Archive for March, 2009

Deja vu

It’s that time again. Test tomorrow. I went for another four hours training today; I spent two hours practising my reverse, still only about 60/40, maybe 70/30. I got it in a quite a few times without him having to stop me, but I also had to have him stop me twice or three times, and had to take three shunts on one go. If you consider all the times he had to stop and correct me, the once I had to stop and start from scratch, and the three shunt fail, it’s probably more like 50/50. I have an hour tomorrow to try again before driving to the test centre.

The other two hours were spent with me driving around without any real need for instruction. I brushed one kerb (not a fail) then pulling into the last street (the one which my training placed is based on!) mounted the pavement (fail).

Bugger.

Still, unless they actually take me to that street I think I should be alright on the road. The first few minutes were a bit hairy; it’s a massively tight turn onto the street from the yard and some clown had parked a van just where you have to drive the cab to make the turn, which was focusing. Then I fumbled a gear change but after that I was chatting away whilst doing the business.

I was a lot nervous again. I was all buoyed up after my fail, knowing that I had it in me to pass on the road, but three weeks off and it had grown into a big scary monster again. Two minutes in the cab and I was a happy bunny again. Well, two minutes on the road anyway, pissed off with myself in the yard trying to suss that reverse out.

It’s a bigger course tomorrow, if I keep my head and make tiny corrections I think I could do it. Not will, but could. That is another issue I have with my reversing, I want to swing the trailer around, so I put loads of turn on the unit, get it in the right position and straighten up to come straight back, but because I had so much turn on by the time I’ve got the cab back behind the trailer, the trailer has carried on turning and gone too far. I really have not got my head around it. It will be the luck of the draw tomorrow. I could do it, but I only get one go at it (well, you could consider it three goes as I get two shunts, but it’s been taking me those and more in practise). If I understood what I was doing and how to do it I would be laughing. As it is I just keep steering one way and then another, then give up and take a shunt, and hope for the best.

Still, I feel reassured about my driving ability on the road part of the test. Take it steady, don’t do anything daft, and I reckon I can do that. I feel so much better in that than the rigid.

More on that story later…

The other news is my starring role on Gardeners World. I’ve already bemoaned my fate, being cast as the villain of the piece, but in case anyone missed it here is the link Luke helpfully sent me:

Here’s the episode in question: Is this the episode:

http://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/b00jgzfj/Gardeners_World_Specials_2009_For_Peats_Sake/ 

Go to 25 mins 51 seconds 😉

.. Infamy, notoriety and calumny. ..

..Here’s to destroying the planet with a big truck after tomorrow!  Which reminds me, apparently that lad who was saying he had a license but our works wouldn’t entertain him, not only was he banned, but now he has his license back he still has nine points on it!  A speeding ticket away from another ban. That will probably be why they’ve not given him a job!..

……Anywho, to bed, hopefully to get a restful sleep. I don’t feel terrified this time, I either nail the reverse or fail, I’m not scared about taking it out on the road…

..Fingers crossed,..

..Buck…

Kicking arse!

I’m back! Back blogging, but more importantly back at Taekwondo.

I missed the grading weeks back, had a week off sulking, then I was working or in pain from a headache or being inconvenienced by marriages. The longer I left it the harder it was to go back. There is my obsessive but transient interest in things, the fact that it is so much easier to say ‘Nah, I can’t be bothered tonight’ than go and sweat and suffer pain, and my worrying. The longer I left it the more nervous I was about returning. I was all uptight thinking they were going to say ‘What are you doing here? You quit’.

Stupid I know, I am paying good money to be put through such trials, but a real concern none the less. I was thinking the night before going ‘This time tomorrow I’ll be going TKD’ and getting stressed out.

Not as worry free as I keep trying to tell myself.

Anywho, I went and all was well. Nobody even commented on my absence. To get us used to moving with the blow Sah bum nim had us shove one of the target pads up the front of our chest protector/ body armour jobby. Then we were to take turns kicking each other with enough force to teach our bodies not to stand still when a blow was coming. You can be told, and indeed understand and agree with, something without implementing it in the heat of the moment. Once you’ve had your solar plexus knocked through the small of your back once or twice your body reacts to what your brain has already accepted. Incoming kick = pain and injury. Therefore, if you can’t dodge it, move with it to absorb the impact.

