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Wednesday, May 31, 2006

 

A Day

I’ve had one. A very odd set of experiences from the mess room anxiety over ‘Knife culture’, which is, if you read Tom Reynolds blog, not such a big problem as some tabloids are making it out to be. One of the guys was so worried about it that he almost refused to go out on patrol. The rest of us took the piss, called him an ‘old woman’ and went out anyway. Well he was being precious, and that’s something you can’t afford to be in this line of work.

If anything, people on the streets seemed to be extra nice today, although God alone knows why. Maybe uniformed figures not in riot gear or body armour are a reassuring sight. Don’t ask me, I just get out there and get on with the job in hand.

This morning was fairly sedate. Only got called names once. No attempted assaults and only one ‘Get a proper job’ jibe from some scruffy unemployable. What? Like you, you mean? Usually dies stillborn on your lips.

The afternoon was a different story. I was busy as anything and for some reason there were sirens going off all over the bloody place. Had a run in with a disabled driver on a bus stop (That’s another post for another day) got harangued by some cyclist (That’s right, a bloody bicycle rider) about the Council’s planning policy of all things. Pay and display faults blossomed all across my beat sending me scurrying from one end of town to the other. Just completely manic. I was glad to end my shift.

Came back home and did my usual check on the blog statistics to find that the Guardian had my blog as a featured piece in the Off Diary Society page. No chance of a freelancers fee there eh lads?

Tuesday, May 30, 2006

 

Head. Brick wall. Banging. Against.

The title of this entry is another of those IKEA style flat pack cliché’s (Will require some user assembly) I am wont to throw out every so often. With good cause after todays episodes of cupidity and attempted deceit.

It’s been one of those days again. The weather has improved, but the reading skills of the general public haven’t. After the uncounted time of hearing plaintive the excuse “But I didn’t know.” Delivered in a sort of unpleasant whine, I decided that it was time for no more Mister Nice Guy and began taking no prisoners, giving no more than the law allows for observation time. Here are a couple of samples of the idiocy I was faced with;

First example; Male driver who has parked his car on double yellows, blocking the footway with a ‘no loading’ restriction. Booked fair and square. I’d even allowed him five minutes waiting time; which I don’t have to when ‘No Loading’ is in force. Driver returns as I’m finishing my notebook to find a parking ticket on his car and storms over, waving said ticket under my nose aggressively. By this time of the day I’ve had enough and am not going to take any nonsense.
Driver “What d’you book me for?” Hello, another failed Mastermind contestant.
515 (Me) “Being stopped on double yellows.” And I’m not calling you sir, cur.
Driver “Yeah? I can do that.” Want to bet, pal?
515 “No you can’t, check your highway code.”
Driver “That don’t count. I saw that programme on telly, you got to give me ten minutes.” No, nope, nyet, non. Not true.
515 “You’re actually on an active loading restriction and I don’t have to give you any observation time at all.” (This is true children; and Uncle William doesn’t tell fibs like those silly TV programme makers who like to spice things up to make dull things seem exciting.)
Driver “Don’t you get sarcastic with me!”
515 (Finally losing it) “I’m allowed sarcasm sir; and irony. Complain to my boss and he’ll tell you the exactly same.” Turn on heel, walk away leaving Mister Thicko speechless. I’m sorry, this is the fifth one today and I’m all out of love with the rest of humanity.

Second example; Female driver on car park with out of time and out of date Pay and Display ticket on windscreen. To be sure, I did a quick visual check of the footwells and seats just in case the valid one had dropped out of sight. Again; I’ve issued and am meandering along the next level up when breathless female scuttles over with ticket in hand.
Driver (Shoving ticket under my nose so close I have to pull my head back six inches to read it) “What have you given me this for?” I pause a few seconds for effect as if reading it carefully.
515 “Parking without showing a valid pay and display ticket.”
Driver (Producing out of date P&D, trying same trick of putting it right under my nose so close I have trouble reading it.) “Here it is.”
515 “That was bought three days ago.”
Driver (So sweetly you’d think she was made of sugar.) “Ooh, was it. Silly me. This must be the wrong one. I do have it, I just can’t find it right now. So can you take this back?” Oh per-lease!
515 “Once I’ve issued madam, you have to take it up with my office. I am not allowed to take it back.”
Driver “That’s stupid!” No it isn’t, but you obviously think I am.
515 “Only my office can decide that. You’ll have to write to them.”
Driver “That’s no good!” This is getting so predictable.
515 “Suffice it to say madam, that is what you will have to do.”
Driver “Oh please. I promise I’ll buy one.” Aha! A confession. Put away the instruments, Igor.
515 (Delivered as a statement.) “So you didn’t buy one in the first place.”
Driver has the good grace to blush furiously and stand there trying to work up a crying fit while Mister Heartless (Me) turns and goes on his cruel and sadistic way. Just how dumb do you think I am? Not that dumb.

Well, they were taking the piss, so what do you do? I think I need a change of career or my head will implode.

Monday, May 29, 2006

 

It’s a very sad day

For Rugby Union when some clever clogs suggests scrapping the scrum. Next they’ll be saying that tackling is too dangerous, oh yeah, how about that really hazardous running at full tilt towards the opposition touchline? Maybe body armour should be worn? Having spent more time in a scrum (Yes, as a forward) on the Rugby field than is probably good for me and having the scars to prove it, I would like to say a very profound and heartfelt GET A LIFE to the individual who has called for an end to the scrum. Without it you might as well be playing Rugby League, which is a totally different game altogether, and not half so much dirty fun as Union. I played Rugby League rules twice and didn’t enjoy it half as much. I missed the sheer physicality of Rugby Union. The immediacy of the scrum and ruck. No protection apart from your shirt, shorts and boots, and maybe a little Vaseline around your neck to cut down on chafing.

Personally I like physical risk. It defines you, gives you a fizz in the veins which is symptomatic of an often fatal disease called joi de vivre. Injury is sometimes the consequence of that risk. For those squeamish souls who do not know what risk truly means from a spiritual viewpoint, I would like to quote an American;

It is not the critic who counts. Not the man who points out how the strong man stumbled or where the doer of deeds could have done better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs and comes short again and again; who knows the great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause. Who at the best, knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who, at the worst, at least falls while daring greatly, so that his place will never be with those timid souls who know neither victory nor defeat.

Theodore Roosevelt
Citizenship in a Republic,"Speech at the Sorbonne, Paris,
April 23, 1910


“Without risks and dreams, voluntarily undertaken, we are all just marking time until oblivion.”

Bill Sticker, ‘Walking the Streets’ blog 29th May 2006.

Yes, it’s been a showery frustrating day and I needed to let off some steam.

Sunday, May 28, 2006

 

Losing a few inches

One of the things I’ve been up to recently is looking at the state of my waistline. Frankly, whenever I’ve been looking in the mirror recently the words disaster and area pop into my frontal lobes. A distinct paunch has been developing due to all the junk food and crap I’ve been eating when I’ve gotten too bloody lazy to cook for myself.

When it comes to losing weight I’ve tried all the weight loss plans under the sun. High fibre, starvation, vegetarian, the list goes on. Let’s face it, losing those extra piled on pounds is no fun at all. It doesn’t matter that I walk some quite vigorous fifteen miles a day at least, the Bill Sticker tum region has been getting a little out of proportion with the rest of his frame.

When the waistline becomes problematical, the only thing I find which strips the excess flab off is two months of high protein. No starchy stuff, no potatoes in any form, bread a big no-no and no pulses of any sort; only occasional fruit. No sweeties or chocolate (Damn! Curses, curses!) No pizza or pasta (Drat and double drat!). Meat, fish and cheese for the first couple of weeks to acclimatise before adding spinach, broccoli and cauliflower to the mix. Okay, I confess, I’m an ‘Atkins diet’ freak. Despite the odd side effect (Mild halitosis), extra cooking and the monotony of it all (Bacon and eggs every morning can get a bit samey), it works for me. Ah yes, and the added expense of protein and time consuming checking of labels to ensure what you’re buying isn’t loaded with sugars in the form of a preservative.

