Thursday, April 1, 2010

What’s sauce for the goose, or how revenge is still the sweetest dish

I am about to recount a tale of an act of revenge which, unfortunately, has not yet been concluded and cannot so far be regarded as successful. But give it time, please give it time. It doesn’t involve violence or anything nasty, but I does involve me getting rather very irritated with another party’s high-handed behaviour and deciding to get my own back.
For many years, it must have been at least seven, I drove to work in London and parked my car for the time I was there directly beneath the Daily Mail in space reserved for I know not whom but certainly not for the poor bloody infantry. Perhaps those who arrived for work after seven were able to park there, but for everyone else doing so was not legal. Staff who were entitled to a car parking space were given permits to use a car park three-quarters of a mile away, and those on higher pay grades were given credit card to allow them to use the NCP car park opposite the Mail on the Young St. side. And at £25 a day, parking there is not cheap, so anyone the paper to whom the paper does grant that privilege must be reasonably valued. That car park, though, is on the other side of the street. I, on the other hand, was parked directly below the building, just a short five-storey lift ride away from my desk. How I got away with it for so long — and what I was doing was common knowledge on the features subs’ table — I really don’t know, but I did. I was able to get in because on Sundays when no civilians worked at the paper (admin, classified ad staff, researchers, that kind of thing), we were allowed to use the car park. I managed to park there for four days by driving in legitimately on Sunday mornings, but then not driving out agian until Wednesday evenings at 6pm when my shift ended.
But as it most certainly would in time, the arrangement came to an end eight months ago. I was rumbled by one of the security guards to whom one legitimate car park user had complained after he couldn’t find an empty space. The guard realised that at least one used was parking illegally and set about comparing the registration numbers of cars with the list of number belonging to legitimate users. It must have taken him some time, and he must be some boring fart even to bother, but bother he did and my game was up.
That lead to a problem: I had to find somewhere else to park which didn’t cost me an arm and a leg. Even better, I had to find somewhere reasonably close where I could park for free. Finding somewhere like that would be harder than finding a needle in a haystack, but eventually I did. One night, after my single Sunday shift, I took off driving ever further into West London, keeping my eyes open for a street not governed by residents’ parking permits. I finally was out as far as Acton Town when I found myself driving down a street where there were no parking restrictions of any kind. I started parking there, about five minutes walk from Acton Town underground station. (For anoraks who are into this kind of thing, it is quicker getting there by the Piccadilly Line than the Circle Line because although follow the same route, the Piccadilly Line stops at fewer stations. It was quite a coup finding somewhere where I could park for nothing, but the trouble was that getting there to pick up my car when I was about to drive home took about more than 45 minutes from leaving the office and getting into my car and was a pain in the arse. Then my brother Mark mentioned that, incredibly just around the corner from his flat in Earls Court was a small piece of land, rather hidden from the street, on which four cars could park comfortably. One space used to be used by one of those companies which hire out cars by the hour and which are becoming ever more popular and the rest seemed to be used by a firm of estate agents. So that is where I started parking my car on those occasions when I drove to London. Everything went well until last week. It would seem that the firm of estate agents had got a but narked that one of the spots was occupied, probably by my car, although I don’t know whether some other drivers had come across it. So they installed rather thick metal chains fastened by padlocks to seal off the small area. Thankfully on the day they did so, they ‘kindly’ did not seal off the area where my car was parked, allowing me to remove it. But last Sunday (I came up by train this week and I am writing this on my laptop with a view to uploading and posting it when I get home later tonight) I went to the spot — it is just three minutes walk from Mark’s flat — to see what had been done and saw that the estate agents have now completely sealed of the area. Had I turned up with my car — and I am due to drive up in two weeks’ time — I would not have been able to park and would have had to fuck off to Acton Town again.
That is what irritated me, or, to put it another way, what pissed me off. There is a very old sign lying around indicating that the small piece of land, which sits behind a 30ft long advertising hoarding, is the property of More O’Ferrall. But I would be very surprised indeed if the estate agents had come to some agreement to rent the land from More O’Ferrall to park its cars. It is far more likely that they are, like me, opportunistic squatters. So it is a bloody cheek to seal of the ground to make sure only they can use it.
What to do? I did consider going along (the estate agents have their office just around the corner opposite The Troubadour where Mark works) and simply appealing to their better nature and informing them that I now only drive up infrequently and could I also use the ground. Well, that’s a non-starter. First of all, who has ever heard of an estate agent with a better nature? Also
(note the image of a car above whose driver decided to do things by the book and rely on 'better nature') there is only room for four cars and I’m sure what with their staff commuting to work and coming and going to show clients around local flats, they would not be too inclined to give me a sympathetic hearing. Finally, if the ground is left open for me, it is highly likely that other drivers will also take advantage of it. That is when I gave up all hope of ever being able to park there again and decided that all I could do would be to take my revenge. If they could seal off the area with chains and padlocks to make it inaccessible to other drivers, well I could do the same. I might even argue that I have the same moral right. So I decided to buy padlocks and double seal off the area, making sure they couldn’t park there, either. I bought them yesterday and on my way to Marks added my two padlocks to theirs. That would do it, I thought. Well, it hasn’t yet quite. It seems that in the dark I had not applied the padlocks to anywhere where it might make it impossible to for them to remove the chains to let their own cars in. Oh, well. But I don’t think they noticed my padlocks, so next week I shall go back and make sure I get it right.
Am I being petty? Probably, but who cares. Bastards.

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