My True Clamping Story Winter November 1999

It all started on a very sunny November Sunday morning.
The house was full of people, friends of our children milling around the kettle continually boiling the toaster continually popping music blaring out and my Sunday morning reading the papers in tranquil surroundings totally destroyed.
I said to my wife, Carol, that we should just go out and get away from it all for a few hours.

We had a static caravan on Anglesey at the time and in two hours we could be lazing in the van reading our papers and enjoying the sea views.
Without more a do we were off.

I had two cars at the time my official business car, diesel driven and my personal car petrol driven.
I took the car first off the drive and we were on our way.

There is a petrol station about one mile from my home were I stopped to fill up with petrol.
To my horror after I had put about two gallons of petrol in the car I realised I was in the diesel driven car.
I stopped the fuel delivery and pushed the car without trying to start it to a parking area.
I informed the petrol station staff what I had done and said I would arrange for it to be collected tomorrow, Monday, which they were happy with.

I walked back home and collected my petrol driven Rover filled it with petrol and proceeded to our day out to Anglesey.

The following day after arriving at work I notified the motor mechanics of my stupidity and asked them to recover the car from the petrol station near my home and do the necessary to put the car back into service.
They asked me how much petrol I had put in the car and I said about two gallons before I realised my mistake.
Two mechanics went out and the first thing they did was to top up the fuel tank with a further six gallons of diesel and proceeded to drive my vehicle back to the workshop.

It was about lunch time now and as they passed a shopping precinct they decided to go and buy their sandwiches from the Sayers cake and sandwich shop.
The mechanic, Greg, who drove my car, parked in the shopping precinct and walked over the road to the bank and drew money from the hole in the wall.
He then went into Sayers and bought his lunch.
When he got back to my car it had been clamped.

There was a greasy long haired scruffy looking man in attendance, no uniform or official badge but it was obvious by his actions he was the man who had clamped the vehicle.
Greg the mechanic went over to the man and asked him to remove the clamp and of course the man refused.
He explained that Greg had parked the car in the precinct and then walked off the car park and this was not allowed as this car park was for the shops that surrounded it.

Greg showed him the bag of Sayers sandwiches and the receipt from the hole in the wall from where he had drawn money to purchase his lunch.
All this had no affect on the greasy haired clamper and insisted Greg pay £50 to have the clamp removed.
Greg refused and went back to the workshop with the other mechanic and reported the situation to me.

I have to say I was alarmed and that at no time previously had I ever seen a clamping firm operating in this precinct.
I told Greg not to worry as I would pick it up on the way home later as I could not believe this was a legal operation.
However, I was starting to worry and I decided to go to the precinct myself and assess the situation.

I took another car from the pool and made my way.

I passed the car park and saw my car was still there clamped.
I decided to go home for lunch and check it again on the way back.
On my return back to the office I saw a tow truck reversing into the car park about to tow my car away.

I drove into the car park and stopped between the tow truck and my car.
I jumped out and remonstrated with the greasy haired man called him a crook among other things and said what he was doing was illegal and I asked someone to call the police.
There was a lot of shouting going on and the tow truck went out of the car park and came in another gate and attempted to affix the towing ropes again.
I jumped in my second car again and drove with menace between the tow truck and my clamped car again.

By this time there were crowds gathering coming out of the shops and the pub.
They probably thought it was a Jeremy Beadle stunt.
One drunk came up to me with a pint in his hand and started calling me names.
He called me a bastard and that I should be put away and said you are nothing but a slime ball.
I asked him why he was calling me such names and he said because you have clamped that mans car, I said he has clamped my car he looked at me and went over to the greasy haired man and said, you bastard you should be put away you slime ball.

Meanwhile, one of the crowd said the tow truck man was about to clamp my second car.
I jumped into my second car and drove it a few feet while he was trying to clamp it.
The clamp thankfully was not affixed and it shot off the wheel and across the car park missing everything and everybody.
I had also managed to telephone the workshop and asked them to send someone out with bolt cutters and the key to the clamped car.
Neither arrived.

