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Petrol and politics

It seems like the local supermarkets are trying to make a point regarding the spiralling costs of fuel, which are almost as high as when everybody took to the streets a couple of years ago.
A breakdown of the cost of fuel
A breakdown of the cost of fuel.

Listed in decreasing order of amount, the poster breaks down what the component costs are if your diesel costs €1,54 a litre (average price on such and such a day).
The largest amount, at €0.86/l is state taxation. The next largest at €0,52/l is the price of the fuel. Making a tiny €0,14/l is the cost of distributing the fuel. And a piddly 1.3% of the cost per litre is the "marge brut", that is to say the difference in price (not including taxes) between what the supermarket pays for the fuel, and what it sells it at.
So if I put fifteen euros of diesel in my little car, I'm paying the supermarket twenty centimes for the privilege. Does that even cover the costs of running and maintenance for the pumps?
I'm paying for about five euros of actual diesel, and about eight euros forty in taxes - a little over half of the total price.

It is worth adding, here, that France does not have a road tax. The charges for the upkeep of the road network is folded into the cost of fuel, which is a much fairer system as those who don't travel much use less fuel and hence pay less.
On the other hand, I'm paying road maintenance tax in the fuel for my mower... ☺


Political stupidity

Earlier in the week, a Tory MP called Nick Fletcher managed to transcend the depths of idiocy, which is surely no easy feat given that Johnson and Rees-Mogg are both members of said party.
During a debate on International Men's Day, he said:
In recent years, we have seen Doctor Who, the Ghostbusters, Luke Skywalker and The Equalizer all replaced by women and men are left with the Krays and Tommy Shelby. Is it any wonder that so many young men are committing crimes?

Just read that again, let the breathtaking stupid wash over you.

Of course, Nick spent the rest of the week frantically backpedalling and talking about missing nuanced points, given that the rest of the world (the non-Tory MPs that is) have ridiculed him endlessly for trying to suggest that the rise in male crime is because The Doctor has tits that were bestowed upon her naturally and not the result of too many All Day Breakfasts.

If his looking for suitable male role models needs to stretch back to The Krays (what's wrong with Denzel Washington?) then I guess we could leap back a little further in time and incoherently scream WITCHES! when in sight of more than one woman at a time.
There. Boys good, girls bad, sorted.

To be honest, I would imagine the reason why so many young men are involved in crime comes down to two things. The first is a piss-poor social structure where it's easier and more rewarding to be a criminal than to try to be a decent honest hardworking person. Unless you're a successful working person in the UK, the deck is stacked against you. And if you're unemployed, there is no deck at all. Perhaps some people reach a point where they have literally nothing more they can lose?

And the second reason? In recent years, more and more women are stopping being afraid and instead calling out men on their bullshit. People are talking about an epidemic of violence against women. There is no such thing. It was always thus. The only difference is, now, women are no longer staying silent. So to try to pin the blame for men's crimes (which I'd imagine a worryingly large part is violence towards women) on a fictional character in a TV show being a woman is... honestly, part of the typical chauvanistic bollocks that is the problem.

As to the issues of a man being replaced by a woman, I have a feeling that if Thatcher was alive, she would silence this cretin with a swift blunt force trauma to his head with the business end of her handbag.


Yet more political stupidity

President Macron is a man who stands on ceremony. He chastised a supporter for calling out "Manu!" (a pet form of Emmanuel) during a political tour. Whether you agree with him or think he's a pompous arse, that is his mentality. Respect the position, cross all the 't's, dot all the 'i's.
So I'm sure you can guess how well received was Johnson's dipomacy-via-Twitter. Especially given that the world has only just got rid of the last guy who issued diktats by tweet.
Also badly received was Johnson's letter apparently being handed to the press before the recipient, no doubt Johnson pandering to his supporter base in the right wing press (there's a reason why The Telegraph is often nicknamed The Torygraph).

As a result of this, pretty much the only amusing side note in a story of gross mistreatment of migrants and the deaths at sea, was Priti Patel being uninvited from her own meeting.

You see, a few years ago Britain could call a meeting and talk about the question of migrants, immigration, and Europe's borders as well as Britain's.
But in these post-Brexit days, the question of Europe's borders is nothing to do with the Britain. In these post-Brexit days, the flawed agreement for returning migrants to their country of entry no longer applies. And, yes, if European leaders are going to have a meeting to look at how to tackle the problem of The Channel becoming a graveyard, if Britain isn't seen to be making a serious contribution, they can be uninvited. Remember, Britain walked away from Europe as a political entity, so don't expect anybody to want them at meetings unless they have something realistic to bring to the table.

