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?

Sometimes Napalm is the only rational response…….

In the wake of the Paris terrorist attacks, it turns out that France has gone all Duke Nukem and is stepping up its airstrikes on one part of the 7th century death cult cancer. But then they were planning to up the stakes anyway and the students union level politics of the attackers have simply given the Frenchies even better justification for blowing even more Jihadists to the promised land. Nuke ’em jusqu’à ce qu’ils brillent et leur tirer dessus dans le noir (until they glow and shoot them in the dark – as if you didn’t know). Cheese eating surrender Monkeys? Mmm. Yeah. Personal experience? I like them. Outside of Paris I’ve found most French folks so laid back they only have to turn their heads to kiss their own pert little buttocks. Yet piss off any Frenchman, and they will go all Jeanne D’Arc on you.
Duc Nukem Merde Je Suis Bon
Even though, like a lot of people, I’d never even heard of Charlie Hebdo until the Jihadists propelled it centre stage. Quite frankly, having had a look at said magazines content I wouldn’t have crossed the street to piss down their throats if their lungs were on fire. Now however, outside of the lamestream media, those ‘blasphemous’ cartoons the fanatics wanted to suppress for ‘offending’ their prophet (How exactly do you offend a dead guy, BTW?), have spread like a forest fire on steroids. Said magazines readership is way up and the gunpersons Islamist buddies are about to catch some extra garlic flavoured hellfire and napalm. Oh yeah, and yet even more people are queuing up to ‘insult’ their prophet. Marches of support for the dead lefty’s (Whether the same amount would have turned out had Charlie Hebdo been right wing is moot). Growing protests across Europe against the attackers religion. That worked out well, didn’t it?

The problem is, these Jiahdists, like all fanatics, are beyond reason. Their rabid intolerance of any but their own narrow little world view has always put them beyond the pale. Ever since the Mughals (Muslims themselves, devised this amusing little public entertainment). Despite the more enlightened of their own religion saying (heavily paraphrased) Look guys, wind your necks in or we’ll all be casualties.” And even, “If you don’t like it here, fuck off.” The rabid death cultists cannot stop killing because they’re way past the point of thinking rationally about what they are doing. Over the sanity event horizon and accelerating. Hate and intolerance drives their souls, blackens their merciless hearts, gives them their very raison d’etre. The only way to deal with them, distasteful as it sounds, is to put the mad dogs down. Hard. While the politicians cower, the rest of us are saying, if you have to kill for your religion, maybe your version of God worship needs a little work. If not, sometimes napalm is the only rational response we have left.

Depravity

Hello. Once more, greetings from the Bill Sticker Sarcastic Society for the Protection of Words. It has come to the attention of our Senior Librarian that another word is in serious trouble. This dire circumstance forces us to mobilise our highly trained team of Stunt Linguists, Grammarians and Etymologists to rise and take up dictionaries in defence of a word so twisted by misuse it could work as a haunted trees stunt double in an enchanted forest.

Today’s word is:

Depravity
Line breaks: de|prav|ity
Pronunciation: /dɪˈpravɪti
Source Oxford English
/
Definition of depravity in English:
noun (plural depravities)
[mass noun]
Moral corruption; wickedness: a tale of depravity hard to credit [count noun]: I wondered what depravities had occurred in that place

Mid 17th century: alteration (influenced by deprave) of obsolete pravity, from Latin pravitas, from pravus ‘crooked, perverse’.

What truly counts as depraved? Sex? Hmm. Some of the more extreme aspects of BDSM, perhaps. Kidnapping and raping children, most definitely. However, top of the list has to go to killing people for simply saying they don’t think much of your religion, or giving support to said killers by word or deed. Specifically when applied to defenders and promoters of a certain 7th Century death cult. Which, by the way, you can stick right up your arse. No matter how many defenceless satirists the death cult is willing to kill. Only those truly steeped in the deepest slime of depravity could think otherwise.

By the way: Here’s the French ‘Wanted’ poster.
Suspects in Charlie Hebdo massacre
Now reported dead.

Vive Charlie Hebdo. Vive la France. Nothing depraved about them (mostly).

Working class hero

New year in a couple of hours. At least in this time zone – it’s already New years day in Oz. There’s also a curious sense of change in the wind. Although maybe not the ‘change’ those on the big government side were hoping for to keep them in their cosy sinecures. Or the ones Lennon hoped for. He forgot that class is a veneer, an illusion, which can be altered by anyone with a minor talent and will to change. It’s the secret of self made people all over the planet. Want to be working class? Dead easy; take on an accent, move to a new town, slip into that way of life and you’re there. Want to be upper class? More difficult as the credentials are harder to fake. Ask any con man. Better to be (the toughest option by far) your own person. Besides, the notion of class is merely a hangover from feudal times. You don’t have to be in any class if you don’t want to.

