Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Supply and demand makes petrol hits £5 gallon after Grangemouth strike.

The simple law of supply and demand has seen petrol hit £5 a gallon here in the UK. Consumer groups have predicted up to six weeks of price rises because of the disruption and accused the Government and oil firms of "cashing in" on the increased revenue generated by rising prices. The rate of the increase in price is now double what it was last week and the highest the UK has seen for three years, with the average price of unleaded petrol at 109.77p yesterday - or £4.99 a gallon - and 119.77p for diesel.

People have panic bought fuel so that their vehicles would not run dry. People have not taken advantage of how large their fuel tanks are and used the mileage range that is possible to delay their purchase of fuel until after the striking workers return to work. The petrol filling station owners have used this demand to increase their profit margins and cash in on the situation. This is the simple law of supply and demand in action. The public's selfishness has caused this avoidable increase in the price of petrol and diesel, while our government and the petrol companies cash in on this demand. When will the public learn these simple economics? Never - because of the public's love of the private motor car.

Use your head motorists, use the range of your fuel tanks and buy when the price is a little lower. If some of your journey's can be delayed for another day when the fuel could be cheaper, then wait. Do not top-up your fuel tank in case there is a hiccup in the supply chain. David Jones never lets his car petrol tank gauge fall below half - just in case - it is his attitude that let's the petrol filling stations cash-in and everyone else ends up paying more than they should for their petrol.

Monday, April 28, 2008

Madeleine McCann - the story continues.

Acres and acres of newsprint have been devoted to the Madeleine McCann story. Madeleine McCann was three years old when she disappeared from a holiday villa in the Portuguese resort of Praia da Luz on May 3 2007. People will have their own pet theories as to what happened on that night. I have always wondered what anyone could possibly want with a three year old girl. I do not understand why anybody would want to take a three year old child - it is beyond me. This thought was again rammed home to me again today.

I finished my day job and returned home to be met by Gail's grand-daughter Louise. Louise is three years old and calls me Grampy Steve, although their is no blood line between us. She is a noisy three year old who runs around screaming and will not obey Gail fully. Gail finds her very hard work, this is not easy child minding. Time went on and I was getting more and more fed up with Louise screaming and running around, picking things up etc. After 2 solid, unbearable hours I stood up and told Gail I had enough and I was going upstairs out of the way, shutting the door behind me because I could not stand it anymore.

Eventually Louise's parents came to take her home, thank goodness. Peace was restored to my home. Gail's niece Samantha works in a nursery with young children, how she copes I do not know! If anything happened to my day job I would never consider working with small children.

A lot has been said about the McCann's leaving their children unattended whilst they had a meal nearby. Having spent 2 hours with a three year old in my own home I know how the McCann's feel, I will not criticize them, they have my deepest sympathy. Why someone would want to take away their three year old child is beyond me, the person who did it must be out of their mind and simply evil. An evil person with loads of patience.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Smoking in cab costs taxi driver John £200 in fines.

John Colcomb of Henllys, Trebanog, Rhondda, received two fixed-penalty notices for smoking in a work vehicle and throwing the cigarette butt onto the highway. He is believed to be one of the first cabbies in Wales to be prosecuted under the new smoking ban law introduced last year. The incident happened on September 17 when two of Rhondda Cynon Taf Council’s Public Health and Protection Enforcement officers saw Mr Colcomb driving a black Vauxhall Vectra along Trebanog Road in the village.

As he waited to turn right into Trebanog Service Station he was spotted throwing his spent cigarette through the driver-side window onto the road, an offence which contravenes Section 87 of the Environmental Protection Act 1990. And, as Mr Colcomb was driving his licensed Ace Taxis cab at the time, he was also in breach of the Health Act 2006 which states it is illegal to smoke in all enclosed public places and workplaces, including vehicles such as taxis, work vehicles and all other forms of public transport.

