Tag Archives: Observations

Coronovirus 2019Covp

Right. Have been trying to keep up with the news from China etc regarding this new end of the world scenario. This time in the form of a possible lab mutated Flu virus. Among all the fake news and conspiracy theory stuff there is so much conflicting information. We have confirmed cases in Toronto and Vancouver, some have been reported from the US. And almost every seasonal cough and sneeze seems to be attributed to it. This is a happy time for hypochondriacs. For a slightly more downbeat report, see below.

This is not to downplay the situation. This is a nasty bug with a reported 2% mortality rate. Compare that against 80,000 deaths in the USA alone during cold and flu season 2017-18. Not to mention the 2009 H1N1 pandemic, and the fuss over SARS. Again from the far east, the ‘bird flu’ and Severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS-CoV, another Coronovirus) pandemics were considered serious threats which then burned out.

Out here on the Pacific rim we’ve got a big Chinese community and lots of active links direct into Vancouver from Beijing and environs. Chinese New Year events are being cancelled over here. West Vancouver won’t happen. Distribution of Chinese movies has been affected. So if you’re a fan of far east action flicks, you might have a bit of a wait. Hong Kong Chinese New Year celebrations have been cancelled, partly because of the continuing protests, now with the added impetus of infection. Looks like the year of the rat will be sneaking in very quietly.

For myself I’m not worried. My antibodies should be active enough as Mrs S and I had a nasty Coronovirus flu type infection in November 2019, so are less likely to contract a variant. This not to say we won’t catch it, but our respective immune systems should have enough active antibodies to successfully fight it off.

We also have no plans for transatlantic travel until September this year. So no infection risk from being crammed in an alloy tube for ten hours with another 2-300 people breathing their contagions into a semi closed cycle air conditioning system. However, a prolonged trip to Ireland for September / October is in train and we’re going to book our flights this week. We’re also looking at long term car hire in the Emerald Isle for around two months. So if anyone has any suggestions, we’ll be glad to hear them.

New neighbours

Mrs S and I were having a chat about the news that Harry and Meghan Windsor, possibly the soon to be ex-Duke and Duchess of Sussex, have set up shop on the other side of the Island highway in Saanichton.

Saanichton isn’t that bad an address. At least the rural part of it. a little dull perhaps. But there’s reasonable transport links, the Brentwood to Mill Bay ferry. A decent marina for a hundred foot plus boat. I know it well. Then Victoria (cough) International airport (Only if you’re travelling to the States) isn’t far away. There’s also a cute little seaplane place not far from the Spitfire Grill around the back of the airport. It’s pleasant enough in the Summer months. The traffic on the Patricia Bay Highway can get quite congested when the ferries from Vancouver are unloading, but there are ways around. A couple of winding back roads from the airport through Brentwood and into Saanichton. West Saanich road can also get you off the beaten track and down onto Highway One if you know which turns to take. There are wineries producing rather average Canadian wine, hiking trails, a couple of parks, sea fishing, Kayaking and suchlike. A lot of Deer, and the occasional Bear and Cougar.

Regarding the possible loss of titles, from what I hear Meghan is the major fly in the ointment. She’s been backchatting the Queen and behaving in a most unregal way in public. Which may be one reason why she and Harry are over here on Vancouver Island. If they do lose the Duke and Duchess titles over their lèse majesté, they’ll have to go through the whole immigration process to stay in Canada like the rest of us plebs, or at least their lawyers will.

Now I can’t speak for Meghan, but I’m told Harry is a decent enough sort who is allowing his affection for his wife and newborn to cloud his judgement. If I were him I’d quietly upgrade my military training on helicopters and parlay it into a professional civilian rating. Which wouldn’t do any putative immigration application any harm. At least if he and his wife intend to stay. Canadian immigration rules, okay? Do either of them speak passable French? Mais non? Desolee messieurs dames.

Fortunately they’re both set for life as far as money is concerned, although their security bills will eat through their respective fortunes fast enough without the protections afforded to those on the Civil list.

In addition; for the benefit of those who don’t understand the UK’s Royal Family, may I offer a little insight. An insight which Diana, late Princess of Wales and latterly the ex-Duchess of York, Sarah Ferguson, forgot. They too thought they could do what they wanted, and look what happened there. HM Queen rules, UK? She said frog, they had to jump. Which, after some wandering willies got in the way of their relationships, they declined to do.

The UK’s Royal Family is unique in that it is the last real sacerdotal monarchy left in the world. That means the hereditary head of state, currently Elizabeth II, is both the titular head of state and landlady to most of the UK, she is also the head of the Church of England. Well so what? You might say. Well actually not so much “so what” as what HM Queen does as her job.

From sparrow fart until bedtime Liz II has her whole life mapped out for her, from cradle to grave. She is the head of ‘The Firm’ as Prince Philip once perceptively referred to the Royal family as. Because as Royals their lives are a business, the business of the visible state. All the parades, protocols and flummery that help socially glue the UK together.

