Chaos to Cosmos
The path from chaos to cosmos was discovered by telling one's life story

Wednesday, 18 June 2008

Fatty Fortress Britain ...

Gatwick International Arrivals

Gatwick airport may have just celebrated it's 50th Birthday, but the airport authority should spend the next 50 years getting the place consolidated: it's now so sprawling and disjointed, I felt like I'd walked to the UK from Tenerife. 

Then there was the interminable wait to be sneered at by the grumpy staff in passport control. We were, for all intents and purposes, a bog standard tourist flight full of (previously) happy holidaymakers; I was apparently returning to my own country even ... And yet we were lined up, told where to stand, eyed suspiciously and checked out like a bunch of criminals or illegal aliens. 

Welcome to F*cking Fortress Britain, I thought.

I reached out to grab my (relatively slim) suitcase off the carousel.

A coffee break ensued and I realized then immediately why the rate of obesity has quadrupled in the UK during the last 25 years. Just take the size of the coffee these days. What used to be served in cups, or even mugs (and those were probably overlarge), is now served in sodding great buckets.

It narks me, because there's no earthly way anyone needs coffee (or portions of anything) that size and, with millions starving, rising food prices, global food shortages, etc., it strikes me as criminally wasteful and gluttonous.

Please understand that I'm not dissing the coffee. Britain has, at least, learned to serve something half reasonable since I was last here, but the caffeine overload is a very worrying and they know how to charge for it too. Certainly wasn't surprised about the latter point, mind you. Subsequent observations of the Americanized "bottomless" this and "neverending" that everywhere and it's no wonder that around one in four men and one in three women in the UK are overweight, according to government statistics.

Well, hell, you don't need government statistics, you just need to look around. You hardly notice things when it's happening around you on an everyday basis, so maybe you won't have noticed how people in Britain have expanded, but after such a long absence, to me, it was shockingly obvious.

People are noticeably larger in the UK now and noticing people that large was something I'd not done since Disney World in Florida, back in 1980. And it was at Cypress Gardens in Florida that I'd first seen bucket sized soft drink servings. There has to be a connection between these things, you know.

Forget grumpy passport control. Just put the cafes before the entry point and make the doorways narrower. That should keep a lot of people out.

Actually, it's a wonder the obese don't die of heart attacks on the walkways!

On the other hand, remember the immense amount of paperwork I had to generate (with apologies to the entire forest of trees); another example of a "queue-creating, time-wasting, job-justifying madness" - this time on the part of the British - just to import two (quite portly) tabbies into the country ...

Well, we got lost, in the dark, trying to find Animal Aircare (somewhere in the arse end of the cargo sheds.) It's been moved to a new location apparently. We asked and were told that, it's 30 yards this way, then someone else told us it's 50 yards that way and, finally after walking back and forth among and along the cargo bays, balancing on ledges, a nice man took us to the right place. Well, I was still just looking for the place for the paperwork (release note), but we were taken straight to where the cats were and, were promptly handed them.

After all the performance and red tape, the animal control bloke said he hadn't even taken the cats out of the box, but that they "look alright". Indeed. 

Because, he said, "The little one's hissing at me." Is it any wonder?

Dunno about Kitty, but I felt like hissing at this point!

And then he gave me a "delivery note" for "TWO LIVE CATS".

Actually, I had specified tabbies and he said that was what I was going to get, 'coz that's all he had. Good to see British humour hasn't changed then!

Personally, I still reckon I should sue 'em under the Trade Descriptions Act. Since it's so bloody cold in this country, all the cats have done since they arrived is hide and curl up tightly under the bed covers. Were it not for the occasional snoring sound emanating from the corpulent one (that would be Balu), I'd say that LIVE was a most inappropriate term and a bit of a gross exaggeration!