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Saturday, September 30, 2006

 

Cutting the mustard

Well I proved to myself I can still do it. My three user home network stripped down and reconfigured for wireless in just over six working hours (And cooking a full meal for four at the same time). This includes conversion of Windows 2000 server from domain controller to file server. Reconfig of three laptops and one desktop (One XP laptop, two 2000 laptops and a 2000 desktop). Firewalls, service packs, anti virus the works. DHCP, DNS, all the business. All data was successfully restored from backup whilst busy sipping from a large bottle of Tiger Lager.

Not that I’m telling the kids, they’ve been extremely poorly behaved today and they can bloody well wait for their new wireless Internet access. Me and Mrs Sticker just ain’t a-gonna tell them it’s all ready to rock. Evil snigger.
 

Another comment on speed cameras

Just been spending a sleep disturbed night (Noisy bloody kids! Fortunately I’m on my days off starting tomorrow) reading the road traffic accident statistics from the department of transport; when the politicians and pressure groups scream that speed cameras are ‘necessary’ and must stay, please read the documentation for yourself. Yes, the good news is that road traffic accident casualties are down.

The cause (From my reading at least) appears to be quite self evident. Drink driving is way down and no longer as socially acceptable as it once was. Repeated Police purges on unsafe vehicles seem to be having a positive effect on the figures too. Better safety technology in vehicles. Better tyres and brakes. Better and more stringent MOT testing. By the look of the figures, Speed cameras have only had a marginal effect.

Don’t take my word for it; read them for yourselves.

Friday, September 29, 2006

 

More light blogging

Maison Sticker is beset with the most awful plague known to man or beast. Like a swarm of locusts they have descended and devastated the contents of the fridge and anything else remotely edible (Even Pot Noodles!) then disappeared like the desert wind. Now they return like a dark cloud on my horizon.

Eldest is paying us a flying visit from University with several friends and it is Youngests birthday. She has all of her college class round, and I have been forbidden to murder any of them, no matter how cross I get with the screeching bacchanal. Therefore I am electing to hide under my desk wearing my largest headphones and rapidly depleting the contents of a very large bottle of wine. The dog has just joined me and has put his paws over his ears. Mrs Sticker has just looked round the door and if my lip reading serves me well, she has just called us a “right pair of wussies”.

It’s hell out there I tell you.

UPDATE:
Just got this from the comments in Tom Reynolds Blog. "Preparing for Emergencies." Guffaw.
 

A little more about Speed Cameras

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again; most speed cameras are in the wrong place. They should be in towns and near schools and hospitals where the higher densities of traffic mean an increased risk.

The 32% of incidents caused by inattentiveness? A fifth to drink driving? 5% to excessive speed? I hate to sound smug but I tole ‘em, I tole ‘em! Hands up the cistern and damn your torpedo rolls!

Most drivers I ticket just aren’t paying attention. Their focus is all over the damn place and it amazes me how they can get out of bed in the morning without suffering serious self inflicted injuries. A lot of these people have better jobs / driver nicer cars / have bigger houses than so many of us – which raises the question; How come? Not being the cleverest of mortals; I’ve always wondered how said people breeze through life leaving chaos in their wake. Maybe it’s a talent. I don’t know. I’ll choose to look on the bright side. It keeps me in a job.

One thought; if the revenue from Speed Cameras goes towards the Constabulary. How come we don’t see so many foot patrols?

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

 

Here doggie!

One of the little good deeds it comes my way to do every so often happened today. Out in the leafy suburbs a man in his late 70’s or early 80’s tottered across the road and hailed me thus;
“Excuse me Officer! Can you help?” I’m being mistaken for a PCSO again.
“If I can sir, what’s up?”
“You’re one of the Community support people, yes?”
“No sir, I just do parking, but I’ll help if I can.” Why not?
“Have you seen my dog?”
“What type sir?” I’d actually seen a Fox Terrier chasing down the next street over less than ten minutes before.
“Fox terrier, White with Tan markings, she’s a Jack Russell Cross.” Aha.
“Tartan collar?”
“Yes, you saw her then. She’s only a year or so old and I’ve not trained her yet.” He’s very upset and by the look of him a little desperate.
“She come to whistle?”
“No, but she’s ever so friendly. Answers to the name of Holly.”
“Okay sir, I’ll do what I can.” So I spent fifteen minutes ambling round the block to see if his lost dog could be spotted. Spoke to a few workmen around the back of the Working Mens club who said they’d seen her and were good enough to check the yard for me. Had a further scan around the streets but saw nothing. Spoke to a few dog walkers just to pass the time of day to see if there was any sign, but nothing there so I moved on.

Half an hour later a guy on a bicycle hailed me and said he was the old chaps son. “Hello, did you speak to my Father about his dog?”
“Er yes sir, Fox Terrier with a Tartan collar, answers to the name of Holly, yes?”
“That’s right, he’s not had her long. His last dog died a short while ago.”

Well I’m a dog owner myself, and the old boy probably needs the companionship of a dog to keep him going. For whatever people think of me in this Uniform, I’m buggered if I’ll be a stereotype sourpuss. “You’ll have to drop round the Police Station just in case she’s been handed in, but I’ll try calling it in myself.” So I did. Not that I was greeted with enthusiasm by CCTV (I swear, one day when I’ve ditched this Uniform for good I’ll name names, times, dates and bloody places and let the Councillors know exactly what kind of CCTV cover the Council tax payers money is going on.)
“Hello, you busy?” I thought I’d test the water before I said anything else.
“Depends.” Oh goody gumdrops, it’s Mister Grumpy.
“Lost dog in Caldwell Street area.”
“Yeah right. Have you reported it into the local Police Station?” Sorry chap; thought that’s what you were for. I shrugged at the guy on the bicycle who gave me a sympathetic look as he heard CCTV’s answer.
“Okay, I’ll pass that on. Bye.” No point wasting time with them. “You’ll have to drop in to the local Police Station.” I said apologetically.
“Thanks anyway.” He said and we went our separate ways.

This afternoon I meant to pass through the streets in that area just to see if the old chaps dog was back, but with one thing and another never made it. However, shortly after four I had just turned a corner when somebody rang their bicycle bell at me. I did a double take and was pleasantly surprised to see the old mans son pull up on his bicycle.
“Hello there. Thanks for trying to help earlier on.”
“That’s okay sir, any luck?”
“Yes, good news, she’s turned up half a mile away trying to get into the Cinema. I dropped in at the Police Station and the Cinema had phoned in to say she was there. Their Security Guard brought her back.”
“I’m really happy to hear that. Hate to think of someone like your dad losing his companion. Life can get awfully lonely in your old age.” That’s nice.
“Yes, just thought I’d let you know.”
“That’s good.”
“Just thought I’d say thanks for your help.”
“Much appreciated sir. Makes a nice change from my usual contact with the public.”
“I’ll bet. Bye.” He pedalled off with a grin.

We went our separate ways and I felt a little better about today. It made a nice change from just handing out Parking Tickets.

Update: Added to blogroll for services to free speech and bravery in the face of dogs with Ginger eyebrows; Inspector Gadget

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

 

Out of bay

To us it’s a code 86 ‘Parked beyond the bay markings’, to certain members of the public it’s an imposition, an impertinence of the highest order. In a crowded car park it cuts down on the spaces for everyone, and even in an uncrowded car park it’s still a pain and downright inconsiderate.

Today I got called ‘pedantic’ for slapping a ticket on a flash car whose owner was taking up two parking bays by parking his new dick-mobile smack dab centre over the white bay marking. Took my photo’s, made my notes, and even a disabled badge won’t get you off this one, matey. How the hell someone who is apparently disabled and cannot get a proper job can afford such a vehicle is beyond me. As far as I was concerned, it was a kosher booking.

