As a freelancer I work here, there and everywhere, and my current contract means I have to drive to work, gritting my teeth against the torture of traffic on the north, then south circular (which is a whole other rant altogether) and make the unfortunate shlep across town to Shepperton Studios: Destination Nowhere.
This journey is often a four hour round trip. The actual problem unfortunately is that on my arrival to my car the other morning I find a Penalty Charge Notice slap bang in the middle of my windscreen. Oh dear.
The situation is this: I live in the glorious Islington district (trendy Upper Street to my left, villagey Highgate to my right) but I’ve downed tools in the slightly less glamorous part of Islington: Holloway Road (prisons included), which is not only the more hostile cousin of the above inspiring areas, but is annoyingly in the parking catchment zone for the Arsenal Stadium punters. To avoid parking hell and an overrun of thunderous supporters each with their own cars (and horns for that matter) Islington Council enforces parking limitations on match days. Gulp.
So it is a Tuesday, I acclimatise from a long and relentless drive home as I reach my street; I don’t need to buy a ticket as the pay and display times stop at 18.30 on weekdays. Watch check – perfect its 19.45. I park up and check my windows and doors are locked (you can’t be too careful in this area). I am home to eat, sleep and be merry.
Wednesday morning – I scurry to my car past the creepy, staring café owner, I am only aware of the bitter cold and the joyous fact I am already five minutes ahead of schedule, but unaware of the fine awaiting me, devilishly given out by a (probably) bored Civil Enforcement Officer.
The painful part of this story is the actual punishment in pounds of my accidental parking actions. “A penalty charge of £120.00 is now payable…if the penalty charge is paid no later than the last day of the period of 14 days…the penalty charge will be reduced by 50% to £60.00.” What? How much???!!!
In my shaky defence, Arsenal’s little men normally kick that silly ball to each other on their big green field on a Wednesday, not a Tuesday, plus I hadn’t heard any whispers anywhere of a match at all and I can normally hear the roar of the crowds on a Wednesday evening. But silence. Nothing. No incoherent chants echoing down the street, no extra crowds hanging around the kebab shops making a mess, no drunken fools staggering home with joy (or defeat depending on the result).
Does it make me a small child if I feel compelled to scream out loud “IT’S NOT FAIR!!!”?
Since arriving in the office I am still fuming and am sure I can hear whimpers from the innocent cards in my wallet who are scared at the thought of shelling out that amount of money on a silly mistake, rather than treating themselves to the lovely plum mascara at Benefit they’ve had their eyes on for weeks.
My mood is not lifted when a colleague guffaws and states that “everybody knew it was the first round of the Cup last night.” Well I didn’t. And I will have to pay at least £60, if not £120 for my lack of football knowledge!
I have decided to challenge this ludicrously expensive charge. As you can see from the above I don’t exactly have a concrete argument. Damn. But I’ll give it a go, I will send my sentiments to parking.appeals@120englishpounds and hope they take pity on my inabilities to hold an interest in football matches.
As a Holloway resident I should obviously be able to run-off the dates and times of all matches this season. I will have to do my research in the future, which really riles me; I am a Researcher by trade. Grrrrrrrr.
Irritability rating ***** stars.
Image by PSD courtesy of Flickr