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Friday, December 10, 2010

Oh my darling Clementine

Oh my darling Clementine

I once put three small Clementines in my mouth at the same time.

I was doing this at a summer garden party, for the sole purpose of showing off to my then boyfriend's younger brother and cousin to prove I was 'cool'.

While I was Clemmed up, I heard a clipped female voice behind me calling my name.

I spun round - it was ... his Cheltenham Ladies' College mother standing there ready to introduce me to her family.

I froze with embarrassment for a second, and promptly ejected all three Clems out of my mouth into my hand. Before she could even blink in surprise, I tried to redeem the situation by 'splaining.

However, all I could muster was holding out the spittle-covered Clementines towards her in the palm of my trembling hand, saying "Clementines." Hurrr

The teenagers whom I (actually successfully) impressed were rolling on the floor laughing their EMO butts off.

Suffice it to say, I am no longer friends with the ex boyfriend, but his young brother and cousin are still in regular contact.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Quick Moment of Smugness

So I helped my ex find some work before Christmas because he is always moaning on facebook about not having any money - and moaning all the while going out with me about it too.

In return, he bitched about me to some girl he was chatting to online, who then wrote a mean comment on his facebook page about me being annoying (what? Two texts and one phone call within two months since we broke up, all of which were about getting him a job?? How is THAT annoying?!).

Has he even bothered to email or text me to say thank you for getting him some work before Christmas?


Anyway he then goes and buys an iPhone - so much for being broke - and then drops it into the bath, part of me wanting to be snippy here says this may have been while sending more dirty texts to his female friends (one of the reasons behind us breaking up).

Now he has ruined his iPhone.


What goes around, comes around. Not that I'm gloating, but I was good to you despite everything you did to, and have been saying about, me. Evidently there's justice in this world, and you've just sucked on its bitter end.

Okay, I am gloating. Serves you right.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

What would you do for a free £5?

Free Fivers? Cor blimey, gov!

There are many things I would not do to gain £5.

One of these would be to sit in a bath of spiders. That, as Meatloaf might have once sung, I won't do.

Another thing I would not do for £5 would be to eat mint choc chip icecream. Oh no, the resultant endoscopy would be far more hassle than a mere fiver is worth.

However, if I were to see a chappy standing in the street, wearing a sandwich board saying: "If you want a free £5, stop me and ask: it's yours", I would happily shuffle over to him and hold him to his promise.

Of course, the initial shame as people see me begging for money would be offset by my demeanour. I would feign that I was merely bantering with him, saying something like: "Yeah, mate, what are you selling? You're having a lend" in a loud voice. I would look quizzically at him, pretending to be oh-so-cool about it, when really I would be doing a happy dance inside ...

"I got a Fiiiiiiver, I got a Fiiiiver, you haven't got one, your mom's on welllllfare"


After receiving my £5, I would then come back for more, changing my appearance by carefully-positioned hats, coats, etc. I might even wear a shawl like a hijab to maximise my money-earning potential.

However, I would be in just 0.5 per cent of the UK population. Oh yes, 0.5 per cent.

For when someone from money-saving ideas website did just that - stand in the West End for a day offering £5 to people - more than 2,700 people passed by and only 16 people decided to take him up on this.

That's right. SIXTEEN.

Which begs the question, are we Brits too proud to take money off strangers? Or too sceptical?

Either way, 16 people who either 'had no shame' or were trusting enough to believe his statement went home £5 richer than when they started out.

If only 0.5 per cent of the population is really bold enough to take such opportunities when they arise, then it's no wonder that UK consumers are more than £3trn in debt (excluding mortgages) and only 24 per cent of the population have made savings in the past 12 months.

Monday, November 08, 2010

Amoxicillin and the edge of ageism

The Big W - doesn't look quite so good in jpeg as it did on the night

I am not an old woman, apparently. And I know this to be true, for a 15-year-old girl told me this on Friday night as she badgered me to go on the Waltzers with her at the Crystal Palace Firework display.

When I say badgered, I mean, I was shamed into it by her assertion: 'What's wrong with you? You're not an old woman. You're not going to die.'

This would seem heartless, but then again there were only two of us youth leaders and eight 'young people' and someone had to pay for all the rides while the other stood next to the 1960s fairground equipment and hold all the 'stuff'. Seven teenage girls = a lot of stuff to hold. I opted for probable death rather than standing around in the rain with a bunch of handbags.

Thankfully I lived to tell the tale - despite the best efforts of the shady mulleted travellers who were trying to dislodge the change in our pockets by spinning our seats around at an alarming pace.

However, my voice did not survive the night. I think it fell out of the 'Hellraiser' and I've not seen it since. In its place I have had swollen tonsils, a sore neck (which I claim is 'whiplash' but is probably just my advancing years) and £30 down despite only going on 3 rides and eating one portion of curly fries. Not sure how that happened - as a financial journalist I'm usually extremely good with money. I reckon it's still rolling around the Tunnel of FEAR.

Add to this the requisite Annual Release International conference on Saturday, where I was wedged into an old Salvation Army hall next to the most icy air-con unit; and the all-too-familiar 'Pizza Express, South Croydon' dinner experience with church friends in the evening, and by Sunday I had tonsillitis.

Could I rest? No! I am 'not old' and I am 'not going to die'. An EMO told me so, and therefore Sunday I was up early, making sodding cards for people and baking a Sticky Banoffee Cake for the dear folks with whom I was going to lunch that afternoon.

