Susan Morrison: I’ve begun the war with robots – and not in a good way

Like the Terminator, an automated ticket machine in a car park proved a tricky opponent but was defeated in the end (Picture: Moviestore/REX/Shutterstock)
Like the Terminator, an automated ticket machine in a car park proved a tricky opponent but was defeated in the end (Picture: Moviestore/REX/Shutterstock)
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A while back I convinced an NHS psychotherapist that I was of sound mind and could be trusted to make decisions like a grown-up. At the very least, I thought a certificate should have been issued. A giant squirrel at the Tufty Club gave me one for learning how to cross the road properly.

Had my friendly psychologist given me a certificate saying ‘Susan’s Not Nuts’, she’d be asking for it back. There is a dent in my forehead. It’s a cut. It’s where I battered my own face with my own debit card in broad daylight during a titanic fit of rage because I couldn’t operate phone parking like one of those proper grown-up adults.

It happened in St Andrews, where I suspect there are more trainee psychologists than anywhere on the planet. I’m lucky I’m not currently residing in Miss Marshall’s Home for Weak-minded Gentlewomen Chronically Unable to Handle Parking Things That Demand the Use of Mobile Phones.

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These blasted things are everywhere. Once upon a time, you parked the car, you found the meter, you read the tariff and you shrieked: “How much?”

Then you slapped your pockets, hunted in the glove compartment and groped in the very depths of your shoulder bag, where there was always a rogue 50p.

How men cope without this emergency reserve I have no idea. There might be a little light banter with a fellow parker as you exchanged coins. Parking was a community event.

Now, however, it’s all mobile phones and an infuriatingly chipper robot voice which sounds vaguely like a cheery London cabbie.

It keeps asking for registration numbers and can’t apparently cope with a Scottish accent, even when I put on my best Gordon Jackson/Jean Brodie/Jackie Bird mash-up. Ghostly generations of Glaswegians weep behind me when I drop my glottal stop and hit the ‘T’ like a Radio 4 newsreader reading a headline about “Two Top Tailors from Teddington”.

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After the umpteenth attempt at reading out the car registration number, which included the great Scottish Consonant Challenge of an “R”, I completely lost the plot and apparently screamed “Freedom” and walloped myself in the face with my debit card.

People were looking. It was, after all, St Andrews. Clearly, a peasant was in town. I then took a deep breath, pulled myself up to my full height, wiped the blood from my eyes, and found enough change for an hour in the lining of my bag.

Sound mind, indeed . . .

Come on Tufty, have a word!

Tufty, that demented squirrel, clearly never taught its feathered friends, the pheasants and the grouse, to look both ways before crossing the road.

Have you seen the state of the verges? Driving up to St Andrews looks like a roadkill Game of Thrones, with prone bodies splattered all over the shop. My mum could make a mean casserole out of the meat strewn about.