Category Archives: Law

Non Disclosure

Currently the level of cock-up in my current contract has reduced as after four weeks certain people are starting to get the idea that they can’t just throw company money around any more without proper recording or authorisation. The folks who hired me are looking at their cashflow and marvelling at how many procedural holes it was leaking out of. They’d been relying on an old fashioned cheque book and Corporate credit card to pay the bills and always wondering why they were struggling to keep their fiscal heads above water. Now they know. All we have to do is tidy up the in-house documentation and that’s another contract done. Think I’ve broken the back of this job with under two weeks to go. Well done Bill. Providing my clients stick to the Inventory, Purchasing and Sales order procedures we’ve thrashed out and don’t slip back into the bad old ways, they’ll be fine. Why they didn’t do it that way from the off is a mystery. They had the accounting package, the computerisation, all the software licences set up, they just weren’t using them. Oh well, it all makes work for the working man to do. Another happy tick on the old CV and another non-disclosure clause. Which everyone signs, but so few pay attention to because we humans are such terrible gossips.

Regarding non disclosure agreements, as a follow on from a recent post I’ve been asking around my legal contacts about civil Non Disclosure Agreements, those tricksy little contract clauses forbidding a signatory to publicly or privately discuss matters they have been paid not to discuss with others. The consensus seems to be that such orders are no protection against a criminal court action. Only courts can issue what are effectively ‘gagging orders’ and those will only be effective within a specific court’s jurisdiction.

So say if you know your organisation is breaking the law and that criminal activity is reported to the relevant authorities, that non-disclosure clause in your contract can be worth less than used toilet paper. In the case of a criminal prosecution, individuals are not allowed to hide behind NDA’s if called as witnesses. Especially if someone is trying to cover up fraud, sexual assault or worse. Which means the civil penalties outlined in such agreements cannot be enforced in a court of law if they were designed to prevent witnesses and victims testifying. Not without a charge of perjury at any rate. This is my understanding of these matters, if it is flawed, then corrections (With citations) in the comments, please.

Now, onto the juicy stuff. The Weinstein scandal. Ooh yes matron. The dark and shady doings circling actress Rose McGowan’s possible testimony are interesting. A warrant was issued for her arrest because she left drug contaminated luggage, which may or may not have been McGowan’s own drugs, on a plane. Unfortunately for the prosecution, mere contamination means nothing. Bank notes contaminated with cocaine still circulate out of ATMs. Indeed, back in 2010, it was reported that most British Bank notes were so tainted. Which is a whole heap of nose candy in circulation if you ask me. According to Wikipedia, most bank notes are contaminated and such false positives have even led to unfair dismissal of employees following drug tests. So the contamination of items left on a plane is meaningless and won’t hold up in a reasonable court. For a possession charge to stick, more than just trace amounts have to be found and the chain of possession confirmed. Besides, in the current climate, there’s a reasonable suspicion of evidence tampering.

As for potential paedophile scandal star witness Corey Feldman’s marijuana charge, that wasn’t him, that was his crew. He just paid the fines. Which is average for any rock band on the road.
Storm meet teacup. Whether he can name the names and out his erstwhile abusers is another thing. That has yet to come into the open. Although it is public knowledge that Hollywood has been manipulating their pet media for over half a century and then some. Just watch the documentary below about just one of the notoriously Gay film stars of the 1920’s and 30’s. You heard that. Public Homosexuality in the 1920’s and 30’s? – abso-freaking-lutely.

1930’s scandals aside; the problem with all these scandals and allegations is summed up in one word; evidence. The courts can get very picky about that. Verifiable proof is required. Unless you’re hauled before the laughably titled Canadian Human Rights Tribunal. Kangaroo Court of the Star Chamber more like. It’s no good just naming names, or going into “He said vs She said” territory, credible witnesses must be produced. Victims identified. Verifiable evidence confirmed. The chain of evidence has to be close to watertight or there’s no real hope of conviction. However, reputation damage is another thing.

