Sunday, January 21, 2007


A Not So Green and Not So Pleasant Land

I'm aware that as I grow older my Victor Meldrew tendencies have strengthened markedly but the article today by Jason Cowley makes me feel a lot better. I'm not alone in my inner fulminations. He articulates what I have been thinking for a long time on:

'just how coarse is so much of our public discourse and how degraded are so many of the places in which we interact: our trains, our cinemas and high streets.

Coming back after a spell abroad he has noticed things in sharper focus. He notices the Stansted Express to London, the pride of One Railway, has: 'ripped and buckled seats'; 'rancid lavatories which are often scarcely serviceable at all'; 'has litter and trash strewn everywhere'; and 'has no appropriate luggage storage facilities' even though 'this a busy airport train'.

And when travelling he notes how the convention that led mobile phone users to speak quietly and apologetically has been blown away; now people 'jabber away... without the slightest regard for' anyone else:

'our private lives spilling out into the the public space, our voices loud and our language coarse'.

His jeremiad continues taking in cinemas drowning in litter(my personal bugbear) and high streets overrun every weekend by 'inane drunks'. And the cause? He suggests Mrs Thatcher rejected the state and handed over responsibility to us and our families. Unfortunately we and our families just could not hack it, with the degraded, hedonistic results we all see hear and smell, all around us, every day.

"now people 'jabber away... without the slightest regard for' anyone else."

You should hear my neighbour in college! I don't think I'd blame Mrs T for her, though.

I do think there's an over-tendency to blame Thatcher for such social troubles. As though trains didn't have rancid lavatories before 1979, and as though one person could have so much influence on our daily activities. "As if", I say.
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