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Sunday, October 29, 2006

 

Just a quickie

I got the following e-mail from a researcher at ITV looking for ‘funny stories’ from PA’s and Traffic Wardens. If anyone in the trade is interested, drop this person a line.

Garner, Claire to Bill Sticker 26-Oct

Hello,

My name is Claire and I am a researcher for ITV.

I have no idea if you can help me but I am working on a programme called Confessions of a… which will feature different professions each week. I need to find traffic wardens or clampers to tell me their funny work related stories for the programme.

Could you recommend somebody for me to talk to?

Claire

Claire Garner
020 7633 2621
17, Hatfields,
London,
SE1 8DJ

**********************************************************************
Please visit the official ITV website at www.itv.com
for the latest company news.

This email and any files transmitted are confidential and intended
solely for the use of the individual or entity to which they are
addressed. If you have received this email in error, please notify
postmaster@itv.com

Please think of the environment before printing this email.

Thank you.

Friday, October 27, 2006

 

Just a little fun

I got this 'Love Pumpkin' halloween fun dating quiz off Blues and twos.

I knew I was a nice person really…..
Or maybe I’m just a dab hand with these on line questionnaires. Either way, don’t tell Mrs S or I’m a dead man.

TOOO LAAAATEE!!!!!!

Thursday, October 26, 2006

 

Class envy

I’m busy patrolling High Street the other week when a rather plummy voice comes from behind me. “Excuse me officer.”
“Sir.” I turn about to see an elderly gent in tweeds and flat cap.
“I need to load a new television from the store over there. Will that be all right?” It’s quiet this morning, he’s being polite, so why not?
“So long as I can see loading occurring sir, I’ll let you have twenty minutes.” Is my response.
“Oh I shan’t need that long. Thankyou officer.” He waves a battered looking Land Rover onto the single yellow restriction outside the shop in question. The middle aged blonde woman driving looks like she’s his daughter. Both of them rural types by the look of things. I log the Land Rovers VRM in, just in case he’s tempted to take the mickey and leave his vehicle there for more than the allotted loading time. However, the man is as good as his word and takes less than eight minutes to go in, get loaded (With a huge box that only just fit in through the rear door) and push off. He waves to me (Politely) as they drive away with new television. I touch the brim of my cap to acknowledge and begin to move on to my next port of call.

The next thirty seconds I could have done without. Turning around I am faced with the incandescent rage of an obese fortysomething woman. “What’dyer fink yer doing?” She demands.
“Pardon?” Her instant anger leaves me momentarily perplexed. I haven’t booked anyone today. Well not yet anyway.
“You let them fuckin snobs off!”
“Who?” What is she on about?
“Them fuckin snobs in that Range Rover!”
“What?” Where? What Range Rover? The light dawned. “You mean the people picking up the big box from the TV shop?”
“Yeah, them! Why’d you let them snobs off?” She demands. “You their fuckin mate? EH! EH!” a podgy finger is thrust aggressively under my nose.
“No.” I stick to monosyllabic answers. She won’t understand otherwise. “They were loading.” Keep it simple Bill; you’re not exactly dealing with brains here, (Or dress sense).
“Like fuckin hell they were – I’m reporting you! WHAT’S YOUR NAME?”
“My number, madam, is 515. My name is for my friends.” She misses the Lawrence of Arabia reference entirely. What a waste of a great line.
“Yeah, like them fuckin snobs? Eh, Eh!”
“No.” I’m not having this.
“Fuckin brown nose liar!” Now, apart from disguising my identity on this blog and changing dates and places for the same purpose I am both scrupulously honest and accurate. I really hate being accused of dishonesty. The one guaranteed way to really trip my trigger is by calling me a liar.
“First off.” I square up, hands on hips, leaning slightly forward. “It wasn’t a Range Rover.” I’m glaring straight at her and all of a sudden her bravado starts to come unstuck. “It was a rather battered British Racing Green short wheelbase Land Rover, 1983 registration. For your information, madam.” I put as much negative intonation on the honorific as I feel able. The rest is delivered in a tone you could cut glass with. ”I’ve never met the driver or passenger before. The passenger asked me nicely if they could load their new TV straight from the shop because it was too heavy to carry very far, so I gave them some time to do so.” I straighten up. “I do not see what it is to do with you. Now if you’ll excuse me.” Hands down, sidestep and walk on by. Fortunately I leave my verbal assailant speechless. Phew.

Just as a precaution, I take time out to write down the details of the confrontation in my rough notebook, paying careful attention to the dates and times in case the stupid woman made a formal complaint. In these cases I’ve found it invaluable to have a record made at the time and date so if people come and make false complaints about me, at least I have a written record to back up my side of events.

End of shift and I’m just logging my kit back in when Bernie turns up with his ‘you’re in trouble mate’ grin splitting his face from ear to ear. This time I’m ready for it. “Hello Bill. You been picking fights with the punters?”
“No, this about that woman who shouted at me this morning?”
“Yeah, sort of. She went to the Police.” Oh fuck.
“So what? I didn’t threaten her or swear at her. She swore at me. I wrote it all down.” I open up my rough notebook and show Bernie the details.
“Did you log it in your main pocket note book?”
“Of course. What do you take me for?” The notebook entry reads ‘Confronted by irate female member of public who was abusive – see report.’ Time, date and place have been recorded scrupulously.
“Well done Bill, give me a photocopy and copy the rest onto on a report form.” So much for getting home on time. Bugger.

All this over one stupid womans class envy. She hears an educated voice and goes berserk; as if rural people who are polite and speak English correctly were the source of some great personal injustice to her. What’s wrong with speaking English properly instead of some sub literate trans cultural patois which is often less intelligible than Neanderthal grunting? You can call me a snob if you like, but I know who I’d rather break bread with. A poor man who can speak properly, or a rich one who’s “Givin’ it large, innit?”. I may be only a Parking Jobsworth, but I do have some standards; wealth is not purely a monetary consideration.
Snob; Origin. Shorthand for the Latin Sine Nobilitatis shortened to S.Nob (Without Nobility) But there are other definitions. Like this, or this. Believe what you will.

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

 

Green Taxes

Now I don’t know about you but I’ve always had an issue with so-called ‘Green’ taxes. To put it in the words of an old farming friend; “Oi may be grass coloured, but oi ain’t green.” (Rough vernacular translation; I may wear mucky green coveralls, but I am not so totally naïve as to believe that complete load of bollocks / cobblers / nonsense you’ve just come out with.)

Let’s take the most contentious, the petrol tax ‘escalator’ instituted in the 1990’s to encourage people to use their cars less. Does it seem to have done anything other than push up the cost of living? Not really, no. The roads are just as congested, public transport still inadequate, so where have the benefits been?

The only ‘Green’ legislation appearing to have done any good are the vehicle emission regulations and standards. Lower emissions, less pollution, cleaner air. It seems to work that way to me. Keeping the streets running clear helps a little too. Queues of stationary vehicles with their engines running are demonstrably more polluting than vehicles in motion as moving vehicles tend to burn fuel more efficiently. Which is where I generally come in, or try to.

Street clearance is easy, all I have to do is take a professional interest in the cars parked up along the side of the road on the restrictions, and as if by magic, they disappear, often in a puff of swear words, but they do disappear. When patrolling, it is very rare for me to book more than one out of five vehicles parked upon active restrictions. Especially in the centre of town. Boy, can they shift when they want to. Result, clear streets, fewer idling engines pouring out unnecessary pollutants because they can’t get by, and we can all breathe a little easier. That is my small contribution towards improving the air quality; at least in my town.

Which brings me full circle back to my issues with ‘Green’ taxes. What good do they do / have they done? Not much, apart from add to the UK tax burden is the answer. More funds into government coffers for big government to piss up the great wall of centralist wastefulness. At least that is the view from my small part of the shop floor. Petrol prices and fuel prices go up, my bills go up until ‘The pips squeak’. My pips have been squeaking so long, it’s a wonder they have anything left in them, squeaks notwithstanding.

Green taxes mean I need more money tomorrow to do the same things I had to do yesterday. Do these green taxes fund adequate research / investment into alternate means of transport? Do they provide decent public transport infrastructure that will allow me to get where I need to be? Is said public transport cheaper than running a car? Is that public transport more convenient than using a car? Not in my part of the country, no. All green taxes do is increase the cost of living and travelling.

As for the scheme in Richmond upon Thames to charge for parking permits based on vehicle size; said scheme will require at least two new members of council staff to administer (At least), who will have to get to work. Said new staff will need car parking places in the council office car park, and no doubt leave at half past five with all the other folk thus adding to the rush hour congestion / pollution in the streets. The people who can afford the more expensive cars in the first place will pay (Reluctantly, but they will pay) out of petty cash. No doubt they will raise their fees / rates to compensate so the cost to others rises. The cost of their living rises and so on and so on ad infinitum. It will not reduce pollution or congestion one iota.

My conclusions; higher emission standards and keeping the streets running freely works demonstrably; raising the cost of everything by taxing it to death doesn’t. The main problem is too many people trying to get to too many (few?) places at the same time (Every been in one of Oxford Circus’s notorious ‘people jams’?). Solution a) Stop / reduce people’s travelling altogether. Solution b) Stagger working hours across the whole country. Solution c) Mass genocide. All three are unworkable / unthinkable. A fourth solution is to put massive investment into an alternate (And publicly acceptable) layer of economic, environmentally friendly, and flexible transportation, and I don’t mean Teleportation; attractive though the thought of being disintegrated into one’s component atoms and reintegrated at the other end may seem.