Realistic is not having British Border Force patrolling France's beaches and enforcing British law on French sand. Remember all that guff about sovereignty that was so important during the Brexit process? Well, it turns out that France has its own sovereignty, and astonishingly can manage to handle that and being a part of the EU at the same time.

Realistic is not expecting everybody else to handle Britain's immigration. You know, a couple of years ago there was a story of two Canadian joggers who were rounded up and subjected to interrogation by Homeland Security. It turns out that they had strayed into The United States in an unmarked place in the back of beyond. They weren't even aware they were no longer in Canada until they were accosted by guys in a big black van.
If the Americans can manage to patrol nearly four thousand miles of border with Canada, plus another one and a half thousand miles if one includes Alaska, with huge swathes of that land being wilderness, then why does Britain seem to have such difficulty keeping a watch on the borders of an island? Apart from The Chunnel, there are literally no points of entry where people can just sneak across a border. They must come on some form of boat, or as is usually the case, an overfilled raft. Harder to hide.

Once upon a time, everybody had to tolerate bolshy Britain. But these days patience is wearing thin.


A nice cup of tea

I popped outside to see what it was like with regards photos. I took some pictures of work I have been doing, but it looked about ready to snow (felt it, too) so I considered redoing the photos.
Maybe, in about half an hour, the sun will be in a good position... if it hasn't come over cloudy. Which is a pretty big 'if'.

On the way in, I said to myself, that what I really needed was a nice cup of tea. Having, you know, just finished the previous nice cup of tea.
It might sound crazy that I buy sacks of 1,100 tea bags, and have two sacks "in stock", but this time of year, the dismal cold of winter, is when much tea is consumed.

All nice cups of tea.

Because nobody ever says "I'm just going to pop into the kitchen to make a bloody awful cup of tea". I used to think that such a thing didn't exist...until I came to France and met Lipton Yellow Label, and a country full of people that seem to believe that black tea steeps at 60°C.

But, for me, I have proper British Tetley. So it's pretty much guaranteed to be a nice cup of tea whatever the weather.
Anything else...would just be unacceptable.


More bramble whacking

I mentioned earlier in the month that I was working on sorting out the boundary of the driveway. I don't really know why I picked there, I just did.

I am going to leave a 'hedge' of brambles to isolate between my land and the adjoining field, so I'm not going to clear everything. I think it might be a nice place to plant bulbs or something, but am aware that it's along the border of a not-pond, so there will be plenty of animals likely to consider such things 'food'.
I'm also aware (from the potato patch) that the brambles won't give up easily. The bits of root that remain will keep trying to grow. So I think I'll need to take the rotovator out and turn the ground a number of times to break up all that. I don't need to worry about destroying grass. There's nothing of value or interest there, it's been decades under a blanket of bramble. I'm surprised the trees managed to get hold.
I'll also pull up all of the fencing. It serves no purpose, and it's already a rotted mess.

Here are some photos.

The clearing
The newly cleared part, looking north.
Previously, this was just a big tangle of bramble.

The clearing
The newly cleared part, looking south.
This might look the same as it did a week ago. I haveal passed the little mower to help chew up the bramble bits all over the place. I've expanded beyond the cherry tree and across the stream, as you can see here.

The clearing
The newly cleared part, the stream.

The clearing
The newly cleared part, looking northeast.

I've not finished, but this is pretty much what I set out to do. It makes a difference.


I also cleared around the "henge". With some photographic fiddling, it can be made to look like an enormous dolmen.

The dolmen
Admiring the dolmen.

The dolmen
Enjoying the view.


My Amazon parcel

My parcel arrived on Thursday, which does show that their excuse about the address being incomplete was a pile of crap, as all I did was point out that my address was correct.
The delivery person, having been given instructions to leave the parcel in the cow barn (both in the "special instructions" part of the website, and a message printed and affixed to the wall) left it on the front doorstep. It's a good thing the rain wasn't from the south!

At least, the stuff arrived.

My parcel
My parcel and its contents.


A trip into Big Town

I can't go into Big Town next weekend, as I'll be up for starting work at 5am. It's my final Saturday, which is sort of bittersweet. Good, in a "thank god that's over" way, but bad, in a "what, it's already been fourteen weeks!?" way.

Beyond that, with... Omicron, Omega, Ohshit... whatever the current nastier version of Covid coming along now is, who knows for how much longer everybody will carry on pretending that everything is "normal".

