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Sunday, July 29, 2007


A little stressed out

The past few days have been highly stressful. Although I believe the received wisdom is that moving home is one of the most stressful things you can do short of lose a close family member. How in the name of the Gods did we accumulate so much junk? I swear I'm almost vibrating with the nervous tension. Considering I used to do what is considered a high stress occupation, this is not funny at all. This is despite the kids moving out and going to live with their dad for a year or two and a comparative calm enfolding the general day to day domestics. The sensation of 'we're not coming back here again' is somewhat disconcerting to say the least.

Tell you the truth I'm glad to be getting out of soggy old England for a while. All this rain and the greyness of it all is getting really depressing.

Mrs S, the dog and I are taking ourselves out of the country on a long leave of absence to Canada on Tuesday. Flight AC897 from Heathrow is booked to waft us westwards to the far flung forests of British Columbia. I intend to spend my time travelling, writing, hunting, fishing and cooking. I'll blog when I can and let God take care of the rest.

We're having a farewell lunch with my Mother today, and I'm expecting the usual interrogation from my Brother who seems to want to find reasons for us not to go. I'm trying to be diplomatic around him, but his incessant "Have you done this?" and "Well what about that?" is really getting on my nerves because the answer is "Yes we have thought of this, and we've signed the paperwork on that. Give me a break will you?" It winds me up tighter than a spring. I love my close family, but sometimes they can be such a trial. This goes for Mother in Law who keeps calling when Mrs S and I are settling down for some quality time together.

Also today is a little throwing out party where we're trying to give away a lot of the household stuff we're not taking with us. We've laid on a mini barbeque and some booze for the neighbours this afternoon. All the good stuff we're giving away will be on a table and we're hoping for the best. Failing that the rest will all go when the house is cleared.

Just over fifty five hours left until take off. God speed the hours.

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Thursday, July 26, 2007



Have gotten absolutely soaking wet on my various errands today. Tying up the loose ends of your life does take a lot of time and energy. Just when you think you’ve signed that final bit of paper; bingo! Up pops another one. All this and unremitting rain.

It’s just like the summers of my childhood, downpour following downpour with precious few sunny days in between. Here’s how reflective it is; the fine drizzle this morning made me think of early mornings at certain Welsh beaches. The downpour around lunchtime acted as a recherché du temps perdu of Chalet Holidays when all there was to do was play Newmarket (Michagan in the US) for Matchsticks or get my Dad to hide us in the amusement arcade where I could shoot at electronic targets to my ferocious little hearts content.

I’m having a bit of a problem getting out of the mental habits I developed on patrol work. I look at a car, the first thing I’m looking for is the distinctive shape of a pay and display ticket. This is awful, I’m no longer a Parking Enforcer and I can’t get the wretched job out of my head! Argh! I need some therapy and quick!

Oh what the hell. It could be worse. I could still be in the job (Or in the new Tewkesbury Archipelago). Then again, this flooding is hardly a new phenomenon.

As for Internet access, thank goodness for the free library PC’s.

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Wednesday, July 25, 2007


There will now be a short commercial break

This is because the TV has gone (No great loss) and my Internet account lapses tomorrow on the 26th (Dis-aster!). Mrs S, the dog and I are going travelling for a while, maybe the rest of our lives. Then again, perhaps not.

I shall still write and post, possibly much more than previously, but things will be a bit sporadic for the next two weeks.

My beat oppo’s Colin and Asif turned up on my doorstep this evening and presented me with a going away card, a bottle of Whiskey and an invitation to have yet another last drink with them. How could I refuse? So I didn’t. I can refuse everything but temptation.

We spent the best part of an hour swapping our version of ‘war stories’ over a couple of pints in my local hostelry. Especially the one where Colin had caught two girls lapping it up so to speak, on the top deck of one of our multi-storey car parks. Never caught any boys like that; yet, anyway. It’s only a matter of time before they do.

I recounted the tale about finding the ‘passion wagon’ of white van man at the bottom of a car park, which gave us all a chuckle as he’s rather one of our ‘regulars’. Makes you wonder what part of the anatomy does the heavy thinking doesn’t it?

Anyway; God bless ‘em both. They’re a couple of good ‘uns. There may even be scope for another last beer with the lads before I move on. Wife willing that is.

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Turn the volume down - now

While I'm wondering what sort of stuff to post now I'm no longer a Parking Enforcer, watch this from "Jihad - the Musical". Delightful.

Hat tip to PC Bloggs for the link and good luck with the book Bloggsy.

Monday, July 23, 2007


Last beer with the lads

The floodwaters are receding, I’ve handed my kit in. My life on the streets is over. I’m going back to being my own man again; a little bit tougher, with an even more jaundiced view of humanity, but still the same grumpy old bear as before.

Met Merys of “I am not a drain on society” for coffee on Sunday spending a good hour chewing the fat, venting a little spleen, and generally setting the world to rights. Our conversation kept on getting interrupted by calls from her mother. Merys, you are right, your Mum does have issues that only she can resolve. Anyway, Merys told me that I should keep blogging, and so I shall. God knows about what, perhaps whatever scrolls my particular knurd on the day. The blog is my sanity reinforcement device and helps me put things in perspective, so a brain dump it will remain.