Not only that but as head of state Elizabeth II is also the head of the UK’s military. You know when someone makes the rhetorical challenge “You and whose army?” Ahem, well that’s hers, including the tanks. As well as the UK’s Navy and Air Force, which she lets politicians borrow from time to time. Their oath of loyalty is to the Crown (Apart from the Royal Marines, who swear fealty I believe, to the board of Admiralty), which Liz II is the public figurehead of. It’s a strange, symbiotic relationship between the person and her immediate family, and the entity that ensures the continuity of her rule, or rather not rule. The queen is notoriously apolitical. Sometimes, some would say, to her personal detriment.

However as monarch, the Queen’s whole life is bound up in narrow protocols. She has very little say over her daily activities because she is the visible component of the whole machine that is the Royal Family. She can’t publicly disrespect anyone. Not even the nastiest little third world dictator, so long as they’re on a state visit. She has to be on her very best behaviour at all times. No room for even the smallest public slip in decorum.

Unlike Meghan, who seems to think that simply because she married Harry, she can treat anyone any old how. Actually the opposite is true. If she wants to retain her title, she has to apologise to the Queen, promise to do better and then keep her word to the absolute letter. She must now set an example. Follow protocols and precedence. Do the duty of deputising for the sovereign when called upon to do so. Because by marrying into the UK’s Royal Family and taking on the title and privileges, that became her new day job. She is no longer a B-list celebrity actress but a Duchess, which probably requires far better acting ability. Indeed, it could be construed as the role of her lifetime. Unfortunately Meghan doesn’t seem to have the stomach for it and she’s dragging Harry down with her. Which is a shame.

Oh well, there goes the neighbourhood.

Digging out

Well, the snow has stopped falling and our driveway cleared after an hour of vigorous snow shoveling on my part. It was good exercise as there was between ten and eighteen inches of global warming snow to shift. Now my working morning is being punctuated by soft subsonic thumps as the ten inches or so of snow on the roof slides off in a series of mini avalanches as a welcome thaw sets in. However the sun is out and I’m looking forward to getting out of the house for the first time since Friday. Or was it Saturday? Bloody hell, I’ve lost track. It’s already Thursday.

Working from a home office is all very well, but you do need a change of scenery after four or five days or a little cabin fever starts to set in. So we’re going out. I’ll deal with the rest of the shenanigans my morning job throws at me later. It’s only numbers. Easy enough.

The outside world trundles on without any input from this household. The Iranians have ‘fessed up to downing that Ukrainian airliner and are having to put up a patsy to take the fall for an error from higher up the food chain. BREXIT moves ever closer to a WTO ‘no deal’ outcome because the Eurocrats are still trying to stymie the whole process and why wouldn’t they? That’s their fat expense accounts that are about to walk out the door. A seventh of total EU yearly contributions are about to wander off whistling happily. Unless they get their act together, fast.

If asked I’d say the spectacle was almost pathetic, rather like the Limp Dem peer who essentially called all pro-Brexit voters ‘ignorant Nazi’s’. Which just illustrates the depths of desperation some people will sink to.

Despite all the whining and bitching from the opposition benches, who seem to be of the disarrayed mindset that if they can’t direct the game, they’re going to run interference for the opposition, things proceed. Unfortunately for them, Bojo has his majority and can more or less ramrod through the necessary legislation regardless of any opposition from the upper house. Blair set the example in the 00’s with his repeated use of the Parliament act, so the boot is now firmly on the other foot.

For BREXIT night itself I’ll be laying in a bottle of pink fizz to drink the health of the dear old UK and wish everyone in the old country every possible success. Eleven pm UK time translates to three pm Pacific, so a Friday afternoon glass of bubbles should provide a happy end to that working week.

Anyway. Where’s me shades? That reflected snowlight is getting kind of intense.

Off the wagon

Our seasonal snow has arrived and at the time of writing is drifting down in big fat lazy flakes. Mrs S and I have hunkered down and are getting on with the usual run of things. Which has led to me needing a stiff drink of an evening to unwind. Just the one.

Work is gearing up, but it looks like one of my current jobs is going to disappear during the next round of reorganisation. However, that’s six months down the line and I’m busy looking to replace that specific income stream. Of course it might not happen, but my instincts tell me it’s better than 50:50 so I’m on the hunt for an alternative.

Of course there are lots of minimum wage alternatives, but I’m a number cruncher, a linker of information chains, so going for one of the plentiful minimum wage McJobs out there isn’t something I want to do. I’ve served my term face to face with the general dyslexic and reckon I deserve the rest of my lifetime off. So, that kind of narrows my choices, as does the notion that Canada is getting less hospitable with all it’s hate crime laws and suchlike. There’s no way I personally am going to persuade the rest of the populace that voting for the wetter kind of politician like Trudeau or Scheer is a bad move. Time to bail out.

