The following is an open letter to the UK government. It's based on Labour's ideas about
"Cool Britannia" and "New Britain." The UK's outstanding achievements are underlined to make them quick to locate. Numbers in superscript denote quick references to supporting stories for those who think I'm making this all up.
If you like this, some views on our chosen country of residence - America - can be found here - Supersize My TylAdvAllevenol please.
Come to Britain where our railways are the oldest in Europe, and the drivers regularly pass red signals1. Why? Well sometimes using a mobile phone is more important than watching for red lights87. Marvel at the chances of being killed in one of our two annual loss-of-life train crashes2. That is, if you can get a train in the first place....or if you can afford the journey. Our prices go up 25% each year, you know.3 We're proud to have the most expensive rail fares on the planet now. But the money is going to good use. We're not investing in safety equipment (TPWS or ATP - both would save lives, but they cost too much), nor training, nor hiring new staff. No - the money is instead going to line the pockets of greedy shareholders4 who seem not to understand that they all have blood on their hands. It's the usual news story: Train Crashes In XXXX. Government declares "This will never happen again". Government then says "It's far too expensive to save lives!". Train Crashes in XXXX. Government declares "This will never ....etc etc etc ad nauseum.
Despite having some of the highest paid rail workers in Europe, they're all under the delusion that they're underpaid, so they're regularly on strike.5 Those that aren't on strike can't be bothered to turn up for work a lot of the time so we have endless cancellations due to "lazy-assed driver at home watching TV". Honestly, the railways would run so much better if it wasn't for those blasted passengers!
Never mind. You could always enjoy a day out on the rest of our public transport system that is in terminal decay. You may not plan it to be a day out, but that's how long it will take you to get wherever it is you want to go. If the transport still serves that destination of course. We're modernising, streamlining, centralising and making the system cost efficient. (That means: we've closed your nearest station / bus depot).6
Fear for your life as you drive around our permanently clogged and polluted road system, in the country with the highest incidence of road rage in Europe.7 Whilst you're sitting in stationary traffic, marvelling at what a lousy road system we have, spare a passing thought for the £8 tax you're paying each time you enter London.8 Mayor Living$ton tells us this is a 'congestion tax', but once you cut through the spin, you understand it's just "screwing the motorist because we can" tax. With the £80-per-day fine for not paying, conservative estimates add £212,050,000 to London's budget per year via this scheme. Or more importantly, takes that much more away from the motorist in tax each year.
As you dodge the bridge-bombers who throw bricks and cement blocks off motorway bridges 89 & 90, you should make the most of it if you decide to take a drive into our beautiful countryside. Although it's not taxed yet, once the GPS-correlated car tracking system comes into use, you'll be taxed for every mile you drive because Big Brother will be tracking you.9 (Speaking of miles, we're proud to have signed the metrication act in 1884 yet we still don't use metric in the shops or on our roads). Once you've parked your car, chances are the local council will paint yellow lines under it and then fine you for parking in a no parking zone105. Either that or it will simply be stolen. (By the way - don't bother reporting that to the police - technically it's not a crime any more and they might suggest you try to steal it back rather than bother them again). Yes - Britain is proud to be the car crime capital of the world10, you know. Don't rest on your laurels if your car is safe in your driveway in the morning though - the growing trend in car-jacking11 will soon see you separated from your pride and joy, often with the added benefit of you ending up in hospital (or even dead) as a result. Still, no worry. You can buy another car and pay 35% more for it than any other country in Europe12, then you can fill it with British petrol and pay 450% tax on that (plus the extra 17.5% "value added" tax too). You can pay a tax simply to drive on the roads, and then courtesy of our new road tolling schemes, pay again to drive on the roads. That's right - in England we're proud to force you to pay twice to use a single piece of road. (m6toll.co.uk) Once you're a paid-up motorist, sit back and relax whilst contributing to the £38bn the government siphons out of motorists in various taxes every year13. A little math will tell you that in a country with a population of 65 million, the government is making £615 per year per person (young or old, baby or pensioner) purely in motoring taxation. Divide that down into the number of people who actually own cars (around 25 million I suppose) and you're taxed a staggering £1600 per year just to own a car. If you manage to keep your car, ensure you have a big bank account as you are likely to get caught on one of our 8,800 (and growing)
revenue earners speed cameras. (621,400 miles of road means one camera every 70 miles). The charge is £65 per ticket plus another £15 in tax14. Yes that's right - we tax our traffic violations. And you don't even need to be speeding any more. Cameras can be used to convict you now for expressing your opinion in public. True - flashing a defiant gesture to an inanimate object whilst doing 18mph below the speed limit will get you a one-year ban and a criminal record now in our police state.104 Don't think it's just the police that can catch you either. We've empowered our traffic wardens with the ability to cite you for traffic offences too!80. If you don't have the money to pay though, just make up an excuse, but be aware that this only works if you're a famous person or if you're a serving politician. Speaking of traffic offences, due to a quirk in our traffic law, you can go to jail for driving into a tree, but only be fined £2500 for mowing someone down and killing them93. Life is cheap in England but trees are dear. Our government are so in touch with transport policy that they've decided to tax bigger motorcycle engines now too15, claiming that bigger motorbike engines cause congestion and pollution. No - I can't figure that one out either...
Visit London's Heathrow or Gatwick Shopping Malls16. And if you happen to be there, why not catch a flight to somewhere (they used to be airports). Then you can fly our friendly skies, but make sure your life insurance is paid up because we've privatised air traffic control. (Fares will go up, planes will come crashing down). Not months after Swanwick opened, we have our first contender for the "Jam more aircraft closer together for the shareholder benefits" award17. But be quick on the life insurance thing too - if you delay too long, mandatory genetic18 testing will preclude you from any life insurance at all. If you're going to travel though, make sure you leave your valuables at home. If you don't, our well-screened and courteous staff will use the X-ray machine to decide what they're going to steal from your luggage.97 & 98
Come and eat our BSE-infected beef19. That is if there are any beef cattle left - we centralised all our slaughterhouses you know, and for some reason, a foot-and-mouth outbreak spread across the country like wildfire20. How odd. Alternatively you could enjoy our national dish of Indian curry or catch food poisoning from one of our many unlicensed, illegal-immigrant fast-food street vendors in London21.
