Tuesday, March 27, 2012

The reawakening of my political conscience

I used to be reasonably politically aware, and somewhat active. A solid diet of Radio 4, BBC News and the Observer kept me fairly up to date. I voted, and I knew why I was placing my tick in that particular box. I went on the odd Stop the War march and put fake parking tickets on urban 4x4s. Okay, I wasn't exactly Michael Foot, but I was, I'd say, engaged in politics. Less so as I hit my 30s and took up gardening, but I did stay interested and informed.

Then I moved to America. A country where I had the luxury of forming an opinion with absolutely no consequence: I couldn't vote and I wasn't going to be there for long anyway.

Sadly I didn't make the most of the opportunity. My opinions were a little vague. I wasn't terribly well informed you see. But I had good reasons for my ignorance. First of all, American news coverage is pretty indigestible. I got all my current affairs from The Daily Show and E! News. Secondly, well, it just wasn't any of my business, was it?

Now I am back and my opinion counts. I feel inside me the stirrings of the champagne socialist who has laid dormant these past few years. I can vote! I can put up window stickers! The Ecover-buying tumble-drier despising Green voter inside me is reviving.

I popped around to see my cat and the Activitist the other day, and returned home with a Sack Boris oyster card holder. The London Mayoral campaign is coming up, and I for one would like to see Boris Johnson removed from office.
I offered a Sack Boris wallet to TLOML but he refused, asking me why I wanted to sack Boris.
'Well', I said, 'Apart from the fact he's bone idle, and incomprehensively posh, there's that stupid vanity bus project.'
I explained my position.
My position, explained: Boris was elected on a ricidulous platform of 'bringing back the Routemaster', those open backed buses people get all nostalgic about. Our former Mayor 'Red' Ken Livingston had replaced them with bendy buses, which are equally exasperating to cyclists - try overtaking a bus that's 60 foot long, it's almost as bad as passing a Routemaster with idiots jumping off into the bike lane with gay abandon. However they take 50% more passengers, are much quicker at bus stops, and cost less to run as they don't need a conductor.
Having been elected as Mayor on this platform of bringing back the antiquated, expensive to run, Routemaster, 4 years and £11m later the Boris bus was launched. It has aircon (in a city where the temperature breaks 30 degrees centigrade for about a week each year). It has a back door that can be opened between stops so passengers can throw themselves in front of passing cyclists, but for health and safety reasons a bus conductor needs to be present to open the door. It is a silly bus.
'So,' I concluded, 'this bus is just a ridiculous vanity project. And it costs £1 million more than a normal bus.'

At which TLOML asked 'Is that per bus? Does it include development? What will it cost per bus once they've produced, say, fifty buses? How about the running costs?'
I had no answer*, so I mumbled something about how annoyingly posh Boris is, and changed the subject.

This is what happens when my passion and gut feel encounter TLOML's lawyerly precision.

I fear I may lose many arguments. Half an ear on Radio 4 and half an ear on the Activist will not be enough to withstand his questioning. Will we have to become one of those couples who don't discuss politics? It strikes me as funny that we discover this after 3 years of blissful compatibility. Blissful ignorance, more like.

Look out TLOML, the tumble drier wars are about to begin.

*I checked with the Activist and yes, that is per bus, which is the £11.4 development cost for the 8 buses built so far. It will go down if more are built. But they aren't terribly practical so there's no guarantee more will be built.

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