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A big arse pull

This morning I received a bill from the tree guy... for €288... for smashing up all of the branches.

This rankles. That's not a word I use often, but it is entirely justified in this case. Why, when I mentioned the need to dispose of all of the branches and he said he could do it, was this not included on the original quote?
Don't get me wrong here, it needed done and I don't begrudge paying him for his services, but to go about it this way... it just seems a little dishonest, really.

The price for the work is still acceptable for what was done (even though it was closer to €600 than €300). Mom had a few quotes a while back for other work and there wasn't one under four digits. About a year ago, a... shall we say "person who doesn't work legally or pay tax" quoted me a shocking figure to take down the tree out front.

I may get back in touch with him at some point to see how much he'd want for dealing with the big pine out front, but this time if the quote is incomplete I'll simply reject it, and if I'm happy with it then only the work listed is to be performed. We had a verbal agreement regarding the cut branches. He simply neglected to mention (even when I asked how much it would cost) that it would nearly double the price. So next time, no verbal anything. That goes, incidentally, if I get somebody else to do it. Yes, I'll get an alternative quote. Because trust, it can be freely offered but if it is squandered, there's no coming back from that. Did he really think I'd run away screaming if he did a proper quotation with everything listed? Like I said, it needed done and his prices aren't that bad (certainly taking down the tree was cheap - maybe it's a loss leader and his real business is in clearing up the mess?). But, you know, mess me around like this and I'll be wary and less trusting the next time.


Speaking of trust

Speaking of trust, his payment method is a site called Zervant. I think this is an all-in-one business package for small businesses. So I click the Pay link to get it sorted out and...
...they don't take credit cards. Instead, it's something rather horrific where you pick your bank and then log in to connect your bank to Zervant for paying the bill.

The moment I saw that, I hit the cancel button. It asked me why I chose to do that, and I selected the "This does not inspire confidence" option. It popped up a little box for me to write an explanation. Let's just say that I let them know exactly what I thought of the idea of being expected to enter my bank login details someplace that was not my bank. I might have mentioned that they were nuts to even ask such a thing, and really the only use for their payment method is in demonstrating how many people fail to understand basic banking security, you know the bit about "don't give out your login details". I also said it was shameful in this day and age that they aren't able to accept a card payment like any normal business. No, I wasn't particularly polite. And it wasn't because I was rankled by the tree guy's arse pull, this was an even bigger annoyance. Seeing that, I was heading right into "miffed" territory.
Oh, and the site says that the bill can be paid by a direct transfer from your bank account after connecting them to your account. Like, yeah, that's so trustworthy. At least with a card, these days you get something that requires the payment to be authorised (special code on the app, SMS code, etc). By letting god knows who wander around your account... can they take what they like when they like? I didn't even know the banks did such a thing. What sort of information would they have access to? My balance? What I spend my hard-earned on? F#ck all of that. Such a question never should have been asked.

Luckily the bill included the company's banking information, so I set him up as a beneficiary (checking the IBAN three times) and then transferred the money directly that way. And replied, asking for a confirmation of payment (in addition to the transfer confirmation that I printed).


Speaking of arse pulls

Speaking of arse pulls, it has been a few days, so let's talk a little more about that "ending" on last Saturday's Doctor Who. Yes, spoilers.

Now the actual reason why Lindy was dismissive of the Doctor until Clara Ruby popped up, that weird comment about them (Doctor/Ruby) being in the same room, and why they all refused the Doctor's offer to save them was because...

...Yo, nigger, no. We'd all rather die a certain death than be saved by one of your kind.

The egregious use of the N-word there (no, not a quote thank god) was because they're all total racists. Yup, that's it folks. The Doctor has black skin and that's all they would see.

In the behind the scenes programme, Russell Davies (the current showrunner) was like well, all of the rest of the cast was white and if you didn't realise this then maybe you ought to go think about why.

No, I didn't realise this. Firstly, it is actually only fairly recently that Dr Who (or British television in general) has had much in the way of diversity in the casting. The current incarnation is the fifteenth Doctor (maybe, it's a timey-whimey muddle), and they have all been white up until now.

