Archive for the ‘Life’ Category.

Bill Oddie the Statist

British families should be “contained” to stop them having too many children, Bill Oddie has said.

The Springwatch presenter claimed the answer to over-population was not curbing immigration, but restricting the size of families.

Bill Oddie has three children. I wonder if he thinks he would have been allowed the second, let alone the third, under such a policy?

Merry Christmas


Anna Raccoon

Ladies and gentlemen, if you have not already read it, might I suggest popping over to Anna’s and reading her latest post?

Margaret Thatcher

Born at the fag-end of Callaghan’s Premiership I, unlike some who have recently been emoting vehemently, lived through the Winter of Discontent and all of Baroness Thatcher’s time as Prime Minister. Not being a child prodigy, I cannot though claim to have memories of seeing and experiencing much of the events of the time first hand. As for those born after she left office who apparently know so much of what life was like under her, I can only say that I am in awe.

My knowledge of her time – and the events leading up to her 1979 election victory – is the result of what my parents have said and what I have read over the last 20 or so years. I do however know that there is a lot of difference between words on the page and first hand experience.

She was not perfect – no person, especially a politician, ever will be and anyone who seriously claims that they are should be referred to the nearest loony bin ASAP – but so far as my interpretation of her time goes, she left this country in a far better shape economically than it was when she started.

My memories of events in the world around me go back to the mid/late 1980s. I recall my mum watching the wedding of Prince Andrew, I saw Challenger explode on the news and I loved some of the privatisation adverts but I have little memory of almost all of the politics of the day.

Politically the first thing I remember is the Poll Tax and the brouhaha which surrounded it. Although a political disaster for the Conservatives and the policy which triggered Lady Thatcher’s downfall, it is perhaps ironic that my contempt for the hypocrisy of socialism can probably be dated to this time.

Whilst my dislike (and eventual hatred) of tax didn’t begin until I had to start paying it in its most obvious forms (Income, NI, Council) I became aware of its existence as a result of the Community Charge. A flat rate tax with every adult paying the same, my young mind couldn’t, initially, work out why socialists, with their commitment to everyone being treated equally, would object to being taxed equally. It was the eventual realisation that people don’t always mean what they say which allowed me to understand that perhaps socialists don’t like the idea equality in practice – let alone when it applies to them.

RIP Baroness Margaret Hilda Thatcher, 1925 – 2013.

One question…

Dear Mr Burbridge and Mrs Guthrie,

I am sorry to hear about the fate of your father, Wing Commander Bransome Burbridge. Alzheimer’s is a cruel thing to suffer and I hope his last days, however long they may be, are as comfortable as you can make them.

Your efforts to cover his care costs are commendable and the decision to turn down offers of help must have been a difficult one. However I do have one question for you both.

Assuming you are quoted accurately across the two articles in the Telegraph, we have the following quotes from the 26th:

Mr Burbridge said it is a shame they had to sell the medals but feel they had no option in terms of financing their father’s care.

“After his working life he doesn’t have that much [in savings] and it isn’t enough to cover the costs.

“We thought, as he is the person who won these decorations, it is only right he should benefit from them in some way while he is still alive.

“Our family wouldn’t want to sell them if he wasn’t going to benefit. We’re reluctant to do it but we believe it is the right thing.

“It’s a shame but we are quite philosophical about it.

“I don’t think there is some sort of huge debt he is owed. He was happy to do the remarkable things he did and he survived. We value him more than we do his medals.”

and this from the 27th:

He said other families were not lucky enough to have such memorabilia to help fund their relative’s care, with some forced to even sell their homes.

My apologies if I have got my facts wrong but it seems to me after reading these quotes that the one thing you value more highly than your father and his medals is the house he and his wife lived in before she died and he went into care. Could this be because it will be worth more to you once he dies than the sentimental value of his medals?

Misanthrope Girl

Dog bites Man

Scientists from the Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute and the US Fish and Wildlife Service compiled nationwide data from a number of local surveys and pilot studies, to conclude that cats are responsible for the deaths of up to 3.7bn birds and 20.7bn small mammals every 12 months, including mice, voles, rabbits and shrews.

Predators kill. Red in tooth and claw n’ all that.

Sugar baby love…

The website Seeking Arrangement, which boasts of being ‘The Elite Sugar Daddy Dating Site for those Seeking Mutually Beneficial Relationships® & Mutually Beneficial Arrangements™’, has come under fire from that august body of men and women otherwise known as MSPs.

The site’s premise is simple enough: bringing together wealthy, usually older benefactors and cash-strapped younger adults on whom they can show their money. Think any aging celebrity with a young, attractive woman on their arm and you are there.

Why are the MSPs so interested?

The website revealed yesterday that the University of Edinburgh is the latest Scottish university to make it on to their annual “Top 20 Fastest Growing Sugar Baby Schools” in the UK.

It said there had been a 222 per cent increase in female student sign-ups from the university since April 2012, putting it in 8th place with 148 new members in the UK league table.

