I can’t find a logical difference

What do you call it when a group of people on small boats attempt to board and gain control of a larger boat on the high seas? If it happens off the east coast of Africa, or around Indonesia, it’s called piracy, and the international community goes apeshit about it, deploying warships and having complicated legal wrangling parties to try and figure out the correct place to try the pirates.

If it happens off the Arctic coast of Russia, they just seem to go for a simpler approach.

Greenpeace has called on Russia to release a ship seized in the Arctic with 30 activists on board.

The Russian coastguard is towing the ship towards the city of Murmansk, a journey expected to take several days.

Four of the Greenpeace activists had tried to board a Gazprom oil rig on Wednesday, to protest against drilling.

Russia accused Greenpeace of violating an exclusion zone around the rig, but the group said its ship was in international waters.

“The safety of our activists remains our top priority and we are working hard to establish what is facing them,” said Ben Ayliffe, head of Greenpeace International’s Arctic oil campaign.

“They have done nothing to warrant this level of aggression and have been entirely peaceful throughout,” he said.

I would argue with that, Mr Ayliffe; if your activists had been trying to board a vessel without permission (and they did, for they promoted the fact and even brought along video) then they were carrying out an act of violence. And they should have known that the Russians, not a nation known for restraint when people mess about with their interests, would have little time for your silly crusades. These are the people who locked up a music group because they were mean about the president, remember – they’re hardly likely to give a shit about the feelings of a group of eco-nutters with more time and money than sense.

I really dislike the Russian way of doing things, most of the time. But this time I find myself quietly amused.

The right response, in a long winded way

Some might expect me to be talking about the Lewisham hospital shenanigans, wherein one branch of the state has sued another branch of the state to ensure that the state keeps spending money it hasn’t got on things that need to be shaken up. Yes, I think that Lewisham should be kept open, for both selfish (it’s my closest hospital) and non-selfish (IMO, it’s clinically better than the one that was to be saved at Lewisham’s expense) reasons. But I disagree fundamentally with the idea that the courts were the place to sort this, and I almost hope that the decision is overturned on appeal, because the precedent is very very nasty.

But this post isn’t about that; this post is about a local pub’s shenanigans.

The background from last November was this: the owner of a building in Catford wanted to end the lease of their tenant (a successful and popular bar) and turn it into flats and a shop. The tenants didn’t like this at all (fair enough), and created a bit of a public fuss (again, fair enough) and campaigned for the council to block any change of use for the building (bloody out of order). This then worked, because there’s nothing Lewisham council like more than extending their business into places where it shouldn’t be, for e.g. what a property owner chooses to use his business premises for. So the owner was left with a building that could only be used as a pub because the tenants convinced the council to make it so.

This displeased me, and I wrote about it last year:

The landlord is now left with a building that can’t be anything but a pub. But the tenants in it are clearly a bunch of twats. So what I’d do in his position is get rid of the tenants and bring in new ones to run a pub.

Fast forward to this week:

THE Catford Bridge Tavern pub – saved from being turned into a supermarket and later voted the best in south east London – is being sold off.

Company Antic say the landlord has agreed to sell the building to another pub company.

Max Alderman from Antic said: “The building was always for sale and we were trying to buy it.

“We thought we had an agreement but the landlord has decided to sell it to someone else.”

Fair play to the landlord, I think. Because if it was me, the last person I’d sell it to would be the one who bullied me by bringing the state to the argument and lowering the value of the property.

I’m sad to see what was by all accounts a brilliant pub have to shut. But I’m not sad to see the people who took the steps they did lose out in the end.

Entirely predictable

So, Thatcher is dead. And arseholes, up and down the country, are being arseholes about it. From random street parties, to lots of people on ye olde Twitter and Facebook celebrating, there are a lot of people who are showing that time hasn’t healed old wounds.

And the thing I like about it is that most of them are showing that they’ve successfully failed to notice that the last twenty years happened.

They’re still insisting on acting like breaking the over-powerful unions is an issue. It isn’t. They needed to be broken, they were broken, and we’ve all moved on.

They’re still insisting that nationalised companies are good ideas, and they’re generally doing so while using phones and internet connections that never would have happened had the GPO still been in charge.

