Wednesday, November 07, 2007

The wellbeing of parking meters

Maybe I've been working too hard recently, but I woke up today wondering how the parking meters in Lewes were doing, following the bonfire night celebrations this week. I almost felt a bit sorry for them, even though they're inanimate objects. (You can probably tell I don't drive - I'm more of a bus person, really....)

Parking meters in the charming little town of Lewes, in south-east England, have been regularly blown up with fireworks since meters were introduced in that area a few years ago. Over 200 to date have met an explosive fate. It's a shocking headline... parking meter vandals strike again! Another parking meter damaged by a firework!!! That sort of crime must send shivers of horror down the spine of any law-abiding citizen or policeman, though possibly for different reasons.... *shudder*

The 'parking meter bomber' sticks a firework into the coin return slot of the meter, which blows up the meter when it explodes. Apparently the parking meters have their own crime prevention 'crimestoppers' stickers, depicting exploding shrapnel. Bonfires are a huge event in Lewes, with various local societies spending all year planning them, with fires, effigy burning and flaming torch processions taking place all around the town. When the annual bonfire season approaches, the local authority tries to protect the poor parking meters in various ways. Covering them up in hoods, making them 'bomb-proof' by encasing them in metal boxes, or digging them up and storing them elsewhere, only to be returned and concreted back into the ground after the firework season has passed.

I didn't quite believe it when I was told that parking meters were being blown up with fireworks, in protest at the local parking scheme. Maybe because Lewes is apparently a nice, normal English town, the parking meter obsession seemed like a good example of the strangeness of small-town behaviour. It reminded me of David Lynch's Twin Peaks, or the village in the film The Wicker Man. I know weirdness is a relative quality and doesn't have geographical boundaries, but behaviour seems odder when a place is conventionally respectable on the surface, but with curious activities bubbling underneath. Or maybe things just get magnified and blown out of proportion in a smaller town, and seem more strange for that reason. I suppose it's weirdly 'Lewes' that any protest in that place would have to involve a bit of anarchistic pyromania. I should be glad they're only blowing up parking meters and not people, I guess. I wonder whether any of the bonfire societies have burned an effigy of a parking meter on November 5th yet...?

Nothing to do with parking meters, but the butterfly clip from my earring has just come off and got embedded in my keyboard - how the hell am I going to get it out???? Mental note to myself not to fiddle with earrings while half-asleep in front of a computer.


dickiebo said...

Sounds like an upside-down job to me, Claire.

Claire said...

I wish... I tried that and only toast crumbs fell out. Then I poked it with a pin and the earring disappeared under a letter key... I will prise it off when I get home!