The university is one of three north of the Border on the list. The others are Glasgow Caledonian which is ranked fifth and St Andrews ninth.

Students finding ways other than taxpayer backed loans to cover the cost of their tuition? Excellent. Initiative isn’t completely dead yet then.

But, as mentioned, the politicians – a group always suspicious of voluntary arrangements between consenting adults – are going for the scare tactic:

Liz Smith, MSP, Scottish Conservative education spokeswoman said that such sites could put female students at risk.

“I do not think I will be alone in having deep-seated concerns about this. I am sure there will be many parents, members of staff and indeed many students themselves who will rightly be very wary of the approach of this type of website,” she said.

“Sadly, there have been other circumstances where the police have been called in to investigate similar website activity and there is clearly a matter of concern about the reported growth-rate of female students wanting to make use of these social networking sites.”

Labour MSP Neil Findlay, a member of the education committee, said: “The company may like to spin this as students ‘being proactive in pursuing a higher education but I am very concerned that this may take are more sinister turn.

“Young people may be vulnerable to older men who may have less than altruistic motives behind their apparent generosity. The reality is Mr Wade’s company is making money out of a system that could be putting young students in danger.”

Yes, something might go wrong for a small percentage of the students – but that is how life works. Your job, you useless fools, isn’t to protect people every single waking second of the day – regardless of how much you may think otherwise. The only role of the state has to play in this (given its current monopoly on law and order) is to get involved when harm is done.

Besides, I suspect the people more likely to get fleeced out of these arrangements are those putting up the readies.

h/t @Jock_Bastard

An Attenwibble round-up

I was going to write something about the deluded Malthusian fool otherwise known as David Attenborough and his latest piece of twaddle but others managed to eviscerate his drivel before I got a chance to:

Fare’s fair?

For many of us the first working day of the year has arrived and, like the inevitability of rain following a drought order, rail fares have increased.

As a rail commuter myself I am well aware of how depressing it is to see the cost of getting to somewhere (London in my case) go up year after year for no discernible benefit in terms of better, less crowded trains, nicer stations and shorter journey times.*

When I next renew my annual season ticket the cost to me will be £3,136 – an increase of just under 4.2%. On the face of it this seems a lot of money for what is approximately an 80 mile round trip to London five days a week.

But when you take a closer look it starts to become more reasonable. Thanks to that annual season ticket I get:

  • Unlimited travel between my home station and London 363** days a year
  • The ability to use any station between those two points without worrying if my ticket will cover it (handy for Lakeside, should I wish)
  • One third off of any other rail travel (except Transport for London – but I have my PAYG Oyster for that)

Not convinced? Then let us, as the colonials are want to say, ‘do the math’…

The daily cost to me of this ticket is £8.64. Narrow it down to 5 days a week, 52 weeks a year and the daily rate is £12.06. Take out my holiday allowance and the remaining bank holidays and you are up to £13.40 a day.

Now take a common small car, a Fiesta say. Apparently it does about 50 miles to the gallon of petrol so let us run with that figure even though I suspect it would do a lot less if sat in rush hour traffic for several hours a day.

At 80 miles a day, or 400 miles a week, that is 8 gallons (36.39 litres) of petrol a week. Assuming an unleaded car with petrol at 131.9p/litre (the lowest figure for my area according to I will be spending pretty much £48/week on petrol. Still, it’s less than 5 days on the train.

But wait, I haven’t thought about parking and (if I’m unlucky) the congestion charge. Like most London office blocks we don’t have acres of parking space but unlike most we do have a private side street which I could use if I arrived early enough. It would still however cost me £8/day as it is inside the congestion charge zone. If I didn’t fancy chancing it I could try the NCP on the edge of the zone at £18/day.

At a minimum I’m looking at £88/week or £4,576 a year. If I end up in the NCP every day it’s £7,176 and if I have to pay the congestion charge as well I’m up to £9,256 – almost 3 times my rail fare.

So whilst the taxpayer subsidised (boo, hiss), government regulated fare I have to pay on what we laughingly call our privatised rail network is hardly cheap, unless it triples in price I’ll stick to using it as the alternative is horrendously expensive.

I could, of course, always sell up, move closer to London and cycle in thus saving myself my transport costs – and I will admit to considering the idea – but this is offset by a more expensive property, a higher council tax bill and the depressing thought of having a socialist (of the Labour variety) MP and council.

In end it is, like everything, a choice so whilst I might (and indeed do) grumble about the cost I know that the grass on the other side of the fence isn’t necessarily greener.

* To be fair to the operating company serving the line I use, the trains are relatively modern (only a decade old) and I don’t tend to worry too much about stations as I (usually) spend less than five minutes on them each day. The journey times though, especially to London in the morning, have increased.

** No service Christmas Day or Boxing Day.

Merry Christmas

Christmas Trees

Image taken from KLH Pphotography