Tuesday, 28 April 2009

Tuesday 18/04/09

Rail unions in the UK are to ask the government to stop operators cutting jobs. They believe that companies are using the recession as an excuse for cuts being made to protect profits. Sorry – isn’t that what all companies do? There are people called shareholders and they are persuaded to put money into companies they think will produce a profit for them. If the companies make no profit, they take out their money and put it elsewhere. It’s simple and not really all that Machiavellian.

Catholic priests in Mexico are using prayer as a prophylactic against the new strain of flu that’s affecting the country. Cardinal Norberto Rivera, the archbishop of Mexico City, published a prayer directed to Our Lady of Guadalupe asking for her intercession to "quickly overcome this epidemic that has come to affect our nation." "Cover us with your cloak," the prayer pleads, "free us from this illness." That’s going to be really effective way of combating the flu, don’t you think?

This would be a perfect chance for the church to prove once-and-for-all that prayer really does work; simply get church-goers – of which there are a good few in Mexico - to eschew vaccine in favour of prayer while the rest of us get vaccinated. I know where I’d place my faith – and I guess I know where most believers would put their faith too.

Talking of faith, I was reading a synopsis of Angels & Demons by Dan Brown over the weekend. Within the plot the Pope had a son who was conceived through artificial insemination. It suddenly struck me that this, or cloning, may be a solution to the prohibition on catholic priests having a bit of how’s-your-father. I then realized though that the prohibition was originally aimed at stopping priests having dependent families, due to the consequent financial burdens for the Church, and was not a prohibition on sex per se. Given the Catholic Church says priests are not allowed to have dependent families and sex is only allowed within marriage, they are by default barred from having sex due to not being allowed to marry.

On the subject of families, family courts across England and Wales are being opened up to journalists as part of a government bid to boost public confidence in the family court system. While that at first glance seems good news for me, journalists will still not be permitted to print articles that can identify children who are the subject of a court case. This new ruling, therefore, is an exercise in utter futility, as it’s precisely cases involving children where transparency needs improving.

An unemployed couple in Kent have been ordered to vacate a garage they’ve been living in for the last 10 days. However, what are you meant to do when you’ve both been made redundant and had your home repossessed? Go to the social services and you won’t get any help, as you’re not a priority unless you’re under (or over) a certain age or have small kids. The paradox is that you can’t get job seeker’s allowance if you don’t have an address. It’s a Catch-22 situation. I don’t blame then for trying to live in a garage. What would you do in a similar situation?

In India or South Africa you could simply throw a few bits of tarpaulin and corrugated metal together on the roadside, but in our enlightened country you’re told to move on, sleep in a doorway (if you can) and slowly freeze to death – probably ending up consuming vast quantities of strong beer or drugs in the interim in order to help you cope with your problems. I find it incomprehensible how the genuinely unemployed are treated.

Broached the subject of a loo for the new house with Hay last night. I suggested an Asian loo, as they’re much more hygienic than the western variety. As my old man always said, hosing your backside down with water beats the equivalent of wiping bird shit from your hair with a piece of newspaper in terms of preventing underwear skid marks. I guess it’s not really a problem for women, but if you’re a fairly hirsute male it certainly is. Hay suggested a bidet, which takes up even more room but achieves the end objective from a male perspective.


  1. No, it’s not Machiavellian but the rail unions’ request isn’t exactly outrageous either – for a start, any company that is making a profit should not be allowed to cut jobs. That would keep the unemployment figures in better shape.

    Financial burden ? Of course, not so many pretty dresses for the Pope if some of the money has to be used to allow people to eat.

    Homelesseness isn’t even limited to the unemployed any more.

    You’d have to have a bloody good water recycling plant – those loos aren’t exactly water saving devices. Our flat is weird – the bidet is in the bathroom but the loo isn’t. We have to redo the bathroom and we’re getting rid of the bidet AND the bath as part of our water-consumption savings.

  2. Kapgaf: And what do shareholders do in that case? Also what if the competition is making more profit (perhaps because it has fewer people) and can undercut the company that can't get rid of staff?

    What you propose sounds suspiciously like communism, and no-one except the state will invest in communism.

  3. These times may change the rules for employers and employees. Retrenching will occurr and nobody will be happy. We hope to learn from this, if it doesn't kill us all first.

  4. Lake: The pig flu will do that first.

  5. Hi Bill, good post as usual.

    I tried to read your first paragraph on the rail unions but all i could get in my head was Jimmy Knapp. Miss that rife accent!

    Thanks for the advice on the Nintendo xx

  6. It might sound like communism but today even the French right wing are saying something along those lines (although they're not putting it into practice). Seems odd to me that when people are being told to tighten their belt, shareholders just want to go on raking in the profit at the same rates as before and that people are losing their job in order for this to happen.