The Further Adventures of...

So, following my last instalment, I spent a fairly uneventful weekend. Last night, two noder friends independently suggested to me that the United States of America may be on the brink of some form of collapse. It's an interesting thought. I can see some of the faultlines, but I'm not at all sure what would trigger balkanisation or civil war. Maybe it's just liberal wishful thinking to expect one of the world's great powers to disintegrate, but I'm struck by the thought that the United Kingdom's continuing devolution may be leading this country in that direction.

It's been lovely and sunny here in London today. Coming to work this morning, I passed a rack of tabloid newspapers at St James's Park tube station. The Mirror (newly rid of Piers Morgan) was announcing 'We'll kill Huntley' - a reference to convicted child killer Ian Huntley. The Sun, clearly keen to keep up the old tabloid rivalries, had 'We'll kill Madonna'. Unsurprisingly, neither story featured on the BBC TV news. Once I got to the office, I found my time mainly occupied in making literally thousands of photocopies. This week is going to be all that way, I fear, as I'm organising, and largely producing, a massive mail-out.

At lunch-time, I went and got a cup of tomato soup from the nearest branch of EAT. Looking out across the park from my office window, I could see scores of people relaxing on the grass, soaking up the sun and enjoying the summery atmosphere. We don't get properly summery weather much in London, so everyone's taking the chance while they've got it. After lunch, the copying continues. At one stage I realise I've made over 7000 copies. I notice that the packet of copier paper I've just emptied has a big cheery green picture of a tree on it, and '50%' beside it. 'Wow,' I think, 'that's not so bad - half of this is recycled.' Closer inspection shows that at least 50% of the paper is from responsibly managed forests, which isn't really the same, somehow. I feel like I've become the death of trees. After the copying, I started sticking labels on forms and envelopes. It's mind-blowingly repetitive work, so I was glad for a colleague who called out the cricket scores periodically. I didn't really spend four years at university so that I could be an envelope-stuffer four years after graduating, though.

I actually managed to get home at a reasonably humane time today. For the past eight months I've been taking evening classes in Swedish. But now the course has finished, and I missed the final exam while I was in Torquay last week. So today I left the office at about 6pm, and came straight home. The confirmation class I was helping with also finished last week, so I'm looking at a lot of free evenings. I may even get some serious writing about history done, and noded. I see from the BBC news website that the Canadian Prime Minister, Paul Martin, has called a general election. this election will be held on June 28, 2004. That's right - just over a month's time. Yet the election campaign in the neighbouring United States has been rumbling on for five months - as long as Mr Martin has been in office - and will do so for more than as long again. The US election has already cost a fortune in donations, and will subsequently cost millions of tax dollars in federal subsidies. No-one outside the States understands the complicated rigmarole of primaries and caucuses. Why not do things quickly, like the Canadians?