Back from London a bit early; chaos created by the transit strike meant I spent most of my time on buses trying to get places, rather than accomplishing what I'd planned. I love London, but is it any wonder it failed to make even the top 50 of the world's most livable cities? Crowded, noisy, polluted, expensive.
Buses galore, cars, bikes and walking were the only modes of transport available Wednesday and Thursday during the London Underground strike. Hundreds of people were lined up at every stop, waiting to board already over-crowded double-deckers. After waiting in pouring rain nearly an hour for a bus - while several empty ones passed with "Not in service" signs - I paid £25 to hop on a Big Bus Company tourist bus on Gloucester Road. It took more than two hours in heavy traffic to reach Madame Tussaud's Wax Museum on Baker Street. From there I walked to my appointment on Harley Street.
A bus from Regent Street took three hours to reach Speaker's Corner in Hyde Park. The driver then announced he was told he'd worked too many hours (due to the excessive traffic) and passengers would have to depart at the next stop. I got out and walked to my hotel in South Kensington, just glad to be off the bus!
Unfortunately the strike meant I couldn't schedule any meet-ups with friends. But I did visit The Photographers' Gallery and my favourite store Liberty, where an Arts & Crafts exhibit was underway (check back later for photos). I also bought a new laptop. At the computer store, I refused the salesperson's entreaties to consider Dell, due to the large sums the company's founder contributed to Republicans in the 2008 presidential election. (I bought a Sony lightweight laptop with a huge memory, to go along with my HP laptop and Samsung netbook)
I thought this Nike ad on Oxford Street was appropriate for the day, considering the thousands of people streaming by in sneakers or walking shoes.
The harm in hate
Recently I was alarmed to note someone from a dangerous neo-Nazi group in the US was reading my site. Right-wing ignorance and hatred is spreading: witness European elections this week and right-wingers gaining seats in the European Parliament.
In the UK, the British National Party won two seats in the European Parliament. At a press conference, the group's figurehead was pelted with eggs. On London television, a commenter joked, "He was upset because the egg-throwers didn't separate the whites." Another commenter suggested those with ethnic backgrounds living in the BNP constituencies show up at their surgeries (regularly scheduled to hear constituents' concerns) in groups, forcing the racist leader to deal with non-whites.
It appears the white supremacist suspected of killing a security guard at the Holocaust Museum in Washington has links to the BNP.
If you read nothing else today, these articles are worth your time:
The wrong story
On Eurostar to London, I read Siri Hustvedt's book "The Sorrows of an American." While the book was interesting, I found some of the sidebars distracting, with characters that didn't seem relevant to the plot.
But I am glad I read the book. Three phrases in particular struck a chord. In one passage,the author compared the current rash of television reality shows to the equivalent of people gathering at the gallows to watch a public hanging. A succinct analogy, I think.
And these two lines resonate:
"We found the wrong story. We were looking for one story and ran into another one."
"Maybe you've kept a secret in your heart that you've felt, in all its joy or pain was too precious to share with anyone."
What about you? Did you find the wrong story or are you happily ensconced in a modern-day fairytale? Do you hold a secret close; one so powerful you don't dare whisper it to another?
"London crawling" is a tongue-in-cheek reference to "London calling," the BBC World Service's station identification: "This is London calling," used during World War II in broadcasts to other countries.