Reflections

It’s time to sit back for a while. Perhaps we are all bi-polar: full of energy for a while, then in a state of collapse.

My reflection today goes back to 1990. Together with friends I started Author-Publisher Enterprise to combat vanity publishers. From that came the author.co.uk web site, which I ran for ten years before it was stolen from me (long boring story).

Then came one of those reflective moments. I published a few books. To date there has been over 120. None have made any money because I can’t sell anything, but all made a contribution to our literary heritage.

Then I spent a day at Ipswich Community Radio. That sparked an interest. I presented a breakfast show there for a while then had a brainwave.

The Spa Pavilion contract was to be renewed. With a great team of local experts – in all the disciplines necessary to run a theatre and restaurant – we applied for the contract. The Council’s rejection said we had no commercial experience, as a group, of running such a facility. Collectively we presented a marvellous team, full of talent with loads of experience, but the Council knew best.

Another short reflective period followed.

In 2005 the government created legislation to allow community stations to broadcast on AM/FM. I wondered if we could start a station in Felixstowe? A slightly different team was put together. It was a great time. Everything dropped into place and we started broadcasting in 2006 from my front room, then moved to studios which we built ourselves. The team was built until we had 65 presenters, and small team of backroom boffins and slowly gathered an audience. Never helped by our local Councils unfortunately. Money was raised, the music shop opened that helped to give support. Increasingly we became involved in the community.

After six years I moved aside, going back to publishing as that had moved on to allow ebooks, and now audiobooks – using my new-found broadcasting skills.

Slowly I extricated myself from the organisations I’d joined to promote the radio station. I’d started the Community Media Association site, been a Director of Social Enterprise East of England, and of the Community Media Forum Europe, a Council Member of UK’s Community Media Association, a Trustee of Suffolk Association of Voluntary Organisations and stuck my nose into innumerable other events and associations.

It’s not easy to suddenly stop so I persuaded some friends to join me in Media Fish, a community media company that was to be support – well anyone – who could use our talents. For a year nothing happened, we filed accounts showing we’d achieved nothing, didn’t even have a bank account. Any money had come from us and been used for business cards and a folder. Then we received a fine from HMRC for non-payment of Corporation Tax. We’d never been told that we had to file a form, which we then did, together with a long explanation.

No response from HMRC except to double the fine.

Today we had wound up the community interest company.

After 25 years as a volunteer the administration requirements of funders and of government have become too much.

I’m retreating to my house and garden. It’s been great fun, and we have achieved a little.

Nearly there or Past it?

Once upon a time

Do you remember when…

A week of celebration. Which included more alcohol, hugs and kisses than has been good for this ageing creature.

I thank everyone who contributed to my birthday week. Special thanks to Jan, who quietly arranges delights. It’s been marvellous, and I hope to retain those memories and share more good times with every one of you. Friendship is so good.

What now?

Who knows?

Three score and ten. I’m there. So any day now I might not be.  My allotted span has been taken. That makes every day very special. It makes friendship really important. The casual wave to a neighbour, the slow coffee mornings, visits to theatre, helping to decorate, walking along the seafront, picking up the shopping, long dinner parties, commenting on that new hairdo, laughing together over a silly joke. These small moments, and many others, mesh together to make a life.

Yes, there will be bad times. Days when I don’t speak to a soul. Times when the bills seem to drop through the front door like confetti. I will continue to upset people, not wittingly, but because I will not keep my big mouth shut. If I consider it needs to be said, I’ll say it. Many folks get angry with me not realising it’s not me, but my soul that is talking.

Look back through this blog and I believe I can take some pride in not directly attacking any real people. Politicians are exempt. They are not real and too often their words and actions come from hidden agendas.

Hopefully I’ve made some people think, reflect a little. You don’t have to agree with me, but do try to form an opinion that can be justified and comes from within you, and is not just a rehash of another person’s brain.

Tomorrow. I am back on a diet. It will occupy my mind as I sit and wait for the inevitable.

Enjoy every moment of your life. Smile at adversity. Worry never helped anyone.

