Friday, 30 April 2010

Money

We need it, we love it, we worship it. But sometimes, you got to think, why?

But when there is a full plate of food on the table, the thought processes are pretty quick.

Got the P60 for last year yesterday and was shocked to see how much I actually earned.

And the fact that I have so little to show for it, I am shocked to see how much I have spent too!

Thursday, 29 April 2010

Oh yes it is an election (5) - #bigotedwoman

The Twitter Results. Far more important than the actual news that our glorious PM has called a potential voter a bigot.

On a day that a fellow member of the European Member is on its way to bankruptcy, we, in the middle of an election fight decide to brush over our pitiful economy and decide to look at Uncle Gordon bury his head in shame over a spat.

If anything, he should be ashamed of his economic record. That's a third of my life that will be spent paying back what you have destroyed.

Not that the other candidates are any better with their solutions. And you want to try and guess the turnout this year?

Wednesday, 28 April 2010

Oh yes it is an election (4) - Hung!

Election campaigns are dull affairs.

Stats.

Lots of them.

Lies.

All of them.

Babies being kissed.

Oh the vomit inducing hilarity of it all!

But this campaign is different. It is interesting. And for good reason. The unpredictability of the event.

The Hung Parliament.

I am hoping for a Hung Parliament.

Normally the economy would dominate the debate. But this time it is also different. With our deficit, we know that whoever gets into power will raise taxes and cut services. It is going to happen, no one party can avoid it.

So instead we, the electorate have concentrated our fury on something else.

The Banking Crisis.

'They do not get it.'

That is the phrase most often quoted when we think of our Lords and Masters.

The bulk of us would have preferred to see those rotten bankers go bankrupt.

Unfortunately, none of the political parties would have let that happen.

So we have one more bugbear that we the electorate want to vote against.

The Expenses Scandal.

And this is where we can make a difference.

Not because on political party is more blameless than the other, they are all at it.

But because we can produce a Hung Parliament.

We have had enough, as a people. And the one thing that we want to do is to f**k up the system as much as possible. Pervertedly, we want a Hung Parliament, we do not think that one ruling party has the right to Lord it over us for the next five years. In fact, it is time they started listening to us a whole lot more.

Will it happen? The listening part that is?

Tuesday, 27 April 2010

Privatising to Madness?

I really do not care who runs something, whether it is the state or a private company. But there is some weirdness in exactly what and how we own and run in the UK.

Firstly, Arriva, visible in London as one of the largest operators of London's bus services, is to be taken over by Deutsche Bahn. Nothing wrong with that, except that the company comes under state control again. The German state. Germany runs a brilliant (and fairly cheap) railway system under public control, but our privatised system is expensive and for the money we pay, crap.

Secondly, we are sooooooooo skint as a country, we are now going to privatise our bridges and tunnels to help pay off our national debt. Wow, so instead of getting new industries to increasetax revenues, we just flog off the last dregs from the bottom of the pan. While in the short term, it can help with the trouble we are in what do we do the next time national debt overwhelms the UK?

Enough politics, I am going to enjoy the sunshine today...

Friday, 23 April 2010

Oh yes, it is an election (3) - Slurs

The best one this week came from the Daily Mail. The irony is that the proprietor of the newspaper during WWII (and the great-grandfather of the current proprietor) gave Hitler the thumbs up for invading Czechoslovakia.

But the other one that I loved was the hell that has been predicted if a Hung Parliament is the result.

An election is a time for crap to fly around the press. Just type in election 2010 uk into google and you will see the fun being spouted. In a way the internet is a great tool in this election Everything from the loony left to the lunatics themselves can be seen online. Take a look, take a peek and maybe I and a few more peple might vote on May 6th...

Thursday, 22 April 2010

Corporate Wash

I love corporations. Big companies that are designed to make money, any way they know how. But there is often a guilt trip about doing so, making obscene profits while many of us minions have little on our plates. SO companies have to be seen to bedoing good:

McDOnalds is probably the best of the lot. Let us be honest, they sell garbage for us to eat. Useful at a pinch (especially when you have dysentery), but awful food.

