Tuesday, 24 April 2018

I Just Don't Care About Th

Overheard watching Jurgen Klop on the news:

Hay: "Did I just hear him say de instead of the?"

Chairman: "Yes, it's a well known fact that the British can't hear the interdental non-sibilant fricative when we Dutch and Germans use it. Like when I say this, that and the other, you will hear it as dis, dat and de udder."

The news:

  • Government insists UK will leave customs union.
  • Martin Lewis seeks damages from Facebook.
  • Duchess of Cambridge has a boy (I wasn't even aware she was pregnant).
  • Capita raises £700m in financing.

I simply don't care! Why? Because I'm getting my ride-on lawnmower cutting deck back today from the welder. Nothing now matters to me - all is well with the universe.

My mower even has headlights!

Monday, 23 April 2018

New Atheists & Wood

I was reading a review of a book called Seven Types of Atheism by John Grey. The reviewer contends that the New Atheists' (such as Richard Dawkins) mistake, is that 'they fail to see that science cannot close the gap between facts and values - it cannot, for example, tell you whether slavery is wrong.' I would disagree - science indeed demonstrates that there is not a single reason why one set of people could be considered superior to another, which was the justification for slavery.

Science can also say why docking a lamb's tail is OK but docking a dog's tail is not OK - dogs don't suffer from fly-strike.

I do wonder whether science can determine why it's impossible to keep your socks on when wearing wellingtons. They always work their way off your foot.

Have any of you started to hoard wood? I'm finding myself gravitating toward this tendency - apparently it's a sign of ageing. You look at an off-cut and think; "Mmm - that could come it useful one day," knowing full well that you won't use it this side of the 2nd coming. I've also started drawing around tools that are fixed to a piece of hardboard in my shed. Am I getting senile?

Sunday, 22 April 2018

Cultural Appropriation of Dry Stone Walls

Remember not so long ago there was some argument about white girls having their hair styled in cornrows and some members of the black community somewhere (probably the USA) going on about cultural appropriation

Well, while watching an item on the BBC's One Show about the UK ladies netball team, there were 3 black members of the team and one black TV presenter. Every one of them had straightened their hair and were wearing it long. Isn't that cultural appropriation too, and isn't it more prevalent among the black, female population than white females wearing their hair in corn rows?

I really don't understand the cultural appropriation argument - seems just another thing manufactured so someone can complain about it.

We had a Village Comedy Night last night - 3 comedians and a 3 course dinner for £25. Hay was part of the 3 woman team that made the dinners and I was helping to wash up and serve, along with No.1 Son. Anyway, I was talking to a friend who is a retired local council planner and still keeps his hand in local issues. He was telling me that James Dyson is busy replacing 14km of dry stone walling sound his property, the labour alone for which is £150 per metre. That's £2.1m just for the labour. wonder if Dyson can give Trump some consultancy on his wall, which doesn't seem to be getting anywhere.

Saturday, 21 April 2018

Diesel Social Media Fakes

Overheard in the garden:

Hay's Dad's Partner: "Brian - all this I hear about diesel cars being bad; your car runs on diesel, doesn't it?"

Hay's Dad: "That's right."

Hay's Dad's Partner: "Well, I think you should put petrol in it the next time you fill it up."

Hay's Dad: "Give me strength!"

I was reading an article on a study into fake social media profiles. The study focuses on profile networks and the probability of genuine links, such as family, work or school connections to determine whether a profile is genuine. A lack of genuine social connections is an indicator of the likelihood of a profile being fake, which makes eminent sense.

Over the last month or so, I've received an unusually high number of connection requests from people I don't know, or who don't know anyone I know. I usually delete such requests, unless there's some form of link through shared interests - you should too.

Here's a suggestion; Facebook gives every member a small nick from the advertising revenue as a reward for accepting adverts. You could probably build a business model around that. I'd be prepared to look at adverts all day - if they paid me...

Friday, 20 April 2018

Driverless Windrush Headlines

The media really must do a lot more to clean up their headlines:

I have no idea how many driverless cars there are on the roads, but whenever one is involved in an accident it makes headline news. Over the last few weeks there seems to have been a spate of news reports concerning cars with drivers that have ploughed into groups of people or into people's houses - incidences totally unrelated to terrorism. It does make me wonder whether driverless cars are any more dangerous than cars with drivers. Granted there will be far fewer driverless than driven cars, but I'd be interested in a statistical comparison. When all's said and done, there can be myriad causes for road accidents and they're not all attributable to the driver (or non-driver).

Regarding the Windrush debacle - having listened to someone who worked in the immigration department during the time the decision was taken to destroy landing cards, I believe this is simply an administrative SNAFU and everyone is too busy searching for a political scapegoat, rather than focusing on correcting the situation. The lady I heard on the radio maintained that an operational decision was made to destroy excess paperwork and the Windrush documents simply got caught up in the process, without any ministerial knowledge. A classic case of the law of unintended consequences coming into play.

I heard Michael Gove on Radio 4 yesterday morning assert that the UK was the most immigrant-friendly country in Europe. He may be correct from an immigration policy perspective (we don't seem to apply any of the rules we're meant to have - hence Brexiteers' xenophobia), but certainly not from the point of immigrants themselves, according to Statista / Gallup. We come 38th in the world, with at least 3 European countries ahead of us (click to enlarge), if not more.

It's also rather strange considering poll after poll has shown immigration to be the number 1 concern for the Brexit vote. Immigrants and xenophobia drove the whole thing and Brexiteers are desperate to hide that by clutching at any straw that diverts attention from immigration, even if the argument is beyond their comprehension or debunked.

Wednesday, 18 April 2018

Paranoid Victimhood

The number of right-wing, nationalist parties springing up in Europe is truly disturbing - there are literally dozens of them. When you speak to some of the individuals they maintain it's the liberal policies of the EU that's driving them to become nationalist. That's a bit like a violent husband blaming his domestic abuse on  his wife.

The liberal concept of freedom of the individual seems to be anathema to them. They want to control people; liberals, homosexuals, other races, other religions, other nationalities, etc. It's a fear of 'the other'. They go on about democracy, but democracy is exactly what they don't like - they want a fascist dictatorship, using the pretext of democracy to achieve it.

Another thing I've personally noticed is that the majority of far-right people I've encountered are ver angry and bitter ex squaddies.  Perhaps they just love order and control. They do seem to have a nostalgic penchant for red, black and white (or silver). Interestingly enough, Jackson Pollock had a painting (if that is the right term for a Pollock work) called Red, Black and Silver.

