Wednesday, 30 January 2008

Ghosts in the shell

Sometimes as we meander our way through life, with some experiencing a harder time of it than others. We come across and meet up with people that stop us in our tracks. Who actually make us sit up, and actively think!

They have a selfless abundance of goodness that is remarkable for its sheer pugnacious disregard for reciprocation. A wealth of untrammelled energy which is utterly astounding.

Then on the flip-side you have the Stalin's, Pol Pot's, Mugabe's, Bush, Bin Laden's and now the one from Kenya, whose entire existence appears to be that of making everyone else's hell.

Don't get me wrong, I'm as humanist-atheistic leaning as the next sensible person. But with the number of atrocities jumping by the day and, of course, impending (again) global calamities around the corner, perhaps there is something more than just electrons whizzing through grey spongy soup which makes those few people, special.

Saturday, 26 January 2008


Received call at 08:08hrs, after been up since 06:30hrs again.

Finally, at 08:50hrs, the bell chimed and my new box arrived; with two delivery boys carrying it in from a parked up transit outside.

According to the sheet, this was the first delivery!

Will I do Argos again?

Where's my raspberries...

Friday, 25 January 2008

Climate change. Official!

So the American Geophysical Union or AGU, have finally revised and re-affirmed most of the globes belief that the majority effects of the increase in melting, warming, flooding... is, with a more than 50% probability, down to human intervention.

"The Earth's climate is now clearly out of balance and is warming. Many components of the climate system—including the temperatures of the atmosphere, land and ocean, the extent of sea ice and mountain glaciers, the sea level, the distribution of precipitation, and the length of seasons—are now changing at rates and in patterns that are not natural and are best explained by the increased atmospheric abundances of greenhouse gases and aerosols generated by human activity during the 20th century. Global average surface temperatures increased on average by about 0.6°C over the period 1956–2006. As of 2006, eleven of the previous twelve years were warmer than any others since 1850." AGU

But many people have already accepted the scenario that it has been happening, for years. And started making small changes in their lifestyles to match. But how many actually recycle, how much in the way of goods are actually wasted, ending up in landfills or incinerated, all produced from energy fossil fuels.

A deep-vein coal mine has closed down in Wales today, lasting 15 years longer than anticipated. But it has come to an end, other mines will no doubt be in a similar position. Many mines in the UK have or had been in operation for centuries; before the Thatcher & Scargill fiasco.

There is no great probability of developing nations ditching their dash to luxurious modernity, by cutting back on their need for energy! Just as there won't be any real passion in developed nations to cut back on the luxuries and disposables they enjoy.

In the meantime, we know (well according to the science) that a CO2 reduction of at least 60% is in order, and that's just to get us back to where we were a decade ago! If a single digit reduction's managed, that would be a major surprise.

So what's to do?

Solar power, wind, turbine, nuclear, all with problems of their own. How many places have 12 hours of sun beating down from a cloudless sky, with at least 2 hectares given over to energy exchange? Or continual wind? Turbines sound more feasible if the motion - electricity conversion could be made more efficient. Nuclear? Current costs, possibility of meltdowns (with Three Mile and Chernobyl as benchmarks), terrorism and the dumping of burning waste for thousands of years - unless a safer means is found to secure and dispose of it.

Which brings me back. So what to do?

Fusion doesn't seem to be anywhere in the running! Could there be something peering out of the backwater?

Artists drawing of the ITER project

Delivery revisited: II

With so much happening out there in the ever wide expanding universe; rolling 24 hour news, reality TV - are these more real than actual real life news events? Radio, blogs, disasters, killings, starvation, cabals, fundamentalist's, some bloke spending a few billions in an investment bank unwisely! Murders and general mayhem. It seems rather churlish of me to just pander on, about my little ongoing delivery problem.

But I shall.

As mentioned at the end of Delivery Revisited, I expected the resplendent top today. Between 07:00hrs and 12:00hrs. Its delivery was faithfully guaranteed. Although in hindsight I should have gotten a couple of drops of blood, made them swear their first and second born to perpetual servitude whilst getting those short chains ready, to put to some good use!

To ensure that I would be ready and awake with plenty of time to spare, the night before I did the sensible thing went around setting all the alarms for 06:30hrs. All of them, at around 02:45hrs!

