Just the Ticket
21 Jan 2001

The public meeting in the Town Hall had gone well, and I went to the car park at the back of the building to collect my car and drive home.
It was not a “Pay and Display” car park; but a “Get your ticket as you Drive In, Leave it in the Car and Pay as you Drive Out, Stopping your Car close enough to the Machine so You can Reach, and with Exactly the Right Coins.”
I had collected the ticket on arrival and put it on the dashboard. Closing the door must have blown it forward. There it was, when I returned, down a crack carefully designed by Rover, between the back of the dashboard and the front windscreen.
When they designed the crack, the award-winning Design Team realised it would be only too easy to retrieve the ticket, if part of it was showing. So, to make retrieval more difficult, they designed a steeply sloping windscreen, so only the fingers of someone whose hand has been run over by a steamroller will reach the back.
I had had no such encounter, and my fingers could just flip the top of the ticket.
I went to the exit and pushed the help button; I assured the voice the other end that I had a ticket, but it was unretrievable. I was therefore unable to feed the machine the required diet of paper washed down by coins, which would lift the barrier to allow me home.
He had clearly been confronted with this problem by other Rover owners and was unrelenting. If you had no ticket, you had to pay £8 to be released. He went on to explain that the £8 had to be taken to a wholly different location. I am sure he did not mean to gain any pleasure from my plight, but he didn’t sound too distressed. I vowed to make my escape without paying £8.
On the floor of the car, there were some promising looking instruments. The paper clip that had held together my speech, some cocktails sticks from the Lord Lieutenant’s Summer Reception, and a toothpick from an Indian Restaurant. Sadly none of these were long enough. They retrieved a number of other documents ensnared by the Rover design team; but the ticket I needed had disappeared further down.
There seemed no alternative. I looked in my wallet to see if I had £8. Yes, there were a number of notes held in place by a fine giant gold paper clip.
A giant gold paper clip…It might well cost more than £8 to replace; but there was a higher challenge to respond to. I would not surrender to the voice at the other end of the help button, whose owner had probably been enjoying my discomfort with the help of CCTV funded by the Crime in the Community initiative.
Yes, the unfolded clip worked; the ticket was retrieved. Not £8 but £1.20 was fed into the machine
As the barrier lifted, nearby shoppers were surprised to hear a loud “YES” from the local member, followed by the theme tune from the Great Escape.

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Copyright Sir George Young Bt. 2015