Monday, February 02, 2009

Snow! 2: The Wrong Kind of Snow



Those of us who recall the last time there was as much snow as this in our grimly clement isle will remember the Thatcher-battered railways using the above as their excuse for the total collapse of the British transport system - no doubt this was used as one of the many idiot alibis for privatisation, and now we can see that a privatised transport system is completely unable to cope with an amount of snow that would apparently in Buffalo be regarded as a 'dusting'. Interestingly, Transport For London managed to grit and plough the 5% of the roads that they own and run, while local councils - as we could see, watching the icing coat the arterial road we live on - didn't bother, presumably because all council tax monies are restricted to underwriting city academies and PFI hospitals, and producing huge quantities of ugly printed tat. As an adoptive Londoner I have an intimate relationship with London Transport, with its unfashionable commitment to public ownership, good design, cheapness and general public-spiritedness, no matter how compromised and beleaguered - so a time when buses simply aren't running is strangely terrifying, apocalyptic, on a par with public advice not to call ambulances - oh, except they did that too.



This comes after a few weeks in which it has become more and more obvious just how utterly screwed this country is, with the IMF making very clear that we will be hit harder in the recession than any other developed country, because of the amount to which we have overidentified with the IMF and their ilk's prescriptions for dismantling and mocking anything that doesn't make a profit. I had been vaguely planning a sort-of-defence against persuasive but somehow slightly dubious jeremiads from French, and as if they aren't every bit as screwed as us, Scottish critics. I don't know if I can be bothered, at least for now. Andrew O'Hagan's claim about the imperialism-damaged quietism and wilful idiocy of the English working class is largely insulting bollocks, but when their only response to the recession so far is a strike with the slogan 'British jobs for British workers' - as if solidarity can only exist by excluding some other group, in this case Italians in barges - despair becomes very tempting. And as if to confirm the thesis that we are, in all possible situations obsessed with money, the snow 'will cost the economy £1bn' - although that's roughly the loose change we throw at failing banks. There are shafts of light - the student occupations over Gaza, which have finally incurred the not-so-latent thuggery of the shiny neoliberal university - and they just about keep total despair at bay. Just about.

And at the very least, Londoners can take icy revenge thusly: 
'The people vs. the banksters. Mass snowball fight. 1pm Tuesday 3rd Feb outside the Royal Bank of Scotland on Bishopsgate. Pass it on.'

5 Comments:

Blogger N O R T O N said...

sounds like a good time to hunker down inside of my nice warm, cozy, and secure brutalist home and wait for the madness to pass...oh...wait...nevermind. i'm living in a shitty wood-framed joke of a building

1:22 am  
Blogger Markasaurus said...

You're right, in Buffalo that would be a dusting (http://www.flickr.com/photos/markhogan/2070757466/). What I really can't understand is why the tube was shut down? Much of it is below ground, and even the parts that aren't shouldn't be shut down for a few inches of snow.

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