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Tuesday, January 31, 2006

 

A tale from another city

This may just be an urban myth, but if there’s anyone out there who can confirm the truth of it – I think we’d all like to know.

The story I have been told is that a Parking Enforcement Officer was issuing a Penalty Charge Notice to a vehicle. The vehicles Driver / Owner arrived and heatedly demanded that the Officer remove the penalty charge notice. The Officer quite rightly refused, pointing out that the Owner would have to follow the challenge procedure on the back of the PCN. The Owner delivered a few choice insults about the Officers parentage. The Officer was not unnaturally upset and stood his / her ground. Owner tore PCN envelope from under the windscreen and threw it to the ground. Officer stooped down to pick up fallen PCN envelope and Owner of vehicle lashed out with his foot, kicking officer in the head.

Officer suffered cuts and concussion. Treated in hospital.

Owner was arrested and charged with assault and GBH. No excuse. A custodial sentence was handed down.

Officer had several days off sick with the injuries sustained, and upon his / her return to work was served with an official written warning from his / her employers for a breach of their health and safety rules.

My take on this is; okay, the Officer could have walked away earlier, but my experience tells me that turning your back too soon on an angry person is an invitation to being struck from behind. Besides, it is not known if the officer concerned had anywhere to go to. You can’t walk away if you’re backed into a corner.

As far as I can see, the Officers only real mistake was stooping down to recover the discarded PCN envelope. He / she should have let it lie, since that would mean the Owner would not have had the option of paying the discounted fine. As for the rest, the blame is a moot point. The kick would probably have been delivered anyway, no matter what the Officer did, so why penalise the injured party?

In the light of this story I repeat my assertion that we Enforcers are regarded as ‘resources’, not people, by the very forces who are supposed to look after our interests.

Your comments please. Firm offers of alternative employment are solicited.
 

Class war fallout

One of the things which has been nagging around in my head on night patrol is why we have the kind of working mans gripes and groans that abound throughout the blogosphere. We hear of suspensions and sackings of the voices competent at their job but outspoken about less than competent higher ups (Judging from the standard of English I see in some Management diktats, I sometimes wonder how some of our Managers got their jobs).

Here is my hypothesis; We are living in the tail end of Class War and its fallout. The old order is almost gone, but what it has been replaced with is a lot worse. Freedom of speech is being eroded; centralisation is almost pernicious and impacts daily on our lives. As a friend who visited me last year commented. “Britain is a socialist country.” Upon examination, I decided that he had a genuine point.

So why the continual crackdowns and ‘efficiency’ drives from on high if this is a Socialist State where the working man is king? Well, having discarded the bad old days (There never has been any ‘Golden Age’, as any in depth research will tell you - this is merely nostalgia.) and its abuses, we now have the bad new days. The new order is insecure; it has no traditional authority so it must vigorously enforce its new found power. It must centralise and consolidate in order to become secure and establish itself. In addition, the economy must become politicised and command, rather than in ‘free’ societies demand driven.

Command driven economies and Governments cannot brook dissent because of their very nature. The abuses of power in any one party state (The old USSR, China, Nazi Germany, in fact any and all Feudal, Communist, Fascist or Socialist States) are matters of record.

We now have a new ‘Aristocracy’, but these do not believe in ‘laissez faire’ like some of the old order, they are new and insecure in their power and so will seek to consolidate their influence. To do so they must prove their ‘worth’ by getting ‘results’. Their hidden dogma is that everything can be measured, categorised and honed to machine like perfection. Whilst one sits in the Ivory tower of a higher management meeting this sounds all very well and good. However, what the higher ups seem to forget is that machines are not men and men are not machines (For any radical feminists dropping by ‘men’ is just a generic term for BSHB, or bog standard human being – of whatever sex, okay?). Besides, machines can only attain a particular ‘efficiency’ for so long in a given set of ideal conditions. Movement means friction, friction means wear, and wear leads to a loss of efficiency. The harder the work, the more friction, the more friction, the more wear, the more wear, the less efficiency. It’s all so simple.

All this because the new ‘Aristocracy’ have to scramble to prove their worth. To prove their worth they have to ride hard on the shoulders of those they rule. There is no ‘slack’ in the system, no allowance for human frailty apart from what can be ‘blagged’ or scavenged through low animal cunning. Budgets made ever tighter actually harm efficiency because equipment is bought to cost, not quality, so increasing long term spending through increased maintenance costs. Training is not properly done. Necessary experience gathering is curtailed. Lack of experience means mistakes and downtime to ‘fix’ a system. More downtime means more losses via ‘inefficiency’ and the system gradually collapses or costs need to increase exponentially, shoring up an unstable situation.

To concatenate analogies; continual drives for ‘more’ efficiency end up flogging a willing horse. ‘Cheese paring’ starves the willing horse, which rapidly becomes a dead horse, and there’s no use flogging that at all.

Stuff it, I’ve just done another boring graveyard shift with another three to do this week and I’m begging for the weekend to arrive.

To close; there is a little anecdote taken from the writings of Aelfric, an English (Wessex) 10th Century Anglo Saxon monk and chronicler.
The (Paraphrased) story goes that Aelfric was passing by a field in which a ploughman was slaving away with his ox-team and plough. Aelfric stopped to observe the ploughman at work and found out that the ploughman was a bonded servant performing ploughing on his Lords land.
“That must be a great labour.” Quoth Aelfric.
“It is such great labour.” Replied the ploughman “Because I am not free.”

I am not free. That’s what’s really pissing me off. It’s not a case of “Here comes the new boss, same as the old boss” more like “Here comes the new boss – keep your head down”.

Monday, January 30, 2006

 

Darwin Awards Movie

I may be one of the last to hear about this (I generally am) but Joseph Fiennes and Winona Ryder are starring in a new comedy called the Darwin Awards, based on six stories on the Darwin awards web site.

Anyone seen it?

Where is it showing or going to be shown in the UK? Answers on a plain brown comment please to this weblog.

Oh yes, there’s a short comedy film called ‘The Traffic Warden’ made in 2004. Anyone seen that?

Sunday, January 29, 2006

 

Ghost town

Late night patrol through deserted streets. The whole town is quiet it seems apart from the odd bunch of noisy kids and takeaway carrying adults. With a few blue tinted lights and a couple of dry ice machines, you could have filmed an entire episode of Dr Who without interruption.

At one stage I go so bored that I spent half an hour in one of the local 24 hour service stations reading the Motorcycle magazines. I know the cashier there, so he wasn’t too bothered.

Recently we’ve been told from on high that patrolling alone after nightfall can be done (In other words must be done.). Funny that, in our patrol manual it says that health and safety rules say that no lone Parking Enforcer may patrol and book on street after dark. I suppose the higher ups are waiting for one of us to get hospitalised before they slap a disciplinary on the injured party for breaking health and safety procedures.

For my own part, I’m not too worried, being mostly big enough and tough enough to look after myself. On the other hand, one of these days I suppose my luck will run out and four or five people intent on kicking nine shades of shinola out of a Parking Enforcer for fun will get the drop on me. Then no doubt it will be a case of Management blaming me for getting into the mess in the first place and docking my sick pay to boot. However; if I successfully defend myself and my assailants get hurt, no doubt my employers will hang me out to dry when I get done for GBH. They’re soo caring.