Two minutes later I was summoned by the traditional outraged cry of the ticketed motorist thus; “Oy, you!” I suppose that means me. Went my weary subconscious. I turned to face a man in his fifties who seemed to be fully mobile, and judging from the volume of his voice, certainly did not suffer from any respiratory illness.
“What did you book me for? I’m disabled!”
“I take it that is your vehicle sir.” I nodded towards the brand new BMW 7 series he was angrily waving at.
“Yeah. What did you book me for? I’ve got a disabled badge!”
“Your vehicle is taking up two bays sir.”
“But I’m disabled!”
“That is no exemption sir. It is a requirement of this car park that you park within the bay markings. Says it quite clearly on the tariff board. There is no disabled exemption.”
“Car park’s not full. You can’t book me!” Really has got some good lungs this man. What is his disability?
“That’s not the point sir. You must park within the bay markings.”
“You’re just being pedantic!”
“That is a moot point sir.” Yes I really talk like this. “Disabled badge or not, the tariff board clearly states the rules of the car park.”
“What’s your name?” He demands.
“I am Officer 515 sir.”
“I want your name!”
“That’s all I am allowed, or wish, to tell you sir.” Damn! Missed the cue for ‘my name is for my friends’.
“You’re bloody pedantic you are! I’m reporting you.” Oh gawd, not another one. Here we go round the flaming mulberry bush, again.
“That is your privilege sir.” I’m not giving way pal. “The challenge procedure is on the back of the ticket as you feel that the ticket has been issued unfairly. Unfortunately, once it is issued, there is nothing more I am allowed to do.” So stick that in your pipe and smoke it.

He stomps off making repeated exhortations that include the word ‘pedantic’. I turn away and carry on patrolling. He’s right of course. Although I contest the ‘Trivial’ part of the definition. The ‘Park in bay’ rule does have a purpose; and in this case is firstly to make sure that the full tally of car park spaces are free for everyone, and secondly to deter flash gits from taking up two parking bays just because they are afraid of getting their paintwork scuffed.

If that’s pedantic, then I are a pedant.

Monday, September 25, 2006

 

Isn’t technology wonderful

Volvo shows off new its new ‘self parking’ prototype. Yerss, it looks like a wonderful idea, but I have my reservations. For example; will it buy your pay and display tickets for you, and ring your mobile phone fifteen minutes before it expires so you don’t give the Parking Enforcers writers cramp? No? Didn’t think so. Will it refuse to halt on a parking restriction even if you are the worst of cashpoint cripples? Nah.

Will the new Citroen C4 find you a free parking space even in central London? Could it run GPS checks on the location of all the Parking Enforcers in the area, thus giving you a chance to get your morning paper while you’re blocking a narrow street on double yellows? Still a prototype? Thought so. So shall it remain.

Looks like I’m still going to be in a job this time next year then.

Sunday, September 24, 2006

 

The great slavery debate

I’m a little pissed off hearing about continual calls from a minority for Britain to ‘apologise’ for its role in the African slave trade. What I’d like to hear from these miserable ingrates is a big ‘thank you’ to Britain to be one of the first nations to legislate against the slave trade (Slavery Abolition Act anyone?) and one of the lead fighters against it from the 1820’s onwards. The Royal Navy playing a lead part in the prosecution and capture of slavers on the high seas (Even if a few greasy politicians at home were still lining their pockets from this appalling state of affairs). I get even more annoyed when a committee headed by El blubberino Prescott is considering the issue of a ‘statement of regret’ or some such nonsense on March 25 2007.

Excuse me? Britain as a nation has paid in full for it’s previous role in the ‘Africa trade’. You might as well shout at modern day Italians for some of the excesses of Imperial Rome. The people responsible (And their victims) are long dead and buried. If the complainants can’t handle that then they should damn well go out and get a proper life instead of playing the ‘Victim’ card and trying to cadge cash off the already hard pressed UK Taxpayer. Better still; they should try taking legal action against the Arab nations who were the most active slavers, or the African tribal elders and chiefs who sold their own people in the first place. In fact, they might try doing something in modern day Mauritania, where slavery is still openly practiced.

Furthermore; said whingers can go and kiss the gravestones of William Wilberforce, Granville Sharp, William Smith and Thomas Fowell Buxton instead and offer up some prayers of gratitude for to these 'White oppressors' work as abolitionists. People who are descended from one time African slaves owe these men (Amongst many other Britons) a great deal.

Modern Britons like myself (Of whatever ethnic heritage) have nothing to do with the plight of the complainants ancestors, so why are we being held accountable?

Think about it; if you go far enough back in time everyones ancestors must have included some slaves. That’s history for you. This exercise all sounds like a lawyers money making scam to me, but then I’m an old dyed in the wool cynic. You get that way in my job.

Saturday, September 23, 2006

 

A confession

As Rhea from Rheas Ramblings has noted several times, I suffer from internal monologues. Like (I think) every other worker in a position where they have to deal with the prejudiced and hard of thinking. My mouth will say one thing whilst the little man in my head, or the real me, is screaming the complete opposite, or even something at a fundamental tangent to whatever conversation is happening in real time.

Today for example; I’ve just booked a rather flash looking, brand spanking new Audi A6. Dark metallic grey, S line leather / cloth interior with what looked like the 6 speed box and a 3.2 litre engine. Very nice. Now tastefully decorated with one of my carefully issued Penalty Charge Notices for using one of the Council car parks without paying for the privilege. Tight git. You’d think someone who can afford that kind of car would stump up a measly pound for an hours parking wouldn’t you? Everybody else in the car park has, and I waited a good ten minutes before issuing, so the old ‘I just went for change’ chestnut won’t hold much water in a challenge. I’m working my way down towards the end of the line when the owner returns, sports bag in hand, angrily waving the envelope for said PCN under my nose.

“Why have you given me this fucking thing!” Oo I love a quiz.
“Which vehicle is it from sir?” I look him coolly straight in the eyes.
“You know fucking well which it is you fucking flunkey!” Oo, what a nasty man. He called me a flunkey too. Must phone Mother tonight.
“May I see it sir?” Don’t you raise your hands to me pal. Drop off her groceries on the way home, what time is it? Only another hour to go.
“You can fucking have it!”
“So you think the ticket was issued incorrectly sir?” Eldest due back from Uni next weekend, not this one, must lay on some extra grub in the freezer.
“Yes I fucking well do! Take it back – Now!”
“Can’t do that sir, it’s been legally issued.” Is he going to kick off or is he all mouth and trousers? Looks like a rep to me. I’ll chance it.
“Well I don’t want it! Fucking well take it back!” Late thirties and with a temperament like this, he’s working his way towards his first heart attack.
“Can’t do that sir. However, there is a challenge procedure on the back of the ticket detailing how to appeal against what you feel is an unfairly issued Penalty Charge notice.” Got that all out in one breath, Bill, good control mate.
“I’ll report you!” Don’t forget to mention you called me a fucking flunkey. You dickless wonder.
“That’s alright sir. I’m officer 515, see, it’s on the ticket if you forget.”
“Are you making fun of me!” Why not?
“Certainly not sir.” You might think so, but I couldn’t possibly comment. Wonder if I should waste time writing it all down? I’m not filling out an incident report form or I’ll never get home on time tonight. Besides, his threat to report me is probably all bluster. A few lines in my pocket note book should suffice. How about; ‘driver was abusive and made a threat to ‘report’ me’. Yeah, that’ll do to cover my back. I’m not insulting the English language by recording his remarks on anything official.