06:30hrs arrived and the klaxons went off. Dazedly I sprang out of bed. Briefly meandered around, waiting for the call and delivery.

12:00hrs arrived and I called them up. To be put on, off, on hold, then 'someone will call you back in 5-10 minutes!'

Fifteen minutes later I get the call. "Very sorry, I don't know what's happened," the voice from the other end said. "They did the paperwork, and sent it through to us, but for some reason they never sent it to themselves!"

"Oh," was all I could muster.

"Will tomorrow morning be okay?" he asks. Sounding very contrite mind.

"Tomorrow morning, like this morning?" I ask, trying to keep the cynicism just below the screaming abuse threshold. "Between 7am and midday?"

"Yes," he replies.

"Well," I feel the buried side of me rearing up. "If it isn't delivered this time, the next time I call it will be for you to collect the whole order, and I will expect a full refund along with compensation for wasting my time."

"Oh," he says. "Okay, it will be with you tomorrow!"

And at this moment, this is all I can recall. As sleep deprivation appears to be sapping my will to live!

Thursday, 24 January 2008

Flying trotters

So a politician's finally done the decent thing and resigned.

To clear his name.

After, and only possibly mind - nothing's yet been proven! But been caught with both front trotters, snout, and floppy ears waving around in the crumbs jar. It's more and more, beginning to look like a re-run of the Major years.

Wednesday, 23 January 2008

Delivery, revisited

The metal thing from Curry's works like a dream. No complaints about it at all. So an excellent thumbs up to the Leisure corp. Whilst throwing a very big, over-ripe raspberry, at Curry's!

And now onto Argos. I suppose having to deal with hordes of people in the retail section is sometimes like dealing with the living dead. But then the very same complaint can be made about those working behind the counters.

My faith, however, in the commonsense ability of the everyday man (or woman) was partially restored by the efficiency of their initial delivery service.

Sadly the shoddy item (made in China), had to have one part returned, and with the only available (apparently) delivery slot, in a week's time; I agreed and patiently waited.

Delivery day arrived and I received a call from the driver, saying they'd be here in five minutes. Ten minutes go by and sitting in the living room, I notice a brightly coloured Argos van go sailing by. Get a call from the driver saying he can't park because it's on a red route. I inform him that if Salisbury's, Tesco's, meal-on-wheels can unload so can he. But no, he's adamant and drives off saying I will have to re-schedule.

I contact customer services to inform them of this turn of events and give them the same information that I have just given the driver.

They contact him. After a few moments I get a call from him saying, he should be here by 14:20hrs, but he will call me five minutes before hand. At 14:10hrs he calls to say he's nearly here, again, and have I removed the cones from the bay? "What cones?" I say, "there is no bay here, it's the road and I will be by the pavement with the packaged item. It should only take a couple of minutes maximum!" After all if Tesco can disgorge £70 worth of shopping in about five minutes, a one metre sheet of non-heavy packed glass, shouldn't take any longer than that.

I go outside, 15 minutes later see the van coming around the corner and I start waving franticly, whilst holding onto the glass. He slows down (in the middle of the road), saying "I'm not going to stop, its a red route."

"You can stop, you're only briefly unloading," I shout to the passing lorry.

So he speeds up and drives off.

I'm flabbergasted. Decide to hang outside for another ten minutes, in case he is turning around somewhere, and coming back. But no!

Go back inside and again contact customer services. In a previous tapping, I might have mentioned the fact that at this stage, all you want to do is scream down the phone. But with large companies the person you usually scream at, is far removed from the actual events occurring outside your door.

Then get a call on the mobile from the delivery side of Argos, and again explain what's been happening.

The next time I have a delivery, will have to make a recording. So when I have contact someone I can just press the play button, which would save so much time and energy.

So the kind lady enquires if I wish to re-arrange delivery. I count to five before saying "yes, any time."

"Is Friday, between 7am and 12am any good?" she asks.

"That's perfect," I reply, wondering what's coming next.

"Well the driver will call you half an hour before. To make sure there's no problems!"

I wanted to say that, having to be up at 6.30am, is indeed a hassle and I shouldn't have to. But just say, "that will be fine."

"He'll deliver it in a transit van, as there shouldn't be any problems with that, for quickness."

I agree.

"Will there be anything else?"

"No, that will be all," I reply.

