Tag Archives: New beginnings

Interesting times

My, my. We do live in interesting times. Niall Ferguson argues in his “Five ingredients for a populist backlash” talk about why we are where we are using history, from 1873 onwards;

While he doesn’t give any definitive answers, he does give a broad brushstroke picture of what will result. Which for small time investors and currency speculators like me are useful straws in the wind. I like Niall, he’s not afraid to admit when he gets it wrong, especially over BREXIT. Unlike so many others in academia.

What I’m hearing about is political and economic forces similar to those which resulted in ‘la Belle Epoque’. There will be a few hiccups along the way, but as the EU collapses because that organisation is correctly observed to be little better than a hollow bureaucratic shell to fund lavish lifestyles for European ‘elites’. I foresee a new, more localist optimism driving economic growth, and the fading of many bugaboos like the anti-human notions of man made climate change and similarly pointless divisiveness of identity politics. A new liberalism of less government, greater individualism and wealth awaits over the next decade or two for those who are willing to embrace this nascent trend. Those that do not face obscurity and the scratching pens of scholars trying to work out how ‘progressive’ politics got it so badly wrong. The ‘elites’ amongst them. Word is leaking out that they’re beginning to lose big, and like Soros and his ilk, are doubling down on political interventionism while billions leak out of their back pockets.

There’s a lot going on out in the big wide financial world with talk of Marine Le Pen’s bid for the French Presidency and possible ‘FREXIT’ vote. Not to mention the possible Italian ‘Uscitalia’ (Thanks Peter) I’ll also be keeping a close eye on the proposed Catalonia referendum vote scheduled for late 2017. As well as the Chinese doing a possible deal with the US over Alaskan oil. Which will spell yet more pain for the politically hobbled Alberta oil sands. Which are some of the reasons why I’ll be going short on the Euro and Canadian Dollar but long on the US Dollar and Sterling.

Woodwork and nail guns

Well that’s it, the Drinks cabinet is finished and the house smells of varnish and woodstain, which will go away after a few days. Frankly I’ve stopped noticing it already. Everything works and Mrs S has a better looking reading corner. Job done.

One nice surprise was my electric stapling gun. An Arrow ETF50PBN, which is fine for what I need it for, and makes stapling domestic cable runs a breeze. Only good for softwoods though, but I don’t need anything heavy duty. What amused me was it is able to shoot nails too. Well, one type of nail, a 5/8th inch BN1810 to be precise which will require a last tap with a light hammer to drive home, but this is good. I now have a capability I didn’t think I had. No more bent nails because my hammering technique is on a par with a Tourettes sufferer with a bad case of sleep deprivation, and using a nail gun there’s no denting of the wood.

Home Depot still stocks the nails and staples, so despite being over fifteen years old my electric stapler / nail gun will do all I need it for. Which was the final nailing of the finished back over the rear of our pine drinks cabinet. This final phase took longer because I stained the outer skin, so that was another two hours drying time out in the garage (We have a garage! For the first time in absolute yonks!), so fixing the back happened about seven pm last night.

The new home is taking better shape after six weeks. Pictures are finally going up on walls with more to do. Mrs S and I are discussing ways to make the place look a little more homelike, a little less stark whilst retaining the lack of clutter and not spending a bloody fortune. Things have been worse.

eutanic-rock-and-a-hard-placeI’m also keeping a weather eye on the currency markets and looking at taking a serious (for me) short position on the Euro. The Euro is going to take a big hit over the next few months due to the French and Dutch elections because of the strong showing Euro-sceptic candidates of Le Pen in France and Wilders in the Netherlands garnering popular support. The news coming out of Sweden and France regarding Immigrant riots and the large uptick in sex crime will give them extra momentum. So it’s a fairly safe bet to say that if the Euro sceptics don’t win, they will at least come in a close second. In the meantime, I’ll be shorting the Euro. I may lose a bit at first, but what with BREXIT looking a bit more steady, the EUtanic will be going down and I’ll be able to trade out at a reasonable profit. We may even see the return of the Franc and Guilder. That will be interesting.