Won’t be going back to the UK. I’ve gotten used to the sheer wide open spaces of this part of the world. Rudyard Kipling’s Chant-Pagan sums up how I feel about that option. No idea what the future holds, but I’ll give it the old college try.

Merry whatever

These are strange times when even wishing someone well can elicit a hate crime prosecution. Despite this, I am feeling pretty optimistic for the New Year what with a successful BREXIT being on the cards, want to wish my last remaining reader all the best for the festering season. Solstice, Christmas, Yule, whatever; and if you’re offended by that there is no hope for your diseased and raddled soul.

Here’s an old favourite of mine to pass the flowing bowl around to. Unless you’re one of the perpetually offended, in which case you do not love yourself and will find that very few others do.

See you in the New Year.

The fear factor

While crunching numbers, as I am wont to do because it’s what I earn a crust doing, I was listening to a Timeline documentary on YouTube, where the narrator was telling the tale of the Black Death and the social changes it helped bring about.

The thing that resonated with me was the various fanatic cults that arose during those times, even before the plague arrived in their locale. Convinced that the plague was the wrath of God (Although God has told me he did try to tell them about having a good wash now and then, but no-one was listening – as usual), certain groups of people turned to that good old standby of, instead of trying to deal with their personal hygiene issues and stop killing the cats that kept the rats down, chose self flagellation. That’s right, they went about the streets crying “Woe, woe, we’re all doomed” whilst lashing their own backs with a knout, a nasty sort of cat of nine tails with metal bits sewn into the whip ends. It is said these groups of ‘Flagellants’ as they were known, whipped themselves so hard that their blood would spatter street walls as they passed. It did not save them. In their self-weakened state, most perished.

So it is that I see the “Not my Prime Minister” and anti BREXIT campaigners, driven by their own fear, choose to roam the streets crying “We’re all doomed!” and getting under everyone else’s feet. Rather like the silly ‘Extinction rebellion’ protesters. They achieve nothing and are wasting their own and everyone else’s time. Rather like the flagellants of medieval times. They lack the reasoning ability to connect cause with effect themselves, so in ignorance devolve into a hideously primitive groupthink.

Unfortunately, Youngest is counted amongst their number. Which is a disappointment. I thought she’d learned about people who keep themselves down by being the authors of their own undoing, and that there are no saviours our there. According to her, they’re all apparently terrified that those nasty mustachio-twirling Tories are going to go around gloating over all the “Aha! Some poor people to torment, har-har me proud beauties!” You know, the working people who the Limp Dems and Islington Labour don’t really care about. Except when getting their vote in to support a bunch of unemployables like Corbyn.

What I saw during the campaign was Bojo, the UK’s very unclownish Prime Monster, going around, getting his hands dirty on the shop floor. Which is something I can respect rather than the opposition whose sole electioneering approach was gladhanding activists and loyalists while mostly ignoring the electorate or beating them over the head with scare stories, earnestly trying to re-educate any recalcitrant voter and crying “Vote for us, or the Tories will eat your babies.”. That and calling anyone who didn’t agree with them immediately unpleasant names. Well done chaps. Did it work? No prizes for giving the correct answer.

The thing is that neither BREXIT nor minor variations in the Earth’s climate are going to be harmful. Now they could be, but only if people refuse to rise to the challenge of a bit of extra sunshine rain or snow, or cling to the notion that a bunch of people who have never worked in the private sector over the channel know better than local people with their noses to the grindstone, fixing problems as they arise. Seriously, the immediate future contains more opportunity than threat. At least for the UK.

All the public moaning and groaning from the defeated are like a bunch of mardy teenagers who Mum and Dad have finally called ‘time’ on are achieving precisely nothing. All the Slebs whining like kicked bitches instead of claiming a little grown up dignity and facing their mistakes likewise. Although Lily Allen’s tactic of bursting into tears and sobbing ‘vote Labour’ has given a lot of people a bit of a giggle. It’s not that we’re unkind, it’s just that it’s funny to see all these people who think because they are good at entertaining have any idea about how the world really works.

So all these British slebs who didn’t get their way are going to leave the UK? Yeah, right. But where to? Surely not to that hell hole the Trump-infested US of A? No? Well the Yanks just dodged a bullet there. To the cultural backwater that is Canada? Mm, only if they’re happy to play to the odd bilingual Moose and a couple of puzzled bears. Australia? Watch out for the big hairy spiders and the Salties, not forgetting the deadly drop bears and one extremely unfriendly sheep near Brisbane. Heaven forfend that these ungracious slebs might have to learn another language. Even if they had the brains.

The truth is, as I pointed out to our young companions whilst we were visiting London, despite the odd knife attack, the western world is safer than it has been for quite some time, if ever. Fewer deaths from disease, wars, and even extreme weather events (Explanation here). Fewer road deaths. Indeed, fewer deaths from everything, apart from those claiming a Darwin Award, (Sightseeing on erupting volcanoes and suchlike).