As far as this blog is concerned, I’m going to put a few things together and post them, just for fun. See what happens when lightning strikes. (Igor! Throw the switch! Not at me! You just can’t get the henchmen nowadays, I blame the media.) I’m sick of bitching about the ‘do as I tell you’ brigade. Fuck ’em. They don’t listen anyway, so I’ll be returning the compliment. Apart from sticking my oar in on the occasional blog post or lamestream comment thread. So, no change there then.

In future, I’ll be focusing a little more on the humorous, satirical, scatological and sarcastic. That and perfecting my Martini mixing technique. I’m developing quite the taste for them.

TTFN. See you next year.

Why worry?

Every day it seems, some public figure pontificates that life would be so much better if we just did what their pet academic suggests. Give up another freedom, do what you’re told peasant, because we’re so much more clever than wot you is, thickie. We will save the world if you just sit down and shut up (although I’d really, really like to know who they’re saving it for and what from – probably for themselves and the hoi polloi, surprise, surprise, won’t get a look in). After all, they’ve got all those letters after their names, nary a one from the bailiffs (That we hear about), so they must know what they’re talking about, right? So the rest of we mortals should just shut our moronic mouths, bend over, and take it up the chuff. Whether we like it or not. As usual. Yet wasn’t something similar out of their mouths in 2011?

Excuse me if I sound a smidge more grouchy than usual, because I’ve been having a fairly unfestive reduced fat, salt and taste Christmas at the in-laws this year. Both of whom are slimly built with BMI’s in the ‘normal’ range, doing enough exercise to keep two couples their age fit. Yet, according to their physicians, both have blood pressure and cholesterol ‘issues’ meaning both are on a permanent regime of statins. My drug use by comparison, is limited to a couple of painkillers every now and again. Maybe once a month, if that. My blood pressure, on a diet rich in fats, proteins and salt, although very light on grains and gluten, is (wait for it) a rather staid one twenty five over eighty at rest.

In addition, despite all the in-laws talk of how many fabulous, just fabulous dahleeng, recipe’s they knew, none of said comestibles were observed on or anywhere near our plates. So, following a less than happy yuletide visit I will say this; whatever my dear wife’s blandishments I’m not going there again because next Christmas I intend to be somewhere else. Berlin perhaps. China maybe. Or Alpha Centauri, the Andromeda galaxy, whatever. And all the festive seasons thereafter. Somewhere I don’t have to keep my bloody mouth clamped firmly shut because my wife’s sister and her husband have ‘mainstream’ (Islingtonite) corporate views. Sorry Bill, but you can’t say you don’t believe in man made global warming and totalitarianism, that would like saying you like to torture kittens. Notwithstanding, I rather like animals. In-laws by comparison, have never been observed to have so much as a goldfish around the house. They didn’t much like my dog while he was alive, either. Bill Sticker rule of socialisation 64B para 4: Never trust anybody who doesn’t like animals.

Sister in law hasn’t liked me since the moment Mrs S introduced me to her clan and sis-in-law greeted my appearance with “Oh, it speaks!” Now I know I’m a big quiet (mostly – honest officer) guy who can appear (very) intimidating at times, but really I’m just a big ol’ teddy bear who likes nothing better than having his back scratched, a good book and a quiet corner. But doesn’t much care for being prodded. Nor insulted to my face by a then total stranger. Then told I couldn’t simply ignore their bad manners or retaliate in any way shape or form. On last visit sis-in-law also called me paranoid for not wanting big government to oversee my every motion. Which firmly zipped my lip for the rest of the visit. If it wasn’t for my deep and abiding affection for my lady wife, I would have verbally ripped Sis-in-law a new one on the spot and walked out never to return, but you can’t do that (So I’m told). Anyway, that’s beside the point. She is a lifetime corporate drone with an awful letterbox grimace doing duty as a smile. So much so even I can see where the “A smile is evolved from a threat gesture” idea came from. Her conversation was limited to how rich and wonderful ‘her’ friends are. Repeatedly.

Speaking of which, now where was I? Oh yes. Academics and public authority figures. Now let me make this clear, I have nothing against others having a more extended education. Let those who are best suited to such study keep going to college or Uni. Let those degrees pile up. Let them expand their minds and delve into the very essence of matter and space / time and the tiniest nuances of DNA. Develop their intellects to Charles Atlas like proportion. Only I wish others would keep more of it to themselves instead of trying to kick intellectual sand in other people’s faces.

