I was driving home from work with the plan to take P straight out for dinner, as I was late, we were both starving, and neither of us particularly felt like cooking.
When I got home, there was a car blocking the entrance to my road. I live on a residential side-street just off a fairly steep principle thoroughfare. The car was right, slap-bang in the middle of my road. It had parking lights on, although kerbside, not the ones in the middle of the road.
I just managed to get around it to drive up on up the hill, but as this was a really peculiar place to leave a car, I felt riled, and decided it was worth reporting to the police as an obstruction. In Nottingham parking offences are ‘decriminalized’, which means the city council has responsibility for some parking offences, like parking in a residents’ parking scheme without a badge, or parking on double yellow lines, or parking in a bus lane during rush hour. However, for some parking offences, such as causing an obstruction, it’s still the police who are responsible. Just as well, because I don’t think we employ city council traffic wardens at 9pm on a Friday. That said, by and large, police officers are busy doing other things at 9pm on a Friday…
So, once home, I phone the non-emergency number for Nottinghamshire Police, and get through after a moderate wait. Explain the problem, and after taking details, Control asks me for the car registration number so that she can carry out a registered keeper check. I didn’t take that info down, and I’m using the house phone, not my mobile, so I can’t go down and look. Explaining all this, the officer promises to phone me back, and I trundle down the hill to get the reg plate.
Off I trundle. By now, there are several cars trying to negotiate the hazard, and a few local kids are peering in through the windows. After taking the plate, we establish the car is not running, it’s locked and secure. There is no sign of the owner, and no sign it’s been stolen. P’s thoughts that the owner was taken ill and had to leave to get help don’t really make sense either as, apart from being in a daft place, the car is perfectly parked.
Back home, I wait for the police to phone back, and eventually, after 20 minutes of waiting, I discover the phone’s not been properly on the hook, so the police won’t have been able to get through if they’ve been trying. I phone them back, and this time, there’s a much longer wait to get through. I think it got to almost half an hour of the most unbelievably cheesy hold music, along with repeats of the message that my call was important, and a voice telling me in which circumstances I should hang up and phone 999. Also, it gave me the option to try for Crimestoppers and rather more worryingly, the Terrorism Hotline, if I felt I had info for those two bodies.
Finally, I got back through to an officer, and got halfway through telling the story — an obstruction, speaking to an officer earlier, phone of the hook — when the guy interrupted and said, “Is that a Golf with the registration XX05 XXX?” Erm, yes. “Officers are on site now. Thank you for calling.”
When we walked back down the hill to head out to eat, there were indeed officers on site. They had just begun to knock on doors to see if anyone knew anything about, and I stopped to talk to them for a bit. Their working hypothesis was that the handbrake had failed and the car had rolled down the hill. That didn’t seem right either, to us, because it would have rolled a lot further, we think. But as people who live on a hill, we’re well aware of the importance of leaving the car in gear. A registered keeper check had shown that the car was registered in Milton Keynes, which wasn’t helpful in working out which door in the immediate vicinity to knock on. After a bit of canvassing, they had decided to tow the car away.
It was still there when we came back from eating an hour and half later, but was towed a little bit after that. Too much excitement for one night!