All this kerfuffle about Facebook - I personally couldn't give a toss about who has my email address or can see my Facebook pages. I know at least half a dozen people who have recently deleted Facebook from their lives as a result of the Cambridge Analytica debacle. I'm perhaps not so paranoid because I consider myself immune to advertising. Scraping my Facebook data with Data Selfie confirms to confirm that. Nor do I believe everything I read on Facebook - I treat everything on social media with a high degree of scepticism and am an inveterate fact checker. Facebook is a massive source of ill-informed opinion masquerading as fact. It's like reading Viz.

Whatsapp I find to be a pain in the arse - all I get is the same old suspects bombarding me with ridiculous memes that aren't even funny - some of them are just plain offensive. I hardly use it myself, except when the person I'm contacting doesn't happen to use Facebook Messenger.

NHS Beards

Overheard while watching the 1971 film Jeremiah Johnson, starring a hirsute Robert Redford.

Chairman: "Most women don't like men with beards."

Hay: "Oh, I like men with beards, obviously, but only proper beards."

Chairman: "My dad didn't have a proper beard. I think I got my beard from my mother's side of the family"

Hay: "Yes, your mum had a good beard."

An interesting graphic from the Nuffield Trust from 2016.

Food for thought.

Tuesday, 17 April 2018

Tea Party Trade

Came across this passage in a biography of Pitt the Younger, which has modern implications.

Trade in contraband goods had grown during the years of war with America until it was estimated to exceed 20% of imports, and the East India Company believed that the illegal trade in tea approximated to the quantity passing through customs at authorized ports of entry. Reports of a Commons committee set up by the coalition government recommended the strengthening of laws against smuggling but concluded that the most effective deterrent would be a reduction of duties ‘to make the temptation no longer adequate to the risk’. In the short term, the resulting loss in revenue must be made up by the increase or imposition of other taxes, but it was reasonable to suppose that a general expansion of trade and increased home consumption following the reduction in price would, in time, compensate for much of the loss.

Pitt’s previous discussions with the East India Company had brought him into contact with the tea merchants and he listened with care to their objections and suggestions. His Bill, introduced in June 1784, became law in amended form on 20 August. The varied duties on tea, averaging 119%, were reduced to a uniform 25% on value. There were, of course, complications: stocks proved to be inadequate, and the wealthiest smugglers banded together to force up prices in the auction rooms; but Pitt, with the active co-operation of the East India Company and the merchants, crushed or circumvented all attempts to break his policy. Within five years the quantity of tea passing through customs at the lower rates of duty had doubled, the smugglers’ trade in tea had been stunted, and the finances of the East India Company improved. A graduated rise in the window tax had more than compensated for the loss in revenue. At the end of the first year the Exchequer had benefited by an additional £200,000.

Neat trick!

Another passage describing Pitt's 1786 trade agreement with France:

There was nothing to prevent Britain from further reducing the duties on Portuguese wines, without any similar reduction for the French, and it was later accepted that Spanish wines might be dutiable at the same rate. The agreement on the carrying trade was unlikely to benefit the F rench since the possibility of Britain’s being engaged in a war that did not also involve France was remote; but it was possible, even probable, that Britain might remain aloof from a war in Europe that engaged France. Where reciprocal duties applied, it seemed certain that British manufacturers would gain the greater profits. The exclusion of French silk, on the other hand, protected the hand-weavers of Spitalfields who would have been ruined by direct competition with Lyon. Most important of all, the treaty opened to British manufacturers a market which, as Adam Smith had pointed out ten years earlier, was eight times as populous as the American Colonies and, because of its proximity, able to trade three times as fast.

Quite pertinent to the Brexit argument and the 'we'll trade with the rest of the world' trope. Proximity is key in trade for a number of reasons.

Monday, 16 April 2018

Social Value in Syria

I think the Russians may have nuked Castle Coombe in retaliation for the Syrian strikes...

Apropos of yesterday's post about Syria and it not being OK to use chemical weapons, but OK to deny refuge to people fleeing the bombs and the chemical weapons - here's a link to a list of MPs who voted to turn away 3,000 unaccompanied Syrian children in 2016. My own MP is on the list.

Here's a novel idea - pay people according to the social value of their work.

I found this article on the New Economics Foundation website - very interesting. If we did pay people according to their social value we wouldn't be finding it hard to recruit medics, police, teachers, etc. The tax implications would be quite high, but what price do you put on a society that values, well, society?

One problem would be deciding on what is social value and how to position jobs on the scale.

Sunday, 15 April 2018

Charity Starts at Home for Hedgehogs

Overheard while watching a programme on hedgehogs:

Brian May: "You shouldn't give hedgehogs milk, as they're lactose intolerant"

Hay: "Are they gluten intolerant too? Nut allergy?"

I was having a discussion with someone about foreign aid. The chap said charity starts at home, to which I responded that it doesn't stop there though. He then launched into the argument that aid shouldn't be given to Indians because India has a space programme. I pointed out that you can't not help someone by virtue of a failure on the part of their government - exactly the same argument could be made against giving to British charities supporting the homeless or the elderly.

There's something I don't get about this Syria thing. It's not OK to use chemical weapons on people, but it's OK to bomb the shit out of them with missiles. It's also not OK to give refuge to people fleeing the bombs and the chemical weapons - or indeed to send in a combined UN or NATO force to stop the war dead in its tracks. There's something very wrong about this logic - an overt example of virtue signalling perhaps?

Saturday, 14 April 2018

Artisan Duerte

Read a story yesterday about President Duerte headlined; "President hits out at what he calls international effort to paint him as ‘ruthless and heartless violator of human rights’." He threatened to arrest an international criminal court prosecutor if she conducts any investigation into his activities. Sounds like  the kind of thing a ‘ruthless and heartless violator of human rights’ would do.

Have you noticed how everything that's expensive these days is called artisan? Artisan bread, artisan beer, artisan cheese, artisan biscuits, artisan gin, etc. It means nothing more than small-scale or homemade. However, the focus is quality over quantity.

Time was that the only place you could get bread and cakes was from an artisan - it was your local high street baker - every high street had one - and he had to start competing with mass-produced supermarket crap, so a lot were operating at a loss and had to close.

Now, however, the local bakery is on the rise (if you'll forgive the pun), but having made their name in the artisan market, they're faced with the desire to grow and spread - meaning they possibly have to use - to a limited extent - mass production techniques themselves to gain the benefits of scale.

