Tag Archives: eurozone

I’m not racist but……….

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

 

And Finally

 

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?


Where the f**k have I been ?

Do you really care?  The important thing is that I am back now.  A long stint in the Americas saw my interest in life itself dwindling beyond belief as the country sucked my will to live right out of me.  However, since the 9th December, I have been safely tucked up in the eurozone and slowly re-charging my life batteries to a point now that I feel it is safe to write again.  I was also slightly reminded that I hadn’t written for a while by Word Press themselves when they sent me an email telling me about the stats for the year.  Now that I have a world audience, I can plan my attack for world domination but until such time, let me bring you up to speed.

Yesterday, I went for a run in the forest up the road – you may have heard me talk about this many times before but for me, it is a giant adventure playground.  In the winter, all the leaves are gone and yesterday the ground was covered in snow so visibility in the forest was spectacular.  Add to that the fact that I was running in a high viz jacket and you might begin to understand my dilema of needing a dump at about 2/3 distance – no way of making it home, no bushes to hide behind, quite a few people around and me wearing a bright fecking yellow jacket – but I had no choice, no chance of making it home so I chose a tree and let it all go.

I also had a ride at Cannock Chase just before Christmas with Rue.  Steve couldn’t make it so it looked like we had a chance of putting a good time in.  I even made a video of one of the better downhill sections but it turned out shit so I didn’t add it to the archives.

My iPhone 4s shat the bed late in November and left me with a dilema all of its own.  The back up phone I had, a standard iPhone 4 was sold to me by the shop as an unlocked phone but it turned out it was locked so that was of little use.  The choice was stark and simple, the 4s was now no longer supported by Apple so it was time to go iPhone 5 or iPhone 6.  If you know about these phones, the problem was, the charger socket and SIM card size, both the 5 and the 6 sport lightening sockets and nano sims so a full change was on the cards whichever way I went.  Thinking that if I took the latest phone, it would be a while before that phone became redundant like the outgoing 4s had now become.  I bought the smaller of the two units BUT it is still too big.  Clumsy to hold, doesn’t fit in my running bum bag as easily and a bastard to navigate with just one hand.  Steve Jobs was 100% spot on when he said that nobody wants a phone that they can’t hold and operate with just one hand. I remember fondly the time when Apple products were wanted because they were leading edge, not because they had a big screen.

The new mountain bike is slowly being bedded in – one trip in the forest and another around Cannock Chase means that I am slowly getting used to it.  Running is slowing down a bit though, all due to the hilly terrain I am using instead of the monotony of flat Florida.  I also managed to run my best Parkrun ever !!!!  Leamington Spa on Saturday 13th December, I chopped a massive 57 seconds off my previous personal best, giving me  22:19 – not only that but I also had my best position finish, 45th out of 241 runners, 7th in my age group (that’ll be the Veterans by the way), not one female finished in front of me and I also increased my age grading to 63.55% so a productive outing after all – it will be a tough one to beat but there is more time in there – next target is under 22:00

I have a confirmed place for the Great North Run 10k and also entered the draw for the Great North Run Half Marathon the following weekend, that should be confirmed within a week so the North of England could be graced with my handsome charms in the summer – I may even venture across to the lake district for the week in between with my mountain bike, or attempt a cross country hike across Hadrians wall or a long run along Offa’s Dyke.  Scotland also wouldn’t be too far away at that point either.

Now, for those of you that didn’t receive my Happy New Year message, firstly let me wish it to you now but also explain what went wrong with the iPhone 6.  I wrote my text message and added the 32 recipients I wanted to send it to.  I pushed send and 7 of you got it, 25 of you didn’t.  I couldn’t get it to send the next day either, completely locked up, so I send my appologies.  I think for next year, I will also revert to sending Christmas cards again.  I had two this year that found me, one from Connor and one from Ralph.  It did kind of make me smile so if at some point between now and christmas, I ask for your address, please don’t panic, this is why.  I did stop sending cards years ago because I thought it was a huge waste of paper but now, I have changed my mind.

That will do for now, it’s almost time for a trott in the forest. I am wondering though – where the hell is Verity McCoy ?


With love – from Spain

Wind is blowing hard at the moment and bringing some sloppy surf onto the island.  It certainly isn’t Portugal but if you are an islander or even someone who has been stuck here for a few months with work and has island fever, it may come as a welcome break for you.

I had some fun at the bank today.  My spanish bank card expired 15 months ago but as I haven’t been here for any  length of time I never bothered renewing it until today, and that was only prompted last night on the way to squash by Tall Paul who handed me a bank statement. So, the transcript of what happened in the bank (tranlsated into English for the ease of my multi cultural readers)

me – Morning, I need a new bank card please

handing over the old card, the spanish lady looks at it, turns her face sour like a bulldog licking piss off a thistle then says

bank girl – You have ID?

I gave her my driving license as I never thought to take anything else to the bank to get a new card

bank girl – This is a driving licence

me thinking to myself – no shit Sherlock !

bank girl – I need a passport

me, facial expression – oh fucking hell, here we go again, anything but help the client – spanish stylie – 15 minutes back to the boat to get it, 15 minutes back to the bank, another 15 minutes to find a parking space

bank girl after clearly reading my expression – OK, I can do it with this

She then read the address they held on the system for me to confirm where to send the card. it wasn’t my address and it was not an address I had ever had in Mallorca.  I told her that was wrong and then gave her the statement that had been sent to me just days before.  She naturally looked confused, I now feared the worst and was waiting for the one thing that sends a spear of pain and fear down your spine – The Spanish Shrug.

The Spanish Shrug is that moment in time where, without the use of words, the locals can tell you that exactly not one single fuck is given  for your plight – worse still, the shrug also implies that not one single fuck will be given at some point in the near or mid distant future.  You are, as we so politely say in blighty – up shit creek without a paddle!

To my complete and utter amazement, she calmly started updating the address on her computer with the address on the statement that her bank had produced in the last 7 days.  Then she cut my old card in half and told me a new card will be with me in 7 to 10 days

Now, lets be clear, thats 7 to 10 working days – clearer still, 7 – 10 Spanish working days so lets call it 3 weeks before the new card might land on Tall Paul’s doorstep but to really add insult to injury, they will also charge me 25€ for the privellage of sending me a new card.

 

Don’t even get me started about vodafone Spain changing my phone contract a year ago and taking treble the normal monthly fee without even telling me!

 

If you have ever wondered why the eurozone is having problems – come out to any of the latin countries and see for yourself exactly why there are problems.

 

Me personally – I love it

 

 


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