Tuesday. 21/5/2019

The Monocle Minute

Opinion / Andrew Tuck

Safety in numbers

A bag in front of my house. Inside are bank cards, make-up but any cash is long gone. A quick look on the security camera – and there are the two female thieves dumping the evidence of their crime. The footage is perfect. I put it on a memory stick. It turns out my local police station is no longer open to the public but there’s one in a neighbouring borough I can go to. The woman on the front desk reluctantly takes the bag but does not want the footage evidence or my name. “It’s terrible but we just don’t have the resources”.

And in London – and most of the UK – it’s true that they don’t. And, of course, when terrorism and violent organised crime is so prevalent, petty thievery is of little consequence. Yet big cities that give up on the everyday policing risk a lot – a return to people leaving the city core in pursuit of safety when they have children or grow old. It also risks dislocating the relationship between police and community.

The resources stretch is the same reason, no doubt, that when you walk through Cambridge Circus in the city’s West End you will see kids waiting to see the Harry Potter theatre show – and a crack deal going down. Or why the manager of a central London supermarket tells you that they no longer call the police when they have shoplifters – no point.

Anyone who believes that London’s police have all the resources they need is probably driving in a ministerial car with a nice police escort. They can’t see any shortage. But in London it’s shaping daily life.

Elections / Europe

Continental choice

On Thursday the starting gun will fire for the EU elections; the world’s second-largest democratic exercise (after India’s general election) is held over four days across 28 countries. Often a lacklustre affair – turnout in 2014 was just 43 per cent – this year’s vote is set to be more contentious: increasingly strident right-wing Eurosceptic parties from Italy, France, Germany and elsewhere are expected to make gains. A similar trend is likely to emerge from the unplanned and unwanted involvement of the UK, where the election is being seen as a bellwether of opinion about leaving the EU. The latest polling shows that the Brexit Party, led by Nigel Farage, is predicted to win big. Results will start to appear on Sunday evening; until then, Europeans are holding their breath.

Aviation / Geneva

Fuel’s gold

The European Business Aviation Convention & Exhibition begins today in Geneva, with 13,000 visitors expected to land in the Swiss city. Solutions to curb the industry’s environmental impact are likely to take up a lot of airtime: a record 23 planes arrived at the event fuelled by sustainable alternative jet fuels. This new category of fuel promises to help reduce carbon emissions and has already been used by manufacturers including Gulfstream and Bombardier. But Sean Maffett, an analyst for Airsound Aviation, warns that it might be too early to consider this a sea-change for the industry. “Biofuel schemes come and go,” he says. “London City Airport had hoped that by 2015 all British Airways flights from there would be powered by fuel production from London’s rubbish. Low oil prices and jittery investors sadly meant that the scheme was mothballed in 2016.” Let’s hope that this time the solution takes off – and that the biofuels are genuinely sustainable.

Urbanism / Paris

Road to recovery

As restoration work begins on Paris’s Notre-Dame cathedral, its neighbour is also going under the knife. Parts of the Hôtel-Dieu, the French capital’s oldest hospital, will be transformed into a mixed-use structure, some of which will be open to the public. Developer Novaxia purchased about a third of the building and has laid out a smart master plan: one area will host research facilities for biotechnology and artificial intelligence; another a nursery and student housing. There will also be terraces, a restaurant, a food court and shops. The hospital board will oversee the process in an attempt to reassure citizens that it’s not selling out to commercial interests. They could also point out that this development is likely to have a positive effect on the hospital’s patients: it’s far more pleasant to be in a lively environment than hidden out of the community’s sight.

Society / Japan

Just the job

It’s a good time to be a Japanese graduate. New government figures show that the employment rate for the latest batch of spring graduates stands at 97.6 per cent, second only to the previous year’s record high of 98 per cent. As Japan’s population ages, the shortage of workers means that the quantity of jobs on offer now exceeds the number of graduates looking for work. Indeed, the tiny fall in employment this year has been put down to those who opted not to take a job in order to reapply for their first-choice companies. Employment for high-school graduates looks bright too – 98.2 per cent at the latest count, which is reminiscent of the economic boom of the bubble years. Estimates point to Japan’s job surplus reaching 6.4 million by 2030: no wonder the government is now looking to push the retirement age to 70.

M24 / The Big Interview

Ottessa Moshfegh

The acclaimed American writer’s short stories first appeared in The Paris Review, The New Yorker, Granta and others. She went on to publish her first novella McGlue in 2014 and won the PEN/Hemingway Award for her second novel, Eileen. Her writing is whip-smart and bleakly funny. In conversation with Monocle’s Chloë Ashby she talks about her third novel My Year of Rest and Relaxation, New York in the early 2000s and why she writes.

Monocle Films /

10 things you’ll find out in Madrid

Taking an interest and making connections have been at the heart of our unmissable annual gatherings. Tune in for a preview of the Monocle Quality of Life Conference programme, which is packed with thought-provoking ideas and inspiring speakers. This is where you need to be.

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