 We have a local baker in Chipping Sodbury - Hobbs House - which spawned a TV programme called the Fabulous Baker Brothers. Hobbs House are now quote big, selling all over the southwest and even have the National Trust as a customer for sandwiches within their region. However, they still use traditional techniques and have focused on winning awards within a niche market as a means of keeping ahead of the competition.

There's a lot of pressure on the big bakery conglomerates to use lower quality ingredients, or ingredients such as palm oil (which has qualities similar to butter), which is resulting in vast swathes of rain forest being cleared for industrial palm oil production.

Yes, artisan can, and more often than not does, mean better and more sustainable products, but some are just using it as an excuse to charge an arm and a leg. I make my own sourdough, artisan bread and have been doing so for nearly 10 years. I simply couldn't go back to supermarket bread again.

Friday, 13 April 2018

Syrian Crisis

Pundits are questioning why Assad should, when he's winning his war, want to use chemical weapons on the Syrian rebels. Putin supports Assad for no other reason than the fact the millions of displaced refugees pose a threat to the EU, which he is desperate to destabilise due to it being a threat to his particular form of Russian democracy, which is an oligarchical dictatorship or a dysfunctional, federal democracy at best

To this end, Putin supports far-right groups within the EU and stimulates opposition to a refugee crisis he himself has helped to create.

If there's cui bono argument, the beneficiary is Putin, by creating a climate of fear which will result in yet more refugees knocking on the door of the EU. Assad obviously benefits by having vast areas cleared of rebels and potential rebels as they flee to Europe.

That said, the West needs to be very cautious. It's iniquitous that Russia, indeed any of the 5 Powers, have a veto at the UN and can block an investigation. The UN needs to change if it's to have any credibility.

Sabre rattling solves very little and Trump seems to have climbed down on his knee-jerk rhetoric, which makes him look weak - better not to leave yourself exposed to looking weak in the first place by keeping your counsel.

The West needs to isolate Russia using means other than war - war is the continuation of politics by other means, as Clausewitz said - war is the last resort when all else fails.

Thursday, 12 April 2018

Religious Social Media Dump

Christians and Muslims have created a competitor to Facebook - it's called Faithbook... Someone probably cracked that one before, but I just thought of it independently on hearing someone with a lisp say Facebook on the radio.

Just found the above image, so obviously I was late catching on...

Was listening to someone on the radio the other day talking about the human microbiome - or the bacteria that comprise a large portion of our body mass. He was talking specifically about the microbes in one's poo and how its analysis by DNA sequencing can lead to new methods of combating disease. He said that the data dump in our poo would take a tonne of DVDs to record. A rather good expression that - data dump.

Wednesday, 11 April 2018

Petition a Two State Solution for Hogs

Kitty and Blackie do not get along together, but they both like lying on our bed during the day. 

Hay has been called in as an international mediator and suggested a Two State Solution, to which end she built a Trump-style wall to de-escalate the tensions.

If you're going to go vegan (not that I would), can you go 'the whole hog', or is that not allowed?

Have you noticed how on-line petitions have gained an influence far beyond the numbers signing them? It only takes about 12 people to complain about a TV programme and it becomes major news. Now I'm no royalist, but 30,000 mean-spirited people have apparently signed one against naming the 2nd Bristol Channel crossing the Prince of Wales Bridge. 30,000 is the equivalent of the population of Yate or Dunstable - insignificant. There again, they could be arguing for it to be called the Prince Charles Bridge, as in years to come they'll be saying; "Which PoW was that then?"

Tuesday, 10 April 2018

Nut Psychology

Overheard in a local kitchenware shop:

Hay: "Do you like these sandwich boxes?"

Chairman: "No - there's no separate compartment for things like a banana and your nuts."

Hay: "It's a sandwich box, not a pair of boxer shorts!"

The mind is a wonderful thing and can dupe you. As part of my weight-loss regime I've started using a much smaller glass for my weekend wine intake, which has resulted in a reduction of about 1/3rd over the weekend, amounting to a full bottle - which is a good number of calories.

Similarly, when doing my weight lifts I've found that trying to do 20 vertical lifts of the 10kg weights is only just achievable, but if I do the lifts in sets of 5 - counting 1 to 5 and then 1 to 5 again another 3 times - it's not only achievable, but I feel I can actually do one or two more by the time I reach 20.

I've increased the exercises by 25%, but still do 6 sessions a day and am maintaining the one meal a day regime. Each set is now 1.5 minute plank, 25 forward arm curls, 25 side arm curls and 20 vertical, overhead arm lifts (with the eventual objective of 25 verticals).

The result has been a reduction of my waist from 34 inches to a very comfortable 32. The weight has stabilised at 82kg, despite the fat melting away, which can only be due to the increased muscle mass in my upper body.

Had to go through my entire trouser and jeans wardrobe over the weekend and chuck out the 34 wait stuff. The charity shop has been doing a roaring trade from me buying new trews and even my T shirts are starting to get a bit tight around the shoulders.

Ever wondered why some charity shops sell clothes that still have the shop sales tag still on them? I used to think it was people with more sense than money buying stuff on-line and then giving it to charity shops when they find it's the wrong size. Apparently they are mainly 'returns', which account for over 60% of the clothes shifted, it being cheaper to donate them to charity than put them through an inspection process and put them back in the sales chain. Some high-end brands will actually destroy returns rather than sell them cheaper through alternative outlets as it diminishes the brand cachet.

Monday, 9 April 2018

I'm a Travellin' Man


Hay: "Why are gypsies called gypsies?"

Chairman: "People used to think they came from Egypt, but they actually came from northern India. And Ireland..."

Hay: "So they are nomads?"

Chairman: "No, the Nomads invaded England in 1066."

Gypsies. The ideological position of any town council, left or right, is that they cause a mess wherever they go, so they should be moved on. What happens though is that the problem is just shoved to somewhere else because no-one can think laterally.

Councils spend fortunes policing and clearing up traveller caravan sites, only to have to do it time, after time, after time. Gypsies are not going to disappear from the face of the UK - the most sensible solution therefore is to provide them with a number of permanent camps with some basic amenities. These can be policed and placed in areas where there is little disruption to community life around them.

Yes, there will be a cost involved, but far less than continually having to battle gypsies and their detritus year after year after year. Far too sensible though.