Because Hollywood, as Kevin Spacey has recently found out, is a place where reputation is all. Reputation gets an actor their part in a movie, confidence from investors and Distributors funds Production companies, who fund movies. Tens of Millions can rest on a single word. Now that reputation lies in tatters. It was already under pressure after multiple box office flops, but now the money, the life blood for all creative endeavour is leaving. You might say that parts of Hollywood are bleeding out after being shot by moral outrage. And there lies the opportunity for more savvy small production companies to persuade distributors to fund and allow their creative products access to the wider US markets. Fresh new blood is needed to save Hollywood. New ideas backed by non politically strangled dialogue. Not the same shit different day. That and time to heal. Simply trying to paper over the gaping wounds with NDA’s won’t cut it.

On the other hand, the current feminist litany of complaint about ‘too many men’ either as actors, producers and writers has one major flaw; the market. Women can act, produce and write as well as any man, there is no question about that. Whether they can sell a heavily pro-feminist end product, or even if a mass market for such a product exists, is another question entirely. Wonder Woman worked, but only because of the strong female lead, long-established character and story. Which is interesting, as the comic books the character was culled from were written by a man, Dr. William Moulton Marston with an all male scriptwriting team on the movie. Hmm.

Yet women writers get rich from various projects. Margaret Mitchell wrote ‘Gone with the wind’. Harper Lee wrote ‘To kill a mockingbird’. J K Rowling isn’t exactly impecunious from the Harry Potter movies and associated merchandising to name but three. And there have been many others. Yet still the endless “It’s not fair we’re being repressed by horrible white men and their patriarchy!” Whining. Yet there are many successful female agents and one particular casting Director who works (Her name has slipped my mind for the moment) for Jerry Bruckheimer and gets credited in many major movies and TV series (Including Star Trek, the next Generation) from the last two decades. Don’t take my word for it. Watch the credits after a movie and look for specifically female names. There are more than you’d think, and they’ve all earned their stripes. Same as all the men.

This is because everything Hollywood puts out is driven by the market. Because if people like an idea they will go to see it, pay for their theatre tickets, buy the DVD’s and the movie or TV show will make lots of money, then the Producers and Distributors will be looking to fund another to make even more money. If an idea isn’t popular, then it will graunch and the likelihood is that particular writer or team will not make any more, regardless of sex. Simply because no one likes losing money. There’s no patriarchy involved. Just dollars.

The truth is that a big movie project takes years of concerted effort, even for established Writers, Directors and Producers. A hit is a hit is a hit, and it doesn’t matter if you’re whatever race or religion, male, female or one of the thirty or so recently invented ‘genders’ – if the idea isn’t a ‘sell’ the likelihood is that you won’t be asked to make another. Or even get in on the ground floor. If there’s a ground floor left when all the Weinsteins etc have finished coming home to roost.

Anyway, for me that’s rather academic. My path to the fabled land of Oz lies wide open. Australian dollars obtained. Ferry booked. Airport parking booked and paid for. Maple Leaf lounge (The VIP bit at YVR) booked and paid for. Tickets, visa’s and passports. Flights sorted. Hotels and cars all good to go. Friends and relatives eagerly awaiting our arrival. Christmas presents packed along with my best silk shirts and other lightweight clothes for those sultry climes. All we have to do is make sure the house is properly cleaned and shut down for our return in January.

Not much else for me to do but practice saying “G’day.”

Update: Sorry about the cookery video instead of the documentary I mentioned. Situation remedied. No idea how that one happened.

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Amo amas amat it again

Sorry about the old Latin gag as a headline, but yes, they’re all at it. Now the UK Labour party rediscovers it’s inner sex beast (Post-Prescott) and all the puritans are kicking down the doors just in case anyone should be having any fun whatsoever. Whilst those of us in the crowd behind them are quietly chortling at the hypocrisy. From all sides.

As any Victorian-era (Or Greek, Roman, whatever) pleb could tell you, there’s nothing quite like a good political sex scandal or public execution to lighten the working week. Just to know there’s some other poor bugger getting it in the neck for their transgressions and not you. This is a universal constant in all human activity because at the core all humans know they are randy, venal, lazy, self centred little opportunists and xenophobes. On a sliding scale. Which, I might add, are excellent survival traits and nothing to be ashamed of. All else, I would argue, is a cultural veneer. The gilding of humanities base metal. A trick of insight. Gosh is that my cynicism again? Shirley Knott. Wondered where I’d put it.

