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Monday, July 31, 2006

 

Zero tolerance

Every so often the press have a go about yobs on the streets and zero tolerance policing. Well, excuse me if I don’t join in. Zero tolerance means every law, including littering and parking rules is enforced fully and without mercy. Spitting on the floor – that’s an offence, as is riding your bicycle on a footway, letting your dog take a dump and not pick it up for disposal – that too. All offences under the laws of England. Add to that common assault (Which can be committed merely by tapping someone on the shoulder), behaviour likely to cause a breach of the peace (Being a bit loud and too full of the party spirit), etc. They are all offences under statute. Never mind about the serious stuff.

Now let’s take a few moments to think about how many times each and every one of us has broken a law in the past week. Not sure? Don’t spit? Of course not, filthy habit. Littering – Perish the thought. Ride a bicycle on the pavement – don’t have a bicycle. Exceed the speed limit even by only half a mile per hour – Who me? Parked beyond due time on a restriction – No? Uttered an opinion which might be construed as sexist, racist or prejudiced against any number of ‘protected’ minorities – Even by allusion? There was once even disciplinary action against a teacher in the early 1990’s for having allegedly used ‘Racist body language’. Not to mention accusations that Police Officers were guilty of the same. Pardon the paucity of links, but a lot of this stuff doesn’t get posted on news sites.

If passing laws could make a difference the world by now would be a utopia. Just passing laws alters nothing; it just means that the mesh of the sieve gets thinner and thinner. To enforce them the Lawyers and politicians will demand more enforcement of the petty stuff, more Parking Enforcers, more speed cameras, more CCTV. In the end almost all of us will be unable to avoid being criminalized.

My point is that we need a certain tolerance, but that a line in the sand has to be drawn somewhere. From my point of view this is down to the initiative of the individual enforcer, where this is allowed. Personally I draw the line that if they can drive away before the ticket is printed off – I can’t do much about it and perhaps the person concerned will be more attentive to the lines and signs next time. I hope. I also hope that we don’t get so cussed crowded that the lines and signs have to spread. Firstly it means I have more ground to cover in the same time (Honestly, at the current rate of increase I’ll have to jog to cover my allotted beats), and secondly it means a little less freedom for everybody. Which is a shame really. We all need a few rules but we as Humans need the space which moderate freedoms afford or we can’t function fully as sapient beings in a relatively free society.

In the words of T S Eliot from the final lines of his poem ‘The Hollow Men’
“This is the way the world ends, not with a bang, but with a whimper.”

Excuse me, I’ve just watched the DVD of V for Vendetta and I’m feeling a little melancholy.

Sunday, July 30, 2006

 

Bills

There’s a Blackadder (Blackadder 3 Amy and Amiability) episode which has something like the following as a line in the opening scene where Edmund Blackadder says;
“Sometimes I feel like a Pelican. Whichever way I turn, I've still got an enormous bill in front of me.”

That’s right, the gas and telephone bills arrived Saturday morning, leaving Mrs Sticker and I with a financial sinking sensation like the ground under our feet has turned to quicksand. We sat down with a mutual ‘What are we going to do now?’ look on our faces. It’s not as if we’re the most energy profligate family on the planet (Although we do have teenagers). The heating has been off since early May, we don’t have any air conditioning (Although that would be very nice right now). What with the Council tax, eldest going to University this September and everything else, it looks like the Sticker family are in for a fairly thin time of it for the foreseeable future.

Being a Parking Enforcer is not the best paid job on the block, and the ever increasing cost of living eats into the family budget, tearing ever greater chunks out of the family fatted calf to the point where it resembles a bleached skeleton. As a family our income is in that ticklish band where our outgoings have always walked the tightrope of our incoming funds. What with ever increasing stealth taxation and the knock on effect of increasing utility prices, I’ve got to look at some way of drastically cutting costs short to middle term. This itself is an area into which we have made considerable inroads. Only one car for essentials. We’ve cut spending on clothes, nights out (Although those have always been a rarity) It’s getting to the point where the only savings we can make are spending less on food and clothing (Despite pretty modest spending already) or cutting the broadband connection. Because of my shift system, I can’t take on part time work, and as for trying to get money for my writing – forget it. Everyone seems to want something for nothing, at least as far as I’m concerned anyway. The situation is not quite dire yet, but is heading that way.

No assistance from Social Services for us either, we just don’t qualify.

The thought occurs that if the state was not so all fired pernicious in our lives and taxation quite so invasive, we might be able to cope better financially. As for being a local Government employee, and so a putative burden on the poor bloody council taxpayer, I console myself that my work, such as it is, helps keep council tax, in our area at least – down. Not that this little snippet is of any use to me right now.

Saturday, July 29, 2006

 

Being Bill Sticker

Who is Bill Sticker? Is he really as he claims to be, a real live honest to god Parking Enforcement Officer? Where is he really from? Why does he write about it? Are his hobbies really walking and sarcasm?

