Tuesday, 31 July 2012

Malicious social bloggers

I really can't get my head around malicious social bloggers.

Yes, I rant and rave when twitter continually suggests I follow the altogether sweet, rather beautiful, but to me, rather inconsequential Holly Willoughby.

But take the idiot (and thankfully it appears the Police have) who twitter-abused Olympic diver Tom Daley.

What goes through the minds of this type of moron?

Is it jealousy of a quite handsome lad making a name for himself as a superb sportsman representing his country? Is it that he sadly had nothing better to do? Or is it, as I suspect, just sheer, bloody-minded ignorance?

Having seen the twitter conversation reproduced in the Independent newspaper, if the idiot is stuck for something better to do, perhaps he should consider having extra English lessons for a start. His spelling and grammar - the 140 character constraint of twitter aside - is absolutely appalling.

My first reaction (aside from the sheer, wondrous amazement of watching them together - I really don't know how they do that amazing diving business), when Tom and his synchronised diving partner Peter Waterfield failed in the medal table was, "Drat. What a shame. They missed."

And then I thought - well, there's always Rio in 2016.

It never even crossed my mind to tweet and insult him about his late father who was taken too early with a brain tumour. It didn't even cross my mind to tweet and insult him!

What Mr Malicious Tweeter needs is a week shackled to a dustcart in Stratford picking up the litter left after the Olympics each day.

Monday, 30 July 2012

Door-to-door charity bag collectors

I'm a big fan of giving no longer needed or wanted, perfectly-working or nearly new stuff to charity. And with a shop from one of the country's finest hospices, St Gemma's, almost on our doorstep, they always receive first refusal.

However, that doesn't stop the flood of plastic bags coming through the letterbox from a rich panoply of charities, some of which don't even have a presence in Leeds, others of which I've never even heard of.

A bag dropped on the mat this morning (the 5th charity bag to so do since Friday - our area must be recognised at either extremely charitable, or extremely gullible) from Against Breast Cancer UK, and a very worthwhile charity to boot.

However, it wasn't directly from the charity themselves, although they will reap minor benefits.

It was from Recycling Clothes Company Limited (www.recyclingclothescompany.co.uk), and they made the bold claim that:

"We will donate £75 per tonne of textiles received".

Wonderful. 7½p per kilo.

6/7 items? The charity could attend a car boot sale and flog at £1 each yourself and make almost 100 times what this company is offering.

But wait for it. They also seek bed linen, paired shoes, handbags, perfumes, CD's, video games, DVD's, toys, and the best of all, mobile phones. All at 7½p a kilo.

I find this absolutely abhorrent.

I think it's fair to say the charity is possibly not aware of the exact ramifications as to what this company collects on their behalf. Or more so, what the company collects and doesn't give to them.

That the Recycling Clothes Company Limited is benefiting to such a large a degree on the back of collecting for charity is immoral. Yes, they have a right to make a living, but on this occasion, I feel it is tantamount to dishonesty.


Friday, 27 July 2012

Hi Boo - another unbelievably stupid re-brand

Many will remember how we had a short and extremely expensive (not for the brand ID people, who laughed all the way to Fred Shred's office) opportunity to purchase stamps and postal orders from Consignia, the suited, overpaid and underutilised powers that be having decided that to buy stamps and postal orders from a business called the Post Office was no longer sustainable.

These great people felt the consumer had become fed-up visiting a Post Office, and would much prefer to visit an infinitely superior-named Consignia Office instead. Although, despite its new name, the Consignia Office would continue to sell stamps and postal orders, but refuse point blank to sell any Consignias.

This lack of availability of Consignias for purchase by those members of the public wishing to purchase them from their local Consignia Offce, may go a long way to explain why the Consignia name lasted about 4 minutes before re-emerging from the howls of laughter and bucketloads of derision as the re-renamed Post Office.

Now Hibu is arriving. Or should I say Hibü, for those who can spell - or be bothered spelling it - by holding down the Alt key on their keyboard while typing 129 on their numerical pads to produce the ü with an umlaut above it. Those with a combined querty/numberpad, as is the case for many laptops and most netbooks, will be breaking the brand guidelines from the word go. As for smartphones and pad things........!

Back in May, the company chief executive of the newly proposed Hibü, Mike Pocock, admitted that the name was meaningless, although he did backtrack as quickly as he could to insist the word tells a story and the new 'soft-shouldered' edges of the logo (hurrah for the brand ID people again!) 'represents the people behind the identity' and that as a word, it is no more meaningless than Google or Yahoo when they were introduced.

