Giving it up for New Year….

….. jeepers what is wrong with the above, in short everything! New Year and the holiday are one of the most frantic times we have in our calendar and, rightly so, we use some vices to help us get through it. Now that may be chocolate, booze, ciggies, sex or anything that helps you chill a bit…. but then we get to January first and bang, the guilt (or the scales) hit home and to go cold turkey.

January…. one of the bleakest darkest times of the year, nothing to look forward to except February (officially the direst month of the year, and the pay packet. So we decide to torture ourselves by giving up something that has probably been a major crutch in our lives, or worse still we start doing something that goes against our very grain of life in this dark month (anyone gone back to the gym in the last 7 days after an absence of many months?).

Yeah okay, we need to make changes in our lives; we are all getting fat, clogging up our arteries with fatty proccessed foods, doing the 1 mile school run in our SUVs and leaving the TV on standby every night. But for the love of goodness it is JANUARY! You don’t want to be heading to gym after work at 6:30 in the pitch black icy cold weather. Or giving up the wine or the ciggies when there is no where else to go or do that doesn’t involve a restaurant, bar or movie, and for goodness’ sake the kids don’t want to walk to school  (and you sure as anything don’t want to have to walk with them!).

Giving stuff up is good for us, we are going to have to give a lot as the credit crunch bites and the sea levels rise. Buying that new car every three years or picking up that handy plastic bag in the supermarket are all things we are going to have to change as much as eating a bit more healthy and getting more active. 

However, you have to give something up, or take something up, because you want to. Not because the year has click up one.  Look at life, realise what is good and what is not so good, diagnose it first and work out why you do it, then do something about it. 

For me, I will give nothing up on any January 1st; I may give something up in March, June or September but never in January….. and don’t get me started on Lent!


Annoyed on a Tuesday

Two weeks ago I was excited(!), I had went into Borders bookstore in Glasgow, had a chat with the really nice friendly folk at the University of Glasgow’s Department of Adult and Continuing Education (DACE) and got an application form to go and study Ancient Egyptian Text. It was a Tuesday afternoon and I even agreed an arrangement with my work to take 3 hours off on Tuesday afternoons and work back the time through our flexi system (starting at 8:30 and working ’til 18:00).

For those that know me they will know that I must have been keen to do this to agree to early starts!

Well I posted off the app form (after phoning to make sure there was still time to post it) and then I thought I was sorted. I did get a little concerned mid-last week that I had not heard anything and called the Uni on Friday.

My first annoyance was that the whole university closes for a long weekend at the end of September; “no-one available to take your call”(!) I think that is ludicrous for a university department who had courses starting on the Tuesday not to open again until that Tuesday.

So I called this morning; “Sorry we don’t have your application and the course is full.” WHAT!. “Sorry it must be lost in the post.” HUH? “Yes, and that course is now full.”

So….. in my annoyed (I am not swearing on this but you might imagine that I am!) I have had to phone the credit card company, someone may have lifted the app form and my card details with it…..

So….. I don’t get to go until next year now, if they offer that course next year. Annoyed? #@!?!@”~###?#@!!!!

The State – Why it should be Secluar

I think the raving madness of two Catholic bishops demonstrates why State and Church should be well segregated, with as many safe guards as required.

Cardinal Keith O’Brien has said that catholic MPs who support abortion should consider their stance on receiving communion. How ludicrous is this? Is he proposing to ask everyone who approaches on any given Sunday for communion the same question? If not, why not?

Saying that he is not alone and not the first:
Welsh prelate joins abortion row

MPs, MSPs and AMs have all been elected (more or less) on a non-religious basis. Mostly they are elected for their political affiliations and the policies that they stand for. I would imagine that there would a huge outcry if religious affiliations were brought up at a political hustings.

So what right does a Catholic Cardinal to meddle in the political arena? Gone are the days when we should ‘the lords spiritual’ affecting legislation and policy of this country. When you look at the relevance in most peoples lives I think you will find very little. Maybe weddings, christenings and funeral, but not in the dominating pulpit preaching that the Cardinal seems to prefer.

Tax… need this be taxing?

A week after the Scottish elections we are no further forward to a government (just as well Westminster is looking after us! Even if they are all pre-occupied with Tony going). There have been spats over the Presiding Officer, no-one wants to give up a seat in such a close situation, and then the parties have all been pulling back from any kind of coalition. So it looks like Alex is going on his tod, with the occasional help from the couple of greens.

What this brings into play is the fact that it is going to be difficult for any government to be progressive with their own agenda. This is going to come to the fore with the promised SNP local tax changes.

Whilst I know there are issues with the Council Tax, I must say that I am 100% against a local income tax, and that affected my voting patterns at the election.

I would hope that the SNP now see that almost half of the country (those voting Labour or Tory) were voting for parties that were not going to introduce this local tax and, upon reading further into the SNP proposals, leave a hole in the local authorities purses. This hole is almost 1/5th of the combined local authories budget. So I think it is fair to say that 3% is not very realistic.

I would like to think that easier, less expensive changes can be made to the Council Tax.

  1. More bands, I prescribe to the line of thought that says if you can buy a £1 million house then you can afford to pay more Council Tax. The same goes with cars and road tax; more expensive, uneconomical cars….. if you have got one you can pay more road tax.
  2. Pensioners should just pay a nationally set flat rate, these people have spent a life time supporting the country and the ‘system’. So they should all get equal benefit. This would remove the postcode lottery of services versus tax levels.
  3. Discounts. Better publicised discounts. Let people know what they are entitled to and tell them how to get it!

These tweaks to a system that works will be cheaper that wrestling with councils over a nationally set level, the tax man on how this will be collected and managed (esp if we are going for independence!) and the potential brain drain of well paid families who will loose out considerably on a local tax solution.

Oh Scotland……

What must the rest of the UK, probably Europe and maybe even ex-pats in the ‘colonies’ be thinking.

Scots canny even read how to vote!

The aftermath of the Scottish Parliamentary and Local Council elections have made a mockery of the population! The voting syste, while different on the two ballot papers, was easy if you read the instructions on the paper and on the polling booth. Why are there up to 100,000 votes that are not being counted because the intention of the voter could not be established.

I suspect over the next few days we will be awash with stories over the electronic system, but in essence it did the job, all these discounted votes were view by people if the system couldn’t make out the intention. We will also hear that the two votes should not have been held on the same day. That would have simply lead to an even more dismal turn out for the council election!

It defies me why people can’t read the instructions. There was enough publicity about the changes, even if people didn’t know the exact detail they should have known there was a change and to read properly.

I suppose, in a way, it harks back to that old test example. The test is handed out and everyone is told to read all the questions through before starting. How many people charge on ahead, answer everything until they get to the last question that say only answer question 1?

Anyway, we are where we are, with a population needing some damn good education reforms to in-still some intelligence, maybe better NHS glasses to read the next ballot paper with and definitely not independence!