This means that a majority of supermarket shelving rapidly becomes a no-go area. None of those supremely tasty but very calorie rich ‘convenience’ foods or TV dinners. Nothing canned or bottled. Frozen food has to be checked for additives and preservatives. Even the most mundane stuff is a minefield of sugars, starches and E-numbers. You can get a bit obsessive about it all, but it’s amazing what goes into even the ‘Healthy options’ stuff. Don’t take my word for it, check it out for yourself. Just remember that ‘Starch’ in all it’s forms, is a complex sugar (Learned that in Junior school – funny what sticks in your head after all these years).

Perhaps that’s what is behind all these obesity stats. All the starchy stuff used as filler in junk food and a lot of prepared meals. You might as well eat raw sugar cane. Tastes great, and there’s the problem, it tastes so good you have to eat more than you should – which is where my problem (And I suspect a good many other people’s problem) lies.

Before I tried the high protein option, I used to exercise three to four times a week at the gym, watch what I ate; did the whole low calorie experience and still couldn’t budge an inch if you know what I mean. Now dropping a waist size takes three to four weeks and I don’t go hungry.

As for cholesterol. Had a test last week and my levels are dropping like a rock. I even feel less 'clogged up'. This is good. Hopefully everyone will be seeing much less of me in the future because there will be less me to see.

Saturday, May 27, 2006

 

Gadgets & gizmo's

Chez sticker is becoming quite the little technological hothouse right at this moment. The new USB hub means all sorts of little gadgets can be connected and whizzed around. Take for example my venerable Sony Cybershot. Loading pictures via the original RS232 cable and a clunky old piece of software used to take ages and tie up my little network server for twenty to thirty minutes at a time. Last night with the help of a brand new USB 480Mbps card reader, downloading ten pictures took ooh, lemme see now, one minute and thirty seconds, and that was including connecting and disconnecting the card reader. Using a couple of 1Gb memory sticks I backed up a hell of a lot of work ready for burning onto a CD. File transfer rates have gone from a 20kbps pedestrian trudge to a comparative warp speed at 480Mbps. New MP3 player? Just a cheap 512Mb thing from a well known Supermarket chain and one of those thingy’s that you plug into the stone age cassette player in the car. Result; soothing sounds wherever required. All my dull but necessary system administration done in double jig time so I can focus on more important stuff.

Now all this may be old hat to some of you well heeled techy types who have their whole music collection in a wireless connected cube that can get lost in a pocket full of loose change; but my take is that you can only listen to one song at a time. Ninety odd of my favourite tracks will last me all morning with a good three hours of Radio Comedy for the afternoon. Which I feel is time better spent than listening to the odious rantings of certain politicians.

On that subject; what are everyone’s feelings about calling a suicide bombing of any UK politician ‘Morally Justified’ regardless of later retractions? Pardon me, but to me murder is morally unacceptable, no matter what the provocation. Apologists for murders like those on perpetrated in London by homicide bombers on the 7th July 2005 (“7/7” is so melodramatic) should be dealt with quickly so that they might sin no more against the rest of the nation. Call me old fashioned if you like, but pandering to anti western sentiments like this is not constructive. Not that the particular odious politician in question ever seems to do much that is truly constructive. My colleagues, upon hearing what had been said in the GQ interview were quick to opine that said politician was, in the words of one; “A worthless piece of shit.” Others were even less complimentary. Suffice it to say my grasp of Anglo-Saxon derived vitriol has been broadened; and that’s just from a bunch of Parking Enforcers.

That is all I wish to say on the matter. I have new toys to play with and many words to write. Argue amongst yourselves. I may be some time.

Thursday, May 25, 2006

 

Headlines and red letter days

Posting has been a bit erratic over the past day or so because I’ve had my system stripped down and have been tinkering a little with things like playing with video card settings, upgrading sound cards, RAM and processor. Certain of the new system drivers proved a little erratic, but tweaks have been made and everything now zips along very nicely thank you. There is even debate between Mrs Sticker and myself about installing Skype and a Webcam on our mini network at Chez Sticker. Wireless connections may also be in the mix for later this summer when funds allow.

Big news is another (!) letter from my MP about the Abolition of Parliament Act. Well I can’t say I’m not very pleased indeed. He is strenuously opposing it. Well done that man! I shall be responding in kind (Sometimes an E-mail isn’t enough) on posh paper just to say thank you and keep up the good work. The gist of his letter is that the government have been forced into amending the bill into fast tracking deregulation only. This alters its emphasis into a tool for getting rid of bad legislation quickly, rather than sneaking new stuff in through the back door. The sweeping powers accorded to a Minister of State have been sidelined for the moment; however, the price of freedom being eternal vigilance, monitoring of the situation (And vociferous whinging if Blair and his cohorts try to pull a fast one) from this blog will continue. Please would other bloggers who read this continue the campaign from their end. I won’t be cracking open the champagne just yet, but this is hopeful news.

Another little thing which has twitched my lips into a smile (Although for another reason) is a piece of research about Global Warming. Apparently it is real. This is the real deal; there is such a thing as Global Warming. Now before all you treehuggers go dancing around saying ‘Told you so’ and torching every 4x4 you see, the reason the earth is getting warmer is sunspot activity, which is at an 8000 year high. Nothing to do with us at all (Well, a lot less that you guys have been insisting, even if the researchers put in a lot of ‘We’re not sure but’ statements into their report). The sun is hotter, so the earth gets hotter, and there isn’t a damn thing we can do about it apart from break out the factor 50 sun cream and water wings. The Western nations heavy polluters have been in decline since the 1960’s and 70’s, vehicles are much cleaner, so human activity alone cannot be held responsible for the rise in global temperatures. So there. For hard evidence, check out the latest solar weather reports.

The question this raises in my mind is; can we now see a reduction in the so called ‘Green taxes’? Right, thought not. Got to save the NHS by throwing more money at it. (Didn’t someone try that in one 24 hour period back in 1997? Did it work? Do tell.)

Oh well, back to work tomorrow.

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

 

Dearie me.

Well, there’ve been tears before bedtime in the Sticker household. A single Driving Test cock up cascaded into a driving test failure, despite all the careful preparation. Eldest is inconsolable, so I’m just getting out of her way and letting her get on with it. The house is in uproar and I’m sitting here with the heavy duty headphones on trying to ignore the dog, youngest and eldest. Eldest is upset and takes it out on youngest who has taken to swearing a lot. Need to address that behaviour. In turn the dog gets overexcited and dashes back and forth barking a lot before finally hiding under my desk. For my part I shall go and apologise to my neighbours about the noise later on, but for the moment I’m keeping my head down until this particular mini storm blows itself out. Apparently the chocolate worked a bit, but not enough. Maybe it should have been 70% Cocoa solids Belgian chocolate?

Ah, that’s better, she’s gone out with her mates and the temperature has just dropped. Youngest is watching Big Moron and wife is out flower arranging. Phew. Even the dog has calmed down.

Just as an aside from my domestics, I see another Government Minister has been given the push from his job (Immigration) – then given another post straight away (Police). In the cold harsh realities of the real world, if you screw up so badly that your entire department is inept – then you should be fired; not immediately given a new job with just as much responsibility. That is just plain stupid. The guy couldn’t manage one department, so how come he’s being kept on as a manager? Us footsloggers foul up that badly, we get fired and rightly so. You don’t belong in a job you have proven you can’t do properly. Harsh economic truth from my dog eared copy of ‘Boys own book of Government’ (1956 - Out of Print.)