Oh sorry! You asked what a Hib Alt+129 ü is.

It's going to be the soon to be former Yell. The little yellow finger that does the walking for Yellow Pages online. Yellow Pages itself won't be  renamed, but you'll no longer be using yell.com. You'll head for the more sensible Hibü, umlaut and all.

Do have a gander at the logo. The corporate ID peoples' palms must have no skin left from rubbing them together with glee (a teen television programme they were presumably able to watch in its entirety after their lengthy 3 minutes coming up with this new, all-singing, all-dancing, cutting-edge, truly-representative logo) when the saw Yell coming.

Unless I am misinformed and it has indeed been designed by a staff member's 8 year old.

Thursday, 26 July 2012

Sorry. you can't blame Chancellor George Osborne for everything...

Some of the financial moralists have come out with guns blazing, baying for Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne's head.

"The dip of 0.7% is all his fault." "He's good on work experience but nothing else". "Sack him." "Worst double-dip for 50 years" Etc etc.

Oh shut up the lot of you, you bunch of moaning, overpaid, under-talented, hypocritical wastes of space.

Granted, he might preside over the most expensive fuel in Europe -  but it hasn't escaped my notice that the previous incumbents did nothing much about that themselves, did they?

So come off it guys! It's not just his fault. What exactly do you want the poor man to do?

It's the dishonest bankers and financially suited low lives who have got us into this particular mess. Fixing LIBOR. Gambling with our money. Offering mortgages to those who could ill afford them. Sucking millions out of us with their flatulent pay and bonuses to reward their incompetence and dishonesty. Fiddling while Threadneedle Street burns.

I know you need a scapegoat, but check at home first before you head off trying to find some political laundry of Mr Osborne's that YOU think MIGHT needs washing in public to subsequently try and take the spotlight off yourselves.

He's far more honourable, honest and trustworthy than you lot have been or ever will be.

And what makes him any less qualified to hold his democratically elected position than you are to hold your own jobs-for-the-boys positions, where you seem totally unaccountable to anyone, as you continue to pay yourselves immoral remunerations for creating havoc and misery for everyone else?

"If you don't pay the right money, you won't attract the right talent." Yes. That has worked well with Bob Diamond, Fred Shred, Jerry del Missier, Alison Carnwath, Marcus Aigus etc etc etc. Better ennoble them quickly and ensure they walk away with at least £20m each.

And don't say the Chancellor's austerity moves caused millions to lose their jobs.

I'm sorry. That was entirely your fault.

1,000,000% your fault, to use an accountancy analogy shared between X-Factor's Louis Walsh and yourselves.

So shut up the lot of you.

Tuesday, 24 July 2012

Plumbers and electricians go to jail, do not pass go, do not collect 200

So, Treasury minister David Gauke infoms the great British public today that paying a plumber in cash to get a discount is morally wrong.

It would appear that when you pay someone cash in hand to save on the paperwork or reduce the costs of fixing something, you are defrauding the state by taking money from the NHS and police force and reducing the money available for other public spending.

Yes Mr Gauke, I suppose it is.

But how about the billions of pounds that the wonderful Dave Hartnett from HMRC (Revenue and Customs) let Vodafone off the hook (pardon pun) with. Or the millions Goldman Sachs got away with.

Then there's the small matter of the sale of the actual Revenue and Customs buildings to a bunch of parasitic, off-shore tax dodgers in Bermuda. Very sensible that one.

Or the millions the government allow the private train companies to suck out of the economy in return for an appalling service - subsidies that allowed the Souter family to trouser £38million of public money that could otherwise be used towards providing the public with a better and cheaper service.

But think of all the money the government could make if they brought in a tax on incompetence - the useless and dishonest banks, lackadaisical security firms, totally wasteful outsourcings, PFI director and shareholder pocket-lining. The EDS's, Capitas and Fujitsus. All the government consultants who are more con than sultant. The national scandal that is a total waste of money in skys-the-limit fees to the legal profession who are so vastly overpaid as to be immoral (and they complain about the footballers - at least those £200k a week wastrels aren't paid out of the government coffers like the off-planet wig and gown brigade are). The civil servants who pay themselves via limited companies at single figure income tax rates.

The list is endless.

