Slog on Tour: Back to Earth

Britain isn’t working

The Ryanair flight having landed, I thought the worst was over. But the nightmare was just pausing for breath (cue creepy music….)

I went to Bay 27 to take the courtesy bus to the Car Hire Village (it turned out to be the Hilton Hotel several miles offsite) but the bus didn’t pitch up for fifty minutes – they were supposed to be every 30 minutes – which I found slightly discourteous, and mentioned this to the driver.

“Name?” he asked, without acknowledging the question.

I got on the bus, which departed 20 minutes later.

The car hire ‘village’ turned out to be a small office in the bowels of the hotel. The bloke in front of me was abruptly informed that, as his card had been used to pay for the hire, he had to be the lead driver. “I don’t drive” he said. His wife had to pay all over again…and there was a surcharge.

Having had an enormous barney over the last car I hired in Britain eighteen months ago (I had my EU plastic driving licence but not the UK full counterpart) this time I brought the counterpart, only to be told I needed the EU plastic. Once again the call had to be made to the DVLA…..but this time the call cost £15 for two minutes.

So now the Government isn’t just into cuts: it’s into hidden taxes close to extortion. I was then informed that as I hadn’t ticked the usury masquerading as collision insurance, they wanted to have £1000 set aside from my credit card limit on an entitlement slip. Or else. This was, I was told ‘standard procedure’. Then I filled in all kinds of details they already had, and after that they made me a petrol ‘offer’ that ten seconds of mental arithmetic told me was a ripoff, so I declined. Then they gave me an exit ticket for the car park. It didn’t work. The car wasn’t one the one I’d ordered, and it wasn’t diesel. I was seriously thinking of going back to Ryanair for a respite break from this Southside Chicago racket.

In the hotel reception, I asked the concierge for use of their wifi in order to view my hosts’ instructions for arriving at their new abode. Of course, he said, but my laptop said the hotspot was too dangerous to let me anywhere near it. One used to be able to overrule this nonsense, but not any more.

Blind navigation wasn’t helped by the fact that on the M & A11s, all the lane surface guidance arrows had worn off, and never been replaced. All the signage everywhere was tatty and graffiti stains covered most of it. Everything looked old and ill-kempt; it reminded me of driving through Italy in early 2014.

The next morning I set off again. After three miles, a wall of traffic appeared. It took an hour to clear. We all speeded a further two miles, at which point another motionless wall lay ahead. After another forty minutes, I took the slip road to Ipswich and skirted round the East Anglian coast – not the normal route for going south to Kent, but the only solution to endless queues, piecemeal road works and hand-worked single-file traffic lights. The M25 was a forty-minute bumper-to-bumper queue of 35 mph traffic. The M20 was a little faster. South from there (avoiding the toilet that was once Maidstone) I spent forty more minutes threading through to Yalding around parked cars, rotting wooden signs, and manic cyclists.

The pub where I finally stopped wanted £4.50 for a half of bud and a packet of crisps. And the text I tried to send to my soninlaw took seven attempts to send successfully. He didn’t get it.

Five hours later I’m in another pub. Things can only get better, or perhaps worse. You see, in neolibritain, it’s all about choice.

56 thoughts on “Slog on Tour: Back to Earth

  1. Wonderful! Please keep the instalments going – with these accounts of Britain today plus the never-ending media muck throwing at Corbyn, it will be a pleasure each day to start up the computer.

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  2. I expect you’re wondering why you decided to leave

    This royal throne of kings, this sceptred isle,
    This earth of majesty, this seat of Mars,
    This other Eden, demi-paradise,
    This fortress built by Nature for herself
    Against infection and the hand of war,
    This happy breed of men, this little world,
    This precious stone set in the silver sea,

    But you’ll soon get it out of your system!

