Saturday, 1 August 2009

You Don't Support People On Benefits. Footballers Do.

Every now and again I will hear someone go on about a neighbour, friend, or family member who is a dole bludger. It's either someone with no job and no intention of getting a job, someone claiming Disability Living Allowance who appears outwardly to be able to just about any job, or someone (usually a lass) who has a bounty of offspring all supported by state handouts. Usually the complaint will involve one or the other of the following statements:

"I've paid taxes all my working life, and now I'm supporting this dosser."


"They're perfectly capable of working. They just know they don't have to!"

All in all, it's a fair point. I mean, I actually quite like the idea of someone giving me money for what might appear to be nothing. But then I get bored easily, and working seems to pass the time without me resorting to increasing Kleenex's profit margins or seeing my waistline expand again. So by working I have that unavoidable situation where I have to pay taxes. Or work in a sweatshop/brothel.

Here's the other statement I've heard:

"Some of these bastards get about £30 000 a year of my money in benefits!"

What always impresses me about statements like this is that absolutely none of the people I've ever heard say it have ever paid £30 000 in a year in tax. Quite honestly, most of them have never been educated well enough to be in a position to earn that amount. Which begs the question: If there are thousands of doleys out there raking in 30 grand a year in numerous state handouts from our taxes, who is picking up the slack?

It's obvious. It's the other end of the spectrum that we like to moan about: professional sportsmen. Particularly footballers.

Look at it like this: A guy in the Premiership can easily earn £60 000 a month kicking a football around for a few hours a week. I'm not doubting the skill involved, or the effort put into maintaining the highest standards of fitness and craftsmanship, but I am saying that giving someone that much money is no less offensive than handing a single mother of four half that each year in benefits. Then when you take into account that footballer has to pay a flat rate of 50% in income tax, and what you've suddenly got is a guy that pours £30 000 a month into the benefits pot. Even more notable are the players who earn more than that 60k.

In short, an average Premiership footballer can support 12 single parent, non-working, full-benefit families a year. A superstar of the league can probably keep a dozen eighteen year olds sniffing glue and smoking cheap crap weed for a whole year, and ease the burden on the chronic asthmatic smokers, the golf playing spine injury brigade and the epileptic drivers without ever having to worry about where the next meal is coming from.

Yes, your taxes probably do contribute to supporting some undesirables, but why not have a bit of faith in humanity and consider your taxes might pay to rehabilitate an injured soldier, or help train a doctor, or provide funding for the various nationwide projects that are beneficial to society but don't draw widespread right-wing press coverage?

Seriously, unless you pay more than 30% of your wages in tax, you should probably shut the fuck up about who is getting what from the government. Especially if you're a football fan. Even moreso if you're a fan of "The Big Four".

Remember: for all the looking down you do on those less fortunate than you, there will be some big earner doing the same to you. It's not a nice aspect of our society.

Monday, 20 July 2009

So This Is White Supremacy?

I know it's wrong to mock the afflicted, but the reality is that sometimes the affliction is to funny too avoid. While racism itself isn't funny, the way people go about it just has to be mocked sometimes. So here I go...


I first saw the story of Neil Lewington a couple of weeks back, when the story focussed more on how his defence was presenting him. It actually still details this in the article above, but in case anyone who reads this didn't read the whole article, his defence was this:

Is he the real deal? Is he a terrorist or is he just a big pest, a nuisance?" Mr Etherington asked the jury. Adding that he was a "silly, immature, alcoholic, dysfunctional twit, fantasising to make up for a rather sad life".

So this is the face of racist extremism in the UK is it? This is the face of the worst scum dividing society outside of religious extremism? This is what passes for the biggest physical threat beyond the suit-wearing, scaremongering morons of the BNP? A fat alcoholic doley with no social life and a chip on his shoulder so big that it may as well be a sack of spuds (that his face reminds me of).

I find that funny.

Reading the article and seeing he used chatlines to try and talk to women actually had me laugh out loud. I can just imagine the conversation.

Woman: Hi. My name is Sandra, I'm a shop assistant from Enfield.

Lewington: Uhhh... Is it a paki shop?

Woman: No. It's Tesco.

Lewington: Oh. Jews.

Woman: Ummm... So what do you do?

Lewington: I'm an officer in the Waffen SS UK.

Woman: *click* Brrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr.....

Lewington: Hello?

It must have largely been like that. I mean, even the most socially neutered woman surely can't find the idea of chatting to someone who openly admits not just to being racist, but to being a bomb enthusiast a turn on? I've seen a lot of fetish porn here on the internet, but I've yet to find anything about tennis balls full of gunpowder. Tennis balls without gunpowder, yes. But explosives don't seem to be a big selling point on the porn front.

Then there's the whole issue of him being stopped on the train not for carrying suspected weapons, but for being abusive to a member of staff. I don't know how the whole transportation of explosives and the logistics of initiating a terror attack usually go, but I would guess being as inconspicuous and humble as possible is the more sensible option. I mean, even if the woman he verbally abused was in some way ethnic or non-English to him, just keeping your mouth shut might seem the safer option. I think it's fair to say that the mark of any terror attack is an initial measure of stealth.

Okay, clearly being a dimwitted fat, ugly forty-something is going to make you pretty inconspicuous (especially in London) but I'm certain bawling obscenities is not. All I can say is that Mr Lewington is representative of the moronic nature of the hardcore of twats that think racism (and specifically things like being in the SS) is some way for society to move forward, and so hopefully we'll see more of these sort of stories, rather than ones of Ethnic communities or the gay scene being bombed.

My final point on this subject though, is whether or not it's fair to call this retard a "white supremacist". I'm not sure he's what Hitler had in mind for his Aryan race. In fact the only place I can see him fitting into the perception of white supremacy is the same sort of intellectual mastermind you see on documentaries about the rise of the KKK and seperatist movements in the USA. People who are so inbred that their left eye is in the right socket, and vice versa. People so clueless that they think America is the greatest country in the world without ever having traveled beyond their county border, let alone the state border.

In fact, I think it might be best if instead of jailing Lewington, we pack him off to the Midwest where he can learn about proper dimwitted bigotry with like-mindless people who might value his tennis balls and alcohol addiction.

I hope there are more stories like this that get a decent public profile. It might serve to remind normal people that people like him also vote for the BNP. And who wants to share a vote with people who think like Neil Lewington?

Wednesday, 15 July 2009

Gizzajob! Oh Okay, Don't Bother...

Having a job is a privelege, not a right. If it was a right, there'd still be National Service.