Hey ho the merry-oh. Until the writing starts to pay full time, I suppose the dice will have to keep on rolling.

Saturday, January 28, 2006

 

Anthropomorphism, Tom & Jerry.

While my mate Staghounds was visiting, we fell to talking about various aspects of modern culture over a beer. If I remember rightly, as this was in early December; he said. “I think Walt Disney should have been shot for crimes against humanity.”

He’s right of course; you see it every day on TV and in the shops. Talking animals displaying human emotions and reactions? What arrant nonsense - it doesn’t happen. Well this is what my dog tells me, and he should know.

No, but seriously; there are a lot of people that actually believe animals think and feel like humans. Complete bollocks of course, but openly contradicting their firmly held views can bring on a full blown psychotic fit of anger; which shows how loose a grip they often have on reality.

Anthropomorphism, I suspect, is indicative of immaturity, or worse still, complete insanity. My one exception to this rule are the 1940's & 50's ‘Tom & Jerry’ cartoons, which were always at their best when the Cat and the Mouse did not talk. Went right down the tubes when they gave the cat and the mouse voices and dialogue.

What the hell, I’m bored and pissed off. To be honest I’ve been called a twat by stupid people who can’t be bothered to use their legs one too many times today and I just can’t be arsed to post or even think about bloody parking restrictions.

Friday, January 27, 2006

 

The Wizards of ID

Latest nonsense to hit the headlines over the current governments centralisation obsession with ID cards according to the Daily Mirror. Apparently, according to a leaked memo, the possibility of putting Radio Frequency ID chips in the proposed ID cards is being investigated despite the latest upset by the House of Lords.

For the non technical amongst you, an RFID chip is at its simplest a wireless enabled data chip which, upon receiving a coded signal, can be ‘read’ with the right receiving equipment.

Essentially this is just another IT disaster waiting to happen. Got an RFID chip in your card which carries all your data? You could have your data cloned or even ‘zapped’ without you knowing with the right kit. Think about it. If the powers that be had the equipment to read a card without being noticed, how long do you think it would be before outside sources got hold of similar equipment? A whole new underworld industry would be spawned. Want a new ID? Hang on mate, zap this guy, yeah, the one who just turned the corner. I’ll just wander past him like so; download his details and wipe his card. Stick your retinal & DNA details on there and upload via a hacked wireless link to the main government database. Bingo! He’s now an unperson and you just became him. That’ll be ten grand guv; ta ever so.

No doubt supporters of the ID card scheme will rubbish this post, saying that there will be security in place which will prevent this happening. I say to them, don’t be so naïve. The temptation for organised crime to lay hands on the technology would be so overwhelming I’m ready to bet serious cash money on some clever bugger cracking the encoding before it’s even out of beta testing. I know data cloning isn’t done with mobile phones, but that’s because the financial incentive isn’t there.

Leave all your goodies (In this case your life details) in one place for long enough, and someone will be bound to break in and have it away with them. Why? Because anyone with a dodgy past and a reason to hide will be able to become you. Won’t they get caught when I report my ID missing / wiped? Er, well let’s put it this way, in order to report your ID stolen you will need your ID Card to prove who you are. With the card effectively wiped, you won’t get past reception front desk. Social services won’t touch you. Your Bank won’t believe you (Long gone are the days of personal relationships between Manager & customer). Lost your National Insurance number? Can’t remember your bank account number? Can’t recall your National Health number? How many people can remember all that? Not that many.

Now do you understand why having all your personal details in one place is so bloody silly. That’s why ‘smart’ ID cards are a really stupid idea. Just keeping the database up to scratch will create a whole new layer of bureaucrats. Even then I’ll be willing to bet that the database will never be more than 40% up to date, and that’s being optimistic.

Over to you.

Just a last little note; Brian of Brian’s Brief Encounters has been put on ‘Gardening leave’ because of some of his writing. Personally, I always find his stuff highly risible and very, very, human. Best of luck Brian. Perhaps your higher ups should do better to “seriously reflect on the impact and outcomes of some of their statements.” Rather than penalising you. Ian Blair himself might be well advised to heed such advice.

Thursday, January 26, 2006

 

The joy of socks

I write in praise of the humble sock. To be specific, a charcoal grey sports sock marketed by Marcus Expensius with ‘Sports support’ and ‘Stayfresh’ technology. For the past week or so I have been road testing a pair (At the rate of one fresh pair a day) of said socks. At a special offer price of ten quid for five pairs, I consider it money well spent on a commendable product. (For those so inclined, the in house product code is T103391 for the standard three pack.)

The Bill Sticker verdict; very comfy, sufficiently warm (Wearing safety boots) in sub zero weather and with a little elasticated medial arch support. What is more, zero sweatiness and foot odour, which has heretofore been a source of some little discomfiture to the delicate sensibilities of the household females. One is well chuffed with them (The socks I mean).

Writing as one who wears through socks at the rate of two pairs a month, these seem to stand up to the footslogging quite adequately. Not only that but they can double for business use as well. Style and length mean that they are not likely to end up in someone else’s sock drawer, with killer roadholding (No slip sliding away in these babies.)

Overall; lighter and more comfortable than the military issue wool socks I have been wearing for winter use, these work out as pretty good value for money. Cotton only socks fade away in less than six weeks, but I expect to have all five pairs of these in use this time next year.

An 8/10 is hereby awarded.

P.S: This blog entry was not sponsored by anyone, but I am open to commercial offers should any arise, hint, hint.
P.P.S: Mrs Sticker has reminded me in no uncertain terms that it was her dragging me into said emporium at near gunpoint. It was also her suggestion that these particular small items of apparel should be purchased. Now. Right this minute Bill or you’re sleeping downstairs with the dog. I mean it. Those feet of yours put ripe gorgonzola to shame.

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

 

Through a mirror, blankly….

Today I got a bit of a fright. Nothing anyone else did, no outside threat, no insult ruffled the placid lake of my inner calm. What stirred urgent ripples within me was a fleeting glimpse of something darkly unpleasant.

I saw my own eyes in a mirror.

No wonder no one gives me much aggro, it was like staring down the barrels of a shotgun from the business end. Put the fear of me into me I can tell you.

What really scared me was the implacable, blank lack of mercy I saw looking back from the other side. It was in total contrast to the me I’m used to, the warm, humorous and often sharply flippant core me. Do other people see this? If so, some of the nervous behavioural responses I get from some members of the public make sense.

No one likes to glimpse the scales and claws of their inner beast. This disturbs me deeply. I think some serious leave is called for.

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

 

Yeah, yeah, yeah….

I booked a car for blocking out part of a car park this afternoon. Wandered off to go and frighten some people into being honest citizens. Came back to the self same car park twenty minutes later to find another idiot had parked right next to the one I’d booked earlier. Not wishing to be unfair, I booked him too.

