Saturday, April 29, 2006

nice n sleazy

In January, Harry Hutton's post on the absurdity of marriage mused:
The reasons given for matrimony in the Prayer Book are:
1. The procreation of children.
2. A remedy agaynste sinne and to avoide fornication.
3. The mutual societie, helpe, and comfort, that the one ought to have of the other.

Is that it? Are those still the reasons, or have they got some new ones? John Prescott, for example, is married; did he really have trouble avoiding fornication, looking like that? Is that what they're claiming?

Amazingly, the answer is yes.

Then again, maybe it's not so surprising. Politics is showbiz for the ugly. As they appear side by side on our tellies, the contrast between the surgically beautified celebs and the politicians is great, but really the latter are a bunch of plain frumps like, well, nearly everybody who isn't a celebrity obsessed with their appearance.

Jemima Lewis makes this point in the Independent.

Ugly man gets laid - that's the subliminal scandal behind the headlines; and not for the first time. When Robin Cook had his affair it was his ginger hair and gnome-like visage that caused most consternation. John Major's dalliance with Edwina Currie scandalised the nation chiefly because it seemed so unnatural: grey men who tuck their shirt into their underpants are supposed to be above (or do we really mean beneath) feelings of lust. And when David Blunkett - a blind man with a beard, of all things! - fell in love, the nation's hilarity knew no bounds...

They are, after all, just like the rest of us: snaggle-toothed, flat-footed, thick-waisted, baggy-eyed members of the human race. Do they deserve to be mocked for it, any more than we do?

The rest of us somehow manage to suspend our disbelief long enough to fall in love. We find beauty in unexpected places - a hawk-like nose, a wiggly eyebrow - and trust our lovers when they say the same of us. Life would be unbearably bleak if we couldn't transcend the lumpen reality of our bodies; look into someone else's eyes and see a sexpot reflected back.

It's one thing to condemn a man for adultery; quite another to ridicule him for his looks.

But there's something here that strikes me as more profoundly wrong. Rather like the way the American government only got the murderous Al Capone on tax charges, so it seems pathetic to be going after Prescott for shagging his secretary, or Charles Clarke for a departmental cock-up when he personally has pushed the government's authoritarian agenda so hard.

Like Prescott, Bill Clinton suffered for his sexual behaviour. As Eddie Izzard pointed out, if lying were to have a degree system like American murder charges, lying about your sex life would be 58th Degree Lying; everyone has done it at some time.

Whereas not everyone has committed crimes against humanity in Belgrade and Baghdad that, were the standards of the Nuremberg Trials to be imposed, would see them dangling from a rope.

If we're to depose the likes of Prescott and Clarke, it should be for the real damage they've personally done to the world.

The sexual tittle-tattle is a sideshow whose only real value is to complete the full set, to demonstrate that the Labour administration is awash with every colour of sleaze. Indeed, there's so much of it that some goes under our radar.

Whilst we've been concentrating about Charles Clarke's errors and thinking - or rather, shuddering and trying not to think - about John Prescott's cock, other indefensible tosh passed us by.

Sport Minister Richard Caborn has been defending the decision to - your incredulity meter's going to need a new fuse - dish out a grant of £30,000 to Manchester United to provide lunchtime fitness sessions for their staff.

Marina Hyde nailed it with eloquence:

"What it is," Caborn explained at the weekend, "is thinking out of the box a little bit."

If by "the box", Richard means the realms of human sanity and reason, then there is no disputing the fact that Sport England's decision - in which the minister claims to have been "fully involved" - is indeed as far from its lidded confines as is possible in this temporal dimension...

I can't help feeling that for all the Byzantine iniquities of the cash-for-peerages row, it is the breathtakingly simple, batcrap craziness of this kind of argument that resonates most effectively with what New Labour is given to calling "the man on the street".

There are some decisions so obviously and immediately indefensible that for a government minister - a grown man, if you please! - to attempt to explain that the second richest sporting club in the world is an ideal candidate for a grant to aid staff fitness would seem palpable nonsense to the average eight-year-old football fan in this country, and a more serious affront to anyone older.

How should we respond to this growing mountain of outrageous abuse of power?

A LibDem candidate has defected to the Conservatives, saying they can, 'ensure the departure of our current presidential, autocratic and authoritarian government'.

Is his memory really so short? The Blair administration is like the last days of Major's government, and it's not a coincidence.

It's not 'Blair' or 'Labour'. It is entrenched power. It's 2006 Labour, it's 1995 Tories, it's the Orange Order in Northern Ireland, it's Labour councils in the South Wales Valleys. Anywhere that power becomes consolidated and feels permanent, those who wield it turn into Robert Mugabe.

Whilst I commend the thorough and excellent job done by the Blairwatch site, I'm wary of anything that seems to imply that a change of government offers a lasting solution.

Only a change from government can do that.

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

two wheels good, four wheels bad

Guardian editor Alan Rusbridger's written a piece about how great his electric car is.

Having had an accident on his bike he wanted to find another way to get to work. He dismissed public transport and walking as too lengthy, and admits to feeling 'just possibly a teeny bit smug' at deciding on the electric car. It is described as 'emission free' and 'carbon neutral'.

Even ignoring all the resources used to manufacture the car and ship it halfway round the world to Mr Rusbridger, neither claim is true.

It is emission free when you look at the vehicle itself, but that's only because they've been shifted from exhaust pipe to power station. The climate does not care where we emit, only that we do.

It is rather like people in London believing smokeless fuel is clean because they don't see the factory in Abercwmboi spewing out filth so bad that villagers can't hang washing out and the trees are black.

Powered by electricity from the national grid, his car is not carbon neutral. It is predominantly fuelled by coal and gas, with a significant portion from nuclear and a smidgen of renewables.

Of course, if the national grid took more electricity from renewable sources it would make the would make the car greener, but as such sources cannot ever meet a majority of our domestic and industrial needs, they won't fuel the additional demand of our vehicle fleet. More vehicle use means more fossil fuels burnt whichever way you look at it.

If he's going to be honest with himself, he - like anyone who uses motorised personal transport - has to accept that his preferred commuting time is either impossible or unsustainable.

Thursday, April 20, 2006

mixed messages

The Independent keeps on doing prominent stories about climate change, seeing the issue clearly, yet intersperses it with twaddle about how it's OK to fly as long as you pay someone to plant trees.

What could be the reason for such wilfully unjoined thinking?

Last Saturday's issue featured a huge front page splash about a 3 degree temperature rise - highly likely within decades - causing ecosystems to collapse, rainforest to retreat, drought to spread and much more.

Immediately above it, a sponsored competition from American Airlines to win flights to New York.

More than 5% of the issue was car adverts.

Monday, April 17, 2006

don't feed the stags

It's an unusual campsite that combines camping facilites with a golf course. By and large, golfers have the requirements and the plentiful hard cash that make them choose different holiday accommodation.

It's a still rarer campsite that combines camping, golf and the shooting of stags that try to get into your tent.

Yet at Lochranza, this is exactly what you get.

(sorry for the blurry photo, picture was taken in a hurry. I didn't want to get caught taking pictures in the Gents, thought it might get misconstrued)

Friday, April 14, 2006

travelling fnarr and wide

My brother drives a model of Chrysler called the PT Cruiser. He refers to it as simply 'The Cruiser' which amuses me no end. I amuse myself further - and make him somewhat bored - by referring to it using terms such as The Fluffer or The Felcher.

This week I'm at his house, and I've realised this double-entendre thing was not of his doing. It is the inevitable consequence of living, as he does, in Formby.

It seems to the untrained eye to be a sedate middle class dormitory town. However, I have no doubt it lies on one of the greatest convergences of double-entendre leylines on this earth.

