Month: April 2009

Indomitable spirit

Hi and let me start by saying "OW!"

I have been making excuses for not going to Taekwondo for a few weeks, there was the illness, the headaches, my stupid shifts, etc. Last week I didn’t go on the Wednesday because I’d failed my HGV driving test and was incredibly gutted. Anywho, yesterday I decided there would be no more excuses, back to it.

Come the hour, come the man. Yesterday I trotted to the local school for the lesson only to find it all locked up because the kids are on another bleeding holiday. D’oh!

Not to be beaten, I came home and got down to a serious work-out, with loads of kicking exercises, starting at breaking knee height, up to knockout head kicks. I finished off with a load of stretching exercises. This is the first time in a good while I’ve actually got around to doing that. It was, and should be, several times a week or more.

So, though I missed the class I was still feeling good about myself.

Tonight was another class, at St Helens, (about nine miles away) so I made the effort and went to that one.

They have a fight coming up soon, so we spent the whole hour sparring and fighting. I was drenched in sweat, as was most everyone else, and exhausted. Fighting in those chest protectors is like going for a run in a sauna, wearing a basque (don’t ask me how I know!) 

Loads of people were picking up minor injuries; clashing shins, toes bent back, one lad copped a kick to groin and several people had painful knee collisions. I was no exception, I had a few incidents where I kicked at the same time as my opponent and our shins collided, also kicking at someone’s body protector and caught their elbow instead.

What amazed me though was people were getting upset about it! Admittedly one or two of them were only kids so were excused, but the adults were whining as well!

What part of the concept of ‘martial art’ or ‘fight’ don’t you understand?

You fight and keep going until it’s over. There is no middle ground. At times it will hurt, but if you don’t keep fighting you can guarantee it will quickly hurt a lot more!

So I’m stiff and bruised and have drunk two and a half pints of pop since I got in to try and rehydrate.

That’s all the ‘go me’ side of it. The down side is, apart from a more realistic expectation of what martial arts entails, I was crap. My kicks weren’t too bad, but I couldn’t get my foot down quick enough after each one to put me back in a fighting position for a counter attack, and I just couldn’t seem to get outside of peoples range.

It was a good lesson for that. It showed me how bad I am, how much I need to improve, and in what basic areas. Well, all areas. But moving back whilst staying in fighting position, the speed of my reset after each attack, the range of my kicks and stringing combinations together. Everything, really.


I went, I saw, I got my arse kicked.

Back to the training.

Good news is I’m off for the weekend (Friday, Saturday, Sunday) and the shunters at work said they will try their very best to call me on Sunday and give me some lessons.

Off to exhausted sleep, me.



Worried, me

Hi all, I’ve had a turn around and again with my driving. I was inconsolably gutted after the fail and the realisation that the money was running out. Then I went in to work and a couple of the shunters at work were saying they would try and sort me out with some driving and pointers if they could ( they would have to do it unofficially, but they said they would try and sort me out tomorrow if they can manage it. I’ll be sure to write about it if they do) and then one of managers asked me how I’d done, when I said I’d failed again he said he’d see our main manager to try to get me some time with the site driver trainer for officially sanctioned training! Even better!

Today we had a driver backing onto the dock where I work, and he hit the guide barrier four times before he backed it in. I was a bit made up, I was thinking ‘I could have got that in from there in one shunt! They’ve given him a job, I’m a shoe-in!’

Then it all turned around again. I was talking to the union rep for the drivers and he reckons due to the stipulations of the company insurance policy they can’t employ drivers with less than two years experience. Totally bummed out.

Since I’ve got home I’ve been thinking about it and there are some hints of light at the end of the tunnel. The main transport manager said to bring in my license as soon as I’d passed and they would take me out for an assessment drive. If I was any good they would be able to call on me whenever they needed a driver. Surely he knows the limits of the company insurance policy as well as anyone.

