Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Labour achievements

You may not believe this but I have been really busy for the last week, both in London and in Romania. Hence the lack of posts, and too much to tell, much of it of no interest to readers.
I did catch this mornings news on bbc.co.uk as I like to know what has been happening whilst I am away, so that I do not appear entirely ignorant when I return.
Even the Beeb is talking of a fin-de-siecle feeling in the Labour conference, and I spotted the following information in one of the papers:
Spending on the NHS has doubled since Labour came to power. Yet the number of beds run per administrator has dropped from 12 to just 5. And nurses? They now look after 10 beds as opposed to 6. Real progress there then.
Similarly, the education budget has doubled. We have slipped to 16th in the OECD table of reading 'riting and 'rithmetic - from 4th.
Oh, and we have the highest percentage of year 1 drop outs at University of any country in the world.
What achievements!

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

The Choir

I was walking along the road today and my ears were assailed by hymn singing.
On investigating, it was coming from the Crosshill Evangelical Church, which is a building beside the Bank.
The singing was excellent, and as I had a bit of spare time, I wandered in to see what they were up to.
There were about 20 people there with a conductor and organist ( I suppose strictly it was a harmonium), and they were clearly enjoying themselves, and, as Old King Lear would have said, giving it laldy.
It turns out there is a competition for the choirs of Evangelical Churches, and they were practising.
And filling the streets of No Mean City with praise and cheerfulness.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

At the wedding ( Part 94)

Away in Yorkshire yesterday for the wedding of a relative, which took place in a church in Hull called Saint Charles Borromeo. I thought I was pretty good on Catholic Saints, but had never heard of him, so I have subsequently undertaken a little research.
However, at the wedding, I enquired of many of the people I spoke to who he was, and was met with complete ignorance. I eventually approached the Abbot who had taken the wedding service, and was told a little about him.
I said that he didn't seem to have accomplished a miracle, something which in his time would have been required.
" Ah, well, " said the Abbot," I would say he was a miracle of administration."
As ever more rubbish comes through the letter box, I can empathise with that.
What I wanted to tell you about was a tale told which pleased me no end.
A young(ish) officer was recently appointed adjutant to a rather fine regiment, and the first morning, his phone rang.
At the other end of the line was a very officious sounding lady who said that such and such a form hadn't been received, and really it was too bad, etc etc.
The Adj apologised and said that he had only arrived that morning, wasn't quite up to speed, but he would definitely sort it out asap.
The lady continued to harangue him, casting various nasturtiums about his abilities and remarking she was always getting that kind of B******t from jumped up penpushers, until eventually the Adj butted in.
" Look, I've just got here, I've just become a father, he's only 8 weeks old and I'm finding it really difficult!"
The voice softened somewhat, and started to sympathise.
" So what's his name? How heavy was he?"
" Oh he was very light, only about 2 lbs."
" Ah I can see you would be worried ( the voice was almost loving by now) - and what is his name?"
" Magic"
" Yes, I'm sure he is," said the lady even more solicitously, if that were possible. " But what's his name?"
" His name is Magic. " There was a silence.
" Are you going to baptise him with that name?"
" Well, I don't think the Church baptises Black Labradors....."
The outcome is they are now married and jointly looking after Black Magic..

Plus ca change...

" I am extremely anti-Labour. They are so far apart from fairies and owls and bluebells and Americans, and all the things that I like.
If they agree with me I know they are pretending - in fact I believe everything is pretence to them."
This was written in 1924, and could equally be true today, and, I would venture, equally true of the majority of this country's views at the moment.
Of course, the person writing these words was rather special.
It was Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother, quoted in Shawcross's new book.

Friday, September 18, 2009

I can hardly bring myself to say his name, but Gordon Brown has displayed once again his complete cynical disregard for anything but small-minded party attitudes.
This blog on the Speccie Coffee House underlines precisely why NuLiebore has been an utter failure.
Rather than taking a line he actually believes in ( which at least would have the merit of being proncipled) he vacillates in the wind to try to score points, and provide himself and his appalling crew of never-having-made-a-penny misfits ( unless you count taking it from us) with "cover" for his next pronouncement.
The one piece of good news is my computer - busy dying - can be replaced and have everything transferred for GBP 80.
The new one only has 60 times the capacity - 4 years on
Mrs. Lear enquired yesterday why the boffins hadn't just made the chips more powerful to start with, rather than making then better, faster, bigger all the time, and cheaper.
I decided it was too complicated to explain.

