‘I’m mad as hell and I’m not going to take it any more!’ I screamed through the window of the car while driving down Cobham High Street.
‘Are you aware,’ my saner self said to me, ‘that you are driving down Cobham High Street screaming a slogan from a film?’
‘Yes,’ I said to my saner self. ‘Yes, I am aware. And I’ll take it from here, thank you.’
I had been to the kebab shop for a chicken skewer to cheer myself up when it happened. It was 8 p.m., dark, and I pulled up outside Ali’s feeling utterly deflated by what I shall simply call ‘all the rotten hypocrisy’. I parked, as I always do, in the off-road space outside his takeaway joint and two others, a fish and chip shop and an Indian.
As usual, there were cars crammed in all over the place and I pulled up where I wasn’t blocking anyone in, went inside, said hi to Ali and ordered my usual.
I had only been waiting for about two minutes when a bloke came running in breathless, shouting: ‘Someone’s getting a ticket!’
I looked outside and a parking warden was indeed issuing a ticket at 8 p.m. in the pitch dark to a car pulled up on a plot of land that was completely off-road. My car. I ran outside and said I’d move. Too late, he said. I explained that this space has, for as long as anyone can remember, been crammed with cars like this. And what about all the others? Why just me (in my 4×4)?
A row ensued, the conclusion of which was the warden’s smug assertion that ‘I just issue ticket. You argue with council’.
He shoved the thing at me and I took it, speechless. Then I got into my symbol of the Imperialist ruling circles and drove away.
I wasn’t going back to buy the kebab Ali was making me because if I did, that was putting the sorry episode up in price by another tenner. So I would go without dinner. It was the only lucid thought my brain could produce. Yes, I would go without dinner to save money and as a protest. Who was meant to see or care about this protest? God, possibly.
I had only got as far as the next junction when my brain was suddenly gripped by a terrible explosion of the reasons I was trying to cheer myself up with a kebab in the first place, by which I mean ‘all the rotten hypocrisy’: chiefly this raping and pillaging we seem to be undergoing as standard, and the fact that a young blonde slip of a girl from Canada was held for hours at our border, then deported because she stated publicly she didn’t much like the sound of it.
I felt my foot go down on the brake. I felt my hands turn the wheel. I felt my foot go down hard on the accelerator. I felt my car turn and career back towards the kebab shop.
Someone wound my window down, and I heard a strange, strangled sound coming from the inside of the car: ‘I’m mad as hell and I’m not going to take it any more!’
A passer-by looked at me askance. I screeched to a halt at the kebab shop to find the warden had gone. I drove a few doors down the street where I found him laughing with a colleague. Let the record now reflect that I went tonto.
If the council have CCTV footage I am confident it will show a woman in wellies, face and hands covered in grime from horses, black eyes streaming with tears, hair standing on end, yelling, screaming and crying as though every bit of anger about every twisted outrage on the planet was pouring out of her.
The parking warden in his grey uniform, unfortunately, had become the representation of everyone who enforces all the rotten hypocrisy in the world. He stood there speechless, but his friend wasn’t having it. His friend advanced on this woman with his fists bared.
He ran at her, so that she lost her balance and staggered backwards. Then he ran at her again, screaming at the top of his voice: ‘Get in your car! Go on! Get in it and go or I’m giving you another ticket.’
We only got as far as the junction again. ‘I’m still mad as hell…’ ‘Alright, alright.’ I pulled over and called the police. Two officers arrived, young, handsome and polite. They went inside the kebab shop then came back. ‘The camera at the shop hasn’t captured anything,’ said one of them, ‘but I’m not convinced a crime was committed.’ He paused, before adding: ‘On a more positive note, Ali says your kebab’s ready.’