To be honest I think the training pad made it worse. The chest protector covers the whole of your chest (hence the name) therefore would have spread the blow over the whole of your stomach/ chest. With the ‘P’ shaped pad under it the blow was solidly on your solars. Well, the first guy I had was determined to do his worst. He was letting it rip with all he had. His right leg kicks were really hurting and battering my solars. Then he swapped to his left, which is his gay leg, and I could actually breath. Then it was my turn. He wasn’t loving my right leg kicks, then I swapped over to my left, which due to my right being the stiffer of the two is actually my better leg. Oh yes, he knew suffering!

Still it did what it was supposed to; trained our bodies to move to avoid the pain. If I’d have been with the guy I had when we swapped partners I probably wouldn’t have got it. He was tapping me in a way that didn’t instil pain, fear, or reaction.

Also it made me realise that what I know is enough to seriously ruin someone’s day. As Sah bum nim said, you are trying to kick them in the solar plexus so they double up, then you can finish them off with an easy head kick. I hadn’t realised how powerful the kicks actually were until last night.

That really hurt, my stomach is still sore. To be on the receiving end of a kick launched in earnest would be a deeply unpleasant experience.

One bad thing about going back to class is the lack of dojo discipline. Sah bum nim was trying to teach us stuff and (perhaps because she’s a female of the opposite sex) the lads there were talking over here and trying to correct her. She’s a second dan black belt, some poxy green belt was trying to correct her!She was trying to make some point at the end of the class but due to the interruptions she had to be reminded twice what she was saying and forgot her point by the time she had it half out.

I don’t know if it’s due to the army, or Karate, or basic manners, but when your superior speaks you shut up and listen. That’s either my basic belief or it has been instilled in me so utterly that it’s indistinguishable from my own nature. I was cringing with contact embarrassment every time some gobshite spoke. If I was her I would have everyone stood to silent attention while I instructed. In Karate the times for chatting and banter were before the lesson, a bit in warm up, then after the lesson. If there was talking he would say ‘More Karate, less chatter’. Hmm, notice the pronoun.

So that’s good.

Today I paid off that stupid fine, did the shopping, then sorted out my garden.

Seeing as Wendy (the Mrs, heheheh) wants the top end to be a flower garden, I was left with a relatively small area for veg. I had put that barrel pond in when we moved in, and it was right in the centre of the space at the bottom of garden. Yesterday I had a moment of epiphany; screw the barrel pond! The frogs all died or deserted, I’ve not seen that newt but the once and it’s just a breeding ground for gnats. I removed it today, filled the hole with the household waste from the green bin, went and got a load of horse manure from a local farm to top it off and dug it all over.

Now I have tons of room for veggies! Huzzah!

Planted out my red onion seedlings and have loads of room for cauli’s when they sprout.

Today is a good day.

Later,

Buck.

PS, forgot to mention, I was headache free until this morning. Today I woke up with the pressure in my right temple. It wasn’t killer, and I noticed my nose did feel blocked. I hammered the spray all day and it has gone off, without ever developing into a serious headache. Perhaps with time the spray will work it’s magic and I will stop having headaches all together. Here’s hoping.

PPS, Wendy has been a year and five months without a seizure, if she makes it to two years she can apply for her provisional license and learn how to drive. I keep telling her it would be a good thing to have the license even if she never used it. She could drive herself to church (as I work two out of three Sundays), could nip and see Emma (her sister-in-law) if she was bored while I’m out, could come and pick me and the bike up next time I crash, etc, etc. There is no bad. She, however is not very adventurous. ‘I can’t do it. I’ve left it too late to learn.’ and other such nonsense. So, being the kind and responsible person I am, I took her for an introduction to driving starter today. On an empty car park (on private land, m’lud) I gave her a go. I figured if she could have half a dozen goes, and finally got the hang of setting off without kangarooing or stalling, she would realise she could learn this car driving lark. So I took her through it; gear stick in neutral, clutch depressed, start the engine, release the handbrake, up the revs, bring up the clutch and…, off she went. First time! Slight juddering, but I’ve done worse. She was a nervous wreck after the few minutes she had playing at it, but I was most impressed. It’s not like the mighty Micra has the power to compensate for poor clutch control. Go Wendy!