As to the subject line; leaving any job is always a happy / sad occasion and I was feeling a bit strange about it all weekend. Colin and Asif arranged to meet me at my local and invited one of the others who had just left, 666. 666 had found the job too stressful, and after a year on the streets finally called it a day. Not that I blame her, without the blog to keep me sane, I’d have folded in six months.

The guys were pretty good to me and wouldn’t let me put my hand in my pocket to pay for a round of drinks. Bless ‘em. We spent a couple of hours setting the world to rights and ended on handshakes and hugs (Why not?) I wiped away a manly tear. I shall miss them greatly, but not the job.

Today I spend my first day as a free man watching the rain fall and inspecting my copy of my book which just arrived in the post and looks better than I anticipated. It reads well too. I’ll be using Lulu again.

Anyway, lots to do as we’re moving out of this little town for pastures new and I’ll end with a joke;

I say I say! What do you do about visiting NuLabour politicians investigating the floodwaters?

I don’t know, what do you do about visiting NuLabour politicians investigating the floodwaters?

Keep your foot on the back of their head until the bubbles stop breaking!

I thank you.

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Sunday, July 22, 2007


Special request

Got an e-mail form one of my many e-friends (Cheers Gonorr) who has asked me to post the following E-petition regarding facilities for the care and rehabilitation of wounded and disabled service people and their families. Please spread the links as widely as you can. Also, read the opinions of those who have to do the job.

I’m backing this campaign because our Government sends troops out to fight, and those troops are, whatever your opinion of squaddies and what they do, people. Should they get hurt in the line of duty, doing what they were asked to do; they and their families are deserving of our utmost support and respect. Like it or not, they are fighting a war of sorts and deserve the best of care from their country, or we are no longer a country.

The apparent attitude of the well-heeled locals appears downright mean spirited and selfish. Wonder how many of the objectors have sons and daughters serving in the Armed forces. Not many I’ll warrant.

Update; the link to my book is now fixed.

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Saturday, July 21, 2007


Wild & wet

Well that was a hairy couple of days. I mean the rain fell so hard around here that it might have made your head bleed. Good job I was wearing a hat, then. Street patrols got pulled Friday and Saturday because the Roads were more like rivers and the rivers more like tide races. All this and the last day of School run insanity for a while.

I saw the weather front coming in on Thursday evening while walking the dog; a thick band of musclebound cloud followed by a solid sheet of dark grey decorated only with far off lightning flashes. Double timed it home and battened down the hatches just as the rain hit. Dog went and hid in a corner, poor mutt. I gave myself a stiff whiskey and an early night.

At work on Friday we busied ourselves shooing people out of the levels of car parks that were threatening to become lakes. This didn’t stop one guy deliberately moving the cones we had used to block off the affected area and getting stuck in the rising waters. Silly bastard. Four or five other cars just sat there as the waters rose, leaving them stranded up to their wheel arches, their owners fuming quietly in the downpour. A number of the guys, including me, were sent home early because otherwise we wouldn’t have got home at all.

At home water started seeping under the front door and into the cellar, threatening to soak the electricity meters and blow our power supply, so I spent a while making an improvised seal with a few tea towels and stood duty with a mop and bucket. Fortunately our cellar didn’t flood, but one of our neighbours wasn’t so lucky, as far as I know he’s still bailing, and his cellar had supposedly been sealed against this sort of thing. From the sound of things our little area of town came off lightly. Other areas weren’t so fortunate. What price waterside property?

What didn’t help was my phone going off non-stop all afternoon. “You all right?” Comes the voice of my Mother in law, who was at her home in the far southwest watching the dramatised version on the news.
“I can’t talk now, got a bit of a situation on my hands.” I really had to finish what I was doing immediately or no light, heat or Internet this weekend.
“Oh can I help?”
“Not unless you can get here via the floods inside an hour and help me close a few gaps.” I tried to sound casual, but it’s hard to be insouciant when you can see a very real risk of an electrical fire if you don’t do something about it quickly. I’m afraid I might have sounded a bit sharp over the phone as I don’t suffer fools gladly when things get a little tough. Oh what the hell, she can cut me out of her will if she wants to.

Mrs S had trouble getting home as all the roads were gradually closed by the rising waters, but she made it and so did the kids, which pleased me greatly. On my way out to her in a rescue mission that in the end wasn’t needed, I saw water fountaining up from under heavy cast iron drain covers and whole streets inundated by the light brown waters. I had to turn back five times from places where the water was completely impassable. Most of the back roads that ordinarily were dry had been completely submerged in places to a depth of a metre and over at more than one point. Abandoned cars that had tried to go through the floods too fast ended up blocking the shallowest parts of the rapidly deepening waters, and so my possible routes to collect my wife. All the time, the rain hammering down and the nagging worry in the back of my head about the electrical distribution board downstairs.

A worrisome time. Fortunately for us the rain stopped and we like most of our neighbours escaped inundation. We had a pizza and a bottle of wine between us to celebrate our good fortune.

