London and its environs have a fecundity of notices, promises, processes and bollocks that is all the more remarkable for being devoid of substance. No matter how fake the news gets, it will never be able to compete with counterfeit information.
The Moto services services sign said you’d have to be very keen on being squeaky-clean to join the workforce:
It was, as so often happens these days, protesting too much. Moto aren’t that passionate about lavatories, nor are they that keen on the honesty of their franchisees: the former were distinctly underclass, and the latter underhand. In WH Smith, I bought two books on a buy one get one half price offer, and the total came to £14.99. I think you’ve made a mistake, I said to the smiley girl at the till. Nooooo she said, the cheaper one is half price. I was assuming that, I countered, but 3 isn’t half of 8 is it?
I got a look in return that was beyond blank. It was from a time before paper, division and workings out in the cranium. After taking time to recover, she said, noooooo again, 10 + 4 is fo’een, innit. That’s right I agreed, but you charged me 15 and 9 + 4 is fir’een, innit.
“Hahahahahahahaha,” she replied with an edge of hysteria, “But the fing sez £14.99”. Unwilling to argue with The Fing, I gave her £15 and said keep the change.
The St Giles Hotel in Feltham has a restaurant serving “authentic Italian cuisine”, for example Fish, Chips & Peas, Spaghetti Bolognese and Lamb Curry. The rooms all have air-conditioning which can be adjusted from sub-Arctic to sub-Saharan at the flick of a switch; thus you can die of hypothermia and dyhydration in the same night. The car park ticket machine has been out of order for some time, as indeed has the receptionist who probably isn’t called Igor the Giant Dwarf, but ought to be.
But following a brief look around in Feltham, it was clear that the St Giles is the best thing to have happened to it since the Enclosure Act of 1802, when everyone in Feltham was enclosed there in order to save the rest of the world from meeting them. The name comes from Feld-Ham, which meant Home in Field in King Edgar’s time. It’s still just as exciting today. The shopping centre is called Feltham Centre, and the train station is called Feltham Station. I can honestly say that this was the only time in my life that I got over-excited by a sign saying ‘Hounslow’.
The sole thing going for Feltham is that it’s near to London, a by-product I would normally view as almost as unfortunate as being Feltham, but on this occasion was handy as there were several chums and a daughter I wanted to catch up with.
I drove into Hammersmith, where the Kings Mall car park was full. Eventually I found a metered spot where the card slot wasn’t working but I could pay by SMS. This sounded like a form of frustration carefully designed to maximise the diastolic bp reading, so instead I emptied half my life savings into the coin slot. A ticket came out that said it wasn’t a ticket, merely a receipt. Why it couldn’t be a ticket as well eludes me: perhaps it didn’t run to multi-tasking, but anyway I put it inside on the windscreen as if it was a ticket and walked over to the Tube station.
It has been decreed by the Forces of Lunacy that human beings shall no longer be allowed to sell tickets on the London Underground, but a charming staff member of Indo-Asian origin gave me a seminar on the Oyster machine and so the rest of my life savings went electronically onto the card.
Machines don’t go on strike, but unemployed people are not good for society. Equally, I’m not sure there’ll be enough staff come the Summer to give each of the 2.3 million tourists the hitchhiker’s guide lecture on the Oyster enigma; further, rampant hare-brained technology is on the verge of alienating the biggest baby boom in British history.
There is something about the neocon mind’s inability to GAF about consequences that suggests a major leakage of cerebro-spinal fluid. This has caused the frontal lobes to stop functioning – a tragic condition about which I know a thing or two. On the other hand, the less kind conclusion is that neocons were just born psychotic. The real danger going forward (as they say in the corporate space) is that they have now stumbled across tecchie software designers in the tertiary stages of Aspergers-fortified dementia.
The upside of this is that no technology-based system of dictatorship can ever succeed. In the meantime, pandemonium will soon be ubiquitous.
London is no longer my city. This is normal and inevitable, but no less sad for such an observation. That once upon a time straight line of faded gentility Hammersmith Grove is now replete with trendy eateries, niche retailers and enormous houses taken back to sole ownership by the rich. Fitzrovia has lost all its seedy charm in favour of shops with pretentiously silly names and overpriced resaurants. One of the notable exceptions to that general rule is Cote, and thankfully my chum took me there. But in the evening my daughter and I went to Pizza Express, which is still an excellent quality product served by well-trained staff. However, the price of two pizzas, two beers and a bottle of water – when inflated by couverts and auto-added optional service charges – was truly insane.
Eight years ago I predicted that London under Bojo would become a City State. It is very much that, although in terms of being a charmless cosmopolitan mix married to obscene wealth inequities, it is bang on course for Singapore….which was probably Boris’s model.
