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Monday, October 27, 2014

One last push...

Apparently, it's Monday again. These things seem to come round with astonishing regularity, unlike my blog entries, but I'll keep trying.


This week, I'm on the train to London, which I have to say, makes a very pleasant change from Liverpool. Don't get me wrong, Liverpool is fine, with all its localness, and footballness, and "there's nothing for your round here"-ness, which is far rarer than I am making out (for comic effect, and to wind up my sister). Seriously doh, (coz dey do dat down der doh don't dey doh) its a really nice place nowadays. A vibrant city with lots to see and do, and plenty of character, history and dare I say it, even some culture. I've enjoyed it, even though it's been excruciating painful to do, it is finally starting to come to a close. Hence my trip to London. The final week of the heavy lifting part of the process, requires certain senior individuals to be within earshot, so the mountain is coming to Mohammad.


The aching bones and inability to walk, finally subsided by about Wednesday last week. That will teach me to rush that floor tiling job, but it is done and the results are pleasing. However, there is no rest for the wicked, and so first thing Monday I was straight back up to that Liverpool for more of the same. However, I'd very sensibly booked Friday off in advance of a visit from the Scottish contingent. I rushed home Thursday night, and even managed a couple of jars with the WTC to round off my working week, which was a blessing. The sanity/insanity that comes with time in their company is often an oasis in the desert of my working week, and one I'm very glad has water and palm trees.


I am starting to get more than a little hacked off with the travel-for-work thing. Having worked from home for so long, you get a routine, and right now I'd like that routine back. I should of course be careful what I wish for, because these things have a way of biting you, and I'm acutely aware of a forthcoming holiday anyway, which Mrs G and I have well and truly earned.

Friday, my favourite brother-in-law arrived, with Mrs Gs sister and their offspring. It's always a pleasure to see them, and it's becoming a regular trick to spend his birthday doing something semi-active in the day and then semi-alcoholic (with a curry) in the evening. This year was no different in that respect, and we spent the day wandering around Gloucester and taking in the delight that is the "Crucible 2" art exhibition currently showing at Gloucester Cathedral. This consists of around a hundred works of art - sculptures in fact - dotted around the cathedral and its grounds. Some pretty amazing things and in, what is, a very grand and beautiful setting. A pot of traditional tea and some coffee's in "Lily's tea shop" afterwards, to shelter from the rain and a thoroughly good time was had. I'd recommend it although you'll have to be quick as its gone at the end of October.


We did the curry thing and all the local gang were there. Daughter and Tall fella came along, and Dave, Tall fella and I picked up the curry whilst having the now traditional "cheeky pint" in the pub next to the curry house. All good stuff.


On Saturday, Mrs G and I took a cycle into town and did some very minor shopping, although she did get a bargain, and then I had to prep and pack for a night in Wiltshire. Many many years ago, I served an apprenticeship in an engineering firm in Chippenham. As a result I wound up working in IT, as the IT manager for what became a very successful little company manufacturing high powered semiconductors. I reported to the Finance director, an ex policeman and an all round truly smashing bloke. In the 7 years I was there, I learned everything I needed to set me up in a long career in what we now refer to as IT, but which was ostensibly - looking after the computers, back then. It was a great time, with ups and downs and he guided me into an interesting and most helpful role at head office, and onwards into greatness... Etc etc etc.... Anyway, as I say, this was many many years ago, and the time has come for his retirement - which frankly scares the bejesus out of me. He'd organised a get together of a few of the people he'd enjoyed working worth, and I feel most privileged to be included in that set. Fine wine, fine company, fine food, reminiscing and forward planning were the highlights of the evening, and while (as the song goes) everything changes, everything also stays the same. I hadn't really planned on staying overnight, but there you go. In the end I'm glad I did. It was great to catch up and remember what were some of my my formative years, and I thank him for it greatly.


You can imagine, that I had a slightly woozy start to Sunday morning, but nothing that some bacon and eggs couldn't put right. His wife did the hangers-on proud, and I finally got home around midday. I got a few little jobs done and the packing started ready for the forthcoming week, and then late afternoon, Mrs G started on the Sunday lunch, which was a special one on this occasion. Not least because it was to mark the Tall ones birthday. (I know, it's a non-stop party in our house). A gorgeous piece of roast lamb with all the trimmings and plenty of banter, although to be fair I was at this point totally shattered, made for an enjoyable time, but before I knew it, it was time to finish my packing and get some sleep before the early taxi/train combo to London.....


So here I sit. Once more into the breach dear friends, once more....

Monday, October 20, 2014

Holidays are coming...

After that last entry, I'm struggling to stay awake, but it goes like that. Total and utter boredom of monotony, followed by fast paced, high energy excitement, followed by back round to the slow pace of plodding ever onwards. So by that token, this entry should be a rip roarer. Sorry, but not a bit of it.

The earliest train there is up to Liverpool is at ten past seven from my nearest station, Gloucester. In my book that's early, but can be considered a lie-in by London standards. However, now that the summer is over, it's mostly dark, and so mostly feels like the middle of the night anyway.

