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Monday, October 31, 2005

 

Trick or treat

There is a particular barrack room lawyer in our little town with a Range Rover Discovery who thinks he can park where the hell he pleases. Or should I say did think he could park where he pleased. No ticket has stuck on him, until recently that is.

If one sounds pleased, or perhaps a little sanctimoniously smug, today is the day that can be freely forgiven. People like the aforementioned are a pain, not only to the workaday Parking Enforcement Officer, but to the rest of the human race, who have to put up with the end results of his lack of consideration.

The scene for our little drama is a bus stop outside an off licence (Liquor store to all you non British folk out there.). A favourite place for people to ‘Just drop something off’, block the bus stop, thus causing buses to block the whole bloody street and half the town centre inside of three minutes flat. The bus stop sits on the cusp of two beats, so it usually gets pretty well covered.

Across the street Manic Mary hoves into view. We greet each other with a brief ‘Have you in visual contact’ over the radio and carry on our way. As we do so we both see Barrack room lawyer with Range Rover parked in bus stop, yakking thirty to the dozen on his mobile, completely contemptuous of the bus driver who has his back end poking into the street because he can’t pull in to the bus stop. Twenty seconds later, chummy clocks Mary taking his number and promptly drives off before she can get near enough to issue. Meanwhile, I’ve taken his number and most of his details as well, but get collared by furious bus passengers who decide that today it’s Ma Stickers second sons turn in the barrel. “Why aren’t you doing your job?” Is the outraged question of the day. Well, it’s marginally better than “Why don’t you get a real job?” This lasts for the best part of ten minutes and it feels like the whole damn town has been queuing up to have a go.

Ears ringing I slunk off round the corner to recover and update my notebook. Ten minutes later, just on a whim, I retrace my tracks to head on back to base for tea. Glory of glories, guess who’s just plonked his Range Rover back on the bus stop and has walked into the off licence? Thank you, there is a God.

Checking my hand held computer, I realise I’ve still got his details on screen from twenty minutes ago. Thirty seconds later, it’s printed, signed and on his windscreen. Photo taken, the lot, and I’m off to make someone else’s day. Got him at last!

Of course that isn’t the end of the affair. You know who comes running up the street with ticket envelope in hand, red faced and intent on giving out some grief.
Driver “Hoi you!”
Officer 515 (Me) “Yes sir?”
Driver “What you given me this for?” Thrusting ticket in my face. I give it a cool look and then look him straight in the eyes.
515 “You’re parked on a bus stop.”
Driver “So?” Is he really this thick?
515 “You aren’t allowed to park in bus stops.”
Driver “I was loading and unloading.” Not clever enough, Meestair Bond.
515 “You’re not allowed to load or unload in bus stops, disabled bays or taxi ranks. You should know that sir. It’s in your highway code.” With that I give his suffused features a cheery “Good day sir.” Turn around and walk away. When I got to the next corner he was still standing there, staring at the ticket in disbelief.

Trick or treat anyone?

Sunday, October 30, 2005

 

Bloody hell it’s Sunday!

Working odd shifts is a guaranteed way to lose track of time. Of course you’re vaguely aware of others work patterns but somehow when you’re too busy the days tend to blur into one another.

I’ve just been checking Ceefax (Yes, I am that sad and old fashioned) and suddenly woken up to the fact that it is Sunday. Holy Shit! As the Popes new plumber said while clearing the Vatican drains.

WTF happened to Wednesday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday?

I need some leave.

On a lighter note, St Kilda’s wild sheep are in the Scotsman under one of those quirky little stories that gets around every so often. Apparently these are the chavs of the ovine world, always fighting, would shag a frog if it stopped hopping long enough. All this without alcohol. So if binge drinking isn’t the real problem – what is? Why was John Reid the Defence Secretary the quoted spokesman? Is the NAAFI about get a rude awakening?

Oh, one last thing; guess who else is in the news again? Smoke? Fire? Oh to hell with it – draw your own conclusions. I'm off to have a bath.

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

 

Zigzags and other unenforceable annoyances.

