Friday, 24 May 2013

And why the hell do you want to know?



Life has been busy recently with visits from friends, an ageing kitchen that I’m replacing (a whole saga in itself!), youngsters moving house and Mrs G demanding (albeit politely) that we get out and visit places when the weather allows.

Thus it was, prompted by the purchase of some kitchen units, that I had to move a small amount of money from a savings account into my current account. The savings account was opened with Northern Rock, and has now been taken over by Virgin Money, so this was the first time I had used the Virgin Money web page. 

The account is default linked to my current account so online transfers in or out are quick, just name, password and ID check and the amount and whether ‘in’ or ‘out’ is all the information needed.

So why is there a question asking the purpose of the withdrawal. Not just asking out of polite interest but demanding a response from a pull down menu that must be answered before the transaction can proceed? 

Sadly there was no option for ‘piss off it’s my money and my business what I do with it’, but I shall wait with interest to see if any other banks start asking me why I want access to my own money.

Monday, 13 May 2013

It costs how much for the insurance!



I haven’t blogged much recently. The end of the snow and ice has made the garden a more attractive option, and to be honest I’m getting totally fed up with current affairs. So much of it is total bollocks and it’s all inter-related, that I have lost the sense of where to even start! 

You can’t believe a word that the media spout, they are either inept or dishonest, the number of intelligent politicians with any sense of integrity and morality and not in thrall to commerce or pressure groups is now at an all time low and the EU debacle is a running sore serving only to raise my blood pressure.

But I suppose it’s worth raising a metaphorical flag to a couple of good news items over the past week.

The surge in support for UKIP has to be good. Not that I particularly want them as a government, but as a sign of better things and as an agent of change they at least hold out a ray of hope that people are waking up. So what if a vote for UKIP means ‘none of the above’? Any such sign is a good start.

Returning to real life however I had quite a pleasant surprise. Now that I’m too old to gallivant around the country or paint the town red drinking and chasing mini-skirted girls around the town at weekends I enjoy amusing myself playing with old (ish) cars. I have a mini fleet of two old dears now, a Morris and a Triumph, neither being exotic or expensive, but I like them. Being a similar age to me I understand them and have sympathy for their occasional wrinkles, ageing joints and difficulty getting started in the mornings.

To keep them on the road of course they have to be insured (mutters about the bloody insanity of continuous insurance, MOTs and SORN regulations when the poor dears only travel a few hundred miles a year on local roads, barely reach 50mph and have free road tax anyhow). The insurance is a specialist one for historic vehicles that allows me to have both cars covered on the same policy, the aim is that it will be cheaper than ordinary insurance because I have to also run a main car on a standard policy for daily use, the specialist one doesn’t carry a no claims discount.  

Some years ago the cost of the historic policy started to rocket. From under £100 per year it jumped to £130, then £160, then £200, and last year, to over £230. This year I was bracing myself for a job of trailing around brokers and web sites to get a better deal.

When the renewal notice came I almost fell over, it’s down £100 from last year and back to under £130. I think it’s the only bill I have received in the past year that has reduced, and it’s not far off halved. Well done Footman James.

Now all we need is for the councils, utilities and government contractors to make similar reductions – no I don’t expect it will happen.

Wednesday, 1 May 2013

Loonies, fruitcakes and closet racists – Bring them on!



It’s my opinion that democracy in this country is completely broken. 

In a healthy democracy we should vote for a representative who takes our opinions and directives and then works on our behalf to present and champion those views to government.  

Sadly, in practice, the opposite happens: We vote for a representative, but that person has a primary allegiance to a political party. Our representative then becomes lobby fodder for that party and spends their time representing the party line irrespective of what the voters asked for or what the representative promised the voter. The political party has become the dominant element, and worse than that has simply become a tool of corporate and vested interests.

So along come UKIP. I know perfectly well that some of their policies are a mess but unlike most political experts I see this not as a problem but a sign of strength.  It's not as though they will be running the country next week however well they do so there isn't much of a downside. But importantly they are a party of independence, and we should celebrate the fact that their candidates also have independent ideas and independent views. They coalesce around a set of ideas and attitudes rather than a set of policies dictated from on high, and to my mind that is exactly as it should be, definitely it’s enough to be going along with at this stage of the game. 

Maybe some of their candidates are a bit dodgy, but hands up which party doesn’t have a share of criminals and fraudsters! In UKIP’s case it’s to be expected in the rushed circumstances, the other parties have far less excuse.

Until recently this country has always celebrated the eccentrics and outsiders in society, it’s an attitude that is quintessentially English. True, eccentrics often tend to be some of the most annoying people around, but they can also be some of the most creative and preceptive. The past decades have increasingly marginalised and denigrated outside ideas, by always defending the ‘consensus’ and the mainstream ideas against anyone who dares to disagree. 

UKIP are determined to disagree with the consensus, discuss the otherwise unmentionable without being hamstrung by political correctness and in the process kick the 3 old main parties where it hurts.  For that reason alone I wish them well tomorrow.