I go to check out compost bins at Formby Hardware. The brand of bins they stock - which I've never seen before and are all made from plastic - is Rubbermaid.

Nextdoor is a butcher's with a big sign in blazing orange capitals, SPITROAST CHICKENS.

Is that the title of a porn movie featuring reluctant participants in spitroasting?

Or is it, as the fiery block lettering implies, a command to bestiality?

Reeling, I look across the road to see an, ahem, 'leather goods' shop called, yikes, Backhouse.

A sign in its window tells me it's advertised in the local freebie paper, 'The Formby Trader'.

Which is either the name of a champion cottager, or else an Albert Goldman dirt-dishing biography of George Formby's rentboy early days.

I try to escape this place via the internet. Come on my old faithful, tell me of places where I'm not overwhelmed with smut.

So I go and find Jim Bliss, and he's talking of going to Stillorgan.

I wonder if that's twinned with Cockshutt?

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

south pacific

Despite the staggering scale of it, almost all logging in Papua New Guinea is against the law. But when the logging companies can buy governmental favour, that's no barrier.

They've already acquired 70 percent of Papua New Guinea’s available forest resources, and the government is planning to hand out concessions for most of the rest, even though it's illegal.

This is where the bigger environmental groups come in. Small autonomous direct activists certainly do great work in support of Pacific tribes, not just in solidarity action but in personally delivering medical supplies. But there is a degree of muscle needed to sustain a campaign that only the big groups have.

Despite their disgraceful attitude on the Icelandic dams issue, in Papua New Guinea Greenpeace are right in there, helping communities kick logging companies off the land and following it up to get the bastards prosecuted.

Being all cyberagey, there's an onboard blog from the Rainbow Warrior crew, helmed by my fab friend Sophie, and it's newly added to the blogroll in my sidebar.

Greenpeace is just starting to extend its work to the other half of Papua - West Papua, controlled by Indonesia.

Many people there don't want any industrialisation. Their attitude towards money economies has a lot to teach us. Wiwa Wewo of the West Papuan Lani tribe came to Europe to find out what is this thing called 'the West' that wants to kick him off his land.

He wrote a pamphlet for us and for his tribespeople to explain what he found. Called Just Leave Us Alone!, you can get a pdf of it here, and you really should.

Monday, April 10, 2006

orwellian lineage

After Newbury, Guy wasn't anomalous in keeping on fighting for environmental and social justice. In tracking down Störm for the reunion, I found him via the Olan Trust which he established in 2004, among a squillion other things he's been up to. The others have all done a ton of great stuff since then too.

Wasn't it all supposedly 'just a phase'?

Weren't we all meant to be tory voting James Last listening conformist twats by now?

My book about the Newbury Bypass only got criticised in two reviews. One was Living Marxism, whose criticism is a compliment. Their line was that because Jimi Hendrix’s acid dealer believed in a nonsensical theory of imminent global cooling, all theories on climate change are bollocks and all who say so are political imbeciles.

In a private joke with myself, I started an article with the opening line from that review.

The other criticism was an aside in an otherwise positive piece in Do Or Die. They said that many of my ideas were 'quite reformist and unthought-through', which is accurate and entirely justified.

The impact tree protests had on those of us new to truly radical politics was epiphanic. The way it joined up our thinking, so that we swiftly realised this wasn’t about saving trees or challenging Car Culture, it was about opposing industrialisation, the profit motive and all concentrations of power. It is no coincidence that a couple of years later many of us who met on the tree protests were together on the barricades of the big anti-capitalist protests.

At Mary Hare, Suzanne was reading Homage To Catalonia George Orwell's account of his time fighting in the Spanish Civil War, and we all saw the parallels. Whilst we were not being shot at, we were out making a stand for justice against the power-hungry. Fred Gibson, a Second World War veteran, saw it too and gave his medals to one of us.