They are not the only other ones to paint a rosy picture of their companies.

BAA the owner and operator of the UK's longest queues tells us about how airports can be good for the environment. The UK's branch of Walmart also does the same. Anywhere you go, companies are at it, highlighting the amount of things they do to raise cash for good causes, how they do not harm the environment. How they help local communities. Thrilling stuff, like watching paint dry, and filled with holes in logic, but not in facts.

Now I am no socialist pussy. Capitalism is bar far the best 'system' that we humans have adapted up until this point. But there is a reason for all this corporate ranting.

GOldman Sachs.

The government sponsored bonus payer.

Evil? Agents of Satan? Bad Boys? Who knows?

To be honest, most people in the world do not have a clue what these guys do. But they reach into every aspect of our lives. Record levels of government debt, increased wealth divide, general f-ups. While we cannot blame these guys for everything, remember, they are only human. And just like the rest of us, their necks will snap like a twig if you apply pressure at the right point...

Wednesday, 21 April 2010

Crossings of the River Thames 29 - The Rotherhithe Tunnel

There are numerous tunnels throughout London. In fact, due to the nature of the city's urban landscape, tunnels are an essential feature of the Capital. From the world famous tube to the building of the Channel Tunnel rail link and more, tunnels are essential to the movement of people throughout the city.

To the east of Tower Bridge there are no more bridges until Dartford, way beyond the Greater London border and the confines of this blog. In other words, the remainder of this series will be filled with tunnels and ferries.

But onto the Rotherhithe Tunnel, and to the first of the three tunnels that I will visit on this tour of the River Thames.



Now, this tunnel does not have the historic significance of the nearby Thames Tunnel, nor does it have the traffic reports of the Blackwall Tunnel, but there is one significant fact to note about the Rotherhithe tunnel. It is the only mixed mode crossing underneath the Thames. Every tunnel under the River Thames allows only one form of traffic, be it foot traffic or road traffic or rail traffic. But the Rotherhithe Tunnel is the only crossing UNDER the Thames where there are two forms of traffic. Road traffic and pedestrians. And this is significant as it puts the tunnel on my list of crossings to visit!

(question: Is this could be the only tunnel in the UK where pedestrians are free to wander with cars?)



Yes, I actually did walk through the entire length of this tunnel. From Limehouse on the north bank to Rotherhithe on the south bank of the river. And before you enter the tunnel (on either side) you will encounter these large cast iron rings, acting as gateways to the tunnel. These are spares from the lining of the tunnel wall. These spare shields not only act as ceremonial gateways but as a useful guard against tall vehicles trying to force their way through the river at this point.



Not many people decide to walk through the tunnel. According to TfL, only 20 pedestrians attempt the crossing. And for good reason. The stench! There is no ventilation in the Rotherhithe tunnel, and at just over a mile long the fumes from cars are intoxicating. One thing, I suffer for this blog, for your pleasure. The one mile walk is horrific, but it is not the first time I have attempted to do so. Back in 2005, during the 7/7 bombings, I was stranded on the wrong side of the river. With no public transport, there was only one way to get home, and that was by the Rotherhithe Tunnel. Thankfully in these more peaceful times, I was not stopped by the police for taking photographs in the Rotherhithe Tunnel. Nor could I resist a bit of tagging to illustrate what my lungs would look like once I emerged into the light...



(Oh yes, that's real soot there, lining the walls of the tunnel and my lungs).

But, I did not want to linger for very long. You see, the police do not have to whisk their overpaid arses to get me out of the tunnel. The danger of asphyxiation was more pressing, so onward I went, under the river towards Rotherhithe and fresh air. Who ever thought that such an unholy place in South London would be associated with the replenishment of my own personal oxygen levels!