Most of us are living longer and healthier lives to the point where getting a message from HM Queen to centenarians now has to be semi automated. That’s right, more people than ever before in the western world are making three digits, elderly friend included. Even if her wits are somewhere west of their preferred location.

Indeed. it’s getting to the point where pension payouts won’t begin until you’re eighty. Not that it’s a bad thing. One of my cousins just picked up his last P45 at age 79. Wound up his business and was last heard of travelling eastern Europe. Similarly I expect not to officially ‘retire’ until 70. Not that I really mind. Even then I’ll find something to make a few extra bucks on the side. Trusting for state pensions to be your sole source of income in your frail dotage is not a brilliant idea. Personally, I have two pensions in the offing, Mrs S has three and that’s without factoring in our investments. Having lost three pension funds over the years, (2 pots raided by New Labour, one when the company I worked for went belly up big time) I’ve become very cautious about those Ponzi schemes and nowadays employ a broker, an accountant and a lawyer to keep my investments secure. They earn their money.

Oh well, it might not be such a short life after all, and we will have to find our merriment where we may.

Now don’t cock it up….

Well done to the Tories. At the time of writing Boris and his boisterous blue crew have secured a solid majority in the UK Parliament. According to the FT’s tracker they hit the magic 322 seat marker around 5:10am UK time. I went to change into PJ’s and my new dressing gown before heading back for a large whiskey. One minute it was 320, then I blinked and 322 popped up on screen. Not sure what swung it for him but I’m quietly glad it has. I’m sitting here in my PJ’s drinking Black Grouse and nodding to myself in grim satisfaction,

Even if Big Nige and company didn’t get much of a look in, the Brexit party deserve an honourable mention in despatches for getting out there and fighting the good fight. A quiet Knighthood for Big Nige when all the fuss has died down wouldn’t come amiss. He deserves a pat on the back. As do all the Brexit MEP’s about to become redundant. Anne Widdecombe especially. Her speeches have been pure comedy gold. What a trooper.

Anyway…..

5:41am UK time. 352 seats to the Conservatives.

5:47am and all of a sudden it’s 355. Hot damn! I didn’t think they’d make more that 345. Glad to be wrong though.

5:58am and it’s 357 no, I blinked, it’s 358. This has the same feel watching Thatcher’s election victory after the Falklands war. Will it go over 360 seats, I ask myself, sitting in my office a third of the way across the world.


Man, I’m glad I held on to my sterling reserves, I’ve just looked at what the pound is trading at. And it’s due to go higher. An avaricious little smile is threatening to split my face in two, rather like my brokers did yesterday when we discussed our future financial plans.

So what does this considerable 35+ seat majority mean? Well the notorious Benn act can be booted to the kerb for a starter and it’s sponsor Oliver Letwin thrown in the Tower to rot. Britain can exit the EU in January and let the Eurocrats come scrambling after Britain’s crumbs. As I’ve previously mentioned in an earlier post the European Central Bank still thinks that Quantitative easing and putting the printing presses in high gear will solve their economic woes. The data does not support this conclusion. As I said to my broker, “People lie, numbers don’t.”

As for Britain leaving, well, that will not make the SNP happy, but so little does. The Scots will push for a new vote on Scottish independence and if Boris is wise he’ll let them have it. Right in the ballot box. Because as we’ve seen before, when push comes to Barnett Formula, the Scottish electorate will blink. They know why. Who pays for all their social benefits and services? England, that’s who. On it’s own the Scottish economy is like Rab C Nesbitt on a Saturday night. Tottering and barely coherent. The SNP might believe in socialist economics, but their economy doesn’t.

To their credit the SNP booted the Limp Dem leader out of her sinecure seat. Don’t know about who will replace Corbyn. If it’s McDowell, so much the better, he’s a raving Marxist of the worst sort which will turn people away from the ideological dead end that Labour has become. That said, I’m a Marxist too, but at least I’m a Groucho Marxist.

Pass the whiskey and cigars. I’m taking Friday off.

Jesus H Christ on a Bike! The Tory seat count just hit 361!……. I’m off to bed.

Update: Well, well.  Three hundred and sixty five.  That should do it, although I’d be happier if someone was in Parliament that we could be sure would hold the Tories feet to the fire.

Oh well, we’ll see what happens in January.

That’s interesting…..

You know how you come across certain snippets of information and your head just nods and you do a big internal “Oh wow. That makes sense.” I had such a moment this morning when I heard about a Swedish drug company donating the sum of a hundred grand to the UK Liberal Democrat party. “Okay Bill.” You might say. “Foreign companies donate to political parties all over the world. Big deal.”

Well sort of, and don’t get me wrong I’m inclined to agree, but when it is a particular drug company which is the major supplier of puberty blockers, you might be forgiven for putting two and two together. The two halves of this little equation being the upsurge of the transgender agenda with its surprisingly smooth intrusion into public education, the Limp Dems being very much on board with the whole identity politics thing and the possible financial benefits to the drug company concerned. Not that I approve of foreign interventions in individual nation states, but money is money, politicians are permanently on sale, and a bribe is a bribe, no matter it’s format. Arms companies used to do it all the time because that’s the way certain cultures did and still do business.

