1 April 2012

Well, Spring was great while it lasted. Following last week’s fine, warm weather which continued for much of this week, Friday and Saturday were decidedly cool (Penelope would say that it has been “cold”) and overcast. How typical is it that the weather takes a marked turn for the worse just in time for the weekend? Having said that, almost every day is the equivalent of a weekend for me so what do I care?

Not much this week – no exciting activities or adventures – but, on the whole, a very pleasant and good week, particularly while the weather was still warm and pleasant. I managed to liberate myself from the couch and sports on Thursday to enjoy another bike ride – glorious.

Not such a good week for the poor government. They’ve exhibited a particular knack for slipping on banana skins this week – it’s clear that they haven’t quite worked out that a party in Government needs to behave differently than when in opposition (and sometimes they need to refrain from making stupid comments).

Earlier in the month we were delivered of another Conservative/LibDem Budget. Most of you will have been spared the nonsense (and, of course, most of you have your own political nonsense to deal with) but you will be familiar, I guess, with the Coalition Government’s mantra of “We’re all in this together.” Clearly that’s why the Chancellor of the Exchequer, George Osborne, felt compelled to cut the top rate of income tax while cutting tax benefits to old age pensioners (christened the “Granny Tax” by the media).

As the financial wizards delved into the detail of the budget they came across another well-hidden tax increase, the application of VAT (Value Added Tax) on hot pasties, of all things. When questioned Osborne couldn’t remember when he last ate a pasty and the Prime Minister said that he last bought one at Leeds Station and “very tasty it was too.” Too bad that the pasty outlet at Leeds Station closed two years ago.

Then, this week the government garnered more ridicule with their attempts to gain some political capital from a possible strike by petrol tanker drivers. Not surprisingly, the government attempted to put the Labour Party on the spot by highlighting that the union, who, of course, largely support Labour, was threatening to go on strike over pay and conditions. A couple of government ministers (who probably should be told not to say anything until they have thought through the consequences of their comments) suggested that (a) motorists should fill up their cars at the earliest opportunity and keep them full and (b) everyone should keep a couple of spare gallons of petrol in their garage.

Some might have interpreted what they were saying as a suggestion that consumers should go out and buy some petrol whether they actually needed it at the time or not. Which is, of course, exactly what happened. Panic buying swept the country, there were long queues of people waiting up to an hour to buy a gallon of petrol and petrol stations all over the place ran out. A woman in Yorkshire was badly burned when she was (somewhat foolishly, perhaps) pouring some petrol from one container to another in her kitchen.

Petrol Panic

All this when there is no strike and no announcement that there would be a strike. Now, having precipitated the panic the Government have announced that, after all, there is no need to keep your tank full or to horde a couple of spare gallons at home. Not only was the “advice” needlessly foolish but they are once again being criticised, rather like Mitt, for being “out of touch” with the ordinary person – someone had to point out to the minister concerned that not everyone had a garage in which they could store the odd jerry can of petrol.

Stop Press: the following cartoon appeared in this morning’s Observer which sums it all up much better than I have been able to do.

Political Master Chef

So, apart from the tits in government, we’ve had our own tit visiting us recently. A Long-tailed Tit has been visiting the kitchen window over the past couple of days and very cute he is too. He flies up to the window, clings on to the leading and pecks at the glass. My guess is that he is seeing his reflection in the glass and is attempting to see this “intruder” off his territory. You may remember Charlie the Intellectually Challenged Chaffinch who behaved similarly in Spring a few years ago. We also had a similar visit from a pheasant we referred to as “The General” due to his dignified and upright stature. Now, “Osborne the Tit” is providing similar entertainment.

And finally, our heartiest congratulations to David who finished his MSc in Computer Science at Stanford a week or so ago and who starts work at Mozilla sometime soon. Well done!

Love to you all,



One thought on “1 April 2012”

  1. I am sure there is some fun “tit for a tat” kind of thing to respond to your ornothological display. The only things we have perching on our sills are cats and I just see a Labrador sticking his nose on the door pane! The cats have been busy here in the Jelliffe zoo feeding on Sam’s bearded dragon and an attempted sampling of his constrictor. Emma and I discovered him in a ball on the living room floor as one of her friends was being picked up by her father. She kept giving me the “shhhh” signal – I think the parent thought us a bit odd, but if they had any ophidiophobia they would be glad that we spared them. I think he (or she?) will survive the few cuts and punctures inflcted by the siblings Tucker and Posey. Reminds me of the fable about the alligator who gave the ride to someone on his back across the river only to devour them half way across – “Nothing personal, it is just my nature.” I think that is a frequent line used by adolescent males too in other contexts. All the best to our kin across the pond!


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