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Married couples allowance

I haven’t written anything for ages as we have been quite busy for semi retired people. I have been helping a friend with some filming and been driving in The Lake District and Glasgow and I’m heading up there again tomorrow.

Listening to the radio this morning though I heard the latest stupid proposal from another party desperate to win votes from a disinterested public. This time it’s the Tories ahead of their Manchester conference saying that they’ll give £200 a year tax breaks to married couples.

For fooks sake. I’m in my mid sixties, reasonable stuck in my ways, a lover and supporter of the sanctity of marriage, but that’s just so utterly irrelevant and in fact insulting I don’t know what they could be thinking of. What must the hundreds of thousands of single parent families think of that? What must the poor sods who’s other halves have died think of it? And all the perfectly normal strong families that aren’t married?

I’m not sure which is worse. This crap from the Cons or Ed Milliband’s stupid idea of freezing energy prices. OOK, prices are hefty and going up scarily fast, but freezing them isn’t going to help a lot, and is only expected to save people a hundred odd quid a year.

Bloody hell I try not to pay attention to politics and it’s stuff like this that makes me turn against it. Complete bollocks from Eton. I hate the principles of that other arse Farrage, but he might be the only one talking sense at the moment.

Whoa! Calm down old man and take your medicine! Yes, a pint of Landlord for the old man please!


Less rant, more joy.



View from Y WarrenThis is the view we have woken up to for the last couple of mornings.

It’s pretty spectacular. And the scenery around us is even better, there’s mountains and the sea, and if you’re lucky, both together.

I can’t initiate another rant when I’m looking at this. We have had great company, and some pretty deep and interesting conversations, including one on our understanding of gender – that was sparked off by an essay title and catching a news item that had us all in stitches.

It was a piece on the American Serviceman called Bradley Manning, the guy who leaked three quarters of a million state secrets (that takes some thinking about doesn’t it? can you even contemplate 750,000 of anything?). So Manning’s trial must be a pretty serious event in the US, tantamount to treason I guess, but then he came out on Thursday and said that he considers himself a woman and from now on wants to be know as Chelsea! What the heck is that about?

It’s so completely off the wall that it’s a story in itself.

I guess unless you know someone close to you who has a trans gender crisis it is a difficult situation to understand or believe, and as we aren’t in that category I have to admit we’re just going to sit back and laugh. Sorry Bradley, or is it Chelsea.



Getting away.

KefaloniaThe lovely thing about being retired is that you have so much time.

The down side is that you’re no longer earning as much money as you did, and even though we don’t have to scrimp and save, we do worry about spending money, and we don’t go on holidays as often as we’d like to.

However Mrs BB recently found this site which is brilliant for booking family holidays which is ideal for us as we often take the grandchildren, or nephews with us if we do go away. We know each other a bit too well to just spend time away together.

We often discuss whether we spoil the children. I don’t think we do, largely as I’m not very patient, and I don’t like them running around shouting, so they get told off as often with us as with their own parents. I was thinking of that after we got the dog back recently after she’d spent time with friends who must have let her run riot as it took ages to get her back to the behaviour I expect. I wouldn’t want parents thinking the same after we’ve had their kids.

Anyway we’re looking at Kefalonia for the next trip. But that might be just the two of us so that we can get a much cheaper holiday.


Getting the cash flowing

I love it when the youngsters ask me questions and I can help out, either through experience, or from having the time to do some trawling through the web to find the answers for them.

Right now I’m looking at how I can help my younger brother get the cash flow issues sorted with his business. He is doing well, in three years he has gone from just surviving to supporting a few staff as well, but his trouble is that the gap between invoicing and getting paid means that he goes quite heavily overdrawn each month meaning that sometimes he doesn’t take any money from the business for several months at a time.

It’s a crazy situation as he’s properly successful, yet lives as if he’s broke all the time.

I’ve been looking at Touch Financial factoring advice and working out for him whether credit factoring, or discounting as it’s often called, would be right for his business. Basically it means that he gets his invoices paid almost straight away when he writes them, then the factoring business chases them up. He’ll pay a few per cent as a fee, but that has to be worth it, it’s probably less expensive than his overdraft anyway.

I expect that I’ll get roped in to actually getting it all signed up and underway, but he’ll pay me a bit so that’s OK.

Is acknowledgement too much to ask for these days?

I’m old enough to remember all those years ago when direct marketing was in its infancy and many people would respond to a letter even to politely thank the seller for their consideration, and to say that their offer wasn’t required at that time.

People would then keep much of the direct mail they received behind the mantle clock, in case they might need the product at a later date.

Not surprisingly direct marketing was hugely successful back then.

One of the master figures of direct marketing, a real life Mad Mad fellow called David Ogilvy could spend days crafting a letter, and test several versions.

Ogilvy’s agency still thrives although it has had various different names over the years.

They’d be long letters, but that didn’t matter, because every word was relevant. But they might also be used to sell seriously expensive products – such as a Rolls Royce. One of his famous direct adverts of the 60’s was a long copy piece telling you that at 60mph the loudest sound in the car was the ticking of the clock. Wow!

As with any success story the principle was milked, weakened and abused.

We were bombarded by DM as even conversion rates of 0.1% sill meant that many products were worth selling using the medium. But of course that meant that you were selling to one person in a thousand. What impact did that have for your brand on the other 999? MOst didn’t care probably, but some of them would have been pissed off – meaning that you were spending money to piss off potential buyers.


Actually, I’m warming to this topic, but I haven’t even got to the crunch point yet. I think I’ll carry on tomorrow as I think that the failings of communication between folk today stem from the excesses of the 80s and 90s when we were practically taught, or driven, to ignore communications from people.

Wise guy?

So I’ve set myself up as a bit of a wise guy – that’s always going to be dangerous, you’re always going to have a fall. But it’s all just jest anyway.

I was destined for such a fall when one of the lads down the road came to ask for some help with his homework. He calls me uncle, but in actual fact it’s just because I’m good mates with his dad. I don’t have any real relationship to him. Anyway his subject was social anthropology, and while I have no knowledge of the topic as a study, I though that I’d be able to help just on the strength of my interest in people and people systems, what makes us tick and the like.

But I was stumped straight away by the terminology the questions were using – I had views, but I just had no idea of how to express them. I did some on line searching and didn’t find anything that’d help until I came across something called Marked By Teachers where you can buy essay examples. What a genius idea – I wish there was something like that around when we were at school.

Although having said that I guess there was, it was just that it wasn’t online and the bigger truth was that I just didn’t pay attention to very much anyway. How cruel is it that learning just didn’t seem interesting when it was free, and close to essential, whereas now that I do it just to stay interested in the world it is somehow fascinating.

Anyway I saved face with the lad, which was most important.