Montag, 10. September 2007

Don't they have enough paint?

In many ways, I still feel at home in Britain. I don't go as often as I used to - and I miss it. I miss reading the Sunday Herald and the Guardian. I miss Woman's Hour on Radio 4 (which I listened to while doing the dishes back in student days). I miss the self-depreciating humour and the casual, first-name social interaction with others (even if it is often a false informality). I miss the theatre scenes in Edinburgh and London. I only do not miss hobnobs and tea because I still import them ....
But there is also a lot I, hm, hate about Britain. Asked by an old university friend for a list over a beer on Saturday, here are some of the things that came to mind immediately:
- the privatized and completely dysfunctional railway system (and true to form, it took me 4 hours from Reading to Cambridge yesterday) as well as the sad state of public transport generally. When I lived in London, I found getting from one meeting to another often the most tiring bit of the day. In Berlin, you can actually relax while travelling, no matter whether you cycle or take public transport. I admit things are getting better (especially in London). But still ...
- the fact that you have to burn your hands first and then hold them under the cold tap to cool off, if you want to wash your hands properly
- the home-owning culture - and other 'me, me, me' effects of the Thatcher years (the same selfishness is spreading in Germany, unfortunately. Interestingly, everyone I know who has lived in the UK for a long time is fervently opposed to, for example, privatizing rail and more home ownership in Germany - I guess we know where it leads!)
- the infantile relationship to alcohol (where getting pissed is somehow seen as a real achievement that needs to be advertized to the world)
- the run down hospitals (and the inefficient PFI monsters that are starting to replace them)
- the inflated prices (especially for housing, drinks (especially decent wine) and meals out)
- the appalling insulation (to me double glazing was normal when I grew up thirty years ago; so I am quite amused when people proudly anounce to me now that they have just got it too!)
- Housing standards generally (apparently insulations standards in Scotland for new build homes are now what they used to be in Sweden in 1978)
And it is not just me who is appalled at the housing standards. Once I arrived in Cambridge yesterday, I met a wonderful Cuban family, who my partner had spent a lot of time with when she lived on Cuba. They were puzzled by the brick houses everywhere. They asked whether there were not enough "paint factories in Britain" to ensure that houses get "properly finished". I actually quite like brick houses. But it still made me laugh. And here was further proof for my long-held assertion that Britain truly is a developing country ;-) .

1 Kommentar:

Chas hat gesagt…

I certainly agree with you about the trains and the building standards Daniel. But we're working on them: come the Green revolution...

:-)