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Friday 3rd January 2003

Regular readers may have thought I was joking about attempting to complete the number-plate game (1-999 in order) when I wrote about it last year. But I wasn’t. I am still doing it, though mainly as a pedestrian as it is a bit distracting if you are driving.
I like to think I’m not taking it all that seriously, but today shows that I might like to think that, but I am prepared to go a certain way to achieve my ultimate goal.
It’s been over a month since I started, so how far do you think I’ve got?
This morning I was up to 15. That’s right, look impressed. Think how long this is going to take me. I have been looking for 16 for about a week, though I haven’t been out all that much.
On the way back home tonight I saw a 17 parked in Sistova Road. This was really annoying, but of course this happens a lot in the “consecutive number plate spotting” hobby (this would have made a great Simon Quinlank sketch. We came up with a few of those by copying and exaggerating things that we and our friends got up to!). It is very annoying. I almost considered waiting by the car, in the vain hope that a 16 might happen to pass. But Sistova Road is not all that busy. I may have had to wait for some days, even months. And it was cold.
Discouraged I walked on towards home, bags of heavy shopping in my hands. Yet within about 6 doors of my house, what did I see parked in my own street? A car with a 16 number-plate. Now, this must have been parked by a visitor. I obviously have been keeping a look out in my own street and have never seen a 16 parked here before (not that I keep records. I’m not sad!). It was a beautiful bolt from the blue, the gods had seen my struggle and taken pity upon me. At last the elusive 16 had turned up, so close to home. It was perfect.
But it left me with a difficult decision. Should I go back to Sistova Road (it’s about half a mile away, I guess) so I could also bag the 17 that very same evening. A sloppy CNPS player would doubtless think, well I’ve just seen it, I know it’s there, so I’ll just count it as seen anyway. NO! That is not how the game works. That way madness lies. You could start saying, well I saw an 18 three weeks ago, so I’ll count that too. No, the whole point of the game is to see all the number plate numbers, one to nine hundred and ninety-nine, IN ORDER. So could I be arsed to jog back to Sistova Road, just so I could be one step further on in a task that, let’s face it, I’m never going to complete? The choice was made even more difficult because I know that one of my girlfriend’s neighbours also has a 17 (not that I’m keeping records. I just remember) and I am going to her place tomorrow. But what if I saw an 18 on the way? Could I live with myself?
I decided I had no choice. I put my bags in my hall and jogged back to the 17, hoping to God that it hadn’t been driven away whilst I was dithering over whether to go back or not.
It was still there. I had taken two massive leaps forward in just 15 minutes. Such is life and CNPS.
It did strike me that it would be ironic if I had been run over or something on my way to look at the car that I had already seen. And how confused the police would have been. “He’d clearly been home. His bags are in the hall. So why did he go back out? And why did he head half way to Balham and then turn back again? I guess we’ll never know.”

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