Like anything sensible is going to happen. That would be too much to ask.

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

 

Delayed posting

I'd........

.........post

.....more

often

only

blogger

is


running

really

slowly

and

I can't

be


..........arsed



.......right........

now

Thursday, October 19, 2006

 

Rookies

It’s a fact that Parking Enforcers fresh out of training hand out the most Parking tickets and also make the most mistakes. They also have very high cancellation rates, which is the measure us old timers tend to go by (Bloody hell, I’ve been in the job over three years and I’m an ‘old timer’). When we first started to ‘clean up Dodge’ because of the clogged streets and occasional fist fights (Honest!) over parking places it was utter mayhem. There are a few decriminalised Parking schemes coming on line and I’ll lay odds that the first 18 months are going to prove the toughest for the new kids on the block.

Enforcement of whatever kind is, and never will be a popular job, and those who do it suffer a high rate of attrition because of the threats and assaults. To be honest, I think our management are surprised at how long some of us have lasted under the pressure.

As for the various ‘decrim’ schemes; in the beginning, at least with private contractors, they all try the ‘These-are-your-targets-and-you-will-meet-them-or-be-sacked’ approach with the PA’s, which never work long term. Even one of the more notorious London Councils (Lambeth) is publicly discontinuing the practice. Calderdale Council near Huddersfield have taken note and will be (Allegedly) trying the ‘Softly, softly’ approach and it looks like Rugby in Warwickshire is gearing up for their first parking blitz.

Whatever happens at these places, I don’t envy the rookies.

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

 

New Powers

No, I don’t mean x-ray vision or the ability to teleport vehicles onto an active restriction (Although why not? We seem to get accused of most other things), I’m referring to the proposals to give us Parking plodders and similar (Other Council Workers, Teachers and even RSPCA inspectors!) the power to hand out ‘fixed whizzers’ of up to £100 to low level low lifes for drunkenness, possession of drugs, theft and aggressive behaviour.

Well whoever came up with these proposals can go and stick them where the sun does not shine. Speaking as a Council Worker most likely to end up with these powers (‘Oo look, our Parking Enforcers are already out there on patrol – they can do it’) I’m not so keen. I’ve already got my work cut out chasing errant parkers from pillar to post.

Drunks and Yobbo’s are Police work. If our ‘superiors’ want us to take on these proposals we will need the legal powers of stop and arrest, otherwise said anti social elements will (At best) laugh at us, or (Worst case scenario) knock seven bells of shit out of us. Most of our lot are in no physical condition to go rough housing with the meaner elements of the underclass. Nor are we trained Police Officers.

Which leads me on to my next question; what has happened to the Police service over the past three (Nine?) years? Where are they and why are more resources not being pushed through their budgets so they can recruit more front line proper Coppers to do this work? PCSO’s aren’t the answer. I’ve seen three out on foot patrol in the last few (Six? Eight?) months, and this is from a guy who spends most of his waking day out on foot patrol.

We just got the power to inspect disabled badges, and that is turning out to be a real nest of tarantulas to enforce let me tell you. I’ve only asked twice in the past couple of weeks and one couple were fine about it and another man a) Disputed my authority to do so; and b) Gave me a right mouthful. On both occasions the badge turned out to be kosher. However, I’ve ‘just missed’ a whole heap of people who seemed to be spry and agile who disappeared smartly before I could get anywhere near them. My, my; word has got around. There do, from a purely anecdotal standpoint, seem to be a lot fewer disabled badges displayed on our patch recently. Hmm, interesting.

Link to the Times article courtesy of Bystander.

Anyone for joining me in a blog campaign for more real Police Officers? These ‘new powers’ are just a backhanded way of cutting Police budgets at a time when we need our Police more than ever.

Monday, October 16, 2006

 

Underexploited skills and a blast from the past

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sunday, October 15, 2006

 

Doing the right thing

One of the things you don’t hear much about, along the lines of Hunter S Thompson’s famous quotation from his book Hells Angels “When we do good, no-one remembers, when we do bad, no-one forgets.” So it is with us Parking Enforcers.

This evening I would like to set the record straight with an example of a Parking Enforcer who has quite literally stood up and done the right thing. His name is Pes Fa'aui of Waitakere New Zealand, winner of a bravery award for successfully tackling a knife wielding maniac in the streets of a town called Henderson, New Zealand. Read his story here and more on the mans previous exploits here. Many thanks to Amanda and Dodderyoldfart for the links.

Now I doubt whether any of us mere mortals on this side of the antipodes will ever get wrapped up in something like that, although a Parking Enforcer was there when bits of suicide bomber ended up all over him on 7th July 2005 (7/7). In Britain, Parking Attendants get beaten up (Most incidents never reach the newspapers, at least ours don’t) banned, abused and assaulted, and guess what? Certain elements of the public and media think this is a good thing. Take this comment for example.

