Tag Archives: money

Cumbernauld and Shipley

A couple of weeks ago I was on a British Airways flight to Italy. These days this involves a ‘short haul economy dining’ experience lovingly crafted by Marks & Spencer. Gone are the days of infinite free mini wines on the way to tipping a man in a gimp suit into a canal in some desolate European burgh. It’s now £2.30 for a ‘Twinings English Breakfast tea 12oz’ on the nation’s flagship carrier and oh how proud they make us all.

On this flight was a man with a desperate thirst for £1.80 worth of bottled water. You can only pay by card these days, ever since airlines realised that without the weight of a bag of pound coins you can fit an extra seat on each wing, so this man handed over his plastic.

“Would you like a receipt?”

“Yes please.”

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Pomp

You know that sinking feeling you get when you bump into an old friend you haven’t seen for years? You go for coffee, a beer, something stronger. You reminisce about the old times and compare notes on the new – what’s that, Paul? Married now? Kids, is it? Four of the fuckers? Why, of course I’d love to see photos of them!

At least in the old days, this farcical pretence of interest in the progeny of others would only last for the time it takes to brandish a couple of beat-up Polaroids from their wallet or purse; now, the wonders of modern technology mean that Paul or Janet or whoever the fuck can bash you over the head with a slideshow of their sprogs until hell freezes over.

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The next boat back to Tuvalu

FIFA has certainly had a rough patch of late. Dodgy deals behind closed doors, confederation presidents handling suspiciously overstuffed briefcases, botched bribery attempts from the chronically awkward Brits (bless them), more expensive Swiss watches than even Salvador Dalí would know what to do with and a couple of incredibly misguided venue choices for the next two footballing extravaganzas. Could it get any worse?

Amazingly, yes.

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The Russell Hobbs stampede

Well, we’ve made it. We deployed the stiff upper lip, the fearless spirit that has seen Britain endure three plague epidemics, two world wars and a Margaret Thatcher, and we’ve survived Black Friday for another year.

About three years ago, the biggest shopping day in the United States migrated to her little cousin across the pond. The lack of a Thanksgiving Thursday over here would no longer stop us elbowing our fellow Britons in the jaw in a bid to secure the best deals on massive TVs on Black Friday. Videos of snarling housewives showed the lengths we’d go to for a good deal, dependable consumers that we are.

This year was no different. There were 14 arrests after a mass brawl at Tesco Extra in Watford, and six staff were treated for smoke inhalation as furious shoppers reacted to the Solihull John Lewis selling out of Dell Inspirons by setting fire to the Customer Service counter. A man died in the Russell Hobbs stampede at Lakeside.

Only none of that actually happened.

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A gay old time

Flintstones, meet the Flintstones, they’re the modern stone age family. From the, town of Bedrock, they’re a page right out of history.

Let’s ride, with the family down the street, through the, courtesy of Fred’s two feet. When you’re, with the Flintstones, have a yabba dabba doo time, a dabba doo time.

We’ll have a gay old time.

Had that fucking tune in my head all day because, in a truly world-summed-up moment, I saw a man yelling it into a traffic cone this morning.

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One or two assignments

More young people than ever are deciding that they would like to go to university to improve their career prospects – or, as I highly suspect, to delay actually having to get a real job and contribute to the society that has spoon fed them up to this point in their lives.

With university comes study, and also the need to live alone; probably for the first time in the lives of the majority of people who choose to go. This is an excellent opportunity for young people, and a true chance to let their hair down before they have to cope with the real world of work, taxes and other pressures. Yet, what do most students decide to do? Fucking moan about it.

You only have to look at Facebook to see it. Things like “Wow, I have SO much work to do” or “I have to get up SO early tomorrow” or “I’m SO broke, I don’t think I can afford to eat for a month”. The problem is that these students don’t appreciate the luxuries they have while they’re young, and while the Bank of Mum and Dad is still wide open for business. They’ll be in for a shock when they drag their sorry little asses to a proper job – one that requires genuine commitment – and have to work for a living with no way out of it.

“Wow, I have SO much work to do!”

No, you don’t. You attend lectures for maybe 30 weeks out of the year, if that, and do pretty much fuck all in between. You might have one or two assignments to complete during term time, and a few exams at the end of the year but, all in all, that is not a lot of work. Not to me, a hard worker in the real world. The problem is that you’re so fucking lazy you’ll leave everything until the last minute – you always have work to do, but you don’t actually spend very much time doing it, because it seems like a better plan to go out and get pissed, or arse around doing “crazy shit” round campus. If you stopped being so fucking bone idle, you might actually get work done before a deadline, and be able to chill the fuck out for once.

“I have to get up SO early tomorrow!”