Okay I've not blogged for a while, and to that end it's perhaps fortunate that I don't make a living from writing. Especially per word. But today I got a bit pissed off listening to Radio One's news bulletins telling me about what a very hard time the 16-25 age group is having at the moment. Apparently 1000 a day are losing their jobs thanks to the recession. You'll notice it's no longer amusingly referred to as The Credit Crunch now we've endured the banking panic for more than a year.

What bugged me about these bulletins was what that demographic had to say when interviewed. Specifically one lad (age unknown) who said he couldn't find a job that paid what he wanted, so he'd had to give up driving lessons and buying clothes. The first time I heard it, I laughed.

It would be easy for me to avoid get on my late-thirties high horse and say "Hey, independence and fashion are important to young people" but the reality is that's bullshit. What's important to young people is having a laugh with your mates and shagging. The last time I checked, neither of these had a big wage as a prerequisite, and nor did they when I fitted the demographic. Fashion is a priority only when you can afford it, and indepence does not mean car ownership or even a driving licence. In fact I immediately thought the lad was a twat.

The onset of age again, Ed? No. When I left school at 16, I had no qualifications other than those I needed to get in the RAF, which had been my goal since before I understood the term "wanking spanners". Since I failed, I ended up taking a shitty job doing data entry at a building society. Number after number after number was typed in, checked, and rechecked. This went on for 8 hours a day, 5 days a week, for 6 months. But I endured it, because I liked the fact that it gave me a wage that some mates my age (mates I still hung out with) just didn't have. In the recession of the early 90s, I unpacked Marks & Spencers crap at a warehouse on a nightshift because by then I wanted to earn a bit to run a car and buy the clothes I want.

My point is that Twatty McNojob on Radio One really is missing the point of the current economic recession. Okay, he can't get the job he wants: then go for something shit, and either keep learning to drive, or afford the clothes you want. When things pick up, go for the job you want or can do, and then do both. Because I've been saying since I was in my early 20s that I'd shovel shit for a fiver and hour if it meant I get the social life I want and keep the bills paid.

"Desperate times call for desperate measures" is so true of these times. And while I'm not citing the guy on the radio as typical of the working folks under the half-century-yes-you're-now-officially-old age bracket, I have no doubt there are probably a few thousand out there that would really like to be a Sales Associate at an up-and-coming technology hardware store, the fact is that they could still be on the lash every Saturday with their working mates if they'd just consider riveting an aluminium ladder together for a bottom end wage in a dirty, smelly factory with rude, demanding and unsympathetic bosses. And yes, I did that too.

I'm not criticizing the youth of today. I know how hard it is to be that age with the specific demands it puts on you. But I am criticizing the attitude of today, where there's a perception that the material aspect of both friendship and enjoyment are paramount.

Hard times are also where you learn who your friends are. I guess Twatty McNojob hasn't found that out yet.

Tuesday, 9 June 2009

The Philosophy That Killed Your Grandparents

The fascist British National Party won two seats and gained ground on the mainstream at the recent European elections. Naturally, it was reported on the news that the nation was up in arms about this. Soon after, politicians "from all major political parties" spoke out against their selection.

Naturally, their knuckledragging leader Nick Griffin once again went to the baying pack that is the British media industry to reinforce the statement "we're not racist, we're not fascists" despite the fact that membership requires you to be, specifically, white.

And that's the best bit about the BNP. You have to be white. Not British. White. Not a lot of people know this, but you don't even have to be British to be a member of the British National Party. If you're of a Caucasian ethnic immigration to the UK you can still be a member! Presumably they also don't delve too deeply into the ancestral ethnicity of their membership, either. Because speaking from family experience it's quite easy to find a heritage that leads you back to an ethnic group that is on the hit list for the Far Right.

All said, I think it's time we accepted (and the voting statistics bear me out) that the BNP is a legitimized political movement. It has been legitimized by a jaded and indifferent voting population that is more concerned with who will be Big Brother's next Jade than who would make a good replacement for the hopefully soon-to-resign Gordon Brown. I also think that in the big scheme of things it's not going to be a wholly negative thing that the BNP has won these seats. Shocked? Hear me out...

When a plague spreads, it spreads because the virus's targets have no immunity to it. It takes people into it's grip in huge numbers, and we lose a significant number of them. Those that resist it become immune to it, and can provide an immunization to others around them. Fascism is a plague. The population has been weakened by apathy, and so the plague spreads. It spreads not because the voters are racists, but because they are politically defenceless to the spread, thanks to their immunity being weakened by tales of cheating, lying, and public betrayal in the corridors of power.

Two seats in Europe for the BNP might just turn out to be the antigen the voting nation needs to stir itself out of apathy, and also a severe wake-up call to British government at all levels that we simply aren't satisfied with the way they are running things. We know that scum can take a foothold if it uses fancy words on the masses, and we know very well our national leaders are currently running very very scared.

But it's these bureaucrats who can solve the issue of good but misguided people voting for the BNP once and for all: employ red tape and existing legislature to make sure the party is forced to use a name that is appropriate to it's political position. It is not a Party for British Nationals. British Nationals are available in a number of colours and shades, not to mention sexual preferences. It is a party for White People. So really it should be called the White Nationalist Party. But I think a better name would be to incorporate the fact that they're racist and will take all Caucasian ethnic backgrounds as members, regardless of their Britishness. I would suggest that we legislate to have the BNP renamed the White And Non-Kaffir Empire Racist Society. In short...


Let's see how many people vote for them under that monicker.

British politics has needed a good kick up the arse for a good decade now. The continuation of Thatcherism under Blair's pseudo-socialist regime was bad enough, and the fact that not only did New Labour continue to privatize British industry but also allow it to be sold cheaply and easily to international ownership furthered my belief that capitalism was sailing Britain to it's doom. This is evidenced with how badly we're affected by the global financial crisis. The fact that immigration and European social policy has been used as a scapegoat for our current ills is no surprise at all to me. It's just a shame that I'm also not surprised people have been brainwashed enough about how the world works to think the only alternative to self-destructive capitalism is a step towards the very far right-wing politics our grandparents fought and died for 60 years ago.

Fascism is a disease. It killed millions, and it did it in the lifetime of people who are still alive to tell the tale. It did it, all denials aside, in the most abhorrent and savage way. It did it by starting off as strong words from smart men to a jaded, once proud nation. Sound familiar? It should.

What goes around, comes around. Already it's been reported that the BNP has sought funding and alliance with other far-right organizations in Europe (yes, that Europe it claims to want autonomy back from) to further it's political ends. Which begs the obvious question: if they're so pro-Britain, why do they need money from Europe?

