I was only nipping into the Off-License for a bottle of Pimms and I didn't have 60p in change for the meter. Having glanced around to ensure that there were no Traffic Wardens loitering nearby, i decided to risk it. I was only going to be 5 minutes after all.
I returned less than 10 minutes later to find a Parking Fine attached to my Wind Screen - It wasn't placed discreetly in the bottom corner either; In a blatant gesture of smug triumph, the Warden had stuck it gleefully right in the middle to make sure everyone got an eyeful.
That'll be sixty pounds of your hard earned cash please! it gloated, as people walked past staring.
I ripped it off angrily and glared around the car park, but the Traffic Warden had vanished. I noticed that the ticket was issued only five minutes after i left the car, which seemed monstrously unfair. I wondered if the odious little twerp had been lurking in the undergrowth waiting to pounce. I glared at the bushes in front of the car and hissed a few insults, just in case, before driving home in a temper.
I recounted the incident to my friend Ben, whose blithe disregard for Parking Laws has resulted in numerous fines and a County Court Judgement. As a first time offender, i was fairly confident that a polite letter of explanation to the people at Dorset Parking Services, would grant me a pardon.
"I'll say that i had to go and get change for the meter." I said.
"No way Man, they won't buy it."
"Why not? It could be the truth for all they know."
Ben sighed wearily.
"You don't get it Jess - These people don't care about the truth - they just want your money. You know what i mean? They're not Beings Of Light like you and me." he countered wisely.
I stared at him while he twirled a dredlock.
"So you're telling me that there is absolutely nothing i can do or say to avoid paying this fine?" i snorted.
He shook his head. "You've got no chance of being let off it. Don't even bother writing a letter. They'll know it's bollocks."
East Dorset District Council
Dear Miss Benson,
I write with reference to your letter dated 01/10/02, regarding an excess charge ticket.
I was indeed parked in The Market Place Car park in Kingsford on 15/08/02. I was collecting my very elderly Aunt from Safeways Supermarket. I was unable to use their car park due to insufficient space.
I usually park in a disabled bay on these occasions, since my dear Aunt suffers from Scoliosis (Curvature of the spine) and it facilitates her tremendously if my car is parked close to hand and she does not have to cross any roads.
I arrived at the Market Place Car Park and hobbled over to to the ticket machine as fast as my Gouty Toe would allow. There was quite a queue and I became very nervous about the time elapsing because my Aunt becomes very distressed if i am late collecting her, as i am sure you can appreciate. She likes to think she is independent, but she is really a frail old thing, and is easily frightened.
On one memorable occasion, i was five minutes late meeting her outside The Greyhound Public House, where she was waiting with her shopping bags. Her carer (who has since been sacked for repeatedly kicking the cat), had gone inside the greengrocers for some runner beans. Whilst she was making her purchase, a huge hound came along, stuck its head into my Aunt's wicker basket, and gobbled up 2lbs sausages and a kilo of tripe!
The poor old dear was in shock when i reached her and had to be revived with a few swigs of brandy from the owner of the pilfering hound. (I think he must have been a tramp - he was terribly scruffy.)
Since that fateful day, my Aunt has suffered a phobia of waiting on her own in a public place. Her carer was given her marching orders thank heavens. I never liked her. She stank of mothballs.
I only left my vehicle unattended for about three minutes without a ticket, and i know i was taking a liberty in doing so, but what other choice did i have dear girl?
Please, i implore you to understand my predicament.
Tomorrow i am going to Tarrant Millford to visit the chemist for some gout remedy and meet my friend Mavis. She is a dear friend. Her Husband fought in the War and won lots of medals. He passed on five years ago and Mavis breeds Budgerigars now. Her son lives in London.
Do you have a son? Where do you live? I like the way you can put green on your letter. I only have an old typewriter at my disposal!
This has caused me great worry. I haven't much money; just enough to afford bread and milk really. I simply haven't got £60 to give you. I could sell my Edith Piaf records but that would take too long, and then you will charge me £1000! Please help me. I know i did wrong and in the eyes of the Lord Thou Shalt Not Steal and I have already sinned against him.
I am a burden on my family so please don't ask them for the money or they will tut at me even more than they do already. Can I pay a little at a time? Maybe eight pence a week?
I work part time for the Red Cross but it's voluntary.
I am ashamed of what I have done and scared of what is going to happen to me.
A week later, i received the following letter:
East Dorset District Council
Dear Mrs Miller,
Thank you for you letter dated 04/10/2002, regarding Penalty Charge Notice DSO1807564.
I am pleased to inform you that in this instance, I am willing to waive the £60 parking fine
However, I must point out that should you incur a penalty charge in the future, you are obliged to settle the debt, in full, within the allocated time, to avoid legal action.
Jane Benson (Miss)