The first question is a bit complex. Bill is a real person, but the times and order of incidents are generally (But not always) altered in order to disguise my true identity. Well, given the fact that if my employers read some of the things I’ve written regarding parking enforcement in our area, and about Management in general, disciplinary action would surely follow. Put that within context of my district and possible repercussions from those who have an irrational but genuine and dangerous hatred of people in my line of work, I think anonymity is my best shield and protection. Despite that, yes, I’m a genuine Local Authority Parking Enforcement Officer with uniform, badge, Officer Number, the works. Yes and I have issued quite a few tickets to those who were in breach of the parking rules. Within that context, one out of three isn’t bad.

As for question number four, now that’s a sticky one. Why do I write about it? Is it as Jane Perrone in the Guardian online suggested last year that it is my ‘one man agenda’ to ‘Rehabilitate’ the image of Traffic Wardens? Well I didn’t start out that way. It began as a sideline; a hobby derived from my evening school writing class based on a two thousand word piece ‘Support your local Traffic Warden’. As for actually starting a blog, my chief inspirations at the time being a very brave man called Cass Brown who writes ‘Cancergiggles’ about living and dying of terminal cancer, and David Copperfield who writes the ‘Policemans blog’. After only a week, people began linking to my blog, and for no better reason that I liked what they were saying I started linking back, and before you know it my weblog had the national press paying me visits.

Am I a whistleblower? Well I don’t think of myself that way. If anything it’s fun for me and good writing practice. Add to that the fact that I can say pretty much what I like on whatever takes my fancy. Say I think that a particular publication is unnecessarily one sided and facile, I can say so. Maybe I don’t think that global warming is all anthropocentric, my blog, my platform. It’s like having a ‘Letters to the Editor’ page all to yourself.

For me it is all about my so far frustrated ambition to make it as a professional writer. I don’t have a degree so no one is likely to offer me the work that I feel my ‘talent’, if that is what it is, demands. Previously people have only seemed to come to me when they want something for nothing; which can be flattering but puts nothing on the table. In addition the markets for writers in England can be very restrictive if you haven’t made your ‘name’ or restrict your output to very narrow fields. This is my personal experience.

Now as for question five. Yes I am a really sarcastic so and so in real life and often find myself ironing my own teeth marks out of my tongue or I would get myself into just heaps of trouble. The trouble is there’s so much damn temptation out there for a lippy sod like me, given the amount of sheer unmitigated, but above all human stupidity out on the Streets. From both sides of the parking fence.

To close; pre emptive answers to further questions; have I had a drink this evening? You betcha. Have I had a busy day? Of sorts, yes. Am I out on patrol in your area tomorrow? I might be, might not. As my Mother has always been fond of saying; ‘That’s for me to know and you to find out.’ Much to my fathers chagrin. Nighty night.

Friday, July 28, 2006

 

Poorly system problems

There is a cliché “The bottom fell out of his world.” I would like to make a slight modification to that because recently it has felt like the world was falling out of my bottom. Must be the heat and humidity finally getting to me because for the past couple of days I have restricted my movements (Ha bloody ha) to within ten paces of a toilet. In addition a thunderstorm crashed my houses power supply two nights ago while I was crouching on the commode, racked with bowel cramps. An almost simultaneous flash bang later and the house went dark.

Every last mains fuse in the house got blown and needed replacing. Have you ever tried fixing old fashioned wire fuses with wife anxiously standing over shoulder, kids whinging about “Why won’t my playstation work?” dog fussing back and forth because he’s been frightened, and my guts threatening to do a dump every two to three minutes. In the end I just grabbed the torch, fuses and fusewire before decamping into the bathroom and locking the door behind me; returning to the squatting position I had quit before the near miss. Fuses got fixed; I drank a lot of fluids and lost a lot if you catch my drift. By the time midnight drifted around I was feeling too woozy with the loss of electrolytes to look at anything more complicated than sticking the colour coded blocks back into the correct holes. Power restored I flaked out on the bedroom floor. Pity I’ve been on two days leave, but there you go.

It’s taken me until tonight to get everything computer related up and running again. A UPS would be nice protection, but my budget doesn’t run to one.

Back in uniform in the morning. Life, don’t talk to me about life.

Monday, July 24, 2006

 

Happens every day

One of the things I increasingly find happening to me is being used as a mobile information / tourist information centre by the general public. Must be something to do with being mostly the only uniformed street presence apart from the Salvation Army.

You do get asked some daft questions though. The classic has to be one chap asking me where a famous chain store was while we were both standing outside the main entrance.
“Hey mate. Where’s Debenhams?”
“Main entrance ten paces that way sir.” Says I. I swear he’d been staring at the lingerie clad mannequin in the window for a good five minutes before he’d got round to asking me. He had the good grace to look mildly embarrassed before laughing at his error and patting me on the shoulder.

You get asked questions ranging from “What time is it?” to some quite obscure ones like this one from today; I was approached by three nineteen year old lads with ‘excuse me’ looks on their faces. The ringleader pitched in with; “There’s this shop right, that sells those things, you know, tingly things that ring and do all sorts of, you know. Do you know where it is?”
“Joke shop sir?” I jumped in with my own translation of this jumbled interrogative.
“Yeah, right.” Beamed the eternally confused personage as though having experienced his own moment of sudden enlightenment. His friends nodding enthusiastically in agreement.
“Depends what you’re after. They stopped selling those handshake gags last year. One of our lads was a keen customer.” I responded. The bastard. “They shut down last summer.” Their faces fall. “Mind you, there’s another place that might do what you’re after…..” I reel off the directions and send them on their way looking a little happier.

Historically, other supplicants at the oracle have included slightly embarrassed people asking me in hushed voices where the nearest Anne Summers store is (Trust me, I know where it is and can give directions although I’ve never bought anything there myself - honestly). Then there’s the old chestnut of what time the last bus / train leaves town; when do the pubs open, where is the nearest public toilet. Questions delivered in English that is not so much broken as terminally shattered. Sign language helps here. Never mind about the near continual questions about parking restrictions half way across on the other side of town based on only the sketchiest description of the location.

This is without having to stand there and listen to the litany of complaints about what the Council should and should not be doing. As if that was within my power. “I just deal with the parking restrictions sir / madam. You need to talk to someone in planning / social services / environmental services.” Is my stock response and I direct them to the Council offices where they can make some other poor bugger earn their salary.

Well, it does make a change from being shouted at just after you’ve booked someone. The sun is shining and it's been a fairly quiet Monday.

Sunday, July 23, 2006

 

Update on last Sundays post.

Regarding my remarks about CO2 exhalation on Sunday. I got an e-mail from Rick Ansell with a number of interesting links, not least of which is this one about a suggested method of combating climate change.

Ignore all the ‘Space shield’ stuff (Although it’s very interesting) and have a look at the climate information posted on this thread (There’s a couple of hours worth of in depth reading). Some of the guys on this forum appear to be intellectual heavy hitters, and the data they quote tells us a hell of a lot about the scale of the increase in global temperatures from a historical perspective. Incidentally, did anyone realise that our sun is not something which chucks out the same amount of energy, year after year? Ice Age next anyone? (Although wasn’t that the big scare story of the 1960’s and 70’s? Seems like scary news is perennially as popular as ‘slasher’ movies are with teenagers.)

One thing irks me about this debate. I like facts, plain and simple, unvarnished by opinion. For example; the yellow line and restriction signs are there, ergo you may not park on them between the stated times. It’s not political, it’s a restriction put there because other people (Residents, Emergency services etc.) wanted it. It’s the same as climate change is nothing to do with George Bush, Tony Blair, Vladimir Putin, Bill Clinton, John Major, Boris Yeltsin, Mikhail Gorbachev, Ronald Reagan, Margaret Thatcher, Jimmy Carter, Yuri Andropov, James Callaghan, Richard Nixon, Leonid Breznev, Edward Heath, Lyndon Johnson, Harold Wilson, Nikita Kruschev and all the major western political figures of the past four hundred years, and not all the political ‘playground finger pointing’ will make it so. Overpopulation is everybody’s concern, as I tried to point out with my gentle arithmetical mockery last Sunday Evening. 12 billion tonnes of atmospheric carbon produced by human activity without any fossil fuel burning is no drop in the pond, and incidentally, we know too little about the mechanisms of our planets biosphere to make sweeping assertions that all of the CO2 thus produced is reabsorbed just because it is done by living creatures and not machines. The arguments and data models are just not accurate enough to make these assertions; see the debunking of the ‘exponential’ rise in global temperatures generated by anthropocentric (Human) behaviour using Manns ‘Hockey stick’ model via this Canadian web site.

Personally, I think it helps to look at it from a macrocosmic point of view. Working from local ground level I am a six foot plus tall human biped. At close quarters I may look large and imposing (Especially so if I am annoyed or booking your vehicle) to other human scale bipeds. Put in context of any Street, I am visible and have an effect upon my surroundings. Put in context of my home town, I am miniscule although my impact can be observable (If you know what to look for). Put in context of my county, I am invisible, but may still have a minor effect if I try hard enough. Put in context of my country (England) I am generally invisible, but via the Internet I can make my ‘voice’ heard to those who are ‘listening’ world wide. Off the Internet, any ‘influence’ my voice may have is non existent. If I, or a million like me, died today, the biosphere of this planet would not even register that fact, apart from the neighbours complaining about a million untidily dead bodies clogging up the streets.

Our Solar Systems Sun however is a bloody great flaming ball of nuclear reactions approximately just over a million miles in diameter about ninety three million miles away from the small blue green planet I am fortunate to exist upon. Even the slightest hiccup (Solar flares, sunspots etc.) has a massive knock on effect. Radio interference, increased planetary temperatures, reduced planetary temperatures and all that jazz. Anything I, or a million more like me might do to the biosphere is infinitesimal compared to the difference to the energy levels kicked out by the sun. Even a moderate volcanic eruption puts more particulate matter and poisonous gas into the atmosphere that I or a million like me could ever do.

As an adaptive organism there may be nothing I can do about the increase in global temperatures and their knock on effects short of organising a mass depopulation of my planet (And even that comes with its own pile of troubles – all those dead bodies rotting away aerobically – Yuk!). I prefer adaptation to extinction. Too sunny – hats and light clothing are good, as is growing larger plants to shade more vulnerable crops. Too cold and wet – wrap up warm and grow stuff under cover. Volcano – move house in good time.

We’re humans. Homo Sapiens (Or Pan Narrans if you believe these guys) We didn’t get to the top of the food chain by giving up things; we got there by adapting and improvising (Some would say by cheating but they’re just jealous). That my friends, is exactly what I am going to do. Fluctuations in the biosphere notwithstanding; whatever their cause. My new brolly doubles as a handy dandy sun shade too.

Mind you, I’m pretty sceptical what the politicians say on this subject. Matthew Parris in the Times has quite effectively shot down Gordon Browns false statements about ‘standby’ mode on electrical appliances and their effect on the biosphere. El Gordo is alleged to have claimed it puts electricity usage up by 10%, but now seems to be disavowing all knowledge of this dubious figure. If he ever gets to take over the Presidency of the UK – sorry becomes Prime Minister, my feeling is he’ll be just as bad as old Phoney Tony at trotting out bullshit, possibly worse.

Saturday, July 22, 2006

 

New boots and panties

It being my day off, I’ve been out shopping with my wife. Apart from other adventures, I’ve been stuck in a pitch dark changing room when the lights went out mid thunderstorm (I was trying on a new shirt and chinos at the time), got soaked to the skin leaving the store in the pouring rain to buy my wife a suitable brolly. I didn’t mind, the warm rain reminded me of a little escapade in Canada a few years back, and the subsequently giggle filled drying off in our motel room (For all you young ‘uns, Sex does not stop after you’re forty. If anything it gets better if you want to put the effort in.).

I’ve just had a nice lazy day. Found an unspent book token and bought a few titles. Particularly taken by Glen Duncan’s ‘I Lucifer’. Excellent writing and a kind of relentless first person narrative that drags you from page to page. According to a quick web search, there’s a movie in production, which if it is anything as entertaining as the book should be worth a laugh or two. Ewan McGregor and Daniel Craig are listed as the stars and Daniel Harris as the Director.

Today has been a bit of a red letter day because I’ve just got a mention in the Daily Telegraph which I’m quite chuffed about. Even though I’m off duty and I’ve got nothing really to post about apart from the effects of a thunderstorm and getting soaked in the rain, I’m feeling pretty darn pleased. Of course all this warm cuddly feeling will go straight down the toilet on Sunday when I’m back at work, but what the hell, you have to make the best of what you’ve got when you’ve got it.

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

 

Breakfast and tea for me

Fourth day back after very pleasant holidays and it already seems a million years ago. Too bloody hot on town centre beat for one thing. I ended up pouring cold (ish) water over my neck in an attempt to keep my body temperature down every time I went for a ‘comfort break’ which was about five times before lunch. Six if you count tea break, but it’s been so swelteringly uncomfortable. We’re short handed too, as about four of the guys are still suffering from yesterdays heat and are still pretty much hors de combat.

Notwithstanding, the past few days have been pretty difficult to cope with, but at least we’ve been excused from wearing our uniform ties. Our uniform hats, which have to be worn while booking, rapidly become so uncomfortable that we can’t wear them for more than half an hour at a stretch. I think it’s the stuff they are made out of, which although it may keep the rain off, performs the function of a microwave oven on your head in temperatures like those we are experiencing. My brains get overheated enough without any assistance from sweaty headgear.

Nature note; even the birds appear to have stopped singing in the full heat of the day. Normally you hear the chirping of sparrows etc as you pass by some of the greener parts of a beat, but for the past few days an almost uncanny silence has reigned. Just the odd flutter within the bushes as the denizens contest a cooler perch. Nothing of what you might call birdsong though.

Because of the heat and humidity I’ve stopped having anything to eat at lunchtime. Even in the evening anything more than a light salad is too taxing on the system, so in order to have sufficient calories to make it through the day, breakfast has taken on a new importance. I’ve been getting up half an hour earlier just to prepare a tasty repast without it being too heavy. For example, this morning I sat in the garden (The Gazebo is up) with Mrs Sticker and dined on;

Celery sticks stuffed with Brie and Goats cheese
Black olive hummus dip
Cold Black Olive and Chorizo kebabs
Cold Kabanos and sweet red pepper kebabs
Strawberries and fromage frais as a dip
Coffee
Iced water

This kept me going until around five when hunger pangs started to make their presence felt, so I dropped by a coffee shop after my shift end and treated myself to a small latte with extra caffeine to bridge the gap until supper, which was scrambled eggs and some cheap smoked salmon accompanied by oatmeal crackers. Glass of wine, write blog, work on novel, walk dog, bed and sleep is tonights plan.

My Dad always brought me up to believe that breakfast was the most important meal of the day. Skip it and the resultant dip in your blood sugar really mucks you around. Experience has taught me that this is very true. Every time I’ve tried to go without I’ve gotten really cranky and bad tempered, it’s been difficult to concentrate and my normal sunny disposition has dropped down a black hole, with predictable knock on effects. Ergo, breakfast gets special treatment, and just scarfing down a bowl of cereal and milk just won’t cut it. It helps that I’m an early morning kind of person anyway.

Tomorrow will be similar, but I’ve managed to blag some cheapish Ardennes pâté which will be stuffed into some celery sticks for a change of flavour. In keeping with my diet, anything with a high carbohydrate count is definitely off the menu. Bread, pasta, cereals, rice, cakes, sugar, all that stuff is a dietary no-no. It seems to be working as my waistline is definitely receding. At this rate I’ll need a new uniform issue by the end of August.

The weather forecast promises rain and thunder tonight and temperatures almost ten Celsius lower than they have been by tomorrow. Next time there’s a heat wave I want to be in a nice big cool server room with the aircon cranked up on full. Maybe one of those big data centres might have a job for a mature IT Engineer down on his luck. Knowing my luck - probably not.

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

 

I’m melting! I’m Melteennnggggg!!!!!

Today has been a fruitless search for somewhere cool to hang out. The mess room, which is little better than a concrete box, has been a windowless cell block in a neglected part of Hades. Even the ‘fridge’ as one of the car park basements is popularly known has been converted into a humid airless anteroom to hell by the warm weather and still air. No escape there.

No matter where you go it’s 40 Celsius plus (Over 104º Fahrenheit )and my skin is ‘luxuriating’. I perspire therefore I am. The summer sun has been for want of a better term, relentless.

Around three I sought respite in the municipal park, sauntering along in the shade of a row of chestnut trees while ostensibly patrolling the car park and watching herds of foolishly exposed frying flab decorating the rapidly drying greensward. I ran into Charley who had exactly the same idea. Sod the beat system, today of all days. Let Management complain, they have air conditioning in their offices.
“You all right Bill?”
“Nope. Too bloody hot.”
“Get out there. Top up yer tan mate.”
“That reminds me, we’re out of sunblock.”
“Tony’s gone off sick, and Pete. Oh yeah, I heard Asif’s not feeling too well.”
“What with?”
“Heatstroke. Sunstroke. Headaches.”
“I feel like joining them.”
“Me too. What’s it been like in the town centre?”
“Nothing much. They run like startled rabbits the second I turn up.”
“Yeah, me too.” We stare out from the shade into the sun parched parkland with all the sunbathers, gently shaking our heads at the folly of it all.

At this point the Radio crackles into life. “591 calling control.”
“Hello 591.”
“I’m not feeling too good, any chance of a pick up?”
“Negative 591, can you make it back on your own?”
“He’ll be lucky.” Charley commented. “Silly sods been flogging himself to death in this heat.”
“Yeah, but the new guys have to learn for themselves. They don’t listen to us veterans.” I reply. We exchange shrugs.
“591 to control. I’ve had it. It’s too hot.” You can hear that the guy is suffering. He’s only been out on his own for two days and doesn’t understand that it’s only a job. Daft wassuck.
“Control to 591. Location please.”
“Corner of High Street and Long Avenue.”
“You can walk from there.” You can hear Control almost gloating, sadistic bastard. If he wasn’t a mile away I’d be heading to 591 to give him a hand to get back to base myself. You have to look after your mates in this game; experience teaches you that no other sod will.
“591 to control, that’s negative, repeat negative.”
“Oh for fucks sake.” Charley complains.
“On our way.” About time. Bloody wind up merchant.

Our conversation resumes as the radio lapses into silence, but we’re both silently cursing Control. A lot of the time you feel you’re out there on your own, and their attitude doesn’t help.
“So what brings you here?”
“Trying to get out of the heat.”
“Great day for a barbeque.”
“Do you think anyone would notice if we skived off to the pub?”
“What, in uniform?”
“Don’t be daft.”
“With my luck we’d run into management.”
“Yeah. CCTV’s quiet.”
“Maybe they’re suffering too. Those monitors kick off a lot of heat.”
“Nah. They’ve got air con, lucky bastards.”
“Who else is on today?”
“Della, Mike, Cob and Riz are on middle shift. The night crew should start in a while.”
“I’d rather be on nights in this weather.”
“I’d rather be on leave.”
“You’ve just been on leave, you skiving bugger.”
“This is a problem because?” We both laugh.
“What would you be doing right now if you wanted to cool off?”
“Swimming.”
“I feel like walking into the municipal boating lake and sitting down in the middle. Just to cool off.”
“In full uniform?”
“Why not?”
“Your missus would kill you if you came home covered in the shit that gets dumped in there.”
“At the moment death holds no fear for me on that score. Besides, who’d cook for her?”
“Yeah, right.”
“Besides, I can run faster than she can.”
”Right.”
”Time to move on, or they’ll wonder what I’m up to. I’ve been logged on to this location for over half an hour.”
”Wouldn’t bother if I were you, it’s like a bloody graveyard out there.”
”Knowing management, they’re in CCTV right now, watching for us.”
”Don’t worry about it. We’re out of sight of the cameras here. Garden services should have cut back those trees over there but they didn’t.”
”Good job the local scrotes don’t know that.”
”True.”

Our conversation drifted on until four. I did a desultory meander around the few cars parked near the municipal boating lake, just to show willing. It’s a Tuesday and deserted, just like most term time Tuesdays. The only motion was the occasional movement out on the field of frying juvenile flesh in the park. The kids who had just finished their exams were making the most of their free time by doing their ever pinker impersonation of a Seal haulout. A few senior school age kids tried to play football, but were quickly defeated by the Mediterranean temperatures. Some of the more sexually advanced mid teenage girls have already bred and were fanning their overheating offspring in the sparse shade of the municipal trees.

Legends will be told about this summer, like Sixty Nine, Seventy Six and Two Thousand and Three. The heat, the parties, the girls, the sunburn. Today, the hottest day of the year so far? So long as I can have a cool shower after work I’m okay with it.

Monday, July 17, 2006

 

Humphreys ghost

There's a blog called 'The Ghost of Humphrey the Cat', ostensibly written (Ghosted) by the ex champion mouser of No 10 Downing Street before he was put out to grass and died (Or would that be put out to the litter tray?). There are dark tales being circulated about his demise and the Blairs role in it, but these may be libellous, so I'm not going to repeat them, at least until I have some proof.

Suffice it to say, he's a regular poster over at Guido Fawkes's blog. Imagine my surprise when one of the Westminster PA's E-mailed me this photograph snapped late one afternoon.

A cat that blogs? Well why not? Everyone else seems to be doing it.
 

Too damned hot

It has been almost intolerably hot on patrol today. Fortunately my beat was the leafy suburbs with lots of limited waiting and plenty of opportunities to duck into the shade. Drank a hell of a lot of water and even returned to base twice for extra supplies. I reek of sweat and the moment I have posted this am off for a nice long cool shower. Before that, I have a little announcement and a request;

A cartoonist is required

I may have a job for anyone who is interested; I’ve decided to do a ‘Book of the blog’ and I’m looking for an illustrator / cartoonist / caricaturist (Professional or Amateur, makes no difference) with a similar backhanded slant on the world to my own. This is because whilst I can write mildly humorous prose, I cannot draw for toffee, or any other confection you might care to think of.

The book of ‘Walking the Streets’ is going to be based on, but not a repetition of this weblog. A lot of material that has been written never actually gets onto the web as it’s a bit too ‘sensitive’ and contains details that might give me away to management. Not that any of my managers have ever given out a clue that they read my rabid ravings, but it pays to be careful. Although I’m pretty sure that my blog is screened out by our County wide firewall. Slipping the odd ‘Fuck’ into the text helps.

If interested, send me an amusing cartoon (That is one of yours – Your drawing, your copyright etc.) on the theme of an English Traffic Warden being sprayed by a passing vehicle (Or similar) via my E-mail address as on the sidebar. Try to keep attachment file sizes down to 1Mb. Clean lines and uncluttered backgrounds are preferred, but this rule may be set aside if the work is good (Or funny) enough. I will post anything (With the artists written permission of course) that tickles my fancy, and if I can’t make up my mind (Like that’s going to happen) may put it to a popular vote.

Now I can’t promise that the book will be a best seller or anything; that’s half the gamble, but it will get any collaborators name (With luck) into print and an extra tick on the old CV. Thanks in advance for any submissions.

New links going on the sidebar;
Caramaena
Vote Franco

Sunday, July 16, 2006

 

Based on the following figures….we’re all doomed!