Anonymous said...
I hate traffic wardens....
Die Die Die
If I saw you crossing the road I would not even think about slowing down.
I hope you catch aids and your family disown you.
Monday, September 11, 2006 1:51:24 PM

Please note that the writer of this comment chose to remain anonymous when he / she exposed the breadth and maturity of their intellect to the world.

As for me; while I do this job I just hope I’m doing it with the right motivation which is to keep the parking spaces cycling through so everyone gets an chance at them, hopefully helping to keep the streets flowing smooth and clear. One of these days I’ll manage it; one of these days.

Saturday, October 14, 2006

 

Lines and signs

One of the chief complaints from us when going about our nefarious (To some) errands is about the quality of road markings. Despite posting and reporting poor or almost erased lines and signs, these rarely seem to get done. For example, I was called to the Parking office a short while ago about two tickets I’d issued on single yellows. At the time of booking I’d phoned in to the appeals office and informed them about the parlous state of the markings. When I made the call I’d been roundly admonished and told to book the two vehicles in question under an ’01 No Waiting’ despite my better (I think) judgement.

“Hello Bill.” Kerry motioned me to sit down. “Just want to talk through a couple of things with you.” Hello, this sounds ominous.
“Sure, what’s up?”
“Those single yellow lines down the one side of Forward Street.” Uh-huh.
“Yeah, booked a couple of vehicles there a couple of weeks ago. What about it?” Of course I knew what was coming.
“Appeals office has cancelled the tickets.” What a waste of time that call was.
“I’m not surprised.” I shrugged.
“Yes well. This rather falls below the standard of work we’ve come to expect from you Bill.” Well thanks a bunch.
“I did call in to say I wasn’t happy booking on those markings, but the office told me to book anyway. The plates are dirty and the lines are so badly faded they’re unenforceable.” I complained.
“Bill, you know you’re supposed to report faulty markings.” Bloody hell-fire!
“Kerry, I swear to God I reported them last year and again six months ago, not to mention last week. Check the sheets. You can even check my old pocket note books. Everything gets reported, you know that.” I opened my pocket notebook and found the relevant entry, pointing it out to Kerry.
“Well the Projects department say no one told them.” They couldn’t find their own arses without a sodding map.
“Kerry, I’m not the only one, we keep on reporting these things but nothing seems to get done.”
“All right Bill, but be more careful in future.” I can’t help it if I’m ordered to book on unsafe markings. Why take it out on me for pity’s sake?

It’s not the first time I’ve had these discussions and I’m not the only one. One of the hot mess room topics is always ‘When are they going to do these bloody markings?’ How the rumours do fly. Sometimes, but only sometimes the markings do get done, much to the obvious triumph of our managers, who seem to have a hell of a job persuading ‘Projects’ to get them painted.

If it’s tough for us to make a judgement call on whether something’s enforceable, how are the public supposed to know?

Friday, October 13, 2006

 

Wireless! Huh! Whitey whats it good for?

Lots, actually. Apologies to the late Edwin Starr for the crummy title, but today I write in praise of my little wireless network which is currently, like Saturdays child, working hard for it’s living. A lot of my DSL connections bandwidth is currently being taken up by eldest (Back from University for the weekend) and her music downloads; however this still allows Mrs S and I sufficient speed for our modest requirements.

Going wireless has freed the house up very nicely. Our home office, as was, has been completely made over. Easy chairs have replaced office chairs and we’ve gotten rid of my desk for a more informal (And smaller) kitchen table so we have much more space to play with. Our domestic temperature is much lower as a result. It’s more of a home now. Less cluttered.

Google talk is enabled, as is Skype, which means we can rattle to all our friends and relatives overseas at length and ad nauseum without breaking into our echoing piggy banks to line capacious BT shareholder pockets.

Cost? £70.00 GBP (About USD126 or CDN140) for a wireless gateway and a couple of wireless network cards. Yes, yes, I’m sure there’s some clever bugger out there who could get one for ten bob and a stale kipper off a market stall but some of us may not have your connections, okay?

As for todays Street adventure; I didn’t have one and therefore cannot post about it, apart from the usual day to day background whining from erring motorists, but that can get tedious after a while. Ergo, no news is good news. Senior Manager is on holiday (Huzzah!) so no brickbats from that quarter either.

Anyhow, we have a transatlantic call coming in from an old family friend now so TTFN.

Thursday, October 12, 2006

 

Apologies

I’ve just got home and checked my Webstats as usual to find a one and a half hour gap between 13:25 and 15:05. What the hell is going on with Blogger? It’s up and down like a hyperactive yoyo. Did a quick trawl through Google for service announcements but nada por nada. It was the same last night, couldn’t post for almost two hours.