Last week I was at home. On the work front, we're under great pressure to be seen to be out performing the rest of Europe (which of course we are) and that means proving we can do the jobs we've been doing for x number of years (I say X, because it's a bit like revealing one's age, and in my case, it's well into double figures.) This proof, comes in the form of a pile of paperwork that has to be approved by a bunch of managerial types just to say you're not making it up. To be honest, I've been doing this for so long, that half of said managerial types weren't even employed here, so how would they even know?... Regardless, I stayed away from the client site for the week to get the job done and it proved to be a fascinating gaze into my navel replete with successes and failures and all the odd bits and bobs that you'd rather you'd forgotten about, or could barely remember doing in the first place. That's the trouble with this job. No sooner have you finished one deal, than you're off to the next one and what you were just doing is instantly forgotten. It is, bizarre.

In other news.... Daughter bought a new car, and so son bought a new (to him) car while Mrs G and I remain resplendently carless. We seemed to have managed remarkably well so far, although I fear the day is coming when I'll crack and buy either a banger, or something brand new, or hop back into the company car scheme.. Who knows? In reality, if you don't need a car, then why have a car? ...and other people will say "surely you need to go places?" as if you can't travel without a car... Or "How will you ever cope?" but I can tell you, you just do. Living on the edge of a city makes it a lot easier. If we lived out in the countryshire proper, then it would be a different story. I'm pretty sure a car would be an essential, but we have reasonably good transport links, and most things are a short walk away or practically on our doorstep. On that basis, I think I'll keep the insurance and road tax in my pocket for the time being.

Stan and I bumped into our local MP in the pub, and he claimed to know us. This was something I found particularly odd as I'd never met him before in my life. MPs have a thankless job, and I often wonder if it's actually just a pointless job. They don't do themselves any favours more often than not. All too regularly are they caught with their hand in the till (well, the public purse to be more precise) or up to no good with the likes of the baby eating bishop of bath and wells. No wonder nobody ever trusts them. They consistently let themselves down - not forgetting that you can't please all the people all of the time - so they really are onto a looser... I considered getting into a debate with him on the subject of the railway triangle, or the general state of the post office, or some such similar subject, but I thought about it for 30 seconds, and then decided I'd rather have another pint in a different pub than dance around the hooray-henry's... I'm really referring to the company he was keeping than the man himself. Stan and I sought refuge in a proper boozer instead.

Mrs G and I took in a night at the cinema (Gone Girl - 8/10 - gripping, but didn't quite finish in the manner it needs to, although camera work, scene setting and acting, as is always the case with David Fincher works, was more than excellent). We also had a bite to eat in the Coal Bar and Grill, which while being a chain, is a very nice chain at least. I do love a relaxing night out with the boss, and while she generally hates the cinema, even she was gripped by the plot.. Good times.

Claude had a 50th birthday party which was an entertaining Friday night.. All the local gang were there. More good times and ridiculous dancing.

I finally managed to retile the floor of mother-in-laws utility room. That has been on the cards for about two months, but the time has just not been available. Yesterday I set at it with a pace, and had it pretty much finished by 5pm. Bearing in mind it's only about 2 square meters of floor (if that) but it did have the mother of all fiddly bits, down in a corner that you could barely reach. I know I did it because this morning I still can't feel my knees. Finished job looks much better though.

...and with that, the sun is coming up, I have a very challenging next two weeks approaching at some serious rate of knots and then... holidays are coming... and so is Birmingham New Street.

All change....


Monday, October 06, 2014

Hum Drum

Being fed up with getting up at the crack of dawn to ride the train North and only arrive at 11am, I figured this week, I'd mix it up a little and travel up the night before.

The advantages are twofold. A) Extra points for an additional night in a hotel (and we all know that outs make prizes) and B) I'm going to be in the office on time tomorrow morning. However. I haven't even completed the journey, and I know now that this was just a stupid idea.  The disadvantages have become clear. A) One less night in the bosom of my family (obviously) B) The unpredictability of trains later in the day C) Sharing said trains with people that clearly aren't used to having to deal with changes to the planned journey times when the wrong leaves are on the line.  D) Did I mention the unpredictability, thus leading to delays?....

Winter has arrived and with it traffic chaos.  You'd think the northern half of the country had never seen rain before judging by the way the place has gone to hell in a handcart as a result of a hefty downpour - as is the nature of winter.  Cutting to the chase, I sat for 45 minutes in Birmingham New Street waiting for a driver to show up from his delayed service elsewhere in the country. I'm not really moaning though. I suppose it could haVe been worse.

And so to an update on events. The deal progresses much like wading through molasses progresses. The new blood is having a poke and a prod, and it's entirely possible that now some of the larger crops are harvested that we'll get plenty of "assistance" in pushing the wheelbarrow, shaking the tree and loading up the apple cart. It's equally possible that said apple cart will get upset before we get a chance to fill it this season, and it may have to wait until next season. Who knows?  Smaller Bigger brains than mine, no doubt.