Speaking of illegal immigrants, if you choose to move to England, make sure you don't tell the government. If you do, you'll end up paying that irksome income tax thing. Instead, why not join the other 1400 or so new illegal immigrants a month22 that flood into our country? You'll be well looked after - the honest taxpayers will be paying for your benefits despite the fact that you're working and not paying any tax yourself. And if you can put on a convincing enough accent, you'll probably get free housing too. If anyone takes offence to your freeloading tactics, just make sure you pull the race card, and that will sort them out. You'll probably be compensated for the inconvenience of being a freeloader too. England is officially the planet's softest touch at letting asylum-seekers in23. A 2002 MORI survey discovered we let in more than twice the number of asylum-seekers than the USA, yet we have one-tenth the population. Now don't get me wrong - I don't mind if they come and pay taxes, hold down an honest job and contribute something in return. But the freeloaders just come into the country, claim benefits, force our taxes up and then complain that their kids aren't being taught in Sikh at the British schools!
See the quaint British children playing in the streets, with knives, and drug needles. Watch as they stab each other to death or abduct even smaller children then torture them and throw them onto rail lines24. If you have children of your own, make sure you keep them indoors though. The government don't think you have a right to know if a raging paedophile lives next door to you - apparently it's not in your interest to know if your child is safe25. But how safe can you be? If you try to vaccinate your child as every parent should, the UK MMR vaccine has a 1 in 100 chance of making your child autistic26. You could ask for the vaccines separately, but that would be silly and indicate that you clearly don't know what you're talking about. And because you don't know what you're talking about, the government obviously won't entertain the idea of giving you the choice. Tony Blair certainly obviously gave his kids the MMR vaccine27 - otherwise why would he be refusing to tell us whether he did or not. Hyppocrite! Never mind - you can at least rely on your kids getting a good education. I mean where else can you send your child to schools that are closed for one day a week? We all understand that underpaid teachers in classes of 40 or more are the key to a fine education system.28 Bless their little socks though, because according to new government guidelines, you can no longer tell a pupil that they failed something. The "F" (for failed) grade is being phased out in favour of the "N" (for nearly) grade. Questions can no longer be answered wrong - they can simply not be creditworthy.29 The government understands that pupils need encouragment, and that the best way to do that is to never ever allow them to be wrong about anything. "What year did the second world war end?" "1944?" "Ooooooh. (n)early!".
And at the top end of that education system, our government has devised a superb method of launching our country's new talent into the working world with staggering debts courtesy of the university grant system.30 It's clearly the most responsible method of setting people on their career path, by introducing them to crippling debt before they've even got a job. Much better than using the taxpayer's money to pay for education thus ensuring our country's future.
Observe our continuing arrogance and general descent into a nation of uneducated retards: 10% of Britons were proud to vote for Luviana to enter the EU91 - a non-existant country added to a ballot just for fun.
Wander idly around our city centres, where crime is up between 14% and 20% year on year,31 & 32 & 84 where you'll likely be mugged for your mobile phone33 & 34 (700,000 thefts a year and climbing) or watch. Despite appearing on one of our myriad of CCTV cameras (see below), the mugger will no doubt get away with it, and sue you for the inconvenience of having to mug you in the first place. You should feel safe that a 2003 Gallup survey found that:
- One in three British adults has been hit by crime in the past 12 months.
- Half of victims did not bother telling police because they knew it would be a waste of time.
- Of those who did report crimes, a 20% claimed the police failed even to respond.
- The number of criminals who were caught and punished was a paltry 13 per cent.
- Crime is rising by nearly 10% more than government figures admit. 17 million people suffered a crime last year.
- The most common offences are vandalism, thefts from cars, house burglaries and fraud.
Be on the lookout for kids with cameraphones as you walk about. You could get attacked and beaten so they can film your agony on their cellphones and show it to their mates "just for fun".102. That's if you're not knifed to death first. England is proud to have the highest knife-crime statistics of any westernised country. The government is going to tackle this and other antisocial youth behaviour with bribery though103, so that's OK. They'll pay the same kids £12 a month just to be good - because apparently parents are incapable of instilling good behaviour and manners into their children now. So presuming you manage to avoid these idiots, you should be wary of suspicious packages in town. Through years of indifference by the government, the IRA have free reign to plant bombs in dustbins in major shopping areas. They're also pretty nifty at bombing military bases by disguising their weapons as household objects like torches.35 & 36 And they're a dab hand at stuffing trucks full of chemical fertiliser explosive and destroying office blocks too.37 Fortunately they're funded by the Americans38 who despite September 11th still don't know what terrorism is, so there's no danger of the money drying up. Speaking of the Americans, feel nervous as you trot around London - a city with 900,000 crimes per year more than New York, but 14,000 less police officers to deal with it.39 Seems at least the Americans know a thing or two about making crime levels go down, rather than up. After all here in Blighty, even with all the CCTV and surveillance, and even if you catch the criminals in the act, the CPS and the police won't prosecute because they just can't be bothered any more.99 Still, more crime means another outlet for taxing people I suppose. Soon I suspect you will have to pay a 'crime tax' to call the police.
Speaking of dustbins, you must ensure you never use one. As you play dodge-the-doggie-do, you ought to notice just how much trash there is blowing around the city streets in England.40 We do have street sweepers, but they're all underpaid and undermotivated, and tend not to go out when it's too wet or too hot. We all enjoy dropping litter within feet of a dustbin but not actually putting it in. That way, we can ensure that all manner of nastiness is blowing around when the wind gets up - sand, dried faeces, papers, leaves and wrappers. That is, if they're not stuck to the pavement with one of the billions of globs of freshly spat-out chewing gum.....
