"Then it is dark; a night where kings in golden suits ride elephants over the mountains." - John Cheever

Saturday, January 06, 2007

Help, I've become a running dog of the reactionary right



Colin said...

I don't know. I'm certainly more jaded and cynical these days, and less idealistic. On some issues I'm more 'right wing' in a crude sense than I was when younger - that happens to most people. But on others I'm pretty consistent, and its never straightforward. Take Ken - there's a lot to criticise him about, as those who work for his organisation would be able to testify (!). But he's doing a good job in a lot of areas, and has the power to get things done. Who really cares what shape the buses are? Let's not get sentimental - those Routemasters were probably disastrous environmentally, and old people couldn't get on them. And why would a left wing council be any more or less likely to build an ugly bridge than a right-wing one? As for the UN, I am increasingly sceptical about its efficacy, but still believe in the ideal. If it's not functioning very well, our governments need to make it work better.

john said...

I wouldn't say I'm *all* that bothered about the passing of the Routemasters (liked them though) but I have a deep and abiding loathing of those bendy monstrosities they replaced them with.

I thought Ken did a good job with congestion charging. (I assume this is still working effectively?) Other than that though - what?

Colin said...

Well, congestion charging was the main thing to be fair. They are investing quite a lot in transport generally, and there are more buses than before, even if they are bendy - including a couple of tokenistic hydrogen ones. Although tube improvements are funded on a stupid pfi model, but Ken did oppose that. He's also doing boring bureaucratic things, like merging learning and skills councils, which make sense. On the other hand, he does have a monstrous ego and claims personal credit for anything good that happens. Maybe I'm just for having a mayor, rather than Ken per se. The London Assembly could do with having more teeth, too.

I liked routemasters too, but they were designed 50 years ago. I always thought it was interesting that the double seats weren't really quite big enough for two people, and the roof was too low for anyone bigger than me. Postwar people were clearly smaller. Bendies seem alright when I'm inside one - they've had them in other countries for years, after all. But they are rubbish if you're on a bike trying to pass one.

john said...

I could never get comfortable on a bendy bus - the floor seemed to have lots of curved bumps, making it difficult to rest one's feet comfortably.

Routemasters were a disaster area when busy agreed. Sitting on the top deck of a 38 Routemaster going along Picadilly on a summer's day will always be one of the quintessential London experiences for me however.

Tom said...

The Bendy Buses are a bit of a mixed bag. Much worse for other road users, particularly cyclists, and they don't have the style or charm of upstairs on a Routemaster. However, as someone who gets a bus during rush hour nearly every day, the bendy buses have far more volume. There's nothing worse than watching packed buses go past without stopping, and that seems to happen far less with the bendy buses.

The Mayor is an egotistical nightmare and profligate with public money, but he's done some very good things. Who cares if he's ill-tempered and rude? The main thing is that he's dedicated to addressing the disastrous impact of the car on London: the congestion charge was seminal and bus journeys, bendy or otherwise, have increased hugely in recent years.

Wasn't very impressed with this article overall. Like Colin, I'm much more cynical of what politicians can achieve but the world is a complex place, and the record of governments and institutions such as the UN is far more nuanced than newspaper columnists would have us believe.