Because like all political parties, they lie their way into power. Wake up, Britain.

Wednesday, 3 June 2009

And The Winner Of Future Celebrity Big Brother Contestants Is...

Susan Booooyle!

Honestly, I've tried to resist blogging about the whole Susan Boyle media circus. But the latest (as opposed to final) instalment was just too much. It seems that after all the attention and hype, the frumpy middle-aged karaoke singer couldn't cope with the pressure of her fame and was "exhausted" enough to be examined under the Mental Health Act. I listened to the story on the radio with a total lack of shock, a modicum of sympathy, and a considerable amount of scorn for the very media that was blabbering away at me with what was not news but simple gossip.

I was listening to something on Radio 4 the week she hit the headlines for her appearance on Britain's Got Talent. It said what a breath of fresh air it was to have someone so obviously genuinely talented make an appearance on the show, how she evidenced that ordinary people from all walks of life could reach an international audience if their talent was both profound and, indeed, had the "X factor". Susan Boyle, the chap said, was in inspiration to millions, and should be lauded for her clear talent...

...and not mocked for her dowdy appearance and slightly unorthodox (for the 21st century at least) virginal life.

That was the point I immediately tired of her and the bullshit that would come to surround her. Because not a week later I was listening to Radio 2 (I swear I don't listen to these two stations all the time, I prefer 6!) and another dull commentator launched quite a scathing attack on the Boyle phenomenon. It wasn't aimed at her. It was aimed at the whole situation. She said, speaking as someone who worked in musical theatre, that Susan Boyle's voice was representative of a good few hundred chorus line singers in Britian alone. Her appearance was no different to that of many of these singers for whom the stage calls because they love singing, like Boyle. That the media, and the show in particular, had drawn attention to her above others who auditioned for the show simply because her appearance was a new and dynamic angle on a format brimming with the beautiful and the barmy.

My own Dad even had a right old rant when I suggested that she was nothing more than a national joke. "She doesn't deserve these nasty comments!" he fumed. "She's got a wonderful voice, and she shouldn't be mocked!"

"Everything should be mocked, if it can be mocked," I said. We debated no further.

But it's true. I mean, why should she escape the wit of the nation, be it incisive or just plain cruel? It's not like she's new to television, let alone performing to a live audience. If she could handle that twat Barrymore trying to peer at her gnasher all those years ago, I'd've thought she'd be more than equipped to handle the attention that would come with
Britain's Got Talent. Because I'm damn certain that someone that's tried out for a TV show who has a good voice is going to have some level of representation and protection. Plus, let's face it, looking as she does, she must be prtty thick skinned. I'm not being nasty. I'm no oil painting, bum nose and massive earlobes that I have, but I know this. And I'd be amazed if Ms Boyle wasn't aware she's not going to be landing the title in Evita based on her stunning looks.

As far as I'm concerned, if you're putting yourself voluntarily in the media spotlight, you have to accept that spotlight is sometimes going to be so bright it will astonish and frighten you. You're going to have to accept that if you become a very public face, you'd better be prepared for that face to be commented on in public. You're going to have to accept that your life is never going to be the same again...

...until The Next Big Thing comes along. That's the great thing about modern media for people like Susan Boyle. It has the attention span of a strobelit goldfish in a bowl of vodka. It is always looking for someone to put on a pedestal. But that pedestal becomes a dartboard, and soon the attention on skill or beauty or humour or whatever becomes a dark and relentless search into the person's background, history and lifestyle. So you'd better hope you're squeaky clean and as normal as to have no skeletons to even manufacture.

The Next Big Thing will come along. And with it will the the backlash against it. And in good time, the British public will have forgotten Susan Boyle as anything other than "What was the name of the 48-year old virgin that took Britain by storm in 2009?" in a pub quiz. She can go back to singing in church and in her local, and from time to time someone will stop her in the street and go "It is you, isn't it?" without remembering what her name is. The exhaustion can be put behind her and she can lead a normal life once more...

...or she can sign a deal with Satan Cowell's record label and become a huge star for another fifteen minutes, her life managed by a corporate organization, her photos sold to the glorious ranks of Chat, Womans Weekly, Pick Me Up, Shite, and Guff. She'll get her makeovers, her stylists, and then...

...she'll still be usurped by the Next Big Thing. And then six months later, the call will come to appear on Celebrity Big Brother, with other such megastars as Christian O'Connell, Alex Zane, Lady Gaga and Ross Fucking Noble.

Footnote: Having just finished writing this I've read that she turned down a squillion pounds to do a porn movie. Quite honestly I have watched porn with worse looking women than Susan in. So there's something else to look forward to if the singing and drama queening doesn't work out.

Wednesday, 27 May 2009

I'd Rather Have Thieves Than Another Hitler

"It's not worth bothering. They're all crooks."

"What's the point? It won't make any difference."

These are the mantras of the apathetic voting age adult in Britain. I know. I used to be one. And the great thing about believing this is that the more you believe it, the more it becomes true. It's like if God really existed: the sheer weight of belief would compress into a physical form and you'd not need extremist groups or two thousand years of alternating between being violently oppressed and violently oppressing. The smiting would be there for all to see.

The fact is, it's true. It isn't worth bothering, because they are all crooks. There is no point, because it won't make any difference. Hang on though... If they're all crooks, then surely the fact they get away with it says something about those who elect them? The people who vote... consistently deliberately vote for crooks!!! So you, apathetic voting age person, have it in you to make a difference. Oh, and do you know why it won't make a difference whether you vote or not? It's not because nothing ever changes, it's because the system we have is the only one that works in a capitalist system without looking a bit like, y'know, Germany in the thirties.

So we're apathetic because of politicians. Yet isn't it ironic that at the moment this apathy is being jumped all over by "legitimate political parties" such as the British National Party, the UK Independence Party, and something I found a leaflet for today, called the UK First party, which had the same vague nationalist agenda as the BNP and UKIP?

The timing of the local elections couldn't be better for cunts (and I don't use the world lightly, I promise) like these. We're in the midst of a fake economic decline, engineered by massively rich corporations, and we distrust the main political parties on account of them suddenly not being the squeaky clean, dilligent and honest men and women it appears the public suddenly believe they've always been. We're propping up financial organizations with our taxes, we're in the midst of a backlash against eastern European workers in the UK as the dole queue lengthens, and finally there's the simple fact that everyone, including ethnic minorities, has finally had enough of the social embarrassment that is extremist political correctness.

