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?"

Sunday, 31 October 2010

Should I become a witch?

Making headlines in all the papers today is the fact that the Metropolitan Police have issued a guide which advises, inter alia, on how to arrest witches.
The guide notes that "it has become a custom for some to wear athames in various sizes, sometimes sword size, on a belt, as a visible symbol of their pagan faith and to wear them in the streets".
Now if I carry a knife of any sort, let alone a sword, I can be accused of having an offensive weapon, but if I am a witch, its seems that I can have an athame (defined by Wikipedia as a ceremonial double-edged dagger) and as a result would be in the clear.

Actually, I've always fancied a sword-stick, particularly since I have found that I need a walking stick on occasions. Do you think that I would be able to convince the plod it is my athame?

It reminds me of the time when my children were young, and I had a habit of referring to my late mother-in law as the old witch. My popularity was at an all time low when one of my daughters asked "Grandma, why does daddy have to collect you from the railway station in the car? Why don't you come all the way on your broomstick?"

Saturday, 30 October 2010

"Cameron's not a real man!"

I was sitting there at breakfast, still half asleep, munching my cereal and trying to ignore the wittering of someone on one of the television breakfast programs which Mrs EP seems to like, when she suddenly came out with the above remark.

Coming back to this world, I asked why? He's got a family and I've no doubt they're his.
A certain look of contempt, and Mrs EP replied "I don't mean that sort of 'real'. I mean a real man who will do his very best never to be beaten by a woman. One who would want to show a woman who had previously done the same job that he could do it far better and get better results. But he isn't even trying; all he wants to do is to be liked - real men would prefer to be feared".

Mrs EP didn't need to mention Margaret Thatcher by this stage, I'd woken up and got the message as she continued "That Haus Frau in Germany has run circles around him and there must be some catch if the French are actually agreeing with him. He's got absolutely no idea as to how to drive a bargain".

By now I'd realised that the subject under discussion on the television must have been the EU budget "Possibly only a 3% increase instead of 6%. He should have demanded a 25% reduction, threatened to have a referendum on leaving the EU if he didn't get it, and reluctantly settled for a 10-15% reduction. That's what a real man (or Mrs Thatcher) would have done".

So now you know!

Friday, 29 October 2010

Justice? You must be Joking!

Glancing through today's Daily Mail on line, I noted the following two news items:
Thug who kicked terminally-ill grandfather in the head in unprovoked attack walks free from court (here)
"Vicious Reece Kent, 19, repeatedly punched Ken Oliver in the head before kicking him on the floor because he mistakenly thought he was the father of a girl he knew."
"Cancer sufferer Mr Oliver - who has been given just three months to live - was left in a pool of blood on his doorstep with horrific injuries. He spent a week in intensive care following the attack, with bleeding on his brain."
"Mr Oliver watched in disbelief as his attacker walked free from court last week with a six-month suspended sentence."
Tracey Emin conman jailed for 16 months for selling fake artwork on eBay  (here)
"Controversial artist Tracey Emin was left 'hurt and distressed' after a conman sold forgeries of her work for £26,000."
"Jonathan Rayfern, 32, made at least 11 fake items said to be by Emin, who became famous as one leading lights of the Britart movement."
"Today he was jailed for 16 months at Manchester Crown Court after pleading guilty to ten counts of fraud and one count of deception."
Now, regardless of what you think of Tracy Emlin's art (and I don't think much of it), it would seem that a "distressed" Tracy Emlin and the production of forgeries which sold for £26,000 warrents 16 months jail, whilst punching and kicking an elederly man, leaving him in a pool of blood requiring intensive care in hospital, merely attracts a suspended sentence.
The two courts concerned may believe that justice was done, but I suspect they would have great difficulty in finding many other people in this country who would agree with them.
Incidentally, the statement by counsel for the thug in the first case that he did it  "because he mistakenly thought he [Mr Oliver] was the father of a girl he knew" seems typical of the ludicrous excuses offered in court these days. If he had beat up the right person, would he have been found not guilty and released without a stain on his character? Perhaps the NHS should sue him for the cost of Mr Oliver's treatment, and indeed, one might ask why this wasn't considered by the court as I would suspect it cost us considerably more that the £26,000 that the forgeries sold for.