In the current Highway Code there are a few pages covering the parking regulations, where you can and cannot park etcetera. What the few pages do not tell you is that some of these freshly painted markings may not be worth the paint they are marked with.

For example, School ‘No Parking’ zig-zag markings. You’re not allowed to stop on them, right? Er, well, right-ish actually. The head teacher at the school has to sign a bit of paper to the effect that the school agrees to the markings being policed by us local authority types. If they don’t, well the Traffic Regulation Order which allows us to enforce those markings isn’t enforceable. The Police can hand out fixed whizzers on them, but we are occasionally powerless. Which kind of negates the whole reason for them being there, which is to allow people to cross the road close to the school entrance with a clear field of view.

Sometimes we’re left chewing at our note books in frustration when people come up to us, pointing at malefactor and demanding we do something. “’Ere, ‘e’s onna zigzags! Wotchew gunna do baht it?” (It’s surprising how many people actually sound like that – and we’re not even near London – maybe it’s some kind of fashion statement thingy?). Then we’re left standing explaining why we can’t book said contravener of the parking rules.

Sometimes we’ll chance handing out the odd one or five tickets on the ‘Some of ‘em will cough up without thinking’ principle. Sometimes just looming threateningly on a nearby corner is enough to do the trick. Sometimes you get some flash gimp who, having unloaded solitary offspring from flash black motor (They’re the ones we catch most of, anyway.), speed off the moment they see you, almost running down other peoples kids, who are the reason the damned markings are there in the first place. One of these days the oil will run out and there will be no internal combustion engines, ergo, no more private cars and the problem of child obesity will be much reduced. Until then, we’ll need people like us to enforce the parking regulations.

Sometimes single yellow lines have had their guidance plates removed (and not replaced) by contractors who have been painting lamp posts or other ‘street furniture’, which means that they are unenforceable until such time as the plates are restored. Sometimes the painting contractors get over zealous and just carry on painting those tasteful double yellows a few metres too far, because Paddy O’Mick the painter was given the wrong instructions by his boss. Then there’s a row between council and contractors as to who is picking up the bill for re marking. The laughs just keep on coming folks.

Oh yes, and another welcome entry to the side bar for: Between Blinks a fellow Parking Enforcement Officer.

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

 

The Stupid Tax

“Why don’t we start a lottery syndicate?” Was the meme stalking the mess room when I returned to work after a four day layoff. “How about you Bill, we could all be millionaires?”
“Um ,why are you asking me?”
“You never go out with the lads, you must be loaded.” The first part of this statement is true, I do not socialise with my workmates. The second part is highly erroneous as my all money goes on mere fripperies like food, rent, kids, dog food and paying off debts. Usual shit.
“Why should I want to join a lottery syndicate?”
“You could become a millionaire, that’s why.”
“Why a lottery syndicate? We could lose less money running a book on the geegees.” I opined.
“Horse racing’s boring.” Was the response. Huh? Have you ever been in the stands at a race meeting when ‘your’ horse is neck and neck on that last half furlong? Boring? Not.
“Riight. But why a lottery syndicate?” I reiterate.
“Are you thick or what? We could win millions!”
“So you’re asking me.” I chose my words very carefully. “To stump up money twice a week on a five and a quarter million to one shot?”
“It’s for charity!” Was the outraged reply.
“Yeah but I already give to charities like Cancer research already via direct debit.” They still aren’t taking the hint yet. Maybe this is the triumph of hope over experience that all major gambling confidence tricks depend on. The hope, no matter how obscure and in the face of overwhelming odds; that one will suddenly be given a huge amount of money for little or no effort. That’s like orgasms without the sex. More than half the fun is putting in the effort and making things happen for yourself.
“Bill, you’re just mean!”
“Yep. Now ask me a hard one.”Finally, the interested parties leave me to spend the rest of my lunch break in peace. Considering who was mooting the idea of a lottery syndicate and where the money seems not to go, this creates little doubt in my mind that the lottery is a tax on the hard of thinking.