On the following day Mr Colcomb received the two fixed- penalty notices of £50 for smoking and £75 for litter, both of which he disputed. In refusing to pay the fines, the case ended up being heard at Rhondda Magistrates’ Court and the defendant was ordered to pay a total of £435.21. The defendant did not attend the hearing and the facts were proven in his absence. Mr Colcomb was fined £100 for each of the charges, and ordered to pay £220.21 costs and a £15 victim surcharge.

...Ho! Ho! Ho! This makes me laugh, you are a fool John, an arrogant fool. What is it with cigarette smokers? Their arrogance astounds me with their disregard for legislation and litter. Rhondda Cynon Taf Council was right to prosecute John and to make an example of him. We do not want cowboy taxi drivers ignoring the law of the land. Taxi drivers routinely flout many laws and it is time that action is taken against them.

Cigarette smokers are a nuisance with the mess they create. This mess is awful to be around and costs a great deal to remove. They insist on smoking in public and then breathing heavily over you. Smokers obstruct access to public buildings and you have to run the gauntlet past them whilst they loiter. Workers waste paid time having a smoke break yet their employers are reluctant to confront their drug addiction. It is not too much to ask for all workers not to smoke outside of their recognised rest breaks. It is time for councils across the country to stop smokers sticking 2 fingers up to society.

Monday, April 21, 2008

Gavin and Stacey .

Sunday night was the last episode of Gavin & Stacey on BBC3 television. This was the second series of this hit comedy series that has many fans . I have enjoyed both series of this romantic comedy that, although the series is set in Billericay, Essex and Barry, Vale of Glamorgan - was shot largely in Barry and the surrounding area, including Barry Island, Dinas Powys and Cardiff.

Living in Cardiff my friends and family have watched this programme with great interest to spot the locations used for filming. The programme makers have given very little away, especially as they were trying to create the impression that half the programme was filmed in Essex, not south Wales. For the alleged filming in Essex they had to make sure there were no bi-lingual Welsh/English signs. In the penultimate episode Gail and I spotted the pub where Gavin and Smithy had a lunch together. We have had dinner in the same pub and it is not waitress service. We have no doubts that it is the Colcot Arms , Colcot Rd, Barry, South Glamorgan CF62 8UJ. In the last episode Gavin goes to pick up Smithy's sister from a drive through fast food take-away. We are sure this is the Burger King at Culverhouse Cross, Cardiff, South Glamorgan CF5 6XW - which is just up the road from our home. Then they drive off and we see them drive along Llanover Road in Ely, Cardiff - stopping to chat to 3 young girls outside the shops near the junction with Michaelston Road. My dog knows that grass very well indeed on his regular 1 hour walk around the Drope. It was a joy to spot these filming locations, especially as the viewer was led to believe they were in Essex!

The humour and local colour is spot on with well developed sub plots running through the whole series. It is quirky and very up to date, it is not a dated situation comedy. The dialogue is very good and there are no dull scenes. This programme deserves to win more awards and I hope that the BBC gives it another commission for a third series. Well done to the writing team and I am sure that viewers in other parts of the UK enjoyed Gavin & Stacey as much as the local area people have.

Friday, April 18, 2008

Name calling.

A teacher whose pupils poked fun at him because of his baldness has lost his claim that he was a victim of disability discrimination. James Campbell, 61, a former art teacher at Denny High School in Stirlingshire, took Falkirk Council to an employment tribunal over the issue, saying he had suffered harassment at the hands of his pupils, who saw his baldness as a weakness.

Falkirk Council argued that baldness was not a physical or mental impairment, and therefore was not covered by the Disability Discrimination Act (DDA). In his ruling, the tribunal judge Robert Gall said: "[This] would take the definition of impairment too far. If baldness was to be regarded as an impairment then perhaps... a big nose [or] big ears might [also] be regarded as an impairment under the DDA."

...Some people do put silly claims into court and this case is a good example. I agree with Judge Robert Gall and I think that James Campbell was being extremely childish. Baldness is not a disability and some men shave their heads as a fashion statement. This becomes their style and they hold their heads up high. All James Campbell had was simple name calling which any normal adult would simply ignore. He should grow up and it makes me wonder why a man of 61 is making such a fuss. Maybe he wanted to leave his job and decided to try and screw some money out of the council? Thank goodness this judge had common sense!

