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April 17, 2008



I am surprised. Monbiot is usually Mr Back To The 17th Century Now; I know he had a come-to-Jesus experience writing his book when he discovered that things like HVDC, li-ion batteries and the like exist and are in production, but you'd not spot it from his Grauniad column.


He's also a bit prone to finding one source who's ready to talk entertainingly and basing his entire article on him without further investigation, which frequently leads, some days later, to an article in the C&C column along the lines of "It has been pointed out to us that George Monbiot's entire column on Monday was b*ll*cks. This is true, and we are very sorry."


The Tories always aimed at owning a good piece of God's green earth, somewhere in the Shires, where they could lord it, noblesse oblige style, over a docile, obedient, loyal and grateful band of peasants. Who cares if neo-hippies will form the basis of this new order? It sounds like the party has moved back to its roots.


I suppose he could have been running a number on me, though what I did was basically ask him, "well what are you going to do about it" and let him run on - and that's what I got. I'm inclined to trust him on the Tory stuff because his dad is or was an elder brethren of that parish.


Surely 'all we have to do is wind the clock back' is nearly as much a retreat from reality as the 'it ain't happening' school of denial. As evidence for this, they haven't picked up on Thatcher's astounding record for electrifying railways (not that it was really down to her of course, but we're talking *politics* here, and Blair/Brown come off very badly in comparison so it's an easy point). It seems that the idea that technological progress = greenery hasn't permeated.

It occurred, apropos of this, that coping with permanently high fuel prices in London is going to be easier than back where I grew up in rural Suffolk. This also suggests that, if you're going to bother with them at all, eco-towns should be few and big.

Chris Williams

The moment I noticed that Monbiot had left the Green-by-reflex camp was when he started advocating a massive expansion of the inter-city coach system rather than more lovely trains.


Yes, he told me about it..and told me, and told me, and told me. Jesus, what happens to people when they get interested in transport? Why do they never seem to get just a bit interested in it?


he started advocating a massive expansion of the inter-city coach system rather than more lovely trains.

For what reason?


It's far cheaper to do that than expand the train network, you can make the coach system closer to door to door and you get a load of people travelling in one large fume emitting vehicle rather than travelling individually in loads of them. We're talking coach interchanges at every motorway junction, folks. I nearly came in my pants.


Boo. Me like lovely trains.

Chris Williams

I spend too much of my life hanging out at Milton Keynes Coachway to think of 'coach stations at motorway junctions' as anything other than an increase in the amount of Bad. OTOH, I'm not Bangladeshi.

Me like lovely trains too, but National Express charges me twice as much for them, compared to its coaches.


I remember, some years ago, nominating Milton Keynes Coachway as the single grimmest spot in Britain. I stick to that opinion.

Jasper Milvain

Seconded. It's one of the very few places in Britain that can make you wish you were closer to Milton Keynes.


Trains are more frequently electric than coaches. (Monbiot:coaches::Boris Johnson:Routemasters. Discuss.)

Demon: this is one of the reasons they love the West Lothian thang so much - a strategy based on sloughing off bits of the UK where nobody votes for them. This is also why I don't support Scottish independence; I don't want to be left with the Tories.

Chris Williams

Yeah cheers chaps - I'm about to have to cycle to the bloody place, and all I get to read is everyone agreeing how bad it is. Last year the cafe burned down, causing about thirty grand's worth of improvements.


"This is also why I don't support Scottish independence; I don't want to be left with the Tories."

I don't want to be left with the English, I mean the other English. Seriously. I can't quite articulate why except to say that for some reason we just don't seem to like each other on a really fundamental level: we'd slit our own throats to have the pleasure of bleeding on our neighbours carpets. Maybe this is why local identities are so strong. Being stuck in a country with all the other English...echh, like Huis Clos on a massive scale. I can't justify this in any detail. It just struck me one day when I was thinking about it.

Cling to your nearest Celt, that's what I say.


"Why do they never seem to get just a bit interested in it?"

I'm the world's worst person to answer this, but transport does have quite a few interesting relevancies to other areas of public policy, in that if you instinctively 'get it' about transport you're less likely to be wrong about other things*. At least that's my excuse to bang on about it. Bite me.

* there's no hiding place for Underpants Gnome theory** in transport, as Railtrack found out.

** Any public policy involving an unspecified magic stage, such as:
1) Invade Iraq
2) ...
3) Functioning Liberal Democracy!

Most of my criticisms of Blair boil down to hating this kind of thinking. It's also why I'm voting for Livingstone again, his criticisms of trickle-down economics (1) Cut Taxes 2) ... 3) Eliminate Poverty!) indicating that he has some idea of the concept. He also understands transport, of course.

Nick L

"Cling to your nearest Celt, that's what I say."

We'll always have the Welsh.

Chris Williams

If it's any consolation to y'all MK Coachway haters out there, today is its last day of operation before being completely improved/razed, to rise again in a few months time down the hill. Perhaps with fewer rats - who knows?

The worrying thing is, I almost feel nostalgic for it. Shit.


I trust photographs have been taken? A Facebook group begun?

Chris Williams

After this evening's final brush with the flooded Gents toilet at MKC, I think that I'll leave those tasks of C21st remembrance to the passive voice.

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