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Wednesday, February 28, 2007

 

Skiving

Word has come down from on high that we’re skiving. To wit; swinging the lead, goldbricking, bunking off, and playing hookey. To further expand; apparently we’re avoiding the work we are paid to do – all of us.

Well bugger me with a large dirty parsnip; I never knew I could avoid work because I’m so heavily scrutinised at the moment I can’t even fart without having to record the fact with times dates and locations. I have to log on to each street and record the fact with a test ticket from each pay and display machine I check. The same for car parks. The ‘test ticket’ has to be kept in a special place to be retrieved so I can prove where I was. Everything I do has to be proven. I’m actually quite gobsmacked that they don’t ask for a urine and faecal sample to prove I actually had a toilet break.

My managers are so fucking paranoid that I will stop and smell the roses that my movements are recorded and scrutinised daily. If I take too long on a street or car park they want to know why and what I was doing. If I didn’t book a vehicle they want to know why. If this is common to all parking enforcers, no wonder we’ve got the reputation of being a lot of lemon sucking misanthropes. You’d be miserable too.

Our management really know how to motivate people, don’t they?

The only thing that cheers me up is the fact that most people I talk to are legal decent, honest and truthful. Just a little careless sometimes.

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Monday, February 26, 2007

 

Counter culture

This is a concept I’ve been trying to put into some coherent form of words for some time now. Trying to quantify what is actually the matter with things, why people are so dag-blasted unhappy all the time (Including me). Recently, what with one thing and another, I’ve had the time to think about such matters while walking the streets of my hometown.

Taking a leaf out of the inestimable Mrs Sticker’s book, I compiled a list of ‘Unhappiness factors’

1 Dissatisfaction (With life, looks, job etc.)
2 Depression, Reactive (Linked to loss)

Okay, as the old cliché goes, how can I make my life better? Count my blessings? Nah. Thank goodness I’m still breathing / not a starving person in Africa? Nope. None of that. How about the following;

Get better job / start up my own business. Not a bad idea, but then that raises the issue of how to avoid the ministrations of the ‘bean counters’ who can’t rest until they have a numerical value for everything and take the long way around getting the figures?

I could of course apply to be a PCSO. Nice idea, not much weekend working, and not so many late nights. No justifying every single waking moment of your day via a hand held computer. No having to log everything including the tweely named ‘comfort breaks’. All that and much better money. They’re actually recruiting in my area.

Unfortunately I’ve just had a look at who may and may not be a PCSO, and I can’t (Old financial problem, don’t want to discuss it). So there goes that idea down the toilet. Bugger. Back to the keyboard then.

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Friday, February 23, 2007

 

Much cheapness

It never ceases to amaze me how cheap some people can be. How much will fifty pence (50% of a pound sterling) buy you nowadays? Not a hell of a lot. Maybe a chocolate bar and a bit. A pint or two of milk. Less than that in some emporia.

My question comes from the two rather flash looking motors I booked today without pay and display tickets. Let’s look at the sums; you buy a car priced at £30-50,000, then don’t bother with a measly 50p pay and display ticket. Do they really want a Parking ticket? Is it some act of bravado against ‘the system’? Is it perchance one of those one up-manship things where they deliberately want to get penalised so they have something to complain about at posh dinner parties?

“It was frightful my dear, that nasty parking warden put one of his awful tickets on my car.”
“How utterly beastly for you darling.”
“How dare he, I mean, couldn’t he see it was a Range Rover Vogue? Horrid little man. Just because I wouldn’t buy one of those ugly display ticket thingies.”
“Yes, all Traffic Wardens should all be hanged from the nearest lamppost. Vultures, that’s all they are, vultures.”
“Just another one of Gordon Browns ghastly stealth taxes.”
“It’s disgusting. We shouldn’t have to pay for parking. After all, we do pay our council tax.”
“Only when our accountants can’t write it off on a technicality darling.”


