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 29 April 2010


Gordon Brown, whatever else one might think of him, is, in theory at least, a very well educated person. He went to Kirkcaldy High School and graduated from Edinburgh University with First Class Honours MA.

But it seems that his command and understanding of the English Language does not even reach our miserable A-Level standard. If it did, he would know the meaning of the word "bigot", which is not someone who asks questions about your views, or even disagrees with your views, but someone who is so convinced that they are right that they are simply not even prepared to consider the possibility that there is an alternative viewpoint.

And what had Mrs Duffy said that was bigoted? Nothing that I can see. She simply asked about how the country was going to repay its debt, and expressed her concern about immigration. She wasn't even expressing a viewpoint, merely asking simple questions to which many of us would like to hear the answers.

In fact, by my definition, the only bigoted person in the conversation was Brown himself.

Clearly, it shows that the Prime Minister must rarely know what he is talking about as it seems unlikely that he knows the meaning of any words with more than a couple of syllables in spite of his expensive education.

Friday 23 April 2010


I thought that I should commemorate today by flying the flag in my blog as well as in my banner at the top.
Those of you who have looked at the banner will see that St George and the Dragon appeared for many years on our high value coins and stamps, but these days, St George, along with Britannia, seems to have disappeared whilst his flag is being discouraged  on the grounds that it is racist.
I am not racist, nor am I ashamed to fly his flag, which is the flag of my country.

We visited Bulgaria last year, and I was surprised at the number of paintings of St George we came across in churches and similar buildings. I rather liked the one above which I managed to photograph.

However if you prefer a more modern version, you might prefer this modern English stained glass window, which shows the Spitfire, but no dragon!

Thursday 22 April 2010

That Nice Nick Clegg!

Today we have the Lib-Dems claiming that the other parties are running scared of them and as a result the media is trying to smear them. This, of course, is rich for a party which, certainly at local level, does its very best to smear the other candidates.

But this is not the reason; up to now I, and no doubt many others have considered the Lib-Dems to be a total irrelevance. But with their recent poll showings, the media, and indeed any thinking voter, wants to know more about the party which could possibly hold the balance of power. It is surely for this reason that they are being subject to this extra scrutiny.

And what one finds is not particularly nice. The Daily Telegraph today highlights the fact that Nick Clegg has been receiving substantial sums of money from business donors into his private bank account. Inside, Andrew Gilligan discusses some of the dirty tricks that the party has got up to at local level, along with Nick Clegg's previous life as an MEP and subsequently as a lobbyist for the company GPlus which was acting on behalf of RBS to get EU financial legislation watered down. The latter activity hardly sits well with his present claim that financial legislation needs tightening and that his is the party to do it.

Monday 19 April 2010

Knocking the opposition

When I worked for my living, part of my job was to talk to the potential contractors about the equipment that they were offering and to try and evaluate which would be the best for our needs providing both reliability and value for money.
In talking to the various companies, I found that one in particular, with whom we had regular dealings, tended to prefer to "knock" the their main competitor's products and always tried to avoid telling you too much about their own. As an engineer I wanted hard facts to make a decision and I usually managed to get them; I ignored what was said about the competitors and formed my own judgement both from personal experience and discussing the matter with other customers where possible.

It seems to me that the coming General Election is much the same. Two of the main competitors prefer to "knock" their opponents rather than provide hard facts about their own offerings, whilst the third can tell us what we want, but seems to have misunderstood the overall problem as to how to provide it.

When working, I could force potential contractors to give me the hard details; In politics, unfortunately I cannot!

Even now, I heartedly dislike anyone who wastes time "rubbishing" his competitors, which is why I will be supporting UKIP, who at least meet the main requirement in my personal "specification"

Saturday 17 April 2010

Eyjafjallajoekull - Does it have a "Carbon Footprint"

The eruption of Eyjafjallajoekull has caused me to wonder about the size of it's "Carbon Footprint". Judging by the cloud of ash, it seems rather large, big enough to cover most of Europe.
When, back in 1982, British Airways flight 9 flew into the plume of a volcano from Mount Galunggung to the south-east of Jakarta, it was the lack of Oxygen which caused the engines to fail, and the crew were only able to restart them once they had glided down to a height below the volcano's plume. Thus the entire plume of the volcano was clearly Carbon Dioxide in which were suspended the fine ash particles which did the damage to the aircraft engines.
With the Icelandic volcano, there has only been mention of the ash, there has been absolutely no mention of the Carbon Dioxide.
Hence my question, how big is the volcano's carbon footprint. Is it more or less than that of all the aircraft which have been grounded? How does it compare with that of my 4x4. How much more will Britain have to reduce its carbon emissions to compensate for the volcano?
Funny, nowhere have I seen any answers to these types of questions! Is political correctness at work somewhere in order to avoid the climate sceptics asking awkward questions?

