All entries for Thursday 04 November 2004

November 04, 2004

Travel First Class for Free!

Well not quite, but I thought that after my enormously fun extended weekend, that I ought to divulge some advice that will vastly improve your experiences on this here country's delapidated and frequently frustrating rail network.

It all started when, for some reason, thetrainline.com sold out of economy-class advance tickets for the trains to and from Glasgow on the 29th of October and 2nd of November respectively. This would have transported me to bonnie Scotland and back for less than £30. But over a month prior to travel, they'd inexplicably sold out of them. I could've waited 'til the day of travel and purchased a Saver Return for the staggering sum of £60-odd. Then, my eyes espied on my laptop screen that there were still some advance tickets available, ah! but they were first class. Lucky I didn't dismiss this offer as unaffordable bourgeois decadence there and then, and actually checked the price, for if my eyes didn't deceive me, I could get to the Naples of the North for a mere £40, and travel in considerable style!

And travel I did, First-motherfucking-Class! Well, Club Class 'til Carlisle, where I got free and unlimited tea, coffee and cold food, and from Carlisle, free and unlimited tea, coffee, BEER! and HOT food! And there was great legroom, and a free Times! Yes, all this for only forty of your Queen's pounds!

The curious thing is, my friends, that over the five hour journey no one ever checked my ticket to see if I was supposed to be there. I was blatantly the youngest person in the carriage, and didn't look particularly smart, yet they had no qualms about feeding me copious refreshments. In first class I was twice asked if I was first class, to which, despite feeling entirely out of place, I had to reply yes, but they didn't require the production of a ticket. I thought, fuck economy class (not quite 'fuck buying a ticket' – I'm not a thief), I'm going to travel like this every time.

But before you leave your desk, dear readers, and embark on the next Virgin Train service home, travelling in all manner of luxury for free, pay heed. On the return leg, I was asked for my ticket not once, not twice but thrice. It seems it's a bit of a gamble this whole riding in first class for free lark, so watch out. Perhaps the safest thing you can do is buy a regular ticket (unless trainline have still gone completely nuts over their prices), grab a seat amongst all the businessmen and consume all the free stuff you can until the ticket inspector rumbles you and insists that you rejoin the plebs at the back of the train (they can't chuck you off/extort money from you, can they?).

So there you have it, my first nugget of travel advice. Cor, I do go on don't I? It may work better if goat class is chocka, so you have an excuse, and if you're travelling north (it occurs to me that Virgin Trains may like to reward brave folks heading to Glasgow such as I with casting a blind eye towards our class status).


Post–Election Blues

Follow-up to Georgie B vs Johnny K from Esprit de l'escalier

So, my thoughts on the presidential election now it's gone and happened and young George has gone and won, eh?

Balls, basically. I really did think Kerry had a good stab at the prize; he was in the lead in the polls all last week then on my return from bonnie Scotland yesterday, Bush had clawed back to tie the contest at 48% each. Then I slept on the sofa and set my alarm for 4.30 to catch the exciting bit of the election and Bush was way ahead. Not to worry, I thought, Kerry's still in with a chance! But the seeds of doubt were already sown. I reawoke at 11.30, it was all resting on Ohio, and despite Kerry clinging to any glimmer of hope there was, it looked pretty clear that the Republicans were whupping ass. So for the rest of the day, as the absentee ballots were counted, I tried not to think about it.

Of course, now I'm writing this, I kinda have to think about it. And I'll start from an objective, politics student stance. The thing with this time round is that it was pretty fair and square – no justified outrage from us would-be Democrats. We, well they, lost. In the end Kerry just couldn't convince the American people that Bush is both an arrogant cock and an extremist twat (both good reasons to kick a President out of office, I'd've thought).

It's a weird feeling: I can't really care less. This is probably due to three things.
1. I can't do anything about it now. Nor can anyone. We're stuck with Bush for four more years. He's going to do whatever he likes, and from our experience of his first term, there's no changing his mind about anything (obviously, Republican success in Congress reinforces this). I'm obviously kicking myself for not putting a bet on him when Kerry was still high in the polls, making my situation win-win. Ah well. I guess this is what apathy feels like.
2. I did Politics of the USA last academic year and to me the whole module was basically building up to this election. I had an intellectual stake in it. Now, having passed the course, I can no longer be fagged to analyse it. The farcelessness of yesterday's election has thrown up only one thing to marvel at: the neat geographical-based support for the two candidates: the north-east and west coast are blue, while the rest is red. Clearly, as the candidates were so polar, the country has split conveniently enough to warrant an actual secession of the Democratic states from the Union.*
3. This year I'm doing the module Comparative Foreign Policy and can now appreciate where the Bush administration are coming from with respect to their War on Terror. I still believe it's a crock of monkey snot, but I don't think there'll be a nuclear war any time soon.

So reluctant congratulations to George Bush Jr from this disillusioned student: you managed to convince the majority that the country was at (real) war (historically, war presidents have never been voted out of office); you've also managed to create the world's greatest theocracy, snatching the much-valued title from Iran. They must be gutted.

*Another issue raised is the slight problem of what is probably the most important election of our generation being decided by 136,000 hicks in a mid-west swing state who, thanks to Corporate News, have probably never heard of Abu Ghraib. But I'm not bitter.


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