Tuesday 24 January 2012


Opposite the office we have a new White Cube gallery.  If you don't know White Cube, it's the spiritual home of the new wave BritArt.  The first one opened in trendy Hoxton Square and almost single-handedly made the whole area the trendiest place in London.  Not bad considering that before, you'd get mugged/raped/throat slit if you took a wrong turn.  That's only a mild exaggeration.  The Gallery is splendid - it was an ugly storage depot, and with a few deft strokes by the builders it looks more than passable.  I mentioned before that I've been in it, and there's a terminal case of Emperors clothes.  Thank heavens they're hoping to open a bar so you can stagger around, hardly noticing that there's nothing to look at.  Anyway, it'll do the area good, so I'm not moaning.  What I am moaning about though is that there are half a dozen cycle racks on the pavement outside the gallery which have been there for years.  And very useful they are too.  Clearly having cycles outside a trendy gallery is an aesthetic nightmare for the owners, and (I'm only speculating here) they appear to have prevailed on the Council to have them removed.  That's a bit shitty if you ask me.

I'm interested to see that the Government's attempts to 'cap' benefits has been blocked by LibDem peers and Bishops.  Now for me this is interesting.  The cap is £26,000.  If that's a familiar figure to you, it's because that is the UK's average wage.  So that means there are millions of people who earn less than that.  I may be over-simplifying it, but if the Government wants to encourage people to get a job shouldn't the benefit cap be way below he national average?  I think so.  An average wage implies you can afford some of the nice things in life...but why would you work if you can get those without work.  I may be turning into Mr Grumpy here.  Please let me know.

At the other end of the scale I see Vince Cable has set out plans for giving shareholders the say in how much company Directors are remunerated.  Well it's a step I suppose, but not really much of one is it.  As share values have gone Chief Executives salaries have gone up and we're all right to feel pretty aggrieved about that.  But shareholders are, in general, not you and I.  They are enormous pension funds, wealthy investors and the like, none of whom represent the people whose jobs and wages are being squeezed whilst the Fat Cats get fatter.  Strangely, it seems the politicians have vetoed the idea of including workers representatives in the remuneration committees of major companies.  By contrast, in Germany, this is how it is.  And look how their economy has performed whilst ours has coughed and wheezed.  Of course history says that there is a different economic and social mind set...ours is management vs workers, and theirs is management and workers together.  That's not to say Germany has had it all its own way, but at a time when we need a radical change in this country, it might be better for us to look in that direction, rather than across the Atlantic for inspiration.

Back on two wheels, I was frustrated yesterday that the front lamp on my bicycle has stopped working.  It was new in August.   There it was flashing away when I arrived at the office yesterday morning, and dead as a Dodo in the evening.  It's not the battery, and of course, I don't have the receipt to take it back.  It's a familiar moan...bike lights seem to last no more than six months...I suspect the makers are on to a good wheeze.  It's certainly one that costs me a fortune.  Anyway, I wasn't completely caught out and left to cycle the 17 miles home in the dark - Santa had brought me a pair of lights that go in the handles of racing bikes giving a rad glow facing backwards and white light forwards; if I press the button they will flash orange as a turn indicator too - brilliant.  Let's hope they last beyond June!