Watersgate: what John did

John Waters is a journalist I became aware of over the past few days.

He came to my attention, as I am sure yours, when he delighted the nation by putting on a petulant pantomime over a €40 parking ticket.

After two years of gently cajoling the Irish Times journalist with notifications and court appearances, Gardai were forced to imprison Mr Waters when he decided to go to jail instead of pay the fine.

Remind me to never lend him any money.

In a 2011 court appearance, the Irish Independent reported that, Mr Waters said: “How can you do business in Dun Laoghaire? You cannot decide how long a meeting will last. It is destroying social life. If I meet someone I can’t start a conversation for fear of being fined. It is destroying social interaction.

“I paid my €2 and when I came back there was this ticket with the time 16 minutes over the hour.”

“A man who I spoke to said the warden walked past the car and checked the time on the ticket, then came back when it was a minute over. That’s three cents over.”

Time management is something we all learn in school. In primary school you learn how to sit still till lunch time, in college you learn how to do a year’s work in one night and somewhere along the line, we all learn how to have lunch in an hour and politely leave a conversation that is making you late.

Clearly Mr Waters missed that lesson.

Many things are notable about this heartfelt cry about the devastating parking system in Dun Laoghaire.

The first being the bargain price of an hours parking; €2 is a reduced rate compared to most.

Which brings me to my second point: most places have paid parking, finding free parking is like finding a fiver in old jeans: a nice surprise.

Another issue I have with this statement is Mr Water’s lackadaisical approach to life. The idea that this established journalist is unable to conduct light conversation under the duress of a ticking clock makes me wonder how he has survived in the newspaper industry this long –has the man never heard of ‘deadlines?’

The final point I will make about this supposedly educated man’s endeavour to move the court is his anecdotal offering of proof.

“A man” told him the warden had sadistically watched his car, like a lion watching a gazelle in the Sahara, only to pounce when time ticked into the sixteenth minute.

In a courtroom, in front of a judge and, among solicitors, who studied for years and worked for many more, to understand and engage with the intricate system of ‘fact’ and ‘law’ – I just want to know –did anyone laugh as Mr Waters attempted to evade the course of justice with a whimsical tale of victimisation followed by a weak but earnest plea that he only broke the law ‘a little bit.’

Surely there were a few smirks.

Respect for authority is another thing we all learn in life. As a child you learn about right and wrong, punishment and reward, good and bad. You learn what is acceptable and what is not.

In our youth, we rarely question this, as we mature there is usually rebellion, radical thinking and some jumping outside the box, but as we enter adulthood, most realise, the rules that have been drafted into place, by legal and political academics, are for the good of society as a whole -even if at that moment in time- they do not suit you as an individual.

Mr Water’s flagrantly petulant attitude to the laws of society we all adhere to reminds me of a drunken lout I once knew, who got a tattoo on his arse the day he turned 18, just because he could.

We are led to believe that there is more to this act of rebellion than an inflated ego and a sad perception of self-grandeur.

Mr Waters jovially told reporters ‘this is an act of principle,’

From what I gather, ‘on principle’, Mr Waters is appalled by the fact he must pay for parking, by the hour.

‘On principle’, he feels a 15 minute grace period is not enough for someone like him who is very busy socially interacting but too stingy to play it safe with another €2.

Sure he might need it for McDonalds later.

My opinion is ‘on principle’ for a man of his position to act in such a manner to the policing force of our country is sickening.

As a columnist, whose thoughts and opinions are read nationally every week, what kind of message is it sending out to the public?

I feel the milk in my local shop is overpriced –is it ok for me to rob it?

I am only one drink over the limit –is it still alright for me to drive?

Following the recent incident of insolence in Dublin where a young female garda was put in hospital after teenagers rammed into the side of her car, someone like John Waters should be hammering home the importance of law in our society.

Surely we should, now more than ever, be more mindful of the vulnerability involved in policing where a defiant attitude is flaring.

Perhaps Mr Waters is craving the fame found by the Limerick Dundons before justice caught up with them or perhaps the recent revival of the infamous two fingered picture of the brassy Liam Keane got him thinking.

Maybe he is raunching up his image, maybe he needs a hobby.

Maybe Mr Water’s issue with time management includes a defiance of calendars and no one told him the silly season is over and real news is back.

Whatever the reason, if Mr Waters feels that strongly about parking in Dun Laoghaire, he should just buy a bike.

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