Monthly Archives: March 2012

Government suggest panic buying!

ShutIt seems a ridiculous heading, but it is true. What on Earth was Cameron thinking of when he suggested topping up as you pass a filling station. Surely even someone divorced from reality by the class structure, should have realised what would happen.

Suddenly filling stations were running out of fuel and people who were genuinely running low found they couldn’t get any fuel. How downright irresponsible of the prime minister.

When you consider that fuel is currently almost £7 per gallon (US$11) what a great suggestion to buy as much as you can at the highest price. Who benefits? The tax man.

ShutThen Francis Maude suggests we should keep fuel in jerry cans and keep them in our sheds. I don’t even keep my mower and strimmer fuel in the shed. It is asking for disaster. If petrol fumes escape the container they form an explosive gas. Create a spark in your shed and it could attempt to go into orbit, taking you with it!

How could this moron make such an idiotic suggestion? There have already been cases of people trying to fill paint cans and jam jars at filling stations. You can be certain that while Shutgovernment ministers can be stupid, the general public can be downright insane. One woman, while pouring petrol from container to container in her kitchen, caught light and now has multiple burns. Francis Maude should offer his resignation.

The trouble is that if you are a millionaire Tory, you have probably never been in a shed in your life and the chance of you ever keeping the mower fuel topped up is low. These people employ staff to look after such things and this might mitigate Maude’s stupidity to a tiny degree.

I can’t believe the stupidity of people in positions of authority. Just look at the ex-treasurer of the Tory party who got caught in a scam by a newspaper team. He was lying through his teeth about what you would get as a donor to the Tory party. Frankly, if people are stupid enough to give vast sums to the Tories, perhaps they deserve scamming.

However, with the dropping of 5% from the top rate of tax, we now find that captains of industry are tens of thousands better off each and every year. Yet more money to give their benefactors and, should we be wondering if some of those donors have influenced the reduction in that tax?

Independence for Scotland can’t come quickly enough.

I’m fed up of teachers not teaching proper.

Saying, “I should have worked harder” is fine, but, of course, many of us shorten it when speaking, to “I should’ve worked harder”. There is nothing wrong with that, but in schools in poorer districts it can become corrupted to “I should of worked harder”, which is totally wrong.

In my day the teachers would have picked up on it every time it happened. Today we have so many people in the country who don’t actually know that it should be “should have” not “should of” that you hear it more and more in adverts and in the media.

It is extremely noticeable among footballers when they are being interviewed. They decide to speak slightly posher than normal so instead of saying “should’ve” which they think is short for “should of” they pronounce the “of” even more clearly making it sound even more stupid. Why was this not jumped on from a great height when they were at school?

But we mustn’t stop there. We can get upset with people, we can get annoyed with gadgets, we can get bored with our phones. Yesterday I saw a TV advertisement which asked, “Are you bored of your phone?”. Good grief where did that come from? Again teachers should be correcting it and correcting it over and over again. Get them to write lines, like we used to have to do. “I must not say could of when it should be could have”. Writing that a few hundred times would  commit it to memory.

I was in a meeting the other day where one of those present kept using bad grammar regarding “less” and “fewer”.  It was so obviously wrong it made me cringe every time I heard it. “There are less cars in the car park”; “There are less tourists on the roads”; “They are buying less items”. All of these, of course, should use the word “fewer” not “less”. You only have to say it out loud to hear that it is wrong. And, if it doesn’t sound wrong to you then you were not properly educated. Interestingly one of the others present made similar statements, but using fewer correctly. Did the other person notice? No, but you can bet your life that the person speaking properly noticed, because it grates on the ears.

You can have less money, you can have less insurance, you can have less petrol, less in your glass, less food, less time and less information. They are all collective nouns so take less. You CANNOT have less coins, less items, less cards, less bottles as they are all plurals so you must say fewer coins, fewer items, fewer cards, fewer bottles etc. There are fewer cars in the car park. There are fewer tourists on the roads. They are buying fewer items.

If you don’t understand it, keep saying the above until it becomes obvious.

Of course, it does not help when a huge company like Tesco and a similarly sized company like Marks and Spencer get it wrong on official signs. How often have you seen “TEN ITEMS OR LESS” in a supermarket.

That really is unforgivable because there must be several people in the management teams at these companies who know it is wrong. The sign should say “TEN ITEMS OR FEWER”. Why won’t they put it right?

OK some grammatical rules are more difficult than others, but the rules I’ve mentioned above are easy to teach and easy to learn. Why aren’t people using the correct versions? The answer is that they have not been properly taught and that falls fairly and squarely on their teachers and school inspectors. If every mistake incurred a punishment it would soon sink in – whoops, I should of used the Jedi version “soon sink in, it would”!

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I must not end a sentence a preposition with.

Anyone got a calculator in Westminster?

