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Monday, 11 February 2008

The Boot is on the Other Foot

It has been almost exactly a week since a party of the third part drove into a party of the second part. Constable Wainwright of Pearson Park (Temporary)Police Station has news, and informs me of such after consulting his notes "Unfortunately. Mr Nickson, I was unable to ascertain the working, or non-working status of the aforementioned CCTV cameras in the immediate proximity of the vicinity of the alleged vehicular incident at the junction of Springbank Drive and Ellesmore Street, opposite the Hole in the Wall public house, at the time of the alleged vehiculatory incident. You were proceeding in a southerly direction were'nt you?"

"er, yes...."

"....and you were not skateboarding, roller blading, riding a unicycle, jogging, engaged in a parade or demonstration or drunk at the time of the alleged, aforementioned vehicular collision ?"

", no..."


", what?..."

It appears that apart from swallowing the "How to Speak like a Proper Policeman" instruction manual, Constable Wainwright has done some sterling detective work and telephoned Hull City Council. Britain's street are littered with Closed Circuit Television Cameras, operated by local councils but referred to by the police when investigating crime. In fact, the towns of the UK are the most observed in the world, beating even Eastern dictatorships in square area of the coverage, as a percentage of the country. It's another of Tony Blair's massive achievements, costing only as much as it would have cost to have built five or six new, well thought out housing projects, and having absolutely no effect on Britain's place in the European League Tables for crime. And yes, in a statistic obsessed Europe, such League tables do exist. Curiously, compiling the League tables costs about as much every year as it would to send a hundred or so kids from the housing projects (from each European country), to University, possibly including Advanced Driving in each kid's curriculum.

Back with Constable Wainwright, and the bad news is that the cameras which cover the junction in question, either does not have working CCTV cameras, or does not have CCTV cameras at all. I am vastly relieved, as the thought of another lawsuit was about as welcome as the prospect of going back to work has now become. In the past week, whilst at home, working on management stuff, I am beginning to enjoy myself.

I stroll back across Pearson Park, taking in the beautiful sunlight and the welcome beginnings of green everywhere. At the road bounding Pearson Park that separates Park from The Avenue that we live in, I'm in luck because a crocodile of pre-schoolers is just about to cross the road, doubtless heading back to day-care for their mid-morning nap. Having the same plan myself, I shoulder myself into their midst and cross safely, shepherded by teachers holding up hi-visibility batons.

Home safely at our apartment, the cats are let out for their 11.27am walk. They are also enjoying my time off work, and Calli gambles in the grass,trying to catch moths, a responsibility she takes very seriously. I spot Brian, Physical Services Manager to our apartment buildings. He's up a ladder, performing maintenance on the CCTV cameras and floodlights that illuminate our car park.

"Hi, Brian. How's it going mate?" I stand near the ladder, hastily unzipping my jacket so that Brian cannot avoid seeing my arm-cast.

"Hi Martin. How's it going? Bloody Hell, what happened to you?"

"Bike accident, mate. Broke me arm."

"What, you fell off, did you? My nephew did that when we took the stabilizers off his bike."

Twenty-five minutes later, Brian is fully informed of my riding history, defensive driving habits, theories on improving road safety, as well as an animated re-enactment of the vehicular collision. We're just about to start discussing my prognosis, when Brian glances again at his cellphone.

"Well, good luck, Martin. As I said, I really must get on, Martin. I'm meeting Mandy for lunch. Thought she would have called. I better give her a ring. " Brian is busy packing his ladder away.

Realizing that keeping Brian up to date has kept me longer than anticipated, I decide to head for the local newsagent. The local newsagent represents a dying species of store. Not part of a chain, it's tucked away among ordinary houses, and sells every variety of cigarette possible, a selection of soft porn and a limited choice of stale no-name cookies, as well as a bewildering variety of unwrapped tooth rotting penny sweets, including Cola Cubes, jelly snakes, and liquorice, all stored in big plastic jars on a shelf next to the cigarettes. Young and old alike are frequent customers.

The newsagent is talking to a regular, Mrs Chippendale, so I wait in line, while the newsagent gives Mrs Chippendale's mangy old Collie a good belly rub. "Same as usual, Mrs C? " asks Vicky, the newsagent, reaching for a jar on the shelf and pulling out a handful of Castor- sugar coated toffees, "Quarter[note - Vicky means quarter of a pound] of bon-bons? I never know how many kilogrammes, or whatever, it is. Don't see why we had to change". Vicky is referring to decimalization, a weights and measures change that occurred sometime in the Seventies, probably before she was born. Vicky stuffs the dog-hair encrusted sweets into a paper bag, while Mrs C, who was probably about my current age when this revolution occurred, assents that the change to kilo's and grammes was the worst thing that ever happened to England.

It's my turn, and it's been twenty four hours since the newsagents recieved a bulletin. I unzip my coat. Vicky asks how I'm doing, tutting sympathetically.

"OK," I reply, "but the hip was uncomfortable last couple nights. Still, I'm keeping busy."

"Well, you've got to keep yourself occupied, they say. Course, it takes a bit longer when you're older. When's the cast off? Mrs C was just saying they're good down there, at t'Fracture Clinic. "

"I don't know yet, I've got an appointment at t'infirmary, next week. We'll know more then."

I stop suddenly. Did I just say what I thought I'd said? 'T'infirmary' ? Did Vicky just say 'It takes a bit longer when you're older'? Did I just reply to Vicky in respect of my injury as if it was comparable to an old person's complaint? I check my pockets to make sure I have'nt bought any Bon-Bons.

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