10 November 2013

Good morning to you all. We’ve had a fine week with some lovely days of bright sunshine as well as a couple of days with sheeting rain and wind. Today is supposed to be pretty nice although the temperatures have certainly decided that we’ve had enough moderate autumnal days and it’s time for the temperature to revert to something more approaching the seasonal norm. Oh well, it was nice while it lasted.

We escaped the attentions of the trick or treaters in Byfield, for the most part on Halloween. Next door (Pete and Sal) did ring to see if we would be amenable to a visit from their two grandchildren, Jo and Jay, as well as their Ruby which necessitated a very hasty trip to the village shop to acquire something suitable to provide. They were very cute and we did enjoy the photograph of niece Azalea’s cat costume as well as Annabelle’s encounter with the Jack O’Lantern.

azalea_halloween halloween-2013

For many years my LL Bean boots have given me excellent service. Now, however, the rubber has split in several places and when I trudge across the dew-laden recreation ground with Molly each morning and/or across the fields in the pelting rain in the afternoon, I return home with wet socks and cold feet.

BootsRegrettably, Bean boots are not available in the UK and although I could order them from the States the delivery and import tax costs make them prohibitively expensive. So, I went on to the web and found a suitable compromise and placed an order. The boots arrived within a day or so but unfortunately, they were the wrong size. My fault entirely – I looked at the size tag inside my Merrells which said US 10.5, UK 10 and so I ordered size 10. The boots were the size of a small naval landing craft when they arrived so I parcelled them back up to exchange them for a pair of size 9s.

I took the parcel to our local post office and this is where the fun began. No issues about posting them (apart from the extortionate cost) and I was given a tracking number and told that they would be collected on Friday and that they would be delivered in 48 hours – guaranteed (not including Saturday or Sunday, of course). So, they would reach their destination late on Monday or first thing Tuesday morning.

“Fine,” I said and handed over a small fortune.

On Friday I decided to check the tracking information to see where they’d got to – hmm, no information available. On Monday I tried to check again – still no information available. So, I telephoned Parcel Force and, after navigating a labyrinth of menu choices and shouting various snippets of information into the phone, I eventually was connected to an agent who explained that the reason I couldn’t track the parcel was because it had not yet been collected from the post office!

Long story short – in order to get the Royal Mail ready for privatisation (i.e., stealing it from the taxpayer and selling it off at approximately 1/5 of its value – don’t get me started!) various reorganisations were put in place to make the service more lean and efficient. One of these was to change the main depot from whence parcels are collected to then be dispatched around the country and world. Our post office used to have its parcels collected from Coventry (22 miles); now they are collected from the Milton Keynes depot (29 miles). It turns out that either no one at the Milton Keynes depot had received the memo or they decided, in the interests of efficiency obviously, not to collect any parcels from Byfield at all!

An “angry” phone call to the Milton Keynes depot on Monday afternoon did achieve the promise of an upgrade from 48 hours “guaranteed” to 24 hours, similarly “guaranteed”. We’ll see. In the meantime I am still trudging around the recreation ground and across the hills and dales in wet socks with cold feet.

[Update: You will be pleased to hear that on Tuesday the parcel was “in progress” having finally been collected and on Friday I received my replacement boots. My feet are now dry and warm on our strolls across the countryside.]

A few weeks ago the Sun (brought to you by Rupert Murdoch) ran a story in which it claimed there were ’600,000 benefit tourists’ in the UK and that the European Union had said this was ‘no problem’. You won’t be surprised to hear that this is the same song the Conservative members of the coalition government have been singing since they came to power.

A couple of weeks ago the Befouled Weakly News had a snippet from a European Union commissioner arguing that this wasn’t true and stating that the EU had been asking the coalition government for three years to provide evidence to support their assertion. Of course, the government has been unable to do so since it’s simply not true.

Now, the Sun has published a “correction”, which was tucked away on page 2 of Monday’s paper:

Sun ApologyOur 21 October headline “Brussels: UK’s 600,000 benefit tourists is no problem” was not accurate. There is no evidence of 600,000 “benefit tourists” in the UK. Neither has the European Commission said this would be no problem.

In other words, the entire story was made up, as is so much of what Murdoch and the other tabloids produce.

Yet still the government keeps banging on about immigrants arriving in the UK merely so that they can take advantage of our “generous” social benefit system. It doesn’t matter that it’s not true – as Iain Duncan Smith, the minister for Works and Pensions stated, if one believes it to be true it’s essentially the same as being true. Why bother with evidence when your ideology is so much more appealing.

If the government were interested in evidence, they might start by reading a study from University College, London which examined migration from the EEA (European Economic Area which is the European Union plus Norway, Iceland and Liechtenstein) since 2000.

Our study also suggests that over the last decade or so the UK has benefitted fiscally from immigrants from EEA countries, who have put in considerably more in taxes and contributions than they received in benefits and transfers.

Given this evidence, claims about ‘benefit tourism’ by EEA immigrants seem to be disconnected from reality.

And, on Friday’s front page in the Financial Times (unfortunately, behind a pay-wall. Bad luck, Financial Times – just think how much traffic the Befouled Weakly News could have driven to your site.) there is a report that the home secretary is “locked in a battle over the benefits of European immigration to Britain, as the minister struggles to find evidence to support her case for imposing tighter restrictions on migrants.

Ms May has infuriated the Foreign Office by ‘dragging her feet’ in drafting a report on the impact of the EU’s free movement rules, amid claims that the evidence does not support her political narrative of the system being abused.

The paper quotes a senior government official as saying: “Theresa wants to go big on impact of immigration on local services and health tourism and the reality is there is very little evidence to demonstrate this.”


Honestly, you couldn’t make this stuff up.

But, apparently, the tabloid press and the government do, indeed, make it up.

Love to you all,




2 thoughts on “10 November 2013”

  1. The ideological myopia and idiocy, to say nothing of the outright dishonesty of politicians world-wide (my apologies to those few who exhibit a modicum of brain power and integrity) boggles the mind. However, I have no hesitation in nominating Toronto’s mayor (google, Rob Ford) as exceeding all previously held records in the ‘politicians behaving badly’ stakes. Toronto’s desire for world-wide recognition has finally been achieved, only lending considerable weight to the warning, ‘be careful what you wish for’.

    1. Interestingly, I ran across an article in the Huffington Post which carried a poll of Londoner’s views of political indiscretions and whether a politician should resign on being “found out”. The headline reads, “London Voters Say Politicians Fiddling Expenses Worse Than Smoking Crack”.

      You can read it (and, at the same time find out about Toronto’s mayor, Rob Ford) at


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