Therefore I would like to say sorry to all you regular readers of my hyperactive drivellings on Bloggers behalf. I really don’t know what’s got into them of late.

Notwithstanding; the general dyslexic (Just to remind you this is my literary shorthand for people who can’t, or more like won’t read what is blindingly obvious, not a reference to the genuine condition of Dyslexia) has been giving me grief from the moment I began today. Nothing aggressive, just constant whining because they have to park properly. At least while I’m around doing my thing to train the next generation of sprinters. If they made an Olympic event of the one minute whinge or the twenty metre sprint to your car – I’m sure Britain would lead the world.

I mean come on people. Would it hurt some of you to walk to and from the cashpoint? Don’t bullshit me about getting mugged as certain people often do. The exchange usually starts like this on a double yellow ‘no loading’ restriction where even a Disabled blue badge is no protection from my predations. I turn up and cock a sardonic eyebrow at the driver. He winds down his window and the whining (His, not mine) begins.
“I’m just waiting for my friend…”
“Yes sir, but you are not allowed to even stop here.”
“He’s only in the Bank.”
“Do you want me to book you?”
“I’ll only be a minute.” Get him to move on Bill; traffic is starting to back up.
“Too long sir, this is a no loading restriction.” I get out my hand held and start punching in his registration and details.
“It’ll be your fault if he’s mugged, you bastard!” Is sometimes the drivers parting shot as he zooms off. Well it wouldn’t hurt if you parked up legally and kept him company if you were that concerned, you idle bozo. Then your friend would stand less chance of getting mugged in the first place. All this in the area of town most covered by CCTV and less than a twenty second sprint from the Police Station; with a uniformed presence already on hand as well, even if it is only snotty Council jobsworth me. This from certain people I have recognised on a night out flashing solid thousand pound wedges of cash in their pocket in some very iffy hostelries indeed (So I have low tastes when the wife lets me off the leash, so what?)

Going back a few years I recall walking well over a quarter mile from where I worked to the bank, escorting my boss with the days takings of several thousand pounds cash in my hot sweaty little palms. This was in the late 1970’s with no CCTV and few Police foot patrols. Never got mugged or felt even slightly threatened. Personally I think all ‘cashpoint cripples’ are a bunch of idle wussies; but then that’s only my opinion.

For that I make no apology.

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

 

Dust up

One and a half years ago;

Got back into the mess at lunch time to be greeted by Tony sporting a not so beautiful black eye.
“Picking fights with your girlfriend again?” Probably walked into a door knowing him, clumsy so and so.
“No.” He replied tersely.
“Punter take a swing at you?” Strewth, a live one.
“Yeah, bastard hit me too.”
“Ouch. CCTV get it?”
“No, out of camera reach.” So what’s new?
“Where?”
“Back of the Municipal park.” Right in that big blind spot.
“Sod. Any coppers around?”
“No, but they’re looking for his car right now. He had a Montague Road area permit, so he’s definitely local.”
“What really happened?” I made him a cup of tea and we both sat down to talk it over.
“Just finished booking a this Range Rover for an expired ticket. Writing up my note book and this bloke came out of nowhere and landed one on me. It was a good booking too, over forty minutes past time.”
“Nasty bugger, did you get his registration?”
“Yeah, I’ve put it up on the board. If you see a black Range Rover, watch yourself.” If I see him, I’ll make sure the coppers get him.
“Will do mate. You get his picture?”
“Yeah, have a look at this.” The picture on his hand held is a little motion blurred, but it’s clear enough for a positive ID. Bloke in his thirties, a bit on the fleshy side wearing an open necked shirt. Tony’d had enough presence of mind to use the camera in his hand held computer to snap the guy as he came in for a second punch. “Got the bastard.” I grin. “Good shooting mate. You going home?”
“Nah, not yet, I’ve got to finish filling out the form. I’m feeling a bit unsteady. Janie’s picking me up in half an hour.”
“Need some help with the form?”
“If you would Bill, I’m a bit shaky right now.”

So that’s how I spent half my lunch break, helping Tony put his jangled thoughts together on paper. It’s not the first time someones tried to beat seven kinds of shit out of him. Christ alone knows why; maybe he just doesn’t look as if he’ll fight back and that’s why the bullies go for him. Very few people even try to have a go at me, probably because I don’t take any nonsense from them and I’m too big and mean looking to play silly buggers with. Tony must come across as too soft. The problem is that he’s too nice for the job.

The follow up was that the Police did a PNC check on the registration off Tony’s hand held computer, dropped by at the guy’s home address and arrested him the following day. The picture Tony took clinched it, and for a change a little justice was done. I’m told the guy claimed provocation in court, but the magistrates didn’t see it his way. I forget what they gave him as a sentence but I think it was something like a pretty hefty fine, damages to Tony and a suspended sentence because of previous good behaviour. Don’t ask me to be more specific or the cat will be well and truly out of the bag.