Just as I’m finishing off the second car, up pops the owner of the first one; a baseball capped, jogger bottom tucked in stereotype, demanding to know why I had booked his car. I patiently explained that he was parked ‘Out of bay’ (Not in a marked parking bay and also preventing others from entering & leaving the car park), which is not allowed in that particular car park. This did not go down very well, but I’ve gotten so used to doing this diplomatically that I ignored the under the breath mutterings wafting my way.

“I was only there five minutes. I went to see me girlfriend with her babby.” (This is a direct quotation) Claims the driver.
“Signs clearly tell you that you have to park in a marked bay sir.” The ‘Sir’ is an automatic conditioned reflex. I’d call a freshly laid turd ‘sir’ if it upped and spoke to me. Driver slopes off muttering coarse imprecations about my sexuality and parentage when he thinks I’m out of earshot. The courage of these people never fails to astound.

I’m just slapping the PCN on the windscreen of the second offending vehicle when baseball capped bozo pulls up alongside in his car. “I’ll catch up with you later.” He snarls at me.
“You will sir, you most probably will.” I respond brightly, trying not to roar with laughter. Just because he dresses like a fourteen year old feral youth doesn’t mean he’s tough. If he was going to do something he’d have done it by now and I’d already be yelling for the cavalry.

Experience tells me that these guys are only tough when the odds are three to one in their favour. More often than not they won’t try anything if there is the remotest chance that the odds in their favour would shorten. Defenceless little old ladies are one thing, grown ups who can see them coming are another. Especially grown ups who can call upon several other big hefty grown ups at short notice.

After a couple of years in the job you tend to get hardened to the threats. You know that the real stuff comes at you stage left without any wind-up. You can usually walk away long before it gets to the stage of real live fisticuffs. Not arguing the toss with a potential assailant is generally the best way to avoid having to pick your teeth out of the gutter. “Yessir, nossir, bye-for-now-sir.” Works for me.

Hi ho. Its all aqueous fluid off the dorsal surface of Anatidae.

Monday, January 23, 2006

 

A small treatise on being ‘English’ and similar insanities.

Been wandering aimlessly around the web and dipping into sites of all political colours and depths, there are some really weird people out there (Literate Traffic Wardens for one. Oy veh!). Notwithstanding, something has been really rubbing around in my subconscious about what I think is wrong with my country.

I was brought up to love England, even though some of my forbears were not ‘English’. Let me explain; by ‘Love’ I mean that I have a feeling for the land of my birth that always raises a lump in my throat. Can’t help it, the feeling has been programmed into me at a subconscious level. I am moved nearly to tears of pride by certain songs, sights and sensations which plug right into the heart of my being.

Ordinarily I would never air this view as then those who wish to assassinate your world view tend to pounce on it and insult your love of country as ‘old fashioned’, ‘anachronistic’ and ‘out of date’. At this point I generally have to close my ears and walk away or become uncharacteristically violent because to resort to violence is to let them win the argument. Such people want you to punch their lights out because then they can say “Look at what this bad person has done to me!” Then explain that you are ‘bad’ because you believe what you do, so undermining your beliefs and discrediting them as well as you. In this way a minority may undermine an established belief system, prior to replacing it with another of their choosing.

As ‘Bill Sticker’ however, I can write about what really scrolls my knurd and put it out in the public domain without being shouted down by the assassins of England. They can leave their snail trails in the comments, but they cannot take down the words I have written, especially since the servers hosting my words are not based in England or Europe.

What prompts this arcane rambling discourse was hearing the Hymn ‘Jerusalem’ on the radio performed by an opera singer and (Of all people) the England Cricket first XI team. Although I do not claim Christianity as my faith, that song is so much part of my upbringing that it contains a raft of positive associations that seem to have disappeared over the past twenty years or so.

I am not a member of any political party; I disdain to read the tabloid press. I vote with the hope that those I vote for will represent me in the elected body. I believe in being a good neighbour without being ‘intrusive’. I believe that laws should only be passed on the principle ‘To do the least harm’. All else, in the words of Robert Heinlein (Glory Road) is peccadillo.

Now I believe that my country has become dissolute and all the values I once believed it encouraged (Freedom under the law, personal responsibility, moral strength etc.) seem to be openly discouraged by the ‘Box ticking’ PC brigade who appear to encourage the poisonous Socialist view that ‘The Government’ can do everything.

Governments cannot run people’s lives for them, even if the lazy and inept think that this is so. Governments, like the rest of the nation, are made up of a mix of the well intentioned, selfish and incompetent. In short, human. Humans make mistakes, but Governments, being made up of humans, can drop clangers so big they reverberate around the world. So why should we allow them such control over our lives? I’m a fan of minimal Government; big Government just wastes a lot of our hard earned tax cash and still doesn’t provide the services it promises.

The lawyers view is that passing ‘new improved’ laws will wipe out injustice and tyranny, but my experience of the world tells me this is not so. My view is that too many laws lead us to the current situation where there are so many meaningful enforcement becomes impossible. The laws conflict and become ‘Make-work’ for the legal profession, leaving the rest of us confused and directionless, unsure of what we are and are not allowed to do. Parking regulations can be seen as the microcosm of this malaise. The Lawyers were supposed to have transferred the parking regulations from Criminal to Civil law. If you read through my various rants you will pick up the areas of major cock up by the politicians and lawyers. The 1991 Road Traffic act under whose provisions my job exists is significantly flawed.

We need laws, as not everyone is peace loving and responsible. The law is supposed to be the protector of the majority. Instead it appears to be rapidly becoming the oppressor. I cite the European Union as one of the generators of new legislation. To be short, the well intentioned directives that pour from it sometimes seem like continuous projectile vomiting of legal insanity; poorly thought through, with no real consciousness of the potential consequences. In the commercial world, such ‘over management’ is harmful to the viability of companies. Employees become unhappy under such regimes and as anyone can tell you, an unhappy workforce is detrimental to a companies productivity.

One of our chief gripes as Parking Enforcement Officers is that there is no trust by Management. We feel belittled because the misbehaviour of one or two impacts on the rest of us. Management will not address the behaviour of the minority and instead crack down on everybody; so the same seems to be happening with England. Vocal minorities cause major upsets because the framework to deal with the poor behaviour of a minority has been undermined.
Lets take as our example the Animal Rights movement; it contains a highly vocal minority which routinely uses violence and intimidation against others engaged in lawful enterprise (Bombing, attempted murder, assault, criminal damage, intimidation etc). Yet numerous ‘animal rights’ organisations still operate legally despite this. They have even been instrumental in criminalizing activities which heretofore have not been unlawful. I view the animal rights terrorists as completely and utterly insane. They see no other view but their own, will not even consider evidence that their actions might do more harm than good; and that is close enough to clinically barking as you can get without the medication.

Now we are in the situation where the Police, with ever fewer resources, have yet more legislation to enforce. Not that the politicians and lawyers care much beyond their take home pay and pension. In fact this is the malaise that seems to permeate everything.

Despite all this I am hopeful. I see glimmers of enlightenment as the house of paper built by the politicians begins to be questioned.
 

De Profundis

Literally, ‘from the depths’. I was having a browse through Bloom’s ‘Tales from the Chalkface’ and read this splendid quotation:
“You only get to positions of power through locking your conscience into a safety deposit box and visiting it as infrequently as possible.”
How very true. In the light of today’s headlines, almost prophetic.