Secondly, I actually thought that their behaviour was because as pampered rich kids with zero clue on how to do much of anything by themselves (if she can't walk without instructions, what the hell happens when she needs the toilet?) were simply so believing of their superiority that they just felt that the Doctor and his weird friend were, you know, riff-raff. The idea that we humans would still be playing out these race tropes far in the future as colonists on an alien world is... lazy writing. It's also worth noting that there is an actual white demographic decline. Us white people aren't popping out loads of babies so maybe in one or two hundred years we'll be a minority and it'll be, I dunno, hispanics who are the global majority. I think that's what's supposed to happen in America in 2045...only it won't because that's just some Great Replacement Theory bollocks. We white people aren't being replaced, we are just living lives where work is seen as more important than family, where making lots of money is the be-all-and-end-all. And, of course, we often lead affluent enough lives that we can make choices like "this world is sick, I wouldn't want to bring up a child with the way things are going". The extended family has mostly faded from importance, all too many close families are struggling, and the work/life balance for many is so far out of whack it's not funny. Not to mention a level of pay that barely supports such a thing as a family (like both parents have to work to afford the childcare...). So the truth of the matter is that we're reproducing less. At any rate, dragging race into it... okay, the guy has black skin so I'm certain that will feature at some point, but like this? It's lazy and it's cynical.

And finally, here's the kicker. I do not see the Doctor as black. He's a two-hearted alien that has this little trick where periodically he dies and comes back as somebody else. Which, sure, could have a cervix or could have a load more melatonin in the skin. But you know what? He (or she) is still an alien Time Lord. This current (black) incarnation is exactly that, an incarnation. When he changes, and he will, maybe it'll be a hyperactive Asian woman that manages to babble at around three hundred words per minute without stopping. Maybe - here's a laugh - he'll come back as a talking cat. But there's one thing I can guarantee - he/she/it will have an accent recognisable as being from The British Isles.


What did the Tories ever do for us?

As it turns out that the head Tory Rish! lied (Oh, no, a lying Tory? Say it isn't so!) about this two thousand extra tax that people would have to pay if Labour get in...
...they then double down with the idea that it's either pay loads more tax (because, of course, the Tories never raised VAT, did they?) or suffer a thirty five billion quid hole in the country's finances. The question Starmer should have asked, rather than acting like a pig that's just realised that it is on a spit-roast, is where that massive deficit came from.

Hmmm... Who blew a massive hole in the country's finances, screwed up loans and mortages for many, and got beaten by a lettuce? Oh, yes, that lovely Labour Prime Minister Liz Truss. <record scratch> Labour? Hang on, Truss wasn't Labour was she? She was just another clueless Tory arse who ignored the official advice because She Knew Best. Rather like Johnson. Rather like Sunak. And I'm sure if we picked somebody, anybody, else as PM they'd act in just the same way.

So let's cast our eyes back. Back to a time when immigration was managable (and we were in the EU), back to a time when public services (mostly) worked, back to a time where high streets were more than charity shops and betting agents, back to a time when there were more McDonald's than food banks...

What have the Tories done for us?