According to lottery operator Camelot’s own figures; out of every pound cash spent on lottery tickets:
50% of which is paid out in prizes
40% is ‘returned to society’ which means; 28% of the total pound is paid out to ‘good causes’ and 12% of each pound is paid out in tax (Lottery duty)
The remaining 10% is split 50/50 between lottery retailers and Camelot with 5% of each ticket sold going to the retailer 4.5% for Camelot ‘Operating costs’ and 0.5% to shareholders. (Source, Camelot Group) Weekly sales average 85-90million pounds.

So, if we do the sums based on 87.5 million per week, the tax man gets 10.5 million, ‘Good causes’ (Whatever they turn out to be) get (Or rather the ‘good causes fund gets’) 24.5 million pounds. 43.75 million pounds is paid out, mostly as 10 pound prizes with the occasional Jackpot. Have a look at the unclaimed prize figures here though. All this money is sitting in the bank accruing interest (And if it’s not – why not?). Oh yes, based on the averages Camelot should turn over 227.5 million in ‘operating costs’ per year. (Hmm, wonder who gets all the interest payments on unclaimed prizes?)

For the averages have a look here;

Please draw your own conclusions. To reiterate; just because I have sunk to the level of Parking Enforcement Officer doesn’t mean I can’t add up. Although I can’t say the same for some of my colleagues.

Friday, October 14, 2005

 

Tiiiiiiimmmmmmmeeee OUT!

My first long weekend in months. One of the problems of our shift system is the way, as I’ve probably observed before, it messes with your time sense. When it comes down to writing, which you need a reasonable routine for; this is not an ideal situation. However, I’ve managed to maintain an output of 1000 words a day on my manuscript as my minimum, on top of keeping hold of the job, keeping wife, kids and insane dog reasonably quiet, whilst still being able to research and keep the blog going.

Not watching more than five minutes TV a day helps. To be honest, I can’t really recall the last programme I actually sat down and really watched. At this point, my mind is always drawn to a statement an old ex Maths teacher friend of mine, who once told me he knew who his under achievers were going to be, as their houses all had satellite dishes. Interesting statement that, and one I seem to find ever more sympathy with. Despite calls from my family to have a satellite subscription, I decided to say no as from what my friends tell me, its all much of a muchness. So we just have the basic terrestrial service and a social life.

At this juncture memory dredges up the oddest things. Back in the days of UK 405 line black and white TV in the UK there was a film broadcast from the late 1950’s, / early 1960’s starring Stanley Holloway. To the best of my recollection, Stanley played the part of a man who was persuaded by Satan to have a television, one of the first in his street, in his home. The outcome of the play was that the one time thriving community spirit in the fictitious street collapsed as people simply crawled indoors at the end of the day and sat, hypnotised by the flickering grey world in the corner of their living rooms.

One quick Google later I find the source of my rather hazy childhood memory - ‘Meet Mr Lucifer’ made in 1953. The review differs from my recollection, but I was only a child when I recall it being screened in the late 1960’s. The arguments about child development and television are extremely well documented; just follow the links from the Universities of Oregon and Aberystwyth. Not forgetting the very worthwhile ‘Social affairs unit’ website.

This will be my last entry for a few days as I’m going to concentrate on the book a bit more. First three chapter MSS samples go out today to publishers who have shown an interest, but I’m rather concerned about putting anything on-line prior to publication (If it happens) because of the issues of plagiarism by mainstream media publications highlighted recently.

Thursday, October 13, 2005

 

The Peacemakers

Came in from a footsore day today, put my feet up to be greeted by a household full of gripes, groans, complaints and whinging. Wife, kids and dog were all carrying on like there was a major crisis. After ten minutes, this situation showed no sign of desisting so I was forced to raise my voice above the din of complaint.

“Look, if you lot give me some peace and quiet, do you fancy some home fries?” Said I, when the babel like din could be tolerated no longer. The whole house fell to blessed silence for a moment before youngest piped up with an enthusiastic “Yes please!”
“Yes please!” Said eldest.
“The usual dear?” Asked the ever perceptive Mrs Sticker as yours truly rolled up his sleeves and headed for the kitchen. “Thank you.” I said while I raided the vegetable rack and checked all the ingredients were available. A large glass of Sicilian red was duly delivered to my hands while I was still peeling spuds.