Skipping church in the evening was a good idea, although that meant five phone calls from the young teens at church, asking how I was and had I seen their latest photos of me on Facebook - apparently having lent them my camera 'TO HOLD' they managed to take about 20 shots of my jeans-clad BUTT in various poses at the Fireworks party and posted them on Facebook.

Now this is where child protection policies fail. If I had done that = disgusting perv and off to jail, no passing Go, no collecting bail. However, a bunch of 15/16-year olds can do that to ME and - presto! My posterior becomes public property in punishment for me missing junior church.

Those pesky kids!

The only upside to the whole weekend's debacle was the fact that, because actually I AM old, despite what the Yoof assert, I keep a medicine chest in my bathroom and I had some old Amoxicillin tablets left over from when I had tonsillitis last year.

This was a Godsend - I have now got my voice back and my glands have decreased in size, allowing me to be able to shout.

By the time I see the youth group next Friday, I shall be able to tell them all what I think of their mockery. And hopefully get my camera back from them.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Easy chilli chocolate cake

200 grams of dark chocolate.

or 100g dark, 100g milk for a sweeter flavour

SAVING: You can get huge bars of lovely chocolate from Lidl for less than £1 that can make two cakes. Also, Sainsbury's basics offer 100g bars of dark and milk chocolate for about 30p each. Bargain!

150g of slightly salted butter

Melt the two above ingredients in the microwave or in a saucepan if you live in the Dark Ages.

When slightly cooled, stir in 5 eggs, individually. Stir well after each addition.

When even cooler, add a tiny pinch of chilli powder and one Tablespoon (yes, only one tablespoon) of plain flour

Stir, pour into a floured dish about 22cm in diameter, cook on gas mark 4 for about 20 mins and take it out when the sides are slightly spongy but the middle is a little wobbly (not runny, but wobbles).

Leave for 24 hours to set in a fridge, or for as long as you can without being tempted to dive in with a spoon.

Decorate with crumbled fudge pieces if you like or whatnot.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

What is shampoo used for nowadays?

I'm gonna wash that man right out of my hair

Has anyone noticed a trend among shampoo manufacturers, whereby their product now claims to do everything except the primary function of shampoo - namely, to clean your hair?

Read the blurb on your bottles of shampoo and see if I'm wrong. You never see any shampoo bottle purporting to leave your hair clean. No bottles seem to think that such a use is worthy of note, despite it being the only reason that we wash our hair.

No, nowadays, shampoo seems to be marketed as if it is designed to do everything else:

'Leaves hair smooth and silky' (so the fleas can't cling on?)

'Hydrates thirsty hair' (since when can 'dead' protein growth be thirsty?)

'Makes hair luscious and thick' (like ice-cream)

'Leaves hair glossy and manageable' (I've given up with the sarky comments)

'For that nourished effect'

'Leaves hair swishy and smelling great'

Yes yes yes, all these things are nice side-effects but what I really, really want is to get a nice clean feeling after a sweaty night where the cat has been sleeping with his butt on my head. I. Just. Want. Shampoo. That. Cleans. Hair. Can you do that for me, huh, mr Shampoo Producer?

'Removes all trace of cat-butt'

That will be the day.

That will be the day.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Of dead barn owls and dodgy correspondence

Not in my Freezer

I think I promised you all a story about a Dead Barn Owl and a passive agressive note.

Today's events have reminded me that this is owed to you. Today's events being of course an email sent by one person sitting near a printer on one floor of the 6-storey office, emailing the entire UK operation of our company and saying:
'Some personal correspondence has printed to this printer. Please let me know who you are and come and claim it'.

Which, if you are going to send to EVERYONE in the company, must of course ellicit a spate of ridiculous emails, one of which was sent by me:

'Dear XXXX' Thank you for your email. Is that my medication form? If so, please will you remove the details about the pills I take. My boss does not know I am on medication for serial obsessive disorder.'

'Dear XXXX. Is that the fake passport I was trying to print?'

'Damn! If it's the picture of the naked dog, that is my cat's. Sorry, he has an addiction.'

'Leave that photo of my wife alone please.'

Poor boy.

But he's not as overtly passive-aggressive-obsessive as that OCD fellow in one department of our firm, who five years ago decided to email everyone in the global company - more than 15,000 people - with the following:

'Dear White KitKat thief. I know who you are because someone saw you steal my white KitKat from the fridge. Please come and admit it to me.'

I could not resist the urge to REPLY TO ALL...

'Dear XXXX. I am sorry to hear about your KitKat. I had the same trouble last week. I put a dead barn owl in the fridge and when I came back the next day, it was gone. I saw some feathers around someone's desk, and I know who it is, but they have not apologised or replaced the barn owl.'

Immediately you heard a storm of laughter ripple across the office and then the emails started coming in.

'Dear Mermaid

I am so sorry for eating your barn owl. I was trying to resist but it looked so nice.' (this was from our CEO)

'Dear Mermaid

I had the same experience with a horse. When will this thievery ever stop?'

...and so forth...

Eventually, IT had to send out an anodyne email to all, requesting people not to send aggressive emails about chocolate bars and asking that people do not reply all.

Seconds after that email came in, the head of IT rang me.

"That email was not referring to you. We are killing ourselves laughing about the barn owl. Best email we've ever seen and the man deserved it."

I had forgotten about the incident until I returned to my firm, 3.5 years after leaving it.

From the chap in the post room, through to the sales guys and even the CEO, everyone remembered the dead barn owl and said it was one of their fondest memories of me.