Just when I had given up all hope two police women arrived in a police car.
I explained what had happened and said that what the greasy haired man was doing was not legal.
They questioned the greasy haired man asked him who he was and who he worked for.
He said I don’t have to give you that information but you can speak to my boss on my car radio.
One of the police women went over to the car and spoke to someone on the end of the radio she came back and said the greasy haired man was acting on behalf of the company she had been speaking to on the radio.
Who have you been speaking to I asked, she said this man’s employer how can you know that? it could be anyone, he might be a car thief for all you know.
You have been watching too much television she said.

I had been here about an hour now the car park was grid locked the access road was jammed and people were beginning to become irate.
Shoppers could not get in or out of the car park but it was another lovely sunny day and it was a little bit of excitement for the shoppers and particularly the drunks.
My shoulders sagged as eventually my car was towed away and the police women waved goodbye to me as they too drove away.
I went up to the greasy haired man looked him straight in the eye and said before today is out you will regret that you ever crossed me.
I jumped in my car and made my way back to the office.

I telephoned a friend of mine who is a police officer and asked him about the legality of these clampers and told him my story.
He said he was on nights but would ask his sergeant about it later when he came on duty.

I cannot remember now but somehow I had a telephone number to contact the tow truck people or the clamping firm and I telephoned them on my return to the office.
What do I do now I asked them?
They said I would have to take £150 cash to a lockup in Warrington and the car would be returned to me.
My engineer lived in Warrington and so I asked him to draw the cash from our Finance Department and go and collect the car.
I said go home now collect the car and bring it into work tomorrow, Tuesday.

I was feeling very low at this point as there is nothing worse for me than to be ripped off by some greasy haired scumbag.
About 5.30pm my office phone went and it was my engineer who said he had been to the lock up but the car was not there but on the way home he had spotted it parked up in a back street and blocked in by a tow truck.
Is there any way we could get it out I asked he said you might be able to but it was doubtful.
I thought if a Warrington lad might be able to get it out a scouser would definitely be able to get it out.

Meet me at MacDonald’s Warrington at 7.30pm and you can take us to the car.

I got hold of Greg the mechanic, a pal Bob and myself.
We are all in the TA and so we got dressed in combat gear, boots and all and made our way to our 7.30pm rendezvous.

My engineer was there waiting.
He was shocked to see how we were dressed and I was shocked to see him in a white Arran jumper light trousers and cream coloured shoes.
He won’t be hanging around I thought.

Follow me in your car he said and we did for about a mile.
He stopped in a side street and said park up and I will take you in my car, better if there is only one car he said.
We drove another half mile and he drove past the clamped car but thankfully the clamps had been removed.
He stopped the car a couple of streets away we got out and he drove off.

As I said earlier it was November it is about 8pm there is a heavy frost on all the cars the windows of the cars were white with the frost.
We made our way back to the car and one at a time we did a recce to work out how we could get the car out safely.

After about 10 minutes we were ready, Greg wanted to drive the car and Bob and I would be ready for any aggro.
Greg went to the car got in and started the engine a diesel engine is noisy at the best of times but on a cold winters night when we are trying our hardest to be silent the starting of that diesel engine almost stopped my heart. Within 30 seconds with a little bit of manoeuvering a bump onto the pavement and driving down the pavement between the tow truck and a wall Greg was gone.
It all seemed so quiet now, no doors opening, no lights coming on nobody shouting it was almost an anticlimax.
We stood there for a minute or two just to see if anything was going to happen but nothing did.
It took us about ten minutes to find our car and we drove home.

When we arrived home Greg was already there and so were my policeman friend and his sergeant.
I hope you haven’t broken in anywhere to get the car he said very seriously .
I assured him it was parked on the public highway and Greg just drove it away.

Well I have something to tell you.
When I came on duty tonight I was out with my sergeant and told him your story and how Greg had gone for money to buy his lunch and was clamped when he came back to the car.
While we were talking a call came over the radio to say that a woman parked on the precinct and went for chips and fish to the shop opposite the car park.
On her return with what was obviously the family supper she found she had been clamped by your greasy haired friend.
The woman was beside herself with grief and was screaming and crying that she didn’t have £50 to release the car and her children were waiting for her to return with their supper.
The greasy haired man was unmoved and proceeded to clamp two other vehicles while this poor woman was becoming hysterical.
My sergeant asked the greasy haired man for his details and he said the same to him as he had said to the police women, I don’t have to tell you anything.

