We’ve just got back from a recent holiday to Southern California. We did the Route 1 trip down from San Francisco to San Diego and eventually had 2 days racing at The Breeders Cup in Del Mar. It was a lovely trip and one that I last did 40 years ago. That’s a bloody long time ago and quite a few Kronenburgs have passed under my bridge since then.
I like America and Americans, they are generally more friendly, polite and respectful than us Brits but I was struck by the level of homelessness that has transformed their city centres. In San Francisco there are a number of blocks where the inhabitants most resemble zombies – the living dead – hundreds upon hundreds of them wandering around trance like with a shopping trolley containing their worldly possessions. Even in the financial district and upmarket retail areas as we walked down to the farmers market in every doorway lay a relatively lifeless bundle of person. We witnessed the same phenomenum in Los Angeles and San Diego. The Californians rationalise this as a direct result of it being warmer in California so that tramps congregate there. The lack of some kind of safety net in the Land of plenty and the home of the brave is shameful.
The other amazing aspect of this was that the rest of society, suitably suited and booted just walks alongside or next to the zombies with the two groups completely ignoring each other as if they exist in some kind of parallel world.
Our experience in the USA was further brought into focus last week by the comments from the departing London bureau chief of the New York Times. Steven Erlanger said that our island is undergoing an identity crisis and is engaged in a “controlled suicide”. Our country is apparently “hollowed out” , “deeply provincial” and having a ” nervous breakdown”
Whilst we might despair at the poor judgement displayed by many of our senior politicians on all sides, Erlanger failed to mention that the UK is still the 5th largest economy in the world , unemployment is lower than any time since the 1960’s, we are the most generous charitable givers in Europe, there are 1.8milion more kids being taught in good or outstanding schools than 2010. The UK has less healthcare inequality than most other nations. Heroin use is going down. Happiness ratings have risen in the past year.
As long as you don’t dwell too much on the Daily Mail or the Evening Standard the list of positive news is full and very long indeed- we have much to be thankful for and I’d rather live in the UK than anywhere else – if only for the decent beer in a pub, a lovely cup of tea and the warm glow of an afternoon with friends at The Valley.
I think Mr Erlanger might have a shock when he goes home and heaven forbid should he get ill or lose his job.