And with that and another five hours in the future to be wasted, I can feel the urge to send letters out to the Delivery department as well as the Chairman's office, lambasting them about the inefficiency of their set-up!

There are many roads in the capital that are on red routes. Wardens although quick to ticket, are also not stupid and around here they do understand that in many situations a five minute (usually less) drop-off is necessary.

So after an initial burst offering a beacon of hope; sadly Argos to, gets the big over-ripe, raspberry.

Tuesday, 22 January 2008

Sunny days

The first day since the new year, where the sun has been beaming down through crisp rarified air, here in London.

That and obviously the influence of the full moon, has combined to produce a strange amount of behaviour in the fair folk of town.

So here's a couple of pictures (courtesy of APA) and it's only just gone mid-day!

Remarkable - it's not always AOL's fault

There's nothing nicer than freshly laid carpets tickling the soles of your feet. Certainly an improvement over draughty floorboards.

But back to AOL. Over the past couple off weeks I have been experiencing intermittent connection problems, with my otherwise perfect AOL service. So, decided to give them a call!

Call centres are a wonderful idea, especially when they help to keep costs down, give big fat bonuses to directors and dividends to shareholders.

But one of the reasons they gave for changing from a free call number to their member services desk to a national charge, was to improve the service. It's one thing hanging on for half an hour, trying to get an issue sorted out with your connection, when the call is free. Quite another when you have to fork out 10p/minute for more than 10 minutes.

I, along with many others, resented that change from a free to a charged call, which on average lasted 30 minutes. Especially when they started outsourcing, root and branch.

I have nothing against outsourcing - I'm sure once the recession hits and markets slump, with millions of unemployees milling around chasing pigeons, companies will be flocking around at the hint of increasing profits from the surplus of cheap willing labour. But when you have to repeat yourself 3 - 4 times to get the nature of the problem across, and go through the whole process again when the person can't deal with it and has to 'upscale'; it's no wonder people get frustrated wishing to bang their head (but more likely the member services representative's head) onto the nearest sharp object. Whilst screaming at the top of their voice out of pure frustration!

On this occasion it took over an hour to get AOL to finally escalate the problem up to the Tech II stage, and to do a line test. Which, after the results popped up are poured over, and reveals that there is indeed a problem with the line.

Having been with AOL now for over five years (yes, the term Mug does spring to mind), missing out on the free Laptop Offer, the free year talk time, upgrading to faster package plan meaning I'm stuck in an 18 month contract - without perks. I was all in mind to claim breach of contract and terminate.

But then I started noticing that the fault mainly occurred when someone was walking around. The DSL and Internet lights would go off for a second then the DSL would flash and both would reconnect again.

Looked at the connections? All fine. But perhaps it was the original cable? Original in the sense that the wires were individually wrapped with cloth and encased in lead. So that was changed. But the problem still persisted. Maybe the filters? Swapped them around. Just had the DSL cable and wireless router connected to the master socket without any thing else, and still the connection would go off and on. Could it be the Wireless Router itself playing up?

But that nagging suspicion about movement wouldn't go away.

So, to cut a long story short - even starting to bore myself! When the carpet was put down, one screw was screwed into a carpet holder, which partially cut one of the wires (but still made a connection), but also cut the cloth of the other wire. But, the two wires didn't touch (and thus short-circuiting the system) until there was movement, which happened? When people were walking on the floorboards around that screw.

So as much as I like to bash AOL, this had nothing at all to do with them. Wasn't their fault in the slightest.

However shall be having firm words with the installer; for causing me two weeks of connection misery.

Tuesday, 15 January 2008

No shows: Currys dearth

No, nothing here about the writers strike in the USA. But a gripe about the tripe service from Curry's, subsidiary of DSGi.

Before Christmas this particular item was on sale for £299. After Christmas and in the new year sales, it was again on sale for the whopping amount of... £299!

So deciding this particular bit of metal wasn't going to come down in price, anytime soon, the purchase was made. Expecting two weeks delivery, we (flatmate and myself) were very surprised when a slot was available just five days away. So a great big YES was said to that.

Oh and then - not to forget - the extra added value of a £20 delivery charge on top; after the transaction had been put through. And a firm NO, to the extra insurance protection plan!


