We are developing the social individualist meta-context for the future. From the very serious to the extremely frivolous... lets see what is on the mind of the Samizdata people.

Samizdata, derived from Samizdat /n. - a system of clandestine publication of banned literature in the USSR [Russ.,= self-publishing house]

Desperately seeking heroes

You’ve had a long, hard day. You want to go home to relax and unwind. You can hardly wait for that sweet moment when you place your key in the lock of your own front door. You make your way back to your car as it begins to rain. Your feet hurt. You’re getting wet. You want your comfy sofa and a hot meal and the TV and your warm bed. You finally reach the place where you parked your car only to find….disaster! It’s been clamped!

You stand there helplessly while the rain pitter-patters on your brow. Your blood begins to boil into toxic fumes of rage and frustration. You are stranded and alone, feeling victimised and vulnerable.

But, just at that moment, from out of the scudding, grey skies there swoops down a heroic figure of salvation to end your torment and set you free. Is it a bird? Is it a plane? No, it’s Angle-Grinder Man!

Clad in a blue leotard and wielding a saw, a man claiming to be the UK’s first wheel clamp vigilante is offering his services to motorists.

Angle-grinder Man – a self-proclaimed superhero – patrols by night looking for unhappy drivers who have been clamped and then sets their cars free.

He’s fighting for truth, justice and the (now long defunct) British way.

“I may not be able to single-handedly and totally cast off the repressive shackles of a corrupt government – but I can cut off your wheel-clamps for you.”

He says he decided to go “full-time vigilante” in May this year.

“My obsession with wheel-clamping is actually a rebellion against a much deeper malaise,” he said.

“Namely, the arrogant contempt that politicians hold for the people who put them into power, and whom they claim to represent.”

He is certainly heroic in thought. But is he really heroic in deed?

A Kent Police spokeswoman said no complaint about wheel clamps being cut off had been made by either a clamping firm or a member of the public.

That could mean that the police simply don’t want to admit to this man’s successes in case he inspires copycats. On on the other hand it could be a case of the spirit being willing but the flesh rather less so.

Angle-Grinder Man has a website but, as at the time of posting, it appears to be down. If he was whizzing round supersonically trashing wheel-clamps the details on his website would make it a doddle for the police to track him down.

So maybe Angle-Grinder Man is just a harmless glory-seeker and self-publicist. Or maybe he is a sincere, angry but ultimately ineffectual fantasist. Who knows?

But I think I have spotted a trend here. Or leastways, a mini-trend. I wrote a few days ago about the GATSO-killers who claim their legacy from Robin Hood. Now we have a comic-book superhero complete with mask and tights. Is it because the real world of today is so dull, so conformist and so timid that these would-be rebels are forced to delve into the wellspring of myths and legends in order to find their inspiration?

Whatever the explanation, there does seem to be this groping, amorphous need for maverick heroes who will put the world to rights. Maybe, some day soon, a gawky, bookish, weedy British teenager will get hit on the head by a vial of radioactive material and the revolution will begin.

Tweet about this on TwitterShare on FacebookShare on LinkedInShare on TumblrShare on RedditShare on Google+Share on VKEmail this to someone

22 comments to Desperately seeking heroes

  • S. Weasel

    I’ve been waiting for decades for government to become uncool, and rebellion and resistance to become cool.

    Kids these days. What the hell is the matter with them, that they follow their parents’ (and grandparents’) adolescent dreams?

  • Shaun Bourke

    It appears that there may be quite a few Britions who are taking their country back…..maybe we will also start seeing more people beating the crap out of criminals when they are caught in the act, hopefully without being reported to the cops.

    I am looking into starting a “score board”. Dead gatsos,chompped wheel locks, beaten up crim’s, compromised pols……

  • Tony H

    I caught a piece yesterday on R2 (no, really, I don’t usually, just searching for something to listen to in the car..) about this Caped Crusader, and they had a couple of guest commentators. The anti-AGM bloke (forget what sniffy public body he represented) went on predicatbly about the rule of law, not choosing which laws to obey, not taking the law into one’s own hands (where have I heard that before..?), the inevitable breakdown of civil society if, etc. However, the great majority of listeners phoning in were very anti clamping and the clamping mentality, and recounted various horror stories. Encouraging, on the whole.

  • Wll

    AGM’s website is back up:

    http://www.anglegrinderman.co.uk/

    In his own words:

    “My obsession with Wheel-clamping is actually a rebellion against a much deeper malaise. Namely, the arrogant contempt that politicians hold for the people who put them into power, and whom they claim to represent. Wheel-clamping, Speed Cameras, Congestion Charging, proposed I.D. cards, omnipresent C.C.T.V. Cameras, new toll-roads, and the M.M.R. vaccine fiasco are all good examples of inept administrators attempting to make their lives easier and solve their own mismanagement problems by persecuting the people that they have failed. For them public opinion is not something that they have to listen to, but something to try and manipulate…with our money!! What arrogance. Those twits (one letter wrong), work for us! If I declared my earnings to the Inland Revenue…I’d be paying for them! They already do the only job in the world that doesn’t have to be cost effective and where you can set your own salary.”