There was a time when Academics, oh best beloved, were rarer and stuck to their studies, mostly eschewing the world outside their dreaming spires and ivory towers, leaving the rest of us mere mortals alone. Now they twitter, tweet and publish, making all sorts of theoretical claims. Now pay attention at the back. I say, you boy! Remember that word, theory. Which some people confuse with postulate, which isn’t even enough to qualify as an hypothesis. Theories are partially ‘proven’ (Under given criteria), postulates are not, got that? I will be asking questions later. I hope you brought enough Scientific Method for everybody or the whole class has to stay behind.

Now all this would be fine if these wild postulates stayed corralled within the realm of academia. Academics should discuss and argue their postulates and theories. Between themselves. The problem is funding. Academics need to live too. Under the current system, to live they must publish in academic journals. Which is unfortunate, as a lot of ideas that really need the lumps knocked off them are published way too soon. Then politicians and activists sink their claws in and go quoting specific papers as gospel, when the publications in question are really just ideas for checking, duplication, replication, proof or rebuttal. Let’s say, ‘When reverse pummeling Transept A, B and C did K. I think it’s because K is a specific value of N, a subset of D which correlates with F. Does anyone else get the same answers?’ Which is what may have a lot of science researchers doing massive faceplalms when the media get hold of (or are fed) their carefully thought out postulations. Perhaps vouchsafing; “Oh God, I never said that K was related to mutant flesh eating bacteria at all. Can’t these people read. Who wrote that effing press release?” Then heaving a massive sigh of relief because publication means they actually get paid for the next year. Only a politician or activist on the make would ever claim “The science is settled.” Because science is never settled. Even Hawking says he got it wrong about event horizons (abstract here) and has since amended his views in the light of evidence. Peer review or no.

Speaking of evidence, are the polar ice caps and glaciers still there? Er yes. Polar Bears? Doing nicely thank you. World not ended because someone switched on the Large Hadron Collider? Still here. Is the Oil running out. Cheaper and more plentiful than ever it would seem. More superstorms? Not so you’d notice, no. The end of snow? Not in Las Vegas this year, or the year before. Ahem, are we noticing a developing theme here? Not doomed? That’s nice. Denier? Who’s them then? Not me. The only people in denial are the prophets of doom. You know who you are. Wankers.

/rantmode

To everyone else, a very anxiety free, safe, prosperous and above all happy 2015 (Yes, even to my insulting Sister-in-law). See you next year sometime.

Back by unpopular demand

Well I’ve caved in to apathy. The Archive blog ‘Walking the Streets‘ is back up for public viewing. Shonky HTML and all. Some links might work, most probably won’t. Too many friends have moved on, been sabotaged, given up blogging, leaving the old pile a lumbering Frankenstein of a thing, hardly worth repair; keloid scarring on the HTML and everything. Some code has had to be amputated, other fragments left inoperable. Don’t even try viewing on your smartphone.

Is he funny?

Every so often I pop out for the evening, then I do my zip up before I get arrested. No seriously. The most pertinent question of modern times is; is Russell Brand funny? Or even profound? He certainly thinks so, and is determined to tell the rest of us just how funny, profound, caring and intelligent he is (Yeah, right). Very loudly. In a profoundly irritating in-yer-face hectoring manner guaranteed to put backs up. Even if he knew where to find the right targets (Which he doesn’t). Especially when the guys bankrolling him were the very people he’s railing against. There’s a curious kind of irony there.

My only reason for speaking out is because at present his ghost written garbage is clogging up downtown Victoria bookshelves. Which rather puts a damper on what should otherwise be a pleasant Saturday afternoon bookstore experience. Placed in large end of aisle displays, Brand’s deranged eyes follow you around the store, making you want to plant the blade of a very large logging axe very firmly between them. Or take a chainsaw to in self defence. Not that I’d waste the energy. Having on one occasion picked up a copy and skim read some of the contents, I was unimpressed. That’s three minutes of my life I won’t get back.