They’re still insisting that the state should be propping up failed industry, but don’t seem to have figured on what the entrance of pseudo-communist business practices from China would have done to any labour-intensive heavy industry in this part of the world.

Of course, the thing that I most like about it is that a lot of the things that they blame Thatcher for aren’t actually anything to do with her. These things were to do with the world changing at the same time as she was in power. They’re upset that the world moved on from their silly ideals, and they can’t get past the fact that those silly ideas are now exposed to the ridicule they deserve. They still witter on about how Marx would have done X and how they’re looking forward to being able to piss on Thatcher’s grave, not noticing that even Marx’s grave is pretty secure from people who detest him.

In short: their hatred and bile reflects two things. Anger at losing, and anger at everyone knowing they lost.

(Well, maybe a third thing: that hatred learned young survives a long time.)

An unexpected turn of events

Yesterday morning, I had a plan. I had the next few days mapped out.

  1. Normal day until about lunchtime, then a particularly challenging bit of work. Leave work at an earlyish time.
  2. Meet up with TLW in That There London, have a bite to eat, go to see a new musical that various people had raved about.
  3. Head home and get as much sleep as possible.
  4. Wake up early, get to Heathrow and get on a plane to New York to enjoy a nice break. This break would include attending a bar that opens at 9am on a Sunday just to watch the Ireland / England 6 Nations game.
  5. Home in good time for a relaxed return to work on Thursday of next week.

I thought this was a nice plan. It certainly felt nice to me, and we were both looking forward to steps 2, 3, 4 & 5. Life, however, decided that it would be having none of it. What occurred was more like this:

  1. Bloody busy day, resulting in delays, the particularly challenging bit of work being knocked back to next week, and getting out later than I’d like.
  2. The meeting up working fine; the meal working fine. But the musical was very, very, very wank. The word ‘wank’ does not come close to describing just how wank this piece of wank was.
  3. Heading home, we got an email from our airline apologising for their reservation centre being closed. This was confusing enough that we went digging and found out about the small matter of a little snow and hundreds of flights being cancelled. This is not a good recipe for a decent nights sleep.
  4. Waking up early to phone the reservation centre to be told that the only flight they could put us on would result in our break being 48 hours long, in total, for the same price as the 96 hour break we’d book. Next step: cancelling airline booking, hotel, currency exchange and airport parking. Next step: declaring the whole effort a write off and fucking off with TLW to London Zoo to look at animals.
  5. Plan for the rest of the weekend: watch rugby, and then cancel leave and return to work on Monday.

The real life set of circumstances did not match up to the plan at all. And London Zoo, while alright, is pretty quiet on a Friday in February. So half the exhibits are temporary while the main ones are being rebuilt, and all the fun animals are hiding inside. Oh well.

Time to plan another holiday, I think…

Turning back the clock

Yesterday, TLW & I joined a couple of dozen thousand people and had a little walk to a park, in aid of a very good cause. That cause being trying to stop the closure of a local, and pretty decent, hospital to prop up the finances of another almost local, and thoroughly shite, hospital.

My reasons for supporting this are simple:

  1. I would trust the local hospital with my life and the lives of those near and dear to me, based upon what I’ve seen of them and what I’ve hear about them. I would trust the other hospital with neither, and would happily sit bleeding on a train for half an hour to get to another hospital just to avoid a ten minute trip to the A&E there.
  2. The reason that this closure is being considered is that the almost-local hospital needs more business thrown at it to fund the PFI contract that built it – but that’s already been tried, three years ago, and it evidently didn’t work.

However, a great many other people who were there annoyed me to the point that I almost changed my mind. Amongst them the local Unison convener (apparently you can never trust a tory with the NHS, never mind that it was Labour who (a) bankrupted the country, (b) thought up this particular gem of a PFI contract and (c) already tried rearranging the local hospitals to fund said PFI, failing absolutely); the head of the FBU (who really wants us to go back to the heady days of the 1980s and solidarity thatcher bastards bullshit) and the local Labour MP (failed to mention anything about why this particular bunch of bankruptcy happened).