Meanwhile, back on my original topic, I was thinking thus; drugs cost a lot, tens, sometimes hundreds of millions to develop, but the applications of puberty blockers are very limited. Ergo there is a smaller market for said drugs than something mainstream, like painkillers for example. Early onset puberty can prove difficult, not only for an underage child, but also for parents and anyone within their social circle. However, early onset puberty to the degree that puberty blockers are required was once a very rare phenomenon. Nowadays we are told that such things are on the increase. Some claim this phenomenon is due to ‘Gender bending’ chemicals like those found in cheap soaps, certain types of plastic food containers and cheap Teflon. Other, more credible studies cite social and racial influences for early onset puberty. Whoops! forgot the trigger warning there. Oh well, can’t be helped. Don’t shoot the messenger etc.

However, there is another, and more sinister agenda here. All of a sudden there are a lot of surprisingly well funded and connected NGO’s and pressure groups pushing an associated use for such puberty blockers via their activist agendas.

Money is coming from somewhere to fund a very small number of vociferous activists who some, even of their own kind, are loath to be associated with. Could it be that the activists have been taking a sly backhander from the company who supply the drugs used to begin a soi-disant ‘trans’ children’s descent into their own bleak futures? Because the perverted activists who have infiltrated the Anglophone education system are pushing vulnerable children that way? Just to increase sales of an expensive drug to vulnerable young people who only think they need it?

Jesus H Christ on a bike! Surely no-one’s that cold bloodedly callous, are they? Are they?

Will this be the next Thalidomide scandal?

Excuse me. I think I’m feeling very nauseous…..

Last ride of the season

Still coughing and spluttering a bit to the point where my upper chest aches first thing in the morning. This London cough has been no fun at all. I’ve been home for three weeks and it’s hanging around like a bad smell. Gone but certainly not forgotten.

The other not so good news is that the Mutts insurance finishes tomorrow. So I went for a quick spin around town for the last time this afternoon before I put my big blue motorcycle into storage. Temperatures locally have settled into the single digits with some serious hail on Tuesday, some of which, like my cough, I noted was still hanging around at the edges of the road as I rode around town.

When I was bowling along happily in the sunlight it wasn’t too bad, but once passing through shadows for more than a kilometre, despite several layers of insulation I felt the cold leaking in. After an hours meandering around at both highway and urban speeds I retreated home feeling like I’d been working in a cold store, naked. Chilled to my bones. Haven’t felt this cold since I was soaked to the skin on a rainy Winter days foot patrol. It was just like half my body heat had leaked away.

Now as Mrs S likes to say I have what she calls a ‘cold weather metabolism’. Anything above zero Celsius doesn’t really bother me. Normally speaking. I can sit in an unheated room in light clothing while everybody else has chattering teeth. Think there must be some hidden Geordie in my DNA. So the wind chill must have been getting into sub zero territory. Should have worn my trusty old heavy leather riding jacket rather than my Summer riding gore-tex. Maybe some heavier gloves and switched on the heated grips. However, we can all be wise after the event can’t we?

Oh well, it all burns calories and I’m off to arrange some storage insurance tomorrow before I put the Mutt into hibernation mode for the Winter. Not that I won’t be running the engine at least twice a week to keep the battery alive and fluids circulating. Then when the temperatures begin to rise in Spring I’ll put full riders insurance on again and get out and about. Not that it’s been a great riding season for fair weather riders like me. To be quite honest I hear all the panicmongering about the coming heat death of the universe as promised by the UN and think “Bring it on.” Some higher temperatures and less rain, at least around Victoria BC this Summer, would have been nicer. I remember the foreshortened riding seasons of the 1970’s and 80’s. Those weren’t much fun.

Now there’s a promise of a longer, thirty year global cold period coming, perhaps even a descent into a new Maunder-like solar minimum, which kind of makes a nonsense of all the rhetoric about oceans drowning the cities or higher temperatures making places uninhabitable. Seriously, haven’t these people heard of galoshes or air conditioning? No really. I’ve a sneaking notion that as things cool we’ll actually see global CO2 levels stop rising or even begin to drop off as outgassing from the oceans that cover two thirds of our little blue green planet reduces or even reverses. The upside of which will mean that all the carbon doomsayers will have to find something sensible to talk about. Not that it’s likely. Some people just aren’t happy if there’s nothing to act up about. Me, I like being able to relax and enjoy things. We only get one life each and it’s important not to waste it.

The downside of a global cooling means coughing up funds for some better insulated riding gear. Winter drawers on as they say. Note to self; must get some shares in Damart or other maker of thermal underwear. Now there’s a marketplace which is due to take off in the next few years.

