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 :

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,