But my particular favorite wasn’t one of the main speakers, like those mentioned above. No, it was a charming gentleman who had set up a PA on his bike, and was saying that there was a better way that we all could live without these tory cunts, and that it was being shown to work in Venezuela! Yay, we can Fight Racism! Fight Imperialism! just like they do with the dear Mr Chavez. I had a read through their newspaper, and was shocked to find that apparently the murder of a prison officer in Norn Iron recently was to be applauded as he was clearly a nasty imperialist; how the situation in Syria is clearly another British imperialist plot; how the progressive immigration policy of Cuba was going to destroy the United States. Oh, and how it is a shame that housing projects begun under the previous and benevolent Gaddafi-led government in Libya are not yet finished…

I’ll be honest, it’s even worse tripe than was to be found in the Socialist Worker Student Society back in the day, and that’s saying something.

It’s a shame – this hospital campaign is a sensible one. And of the 15 – 25,000 people who were there on Saturday, there’s probably only a few dozen who think like this. But by fuck, they were among the loudest there, and people were listening.

(Anyway – ignore the twats: Save Lewisham A&E.)

I usually don’t complain about these lot, but…

There is a general theme amongst many of those condemned to use SouthEastern that they are totally useless; for examples of this I would urge the reader to have a look at the #southeastern hashtag on any given day, especially during the morning or evening rush.

I tend not to join in with this abuse, despite some of it being really amusing and being about a topic that I tend to get annoyed about myself. And this is why: there are a great many reasons why southeastern are the way they are, and only some of them are their fault. Many are the fault of Network Rail; many are the fault of whoever decided that the network to the south of London didn’t need overhead line electrification and could stick with the third rail; and some are the fault of the governments that ‘privatised’ without giving people any incentive to invest, any room to innovate, or even the opportunity to buy the damn rolling stock. Essentially, southeastern are stuck with a railway built on Victorian underpinnings, with the constant threat of the government taking away their franchise, and with ever increasing demand. What chance do they have of doing things properly?

Today, however, in the midst of snowmageddon ’13, I came to share in some of the hatred.

This morning was bad enough; there’d been no fresh snow for about six hours when I tried to board my usual train, only to find that it was cancelled. Happily, I managed to get the very last standing space on the very last carriage of a train going in the right direction – albeit one that was already an hour late. This mystery train stopped at such exotic (and fairly pointless) places as New Cross, Lewisham and St Johns, instead of bypassing them as the good Lord intended. Due to the previous day’s snow, the end result was me being late to work by around 40 minutes. Not the end of the world, but not pleasant. At least the driver of the train explained what was happening and tried to add a bit of humanity to the journey.

Given how the rails looked during the day, I then decided I’d try to be smart; I’d fuck off early and do a chunk of work from home in the afternoon. A brilliant plan, I’m sure you’ll agree.

And like any plan, it failed to survive first contact with the enemy:
2013-01-21 14.45.58

And here’s where I started to really dislike the southeastern operation. We live in a world with computers, and screens, and mobile apps, and drivers having mobile telephones. How, then did southeastern decide to run London Bridge? By letting all the passengers gather on the platforms, give them nothing to go by on the screens, and then randomly shout destinations and platform numbers at them and see how quickly people could run.

Passengers for the Dartford via Greenwich line, please move to platform one where a train will take you to Cannon Street, where I’m told a train might be leaving along that line soon…

Passengers for all stations to Sidcup, please be aware that there is a train for that line currently awaiting departure from Charing Cross.
Passengers for all stations to Sidcup, please be aware that there is now no scheduled service to that line for the next while as the train at Charing Cross is now a Gravesend service…

Passengers for Greenwich via Deptford, the train about to leave platform one is for you…

Each of these trains probably costs seven figures. Each of the drivers is on a decent salary. Could we not work out some fecking way of investing £99 in the cabin of each so that if the Network Rail infrastructure goes down, at least the drive could send a damn message to the stations on the route so that they can tell people what’s going where?

Also: the snow that fell probably amounted to 5 or 6 inches. Whyfor with the panic?

At lease someone liked it:2013-01-21 15.42.38

And now, the end has come

Last month, I wrote a bit about a campaign to make the landlord of a local pub keep it open.

