A Japanese living in London writes anything about everyday life in UK – cafe, restaurant, design, stores, politics, news, events, art/museums, films, food, fashion, travel etc. イギリス暮らしもかれこれ10年。カフェ、レストラン、デザイン、お店、政治、ニュース、イベント、アート／美術館、映画、食、ファッション、旅行等々、ロンドンでの日常生活や、英国に関する情報を思いつくままに綴ります。
Yesterday, the Times launched “Save Our Cyclists” campaign, after its 27-year old young journalist (a woman in the photo below)’s tragic cycle accident putting her in coma since November last year (→detailed story). Now one-third of adults own a bicycle in UK, and 13 million people ride a bike regularly. Since 2001, 1,275 cyclists died on British streets, and since 2009, the number of serious injuries and deaths involved in bicycle has been rising, and 104 people in 2009 and 111 people in 2010 have died while riding a bike. The latest data shows there were 1,850 deaths or serious injuries in the first half of 2011, a 12% rise on the year before. In London on average, 16 people die on their bikes every year.
The government’s effort to improve road safety (see my blog on 2009/07/29 and 2010/03/10), however, hasn’t produced much results and there is no visible attempt such as better bicycle lanes (except bicycle super highway that is no use for me) – how possibly person in charge believe that promotion video online that many cyclists have never checked or cycle training course that only few people know would make a big difference?? In fact, London is a lawless and dangerous zone for many cyclists: full of large vehicles such as bus, trucks, and white vans; obnoxious taxi and mini-van drivers and motorcyclists in hurry; and reckless cyclists with racing bikes going everywhere without paying attention around. I often encounter a danger or near-miss when on bike, so I use my bike only when needed and choose a road with less traffic as possible. But I am not the only one who is scare of riding a bike in London – there are many bikes with dust on top, obviously not used for long time, in the premise of the building where I live. What a waste.
The times campaign puts up 8-point manifesto, calling for cities to be made fit for cyclists, such as mandatory safety equipments for trucks, identifying and redesigning of dangerous road junctions, more budget for cycling infrastructure etc. According to a Telegraph article, several studies show that the more cyclists there are, the fewer get hurt, as drivers become more aware of cyclists. 2012 London Olympic is coming in half a year and more people are expected to visit the city. As a result, more visitors will hit the road with Boris rental bike, so it is imminent for London to tackle with road safety for cyclists, for its reputation.
誰かが掲示板に書いていたのを見たのだが、3月19日付のタイムズ紙に「Feel pity, but no need to give（同情するけれど、援助する必要は無い」という記事が出ていたそうだ。オンラインでは有料メンバーしか紙面を読む事ができないのでリンクは貼れないのだが、Disaster Emergency Committee（DEC：海外における主要な災害に対して効果的な人道支援を実施するための、独立した人道支援機関間のネットワーク）が、ハイチ地震の際のようなキャンペーンはしない、そして「イギリス赤十字はこれまで200万ポンドの義援金を集めたけれど、日本赤十字から海外からの援助は必要はないと言われた」とコメントした。
There was upsetting article on the Times last Saturday with the headline, ’Feel pity, but no need to give.’ In the article, Disaster Emergency Committee (DEC) comments that they don’t do a campaign like they did for Haiti, because the British Red Cross has raised £2 million for the Japanese Red Cross, which has a leading role in the disaster response, but, the Japanese charity itself said: “External assistance is not required.” I can’t link to the article, as only the paid member can read the Times online .
In response to the article, someone on the British Democracy Forum wrote “The Japanese have never liked aid from foreign countries, indeed if Japan had its own way it would cut itself off from the world. The Japanese are a proud nation of people (albeit a very sick one) and will never accept outside interference or help. Busy bodies should mind their own business and get on with it.” It is quite depressing to read such a negative (and stereotypical) comment about Japan.
However, the Japanese Red Cross insists that what the article says is not true. They contacted foreign Red Cross and informed that they accept any fund raised by Red Cross in each country. Japanese Red Cross also promised that they would be going to use all the money raised by the British Red Cross for victims suffered by the Tohoku earthquake and Tsunami in Japan.
Some people say that there is no help necessary as Japan is one of the richest countries in the world. But I belive that helping people, no matter rich or poor, who are going through great hardship is universal, and it is the virtue of human being. Financial Times (FT.com) raise the issue why poor countries such as Afghanistan and Vietnam are sending cash to the rich country like Japan. And it concludes that acts of generosity and solidarity that will not be forgotten – it is not the money, it’s the principle. I completely agree. The thoughts count, and the sympathy and compassion are great encourage for the people suffering. It doesn’t have to be money, that’s why many Japanese were moved by the Independent’s “Don’t Give Up Japan, Don’t Give Up Tohoku” cover, but money is one of a way to show your compassion. Japanese have a word “on-gaeshi,” which means “paying back to the kindness received”– they appreciate your help and will never forget what you do for them, and surely will return the favor you give them when you need help. Of course this is not only Japanese value but also universal, and goodwill will circulate itself – isn’t it beautiful? I will never forget the help Japan has received from so many people abroad, and I will help someone somewhere when it is necessary, as much as I can.