For a little light relief try here. Yes, I know it’s not about parking enforcement, but lets face it, as far as the mainstream press are concerned, Parking Enforcement Officers are always going to be the bad guys.

Back in the land of reality, I shall be working late tonight, but quite frankly I reckon it will be so quiet anyone dropping a pin will get reported as a nuisance neighbour. Me and my oppo's will be looking for somewhere warm with a good vantage point to hole up in.

Saturday, January 21, 2006

 

Bad Omen?

As many people may be aware, Wales, ahem, sorry I mean a whale has come to central London in the form of a Northern Bottlenose whale. As a number of the dailies have noted, where a whale has previously been sighted in the Thames, it has boded ill for the country, but then again, maybe not.

In 1658, a similar visitor to the Thames presaged the death of Oliver Cromwell and the subsequent demise of the interregnum. Good thing or bad thing? You decide. Prior to that in 1240, another Whale appeared around the time Welsh King Llewelyn ap Fawr died, not to mention the demise of St Edmund of Abingdon.

Then again I suspect that all this omens malarkey is a motley collection of superannuated shoe repairers. Unless of course, someone out there knows better. DEE DAH DAAAAHH!

I’m bored. Time for a glass of vino with Mrs Sticker, a movie and a cuddle.
 

Memorandum

From: Office of the Chief Washer-upper

To: All other members of the household

Dated: Friday, 20 January 2006

Notice of Industrial Action

Due to extended workload which breaches current industrial health and safety guidelines and European working hours directives, the Chief Washer upper will be working to rule from the date of this memorandum.

Working to Rule Conditions;

Unauthorised washing up appearing in the sink after approved washing up schedule times (See schedule below) will not be washed.

The practice of ‘Dumping’ unauthorised unwashed items will result in ‘dumped’ items being returned to their estimated point of origin immediately. Complaints arising from the return of said ‘dumped’ items will not be acted upon. Only authorised washing up will be performed during the schedule posted below.

Washing up Schedule

Sundays (07:00-19:00)
Mondays (07:00-19:00)
Wednesdays (07:00-19:00)
Fridays (07:00-19:00)

So if you can’t find the dishes – Wash them up yourselves.

P.S. Whining and bitching won’t do you any good – I’ve just bought some really good earplugs.

Friday, January 20, 2006

 

I found this...

Now this link fits in with my experience. How many other ex-IT workers in the same boat?

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

 

Why Judo does not work on Elephants

I’m having a serious attack of weirdness today. Nothing that I can rationally describe, it just seems like I’ve been walking round with cosmic egg on my face. Nothing worth blogging about, just little stuff going wrong or right when it is most inconvenient.

To cap it all, I checked my webstats as I usually do, and as well as ranking high up in ‘Parking Attendant”, “Walking the Streets” and other related searches from various search engines, this blog also got visited via these search strings.
Why Judo does not work on Elephants
lost property in london streets
were did they get the name j walking?

Incidentally; Judo only works on Elephants if you can get a two finger grip twist-lock on its trunk. Get it wrong and you lose your arm and life in that order (Elephants are not noted for their forbearance when being assaulted.). Not that this is likely to happen as I’ve yet to see an Elephant that can get onto a dojo, let alone perform Kata’s.

Secondly; I’m a lot happier now that the House of Lords has stuck a very large spanner in the Governments ID card scheme. How many more reports categorically stating that it would be prohibitively expensive does it take before the current Government wakes up and realises that computers and centralisation are not a panacea?

See these reports from;
Techworld
Zdnet News
The Scotsman

Lastly: welcome to some belated new additions to the sidebar.
Blues and Two’s
Cough the lot
Bow Street Runner
Show the guys some respect.

Monday, January 16, 2006

 

Who’d be a Copper?

I was reading Dave Copperfields blog today and saw that four officers were being disciplined for calling a repeat offender ‘Pondlife’. I feel sorry for those officers concerned, because not only are the expectations of them too high for mere mortal man, they are spied on by their own people and held to account if they are any less moral than the most strait laced Sunday School Teacher.

Lets face it, if you deal with low life’s, you’re bound to get a little bit dirty yourself. Could Regan and Carter have made ‘The Sweeney’ what it was if they had to fill out a risk assessment every time they booked out a big red key, or gone after some villains on their ‘manor’?

It’s hard to be nice when all you seem to get is abuse. I’m lucky in that I don’t seem to get much of it any more, but I still retain the gallows humour we all need to keep us sane. For example, a complaint by management about a couple of the lads occasionally meeting up where beats cross and spending five minutes exchanging news brought forth my rejoinder. “Don’t worry chaps. They only think you’re having an affair.” Everyone at our level had a damn good laugh at this pitiful sally into the courts of humour. Higher up the ladder, it might have brought forth reprimand. My point being that you have to have some sort of mental defence mechanism as a safety valve or you’ll find yourself relocated into a fun room with bouncy walls. It is unrealistic of anyone to think otherwise.

The lunatics have not only taken over the asylum, but now they’ve turned it into a political football as well, and look what that’s done to education.

Sunday, January 15, 2006

 

Politics and related disjointed philosophising

Have been rambling through my old text books recently (Today is my day off) and have got to thinking. There is a distinct dichotomy between what I do and what I think about it.

Firstly, as a believer in freedom of thought and speech the current UK political climate bothers me. Like Voltaire, my position is that I may not like what you have to say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it. Occasionally I might have to block out the odd childish ranter (Only one so far) so that more cogent folks can get a word in; but I feel that adds to the debate, not lessens it. By the same token, I like to be allowed to say my say and have done with it. Get it off my chest, out in the open without interruption. By the same token I’m willing to listen, unless someone is regurgitating some long discredited foolishness like socialism or communism. In which case I reserve the right to fall fast asleep and snore.

You want to comment – fine. Just so long as I have the choice whether or not to read it, that’s just dandy.

Now lets get a little hypothetical(ish) here; if someone doesn’t like, lets say homosexuality, they should be allowed to say so and construct a cogent argument to support their statement. If that argument is a load of old shoemakers, then let those who choose to listen to that argument make up their own mind. If it isn’t, well that’s okay too. If you don’t like what someone says, get into the debate and respond, or put your earplugs in, not call out for the person speaking to be arrested. That’s just plain wrong, silly and damaging.

That’s why I will actually watch some BBC TV programmes, like Top Gear. I often don’t like what Jeremy Clarkson has to say, but sometimes I agree wholeheartedly with him. He and his co-presenters make me smile. It’s one of the few truly watchable BBC TV programmes. Jon Snow of Channel 4 news fame often annoys me with his interruptions of an interviewee before they have finished speaking, same for Jeremy Paxman, but while I might not always like Mr Snow’s or Paxman’s views, I admire them for their forthrightness.

The creation of “Speech crimes” is a damned poor show, and the politicians who create laws which suppress debate need locking up more than those who supposedly commit said “Crimes”. While we’re at it, some 700 new offences have been created since 1997. Hold the phone! 700 new offences? What in the name of Satan’s left testicle is all that about?