Anyway, the news is that I’m packing this parking enforcement lark in. Although it’s not a bad life out on the streets and car parks, my problem is like so many before me I’ve begun to suffer quite badly in the foot department because of the long distance walking in heavy boots. The pain, even chewing painkillers five days out of six, has had me almost in tears at times, and that doesn’t happen very often let me tell you. Even my Doctor has recommended that I resign to save any further permanent damage to my feet. “You need a different job.” Were his precise words I as I recall.

Following his informal advice I have submitted my resignation. I think it is well past time for me to look for some different (And softer on the old plates) streets to walk, while I am still able to do so. Wearing heavy work boots to cover an average of 17 miles per working day has done my feet no good at all. So much for ‘elf & safety culture.

How do I feel about finishing with the job? Mildly miffed of course, but there’s a whole other world out there and I’m off to see it. The only issue that leaves me with is what to do about the blog? Keep adding bits about my own particular take on the world? Bin it? Leave it as an archive? I haven’t decided yet.

On this subject, I was chatting online to Merys of “I am not a drain on society” recently via google and I broached the news of my impending retirement. She’s in my neck of the woods this weekend and we’re going to bring our significant others and have a natter over coffee or something. See how I feel about the blog then.

Have just looked out of my window and the rain has finally stopped and the streets are dry. Things are looking up already.

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Friday, July 20, 2007


Witness to a storm in a teacup

Now, not a lot of people know this, but our municipal car parks are not often perfectly level. There is often a fraction of a degree slope in the surface to allow free drainage of surface water. This is a simple design which works, one of the few things that does work consistently well in our Municipal car parks.

This particular car park was on my beat, and I was just taking a passing interest when a member of the public confronted me.
“Officer, there’s a car blocking the alleyway.”
“Right, I’ll come and take a look.” Said I.
Sure enough, there’s one of those little short wheelbase Jeep thingy’s resting stern first against a grey people carrier blocking the main aisle and access. A silly person had parked their pride and joy without apparently engaging the handbrake. Said rinky dinky little 4x4 had subsequently rolled very gently backwards a distance of some fifteen feet and fetched up against the front of a grey people carrier with the slightest of bumps. No real damage done because the bumpers appeared to have absorbed all the impact energy. Member of public, having drawn my attention to the matter, swans off, leaving me scratching my head. What should I do? Book the vehicle on a code 86 (Parked beyond the bay markings) and leave it there, or do the decent thing and roll it back from whence it came? I opted (Possibly foolishly) for the latter.

Now I’m a big strong chap, and pushing one of these little things back into place isn’t really much of a problem, but there was the issue of being able to steer it as well. Not to mention holding it in place while finding something to stop it rolling back again. Fortunately, another gentleman volunteered his services to watch over things while I found something to chock the wheels in place. Ten minutes and a bit of grunting later, we’d pushed the vehicle back into place, chocked the wheels and left a note on the windscreens of both vehicles, letting the drivers know what happened. I couldn’t see any damage apart from a couple of dusty scratches on the People Carriers number plate. Tell you the truth; I thought no more about it.

That afternoon I was talking to one of the lads on the late shift;
“Hey Bill, did you leave a note on the windscreen of a 4x4?”
“Yeah, it’d rolled across the car park and fetched up against a grey people carrier. No damage. Stupid person had forgotten to put their handbrake on, that’s all.”
“Yeah mate, the driver came back and got all snotty with me.”
“What for?”
“Gave me a right mouthful she did. Saying how she never put the handbrake on and her vehicle hadn’t moved.”
“Sounds like I should have left the bloody thing where it was.”
“Yeah mate, you should have just booked it for out of bay.” He added. “I told her ‘madam, he left you that note to let you know you’d left your handbrake off’ – it just made her worse.” He grinned. “She wasn’t having any of it and even when I pointed out where you’d chocked the wheels in place to stop it moving she went off in a right frump. The other lady was all right about it though.”
“Tell you the truth I could hardly see any damage.” I shrugged.
“Fancy leaving your car parked without the handbrake on. Dipshit.” He scoffed.
“Gordon Bennett, just when you think people can’t get any thicker.” I replied with a heavy sigh. We laughed at the idiocy of the 4x4 driver and left it at that.

Two weeks later Kerry, my line manager, called me to the front office. “Bill, did you deal with that 4x4 in the car park a couple of weeks ago?”
“If it’s the one I’m thinking of, yes. The one that had rolled across the gangway?”
“Here you go. They want a witness statement.” She handed me a brown A5 envelope.
“Bugger.” I vouchsafed as I saw the insurance company form inside. “Oh all right.”
“No rush.”
“Cheers Kerry.” I said with a cheerfulness I really didn’t feel. Kerry smirked at me; she knows how I detest form filling. Notwithstanding, I checked out the details and filled out the witness statement form, thinking that was that. A month later another witness form was handed to me, this time from another insurance company. This too got the same treatment. Form filled in, exactly the same information – returned to the insurance company.

