A party atmosphere descended on the Border town of Berwick-upon-Tweed this week as parking became free for the first time since King James III ceded the town to Edward IV after losing a game of Nine Men’s Morris to him in 1482.
Revellers congregated at Palace Green before parading Mardi-Gras-style down Walkergate and Church Street in a pincer movement of liberated parking delight. Spirits were high as the crowd swept beneath Scots Gate and urinated good-naturedly against the now defunct tariff notice situated in the Co-Op car park.
“I’m not one easily given over to public displays of micturition,” admitted Zac Richardson, a contemporary kazoo player from Cockburnspath. “But I see it as a way of expressing both my optimism for the town’s bright new future and contempt for the cretinous councillors who thought parking charges were a way to boost trade and tourism. Plus, I had quite a large cup of tea before I left the house.”
Grieves, Home Bargains and W H Smith all reported a shortage of whistles, hula skirts and steel drums, while Greggs announced a run on their special edition “Reverse Parking” sausage roll. This is the same as a normal sausage roll only placed in the bag at a slightly awkward angle and a fair distance from the edge.
However, some people remain to be convinced by Northumberland County Council’s act of apparent largesse. Henna artist and part-time chemical traveller Genevieve Fitzroy believes that the abolition of parking charges signals a move by the council to open negotiations with Scotland about taking Berwick off their hands once more.
“Look, I’m not saying that’s what they [the council] are doing, right?” she giggled. “Totally not. But what I am saying is, like, beware Greeks carrying gifts in the mouth. F**k me, but this doobie’s strong.”
According to Dr Jonty Hardcastle, Professor of Speculative History at Glasgow University, this idea isn’t as wild as it first appears:
“Free parking is an obvious way to tempt Scotland to relieve England of the responsibility it has towards Berwick,” he said. “Historically, Scotland loves free stuff — whether it be prescriptions, bus travel or a university education. Faced with the prospect of offering something for nothing that it can’t afford, Scotland is going to find Northumberland County Council’s flirty overtures difficult to resist.”
Dr Hardcastle went on to say: “From the council’s perspective, Berwick has always been the unwanted child from a first marriage. Sure, they make all the right noises about promising to love and look after it just like their real kids, but when you get down to the nitty-gritty they’d rather chain it to a bedstead and feed it Chappie.”
Berwick Mayor and Lib Dem Councillor Isabel Hunter vehemently denied the allegation. “I haven’t heard anything so ridiculous since Councillor Hill suggested that Berwick Town Council should be more open and transparent. Don’t write that down. Are you record… no, don’t take my picture, give me that…”
Spare change requisitioner Claire Strong, 22, reacted with delight at the news of free parking, declaring the new policy would at last reverse the effects of psychic damage wrought by charges on residents and visitors alike.
“When people need to find fifty-pee for the ticket machine rather than for throwing at someone sitting on a square of cardboard with a dog wearing a jaunty neckerchief, it damages them inside,” she explained. “Hopefully, free parking will enable people to reflect on the impermanence of life and the futility of material attachment. I’ve taught Exocet a new trick to help them with that.”