I may have mentioned previously but somehow in between this constant flux a few of us alleged lesser beings have been tasked with documenting the fact that we're not lesser beings. For someone who's been doing this job for 12 years or more, this incarnation of it for 4 years and this particular effort for the last 5 months....  I really can't see the point. Somebody must have made a promise. Not only that, but it's a proper pain in the Harris to do, with reams of documentation required. Needless to,say I find it the most uninspiring task and as such am constantly battling with relegating it to the bottom of the queue vs being reminded that it has to be done (because someone promised it - not me by the way).

I managed to get home early last week, which meant a beer with the boys on Thursday and discussion of where to stay during next years golf tour, washed down with sufficient beer, a stagger home - although a relatively early one - and quick stop in Maccy D's on the way.

When the weekend finally hoved into view, It was a blessed relief (Soooo tired this week - sleep in hotels is just not happening and I really hope I get that sorted out before we go off on our holiday - which is an oasis in the dessert of work drudgery. The resting (if you can call it that) readily began with a visit to daughters house to drop off some games that she required for her very grown up dinner party. For a moment however, it sounded like it wouldn't happen when one of the guests called her to say they'd had a bit of a row and might not be coming after all. Perhaps it's not as grown up as I imaged, but then all was laid to rest, forgotten about, they arrived and from all accounts, a good time was had. Meanwhile, Mrs G and I, had daughter number 5 to stay - long story, but as always it's a pleasure to see her, and she's very enjoyable company. With tales of her London adventures and how she's making her way in the world, time flies and fun is had. Son in the meantime was out fighting crime on the streets of Stroud. Tougher than you might think.

Saturday, Daughter 5 and Mrs G took a trip to town. (that's town, not the city as readers of old will recall) Son and I Made a swift trip to a phone shop In the city for him to get a repair quote for the insurance Man on his old Samsung S3...  "itsa nao probleem mayte" the fella with the dodgy moustache said "I can rite yous wan for a fiiver"...   I think not.  £5 to write a quote?...  You're having a giraffe.

Later in the day Daughter number 1 and I Also visited the city with a little list of things that needed sorting out. We did well, and excellent little consumers we both were.  I upgraded the freesat box to a newer and much faster model Humax.  The old one was good, but this one is much much better. The mobile apps for it also finally allow it to catch up with the Sky toolset and so pleased, I am. Daughter is settled. She's saving hard, but things are where she wants them to be, so I'm a happy man.

On Sunday, the lawn got mowed - possibly for the last time this year, so extra short and then daughter 5 cooked a truly fantastic bit of roast chicken with all the trimmings.  So that's at out the sum of it really...   All a bit tedious and mundane and really hardly worth the read...  But read it you did.  You shouldn't worry....  I had to write it.

Monday, September 29, 2014

You'll never guess...

I'm only on the bloody train up to Liverpool again.  It's all starting to get a little too repetitive to be fair. 

At least today, the timings are all different and there is a change in the air.  A change of lead, which will make things very interesting at least for a day or two. I hear good things, so fingers crossed. The immediate impact is that we're to have an internal planning session this afternoon, which means no reason to travel at the crack of dawn, so here I sit on the blessedly-late-in-the-day 9.50. Different bunch of fellow passengers as well. Obviously they are mostly retired and taking advantage of the off-peak rates to get wherever they are going.  If they get disruptive, I'll be sure and let you know.

The rest of last week panned out much as the previous week, with the exception of a change of hotel. Dinner in the Ship and Mitre (a burger and a pint), and a trip to a very strange placed bolted onto the side of a "5-star" hostel. Also burgers. Nothing to yell about, but mostly enjoyable.  A terrible week for sleep though. For some reason I just didn't get a good night at all, and as a result was absolutely shattered by the time I got home on Thursday night. 

I hadn't planned on having a Wednesday/Thursday club beer either, however the lads were keen to try fish and chips from the delectable "Queens" so I was persuaded, although I'm glad it wasn't a particularly late night.  

Friday came and went, I got a haircut (long overdue) and the lawn got mowed so everything got a trim.  Mrs G and I tried to watch the x-factor in the evening, which I'm finding increasingly impossible to do. We caught the return of gogglebox instead though, which really is some genius TV. Highly entertaining to watch people watching TV.  Ridiculous, but much better than you'd imagine it to be. 

Saturday meant the Smithy Open. Always good for a few giggles, a game of golf at the Gloucester country club. The weather is insanely good for this time of year, and so shorts - in Almost October?! - were the order of the day. Didn't help my game though. I think my lack of sleep in the week had basically drained me of the energy needed to get my game going and I pretty much collapsed in heap when I got home after a six mile walk and thrashing about in the brambles. In the evening we did the usual routine of a few places in Cheltenham, but again, my energy was just all gone, so I sloped off early in the vain hope of some recovery.  Great company and banter, which I just couldn't sustain thanks to too much travel. 