One month ago I received yet another form to fill in, this time from the Police. WTF? A car rolls backwards because some idiot can’t stick a handbrake on in a council car park, hardly any visible damage, and all of a sudden the Police want a report? So this gets ‘crimed’ and listed as a ‘detection’? Bloody hell. Oh well, another day, another bloody form. I looked at it for the best part of a week, all sorts of things going through my head. Had the driver of the vehicle we had pushed back into a vacant bay and chocked in place said that her vehicle had been vandalised and blamed me because I’d had the common decency to leave a note on her windscreen telling her what had happened? Wouldn’t surprise me. Or was this a case of someone looking for a statistic? Well, do you know what I did with their bloody form?

Reader, I filled it in.

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Thursday, July 19, 2007



Got a text message from Youngest. It read BOO YA! This means she has passed her driving test. I replied YEE-HAW!

This happy news means that there are now four drivers in the Sticker household. Self, Wife, Eldest and now Youngest has passed we’ve got the set. Only the dog will not have a full driving licence, but he’s just had his anti-rabies updated and none of us have, so he’s not been left out.

I knew she was good enough. Now all she’s got to do is earn enough to pay for her petrol, as the old man (me) is going to tell her that as a grown up she can now go out driving on her own, but how far she goes and where she goes is down to her. Today my colours are bright and I shall smile at life.

Won’t get her off a parking ticket if she errs, but she knows this and I am very proud of her.

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Wednesday, July 18, 2007


Day off & press releases

Have spent my day off looking at the meagre sales figures for my book and writing out press releases etc. Although I’m not too hopeful because of the practice of ‘bulk delete’ that occurs in so many offices, my carefully worded press releases will go down the electronic spam toilet. I’ve punted copies of it to all the newspapers who have given me a mention over the past few years, although the Daily Mail has been left off my list. Don’t ask why, it’s a thing I have. I just don’t want them to do a ‘Copperfield’ on me.

For posterity, here is the text of it.


*Release Source: William Sticker


Traffic Warden writes book

Somewhere in the UK— Bill Sticker the Local Authority Traffic Warden who writes the blog ‘Walking the Streets’ has published his first book.

Walking the Streets – the book not the blog is a number of things; part collection of anecdotes from life on the Streets and car parks of an English provincial town; part humorous biography, and part guide to challenging that pesky parking ticket with examples of how to write parking ticket challenge letters.

What the media have said about the original weblog;
Jane Perrone; The Guardian “… a one-man manifesto for the rehabilitation of the traffic warden in the public consciousness.”
Tim Worstall; The Independent “Bill Sticker gives us his mordant view of life from the kerbside. Idiot drivers, irate myopics……. Like most of those who blog about their jobs he is not overly impressed with the current style of British management.”
The Click; Times Online “This Parking Enforcement Officer’s story of life on the job is grim, funny and gripping.”

Hiding from his employers behind his pseudonym, Bill Sticker routinely takes mocking pot shots at the greedy, blinkered and often downright angry on his day to day weblog at Alternatively Walking the Streets – the book not the blog is full of rewritten and never before published (On or off line) material available for purchase at or

Link to Publication*:

About the author
Bill Sticker is currently a working Parking Enforcement Officer and this is his first book.

About LULU
Founded in 2002, Lulu is the world’s fastest-growing print-on-demand marketplace for digital do-it-yourselfers. Please see for more information.

Media Contact: billsticker at gmail dot com (Phone number removed for my own peace of mind)

On a less formal note; Big thank you for the extra traffic to Tim Worstall from this post of his.


Tuesday, July 17, 2007


A few casual observations

Turned a corner into High Street today to see a blue Subaru on the bus stop. Drew my hand held and lengthened my stride, only for the driver to clock my impending presence and leg it; double zero size girlfriend tottering along in his wake, impeded by skin tight white jeans and five inch spike heels. Baseball capped hero gunned his engine before I could log his details in and zoomed off, girlfriend shrieking with the passenger side door still partly open. Bus stop was thus cleared; the service bus pulled in to its duly allotted space, congestion averted; job done.

Half an hour later there is a similar incident with some curiously not dissimilar looking people. Female of double zero dress size in darker clothing, male in spotlessly bright white jeans and top that almost hurts the eyes it was so clean. His Mum must have had shares in Unilever. Exactly the same behaviour; they see me and leg it off the restriction with a screech of tyres. Again, I don’t mind, they are no longer causing an obstruction and I’ve got bigger fish to fry.

Later on, when the rush of the day has died down and I begin to work my way back to base for end of shift, several thoughts strike me. Firstly, I noted a number of analogous couples around town. The girls so skinny that if it wasn’t for the clothes, hair and makeup, you could be forgiven for thinking they were boys. The boys thin with blotchy late adolescent complexions and similar trainers, joggers trousers, sports tops and baseball caps. Likewise their cars shared a number of similar features. The four inch chromed exhaust ends, rear spoilers and body kits looked like they were all from the same catalogue. Rather like the aggressive driving style.

The car I can understand as a compensation for an imagined inadequacy in the above the knee, below the waist winkle department. However; the androgynous girlfriends? Hmm. Perhaps some budding psychiatrist / psychologist could write a thesis on it. From a generally detached viewpoint there’s something that appears particularly homoerotic about it; something vaguely anal. Especially those oversized exhausts. They can’t be penis substitutes, not at the rear of a vehicle.