Five days came and went. The morning before anticipated delivery, we called the number on the receipt to find out whether everything was on schedule. This turned out to be deceptively good. An automated service which located the order and the associated special delivery instructions and time. Delivery, 2.15pm to 6.15pm. Very precise. Let's just see if it lives up to the billing!


Delivery day arrives and quickly speeds around to 2pm.

6.15pm comes and goes. No delivery!

6.30pm Dispatch service is called. And there is nothing on the system that indicates that the delivery has been cancelled suspended, or even running late. Even they are quite surprised, that we haven't heard from the driver.

6.52pm receive a call from the drivers assistant, saying they'll be arriving in 5-10 minutes.

7.03pm get a call from the driver. He has finally parked up (150 metres away) and we'll have to go and collect it!

So as the driver argues with his assistant saying he doesn't want to get a £120 fine by parking on a double red line - which would be taken out of his wages and that was more than he earned in a day - we told him that the bay outside of the flat was a single red line, with a sign specifying 'no parking 7am-7pm'. And since he was already 50 minutes late and it was now 7.06pm, there was no fear of him been ticketed by a warder, unless he was still there at 7am.

But no, he was going to drive away, or drop it off in the street; after we'd been waiting in all day - afternoon - for delivery. Leaving us to carry it - a full sized cooker - 150 meters!

Eventually they take it out of the lorry and wheel it to the pavement by the roadside. Still leaving us to deliver it, the rest of the way in.

So once more, Curry's! First place for Rubbish customer service in store. First place for Rubbish delivery service out of store. The only saving grace at this time, is the appliance doesn't appear to have any dents. Whether it works as expected, we will find out tomorrow. When it gets installed.

House alerts

Caveat emptor indeed!

Yes, that golden rule that you ignore at your peril.

So what are the salient points of getting that housing yoke firmly around your neck?

  • Never trust the seller - they are out to make as much money whilst glossing over the true state of the building and other associated undiscovered problems
  • Always get at least three but preferably five estate agent valuations - yes even if you are buying
  • Always get a full survey done of the property, including electrical's - otherwise you might find at some stage that your fuse box starts smoking and potentially going up in flames. At the very least it could be condemnable
  • Never trust the seller
  • If you are thinking of living in a vibrant energetic part of town, remember that as lovely as that is, when you want peace and quiet the noise will drive you insane
  • Check to see if they have neighbours above, and if it's a conversion whether they have sufficient carpet and underlay down and not wooden flooring
  • Never trust the seller
  • Check all radiators, fittings, fixtures
  • Find out what's hiding underneath that big painting or mirror, and been covered up by that artex* finish or polystyrene tiling - is it damp or will all the plaster work need re-doing?

With financial markets somewhat edgy, best wait a couple of weeks as the rate of repossessions increases and bargains will be out there to be had!

* Care should be exhibited when working with old Artex surfaces as the original formulation of Artex contained white (Chrysotile) asbestos which could release airborne asbestos fibers when worked upon. This practice ended some time around 1980, although reports vary

Sports icons

So, another English (admittedly by affiliation) potential sports icon has suffered the dreaded English malaise of landing on his rear, after been dumped out of the first round of tennis Aussie Open by the number nine, France's Jo-Wilfried Tsonga. Clips of which can be seen here, from the BBC website.

What's left? Who is left? Which home grown bit of talent will step up to the mark and bring back a resurgent period of sporting glory, to this once glorious archipelago?

The English Football team? Soon to be managed by an Italian and look as much a winning team, as an old nag winning the Grand National, by ten lengths.

Fencing champion Richard Kruse? Coached by three times Polish foil champion Ziemek Wojiechowski and Britain's national coach for several years currently over in Poland. As for Rugby and Cricket... they might as well not bother leaving the dressing room, except to hand the other team the trophy.

So what is left? Formula-1? let's hope Lewis Hamilton can pull it out this year. Or failing that, there's always the World Singles or World Pairs of the World Tiddly Winks Championships?

Monday, 14 January 2008

Advertising dilemmas

You read about people sticking on various ad-links, urls to their blogs, pages, web-sites, and soon afterwards retiring on the proceeds they've had pouring in from day one.

Naturally I thought what a good idea, and set about setting up my google adsense widget.

