In Which He Who Knows Everything Learns Where Not To Park His Car

Depending on the amount of entertainment your life is filled with, you may not have noticed my recent absence. If you did not then I salute you heartily.
In a pleasant deviation from the usual, there were a number of reasons for the gap in recent blog entries. The first is that I was being quite lazy. I am often lazy. Luckily, my lazyness can be cunningly disguised through doing work and pretending to the world around me that it is the work I am supposed to be working on rather than the other work I have available to me. So it is that I am usually doing something but rarely what it is I am supposed to be doing. The number of blog entries I make are directly proportional to the urgency of the other things I have to get done.
The second is that it had been quite cold. Normally this wouldn’t prove much of an impediment to computer use but when it’s dark and the wind is howling around the chimney, the lure of the stove becomes rather too much of an evening.
The third is that we have all been Away.

As we are exciting folk, Mammy, He Who Knows Everything and I went to visit Strider in Cardiff. She was so thrilled at the prospect of our clogging up her sitting room and using her stuff all day while she was out at work subverting the Welsh Government from within, she even vacuumed. However, as this is Strider we are talking about, she was required to explain that while she had vacuumed, her vacuum seemed to be broken and that the more she vacuumed the dirtier the floor got.
The last time this happened, it was because she had vacuumed up three socks and not noticed. The time before it was because she didn’t know how to empty the dust from the container. She was swift to assure me this was not the cause this time around with, it must be said, more pride than the usual 31 year old displays at knowing how to clear fluff from a filter. After half an hour I’d removed four, three inch blockages from the various tubes of her cleaner and given her strict instructions not to let it happen again.

I have always maintained that Cardiff is one of the most underrated places in the UK. It is large enough to have really good shopping (including the brand new John Lewis which is the largest one outside London) but not so large you spend hours driving in and out of it like Manchester or Birmingham. The Millennium Stadium is one of the finest sporting grounds in the whole of the UK and because it is in the city centre, visitors get a chance to see Cardiff properly rather than being whisked from their park and ride to some outlying suburb.
What is also nice about Cardiff is that, to me at least, it always felt like a very safe city. I lived in Adamstown in a house I painted purple. On the insurance forms this was rated as the most crime ridden place in the city (Along with Roath, Splott and Cathays) but even so, it was only a level three insurance band. Strider studied in Manchester and lived in an area where it was cheaper to replace everything she owned than to buy insurance for it.
When I lived in Cardiff, I never felt afraid to be a lone female walking at night. That said, like any city it is important to keep your wits about you. There are drug problems and plenty of petty crime associated with them. It is also worth ensuring you know when Cardiff are playing Millwall and make a note to stay well away from anywhere any of the fans might end up but other than that (and the Llandaff flasher), I always found it to be really safe.

It is somewhat ironic then that Strider, who lives in a slightly better area than I did, has experienced much crime and annoyance during her time in the city. Since she moved to a first floor flat, she has been less troubled by young people stealing her laptop from through her bedroom window but she is always full of tales of the local kids causing a nuisance.
As we drank our welcoming cup of tea, she filled us in on their recent activities. Among other things, they had recently taken up breaking into cars and she advised us not to leave anything in ours.

About an hour later, a car alarm went off. I turned to HWKE.
“Isn’t that your car alarm?” I asked. I am finely tuned to the nuances of his car alarm. Until he was able to persuade the man at the garage to disconnect it, it had the habit of going off when the temperature on the dashboard reached 25 degrees. This caused much embarrassment in a variety of places, particularly when he couldn’t work out how to turn it off and Mammy and I stood at a distance shouting things which suggested to passers-by that he wasn’t the legal owner of the vehicle.
For a moment he looked uncertain. Then he shrugged and ate the plate of food which had been placed before him. Only when he was full of dinner did he go to check on his car.

Some time later he came back and asked Strider for some duck tape, some bin bags and a phone call to the Rozzers. Yoofs had broken his passenger window. They had also smashed the windows of four other cars parked on the street but not, I noticed, the one belonging to the Mazda coupe.
Strider sighed and rang the old bill. I begged her to ask them if they were going to catch the crims and lock them up in her community, but she failed to understand the reference.

What was so annoying about the whole thing was the wonton destruction of it. I wouldn’t have minded if they’d broken the window to steal something – HWKE certainly wouldn’t have minded if they’d stolen the whole car because bits fall off whenever he drives it further than 30 miles so he’s keen for a new one - breaking the window because they can is just amateurish.

The Rozzers came. They took HWKE’s name. They told us some bloke had seen the gang doing it and chased them in his car. It was all most dull.

So, Cardiff. Great City. Just not for parking your car in.

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