A tale of two crimes on the way back from Birmingham and the Grim North - my own moral maze

Tom Winnifrith Wednesday 8 August 2018


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My business at the Greek Consulate in Birmingham was done with all the efficiency you expect of Greece - that is to say with long delays, over-runs and numerous stamps impressed on my piece of paper. I then hurried back to the civilised south of England as fast as I could.

A nice Sikh taxi driver took me to New Street station. On his dashboard he had a Confederate flag with the words "born rebel" on it. In the US the flag of Dixie is seen by many as a sign of past racial oppression and many on the left want it banned. I asked my driver why he flew it. "Because I like it". He also had a big sign up, "born in England and proud of it." I could have been in Tommy Robinson's cab. I did not pursue small talk and was soon on the train back to Bristol braced for paying the bastards at Cross Country Rail £4 for two hours internet access on top of my usurious fare.

But here's an odd thing. I sat in the first seat in second class with the next door carriage being where those on expenses sit. I switched on my laptop and got my credit card ready. But the screen for Cross Country popped up and insisted that I was in First Class and so had nothing to pay. Reader I must admit that I did not protest and just surfed away happily. Is this a crime?

Back in Bristol i got in a cab at the station and we headed back to the Mrs and her house in unfashionable Bristol. The driver half missed a turn and I had to shout as he tried to go the wrong way. He stopped and reversed and then headed the right way but that all added a bit to the fare but we were soon outside the front door of a near neighbour. I never stop outside my own door in case I have a row with the driver. The fare was £6.80 and I handed over a tenner.

The chap handed me £3 but I pointed at the screen and suggested he owed me an additional 20p. He said "sorry i have no change" and then pointed at an unused ashtray crammed with 5ps, 2ps and 1ps. Having been overcharged because of his error I really was not minded to tip and just giving the wrong change is surely theft on his part is it not? Call me a pedant but I said that i'd take the extra 20p in small change and so I now have two 5ps and ten 1p pieces in my pocket and heading for my piggy bank.

Do you think I was being mean or was I right to insist that crime - him short changing me - should not pay?

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About Tom Winnifrith
Tom Winnifrith is the editor of When he is not harvesting olives in Greece, he is (planning to) raise goats in Wales.
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