So, I went into town yesterday. I was going to go to the big U to see if I could get some things there that aren't available in my local U and then swing by Lidl, but... "NO ENTRY". It's a one-way. I don't know if this is forever, or just while they do some works on the road. Suffice to say, I was one of many going down then turning around at the bridge. The other ways around are either through the middle of town, or a circuituous route out of Châteaubriant and up from nearly the next town along. The town route was only double the distance, but the traffic was utter chaos. Coming up to Christmas, and being the weekend of sodding Black Friday, everybody was out. And the alternative route? About seventeen kilometres instead of two. Forget that.

Instead, I walked (walked, not drove) from the supermarket to Jardiland to look at the Christmas decorations display. It was... smaller than normal. Perhaps reflecting the general mood of everybody?

Christmas decorations - nativity
Christmas decorations - nativity pieces.

There was a little lit-up scene with a fointain. Kind of cute, but the pump was noisy.

Christmas decorations - fountain
The town fountain.

And another scene of kids having their photo taken with Santa, and an animated train going around. I know these things are mass produced in China, but you'd have thought for the price, they'd have attempted a halfway reasonable paint job.

Christmas decorations - photo with Santa
Children posing for a photo with an old man...

You can't really see the paint problems, so let's zoom on the children's faces.

Christmas decorations - bad painting
An unimpressive paint job.


I stopped at the pet shop to get some special food for kitties for Christmas. It's a big tin of that stuff with wild boar and reindeer. I hung around in the pet food store for a while, as storm whatsit was passing. There wasn't a lot of wind here as it was the outer fringe, but a fair bit of rain. When it started to ease off, I bought the stuff and headed to the supermarket.

The supermarket was "the usual shop" for things I can't get in my local. But, I found something...

Cadbury chocolates.

It's rather pricey compared to the likes of Mars (the Nuts are slightly cheaper too if you work out the price of four), but, hey, it's been two decades since I've last had either a Double Decker or a Picnic. So...

The Cadbury I bought.

How is this possible? Perhaps because Cadbury has been bought by Mondelez International. Given it's a multinational pulling in around twenty six billion a year, it probably makes sense to have a try at expanding the Cadbury range in other countries. Perhaps with something that passes as "chocolate" over here in the continent? ☺

I got a free burger meal at BK using my accrued points. Oddly, or perhaps annoyingly, there is no possibility of customising an offered burger. I went to the front desk and asked if they could omit the tomato as I can't eat them (food allergies work better than "eww, they're horrible"). A brief moment of panic later, the guy said "okay, it'll be done", and it was. Perhaps he noticed the "no tomato" on the chili cheese burger I did pay for.

I didn't get chips, I got onion rings, and they didn't make it beyond the border of Châteaubriant. I stopped on the remnants of an old road to enjoy the burgers and empty the Cherry Coke (no ice!). I was happily and absentmindedly eating bits of jalapeño whilst watching the rain fall, enjoying a ridiculously over the top power metal song (with a bpm that must have been pushing 300) about the power of a dragon's heart.
I've looked it up - it is "Power of the Dragonflame" by Rhapsody. Ah yes. Rhapsody, those masters of over-the-top metal involving epic tales with dragons.


At home, as the rain had eased off, I did some more on the bramble area, as shown above.



Just a couple of days to go until tea, chocolate, and Playmobil every day until...

Actually, my celebration happens on Tuesday 21st this year. ◗



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J.G.Harston, 29th November 2021, 04:32
The UK doesn't have a road tax either, and hasn't since 1935 when road maintainance was folded into general taxation. 
I used to deal with licensing petrol stations, and it was clear even 20 years ago that there's no money in selling petrol, the money is made from the grocery sales attached to the petrol station.
J.G.Harston, 29th November 2021, 04:36
Address me by my proper title, you little bollocks! 
I find it amazing that the UK government is insisting that France adopts the policies of the old Communist Bloc and make it illegal for people to leave their country. Truely the world has gone mad.
J.G.Harston, 29th November 2021, 04:42
When I went to Japan I took a packet of 160 Tetley's. :) 
I feel for you with your brambles. I'm currently trying to "help" my Mum decide to/get around to/maybe move house, and have been spending most weekends down her packing up the house and seperating piles of 40-year-old rubbish from actual stuff. Last week I found the attic floor! 
Looking out of the window earlier it's going to be hit and miss whether I actually get back home tomorrow. I'll probably get to Leeds and find the connecting bus has been cancelled.
J.G.Harston, 29th November 2021, 04:46
(Watching late night NHK...) 
Good God, Puffy AmiYumi have been performing for 25 years, there's no way Ami Onuki is almost 50 years old! (*^‿^*)

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