I was staying with a dear friend, HM, just outside of London and we decided, rather late, to go out and grab a bite to eat on Edgeware Road, the Arabistan and hub of all Arab food activity in London. Home of restaurants with "creative and catchy" names like The Halal Restaurant or The Lebanese Restaurant.
Being nearly 10 pm, and slightly "far" away, we took the car in order for us to be able to come and go without worrying about train timings. The car we decide to park barely a block away from the restaurant, and I read a sign saying "Pay and display", however on weekends I am told it's free.
Dinner was good, we even bought some sweets to take along with us home and after barely an hour and a half decided to return to our car. It was now around midnight and we walked along the cars in the car park, yet couldn't find ours.
Me: Are you sure this is the right car park?
HM: Yeah I'm positive, and this is the Mercedes we parked next to, I remember it cause it was taking up so much space.
Me: But there is no car next to it?
HM: I know...
So HM calls the police, reports a missing car, either stolen or towed away, license plate, adress bla bla bla.
It was really cold and for some reason HM had left her jacket in the car, which was no longer there. We decide that the only thing to do now is take the train home, and go sleep hoping for the best. A thought however, strikes my mind:
Me: Umm, HM, where are the home keys?
They were, lo and behold, in the car that of course was no longer there. So we decide we have to call her landlord, who lives in another city. He doesn't pick up, so all we can do is send a text and find the train and go back home to a home without keys.
As we sit on the train waiting for it to leave the platform, freezing and homeless, HM's phone rings. It's the police.
Police: I have some good and bad news.
Police: The good news is; your car has been towed away. The bad news is, you will have to pay 200 pounds.
So now it is hitting 1 am and we rush off the train just before it leaves the station and grab a taxi to the car pound in Park Lane, where our dearly beloved car and home keys are.
At the front desk, a man greets us with a look of "oh, here we go, another case". Apparently he was not our man, and he directed us towards a door that led to a long underground narrow corridor á la "perfect crime scene".
We walk, on the "straight path" for a long long time, just enough time to ponder over every thing you have done in the last decade or so, like why you pierced your nose twice. Anyway, we finally get to the payment office where HM filled out forms and paperwork and naturally had to pay the 200 pounds.
To make things lovelier, we have to walk back again the same way we came from, in order to pick up our car that was waiting for us on the outside where another man who worked as an "unlocker" of the towed cars sat.
What was the reason for towing away our car, and fining us 200 pounds after only being away 1 and a half hour?
Parking in a residential parking space.
Wouldn't it have been easier to just place a ticket of 200 pounds on the car?
Our conclusion after the long and highly eventful evening was that in the minds of the British Blair, towing our car enables four men to sit all night in an underground parking lot, and get paid for it.
Now there's an unemployment plan...