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Saturday, December 31, 2005

 

New Years Resolutions; Bell, book or candle?

What sort of resolutions might one expect from a Parking Enforcement Officer? Issue more / better / fewer parking tickets? Be more ruthless / be fairer? Lose weight / get fitter / healthier? Anything like that?

No.

I’ve been giving this some considerable thought over the past few months. Most of it is in the blog, but there’s a fair bit which I’ve held back on as it would finger me for sure. Right, here goes; If I come ‘out of the closet’ so to speak I get the grand order of the boot and a bad reference. If I carry on as I am I’ll just get more and more unhappy with the pressures of being in the shit sandwich I’m in. Public disapproval on the bottom, management pressure to perform on the top and nowhere else to go. Until of course I eventually burn out like the proverbial candle at both ends.

Now I can’t go back to what I used to do. I’m too old and there are a number of factors against me, including hot competition from less experienced, but younger and above all, cheaper people. It doesn’t matter that I keep my skill sets up to date – I have to accept that I’ll never work in that town again. The phone will not ring. There, I’ve accepted it – time to move on to pastures new.

Right, my resolution is this; I’m going for the big one, the fully monty, shoot the moon, the thing I’ve always wanted to be – a professional writer. Full time. Articles, short stories, books, screenplays, the whole shooting match.

For the moment I shall keep the job and the blog running until I’m ready to jump. Mrs Sticker has agreed to be my business manager and general organiser so I can focus on the quality and quantity of the words. Output. No less than a thousand words a day. What the hell, I do that anyway. Two to three hours work. Two or three hundred in the blog and anything up to fifteen hundred in the book, which is undergoing its third rewrite. This 440 word piece for example took me just over half an hour to write first thing this morning and an hour to edit and polish this evening. I can do it; I know I can. All I have to do is raise my game and push a little harder.

Mind you. Some of the stuff I’ve written will have to wait until I quit the day job. It may even be worth making it into a book. Bill Sticker; The Secret Public Diary of a Traffic Warden. Any takers?

Happy New Year anyway.

Friday, December 30, 2005

 

Lies and lawful excuses part 1

I hear excuses every day of my working life, which vary from the reasonable to the ridiculous. Bearing this in mind, here is a small grab bag of the useful and the useless I’ve heard over the past two years.

“We were only a minute.” Well actually this isn’t strictly speaking true is it? Unless you have some rare type of inner ear disorder which completely screws up your sense of elapsed time. In fact any remarks prefaced with the words “We were only..” Tend to raise the thought ‘Please don’t lie to me’ in the Parking Enforcement Officers brain. We’ve heard it far too often for any such remarks to be credible. “But I’ve only just got here.” Is included in the same category.

“Well the other guy said it was okay..” No he didn’t! This is such a blatant lie that it is usually discarded (At least by those of us with experience.). All claims of ‘arrangements’ or ‘special agreements with the council’ are so obvious that no one is going to believe you. Not the Parking Enforcement Officer or his / her / it’s Office.

“But there was nowhere else to park..” No shit, Sherlock. This isn’t a good one. It’s as good a confession as “Yes I did it.” Ever is. Now the rule we tend to apply here may seem a little harsh, but if there are no legal parking spaces; you may have to park some distance away where there are no restrictions and (Gasp) get out of your big silly tin box with the wheel at each corner and faulty nut behind the steering wheel to do something called walking. For the uninitiated; you have two appendages called Legs attached to each hip. These have things called Feet on the end of them. Walking is the act of putting one of your feet in front of the other without falling over. It’s ever so much fun, I do quite a lot of walking and have developed, as Mrs Sticker sometimes lecherously observes, ‘Buns of Steel’. Trust me guys, women like firm buttocks on a man. Flabby arses are generally held to be unsexy.

“We were loading…” Okay, but make sure that this is the truth. Loading and unloading refers to goods being delivered or removed from premises. It does not refer to; Going to the Autobank or ATM, dropping off passengers or waiting to pick them up. Anything that is light enough to be carried in one hand is not loading.

“It’s too cold / wet / hot.” The weather is not considered a lawful excuse unless there is an extreme Solar flare or Noah’s second flood, in which case Parking restrictions will probably not apply.

“I had a sudden attack of food poisoning and had to run for the toilets…” Well okay, so long as there are publicly available conveniences within fifty or so metres. Any sudden onset illness of this nature is usually accepted without question. However, it may require some dramatic input for the Enforcing Officer to observe such as unfortunate smells or stains in the above knee below waist region. A Doctors letter confirming diagnosis of a weak bladder or tendency to loose bowels will clinch it for sure. NPAS usually kick tickets out on these grounds for sure, if they ever get that far.

“My car broke down.” Another good one. Again, some documentary proof such as a receipt from your motoring recovery organisation will ensure the ticket will stick like Teflon. Actually being in the act of changing a wheel, providing a copy of a spares receipt are another couple of good things to back up your assertions.

“I’m just making a phone call.” No. Not acceptable. To be quite honest you should ask whoever is on the other end of the line to hold while you find a legal parking place or call you back. If you insist on sitting on an active restriction yakking and one of my contemporaries slaps one on your windscreen, bite the bullet and cough up.

“I got told to stop here by the Police.” No problemo, just quote the Police Officers number, the office will contact him / her / it (Mustn’t alienate any minorities here, must we?), and if true the ticket will be thrown out. Being arrested is another good one as this falls under the same set of rules. Not so hot I grant you, if this has included a night in the cells, but there you go.

“I’m waiting to pick up my kids.” This is not even worth considering for crying out loud. Park up legally, walk round to where you will be picking your kids up from and give the little darlings some exercise. Let’s combat child obesity together. They’re not obese? Well let them burn off a little of their hyperactive excess energy on the way back to your car. They’ll be quieter on the drive back and healthier, happier people in later life. One of these days you’ll thank us for it. Or maybe not.

Well that’s it for now as I have a chilled glass of Mr Tesco’s best Muscadet waiting and here’s me with such a terrible thirst. Cheers for now.

Thursday, December 29, 2005

 

Baby it's cold outside

Suburban beat. First day back on patrol and I must have lost the best part of a degree in body heat. Minus five all day and no chance of bunking off to a conveniently heated megastore doorway. On days like these, the leafy suburbs lose their appeal and turn into, to misquote Mark Twain “A good walk spoiled.”

Not much to do out on the far reaches of our remit, so I went off and didn’t do it; as instructed. Even if all around there was the incessant clanging of brass monkeys balls as they froze off. Spent half my time thinking about what new years resolutions I was going to make.

More about that when I decide.

Wednesday, December 28, 2005

 

Ticket hounds again..

They’re an enthusiastic lot up in Birmingham according to a letter writer in The Times.

Well, in the words of Prostetnic Vogon Jeltz. “All planet side leave is cancelled. I’ve just had an unhappy love affair and don’t see why anyone else should have any fun.” Working on Boxing day? No wonder they were taking it out on someone’s cars.

Also in The Times, the person who got caught as featured in ‘Human or Traffic Warden’ on Christmas Eve should have got into his car and driven around the block for half an hour. It’s no use shouting or screaming at people who do our job, all that happens is that the mental defensive armour goes up and they stop listening to the complaint before you’ve taken a second breath.