You stick any/all of the subjects of political integrity, taxation, immigrants, political correctness or employment opportunity into your political manifesto, and you will, right now, attract the attention of the apathetic. Stick in a picture of Churchill in your party political broadcast and on your posters, and you'll get the attention of people who know roughly who Churchill was. But not what he stood for.

As a result, the main political parties are wheeling out their squeakier cleaner personalities to tell us that no matter how we feel about the current "crisis" in British politics, it's important not to turn to extremism as an alternative. And rightly so. I agree entirely. I don't want BNP councillors alive, let alone in positions of power. Fascism by any name is still fascism, and I know enough to know that Churchill (and let's not forget pretty much everyone else in Europe) fought the ideology for the greater good of the world, not just this tiny island nation.

Churchill, for all he was a ruthless and devious bastard (as the people of Coventry can horrifically testify, history fans) believed that the fight he fought was for the greater good of the whole world, not just us Brits. He knew that Britain didn't win World War Two. He knew the French weren't cowards. He knew that we all had to stand together to go forwards. He knew freedom had a huge price.

Fascists don't do freedom. Remember that if you hear some numpty extolling the virtues of not being a part of the EU, sending the Poles home, or how Britain didn't need Europe in 1939 and doesn't need it now.

Real Brit's don't do fascism. Real Brits know our ancestors largely came from Europe. Real Brits know politics is bullshit, whatever the philosophy. Real Brits know that when the chips are down, it's our spirit and our sense of fair play that picks us up and sets us on the right path again. That path, of course, which leads to the future. Which has been consistently brighter since we were invaded by the Romans. Even if it did go a bit pear-shaped when the bloody Christians turned up.

So if you hear someone say they're thinking of voting for the far Right (or indeed the far Left) just remind them there is that other option: continued apathy. Because if enough of us band together and sit and vote for X-Factor instead of the way our councils are run, then when next you hear someone lamenting the fact that more people vote for a caterpillar-eyebrowed Scottish hag than a caterpillar-eyebrowed Scottish thief, you can rest content in the knowledge that while our political system doesn't work, the apathy it generates provides comedians with material, and keeps extremist politics where it should be: on the internet. Being mocked.

Monday, 18 May 2009

Energy Efficiency Will Make You A Smelly Jumper Wearing Hippy.

Working in the Utilities industry as I do, I'm quite familiar with the whole concept of waste and efficiency, usage and metering. These are not interesting aspects of the industry, and perhaps less so in water than in gas and electricity. Which is fair enough, right? Because most people pay a flat rate for water, but gas and electric is metered, the prices varied and perceived as unfair. It's not that long ago that some companies jacked the price up by as much as 35%, but that's something your water companies won't do, mainly because we live in a country where the stuff we drink and wash in comes at us from above so often, if they did hike the price you'd find my colleagues and myself strung up from lamp posts. So it won't happen.


Unless you live in a cave, or don't have the responsibility of paying an electricity or gas bill, or a water rates bill, you'll be aware that there has been suggestion in recent months that all houses should be fitted with "smart meters" so that the utiltiy companies don't have to go into your house to read your usage stats to work out your bill. I don't recall it being specifically referenced for water, but I know quite a lot of water meters aren't in houses anyway.

One of the alleged drawbacks of these smart meters is that the rollout will be incredibly expensive. The meters aren't cheap, and every household and business in Britain will need one. What the businesses mean, of course, is that they aren't cheap to install at a reasonable retail price without severely hitting shareholder pockets for years to come. Because, let's face it, it will be you and I that foot the bill for all these meters, whether we actually want one or not. Okay, under nationalization we'd pay for them too. But we'd not see our expense go to line the pockets of the already rich while our pockets get a significant fraction lighter.

The thing is though, it could actually, if we actually gave a shit about the world we live in, turn out to not only be the best thing to happen to our pockets since realizing unsliced bread is cheaper, but also a massive boost to our attitude to the environment and the impact we have on it. Let me explain my theory:

You have an internet connection. You awlways pay a flat rate each month, right? Wrong. I bet you that nearly everyone with a modern broadband connection will have something in their small print about a Fair Usage Policy (or Acceptable Use Policy). The short of it will be that you only pay your set fee as long as you don't spend 24 hours a day downloading hour after hour of music, film and television, legally or otherwise. Once you start using considerably more than your Provider's "fair amount" then you'll get charged, and in some cases you'll be charged quite a considerable amount. But the reality is that the majority of us will ever even touch on that limit, let alone exceed it.

How does this apply to gas, water, and electric? Simple. You can apply the same code to these utilities as you can to movies, TV and music dowloads. You know damn well that if you have a bath every day you'll feel great and be clean. But you know it will use a lot of water. So you shower twice a day, because the media tell you everyone around you thinks you stink of shit or B.O. And all winter you have the central heating on, warming those underarm germs, heatin' up the ol' crotch bacteria. So you keep buying into the stinky hype, and you keep using that precious energy.

And then they bump the price up 35% again because we're running out of oil. Again.

Stop showering twice a day. Wear a nice warm sweater around the house instead of a teeshirt and the heating cranked to 30. You will notice in next to no time that A) You don't actually stink, and B) Your utility bills will go down a significant amount. In short time you'll then realize that you can reduce your energy use even further by getting food out of the freezer in the morning to defrost for the evening meal, rather than nuking it in the microwave every day. You'll boil your veg in less water. You'll use that water in your stock. You'll use rainwater for the plants, instead of running it from the tap. You'll buy more fresh veg. You may even, shock horror, think about growing your own.

It's amazing, once you realize you have been paying through the nose for something, how quickly you can adapt. So while none of the utility companies will introduce their own pre-determined fair usage policies, those amongst us that aren't yet that bothered about rising costs will soon find those that are bothered about more than just costs are defining fair usage policy, and redefining the way we live our lives and the way we're beholden to corporations out to skim profits to the shareholders in the easiest way possible: metering us and artificially raising fuel prices.

I'm not saying we will all do it. But I am saying that those of us that enjoy the finer things in life but don't have a huge income will soon learn that you can still enjoy cool things like PCs, nights out on the town, overseas vacations and suchlike, while still having a positive impact on the environment, just by adjusting your attitude to what you use in the home. And we could do it. Because historically speaking we've never really been as beholden to the massively rich in our daily lives as we have today. I don't see it as a trend we're likely to tolerate for another fifty years.

You never know, we might even get our public utilitites back in that time. But I won't be holding my breath. Not at 88.

Thursday, 14 May 2009

Politicians Conning Us? And We're Shocked?

