Category Archives: Travel

British Transport Police miss the point

This BBC article is currently kicking around in the ‘Most Read’ section of the website. I, for one, fully support these little acts of resistance: they’re witty, non-violent and hopefully make people think. All the things low-level subversion should be.

They are also marrying my two somewhat-contradictory thoughts on the Tube: Love public transport, can’t stand TfL and how they manage the Tube. They’re like any good parody: they mock their subject matter while making their affections for it clear.

Take the following examples:

 

“No eye contact. Penalty £200.”
“We apologise for any incontinence caused during these engineering works.”
“Peak hours may necessitate you let other people sit on your lap.”

But, as always, the plod miss the point. And the fun:

BTP said graffiti was “unwanted vandalism that causes criminal damage” and “will not be tolerated”.
“It is a blight on our society and becomes an eyesore for many residents who overlook the railway,” a BTP spokesman added.

Wait, what? Putting stickers inside tube carriages and tube stations “becomes an eyesore for many residents who overlook the railway”. It’s almost like there is another kind of graffiti which basically everyone agrees should stop: spray paint on buildings by railways. If the police pretend all graffiti is the specific kind of graffiti it’s easy to oppose then, why, they don’t need to think about criminality with any kind of nuance or critical thinking at all.

Graffiti: bad. Always. Even if it’s not an eyesore for anyone who overlooks a railway.

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Filed under Law, Politics, Travel

Time Zones

I”m currently eight hours behind my usual time zone. Although, as I sit here in my hotel room, too early to eat dinner, but yet still long past my bedtime, I count my lucky stars that I’m in a country with only one time zone. New York is 3 hours ahead of San Jose, which is kind of annoying for organising communication but not terrible. The real difficulty comes in with television.

I think one of the reasons why US television is so insipidly sanitised must have something to do with the multiple-time-zone problem. After all, the concept of a watershed is completely missing for a US national network broadcaster. Say I have a gritty new show, exploring adult themes and with enough fucks and bastards to satisfy even the most inbred of rural aristrocracy. Then I can’t put it on at 9pm Eastern Time, as that’s 6pm Pacific. I can’t wait until 9pm Pacific because then it airs midnight in the East. So I just have to put it out on cable, or remove my swears and adult themes.

I hear a network once tried to make a US version without of The Thick Of It. Only without swearing or any serious satireof politics.

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Filed under Personal, Travel

California

So I touched down in San Jose last night for a work trip. It’s my second trip to the US in the last month, and the thing that’s struck me most is the fact that America is at once so foreign and so familiar. I’ll post over the next few days with some of my views on the US (including on the adverts, they’re fascinating), but today I’d like to talk about the issues which surround a country this size.

I mentioned this is my second trip to the US recently, and the first trip was to Alabama in the deep south. Maybe these two locations are a good opportunity to consider the dual-natured American culture, as San Jose is in one of the most liberal areas in the country, and Alabama is Alabama. In one, I as a non-driver was trapped in my hotel, in the other I can use pavements (or sidewalks) and public transport. In one, all I could find to eat was various kinds of things which were fried, in the other I can eat almost any cuisine I like.

But of the two, it’s Alabama which felt less foreign. Maybe it’s the flora – lots of evergreen trees and British-y plants as opposed to palms and faux-mexican architecture – but I really feel like Alabama is closer to the UK than California. A rural, somewhat conservative UK, but close nonetheless.

It’s almost a cliche to say that the UK and US are a country separated by a common language, but the same is almost more true of these two states. There is almost nothing else they have in common with one another – culture, ethnic diversity, and food are all so different. Maybe if I saw the more of the poor in both areas I’d would see more in common (travellers rarely see anything but the products of the rich) as, in England at least, commonality of culture is usually found among the working-class.

More to come.

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Filed under Personal, Travel