Heathrow's terminal 5 shopping mall.

May 18, 2011 | | 1 comments |

So I'm enduring the bloody mess that is terminal 5 at Heathrow at the
moment. It's a mess because, like all UK airports, actually traveling
is the last thing this place was designed for. Instead it's awash with
high end shops and eateries where you can't get anything as basic as a
bacon sandwich. I could have a tuna nicoise with elegant salad flowers
and rustic artisan bread if wanted, and if I had £10 to spare. Or I
could spend £2 for a bottle of coke, or £6 for a fancy coffee. But
basic food is nowhere to be found. Even the pre-packed sandwiches are
fruit to sound clever. It's ham and bloody cheese, not mediterranean
this and authentic southern that on a wholemeal fair trade something
or other.
Also as with all UK airports, the passengers are treated like
children. They refuse to post the gate numbers until half an hour
before the flight leaves. The airports think that forcing everyone to
sit in a cramped shithole will make them go and use the shops.
Instead it results in pissed off frequent fliers and a scrum when the
flight is called as 400 people all try to get to the gate at once.
Wouldn't be a problem in an airport but when all those people have to
dodge and weave through expensive shops to get go the gate, things get
a bit dicey. The other effect of course is that there are constant
announcements for people about to miss their flights. Because instead
of treating us like adults and printing the gate number on the
boarding pass, we're all forced to sit watching TV monitors.
We've been here for 20 minutes now and I honestly have no idea where
the planes are. I mean they must be here somewhere, behind the YSL
store, tucked next to Harrods or something.
Either way, for a frequent traveller, this place sucks donkey balls.
Just like every other UK airport. I'd hoped they would have figured
out how airports work when they built T5 but sadly not.

The sad state of England

May 15, 2011 | | 1 comments |

Things are bad. Really bad. The country roads are plagued with drivers
who are terrified of going faster than 45mph. The motorways are
clogged with police vans and average speed cameras forcing everyone to
do 50mph. Even the motorcyclists seem to have lost their balls; I had
a group of them pull out in front of me at Box Hill this afternoon.
"No problem - they'll get away quickly" I thought. But no. They
accelerated at bloody walking pace. The police state has destroyed
driving for everyone over here. Then there's the cost of fuel. Filled
the rental car today and it cost me $132 for 15 gallons! How can
people afford to drive?
New police and council powers mean that councils can go through your
rubbish and fine you if you put the wrong thing in the wrong bin. They
can spy on you without warrants and CCTV cameras have tripled or
quadrupled in number in the last few years, but crime has skyrocketed
so they're still doing no good. Short term loan rates are running at
1470% APR (that isn't a typo) and bank interest rates are at 0.25%.
Gas and electric prices have gone up 50% in the last year and they're
forecast to go up another 20-30% this year. Thieves are stealing
lightning rods for copper and lead from church roofs.
The government makes ours back in America look like a super talented
collection of geniuses. The papers and the public are more infatuated
with celebrity gossip than the Americans.
Public transport is on it's knees. Police forces are being slashed
across the country and the national health service is bankrupt with
record waiting times for even the most basic medical procedures now.
I'm so glad we left. England is broken and I don't think the people
who live there can see it. The pot has boiled and the frog is well and
truly dead. I worry for our friends and family left in the UK but I'm
not sure how I can help :-(