Monday, February 2, 2015

I am Conk Erchief

The icon of 'Conk Erchief'
This is a little bit of a rant, but one that will be graciously accepted. It is based on here-say, and is not just about this particular incident, but is directed and all 'high-school politics' that tends to manifest between people who really should lighten up.

As you maybe aware I run (almost every week) a free 5K run at my local parkrun. They are an awesome crowd - very easy-going, funny and I love them all to bit's.

However, we have a thief in our midst; albeit a good natured scamp. He (or she, we haven't actually figured out who the culprit is) played a prank and stole one of our signs. The idea seems to be that he (or she... okay, I am going to pretend he's male, just because typing 'or she' is tiresome), is holding the aforementioned sign as a ransom. The demands? Very steep; that certain runners would dress up in tutu's and moustaches, to which he would pay a donation to a charity. I get the idea there was never any intention to hold the sign to ransom indefinitely and that eventually it would be brought back -- probably up a tree or something.

The sign looked like this, but said "Car Park Full"
As you can tell this sign was hugely valuable and irreplaceable.

The sign said, "CAR PARK FULL" and over the last couple of weeks, a Facebook profile named 'Conk Erchief' posted random photo's of the sign in various places. He took the sign on a little tour of Burton -- I am not sure if the sign had fun or appreciated it's holiday snaps, but let's assume, that the sign was treated fairly as per the Geneva convention on 'Prisoners of war'.

I have been out of the loop on the mischief of Conk Erchief over the last couple of weeks. Grown-up stuff and the fact I haven't been to parkrun due to kiddie duties has meant I haven't been party to the Conkers Collective (the name for the informal group of Conker's parkrun runners) gossip.

Over the last day or so, I have been overhearing -what I hope is just scandalous lies- about some of the collective. Rumours have been coming my way about how upset people are about the sign being missing. I saw some of the fall-out on the Facebook feeds, but accept the fact that I have a brain life a sieve and I can't remember unimportant stuff. Public apologies being demanded. The Facebook profile has gone - and I am not wholly sure if the person who created it took it down, but given the angst, it could have been reported to Facebook. Ranting, raving and accusations made about a person who is still unknown. I am expecting the person if they are ever identified, to be hog-tied and carted behind Shada (our parkrun racing dog who has to start five minutes behind everyone at the start because she's a running maniac). People have really got their knickers in a twist.

Over nothing.

I am a little startled (if the rumours are true) about how wound-up people are about a prank. Yes, it is technically an illegal act of theft. It may have caused a people fifteen-to-thirty minutes of inconvenience every week. If it is never returned it would cost people money they don't have to replace. Yet, the parkrun's still happened, people still ran and everyone was clocked and tagged.

I am not sure why people are really that upset, not when there are things you really should be upset about. Let's name a few shall we?

A survey shows that potentially 30% of women have been subjected to domestic violence in the UK
Our civil liberties are being eroded in the name of anti-terrorism
Housing affordability means that people in the south-east of England aren't the only ones unable to buy their own home.
The average age of a person buying their first home is now 37. In 1960 the average age was 23.
Twenty-seven per-cent of children in the UK are living in poverty.
There has been a fifty-one per-cent increase in the use of Food banks; 913,000 people were given emergency food from one group between 2013-14.
The UK has the highest wealth inequality in the west, according to a UN report.

Do I really need to go on? So, we need to sit back, calm down and perhaps gain a little perspective about how upset we should be over a purple sign.

So, I am offering an amnesty. Whoever has the sign should contact me. I think your Conk Erchief profile on Facebook has been deleted, so if you contact me I will keep your name confidential. I will arrange a time and a place for you to return the sign to me by Saturday. I will then bring the sign when I come to the parkrun. Let's finish this sorry tale of knicker-tangling and intrigue. It was fun, but if people feel the same way I do, then they will agree that this prank has turned sour.

I hope it doesn't stop future pranks -- they are funny, and I think the majority of runners at Conker's probably understood the fun behind them. However Conk Erchief, may I suggest we leave illegal activities alone?