19 May 2012

The Great St Ives Car Park Mystery

I have a theory.  It's a good one, a bit left of centre I have to admit, but still a good one!  So, what is this theory? How did  I manage to come up with it? Read on, my friends and all will be revealed, eventually.

Once a month, for the past few months, the family has been helping one of our clients with a stall at the St Ives Shopping Village.  For the family, it means getting up early, packing the car and driving up to St Ives, and then helping out with the stall.  My main role is to undertake the hard task of blowing up all the balloons.  I am glad to say that I have a machine to help me inflate them.  Otherwise, given the number of balloons required, I would be in intensive care at the local hospital.  This is a story in itself, but I think I will save it for another day as it will make great blogging material one day!

One thing that I noticed when we first helped our client out was the fact that the car park at the shopping centre was virtually 100% full.  I assumed that the locals liked to do their shopping early, especially for a Sunday.  I held this view until last week when my thoughts about this totally changed.  For this session the family had to arrive an hour earlier at 9am.  Driving up to St Ives I thought that I would easily get a car parking spot close to the entrance of the shopping centre.

However, I was totally wrong! Despite the earlier time and the coldish weather, the car park was totally full! In fact, for the 7 hours we were there the car park was never anything but full! So what was the reason behind this?  Being of an inquisitive mind, I decided to come up with a theory.

St Ives is an area made up of a high proportion of older aged persons and baby boomers. As we all know, people of a mature age seem to wake up much earlier than the rest of us.  My theory is that the locals seem to get a kick out of driving around the car park at the shopping centre for hours on end.  It must be a mature aged fetish, methinks.  Or maybe it's a Senior Citizen's version of Le Mans?  

You can imagine these locals getting up before sunrise, having a hearty breakfast and jumping in their car to set off to the shopping centre.  I wonder if they are able to sleep the night before due to all the excitement of the next day.

These are the only reasons I can come up with, coupled with the fact that locally not much happens on a Sunday in leafy St Ives.  Interestingly, a few times when I had to go back to my car and drop off, or pick up, some items from the boot I was car stalked.  This even happened when I told the drivers of two vehicles that I was not going to drive off and was just getting something from the boot!  My mixed up mind decided that car stalking must, therefore, be a local hobby for the over 60's.  I think they were getting some devilish pride out of stalking me - another notch on their car stalking stick perhaps?

I even deliberately went different directions to get to my car at times, and sure enough, I continued to be car stalked!  I had to admire the eagle eyes of these drivers as they seemed to be able to see me quite clearly carrying my car keys in my hand from a distance of 50 metres! What was even more impressive was their driving and breaking skills.  In fact, Lewis Hamilton would have been impressed with their handling of the twists and turns of the compact car park.

Even when we left the shopping centre, after a good day's effort, we ended up being followed by yet another car stalker.  You could clearly hear the low hum of the engine as it moved behind us at a slow speed.  Naturally, within seconds of us leaving the parking space a car had quickly taken it!

As I drove off I thought back to the car stalking and the locals who were happy to just drive around and around and around. It did seem a tad strange to me. St Ives, dear reader, surely is a quirky place!

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