The Rotherhithe Tunnel is weird. Oh, let us be honest, virtually every crossing in London is weird, and the Rotherhithe is no exception to this rule. It has some of the most severe restrictions on road users in the city (only Albert Bridge is as poxy to car drivers), yet, its virtue of being one of the few crossing points east of Tower Bridge means that it has the importance of being a Red Route. Its narrow roadway means that the official speed limit is a mere 20mph, yet this is frequently broken by Londoners great and good. The lack of space, the lack of escape routes and the volume of traffic makes the Rotherhithe Tunnel the tenth most dangerous tunnel in Europe. All the more surprising that pedestrians are still allowed to walk through the tunnel. Take advantage of it while you can (and if you have a death wish). One day, the humble walker will be banned from this very funky piece of London...



A little bit of history for you dear reader, lifted from the great and good of wikipedia. Believe it or not, this is London's third youngest fixed crossing point in this series (after the Millennium Bridge and the Woolwich Foot Tunnel), and although there have been upgrades and newer structures added to many crossing points along the River Thames, the Rotherhithe Tunnel was planned and added to the urban fabric well after most of London had been built up. This is (one of) the reason(s) why the tunnel sharply bends, as it had to avoid the docks that were located on either side of the river in this part of London. The docks have long since closed, and this area has changed much since its opening a hundred or so years ago. However, the Rotherhithe Tunnel still resonates with activity. Horses have been replaced by vans, but Londoners will always be the same. In an almighty rush to get nowhere...

Getting there and away:

There are no longer any buses crossing the Rotherhithe Tunnel, with the 395 getting scrapped in 2006.

So if you find yourself on the North side of the river buses 15, 115, D3 and at night N15, N550 and N551 will take you to the northern portal of the Rotherhithe Tunnel, alongside Limehouse Station. (DLR/National Rail).

On the southern side of the river, bus routes 47, 188 (24 hour), 381, C10, P12 and night routes N47 and N381 will drop you to the tunnel entrance. Also, the soon to be reopened Rotherhithe Station (London Overground) will whisk you there, but that is another blog post away...

Tuesday, 20 April 2010

The Big Picture

Are we prepared to face it?

Britain is bankrupt.

The state spends far more than it earns, as there is not enough tax coming in and there are too many people employed by it.

So what is the big picture?

Is it a tax allowance for married couples (a few quid a week better off in the pocket), is it a 1% National Insurance increase (a few billion in the state kitty) or is it an efficiency drive in the public sector (a few more early retirements)?

Nobody wants to hear the following:

A possible 2pence in the pound increase in income tax in the next year (will drop after two years).

20% VAT (VAT on utilities will probably stay the same).

Fuel, Booze and Cigarette taxes massively hiked. Ditto for Airport Tax.

Huge cuts to all public services, including the Health Service, Schools and Policing (the last in the list, not necessarily a bad thing). We are looking at unemployment (in the short term) shooting up.

Interest Rates to shoot up (again, not necessarily a bad thing).

Despite the adverts, despite the slanging matches, no one is telling us what is going to happen to my pocket.

But, there are lots of 'Green Schemes' coming up in the pipeline, oh, and do not forget the latest fight against immigration. Oh, and the EU.

(Sigh).

Money, Cash, Wonga! That is all I care about. Who is going to leave my pocket in a better position, after we bankrupted ourselves propping up the financial sector?

Roll on May 6th...

Monday, 19 April 2010

Eating to Live

I live to eat. I enjoy food, I love shopping for it and I am a wizard in the kitchen.

But yesterday was one of those days, when I was far too busy to choose what and when I ate. Instead, I had to eat for fuel, just to keep awake. There is something dehumanising about it, being so busy that eating no longer becomes a pleasure but a bodily function.

Hopefully, those types of days will be few and far between...

Sunday, 18 April 2010

Busy...

I'm a lot busier today than I was yesterday.

And next week is going to be ridiculous.

Why?

Is it for duty?

Is it for love?

Is it for money?

Is it for something more...

Oh well, just another any milling around on the surface of London town.

But I got some time off coming soon.

Yey!

Saturday, 17 April 2010

Oh yes, it is an election (2) - How to make that choice

I may mock the candidates, but I certainly appreciate the fact that I can vote. It is a cliche to hear this, but many people have died so that I am able to write tat on a blog. It is a shame that I have never before exercised this right to vote, but this time round on May 6th, I am heading off to the polling booth and yes, I will cast my vote.

