Tuesday, 25 August 2009


Just the other afternoon, having nipped into our local supermarket in Torpoint, I returned to the car only to find an offending, yellow, sticky square, parking ticket adhered to my windscreen.
“No way!”, I said rather loudly, peeling it off. I was especially aggrieved as I’d Paid and Displayed over the odds as I’d had no small change on me. This entitled me to park, had I wanted to, until the following morning, which is why the date and time on my Pay and Display ticket didn’t expire until the following day.
I read the instructions of my fine and those in the car park itself which suggested that if I pay £2 extra for being over time all would be well. Standing in the car park, muttering to myself about the injustices of the world I considered my options. I could just write and explain to the ‘Transportation’ department of Cornwall County Council sending them my Pay and Display ticket but, as it had confused the car park attendant, then I had and as it transpired –prophetically, grave doubts about the staff at Cornwall County Council, understanding it. I had no option but to pay a further two pounds just in case CCC didn’t believe my story and assumed I’d gone and bought the Pay and Display ticket the following day. Seething, I threw my groceries into the back seat of the car and went back into Sainsbury’s to ask for change of a five pound note. It was very busy. Finally, after fifteen minutes of shifting impatiently from foot to foot and huffing and puffing and grumbling, I was served, received my change and returned to the car. It was a very warm afternoon. The car was hot. In my haste, the carrier bag that I’d oh, so carelessly flung into the car had tipped upside down and the butter, which, in my absence, protested violently at being left in a heated car, had melted. The evidence of which was an unctuous, dark, pool all over the back seat.
I drove home in abject misery. Hubby would be livid, if there is anything he hates more than wasting money then it is a messy car. Scattered crayons, odd socks, sweet wrappers and apple cores have before now, seen him reduced to a gibbering, profane, blood-vessel-bursting, wreck. I had to address the foot square grease stain before he saw it.
Sneaking out of the house moments later with Mr Muscle under my arm, Hubby poked his head around the front door.
“Where are you going?” he asked suspiciously.
Damn. Think. Think.
“Err, I thought I’d clean the car”, I replied, doing my best to get my face to adopt the look of guileless innocence.
“Come again? You? Clean the car? I doubt you’ve done that since you were in the Brownies. You’re up to something, I can tell by your expression. You look shifty”. So much for my acting skills.
“It’s nothing, just a bit of a spill on the back seat”. I was hoping that my breezy manner would deter him from looking; unfortunately not. Not only did he look, he peered, he got in the back of the car, he knelt, he dabbed and he sniffed, he erupted. Then he saw the crumpled, sticky, yellow parking ticket which had rather ignominiously stuck itself to my bottom.
“And what the hell is this?”, he roared.
Guiding him indoors, lest all the neighbours enjoy our domestic showdown, I reassured him that all was well regarding the ticket and that I would be writing to C.C.C to explain the mistake. I was not in the least prepared for their reply which was as follows: ‘After checking our system, we found the ticket that you purchased on that day’. Closure then surely. Alas not. Apparently and ‘in this instance only, the Council is willing to accept a £10.00 administration fee’. Excuse me? We have to pay for their mistake? Where is the sense in that?
To compound this bureaucratic injustice we had yet another run in with ‘Transportation’ yesterday. After a sojourn to Liskeard where the children were rushed their lunch, lest our current Pay and Display ticket run out, we returned to the car the kids still sucking on a few baked beans, only to find yet another yellow, sticky ticket patch on our windscreen.
I peeled it off in disbelief. Failure to pay and display? Are parking attendants visually impaired these days? The Pay and Display ticket had been slightly obscured by the tax disc, but a slight nod of the head would have made all the difference. Does a Safety at Work clause forbid traffic wardens from inclining their necks nowadays?
Hubby was uncharacteristically calm. “We’ll just drive to Luxstowe House and show them the evidence. It’s only up the road”. I was on the phone talking to the ‘Car Parks Assistant’ as we pulled into Cornwall County Council’s HQ. I was still talking to her as I got out of the car and walked into the reception area. But no can do. She refused point blank to come downstairs and acknowledge my ticket. We were only separated by a ceiling and she wouldn’t come. Even the reception staff had the decency to look suitably embarrassed. Even they phoned Ms Car Parks Assistant. To no avail. Whilst we all knew that it would only have taken a second to peep and thus witness much aforementioned Pay and bloody Display ticket I had to stand in reception and, astonishingly, write a letter of appeal.The petty bureaucracy that rendered us furious yet helpless regarded a trifling matter. I can only imagine the utter frustration and distress if, for instance, it was one’s planning permission or some sort of care that was being handled by similar intransigent, inflexible, uncompromising, incompetent, obdurate officialdom. To those suffering at the hands of such buffoonery, you have my unreserved sympathy.


DL said...

Don't get me started on council officials! Try living in the Forest of Dean...

Welshbird said...

Bo! I once was a borough councillor, and we had the same problems on occasion. And in principle at least I was their boss!