Also there was that initial conversation I had way back, when I still worked nights, with that shunter. I was asking if it was worth taking the training and if DHL/Iceland employed new drivers. He said it was and they did, citing a recent case of a chap who had just passed his test (after being a welder by profession) and got his first driving job at ours, after passing the assessment drive. The story hadn’t ended well, he had a roll-cage full of stock fall on him and break his leg so they had sacked him (he was still on his probationary period). The point I was focused on was that they had given him a job with no experience.

Lastly there is the ‘warehouse to wheels’ scheme. If they are taking people off the shop floor and putting them through thousands of pounds of training to get them their artic license, it seems unlikely they are then going to say ‘off you trot to some other firm for two years while you get some experience.’ Logic would suggest that they must,therefore, employ new drivers.

Long and short of which is; I have grounds for hope, but cause to worry. Should I ever pass my bleeding test I will be straight into the office to find out where I stand. I have (a different) union rep rooting for me, that manager who is trying so hard to help me, as well as some of the drivers I know who will put a word in with the transport manager for me. On top of that I will be going straight to H&R. If they are doing ‘warehouse to wheels’ at our site, as H&R said they are, I would be willing to jump onto the end of that. If I could see me getting a driving job by the  end of the year I’ll stick it out at our place. If that is not going to happen I’ll just have to take what I can get to get the experience. Even if the pay per hour is actually a cut, the amount of hours I expect to be doing should cover it.

Good news is, I have a spiffy red artic toy truck. It’s about two feet long and it’s well cool. The only problem with it is it’s left hand drive! Damn the French! No wonder my reverses aren’t looking so clever!

Well those are my worries, but as Wendy would quote, ‘sufficient onto the day are the evils thereof’, no need to go looking for more.



PS now Sunday night. The drivers didn’t come good, I’ll have to see that manager tomorrow. However, the other union rep did say today to ignore that two years experience thing. So mixed opinions, but not a definite ‘no’.


Well I’m pissed off. I went for my test today. In practise I actually managed to do the reverse manoeuvre first time, no shunts. I was well made up thinking I had cracked it, my second go I totally ballsed it up, but with shunts made it in. At the test centre I totally lost it. It was going too near the barrier again so I took a shunt, but left it in a really weird position. Started to reverse and ended up in exactly the same place. So I took my final shunt, but then I was everywhere chasing the damned trailer. In the end he stopped me, said ‘you’re not going to get it in from there’ and again I’d failed before I left the test centre.

This time I only accrued four driver (minor) faults, as opposed to the eleven I had last time, but picked up two serious/ fail points. I clipped a kerb whilst trying to squeeze down the left hand lane of a two lane road (stupid, stupid, stupid) and mistook a line of waiting cars for parked, so tried to overtake them all! Incredibly stupid!

So, four minor errors, two stupid mistakes I shouldn’t repeat, but still not got the hang of that reverse.

I can’t afford to take any more lessons (not that I show any signs of getting the hang of reversing anyway) so I’ve just put in for four more hours and a test. Which is to say you pay for four hours, in which time you have a few reverses, an hour and a half run out, then your test for an hour and then your instructor drives you back, immeasurably gutted.

If I don’t pass next time (April the sixteenth) I reckon we can afford one more test, then that’s it. Until such times as Wendy gets a paid job, or I leave DHL/Iceland and risk getting a class two/ rigid driving job with more money.

The downer is I’m alright at the actual driving (two silly mistakes aside).

My instructor said on the first day ‘ a lot of people worry about the reverse. That’s what? Thirty five yards? It’s the other twenty one miles on the road you have to worry about.’

I beg to differ.

And he was still enthusing after this fail, saying how I could throw a good reverse in, and how well I’d done on the road, etc.

I can’t throw a good reverse in because I don’t know what I’m doing, and whilst instilling confidence is all good and well, without competence it is at best misplaced, at worst lethal.

One bit of advice I’ve heard off several drivers is to go and get a toy artic and play with it until I get my head around the concepts involved. I’ll nip Asda in a bit see if they’ve got any, if not Toys r us.

I’m tired, sweaty, and incredibly pissed off.

If at first you don’t succeed, don’t take up skydiving.