    He’s posted a mobile number on the site, too. He seems determined to become a martyr!

  • Will

    Actually, on further perusal of his site, he seems to be a complete nutter. I’d advise you not to visit his picture galleries…

  • Ron

    (More info on Mr Goble…)
    _________________

    LIGHTING CHARCOAL GRILLS
    or
    WHY ENGINEERS ARE THE WAY THEY ARE…

    Our subject today is lighting charcoal grills. One of our favorite charcoal grill lighters is a guy named George Goble (really!!), a computer person in the Purdue University engineering department.

    Each year, Goble and a bunch of other engineers hold a picnic in West Lafayette, Indiana, at which they cook hamburgers on a big grill. Being engineers, they began looking for practical ways to speed up the charcoal-lighting process. “We started by blowing the charcoal with a hair dryer,” Goble told me in a telephone interview. “Then we figured out that it would light faster if we used a vacuum cleaner.” If you know anything about (1) engineers and (2) guys in general, you know what happened: The purpose of the charcoal-lighting shifted from cooking hamburgers to seeing how fast they could light the charcoal.

    From the vacuum cleaner, they escalated to using a propane torch, then an acetylene torch. Then Goble started using compressed pure oxygen, which caused the charcoal to burn much faster, because as you recall from chemistry class, fire is essentially the rapid combination of oxygen with a reducing agent (the charcoal). We discovered that a long time ago, somewhere in the valley between the Tigris and Euphrates rivers(or something along those lines).

    By this point, Goble was getting pretty good times. But in the world of competitive charcoal-lighting, “pretty good” does not cut the mustard. Thus, Goble hit upon the idea of using – get ready – liquid oxygen. This is the form of oxygen used in rocket engines; it’s 295 degrees below zero and 600 times as dense as regular oxygen. In terms of releasing energy, pouring liquid oxygen on charcoal is the equivalent of throwing a live squirrel into a room containing 50 million Labrador retrievers. On Goble’s Web page (see above posted link), you can see actual photographs and a video of Goble using a bucket attached to a 10-foot-long wooden handle to dump 3 gallons of liquid oxygen (not sold in stores) onto a grill containing 60 pounds of charcoal and a lit cigarette for ignition. What follows is the most impressive charcoal-lighting I have ever seen, featuring a large fireball that according to Goble, reached 10,000 degrees Fahrenheit. The charcoal was ready for cooking in – this has to be a world record – 3 seconds.

    There’s also a photo of what happened when Goble used the same technique on a flimsy $2.88 discount-store grill. All that’s left is a circle of charcoal with a few shreds of metal in it. “Basically, the grill vaporized,” said Goble. “We were thinking of returning it to the store for a refund.” Looking at Goble’s video and photos, I became, as an American, all choked up with gratitude at the fact that I do not live anywhere near the engineers’ picnic site. But also, I was proud of my country for producing guys who can be ready to barbecue in less time than it takes
    for guys in less-advanced nations, to spit.

    Will the 3-second barrier ever be broken? Will engineers come up with a new, more powerful charcoal-lighting technology? It’s something for all of us to ponder this summer as we sit outside, chewing our hamburgers, every now and then glancing in the direction of West Lafayette, Indiana, looking for a mushroom cloud.

    *Engineers are like that.”

  • Alfred E. Neuman

    I like this dude. He may be a wackjob, but he’s got the right spirit. It’s about time you limeys wake up and start fighting back. It’s not like you to be so complacent for so long.

  • A_t

    “fighting back”?

    So if some idiot nicks *my* parking space on *my* street, which i’ve paid for, I’m supposed to support some spandex muppet who comes to “liberate” said idiot from their punishment, in the name of ‘freedom’?

    For those of you who have garages, can i demand the ‘freedom’ to park my car in yours then, when I’m in next your neighbourhood?

  • S. Weasel

    How exactly does clamping a car in your parking space free up your parking space, A_t?

  • Alfred E. Neuman

    Weasel, don’t ask A_t to make sense. That’s just not fair. It’s too hard.

    Anyone who actually thinks that clamping and parking tickets are anything other then revenue generation for the government is a fucking abject moron. Do you think that a $65 to over $100 fine is warranted if your meter runs out in New York? Please.

  • Johnathan Pearce

    I would have a little more sympathy for A_T’s rather strained defence of clamping if traffic wardens did not, at least in London, adopt the sneaky practice of waiting around the corner waiting for a driver to be only about a minute over the limit before slapping on a fine. I also resent the way in which clamping firms impose enormous bills for freeing the clamp.

    A parking space outside a house is not quite a form of private property like a garage. If a space had the words “property of A-T” on it, then our correspondent would be entitled to get mad, but parking slots in publicly-owned streets don’t quite fall into that category.

