Friday, September 29, 2023

Peter Williams: Reflections

Random thoughts after a week away

London in the autumn is decidedly pleasant. Despite almost annual trips to the British capital from the late nineties till the onset of Covid, I don’t think I’ve been here in September since the 1999 Rugby World Cup.

It’s warm enough to not worry about a sweater or jacket during the day yet the leaves in the abundant green spaces haven’t started to turn.

We’re staying in the East End because that’s where my two cockney grandsons and their Kiwi parents live. There was a time this millennium when the neighbourhood was known as “murder mile.” But the 2012 Olympics gentrified the place and now a bulk standard terrace house with no off-street parking is worth a million quid.

London is still a hopeless place to drive a car in. Our airfare included a ride from Heathrow to Hackney. It’s 35 kilometres. It took nearly two hours.

We could have caught the Heathrow Express, changed to the Elizabeth Line at Paddington and the Overground at Stratford and saved at least 30 minutes.

Speed reduction ideology has gripped the London political and bureaucratic classes. Even when our driver had a clear hundred metres ahead after a green light, his limit was 20 miles per hour.

The Ultra-Low Emissions Zone (ULEZ) is now in force across all of Greater London inside the M25. There are CCTV cameras constantly watching you and if you drive a car that emits too much CO2 you have to pay fifteen pound each time you’re on the road.

Just how authorities have decided what constitutes a low emissions vehicle is bemusing. The grandsons’ parents 2006 Range Rover is exempt. It runs on petrol, quite a lot of it, but the climate change zealots at the Greater London Authority say it’s OK.

The footpaths of Hackney are scruffy. Weeds are everywhere. They sprout between the paving stones on the footpaths and out from the brick fences in front of the houses. The place needs a good squirt of Round-Up. But the locals are having none of that.

The process is called “re-wilding.” It’s apparently to attract the bees. It just looks a mess but saves many hours in council wages tidying the place up.

The boys, aged 10 and 7, go to a local state primary school. It takes them less than 10 minutes to walk there, a few minutes less if they’re scooting. They wear a uniform. The 10 year old, in his final year before starting secondary school, has to wear a blazer, white shirt and tie to signify he’s one of the big kids.

The school couldn’t be more racially diverse. The little pommie blonde boys of New Zealand descent mix it daily with the children of parents who are black, Asian, Indian sub-continental or full-face covered Muslim. It’s just the way it is in 21st century London and nobody bothers much about it.

The school principal, Mr Logan, has Rasta dreads, but always wears a suit and tie. As the boys enter the school grounds each morning another male teacher, in a suit and tie, greets them with hearty words of welcome. All the teachers are dressed tidily.

The contrast to a New Zealand primary school I was at only two weeks ago with its exclusively female staff, most of them scruffily attired in track pants and jeans, could not have been more marked.

The boys bring a homework sheet back most nights. The 7 year old has to write down what books he has read. He has a cousin the same age in Wellington who, according to her mother, never brings any reading home.

One of London’s great tourist attractions is still its live theatre. We chose “Tina” – the life story of Anna Mae Bullock, aka Tina Turner.

Tickets are not cheap – most are at least a hundred pounds – but the Aldwych Theatre was packed on a Tuesday night. Karis Anderson played the title role. She’s brilliant, although not black.

Now we have decamped to Spain. We will walk part of the Pilgrims Trail, El Camino Norte, from San Sebastian to Bilbao. I’m pretty sure there are easier ways to get to the Guggenheim.

Peter Williams was a writer and broadcaster for half a century. Now watching from the sidelines. Peter blogs regularly on Peter’s Substack - where this article was sourced.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Peter, firstly enjoy your holiday and family.

Secondly, you raise a very interesting point in your holiday journal observations.

It's something I've been saying for a while and is only my perception. NZ'ers have no pride or job respect. We were in oz recently and part of the airfare was we got a shuttle to our hotel. This young aussie chap turned up and was very organized, polite and respectful. You would have thought that there was no one else in the world who could do his job, and it was the most important job in the world. We enjoyed the trip to the hotel.

The problem is the hospital workers were like that, the rubbish men were like that, they all had pride.

Now back here.....over the last few years the pride has really been knocked out of us, unless you are an unemployed criminal of a certain ethnicity. There are people urinating in shop fronts, nobody cares, no one here really wants to work, those who have to work are angry, cant be bothered and receive abuse from the unemployed entitled who probably get paid a similar wage.

What a sad little country we have become. And it's only taken them a few short years to destroy nz.

Although we are down I don't believe we are out. Ridding this country of the far left cancer is the first step. That should be accomplished in a couple of weeks.