independent

Tuesday 21 October 2014

Parking mad, but not enough to do time

Published 10/09/2013 | 05:38

Saturday: The good woman went clothes shopping today and she took the younger lad with her, the poor thing. She called me at lunchtime to tell me that she had found a dream pair of shoes to wear to a wedding that we are attending in the next few weeks. Her version of events was that they had been reduced from some 'astronomical price' to a 'sale of the century' bargain, and inside she was dancing.

She proceeded to tell me about a few more bits and bobs that she had picked up until suddenly I heard her gasp, followed by an 'oh no'. 'I think I've got a parking ticket,' she shrieked, and there stuck to her windscreen was a memento from one of the least forgiving figures in society.

Like everyone that exceeds their parking-time limit and gets caught out, she had an excuse. She had only enough change for a certain length of time, the younger lad needed the toilet and by the time she found herself 'marooned in Boutiqueville', dashing back to top up the meter had slipped her mind. All of a sudden John Waters had a strange bedfellow, though admittedly she was more than a minute outside her 'grace'. And for her, two hours in the slammer is not a realistic option. In bargain shoes or not.

The good woman was not shopping in our hometown on this rare occasion. She had gone a few miles down the road for once, as she had heard great things from her friends about their shopping experiences in this different town. I listened as she pleaded her case. Then I sat back and thought about it and decided that she has a point; people that are travelling to towns on Saturdays to shop and boost local trade should not have to run the risk of being handed a €40 fine. It is a train of thought that seems to be gathering some steam. Last week a Wicklow county councillor, Jimmy O'Shaughnessy, spoke out against overzealous traffic wardens and said that some level of common sense needs to be applied, perhaps even free parking for weekend shoppers. Otherwise, he said, they would be as well put gates on both ends of the town.

I think the good woman should pay the €40 fine in this instance, and shouldn't bother contesting it; to the letter of the law she was in the wrong. And you pick your fights in this life. However, if the ticket-happy wardens continue to hand out penalties to those supporting local businesses then it is towards them that the traders' ire should be directed when thunderous footfall becomes merely an echo from the town next door – understandably the good woman has vowed never to shop there again. At the end of the day she may be just another few twenties in the till, but I imagine there are plenty more scorned shoppers out there that feel the same way.

Sunday: It is obvious now. As long as he remains in charge, the Republic of Ireland football manager Giovanni Trapattoni will rarely pick the correct Irish team for the job in hand. Sweden were there for the taking on Friday night. Sadly the two players needed to put them to the sword didn't get to tread on a competitive blade of Lansdowne grass.

Wes Hoolahan, the most natural attacking footballing talent we have plying his trade in the Premier League was benched. Kevin Doyle, one of our most effective forwards over the past few years didn't even make the squad. And in the papers today we read about the 'great job' Trap says he says done; the phrase 'I'm right and the rest of the world is wrong' springs to mind. On another dark weekend for soccer, at least we had an All-Ireland Hurling Final to savour; such passion warms the September heart.

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