Health scare latest: The Guardian (Amongst others) is running a story about there being a call for drugs called ‘Statins’ to be given to all ‘Middle aged men and women to reduce heart disease and strokes’. Warning. Before rushing out to belabour your local GP about how to get your dose on the NHS; read this little cautionary note about ‘Statins’ first. This one might prove enlightening too. Oh yes, this one might prove interesting. This web research about the well documented side effects and risks of ‘Statins’ took me less than three minutes. As for the current hoo-hah; it looks like a pharmaceutical companies lobbyists and PR people have really been earning their corn doesn’t it?

Personally I think I’ll settle for everything in moderation. The drugs can stay on the pharmacy shelves until they’re really needed.

Monday, May 22, 2006

 

Wet, wet, wet.

Not much to write about today, just a dull showery Monday. Eldest goes for test tomorrow, so lots of driving practice at every possible opportunity. This means less time for writing and blogging. Normal service will be resumed as soon as possible.

One thing which has raised a corner of my mouth in a rictus which might be construed in the right (Or wrong) light, are the talking heads saying how we should fix poverty, save the aged, right the wrongs, be happier, lah-di-dah, blah, blah and thrice blah. Why does anyone believe this nonsense? Only people can make life better. If anything, this is the lesson of the Blair years. Top down solutions only work if you’ve got a population of clones (And possibly not even then). Neighbours working together in common interest make things better. Not bloody politicians.

Why do I bother? Why don’t I shut my keyboard and let the rest of the world go to hell in a handbasket? There’s an answer to that. I think it’s because despite all my bitching about the crass stupidity of everyday survival I see glimpses of sanity out there. Not much, but enough to give me hope. Hope that there are people who are catching on, talking to each other; working things out in a rational manner. Of course I may be horribly deluded; but then old Bill never was the sharpest tool in the box.

Driving practice, oh yes, I knew there was something I should be doing.

Saturday, May 20, 2006

 

Driving test

My eldest is going for her driving test on my next day off (Tuesday). I shall be taking her down to the test centre in the family jalopy and hanging around for the next fifty minutes while she either rises to the occasion or gets shot down in flames. Poor girl is a bag of nerves, despite being a far better cage pilot (Biker slang for car driver) than half of my workmates. I will say this for her, she is a careful, although occasionally ditzy (She’s a blonde – what can I say?) driver who I am quite happy to let ferry me around with a minimum of supervision.

As she failed her last test for two errors of observation having had umpty-ump lessons from an expensive driving school, being short of cash she asked me to help her polish up her skills ready for the practical examination. As she has already passed her theory test with a 100% score, I said “No problem.”

One of the things her instructor suggested to help combat her pre-test nerves was to take herbal sedatives. Being the caring stepfather that I am; when she informed me of her intention to do so I winced heavily and said. “Bad idea lass. Bad idea.” Driving while under the influence – No, no, and thrice no. I dearly love my two stepchildren (Despite the occasional teenage outbursts and shouting matches) and try whenever feasible (Or when they will listen – which is not that often.) to steer them along a less hazardous path. Driving sedated is not only hazardous to yourself; it can also hurt others.
“Why?” Says eldest.
“Sedatives make you dopey and make it difficult to concentrate. You’d probably fail too. I’ve got a better idea.” I replied.
“What’s that?”
“Guess.” I tantalised.
“No, tell me.”
“Chocolate.” Said I.
“What?” She seemed confused.
“You heard me. Chocolate.”
“You’re joking!” She replied.
“Ten minutes before your test you eat half a small bar of Chocolate. It gives you a blood sugar boost and steadies you down. Let’s try it.”

So I took her to a service station and bought her a bar of chocolate, which she duly scoffed half of, waited ten minutes before I put her through her paces at the wheel. Had she taken her test there and then she would have sailed through. Her concentration and observation were spot on, control good, reversing fine; she didn’t stall once. I hardly had to say a word apart from give her directions. Not a single trace of the nerves that had plagued her driving half an hour before.

“Now comes the good bit.” I told her after she’d pulled into a particularly tight parking bay in a supermarket car park.
“What’s that?”
“You get to eat the rest of the chocolate as a reward for getting it right.”
“Cool.”

I think she’ll pass on Tuesday. Praise God for positive reinforcement.

Friday, May 19, 2006

 

Hells Grandad

It comes to a pretty pass in this day and age when those in their ‘third age’ behave poorly. Today I’m just round the corner from the High street writing up my notebook when this old guy who looked about eighty comes round the corner on his little blue mobility scooter (See below). Now I’m busy and I pay him no heed, there’s plenty of space for us both. Tell you the truth I’m surreptitiously leaning against the wall, well out of everyone’s way.

Next thing I know, this old guy has run his front wheel over both my feet.
“Oy!” I expostulated as the back wheel goes over my feet (Fortunately I wear steel toecapped work shoes). The only response I got from him was a mouthed ‘fuck off’ and a two fingered hand signal not mentioned in the Highway Code which is something to do with sex and travel. I was somewhat miffed and was momentarily tempted to lash out and scuff his paintwork, but curtailed my immediate thoughts of mayhem.

Bear this in mind, the footway at that point was clear, a good three metres wide on dry tarmac, and the closest pedestrian was a good twenty paces away; so what on earth was the old fool up to? He’d had to make a two metre detour to mildly inconvenience me, and for what? Was he going to brag about running over a Traffic Wardens feet to his rough, tough mates at the bide-a-wee home for the shortly to be dead? A little nonplussed, I watched as this geriatric hooligan accelerated away and caused a young mother with one of those dual pushchairs to dodge sharply. He hadn’t done me any harm, but I was wondering why he’d even bothered in the first place. He’d had to make a special effort to do it and had achieved precisely nothing but give me some material for a blog entry.

Upon my return to base the rest of the lads thought it was highly risible. “Did you get his number Bill?” Was one of the standard mess room witticisms when I was dumb enough to mention it. Ho yes, very funny.
“Did you breathalyse him Bill?”
“Call the Coppers and have him done for dangerous driving.”
“Probably on drugs.”
“Yeah, for his haemorrhoids.” Sometimes the fun never starts.

Maybe it’s something to do with the weather.

Thursday, May 18, 2006

 

Da Vinci code gossip

Mess room this lunchtime; one of the guys (I’ll call him Charlie) has been ploughing through Dan Brown’s ‘The Da Vinci code’. Trouble is, he’s treating a declared work of fiction as gospel truth.
“Hey Bill, according to this Jesus got married and raised a family.” He’s sitting there, absorbing this paperback and blurting out his revelations at a rate of knots. I’m trying to concentrate on ‘The Welfare State We’re In’ by James Bartholomew and I’m thinking – ‘Dear Lord spare me’. Charlie is one of our newer brethren and bright enough to want to read, but a little too, well, enthusiastic if you catch my drift.

Being an avid reader myself; I am happy to encourage the art, but Charlie is at the stage where although his reading is catholic, it is not yet broad or deep enough to base intelligent discussion upon. At this precise moment he’s becoming rather tedious. To be honest, if it wasn’t periodically chucking it down with rain I’d be outside just to get out of his way. Trouble is he’d follow me and keep on twittering. Hmm, time to nip this one in the bud I think.

