Thoughts from an active pensioner who is now somewhat past his Biblical "Use-by date"

"Why just be difficult, when with a little more effort you can be bloody impossible?"

Thursday, 31 December 2009

My New Year Thoughts

I've been reading the predictions for the New Year in various blogs and have no intention in trying to compete with those who are far better informed that myself. Here are my thoughts for the coming year, in no particular order.

1. Yet another weird pop group will hit the headlines and become "celebrities" within days. They will probably receive awards in next year's New Year Honours list.
2. I will continue to prefer Vera Lynn, Val Doonican and the music of Acker Bilk & Kenny Ball.  I will buy at least one CD of a top military band. (I don't buy many, I'm busy putting my LPs on CD at the moment). Classic FM will remain my favourite radio station.
3. As the new Lord Mayor of London has not been given the traditional award on appointment (presumably he's a banker or at least involved with money), the City Fathers will originate some new award which will in the long term be more highly prized than any awarded by the government in the name of the Queen. The Duke of Edinburgh will offer to carry out the ceremony.
4. Crime will fall. In order that the Crown Prosecution Service can increase their conviction rate to meet their targets, all murders will be downgraded to manslaughter, and all manslaughter will be considered to be an accident. This will also reduce the prison population, avoiding the need for new prisons.
Other crimes, except motoring, will be treated in a similar manner.
5. Victims of knife crime will have to pay for their NHS costs on the basis it was their own fault for being where they were and getting in the way of someone practising knife throwing.
6. More people will be claiming mental illness as a reason for their having committed a crime. This will increase quite rapidly as the medical profession, or the drug companies, discover more mental illnesses requiring expensive drug treatment.
7. Inflation for pensioners will continue to rise at over twice the rate as compared with normal working families, but their pension (where index linked) will only rise at the government calculated RPI. More pensioners will spend their savings as the interest doesn't even match inflation.
8. A footballer somewhere will be paid the highest salary in the world, far more than the highest paid bankers. No one will notice as it will be expressed in terms of weekly pay, and the number of people who can multiply a number by 50 without a calculator is getting less each year. NuLab will insist that he is providing value for money.
9. No-one under 50 will be allowed to buy alcohol in Tesco unless they are accompanied by both parents. Over 50's will only need the presence of one parent.
10. The number of CCTV cameras in the country will double, and a new offence will be created of failing to look towards the camera.

Afterthought: I expect Nigel Farrage to win Buckingham for UKIP!

Wednesday, 30 December 2009

Let's Ring in the New Year

The Christmas and New Year Period is a busy time for our church bellringers, as in addition to ringing for Parish Communion on Christmas Day, we also rung for a number of extra services on the days leading up to Christmas as well as the usual ringing on the Sunday, two days later.
On New Year's eve we will be ringing-in the New Year in the traditional manner. In our case, this will involve meeting at one of the ringer's homes at about eight o'clock in the evening for snacks and appropriate liquid refreshment. At about 11.30 we will gather in the bell tower and ring-out the old year with the bells half-muffled until a few minutes before midnight. The muffles will be hastily removed, and at exactly at midnight, 12 strokes will be rung on the Tenor bell, following which the rest of the bells will join in and ring for maybe 15 minutes. This is a tradition which has taken place for many years and we all hope it will long continue.
On the subject of ringing, I find it disappointing that I haven't heard any on the television or radio over the Christmas period this year. Classic FM, which has probably provided more Christmas music than any other UK station sadly forgot all about the bells. Some readers might argue that this is not music, but as far a I'm concerned, the changing rhythms of well rung bells are far superior to much of the modern, so-called, music, both classical and pop.
I tried to find some recordings on the web of bell ringing, but unfortunately there seem to be very few good recordings around. Personally, I prefer eight bell ringing to that on higher numbers, but I've found these two of the St Paul's Cathedral ringers ringing twelve bells, one of them at Trinity Church, New York, and the other in the National Twelve Bell striking competition, which was held this year at St Paul's.
I am assured, by those who know far more about it than I do, that this is some of the best ringing that that you can find.

St Paul's Ringers at Trinity Church, Wall Street, N.Y.

Or try this link, sound only

Happy New Year Everybody
I pray that 2010 will be a far better year than 2009, both for everyone personally and for England a a whole.

Tuesday, 29 December 2009

Where did all the Civil Liberties Campaigners Go?

According to yesterday’s Daily Telegraph, there are an estimated 20,000 council workers around this country who have the right to enter your home without any warrant . There are apparently 1,043 different laws permitting state inspectors to enter people’s homes or premises.
How was this allowed to happen? Were all our freedom loving MPs asleep on the job? Perhaps they were just too busy buying and selling property or moving between their various homes? Perhaps the ducks in the moat were giving problems? Who knows, but they certainly weren't doing their job. They seem to be quick off the mark if there is any infringement of a favoured minority’s rights, but totally oblivious of an infringement of the majority’s rights.
Where were Liberty? Where was Shami Chakrabarti? Where was the House of Lords?
Seemingly they too were all asleep on the job.