Recovery mode

Well here we are, back in our chosen BC domicile. Still feeling rather rough around the edges and mildly debilitated. Whatever we have has subsided a little but not gone. It’s just lurking around like a deranged stalker, choosing it’s moment to leap out shouting “AHA! Bet you thought I’d forgotten you, eh?” On the plus side it doesn’t look like either of us are about to die, although our mutual coughs have yet to disappear.

At present there’s a risk we might both get fired as the new accounting system head office set up is (We think) still not fit for purpose. Not that it’s our fault, but the idiot in charge is covering her back, doubling down and setting deadlines which another division have just refused to comply with. That’s right, they’re trying to force us to use a new accounting system which our much larger sister division has just binned. Thus I am working on a Sunday and the following Remembrance day holiday to see if I can iron the bugs out.

So, come Wednesday there was this big video conference where we thought we were going to be hauled over the coals for not being able to make their poorly documented package work. It’s on days like these one feels like Edmund Blackadder on the eve of his proposed epic voyage around the world. That scene where Lord Melchet hands him a blank sheet of paper as a map, asking him if he’d mind filling in the details as he went along. (In episode 3 ‘Potato’) I get annoyed when people do this to me because; firstly I don’t get paid enough and secondly it’s their package which they are paid to manage. Now they’re handing out deadlines and ultimatums? Eff off. I’m no slacker. If a job is at all possible it gets done. If it isn’t, well sorry peeps but you’re not exactly paying megabucks and I’m inclined to do tortoise impersonations to within the shell of my previous job spec. My immediate boss knows this and has written some very pointed emails to the jokers pushing this implementation. Besides, if I can’t do it, I can’t think of anyone else in the organisation who has made it work. Good luck with finding my replacement guys.

Mrs S has seen my reactive scowl and remarked that maybe it’s time we both handed in our papers on this particular company. My response is that maybe it’s time we both moved on.

Well the upshot is that despite feeling like I’ve just had a serious run in with a steamroller we’ve not only beaten their deadlines to a bloody pulp by sheer old fashioned slog, along with a little ingenuity where guidelines were lacking and emerged victorious once more. Having handed in a report on the weaknesses of their systems, as soon as we’ve caught up we’ll be allowing ourselves a bit of a time out.

Despite being disappointed that we weren’t in the UK for BREXIT I see Bojo, the UK’s deceptively jovial Prime Monster has refused to play nice with Big Nige and the BREXIT gang. He may be refusing to be seen to be playing ball with a free trade, free speech faction just in case certain high-rolling donors pull their much-needed shekels from the Tories coffers. Maybe he thinks the election is in the bag. He may be wrong like Treason May was. The remoaners may yet have a sting in their treacherous little tails. The Tories I think, will need any support the light blue faction can offer. Same as they currently need the DUP. Cave, cave Mister Johnson.

However, my judgment is currently very cloudy and I feel like I need a weeks rest to recover fully. As far as any election goes December 12th will be the acid test.

The London Cough

Excuse me, I will be brief. Am currently suffering from what I am calling ‘The London Cough’, an unspecified ailment caused by excessive catarrh build up at the back of the throat. It begins with a rather unpleasant hacking cough, accompanied by repeated feverish episodes that doesn’t follow the normal pattern of a seasonal cold. Usual cold and cough medication barely touches it. Just when You’ve got to feeling somewhere near normal and you’re no longer coughing up dark green chunks, along comes another bout. Not to mention the disruption of sleep which is further debilitating to the point where only repeated naps of up to two hours each are possible. Five days of this so far (Add on top of normal sleep deprivation from jet lag as we’re back in BC now) leading to an overall malaise that makes you feel like you’ve been run over by a truck.

This malady is not quite Flu, as there are no real aches, and the fever comes in short bouts, just like having one cold after another. Very curious, but also debilitating. Mrs S was first to catch it, four days before we were due to fly out and I two days after. Thus our flight back to BC was punctuated by hacking from others so afflicted. Wonderful in flight entertainment, not. Or should that be snot?

See you when I’m feeling human once more.

You don’t hear this every day

A head of state as a caller to a radio talk show? Now that is truly awesome. What a coup.

Let’s face it, Trump lacks subtlety. He’s not eloquent, he’s brash, forthright and occasionally a bullshitter. But not an outright liar as some claim. He exaggerates rather than tells total untruths. Unlike many of his predecessors and detractors who would not recognise truth if it was tugging at their sleeves.

Don’t care much for the man himself, but I do like what he’s doing for the USA economically. The UK could have a piece of that action instead of hiding in a hole and whining incessantly about how bad Trump is.

On that topic, I never understood this reflexive anti-Americanism some people have. Maybe it’s because the yanks are brash, successful and outward looking. Unlike their most vocal critics, who come across as a bunch of petty, jealous, xenophobic losers.

Today on the home front, I’m off to lay a few evil spirits with elder sibling. Following Ma Sticker’s demise in 2014 we had serious disagreements over the estate which almost went to court. Now matters are more settled, I’ll be rubbing his nose in it in a gentle sort of way. Even if I’m not really looking forward to our meeting. I’ll just have to put my game face on, wear my best coat, a dangerous smile and accentuate the positive.