Sunday - the day of rest - didn't involve a great deal of rest, but wasn't over taxing. Mrs G got her "tidy" on and I wasn't much use. She is awesome, and I'm sure she doesn't realise how proud I am to call her my better half, and how I actually couldn't cope without her. Luckily we have a proper holiday coming up and I'm certain that like me, she can't wait for a decent break and some time for just us two.  I did manage to make a couple of trips to the tip, to clear some stuff we'd been hoarding, and to make space for next weeks guest (daughter number 2), who is coming to stay for a couple of nights. Also managed to get bike lights sorted, while the boy tweaked gears, and breaks and as daughter put it "He had a little party in the garden with bikes".

The two of them went off for lunch with their sisters. In the evening Mrs G and I treated ourselves to Steak and Chips - something we haven't had for a while.  Interestingly we tried some steak from Lidl...  Now here's a thing... supermarket snobbery.....

Obviously, I should be buying steak from Waitrose, because after all, it's a) posh and b) fantastic tasting steak.  Well it turns out that that is a stupid way to look at the world.  These British steaks from Lidl were both a) a bargain (A fiver) and b) fantastic tasting. You would easily pay 3 or 4 times the price for the same at Waitrose.  Clearly Lidl is the up and coming supermarket with bargains galore. Daughter performed a whole weeks worth of shopping for 25quid, and genuinely NOT rubbish either. I shouldn't be surprised, after all on the continent Lidl and Aldi are the norm in terms of supermarket shopping. It's only us Brits who are stupid enough to think that there are major differences between Sainsburys, Tescos, Asda, Morrisons and Waitrose. The main difference is the price - don't be fooled by the surrounding BS.

Train appears to be stopping rather more often than it should, and regularly not at stations either. I predict a slow and boring journey, so luckily I've downloaded the first two episodes of "Glue" from the fellas at Channel 4.  I'm going to have a crack at that, I'll yet you know what I think.  Oh and on the subject of 4OD, I see they also have "GBH" available to stream, which I will definitely be watching as I loved it back in the 90's when it first appeared. A Political comedy/drama, of the machinations of the insane. A great piece of both writing and acting, my memory tells me it is thoroughly recommended. 

Until next time...  Cheerio. 

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Crowded House....

Just for a change I'm back on the train again. Another early-ish start, In a real "pea-souper", destination Liverpool.  Of course I have to get through Birmingham first, which can be painful, although rather less painful than having to listen to my fellow passenger - a woman whom I helped onto the train with her luggage - only for her to repay me by giving me the story of her journey and all the hell that she envisages it providing her.

The agony she had to endure when she stuck her head out of her front door this morning into the cold. The pain of dragging her luggage into a taxi for the station (she'd normally drive, but there is no fun in it anymore) and the fact that she has to pay upfront and claim it back from her company (You know, it's a hundred quid for a train and a over night stop!). I almost feel sorry for her until she announces she's going to Ashchurch (12 miles away!!) for a course...  O, M and might I venture, G!
I got heads down into writing this, just to try and keep her quite for the next 10 minutes.

For me, there's a change of hotel this week, brought about by the lack of availability in any of the usual haunts. Last week was the Indigo Hotel on Chapel street - which I might add is actually not at all bad and very reasonably priced for a "Nuevo-Boutique" style kind of place. It's in an easy location - although not that easy for the client site I'm visiting - and features all the mod-cons you'd expect. Liverpool hotels are pretty friendly places compared to London one's, and significantly cheaper, but other than that - you could be anywhere really.

Post Scottish referendum, and all hell has been let loose - which is nothing like as bad as if the vote had been a "Yes". The country was never going to be the same anyway, but now the knives are out and I predict a complete collapse of the coalition shortly before next years General Election. The population at large have completely fallen out of love (as if they were ever in it) with politics and the politicians of Westminster as evidenced by low turnouts and apocalyptic nightmares of leaving the union. While trying to maintain the status quo of a system that has become ever more complex, they're failing to innovate or advance the country in any meaningful way. I'm not saying it's easy, but I am saying that given the resources at their disposal, they're making a bit of a hash of it, all in the name of getting a knighthood - or some other such title - and a book deal.

The weekend flew by again. Friday night saw son and daughter reunited for a weight watchers curry - much much better than it sounds - and I sat and heard the inevitable chatter of the delights of car insurance. It's special to live with three people working in the same industry that you don't. Sometimes, I catch myself actually listening. other than that, it was a delight to have them all under one roof for a bit and good to see them doing well with their lot.  Daughter is steadily getting promoted, and Is comfortable with her fella - a nice chap and stupidly tall.

He spent a few days last week in Germany and was supposed to be home on Saturday but the Germans being part of the EU, means that somehow or other Lufthansa's pilots needed to go on strike and cause him a flight cancellation and an extra night on the continent. This resulted in daughter having to get up at the crack of dawn on Sunday to go and get him from Heathrow. All is well that ends well though, and luckily they both had Monday off anyway.

