Tickets don't worry the big wheels

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The Independent Online
HOW do you cope with the horrors and difficulties of parking in today's cities? The answer is that you've probably given up trying, so we've asked nine celebrities to tell us their secrets for beating the traffic warden.

The Bishop of Durham: 'I find it hard to believe that there really is a true historical figure called A N Wilson. Even if one has seen him on the television and read his stuff, it does not make his existence any more probable. One is more likely to believe in the existence of Brian Sewell, and as Brian Sewell clearly does not exist, I am afraid that does not argue strongly for the existence of A N Wilson. I also firmly believe, however, that we need someone like A N Wilson to exist, someone who will embody our doubts and prosaic longings. Is it possible that we have collectively invented him? All too possible, I feel.

'I'm sorry? Parking problems? Oh, I automatically assumed that you wanted to talk about A N Wilson's new book. Oh, I have no parking problems. I leave my episcopal limousine wherever I like, with a note saying: 'God will strike you dead if you touch this. That is, of course, if He exists'.'

Bob Geldof: 'I always made sure I had a job that took me out late at night so I would have no parking problems. Either that, or to countries in Africa that had no shortage of space. Now I have a job which takes me out so early in the morning that there are still no problems. No parking problems, at least. But if I ever get a normal daytime job, I'll ring you back.'

Norman Lamont: 'I have always stated quite firmly what my policy towards parking is, and I have never changed in that respect. I place my car in the right place at the right time, at a speed which is good for everyone. That way, everyone is happy. If conditions are not to my liking, then I use my common sense and opt out of the system, and do what I damn well like, and just leave the car in any old space. Yes, I do get parking tickets. Yes, I have spent about pounds 50bn on them. No, not personally. It was someone else's money. Personally, I blame the Germans.'

Jeremy Beadle: 'I have no car. I just get in someone else's and drive away. Occasionally people kick up a fuss, but they usually don't object when they realise who I am. They simply think it's being filmed for the programme. We have a load of laughs.'

Bryan Gould: 'Yes, well, people keep asking me for the real reason behind my resignation from the post of Shadow Secretary of State for National Heritage. Is it, they ask, too depressing to be a shadow figure of fun? Have I been having a shady affair or accepting phantom holidays from the wrong people? Not at all. I just think that far too few people resign on principle these days. When the man I was shadowing resigned, I felt it was only right for me to follow him. Parking? I try to get into John Smith's space. Failing that, I drive round and round in circles.'

Princess Margaret: 'Parking is no problem when one has a chauffeur and the country's police force at one's beck and one's call. But when things are going to be particularly tight, one tends to take one's helicopter, doesn't one? Oh, haven't you? Oh, one can thoroughly recommend it. One's friends always seem to have a spare paddock or meadow for the old red chopper to land in. Though don't, for heaven's sake, land on the croquet lawn] I did that once. Never got asked back again. Didn't stop me going back, of course. Did you know, by the way, that it is almost impossible, and probably illegal, to clamp a helicopter? There's a priceless bit of information. Worth thinking about in these penniless times.'

Jeffrey Archer: 'Actually, it's not Jeffrey Archer any more. It's Lord Archer. I don't want to make a point of it. No, I really don't. But you wouldn't go round calling Baroness Thatcher Mrs Thatcher, would you?'

Mrs Thatcher: 'I am afraid I do not give my advice on parking in London for free. For my rates I refer you to the Thatcher Foundation. Ask for extension 33 and request a price for a short quote - I don't think it would be in excess of dollars 1,000. Thank you.'

Salman Rushdie: 'I am afraid I cannot tell you where I park. It is strictly against my contract. If, however, you would like me to appear unexpectedly on your book show, I can usually arrange to be there at short notice. Yes, I am generally here during the day.'