Friday 5th January 2018
What's on my mind today?
I reckon if one didn't have a good sense of humour one could go bonkers. You'll have noticed I frequently have a pop at politicians. Well why not? They're are a pompous privileged bunch that take themselves way too seriously. They forget they're just Britain's admin. But every so often one raises his or her head above the parapet who, quite frankly, just shouldn't.
Let me ask, if you'd been caught taking some quite major 'liberties' at work I reckon you'd be grateful if they let you keep your job. The following day you'd be keen to prove you could be the next employee of the year. I know I would. It's the sensible thing to do. So why is it this is not the case with politicians. Is it because they arrogantly think that the rules that apply to them are not the same ones that apply to us?
Example: Take Liam Fox MP. Now I struggle to see how this man is even allowed into the parliament building let alone have a top job within it. Recently you'll have read he's been demanding more cuts from schools, the welfare state and of course our NHS. Apparently we must save more money. Thing is, saving money is not something that comes very easy to Mr Fox, certainly not his own.
He's had a dodgy political past. For a start, he gave his best mate, Adam Merritt, - seventeen years his junior and a chap with no security clearance - access to the Ministry of Defence secret meetings. He's also taken him on MOD jaunts around the globe. Adam, clearly enjoyed himself because he's been on forty of them. When asked by a journalist, why he went along? He claimed he was 'an advisor' to Mr Fox. In truth he had no official position in the government and was paid a wage by Mr Fox from expenses he claimed as an MP. Well, by now, I'm sure you're querying Mr Fox's judgement because so was everyone else including the Tory leadership. Quite soon after this came to light he resigned, and or was sacked, as Defence minister. A pretty damaging entry on anyone's CV, but it gets worse.
Prior to this he'd 'allegedly' claimed more than £19,000 in expenses to cover his mobile phone bill. He said it was high due to his trips overseas and the high data roaming charges. However, one can't help but wonder, that if he'd been responsible for the bill himself, he'd have found a cheaper tariff or used a land line. It's not rocket science.
Unfortunately, a year later, he dropped the ball again by 'mistakenly' claiming £22,476, of tax payers money, in mortgage interest payments which he wasn't entitled too. I know we've all made mistakes on our expense forms. I freely admit to adding a Snickers bar and a carton of Ribena when filling up the company car, but twenty two grand is taking the piss! Mr Fox was ordered to repay the money. But he appealed. His reasoning was based on the naff argument that he could have claimed more but didn't. So we basically what? Got off light? The appeal was rejected and he was ordered to repay it.
It doesn't end there. A few years ago the Commons Speaker blocked the release of information showing which MPs were renting out their 'tax payer homes' to other MPs. It was laughably deemed 'not in the public interest' to make this information public. Fortunately a newspaper revealed that Mr Fox was receiving rental income from his London home which was paid for by us. He, meanwhile, lived elsewhere. He was sub letting. This surprisingly is not actually against the rules. It is however, obviously, against the rules for those on housing benefit.
Today Mr Liam Fox is flying high in the Tory party. His past seemingly behind him. He had two cracks at the leadership and has his eye on a third. He's now Secretary of State for international Trade. When recently asked 'how many countries were looking for trade deals with the UK in the light of Brexit?' He didn't know the answer was 'none'. He earns nearly £150 thousand pounds a year. Plus expenses, plus living allowances. In politics it's not what you know, nor what you don't know. It's not what you've done, nor what you haven't done. It's all about who your mates are. And people wonder why I take the piss out of them!
Right, taking another break for a week. We have family coming over from New Zealand to spend a week here with us.
Wednesday 3rd January
A clean sheet.
Is there any point in making new years resolutions? I dunno. For a start we might not survive the petulance of Trump and live long enough to really get stuck into one. I'd just be hitting my target of dropping a jeans waist size, only to wake up one morning to find that Trump had insulted Kim Yong what's-his-face just one time too many and the world now stands on the brink of nuclear annihilation. If it happens, to be honest, I'll not be massively surprised. Will you? I think I'll be all philosophical about it, then eat all the chocolate in the house. Fuck it, why not?
But for those that don't share my concerns, yes it's that time of year for making 'new years resolutions'. Now I know most people think they're just another name for a to-do list for the first week in January but I can tell you they're not, it's all very serious stuff. They're actually a religious tradition that goes back thousands of years: see, and you thought it was just a bit of tom foolery. According to those that know, the Babylonians kicked it all off. They made promises to their Gods at the start of each year to return borrowed objects and pay their debts. Now that's amazing. I mean, even back then, if you loaned say your hedge trimmer, (or equivalent thereof) to a Babylonian neighbour, there was no guarantee you'd ever see it again. And there's me thinking, loaning stuff and never having it returned, was a modern day phenomena. Clearly not. The Romans also began each year by making promises to their God Janus. And in medieval times knights of olde took to renewing their vows and their commitment to chivalry. So this tradition goes back some ways and certainly knocks into a cocked hat my promise to drop a trouser size.
A recent study has shown that 85% of those that make a news years resolution fail within days, 'failure', is as big a tradition as actually making a resolution, so never feel bad about not seeing one through. It's almost doomed to fail.
I thought about making one. And I kinda had. It was going to be 'do one kind deed a day'. Though, thinking on it later, it sounded a tad ambitious, so I changed it to one a week. Then I thought, that was also asking a bit much. I mean, it's not a contest, so I plumped for one a month. One good deed a month should be doable. That's twelve good deeds a year. Seems reasonable. Though, to be fair, I'm not sure what actually constitutes a good deed. The other day I saw an old chap standing by the kerb, nervously looking both ways. I thought, you know what? I'm not in a hurry. One day I'll be like that, old, crotchety, slow, annoyed with the world.
