(Car) park life

This (see http://www.iomtoday.co.im/news/isle-of-man-news/car-park-used-as-a-race-track-1-7290784 ) gave me a few minutes of amusement.

The Isle of Man is no different to any small, unfashionable UK town where teens congregate in badly repainted 10 year old hatchbacks, last year’s hip-hop blaring out the wound-down windows way too loud. The Manx kids are as blissfully unaware as West Country farm-boys that they will never be as cool as city kids, but to educate them would be far too cruel. The two things they have going for them are that (1) they can drive at 16, not 17 and (2) we have no speed limits outside built-up areas and a history of road-racing, so they get it out of their system earlier and the emergency services are better equipped to cope until they do.

So that was not the chief source of amusement, and as I am well used to the sort of drivel their equally unhip elders spout on the island’s newspaper website neither were their comments. Both are old jokes to me by now, not even worth a silent snigger.

No, what made me laugh was an old story I have now heard from several retired police officers about a little late-night amusement of theirs on the same spot back in the 1980’s. It appears that bored officers used to meet up for a quiet smoke in the same multi-storey car park while waiting for the pubs to turn out. One, noticing all the abandoned supermarket trolleys, idly mused on their potential as race cars. The inevitable next step was that one beefy cop ended up squashed in the front of one, being pushed by another, and others joined in.

And so it was that a secretive trolley-racing session became a regular Saturday night sport, at least until a multiple trolley pile-up down a steep ramp resulted in most of the night’s contingent of one specialist unit being rushed to outpatients with cuts and bruises which could not easily be explained away. Enquiries inevitably followed, but as at least one very senior officer was amused enough by the canteen gossip to wander down there and witness the sight, no recriminations followed when the casualties returned to duty.

Those I gather were involved will be long retired by now. For what it is worth, they seem to have had otherwise spotless careers and did sterling work on some of the island’s most demanding cases, with some going on to senior roles.

Of course, in the 21st century police force, and with both plod and the rest of us under 24 hour surveillance from Big Brother, none of this could happen these days. Which makes me laugh all the more at the fuss about a bunch of unimaginative teenagers who lack the wit or energy to invent their own culture. Things on the Isle of Man are in a pretty poor state when the antics of a bunch of 1980’s coppers make spoilt teenagers in 2015 look like sad old men at a Morris Minor convention.

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