For example; Someone might think they’re a ‘nice’ person, second only to St Francis of Assisi but really they’re not. The ‘niceness’ always has a few holes through which the corrosive core of their real selves may be glimpsed, and morality is a malleable concept anyway. Wanton nethers know no conscience, no matter who you are. Ergo Gods have feet of clay. Heroes are flawed. Politicians are corrupted. Saints are made of plaster. So why does everyone act so surprised when these scandals come to light?

So where is this moral ambiguity most visible? One could point to many occurrences. Twatter ‘hate mobs’ for example, who in their desperation to prove what ‘good’ people they are (Sorry, can’t help laughing at that) by going after people they disapprove of, or who have the guts to call a spade a wood handled digging implement.  With the result that these mobs try to strip the object of their disapproval of their normal societal protections and ruin lives in the process. Could that be called ‘good’ or ‘moral’? Of course not. Self-righteousness is never good. Except of course to those who indulge in it. I see it as just another form of bloodless Fox Hunt. The hate mobs sharing that vicarious thrill of chasing down and destroying something which is not them. They’re not guilty of course. No matter how many lives they ruin, or how many people they force out of employment just because they disagree with the mob.

In that vein, the Weinstein Hollywood sex scandal (and others), whilst not much of a surprise, continue to unravel as layers of Non disclosure agreements start to crack. People who agreed to keep their mouths shut for a large sum of money over the years are now looking at their Non Disclosure Agreements (NDA’s) and thinking “How can a Non disclosure agreement be legal if it covers up a crime?” Which is an excellent question, and one I and many others would like to see answered. If a murderer got his victims family to sign on the dotted to say nothing after one of their own had been killed, I’m sure that if it ever came to light the courts would not find in favour of the transgressor, or would they? Same for rape, or fraud, or anything else which the law says is wrong. Surely such gagging orders verge on legal malpractice?

As far as I’m aware, NDA’s are business contract clauses meant to protect business information, like recipe’s, processes and patents. Their use as ‘gagging’ orders, particularly to protect wrongdoing, either in commercial or personal affairs, is from what I’ve been able to ascertain, a very grey area of the law. I’ve even gone so far as to put the question to our families legal eagle. She deals with NDA’s all the time and will be able to give me a more informed legal opinion.

All the above notwithstanding, today’s tasks are tidying up the last details of our trip to the fabled land of Oz this Christmas. Yes, and as you can see in the picture, my tomato plants are doing very nicely thank you. After we get back from Oz in mid January I’m thinking of starting an indoor Herb garden to add to my perennials outdoors. Dill, Basil, Oregano, that sort of thing. In the meantime I can be easily located by following the peals of merry laughter as the mighty tumble. Sterling is regaining value too. So for the moment we’re all smiles here at Maison Sticker.

There’ll be tears before bedtime

Road trip is booked, planned and good to go. Trans Canada all the way out to Newfoundland & Labrador and back. Hotels, gas stations, mileage are all plotted and sorted. We’re taking the northern route out and the quickest way back via Highway One. About the only provinces we’ll miss en route will be Nunavut, the Northwest Territories and Yukon.

The one thing to sour the edge of this magnificent undertaking is the passing of the egregiously idiotic Bill C-16 giving what should be purely a civil matter over to criminal law.  Which means if you use the wrong pronoun to the wrong person you can go to jail. I watched Jordan Petersen give evidence to the Senate in the clip below and I’m inclined to agree with Dr Petersen’s gloomy prediction that this will not end well for transgenders.

The question the politicians overlook is this; if you run the risk of prison by offending someone by forgetting to use one of their alphabet soup pronouns, then will that encourage you to associate with them? Got it in one. It will have exactly the opposite effect to that intended. Transgenders and similar will find themselves even more marginalised as people will unconsciously avoid them even more. I’ve already heard of teachers saying they’ll hang up their teaching tools for good this year over this issue. These are veterans of the chalkface you understand. Experts in bringing children from bottom of the class to the top percentile. The cream of the profession. Now faced with this catch-22 of a bill, I can see other child care and social work professionals doing likewise. To the very detriment of the people they would normally help.