I am still not sure whether that is entirely complimentary, but at least I can stash my roadkill in the fridges here without people stealing them again.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

So... the stalker has been stalked

Old viewers of my blog will have fond memories of my stalkingJeremy Paxman, Gary Oldman and that most wonderfully Byrnian-nosed Alan Rickman.

Snape in a Cape. My hero.

While that was all fun and no real harm came of that, apart from the time I broke into Paxo's North London house and shaved his cat - how we can laugh about it now! - it now seems that the Mermaid has herself been stalked.

Has been stalked? I meant, is being stalked. You see, a string of failed relationships saw Mermins take to the interwebs in order to find herself a suitable mer-man. And by suitable, she means one that stays. And by stays, she means one that a) puts up with her referring to herself in the third person and b) one that she wants to stay.

Anyway, reluctantly after my last relationship ended, I decided a) to stop referring to myself in the third person and b) get back on the sea-horse as it were. So I agreed to go on a date with some dude I'd been facebook friends with but had not had any contact with prior to one phone call arranging a 'date'.

BZZZZT! Wrong move, Mermaid!

From date one, the guy was telling me that he'd fallen in love with me and wanted to marry me. While this was of course very flattering, and I made allowances for the fact that he was American Italian - therefore pushy and passionate - I did not quite recognise all the signs of possessiveness, and so I took all his declarations with a sense of humour and went along with it.

Second date showed some weird traits. While again professing his love for me in a restaurant, he started talking about marriage. Our Marriage. In the SPRING. As a joke, I said: 'You've not even told your mum you're getting married and already you're planning the wedding?'

A few seconds later I went to the ladies' loo and while washing my hands, the door to the toilet swung open and shut. He was right outside, pushing the door.

"What are you doing?" I said, creeped out.

"I was hurt by you rebuffing my love for you" he said, explaining (explaining? Weirdo) that my comment about his mum had hurt him.

Now I know that you will all be saying Mermins, run for the hills. But you see I'd just come out of a relationship with a man I was wildly in love with. Suddenly having some guy for the FIRST TIME IN MY LIFE actually tell me he loved me was overwhelming. I could not get my mind in gear.

So I agreed to a third date. On this date, he was perfectly normal. So I put aside that growing feeling in my gut - exacerbated by about 10 texts and 6 phone calls each day from him - that I should head for the hills and run, preferably armed with a machete.

On the fourth date, when I went to his (shared) house and stayed overnight for church, the first thing he did was start shouting because I still had a photo of my ex on my facebook. He made me delete it, then immediately took a picture 'of us' for his facebook page.

I told him then that I was going to get up and get out but he apologised profusely and stupidly I stayed over (don't worry folks, I had the stubbornness to refuse to share his bed and stayed on an air mattress). During this time, he referred to his housemates as 'demons', lost his temper, ignored everything I said and generally annoyed me.

I didnt speak with him until Tuesday, during which conversation I explained that I wanted space and that he was being too intense. He agreed to back off.

Weds he explained that he was being intense because of things I was doing and, in some cases, I accepted a couple of his points and apologised.

Thursday we met up and I explained that I didn't want to go out with him unless he took it right back to square one and gave me my space. He agreed but actually didn't hear anything I said, because on Friday, he rang me to squeal about how I was taking a youth group at my church that evening and hadn't invited him, then how I had arranged to meet my best friend to take her to dinner to congratulate her on her engagement. As this was the first time I'd seen her since she got engaged in August, I wanted it to be just her me and her fiance.

Well he kicked up such a psychotic emotional blackmail rant about this that I dumped him - by phone.

But would he accept that? No! I had to spend more than an hour going round in circles on the phone while he insisted on meeting up with me the next day for a picnic! I had to get my friend to listen into the call so I could have some back-up!

Saturday he peppered me with texts because I'd removed him from facebook and cleaned my entire friends list (was worried that he'd try to send abusive messages to my ex, with whom I am still friends and who is looking more and more like Prince Charming next to this fruitloop).

Sunday he apologised for all of them and asked me if I was prepared not to be selfish and spend an hour with him to say goodbye!

Sunday evening he told me he still loved me and did I want a second chance before he started dating other victims - I mean, girls.

I ignored.

Monday he asks me if I want a massage and some soup. Again, I ignored his texts.

You may ask why I don't block his number. the reason is I want to keep tabs on this guy and have proof of his weirdness.

But if he does try anything, I intend to post the following letter to him:

"Dear Stalker

You are getting this letter because evidently you find it hard to accept the word NO.

I'm not sure what part of the word 'No' you don't understand. Is it the NNNNNN or is it the OOOOOOOOH?

Whatever it is, you are an absolute fruit-loop. What sort of baptism of the Spirit did you have? Was it 110% proof Vodka? Because it sure as hell wasn't anything like the Christian spirit of tenderness, gentleness, respect etc that we are supposed to show.

In fact, it's not even common sanity. Never in my life have I met anyone with such terrible emotional mental behaviour as you, outside of people who actually have diagnosed mental illnesses. And it's excusable in their cases.

You're probably still keeping your mother's umbilical cord in a jar somewhere in your room. Do you dress up as her at night? Because, Mr Whackjob Bates, you seriously have some issues to work out.

You accused me of having issues because I didn't allow myself to love you. Matey, that was not an issue, that was self-preservation. In addition to this, my friend Clare made me open my Christmas present early - it was a knife block - just in case you happened to wait outside my house, although because you are so wrapped up in your own pathetic gonad-driven self you paid so little attention to where I lived that you probably would end up in Scotland.

