Park it.

I have never been to Bromley. I wouldn’t quite say that quite qualifies as an achievement, but in an odd way it is something to be mildly proud of. Why go to Bromley? What emptiness can a soul bear that Bromley could ever possibly fill? It is an absolute given that there are many better ways of spending your time than going to Bromley, (unless of course they’re hiding something really special there – the ruins of Atlantis, the glittering columns of El Dorado or perchance the lofty, ethereal meringues of Valhalla – in which case they’re hiding them very, very well). I would go further and suggest you’d have to think really hard to come up with something less worthwhile but, as is almost always the case, someone has done just that. Let me cordially introduce you to Gareth Wild, who is best described, slightly less cordially, as a prick and a waste of space.

Being a waste of space is rather fitting in these circumstances because spaces are exactly what float Gareth Wild’s boat, or more accurately, car. Incredibly (and I use that word with great caution) he has spent the last six years, as in six years, trying to park in every space of the Sainsbury’s car park in Bromley, and it is his ultimate success in this campaign that has shot him into the news, if news can now be redefined as information about events that are completely irrelevant. This feat has been referred to as a challenge, but it doesn’t go as far as to say why it is a challenge – for instance, is it the same as the challenge of finding a cure for cancer or scrapping nuclear weapons? I shall let you decide, because you are wise and rational.

The first thing that you could say about what he has spent six years doing is that it is unequivocally a criminal waste of six years of a life. I would suggest that if you are prepared to spend so much of your time alive doing what he has done then you really shouldn’t be entitled to any kind of a life at all. I am not saying he should be dead, that would be cruel, I’m merely saying he should never have been born in the first place, as it somewhat tweaks the nose of intelligent design and the principles of evolution. It is made worse that Gareth even went to the extent of creating an elaborate spreadsheet to log all 211 spaces available and that he would sometimes take his four year old daughter with him (obviously not at the beginning, she would have been -2) so that she in turn can tell her children what their grandfather did with his spare time.

Asked about his achievement Gareth described it as his magnum opus, and certainly one can draw a clear line through history from Michelangelo’s work on the Sistine Chapel, Mozart’s ‘The Marriage Of Figaro’, Hermann Melville’s ‘Moby Dick’ and Picasso’s ‘Guernica’ and easily find yourself gazing with appreciation at all that he has achieved with those 211 parking spaces. If anything it is only a good thing that Leonardo Da Vinci is long dead as surely he would weep to see what he might have achieved had there been a branch of Sainsbury’s in 16th Century Florence. Gareth later found a moment of implied modesty by saying “I don’t want to make out this was too big a deal”, but what he fails to appreciate is that it isn’t any kind of deal at all; it is instead the kind of endeavour that can be comfortably ranked alongside those clowns who can fit three tennis balls in their mouth, or some hairy farmer who has managed to grow a marrow the size of a Regency chaise longue.

What else can we draw from this thoroughly empty achievement? Not a lot. Apparently parking space C1 (which will mean nothing to anyone who doesn’t have access to Gareth’s detailed spreadsheet) is the best one to get, and is actually described as “gold dust”, which is silly. On the other hand, F20 is “a pig to get in”. Make sure you try and remember that. And we also know that Gareth isn’t quite ready to stop: he is already eyeing up his local Lidl and a chance to deepen his interest in what he calls “a good snapshot of English life”, failing to appreciate he might just be the oddest bod of the lot. “You get all sorts of people coming in and mingling” he says (do they, I can’t ever remember mingling in a carpark), and continues “some of them park like arseholes”. Well, at least he got that bit right.

G B Hewitt. 01.05.2021

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