Likewise anyone with eccentric hairdo’s or any of the other indicators of such a lifestyle will be getting nothing from me but a cursory look and a long, deep silence. Because you can’t prosecute someone for something they won’t say. On the grounds that I might find myself prosecuted if I unconsciously offend the offence seeker in any given instance. So if you’ll forgive me I’ll be giving the high shoulder in future to those with blue, green or any unnatural hair rinse, or any of the other indicators that denote one of the newly privileged few. This is entirely understandable because I, like so many other Canadians, will be doing so in case we give some undefined kind of offence and run the risk of arrest.

Second thought: What this means is that I will be taking my money to businesses who do not attract such people. Again. It’s not because I dislike them in any way, although the one’s I have met haven’t really impressed me. It’s simply that now the threat of fine or imprisonment has been added to what should be a purely civil matter, I’ll be taking my custom elsewhere. This isn’t hate speech, it’s simply me protecting myself.

Sincerely,

His high Kekness Bill Sticker. God-Emperor of the known Multiverse, (Oi Vey for short)
FYI: The correct form of address is to Kowtow (meaning 2) three times before giving yourself a wedgie and kissing the ground under my feet. Get that wrong and you’ll be nicked chummy. Sauce for the goose etc.

The law of unforeseen consequences

The law of unforeseen consequences is one of those universal concepts operating independently of any human intervention. Like Energy (e)=mass (m) times the speed of light (c) squared or the Laws of Thermodynamics (Simplified definition here) or Kirchoffs laws. Or Newtons laws of motion.

Now you don’t have to be a genius to understand the above concepts. They’re all soundly researched and tested. Solid High School level science. However, the one that is almost always ignored is the Universal law of unforeseen consequences. A law recognised (although under different names) by such intellects as Adam Smith’s Invisible hand, John Locke when he railed against the perverse unanticipated effects of legislation and Frederick Bastiat’s What is seen and unseen. And of course the modern definition from the work of Robert K Merton.

So it is with the current furore about ‘Fake news’. The key questions are: who defines what is ‘Fake’? The Germans? The UN? Google? What criteria apply? If factually true is answer, then most mainstream offerings will have a big FAIL stamped on them. Especially the Op-eds that masquerade as ‘news’. Particularly ‘news’ items proven to distort and misrepresent events to fit in with a particular world view. Like a dozen protesters made to look like hundreds, crises over-dramatised, innocent people subject to witch hunts, and half truths presented as fact.

The amused thought occurs that perhaps the tactics of censorship could be turned against those who militate for it. Specifically making official complaint about various ‘news’ organisations and using their state-sponsored laws against them. An FOIA here, a little research, a quick Fisk and watch the censorious monster crumble to dust in the light of dawn. Stuff a lot of bloggers have been doing for years. I think a few of Germany’s proposed fifty million Euro fines would soon empty, say CNN’s coffers, right into the hands of lawyers and legislators. Indeed, even official sources might find themselves wrapped up in a Gordian knot of their own legislation. All it will require is a little due diligence on the part of the bloggers. Which means a lot of arse covering, but serious bloggers tend to fact check a lot more than their mainstream counterparts. Indeed, it’s all part of many bloggers raison d’etre. As for the ones who just make shit up like those who claim the Moon landings were a hoax, well, open your wallets boys and say “Help yourself”.

So, let the battle of ‘Fake News’ move into a hotter phase. What larks, eh?

Better to light a candle than to curse the darkness

Or so goes the old saying. First coined by Amnesty International Founder Peter Benenson. If you want to get all biblical about it, there’s always Romans 13:11 “And that, knowing the time, that now it is high time to awake out of sleep: for now is our salvation nearer than when we believed.”

In this CCTV, Internet and phone surveillance daze, has the first sign that the ‘security’ pendulum is stuttering, and at last beginning the long slow swing away from total surveillance? Which was an impossible dream anyway. With the amount of digital traffic out there, even the most heavy duty filters would be hard pushed to track down bad guys as quickly as in a TV cop show.

Are we seeing a new, predawn light? Who knows? Even though the US Congress has passed the US Freedom Act by a landslide, legislation designed to curb the worst excesses of the notorious Patriot Act. Tis a consummation devoutly to be wished. Providing that the Senate don’t trash it and the Golf pro currently occupying the US Presidents chair doesn’t veto it on the grounds of ‘National Security’, even though the sponsors of the original, and notorious Patriot act have admitted publicly that mass metadata collection is of little use against terrorism.