I was quite pleased to see the personal allowance rise. I think we’ll be about £200 a year better off.

Now how about that Barclays banker with his £5,000,000 bonus. If I calculate it correctly he will be £250,000 better off each year and every year.

Does that sound reasonable to anyone except a Tory chancellor?

Still it will boost the economy as he might buy a £120,000 car instead of a £90.000 car. He could get a holiday cottage in the country with his tax savings over the next two  years. Yes, I can see the logic in that.

My God, the sooner we break away from that shower of shysters in the south, the better!

Glen Affric – the most beautiful glen in Scotland – CLOSED TO VISITORS

We pride ourselves in our position as the number one exclusive tour in the whole of Scotland on Trip  Advisor (scroll down to best tours – only a free bus tour stops us being number one overall).

When people book with us they can be sure that we will plan and execute our tours with utmost professionalism and the knowledge of our guides is second to none.

However, tour operators also rely on the professionalism of their partners. We expect Jacobite Cruises to provide a great cruise, and they do; we expect Urquhart Castle to be clean and tidy, and it is; we expect Drumnadrochit to provide cash machines and shops, and it does; we expect Corrimony to amaze our visitors and it does that, too.

So, with two prestigious groups we then headed off towards Glen Affric. We believed our groups wanted sandwiches on the hoof, but when we got to Corrimony they changed their minds and wanted a sit down meal. We are not talking a coach party here, we are talking one group of five and one group of four. Seven prize winning scholarship students and two professors.

No problem, we thought.

ShutWe arrived in Cannich and turned into the Bog Cotton Cafe which, as it happened, this group used two years ago. The food was great on that occasion. Unfortunately, although they had been opened in the winter in the past, on this occasion they were closed for the winter. Is a Saturday after the middle of March still winter?

ClosedSo, next stop was the Slaters’ Arms where I had once stopped for tea with the ex Prime Minister of Sri Lanka, Ranil Wickremesinghe,  and his party. Fine on that occasion, but on Saturday 17th March they were as good as closed. When asked to provide lunch at lunch time for a group of four and a group of five they said we should have booked in advance and summarily turned us away.

Now I was starting to get worried. My co-guide, John, suggested we try the Glen Affric, but many years ago this had been a not very salubrious establishment. However, we turned in and I was pleasantly surprised to see a refurbished, bright, welcoming entrance area which proclaimed, as did the Slaters’ Arms, that we could get food. Co-guide John went inside and asked the barman, with some trepidation, if he could help us.

Turning up in the middle of the Scottish rugby did not bode well, especially as we were losing to the Italians. But, we were met with a beaming smile and within minutes he had extra staff on hand and orders were being placed. What a difference to the Slaters’ Arms. This was a real Highland welcome.

The clients loved the home-made soup, pudding, lasagne and curry. Brilliant and the tea was good, too. Excellent all round and you can guess where clients will be taken if they want a sit down meal on a Glen Affric tour in future.

So now, later than normal, we headed into Glen Affric itself. Normally we stop by the suspension bridge just before Dog Falls, let the clients off, and then meet up with them again at the Dog Falls car park after their short walk. Because we were late, we decided to skip Dog Falls and go straight on to the River Walk car park at the end of the glen.Chisholm Bridge

Imagine my horror when we got to the Chisholm Bridge (see image) and found a sign which said “ROAD AHEAD CLOSED”.

There had been no previous warning that the end of the glen was not accessible. What sort of people let you drive, what, six or eight miles of single-track roads without warning you the road would be closed at a particular point along the way? So thoughtless and uncaring.

Did this mean at the bridge or further on. Then I saw that the bridge was full of potholes which, in turn, were full of water so there was no way of knowing how deep they were.

Road Closed

After checking that the potholes were no deeper than about five or six inches we gingerly crossed the bridge and continued, avoiding an increasing number of potholes, all the way to the River Walk car park.

At the car park we saw around a dozen other vehicles which had also taken the risk and a lot of heavy plant. These machines could have dealt with these potholes in no time at all and I now suspect that the Forestry Commission had deliberately decided not to repair the road until these vehicles had gone.

This was my first tour to the end of Glen Affric this year so, while our clients were enjoying their riverside walk, I looked around to see what all this plant had been doing.Glen Affric Parking Meter

There was a huge metal parking charge machine and sign telling us how the money we put in it would help maintain the glen! There was a new interpretation board surrounded by a beautifully constructed low stone wall. The car park had been extended and resurfaced. The River Walk paths had been improved and laid out to follow a slightly different path. There were new toilets which should remain pristine as they were locked!

So, the Forestry Commission, in their ultimate wisdom had done everything except repair the access road and bridge. What a bunch of Wallies? (Apologies to my friend Wally.)

Surely the absolute number one priority is to keep the access open. Everything else – parking area, paths, signboards and definitely parking charge machines are secondary. Someone in Forestry is not living in the real world. I could not believe what I was seeing.