Gold-plated pensions

I can hardly credit it, but I have checked and the following is absolutely true.
In year 2002/3, the cost of public employee pensions in Scotland was £211 million.
For next tear ( 2010/11) John Swinney's budget has a figure of £2,500 million.
In other words, within an 8 year period, the cost of pensions to the Scottish Government has risen more than 11 fold.
I can only assume that the UK Government figures are not entirely unadjacent to these - Scotland after all is about 10% of the UK, in terms of population, even though we have more public service employees than the UK average.
I can't help but think there will come a point where the people who are working ( whose taxes actually pay these staggering sums) won't be able to pay their taxes, and more importantly won't be prepared to pay them either.
Of course, when Bottler Brown ( remember that?) repeatedly says he borrows to invest, what he actually means is he borrows to bribe people to vote for him. Unfortunately for him, this option has now ended.
The one interesting thing is, there are definitely now some projects which I would invest in. There's no takers for the space, the banks won't give any money to undertake them - but all that means that maybe - just maybe - there's a bargain out there for those with some cash and a lot of balls.
You need to want to do it, and you need to be young enough to be bothered.
That lets me out then.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Unnecessary but difficult.

I do rather like Brown's assertion that he will cut unnecessary programmes. I would have assumed if something was unnecessary it would never get started. Of course,being this government, it needs to pretend the unemployment figures are real, so uses its patronage to fund unnecessary programmes for people with non-jobs.
More importantly, I've just filled in a questionnaire which purports to assess whether I am suitable for a particular survey - a survey about a survey.
One of the questions was along the lines of " Do you worry about...?" and a long list of things that it had never occurred to me to even think about let alone worry over.
I liked the question: " Using difficult words?"
Do I worry about using difficult words? I don't think so. But on the other hand, what's a difficult word? Would that be three or more syllables? On that basis I've used several in the last few sentences. Or four? I've used a couple. Or maybe, in this day and age, the really difficult words are not classified by length, but rather by meaning.
I can think of restraint, responsibility, leadership, cuts.
Now there's a few really difficult words to deal with.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

My way of life is fallen into the sere...*

As I edge slowly closer to the day when all the tax I've paid over the years starts to get paid back to me ( that's the OAP pension by the way - and is itself taxed) I am beginning to realise that I have lived my entire life without realising quite how pernicious and intrusive this Government is.
It all kicked off when I claimed my winter fuel allowance.
Then my bus pass.
That triggered visits from council officials, entailed visits to doctors, tests on my perfectly healthy body ( its like the police - trap unsuspecting illegal parkers and let the thieves and drug dealers go free) - and forms.
I have now lost count of how many forms I have had to fill in, just to make sure the Government doesn't strike me off it's list of future dependants.
The idea is quite simple. They send a form, and at the bottom it says ( in small letters, natch) words to the effect of " If you don't send this back timeously ( is that 14 days? 7 days? A month?) you will lose your entitlement to xyz until you fill in another form asking for us to be very kind and send you a new form like this one again - oh, and its not back-dated."
I've just had to fill in a form to confirm my tax code.
Now bear in mind it's not me who sets the code - the Government sends out a form every now and then which has the code on it. I effectively have little or no input, and the code is the one applied to my tax affairs until they change it.
Even so, the form stipulates that I need to tell them what my tax code is and failure to do so blah blah blah.
It also has my tax reference and NI number on it, and my date of birth, all of which I have to write in as well.
I have no idea - apart from the Government employing bodies to send the forms out, and presumably check them before filing them away.
But I'm absolutely sure I'm not going to lose one penny of what I'm entitled to.
I have to go now as the post has arrived - with yet another form to confirm I'm still alive and they do have to pay the winter fuel allowance...
*... into the yellow leaf ( Macbeth)
At least it gives me something to do whilst waiting for the "upturn" we are assured is... er well er....well, the upturn.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

