Aug 16, 2019
Our trip home was relatively simple compared with our trip to London from Sers. It only involved two modes of transit: airplanes and automobiles. We decided not to take the Heathrow Express. The cost of buying four tickets was roughly the same as the cost of hiring a black car to Heathrow. So, we took a black car, complete with London cabbie, from the flat to the airport and then caught our flight to New York. In New York, after we cleared customs, we had to transfer between JFK and LaGuardia. In order to save money I bought tickets from Houston to New York and then from New York to Europe rather than connecting flights through the airlines (I saved over $1,000 this way). We took a New York taxi and then flew home to Houston. Once there we hired a car service via an app and made it home around midnight. We were greeted by a happy cat (or at least loudly purring cat who couldn’t keep off of us if I refrain from anthropomorphizing him).
My blog posts about London are:
Many Happy Future Shocks to You
The Last Bottle in the Country
The Cat Owned the Flat
Reflecting on the Mass Shootings in Dayton, El Paso, Gilroy, and Southhaven from London
Since this is my last post on London, I want to close by praising London cabbies. In London, taxi driving is highly regulated. It is a solid middle income job and getting a job as a taxi driver requires passing a special test, called The Knowledge, and waiting for a few years for an opening (in order to get a job driving from one of the airports you have to be able to speak at least two languages as well). The Knowledge is nothing more than understanding how to navigate through London’s notoriously mazing streets. Cabbies pride themselves in having The Knowledge. And its benefits, even in the age of GPS, sometimes show themselves. On our way to the airport the GPS wanted us to go the wrong way down a one-way street--the street had been converted into being one way for the day. The driver ignored the GPS recommendation and got us to the airport 15 minutes before the GPS on my phone said we supposed to get there, all the while obeying the speed limit. It was an impressive, if minor, victory of man over machine. I am sure that at some point in the near future apps like Waze will outperform The Knowlege. But that moment has not yet come. When I commented on our arrival time to the airport the driver, as if on cue, told me, “It’s ‘cause I got The Knowledge, sir.”
Aug 4, 2019
News of the mass shootings in Dayton, El Paso, Gilroy, and Southhaven came as we were getting settled in London. I experienced it differently than I would have if I had been in the United States. I felt somehow removed from it and, at the same time, numb. It is clear by now that the ruling political party in the United States has decided that these mass killings are acceptable. And it is also clear that they will continue to happen at a horrifying rate. That is, unless something changes. And I am not certain where the movement to change gun policies would come from or how it would get past what seems to be the great political power of the NRA.
Right now, I am in a country that almost never has mass shootings. In the mid-1990s, after the Dunblane Primary School Shooting, the United Kingdom put in place serious gun control legislation. Since then the country hasn’t had a mass shooting that resembles any of the mass shootings that have taken place in the United States in the last week.
This simple fact is a reminder that the continuing presence of these shootings is a result of policy decisions that political leaders in the United States make. They could choose to regulate guns differently. And they don’t. And so, the shootings continue.
UUA President the Rev. Susan Frederick-Gray’s words capture most of the rest of my sentiments on the week’s tragedies:
We open our hearts to the people of Gilroy, El Paso, Dayton and Southhaven in compassion and heartbreak, anger and shock.
From our grief, may we find strength and courage to fight the systems that perpetuate this violence.
To that I’ll add an Amen.