  • After a long hard stint of "austerity", taxes haven't been higher since the postwar slump... except Corporate Taxes which haven't been lower in my lifetime.
  • And maybe that austerity is why the State Pension is the most miserable in Europe. Don't listen to all the waffle about Triple Lock and Top Ups, the State Pension is just abysmal.
  • Given the massive hike in users of food banks, and people are actually having to decide whether to heat or eat, one could say that for a lot of people austerity never really ended.
  • Energy bills are... a joke. And if an energy company fails then it's everybody else that has to make up the difference.
  • Shall we talk about the offensive Council Tax rates? Especially when your country council might be pissing away millions on a custom-but-failed IT project. But, hey, who cares, it's not as if it's their money that is being squandered on this crap rather than, you know, fixing roads / effective policing / youth services / libraries / mental health services / etc etc etc.
  • Interest rates haven't been this bad since the banking crash of 2008. Which, no, wasn't Labour's fault.
  • Shall we talk about what they have done to the NHS? How about NHS dentistry? Are there many NHS dentists left?
  • Immigration (legal or not) is the highest it has ever been, clearly it would have been better to let the EU handle Britain's borders because the government is far too inept. They'd rather spaff away hundreds of millions on sending nobody to the middle of Africa.
  • How are Zero Hours Contracts still legal? Or maybe I should be asking Why are Zero Hours Contracts legal?
    (the cynical would say "because it allows them to blatantly lie about unemployment levels"; but it's a certain class of people stuck on this sort of thing that it seems the current government utterly despises)
  • Political stability? Shall we name the Prime Ministers in this stint of Tory governance? How about the Home Secretaries? In fact I don't think there is any Tory MP in a cabinet post that is competent in their post or even really knows what they are doing. That's not to diss them specifically, it's simply that there have been so many reshuffles it's a wonder anybody still cares. Oh, wait, that might explain a few things.
  • From turds in the rivers to polluted drinking water, they've really dropped the ball on what might be considered an essential public utility. Oh, wait, the water boards aren't public. They were privatised by <drum roll> the Tories back in 1989.
  • Along with just about anything else worth selling. Whatever happen to British Rail? Or how about the GPO? Electricity generation/grid? Gas? Or...
  • Those things that they couldn't sell off, they didn't bother to allocate funding for maintenance. That's why schools and hospitals are starting to collapse.
  • Loads of courthouses were sold off. Now the backlog is at a record level. Justice? We've heard of it...
  • Count the number of Tory MPs arrested for sexual offences; then the number kicked out because they were crooks; and those that were not are probably corrupt. Just ask Sunak how much he made during the 2008 banking crash (and the effect that he had on the banking system).
  • The same banking system where they decided to permit bankers to have uncapped bonuses.
  • Grenfell. What, may I ask, were the lessons learned?
  • Windrush. Ditto.
  • In fact, putting nutters like Patel and Braverman into high office positions allowing them to enact a Hostile Environment policy that now hates everybody equally (unless they're loaded, then they are welcome).
  • Speaking of billions, Sunak wrote off a few billion in unpaid debts. A few more were thrown in the direction of Tory donors/friends for PPE contracts during Covid.
  • Ah, yes, Covid. When pretty much everybody got together to see this through and isolated. Unless they were a mate of the PM, who didn't seem to understand the concept.
  • And while real people got fined serious cash for breaking confinement, the MPs got a fifty quid wrist slap.
  • As Covid started to take hold for the first time, the Tories didn't seem to mind throwing pensioners under the bus. These same pensioners that may well have still voted Tory until Farage popped up again (because they are ideologically opposed to supporting Labour, even when it's pretty damn clear that everything has turned to shit in the past fifteen-ish years and it's pretty obvious who to blame... oh, right, yes, "foreigners", those ones sneaking in and taking up all the hospital beds, right?).
  • Speaking of which, Non-Dom billionaires and foreign moguls tend to be ideologically conservative, which is why the government isn't at all bothered about the fact that - essentially - huge chunks of the British media is owned and controlled by foreigners, who seem to like stoking up divisions. You'll see this a lot in the coming weeks. The odious Farage who ended up as one of the most powerful politicians despite never actually being elected will be talked about like some sort of Messiah, while Angela Rayner will forever have to answer questions about her council house, and this will be brought up a lot.
  • God help you if you are disabled. You probably won't qualify for a benefit unless you can just through a hoop, and you can't do that if you're disabled.
  • God help you more if you're a carer. Your thanks for enduring the emotional and physical hardship of looking after a loved one is maybe, years later, somebody will notice you're a couple of pounds over some arbitrary limit, at which point you'll be told to pay back everything right away. Not the difference, everything. Immediately.
  • School inspections, dumbed down to the point of being a rather subjective single word. Teaching children, in this climate (where one cannot quite be sure what to call a boy/girl/maybe) is a complicated subject involving a joint effort of numerous people (quite a few of whom appear to be spending their own money to help their pupils, neglected and forgotten by the government thanks to barely functional social services) so trying to summarise all of that in a single word is offensive to the teachers, offensive to the parents, and offensive to the students.
  • Now back to the billions wasted. Two letters and a number: HS2.
  • How about the promised hospitals? Or the affordable housing? Or even fixing the holes in the roads?
  • Endless cutbacks have forced councils into bankruptcy.
  • And might be a factor in the fact that of a population of around 67 million, there are four million children in poverty (and, of course, their families too).
  • Oh so many failed pledges - pretty much anything to do with Brexit / getting anybody to Rwanda / banning no-fault evictions / all that levelling-up guff / pulling back on evironmental pledges because Tory voters like their cars (and probably see themselves as Jeremy Clarkson).
  • Voter ID to disenfranchise voters, but hey, let's not rock the boat too much and do something useful like ditching the first-past-the-post election.