The sergeant said you better had mate or you will be nicked.
Meanwhile he asked me to go and check his car.
I checked his tax disc the details did not match the car.
I asked him where he got the disc and he said off a scrapped car.
When I checked the number plate and car chassis number they too did not match and it turns out the car was a ringer.
I asked him to remove the three sets of clamps from the three cars in the car park all belonging to women and asked them if they would witness the tax disc details and number plate on the greasy haired mans car which of course they did.

He is now locked up in the police station and you will not be surprised to know that he was on bail for car theft.

WHAT A RESULT, but it doesn’t say much for policewomen does it!!!!!

A Sad Story The Cat Is On The Roof

The next call you had found the cat but it was on the roof.
The next time you could say the fire brigade is trying to get it off the roof

A young lady who had just arrived at her holiday destination telephoned her Dad to say she had arrived safely.
“Is everything okay at home Dad?” she asked.
“No” he said “I have to tell you your cat is dead”

You can imagine she was very upset at this very sad news and said to her Dad
“ Why didn’t you break the news to me when I got home or alternatively a bit by bit each time I telephoned you?”.
“How could I do that?” he asked.

“Well today when I rang you could have said you hadn’t seen the cat since I had left for my holiday.
When I next rang you could say the cat was still missing and you were looking for it.
The next call you had found the cat but it was on the roof.
The next time you could say the fire brigade is trying to get it off the roof and the next time they had failed and the cat had fallen off the roof.
Then the last call you could have said the cat was dead and at least I would be expecting the worst.

It doesn’t matter now it is too late you have spoiled my holiday.
Is there anything else before I ring off?”.

“Yes” he said “Your mother is on the roof”.

My Dads Windows Spell check

Eye halve a spelling chequer
It came with my pea sea,
It plainly marques, four my revue,
miss steaks eye kin knot sea.

Eye strike a quay and type a word
and weight four it to say
Weather eye am wrong oar write
it shows me strait a weigh.

As soon as a mist ache is maid
it nose bee four two long
and eye can put the error rite
it’s rare lea ever wrong.

Eye halve run this poem threw it
I’m shore your pleased two no
It’s letter perfect awl the weigh
my chequer tolled me sew

A Load Of Stick

To satisfy a long term indulgence my wife and I went on a four day visit to Rome with the intention of visiting all the fabulous places I had read about and seen on TV.
At the time of our visit I had a problem with arthritis of the knee which in the main I could cope with but to be on the safe side I took a walking stick with me knowing we had some fairly arduous walking to do if we were to see the sites on our busy schedule.

On our first day with walking stick in hand we left our hotel and walked about a mile to the Vatican City and spent most of the day there. I can assure you we were not disappointed the Vatican Museum, the Sistine Chapel, St Peter’s Basilica and others were awesome and were way above our expectations.

Day two we were off to The Coliseum and the Forum and to get there we would need to use the Metro. Again the Metro station was about a mile away and with stick in hand we were off. We had to ask for directions to the correct platform and what train to get on. Neither of us can speak Italian so we did struggle to find the platform and the destination of the train that would take us to the Coliseum. One of the people we asked gave us the information we wanted but we could not understand fully his limited English but I knew when he gave us a strange look as he boarded a train and we were still sat on a platform bench that was the train we should have been on.

We waited for the next train to that same destination and boarded it. The train was full with no seats available so we were stood, me with my walking stick, in the aisle. As I have said I could cope with my knee and the stick was a safeguard and I was comfortable standing. I am in my late sixties and generally very fit for my age but I was a little shocked when a man quite obviously a lot older than I stood up and offered me his seat. I was dumbfounded and because I cannot speak Italian thought how I can refuse this offer without offending this very kind gentleman. Reluctantly I did accept and thanked the man in the only bit of Italian I know. In Italian I said Thank you sir and sat down. The man got off the train before I did and I waved and smiled as he left the train.

