I went out the other day on my bike, along with my Go Pro strapped to my chest. Because I had my Go Pro on, I stuck my helmet on too.
And then this happened
Seriously nowhere as gruesome as it looks. Cleaning the grease off with alcohol was more painful if I am honest. I filmed that bit too but it didn’t turn out as well as I was hoping. Seems that putting my helmet on causes me to crash!
On a lighter note, I have a little app on my phone – a general knowledge quiz. Most nights when I get into bed I have a quick game or two, trying to get the highest score. I often wondered if I would ever see two of my scores (or better still, two of my names) on the same screen, and then finally it happened. Can you guess which two are mine? Before you assume I am stupid, my highest score is more than 12,000 !
It’s time to get a little controversial again I am afraid, so expect a good long read. Make a cup of tea and get back to your screen as quickly as possible. This is gonna take at least 30 minutes of your time.
Then, put your feet up and watch this little video of an Australian comedian debating gun control. It’s in two parts but don’t worry, part 2 is directly underneath part 1. When you are done watching, come back here and finish reading
So that’s Jim – a very clever guy, funny as hell and absolutely spot on with his remarks.
You know why I posted it right? Another attack in America with 20 reported deaths. I, like the vast majority of the civilised population will wonder for just how long this can go on – certainly after Obama leaves office, I think there will be little hope of any form of gun control for generations to come. It’s a sad form of politics where the most powerful man in his country is powerless to make meaningful change.
Which of course leads me nicely into Brexit. A step too far?
Well lets see. At the head of the European Union sits an appointed board of governors. This appointed board makes ALL of the decisions that affect all of Europe’s citizens, passes laws and membership requirements for all member states. Below them in the heirachy are the MEP’s or Members of the European Parliament. MEP’s are present from each country of the block and are voted for by each blocks citizens – but here is the cliff hanger – The MEP’s cannot propose, create or remove European law – that can only be done by the governors.
Tricky that, in a democracy! See, in whatever democratic society you live in, you have the option to vote in your representatives or equally vote out someone that has represented you badly. So if someone taxes you too much – vote them out, if life is good, vote them in again. But with the EU, there appears to be nothing you can do. if you don’t like what they propose and enforce on you – there is nothing you can do to protest or show your distain. That to me sounds more like a dictatorship than a democracy.
Now I have to admit that sometimes in a democracy, we need a little bit of a dictatorship. See, all politicians, regardless of their colours want to get re-elected, they like the power and they certainly like the bigger pay packet that being in leadership provides. And this is where democracy fails us a little. There are times when a government MUST, for the longer term good of their country, MUST make unpopular short term decisions with a view to a longer term win – but they rarely do. A single term in Parliament is not long enough to make good, future building changes for your public, it needs longer. But who would re-elect a government that just increased taxes by say 2% to improve spending on healthcare or pensions? Both in the long term good of the people but no one wants to pay for it.
So go back to the EU for a second, if they propose and implement something that 75% of the public dislike – nothing can be done to stop it – it becomes EU law and EU law MUST be complied with by ALL member states.
Some of this could be good too – we all drive cars now that have a standardised diagnostics socket on board so that not only main dealers can fix your car but also independents can too – they don’t have to buy one tool for Jaguar, one for Mercedes, one for Volvo etc – they all have to be the same. But remember the oddities too – remember when cucumbers had to be grown straighter? or when they banned the UK from having different coloured fire extinguishers for different types of fires because they said it caused confusion? Imagine that one – you are on holiday in Spain say, and there is a fire. You have to read the extinguisher to see what type it is to make sure it is safe to use on that type of fire – BUT YOU DONT SPEAK SPANISH !
Nigel Farage once made a statement where he said something like –
‘If you think the EU is undemocratic, you have fundamentally misunderstood what the EU is about – It is Anti- Democratic’
Now that statement is absolutely cock on. He is 100% right.
Imagine for a minute, as individuals, we were not allowed to choose which bank we used, we were told which one we had to use, and the people that had the sole control on which bank we were forced to use, were the bankers themselves.?
OK, so now you think I am a Brexit campaigner right? Well understand my personal position. Those of you that know what I am about, the essence of free movement around Europe has been the backbone of my existance for the last 11 years or so. In those 11 years I have lived and worked in France, Spain, Italy, Belgium and Portugal (lets exclude time in America and the Caribbean). The schengen agreement has been very good for me – the single currency has been superb for me – I have often complained about needing the £ and €’s in my pocket but always been mindful that anyone who gave up the pound would be committing political suicide.