The ironic thing is that we're a nation of over a million caravan or motorhome owners, so a whole swathe of the population aspires to the travelling lifestyle. It's not so much the lifestyle that upsets people though, as the mess travellers leave behind. Mind you, some of the people driving along our road are not much better if the stuff they chuck out of their cars is anything to go by.

We were out for a walk in the Slad Valley over the weekend and on passing a farmhouse I spotted a kid of about 8 or 9 playing in the garden. I felt like telling him to get inside and play on the internet, just like other normal kids of his own age...

Sunday, 8 April 2018


I aspire to political agnosticism - political nirvanah and enlightenment - a letting go of ideology and political dogma. Buddha said; "Believe nothing merely because you have been told it. Do not believe what your teacher tells you merely out of respect for the teacher. But whatsoever, after due examination and analysis, you find to be kind, conducive to the good, the benefit, the welfare of all beings -- that doctrine believe and cling to, and take it as your guide."

Ideology, which isn't falsifiable, pervades politics. Whole areas of political thought are fact-free zones. You've probably heard of mindfulness - well, it's about time to develop something called factfulness, which is the ability to criticise daft, dogmatic ideas, no matter which party espouses them - and even if all tout them.

The problem a lot of people get into is that they will dogmatically follow a particular party, which inevitably ends with them having to defend some policy which is manifestly idiotic. You can always identify the partizan - just throw them a stupid party policy, bereft of any evidential support, and watch them tie themselves in knots trying to defend the indefensible. I've been guilty of this myself in the past, but have made a concerted effort to overcome the urge and divorce myself from any party and vote only on policies and trustworthiness to implement such policies.  I consider myself neither right nor left and more of the middling sort.

Politics, like religion, becomes enmeshed in your view of yourself and it's hard not be become biased once a decision to support a particular party is made. Essentially it's a form of tribalism. Once the untrained mind has made a formal commitment to a philosophy - and it does not matter whether that philosophy is generally reasonable and high-minded or utterly bizarre and irrational - the powers of reason are surprisingly ineffective in changing the believer's mind.

Giordano Bruno, a 17th C. Italian philosopher once said; "It is proof of a base and low mind for one to wish to think with the masses or majority, merely because the majority is the majority. Truth does not change because it is, or is not, believed by a majority of the people."

Auguste Comte, a 19th C. French philosopher said; "All good intellects have repeated, since Bacon's time, that there can be no real knowledge but which is based on observed facts."

Some political philosophies are nothing more than opinion, and no opinion is right or wrong. I may like blue cheese, but you hate it. It's an opinion and opinions can be ignored, in my opinion...

I see Boris Johnson is defending his ineptitude by accusing Jeremy Corbyn of peddling an 'avalanche of lies and disinformation' over the Skripal affair. A bit like Boris' Brexit 'avalanche of lies and disinformation' then. All I see Corbyn (who I have no particular like for) doing is standing up for British principles in relation to accusations, evidence and condemnation. Thou hypocrite, first cast out the beam out of thine own eye; and then shalt thou see clearly to cast out the mote out of thy brother's eye (the Bible is full of this kind of handy stuff). It would have been far better for Boris to say; "I understand where Corbyn is coming from, but....."

There seems to be a narrative on the right of the political spectrum that it was wrong to arrest the pensioner who stabbed and killed a burglar. I was under the impression that the police had the task of ascertaining the facts before reaching a conclusion. Part of ascertaining the facts is to arrest someone who has killed someone else, no matter the circumstances, or am I missing something? Kill someone in a road accident, even if obviously not your fault, and you will be arrested - it is simply the procedure.

It may seem I'm repeatedly attacking the right, but it's simply that it's those on the right who keep putting themselves in the firing line through pure stupidity.

Saturday, 7 April 2018


Does anyone remember those little bottles of olive oil you could buy at the chemist? My dad used to heat a small amount and pour it into his ears to loosen the vast quantities of ear wax he produced. It was a popular remedy in before the '70s. He'd occasionally visit the doctor to have them syringed too.

Not sure olive oil would be recommended by a doctor these days - in fact, I'm certain it isn't. There is an old remedy for hair loss that uses shampoo and olive oil, so using it to get rid of your ear wax may result in a profusion of ear hair, although I doubt it.

Anyone remember when absolutely no-one took their kids to a restaurant? Those were heavenly days; we spent about 15 years of our lives not going to restaurants, or else used a solution that was developed specially for parents - it was a rather innovative solution called a babysitter. If only people would use them more these days...

Friday, 6 April 2018

Antisemites, Poisoned Spies & Hope

I find it rather strange that there are calls for anti-semites to be chucked out of the Labour party but no-one is the least bit concerned about the racists and xenophobes in Ukip and the Conservative parties. The calls for anti-semites to be expelled from Labour is coming, tellingly, from parts of the Labour Party itself, which shows there's a recognition of there being a problem and a discussion is underway. There is no such discussion going on within Ukip and the Conservative parties, who have based almost their entire Brexit strategy around the question of immigration. It's a funny old world.

The same illogicality surrounds the Novichok debacle; Corbyn is accused by the government's Liar-in-Chief (£350m a week to the NHS) of siding with the Russian propaganda machine when what he's actually doing is adhering to a basic principle of British law - innocent until proven guilty. Yes, Russia is the most likely candidate, but there has to be evidence before engaging in knee-jerk reactions that may come back to bite you in the bum. Has the Conservative Party learned nothing from Iraq? It's just common sense - but Bojo isn't noted for that faculty.

I use Flipboard a lot, as it draws content from a wide variety of sources. You can create your own Flipboard magazines and add content to it for others to see. I have had a long-running battle with a Flipboarder who aggregates pro-Brexit stories on his magazine, which he shares; however, he's finally barred me from commenting as I've debunked every story he's added to his magazine and I believe he feels threatened within his cosy, fact-free bubble.

Lies were spread by both sides in the Brexit debate; however, the Remain lies were nothing more than an over-exaggeration of the downside economics, whereas the Leave lies were factual lies – Turkey joining the EU (Vote Leave publicity), £350m a week for the NHS (Boris Johnson), it will hurt the EU more than it will hurt us (every Brexiteer having no knowledge of percentages), we will trade with the rest of the world (Liam Fox), we will still have access to the single market (Daniel Hannan), etc. Despite the mounting evidence that Brexit will be a disaster (which is why the government is desperate for a deal on access to the Single Market), Leavers cling to their discredited mantras like an alcoholic does to a bottle, or a heroin addict to a syringe.

