Google+ Followers

Monday, 15 January 2018

"Clutching at Straws"

Bet there are a few "Warm, Wet, Circles" in the Department of Transport and the Cabinet Office today following Marillion's Carillion's collapse into a sink hole.

Such significant business failures as this expose the raw nerve of our country's sense of self. We're now told that this was bound to happen - it's been building up to this over the past 20 years.  Somehow, we feel this might be true. Something's seriously gone wrong...again.

Just listen to the news media today. Calls for a public enquiry into PFI, contracting out, reliance on just a few huge companies able to bid for massive public sector contracts, the lack of clarity in business finances, the inadequacy of central gov't to hold these companies to account, the scope for large payouts to CEOs and directors, shareholders and banks and the poor quality of service these companies are paid to supply. Failures of Corporate Governance, poor industrial relations, the sub-contracting regime that exposes hundreds of small companies to ruin as a result of this collapse. And then there's the pensions saga. No wonder people are watching dysopian TV series - they reflect all the insecurities we feel. 

There's the rising tide of anger that we  allow the powerful, wealthy, influential and greedy to take all the gain and escape any of the blame. And a chilling sense that there's bugger all we can do about it. Certainly looking at the faces of the Ministers put up to "explain" this latest failure of neo-liberalism, it's clear the Government hasn't a clue.

If only the revelation of Henry Bolton's girlfriend's inappropriate tweets  had come a day later, UKIP's leader wouldn't be staring out of our TV screens trying to defend his dumped girlfriend and why he's staying on as head of UKIP.

By the way in December the Government heralded its "UK Industrial Strategy: a leading destination to invest and grow. How the Industrial Strategy will ensure the UK remains one of the best places in the world to innovate, do business, invest and create jobs." Just a month after Carillion posted a third profits warning and won a £200 million British Rail contract. 

You couldn't make it up!

Friday, 12 January 2018

Thar' she blows!

The 2nd of March is not far away. That is when my mate and I board a BA flight for Argentina and the Antarctic.

Did I tell you I signed up for kayaking? Must have done. Imagine it me and the vastness of the Southern Seas. Sounds rather scary don't you think. Anyway, I managed to get on the kayaking shift, I just hope the weather's not too rough and the whales are around and treat me with care.

I'll be kayaking up the Thames in February - a 2hr "refresher" - that's a joke the last time I was in a kayak was on the Moray Firth in November in 1974.

I'm regularly visiting our local gym. Twice or three times a week to get me in shape. Nothing strenuous; just an hour on the treadmill. I already feel fitter and sleepier.

My glasses fell apart the other day. I was intending to get new lenses as I couldn't see out of the old ones. A few years back I was struck by a high end brand bug so bought a pair of TAG Heuer frames from Vision Express. I went to my local opticians for the lenses 'cause they're nice and friendly and know me by name. I've been with them so long I've watched their hair thin.

I'd read that what is essential at the bottom of the earth is sun glasses. The glare from the ice and the sea can be very uncomfortable; and this is where a small, local independent trader is invaluable. He had just what I wanted. He bought a pair over from their other branch.They were cool. Wrap around, keeping the wind out of your eyes - prescription glasses. Sorted. They didn't stock TH, apparently only the select and large get the franchise, but I've chosen a lovely pair - quite young looking, light frames with a slight retro 80's look. Intellectual in a Linda Carter "Wonder Woman" way. Check me out penguins!

That leaves clothing but that shouldn't be difficult - I'll of course take my track suit and hoodie top - there's a gym on the boat so I can keep up my strength levels. Not sure about food on board. I do hope we don't survive on a diet of blubber and seal meat.

I'm really into this extreme holidaying lark. Off to a couple of holiday shows next month to see what the travel industry can throw at me. I'm talking Pitcairn Islands, St Helena or building my own retreat on St Kilda.

Not sure I'll be able to blog from Desolation Island, but will faithfully record all my impressions to pass on to you dear readers on my return. If not before. A Happy New Year. 

Tuesday, 2 January 2018

Cat Ballou

Cats: we love 'em. We have four registered at Mews Cottage but this number is supplemented by other feline interlopers. 6 at the last count.

Take Esme and Pru. Both come from good homes, their owners are clean, well behaved and hold down steady pensionable jobs but their cats insist on eating at our place.

Esme is a young calico cat with a collar and tag which reads "My name is Esme and I'm not to be fed." Esme takes no notice, and neither do we. There she'll be at the front door insisting on her 10 am snack, followed by her 1 pm lunch and 4 pm top up. She'll appear on the downstairs window ledge and expect a plate of food to be passed out. We oblige. It's a delight to be greeted by her in the street. Once she sees you she runs down the road and sits on the front step waiting to be fed. So far we've had no complaints from her humans, despite the "nil by mouth" injunction being well and truly ignored.

And then there's Pru. A small, white bundle of hissing fury. It's no surprise, she was a child bride and had a family before she could use a litter tray. A spell in an institution - Battersea Dogs and Cats Home and then placed with a lovely family. She, however, can't forget her roots and her street wise character means she's always looking for a fight. Any slight is enough to set her off. Esme gets the back of her paw any time there's a plate of food on offer. So we put two out, some distance separating them and Pru can concentrate  on ensuring Esme doesn't butt in. Pru is known throughout the neighbourhood visiting every other house and usually complaining.

Now we have a new cat in our orbit. He/she just turned up - that's what cats do but this one has made itself so at home.

We have two chairs under the veranda, each with their collection of blankets and each owned by one of our four cats. Ginja has the most elaborate and comfortable chair with three or four blanket to provide the necessary softness for undisturbed sleep and relaxation. The other chair had recently been bagged by Dixie. Dixie idolises Ginja and the chair which is opposite Ginja's is ideal for hero worship. First thing in the morning, once let out through the first floor bathroom window and having explored the garden, just to ensure everything is as it should be, Dixie settles down on the chair to stare at her idol.

But now the new cat has taken ownership of not one but both chairs. This morning Dixie found her idol worshipping spot occupied by this new, very black and extremely pretty cat. Dixie being small and the interloper large she had to lump it. But not Ginja. Later that day he returned from his regular perambulation of the garden, making sure that everything was as it should be, to find this upstart asleep on his chair. Cats are sophisticated creatures often, rather than a physical frontal attack, they'll use psychology.  He climbed on the opposite chair and stared and stared and stared. Well, I don't know about you but an unwavering cat stare puts the willies up me. It did the same to the upstart pussy. Off they went and Ginja settled back in his rightful chair.

The new cat came back, ate some more food and in no time at all was back on Ginja's chair. We have had to put up with one extremely pissed off ginger tom. Even Dixie, his adoring acolyte, is of no help. Only hour long cuddles on the wife's lap and much sweet talking could smooth our delicious tom's wounded pride.

Cats, no wonder they are everywhere. They are beautiful, clever, companionable and know we love every hair and whiskers on their body.