Me? I was last on duty on Christmas Eve and didn’t get to book a single soul. Mainly because they were all behaving themselves on my beat or legged it as I hove into view. Mind you, the last minute shoppers kept me so busy that I missed some streets. Honest boss.

Credit to Martyn for the links.

Tuesday, December 27, 2005

 

On the third day of Christmas…

My true love sent to me, a full set of ‘Frasier’ series three. I’m going upstairs to load up the DVD player; I may be some time. If the guffaws get too much I’ve bought everyone earplugs.

Kids have their stuff, wife is reading, dog has huge beef bone – bliss rules.

Sunday, December 25, 2005

 

My Colleagues and I

“But you’re too nice to be a Traffic Warden!”
“Bill, are you out of your mind?”
“You’ll quit in a week, I know you.”
“You’re joking!”
Were some of my friends horrified responses to my revelation that I was becoming a Parking Enforcement Officer. That was just over two years ago.

To be honest; it was either that or bankruptcy court and financial meltdown. My business had gone down the tubes, and my three (Yes THREE) pension funds annihilated by the twin ravages of New Labours Fast Track Visa’s and Gordon Browns various tax raids. Well, that was my history anyway. I was surprised how common these circumstances were to most of my colleagues. The older ones like me, certainly. We were all financially scrambling on the edge of a precipice. No one else would hire us at over forty, even guys with degrees who can speak two other languages fluently; so we took the job that everyone loves to hate; that of Traffic Warden in all it’s guises.

Not only that but most of us have spent significant periods of our working lives as self employed. From a potential employers point of view; who might be the least risk? Jobsworth or job cutter? For my current employers; they had to pick people they thought were mentally tough enough to take the crap and still walk out onto the streets to enforce the on-street regulations without body armour. A jobsworth just can’t do it. You need a certain take-no-prisoners mindset to survive, mentally anyway.

Still, it would be nice if our ‘superiors’ eased off the pressure a little. Yes, alright; amongst the younger members of our motley crew there are one or two who take the mickey by skiving. As for the older guys, there is only one who can’t really cut the mustard, and he’s one of the old timers and close to his pension. The rest of us set our own goals, get out there and do the job in front of us.

Sometimes we think that we should have more of the powers of the old Traffic Wardens; say limited powers to direct traffic when needed, and cover all the on street restrictions including pedestrian crossing zig-zags etc. Say if we did all the static stuff while the Police did all the moving vehicle offences might not be such a bad idea instead of the current mess. Simple dichotomy really, someone stops where they shouldn’t – we take care of it; someone jumps a red light, speeds etc, and the Police deal with it. Sounds pretty reasonable to me, and I’m no Einstein.

Instead we have proposals that Parking Enforcement Officers become cut price versions of Traffic Police. If you ask me this is just plain silly; how can a man on foot nick an idiot who has just charged the wrong way up a one way street without the powers of stop and arrest? This is the sort of thing that has the rest of us scratching our heads in disbelief. Leave the ‘instant whizzer’ stuff for ‘on-the-move’ stuff like seat belts and mobile phones etc to the Coppers. We nick people who park unlawfully. Simple really.

Mind you, legally speaking there’s always the business with the 1689 bill of rights to clear yet. Are ‘instant’ fines such as fixed penalties legal or not? If not I’m out of a job, as are all my fellow travellers.

What the hell. Once you’re out on the streets you do have a slight degree of autonomy. Trouble is, you are always under scrutiny from the little gods of the tick box. That is common to all of us; it’s not so much the insults and abuse from the general dyslexic that annoy; it’s the ‘cheese paring’ and constant scrutinising from Management that does one’s head in.

So next time anyone lines up their ill informed prejudices to give one of us a mouthful or ‘have a go’, I’ll stand my ground, rather like most of my older colleagues. We’ve been there before and we don’t run. Probably because we’re too old and knackered to do so.

If all the above sounds a little disjointed and rambling – I am slightly inebriated having cooked Christmas lunch and had a nip or five of what I fancy. Who cares? This blog is my sounding board; and at the moment - I’m not too worried. God bless.

Saturday, December 24, 2005

 

Christmas fun for those who hate Christmas..


What a perfectly awful bloody day Christmas Eve has been! I just want to forget all about it and hope Christmas day is better.

Any road up. Here are some links to some very silly Flash games where you can either help Santa, or help him off this mortal coil. Enjoy. I’ve got cooking to do and there’s a bottle with the words ‘Drink Me’ inscribed in letters only I can see. No more parking tickets until the 29th of December. Thank goodness for that.

Kill Santa
Santa Slay
Slingshot Santa
Santa Snowball shoot
Zap Santa's thieving helpers
Santas Vengeance

Have fun. Merry Christmas.

Regards

Bill

Friday, December 23, 2005

 

Things I really like… about Christmas

One commenter recently exhorted me to love the tackiness of the festering season and count my blessings. Oh but I do, since every single day of life is bonus time for me. Ten years on from cancer (With a small ‘c’ – caught early.) I’m still breathing, have a wonderful wife, a mad (but happy) dog, two really great stepdaughters who I am immensely proud of being associated with, despite all the teenage spats and whining.

For example; as a family outing recently we went to an evening market in the centre of town. The two girls were walking ahead of us, giggling and messing about like the devoted sisters they really are, Mrs Sticker turned to me with a smile and said proudly. “I made those.”
“They’ll do.” Was my reply. “They will do very well.” I heaved a sigh and thought; ‘God help the boys’. Eldest has steady boyfriend, youngest is on the verge of blossoming into young womanhood (In my capacity as the family ‘guard dog’ I have a large piece of wood ready to ‘persuade’ recalcitrant suitors to leave if need be. I think it will be needed.). Both girls have super personalities (Mostly). They will do very well in life. I love them both very dearly (But for crying out loud don’t tell them – the resultant ego trips would be insufferable.).

We let them off the leash while we pottered around the stalls looking and sampling produce for the Christmas festival table, both dashed around and bought handmade sweets before disappearing into the late night shopping. It was just a nice two hours out in the chill December air, away from the confines of the house.

I noticed one of the stallholders who I had chased off a restriction earlier in the day, even bought some excellent cheese off them. They didn’t recognise me out of uniform. Funny that, all people seem to look at is the Uniform, not me. Just as well sometimes.

That’s another thing I like, my friends and neighbours know who I am and what I do and not only don’t they mind, they actively support me. By actively support, I mean talk to me in public and tell me about the parking cheats whether I’m in or out of uniform. In return, I look after their on-street parking, and watch out for other things as well when I’m passing through. Suspicious people hanging about in the rear alleyways, people in places they ordinarily shouldn’t be, stuff like that. All I have to do is turn up my radio so any potential burglars can hear me coming. They slink off looking for other places to plague, where there isn’t a roaming uniformed presence.