And so on, etc. I’ve actually had some plummy voiced persons stand there (Post parking ticket) and argue vehemently that because they are a taxpayer (When their accountants can’t wangle it as a tax dodge); they (and only they) should have free car parking. I couldn’t agree less; even if their permit was a residents pass from one of the posher London suburbs, so what? It wasn’t valid in my car park.

In the face of such blatant provocation I just stood there with a politely ironic cocked eyebrow and tried hard not to let my traitorous mouth vouchsafe “What an unmitigated twat you are” at them. It’s bad enough having to deal with all the low-life’s trying to piss around with the regulations I’m paid to enforce, but when it’s someone who takes the ‘moral high ground’ when they are so obviously in the wrong – my sympathy quotient bottoms out. Fifty lousy pence. How cheap can you get?

Not only that, it’s the double standard that annoys the bejasus out of me. Don’t do as I do, do as I say. Punish him, not me, officer. It’s like I’m being treated as their personal servant. As if I were not a human being.

As I have often made clear; I do not care about conspicuous wealth, or lack of it. My business is impartial enforcement. Yet sometimes there is quiet satisfaction when I make an entrance to a car park and all I can hear is the grumble of guilty engines starting.

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

 

Plot is the lost

When I read stuff like Professor Hill’s report saying that there should be some form of restriction on where you can live if you earn more money than most, it makes me think that the lunatics are running the asylum and it’s time to butt out and admit defeat. Forgive me for being thick but I thought the whole point of making a pile of cash from hard work was to get out of the slums and live in a nicer area, not to keep swimming in the same old cesspool.

First we’ve got that prick Hain telling City High-flyers to give up their hard earned to spoon feed the non working population, now this load of garbage. It’s just naked grasping jealousy cloaked by a dubious mirror-morality.

Now if I see a man with a brand new Bentley, my thoughts are first; nice motor, is he on a restriction? This thought is quickly followed by; I wish I could earn enough to have one. At no point do my thoughts run; Woss ‘e got that for then? Shouldn’t be allowed. That sort of thinking is for congenital losers in my book. You make the money; you deserve the rewards. Why shouldn’t you?

Mind you, it won’t stop me booking the vehicle in question. I’ve handed out enough tickets to people who park blocking disabled bays and bus stops and then flat out ignore me for the seven minutes it takes to log their details, take photographs, do the full proper observation time and write up my notebook; then whine like a wonky transmission and say “It’s all a rip off” when I hand them the PCN. Excuse me pal, this ain’t a tax note, this is for parking where you shouldn’t.

The thought occurs that money may buy you nice things, but Mister Overpaid Footballer’s Hummer gets exactly the same treatment as Mister Dole Warrior’s Rambling Wreck. You’ve got to be fair and impartial haven’t you?

On a lighter note; here’s a couple of links about Car Park insanity (From Malcolm in the Middle I think) and a Vlog entry about a Parking scam and how to beat it in over in Montreal, Quebec.

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

 

Exit Strategy

Life, as I often observe to myself, is a funny old thing; we get born, we live, bring up the next generation and eventually die. Hopeless as this might sound it is still a statement loaded with near infinite possibilities.

If I hadn’t gone broke and had to take this job; this blog would never have been born and surprise of surprises, found a readership. A surprisingly diverse and startlingly intelligent readership. Not all of you of course, but many more than I could ever have hoped for.

There have been a couple of rather uncalled for comments (I think, but then there would, wouldn’t there?) that have suggested I’m too thick to be doing anything else than slap parking tickets on cars. My response? We can all be unlucky in our careers and said commenters should really be thinking ‘there but for the grace of God go I’. Considering some of the humungous cock ups I’ve seen done by some very supposedly ‘clever’ people; well let’s ignore the crap spelling and grammar in high level documentation and just point out things like large project overruns and applications which never properly worked until myself and people like me went in and fixed them. Those in glass houses who get paid megabucks more than I ever did should be a little more reluctant to cast the odd half brick. You know who you are.