Said campaign succeeded in some of its aims, and the council put a stop to any plans to put a shop in the premises. But the campaign really failed, because the current management of the pub were then unceremoniously told to shut the doors by the landlord anyway.

Here’s another one of those moments where I put myself at odds to the conventional wisdom of the area: in this, I’m with the landlord.

The landlord owns the building, and one of his tenants has organised the council to tell him what he can do with said building. It’s not really an interesting building, so there’s no justification for listing it. Other than the people who don’t own it don’t like with the owner wants to do with it. So these tenants have used the bullying of the state to reduce the value of the property for their own selfish aims.

The landlord is now left with a building that can’t be anything but a pub. But the tenants in it are clearly a bunch of twats. So what I’d do in his position is get rid of the tenants and bring in new ones to run a pub.

It’s a shame; Antic (the company that managed the pub, and were credited with turning it around) seemed like a decent bunch of people, and they’d done good work with several pubs nearby. I’m really not inclined to go and spend money in any of their other pubs now.

Sad tendencies

It is a simple fact that areas like the one I live in a a very deep red on any electoral map; in my particular part of London the only competition that Labour have is from the left (from a group whose name is so stupid I can’t even bring myself to type it). And that means that the general refrain once anything happens is that one arm of the state should ride to the rescue.

Case in point: a nearby pub is apparently under threat of closure; apparently the landlord has applied for planning permission to turn it into flats. Which is a crying shame, in my opinion – the area needs more decent pubs.

So I’m all for saving it. But what pisses me off is the way that people are talking about trying to save it: from local blogs, to the local MP, to the current people who run the pub, they’re all doing the same thing. Demanding that the council stop any planning application to change the use of the building. Hell, the main information page for the campaign lists seven ways that people can apparently help. In order, they are:

  1. Email the council planning office
  2. Email the local MP
  3. Email the local mayor
  4. Sign the petition (to be sent to the council planning office)
  5. Email the local paper
  6. Write to the landlord
  7. Email the campaign with some support

Seven ways to help, and four of them are directly trying to get the state to stop the landlord having any say over how he uses his property. Only the fifth is really a sensible way to go about it: try and convince the landlord to keep the pub in place. Or, even better, get the people that run the pub to make a sensible offer and bloody buy the place off him…

You wanna think it through a bit more, Dr Hume?

How’s this for a fantastic brainfart: ignore geography in independence referenda.

Well, that’s not what he thinks he’s saying, but it’s what it amounts to.

People with an Ulster Scots background should be allowed to vote in Scotland’s independence referendum, a senior Orange Order member has said.

Dr David Hume said Ulster Scots had played a key role in Scottish history.

“We are stakeholders as well. Surely a decision such as this should not ignore our input?” he said.

So, anyone who decides they should be a stakeholder should be given a vote in the future Scottish independence referendum. What of other referenda in the future? What, say, the of the eleventy billion US citizens who claim Irish descent and would likely vote to get rid of the border? Or even the dozens of millions of English citizens who would rapidly vote to be rid of both bothersome celtic lands?

Or is it just people from outside the countries in question who’d vote in favour of keeping the Union that should be given these special votes?

Confusing ideals and ideas

There’s a lovely little article on the BBC about American thoughts on income inequality, that clearly thinks that its definition of a better world is very very clever and solves every problem.

“a just society is a society that if you knew everything about it, you’d be willing to enter it in a random place”. And it’s really a beautiful definition.

He called it a veil of ignorance, because if you’re very wealthy, you might want the wealthy people to have lots of money and the poor to have very little; and if you are very poor, you might want the poor to have more money and the wealthy to have less.

But in Rawls’ definition, you don’t know where you’ll end up, you have to consider all the different options and therefore you have to think about what is good for society as a whole.

Oh, that is very clever. It’s basically saying that the only just distribution is one where everything is quite level and everyone has the same, because using the theory of a veil of ignorance, the only way for people to be happy is for there to be no difference in what each part of the distribution has.

Of course, it fails to take a great many things into account. Human nature for one; the simple concepts of risk and reward for another.