But you see, voting in an elections different to other choices. Usually, when you make a choice about something in your life, you go for something that you like. So, should I go for the fried, chicken, the donner kebab or the chow mein? But when you choose a politician to rule over you and fill his or her own pockets, you are not choosing for someone you like, but for someone that you hate the least. And that is what makes voting in an election so crap. The fact is that 99% of the candidates are scum.

So, which one do I hate the least...

Friday, 16 April 2010

The 'Volcanic' Sunset

Badly taken, and blurry as I was in a rush, but this is Sunset in Waddon (South London) yesterday.



London has the busiest airspace in the world, but take a look at radar screens over Europe. Note that that there is nothing flying over our heads. And living not a million miles from Heathrow, the skies above are noticeably quiet.

It is one of those freak events, but it shows that despite the fact that I live on a tiny island in the North Atlantic, this is an interconnected world. The eruption of the Eyjafjallajökull Volcano a god thousand miles away has sent ash into the atmosphere above our heads, meaning that planes most definitely should not fly. It is a bit of inconvenience, but it shows that despite our impressive technological skills, that we are still at the mercy of the elements.

But enjoy the sunsets for now - one advantage to the ash above our heads!

Thursday, 15 April 2010

I am a genius!

I have managed to fix up my laptop to a 1970's hi-fi.

I am a genius!

Marrying 21st technology with a 33 year old piece of electronics.

Officially, I am the greatest!

Yes...

Wednesday, 14 April 2010

Oh yes, it is an election (1) - Politics on the Box

Despite the low attendance in the polls, politics is an emotive issue in the UK. You see, we love to hate our elected representatives. On the one hand we are immensely proud of our political freedoms and on the other we absolutely hate the establishment that these politicians represent. Go figure, but on this small island, we definitely have some disjointed thinking.

So here are the party political broadcasts. Thankfully we here in the UK are spared the endless adverts that characterise an American campaign. Instead, we have five minute slots after the news on television. This is normally the time when the nation decides to make a cup of tea, but in this world of Video on Demand, youtube etc, we can now see party political broadcast in their entirety whenever we (don't) want to.

And so it begins, the great horse race. On television. Online. And ready for parody. I expect to see a lot of parodies of these videos, but that will be for another blog post.

So here they are. Firstly, the Conservatives. They are currently he opposition, but are favourites to win the election.



They have not kick started their videos/party political broadcasts yet, but these posters are everywhere in the marginal seats of London. And yeah. Not really that great. Name calling in the playground. To be honest, the Conservatives just have to sit back and let the Labour Party trip up, they could really steal this election. But posters like this bring back memories of the 1980's and the divisive politicking of that era. In my opinion, this kind of campaigning does not tell me, the floating voter what your policies are about.

The next vid, from the Labour Party, the current government and if there is a hung parliament, they will probably emerge as the largest party.



Okay, this is slick. I do not see a politician, I do not see glorification. I see something which actually reflects what is my own big fear. The economy. And let me say this is slick stuff. It almost convinces me. Almost. But 13 years is a long time, and I do not agree with the current economic set-up as basically I have not been benefited from it.

Finally come the Lib Dems. Again, they have not got their video out, but their leader did come on air to be interviewed by Jeremy Paxman (to non UK residents, he has a reputation as a fearsome interviewer). Unlike Cameron or Brown, Nick Clegg did have the balls to be interviewed for half an hour and to be honest, Paxman is an absolute savage.

Newsnight Interview on the BBC website.

Or here are the highlights on youtube:



Unlike the other political leaders, he was willing to come on air and have his policies and his statements scrutinised. No hiding behind jeering posters nor slick commercials. This was a simple: here I am this is our policies and this is what you are get if you vote for us.

And Clegg came out of this interview unscathed. In fact, he came out clearly explaining what he wants to do for the UK. An honest politician? Is this too scary a concept to contemplate...

Roll on May 6th...

