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When you are: April 2010

27 April 2010

Election turn-off

Only enter here for a political rant. A floating voter who is totally disengaged vents his spleen here, and suggests that one of the party leaders needs serious physcological help.

Only enter here for a political rant. A floating voter who is totally disengaged vents his spleen here, and suggests that one of the party leaders needs serious physcological help.

Politics is usually one topic to give a wide berth, but the outlook has changed a little since the last general election. Sure, Labour introduced the Child Trust Fund, and it has worked for us. Although the rates are garbage at the moment you can't knock the intention behind them. Shame about the rest of the economy. But memories of the poll tax are still strong north of the border, so their chances are slim up here. So who to vote for? Let's have a brief, and not comprehensive look, at the parties, and not necessarily from my usual family perspective. This one's all mine.

Cards on the table, I'm a floating voter. I have voted for all three of the main UK parties, some minor parties, and up here the SNP. Even the Pensioner's People's Party got a vote one year - I admit that this was a protest vote against the big parties and the candidate didn't win, but at least I carried out my civic duty and voted.

Which raises a good point. Without delving into the history books and go on about individuals and groups that fought hard and suffered persecution trying to get everyone the vote, it did happen and we do piss on their efforts if we don't vote. There are no "accessibility" issues with voting, it is a privelege that has been fought for and we should do it.

For this year's general election, however, I'm really stumped. The big issues for me are just a few.

The gravy train is departing on May 6th from platform Westminster, with 652(ish) passengers on board. Some parties don't attend Westminster as a protest against the monarchy, so why bother being an MP? For the expenses, which they still claim. No party is immune to expenses abuse, and even those being challenged in court expect us to pay for their defence as well as their prosecution. Conflict of interest? Will any of this change to the extent it needs? Unlikely.

Policies. On some policies you can't get a piece of parma ham between the parties. They'll all continue to milk the motorist for tax. They will all continue to duck their responsibilities on ensuring a fair regime for all legal residents, and a removal for illegals. And as for the Liberal Demo9crats lumping all bank staff under the "over-bonused banker" banner is just plain wrong.

So it's going to be local issues that decide it for me. Or so I thought. I saw the candidate list in the local paper this week, and was shocked to see that only two of the candidates actually live in the constituency. 2 live in Edinburgh, one in Central Scotland, one in the Birmingham constituency of Edgbaston. Edgbaston?? Is the Liberal Democrat candidate planning on moving, or claiming for 3 homes and all the extra travel expenses? Only the Tories and UKIP have a local candidate. In these times when we are encouraged to support the local economy, if that extended to voting locally too then there are only 2 candidates. I would certainly advocate any rule which states the candidate must reside in the constituency, thus blocking "safe seat" selections (of course dossing on a mate's floor would need to be controlled)

Leader's debates. Alex Salmond is taking the BBC to court for exclusion from the Leader's debate. But North of the border there are 4 programmes for the Scottish leaders, of which 3 he's boycotting. Make your mind up, fella. "I want to be invited, but when I am I won't go". If Alex Salmond is complaining about not being on the stage with Messrs Clegg, Cameron and Blair, sorry I mean Brown, then he needs to remember these points:

  • The term "Prime Ministerial Debate" was used. The three men on stage are all possible Prime Ministers. All of their parties are standing for election in enough seats to give them a majority. Only subjective opinion may refute that, but mathematically these three men are the only three with any chance of being in Number 10 on May 7th.
  • He's not even standing as an MP. So how can anyone who will have no voting rights in Westminster put themselves on stage? Why wasn't I invited, I have the same position?
  • When he was an MP he didn't attend, still claiming a salary yet he didn't do his job, because he had another in Edinburgh. This is just a whinge of mine, nothing to do with his lack of presence in the Prime Ministerial debates.

And yet he takes the BBC to court. Wasting BBC funds that are being diverted from broadcasting to defend themselves. Salmond needs to stop behaving like this or those floaters, like me, who have suppported his party in the past will start to regard him as psycotic and not return. For the good of the SNP, and for Scotland, he has to go and get some help.

So who are we left with, locally? UKIP and Tory. There's no independent candidate to support, no minor party, so I am seriously thinking about not bothering as I can't even have a protest vote.

And that's what sickens me most, not the bahaviour of our duly elected, but the prospect of not voting at all.


22 April 2010

1 month report (at 5 weeks)

It's now just over a month since Mr Luther arrived (MOTS hate me calling him this, but it suits him perfectly IMHO). So what has it been like since this hand grenade went off in the middle of our utopian family life?

Well, first and foremost, there was no such thing as utopia. Things are tough at the moment, and were before Mr Luther arrived. Endemol (hereby the name for Big Brother) is having his ups and downs, is generally better since Mr Luther arrived but still has some moments.