Boris is and always has been a great fan of the City, but like most people who’ve never set up, floated or run a business that’s publicly quoted, he doesn’t understand the pernicious effect bourses have on socio-economic values. A chum was giving me a classic example from his workplace yesterday. The company offers products on a monthly contract basis, and recently made a massive, high-profile commitment to hold every contract price for a year. But now the City’s annual results feeding-frenzy is due: Zirp and QE starved investors are looking for dividends and price growth through exceeded targets, and in his company’s case, the barrowboys have set him a loopy target. So now the company needs to renege on its price promise to make the numbers.
First, this adds to the growing sense of business being crooked; second, it damages the brand as a trusted asset; and most important of all, it encourages cheating in society as a whole “because everyone’s at it anyway”. Honesty, promises and manners are three vital pillars of a just society. Crime costs every taxpayer money. But the borrowboys don’t GAF about implications and consequences.
Globalism remains hopelessly overdependent on bourse finance, and bourse short-termism is both thoroughly anti-social and commercially suicidal. Where there should be investment for 90% of custmers and employees, there are only bonuses for the 3%. The LibLeft never talks about this stuff, because the LibLeft thinks a balance sheet is something to do with training acrobats.
At last yesterday, my second granddaughter arrived fit and well to face a world that will probably baffle her a lot less than it baffles me. Inside the hospital, every wall was covered in notices, and every notice was being ignored. There was, however, one notice suggesting that the NHS is quietly diversifying into the veterinary field:
Luckily for the new arrival, she won’t be brought up in London. From about 1976 until 1985, I owned London: I was a bubble-dwelling master of the Universe riding high on entrepreneurial endeavour, exploding advertising budgets and low taxes. A member of the communications élite. A man whose views were sought by journalists, and made the centrepoint of major new business presentations. I was full of zip, full of zap, and particularly full of myself.
Just in time – only just in time – I began hunting for the Plot, and realised I’d lost it. I was in limos, on aeroplanes, in meetings, and even on the telly. But I was miles off course, and ploughing through shallow mud in designer loafers.
Eventually, I wound up in the Priory.
That said, I think a lot of Londoners would give anything to return to the relative sanity of the capital city as it was in 1990. Today, online commercial coms are, as a rule, crude, badly produced, self-indulgent, invasive, dishonest, and in media apertures where the entire rate card is based on fictitious monitors of awareness and impact….with little or no reliable ad hoc research to assess their brand-building efficacy. Across all the professions, the quality of advice and client service has plummeted to a place fathoms below superficial, and the process bullshit quotient is such as to cover all but the tallest mountains.
There are pathways through environments and spaces between hubs that lead to outcomes which, in order to be reached, require deep-state critical path analyses of the windows and pit-stops directionalised in a maximal formation towards success.
Meanwhile, on the pavements outside, alienated middleweight executives talk into phones as they speed-walk to the next diary point, ignoring the former service, retail, unskilled ticket collection and petrol-pump staff shuffling along in crappy clothing and man-made fibre bobble-hats or hoodies. Few of the latter can get credit or afford personal technology, and three-quarters of the former maintain a balancing act each month involving maxed-out credit cards and debit overdrafts.
None of this obvious social-systemic dysunction is discussed in the meetings because there’s far too much other ground to cover, far too few executives to do a thorough job, and nowhere near enough hours in the day. It is also vital to be on the move all the time, and so a good 50% of those meetings will be “virtual” conference calls punctuated by connectivity issues caused by crap software they’d like to improve but the executives don’t have the time and the shareholders want their money.
In those rare moments when they get time off from 24/7 smartphone availability, wage-slaves struggle with overcrowded and overpriced transport, pay restaurant prices that would feed a State pensioner for a month, pay to park outside their homes, pay more council taxes for lower and lower service levels, and search in vain for a larger affordable property given that Sophie is expecting another baby, but the flat they’re in needs a new dampcourse.
Londoners are becoming more and more like overcrowded rodents with every year. The rudeness, impatience and aggression while driving truly have to be experienced to be grasped. An expensively dressed and coiffured woman (alone in huge 4-wheel drive Merc) yesterday wanted me to move forward at a crossroads and thus become stuck behind a removals lorry unloading furniture into a vast St John’s Wood mansion. Unless I did that for her greater gratification, you see, she couldn’t turn into where I was. So I, in my little Peugeot 207, reversed to within a millimetre of a parked car to let her get by me.
On passing my vehicle, she wound the window down and yelled, “You stupid f**king c**t”.
And talking of rodents, as we exited the hospital last night, I remarked to my younger daughter how 90+% of visitors still ignored all the hygiene rules – along with the dozens of notices about hand washing. As the words came out of my mouth, an enormous rat shot across the concourse and into a hole it had constructed in an external wall. It was a profoundly allegorical moment.