Cambridge, the city where I lived and worked for many years, suffers from some major plagues, of which the most notable are tourists and tourism, and consumer shops and shoppers.

Although connected, and encouraging each other, the tourists and tourism are two distinct problems.


The tourism industry here is parasitic on some colleges of the University, with the annoying arrogance that seems to claim that if you're not intelligent enough to go to University, you have a right to use the University buildings for profit, getting in the way of the appointed work of the University.

Unfortunately, the local government is anti-intellectual (``town versus gown'' hatred) and promotes tourism (as well as actively causing obstruction itself). The current national government is also keen on tourism, and seems to be committed to bringing the top Universities' standards down to the average, so there's unlikely to be much help from that quarter.

A useful analogy

``Tourism is to culture as pornography is to beauty''

There are many similarities between tourism and pornography:

They are both exploitative
In both of them, the (financial) beneficiaries are not those of whom an attribute is being used
they both attempt to expose the viewer to something that the viewer is missing
it appears to be the normal case dictation that tourists lack culture, and that pornography users lack beauty
they both misuse the exploited attribute
beauty is used as something to lust over, and culture as something to gawp over


(This includes most language students, who are sent here to get them away from their parents over the summer, rather than in any serious expectation that they will learn English.)

The most noticeable thing about these is the obstruction they cause; this is made all the more annoying by the arrogant assumption that they're entitled to take up all the pavement (sidewalk) and force other people into the road. (This doesn't work on me, at 16st!) To add insult to injury, the nations of origin of the worst offenders these ways seem to be those whose economies are shored up by our tax money (which the European government enforces, rather than letting money from a European country go to people who really need support -- but are not white).

Less popular than is claimed...

A rumour seems to be put about that tourism benefits ``local people'' and either that it also benefits the university or that the university should bow to people less capable than its members and shut up (the local rag wrote something that, in context, seemed to mean this, worded as ''the University should be reasonable''!)... just try muttering ``****** tourist'' at someone obviously local who steps out in front of you, and you'll start getting a sample of what local people really do think about tourism!

Local people

In Cambridge PC-speak, this means people not connected with either the University or with high-tech industry; it is nothing to do with where they are from.

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