Notwithstanding, there is light at the end of my particular tunnel, and it isn’t some bugger with a torch bringing me a whole shedload of more parking related aggravation. It is my fond hope soon to be winging my way to pastures new with a song in my heart and a your, fuck, job, lousy, springing light elemental from my wearied lips.

I feel better already.

For those of you thinking that this will be the end of my occasionally entertaining online writing, fear not. I speak not of this blog, but the blog which is to follow, one whose content I am not worthy to outline, but which it is my destiny to contribute to (HG2TG ham a bit too thickly sliced there Mr Sticker). Seriously though, there will be a follow on blog which will be quite different from ‘Walking the Streets’, and the occasional update may find its way here as well, especially as I promise to finish writing the book of this blog sometime in the next six months.

Honestly guv.

Saturday, February 17, 2007

 

Oi be a clever bugger oi be

Your Language Arts Grade: 100%

Way to go! You know not to trust the MS Grammar Check and you know "no" from "know." Now, go forth and spread the good word (or at least, the proper use of apostrophes).

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Well, maybe not always; or I'd have a 'proper job' as some people are so keen to tell me (Usually scruffy looking young men shouting from battered looking tradesmens vehicles as they pass by at speed).

Thursday, February 15, 2007

 

Road pricing

It doesn’t surprise me in the least that the incompetent British ‘New Labour’ government is planning to introduce road pricing and ignoring the million and a half opposition. Not at all, not a tad, smidgeon or a single iota. They just see the farcical figures on a spreadsheet and completely ignore the technical and social difficulties it will create.

First point of failure is not the technology itself; GPS is a proven technology. The problem lies in the implementation; what if some clever dicky were to find a way of reprogramming their ‘black box’ (And some clever dicky will - that much is a given) so that it did not respond to the transponder signal and report his vehicles position. His ‘black box’ would not be breaking the law because it would be legally fitted to his vehicle. It would merely be faulty and therefore his ‘road price’ could not be calculated, or wrongly undercalculated. Others would simply fail to have a ‘black box’ installed in their car, and a small growth industry would arise in to disabling / sabotaging the GPS.

One small caveat here; one of my ‘duties’ is to give members of the public directions. It’s a regular occurrence for me to come across a fuming van driver cursing his Sat-Nav for sending him two miles in the wrong direction. The exchange usually goes something like this; I see a van driver sitting in his cab on an active restriction, sometimes in a ‘No unloading’ zone. I wander over and try to catch his eye as he struggles with his paperwork and fiddles with the Sat-Nav box.
Me; “You lost?”
Driver; “Er yeah, d’you know where Other Street is? My Sat-Nav keeps on taking me round the one way system backwards.”
Me; “End of this road, first left at the Island, second right half a mile up.”
Driver; “Oh, cheers.”
Driver buggers off restriction – job done.

Let’s do a little joined up thinking here; guess who gets to chase the hundreds of thousands of vehicles without ‘black boxes’ for non compliance? How many officers is that going to tie up when the rest of the crime stats go through the roof? Could it be our hard pressed Police, who seem to be having a few problems putting sufficient officers on the streets at the time of writing? For the reasons why, just read Dave Copperfield’s blog (I’ve got this awful nagging feeling that we work within twenty miles of each other – don’t ask me why).

Perhaps we should legally limit the decision making powers of government to stuff which they are qualified to deal with? Most Lawyers and Politicians are not qualified to make decisions on the high level use of Information Technology the same way as a high level IT implementation specialist would not be on the finer points of the laws concerning Tort.

From what I can see, the current crop of politicians doesn’t understand the issues involved. They promised us ‘Joined up Government’ (Yeah, right) but seem congenitally incapable of delivering on that promise. Just look at the Hunt ban, a nightmare to enforce, easy to dodge, and has alienated whole swathes of the countryside. How about the handling of the Foot and Mouth outbreak? They had to call in the Army for crying out loud. Just like the Wilson years in the mid to late 1960's and early 1970's. Centralise everything and royally fuck it up.