I was reading Tim Worstall’s blog this evening (As is my wont after my first full day on shift) and read the following article about the human contribution to global carbon dioxide levels. Not being a person who takes everything at face value, I thought I’d do a little arithmetic of my own.

Average human vital capacity (not volume) is I am informed, around 5.8 litres. Lets say the average adult human breathes at rest 16 per minute at around 0.5 litres per breath (Tidal volume) multiplied by the approximate world population of 6.6 billion (And counting) multiplied by 60 minutes in an hour, and twenty four hours in a day; multiplied by 365 days in a year. So; over a year, 6.6 billion people take on average 8,409,600 breaths each, which makes approximately 27,751,680,000,000,000 litres of air exhaled (I think). This is just a simplification you understand based on the premise that an adults expiration rate works out the same volume as a child or juvenile, whose respiration rates are much faster and vital capacities smaller.

According to reputable sources around 4% of human exhalation on average is CO2. This means we as a species exhale (On Average) 1,110,067,200,000,000 litres of CO2 per year directly attributable to a single human activity, to wit; breathing.

1,110,067,200,000,000 litres divided by 1000 gives us 1,110,067,200,000 cubic metres. Each cubic litre (1000 litres) of gaseous carbon dioxide at atmospheric pressure weighs around 1.98kg. Two thirds of which is oxygen and one third carbon. So multiply 1,110,067,200,000 cubic metres by 1.98, which will give us a figure 0f 21,979,330,560 tonnes of gaseous CO2. Just over a third of which is carbon. Based on this estimate, approximately 8 billion tonnes of carbon expelled into the atmosphere is directly attributable to one single human activity in a year. This does not include people running, jumping and shouting at Traffic Wardens. Nor does this figure include the CO2 and methane generated from one or the other end of the alimentary canal (Known as belching and farting). The actual figure is probably much higher because we as a species are only ‘At rest’ (With certain notable exceptions like hard core soap opera fans) for six to eight hours a day.

By comparison, emissions from other human activities worldwide (Fossil fuel burning etc.) were (1994 Pre Kyoto) estimated at 8+ billion tonnes of carbon. With all this breathing, belching, farting and shouting and running about, the total is probably closer to 12 billion metric tonnes of atmospheric carbon. Don’t even ask me about the contribution by livestock and wild animals. That’s probably another ten billion tonnes without so much as blinking. Add half as much again if a wildlife photographer who has farted at the wrong moment spooks them. Huge herds of Gnu’s in Africa are probably doing as much damage to the biosphere as all the pickup trucks in the USA and Canada combined with all China’s manufacturing output.

If this truly is the cause of the rise of global temperatures, and not simply a periodic increase in solar activity, you may quite justifiably ask how can we help? How can we reduce this awful toll on our precious blue green planet? My view is that every little helps. You can help by being calm. By planting trees and other plants to help ‘lock up’ atmospheric carbon. By not getting upset and raising your voices. By not exerting yourselves making angry gestures and empty threats, thus increasing your CO2 output and stress levels. Not shouting at me for example after I’ve caught you on double yellows might help. Just calm down and think of the planet that you’re saving. At least until I’m out of earshot.

P.S. According to some sources, it was even hotter back in Roman times than it is now. Being an adaptable person I have just planted some grape vines and a new fig tree in my garden, just in case. God bless, goodnight, and don’t forget your sunscreen.

Thursday, July 13, 2006

 

What if...



Stopped off at relatives this morning. It being mildly damp and not a day for the beach I have been allowed to play with their photo processing software while the womenfolk went shopping.

In the wake of Lord Levy being nicked and bailed, isn't it just a matter of time before we see higher heads start to tumble?

Just a thought.

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

 

Latest news on Parking Enforcement

I’m sitting here in an English West Country Cybercafe writing this entry. I didn’t start off today meaning to spend over an hour doing this, but I have to get it off my hairy chest. I have been allowed just over an hour until Mrs Sticker returns to hoik me off to the beach for a mandatory paddle followed by a nice pub lunch. O tempera! o mores!

Todays little diatribe is based on – yes I know I shouldn’t have done it, watching the half witted nonsense that passes for news on the BBC this morning. How come a ‘news’ organisation can be fed facts, then regurgitate such utter crap? Is there some kind of reality warp in their heads or something? There is no ‘Parking War against Motorists’, it’s a myth, a fallacy. There however is an ongoing battle against the inconsiderate and stupid who insist on treating the law as something they only pay attention to when they can be arsed to do so (Although this is not often); against the ‘Motorist’ – no. If it was a war, we’d be armed better. Got that?

I write of course about the presentation of the governments new guidelines for Parking Enforcement. Something which regular readers of this blog know that I do for a living. I enforce the law pertaining to the local parking regulations. Now remember these words; the Government is issuing new ‘guidelines’ to local authorities. The law has not essentially changed. All else is spin. This is the real stuff from the shop floor folks, not some fairy tale version. Let me spell it out.

