I drive a Ford Prostitute van (it calls
itself an Escort, but it's not fooling anyone). On Wednesday 4th July,
while the Americans were celebrating, my van, (complete with a prominent
windscreen-notice proclaiming that Dublin Bus employs me as a supervisor,
and bearing my less -than- Copperplate signature), was parked in a bus-bay
on Eden Quay. It was not restricting traffic movement or causing congestion.
And unless the wisp of last year's straw, peeping from under the rear
door, distracted passers by it was not doing any harm.
As the last buses of the day were taking up their positions, I was discussing
the forthcoming Luas system with the driver of a Dalkey bus when I perceived
that the front wheels of my van were about 300mm further from Australia
than when I parked it.
A tow-wagon bearing the name Control Plus (it didn't say plus what) and
a legend in slanted writing about "getting Dublin moving" was parked in
front and already had a BMW in an elevated position. It also had my little
van in the.....the.....I don't know what you'd call the position. I'll
have to look up Karma Sutra. Anyway they had it hooked up and ready to
I sat into my vehicle to retrieve my jacket and the first draft of an
important document. (No, not one of my articles on humility but a commendation
about a driver who acted over and above the call of duty when a non-national
thought the translation of Staisiun Bre was Celbridge and then expressed
surprise that there was a seaside in Co.Kildare.)
As I placed my ample rump in the drivers seat, which was now at a 45 degree
angle, I was told by a Control Plus official; " you're not getting it
back". I had no way of knowing if he meant my jacket, the MSS or my virginity
(which I lost in this very area of Dublin city, many decades ago). Then
said official gave me an option; "Are you getting out or are you travelling
Anything is better than walking, I always say, so I replied; "I'm travelling
with you". He didn't seem happy with my reply and rejoined with: "Are
you getting out or am I calling the Guards?" That frightened me! I began
to wonder. Does this man know that I urinated on the street of Ballymore
Eustace in 1962 in such a way as to "......offend modesty and cause scandal
or injury to the morals of the community"? Or would the Statute of Limitations
save me from prosecution for riding an unlit bicycle in Ballinastocken
before the Beatles were famous?
Anyway I told the decent man to call the Guards. He proceeded to make
the call but didn't tell me why. A brace of Gardai (one of each gender)
duly arrived. The three of us pondered on why the two of them had been
summoned. And when I told them that it was the only time in 55 years that
anyone saw fit to call the police for me, the smattering of Psychology
in Templemore kicked in. The immediately spotted my hypersensitivity and
promptly returned to their beat.
The Control-Plus wagon set off at a steady pace, with my good self in
tow. When we arrived at the pound I thanked the driver for the lift and
proceeded to pay £130.00. I had arrived in my own van, the keys of which
I now held in my hand. I was paying with an overworked Visa card, the
scrawled signature thereon matching the one I was now writing and the
larger version displayed on the windscreen. But what was I asked?.........."Do
you have any identification".
While I could have very easily been Tom Cruise playing the part of a much
harassed bus inspector I managed to convince Control Plus of my identity.
A concerned official (as soon as he established that I wasn't Meryl Streep)
offered me the use of a first-aid kit to tend my lacerated face. (I had
by now sustained what my late father used to call "The blackguard's mark",
to wit a black eye, but more about that anon).
I refused all medical aid but they gave me a leaflet which told me; "..........
Sometimes things do go wrong". And in a separate document I was informed
that things went wrong 71 times in the year 2,000; in the millennium year
71 Vehicle Removal Release Fees were refunded. So I sent a note to the
Just a few lines hoping this finds you well, as we are not too bad Thank
God. It wasn't a bad winter for fodder. I would like to become a statistic
for 2001, please send me back my hundred-and-thirty quid.
Your obedient servant,
Matthew J. Lennon."
(I forgot to put; "Courtesy and civility assured at all times") After
a month I received a courteous reply from one Ms Fiona Pidgeon who informed
me ".....I regret that I an unable to identify sufficient reason to cancel
the notice that was issued in respect of the above offence".
While " sometimes things do go wrong", according to Control Plus I'm not
included and so far I'm not a favourable statistic for 2001. If you make
the mistake of not using Dublin Bus and you bring your car into town and
are towed away here's a bit of advice; if you are writing an appealing
letter to Control Plus make sure and conclude with;
Courtesy and civility assured at all times.
5th September 2001