Another little bit of woodwork

Well, I’ve reached the half way point in the Drinks Cabinet project and proved to Mrs S yet again, that she may be married to one of the world’s few real multi-tasking men. Even if I had to cheat a bit. Having said that I think I’ve perfected my recipe for fish stew, but the Lemon and Garlic Couscous to go with it needs a little work. Less lemon, a spot of butter, and a trifle more seasoning with a scattering of finely chopped bell peppers should do it. I’ll post the method and ingredients under cooking for conspiracy theorists when I’ve nailed it all down.

drinks-cabinet-during-01A small job popped in via email and was quickly dealt with, then I busied myself with the usual chores and a bit of furniture redistribution before removing the shonky looking backing of the cabinet to expose the rebate (See before and after pictures). Why someone fitted that rubbishy looking 3/8th inch square Cedar beading in there is beyond me. I took it out anyway.

drinks-cabinet-during-02Next was staining one side of the inner back section and giving it a double coat of varnish. While that was drying, I fitted a small LED strip light under the shelf, running the cable to the left and left rear of the cabinet out of the back. Then once the inner panel was dry, I dropped it into place and fixed with a few panel pins and some carpenters glue. In the words of Cinderella overheard by palace servants just after her wedding to Prince Charming “It fits! OMG! IT FITS!” Have you any idea what they were up to? Me neither.

drinks-cabinet-during-03So how far have we got? Well, not much further to go. I’ve sanded the outer panel and got rid of the labels and manufacturing stain. The light fitting works nicely, and I should be finished by supper time tomorrow. No more groping around in the semi darkness of the single malt lottery and having to squint at wine labels for us. Although the wine rack is empty as we’ve been buying 3 litre boxes of reasonable Australian and Argentinian Cabernet Sauvignons for the last few months. Which saves all the fuss and palaver with Wine Savers and other such widgets if you just aren’t in the mood to quaff a full bottle.

I’ll restock properly in a month or two when the weather improves enough for an afternoon glass or three out on the deck watching shipping drift past along the Juan De Fuca and trying to ignore all the panicky hand waving over something someone has said on the Interweb, or Donald Trumps latest policy implementation, or BREXIT, and possibly even a FREXIT if the French electorate decides to bet on Ms Le Pen. That could be fun.

In the meantime that’s it really. Same stuff, different day. Life plods on.

Out of Synch

At the moment I’m a bit out of sorts, a weird sort of pseudo jet lag where my body hasn’t moved but it’s behaving like I’m living on Atlantic time rather than Pacific Standard. Which means I’ve been waking up at 4am like it’s 8am and doing almost a days work before breakfast. Then come early evening I’m ready to flake out. Feels like my body clock is having a bout of jet lag without any travel involved.

Which helps when you’re talking transatlantic to other people on the phone for an hour every time. But it’s no fun when the weekend comes as Mr Boring here is going to sleep at the wrong times during social occasions. Still, I don’t mind as there’s a potential big payday on the other end and in recent years I’ve gotten into the habit of working to the job, not the clock. Getting in early to finish early, or finishing when the work is done and not before. At least working from home I don’t have to face commuter traffic with the proverbial matchsticks holding up my eyelids like I used to.

This WorksafeBC thing is still hanging over us, and we’re seriously contemplating Mrs S moving into a more consultant like role where she doesn’t have the security of a regular work contract, but isn’t being transformed back into a wage slave, which she says she hates the idea of. Funny thing about freelancing. Once you start, you never really want to go back to the dreary old nine to five. Which is where our major objection lies. None of her colleagues want to be reduced to clocking in and out either. Not to mention the power of entry and control WorksafeBC can exercise on ‘workplaces’. You might like the way you’ve set up your screen and keyboard in your own home, but if the guy with the measuring tape disagrees, they can shut you down on the spot. In your own home. Mind you, from what I’ve heard, their inspectors are rarely seen up country, even when people do call them about real safety violations. So we might be thinking about buying a place that is somewhere a little too far out for them, but still has a reasonable Internet service. Or shutting down altogether. From what I hear, some of my wife’s colleagues and support workers have already done so rather than lose their privacy. The rest are busy giving their MLA’s and everyone else in range serious earache. The consensus seems to be that they will submit to the intrusion, but only under extreme protest and very grudgingly. This is, as I have observed to my wife several times, not going to end well.