And we're still waiting for any of the banks to stand up and say sorry for the misery that have caused, and continue to cause, during the past 4 years. But no - they still pay their festering and useless directors huge sums of money in pay, bonuses and golden handshakes/handcuffs to do a job that a nine year old child could patently, from their performance over the past 5 years, do far better.

Yes Mr Gauke. By all means feel free to have a go at the cash-in-hand plumber or electrician.

But why not start at home in Parliament Square first?

Get your own house in order first, and then you can dictate to us, the hard-pressed public who installed you in Westminster, how to pay our plumber.

Sunday, 22 July 2012

Rewarding failure with shedloads of money...

There has been much commentary in the media about the shed-loads of cash awarded to the failed and recently retired bank chief executives, as they hang their heads without too much shame in their financial services trough.

Then there's the dismal senior executives in councils up and down the land who, having fouled-up in their Boroughs, leave with huge golden handshakes, only to pop up again in a different Borough, on an equally huge remuneration.

And more recently, chief executive of G4S, Nick Buckles, not as yet resigned, but on a salary of £890k and reckoned to walk away with £20million should he resign.

That these people are handsomely rewarded for sheer incompetence and total failure, there can be no doubt, but there are others outside these high-profile merchants.

Take Frankie Cocozza (and quite frankly, I wish someone would - as far away as possible), one of the rejects form the finals of X-Factor. So well-known, that his name has to be subtitles with "former X-Factor entrant" in every piece of self-publicity he undertakes. He went through to the final twelve,  but later had to quit the show after admitting to taking cocaine. Then, with his new found 'fame', went on to finish as runner-up in the absolutely putrid Celebrity Big Brother 2012.

Now I appreciate the Big Brother franchise is as useful and entertaining as an HR Director, but he then went on to guest on the vapid "Million Pound Drop" (presenter Davina "dreadful trousers" McCall never seems to do as good a version of herself as impressionist Debra Stephenson!).

And the same applies to many of the talentless runners-up of reality TV shows. They suddenly become celebrities, for absolutely no apparent reason, being rewarded handsomely for their failure.

So perhaps the tabloid newspapers need to more fairly apportion the failure blame around. Admittedly, their blank-brained readers prefer the exploits of the talentless entertainers over the talentless denizens of industry and commerce, but why be so one-sided. Yes, the 'entertainers' cause less misery to the burdened taxpayer (the exception being when these witless souls being paid to appear on the publicly-funded BBC).

But come on guys.

Thursday, 19 July 2012

We are delighted to announce....

Yes. There's always some company, somewhere, that is "delighted to announce".

Me, I'm delighted about their increased level of delight, although, if truth be told, I don't, in reality,  give a monkey's banana.

When I was editor of a monthly business magazine in Leeds some moons ago, I allowed the 'news' section to grow to some 8-10 pages, mainly to allow those members of the Chamber who didn't use many of the services or attend many of the events to at least see some sort of presence within the business environs of the city via their press release in the magazine.

It also led to the odd free lunch now and again for some product launch, ceremony, ministerial visit or other.

However, the blue pencil always went through any references to their level of "delight".

I allowed them to be totally delighted within the confines of their own offices, rather than worry their fellow Chamber members, or for that matter, me, with their delight.

"For your comfort and safety, this station operates a no-smoking policy" the mechanised lady in the PA system reminds passengers every few minutes at Leeds Rail Station.

No love, I'm afraid you have that completely wrong. You should be saying "Because of government policy, you are not allowed to smoke in this station."

And your other saying, "A selection of hot and cold snacks is available on the train" really needs to be changed. "A selection of over-priced crap that Heath and Safety haven't quite got around to condemning yet, and which you could have otherwise purchased on the High Street for less than half the price, is available on the train."

We always seem to have announcements and notices bringing a panoply of important hogwash to our attention. It's the Sainsbury's effect, where we were warned, once upon a time, with the notice on the jar that stated "This peanut butter may contain traces of nuts and could therefore be unsuitable for use by people with nut allergies". Ah, so your peanut butter might otherwise be a fraud and contain cement instead then guys?

And as a final couple, the great bus statements. "Do not alight from the bus while it is moving". The average pensioner would have to be David Copperfield in order to get through the closed doors when the bus is in motion. 

And. "Do not stand in front of the white line or engage the driver in conversation". For many people, unless they are wearing their reading glasses, they have to stand in front of the white line in order to read the notice!

Wednesday, 18 July 2012

Get fit like Paris Hilton...

