FINE: Not the way to treat visitors
I write out of disappointment, sadly.
Returning north to my home in Edinburgh, I turned off the new Great North Road to take a break in your fine town of Morpeth.
I once would call on a free vintner here and used to be a frequent visitor – no doubt that was the impulsive sentiment that drew me in.
Since then, I have had the privilege to become a qualified Blue Badge Tourist Guide in Scotland and have often holidayed walking nearby on your beautiful coast.
For this reason (the guide’s curiosity and need for learning), I take a natural interest in the history and structures of places, and I was delighted to see Vice Admiral Collingwood’s delightful house and plaque.
I pulled over to take photographs, and returned to my car to consult that wonderful phenomenon, Wikipedia, to remind me of his story. Silly me.
Now I must admit to having stupidly parked on zig-zag lines, but as I read there came an abrupt knock on the window and a red-jacketed gentleman was issuing me, with triumph in his demeanour, a 35 guinea fine.
In my astonishment I ventured “You might, sir, have first requested I move on”.
“It is not, sir, my responsibility to forewarn you of such action” quoth he, though I am not sure upon reflection if either used the pronoun ‘sir’.
As I removed my carriage, my mind noted “Yes Squire Jobsworth, that may well be, but you are a member of society and as a member of humanity it is customary to behave towards visitors with considerate aforethought.
“The consequence might be that such a delinquent, now impoverished, tourist might visit once more, and mention your Burgh with kind words of praise in the company of many that he may meet, before his inevitable end, the same that will curtail us all.”
Anyhow, I repaired to your lovely riverbank, with its fine chestnut, lime and sycamore, and wrote this to bring calm once more. Perhaps there are lessons to be learned from this, on both sides.
I look forward to visiting once more, though perhaps rather warily.