You also think that we have stuff in common so therefore we must get married. After two weeks of knowing each other you are so sure I'm the woman for you? Listen you gimp-sniffing freak-eyed loon, just because we like the same things does not mean I am your soul-mate.

For example, I love dogs, art and men in uniform, but I would not marry Hitler.

Because of your utter failure to realise that you have serious self-esteem issues, low social awareness, possible Aspergers and definitely some creepy, sperm-led emotional weakness that you think is love but which is just a sign that your corrupted little demonic spermatosa need to spawn the child of Satan in some human female and usher in the Apocalypse, you really are never never never never never never never never never never (etc) going to become my husband.

I would rather suck the toes of a flea-ridden tramp than kiss you. I would rather smear my face in the supporating puss-filled udder of a four-day-dead Mongolian Yak killed by an outbreak of the Bubonic Plague than ever, ever, ever see you again this side of Eternity.

And let me also get this straight: on the other side of eternity, there is an everlasting restraining order put upon you.

I'd say 'so bite me' but as you're too thick to realise that I am being rude to you and you'd take that as an invitation to partake of our enduring love, I won't. I will merely say that I am keeping my new knife set very, very sharp. And on me."

At least he loves me

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Passive Aggression

The modern office is the best place for passive aggression. We are no longer allowed to beat minions with jagged broom-handles, nor are we allowed to stand over a colleague and berate them soundly with a volley of fitting, if unhallowed, epithets.

However, passive aggression is alive and flourishing in every office up and down the country - notes on microwaves, snippy emails, post-its left on the computer keyboard.

Many of these can take the form of anonymity - post-its are perfect for this.

Two of my favourites include a post-it left on my keyboard by the cleaner/Facilities: "Please don't feed the mice".

This referred to my leaving a box of cookies on my desk.

The second was an a4 sheet of paper sellotaped to the fridge, which read:

"Dear 'Bounty' Thief.. you know who you are"... which you can read for yourself below.


It's a doozy - no doubt written by the same person who, four years ago, complained about the theft of a White KitKat, which resulted in the whole Barn Owl Incident. More on that in another post.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Pensions, loan sharks and mermaids

My word! the Voices of Middle England have spoken. For shame! instead of bickering why not take the best ideas of both sides of the story and forge something positive, such as a solution to the problems of individuals not saving enough, the govermnent unable to bail people out and not having enough to live on in retirement.

We had a similar experience in Mermedonia a few years back. In the early part of the 19th Century, we had a massive power cut that lasted for 40 years. This resulted in a huge shoal of Merpeople being born - the highest for centuries - and, of course, 200 years later they're all coming up for retirement.

Working past 185 is not an option for many, as by now their fins require too much medical treatment and long-term care, as we know, is a hidden cost of retirement that many individuals and the goverment of the UK are not clear enough about.

Meanwhile the industry itself is proud of its high-cost protection packages but of course neither the State nor the average individual can afford to take out this sort of protection, let alone survive on their pensions - just as in Mermedonia.

So what did the Kingdom do? Simply this. Instead of encouraging Instant Gratification - allowing loan sharks to circle the waters with ever-enticing offers of buy now, pay later and hidden interest rate hikes - we banned such pernicious creatures from our media.

Instead, we spoke about delayed gratification - the need to put away those sand dollars now in order to enjoy life to the fullest after retirement.

Instead of making pensions boring, we spoke to individuals about what they wanted out of life, and helped them to see the financial reality of what they needed to do now in order to benefit later and to fulfil their dreams.

A pipe dream you may say. A mere fantasy. Maybe not. Sun Life of Canada has just launched its Sense Check at 60 - one of the most erudite and based-on-reality pieces of research that even those with basic fiscal literacy can understand.

If the government can encourage people to save more and to explain why in words and language that they can understand, and offer better tax incentives for savers, then we won't need all these clever products. People will be saving for a purpose and will be rewarded for doing so.

Monday, August 23, 2010

The Road Trip From Hell

Google's Chinese Traffic Jam
Just imagine, you're driving cross-country for the weekend, a simple journey of 100km on a multi-lane highway.

You've packed some fruit and crisps, some fizzy drink and charged up the iPod, ready for the road ahead.

But as you hit the heavy traffic, you wonder whether you made a mistake. By the time you are ensnarled in a long tail of non-budging traffic, your thoughts are on escape.

At this point, many of you might want to turn around and head back. But in the case of these thousands of Chinese drivers, turning around is NOT an option - they have been stuck on the highway for more than nine days. Read the full story here: China's 100km long traffic jam

They have been caught up in a traffic jam since 14th August and it is expected to last until the END OF SEPTEMBER.

Of this such Hollywood movies are made. And insanity. And a fervent, pathological hatred of fruit, crisps, fizzy drink, your iPod and the stinking, sweaty friends you were travelling with.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Barclays Bank - Payrolling the Burmese Junta

Augn San Suu Kyi

So it seems the unethical bank hasn't just been providing financing for Mugabe in Zimbabwe - it has been helping to line the pockets of the people who are keeping freedom fighter (and democratically elected president) Aung San Suu Kyi locked up under house arrest.

Now, it has been discovered that Barclays Bank has been providing money to government officials and businesses. In embarrassment and as quietly as possible, it has agreed to pay £190m fines for breaching US sanctions against Burma.

