‘Oh yeah, I forgot to look as I was concentrating on my feet and the pedals.’

I appreciate that instructors have dual controls with an accelerator and a brake pedal, even so, to have to concentrate for hours a day with every possible newbie capable of making a rash decision, let alone the first-timers who are looking at their feet, not the road.

I think driving instructors should get a national day, a moment of recognition that they are superhuman.

They are brave, fearless and more patient than Mother Teresa.

The strapline for the day could be: ‘Mirror, signal and manoeuvre yourself into position to say thanks to these amazing individuals.' (Granted that needs some work).

In the meantime let's all give them plenty of space as one of them could be teaching my daughter and anything could happen.

No such thing as a simple handshake any more

I’ve yet to fully decide how I feel about this, so I thought I’d share it with you for your thoughts.

It’s fair to say that there are no end of ways to make some additional cash. And it does seem, generally speaking, that large companies are looking to ‘monetise’ everything (this used to be simply ‘make money' but it’s been simplified to make life slightly more complicated).

These companies don’t want to miss a trick.

It is with this notion in mind that I draw your attention to the company behind the Great British Bake-off which has reportedly ‘trademarked’ host Paul Hollywood’s famous Handshake. This is an extraordinary move.

Could it ever get to the stage when you reach out to greet a friend with a handshake they could refuse because they don’t want to pay a royalty fee?

Could the exact requirements of the handshake be laid out in law? Such as: The official Hollywood Handshake must be given after a high quality baked good, followed by a dramatic pause and then shake while staring at them with piercing blue eyes. The recipient of the official handshake must react with a low-level shriek. Turn to friends and shout ‘I don’t believe it’ and then finish with: ‘I’ve never made brownies before!’

These could be the strict conditions that follow the ‘monetising’ of an act that was once simply a nice way of saying ‘well done.'

Be careful in future. If you see a hand reaching out, check the terms and conditions before reciprocating.​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​