For example, it turns out that under the wildlife and countryside act it is an offence if my dog goes after anything small, cute and furry. This puts me into a dilemma. My dog loves to chase anything furry which is smaller than himself. It is his chief pleasure in life. Say if the local branch of the Animal rights lunatics spots him chasing a squirrel, do I let the local Coppers drag my overenthusiastic hound off to the cells, or immediately call him a lawyer? Is there some new court in which an animal can be tried for such an offence? At this point I would like to make it plain that my dog has a mind of his own and will not listen to me once he’s having fun. He will slip his leash, collar and pull my arm out of its socket, whatever. It doesn’t matter. That Cat / Squirrel / Rabbit / Mouse / Rat will be chased and yours truly has no say at all in the matter.

Bearing in mind the mess politicians often make when passing laws; I’m warming to the idea Terry Pratchett espoused in his Discworld comedy, ‘The Last Continent’, where the population of the island of Four X immediately put politicians in jail immediately they got elected. This is not a new idea, but one which perhaps in the light of recent experience we should re-evaluate. Maybe putting better locks on the Houses of Parliament and televising the resultant shenanigans as the politicians try to get out. Upon reflection, maybe that concept has already been copyrighted.

Secondly, I actually have to enforce some of the rules, which I suppose makes me a bit of a hypocrite in a way, or maybe I’m just dazed and confused. Yeah, that’s a good excuse. Pass me a large one. I want to get even more dazed and confused and need all the help I can get.

Friday, January 13, 2006

 

Frightening the kiddies

Yesterdays other amusing(?) incident; I’m walking down the street, having passed a very flash looking Mercedes Cabriolet with plenty of time on it’s ticket when I have to sharply side step to allow a little girl literally tugging her mother along, saying “Hurry mummy, hurry.” Her mother seems to find it all fairly amusing and keys the unlock on the Merc.

I’m only a couple of steps past said vehicle when the Mother turns to me and says. “I’m all right for time aren’t I?”
“Yes, madam, of course.” I’m a bit puzzled, her pay and display ticket had a good twenty minutes left before expiry.
“It’s just that my little girl was afraid you were going to book us.” She explains.
“Oh, I see.” Say I, still a bit bemused.
“It’s a bit sad really, when even the children are frightened of you isn’t it?” She gave me a grin. I had to laugh.
“Maybe you ought to tell her the Traffic Warden will come and get her if she’s not a good girl.” I joked back.
“I might.” We parted on a smile.

Phew, didn’t know I’d become the local bogey man. On the other hand, maybe it’ll keep some folk on the straight and narrow.

Thursday, January 12, 2006

 

Walking and talking

A lot of the guys I work with often return to base complaining about the crap they get from the public. I’m puzzled. Nowadays I rarely get the aggro that they complain of. Of course, it could be that I just don’t notice it, but on the other hand it could be that I don’t set myself up for abuse.

While I’m not the biggest booker, I do hit the average more often than not. Put me in a ‘target rich environment’ and I can equal even the most avid ‘Ticket hound’.

There’s the no-nonsense approach I adopt on street. Move ‘em or book ‘em. Doesn’t matter which. My job is to keep people off the restrictions and keep the parking spaces cycling over.

Then there’s the human side, the non-punitive side. Man, it is said is a tribal animal; to be trite “People need people.” We have to communicate; it’s hard wired into our beings at a biological level. Those who do not or cannot communicate will always find themselves sidelined socially. For my part, if a member of the public wants to talk to me – fine. Not a problem. It can be a bit embarrassing when some lonely little old man or lady unloads their life story on you. You smile politely, but inside you’re wincing, thinking “Please stop – I don’t need to know this. Too much detail.”

Yesterday was an absolute classic. I paused outside a bookshop to ogle some of the titles in the window when an old lady who had lived in the town as a girl in the 1930’s and 1940’s approached me. She related how she got married and moving to Bristol where she found herself in a thirty year plus relationship with a man who did not know how to love her. The tears ran down her face as she let it all out. Tears literally rolling and dripping onto the collar of her blue coat like raindrops. I mean why me? Why tell me about her problems, including a graphic account of her ex husbands collapse and near death from a burst ulcer. I didn’t and still don’t understand why she needed to go into such graphic detail to a total stranger. I know my face is recognised around the town when in uniform, but there is such a thing as discretion and decorum. Still, it was quite disturbing to see this woman crying in front of me – not because of anything I’d done, but just because she needed to unload thirty years of unhappiness right there and then.

Just before I managed to steer the conversation back to the present day the tears stopped, she blew her nose and said “Thank you.” I nodded, smiled sadly at her and moved on, a little shaken at the revelations of a total strangers life.

This isn’t the first time. I’m not an unapproachable person, and always try to put on a positive face where duty allows. Perchance that is it. Maybe word gets around that certain of the Parking Enforcers are human beings, not analogous to the excretory end of the gastro intestinal tract as some might have you believe. I do know that I get more smiles than scowls than I used to, or maybe the scowlers are just not in evidence at the moment.

Despite that, it’s events like those that leave you shaking your head in perplexity at the complications of the human condition. Certainly has me foxed.

Urgent Spam Warning:
If any of you receive e-mail from billsticker at gmail dot com there is a problem with my mailbox which Google in their infinite(?) wisdom are working on. Looks like a spammer has cracked my details and is using my account for their nefarious purposes. For the moment, just bin anything from my e-mail address as I shall be reverting to nail_the_bleeders at yahoo dot co dot uk until the issue is resolved.

This has been a public service announcement. Thankyou.

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

 

My very good friend the Chiropodist says…

That I’m a physical wreck. I pronate too much (Doesn’t that make you go blind?) when I walk and have a left heel Varus (So that’s where one of those lost Roman legions got to – must phone Augustus.). My plantar fascia is damaged and I’ve got a strained peroneus longus. Oh yes, and I’m definitely compensating for something (Probably low self esteem – or is it that old ankle injury?).

However, my calf and thigh musculature is in good nick which helps compensate for the damage to my feet and ankles apparently. I am told I need to rest my feet properly after the working day.

I’d put my aching feet up and watch the Darts on television; only I think my head would implode from the boredom. Yes, yes, I find Darts incredibly boring. Almost as bad as Snooker or Golf. In fact I find all televised sport rather like having a dog and barking myself. Now participating is another matter. Playing is good. Which is probably why my body is so knackered. I’m plagued by a series of old injuries caused by over enthusiasm in a number of sports, an aggressive young adulthood and the odd flying leap off a motorcycle at speed. The background discomfort is always there and you do tend to filter it a lot of it out. I suppose you get used to a lot of things after a while, as the torturer said to his victim.

Where everything comes home to roost is when you stop at the end of a hard day on street. Your feet ache, your ankles ache and your calves feel like they are made of heated lead. I find the back of my knees tend to make their presence felt. The walking helps ease any lower back pain you might have, but that’s the only bright spot. Maybe I should walk on the grass more often, but there isn’t much of that on the streets we patrol. It’s all concrete and tarmac with very little respite which probably does the damage.

All is not lost; I have been prescribed with gel inserts moulded to my feet which I am told are jolly comfortable. I look forward to the relief.