Midsummer House

midsummer restaurant

our table

Where do you go to celebrate a birthday? I was fortunate enough to be taken to Midsummer House, the only Michelin two-star restaurant in East Anglia. It’s an understated Victorian house on the banks of the River Cam beside Midsummer Common, Cambridge. The main restaurant is in a well-built extension attached to the rear of the original house.

For me it’s not a place for everyday eating but it has a relaxed atmosphere, and the decor is unobtrusive, the staff attentive although it disturbed me that none seemed to be English but all were well-informed.

We were the first customers of the day, and I was disappointed that the first glass of champagne came from a nearly-empty bottle, and was as flat as any pancake. The sommelier, who was not responsible for that first effort, quickly replaced that glass when shown.

A memorable beginning came with three canapes, each beautifully presented. The burst of the sea from the crab and oyster was delightful, to be followed by two items that demonstrated the house style created by David Clifford, the chef who has taken this small restaurant to seventh place in the national rankings. Demonstrating technical ability he encases food in light, yet slightly crunchy roundels and tubes which explode the flavour in your mouth.

There’s a choice of 5, 7 or 10 courses, all of which may appear a trifle indulgent if you come from pie and mash with sticky-toffee pudding land but remember the food is about taste and flavour, not quantity.

Having chosen the middle road we started with ceps in a chocolate sauce over which a warm coffee foam was squeezed. This was a heavy introduction to the meal, making it clear that eating here was to be a serious business. As a dish it was superb, as a start it presented a challenge.

This was followed by mackerel tartare with chervil and fennel. This is my favourite fish, balanced well by the fennel. One delight were the small roundels of fennel that hid the sharp taste of passion fruit, causing Jan, my delightful partner to enthuse, several times times during the rest of the day.

One of the best dishes followed: roast quail, covered with wafer-thin slices of grape beside a shallot puree. Served separately, and perhaps as an afterthought was a sourdough platter that added little to the dish.

The Syrah from Languedoc Jan chose from the wine list worked well with every part of the meal. Having glanced through the list since the  meal I can see the wines are seriously overpriced. so take care. Possibly the best approach is for the sommelier to choose a selection for you, at £55 a person make sure your glass has come from a bottle that’s not been around too long.

As courses were completed a small flurry of waiters appeared, dishes removed, glasses refilled, tablecloth scraped of crumbs, cutlery for the next course in place. By this time other diners had arrived and the place had warmed up. Our corner table had radiators behind each of our chairs. We turned both down, but heat was still there by the end of the meal.

Next came seared scallops with apple and truffle. Not to my taste. Scallops may be revered but I find them tasteless, and invariably under-cooked, which mine was. Time to move on.

midchefI’ve never eaten Wagyu beef. This comes from a Japanese beast, sometimes said to be massaged to soften the flesh. We weren’t told if our steaks came from Kobe, Mishima, Matsusaka, Ōmi or Sanda animals, it didn’t matter as Jan doesn’t usually eat beef, and we’d forgotten to ask for an alternative, so I had a surfeit. It sat on a small bed of spinach puree and braised oxtail, both over-seasoned for my taste but that’s no criticism as I believe all chefs over-season, having lost their tastebuds from over-use, rather like anyone who smokes.

I took a small break, enjoying the wine whilst Jan explored the cheese trolley. There was certainly a good selection, and the lanky young (was he American?) waiter knew about the products. Three small portions were deemed enough, helped by a champagne jelly. On another occasion I’d have spent too much time at that trolley!

We moved on to further delights. Yorkshire rhubarb with hickory wood ice-cream, with a hint of sorrel. Delicious! The rhubarb came in several forms, the best were small lengths that had spent time in a vacuum pack. Small crunches of perfection.

The final course was magnificent. That’s not too great a word. Dark chocolate, small segments of blood orange, cubes of sponge soaked in what was it? Marmalade ice-cream and chocolate tuiles completed a dish that had Jan rapturous.

Coffee and hand-made chocolates completed a memorable meal.

We should all take meals at such restaurants. For the price of ten takeaways you can enjoy a memorable meal occasionally, and why not? Have beans or poached eggs on toast instead of that takeaway. There are fine restaurants in England, we should use them. I’ll repeat my plea for more British staff, we need our own youngsters to be at the centre of these worlds. They will spread those standards and knowledge through the country and we need skilled staff everywhere.

