The Third Leader: Park life

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The Independent Online

In the press and clamour for attention in busy lives, I so often find it's the unshowy and the everyday that tend to go unremarked, as they carry out their vital function without fuss, refreshingly free of the desire for fickle fame. Occasionally, though, one of these shy features finds itself blinking in the light of unaccustomed notice, and blushing rather to the sound of applause.

Today is just such an occasion: ladies and gentlemen, I give you... the car park.

Indeed: we have a list of the nation's top parking facilities. Marvellous. Well done, St James of King's Lynn, number one - and how fitting that the saint should be patron of both riders and blacksmiths - by extension drivers and panel-beaters. We won't go into the worst car parks, also named, because we don't wish to spoil the big day.

So focus, please, on the soothing cradle-like lull of circling; the incomparable thrill of the empty space; the companionly and vigorous wave from the other driver who seems to think he found it first; the challenge to drive in or reverse, the happy relief of reunion achieved without having to hold your keys in the air, press and hope for a friendly bleep and flash; the heady release as the barrier rises: simple things, yes, but how much poorer would your lives be without them?

That's why I should also like to salute some others of the unsaluted. Step forward, in no particular order, and take a bow: the zebra crossing, the lay-by, the television remote control, the bin liner, the belt, toast, John Prescott, the knee, sleep, the bath, the coat hanger, the dishcloth, the brake, socks, peas, and, last - and least - the full stop:.