Beyond the struggle, there was a commonality with Spain in how we lived as we fought. We were there, everyone equally, deciding by consensus, a living example of much that is desirable but supposedly not possible due to the alleged nasty selfishness of human nature.

I had dropped more or less by chance into the only community of any size in Western Europe where political consciousness and disbelief in capitalism were more normal than their opposites.

Up here in Aragon one was among tens of thousands of people, mainly though not entirely of working-class origin, all living at the same level and mingling on terms of equality. In theory it was perfect equality, and even in practice it was not far from it.

There is a sense in which it would be true to say that one was experiencing a foretaste of Socialism, by which I mean that the prevailing mental atmosphere was that of Socialism. Many of the normal motives of civilized life - snobbishness, money-grubbing, fear of the boss, etc - had simply ceased to exist. The ordinary class-division of society had disappeared to an extent that is almost unthinkable in the money-tainted air of England; there was no one there except the peasants and ourselves, and no one owned anyone else as his master.

Of course such a state of affairs could not last. It was simply a temporary and local phase in an enormous game that is being played over the whole surface of the earth. But it lasted long enough to have its effect upon anyone who experienced it. However much one cursed at the time, one realized afterwards that one had been in contact with something strange and valuable. One had been in a community where hope was more normal than apathy or cynicism, where the word ‘comrade’ stood for comradeship and not, as in most countries, for humbug. One had breathed the air of equality.

Orwell’s personal lesson from Spain matches Newbury for this mix of grand vision among the mud, of having the political truths of our hearts illuminated and proven so that we can never again deny them.

Once you've seen the possibility of your dreams, you are obliged to try to make them happen.

Friday, April 07, 2006

carbon offsets are a fraud

The Independent recently published a piece on 'How To Fly Around The World Without Costing The Earth'. They ignored the only credible answer (evolve yourself some wings) and went with the idea of using aircraft and then paying people to plant trees as carbon offsets.

A chap called Duncan Law responded. He points out that simple measuring of emissions is not enough; as aircraft emit at altitude, their impact is around three times as bad as if it were done on the ground. His most persuasive point is that carbon offsets are a nonsense because the emission is instant whereas the tree's absorption is over many years.

There are, however, many other problems too. It's impossible to say how much carbon a tree will store, so you cannot know how many trees to plant for your emissions. Beyond that, you cannot tell what your emissions are; figures on offset websites for, say, per mile driven usually don't take into account your mpg or how many passengers to divide it among. Figures for a train journey should surely be different if it's a packed rushour train compared to a late afternoon one with only half a dozen of you on board.

Then there's the problem of just counting the number of trees planted. Some offset projects have been buying land that's cheap, clearing existing mixed woodland trees and replacing them with their monoculture plantations.

Whilst all these things are true, they only show why offsets are clumsy and ineffective.

There is a bigger more disturbing truth, that paying for offsets lets us think we can carry on with our unsustainable high consumption, and were we to face the facts that offsets don't really work, we would be forced to concede the reduction on emissions so urgently needed.

Corporate Watch's characteristically excellent article explains:

Planting trees and energy efficiency are important things to do in themselves, but the trouble with linking them to offset programmes is that their positive impact is cancelled out by justifying and condoning a negative one, implying that we can consume at current rates guilt free as long as we have the money to salve our consciences, which takes us no further forwards in reducing emissions. If anything, it takes us backwards, as corporations are able to ride on the image boost of appearing greener, whereas the truth of the matter is that they are a complete fraud.

Not just ineffective or counterproductive but 'a complete fraud'? This is where we hit the biggest and most disturbing truth. You can't offset carbon emissions.

Burning fossil fuels adds CO2 to the carbon cycle. Trees merely store some of it for a while before releasing it once they rot or burn. They're not an offset, merely a delaying device.

As Oliver Rackham said, it's like drinking more water to keep down rising sea levels.

The wish to avoid actually changing the things we've come to rely on is understandable, but it's effectively a blindfold we're putting on to tell ourselves we're not facing what's in front of us as we walk toward the cliff edge.