Wonder if it will catch on?

Probably not. It was a happy thought while it lasted.

Yes, I’m evil, so sue me….

Firstly a small declaration of interest; I am a landlord. An owner of property in the UK which is rented out to others. A ‘parasite’ in the words of those whose grasp of economics is considerably lower than that of a heavily sedated slug. A ‘blood sucking vampire’ whose untimely passing shall be rejoiced at by all the lefties doing X-talentless dance challenges on his grave. If they can drag themselves from in front of their taxpayer-subsidised video games to be bothered. Please be advised; dancing on my grave may prove difficult, as my will stipulates that my ashes be scattered outside territorial waters. But chaps, don’t let that stop you trying.

Okay, that’s that out of the way. I’m out of the closet. Yes I’m an evil landlord, so sue me (Good luck with that). Now to the meat of the subject. In the run up to the UK general election there’s a lot of talk about ‘Mansion’ taxes on wicked and predatory ‘buy to let’ landlords. As prophesied many times in this blog and elsewhere across various forums and comment threads of the jolly old Interweb, this is a mark of the mainstream politicians desperation. They’ve spent all your money, and your grandchildren’s money buying votes, now they’re coming for private property. The public cupboard is bare and the pollies* are desperate, and anyone with any assets at all (unless they can afford really good tax accountants) is in their short sighted target area.

The reason behind this post is me getting into a minor comment thread spat in the Tellytubbygraph with one of the ‘Entitled’**. In a mildly robust exchange of views I posed the question; Does anyone remember the late 1970’s and early 80’s before people could buy their council houses so readily?

I do. I have clear and vivid memories of vandalised and derelict council housing throughout the industrially declining UK West Midlands. Whole streets of them. Whole council estates even. A little like a genteel version of modern day Detroit. Post WW2 semi-detached properties (for a North American equivalent – think ‘Duplex’) boarded up like wall eyed ghost towns. Broken side doors where unruly kids, copper thieves and the down and outs had broken in to leave devastation, illiterate graffiti, human faeces, decay and piles of syringes in their passing. In short, places where no one cared now made uninhabitable through lack of maintenance. There are still instances of houses, especially in Liverpool and similar, where whole streets are in this condition. And the equation is simple; Economic stagnation = few or no jobs = fewer people with less money = Lots of unwanted housing.

Throw left-wing, ideologically stifled bureaucracies into the mix and there you have it. ‘Managed decline’. The default position of big government. Empty houses in economically stagnant districts with no-one who can afford to live in or maintain the existing properties. Which might as well be bulldozed and the whole site left to turn into unproductive scrubland and swamp, thence woodland, followed in a century or two by the Greens favourite; ‘Ancient Forest’ full of Bambi and friends, but very few humans. Hooray! Or rather not. As a side note; putative Bambi’s should take note that ‘Ancient Forests’ are not full of pixies, elves, gnomes and pretty ickle flutterbies like in those cute animated Hollywood movies but rather home to Mr B B Wolf and friends, whose name for Bambi translates loosely as ‘Lunch’.

So what’s the answer? Government subsidies and plane loads of immigrants to provide a future tax base and spend their money on improving the housing stock? Which won’t do much good if said migrants don’t have the skills or motivation to build a better or economically active society. Or whose imported culture means they spend their disposable income on new religious buildings. Ending up dependent upon handouts from an ever more cash strapped country where the cupboard has been bare for quite some time. Because no-one is actually innovating, trading or making things. So more migrants will be needed. Who will bring their own baggage. And not much money. So the slow spiral of decline will continue. Until some far sighted politician (Unlikely to be elected, never happen) decides to take the wheels off said cycle, or the whole lot burns to the ground. BTW: The riot and burning strategy was tried in UK city centre riots of the early 1980’s (Which didn’t work – see the economic ‘broken window’ fallacy).