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

 

School run insanity

Got landed with the least popular duty of all today – School run. Basically this means policing restrictions we can’t book on in the midst of hordes of screaming kids and verbally incontinent parents. It is the duty everyone else hates because it’s where the most grief is handed out in the shortest time. The women are the worst, screaming abuse if you book them and boy do they know how to do that. Pity the husbands say I.

The objective of the exercise is not to see how many people you can book in a short time, as this only makes matters worse. No matter how you chase, the little tinkers will move from restriction to restriction and you’ll just end up chasing chaotic shadows. The idea is to provide a safe zone clear of vehicles so that all the Mummies, Daddies and dear little kiddies can cross the road and get clear safely. All else can go hang.

Over the past couple of years I’ve developed a tactic which seems to work quite well. It’s based on how I establish a street presence in the middle of town. It’s mostly positioning and body language. The street is yours – not theirs.

Step 1: Pick a nice location where all the school run mums & dads can see you clearly. On a corner is good.

Step 2: Stay there and keep your hand held ready. Ignore any other restrictions – don’t go chasing shadows – the idea is to keep the main entrance and exit routes clear.

Step 3: Upon seeing a contravention - if the driver is present stay where you are. Look straight into his / her eyes and extend your arm so that it looks like you are checking your watch. These people know the five minute rule and will move the moment you do. If not, then they are too stupid and should not be allowed to pass on their genes.

Step 4: Remember that the object of the exercise is to provide the ‘safe zone’, not go chasing tickets. If someone hasn’t come back to their vehicle in five minutes, by all means start punching in details – Make it pretty damn obvious this is what you are doing. Never forget that the idea is to ‘head ‘em up and move ‘em out – Rawhide! – Yee-haw!’ (I’m sorry Doctor – My husband is feeling a little hoarse - Mrs Sticker.)

Step 5: Book sparingly but don’t take any nonsense – don’t argue when a ticket has been issued – just give them a puzzled look and tell them the procedure for challenge is on the ticket before moving on. If they start giving you grief make a show of picking up your radio and calling for assistance. Words like “Officer being threatened.” Are a great shut up line. Especially when you give your number and location. You can always make a ‘Problem resolved’ call if they back off. If they don’t, well you’ve called for the cavalry – now get the hell out of there.

Well it works for me.

Latest:
Mrs Sticker just burst out laughing at an Internet news item; Apparently George Galloway, arch quisling, is having second thoughts about appearing on a dross reality TV show called ‘Celebrity Big Brother’. I care neither for the show nor Mr Galloway – perhaps the show and he deserve each other. If pressed further for an opinion, I would simply say that I couldn’t be bothered to piss down Mr Galloway’s throat should his lungs catch fire. I don’t even care enough to post a link to him or it. Neither is worthy of my attention. So why do I bother to mention either? I blame ennui, boredom, perchance the sheer devilment of taking the mickey.

Hey ho. I’ve got a book to write. TTFN.

Monday, January 09, 2006

 

Talking ‘bout my jurisdiction

Today I was busy clearing people off the footway alongside a double yellow line. As I was doing so, this smart mouth pulls up alongside me and shouts from his car; “You can’t do that! You don’t have jurisdiction!” To which I replied with a grin; “Oh yes I ca-an.” Then carried on with the task in hand.

There seems to be this school of thought that Local Authority types like me can’t deal with vehicles on a footway / sidewalk. As you will learn, this school of thought is a failing school which will no doubt shortly be put on ‘special measures’ by the Local Education Authority for failing it’s third inspection on the trot.

Right; here’s the full SP; the gospel; the naked truth in all its glory. A parking restriction such as double yellow lines extends all the way from the ‘property line’ to the white line in the middle of the road. This includes the footway / pavement / sidewalk.

If anyone is in any doubt where the ‘property line’ is, it is generally well defined, either by a second kerb, a change in paving materials or a structure such as a low wall. In London, there are some buildings in the city where it is marked by a thin brass strip. Private parking restrictions generally apply between such a strip and the building it borders.

To conclude; if a double or single yellow line is at the edge of the vehicular roadway, this restriction covers the footway as well, right up to the boundary of the private property it borders. This means that if you park there, you can still get booked for the same offence code (01 No waiting, or 02 Loading restricted.) as if you were parked on the lines themselves. In London, they have several offence codes we can’t book on, including ‘Parked on footway’. If you double park we can use the same offence code as well as a couple of others. Is that okay? If not, you can complain to your local Authority Parking office.

To be honest, if someone has parked on the footway, I’ll generally head for them first as they are forcing pedestrians into the flow of traffic where soft fleshy bodies tend to get damaged by vehicular traffic if not fast enough on their feet. As you can well appreciate, we Parking Enforcers do not look favourably upon this practice. Should you however doubt my word and stop where you shouldn’t; the proof of this statement will, as they say in the movies, be coming to a windscreen near you - shortly.

Sunday, January 08, 2006

 

The road to dictatorship

ID cards have raised their ugly head yet again in the above link. Fines of £2,500 for not having one? Who does it benefit? Terrorists. Who does this hurt? The ordinary people of this country that’s who.

ID cards are a victory for terrorists because this is exactly what terrorism seeks to do to destabilise a free society. They wish our politicians to panic and pass ever more draconian legislation so that finally the native people have to revolt in a violent manner to recover their liberty. Then the terrorist factions, as tiny groups, will make their power play in the resultant anarchy.

Why don’t the politicians of both sides in the UK Parliament understand this simple principle? Because they are panicking, that’s why.

Perhaps we only have ourselves to blame. It has been said that a people only get the government they deserve. Perhaps we, by not being active citizens and not doing more for ourselves and our immediate neighbours are at fault. By not taking responsibility for our own actions. Saying ‘The Government’ should do ‘something’ about it. By not looking after ourselves. By adhering to the ‘Don’t vote – the government will get in anyway’ mindset. We have let this happen.

Maybe the terrorists are right, we the electorate of the UK, have become weakened. Everything has to be ‘fair’ for vociferous minorities – damn the majority. The ‘Nannying’ philosophy currently carries the argument.

On the other hand, maybe the ‘Trendy lefties’ of whatever political party and their ilk underestimate the true strength of the UK electorate. Back in the 1930’s, as my Mother has spoken to me about, another political school of thought derided the western democracies as ‘weak’. Several years and a few million lives later they were ultimately proved wrong.

In light of this historical precedent, should this piece of proposed legislation make it on to the statute books I promise this; I intend to do whatever small acts I can to see that this poisonous piece of legislation cannot be properly enforced. Nothing major, just little obstructive acts like using my Union membership to get an exemption for myself and my colleagues. Go back to base at times ‘inconvenient’ for the enforcing powers. Maybe ignoring ‘powers’ ceded to me as an operative of an increasingly totalitarian state to examine such documents. Maybe ‘inconveniencing’ the vehicles used by those who do get the task of enforcing this ugly set of laws. Small acts of defiance. Nothing more.

Although it may sound like treason, I think that a greater treason will be committed against the electorate by any government that passes such a law. Spare me the ‘if you’ve got nothing to hide argument’ – we all have.

