December 28th, 2004


Britain, my Britain

Go here for a fantastic description of arriving back in Britain for the first time in ages...

Britain starts 35,000 feet above Holland. The Berlin - London paddy wagon is crammed. Ryanair have me strapped into a seat and, yes, they're going to sell me snacks and duty free goods and yes, they're going to market to me. After all, the price I paid for the seat barely covers the airport tax. So in between the ads for perfume and that infuriating grammatical gaffe about how 'the use of mobile phones... cannot be used' comes an announcement that cut-price tickets for the Stansted Express are available from stewards, but that the Stansted Express has today been replaced by a coach service. I buy a ticket anyway. How the fuck else am I going to get to London? Welcome to Britain!

The marketing is slick and constant, nothing works, and it's twice the price it would be back home. And there's some sort of druggy, boozy menace hanging over the streets at night. Blame the binge drinking sprees! Have a happy smashed British Christmas!

We stop at a filling station on the Shoreditch High Street to buy some food. A homeless man is sitting at the entrance. 'Spare some change, please? Spare some change?' A black man gets out of a BMW and comes over to reform him. 'Look at yourself, mate, you've got to stop using the stuff. Go to a gym, man, do a workout, get out of this state you're in, it's a fucking shame on you, man!' He's a winner, the junkie's a loser. Go to a gym, start a business, buy a BMW, join the winners. It's dog eat dog.


If the words:
'We are the Gay Men's Radical Singing Caucus!' the lead singer yelled in his exquisite tenor. 'Proud to be fighting for a People's Christmas!'

He and his comrades began to chant: 'We're here! We're choir! Get used to it!'

don't make you want to click here and read a China Mieville short story, then I feel remarkably sorry for you.