Aboard the Stansted Express.

I am sitting aboard a train in the Liverpool Street train station, bound for Stansted Airport. Unfortunately, I am accompanied by all of my baggage again, limiting my mobility. I do hope that Stansted has Internet access and public electricity; the old laptop needs a recharge.

London and I are starting to have a love-hate relationship on a grandiose scale. At the level of the individual, there are plenty of folks who will make you feel right at home, regardless of where you are from or what you believe. However, at large, London operates like an Orwellian dystopia. The Underground is flooded with automated announcements by a computerized British female voice, informing you of the train’s next destination. Large posters inform citizens about the improvements that are being made to the Underground to facilitate for more secure, faster, and robust travels. But through all of it, there is little sign of true compassion. London is not a community; rather, it is a system into which its citizens are so horribly integrated that they operate as mere cogs.

Fear-mongering is abound moreso than anywhere I’ve been in the United States. Signs warn citizens to be warned that they are being watched and will be prosecuted if a crime is committed. I witnessed a woman being accosted by the British Transport police and having her bag searched. Londoners, at least among those travelling aboard the Underground, have little or no sense of humor. I didn’t dare speak to any of them; it is almost as if there is an unwritten rule. I was tempted to break that rule, when I realized that the folks I would talk to may not take kindly to such behavior and might report it to the authorities, as they are instructed to over the loudspeakers several times per day.

As I travel out of central London, I am reminded that the United Kingdom isn’t completely close-circuited. What does Glasgow have to offer?

A drink at Stansted.

I got off the train and made my way to the check-in counter at Ryanair. They told me check-in for my flight hadn’t begun yet, so I decided to get a drink at the bar. I happened to meet a lovely girl from Kent, who bought me a Chardonnay. We talked politics, religion, dreams, and destinies. It’s amazing the conversations you’ll have if you just say hello. I told her about my idea to travel across the country in a motorhome, and I was met with fascination, as she was seeking to leave her current position as a police officer to move to Australia and seek a similar lifestyle.

A base of operations.

I found a hostel in Borough called St. Christoper’s which fortunately had a vacancy. I stowed my luggage away and embarked on my walk around the city. London is beautiful; it is a peculiar superimposition of modern architecture atop London’s iconic classical buildings. I’m sitting at a coffee shop outside St. Paul’s Cathedral.

What I See:

The CCTV around London is a bit disconcerting… They’ve really turned the city into a police state. It doesn’t feel particularly invasive, but I am struck every time I see a sign stating that the area is being monitored.

I had a chance to see the River Thames as well:

Unfortunately, I’m going to have to spend some time preparing for the conference this afternoon, so I won’t be able to do much sightseeing. I suppose it is to be expected; after all, it’s what brought me here in the first place.