Which nation ranks 171st in the world measured by gross national product? Here's a clue; it is located inside the City of London, England. Confused? Read on.
Dr Richard Dawood is a doctor living in London. He likes to get around the capital city on a scooter. Good idea really. Economical, environmentally friendly and easier to park than a car. His parking space is a 2 meter strip of land that he owns outside his home.
But, London's army of parking wardens has ticketed his scooter for being illegally parked more than 30 times during the last decade. Dr Dawood is, understandably, more than a little cross about this. He has fought the tickets and lost.
"Why?" he argued "should I be ticketed for parking on my property?". The angry doctor took his case to court. £10,000 in legal costs later and following a hearing in front of the learned Lord Justice Sedley of the Court of Appeal, he finally had a decision. He lost.
The learned Lord ruled that Dr Dawood owned the sub-soil of his property but the surface was fair game for the traffic wardens who fly lazy circles over Londoners' homes waiting to swoop down on their prey. Whatever happened to the idea of "an Englishman's home is his castle"?
The BBC calculated that if all London's parking meters and traffic wardens were a sovereign nation, the £456M they raise annually would rank 171st in the world. That would put them slightly behind the oil-rich nation of Liberia and ahead of 30 real nations according to World Bank statistics.
Perhaps it is time for London's parking racketeers to secede from the United Queendom. I am sure the learned Lord Sedley could be prevailed upon to assume the role of monarch of the new wealthy oligarchy. Then perhaps his head would be held high in the same manner as that of King Charles I.
"Comedy always works best when it is mean-spirited" - John Cleese
Author John Corby also writes as "Bulldogge" for the British Canadian newspaper.
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