Again, no, you don’t. Unless you’re an idiot who’s decided to get accommodation a million miles from campus the earliest you’re going to start is 9am. Which, newsflash, is not early. I’ve seen university timetables, with your 12 hours of teaching a week, plus several late starts or whole days off. You’re going to be in for the shock of your life when you actually work shifts that mean you have to be there for 7am, getting up in what must now seem like the middle of your night. So you know what, enjoy your fucking lie ins, because once you graduate you can kiss them goodbye.

“I’m SO broke, I don’t think I can afford to eat for a month!”

Okay, so this might be true. But the sad fact is that it’s your fault. University students get money for free. Money that hard-working taxpayers have paid into the system, or money that your parents have given to you – despite the fact that actually, you’re no longer a child, can successfully tie your own shoelaces, and really shouldn’t be relying on hand-outs any more. What’s so bad about getting a job anyway? In my day (how ancient does that make me sound, for fuck’s sake) we all had jobs alongside study, there were no parental hand-outs, and help from the government was minimal. And, to be honest, I remember being grateful for it.

So yes, your lazy attitude and lack of job doesn’t help, but what about your spending choices? You don’t have enough money to spend £10 in the supermarket, but yet somehow you can spend £30 on one takeaway meal, or the same on drinks on a night out. You need to sort out your priorities, and if you don’t, it’s your fault.

Ultimately, students need to get a fucking grip, or they’ll be faced with a very serious reality check when they leave their protected little bubble and enter into the real, scary world of adults. Student life is the most cushioned existence ever created – all of the freedom of choice of adulthood, with none of the real responsibilit. And still they fucking moan about it.

Just to survive

You only have to walk into any UK pub to overhear a conversation bashing benefits these days. It’s something that splits opinion all over the country. With the growing trend in what media experts are dubbing ‘poverty porn’, it seems as though people on the breadline are being made out to be the lowest of the low, the dregs of society, the absolute worst human beings you could possibly encounter. And that generalisation annoys the fucking hell out of me.

Sure, there are some people who are living on benefits because they either don’t know or don’t care about what happens in their lives, and they genuinely think that the best way to live is to effectively steal money from people who’ve worked seven days a week for the whole of their lives. Don’t get me wrong; I think people like that are absolute idiots – because they give the rest of those on benefits an incredibly bad name. But that isn’t the full story.

You see somebody who isn’t working. What do you think of them? If you’re anything like the majority of judgmental shitheads in the country, you’ll immediately jump to the conclusion that they’re lazy scroungers who are good for nothing. But have you stopped to consider the fact that they might actually have a disability? You might not be able to see what this is, it may not be obvious to you, but there’s every chance that it’s there. They may spend the whole of their lives in pain, waiting until they are able to take their next dose of medication to ease their symptoms a tiny bit, without even having the positivity to hope that things could get better.

They might crave normality in their lives, and might spend every waking hour wishing they were able to get up and go to work, but knowing that they may never be able to. Instead they have to rely on other people – which might lower their self esteem even more, and will never be able to “contribute to society” in the same way that some people believe every human being should be forced to – no matter whether they’re physically able to or not.

You should also be aware of the actual statistics with regards to benefits claimants and the proportion of money that the government has to spend on them. The way it’s portrayed in the media, you would be forgiven for thinking that most benefits payments are given to the jobless, but this isn’t often the case. A lot goes towards the state pension, which is for people who have worked their whole lives and paid more than their fair share into the economy. So, do you seriously think that they should be made to hand back their pension and go off to work? I don’t think so!

And then there’s that lovely group of middle-class earners who take ‘child benefit’, because it’s their right to do so. They don’t need it but they take it anyway. And they’re often the ones moaning longest and loudest about scroungers. Lovely folk.

So, before you sit in the pub, talking shit about what you “believe” or what you think you “know” about the economy, benefits, and the way things work, just remember that really, you probably don’t understand even half of the full story. And, by tarring everyone with the same brush, you’re probably ruining the lives of people who need these benefits just to survive day by day.

You never know – you might be reliant on “the system” at some point yourself.

Peston’s children

Between the stories of lunatic Islamists on the rampage all across the world and John Noakes going missing in Majorca – unrelated as far as I can tell – a significant news event has snuck quietly between the gaps with virtually no fanfare. A whole country, and a famous one at that, has been banned.

Greece is done, finished, no longer allowed to exist. If I were hilarious I’d make some reference to the Monty Python parrot sketch at this point, but I’m not hilarious. A country that has done a fair amount for the advancement of humanity has been told by a selection of economists that it must now shutter up its tavernas and quit that stupid bloody dancing, because they’re all now to be scattered to the four corners of Europe and their lands shared between Bulgaria, Turkey and, controversially, Chad.

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A clock in reverse

The mind of the master is as clear and focused as in any of his finest paintings. The bleak yet characterful lives of the women of Algiers are explored deeply just as their bodies are thrown onto the canvas almost neglectfully, Picasso’s binary view of the human female creating a vivid portrait of the dualism of 20th century life.

A hundred and fifteen million quid? Are you taking the piss?

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