Small mind and big brain

An interesting day . I went to interview Branko Milanovic for the openDemocracy podcast. He was late. He apologised profusely. He said we would understand when we heard his story. We did.

He just missed a train on the underground. As it clattered out of the station the draught of air caught up his cap and blew it over the edge of the platform.

Obviously resourceful and unflappable he approached a person nearby and asked if he could use his umbrella to fish the cap up with. He knew it was pouring with rain, he knew he had quite a walk at the other end of his tube journey, he didn’t want to get utterly soaked.

The cap was swiftly successfully hooked and landed. Only then did the trouble start. The next train due in to the station was stopped and held just outside while he and the owner of the brolly were hustled away by some form of station security official.

They were both, including the brolly owner who had done nothing except lend the item in question, given a good dressing down. And, most bizarrely of all, they were told that they were not allowed to catch another train from the station in question. They were made to leave the building and told to continue their journeys by other means.

This incident seem an extraordinary overreaction to a deed which while not exactly recommended seems to have been quick, safe and successful, and the addition of the small-minded vindictiveness of refusing to allow them to get on a train at that station seems the act of a bully.

I wondered whether the treatment he received had anything to do with his accent which would have revealed him as being not British in origin. Perhaps an extension of Polish plumber paranoia to the London underground.

Branko Milanovic, as irony would have it, has interesting things to say about unease in Europe and the USA over globalisation, arguing that fear of immigration is one of two main causes of the dissatisfaction.

He’s also got a great illustration of the effects of genuine free movement of labour from football and what he terms the “leg drain”. Maybe FIFA should be put in charge of an global ministry of workers.

2 Replies to “Small mind and big brain”

  1. Good grief. Whilst it’s good to know that a member of staff was actually aware of what was happening on the platform, the rest is appalling. I wonder if surveillance is possible without small-mindedness? I suspect not.

  2. and is there any possible variation on surveillance which is less alienating, or necessarily not, since surveillance is needed only when community has died?

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