A wonderful meal. Go there, enjoy the food. Tell the sommelier his wines are far too expensive. Say that the staff need a uniform of some sort, each seem to have borrowed a suit from someone not quite their size.

We shall return. Save £1 a day for one good meal a year. That’s a challenge to our Chancellor from this pensioner – I need that extra money to support British industry!

Felixstowe Food

Unused Spa Pavilion

Unused Spa Pavilion

Perhaps lumping Felixstowe in with the rest of Suffolk Coastal was not a good idea. We have closer links to Ipswich, whose residents tend to use Felixstowe as their seaside town.

In Aldeburgh earlier this week two local residents of that fishing village (ha ha) asked me why I lived in Felixstowe. Being poor couldn’t be used amongst such company, so I blustered. ‘We went there once,’ one said, ‘but couldn’t see anything of interest.’

How was I to reply? The seafront has been ruined. Too many properties stand empty, and many of those remaining seem stuck in a 1940s time warp. The Spa Pavilion stands as a beacon of neglect within gardens weeping over former glory. I’m waiting for Ranelagh Road to slide down the exposed cliff whilst the Council tries to patch up its ineptitude.

beach huts hide the sea from promenaders

beach huts hide the sea from promenaders

The Fludyers is now an hotel. It will struggle. The features that could make it into a bijou hotel are missing. The reception a visitor receives is a small notice on the public bar. The promised lift is missing, and the decor is misjudged, and visitors have no lounge in which to relax. Exposed brick walls can be attractive, perhaps, but not when they are of poor quality. Furniture in the bar now includes a sofa and those high tables and stools much favoured in US films of the 1950s. Food is beyond my price range, and so I can’t comment upon its quality. £2.45 for pork scratchings does present an interesting juxtaposition.

So, it was a quick cup of coffee at the Fludyers before setting off for lunch. The Yeo establishments: the Alex and Bencottos have got it right. Why has no-one tried to copy their formula? We searched further ending up at The Oaks the small cafe by the library with a quiche. Edible but uninspiring. That evening found me in the little Thai restaurant on the seafront, near the pier. That does the job it sets out to do, and it’s comforting to see the chef’s head bobbing about and to hear her chopping vegetables, which appear on my plate seconds later. They could double their profits by getting a drinks licence, but perhaps I should keep quiet about that.

This is a week of pleasure. My cousin arrives the next day with a tray of herbs for my garden. She’s a lovely lady, always aware of what I would like. We go to the third Yeo place, the cafe at the port observation platform. It is always packed, and seems to be doing very well. Pleasant staff and the chef there knows how to poach eggs perfectly. The only complaint I have is the rubbishy bread that’s served. Everywhere is the same. It should be banned! Bread has four ingredients: flour, water, yeast and salt. The rubbish stuff has 14 ingredients and tastes like pap. It’s one ingredient that can transform a meal like poached eggs, and we have artisan bakers in the town, please use them. The Hamilton Road bakery is cheaper than the Co-op, and much better, and local, and they are lovely people.

Today I venture out – two-star Michelin fare for lunch. A report will follow!

Quiz Night in Aldeburgh

Yesterday I announced that my diet was to be suspended until 25 February. Why should I bother with that, let alone tell people?

Well, I’ve been waiting a long while for this week. I move into another decade (sounds dreadful but it’s my eighth) and so it’s appropriate to celebrate.

Someone told me that we should not moan about getting older – but enjoy the years. After all, we’ll not have the chance when we are gone. Be grateful to have survived so far, and hope to stagger on for some time yet.

It’s a time of indulgence, which is why I stopped the diet for a week.

Good job too. That first night (Monday) saw me at Aldeburgh Golf Club for a Quiz Night organised by Aldeburgh Cinema Club. It was not until arriving at the clubhouse that I realised what a signal honour had been granted. This is a unique annual event, with tickets always oversubscribed. I’m grateful to my hosts, who’d better remain unnamed as they may be blackballed.

Each table of six people was named after a cinema – we were The Ritz. Here I have an admission to make. Having arrived early, it was seven for seven-thirty, we were there at seven so we had a choice. Believing the best location to be close to the bar – and why not – we found this was labelled Curzon. The table beside the admirable scorers, two delicious ladies, was The Ritz. We felt it was too exposed, too close to passing traffic, so we swopped labels. That’s what happens when you invite riff-raff! The Ritz settled down beside the bar!

