SQUINTER passed this fine body of men as he made his way past the Grand Opera House at the weekend and he couldn’t resist the urge to take a snap.
Squinter’s often seen two traffic wardens in action together, but he has to say he hasn’t seen this many together. What mission they were embarked on in such numbers is not entirely clear, but it got Squinter to thinking: What might be the collective name for a group of wardens?
Squinter whacked the question up on Twitter with his recommendation that they should be a ‘ticket’ of traffic wardens. Not the most daring or inventive of choices and so there were naturally a good number of better suggestions forthcoming. But, given the reputation that traffic wardens have among the vehicular community, there were inevitably some that were notable more for their venom than their creativity.
A ‘shower’ was Paul’s suggestion, made no doubt with the heavy implication that ‘a shower of…’ is usually followed by a rather more colourful word.
Houdi suggested a ‘clamp of traffic wardens’ – now there’s one that makes sense, or at least it did until somebody pointed out that traffic wardens don’t clamp vehicles.
A ‘hover of traffic wardens’ was a good one from Heather, as we all know they do tend to hover about at precisely those times you don’t want them hovering about.
An ‘avoidance of traffic wardens’ was Paddy’s offering. That’s fairly relevant for Squinter, if truth be told, because in ten years Squinter’s only had two parking tickets, the most recent in Stranmillis where an unseen but hovering officer pounced and where the parking rules and hours are so devilishly complicated that Squinter still couldn’t understand them after having received the ticket and checked the local signage and road lines.
‘A contagion of traffic wardens,’ offered Concubhar, which Squinter liked because it manages to convey the aforementionend natural distaste among the populace for the men and women in red and black without recourse to salty language.
‘A jobsworth of wardens,’ ventured Damien elegantly, which invoked memories of Squinter’s other parking ticket. It was on the Antrim Road and Squinter was bang to rights. But there was, as there usually is, a backstory. The clearway prohibiting parking on the citybound lane is lifted at 9.30am. Squinter took a calculated risk and parked at 9.27am. On returning he felt very unlucky to have been caught in a three-minute time frame by another hoverer. On examination of the ticket, however, he saw that the warden had written the time of the ticket as 9.17am, no doubt because 9.28am or 9.29am would have looked a bit too jobsworthy. Still rankles with Squinter to this day, believe it or not.
‘A plague of traffic wardens,’ suggested Susan with obvious feeling, while Conor and Sir Gary mined a similar seam of antipathy with ‘a secretion’ and ‘an infestation’ respectively.
Eimear suggested that ‘a murder’ be switched from crows to traffic warden, remarking that she felt it “seems appropriate”. Harsh, Eimear, harsh.
‘A terror of traffic wardens,’ from JP was an excellent one, improved by a little bit of alliteration, which always helps, while ‘a dose’ from Liam was equally accomplished.
Tim’s ‘a wallet of traffic wardens’ spoke to the financial pain of a run-in with the wardens, while ‘a hatefulness’ from Ken fairly reeked of bitter personal experience. ‘A catastrophe of traffic wardens’ was Natalie’s equally wounded contribution and James’s ‘an extortion’ completed a hat-trick of victims still struggling to cope with the pain.
Winner JFW went leaping into the lead which he was to hold to the finish with ‘a skulk of traffic wardens,’ although Pat immediately put in a strong challenge with a ‘pelican of traffic wardens’ (with extra kudos for referencing the above picture). ‘A wicked of wardens’ was Francis’s impassioned take on the matter while John went into full scathing mode with ‘a toss of traffic wardens’. Kittibee went down the conspiracy route with a ‘trap of traffic wardens.’
But the most entertainment Squinter enjoyed from the lively exchanges came from someone who didn’t accept the invite to put forward a suggestion. Micky simply said: “I thought it was a band parade.”



Transcripts from the above anti–Protocol rally in Ballymoney.
Hello, my name’s Jeffrey. I once was part of a ten-strong DUP team which had the Theresa May’s government in our pocket. We secured a billion-quid sweetener for Our Wee Country and had No.10 Downing Street dancing to our tune every time we blew our flutes. We were feted in the salons of London and ate like royalty in Michelin-starred restaurants alongside the cream of British politics. I am talking to 140 bandsmen and 20 people and 12 dogs here tonight from the back of a lorry trailer because I don’t want Jim there hogging the limelight with an election in May. Hello, Jim, by the way, nice to see you looking in such good form and so obviously comfortable with my presence here. I have a strong and forward-looking vision for a new and prosperous Ulster. I have decided that the Protocol is not the shining Gateway of Opportunity I thought it was. It does not after all offer the endless possibilities I thought it did, and it does in fact present a challenge to the union, although it’s true that I told you it didn’t. So ignore that Spotlight interview that Marxists in the media and online are disseminating in order to promote their agenda of advancing the union-subjugating Protocol. I have decided to start using the term union-subjugating Protocol a lot not, as some mischievous people are suggesting, because Donaghadee’s finest legal mind does so, but because the union-subjugating Protocol does in fact subjugate the Protocol in a such a subjugatory way that that the subjugation must be removed before the union-subjugating Protocol subjugates the union entirely. Today Ballymoney, tomorrow Loughbrickland!