TUC General Secretary Brendan Barber said: 'It's a disgrace that Barclays has been violating US sanctions and doing business in Burma. Foreign financial services are helping Burmese generals to loot the country's natural wealth and to fund a military accused of committing horrendous crimes against humanity.'

General Secretary of the Federation of Trade Unions in Burma (FTUB) Maung Maung said: 'My country is the worst place in the world to be a worker. The regime uses slave labour, rape, and torture to stay in power. Unions are banned and the jails are overflowing with those who have dared to speak out.

'With sham elections happening in November, the military looks like being there for decades to come - especially if foreign financial institutions are keeping them afloat.'

This scandal must be a wake-up call for the UK Government. We already know that insurance syndicates within Lloyds of London have been doing business in Burma, and now Barclays. What else has the City of London been up to? Why is the UK government allowing its already fat cat bankers to get away with such appalling breaches of human rights?

The bank had been charged with breaking the International Emergency Economic Powers Act and the Trading with the Enemy Act between 1995 and 2006.

Well, there was another multi-national corporation doing dodgy things in other countries, which also had an eagle for its logo:

The Nazis

Barclays Bank

Monday, August 09, 2010

Loose Change: Halifax backs up my earlier post

Well folks, you mocked me for my "how to save £264 a year" post earlier this year, but it is clear from this press release from The Halifax that yours truly is not so silly after all.

£42.9million down the back of Britain's Sofas
New research from Halifax reveals that Brits are not looking after the pennies when it comes to making the most of loose change. Two thirds of Brits (65%) regularly find loose change in a variety of places which could be put to better use.

With the average Brit thinking they have £1.61 in loose change down the back of the sofa, we could literally be sitting on £42.9million across the nation*.

Loose Change League Table

Unsurprisingly, pockets top the loose change league table with two fifths (39%) of Brits regularly finding loose change in them. This is closely followed by loose change lurking at the bottom of a bag (36%), in the car (27%) and down the back of the sofa (23%). (See table 1)

The research revealed that the highest value of loose change is likely to be found in a desk drawer (£3.59), closely followed by pockets (£3.38) and in the car (£2.44).

Brits also estimate they have an average total of £17.69 floating around in these places. This amount falls to £15.43 for women but rises to £21.03 for men.

Bend it like Britain

When it comes to picking up money in the street, the average minimum amount Brits would pick up is 50p (£0.54) However, this rises to 61p for men, where as women will stop to pick up an average of 47p.

Younger generations will only stoop for higher amounts compared to older generations. For example, those aged 25-34 years would bend down for a minimum of 87p compared to those over 65 years who would stop to pick up an average minimum of 24p.

Out in the regions, stooping snobbery comes in to play with residents in Yorkshire and the Humber bending for an average minimum of 94p compared to their neighbours in the North East, who will pick up a minimum average of 24p.

However, two thirds of Brits (66%) said if they saw a penny lying in the street, they would pick it up for good luck. This rises to three quarters of women (73%) but falls to three fifths of men (58%). Residents in Wales are most likely to pick up a penny (78%) with those in London most likely to leave it lying in the street (53%).

Jam it in a Jar

It does still appear that Brits like to save their coins with three quarters (74%) keeping their loose change in a set place, such as a jar. For half (47%) of hoarders, the coins are mainly coppers, with a fifth (17%) storing mainly silver coins and just 5% reserving it for £1 or £2 coins. A third (30%) said they save any coins.

Flavia Palacios Umana, Head of Products, Halifax Savings, said: "These figures prove that we should no longer ignore our loose change but manage these small sums more wisely. The old saying 'take care of the pennies and the pounds will take care of themselves' continues to be firmly the case. We need to recognise this, instead of leaving our loose change languishing down the back of the sofa."

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Is the Queen racist?

The Queen doing a Hitler salute?

WHY WHY WHY has the Queen invited Nick Griffin to her Garden Party, when she refused to host Robert 'Slasher' Mugabe the other year? (If you want to see the link, click HERE or if you are too lazy, I've pasted it below).

Just because Mr Griffin is an MEP does not mean that the Queen has to extend the royal glove of welcome to a notorious fascist whose respect for the Commonwealth only barely extends to a grudging tolerance of Canadian and Australian bartenders (provided that they don't have Aboriginal blood and that they leave these shores after a few years).

It also irritated me that Margaret Hodge (Labour) who was quoted in the BBC story said that it was sickening that Griffin had accepted the invitation! GROW SOME BALLS Hodge!!!! You can't blame the man for accepting an invitation - blame the Queen! After all, she invited him! As our monarch she is meant to be on the side of the people and of the Commonwealth. If Griffin were in number 10, there wouldn't be any Commonwealth nations represented in England. Say what you should say, Hodge, not indulge in Establilshment suck-upism. It's pathetic. And so is the invitation to a man whose historic links with Combat-18 have been well documented.

One would hope that Prince Phillip would be rude to Griffin, but one also suspects he would find much in common, not least a lack of respect for fat kids and 'slitty eyed' students (cf Prince Phil's best Verbal Gaffes

No doubt Prince Harry will don his famous party costume to give the man a warm welcome. No wonder we can't blame the kid for his lack of taste/respect when his own grandparents seem to forget the war. King George VI would be rolling in his grave.

So what can we hope for? That the Queen will give him the cold shoulder as she refuses to pass the ham sandwiches? Or that Prince Charles will throw an organic turkey at his head? I am hoping that Princess Anne will kick him in the gluteus maximus with one of her hooves.


Read The BBC Story Here:

British National Party leader Nick Griffin has been invited to attend a garden party at Buckingham Palace this summer, royal officials have confirmed.