Day off, huzzah!

Finally got a weekend off. It’s been six weeks since my last proper one. (My last actual one, three weeks ago, I was dying with that cold and had the sinus pain issues. I would have preferred to have been working and well, than off and in that state.)  I had lots of vague plans about what I was going to do, i.e. gardening and generally pottery about having a good time. Not a bleeding bit of it.

I had a few chores to do; shopping, nipping to town to the bank (while I was there I wanted to nip to Wilkinson’s to spend my £10 voucher that I got off Iceland for Xmas on lovely plants), and nip my sisters to drop off a (day late) card for her youngest.

I went to do the shopping at about half past ten. Half past ten, mind you. Not dinner time, not after work on a Friday, not Saturday or Sunday. Half past ten on a week day. It was chocker. Every doddering idiot, coffin dodger, and work-shy chav was in Asda. Why? They were out in force, all determined to stroll around and stop and chat in the middle of the narrowest isles, blocking my  passage (ooer, Mrs.!). Don’t let my attempts to shop interrupt your conversation you bovine, slack-jawed, ignorant, embodiment of the argument for compulsory euthanasia.

So that went well.

Then there was the ‘nip’ to town. Some fool in the council has decided it would be a fun idea to block of one of the main roads through Warrington. The joy just keeps coming. It had a knock-on effect of stopping dead all the roads that stray vaguely near the closed one.

So I aborted the card dropping off mission. I got home to find a letter on my mat from some debt collection agency saying I owe them £80. Apparently the DVLA had passed them the bill for collection after I had repeatedly ignored their letters about registering my Bandit. The last time I did the paperwork for the Bandit I informed them that it was SORN, and that I  had moved address. Sorn declarations are free, but only when the DVLA send the damn reminder to the right address. Oh yes indeed, that lifted my mood still further. I ran upstairs, went online to the thrice damned DVLA, and their website says ‘when changing address you have to send your registration document back to have the address changed.’

I changed my license details (with the DVLA. A pox on them) and assumed that all my driving details would be updated. Or at least that they would have the wit to check if my license details had changed before hitting me with an £80 bill and handing it over to a debt recovery agency. Especially as SORN is free. A curse on the DVLA and all who sail on her.

When the rage had subsided, after I’d had time to realise they had me and all I could do was bend over and take it like a man, I moped off to my garden, a broken and beaten man. The sun had moved round, the garden was in shadow and it was cold. Of course.

I did manage to get the washing done and dry, strangely satisfying. Also I went to Wilkinson’s and got some flowers (mainly dahlias). I went to B&Q as well. It being such a pleasant week I was expecting both places to be chocker block with lovely plants, a cornucopia of colour, a smorgasbord of scents.

No.

Bulbs, pansies, trees. Bugger.

I got some seeds whilst there, and some ‘blood, fish and bone’ plant food for my trees. (And me a veggie, Buddhist-wannabe!) It was a three kilo box, opened it up and shook some around my four fruit trees and put the remainder on my acers. Then, as I was throwing the box away I noticed it said you should sprinkle two ounces per square yard! Damn and blast! I know there are twenty eight grams to an ounce, so in three kilos there are a bloody lot of ounces.

Don’t know how many grams there are in a kilo. If it’s a thousand, as I suspect, I’ve just put enough food out for fifty one square yards of orchard or whatever. Bugger. If it doesn’t kill them they should be like Jack’s beanstalk by the end of the season.

The silver lining to this particular dark and lowering cloud of a blog entry is that when talking to one of the night shunters at work I said about that lad putting in his license and being ignored. He said "bald lad, from the freezer, nights?" I said it was he. Phil (the shunter) said he had been banned, and had applied for a job as a shunter whilst disqualified! He has only just got his license back and he still has points. That is why he has been so comprehensively ignored. Phew! Hope renewed. Also today I got the cheque in the post for our holiday in Scotland. Then posted off my V5 for the Bandit. Now I’m going to dye my hair.