But as a big brother he's great. Helpful, doting, sharing, chats about him, generally really good in that respect. So how's the little brother doing? Weight gains are bang on, but MOTS is already looking to retire some clothes. I don't see the point in size "0-1 month" or "up to 10lb". Hell, some babies are bigger than that when the stork drops them off (Mac). So while it's nice to get a massive amount of new clothes at this size they don't last long at all. So yes, weight, seemed a big gain over the last 2 weeks until you look at the graphs, and in "real terms" there's been no movement at all, tracking the line exactly, gain spot on expectation. As a percentage gain though it is quite a bit, up from 9lb 1oz to 10lb 11oz in 2 weeks initially brings on the question of pie eating.

It is completely different this time around. Even Endemol has started to tune out Mr Luther's screams while we're sat having our dinner. Hungry? No. Wind? No. Nappy full? No. Cold? No. Right, carry on screaming, we're having pork satay, we'll give you a cuddle later.

It's all about adjusting too. With me having nearly 4 weeks off work this time we got into a nice routine that came to an abrupt halt when I went back. One that involved the spare bedroom and a pair of earplugs for me, and permanent nightshift for MOTS. The theory being that I was then fresh to look after the rather active Endemol when he got up, allowing MOTS to get more sleep during the morning. That has now changed, I'm on nightshift Wednesday & Thursday nights to make sure MOTS gets a full nights sleep for being up on Thursday & Friday morning when she has both boys on her own all day with no chance of catching up on sleep. Me? I can always catch up on sleep at work, I have a pair of glasses with eyes painted on the lenses so nobody will know.

Main question from the health visitor yesterday: "Has he started smiling?" Oh yes, recognition smiles (knows his parents), interactive smiles (smiling when he likes how you talk to him), both are coming along quite nicely. And those roast chicken legs* are strong too, movement is coming already. He had to straighten them out sometime, but I see trouble ahead if he's working his way up the crib now.

MOTS was worried about last Thursday having them both on her own, and I was greeted home with "I kept my head above water, just". Hmm, expecting carnage I was very surprised. On top of keeping the boys fed, watered and cleaned up she had made dinner, two loads of washing and cleared the kitchen. That's not keeping the head above water, that's way more than can be expected with those two.

It does seem like there's little time on an evening now, but when things settle into a new routine and Mr Luther starts sleeping through things will get easier and more flexible. Until then there's one thing I think will come back from history - and that's sleeping on the train on the way home on Thursday nights.


* Roast chicken legs - a bi-product of a section delivery, they don't get to straighten out.

No sign of the family wagon yet

There's no sign of the family wagon yet. Sunderland's finest are working flat out and still the orders come in thick and fast. I have an indirect route in to the shop floor, just hope he's going to look after Squishy when it gets built.

It's still going to be a royal pain seeing it on the back of a wagon not 100 yards from our house en-route to the dealer, followed by a 2 hour train journey and a 2 hour drive home on collection day. Still, that's 2 hours of relaxation in first class with tea, biscuits and an iPod. And a further two hours of playing with the audio system to get the aforementioned iPod working. Whoooaaaaaaa, what's that car doing on the wrong side of the road??????

According to the countdown timer it's just under 94,000 minutes until collection, assuming the estimated date is met.

06 April 2010

[2] First let-down

A couple of bad experiences with a retailer today. Same retailer, different services. One related to number two son, the other not.

First issue: New TV

New TV ordered on Thursday, delivered today. Only the screen surround left the factory with a nice crack in it, small, but very noticeable due to its position. The outer packaging was fine so wasn't a transit issue. The email and website says to call the electrical helpline first for any return, they said to call after-sales as they dealt with queries such as the RTFM mob. Aftersales wanted me to speak to the helpline to get a resolution as they may be able to talk me through it (what, replacing it?), but they just told me to ring you, now you tell me to ring them??? After speaking to person number 3 a replacement was not ordered as they did not have access to the "computer systems" to tell me where it would be in stock to go and collect (as I am not waiting in a full day again). Damaged TV being collected tomorrow with refund coming.

Second issue: Baby & Toddler club

On February 8th we registered for the Baby & Toddler Club. Confirmation email arrived within the hour, then nothing. 27th March we tried again, same thing. Nothing through from February, so we called today. Someone today (today - coincidence?) has cancelled our club membership, so they will set it up again, although the first 3 of 8 magazines we won't get. And the welcome pack will be 3 weeks away. Hmm, tell you what, how about you just hang on to them? "I can see the user ID of the person who cancelled it, I'll find out and call you back". Breath, holding.......

So that's it, two bad experiences today with a company that has got too large for its customers to be important enough to respond to when they get sucked in by the advertised "clubs". So large that it spends a fortune on advertising a service that it frankly can't deliver. Too large that when problems arise you get ping-ponged between two departments that clearly don't even know their own remits.

Tesco. Just too large.

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