Anyway, Mrs S is off to Jolly old Londinium in May and is currently obsessing over flights and hotels. I’m thinking of popping over to the old country to see what it looks like and go visit friends and relatives oop norf. However, I haven’t decided yet, so watch this space.

Squirrel!

Over at Longriders, I picked up the story of UK Government ‘health’ advice for people between 40 and 60 to get more sleep so as not to burden the ‘wonderful’ (Snarky guffaw) NHS with more of our unwelcome ickiness than necessary. What is it with these people? Don’t they know there’s a pensions crisis? Too many people (Including my good self) who are hurtling towards old age and presumed infirmity for the nations finances to afford. Not that I intend to use or expect much from the system. I have my own resources, and intend to keep them well out of the reach of HMRC through every legal avenue available. Yet I’m left with the thought, if ‘unhealthy’ living causes people to pop their clogs in an untimely manner, isn’t that a good thing, economically speaking? Eat drink and be merry, for tomorrow ye certainly die, yes? Fewer ‘seniors’ pottering around with their walkers, using ‘precious’ health resources, nonchalantly trying to avoid the questing gaze of the old grim reaper. Good, not so good? You tell me. If the options are between dying of a massive coronary at age 79, or facing the mercy of the Liverpool care pathway at age 81, it’s not much of a choice, is it?

There’s a lot of contradictory ‘advice’ that squitters out of the anus of Government propaganda via the lamestream media. Save, don’t save, spend, don’t spend. This is bad for you, oops, no it’s not but this is, oh sorry, wrong again. The Earth is warming out of control and it’s all your fault but if we tax you more it’ll be fine don’t you worry, but we’ll spend the tax on things like ‘outreach’ groups and other pork barrel promises to buy minority votes. To which my response is always WTF? Even if the lamestream told me the Earth was about to be hit by a ten mile wide asteroid I wouldn’t believe them. I’d be out in the back yard at night trying to spot it with my 20×50’s and a nice big mug of hot chocolate. The only people I’d actually believe would be the first hand sources like the less hysterical astrophysicists and Astronomers who can prove they know their stuff about orbital mechanics.

As for my Canadian GP, he’s a bit old school which I’m quite happy with. He doesn’t lecture or fuss over the latest directive, just deals with whatever problem we come in with. Which is quite refreshing. “Yeah, that’s healing nicely.” He said, checking over Mrs S’s busted wing having read the Orthopedic surgeons report from the rehab clinic. No other questions like “How much do you eat, drink, sleep, smoke and shit?” Our health is our concern. His job is to fix it when it’s broke. Which is as it should be.

For our part, we emulate the Squirrel. Building up resources against the Winter of infirmity and old age so the state doesn’t have to.

And we have a lively local population of tree rats. Mostly Greys, but there is a tribe of Blacks across and down the street. One of the Greys regularly makes a racket using our front guttering as a rodents rat run from one side of the property to the next, then three others which have been busily raiding next doors Walnut tree up to three nuts at a time each. Don’t believe me? Here’s three shots I took late yesterday afternoon.Squirrel raider 0 Here’s one, on his first Walnut raid of the day, legging it across the carport roof outside my office window as though all the voraciousness of the world were on his heels. Which for a squirrel is quite possible. They’re a prey species for just about everything short of Mule Deer.
Squirrel raider 1 Now see the little tinker, taking three(!) nuts at a time off to some store for what may be a harsh Winter. It might be a rerun of 2013/4 where we saw icicles as big as Elephant tusks as far south as Langford and Esquimalt. So, these squirrels are obviously ‘prepping’. Which is a sensible precaution, and probably why there are so many healthy looking squirrels in the neighbourhood.
Squirrel raider 2In this shot, here is our little interloper, selecting the biggest nut he can find (I think it’s a he, but with squirrels it’s hard to tell). For my part I am emulating the Squirrels provision gathering. Nothing fancy, just basics. Rendering Landladies abundance of tomatoes into litres of a very nice pasta sauce which reside in the freezer with the curry and soups. Picking up flour and yeast when it’s on a deal to bake my own artisan breads when necessity dictates. Squirreling comestibles into storage so that when relatives descend upon us from across the globe this September and December, they will leave for warmer climes (Australia, Tanzania and elsewhere) with full stomachs and happy memories while we will have spare in the larder for the cold months from January to March. All you have to do is keep your stocks rotated, and Robert is one’s Father’s brother.

