Saying that it (whatever “it” is) isn’t as good as when you were younger is something that us older people are prone to. It is probably a turn off for those who are younger as it is probably irrelevant to them. They live, as many of us do, in the here and now. Yet sometimes a combination of factors can hold a mirror up and show clearly how bad some things are in today’s world. I was witness to this recently.
The 390 bus route is now travelled by one of the newish “Boris” buses designed, I understand, by Thomas Heatherwick. Now, one of my small claims to fame is that Thomas was a friend of some of my friends I met him at parties. He seems a very nice bloke. Unfortunately, the bus isn’t nice. Indeed for me, its design encapsulates all that is wrong in today’s world. For a start, it looks very sleek on the outside. What I would call “very architectural”. Unfortunately, that’s as far as it goes. From then on, it’s all downhill. In, in contrast to this, the inside is drab and cheap looking while upstairs it is dark with no opening windows. Lastly, there is insufficient legroom, even for someone who is only 1.7m tall. It has two staircases and three exits/entrances in, what I assume, is the approximate length of previous double deckers. One of these is a platform at the rear which, sometimes, seems to need a “conductor”. Which brings me, neatly, to my second point.
I was travelling on the lower deck of one of these the other day when the “conductor” pointed out that there were two empty seats at the back where he was standing. With nothing better to do, I sat down and engaged him in conversation (something we older people are prone to do) and it seemed that he was in the early part of his shift and already bored. He then told me that this was the only job he could find even though he had a double first in Engineering! That confluence of events, ie glossy exterior, drab and badly designed interior with features that require someone extra just to oversee them and that person being highly qualified, seemed to sum up much of what is happening to our country. Is it surprising when we have a government that seems to think that, although it is in power to run the country, its role is not to drive the bus but to sit back and “let the market decide”. Funny that because, when I’m driving, I try not to let the other drivers determine where I’m going. If I had much hair left, I would be pulling it out in despair. Our young people especially, who by the way, had no hand in creating the circumstances in which we find ourselves, deserve better. But then, so does everyone else.