The reader response to The Independent also featured incredulity at environmentalists wanting to ban damaging activity.

Do they really expect ordinary people to subscribe to the notion of... "punishing those who damage the environment"?

Given that 'the environment' means the single system we have for survival, I'd answer yes.

And it should include mandatory measures. If I saw a line of sick babies in incubators and somebody was trying to inject poison into their oxygen supply, yes I'd want to force them to stop.

The welfare of future generations of people and other species lies in our hands and we're poisoning their fundamental essential prerequisites for survival. If it's not right to poison people and take away their food and water today it's not right to do it to them tomorrow. We should not respect anyone's claim to a right to do so, we should be tackling them head on and if they won't respond to appeals to their common humanity then they should certainly have their toys taken off them.

If only it were their own future they were fucking up. Again I see the curse of our allotted three score years and ten. Were we to live for several centuries then averting the worst effects of climate change would be our top priority.

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

i can see clearly now

Time for a new look at Badger Towers. Been meaning to do it for yonks, but you know how it is.

No big dramatic reason, it's just that reading light-on-dark is a bit taxing to many people's eyes.

Rather like the way the advent of Word and DTP programs made many of us print reams of stuff in very pretty fonts without thinking about the readability of 3,000 words in 6pt Algerian, so websites tended to bright and flashy and blogs be done out in lovely colours while the effectiveness of imparting of information took a backseat.

Google were way ahead of us all with their clean stark layout, but we're catching up.

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

ten years after

Settle in, this is going to be a long post. It warrants it. If there is such a thing as a defining time of my life, that's the subject matter herein. Also, we recently had to bury one of my comrades from that time. Allow me my reflection.

In the mid 1990s camps were established among the woods on the route of the proposed Newbury Bypass. By occupying the trees due for destruction, protesters made the building of the road take longer and cost more, and they gave a show of resistance to the world.

On 9th January 1996, felling started and acted as a shout across the country for anyone who opposed it – anyone who cared about our natural heritage, anyone who valued wildlife over industrialisation, anyone who believed in sustainability over accommodating greed - to stand up and be counted.

Each day the chainsaws would work behind a cordon of security guards whilst people repeatedly charged at the lines. Where they weren’t repelled or arrested, they got through to the trees and scrambled up. Nobody in the felling teams was trained or insured to drag protesters out of trees, so it meant they would have to come back another day.

On 11th January, they arrived at land at the far north of the route, where the new road would join the existing A34. There were a dozen tall trees in a line across the field. Protesters breached the cordon and occupied three, the rest were killed. That night a camp was set up there. It was named Mary Hare, after the school for hearing impaired children in whose grounds it stood. I arrived a few days later and stayed for three months.

It was an inhospitable place, three trees in an open field beside a dual carriageway. Others would come to the protest and find Mary Hare first, it being so visible and all. But soon they’d move on to the more beautiful camps in ancient woodland where the spirit of the natural world could envelop you, and where there were more trees to defend. This left very few of us there, living in the traffic noise and sweeping winds. For two periods of four days I was alone in that field, one of them in the deep snow.

In mid February they started evicting the camps. They were intense, powerful and brutal. People were violently assaulted by the bailiffs whilst the police looked on bored. From our camp, we’d see huge palls of smoke in the sky as piles of bulldozed trees were burned, and we wondered when our time would come.

We had treehouses in two of our trees. Living in the treehouses was crucial. If the bailiffs came in and found you on the ground it’d be all over in minutes. But with people living in the treetops it took expensive specialists to get you, and you could dodge them around for a long time, making the process for clearing the nine mile road take three months.