Not that I believe there’s going to be any worldwide disaster, just that things will carry on being a bit tighter than they should be, and the wise man will always emulate the Squirrel, putting a little by in the Summer for when the hard times inevitably come.

Just another day at the office

We’re filling in travel insurance forms today to ensure the paper trail on Mrs S’s injured arm is up to snuff and all treatment gets paid for. Our travel insurance company is coughing up like a good ‘un, but we’re still covering our backs just in case someone, somewhere down the line says; “Oi! Mon-sewer. Vous n’avez pas paid for this!” and sends us a large demand with added Garlic (and Gallic) menaces.

Filling in forms has never been one of my favourite occupations. I always find myself asking the question; “What on Earth do you want my Mother’s old cats maiden name for?” Especially if it’s for a Dog licence. Fortunately the depth of information we’ve been asked for this time round is simply to do with Mrs S’s little tumble and subsequent treatment. We’ve copied all the original treatment documents, which are in French, but easy enough to get the gist of if you’ve spent any time working in and around hospitals. Although having carted all said treatment notes and prescriptions back across the pond, we’re still wondering what to do with the X-rays. No-one here seems to want them, so I toyed out loud with the notion of having them framed. To which Mrs S simply said; “Bill. Get them framed by all means, but I won’t let you hang them on my wall. Or anywhere else in the house.” When she said that, she had that certain, how shall I put it, uncompromising look in her eye which I know of old. So like the wise fool I am, I’ve backed down and squirreled the offending black and whites in our refurbished closet along with all our old photographic negatives.

As she’s having trouble typing, having only one effective hand, the fracture being well up the forearm towards the wrist the cast itself all but immobilises the fine motor movements needed for keyboard work. Seeing as I have no urgent jobs on, this means I’ve become my wife’s ‘Scribe’. Effectively, I sit at her desk and type up whatever reports she tells me to. Which has been an education in Educationalese, and has provided a few moments of innocent merriment as I have been learning to read between the lines. Oh what a tangled web. Then there’s showering, and a host of other little things she needs help with, like getting dressed, putting in ear rings (Which is a pet hate of mine – no idea why) and a whole raft of other personal tasks short of going to the toilet. There’s also been the interrupted sleep when she unconsciously thumps me with her cast clad arm in the wee small hours and around the back of my head. At times like these the night time sofa beckons, as a nights uninterrupted kip is well worth the price of a stiff neck in the morning. It’s better than bruises.

Nevertheless, the tasks aren’t onerous, I’m getting an extra beer ration, so no real complaints. We’re off ‘oop norf’ to our old homestead up island tomorrow to see some friends and make some work related house calls. So probably no posting. Unless something really dramatic happens, in which case I’ll be back nose to keyboard like a flash.

Anything else? Not really. The cast comes off next week, and Mrs S starts physio. We’re planning a cross border road trip to see how our Southern cousins are doing first hand and maybe do a little bit of shopping if the prices are right. The sun is shining, and for the moment we’re still ahead of the game. So, no complaints.

TTFN

In praise of rain

What is it? Just condensed water vapour, falling from the clouds. Yet there is a poetry in it; a soft lilting cadence in even the most torrid downpour. Even when raindrops are coming down so hard they splash and meet themselves coming back up a foot above the ground, forming a sparkling fairy carpet of silver. When even trees provide scant cover against an aqueous bombardment rattling their leaves. Must be the Irish in me that sees such beauty in torrential rain.