The Sticker household is in unanimous agreement when it comes to the Bill Sticker recipe for chips. They love them. Not stodgy but light and easily digestible. Not greasy, not thin, not complicated or fancy, just good honest chips. Pommes frites for the serious devotee. French fries which even the French might consider an even longer lunchtime. My nickname for these humble preparations is ‘Peacemakers’ because they can shut my family up.

The preparation is simple, but ingredients are key;

Potatoes. These have to be one of the ‘baking’ varieties such as Cara or Estima. Nothing too floury or too waxy.
Cooking oil. Just Mr Tesco or Mr Sainsbury’s bog standard Sunflower seed / Olive oil mix in 95% / 5% proportion. No sense in using extra virgin as it adds nothing to the flavour.

1 large baking potato will serve 1 person.

First; Switch off telephone / TV / Radio and ignore doorbell.

Second; Peel the potato(es), removing any scabs or discolouration etc. Now cut potato into 12mm (approx 3/8 Inch) slices, thence into the same width to produce chips of an approximate square section for evenness of cooking. Spread chips on clean chopping board to dry off while the oil is heating up.
Third; Using an oldish large saucepan (4-5pint capacity for safety’s sake) put just over half a litre (or 1 pint) of sunflower seed oil into saucepan and put over heat. Add a generous double splodge of Olive Oil. Wait until hot.

To test whether the oil is hot enough, dip a chip into the oil and watch. If the oil begins to boil slightly, it is ready, if it boils a lot then turn the head down a little. Drop test chip in from side of pan (Not directly overhead as hot oil will splash your skin and hurt rather a lot.). Oil should boil around the chip rather like water just before it boils. When this happens, put first chipped potato in carefully so it doesn’t splash. This is because splashed hot oil a) Burns b) Can leave nasty marks on your kitchen ceiling c) Takes your skin off d) Hurts rather a lot e) Annoys Mrs Sticker f) Upsets Fire Brigade / emergency services.

When cooking properly the hot oil should foam over the chips. Shake pan gently every couple of minutes to ensure chips do not stick to the bottom.

The chips are cooked when they are golden in colour and float in the hot oil. Switch off heat. Lift chips from hot oil using steel, long handled utensil, this can be a spatula or a draining spoon, either will do. Drain excess oil off chips by putting them in a warm (Not hot) sieve for two minutes. While still hot, put on plate, add salt to taste.

Put large blob of mayonnaise (Not salad cream, bozo!) on side of plate. Dip end of salted chip in mayonnaise, eat. These are suitable for vegetarians, vegans, most religious factions and people who dress up like Mr Spock at Star Trek Conventions.

It is my and my families contention that if Neville Chamberlain had served Adolph Hitler these chips, World War II would never have happened. Had the UN offered Saddam Hussein these chips in exchange for a peaceful handover of power in Iraq, there would have been no Gulf Wars. Jihadis would think twice about becoming suicide bombers. Iran and North Korea would agree to permanent Nuclear decommissioning. The French would allow British meat to cross their borders.

Such is the potential for generating world peace with a humble potato correctly prepared; I think it is my duty to humanity to offer this recipe to posterity. Eat, enjoy, and if you can’t get it right, there’s always the chip shop.

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

 

Breach of copyright.

Dave Copperfield of the Policeman’s Blog has recently fallen victim to members of the Mainstream Media. In short, Dave’s words were transplanted into an article without being attributed as a source, and without his permission; from what I can see this appears to be a clear breach of copyright, or at the very least ‘passing off’ or plagiarism. The offenders know who they are.

For any bloggers who are worried about this subject may I recommend two publications to you; The first is;
‘Writers and Artists yearbook 2005’ (A.C.Black) ISBN 0-7136-6936-5
and the other;
‘The Writers Handbook 2005’ (Macmillan) ISBN 1-4050-4153-6.
Both of these publications have very worthwhile segments on the principles and application of the law of copyright.

