And now a word from Hugh Sykes:
"This is a photo of two mystified Italians, just arrived at London City airport on a full plane of people almost all of whom wanted to take the Docklands Railway to get into town.
But it was closed. For 'capacity improvements'. (I like it!)
Plenty of taxis rolled up, of course. But no one in the queue of about thirty people chose the taxi option. The Rip-Off London Black Cab Fares are too well known now.
So we all waited for a bus. None came for about 25 minutes.
Then two arrived.
The destination board on o ne of them said 'Stratford'. Just to be sure, I asked the driver if his bus connected with the Central Line underground station at Stratford.
'No,' said the driver, with an indifferent expression.
But - I pointed out - Stratford bus station is also a Central Line underground station.
"Yes," said the driver, with an indifferent expression.
Sigh. I told my Italian companions that I knew more than the bus driver, and that they'd be ok to connect at Stratford.
They were fine.
This was such a horrible, mean-minded, ignorant contrast with my experience of warm and generous politeness in Beijing that I have devised a London 2012 pre-Olympic award scheme:
THE 2012 LONDON OLYMPICS WOODEN SPOON RACE
The Olympic Replacement Bus Service: GOLD
The Olympic Essential Engineering Works: Silver
The Olympic Rip-Off Black Cab Fare £100 from Heathrow to London: Bronze
The Olympic Stinking Hamburgers and Onions on a disgusting cart outside
the British Museum, the London Eye, the Tower of London and every other
tourist venue you can think of.
ADD YOUR OWN !"