Thursday, 10 July 2008

From census to senseless

Have you ever been stopped for an in-car census? I hadn't, until today. I didn't even know such a thing existed, but I was driving into Ipswich when the traffic started to slow and I noticed a police presence. Then the signs - 'Slow: Census'. They appeared to be stopping cars at random so I tried to look uninteresting and hoped I'd be spared, but a petite woman in a dayglo jacket waved her clipboard at me and performed the universal 'please wind your window down' action (which is a little redundant in the age of electric windows, but I suppose the 'pressing the down button' mime is a little ambiguous. In fact I'd have to be monumentally thick to try talking to her through the glass, so no mime of any description was really necessary). I should say at this point that I hadn't been pulled over into a layby or anything - they were stopping people in the middle of the single lane road, which meant that by the time I was finished there were approximately 30 cars behind me. Our conversation went something like this:

Her: Good afternoon sir.
Me: Hello.
Her: I'd just like to ask you a few quick questions. Can you tell me where you've just come from?
Me: Rendlesham.
Her: And was your car parked there overnight?
Me: Yes. I live there.
Her: And where are you heading now, sir?
Me: I'm going to the cinema.
Her: In Ipswich?
Me: That's the one.
Her: And what will you be doing in Ipswich?
Me: (slightly incredulous) I'll be... watching a film.
Her: And how would you have travelled today if not by car?
Me: Rollerblades.

Oh, all right, I said 'bus' but I suspect that she'd have dutifully scribbled down whatever form of transport I could come up with. Perhaps when you've been asking the same stupid questions all day you lose your powers of reasoning. Anyway, she seemed content with my responses and waved me on but I had to say where I was for another minute or so because the car in front of me had also been stopped and the driver obviously had more to say for himself. The only purpose I can think of for the census is to gauge traffic usage with a view to easing congestion, which is slightly ironic given the tailbacks they were causing.

The film I went to see was Wanted. I can only assume that the full title is Wanted: Something Resembling a Decent Script because it was quite absurd. I spent the first three quarters of the film trying my hardest to like it and the remainder sat shrivelled in sad resignation. The basic premise is that there's a group of super skilled assassins who can do cool things like bending bullets round obstacles and healing quickly in waxy baths. So who do they kill? Do they advertise in Yellow Pages for new clients? Oh no, they take their orders from a piece of old rag. A mystical tea towel. No really, I'm not joking. The ancient loom weaves a piece of cloth and the anomalies in the threads spell out the name of the next victim in binary code. I'm not even going the mention the exploding rats. Utter nonsense. I can't remember exactly the dialogue that closed the film, but it was something along the lines of "I used to be a nobody, now I'm a super cool killing machine. So what are you doing with your life?" Well, since you ask, I've just wasted the last two hours of it watching your ridiculous film. Ta very much.

On the way home they were still doing the census but not in my direction. I was half hoping that petite dayglo woman would ask me how the film was in order to give Suffolk County Council a more rounded view of my Ipswich experience, but never mind.


Josh said...

I was stopped by a census taker once but he was asking seemingly irrelevant questions like "how fast do you think you were going?" and "have you been drinking?"

I totally agree with the wanted thing though you should never question the loom of fate......

Ariane said...

Glorious post. A piece of old rag? Exploding rats? Sounds like my kinda film.

Very much enjoyed the new Doormat Picnic today too, which you haven't plugged, so here: