30 Jun 2011

When I'm 65....or 68...or older...

Today sees the national public service strike over pension rights, a strike that is proving highly divisive and will probably end in the public service workers losing a lot of the goodwill they accumulated during and after the anti cuts march in London earlier this year.

There's an awful lot of willful ignorance being bandied about by the public service unions over the pensions issue, probably deliberately so, as they could not tell their members the truth when it comes to public sector pensions for fear of losing their positions of power.

First, here's some simple maths. Let's assume that two workers, one public one private sector who end their careers today on identical salaries having had identical average salaries over their working lives. Joe Public will have a pension four or five times the size of Fred Private, or, to put it another way, Fred Private would have had to contribute at least five times the amount of Joe Public over his working life to his private pension to arrive at a pot large enough to achieve a similar future monthly pension payout to Joe Public. This is because public sector pensions are based on final or average salaries, a luxury afforded to only about 10% (and falling) of private sector workers, most of whom have to put up with the much less attractive defined contribution schemes. The reason for the continued decline in private sector final/average salary schemes is simple - they are unaffordable as there is no investment plan available that gives the returns required to finance them.

It used to be the case that public sector workers earned far less than their private sector counterparts, and the generous pension scheme was a compensation, but this earnings anomaly simply no longer applies. According to Paul Lewis of The Money Programme the annual cost of public sector pensions is some £30bn, of which £26bn is paid for through exisiting low level employees' contributions and Employers' NI contributions. The shortfall of £4bn per year (or up to £6bn depending who you listen to) is being paid for by the tax payer. By the way, £4bn is two thirds of the value of the Coalition cuts programme currently chopping away. Yes, of course "the tax payer" includes Joe Public, but why should Fred Private contribute to Joe's pension via his taxes when his own pension is paltry in comparison? Also, as the population lives for longer these costs will only go one way, at least for the short term. It is simply unsustainable, even Ed Millibrand acknowledges this. Another example of the over generous public sector pension scheme is Joe's ability to take his retirement pension at 60. I can think of six people I know personally who have done this, and who are all doing very nicely thank you. This is being kicked into touch under the planned changes, and is there honestly any argument to be made against it?

The main reason for this strike appears to be the planned increase in Joe Public's contribution to his pension. It is calculated that a teacher will face a 50% increase in contributions to 9.6%. They should count themselves lucky that even after the proposed changes their pensions will still be way in excess of what Fred Private could ever afford.

The Tories, as ever, have shot themselves in foot in the way they have mis-handled this, or rather the way in which they have not handled it at all, simply hoping they can impose all the changes in one fell swoop and without negotiation. Cameron would have done well not to mention pension changes and deficit cuts in the same speech as it gives the unions the excuse they're looking for, linking the two when there is no link. No, the public sector did not cause the current crisis, but I'm afraid that's entirely irrelevant where this dispute is concerned. Public sector pensions are unaffordable in their current guise, regardless of whether or not the country is up to its neck in debt.

The unions for their part would have been far better advised to make the stike against the too hasty and excessive cuts and the philosophy behind them. I marched with you in London on that theme, but you can take a hike on this one I'm afraid!

10 Jun 2011

Strange Weather

Before I start can I just say that the best bit is definitely at the end!

I had to laugh this morning. On turning on BBC Breakfast we heard that Northamptonshire is one of three counties in Eastern England to be declared part of an official drought region. This was follwed soon after by the weather forecast which promised showers today and tomorrow followed by an all day deluge on Sunday. Talk about tempting fate, and don't these people know that we're now in the monsoon season which will last until the end of August?

This is a copy of the text from a real letter sent to Leicester City Council by a concerned nutter...sorry, citizen sent under The Freedom Of Information Act as a request for information:

Dear Leicester City Council,

Can you please let us know what provisions you have in place in the event of a zombie invasion? Having watched several films it is clear that preparation for such an event is poor and one that councils throughout the kingdom must prepare for.

Please provide any information you may have.

Yours faithfully,

Concerned Citizen

I really really hope that it was written with tongue firmly in cheek, but I kind of suspect given the poor grammar that it was sent in all seriousness! There is no hope.

Last night was our usual Thursday night down the best pub in town but with an added twist or should I say contortion. Phill and I spend most Thursday nights talking bollocks with the estimable young bar staff, and last night was no different, but the "bollocks" in question were swapped for labia. No really!

Whilst on holiday in Benidorm recently, one of our pint pullers sampled the questionable delights of an "entertainment" on offer wherein a middle aged woman pulls all manner of objects from her nether regions including rubber chickens, fairy lights, and dishwashers. I made that last one up, but only the last one!

Firstly she must have innards the size of a garage and secondly how does electrically lit fairy lights and, how shall I put this...the erm damp conditions not result in electric shocks to her tender bits? We should be told....actually I don't want to know.

The mad bint also fires canonballs across the room using only pelvic thrust. Gobsmacked I was! The holiday snaps should make for interesting viewing I should think.
If all that is too much information imagine Phill's and my reaction when told all this by a young woman who imparted her holiday tale in an almost completely blasé fashion. I didn't know where to look. Actually I couldn't see for laughing! Oh, and nether region depilation is all the rage amongst women under 25 so we're told. I dare anyone to deny it!...;)
The name of the pub and it's mad but highly entertaining bar staff are witheld to protect the lewd.

8 Jun 2011

What's New, Pussycat?

Our Molly, The World's Loudest Small Ginger Cat ©, turns 15 years old in a couple of months, and B and I had thought that she had retired from the hunting game, as 2011 has so far been free of small rodents caught and killed, or worse, caught and let loose in the house.