Hi, I’m Ben Habib. I may not be an Ulsterman, but I share your hopes and fears. And in the short time since I joined you in your inspirational battle against the Protocol I feel I have gained a precious insight into your politics and your culture, which is why I have been blown away by the céad míle fáilte you’ve given me here tonight. Go raibh maith agaibh, a chairde! Kate and I have travelled across the water to be with Jeremy Donaldson and Jim McAllister on this trailer tonight because we see what’s happening to Ulster and we refuse to stand idly by while these nine counties are annexed before our eyes by the EU-Dublin axis. I have been delighted to be part of the vital legal process that we initiated in order to engage the best legal minds in the UK to destroy the Protocol in the courts. It’s true that thus far every challenge has been thrown out, but every day we are strengthening our legal team which now boasts globally recognised experts in constitutional law from London, New York, and Donaghadee. We come here tonight united in our unbreakable Britishness. It matters not whether you were born in London, Londonderry, Aberdeen, Cardiff, or, in my case, Karachi. That burning pride in our family of nations will never be dimmed.
Never mind that ‘Good evening ladies and gentlemen’ nonsense, the time for niceties, smiles and polite conversation has long passed. It is true that in my case it never arrived, but the point remains. This coming election is quite literally a matter of life and death for our precious union. And the numbers are with us in the TUV as we seek to strengthen our representation in the political institutions we all hate. Last month our membership soared to 27. The average age of our candidates in May is an all-time low of 64. And female representation has rocketed to two per cent. My 10-point plan for the future is simple.
• Dismantle the evil, iniquitous, union-subjugating, baby-eating, Protestant-hating, flag-disrespecting Provocol.
• Put more flags up everywhere.
• Dismantle the evil, iniquitous, union-subjugating, baby-eating, Protestant-hating, flag-disrespecting Good Friday Agreement.
• Put more flags up everywhere.
• Dismantle the evil, iniquitous, union-subjugating, baby-eating, Protestant-hating, flag-disrespecting Irish Language.
• Put more flags up everywhere.
• Dismantle the evil, iniquitous, union-subjugating, baby-eating, Protestant-hating, flag-disrespecting BBC.
• Put more flags up everywhere.
• Dismantle the evil, iniquitous, union-subjugating, baby-eating, Protestant-hating, flag-disrespecting Alliance Party.
• Put more flags up everywhere.
Forced coalition has failed and it is time to bring back the kind of politics that worked so well up to 1972. The last time a DUP representative appeared at one of our rallies he was booed and heckled. Sammy Wilson did not deserve that even though he and other Lundys in his Brexit-betraying party have failed miserably to do what is required to dismantle the evil, iniquitous, union-subjugating, baby-eating, Protestant-hating, flag-disrespecting Good Friday Agreement. So let us move forward in a spirit of unity and let us make space for all shades of unionism, even those shades which for decades have been selling Ulster down the river and serving in government with blood-soaked terrorists to fulfil their crazed lust for power.
Good evening. I must say that I found myself shaking my head when Sir Jeffrey turned up to this event tonight after having described the Protocol as a “Gateway of opportunity” – something he had the gall to admit to just now. There can be no place in our campaign to dismantle the Protocol for backsliders. You are with us or you are against us. You are for the Protocol, which Jeffrey was, or you are against it. Yes, it’s true that I voted for the Withdrawal Agreement that contained the Protocol when I was in Parliament and before I was so cruelly and unfairly deselected by the local Labour Party in a democratic vote. But as I think I said at the time, I was too busy doing photo opportunities with Nigel Farage on the Thames to read the whole lot and there were some things in there that I thought were jolly good, although I can’t remember what they are now. Some very cynical detractors have been pointing to an article I wrote in the Daily Telegraph as evidence that I’ve been calamitously wrong all along about leaving the EU. The article was in fact a nuanced and perceptive analysis of future trends and prospects for our beloved Province and was a very even-handed exposition of both the opportunities and challenges of Brexit. (See article by Kate Hoey: “Brexit won’t hurt Northern Ireland at all – in fact it will brighten its future.”)