In these blighted areas, where councils can’t or won’t maintain and rent out the properties in question, the buy to let landlord becomes a tool of regeneration. They will put money into vital property maintenance and indulge in the necessary day to day negotiations and arguments with tenants. Where there is a market. It’s how we Evil Landlords make a living off our investment. If there are people with jobs and money, they need places to live. That is what we provide. A ready base of operations, especially for a highly mobile workforce.

To call someone who actually spends money on a building to make it fit for habitation a ‘parasite’ is rather ungracious to say the least. The tenants did not wish to invest time, effort, and twenty (possibly thirty!) years or so in their own bricks and mortar, but are happy for others to risk doing so, no problem. For property investment is a risk, one of the largest anyone will ever make. A hint about renting; treat it as a business arrangement, and all will be well. Mess things up then bleat like an entitled sheep about how ‘unfair’ it is that you have to actually pay for the roof over your head, then the Gods of decay and desolation will never be far from both your and your landlords door. I’ve heard it said that houses are not built as slums, they are made slums by the very people who live in and own them.

At this point I would like to introduce my reader to some useful Evil Landlord rules.

Rule 1: Never rent to male students, people on benefits or those with extensive skin art.
Rule 2: Insist on direct debit for rent. Avoid anyone who wants to pay by cheque or cash.
Rule 3: Never get involved in anything longer than a 6 month ‘Shorthold Assured‘ tenancy.
Rule 4: Keep in touch with your tenant on a monthly basis and make any non tenant incurred repairs promptly. Agree regular maintenance schedules in the tenancy agreement and stick to them.
Rule 5: Avoid entanglement with Social Services or any Local Authority body as much as possible.
Rule 6: Trust nobody and use lawyers.

Of all the above, please note that Rule 6 is the most important. Keep it brisk and businesslike. Anything else invites disaster.

*Pollies; Lamestream politician. So called because of their characteristic repetitive parrot like squawking.
** Entitled; someone who thinks they should be given a free ride off the backs of others, in short, a parasite.

Now, gods…….

Shakespeare had it; why bastard, wherefore base? Indeed. History is liberally seasoned with those of us of (Cough) uncertain (cough, cough) parentage who have made good against the odds. Some would even say that condition can act as a spur for success. As far as I’ve been concerned it’s always been used as a sideways ‘shut up or we’ll tell everyone, slaphead’ or ‘Bill, don’t embarass your poor old Mum’.

As an aside to that topic, today I have found myself dancing a careful conversational Gavotte with UK lawyers and tax advisers. Dipping my toes in turgid legal waters to map out a fiscal path from A to Z. Not that this is a Machiavellian ploy on my part to asset strip another family member, more a sidestep to avoid being asset stripped. Both by family and ultimately, HMRC. The closest metaphor I can come up with is it’s like tapdancing through a minefield wearing outsize divers boots. Every leaden step becomes future threatening. Every decision must be taken only after consulting at least three sources.

When I’ve told friends and acquaintances of my difficulties, it’s interesting how quickly the old chestnut ‘blood is thicker than water’ is trotted out. In other words “Oo, you can’t call him out as a lying, cheating whoreson ‘cos you share some familial DNA.” Sorry chums but that’s just emotional blackmail, in effect saying that you can’t claim your rightful and legal due because you might hurt someone’s feelings and they’ll never talk to you again? Hmm. Now there’s a fine howdy-do and no mistake. What do I choose? Modest wealth and security for myself and my little clan of wife and stepkids who I have come to love as dearly as life itself? Or do I let my originating family, with whom I have little real emotional attachment actively prevent me from managing my own assets and leave me with a massive UK tax bill? No contest really. Hell, I’ve even emigrated.

‘Coming out’ to being a public bastard rapidly opens your eyes to the faults of others, especially when you suspect they think you’re some kind of total eejit, simply through the lottery of birth. Particularly when you think they’re going to screw you over. It’s also amazing how complex apparently simple matters can become. Especially when there’s a glint of gold in the air. So here I am. Do I, in thinking that there are financial and legal shenanigans afoot, cry ‘havoc’ and let slip the dogs of law? Or do I continue to solicit, beg, cajole, play nice and gently persuade the offending party, who has so far ignored requests to deal with matters to my satisfaction?

There’s the rub. Now if the letters speed, and my intention thrive………..We shall see.

