Sunday, April 08, 2012

2012 - 17

Golf Again

I'm sitting here waiting for the play-off of the Masters to get underway. It's between the brilliantly named Bubba Watson and the South African Louis Oosthuizen, who I, in this very blog, said would probably never win a major gold tournament again. I'd like him to win because Bubba is a really silly name. What is even sillier is he was born Gerry, so why he would wish to call himself Bubba is anyone's guess. Plus, when he wins he cries and thanks God. Oosthuizen is more likely to shoot a black man and hire a private army to guard his diamond mine.

The thing is, we were out with the dogs today and I discovered two things - the Internet has ruined apocryphal tales/urban legends and some old men are full of bullshit.

One of the parks we take the dogs to has a huge sweeping area of grass that could be the basis of a fantastic golf hole with trees to the right (or left) and more trees to the left (right), undulating hills and if you pictured it made of concrete, it's like a massive 50 acre half pipe. Well, some bloke obviously thought the same thing and he was out there, hitting golf balls down the hill; Marley went over to say hi and we eventually got talking to him. The wife mentioned the only good thing in golf being the movie Caddyshack and that prompted the old bloke to tell me a yarn.

"You know the character Chevy Chase played? I nodded. "The brilliant golfer who choked when the pressure was on?" I nodded again, wondering if that was the case as it had been years since I last saw the film. "He was based on a real golfer."
"Was he?"
"Yes. Back in the 60s when Palmer, Nicklaus and Player were dominating the sport, there was this club player called George Marshall and he could beat these guys 9 times out of 10, but couldn't beat them when there was a tournament, so he never turned professional."
"How did he beat them then?"
"Practice rounds, friendly matches, stuff like that."
"Oh." says I.

When I got home I searched George Marshall - couldn't find him. Searched for 'golfer who beat professionals all the time' and variations of that and got nothing. Did find something that was almost related in that someone else had asked a similar question on Yahoo Answers about two years ago. It's all utter bollocks.

It's advantage Bubba in the golf...

Paper Waste

This is how exciting my Easter has been. I threw away 14lbs of waste paper cleaning out my office, which, frankly, looked like a toilet.

It's still all square in the golf.

Hose Ban Pipe

The hosepipe ban came into force on Thursday. It has rained every day since. Is that irony?

Advantage Bubba again.

And he wins. Time for bed.

Monday, Monday

The country woke up this morning to disbelief and thinking the calendar was wrong. Was it really April 1st and not the 9th?

The Daily Mail, doyen of right wing Britain and inventor of massively preposterous 'exclusives' is openly condemning the government, especially the Tories with being out of touch with the rest of the country and forcing potential voters away from the party because of their stringent and punitive measures. Zombie baby Jesus, has the world gone mad?

Well, actually, yes it has. It has been going mad for 30 years and now it's officially bonkers.

The wife is in her sewing room repairing a pair of my jeans that have gone at the knee and it made me realised that we've always been frugal - sometimes out of necessity, but usually because we've never seen the point of being fast and loose with money we haven't got. I know we've both spent money on things that ordinarily wouldn't crop up in a weekly shopping basket, but hey, life is about enjoying it as much as you can; isn't it? Well, yes, but if 'as much as you can' means spending money like running a tap then you can only enjoy yourself so much, surely?

I could go out and buy a brand new pair of jeans - ranging between £10 and £200 - and just live off my overdraft next month; but what if I need a new shirt or boxers? Or if my Xbox (which I don't own, btw) needs upgrading to the latest G4 version or whatever? How am I going to pay for that? My God, my phone is three months out of date. My mates all have iphones. I need my anus bleaching. All this expense is so unfair... I know, I'll go and get a credit card.

Several years ago we got friendly with a couple who lived in a lovely house, drove THREE cars, had all the modern technology you could wish for and some, went on at least two foreign holidays a year; went to gigs, plays, day trips to Alton Towers or whatever the latest craze in theme parks is and then sat and stared at their bills at the end of the month and would see that they were spending a grand a month more than they had coming in. So what did they do? They went out for a meal, bought some DVDs and transferred their credit card accounts into other ones so they could dodge the massive repayments for a couple of months.

This was a couple who would have barely anything in their fridges and cupboards; would have to go without essentials to put fuel in their cars to be able to go to the jobs that didn't pay for their lifestyle. One day when I asked them, quite candidly, why they did it, the response was 'well, everyone else does it.' Scary as fuck.

Is it any surprise that a couple of years down the line they hate each other, but are so in debt that they have to stay together because to split up would plunge them onto the verge of bankruptcy - something one of them asked me about. My reply was that it might be the best route, but they would struggle for at least three years. Everything would have to be done on a budget; they would be cash users because they'd struggle to get anything but savings accounts. They could only get credit cards with 50,000 APR rates and they could never get made bankrupt again or they might as well go and live in a Third World Country. Oddly enough they went off the idea of bankruptcy because they couldn't trust themselves.

But these aren't the only people I've known or met who have this same attitude about money. It's like they're saying, we're not going to go to prison unless we do something fraudulent, so lets splurge while we're young and worry about the debt later. It's a good job these people don't have kids (yet).

Speaking of kids; a worrying trend I've noticed is the amount of kids whose relatives work in the building trade who seem to believe they will walk into employment, even with building work in this country on the slide yet again. My mate Dez, who has at least two years of guaranteed work with his construction company was telling me that he's aware of a lot of people who were in the building trade who just can't get work there at the moment and are looking at factory or sales work.

