I asked a friend if she knew what ANPR meant and she had absolutely no idea. To be fair, neither did I up until a couple of years ago. I just thought was a generic plate meaning ‘A Number Plate Registration’, like when you see ‘A N Other’ credit card template.
(I also had no idea what DHL stood for. ‘Delivering Heavy Loads’?)
I remember when I first passed my driving test aged 17. Buzzing, I drove straight to school in my terracotta (not brown) Ford Escort – PLW 930W. I have a freakishly good memory for things like number plates, most of my bank cards and the rap to ‘Buffalo Stance’ by Neneh Cherry, which was most likely playing on my car stereo at the time. It was a face-off one that I would casually hold with my car keys to indicate, “Hey, I’m driving”. Then it got a bit boring lugging the case around so I’d hide it under my driver’s seat instead. (Yes, the radio got nicked.)
In the early days of passing, me and my Escort plus my suction-cup Garfield (still available at Argos) didn’t stray too far from home. On Day 2 I got a bit gung-ho and ended up heading North on the M1 instead of the North Circular. I pulled over in a panic onto the hard shoulder (I know.. so illegal) and called home on my Mercury One2One, sobbing down the phone that I wasn’t sure if my petrol would last. Dad calmly told me about these clever things called ‘exits’ every few miles.
I was taught road courtesy early on and if someone lets me out of a space or at a junction, I’ll give the universally understood ‘cheers mate’ with a palm raise/blink of the headlights or a hazard flash if they are behind me. Careful on this in Spain – it means “Hola mi amigo. I’m slowing down”.
Call me OCD (you can, I really don’t mind), but I always prefer to face the direction of traffic when parking on a road. It feels ‘neater’ and it’s a bugger to pull out if you’re on the ‘wrong’ side of a busy road. Plus, as my local dry cleaner who is based on a congested roundabout says, “People get really horny.”
When it comes to parking in a car park, I will almost always reverse in. Again with the neatness, plus it’s quicker and easier to pull away. But back up a sec and let’s get IN to the actual car park.
Two barriers, the left one has three cars queuing to go in, the right barrier has just the one car just pulling up. Go for the shorter queue on the right you say?
Don’t be so hasty. I try not to create stereotypes but watch out for:
1) Foreign number plates: think about it.. LEFT HAND DRIVE!! They’ve got to lean over, or even GET OUT ALTOGETHER AND WALK ROUND in order to ‘press for ticket’ (painful)
2) Lil ole folk: the arms don’t quite reach the button, or they can’t quite achieve the ‘lean n reach’ out of the window. They open the door to get out. Then they press the assistance button instead of the ticket button. Then, they still have to get back in the car, buckle up and get back into gear.
Face it – you’re already well and truly through your barrier on the left. And yes, I know I will be this OAP one day.
Husband is a big driver – literally and metaphorically. He is very, very tall and often referred to as ‘Hightower’ from ‘Police Academy‘ fame. (Go on, watch the link. Best scene ever.) He drives in to Central London for work every day and I have suggested that he and one of his equally route-savvy mates pack in their day jobs and start up ‘Jewber’ – a private taxi service run by ‘Nice Jewish Boys’. MESSAGE FROM DRIVER: “Hymie is coming in a minute. Hold on. I know you’re on schpilkers to get to dinner.”
Whilst we are still on the car park thing, big props to Spanish car parks I use on holiday in the summer. No time wasted cruising up and down aisles looking for spaces, for they have these genius lights above each parking space:
No false hope of a space when you discover a smug little Micra (or worse still, a motorbike) nestled in what you thought was an available space.
I’d say I’m pretty calm on the road but bus lanes throw me. We’ve become so trained not to enter them that it doesn’t matter how many times you read the sign, you’re never quite convinced that you can drive in them because no-one else is. Pack mentality – much like when you go as a group across a box junction, praying you will all make it to the other side without stopping.
It’s a similar thing I suppose with parking. Even if you chance it because you’re 99.9% sure that sure it’s ok to park between 2:48pm and 4: 36pm on a residential road with a yellow line, your heart still races when you approach your car.
I usually contest these tickets to the bitter end, with evidence, photos, back up documents etc. I like to present it all as if I was fighting a high profile court case, sending everything off by courier. Usually DHL – that’s Dalsey, Hillblom & Lynn, the founders, if you were still wondering.