I had a bit of a dilemma, wondering whether to have everything from news links to wart remover, scattered all over the page. In the end I decided upon having just the one advert text box, and at the bottom a little strapline with the latest breaking bit of information.

The widgets have now been on for quite a few weeks. Not really sure why I put the widgets on after all, sort of second thoughts especially after finding myself re-viewing and seeing companies that I rank amongst the likes of Pol Pot, Stalin or Idi Amin gracing my pages. Must sit down and work out the exclusions list: banks, lawyers, solicitors, banks!

Although just having fluffy clouds and lily pads gracing the page, is probably defeating the entire purpose!

So how did this budding new advertising mogul's plans pan out?


PT cough jackers and the Norovirus

Oh, things are looking bad!

Two differing neighbours have so far been laid low by the dreaded 24 - 48hr norovirus and its associated symptoms: heartily throwing up, experiencing severe diarrhea whilst vehemently refusing the offer of a full English breakfast. I ask you, how could anyone refuse?

But they have been sensible, staying in, and eschewing all contact with the outside world, even gone to the extreme of taking a couple of days off work!

In this day and age, when taking more than 30 seconds for a toilet break automatically makes you the number one office "slacker", most people will vainly struggle into their workplace. Thus continuing the effective spread of the virus. Unless, they work from home.

Now, I am a great proponent of public transportation. Use it on a regular basis, travelling up and down the country. Swear by it. When it works!

But there is nothing worse than been on an empty (it does happen on occasion) tube train, or a normal train, when it pulls into a station and someone enters the exact same carriage. Not sure if it is a homing instinct the chronically ill have as part of their genes, or that some memes have taken control, forcing them to sit directly opposite and start coughing all over me; doing their weepy impressions of frog swallowing fly's, mouths wide open, all the way down to their stomachs. But it sure feels like it.

So I end up been fully sprayed with whatever this years version of influenza happens to be! And as the little pests take the option of hurtling across the carriage and down into my passageways, I just know that in a couple of days time, it will be me doing those very same weepy impressions.

Makes me hanker after the Tokyoites very healthy respect for mask wearing when in ill-health, or if anyone else around them is ill, or if they are an anime character!

GP Patient Survey...

When the above popped through the letter box, I thought I'd died and gone heaven.

Perhaps it is me and I have been labouring under a misconception that booking an appointment to see ones GP had been, or is in the process of been, reduced to a week! Perhaps even, at a push two!

So I bite my tongue when I am told the earliest appointment is four weeks away. And bite it even harder when that four weeks have been and gone and I go to find I shall be seeing a locum and not my own regular GP! A Locum in today's parlance, is a professional temp!

They (the government - perhaps more under the previous than current incumbent) have been happy bleating on about the number of billions been pumped into the NHS (National Health Service). But all those billions appear to have been soaked up by the heightened upper echelons remuneration, way before reaching the bottom, in the form of meager scraps.

Would this be a time to mention Consultants, Area Managers, Managers, Secretaries, whose increasing use of days off 'due to stress', must make opening a travel agency within hospital grounds an accountants financial dream. Doctors (not the private - full or partial), Receptionists, Nurses, Security, are more or less front line targets and deserve way more money than they're getting. And of course the humble Cleaners for whom English may be a 2nd or 3rd tongue, a course in English along with a 'how not skimp on the cleaning solution' and report your bosses if forced to' one, would be in order.

On the bottom line - apologises - front-line, it is a shame all those billions spent on the service have proved incapable of ensuring that when your four week wait is over, and you have made it over the threshold (so proving, however tenuous, your claim to be in the land of the living); that the look of disappointment palpably rippling outwards from the front desk - like some bodily emanation as another body hasn't pegged it and manages to stumble through - increases in tedium each dreaded passing visit.

Then the wait to finally see your GP begins. Book an appointment for 10am and if you are lucky, you will be seen two hours later by about 12pm. If anything, you are far better pretending that your body is about to gasp its last and you will be zipped in under an emergency booking. At least then you are guaranteed to walk out in a couple of hours with a printed prescription pre-laden for the next round of pills; praying to which ever god you believe in that you don't have to pay the place a visit, ever again!

If you miss your appointment by 10 minutes or more, you are politely told that you can't be seen. As the Doctor is now busy. And you will have to re-book, for another time! Which is, naturally, another 4 weeks down the line.

