Funeral in Glasgow

Today, at 1100 hours, I made contact with the Stasi. I took the usual route by subway – it didn’t matter any more if I was followed – and made my way to the huge Lubyanka building in the city centre.


I used my Harry Palmer disguise with the glasses, kept my eyes hooded and my rebellious mien barely supressed. I approached the unsmiling security guard behind the reception desk and delivered the agreed lines. ‘Application for parking permit…Western section.’

She glanced at the screen and sidled her eyes to the left. ‘Desk 33.’

She handed me a ticket. I was number 500 – nice round sum, I noted, and too obvious.

I was aware of eyes following me as I passed uniformed security and a line of glum peasants with the look of those whose life was dedicated to waiting…

Behind Desk 33 was a woman of agricultural disposition. ‘Papers’, she snapped.

I pulled the file marked IPCRESS from my case – it stands for Induction of Psychoneuroses by Council Refusal Staffs.

I removed them one by one – the application form completed in my wife’s name and the car lease agreement, followed by an energy bill and a letter from the brutal state collection department – Revenue and Customs. She looked them over and shook her head.

‘The application is in your wife’s name but energy bill has your name, not hers. The tax letter is in her maiden name, not the one on the form either.’

‘But the address on them all is the same. And you know we live there because we’ve been paying you council tax every month for 14 years.’

‘I have to check your file’. The light from the screen reflected on her glasses as lists of names flashed up. Then… ‘I have found you – both at the same address just as you say.’


At last.

‘But wait’. Damn the triumphant sound in her voice. ‘Her name on the council tax form is different from the one on her permit application.’

‘Of course it is…we weren’t married when we started paying the tax…’ My cool Harry Palmer front was in danger of collapsing. ‘Now we’re married she uses my surname. It’s what people do.’

Fixing me with her stare, she picked up the phone and mumbled into the handset. ‘Now we go to adjudication. Follow me. Desk 10.’

There sat the praesidium executive in her black military suit and crisp white shirt. Farm woman from Desk 33 moved in behind her and both looked me over.

‘Sorry, but the applicant’s names must match with the council tax records.’

I was threatening to blow my cover in anger and the Walther PPK suddenly felt heavy against my ribs.

‘Then tell me what I must do to beat the bureaucracy.’

‘We need to see a marriage certificate to prove identity. The original. No copies.’



I adjusted my glasses. ‘Do you mean to tell me that in 21st century Glasgow I have to produce a marriage certificate to GET A LOUSY PARKING PERMIT…!! So I can put my wife’s car outside my own home where you’ve been taking £2400 a year from me for a decade and now say you don’t believe she lives there…? Do you know the Wall’s come down?’

They were unmoved. Their eyes said this is how it is. We are cogs in the great machine and you are grit.

I gave them my I’ll Be Back look and left wondering how it is that in a westernized country the mentality and practices of the Soviet Regime still operate. Petty officials relentlessly enforcing obstructive rules they know make no sense and merely lead to disaffected citizens. Next time I will demand a meeting with the Stalinist who runs the failed state, the dictator Matheson.

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33 thoughts on “Funeral in Glasgow

  1. At least here in Edinburgh you can do it online.
    I can remember having to go through the same nonsense up on the High Street a few years ago but that is all just an unhappy memory now.
    Isn’t technology wonderful.

  2. majormacbloodnok

    They don’t do ‘on-line’ in Glasgow, because that’s where the CyberNats live.

  3. Sterling display of control.

    Personally, I’d have gone all wolf man and started howling. 🙂

  4. I didn’t know you did humour so well..brightened up the week.. my sympathies! 🙂

  5. Must have had the nail in your hand. What control! Impressive! Superb!

  6. Rosa Alba Macdonald

    Bikes. The answer is a bike with a trailer. Tho’ if it lives doon the stairs leading up to house (because…stairs) with the bins, you will get letter from council about risk of them blowing into legitimately parked cars. And maybe a visit from enviro health that trailer could house vermin.

  7. I can trump that in France. 3 ferking months to get an new Vehicle Registration Document, the original lost in the post by them, because the owner of the car hasn’t been available to get the certificate because she has been in the Caribbeanm, in different Department of the French Republic and not a colony.

    I am reconsidering coming back to live in Glasgow. At least I can blame French bureaucracy, which everyone knows is shite, especially the French. But Glasgow FFS!

    At least the wine is cheap here and the grub better. Today it is !8C.

    Maybe i will stay.

  8. No, it’s not what people do, Derek. Why should the woman change her name; was it even worse than your surname?
    Is the dictator Matheson in the same Labour Party you are going to vote for???
    And yes, the answer is a bike, or a suite of bikes.

