Wednesday, 19 January 2011

Wine, Daily Mail Readers, Segways & Banks

The minimum price of a bottle of wine will be £2.03, according to the new rules set by the government on the price of alcohol. However, don’t be fooled by this – any bottle of wine currently being sold at less that £2.03 is actually what we experts call vinegar, and thus a total rip-off.

The Christian owners of a hotel who refused to allow a gay couple a double room acted unlawfully, a judge has ruled. The hotel owners are considering an appeal on the basis of their deeply held beliefs, which are determined by that venerable tome of equality legislation and human rights morality - the bible.

I’m considering phoning them and asking if it’s OK for me to bring my slave with me to their B&B, for verily as the bible says: “You may purchase male or female slaves from among the foreigners who live among you. You may also purchase the children of such resident foreigners, including those who have been born in your land. You may treat them as your property, passing them on to your children as a permanent inheritance. You may treat your slaves like this, but the people of Israel, your relatives, must never be treated this way.” (Leviticus 25:44-46 NLT).

Now according to the above I’m forbidden to own British slaves (or is that only Jewish slaves?), but Americans are apparently fair game – although, if the truth be known, I’d much prefer to enslave the French.

In order to obey the strict letter of the bible, I must first convince them that I have owned said slave for less than six years. Naturally, all you good Christians out there will know what I’m talking about.

While delivering the papers yesterday I noted the Daily Mail headline: “30,000 pupils branded as bigots: Teachers log 'racist' and 'homophobic' jibes in playground squabbles, even at nursery.” Frankly, I’m surprised it’s only 30,000.

On getting home I looked up the article - and specifically the comments from typical Daily Mail readers, which I find reinvigorate my faith in the crass stupidity of certain portions of the human race. I was gratified in my assumption by the number of commentators who considered racist and homophobic jibes quite acceptable among primary school children. The whole tone of the article suggested that the kids making the jibes are the victims, not those they taunt and victimise!

Let’s get it straight, racist and homophobic jibes (with the exception of my earlier reference to the French) are forms of bullying – whether in the workplace or at school. The powers that be are laudably attempting to take a stance against bullying, primarily at the very behest of parents themselves. The earlier bullying is tackled (especially of the psychological kind), the earlier it is prevented from becoming a conditioned behaviour that continues into adulthood.

My son is horrified whenever he hears racist or homophobic comments – but I took the trouble to engage him in rational debate whenever I heard him making such jibes when younger and he has consequently assimilated my weltanschauung, for the most part. Kids generally repeat what they hear at home, which is a sad indictment on parenting today. My son, thankfully, is not afraid to challenge other kids who make racist or homophobic jibes, although he can occasionally transgress, but ceases when I threaten to sell him into slavery to a passing foreigner.

It would appear that, after a court ruling, it is illegal to use a Segway scooter on the pavement as it is a motor vehicle. The problem is that it does not meet the UK requirements for a road vehicle either, meaning you can’t use the bloody thing at all. Bit of a bummer if you’ve just shelled out £5k for one.

I went to my local Barclays Bank branch in Yate on Saturday to deposit a cheque and so the boy could report the loss of his debit card – which isn’t lost, but merely successfully and irretrievably hidden among all the detritus littering his bedroom floor. I was amazed to discover that in their wisdom, Barclays decided to shut my local branch on Saturdays while all the other 3 or 4 banks in the neighbourhood remain open.

When I told the member of the Borg Collective behind the counter that I intend to move my account to the Nat West a few doors down, he didn’t bat an eyelid or make any attempt to retain my custom. I wrote an email of complaint via Barclays’ website – needless to say I am still waiting for a response (other than the automated acknowledgement). I shall write to my MP, or perhaps the most powerful man in the world - Simon Cowell!


  1. I have read your post today in great detail and parts of it twice in order to gain a degree of clarification. I am saddened to have to tell you that I can't find one single sentence, one sub-phrase, or one punctuation mark to object to. Are you in danger of becoming rational and sensible in your old age?

  2. Alan: That may be so, but I am struggling to find a subject for tomorrow. Unless something comes to mind, I am in danger of having to consider Speaker Bercow's impartiality as subject matter.

  3. When you ask about the slaves don't forget to check their supply of rocks in order that you may stone to death any naughty children, adulterers or unbelievers staying at that hotel (also mandated in that same Christian guidebook Exodus 21:17)

    PS don't go to NatWest they are even more feckless.

  4. Ah Barclay's! My favourite Brit bank. Opened an account with them prior to a visit from NZ. On arrival requested an 'automatic teller' card to access my money in transit through the UK.
    "Do you have ID?"
    No problem mate - presented two passports, (NZ & UK)
    NZ driver's licence complete with photo, Barclays account statement that had been sent to me in NZ, Brigade ID card complete with photo, Visa card with signature, airline tickets. Everything except a note from me Mum.
    "Do you have a utility bill?"
    No. (my laptop and torch run on battery, why would I have a NZ utility bill with me for Christ's sake!?)
    "Sorry, can't issue one without a utility bill as ID". Confronted the manager who apologetically confirmed that this was the rule they were bound by Head Office.
    No way was he going to make a command decision and a blow for common sense.
    It was quite all right however to withdraw (even my full account) over the counter. Which after releasing a dangerous head of steam I did...