I confess a bias here; girls who look like females (Curvy and dare I say statuesque) are far more attractive to this lecherous old fart than the skinny items I see tottering around on spike heels (Once called ‘Flat twins’ by the chaps in my peer group). Having two stepdaughters in their late teens / early twenties you tend to get a bit blasé about their semi clad friends wandering past on your way to the bathroom or items of exotic lingerie tangled up with your boxers when it’s your turn to sort out the laundry basket. I must be getting old, because nowadays my response to such a display of female flesh is more “Cover up you silly mare, you’ll catch your death” rather than “Phwoar!” At least, not while my wife is within earshot.

Mind you, I’m also from the school of thought which also states that girls who overindulge in the chocolate department should avoid short skirts or leggings. Those are so unflattering. Plenty of girls dressed like that around this week. Don’t ask me why. Must be something to do with these infernally incessant rain showers.

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Monday, July 16, 2007


Bean counters, a rant

There is a word around our offices that brings out the despair in even the most hardened, no-shit buster Parking Enforcer. Council policy has dictated that these guys can have you fired on the spot should they so desire. Departmental Manager, Corporate Director, Parking Officer, whoever. All are subject to their diktats. When they say ‘frog’, everyone better jump. Or Else. Rather like Terry Pratchett’s ‘Auditors’ of time and space, these guys can royally screw you over if the ‘procedure’ isn’t followed rigorously enough. To them, the rules are God and no thinking outside the box is allowed. By comparison they make even the hardest hearted Ticket Hound look like Snow White on Prozac.

The word is ‘Audit’ and their department oversees everything, and I do mean everything that the Council does. No decision too small, no item too insignificant, no words unconsidered. It all comes under their hideously hidebound microscope. For yea and verily, the most sacred of Council commandments is written in tablets of stone in letters of holy fire; THOU SHALT FOLLOW THE PROCEDURE.

Over the past two years, these guys have been paying us too much attention, even though there was nothing broken to fix. Now after much cheeseparing and numerous staff resignations we are perennially short handed and most of us spend our time covering two beats. To say that our On Street officers are at half strength is an accurate representation of our current dilemma.

There was a time when this wasn’t such a bad job, despite all the crap we had to contend with from our adoring public, but those days are long gone. Oh yes, and it’s all our fault, not the procedures. So what’s new?

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Thursday, July 12, 2007


Crossed wires

I got contacted by a researcher for a Dublin based Radio show, NewsTalk 106 with regard to doing an interview last Monday. Now normally I’m pretty leery about this sort of thing because people have previously wanted me to trek across half the country unpaid to their studio where there might be things like cameras lurking. Call me paranoid, but if you did my particular job you would be. Last year one blogger lost her job but found a new career because a newspaper saw fit to ‘out’ her. The careful shield of anonymity I maintain on this blog, mixing up times, dates and places so I can’t be readily identified helps me keep my job and a steady income. On the other hand I’m quite comfortable with doing interviews over the phone and like to think I come over as articulate, polite knowledgeable and mildly erudite.

A very polite researcher chap called John Fardy spoke to me on Tuesday for just over 20 minutes on the phone and promised to contact me later on. My initial thoughts were “Nice timing guys, I can plug the book.” I kept an ear out for my phone all Tuesday afternoon, but no call. No contact from them on Wednesday either. Thursday was likewise characterised by a deafening lack of phone calls from Ireland. All the time there’s this nagging little thought going through my head that I said something about being okay to talk on Friday, which is true. I’m not working that morning. Maybe that’s it. Perhaps it’s just me getting my wires crossed. Chaps, I’m still up for it if you are. Alternatively if you don’t want to go ahead, just let me know, eh?

Any old road up. Thank you to everyone for the nice comments and e-mails. For example, you might like to know that they do things differently in New Zealand. If I were to get mixed up in anything like this or this, I’d be up on a disciplinary for breaching health and safety guidelines, not a bravery award. Perchance that speaks volumes about what is wrong with life in England at the moment. The politicians make all these noises about ‘civic virtue’ but pitch in to help and you’re on your own, sucker. Although the case of John Smeaton at the Terrorist incident at Glasgow Airport signals a sea change in the attitude of officialdom. A big well done to that man.

Oh yes, and thank you Emily Scaz for the sweet little ‘advert’ below. It may not be exactly as you formatted it, but that’s Microsoft Word for you.

Hat tips for the NZ material to Amanda McIntosh and Simon Lindsay.