Down the pub last Thursday, I got talking to a girl called Emma who used to work at the homeless night shelter, but left because of a combination of two things - the stress and the money. She now works about 50 hours a week in telesales. She has to work that long because otherwise she wouldn't earn enough to live on. The pressures she faces are not the same as working with the homeless, but they are just as testing. She said that her fiance and her would like to have kids, but they simply can't afford it and they wouldn't do anything as irresponsible as bring a child into this world without knowing they could look after it. Amazing realism from the younger generation; but within five minutes she was talking about how the two of them will go and blow £100 between them on a Saturday night out. But, they're young, they're allowed that.

The changes to tax credits now means that the government are fleecing even more from those who need it the most. My three former colleagues at the YOT - all working mothers, all part time support workers and all dependent on their tax credits to be able to work - have had mixed feelings about the changes. One of them already works the correct amount of hours, so she will not lose a penny; she might even gain a few quid because of changes in her tax rate. The other two work 4 and 8 hours short of the new limit, so both now face the dilemma of no longer earning enough money to be able to afford to work. How does that make sense?

The YOT has bugger all money; there are even rumours that some employees are now doing what constituted as my job, even though it has been made redundant. These people are doing this job because there isn't enough money to keep a sustainable work force there, so therefore there is no money to be able to increase either of the women's hours. Their boss told me that both might have to leave and he isn't sure if they'll be replaced, despite his project being one of the stars in the YOT's slipping crown.

Pensioners are being hit again. Pensioners, you know, the people that Tories usually depend on after their rich friends to vote for them because they don't like the socialist namby-pamby posturing the left always display. Pensioners; who, arguably, are partially responsible for this mess are also people who have worked all their lives to be able to avoid paying things like extra tax.

The wife just said that something is going to happen soon; another general election maybe or the rumblings of more street level revolution perhaps. The thing is it's clear that Osborne's theory isn't working, more and more people are suffering and he's allowed 218,000 very rich people an extra 5p off their tax bills - bills incidentally they already have very good accountants ensuring they don't pay as much as they should anyhow. The governments cut and slash policy hasn't been replaced by the private sector; hell, the private sector just needs to look at the price of fuel to know that it isn't viable to replace the public sector.

When I was made redundant, the key phrase at the time was that the private sector would step in and fill the void created by all the redundancies - a lot of the people out of work would be able to find similar work (probably not for as much money) as companies are created to replace outmoded council jobs. Except it didn't take a genius to work out that if all the money they were saving didn't actually exist any more, then how was a private company going to set up without some funding from some form of government agency or quango, which no longer had the money to give? Are people all fucking stupid?

When the Daily Mail start to seriously question the exploits of a largely Tory government then you have to start believing that something is going badly wrong. The problem faced by the Lib Dems when they first came into joint power was that Cameron and his crones popularity increased while Clegg and co hit rock bottom - this was classed as their one and only chance because they were finished as a political party; but Bradford West,, the NHS, the budget, public dissatisfaction, the crumbling economy and rising inflation, unemployment and social unrest has meant that now the country is no longer confident that the Tories are the best party to lead us forward; but neither are Labour and that leaves the political landscape both interesting and worrying.

The Libs had to suck it up as the Tories brought in measures that seemed necessary but harsh; they couldn't afford to argue that much because with Cameron so popular a snap general election would have meant a Tory majority and heaven knows what that would have meant for us all. Now, the Libs can start to exert some pressure, because the Tories are highly unlikely to be able to securer a majority at an election. We are faced with the prospect of an even more diverse coalition; in fact we're facing what the Italians faced in the 1970s - political ambiguity, general elections at the drop of a hat and growing dislike of politicians in general.

Cameron hid behind the umpteenth relaunch of the Big Society again last week; he seems to think that piffling projects that have not inspired the general public are more important than dealing with the problems, but as I've said before, Tories don't do well when they have to make decisions; they usually get in with the economy buoyant, not when it's in the toilet. They are good at sustaining a good economy until everything goes tits up and the Labour come in for a term and sort it out. They don't do well when they inherit problems or make them for themselves.

Don't get me wrong; this isn't a sea of change. there are people out there deeply affected by the cuts who would still vote Conservative, regardless of how often Cameron and Osborne shit in their mouths. They couldn't bring themselves to vote Labour or anything else, because they ruin the country; don't they? Of course they do. They ruin the country by rebuilding crumbling infrastructure that the Tories allowed to decay. They can't vote Labour because Labour are really communist pinko liberal sperm whale loving black lesbians or oiks. Yes, that sums up Tony Blair's neo-Tory reign perfectly...

I've said it before and I'll say it again - we're all going to die waste deep in our own filth of starvation or a disease that the NHS wouldn't treat because it doesn't have enough money...

  • I have been listening to Serena Maneesh; U2's Unforgettable Fire; early Simple Minds, Debussey and Orbital's new Wonky thing.
  • My reading of Chavs has stalled.
  • I watched the golf, the winner blubbed like a girl.
  • We are going to Leicester tomorrow to shop, do the Belgrave Road and catch up with Selina Lock, who we haven't seen since September!
  • We're also meeting up with Mammary Lass for a dog walk this afternoon; expect much throwing of vile insults.
  • Am I the only person who is finding Game of Thrones only worth watching for Peter Dinklage and the few occasions that Daenerys gets her kit off? It's okay, but it's hardly breathtakingly awesome TV is it?
  • Week two of the holidays and the weather is crap; the first week went too fast and this time next week I shall be on a Teacher Training Day for which there is no training for me...

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