It says that ‘even’ lots of Americans want things to be equal and fair. What it doesn’t say is that ‘even’ Americans realise that there is absolutely no way to combine such a place and reality. And pretending otherwise is just fucking stupid.

But it sounds fair, and beneficial, and well meaning. And it has the advantage of making people who argue against it appear to be unfair, and malicious, and all round evil. When really people who point out that it’s stupid are just like the little kid, pointing out that the new clothes are suspiciously light on ‘existence’…

How opinions change

When I was but a young thing, there were issues with the first couple of iterations of the NI Assembly, to the point that it kept collapsing. During this period, I thought that it was a crying shame; we went from having a dozen local ministers covering things to having three direct rule ministers; clearly they weren’t going to do as good a job, and NIreland would suffer.

A few years later, and things are somewhat different to my way of thinking. Clearly for a country the size of NIreland, it’s over-governed with three ministers, let alone the dozen local ones. Especially when the three local ones are drawn from the same quality pool as these jackasses.

The chief executive of Translink has been criticised for not appearing before Stormont’s regional development committee.

On Wednesday, the committee discussed the issue of Translink’s offer of a pay rise of 24% to its train drivers.

Committee chairman Jimmy Spratt said he did not think it was “a hardship for someone on £200,000″ to appear before it and “explain what’s going on”.

SDLP assembly member John Dallat said he was disappointed at Ms Mason’s non-appearance, and added that he could have been meeting the prime minister on Wednesday.

“Anyone who puts a family commitment before appearing at this committee needs to consider their position,” he added.

Mr O’Neill said that he was confident about Translink’s business case for the pay offer and that it could fund it.

However, Independent MLA David McNarry said Translink should be wary of assuming the pay offer would get “royal assent” or that the committee would “unanimously endorse” it.

Which one there is the most silly fecker?

  • John Dallat – for assuming that there is no possible family explanation that would be more important than a bunch of committee fools in a jumped up talking shop. Which is more important – delivering a report to Stormont, or any number of things that someone’s family demands of them?
  • David McNarry – for thinking that any employee contract negotiation requires “royal assent”. It’d be a pretty sorry state of affairs if it was required. Politicians should only really be involved in a single salary negotiation, and even then in a limited way: their own. And they should definitely be required to justify that salary to the people they represent. For example, Mr McNarry should be justifying why he’s worth £43k in salary and £67k in expenses for his office…

It’s sometimes striking to me just how quickly and completely my opinions can change. Clearly local democracy is a good thing, but too much of it can really get stupid very very quickly.

Bloody weather

It would appear that Thames Water and the authorities in general have caught onto the simple fact that this year does not count as drought. A little chart from Diamond Geezer illustrates the problem quite succinctly.

  • March: lifted from diamondgeezer.blogspot.com
  • April: lifted from diamondgeezer.blogspot.com
  • May: lifted from diamondgeezer.blogspot.com
  • June:lifted from diamondgeezer.blogspot.com
  • July: lifted from diamondgeezer.blogspot.com

If I could be arsed, I’d also overlay those calendars with another set – ones that show weekends that I was here and able to do anything. If I had such an overlay, I’d be able to show a nice, simple fact: I’ve not had a day at home where it was dry all day since the middle of May. Meaning that the lawn didn’t get cut between May and last weekend.

Funnily enough, the mixture of heat and water did our lawn no end of good, if by good you mean “encouraging uncontrolled growth”. By the time I got time and weather to do it, it was eighteen inches tall. Too tall for our piddling electric lawnmower, and too thick for our piddling electric strimmer.

So I ended up doing something bloody annoying: cutting the damn lawn with shears. On a boiling hot day. And constantly finding little surprises that Roxy had left in the tufts of grass, which were particularly foul smelling.

I think that it may be time to invest in either a concrete back yard, or a decent lawnmower. Or invisible option (c) – a flamethrower…

Holiday time!

Last weekend, as we’ve done several times before,TLW & I went on a jaunt to Jersey. Lots of lounging about was done, and quite a lot of eating, and a fair bit of drinking. I read The Long Earth, and found it to be good. I spent a lot of time playing with our host’s bullmastiff, and found it to be a most excellent dog; it makes our dog look (a) tiny and (b) insane in comparison.