With a final cry of frustration, he turns on his heel and stomps back to his car muttering vile imprecations and slanders against my person, while my thoughts are busy with more important things like my youngests up and coming seventeenth birthday. Less than an hour before end of shift.

Hi ho, another day, another Dollar.

Friday, September 22, 2006

 

A little trouble with the builders

Out in the leafy suburbs on a long stretch of limited waiting late this morning; I’m ambling along, sheltering from the light drizzle under the roadside trees when a well groomed lady in her Chelsea tractor pulls over next to me and bats her eyelashes at me. “Excuse me officer?”
“Yes madam, how can I help?”
“I’m a resident in Lowlands Avenue – do you know it?”
“Yes madam, I’m heading in that direction now.” Single yellow down both sides active Monday to Saturday. What’s up over there? No one’s ever been booked in that road that I’ve heard of. Oh well, first time for everything.
“Well there’re builders vans all over the place. Will you do something about it?” She smiles winsomely. This is nicer than I usually get spoken to. Maybe she’s been to Charm school? Whatever happened to ”do what I want – Now!”? Clean living must pay off.
“I’ll go over there right now and see what I can do, madam.”
“Thank you.” She drives off with a wave (Not two fingered – now that is odd.) and I take the next right which will lead me to the top end of Lowlands Avenue.

Previously, I’ve had several run ins with the residents of Lowlands, a very nice tree lined road with lots of big properties with big gardens, high gates and even higher hedges. Notwithstanding, over the last three years they’ve gotten used to the fact that they can’t just do what they like, no matter how much their houses are worth. We’ve got to the point where relationships are almost cordial between us plodders and the residents. A cordiality, I might add, which most resembles the armed truce between North and South Korea. Still, have to keep the natives on side.

When I arrive at the top of the road I can see at least six vans and pickups clogging the broad footway halfway down on the right. Heaps of bricks and sand outside a property obviously undergoing a serious revamp. I phone environmental and tell them what’s going on as there seems to be a lot of stuff just dumped any old how. They seem not to be surprised. At the top of the road a well to do Asian looking man waves me over from behind a tall iron gate. “Are you going to do something about that?” He demands angrily, indicating the row of vans from inside his gold tipped bars.
“Yes sir, just give me a few minutes and I’ll take care of them.”
“I shall complain to the Council!” Do that; right now I’m the best response you’ll get.
“Right sir, let me take care of them.”
“Do so!” He commands. I’m going, I’m going already. No pleasing some people.

I move towards the vans, hand held out, logging details in as I walk. With a bit of luck and the wind in the right direction I might not have to book anyone at all. All ahead bullshit factor nine. None of the vans loading doors are open and the drivers are all out on site somewhere. All six vehicles are liveried builders vehicles so protocol says I have to give them all twenty minutes observation apiece for loading, just in case they really are. Inside twelve minutes they are all fully logged in and the clock is ticking. They’ve all been there long enough for their engines to cool off. From an upstairs window there is an aggrieved “Oy!” as one of the errant parkers finally registers my presence. Took you long enough.

Just as I hear two pairs of running boots coming out to the roadside my mobile phone rings, it’s Control.
“515, is that you?”
“Yes Control, what can I do for you?”
“We’ve just had a complaint about builders vans in Lowlands Avenue. You’re on beat ‘J’ today aren’t you?”
“Oh yes.”
“Can you get over there as soon as you can and have a look?”
“Already there and booking Control.” I can’t help but sound a little smug.
“Well done. Call us if you need any help.” It’s actually rather nice when someone in authority sounds outmanoeuvred.

As I’ve been talking on the phone I’ve become aware of some hefty looking guys heading in my direction from the site. I look up and give them one of my humourless tight little smiles. “These your vans?”
“Er, yeah, we’re loading.”
“Looks like it.” I comment. “I’ll give you twenty minutes to finish loading.” I say, doing a quick neutral scan of their faces.
“Well I’m working out of my van.” Protests one bloke in a plaster smeared blue sweatshirt and jeans.
“If you want to stay on that single yellow, you’ll need a permit.” I tell him. I’m not here to get into any arguments, just let them know who’s boss. Out of the corner of my eye I catch a flash of the Environmental Services van at the top of the road. That was quick. Looks like he’s had a complaint logged as well. I hold out several Parking Office visitors cards. “Get in touch with these guys now and they’ll sort you out with the necessary permits.”
“Can I do it tomorrow?” Grins one older bloke who’s smoking a tortured looking roll up. He and I both know he’s trying it on.
“You can, but then I’d have to book you today.” I shrug, as if it’s no account. I’m in control and feeling comfortable, even though if these guys took it into their heads they could no doubt easily beat me to a pulp, but no one in their right mind wants to do that – it’s bad for business. Only one young lad at the back looks as though he might kick off, but he’s clearly outvoted by the older blokes who like a quiet life. Besides, heroes like him don’t like one to one. They’ll only start anything when they have at least three to one superiority. “All right?” I say. There’s a bit of grumbling and the odd muttered imprecation about my parentage, but all six vans are cleared off the restriction in less than two minutes. They even start clearing the sand and stuff they’ve dumped off the footway. I delete their vehicle details off my hand held computer and note down why in my notebook. Restriction cleared. Job done.

Another three minutes later I’m at the bottom of the road and the Environmental Services Van pulls over. “Hello Bill.” It’s Paul, one of the Environmental enforcers.
“Wotcher Paul, how’s your health and temper?”
“Pretty good. Book anyone?”
“Didn’t need to.”
“Nice of them to clean up like that.” He comments, leaning out of his van window, watching two hefty young lads with a wheelbarrow shovelling builders sand despite the increasing drizzle.
“Amazing what a uniform can do.”
“Reckon it’s going to rain the rest of the day?”
“Maybe.” I look up at the scudding patchy grey above.
“Oh yeah, Ken says thanks for the call, it’s appreciated.” Looks like he already knew.
“No problem.”
“Hey, Bill?”
“What?”
“Don’t you ever get scared doing that? They had you outnumbered nine to one for a moment there.”
“All the time, mate, all the time. Trouser fillingly so.” Amen to that.
“Couldn’t do your job mate.” Don’t know how I do it sometimes.
“Wish I didn’t either.” I say instead. We share the joke. “I reckon there’s a bit more rain to come. I’m off to find a dry place to lurk threateningly.”
“Out of everybody’s way?”
“Right.” I grin back. I’ve got just the place in mind. Paul drives off, leaving me to the vagaries of a rainy English September afternoon.

Good enough for a skive off for a change.

Thursday, September 21, 2006

 

Just trying to be helpful

I give up! I really do. One of the duties we have to perform is passing along information about any vehicles we see with out of date tax, illegal tyres or being driven in a dangerous manner. The ‘procedure’ is to phone up CCTV and pass along the details, whereupon they are supposed to inform the Police.

I’m not going to do it any more. Yesterday I caught a bollocking for following ‘procedure’ that went like this;
“Afternoon CCTV, this is 515.”
“Oh it’s you, whaddyou want?” What?
“Got two vehicles, no Vehicle Excise Licence…”
“Not interested.” Bang! Line goes dead. What the hell?

This is just the latest in a long line of CCTV insults that have just about annihilated my faith in them as ‘safety’ cover. I don’t know what’s going on up in the ‘control’ room, but it doesn’t exactly inspire me with confidence.

I mean what is the bloody point of me calling in stuff like out of date tax discs etc when I know damn well nothing will happen. No wonder there are so many rambling wrecks on the bloody roads. No one does anything when you take the time and trouble to report such matters in. Perhaps this is one of those "Oh it's a bloody jobsworth Parking Enforcer trying to be a copper." responses. I don't know, and frankly I don't care any more. That's the last time I'm going out of my way to be of assistance. Bloody CCTV.