We got off at the Coliseum station and I have to say I was amazed at the crowds there were literally hundreds of people milling around like ants. The Coliseum is across the road from the station and the Forum opposite the Coliseum. Pizza stands, Ice cream, cafes, restaurants, newspaper stands, guides offering their services to you at a cost it was bedlam but exciting. I noticed across the road towards the Forum there were toilets and queues waiting to use them. We thought it might be a good idea to go back unto the station and use the toilets there before we started our site seeing. My wife went off and was back quite soon she directed me to the toilets and off I went. There were sixteen people waiting to go in. There were two toilets and we waited outside while one person went in the door closed automatically behind and we waited. When that person came out the door closed again behind them and we had to wait two or three minutes before the next customer was invited to deposit 50 cents into the slot and the door opened again automatically. Eventually after about twenty minutes it was my turn and I put in my 50 cents went in the door closed behind me and I noticed the stainless steel walls and floors were wet and realised that after each person left the toilet while the door was closed the toilet was automatically hosed down blown dry and then re-opened for the next customer. Very clean but very long winded. As I left the toilet the door closed behind me and the automatic cleaning process started again I walked away was half way back to meeting up with my wife when I realised I had left my walking stick in the toilet. Back again but by this time the next person had gone and I had to wait until the man came out the door closed behind him and we waited while the cleaning session started again. In my best tic tac with my hands I tried to tell the next customer I wanted to retrieve my walking stick from inside the toilet. I don’t think he was Italian but whatever language he spoke it was obviously not very complementary as he thought I was trying to jump the queue. As the toilet was now ready for the next customer the man put in his 50 cents and in a very brusque manner pushed me away and went in. People in the queue looking at me wondering what was going on. “Does anybody speak English?” I asked, a couple of people did and I explained about my walking stick to them. The first person who was able to speak English was two away from going in and so I waited and eventually got my stick back soaking wet after going through about five or six washing sessions. A number of people in the queue thought my plight very funny and they were laughing one quite hysterically. I have to say I can see the funny side now. When I got back to my wife after about thirty minutes she was beside herself “Where have you been? I have been worried sick” I just said to her “I’ve had a terrible time”.

We did the Coliseum and the Forum on a very beautiful sunny and mild day had a pizza lunch on a pavement café and then back on the Metro to our hotel. Again it was back with my walking stick which by now I wish I had left at home in England. Again the train was full with standing room only. We had gone a couple of stops when this very old Italian lady beckoned to me and offered me her seat. Not this time I thought this lady must have been in her eighties there is no way I can accept. My knee was not troubling me and even after all the walking I had done I only had a few twinges. The lady stood up beckoning me to come over I went up beside her and I said no, no, no I am okay. I didn’t actually touch her shoulders but my hands were hovering as though to make her stay where she was but she still left the seat it was then I realised this was her stop and she was getting off the train. Everybody in the carriage must have known what she was saying except me and did I feel a right idiot. I smiled at her and apologised I am not sure she understood but I can imagine she will never again offer her seat again to an Englishman with a walking stick.

Was that the end of my stick saga? No it wasn’t. After four excellent days in Rome they call it Roma and back to front it says “Amor” we were off to the airport. We boarded the plane and we were almost the last passengers on. We couldn’t see any seats together but right at the back was an empty row of three seats we made our way and were so pleased that we had the three seats to ourselves. We made ourselves comfortable and relaxed ready for our flight home. The air stewardess made her way up the aisle checking seat belts etc when she reached us she said “oh! you can’t sit there it is an emergency exit and only able bodied are allowed to sit in these seats” I just couldn’t believe it I tried to explain the walking stick was a present for someone back home but she didn’t believe me. “Your wife can stay there but you will have to find another seat”. Again everybody was turning around to see what was going on and I sheepishly had to make my way down the plane to find myself a seat. The rest of the journey was uneventful and lonely.

When I was home at the first available opportunity I bought myself a fold up walking stick. I will show them I said to myself.

