Thoughts from an active pensioner who is now somewhat past his Biblical "Use-by date"

"Why just be difficult, when with a little more effort you can be bloody impossible?"

Saturday, 19 April 2014

Facts are unhelpful !

I was reading an article in today's Mail with the heading

Bottle of wine a day 'is not bad for you': Leading scientist also claims those who exceed recommended dose could live longer than teetotallers

It continues :
"Dr Kari Poikolainen, who used to work for the World Health Organisation as an alcohol expert, examined decades of research into its effects."
He claims that drinking just over a bottle a day won’t harm your health and suggests that drinking only becomes harmful when people consume more than around 13 units a day.
His conclusion is that "The weight of the evidence shows moderate drinking is better than abstaining and heavy drinking is worse than abstaining – however the moderate amounts can be higher than the guidelines say."

But Julia Manning, from think-tank 2020Health, said: ‘This is an unhelpful contribution to the debate. It makes grand claims which we don’t see evidence for.’ She added: ‘Alcohol is a toxin, the risks outweigh the benefits.’

So a doctor, who was employed as an expert on alcohol by the World Health Organisation, and studied all the research that has been carried out on the subject is "unhelpful" because his findings don't agree with the policy of some "think-tank". Clearly this Julia Manning seems to be one of those people who adopt the attitude "I've made up my mind, don't confuse me with facts"!

I'm certainly not a heavy drinker and certainly would not want to consume a bottle of wine a day. But I do know quite a few people of my age who do drink that amount quite regularly, although probably not daily. Chatting to a friend the other day in the local, he reckoned that he needed a dozen bottles of wine for a dinner party at home for eight people. Judging by the comments of others present it seems that this was accepted as being a quite reasonable amount.

I usually go to the pub a couple of times a week after bell-ringing practice (a very old tradition!) and limit myself to a pint of beer, not because of worries about whether it will do me any harm, but because I have to drive home. At home, a bottle of wine lasts the two of us for a couple of evening meals. One of the ringers, now getting on towards ninety, always has a couple of pints and has been drinking this amount for the thirty or so years that I have known him. He seems to be thriving - he has just completed walking the Thames Path in ten mile stretches and is now tackling the Chiltern path!

I would like to see the real scientific facts about alcohol published so that we can make up our own minds, but it does seem that is unlikely to happen as there are too many vested interests who have already made the decision on our behalf.

Wednesday, 16 April 2014

Bluebells in the Woods

I can walk through a small wood on the way to the shops, I don't do it often now that I have stopped buying a daily paper as we normally drive to the shops because it's a bit to far to carry much shopping. However today was bright sunshine and we only wanted a couple of small items so we decided to walk. I was pleased we did as the bluebells were in full bloom and it was a very pleasant walk. Some of the trees had suffered badly as a result of the winter storms, but the council had cleared those which were blocking the pathway. Unfortunately, the only seat at the centre of the woods had been vandalised and so we were unable to sit and enjoy our surroundings. I simply can't understand the mentality of someone who is prepared to walk through the woods simply to smash a seat which was in regular use by both us oldies pausing for a short breather and by mothers watching their young children at play.

The photograph doesn't do the bluebells justice!

Monday, 14 April 2014


I've been under the weather since the end of February and haven't felt like blogging, or even doing much at all, but today with the sun shining, I decided it was time to do a bit of shopping, in particular to buy a new pair of casual shoes.
I found a pair that I liked in the local shoe shop and didn't pay any attention to where they were made, knowing that most footwear now comes from outside Britain.
When I got home, I was intrigued by the stylised Union Flag on the shoes and the attached label.

As you can see, it is not quite a Union Flag because apart from the strange shape, the red diagonals are missing. This intrigued me and I looked at the box which had the same symbol on the lid, and the words:
British Company.   British design   Since 1914 

But nowhere did it actually state they were made here, and nowhere on the box was there any indication as to the country of origin. Even on the shoes, at first sight, there was no indication of origin. The make, size and the above symbol were clearly printed on the insole, but country of origin, no sign. It was there, of course, to comply with the law, but it was tucked away on the underside of the tongue, printed in tiny type using ink of almost the same colour as the shoes: "Made in India".

