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Thursday, May 31, 2007

 

Erm, actually……

I’ve been busy recently, mainly with the book, but also battling a slight addiction to The West Wing. Have ploughed through seasons 1 to 3 in the past two weeks, and I’ve noticed that our local video store also has seasons 4, 5, 6 & 7 in stock. Posting might get even more patchy than it has been for a while.

Nevertheless, I’m still keeping a weather eye on my sitemeter statistics and discovered odd referrals coming from this article in the Guardian Online from which I draw the quote;

The big brother forces at traffic HQ can't be that astute, though - they haven't yet rumbled his blog.
Well actually this isn’t very accurate, as quotes and samples from this blog have been circulating around our office for the past year. Gave me a bit of a turn when I first saw it. For a few seconds I was convinced I’d been outed before I took a deep breath and got a grip. Said samples have even been put up in our mess and the tea room at control. Fingers have been pointed, but they have no evidence and I’m saying nothing.

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Monday, May 28, 2007

 

Some news of very little import

Well it’s happened. The book of ‘Walking the Streets’ (The book not the blog) by Bill Sticker is almost ready for the printers. A lot of stuff that never made the blog is in there, with some of the better blog entries rewritten and improved. Names, times and dates will remain changed in order to circumvent any putative legal action; but aside from that I have striven to be factually correct. In other words; yes it happened; these are the events, but I’ve changed the names and places to protect both innocent and guilty alike.

Useful things to know like the section ‘getting off a parking ticket’ have been expanded, along with more detail, sample letters and hopefully some better jokes. I say hopefully because sarcasm, irony and bathos are lost on some people, who are only reduced to fits of guffaws over things like a Kitten falling onto a running chainsaw. Please note that I do not have any stories that they will find amusing. The book is not aimed at that audience.

Publication date is hopefully 20th June 2007.

If this is not to your specific taste, to quote one of those rather endearing Americanisms – “Bite me.”

Update;

The book (Which is much better written and I hope funnier than the blog) will be available solely through Amazon.com to begin with. If anyone wants a signed copy, well, I might be doing a quick 'guerilla signing' tour of the UK at various evening dates during July 2007. In August I shall be elsewhere. More about that later.

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Monday, May 21, 2007

 

The truth about CCTV

Now in my day to day I have a fair bit of contact with the people who work the cameras for CCTV. The good operators are a positive boon in time of need and I have nothing but praise for them; they take your requests seriously and don’t ask stupid questions like “How do you know it’s been broken into?” or don’t believe you when you call in with a potentially serious situation like a quite obvious stalker.

The problems I’ve come across when working is that cameras are just that, cameras. Lenses get streaked with water when it’s raining, or the council has bought cheap tat for a relay or camera and the definition is utter crap (This is more common than you might think) and a camera twenty metres away cannot even read a vehicles number plate, even in perfect lighting conditions. (This happened to me recently)

Certain cameras are poorly sited and only cover 30% of the area they are supposed to cover. Bunting and flags erected for special occasions can block their view, not to mention heavy foliage in spring and summer. Also, they tend to suffer from a restricted field of vision, because of the very nature of lenses they can only focus, even with digital technology, over a 90 degree field of view. True they can swivel within their mounts etc, but what this boils down to is that if the camera ain’t pointing, the operator can’t see it or know when to hit the ‘record’ button. Not only that, but most cameras have ‘blind’ spots where they cannot ‘see’, such as for example, a radius (Sometimes tens of metres wide) directly below the camera and not covered by other cameras as very few camera mounts will allow them to see directly downwards. This can often be obviated by siting each camera within view of another – but not always, which if one were to produce a map of coverage, it would prove very sketchy indeed. Such a ‘map’ would thus demonstrate that certain areas are covered very well, whilst others are effectively ‘invisible’ for much of the time.

As for ‘Big brother’ surveillance. Well there are a number of hoops the local Police have to jump through to get hold of CCTV evidence, and no, there’s no centralisation of these things (As yet, thank God). There was an account of the aforesaid hoop jumping on the subject over at PC Bloggs a while back, where she wrote about how difficult it could be getting the CCTV images required.