Brand is like so many others of his ilk whose acts I’ve actually seen live, crap. I’ve seen these so-called ‘big names’ and found myself wondering why they’re so famous if they’re so rubbish. These media darlings can’t handle hecklers and their material is as tired as Ben Elton shouting ‘Thatcher!’ very loudly. Wasn’t funny then, isn’t funny now – one trick pony’s never are. Nowadays even the hecklers don’t have a go because there’s either a ‘no heckling’ rule in the club (which is really very sad, and very poor training for would be comedians) or the audience can’t work out what the imbecile on stage is ranting on about and are bludgeoned into a kind of stunned silence punctuated by nervous laughter. Known as the ‘Let’s laugh at the nutter until he goes away‘ type of faux-hilarity. As for ‘edgy’, sorry folks, I’ve seen ‘edgier’ custard tarts. He’s only on the tired old wall to wall media because he has the ‘correct’ lamestream political views popular with a small Fabianesque London-centric clique of media influencers. Who are so lacking in any real form of wit that they form a curious kind of anti-intelligence. Part of the dumbed down cultural Alzheimers afflicting the western world. Proof of Rory Bremner’s assertion that satire has died. I cite Brand, the X-Factor and Simon Cowell as proof that this is so. They may also be at least partially to blame for the UK’s ‘obesity epidemic’.

On the whole I’d give the failed hairdressers model a big thumbs down. Wouldn’t even cross the sidewalk to give him a toonie to stop busking. Brands kind of un-hilarity strikes as more funny peculiar than funny amusing. Like the occasional crazed street beggar with a bad case of Tourette syndrome, more to be pitied than laughed at.

Things I’ll miss about England….. Part one

I’m in a bit of a nostalgic mood at the moment. Missing my dog a lot, even over four months on I’m still having the odd little moment when passing displays of pet food in the local supermarket. Funny that. Having lost two close family members this year, you’d think my mind would be constantly referring back to them, not the family pet. On the other hand, the revelations I received about my parents and what they did have tempered my grief somewhat.

Having recently sworn the oath, signed on the dotted line etc, this is the time to count ones blessings and take note of why Mrs S and I walked the path that we have. While I’m in this reflective state of mind, I thought I’d list a few things I miss and don’t miss about the country I was born in.

The weather; there’s actually quite a lot of this in England. Microclimates by the bucketload. Morning sunshine almost inevitably followed by a cloudburst around teatime and leaden grey skies the rest. Nonetheless, despite having been stuck out in some pretty inclement stuff at all times of the year, I have a genuine affection for it. Particularly the last week of April and first two weeks of May when all the buds have broken and the air is laden with heady Maythorn blossom, new mown grass, the first scent of roses outdoors, keeping all those whiny hay fever sufferers inside.

The countryside; Outside of the urban centres the UK can be quite a pretty little place, when the inhabitants are not busy fouling their own nests with windblown garbage. Doesn’t take much to find it either. Just a small step off the beaten track with a mind to wonder and an ordnance survey map. Leaning on a gate, reading the landscape for the plethora of hidden history. Lumps and bumps in pasture that could be a hidden Roman ruin, Medieval fishponds or last years silage heaps. As a long time fan of Time Team, I’ve always been amazed at how chock full the British countryside is with the remains of civilisations long gone.

The class envy; Canadians are, on the whole, not really bothered about whether someone has an educated accent or not. Education for most is a thing to aspire to, rather than be jealous of. But the whole unthinking “He’s posh / poor so I think he’s a tit.” or “I went to Eton / Inner city compo so I’m better than you.” (Having met a few public school types, this is so often not the case. Likewise for its inverse) attitude is not so embedded or widespread as in the UK. We have no real equivalent of Jeremy Clarkson.

The crowding; If I want to get stuck in a people jam I’ll go back to a rainy Oxford Circus tube station on a Friday at rush hour. Then there’s the narrow little roads full of narrow little houses and a lot of narrow little people. Not all, but they’re a dying breed. Here we all give each other room, and it’s not unusual for there to be a metre gap between people in the Tim Hortons queue, although the Canadian habit of leaving two car lengths between vehicles when stationary at traffic lights can get a tad frustrating. This is where Jeremy Clarkson’s attitudes might come in useful.

The bad manners; No, don’t miss this at all. Not a whit or even a gnat’s bollock of a smidgeon. Don’t miss the long faces, the bitter petty jealousies, the petty race-baiting. Yeah, well we get a bit of that, but not much. Everyone seems to be pretty relaxed about race and sexuality over here, apart from the odd fruitloop. Love the customer service over here, all the “Have an awesome day.” and “No problem.” (either Canadians are a nation of bloody good actors or they really mean it.) Apart from when dealing with cell phone companies, but that’s a global problem. Or is it just related to T-Mobile? Or Bell? Were they trained by Jeremy Clarkson?

Who knows. Maybe that’s something else to be happy about. Or not. TTFN.

Regards

Bill

P.S.; Watch this space….. or not.

Expatriate expostulations from Canada

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