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A Man of Few Words - by Swan Morrison

The Driving Instructor Examiner

‘OK Mr Harris, I can now give you feedback on your Advanced Driving Instructor examination. As you know, I role-played the part of a learner driver who you were instructing. In doing that, I simulated driver errors that a novice might make, and I have assessed you on your responses to my actions.

You started very well. When I climbed into the boot of the vehicle, you correctly pointed out that I should ideally be sitting in the front, behind the steering wheel. You were again correct to highlight that I should not have pulled away from the kerb without signalling or looking in the rear view mirror. The pensioner who was knocked from his bicycle as a result did indeed constitute a road traffic accident, and you were absolutely right that I should have stopped.

I cannot fault your technical appraisal of my errors and road traffic offences when I reversed down the slip road onto the motorway, though I fear that the tone of alarm, indeed panic, in your voice may have been somewhat disconcerting for a novice, and possibly damaging to his or her confidence.

You unfortunately failed to comment upon the fact that I was exceeding the motorway speed limit by some forty miles an hour while driving along the hard shoulder. I would perhaps suggest that covering you eyes while reciting the Lord’s Prayer restricts your ability to focus on the details of a learner’s performance.

Your attention was much more clearly focused when I crossed the central reservation, and you made the very constructive observation that driving at one-hundred-and-ten miles an hour in the wrong direction along a motorway towards oncoming traffic was an unsafe practice. Once again, however, there was room for improvement in your manner and phraseology. Screaming ‘You’re insane. We’ll all be killed!’ could be taken very badly by more sensitive pupils.

As we drove towards the river, I thought that you climbing through the passenger window onto the roof was rather unconventional. I can appreciate, nevertheless, how this might allow you to observe the skills of your student from a different vantagepoint. No instructor should ever, however, allow his or her pupil to drive unsupervised, so leaping from the vehicle shortly before it plunged from the bridge into the water, was something of a dereliction of that duty.

I did not have an opportunity to talk to you after the examination as you were, of course, sedated, and taken to the psychiatric hospital where we are today. I am pleased, however, to let you know now that you have passed the examination. Also I would like to reassure you that your current bout of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder will not in any way affect your career as an instructor. In fact, I was diagnosed as psychotic in this very hospital and yet have continued without interruption my role as a Driving Instructor Examiner...’