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Wednesday, July 11, 2007


Lines and signs, a study in confusion

A year or so ago I got called into the office, ostensibly over a couple of tickets I’d issued the week before. Senior Manager and Kerry, my line manager had an issue over a particular restriction which I and everyone else had thought was all cut and dried.
Senior Manager “Hello Bill. I suppose you understand what this is about?”
Me “Those disabled bays on Cross Street?”
Senior Manager “Correct. What is it you don’t understand about them?”
Me “They’re correctly marked and have a two hour waiting restriction for disabled users between the hours of nine and five.”
Senior Manager “So why have you been booking vehicles that park there before nine am and after five pm?”
Me “Pardon?” Okay, I’m confused.
Senior Manager “So why have you been booking there?”
Me “It’s a disabled bay 24/7 and people without disabled badges have been parking there.”
Senior Manager “No it isn’t.”
Me “I don’t understand.” Hang on, the markings say it is.
Senior Manager “Thought you wouldn’t.” Bloody cheek! Keep your face blank Bill.
Me “But they’re orange disabled bay markings and those don’t stop being disabled bays do they?” At least according to the Highway Code.
Senior Manager “In this particular instance, yes they do.”
Me “Hang on, the signs and plates say..”
Senior Manager “Bill, I don’t care about what the signs and plates say!”
Me “Alright, so what is the restriction?”
Senior Manager “There’s no need for that tone.”
Me “No offence intended, but my question is; I’ve only got what the signs and plates say as my guidelines. If the restriction isn’t what they say, then isn’t that signed restriction invalid?”
Senior Manager “That isn’t your decision to make.”
Me “I appreciate that, but what you’re saying is that the restriction isn’t valid before nine and after five?”
Senior Manager “Well done! You took your time getting there.” I see. Well thanks a bunch for your vote of confidence.
Me “Can I ask another question?”
Senior Manager “Of course.”
Me “I must have booked almost fifty vehicles on that restriction over the past couple of years, how come it’s taken until now to change?”
Senior Manager “As I told you, that’s not your decision to make.”
Me “That wasn’t my question. I was only asking why we weren’t informed sooner?”
Senior Manager “You do as you’re told.”
Me “Okay, I won’t book there after five any more.” I shrug. No skin off my nose. Senior Manager goes down yet another notch in my estimation, as if that were possible.
Senior Manager “Good. Kerry, anything to add?”
Kerry “No, not really.”
Senior Manager stands and on the way to the door addresses me thus; “Bill, you’ve got to learn to do what you’re told.”
Me “Ri-ight. I thought I did.”
Senior Manager, opening door and looking me in the eyes. “Your attitude is beginning to become a problem.”
Me “My attitude?”
Senior Manager “Yes, your attitude.” Senior Manager steps out off meeting room and heads off to another meeting leaving me feeling rather hurt and puzzled. What’s wrong with my attitude? I get out there and do the job to the best of my ability. My last assessment was okay so where the hell is this all coming from? Does Senior Manager suspect about the blog and this is a sly sideswipe to get me to back off? Not a chance.

I pick up my kit and fasten my webbing belt with all its gadgets and gizmo’s as we get ready to leave the meeting room. Kerry picks up her folders and notes.
Me “Kerry, What was all that about?”
Kerry “What?”
Me “All that stuff about my attitude. Where did that all come from?”
Kerry “We’re getting complaints from some of the other guys.”
Me “I hardly see them.”
Kerry “That’s just it, you don’t get involved.”
Me “With what?”
Kerry “You never go out to any of the after work do’s.”
Me “Do I have to?”
Kerry “Well, not really no.”
Me “I do have a life outside work you know. Wife, kids, family.” And the blog.
Kerry “Keep your voice down Bill.”
Me “Sorry, I had no idea I’d raised it.” Although I’m justifiably upset.
Kerry “You need to get more involved with your workmates.” Like hell.
Me “Even if I can’t stand some of them?”
Kerry “Have you got any problems with anyone?” As soon as I find out who the backstabbers are they will have a problem with me. That’s guaranteed.
Me “None I care to share, no.”
Kerry “Don’t go making me any problems Bill.” She warns me.
Me “Who, me?” I say sweetly. I solve problems kid, I don’t make ‘em.
Kerry “Yes, you. No punch ups in the mess.”
Me “Don’t be daft.” I was thinking of taking the mayhem round the back of the multi storey. “Besides, what would it achieve?” I add innocently.
Kerry “Exactly.” She gives me a look that’s not so much old fashioned as Jurassic. I leave the office and get back out on the streets, still fizzing slightly.

Now as far as I’m concerned I’ve done nothing wrong. Where the restrictions are concerned, the goalposts have moved but that’s nothing new. All this stuff about my ‘attitude’ is going to have to be challenged though. I think I know who it is and they’re going to face me when I’m seriously pissed off. Which isn’t an attractive prospect let me tell you.

Update, 2 Weeks later;
My reasoning self and I have had a good long sit down and a man to metaphorical self chat. My reasoning self says that I need the money and what with all the extra outgoings I cannot afford any foolish prideful gestures, even if it would be ultra nice to kick someone’s richly deserving arse to perdition and face the sack for it. My reasoning self says that an English midlands town just over fifteen miles east south east of Birmingham is the best place for our bitchy colleague. Word in the mess is that I’m not the only guy to be massively pissed off by his antics. My shift oppo’s and I all know what he’s like and are electing to stand together on this one.

I know it’s harsh, but he or I have got to go. Not that he will, but we just have to shut the little tattle tale out. Yes I know, according to some ‘experts’ we should sit the arsehole down and talk to him to ‘confront’ his behaviour but sometimes there just aren’t enough hours in the day to mess around like that.

Said unwelcome item just handed in his notice. Huzzah!

