Archive for public services

The Return of Me – and why I’m not buying a poppy this year

Posted in My Thoughts on X Thing, Politics with tags , , , , , , on 28/10/2009 by phyrbyrd

Well, here I am back again, fully installed, or very nearly so, in my very own Tower of Solitude – or, me plus the cat.

The Fuzzbutt herself

Say hello, Bizkit.

All is peachy, or will be when I get these wisdom teeth out next week and can stop chewing garlic and clove oil (yech) to take the pain away.

So, humourous cat pictures aside, I did actually have a decently serious subject today. Y’see, soon it’s going to be Remembrance Day.  A bunch of you guys overseas* have this too, you might call it Armistice Day or Veteran’s Day or something else. Here, pretty much everyone goes around for a while beforehand with a paper poppy in their lapel, and they keep the silence at eleven in the morning on that day.

Which I will not be doing this year.

There are several reasons for this, some of them fairly petty, but they’re just add-ons to the real reasons. So we’ll start with the petty reasons first, get them out of the way, shall we?

First of all, a paper flower on my coat is not going to last five seconds, because I wear a large bag on a long strap, with the strap across my body to stop it falling off. I used to put my poppy on my hat instead, but this year’s autumn hat is one of those black fleece ones with the devil horns so it’d just fall off really fast. Second, I’m not likely to be awake at eleven AM on any given day, especially a Sunday. I normally miss the silence anyway, even if I do buy a poppy. OK, petty enough? Good, let’s move on.

Right, it’s not that I do not give a damn about the soldiers and the things they are suffering. I know that Remembrance Day is in remembrance of war dead since World War I, and the proceeds go towards helping old and injured soldiers. But they shouldn’t need it. And the war we are in now? We shouldn’t be there. Who is going to remember all the civilian dead in the Afghan and Iraq wars? Their dead and injured dwarfs ours. And why are we there? It used to be because we were looking for a terrorist, now it’s something nebulous about ‘it’s too complicated to leave now’.**

But this isn’t an Afghanistan rant, it’s a Poppy Day rant. Remember I said veterans shouldn’t need Poppy Day funds for their care? They shouldn’t. They should be cared for by the state, the government which sent them to risk their lives in service of this country. They shouldn’t be treated like old dishragscast aside once they’re no longer useful.

I will not wear a poppy this year because the poppy has ceased to mean anything much. It’s just a paper flower. There are a few stories about the World Wars attached to it, but unless it brings any benefit to the people it was created to represent, I will never wear one again.

* – This is me pretending I have masses of international readers at this point. A girl can dream.

**- It’s about oil.


Why I Hate Public Transport

Posted in My So-Called Life with tags , , , on 21/09/2009 by phyrbyrd

Not a Hypothetical Woman post for this one, or a particularly political one – this one is personal.

See, this weekend I went from The Grim North to the Capital to the wedding of an old and dear friend, one who I’ve known since I was about eleven years old, when she was in college and crashing on our sofa for a while*. She’s come a long way since then – she’s a high-flying corporate lawyer (still very nice, though) and married another very nice corporate lawyer from Munich on Saturday.

Mum-Ra and I got up at half past six in the morning, drove to Big Northern City #1 and caught the train all the way down to London.** That went alright, despite the fact that we’d got on the wrong train – an hour earlier than we’d meant to, and the conductor said he would allow our tickets ‘this once’.*** But we got there alright, after much running around the London underground, and the wedding was lovely. Beautiful church, the Bride looked gorgeous, like a porcelain Royal Worcester cake topper.

The reception was amazing too – I made friends with many of the Groom’s family who all seemed disproportionately impressed when I tried out my terrible high-school German on them, and the only real low point was the speech made by the Bride’s Father, who seemed to think it was appropriate to make jokes about taking people out and shooting them in a room full of Germans.

Anyway, Mum-Ra and I had to leave early, as in before dessert, so as to catch our train home. We sat in a traffic jam in a taxi for twnty minutes, hared through the underground, and missed our train by about four minutes. After some standing around and asking what we were going to do, we eventually stayed the night with one of the bridesmaids and got lifts home, seperately, with other guests.

But I hate public transport. It costs too much and you are at the mercy of the system. You can’t relax and you must always watch the clock, in case you miss your bus, train or tram. You can’t leave your stuff in the car – Mum-Ra and I were lugging an unelegant two bags each around all day – and you can’t leave the party when you want. You have to share your space with drunk people, double-wide strollers, mocking teenagers and people like I was on Saturday, who have been running around for hours and haven’t had a chance to have a wash. Sometimes you don’t get to sit down, sometimes you don’t even get to hold on to anything, sometimes people are crushed tight against you.

I have epilepsy and they don’t let me drive so I don’t know what I’d do without public transport but that doesn’t mean I’ve got to like it. And I hate it when people say, ‘Oh, you can go to the Random Event, there’s a bus that goes there!’ First, I’ve never been on that bus route and I don’t know when to get off, second, I don’t want to stand around waiting for a bus for ages, third, whether or not I want to get on the damn bus is not anyone else’s business. Some people seem to get insulted by my reluctance to go everywhere by bus. Reverend Dad, for instance, doesn’t understand that the bus journey to come see him is two seperate busses, with a change in the most obnoxious town you’ve ever seen,**** and always fills up with soccer fans and idiot kids.

I hate public transport, and I can’t get away from it. Are we clear on this?

* – Her sister and a number of her friends did the same thing – we had a very comfortable sofa, almost constantly occupied by people we came to call, as a group, the Sofa-Dwellers.

** – As you can see, I’m trying not to explicitly name people or places connected to me – there’s two Big Northern Cities but we only have one capital.

*** – The snack shop attendant announced that, ‘There is a snack shop halfway down carriage C and there will be a first class service served in… first class. The snack shop will open shortly and hot and cold drinks and snacks will be available if you… pay.’ Clearly not a morning person.

**** – Also known as my birthplace, but we’ll call it Scumtown.