I also found that the curse of Jersey has struck again: I went, I walked on the beach for no more than an hour or two, and I became a tomato; bright red and squidgy. My ability to burn in the sun is pretty impressive, although I’d rather that it wasn’t. As has happened (in Jersey) in the past, I was supplied with after-sun cream, and proceeded to slather it with reckless abandon. Without reading the instructions. Which was a shame – if I’d read the instructions I’d have noticed that this particular after-sun offered to enhance one’s natural tan while minimising the effects of sunburn. I.e., it was basically a moisturising lotion with fake tanning effects.

In short: I look bloody ridiculous. I’m currently hoping that my skin gets on with it and peels soon. So that this stupid red / orange face goes away.

He’s a stupid, stupid man…

That Jimmy Carr fella, ain’t he a prize chump? When faced with the public finding out that he was doing something perfectly legal to keep his hands on his money, he did something silly.

He pretended that he’d done something wrong.

What he should have said is this: what kind of an idiot pays more tax than they need to? Seriously, why would you? Why would you not minimise the amount of your money that is taken by force by the state?

We all do it to some extent; we put money in pensions rather than in bank accounts because it’s tax deductible. We buy stuff at duty free when we can. We take advantage of VAT changes where possible. ISAs exist because the state realises that many people won’t save unless the state lets them off paying tax to do so. We put in claims for tax deductions on uniforms and the like.

We all do what little we can to stop our money being taken from us. Are we so hypocritical that it’s suddenly different when someone only pays tax on £100,000; i.e., he only contributes dozens of thousands of pounds?

The answer is, of course, that we are hypocritical. We are holding double standards; these people aren’t doing anything more than we would do if we could, it’s just that they have the money to do it better.

Obviously, hypocrisy is another reason that Carr is in trouble, what with him professing to be a standard big-state lefty. But I’ve known that about him for a while…

Random overhearings

A good many years ago, through a fairly random set of circumstances, I was in the strange position of being able to overhear the Pope conversing with a group of Cardinals. Not in a private way or anything, but in a forum where they got to share their thoughts and he got to nod knowingly. Most of the speakers were in foreign, of course, and my understanding was poor. However one spoke in English; and in my opinion he spoke out of his ass. The world must be set to rights, the rich are blighters, the sentiment was straight out of the rampant SWP playbook. It was not, to my mind, the area of focus that a leading churchman should have been concerned about at that time, nor did it strike me as being particularly wise.

In entirely unrelated news, some NIrish dude who lives in Scotland has come out with similar nonsense.

In a BBC Scotland interview, he [Cardinal Keith O’Brien] said: “My message to David Cameron, as the head of our government, is to seriously think again about this Robin Hood tax, the tax to help the poor by taking a little bit from the rich.

“The poor have suffered tremendously from the financial disasters of recent years and nothing, really, has been done by the very rich people to help them.

He is, of course, absolutely right. Honest. He’s not talking out of his ass; he’s not talking about class warfare and outright theft; he’s not ignoring the simple facts about the sheer amount of money that the rich pay in tax; he’s not parroting the standard line about the rich not pulling their weight while ignoring the Robin Hood taxes which already exist (high stamp duty – paid exclusively by the rich; death duties which only the rich pay; the 45% tax rate which is added to by NI to take real tax rates over 56%).

Oh wait, he is doing all those things. Which, I suppose, means he must be wrong…

That’s not a calculator

Every year when the Budget comes along, the web is taken over with high quality calculators, which are fun and let you know exactly how badly you’re going to get screwed come the new tax year. It’s not a pleasant thing to know, but it is useful.

So I was intrigued to see that your mate and mine, Ken Livingstone, had brought out a calculator of his own. Being a curious sort, I went and had a little look. And what I found was not a calculator but a slogan generator. Admit to travelling by train and you get told Every fare payer can save an average £250 every year for four years through Ken’s 7% fares reduction pledge. Admit that your household pays energy bills and you are reassured You can save an average of £120 every year for four years through the all-London bulk energy purchase scheme.

