Društvo| Putovanja

Strikes and Gardens

Chris Farmer RSS / 09.09.2010. u 14:26

LONDON, KEW. His Majesty King George III, loser of America to a unilateral declaration of independence, and raging loon brought on by porphyria (or so they speculate), was both a great proponent of its botanical gardens and detainee within the royal palace at Kew in the early 1800s.

Thusly do I follow in rather oddly assorted footsteps by my Tube-imposed sequestration here in Kew during the thirty-six hour long 24 hour strike of the London Underground. I do not complain; there are worse places to be sequestered (and let us not reopen the file on Slavonski Brod...).

However, I am not here to discourse on the Kings and Queens of England. Nor do I propose to give a guided tour through the Royal Botanical Gardens which I understand are spectacular and into which I did not enter under cover of rain.

Nor do I think I will focus on the irony of a post-revolutionary American being confined to Kew much like the once-detested monarch who never accepted the loss of the Colonies.

The Underground strike is what has fascinated me. Firstly, I was fascinated at my own bad luck for having chosen to come here in the week of the strike. Secondly, I was fascinated to see how this massive city can be effectively stopped in its tracks by the closing of its underground railway system. Kew Gardens is not far from Central London if you have access to the Tube or to a car, but Tuesday having neither, I was trapped here.

In those 24-36 hours, I got to know my neighborhood. The local Starbucks came to know my coffee habits without asking, the local rubbish collector having swept around me three or four times began to say hello to me as he passed, the shopkeepers began to recognize me. The transformation from visiting foreigner (where are you from, Russia?) to accepted temporary resident was amazingly fast.

Now that I am free to move about again, I am still spending time here in my adopted home in Kew. This would seem to be a form of Stockholm syndrome by proxy.... And I will be sorry to leave it again tomorrow night, even if I never find my way back to Kew again in my mortal existence.

The strike was also interesting in how much it was followed by the unions.

When strikes occur in Serbia, we can generally expect about half the people to ignore them, another quarter of the people not to have been informed about them, and the rest to use it as a day off. One or two loud guys will hold signs and march around.

But here a strike is a business. They organize themselves. They ALL adhere to the strike. They were forced by the City of London to keep about 40% of services running, out of concern for safety, but otherwise Tube workers were actively NOT working.

Most people found ways to get around - by bus and train and bike and boat - because that is the kind of Keep Calm and Carry On attitude most people strike up in London. I of course engaged in the throwing up of my Balkan-stained hands and lamenting.

It is what we do best, after all...


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jinks jinks 15:09 09.09.2010


Apart from being remembered by the things you have mentioned, King George III has made some astonishing achievements in the internal British politics.

He supported some groundbreaking research and development projects during his reign.

For example, he alone, when everybody else have refused to, remained to give support to the famous John Harrison who

invented the marine chronometer, a long-sought device in solving the problem of establishing the East-West position or longitude of a ship at sea, thus revolutionizing and extending the possibility of safe long distance sea travel in the Age of Sail.

Actually, by the divine intervention of King George III, the Age of Sail, in which Britain has became the world trading power and all around empire, has been made possible.

Without the Harrisons marine chronometer, Britain would have been only one of the many countries trying to make it at the sea. With the Harrisons watch, Britain became an empire.

Also, without the Harrisons Lesser watch, Del and Rodney at the Only Fools and Horses could have never become millionaires.

Even after his overwhelming illness was taking it's toll, King George III (in the time after America's independence, when kings in Britain still had great influence on the country's politics) has managed to calm down overgrowing internal political turmoil (caused by some irresponsible politicians who tried to use the weak state of country to arouse almost a revolution) through a series of brilliant political decisions (choice of the proper prime minister, choice of the appropriate political strategy against the turmoilers, etc).



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