Sunday, 22 July 2012

Sunny ride to Westerham

The 'thumbs up' totem pole that marks to top of the hill
outside of Westerham. Note the great view.
The sun was out again on Sunday 22nd July as Andy and I headed for Westerham – me without any effective rear braking system. It was a good ride (no puddles or wet roads) and when we reached Churchill's statue, we sat and watched various vintage cars roll by as there always appears to be some kind of gathering going on somewhere. The other week there were a load of old MG convertibles heading west along the A25. Today, not so much a rally, but one single AC Cobra, a blue one, owned by some old bloke (hold on, who are we kidding) in trendy shades and shorts. Later he sought the friendship of an even older bloke in an old MG (that looked like a Morgan). There's something about old men in sports cars that I find both sad and rather annoying. Sad because it's a hopeless situation: who are they going to pull at their age and even if they did, what would they do? Angering, because it's the way of the world: you never have enough money to relax and enjoy yourself until you're almost dead and gone, making me often wonder, what's the point?

We moved on to discuss the G4S fiasco and I suggested that the UK's general culture of incompetence is finally coming home to roost – watch out for more similar stories in the press over the coming months and years. The G4S thing has reinforced my view that a large chunk of the private sector is out for profit and profit alone, it wants to be paid, but it's not really prepared to put in the work and opts instead for a shoddy, 'that'll do' approach based on cutting corners and compromising safety just to save money. There are so many examples, large and small and in my opinion, Nick Buckles – he of the stupid hairdo – is just one 'senior manager' who shouldn't be in such a position. Somebody sack him.

Other themes touched upon included the Olympics and the general perception of the UK being like a badly run SME (small-to-medium-sized enterprise) with Cameron and Clegg as the CEO and MD respectively. None of the staff have much in the way of respect for them and often laugh behind their backs and now, as the company sports day approaches, everybody is secretly hoping that, somewhere, somehow, there will be a disastrous cock-up, London's transport network will come to a shuddering halt and chaos will ensue. Should this be the case, I'd imagine that all over the UK you will be able to hear a huge guffaw from the many disgruntled employees of UK PLC.

As we reached the top of the hill going out of Westerham, Andy took the shot accompanying this post. That totem pole thing is some kind of sign for Surrey Hills. I think it signifies the top of a hill as, in this case, it seems to be in the spot where the sensation of climbing ends and the bike can coast a few yards. I must point out that within yards of passing the totem pole, the climb continues to the roundabout at Botley Hill and only eases up as we head north along the B269 towards home. Further down there is a smaller wooden sign that marks the beginning of our climb towards Botley.

• Oh, and talking of people being let off, I note with disgust that PC Simon Harwood of Carshalton, Surrey, has been let off for pushing over, with some force, newspaper vendor Ian Tomlinson, an act that resulted in Tomlinson's death. Since Harwood's acquittal, details of his far from exemplary police career have been revealed and widely reported. A civil case is likely, but isn't this just another example of people who should be banged up and treated with the contempt they deserve simply being let off? More are in the pipeline: watch out for Rebecca and Charlie Brookes and, indeed, the British tabloid press as a whole. Leveson, of course, will be a complete and utter waste of time and money. Likewise the Murdochs will be 'pardoned' and anybody else who puts an incompetent foot wrong can rest assured that they will also walk off free men and women.

• What is the point of Select Committees and the Leveson inquiry when all they're doing is creating the perception that the Government is serious about cleaning things up, when the reality is more to do with being seen to be doing something, but not actually doing anything? They must think we're all idiots.

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