The Thick of It


Monday, February 28, 2011

East London Line to Highbury and Islington

The East London Line began running to Highbury and Islington today. This means that I might start to socialise with some of my acquaintances from South London. Not only will it help me get around London it also illustrates a point about political planning.

Boris Johnson unveiled the extension today but it is actually the work of former Labour mayor Ken Livingstone. The new East London Line forms part of his vision for an orbital railway for London. This plan was formed during his first term but has only opened with one year left of Johnson's term. That shows how long it takes for transformational projects like this to come to fruition.

File:London Overground as a circle.svg

That mayor Johnson has ensured that there are no plans for any similar projects in London at the moment we will have to wait a long time before anything else like this improves the lives of Londoners again.  Crossrail wasn't Boris' to scrap. This leaves me slightly worried that there isn't a sustainable plan for keeping London moving in years to come. At least not with the Tories in charge there won't be.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Australian holidays

I'm now back in the UK after a few weeks visiting the family in Australia.I thoroughly enjoyed my time there and completely understand why so many people rave about the place.

I went to see England lose a One Day International at the SCG, watched Sydney FC play Wellington Phoenix at the Sydney Football Stadium and greyhounds race at Wentworth Park. The A-League is well set up though domestic league soccer still has some way to go in Australia before it becomes officially popular. The 45,000 capacity stadium was about 10% full for a match that I reckon compares to a slower paced English League One.

When I wasn't watching sport inevitably I spent time on Sydney's numerous beaches. Bondi was full of Japanese and English tourists, likewise Coogee. Balmoral was my favourite with its 1920s charm. After leaving Sydney's Taronga Zoo, worth visiting for the breathtaking views of the city alone, I walked along the coastal path and found a completely deserted beach, Whiting, which I then spent the afternoon on, completely to myself. It has views of the harbour, Opera House and when I swam out a little, the Harbour Bridge too. Unbeatable.

I also followed the impending New South Wales state elections with some interest. Labor has held the state since 1995 and is under considerable pressure to retain power. To me looking at it from afar I read both Labor and the Liberal party promising to build new rail new lines in Sydney and arguing over who would build the most. Labor seem to be apologising through their TV advertising for not having done enough with power too. When you get to that stage it looks like you are onto a loser. We shall see.

Monday, February 07, 2011

A rather nice long holiday

As those who know me will be aware I am currently in Sydney visiting the family. I also stopped off for a weekend in Malaysia on the way out for a wedding and whistle stop tour. I've not been blogging because I have been holidaying, but I have noticed a few things of note on my trip:

  • The high percentage of female political leaders in Australia is quite striking and very welcome (especially as most of them are Labor!)
  • A signer always seems to accompany politicians on TV when they speak, could we do this in the UK?
  • Political advertising on TV: I quite like it
  • People get drunk at the Sydney Cricket Ground on low strength beer
  • Kevin Pietersen gives "banter" back to the crowd: I quite like it