If you’re reading this and you live in Portsmouth then, chances are, parking is an issue for your family.
My husband and I are lucky enough to live in a property that has a garage, and we have recently purchased new garage doors, and paid for a white line that signifies to drivers that they should not park there. I can detail exactly how many hours I’ve worked to foot the bill, but it should be worth it.
However, even though parking is not hugely limited, people park outside of our garage all the time. Once, somebody parked there for an entire week, and if that is not a definition of ‘inconsiderate’, then I don’t know what is. Most of our neighbours with garages, or designated spaces, have the exact same problem. One poor woman, who lives at the back of our house, awoke last month to find some inconsiderate swine had parked across her driveway, visibly blocking her in. She couldn’t even leave to go to work, and presumably had to ring a taxi instead.
Don’t get me wrong, if it’s an emergency, or incredibly late at night and you’ll be back at the crack of dawn, then we’d be understanding, but otherwise, if you want a guaranteed parking space, then go buy or rent one. If people even had the courtesy to knock the door, explain that they needed to park there, and enquired as to whether or not they’d be inconveniencing us, then it wouldn’t seem so bad. If it was a young girl parking at 3am because she doesn’t want to walk home for miles, then again, we’d understand. But, from what I have ascertained over the years, it generally isn’t.
We leave polite notes if someone has really been taking the proverbial urine and has spent days parked in the space, and these are always respected and the car isn’t seen there again – but should we have to be writing notes explaining what the garage, the line, and the drop kerb indicate?
The problem is, that once you live in a property with a designated space, where someone has paid to have a kerb dropped, or a garage built, or a driveway constructed, then, in the back of your mind, it is there waiting for you. You know that when you return home with the food shop, or the babies in their carseats, or your elderly relatives who can’t walk very far, you’re going to be able to park. Or so you’d think.
And sometimes, people need that space for situations that never usually occur to the average parker. The night that my grandad passed away, for example, I returned home late. I was drained, heartbroken, and stunned, having spent several hours waiting for the emergency undertakers and the police to leave. But I had to park some distance away because, of course, the garage space was taken. I walked back through the dark, alone and crying. To be honest, I could have done with being able to pull up outside in order to stumble into my husband’s arms, as opposed to driving around finding a space, then wandering home in a state of dazed bereavement.
Last Saturday, after someone else had spent the previous 24 hours in our space, another driver parked in it, sitting with the engine running, talking on the phone. I approached and got so far as saying, “I’m ever so sorry to sound fussy … “, before they completed my sentence for me.
“Out the way of the garage, yeah,” they responded, and parked on the other side – which was empty of cars.
Had I been able to finish, I’d have explained that they didn’t need to move then, but that we are trying to deter people from parking there so that we can use it, especially as a friend is using one half for storage, and could they possibly refrain in future.
However, no sooner had Amelie and I retrieved her bike from the garage, than the driver shouted across the street to me.
“All that and you’re not even parking in it anyway?!”
The funny thing is, I can ring the parking wardens and they’ll come immediately and put a ticket on the cars that are left there, but I would hate to cause bad feeling. All I’m after, please, is a smidgen of courtesy.
First published in The Portsmouth News, Tuesday 23rd June 2015