Here is how you play a DVD clip on a Blandmore police computer:
  • Load up the clip.

  • Find it is incompatible with Windows 98 (as is everything).

  • Phone up IT and ask them what to do.

  • Fill in a form.

  • Submit the form online and by post. This is sufficient if you really can't work the fax machine.

  • Wait for two-three days while it receives Approval from the Budget-Meisters.

  • Not Approved.

  • Send the clip to Tech Services.

  • Wait three weeks.

  • Receive a VHS tape back from Tech Services.

  • Search the station for a video-recorder.

  • Locate one at last.

  • Search the station for a working television.

  • Locate one at last.

  • Play the clip.

  • Discover that all quality has been lost in the transfer from digital to video, and the offender is now just a pulsating ball of static.


On the other hand; where CCTV does work well is with a beat presence ‘on the shop floor’ as it were. For example; a freshly stolen vehicle was followed through town recently by our lot in the following exchanges over the radio. You’ll have to put up with the fact that I have shortened the gaps between sightings considerably. Patrol numbers, call signs, registrations and road names have all been changed to protect both guilty and innocent.

From my own point of view I quite enjoy these little interludes; they break up the plodding routine of the day, and you can almost hear the adrenalin over the air.

Cameras. “This is a message from Cameras to all Parking Wardens. Please be on the lookout for a Black Audi A6, registration Golf Oscar Zero Seven, Zulu Oscar Delta. Vehicle last seen exiting Quick Street.”
“Cameras, this is 411. Vehicle entered Holland Road northbound.”
“Cameras, this is 543. Repeat VRM please.”
“543, registration Golf Oscar Zero Seven, Zulu, Oscar Delta.”
“Confirmed.”
“Cameras, this is 514. Vehicle seen heading through Low Road towards High street at speed.”
“611 here. He’s taken a left into Rough End Lane.”
“Cameras to all Parking Wardens. The vehicle has been stopped by Police. Thanks all.”


Here’s another radio transcript account of how one of our lot got serious verbal from a driver who had obviously been drinking and got a little instant justice for once.

“Cameras, this is 511, over.”
“Go 511.”
“Got a problem customer just been swearing at me for booking his car. He smells like he’s been drinking. Can you get a camera on me please? Corner of High and Low Street.”
“Just a moment 511. Okay, I have you. I see him.”
“511 here cameras, he’s getting back into his car in the bus stop.”
“Registration please 511.”
“Registration is Zulu Foxtrot Five Four Alpha Mike Tango. Red Peugeot 307, over.”
“Confirmed. I’m passing this to despatch.”

Ten minutes later I’m walking down Houghton Road a mile across town and watch the Red Peugeot being pulled over by a double crewed Police car. The news comes back to us ten minutes later that the driver was well over the limit and had been arrested for Drink Driving. Result.

My point is that CCTV is not the whole answer to crime and needs people on the street to really make it work. Real Police, PCSO’s, shop security, Us; whoever. Without feet on the street it’s rather two dimensional.

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Banter on the Sabbath

Patrolling Car parks early on Sunday morning. The sun is shining and I’m feeling quite relaxed when two elderly ladies (in their late 70’s I think, and dressed for Church) approached me and one spake thusly;
“What are you doing working on a Sunday?”
“It’s the job madam. The Council decided that we have to patrol seven days a week, so here I am.” I gave her a polite smile.
“Hmph!” She rejoindered with not a little scorn. “God’s word is that you should not have to work on the Sabbath day.”
“Ah madam.” I replied. “Regrettably it is my Managers will that I work on Sundays, so again, here I am.”
“Well you shouldn’t have to.” Said her friend.
“True, but damned souls like me are forced to walk the earth, or rather these car parks, from early in the morning to late at night, whatever the day.”
“Sinner eh?” They both gave me broad, denture lined grins.
“Afraid so.”
“God said even sinners should not have to work though. It’s in the commandments.”
“Yes Madam, but I believe I come under the ‘Ox down the well’ exemption.”
“Cheek.” The first woman laughed at me. “You’re too clever for this job.”
“True Madam. Unfortunately I’m probably, as my father often observed, too clever for my own good.”
“God will punish you.” Her friend warned me, but she said it with a smile.
“He’s not already?” I countered. They laughed again.
“Well he should punish the people who make you work on Sundays.”
“If you’d put in a good word for me Madam, I’d be extremely grateful. As for my Managers, all thunderbolts gratefully accepted.”