“Look Charlie it’s a work of fiction.” I respond to the latest astonished outpouring.
“Yeah, but Bill, it’s based on all these facts, right?” Oh shit, here we go.
“Charlie, that’s what some authors do. It’s called ‘faction’ or a dramatised version of events, but it is not true.” I’m sinking fast – help!
“Yeah, but what if it is true?” This boy’s a fool.
“Charlie, it’s a work of fiction. Very well written, but it is still a work of fiction. I envy Mr Brown’s royalties, but I’m really not interested in it myself.”
“Bloody good book. What if it were true?” Right, that’s it. I’m going to hit him if the stupid bastard won’t shut up.
At this point I snap. “Look Charlie. The Da Vinci code is fiction. Yes there was a historical figure, a religious zealot who matches the profile so to speak, who was executed by crucifixion. His name was Joshua ben Joseph and he died in the reign of the Emperor Tiberius. That is recorded fact. All else is hearsay and I want to read my book – thank you!” Sometimes you have to drive it home with a sledgehammer.
“Yeah but.”
“Charlie!” My voice has sunk to a warning growl.
“Bill, just….”
“Charlie, shut the fuck up. I don’t want to discourage your reading, but I want to read too.”
“Well I only..”
“Charlie, give it a rest.”
“Have you read it?”
“Not until I’ve read this.” I brandish my own reading material. “Which I’m not likely to finish if I keep on getting interrupted.”
“Sorry mate.”
“Yeah, well I’m sorry too Charlie, but just let me read in peace will you?”

Charlie shuts up. Thank you Lord. The only problem is, his oppo Andy, who has an opinion for every flaming day of the bloody week has taken an interest. There’s only one way to deal with him and that is to do the old ‘rope-a-dope’ and let him blather on without listening to a word he says. Some of the older guys I can see grinning quietly. ‘Oh good. It’s Bills turn in the barrel’ I can literally see the relief on their faces, smug bastards.
“You know it’s really quite interesting.” Andy opens.
“Andy, it may be interesting, but I want to read this.” I indicate my book.
“What’s that about?”
“Politics, and the failure of the welfare state.” I reply.
“I think that’s a bit strong, the welfare state isn’t really a failure.”
“Andy, that is something I will make my own mind up about, once I have finished reading this book, and perhaps am enlightened enough to have an opinion.” Shit, all I wanted was a quiet read. He peers at the cover.
“Oh it’s that one.” He says dismissively, as if he’s read it.
“Yes.” I say tersely. “If I am going to be allowed to read.”
“Ooh, get her.” He indicates that I am being a bit of a drama queen by flapping his wrist limply at me.
“Now fuck off.” I snarl.
“No need to be like that.”
“Yes there is. Fuck off or I’ll stick your hand held computer where the sun don’t shine.” Sometimes threats and violence are the only answer.
“Got out the wrong side of bed did we?”
“Yes, now fuck off and nick someone.” That was it, my reading pleasure was ruined and I gave up, put my book away and went back out on patrol, despite the bloody rain. You can’t win ‘em all. Or win at all sometimes. Grr.

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

 

Magic petrol and the Nuclear option

It’s been a bit of a slow day today. Lots of foot miles covered without much to show for it all, but plenty of time for my thoughts ramble over a few things while I sheltered from the rain (Drought orders? What bloody drought? It’s 1976 all over again).

Sometimes you read the news behind the news with a ‘What’s all this about then?’ air of puzzlement. Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez has recently been lording it down in the Smoke with King Ken offering oil and petrol to us impoverished (Well I am) third world Britons. How is he going to do it? Hire Harry Potter to conjure up a few million barrels? The news from South of America is not so hot on the oil front. Delivery infrastructure is crumbling through lack of investment and the Venezuelans are buying oil from the Russians to meet their own contractual energy needs. So where’s all this magical fuel coming from eh? Surely not courtesy of old Vlad the Impaler? (Well, he could certainly shaft us in Europe by cutting off the Ukrainian gas supply, no problem).

No wonder there’s been a sudden new Labour volte face about Nuclear Power over the past twelve months or so. North Sea Oil and gas running out, Continuing war in the Gulf with no real promise of peace upping oil prices, the Chinese in a bidding war for as much black gold as they can get hold of for manufacturing and renewable energy sources don’t look like they can deliver without driving a truck through current environmental legislation.

Going back a decade or so, the public outcry against Nuclear Power was awesome. Nuclear (Fission) power was seen as anathema both before and after the Chernobyl disaster. Building and decommissioning old nuclear power stations is a horrendously complicated and hazardous process if you get it wrong, and merely bloody long winded and expensive if you get it right. Even if you take modern reactor technology into consideration. The base economic costs of nuclear fission fuel to energy look quite good until you check out how much it costs to build and demolish a Nuclear power plant.

On the other hand, if the guys down at Culham and CERN could finally crack the issues surrounding Nuclear Fusion, now that would be something to cheer about and start building Fusion power plants. Well, only ten years to 2016; provided the political will is there to build it. Whether it works or not is another matter. Oh yes, and if everything does go pear shaped, I hope you’ve already sold your cute little holiday villa near Aix-en-Provence.

If a bloke who's only a Parking Enforcer can work this out, wonder what the real brains can do?

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

 

Read this

I’m flat out busy writing tonight, so this entry will be relatively brief, what with youngest trying out first prom dress as opposed to her usual jeans and T-shirt. It really suits her; with heels on she can look me square in the eyes. Although she’s still quite a tomboy, she looks very pretty indeed. God help the boys. Or rather not; as the family Rottweiller (Me) does not like being woken up to deal with unwanted suitors late at night. I can get terribly cross and very grumpy if I’ve got an early shift in the morning. Grr.

To compensate; here’s how some coppers feel about their job. The “I hate the fact that Tony Blair keeps passing laws that don’t work.” Has particular resonance.

Some comment on the suppression of legitimate protest.

Hat tip to Blues and Two’s and Shh! It’s the filth!

Lennie Briscoe’s thoughts on PCSO’s make for interesting reading as well.

Finally; it turns out all the hoo-hah about the Human Rights Laws and all the bone headed decisions are down to ignorance of the legislation by the Prosecutors and Managers. Provisions exist within the legislation covering those convicted of or committing a criminal offence, but certain people need to raise their game as far as reading skills are concerned.

To quote Lord Falconer:
"How they (Human Rights Laws) have been interpreted over the last few years - particularly by people who have been making decisions, not judges but people with administrative roles in relation to issues like the release of the serial rapist - has given rise to real concern."

The Judiciary is taking the rap because Managers are getting it wrong. Why is this not surprising?

To close: Thank you for all those comments and kind solicitations regarding my domestic difficulties. The Sticker household is now as peaceful as it ever is care of manly shoulders to cry on, a bunch of flowers and a little careful listening. Phew.

Monday, May 15, 2006

 

Bit of a domestic

Last night was a bit fraught and I’m still feeling a bit shaky. Dear lady wife got totally stressed out and for a couple of hours I was convinced I was going to be out on my shell like. Turns out she’s been suffering from the exact same condition (Need for wide open spaces etc.) as my good self and chose last night to blow her stack. Breaking plates, slamming doors, shouting and screaming, my first reaction was to go “What on earth?” and head towards the sound of the disturbance. God alone knows what the neighbours thought.

Now I’m used to dealing with people who go off the deep end, but this episode came straight out of left field and completely wrong footed me. For those of you who are not married, this is quite an unnerving experience. I’ve never seen the love of my life as bad as this and quite frankly it scared the living hell out of me. At one point I had my bags out and halfway packed while Mrs Sticker railed at the injustice of life that keeps her where she is. It was that bad. The dog ran out of the house and it took me a good two hours to coax him back in, all the time a little nagging voice in the back of my head was telling me to get out and not come back.

Quite frankly I didn’t understand what was going on at the time. Was this one of those ‘sounding board’ episodes that I’ve learned to cope with or something that really had to be dealt with right now?

