Where there's a Willesden there's a way

Sunday, January 29, 2006

In custody

"Um, OK, and can I ask what the fee is to release the vehicle? Thankyou very much. I'll be there as soon as possible."
My flatmate's starting to rock back and forward gently, and I doubt he even knows he's doing it.
"The good news, mate, is that your car hasn't been nicked. The bad news is the council want 215 pounds to give it back."
"What? Bastards!"
"Pound's in Wembley, I'll come with you."
"I'll fucking kill em."
"I'll do the talking."

I was just enjoying a lie-in late yesterday afternoon when my flatmate stormed into my room.
"My car's been nicked!"
"Are you sure."
"Yes I'm sure. Come and take a look."
There was only one thing to do as a man in this situation. I put on my shoes, and walked out into the street, where I paced the length of the street before returning with a serious look.
"You're right. It's not here."

Whilst my flatmate freaked out in the kitchen, I decided to ring the council on a hunch. Maybe for some inexplicably reason they'd towed it away. And I was right, it was an inexplicable reason. Brent insist that the parking bay at the far end of our street was suspended on Friday for a 24 hour period. I hadn't seen a sign indicating this, and evidently, neither had my flatmate. So credit card in hand, we set off to Wembley to get his car back.

The area round Wembley stadium looks a bit different these days. Brent Council decided that Faded Industrial Zone just wasn't really working for them any more, so they've gone for a new look; Moonscape. We picked through piles of rubble and half demolished buildings in the savagely cold wind, potted roads winding their way through acres of freshly ploughed, frozen earth in the middle of the city. With only the Wembley arch and the occasional slanted lamppost to guide us, we drew our coats up to our necks and shivered to stay warm. It's hard to tell how long we walked for, but out of the night a bedraggled stranger stopped us.
"Do you know where Pyramid House is?"
"The car pound?"
"They stole my car. It had everything in it. Even the baby's coat." He gestured to a shivering woman clasping a tiny baby to her breast.
"They got us too friend. Walk with me."

Our sad convey stumbled through the back streets of Wembley. In time we were joined by others, all of whom told their story of loss and pain. We tried to stay in the streetlamps, huddled together for warmth, driven on our mission by the cries of the young. After what seemed like forever, we arrived.

I doubt any of us will talk about what happened next, but an hour later my flatmate was in his car, running the engine and the heater as the giant security gate slowly opened.

By a weird twist of fate, we had to drive home pretty fast. If he didn't get to the Parking Shop to renew his permit by 6.30, they would have taken it again by midnight. Posted by Picasa


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