They got the joke and we all parted with smiles.

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Friday, May 18, 2007

 

Traffic Warden - the movie

Well, all I can say is that Walking the Streets for a living doesn't seem to have done David Tennants career any harm. One day a Traffic Warden the next - The Universe! (I wish)



For those of you who don't know, this is what he's up to nowadays.

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Thursday, May 17, 2007

 

Parking Space fight

Who says the English can't express their feelings?

Monday, May 14, 2007

 

Not rocket science

It is a common cliché that something is ‘not rocket science’ to wit, not very complicated at all. What I currently do for a living is not exactly the most complex job in the world and the rules I enforce are hardly enough to give the weakest neuron a bad day at the office.

Yet day on day I am forced to stare in wonder at the inane level to which the public sinks when crossing my path. The highway code is quite explicit and simple. Let’s face it, with some of the bozo’s I come across it has to be. Their heads are so tightly wedged up between their pert little buttocks that it beggars belief.

For example; today I was asked a specifically framed question by a member of the motoring public to which I gave a specific and very simple answer. This was obviously not what the driver wanted to hear, so he asked me the very self same question again. Once more I answered accurately and precisely, wasting not an extraneous syllable. The driver appeared not to understand and asked the same question yet again and complained that I had given him a ‘complicated’ answer. In exasperation I gave him precise chapter and verse, carefully explaining each step to the very brief and simple concept. Yet again, my words appeared not to sink in. Obviously this driver wanted me to tell him what he wanted to hear. I demurred by trying my damndest, and in the politest way possible, to explain why I had given him the answer I had. This was not good enough for him and he complained mightily.

Fortunately for my overheated wits my radio crackled with a call demanding my more urgent attention and this gave me the excuse to break off and do some proper work instead. I really hate it when someone is so determined to fly in the face of the evidence that they will try and bully you into being untruthful. As matters stand the person concerned is quite welcome to do what he wants, but to be aware that he will get a ticket if he takes the piss. Especially on my watch.

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Wednesday, May 09, 2007

 

Monday, Bloody Monday

Plenty of sirens this bank holiday Monday as various Police response cars dopplered around the town, but no foot patrols spotted. Just us lot as usual on our errand to try and keep the streets running smoothly. Not that we always succeed.

Today I have had a vehicle driven at me (One I had just ticketed – but it’s a risk you take in this game), and several quite virulent exchanges with some very pushy members of the General Dyslexic.
For example; “Restrictions don’t apply on Bank Holidays” Says who?
Me; “Yes they do sir, and that’s why I booked your car.”
Retort; “You utter Cunt!” Ah, an intellectual.
Me; “Good day sir.”
Retort; “Was until you ruined it!”
That was the general tone all day. Some people simply felt aggrieved that they couldn’t park where the hell they liked. My job is to see that they don’t; ergo the multiple conflicts.

I even had one very silly person indeed begin to raise his fists to me. I just folded my arms and stood back just a little out of his reach, looking straight into his eyes. That way I’d at least have had a clue about when he was going to ‘kick off’ and do my best to dodge. What actually happened was that there were a couple of tense seconds before he made a cry of frustration and stalked off. Had he tried to make good his threat my cap and badge would have probably come off, and then I’d just be a private citizen and allowed to defend myself (Although I’d probably have been fired for it – but bollocks to that). Which leads me to this old chestnut;
“What do you say to a six foot plus Traffic Warden with a Judo belt and wearing steel toe caps?”
“You’re a complete twat?”
“Wrong – try again.”
“Oops, sorry Officer, I won’t do it again.”
“Correct! Now push off or I’ll book your car.”


