…And Louder Still

Here’s another little snippet which caused me to go cross-eyed momentarily:

The number of coffee shops in Britain is set to overtake pubs by the year 2030, according to industry research.
Some three coffee shops are opening every day adding an extra 21 a week serving up lattes and cappuccinos.
By contrast between 21 and 25 pubs are closing every week, with many turned into homes and convenience stores.
Fhe switch from lager to latte means that the number of UK coffee shops has increased from 10,000 in 2007 to 24,000 today.
At the same time, the traditional pub is suffering with the total down from around 75,000 in the 1970s to around 47,000 today.

Oy. It’s enough to make me want to crawl into a corner and whimper like a little girl. Then again, there may still be a little of the bulldog spirit left:

I mean, I love coffee. But it’s a morning drink — or at least, an after-dinner choice. But nothing beats a good pub. Here’s one that I visited with The Englishman, because the King’s Arms was just too far away for our thirst, and it was a case of “Stand aside, Coffee; this is a job for BEER.”

No doubt it will be gone by the time I get back Over There.

Somebody hide the pills.

 

 

Scandal

File this under “There ought to be a law”:

UK McDonald’s Run Out Of Bacon
Furious fast food lovers went into meltdown this morning after dozens of McDonald’s restaurants in the UK ran out of bacon.
Customers were unable to purchase popular breakfast items from the menu, including bacon rolls, bacon and egg McMuffins and bacon and egg bagels.
Restaurants in Devon, Essex, West Sussex and Greater Manchester have run out of pork and customers took to Twitter to vent their anger.

As well they should. I think it actually IS a law in parts of the U.S.:

Section 2 Part I:
No restaurant should ever run out of bacon, under penalty of imprisonment for the manager thereof.

I saw it on the Internet; it must be true.

New Jersey Bastardy

From Reader Mark D in Comments yesterday:

On the topic of suppressors, I’ve been saying for a while that I want to move from New Jersey to America, but I NEVER thought America would be found in Great Britain…

Don’t even get me started. On Saturday last, we got a text from Doc Russia in Newark Airport, while he was flying Edinburgh – Newark – DFW:

Fun fact: going through Newark with a federally-licensed suppressor will end up with you face-down on the ground, handcuffed.

Here’s the deal. Doc has a legal suppressor for his Remington, all the paperwork done, tax paid, blessed by the Pope, yadda yadda yadda. He was about to pack it in his rifle case to bring home, when both Combat Controller and I suggested that he shouldn’t, because New Jersey. He laughed it off, saying his luggage was checked through to DFW — but agreed that discretion was called for, and that he could bring it back another time when flying direct from Britishland to Dallas.

It’s a good thing he did. Here’s why.

As we all know, when arriving in a foreign country, you have to go through Customs and Immigration in your arrival “port”, even if you’re connecting to go further. Now, if your connecting flight is from the same terminal, you’re good to go. If you have to go to another terminal for your connecting flight, things might get more tricky.

As is the case here. Suppressors are completely banned in New Jersey — no federal blessing counts, no paperwork is acceptable. Set foot in the state of New Jersey with a suppressor, no matter how legal, and you will end up face-down on the ground, handcuffed.

So had Doc arrived in Newark with his suppressor and left the international terminal, the NJ State Police would have arrested him, even though he was simply in transit — going from one jurisdiction where suppressors are legal to another where it’s also legal — the very fact that he was in New Jersey at all with his suppressor, albeit only for a few minutes, would have made him an instant felon.

And we know all this because Doc happened to ask a member of New Jersey’s Staatspolizei what their policy is. Apparently the offizier got instantly aggro, and insisted on checking Doc’s luggage for himself — just asking the question is grounds for suspicion in the New Jersey Reich.

I’m curious as to how many other states would behave the same way. I can see New York and California doing likewise, but if anyone can shed light on this topic, I’d like to know.

In the interim, all New Jersey People Of Our Sort should make preparations to leave that shitty place and move to the United States as soon as it’s practically feasible. Like I once did.

Shootingham, U.K. — Part 1

So last night I spent the evening with The Englishman and Reader John M., doing pints of 6X, plates of fish & chips and in general doing what I’ve become accustomed to doing of a Friday night, with the usual consequences.

However, my trip back to Free Market Towers was by a different route because of road construction on the normal one. That I got back at all was a miracle, because The Englishman’s sole directions were:
“When you get out of the village, turn right till you get to the main road; then turn right, and keep turning right until you get back to Devizes.”
Reader John’s suggestion was equally helpful: “Watch out for some of the corners.”

Okay: a trip in pitch darkness along unfamiliar, narrow country roads, no map/GPS, half-inebriated. As it happened, both sets of instructions were brilliant, because I drove straight home without getting lost once. (That might be the first time ever, along a strange country road in Hardy Country.)

At Free Market Towers I encountered Mr. FM, back from a few days’ hard work of evicting widows from their ancestral homes followed by demolition of the latter and construction of glass-walled skyscrapers in their place. (I think that’s what he does for a living, but there’s also some terrorizing of subordinates and glad-handing of Chinese tycoons in there, so I can’t be exactly sure.)