It’s just a pity that statist, pro centralist politicians don’t seem to understand the lessons of history.

Saturday, January 07, 2006

 

Spoiled brat syndrome

Well I never! Someone has actually come up with a snappy name for what I bitch about all the time. They’ve nailed the moral relativism which leads to the ‘I can do anything I want and you can’t stop me’ style behaviour of the general dyslexic. What I tend to think of as the endemic narcissism prevalent in Britain today.

Looking at the whole raft of behavioural aberrations that derive from this condition, some range from the relatively benign; excessive spending on pointless tackiness. Via eccentricity. For example; ‘Marrying’ a Dolphin. To the positively evil; Child rape / abuse Serial Killing. All because the ‘sufferers’ have little in the way of, or no moral brakes; especially when it comes to their own personal conduct.

It’s all so juvenile.

Definition; ‘Moral Brakes’
To wit; using the concept of voluntary acceptance that something is wrong and harms others to modify ones ‘instinctive’ or visceral reaction. For example; when someone deliberately insults and tries to provoke me, I apply my 'Moral Brakes’ to stop me turning their lights out and thus ‘doing wrong’, because hitting someone hard enough to make them lose consciousness is harmful and pointless. Harmful because there is the risk of causing them permanent damage, and pointless because, to quote the old saw ‘Two wrongs don’t make a right’. Especially when you wear a uniform and are responsible for enforcing Civil restrictions. Although I suspend this rule in the case of those doing harm to others in order to prevent worse harm being done. As in the case of handing out a parking ticket, which acts in effect as a ‘moral sanction’ for those whose inconsiderate behaviour often causes inconvenience to many others.
P.S. My own ‘Moral Brakes’ don’t work when a member of my immediate family is threatened or my home is broken into. Funny that. Must be a design fault. I’ll get it seen to – one of these procrastinating days.

Friday, January 06, 2006

 

Permit cheats

Yesterday I was exhausted, the cold and the sheer distance covered completely wiped me out. Mrs Sticker was not best pleased when I returned home in a less than ideal condition. She almost had to be physically restrained from making foul tempered phone call to Senior Managers private mobile number and handing out a roasting. Needless to say, a long hot bath and large glass of single malt were administered, followed by an early night; much to my relief.

Control has still not got the hang of it and has us all caroming from one side of town to the other. So I finally switched off my radio at eleven o’clock and thought “Bollocks to ‘em, if they want me specifically they can get me on my mobile.” No such call came, so I must have got away with it. Catching up with a couple of the other guys at lunchtime, they said they had got pissed off and done exactly the same. Control hadn’t noticed that three ‘Units’ had disappeared off the board and carried on harassing the rest regardless; must do it again tomorrow. I’m on one of the ‘out of town’ beats where radio coverage is unreliable, so it should be relatively easy.

Notwithstanding, I’ve been having a little blitz on the permit cheats today. Taking extra trouble to check the permit details against the vehicle, instead of the shorthand ‘Oh, he’s got a permit – walk on by’ approach you sometimes need just to complete your appointed tasks as set out by the little God of tick boxes. If my superiors whinge about me taking extra time to do the job I can point to my notes and say; “I caught these guys with nicked / out of date permits today – what’s your problem?” Not that it will do me any good.

On a similar tack; got collared by an irate member of the public this morning, and having agreed with her about some of the antics of our local authority found out she was an ex council worker herself. Nothing high and mighty, just a ground floor grunt at my level. Despite launching herself at me with an ‘It’s all your fault’ attitude, after discussion of how our own higher ups seem to view us, she mellowed and we parted on friendly terms.

A lot of the time I think we’re fighting a battle on three fronts. The first is the straightforward handing out tickets to those who break the parking rules, in the (Sometimes vain) hope that they will learn the lesson and not do it again. The second is the public relations battle to say that we’re not the monsters of urban myth, just people trying to make some sense out of chaos. The third is against our own higher ups that sometimes seem to have as much contact with reality as a lightly inebriated frog on LSD. All I can say is this; although this is a fight I can lose; no, I think I must rephrase that; although this is a fight I will lose, I shall retain my self respect.

We can but hope.

Wednesday, January 04, 2006

 

Spot the Nazi

Must be the weather. Grey and horrible with scarcely a ray of sunshine to bring light into the gloom of an English Winter day. Today I was busy booking a bunch of people who considered it their God given right to block a secondary thoroughfare and was graced with one guy who made the Nazi salute towards me, sticking his index finger under his lip. Bad news chap, I’m not a member of the National Socialist movement and am not going to return your salute, no matter how much of a political fellow traveller you assume me to be. Just because I wear a uniform and do an unpopular job doesn’t make me something I’m not.

That kind of set the tone for the day. A day of wall to wall petty insults and insulting gestures. It was hard work too; I got pulled from pillar to post all around town from trouble spot to trouble spot. I know several of our guys are on leave at the moment, but what was everyone else doing? I found out in the mess room when I caught up with some of the other guys on tea break. A new controller has taken over who isn’t that familiar with town. Ergo; we get sent further to cover the same area, shunted from one side of our beats to another without any consideration as to what got patrolled and when. Not to mention the fact that they wanted it all doing right now.

Normally speaking we’re pretty much our own masters out on patrol, but today that all went to hell. My legs and feet feel like they’re made of aching lead and my idea of paradise right this minute is a visit to the chiropodist and a large malt whiskey.

Fortunately my next chiropodists appointment is coming up in a weeks time and there’s a bottle of single malt in the cupboard. Righteous.

Tuesday, January 03, 2006

 

Weird summer stuff

This is yet another post I’ve held back from the summer months which you may find amusing / interesting.

Parkland car park patrol, late evening shift. A late muggy summers afternoon just before some fairly heavy duty thunderstorms hit. I’m busy trying to persuade people to move out of an annexe we want to close up for the night. The thunderstorms would make the annexe ground soggy and turn it into a mudbath, leading to stuck vehicles and compensation claims, so we’re pretty keen to have all the vehicles out by six.

“Excuse me mate.” A man with greying dark hair signals me over.
“Yes sir, how can I help?” He seems pleasant enough and not inclined to bollock me for anything so I’m fairly relaxed about this summons.
“You look after these car parks?” He asks. This has to be rhetorical, right?
“I patrol them sir, yes.”
“Can you get a call through to the Police?” Hello.
“I can call my control and get them to pass it on, yes sir.”
“It’s just that I’ve seen this bloke acting a bit strangely – him over there.” Man in shorts indicates male in late thirties (I think) wearing a black polo shirt walking along a path on the other side of the park around a hundred metres away. “He keeps wandering in and out of the bushes, I’ve seen him change his shirt three times. I think he’s a sex attacker looking for a woman or child to grab.” Sure enough, I watch for a few seconds and the man indicated bobs out of view into the bushes by the path. A minute late he’s sauntering down the path, now wearing a white shirt, in the general direction of a young mother with a little lad in tow.