He received the invitation in his capacity as a member of the European Parliament (MEP) - all UK MEPs are asked as a matter of course.

Mr Griffin was set to attend a similar party last year but pulled out after an outcry over his possible appearance.

A Labour MP has described the idea of Mr Griffin attending as "sickening"

Mr Griffin failed in his attempt to win a seat at Westminster in last month's general election and the party's share of the vote fell sharply compared with its performance in European elections a year earlier.

British MEPs get tickets to one of three royal garden parties held every summer. Buckingham Palace confirmed that Mr Griffin had been invited but did not say to which of the events.

It is understood the BNP leader asked for three additional tickets for guests which he has been granted.

Labour MP Margaret Hodge, who defeated Mr Griffin at the election, said she was dismayed at the prospect.

"It sickens me that Nick Griffin has used his position as an elected representative to secure an invitation to Buckingham Palace," she said.

"The best way to deal with the BNP is the way we dealt with them in Barking & Dagenham, which is to beat them at the ballot box."

Although Mr Griffin was not an MEP at the time, he was invited last year as a guest of BNP colleague and London Assembly member Richard Barnbrook.

The possibility of him being present prompted widespread criticism, with London Mayor Boris Johnson saying the BNP leader would use the event as a "political stunt".

Mr Griffin said he could have secured a "great deal of publicity" by attending but had decided against it - although he described political reaction to the issue as "hysterical".

The BNP, which has two MEPs, is accused of stirring up racial hatred but the party says it is standing up for Britain's "indigenous population".

It has campaigned for an end to all future immigration and for the "voluntary resettlement" of non-white British citizens to their country of ethnic origin.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

BP oil spill: Don't sell shares in a panic

BP oil spill - cleaning up pelicans

A dying seagull off the Gulf of Mexico

BP oil spill, dead pelicans, fat Floridans unable to swim. Yes it's awful and should have been cleaned up by now.

The ecological price that the planet is paying for the price of BP being unprepared is enormous. I'm not decrying that, before some left-wing eco-warriors start hunting me down and throwing organic fava beans at me.

I know that, together with that Icelandic volcano still chunking out ash, we're having a grand old time of cleaning up the water and the atmosphere and it looks like we're fighting a losing battle - the more we clean up the Gulf Oil spill and the ash cloud, the fact remains that China and India are blowing out carbon and polluting the Yellow River until it runs green with toxic waste.

Gulf of Mexico seen from the air

But I'm not here to preach a green message - go to The Ecologist for that. This is mostly a financial blog. So pay heed: despite worries of a slide in the FTSE on the back of uncertainty over BP, there is no need to panic.

Don't be a nancy and start fire-selling your shares in petroleum. Take out some options or covered warrants in BP to provide yourself a cushion on the downside, and ride out the storm. Remember - long-term prospects for oil:

Lack of supply (even less, now) = more demand.
More demand = higher share prices.

Monday, June 07, 2010

Woman changes name over Thomas Cook dispute

From the news today, courtesy of Associated Press:

An angry holidaymaker has changed her name by deed poll because of a dispute with the travel agent Thomas Cook.

Austin Kettle from Ipswich changed her name to 'Mrs Lorraine Darla I Hate Thomas Cook And Its Associates Big Shot Company Treading On The Little Guy Leeks' after a row with the company.

The 26-year-old bride-to-be took the drastic action after being told that she would have to pay a fee to change her surname on the booking for her honeymoon.

Austin had made the booking under her future married name - Mrs Leeks - and was later told it would have to be changed because it did not match the maiden name on her passport.

When Thomas Cook told her she would have to pay a fee to make the amendment, she decided to change her name in protest.

Speaking about the name change, she said: "At first I was a bit upset but it was just a bit of a crazy moment and I decided to do it. I think my fiance thinks I'm crazy. The amusing thing is my fiance will have to say my new name during the wedding ceremony."

A spokesperson for Thomas Cook said: "All customers are advised that the name on their booking must match the name on their passport."

Mermaid comment:

Numpty. Austin Kettle? Should have changed that by deed poll many, many years ago.

Tuesday, June 01, 2010

Oranges and lemons

So the government is removing child trust funds, proposing high CGT penalties on investors and failing to keep inflation at target levels while interest rates remain subbornly low.

And yet it still tells us that it is committed to protecting and encouraging the 24 million savers in this country?

If it weren't so laughable, this Janus-faced, double-handed political backtracking would send me so crazy I'd have to emigrate to a more sensible country to calm down.

Such as Canada, where interest rates are rising, quality of life is, on average, improving, and there are natural gold and oil resources. Admittedly, the beer is pretty noxious and there are some dodgy neighbours to the south, but there always has to be a thorn on every rose.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

More Money Saving Tips

Go Ahead coupons 30p off. Get them here

I've also realised that there is an option for them to post the coupons to you if you do not have a printer at home. Simply click on the 'print coupons now' button and when it takes you through to the next page, you will see 'Don't have a printer?' highlighted with a link through to a field where you can insert your postal address.

Happy and healthier snacking!

Monday, April 19, 2010

Ashes to Ashes

Icelandic Volcano

He said: 'Eyjafjallajoekull', I said 'bless you'. Which was not the best way to prove to someone that you'd not been listening to a thing they had been saying but, instead, that you had been watching some students make a daisy chain collar for their dog.

'That volcano in Iceland' He sounded a little put out, so I feigned deafness and turned my full attention to the poor friend of a friend who had been telling us about the volcano in Iceland that had erupted.

That incident was last Wednesday, while about 5,000 of us Christians were at New Word Alive in Pwllheli, North Wales, enjoying uncharacteristically glorious weather and some fantastic, intriguing seminars and worship sessions, far far removed from the TV and from computers and from Twitter.

As events unfolded in the Nordic North, we eventually grasped the significance of this eruption: a giant cloud of ash mushrooming across to the northern shores of the UK, grounding all flights and causing chaos at airports. With many of our speakers - Wayne Grudem, Jerry Bridges and Rebecca Manley-Pippert among others - coming from the US, it was becoming a matter of prayer for them to be able to get their flights back home.

Still, so far, there has seemingly been more panic than particle formation in the atmosphere. According to the BBC the weather patterns are still potentially pushing this ashy formation towards this green and pleasant land; it does beg the question, however, whether some flights could have gone out already if they were heading on a southerly flight path.

Hence Gordoun Broon has flown to the rescue - bad choice of words, sorry - he motored to the rescue in his boats. The Great British Navy is about to be launched to rescue Europeans stranded in various countries. It's like Dunkirk, only without the jackboots and hundreds of ME 109s pummeling the beaches of Belgium.

Already one British destroyer is on its way, the not-so imaginatively named HMS Ocean, and one aircraft carrier, the more aptly-named HMS Ark Royal, are on their way across the Channel.

This put one friend on top investment humour form. 'Should we be investing in ships and shipping?' he asked me. Until I see the ash I'd not invest in anything else other than a good umbrella and a gas mask, I replied. Not that there is a dash of ash to be seen in the skies. I am to some extent disappointed.

Still, he has posed an interesting question. Should I have invested in Iceland on my EzXty investment market? This is a game that allows you to pretend to invest in the market and you can win prizes for moving up the leaderboard. Maybe I was too late - Iceland must be expensive now. Still, there is always the possibility that all my investments ahead of the game (s) this summer may pay out: not so much Ash but The Ashes. I've bought loads of shares in cricket clubs and in names of cricketers that I've never heard of or know anything about. Hopefully, either with the Volcano or with Middlesex County Cricket Club, I will get some points!

Monday, April 12, 2010

How to save up £264 a year without effort

Pennies from Heaven?

There used to be a saying 'look after the pennies and the pounds will look after themselves'. Such a phrase seems incongruous this day and age, where an overly materialistic society ignores small change and prefers to build up enormous debts on credit cards.

But here is a brilliant way to save £264 a year without effort - something I have been doing for several years now.

Each January, I start putting aside all my small change, ranging from 1p to 20p coins. I bag it up each month and I'll generally have about £10 of 20p coins, £5 each of 10 and 5p coins, and £1 each of 2p and 1p coins. Each month, this works out at about £22.

I then put this in my rainy day account - which is effectively the account I use for my Christmas shopping or to pay off the lion's share of those dreaded insurance and ground rent bills that always crop up in December.

Over the course of the year, this works out at 12 x £22 - £264. For people like me whose income just barely exceeds the outgoings, trying to save anything out of one's income can be a daunting task. But even the smallest coins have a place - if we are not too proud to count them up and use them!

The thing is, we don't look after the pennies, so how do we expect the pounds to look after themselves? This is not about being miserly, but about being wise stewards of what we have.

So, how to kick-start this savings habit?

1) Be Not Proud!
Don't be too proud to collect the coins and bag them up each month before taking them into your bank/building society. Pride goes before a fall...

2) Clean your house
You'd be surprised at how much is lying around in jars, in the proverbial sofa cushions, in desk drawers, in pockets and handbags and generally scattered around. While I was clearing up on saturday I discovered £3.20 worth of small change lying around. Happy days!

3) Be disciplined
Rather than raking around your purse for coppers to buy a chocolate bar, why not actually decide to go without - you'll save money and your weight will benefit!

4) Ask for bags
Your bank can give you a ream of small coin bags to help you put things aside. It's much easier to add coins to small bags over the course of a week rather than to stick it all into a jar and then have the hassle of emptying that a year

5) Savings accounts
If you have a high-interest savings account (HAHAHAH! How we laugh! I remember those - just about!) then do consider adding your savings into that each month. Should the bank base rate ever rise, then you will benefit from the additional cumulative effect of monthly or quarterly interest rate rises on your account.

Just to reiterate, Mermaid is not sitting at home in a darkened loft, counting piles of coins and laughing maniacally to herself in Scroogish glee. But I do smile every Christmas when I have a good sum to spend on presents for my family and think it's worth passing on a good tip when I can!

The Mermaid and her Accountant

As for good tips, Pizza Express is doing another great deal on two-for-one main meals and pizzas in the UK up to the 5th of May. Free Pizzas - hooray!

Happy saving!

Monday, March 29, 2010

In that place, that special place, that undefined place, the place of no return...

I shouldn't find it amusing but I do...

Having a conversation that ended up straying into danger territory about 'the place' should cause most women to tremble in their Jimmy Choos and feel sick in the pit of their stomach.

However, it just struck me with a fit of the giggles. I could not believe that I was starting to hear the same old routine phrases that I always hear. And for the first time in my life, I actually found it funny.

Why is it that its always exactly the same conversation, but just different people saying it each time! Do men use a secret script that's hidden somewhere on the internet or passed down from father to son, from uncle to goat?

Girls will know the usual phraseology and these age-old relational ripostes are about to be BUSTED. Guys, we know what you mean when you start trotting out these ridiculous lines.