L’Oreal.

Because I’m worth it.

Later,

Buck.

Doctor. Result!

I finally had had enough and decided, in desperation to see the doctor. I had another shitty headache yesterday and thought enough was enough. Given my track record with doctors (i.e. I crawl in, ask for help, get fobbed off) it was a last ditch thing. I had tried the alternatives; painkillers, doing nothing, and whining like a bitch, to no noticeable avail. So without any real hope of resolution I trotted off to the doc’s this morning. At least I could comfort myself that I had exhausted my options.

Big surprise. All change down the doctors. It looks nicer, more professional. It’s still a pre-fab, but it has a look of solidity and roomy-ness. Previously it was like sitting in a bus shelter with sick people. Anywho, cosmetics aside, when I got to see her (the doctor) she gave me a thorough service. Prodded my head, took my blood pressure, checked ears, nose and throat, and most importantly of all, actually seemed like she had an interest in resolving my issue!

Hoo-bleeding-rah!

She reckoned it was either migraine or a problem with my snotter. She said the lining on my nose was thick, and it could be that that is preventing the mucus from draining, hence sinus pain. (Doctors, they have no fear of being disgustingly biological.)

She had prescribed a sinus spray, with any luck that will be that. If not, I’m to trot back lickety-split (to quote Arnold Judas Rimmer off Red Dwarf) and we’ll go down the ‘tough tits, it’s a migraine, deal with it’ route.

I am hopeful the spray will do it. That is way better than a brain tumour or something else that could have buggered my driving. The only down side is the spray goes up your nose, then a few minutes later dribbles down the back of your throat. Eugh!

While I’m here and touching on driving, I met a chap I used to know from the night shift yesterday. We got to talking about where I was up to on my driving and he asked where I was hoping to find work. I said at ours (Iceland/ DHL). I said that they will take you for an assessment drive, maybe get in that way. He said he’s put his license in five times in the last thirteen months and heard nothing.

Turns out he has a class one license (has held it for the last six years). That was worrying. However, he said he has points on his license. Hopefully that is why. A lot of the adverts state no more than six points, no drink driving. Mine is now clean. I didn’t think to ask, but it’s to be hoped that he has at least six and that is the reason they have shown no interest.

Well, if not ours, I’ll get a job somewhere. I am going to have to work really hard not to pick up any points though. When I am driving that won’t be a problem, you’re on the clock, and being paid to drive. Stick to the speed limit and listen to the money thundering into my piggy bank.

Anyway, got to get ready for work,

Later

Buck.

Spring’s here!

Wow, what a lovely morning. I’m on 2-10 this week so I can’t enjoy the whole day, but I had two hours in the garden this morning and it was lovely. I’ve planted two lots of gladioli, calabrese (standard and quick heading), parsley and rocket. Yesterday I moved all the wallflowers from their overwintering positions into flowering sites, planted out red onion seeds, parsnips and cauliflower.

We have daffodils flowering, snowdrops, hyacinth, crocuses and the remains of the cyclamen and hellibores. The forsythia is coming into bloom, the willow is putting out catkins and the fruit trees are all bursting forth. As is acer ‘orange dream’, which is only a baby (new last year) and it’s well outstripping the three year established acer ‘inabe shidare’.

The garden is bursting into life, drying out, and starting to look like something other than a mud pit. Spiffing.

If the weather holds until Friday I’m going to have a whale of a time in the garden. It’s my long weekend off, and Wendy will be at CAB, so it’s a full day in the garden dicking about for the Buckster.

Doubtless there will be a snow storm Thursday night, and a blizzard all day Friday.

So the garden is starting to be exciting again, I have my HGV lesson on the last day of the month, test again on the 1st. Hopefully that will be an end of it. Also my Russian is progressing apace (ie slowly!)

Now I have to get back to the other ongoing commitments, Taekwondo, and doing my IAM car training. The TKD has been suffering from an extraordinary run of bad luck, and it’s got to the stage now where I expect everyone will have thought I’ve left and I face an embarrassing return. Got to be done though. Once I start again I will be OK, but at the moment it’s an awful temptation just to quit and have an easy life! NO! BAD BUCKY! The car thing as well. I now know I can pass the truck test (driving part) so it seems a waste of time taking the car lessons. Still, I’ve paid for it, and anything that gives me an edge is worth having.

Right, got to go and think about dinner and getting ready for work.

Live long and prosper,

Buck.

Bastard!

It was the reverse! I failed on the first exercise, before I’d even got out of the gate of the test centre. I said I wasn’t getting it, and I bloody well wasn’t. To rub salt in the wounds the examiner and my instructor both said I had it lined up perfectly to go in the first time, but to me it looked all to bollocks so I took a shunt (which is to drive forwards try reversing again). I ended up needing three shunts, you are only allowed two. Fail. Apparently I also stopped short of the bay, but you are allowed to get out and check (if you haven’t already failed and can’t be arsed), and I dinged a no entry sign with the back of my trailer on the way out for good measure, but it was on the blind side and couldn’t be seen from the cab so I didn’t notice and neither did the examiner. HAH! Score one for the Buck.

Then I did an hours drive around an unknown course, with some hideously tight corners that took all my skill and every inch of the road to avoid crashing, and would have passed on that part. I got eleven minor driver faults. You can get fifteen and still pass. That might sound skin of the teeth, but I didn’t make one serious mistake. Not forgetting that on my fourth attempt at a rigid, after forty four hours driving, I passed with fifteen driver errors! That was skin of the teeth!

The minors are just little things, one he got me on was when he told me to pull in on the left. I checked my mirrors, indicated when I knew I was safe to do so, then pulled in. I got a minor for not leaving a few seconds between indicating and moving in to the side. I’d checked it, it was safe, but it didn’t give Dolly daydreamer time to wake up and notice the signal. So minors are inevitable. There’s always room for improvement. When you are juggling the amount of information you have to be constantly processing, slight errors will creep in.

If I could have nailed that bloody reverse I would be waving a class one license about now. Damn and blast.

To remain positive; I now know that if I can suss the reverse manoeuvre I can pass on the road. That, at least, is a huge weight off my mind. Also, I tackled some hideous corners, sight unseen, on my own interpretation of them. This is what I need to pass an employers assessment drive. I more or less know the usual route my works take you on for an assessment. All the bits of it that filled me with stark dread a week ago I now know I can negotiate.

I’m taking another four hours on the 31st of March, hammer the reverse and refresh myself on the road, then retaking my test on the 1st. So, Friday the 13th and April Fool’s Day. How can I fail?

I’m off for a nap, didn’t get sleep till gone twelve, three twenty four I was wide awake worrying.

Bugger.

Later,

Buck.

PS I’ve added a picture of a rather fine example of the kind of chop I want when I finally do pass, get a driving job, pay off my debts and buy a garage and a garden with a house. If anyone is impatient, all Harley chops gratefully received.

Aaaarrrggghhhhhhh!

Here we go again. Test day tomorrow, bricking it!

I was out again today, and I didn’t do too bad. He took me around the worst test course that the test centre has (one so bad he reckons I’m only likely to be taken on it if I get a visiting examiner who is only familiar with that route. He reckons the regular examiners are scared to take an artic with full forty four foot trailer around it!) he talked me around it more than I would have liked ( I’m not sure if that is how it would have gone if I’d have been left to my own interpretation of the situation) but I managed even the tightest corners. Now the test is whether I can interpret a corner as I’m approaching it, get it all slowed to the appropriate speed, appropriate gear, take both lanes if I need to, and take the right line through the corner first time every time, without input from an instructor.

Obviously if I can’t I don’t deserve to have the license, but you don’t want your test to be the first time you’ve tried!