It was a splendid evening. We started with dinner, which was excellent. Mass catering at its best. I had pork roast followed by frangipan, all washed down with a reasonable Cotes du Rhone.

Finally, full of good fare, we sat down to the Quiz. Glasses were recharged and our Scorer, what a delight in blonde with a soft dress that obliged me to catch her gently by the arm as she handed me the question sheet. That became a highlight of my evening, and with seven rounds to complete, that meant fourteen visits to our table. Bliss.

My team were superb. Barely had my brain engaged and the answers were already scribbled down by another team member. I hardly had to do anything. With all quizzes there’s always an awkward moment, when nobody knows the answer. Silence, save for the desperate whirring of collective thoughts. That, as always, is my chosen moment. That is the time for maximum effect. I waited to blurt out the answer – which I’d known all along. I was nearly too late. Our Scorer whipped away the answer sheet and was rushing back to her desk as I blurted out the answer. We all called her back. There was a dreadful moment when it seemed she had not heard, or perhaps was ignoring our pleas. Then she turned, a broad smile on her face, giving us time to scribble Chris Froome on the sheet.

Sometimes luck is on your side. That wasn’t the case last night. No luck, just pure knowledge. We were leading most of the way, occasionally allowing a team playing its Joker to feel complacent. There was never any real doubt, and with the final questions asking the square root of 784 we romped home. Clear winners.

Lovely people. An excellent Question Master who had chosen the questions with great skill. All teams felt they were in with a chance right until the final round. However there was never any real doubt!

Well done Aldeburgh Cinema Members and Aldeburgh Golf Club.

Decorating Delight

It’s the weather. It’s keeping me indoors. That made me look around the place, and discover trails through the dust as I followed my daily pattern (I’ll not describe all that, but it takes me from bed to ablutions to kitchen to computer). No wonder I’m too fat!

My dIet is working, although I just purchased a pair of electronic scales (in cerise – very fetching). This confounded machine is suggesting that I weigh six pounds more than confirmed by the old, mechanical, scales. Disaster. Stay with the old, don’t buy new!

Some of us seem very capable. I have friends (all women) who within a few minutes can transform a space. I love and admire these people. With a few deft actions the scattered detritus of my life is made to conform. A messy desk suddenly has neat piles of paper, drawers are tidied, floors cleaned, order comes into my life. Dinner is on the table, perfectly cooked and on time.

There’s no point in asking how they do that. There is little chance that I can copy, and so transform my life. However hard I try untidiness hovers around me.

What is very strange is the way I adapt to the ‘tidy way’ when I’m with one of these Transformer lovelies. You’ll see me washing up, putting clothes away, getting interested in keeping the place clean. Conforming to their life pattern, ignoring my own.

Left to myself I become a slob. I’m not dirty just diverted. Everything else becomes much more important, or immediately relevant.

I must stop writing. Looking around the place it’s clear that I have work to do.

Enjoy your day. Tell someone you love them.

Community Radio survey

survey

In 2005 the government finally realised that pirate radio was not going away, and allowed community radio to be born.

Not without severe restrictions. Commercial radio stuck its oar in and the government complied. Community stations had many hurdles to jump through. The application form was 59 pages long before a word was entered by the applicants. Social gain had to be proved. The station strength could not exceed 25 watts, giving about 5 mile radius coverage, and only 50% of revenue could be made from on-air advertising. Jumping through all the hoops was a challenge, but over 300 stations now exist – most hanging on because of voluntary effort.

Now the government, through OfCom, their tame regulator, are asking YOU questions. Never mind that the questions are badly written, indeed do not make sense without wading through the consultation documents. Nor does it matter that the questions do not address the real problems. There is a questionnaire – and you are urged to respond. Unless you do then over 300 stations could find it impossible to continue. Behind this survey lies the desire to get rid of these stations, who pose threats to commerce and political power.

Never doubt the influence of commerce. Profit-making companies want community radio stations to disappear, and they are helped by a government who sense the dangers of allowing people air-time.

https://www.gov.uk/government/consultations/community-radio-consultation

Several million UK residents are relying upon your support.