Mrs Sticker was out in the back yard, silent and unresponsive when I caught up with her. “You okay?” I asked her. Not your usual witty opener Bill, you’re out of practice.
“No.” She’d been crying and wouldn’t look me in the eyes. Oh bugger, this is serious.
“What’s up love? You’re scaring me.”
“This bloody house.” Was all she’d say. Only one we’ve got until I write a bestseller or we both win the lottery.
“I know. You know. We’re stuck with it for the moment.” I tried to be the thoughtful husband, but she just turned on her heel and picked up her coat on the way out of the front door.
“It’s not good enough.” Boy she sounds tense. “I’m going out.” Then the front door slammed with what sounded like an awful finality.

Now let me explain; I’ve learned that a woman, when she ‘goes off on a rant’ does not always want answers or have something fixed. Half the time you start fixing what’s broken only to get your head bitten off for doing so. The other half of the time you just have to stand there and take it on the chin, because all she wants is to get it off her chest. Either way you cut it, the experience is upsetting. It’s a no-win scenario.

At the time I made the mistake of taking it personally. The latest rewrite of my latest novel isn’t finished and no one seems to want it, the last five story submissions have met with reject slips and I’m still unable to find a better job. So yes, I thought she was railing at me for being a loser. Hence the bag packing exercise. Loser maybe – doormat never.

An hour later, I’m still fizzing with anger because she won’t tell me what the hell is the matter and her mobile phone has been switched off. My bags were half packed and I’d started to wonder who will look after the dog when I’m gone. I can’t hack this. The kids were keeping well out of the way – I have no idea what they thought of it all.

Two hours later the doorbell rang and I opened the much abused front portal to find a very tearful Mrs Sticker standing there in the rain. “God’s sake love, get in.” I said. This is bad, this is very bad.
“No.” Mrs S is standing there getting soaked. “Come out Bill, walk with me.” There are times when a little discomfort should be ignored, so I stepped out into the rain and went for a walk around the block, trying to figure out what to say, what to do. “I can’t do the house any more Bill. I just can’t do it.”
“I hate it too, but you know we’ve got to hang in for another two years.” I responded, wondering when I was coming up on the list of disposables.
“No.” I know that tone, it’s end of the tether time. Time for me to say what’s on my mind.
“Give me forty-eight hours and I can be out of your life.” I said bluntly. With nothing to show from this relationship but a busted business and a broken heart. Jesus wept.
She stopped dead. “Is that what you think this is?” She demanded.
“Well isn’t it?” I snapped back. No sense in being a doormat. Get it out in the open so’s we can deal with whatever it is. Roll those dice, sucker.
“Don’t you go running out on me Bill Sticker.” She cut back at me. “I need you more than ever right now.”
“So it’s not about – oh sod it love – I’m sorry.” I took her hand and put my arm around her and let her cry.
“I can’t go back in that house Bill. I just can’t.”
“Let’s get the car keys. I’m driving.”
“Don’t make me go back in, I can’t.”
“Okay, okay. Let’s go out for a drive.” It’s half past ten and I’m on early turn in the morning. I really don’t need this; but she needs me more, nagged that awkward little voice of conscience in my head.

There are times when I would cheerfully put a bullet through my brain to stifle that insidious little voice. I’m sure having this conscience stops me from being a ruthless multi billionaire with a string of mistresses and a mansion for every day of the week. I put it down to listening to older friends Clifford T Ward songs during my formative years. Especially this one, which never fails to move me. Soppy old bastard that I am.

I got my tear and rain dampened wife into the car and we went for a midnight drive. Something I haven’t done since my contracting days when I often had to get from one end of the country to another overnight. We must have visited half a dozen service stations looking for my wife’s favourite sweets before fuelling up the gas guzzler and heading off into the night.

Two hours later we were giggling like a pair of naughty schoolkids in a motorway service area. The coffee shop staff seemed to take us in their stride and after a few moments decided we were going to be no trouble and went back to their little gossip group.

At one time, the wee hours of the morning were all part of what I did. Tell you the truth I used to thrive on four or five hours sleep every twenty four, but you get older and you get out of practice burning the candle at both ends. It was three by the time we got home and got to bed. A more relaxed Mrs Sticker brushed her teeth while I hurriedly dumped my half packed bag into the cupboard. Then I just crashed and burned until half past six. Don’t ask me why I’m still awake and moving around twenty four hours later because I don’t know.

Now she who must not be ignored has summoned me, and I must go. Goodnight.

Sunday, May 14, 2006

 

A broad few thoughts from home

In happier times I have travelled across wide oceans and countries. Every so often I get this big howl that builds up inside. It’s not a want, it’s a deep seated need for wide open spaces, big skies and a horizon much broader than those found in Britain. Places that don’t feel so cooped up. It’s probably one of the reasons why I put up with the nonsense that gets thrown my way every single hour of the working day. I like being out in the open where I can look up every now and again. I’ll even tolerate the traffic fumes.

Like this winter just gone, once the bare branches are once more leaf laden, my spirits perk up and the drab days are forgotten, for a while at least. Living things that soften the harsh edges of stark modern architecture. Architecture that looks good on the drawing board, but when these concrete vampires are actually built they leach the wellspring of life out of you every time you look at them.

That said, I’m not naturally an urban creature; although a good chunk of my working life has been spent in such concrete boxes building and fixing things with nary a glimpse of sunshine for days on end. It’s different when you’re so absorbed in what you are doing that you look at your watch once a day and think “Oops, time to go home, overtime is not paid on this job.” You don’t get time to let the starkness of pastel painted concrete bother you. On the streets it’s different; all this stuff is all too depressingly in your face.

Down in the shadowy recesses of my soul is this werewolf who raises his throat to the skies every so often and cries out for open spaces. Like today. It’s very unsettling. I can’t focus on anything. Story threads won’t weave together properly. I get jittery and nervous for no reason whatsoever. It’s nothing to do with being back on duty first thing tomorrow. I think.

Something about the grey skies and showers has caused my ‘inner man’ to cringe and hunker down, trying to find a happy thought. Trouble is, all my happy thoughts are of far away places, which makes me even worse. My whole head feels wired; I keep on remembering things like a particular blue of a morning sky, and wide roads that seem to go on forever through huge forests. Lakes and water so clear you can see the bottom a good fifteen to twenty feet below. Getting caught in heavy rain that was like a warm power shower and not caring about getting wet through. People who were so all fired nice you didn’t want to leave even though you were only passing through.

All I know is, I’m going back that way sometime in the not too distant future. Maybe for good. I know exactly the feeling this piece of verse describes, although I wasn’t thinking of Africa.

Saturday, May 13, 2006

 

Doing nothing much

I’m sitting watching the rain on my mildly parched garden while my dog cowers under the stairs from the thunderstorm; I’m making the most of my last day of leave before pitching back in to the day to day confusion. Kids are watching TV, Mrs Sticker is busy with her weekend tasks. Meal’s been cooked, cleaning done and I’m not interested in doing much of anything. Didn’t even bother watching the FA cup final. Not that football (Soccer) interests me much. Give me Rugby every time.

Wrote a couple of thousand words more towards the novel and a short story I’m working on. Didn’t feel that I’d done much and I think I might just scrap it all because the text somehow lacks the immediacy I’m trying to convey.

Stuck a ‘Babel fish’ translation tool on the blog; well you never know who might drop by and it’s best to show a little hospitality. In my casual wanderings I come across a lot of non English speaking bloggers out there and I feel it would be rude to shut them out, so up went the translation tool.

The whole day has had a bit of an anticlimactic feel to it all. No urgency, everything got done and I’m just at a bit of a loose end until Monday morning. Wonder what’s on at the movies? Nope, nothing I want to see (Da Vinci Code, Mission Impossible 3 – No.). The kids are hogging the TV and it’s Graham Norton doing something with dancers – the little tinker. Looks like its headphones and a book time. TTFN.