So I have several personal reasons for staying in. A house in another EU country for one. A job that requires me to travel extensively within Europe for another. If the UK left, would I need a Schengen Visa to live and work around Europe for another 10 years? I currently have my car with me in Mallorca – will I still be able to do that? What would become of my house in Portugal – could I sell it and take the money out of the eurozone?
Moving around Europe has been fun, enlightening yet incredibly frustrating at times too. One thing I will always say is that going back to the UK is going back to a country that works, has great healthcare, excellent customer service, shops that are open when you can use them, a great Police Force and minimal corruption.
Now before you disagree with any of those statements – Firstly ask yourself how much have you travelled and experienced things outside of the UK? I have seen a lot over the last decade – let me assure you, of all of the countries I have seen, The UK has THE BEST answers – thats not to say they are perfect but they are certainly the best of all I have seen. Secondly – if you believe the UK is not all that, why on earth do you think so many Non UK Nationals want to get there ????
The big question for me is – how much does the EU want to dissolve the UK’s identity? Hollywood could make a film about it – the critics would call it a magnificent work of fiction, all the movie wankers in Cannes would quaff on about how good it was.
Imagine the UK getting absorbed into the EU to a point that our identity is lost for ever. Way back in the 90’s I was completing a staff survey at one of the best companies I ever worked for, a company called LeasePlan. They were conducting a survey of ethnic backgrounds for diversity. Way back then, one thing that stuck with me was when they asked me for my nationality and there was no option for ‘British’. I spoke to the H.R. director who was a very good friend of mine and of Indian descent and asked her where my option was and she told me I was now ‘European’. I marked ‘other’ and sent it back.
Think it is still unrealistic? Ask your parents who voted in the 70’s for joining what was then the common market. Back then it was just a trade agreement – already now, Brussels pushes laws and regulations at the UK.
I am often left with the feeling that the Eurocrats view the Brits as a troublesome bunch that just won’t come quietly. I know they fear us though too. Imagine, if the UK votes to leave, they will be shitting in their overpaid pants, waiting for the next country to call a referendum too. As I travel, I talk to locals. Where ever I am, the same fears apply. When the euro came in, prices went up, salaries went down – everyone is worried about immigration – EVERYONE.
If the UK leaves, it will survive. It is the 5th largest economy in the world. I don’t doubt that things will be a little tougher for a couple of years while deals are thrashed out, but it will survive. When other countries see this too – they will want out. Sure, economists are predicting doom and gloom but remember, these are the same economists that FAILED to see the banking crisis in 2008. It will be a step into the unknown to leave but also remaining will be an unknown step too – a step of not knowing how much control Central Europe will take away from this plucky little island. And remember, once it’s gone, there is no way of getting it back.
Greece is not in the headlines too much anymore – but it is still there – absorbing huge amounts of EU money on a daily basis.
I spent a lot of time in Brussels over the last 5 years or so. One thing that struck me was the sheer amount of EU money that is lavished there. Diplomatic cars, special parking places, houses rented to EU workers, lunch allowances, drinks after work – all paid for out of EU funds.
Consider this for a moment. Lets say Brexit happens, the EU throws its toys out of the pram and sets about making an example of the UK. Will all of the ex-pats in Spain and Portugal have to return home? If they did, it would kill those economies stone dead. Would the UK in return then kick out all of the europeans on a tit for tat basis? Maybe – but that would relieve the housing shortage right? Doctors waiting times would plummet and maybe you could then get an operation within a few days of diagnosis.
So the EU stops all trade with the UK. Something like 40% of our goods are imported from Europe. Could they sustain such a loss in sales? of course not. There would need to be a trade deal made – a deal that helped both parties, a mutually beneficial agreement. How long would that take? Well we know the EU is a big beurocratic machine that rumbles along slower than a snails pace but while their economies are suffering, it would also be in their best interests to strike a deal.
Will people stop flying to Europe? Of course not. Every time I fly into Nice or Palma my passport is checked anyway – EVERY TIME so what difference would it make to me? Every time someone lands in the UK – their passport is checked – no difference there either. If I have to get a visa, its not the end of the world. I have a visa for America – it was relatively inexpensive and simple enough to get, fits nicely in my passport along with an expired Russian Visa.
If the UK had intelligence of a terrorist attack in Paris, would they withold that information – of course not. Would the Germans warn the UK of an impending attack – Of course they would.
Politicians now need to give facts to the public instead of scare mongering or ‘Project Fear’ as it has been called many times. The Leave campaign needs to accurately publish the NET cost of EU membership rather than that all encompassing larger figure that they like to band around. The public need to trust their instincts when listening to the tripe that falls out of many politicians mouths and learn to dismiss comments that are clearly unsubstantiated nonsense.