In answer to the questions posed I replied (and this is not perfect – you can do so much better). The questions are on the response form, but you’ll need to read the Consultation document to make sense of what they are asking:

Question 1– Do you agree that the restriction on community radio, whose coverage areas overlap with commercial radio licence areas with fewer than 150,000 adults in their measured coverage area, should be removed. If you disagree with this statement please substantiate with details from any available source.

(note the lack of punctuation)

I said:

Yes, the restriction should be removed. Community radio does so much more for people than just making profit for companies that often have no local presence.

Question 2– If the funding restrictions on advertising were to be reduced ought the requirement on Ofcom to look at potential economic impact need also to be reviewed. We welcome your views on this.

Whose economic impact? If you mean commercial stations then OfCom should NOT be involved. Commercial stations have just one objective – to make money – so why should we be interested?

Question 3 – Should there be a relaxation of the restriction preventing stations from taking more than 50% of their income from advertising and sponsorship. If your answer to this question is yes, then what should the new restriction be. How should it be determined. For example, set in regulation or set by Ofcom following consultation and reviewing periodically.

Trying to keep it simple now

Yes, the restriction should be removed. There is no need for this restriction at all. Competition needs an open platform – why restrict community stations?

Question 4 – Of the two options noted above which do you support, and why. Include reasons why you dismiss the alternative option. We invite you to provide details on other approaches for consideration.

(Note that the questionnaire doesn’t tell you where or what the two options above are – work that out for yourself)

I said:

I want open platform, and for community stations to be given the same opportunities as commercial stations. There is no reason why this should not be the case except to allow commercial stations to make profit – which does nothing for local communities.
The alternative to the two options – both of which are the product of the administrative mind – is to allow the local community to make decisions. OfCom should not be involved, except to ensure technical requirements are met.

Question 5 – What way/s could a Fixed Revenue Allowance be fairly determined if this was to be set by Ofcom. Should this be set by Ofcom. What facts would Ofcom need to take into account in setting an appropriate level of allowance.

Another gobbledegook question – take a guess at what it means.

I said (my patience is now lost):

No punctuation in the question makes this difficult to answer. OfCom should not control local finances.

Question 6 – Would you support a further 5 year extension of a licence beyond the second 5 year period. If you do not agree, please provide reasons why this should not happen.

I said:

Possibly. It’s at that stage that proof of local support and need should be examined. These stations provide community services – the community should decide.

Question 7 – How can Community Radio Fund grant funding be better used.
There are no plans to alter how decisions are taken to distribute the grant however we welcome views on other ways in which the grant could be better targeted and how might this be done.

(that suggests that this is an irrelevant question that will not be acted upon)

I said:

It is an unequal distribution now. Funding should be added to local Council taxes (as in France and elsewhere). Each approved station to have an assured income. Some of this money should come from BBC income, which is too often wasted. Local BBC stations are very inefficient providers.

Finally, they asked:

We would welcome other views about the regulation of community areas and for suggestions for streamlining and improving the regulatory framework in which they operate.

I said:

Technology is changing. AM/FM is no longer the only system. We need a national radio network (BBC iPlayer approach), and to recognise that community stations have an enormous pool of talent that is largely unrecognised.

Government must recognise the true value of supporting community stations.

This is an important moment for democracy. Lack of support for community radio pushes aside the pool of talent, the social gain, the building of community, the platform for public opinion and the experience gained from working/volunteering within the community sector into the economic shadows.

It’s also allowed music, especially popular music, to dominate the medium. That’s not to be dismissed but as a result speech radio, of the BBC R4 type, is largely ignored. Nobody reads. We live by soundbites. It’s changing the way we think and act. Look at our politicians now in hi-vis jackets (a new one every time) running around to gain a few seconds of media time. The NME is about to fold, and many other magazines are decaying. We need replacements and CR is an obvious candidate.

In France community stations receive a guaranteed income, from taxation. Their value is recognised, and they play an active role in society. In the UK it’s assumed that BBC local stations do that job – and that’s not true. They are expensive, have what amounts to restrictive practices as presenters appear to have permanent sinecure, and live by phone-ins. If the money spent on BBC local stations was transferred to CR real progress will be made.

People feel disenfranchised. Our parliamentary democracy amounts to a dictatorship. One vote with your chosen candidate losing does nothing to create community spirit.

In New England states many towns have a Town Meeting: residents voting to set budgets and agendas. CR could become the modern version. With commitment CR could play an essential role in society.

It’s becoming a sector where egos can prance around depressing us all with their musical choices. It can do much more than that.

Do we need Scotland?

scotsEarly myth suggests that Scotland was founded in 843. When James VI of Scotland became King of England the union was cast, and confirmed in 1707 by the Treaty of the Union.

Now the Scots want to break that association.

The rest of the United Kingdom will have no say in this decision.  The United Nations Charter says we have a right to self-determination and it appears that will only apply to the Scots living in Scotland.

What then of the Scots living elsewhere? There’s enough of them. David Cameron, now Prime Minister, has Scots blood, mixed in with that of an Irish courtesan. He has few English connections, and his family money came from selling grain in Chicago. Should independence mean that all of those of Scottish descent should return to their homeland?

Can we conveniently forget Scotland’s constant stream of attacks against the English over many centuries? My family once built a castle in the north of England as a defence against marauding Scots. Many English lives have been lost fighting the Scots, who have had little regard for English monarchs, or the Union.

In recent years the British, through Parliament, has bent over backwards to accommodate the demands of the Scots. They have their own parliament, and a legal system much different from elsewhere. My tax office, still known as Norwich, is now based in Scotland. Take a close look at many government departments and too few are now found in England. They have grown apart, so why not make the split?

Economically Scotland drains away the income of the English. That direct expenditure is just part of the story. The USA is now saying that devolution will mean that the UK will lose influence throughout the world. Well, thank goodness for that!

The UK strutting behind the USA across the world stage means that it is no longer possible for me to get on a bike to cycle anywhere in the world. There are many places where the British (often saying the English in such circumstances) are not wanted.

Then there’s the cost of this international ineptitude. Today great swathes of our West country are flooded and battered by storms. The government says it has no money to help our own people yet we spend more on foreign aid than any other country, and maintain a standing army that drains away our young people turning them into disregarded thugs when they come back home.

There are many questions to be answered over the coming months before the Scots vote on 18th September 2014. The UK owes £1.4 trillion (phew). How much of that is Scotland’s? Will we still want nuclear submarines, if we want them at all, based in a foreign country? Under what terms will Scotland be allowed to enter the EU? Will it keep the pound or move to the Euro?

Beyond these small discussions is the broader question. One that the electorate should be asked to determine. What do the English want?

 

 

Myth of Competition

Profit from privatisation

It’s become a mantra: competition. Closely linked to privatisation it is heralded by governments as the answer to all our problems. Does it really work?

Our society increasingly works on two levels. The exploiters and gamblers, too often found in the City of London, and the workers within an industry and their customers.

The first group can see the efficiencies and innovation that can result from firms competing within a given market, and therefore greater opportunity to gain profit, often just from the fluctuations within a sector as firms are seen to be gaining or losing ground.

The second, much larger group, are rarely given any choice.

The idea that privatisation increases efficiency is not supported by the transfer from public to private sector in the UK over the last twenty years. It seems there have surprisingly small effects on firms and most employees, and generally privatisation has harmed taxpayers and most consumers. We are all paying more, and the services provided have not improved.

What can be seen is uncertainty as we no longer can rely upon services we once took for granted. It’s also clear that profit is now a very important consideration. The rich get more affluent, the poor have less in real terms.

There’s a real effect upon our social structures. Individualism and private greed are now more relevant than public service, let alone jobs. People no longer care, partly because power has been taken away from the public arena and is now confined within tightly controlled contract law.

New levels of management are now needed. The UK Home Care Association say that 30% of the costs of providing a care worker in a home are to cover the costs the agency accrues in providing the carer. Beyond that is another administrative cost level with the management team recruiting these agencies writing and then supervising contracts.

It cannot be cheaper for private firms to provide utility services. The last twenty five years have proved that now everything is much more expensive.

