First, an apology for not blogging more. Had major trouble connecting to the wi-fi at the hotel again. After working on it for about an hour and harassing the Polish night clerk for half that time, back in my room I finally got on. My wife asked me what I did differently. I explained that I entered the username and password with my left hand that time. True, there were other things I did as well. But the only one I remember was entering the login info with my left hand. So… there could be trouble again tomorrow.
Now, to report on a bit of my day… the very first bit… I’ll write about how The Guardian did its best to spoil the typical “English breakfast” that I had this morning. OK, modified English breakfast. First, I was eating it at an Italian bistro near the hotel (but they advertised it as a typical English breakfast). Then, I asked them to leave out the eggs and the toast (because of my allergies), and to substitute chips. Other than that, quite typical — bacon (OK, it was like bacon in the Great White North, but that’s what they called it), sausage (or should I say “banger”?), fried tomato, mushrooms, and baked beans (with a bit of HP sauce on it). And a couple of espressos. (But don’t call it espresso. I made the mistake of saying “another espresso” to the waitress — I was going by the foam — and she corrected me saying it was “black coffee.” No, black coffee was what I had at Starbucks later in the day. Whatever.)
It really fortified me for walking about all day in typical English weather (something like 45-50 degrees, totally overcast, occasional mist — which I’m loving; I’d be so disappointed if it were sunny). And I enjoyed it thoroughly.
But it was very nearly ruined by reading The Guardian, which someone had left in the restaurant. Actually, as it turned out, it was a two-day-old Guardian. But I didn’t realize that until later.
I guess you could call this post my British version of my Virtual Front Page, which I haven’t done in awhile. So enjoy.
The biggest news today, by the way, has been England winning the Ashes in Melbourne. This, apparently, is huge, since they haven’t done it in 24 years. But just try understanding the coverage of it. For instance, try diagramming the two sentences in this paragraph:
England had arrived knowing that they required four more wickets, but notionally three for the crippled Ryan Harris was never going to bat: no tail-ender in a surgical boot has ever batted out more than five sessions to secure a draw and they were not about to find out. Eventual victory did not come easily however and Andrew Strauss and his men had to wait until 40 minutes before lunch before Matt Prior swooped on to an inside edge from Ben Hilfenhaus, a fourth wicket for Tim Bresnan, and the entire team, along with a corner of a very large foreign field that was England, were able to erupt in their collective euphoria.
I don’t think understanding the jargon would help; I’m pretty sure those sentences are nongrammatical. Maybe it’s the punctuation. Anyway, we move on.
In the Monday paper, I read about Elton John having purchased a child in California. But that didn’t make much of an impression. Then, I read truly shocking news: David Cameron has called off a free vote on lifting the ban on hunting with dogs. I especially enjoyed this quote from Cameron:
Cameron, a self-confessed “shire Tory”, has said he is a country man at heart and favours hunting, but he recognises it is a highly divisive issue and would play to negative stereotypes around his party.
Bloody do-gooders. Bloody leftist rag I’m reading about it on. I mean, what’s the use of having a Tory government (or a coalition government in which the Tories dominate), if you can’t restore riding to the hounds? I mean, is this England? I wonder if Cameron was so mealy-mouthed in The Times. Harrumph.
But seriously, folks, that’s not what upset me. What upset me was this story:
The government is to follow the lead of The X Factor television programme and allow the public to decide on legislation to be put before MPs.
In an attempt to reduce what is seen as a disconnection between the public and parliament, ministers will ensure that the most popular petition on the government website Direct.gov.uk will be drafted as a bill. It is also planning to guarantee that petitions which reach a fixed level of support – most likely 100,000 signatures – will be guaranteed a Commons debate.
Ministerial sources acknowledge that the proposals have the potential to cause headaches for the coalition because populist causes célèbres – such as a return of capital punishment or withdrawal from the European Union – could come top of the list.
The leader of the Commons, Sir George Young, has signalled he wants to press ahead with government by petition in the new year.
There would be no guarantee that the government would support the most popular proposals but, subject to discussions, there would be an agreement that the issues would be converted by parliamentary draftsmen into a bill…
My God, direct democracy? Worse, reality-TV-style direct democracy. In Britain? I got here too late.
And I thought American politicians were the kings of pandering. Obviously not. I suppose this is what they mean when they say travel is broadening.