I went to Manchester yesterday. I know! Someone has to..
I was due to attend a meeting at 5.00pm. I left Liverpool at 3.40 which allows for the heavy traffic leaving Liverpool and going into Manchester. It was a very straightforward drive along the M62 and I was heading into the centre of Manchester in good spirits and with a good 20 minutes to spare.
This was when it all began to go wrong. I had booked a parking space at the office of the law firm that was hosting the meeting. This was right in the heart of the city not far from the Town Hall. Without warning, it seemed that every street was suddenly undergoing major road works or was closed. My navigation system was on the verge of a nervous breakdown. Every road that we took was blocked. It was as if the City of Manchester was taking revenge for all the bad things that I have ever said about it. Finally, by pure luck I found myself heading for the road where the firm’s car park was located. Guess what? It was closed.
I managed to pull over at a parking meter. My 20 minutes to spare was now 5 minutes late. I needed £4.50 for meter. I had a £5 note. We have sent people to the moon but nobody has invented a parking meter that takes £5 notes. A sign on the meter invited me to ‘pay by mobile’. So I followed the instructions. There was the normal intro about how important I was and how we would surely be friends for life. I set up a pin number, I put in my card number. Then it asked for the last 2 digits of my expiry date which I typed in. My new best friend told me that it was an error and to please try again. So I put it in again more carefully and got the same message. So I did it a third time in the style of an imbecile who needed to check both digits 5 times before pushing the button. I waited with growing anxiety – ‘Error. Transaction aborted. Goodbye’. Some friend you are. P*** Off!!
So I abandoned that idea and ran into a nearby bar clutching my fiver. The young barmaid must never have seen anyone so desperate for a pint! She looked a bit crestfallen when I asked her for 5 one pound coins. I ran back to the meter and finally got my ticket. By now, a diligent traffic warden was approaching so it was a good job I persevered.
I now ran to the meeting – 15 minutes late. I was rehearsing my apologies by way of a shortened version of this story. When I got to the boardroom 2 people were there looking sheepish. Due to a number of 'no shows' the meeting was…………CANCELLED!!! My anger and frustration had built to such a level that I said – ‘Oh dear. Never mind hey..’ in true English Lawyer style.
Now, I’m sure that some people love Manchester. Their two famous football teams have many fans although to be honest they mostly live in Surrey. But if you ever hear me suggest driving there again you have permission to chain me to a mast and detain me until the madness passes.
So why am I telling you this tale? Partly to get it off my chest. Partly because some might find it amusing in places and most legal blogs are gloomy these days.
But there is in fact a serious message.
What I went through last night gives a small insight into the frustrations of anybody trying to work for the legal rights of those in need.
It seems that all roads are being blocked by the MOJ, insurers, the media, regulators etc.
It doesn’t seem to matter which way you turn, someone is there to try and block the way.
Sometimes it is tempting to give up. But we will be here long after Mr Grayling has gone (hopefully that will not be too long anyway). If we can celebrate 800 years of Magna Carta we will not get rid of the rights of ordinary people this easily!
End of rant.