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  3. For the hoi polloi who have no alternative but travel by smaller airplanes from a runway that brooks no truck with the 747 or the jumbo, we are bound to to whatever Michael O’Leary offers. You should not scorn his offers of cheaper flights. He boasts extra legroom for those in need, he also sells lottery tickets with a chance of a million euro for the winning ticket.
    Oslo to Manchester for the Christmas period with 15kg baggage each and extra legroom without direct view of the toilet comes to less than 200 quid.
    They always land on time and they never lose your bags

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  4. Would it not have been quicker, cheaper and more relaxing to go by ferry? (e.g Cherbourg to Soton, kip down and pootle across to Kent the next morn?).
    You do have choices, and you told us you already knew Ryan Air were psychopaths with nothing other than contempt for their customers and a vast array of hidden surcharges, so why do you continue giving them your business?
    Well, apart from the obvious goldmine of blog material they provide :)

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  5. Comes down to the fact that our illustrious leaders spend all OUR hard earned cash on ridiculously expensive and unwanted (by the vast majority of taxpayers) instead of what we want and actually pay the damn taxes to provide…. at the same time lining the ‘right peoples’ pockets with gloriously overpriced and under planned ‘infrastructure projects’ which always need redoing after a short space of time and still are not fit for purpose…..

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  6. Isn’t that a little surprising given that most are heading for Sweden or Germany?

    It’s only in the British media that the refugees want to go to the UK.

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  7. As to the state of Britain, isn’t this the result of having an AAA rated economy that is reliant on the banks fluffing up the economic figures like a feather duvet – rather than having real businesses as a solid foundation?

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  8. The outpouring of love and peace here in DE may grind to a halt after a few months when the inhabitants of our Portakabins make a request which may tax the hosts’ generosity.

    A mosque.

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  9. ….Which serves it in the office of a wall
    Or as a moat defensive to a house,
    Against the envy of less happier lands,–
    This blessed plot, this earth, this realm, this England.

    Sorry, but it needs ending!

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  10. Or if going to Kent, East/West Sussex – LD Lines Dieppe – Newhaven. Cheapest crossing around, and although the ferry doesn’t amount to ‘Cruising to the Content’, and the menu isn’t vast, the food is good, big portions and very reasonable, Grub designed for truckers is my guesstimate (as one who has ‘trucked’ across the Channel). Also, the crossing only takes 4hrs. It’s what we do now instead of Le Havre – Portsmouth (Brittany Ferries far too expensive) when going to Sussex.

    But John is absolutely correct, driving in (particularly) England is a nightmare compared to driving in France.

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  11. Yes car hire is a nightmare and connecting your computer to the internet can be a nightmare. But I didn’t know that surcharges on car hire or phone bills went to the government, Since when?

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  12. DE
    In a word, no. The autoroute tolls, petrol, hassle and outrageous ferry cost of bringing the motor home over by ferry (which is LHD anyway) would outweigh the cost of flights and hotels with consummate ease.

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  13. Yes Gemma it is, but u are wrong that a UK desired destination for migrants is a media myth: it’s just we’ve become a lot stricter, & yet still they pour in. Most of them, I have to say, are better than what’s home-grown: and no dear, we don’t have our triple A any more.

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  14. This is better than Bill Bryson. Can’t wait for the next instalment – the overnight sleep, not and breakfast at Truffilies …..

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  15. Well, you describe one way of doing a colourful journey.
    Joining the dots, we wonder if a return flight to Gatwick, and a taxi for less than £200 all in , and same day, would be more comfortable for you? Evidently not…
    Apologies in advance for the suggestion .

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  16. I am devastated at the news that Britain’s lost it’s AAA, despite all the attempts of the banks to create the figures.

    As to migrants, wasn’t the number of migrants accepted by Germany in July rather more than Britain accepted in 2014? The entire year, that is. (Telegraph figures for Asylums: Germany 173,000 vs Britain 31,000 – both for 2014 [note 1] Guardian figures for Asylums: In 2014, just 25,870 people sought asylum in the UK, and only 10,050 were accepted. Germany (97275), France (68500), Sweden (39,905) and Italy (35,180) [note 2] )

    Sure, those figures are still large for a country like the UK; only Turkey has somewhere around 1,6 million… which leaves all of Europe rather in the shade. Including Greece.

    Note 1: source: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/europe/11822343/Mapped-Where-do-migrants-apply-for-asylum-in-Europe.html

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  17. I was wondering about SNCF myself, if they’re anything like Deutsche Bahn, they’ll have some cracking deals to London.

    Comfort, class and swift – but do reserve a seat for the London leg of the trip ;-)

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  18. Britain IS working….
    My wife says your a big ego bullsh*tter with a shrimp size penis.
    Sorry chapter, but every dog has it’s day.
    I’ll get my coat..LOL

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  19. Whilst pondering ants … a curious thought.