A further update is that Tony has transferred off foot patrol and now does a less hazardous office job which he’s far more suited for. So maybe some good came of it after all. Oh yes, and he put the money he got in damages to good use – he actually got round to marrying his girlfriend. Bless.

Monday, October 09, 2006

 

Veiled nonsense

I love it when people shoot themselves so firmly in the foot as the current crop of politicians; they provide the ammunition and the media are the delivery mechanism. Take this business with Muslims and veils for example. Ex British Foreign Secretary opens mouth and plants foot firmly in it with a vociferous minority group. The man has never heard of the axiom ‘Least said, soonest mended’, or if he had suffered a senior moment and forgot it.

Did he not understand that the first thing certain ‘reporters’ do to make easy money is to hare off to a predominantly Muslim area and repeat what was said to the first fully veiled woman they find who will talk to them. Then they film her getting overheated about her highly personal interpretation of her cultural dress code. Then the ‘reporters’ present it as if all Muslim women and men hold such views, which is not necessarily true. To said reporters this is a ‘result’ and they go away happy having made an easy ‘story’. They have successfully completed some managed ‘news‘ and made work from nothing rather than doing a proper job of investigating.

Not that I have much sympathy for the politicians in question and perhaps I stifled the odd giggle at their self inflicted predicament. However, this kind of stuff drives a wedge between communities who would otherwise get on in their own backhanded way without outside trotters clumsily stirring up trouble where little existed before.

No wonder people get defensive with so many generalisations flying about such as; ‘All white people are racists / crusaders / whatever’ (Not true) or ‘All black kids grow up to be gangsta rappers’ (Not true) or ‘all Muslims are anti western’ (Not true, or why do most of them come to the West?). There is a little (A very little, miniscule in fact) truth on all sides of that particular divide, but not nearly as much as certain sections of the media would have you believe. On the other hand there’s enough in it to make a lot of people’s reasoning faculties (On all sides) go into instant shutdown mode. From the Indigenous (Native British) perspective, there is the natural xenophobia of the human super-tribal society; from the ‘outsider’ perspective (Immigrant community), there is the implied threat from the indigenous reaction to strangers, and, in the words of Kurt Vonnegut in his book Slaughterhouse Five, so it goes.

Now there is a full blown row about the hijab being worn publicly on Britains Streets where there wasn’t one (A full blown row) before. If I may be permitted the observation, it appears to me that most people who choose this sort of dress seem to do so as a defence against the open social mores of western society. Some have been noticed even wearing Burquas, a phenomenon public in this country for some time in certain areas. First time round it can be quite unnerving to be passed on the street by a small two legged tent, but after the initial surprise one just shrugs and thinks probably covers up the cellulite nicely.

Out here where it counts I don’t think I’ve ever seen a fully veiled Muslim woman driving (How can anyone drive safely with such restricted visibility?). You see the odd one or two out on the streets in my neck of the woods, but mostly they slide beneath my radar, which is more focussed on vehicles breaking the parking laws than ethnic dress codes.

Saturday, October 07, 2006

 

Home thoughts from beat Z

Drew the longest, quietest beat on the rota for a Saturday. All things said and done my feet are sore from walking so far to so little purpose, apart from to give the Uniform an airing and show a patrol presence. Still, it’s been a nice day and a quiet week for me with only the drama of a relatively mild dose of food poisoning to enliven things.

As the vista of long empty streets unrolled itself before me, my unencumbered mind drifted off to happier times when I didn’t have to work weekends. When opinionated arseholes didn’t take cheap shots at me because I was probably the only guy who could (And did) rescue their under resourced and over budget (Before I even arrived) projects. When I could afford the petrol. When the sun shone on an Autumnal weekend.

On sunny days like these I’d juice up the old jalopy and go for a buzz around the A-roads and maybe end up in Devon or Cornwall. Go rapidly up and down steep, sharply cornered hills while everyone else was watching the footie on television. On even happier days I’d be zapping around on my old 1000cc Motorcycle, no real destination in mind, but just the joy of riding at my own pace, sometimes quick, sometimes slow, as the mood took me. No one to argue with, placate or explain to, just me.

It’s like that when I’m at the keyboard unloading the contents of my overheated brain onto my hard drive. No excuses, just the sheer balls to everyone exhilaration of writing what I please, when I please. Of course with teenagers around this isn’t easy, but they have their space, and so long as they allow me mine, the armed truce of our relationship seems to work. My work out on the streets provides plenty of material for this outlet, so until I sell a manuscript or get a better job, this will have to do.

Friday, October 06, 2006

 

Cheers Sarge!

It’s four o’clock and I’m much better now. Amazing what lots of fruit, fluids and paracetomol can do to a fever. Back out there tomorrow.