Eldest is currently in recovery mode after long term boyfriend gave her the elbow, the fool. Personally I think they were right on the point of making their relationship permanent, he panicked and ran. Not an attractive quality in a spouse to be. Getting married to raise a family is a big step and requires courage which we now see he hasn’t got. If he ever comes crawling back, I think she should first kick him in the nuts for being such an idiot then buy him a kitten to keep him company in his lonely old age. Tonight, (Australian time) she’s out on the town with her friends in Sydney to have a little personal time and think about getting a better place to live. Whilst we’re able we’ll wire her some pennies to help her keep head above water post breakup. It’s what family is for.

Steak!

I love a good steak. Which is great because steak restaurants are big in London right now. All sorts of ‘Gaucho’ type restaurants are in vogue, some where they give you a large chunk of hot stone upon which you can literally cook your own piece of beef to your idea of perfection and others where they serve a particular cut, medium rare, or should that be medium raw.

Notwithstanding, the customer service I have experienced in all of these has been little short of excellent. The quality of beef though, perhaps not as great as I’d hoped. Living in Canada as I do, the quality of steak cuisine is very good, from the on-a-budget version at a Denny’s roadside eatery to more upmarket fare, I have rarely been disappointed but for one thing, there is a cut of beef that knocks every other for six no matter how barely it is cooked. It is not often served on our side of the pond and unlike cuts I have now come to regard as inferior, can be had at a lower price. Possibly because your average Canadian consumer has yet to recognise true quality of this ‘butchers cut’. They’ll happily sink their teeth into the much chewier Rib-eye, but offer them the piece of flesh I refer to and like as not they’ll turn their noses up at it.

The piece of meat I refer to is called a ‘Flat iron’ steak and I have yet to eat its peer from any breed of cattle. Cut from the inside of the shoulder blade on a forequarter, this particular bit of muscle has an entirely different texture and flavour to any other. Firstly, texture. A flat iron steak has an almost buttery feel in the mouth, it almost melts, even when almost tartare. The grain of the meat runs longditudinally from end to end, not cross grained as with most other cuts. Properly butchered there will be no tough membranous tissue which sometimes mars the wonderful saliva inducing mellowness of this cut. Next, flavour. Mass market beef can be a bit of a flavour desert, not so the flat iron. It has a more pronounced beefiness combined with it’s splendid texture, a taste that might have you wondering why the hell you’d want to eat any other part of a steer.

The best news of all is that there is a chain of restaurants in London which specialise in this cut, serving it a little too rare for my liking, but the butchery was good and despite the redness of the meat, slipped down a treat. Did I also mention that they’re also not as expensive as most of the ‘Gaucho’ style steak houses? A full flat iron steak will feed two hungry meat lovers, even if I would have liked a little larger portion (and hotter) of their Horseradish sauce. Their creamed spinach too is enough to restore a badly Bluto battered Popeye and put a twinkle in his eye that his paramour, Olive Oyle, could not mistake.

Now I don’t do shout outs like this often, if at all, but if you want to get away from the fancy stuff masquerading as food whilst in the UK’s capital, you could do worse than visit one of the nine (At the time of writing) “Flat Iron” franchises dotted around town. First come first served. Expect to queue. Don’t forget your dessert. (Oh, the calories, the calories!)

Unless of course you have the misfortune to be a vegetarian, or worse still, vegan. Then I am afraid there is no hope for you. You poor thing.

BTW: No one really ‘hates’ vegans, vegetarians or other diet obsessives as claimed in the Grauniad.  The rest of us find the endless proselytising somewhat tiresome, even annoying, but no-one really hates them.  For example, one of my stepdaughters is a ‘fish vegetarian’ (Won’t eat meat but will eat eggs and fish).  Which I find curious but hardly a Casus belli.  To truly hate someone over their chosen diet would be to say that the matter was worth taking seriously.  Chacun a son gout.

Another day out

Good old rainy London. Gave my new raincoat a thorough testing today. Wandered around Covent Garden and environs sampling pleasures and tastes while dodging the drizzle tainted crowds. Mrs S directed our steps into a couple of expensive venues I would normally never go anywhere near. For example one of the top rated patisseries in London.

Well colour me impressed. The coffee was excellent. Heavy on the Italian influence rather than the bitter American. Quiche that was divine, and as for the Sachertorte, that was light and melted in the mouth rather than leave you feeling like you are chewing stodge, as happens with so many mass produced versions. Exquisite. I’d had an indifferent pint of IPA earlier, so perhaps I was ready for some quality.

We’ve had a deal of discussions with family and friends of late where the discussion has centred around quality stuff and why it’s worth the price. Reason one; longevity. A really good pair of boots will last ten times as long as a much cheaper pair. Why a good quality suit is a good investment (Buy two, with extras if you can – looking smart is never a bad idea) Nice cotton shirts feel better and last longer. M & S basics more comfortable than the cheap stuff from Primark. A little more spent on the basics means you can go cheap on the accessories.

