Parking tickets, bus lane fines, speeding fines, you name it I’ve paid it, albeit grudgingly. You’ve probably gathered by now I like to complain about many things, but paying ridiculous, unnecessary fines is sky high on my list of complaints. Why? I think fines are a complete waste of money. And who likes wasting money? Who has money to waste? Handing over obscene amounts of money to an authority which claims the fee goes towards ‘security and repair’ of the borough/area is the last thing I want to do, especially when in reality it goes towards paying for the set up of yet another speed camera or parking meter to catch you out. And what perplexes me is the inconsistency of the punishment. You get a ticket on one side of the road and it costs you £60, you get a ticket on the other and it’s £120. In some cases you get clamped and in extreme cases you walk back to find your car’s not even there- it’s been towed away. And while I’m on the topic, can someone please explain to me why parking/bus lane fines (within the UK) are more expensive than speeding fines? Why is it that you have to part with £120 for going in a bus lane and it’s £60 and 3 points if you get caught speeding?  Surely speeding is worse than parking. At least your parked car isn’t likely to go and mow down an innocent citizen; highly unlikely to cause any deaths is it?

I don’t know what disheartens me more, seeing the double flash of a speed camera or finding a ticket slapped on my windscreen like it was a flyer for some poxy nightclub. In those cases, I often wish it was. I was once driving through Camden, London, when my heavily pregnant friend had the sudden urge to relieve herself (not unusual).  The trouble was I had to escort her to the nearest toilet and so had to park up. With only 20p change between us we had precisely 6 minutes. 7 minutes later she hobbled back to my car, myself alongside her, and what do I see? A parking attendant hovering next to my vehicle with a ticket dispenser in one hand, camera in the other, conducting a photoshoot. Astonishing. She must have been hiding behind a tree, ready and waiting to pounce as soon as the meter ticked over to 0 minutes. Bitch. I ran up to her and started shouting, my temper rocketing instantly. I hastily explained about my pregnant friend needing the toilet and she turned, looked at me with a blank and vacant expression and said in a heavy Nigerian accent “Well. What do you want me to do about it?”

What better way to describe her than this:
The parking warden' in Little Miss Jocelyn

I replied: “ some compassion? Do you have children? Have you ever been pregnant? Don’t you know what it’s like to have to piss every 10 minutes accommodating a 2 stone barrel on your stomach?”

Miraculously, she seemed humoured, and without any prior warning began taking pictures my heavily pregnant friend and her bulging stomach. She finished writing my ticket, wrote her name and attendant code at the top and told me to get in touch with Camden council to have my ticket voided and that she would provide the photographic evidence of my pregnant friend. I have used many excuses to get out of parking fines, but this seemed to work wonders. Regardless of this instance, I always write a letter of protestation anyway. Did you know 65% of London parking fines were dropped last year after appeals? You do the maths. It’s always good to contest, because more often than not your ticket is unwarranted anyway.

And another thing I hate about parking attendants (specifically male ones), is that they’re sleazy. I once parked up by Leicester Square in central London, only to find a scary parking warden with beady eyes looming over my car and peering through my window. Thinking he was going to ticket me, I instinctively turned on my ignition and started to drive away when he ran up, knocked on the glass and told me he wasn’t going to give me a ticket, but that he wanted my phone number so he could take me out on a date. Ha! I looked at him and cackled in his face like a witch. As if I’d ever date someone who made their money hiding behind bushes, catching out innocent drivers and giving undue fines. I wound up my window, sped off, and as I looked through my rear-view I saw him standing sheepishly in the middle of the road. Bastard.

Talking of sleaze, I once got pulled over by an undercover police car (something which I also have a deep-rooted hatred for) for apparently doing 110mph in a 50mph zone, although I beg to differ. I was on my way to see my now ex-boyfriend and so fortunately was dolled up in a very low cut top and skin-tight trousers complete with saucy red lipstick. When I was asked to step out of the car by one of the three officers involved, his eyes lit up. Jackpot. I ‘accidentally’ gave my boobies a little squeeze and fluttered my eyelashes. His astringent expression melted and softened into a look of fleeting infatuation, call it puppy dog eyes. Now I know this all sounds very big headed of me, I don’t think of myself as highly attractive, but in this instance I was using all the ammunition I had. And that meant cleavage. He asked patronisingly if I had had an argument with my boyfriend, and when I started *ahem* crying he readily began to give me advice on my predicament and said my boyfriend was lucky to have me. I should’ve have been banned on the spot for going over 100mph. I drove away with no points and no fine. I’d proudly pimped myself out of a driving ban. Just goes to show men think with their dicks, and in that particular instance I wasn’t complaining.

Of course other than these two examples there have been occasions where I haven’t been able to argue or pimp my way out of a fine and have had to pay up. It’s not a situation I like to find myself in. Ever. Forcing myself to hand over absurd amounts of money for a minor offence riles me beyond belief, but I have to accept the inevitable that the fines and tickets will keep on coming. With unmarked cameras cropping up everywhere and parking attendants hiding behind every corner, no matter how hard you try, how responsible you are, at one stage you will always get caught. So my only word of advice is contest, contest, contest!


5 airports, 4 weeks, 3 countries. I’ve spent most of the past 28 days airborne and as I write this I’m sitting in the departure hall ready for my fifth and final flight. Home. As much as I hate flying, I love ‘airport atmosphere’ (although of course that greatly depends on the airport) and their two contrasting atmospheres: the holiday excitement in the departures hall and the anticipation of being reunited with loved ones in arrivals. But as much as I love ‘airport atmosphere’, I hate just about everything else that comes with it.

