Wednesday 24 October 2012

A chorus of disapproval

It's hardly surprising to learn that Starbucks is avoiding paying tax in the UK

On a serious note, this is a corporation that has invested a good deal of money in corporate communications to prove that it is an ethical business.  It pays farmers a fair sum for their efforts and has a strong CSR (corporate social responsibility) policy.  But really it's just corporate wank isn't it?

The same is true of Facebook, which also pays significantly less tax than you or I would expect.  And E-Bay too.  And Google.  You may see a pattern here.

Just because a company is meeting its legal obligations doesn't mean it is meeting its moral obligations.  I'm guessing that Starbucks needs a road infrastructure to support its business success, so at that simple level, it is free-riding.  Hopefully these multinationals, and the others that use clever accountants and lawyers to push their money, will be shamed into 'doing the right thing'.  But I doubt it - look at the experience of the banks and other financial institutions who continue their arrogant strutting oblivious to the misery they've caused through their greed. I hope to hear a chorus of disapproval

It was one of those challenging days yesterday...funny how that happens.

The final straw was to read Bloggertropolis and find that Steve has decided to stop.  All the bloggers I read are very dear to me, and every day I look forward to seeing what they have put their mind to....they feel like part of the family.  Bloggertropolis was one of the first that I started to read, and I've always felt that Steve has such a wonderful talent that it's a crying shame he doesn't have a column in a newspaper...his writing is clever, witty and he deserves a wider audience.

Of course Steve's not the first to go, and he won't be the last...I know some of my dearer blogger friends are wavering even as I type this, so in a way it's just something you get used to...and it provides the opportunity to go and find other daily reads, but it does leave a small hole in your day...well my day.  So to all those bloggers that have put there pen down over the years...thanks for all the words that added to my life.

Steve...good luck - it's been a pleasure.

I was somewhat duped buying a remote control for my camera this week from Amazon.  The picture on the website was of an original, the product that arrived was a Chinese copy.  Foolishly I should have twigged that when I couldn't get the thing from Sony, and the one through Amazon was immediately available and cheap, there was something not quite right.  The picture on the box shows a Sony remote, the device itself is branded differently.  It works, and that's the main thing, but really I disapprove of those far eastern fakes...and if it survives our holiday next week, it will have done its job.  Still I do believe that Amazon should take full responsibility and shouldn't be encouraging the fake trade.

I've written before about suddenly finding out about things that at any age you can some how learn things that you should have known for years.  In this case, I turned left out of Leicester Square tube and then first left again...the route I knew I had to take.  Except I found myself in the middle of China Town.  And that wasn't where I'd expected to find it...somehow in spite of all my years in London, I had never, ever been to this part of China Town.  I was totally and completely confused.  I turned to the maps on my mobile, but couldn't accept what I saw, so wandered around for quite a while.  I nearly called The Cat's Mother to come and rescue me I was so confused.  Eventually I found my common sense, looked again at the maps and followed the route to my destination....but not without a very high degree of bemusement as I studied all the Chinese shops, restaurants and decorations around me.  How very strange indeed that I had never been down this road before given how much of my social life has been spent in and around the West End.

We walked out of a play last night...for me that was a first.  This wasn't an amateur production in the local was A Chorus of Disapproval starring the normally excellent Rob Brydon.  The play was written by Alan Ayckborn in the early eighties and it hasn't aged well...did anyone really care about the goings on of a regional amateur operatic society even then?  I doubt it.  It would have helped if we'd been familiar with The Beggar's Opera as the characters in the one reflect the characters in the other, but really in Chorus the characters were just cardboard cut-outs - the tart with the heart, the rather over-Welsh Welshman, the loud, brash Yorkshireman, the feckless husband and so on.  The acting was wooden.  The four grown-ups couldn't get out of the theatre quickly enough, as we headed to the bar at half-time we were as one in our chorus of disapproval.  The two teenage girls braved it until the end.  So that's an education for them, and a reminder to us to appreciate a good play when we next see one.

Tuesday 23 October 2012


I think The Boy must be reading my mind (I doubt he's reading the blog)...because yesterday afternoon he rang me from Snowdonia, just before they start off with their trek.  He didn't want anything other to say hello and let me know what he's been doing for the last couple of days.  He's never done that before...I danced around the office in delight.  I wished him luck.

