Wednesday, October 20, 2010

A Grapefruit in the World of Park

Trust me, despite not really enjoying my job at the moment, I'd rather be there doing something than sitting (when I am able) at home feeling as though my brain is slowly being eaten away by boredom. There is also this growing sense of uncertainty about whether or not some of us are actually going to have jobs this time next year. The wife often says she could quite easily not go to work, saying she could find all kinds of things to occupy her day, every day - from walking the dogs, to making things, gardening and just sitting around doing crosswords and watching television. I've tried to tell her that it would soon become dull and boring.

A couple of weeks ago, I had the distinct possibility that work's occupational health doctor would declare that I was no longer fit for work. Ironically, he declared me totally fit for work and within a week I'm off work again with a potentially even more serious back complaint. My life is never short of this kind of irony and it hasn't escaped me, even if it has others.

Last night, I went out with the gang to the pub quiz. I suppose I should have felt guilty about going to the pub when I'm not fit enough to be at work; but my new doctor emphasised that if I stay at home feeling sorry for myself I'm just going to end up getting into a vicious circle of pain and depression. I need to exercise gently and I need to vary my existence. Oddly enough, the new uber-strong painkillers don't have that much affect; but mix them with a couple of pints of fine hoppy real ale and suddenly I'm feeling a little better. I don't know if the combination of the two actually steal the pain away, or that it zones me out enough to not give a shit. All I do know is that I can't go to work on painkillers and beer; it's not exactly the done thing (despite it sounding like a good idea).

While I was at the pub, the lovely young lady behind the bar asked me a couple of questions. One was whether or not I could supply her boss with yet another easy to make vegetarian meal to put on the menu; and the second was whether or not I was recovering from my 'slipped disc'. I told her that while my back has eased considerably, my groin was as bad as it was two weeks ago and that I was now worried that this was a separate problem. The doctor had suggested that the groin problem was probably caused by pressure on a nerve, therefore making it a deferred pain,. Which to the layman means that the pain wasn't actually there, it just feels like it is... No, I find that pretty much incomprehensible too.

She also asked me, in a roundabout way, if whatever the problem was, it made me disabled, or if it would eventually make me disabled. That's a good question, because, it seems, that there is no longer officially a disabled register; so technically anyone can be disabled. Saying that, I bit the bullet this morning and filled out a Blue Badge Scheme application form. This, it seems, is about the only proof you can have nowadays that someone somewhere thinks of you as disabled. I've been accused on a number of times of being too proud to acknowledge my problem (which I'd like to expand on, but will wait until the proper time and opportunity arise); but isn't that normal? I'm 48 for fuck's sake. I know men in their 70s that are more physically able bodied than me; so surely I should be a bit 'touchy' on the subject. 4 years ago I was yomping around woods and generally behaving like someone half my age. In a short space of time that has all stopped and frankly I'd rather be Phil Hall from 2006 than the current 2010 model.

***

I'll save wibbling on about politics to my other blog at http://independentchoices.blogspot.com/ but I will say watching the beginning of Lord Snooty Osborne's End of the World as We Know It speech in the Commons that on his left sat Nick Clegg, who looked haunted and worried; like someone had just told him that his political career was entering the final stages before it dies a horrible death. Perhaps he heard the political analyst on Radio5 this morning saying that if a general election was held tomorrow, the LibDems would possibly end up with 3 seats; if they were lucky and Nick Clegg's Sheffield constituency would swing back to Labour and probably leave him in 3rd place.

Clegg can probably be concerned that he now runs a party that is less popular than Jeremy Thorpe's Liberals, who at the height of their unpopularity had just 6 seats in the Commons in the 1970s...

Serves the traitorous bastard right. Funny how people will sacrifice their principals for a short taste of power?

***

No time to really digest the spending review apart from the suggestion that we're all fucked unless we're current pensioners' or belong to the armed forces. What makes defence more important than the poor, especially when we've brought most of the threats to this country on ourselves?