Seems like I’ve been blogrolled by ‘Lockerroom’ at ‘Sergeant Says’ another new Police blog satirising the insanity of bureaucratic top down management from the politicised Home Office (Parking Enfarcement? – sounds about right sometimes). I’d also like to add a couple of others to the list; ‘Political Police’ and ‘PC Bloggs’, a feisty female PC (Is it PC to say she’s a she? Probably not –who cares). While I’m at it, I’m adding Officer Tackleberry the author of ‘One Cop and a keyboard’, and ‘Noddy and Mr Plod' from Scotland to my list of links to make up for some who have fallen by the blogging wayside. Read them and despair or enjoy, whatever.
 

Passing thoughts

I’m feeling a bit ill this morning, so have phoned in sick for the first time in a while. Feverish, sweaty and debilitated, that sort of thing. Very light headed and wobbly on my feet, so I’m taking a day out to flush whatever I’ve picked up out of my system.

Mrs S was watching the BBC news this morning as I was in the kitchen and something she said struck me as elegantly apposite. “No one listens to the front line troops any more.”

This strikes a chord. All the blogs I read with very few exemptions have a common bitch; top down management with no two way communication from those who make the big policy decisions. An almost arbitrary ‘Let’s try this and see what happens’ attitude from on high.

Dave Copperfield’s blog (As are most of the other Police blogs) is continually full of the drolleries of having to do five reams of paperwork before attending to the real job of ‘keeping the Queens peace’. Frank Chalk and Vinny Quinn (Ex Bloom) blog about the ironies of dealing with children whose parents responsibility seems to have ended around conception as the State seems to want to be everyone’s Mother and Father (Oh yes and the vagaries of School Inspectors). The NHS blog Doctor and Mental Nurse provide an inside track on the insanities perpetrated within the National Health Service. Even the sage Bystander of the law west of Ealing Broadway sometimes gets overwhelmed by the flood of poorly thought through legislation that constitutes criminal law ‘reform’. As for me, I know Parking Enforcement isn’t a popular job, but like cleaning the sewers, some poor sod has got to do it and at present I’m one of them.

We’ve all got one thing in common; we’re the front line troops often being sent over the top to confront superior firepower with popguns by higher ups with an apparently tenuous grip on the situation.

Rant over. Now I have to go. Right now if you catch my drift.

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

 

Day on the Park

Another quiet day on patrol. This time my beat was out near the municipal boating lake where I spent a quiet ten minutes every other hour with not much else to do watching the odd flight of Swans come honking over like cybernetic geese. The place was almost deserted but for the odd dog walker.

There’s been a definite autumnal feel in the air although only the Horse Chestnut trees with their five bladed leaves are browning at the edges, the wild fruit trees heavy with berries, and I’ve noticed some very heavy crops of apples and plums overhanging garden fences all around the suburbs. I get the feeling we might be in for a cold winter this year.

Minor run in with some out of town builders who saw me coming and moved their vans before I got anywhere close. A couple of their younger guys felt courageous enough to shout witty imprecations like “Fuck off, cunt!” as they were bravely running away. I just kept on walking. Catch you next time guys.

Didn’t book many vehicles at all today. Most notable of which was white van man who was blocking the footway. I’d seen him a few minutes before while I was finishing writing up my observations on some limited waiting, thinking that the driver had spotted me and would scoot. He was perched on double yellow lines and clearly ‘in play’ so I logged in his details and patiently waited for over five minutes next to the front of the van. Normally this tactic has drivers running for their cabs shouting, “Don’t book me, I’m moving, I’m moving!”

As I’ve probably mooted before, booking commercial vehicles is a pain because we have to allow them twenty minutes for loading and unloading. Having to stop and book one can throw your entire patrol schedule down the toilet. On this occasion I saw nothing, no loading or anything apart from a mother with one of those double width pushchairs who was forced to take her precious cargo onto the road in order to get past. She gave me a look of irritation at the inconvenience white van man was causing, to which I replied with a resigned shrug. Another five minutes went past and still no sign of the driver, so I wandered off to the end of the road and took a quick peek round the corner to check on another stretch of double yellows. I could see the van quite clearly from my vantage point and still no movement. Went back and waited in front of the van for over ten minutes before printing and sticking the parking ticket firmly in place. An elderly man struggled past the van, took a sidelong look at me as I was sliding the ticket envelope under the windshield wiper and cackled, “Book him Danno.” No sympathy for the ‘poor oppressed motorist’ there I think.

Now I’ll say this for most of the local builders, they’ve got used to us and are generally pretty good about getting their permits. Some of them even know us by name and it’s all smiles and thumbs up because they know that we’ll cut them a bit of slack if they co-operate. Sometimes I’ll stop and pass the time of day. It’s interesting because you get to hear a bit of gossip about something other than parking enforcement. Especially from the guys who do building maintenance. They’re the ones who fix doors broken down by the Junkies and Wino’s looking for dry places to continue their self abuse. These builders board up plate glass windows smashed by aggressive drunks in the town centre, all that stuff. It’s just interesting to find out about what goes on when we’re not around.