Now he's back from his travels, Son has walked straight back into his old job - easily it seems - and  he's re-joined the Specials...  In the longer term (ie about 12 months) I wouldn't be at all surprised to see him join the regular police force and finally get a proper job. His step-grandfather will be proud. Time will tell..

And on the subject of his step grand-father, both he and his step grand-mother are touring the outer reaches of Scotland busily spending my sister and my inheritance. So far, they've managed to send a postcard South of the border, and managed a phone call before switching their mobile phones off again so they are completely uncontactable, should an emergency arise. What is it with parents and mobile phones?  They use them on their own terms I suppose, and you can't really say fairer than that. I asked what they'd seen of the referendum crowds and Mother said "not much really, although where we stayed was a bit Yessey."...  The mind boggles.

They appear to be having a marvellous time, and I can't help but be a little jealous of their lot. Settled and seeing the world without having to slog anymore - sounds like a retirement made in heaven to me.  One day.  In the meantime. All change at Brum and onwards to the Pool.
At least it's not raining yet.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Message reads....

Wednesday... half way through a tough old week, but nothing new there. Last night (Tuesday) involved a bite to eat in Jamie's Italian - which to be honest, is exactly the same in Liverpool as it is in every other town or city that there is one. It's perfectly good food, if a little overpriced and I easily hit my expenses budget with just a main course and two beers. the hunt continues for the perfect work related dining experience.

 After dinner, I trotted across town to meet up with an Architect and a Transition exec for a quick beer - and ended up in a gem of pub called the "Ship and Mitre". Very friendly bunch and a vast menu of beverages to choose from. Still maintains that "spit and sawdust" feel and seems to be a place that time has mostly passed by, but still manages to attract anyone who's interest in a large selection of interesting (and tasty) beers and largers. A couple of pints and a stagger back to my hotel ready to be up at the crack of dawn in preparation for a client session - what can possibly go wrong ?

Most interesting today however - at least to me - is the imminent release of iOS8, which I've been playing with in it's beta incarnations and have been enjoying greatly. It'll be good to see a final version and make the most of app-continuation across devices - which is one of a whole host of improvements to look forward to. The Fandroid's will of course say that they've had this feature or that feature for ever - but I'm so done with that conversation that I've learned to ignore it now and get on with doing productive stuff instead. Of course you could say, that just mentioning that fact here is in a way "getting involved" in the argument, but all I can say to that is "pah! Whatever"

While we're talking Apple for a minute - the iPhone6, 6 Plus and Apple watch... at least two of those things are on my shopping list, but it's all about timing. If the 6 hadn't sold out already, I might be placing an order for it. As it stands, I'll hang on a bit I think. However, with regards to the Apple watch - having had a Pebble for a while now - I can honestly say I'm a convert to the smart watch and will be as close to the front of the queue as I can get for this particular piece of tech. Message ends.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

My own private Idaho....

Uncomfortable.  That's how I'm feeling today.
It's an early start on the way up to Liverpool, on a "cross country" train and it's not that bad a ride.  It's actually vastly better that "First-and-not-so-Great-as-in-bloody-awful-Western" into London. It features a little more leg room that FGW, but that's about the extent of the improvements.

Some of them have wifi although this one doesn't and I'm not upset about that for a change. I'm not really in the mood to be online so far today. Mostly because I'm sick to death of hearing the name Alex-dickhead-Salmond. (well there's nothing quite like putting your cards on the table up front).

Thursday's referendum has the potential to destroy a union that has been a bedrock for growth of our land over the past 300 years - and that is undeniable. As much as there has been plenty of banter (or bant's - to use the lingo of the kids) about the English hate the Scots and the Scots hate the English, as far as I'm aware, it's always been just that - banter - and not something to be taken seriously. As an Englishman I love he scots, they are a great example of the diversity of our nation - and I will truly be heartbroken should the unthinkable happen on Thursday and they take the banter way beyond ever being funny.

Try to understand it from an American perspective - it would be like Idaho suddenly deciding it no longer wants to be part of he United States, but in fact wants to be its own country with its own government and all that that entails...  Not a part of the Federal system in any way. It's almost unimaginable, and yet here we sit on the edge of a precipice in which that exact scenario - albeit on the western edge of Europe - may well be played out.

If we take this to logical extremes, then why not everywhere?....  yes yes... I might be onto something here....  I think I'll hold a referendum and ask the people of my household if they would like to leave the United Kingdom (such as it is) and become its own nation.  "Should my house become an independent nation?"

Right so the votes have been cast, and it's a 50/50 split between me and the wife...  However. Son has returned from his round the world travels and is living here, so (just like in Scotland) he gets the right to have a vote - imagine he's a Pole, or German, or from any other part of the EU and is living here while working part time in a bar, or as a brick layer or some such....  unlike daughter, who having lived here most of her life, has moved "South of the border" to her own household, so sadly no longer has a say....  That doesn't sound very fair does it ? - however thats how the scotchies are playing it. Oh and apparently the cats might even get a go too! ( )

So he gets the casting vote...  And it's a YES...   Oops..  what have we done?