Tuesday, 13 April 2010

Virtual Crap - Online Dating

So, with two weeks offline, and not blogging, what did I do? Well, amongst many things, I decided to prostitute myself online.

But it was a pile of crap.

So I am back to the 'real' world.

I'm back!

I've also been up to a lot of other things, fun and frolics and more importantly, earning money.

Life is getting busy, not in a good way. I am going senile...

But, this blog is back, form a well earned break!

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Oh yes, you would have noticed a new background to this blog. I got tired of pink...

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This is quite an underwhelming post for such an inauspicious return. Mmm, will this be the death of this blog? I do not know...

Tuesday, 6 April 2010

One month to go...UK Election 2010...

The most rotten of Parliaments is finally coming to an end. Good riddance to the lot, you fetid, stinking bastards. And welcome to a new breed of fetid, stinking bastards, that will change the face of politics forever...oh, sigh.

It is that time again where once every few years in the political cycle, we get to elect our dictators. Scintillating stuff.

On the one hand we have a political party that has destroyed all civil liberties in the last 13 years. On the otherside of the ring, we have a political party supported by the same masters of the universe that has destroyed this country's economy.

Oh, and we have a third party that hires rent boys. Well, at least their financial spokesperson danced with Alicia Dixon - you go Vince! (although the guy is as snooty as the rest of them)

I have a vote. One vote. That is that. And I have never voted in a General Election. Never ever, despite the taxes I pay, I have not voted for who shall spend them. I have voted in some of the local ones, when I could be bothered, and I voted in the Mayoral elections but never at a national level. That does not mean I am not political, but just that the system does not work. Take a click on those links, and tell me, what do you think of the current crop of public servants - ha, a more laughable term if there was any!

Now, I am one of those annoying, floating voters. I do not wave a party flag, and although I come from a mildly Labour leaning household, that has not necessarily translated into my voting intention. In fact, I do not necessarily vote along party lines, but I actually look at what the policies are before I mark my 'X'. So, depending on whether it is a regional or council election, I will vote for the party and candidate that I believe will best represent me.

But never at a local level.

Until now.

You see, in the past two elections that I have been eligible to vote in, the certain Labour landslides has meant that it was not worth me voting, it was going to be a waste.

But this election is wide open.

The election should be shoo in for the Conservatives. After all, we are in a recession, Gordon Brown is an incompetent leader and the fact that he has lead the administration that has shredded Britain for the past 13 years should mean that he should be thinking of writing his memoirs rather than contemplating another stint in the top job. But David Cameron is just as much of an idiot and leading his band of self styled Lords and Ladies to the trough does not find much appeal amongst the electorate.

That leaves the possibility for a Hung Parliament.

Now, there are advantages and disadvantages to this state of affairs.

On the one hand we in the UK have never been good at consensus politics. At a time where our economy is, to mildly put it, f**ked, do we want a wishy washy government.

Saying that, it has been the swing from landslide, to landslide that has landed us in this mess in the first place. Plus, we, the electorate, is fed up with the whole lot, and maybe, in our perverse minds, we would like to see a little bit of salt in the sugar...

Plus, there is one big factor in this election, which everyone seems to be ignoring. There is a large proportion of the electorate now employed by the state. They know that their job are going to get culled. The big question is, who they want to do the chopping? Public Sector workers are generally older than the rest of the population, and that means they will be more likely to vote.

So back down to the big question, at least from my perspective. Who shall I vote for. In the past few weeks I have swung from Conservative to Lib Democrat. I have flirted with wasting my vote with the Green Party, but all within a (mildly) Labour background in both family and upbringing.

But one thing is for certain. For the first (and maybe only) time in my life, I will use my vote in a General Election. Probably. Maybe. All right, nothing is certain, but there is more chance that I will vote in this upcoming election than in the previous ones...

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(My prediction for this election - a Conservative win, but no landslide. I reckon on a working majority of 30 seats for David Cameron. My hope, at this moment in time, a Hung Parliament. I have had enough of the b**tards, and I want to see them frustrated for a while.)

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(This blog will be back in a week's time - toodles!)