Here's my armoury, every item of which I can debunk with facts, evidence and/or logic (if you require clarification on any of these, then just ask):

Leave Lies:

• We send £350m a week to Brussels,
• We can’t stop Turkey joining,
• We can’t stop a European army,
• We are still liable to pay eurozone bailouts,
• The UK rebate can be changed against our will,
• Our VAT exemptions will be ended,
• Cameron’s deal was not legally binding,
• EU law is adopted by unelected bureaucrats,
• We can’t control our borders in the EU,
• Criminals arriving in Germany can get EU passports and come over here,
• Health tourism costs us billions,
• EU needs UK trade more than vice versa,
• Past referendum results have been ignored,
• Auditors still refuse to sign off the accounts,
• CAP adds £400 to British food bills,
• British steel suffers because of the EU,
• Irish border will be unaffected by Brexit,
• UK can’t deport EU criminals,
• UK is always outvoted,
• 60-70% of laws come from EU,
• Renationalisation of industries is impossible,
• We get no veto on future treaty change or integration,
• The budget ceiling can increase without our consent,
• We thought we were only joining a free trade zone (EEC).

Remain Lies:

 • It’ll be very, very, very, very bad (rather than just very, very bad).

You may believe some of the Leave lies are straw-men, but I assure you they are not and are arguments that have been put to me many times by Brexiteers in the Lion's Den of the Get Britain Out and Leave.EU Facebook pages (not to mention the Tory press), where I regularly take on the Ultras. These sites are where I have honed my counter-arguments and thickened my skin, as well as learning about the mind-set of Ultras, which is based on nothing more concrete than dogma and hope. Forecasts, however inaccurate, are a better guide to action than plain hope. That's not to say that hope hasn't sometimes triumphed, but it's rare; business and war are littered with the casualties of hope.

I see John Redwood promised punishment a few years ago for firms that are sensible and daring to speak out against the Tory, Eurosceptic group-think.

Thursday, 5 April 2018


I do wish that online media outlets would design their systems such that when people comment on articles they can't do so unless they've read the article in question. You see so many comments from people who have splattered into action having either just read a provocative headline, or failed to grasp anything other than the most rudimentary understanding of the article.

An example is a headline I saw on the BBC News website saying; "N Korean missile could reach UK in months." Now without reading the story I could be forgiven for thinking it would be travelling very, very slowly and could be shot down quite easily. Another interpretation would be that the N Koreans are sending us one to test as a prelude to an international arms deal...

Wednesday, 4 April 2018


Trump and steel/aluminium tariffs - although it pains me to say so, I have a degree of sympathy for him a bit on this. Competition is all well and good, but China dumping excess production on the market is not fair competition when Chinese wages are much lower than those in the US and the steel and aluminium is being sold at below the Chinese domestic price. Putting tariffs on all steel, including the EU, is over the top and isolates the USA. A punitive tariff of over 200%, however, is plain daft and is not creating an even playing field and is inviting a trade war,

The Chinese practise is an object lesson in why no nation can simply drop tariffs on all imports, as Rees-Mogg and his cronies are advocating. Protectionism has its place, especially where the competitive field is not level.

Trump should be gathering global support for reasonable tariffs on Chinese steel and aluminium, as that's the only way in which unfair dumping can be brought under control. In 2016 the EU imposed import duties of between 13.2% and 22.6% on Chinese hot-rolled steel, which is used in pipelines and gas containers, and 65.1% and 73.7% on heavy plates, which are used in civil engineering projects. There didn't seem to be as much of an uproar about this, probably because the EU tariffs we not as punitive as the US ones and were part of a negotiated deal.

In early March of this year the levies were renewed for a further 5 years. Perversely, the UK government lobbied against these measures, which did not go down well with UK steel producers, and Tata Steel in particular, whose very existence in Port Talbot was under threat over Brexit when potential new buyers pulled out following the referendum. It's only the EU tariffs that have led Tata to continue to support the Port Talbot plant.

It's amusing that the Daily Mail is garnering support for the new blue passport contract to be given to the British company, De La Rue (ironic name), as a patriotic act that will result in an extra £120m cost to the taxpayer - which will be used to plug its pension fund gap. This is when the DM is an arch proponent of Brexit and dropping import tariffs a la Rees-Mogg and Mindford and risking British jobs in the process. Their argument is couched in philanthropic (aiding 3rd world farmers) and overall economic terms (lower shop prices), but ignores the effect of lost jobs and increasing wealth inequality.

There's nothing wrong with a bit of protectionism where there's an imbalance of competition in terms of wages, labour conditions, state aid, specification and product safety - that's what the EU is all about. That is also why the EU is against state aid, as indeed is the WTO - it distorts the market.

Tuesday, 3 April 2018

Poor Auntie

Apropos of yesterday's post - men's profusion of eyebrow, nose and ear air beyond a certain age must obviously be of some evolutionary advantage to men, but what that could be escapes me. Cushioning? Microbial filtration as the efficacy of the immune system diminishes with age?

Poor old Auntie Beeb: She started off being perceived as pro-Remain (as that was the Establishment view) and was accordingly accused of bias by the Brexiteers; however, since the Conservatives narrowly won the election Auntie is perceived as more pro-Leave and has consequently been accused of bias by the Remain camp.

The fact is that Auntie reflects the Establishment position - and the Establishment is currently the Conservative government; he who pays the piper calls the tune. It has always been thus and privatisation would lead to even greater accusations of bias by one side or the other, depending on who was in charge of the newly privatised corporation. Yes, it would be free of the Establishment Group-think, but imagine if Murdoch got control of it.

Polls concerning bias are as reliable as a sunny day at Easter, as those being asked are naturally biased themselves and will reflect that bias in their vote.

The BBC makes infinitely better flagship programmes than independent television, which seems to have gone into a race to the bottom in terms of quality and intellectual content. They're usually some excruciating, cheap-to-make, fly-on-the-wall nonsense posing as documentaries about bin men, sewer cleaners, or a contemporary remake of Opportunity Knocks.

The BBC is hamstrung by the demand that it is balanced in its news reporting, which has the unfortunate consequence that the most ridiculous and outlandish views get equal billing (and hence weight) with commonsense and truth. That's not balance, it's pandering to a minority. It results in Nigel Farage, who has failed twice to get a parliamentary seat, is no longer the leader of Ukip and hardly ever appears in the European Parliament, getting 32 appearances on Question Time - he's joint top for number of appearances. It results in pseudoscience getting equal billing with real, peer-reviewed science. Factual reporting tinged with commonsense is fading fast.