This is what you get for trying to be helpful. It can’t just be me can it?

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

 

I.H.T.F.J.

When you find yourself saying this aloud to the grey and cloudy air it’s time to get out. I was exploring the joy of car parks at the time and found myself repeating the Parking Enforcers litany out loud; “I hate this fucking job, I really loathe this bloody lousy job; if it wasn’t for the money I’d be long gone.”

It’s not so much the crap you get from the ignorant and self important on the streets. It’s more the blatant monotony of it all; the grinding, day in day out single focus patrolling that acts like a carborundum grinding wheel on the sensitivities. Then there’s the attitude of management; “Do what I say or else!” Er, excuse me? Am I a grown up or some child that needs the heavy hand of discipline all the time? Can we not have a grown up discussion or do I have to waste time with the Council Union rep who has been in post so long he’s part of the management team?

You guessed it: I’ve just had my latest ‘appraisal’ and the results were derived from the merciless spreadsheets as interpreted by the acolytes of the malevolent God of the tick box. “You’re doing okay Bill, but what about..” Went the arguments of my ‘superiors’. Well I’m sorry, this is my best and it’s all you’re getting for the money. Of course I just clamped my fat mouth shut and sat there listening to the soft felt platitudes with a kind of frozen horror. More? How the hell can I give more? I’m flogging myself to death out here and they want more?

Most of us get home in a state of foot aching exhaustion at the end of a shift and they want to up the ante with more patrolling on more streets, more often? Bloody hell. Then there’s the “I’ve got a little job for you” routine where your workload is constantly increased like Chinese water torture. Drip, “don’t forget to check this” drip; “We need you to keep a record of that” drip; “can you increase patrols in this area as well as there?”. It never ends. All this wearing weighted boots. No wonder our lot get so many foot and leg related illness, and you can feel the solid knot of awful certainty in your guts; it’s going to get worse.

Sometimes I want to rip my own head off and go ten pin bowling with it. Face it; I’m not in this job to use my brains.

Neither is anyone else.

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

 

Circular reasoning

Every so often you get these characters; the talkers. The ones who think that they know so much more than you do about what your job is and why you do it. To be honest I find them a refreshing change from the usual run of the mill abusers of my personage.

Normally the exchange starts when you catch their vehicle on a restriction which they don’t want to move off. Today’s offering is from the driver of a car I found on plonked saucily on a single yellow line. I’m still punching in details when the driver arrives.

“You aren’t booking me are you?” He asked plaintively.
“I will do if you’re still here in four minutes sir.” Come on, come on, if you don’t want a ticket – shift your arse.
“I’ll move it, I’ll move it!”
“All right sir, quickly now please.”
“You could have knocked on my door you know.”
“Not allowed to sir.”
“What, just as a courtesy?”
“Not even as that sir, or I’d be forever knocking on doors.”
“Surely you could use your discretion?”
“Don’t have any discretionary powers sir. Besides, I’m not allowed to enter peoples property.”
“Come off it!”
“Absolutely true sir. Mainly because I’m an officer of the Civil as opposed to the Criminal law. A PCSO or a proper copper can knock on your door, but I’m actually not allowed to.”
“I mean you could actually ignore that couldn’t you?”
“And get my backside kicked into low earth orbit by my management sir? No thanks.” And whoever's door I knocked on while they were sleeping / shagging etc.
“Surely you could, say when you get up in the morning, decide to exercise a little discretion on the day?”
“I can use my initiative sir, but that’s not the same. Still doesn’t give me discretionary powers. That’s outside my part of the 1991 Road Traffic Act.”
“Yes but surely..”
“Look sir, I move ‘em or book ‘em. Don’t care which.” Speaking of which, Are you going to move?
“You know I’d like nothing better than to buy you a coffee and argue this through some time.” Oh God.
“Wouldn’t make any odds sir, you’d be better off talking to the politicians and civil servants who framed the legislation.”
“Yeah but couldn’t you..”
“Do it for one sir, I’d have to do it for everyone. Got to be fair.” Now move it sunshine.
“Okay, I’m going, I’m going.” He goes to close the car door. “Are you sure you don’t have any discretion?”
“No sir.” Move, sunbeam!
“I’m going.” He finally starts the car engine and drives away. Thank goodness for that. I’ve got another six hours patrol and fifteen streets to cover and I just don’t have time for conversations that go round and round before disappearing down their own circular logic.

Monday, September 18, 2006

 

Link strings

One of the things I like to do, and a source of never ending interest to me is my webstats. Where are they from? Who are they? How have they arrived here? Who is it that actually reads my scurrilous and scatalogically corrupted drivel? Are they as warped as I am?

A steady trickle, at least ten or fifteen a day, come from the Google search string ‘how to get off a parking ticket’ or similar. Four or five come here looking for a sample letter to help get a parking ticket cancelled. The good news for you guys is that I shall be posting an article here some time this week, or maybe next, for your erudition and delectation called ‘How not to write a parking appeal letter’.

Now hold on a minute! Surely I’m one of the enemy – the soulless ticket hunter, mindless Street Robot, persecutor of the innocent motorist – why should I help you? What is my agenda? What’s your game Mister Sticker?

My ‘agenda’ if that’s what it is, is simple. I’m addicted to fair play. I sleep at night because I try to do what I do even handedly and without prejudice. If my employers were to rate my greatest assets, they would tell you they are my thoroughness, attention to detail and sheer dogged persistence. Oh yes, as my regular readers will attest, I despise some of the practices that certain of my colleagues use to keep their averages up to scratch. Having been cheated too often in another life I now detest cheats of all kinds. On both sides of the fence.

Hot off the press! Hold the front page! Important Announcement!
If there are any of you out there who would like to help support this blog financially you can now get genuine ‘Walking the Streets’ Memorabilia and Merchandise. Just click on the Cafepress advert under the sidebar heading “Official Merchandise!” to see what goodies you can buy to support more episodes of ‘Walking the Streets’.

I’ve tried to do my best with the various logos and make them fun and entertaining. You never know, if I see you wearing my designs on street I may even be moved to crack a smile. Just don’t give me grief about the prices. I’m only making $1 to $3 an item.

Any problems, let me know and I'll do what I can to help.

Sunday, September 17, 2006

 

Busy, busy, busy

Have just finished transporting eldest and all her worldlies off to University. Must say I was seriously impressed with the halls of residence; all sparkly and newly decorated, free wireless broadband and a bigger room than she had at home. Nicer (En-suite!) bathroom and a very cosy communal kitchen.

Eldest has all the electronic comforts of home now installed in her little monastic cell of studenthood (Yeah, right). Xbox, digital TV, Laptop.

She was busy networking, making new friends even before she had the duvet cover on the bed; but isn’t that the real purpose of going to University? To build a support network of friends and contacts who will be your fellow travellers throughout your adult life. Now I know it doesn’t work like that for many, but for the socially savvy it’s an absolute goldmine.

Frankly, I’m jealous. Wish stuff had been this good when I didn’t go to Uni all those years ago or I’d have been there like a shot instead of doing my fathers (forcefully delivered) bidding to go out and get a paying job.

That’s all rather academic now; in the late 1970’s and early 1980’s we had no satellite or digital TV, the Internet was only a glimmer of possibilities in the wiring of the old Defence based ARPANET. All we had then were books, alcohol and girls, not many of whom were as pretty as my eldest (God help you boys, behind that ditzy façade is a mind like a razor). Hence the lack of incentive to go and get an education. Now with the blessings of female emancipation, colleges and schools are crammed with elegant eye candy (Well I think so anyway, but then I’m just a crusty, lecherous old fart). Nostalgia can be a real bastard sometimes.

As for me, I’m back on the same old slog of patrol tomorrow. If anyone asks the reason for my quiet air of mild smugness, I shall answer with a cryptic. “I have loosed an arrow, and I know it will fly true.”

She will do well.

Friday, September 15, 2006

 

Light blog Friday

Eldest goes to University this weekend. House is in disarray pending her departure. Lots of long distance ferrying back and forth in the next couple of days with creaking family jalopy laden to capacity. (Sigh) First one flying the nest. It only seems like yesterday. Hold on a minute, it’s tomorrow! Mad panic. Last minute tearful phone calls to friends. Dog in megabark mode getting under everyones feet and loving all the fuss.

I’ll be glad when the dust has settled and I can enjoy a couple of days off writing in peace.

UPDATE:
Mrs S has read the above and called me a quote "Boring old fart." unquote. It's a hobby.

UPDATE on the UPDATE:
The public support a more expensive TV licence? I bloody don't because there's so much crap on the BBC. If the licence goes up - the set goes out. Mrs S and I are unanimous on this - besides, no one asked us.

Thursday, September 14, 2006

 

The naked truth

Oooh Matron! This blog has just suffered from a brief attack of the Trolls. The normally polite, nay almost genteel ‘comments’ section has just blossomed with abuse. It’s nothing special or even witty, just the usual lashing out by those with frontal lobes in shutdown mode. You know, the kind of stuff you hear every day on the streets casting aspersions upon ones sexuality / parentage / intelligence. It’s a mercy we Parking Enforcers can only catch people who are more stupid than we are eh?

For my more sensitive readers sake, I feel moved to switch moderation for comments to ‘on’. Sorry folks, you know how I feel about freedom of speech, but abuse is hardly free speech.

If anything, such insults give me a reason to keep doing what I’m doing because my job is having an effect where it matters. To be honest I’d have quit from terminal boredom long ago if I wasn’t desperate for the money, and the job isn’t that badly paid for an occasionally erudite, superannuated ex techie who will never get a job in his chosen field of endeavour again. Sad to say I must accept this as the naked truth of the matter. In these uncertain times a similar fate will no doubt come to many of us.

See you out there.

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

 

Reading difficulties

Twice today I have booked peoples cars and then had to point out the restriction signs on both occasions less than three metres from their respective vehicles to them. Both drivers whined worse than a wonky transmission about it, but then that’s the behaviour I’ve come to expect. Both complained mightily that I shouldn’t have booked them and each demanded that I cancel the ticket there and then.

To both drivers I responded with a world weary; “The restriction signs are there, and clearly there. Whilst I am here to enforce these restrictions, I cannot force people to read what is in front of them.” Both drivers didn’t see it this way (Well they wouldn’t, not to a snotty jobsworth like me.) Both drivers had blithely plonked their vehicles on the restrictions in question (One single yellow, the other Pay and Display) without a bye, leave or Thankyou; then complained it was my fault the restrictions were there in the first place. When I pointed out that they should know this stuff as it is in the Highway Code, both declared that it was ‘years’ since they had passed their test. Dipsticks.

Then the one driver told me he had terminal Cancer, and the other claimed his wife had just left him, and the uncharitable thought (On both occasions) passed behind my eyes; couldn’t happen to a nicer person. Needless to say, my garrulous trap remained firmly clamped shut. Not that I truly believed either persons story. Some people will tell you anything to make you feel bad about doing your job.

Then they have the nerve to say that you’re a suspicious bastard. Well it goes with the territory.

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

 

Union dues

Our current Union is about to lose some members. Notably us footsloggers. The reasons for which are outlined below.

For the past three years we’ve (Collectively) been threatened with disciplinary action by Management for the following;

Refusing to appear in an ‘Out of uniform’ photoshoot for the local press.
Not turning up to ‘team’ meetings on our off duty days.
Not wearing ‘safety’ footwear on duty despite an epidemic of foot related problems (And no-one getting their feet run over? Personal Injury Lawyer opinion please?)
Putting ourselves in ‘hazardous’ situations (DUH! Our whole working environment can be hazardous – especially when dealing with the sub literate and emotionally under developed).


As for individual threats of disciplinary action – don’t let’s go there, this blog would rapidly run out of bandwidth. Here’s an example – Questioning (However obliquely) the terms and conditions of one’s contract of employment (This has happened to a few of the guys). Threats of disciplinary action are the daily currency of our everyday working life. It appears to be upper managements first (And last) line of defence. Assemble this tasteful IKEA flat pack cliché with the instructions which aren’t provided; the deep blue Devil, and the sea between.

In these matters our current union has proved about as much use as the proverbial rubber spanner. In fact, the only time they’ve got even slightly militant was when the Government moved the Pension goalposts (Again). In all other matters they have proven less than useful; ergo, they can do without the front line Parking Enforcers (Including my good self) as members.

Incidentally, we haven’t told our Union yet. It’s going to be a surprise.

Monday, September 11, 2006

 

11th September 2001

Today I spent a little time alone with my thoughts at lunchtime. Went up to the top deck of one of our multi storey car parks and leaned on the edge, looking out at the world from my concrete perch, quietly remembering the terror attacks on the World Trade Centre in 2001.

Thinking about what happened in New York five years ago, and the recent Mumbai train bombings, Bali Bombing, London's 7/7 attack and subsequent Afghan and Iraq wars since; I tried to work out what is at the root of all the irrational hatred which kicked it all off. Apart from population driven power games.

I found myself reasoning thus;
There are people out there who think that how God is worshipped is more important than the concept of God. Too many of them I thought as I watched the streets diversities from my vantage point. Most of these schisms seem to be (Historically at least) driven by petty jealousies and ego trips. It’s all so tribal. I don’t think God has much to do with it at all.

This thought followed;
No man, or woman, is God, or speaks for him (It? Her? Whatever). No priest has a direct hotline to the Supreme Being, no matter what they say and no matter what God turns out to be. All a priest can ever do is convene a meeting and he or she is less than worthless without a congregation.

Consequently;
Our enemy’s (For this is what they have made themselves) stated aim is to ‘restore the Caliphate’; their particular fantasian utopia. Presumably so they can have power over everyone else, lord it in jewelled palaces and have people put to death / promoted at their merest whim. This being the case they are very poor fantasists. The saddest Swords and Sorcery anorak has more imagination and ability than they. Besides, the various leaderships of the Islamic regimes (Saudi Arabia, Iran, Pakistan, Qatar, Oman, Syria etc.) that their influence might supplant are hardly likely to step aside without a whisper.

They appear to hate the west because the idea, nay the dream, of individual liberty and prosperity is in direct opposition to their totalitarian fantasies. This said, the world cannot support such lunacies; at least not for long. Dictators always fall in the end; both in the political and corporate arena. Castles in the air cannot be established in reality without foundations mortared with the blood of innocents. Regimes built thus always pass eventually and are eventually forgotten by those not addicted to the History Channel. Percy Bysshe Shelley encapsulated their pointlessness, as with all hubris.

To claim that their dreams of carnage are God’s will is the highest of blasphemies.

In conclusion;

The enemy do not really care about their purported religion. All they want is power without real responsibility. Just like any other inadequate.

Postscript;

As for me I’m just a fortyish mildly unfit bloke, leaning on a lichen crusted concrete parapet, wondering at the futility of their dreams, watching the diverse and multi faceted world of the English streets I patrol. I’m just one of thousands who enforce parking restrictions and these are my thoughts on the matter, for what they’re worth.

As for God? Well, I’m sure he’s quite busy enough without me bothering him overmuch. Besides, it’s been a nice enough day, the rain has (Mostly) held off, no one has dropped dead in front of me, no RTA’s, few insults and I haven’t had to issue many parking tickets; for now that’s blessings enough.