On a more festively specific tack; another thing I really like (Read addicted to.); Mince pies with thin shortcrust pastry. The business of cooking a Christmas lunch; Say a ‘Norfolk Fowl’ (Remove bones from a Goose, Turkey, Chicken, Pheasant, Quail and Pigeon. Stuff Pigeon into boned Quail, Quail into Pheasant, Pheasant into Chicken, and so on; Takes eight hours to prepare for cooking but well worth it if you are entertaining a dozen or more. Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall , TV chef, did a ten bird version. I buy cheap frozen birds to keep the cost below £30.), perchance a nice joint of beef or a honey glazed ham for cold on Boxing day after our traditional long morning walk. Maybe some Salmon instead. Potato croquettes, bubble and squeak (Mashed potato and leftover sprouts with lots of pepper – yum.). Properly made Christmas Pudding made 3-6 months in advance, maybe a couple of ‘Experimental’ Sorbets. I cook to relax, and the great part is – you get to eat what you’ve just slogged hours to prepare. Talk about proactive consumption.

Mrs Sticker insisted I do something simple this year as there’s only the four of us. The jury decided on the following; Champagne breakfast (Bucks fizz to start the day) with scrambled eggs and smoked salmon on doorsteps of Granary Bread fried in olive oil on one side. Christmas lunch will be organic roast Beef with Yorkshire puds, baked veg and various other trimmings followed by profiteroles and ice cream if there’s room. Not that there will be.

You can tell I’m not a figure watching vegan (Pity the poor unhappy bastards.). To me cooking is pleasure not work. Incidentally, yes I am fully aware that Terry the Turkey or Barry the Bullock was wandering around a week or so before he was ‘cruelly’ slain for our table. In more prosperous years I have chosen a live bird and killed it myself and scrounge ‘organic’ beef whenever I can. If you’re not squeamish, try it; the taste difference between ‘factory’ and ‘free range’ is astounding. Same for fish, fresh mackerel straight off the hook poached in sea water is fabulous, light and refreshing. Nothing like the oily stuff the supermarkets sell.

Late Christmas Eve I’ll be outside, at the top of our street singing carols with some of my like minded neighbours as we usually do. Christmas morning will be spent playing cards as a family in the middle of a mass of wrapping paper and farting around with the ‘fun’ gifts. I’m toying with the idea of teaching the girls to play Poker properly this year so that they can have some fun with the boys instead of otherwise (I believe in equality, but on the grounds of ability – not political dogma.) when they finally leave home for University. The TV is all repeats and trash anyway, so party games will rule our roost until a belt loosening Christmas Lunch, and I will be forbidden to slink off to watch the DVD’s of ‘Sledge Hammer’ series one I have been dropping leaden hints about for weeks (Sod the socks and pullovers – give me mayhem every time.); until after six pm.

So, yes. I still wrinkle my nose up at the tacky, plasticky side of the festering season, but that doesn’t mean I hate the whole festival; just the commercial hype.

Oh yes; and for all you non Christians out there – Happy Solstice.

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

 

Something of interest

Our Management must be quietly sweating over a legal decision by a Mr Robin De Crittenden of Worcester, England, where he managed to get NPAS (the National Parking Adjudication Service) to overturn his fine on the basis that a fine cannot be levied without due process in a court of law, at least according to the 1689 bill of rights. Should the next stage of the process, a judicial review uphold this decision, it not only means that all us Parking Enforcement Officers may be out of a job, it may also mean that all those Management types who have been them bane of our working lives will be right behind us in the Jobcentre queue.

Mr Robin De Crittenden has already lodged an application for a Judicial Review of the 1991 Road Traffic Act in the high court. As one politician was heard to comment back in the 1990’s about an extension of pub licensing hours on Sundays. “It wasn’t conspiracy – it was cock up.” I think it was Malcolm Rifkind or Michael Howard who made this statement. However, the same statement applies.

Some people are of the opinion that the 1689 Bill of Rights is a dead letter, but the law will need to be changed in order for this to be so; and this may be a long and tedious process. Rather like the business with the Taxi Ranks, which hasn’t been sorted yet, and may take some time unless the 1991 act is invalidated by this legal challenge.

More work for the lawyers.

Sources;
Worcester Standard
Ic Birmingham
Epoch Times
British National Party
Newspaper.com
Peoples No Campaign
 

Mail from Santa!

Dear Bill,

Just a little missive re your posted message. I’m currently out of stock of the item you asked for as I’ve only got two and I’ve had to post them both on E-bay to pay the bloody parking fine I got from you last year. Rudolph and Prancer are still traumatised by the whole event and have difficulty getting off the ground. This means half the time I’m flying sideways with a tendency to stall if I’m not careful. Air Traffic Control can get
very shirty about some of my involuntary aerial antics I can tell you.

I mean how could you? I’m Santa bloody Claus for Christmas’ sake! Surely the Road Traffic Act 1991 doesn’t apply to animal towed vehicles like mine on double yellow lines Godsdammit! Anyway, I was
less than five minutes; your timer must have been wonky
and I was unloading.

What this means is – cheap socks and a cheesy tie for you again this year me lad. Think yourself lucky you get that.

Seasons Greetings you Bastard,

Santa.

P.S. The Reindeer droppings shortly to appear on your roof are a purely complementary gesture.


Well I never, it really was him. Whoops. Still think he should have challenged the ticket. Oh well, time for a little light refreshment methinks.

Looks like he's taken it to heart and is short circuiting the guys up in Brum.

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

 

The Joy of Shops part 1

My feet ache, my head aches, bits of me that I never had ache before ache. Don’t know how far I’ve walked today in heavy boots but it’s been far enough. Not much to show for it though, most people were behaving themselves and only one crafty so-and-so managed to pull the wool over my eyes, and that was because I was tired and did sloppy observations.

Christmas shopping is manic from our point of view. We are continually fire fighting against a tide of people all wanting to get into the same place at the same time and creating merry hell when they can’t. There are the disabled shoppers who park on the narrowest part of a busy street and cause us to tear our hair as traffic backs up around the town centre because we can’t touch them for three hours. There are the aggressive type ‘A’ personalities for whom everything is a contest and devil take the hindmost, stopping where they please so traffic can’t flow past, then giving you a mouthful as though you’re the one causing the snarl up.

Dear Santa,

Please send me a device that will teleport vehicles across time and space to the nearest scrap yard. If it can also send the vehicles owners across time and space to the nearest industrial mincing machine, that would be a plus. Don’t want world peace or an end to poverty just something to keep the streets clear.

I’ve been ever so good. Please.

Regards

Bill

 

Bad dream

I am a machine; my colleagues are machines. We function as clockwork toys at the whim of our mighty masters. Every hour of every day we must do duty. We are part of the great collective. We are assimilated. We have no minds; our bodies are programmed to serve the Masters. I walk and test machine. Walk to next street, read tickets, do duty, issue Penalty Charge Notices. My Masters command it so. My Masters track my every movement with their Computers. The RFID tags in our computers are for our Health And Safety. My Masters will know where I am at every second of every day. My Masters control my every waking thought, my every waking movement. They Know What Is Best.

Arrgh! Nightmare! That was a bad one! In the words of Kid Curry from the title sequence of 70’s TV show Alias Smith & Jones.
Kid Curry. “One thing we gotta get Heyes!”
Hannibal Heyes. “What’s that?”
Kid Curry. ”Outta this business!”

Sunday, December 18, 2005

 

I’d like to thank…

Tim Worstall who sent me an E-mail recently about an up and coming feature in The Independent newspaper, allegedly for Monday 19th December. Seems this blog has been rated as one of the top 12 of work related blogs in the UK and will, along with the other 11, be featured in the aforementioned daily publication.