On double yellow lines you may not stop except to set down and pick up passengers. Loading and unloading (So long as such activity is observed) is allowed for up to twenty minutes. If loading restrictions are in force, there is no ‘Grace period’ of five minutes observation (Not ten, five. No matter what it says on the telly and your disabled badge is invalid too). The five minute observation time only exists to prove or disprove loading on an active restriction – nothing else. Loading and unloading only applies where the goods being loaded are commercial in nature. This means leaving your bright shiny tin box on double yellows and popping over to the nearest hole in the wall for some pennies does not qualify. Nor do bags of shopping qualify. Mister White van man dropping off or picking up packages is loading. Is that simple enough? Thank you.

Stopping in a bus stop for anyone apart from a Service bus is a big no-no. Loading or not. Likewise taxi ranks (Although we can’t do anything about these – only a Proper Copper or CSO can do these at present – If they want to.). No observation time is necessary.

The appeal / challenge process should be printed on the back of the ticket. Ours already are. No need for any change there. Your ticket will get booted into touch by NPAS if procedures haven’t been followed properly anyway. Mind you, you do have to make the challenge in the first place, no one is going to do it for you.

As for clamping – we don’t do it round here. Twenty minutes over sounds a bit harsh to me, but this will not change this year (2006). In fact none of it will change until next year (2007) when the plan is (Remember that, this is what is ‘planned’, not what will actually happen) to change us all into ‘Civil Enforcement Officers’ where our remit will be broadened to include other things as well as parking. However, don’t take this as gospel, look what happens to a lot of other government plans. Snigger.

See, just the same as always. As for training, we are already specially trained to do our job. You spend a week in the classroom learning the basics, and another month or two ‘buddied up’ with a more experienced officer to learn the anomalies of the various beats you cover before you’re allowed out on your own. Only some of the people like APCOA are reputed to cut corners on training. Love ‘em or hate ‘em, our particular local authority does not cut those corners.

My take on the whole matter is a little biblical, á la ten commandments. For example; ‘Thou shalt not steal’ for example is not conditional, neither is ‘thou shalt not park thy fancy fat Ass where it inconveniences others’.

Ah, rant over. Mrs Sticker has just hove into view and I’m supposed to be on holiday. Byee.

Sunday, July 09, 2006

 

Kulcher

“Right Bill, you’re spending too much time behind that keyboard - we’re going out.” Ordered Mrs Sticker. Perhaps she’s right. I’ve been going out to work for eight hours, coming home, cooking and then spending another two or three hours hammering away at this lonely keyboard working on my novel and a couple of other projects as well as the blog before going to bed.

I’ve had a few e-mails asking why so few posts and this is my excuse; I’ve been going out and getting a life after work. Or else. The past week has been spent on leave visiting some of the cultural highlights of this fair land. By order of my dear lady wife.

Yesterday was spent in the cultural capital of the UK, sunny (Hah!) Stratford upon Avon. Nice place; chock full of foreign tourists and high prices. Also for some obscure reason suffering from a plague of Morris Dancers. The sound of accordions (Why does it sound like they’re all trying to play the ‘Padstow 'Obby 'oss’ AKA the folk tune ‘Mrs Widgery’s Lodger’?), sparks flying off clogs, the clash of staves frightening small children with lots of whooping that would not sound out of place coming from an audience on the Jerry Springer Show. Two groups were performing wearing blackened faces with huge bunches of flowers and pheasant feathers adorning their hats. “Are they the Special Forces Morris? Look dear, they’re wearing camouflage.” I mused aloud before my wife elbowed me firmly in the ribs for my irreverence.

Within the confines of a place called Waterside in front of the Theatre this Saturday afternoon I counted no less than four groups of competing dancers waving sticks, hankies, legs and arms around. It was amazing how no one was struck and rendered insensible. Shouldn’t Stratford’s Police have been arresting them for carrying offensive weapons like those vicious handkerchiefs? No wonder the country’s going to the dogs. In every other country I have visited, they too have their colourful ethnic folk ways, but only England allows offensive weapons when dancing. I’m told this stems from a form of fertility ritual. Perhaps it is the young men showing off their athletic prowess, well formed calf muscles and ability to lightly stun an opponent with a purloined cricket stump at Whitsuntide? I’m told codpieces were once allowed, but were declared immodest in Victorian times. Hi ho, chaq’un a son gout (Each to their own appetite).

Visited Shakespeares birthplace and did one of those rather good bus tours in a red open topped double decker bus before sudden afternoon showers had us heading for the lower deck. We called it a day around four and headed home via Stratfords oddly placed ‘Park and Ride’ facility, laden with gifts to frighten stepkids into being good. Not that we’ve had any success so far. Off to the seaside tomorrow to paddle in the surf for a few days and ease my poor achin’ feet. TTFN.
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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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