Take for example Departures. As soon as you’re dropped off outside- be it by taxi, public transport or family- you are confronted with melodramatic loved ones saying their over emotional goodbyes, tears of sadness at their impending separation. And if they’re not crying they’re stressed, most likely because they are running late for their flight. I recurrently fall into this category. As many of you know; I’m not big on punctuality. Usually I’m the very last person on the plane, the idiot that keeps everyone waiting because I can’t find my gate number, or because the painstakingly scrupulous airport security yet again fails to believe that it’s actually me in my passport photo (to be fair the photo doesn’t even look like me, in the photo I have light skin, blue contact lenses and straight hair- a far cry from my usual tan, brown eyes and afro). On the topic of airport security though, an obvious pointer about getting through hand luggage check quickly; always join the queue with the most white people who look like they have names like David Adams, Sarah Johnson or Brian Smith. I cannot stress this enough. Why? The queue always moves faster. Racism/ prejudice is not dead. If you’re running late, let’s face it, standing behind Mohammed and his suspiciously bulky rucksack isn’t really going to get you on the plane any quicker is it?  Of course I wouldn’t have to use these shameful methods to get through security quicker if I had better time management skills and wasn’t always running behind schedule. The four flights I had prior to this have allowed me to practise being on time. As you can see I’ve perfected my punctuality or else I wouldn’t have had the time to scribble my blog down as I am now.

This is what I was confronted with  the last trip I made to Oslo from Gatwick Airport. A body scanner, complete with passport, boarding pass, fingerprint and eye (iris/pupil) check. Speechless.

I’ve given up on the duty free shopping; it’s too stressful for me to bear. That being said the value gained from duty free shopping all depends on the airport. But regardless, in my opinion, duty free customers fall into two categories:  The sane and the insane. The people who spend wisely and the people who burn their pockets buying crates of pointless shit like 10 packs of M&M’s, tacky key rings and I <3 NYC tourist propaganda grabbing them of the shelves as if it was Armageddon. And they’re crazy too. Just now I was browsing the duty free perfume section trying to uncover a new suitable scent for myself when I was rammed from behind. By a trolley. A trolley?! This isn’t a supermarket. The women in question didn’t even apologise. She was too busy ogling the perfume. Glancing in her trolley it looked like she’d brought everything in the shop, and still she wanted more? She started spraying D&G, Lacoste, Kenzo, Paco Rabanne and then Britney Spears, the scent amalgamating into a tacky cologne pervading my nostrils. My eyes watered, my skin itched, I was getting a headache. I left without buying anything.

Another thing I can’t get my head round are passengers who hover like wasps around their gate number, desperate to get on the place first even though their seat number says 48D. Step back fool didn’t you hear them say business class? Why are you rushing to get on a plane that you will be trapped in for ‘x’ amount of hours, wedged into a back- aching, knee-bumping seat? It’s not as if your ticket is invalid or it’s first come first serve. Pipe down.

And with departure comes arrival. In this instance I really do want to be off the plane first, so I can power walk like Jane Fonda all the way to the immigration queue in the hope I won’t be held up by my dodgy passport photo as they scrutinize my face to make sure I’m not an illegal immigrant. The same tips about getting swiftly getting through hand luggage check can also be applied here. Stand behind the whites and don’t affiliate yourself with Arabs, Asians or blacks.

The next obstacle is baggage reclaim. Why is it my bag is always next to last? All the time I gained rushing off the plane and power walking is wasted and everyone has played catch up. I’m normally one of the last people worriedly waiting for my bag to emerge. Usually it comes out so late it’s after the prams, the skis and the animals. In the very few instances where my bag has appeared first the other predicament is managing to swipe it off the carousel. I am not usually one to shove and push but if I see my bag go past you’re getting elbowed out the way, pronto. I am not waiting for it to go round another lap while you park up your 5 empty trolleys by the carousel waiting in vain for your bags which are nowhere to been seen. Wait you turn and get out my way.

And finally my favourite part.- Inshallah you get your bags back and you’re not stopped for drug-trafficking-  when you walk out of customs from behind the screen feeling like a dishevelled superstar. I almost feel as if people are waiting to get their cameras out as they grin with anticipation and hold their welcome home signs. And better than that the jokes you get from reading the name placards. I remember once at Dubai airport I saw a sign saying “Mohammed Khalid Waled Hassan Ali Abdul III.” Sure you won’t miss him; with a name like that he’s probably wearing a gold encrusted kaffiyah and has an entourage of 10 slaves.

But besides all my jokes and issues with airport security, my favourite arrival hall will always be Heathrow/Gatwick because no matter how good my getaway was, it’s always good to be home and see my family waving over-enthusiastically in my direction.

As an extra I’ve decided to jot down the best and worst airports I’ve been to over the years. Feel free to add to the list by leaving a comment!

Bangkok BKK
Heathrow (Terminal 5 only) LHR
Singapore SIN
Miami MIA
Ko Samui (Thailand)
Dubai DXB

Mumbai (India) BOM
Bahrain BAH
Doha (Qatar) DOH
Varadero (Cuba) VRA
Charles De Gaulle (France) CDG
John F. Kennedy (New York) JFK