I want 2009 to STOP. Right. Now...
So far this year:
I've spent time trying to sort out social services to help with mil, and since we discovered she's not eating well am providing an impromptu meals on wheels service
Been unable to get any work done because I STILL have two children off school (back tomorrow, everything crossed)
My back trouble has resurfaced (not helped by long overdue hoovering of the house yesterday)
Spouse and I were back and forth to mil's three times yesterday to help sort out a leak from the upstairs flat (actually that could have been worse, when she first phoned me I assumed it was a veritable flood, rather then the massive amounts of damp it turned out to be, but it still involved a lot of toing and froing), plus running to the doctor for antibiotics for her.
And if that wasn't enough, Saturday proved the icing on the cake.
When I was taking the children to their various activities on Saturday morning, I foolishly parked in a bay marked private, which is part of an office car park which acts as an overspill at the weekends. Everyone does it, and like a twit I assumed that the council notice advising you you can park in the office car park out of office hours applied to those spaces too. But apparently not.
I was sitting at the leisure centre having a cup of coffee with a friend while no 4 was having a gym class. Spouse was coming to meet me, and en route in noticed I'd been clamped. I went out to find a number to ring, and discovered a happy little notice on the car telling me that I was going to be charged £75 for parking illegally and a further £125 for the bloody clamp to be removed.
There was no one around. The office was shut. It started to snow. I couldn't get through on the number I tried to ring (mind you I was using Spouse's ancient mobile which is increasingly dodgy), so I went back to the leisure centre, where they said I could use their phone, but for some reason everytime I rang the number it kept coming back to reception. By now convinced I was part of some Real Hustle scam (you've seen the one, the wheel clampers park round the corner, come back take your money and clone your card. Cynic.Qui moi?)
Spouse meanwhile returned home to pick up the other car, while I headed out into the cold . And boy was it cold. Persephone if you're reading, I realise by your standards it was probably like a spring day in the park, but I hadn't wrapped up that warmly, not thinking I'd be standing outside for an hour when it was -3. Earlier in the morning I'd also taken the kids to their swimming lessons and walked through the damp floor to the changing rooms in my socks. They were so wet I took them off, not anticipating that I would be spending over an hour in the freezing cold.
Eventually some little oiks turned up in a van with a pleasing dent in the side (unhappy punter anyone?) and aggressively told me that it was my fault for parking in the wrong place. I didn't know I couldn't, was my not unreasonable response, but reason doesn't mean anything to these people, and I have to admit in these situations my tolerance levels are precisely zero. Before long we were trading insults, and I was demanding proof of identity. He flashed a badge which meant precisely nothing, and then I spoke to his oiky manager who was somewhat less then helpful and cut me off. At that point I decided to ring the police to check the company out. By now I'd been joined by a friend who helpfully lent me her phone, and a stranger who usefully had the numbers of Surrey Police and the local council on hers. She also told me she had a WRITTEN letter from the council saying it was possible to park in the offending bays. Not that that cut any ice with my oiky friends of course...
The council offices were of course shut. The police response was to suggest I ring the Office of Fair Trading, from where I got no answer. At that point my kind friends had to disappear home, Spouse arrived back with my phone, and I spotted two other poor sods in the same situation. So we teamed up to confront the oiks, who grew quickly more aggressive once they realised there were several of us, and threatened us with a tow truck and the possibility of the fine growing larger. One of the clampees who rather usefully had an offduty copper mate with her, paid the fine, but then we spotted the council notice telling us we could park at the weekends. We tried to point it out to clamping vanmen, but they weren't interested. Our copper friend suggested we ring the police to clarify the matter, at which point they promptly fucked off, confirming all my suspicions. The other couple were so irate they were talking about getting bolt cutters by this time, and our copper friend told us that it would be criminal damage, but probably nothing would come of it. We were all pondering the possibility of becoming criminals when the police arrived.
After much discussion (and a lot of verbal on behalf of the other couple) it transpired that the police can do precisely diddly squat in these matters. The council also have no jurisdiction. So therefore a bleeding private firm can screw the pants off you and you have no recourse to any kind of justice. After a standoff lasting a further half hour (during which Spouse rounded up all the offspring and took them home), we all had to capitulate and pay the sodding fine - you can't appeal it unless you pay, you see...
By now my feet were like blocks of ice, and I couldn't feel anything from my shins down. When I walked I felt like a little old woman. I hobbled my way back to the car followed by Oik no 1 who had been so aggressive at the start. He undid the offending chain and mumbled, Sorry for the inconvenience in a not very convincing manner. I am not at all a violent person, but Ihave never ever felt more like committing an act of physical violence on another human being. I am amazed I manage to resist thumping him, although the thought of doing it in front of a copper was quite a good incentive not to...
So there you have it. We're only thirteen days in and already 2009 is a pile of crap. I think I may spend the rest of the year in hibernation.
Roll on 2010....