From the Blog

‘No parking meter? No excuse!’

I was in a newsagent this afternoon on the Rue de la Servette, a four-lane (+two tram lines) road in Geneva. A lady had got in to the shop just before me; she asked the shop-keeper where there was a parking meter in the vicinity. The lady behind the counter told this woman that although the signs had been put up and the ground prepared for them, the meters hadn’t yet been installed. Nevertheless, she went on, the customer should be vigilant because the lack of machines is not seen as a valid reason for not displaying a parking permit, and the wardens—who, she said, are known to pass regularly—are still liable to issue parking tickets!

All of this was reported slightly apologetically (in a don’t-blame-me-it’s-not-my-fault tone) but seemingly neither of them would consider the possibility of challenging such a ridiculous situation. I for one welcome our new parking-warden bureaucrat overlords.

Killed by a book!

Pliny the Younger, Epistles 2.1.5:

Nam cum vocem praepararet acturus in consulatu principi gratias, liber quem forte acceperat grandiorem, et seni et stanti ipso pondere elapsus est. Hunc dum sequitur colligitque, per leve et lubricum pavimentum fallente vestigio cecidit coxamque fregit, quae parum apte collocata reluctante aetate male coiit.

For while he was preparing a thanksgiving speech to the Princeps for the consulship, he happened to lift a rather large book which slipped from the old man’s hand, who was standing up at the time. When he bent down to pick it up, his foot slipped on the smooth and wet pavement, and he broke his hip, which was knocked out of joint, and because of his advanced age, re-knitted badly.

Let that be a warning to those of us who use heavy encyclopaedias and dictionaries like the Oxford Latin Dictionary

Something is rotten in the airport of Heathrow

The recent chaos at Heathrow brought about when the new Terminal 5 opened to passengers last Thursday has shot the airport to people’s attention across much of the world. Many people have been saying for years that the world’s most busy international airport is a nightmare to deal with, and hitherto I mostly haven’t agreed. I’ve used the airport frequently enough—several times a year—that I got to know it (Terminals 1 & 4 in particular) fairly well. However, I think that because I was comfortable using those terminals I didn’t realize quite how unfriendly Heathrow is to less-frequent travellers.1

All that changed for me last week. On Friday I was due to fly from Heathrow back to Geneva after the short university Easter holiday. I would be flying from …