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Tuesday, July 10, 2007


Alastair Campbell's Diaries

I keep hearing on the news that Alastair Campbell, one time spin meister of New Labour has published his diaries. Well, he’s not the only one.

‘Walking the Streets – the book not the blog’ is now available. It’s published both as a hard copy paperback and also as a download which should (I hope) appear on shortly.

My publication has several advantages over Mr Campbell’s tome. At 51,000 words, it’s much shorter; it’s funnier and definitely cheaper. It’s got a bit of everything; some rewritten old favourites like ‘Reasons to love and hate Christmas’; plenty of new stuff like ‘the joys of POF’, very little temporarily purloined, and a not a few salacious bits about the antics of my ‘customers’.

The section on ‘How to get off a parking ticket’ alone has been expanded and now runs to 12 pages. I’ve also included technical stuff like contravention codes with some useful explanatory notes for each to the best of my knowledge. Now it’s not meant to be encyclopaedic, that would fill up another five hundred pages with diagrams, case studies, Acts of Parliament and local policy variants from all over the country. That would be a hell of a lot of, to put it bluntly, guff; and not in keeping with the light (and occasionally dark) hearted tone of the book.

As for price, it retails at a reasonable GBP £8.99 for 190 plus information packed pages, including three excellent (Well I think so) sample letters to help challenge that nasty parking ticket. (No I’m not posting them on the blog). For those of you who don’t want the fuss of having to cart old fashioned chunks of low-tech paper around, the book is available as a download at an even more reasonable GBP £2.99.

I mean, how reasonable do you want me to be?


Monday, July 09, 2007


Sorry about this

For those of you keenly awaiting the book ‘Walking the Streets – the book not the blog’ there’s been a bit of a hiccup on the distribution side. The book is written, indexed and ready to roll, but a delay in a money transfer to pay for the ISBN (International Standard Book Number) is holding things up. Nothing more. I could post the link direct from the publishers here right now, but I’m hanging on until I have the ISBN because I don’t feel it’s been published properly until it can be listed on Amazon or Barnes & Noble.

So you’ll have to wait a little (But hopefully not much) longer. Sorry.


Saturday, July 07, 2007


Live Earth

End of shift conversation on Friday afternoon between me and my two beat oppo’s; happy because we’ve got a weekend off.
“First weekend off in months, Bill. You looking forward to it?” Colin asked me.
“Yeah. Last one before I take my holiday.”
“So what you doing this weekend?” Asif was putting his kit back in his locker with his trademark melon slice grin.
“The usual, might take a day trip to the south west if the weather forecast’s good. What about you?” I shrugged.
“I’m watching that Live Earth concert.” Asif sounded happy about it.
“Oh, right.”
“You don’t sound impressed.” Colin remarked.
“I’m not.”
“Going to watch it on TV?” He asked.
“Nah.” I tried to be noncommittal.
“Why’s that?”
“I’m switching the TV off to save electricity.” Asif and Colin laughed. They’re used to my acerbic brand of dry humour.
“No, seriously; you going to watch it?”
“Told you; no.”
“Why not?”
“Because it’s all bollocks, that’s why.”
“What, the concert?”
“No, all this give everything up to save the planet malarkey.”
“Oh yeah, we know that.” Asif shrugged into his street jacket.
“You might just as well rearrange deckchairs on the Titanic.”
“Big con, that’s all it is.” Colin remarked. “Come on, time to go home. We’re not being paid for our time any more.”

We clocked out and went home.

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Monday, July 02, 2007



A couple of days ago three white kids tried to play around with me while I was busy booking a car on a single yellow line. Mock pleading “Don’t book me car!” and other similar nonsense. Did my usual trick of ignoring them and they got bored very quickly and pushed off. One thing about them that made my brow furrow was the accents they put on for my benefit (I suppose).

Let me explain; one of my minor life skills is an ‘ear’ for accents. I’m actually reasonably good at working out where people are from, and what they are saying, but these kids had me foxed. The actual thought that perambulated through my head was ‘why are these kids trying to sound like Rastafarians?’ Although it wasn’t like any Rasta I’d heard before.

It wasn’t until I was reading Tom Reynolds blog this evening that I worked out what it was. I’d never heard the term until Tom linked to it, but apparently it’s a ‘Jafaken’, or fake Jamaican accent put on by ‘wigga’s’, white suburban kids who are about as hard as jelly trying to make themselves sound tough. Reminds me of a kid I knew many years ago who used to put on a fake Glaswegian accent to make himself sound menacing. A gambit that failed spectacularly when he ran into several guys from the real ‘Tartan Army’ who thought he was taking the piss. This was back in the late 1970’s, before Glasgow became a European ‘city of culture’ and the amicability of the Scottish Football teams supporters was markedly less noteworthy. Last I heard, after his bruises faded, he’d signed up on a college course and later became an accountant. Couldn’t have happened to a nicer guy.

Now my lexicon has been expanded by two brand new words. Well I never, you learn something new every day in this job.