It doesn't seem that long ago that we, as one nation, were up in arms about the revelation that our politicians have sex with people that aren't their spouses. Then it got really gross when it was disclosed that John Major had been shagging Edwina Currie. I can handle our politicians banging high class hookers and snorting lines off the tits of ex-models, but doing each other? There's something just not right there, especially when you look at the pair involved...

In my time on this earth, it has seemed not a week has gone by that someone in a position of power has done something wrong. I'm not talking about the political opinion type wrong, of going to war instead of healing the sick, or an open door policy on immigration instead of encouraging people into key skills training the country needs. I'm talking about the bungs, the backhanders, the deals and the spin. The bullshit.

Now it has come to light that the men and women that make decisions on our tax-paying behalf are taking a few extra cuts here and there, in the form of their expenses claims. We've had one using expenses to pay to have a moat around his mansion cleaned. Another spent £400 on a workman to change lightbulbs, and even one spending £300+ on horse manure. All of this paid for by the taxpayer, no less.

Well I'm not surprised. And frankly, I don't care either.

You see, what we seem to have forgotten in all this is that these people also have their wages paid by the tax payer. What we've also seemed to forget is that if we, the workers, put in an expenses claim, then that product or service then becomes the property of our employer. Since technically we're their employers, you have to ask yourself: Do I want £300 worth of manure or a nasty big trench around my house? Because I bloody well don't.

We pay their wages. We pay their wages, and they make decisions for us. Decisions like not paying our nurses very much at all for doing possibly the most heartbreaking, tiresome, exhausting and valuable job there is. Decisions such as sending young men and women off to die in a pointless, fruitless, heartless foreign war, but without actually sending them there with the equipment they desperately need to do that job effectively, be it killing or cooking. Decisions, it must be noted, such as deciding their own wage increases, consistently above those of the armed forces, emergency services, health services and council service staff.

All the while, almost all are shareholders of some company you can bet your last penny of this moneygeddon they have a finger in the pie of.

So why are we suddenly so bothered about these expenses claims? In fact, are we that bothered? Or are we, once again, being told we're bothered by newspapers continuously losing circulation to the 24-hour news channels and tinternet? Do we really think that this new revelation about "Whitehall Sleaze" is new phenomena? In the big scheme of things, we're talking about people who not only earn in excess of £80,000 a year, but have by dint of their occupation a licence to adapt laws to suit their needs, and claim things based on their need to be at the centre of the nation's political machine: London.

I really don't care that they've been bending the rules. We licence them to do this simply by appointed them as watchdogs of themselves and each other. We like to think we live in a democracy because we (sometimes) vote these buggers in and out. But the problem with government is that no sooner have you voted a government out, another one steps up - at our instigation and expense - to take its place. And no matter what we wish of them, they always always get the last laugh.

We're morons, you and I, because we read about it, get angry about it, and do nothing about it.

Possibly because that would be, like, y'know, terrorism.

Fuck freedom. We don't deserve it.

Tuesday, 12 May 2009

Britain: Statistically A Nation Of Paedophiles

I know I'm not an easy going person. I know this because pretty much every day I turn on the news in the morning and find an item that pisses me off pretty easily. I come home and browse the internet for news, and the same is true. I don't know about anyone else, but I have iGoogle as my homepage, with the BBC website as my main feed for news items. Let's have a look and see what it presents for my reading pleasure right now, shall we?

"Appalled" Cameron Leads Payback.
Exam Pupils Hurt In Duct Collapse
Man Admits Jersey Care Home Abuse
UK Jobles Total Hits 2.2 Million
Father Accused Of Daughter Murder

Wow. Not what you might call good news or light reading. But what is encouraging about these stories is that not one of them - initially, at least - is a dire warning of how many paedophiles are lurking on our street corners and watching our schools through binoculars from seedy bedsits. Which seems to be what the adults of Britain seem to think is the case.

I say this based on a brief debate at my Nana's 94th birthday party, this weekend just gone. Don't get me wrong, it in no way went so deep as to spoil the event, but it did leave me with a sour feeling in my stomach that people in this day and age really are led more by what they see on TV and read in the tabloids than is actually evidenced by the world around them. Because if you would believe what no less that four grown men and women (all the plus side of fifty) believe then the reality is that there is a paedophile on every street corner in Britian. So let's look at that figure in detail.

According to recent statistics, the population of Great Britain stands at approximately 61,610,000. If you take into account that the average street has less than 100 properties on it, that translates to at least 616,100 streets. But then you have to consider that there are lots of little cul de sac's of just 10 or 20 houses, so you can adjust that figure to closer to 800,000. Now consider how many streets cross other streets, and you are left with t-junctions, crossroads, roundabouts and triangles that put the potential number of corners in Britain at in excess of 1,700,000. That's not even including junctions at major roundabouts and motorway sliproads!

So, at that ratio you have an adult population of approximately 40,000,000 with 1,700,000 street corners. That's almost 24 adults for every street corner in Britain. For just one of those adults to be an active paedophile you have to discount the seriously disabled, those serving in the armed forces overseas, and those in hospital or prison. So let's drop that figure another 10% and say 21ish. Factor in that I'm not a paedophile, you, the reader, isn't a paedophile, and you can probably, for the sake of my sketchy mathematics, round the figure down to 20.

That's right. 1 person out of the 20 for each corner must be a paedophile. This is quite a frightening statistic. This means that when you're watching a premier league football match, there are at least 2 paedophiles potentially on the pitch, in excess of 7 of them in the stewarding and concessions staff, and (at a Manchester United game) 3810 in the stands, watching the game. That's up to 3819 paedophiles attending a football match in Britain at any one time.

Oh the plus side, when those 3819 paedophiles are at the game, your kids are a small but significant percentage safer on the streets. Of course, you could make them even safer by not letting them near corners.

I'm joking about this, of course. But it's just like the ridiculous statistics that the press throw at us every day in their attempt to keep us ill-informed and stupid. They're meaningless unless put into context. I'm not going to stop my kid going out to play with a group of friends because there's the potential that there might be a paedophile at some point between my house and the park. Especially when you factor in even more tiresome stats that have the press salivating, like "30% of all victims of sex crimes are known to their attacker". Surely that would mean that if I was with 19 people from our road, standing on a corner, regardless of which one is a paedophile, there are 5 people likely to try and bum me at some point.

Even the women.

