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Monday, October 16, 2006


Underexploited skills and a blast from the past

Every so often micro-skills you learned in a mis-spent youth come in handy. Yesterdays beneficiary was a motorist who had gone and locked his keys in his car. Chas, who nowadays knows more about my background than I consider healthy, called me on the phone from one of the on street parking bays.

“Bill, you anywhere near Harmer Road?”
“I’m about five minutes away. What’s up mate?”
“You know anything about cars?” Silly question.
“A bit.” Of course I do you daft bugger.
“Er, got a customer with a problem.” He sounds concerned.
“Okay mate, I’ll be there in less than five.” Why’s he calling me?

I actually got there in less than that to find a panic stricken member of the public and a slightly flustered Chas. “Bloke’s gone and locked his keys in the ignition. He’s terrified I’ll give him a ticket.” Chas explained.
“Which one is it?” Chas pointed the car out to me. “Right, I’ll have a look.” Luckily enough it was an old 1980’s model, which made the job relatively easy. I got out my multi-tool and checked the locks to see if they were anything like the old Ford locks which could be opened with a penknife blade if you knew what you were doing. Having exhausted that line of enquiry, and being stood over by an anxious and rather red faced driver I had a brainwave. “Borrow your multi-tool mate?” I asked Chas, who handed it over, obviously wondering what stunt I was going to pull.

There is a trick with some older vehicles, where with two blades you can trip the boot (Trunk for my non UK readers) lock and access the vehicle like that. This time, no such luck, so I did the next best thing which was to carefully spring the catch on the offside rear window. There is a knack to this – don’t ask where I learned it, save to say this was the first time I’ve ever used this trick for real. You have to be careful or the window will crack, the catch break and said vehicles owner would be sending the Council the bill, which would in all likelihood come out of my wages. Fortunately I got it right first time. Ten seconds later, the catch is sprung, window opened, drivers door open and relieved driver is back in the drivers seat, effusive with thanks. Makes a nice change.

I gave Chas back his multi-tool as we were left at the roadside.
“You know a bloke called Windy?” He asked me with a knowing look.
“Bloody hell, is the old bastard still breathing?” I replied. Oh dear, I thought. This sounds like an ‘oh shit’ moment.
“He drinks in my local. We got talking one night and he mentioned your name. I told him I worked with you and he got to telling a few tales over a pint.” Oh shit. The bag of Cat the out is. So that’s why he called me first.
“First off Chas. Don’t believe everything Windy tells you. How do you think he got his nickname?” I cautioned. Windy is a nice bloke as retired psychopaths go, but he does so exaggerate.

“Right; but is it true that you and a few mates…” He reels off the tale and I have to suppress a little blush.
“Yeah, well.” I hedge. “Not exactly like that. She let us in for one thing.” Sodding hell! This was over twenty five years ago!
“Well what about….” He repeats the anecdote.
“Yes I did have an argument with the bloke and yes he had just done five years, but it was nothing like that serious.” I’ve got to have words about this. Windy is seriously out of order here. Chas is looking at me with new eyes. I have to discourage him.
“Look Chas, I’m a reformed character. I never got into that life as much as other people say. It’s all crap.” I explain. “Windy’s the biggest bullshitter this side of the Smoke.”
“He said you’d say that.” There’s a strange look on Chas’s face I’m not comfortable with.
“Yeah, right.” Here endeth the conversation. Thence I returned to my allotted beat leaving Chas to wonder what the truth really was.

Actually that’s gospel. Despite mixing with a right bunch of tearaways when I was young and immature, I never did anything really wrong apart from drink way too much and watch some of my less reputable chums pull these stunts. I make no other claim but a ferociously retentive memory for all sorts of foolishness. Honest Officer, it weren’t me, I din’t do nuffin. I wanna lawyer!!!!!

Update:In future, some of my other rabid drivelling will now be posted over at my new Wordpress blog ‘Outside the lines’ which will have nothing to do with parking at all, more to do with my personal politics and views on real life as I see it. Promise. Hopefully it won’t keep going crunch like blogger has of late.


Blogger Calabar Gal said...


Monday, October 16, 2006 8:52:00 pm  
Blogger Stan Still said...

Your professional opinion is required at

Waste of Time

If you have chance.


Monday, October 16, 2006 10:26:00 pm  
Blogger Honest Uncle said...

I hope you checked that it really was his car...

Tuesday, October 17, 2006 2:27:00 pm  

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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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