Well thank you Tim for thinking so and putting my blog forward. I am never less than constantly astounded that people actually like reading my inane babble. Well written, possibly, but for me it’s my own place to vent my spleen at the general vacuity and stupidity of the world as I see it.

Speaking of which; no one in our hierarchy has told me that there is some sort of ‘amnesty’ for parking in contravention of the highway code, but today I have kept on coming across people who almost demand to be let off some atrocious parking offences with the excuse “But it’s Christmas!” Sorry chaps, but it isn’t Christmas yet and if you persist in parking where you shouldn’t – you’ll be booked. If we were to follow the same line of logic perhaps the Police should let off the next burglar to ransack your house “Because it’s Christmas.” Perhaps a light ticking off for the violent drunk who punches your spouse in the face “Because it’s Christmas.” Oh, think of the festive fun we could have letting all the anti social elements get away with it.

As an officer of the Civil side of the law, my answer is no. The restrictions have been put there to let other people have a crack at that parking place, keep the bus stops clear so the buses don’t end up blocking the streets and so boost everyone else’s blood pressure into low earth orbit. So if you find one of our little missives perched saucily on your windscreen; take it with good grace, and if necessary challenge it using the proper procedure. Failing that cough up promptly to get the discount and remember that the restrictions don’t stop being legal just “Because it’s Christmas.”

I thank you.

Saturday, December 17, 2005

 

Christmas holiday bitch

According to the latest edict from our head of department, Christmas day is not officially a holiday. Just let that soak in for a moment. According to our Management; officially we have no right to a day off on Christmas day. No double time or anything. Personally I think it’s a scam dreamed up by the worshippers of the great god of spreadsheets, those heretics who abase themselves in the temple of mammon where everything has a price, but very little has value.

Christmas day duty, which was being held over our head like a fiscal sword of Damocles, would be no different than any other day, with the same expectations of so many streets patrolled and so many tickets issued as a regular day. While we were being fed this line, our Senior Manager appeared to be actively enjoying winding us up. Since everything we do is monitored in our hand held computers, there is no escape; and you can bet your damned life that Senior Manager would skip away from Christmas lunch to make sure none of us were using the mess room at non-specified break times. This would mean no ‘light duties’ for anybody. Car parks would have to be kept open, streets patrolled and faults fixed. Even if everybody else was scoffing themselves silly and the streets were devoid of traffic. Of course our offices are shut down for the complete Christmas period with the office staff receiving paid holiday for the entire Christmas break.

We get three days including New Years day. One of which has to come from our regular entitlement I might add. I might as well be working in a Supermarket. Fortunately for me my next ‘long weekend’ of rest days fall on the 25th to the 28th, but unfortunately this means I miss out on the extra days in lieu I normally get for working the two bank holidays.

If I sound pissed off I am. It’s not that I would mind working through the entire festive season, it’s simply that I would like a little leeway for initiative and some better incentive to do so.

What further annoyed me was in a staged routine less convincing than the average Amateur Dramatics production, Senior Manager announced that our department would be closing for the Christmas break after all and weren’t they being generous? Words failed me. I briefly wondered if I could get away with throwing a chair but decided against it. The whole tone in which this was delivered was so damned condescending.

While I’m sounding off like this I’d like to air a bitch that has made all of us start looking for other jobs, even some of the keener members of staff. One of the other sticks that are used to beat us is the ‘You get a paid tea break’ gambit. One that isn’t always taken I might add, because there’s often nowhere to bloody well take it. Especially on the longer beats. Senior Manager also likes to trot out the old chestnut about how five minutes a day costs yay much, and multiply is by so many working days in the year and so many staff on duty meaning if we aren’t all out on beat ‘On the dot’ we’re wasting hundreds of thousands of the councils money. This means preparing for the days duties on your own time, setting up their equipment, unpaid.

Well if we all quit they can contract the whole damn lot out, which may well be the game plan. Then the council can take the flak from angry residents when the minimum wage contractors book everything that doesn’t move and don’t provide all the little ‘extra’s’ that we do, like helping out when the Police are thinly stretched as their ‘eyes and ears’. I know we catch stick from the locals; but if Central London style Parking Enforcement comes to our neck of the woods, I can predict some very interesting times for the council leadership indeed. As a voter and local taxpayer I guarantee it.

Friday, December 16, 2005

 

Homophobia

Braveheart has been on a rant today. He’s just worked out that one of the guys on the team is, wait for it; DEE DAH DAHHHH! Gay.

His behaviour upon discovering this suspicion was an acute homophobic rant. At lunch break we were treated to quotes like;
“If that c**t tries anything with me I’ll kick his teeth in!”
“Bloody poofs should be f**king castrated.”
“I’m not sitting next to him at the f**king Christmas Party!”
“F**king shirtlifting c**t!”
“Bastard better not try sucking my cock!”
And other such intellectual discourse, and so on and so on, blah-de-blah, bullshit, bullshit, yaddadah, yaddadah, ad infinitum, ad nauseum. It was all most of us older guys could do not to crack up and laugh the soft git out of the mess. Not that Braveheart is the sharpest tool in the box, but it’s taken him three months to work out what most of our shift have known for the best part of a year.

Not that it has occurred to him that the person he now knows is homosexual has never shown the remotest interest in Braveheart. Well I’ve got more bad news. Out of our little lot there are three homosexuals; one of whom is a female old Braveheart has been secretly lusting after. The poor lad has been positively salivating over her, but she’s high shouldered him at every opportunity. I’ve been tempted to tell him the bitter truth that she’s more likely to fancy one of the girls, but he’s such an arse-head of a Ticket Hound that I get a kick from watching him suffer.

As for our little clique of gays, I’ve never had a problem with any of them. All three work hard, take no shit and are good at their jobs. The only difference I can see is that they fancy members of their own sex, rather than the more conventional heterosexual arrangement. Even then they tend to stay within their own close social group and don’t do the camp Graham Norton / Julian Clary thing.

So what was he getting all uptight about? We are what we are. In Bridget Jones-speak, most of our team (Including yours truly) are ‘Smug Marrieds’. There are a few ‘Singletons’ and three gays. So what?

Thinking about it, maybe Braveheart’s a closet gay himself. Failing that, maybe his own sex life isn’t currently so wonderful (From what I hear and see this is not entirely unlikely – but then again I do not deal in idle gossip - well only a little bit.) and his fantasies are beginning to plumb the depths of his twisted psyche. Hmm. In the words of a late comic actor, a repressed homosexual himself; “Ooh Matron!”

Methinks someone; somewhere is going to have to grow up. For the meantime, schadenfreude rules.

One last thing; Tim Worstall has sent out an E-mail with the following link; Christmas Charity. You can help out by clicking on the ‘Download Firefox’ button in my sidebar, or zip on over to Tim’s blog and read the article as to why you should support this piece of seasonal charity.

Ten more days and counting…then three days off followed by a long weekend at New Year. I think I shall hibernate.