Also I’m still struggling with my reverse manoeuvre. I couldn’t emulate that brilliant bit of driving from yesterday. It must have been pure luck. Bugger. However, on the penultimate attempt today, he stopped me and explained that I should always be aiming to bring it in using my right hand side. That way you can actually look out of the cab and see where you are going, and you don’t block your vision with your own trailer. Don’t ask me why, it made sense when he was telling me. Anyway, when I tried it like that on my last attempt, I managed to get the damn thing in the bay. All the technical bits I can piss though. Uphill /downhill start, picking a safe place to pull over to stop, angled start around stationary vehicles, etc. So it’s my reverse and interpreting the road correctly tomorrow. Deep breath, don’t panic, just drive.

On the bright side, today whilst I was out I refrained from killing a mother with pram. I was tootling along in an apparently hard to spot sixty foot wagon, with only six or seven L plates and three foot high lettering proclaiming it to be a training vehicle, when some dickhead taxi driver overtakes me on the dual carriageway, then pulls straight across my front into a side street. The side street  was right in front of the wagon so he had no time to asses the situation, just cut me up and dive for the street. Unfortunately there was a pedestrian already crossing, pushing a pram/ chair thingy. He had to slam on, there was nowhere for me to go so I just had to stand on the brakes, and happily stopped before I hit him. Having sixteen tyres on the road, air brakes, and no load make for nippy braking. I didn’t really think about it, just thought I’d have mashed his car, but the instructor pointed out that if I’d have hit him  (I think he mentioned twelve tons weight of trailer and unit) the force would have knocked his car into next week. If his wheels had have been in the right (wrong) direction he would have then spatted straight through the woman and child. So brownie points for the Buckster. The stupid arse taxi driver then had the audacity to wave his fist and shout at the pedestrian who’s right of way it was! I rather feel he realised he’d just made a complete twat of himself in front of his fare and felt he had to pass the buck. Either that or he thought some hairy arsed trucker was about to get out and express extreme displeasure in a physical fashion.

Whatever, kudos to Bucky. Today I killed 0 people. If I can do as well tomorrow it will probably count in my favour on the test.

The instructor says he thinks I’ve got a good chance, if I don’t pass it will be one fault, easily corrected, get it right next attempt. Easy for him to say. So much of it is test nerves. I know I can more or less do the job, but the pass standard is so high that I can’t afford to make one mistake. God, I will be so happy when I pass this one. Not that I think it will be tomorrow. I hope it will, but when I do pass it will be such a relief. The tests are hellish on your nerves. I’ll be all done then. The ADR course is just knowledge acquisition and demonstrating an understanding through a multiple choice test. I know I will pass that first time.

Ah well, off to bed. Probably to wake at three in a state of panic.

Later,

Buck.

Getting there

Today has been better. I clipped one pavement, and struggled with that bloody reverse manoeuvre, but other than that it was a lot better.

I woke up this morning. and more or less my first thought was ‘hang on, no matter what vehicle you were in, if  you were too close to an object steering in to it would not have avoided it’. Double bugger. Any vehicle that has front wheel steering and a fixed set of back wheels must turn around the back axle. The front wheels turn the front of the vehicle but the pivot point must be the rear wheel. In other words if you get the back axle clear of an object you can put your steering on full lock and not hit it. So not only did I take out those railings, but I then deluded myself as to why.

The pavement I clipped (OK, mounted, damn you) today was at an offset island. The painted hump in the road was to the right of centre on what would have otherwise been a large open T junction. You were drawn helplessly into steering to the left of the painted island. The instructor warned me to steer straight across it, and that it was a huge temptation to try and steer around the island, but steer straight across it. Even hearing all this, and him saying "don’t steer to the left, don’t steer to the left" as I’m on the island, my hands still moved the wheel over to the left. Damn those treacherous hands! If only there were some way to bring them under control and bend them to my will!

Well, that was a pain. the other instance of lack of control on a cornering exercise was where the road was approaching a roundabout. It opened up into two lanes, there were hash markings on the road and a raised pavement with railings. All of these things are clues that the corner is going to be a bastard for trucks. So I went in a bit wide, pinching some of the next lane, got my front into the island then fixated on getting my arse end through without hitting the pavement. I saw it was getting tight so I swang the cab out further into the next lane. Right idea, but I should have gone in holding that line. As it was if there had been anyone beside me I would have squashed them like the insignificant car-driving bug they were. There wasn’t anyone there, thankfully.

