Ah, London

Been in London nearly 24 hours as I write this, and I still haven’t heard any English spoken in the streets — well, apart from some homeless crone who screamed insults at me for not giving her any money; she was British, judging from the invective. Sadly, I had forgotten to bring my riding crop from Free Market Towers, so I just kicked her a couple of times and went on my way.

“When a man is tired of London, he is tired of life.” The words of Samuel Johnson come to mind whenever I visit this place, and now that I’m here, I’ve become a London groupie all over again. Man, I love this place. Yeah, it’s hectic, full of strange people, the traffic is horrible (despite the stupid congestion charge which was supposed to end congestion, but all it did was fill the streets with noxious fumes from mopeds and scooters) and it has a street layout that can reduce strong men to tears.

Don’t care. Love the place anyway.

I’d skipped dinner, having had a pie earlier at one of the stations en route, but then I got really hungry at about ten p.m. Oh boy… would anything still be open? Silly rabbit: within a block or two from my hotel (the Fleabagge Inne, near the station) I had a choice of the usual crap (i.e. Mickey D and BK — not) but also Italian, Indian (duh), Middle Eastern (double duh) and that was just heading east down the street. All those restaurants were not only open, but full, and I was just about to turn around and see what lay in the other direction when… wait a minute: was that a Turkish restaurant? Indeed it was: “Best Mangal” managed by Erhan Poyraz, open till 2 a.m. on Saturdays, and a table for one was available after about a minute’s wait. Oh yes indeed: lamb doner with about four spicy sauces, and cups of Turkish tea (which I love) followed by a little complimentary dessert of baklava and basbousa (because I’d waxed poetic to Erhan about the delicious lamb). Total cost, with tip: £12. I think I’ll go back there tonight, if I can wait that long.

Were it not for the fact that I’m walking everywhere — and sheesh, London is a big city — American would need four seats to carry my bloated ass back to Dallas.

London is the greatest city in the world. I need to hurry up and win the frigging lottery, because Mr. Free Market was telling me of a nice little 2-bedroom flat he knows about that’s just come on the market: “It’s in a decent neighborhood, dear heart: nothing but absentee Arab royalty, Russian oligarchs and Chinese diplomats. You’d have the place to yourself most of the time, and you’re just a skip away from Lord’s. It’s an absolute steal at £1.75 [million].” Unfortunately, the word “greatest” can also be applied to London’s real estate prices

Don’t care. If I had the funds, I’d do it in a heartbeat. Just not where I’m surrounded by the aforementioned wealthy scum. That’s not for me, oh no: I’d get a place where there’s a decent chippy around, and where I’d be surrounded by wealthy British scum, like Mr. FM. His town house is nearby.

Journey Across No Man’s Land

…begins this afternoon, wherein your Humble Narrator leaves the warmth and comfort of Hardy Country for the metropolis of Londonistan:

For no reason at all, I’m starting to miss my Springfield 1911…

Anyway, I’ll be spending a couple-three days here and crossing two items off Ye Olde Buckette Lyste (details to follow) before heading north to Scottishland to check off yet a third: the Royal Military Tattoo in Edinburgh.

Overpaid And Over Here

So the BBC published the salaries of their top “talent” a little while ago. Surprise, surprise, men earn more than women for doing the same job. (As Mr. FM puts it, “Most of them are paid to read a teleprompter and are no more journalists than my dogs.”)

There’s a lot to be said about all this, but I’m only going to make a few comments.

BBC is funded largely by annual license fees paid by 95% of the British population — roughly $180 per annum per household — and the fees are collected with incredible ferocity. It’s not unfair to say that they’re collected at gunpoint, because failure to pay can result in massive fines and even imprisonment. Needless to say, therefore, people really bitch about wastage and, inevitably, bloated salaries unless they’re being paid to people of serious worth such as veteran nature documentary maker David Attenborough. Here’s a lesser-known example.

BBC Radio 2 DJ Chris Evans, unsurprisingly, makes more than any of the others. While we Murkins might know Evans as the dorky ginger who tried (and failed) to fill the scuffed suede shoes of Top Gear‘s Jeremy Clarkson, Evans is a brilliant DJ, has had the morning radio gig for many years and has astonishing listenership numbers. (Radio is still very popular Over Here, mostly because the TV, all of it, is such shit.) If we translated Evans’s popularity into a Stateside comparison, he’d make more than Howard Stern did at WNBC in New York or Rush Limbaugh still does. While there’s the usual Wealth Envy moaning from the Labour Commies, not too many people are getting upset about Evans because frankly, he’s worth the money. Of course, there are some male presenters who, equally frankly, are not only overpaid but lucky to be employed at all because by any measure, they’re as shit at their job as the crap they have to present. But that’s not the biggest issue.