Speaking of all things dirty, we're proud of our "clean" and "healthy" industries in England. For example, Cleaning Service Group, who had a fire which led to the release of phosgene gas (used as a weapon during the first world war) in Sandhurst. Or Eurocare, who drive unrefrigerated trucks full of body parts dripping blood and keep clinical waste for months without disposing of it. Or Deery Construction, holding 160,000m3 of toxic waste in a suburban neighbourhood. Yes, we're proud to call these industries British.95
Don't value your privacy too much in England, as you're likely to be filmed 200 times today. We're the most-surveilled population in the world.41 Current stats show that between 35% and 40% of the entire planet's CCTV systems (4.2 million at the last count) are in Britain meaning there's one CCTV camera for every 15 citizens, Mr. Orwell. If your kids are judged to be doing sufficiently badly at school, you will live in a house equipped with CCTV to ensure they do their homework and go to bed on time, as well as eat properly.108 Oh, and you'll get government security guards to force this on you if you fail to comply. And with advances in technology like the Mandrake/FaceIT facial recognition system (capable of recognising 1100 faces a second from live CCTV feeds)42, the government and police can now track you by name, wherever you go, without you even knowing it. It's all in vain though - less than 3% of crimes are solved with CCTV cameras, and they do nothing to cut the actual crime rate. Don't think that speaking on your mobile phone ensure privacy either. Widespread cellular network monitoring, recording and surveillance systems ensure every word you speak is recorded for later analysis. Just like the Echelon system based at Menwith Hill that monitors all your email and regular land-line phone conversations and faxes.43 (Thank you Mrs. Thatcher).
Think you'll be safe in your own car? Not really. Thanks to a network of traffic-monitoring cameras called Trafficmaster44, your numberplate will be read every time you pass one of their cameras. Should anyone want to know where your car is, they can query a database which in turn can determine which Trafficmaster camera you last drove past, and when.
Speaking of Orwell, the government is now suggesting psychological screening for its citizens so that you can be safely put in jail long before you've even committed a crime, because some stuffed shirt with a computer told the home office that your psychological profile might mean you're going to murder someone in 10 years time. Better to have you off the streets now rather than wait for you to commit the actual crime and then go through that bothersome trial and justice thing.
Buy a house using our fantastic new "Home-buyers packs"45. This little marvel is being introduced to make the sale of property easier. Rather than you, the buyer having to go through that irksome procedure of having a survey done, you can rely on the honest seller to have it prepared for you. After all, there's no conflict of interest between someone wanting to sell a house, and getting a survey done that paints the same house in a gleaming light. That would be daft and unrealistic.
If you're a first-time-buyer, our house prices are so staggeringly high now that you'll be lucky to get away with much less than a 35 or 50 year mortgage.46. Once you've bought your house and signed your life away, there's not much point in insuring it now. Insurance companies will find any method to not pay you. Such as flooding caused by the wrong type of water94, or fire damage caused by the wrong type of fire.
Be careful when you put your trash out though. In England we only collect trash every other week, and if you put your bin out too late, too early, on the wrong day, in the wrong place or leave it out with the lid not completely closed, you'll be fined £100106 - more than the fine for burglary. You'll get the same fine for putting a glass jar in the recycling bin with the label still on, or worse, putting glass in the regular bin by mistake. This is all possible because we've RFID-tagged all the bins107 so the councils can spy on your waste habits.
Should you have the misfortune to find burglars in your newly acquired house, don't defend yourself. If you do, you'll end up in jail. That's the advice of the police now.100 Farmer Tony Martin found this out the hard way.47 After being burgled repeatedly by the same youths, he shot one of them in self defence when he discovered them in his house once again. He was jailed for his trouble. In the opening months of 2003, he was also sued by the surviving burglar for loss-of-income.48
And for heaven's sake don't own a licensed gun. If you do, you'll be held responsible for every gun crime in the country. Think for a moment how our wise government banned all licensed firearms to prevent another school shooting, and then seemed to miss the irony of gun crime rising twofold year-on-year after the ban came into effect.49 Surely that couldn't mean that it's black-market guns and criminals that are causing these problems?
And whatever you do, if you don't have a gun, for the love of God don't defend yourself with a breadknife! After Barry-Lee Hastings stabbed a career burglar to death when he found him in his house, our fabulous justice system voted on the side of the burglar's family, and jailed Mr Hastings for 5 years.50 Let me say that again: 5 years - for defending his own family and property against a career burglar.
And what about those burglars? How come the police didn't find them? Don't be silly - that would imply the police were well paid and on the beat. As everyone knows, centralised, demoralised, underpaid police in cars are a far better solution to crime on the streets than beat bobbys. Apart from that, they're all so busy persecuting motorists for speeding that you can't expect them to spend any time looking for real criminals. Not at the moment anyway. In a year's time though when privatised police forces come into existence51, you can pay to have your neighbourhood policed. (O.C.P anyone?) If you like the idea of shares, you might even be able to buy shares in the local security forces thus ensuring that you get better coverage than the rest of us who naively expect policing to be paid for out of our taxes. How daft we all are. Mind you, given that Lord Chief Justice Woolf just changed the rules and burglary is no longer a jailable offence in England52, you won't need the police anyway.