I have heard it said that Channel 4 News is better than the BBC, so I may overcome my deep distaste for adverts and give it a whirl.

Monday, 2 April 2018

Ear & Nose Hair

My nose and ear hair trimmer gave up the ghost a couple of months ago, leaving me bereft of stray hair control. I therefore treated myself to a new Phillips hair trimmer, which combines both the orifice trimmer with the standard hair trimmer, complete with several attachments for varying lengths. My old trimmer had only 2 attachments - very short and just too long.

It's absolute heaven to be able to trim the eyebrows to just the right length at any time - they simply grow uncontrollably and, if left too long between chops, sweep across my eyes like a curtain. The orifice attachment is quite novel too - it's like the one in the image below - you just ram it up your nose or in your ear and away it goes, flailing all the hairs like a scythe.

Sunday, 1 April 2018

The Meaning of Easter

I was most disturbed when buying my grandchildren some Easter eggs that those on sale at Lidl don't mention Easter at all. Religion is slowly being eradicated from traditional celebrations - it's disgusting.

Here we are in a country with a fine pagan heritage and not one mention of the dawn goddess, Eostre, on the very symbol of her fertility cult and for whom Easter is named. I know Christians like to claim Easter for themselves, but the symbol of the egg has nothing to do with them. Chicks, eggs and newborn lambs are symbols of spring and fertility, predating Christianity by millennia.

The mere movability of Easter, being the first Sunday following the first full moon after the vernal equinox, shows the reliance on the ancient lunar calendar of the ancient pagans. Christians added the Sunday business and perverted the calendar.

The ones on sale at Lidl are called Belgian White Chocolate Eggs, which is very obviously a ploy by Christians to get their St Belgian in on the act - I can't quite remember whether he was a martyr to Type II diabetes or died after being pushed into a vat of molten chocolate.

We really need to get back to the true meaning of Easter and Easter eggs...

Saturday, 31 March 2018

Money Making Nostalgia

Overheard while writing the shopping list:

Hay: "We've run out of English mustard, but we've got plenty of Dijon."

Chairman: "I don't use English mustard - much prefer Dijon. English mustard tastes too Brexity for my liking."

Colman's is owned by Unilever, which is relocating its HQ to the Netherlands.

Had a great idea; what with the government considering starting a plastic bottle redemption fee, I'm going to start saving all our plastic bottles now - and raid the neighbours' recycling each week.

Makes me quite nostalgic - I remember collecting jars and bottles as a kid to make a few bob in additional pocket money.

I feel so nostalgic I may start to wear flares again...

Friday, 30 March 2018

The Pitts of Toryism

Yesterday I was talking about freedom and the aim of liberal democracy being the freedom of the individual. I've recently finished a biography of Charles James Fox, the famous, radical and progressive, Georgian, Whig politician who campaigned for political reform, among other burning issues, and wanted to curtail the power George III wielded over parliament.

This got me interested in the Pitts - the Elder and the Younger - who were his and his father's  opponents. Pitt the Younger was Fox's prime opponent and the founder of what was termed High Toryism, the legacy of which was Thatcherism. William Hague has written a bio of Pitt the Younger and he's admired to this day by most Tory politicians.

Pitt the Younger was a Prime Minister who presided over one of the most authoritarian and repressive regimes since Charles I. During Pitt's tenure we came very close to an absolute monarchy under George III, who wanted total control over parliament, and Pitt's policies facilitated this.

Pitt suspended habeas corpus to tackle parliamentary reformists such as Fox: the 1795 Treasonable Practices Act was a vicious attack on personal liberties, extending the definition of 'treason' to include speaking and writing, even if no action followed, attacking public meetings, clubs, and the publication of pamphlets; the 1795 Seditious Meetings Act said that any public meeting of more than 50 persons had to be authorised by a magistrate; the 1799 and 1800 Combination Acts were passed which forbade societies or amalgamations of persons for the purpose of political reform and his infamous Poor Law Bill proposed that children should be set to work at the age of five. In Pitt's defence, this was due to the fear of a revolution along the lines of the French Revolution.

In the days before political parties really got going, there was little difference between Tories and Whigs - they both included the aristocracy and landed gentry. The way a nonentity got into a position of power was to somehow secure the patronage of a rich landowner and get him to buy him a parliamentary seat in a pocket or rotten bourough. Once there, he'd purposely go into opposition and become such a pain in the arse until the ministry of the day invited him to join the government, at which time he'd start to support the very policies he'd been railing against in opposition, sometimes risking the wrath of his patron, who was usually in on the ruse. Fox didn't succumb to that temptation and stayed in opposition for over 25 years. He was a man of principle and feted as a man of the people.

Pitt the Elder started out in opposition as a pain in the arse, until he was invited to join the ministry of the day, where he rose to prominence and eventually became PM and the Earl of Chatham. His family purchased the rotten borough of Old Sarum which contained only 3 houses and 7 voters, who nonetheless had the right to vote for 2 MPs.

It's sobering to realise that the electorate of the UK comprised only 5% of the population in 1831, and most of those were bribed by rich patrons to vote for their candidate.

Unlike today, boroughs sent 2 MPs to Westminster - those getting highest and 2nd highest number of votes.

Thursday, 29 March 2018

Free Speech

A familiar hobby-horse of mine, so don't bother reading further if you know me too well.

Heard something about free speech in universities and some decrying the no-platforming of certain speakers. The example mentioned in what I heard (probably on the radio) was pro-lifers.

Free speech is about freedoms. Pro-lifers want to restrict freedoms for others, so if liberal democracy is a tool to guarantee personal freedoms, their free speech is, by definition, anti-democratic. It's no different to facilitating free speech to Nazis, homophobes or racists, who are also intent on restricting freedom of the individual. No-one is preventing pro-lifers from practising what they preach, but they shouldn't seek to impose their beliefs on others if it restricts their freedoms, and that is precisely the aim of pro-lifers.

However, is merely speaking about pro-life issues harming the freedoms of others?

There are legal limits to free speech though, so why is this? Is it intolerant to deny free speech to white (or black) supremacists purely for their beliefs? It is illegal in the UK to use threatening, abusive or insulting words or behaviour intending or likely to cause harassment, alarm or distress or cause a breach of the peace. Are these criteria arbitrary? They're certainly subjective.