The sub-headline on the front page of the Sunday Times business section for an inside story was "Get fit like Paris Hilton..."

I do not want to get fit like Paris Hilton.

I do not care about Paris Hilton.

There is absolutely nothing she does that either contributes constructively to my daily life or increases my knowledge bank.

And I certainly don't wish to read about this vacuous, pseudo-celebrity in my quality Sunday newspaper.

And as for getting fit. I suspect her antidote to this is to throw some of her family millions at it and get someone else to get fit for her.

Neither do I wish to hear about her friends, those overpaid, underweight, miserable beings called models. They are nothing but wooden clotheshorses elevated by the media to the position of rotary garden driers, glorified because they have struck it lucky having peraded around in the sewn rags and bits of affixed stray wool classed as "designer clothes" in front of people who embrace fashion but totally lack style.

I would have thought there is enough news in the world without the necessity of resorting to publicising these 'socialite' wastrels and their equally useless peers. Nobody really cares about them and how they fill their empty days.

Tuesday, 17 July 2012

Bloody Olympics.....

So the purple capped and topped Olympic Brand Marketing Police (fondly referred to as “Knob Heads” - by me, at least) are monitoring the UK to ensure that businesses during London 2012 who advertise should not include a list of banned words, including "gold", "silver" and "bronze", "summer", "sponsors" and "London". Under specially introduced legislation for the London Games, they have the right to enter shops and offices and bring court action with fines of up to £20,000.

This is appalling and unacceptable.

I was unaware it could be possible to ban the use of "gold", "silver" and "bronze", "summer", "sponsors" and "London". They are common dictionary words available to anyone who can write English. And a kebeb shop in Stratford that has been there over 20 years having to blot out its name because it is called “Olympic Kebabs” is a national disgrace.

Someone perhaps needs to take McDonalds to court - banning the word "chips" at all other fish and chip venues because of McDonalds? The reconstituted rubbish they serve as chips are nowhere near the traditional "chips" as we know them!

I, for one, object to this draconian disgrace.

The Olympics have been already given £9.3 billion of public money without asking my permission, £675million of that having come out of the Lottery, which is not what I buy a lottery ticket for – to support this restrictive brandfest. Many of the sponsors are not only unsuitable for the job, but either dishonest or morally corrupt. And no doubt the prices they will be over-charging visitors in order to play catch-up on the expense of their sponsorship!

For example:
  • McDonalds - hardly the ideal food partner. 
  • Lloyds TS – an untrustworthy bank. 
  • Visa – making it impossible for visitors who don’t have a Visa card. 
  • Thomas Cook – overcharging big time on hotel and travel packages to the Olympics. 
  • Cadbury – new owners Kraft reneged so much on their deal that Cadbury heiress Felicity Loudon, (great-grandaughter of the founder) has sold her £30million mansion in order to start afresh using British ingredients and no additives to give people better value for money. 
  • Deliotte - regular Private Eye spotlights, helping tax-dodgers and making a fortune from receiverships at the expense of the unfortunate liquidated businesses.
  • Coca-Cola - themselves sponsored by British dentists and WeightWatchers.
  • Acer - you try and get your laptop fixed!
And that’s just for starters.

Meanwhile, the G4S fiasco is yet another bank-style stitch up. Should the useless Chief Executive (£830,000-a-year) be fired, like the bank-robbing chief executives, he will walk away with £20 million in pay and benefits as a reward for his complete and utter incompetence.

Yet the brave lads from the Armed Forces have had to sacrifice already-booked holidays and wedding plans (woe betide those without insurance) to make up the security deficit for a daily pittance!

I suppose at least G4S hasn't lost any prisoners this week – yet.

Thursday, 12 July 2012

The masses communicate...just about

I admit that I use Facebook. And furthermore, I admit to being an early user of Facebook. Not long after Facebook started, a website I was honorary webmaster for (local youth club) a few years ago, put their volunteer workers' profiles on-line in a question/answer format, one of those questions being: Facebook/Myspace?

I had a look at these sites, and, as someone happy to make satirical replies about all and sundry, I was hooked.

Yes, at times, I act my IQ rather than my age, but it has reunited me with a number of people from my past, who, unlike some, I am delighted to get back in touch with! A particular example is a friend from college (in Dublin) who I hadn't seen for 30 years. I had a flying visit to Dublin and was able to meet this man, potentially one of Dublin's finest opticians and a gentleman to boot, for lunch and a chat.