Thursday, December 15, 2005

 

In the public eye

I got contacted by one of the denizens of the Ministry of Truth the other day via e-mail inviting me to talk on a 5 Live Radio show. At the time I told them I was busy and hadn’t the time to do any phone interviews. Upon reflection and subsequent conversation with Mrs Sticker, I think I made the correct decision.

The conversation mostly went like this;
“Hey, you’ll never believe this, just read this e-mail, love.” I gushed.
“Wow. Bill, I told you that you could write well enough for them to take an interest.” At first my beloved seemed impressed, but then a shadow passed across her face. “I don’t think this is a good idea.” She said.
“I’ve already told them no, anyway.” I responded.
“Good. You need that job.”
“I know, I know. I can’t afford to blow my cover, we’ve talked about this before, remember?”
“Just so you shouldn’t let it go to your head.” She counselled.
“Yes love. I know that.” I got the message.
“You know what Bill, I think someone’s a bit curious about you. They’re digging. That’s how Watergate happened if you remember.” Was my darling wife teasing me by tweaking my paranoia, or simply voicing her own?
“Well I’m not so sure about that.” I hedged. I hate it when she does this to me. I like clear cut courses of action so that I can do the male ‘get on with it’ strategy. All this uncertainty bugs the hell out of me. “I’ve done all I can to cover my tracks. False remote e-mail mailbox. I’m never on line more than two or three minutes at a time. They’d have to get though about four layers of security and break the misuse of computers act into the bargain, as well as piss off Google.” I looked at her helplessly. “I don’t see what else I can do short of stopping the blog.”
“I’m only saying Bill. Just be careful, that’s all.”
“I will sleep tonight, honestly love.” I say, half serious.
“Come to bed.”
“Yes dear. Ow!” She knows when I take the mickey.
“Don’t take the piss, Mister Sticker.”
“Ye – okay. I’ll settle the dog down and I’ll be right up.”

End of conversation; I’m still concerned. Dave Copperfield of Coppers Blog almost got ‘outed’ shortly after giving a phone interview to a Radio programme. Since I have financial obligations which would be decimated by any exposure and damaged beyond repair should I put my anonymity at risk now or in the near future. I’m not responding to the call of the Mainstream Media. I have plans that I’m sticking to. The copyright lawyers can deal with the rest.

Just a note for any visiting Journalists. If you want me to answer questions I’ll do it. Simply send your questions in writing via e-mail to billsticker at gmail dot com. No phone calls, no logging on to your
forums, no personal appearances. I need my job and I actually like it as well.

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

 

Ticket hounds

It may not come as a huge surprise all you people out there that there are members of the Parking Enforcement fraternity who even we look down on. Beat poachers, Ticket monsters, High Rollers, or just plain w****rs, depending upon your viewpoint.

Personally I despise them, as they are the ones who get us the bad name by their over zealous interpretations of the parking laws.

I suppose it’s our own fault, a human failing, and our own insecurity encouraging us to compare our performance against each other. The question is always the same at the end of the shift- “How did you do today?”
“Beat F – totally dead. Only got four.” Or maybe, “Okay. Beat B. I hit double figures.” Both of which will get grudging nods of respect.
Then the ‘Ticket Hound’ sashays in with a smirk and announces their total which is double anybody elses. It isn’t bullshit, but you just know that slimy sod has done it by encroaching on everyone elses assigned beat and cutting corners. Issuing tickets before the ‘observation time’ is up, not telling anyone that they are cutting across your territory, so the first thing you know is that a row of tickets has blossomed on a row of cars which rightly speaking should have been dealt with by the assigned beat officer. Assigned beat officer gets the flak from the angry public while ‘Ticket hound’ blithely sails on back into their own assigned territory with a pouch full.

What pisses me off most is that these are the guys who don’t do the job properly, the short cut specialists, the ones who skimp on the evidence collection. They will always issue a ticket instead of moving someone on. Which many of us feel is unfair and legitimises all those urban myths about us hiding behind trees and bus stops – because they are the sorry sad acts who feel that tricking motorists is necessary.

This has always offended my sense of decency and fair play. Yes I know we’re up against people who think nothing of using threats, trickery and outright fraud, but if you don’t look after your conscience, how will you sleep at night? Yes, I hand out parking tickets, but if I’ve nabbed you, you can bet it was fair and square. That’s what keeps me going in the face of overt public disapproval.

Monday, December 12, 2005

 

Ever wonder why…

You saw a Parking Enforcement Officer near your vehicle and you didn’t get a ticket? Here are a selection of answers. They may not be the right ones, but they’re as good as you’re going to get.

Reason 1: Full bladder
Face it, we’re humans not machines and a sudden need to ‘Water the horses’ can overcome even the most desperate ticket hound. Happened to me today, the need became so urgent I had to leave two contraventions or a puddle. You can only tie a knot in it for so long.

Reason 2: Recall
PEO got called to a ‘special’ by supervisor who needed a body for one of those little ‘It’s your turn in the barrel’ jobs, pronto. Oh yes, and he / she / it wants you back yesterday.

Reason 3: Tea break
The PEO’s feet are sore, they’re gasping for a drink and there’s nothing for it but to knock off for fifteen minutes or they’ll never get a rest break. That one extra ticket is the least of their concerns.

Reason 4: End of shift
Yes, we don’t get paid overtime very often, so the urge to return to base and go home is often stronger than a homing pigeons instinct. Sod the contraventions. They’ve booked enough idiots and taken enough crap from their adoring public for one day so it’s time for Andy Pandy to go home and play the sausage game with Looby Lou if she’s (Or he, who am I to judge?) in the mood. Failing that, the pub is open and they’ve worked up a serious thirst.

Reason 5: Can’t be arsed
It’s been a long day, the Manager has been on their case for weeks and they just aren’t in the mood today. PEO might just tick it off the machine and claim that the malefactor did a runner. Who, apart from the driver and they, are to know?

Reason 6: Foot pain
Quite common this. You walk as much as we do, all day every day and the attrition of wearing ‘Safety’ boots all day takes it’s toll. Plantar Fasciitis, hard skin, other foot problems, stress fractures, knee joint problems, hip joint problems and tendonitis all get to you after six hours on your feet. Paradise can be as simple as a foot spa and cup of cocoa.

Reason 7: Hangover
Your friendly local neighbourhood Parking Enforcement Officer has a tongue like an Axminster carpet that the dog’s just pissed on. Their head is throbbing like the percussion section of the Berlin Philharmonic. Let’s face it, they can’t afford to take a sickie because they’re out of sick leave and all they want right this minute is a quiet life. Any more fragile and they’ll shatter. Last thing they want is aggro. Let the ambitious sods take the flak. At least until the paracetomol kicks in.


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100% drug free isn’t exactly true. I am fuelled by either caffeine or alcohol, sometimes by both.

Sunday, December 11, 2005

 

Christmas lights

Early evening foot patrol yesterday. I’m up at the northern end of town on my way back to base for late tea break. Everyone is behaving themselves for ten minutes so my eyes are feasting on the tail end of an attractive sunset.

A few of the houses on this beat have been decked out in a wide variety of Xmas lights (Deliberate Xmas there, not Christmas.) which say nothing but that the householders have had their sense of taste and any artistic talent surgically removed. For the most part it’s all rather cheesy and tasteless. You know the sort of thing, inflatable Santa’s and snowmen, light ropes highlighting 60’s and 70’s architectural detail that should be quietly buried at midnight in a dark cellar. Real two fingers down the throat stuff.