Then there are libel and slander laws, which curtail free speech.

So long as truly free free speech facilitates the right of reply to the same audience at the same time, honour is satisfied. It's when the right of reply is denied that we get problems. It's internet bubbles of like-minded individuals separated by great distance where the danger lies and where disinformation and hate spread at the speed of light. Falsehood will fly, as it were, on the wings of the wind, and carry its tales to every corner of the earth; whilst truth lags behind; her steps, though sure, are slow and solem

Analyse and discuss.

Wednesday, 28 March 2018

The Philosophy of Food

We were watching Country File on Sunday evening and some chef was featured who only uses produce from Shropshire and will not countenance anything that's 'foreign', for want of another word. My first thought was; "Good on him," but then I pondered the fact that he must go to enormous effort, for which he must charge an enormous price for the food. Is this just a 'middle-class' fad?

When you think about it, 150 years ago few people had a choice and had to source their food from within a very small area comprising the distance one can travel to and from a market town by horse and cart. Since then we've improved transport to an extent where we can source produce from anywhere within the UK - and indeed the world - and have it on our plate within 24 hours, thereby vastly improving the variety of foods in our diet. The question is, at what cost to the environment? 

If everyone were to source their food from within a very small area, then producers would have very small markets and benefits of scale afforded by 'exporting' beyond one's locale would become obsolete. Not sure what effect this would have on some rural economies. Perhaps a balance is needed.

Yesterday I was listening to The Public Philosopher on Radio 4, which focused on the concept of citizenship in relation to benefits accruing from citizenship (charity starts at home is an argument usually made by those who never give to charity in the first place).

Someone made the obvious statement that the state exists primarily to protect its citizens, but no-one seemed to twig that, for the vast majority of the time we've lived in civilisations and states, the protection is mainly from another state - it's the state itself that is the problem and the attendant concept that people who live in a particular area are somehow superior to another.

When all's said and done, one's citizenship is a matter of pure chance. A state - or, rather, the leader of a state - is a threat to people who are not members of that state, which is why states have fought wars with other states since time immemorial. 

There again, the state is a useful mechanism for bringing people together in order to achieve more than individuals can achieve on their own. It can also protect the citizen from other, possibly rapacious, citizens through regulation of working practices, contracts and other issues that grease the wheels of industry, although that's only a relatively recent invention. The state is a two edged sword.

Tuesday, 27 March 2018


Thought of an idea for improving the NHS and the economy:

  1. Link the Health Secretary's salary to NHS performance, and
  2. Link all the cabinet's salaries to the country's economic performance.
I believe we'd see immediate funding for the NHS as well as a 2nd referendum on Brexit, with all cabinet ministers exhorting us to remain in the EU.

One thing is certain; we'd have a lot less unproven ideology and a lot more evidence-based government.

Farage, of course, would still be calling the for an ideological destruction of the UK, but you'd expect that from a bloke who only attended one of 40 odd EU fishing meetings and yet moans about the lot of our fishermen who, incidentally, seem to be their own worst enemy.

An academic study has come to the conclusion that grammar schools perform better than non-selective schools precisely because they're selective. Oooh - now that's a surprise. I'd have thought it was obvious in the name, selective school. So, grammars are a bit like university - selective; a bit like jobs - selective; in fact, like most areas of life where ability gives you an advantage - except, perhaps, politics.

Pupils' ability, according to the study, is a predictor of success. Of course, the corollary of that is that pupils' inability is a predictor of failure. Taking a maritime metaphor, does teaching take into account the slowest ship in the convoy? The answer is no; the curriculum is followed according to a timetable, because there are only so many days in a school year.

Given the study concludes that grammar schools perform no better than non-selective state schools, once their pupils' higher ability and wealth is taken into account, my question is how does one negate the effect of higher ability in order to reach that conclusion? It doesn't make logical sense when you're testing for ability in the first place - you can't arbitrarily knock a grade off someone with higher ability and reach any meaningful conclusion; nor can you arbitrarily add a grade to a pupil lacking in ability. You simply can't measure ability by fudging what you're measuring in the first place, which is ability. It's like saying once you take into account the higher value of gold against silver, they're both worth the same.

The DfE says that research has shown that pupils from disadvantaged backgrounds make better progress across core subjects in selective schools, and attain better results. So how does that square with the study?

Monday, 26 March 2018

New Gloves

Hayley bought me some new gloves for my birthday.

All I need now is for her to string them together with elastic so they can be threaded through the arms of my coat.

Sunday, 25 March 2018

Hamster Ice Cream

Good name for an ice cream shop in Fowey:

Found this plaque in memory of a hamster in Looe. That's one very long-lived hamster.

Hay took exception to me filling our water bottles with wine before our long walk yesterday. Can't think why.

Well, back home today. Fowey is changing fast - it has reached peak plantation shutters and is maxed out on Farrow and Ball Elephant's Breath Grey. Half the shops on Fore St are now chains too and the independent traders are slowly being forced out. It's well on the way to becoming another Salcombe, which is unfortunate. Looe, on the other hand, is still almost untouched by the outside world and retains a lot of independence from the high street chains. It's unfortunate when the chains move in as every high street starts to look exactly the same and the charm that initially attracted people fades.

Can't recommend the Old Ferry Inn at Bodinnick highly enough; excellent, fine-dining food at reasonable prices, peace and quiet and on the doorstep of the River Fowey and its pleasant walks.

Saturday, 24 March 2018

Things to Ponder

Overheard in The Old Ferry Inn, Fowey, where we're staying for a couple of nights:

Chairman: "You don't like sauternes, do you?"

Hay: "No, but I do like a muscat."

Chairman: "That's a small, furry animal, ain't it?"

I'm getting the distinct impression that Trump is having the scrape the nutter barrel in order to find people prepared to work in his administration. All the sane ones have been purged and his choice is now extremely limited. He's drained the swamp and built a lunatic asylum on it. Why does he appoint people who are eminently unsuited and then fire them a couple of months down the line. It really calls his judgement into question.

Confused the hell out of someone at a motorway service station coffee outlet yesterday when I asked for a flat black. We ordered a latte for me and a black coffee with hot milk for Hay in the restaurant last night and, once Hay had added the milk to hers, I couldn't see any difference.

Pyjamas - what's the point? They're restrictive in bed, for a start. I can understand their purpose in pre-central heating and pre-duvet days, but not since.