The point my family were trying to make, to drag this rant back to it's origins, is that 7 years old is too young for a kid to be playing with other kids in the street or on the park. And this horrified me not because they really felt that, but because I remember going to the park with my friends when I lived in Breaston, which made me no more than 6 years old. They even argued how times had changed, and had I wanted to press the issue I could definitely have cited examples from current press paranoia that adults have been fucking kids since before I was born, regardless of what the percentage was back then. Probably still high enough to fill a Division 3 stadium on a Tuesday night, I'd wager.

The fact is that that kids in packs are unlikely to become the target of paedophiles. My 7-year old traipsing off to the park with his mates puts him in no greater physical danger than he is in while he's at a football match, or in a shopping centre with us. If so great a percentage of kids are abused by someone they know, that means of the easy 100+ people we know, statistically someone would definitely physically harm him. But had I suggested that of the 5 people at the table berating me for letting him go off with his friends aged 6 to 13, that statistically one of them had the potential to violate him, they would probably never have spoken to me again.

We live in a society where we are encouraged, despite the evidence, to trust our public officials, civil servants and journalists, while actively discouraged from trusting our friends and our neighbours, our families and our community. We are told on the news that our kids lives are at risk at every step, interrupted every 17 minutes with advertisements telling us to fill them with saturated fats, sugars, and chemicals, or how they should all focus on greed and want, indoors, in front of the TV. If this is how we want our children to play in this day and age, then my wonder is more that if kids are so at risk of paedophiles on the streets, where are the paedophiles all going to go when no kids play outside at all?

You'll not be seeing my kids at Cub Scouts or Brownies, let alone school.

Wednesday, 6 May 2009

Shout "Fire!" Watch Them Scurry.

We had a fire. I blogged about it on Monday. Although, in retrospect, calling it a fire doesn't seem quite right, but to call it a "lengthy smoulder" undervalues the damage it did to our household psychologically. So let's stick with "fire".

The culprit in this incident, it transpires after a visit by an engineer from the manufacturer, is not technically the cooker. Nor is it the gas burner under the oven that's a fraction of an inch above the floor and has been conntinually heating the floorboards since we bought the oven 5 years ago. Heating them so severely, in fact, that they resulted in the charring that was visible in the photo I posted.

Anway, onto the engineer visit itself. My wife contacted the manufacturer first thing yesterday morning. They said they'd get an engineer out to look at it on Monday the 11th. And for all the stress she'd had the day before, and the restless night of wondering if there was invisible smouldering taking place under the floor, she accepted this arrangement and called me to let me know. Which she did with such a resigned tone that I didn't go "Fucking what? What the fuck do we cook on until then???".

Instead, I said I'd ring them myself and try to get something a bit earlier. Which I did. Calmly. I explained that I thought, considering the nature of the complaint that waiting a week for an engineer to come and examine a faulty gas appliance that was our only source of cooking our food might be considered a little less than an appropriate timeframe for dealing with the issue. I also suggested that both the Trading Standards office and the Fire Investigation Services (the latter whom I'd already spoken to) would probably agree with me. They said they'd see what they could do.

They phoned me later. "We'll have an engineer out to you tomorrow, Mr Henderson. Between 10 and 12."

And d'you know what? He was at our house at 11.30, and the missis was delighted that not only was he very candid about the flaw (sic) but immediately arranged for a new cooker to be delivered that would be okay on a hardwood floor, then examined the old cooker to make sure that the grill and hob could still be used in the meantime. Which they can.

As a postscript to all this, the London Fire Investigation Service have a case file on our specific model of cooker, which is being dealt with by the Trading Standards Office. You can - should I reveal the make and model - go online and read a few other horror stories of the cooker. And out of all this it turns out the cooker was designed only to be used on a stone/concrete/ceramic surface. They knew it would burn wooden floors but neglected to tell the marketing and sales people.

Or perhaps they did, and, as I suspect, they forgot. Or didn't care.

The thing is though, I did mention in no uncertain terms when I was talking to Trading Standards, that my issue is not just with getting the cooker replaced and the floor fixed. I am more concerned that there are other cookers out there that may be stood on a nice stone floor now, that will end up in a few years time as a 2nd hand item in a working class suburb on an old wooden floor, with the owner ignorant of the danger, and the trading standards law no longer applicable (as it expires 6 years after purchase) to give that family any legal rights if their home is damaged.

I worry that had I let my dejected missis go with the flow and accept the late visit of the engineer and the initial lack of help from the Trading Standards enquiry office, that not much would have happened. It's a fact of this recent event that until I actually mentioned phrases like "risk of serious injury", "potential death trap" and "loss of life" that it seemed anyone other than the London F.I.S took the issue seriously.

If you don't poke these businesses with a theoretical big sharp stick, they will sit on their hands and offer nothing but empty platitudes. And to point the finger of probable blame one more time: click here.

Monday, 4 May 2009

The Black Day That Is Jedi Day

Since I first heard the pun in the late 80s, I have always made a point of remembering May 4th. I don't know exactly when people started referring to it as Jedi Day (and I've read that for some reason people also say it's May 25th), but I still like to randomly tell someone "May the fourth be with you" on this most special of special baby-jesus-beating days. And it does. Jediism is way more plausible and relevent than Christianity.

But that's not what I'm blogging about. I'm blogging about The Dark Side of the Fourth. Like, today marks the 30th anniversary of the dawn of Thatcherism. Yep, 30 years ago today, tired of unions with too much power and a government with too little control of the econo
my, we saw our parents surrender their votes to the Conservatives, and unwittingly to a style of government and economics that we are paying the price for even now. In one generation we surrendered rights, controls, and many more subtle systems that we thought didn't work, and placed British life firmly in the hands of people out to make as big a profit as possible, with no regard for the working man at all.

You may think this is just the socialist in me saying this, and you may be right (wing). But the evidence is all there. Our taxes no longer adequately subsidize public transport, our roads are in the worst state I think they've ever been, and the public utilities no lo
nger represent anything like value for money unless you're a shareholder or you're employed at management level by them. Nowadays the working man who would once have got the bus to work can honestly say it's more efficient on his pocket to get in the car and sit in a traffic jam for an hour.

Oh the "plus" side of Thatcherism, of course, there is the advantage that it became much easier for us poor low wage earners to buy crap we don't really need. Never had it been as easy to be offered credit, and of course we didn't really care that we were all paying about an extra 75% for what we'd bought, because now we didn't need to save for the crap
. Why rent your telly for a fiver a month, when you can get a deal on a better TV and a VHS for only 50% more of that amount over the next five years? Why save for a new Austin Princess when you can get it on HP and end up paying the price of a Jaguar XJ6 for a car that looks like a slice of cheese and drives like a pissed seal on thawing ice? Why rent when you can own a home? Why buy what you need when you can get what you want on the never-never?

