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Sunday, 2 March 2014

The Dummies Guide to Dealing with Learner Drivers - Car Crash Television

You must have noticed the dumbing down of many things over the past decade or so. Nowadays it seems everyone accepts bad behaviour as just part and parcel of everyday driving, but it's not just driving that's affected.

What clearly indicates a dumbing down in general is TV. In between the too loud adverts, we have TV producers who seem to be obsessed with a format I affectionately call "Goldfish Memory TV". 

Whilst the adverts are designed for people with hearing difficulties, these programmes must be designed for older people who suffer from frequent 'senior moments' because every two seconds or so we're reminded what's coming up later on in the programme, what's happening after the break and what happen before the break - incidentally, coming up later in the blog, a Freddie Mercury tale not to be missed.

To the dismay of many instructors, it's recently been reported that a television production company here in the UK is planning a programme which uses reality TV stars ('star' being a loose term) to teach people to drive, so I guess we'll be seeing actual reality 'car-crash TV' in the near future. 

I can just picture it now - the overturned car with someone shouting "I'm a celebrity, get me out of here!!" 

Anyway, now that I'm old and grumpy enough, I can happily blame the influences of TV and computers for causing this dumbing down. 

Digressing slightly. 

On the plus side, although I obviously don't condone using them whilst driving, it appears that the advent of smart phones could have actually helped reduce road rage incidents. Probably due to drivers no longer getting agitated by queueing, or even realising they're in a queue. 

It used to be "arrrggggh we've stopped again!!!" now it's more likely to be "yayyyy we've stopped again, Facebook opportunity!!!!" 

The funny thing is, these drivers must think no one will notice them. We used to have nodding dogs on the parcel shelf, now when you look around in traffic we have nodding drivers or ones who look like they've fallen asleep with their chin on their chest but with the tell-tale light from their phones lighting up their faces. "Actually officer, I can explain, the pale slightly luminescent glow you saw on my face is from my new moisturising cream" (As advertised very loudly on TV - with 80% of 20 women agreeing)  

Back to the TV. 

Before that little break I was going on about TV. With dummies teaching dummies you can begin to imagine the type of characters we'll meet daily once the celebrity instructors take over.

Narrator - "When dealing with mini-roundabouts, the generosity of the over courteous driver often creates the situation known as the "Mexican Stand off". This is where every vehicle from all entry points come to a stop with no one wanting to make the first move". 
(Cue the music from 'The Good, The Bad and The Ugly' for background effect). 

For added suspense and a sense of jeopardy where none exists...

"In extreme cases of over-exposure to reality TV, sufferers may also experience an auditory hallucination known as "Big Brother Syndrome". Sufferers of this condition reportedly hear a man with a Geordie accent saying "Day 23 at the mini-roundabout...who goes? You decide" 

To add some credibility I'd draft in Sir David Attenborough to narrate with his distinctive voice...

"This creature, commonly known as the Pot-bellied Truck Driver (Latin - Knucklus dragus dragus) is often nocturnal with notoriously poor eyesight (resulting from lots of time spent alone). When spotted they are mostly seen in herds travelling in tight formation - never more than 3 metres apart, communicating only by using a series of honks and flashes. Due to their poor eyesight, smaller vehicles such as cars are often mistaken for juveniles and are given even closer protection by the herd..."

Although I blame TV for contributing to the downfall of driving standards, there are occasions when entertainment benefits. There's a popular urban myth amongst instructors which explains how one particular incident during Freddie Mercury's driving lessons had a huge influence on his later masterpiece 'Bohemian Rhapsody'.

Legend has it that whilst waiting to emerge, his instructor dual-braked the nervous Freddie and asked what he intended and what he could see. The conversation went something like this....

Freddie "Let me go!"
ADI "I will not let you go!"
Freddie "Let me go!"
ADI "No I will not let you go!"

ADI "I see a little silhouette of a van"
Freddie "Shall I go, shall I go?"
ADI "No, let the van man go"
ADI "Your face is whitening, 
Freddie "It's very, very frightening........Ford Mondeo!!, then a Clio!!"
ADI "Ford Mondeo.......Nissan Figaro!"

How true that story is, I guess no one will ever know, but it's clear that Freddie wasn't a natural driver and later revealed he was very keen to ride his bicycle.

Anyway, enough of my grumpy old man routine, I'm off out to practice my new celebrity style "Goldfish Memory TV" driving instruction. "Coming up before the brake, mirrors and a signal" or "Coming up after the brake, more acceleration".

OMG, I can see you're well jel....

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© Stu Walker

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