Saturday, 1 August 2009

Chapter 2: at the airport

It's been a while since I posted last time: time spent with my family, work and other things kept me away from this blog. Do not even start to think that with 2 posts I am finished with London. Far from it.

Anyway, we booked a flight from London to Milan so that my parents would have a chance to see our sweet little daughter before the big holidays. Obviously, when you bring a 5 months-old baby with you on a trip, your hand baggage must contain something more than the latest Cussler book and a pack of paper tissues. We brought her pram, some expressed milk in a bottle, dummies and toys (some of them contain a small amount of water to soothe her teething pains).

At the security gates:

  • Procedure in Italy (known): Security Staff: "Anything baby-related is allowed, please pass through the metal detector with the baby securely buckled in the pram, we don't care if the metal detector blips or not. Have a safe flight". Elapsed time: 1 minute.
  • Procedure in Greece (forecasted): see above.
  • Procedure in England (known): Useless, slow, unhelpful security staff scratching his ass: "Remove the baby from the pram, put the pram in the conveyor to be X-rayed, hold the baby with you and pass through the metal detector". If it blips, strip yourself and the baby naked and repeat. Taste the baby milk, you might have put arsenic or explosive in it. Scan all the baby toys and the hand bag with a ridiculous small detector. Confiscate the gum cream we use to soothe our baby's aching gums. Confiscate the small toy our daughter gnaws because of her teeth, as it contains 10 ml of water. As I try to protest, I get reprimanded by another idiotic security guard, who looks and act so stupidly it must be the security boss. Elapsed time: 20 minutes.

Now, do you want to know how many incidents/accidents due to unscanned liquids happened on flights departing from Italy or Greece? Zero, none, zilch.

In England, the security people must have learnt a single procedure for security checks at the airport and they are so stupidly square-minded that no exceptions are allowed, no possibility to say: "OK, you're bringing a small child with you, we will be sympathetic". As if I really wanted to blow up a plane with my wife and my little daughter flying on it. You idiots.

Luckily enough, the London experience is about to finish: the only place worse than London I can think of is the US. I hope my bosses will not take that country into consideration when my contract expires. For the rest, I'll leave the description of US' horrible flaws to Michael Moore.

Monday, 11 May 2009

Chapter 1: at the bus stop

05:45PM: "spring" has arrived in full power in London: 6-7 degrees, freezing gusts of wind coming from every possible direction, pouring rain, people miserably waiting at the bus stop for the f*****g 44 bus.

06:00PM: still no sign of the bus, but we notice an anonymous bus parking behind another one, in the spaces reserved to the "not in service" double-deckers. We can't see the bus number, but we are confident that it can't be a 44 (!)

06:10PM: still no sign of the bus, dozens of people are now crammed at the bus stop: wet, impatient, resigned, but still quiet, passive and submissive. Not a surprise. They're English. We see a constant stream of other empty or half empty buses (82, 8, 11, 211, 52, 2, and so on...) passing by. All of them, except the 44.

06:15PM: I start to wonder who actually planned the bus routes and times in London. Did they ever bother to make simulations before releasing the bus schedule? My impression is that they didn't even take the hassle of drawing a bus scheme on the back of a f*****g napkin.

06:20PM: I can't take it anymore, so I start walking towards the taxis in Victoria: I come close to the anonymous bus described before... and guess what? It's a 44! Its driver is happily talking with a friend/colleague, relaxed, laid-back and comfortable in his seat, while dozens of people have been waiting for 35 minutes under the implacable rain. At this point, my Italian blood takes the lead and I throw at him all the possible insults I know in English. He doesn't even reply, but he obediently starts the bus and pick us up at the bus stop.

Now I understand why, on every bus stop, a little signpost says: "Don't take it out on our staff: we press for the strongest penalty on assault". Not sure if an English could ever react as I did, but for sure Transport for London has had few problems in the past because of assaults to TFL staff. And, noting the way TFL staff behave, I am not surprised at all. YOU press for the strongest penalty on assault... what should WE, commuters, press for because of your ineptitude, uselessness  and incompetence? 

We are not travelling for free, public transport in London is almost the most expensive in the world. What about a little re-thinking of your glorious bus-schedules? What about at least make the bus drivers respect your flawed schedule? 

Friday, 8 May 2009

Startup :-D

After 3 point something years of life in the UK, I decided to start this simple blog to record my personal experiences in The Doomed City, namely London. 

Some of my earliest (bad) memories are already starting to fade, and I don't have the Harry Potter's magical Bucket of Thoughts (or whatever is its name), but I am sure that by digging long enough in my brain I'll be able to remember.

I know this blog will not change anything about the Her Majesty followers way of thinking: nor could Destiny, Chaos, God, Walhalla or Mr Chunky Chips. Their attitude has been ingrained for centuries. But I will use this blog to yell out my frustration. It might become interesting in the future for my children to read, and to all the london-fans, neobrits and England-cheerleaders who know nothing about living in London.