” Grounded “

I really should not mock the afflicted…but apart from that I can laugh at the arrogant and appreciate the twists of fate.

Last week , on our freeway system, I saw a tradie’s truck pulled over at the side of the road with a motorcycle policeman in attendance. Full ceremonials, too, with red and blue lights going like crazy.

The tradie was being given some sort of ticket for some sort of offence – I suspect from the position of the cop’s bike that it was for speeding in a section of the freeway that has always been 80 km per hour speed limit. Of course there are other offences like being on your mobile phone or weaving through lanes with no signals that also attract the motorcycle Plod. I passed under the limit but had time to see the sign on the side of the trade van:

” Grounded “.

I didn’t have a camera, and using it would have been an offence anyway, but I can appreciate the occasional joke from Karma to brighten the day.

 

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Le Blue Streak – Hyde Park – Part Two

I have a passion for blue French cars – my first vehicle was a blue Renault – but do not think I have encountered this Delage before today. It would have stood out sharply in my mind. As it is I was delighted with it.

From the radiator cap that doubles as a thermometer en francais…

 to the rather intriguing ” oleometre ” … ( I suspect the red segments of the cross open up to white as the oil pressure rises in the engine )…

to the extremely discrete speedometer and tachometer…

this is a triumph of Gallic style over substance. Or rather of French thinking which can be done after a long lunch in the shade. I recognize the laterality of it all from some of the ideas found on my Renault.

The back seat is positively decadent, if you can persuade anyone into it with you. I tried and the case comes up Monday.

I intend to plead diminished responsibility on account of the colour of the car and the polished metal bonnet. I shall tender a photograph of the capped crank coupling in front of the engine and the friction shock absorbers to prove that I was lead astray.

 

The Glitter Bomb Parcel

For the one person on the continent who has not seen the YouTube video of the glitter bomb parcel that punishes package thieves, we’ll suspend this column and wait…

Okay. Back again?  Good wasn’t it? You really wanted it to work, didn’t you…including the fart spray?

But did you notice a few things about the thieves? Some were black and driving around in packs, but some were white, driving an expensive car around alone…but still stealing parcels. The couple out for a stroll in the neighbourhood were just getting good exercise…while they stole parcels. The constant factor for Winnetka, Illinois ( where it was filmed ) is that people steal parcels.

Here in Perth I daresay we have some parcel thieves as well – from druggies and vagrants to bored teenagers and hunter-gatherer packs from squalid suburbs. But it may be less of a problem due to less packages being left. I spoke to a friend in the courier business and he detailed some of the problems there can be in actually getting things to the doorsteps of houses that will not allow a close approach – but who still want unattended drops. Some of the recipients sound like they are not thinking the thing through.

Again, there can be some delivery firms – thankfully not the one that my friend works for – that have a cavalier attitude to actual delivery. They may skip up to the door and ring the bell, but run away without waiting for the arthritic or hard of hearing to get to the door. Then the sequence of trying to collect a parcel from some distant depot starts, and you wonder if any on-line shopping is worth the hassle.

I’m lucky, my parcels are generally delivered by a very nice Indian man who waits for me to get to the door and passes the time of day with me as we sign for things. I can feel confident that he does not leave me in the lurch. And I will have no need to develop my own glitter bomb. Though I may make up a few fart spray presents for birthdays. People do appreciate an effort…

The Price Of Crime

I take no interest in screen crime – and only marginally more in the detective novel stuff. There’s a warm spot in my heart for Kinky Friedman, Father Brown, and Hercule Poirot but that’s about it. However I have an intense interest in our local criminals who prey on shops.

I don’t work in a shop anymore – and we didn’t have much shop crime at any time – but I do visit our local hobby store. And their experience with criminals is affecting me.

They are in a nice new set of tilt-up premises along a major highway. They share the complex with a couple dozen good shops. But they seem to be the target for break and enter thieves. Ever since they opened – and that was just a little over a year ago – they have had 11 break-ins at the front of the premises. The thieves want the expensive radio control gear, drones, and other salable goods. Presumably there is a criminal trade in this for the holidays.

Now there is a new determination on the part of the management to resist this sort of thing. They’ve added steel mesh to the front glass window of the store and completely covered the inside with a wooden framework and panelling. It has unfortunately reduced the lighting to the in-store fixtures with no window light to supplement it.

And it has cost – I don’t know how much the previous breakings have netted the thieves or cost the owners – nor do I know the price of the alterations. But I know it all has to be paid for by someone – and that someone is the legitimate customer. We pay a premium price in the cost of goods because of others’ criminality.