However, I suppose it follows their usual ineptitude. The toilets they commissioned last year were provided by an English company who then went bust meaning that local firms had to come in and rescue the situation. Why weren’t local businesses used in the first place? Too obvious, no doubt.

The previous year, 2010, they demolished all of the interpretation boards without any plan for when they might be reinstated. Well, now we know, two YEARS later.

When is this bunch of civil servants going to appreciate that they are in partnership with professional outfits like us? They are letting us down, the Highlands down and the people of Scotland down.

Disgraceful and unforgivable.

GLEN AFFRIC – CLOSED FOR BUSINESS – SORRY!

Tragic Coach Crash, but what is all this candle lighting?

The coach crash in Switzerland was truly horrific. I feel for all the parents and the families of the coach drivers and teachers. Let’s hope it was some sort of mechanical fault or a heart attack. Such a dreadful event should not end up on the shoulders of the family of an individual.

Everyone is capable of a mistake. It just has much more serious consequences if the error is by a bus driver, pilot, truck driver etc. If a shelf stacker or ticket seller makes a mistake it can just be shrugged off. How many of our bank managers have made mistakes?

However, when I see all the religious purveyors jumping on the bandwagon it really does annoy. These people are thanking God for their kids’ lives. As if any God could have had any hand in such a disaster. If there was a God he had a duty to stop it. I know, I know, “He moves in mysterious ways, His wonders to perform.” This is no less than a sop to grieving families. There was no grand scheme it what happened in that tunnel as there is no grand scheme in the creation of the Earth.

God is the crutch for the insecure. Does anyone seriously believe that those candles achieve anything. What are they for? They are an encouraged activity by bishops and clergy to try to make people feel better.It looks effective. It looks religious. It looks as if it means something.

Perhaps that is enough. Perhaps the crutch is what people want? But while there are so many nutters believing in an all powerful nonentity there will never be peace in this world. Look at the hatred we see all around us at the moment. One religious faction fighting another, whether it be Shia and Suni, Muslim and Christian, Jew and Islam. It is all so much nonsense. It perpetuates hatred and distrust.

I am amazed and a little frightened by the leaders of the western world who claim to believe in God. Perhaps their only excuse is that they view their own incredible power and success as being God’s will. Now isn’t that thought frightening?

Minimum Alcohol Pricing Hits Moderate Less Well Off Drinkers

I have just finished watching the Politics Show section on minimum alcohol pricing and I am hugely annoyed with the ineptitude of the anti campaign and the deliberate misrepresentation by the pro campaign.

The pro campaign seem incapable of thinking like low earners and pensioners.

We like good wine. In times gone by it was not unusual to find some of the finest clarets, champagnes and Chablis in our collection.

With our nineties’ business failure and my stroke I have become a lower earner and we have had to cut our cloth to suit. Today I regularly buy £3.49 and £3.99 wines in Lidl and for normal uses these are fine. If we have visitors or are going to a dinner we usually buy better quality. The days of La Fite and Dom Perignon are long gone.

The average bottle of wine I buy has ten units of alcohol and the new pricing regime will mean that the bottle will no longer cost £3.49 to £3.99, but will in future cost a minimum of £5.

Effectively, in order to stop binge drinkers getting their hands on over-strength ciders and beers I am going to pay up to £1.50 extra tax on each bottle of wine I buy.

Why should I be penalised. On the basis that I drink probably two to three bottles per week, I am having to pay £4.50 per week on this insane tax. That comes to over £200 per year. That is more than five weeks of my working tax credits gone back to the government. Did they really want to penalise people like me?

This extra tax applies to everyone who buys the bottom priced wines.

The most annoying thing is that the pro camp refuse to accept how many people will be affected. They just lump us in with moderate drinkers who they seem to think all pay £5 to £8 per bottle. WAKE UP MORONS – I cannot afford those sort of prices for my glass or two of wine with my evening meal.

Why the anti camp cannot push this point more determinedly is even more disappointing.

This is not the right way to deal with the binge drinking situation.

There must be a better way.

ESPN commentators would be better wearing glasses.

In today’s game between Newcastle and Sunderland there was an incident which resulted in a red card for a Sunderland player.

The commentator said that the hand had not hit the Newcastle player’s face at all. Absolutely certain it hadn’t.

Well, with all the technology available to these guys, you’d think they could see something that we could see on our own telly.

In slo-mo, the man’s hand clearly appears to hit the face, but if you look at the fouled player’s face, at the same instant you see his jaw knocked violently to the left, somewhat similar to ‘Enery’s hook to Ali’s jaw. It is clear and obvious.

One of the commentators should have seen that rather than accuse the Newcastle player of play-acting. Or at least they could have apologised.

The ESPN commentators are regularly incorrect and certain that they are right. They could take some lessons from Sky TV.

Great game though.