  • But don't think of any of that, think about the feud between William and Harry.
  • Something about Meghan.
  • Laugh at Brigitte Macron's failed attempt to hold the hand of the Queen Horse-faced bitch inhabiting Diana's seat.
  • Something else about Meghan.
  • War! Heroes!

No, I don't believe that a Labour government will magically fix things. But we need to be rid of the Tories. And thanks to Farage directly attempting to skewer them, we might even see the end of the Tories as a functional party.
But, alas, be careful what you wish for. If the odious Tories are not the Opposition, who will be? Reform? Do you really think that lot would have a better idea of how to run a country? Farage is in it for himself, and he has already stated an intention to be a nuisance in Parliament. But, then, the British public were dumb enough to elect UKIP members (including Farage) as MEPs where they certainly failed to serve the country and instead mostly ridiculed, obstructed, and insulted the institution that was paying them...
...which is reason number one of why any potential discussion on "rejoining the EU" is unlikely to go anywhere on the European side. The UK wasn't wanted in EFTA, and it won't be wanted back in the EU. They have other right wing nutters to deal with, but ones who - for the moment - aren't looking for the door.


Use your vote wisely.



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A tree-dwelling mammal, 7th June 2024, 11:37
I've said this before but I'll repeat it to save scrolling back through archived comments... 
I'm a traditional Tory voter. 
I will NOT be voting for them this time. 
Although I don't think I could bring myself to vote Labour (I still remember the damage Tony B Liar did to this country), Lib Dem is an option. 
Actually Lib Dem is probably the only option to unseat the Tories around here. I'm in the Cotswold ward. The heart of fox-hunting country. One of the safest Tory seats in England. Labour have no chance. But the Lib Dems? Maybe, just maybe, they'd be the party to send Geoffrey Clifton-Brown down to the job centre, P45 in hand. 
HS2? Don't get me started. The same government that cancelled electrifying the Midland Main Line, and scaled back electrifying the Great Western Main Line (the wires stop at Cardiff or Swansea rather than going all the way over to Pembroke) - both of which were (and still are) desperately needed - because there "wasn't enough money", but pressed ahead regardless with the HS2 vanity project. They cut the funding to MML / GWML electrification and diverted it to HS2. Which they then cancelled. So we'll be left with another route from London to Birmingham (not needed, there's already two fast lines and several slower ones) instead of speeding up the other two lines and making them zero emission at the point of use? 
Oh, and apparently the air quality in Bristol was 'terrible', so they saw fit to impose a tax (dressed up in environmental clothing) to drive a relatively modern car into the centre. Not done on emissions - it's done solely on date of registration. If you have a diesel car that was registered prior to Jan 2016, or a petrol car registered prior to Jan 2006, you're paying £10 to drive into the city centre. 
The exact same model of diesel car (same engine, same emissions) that had been registered from Feb 2016 is exempt. Which makes no sense. 
Meanwhile, because the railway electrification was cut back, diesel trains continue to run through Temple Meads and the city centre - through the clean air zone - most of which are years old. So, my 2-litre diesel from 2007, which complies with Euro IV (and actually meets or exceeds Euro V) has to pay, but the fleet of Class 37 and Class 66 locomotives (with engine capacities of 60+ litres and emissions to match), along with all the 150-series DMUs, continue to run through the city centre and pay nothing? (Have you seen the thick black oily clag coming out of a Class 37 when it's under heavy load?) 
Anyway, I shall be voting Lib Dem for reasons given above. 
(TL;DR - There's no way I'd vote Labour, but Lib Dems have the best chance of unseating the Tories here.)
David Pilling, 7th June 2024, 13:42
I pray whoever wins the election succeeds in improving matters. 
