Tuesday, January 11, 2005
Monday, January 10, 2005
It gives me an idea that has never really crossed my mind, which must be the engine of some writers. To take your one person, and to write it for another part of you. So SummerMe can write little loving Blog Posts to be read by WinterMe, 6 months later. I really like this idea. Couldn't be more self-loving than that, can you?
My eyes and soul and heart yearn to stand on a beach before the sea, in a warm breeze, the heat of sunshine falling on my naked skin. Blue, in a cloudless sky. Blue on a stretching sea. Flanked on the left and right by protective headlands, green. Trees behind me. Sand on my left. Sand on my right.
I yearn so much I've managed to cry just thinking about it. Tsunamis cannot stop that desire. I will be back to Thailand, one day. Or some such.
I have walls, I have lights, I even have enough heat, and now I have somewhere to go from Mondays to Fridays. But it is nothing like the Freedom of Summer. Colin reminded me of the bike ride to Brighton I did last August . It is so long buried by our Season of Darkness, that it is hard for me to imagine how I even got as far as Eltham. The most beautiful thing I remember most, I summarized into one sentence: "I was looking at Ashdown Forest and marvelling at the beautiful Pine trees". How terse I was. No mention that dusk was settling over me. Nor that I had the smooth tarmaced road entirely to myself, even without cars. Nor that the gorse and pine left a crystal sweet scent in the air, the smell of which is heaven to think of, more so now when my sinuses still will not let me breathe clearly. Nor that there was the pristine solitude I felt, of at last getting away from the hell of human population, at last free and unencumbered, even if for just a few hours, at the mercy of Nature's bosom.
But in the morning I will be back to my magnolia painted walls, in my battery human farm, under my fluorescent light, faced by the radiant smile of my computer screen. It pays me money. That's civilization. Bring back my God.
Wednesday, January 05, 2005
Everything went up in price. For a simple return (round-trip) journey into Central London, from where I live (which is in Zone 3 of the six concentric fare zones of London), my cheapest option is a one-day off-peak Travelcard costing £5.20. This is up 11% on the previous fare of £4.70. (NOTE, foreigners that this is "off-peak", which means you cannot even use it before 9.30 a.m on Mondays to Fridays). Also:
- He's gotten rid of the Weekend Travelcard, which used to save 25% on buying two single one-day travelcards.
- Bus Saver tickets, for a single journey on a bus, are up 57% from £0.70 pence to £1.00 each now.
- A one-day bus pass is now £3.00, up 25% from £2.40
- The cheapest adult Tube ticket for any kind of Underground (aka subway) trip is now £1.30, and that is outside zone 1 and within a single one of the other ring zones. In other words, it is only good for about 2 or 3 stops in the suburbs.
Ken Livingstone's ability to charm people is undoubted. The trouble with Ken is that he needs to throw around money in order to achieve change. And the people who are charmed by him are lemmings who need a Pied Piper.
Ken Livingstone is just like Napoleon the Pig from Orwell's Animal Farm. He's doing very well himself now, but he's done nothing for the Londoners who are paying their own way and earning low wages of £4.50 to £6.00 an hour. For part-time employees, the Transportation costs in London are particularly painful, since they cannot justify buying 7-day Travelcards, and have to buy expensive daily ones.
These annual above-inflation increases in London Transport fares are typical of how skewed is the British economy. Calculations of the Inflation Rate in this country are misleading, because Economists are unimaginative, unchallenged, and self-preserving. The inflation rate which they report takes into account basic commodities mostly. So remember that China and the Far East have allowed us to import piles of goods and commodities at prices cheaper than 10 years ago. Even more importantly, their monetary economic strategy is to keep their currencies near-to-worthless, which makes Western currencies fatly-overvalued. Our "low" inflation is substantially imported. There will be a massive price to pay for this, and it's not far off.
So why come to London, unless you're rich, or a package tourist just stopping over for a few days? At least you can leave, and go home. Pity the bastards who are born here, not rich, and don't have anywhere to go back to!
Imagine you work full-time in a shop in Central London, and you're getting £6.00 an hour (for which they expect you to be grateful and smiling, because some jobs only pay £4.50 an hour). You take home about £200 a week after taxes. You can only afford to live in Zone 3 in London, where you have struggled to find a reasonable room in a houseshare at £80 a week, even though it's in the poor part of London. Now your 7-Day Travelcard to travel to work costs you £25 a week, a whopping 12.5% of your take-home pay.
You're left with £95 a week, to eat, clothe yourself, and pay for your Mobile phone bills. When you consider that this is only £40 more than the Job Seeker's Allowance of £55 a week that the Established unemployed are getting on top of housing benefit and council tax benefit (by the way, if you can't speak English, it's a sure way of staying on the dole forever).
And this calculation doesn't even factor in what happens if you have children.
The most deprived class of person in London today is in fact the low-waged single, childless, male without family/community connections. Sadly, there are many more such men indigenous and born in this country who have no Social Network to help them out. Their better bet is the prison system. Even new immigrants fare better than the estranged low-waged, English-born single childless male. This is simply because most immigrants who arrive in London are following in the footsteps of friends and relatives, who are eager to offer them support. Many indigenous, English-born men are spurned as trash by their own countrymen. (And I hasten to add, once again, that even Lefties who read the Guardian will always heap scorn upon their compatriots who buy the Sun/Star newspaper, even though the Tabloid reader does so out of desperation and illiteracy that is sometimes psychiatrically beyond correction).
No, no, no. It would really have been a proper Boxing Day if the Tsunami had killed 150,000 dogs and cats. Then you would have seen England at its most ridiculous: fucked up and celebrating its piety.
The Freedom of Information Act is now fully alive. So far the media has used it to feed us silly tidbits about "what happened 30 years ago". Big deal. The power now is the right of anyone to find out where money is being spent in every public institution up and down the land.
Here's a summary of features:
1. The public should not have things hidden from them. Information should be released unless there is a strong justification for withholding it.
2. Any person, who makes a request for information, must be informed whether the information is held and, if so, that information must be supplied. People making requests do not have to be British citizens, nor do they do have to prove their identity. The person making the request does not have to state why they want the information.
3. Requests must be in writing, and can be on paper, email or fax. The person making the request must give their name and address, and describe the information they want.
4. You must be provided with as much information as is available. A publication scheme may list all documents and publications that are available to the public, which are free or not, and how they may be obtained. You can ask for any recorded information held.
5. The exemptions are set out in the Acts. At local government level, it will be unusual for all the information in a document to be exempt, so while some part may be removed because of an exemption, the rest will be released.
Some information is exempt from provision under Freedom of Information, but is available under other legislation. The Data Protection Act 1998 controls the release of personal information. The Environmental Information Regulations 1992 gives the public access to information held by us relating to the state of water, soil or land, air, animals or plants.
6. On the state of water, soil or land, air, animals or plants, response must be within two months. For any other non-personal information, in general, response must be within 20 working days.
7. If a charge applies, you should be told before you are provided the information and also what the charge is likely to be.
8. If someone is not happy with the response to their request, they can complain to the Information Commissioner, who can instruct the government agency to give them the information they asked for.