Back in my foot patrol days, I liked being out in the rain. Unlike so many of my contemporaries, for whom the mere occlusion of a cloud over the sun was cause to stay close to base. Days when I’d go out bang on time, spending my day under trees and lurking in doorways, and having done my stint, get back to base only to find I was the last man out there. Not that I minded. Even when the rest of our crew said it made them ‘look bad’. As if I cared. Being paid to take a walk, which was my definition of the job, was my idea of heaven. In any weather. The authoritarian part of it was an inconvenience, but I was never the most enthusiastic enforcer, only resorting to that part of the job when contravention was so blatant that even the most liberal would cry “Oh FFS, Bill! Book him!” in frustration. The general dyslexic still kept me busy. Was it that long ago? Well I never.

Today I’m watching rain fall from our tiny Parisian apartment as the skies dump a cleansing dollop of airborne water over our little Arondissement. The Plane trees in the centre courtyard occasionally thrashing like manic dancers under periodic downdraughts. Cafe owners glowering up at the leaden grey and counting the Euros lost. Locals and smokers lurking under their umbrellas or in cafe’s until the pleut passes.

Then the clouds, having divested their skirts of so much water vapour, will sail sedately on like fat women after liposuction and the sun will bless the world again. Umbrellas will be returned to their stands, cafe proprietors will lay out their tables, people will stop by on their way back from work and a cleaner world will turn once more. Then there will be the warm, clean smell of wet earth replacing the odd ammoniac whiff of Eau de Tramp, garbage, traffic fumes and spilt diesel. At least for a while.

Why I vote for……..

The silliest candidate available.

Apropos of Sweet Fanny Adams; when I resided in the UK, it was the Monster Raving Looney Party. Even my late mother used to vote for them. Mainly, she said, because the mainstream parties had grown so unrepresentative of the everyday folk, that having a complete self avowed barmcake schlepping down the corridors of power in clown shoes would be a definite improvement. Yes, you’d still get roads and bridges to nowhere, but mandatory caravans as second homes for MP’s, population limitation to 63 million and an end to the war on terror, along with repatriation of anyone who emigrated to the UK prior to 55AD, which is a bit of tough luck for all those Saxons, Vikings, Normans, Huguenots and other johnny-come-latelies thinking that it was safe to take a breather and revert to their native accent. The OMRLP are also firmly opposed to Greyhound and Whippet racing to prevent the country going to the dogs. Which can only be deemed a sensible policy. Dog track goers might disagree.

Why I used to vote the Monster Looney ticket was mainly because the UK’s three mainstream parties were, and are, far sillier than any nonsense the ‘fringe’ parties can come up with. I mean, never mind the economy, the Tories main achievements in this term will be Gay Marriage and Plain Packaging for cigarettes. Which, lets face it, are hardly mission critical issues. Although if UKIP get a larger share of the vote on May 7th, I may have to modify this statement. UKIP I feel, would reduce the overall silliness quotient of the UK’s Parliament.
Although……..

Meanwhile, back towards the topic; in IT, when we want to say a software application application is complete and utter pants, we call it “Counter intuitive”. So bearing in mind their total ineffectiveness, the LibLabCon of mainstream UK parties can therefore be designated “Counter intuitive”. So can those institutions terminally infected by the PC virus like the BBC. So that no matter how many times a right of centre French politician says “No, we’re not connected”, the bimbo interrogator insists “Yes, but you love that Nigel Farage bloke and want to have his babies don’t you?” Without letting said politician finish, or in at least two places, even start their answer. No wonder the man in the street is increasingly losing faith in mainstream politics. It’s got so bad even the Guardian has noticed although the ‘globalisation’ attribution is missing the goal by a country mile.

Here in Canada the Harper Government has, for all its many faults, remained a steady hand on the economic tiller. Economically speaking, I wouldn’t trust any left of centre party like the NDP or Liberals because they simply don’t have a clue and would have strode in lockstep down the road to economic disaster with our cousins south of the 49th parallel. Just so no-one would call them ‘racist’ for not seeing the current President in his true colours. For the record; my sole criteria is; never mind his skin colour, is the guy any good at his job? Which in Barack Obama’s case, the answer has to come back as a ringing and emphatic ‘No’. Neither was Bush Jnr, but that’s by the by.

So, Harper and Co will probably get my first Federal Canadian vote this 2015 because overall they are far less silly than the alternatives.

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?

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.