How can it be improved? Hard to say. The current economic downturn negates the ability to increase funding. But even then just throwing money at it isn't the right idea; despite the strain it is experiencing, people living longer and having more ailments with increasing age and new forms of expensive treatment coming on-stream.

But what is needed is a root and branch structural review with no sacred cows or white elephants in the closed wing. A review that every citizen is involved with and not just once in a blue moon at election time. The NHS used to work! We just have to find a way of making it work and work effectively (for us all in the UK), over the next few decades!

Are we been well served by the NHS? Only if you're an estate agent, travel company and, with increasing cases of MRSA, MRSi and other yet to be championed unknown bugs around the corner, I have to vouch a no!

One possible view of MRSA infection.

Saturday, 12 January 2008

Sale madness, food waste, holiday's end

Sales should normally be coming to an end! But credit-crunch vampires, recession worries and lower than average spending, have - like naughty St. Trinian's - ganged up and put paid to that. So each day since the season of shoplifting and goodwill upped on its downers, the Hydraverts (many-headed advertising monster) mercilessly batters, the poor beleaguered cashless shopper!

Considering that over the holiday period and on Christmas day itself, a fair portion of shops in the capital were open. From the evidence of people shopping until the last of Christmas Eve however, you would have thought there was going to be imminent global rationing, or at the very least major shortages. People were packing trolleys to overflowing, and pushing each other out of the way to get those turkeys.

Untitled-1Now a 20lb turkey to feed 8 people is more than acceptable, but to feed only 4? Gluttony and wastefulness are terms that spring to mind. How much of the Christmas fare have we - and yes I include myself as part of the herd - been waiting for more than six months to enjoy, simply ended up in a landfill? How many presents have we all brought that people have ungratefully responded with, "don't know why you bothered! Wouldn't wear," and why is it always clothes, "that load of shite if they paid me!" Although saying that, I have been guilty of ingratitude once or twice in my lifetime, but never quite like that. Just once, or twice mind!

But it's a never-ending merry-go-round of what we really need and greed. We can't really afford - well the planet can't really afford - our wasteful over exuberance. So next Christmas I'm not going to buy, give or receive any pressies or cards. Just my way of giving a gift, to the environment!

Thursday, 10 January 2008

Churchillian bridges

Never in the field of human history was so much owed by so many to so few!

A misquote, I know. A misquote, with which I hope the fat man with the perpetual cigar would have been happy with.

Nearly 70 years have flowed under the bridge of history when he said that. Sadly it would appear the same waters are going round and round and round. Becoming increasingly cloudy, ever more dangerous, with no high ground in sight to escape to.

Of course, one day, it will all just evaporate.

Wednesday, 9 January 2008

Living in London on £3 a day

Not sure where I initially saw the subject heading, but that and then passing by the Daily Mail, sent my wondering mind into pondering mode.

People on the dole or unemployment have it so easy! After all, they don't have the daily chore of having to commute with fellow smelly passengers on full to capacity overheated tube trains first thing in the morning, through particle ridden sewers.

Sorry, but sometimes that's just what it feels like. To be up at the crack of dawn till long after nightfall working for someone who you know's an idiot and if it weren't for them winging through with some dodgy bit of paper they've exchanged their soul for, and are now in a position of authority above you; would be selling lavender-scented sawdust.

Yes those dole-ites have it easy!

Free prescriptions. Which if you consider costs over £6 per item is a tidy sum, no wonder they're always ill and then they have the audacity to go around with bad teeth, which should be made a criminal offense. After all they even get some sort of free dentistry. Admittedly they don't seem to get any help or benefit with water, gas, electricity or telephone, tv licence, usage. But if they were out looking for work and pro-actively seeking it, they wouldn't need to use any of those. They have perfectly good unemployment offices. Which, I believe, provide them with a cup of water should they pass out - as long as it's measured, don't want them getting a feel for the easy life. Not to mention good library facilities they can use in the pursuit of knowledge and more importantly, finding work.

With the advent of Primark and jeans for £2, shoes for £1 some sort of polyester top for 50 pence, clothing needs are taken care of, and with all those charity shops that abound today, they have plenty of options.

They have no need of a social life, as in the paragraph above, they should be busy, out, looking for work. And they shouldn't be smoking as no doubt that will give them cancer and another excuse for idleitis, not to mention becoming an even greater burden to an already overstretched NHS.

