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annoying things

Happy New Year?

Living in the UK we have been blessed recently (well, last May), with a coalition Government between the Conservatives, led by David Cameron, and the Liberal Democrats, led by Nicholas Clegg.¬† This coalition came about because no party gained enough votes to hold an overall majority. I read this as meaning that the public who voted were not enamoured enough of the policies of any party to declare an outright winner. Unfortunately, they didn’t see it this way and have taken their ‘election’ (and I use this term in it’s loosest possible sense), as a direct mandate from the masses¬† – the 65% that turned out.

Since the coalition came in we have seen an assault on everyday working people and the country in general. How else could you explain the amazingly drastic cutbacks and changes that this government have so far implemented. Currently they are dismantling the National Health Service – despite the Health Secretary, Andrew Lansley, promising that there would be “ major top-down reorganisation of the NHS..”. They are expecting Doctors to manage the Health Service. Have they never heard of the ‘Peter Principle’?

I feel that people in the UK are not happy with what is happening at present. The cost of living is increasing dramatically, inflation is on the rise, fuel duties increase (fuel duty plus Value Added Tax means that 70% of every pound spent on fuel goes to the Treasury), squeezing the ‘middle earners’ and so on. Not to mention scrapping the Ark Royal and getting rid of all the Harriers (another issue).

Now they are talking about increasing interest rates to counter inflation. How does that work? I have already cut down on my heating (gas) and electricity usage. I buy less food – and that which I do buy tends to be own brand or cheaper. I have an allotment – so I grow some of my own food – as much as I can. I haven’t bought new clothes or furniture for many months, and don’t intend doing so. I don’t go out to pubs, clubs, theatre or cinema. I don’t drink that much at home. I eat a balanced, often vegetarian diet. I am selling my 2.0 litre car, and will not replace it. I bought a cheap bike from Tesco and will try to use that as much as possible. I have even cut my use of the washing machine down to once a week! Am I doing my bit?

Probably not – as part of the ‘Big Society’ looming on the horizon I will be expected to take a more active part in the community no doubt. Perhaps running a local play group, or the Library – if the Council hasn’t closed it down – as seems likely. May be sweeping the leaves from the pavements or providing grit in the next cold snap. Community policing maybe, or tending parks and gardens – all for no remuneration of course – except for the warm feeling that I am making the world a better place.

Makes me wonder if John Carpenter’s film ‘They Live!’ was a glimpse into the future. Pass me the sunglasses……….

Overuse of Plastics and Rampant Consumerism

Whilst expending time and fuel taking a load of plastic containers to the recycling point yesterday I was pondering on how many other people do the same? I make a point of collecting all plastic bottles, trays and food containers that we use. It is very surprising just how much there is – given that there are only two people in my house now. If I just threw all of that stuff in the bin it would end up in landfill – but what if I had no choice? I have the means to recycle this stuff, but I am sure that there are many people who are in situations where this is impracticable – and their plastic ends up in the bin.

It seems that there are two ways in which the situation can be eased – one is to cut down on the amount of plastics used by the supermarkets (let’s be honest – most of us shop in them), the other is for Local Authorities to collect plastics for recycling along with the other stuff which is collected. I understand that some Authorities do this – but my city, for example, doesn’t, and it’s a big city. Not all ‘biodegradable’ plastics degrade easily it seems – have a look here. This is an important consideration.

At some future time I think our descendants will be amazed at our society – and the way that we have let things slip before we tried to pull back from the edge. The push to make us all consume more and more is great – and even now we tend to be suckered into believing that we actually NEED the latest add on, gadget or thing. A lot of electronic items now come in cardboard packaging – which perhaps seems ‘greener’, but what about the energy needed to actually make the thing? That’s another issue.

Back to plastics. Could supermarkets cut back on the amount of plastic that they use? Could they change the type of plastics to really biodegradable ones? I think the answer to both of these questions is ‘yes’. Better still would be for the ‘consumer’ (hate that word) to choose to shop elsewhere. Is it really fun wandering around an aircraft hangar sized shop wheeling a trolley the size of a small car? If it is, then why do people fondly think of times when there were true high streets full of individual shops, and personal service was the thing? Things tended not to be wrapped in plastic either!

Free Audiobooks Again

OK – I downloaded the Jane Austen book from Librivox – but found it hard to listen to because the chapters are read by different people – but even worse is that before each chapter they all say the same thing about the book being in the public domain, the fact that it’s from Librivox, and who is reading it – for every chapter! Became rather wearing after a while.