This is not to say that these things have their place. In a 1950’s shop window as part of a display maybe. Perchance. Possibly. We-ell, maybe not eh? There are some things so tacky and tasteless (10ft inflatable snowmen made by slave labour in China) that they should be banned by international treaty. If you really think the Kyoto accords mean anything.

On a more tasteful note. Along a stretch of one road someone has draped strings of little lights in loops and whorls on a line of trees. In one of my few idle moments I found myself thinking; “Wonder if that means something insulting in Arabic?”
We’ll soon find out when some PC zealot starts whining that their ‘rights’ are being infringed by having to look at coloured lights in a pattern that just might look like some ancient Middle Eastern cursive script saying ‘have a nice day, dickhead’. No doubt we’ll see the news on Ken Frosts nannyknowsbest.com site. Think it looks quite tasteful myself. Simple yet appropriate. Worth a thousand garish inflatable Santa’s and Reindeer.

The more Christmases I experience, despite being an agnostic, the more I appreciate the more traditional version. You know, proper carol singers or even wassailers, even midnight Church services (Doctor, doctor, I think I’m a closet Christian!) At this time of year there’s something comforting in the sheer continuity they provide. An anchor. Something solid to hang your feelings on. A reason to feel good for surviving another year, perhaps a little quiet ‘thank you’ to the universe for the good things in your life (Love of a good woman, the odd laugh or two and a full belly.). That sort of simple thing.

Decorations for the festering season are going up this weekend in the Sticker household. Youngest has her own ideas, so Mrs Sticker and I have given her permission to deck out the house in her own fashion, with the exception of two rooms. We have pre-emptively put up some modest lights and baubles in the front hall and window to forestall any Christmas overkill. The dog is totally confused and hiding under the living room table. Even his fleas have been keeping a low profile (See photo of dog).

No doubt eldest will not say a word until Christmas lunch when she’ll engineer a spat just for pure devilment, saying ‘why didn’t she get a say?’ in her imperious fashion.
This year I have my big shut up line planned. “Because you didn’t want to, or you’d have said.” Then when she tries the big dramatic exit, we’re all going to ignore her and carry on as if she wasn’t there, followed by the “Oh hello” gambit upon her dramatically staged return to the fold two hours later.

Oh the joy of the festive season. Pass me that bottle, son. I’ve a-feelin’ I need some of that thar sippin’ whiskey.

Saturday, December 10, 2005

 

Drama

There have been odd comments on this being a dull or uninteresting blog. My response to that is generally; dull is as dull thinks. What do you expect? I’m not involved in a profession with huge dramatic capability like Policeman, Fire-fighter or Paramedic. There are generally no breathless foot chases, fire blowbacks or flashing blue lights off to save a life. My job mostly entails pounding a beat looking for people who park illegally and penalising them with Parking Tickets. Although as regular readers are aware this is far from the whole story.

Now this is the big ‘however’; it is axiomatic that the further you travel on foot, the more you will see, so I tend to see quite a lot. It is also true that you can’t be omniscient; you can’t see everything, everywhere.

Sometimes, if I may take liberties with the old Shakespearian cliché; that some are born dramatic, some attain drama, and some have drama thrust upon them. So it is with us. Because we are simply there as uniformed Parking Enforcement Officers, stuff happens.

I’ve kept this post back for a long time and altered a few key details, just in case my employers think they can identify us and use this blog as a stick with which to beat me. Not that I think they ever read my nonsensical drooling, but I prefer to err on the side of safety. Like I have often said, I need the money.

At the time I was on one of the ‘perimeter’ beats that are not quite leafy suburbs, but not town centre either. Control comes over the airwaves with a message from CCTV;
“Message to all Patrolling Officers, stand by.” Hello, thinks I, we don’t hear this often. All of a sudden this VW skids round a corner into the road I’m patrolling. “All officers be on the lookout for VRM:” CCTV reels off the number. Bloody hell, that’s him!
“515 responding control, Vehicle seen heading northbound along Chavland road at speed. Dark coloured VW hatchback, three males.” I reel off the descriptions and registration from my brief glimpse.
“Thankyou 515.” Control logs off with; “Over and out.” Thirty seconds later another of our lot chimes in.
“This is 499. Vehicle turned right into Shire road, almost knocked over some pedestrians. One lady is down, going to assist. Over.”

All of a sudden we’re all alert and focussed, keeping the airwaves clear for the next report. Control currently has no ‘Units’ available, but I’ve got a feeling this will empty the Police canteen. It is as they say, a ‘live’ one. My mobile phone rings, it’s one of the town centre beats. “Hello Bill.” It’s Big Harry.
“Wotcher Harry. What’s going on?” I respond.
“Gang just turned over one of the local Jewellers. Bastards nearly ran me down.” Harry sounds a bit aggrieved. Wouldn’t you be?
“Yeah, saw him tear arsing up Chavland road.” Suddenly the sound of sirens Dopplering around the streets can be heard over the phone.
“I phoned it in direct.” Says Harry. In other words he didn’t bother with his radio; he just dialled 999 on his mobile.
“499 to control. No Ambulance required, the lady had just fallen over.” Comes over the radio. Well that’s a relief. A squad car speeds past me, blues and two’s at full stretch.
“He’s forgotten his sandwiches.” I remark dryly. I can hear Big Harry’s rumbling chuckle on the other end of the line. We’ve done our bit. Panic over and back to work.

That afternoon I’m covering the northern end of the beat which borders an industrial estate. Something caught my attention, I forget what it was, so I did a double take and stepped back a few paces to get a better look. It’s a dark coloured VW hatchback parked in a non restricted street which we don’t normally patrol. I check the VRM (Vehicle registration mark or Number plate.). Sure enough, it’s the same car, so I walk to the end of the road and call it in to Control. “Okay 515, get out of there.” Is the response. That is exactly what I do.

Turns out the three guys were long gone, but a month later they did get caught pulling the same type of caper in a neighbouring town. From what I heard on the grapevine; CCTV evidence and some forensics linked them to the VW I’d seen and they copped a guilty plea. Job done.

Like I’ve often said; this job isn’t all about issuing parking tickets.

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Friday, December 09, 2005

 

Big mistake?

I made the mistake of watching TV a couple of nights ago. Big, huge, humungous mistake, as anything but a movie only serves to make me angry. The news is PC and slanted, any wildlife programmes are anthropomorphic dross; the ‘Dramas’ are all soaps in disguise, and reality TV is complete Sierra Hotel India Tango.

For example, ‘Space Cadets’ on Channel 4 has to be one of the most expensively pointless programmes ever made. Its premise appears to be; “Hey, let’s fool some poor gullible sods into thinking they are going into space so everyone out there in couch potato land can laugh at them.” There is a rich vein of Anglo Saxon invective I would like to heap on the programme makers but I just can’t be arsed. All I can say is this; those who commission such programmes must be a complete load of Charlie Uniform November Tango Sierras. This sort of thing cheapens the idea of human endeavour and ridicules anyone who aspires to actually achieve anything worthwhile. It’s a one trick pony that isn’t even funny. Serves me right for even watching five minutes of it.