At the very least you should include a short statement of copyright on your blog, say, like ©Bill Sticker 2005. To be additionally secure you might include the phrase “The right of (Yourblognamehere) to be identified as the author of this work has been asserted in accordance with sections 77 and 78 of the Copyright, Designs and Patents act 1988” in the page footer.

Remember this, no one is allowed to copy your work without permission and copy or ‘pass off’ the article / story / book / music as their own work. You can sue them for this. Is there a copyright lawyer on the blog?
 

Respect

An interesting word this, interesting concept. The current crop of politicians seems very interested in it. What is it? What good is it, and how do you get it if you need it? More to the point, when is it necessary and when not?

Found myself thinking thus on the daily beat pounding round as I came into contact with various members of the public. After all there’s George Galloway’s left wing R.E.S.P.E.C.T alliance. There is ‘respect’ in the context of unthinking deference to ‘superiors’. Then there is respect in the context or courtesy and consideration. Finally there is ‘Rispec’ commanded by fear of peer group violence and glorified by some parts of the media.

My Dad always taught me that ‘respect’ was a two edged sword, in that you do not generally get respect if you don’t give any in the first place. So if I had not ‘respected’ his decision that I should go out and get a job instead of going into higher education, his view was that he would not ‘respect’ my judgement in other matters. Then again, had I ‘respected’ my own judgement and gone for what I really wanted to do instead of acceding to my Fathers wishes, perhaps my life would have been better than the quirky patchwork quilt it has heretofore been. Who knows?

For my own part, having four decades of life behind me, I think I can say that ‘respect’ to me is courtesy and consideration for those I deem ‘worthy’ of it. By ‘worthy’ I mean someone who does not go out of their way, by word or deed, to inconvenience others and / or demonstrates ‘worth’ to the wider community by their day to day actions. Say someone who works for charity in their spare time without thought for their own betterment. Maybe just someone who is polite, kind, and thus helps grease the axles of social interaction, again without thought of reward. Exclusions are naturally those who demand respect without demonstrating that they are capable of reciprocating. The other exclusions are people you don’t like an awful lot, for whatever reason(s). It may not be much but it’s a definition of sorts.

Speaking from personal experience as a Parking Enforcement Officer, respect is not a very common commodity. It is a also a strange commodity that is owned the most by those who demand the least.

Respect is a noble concept, often soiled by unworthy politicians, both national and local. Especially people like George Galloway who hijack it for a meaningless party acronym title and their own dubious ends.

For what its worth, that’s my opinion. Worthy of respect or not.

Monday, October 10, 2005

 

So how come I don’t have a better job?

From the blogthings web site. Just for a chuckle I took the quick and dirty IQ test.


Your IQ Is 120

Your Logical Intelligence is Below Average

Your Verbal Intelligence is Genius

Your Mathematical Intelligence is Exceptional

Your General Knowledge is Genius


However, it could simply mean I’m just a guy whose mouth is too damn smart for his own good, but isn’t clever enough to have realised it until now. Curses, me evil plans foiled again (I must stop explaining myself.)

Just another average day which left me without anything really interesting to say.

Sunday, October 09, 2005

 

Better than cure?

Over the past year or so, Senior Management has sternly told us that the number of Parking Tickets issued has dropped. They seem to be very unhappy about this. This is no surprise to me, as the better we seem to get at our job, the more difficult it gets to book errant motorists. Another thing is that the number of assaults on Enforcement Officers has gone down.

When it comes down to the reduction in tickets, I suppose it was inevitable. As for the assaults, a lot of that is down to us ditching the ‘procedures’ and using our brains instead. The big hefty looking guys on the team look after the smaller ones and behave in as visible a manner as possible. This often means that you issue fewer tickets, but by the same token, you don’t have to.

Maybe this is how the old Police beat system used to work. You got a big hefty looking bloke who looked like he could handle himself in a barney, put him and a bunch of like mates out on the streets at all hours of the day and night as a visible presence. The purpose being to act as a preventative to low level crime, because said big hefty bloke is empowered to ‘keep the peace’, mainly by persuasion. I suppose the theory is that by acting as a preventative to low level crime like petty vandalism and drunken abusiveness, the potential malefactors get ‘headed off’ before they can graduate into more serious practices like breaking and entering, drug abuse and assault.

