The past two days found me in the United Kingdom for a meeting which was held at a retreat centre. Once I had landed and found my way I quickly realized that my plans to take the train would not get me to my destination in time as the trains were running very late. In Germany people often get incredibly frustrated with a 2 minute delay with a train – they should try England. I managed to board one of the many coaches and found myself dashing to the open door only afterwards realizing that there were people queuing up at the stop. The whole trip I found myself reflecting that I feel more comfortable in Germany than in England, despite the difference in language. In fact, in my mind I spent a lot of time translating all the signs from English to German.
Once in the bus and ready for departure the driver announced the safety precautions and added that we would all be filmed on Closed Circuit Television (CCTV). I realized that down the length of the bus, were small cameras, and a TV screen in front cycled through the views of the interior, the door, the rear, and the front exterior of the bus. We were filming cars in traffic, and passengers inside the bus.
Down the M23 Highway on tall lighting poles, or on road signs were more cameras. When I changed buses, the bus stop, the Marks and Spensors, and parking lot all had camera. At my final stop I followed the directions on my printed sheet of paper and walked through a residential neighbourhood. Several homes had cameras on their doorways, or on the driveway. The elementary school had a camera at the entrance and one out on the playground.
It was erie to feel continuously watched by some all seeing inhuman black lensed video camera. I knew that the UK had many issues with CCTV, but it seemed so Orwellian.