No idling, no talk­ing, no li­cence

The Jewish Chronicle - - LIFE - PETER ROSENGARD


My climber daugh­ter, Lily, What­sAppd me from Aus­tralia a photo of her about to climb a 400 ft ver­ti­cal rock. I couldn’t see any ropes — I woke up wor­ry­ing ev­ery 20 min­utes.


Ex­hausted, I got out of bed and looked at the photo again and re­alised Mel­bourne’s 9 hours ahead — so she had al­ready climbed it when I re­ceived it!


On my Vespa at the traf­fic lights by Lord’s cricket ground I saw a ball of white fluff on the pave­ment. A man hold­ing a cat car­rier was wait­ing to cross the road. “Ex­cuse me, I think you’ve dropped your cat,” I said, point­ing to the mo­tion­less ball of fluff.

He looked at me… then at the ball of fur, then in his cat car­rier. The lights changed and as I zoomed off I re­alised the “kit­ten” was a child’s ball of fur, the kind they dan­gle from their gloves.

11 AM I lost my driv­ing li­cence.

6 PM

On the rush hour tube, as the train ap­proached Ox­ford Cir­cus the young woman sit­ting op­po­site me stood up, leav­ing her empty plas­tic bot­tle of Evian on the seat. I picked it up and handed it to her.

“I don’t want it,” she said drop­ping it back on the seat.

“Save the ocean!” I said. “Save the fish!”

“Save what? What fish?” she said. “We’re on the tube.”

“A hump­back whale could choke to death on that Evian bot­tle,” I said.

“A hump­back whale? On the Cen­tral Line?” she replied.

“OK — maybe they use the Ju­bilee Line”, I said. “But what about a sar­dine then? What’s go­ing to hap­pen if an in­no­cent lit­tle sar­dine tries to swal­low it?” I said, stick­ing the bot­tle back into her hand.

“EVIAN IS NAIVE BACK­WARDS!” I shouted as she got off as the doors closed. I like to do my bit to save the planet.


I’d just left the den­tist when I saw a park­ing war­den stand­ing at the lights. He wasn’t wear­ing the nor­mal blue uni­form but a green one. “New uni­forms?” I ask.

“I’m idling”, he says. “I’m an idling war­den.”

“That sounds like a good job,” I said. “How idle do you have to be to get the job? To­tally idle or just semi-idle? Is idling the same as dawdling or loi­ter­ing?”

“What’s your name?” I con­tin­ued.


“I’m Peter. Very good to meet you, Mustafa.”

“Peter — it’s the peo­ple who are idling. not me.”

“So they’re giv­ing tick­ets now to lazy peo­ple?”

“No Peter, not to lazy peo­ple. It’s their cars! If the drivers are parked with their en­gines on they’re idling — and I give them a ticket — ”


I was off to the big match — The Times Na­tional Cross­word Cham­pi­onships, where I was given a pink wrist band.

“Why pink?” I asked the se­cu­rity guard?

“Did you know that in Vic­to­rian times, pink was the colour par­ents dressed boys in?” he said.

“No, I didn’t know that,” I said. I was there to sup­port my friend, Johnny the Cross­word King. I as­sumed there would be hun­dreds of scream­ing cross­word fans cheer­ing their favourites on. But apart from one el­derly woman sit­ting read­ing a book, I was the only other per­son watch­ing 150 mid­dle aged men in grey pullovers bent silently over their desks do­ing cross­words. The el­derly woman fell asleep so I walked across and gave her a nudge. “Ex­cuse me, what time do they fin­ish?” I whis­pered.

She woke up: “Sssh!!!” she said. “They can hear you.”

“It’s your loud ‘sssh’ they’ll hear, not my whis­per!” I said.

Johnny didn’t get past the pre­lim­i­nary round. This came as a huge re­lief: I couldn’t face the idea of sit­ting in si­lence for the next four hours.

Af­ter­wards, on the way to the pub for lunch, I asked him the big ques­tion: “Where were all the women cross worders?”

“Women don’t do cross­words”, he said.

On my way home, rid­ing on my Vespa along Maryle­bone High Street, I saw Mustafa. He waved.

“Keep busy Mustafa!” I shouted as I rode by.

“No idling!”

I got home to find a hand writ­ten let­ter with a sec­ond class stamp wait­ing for me. The rare ex­cite­ment these days of get­ting a hand­writ­ten let­ter! Maybe it’s from an old friend? An old girl­friend? An old ex-wife?

I sat down with a glass of red wine in my arm­chair by the fire­place and opened it.

In­side was my driv­ing li­cence.

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