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Friday, July 29, 2005

I’m not very focused on blogging at the moment, what with my real life making quite some demands, but I am at last trying to give this blog a proper focus and have made my by-line a bit more meaningful. Admittedly it’s still rather more aspirational. . .
But to keep this site alive I though I’d post about some things that caught my attention in London today.

Saw some volunteers of Shelter. The motto on their t-shirt is “bad housing wrecks lives”. Won’t disagree with that, but Shelter’s main task is to fight homelessness, rather than bad housing, and it sends out a rather confusing message. Which is a shame because homelessness is a real problem as a look this city around will confirm. “Bad” housing is a rather subjective term in the end.

Took the no11 down Whitehall. There are Union Jacks flying from all the lampposts. I don’t know how recent an addition this is, as I don’t normally travel through there. Does anybody know whether they’re staying up? I hope so. Beyond giving my patriotic heart warm feelings, the flags also introduce some much-needed colour into Whitehall, which would aesthetically be more aptly described as Greyhall.

Saw the new monument that is up, “To the women of World War Two”. Sorry to say this, but I don’t like it. It is too big, too plump and in the wrong place. Leaving aside whether there should be such a monument to begin with. Who does it commemorate after all? People who had the bad luck to be caught up in a war, but who due to being adult and female somehow warrant special attention. Sorry again to say this, but children and old men suffered and served on the home front just as much as the women did, and they won’t be getting a monument, simply because that would not serve any cause of identity politics. Monuments should either be individual, entirely universal or dedicated to those who purposefully put themselves at risk for the greater good.

Which brings me on to the fairly new memorial to fallen police officers. Now this is an entirely different story. After all the police volunteer to serve, and given the risen importance of policing for national security it is also timely that their sacrifices should have a proper representation. Unlike the WW2 women one, this elegant Lord Foster-designed memorial is neatly tucked away in a quite space between Horse Guards and the Mall. This is a memorial I like, even though I should admit that I wouldn’t have suggested it myself.

It is true that there’s quite a lot of armed police out and about, but personally I think it’s good there’s more police on the street. That said that depends where you encounter them. Out in the exurbs where I grew up and most of my family live, I would find the presence of police anywhere, let alone sub-machine gun wielding ones on public transport, distinctly threatening. And in case you’re scared they might gun you down because of confusing you with a Brazilian electrician, err, suicide bomber, London transport are trying to give you tips how to stay alive . . .

After last week’s rather less pleasing offering, the New Statesman is trying to redeem itself this week, with a cool-designed cover “Why Britain is Great”. Mind you, not yet bhaving read the article I wonder if there are going to find rather other things great about this country, than, say, last week’s Spectator did . . .

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