Friday, May 12, 2006

 

You can’t take it with you

One of the things anniversaries get you thinking about is the future, making sure stuff is taken care of. Wills, inheritances, that sort of thing. Not that my estate is ever likely (at the current income levels) to attract death duties – but it’s something we all have to deal with. Only two things certain about this life Death and taxes.

There have been a few news stories recently about UK families refusing to comply with the deceased persons wish to donate organs after their death. At the risk of seeming morbid, and a long time donor card holder, I’ve often thought it rather weird that people object to odd bits and pieces of themselves being used post mortem for the benefit of others. Need a new kidney? Hell, if I’m dead I’m hardly likely to be using them again. Corneas? – Help yourself. They’ll only go off in this weather.

Periodically there are outcries from people who find out that odds and ends from their nearest and dearest have been kept in a jar by a Hospital for later analysis when the Doctors aren’t quite sure what killed them. Now to my way of thinking that is plain old superstition, the basis behind which appears to be that you won’t get to heaven if you aren’t intact. Well that keeps most of us on the wrong side of the Pearly gates for certain. Who hasn’t lost teeth, tonsils, the odd appendix, bits of cartilage, toenails by the time we get finished with this vale of tears? Sounds like good old fashioned guilt to me.

Just say for a moment there is a heaven / hell setup after our bodies stop working. A man / woman / whatever dies and arrives at the Pearly Gates / Portal of their religions specification and St Peter / The Recording Angel / Gatekeeper / Whoever greets them thus. “Done good works / saved a life or two / made the lives of others better? Good man, in you go – hold up a minute me old china, you can’t come in, your kidneys have gone walkies!”
“Stap me vitals!” Expostulates the deceased. "They were there a minute ago. What thieving git made off with those then?”
“Well, you can’t come in here without all your bits pal.” Says the gatekeeper.
“What! When I was alive I saved a child from drowning, helped my neighbours and lived a good, guilt free life full of good deeds – doesn’t that count?” Retorts the deceased in a manner which could be interpreted as somewhat miffed.
“Sorry chum. No bits – no entry.”
“You mean I’m going to hell because I donated some bits to save another’s life?”

“That’s about the size of it – byee” Says the gatekeeper and down goes the unfortunate deceased to the fiery pit. If God is good and just – it doesn’t happen like that.

My own feelings are this; if my bits can be salvaged after I’m done with them – fine and dandy – break me down for scrap. It’s a kind of immortality – of sorts. What I object to, and object most strongly, is that the families who refuse to donate get donated organs when they have need. Point of fact, if the would be recipient does not carry a donor card themselves, they in turn should not even be considered for a transplant. Harsh, but just. Now Taxes, well that's another matter for another blog entry.

Thursday, May 11, 2006

 

Joy

Mr and Mrs Sticker have been enjoying their wedding anniversary with lots of fizzy stuff and a lot of love. May the rest of you be so fortunate. Excuse me, I'm more than slightly tiddly.

Regards

Bill

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

 

Ahhh

The sun is shining, the lawn mown, the gazebo up. It is a beautiful day. Cold beer on tap, but I’m saving that for later. Now I’m just waiting for some bastard to come and try to ruin it all.

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

 

Maybe we should mind our own damn business

Relaxing with my morning cup of coffee, I was rambling through a few of the weblogs on my sidebar blogroll and came across PhilB’s comments on the UK Pensions system crisis. As someone who has lost two pensions indirectly because of Gordon Browns predations, I have a lot of sympathy with Phil’s viewpoint, so I read what he had to say quite carefully.

One of the things Phil made mention of was Gordon Browns promise of £8.5 billion aid to Africa and a CIVITAS report about what happens to such aid. Mrs Sticker read this report over my shoulder, and being someone who has actually spent time working in Africa, nodded sagely in agreement with much of the content.

What I have to say is; why do we bother? If we hand out so much in Aid (bribes) and the human rights / poverty situation of the general population in Africa does not improve, why? Perhaps we should just buy what these countries have to offer and not get involved in their internal disputes with our cosy middle class suburban ‘morals’. Perhaps if the developed western nations stopped messing around with our well intentioned ‘fairness’ malarkey we might actually do the general populations of these countries a favour. There are several well documented arguments why we should not. Anyone remember the Labour party 1997 manifesto promises of ‘Ethical foreign policy’? Where is that now may I ask? Several wars later.

It may be worth reading Mandbvhu’s Zimbabwe reflections blog, which has an interesting little snippet about Aid.

All I have to say on the matter is; road, hell, the, good intentions, to, are, with, paved (This is a flat-pack cliché which will require some user assembly).

Monday, May 08, 2006

 

A rainy day in an English Spring

This morning I have taken time out to simply do what my dog was doing – watch the rain on my garden from our back window. Chilling, I think is the most suitable term. He with his nose and ears, me with my eyes.

Watching speckle breasted Thrushes beat the hell out of the snail population; the grey and brown flickers of Sparrows playing an avian version of ‘grab-ass’ in the shrubs and bushes; the grey clumsy shape of a pigeon trying to use next doors bird feeder and almost falling off.

It makes me glad to see Spring. Winter has gone on too long and the yearly systolic pulse of sap propelling long awaited leaves from their buds was well overdue. Now it is here. Outbursts of blossom have turned bare funereal branches into bridal garments. Colour has returned to the world. Sing me life; this is true joy. How I do miss the vibrant green of life during the years moribund dark grey months. You can’t duplicate the effect with paint and fancy lights, no matter how you might try. All this and the pleasing smell of rain dampened earth.

A house over the back has a couple of dislodged slates on its roof. I’ll tell my neighbour next time I see him to talk to. The garden shed is due a coat of preservative and my home made garden swing seat could do with a couple of coats too. Must replace that bloody awful blue rope with something a bit more natural looking. The garden centres are beckoning. The lawn was mown yesterday, so it isn’t quite such a chewed up disaster area at present. Most of the shrubs have been cut back to manageable proportions and compromises made with next door neighbours over tree heights etc. The garden is looking good; get the gazebo up on Wednesday.

2006 will be a good summer when it arrives; clear, bright mornings and intensely blue skies whose siren call lures you out of doors; long, salubrious sunny afternoons and warm humid nights when the darkness of a curtained room is the only bedding required.

Excuse me waxing lyrical. I know that the reality of summer will be too much heat, fumes and throat clogging dust during the working day. The unskilled smoke and paraffin stench of home cremation kits (Barbeques) at the weekend. The high pitched whining of bloody mosquitoes in darkened bedrooms at night and everyone short tempered and irritable due to the humidity, heat and lack of sleep. Not to mention thunderstorms every three or four days which always seem to coincide with your days off. Enough; for the moment it is an English spring with all its new life and promise.

An odd thought just struck me; wouldn’t it be funny if Paradise and Hell were just a thoughts breadth away from each other? Perhaps they are.

It is raining, and I do not care to do anything but relax and write. The rest of the world can look after itself.

Sunday, May 07, 2006

 

We don’t need no stinkin’ Badges.

One is a little perturbed about all these stories that keep on surfacing about certain persons complaining about the display of the Cross of St George or Union flags. The ground for the complaint seem to be that the wearer of either symbol automatically displays their allegiance to the right wing BNP or may ‘offend’ non indigenous persons in the UK.

Although I am no fan of the BNP, such complaints on the home soil of my country cause me great offence. Whilst on duty I must keep my opinions firmly to myself, but off duty I am outraged by any such suggestion, but I’m also as offended by the hijacking of the Union flag for political ends as I am for ‘In-ger-land’ fans who use the flag of St George as a badge for their unpleasant antics. As memory serves; not so very many years ago, the only place you would see the flag of St George celebrated was on 23rd April from Church Steeples and at Archery contests. Seeing it paraded on the shoulders of drunken football supporters always makes me wince. Yes, I suffer from patriotism – it’s not a crime – yet.

