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NHS, zero hours contracts and gross mismanagement

15 Apr

In the UK, we are blessed to have the NHS. One of the few things we all enjoy and benefit from. Despite the boom in population, they continue to provide a wonderful healthcare service accessable to all.

However, since the eighties, with an explosion of bureacracy which created Trusts, outsourcing and  a vast growth in the number of non-medical staff – things have in many ways declined. Does the NHS need marketing officers? Should HR have grown into a predominant bunch of numpties?  Should previous Regional Health Authorities have declined to the point where they run NHS services in unconnected geographical areas?

My esteemed partner has been working in the NHS for over 3 years. She is the most highly-qualified person in her department. She works hard – yet is still on a zero-hours contract! She does not get sick pay, or pay for bank holidays. Much of her workload consists of dealing with historical cock-ups and blatant incompetence by salaried staff, and covering for permanent staff on long-term sickness or maternity leave. Yet, following pneumonia, she only gets state sick pay!

Personally, I had consultancy contracts with the NHS in the eighties. No doubt that with mismanagement and incompetence, it has got worse since!

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So Donald Trump hates illegals….

14 Apr

Trump continues to rant about illegals. Very interesting, given that his very own grandfather, Friedrich, was an illegal migrant from Germany. Don’t take my word for it, it is well documented on wikipedia, history.com, Aston University and so many websites.

Not that bad really, given that all people of European, African and elsewhere origin are all descended from either slavery, colonialism or mass economic migration. Not at all connected with being the original native inhabitants  of North America. We all have origins which indicate we came from somewhere else. Plus of course the DNA fact that Homo Sapiens originated in Africa.

Trump’s particular rant against “illegals” from Mexico and other “latino” origin is even more ironic (sick). US states like Texas, Arizona, New Mexico, Colorado, Utah, Nevada and California were all part of Mexico back in time – plus the con job that led to Hawaii becoming a US territory.

Cornish Pasties

12 Jan

Ok, I am of Cornish origin, and pasties have Protected Geographical Indication. What a very fine thing.

The traditional recipe is:

  • 400 g good quality beef skirt, cut into cubes
  • 300 g potato, peeled and diced
  • 150 g swede, peeled and diced
  • 150 g onion, peeled and sliced
  • Salt & pepper to taste (2:1 ratio)
  • Beaten egg or milk to glaze

So what the heck has Ginster’s got to do with it?? Ok, they are based in Cornwall – but that’s about it. They are about as authentic as Trump being a Native American. Their pasty ingredients are:

  • Minced beef (15%) rather than traditonal cubed beef skirt 40% ( it gets worse!)
  • Sugar
  • Mustard seeds
  • Dried leek
  • Coriander
  • Turmeric

Nothing to do with Cornwall, nothing to do with authentic, nothing to do with quality. Hmmmph.

The esteemed London Borough of Harrow

11 Jan

Harrow on the Hill. An esteemed place, the one time home of Lord Byron. Ronnie Barker lived here, as did Peter Andre, James Blunt, David Baddiel and Pandit Nehru.

Of course, things change over time. I am sure lots of interesting people still live here – but overall it is the centre of mediocrity. There are lots of restaurants (Burger King, Subway, Maccy D, Pizza Express and of course Nandos. On the other hand, there are no artisan butchers, fishmongers or Farmers Market; it is just a mediocre London suburb.

Of course, there are a great number of ‘Indian’ restaurants. Maybe good if you are vegetarian, but as for the rest – yuk!

As for the borough council: goddamn! Like any organisation, there are some outstanding people, some ok, and some who are total crap! But being public sector, the latter category outweighs the rest.

If you are a council tenant of good mind, you possibly have home insurance through the council? Good value – unless you need to make a claim.  It turns out the insurers are excellent – but if your claim is for a home repair, don’t rely on the home repairs team to do anything competent, sensible or decent! After 10+ emails, the council decides they can’t do anything sensible; if I ok the repair, the cost will be on my rent account and plunge me into debt unless the insurers pay out. They are just out to recover exorbitant costs and put tenants into a debt position. In recent times, my bathroom ceiling collapsed due to flooding from upstairs. The repair team came to fix it; plastered, and they “would come back to sand and paint”; nothing happened. I am 70, and had to climb a ladder and paint the ceiling. Ouch!

 

TV chefs have changed our lives

10 Nov

Ok, I am an antique. The first TV cooking show I ever saw was Fanny Cradock; even in those days she boiled, roasted and baked things to death – luckily, I moved on. She was followed by Graham Kerr and Delia Smith: better, but still practical and not very exciting (I still have their books!).

Now, not a day goes by without a cookery show: Hairy Bikers, Rick Stein, Saturday Kitchen, Raymond boring Blanc, etc etc. Very interesting – but also quite damaging.

H0w many people actually cook their stuff, rather than just going out and buying microwaveable ready meals? Or buy packs of diced pre-prepared fruit and veg? Come on guys, peeling a carrot or potato ain’t that hard!

A serious side effect of TV food shows is that the prices of food shoot up. If a programme features pork cheeks – bang! The demand and price shoots up.

In my childhood and teen years, I ate pigs trotters, chitterlings, faggots, lamb shanks, sheeps head and oxtail because my family was cash-strapped. In my teen years, I had a Saturday job in a butchers shop. Beef cheeks were sold as dog food; pigs trotters were for the poor and needy; marrowbones were given away to customers who bought a joint of meat; lamb shanks for the home cook who was scraping to feed the family.

Now, all of the above cost a small fortune! I have a shelf full of cookbooks, including Tom Kerridge: a hero from my homeland. Sadly, there is nowhere near me that sells his key ingredients: not one proper butchers shop.

 

 

So OK, Brexit is a disaster….but

29 Oct

When the UK voted for Brexit, I was devastated. The world needs more inclusion, not divisiveness. More unification and joint policies for going forward.

The lies told by Farage and Boris Johnson seem to have escaped attention; how can they get away with that?

As a father, I was so disappointed that Brexit means my daughter missed the opportunity to study at EU universities and develop career opportunities in the EU.

However, the current trends of racism, exclusion and persecution seem to be gaining adoption across the world. Trump in America ( a country where all white people are descended from colonialism and immigration). EU countries endorsing Nazi-style governments and policies, including Poland, Denmark, Hungary et al. The EU needs to change, and the UK remaining within the EU would have done more for that.

Im my estimation, most Brexit supporters are racist and tragically failed. They ramp about EU immigrants taking their jobs; maybe that is because too many lazy bastards don’t want to work harvesting crops, cleaning toilets or packing parcels in warehouses?

 

School holidays, ripoffs and bad weather

28 Jul

So, you’re a responsible parent, so you don’t take your kids out of school before the summer term and therefore avoid a fine. But you face a penalty anyway, because all holiday companies rob you blind.

Budget airlines like Ryanair and Easyjet charge you extra for everything – like sitting with your kids, hold baggage, a cup of coffee or a crap snack. All holiday companies charge you per person for accommodation – even though in most countries, the actual hotels charge you per room! Worst of all, the holiday companies charge you top rates – even though it is low season in some countries.

So what can you do? Check out sites like Netflights, or book flight only with the so-called budget airlines. Book your hotel separately – you can negotiate separately; for example, the 5* Royal Cliff hotel in Pattaya will offer you a far better rate! If you use a budget airline, better to only take cabin baggage (ok – just a toothbrush, panties and a sunhat), and eat before you board; buy some cheap clothes when you get there and leave them behind! Try hotel websites directly, or Airbnb.