Melissa Kite Melissa Kite

Real Life | 8 November 2008

Money laundering

With a sense of weary inevitability, I discover that it is not possible to have a washing machine delivered in my street without paying £100 in washing machine delivery protection money to Brixton town hall.

Yes, indeed. I turned into my street the other day to find a lorry unloading outside my neighbour’s house in what ought to have been a boring, everyday scene of law-abiding folk going about their domestic business. That’s nice, I thought. My neighbour’s getting a new Zanussi. And I drove down an interconnecting road to get round the lorry thinking nothing awry.

Until I heard the shouting. And then it hit me. A lorry unloading a washing machine is not a problem for me, or indeed any other citizen of planet earth because my street is in the middle of a conservation estate and leads nowhere. But it’s a problem for Lambeth council. Sorry, did I say problem? I meant to say opportunity to embezzle money.

As if by magic the parking attendant appeared on his little moped. Soon he and the delivery man were locked in mortal combat, the yellow package of doom tucked beneath the windscreen wipers, the driver shouting about how the job had now cost him more money than he would earn from it, my neighbour promising through teary gulps that she would pay the charge.

So, I hereby enclose a transcript of another of my phonecalls with Lambeth council, which I hope to publish one day in a compendium volume entitled Conversations With People Who Think They Are God:

‘Hello, I’d like to find out how to get a washing machine delivered to my house without incurring a £60 parking ticket for double parking, please.’

‘If you are a resident in a controlled zone you can offer them one of your visitor permits.’

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