And what about those offences that do end up sending people to jail? Well - it's probably the single best place to be in the country. I mean where else can you get free accommodation, three square meals a day, TV, DVD and PS2 in your room with a decent film and book library at you're disposal, full gym and sports facilities and you're friends/family can arrange to visit you whenever they like? Hell, you can even get a degree all paid for by the hard working taxpayer. Given those facts it's hardly surprising that so many kids turn to crime so early on. Why bother trying to hold down a lousy underpaid job whilst trying to study and getting into outrageous debt from student loans? It's so much easier to get convicted for manslaughter, serve your 5 years and come out of it with a degree after being pampered at Her Majesty's convenience. And if you accidentally kill the person whilst pursuing you're manslaughter charge? No biggie. Stay another 5 years and complete your masters and PHD whilst you're at it. Yes - in England our jails are not so much a punishment as a reward for bad behaviour.
Whilst you're mulling over the underfunded police, marvel at how the government has managed it's money so well that in order to send our troops to Afghanistan in late 2001, the troops were kitted out with non-working guns, and told to buy their own kit from - wait for it - army surplus stores.53 Yes - we're proud to be a nation with a fully underfunded army too. It's the British way to fight a war, don't you know. Not enough flak jackets, and limited chemical suits - that's the way to fight Arabs with guns and (allegedly) chemical weapons.85 Ah yes - and whilst we're on about war, remember that 75% of our air force hardware is out of use because of lack of funding to maintain it. And when we do spend money, we waste £259 million buying helicopters that can't fly in anything other than perfect clear-air weather88
Speaking of 'out of use', you ought to note (with a smile on your lips) how The Phoenix (the army's remote drone aircraft which it uses for artillery spotting and such), has such an abysmal record that they've started calling it the 'Bugger Off' because of its tendency never to come back.54 The dismal failure of this Best-of-British-built drone during the war in Iraq has led the Ministry of Defence to reconsider its plans for a futuristic fleet of unmanned aircraft. We lost 23 of its Phoenix surveillance planes, which each cost about £1.5m. The taxpayers will be paying for that, then.
Go shopping and delight at being served by teenage staff with no motivation and no training. The customer service is invariably so good that you'll be invited to watch the assistants picking their noses/spots whilst they ignore you in favour of discussing Sharon's latest sexual escapade with Kevin. If you do manage to get their attention, ensure you have no fixed idea of what it is you want, because they won't have it in the size/shape/colour/specification you want anyway.55 You could shop around for the best price, but long-established retail cartels will ensure that everything is exactly the same over-inflated price wherever you go.
Take the kids to an amusement park or a fair where they can stare in disbelief as ride after ride is closed down due to not meeting current safety standards. It matters not that the same rides have operated for decades without any accidents101. No. Parliament has spoken - nobody is to have fun any more. Having fun is too dangerousand we must be protected from ourselves.
In your senior years, you can rest in the comfort that more people die of the cold in Britain in the winter than any other country on the planet, including Siberia56 & 57. Perversely, when the temperature nudges over 35°C, people start dying of heat stroke but I digress. "Fuel poverty" is what the government calls it. It's down to that magical word - "Privatisation" again. Fuel costs have soared, services have been cut. There's energy companies all over the place pulling the wool over everyone's eyes to keep the prices up.58 People can't afford to heat their homes or even insulate them now. Mind you, despite being dragged kicking and screaming into the 21st Century, Britain is proud to have a system of water, gas and electricity delivery systems that are so modern that they will stop working at the merest sign of cold weather. Pipes will burst, gas mains rupture and electricity cables come tumbling down. Unless its windy, then we have to close our wind farms86. Wrong kind of wind I expect - after all, our showcase windfarm, our energy of the future can't really cope with all the wind. But apparently it's your fault for using the damned utilities. If they didn't need to deliver this pesky service to your house, there wouldn't be anything to break.
But if you do fall ill, don't worry about coming into one of our hospitals. On the way, the ambulance crew will likely make you pay for their petrol92. If the hostpital has not been closed down59, the doctors will only have been on duty for 28 hours with no sleep60, and the nurses will attend your every need on their ultra-low salaries61 & 62. Once you've joined the line of drunks and been admitted, there's a pleasing 1 in 4000 chance you'll actually never leave, after contracted a superbug from our hospitals and dying.63 Speaking of drunks, over 40% of our accident & emergency admissions at hospital are alcohol-related81. We're a nation of binge drinkers82 with 1 pub for every 30 people in London83.
Oh - one more thing - if you're planning to die, try not to leave anything to your loved ones - the government will dip in and take 40%64 of it if you do. I think they call it "screwing the dead" tax. (after all - the dead can't complain).
Speaking of the "P" word, Britain is proud to have led the world with it's standard privatisation schemes, which you can see represented on the graph below. If you actually think "competition drives prices down", then you're a fool who believes everything the government propaganda tells you. Try to prove me wrong - find one set of utility bills that have come down in price over the last 10 years. I absolutely guarantee you won't be able to, for one simple reason : privatisation forces prices up, and services down. If you're a shareholder in one of these companies, then we can rightfully lay the blame squarely in your lap. One person does make a difference; you - yes you - are to blame for the escalating cost of living and plummeting desirability of Britain. So don't go shooting your mouth off about how high all your bills are - you're to blame for them.
Enjoy our fine art galleries which contain such wonderful pieces as cows and sheep cut in half65, and beds covered in faeces and vomit66. But don't try to use the "Blade Of Light" pedestrian footbridge across the Thames to get to the Tate Modern - it can't handle pedestrians67. And what about some of the rest of our architectural prowess? The "British" Millenium Wheel, manufactured in Switzerland, Czechoslovakia, France and Italy, then assembled by Germans with assistance from the Dutch. The tunnel under our major airport that collapsed because nobody thought to shore it up.68 The high-speed rail link to the channel tunnel that is still in review even though it's 10 years late. The Millenium Dome - need I say more?
Spare a passing thought for our fantastic heritage in the fine art of shipbuilding. Mourn briefly as you consider how it's been so underfunded for so long69 that even our own shipping companies are now owned by the Americans (Carnival owns Cunard70), ordering their ships from Germany. Speaking of manufacturing, you ought to spend a few moments pondering how we managed to so efficiently sell off our motoring heritage too. The few remnants that are left (Ford in Dagenham, and Vauxhall in Luton) are currently being seen off by the government, so don't worry too much about that discrepancy.