There is a lot of wiffle waffle being spoken and it is damn easy to spot. Apply a little bit of common sense and you can easily work things out for yourself.
Personally, I am better off in but if you prefer to have a democratic, self governing land of opportunity you have to vote out. Merkel’s career is done – her people are vastly annoyed with her open door policy on immigration and as for Hollande, well, it wouldn’t be the first time the French have laid down at the feet of the Germans would it?
And just because you voice a concern about immigration – IT DOESN’T MAKE YOU A RACIST. Remember the story about the boy who cried wolf? If people continue to misuse the ‘racist’ card it will be come so devalued that when it is genuinely need, it will be ignored by the masses – and that would be a very sad situation. People have a genuine concern about the physical load exerted by huge immigration on services within their countries. Let them voice their opinions and be heard. Immigration is not a bad thing – uncontrolled immigration is.
Phew – rant over
If you really didn’t think Big Brother is watching you – something very suspicious happened to me today……Apple.
So we have all heard the rumours that your smart phone microphone can listen to your conversations covertly and then target web & app adverts specifically from the conversations it has eaves dropped on? Well, this is true. A myth buster style trial took place a couple of months ago and it took some tech nerds just 3 days to build an app with readily available software that could do just that.
Imagine my surprise today when I pulled my phone out of my pocket to see a web page displayed. Ok, sometimes I may forget to screen lock it, we have all ‘butt dialled’ someone right ? But what I saw today was beyond spooky. Yesterday I received a photo on my phone of some paperwork for my rowing machine. Within that paperwork were the operators instructions and other stuff including the original sales receipt. I zoomed in on the receipt to get the invoice date and displayed above that date was the suppliers name, Fitness Superstore. Well bugger me, if the web page being displayed wasn’t for the same company.
Now, the receipt was a year and a half old, my phone is only a month old, I didn’t even know the name of the store I bought it from but could there be a spy in my software that scans my photos and directs me to those web pages?
I have been away for a while, for that I apologise. Nothing spectacular has happened to bring me back to my blog, I just thought I should swing by and say hello. A bit more of a photo story today – that’s good for those of you that don’t like to read.
I stopped by the coffee shop the other week with Jean-Claude, our chef. We were waiting for the supermarket to open and had time for a coffee when I saw the family at the table opposite fully engaged with each other. I like the idea of family holidays, it’s a time when you can all get together from your busy schedules and spend time with each other and just catch up – you know what I mean? A good old chin wag and a joke, pulling faces and making laughter as you chat and interact endlessly until the sunset ???
A good old fashioned chin wag
Alternatively – find a café with free wifi and behave just like you are at home in Germany while you text your friends telling them what a wild time you are having in Mallorca.
I have mentioned Jean-Claude before, the magical chef with more than his fair share of Parkinson’s. Here he is, a sharp old boy who just can’t control the movement of his body as he would like. To the unknowing onlooker, you might just think he was pissed at 8 o’clock in the morning.
But this old boy is one sharp cookie. We were recently talking in the crew mess, JC with a glass of red in one hand, a knob of cheese in the other (yup – stereotypical french man, probably had garlic in his pockets too) when he said something in french to me that I roughly translated as,
When I die, I want to come back as a shower in an all girls school
In my mind, I was questioning if I got the translation right. Let’s be fair, it’s not in your every day phrase book unless perhaps you are on the Monty Python payroll. As quickly as the questioning look appeared on my face, a little wry smile appeared on JC’s – it seemed I had nailed the translation perfectly ! I laughed immediately and then had to translate for Matt the deck hand as he had no idea why we were both laughing so hard.
Moving on – I have been treating myself to an hour on the beach at the weekends. There are some benefits of my job, small perks that one must really take advantage of in order to maximise your time away from home. I found a quiet secluded spot, with not too much going on, took a book and a bottle of water and relaxed for an hour.
Something of a distraction so early on a Saturday morning !
But talking of treats – there is a place here in Palma called ‘Cappuchinos’. This place sells what is by far the best carrot cake I have ever eaten so as a small treat this weekend, I also headed there.
Then I took the next photo. Later that night I noticed the timings on the photos were just 3 minutes apart
The treats have been fast and furious this week mainly because due to an injury, I have had to completely refrain from any exercise. A little bit of knee pain last week after a quick 10k run up the hill seemed to have a lasting effect. I went to the hospital to see the doctor, they took a few X-rays and told me I needed to rest for a while to let the damage to my joints recover. It is amazing in Mallorca, the health care is really good and the X-Rays show great detail.
All said and done, I am in good shape and will live to fight another day. When I have something of interest to share, you will be the first to know – until then