Except in dire emergency, the police are not allowed to force an entry into any premises without court approval. Why should it be different for mere council jobsworths?

Television crime shows always amuse me. You see a plain clothes police officer going up to a door, waving a warrant card, demanding entry and invariably being let in. I’ve never ever seen a police warrant card and as far as I am concerned it could equally well be a bus pass. If someone in plain clothes came to my door with one and demanded entry on the strength of such a card I’d refuse unless there was a uniformed police officer present who at least could be identified by his number. Yes, I know uniforms can be faked, but uniformed officers are unlikely to appear without their matching car which I would probably recognise!

What authority do all these council jobsworths carry? How do I know that they are who they claim. Surely, as a minimum they should all have common identity documents issued by the appropriate Secretary of State? However, I’m sure about one thing, if some one came to my door and said that he was from the council and demanded entry, he would get a flat refusal. If he tried force, I’d simply dial 999.

Monday, 28 December 2009

Recommended Daily Allowances

I visited my GP a couple of weeks before Christmas, mainly in order to get a chitty for a routine blood test, which took all of half a minute. So we discussed a number of issues but mainly why I didn’t want the swine flu jab? I put forward my view of risk versus reward (risk of side effects v the reward of not dying from the flu) and he made no attempt to persuade me otherwise. As usual he took my blood pressure and declared it to be the same as previously, but he now thought that it would be best to take a diuretic to get it down a bit and perhaps I should try to reduce my salt intake. Why? Well apparently, they’ve reduced the recommended maximum desirable BP for some one of my age (which will no doubt in turn put up the cost of my holiday insurance).
This morning at breakfast, I was idly reading the back of the cereal box, the pot of marmalade and my wife’s container of artificial butter substitute. All had recommended daily allowances of this, that and the other printed on them. Unfortunately, the weights were all in Napoleonic measurements and my brain only works in Christian measurements at that time of the morning so they were totally meaningless. I then looked at the wrapper of the remains of a bar of Cadbury’s Dairy Milk from which it would appear that last night I had eaten virtually the whole of my day’s fat allowance in one go!
This got me round to thinking “Who decides these allowances”. Who, and on what basis do “They” decide that my blood pressure or BMI is too high ? Who decides that I should only eat so much fat or salt each day. Has the evidence been published for these conclusions? Can anybody tell me the likely additional risk if I don’t reduce my salt intake?
We all know that a few months ago a member of the committee which decided the recommended weekly alcohol intake "let the cat out of the bag" by revealing that there was no particular evidence for the chosen limits that they had recommended, just that “they seemed about right”. Are all these other figures determined in the same way?
In the US, bottles of wine bear a statement that “The Surgeon General recommends that .....”. Surely we should know the origin of all these health recommendations – do they come from the soon-to-resign Chief Medical Officer, because if so, I would feel justified in taking them with an even larger pinch of salt substitute!
Time now to go and have my RDA of Scotch, as recommended by an English Pensioner, and endorsed by Mrs E.P. who will expect something similar at the same time!

Energy Saving

I’ve just returned from calling on a friend down the road who has a teenage daughter. She came downstairs to join us, and her father remarked “I trust that you’ve turned all those lights off upstairs”
But Dad, they’re all energy saving lamps, so the more we use the more energy we save
Harassed father’s comment was to the effect that she sounded just like her mother who any time now would be coming in and explaining how much money that she’d saved in buying all these clothes in the sales.

Thursday, 24 December 2009

Break for Christmas

I've made some progress thanks to assistance from the Blogger Help Forum.
I've adjusted both my banner and the page width and I'm happy with the result, and I now just have to change the column widths, which for some reason isn't quite as simple as it first appears.

Christmas will be spent with our younger daughter and her husband together with our only grandchild, now 11 months old. Fortunately it's only a five or six mile drive.

So here is a picture of Junior, a couple of weeks ago, trying to investigate the kitchen towel rail having been prevented from opening the cupboard doors!

Happy Christmas!

Wednesday, 23 December 2009


So far I've not made too much progress with my blog. I'm determined to make it look professional (to my eyes, at least) before I start!
I've managed to get my banner in place at the top, but it's not quite central.
The template code is XML, not HTML, and I need to swot up on the subject a bit!

Saturday, 19 December 2009

My New Blog

As I've got older and somewhat less mobile, I have been spending more time reading blogs and as a result I felt that it about time that I started one of my own. It may be some days before I get going as I want to customise my page to suit my liking and I still have to decide exactly what I intend to blog about!
This paragraph is in the nature of a test run to see how I'm doing.