At the end of the day though, you can settle back into your leather sofa (if the company you bought it from didn't go bust for the third time and run off with your money, again71), and watch a little television. You can enjoy the delights of paying the government a tax for decoding radio waves72, and then watch an evening's entertainment filled with political debate, guns, murder, death and violence. After the news though, you can watch political debate, guns, murder, death and violence. Or sport. You could tune into sport (or 'football' as we call it, because we don't televise any other sports). Witness as our footballers set examples to their fans by beating people unconscious in drunken brawls after matches, then getting away with it by not being sent to jail for aggrevated assault. (Lee Bowyer, Jonathan Woodgate - take a bow73). After all - they're celebs - we couldn't possibly be seen to be applying the normal rules of justice to celebrities now, could we?
Had enough of the TV? You could pop on a CD or DVD that cost you 50% more than it would anywhere else in the world, because you have the priveledge of living on Treasure Island75. If you get bored, you might spend a little time surfing the 'net for entertainment. Our phone rates are very reasonable and your quarterly phone bill will only be about twice as much as most other countries in Europe. Your 'free' internet connection will not cost much either, only an extra £15 a month. Newspapers cost more, as does bread and milk. And electricity. And water, gas and sewerage. And cars and petrol. And food, ("fast" or otherwise), electronics, consumables, clothes.........And banks. Yes, we here in Britain are proud to have the most profitable banks in the world, because they rape the consumer for hidden charges, fees, taxes and levies. And because of our 17.5% sales tax, and various government incentives to kill off trade and industry, it will likely cost you twice as much to visit England for a week as it will almost any other country. Well - it should. The Government is spending £12,000 of taxpayers' money every second (slightly more than what BT earns a minute). God alone knows where any of it is going though.
Here's a nice little site with info on just how we're being stiffed: Rip Off Britain.
|Average Family car in UK - £12,000||Average Family car in Holland - £9,000|
|Filling an average family car with petrol in the UK - £50 ($80)||Filling the same car with petrol in the USA - £15.07 ($24.11)|
|Pack of 20 cigarettes in the UK - £4.20||Pack of 20 cigarettes in Spain - £1.60|
|Pint of beer in pub in UK - £1.90||Pint of beer in pub in spain - £0.80p|
|Six pack of beer in UK - £4.20||Six pack of beer in Germany - £2.40|
|TV licence in UK - £104||TV licence in USA and Europe - $0|
|30 minute local phone call in UK - £0.40p||30 minute local phone call in USA - $0|
|New-release DVD in UK - £24.99||New-release DVD in the USA $19.99 - £$12.50|
'This is all very well', I hear you say, 'but what about the government itself?'. Well.
Vice President Prime Minister Tony Blair is so busy trying to be an ambassador to the rest of the world that he has no time any more to deal with his own country. The second-in-command, John Prescott is prone to punching anyone who doesn't agree with him76 (see right), then having them arrested for attacking his fist with their face. (And no, no charges were brought against Prescott despite his assault being televised live to the nation, he got away with it). Gordon Brown, chancellor of the exchequer is so busy trying to pay off the gross national debt that he's taxing77 the country to death (literally) and hasn't noticed. Make of this corrupt little lot what you will.
The problem with Blair is that he's a spineless sack of manure. I happen to think El Busho is wrong in most of what he says, but at least I respect his ability to stand up and speak his mind, to lead his nation in what he considers to be the right way (even though it's clearly wrong). Blair on the other hand, stands up and says "I defer to George" and has never expressed an opinion one way or another. Christ, if I could bring the country to it's knees with an internet-run fuel protest in 2000 (yes, that was me) and Blair couldn't stop it, what hope is there of him running the country?
UK OK? This is the message that we're trying to send out now though. We're so ashamed of our own country that we've decided to rebrand78 it (again) with a flashy multi-million pound (taxpayers money, of course) campaign to lure tourists to our little
hellhole country. UK OK? I think my take on the new logo is more appropriate. I mean really - why would we want to use something with our national identity on it? A flag, for example - that would help people to recognise the slogan. But UKOK? It's like FDNY or DKNY or better still FCUK, the French Connection store logo. Not at all confusing......Similar in fact to the flop that was the British Airways rebranding some years ago. Remember that? BA decided to remove all identity of the UK from it's aircraft, instead replacing their logo with 'ethincally correct' patterns from around the world.79 Hell - if our national airline can't even remember the identity of the country it's supposed to be serving, what chance do the tourists have of recognising us?
Never mind. If all this has got you down, at least you should be able to find something to smile about, somewhere in your life. Well. Actually, not any more. With immediate effect on 5th August 2004, no-one can be shown smiling in their passport photograph any more96. All passports issued from then on must show the bearer "looking straight at the camera, with a neutral expression, with their mouth closed". The Home Office said the move was essential to fight fraud and keep terrorists out of the country.
So welcome to Britain. We're miserable. The country sucks. We're taxed to death. Nothing works. People are nasty and rude, and smiling has been outlawed by the home office.
Yes, come to "New Britain", or "OK Britain", or whatever the current fad is.....
Image from www.danheller.com
"So if you hate the place so much, why don't you leave?"
is something I get asked a lot. Well, as it happens I have. I've moved to America. Sure, the USA has it's problems like every other country in the world, but believe me, despite the President, it's a much much better place to be......
Still glad I'm an ex-pat after days and counting....
I came back to the UK for Christmas in 2001 for two weeks. During that time, I experienced the following things which I've not encountered since living in America, in no particular order:
- Rude, arrogant people on the street, who were pushy and wouldn't so much as give me the time of day.