I suffer from vertigo, so it was only with a great deal of effort over an embarrasingly long period of time that I’d become comfortable with the lower one of our treehouses. The other, over in the big tree, was a classic Swampy treehouse. The future face of road protest had been astonishing, moving from camp to camp, free-climbing to the top twigs of the tallest trees and building treehouses, then moving on to the next camp to do it again. By early March, we’d had nobody in our top treehouse – our only hope of any real delay in the eviction – for weeks.

Having lived outdoors through the coldest part of winter, we were ground down and exhausted. We’d seen our friends at other camps beaten up by bailiffs and police, we’d seen so many pieces of wild land lost forever to concrete.

Early one morning at the beginning of March a man appeared in an ex-army parka and, much more importantly, a climbing harness. He was new on site and wanted to get his bearing on the protest and find some friends who were at another camp.

I saw in Guy an experienced climber who could move into the top treehouse. I begged, pleaded, explained and persuaded. He went off to locate his mates, but later that day came back and moved in. Although the camp with his friends over in Snelsmore was a better place to live, we at Mary Hare were more in need. As I was to learn, it was typical of Guy to apply himself not where was easiest, but where he could be most effective.

He radiated a sparkling committed energy, and just being around him was tremendously rejuvenating for our lagging souls. He had a great sense of purpose and enthusiasm, he was focussed, practical and definite. Me and him quickly developed a deeply ribald sparring banter.

The campaign owed its success to many thousands of people who helped in many thousands of ways. But at our camp, there was a core team of five of us in that last month. Me, Störm, Suzanne, Helen and Guy.

Guy knew that, alone and defending the most inaccessible treetop, he would be the last one left when the eviction came. Out of sight of witnesses, he would be at serious risk of the worst malice and violence of the bailiffs. He never even mentioned it as a concern.

From three dozen camps in mid February, the campaign ended March with four.

On 29th March something very odd happened. The 250 year old oak tree known as Middle Oak was given a reprieve. Although on land compulsorily purchased for the bypass, it wasn’t actually in the line of tarmac and could be retained. It still stands on the junction of the A34 and A4.

On 1st April, they finally came for us at Mary Hare. To our surprise, we were offered a reprieve as well. Once the Undersheriff had declared it in front of the press, we voluntarily left.

There were 10,000 trees lost and only four saved. How odd that, for all the hundreds of people and trees around the camps in Snelsmore Wood and elsewhere, it was us up in that isolated field who won something tangible.

The Newbury campaign brought the roads issue to a head. Others had led up to it – Jesmond Dene, Twyford Down, Claremont Road, Solsbury Hill – and by now our solid arguments had become undeniable. The roads budget was slashed by three quarters overnight. Because we fought at Newbury, we did not have to fight at those places that would’ve been next. The water meadows around Salisbury are surely still grateful.

The bonds formed in extreme circumstances are strong, simply incomparable with the ones formed in other circumstances. At the camps our very presence was an act of resistance against greed, unsustainability and industrialisation. Just sat there arsing about making a cup of tea and rude remarks about one another’s next of kin was still an occupation of the land and so in itself defiant. We shared everything, and the most basic of practical tasks could seem deeply profound, whilst the most extreme risks could become mundane.

Pretty much anyone I talk to who was on such a campaign remembers it as the time they were most alive, most right, when life seemed the best fit. Our desire to defy the money god, disenfranchisement and the plasticity of consumerism and instead do something that was positive, nature affirming, inspirational, free and bold has never been more sated than it was then. Though there’s still time for more!

The three trees are still alive. They are older than you and I and, hopefully, will outlive us all too.

I have said that line many times since the day we were evicted. I never thought of it as being something I would confront so soon.

Guy died on 28th January in a mountaineering accident in Scotland.

It’s made me realise that not only us but our trees too will die one day. So on Saturday - 1st April, the tenth anniversary of our victorious eviction - we planted a few dozen new trees among the three big mature limes. We did it to commemorate our time there, to celebrate our tiny victory, to remember Guy, and as an act of responsible hope.

