8 September 2010


Imagine how it must have been before pollution and ruthless commercial fishing enterprises reduced the world's fish stocks to our current worryingly low levels. The Grand Banks off Newfoundland must have teemed with silvery fish and it would have been the same over The Dogger Bank in the North Sea. Rivers like The Tay and The Esk would have sometimes appeared to be boiling with fat, healthy salmon.

To be a fisherman in days gone by must have been a life punctuated by moments of splendiferous glory when the "catch" was bountiful - exceeding all expectations. And that's how it felt for me at 11.15 am this morning. I had set out with the intention of bagging just one more of the sneaky, unloved parking enforcement officers that plod our streets but ended up acquiring not one or two but three more of the vile creatures.

It happened rather by chance. Avoiding Hunters Bar, I had parked up on leafy Marlborough Road in Broomhill. Once this was the home of the athlete Sebastian Coe. I remember literally bumping into him in "The Broomhill Tavern" years ago. "Sorry", he half-smiled after I'd spilt his drink.

There was a white Ford Fiesta van up ahead near the corner. As one stormtrooper came sauntering round the corner, two others got out of the van just as I was locking my car. They greeted each other and as I approached, it was clear that they were conversing about their four missing colleagues. I wasn't expecting to speak but the words just tumbled out of me as I drew level with them. It was as if my subconscious was working ahead of me.

"You're talking about those parking officers who disappeared? I think I know where they might be."

Their body language changed immediately. "Where? What? Who?" Whether or not they were thinking altruistically about their colleagues or the £100 reward for information, I wouldn't like to say.

Anyway, two minutes later they were all sitting in my car and I was driving them back towards our house as I spun my yarn more intricately - like a spider preparing to snare unsuspecting flies. I told them that my next door neighbour was a bit of a nutter and that I had heard him talking to people in his cellar area. I said that I thought one was called Mohan.

"Mohan? Mohan Lal! I trained with him," said one of my new acquisitions.

I found out their names. The two African gentlemen were called Victor and Okwonu and the rather pretty young woman whose uniform looked two sizes too big for her was called Jessica. She reminded me of a former girlfriend with similar grey-green eyes. That summer. That hayloft. Like yesterday.

We parked up on the secret back lane that runs past the bottom of our garden. Cunningly, I said it was our neighbour's garden. I begged them to keep quiet as we passed the vegetable plot and the compost bins, under the apple trees and across the lawn towards our decking with the little door to the underhouse at the side. "Shhh!"

I had the key in my pocket but I pretended I had retrieved it from beneath a rock. Quietly, I unlocked the door to reveal all four of the captives asleep on the camp-beds that I had generously bought for them in Barnsley. I noticed that Robert was coughing and wheezing in his sleep.

After a moment of incredulity, Victor and Okwonu rushed down into the secret room while Jessica hesitated outside.

"It's you isn't it!" she concluded looking deep into my eyes like a girlfriend testing her lover's fidelity, so I gave her an almighty shove and she also tumbled into the underhouse. Rapidly, I slammed the reinforced door and relocked it before you could say "parking enforcement officer".

I whooped with glee and allowed myself a little jig on the decking..."And if seven green bottles should accidentally fall there'd be five green bottles hanging on a wall!" I'd bagged three of the blighters! Now that's what you call a successful fishing trip.


  1. Keep up the good work, YP. In time to come, you could be awarded an OBE for services rendered! (PS Is it getting a bit crowded in your cellar now?)

  2. What an imagination you have! You have the makings of a fascinating novel or screenplay here. Of course, the names would have to be changed to protect the innocent.

    Speaking of splendiferous glory, it appears that early autumn has come to Broomhill. Still very much summer around here except for a few red-tinged leaves that tickle our fancies.

  3. JENNY I did buy twelve camp-beds and it was always my intention to fill each bed. Why not gather a couple of parking attendants in Wrexham? You could counsel them till the cows came home.
    RHYMES WITH... Mr Brague, I have to confess that the photo you can see was not one of my own. I culled it from Google Images. While capturing parking officials, did you really think I would be snapping photos at the same time? Please be assured we are still very much "in summertime" in Sheffield and the trees remain in full leaf. Do they have parking officials in Canton? Why not collect one? You could use him/her as a housemaid or butler. Then Ellie could put her feet up instead of having to wait on you twenty four hours a day.

  4. I don't know about you, but I can't find decent salmon anywhere anymore.

    Recipe for Baked Public Servant

    1 bulb fennel, cored and thinly sliced
    1 large onion, thinly sliced
    4 large cloves garlic, chopped
    1/2 cup pitted and chopped good quality black and green olives
    20 pounds fillets, cut into 4 portions (get thick pieces from the tail-endr cuts rather than center pieces)
    Salt and pepper
    1/4 cup flat-leaf parsley, a generous handful, chopped
    Extra-virgin olive oil, for generous drizzling
    1 lemon
    Crusty bread, to pass at table
    Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.

    Make layered stacks dividing the fennel, onions, garlic, olives, and flesh. Season with salt and pepper and top with parsley. Drizzle extra-virgin olive oil liberally over the portions. Arrange on baking sheet and place in the center of hot oven.

    Bake 20 minutes. Serve with lemon wedges. Pass bread to mop up the cooking juices.

  5. I know you started your campaign somewhat opportunistically, but I've done some research and discovered that Sheffield employs 51 full-time and 4 part-time civil enforement officer and I suspect that you will run out of space in your underhouse before you bag the lot.

    Might I suggest a surgical strike, as the US forces might put it, to take out the high command? There are six full-time and one part-time Senior CEOs who I'm guessing you still have room for. Deal with them and their command structure is neutralised.

    It is time to strike a strategic blow for freedome.

    You might try reading the enforcement manual. Know your enemy!

  6. I think my comment got blocked because I included a link.

  7. JAN B - Cannibalism? The thought hadn't occurred to me but your recipe sounds delicious and a couple of the parking enforcement officers do look deliciously plump - like Xmas turkeys.
    SHOOT PEE If the link was blocked it is nothing to do with me - could be Blogger. What was the link anyway? I hope it wasn't to Wayne Rooney's latest bestseller "Roger and Out!"

  8. Hmm. Wonder what happened? It is probably too late now but I have been doing some logistical planning on your behalf. I discovered that Sheffield has 51 Civil Enforcement Officers and I guessed you'd run out of space in the underhouse before you completed your mission.

    My suggestion was for a surgical strike, as the military might put it. There are just six full-time and one part-time Senior CEOs and if you could take them out, they would be a snake without a head.

    It could be academic now if you've been rumbled.


Mr Pudding welcomes all genuine comments - even those with which he disagrees. However, puerile or abusive comments from anonymous contributors will continue to be given the short shrift they deserve. Any spam comments that get through Google/Blogger defences will also be quickly deleted.

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