The Norman Conquest of the Scots

We were down in Ayrshire today. a place that is a bit like the Bermuda Triangle. If you go to live there you never see anyone from anywhere in Scotland ever again - unless they come to Ayrshire.
We had lunch at the Failford Inn which makes it's own beer, and exceptionally fine meat burgers ( NB that's a proper unformed beef burger) They do other things too, and being a nice day we were able to sit out. They have a huge midge eating machine, which is not longer necessary at this time of year, though something for the wasps would have been good. Everyone was bothered with them except myself. In fact insects generally don't bother me, and I put this down to having been stung so often as a child that they think I'm one of them now.
The talk was general, but my friend, the Retired Civil Engineer, was of the opinion that the Normans only came as far as Ayrshire as they came north, presumably along the coast ( that's the way most journeys used to be undertaken), found Ayrshire pretty OK and stayed there. They didn't bother going much further - cold and miserable, don't you know. Symington for example would appear to be from the Norman for Simon, and Robert The Bruce was a Norman.
The story is told that Robert's mother - Marjorie of Carrick - was in her castle someplace in Ayrshire, of Norman construction, standing on the battlements, and a group of knights and their retinues passed by.
One of the knights was especially good looking, strong, big and rode a magnificent charger.
Calling her own men at arms, she instructed them to capture this paragon, and bring him to her.
There was quite a barney, and after it, the other knights were driven off, and the Beauty was hustled into the castle.
Robert II - for it was he - was visited every day by Marjorie, who merely asked him one question - " Will you marry me?"
He refused each day for a fortnight, and on the fifteenth day agreed to marry her.
Robert III ( Robert the Bruce) was not a particularly good man, and known for pragmatic political maneuvering - but then at the time so was everyone else. But they were Normans, not Scottish as we think of them.
The thought does occur to me though - was Marjorie very ugly, or was Robert II just playing hard to get?

Friday, September 11, 2009

Graffiti as art/poetry/whatever

There is a "thing" going on which seems to be suggesting that Grafitti is art.
Some of it certainly is, but some of it is intrusive rubbish.
So I was pleased to notice on the pavement as I walked along this morning two pieces of ... whatever.
Both were quite small, all yellow,and in each case the signature was a picture of a howling wolf.
The first said:
" The lone wolf returns
to the wilderness
to allow his broken heart
to mend"
The second one said:
"Hey Miss!
Come to the pub.
I'll buy you a drink"
Seems to me his heart mended quite quickly.

Thursday, September 10, 2009


In case you haven't heard the delicious Winchester Whisperer is off getting married and won't be around until 1st October. I'm not sure if she is combining a honeymoon with a business trip, or just being lazy, but I wish her enormous happiness and a long life.
However, it is noted from her blog that a ( soon to be) relative killed off her pet spider ( Solomon) which is not only bad luck but also allows flies and other beasties to flourish. Perhaps Minniebeastie ( better known as minniebeaniste) has been able to flourish because of a dead spider.
Actually, a minniebeastie is a baby Haggis when it is rushing around the highlands growing up....
Anyway, we have a spider that lives in our guest bathroom, which we have to clear away when guests come. He/she always comes back, and in fact is getting bolder. Known as Spidey ( v. original), it has just made its way to the radiator under my desk and is warming itself.
I regard this as a good omen.
Hopefully, it won't turn into Shelob.

Wednesday, September 09, 2009

Wa's like us *

Today is the make or break day in in Scotlands Football World Cup campaign. They are playing Holland at home at Hampden, and as usual the newspapers and pundits are all saying WE WILL WIN!
However, on past ( and probably future) performance, I think it extremely unlikely that they will. Scotland's Footballing Heroes invariably have feet of clay, and they are playing a Dutch side which is one of the best for some time. Allied to that is that Holland have won every game and are on 21 points, with Scotland in second place on just 10.
What is rather nice are all the Tartan Army Lads and Lasses wandering around in their blue Scottish Football Tartan ( as distinct from anything vaguely resembling a real tartan), and the Dutch in their orange outfits. In this city of sectarian football divide, at least 50% of the population are probably having a collective fit.
But even if they lose ( which I think is almost a foregone conclusion), provided Norway and Macedonia draw, Scotland will go through. If that were the case, I can guarantee that some papers tomorrow will be saying that the World Cup is within our grasp. Scottish people are nothing if not carried away by passion and emotion.
You may have noticed my mentioning the odd single shoe which crops up all over the place.
Well, I thinnk passion and emotion clearly overtook two people in a bus shelter the other day.
There was not one, but 4 shoes. Two pairs. One womens's, one man's. Women's very definitely killer heels.
I hope they enjoyed themselves.
It does make one wonder what happened to prevent them putting them back on.
Or even why they took them off in the first place....
* Who is like us? or What are we like?
PS: Scotland lost 1-0. Ah well, that's it over for another 4 years..
PPS:... except of course we will win the European Championship in 2 years time..