Just an idle thought on my days off…….

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Wednesday, February 14, 2007

 

Reasons to Emigrate part 1

Ever get the feeling that we in the UK are being mugged? Mrs S and I were checking out the current average gasoline prices in the USA and Canada to cost out a fly / drive trip we’re planning for next year. Lowest average Gasoline price for unleaded premium in Texas at retail prices currently works out at £1.07 a US gallon. Not a litre - a gallon; which means that when you pay around 85 pence per litre in the UK, you are paying roughly £3.21 per US Gallon or £3.86 per Imperial Gallon. Do the sums and it works out at 45 pence per litre.

Prices vary from state to state, but 50 pence per litre in the USA is considered a high price. Ouch. I can only just about remember when petrol was that price in the UK, over twenty years ago. From what I can make out around 70% of the average UK petrol price goes straight to the government as tax. Ouch two.

Let me do a few sums on that. At 85 pence per litre we as a family currently purchase a full tank of petrol (Around 45 litres) every two weeks just for my wife to commute to work and back with occasional shopping round trips of less than ten miles. I walk or use public transport. Same for the kids. This currently costs us £38.25. The total tax on this works out at about £26.77, the actual cost of the petrol before tax being £11.47. Based upon the mileage we do, we are comparatively light users of motor vehicles. Most commutes are on this basis. Now multiply these figures by the number of vehicles used to do short to medium commutes when there is no convenient public transport link available (As is so often the case in Britain). According to the department of transport, the average travel by car per individual is 7508 miles per year. Making the assumption that average short cycle commute (Journeys of 7-8 miles each) fuel economy is around 35 mpg, this should give a figure of 214 gallons of fuel per year, per person driving, which gives us the figure of just over 975 litres of fuel each. At 85p per litre, that’s £828.75 each in fuel. Now chop 30% of that figure out (Actual fuel cost) which means you pay £248.63 for the fuel and £580.12 in tax per year. Now multiply that by 30 million (The number of taxed and legal cars on UK roads). How much do we shell out in tax on petrol alone? £17,403,600,000. Almost £17.5 billion. That’s a healthy chunk of public money, even if it does only amount to less than half a percent of the total. See here for the public spending pie chart for 2005/06. Vehicle excise licences on cars alone raises about £4.2 billion. £21.5 billion for cars alone; never mind goods vehicles and motorcycles. That’s over a fifth of the NHS budget, or two thirds of the UK’s Defence budget. Don’t ask me what the 130 billion is listed as ‘other’, and the idea that we are shelling out a grand total of £172 billion on Social Services and benefits catches my breath. £302 billion, which is almost two thirds of UK national Government spending. Holy kablooie Batman! That’s a whole pile of money!

There is a saying I think from the Godfather by Mario Puzo, that “One man with a briefcase can steal more money than a hundred men with guns”.

I’m not saying anything more, work the rest out for yourselves. It’s Valentine’s Day and my wife and I are off to have a nice civilised meal for two.

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Tuesday, February 13, 2007

 

Sick

After the cold and damp of the last couple of weeks, our numbers are at an all time low. A few of us thrive in the cold weather, but for those more delicate flowers, the cold and wind has scythed them down to snot ridden heaps of coughing, shivering, sneezing flesh. I’m not too keen on hot weather myself, and often find the chill rather enervating. Mrs S has observed on more than one occasion that I have a ‘cold weather metabolism’. This adaptation probably comes from prolonged hours in the saddle of a motorcycle in all weathers not so many years ago.

