Blessed are the Bottleneckers

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The problem with automatic ticket barriers is their propensity to change location. Logic dictates that such essential train station furniture should be close to the entrance/exit and that the demands of space, power and connectivity should limit the options available to planners. Not so in your precious world, my dear bottlenecker, where these most Muggle of items are imbued with a Hogwarts staircase-esque intelligence. For you, these shiny pillars with their drab grey swing gates are a constant source of bewilderment.

You, brave traveller, know that we live in a world of perverse wizardry. Hence you arrive at the barrier wholly unprepared. How could you possibly have predicted that exiting the station may require some form of validation, or that the method would conform to such mundane rules? We should laud your courage in the face of these crippling uncertainties:

– Will there be a barrier?

– Will it be where it was yesterday, and every day before that?

– Who am I? Why am I here?

Bowed down under the weight of doubt it makes perfect sense that you don’t have your contactless payment method ready in your hand. Only when faced with the undeniable solidity of the bright yellow pad should you paw through your purse, or switch on your phone and scroll to ApplePay.

Someone churlish might suggest you could use your time on the escalator to prepare. These mechanical contrivances are long, and you’re clearly not someone in a hurry who walked up. How ignoble to suggest you sacrifice your precious time contemplating the low to high, misery to glory of your own existence, and the posters for West End shows you will never see. Who would not forgive you grappling with your existential angst and your vapid arse scratching?

It’s not as though you inconvenienced that many people at the ticket barrier itself. Most of your fellow travellers are far behind, caught in a pile-up at the top of the escalator. When you stepped off it was essential that you stop and survey this new world the moving walkway had magically transported you to.

How boorish of the people behind to think you should be expected to keep walking. You who have clawed out of the cocoon of the London tube system into a bright reality of backlit advertising. This emergence should be celebrated, not bound by the relentless industry of the escalator, spewing forth the rest of humanity into your back. Why should you, in this moment of rapture, take a single step to the side?

You are a pilgrim through life. Your every step is holy. The world is a cruel and uncertain place, its hallmark is its unpredictability. Its pleasures are few and to be savoured. So pause often, in the tightest of spaces, in the most inconvenient bottlenecks. Make your skin like armour against the barging shoulders and the barbs of “moron” and “imbecile”.

Blessed are the bottleneckers for they shall inhibit the underground.

END

Find out more about my writing here.

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The Price of One – Short Story on Scarlet Leaf Review

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The Price of One – my ghost story / lyrical tour around London’s South Bank is in this month’s online edition of Scarlet Leaf Review.

The narrator is dead, and still very much in love. When a street vendor offers him a potion that brings him temporarily to life he and his heartbroken paramour grasp it with both hands.

Please head over there, give it a read, show it some love.

http://www.scarletleafreview.com/short-stories1/category/ali-abbas

 

Independence Plan for London

It has happened. A coalition of Little England hobbits and post industrial flotsam has led us over the edge and into an abyss of isolationism.

The time has come for London to assert its independence. We are different from the cultural Neanderthals still vainly defending a vanished image of Britain towering over the world. They have been unable or unwilling to wake up to the hard reality that London is the greatest city on earth and they live largely on our largesse and at our sufferance.

It’s time to take back our democracy from these small minds and bigots. It’s time to take back our tax revenues that prop up their failed and inefficient industries and unemployment benefits. It’s time to unshackle ourselves from this dead weight that keeps trying to hold us back.

Borders and Immigration

We have a natural border. It’s called the M25. We don’t need it. London welcomes everyone, always has, always will. Even if you voted Out. London takes the different, and the outcast, and chews them up. It spits out street wise, tube map savvy, productive people. London doesn’t care if you are the riff-raff or covered in spots. It just wants you to take part.

Politics

It’s time for a new kind of politics in London. The Tories have to go. It is their in fighting that got us into this mess. Labour are no better, because no one can know what they are voting for. New Labour and Corbyn’s Old Labour are toxic for each other and no one wants to be part of their mess. The Liberal democrats are an anachronism and irrelevance, like codpieces.

If we are to unshackle ourselves from Little England then let’s jettison the old politics too. Sadiq Khan can stay to oversee the  changing of the guard, but then we have another election for the president of the Independent Republic of London.

Finance

England will need a transition plan, to wean them off our wealth. We’ll fund it from our change from a monarchy to an independent republic. We can sell Buckingham Palace and Clarence House to oligarchs and oil sheikhs who will never live there. We may need to do the basement conversions first though.

Trade

This is London, we don’t need a trade policy. In the Del Boy city we’ll sell anything to anyone. The only conditions: no money back, no guarantee.

 

The Age of Political Unions has ended. Cameron has tolled the death knell for Europe, and in doing so put Scotland onto a path to eventual secession. In five years there will be no Great Britain. The question for London is whether we want to be saddled with what is left, or forge our own destiny as in independent city state, and take our place as the cultural and financial capital of the world.