    An ant cannot evolve it stagnated a long time ago. You fulfill the function expected for the colony, fed for a time, then die.

    Humanity JW stagnates by elites enforcing old rules and preventing economic advancement that in the end we may as well be ants.Problem for them is we exceed our thoughts and recognise the artifical rules placed upon us. An ant can never exceed its concepts but constrained humans use IED’s to remove barriers to their thoughts.

    It is called know thy place.

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  20. “Most of them, I have to say, are better than what’s home-grown”: I hope you don’t mean to include the good hard-working young folk in that; which are the majority! My experience is that the home-grown are very dedicated and hardworking, it’s just there are no jobs to prove yourself in! Son with 1st Degree on short term contracts (In environ and Sustainability) and daughter with 1st in Maths and Biol being a 15£k House matron. If you don’t want to be in money these days there is no job progression, and the no experience/no qualifications thing is getting worse, forgetting the age thing!! £ talks, bottom line :(

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  21. Even though it runs the gauntlet of our modern sensibility..

    This nurse, this teeming womb of royal kings,
    Fear’d by their breed and famous by their birth,
    Renowned for their deeds as far from home, (etc.)

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  22. Hb. A friend of a friend used to run a Panther 120 sidecar in Vmcc racing (used to explode regularly). I assume yours is a rigid frame & hope your local roads aren’t too bumpy.!.?

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  23. Maybe “your wife” just has Extra Wide bits?

    When you’ve had 14 kids by the age of 23, it’s understandable that you may have let yourself go a bit and memories of “tight and narrow” is a canal barge you broke into near Yarmouth…

    Nice webcam, where did she Nick it???

    I know, I hate stereotypes too.

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  24. Here in the UK if you want to hire a car you now have to indirectly so far your National Insurance number,if you move house and decide it would be nice to vote in your new local government,you have to provide your National Insurance number.When are we going to wake up to this tracking and those aiding it.

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  25. JdeV & WAD Although Panthers were well known for sidecar work post war, the long stroke slow revving engine was not well suited to competition and the results were usually explosive.. They did have some solo success on the island during the late 1920’s, however, and even produced a TT model for a short while – now rare as hens’ teeth, of course. The 1931 Model 60 is indeed a gorgeous machine – rigid frame, girder forks and Sturmey 3 speed hand change, impossible not to love it. I also have a 1948 rigid with Dowty forks and a 1955 springer. You can only ride one at a time though I’ve found..

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  26. Who in the UK cares about any of that when ‘Britain’s Got Talent’ is back on the box and the ‘Ruby World Cup’ is about to start? The sheeple don’t care.

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  27. I have just lost 10 kg effortlessly. Three aspects did it. A boiled egg for breakfast to balance the Leptin hormone, mineral water in the evening instead of sugary drinks, and this every morning to loosen all the joints:

    It is a 3000 year old miracle.

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  28. Very generous of them and given the huge numbers now on their way to make a new life in Germany they will certainly need them.

    There is a great social experiment taking place here and I wonder for how long will the very placid and still guilt ridden (about WW2) German populace put up with this situation? What will be the final straw, failing living standards, rising taxes or totally changing society and demographics?

    So Germany and Frau Merkel how high can you go? Will you bid me another 100k?

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  29. Bergerac to Southampton, FlyBe not Ryanair.

    Don’t be too hard on Yalding. It is much better since my ex wife moved away a few months back.

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  30. MY, my, John – what we could really do with is you down in Calais telling all those poor deluded souls what a shit place this country is. That would stop them all in their tracks. I think the Cameroon should pay you a fat stipend to work there permanently. KIll two birds with one stone. You ever having to come back here and suffer all this crap AND. the migration crisis. Win, win.

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  31. I grew up in the south-east, but have lived in the Yorkshire Pennines since 1979. I have only been south of Sheffiled three or four times in the last 36 years and only then for family reasons. JW’s wonderful description of the decay, particularly in the over-burdened infrastructure, is why I have no desire to venture south ever again.

    ‘Oop North’ the quality of life, especially in the small towns and villages, is unsurpassed, with excellent Council services, wonderful healthcare and air which it is a pleasure to breath. We do have the odd blott on the landscape (Bradford comes to mind) but it does not feature on my visiting list.

    The problem for the South East, and also much of Southern England, is the sheer pressure of people. And to think there are those who consider immigration to be a good idea.

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