Not on your nelly! On Sunday night at nearly midnight, Moll renewed her Professional Pussycat Licence, and brought home a still live mouse, which, after I had taken her and her captive outside I made her drop using the long practiced method pulling her head back so that her jaws opened. That done, Moll is then locked in the house while the mouse makes its escape.

Knackered after decimating local wildlife..

This afternoon she caught another, this time killing it as well. I disposed of the corpse when I got home. It just goes to show that the old girl still has what it takes in the world of feline butchery!

Moll's only ailment thus far in her old age is an ongoing hyperactive thyroid problem, held at bay by one and a half pills a day (15mg) of Vidalta that costs roughly £1 per tablet. Having checked online they can be obtained for less than half that price, not that our vet has let us know. I reckon along with dentists, running a domestic veterinary practice is a licence to print money.

Update - In order to get Molly's meds online a vet's perscription is required. The vets charge £12 + VAT for the privilege. Am I surprised? No, not really! Anyway, the cost per mg of the drug at the vets is 9.74p, and even including the perscription fee the cost online is 4.35p! No contest.

Being a pair of wusses we currently give Moll the tablets hidden in such things as cat treats, cooked chicken, tuna, corned beef, fish paste, cheese, but the wily old girl gets wise to all of these eventually, and so the cycle starts again. She is getting her medication but it is probably not the full dosage or regularly enough, although she seems healthy enough as her renewed hunting escapades have proven.

Eventually we're going to have to bite the bullet and use the dreaded pill-popper. The one and only time we've attempted (and failed) to use it, Moll took my arm off and ran up the garden with it. Remember, this is a cat that three vets could not hold still for long enough to take a blood sample from one of her front legs, so it's going to be an ongoing struggle but one we'll have to get used to.

7 Jun 2011

Up, Up, And Away

It's been a busy week at work so far and it's only Tuesday lunchtime. What with my business partner being away on his annual sojourn to Sri Lanka, I've been running the good ship Addit, Makeitup & Co on me lonesome. As you may know, at the moment my left hand would not look out of place on the end of Tuntenkhamun's left arm. The stitches came out yesterday, and a new swathe of bandage was duly applied by the comely Nurse Debbie. Anyway, a few clients have turned up with their annual accounting records, and their initial question on seeing my wrapped maw is always along the lines of "How did you do that?" A reasonable query, and so far I have resisted the urge to tell an Asian taxi driver, a permanently gloomy gardener, and a rather dim tradesman that my injury came about as the result of a Rugby wanking accident.

It's all your fault, and you know who you are..;)
Staying on the wonderful Accountan-sea, a forum I'm a member of had an article from an American accountant called Blumer extolling the virtues of Cloud Accounting...no it's not the art of counting clouds. Full of largely unintelligible techno-bollocks like "With Cloud tools, we are able to help clients move into a world of managing “data flows” as opposed to doing accounting"...and..."The new breed of accountants will have to become experts in how computer systems talk to each other and how best to make them work together"...and..." innovative cloud providers are building products that are challenging our beliefs on how to process accounting data"...wake up at the back, there!

At the end of his tech-speak wibbling, he reckons..."The right systems are challenging the old out-dated way of doing things and proposing new ways to do it. Some won’t like it. But they can kiss my butt."

Fair enough Mr Blumer, who I bet is large of girth and sports a stetson on nights out at the rodeo with his equally fat wife, but it's difficult enough getting clients to write things down on paper, or maintain a simple spreadsheet a ten year old could do in their sleep, let alone teaching them how to wing stuff off into the ether. It's another world baby, and it ain't nowhere near Shoesville.

Mind you, the idea of an accountant using phrases like "kiss my butt" is quite amusing, I think I'll take it up!

1 Jun 2011

It's Up Here Somewhere...

A news article on the BBC website under the heading Can pub quizzes survive in the smartphone era? has some sensible responses, most along the lines of "Yes, and the cheats ruin it for everyone else, so should be shot"...well maybe not quite that extreme. However, there are a few responders who reckon cheating is good and the quiz should adapt to their ways. One such incredulous response was this from "smoker_dave"..

The quiz needs to evolve. How about embracing smart phone technology and having rounds with very obscure questions that are designed to be Googled.

The world is changing. There is no need to memorise countless facts and figures any more. The people who get ahead are the ones who can search the reams of information and pick out the relevant results

If this bloke turned up at The Quiz With Gravitas with his mates, all brandishing their smartphones, I'd be inclined to tell them to fuck off, or stick the phones where the sun don't shine! My more measured actual response was..

What a ridiculous idea! A quiz is meant to exercise your grey matter, you know, that thing inbetween your ears. As your name implies I guess you do your cheating in the outside smoking area, come back to tell your team mates, thereby ruining it for everyone else. I hope you get caught!

I await his reply with interest!

smoker_dave looks for his phone after visiting The Quiz With Gravitas

While walking to work this morning approaching me were two women both wearing big and very dark shades as is the current trend. One was nattering away to her mate, looking directly at her friend and not where she was going. She didn't see a dip in the pavement and nearly turned her ankle. Recovering she turned to her mate and in a surprised tone said "That's dangerous, I didn't see it" without a trace of irony.

For some reason they obviously were wondering why I was chuckling to myself as I walked past.

Any fellow bloggers out there will be aware of the Stats tab, telling you how many hits one's wibblings have had, and from what sources. Some wag inexplicably came across this blog using the search words "pictures of the biggist (sic) sloppy poo". I've no idea how that leads here, unless it is a reference to my loose writing style, but I certainly wouldn't advise anyone to type it in Google!

The mangled maw - an update..

Just over a week ago I had my latest Dupuytrens operation on my left ring finger. The cast came off two days after the op, but the stitches will remain until this Friday. Movement is good, if a bit sore and the finger is now straight! Result.

When I get the chance I'll put up some charming before and after photos for your revulsion.