Northern Crossrail

I’ve forgotten who it was that suggested it, but yesterday I heard an idea which I think is worth repeating here. Now that, strikes aside, Crossrail is up and running, perhaps it’s time to move the country’s focus north and start work on a new railway between Liverpool, Manchester and Leeds. The new line would run overground between the cities, but go underground, Elisabeth Line-like, when it reaches the cities themselves. This way, trade between the three northern powerhouses would be boosted, and they could potentially start functioning like one large financial district.

I think this is an excellent idea. It’s becoming more and more obvious that colossal amounts of money are being spent on London’s redevelopment, but the rest of the country is just being forgotten about. Perhaps because it’s a famous world city and cultural hub, London gets all the attention to the detriment of anywhere else. Maybe beginning work on a new Northern Crossrail, the focus might shift north a bit, and parts of the country which have been relatively forgotten about compared to London might begin to boom.

To that end, I would like to add something to this idea: It has been a while since I wrote anything on here about the Olympics, but I’m still interested in it as the world’s biggest sporting and cultural event. If Liverpool, Manchester and Leeds become linked by a high-speed, high-capacity railway, why don’t they launch a joint Olympic bid, perhaps for the 2036 games? While I’m not completely sure how it would work logistically, it seems to me that it would be an awesome way to celebrate the new northern powerhouse. London got so much attention ten years ago in 2012; just think how much of the world’s attention and and esteem the three great northern cities could get, with athletes, spectators and media commentators whizzing between them on a brand new railway.

These are just ideas, of course: whether they actually have any legs or not is anybody’s guess. Having been born in Cheshire though, I’d love to see my old home area get the attention I now see London receiving. Whenever I ride on the tube or DLR, I wonder what things are like outside of the metropolis, especially for guys like me. Now that London has it’s fabulous new Elisabeth Line, it’s time for the so-called ‘levelling up’ to really begin.

The Right To Strike is Vital

As much a pain in the arse as rail strikes are, I support workers’ rights to take them. We need to stand up to the government as the cost of living rises higher and higher, while the tories lower tax rates for their rich friends. Without the right to strike, the proletariat is powerless. I doubt I’ll be going anywhere for most of the week, at least on the tube; but I stand wholeheartedly with those striking today. We are currently being bullied by a government of megalomaniacs, seemingly intent on taking British society back to the seventies, and treating the working class and public sector like shit. The tories must be reminded that society does, in fact, exist, and can stand up for itself.

Crossing the Thames with Mum, Dad and Aunt Toula

I heard in the news this morning that the Emirates Air Line cable car now needs a new sponsor. The ten year contract has now run out, apparently. The cable car is still one of my favourite modes of public transport, and as coincidence would have it, today was the day I went on it with my mum, dad and aunt Toula, visiting in celebration of the events I mentioned yesterday. It was a lovely little trip which we all enjoyed: I love how you can see for miles across the ever changing metropolis as you sort of float, suspended about three hundred metres up, across the Thames. When you follow it, as we did, with a lovely family lunch at the O2, you realise that things like the cable car are part of what makes London special. It may not be that popular or make much commercial sense; it may now be struggling to find a new sponsor. Yet I can’t help loving this iconic piece of modern London.

Happy Birthday Mum, Happy Father’s Day Dad

Today, of course, is father’s day, and while I didn’t note it here this year, it was my Mum’s birthday on Wednesday, so I would like to use this blog entry to tell my parents that I’m thinking of them both. Although we talk over the web quite regularly, I don’t physically meet mum and dad that often these days: I have my own life here in London, just as they have theirs. Yet I know they think of me regularly; I know I often worry them, just as I always have. I’d therefore like to assure them that I’m fine, that I love them both immensely, and that I’m looking forward to seeing them really soon.

Scrap the Eleven Plus (again)

Yesterday on YouTube I came across a video of a young American woman attempting to do the eleven plus practice exams. To be honest, if you ask me the Eleven Plus should have been consigned to history long ago: streaming children at the age of eleven is obviously just a way for the Tories to perpetuate class divisions. They have obviously reintroduced these exams in order to take us back to the dark days of social stratification. Under such a system, only kids who have parents with the time and resources to teach them, to make sure they are up to speed with english and maths, will have any chance of passing the test and getting into a decent school. It’s just a sickening way to set in stone the social inequality which lies at the heart of conservatism.

Watching the YouTube video yesterday, though, it became clear just how fucked up the Tory education system now is. The questions were staggering; there was no way I would expect a normal eleven year old to know such things: stuff like quite complex algebra, which I didn’t come across until I was fourteen or fifteen at least. Of course I’m not an expert in such things, so please take a look at the video I’ve linked to and tell me if I’m not being realistic. But surely streaming kids at such an early age according to whether they know such advance things only reinforces class inequality.

Why should we all have to sit back and watch as the Tories turn our society into a neo-Victorian hell where the rich, spoiled few oppress and exploit the disenfranchised many? I say again: none of these arrogant Tory arseholes are fit to be anywhere near government.

Wear Sunscreen

Just a short entry today, and I think I simply direct everyone here. Baz Luhrmann’s Everybody’s Free To Wear Sunscreen was one of my favourite songs when I was a teenager; I remember listening to it on the way to school. It popped into my head this afternoon for perhaps obvious reasons. It’s sweltering out there, and to be honest I’m starting to go a bit red, so a song about the necessity of wearing sun cream seemed rather apt. Mind you, it’s also a weird yet interesting piece of music which is probably worth listening to again.

I’m embarrassed to be a UK citizen

I’m not the kind of person who gets embarrassed very easily, after all the ridiculous things I have done over the years, but I must say I’m embarrassed to be a UK citizen right now. More specifically I’m embarrassed by our government. What they are doing in trying to deport refugees to Rwanda is appalling. These people are coming here looking for help, but the Tories want to deter them by threatening to send them to Africa. It’s a move obviously designed to appeal to their heartless, brainless voter base, relishing the opportunity to treat immigrants as inhumanely as possible. As an open, tolerant nation we ought to welcome whoever comes here looking for help; yet the Tories would turn us into a society of hate-filled xenophobes, suspicious of anyone who looks new or different. It’s an absolutely disgusting, truly embarrassing place to be in for any country, and only renews my already solid conviction that none of the people currently governing the country has any place being where they are.

Jealous Janeway

Kate Mulgrew really is a jealous bitch, isn’t she? The actor, who played Kathryn Janeway in Star Trek Voyager, is now talking about creating her own live action Star Trek spin-off series. Mulgrew is obviously jealous of Sir Patrick Stewart. She clearly thinks that if Picard got his own revival show, Janeway should have one too. But she’s oblivious to the fact that Janeway was not half as good as Picard: she didn’t have his gravitas or depth, and was frankly just an annoying cow. As an actor, Mulgrew had none of the pathos or depth Stewart brought to Trek: Where are her equivalent of episodes like The Inner Light or The Best Of Both Worlds? I also doubt she had anywhere near as much impact on fans, most of whom were, by the final seasons, frankly just watching Voyager to ogle Jerri Ryan, it had become so crap. Star Trek The Next Generation had episodes which stood with you and you remember; and included a cast which was lead by a captain who was three dimensional. Picard had flaws, but we admired him. The same could be said of Captain Ben Sisco in Deep Space Nine, especially by the latter three or four seasons. Yet Janeway and Voyager had none of that depth: both series and character were poorly written and lightweight. Thus as a Star Trek fan I think Mulgrew is being both arrogant and presumptuous here: if she thinks Janeway has the status of Picard, Kirk or even Sisco, she is gravely mistaken.