Where there’s a will……there’s a won’t

For anyone who has ever been a beneficiary in a will, or who expects to be, here is a cautionary tale.

Last year, as followers of this blog will be aware, my Mother died. Lost my dog on the same day, but well, that’s another hole in the heart. Now while my dog, being canine did not leave a will, Ma Sticker did, and a pretty penny it is too. Well it would be. If not for the Executor, my elder sibling. Who is being an idiot. And may be about to get a very nasty legal and fiscal shock. But first, let me fill you in on some family background.

Elder sibling and I share the same mother, but that is the total depth of our relationship. My mother married his father, according to family legend “Only because he had a car.” At least according to one of my cousins, who spent a gleeful hour at my mothers funeral letting cats out of bags, showing me a familial walk-in closet full of skeletons and reminding me that I am the family bastard. “But Bill, we thought you knew.” Was another family members semi shocked response to my statement of disbelief. Well kind of yes, and kind of no. Of course I was aware through a combination of guesswork, surmise and ‘why am I over six feet tall and built like a dray horse whilst everyone else struggles to get past a slender five feet eight’, but it’s a hell of a thing to get the news you’re a “Love child” straight from the horses mouth. Especially at your Mothers funeral. With all the gruesome details of how my mother was cheating on my brothers father, who did what, to whom and when. Cheers, cousin.

Well it’s true. I am the scion of an adulterous relationship. My biological parents were not married when I was conceived or born. I know this is no big deal any more, but autre temps, autre choses. It was back then. My only beef is that my parents, particularly Ma, continually bluffed and obfuscated on this topic while they were alive. Honesty on their part would have made my life so much more straightforward. Isn’t family guilt just wonderful dahleengs? There are so many things they should have done but didn’t because they thought they would get into trouble. Now belatedly I have to do the fixing myself. My birth certificate has to be changed for one. I’ve contacted the relevant court, and doing the changes means an expensive personal visit to the UK. Court fees and lawyers. Clucking bell.

What my parents’ misplaced guilt also resulted in is stuff like elder sibling going to private school and getting his university education fully funded while yours truly went to a bog standard comprehensive and a variety of technical colleges. He got the Gap year, I went straight to work at seventeen, all that jazz. Not that I resent these ‘advantages’ (if that’s what they are – I think they’ve narrowed his mind rather than broadening it, but that’s just me), it’s just that no-one seemed bothered to give me the choice when there was one. I was the one who took the beatings, both fathers not believing in sparing the rod. Such is life. You can play the ‘what if’ game until the cows come home but it won’t change anything. All you can do is not pass the bad shit on. There, having just talked to youngest via Skype, who is currently touring New Zealand, I think I may just have succeeded. So not all bad then.

So, that’s the background. I’m a genuine bastard son of a bitch, but you all knew that anyway, you cuddly little kittens you. Meanwhile, back on the subject. Legacies. Wills. Legal shizzle. Inheritances. Money. Moolah.

The good news is I stand to receive a goodly sum which will set me up for the rest of my days. If the Executor can get his act together. The bad news is, elder sibling is doing anything but. Getting anything out of the estate with him in the drivers seat is like pulling back molars with a set of nose hair tweezers. The will states the estate is an even split. No trusts, challenges or codicils. Probate was granted back in early October. All discoveries have been made and outstanding bills settled. No challenges, taxes paid, yet sibling wants to hang on to the major asset, which is a brace of rather pleasant little country cottages, officially valued at just shy of a very large sum indeed. He tells me he wants to ‘invest’ our inheritance jointly in those cottages and live off the rental income. I try to tell him they’re potential money pits which we should sell off, or we’ll end up losing money. I tell him I don’t want estate funds spent on them. I tell him he could make more money by selling up, splitting the estate and investing his share in more modern rental properties. Response? *crickets* La-la-la, he’s not listening. Even though he’s legally bound to execute the will and any losses he makes have to come out of his pockets, not the estate, for as long as he remains Executor. Which until the estate is fully paid out, he will remain. It’s not as though I’ve seen a penny so far, either. Despite there being significant liquid assets available ready for paying out.