Sunday, September 10, 2006

 

Sunday bloody Sunday

If ever there is a day of the week that really gives me the screaming heebies it’s Sunday. CCTV is carrying on like they’re having a bad hair day, and even I’m several glitters short of my full sparkle and staying out of everyones way. Maybe I’m just having an episode of electrolyte imbalance. I’ve certainly lost a lot of fluid today, and am currently trying to drink a lot and replace the lost salts.

Lots of the usual “But it’s Sunday!” from people who want something for nothing. However, one man who challenged me about parking around one of the local churches (Which incidentally has the residents up in arms) got little sympathy.
“Don’t you think it’s wrong that the Church isn’t exempt on Sunday? Don’t you?” He asked me insistently, willing me to agree with him.
“I just enforce the parking rules sir. To be honest, I find if a restriction is active on a Sunday, there’s usually a good reason for it.”
“Yes, but all the churchgoers…” He lets the sentence trail off, trying to make me feel guilty.
“I work for the Council sir, and by proxy the council tax payers. They say enforce, it’s what I do.”
“Well doesn’t it bother you that they’re Christians?”
“Christian, Jew, Pagan or Moslem sir, a sinner is a sinner in my book. Which is what I do for a living, funnily enough.” This guy has no sense of irony.
“So you’re telling my you’d give a little old lady, a helpless little old lady who wants to go to church in her car, a parking ticket?”
“Sir.” I sigh resignedly. “I book cars which are in contravention of the parking regulations. Prince or pauper. Prophet or supplicant. Makes no odds to me. To be honest my only real concern is that I do what I do correctly and impartially. Next car I book might be a Rolls Royce, might be a Smart car. Who it belongs to is not something that concerns me.”
“You’d book your own Grandmother!” He snaps, turning huffily on his heel and storming off. My Grandmother never drove a car you dummy, but she could handle a mean rotavator. (I come from a rural background) “You’ll never go to heaven!” He delivers this as a parting shot. If heaven is full of pompous sods like you, I’ll take my chances with Hell.

Sundays, you just gotta love ‘em. At least when my shift ends.

Saturday, September 09, 2006

 

You can show someone the signs

When even the coppers aren’t on your side, you know it’s time to quit. I mean come on guys, how publicly embarrassing is it when two parts of law enforcement are set against each other? It’s bad enough taking the “Oh God it’s you again.” Attitude of CCTV when you try to call something in which is in the Criminal domain; but when you’re trying to enforce the laws which people have voted for, for crying out loud it’s a farce. Then to add insult to injury an enforcing officer can get arrested for doing his job (To escape a Parking Ticket, isn’t that an abuse of the power of arrest?) – doesn’t it just go to show what a gulf of necessary cooperation there is between the civil and criminal law? If it’s a joke it’s not a funny one.

There are a lot of minor issues our local Police don’t seem to want to get involved in. Vehicle Excise Licences (Road Tax, Tax disks) for example. Our Management won’t sign up to us doing it and the coppers locally don’t seem to want an easy ticket when we call it in. Taxi Ranks, Dodgy vehicles, public order stuff like kids using certain local roads as racetracks. No wonder all the low lifes seem to think they can do what they want, it’s because they can get away with so much petty stuff so easily.

As for getting help when you need it off CCTV, of late that too has become a very bad joke. Look, I know what I do isn’t the most popular job in the world, but if other people don’t want our cooperation, and snub us when we offer it; what is the bloody point?

No wonder some people are prepared to use desperate measures to get Police attention.

Thanks to Don Morris for bringing the story to my attention. I am now off for a lie down in a darkened room with a large amount of alcohol. The phone is off the hook.
 

The joys of Fatherhood

I’ve come late to this parenting game; it’s not something I’m trained for or would have ever claimed any aptitude for but seems to be giving only occasional causes for concern. Take last night. Youngest was out for a birthday party with all her girlfriends. Around eleven Mrs Sticker and I were snuggled up in bed watching ‘Fallen’ starring Denzel Washington and John Goodman. We have a TV for watching DVD’s in our room – to me the height of decadence.

At about eleven Mrs S thought she heard her mobile ringing downstairs. She got up and scampered downstairs only to find a ‘Witheld number’ on the missed calls screen. “Wrong number love?”
“Think so – now where were we?” We cuddled up again and restarted the movie. Damn me if the phone didn’t go off again. Mrs S repeats the performance with the same result. “Who was it?” I asked.
“No idea.”

It’s hard to enjoy anything when a mobile keeps going off, so after the fourth ill timed dash downstairs we were bringing both our mobile phones upstairs when the house phone goes off. This time we answered it in time. It was one of Youngest’s friends. Apparently there had been some ‘trouble’ at a local bar and Youngest needed rescuing.

Mum and Stepdad (Me) shut down the movie, got into some halfway respectable street clothes, got the car out and went haring over to the bar to see an ambulance outside (Please God, don’t let it be her.) and a huge crowd of underage looking kids milling around. Mrs S dropped me off while I checked out the scene. It was just a crowd of noisy kids, that’s all. Mrs S parked the car and went into the bar, returning three minutes later with a very poorly looking Daughter, before throwing me the car keys and bundling errant (And obviously quite drunk) girl into the back seat. The Police arrived and we got her out of there to do her own form of penance without having to trouble the forces of law and order.

Twice on the way home we had to stop while youngest emptied the contents of her stomach into the gutter. “Ground me.” She moaned sorrowfully. “Ground me.”
“Consider it done.” Said Mrs S.
“Completely.” I added. “You are hereby grounded. Nailed in fact.”
“Thank you.” Came a little damp voice from the back seat.

Once home we shoved her into the bathroom and let her talk to the big white telephone for a half an hour while I went out to clean her vomit off the car. Don’t do this at home folks – in darkness it’s a bloody hard job to do properly. By the time I got back into the house Youngest was tucked up in bed with a bowl, two scruffy old towels and two litres of water. Mrs S and I sat on the front doorstep chuckling to each other, partly with relief that the baby of the family was safe and sound. The dog thought it was wonderful and chased his tail in that way dogs do when they’re overexcited. More cause for amusement.

Perhaps this might prove a sobering experience for Youngest; she now knows she can’t hold her drink and may just have learned an important lesson – don’t do what you can’t do. A lesson for us all, including me.

Friday, September 08, 2006

 

Please Mister Custer

There’s a comic song I remember from the 1960’s by Charlie Drake, comedian and latterly straight actor (Funny how so many comics make terrific straight part players), which has been running round my head for the past few mornings called ‘Please Mister Custer’.

One verse goes like this, but click on the link for the full lyrics.

Please Mr.Custer, I don’t wanna go
Er, listen, er, Mr.Custer?
Please don’t make me go
There’s a redskin waitin’out there, waitin’ to cut my hair
A coward I’ve been called
But I don’t wanna wind up dead or bald
Please Mr.Custer, I don’t wanna go
Oo-errr, err-oo

Sometimes a song encapsulates exactly how you feel about a job.

Thursday, September 07, 2006

 

The bad news and the not so…

Bad news. This blog is not going into mainstream print. Monday books, the publishers of such tomes as Frank Chalks “It’s your time you’re wasting.” And the daddy of all Police Bloggers Dave Copperfields “Wasting Police time.” Have declined the opportunity to put “Walking the Streets” into print under their label.

To be honest, I’ve always had a nagging doubt in my mind whether any publisher out there would be interested in the acculturated ravings of a disaffected Parking Enforcement Officer. Maybe I should just do the job via Cafepress on a one off basis and let the sales take care of themselves? Anyone fancy an uncensored version of the blog with all the incriminating little facts left in? All the sub-clues that could shoot poor old uncle Bill dead in his job if the wrong person put two and two together and took offence? (Not that I think that my Managers would ever read it; from what I can make out, they are not exactly big readers of much outside of work, blogs notwithstanding.)

