Tuesday, 19 February 2013

A wasted day

After what was really a pleasant weekend, watching football and little bit of work thrown in,I had the direst train journey for many a year. I drove in today, Tuesday being a quiet day in my diary, the freedom you get to sit in your car, your choice of background noise (BBC Journo strikes permitting) and warmth paid for by the company makes it almost worth while.
I was a little peeved to discover that the public accounts committee have called for legislation to name tax avoiders.
one would assume that this call to name them all would be across the board, one would hope that in the eyes of the law all are equal but sadly we know it isn't true.
We have the Private Eye to thank for exposing the unaudited cosy little arrangements of HMRC and the elected representatives.
Not only do they get the ability to balance their tax bills in a manner only self employed status usually brings but they also don't pay any benefit in kind payments on all the subsidised services that you and I the general taxpayer funds for them.
Forget about second home mortgage relief and cleaning moats, think about all that free travel claimed, late night half price booze sessions and 4 course sumptuous meals all at less than half cost courtesy of you and I
A mate of mine lives in Eastleigh. He is moaning at the level of idiocy displayed by the main party candidates ringing his doorbell.
If I were him I would ask them a simple question and record their response.
"If I vote for you, will you pay to travel to work out of your salary like the rest of us have to?"

Should be interesting!

Also have those political arsewipes not yet learnt humility, they aren't in power but in office, in office to do the bidding of those who put them there!

Monday, 18 February 2013

After a busy weekend time for;

A few home truths;
THE TRUTH ABOUT CHEAP MEAT

No doubt you are outraged about the horse meat scandal. You have every right to be – criminality, profiteering, potential fraud, all have led to many people eating an animal they would probably prefer to see in the 3.20 at Kempton and possibly also ingesting dangerous veterinary drugs.

However, I’m going to come at this from another angle and it’s this: it’s your own... bloody fault. There you go.

I know, I know; you’re not happy. It’s not your fault is it? It’s the government, the supermarkets, criminals and Goodness knows who else.

But it’s not just them, you see. It’s you.

After a week of this story my patience has finally snapped, and it’s time someone told you a few home truths.

Many of us have been banging on for years about this stuff, trying to make you care about the need for better food labeling, about fairness for farmers, about the need to support local farms to avoid all our food coming from giant, uncaring corporate agri-businesses which churn out cheap product to feed the insatiable appetite of supermarket price-cutting.

We’ve been highlighting the unfairness of UK farmers being forced to meet 73 different regulations to sell to supermarkets which don’t apply to foreign suppliers, and talking about our children growing up with no understanding of food production and, more than all of this, about the way supermarkets have driven down and down and down the cost of meat to the point where people think it’s normal to buy 3lbs of beef (in burgers) for 90p.

And you wouldn’t listen. It was like shouting into a gale.

Through the years of New Labour, when farming and the countryside were demonised, you wouldn’t listen. You cheerfully chose to believe that all farmers were Rolls Royce driving aristocrats, as painted by John Prescott. You had no sympathyYou wanted a chicken for £2 and your Sunday roast for a fiver. Well, you got them didn’t you? And hundreds of farmers went to the wall. And you still didn’t care because Turkey slices were ten for 60p.

And now you’re furious, because it turns out that when you pay peanuts for something it’s actually not very good. Who knew eh?

And before you start, don’t even think about the “it’s all right for the rich who can go to local butcher’s shops but what about the poor?” line. The number of people who can’t afford adequate amounts of food is tiny – tragic and wrong, yes, but tiny. Supermarkets don’t make their billions from them hunting in the “reduced” basket, they make their money from millions of everyday folk filling a weekly trolley. You, in other words.

Until the mid 1990s, Britain was also full of good local abattoirs. They were run by people who knew the local farmers who used them, and the local butchers which sold the meat. They were closed in their hundreds by new health and safety regulations which made it impossible for small abattoirs to compete with giant companies doing the job more cheaply.

We tried to tell you, you didn’t care.

And of course, unlike the previous generation you were “too busy” to actually cook. You were so busy that the idea of making a meal, then making two more out of the left-overs, was like something from Cider With Rosie to you. You bought a meal every night. And so it had to be cheap.

We tried to tell you. You just pointed out that Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall went to Eton and sneered at us.

Cheap rearing abroad. You didn’t care. Cheap slaughtering by machine. You didn’t care. Cheap meat full of crap and off-cuts. You didn’t care. Frozen blocks of meat off-cuts from the abattoir floor being trucked in from Poland to ensure your pack of mince was cheap enough. You didn’t care. In fact you didn’t know, but that’s because you didn’t care.

But we cared. We kept trying to tell you. We launched campaigns, we wrote letters, we raised funds for adverts. Nobody knows what they’re eating anymore, we said. Nobody recognises how hard it is for farmers here to produce quality meat at a price they can sell because of the supermarkets.

And you didn’t care.

Well, now you know you’ve been munching on Dobbin and his various nasty drugs, possibly for years. And now you care.

And yes, you’ve been misled, cheated, lied to. But you must also take some of the responsibility. You didn’t tell supermarkets you wanted quality, you just watched the ads which said “175 products cheaper at Asda this week than Tesco” and went to Asda. You made the market they sold in to, you set their priorities. They gave you what you wanted.