Oh no; it’s all about Teh Ladies (of course).

Now I’m not going to get into who are the better presenters (although I can’t see why, say, morning TV show male presenters shouldn’t be paid the same as their female co-presenters — they aren’t; men are paid much more). I haven’t watched enough BBC-TV shows to get an idea, because a.) I have a life and b.) all the morning shows are so banal that they make Good Morning America look like the aforementioned Howard Stern’s TV show, and I’d rather walk the Free Markets’ dogs than watch any of them. I will say that having watched a few, the wimmins are actually more entertaining than the men — unless they’re doing a girls-only show like Loose Women, which makes the American show The View (which is unspeakably bad) look like quality programming by comparison.

My final thought is that managerially speaking, the BBC are a bunch of morons. What they should have done was publish alongside the salaries both the length of tenure on the job — experience counts — and most importantly, the viewership / listenership numbers — it’s all about the eyeballs and earholes, folks. Chris Evans’s 9 million listeners dwarf BBC Breakfast‘s 1.5 million viewers, so that would explain the salary disparity there. (As an aside, I should point out that rival ITV’s Good Morning Britain, hosted jointly by the sexy Susanna Reid and the revolting Piers Morgan only gets 800,000 viewers.) Here’s Susanna:

And lastly, the whole BBC salary thing is a study of orange-and-apple comparisons — morning TV shows to, say, football shows — but I have to say, though, that I’m getting a huge amount of pleasure watching the oh-so sanctimoniously-PC BBC wriggle as they try to explain the “gender gap” in their executive wage scales. Couldn’t happen to a nicer bunch of social justice warriors. The BBC also complains that they have to pay these salaries because they’re in competition for talent with the commercial media — except that the competition pays far less, on average, than does the BBC for like jobs.


Addendum: stats on Brit media are incredibly confusing: “peak” vs. “average daily” v.s “weekly” etc. I do understand them, having worked in advertising agencies for years, but I couldn’t be bothered with forensic accuracy. My numbers may be a little off, e.g. dated, but the relative scale of them isn’t, and I’m not a journalist so I have no inclination to spend hours of research on them when I could be cleaning my new Mauser. Priorities: I have them.

Saturday Morning, Again

Ah yes… last night.

Pretty much the same cast of characters (The Englishman and Reader John M. — Mr. Free Market had to stay late at work: celebratory drinks after some successful capitalist venture, no doubt), the same products of Messrs. Wadworth and Company, same wonderful fun, same pub. Same final result, of course.

Back when the skull-hobgoblins have finished their Happy Dance…

Not Bisley

Apparently, Royal Bisley is mostly populated by People Who Treat Shooting Seriously — i.e., not my kind of people at all, because I prefer having fun at the shooting range. So instead, Mr. FM booked us time at a private range, where we could do just that. Here’s a view downrange at 100 meters (ugh, metric is everywhere Over Here).

…and I played with several rifles: the aforementioned Blaser 93 in 6.5x55mm Swede, Combat Controller’s Browning .300 WinMag (which has completely recovered from its earlier Scottish mishap, and is capable of shooting minute-of-angle — MOA — at 100 meters, just not by me — I could only manage 2″ groups because eyes), and finally, a Mauser M12 “Impact” in .308 Win.

As Longtime Readers know, I have either a soft spot or a hard-on for Mauser rifles, depending on whether I’m talking about them or I’ve just shot one. Good grief. Thus equipped, I can honestly say that the M12 is in the top three rifles I have ever fired — and let me tell you, that encompasses an awful lot of rifles. With this rifle, minute-of-angle wasn’t just easy, it was a breeze. If you look in the center of the pic above and see the boar-shaped steel target, and squint to see the 4″ heart/lung target area “flipper” plate, I was hitting that flipper dead center with every single shot.

Let me go further: if I was told I could only ever own one medium rifle, you’d have to talk me out of choosing the M12. (I’d get the “regular” model with wood stock, of course, because Kim; but I think you catch my drift.)

 

And by the way: if anyone knows a way we can get Our Rulers in D.C. to pass the Hearing Protection Act (which will finally take moderators off the NFA list), feel free to apply that particular cattle prod to their backsides.

 

 

Saturday Morning

So Mr. Free Market, The Englishman, Longtime Reader John M. and I went down to the local pub last night for a quiet pint. Here’s an approximate rendering:

Right: time for coffee and a Full English, then off to the range. A full report on both last night’s festivities and the range visit will follow.

It’s a tough life Over Here, but someone has to do it.