Monday, July 30, 2007

J is for Jansson

Because the Moomins live the way people ought to be able to live. And under the ice, or in the Lonely Mountains, there is a distant echo of that same Sehnsucht I find in Lord of the Rings and so few other places.

I have always wanted to be like Snufkin. Though I am probably really rather more like Sniff.

...Snufkin continued his walk. He had arrived at a long fence. It was hung with notices at regular intervals:


The Park Keeper and the Park Wardress lived together, in the park, of course. They had cut and sheared every single one of the trees into round blobs and square cubes, and all the gravel paths were straight as pointers. As soon as any leaf of grass dared to come up it was cut off and had to start struggling over again.
The lawns were fenced in on all sides, and the fences were hung with notices telling in big black letters thaat something or other was not allowed.
The Hattifatteners had grown to life-size and now came swarming and moiling towards the Park Keeper from all directions, attracted by his electrified buttons. Small flashes of lightning crossed the air, and the buttons were crackling. Suddenly the Park Keeper's ears lighted up. Then his hair crackled and sparked, his nose began to glow- and all of a sudden the Park Keeper was luminous from top to toe! Shining like a full moon he scuttled off towards the park gates, followed by the army of Hattifatteners.
'And that's that!' said Snufkin. 'Now we shall pull down every single notice, and every single leaf of grass shall be allowed to grow as it likes to.'
All his life Snufkin had longed to pull down notices that asked him not to do things he liked to do, and he was fairly trembling with excitement and anticipation. He started off with:


Then he flew at:


I got a parking ticket the other day, from the mysterious agency that collects parking tickets on behalf of my employer. It had been a cold morning, and the plasticky permit whatsit had been stiff and un-sticky when I moved it from the windscreen of one car to another. I saw it fall off onto the floor, and thought 'Have to stick that up properly when I get into work,' but I forgot, of course, being busy by then thinking about the stuff they pay me to think about. And though the car had been parked in a similar place all year, there was a creepy envelope under the windescreen wiper when I returned at the end of the day. I left it there for a couple of weeks so they could do the honourable thing and remove it, but of course they didn't. I wasn't going to pay it at all, but then I watched The Shawshank Redemption again and lost my nerve. It is $79 for failing to display your permit correctly. Apparently they take a picture of your car, and you have to submit any querulous pleas for mercy in writing to the faceless agency far away, so I as I had no datestamped picture of my my own of the forlorn permit lying on the floor of the car, I couldn't do anything else but pay it. It appears that the penalty for all parking infringements is exactly the same, $79. This is obviously an improvement on the one-size-fits-all penalty favoured in Stalin's later years (25 years in Siberia) or by Ante Pavelic (death), but does seem a bit disproportionate that people whose permits fall of the window must pay the same as those tricksy folks who try to park with no permit at all- though more power to them! And especially the ones who get themselves a 'F*** the Poor' bumper sticker and park in the Vice-Chancellor's spot. They are getting good value for money.

I did not get good value for money. I paid the fine and stuffed the receipt and the permit in the creepy envelope. I wrote 'Mr Gorbachev, tear down this wall!' on it. I left it on top of the pile of getting-a-parking-permit forms as a warning to others, then moved my car to the distant paddock beyond the edge of University property where I parked all last year. I only got bogged there once, and had one window broken, so it will be a small price to pay to stick it to the Man.


Dave said...

There is not a single human being of my acquaintance who could have told that particular parking space story.

I am reassured that after all these years you retain your core Clam-ness.

Jenny said...

My biggest peeve was the "running a red light" ticket I got. I was turning into a side street - so not causing a problem & there were people in the next lane who'd crossed the line a bit earler so they blocked me from any oncoming traffic. They had a picture of me with my front wheel not crossed over 0.1 second after the light went red and another one of me crossed and turning with it red. Since they could prove I hadn't actually got into the intersection before the light went red, I was technically in the wrong. But come on! 0.1 second! At that point I couldn't see whther my wheels had crossed anyway and i was committed. Like Clam, I paid ...because It was technically my fault.