Train Stories – Clamped!

So there I was on the train home,  minding my own business after a long days slog.

Getting home at 7pm is just too late,   I’m feeling tired,  my sugar levels are dropping since I only had soup for lunch.

Sainsbury’s tomato, lentil and red pepper ..  very tasty and counts as 2 of my 5 a day ..  but not a lot for a growing bhoy!

I’m looking forward to getting some food, putting my feet up and doing absolutely nothing for the evening.

But as I walk back to my car .. I can see this yellow thing on the wheel.

I’m thinking .. what’s that?

Then I realise that I’ve been clamped.


How very dare they clamp me!

I check my road tax and it was up at the end of October .. 3 weeks ago .. okay I hadn’t noticed .. my mistake .. hands up.

But why not put a ticket on the window and I’ll pay the fine and get it up to date?

Clamping is just a rude, invasive,   unnecessary use of force,  it’s not as if I don’t pay my road tax .. and on both my cars .. so why not just bang me with a fine and  I’ll pay up and take the medicine.

But it’s late,  I’m tired,  hungry and the thought of walking 20 minutes up that hill in the cold just isn’t appealing to me.

I’m going quietly mental .. but I’m fairly controlled .. there’s no point shouting and bawling about it  .. because who would be listening .. and what are they going to do anyway?

Besides,  I’m a pragmatic kind of guy.

If you fuck me about,  I’m not going to say anything … I’m going to do something.

That Al Capone Scene from The Untouchables is playing in my head .. “I want them dead,  I want their family dead,  I want their house burned to the ground!”

Unfortunately,  it looks like if I attempt to drive away,  the clamp will do more damage to my car rather than the other way around.

I’ve got a bundle of tools in my garage, crowbars, sledge-hammers,  I could possibly walk up to the house 20 minutes uphill and then walk back,  but again that’s just going to cause more damage .. and if I don’t get the thing off .. more hassle for interfering with the device.

It seems like an acetylene torch is my only option.

I’m quite comfortable with that kind of stuff, welding and cutting although haven’t used them for many moons since my shipyard days.

I’m thinking,  I could jump a taxi up to B&Q and buy one,  cut the thing off,  deny all knowledge .. tell them to prove it.

That would be a hoot and a real fuck-you to these little Hitler bastards .. who are making a buck enforcing a stupid law.

But it’s going to cost me about 400 quid .. more than any fine .. and I’ll still be paying the road-tax anyway.

Fortunately my sensible side is saying .. don’t be stupid .. calm the fuck down and what’s the legal position?

I had believed that you couldn’t be clamped in Scotland,  but that turns out only to be on private land,  not in the public street.

I googled the third-party company who are implementing the clamping,    apparently with changes in the road-tax laws they have recently been contracted to enforce it .. and are clearly taking their work very seriously .. I wonder if they get paid by the clamp .. of it it’s a standard retainer and bonus?

Now I’m calmer .. okay my rage is quietly bubbling under .. but I’s in control .. BASTARDS .. No honest .. it’s in control.

So I called them .. some wee girl in a call centre in the south of England-shire.

Hardly her fault I’ve been clamped.   So no point in losing it with her.

But turns out,  that although they have been contracted to enforce the clamping,  they cannot actually take the money to pay the road-tax and then order the release.

She tells me that I currently have a 100 pound fine,  which gives me 24 hours to get the car taxed and call them back.

If not,  the car will be lifted the following day ( 11am this morning) and the fine jumps to 200 pounds and 20 pounds per day storage.

So I jump a taxi up the hill,  wolf my dinner now going dry in the oven,  dig out the documents and pay the road tax,  which obviously is for the full month including the period which has caused this debacle.

I call them back,   pay their 100 quid fine, plus another 160 quid refundable retainer in case I’m fibbing about paying the road tax and ask them when can my car be released

Tomorrow .. the different wee girl says ..   turns out the clampers only work day shift.

Bastards.   :-)

All calm now,   road tax set up on the new direct debit facility and this shouldn’t happen again.

But I wonder,  why should it happen at all?

Okay some scumbags don’t pay any road tax,  insurance,  have an MoT etc.

I totally support  that they should be targeted as having no MoT or insurance has real impact on road safety and affects other people.

But road tax,  don’t you think we pay enough tax .. why not abolish it and take it off our income tax and stop fucking us about.


Train Stories – Dwarf!

Well  I have never been so insulted …

Yesterday morning’s commute was a complete nightmare.

I played my part,  woke up early,  wrote a blog at 6am,  then was showered and drove down to Cambuslang for the 8:01 heading east.   This involves a change at Bellshill on to the Edinburgh train.

I usually get into Haymarket just after 9 and a 10 minute walk up to the office and I’m at my desk for 9:15 .. I’m meant to start at 9 .. but only take 30 minutes for lunch and usually work on a bit later .. so it shouldn’t be an issue.

If it is  .. I’m outta here.

Anyway, the train arrives at Bellshill and I’ve bought my ticket to Edinburgh on board.

All good so far …

Until standing at Bellshill the announcement came over that all Edinburgh trains were cancelled.

