The reason I bring up the 'national cycleway' is that I was recently talking to a 'source' in a ministry who had had something to do with the proposal. He (or she) intimated that the plan was a bit of a joke in the ministry: a kind of desperate offering to a government demanding some visible scheme the nation could rally around. Just yesterday I was watching an episode of the brilliant BBC political satire 'The Thick of It' and thought that it captured the situation of the bureaucrats nicely (you can watch it here, from about 5.29). Forced by the prime minister's media mastermind to drop his policy on benefit fraud, but on the way to a major press conference to announce it, the Minister for Social Affairs and his advisers must come up with an alternative announcement in the back of the car:
Hugh: What about zoos? My kids went to the zoo the other day and they said it was fucking disgusting. You know, the state of it....(Pause.) That's shit, isn't it.
Glenn: No, no, but there is an idea there, because in the middle of the city you've got wild animals.
Glenn: What if everybody had to carry a plastic bag? By law. You know how the identification cards are coming in...
Hugh: You've fucking cracked!
You dirty ape: Please forgive my current obsession with zoos, but I don't write the news, I just rage at it. In the world section today, AP reports on a chimpanzee in a Swedish zoo that, evidently rather sick of its lifestyle, calmly and over a period of time gathered a collection of small stones which it then threw in a fit of rage at leering zoo visitors. In an interesting twist, the article describes Santino's behaviour as "anti-social", when surely this kind of interactive behaviour is precisely what the modern zoo ought to be about - not to mention that this is just about as social as the behaviour of a caged chimpanzee can get. Put aside the puerile puns - the chimp "apes human behaviour" with its "guerilla tactics" - and what you have is a rather sad story about quite an intelligent creature locked up and pointed at. Ladies and gentlemen, I present you: zoos. But elephants are totally different, right?
Vivawatch: In a new approach to Vivawatch, I will simply quote passages from Viva without commentary. Not only do I feel that it is largely unnecessary, it nicely complements Viva's approach of just running ads masquerading as articles without adding any commentary.
- "Did you know that accessories make an outfit? Of course you did, because fashion writers have been using that line for years, encouraging you to buy bags, necklaces, shoes, brooches, bangles, headbands and every other possible adornment. But you know what? They say it because it's true. Accessories are cheap and easy - this Xcesiri necklace from ..."
- "Future Classics abstract peasant dress, $1090 ..."
- "Girls gone bad: How feisty females are inspiring designers ... London Fashion Week hasn't lost its rebel spirit - Pixie Geldof, Pamela Anderson ... There was even a jumper that read "BOO!" ... If Todd Lynn is the place where any woman worth her bad-girl credentials will shop for tailoring next year, she would do well to buy her cocktail dresses from Marios Schawb..."