It's fair to say that, depending on where you live in London, you can't spit without hitting a betting shop. Most people frequently do (spit, I mean). No wonder TB is on the rise. Opinion seems to be a little divided as to whether the risk to public health is real or theoretical. But theoretical or not, I'd like to walk the street without the risk of getting gobbed on every 5 seconds. Why is it that some people can't take two steps without sharing the contents of their mouth? (and don't tell me it's a cultural thing because I see people of all nationalities doing it). All sorts of people are spitting everywhere, in every direction in every minute of every day.
Anyway, let's fight one battle at a time and the battle for today is the one against betting shops. The Government recently rejected the proposal to put betting shops in their own planning class (a recommendation put forward in the Portas Review). MPs David Lammy, Dianne Abbott and Cllrs Nilgun Canver and David Schmitz are a growing league of politicians who have something to say on the subject.
To get to my nearest bookshop I have to catch a bus and a tube, whilst the local betting shops are a mere gobshot away in a variety of different directions and yet, the Government sees fit to reject the idea of making it harder to get planning permission. I mean what do they think? 'Oh, the poor plebs look like they need a a little help getting out of poverty. Let's throw another betting shop at them and see how they do, that'll solve the problem. Come to think of it they haven't quite reached their spit quota yet so while we're at it let's send some people down there to gob all over them so that they all catch TB and die. We'll have them all swimming in sputum by Christmas but let's send them some armbands so it looks like we're actually doing something to help.'
Why should these shops be able to set up wherever they like in vacant pubs, restaurants, cafes, bars or takeaways without applying for planning permission? Why not make them jump through a few hoops? Could it be that the councils don't want to deal with the extra paperwork?
By comparison, as a homeowner of an ex-council flat you have to ask for permission from the council before you even change the colour of your front door. Just to upset people even more they paint it some inexplicable shade of brown, the likes of which I have never seen on any paint chart. It is a hue that wavers somewhere between a skid mark and very very cheap chocolate. You have to get the nod of approval before you put in double glazing, for example. I practically have to ask for planning permission before I vomit my disgust down the toilet bowl after reading the overly boastful local council newsletter. We couldn't have that kind of thing entering the communal environment could we? No No No. We are restricted in ever new and inventive ways. Here are just some of the signs of prohibition that are plastered across London boroughs.
My children can't play ball games, feed the pigeons, ride their bikes, but it's quite alright for them to slip on a patch of mucus and fall headlong into some geezer stood outside the local bookies counting his change who's so juiced up to the eyeballs that he thinks his 2p profit is actually a tenner in disguise. I've got nothing against having a flutter every now and then but if betters had to pay bus and tube fare and travel halfway across London to furnish their pleasures then perhaps they'd think twice about spending money they didn't have. After that, if they're still so keen to waste their cash, they can come round my place, wipe my face with their tenner and throw their money down the loo after I've vomited in my monthly fit of rage.