- Litter everywhere, and I mean everywhere. I couldn't believe how much litter there is having been away for a while.
- 5 drivers nearly killing me on 5 separate occasions - 4 times whilst I was driving, and once whilst I was walking on the pavement. The 4 times whilst driving ranged from the centre-lane missile on the M62 [who shot down the on-ramp and avoided hitting me in the 2nd lane by inches because he didn't bother to look], to the chap in the blue rep-mobile in Cambridge who straight-lined a roundabout and forced me onto the pavement, to the green rep-mobile in Dorking who decided to take my exit on the roundabout from the right lane, whilst I was already exitting. [Hertz will no doubt be billing me for the damage caused as he ripped of the wing mirror, and then drove off - the police were, naturally, not interested.]
- Hideously overpriced goods in the shops - I'd forgotton how freakin' expensive everything is.
- Criminally expensive airport parking - £7-an-hour at Gatwick!!!!! I can park all day at the airport for £5 here in Salt Lake City!
- Rude, obnoxious shop staff who didn't know their products, gave the wrong change (and then blamed me for their mistake!), and basically ignored me and most of the other customers.
- Inconsiderate women with baby buggies all over the pavements, who would stop for no reason, blocking the path and then get ticked off when people walked into them.
- Unhelpful telephone "service" personnel - yes, American Airlines call centre in Ireland - next time you might want to tell me that the ticket office at Gatwick closes at 13:30 then I wouldn't have to travel there twice !!!
- And top marks go to the over-zealous police officer on the A14 who stopped me for (wait for it) a missing hubcap. Turns out he'd been trying to do me for speeding, but realised at the last minute that I wasn't and needed a cock-and-bull story to save his pathetic face. Well if the government would use some of the £5billion they raise a year in tax to actually fix the damn roads instead of paying off corrupt dictatorships and lining their own pockets, then that might not have been an issue......I've no doubt Hertz will bill me for that too. I wonder if I can file a claim against UK P.L.C....?
Fortunately I didn't experience the nastiness that is the railways this time around. I tried, but the train was cancelled, and the next one due an hour later was delayed by 40 minutes so I gave up and rented a car instead...........it would have been cheaper too had it not been for the f*ckwit in Dorking.
One last thing - most of the traits I noticed above were not in the "arrogant, rude, South" of the country, but in the supposedly gentle and kind North. So you can stop your internal mental north vs. south debate right there....
For my sins, I came back to the UK for Christmas in 2002 too, for two weeks. Good God almighty. The impossible has happened - the UK has actually deteriorated even more! I couldn't believe it when I got the final bill for my rental car at the end of my stay. A whopping £535 for 10 days car hire. It wasn't even anything special - just a middle-of-the-road Toyota. Jesus - it only cost me £295 to hire a Ford Mustang for two weeks last spring here in America!
Vice President Blair basically told us all that there was no point in living any more; in his New Years speech he was downbeat and forecast nothing but doom for the future. He and Ken Livingstone managed to cancel New Years Eve in London too - joyless gits! As impossible as it seems to believe, the already-spineless Blair is completing his transition to a useless blob of jelly quite nicely. Nobody believes anything he or his government says any more (did they ever?). Taxes are at an all-time high, as is the crime rate, illegal immigrant problem, transport chaos and jobless figures.
Crime is so bad people are actually being mugged and murdered for their cellphones now.
April 2003. Back again, for a brief visit on company business. Arrived on a sunday to remember that you can't do anything on a sunday in the UK. All moving walkways at Gatwick out of service (never seen any of them working though - why would this time be any different). Bought a ticket to London from Gatwick, missed the Gatwick Express (wasn't running - water on the line or something) so had to use one of the old wooden slam-door coffins-on-wheels instead. Dirty, chewing-gummed seats, dirty floors, dirty walls, dirty windows that didn't work, heating stuck on full, smell of hot vomit throughout the "train". Ticket inspector came around; "that's a ticket for the Gatwick Express. You can't use that on Connex." After a brief argument where I pointed out that they all ended up at the same place, I was forced to cough up for a second ticket. Bastard fucking rail system. Got to Victoria - cash machines all dead. Amex office closed for the day (apparently, nobody ever travels on a sunday). Bureau de change would cash Amex travellers cheques, but not give me cash on the my Amex card. Public phones that require 20p even to call free numbers. Jesus! I had to beg for change just to use the fucking phone!
Spent the week in London. Eurgh. The tubes are worse than ever - dirty, horrible, stinky shit-holes that never run on time. Docklands light railway? Bearable I suppose apart from the hideous cost. Assaulted four times on the street by "beggars" demanding money "or else". The ExCel "exhibition" centre that closed all its concession stands at 15:00 (because obviously nobody is hungry after 15:00). Mind you - they ran out of food at 13:00 so it's hardly surprising they had to close. Couldn't wait for the week to be over to get back home. Wasn't that easy though. UK ticket agent in Gatwick couldn't issue a boarding card - told me to go and stand in line for a new ticket. Ticket desk told me the ticket was fine and to go back to the checkin desk. Rinse and repeat. After the third time (with no apologies, of course), I got a boarding card. Now 45 minutes late, I head for security where they have (wait for it) three security lines open at the peak of the morning rush, one of which has someone being trained on it. Another 45 minutes later, ran to the gate and got on board. Air traffic control delays and an unspecified "problem" meant another hour's delay. Apparently they can't deal with these "aircraft" things at the Gatwick shopping mall any more. 3 minutes later, climbed into the dreary-as-shit clouds and popped out into sunshine. First sun I'd seen for a week.
June 2003 : it's official. London is the most expensive city on the planet. Read the NY Post article on it here. Yes, Britain is living up to its nickname - Treasure Island. Come to Britain and get ripped off for everything you buy, everywhere. August 2003 : Another first! Hooray. We now have the highest incedence of road rage attacks in Europe! Makes you pride to be a Brit' doesn't it?