去年、コッツウォルズ旅行の際に使った、Mr & Mrs Smithのキャンペーン（参照エントリー）、今年はタイムズ紙とタイアップ、イギリス国内とヨーロッパを中心にした70のスタイリッシュなホテルに、2泊で1泊分の値段で泊まれる、お得な「Times 2 for 1」キャンペーンをやっている。このキャンペーンを利用するには、日曜を除く先週土曜日から今日までのタイムズ紙に掲載されたパスワード6つの中から3つを集めないといけないのだけれど、お許しをもらって、ここにパスワードを書かせてもらえた。ウェブサイトの中程にあるパスワード欄に、boutique/luxury/seductionの3つのパスワードをインプットして「submit codes」をクリック。そうすると、リストにある希望のホテルをオンラインで予約することができる。また、電話でも予約を受け付け可能。予約は11月30日が締め切り、1月9日までに宿泊を終える事が条件なので、予約はお早めに。
Mr & Mrs Smith‘s “2 for 1 nights” campaign that we used for last year’s Cotswolds trip comes back this year (see related post), teamed up with the Times this time as “Times 2 for 1“. With this great two-for-one offer, you can stay at one of the 70 stylish hotels listed, mainly in the UK and Europe, for two nights with the price of one night. The rule is to collect three of six passwords printed in the Times from the last Saturday till today, except Sunday. But here, with a permission, I can tell you the passwords – hurray! Go to Mr & Mrs Smith’s web page and type boutique/luxury/seduction in the password sections, and click “submit code” – and you are able to book a hotel of your choice online. Alternatively you can book online if you prefer. Just don’t forget that bookings must be made by 30 November 3o, 2010 for stays up to January 9, 2010.
Mr & Mrs Smith also publishes hotel guides, as well as hotel reservation service. This is Mr & Mrs Smith Hotel Collection: France, published in July this year. You can find 32 fabulous accommodations carefully selected in 12 destinations, from Paris’ contemporary hotels to gorgeous châteaux and cosy country side villas, together with beautiful photos and useful local information. The layout of the book is quite sophisticated, and I love the touch and smell of its uncoated papers. When I look at those pretty hotels, I feel an urge to pack my suitcase right now and go on vacation tomorrow!
この番組に先立ち、タイムズ紙でも、ロイヤルメールに関する面白い記事を見つけた。タイムズのチームは、宝くじ入り（£1相当）の100通のバースデーカードを全国の宛先に送り、どのぐらいの確率で配達され、配達までにどのぐらい時間がかかるか、そして宝くじはちゃんと封筒に入ったままかを調べる実験を行った。半分はファーストクラスで、そして半分はセカンドクラスで発送（郵便に関する詳細は過去エントリー参照）。そして半分は糊付して、半分は開封したまま封入口を中にたくし込んである。その結果は、宝くじ入りで届いたのが93通、3通は未達だった。92％のファーストクラス扱いは翌日着、98％セカンドクラス扱いは2日以内に配達先に到着した。私は、イギリスでこの数字は上出来だと思うのだが、タイムズ紙の記者は「Royal Mail can no longer be trusted（ロイヤルメールはもはや信用できない）」と手厳しい。ロイヤルメールには、1日5000件の苦情が届くそうだ。私も過去に数回行方不明になった手紙・小包がある。ロイヤルメールの経営陣も、組合との対決が怖くて（イギリスでは組合は非常に力を持っている）、事態改善には及び腰だと言う。
I saw Channel 4‘s “Dispatches: Post Office Undercover” today. Dispatches is the current affairs documentary series, started in 1987. The program covers issues such as British society, politics, health, religion, environment, and international current affairs, usually featuring an undercover journalist in an organisation. BBC‘s Panorama is the same kind of documentary series, but the running time of Panorama is just 30 minutes, and Dispatches can dig an issue deeper as it is an one-hour program.
Though I don’t go to a post office as often recently, I go there quite often and am quite interested in the post office related topic. Dispatches went undercover to investigate the Royal Mail, to reveal some problems such as stealing of mails etc in 2004 and 2005, resulting in an enquiry by the postal regulator, followed by a fine of almost £10 million. The program sent two reporters go undercover again to find out if the Royal Mail has delivered on claims that it is modernising and improving its service. The result is… no improvement from 5 years ago; poorly trained agency workers, damaged and defective equipment, inadequate ID check and security, theft from the letters and packages, angry members of the public who have experienced damaged mail, delays and poor service, lack of modernization like automated sorting system, workers’ frustration against pay and working times and the management, sabotage of work as a result, and the Royal Mail’s same old excuse and criticism against Channel 4 . The claimed modernization costing £1.3 billion is nowhere to be seen, and postal experts raise the alarm against the Royal Mail.