If private companies are seen to be more efficient why hasn’t the government ensured that profits are shared? There was no reason to give away public utilities completely. A gold share payable to HMRC would have allowed us all to benefit. Strangely that was never considered. Even though the railway network valued at £8 billion at time of privatisation, and sold for £2 billion was a great deal for the new owners. The same can be said for all those publicly-owned, now private, companies.

A pattern developed. During public ownership the government creamed off any profit, supporting the Treasury, whilst preventing any real investment. Once privatised firms demanded government support for investment. In both ways the unrepresented taxpayer lost out. It is one reason why the government now has no money – it sold off its herd of cows.

The biggest problem with competition is that it allows the larger firms to dominate. They have the resources to apply for contracts, and are seen by those awarding the contracts as an easy option. They have the capacity to cope but that comes at a huge price. Small locally-based companies are squeezed out. Money is drained away from local areas – indeed from the whole country now as too many privatised companies take the profits abroad.

It happened with supermarkets, and within much of the retail industry. Manufacturing moved abroad because it was easier to exploit workers. Robots are now taking over from the manual worker. Yet we placidly accept the destruction of our national structures to allow private profiteering.

If you are a privileged member of the Cabinet (and all are from the privileged classes) you’ll not understand such arguments.

The English peasant remains complacent picking up the crumbs from a table they built which is now owned by others.

Time will show us as second-tier citizens.

 

Who Needs People?

RichDisturbing scenarios are starting to emerge.

Not many of us are really rich. They have control over most of our lives. Some of these people use their affluence philanthropically. Bill gates wants to eradicate malaria, and has even suggested we can remove poverty in the near future.

All of the really rich are selfish. You can’t make money from the labours, wit and intelligence of others without your ego showing.

Let yourself believe you are stupendously wealthy. Whatever you want can be yours. You are also selfish. How do you want to spend your life?

It’s likely that you do not want to be part of the common herd. A chauffeur-driven car is necessary, but they don’t remove traffic jams. So you will be delayed, subject to the same vagaries as everyone.

Homes, clothes, fine wines, excellent food, perfect service are yours. Every wish granted. What more do you want?

A close circle of friends who share your lifestyle. They are unlikely to be begging in the gutters of a city.

PoorHold on a moment. There’s a problem here but it can be solved. We now have the technology. Human workers can largely be replaced. The manual labour of others is an inefficient system. Remove the human element and let machines do the work.

This is happening already, in most industries. Where humans are needed they can be treated like machines. Pay low wages, get a new one when the present worker fails to match expectations.

This is not scaremongering. It’s happening today, and for the English we are less that 100 years away from extreme poverty, seen everywhere in the slums of our cities. At the same time the rich and powerful were able to build fine houses, and live a life of luxury.

Give people power and they will ignore the masses.

Could this be the next stage in our development? We are undergoing change. The love of Pisces is changing to the will of Aquarius. The big problem is that people will keep breeding and we have too many people already.

That’s very inconvenient if you are rich. People stop you doing what you want to do. Even travelling becomes difficult and there are always obstacles stopping you making more money.

Slowly you wake up. Get rid of most of the people. They can be replaced by obedient machines and the roads will be clear.

How long will it be before the rich half. The half that control half of the world’s wealth – recent estimates suggest that is just 85 people – decide to take positive action?

Here’s the apocalyptic vision. We have traditionally removed people by pestilence, famine or war.

Who can say whether AIDS was engineered in a laboratory somewhere. It was certainly target-specific: blacks and gays. Famine could be easy enough.

Monsanto (and their ilk) are modifying food, and importantly the seeds from which we obtain food are themselves sterile. You can only replace those seeds by buying more from the supplier. Already we have accounts of thousands of farmers committing suicide when crops fail, and debts mount.

War is relatively inefficient and can disrupt social structures. Besides which populations boom when the survivors arrive home.

There are other ways – which you can think of yourself. Chemtrails left by aircraft – do they mean that snow no longer melts? Genetic plagues. Much more famine. A youngster today has half the sperm count of his grandfather. The world’s population is stabilising as we get richer but we can’t find two planets, and we are consuming too much. There are too many people.

When I want to drive in my big limousine to London I do not want to be delayed through accidents and congestion. Get rid of all these people!