Here’s the thing: I don’t believe that first slogan – the idea that an ambitious politician like Boris Johnson is sitting on a billion pound pot going into an election and has increased fares instead is ludicrous. And I don’t credit that second one either; I’m too much of a free-marketer to think that a state sponsored buying group is anything other than a bad idea. In short, it’s not a calculator. And I don’t believe it’s just a slogan generator – it’s a bullshit generator.

That said, I don’t think that any of the candidates are much use. Just that each and every one of them are more use than Ken.


There once was a time when BBC Northern Ireland had a serious job to do; they did some really dangerous investigations and uncovered some really important stories. But now that peace is pretty well established and the culture of secrecy surrounding many nasty things has been defeated, what is a small public service broadcaster to do?

Stunningly, their latest revelation is this: buying in bulk saves you money.

Except, being the BBC, they got it arse about tit: Cold reality for poorest households.

The Northern Ireland Assembly has been told that a growing number of households have no choice but to purchase 20 litre drums of oil that are significantly more expensive per litre than buying in bulk.

BBC’s consumer correspondent Martin Cassidy has been calculating what that means at today’s home heating oil prices.

The comparison shows a yawning gap in annual heating costs.

Not surprisingly the household relying on buying its heating oil in 20 litre drums is paying a lot more for fuel.

No, really? Buying fuel in amounts that is massively less efficient in packaging, transportation and general all round effort per liter is more expensive than buying a large proportion of a truckload? And this is a bad thing?

Dear BBC: find something real to get angry about. Please.


Yesterday, as you may know, there was a fairly large (pointless strike. It didn’t seem to have the desired effect; the country struggled on and lots of people lost a days pay. The world continued to turn.

But you’d think that such a thing would still be the main news item on the national news, wouldn’t you. And it is, generally. The BBC front page is all about it; as are the local stations and the grown-up BBC radio stations.

Not so Newsbeat on Radio1. No, news-for-spanners has spent the time concentrating instead on calls for state regulation of hairdressers

Priorities are brilliant there, guys. Plus, state regulation of non-essential industries is to be filed under NOT ON YOUR FUCKING NELLIE. We don’t want a licensing system for hairdressers; it’s the first step towards government control of scissors and nobody wants that…

Pointless comments

Seeing as how I’ve been writing nonsense to these pages for eight years, it’d be extremely stupid of me to say that writing comments on t’internet was not actually that useful. It’d be just silly for me to denounce campaigning Facebook status updates as pointless, and good for no more than letting you know who to ignore.

But I’m going to say both of those things anyway.

The current pointless comment that’s doing the rounds is as follows:

Remember when Teachers, Policemen, Police staff,Ambulance staff, Nurses, Midwives, Doctors and Fireman crashed the stock market, wiped out banks, took billions in bonuses and paid no tax? No, me neither. Please copy and paste to status for 24 hours to show your support against the government’s latest attack on pensions and public sector workers

See what it does? It lets people show support without doing anything, and it does this by supporting a completely nonsensical statement. I don’t remember things like that statement, y’see. I remember all of us working in the public sector being happy to take pay rises and very generous pensions on the back of taxes paid by the rich and the (now loathed) banking sector. I remember the country borrowing money even when the economy was booming.

I remember those good times, and I recognise that they’re gone. And no amount of fatuous statuses will bring them back.

Why the jubilation?

So, the Jackson death trial. There’s something about it that just sits very wrongly with me.

It’s not the verdict; I can see why it was so. It’s not the media, for you can count on them to be fucktards given the slightest opportunity. It’s not the prosecutors, for much the same reason.

It’s the complete loons outside, who were dancing in the street and announcing that “justice had been done”. No, it hasn’t. The wheels of the justice system have turned, and someone who is probably guilty of being bloody stupid has been caught and punished for it. But that’s not the same as justice; justice would be getting all the people who surrounded Jackson, who were catering to his every whim, who put him in a place of being in terrible pain and having to prepare for a show that clearly he wasn’t capable of doing. Justice would be letting the world know the cost of being a media creature for your entire life, and trying to stop it happening again.

Justice, in fact, would be demystifying the poor man. And getting the nutters on the street to move on. But they’re not going to dance to celebrate that, are they?