As an aside; for those of you who need to make international currency transfers, here’s a piece of advice: don’t send it by cheque or in cash. Use a currency broker. Reason; you’ll get a much better rate of exchange from a broker than a bank, and they take care of all the money laundering restrictions. Broker transferred funds are available within 48hours, cheques take almost a month to clear. Canadian Banks also report cash transfers over $5000 direct to the tax man if they think the provenance of the source is a bit dodgy. They don’t like sterling cheques over CAD$5,000 either. Over a certain amount, cheques and money orders also get reported to the security services as possible terrorist activity. Believe it, the banks use special data mining applications to comply with these financial regulations. They can get fined millions if they don’t comply. RBS got caned a cool 5.6 million GBP a while back for not being careful enough. As did NatWest, Ulster Bank and Coutts. Oracle provide products for the very purpose of detecting money laundering. The only way round these restrictions is carrying large wodges of cash in your luggage, which is something the customs guys tend to frown upon.

Elder sibling does not ‘believe’ any of this. He refuses all my advice. I do not care. I just want him to execute the will and pay out my share of the estate a.s.a.p. before he manages to fritter half of it away. What he does with his own share is his business. Am I going to use my share of the money wisely? I think so, yes. I have an carefully selected Investment Fund Manager and Tax Accountant on standby. The additional question is, do I trust sibling? Well, funny you should ask that. No. His repeated failures to cough up and the way he is handling communication between us is ringing loud warning bells. I may have to lawyer up smartish. Which may prove expensive for both of us. Fortunately I have a top notch UK-qualified and based family lawyer waiting in the wings (Youngest). What I hope to gain, properly invested, will not only benefit me, but eventually our two reprobates and their families when it comes to check out time for Mrs S and I. As for who will get the job of Executor, well, it won’t be one of the beneficiaries. I’d rather pay a lawyer to do it.

You know, it’s at times like these I’m moved to reflect that I’ve never really had a close family and nowadays find myself wishing for even more distance. Maybe Canada was nowhere near far enough. The next galaxy, perchance?

Where there’s a Will

– There’s a Lawyer. Busy at present with legal forms and functions which all need notarising and registering. Taking care that no-one outside of our chain of command gets a look in. I’ve also drafted a Will for the first time in my life. Which feels strange.

On the domestic front Mrs S has been away on family business, as have I, and there’s been little I’ve felt like posting about. I got home a couple of days before her and have been idling a little before the next project hits the fan.

In the big wide world I see a scary disease which melts yer innards has taken over the headlines from scary people who like murdering people the hard way in the name of their god. Well it is coming up to Halloween. God says these ISIL / ISIS wankers are nothing to do with him. He’s not a fan of organised religion anyway. You should hear him when he talks about the Papacy. Not a happy deity.

The price of gas (petrol) locally has dropped over twenty cents a litre and oil prices are heading through the floor because the Saudis have upped production. Which is good for some people, not so good for others. Economic bubbles are going ‘pop’ and the apocalypse is upon us. Are you saved, brothers and sisters? What again? That’s the second time this week. You rapture if you want to, but leave me out of it. Hi ho. Same shit, different day. Ebola? I recommend washing your hands and observing a reasonable standard of hygiene. Oh yes, and not going to Middle Eastern war zones. They’re a funny bunch. A bit touchy if you know what I mean.

For my own part, the only recent oddity in my life has been a resurgence of appetite. Take the day before yesterday; Just finished work for the day and I had, not merely a half formed hankering or vague sense of peckishness, but a full fledged neolithic rage for a steak. Real red meat. Nothing else would do. So I skipped off to the local store, spent the princely sum of eleven bucks on a reasonable piece of cow flesh and took it home to fire up the grill. Shortly thereafter said slab (Big enough to cover my entire hand and over a thumbs width thick) was consumed with gusto and Dijon mustard. After gorging myself, I emulated sated carnivores the world over, parked myself in a place of comfort and safety (The couch) and unlike any other kind of sated carnivore settled back to watch YouTube vids on our big screen. I felt positively sybaritic.

Sorry to hear of Ranty’s confession. My only comment is this; if any bloggers experienced a ‘normal’ childhood, we wouldn’t be the wonderfully awkward sods we are. We’ve risen above the shit that was done to us and survived. Some more than others, but that should be a badge of honour in the great and not so great battles of life.