"HS2 was first proposed by the Labour government in 2009 under Gordon Brown", Labour backed it all the way, until now when they don't. Common theme, not much difference between parties, reality is the same for both. Another common theme, politicians don't do the costing and planning, their squillions of underlings do that and will blunder whoever is nominally in power. 
Labour is promising a de-carbonised grid by 2030 and reductions in energy costs. The current high prices will help achieve that. No explanations how it will work when no wind, no sun, cold. Competitors like the USA will have much cheaper energy from fossil fuels. I hope it works out. 
Blackpool has been in receipt of money from levelling up, appropriate for one of the poorest places in the UK. Been interesting to read all the people questioning what levelling up means, culminating in a Telegraph column saying everyone in Blackpool was a scrounger and the money would be better spent in the South-East. No gratitude here - two dodgy Tory MPs will become two Labour ones shortly. 
Everywhere has the same problems at the moment, USA, Germany. They have all followed the same policies and are in a similar mess. Deep in debt. Fighting a war. 
Hope it all works out. Hope Sunak is not clearing the decks in the national interest - in other words he knows something bad is going to happen. 
Hmm UK interest rates set to fall in August... miracle. 
jgh, 7th June 2024, 18:29
Out of all those, the only one I'll pick up on is: interest rates aren't bad. Interest rates are *normal*. 5% is the *normal* rate for intertest rates. The last 16 years have been Abbey Normal. The 11% base rate when I first got a mortgage is Abbey Normal. But 5% Igor? Bog standard normal. 
jgh, 7th June 2024, 18:31
TDM: I was writing our candidate's election address yesterday, and the amount of anger I was having to tone down was amazing. If I'd artworked everything he wanted the Royal Mail would have rejected it.
jgh, 7th June 2024, 18:40
DP: There are clearly nobody with any electrical engineering comprehension anywhere in any bodies with decision-making powers of UK energy provision. 
I've been understanding electrical systems since I was about 8 years old, and have dispairing conversations with other people of an engineering bent at the complete hoplelessness of understanding of basic fundamentals. 
It seems as though people think electricity is just some magic that comes out of a wall outlet, so any wall outlet is all wall outlets. That all that's needed is a "magic string" from your device into the wall. One madness is the expectation that people can charge cars from street lamps. have they ever looked instaide a lamp standard and seen the quality of wiring in there? And we've had a century of development of *REDUCING* the power demands of street lighting, and the consequent supply to them. But the overwhelming attitude is "oh, but it can turn a light on, clearly it will also power my car". 
jgh, 7th June 2024, 23:00
Well, that was another 90 minutes of my life I won't get back. ;) How can you have a "leaders" debate with seven people shouting over each other? Harumph! 
Yes, Nigel Multistorey-Carpark had to be there 'cos if they'd rigged the rules to exclude him, they'd have had to exclude the Greens, SNP and Plaid. 
David Pilling, 9th June 2024, 12:13
jgh: there are narrow streets of terraced houses round here, and they all have lots of cars, so the street is nose to tail with cars on both sides, they have to charge their cars too. Lamp posts look a good idea, but not enough of them. Anyway this is not a fundamental problem, put sockets in the pavement, but illustrates the scale of the task. 
I've done the maths and whilst I could charge an ev from normal mains, the time taken, a day would mean that I'd opt for a dedicated charger just in case. 
Andy S, 9th June 2024, 20:31
Yes funny how that VAT hike is hardly ever mentioned, isn't it?
jgh, 10th June 2024, 03:42
I've been watching the EU election results come in, and it's hilarious (in an unfunny way). And now, Macron's called an election! Is he taking lessons from Sunak? 
Rick, 11th June 2024, 21:47
jgh: "and the amount of anger I was having to tone down was amazing". 
If you want the satisfaction of a rant, feel free to drop it to me and I can put it here as a guest article. Anonymous too if you like (for those with really short memories that don't bother reading the comments). 

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