So what will you do now? Now that you care.

How about this…

Rather than just moaning at MPs why not actually think about what you eat, what you buy, where it comes from? Why not visit a farm on an open day? Take the kids, show them where their food comes from. If it’s a good farm, why not try to use your consumer power accordingly to make more farms that way? To make them viable. Why not have a think about how you could make meat go further without spending more, through cooking, and thus be able to buy good, British, assured quality meat?

If you do that, I’ll stop blaming you, and some good may come of all of this.

The culprits responsible for all this will be found, and no doubt tried and hopefully convicted. With luck new rules will be introduced to make a repeat harder. But the market will find a way – it always does. So long as there is a demand for vast quantities of ultra-cheap meat, people will find a way to supply it. So long as people remain uninterested in where their food comes from and how it’s made, someone will cut corners.

It’s a ravenous beast, the market. Like its customers, as it turns out.

So now that you care I’ll tell you that we’ve been highlighting the plight of dairy farmers this year; explaining how supermarkets are paying such a pittance that they can’t stay in business and milk is increasingly coming in from abroad, where standards are lower. Pleasingly people noticed. Some people. If you weren’t one, perhaps, given events, you might like to now?

And when you’ve done that, take a look at the video in the link below, which details the Countryside Alliance’s hard-fought campaign on country-of-origin food labeling. Whilst you were suggesting the CA was only interested in fox hunting, it was doing this, for you, and now you know why.
 
There sadly is no link to the CA video available but this is one quality rant from an independant butcher on quality!

Friday, 15 February 2013

The weekend is fast approaching

As I sit on my fat arse relaxing despite the latest utility bill and Network rails best attempt at sending us all to any destination apart from the one stated on the bought ticket I am fairly relaxed. I am taking no1 son Ben to a football match tomorrow, an overdue birthday present, first stop will be an all you can eat buffet followed by a beer or two and then the game.
I have to work on sunday but its ok, I get paid for it and after todays death by presentation session at work I am just about ready to get some fresh air and do some real work for once!
Lets face it just about anything has to be better than planning in P6 doesnt it?

Tuesday, 12 February 2013

Grumpy Old Sod on the Falklands

The Argentine president Christine Kerchner is trying to deflect criticism of the mishandling of her country's internal affairs by indulging in some macho posturing about the Falklands Islands, despite the fact that the people who actually live there have made it perfectly clear that they want nothing to do with her. In a letter published recently in the Independent and the Guardian (why? Why did they print it? Whose side are they bloody on?) she accused us of colonialism, brutality and no doubt many other crimes probably including child abuse, global warming, international terrorism and picking our noses in public.




Someone had to reply, of course, and it shouldn't be left to the Sun newspaper though credit to them for trying. Much better is this missive from anonymous blogger Foxy who calls herself “Fleet Street Fox” ...







THURSDAY, 3 JANUARY 2013



Dear Argentina...



Now look. You've been whining about this since 1767 and it's starting to get on my wick.



I've ignored you until now, because you're very silly and your greatest cheerleader is Sean Penn, a man who pretends to be things he is not and once hit his then-wife Madonna with a baseball bat, tied her up for nine hours and abused her. If he is on your side, it's not a good side to be on.



But today you've written to Prime Minister Dishface demanding he enter negotiations to 'return' the islands we call the Falklands and you call Malvinas, 180 years after we cruelly stole them from you with our jackbooted naval officers of totalitarianism.



You were 'forcibly stripped' of these jewels in the South Atlantic and your people were 'expelled'.



Only, that's not quite what happened, is it Argentina? Someone obviously needs to remind you, and probably Mr Penn too, of the facts.



In 1820 an American pirate called David Jewett took shelter there, and finding the place deserted promptly claimed the islands for a union of South American provinces which later became Argentina.



You lot didn't realise this for a year, but still didn't settle the islands. Instead a German who pretended to be French called Luis Vernet came along, asked the Argentines and the Brits politely if they minded, and founded a little colony of his own.



It took him a few goes, but eventually he established a settlement, you named him governor and gave him the right to kill all the seals. This quite hacked off the Brits, who wanted some seals for themselves, but Vernet placated us by asking for our military protection.



It all got a bit hairy in 1831, when Vernet found some American seal ships, arrested their crews and sparked an international incident. The Americans sent a warship, blew up the settlement, and hot-headedly sent the most senior settlers to the mainland for trial for piracy.



The Argentines sent a new governor to establish a penal settlement, but he was killed in a mutiny the day he arrived. The Brits, quite reasonably, decided the whole thing was a dog's breakfast.



You had never settled the islands. Never established a colony of your own. Never guarded it with a garrison of your own soldiers. They had never, ever, been yours.



So allow me to make a couple of things clear. Firstly, the history of these windy rocks is an utter mess but someone had to take charge, and you weren't up to the job. We did it pretty nicely, considering our record in other places. Secondly, only jackbooted colonial scumbags refuse to listen to the democratic voice of the people who live somewhere, so you really ought to wind your hypocritical warmongering necks in.







There's much more, and it's pretty good stuff, including a great deal of historical detail most of us aren't familiar with. Do read it here.