October 2003 : back again for another visit - 5 days this time, and things weren't quite so bad. A mere 12 drivers jumped red lights, didn't stop or failed to give way on roundabouts this time. Good job the rental car had good brakes. I forgot that on roundabouts, the person waiting to get on has right of way if their car is bigger than yours or if they're on a cellphone. Speaking of rental cars, the chap at the Hertz desk was completely useless. The people in front of me were Americans trying to find Marble Arch on a map (that's where they needed to get to). The Hertz guy's response was a pathetic "I think it might be in London." I won't go on with the gory details of how he could hardly string two words together....
I learned from the previous trip and took out cash on my Amex card before I left America this time. Made life a lot easier.
The beggars on the street are certainly getting more creative though. An evening stroll through Horsham and I discovered newfound obsceneties and swear words that I didn't know existed. Of the three urine-soaked beggars I ignored, one of them was asleep and the other two had fully functioning dictionaries of the profound at their disposal. I was threatened with every literary weapon in their arsenal, questioning my sexual orientation, my parental lineage, my clothes, my weight and my money-earning ability. I actually didn't know that the words "cheap wankbastard fuckheaded tosser" could be used together in a sentence. I stand corrected. And I admit guilt. I am indeed a cheap wankbastard fuckhead tosser because I didn't give cash which I earned by having a job, to a complete stranger in a dark alleyway, who smelled of vomit and was happy to sleep in his own excrement.
The local Tesco's was up to full speed. I stood in line on the first evening there with my basket of shopping to be greeted after 5 minutes with a cheery "Sorry luv, I'm closing" whereupon the woman closed the line in front of me and the three people behind me. Nice. It's not like I'd been waiting in line or anything. Went to another till and had the "shopping at the till" experience, where the person in front of me wandered off to get something she'd forgotten from the back of the store. And the checkout girl let her do it too! Changed tills again and got the nicest person in the world. She was totally out of place - cheery, quick and efficient. Her refreshing attitude was soon a distant memory as I walked out to the parking lot to discover the nice driver in the silver Rover had parked so close to my rental car that I couldn't get in. Actually, I could even get between the cars. I'd purposely parked out in the boonies - being used to American parking lots, on my first night in the UK I didn't want to bugger up my parking in the narrow bays and piss someone off. Despite my thoughtfullness, this other person seemed to have a fully functioning herd instinct and parked right next to me. We were the only two cars at that end of the lot. So I got in on the passenger side, crawled over to the drivers side and I'm sure the insurance will cover his wing mirror which snapped off as I reversed out of the space (when it caught behind the one on my rental car.)
The most pleasant thing that happened this visit? Dinner with a mate at a pub in Barns Green. Cheery barmaid, cheery waitresses, good grub, good company. Didn't take American Express though......
October 2006 : back again for another visit. I managed to stay away for 3 years. Sadly, as I descended throught he clouds into the all-pervading greyness, I was overcome with a sense of forboding. As usual, arriving at Gatwick surprised everyone there - we sat on the plane for an hour because they didn't have a gate. The moving walkways were still broken (they've never worked). The a/c was off and the heating was on full. The carpet was peeling at the edges, and the roof was clearly leaking in the hallway where we were because there was mold growing on the inside of the building and the carpets were damp (probably why they were peeling back). It was like arriving in a third-world country. The car rental compound had been moved and the bus to get me there ran every 15 minutes. Only it was a sunday so it only ran once an hour. The driver was a miserable old cunt too. No record of my car reservation despite having the Hertz Gold details printed out and in my posession, then when they did find the reservation, they had no car. I eventually managed to get one by convincing them it was their problem and not mine, and on the drive from the airport I was nearly killed four times by wankers in repmobiles sailing along on their cellphones totally oblivious to the rest of the world. During my stay I observed that apparently the little whores in England are getting younger. I saw a girl with a pram waiting outside a shop. She can't have been more than 14, if that. As I was watching, an elderly woman asked he if she was watching her baby sister whilst her mum was in the shop. The response was, paraphrased slightly "Not that's any of your business but this is my baby!". At that point the little whore lit up a cigarette and walked off. Nice. I observed that house prices are so high now that nobody can afford to buy one. I observed that driving standards have plummetted to worse-than-Utah levels, which is bloody impressive. I observed being raped for a £57 bill for a dinner for one in an Indian restaurant. OK so it's a well-respected restaurant but even so - over a hundred bucks for one dinner for one person? Next evening I observed being raped for £35 for steak and chips and a bowl of soup in a pub, so apparently it's not just the Indian restaurant - everywhere is overpriced to eat out now. By the end of the trip I was just in shock, more than anything. I cannot comprehend how that country works any more. Well - to be honest - it doesn't work does it? I mean everything's broken. The whole place is a shambles. As usual I was relieved to be coming back to America, and in this day and age of panicky white-boy Americans with their post 9/11 perceptions, that's really saying something.
2007, 2008, 2009 : I've been back eight times in the last three years and things are going from bad to worse. Knife crime is at an all time high. CCTV has been proven to be a total failure, yet there's still one camera for every 15 people. The latest kids game is detonating telephone boxes with fireworks or petrol-assisted arson (pour the petrol under the door then throw a firework through the letterbox). The government is mired in an expenses scandal and corruption that has brought it down to Italian levels. Mainstream stores and banks are going under at an unprecedented rate. By July 2009, essentially the entire North of the country was out of work (the top then highest spots for unemployment were all in the North). On the roads, lane discipline has totally vanished as has common courtesy and basic road knowledge, and you're lucky to be able to drive from A to B now without amassing huge fines from unmarked cars and speed cameras. Public transport is on it's knees and the cost of basic utilities has quadrupled since I left (going up 42% in Winter 2008 alone!) Petrol is over £1.00 per litre, insurance rates are sky high, mortgage rates are up, repossessions are up and house prices are in the stratosphere - so high that first-time buyers can no longer afford to buy anything. Rubbish collections have been dropped to once every two weeks in some parts of the country so people are left to contend with stinking bins and rubbish bags in the middle of summer. The entire country is completely broken. It's awful. If it wasn't for the friends and family we have left there, or the odd business trip, there's no way I would voluntarily visit England any more.