So if they don't cut out smoking and drinking their benefits should be cut. And if the Conservatives new proposals ever come to fruition, they should indeed be doing community work, but probably from the same week they sign on and not just after a couple of years. Clearing up some of the mess they have more than likely created in the first place.

But back to living in London on £3 a day. So what are the possibilities?

You can have two single bus journeys, and still have enough money to buy a cheeseburger and an apple. Very healthy in anyone's book; especially with obesity levels rising.

Or one tube journey, a bus journey back and still have 10pence left over to spend.

For £3 you can buy 5kg of imported chicken which with a stock cube or two, and some vegetables would provide plenty of food to last a couple of days, probably enough to even give a spare days worth of money, to frivolously spend.

Admittedly you won't be able to visit a cinema, but then you should be out busy looking for work, shouldn't you!

No need to buy a paper, you can read them for free in any library or wait until editions of the free papers, The London Paper, London Lite, Metro, City A.M. and on a Friday morning: My Free Sport, are available and do all the reading from there. And once finished, no need to buy toilet paper. There, money saved yet again.

Visit one of the many free museums and exhibitions or take in a bit of street theatre.

So Living on £3 a day or £21 a week why do people need any more! After all if their housing costs up to £80 a week are taken care of and 80% of their council tax, if anything, people's benefits can be reduced to probably £35 a week. As from the example above, more than enough.

Tuesday, 8 January 2008


I must say I am more than happy with my google email. Much better than my old yahoo or AOL one or for that matter hotmail. That one had more spam per day than I had original emails in a month.

But every now and then one slips through. I suppose at this particular juncture, even automation has its limit.

But after receiving an email starting

Resolution Panel On Contract Payment (Atm-822)
FROM SENATE PRESIDENT .... etc., etc., etc.

My hackles, which would normally be raised in indignant annoyance, resolutely stayed unruffled. Instead, my fingers immediately moved the mouse upwards and just clicked the report spam button.

No fuss, no clicking on a link to see whether this was that one off. That just in case! After all, if you were in line for hundreds of millions, you would expect they'd have done some homework like your correct name and have parked outside a limousine ready to take you to the bank! As that hasn't happened, I can take it this is just another sad attempt to part me from my banking details. Unlike Mr Jeremy Clarkson however, I shan't be giving my details out, whilst saying do your worst!

New year, old problems.

We're now firmly stuck-into 2008, and thankfully I've been allowing my pennings, or tappings, or typings (erk) to slip and somewhat whither, into the arena of minor scribblings. But, I have been busy with the odd photographic tit-bit. Been surprised at seeing a fly in what's supposed to be the middle of winter here, not once but twice and nearly in the same place, as well as a bumblebee, lady bird and the odd mosquito.

Taking vid-clips of the hell-hole I am currently inhabiting, as it goes through a slow transformation, room by room. And as each one's done, actually more tarted up to look less horrid, something else drops by that makes me wonder why I bothered with it in the first place. Hindsight, they say, is a wonderful thing. Such a shame foresight took that initial wide berth!

But it could be worse, everything could be so much worse! Consider the poverty in other parts of the world, consider the many millions of people who are living on an annual income lower than I get a week. It puts things into perspective, consider been caught up in one of the many natural disasters sweeping around the globe. So yes my own personal space isn't perfect and I'm facing my own private calamities, but it could be a heck of a lot worse!

My hat goes off to people who are able to get through such events and come out stronger the other side. Not sure whether my mental make-up is of sufficient strength or character, to carry me through one of those. So far the test hasn't occurred, and (touching all the wood I can whilst doing this) I hope it doesn't either.

Africa's to all intent a failed continent that seems to be worthy of nothing more than pillaging and rapping (of its minerals, best minds and warmth) by the rest of the world. A continent largely led by rulers cuckolded unable to see further than their bank balances, who's only concern are how many wives they can bed and how big a palace they can build!

Where are the Nelson Mandela's, people of whatever race, sex, or religion; of vision from the continent? Sadly, it seems they die way to early before being able to do any lasting good! And the ones who don't do any good just seem to go on forever.

So here's to hoping that the start of the year is just a minor blip and we'll all soon be back to living in peace, harmony and forward human progression.