As a protest at said complaints, when on duty during this summer I shall be wearing my British / American flag badge, my British / Canadian flag badge, the cross of St George / Union flag, and perhaps (If I can find one) a France / England badge as well. Any liberal lefty / officious other, who wants to complain about their display may find my unwelcome attention drawn towards their vehicle. I may be less than merciful.

Blogroll update;

Down Under
Ripskater

Personal
Disgruntled Commuter

Politics
Downing Street Says
Not-Little-England

Work
Doormans blog
 

Leave glorious leave

Holiday! A whole week of footslog free lazing around! A welcome break for me poor old plates of meat. Even if it is slightly involuntary.

The story follows thus; Four weeks ago Kerry, who was in one of her ‘I want this done’ moods – called me to the Office - immediately.
“Morning Kerry, what’s the kerfuffle?” I said when I arrived. Best to put on an innocent face, just in case I have made a serious cock up.
“Sit down please Bill.” She said. Oh dear, I’m in trouble aren’t I? This is about that Councillor I nicked in a disabled bay isn’t it? I sat down as I was bid and internally steeled myself for a telling off.
“Holidays.” She said tersely. What?
“Sorry.” Okay, I’m confused.
“Holidays Bill. You haven’t booked many.”
“Er, well, I’ve been thinking about them. I just haven’t got round to booking any.” Why is she cross with me?
“I need you on duty Bill for certain days this summer. I was checking your file yesterday and noticed you’ve got most of your leave entitlement left.”
“Right. I’d better use it or lose it then.” Phew, and I thought I was in trouble.

For the best part of an hour we went over the schedules, ensuring Kerry got her patrol cover and I got my leave used before the end of October, when my entitlement runs out. The upshot of this is that all this week errant motorists will be safe from my personal parking predations. The bad news is that we’ve got full patrol cover anyway.

Friday, May 05, 2006

 

Back to politics

One of the reasons I haven’t blogged about the scattergunning of scandals that is currently puncturing the current UK government are twofold. Firstly I didn’t want to prejudge any issues; and secondly others like Guido Fawkes and the Recess Monkey do it so much better than I could because they are close to the wellspring off corruption.

Following the local election results I can’t say I feel sorry for the current UK Governments reshuffle panic reaction, since their undoing has been mainly by their own hands (Or in at least one case, allegedly by a secretary). Poorly thought out knee jerk legislation and half hearted ‘reforms’ that should never have come within twelve gazillion light years of the statute books; the notion that one could gain political power and a title by virtue of a large enough donation to party funds. My thoughts are that we have not heard even half of it yet.

As for my little portion of the world, life will go on no matter who wins what. I am reminded of the (Apocryphal) tale of an old French Farmer who watched Napoleons army marching along the road bordering his land on the road to Quatre Bras crossroads. One of Napoleon’s scouts stopped at the farm to water his horse. “Who’s he?” Said the old man, watching Napoleon ride past on his elegant white steed.
“You don’t know?” Said the astonished Officer.
“No. What are you lot up to anyway?” Replied the old Farmer.
“That, my ignorant friend, is the Emperor Napoleon who is going to fight a great battle for you.”
“Why?” Said the Farmer.
“For the glory of the Republic, you old fool! To make everybody’s life better!” Sneered the officer.
“Oh.” Responded the old man mildly. “Make life better eh? Will the glory of this Republic milk my cows and goats, prune my vines or get my hens to lay bigger eggs?”
“Don’t be stupid.” Said the Officer.
“What’s the good of the glory of the Republic then?”
The Officers reply was not recorded.

Ave Duci novo, simili duci seneci (Work it out for yourself)

Final comment. If it is said that political power is a powerful aphrodisiac; John Prescott is living proof of this assertion. ‘Nuff said.

Thursday, May 04, 2006

 

My mate Ken

On a day to day basis, I cross paths with other Council officers who deal with things like abandoned cars, skips without permits, trading standards, all that stuff. We recognise that we’re batting for the same team and talk to each other on a formal and informal basis.

Take for example my friend Ken who pays our mess room a visit every other weekend. He’s the chap who organises the removal of offending items like dumped cars that fall outside of the Police’s remit, enforcement of licences, that sort of thing. Making sure that the people who pay for their trading permits and licences are protected from unfair competition where people just turn up and do what they damn well please. Without him and his team we reckon we’d have regular little gang wars between the less scrupulous traders as everyone jostles for the same market and pitches. Unlike us, he doesn’t wear a uniform.

Between us over the past couple of years I think we’ve had at least a dozen occasions where we’ve teamed up to face down angry people over various issues. Me when they’ve parked on a restriction, and Ken when they haven’t bothered with trading licences. Ice cream vans, Hot dog stands, that sort of thing.

The events covered in this post happened on the morning of Bank Holiday Monday when I had that rather nervous experience with the footballers. Same place, just earlier in the day.

An unlicensed trader had dropped off an ice cream trailer on one of the municipal car parks on my beat. The kid who was manning it knew nada por nada, and couldn’t move it because the towing vehicle had left. I couldn’t issue a parking ticket because it was a trailer and not a vehicle.
“My gaffer dropped me off, he’ll be back this afternoon.” I almost felt sorry for the nineteen year old, but he was parked across two bays and the place was filling up rapidly.
“Well phone him and get this trailer shifted. I’ve just checked and you guys don’t have a licence to trade here.” Not strictly speaking true, but I've got to shift him somehow.
“Please..”
“Sorry mate. You’ve got to go.”
“I need the money..”
“Don’t we all, but you can’t just pitch up where you fancy. This is Council property. Phone your boss and get him back here to move it.”
“I’ve left my mobile in his car.” All of a sudden my internal ‘bullshit’ alarm goes off. A nineteen year old without a mobile? Hmm.
“Okay, I’ll get it shifted for you.” I step off a few paces and radio in to CCTV. “This is 515, is the Trading Officer on today?” I have to ask them because he usually operates on another radio channel. Five seconds later I’m answered with Ken’s dulcet tones over the air. “Hello 515, you got one for me?”
“Ice cream stand on the municipal lake car park.”
“Right, I’m coming over. Two minutes.” Didn’t know he was that close.

Two minutes later Ken is with us. He takes one look at the ice cream trailer and gives a wry grin. “Oh, he’s back again is he?” Is his opening remark. “Cheers Bill, I’ll take it from here.” I swan off up to the other side of the car park to carry on my patrol while Ken does his thing. Half an hour later, my radio goes off. “515, this is Trading. Got a few minutes?”
“Roger that Trading. Same place?”
“Yeah, just need a uniformed presence.”
“On my way.” It’s too early in the day for any overdue tickets, and the people who don’t cough up generally arrive don’t arrive until mid to late morning, so I can spare the time.

When I arrive about ten minutes later, Ken is in the middle of a heated discussion with the Ice cream stand owner who has hitched up his trailer, but is refusing to move. “You bastards stop a man earning a living!” Storms the owner, who has another ‘friend’ standing nearby.
“You buy a licence and we’ll let you trade.” Says Ken, standing there with his arms folded.
“Couldn’t make any money if I did that! Bloody Council!”
“The thing is, you ain’t got a licence. Now move before my mate here gives you a ticket.” Says Ken, hoiking his thumb in my direction. I keep my mouth shut and start punching the guys vehicle details into my hand held. Code 86 should do for this one as he’s parked in the middle of the alleyway between lines of parked cars.
“Fucking Council!” Owner legs it into his vehicle and drives off before I can get the minimum details logged in. Ken has a grim look of satisfaction on his face. “Same day every year.” Why do I get the feeling this is a regular occurrence?
“I take it you know him.” I remark.
“Oh yeah. He tries it on every Bank Holiday.” Says Ken, a little philosophically.
“Doesn’t he learn?”
“Don’t care Bill. He trades at Car boot clubs, that sort of thing, but trading standards have been after him about hygiene.”
“So he tries it on here because….”
“Trading Standards are out at the car boot clubs and markets – you got it.”
“How come you wanted me? You can fine people more than the cost of a parking ticket.”
“He don’t pay his fines.” Ken shrugs. “Bailiffs turn up at his house and lockup, everything’s gone or in his wife’s name. Parking ticket on his car works better.” He gives me a grin and claps me on the shoulder. “About time for tea break isn’t it?”
“Why not? It’s going to be a warm one later on.” What an excellent idea.