Another advantage at present is that those who are left get the pick of the beats. No more ‘long walks spoiled’ which is nice because my new boots are still chafing a little. Never mind, Kerry, my boss, is pleased to see us as, to put it in her own words; “You lot are all Duracell bunnies, you just keep on going no matter what.” I think she means it quite innocently, not referring to something like this when she hears of the hardier souls among us heading out on patrol when others just want to come indoors during rough weather. For myself the reason is purely selfish; I just like to pick a sheltered spot out of the way where I can daydream a bit, away from my noisier brethren who think the sound of their own raucous voices is the loveliest sound in the world; and as for the stench of day old microwaved curry (Horrified shudder). Why do you think we call it ‘The Mess’?

Any old road up, I’m feeling quite smug at present as I’m just going to start another ‘long weekend’ type rest break. Life could be a whole lot worse.

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Monday, February 12, 2007

 

Show of Hands - Roots


Cracking, just cracking.

Incidentally, thank you to Tom Paine at the last ditch for the link.

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Friday, February 09, 2007

 

Slush

Well there goes winter, the thaw has been busily wiping the snow from the streets, leaving sad little piles of sagging white mush where kids (And a surprising number of adults) built snowmen. I’ve been patrolling most of the day, but not doing much (apart from keeping out of everybody’s way) as during the worst of the weather the lines and signs have been mostly obscured. My main focus has been staying warm, keeping dry, and not falling over and making a complete arse of myself.

The news has been full of the H5N1 ‘Bird Flu’ scare, with all the prophets of doom leaping merrily from every knothole. Considering that just over 150 people have died in the entire world from this disease, I think the “We’re all doomed” approach is a complete load of bollocks. Not that I dine of Bernard Matthews finest sliced Turkey meat whatever, but the notion that you can catch a respiratory disease from eating something is a little far fetched to say the least. Although I’m not going as far as Boris Johnson did in yesterdays’ Daily Telegraph. I see his point though; the panic just proves what a lot of pussies there are in the mainstream media.

Yes I said pussies; as in lack of backbone, low moral courage quotient. No wonder a handful of religious maniacs are capable of making trouble for everyone else. They seem so scared of not being politically correct they roll over at the merest hint of trouble. They seem to think that the moral high ground is the only ground worth being on.

As I write I’m looking at my Dad’s World War 2 medals; his France and Germany Star, his 1939 – 45 star, and his Italy star; oh yes and his 39 – 45 service medal. Minesweepers, Corvettes, D-Day on Juno beach, Malta Convoys, then at the end of it all repatriating allied POW’s from Japanese prison camps. He wasn’t a hero; just an AB Signals in the Royal Navy. His medals which I inherited from him and hang on to because I'm a sentimental old curmudgoen at heart were just the ones you got for simply being there. One of the supporting cast you might say. Nevertheless, without the simple courage of hundreds of thousands like him, the world would be a much less pleasant place.

It’s such a crying shame that many people are so gutless they get panicky over a little snow, a few loudmouthed fruitcakes, or a disease that can only be transmitted to humans in extreme circumstances. I’m not the bravest bloke in the world, but I can think of better things to be scared of.

Update:
Seems like I'm not the only one who thinks the whole mess is beyond the pale.

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

 

Blame the Lawyers, Politicians and Voters

Having read this mornings Telegraph, I feel the need to stand up and be counted on a particular issue which isn’t to do with parking enforcement. The remarks of the ex – CBI Chief, Sir Digby Jones placed the blame for underachievement in schools squarely on the Teachers. Read the article text here.

Now I’m not a Teacher, nor ever have been; but it seems unfair to blame them for all societies ills when the odds are stacked against them. Over the years, various organisations have stripped them of every protection they ever had. Petty little pressure groups have robbed them of effective sanction. Incidentally – I got caned when I was at school – mainly for behaving stupidly. Not only that but my Dad informed me that if I did wrong and got caned, he’d give me a clip round the ear himself to remind me of my folly.

The lure of easy money from vexatious litigation has also played its part. Schools, and Education departments (Now ‘Child services’) seem to have about as much backbone as a Sea Slug, allowing the compensation chasers an almost unfettered ride. No wonder some Head teachers will refuse to stump up for the extortionate insurance costs for School trips.

