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Dumb Americans

We took the 2 PM coach from Victoria to Bath. There were 22 passengers so everyone had plenty of room next to them. We had a very pleasant driver. Most of the National Express drivers are very pleasant and accommodating. I always make a point of greeting them and appreciating the work that they do. Driving up and down motorways every day for a living doesn’t strike me as an easy thing to do. However, on with the story

Two Americans had joined the coach and were sitting in the row behind me. They were in their 60s. I’m going to describe them in some detail because it sums up all that I find profoundly irritating about the American mindset.  The man had a cane and dark glasses. He was led by the woman as if he were blind. After a time I saw him looking around like everybody else.  I was using my Galaxy to track the route and I decided to keep them in touch with progress since they wanted to get off at Chippenham. Without thinking, I showed the tablet to them and I noticed that he could quite easily read the small print. Why the show of the cane and the dark glasses? OK I do know the difference between peripheral vision and the ability to read print but he seemed to be aware of everything around him. I have macular degeneration in my left eye and it is not possible to read if you have this condition.

The woman announced loudly enough for everyone to hear that she enjoyed reading Vanity fair magazine and read everything about Donald Trump. There was no feeling of talking to someone but at somebody.

Three times they explained to me they had to get off at Chippenham and there were a choice of two places. Three times I told them to look out for the people that were picking them up and then get off. The man asked me when we were going to pass Swindon and I said that was not even on the route. The woman had the phone number of their contacts but did not want to call if it included the prefix 0044 as she thought she would have to pay more. I said this was part of the protocol and would not affect the price of the call.

The woman acted as if I had not spoken. The reason she did not act was that the information did not figure with what she had previously understood and there was no way she was going to trust a stranger. In general I find that although Americans will ask advice, they will do exactly what they planned to do in the first place and that an attempt at any form of advice giving is simply a waste of time. Anyone with a contrary view about what I have just said I would love to hear from you.

The man asked me where I was from and I said I was from Midsomer Norton, South of Bath. He said he had been living in Cologne and said, “I bet you have never heard of that place”. I was able to respond rather sarcastically, well actually I lived there for six months. Americans are famous for not knowing where other countries were. I saw a college student, and I use that word in its broadest sense, mark France as Australia on a blank world map. I have noticed that the focus points of the average American are very narrow indeed and consist entirely of features that are of benefit to their own comfort zone and to which they can relate.

The ability to think out of their box is – putting it mildly – impaired. In a way I do not blame them. The sheer battering from hours and hours of TV, Main Stream Media controlled by corporations, the enormous amount of advertising for drugs, chemicals in junk food, the dependency on pills and pharmaceutical products, political correctness would dumb down anyone but the most determined. If you think it’s bad in the UK try the USA. It’s amazing anyone can still think. Most of them have given up. So if you believe that the average American can put themselves in your shoes and empathise without reference to their own world view you are going to wait a long time. It is the ultimate self-centred society and alas shows no signs of changing.

You may say that you know some wonderful American people and I have to agree. I could give you a list of philosophers, social change agents, courageous people who stand up for the truth, people imprisoned and beaten up for their beliefs, people with a sparkling fast mind, but these are the exceptions not the rule. South Africa is described as the rainbow nation except that with President Zuma around there isn’t much rainbow left. We can describe America, politely, as a country of contrasts. I wish the best of good fortune to anyone who can still think particularly in America but also in this country where thinking is going out of fashion.

Anyway back to the couple. They got off at the first stop in Chippenham without any sight of the people who were supposed to be greeting them. Someone came forward and took their baggage. It appears that they knew all the time that the person was going to be there and were just getting hysterical and panicky. These people are so easy to manipulate it’s embarrassing to see but then with the talk of fear and terror in the media every day I suppose this degeneration of their psychologies is inevitable.

<rant over>

 

 

The cold, Dulwich picture Gallery

Wednesday 18 May 1664

Up and within all the morning, being willing to keep as much as I could within doors, but receiving a very wakening letter from Mr. Coventry about fitting of ships, which speaks something like to be done, I went forth to the office, there to take order in things, and after dinner to White Hall to a Committee of Tangier, but did little. So home again and to Sir W. Pen, who, among other things of haste in this new order for ships, is ordered to be gone presently to Portsmouth to look after the work there. I staid to discourse with him, and so home to supper, where upon a fine couple of pigeons, a good supper; and here I met a pretty cabinet sent me by Mr. Shales, which I give my wife, the first of that sort of goods I ever had yet, and very conveniently it comes for her closett. I staid up late finding out the private boxes, but could not do some of them, and so to bed, afraid that I have been too bold to-day in venturing in the cold.

This day I begun to drink butter-milke and whey, and I hope to find great good by it.

I don’t know whether it has escaped your attention but we’re talking about a fairly spirited individual wondering if he has damaged himself by venturing out in the cold. Here, we have mid May. We may take for granted such things as damp proofing, ventilation systems, building regulations in general but obviously these things were troubling to our worthy diarist.

Today was the last day of my trip to London which coincided with the repair my computer which now seems to be flying along ably enough. We visited the West Dulwich Picture gallery which is celebrating its second centenary in this summer. It was founded in 1817. It is a small but beautifully proportioned gallery that has special exhibitions from time to time. It attracts the upper-class wives of the business people who can afford to live in this very expensive area where it is almost impossible to get a decent house for less than £1 million.

The gallery is currently showing works by Vanessa Bell (1879 to 1961). I note that this gallery is self funded and enjoys no subsidy either local or national. However, to charge between £11.50 and £12.50 for the contents of one corridor seems to be a little bit out of proportion. The blockbuster David Hockney in the Tate Britain which is about to finished at the end of this month of May 2017 costs if I recall £17.50. I understand the Bell exhibition like all others has start-up costs but I do feel that the charge point is a little bit full.

For those of you who have not been before, there is an excellent cafe adjacent to the gallery itself, a workshop room, another exhibition room, and a lovely little miniature Park which I would thoroughly recommend you take a look at. Most of this part of Dulwich is owned by Dulwich College where my father had the fortune to be educated. it was created in 1619, contemporaneous with the life of Samuel Pepys. the annotations are quite scholarly and there is no doubt that the art lover will discover much to exercise them.

A model of the original building preceded by a comment

a model of the original building
a scholarly if brief introduction to this picture
please compare the presence and dignity of this image with the one below. Spot the differences. Limit your comments to one side of A4