Sunday, November 05, 2006

London Subways Extensive, Frequent And Even Polite

--written from London

I'm in London for a week of plays, and yesterday took the subway out to the western suburbs to have lunch at the home of Kim Murphy, the L.A. Times London correspondent, and her family. Others from the Times were also there and we had a good time.

Kim lives fairly close, she says sometimes the noise makes it seem too close,to the Heathrow Airport. It took more than an hour on the subways from central London to ge there.

The subway network is very extensive here, the trains very frequent and the crowds in the cars immense. But it struck me as a very polite clientele. In transferring, etc. I rode four different trains and in each one of them, someone stood up to give me their seat. It may have been my decrepit appearance, but still... Also, everyone was very kind with their instructions as to which way to go. The trains are not fast, but they get you there, and, by contrast, the surface traffic in London is horrendous. It cost me just $10 for a day's pass, which, considering the distance and what taxis cost, struck me as a bargain.

British food continues to be problematic. Kim and her husband served the best lunch of the trip so far. One of her children was at a soccer match, but her nine-year-old daughter was there.

Kim, a former Cairo correspondent for the Times, gave her prescription during the lunch for a Middle Eastern settlement and said she believes that if the Arab-Israeli dispute were settled, the wars all over the Middle East would cease.

She believes a settlement would include Israeli withdrawal behind the 1967 borders, internationalization of Jerusalem with the Jews living in the western half and the Arabs in the eastern half, and recognition of Israel by Hamas and Hezbollah. She didn't mention a right of return, and she said she is not confident that any such settlement will be coming soon.

Later, I saw the first of six plays, Tom Stoppard's Rock and Roll. This is a trip sponsored by the Oregon Shakespeare Festival, and has 45 participants.


More about the Mid Term elections tomorrow, but I expect a Democratic sweep. It is hard to believe that with 52% saying they want a Democratic victory and only 33% a Republican, anything else can result. Here in London, there is a celebratory mood about the prospects.



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