The other source of stress is that reversing exercise. You have to start in one lane, reverse backwards and to the side to line up in a different lane, with a lane or two (road lanes size) separating them. I’m still having to be told what to do. On my last attempt today I started by doing what he said, then went my own way a bit. Instead of starting the turn, straightening up, moving diagonally across the yard, then turning in to the coned bay (which for me involves taking two shunts to straighten up and reverse) I started the turn, then as soon as it was turned did a huge turn in the other direction. This essentially just put the trailer through a huge ‘S’, leaving me straight on to the bay, and most of the yard in which to make a few tiny adjustments as I reversed straight in. I’ll give it another go tomorrow, if I can repeat the manoeuvre I’ve got it sussed. If not, and I have to return to learning the other way, I’ve got a long way to go.

The instructor keeps bulling me up, saying how I’m off a really good standard, I stand a really good chance of passing and not to beat myself up over little mistakes. If I miss a gear don’t flap, just try again, find the gear and move on. He keeps telling me that I have no reference by which to judge my performance but he’s seen lots of people, and I’m among the better ones.

At first I found this encouraging. Today, as I was going for my third attempt at the reverse manoeuvre, I couldn’t help but be a tad irritated by it. I still don’t know what I’m doing, so it is pointless saying I’m doing well.

And now I have another bleeding headache. I think it’s to do with my sini (sinuses, according to some). It’s weird but over the last six months I seem to be getting them all the time. On the one hand I want to get it sorted out ( I don’t want a head cold putting me through the amount of pain I was in with that last bad cold) but A, the doctors never treat me when I do go, and B, what if it affects my eligibility to drive trucks? That would be too ironic. It seems to always be in my right temple, and as it gets worse it feels like the pain is coming from my right eye as well. It could be as simple as a malignant brain tumour, or a headache. I might get my eyes tested again, I am at the age when eyesight starts to go. No, I’ve just thought; I was two days with hardly any light and still in incredible pain.

If my brain doesn’t explode within the next few weeks, here is a possible destination for our holiday :   http://www.directholidayhomes.co.uk/sprop_ref_938.html

Cheap, in the sticks and not on a ‘holiday camp’, I googled one near Loch Lomond and the satellite view looked like a POW camp. Row upon row of caravans, about four hundred in regimented rows. The thought of a possible eight hundred rampaging kids is enough to make me never go on holiday again.

Kids should have kennels so the parents could rejoin the human race for a fortnight. Hmmm, business opportunity there. What is the number for those Dragons Den tossers? On second thoughts, if you are rich enough to afford it they already have institutes where you can absolve yourself of the onerous task of parenthood; boarding schools. Buggery. (Apt as that is part of the curriculum.)

Right, off to try and get better, poorly Bucky again,

Later

Buck.

Bugger!

Spoke too soon. All going swimmingly, quietly competent, HAH!

I’ve changed my mind. I’m taking to it like a duck to ballet. I thought I was doing alright, not killed anyone, not too nervous, seemed like all was spiffy, just one lesson and all.

Turns out I was in the ‘unconsciously incompetent’ phase; where I didn’t know how much I didn’t know. I was wondering how I was supposed to judge the tighter corners when as you turn into them, the trailer blocks your view in one mirror, and the other is pointing at nothing in particular. Wasn’t overly concerned as I seemed to be doing it anyway. Then we came to an island today. Obviously you are all aquiver with the amount of things you are trying to do at once in that situation. You have to line the truck up, bring your speed down, select the appropriate gear, try to keep moving, then leap into any gap in the traffic with all sixty foot of wagon.

I was doing all of the above, spotted a gap and went for it. The instructor said "you’re too tight on the left." I looked in my mirror and sure enough I had started steering too soon and my trailer was heading for the pavement and there were railings on the edge. I acted instinctively, which is to steer the front end in, around the corner. This would have put the arse end out and clear in a car or rigid truck. Not so in an artic. I smacked the trailer straight into the railings and dragged along them! Bollocks!