Well, let us hope it stops and the economic pressure reduces. I support the shop and hope they will do so well now that the prices can be capped. It is too much to hope that the police will catch the would-be thieves, but perhaps the scum will target someone else now. Or finally achieve their fatal overdose.

Beat The Parcel Bandits This Year

The crime of theft from the front doorsteps of Australia is on the rise – the holiday month plus the increase in on-line shopping means than more and more deliveries are being made…and more and more delivery personnel are discovering that no-one is home.

Some of them make this judgement after ringing the doorbell and knocking for 5 minutes. Some make it from the street as they drive by at 50 kph. The second types are generally Australia Post contractors who just take the parcel back to the local depot and leave it for you to seek. The ones who invest a bit of time at the front mat may to leave the goods under it or behind the potted palm and then buzz off.

Here is where the parcel thieves succeed. They trail delivery trucks until they get one of these unattended drops and then swoop on it after the courier has driven out of the street. The goods are gone and the intended recipient may have a miserable trial trying to get anyone who handled them to admit to it.

The Guild Solution to this is BGA Couriers. In our distinctive cars and vans – we have a magnetic sign that can be whacked onto the doors of any car…and as easily removed again – we drive through the suburbs until we pick up a ” trailer “. There is a list of likely suspects circulated daily and any old Commodores or Hyundai sedans with oxidized paint panels are instantly recognised.

A house is selected – preferably with an open driveway, closed garage doors, and a porch easily seen from the street.. The BGA Courier goes to the door with a temptingly large parcel. The courier seems to ring the bell, but no-one answers…so they prop the parcel in full view of the street and drive away. With a bit of luck the thief swoops, collects the bait, and is off and away.

What’s in the box? Anything we fancy. Old laundry, used, and well past saving. Commercial leaflets that have been accumulating for the last three months. Pistachio shells and glitter in an unsealed bag. Dust from the Hoover. Just anything…

After all, it is the holiday season and in this case we are far better giving than receiving.

 

How Did You Know It Was Me?

a. The charred remains.

b. The characteristic smell.

c. The business card stapled to the victim.

d. The blood sample, hair clump, fingerprint, footprint, nose print, newsprint, and signed confession. Have you never watched CSI or read an Agatha Christie novel?

e. Your invoice for bullets and petrol. Bit steep…

f. The CCTV coverage. Was it necessary to take a bow? Three times? And hold up a credits sign?

g. The testimony of your ex. And the milkman. And the Dalai Lama. You have seriously pissed some people off…

h. Satellite images from Google Earth. We missed out on Boulder Dam but we saw you…

i. You wrote a full confession and mailed it into the office. In duplicate.

j. The little grey cells. And you are headed for one right now…

k. We have a book: ” 101 great mystery plots ” and you fit No. 46 perfectly.

l. Your mother turned you in. Also your father, three aunts, and the woman who runs the deli. You should have paid your tab up long before this…

m. We guessed. Okay, we’ve hung three other people so far for the same crime, but hey – you can’t get it right first time all the time. And they probably deserved it.

 

 

Dirty Work At the Crossroads

I have decided to take up the life of a highwayman.

I found a long black cloak and hat with a brim that goes over my eyes. The local Parties-R-Us had a good selection of black masks. I’ve enrolled in a course of horse riding – and I asked specifically for a fiery steed. The lady at the riding school was a little skeptical, but has promised to put me down for ” Sparkles “. Apparently they have a lot of highway robbers in the Shetlands and have developed a special horse for them…or so she says.

My application to the Police Firearms Branch for a licence for a brace of pistols for purposes of robbery went in Monday so that’s all right. I’ve been practicing my flourishing in the mirror with a pair of large bananas and I think I can manage pretty well – provided Sparkles is going to stand still.

The only two things left to sort out are what the schedule of the mail coach is and where I shall bail it up. I believe the country mail for Albany and the wheatbelt is taken on coaches now that most of the rail services have been closed down, so that should mean good pickings. I am also hoping for gouty squires and aristocratic maidens with purses full of sovereigns. I plan to barricade the highway to force the coach to stop by rolling large rocks onto the bitumen. I’ve seen it done by a coyote in cartoons.

The thought has just come to me…I’ll need a highwayman’s name. Something to strike terror into the gouty squires and set the hearts of the maidens fluttering. Perhaps it would be as well to change from referring to myself as Uncle Dick and become Captain Dick – the Terror of Tammin.

I’ve seen Tammin, and frankly, it terrifies me.