We kept in touch after Newbury. I visited him in Oxford a few times, getting him out of the office and into the pub. Never have I known anyone more in need of dragging to the pub. Some people need less persuading, others need more but don’t really enjoy it once you get them there. Guy had just the balance of commitment and playfulness that meant he’d need someone else as his validation for doing it - he often needed a bit of a shove to get out of the uptightness - but once that was done he was brilliant, a great conversationalist, knowledgeable, intelligent, uproariously funny and brilliantly blunt.

I can picture him in such a variety of emotions, but always the first that comes to mind is his cheeky mocking smile that prefixed dismissal of whatever I'd just said and the raising of conversational stakes.

He became Campaigns Director at People and Planet. He had a gift for finding campaigns that, despite being a smallish body of 6th formers and students, they could have a real effect on.

I was deeply impressed when he left People and Planet. For all the great work he did there, he could not become complacent and once he felt he was capable of achieving more he moved on, even when he was unsure exactly what ‘more’ would be.

Such audacity raises the bar, it dares us to create the circumstances where we can be most effective, to push ourselves as he did.

He set up Power Shift, giving his proven skills to a range of campaigning organisations.

In 2004 he founded Crisis Action, which co-ordinates NGOs and other interested groups so they respond more effectively to armed conflict.

A small and moving tribute site has been set up for Guy, and it's attracted postings from many people who knew him.

One of those is Adrian Lovett, the Campaigns Director at Oxfam: 'He knew that we will not win without being very good at what we do, and he was. He also knew that without idealism and belief, all the professionalism in the world is worth nothing.'

I last saw Guy a couple of months ago, after several years. It was Sunday night in Oxford after People and Planet's Shared Planet conference, an event Guy founded. I was walking up Cowley Road, he was on a bus going the other way. With only a few seconds and no words available, my instinct was to vigourously moon him.

I could read his face well. He knew I’d be slightly embarrassed at mooning in the street, but this would be cancelled out by the greater embarrassment he’d have being sat among people on the bus who thought such a vulgar loon was his kind of friend.

If me and Guy were to have sat down a year ago and planned one last crossing of our paths, I can picture the conversation coming around to that idea and us both laughing our heads off and knowing it would be the best.

Guy was a motivator, an instigator, a man with a relentless drive to leave the world a better place for him having been here, to really challenge himself to do it to the limits of his ability, and yet nonetheless to enjoy his time too. He succeeded.

Monday, April 03, 2006

magical mystery tour

Fucking hell. Just got home and have a lot to write, but need to vent first.

Having had the misfortune to fall in love with someone from Oxford, I've found that by far the cheapest method of motorised travel from Leeds is the Megabus via London.

Leeds to London is perhaps the simplest long distance journey one can undertake in the UK. There is a single road between the two places with the simplest of names: M1.

Why is Megabus so much cheaper than anyone else? Why do their timetables give journey times half an hour longer than National Express when they go the same route with identical vehicles?

The two questions have one answer. Clearly Megabus scoop up the drivers National Express sacked and employ them at a fraction of the cost. They are so fucking incompetant that they cannot be trusted to drive on the one road that links the cities without going off on a fucking mystery tour that even Mad Barry the driver doesn't know the destination of, so they get half an hour of wander-time scheduled in.

Leeds to London, ooh that's a bit simple. Why not go via Birmingham and frigging Heathrow airport for no reason like my last Megabus?

London is due south, so how about making things a bit more challenging by heading off east out of Leeds before going north a while then turning round, like the time before?

Trivial to blog aboutI know, but then you didn't spend 20 minutes this evening on a spontaneous tour of Meadowhall's extensive car park complex. Looks big as you pass it on the M1. But not half as big as when you're flailing around without reason or end at the mercy of the fuckwit driver.

What was he? Just lost? Utterly deranged? In oblivious reverie cos that last worksful he banged up at Tibshelf was purer than he bargained for?

Fuck's sake.

Right, I'm off to put the kettle on and then come and write some proper stuff.