At this point I’ve just paid a daily ticket of 18 quid and thinking okay,  I’ll get a refund and head back to Cambuslang drive then to Bathgate and jump the 15 minute service from there.

You still with me?

So I’m crossing the bridge to the opposite platform .. then I realised that the platform on that side was exceptionally full of people and I started to have my doubts about getting a train home .. nightmare!

An announcement comes over saying that the next train back the way was cancelled .. much to the annoyance of everyone around me.

I’m thinking this lot are hopeless and I’m not a happy boy.

Being a self-employed contractor,  makes missing work a little more complex .. not only is there a loss of face and potential reputational damage,  but more importantly I can’t just throw a sickie as there is no sick pay and there’s a loss of earnings.

Which is nonsense really,  I’m well paid and the sick pay is already catered for as I’m paid gross.

But still it’s a mind-set and I only miss work if I’m absolutely flat on my back ill .. or absolutely flat on my back because .. well just because!

How come we never call in sick for a good day?

“Hello boss,  sorry I’m not going to be in today,  but there’s this gorgeous girl that I met,  well one thing led to another and .. oh oh oh .. well she’s still here with me now and . oh oh .. and I can’t come in today .. harder harder .. ooooooh!”

Wouldn’t it be good just to say fuck it and have a duvet day every now and then?

But I digress ..

The building which acts as ticket office and waiting room was jam-packed,  people sheltering from the weather and queuing for their tickets or waiting to ask about refunds etc.

At the front of the queue,  there’s this wee man,  5 foot nothing and this with his bobble hat on .. and he’s completely losing it with the poor woman behind the service desk …

He’s letting everyone know that he’s a pensioner and the train being cancelled has caused him to miss an appointment ..

Apparently he’s also an ex-journalist with the Daily Record and Sunday Mail and is going to make sure this incident is in the papers .. although let’s say that his choice of language was much more basic that it needed to be and negated the concept of him being able to put a sentence together on a professionally basis.

The woman behind the desk was a typical wee Glasgow wummin .. 5 foot 2,  about 60ish,  size 24,  heavy breasted,  grey hair and large thick spectacles.   She was short-sighted,  I could tell by the lens and her eyes looked massive.

Apologies for not being more descriptive .. it was only a glance!

Anyhoo,  she reminded me of my mum,  standing there being forced to retain her cool and being polite to this abusive dwarf .. when if he’d spoken to her like that in the street she would have tore a strip off him.

At this point my own feelings of disappointment have dissipated,  there’s nothing like watching someone else lose it for absolutely no reason and take their rage out with someone who isn’t the cause of their issue to make you realise how futile that would be and the woman is only doing her job and has nothing to do with the network failure.

As he turns to walk away he’s shouting his insults and looking for anyone willing to listen to his justifications.

Most people waiting are younger than him .. in fact most people waiting are younger than me!

Lots of young dudes or chicks in their office attire heading to Glasgow .. there’s a few nervous sniggers as his rant continues.

I’m looking past him,  but he’s in my peripheral vision,  he’s hoping to make eye contact with anyone who will listen.

As he gets beside me,  the woman in front,   almost 60,  a slimmer version of the woman behind the desk,   says that there’s no need to be so abusive and the lady is only doing her job.

Good for you .. I think .. and I’m sure that I’m not alone.

“I wasn’t being fucking abusive”  he says and his face turns particularly ugly as it fills with rage,  the blood rushing to his skin and he’s spitting as he speak “It is her fucking fault,  it’s her fault and don’t tell me it’s no”

The woman just looks at him,  dumb-founded,  her face shocked by the anger directed towards her.

I couldn’t help myself  “You were being abusive, you swore at the woman behind the desk,  who is only doing her job and you’re now swearing at this woman who has done nothing to you”

He turns towards me,  his face red with rage .. “It’s got fuck all to do with you”

“You should be ashamed of yourself  .. and it would be something to do with me if you spoke to my mum or my daughters like that”

At this point he stares at me,  maybe if he was younger he might have wanted to have a pop at me.  I can see it in his eyes that he’s not been afraid to clout someone in his younger day.

I’m wary of it,  I can feel the possibility building as he tenses his body,  his face gnarled and twisted with rage,  but it would be ridiculous if it happened,  fortunately after a moment of consideration,  he untightens his knuckles and the muscles in his face relax to his normal ugliness.

“Shut it you English Bastard” He spits at me.

Not only was he wrong,  but he was wrong at the top of his voice.  ( Spencer Tracey – Bad Day At Black Rock )

I just turned away with a smile in my face.

I’m proudly Scottish,  proudly Glaswegian, even proudly British although I voted Yes in the IndyRef.

But how backward are some people when they think that because I can put my point across without resorting to slang or insults that I’m English .. that’s quite sad really.

And can I add .. being English or a been born out of wedlock or both is no insult at all.

PS – The handsome Spencer Tracey in this movie was one of our favourites as kids and we’d watch it in my Granda’s house.  He kinda looked like Spencer,  not just facially with his broad forehead, high cheekbones and strong nose,   but with his greying hair cropped short,  broad shoulders, demob suit and fedora hat.