Friday, 23 April 2010

Flying Toward an Election? You Bet Your Ash.

An American friend of mine who had heard of the great abyss that was UK airspace until recently asked if our landscape was now "a post-apocalyptic waste land, like the true Earth in The Matrix or the world of Mad Max."  I have yet to see Mel Gibson roaming the streets with a mangy mut, but we have seen a bit of volcanic ash settling on the cars overnight.  I'm kind of reluctant to drive through the car wash in order to show an anticipated American guest what remains of Iceland and its economy, but that's really just an excuse to avoid cleaning the car. 

For me as an overstimulated fruit enthusiast, I cringed to see the UK's tropical fruit shipments were being diverted to Spain from Africa or South America, or worse yet, just dumped altogether due to lack of air logistics.  (Insert long, echoing "Noooo!" here.)  I don't think they grow much Tropical Gold pineapple in Portsmouth. It's been two days since my last golden kiwi. That sounds like the opening line of a fringe support group.  Order is restoring and I hear a jet overhead as I type, but television news is still carrying stories of UK tourists stuck on beaches in Tenerife.  They sent a naval ship to pick up a load of stranded Brits from Spain.  I'm sure the food was much better than the oxymoron of what passes for "airline food" these days.

Speaking of hot air, the news here has moved swiftly on to the upcoming UK election since airspace reopened.  As an American, the British election season is so comparatively short and therefore much more civilized.  An election date was announced just this month, and the election will be in early May.  Spit spot, job done.  There's none of this year-long campaign business or droning infomercials that is the US political process.  Most interesting, the UK has an extremely viable third party in the running, which would challenge those that think there is no way a third party could ever break into the US policical system.  Remember, they said US national healthcare wouldn't happen, too.

The recent, first-ever televised UK party leader debates are a good loan from the US system, as opposed to Texas toast or supersize fries.  For those election buffs/political science majors out there, it's fascinating to see the pundits here discuss who appears better on television, much like the Nixon/JFK contrast in US ancient political history.  The three party leaders are a bit staid.  Perhaps they're just real people, or not as used to working arm in arm with image consultants and spin doctors.

Gordon Brown did look a bit ashen in the first debate.  Well, is it any wonder?

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