The triumph of hope over experience

travel shutdown

One does wonder, you know.  There’s a lovely comment reportedly by by W.S. Gilbert, in John Julius Norwich’s Christmas Crackers, 1980 – a letter to a bumbling railways station:

Sir, Saturday morning, although recurring at regular and well foreseen intervals, always seems to take this railway by surprise.

Leaves on the line, the wrong snow.  We can come at this from two angles – one is that it’s an endearing, quirky English or British tradition we should never lose, like bumbling our way to winning wars and creating empires.

The other is that the reason it’s so inefficient and hopelessly non-clairvoyant is that people, essentially, don’t care about anyone but themselves – people are myopic and narcissistic.

One of our regulars here and sorry, can’t remember whether Wolfie, Chuckles, Wiggia or who, mentioned that British transport was not conceived to serve the public, it was conceived to give employment, bonuses etc. to employees and fatcat salaries to the brass.  Therefore they withdraw service when inconvenient.

There’s a parallel in Russia.  Ikea sprang up in our hometown and was excellent for quite a while.  Then something happened and the Swedish management went back to Sweden and Russian management went in.  My mate said to me – watch the service drop and the place fold within months.

It did drop, badly and we lodged our fair share of ignored complaints but it didn’t actually fold, so that was progress.  Essentially, Russians are no one’s servants and this might be said about the British.  Even the streetsweeper stands on his citizenship and bows to no man.

Thus service is shoddy in the main, thus these transport crises occur at precisely the times of year everyone decides to use the system.  Gas and electricity companies know that there’ll be no demand and then suddenly, the whole nation wants power.  It’s like taking a holiday in July or August – why, when every man and his dog also wishes to do the same at the same time?

It’s as if there’s no concept that there’s anyone else out there.  At the supermarket, I keep the carrier basket and load things in, pay and depart, taking the basket over to a bench and repacking there.  It’s because I don’t wish to hold anyone up at the till.

However, that’s not how those ahead and behind see it.  The one ahead has not thought about payment and so, with £100 of groceries there, thinks about the best card to use to add to the family debt and takes days paying by card, then gets down to the packing.  Meanwhile, the one behind is pushing her trolley into me, subconsciously wishing to be served right now.  Encroach, encroach, encroach, chafe at the bit is the order of the day.

Do you still go out for a Sunday drive and get caught in tailbacks, sometimes a mile or more long?  Why?  Why not go for a Saturday afternoon drive or an after work drive? And then there are the people who, on the day of rest, Sunday, when people who’ve worked six days finally want some peace and quiet, hear the man next door starting up his circular saw for his DIY project or the kids at the end of the corridor starting up their mind-numbing thump, thump, thump house shaker, risably called music.

Everyone keeping to themselves by imposing themselves on everyone else around.  Spirit of Christmas.

In one Skype this morning, I was asked what I had planned.  Heck, I don’t know.  Well what are you having for Christmas lunch?  Don’t know, maybe a couple of eggs on toast and some beans and greens.  Major plan is to hide if anyone approaches the door, maybe watch a YouTube film.

Perfectly happy, relaxed, sipping on coffee, bed’s there to go back to for an hour, just being decadent, not being pushed, cajoled into doing anything, which in itself could be called self-centred and selfish.  What I’m really looking forward to though is the Boxing Day feast of sport, from the Sydney to Hobart Yacht Race to the football here.  Boxing Day is a fabulous Day.

Probably later on I’ll do some sort of carol rendition until the crow voice gets me down and one is forced to the conclusion that that was not such a good idea, might say a prayer for the unfortunate and for the girl who wrote to say my Monster post yesterday was about her mother – whaaa?  But the main thing is that the mood is fine, the sun has just come out, outside and all seems right with the world for one day.

Touch wood but no circular saws just yet.  You have a nice one.