Not that the old Police beat system will ever be reinstated. It doesn’t fit in with the statistics and spreadsheet driven ‘box ticking’ management approach that measures crimes after they happen. This is so entrenched that it will take years to flush the ‘stats’ driven managers out of the system, especially in local government (Which I’ve often considered an oxymoron.).

You can’t measure prevention. Rather like you couldn’t measure how effective the animal protein rendering process temperatures were before an industry lobby group got the government to lower the legal rendering temperature limit so that the ‘box tickers’ could make a ‘saving’ on the fuel it took to produce high protein feeds for livestock. Result; cross species infection and variant Creutzfeldt-Jacobs disease (vCJD, or BSE).

Similarly, you lower the number of beat officers on the streets because their ‘arrest rates’ are low – less cover, more temptation for those who would stray into anti social behaviour. More emphasis on the ‘rights’ of the anti social and violent – the rest of us find our freedoms curtailed. Likewise a reduced number of Parking enforcement officers mean more opportunity for those who clog up the streets with their refusal to travel bipedally, and so on. Simple really.

We keep on saying that we are preventing contraventions to Senior Management when they complain about ‘Ticket Revenues’ falling. Of course the number we hand out is decreasing. Even the dumbest idiot in a 4x4 will think twice about stopping on double yellows after getting one Parking Ticket. Given that there is only a finite number of people who have cars, sooner or later the message ‘don’t park here’ gets through and if there is no contravention, what is there to book?

It is simple mathematics. We are working on the law of diminishing returns. Ideally speaking our Management should balance lost ticket revenue up against the increase in revenue from car parks because people are using those more. Sadly they have so far not seen fit to inform us of any such figures. One is not going to hold ones breath.

All I can tell you is that our streets seem clearer, and either I’m becoming more accustomed to it, or it’s easier to breathe. Wonder if anyone has checked the pollution figures?

Saturday, October 08, 2005

 

Rainy day duties

Today has been very dull, as are all rainy days. You get a choice of either staying out of the way out on patrol (My preference) or going back to base and doing the ‘menials’ around base, which essentially means car park duties; checking that storm drains are clear, tidying stock room, sitting in the mess room waiting for the rain to ease.

My own fault I suppose, I wasn’t quick enough to get out of the door before supervisor collars me and says (Meaning to be kind); “You’re not thinking of going out there are you Bill? Stay in, it’s much too wet to patrol.” Drat and double drat! Curses, me cunning plan thwarted! I had planned to stand in a convenient archway, watching the rain and working on the book in my head. Today I got roped into doing a count of all the odds and ends in the various stock rooms around the car parks. Filling out a spreadsheet and pushing other bits of paper that Kerry, our line manager, has neglected to do because she finds it too bloody boring.

Glad to see the back of the place today.

Friday, October 07, 2005

 

Now this would account for a lot of things;

In a Past Life...

You Were: An Albino Magician.

Where You Lived: Burma.

How You Died: Buried alive.

Thursday, October 06, 2005

 

Oo-er

Checking my webstats this morning and came across visits from a domain I hadn’t seen before with their firewall portal somewhere around Harrogate. One quick reverse DNS lookup later - it only turned out to be from (DAH-DAH-DAAAH!) Customs and Excise – The tax man! Using Internet Explorer 6.0 on an NT4 workstation, no less.

For any tax inspectors reading; it’s no use checking out whether I make any money doing this blog because I don’t. I use free resources and my only input is my own free time. No money changes hands so you might as well go and snoop on some Ebayers instead. It’s bad enough being poor and unable to get a better job without some nosey member of Gordon Brown’s money grubbing militia snooping around for more of my non existent disposable income to waste on phoney Tony’s pet causes. You’ll have to raise someone else’s taxes because you’ve had all I’ve got. I’m broke – got that? Thank you. Not even to fill the pensions black hole or pay for the latest governmental £X million IT cock up. I’d write you a rude letter but I can’t spell “Thrrp!”