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

 

Digital Assassin

According to some sources the BBC have been looking for would be ‘Digital Assassins’ to attend a conference about the ‘Democratisation of the Media’ on May 3rd (Today). Now forgive me if I am in error here, but isn’t the whole point of being an Assassin, digital or otherwise, to remain hidden and do your dirty work in secret? Not ponce around at sponsored conferences, even if there was fifty pounds sterling on offer. That’s rather like hiring out the Albert hall for Al-Qaeda to conduct a ‘meet and greet’ session to show their victims the cuddlier side of suicide bombing. To go public and say ‘I am a digital assassin’ That is simple schoolboy posturing. It is also akin to walking around with a sign saying ‘kick me – I love the attention’ hanging down your back.

Seriously though, having had a look at the various articles, it looks like a bit of a wake up call for mainstreamers and their circles of influence. Having read ‘Who runs this place’ by Anthony Sampson, I can see that the Mainstream Media have a problem. If Sampson’s Venn Diagrams inside the flyleaf of his book are anywhere near accurate, the traditional news media has a lot to lose, as do many institutions that form the ‘Establishment’. What I am talking about is ‘influence’, be it Islington dinner party opinionista’s or those who covertly say ‘support our viewpoint or we’ll pull our advertising’. Both these means of influence require a readership or circle of influence without which, their opionioneering or advertising is futile. They rely upon getting their message across to their target audience with little or no gainsaying. In short, they peddle influence, rather like certain newspapers try to influence the voting habits of their readership by slanting a political story one way or the other. For proof of this statement read first the Telegraph then the Guardian (Or the other way around) and look at the way they present what they print. You sometimes wouldn’t think that they were talking about the same things. Same for the Sun or Daily Mirror.

If, or more like when, the bulk of peoples reading tastes are more influenced by news blogs and primary sources, the traditional media will lose their power and therefore their wealth and means of generating more wealth. When the power brokers pay more attention to primary sources they will decline. Information is the life blood of a civilisation, more so than money; because money is made with the right, most accurate or timely of information. When the money no longer controls the flow of said information, the market opens wide to include lots of smaller dealers more than just a few big players. That is what blogging has done for the Internet. However, it is still in its infancy and in the UK at least, the art of the ‘professional blogger’ is still underdeveloped.

Perhaps this is what they mean by ‘Digital Assassin’.

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

 

A little local difficulty part 2

A little background update on house owner and builder, who have not yet cottoned on that it’s me who keeps chucking their cones and breeze blocks etc in their skip. Neither are local, nor have any real idea of the kind of neighbourhood their property is in.

May I explain; unlike many places in England, our little bunch of streets has what you might call ‘community spirit’. I talk to my neighbours, they talk to me, and we generally sort things out on a one to one basis without the need for ‘official’ intervention. Most of us are used to this. We grew up in places where you knew who your neighbours were. You made a point of saying hello and inviting them over when they first moved in. The secret appears to be getting people to talk about themselves and their interests, whilst keeping your own mouth firmly shut and your prejudices on hold.

Problems arise when there are those who have no interest in living in a particular place appear. New house owner will not be moving in himself but is only interested in his property as a ‘buy to rent’ opportunity. Ergo, he has no interest or involvement in the social life of the street. This is okay, but when it comes down to inconveniencing the inhabitants, there’s no real first line means of resolving any potential conflict. Ergo, builder kept on putting out breezeblocks, which kept on getting chucked in his skip.

The good news is that the builder has stopped putting out the breezeblocks. Took him long enough to get the hint.

Oh yes, I am happy to announce that the true, hidden purpose behind the Internet is now public domain. This is important information that demands a wider audience; just follow this link for the unexpurgated and perhaps (To some) unpleasant truth. Conspiracy theorists should take note.

Monday, May 01, 2006

 

Low stakes drifting

There was a made for TV movie I saw once, I’m pretty sure it was ‘the Gambler’ starring Kenny Rogers and Bruce Boxleitner. The theme tune for which made a pretty good refrain for today’s little episode. I think the chorus went like this;

You got to know when to hold ‘em
Know when to fold ‘em
Know when to walk away
Know when to run
You never count your money
When you’re sitting at the table
They’ll be time enough for counting
When the dealings done


Today I walked away, but in the face of ten to one odds which left me with a limited escape route, no CCTV cover, no backup and my back exposed. If those circumstances don’t make you a very nervous person indeed, then you have no fear and probably often enjoy the taste of hospital food fed through a straw. Me, I’ve had my teeth a long time and I’m very attached to them thank you very much, they belong in my upper and lower mandibles as nature intended. Dentures, as my father pointed out to me, are no substitute for the real thing.

On patrol on the Municipal gardens car park this afternoon I’m meandering along, checking pay and display tickets, watching people falling out of boats, generally keeping an eye open for people who don’t like paying for their parking when I come across six cars without tickets. I also come across the drivers who are having an impromptu game of football nearby. Now I’ve no problem with the football, but people who are too cheap to cough up the price of a litre of petrol for an hours parking – well, it’s what I do.

As I‘m giving the first car my usual once over prior to entering details for a putative booking there are general “Oy you!” Noises from the greensward. Next thing I know there’s ten or so guys around me with at least three behind my suddenly very nervous back. “I can’t see any Pay and display tickets.”
“Machine’s jammed.” Claims someone.
“All right.” Damn, I know from experience there’s no CCTV cover down here. To call them now would up the ante and that would be a very silly move on my part indeed. Diplomacy Bill, that’s what’s needed here. “I’ll have a look.”

The mini mob lets me through and I walk towards the offending P&D machine trailing footballers in my wake. Upon opening the machine, sure enough, there’s a coin jam. How much I don’t know, but there are the best part of a dozen guys with less than friendly expressions behind me and I’m feeling a horribly prescient itch in the middle of my back.

Have you ever tried to do some familiar task with several pairs of eyes burning into your back? That’s just how I felt. I firstly had problems clearing the jam with such an audience behind me, and also because it was a tricksy one that had swallowed a few pounds without registering them. Now there was no way I could verify this for myself – the machines are getting old worn and clunky, needing maintenance on a thrice weekly basis. Some of them are twenty years old. Marvellous really that they’re taken all the public can throw at them for that long, but more robust units are needed. This being the case, there was no way I could verify the truth of the matter, one way or the other. After two minutes inexpert tinkering I put everything back in place.

“Okay, looks like we’ve got a fault with this unit, I’ll get an engineer out as soon as possible.” I said as I closed the unit up. “I’ll just have to take your word for it that you’ve paid.” There was an imperceptible lowering of the temperature and a general murmured agreement that all Parking Enforcers weren’t all bad people. I made as gracious an exit as I could, tail lowered.

Maybe they were on the up and up, maybe not, but someone had coughed up in good faith and who am I to say who it was? You just have to know when to back off and sod the hard liners who say you should have handed out tickets anyway. It’s only a bloody parking ticket.
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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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This net ring exposes political correctness for the fraud that it is and advocates universal values of individual freedom, free speech, and equal rights for all.

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