Monday, 26 August 2013

Oh, David. Really?

Dear Dave,

I assume that, like me, you are preparing for your sojourn to the fête this afternoon in which ever quaint little village you reside. Or perhaps you're pretending to be down with the proletariat, donning a pair of comedy shades and a whistle and heading for Nattin Eel?

Either way, you've more than likely got one eye on a WI cream tea / shapely near-naked dancer and one eye is turning towards your return to work. In fact I hope you are at the carnival as your resulting boss-eyedness will be easier explained with some special cookies you purchased from the nice chap over there.

So, in preparation for your return to work I thought I'd drop you a line as I've had this niggling concern that I'd like you to look into. Now I don't expect an immediate response as you'll need to have a handover with young Nick, spend some time scrubbing the crayon off your desk, going through your emails and showing the office your holiday snaps but if you could get back to me by early next week, that's fine.

The reason for writing is I'd like you to have a good hard think about Heathrow and whether we really need another runway.

You probably remember the consultation which took place at the start of the summer? The one where the majority of respondents objected to a Heathrow expansion? The one where only 1-2% of the population responded and where BAA took this to mean that the other 98-99% were therefore in favour of the expansion? Perhaps you were not aware of the survey but were aware of the results? This is certainly the case for me; despite living in the catchment area for the survey, the first I knew of it was when the results were announced and I was lumped in with the 98-99% who are deemed to favour the expansion through lack of participation.

Doesn't this seem odd to you, Dave? Why would more money and PR effort be put into the heavily spun results than in attracting survey participants? Strange, isn't it? Anyway, perhaps this is an anomaly. Perhaps the pre-awareness campaign was done by telephone survey? You know, the ones where the first thing you're told after they pronounce your name wrong and how are you today is to say that this is definitely not a sales call? I'm sure like me, you've no idea what is said next as you've already hung up and returned to your game of Ludo with Sarah.

Let's forget about the methods and concentrate on fixing the results. Again. Correctly, this time. First up, you can add me to the 'Thanks, but no thanks' group. You can add my wife and also our first child. He or she is still being brewed by my wife but will be with us soon enough to be woken through the night by the planes which use our chimney as a signal to start their climb. Therefore you can add three to the 'nah, you're alright camp' and remove us from the '50% more planes? Ooh yes please' figures. Actually, how about swinging 50,000 votes from 'Yeah' to 'Yeah, right' to represent everyone in my town who wasn't informed? In fact, let's start again and assume the answer is no unless stated otherwise. Let's ask everyone to not only give an answer but to also show their workings for their vote to be valid.

'Yes. Heathrow should be expanded as I currently live 8 miles from my work as a trolley collecterer and following expansion, this will be reduced to 4, thereby saving me travel time and money.'

'No. Heathrow should not be expanded because it will cost many billions, much time with no discernible improvement to the economy, will ruin the lives of many hundreds of thousands of people, will force people indoors where they are still lucky enough to have quadruple glazed doors and windows as some people's doors and windows will have been flattened to make way for a new runway, along with the houses which were formerly holding them up.'

Dave, I know the main argument is that if we don't expand the hub then other countries will take over and their hub will bigger than ours but maybe we should stop trying to compete? How many take off and landing taxes will we need to collect to pay for the colossal cost of building the thing in the first place? What will the carbon footprint be? Not just of building the new runway and the additional planes but of the ever-increasing traffic congestion in and around Heathrow. Satnavs will need to factor in an extra hour on the M25/M4 carpark before proceeding with the journey.

Have you seen Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy? Perhaps you call it H2G2? That's okay, it's a cool acronym but what happened to the 2 Ts? Let's worry about that another time. Dave, I think you should be Arthur Dent. Go and lie in front of the bulldozers in your dressing gown. You could send Nick in your place but I think that's a bit of a risk as he has a history of making promises and then immediately breaking them to be in with the cool gang. You need to go, Dave. Stand up by lying down. Fight against Ford Prefect despite his cool demeanour and stop the expansion while you've still got a chance. You'll be remembered for something worthwhile if you do.

While we're in a tree hugging, hippy vibe, man, do you remember that cool cat Joni Mitchell? Pave paradise, put up a parking lot? She'd never been to Sipson or any of the other villages and farms local to Heathrow. But she'd heard of them. She'd often pondered their paradisical properties and was horrified to hear of the plans for expansion. Rhythm and lyrical constraints forced her to change the original line from 'pave paradise, build a third runway to keep Heathrow as the number one European hub' but the message was still there.

Now Dave, I'm worried about something I heard from some BAA chap who was announcing the three options for a new runway. And I more or less quote: 'we have three options but two are our preference for a third or fourth runway and we will press on with... blah blah blah'. He was brilliant. Derren Brown would have been very proud of planting such a seed. Not only is he proposing a controversial third runway but he slipped talk of a fourth into the conversation without anyone noticing. Give him a show on Channel 4.
Dave, there has to come a time when we say enough is enough, Britain's only small and we've enough concrete as it is. I know we've been licking the US's backside for the best part of a century but we're never going to be like them. JFK may well have seven runways but that doesn't mean we should aspire to this. We don't need to cover our meat in cheese and nor do we need to wear baseball caps backwards. Or forwards for that matter. We have bowler hats and bonnets, cream teas and fêtes, green fields and culture. Let's not lose that to a bloody great runway that nobody really wants.

Cheers Dave.
Love, MG.C

PS HS2? That's just an elaborate wind up, right?!

1 comment:

  1. Remember Banka Johnson, I've also been so lucky or unlucky? to be put in the same situation, but now he uses


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