Thursday, 28 October 2010

Giving Into The E.U.

Yesterday, I felt that David Cameron was worth a few words of praise over his stance on housing benefit. Today, it is the reverse, and it is clear that he has no guts when push turns to shove.

Reports in the Daily Mail
"Cameron can't halt rise in Euro budget: PM admits jump of at least £430m is out of his hands (And he's not even going to try to stop a new EU treaty or give us a referendum on it)"
and in the Daily Telegraph
"David Cameron softens on EU budget"
seem to confirm my beliefs about him.

In his blog today, John Redwood MP asks "What is the UK’s national interest?", to which my response was that it should be the UK, and nothing but the UK. The job of the UK government is to look after our national interests and no-one else's. The French have always done this very effectively; if you were to ask anyone in France "what is the French national interest", they'd think that you were stupid, or worse. Similarly, the Scottish parliament considers it their duty to look after Scotland, not the UK as a whole - I don't like the idea, but I believe that they are acting correctly.

Look how the French dealt with the matter of the Roma gypsies (who no doubt will soon be in a town near you). They started to deport them, The EU huffed and puffed and threatened legal action. The deportations continued. The EU decided to take a further look at the matter (ie do nothing for now). No change from France, so the apparatchiks crawled back into their comfortable holes in Brussels and decided that the UK was an easier target.

If Cameron had any guts, he would say to the EU  "Britain is having to cut all its government spending by 10% and we propose to cut our EU budget by the same amount".  No if or buts, just cut it and await reaction. I suspect the EU would accept it simply because they would know that if they did anything else, the pressure on Cameron to have a referendum on withdrawing from the EU would become irresistible.

For once I'm tempted to say "Why can't the British Government be more like the French?".

Wednesday, 27 October 2010

Housing Benefit

For once, I was pleased with David Cameron's response to criticism.
Today he insisted that the government is going to stick to the introduction of a £400 per week limit on housing benefit, insisting in Parliament that it was not fair for working people to see their taxes used to fund homes “they couldn’t even dream of”.
I think that most people except the left-wingers will agree with this view, and indeed the concept goes back to the days of Parish Relief in the 1700s when the principle was adopted that "No person in this parish when on relief should receive more that the lowest paid working man in the parish".
I think that large numbers of working people, particularly those earning the minimum wage, would agree fully agree with this concept - why should people on benefit get accommodation that a typical working family could not possibly afford?

Unnecessary Waste

Both my wife and I received separate letters today from our local District Council informing us that the responsibility for the issue of our Pensioner's Free Bus Passes National Travel Concession Scheme Passes is being transferred from them to the County Council with effect from next April, and that as our bus passes will expire before this date, would we please sign and return the attached form.
Why on earth is this necessary?
Only a few weeks ago, I filled in the electoral return form showing that we were still at the same address, and this provided exactly the same pre-printed information as this new form, and again, simply required my signature.
Surely, it is not beyond the capabilities of someone at the Council Offices to check the electoral register and ascertain if we are still at the same address, and if so automatically issue the bus pass? What do our signatures on a tatty piece of paper add to the great scheme of things?
Logically, there should only be a necessity to send out letters to those no longer on the Electoral Roll, but then where would they send them?
I know the cost per letter isn't that great, but clearly our local council isn't aware of the old saying "Look after the pennies and the pounds look after themselves"

Incidentally, the only time we use the passes is every couple of months when my wife has to visit the local hospital, saving us the hassle of parking and the exorbitant charges. Otherwise, they don't go anywhere that we want to go.

Monday, 25 October 2010

Don't park Illegally in England

Just a quick post to link worth having a look at.
It shows the mentality of staff employed by our local authorities.
My only question is whether Subrosa is correct in suggesting that it only happens in England