Rossa points out:

Not sure I should remind everyone today about Welby and his supposed connection with Christianity:

Archbishop of Canterbury cancels annual Christmas Day sermon because of ‘severe cold’

Interesting, isn’t it? Christians yet again let down by their top brass.Jesse on Christmas today:

8 comments for “The triumph of hope over experience

  1. ivan
    December 25, 2014 at 11:33

    It is Thursday here in rural France, and I assume the rest of the country. The fact that it is also Christmas day will cause most of the western world to go into some sort of stupor but here Thursday is also one of our two weekly garbage collection days. At 9:40 the garbage truck rushes up the narrow road, bins are emptied and replaced back where they were, a cheery ‘Bon Noël’ is exchanged between the two men and myself and the truck hurries back down the road having collected its last load. By mid day those two will be home with their families being content that they have discharged their service to the villages they collect the garbage from. Where would you see that in the UK?

  2. December 25, 2014 at 11:57

    “Well what are you having for Christmas lunch?”

    A sausage roll. More later when the family arrive though – much more.

    “Essentially, Russians are no one’s servants and this might be said about the British.”

    I think that’s right. As far as I can see, Brits don’t really want to serve anyone they see as their equal.

    Merry Christmas.

    • December 25, 2014 at 14:08

      Sausage roll? Could do with a couple of those.

  3. Edward Spalton
    December 25, 2014 at 12:55

    Reminds me of a few things

    A German friend remarked that their railways were essentially a pension fund, running the railways as a sideline.

    When McDonalds first opened their tremendously successful Moscow branch, they had great difficulty in persuading trainee staff to be pleasant to customers. ” Why should we?” was the attitude” We’re the one with the burgers”

    There was a small co-op shop at the bottom of our street, staffed by ladies of a certain age who had grown up during the era of rationing and austerity. One very snowy Christmas, the shop was packed with people who had decided not to go into town. As usual, only one till was working.
    ” Right!” Said one formidable lady assistant ” Speak up! Let’s hear it! ” We don’t have to queue like this at Sainsbury’s” do we? You lot are only in here because it’s snowing!”

  4. December 25, 2014 at 21:59

    “At the supermarket, I keep the carrier basket and load things in, pay and depart, taking the basket over to a bench and repacking there”

    That’s standard practice at Aldi & Lidl – they work on tight margins, and want people through the tills as quickly as possible.

    “We don’t have to queue like this at Sainsbury’s” do we?”

    We bloody well do round here! As well as never having enough checkouts working, there is the added delay caused by the operators having to go through numerous vouchers, and special offer coupons. Then you have the idiots who can’t find or decide which card to use, and it typically takes at least twice as long to complete a transaction as it really needs to.

  5. December 26, 2014 at 02:53

    Boxing Day. The ‘sales’. My watch went caput just before Christmas and it was too near the day for anyone to even think of sending me one for Christmas. I had that watch for 30+ years. I was happy to spend a couple of hundred bucks on another long-lasting, good quality one. So, today, off I went into town. Jeweller’s shop after jeweller’s shops I trudged amid the crowds. I knew what I wanted. In each shop there was a suitable one for me. My wallet bulged with the money, ready to expend.

    Not only the local crowds but a tourist ship in the harbour. Full of Japanese. The jeweller’s’ were chokka with japanese girls exanining bling, their beaus in tow. I stood, waiting. Waiting. Dozens of blings were dredged from display cabinets only to be followed by a further dozen. No sales seemed to happen. More Japanese come in and demand to be shown stuff as others left. I stood. I waited. I left and went to the next shop. Same. Same in four shops. I went home watchless.

    The shop assistants, all women, of course, seemed quite blind to an elderly gentleman. Yet, think about it. If a chap of years goes into a jewelllers it is very likely he knows what he wants and it is there. It is an easy sale. Quick and easy.

    All those non-sales at great wasted effort unlocking cabinets, taking three, five, ten pretty useless blingly items out. Putting them all back. Disinterested, time-wasting girls wandering off, their eyes bored. One old gentleman with a definite sale in mind. Unattended. The shops lost.

    I will look online.

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