It's rare indeed to go to a gig and not hear the band you were there to see.

But that's how it was last night.

We were in Camden - if you've never had the chance to go there, I'd recommend spending a little time exploring, because its a place as alien as the surface of Mars....especially when it's foggy like it was last night.   There is an over-abundance of street-food stalls, and boot shops and you can smell the 'alternative culture' the moment you leave the tube station.  It's young, vibrant, colourful and positively terrifying for anyone over the age of 25.  I love small doses.

We pitched up with some friends at the Roundhouse to see the 25th Anniversary tour of Deacon Blue.  Now I realise that they're not the trendiest of bands, but they do churn out a great pop tune and I've been a follower for just about all those twenty-five years, having seen them first in Brighton when I was still young and confident of conquering the world.  I even dragged poor Auntie Gwen along to see them when they decided to just be the husband and wife team of McIntosh and Ross.  I should have learnt my lesson because it was a comedy of errors as I wrote here

As the gig started I realised all was not right.  Everyone carried on talking.  So loud it was almost impossible to hear the music.  It wasn't that it was a bad show. Indeed people were really enjoying themselves.  But during the less familiar songs they carried on with their daily conversations.  Odd.  Really odd.  And then when the 'greatest hits' were sung, I still didn't get to hear the band, because everyone knew the words and sang along .  Loudly, returning to their conversations in between the hits.  Bizarre.  Poor Ricky Ross, totally ignored when he told his little stories as he is want to do before starting to sing.

I think they're probably as good as they've always been.  So in case you've forgotten what they sound like, try this...with a bit of Dignity this time

And suitably, The Cat's Mother's favourite

Monday 22 October 2012

Why do they all come along at the same time?

It was a fine bottle of red wine I drank on Saturday night.  I know it was fine because I spent most of  Sunday in the bathroom.  I hadn't meant to have so much of it, but The Cat's Mother ducked out after less than a glass, leaving me with the onerous task of finishing it off.  "Use the Vacu-vin" I hear you say, but alas that wasn't possible because I'd had to decant it:  when I'd gone to open it, the cork had crumbled.  Not surprising really, because the wine was a 39 year old Barolo.  It had been bought for me by a friend for my 40th birthday, and had sat waiting for a 'special occasion' for too many years.  A couple of weeks ago we decided it just had to be drunk.  So Saturday night it was opened.  Even decanted it was cloudy, and the sediment at the bottom of the bottle could have been used to re-surface the road.  It may have been past its best.  But, surprisingly, it was delicious.Unfortunately by the time we started drinking - whilst watching The Thick Of  It - The Cat's Mother was sleepy, so I just had to do my duty...I believe it is illegal to waste wine isn't it?

After a famine of films this year...I think the last one we saw was Prometheus, and that's already out on DVD, there seems to be a glut to be watched.  Amongst those I include:


 Beasts of the Southern Wild


Rust and Bone

and, of course, Skyfall.

One that wasn't on my list was Taken 2 which The Boy and I went to see last week.  It's a nonsense film follow up to Taken (oh how did they come up with the follow up title) starring Liam Neeson.  This time it's set in Istanbul and there's lots of chasing round narrow streets and over you get to see the best of a very beautiful city.  As for those dastardly Albanians....We thoroughly enjoyed's one of those 'don't think too hard' films that delivers a lot of action for your money.  There's always a place for films like that....but it'll never win any award.

It was certainly a good bonding movie just before The Boy set off to Snowdonia to do his Gold DofE.  The weather forecast says it's a lot nicer then than it is here...which is good, because hiking up and down those mountains is hard enough when the weather is good, let alone when its raining cats and dogs.  Oddly I miss him more than usual...I'm sure all will be well...but I am becoming acutely conscious that I can tangibly measure the weeks until he leaves home.

The afternoon before the bottle of wine incident, The Cat's Mother and I went off to see Ruby Sparks.  This is a truly wonderful film about what happens when an author writes about a girl, and she comes alive and all the challenges that come with that.  I will say no more, other than really it's a lovely film which really quite un-American, but maybe a little Woody Allen.  We've not stopped talking about it since, and are quite tempted to go and see it again