Of course, I'm as guilty as anyone else in all this. I have 2 maxed-out credit cards, and an overdraft limit that's regularly exceeded. But then I'm also lucky in that those debts are readily manageable and don't affect my ability to keep a roof over my head. But for thousands of others, now the bubble has burst, it's suddenly all got a bit tricky. The banks have looked at the money they've loaned out to us plebs, and they've decided there's no more to be lent, despite the obvio
us fact that those of us that are borrowing from them are not only paying them back, but paying them back with interest and statutory charges aplenty. Oh they have money alright. Pots of it.

Had we had a genuine Labour Party for the last, ooh, let's say 8 years, I have no doubt we would not be in the mess we're in now. Sure, our taxes would be higher, but the restrictions on lending, and corporate responsibility would have been been aimed to protect society as a whole, rather than to maximize shareholder profit and squeeze as much out of the common man as the advertizing campaigners and the marketing gurus could manage.

If you think I'm wrong, well then you really don't know the basics of socialism, and you should probably stop watching Schwarzenegger movies.

On a final black note, we had a fire in the kitchen today. It was under the oven, and most definitely one which could, had it not been detected early, have resulted in the house burning down.
At first it just smelled like someone was having a BBQ because we could smell something like burning wood. Oh how little we did know.

However, once my wife had dished up dinner and turned the oven off, it became clear there was smoke coming from the oven itself. Perturbed, she sprayed cold water into it, just in case it was some food that had got lodged in there somewhere, and was now charring, possibly damaging the oven itself, at a time when we simply don't have the cash to be worrying about having to fork out for new appliances.

To cut a long story short, we ended up spraying the entire interior of the oven with a fine mist to determine that the smoke was in fact not from the pipes or burners of the oven at all. Once it cooled down we moved it away from the wall and were greeted with the disturbing (and still smouldering) image seen above. I am not one to panic, but I will admit I was immediately struck with a nausea so sudden, I did physically struggle to keep my dinner down. An immediate call to the insurance company was no great help, and tomorrow we contact the manufacturer, because it may be that this life-threatening fault is something we should have been made aware of some time ago. Trust me, I won't be letting this pass by.

For the record, the oven was bought on credit. And guess what? We just finished paying for the fucking thing. Thanks, Mrs. Thatcher.

Saturday, 2 May 2009

Pornify Your Cruftiness

I don't know how it came to be, but somehow, about a year ago, someone directed me to a link about poodle art in the USA. Now, I don't know about anyone else who's read this far, but to me the whole concept of "poodle art" boiled down to people wtih the curly haired pseudo-canine breed displayed in soppy, dreary, kitsch watercolour, oil, photo and possibly even pasta form.

Alas. No. There are more like this. There are the racehorses. And the sheep. There are the goats, the hippies, the pirates, the businessmen, and the Simpsons. Amazingly of all there is the... tart.

When I first saw this picture I laughed. But on reading a little further it became clear my laughter was not only justified but taken a level further. Because someone somewhere decided that this dog should not only not be a potential winner in the already fucked-up realm of poodle art, but somehow constituted a travesty of human existence and accepted moral codes.

Yes, this dog constituted something that while technically within the boundaries of screwy mentalist obsessive dog ownership, also constituted something far worse. This dog suggested that there was a sexual nature to the way that people think about how they enter the competition. There was the suggestion that while imagination is clearly an essential component in the competition, using your imagination in a purely fun and ridiculous manner might not be the end of things. No, there might be something more sinister.

It has been suggested, believe it or not, that the image above is, and I quote, "the sexualization of the imagery of competitive canine art."

Yep, someone, somewhere, looked at this picture and thought "You know, looking at this dog, I can see how someone can imagine a genuinely sexual nature to it, and therefore it's not fitting for our compeition."

Which means, however you look at it, that someone looked at this dog and thought "Someone, somewhere, is going to look at this dog dressed as a French Lady of the Night, and want to fuck it. Which begs the question:

"If you think about people fucking dogs, how much of that time is spent thinking about people fucking dogs dressed up as other things?"

Okay, there is something certainly sexy about the cliché of the French Tart. But there is nothing sexy about the poodle. Combining the two is no more sexy than trying to imagine, say, Britney Spears giving you a blowjob if her mouth has been repaced by a belt sander. Or if you're a woman reading this: imagine a dildo made of scouring pads and our beards.

What you are left with, then, is a competition where rather than look at a dog and think "Hahaha! The owner is inventive and has a ludicrous imagination!" someone actually thought "At some level, this dog is worth fucking, whatever the price." And that's what's wrong with the picture, more than anything else. While those of us looking at the pic, and indeed reading the blog now will know, what we have here is a dog made up to look daft for the sake of comedy and the fun of the competition. What the twisted and the genuinely corrupted will see is something of a genuine, humourless, immoral nature. And it's those people you want to worry about when you pick your kids up from school. Because if they can think about the sexual nature of pets, who knows what they think about your letterbox while you're taking your kids to school.

Yeah, you thought I was going to go in a different direction then, didn't you?

Monday, 27 April 2009

A Police State? Not Out Here In The Sticks.

I found out this morning than someone had broken into my car and stolen my stereo and the missis's satnav. This was particularly annoying as the satnav and stereo fascia were in the glovebox, which has a lock that's broken shut. I also thought they'd stolen Luke's hockey puck (which I'd thought to be on the back seat, but he'd moved it) and his mp3 player. The mp3 later turned up stuck to the underside of his booster seat: our untidiness paid off.

What was initially more annoying was that it has been slinging it down since the small hours, and the thief had broken my rear quarterlight to get to the rear window handle, leaving that window rolled down for the rain to flow in through. I had a missing (and recently purchased) stereo, a bollocking-in-waiting from the missis, and a saturated back seat. Oh, and to cap it all off my boss told me I had to sort out the aftermath of this on my own time, which under the circumstances was a bit shit considering the weather/day.

So I set off down to Belper police station. One mission: report the theft to get my crime reference number that the insurance company will insist on before taking any action at all. But when I got to the station, the place was in near darkness. At 9.40am. Confused, I rang the bell which alerts those inside to a presence outside. After easily 2-3 minutes I was finally noticed by what I can only assume by her age and clothing was a cleaner, who buzzed me in. And before I could say a word, she yelled over to me, "We don't open for another 15 minutes!"

I stood there with my mouth hanging open like I'd just had the lethal injection.

Not open... gone 9 o'clock in the morning.

"You aren't joking..." I said, half question half shocked statement.