(No.... seriously, one day? Ed) Ignore her.
I slowed the car and smiled at him. Flashed my lights to let him know it was okay to cross. He gawped at me like he'd never seen a car before. I waved him across in a jocular fashion. 'Come on old timer, cross the road' I said out loud. He looked the other way. 'No it's clear that way as well', I muttered to myself. He then looked back at me. 'Come on, the coast is clear'. Just then a car, from behind, pulled into the kerb and he clambered in.
'Fekin twat!', I muttered as I drove off. Why stand so bloody close to the kerb? Drivers are bound to think you want to cross. Clearly some good deeds can upset your whole day. So I changed it. My resolution is now, 'Ask more questions and believe less what others tell me'. This is because everyone has an agenda.
Here's the actual top five new years resolutions.
Eat a healthy diet.
You can clearly see a trend there, they're all health related. Why are we all so preoccupied with our health? Sure, it's something we should monitor, but not obsessively. Not to the point where it becomes the focus of your life.
Sadly, what the above list does tell us, is that nobody wants to be kinder. Nobody wants to be more charitable. Nobody wants to be more tolerant. Nobody wants to be less judgemental and nobody wants to befriend a brexiteer. What happened to a little altruism? Has it been totally replaced by the 'sod you jack I'm alright' mindset. What happened to the greater good? One well known right wing politician once said, “There is no such thing as society”. Can't believe she was right, can you?
1st January 2018
My Christmas Day
Good morning world. Here's wishing you all a 'problem free' 2018.
How was your Christmas? A cheerful one I hope. Like you, possibly, I drank and ate far too much, but I guess that's as big a part of a traditional Christmas as is Santa Claus climbing down ones chimney. Besides, we have to entertain ourselves until the shops open again. Best to suffer the rigours of a drunken stupor and an increasing waistline than face withdrawal symptoms from not being able to go shopping.
On Christmas day forty rowdy pensioners invaded the campsite restaurant and attempted to recreate a typical British Christmas day atmosphere, not easy when there's not a brussel sprout or turkey drumstick in sight. A few British ladies had decorated the room and the tables to give the restaurant a traditional festive look which it hadn't had before. We pulled crackers, donned our paper hats, shouted out the naff jokes within and tested ourselves with the 'Magic fish of truth' that fell out of one. This seemed to bemuse the locals walking through; lots of old Brits sitting around wearing colourful paper head gear and giggling at bugger all. Still, we did give the world Monty Python. After dinner we knocked out a few classic carols with me and a mate supplying the musical backing on guitars.
I didn't watch the queens speech. I never have. Does anyone? I don't see what relevance this women has to me. I know constitutionally, I'm listed as one of her subjects, but give me a bill of rights and a republic anytime. Basically something less medieval and a little more Buck Rogers. I've no idea why so many people revere this family with its German heritage. They had to change their name from Saxe-Coburg and Gotha, from the German House of Wettin, to Windsor. The duke of Edinburgh's sisters were both Nazis! It's also struck me as odd that, unlike most other countries, our anthem is not a rousing song dedicated to Great Britain and or its history, but is a prayer asking God to save an extremely rich and privileged lady. Try explaining the logic behind that to a Martian. My biggest gripe with 'The Firm', as they apparently call themselves, is that they represent the class system. They're its mascots. And before you think that remark irrelevant, just remember that over half of British Prime Ministers have come from the aristocracy, and the same number come from just two very privileged British schools. And if you think that's just coincidence, you need to get out more.
However I did see Donald Trump's Christmas message and couldn't help but wonder at the irony. You had Melania Trump talking in her thick-as-treacle Eastern European accent about “vot unites uz as peeples of America”, this while sat next to a guy who once had a prominent KKK leader on his Christmas card list. But even more ironic was Trumps own wish of “Peace and Goodwill to all men”. Except, I'm assuming, those at CNN and NBC for their fake news. Anyone unfortunate enough to head the FBI. All Liberals. The Clintons and the Obamas, obviously. Everyone in north Korea who will no doubt suffer as a direct result of additional sanctions he's been pressing for. Mexicans, and not forgetting 1.5 billion Islamic followers, many of whom have now had their hopes dashed of ever visiting Disney World. I appreciate he wants to make the US safe for his citizens, but surely that ship sailed with the ever increasing gun sales.. Americans, killed by fellow Americans, number around fifteen thousand a year. A US state has just passed a law making it legal to carry a firearm into a bar. I mean, what could go wrong there? Being wished 'Peace and Goodwill' from a man who could bring about Armageddon with a tweet, is more than ironic, it's scary. Sadly, the best bit of news I could've woken up to on Christmas morning was to hear he'd thrown himself out of the 93rd floor window of Trump tower. Alas no such news.
Anyhoo, that's it done for another year, well at least for us. Here it Spain it's not quite the end of the festive celebrations. In fact it's about to come to something of a crescendo. We're just a few days away from 'Three Kings day', the day when Spanish children are given their Christmas gifts. Three old chaps get dressed up - one actually blacks up : why? nobody knows - and then get carted around the streets on a float pulled by a tractor. They call to the children, much like the pied piper, to follow them. To tempt the kids they throw sweets, though I don't know what's wrong with showing them a kitten and telling them you have several more at home. Seems to work well for some. I feel obliged to point out that nowhere in the original gospel does it mention 'Three wise men', black or white, only 'Magi' which are followers of magic and where we get the word 'magician' from. And it's only assumed there were three because of the number of gifts. But not withstanding the truth, 'The Three Kings' have morphed into religious history and now, those of faith around the world, celebrate their arrival.
Roll on the day when we can put all this behind us.