However, what does amuse me is the varying levels of communication represented on Facebook. Peoples' literary or grammatical abilities do not concern me in the least - yes, I do feel sad that the standard of English has sunk further than the Titanic, but some of the content has me reeling in the aisles.

While some people insist on plotting their every move during the day, others only come to life when they can tell, or rather boast, to all and sundry their current international whereabouts (be honest, we all do!) or their new car. The clever ones plot their business ventures. Then there are those who make statements that would require a professorship in brain wave movements to understand  - for example, one word statements such as "Tree", and then one of tree-poster's friends will reply "Exactly. I'm so Matt Sheeran". As Mr Spock on Star Trek used to say, "does not compute".

And then there is the football brigade, who rarely message about anything else bar football.

Yes, the football brigade. They call it the "beautiful game" - I suppose they have to, because some of the fans are far removed from being in any way beautiful.

I noticed the following conversation on Facebook. The **** refers to the basest of profanities, the 'F' word so beloved by the football fraternity. The spelling and grammar, or lack of both, throughout, is in its original posted form.

Thread poster: Love being on Orange!!!! **** you peeps on o2
Response 1: **** u orange peeps lol xx
Response 2**** em  all ill stick 2 Tesco
Thread poster: Least I can text and ring people!!!!!!!
Response 3: i can whats app that'll do me! x (anyone understand that one?)
Response 4: Mine O2 works fine so  **** U RIGHT BACK !!!
Thread poster: Lmao

The masses it seems, simply just can't communicate any more. They can't spell. They can't punctuate. And it seems they can't really speak either.

I really do wonder how they manage to fill out application forms, be it for jobs, passports or even to join Facebook in the first place!


Monday, 9 July 2012

The banks...

It's really quite amazing. You head off to the shops at 9.00am. The newsagent has been open for 3 hours. The baker has been open for 2 hours, as has the local supermarket. But the banks.
Well, they're not open yet! 9.30pm is their awakening time. If you're lucky, or if they're not "undertaking staff training" - this is their terminology for finding new ways of holding the public to ransom or fiddling with public money while the PC programme burns.

So you try the hole in the wall, but there's no cash available. Then when you do finally get into the bank just before lunch, despite there being eight 'tills', only three are open. And the queue of people you now have the luck to head (this will be the only success you will have with your bank this year) extends around the block. 

Banks are completely fabulous.

Whatever the situation here, the problems in the Japanese banking system are getting worse. 

With thanks to the Sunday Times of long ago, I remember the following; 

The Origami Bank folded yesterday
The Sumo Bank has gone belly-up 
The Bonsai Bank has threatened to cut back its branches. 
This follows a nose-dive in Kamikazi Bank's share prices, 
The price of Khazi's stock went down the pan
Rumours abound about the Tenko Bank after staff were locked in last night
Security men at the Karate Bank have got the chop
Things look fishy at the Sushi Bank. 
However, things are worst at the Geisha Bank - staff there all got screwed.

Scientology and others

With the high profile separation of Tom Cruise and his orange crate from Katie Holmes appearing all over the media, Scientology is once again back in the news.

I have always said, each to their own with their beliefs, and whatever makes people happy, providing they leave me alone, I've no worries.

However, a belief in little green men, thought up by a science fiction writer (L of the Ron Mother Hubbard) who openly said "the best way to make a million is to start a religion" and who himself disappeared off in a camper van around Western America in 1980, defies belief.

The current chief executive of the business, a David Miscavige (puns on the "Miscavige of Justice" are no doubt rife) is also of the less-than-tall community. Rumour has it that the two of them often compare orange crates before standing up at one of their cult conventions to extoll the virtues of parting simpletons from their hard-earned cash.

The money would be far better spent on the homeless, rather than  helping Miscavige and his henchpeople further enlarge their huge property and cash portfolios.

However, to a degree, all religions and beliefs have their own cultish buffoonery.

Some might say virgin births and eating a cannibalistic-representing cracker, dispensed by man in a dress who, despite being celibate, preaches regularly on family values and goes to Wimbledon to watch the ball boys rather than the tennis, a bit weird.

Other would also question the presentation of 72 virgins to a dead man as being a bit strange. And without questioning the proof for the existence of these 72 pent up women in the first place. One can only assume the 72 virgins, after all these years, are now verging on the state of 50 shades of grey. Heaven help the man they actually get hold of.

