Thursday 12 December 2013


I've been a foolish, foolish boy (not for the first time I hear Grandma in Cyprus exclaim).  The headphone socket on my mobile stopped working.  As I'm addicted to listening to music whenever I'm travelling, I handed it over to be repaired straight away.  Stored on it are passwords, usernames, pin numbers and everything else any criminal might want to steal my identity and plunder everything I have.  I didn't think about it, and I'm not suggesting that anyone at the shop might be mischievous, but who know what might happen?  It's this sort of thoughtlessness that gives the criminally inclined the opportunity they need.  As they said on Dad's Army 'Stupid Boy'.

Whilst the ruling elite were celebrating the life of 'A giant of History', and David Cameron was having a selfie with a tasty Scandinavian blonde, we were also celebritied up on Wednesday.  Obviously it was a celebration of Mandela's achievements, but it was quite Hogmanay was it? Mind you, Cameron is the man who suggested that next year we will be able to mark 100 years since the outbreak of World War 1, and the celebrations will bring us together as a nation like the 2012 Olympics did.  I'd like to say a few words about Mandela, but I doubt I could usefully add anything to the eulogising that has gone on already.  My only hope is that his global legacy is as powerful and long lasting as it should be.

UP was visited by Her Maj, and managed to get the back of his head in the Daily Mail.  Truth is, as it's the Daily Mail, it's probably a good thing that it is the back of his head.  She was opening the new Barnardo's HQ with her daughter-in-law. UP had hoped to pop round the corner to have a quick fag with Camilla, but evidently she didn't have a spare ciggie on her.  Here, courtesy of PA and the the Daily Mail is the picture - yes Queenie does appear to be smiling at him...

Meanwhile The Cat's Mother and I went to the launch of Jonathan Meade's new publication...not a book, but a box of postcards with suitably incoherent captions called Pidgin Snaps.  I'd got involved because it's being published by Unbound which is a publishing house that raises money by asking supporters to contribute to the cost of publishing.  It's a modern spin on an old tradition evidently.  In return for your donation, you get a copy of the publication and a range of benefits.  One of which was to attend the launch party.  Now, I'm a great fan of Jonathan Meades, and have enjoyed his TV programmes over the decades. He's always seemed clever, erudite and entertaining. Things didn't feel quite right when I didn't quite get the benefits I was expecting, and then when we looked through the 100 postcards, The Cat's Mother's only comment was that I took better photos.  We arrived at the launch event in a restaurant that I know and love, but haven't been to for many, many years.  To call it an event may have been an exaggeration...we were squashed in the corner of a bar without a canape to be seen (I was starving and even a crisp would have done).  Yes I know a bit of a first world issue (again) and forced to listen to the publisher who cornered us and could bore for Britain as she rattled on about how clever she is.  Eventually Mr Meade deigned to speak.  He was crude, rude and unappealing in extremis.  The use of the 'C' word was bad enough before he went on to tell a particularly vulgar story about a famous author, and bodily fluids, whom he described as a 'dwarf genius'.  So I doubt I'll be paying much attention to Mr Meade in future.

Tuesday 10 December 2013

Will the last person to leave the country please switch off the lights

I've made two faux pas' on Facebook this last week.  First of all, I turned a friend's very beautiful baby girl into a boy by describing her as 'he'...twice....and failed to notice it for a couple of days.  It's too late to delete the comment now.  The second one was to get a friend's son's name wrong...Will I called him, not Wilf. Again it took me a couple of days to realise.  I doubt any of them will speak to me again.

The Cat is returning home next weekend.  Such is the nature of Universities that now you pay a small fortune to attend, the terms are shorter.  She is delighted that Hippo reposted her trailer...clearly Angola is going to be a big market for the film!

In the meantime, The Cat's Mother and I are left alone amongst our Christmas decorations.  Peace and quiet reigns supreme and we can enjoy ours own company.  It's lovely.

The Boy has landed on his feet.  He spent one night in the hostel before meeting up with one of the instructors from last year...there was a space available in the Instructors Chalet so he moved in pretty sharpish.  He's been fitted out with his uniform, and  on Saturday took his first lesson.  A German lady.  It went very well indeed, and she booked again for Sunday.  In the meantime he got reassigned to looking after the small children on the Kinder Slopes...which means that he will have a full week's work early in the season.  That may be a good thing as there is a constant stream of  emails such as 'any evening that includes facepainting with charcoal and goats outfits must be good'...

I nearly cried when the government announced last week that it was dropping green levies on energy companies, and some of them immediately announced that bills would be reduced by £50 next year.  That was the week after they'd put them up £150, so they'll only go up £100.  The green 'levy' will still be made, but through 'general taxes'. So if  we were concerned that energy company shareholders were filling their pockets before, then there's no change.  I don't believe that basic energy - the stuff that lights and heats our homes should be in the hands of private companies who by their very nature are trying to make a profit out of their customers for their shareholders.  That's basic capitalism.  But that is the way it is now, and the politicians seem unable or unwilling to change that.  Don't think for one minute that the Ed Miller Band approach of freezing bills is anything but a short-term tactical election ploy.  The same, of course, applies to water (marvelous announcement from Ofwat that water companies will no longer be allowed to make super-inflated profits....why were they ever!?)  And rail companies.

The only real way to reduce energy profits is to reduce consumption...and that is our hands.  There are grants to insulate homes and instal renewable energy sources such as solar cells.  I once became (and still am) a great advocate of Personal Carbon Trading schemes.  The idea behind this is that every country has a 'carbon allowance'.  That allowance is then divided between the population of that country.  Some people will not require their full allowance and are allowed to 'sell' it to those that do.  In the same way that water meters tend to reduce people's use of water, this approach would generally reduce energy consumption levels.  The bonus of this, is that the people who wouldn't need their allowance are the less well-off who live in smaller properties...the people who need more than their allowance are the people who live in bigger properties and have lots of plasma TV's (etc!).  So in one fell swoop you get a 'green' energy policy and the redistribution of wealth.  Of course, it does add an extra level of complexity of life (but that is the way of things now) as the 'trading is done online, but apart from that for me it's perfect!  There are some complexities, as you need to set the level to include families with children, but that is a detail.  Where you can extend this is to include people's car so that instead of there being the clumsy annual car tax (RIP Tax Disc I see), this can be included as part of their carbon allowance.  Genius.  Don't say otherwise.

Anyway, I'm off to switch off a few lights now.....