Just to enliven any doom and gloom I might inadvertently be spreading; today I was busy dealing with a couple of vehicles just off the main drag this afternoon. I get one guy to move on, but I’ve just issued to the other when I hear running footsteps. Oh-oh. This could be trouble. The footsteps stop a few paces away.

“Are you Officer 515?” Demands a breathless female voice from behind me. My mind automatically goes into ‘Oh shit’ mode at this point and I put on my ‘professional’ face while right hand drifts down to panic button.
“Yes madam, how can I help you?” I say brightly as I turn around, ready to duck, block and dodge.
“Thank you!” Next thing I know a quite attractive dark haired woman, in her late twenties I think, has wrapped her arms around my neck and planted a very solid kiss on my lips. “You got the bastard!” She drops off and stands back a little, looking very happy and bright eyed.
“Sorry, er, Miss.” Okay, I’m confused. I’m trying not to drop my hand held with the surprise.
“You got my ex’s car.” She says by way of explanation. “He’s been nicking my parking space ever since we broke up.” She bobs up and gives me another kiss. “Your ticket got rid of him at last. He’s completely out of my life. Now I can move on.”
“Right Miss.” I’m a little stunned. For once, words fail me.
“Thank you!” She waves as she almost skips off down the street. Well I never. They’ll never believe this in the mess room. So I didn’t tell the lads, they’d only be jealous. Even one of the new girls who is openly gay.

A short while later, memory blossoms into focus. Last week I was having a bit of a blitz on residents permits and caught a black 3 series BMW with an out of date permit on the next door beat, two streets away. The driver had turned up and given me some verbal, but as usual I simply stood my ground and he went away muttering dark threats about ‘Reporting’ me. As I recall he was a surly yuppie type with a higher than justified opinion of himself. Who knows? Maybe I did do her a big favour?

All I know is it beats hell out of the usual tellings off we get from the general public. Mrs Sticker’s mock-jealous response is that I am not to make a habit of getting kissed by younger women, or the dog will have someone to share his basket with at night. What the hell. Back to reality again.

Thursday, December 08, 2005

 

New Supervisor

Today has been manic. Town centre beat and two Christmas markets to contend with. No Police or PCSO’s about, apparently they had more important things to do, so we Parking Enforcement Officers were left as the only uniformed presence around, if you exclude the Salvation Army band.

New supervisor started last week and today came up with his master plan. His grand design is to drive around the streets in our van looking for contraventions and directing us via radio. Right. Okay. So he gets to sit on his fat arse while we have to damn near run everywhere. I know my job keeps me fit with all this walking, but I’m drawing the line at having to jog every bloody where.

At this point, Kerry our Line Manager, bless all of her ten tiny little toes, vetoed the idea on the grounds that driving her workforce into the deck wasn’t exactly a brilliant idea.
“But it’ll increase productivity!” Complains new Supervisor.
“For a week before everyone goes off sick.” Counters Kerry. Obviously the new Supervisor wants to ‘make his mark’ and doesn’t see how hard we already work, well most of us anyway.

Personally, I think he’s been secretly brainwashed by Senior Manager who has hypnotised him into thinking we can catch every possible parking contravention there is. We know that the average ‘ticket rate’ is one per hour. New supervisor seems to think he can double it by dropping us at ‘Trouble spots’. Not without getting us all hung drawn and quartered by an angry mob of motorists methinks.

Besides, we’ve put a lot of hard work into getting ourselves tolerated by the vast majority of motorists in our little corner of Chavland. On occasion we even get offered free stuff (Free snacks, coffee, that sort of thing) from certain businesses and individuals, which we have to turn down as this could be construed as taking a ‘bribe’ and means instant dismissal. I can see the point but you’d think Management would ease up once in a while. We do have one or two bad apples in the barrel, but does that mean we all get tarred with the same brush? There’s a cake shop in town whose proprietor always invites me in if I’m on that beat, but I have to refuse.

I need this job. Surprisingly enough I actually like it as well.

New supervisor wants to be a ‘new broom’ and increase the number of tickets. He thinks he can do it sitting on his fat arse in a van. Been there, done that. Sounds good in theory, but in practice you get high rates of staff burnout and sick days which are counter productive. We’re not supermen, we’re a diverse bunch of humans who like being out in the open air and walking a lot. If we have to hand out parking tickets to errant drivers, so be it. New Supervisor may end up getting told to stick it where the sun shineth not.

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

 

How important is it…

I chased a motorist off a taxi rank today. No ticket, just told them they couldn’t stop there. Their snotty response was “Well I’ll just have to break the law by using my phone as I drive then.” Bloody cheek. They were committing a criminal offence by stopping on a taxi rank anyway. Oh, sorry, didn’t you know? It is still a criminal offence in England to park on a taxi rank.

Incidentally, am I missing something? Does your need to make or take a mobile phone call invalidate the Road Traffic Act? Do you get to make that call no matter what? How important is it that you have to make your call right this moment and sod everyone else? Does the law not apply to people who just have to make that mobile call, then? Stupid person.

Speaking as someone who has on three separate occasions almost been involuntarily shuffled off this mortal coil by assholes with mobiles wedged to their ears, the next person I catch like that gets one slapped on the windscreen with no mercy. Don’t even get me started on ringtones. A couple of the guys have invested in the most asinine ringtones available (Always set at maximum volume) which have on several occasions made others (Including my good self) in the mess room request a large hammer to put said device in ‘Silent’ mode, permanently.

Stepping back from full rant mode; lets look at it rationally. Have you ever listened to the majority of people and what they talk about? Nothing of sufficient importance to justify blocking people earning a living or endangering other road users. Most of what they say is inconsequential personal stuff. Very little is of such urgency that it would prove life threatening if the call were postponed.

Don’t agree? Right, I’m going to describe an actual incident from personal experience exactly as it happened. This has given credence to my prejudice.

Several years ago I was working on contract with a company who didn’t mind me turning up to their premises on a big hairy motorcycle. My route took me along wide dual carriageway roads with comparatively light traffic. Safe enough. On this particular morning I had the outside lane all to myself as I was taking the third exit off a roundabout. This roundabout has three northbound lanes, three southbound and one two lane exit eastbound, this being England. I was going to take the eastbound exit. Conditions dry, high angle sunshine with no visibility impairment. I chose my line and entered the junction in the right hand lane. Just as the British Highway Code rule dictates. From my left, a red hatchback, dark haired woman single occupant driver, mobile phone clamped to right ear accelerates across two lanes of traffic and almost forces me up the kerb of the roundabout and into a road sign. Fortunately I am able to brake almost to a standstill while driver of red car clips kerb of roundabout in front of me before leaving on first northbound exit, swerving to left hand lane as she does so. My helmet filled with imprecations as I heaped abuse on the bimbo who had almost knocked me over. I was still fizzing an hour later.

Several years on, I’d still like to strangle that moron. Purely in the interests of road safety you understand. Sterilisation should also be an option.