I felt quite annoyed; I have no objection to buying goods manufactured abroad, but I do feel that it is wrong to give the impression that they were British when the only thing British about them is that they have apparently been designed in Britain and imported by a British company which has existed since 1914. Certainly, I believe that it is wrong of them to used a stylised Union Flag as it now makes me suspicious of other products which use our flag to signify that they have been made or produced here.

At the same time, I have to admit that the shoes are very comfortable and that the Velcro fastening is far preferable to traditional laces.

So much for my first day out for some while! At least it gave me something to write about!

Monday, 17 February 2014

The Cost of the Floods - plus VAT !

 It is difficult to find figures about the cost of the floods, mainly because public and private costs are invariably lumped together to give an overall figure.
The BBC has a very interesting report in which it says that
"Severe flooding in the UK is not unusual."
and adds
"In 2007 there was extensive damage in several urban areas including Hull and Tewkesbury. The insurance bill for this year's flooding could well end up a lot lower than the payouts required seven years ago.
"Between May and July 2007, England and Wales experienced the wettest conditions in 200 years. Nearly 50,000 households were affected"
This is an interesting statement because it rather contradicts the Green's arguments about climate change, as the recent floods are clearly not the worse floods that the country has experienced.
The 2007 summer floods gave rise to payouts of about £3billion.
"According to the insurer Hiscox, the latest floods could, if they continue for a couple more weeks, result in payouts of about £1bn. This would still be well short of the claims seven years ago."
These figures don't, of course, represent the total overall cost of the floods and won't include the cost of repairs to our infrastructure, such as the damage to the railways as at Dawlish, and the repair of flood defences. Nor, of course does it include the costs of flood prevention measures, belatedly being put in place by the military.

However, the Treasury doesn't come out of this too badly. VAT is payable on building repairs and replacement contents. Based on Hiscox's figures this would come to around £200 million, which should easily pay for Cameron's "No efforts will be spared . . . . . . " and even leave enough to cover the costs of dredging the rivers in Somerset.

Friday, 14 February 2014

Purge all those who don't accept climate change!

The Green Party have demanded that 'Any Minister or senior advisor refusing to accept "the scientific consensus on climate change" should be sacked'.
Well, now we know, the Greens are budding Stalinists who given a chance would purge all those who don't agree with their view of the world.
The BBC reports in some detail that 'The Greens are now insisting the government get rids of any cabinet minister who takes a different view on climate change' and that 'even the chief veterinary officer should be removed if he didn't sign up to the view on climate change also taken by the Green Party'.
Apart from the fact as each day passes it becomes more apparent that there is no real "scientific consensus on climate change", and that many of the predictions of the alarmists have been totally wrong, there is no reason to believe that the present abnormal weather is due to climate change. How many times have we heard from the alarmists that "weather isn't climate" when their predictions are wrong, the most recent being when a group of them were on a vessel stuck in what should have been non-existent Antarctic ice!
Its a good job that the Greens are never likely to get into power in this country otherwise we would all soon learn what it was like to have lived in the old USSR.

Tuesday, 11 February 2014

Floods and Smoking

Large tracts of the West Country and the Thames Valley are under water, large numbers of people are homeless, and what does the House of Commons have a debate on?  Not the floods, as one might expect, but the possible harm that second hand smoke might do to children travelling in cars.

Meanwhile, after weeks of dithering, the Environment Agency decides some extra pumps are needed and a Dutch company gets 20 of them on the road within 4 hours of receiving a phone call.

There are all the signs that panic has set in within our government with different Ministers meeting the media, but no-one seemingly being in charge and having overall responsibility.

Monday, 10 February 2014

Save the Children

According to the Daily Mail, "Three staff at Save the Children earn more than £140,000. The highest is chief operating officer Annabel Hoult who earned £168,653 last year". Say an average of £150,000, that makes a total of around £450,000 for just three of their staff.
Save the Children have recently been running a series of adverts on commercial TV, urging us to give £2 a month to save a child. My maths shows that it would require around 14,500 people to sign up to give this amount simply to pay the salaries of these three staff before they even get round to saving any children. As for the cost of the TV advertisements, well the mind boggles!