There’s a spider living in the parking barrier.

Look carefully and you’ll see it; a spider’s taken up residence between the ticket machine’s display and the glass that protects it. He’s only diddy.

There he is!

There he is!

There’s a surprising amount of arachnophobia around as I discovered earlier in the year when I was proposing that we use an animated spider to front the campaign for a well-known mobile handset. Suddenly all these underground arachnophobes came out of the woodwork. They couldn’t hide their unease – even with a cartoon spider. You could see them tensing up and looking away. Fools. Wimps. Freaks. Clients and colleagues alike.

If you ever see an ad featuring spiders – good or bad – hats off because there are some serious issues and obstacles it has to get past to see the light of day. There was no way my spider campaign was ever going to get through – and it was an amazing idea, let me tell you.

A mate of mine was a confirmed arachnophobe – even a tomato stalk would freak him out. The laughs we used to have…

A breakdancing spider attacking a tomato. No hang on...

A breakdancing spider attacking a tomato. No hang on...

Wheelie suitcases: another reason to hate.

Came across reason number 4 on Friday evening:
Particularly large wheelie cases can cause problems going through ticket barriers. Unwary travellers with these unwieldy wheelies will be unaware that the barriers are likely count them as two people, not one person with an annoying suitcase.

Barriers: incompatible with idiots with large wheelies.

Barriers: incompatible with idiots with large wheelies.


Alas the luggage has no ticket for itself, so the barriers come crashing in on it, jamming up that lane and forcing the unfortunates behind (e.g. me on Friday evening) to force their way into an adjacent queue.

Meanwhile, the London Underground guy, responding to the suitcase and barrier’s distress, is himself blocking up the adjacent barrier. Were this to continue, global gridlock would occur, meaning that no one anywhere could move. At all. I imagine.

Uproar! Anarchy! Roadworks!

So there I am, nonchalantly pulling in to Swingate and there’s a queue of cars at the exit – which there never is at that time in the morning.

As I wound down the window to rub my card against the machine (to make the barrier go up) the lady coming out of Swingate shouted over to me that they were doing roadworks in the car park, taking half the spaces out of commission.

As I was committed to entering the car park, I about-turned and set off for Danesgate quick-sharp, so as not to miss the 8:08. As I went by, I could indeed see men at work, tearing up the tarmac with tools emitting flames and everything – though it didn’t look like they’d taken up half of Swingate, to be fair. Nonetheless, a bit of notice wouldn’t have gone amiss. No signs in advance or now. No idea when they’ll be finished. I hadn’t noticed the car park needed re-laying, but there you go – I look forward to parking on an even better surface than before.

Parking renewal

The end of Stevenage’s parking/financial quarter is upon us all. It means that it’s time to renew my parking permit. And I’m a parking renewal virgin and feeling quite vulnerable to be honest.

A simple instruction (you would think).

A simple instruction (you would think).

I tentatively approached the machine and followed the instructions. It then came perilously close to swallowing my debit card. Even after we got past that, it still wouldn’t let me renew. The old lady behind me (she won’t thank me for that) was very patient and encouraging but in the end I had to let her have a go. No problem. Tried another debit card – the one I originally paid with – and bingo! Parking nirvana until the end of January 2009.

The adrenaline is only now beginning to dissipate.

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