Jam tomorrow

I remember!

I sat down to update my blog yesterday with the intention of setting down the running tally for this bleeding driving malarkey. To get my class C (rigid/ class 2) license it cost me £2,163! Two thousand, one hundred and sixty three of Her Majesty’s pounds!

The original course (20 hours driving and a test, with medical, theory test and paperwork) was £849.

I’ve just paid out another £99 for this IAM course. So the running tally is £2,262.

I think I’ll wait until I’ve finished and passed my Advanced Motorist course before I go in for the C+E (artic/ class 1) course. If I could pass that first time it would ‘only’ be about another £850. Then I might need a digital tachometer course, a mere £35, and I would like an ADR course (hazardous materials handling course) which is about £500.

So, best case would be about £3,500. The word from the drivers at work is that Eddie Stobbarts pay their artic drivers less than £8 per hour!

However, get my C+E, get any driving job for the experience, then look (with the ADR certificate, which is valid for five years) for a job as a petrol tanker driver. This is the game plan.

I have printed off an advert from jobcentre plus. It’s for C+E driver, experience not essential, with ADR certificate for tankers. Agency work for six months, but it is £14.80 – £15.93 an hour!

I’ll have a slice of that pie, thank you very much.

I’m keeping the advert, and when I have the licenses, the ADR, and preferably a bit of experience with any artic I’ll be pestering them. Even if it is only a temporary contract with an agency, once I’ve got tanker experience on my CV, I’ll be pestering all the firms. I’m fair sure that at the end of that strike last year the government caved in and made it possible for the drivers to have big pay rises. I think the unions were saying it would put their members on £38,000 p.a., but the employers were saying it was more like £45,000. There are a bunch of oil refineries dotted all around here. Ellesmere port and Liverpool are both within commuting distance. For that kind of cash the Scottish off-shore oil fields are commutable.

Then maybe get my license for helicopters. How hard can it be? Bike, car, truck. Damn, missed a trick there, if only I’d have taken my cycling proficiency.

So that was one thing; setting up a running tally, and desperately hoping I can get a job that will pay for all the debt into which the training is putting us.

What else?

Well, I’ve been off for my long weekend (Friday, Saturday, Sunday). It comes around every three weeks, but with the six day working it is the first I’ve had in ages. Thoroughly enjoyed it.

We nipped around Wendy’s brothers’ yesterday (Addo, on ‘my friends’). Wendy was talking to the Beth (Black Rose, ‘my friends’) who is a gothy like us, and Beth was saying she was glad she had gothy people around her when she was growing up to inform her taste. Wendy pointed out that Beths sister (Loretta, ‘my friends’) had us and her mum around her as well, but she’d grown up into playboy pink outfits. To which Beth sagely replied "Yes, but she went over to the light side." Lol!

That’s about it really. I must admit that in putting it down on ‘paper’ that stuff about how much this is all costing has me a little nervous. However, as I consoled myself in my nervous doubt about ever passing my class 2 with the thought of the driver at work’s lad taking five attempts to pass his test, I have to think that I tried a few years back to become an I.T. trained geezer.  I couldn’t get a career development loan so I couldn’t do it, but that was for about £3,000. Then last year at my Karate club one of the chaps who was a career I.T. geezer said he’d lost his job and couldn’t get another in the economic climate so was training to be a plumber.

This must be about my fourth (at least) attempt to better my job prospects (abortive I.T. training, ditto electrician, as above plumber, training to be a C.A.B. advisor with a view to a career, joining Asda as they were going to put me on management training, and now the driving) but having gained the class 2 license I have already succeeded in this one. Now I just need to keep going.

I’m going to ask that driver at work to get his lad to get me an application form for the class 2 job, I’ll keep my eye on the t’interweb for driving jobs to pay the bills and get experience, but in the meantime just stay at work, do my advanced driving, and take the artic when I can. I’m not looking forward to this year. It’s going to be more expense, the stress of the test (s) -an hour and a half test for artics-, then the hassle of interviews and blagging why they should give me the job when I have no experience, then the actually sitting in the cab, on my own, and setting off for the first time! Not looking forward to that with any sense of joy. But hopefully this time next year all of the above stress will be behind me, I’ll be wondering what all the fuss was about, and I’ll be raking in a decent wage.

Right, bed-time. Back to the toil tomorrow.

Live long and prosper,


IAM, I’m me

Hello, I’m back. I’ve finally come down off my ‘pass’ high, well, a bit. I’ve got the paperwork through for that IAM (Institute of Advanced Motoring) jobby, with the accompanying ‘How not to drive like a muppet’ book. Apparently it’s to teach you how to drive like a copper. I’m not up to the chapter on mastering a Masonic handshake whilst drunk, but most of what I have read so far is fairly obvious. Common sense and the basics you were taught in driving lessons. Just a matter of applying it at all times. So that’s looking promising. Doubtless my next blog will be entitled ‘101 things I didn’t know about driving’, after I take my assessment.

