THE LAST DITCH An Englishman returned after twenty years abroad blogs about liberty in Britain
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Juneteenth and reflections on slavery

Home again. Travel Mode OFF

IMG_6248My journey got off to a bad start when a group of us were given the wrong directions to our section of the car deck on our ship. Speranza was right at the front of deck 4 and my late arrival held people up. How embarrassing,

The drive from Plymouth to London  can be summed up by this screenshot of Speranza's trip computer. Over five hours to cover less than 250 miles is a disgrace. My average speed was 40 by the time I made it to the M4, after encountering endless delays. It was stop/start driving all the time on the A roads from Plymouth and the M5. I managed to improve my average on the M4, despite a fair amount of stop/start and many miles of average speed monitored road works (with not a single worker visible at any point). 

The final run back home on UK soil is often the worst part of my continental jaunts, because our roads are so depressingly bad and overloaded by comparison with those of our continental neighbours. We used to have the excuse that we paid less tax than them. That's simply no longer true. Is it because their engineering skills or industriousness are superior? Perhaps so in Germany, but their roads aren't as good as France's. In my view it's entirely because of the ideological capture of our public services.

Whereas we pay public servants to be just that – servants – they decline these days to serve us. Rather than do a good job of public infrastructure works and their maintenance – a sort of blue collar, essential job in the national enterprise – they prefer to be our HR Department. They cajole, they threaten and above all they try to shape our thoughts and behaviours into conformity with their own.

They're neither rewarded for pleasing us nor fired for failing us. Their employment arrangements are Soviet in that sense. Unfortunately if you want the Soviet apparatchiks' opportunities for idleness, irresponsibility and superior benefits to the productive proles, you also need the Soviet discipline of the gulag and the firing squad – and ours don't have that. 

Screenshot 2024-06-14 at 18.30.22

That said,  Speranza is back in her parking spot having brought me safely home. I thoroughly enjoyed my little adventure – even some of the unforeseen parts. I learned a lot about myself and at least one of my friends and I will certainly always remember where I was when I learned I am going to be a granddad! My final Track My Tour map (from which the above is a screen shot) is here. 

Without the late Mrs P. to edit me, I worry that I may over-share. If so, I am sorry, I hope that, despite that, you enjoyed riding along in imagination. Thank you.


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I always enjoy reading about your travel adventures and seeing the photographs that accompany them :-)


A pleasure to read, again. Thanks Tom!


Thank you for the weeks of fun reading about your travel. You were travelling where I have yet to go in my travels, so I read with interest and lots of amusement in some parts. The journey seems to have been a discovery of sorts. And what a LOVELY memory when you received news of your impending Grandfatherhood! I can only imagine how I might feel when I receive news of being a grandmother (should it ever happen)


Thanks Mark and MarkC. Much appreciated. One of my English friends tells me I’m going to enjoy singing “the lonely goatherd” to my grandchild when telling him or her the story. I’ll have to practise my yodelling in preparation. I’m certainly going to look for a soft toy goat as a first gift.


Greg, Thank you. As a libertarian (classical liberal, who still believes the things that made the West rich) I wouldn’t really wish Soviet *anything* on anyone. Particularly as the 11 years in post-communist Poland where I was lucky enough to become your friend were highly educational for me. I was humorously suggesting that Britain’s state apparatchiks should be consistent, rather than just stealing the bits of Soviet thought that suit them! I loathe the kind of sociopath attracted to jobs that involve being paid with money taken by state force from fellow citizens while bossing them about, but I wouldn’t really wish a gulag or a firing squad on them. I’d prefer something for them they’d hate even more — earning an honest living in a competitive environment.


Thank you, Tom; enjoyed the journey in my imagination and with your pictures it brought back some fine memories from long-range motorbike touring 20 years ago - nice to see Metz Cathedral again and the riverwalk, and Santander / Bilbao.

Couldn't agree more about the ideological capture of our public services. They are truly, in their own eyes, The Chosen Ones whose innate superiority overrides any sense of duty or obligation.

And of course, congratulations on your grandad status-to-be!

Mark in Mayenne

It was fun to read. Congrats on the grandchild. High on a hill..........


No, U didn't over-share - I've found your detailed reports (and reflections) very interesting !

BTW: regardless of the "depressingly bad" condition of English roads, I wouldn't wish them to be supervised in any soviet-like mode. In Poland - while complaining about PKP (Polish State Railroads), we used to recall Feliks Edmundowicz Dzierżyński (the Pole, who was the founder othe blody "czerezyczayka"), as the one, "who imposed the order in the Soviet Railroads by his gun"... but it's a pretty bitter joke...

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