So far this week, I've talked about things I miss most, and things I expected to miss but don't. Today, I'll tell you a few things I'm really glad to have got away from. (Watch out, Rude Word Zone ahead.)
- CCTV cameras. Over here I can walk down the street or drive my car anywhere I please without feeling like I've got the fucking Stasi watching me all the time. They have rednecks with guns here, and they have crazy-ass cops with heavy weaponry, and they're all paranoid about fanatical communist muslim terrorists who want to destroy their way of life and suspicious of foreigners, but they haven't let that erode their basic freedoms and way of life like we have. That alone makes me want to stay here, and not come back to the surveillance state Britain has become. It's hard to express how different it makes me feel, and almost impossible to do so without comparing Britain to Germany in the 1930s, invoking Godwin's Law, and having to censor myself. I'll settle for quoting Santayana. Those who do not learn from history...
- British politics. Gordon Brown. David Cameron. Some other bloke in the Lib Dems. Nick Griffin. Where's the leadership? Where's the inspiration? Where's the reason to vote for any of those self-centred useless fuckers? All they do is talk shit and give money to their City friends. At least the American banks are now paying their bailout back, not giving themselves big bonuses and demanding more money from taxpayers. And Obama is kicking people's butts every day to change America. He's the sort of politician we need in Britain - someone who can get people off their arses to make a difference. It scares me that the BNP may well get an alarmingly good result next election, just because they're the only party who actually appear to stand for something and want to make a real change. (Godwin again. Sorry.)
- The X Factor. Seriously, you guys still care? The RATM protest was interesting, but only because so many otherwise reasonable people thought it was important enough to stop Simon Cowell getting a Christmas Number One. So what? It matters about as much as who won Big Bleeding Brother or I'm A Celebrity Look At Me Making A Prat Of Myself.
- Cold, wet weather. It's snowing in England, and meanwhile I'm wearing shirt sleeves, and at Christmas I'm going to lie on the beach with rum & Coke. Snow's pretty and all, but words cannot express how happy it makes me feel not to wake up feeling cold and damp, not getting soggy feet trudging through slush, not having to swaddle myself in layers of sweaters, overcoats, scarf, hat and gloves just to go to the corner shop, and not arriving at the office feeling miserable with a cold red nose and a stinky cold. English winters - you can keep 'em.
- Car parking. Driving on English roads in general is pretty horrible. Taking a bike out for a blast round country roads is fun, but most of the time driving in England involves boring crowded motorways or being stuck in traffic jams in towns and streets originally designed for horses. And then when you eventually get where you're going, you have to spend ages trying to find a parking spot and end up having to leave the car miles away. Here, everywhere has plenty of parking space, and you just get out right where you want to be. And it's almost always free. We can park at least six cars on the driveways outside our house, and that's before we start parking on the grass. After Cambridge, where you're lucky if you can park just one car in your own bloody street half the time, and where parking your car at the office is something to fight over, that's a real luxury.
Tomorrow: things I like most about this place