It has been collecting my ungulate against my wishes. Stiltoning me towards a ledge from where I don’t wish to descend. Unasked, it was mounting my mammaries.
Sorry. It’s annoying, isn’t it, when somebody makes things – like the above phrases – more complicated than they need to be. And this week that’s what has been getting my goat, cheesing me off and getting on my… well, that’s not important.
Honestly, will you look at that ticket machine pictured above? It’s in a pay and display car park in Oxford – the one next to the ice rink, if you were wondering.
All I want is to stick a few quid in and take a ticket out, only it’s not that simple. You can tell that from the fact that, although you can pay by card, the slot for it is a good foot away from the PIN keypad.
Then there’s that larger keypad: five rows across, eight rows down, with numbers on the first two rows, the alphabet and some other motifs on the rest. It would be quicker to type the Lord’s prayer into a rubber-keyed ZX Spectrum (ask your dad) while wearing gardening gloves than it is to input a car registration using this pad.
Yet that’s what you must do. You can’t just pay for a space and park in it. Now you must identify yourself by your car’s number plate, so that, if you don’t use all of your allotted time, you can’t generously hand the ticket to somebody else.
I know you’ve never strictly been allowed to, but previously there was an unspoken pact. I rented a space for a period of time and, if I chose not to use it all – every chance, because The Man wouldn’t give me any change – that was my loss. I might hand the ticket on if I left the car park early, because the space would most likely be gone if – unlikely though this is – I realised I’d forgotten to buy biscuits and had to go back. It was a casual relationship.
Now, though, the rules have changed. Because I have to identify myself, the space is rightly ‘mine’ and mine only, so I want something in return: change, for a start, and/or guaranteed exclusivity for as long as the ticket lasts, whether I’m using it or not. Otherwise ‘my’ space is being sub-let. Like an oversold flight (don’t start me), my seat is being flogged twice. I don’t mind someone having their cake and eating it (otherwise what’s the point of having a cake?), but I draw the line at them having my cake, too. It is complicated, it is unnecessary and it is unfair.
Come the revolution, then, these people will be second against the wall. First will be those who walk on pavements in the rain, uncaring about whose eyes their umbrella takes out. Probably. It’s a pretty long list. And quite a fluid one.