On a quiet day like today it breaks up the monotony of patrol work. At least when I’m not wandering around mostly empty car parks.

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

 

Diamond

There are people who do brighten your day in this dull, over managed world of ours. Radium in the pitchblende of life. Diamonds amongst the broken glass. One of my favourites has to be one of the little old ladies who lives along one of the back street beats. She must be well over ninety and needs sticks to get around, but she’s still lucid, bright as a button and has a wicked sense of humour. She’s an ex (B.O.A.C.) air stewardess whose response to the news of the new anti ageism legislation was; “Good, maybe I can get my old cabin crew job back.” I had to laugh. I’m guaranteed a guffaw every time she opens her door and beckons me over for a natter. Other people claim she’s got a few loose toys in the attic, but most of them never bother to talk to her. She’s got so many stories to tell and, damn the job for ten or fifteen minutes, I shall stop for a chat. She reads three newspapers a day (Times, Telegraph and Guardian) and thinks David Cameron has been cloned from leftover Tony Blair. Having seen this, I think she’s got a point.

As a storyteller of sorts myself, I love it when someone has experiences to pass on. Tales from the Lebanon in the 1960’s before it was a complete war zone. Egypt and the Middle East when the homicide bomber attacks were unheard of. We swapped a couple of anecdotes about Florence in Italy; mostly about the Italian style of driving and Berlusconi’s Duomo (A Dress code in a Cathedral! Enforced by armed Police, already.)

There may be people who decry the old, just because they’ve got a bit crusty and bits have started to fail and gone wrinkly, but they have so much to teach us about the way the world has been, if only we’d stop to learn.

When the pressure to perform all the time is relaxed a little, sometimes Walking the Streets isn’t a bad way to earn a living.

Monday, October 02, 2006

 

Tired

I don’t seem to have achieved much by way of tangible results today, which either means I’m just spinning my wheels or the public are finally coming to the conclusion that they really shouldn’t park on the restrictions. Yeah, right.

Still, if I am really being observed, at least I can say sweetly to the higher ups “If you think I’m bunking off – check your CCTV footage. I was where I claim I was.” Now how about some carrot instead of the fucking stick all the time, eh?

Any old road up, I’ve done a rather lot of walking and I’m rather Zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz. Nighty night.
 

I’m not paranoid - they are out to get me

I was out on patrol late last week when I got a phone call from my supervisor. It was pretty innocuous stuff, but the background noise made me pause for thought. I could hear the dulcet tones of a CCTV operator in the background, and the bleeping of radio’s on another channel. You didn’t have to be a genius to work out where he was making the call from; right in the CCTV room. What was he in there for? Supervisors were at one stage forbidden access to CCTV because there was an accusation of skiving.

Of late there has been a trend for management to be seen coming and going a lot from control. When I say a lot, I mean at least three or four times a day, appearing to spend several hours in there. Of course this could be our managers trying to get some sort of idea of how the relationship between the control room and us footsloggers is falling down (I wish). If this is the case, then fair do’s. Unfortunately more sinister doings may be afoot.

Upon some judicious questioning and a little lighthearted banter with our supervisors, we’ve been noticing how cagey they’ve suddenly become. It’s nothing I can put my finger on, but the clues are there. “What’s life like in control?” Was a light-hearted question that fell on very stony ground. You should have seen the faces freeze.

A number of the other guys have noticed, and a nasty rumour has begun to circulate that we are being watched with suspicious eyes. Someone is bunking off for half the day and the rest of us are under suspicion because of it. Yes I know I’ve blogged that I’ve ‘ghosted’ the odd street or two, but only when it’s been crap weather, or when my feet really hurt. I don’t do it to extend my breaks, as I don’t want to spend too much of my life in the mess room (It is called a mess because that’s what it often is – untidy, stinks of leftover microwaved meals, wet kit, other peoples hilarious farts and has a neo-brutalist décor that leaches the spirit just to be there). I’d rather be away and outside in the fresh air. Damn the rain. There’s always a nice dry archway close by.

The result of this implied suspicion is that we footsloggers have started to watch where the cameras are pointing, and when not in the hustle and bustle of the town centre beats are beginning to deliberately avoid their gaze, often walking out of our way to do so. This is not good. It’s bad enough we are held in contempt by the very people who are supposed to be looking out for us, but now we all appear to have been judged to be a bunch of leadswinging idlers, despite the fact that our results and averages are better than ever.

I’ve never been under such intense scrutiny in my entire life. Oh well, the job will suffer. As will we in the short term.
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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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