Sunday, February 10, 2008

State of the Kingdom

Answer me this will you; how come I can cross Sweden and Denmark, covering a total of 700km with 2 trains and a bus when to travel the 130km from Harwich to Muswell Hill I have to take 3 trains, 2 tube trains and 2 buses?

This was the situation I was confronted with upon stepping off the ferry onto English soil earlier today. And then I remembered - this country is shit, of course nothing will work properly.

I enjoy travelling, I really do. The trains, the boats, negotiating public transport with no knowledge of the language. I think it's all fantastic. But any kind of travel in the UK is just a nightmare. But it's not just transport we can't get right. The Scandinavians have social housing indistinguishable from designer apartments, ours look like prison camps and are only good for breeding scummy oiks who secrete a form of saliva so foul that they are unable to swallow it, and are left with little choice but to spit it out onto our grey pavements, like chav llamas.

Everything in Scandinavia runs on time. Everything. It was actually kind of unsettling at first, being used to London time. But it's actually really nice to read a timetable and it not be a work of fiction.

We bitch and moan about things (ahem) but never try to improve things because some other English person would just come along and fuck it all up again. Look at the train companies, a natural monopoly cut up because it wasn't performing effectively under public sector control, given over to a hundred different companies staffed by the same useless fuckwits and the end result is the same level of service, but masses of confusion all round. Can you just imagine getting to Paris and trying to figure out which train company you had to use to get to Lille? Not that you wanted to go to Lille, but anyway. The only thing we're really good at in this country is humour, and that's because if we didn't laugh at ourselves, we'd surely cry.

Now, I know it's reasonable to expect to be a little disheartened upon returning home after a good break, but each time I do I find it harder and harder to justify why I'm here. I'm certainly not looking forward to work tomorrow. On the rail replacement bus from Chelmsford there were some absolute scummers, who'd possibly been out all night clubbing, but managed to pick up some stolen goods on the way and were discussing their court appearance tomorrow. And you just think, why are these people here? Why do they exist? What is it about this country that breeds people like this?

I know you get scum everywhere you go, and later on in the journey a drunk Pole started hassling another wideboy Essex lad, much to my amusement, but we do seem to produce more than our fair share.

Maybe it's that this country is still trying to live off past glories and consistently fails to look forwards, with progressive social policies, to start building a better future for it's inhabitants. But all we can be bothered with doing is building a massive sports complex in East London to distract the rest of the world from how shite we've become. Maybe we did stand on our own all those years ago, defiant against the onslaught of Nazi Germany as the rest of Europe buckled. But that was over 60 years ago! What good have we done recently?

9 comments:

Kate said...

'Chav llamas' is the best phrase I've heard for ages.

No answers for you on the rest of it though I'm afraid. Last time I felt like that, I went to central America for three months, which kinda helped for a while; perhaps you should try the delights of downtown Managua?

Will said...

I don't listen to hip-hop.

Kate said...

???

Will said...

South Park joke...

bagelmouse said...

You should move to Switzerland. I hear everything works over there.

Anonymous said...

Chef "Haven't you heard of Emancipation Proclamation?"
Sarge "Uh, I don't listen to hip-hop"

Well I got the reference right off.

Anonymous said...

I think you are under estimating just how hard it is to make a box on wheels go along a track at the same time every day.

Tim said...

Ah, look what I just found. Maybe there is some hope for the British Rail system.

http://www.berlinonline.de/berliner-zeitung/archiv/.bin/dump.fcgi/2008/0122/wirtschaft/0016/index.html

Actually, fuck them having to buy up bits of it, the government should just sign over the entire network to DB for free - lock, stock and barrel.

Tim said...

http://tinyurl.com/2dcc7d