I found an interesting article on the Times few days ago, related to this program. The Times Money team sent 100 birthday cards with a National Lottery scratchcard worth £1 to the addresses across the country, to discover how many of them would arrive, how long they would take, and if any of the scratchcards would go missing: half of the cards 1st-class, and the rest 2nd-second class (see more details in my past entry about the mail service), and half of the envelopes were sealed and half were left unsealed but with the sleeve firmly tucked in. The result is: 93 arrived with their scratchcards and 3 letters did not arrive. 92% 1st class mails arrived the next day, and 98% 2nd class arrived within 2 days. I thought the number is not bad at all as of UK service, but the Times journalist harshly conclude as “Royal Mail can no longer be trusted.” The Royal mail receives 5,000 complaints everyday, according to the Times, and I have experienced missing mails several times in the past.Insiders at Royal Mail say that management’s failure to act is in part rooted in a fear of implementing any measures that might be perceived as unfairly targeting the innocent majority of staff.
Of course, most of the posties do their job seriously with sense of responsibility, but there is no way that few bad apple comes into the large corporation like the Royal Mail (especially in big cities like London). But the most striking issue I find in the program is the strong mistrust among workers against the management, and their lack of motivation. There is no sense of pride to be a postal worker or loyalty to the Royal Mail. Although the postal strike threat before the Christmas was avoided by the agreement between the management and the unions, the frustrated workers failed to met up their job and caused major delays in delivery during the busy season. The post offices where the two journalists went undercover are in Brixton and Tooting, where are not the best areas of London, but I think the biggest problem is the Royal Mail’s lack of leadership to raise the motivation among the workers. Where is the good old proud postmen, like Postman Pat??
English National Opera（イングリッシュ・ナショナル・オペラ／ENO）で、ヘンデルのメサイア（Messiah）を観た。イエス・キリストの生涯を描いたオラトリオの名作・メサイアは、もともとオペラの楽曲ではないのだが、気鋭の演出家・Deborah Warner（デボラ・ワーナー）によって、現代社会を舞台に、ダンスを取り入れたユニークなオペラ作品に仕上がった。衣装も小物も現代風、時折舞台後方のスクリーンに宗教画が映されたり、キリスト教の儀式に使われる小道具が劇中に出てくる程度で、キリストの物語にも関わらず宗教色は強くない。ティーンエイジャーの妊娠はマリアの処女懐胎、天使が羊飼いにキリスト降誕を告げる場面は、お遊戯会で子供たちがその場面を演じる形に、キリストの磔刑シーンは、若者の喧嘩に変えるなど、原作と繋がりを持たせようとしているが、ちょっと無理があるかも。キリスト教の学校に行っていたので、ある程度の知識はあるのだが、舞台上で起こってることと音楽とどう繋がりがあるのか分からず、後でタイムズ紙のレビューを読んで、ああそういうことだったのかと得心した。
We saw Handel‘s Messiah at the English National Opera (ENO). Messiah was not written for opera, but the director Deborah Warner transforms this oratorio masterpiece into an unique opera work, setting in modern urban life and taking in dance elements. The opera seems to reduce religion to a minimum – costumes and stage sets are modern, except the religious arts occasionally projected on screens and some ceremonial objects used in some scenes. The director tries to make a connection between the original story and this opera, but the attempt unfortunately doesn’t not really work well and quite cheesy: the Virgin Birth becomes teenage pregnancy, the meeting of shepherds and angels is turned into a school nativity play, and Christ’s scourging and Crucifixion translate into a fight among youths. I went to a Protestant school and know a bit about the life of Jesus Christ, but I barely understood the relationship between the music and what was going on on the stage. I figured out the meaning of some scenes after I came back home and read the review by the Times.
The biggest problem for me was the kids in the opera – I know it is not their fault but it was just annoying. A 6 year-old boy was almost always on the stage, walking around, running or sitting down, and it was very distracting. The scene of school play was really irritating as well, except a song by a boy with beautiful clear voice: the kids jumped up and down and the parents took a pictures or filmed with camcorders. It is reported that the opera uses 44 extras other than singers, including dancers. Some people just stand up or lie down – is it really necessary to put useless people on the stage??
However I I like Handel and Baroque music and enjoyed the music a lot: the Handel specialist conductor Laurence Cummings led the orchestra beautifully and voices of the two female soprano and alto singers were truly graceful. The modern and simple stage sets designed by Tom Pye were interesting, such as video footage of modern society (people going up and down on an elevator, or silhouettes of moving cranes) and transparent coffins placed all over the stage at the final part. We got a ticket, original price of £71 for only £10 with Evening Standardpromotion – so it was really worth going. But I would be upset if I paid £71 for the opera…