I’ve posted a new photo’ of Wendy’s new kit from the Dark Angel. Which reminds me; (as in the photo’ she’s stood on the new flags I had to lay) my bloody kick bag! I got it for about £20 off th’eBay but she who must be obeyed wouldn’t let me hang it in the spare room. So I had to buy a big bracket, (which doubled the price, with P&P) and hang it outside. Did that, as I mentioned in an earlier blog. When it stopped raining I went into the garden to kick the crap out of it. Only to find that for the correct kicking distance I had to stand with my back foot off the flags and on the muddy garden. Also if I did a front or back kick the bag hit the very abrasive brick wall. So I had to put that on hold whilst I went and got some flags, sand, and a smooth back plate for the bag (tripling the price of the bag!). Laid and fitted them yesterday, then kicked seven bells out the bag. Oh indeedy yes! That was fun, did some more today. My feet are all bruised and battered, and my hands a bit scraped and swollen, but it feels good.

I’m sure I’ve not mentioned what I came on here to say, but I can’t think what it could be, it’s midnight and the Wendster has to go god-bothering in the morning so will be making ‘STOP TYPING, NOW!’. sounds any second. So it’s beddy bo’s for Bucky.



It’s a boy!

Wrong congrats card there, it’s actually a pass!

It was horrible as usual, an hour of pure stress and nerves. I drove up to Liverpool and I wasn’t too bad, I thought. I had yet another instructor taking me up there, a woman this time. She was OK, but she set the cones too close together when I asked to practise my reverse, so it was really hard and I made a balls-up of my first attempt. Not the way to inspire confidence. On the other hand, she did inspire confidence in another way. Instead of being there watching every move you make straight off the bat she said " the keys are in the truck, you take it round and reverse it into place, I’ll set up the cones."

I was waiting for her to come out and keep her eye on me but she didn’t so I drove off on my own. So that was good, first time in the truck for over a month and I was setting off on my own.

I drove it too Liverpool, and was OK, but by no means wonderful. Then I got there and found out it was Donna who was going to be my examiner. It was she who failed me the first time, with a record number of faults marked. She is supposed to be the easiest person to pass with though (Don’t tell her I said so) and although I made a few mistakes I didn’t clip any pavements, run over any pedestrians, or crash the truck. So by the end of that seemingly interminable hour I still wasn’t sure which way it had gone.

I was even more nervous because although she did take me on some narrow roads, and make me take the truck around some hideously sharp corners (where if you don’t watch out you swing the front end out nice and wide, start to straighten up, then the pavement juts out a bit and you clip it and fail) and presumably I did all the requisite exercises, but I felt everyone else took me on worse routes. I was thinking that if I hadn’t passed with Donna, on such a relatively easy course, maybe I really wasn’t going to pass, ever.

Then she said I’d passed!

She went on to tell me it was by the skin of my teeth (15 minor driver errors, 16 is a fail) but by that time I was beaming. She asked if I’d done any training since my last test, I said I hadn’t. She told me she would never take a test without practising first (fine if you have infinite cash) but that she was willing to look beyond how I’d done to how I would be in practise. She had felt safe and that the truck was under control the whole time, so I would be safe to drive and polish my technique on the road.

Although Donna is supposed to be the easiest one to pass with, I still think that a pass is a pass. The point of the test is to judge whether a person can drive a truck. Not whether given a few years of crashing into things that person would become competent.

I’m not trying to play down the (15) little mistakes I made (such as being focused on braking down and getting into the right gear for a stop at red lights, and as I’m changing down they’ve changed to green, so I was having to almost stop then start again, instead of flowing forward) but I don’t want to detract from my achievement either.

Anyone who has had to sit through a driving test knows it is about as stressful as  is humanly possible. An hour. One single lapse of concentration over a whole hour is all it takes. One mistake deemed serious and it’s game over.

That was my fourth hour of torture.

I passed, me!

So now I have to wait for the DVLA to return my license (with it’s shiny new entitlement to drive rigid trucks, a provisional license to train in artic trucks, and hopefully that  11 year old drink/drive endorsement removed) then I can decide what to do.

A  young chap at work was saying he, his brother, and lots of people he knows all went to the same guy for instruction and all passed with relative ease. I believe that would be possible. If I’d have had one of the two really good instructors I’ve been trained by the whole time I think I would have passed earlier. As it was I had every Tom, Dick and Harry that drifted through the company. To have one, good instructor take you the whole way sounds like the best bet.

I’ll inquire. My only reservation would be where he tests. I’ve had four tests at Symondswood, Liverpool, and have got to know the roads and nasty traps around there. A different test centre might disadvantage me.

So, in work tomorrow, find out how many holidays I have left, await the return of my license, and plan my next move. The main thing is I now have a truck license! No more training or tests for rigid trucks. That is under my belt.

Donna also said I would be best to take an advanced driving course (in the Micra) the skills acquired from which would be instantly transferable to truck driving. This sounds like sterling advice. A lot cheaper than truck training lessons, should polish off all the little faults I was picked up on and prepare me for the final big push; the artic.

I don’t know if I’m  happy to have the license or just relieved I don’t have to do it again!

Happy days.