May 02, 2004
AA does travel
Well, we knew that. The Automobile Association, I mean. But AA Gill? Habitual Sunday Times readers will be tutting knowingly. So be it. But as someone who tends to read another paper (though the difference between any of them is vanishing) I've never read anything other than the pleasurably caustic reviews of the restaurant world he's been producing for seemingly ages. That he has won awards for his travel writing makes me all the more ashamed, particularly as Ben Hammersley links today to a piece he penned in 1999 on the Sudanese famine: The Hunger Gap
If you haven't the time to read the whole piece (and I strongly recommend that you place it in your favourites for later, if so), here are just a few choice snippets:
Six hours from Nairobi, it is like flying to Washington in a Morris Minor without a toilet.
Ajiep is where the buck finally stops. Having been passed from hand to mouth around the world it comes to rest in the shade of a thorn tree in this dry, hot earth. Here, finally, is that mythological, nursery tea-time place: “Remember all the starving people in Africa.” This is what we left on the side of our plates. Here is the end of the longest queue in the world. “The people less fortunate than yourself.”
I was dreading dinner: how do you eat in a promise of famine? Actually, it is not too difficult; not to eat would be a silly act of self-mortification. And we are hungry.
When I got home, I tried to explain to my young daughter where I had been and what I had seen. “Are they dying?” she asked. Yes. “Where do they bury them?” Where do they bury them? In Monday’s rubbish, in the commercial break, in the turned page and the changed subject in Sunday lunch and under the prune stones on the side of your plate.
April 24, 2004
One for Londoners
It is a simple programme available for Macs, PCs and Linux that enables you to monitor how well the tube is running. Only problem: so far it is only available for the Bakerloo line. Apparently other lines are likely to be available soon.