    Nit-picking aside, I like this guy’s spirit. As David Carr said, it is another sign of how respect for the rule of law is being eroded in this increasingly bureacratic country.

  • He does seem to have a distinctly non-EUish libertarian view on things, such as his comment “Always remember: Those ****s WORK FOR US!!” and the part about how owners of parking lots on private property probably have the best excuse for wheel clamping but that a lot of them are right bastards in the way they go about it so they tick him off anyway.

  • LB

    “Actually, on further perusal of his site, he seems to be a complete nutter.”

    “Tis the time’s plague, when madmen lead the blind”
    – King Lear Act IV

  • Brian Micklethwait

    Americans!

    On the David Letterman show, which we have here late at night on some digital channel or other, a person called “Grinder Girl” sometimes appears, often in connection with the “Will It Float?” segment.

    Is the idea that Grinder Girl attacks wheel clamps, or do grinder people do lots of different things in America that everyone is familiar with?

    Grinder Girl also sports an impressive costume.

  • Tatyana

    A couple days ago I saw a documentary on cable here in NY on the whole process of clamping, then auctioning cars in Pittsburgh, PA (not sure of the place). It’s a government/crooks monopolized hiway robbery, like gov. construction contracts ( and I do know somethg on the subject)
    Some of the stories are appaling – rental car owner’s car was clamped on the street, than tawed to municipal parking lot and set for auction in 3 days, not giving the guy time to protest it in court, and the “auction” sharks were ready, of course beforehead to “buy” his $25000 car (I don’t know anything of the makes of the cars, sorry can’t remember what it was) for mere $2000 on a tip from auctioneer. Proceeds – to the City ( and sharks pockets).
    Is it different in Britain?

  • A_t

    🙂 admittedly, i’d rather the vehicle was towed away than clamped. But hey… if no towing vehicles are available, a clamp & it’s attendent fine may at least put the owner off parking there again.

    as for:
    ‘A parking space outside a house is not quite a form of private property like a garage. If a space had the words “property of A-T” on it, then our correspondent would be entitled to get mad, but parking slots in publicly-owned streets don’t quite fall into that category.’

    …so spaces that say “permit holders only” don’t count, because i have purchased the right to park in a *range* of spaces rather than a particular one? I fail to see exactly where the big distinction lies. Clamp ’em!

    I do however have sympathy with people who’ve been clamped when only a few minutes over time on meters; some flexibility should be deployed, just as your average landlord wouldn’t throw the book at tenants if they were a few days late with the rent.

    But too much of this whole ‘motorist bitching about speed cameras/clamping’ stuff just seems to be a way of blaming others for what are basically your mistakes. And hey, if you gotta raise revenue somehow, surely getting it off people who’ve screwed up, having made it clear beforehand that this would be the case, & given them the option of avoiding the whole shebang, is better than taxing everybody?

  • RK Jones

    Given that we are talking about penalties for parking violations, the Angle Grinder Man’s rage seemed a bit excessive to me. Until I found the following quote which explains it nicely:

    “Once a man has become accustomed to evading taxation, once he has come to regard the policeman as a possible danger and not as an ally, he will begin to show less respect for any kind of law.”

    C. Northcote Parkinson–from “The Law and the Profits.”

    RK Jones

  • Tom Hastings

    Come and live in Scotland, the courts decided some time ago that wheel clamping is a criminal offence, extortion to be precise.

  • Jacob

    Long ago they clamped my car. I walked home, brought a 4 pound hammer and broke the clamp, freeing my car. As I was administering the dozen or so blows it took, a crowd gathered around the car. When the clamp broke there was a loud cheer and applause. Sinde then I kept the hammer in the trunk of the car and used it several more times in the following years. You don’t have to depend on a mad Angle-Grinder, self reliance is best, don’t be timid.

  • Johnathan

    A_T, I would be more sympathetic if parking spaces bought with a permit could be freely bought and sold in a market. Then you would be justified in getting mad. But I still don’t think you can equate the property rights involved in a garage with a parking slot on the side of a publicly-funded road.

    But I do broadly sympathise with your general point, but bear in mind also that a lot of these clamping firms are tantamount to shakedown operations. Hence the hostility.

  • A_t

    “A_T, I would be more sympathetic if parking spaces bought with a permit could be freely bought and sold in a market. Then you would be justified in getting mad.”

    lordy lordy… “if it ain’t a market, it ain’t right”; the one-size fits all ideology. What if it was a private company deciding to restrict purchase of parking permits to local residents only, & not permitting the re-sale of said permits… would that be ok then? Presumably local government allocate the spaces like this to try & ensure that people can park relatively close to their homes. Do you feel in a position to say this is wrong? That people should be, in the spirit of political correctness (“market, market, market” in these parts) made to park miles away from their homes, or prevented from owning a car at all because they happen to live in an area that many other motorists frequent?