Tuesday, September 08, 2009

Just Giving

I just found out about Just giving.
I've set up an account for the Gurkha Welfare Trust.
Go online at www.justgiving.com and look for the Gurkha Welfare Trust.

September 2008

As I sit here in the pouring rain ( well, it's ouside actually) I had a thought about this time last year.
I looked back at my blog posts then, and it is clear in retrospect we were very very close to financial Armageddon. The Lehman collapse was clearly the catalyst, but from re-reading what I wrote then, nearly every financial institution worldwide was on the brink and only escaped because after Lehman, the Central Banks and Governments simply handed out as much money as was necessary to keep things going.
So where are we now?
Well, another two of our tenants just upped and walked away today. We've been nursing them for some months, but even that hasn't helped. The length of time this is going on is what is killing - not the severity, the continuing daily struggle to stay afloat. You can only tread water for just so long. This time last year we were 100% let. As of now we are down to just over under 29% empty.
I always judge how things are by how many people are asking for a bit of space.
I've had just one in the last 3 months.
Even this lying government says it won't start improving until after Christmas.
And this time last year I predicted it would be Spring 2010 before we had finally, finally reached bottom and started to improve...

Monday, September 07, 2009

Poetry? Inspiration? Or what?

Scrawled on a wall:
"The clock chimes the end of night
I raise my eyes
And see
The mountain top I aspire to."

Bribe the electorate!

I know you all hate it when I talk about politics, but something happened today which made me stop and think for a few minutes.
I went to buy a train ticket ( within Scotland) and proffered my senior citizen railcard. The booking clerk ( God, that ages me doesn't it?) flung a pamphlet at me.
" £13 return"
" Er what's the pamphlet for?"
" Well you're over 55, so you can travel anywhere in Scotland, return, for £15 - and as you have a railcard you get an extra £2 off, so, £13."
" And what does joining the over 55 club cost?" I asked suspiciously.
" Nothing - it's free. You just have to mention it when you buy your ticket. And you don't need to book in advance, there's no conditions and you can even book just before getting on the train."
I read the pamphlet and sure enough, it was all as he said. So a ticket I had expected to pay £32.80 for was £13.
Middle Ms. Lear was horrified to hear that her taxes were going to fund my travel bug, and that's what made me think.
Despite the general disgust and revulsion, the distrust and the loathing this government inspires, it is spending gigantic sums of our money bribing the electorate.
They don't have the money of course, but at some point it will have to be paid.
It reminds me of the Bird and Fortune skit before the 1997 election when they were discussing money that was being " given" to the man in the street. It isn't really given of course, the Government merely lends it - then takes it back in taxes.
Fortune, as the interviewer, says, " Of course, the average man will see through this and know its just an electoral bride."
" Absolutely, " says Bird ( as the ubiquitous George Parr)," Of course he's thinking - this is just a cynical bribe. But he's also thinking, as bribes go, it's a bloody good one."
And in a way, that's just what Labour has been doing for the last year - trying desperately to bribe us with our own money, and no pretence they they are trying to do better for the poor.
Which, of course, they have massively and signally failed to do.
They can't even do it properly like the Afghans....

Sunday, September 06, 2009

Braemar et al.

This week has been another rush, but a couple of things have struck me.
Firstly, in London there was a beggar who was sitting there with his earphones on listening to his ipod. I don't know how well he did, but I certainly wouldn't have given him anything.
Then on the tube, a young boy gave up his seat for a lady. That really impressed me, as I hadn't seen that for a long time.
A small girl in the Girl Guides being interviewed about whether or not to have boys in replied, "No, boys are messy and smelly". I have a feeling most wives girlfriends lovers etc probably agree.
So to Braemar for the Gathering on Saturday, in the company of two Gurkhas in full no.2 uniform and the famous hats. We had a marvellous response, which included the Princess Royal, on catching sight of them from her car, waving and smiling and waving again. The rain held off, even though it was cold and windy, and we probably did quite well.
One of the Gurkhas told me that he was the sixth generation of his family that had served in the Gurkhas. His father was one of 6 and his father was one of six as well, and the men had all served, whilst the girls had all married Gurkhas. He was immensely proud of his family record.
Despite the complete let down we as a nation and this government in particular have been to the Gurkhas, their loyalty never wavers.
"Bravest of the brave, most generous of the generous, never had country more faithful friends than you".

.. and the boys invited us for a curry as well....