Thursday 15 April 2010

Useless Financial Advisors

My wife and I have decided to make a gift of some money, each month, to our grandson, now 1 year old, rather than buy expensive presents  for birthdays and at Christmas.
We know what we can afford, it is within the allowance which we are permitted to give each year without incurring estate duty, we know we want to put it into a suitable equity fund as it will be there for eighteen years and one of us (or his aunt) would be trustee for the account until he is of age.
You would think this would be quite simple, that everybody would want our money for a nice long period, and that there must be many other grandparents in the same situation, but there you would be quite wrong!

First stop the Halifax where I bank. We opened a child savings account here when he was born and put in the maximum allowed for a year on which we got 6% interest. However at the end of the year it was transferred to an account which now pays B. all! So I asked the simple question, "how do I transfer this, as his trustee, to an account paying more?" Ah you'll need to see our financial advisor.
Which was where the trouble started.
Firstly he wanted to know all about our financial status, my pension details, other income, etc. "Why/" Well I need this to be able to give financial advise and ensure that you can afford it and that it is the right investment for you. "But it's not for me but my grandson, and if we can't afford it we will stop paying in". He then wanted to discuss inheritance tax, the main objective of which seemed to be to persuade me to put some largish sum into a trust for my children so that if we survived 7 years they would have tax-free money to pay the estate duty; alternatively to persuade me to take out life insurance to cover the cost (ie pay the bank instead of the Revenur!). We gave up

Next the Nationwide where we have some savings. Here they were only able to offer the Government inspired Child Trust Fund which we wished to avoid, as his parents are themselves putting money into this and I wished ours to be separate.

I've looked on-line for suitable investments, but everybody wants to arrange a visit for their financial advisor. They can't accept the possibility that I know what I want to do and simply want to know if they have a suitable account (or vehicle which seems to be the in-word).

We have local branches of HSBC and Barclays, so I'll visit them when I get a chance, but  my experience to date seems to indicate that it will be a total waste of time.

Seems we might as well put the money under the mattress!

Monday 12 April 2010

Cash Withdrawals

The Daily Telegraph reports today that the Nationwide Building Society has joined the ranks of those banks and Building Societies which will no longer allow small cash withdrawals over the counter. HERE
This is allegedly on the grounds of improving customer service - who was it who once said "improvement means deterioration"?
What these organisations don't understand is that there are a large number of people, particularly pensioners like myself, who don't like cash machines. Firstly because they feel vulnerable, (although this is improving with inside machines at a few banks) and secondly because the machines tend to give out big notes.
These days, it is rare for anyone who has a credit card to spend much more than a tenner in cash; it goes on the card. Most of my cash expenditure is under a fiver; a magazine, a bar of chocolate, maybe a coffee, but the machines insist on providing £20 notes, when what we want are fivers or tenners.
I wonder what the next "service improvement" is going to hit us!

Sunday 11 April 2010

Westminster 2010: ‘Declaration of Christian Conscience’

My attention has been drawn to the Westminster Declaration, in which thirty senior Christian leaders, including the former Archbishop of Canterbury Lord Carey, launched a Christian Manifesto the ‘Westminster 2010: Declaration of Christian Conscience’ on Easter Sunday.
Unfortunately, it didn't seem to get any publicity, either on the BBC (not surprisingly) nor in the main broadsheets. To me, the title, including the word "Westminster" is a mistake; somehow it seems to have connections with our parliament which most people would like to ignore and which is the last place with a conscience, Christian or otherwise.
However, it has very worthy aims, and is supported by all our senior Christian leaders, and I believe that we should give it our full support.
Most people in this country who prefer to call themselves "English" rather than "British" are Christians, even if they are not regular churchgoers. All these individuals should support this declaration. Even if you are not a Christian, you should read the aims and ask whether the are compatible with your own morals and beliefs, and if so, sign the declaration.

Thursday 1 April 2010

A Priority List

I've just listened to the news about aid to Haiti. The Secretary General of the UN was announcing. how much had been promised by the International Community, ie the EU and United States.The priorities in reconstruction were stated to be "Schools, Hospitals and Government buildings"!
Now I appreciate the need for hospitals, but surely the first priority should be the restoration of the infrastructure, electricity supplies, clean water, transport, etc. Teaching is not dependent upon schools as such, but the availability of teachers and a place to teach - large marquees would come far quicker and save money for higher priorities. And as for Government Offices, well that will ensure that no money is left for anything useful!