Thinking about it a bit more clearly, I think it might be a blessing in disguise that Monday Books said no. The less I have to do with UK publishing houses the better, if I need to hang onto my job for a while. My reasoning being thus; someone, somewhere in the publishing chain gave the real name of Abby Lee, authoress of the excellent “Girl with a one track mind” to a Sunday Times ‘journalist’ (Yes I know what her real name is, but there are principles of confidentiality involved here, even if her real name is already in the public domain.)

Upon sober reflection, perhaps Bill Sticker is best kept as an Internet only author for the time being.

Any old road up, I want to know what’s happened to Lennie Briscoe’s ‘Special Coppers blog’ and another Police blog, ‘Monkey with a gun’. Cerberus' blog seems to be missing too. They're dropping like flies out there I tell you.
 

Repeat offenders v2

You’d think some people would learn wouldn’t you? You get one ticket for parking over the limit / on an active restriction – happens to the best of us (Even a couple of our guys). Unfortunately there are some people who will not learn / don’t care / haven’t a clue and keep on getting parking tickets. Take yesterdays classic; Dark green 4x4 on double yellows half blocking the narrow footway at nine a.m. in the morning. Driver not present. Five minutes later he’s got a brand new parking ticket slid fetchingly under his windscreen wiper. He’s still there twenty minutes later when I pass by again. As far as I’m concerned the job’s a good ‘un, no excuses.

Back at base for tea break the subject of repeat offenders drifts into the conversation; Wavey Davey cites a couple.
“Well there’s that Arty type who insists on blocking the footway on the corner of Garrard Lane and Over Street. Haven’t seen much of him recently. Then there’s that Dark green 4x4 with the smashed rear bumper. Both of them have got nearly twenty tickets apiece.”
“Dark green Honda 4x4? 2001 registration?” I ask.
“Yeah, nineteen unpaid tickets at the last count.” He tells me the registration.
“Make that twenty, booked him at nine this morning.” It’s him.
“Bloody hell, you’d think he’d have learned.”
“Apparently not.” We both shrug at the futility of it all.

Twenty unpaid tickets will be chasing this driver through the Northampton County court system and thence to the bailiffs. No wonder they process the bloody things in batches.

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

 

New look for the blog

Right, in response to commercial requirements I’ve gone to a 3 column template for the blog. Adverts and subscriptions are going on the left, links to friends and other interesting blogs on the right, and my usual rabid sarcastic irrationality in the middle.

It loads well in Firefox, slightly slower in Internet Explorer, ok with Browsar, but don’t ask me about Safari or Netscape or any other Browsing tool because I haven’t checked them out. Big thanks to Pam at Random Bytes for a simple 3 column layout that actually works. You are getting the credit in my links sidebar.

Another new item, hopefully coming up next week or maybe the week after is ‘Walking the Streets’ merchandise. You will be able to purchase special ‘Walking the Streets’ designed mugs, sweatshirts and T-Shirts from Cafepress.com, the proceeds from which will (Please) help support this blog. So much more dignified than sticking up a PayPal ‘donate’ button.

Incidentally, don’t whine at me because I chose Cafepress as a supplier, they just seemed to fit the profile of my current and future requirements better than anyone else out there at the moment, even if they are USA based and a bit (Reputedly) leftwards inclined politically. Their stuff comes highly recommended in terms of quality. In the words of the Ricky Nelson song – “You see ya can’t please everyone – so you got to please yourself.”

See the proposed merchandising graphic below. I think it’s rather apt.
 

Heroes and nonentities

Todays contribution to the general insanity is not related to parking enforcement, except very distantly. I’ve been hearing about this ‘Children’s Index’ over the past few days and would like to share a little insider info about my experience with Social Services.

A few years ago, when I was not quite so old, grey and unwanted most dearly beloved reader, I worked on IT support for a large Social Services department (But then they are all large aren’t they? I would say bloated and elephantine, although that would probably give offence to any Pachyderm-like readers of this blog – sorry chaps.) One day, a few short weeks after starting on the job, I was sent to one of the regional offices to fix a computer which, so I was told, was faulty.

Upon arrival at the office, I asked about the machine in question, and was told that the usual user was off sick with ‘Stress’ and would not be able to tell me exactly what was the matter. Okay, I had the administrator password and could easily run a few diagnostics before declaring that the machine needed a software re-image, or not as the case might be. Upon being shown up to the offending machine I was confronted with the following; The little beige Dell (That was the make) was switched off and sitting on a desk in front of a window overlooking a pleasantly begardened courtyard. Upon the desk was something quite, quite bizarre. A carefully arranged circle of quartz crystals, of varying type, each carefully blu-tacked to the desks surface surrounded the computer. Hanging from the ceiling directly over the machine was a Dreamcatcher. In my naiveté I asked one of the nearby Social Workers why all the decoration?
“Don’t switch it on!” One woman nearly had a fit of the vapours right there and then. “It’s evil! That Computer is evil.”
“Sorry?” I responded in genuine puzzlement. “Did I hear you correctly?”
“Don’t be sarcastic!” She snapped. “Just take it away! Take it away!”
At this point I made the critical error of questioning the users assertions. “I’ll just run a few checks first.”
“No you mustn’t! It’s possessed!” Someone else chimed in.
“All right, all right. I’ll replace it.” Rather than get into trouble with my new employers for offending their staff I surrendered and dismantled the machine before replacing it with a brand spanking new box and monitor.

Notwithstanding, I cleared all the pseudo science crap off the desk and ensured that everything was working fine before returning to base. Once back in the relative sanity (Oh my) of the support office I connected the machine up and had a look at the state of the profiles and 4Gb (Ah, those were the days) hard disk before wiping the hard drive and re-imaging it for redeployment. Sure enough, my suspicions were confirmed; the user had been in the habit of switching the machine off at the mains instead of shutting it down properly. The hard disk was almost completely full of data fragments and multiple duplicate profiles in the ‘WINNT’ directory indicating repeated hard reboots on a Novell based network. The swap file was crammed. No wonder it had been crashing like a hippy on bad acid. After a re-image I tested it, and the machine ran quite happily overnight without a problem. There was nothing really wrong with this computer at all, although the service record showed that it had been given the Rolls-Royce treatment, memory upgrades, new video card, new hard drives. Multiple support calls citing “The Screens locked up.” Or “It’s broken.”

The user in question was a Social Worker with over ten years experience. Yet they had displayed a woeful ignorance of even the most basic tenets of Computer use. I was amazed that said person was able to get out of bed in the morning unassisted.

My point is this; The Government are proposing to allow people with this level of incompetence unprecedented access to sensitive information about us and our children? This is a very, very, bad idea.

In addition, the proposal that being a ‘Celebrity’ can buy your way off this database when people with ‘Drug and Alcohol’ issues regularly appear feted as ‘Celebrities’ in the popular press is a bit of a cheek. The vacuous insanity of it all defies my considerable powers of invective.

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

 

Abandoned vehicle, a case study

We get vehicles dumped in car parks and on the streets every day of the week. Sometimes they are so badly damaged that we can get them removed without much trouble, sometimes the legal niceties have to be observed and I get events like this;

A blue Rover parked in one of the rarely patrolled back streets on a single yellow line; vehicle tax (Vehicle Excise licence or tax disc) just about in date. Scruffy interior with some discarded clothing and lots of empty soft drink bottles and sweet wrappers all over the passenger footwell and rear seats. There are two PCN’s on the windscreen already and the front nearside tyre has been slashed. Nearside tail light is broken and the paintwork has been scarred down the footway side by repeated ‘keying’. Last Penalty charge notice was issued five days ago. I shrug, as soon as I can get a third PCN on the windscreen I can make a particular phone call.