Anyway, I was greeted with a glass of whisky and the words: “We leave at 10 tomorrow. Okay?”

I had forgotten, in my evening’s carousing, that he’d scheduled a day’s shooting for today. Oy.

So this morning I woke up, only mildly hung over, and off we set off in the Range Rover, along the standard leafy lanes of outstanding beauty and vistas of… oh hell, you know the rest.

On and on we went, through various counties, villages and towns until we finally arrived at our destination:

I’ve never been to Bisley before, and I didn’t really know what to expect. What I never expected was to find myself in a massive area (several thousand acres, Mr. FM estimates) devoted entirely to shooting. In other words, Kim’s idea of heaven. To give you an idea of the extent of the place, here’s a map which shows most (but not all) of the ranges and buildings (open in a new window to get the full-sized pic):

The problem, of course, is that Bisley isn’t open to just anyone — you can’t just stroll in there and ask to be given a slot on any of the ranges: oh no, that wouldn’t be British. Instead, you have to belong to a shooting club (approved by the Home Office, don’t get me started), and they will then schedule you a day, time and slot where you can shoot with other members of your club. Being British, of course, each club has an exclusive club house of varying degrees of grandeur, starting from 1930s-era Kenya-style mansions:

…and Shanghai-type establishments of the same vintage:

…all the way down to modest cottages:

…and there are even rental trailer-homes where one can spend the night if doing more than a day’s shooting:

Bisley is almost, in fact, a self-contained town — hence the title of this post. There are restaurants, parks and, of course, gunsmiths/shops such as Fulton & Son and William Evans:

…which contain the usual items of gunny exquisiteness:

But on to the ranges.

There are lots of long-distance ranges (one out to 1,300 yards), and I’m not going to list them all; but here’s one, just to give you an idea. A club was shooting at the 1,000-yard mark:

There are .22 ranges, medium-distance ranges, Olympic-distance ranges, shotgun ranges, and so on — all over the place, and all of which made a certain visitor’s trigger finger itch. Which is why after a quick lunch of bacon-and-egg sandwiches, Mr. Free Market took us off to where we would be doing our shooting — clay pigeons, as it turned out. Here’s the road we drove down:

…and tomorrow I’ll give you part 2 of this adventure, at Long Siberia.

Not Vulnerable Enough

Let’s suppose for a moment that you find yourself in a perilous situation, and have to call 911 — only the responding officer deduces from your accent that you’re Black, and therefore not worthy of immediate assistance. Imagine the furor if this was made public.

Now try this, from Britishland (RCOB* Alert):

“Increasingly, as we go forward we will look at things like trying to assess people and crime on the sort of threat, the harm, the risk and people’s vulnerability.

“It’s absolutely feasible that if my neighbour is a vulnerable elderly person who has experienced a particular type of crime, that she gets a face-to-face service that I don’t get. So we triage things, we assess people’s vulnerability.

“Vulnerability can manifest itself in a number of ways – people with learning difficulties, a whole range of things, some people for whom English isn’t a first language.

“That’s about how we get those resources focused on the things you can make a difference with. But also, as demand grows, you have to have a way of controlling and triaging.”

Now as any fule kno, what this Plod is really saying is, “If you don’t increase our budget, we’re going to have to look at foolishness such as this, because crime is on the increase and we’re stuck with the same resources.”

Nevertheless, do you think for a moment that he’d keep his job if this were the U.S., and he’d made comments similar to those with which I opened this post, just to argue for a bigger budget?

Yet he’s not going to get fired, because I’ll bet that a whole bunch of people over here are just going to nod, and say, “Well, we’ll just have to accept this.”


*For my New Readers, “RCOB” stands for “Red Curtain Of Blood”, such as that which comes over your eyes when you read foolishness like the above.

No More Instant

I suppose I should be grateful to Starbucks for one thing: they brought the concept of “brewed coffee” to the U.K., even if it was only their shitty burnt water. Now, of course, you have chains like Costa (excellent) and Caffé Nero (not-so-excellent), but I was struck by the fact quite forcefully when I ordered “filter” (i.e. not instant) coffee at a breakfast kiosk in Edinburgh’s Waverley Station last week, and it was quite acceptable. I was also reminded of that when at lunch at Fortnum’s a couple days back, I ordered an “Americano” (diluted espresso) and was served a lovely cup of coffee. In fact, you can order an Americano just about anywhere — which is a hellacious change over what used to be Instant Coffee Country.

It’s not Dunkin’ Donuts or Krispy Kreme coffee, but it will certainly do.

And Costa is pretty much ubiquitous — I think there are more of them than Starbucks, which is a relief because their coffee is better and about a third the price of Starbucks’s overpriced shit. Just about every larger gas station has a Costa dispensing machine, which makes traveling less of a caffeine-deprived nightmare, and in the towns, there are generally several Costa outlets.

Sadly, there are no Keurig machines in Britishland that I can see — certainly, none in the houses / apartments where I’ve been staying. Mostly, it’s the Nespresso option which is fine, but Nespresso seems incapable of making coffee that isn’t hair-raisingly strong, which I can only overcome by making two large cups of coffee from a single pod. I miss my trusty Keurig, and my Krispy Kreme Regular.

But it all beats instant.