This, as I have detailed on a couple of occasions, is my brain dump. The toxic thought disposal area for all the bees in my bonnet that refuse to stop buzzing. It is not, and will never be a commercial enterprise. I have debated with Mrs Sticker the possibility to perchance selling ‘Bill Sticker’ merchandise, but have elected not to do so because that would be a sure fire way of being identified and possibly fired by my employers.

Unless of course some kind soul were to offer me a full time job as a columnist on a regular basis. Right, like that’s going to happen.

Just in case though, I’m open to serious offers. Then, and only then, would I be able to afford to pay any more tax. Don’t hold your breath.

Wednesday, October 05, 2005

 

Sidebar Additions

Tuesday, October 04, 2005

 

Who gives these people f***ing licences?

On my way back to base this afternoon with sore feet and a pocket full of sinners to be downloaded and sent the fruits of their parking wrongdoings I watched, in rapid succession, the following;
  • Dark haired woman nattering with mobile phone up to right ear pulls right out into traffic with hardly a glance, causing cyclist to swerve and just avoid becoming the filling in a bus sandwich.
  • Middle aged man with face puckered up like a bulldogs arse performs U-turn across two lanes of busy traffic, thus blocking road because he suddenly finds he’s misjudged the length of his vehicle and has to bodge back and forth.
  • Baseball capped gonzo with his boom box turned up full making illegal right turn causing pedestrians on crossing to scatter.
  • Woman in Porsche wearing shades (In this weather?) proceeds to turn wrong way up one way street, then gets into shouting match with two drivers coming the other (Correct) way until she has that ‘Oops’ moment and damn near runs a pensioner over doing an untidy U-turn which takes her half way across the sidewalk.

This sort of thing happens every day, but it’s rare that you see four incidents one after the other. Yes, I took their registration numbers and passed them on, but as CCTV told me. “Didn’t catch them on camera me old mate, so it’s just your word against theirs.” And people wonder why we don’t smile much.

What I’d like to know is who gives these people f***ing driving licences? How in the name of whichever gods did they ever pass their driving tests? They can’t obey a few simple rules. They don’t look where they are going. They can’t even steer their damn vehicles properly.

How about this; I vote we go for mandatory 5 or 10 year retests. If you can’t pass or don’t turn up for retest, you lose your car. While I’m on the subject, a drugs test should be part of every driving test. If you turn up under the influence of any drug on driving test day, you lose your chance at the test for a year. I have in the past heard people discussing turning up for their driving test having ‘Just popped a valium to calm me down’. Isn’t that truly scary? If you are ill or too mentally unstable then you should be allowed to reschedule until you are ‘clean’.

Who pays for all this you may ask? How about the person who wants the licence in the first place? There’s potentially a whole new service industry sector out there, and who knows, the road death toll might finally drop on a permanent level.

Having driven everything up to and including a 7.5 tonne lorry in twenty plus years of driving (Motorcycle, Car, Van, Lorry and a clean licence too), I reckon I’ve still got a lot of bad habits to be ironed out. However, I’ll gladly go for a mandatory retest, even at my own expense.

Oh sod it. Why do I bother or even care? Probably because over the past twenty odd years, many such pillocks have had a pretty good go at wiping yours truly off the face of the earth with their poorly piloted tin boxes. On many occasions only my relentless paranoia has saved me from near certain extinction. It’s a crazy world, so lets be careful out there.

Monday, October 03, 2005

 

Does anyone out there remember….?

SLEDGE HAMMER! Great US 1980’s cop comedy starring David Rasche as the eponymous anti-hero. My favourite bit of the original TV trailer sequence is where the guy who plays Sledge, a guy whose gun is (literally) his best friend, goes after a sniper on the roof of a building with a LAWS anti tank weapon and demolishes a ten storey city block with one shot.

Catchphrase, delivered with a manic glint in his eye. “Trust me – I know what I’m doing.” Yeah.

Sunday, October 02, 2005

 

Dirty looks & hate crimes.