The thing is; what I do is bound by legal process and can’t be rushed. We have to go through the motions, jump through all the hoops before certain actions can be taken. Of course many people don’t see it like that and want something arbitrary done, now!

Just as the PCN goes under the windscreen wiper, a scathing voice comes from behind me. “Load of bloody good that does. Can’t you see it’s been dumped? Bloody stupid Traffic Wardens.” Before I can turn around, the source of the voice, a man in his sixties, is ambling off down the street. Notwithstanding, I make a phone call.
“Hello, is that environmental?”
“Hello Bill.” It’s Kens friendly voice (Thank goodness) who immediately recognises my dulcet tones. “What can I do for you?”
“Abandoned vehicle in Weatherspoon Street. Three PCN’s on the windscreen. I’m just giving you advance notice in case our lot forget to tell you.” I tell him the registration and precise location details. “I’d get it shifted quick before it gets torched and causes a real hazard.”
“Cheers mate. We’ll have it gone in a couple of hours.” I’ll say this for Environmental, when they get the word to go, they get onto these things quickly enough. I make a call to my office to satisfy the legal niceties and knowing Ken and his merry Environmental mates, that scrap vehicle will be history well before I finish today.

Strictly speaking I’m not supposed to call the Environmental and Trading department direct, but if I left it to the office that car would still be there for another week. There’s nothing mysterious about it, just that people in an office can forget or get sidetracked by gossip. E-mails get lost when someone crashes the mail server, that sort of thing; hence the message sometimes isn’t officially passed on. Thus you learn to ensure that the relevant parties are properly informed and you cover all the bases – the job gets done and the Council looks good. By the same token; it makes a my job a little easier, as the public can see that we’re actually doing something about it. Thus they feel less inclined to give me grief all the time.

Speaking of which, another MOP hails me just as I’m finishing my second call and demands that we ‘do’ something about said vehicle.
“Just called it in sir. Should be gone by tomorrow at the latest.” I say, with professional cheerfulness (It’s all a performance, I wasn’t feeling very cheerful).
“About time too.” He complains scornfully. “Don’t see why you have to waste your time putting another parking ticket on it. It’s obviously dumped.”
“It’s the law sir. We can’t do anything about him if his tax is in date. We have to book him three times and all three tickets have to be visible on the windscreen.” I say by way of an explanation.
“That’s bloody silly.” He moans. “Surely anyone can see it’s been dumped.”
“True sir, but the legal process has to be observed or the Council could get sued and Council tax would rise because of it. We get it wrong and it’s the local people who end up with the bill. I know, I’m one of them.”
“Oh.” A little mollified by my explanation, the offended person drifts away. Thank god for that. Now I can get on.

French existentialist Jean Paul Sartre once wrote “L’enfer, c’est les autres.” ("Hell is other people" In Huis-Clos or ‘No Exit’) I’m inclined to agree.

Sunday, September 03, 2006

 

What is wrong?

I think I’ve got a handle on what is so terribly wrong with England that so many (Including myself) want to leave. Tuesdays events have simply polarized my thinking, and the idea of quitting the shores of my homeland for good becomes ever more attractive.

It’s not that I’m letting a bunch of mouthy shit-for-brains seventeen (?) year olds get me down; it’s more like I’ve had a wake up call. The more I think about it and the more I read, I’m convinced that the root of all the social woes of England (And Britain as a whole) stem from one thing; the ‘top down’ model of thinking and management; be it from a Socialist or a Capitalist perspective.

Let me clarify by example; The United States works, not because it has a huge federalist setup but because of the exact opposite. It works because there are a lot of little guys making a difference, getting involved and doing stuff for their neighbourhoods. Local problems are dealt with at a local level and conditions (Generally speaking by my observation, although there are detractors) reflect the attitudes and energies of the local populace. When they don’t, the result is a ghetto, a closed little enclave missing out on the economic opportunities in the real world. Said communities generate no real wealth and will soon atrophy and die.

By contrast; the European Union as structured has a limited lifespan because it relies on the ‘top down’ model of business management. This means all decisions have to be delegated upwards or heavily curbed by bureaucratic restrictions, as at present. Just as the old Soviet Union died simply because it was outperformed economically by the West. It simply could not keep up, because the increasingly repressive model of coercing its population was failing. The ‘Top down’ management model always seems to ignore the axiom that a free man will always work harder (And more productively) than a wage slave. Local level empowerment seems to be the greatest motivator of all and constant interference from management the greatest demotivator.

Thus command driven economies will always eventually shrivel and die because of the productiveness of their populace / workforce being given to non producers, and also because their populations / workforce do not feel empowered enough to try that little bit harder. The same can happen in large corporate entities because they let their markets slip away from them either by carelessness or a lack of responsiveness to market conditions. Especially when ‘compliance’ takes over from a companies core function, which is to make a profit, in whatever form. Without this motivation you might as well stay at home and do some gardening. Complying with ‘inclusiveness’ directives from on high butters no bread and only fosters resentment amongst those who are, however inadvertently, by the practices of ‘compliance’ and multiculturism, disenfranchised.

I shouldn’t really be working for local government, my attitude to life is all wrong.

Friday, September 01, 2006

 

Conflict management

Bill Stickers conflict resolution rule 1: If you don’t want to manage conflicts – don’t have one – a conflict that is.

Todays example; A pay and display car park. I find a car without a pay and display ticket, so I do my usual check of the inside etc and log in the details. Driver arrives just as I’m about to reach the point of no return (Ticket print).
Driver; “You’re not going to book me are you?”
Me; “You didn’t buy a pay and display ticket.” And you weren’t going to, were you. Cheeky sod.
Driver; “Bugger.” No thank you.
Me; “But if you go and buy one now, I’ll overlook it this time.” And this time only, matey.
Driver; “But I haven’t got any change.” Really? Then let us pray for divine intervention for you then.
Me; “But I’ll issue the ticket if you like.” Dear God, let him see sense.
Driver; “How much is it?”
Me; “Tariff’s on the board sir.” I’m feeling a little messianic and…
Driver (Putting hand in trouser pocket); “Hang on, I’ve got some coins.” Praise God! A miracle! A miracle!
Me; “Thank you sir.”
Driver; (Realising I may not give him a ticket) “You’re a gentleman.” Nice of you to notice.

Driver bought ticket for two hours and then left. Sometimes all you need is a little faith.
 

Blairy Poppins is at it again

You can always tell, from one of us front line grunts to upper management, when someone has lost it big time, and that’s when they come up with stuff like this;

It’s all nonsense of course; all King Tony’s social workers and all his spin, couldn’t put babies back in the womb again. What is the guy on?

What these interventionist proposals mean for the rest of us is more taxation on our already overstretched resources. Now I’ve got a counter proposal based on the following; In a visit to the Citizens Advice Bureau recently I saw a poster. This poster was almost a metre high with a list (In Arial 16 point text) of all the ‘benefits’ (Almost eighty by my counting) available to the out of work, disabled, and all the temporarily disadvantaged. Last time I tried to claim for anything I got bugger all and had to scrape by as best I could. Notwithstanding that last snippet; why don’t we just cut the ‘benefits’ available to the growing underclass? By all means keep the basics for those who cannot (As opposed to will not) help themselves, but trim the fat off the social security budget which currently funds those whose plight is no ones fault but their own.

Besides, after nine years in power, he's a bit late in addressing the issue.
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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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