Since that day, I have been positively convinced that anyone who drives a motor vehicle without a hands free kit is an utter idiot. How about a minor alteration to the law where if a driver is involved in a collision (No such thing as ‘Accidents’) which results in death, an automatic charge of manslaughter should be brought. Anyone whose mobile phone log says that a call was in progress during a collision should be automatically at fault and lose their no claims bonus. At least the people bereaved by such foolishness might feel some sense of justice. Lets have some redress for their victims.

Famous last words heard from rock drummer Cozy Powell while making a call on his mobile phone “Oh shit.”

So is your call that important?
 

Ho ho, he he, ha ha…

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Found by Muppetlord. Hilarious but foul mouthed. Like I said, it’s not the festival I have a problem with, but the idea that you can be politically correct or mess around with tradition.

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

 

They’re coming to take me away…..

Please. Today has been absolutely insane and I think I shall soon be going likewise. Supervisor, Senior Manager, Office and CCTV have all been on my case, chasing me from one task to another. All this and the joys of the general dyslexic included. In the words of the H2G2 character, Marvin the Paranoid Android “I ache, therefore I am.”

First thing, I’m sent traipsing across town with a sheaf of printouts to the Office, who catch me in the “Oh Bill, can you just do this for us” trap. Senior Manager catches me in the office and has two or three ‘little jobs’ he wants done. For the next two hours I am shuttling between various council locations like a courier. Half way through, CCTV have a problem that apparently only I am available for. I can almost hear the rest of my shift sniggering at the way I’m sent careering from one side of bloody town to the next. You can almost hear the sympathy from the way everyone clammed up when there was a ‘special’ job to be done.

There is an old joke that goes like this; Back in the days of sail a young man joins a Ship to sail the wide oceans in search of his fortune. At the end of the third week at sea, a large barrel with a greased bung hole in the side is brought up from the hold and placed on deck, lashed to the foremast. The young man speaks to the first mate about this; “Pray Master Mate, what is the purpose of yon barrel?”
The first Mate looks him up and down before speaking. “Well me bucko, tis for those poor sailor men who feel the need of a woman, yet there is no such wanton aboard, the Cap’n being of a puritanical mind. So we poor sailors must insert our manhood in the greased hole there to obtain relief from our womanless state.”
“Pray tell me good Master Mate, should I feel the need of such comfort, how should I avail myself?” Says the young man.
“Ah me laddo, just put thy name here and you shall have the comfort of that barrel on Sunday, Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday.”
“Good Master Mate, what about Wednesdays and Saturdays?”
The Mate claps the young man on the shoulder and replies; “Ah, why ‘tis then your turn in the barrel.”

Today has been my turn in the barrel.

Monday, December 05, 2005

 

Ever just have one of…..

Those days when nothing goes right. First day back after a very pleasant weekend and everything’s gone to hell, back and stopped off at the nearest purgatory services for an overpriced burger and fries.

Hand held Computer was damp and the screen playing up. This meant that if I didn’t look twice and double check, which is very easy to do when the drizzle was constantly clouding the screen, that the naughty people, at least six of them, got away without one of my carefully crafted and exquisitely autographed parking tickets on their windscreens. My printer jammed with the damp, meaning that another two got away with polluting my beautiful double yellow lines while I was forced to return to base for another printer.

This offended my delicate sensibilities so much that just as darkness was falling I was ready to pack in all in and go for a quiet cry in the corner. Nothing went right.

Just as well I had a good weekend. Had it been like one of the usual ones full of whinging kids, extended shopping trips and minimal alcohol consumption, I think I’d be a prime candidate for the rubber room around about now.

Saturday I went for a beer and a natter with my blogging mate from over the water; Staghounds. It was so nice to be let off the leash for once to wander around a few of the better local hostelries and sink a couple of pints in good company. Very civilised; I’d almost forgotten what it was like to talk with someone with common interests outside of work, such a rare pleasure.

To close; the Blogfather has reviewed this blog and found that it shows respect for the family, (Love the photo – looks nothing like me) so it’s not all doom and gloom. Oh well, it’s been a long day; I’ll have to get my beauty sleep or I’ll be terribly grumpy in the morning.

For those of you who have fallen foul of me or my colleagues, to be sure that you've been done fair and square (Wouldn't be sporting otherwise.) check out these guys at parkingticket.co.uk.

Friday, December 02, 2005

 

Wet and dry

Very wet patrolling today. It being Friday there were plenty of malefactors who thought that as it was tipping it down they could do what they pleased. As I think about the days events the phrase ‘fish in a barrel’ sidles into my consciousness. However, if I’d stayed out any longer in the rain I think I would have started to evolve gills and fins.

Not that I’m a ‘Ticket hound’, desperate to get my ‘quota for the day’. If they are blatantly begging to be booked that’s their own silly fault is my view.

My problem was an unscheduled visit to the mess room by Senior Manager while we were all hiding from the rain. He was not impressed.
“What are you all doing in here!” He demanded.
“It’s raining hard out there.” Someone protested.
“I did not give you permission to go onto Wet Weather.” Snorted his imperious majesty. “We pay you to be out on patrol. Come on!”

With ill grace and much muted swearing we allowed ourselves to be ushered out on patrol. I was peeved because I’d come back for my morning tea break and was waiting for a gap between showers to get out under a nice dry awning or archway. Now here we were, being shunted out at a time not of our choosing into the wind and rain.

There’s going to be a little comeback this time, because enough of us feel that Senior Manager is bang out of order on several counts. The first being that our kit is not properly waterproof. Showerproof okay, but not for conditions like today. The radios and little hand held computers are also not designed for continuous immersion. Our note books are of the cheap and nasty persuasion that disintegrate in high humidity, never mind proper rain. The second count being we get very wet very quickly in conditions like these, and if the Union won’t back us up on this one then we’ll invite a couple of others in to pitch to us and see if that wakes them up. The third is I wonder how our illustrious leaders will react when half our number goes down with the resultant lurgi.

I wouldn’t mind so much if there was a little carrot to go along with all the stick we put up with. If any other section of the Local Authority was run like this, the outcry would be heard in the next county, but as we are the much hated Parking Enforcement Officers, they think they can treat us badly. We are the modern day lepers, doomed to stalk the land startling ordinary, unblemished mortals with our habitual cry of “You can’t park there, mate.”

One of these days I’ll get round to getting a life, I’ve heard they can be very nice.

Thursday, December 01, 2005

 

Looking forward to..

Not much to write about but rain today, so I won’t. What is there interesting to say about rain apart from Oscar Wilde’s lesser known quote; “Very wet, rain. Some might say too wet for words.” Too wet for my notebook, the ink runs faster than a sprinter with a rocket up his bottom.

I’m going to be positive. I am very much looking forward to my first meeting with a fellow blogger this weekend. My mate Staghounds is paying me a visit as he passes briefly through my locale. The game plan is that I show him around my little corner of Chavland and we go set the world to rights over a couple of pints. Test out the new extended licensing hours and see how far they stretch.

Mrs Sticker has let me off the leash for the day so I can find out who the person behind the blogged prose is, but I must not be back late, as she says she ‘has plans’ for me. Hmm. I don’t know whether that will turn out to be a good or a bad thing. My beloved can have a strange and rather robust sense of fun sometimes. Never mind, my bruises always fade after a week or so.
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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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E-mail address : billsticker at gmail dot com

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