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Sunday, July 01, 2007


Tomorrows ban

Just a few idle thoughts whilst out on patrol watching smokers huddling wetly under trees and awnings in the intermittent rain on the first day of the UK’s indoor smoking ban. This annoyed me a little because these are my favourite lurking places and my supply of fresh air was reduced. By the way, for those of you who are interested, you can smoke outdoors. So long as you don’t light up in any publicly used enclosed area like a Mall, Shop, Restaurant or Pub, you’re OK.

As an ex-smoker I feel the ban is a bit draconian; yes, I know smoking is really bad for you, and that it increases the risk of heart attacks, cancer, pre term abortion and other assorted nastiness. I don’t do it any more, but there are others that do and take that chance. They’re grown ups and know the risks – so what?

Regrettably I’m sure total prohibition is only a step away. What will this lead to? No more smoking anywhere at all? Speakeasies for smokers? Organised crime being handed yet another way of making millions? This does tend to beg the question; what’s the next candidate for a ban?

One of the things I’ve noticed over the years is that these issues tend to come in stages; first there is the irate voice in the wilderness, then a minority campaign by the ‘concerned’ followed by several abortive attempts at a ban. Next come some half arsed measures like banning public consumption; next follows total prohibition, followed by liberalisation a few years later because the ban proves unenforceable. Hunting anyone? Fishing shortly to follow?

Alcohol is next in the frame obviously; the media outcry over ‘binge drinking’ is quite ferocious, so picking that as the prime candidate isn’t one for Einstein. My take on it is; what do you expect when you allow extended licensing hours for the sale of Alcohol, especially in a country where people are culturally conditioned to drink large quantities in short sessions. Mind you, in countries where Alcohol is forbidden to all but a few, civil unrest and violent insurrection seem quite common. Where a little civilised tipple is permitted and even encouraged, life is seems more laid back. Unless you’re an aggressive type with an excess of testosterone and a chip on your shoulder, that is.

If we have any form of Prohibition, we should look at how it was tried in the 1920’s and 1930’s in the USA (Amongst other places), and look what happened there. Organised crime built, and continues to build, empires on the illicit sales of alcohol (Amongst other substances).

After alcohol, what will be next on the ban list? Well my money is on coffee. It’s got a number of factors which are almost guaranteed make the ‘ban everything’ brigade target its consumption. For one thing, it’s very American. To some people anything remotely connected with the USA is anathema (Even some Americans feel this way). Their virulent hatred passes irrationality and has more than a hint of being well over the event horizon of complete frothing insanity and accelerating. Their thought processes seem to follow this general route; they hate America, ergo America is evil; Coffee is predominantly an American habit, therefore Coffee is evil. Not because Coffee, or Coffee shops are really that bad, but because of the USA connection. To my mind that’s rather like wanting to shut down all the Chinese takeaways because you don’t like the foreign policy objectives of the Peoples Republic of China. In addition there is already a groundswell of semi organised whining against the Coffee shops that will probably culminate in a number of media outcries (Rather like in the 19th century), followed by an attempt at some sort of ban.

Of course there are the ‘health’ issues. Over consumption of Coffee can be bad for you, it’s a diuretic (Make you want to wee more) and even mildly addictive. Although this can also be said of teas, some of which have a higher tannin and caffeine content than coffee.

Strangely enough, many of these complaining voices appear to have a religious or pseudo religious foundation. A lot of the ‘anti’ arguments (Coffee, alcohol, tobacco) appear to have their complaints couched in phrases cocooned within religious or politico-religious imagery. If they (the complainants) don’t like other people obtaining gratification from a practice, they are often heard to describe it as ‘un-Christian’, ‘anti-Islamic’, ‘anti-Zionist’, or ‘anti-pagan’. Never mind that the derided practice or substance was not around when said religious factions holy books / scripture were originally written. Their misdirected zeal scatters like shrapnel. Furthermore, it is my observation that said complaining voices seem to be guilty of making up their own prejudices as they go along. It does not really seem to be anything to do with religion at all. They’re just anally retentive power freaks who use it for their own twisted agendas.

This seems particularly true as it seems to me that people of a certain mindset are drawn towards the evangelical, of whatever religious persuasion. They can’t attain power any other way, so they use the smokescreen (Heh!) of religion or politics to obtain it. That’s how they obtain their gratification. The ‘comments’ section of any daily newspapers website seems to attract these armchair prohibitionists (Of whatever kidney) like wasps to jam.

To my examination, all this talk of “It’s bad for you” looks more like a power trip than a health thing. Over consumption of anything is very bad for you, but that doesn’t mean we should ban everything certain minority pressure groups don’t like. Lets face it; you can even overload your system with water if you work hard enough at it. Under certain conditions even oxygen can prove fatal. Try banning either of those and see what happens.

Failing that, why don’t the ‘ban everything’ faction try breatharianism? Then see what happens.

Update: There have been a couple of stories in the mainstream press alleging that a ban on smoking outdoors is imminent. Funnily enough, when you click on the links the stories have been replaced by less inflammatory pieces.

Incidentally, to those commenters who have made some very wordy posts re how good the ban is, and how it is not the top of a 'slippery slope'. Please read your history. Prohibition of Alcohol swept in on a wave of middle class approval too. Don't take my word for it. So long as this pack of jokers are in power, the trend will continue.

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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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