Well, first things first - removal from the Union. Where do I start?   Guess I need to secure my borders - otherwise all those people in Calais who are trying to enter England (ie anywhere outside of my house) might tunnel up under the floors and out through my front door. This sounds expensive. And I'll need passports. Oh - but apparently only for me - the wife doesn't want one because her English passport works just fine and she's thinking of moving because she's fed up of having her bag searched every time she pops out to work..   Waste of money having had it printed now..

I've got this piggy bank though, which has got most of our savings in it.  Unfortunately it's a shared piggy bank now, because I made some bad choices a few years ago, I had to let the Unionist government manage it for a while, and now they've got it working again they're saying I can have it back as long as I pay the going rate for it....  I've asked the wife and she says she'll pay a bit every month, but she's not happy about it.... As a result we'll have our own piggy bank again, and I might try and persuade some of he neighbours to save some pennies in it, but they're not keen at the moment..  They say my financial skills cant be trusted after the last debacle. Hmmm, they might have a point.

And of course work is a problem....  I'm alright, I can work from home - much like a Scottish banker - and we can occasionally have guests round to look at the "lovely tapestries" we have hanging in the hall, and buy a postcard in the "gift shop". Unfortunately though - every single penny has to go into the tax coffers. I have to import almost everything. Tuition fees (something that was previously provided via free view) are through the roof as apparently it costs more to make programs on the telly specifically for me and in fact the BBC are suggesting they may not broadcast to my house unless I keep paying the TV licence (something I  was hoping to avoid having left the Union). The postman says unless I pay more he's not prepared  to climb the stairs around the outer battlements more than once a week. None of my previous (local) retailers want to set up shop in my country - too expensive they say - and I'd charge them too much tax they say.

Thank God for my underground petrol tank which enables me to sell fuel to the neighbours far cheaper than they can get it at their English petrol station. Although I'm not sure how I'm going to refill it once it's empty...... On top of that, son has been spending what little pocket money I've been able to give him, on incredibly cheap booze from the bloke next door and is spending most of his time in a drunken stupor - and he's still wearing that "Vote Yes" t-shirt... That's not much help. If only he had a job.

But it's a different story for the wife. She has to cross the border to work in England and while she might earn more over there (and pay less tax) she's less than amused at having to then pay a chunk of her salary to me to help feed us and fund my parliament, which she says is unnecessary and she tells me that I'm also not very good at managing the medicine cabinet. Whenever she wants some new headache tablets, I have to buy them in at great expense which ultimately means that she ends up paying for them.....  I can't help it. It's only me and her with the income. She's got a point that it was easier when the costs were shared with the old union.

Clearly I've made a mistake in being both the king and prime minister of my own private Idaho - let's call it "Home".  I think I'll go back to the way it was.....  whats that?  I can't?  But, surely it's just a case of changing it back again?  The constitutions been rewritten?  Oh bugger.....  Perhaps I'll move to England.

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Scottish Independence and what a really rubbish idea it is for all involved….

....not least because they can’t afford it without raising significant Taxes.

Finally, something has stirred me enough to bother to write something here. I know I've been away for a long time, but I've dusted down the old keybaord, dug out the password and swept up the cobwebs...  and look!! it's still here.....

To the subject.  Scotland - which is a place I love - and politicians - who are people I...erm... don't.

Here's my observations. If Scotland becomes an independent state…

Passports and Citizenship
If your resident in Scotland at the time of independence - you’d become a Scottish citizen and therefore be eligible for a Scottish passport - and possibly a British one as well.
If you live in Britain but were born in Scotland, you’d also be eligible for a Scottish passport.
You would be expected to apply for a Scottish passport when your British passport is due for renewal.
If you voted No - you might not even bother getting one.
So that sounds like a bunch of money the Scottish parliament will have to spend on a system that half the population won’t want to use.

Banking / Finance
Taxation - Corporation Tax
Companies suggesting they will move out and Corporation tax would be payed to Britain
The banks that have lost out during the crash are still owned by British Government
Biggest worry for the banks is someone to back them in the event of a crash - something that once again, the Scottish parliament will have to find the money to do.  Two of the major banks are mostly owned by the british government as well - so for them to become Scottish, the Scottish government would have to buy back their shares….  Mr Salmond says the banks are scaremongering…  but it still requires yet more money.

Currency Union
UK Government will not allow a full currency Union with the BoE in charge
Scotland could use the pound without the consent of the Bank of England, which would mean no support from the BoE to bail-out Scottish institutions. Big risks involved here. especially as there are currency stability rules as a pre-cursor to membership of the EU.
Scottish Currency would potentially still be legal tender, but not sure how any licensing to print currency to be used as legal tender in Britain would work in a foreign state.