Grumpy Old Men

When you’re turned sixty you seem to go mean
Moaning all day about the things that you’ve seen
Read in the papers or appeared on TV
Say things would be different if left up to me

There’s no good reason to get out of bed
But the pain I get staying there starts in my head
Then and go to the window I look out and I glare
Smile, as I like to get it over with
Before going down stairs

Breakfast is cornflakes tea and some toast
And I usually have this while reading my post
Adverts and loans credit cards galore
Readers digest and a free for all draw
The paper that’s wasted it must be a sin
So I say a little prayer as I put it all in the bin

My diary is next an Oh’ what a chore
Trying to remember just one day before
What’s happening to my memory it must be deranged
Why is it I can remember my nappy being changed?
Why is it I can remember when I was just three
Falling off my bike and hurting my knee?
Coming home late and how I was slapped?
My hand caught in the sash when the window cord snapped?

So what happened yesterday was there anything funny?
Oh’ yes now I remember all day it was sunny

By now I am ready to get up and go
When the telephone rings and a voice says hello
We are in your area with a special offer that’s new
And you’ve been selected because you are you
Double glazing? loft insulation?, I hazard a guess
No, a free holiday- but only the best

As a householder you can sign to rent an apartment in the Azores
And in fifty years time the property is yours
What a good offer is my cynic refrain
Now take a running jump and don’t ring me again

It’s sunny it’s raining, it’s windy, it’s snow
It doesn’t really matter what I do will be slow
No rushing, no dashing, nobody waiting
No overheads, no vat, no Union baiting

When retired it’s restful, it’s joy, it’s a fun day
The week is made up of six Saturdays and a Sunday

So when you’ve turned sixty and feel old and feel mean
Enjoying your life is easier than it seems
To make yourself happy and give yourself a treat
Smile and say “good day” to everyone you meet

Keith Roberts 2001

An Old Story The Cat The Parrot And The Bags Of Coal

It was in the days when the coalman used to call he would knock on your front door and shout do you want any coal.
You would shout yes if you did and he would lift a grid in you door steps and put the coal down the grid into your cellar.

Well on this day he did just this and the lady of the house said yes two bags please.
The coalman duly obliged when he heard from inside the house, and another, so he put another one down into the cellar then he heard, and another and this went on until he had put twelve bags down and the cellar was full.

The lady came out to pay the bill and the coalman said she owed him £48.00.
She couldn’t believe it £48.00 for two bags of coal he had to be joking.

He explained that it was for twelve bags as he had heard her asking for another bag ten times making twelve in all.
It was then she realized it was her parrot who was good at mimicking her that had asked for the extra bags. Well the coal was down in the cellar and there was no way the coalman was prepared to take it back so she had to pay.

She searched the house for any money she could find and eventually had just enough leaving only a few coins to buy some fish for her husbands’ dinner when he came home from work later today.

When her husband arrived home he was famished after a hard days work and the first thing he noticed was the smell of the cooking fish. He wasn’t too keen on fish and said that he thought he was having steak for dinner.

The wife told him about the parrot and how it had got the coalman to put another ten bags of coal down the cellar. Well the husband went berserk..

He grabbed the parrot by the neck kicked it up in the air swung it by its wings around the room a few times before opening the door to the garden and hoofing it up the garden where it lay very still on its side.

While all this was going on the cat had jumped up on the worktop in the kitchen and was able to snatch the cooking fish out of the frying pan and onto the floor where it ate the lot.

The wife then screamed the cat has eaten your dinner. The husband still in full flow grabbed the cat by the tail swung it around the kitchen kicked it up in the air a few times before opening the door to the garden and hoofing it up the garden where it landed on its side facing the parrot.

After a moment or two the parrot lifted its head looked at the cat and said “How many bags did you order?”

The Indispensable Man

Some time when you’re feeling important,
Some time when your ego’s in bloom,
Some time when you take it for granted
You’re the best qualified man in the room;
Some time when you think that your going
Would leave an un-fillable hole,

Just follow these simple instructions
And see how they humble your soul:

Take a bucket and fill it with water,
Put your hand in it up to your wrist,
Pull it out and the hole that remains
Is the measure of how you’ll be missed.
You may splash as you please when you enter,
You may stir up the waters galore,
But stop – and you’ll find in a minute
That it looks just the same as before.

The moral of this is quite simple:

Do just the best that you can,
Be proud of yourself, but remember:

There is no indispensable man.

Saxon N White Kessinger, 1956