One mistake I never make is to turn my back and walk away before they do. That’s an invitation to get knocked down from behind. If I do get attacked, I at least want to know where it’s coming from. Still got the shakes for twenty seconds after it had all calmed down. Covered it up well, and no one seemed to notice but me. It was just a case of “Next!” and getting on with the job.

Notwithstanding, I had to keep my mouth tightly shut and take all the crap handed out instead. By shifts end I was seriously pissed off, and it took almost an hour of soothing words from my dear lady wife to cool my fevered wits from fever pitch.

Incidentally, none of this went on any report form. If I’d tried to do that, I’d never have got any patrolling done on Monday. This form filling is all a big game of ‘cover your arse’ anyway. Not for me, but for the higher ups, so they don’t get blamed or sued for anything (Perish the thought). At the moment of writing I’m still so steamed (Two days later) that if summoned to account for my behaviour by Management I’m inclined to simply sit down and wait for them to finish before saying, “Is that all?” then leave the room to get back on patrol. They can fire me if they like, but I at least won’t have to take shit from both sides of the fence without any comeback anymore.

Sometimes using your brains isn’t enough and you just want to lash out and sod the consequences. I hate being an unwilling victim.

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Thursday, May 03, 2007

 

Gruesome

I've been checking my site traffic, and it seems quite a number of visits have been drawn by my links to the remains of Suicide Bombers, and what really happens when they push the button.

I shall post the link to those images on my sidebar, so those of you seeking enlightenment about what happens when someone detonates a bomb wrapped around their person, just follow the links. I shall put a permanent link on my sidebar for those who wish to view such material.

Just as a caveat for those tempted to such a cause of action; please be aware that there is a body of medical opinion that the head 'lives' on for around two minutes after decapitation. This means that neurons are still firing and thoughts still happening after decapitation. Gruesome isn't it? I mean, who in their right mind would choose that as a way out? Apart from a complete and utter pillock of course.

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Wednesday, May 02, 2007

 

What do you do that is worthwhile?

It’s been a nice, but rather uneventful day where I’ve been left meandering along without much urgency (Despite the usual nonsense from ‘them upstairs’). I don’t know what triggered off this memory, but this particular little anecdote comes from a couple of years ago. To tell you the truth I’d forgotten about it as I’ve experienced so many of these mini confrontations in my job.

As I recall, I’d just booked a car on a ‘no loading’ restriction and was catching a tongue lashing from the driver (Excuse me, just who broke the law here?) As usual, his tirade turned into one of those ad hominem verbal attacks. Fortunately I was pretty kicked back on the day and feeling unwilling to tolerate the cascade of verbal crap being heaped upon my person, so I elected to do the old ‘rope a dope’ with my verbal assailant.

The booked party (An Audi driver, if memory serves me correctly) was harping on about how good he was at his job, and how crap I was for doing mine. All I could do was stand there and look into his eyes, all the time thinking “What a pillock” as he railed at me.

“You know what your problem is don’t you?” He stormed as I stayed silent. “You just like to demonstrate your power over people you dickless wonder!” Really? Mrs S will be disappointed by this sudden conjugal failure tonight. Like hell. “You really get off on it don’t you? You really enjoy the tiny ego trip of handing out parking tickets don’t you?” He was waving his hands about, but looked too much of a ranter to ‘kick off’, so I let him blather on without reaching for the panic button. “You tell me, right. You tell me, what you’ve done today that has any meaning. Anything that has done any good, eh, eh?”

I paused a moment, scratched my chin in thought before vouchsafing; “I don’t know sir, but I do seem to encourage some unusually spontaneous outbreaks of sudden honesty.”

With an “Argh” of frustration he abruptly returned to his vehicle and left with a screech of tyres. Which just goes to show that the only words worth having are the last ones.

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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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