Health Service
The NHS spending is driven by decisions from the British Parliament
Scotland would need to build up larger reserves to maintain the level of spending the British government currently do, because they have currently not increased spending over the last 5 years (unlike Britain throughout the period of austerity). The Institute for Fiscal Studies says an independent Scotland would probably have to spend less on the NHS than if it remained in the UK. So that’s a cut - unless they can raise… you guessed it - yet more money.

Royal Mail
Scottish Government would want to maintain the same service as today, but in reality the two operations would be separated, and this would involve yet another deal between the two parliaments. Such transformations are not cheap…  I think there’s a pattern here.  

Corporate domicile (the brass plaque) would move for Taxation reasons, not the jobs
Both John Lewis and ASDA have said their prices in Scotland will have to increase and Tesco will (along with the big name banks) move their banking HQ’s into England.  This has been roundly rejected by John Swinney - The Scottish Finance minister.
Asda has 61 stores and depots in Scotland and employs 22,000 people.
Asda’s Director, Mr Clarke said he accepts the vote is a matter for the Scottish people but added that he would be "ducking his responsibility" if he did not offer an "honest assessment" of what independence could mean for his company.
"It will be no surprise to voters that if Scotland votes for independence, it would be imperative to establish a separate Scottish business," he said,
"Currently, our systems are set up for one single UK market, we use the same currency and we operate under the same rates of VAT. By operating in a market serving 63 million customers we achieve major efficiencies and economies of scale.
"If we were no longer to operate in one state with one market and - broadly - one set of rules, our business model would inevitably become more complex. We would have to reflect our cost to operate here."
Mr Clark added: "This is not an argument for or against independence, it is simply an honest recognition of the costs that change could bring.”

No extradition treaty, should be straight forward assuming that an Independent Scotland can become part of the EU. Separate jurisdictions will of course provide cover for criminals on either side of the border, and policing the border itself is going to cost yet more money…

So basically it’s prohibitively expensive - especially given that we’re emerging from a recession.
Of course Britain could benefit finically quite well in the short term - as Scotland will have to dig deep to pay for a lot of the effort required. But ultimately it’s a fool’s errand.

I don’t even get a vote - but if I did…  well you can work that out for yourself.
I see a repeat of the Darien Disaster in the future.... (google it if you have to ask)  and that's what got them here in the first place. 

If you want a vote - have one here:

Should Scotland be an Independent Country?

Should Scotland be an Independent Country?

Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Time passes.... and then....

Time passes, and then....


Apologies dear reader. Totally unacceptable of me to leave you here on your own with nothing to read. That said, I know you've been reading "other stuff". Apparently there's a whole Internetz full of (sh)it out there.....


Anyway. I'm still about. And I feel like I'm nearing a point where I can get my head above water just long enough to pen something banal and useless that you can ignore and move on from without any guilt. Let me see if I can summarise the last (almost) 6 months and then w can both get busy living again.


Where did we get to? December was full of Christmassy stuff and was supposed to be the end of the deal I was working. When I opened up my favourite writing tool to pen this entry, here is what I found unpublished:


"New Year, New Deal

(Rage On)

If only. Due to the fact that last years "fun" piece of work involved a complete bunch of numpties (I'm not mentioning any names) we're still here and once again I find myself back on the train to London to give them all the further benefit of my wisdom having spent half of my birthday weekend slaving over a moderately warm laptop (which incidentally is a pile of crap as hardware goes)

(Rage Off)

With that out of the way, let's recap on how we've arrived at the 14th of January and what's happened since the middle of December...

It's become apparent that my Blogging is being reduced to train journeys - something I'm not very happy about to be honest - but it's a direct result of the deal I've been working on since September/October last year. Why on earth the Badman didn't do the right thing and just kill it stone dead in the first place I'll never know - and worse yet, he left it for me to pick up - the git. Still, I rest safe in the knowledge that he's having a chuckle about it at least, The hours have been ridiculous, but the overtime has been a welcome addition - just not something I want to get used to. And so to Christmas.....

I worked the run up to the season from home which was a great pleasure and to be honest completely necessary - having had no time to do anything like preparation for it. However I used this time wisely and the appropriate gifts were acquired from various parts of the world and amassed in differing wrappings under the tree ready for the big day.

We had almost all the parents round for the day itself along with daughter and short boyfriend. A short word from Son, although his connectivity has been up and down a bit of late he did manage to hold a conversation via Skype from Oz and pleased, we were, to see him. His news is less pleasing but only because he's decided he's met a girl he wants to spend some time with in Cambodia and that means postponing the rest of s trip. A worry. That we hope doesn't become a disappointment. After all, he's saved hard and planned well to see the rest of the world (well America etc) and it would be a shame to miss it for the sake of a girl he's known for five minutes. Still, I can't really talk - and as we all know - all too often, the heart can rule the head - so let's hope things work out the way he would like them to with no regrets.