I suppose this is true for anyone whose work brings them into front line opposition with the general dyslexic for very long. I think you know what I mean, the meaningful and quite spiteful looks you get just for being in the same twenty metre space as some people. Almost as if they resent being on the same planet as you.

In my particular case I’m not too bothered as I knew it was going to be part of the job when I started, but some of the newer guys are having problems. Most of which I also experienced and have recorded in my regular brain dumps and rants on this blog. The threats and gestures at your back when people don’t think you can see their reflection in a shop window. The revved engines, sudden accelerations and shouted insults from moving vehicles, I’ve written about it ad nauseum. You just take the car number and pass it on.

Over a year and a half on in this job, you get to the point where the bait is no longer fresh. Someone tries to go nose to nose with you and shout in your face, trying to intimidate you to give way, and they find it no longer works. The personal attacks upon parentage are often deflected with a darkly delivered “You’d have to ask my Mother that one.” Or a world weary “Yes sir.” Against direct physical threats you learn the subtle art of physically positioning yourself so that any threat is likely to end up rebounding on the threat making party in pretty short order.

There is a saying; ‘Whatever doesn’t kill you makes you stronger’ which seems to have some resonance for me. I’ve stuck the job against all the general dyslexic can throw against me so far. I’ve had people threaten to run me over or punch my lights out if I tried to give them a ticket for parking illegally. I’ve learned to treat their threats with the scorn and derision they deserve. The only threat that would have me doffing cap and uniform for a brakes off bare knuckle punch up would be one like the animal rights movement used recently against children’s nurseries providing crèche facilities for certain lab companies. Implied and actual threats against myself on duty are for me all part of the game and no longer impress, but one against ones family – let’s just not go there eh?

On the subject of the recent Crèche threat, my personal view is that threatening children is an act which should invoke the full disgust and approbation of the whole sane population. It is worse than the worst acts of paedophiles. It is also a real shot in the foot if ever I saw one for the whole Animal Welfare movement. Obviously the militants feel that hurting kids is okay because of the job their daddy or mummy does. What they do not see is by making such threats the animal rights movement have demonstrated a warped sense of values which make them appear clinically insane by any meaningful measure of sanity, and for what? For animals bred for testing that would have no existence otherwise? That’s like bombing a dairy because cows milk is processed there and calves can’t drink it all for themselves.

I like animals myself, I grew up in farming country with dogs, cats, livestock, ferrets; the occasional pet rat or mouse and for two weeks one adolescent summer I took care of a mates pet Boa Constrictor. Not that Mum or Dad were that keen I might add, but as an animal lover (Purely in a platonic sense) I don’t get where these crazy people are coming from.

My response last year was to stop my regular small donations to any charity likely to have any connections with IFAW and other such organisations. After the hunting bill went through I even pulled my contribution to the RSPCA and transferred the money to the far more worthy RNLI and Cancer Research. I know I’m not the only one to have stopped supporting animal welfare groups, so ultimately these groups will lose power as their donation base shrinks and they can no longer afford million pound bungs to the parliamentary Labour party. The hate crimes these people commit only alienate the public opinion they need to engage with to achieve their ends. So ultimately they have now lost.

Along the same line of observation I’ve not noticed the animal rights petition collectors in town since that grave robbing business of the Guinea Pig farm owners Grandmother. They used to be a regular feature on one particular corner until people started telling them that they weren’t having anything to do with grave robbers and terrorist sympathisers.

By way of a contrasting example; in our little corner of Chavland the residents are beginning to see the benefits of the Parking Enforcement Officers continued persistence in the face of regular threats. There are fewer people committing contraventions of the parking regulations, so we give out fewer parking tickets, the residents get their streets back, traffic flows more freely and the sound of car horns is far less prevalent than it was; which just goes to show, hatred always defeats itself. All you need to do is not back away in the face of it.
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Location: British Columbia, Canada

Exasperated expatriate expostulations all the way from British Columbia, Canada. As if anyone really cared. Oh, I also watch Icelandic Volcanoes and seismic activity. Don't ask me why.

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