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Safer driving with the Police!

People may think that the Police set an example on safer driving. They have speed camera vans claiming safety, safer communities is a popular tag line for them to advertise. Yet what is in the newspaper today?...

The high powered luxury car, pursued by three panda cars, careered off the road and flew through the air before coming to rest on its roof.

Debris from the mangled wreck, including the Bentley's front grille, its bonnet and one of its wheels, was flung across the road.

The first police car, following close behind, hit the debris - then the second car smashed into the back of the first one.

The third police car swerved to avoid the crash and plunged off the road, causing 'serious damage.'

...Well done Hampshire Police! Four cars were involved in a pursuit and four cars damaged as a result of this Police pursuit. That is 100% of all the vehicles involved in this incident. The 3 Police cars, supposedly driven by professional drivers were damaged, a 100% failure rate. Maybe the Hampshire Police join in a new safety partnership with the Keystone Cops because you, the council tax payer are paying for this comedy.

Speed in itself does not kill but amateur, cowboy driving does cause damage and can kill. The Police should know better but I suppose their male ego's cannot cope with some spotty teenagers pulling away from them. Basic health and safety in the workplace is that you do not put yourself in danger, yet these Policemen have ignored this common sense. Their idea of risk assessment is seriously flawed.

Monday, April 14, 2008

Half of a Yellow Sun by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie .

I have just finished reading Half of a Yellow Sun by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie. The title depicts part of the Biafra flag. This novel is set in 1960's Nigeria and has 5 main characters whose lives change as the country is blighted by civil war and famine. This book won the Orange Broadband Prize for Fiction 2007 which is one of the United Kingdom's most prestigious literary prizes, awarded annually for the best original full-length novel by a female author of any nationality, written in English and published in the UK in the preceding year. I have not read the other books that were nominated for this award but this novel is a quality read. It is first class and should appeal to both men and women. Chimamanda is an excellent story teller and she has the talent to tell a story that is a world apart from the reader's own experience. I was a child when the crisis developed in Nigeria yet reading this novel you feel as though you are living through the story. I remember television news reports about the refugees, the famine and the starvation. Since then I have always held the high value of food and have always been offended by food waste. Chimamanda explains the staple Nigerian food of Garri and that when things get really bad children are catching and roasting lizards to eat. I have never been to Nigeria but Chimamanda explains local life and customs so well that you always understand what is going on.

The book is full of local colour, it has humour which is subtle. There is some sex involved but it is not vulgar and would not offend your grandmother. There is some violence which is to be expected because of the realities of war. This is a gritty novel but it is not a difficult read. It will raise emotions in the reader and you will question your views about people you do not know, have never met and look a little different to you. It will challenge your views on race, class and gender roles but Chimamanda does not preach to you, she lets you come to your own conclusions.

I found this book very moving and the story really drew me in. It is very sad in places and made me want to cry. The pace of the book is right and Chimamanda has slotted everything together really well. The book ends and leaves the reader grieving for Kainene but that is the point - you the reader then feel the pain that an awful lot of people in Nigeria during the 1960's had to live through. The pain of not knowing stays with you in real life just like the feelings you get when you finish this book. You can move on to another book and will get over it. Richard, Olanna, Odenigbo, Ugwu and Baby have to live with this not knowing what happened to Kainene.

I was really impressed with this book and on the strength of this I hope to read her first novel called Purple Hibiscus sometime in the future.

Monday, April 07, 2008

Headcases .

Just watched the first programme in the new series broadcast on ITV1 called Headcases. This programme is brilliant and it had me laughing out loud. Far, far better than the likes of Spitting Image years ago. ITV have commissioned a hit with this one, great satire with a visual naughty edge. The voices are spot on and the script writing is very witty indeed. Well done to the team of writers on this one. It should get nominated for an award and it probably will as no other programme compares at the moment.