Go West, life is peaceful there.
This is priceless, it illustrates what I've been talking about, and I didn't even create it. Someone sent me the link....You'll need Flash to view it, but it's worth it.
(1)Signals passed at danger doubling each year - BBC
(2)Rail dangers - BBC
(3)Railways in crisis - BBC
(4)Shareholds in railways staying rich - BBC
(5)Rail strikes - BBC
(6)Rail hatchet man Beeching
(7)Highest incidence of road rage in Europe - New Scotsman
(8)"Congestion" charge homepage
(9)Drivers to be taxed by the mail - News.com.au
(10)Car crime capital of the world
(11)Carjacking on the increase - BBC
(12)Ripoff car prices - BBC
(13)£38bn paid in motoring taxes each year - Telegraph
(14)Taxing speeding tickets - BBC
(15)Taxing bigger motorcycles more - BBC
(16)Airport shopping - heathrow.com
(17)New ATC to blame for near miss - BBC
(18)Government debating mandatory genetic testing - BBC
(19)BSE In Britain - BBC
(20)Ongoing foot & mouth crisis - BBC
(21)Unlicensed street traders - Thisislondon
(22)1400 illegal immigrants / month - HMG
(23)Soft touch on asylum seekers - Guardian
(24)James Bulger murder - 10 years on - Guardian
(25)Government still refuses to make Sarah's Law - BBC
(26)Government denies MMR/Autism link - BBC
(27)Blair and the MMR debate - BBC
(28)Overstressed overworked teachers - BBC
(29)You can no longer fail an exam - Telegraph
(30)Spiralling university student debt - BBC
(31)Rising crime in the UK - BBC
(32)Record increase in crime - Telegraph
(33)Mobile phone muggings - BBC
(34)Soaring street crime - BBC
(35)IRA antics - BBC
(36)IRA Torch bombs - CNN
(37)IRA Truck bombs - BBC
(38)Rich americans funding IRA terrorism - BBC
(39)London has more crime and less officers than NY - Observer
(40)Filthy streets - Guardian
(41)Over-surveillance of Britain - Privacy International
(42)Government experiments in facial-recognition
(46)50 year mortgages on the way - BBC
(47)Jailed for defending your home (Tony Martin) - BBC
(48)Tony Martin sued by burglar - BBC
(49)Guns banned, gun crime goes up - BBC
(50)Another man jailed for defending his life and property - BBC
(51)Privatised police - BBC
(52)Burglary not an offence any more - BBC
(53)Soldiers buying their own kit from Army Surplus - BBC
(54)Phoenix UAV is a failure - Times
(55)Shite shop service - BBC
(56)More cold deaths than Siberia - BBC
(57)Dying because of the cold - RICS
(59)Hospital closures - BBC
(60)Tired doctors - BBC
(61)Underpaid nurses - BBC
(62)Underpaid nurses - nursingpay.com
(63)MRSA Hospital superbug
(64)Inheritance tax at 40%
(65)Art? Half a cow - BBC
(66)Art? Bed covered in shit - Guardian
(67)Pedestrian bridge that can't take pedestrians - Guardian
(68)Heathrow tunnel collapse
(69)Last English shipyard closed
(70)Cunard now owned by Carnival
(71)World Of Leather bankrupt again - HMG
(73)Brawling footballers getting away with it - Guardian
(75)Treasure Island - rip-off.co.uk
(76)Deputy Prime Minister gets away with assault - BBC
(77)Brown tax rises - BBC
(79)"Ethnic" British Airways - BBC
(80)Policing traffic wardens - Telegraph
(81)35% of A&E admissions are alcohol-related (Government strategy document PDF)
(82)Nation of binge drinkers (Observer)
(83)1 pub for every 30 people (Newham Recorder)
(84)Violent crime up 14% in 2003 (BBC)
(85)Troops sent to war ill-equipped to fight (BBC)
(86)Wind farm closed because it was windy (icwales)
(87)Train driver passes red light and misses stop by 1 mile because he was on a mobile phone. (BBC)
(88)Chinook helicopter purchase disaster. (The Age)
(89)Cement blocks thrown on to rail lines. (BBC)
(90)Driver killed by brick thrown through windscreen on motorway. (BBC)
(91)Uneducated public don't know anything about the EU (Yahoo)
(92)NHS making sick people pay for their own petrol (BBC)
(93)Jailed for hitting a tree, fined for murdering a pedestrian. (Sun)
(94)Wrong type of water. (Lincs. Echo)
(95)Toxic pollutant companies (Independant)
(96)No more smiling (ThisIsLondon)
(97)Airport screeners stealing from bags (Sun)
(98)Airport screeners stealing from bags (BBC)
(99)CPS won't prosecute even with CCTV of 300 offences (BBC)
(100)Defending yourself during a home invasion will land you in jail (Scotsman)
(101)Closing down safe funfair rides (Evening Star)
(102)Kids beating people up "for fun" and filming it on their cellphones.(BBC)
(103)Government to bribe kids with money to be good.(WestPress)
(104)Fined and banned for flashing the "V" sign whilst not speeding.(Telegraph)
(105)Council painting yellow lines under parked cars then fining them for parking in no parking zone.(BBC)
(106)Fines for putting your bin out on the wrong day are higher than fines for burglary.(Daily Mail)
(107)RFID chips in wheelie bins. (LiveScience)
(108)Britain putting CCTV cameras in homes to make sure kids do their homework. (Daily Express)