He asked for his laptop to be shipped over to him - which I have done - and just for future reference be warned about the costs involved here. Admittedly it was insured for £1500 but I found myself shelling out £120 for the privilege. He was gracious enough to offer to chip in, so I suggested 50quid. We also arrange a kindle to arrive at a pre-agreed location for him, which he knew nothing about - so at least he had some sort of Christmas - all be it, not the norm.

Daughter on the other hand, is more settled and the short boyfriend has officially moved in. He's trying to bloke-ify her princess palace, but it's an uphill struggle for him. She has however, allowed a dartboard - which is a source of good entertainment as so far, she's beaten him at his own game.

She was terribly ill back in October when we were on holiday with them (and the Scottish contingent) and Gawd bless him,he gave up most of his holiday to look after her. I was eternally grateful to him, and proud of her choice of bf to be honest. Clearly a good egg. To this end I got him (and daughter) a pair of tickets to go and see his football team play up in that Manchester place. She's no fan of footy but by adding in a night in a hotel and a bit of dinner, she was able to spend Sunday dragging him round the shops, so they both got to enjoy themselves. All good stuff and well earned.

Far too much of everything was consumed and a good time was generally had by all. I was back at work over the period, but things were thankfully quiet and New Year was just around the corner. No plan for the eve, so Mrs G and I made the most of doing nothing for a change and had a nice spot of dinner with a couple of bottles of fizz, but not too much...And so the New Year had arrived and various parts of the world had been it touch to wish us a good one as it was ushered in.

This year we had tickets for the New Years Day races at Cheltenham so I was more than a little annoyed to wake up on New Years Day with a throat that felt like it had a broken bottle wedged in it (probably the fizz) and the sound of the relentless rain rattling at the windows. To be honest, I was hoping that the organisers were going to call it off and I could stay I bed and get my money back, but not a bit of it. They were determined, and so we had to be too.

Mrs G and I dragged ourselves to it, and caught the train for a change. Actually apart from the pishing rain (first time I can remember a New Years Day so wet) it was great and we thoroughly enjoyed it, not least because we had a string of winners which paid for the day out. We got away reasonably early and didn't bother heading into town to celebrate - rather heading home for warm comforts instead.

Back at work the following day and the grindstone doesn't seem to give up. This year, a lot of people I know seem to be trying to do the "give up something for January" thing as part of their New Years resolutions. Personally I hold little truck with that stuff, because it's not really resolutions, it's more a todo list fort he first two weeks of the month that generally gets ignored by the second two weeks of January. Not only that, but January is a tough month for me to give anything up, due to the fact I have a birthday in the beginning of it too. I blame the parents.

All the same, it's just long enough after Christmas for people to be interested in having a night out, so it generally works out quite well and this year was no exception. "


....and that's the last thing I wrote.


Clearly the pain of that deal was getting to me, and on reflection it was nothing to do with the deal itself - just the way it was running.... Regardless, we got it over line safely and in the bag for the sake of everyone involved. In the end, a good one - I won't be helping on there again though, thanks very much for offering......


Now normally, there would be an interim rest and relaxation before getting involved with anything quite that painful and I was looking forward to a couple of weeks "Working at home" catching up with all the administrative stuff and proverbially catching my breath but this time - not a bit of it. It's my own faultI never should have put my hand up, but I was looking for a sharp exit from the previous piece and so I found myself dropped into something big and complex. Big doesn't really do it any justice - I'll leave it at that for now.


And here we are in the back end of April, fast approaching May, still well and truly in the running and generally moving at a pace. I've worked far too many long hours and even a couple of weekends (unheard of usually) but needs must and I'm enjoying working with the people involved. Where it will end up, I have no idea - but it "feels" good so far - apart from the tiredness of course.


Away from work, we've been equally busy. Mrs G and I managed a "mini break" to Bristol - which even though it's on our doorstep, is still a beautiful city if you know where to look. Particularly spectacular breakfast within a few hundred yards of Clifton suspension bridge.


There's been floods, golf, exercise and dieting (I've lost a stone and half since my birthday), a an Avegant Glyph demo (google it), delayed trains, The Selecter (in concert, complete with "Missing Words"), the anniversary of Aud, and we even managed to crowbar a week away in the middle of it all. Mrs G and I sat in the sun (well, I slept) in the Canary Islands for a few days. I've also ripped out the carpets and fitted a new wooden floor - some thing that's been on the cards for a while, and I'm about to re-tile the kitchen floor as well (so that's all good) - We've had daughters birthday - which involved a day trip to France, more golf, some Black Rat, a pebble watch, an appearance in the credits of a motion picture and a walk in memory of the recently departed.


To be honest, if you asked me when I found the time to do all this, I'm not sure I could tell you. Of course, now - I'm on a train for a change, and heading back down that Laandan for three days of "having a good guess". Chaos will ensue as per, as there a tube strike and complete dearth of hotels - but I love a challenge.


I'm going to try really really hard to write something on Friday as well - or even in between if I get the time but based on recent experiences, that's all a bit unlikely.



Where is Golfyball?


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