We had to stop and check that I’d not made the trailer un-roadworthy (it was just a tad scuffed). If that had have been a car or a pedestrian, well, there probably wouldn’t have been a lot down for them.

So then I started to understand what he meant about steering out until your rear axle is clear, then start steering in, keeping an eye on the wide angle mirrors, and chase the cab along the line of the pavement.

So I’ve made the leap to ‘consciously incompetent’, I now know how much I don’t know.

At this rate I’m on schedule. The next level is ‘consciously competent’ where I have to think about every action but then get it right, crack that tomorrow, then I just have ‘unconsciously competent’ where I instinctively do the right thing. Polish that on Thursday, then walk my test on Friday!

Easy when you think about it.

Those who don’t want to know the result of Friday’s test, bury your head in your hands now.

After yesterday going so well (apart from the reverse, which is a nightmare) I really thought I was going to sail through this, maybe even pass first time. Now I’m back to my default position; that I just keep trying until I do pass. Big come down.

We’ll see how tomorrow goes. If I’ve taken on board the things I was doing wrong today, and sussed how to correct them, there is hope. Apart from mounting a few pavements (each incidence a test fail), trying to demolish that barrier (big fail) and not being very good at the reverse procedure, all I have to worry about is preparation and planning.

Those bloody yellow chequered boxes! Fine in a car, just don’t move into one unless you can move through it. Not such an easy decision when you are in a sixty foot vehicle. Especially when it is before some lights, and possibly hidden by stopped traffic. The lights change you move off, traffic shunts up and stops again just as you are driving into a box you hadn’t noticed. Or you pull up in front of some lights and there is a side street thirty foot back from them, you have just blocked it. Preparation and planning prevent piss poor performance, as we used to say in the army. But there is only experience can arm you sufficiently to prepare. As Sah Bum Nim says at Taekwondo "They say practise makes perfect, it doesn’t. Perfect practise makes perfect!"

Soldier on. It’s still not as much of change as from Micra to rigid. That really was horrible. This is bad, but it does feel like it’s just a matter of applying what I am learning, and polishing skills I already have.

I’m a tad miffed tonight, see what tomorrow brings.

Later,

Buck.

Back to driver training

Well, after all the excitement of the wedding I’m back to the day to day stuff. I went out for my first lesson in an artic yesterday. I did that one drive up and down a straight road before, but yesterday was the biggy. Forty four foot trailer, dirty great DAF unit. Bloody huge.

He told me to drive it up the big straight road I went to on my assessment, not a problem, do a U-turn at the top, fine and dandy, drive back, easy peasy, take the next left onto the main road, DO WHAT?

And that was my warm up done. One tootle up and down a quiet road, then out into the real world in the best part of sixty foot of truck!

Stunningly, it wasn’t so bad. A lot better than my first two tests in a rigid. That was thirty two hours of driving and I was still rigid with fear. From the offset (he says, deliberately refraining from using that hideous Americanism ‘ from the get-go’. Damn their pervasive media and bastardisation of our language. "This is the language of Shakespear, keats, the bible" to loosely quote Higgins from "My fair lady" -though not, as I recall from the book Pygmalion.)

Meanwhile, back at the Buck-cave, I was talking about my driving. From the offset…, I was quietly competent. As the instructor said, "now you know you could steal an artic. You might clip a few pavements, but you could drive it away." You can tell we are not far from Liverpool!

I had issues with the reversing into a bay exercise, but after I’d done it he explained that they’ve set their course up shorter and narrower than at the test centre, so if you can crack it in their yard you can piss it at the centre. I like the attitude. As the Russian army are reported to say, "Train hard, fight easy."

Right, time is slipping away, it’s time to don my fat suit, crack open a Yorkie bar and slip my Sun newspaper in my bum cleavage. Let’s go to work.

By the way, when I’d finished yesterday and got back into the mighty Micra I burst out laughing. It was like getting into a toy car! Dinky little steering wheel, biddy gear stick, titchy car.

Time to terrify some more car drivers.

Later,

Buck.