My information was gleaned in a long conversation with one of my neighbours, who is about to ‘retire’ from teaching after only six years work post qualification. From all accounts he’s very good at his job, but heartily sick and tired of being shunted from pillar to post by all the nitpicking and never ending inspections and policy changes from on high. After listening to him talk for almost a solid half hour as we walked our respective dogs I genuinely felt sorry for the guy. He has an hour or so a day per class to instil discipline, teach a subject and generally do the parents job for them.

Whose job is this ‘parenting’ lark anyway? Er, excuse me for being a thickie jobsworth, but isn’t it the parents of the children themselves? I personally came late to this parenting game and have had a steep learning curve to negotiate. Nevertheless, our two seem to be turning out okay. I could probably write a book on the subject, but I’m not going to; on the grounds that I’m writing two at the moment and prefer not to spread myself too thinly. Put it this way; Mrs S and I have the ‘Good cop, bad cop’ routine down pat. We work as a team and try to keep our two very feisty charges from going off the rails. It’s difficult, but a lot of effort went into their upbringing and we understand that a couple of good kids with their heads screwed on will do well in the world. Hell, they’re not even mine biologically, but I love them anyway. All we can do is get them ready for the world and leave them with a mental toolkit to do the best they can.

That nails my colours to the mast. Parenting is best done by parents – so long as they can be bothered. Teachers are there to pass on knowledge and technical skills – the social and emotional aspects should not be their concern. Just look at the kids who have good, ‘hands on’ parents. They are motivated, they achieve and they succeed in what they choose to do. These are the families with ‘traditional’ values of hard graft and good behaviour. Their children may well be ‘repressed’ according to some left leaners, but a little repression is good for society as a whole, especially if these poor ‘repressed’ kids go on to be productive and successful people in later life.

The alternative is the ‘loser’ mindset so prevalent, where the kids grow up thinking that adults are their servants and they just don’t have to do anything. Not being motivated to improve themselves except perhaps by winning the lottery, all they have is self gratification via alcohol, drugs, lowest common denominator peer group and meaningless sex. Hollow, empty people with no desire to improve their lot. Of such is a growing section of the electorate built.

Politicians are at fault for pandering to the minority groups who campaigned to strip Teachers sanctions from them. Labour and leftist Politicians of whatever party are at fault for using Education as a tool in their ‘Class War’. Leftist Teachers who tried to use their job to ‘reform’ the ‘system’ from within. Ambulance chaser lawyers who have pandered to the greed of their clients who believe that money can buy them happiness. For all of the aforementioned, education has been the soft target; the source of easy money and votes. Finally, I’d like to lay the blame very firmly on the doorstep of the voters. Yes, the silly sods who got conned into voting each successive bunch of bumbling fools into office.

Perhaps we need to take a good hard look at democracy. Maybe the idea of the universal franchise isn’t such a good one after all. Here’s my thoughts on the matter; if you want to have a say, have a vote; then the right to vote should not be automatic upon attaining majority as at the moment. Excuse me for mooting this, but I’m coming to believe that if you don’t have to work for something – maybe it has no real value.

Here’s a suggestion; maybe there should be some form of public service you have to perform for a couple of years, nothing too easy, to gain the right to vote. Not the army, but something like charity work; community activity; something like that, followed up by a standardised test to see if you have the intelligence to understand the issues put in front of you as a voter. Those with the will and nous to do this get the vote. Those who are content not to have a say don’t have to do it, there should be no compulsion; no coercion. If you can prove you want a say, you should be allowed to, but you have to jump through a few hoops first. Even convicted felons should be allowed to prove themselves this way after their release. My experience tells me that if you want something badly enough, you will change for the better. Perhaps knowing that you have to earn your right to have a say might just be the saving of England.

Just don’t blame the Teachers – okay?
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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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