The Daily Telegraph kindly commissioned a major comment piece from me on Kyrgyzstan, which was published today.
It already seems to have fed through into analysis by the BBC’s resident correspondents, which is a good thing.
A few months ago I wrote this:
Personally, if I had the chance to live in any town in the entire world, plus the seventh circle of Hell and an oxygenless planet off Alpha Centauri, London still might be bottom of my list.
On sober reflection, I was understating it. I deeply, deeply despise London. You will imagine the depth of my hatred if I tell you that, given the choice between eradicating London and eradicating Tony Blair, I would only opt for eradicating Tony Blair because it’s easier.
My only fixed appointment today was a simple interview shoot in Shoreditch, taking no more than half an hour. But I set off before noon and returned about six, spending five and a half hours in travelling from Acton to Shoreditch and back. I had walked to West Acton station by noon; spent one hour in going two stops to White City, where the train was terminated due to signals failure at Shepherd’s Bush. Central Line closed: on to the always disgusting, sepulchral Hammersmith and City line. That was only the start of a terrible, terrible return journey, of which the other chief highlight was a 27 minute wait for buses going down Hangar Lane.
Why do we put up with it? Tube systems in Paris, Warsaw, Brussels, St Petersburg, Moscow and Tashkent are infinitely more reliable than ours. My particular hatred is at the weekend, when all of the system that goes anywhere you might want to be shuts down completely, and all the stations continually announce “There is a good service apart from planned engineering work”.
What the **** does that mean? “You can’t go anywhere, connections across the city are shut down, we are out for 60 hours, but it’s OK because this is planned total failure, not spontaneous total failure.”.
Does it make any difference to me if London Underground had planned to be total crap, or if they are doing it accidentally?
This has been going on for a decade. Billions upon billions of pounds have been ploughed in, extravagant foreign managements have been imported en masse. But I still can’t get on the Central Line from West Acton to Liverpool St.
I hate London. There is no city on earth in which a family with an income of £30,000 per year would enjoy a worse standard of life. The private goods are too expensive and the public goods are worse managed than in the poorest third world country. There are much worse systems in third world countries, but billions upon billions less have been pumped into them. For value for money public services, nowhere is worse than London.