  9. You just need to move to the countryside. No parking problems here – spaces at front and back and an empty (if rather narrow) road. No charges either. I stay away from cities whenever possible as parking is dire., and so much shopping can now be done online.

    Time Glasgow dinosaurs dragged themselves into the 21st century. When you can file your tax return online and renew road tax why should anyone queue to renew a parking permit!

  10. Dang. Bikes have already been suggested.

    Well anyway, get a bike. You will not regret it. Folding ones can go to cafes, pictures and pubs with you.

    Try looking for Madness’ Riding on my bike song on YouTube.

  11. Pity you’re not online,you could just do it that way..damn shame 🙂

  12. It’s at times like this, and in offices like this, that an ID card of a giant beetle comes in handy.

  13. Glasgow City Council must do an apprenticeship in red tape.

  14. ianpatterson2014

    Fabulous – you brightened my afternoon!

  15. Much sympathy Derek, now for heavens sake don’t try and buy a house after you have sold your own, at least don’t do it until you have the money in your bank account and by then you will be homeless. I have just returned from the solicitor shaking my head. Nothing and I do mean nothing works in this country any more. Apparently you cannot get bridging either. People go to the bank and get their mortgages approved in principle and then the banks seem to change their mind.
    As a former jobs worth I had the delightful job in the winter of explaining to tax payers that they came really low in the pecking order when it came to having their roads gritted, so I also have sympathy for the people who had to enforce the daft rules with regard to your wife’s parking permit.

  16. Wait till you apply to Scottish Borders Council to re-new the Disabled Parking Blue Badge for your 82 year old stroke victim father, and they want him to turn up in person…walking from the top of the Loan down the Back Row to the Municipal Buildings in the middle of winter…If he could walk in from the car park he wouldnae need the badge…oh and we need photographic ID …”how do we know that’s his picture in his bus pass” they said, despite them issuing his bus pass from the same office, 80 year old mum went mental at them to no avail…Kafka couldnae have written it better…Alisdair Gray wrote about this council type nonsense in Sunday Herald

  17. What’s all this? Thankfully we just need a heavy boulder to stop the tractor taking off.

  18. “You will never understand bureaucracies until you understand that for bureaucrats procedure is everything and outcomes are nothing.” ~ Thomas Sowell

    “Bureaucracy is the art of making the possible impossible.” ~ Javier Pascal Salcedo

  19. Try changing the signatory name on a small charitable group account at a bank. Try changing anything for that matter. Last I heard the ex treasurer of a local group was still getting statements at her ex house 5 years on from when she moved.

    They said it was to prevent money laundering. Funny how there is so much trouble with an 40 year old account that has never had more than 3000 quid in it but they can’t seem to prevent laundering millions for drug runners?

  20. You’ll be advocating an ID databse next. 😉

    • An ID data base would be brilliant. Cannot see what all the fuss is about having one unless you are one of the thousands of overpaid underemployed civil servants who would need to find something useful to do rather than maintain the umpteen fragmented systems that already exist.

  21. Jack Beck/Scotus

    Asking for a bank loan 10 years ago, here in the US, I explained to the (female) manager that my wife allowed me to keep my own name. Humour doesn’t translate!

  22. Come and live on Arran! No need for parking permits here, and you can be in a Glasgow in less than 2 hours by public transport

  23. The French have a solution to this merde and it varies depending on the complainant and the gov/regional/ Dept/ town admin.

    Dump a load of farm manure on their doorsteps, at the week-end and then insurrect or threaten to do so.

    In the cities, get your pals from the country to dump the merde, as a price for letting you into their franchise, ( photos ops and TV time included) and then riot or phone up the local anarcho group (they are in the phone book) and franchise them to do it for you, for a few TV reports (burning buses and tyres an extra).

    and by the way, I have been on the middle class (no violence) marches timed to let everyone go for lunch at the favourite cit centre resto.

    Very civilised..

    Still staying here!

    • Panda, I always thought that the French had a, lots of bottle and b. were incredibly civilised. I would stay there as well.

  24. I know how bad Bureaucracy is and there is some of it which is stupid. Asking a disabled person to turn up in person I think is the worst I have heard so far. Unfortunately some of it is essential. The Chinese were the masters of it and it kept the wheels of their over crowded Kingdom going. Most of the people being portrayed are not the instigators they simply have to be the ones to tell you, so I am sure most people cut them a bit of slack. You should skewer those who bring in these daft systems, your not so hard working Councillors.

  25. Come and live on Arran! No need for parking permits here, and you can be in a Glasgow in less than 2 hours by public transport

  26. Come and live on Arran! No need for parking permits here, and you can be in a Glasgow in less than 2 hours by public transport

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