Tuesday 11 June 2013

I can't think of a title for this one

On the one hand there's a tremendous naivety about the furore caused by the US (and UK) governments looking through everyone's personal data...after all they can only do that because we hand it over willy nilly to any old company that wants it, so why shouldn't the government take a sneak peek.  I suspect in most cases it's so tedious that all those James Bonds stuck in GCHQ are permanently asleep.  Incidentally, a friend of mine who lives in Cheltenham told me that parties there can be incredibly boring...you can never meet someone and as an opening gambit say "what do you do for a living?", because the chance are the reply will be "I'm a civil servant"...in other words they work at GCHQ and can't/won't talk about their job. Or perhaps talking about your job is boring anyway.

I see Thames Water is the next company to be nailed for not paying corporation tax.  They reason is that they have 'deferred' on the basis that they are investing in the infra structure.  In fact, I saw that they'd deferred to the tune of £1 billion.  It sits on their balance sheet.  OMFG (one for you Steve), every year I try and defer my tax to the tune of a few hundred quid, and the Inland Revenue go ape.  Perhaps this year, I'll explain that I'm deferring because the plumbing needs fixing....

I don't have much time for Thames Water.  In our last office, I merrily paid my annual water bill for half a dozen years before I spotted that in fact our water was part of the building service charge.  There was a common water supply for the building and the cost was paid by the landlord with the bill divided between the tenants.  When  I contacted Thames Water they promised to look into it...and over several months didn't.  I stopped paying them...obviously.  They started sending me threatening letters, ignoring the fact that I shouldn't be paying them and kept telling them that.  Eventually they started legal proceedings...I was tempted to let them go through with it, but ended up referring them to OFWAT...who managed to persuade them of their stupidity...a few weeks alter an engineer came round, confirmed we shouldn't be paying water rates.  It took a little longer to get my money back.  Anyway, another battle won.

I see it's all hotted up in Istanbul, with riot police ripping through the protesters in Taksim Square.  It would be easy to look at the actions of the authorities there, and pass judgement, but I hesitate.  You may remember Brian Haw...the peace protester who devoted a decade of his life to camping out in Parliament Square.  Yes, our police didn't use tear gas to move him on but our 'democratically elected' leaders saw fit to pass the Serious Crime and Police Act of 2005 in attempt to remove him.  I'm glad they failed, because it doesn't feel that in a 'free' country politicians should behave like that.

The Boy is relaxing without too many cares about him.  The Cat has another couple of weeks before she can do likewise.  What a truly fabulous time to have...I suspect they won't appreciate it as much as they should...it's only when you get old and croaky like me, that you realise how precious time without responsibility can be.

We're trying without too much luck to sort out car insurance for The Boy.  He passed his test a little while ago, but hasn't been able to drive since.  We all know how hideously expensive it is for young people, so that's a challenge in itself, but what is making it worse is that he will be away for most of July, and a good deal of August, and if he is lucky will be off for a ski season starting in November as an instructor.  So what we need is short-term or pay as you go insurance, and I'm truly struggling to find anything at all.  If any one has any suggestions, they would be more than gratefully received.  My own car insurance provided a little gem yesterday - the renewal cost was quoted as £600, and I thought I ought to check out if there was anything cheaper on compare the meerkat.  Indeed there was...the same insurance from the same insurance company for just £270.  Who ever said insurance is a con?