Why does the place in which a dog has a crap have to smell right, and what's the difference between the odour of a wrong place and a right place? There must be some essential difference.

When tarmac is subject to potholes and cobbles aren't, because they move rather than crack, why don't we have more cobbled roads like they do on the continent? The short term laying cost of tarmac is probably a lot cheaper, but long term maintenance of just has to be more expensive, by a long chalk. Additionally, with the advent of silent electric cars, cobbles at least provide an audible warning. Anyone for cobbled motorways?

Spotted this on the Bodinnick to Fowey ferry yesterday:

I wondered whether it was Cornish tarmac...

Did Leatherman, the company that make those folding pocket tools, ever regret using that name?

Friday, 23 March 2018

Over The Top

Economists for Brexit suggest unilaterally eliminating import tariffs will reduce prices in the UK - for items such as blue passports - yet Brexiteers are up in arms about this and demand they're made in the UK. You can't have unrestricted tariff elimination and protectionism to ensure UK employment at the same time. The irony!

Classical economics teaches us that free exchange works to produce the best results for all, whether the exchange takes place within one nation or across national boundaries. But this concept works only when the exchange is an equal one that occurs within a common framework of laws, customs, rules, and regulations. A bit like the EU...

Something struck me yesterday - what is Stephen Hawking known for? Name any other great scientist and the man in the street can reel off their greatest accomplishment; Einstein = relativity and E=mc2; Darwin = evolution; Copernicus = heliocentrism; Newton = calculus and Newtonian mechanics; Niels Bohr = the Bohr model of the atom; Heisenberg = the uncertainty principle, etc.

However, when it comes to Stephen Hawking the only thing most people can come up with is A Brief History of Time, which was no more than a layman's guide to the evolution of the universe. Yes, a few may mention Hawking radiation and quantum thermodynamics, where he made impressive gains, but in general he's lauded as one of our greatest scientific minds on the back of being a scientist in a wheelchair who wrote a bestseller, and little more. A cult developed around him because of his disability and his determination to overcome it, which was no mean feat, but even among physicists he's not ranked that highly, being lucky to make it into the top 100, let alone top 10 of all time. Yet we eulogise him and his ashes have been placed in the hallowed precincts of Westminster Abbey. Hawking himself, in a 1993 interview, denounced as media hype around the suggestion that he was one of the greatest scientists of all time.

Is this a sign of our times?

It's the same with commemorations - plaques being set up to things that wouldn't have warranted a plaque say 50 years ago. Sadiq Khan wants a memorial for those who died in the 2017 terrorist incidents and said; "Londoners will never forget the tragedy." One thing I can guarantee is that they will - it's human nature and history is the evidence that supports this.

Are we as a society going over the top in eulogising the mediocre and the unexceptional (and no, I'm not calling Hawking mediocre) simply because we've had an unprecedented period of peace and no great national tragedies in which we've all shared for such a long time? Is it part of modern celebrity culture?

Thursday, 22 March 2018

Burning Internet

Overheard in the living room as Hay related her disastrous journey to London this week:

Hay: "When I stood...."

Chairman: "On the burning deck, your legs were all aquiver, you gave a cough, your leg fell off and floated down the river?"

Hay: "No."

For the third time in a row she had a bit of a problem travelling to and from London by train - this time it was being sat for 2 hours outside Didcot on the return leg.

Blue Brexit passports to be made by a Franco-Dutch firm - you couldn't make it up, could you?

Boris Johnson has called Russia a brutal and corrupt regime. Obviously he's making a play for selling arms to Putin, just like we sell them to other brutal and corrupt regimes. Must be part of his Brexit export drive.

The Chairman's 63rd birthday today. I don't feel any different to my 21st birthday. The mirror tells a different story though.

The Vodafone internet seems to have settled at a reasonable speed, but I do need another router, rather than the locked-down and very basic model than Vodafone provide.

I understand from various forums that this is a common complaint.

Wednesday, 21 March 2018

Communist Vodafone Connect

I was doing my usual ennui thing yesterday of baiting Uber-Brexiteers with facts (they don't like 'em) and was amazed to see a Ukip supporter accusing Corbyn of loving Russia because it's a communist country. I don't know where these Brexteers have been since the cold war, but near a news outlet hasn't been one of the locations. Russia couldn't be more fascist if it tried, for God's sake. Perfect country for Farage followers though, if only they realised how close the country's political system is to their political ideal.

So, the Vodafone Connect router is a heap of crap. Very basic with no facilities for doing a bit of work on your LAN, such as blocking certain IP addresses between set times. However, I did manage to get the username and password for my specific account (I was correct yesterday in assuming the router has the account details hard coded into it before shipping, which was why the device that was mailed to be for the cancelled order didn't work). That means I can use a 3rd party router with more facilities which facilitate much more in the way of finger-poking. Can't, however, use the old BT router - I tried this morning.

I know speeds can vary for a while when you switch ISP, but this is ridiculous:

Obviously, making the router a simple, unhackable device saves on tech support issues and allows a lower level of skill at the Vodafone help desk.

I'll give it a few days, but if the speed doesn't improve, I'll revert to BT.

Tuesday, 20 March 2018

Plenty of Internet Dough

Had no internet all day yesterday and so used my phone's 50gb data allowance. What else could I have expected? I've never, ever had a smooth transition from one ISP to another. Given I received two routers from Vodafone (one being from the initial, cancelled order), I had a thought this morning that perhaps the routers are somehow automatically registered on the network with a hardware dongle that's linked to a particular order number, and so switched to the last delivered one. Bingo!

No faster service though, despite the headline speed advertised being higher. That's probably a function of the line to the house and can't be changed without the tail circuit being fibre too. The main advantage though is no line rental. One challenge is to find out how to block No.2 Son's access after certain times in the evening - there doesn't seem to be a blocking facility on the DSL.

Have read that Vodafone degrades once there are more than 5 to 8 simultaneous connections, which will be an issue here with some 14 odd connections, at least. Will get No.1 Son to put the system through its paces today and make a decision based on that.

When we went to the Oxfam shop in Stroud over the weekend I noticed some bread mix for sale.

You simply add beer to it and bung it on the oven for a lovely beer bread. However, once you clock the price you realise it's designed for the profligate.

Add something like £1.50 (minimum) for a beer to the £4.99 price, you end up with what must be the most expensive bread on the planet.

This, however, is a neat idea for keeping the garage tidy: