What a Platt!

Well, thanks very much to John Platt from the Isle of Wight for taking up so much public money over his little tantrum. In case you missed it, he’s the loving daddy who pulled his daughter out of school for an incredibly important and crucial visit – to Disney World.

OK – I get it! Holidays are more expensive when the schools are off, but that’s just basic supply and demand. It does not give every parent the right to regard their child’s schooling as if it’s a bargain bucket from KFC, to be provided on demand and according to their whim. Schools do not and cannot work that way. At least the Supreme Court saw sense and realised that to rule otherwise than against Le Platt would be grossly unfair to the overwhelming majority of parents who stick to the rules and that it would create absolute wretched anarchy in our already rather chaotic schools.

Most parents faced with a fine would have just coughed up. We’re only talking 120 quid, which equates to about one day’s lunch at Disney, but there seems to be some streak of melodramatic masochism in Platt by which he wants to be seen as the victim. The drivel he came out with as he bad-temperedly commented on the Court’s determination was intellectually offensive.

He claimed that this judgement was about taking away the rights of parents to make decisions about their own children. He claimed that even being a minute late for school would be a criminal offence. What a load of bollocks! It’s neither of those things. It’s about safeguarding the rights of children to education – the single most important thing we can give them – as enshrined in Rab Butler’s Act.

Headteacher’s must always have discretion to allow children time away from school where it is merited, but the circumstances should always be exceptional. Meeting Mickey Bloody Mouse at low season prices does not meet that threshold.

Have some pride, man! Admit you screwed up, pay the fine and don’t be so bloody stupid in future.

Chump’s Major Misfire

I apologise if this blog is becoming something of a Trump-baiting exercise, but it is major-league scary that this highly ignorant and bigoted man is President. It should concern the whole world.

The Chump’s latest executive order is causing mayhem at ports across the USA and the rest of the world as people already identified as suitable to be landed there are refused boarding to aircraft or worse, they are refused entry and detained. The Governor of Washington has today issued a damning statement accusing the Chump administration of gross incompetence. Personally I think he was quite restrained and should have said “crass, blinkered, pig-ignorant and bigoted gross incompetence”.

The fact is that, popular or not, the Chump’s policy just will not work. Clearly it is a crowd-pleaser to show that he is being tough on terrorism, but it’s nett effect in that direction will amount to two fifths of five eighths of fuck all. Blanket banning muslims will only catch the people who are prepared to play by the rules. As with his wall, the policy is completely misconceived and wrongly aimed, and its detrimental effects outweigh by a country mile any limited benefits. The ones who will do you real harm won’t be travelling through JFK on a properly stamped Iranian passport!

Not like the brazen giant of Greek fame,
With conquering limbs astride from land to land;
Here at our sea-washed, sunset gates shall stand
A mighty woman with a torch, whose flame
Is the imprisoned lightning, and her name
Mother of Exiles. From her beacon-hand
Glows world-wide welcome; her mild eyes command
The air-bridged harbor that twin cities frame.
“Keep, ancient lands, your storied pomp!” cries she
With silent lips. “Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”

Rather these days “I turn the light off outside the orange door”.

A pointless vote …

Later this year we and our fellow residents of Surrey are going to be asked a rather foolish question by Surrey County Council – namely whether we want our council tax bills to rise by about 15%.

Personally, I took all of 20 nano-seconds to make my decision – and that’s before I’ve heard any of the “arguments” in favour of this absolutely mahoosive tax hike. My wages haven’t gone up by 15% so why am I being expected to cough up more? Besides which this is a Tory council, backed by a Tory MP with a Tory government. Whatever happened to the mantra that Tory candidates have spouted for generations – that the Tories are fiscally responsible and can be trusted to provide ever better public services for ever lower costs? Bilge then as it is still bilge, as way back when in the days of the unlamented poll tax they just fiddled the grant system to make places like Wandsworth and Westminster look like they were efficient. But I am getting rather a lot of schadenfreude from watching local Tories squirm about having to do the very thing of which they have been so critical for so long.

For all that, what exactly would we get for another £200 a year? Well, there’s access to the fire service, which I haven’t needed in the last 58 years, but I concede should be a publicly funded service. We don’t have any kids, so haven’t had call on the education service for several decades. We both have several computers and e-readers, so we haven’t used a library in nearly twenty years. There’s roads, I suppose, but given the pothole-ridden, dilapidated state that many of our roads are in you’d be forgiven for wondering where all the money went.

The proposed hike needs to go to a referendum following a change in the law in 2011. Judging by the online poll launched by the Sorry Error it’s not likely to succeed – to date 671 responses with 87% against the rise. Can we just take it as read and save the money?

President Chump

This might annoy some of my American friends, but it’s been a very sad week over the pond.

Much has been, and will continue to be, said about the permatanned oompa loompa now ensconced in 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. Perhaps we’ve been spoilt over the last eight years. Whatever you might think of Obama’s policy, you have to concede that he’s done it with style and class. I dread to think what the glossies are going to make of things if the Donald decides to impose his own distinct, and decidedly tacky, style on the White House. Of all the advice he might have been given over the years, “less is more” is definitely not something he ever understood.

More worrying than Chump having all the decorating taste of Liberace on smack is that he also has the emotional range of a hormonal teenager. Never more than about fifty feet away from him from now on will be the military aide carrying what is called the Presidential Emergency Satchel. Now, contrary to mischievous opinion, this doesn’t contain a tin of self-bronzer and a syringe of botox for Melania, but the wherewithal to blow half the planet to buggery and back. This is now in the hands of a man so immature that he acts like a playground bully.

Probably part of this emotional instability is just the inevitable result of having surrounded himself for years with yes-persons and an inability to adjust to interaction with people he can’t fire. Clearly, and worrying, the good ole USofA now has a President who would cheerfully tear up the First Amendment if he could get away with it. Alec Baldwin has had his meal ticket stamped for the next four years, or until Chump gets bored, has a heart attack or is impeached, but listen carefully for the sound of teddy bears being thrown around the Oval Office.

Yodelling Crap

We suffer, in the UK, from some of the worst customer service in the western world.

I leave aside the running sore of the Southern rail shitstorm to tell you the tale of two companies.

Firstly, there’s Virgin Media – a largely well run organisation which has been providing me with telephones and internet very efficiently for many years. So much so that I recently decided to get an upgrade of our mobile phones.  At this point I should have reminded myself that part of the judgement on a company should be based on the contractors they employ.

Why the hell does Virgin use Yodel?

The process of upgrading was relatively painless and we were assured that the phones would be delivered the following day. Waited in ALL day, watching the tracking links on Yodel’s website. Got to 9.17pm and the status suddenly changed from “Out for delivery” to “Sorry we missed you. We left a card”.

Now, I don’t mind so much that they didn’t deliver yesterday, although it is disappointing and somewhat of an insult when you don’t get what’s been promised. No, what really pisses me off is that Yodel lied about what had happened.

They first claimed that the driver tried to deliver, but we were out so they left a card. This is not true. I was at home waiting for them at the time. No-one called and no card was left, which means that I can’t even arrange to go and collect it!

I challenged Yodel on this through their online chat facility only to be told that the driver had reported that he had not been able to find my house – in 2016, with a satnav built into every mobile phone?. If I lived at the end of a dirt track on Exmoor they should still be able to find me. But I live on a well-known, well-lit road, so I don’t accept that pathetic excuse for an excuse for one moment.

Utter codswallop! And it confirmed that Yodel were telling porkies – if they couldn’t find the place how could they leave a card! Clearly the driver had got to the end of his shift and had four deliveries that weren’t  done.

Now, if Yodel had admitted all this, apologised and arranged for us to be the first deliveries today I would not have a problem with them. As it is, they lied and we are again today at the end of another long queue of deliveries with no guarantee that they won’t do the same damned thing again.

Katie Ghose

News report today saying that the Electoral Reform Society has done some analysis of what people think of the referendum campaign. Katie Ghose, who is to opinion polling what Katie Hopkins is to diplomacy, has said that people think they weren’t given enough information.

Darling Heart, they always trot out that platitude!

Katie has called for the next referendum campaign to be six months long. Just pause for a moment and imagine that – HALF A FRIGGING YEAR!

Will someone please neuter this witch and sew her gob shut.

10 Cloverfield Lane

Watched this last night and I’m sorry to say that it didn’t even register on the scale of One to Meh.

What a colossal waste of opportunity. I was surprised to see that JJ Abrams produced this pap, because he is capable of much better.

This COULD have been a seriously good psycho-thriller, but it was thrown away by a rather lacklustre script and a piece of hopeless miscasting. (It’s almost impossible to take threats of being dunked into a barrel of acid very seriously when they’re being delivered in the voice of Sulley Sullivan. Someone like Ralph Fiennes would have played the part with much more menace.)

That aside, the script failed to take advantage of the situation and raise any serious level of angst – the only minor shock being when Sulley shoots Emmett, something, frankly, that I’d been wanting to do for half an hour!

And would it not have been more dramatic if there hadn’t been the woman or the dead pigs outside? That Michelle completely disbelieves the story, escapes and then has a single, but massive “Oh,Shit!” moment? Instead it dribbled away into nothingness as if the sequel has already been written.

 

Goodbye, Yerp?

So, ‘tis the morning after the night before and we have a result. It isn’t exactly a ringing endorsement, but breakfast will be a sombre meal in Downing Street where it will be regarded as the worst of all possible outcomes.

Cameron took us into this expensive, divisive and damaging referendum for purely party political purposes. He’d hoped for a massive vote for remaining in the EU as that was the only way he could silence the Euro-Sceptic wing of his own party and effectively neuter UKIP.  Nothing short of at least 60/40 in favour of remain would have done that and in the early stages he must have thought he was on to a winner. Only very late in this bruising and hurtful campaign did it occur to him that the public didn’t altogether share his rose-tinted view of Europe!

Where do we go from here?

Leave has won, but not by a very big margin. The outcome of the referendum is not binding on Parliament, so don’t expect anyone to invoke Article 50 any time soon. More than likely that things will be fudged to the effect that because the majority was so small Parliament must make the decision. UKIP will stay with us, but making much more noise.

Stand by for lots and LOTS of legal challenges. Oh, and expect resignations!

Poisonous Politics

It’s now over half a century since I was involved in my first ever political campaign. (In case you’re interested, it was stuffing envelopes for my father’s efforts to get elected to the local council.) I’ve been quite an active campaigner over the years, less keen to do so in recent years as politics in the UK has become steadily more fractious.

The referendum campaign has finally killed off what was left of my enthusiasm for politics.

Firstly, there are all the lies and scaremongering that has been going on – from BOTH sides.  Some of it has been so far off the wall that it can only come from a political class so far out of touch with the people that they think we can’t see through their charlantry. They must hold us in such contempt.

The atmosphere is now poisonous. What should be reasoned, polite Continue reading Poisonous Politics

Bring Back BR

I admit that today I gave up!

I don’t exactly live out in the sticks, but then again, my local station isn’t the Clapham Junction of Surrey. It does, however, have the complete misfortune to be “served” by Southern Railway.

During the peak rush hour between 7.30 and 8.30am there are supposed to be five trains heading into London. I arrived for my usual one at 7.45 only to find that it had been cancelled, as had the 7.30 and the 8.15. The 7.54 was still on the board, but then that got cancelled as well. That left the 8.26 – all five coaches of it!

I didn’t have a very good night’s sleep. I’m getting over a cold and that, coupled with the emphysema, kept me up coughing for quite a bit of it. I also don’t breath very well when under stress or in humid conditions, so I decided to call in and take the day off.

Now, I wish that I could say that Southern’s piss-poor performance Continue reading Bring Back BR

Middle Aged Middle Class Ranting

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