This is a bit too strange to be true. If I was a Policeman or PCSO I’d have collared him by now and asked him what the hell he was doing. I radio CCTV and my heart sinks, it’s everyone’s least favourite operator.
“515 here control. Got a suspicious character in the park, looks like he’s stalking lone women and children. Any chance of someone down here?”
“What do you mean 515?” Oh God, here we go.
“I’ve got a male, white, mid to late thirties keeps on bobbing in and out of the bushes at the bottom end of the park. Keeps on changing his shirt. He’s currently heading towards a young female and child on the path.”
“I don’t understand 515, what are you saying?” Young woman is on phone and suddenly looks up and waves at Husband / Boyfriend striding across the parkland towards her. Suspicious man sheers off across towards bushes again. That clinches it. He’s up to something.
“Control, I’m saying I may have a suspicious person stalking young women and children.” There, is that clear enough for you? “Can you get one of your cameras on him.” I reel off the location.
“515, I can’t get a camera on that location.” Oh, bloody wonderful.
“Have you clocked him?” Man asks.
“Yes, he’s definitely up to something.”
“I used to be a Policeman.” Man tells me by way of an explanation. “He’s definitely stalking every youngish woman who uses that path.”
“Control, any chance of a PCSO or someone down here?”
“Er no 515, all units are busy at the moment. Can you keep an eye on him for me?” Fornicate with an inflammable Anatidae! Doesn’t Control believe me? I shrug helplessly at the ex copper. He says nothing. The guy we’re watching suddenly catches on that a man in uniform is watching him. He freezes and then reverses his path, ducking out of sight. I try to convince control to get me some help. “I’ve got to get on with my patrol. I’ll hang on for another ten minutes.” I’m trying to drop a hint here. Most of the car park is rapidly emptying so fortunately there’s not much to do right this minute. My mobile phone rings, it’s Kerry, my line Manager.
“Hello Bill, have you got a problem?”
“Oh, hi Kerry. I’ve got a very dodgy character down at the bottom of the park by the annexe. May be a stalker. Control can’t get a camera on him, so I’ve agreed to keep an eye on him for ten minutes.”
“Okay, can you keep it off the air? I want to call some of the other guys.”
“Roger that. I’ll phone control.”
“Cheers Bill. Bye.”

Man pops back into view with the same dark polo shirt he had on when I first saw him. I go on checking the last few cars. Now he does something very odd indeed. He ostentatiously walks to the centre of the grassed over area and sits down right in the middle, trying not to look as though he’s watching three teenage girls sitting under a tree. As I work my way down the car park, he appears to be turning ninety degrees every minute or so, watching for watchers. I phone control and tell them. Still no bloody help. Do I have to watch a rape in progress to get taken seriously here? Chummy notices me again and turns his back in a ‘I’m not doing anything – honestly guv’nor’ manner. The teenage girls have noticed his unwelcome attention and I overhear the scornful tone of their voices. He gets to his feet and walks off fifty metres before sitting down on the grass again, repeating the same turning schedule as before. Either he’s a stalker or has a real obsessive compulsive disorder problem.

Okay. Time for a bit of tactics here. What happens if I just innocently head towards the end machine for a last check as the car park is almost clear? It’s at a forty five degree angle to him but he won’t know that. Thank God for that! He’s on his feet and moving. Hells bells he’s running like a startled rabbit! He looks as though he’s seen something or someone he doesn’t want to meet and he’s on his feet and moving out of the Park rapidly. I don’t think it was me who spooked him either. Maybe there’s a Copper or a CSO over in the distance. Anyway, he’s out of my hair.

Last car lurches out of the overflow car park and I lock the gate. Ex-Copper gives me a wave as he drives by. I give him a nod and a wave back. Tea break is calling. I get back to base just as the day shift guys are going home. A couple of them give me some stick about chasing perverts off the car park. I give them a weak smile and let the barratry slide off. Roll on home time. It starts to rain, heavily.

Monday, January 02, 2006

 

Reprise, one year on.

Tomorrow 3rd January 2006; well goodness gracious me, this blog will be officially ONE YEAR OLD! It is one year to the day after reading about other blogs on line that I began to pour out my scurrilous drivel in public.

In that time the blog has had two design & colour scheme changes, crashed once and been mentioned in the Mainstream Media three times. First in the Guardian (3rd June 2005), Second in The Sun (3rd November 2005), Third in the Independent (19th December 2005). Also got included in ‘Blogged 2005’, ISBN 0 95483183 7 (November 2005). Somewhere in the region of 60,000 visitors. All in all, quite a year for a newbie blogger like me.

My wife often finds me staring at my webstats shaking my head in happy disbelief at the broad scope of my ‘market’, for want of a better term. I’ve made new friends in Europe and the USA, corresponded with them, even met one on his way through my patch. All this at a time when continual rejection was all I received from traditional sources of publication. Which all goes to show how subjective the whole business of publication is. It’s not how good your stuff is, it’s more how much money a potential sponsor thinks they will make out of your work and they are not infallible. Take this item culled from today’s news here and here.

Not really surprising, but take the ‘Harry Potter’ books by J K Rowling. Reputedly twenty publishers rejected her work before one took a chance on a new genre. Her work is not exactly my cup of tea, and I think the writing could be better, but look at how that has taken off in the past few years. Movie deals, the whole cult thing. J K herself has gone from bottom of the pile on benefits to La-la land and good luck to her say I. Now her publishers have got to the enviable stage where they can afford to hire a fork lift truck to carry their wallets around. Good luck to them too.

Now, who else would I like to see get lucky like that? Mirror, mirror, on the wall, who’s the most…. In your dreams Sticker, in your dreams.

Sunday, January 01, 2006

 

Whatever will they think of next?

The bullshit merchants have been at it again. Apparently, according to the mess room rumour mill, our lords and masters are considering some form of GPS system to keep tabs on the precise location of each and every one of us.

If this is true, which I suspect most strongly that it is not, should not the funds about to be utilised for this purpose be used to get us decent kit? You know, waterproofs that are really waterproof. Electronics with batteries that don’t perform their own dance of the dying swan halfway through a shift. Hand held computers that have software that doesn’t crash twice a shift losing all your observations. Radio’s that form part of an effective communications net and don’t just hiss and squawk at us at odd moments. You know, simple stuff.

Mind you, if the GPS bullshit is true and our masters get it as right as the radio’s, hand held computers and uniforms, they’ll probably get reports that we’re all sunning ourselves on the Costa del Sol when we are actually patrolling our assigned beats.

I can imagine it now.
“515, this is control.”
“Receiving. What can I do for you?”
“515, you’re closest, can you go to main car park to assist a customer who has lost a pound in change machine 3?”
“Er, control.”
“Get there soon as you can 515, the customer is waiting.”
“Control, I’m in Quick street.”
“No you’re not. That’s two miles away, the tracking system says you’re just entering High Street.”
“Control, I’m definitely doing limited waiting in Quick street.”
“515, are you sure?”
“Positive control, I can see the road sign from here. Says Quick Street.”
Unintelligible reply.
“515 to control, can you repeat, I missed that last one.”

The rest of this conversation has been cut to protect everyone else’s delicate sensibilities, but you catch my drift? The most sophisticated system in the world is no good unless it is backed up by some carefully applied brainpower. Fortunately, that doesn’t seem likely in the near future. Reality bites.
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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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