Sunday, April 06, 2008

The Human Spider .

On Thursday night I watched The Human Spider on Channel 4 television. Alain Robert , dubbed 'The Human Spider', is arguably the most daring climber the world has ever seen.

This heart-stopping Cutting Edge documentary follows the married father-of-three on his quest to 'free climb' some of the world's tallest buildings using just his bare hands, with no ropes or any safety equipment.

What an amazing documentary this was to watch. Alain Robert is famous for free solo climbing which is a form of buildering where the climber (the free soloist) foregoes ropes, harnesses and other protective gear while ascending and relies only on his or her physical strength, climbing ability, and psychological fortitude to avoid a fatal fall.

I was amazed at the skill of Alain Robert. There is no margin for error with this urban climbing, one slip and you are dead. He is an inspiration for human spirit. I admire greatly what he does yet in interviews he does not come across as some big headed, egotist, overpaid sports personality but as an ordinary down to earth bloke. He is not flash, just a wonderful guy enjoying his life and family. What he does is simply great and I now look at tall buildings and bridges in a very different way. What Alain Robert does is very challenging but it is also very naughty. He has to play cat and mouse with security guards to make his climbs. He is challenging the notions imposed by big companies that you cannot do this and that. He is exercising freedom, the freedom of movement and the freedom to make your own decisions and take your own risks in our risk averse society. It is refreshing to see him climb when our society puts so many barriers in the way of our everyday lives. He has climbed his way free of the unnecessary barriers put in our way. He is a free man and this documentary is an inspiration to us all.

Watch the video below to see The Human Spider in action.

Wednesday, April 02, 2008

Beware of horses, they may fine you £60 .

Driving along yesterday with my parents and my wife there was talk about the Police using a horsebox to catch motorists with a speed camera. This I was sure was a newspaper April Fools story. They insisted it was not and a quick search on the internet revealed the story linked above and the video below. The story is true and I am disgusted. Officers in north Wales are using a horsebox parked by the side of the road to hide a speed camera. The horsebox with two officers inside was parked near Llanrwst in the Conwy Valley on Sunday. Sunday's deployment saw the horsebox parked on a straight stretch of the A470 at Maenan near Llanrwst. The road has a 60mph limit but is renowned for speeding.

It is an offence to impersonate a Police Officer yet their speed camera revenue inspectors are clearly misleading the public and impersonating horse owners. This is not a level playing field and it is grossly unfair. The Police wonder why they do not have the support of the public any more yet they use these guerrilla tactics . These Police Officers are very sneaky and lay in wait wherever the speed limit is inappropriate. Although this road has the national speed limit, cars may drive up to 60 miles per hour, lorries are restricted to 40 miles per hour along this road. Tesco lorries stick to these speed limits rigidly and big queues form behind these lorries. There is no need for a lower speed limit for lorries. Today's lorry is nothing like a lorry 50 years ago and you cannot justify a difference in speed limits. Drive a car for longer than four and a half hours without a break - no problem. Drive a car along a major rural road at a speed fifty per cent faster than a lorry - no problem. A car driver makes a minor mistake in an office - no problem. A lorry driver exceeds 40 mph on a single carriageway road and he could loose his job as well as a fine with penalty points. Driver training for lorry drivers is far higher than for car drivers yet the law treats them like children. It does not make sense but makes great revenue for the treasury.

It would be nice to make a protest about these Police tactics but there is little anyone can do without getting into trouble. A dirty protest would be nice, scoop up some horse manure and throw it into the horsebox at the camera operator. This is what the Police deserve. All we can do when we spot these hidden camera traps is to slow right down, create a queue of traffic behind you so that the camera operator cannot get any revenue for a few minutes because of the greatly reduced traffic flow. Trouble is motorists may get angry and impatient, then one motorist starts to overtake and a head on collision happens. Then the Police will have blood on their hands and they will shut the road for hours in punishment.

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