"No, but you can sit there and wait if you like." She replied, still in an unnecessarily loud and almost accusatory tone in the bleak cavern of 70s bad design.

I just stood and shook my head. "This is what our taxes pay for?" I said as I retreated.

Now livid, I set off for work. Once in the area, I rang the missis and told her what'd happened. Yep, she was pissed about her satnav, but it only took a few moments for her to realize that I was actually quite annoyed at the whole sorry situation, not just about the hardware missing. She said she'd arrange things with the cops, and with that I left her to do just that: get an officer to come down and take a statement and issue a reference number for my insurance. I was a bit aggrieved that she arranged for him to come down for 3.30pm, but I thought "fuck it". My boss had already made it clear this was to be done all in my time, and I was to make the time up, so I finished at 3.15, with an extra hour to do tomorrow.

As I drove along the A515 later that morning- as part of my job - I was in an area where I knew there was a roadside fitting I needed access to (on the water main, for those who don't know what I do) so I was driving about 20mph in a 40mph zone keeping my eyes peeled for the marker posts that show where the fittings are. All of a sudden, in my side mirror I'm aware of a police 4x4 with his blues on, flashing me. So I pull over, as you do. But rather than pull in behind me, he bizarrely pulls alongside me. So I wind my window down...

"You know you're not supposed to stop on double white lines?" He says, stern-faced.

Now bearing in mind the day I've had so far involves a police station with no police in it and working out in torrential rain, I am in no mood to take any shit from a yokel copper on a Monday morning mission to find some paperwork to do rather than actually solve a crime (or whatever it is they get paid to do these days). So I looked at him and said "I had no intention of stopping here. You stopped me."

He stared a moment and then just said "Are you looking for somewhere?"

"I'm on mobile works mate. Water company."

"Oh. Just remember you can't stop on double white lines."

And with that, he drove off, still with his lights flashing away. I sat for a moment, gobsmacked at what had just transpired. Had I imagined it? Was he making a point about good road safety practice? If so, why didn't he put his lights on after the lines? I swear what I actually experienced was just a bored yokel with precisely fuck all else to do with his time. 30 yards down the road I found the valve I was looking for...

And that brings me to home time. I was back home for just after 3.45. The arrangement was now (don't get me started...) for the cop to come around at 5. At 5.30 I got pissed off waiting and started dinner. And, perhaps fittingly for the day, by 8.30 I figured he wasn't going to come, and that now might be the time to go cover the broken window and secure the car. Because I'd left it as it was, as requested and as time permitted, because they were apparently coming to take fingerprints.

£10 says not one print is lifted from either my car or the one that was also done with the exact same MO, the same night, two streets over.

So to finish my rant, let me just assure those of you who have seen the spectacle that is the British police force embarrass itself for the last few weeks on TVs all across the globe:


For it to be a police state, you would have to have a level of ruthless competence across the board: dilligent officers on the trail of the ne'er-do-wells, the hardcore criminals, the organized gangs, the seedy and the twisted. You would need officers on the beat, patrolling the tough neighbourhoods. You would need presence, and persistence, and most of all you would need respect.

British policing does not have, and does not deserve, that last and most important thing. What we have here is a sprawling bureaucracy of camera-based observation, part-time civilian staffed stations, poorly trained "community support officers" who, I will remind anyone reading this, allowed a young child to drown last year because it was too much of a risk to wade into the pond and help him, and worst of all: that typical Conservative attitude that might makes right, and that they are civil masters rather than civil servants.

I had hoped as I got older I would begin to soften in my opinion of the police of this country, but it seems not much has changed since I began forming my opinion during the miners strike in the early 80s. They're not a case of a few bad apples in the barrel, spoiling the overall impression. They're a bad barrel. And you can't get any apples out unless it's gone 10am.

Thursday, 23 April 2009

I'd Rather Celebrate Something English...

I've been accused in the past of being unpatriotic. This is fair enough by me. I'm never quite sure what it is people mean when they say they're patriotic. On the one hand I know patriotic British lads with tattoos of the Union Flag who don't know what a Union Jack actually is, and I've even known patriots who use the phrase "Ain't no black in da Union Jack" who are blissfully unaware that there is, in fact, occasion for there to be black in the Union Jack. On the other hand I know people with no outward sign of Englishness who can tell you who was King of England in 1216, or who introduced the first standardized English system of measurement. In short, it's the twattish, nationalist, right-wing bullshit patriotism that has led to the accusations of me not being a patriot.

I do not celebrate Saint George's Day. The reasons for this are quite simple. I like dragons. And other things that don't exist, but not God. So I have no real reason to pay any attention to the legend of a chap from Palestine who never came to this country, foisted on my homeland by a Church I suspect appointed Patron Saints in the same manner that the Meteorological Office predicts weather: blindfolded, throwing darts at a board. In a recent poll, 13% of Brits thought St. George was only Patron Saint of England, not about another dozen countries. Yep, that's how much the English know about their beloved St. George...

To me, this new bugbear so many of my countrymen have about St. George's Day seems to be wholly based on the American obsession with St. Patricks Day. It's not so much that the English want to commemorate the life of St. George, they just want an excuse to get pissed and have another day off work. Which is fair enough except, when have us English ever really needed a
reason to have a day off and drink? To the best of my working-over-half-my-life knowledge, the answer is: never!

If we need an excuse (and the tabloids tell us we do, of course) then why not discard the outmoded notion of a Saint Day, and sink a few brews to someone who is of genuine significance to England, our history, and our future? This country doesn't need religion - of any kind - and I'd prefer to take a look at the great and the good of this land as a reason to celebrate. Why not Sir Winston Churchill? How about Lord Nelson? Or, to move away from warfare, how about George Stephenson or Isambard Kingdom Brunel? How about Wat Tyler? Bobby Moore? There are so many legendary English historical figures that mean so much more to this land and how it's developed, I'm just grabbing a few that stand out as still in some way marketable as folks whose lives we could genuinely put on a pedestal and say, without fear of contradiction: "Here is a life that made England great. Here is a life that speaks volumes of the ingenuity of our people. Here is a legend you can be proud of. With no made up stuff about dragons."

So whether you think me a patriot or not, just take the time to think about the value of St. George's Day, and then look around the rest of the world, how they celebrate their Saint Day, and then look again at those names I listed, and what they contributed to how England is perceived. Positively.

In all honesty I'd do away with all Saints Days, and if we want an extra day's holiday each year let's all (and I mean everyone, everywhere) have Armistice Day off. What better excuse to get pissed than the end of war?