And even a bearded man allegedly going up a mountain and coming back down down again with two rather heavy tablets of stone, ready engraved with commandments. Can anyone explain the whereabouts of the stonemason? Have you every tried to get a tombstone engraved halfway up a mountain in the desert. While I haven't attempted this myself, take it from me, it doesn't happen!

And wandering 40 years to cross a couple of hundred miles? And to turn left instead of right to where the oil fields were? What sort of a sage was this Moses bloke anyway?

A bit like having a 22 year old judge on X-Factor.

Sunday, 8 July 2012

Rip Off Britain part 94.....

Why should the motorist, who already pays more indirect taxation on driving for a smaller re-investment in transport than anyone else in Europe (not to forget the other indirect taxes such as council tax, water rates, TV licence, housing stamp duty, licences for functions, driving tests and licences, passports, licences for scaffolding, licences to operate a cherry-picker, licences to drive a taxi, business rates, planning permission, corporation tax, licences to sell alcohol/cigarettes, death duty [on already-taxed income], birth certificates, death certificates, marriage licences] etc etc etc), have to fork out further for the privilege of parking outside their own home (reminder: a home they already pay council tax on)?

It will come to the stage where shopkeepers and store managers will lose so many customers that they will either retreat to the relative safety of their local out-of- town shopping centre or retire to the relatively tax-free haven that is the car boot sale, and town centres will simply die.

I appreciate that many town centres can at times become completely gridlocked due to the number of vehicles, but this is at peak times when city executives insist on driving their car, with only themselves as passenger, into town. I make sure that my visits to town are at off-peak times, and I certainly object to paying over the odds for parking when I do go shopping that itself already includes 20% VAT that I cannot avoid. But the public transport infrastructure is simply not available to cater conveniently for my, and others', needs.

A round trip to town in my car, with a 2 hour stay, takes just under 3 hours. By bus it would take almost 5 hours, and leave me 'schlepping' all over the place from inward to outward bound bus stops which are miles from each other (and in the wrong direction to the centre for shopping).

But it's like everything else in this Kingdom. A complete rip-off.

Saturday, 7 July 2012

Quiz shows, banks and supermarkets

Maybe I'm just getting older and more miserable, but are quiz shows on television, and in particular on the BBC, - which I might add you and I fund to the tune of almost £200 a year each - becoming more inane and ridiculous? They all seem to follow the same format - a slick-witted presenter presiding over to two teams of "B" stars comprising of the same, old, second-rate stand-up comedians and unemployed soap stars, just because it’s one particular agent who holds sway over the BBC light entertainment department.

The format, presenters patter and audience reaction is identical, whichever the show.

It's just a great pity the programmes on the BBC aren't as good as their link advertisements between those programmes.

Back on commercial stations, banking advertisements have become so solemn, customer-friendly and twee. As the banking institutions take their long-suffering customers even further for a ride on their single journey of increasing dishonesty and bad value for money, their advertisements are becoming sickeningly sugary, as if butter wouldn't melt in their canteen microwaves.

Wherever you want to get to in life, Lloyds TSB have a range of bank accounts and personal financial services to suit you, (none of which we’ll let you have). Helpful Banking from NatWest (unless you want to withdraw your money form a cash machine). Help your business grow with HSBC business banking (although we won’t be lending you any). Whether you want a current account, a loan, or to save at Barclays we can offer what could be good for you (but more importantly, what’s good for us).
Sadly, Martin Salter, MP for Reading West, left parliament in April 2010. He was a champion of banking for the normal people and gave them (the banks and not the people) a continual merry bashing.

As summed up by the banking profession's mission statement "We must be sincere to all of our customers, all of the time, even if we don't mean it" (I have just made that one).

Talking around fat profits for city banking suits, the supermarkets continue their march against the small local shopkeeper. Not happy with closing corner shops down and changing Britain from a nation of shopkeepers to a nation of out of town hypermarket-visiting sheep,  their 'Local' shops are spreading like a disease into the suburbs and small towns throughout the land from 6am to midnight each day.

And they have the support of suppliers such as the National Lottery, Menzies newspaper distribution and tobacco licensing who are happy to supply them despite the fact they might be ruining their small neighbour which up to then was only local newsagent, Lottery terminal and tobacconist on the road. With a family to support and nowhere near the range of goods stocked by the ’local’supermarket.

Beware though. With the exception of Morrisons, the supermarket ‘local’ shops are more expensive than their large supermarket brothers.

Friday, 6 July 2012

Forget Happy Thanksgiving - it's Happy Beefgiving

For a change, an 'informationary' blog rather than my usual ranting and raving.

Some of you will be aware of my two favourite English-speaking countries, namely Australia and the good ol' US of A.

The former I was introduced to thanks to Vauxhall Motors, the UK division of General Motors, enjoying as I did, two sojourns to the wonderful city of Melbourne. The latter, I regret not being a little younger and perhaps more 'liquid', as I would otherwise be writing this from Tamarac in Florida.

My first experience of Florida was as a 'semi-resident' in as much as we stayed with friends in, coincidentally, Melbourne (downtownish Miami) for two weeks, stepping into a hotel - a Days Inn - for only two nights of the entire holiday at Disney with the kids.

The second trip was to New York for a landmark wife's birthday, where we stayed in resplendent luxury in the Waldorf Astoria for 10 days, a mere $8 ride (then) from the Carnegie Deli! (Food glorious food, hot sausage and latke, chicken soup, kneidle, salt beef, and one evening, Jackie Mason sitting behind us!)

Back to the story. You may or may not, depending on your propensity for trivia, be aware that 14th July is Beefgiving Day in Australia. It's a time for Ozzies to get together and celebrate the day with a wonderful beef meal. Were I there, my love of a great steak would just about outrun an opportunity to annoy vegetarians!

Anyway, I received a message from the lovely Deborah Bryan of Kindlingmedia in Los Angeles, telling me about this unusual day. And she sent me a video link.

And here it is.

She mentioned that "The video is rather amusing as it pokes fun at two Australian politicians who rarely get along." 

Having had a quick gen up on the two politicians, I agree! It is amusing (and very well put together, as the aging father said about Kylie).



Wednesday, 4 July 2012

Bankers keep being called to ordure!

It seems to be coming a regular feature of the British way of life.

The banking chiefs (not the ordinary, customer-facing members of staff, you will note), not content with their huge and immoral remunerations and unwarranted honours from HM The Queen, continue to line their pockets unhindered and unconcerned.

The banking chiefs get found out.

The FSA (Financial Services Authority and not the Food Standards Agency, although I suspect given the use the former has been, the latter might in all probability be more effective in these matters) does nothing, having forgotten, once again, to put its teeth in that morning. Yes, read all about their tranche of successes in Private Eye magazine every fortnight!

The banking chiefs get away with it.

Already on hefty 7-figure salaries, through the kindness of their own hearts, and as a wonderful, thoughtful, empty and meaningless gesture, forgo their annual bonus because of the absolute hash they make of things. Big deal, as the rest of us suffer.

The Government of the day then bails the thieving liars out again.

And everything is Hunky Dory, which is the name of an excellent 1971 album (the forth) from David Bowie. And probably has more financial sense between its grooves that the entire ennobled, extremely forthright, honest and lovable banking chief executive fraternity combined.

So how do they do it? 

Just a slap on the wrist and told not to do it again? Retire in their early fifties on £6,000 tax free a week and only suffer the mild embarrassment of being un-sir-ificated (© George W Bush) while thousands lose their jobs as a result?

You or I keep schtum about the £48 deposit that was credited in error as £84 the previous week, and we get 6 years in jail with hard labour thrown in!

What does get extremely tiresome, is the fact we are continually reminded that these thieving buffoons command the salaries they do because “they will go elsewhere otherwise”. I say, let them go, and good riddance to bad rubbish. The new BBC Director General’s annual salary has been reduced from £671,000 to a mere £450,000, so why shouldn’t the useless banking fraternity be rewarded for their dishonesty and failures with a more normal salary. Or, more suitably, the immediate sack. Which would be more equitable and suitably rewarding as far as the long-suffering public is concerned.

Yes, they may do the work of two men (now officially confirmed as being Laurel and Hardy), or at a stretch three (Larry, Mo and Curly) but if that work is useless and dishonest, well, it ‘aint much good then, innit guv’?

The banks are in the situation where they need someone at the helm who doesn’t need the money, seeing as those currently running things can’t be trusted to do it themselves, relying on it, as they seem to, as their crony shareholders’ personal cash cow.

If it was their money they were losing, then, like gamblers, I’d have no concerns with who was running them, but as it’s our money they play with, it needs sorting, and quickly. 

And if that means ridding the banking industry of these overpaid ‘sirs’ and other self-acclaimed non hoi polloi and putting in someone who actually knows what they are doing, then tough.