***

I've actually had some time now to look at the cuts a bit closer and listen to what many of the so-called experts have had to say about the matter. I really wish I'd got the name of one guy talking to Huw Edwards, mainly because he seemed to be completely independent from political party interests and also completely baffled by why the government have made such rash cuts, so quickly and without looking at the over all big picture. One thing he said that resonated with me big time and I'm paraphrasing here: Britain has been in debt for over 100 years, but during that time we still managed to create the Welfare State. Why they are making such huge cuts in the lifetime of one parliament beggars belief. it isn't like the bank are calling in the debt. The government could quite easily have spread the cuts across a 15 or 20 year time frame; not made themselves immediately unpopular and not caused at least half a million people to now be in fear of their jobs and their futures!

The man belonged to no party, was an economist and I'm going to track him down and find out who he is so you can all listen and see what profound sense he made.

***

So about a ½million people are going to lose their jobs. Most of them pen pushers and middle managers. Robert Peston was quite clear when he forecast that these people would find it difficult to get new jobs unless they were prepared to either take substantial drops in pay or a massive change of career. Peston also confirmed the government's belief that the Private Sector is now employing more people than it has done in the last 10 years. This should be good news; except that the majority of those employed are foreign nationals who are doing jobs that British nationals have no interest in doing - low paid jobs like fruit and veg picking, cleaning, general factory work, sewage workers - basically all the shit jobs that most people born and raised in this country wouldn't dream of doing.

Now, obviously this will allow xenophobes, bigots and racists to get on their high horses and complain that British jobs aren't going to British workers; but why do you think foreigners are doing these jobs in the first place? Because most British people wouldn't be seen dead doing them. I meet idiot bigots all the time - many of them in places like Corby - who complain about Poles and Albanians 'stealing' British jobs. Yet ask these people of they'd be prepared to clean up someone else's shit for the minimum wage and suddenly they're not so keen.

Personally, if it is middle managers that end up out of work, it couldn't happen to more deserving people. If there's one thing about Labour governments' that infuriate me, it's their inability to believe that the workers are actually doing good jobs and their belief that they need to employ people to work out if others' jobs are justifiable. I've always believed that results tend to be measurable by success or failure, not by paperwork.

***

And speaking of the new austerity measures one more time; I earn a little bit more than £20k a year and if I don't get a pay rise for the next 9 years, I will have earned £200,000.

Wayne Rooney allegedly wants to leave Manchester United, not because he's fallen out with Old Red Nose, but because the club is not prepared to pay him £200,000 a week in wages. That's £10,400,000 a year salary before appearance, goals and International bonuses top it up to a cool £12,000,000 per annum.

Now, I understand that footballers have a limited shelf life and they need to do everything they can to ensure that the years after they retire from playing are as comfortable as possible and in Wayne's case, he obviously needs to ensure he has feathered his nest enough; because on top of his £100k a year prostitute habit; his need to spend a few quid on fags and booze and his ambition to own as many tacky houses in Alderley Edge as possible; he has the simple fact that he is both thick and ugly going against him - as we all know most thick and ugly people have to survive on Income Support or other benefits, many of which are going to get cut or abolished altogether.

I wonder (and yes I know this is unbelievably naive of me) if he ever considers the 60 odd million people in this country who are already earning considerably less than him and how they're going to make ends meet?

***

Changing the subject totally. I've been raving about Porcupine Tree a bit lately; I've been posting links to some of their great songs and videos on my Facebook page and I've always considered myself a bit of a fan of Steven Wilson, the Hertfordshire lad who is the driving force behind the band.

Wilson is possibly the hardest working man in show business. As well as Porcupine Tree who have just concluded a 13 month long world tour, he has also released a solo album called Insurgents; he is the member of an alternative pop duo called Blackfield, a member of a more conventional pop duo called No-Man; he produces solo material apart from his recent solo debut album; he is involved in remastering king Crimson's back catalogue; he releases weird and wonderful ambient music under the name Bass Communion and even weirder and more out there ambient music under the name of The Incredible Expanding Mindfuck. He managed to contribute to the new Pendulum album, has recently produced the new Opeth album; works with Anathema, is working with Dream Theater, Marillion, Yoko Ono, Robert Fripp, Alex Lifeson of Rush and has even released a cover version of an Abba record, because he unashamedly is a fan of most all Swedish music. To make matters worse, if you look at photos of him, he looks about 25 years old (he is, in fact 43) and is entirely self taught.

In fact, if you were to go out and buy everything he's had anything to do with in the last 20 years, you probably wouldn't have much change from a week of Wayne Rooney's salary!

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