Anyway, I’m standing outside one store on the Kings Road and an expensive car snorted past. Then another and another. People were walking past me in expensive clothes and a thought hit me. Rather a large thought about the economics of everyday life. It made perfect sense and for a few seconds all the dots lined up, I saw the entirety of human economic activity in action and why free markets really do work.

Every single one of us is connected by a massive web of transactions, be those social, emotional or financial. From the single jet of a fountain to the massive money machine that is the City of London, which in turn is connected to all the other major centres all over the world.

Let me enlarge. The single fountain jet provides social value because as humans we like to look at flowing water, it calms and stimulates us, therefore it has worth. However the fountain jet needs water and power to create that worth. These are not free, the power to drive the water has value, as has the water itself, it needs to be sourced, transported through a network of pipes with a lot of other water. The pipes through which the water flows need to be manufactured, channels dug through the ground for them, the complex net of pumps and storage to maintain an even pressure. All of these need human effort and intervention.

Then there’s the electricity that powers these networks created by investment in power plants made out of millions of complex components from heat exchangers and steam handling technology to the massive transformers and circuit breakers which manage the power output (For the sake of brevity I’m excluding ‘renewables’ here, just talking about base load generation). All of which has to be funded and made by finance. Money must be made, credit obtained to pay for the intricate web of costs that underlie even the simplest nut and bolt. Part of what I do as an investor is loan money to larger companies so that they may pay for new machinery to build and maintain those power plants and networks of water pipes. Which kind of brings me round in a circle to the pleasing spectacle of the fountain jet.

Therefore I posit that anything in motion consumes and creates energy and energy is a function of life. Likewise the market of life is in constant motion. Each of us, is whether we like it or not, is interconnected through diverse voluntary transactions to everything else in this world. Thousands of times a day. Every time we step out of the door. Every leaf swept, every drop of rain cleared, everything man made has multiple costs from the parts of a leaf blower and the parts needed to make the machines which make parts for leaf blowers. The credit and finance to pay that cost has to be raised by financial institutions which are the money machine we are all part of, from the beggar hunkered down outside the supermarket to the flash git in his Maserati posing down the street. Sometimes the chains are not obvious, but they are there nonetheless.

Isn’t this a fascinating world we live in?

Update: Tearful phone conversation with Eldest who dwells in the fabled land of Oz. Long term boyfriend just walked out on her, the idiot. That is all.

Getting kitted

Mrs S got me into a store yesterday. I’ve been half heartedly looking for a new raincoat, but some of the prices for what I wanted were somewhat eye-watering. Almost seventeen hundred dollars for a classic Aquascutum? Wowch. So I’d been dodging the issue.

So when she saw the Barbour store on Regents street I was hustled in and forced to act as tailors dummy. They did have a cattlemans full length coat I was a little tempted by, but we decided to postpone a decision for after lunch as they only had it in one rather unpleasant colour. Yes we could have bought online, but that’s not the same experience. So we asked the assistant to put it by and promised to return after a Moroccan style lunch.

The capital streets currently seem calm and busy with tourists, mostly from Europe and South America, at least on the Tube. Piccadilly and environs were their usual self, with little of the outrage and shenanighans we’d been led to expect. As I said to Youngest’s friends over dinner last night, I thought the old place was better than I remembered it from the late 90’s. People politer, air much cleaner but just as rainy. Hence the need for much improved outdoor wear.

After lunch it was back to the store with Youngest as fashion adviser who took one look at proposed purchase and firmly shook her head. “It’s too much” was her judgement. So we cast around for something a little more reasonable and ended up with a slightly more expensive, but equally robust item. Oh, and a heavy felt Trilby. I like hats like Trilby’s or Akubra’s, they give the face a certain framing and keep most of the inclement weather out of your eyes. Also when you’re like me and hairdressers start to charge search fees, they are a comfort. Not to mention having a certain cachet, marking one out as either a gentleman or arrant rascal. Depending upon how it is worn.

Barbour have long held a reputation for being like armour plate. A man’s jacket, for example, takes quite a long time to wear in properly and get that traditional battered look they were famous for, so much so that one impatient fashion victim reputedly got a friend to wrap his brand new Barbour around a Land Rover’s bull bars for a few days heavy off-roading. After which time the garment had gained a little ‘patina’ and the look of a real outdoorsman’s garment (Looking like it had been dragged through blackthorn hedges for years and used as a bed for two incontinent Lurchers and several litters of kittens). Thus adding to the owners street, or should I say field-credibility.

Anyway, the Brexit clock is still ticking because although an extension was requested as required by the Benn act, the EU has yet (At the time of writing) to approve. I think the public mood has been over stimulated with project fear and that the only thing that will mar the air on the day the UK finally leaves is an huge sigh of “About bloody time too.”