Monday, 26 March 2012


I am embarrassed to admit that, despite my attempt at a veneer of sophistication, I take tourist buses to orient myself in new places. It isn't something you're supposed to do, unless you are a very inexperienced, gauche kind of person, but I find it often helps me figure out the lie of the land and also supplies bits of (sometimes, I'll admit, somewhat useless) information that I'd never discover any other way.

Anyway, enough of the self-justification. The point is, yesterday, in Washington DC, while on one of these shameful excursions,I heard an exchange that made the whole thing worthwhile. After the tour guide had told us about Thurgood Marshall, the first African-American justice of the Supreme Court and the lawyer behind the Brown v. the Education Department case and explained that the Brown case ended segregation, I heard the small boy in front of me ask his mother, 'What's segregation?'

(I also learnt that the cup cake shop near my hotel - the one with the permanent queue - is a cult, thanks to a TV programme, so bang goes my theory. Or perhaps not.)


  1. I do this too. I did it in Dublin in 2008. The driver was very keen to demonstrate the general goodness of life in Ireland by mentioning all the cranes on the building sites we were passing. So I asked him who was going to live in all these spiffy new apartments "That'll be all the people who have come to work in our lovely country!" "Oh, so what kind of work do they do?" I asked. "Sure, and they're all working on the building sites!" So I wasn't surprised that the Irish ecomony ended up where it did, with all the migrants gone and the apartments empty and derelict. Sad.

    1. But how do you explain the rest of Europe? Perhaps they were all operating off the same daft plan.