So don't!

My Top Five Flake-out Sentences

1) "I'm not in a good place right now"
Surprisingly enough, neither am I. I'm currently on the toilet, trying to force the shy turtle to make his exit, while listening to your appeal for sympathy - an appeal that, ironically, is your lame excuse for breaking up. Well you try squeezing out that roast beef while listening to some whiny-assed muppet clutching around the Barrel of Bad Excuses to find a reason to break up with you. THAT'S called being in a bad place.

What's even more galling is that this 'bad place' is not really a bad place. It's not a frickin' metal shipping container secreted in the Eritrean desert, stuffed full of the carcases of rotting dogs. It's merely a place of some level of stress that is caused mostly because all your problems are swept under the carpet instead of being dealt with in a mature and grown-up way. Therefore, instead of sorting out these ongoing issues, you decide to break off a perfectly good thing because it's easier to cut and run than maintain a relationship and deal with your failings.

What you really mean: I don't fancy you any more.

2) "I don't want to hurt you but I am just so confused right now."

You're confused?!!! If you don't want to hurt us, then - don't! Seems pretty straightforward to me. Are you genuinely confused about whether or not to hurt someone? My advice would be - and this may be way out there, I know - that there is no real confusion. Either you want to hurt someone or you don't. If you don't, then don't talk such bollocks and push people away from you for no other reason than a weird sense of self-preservation.

If you DO want to hurt someone in order to break with them, then just do it. Don't be confused about it.

What you mean: I don't fancy you any more

3) "You deserve better than me"
Yeah.... You really don't believe that, do you? You've probably met some lady with quite big gazungas, and would really relish the opportunity to bury your head in them and go 'BRRRRRRRRRRRRRRR' without feeling any guilt attached to the fact that you are still attached to another woman while treating yourself to some maraca action.

Either that, or you really have such low self-confidence that you can't accept the fact that some girl - ie, myself - has been dumb enough to say yes when you asked her out. In which case, yes, we really do deserve better, and you should snap out of your morbid self-pity and get a frickin life rather than drag us down to the lowly level of your martyrdom.

What you mean: I don't fancy you any more

4) "I think you and I want different things"
No shit, Sherlock!! Men and women want different things - WOAH, WOAH, WOAH, WOAH, WOAH.... Wait a minute... hold the PHONE! Men want different things from women? Wait? What the ... I have to completely change my whole world view about everything that I have ever known or believed or held to be true!!!

I always thought that we women also wanted to discuss in detail the inability of Johnny Wilkinson to convert a try in the Ireland v England Grand Slam Match, while scratching our bellies, drinking Stella and wishing that we could dive our heads face-first into an enormous pair of gnorks and go 'BRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRR' into that heaving, sweaty cleavage.

I always believed that men, in turn, thought about kittens more than 30 times a day, worried whether their shoes did match the handbag and needed to research the best type of conditioning masks that would not only protect the colour, but also enhance the strength of the hair shaft to prevent unsightly breakage.

AND NOW YOU TELL ME THAT WE WANT DIFFERENT THINGS????? Oh my gosh. I feel so stupid. How could I have been so visually challenged?

What you mean: I don't fancy you any more.

5) "I need to be on my own right now."
You're a self-absorbed computer geek who can't maintain a proper relationship with a real woman, and need to go back into the recesses of your room and whack one out to a picture of Lara Croft, naked.

What you mean: I am a serial masturbator.


When mentioning this to a male friend, he wrote: "Seems we've been busted, guys! No this script, it has been passed down through generations. It was shared when the Egyptians were building the Pyramids, when the Romans invaded Gaul, in the trenches of the Somme, broadcast on the wireless, when we sent rockets to the moon and now via the wonders of the Internet."

Wednesday, March 03, 2010

Tuesday, March 02, 2010

Teen bloggers

Dear Diary
Today I saw my new tutor. He was SO fit! I liked the way his tie hangs.
My tyre blew up on the way to class, I had to push my bike up the street

No, my dear bloggers, the Mermins is not regressing into childhood. For her teenage years were spent writing reams of epic poetry, fairytales and novellae. Not pouring out her soul in public angst in some cyber-medium that hovers between the very personal and the 'I don't care who knows about my menstrual cycle'.

Which is what the Merms is ranting about today. Teen bloggers. Bloggers who don't have anything real to blog about. Youngsters today are being encouraged by thoroughly irresponsible tutors to go online and tell the world about the music they listen to, the boyz they love and the girls they want to kiss.

It's appalling. While browsing on Homo Escapeons earlier, he first raised the spectre of this dire trend to vent among the illiterate younger class. Not content with Bebo or Facebook or MySpace, they have ventured into the world of blogging with personal pages that look uber-cool and yet have absolutely nothing to say of any interest at all.

Now that's not entirely true, some youngsters have a wonderful and wicked sense of humour, or a real concern about what's going on outside their pampered little lives. But the majority of teen blogs I've stumbled on have nothing more to say than "I love Edward" in various spectrae of text-speech.

If only the Cyberspace were not so capacitous that it could subsume all this blether and drivel. Why does it upset me so, you may ask? What harm could a teenyblogger possibly do by outpouring their emo-angst online?

Sigh. Life is so unfair

I'm glad you asked.

1) They're not EMO. At least the EMO have something interesting to say. The darkest moments most of these chastity-ring-wearing airheads have to say is their 'poetry' about death, candles and mirrors. Everyone who has ever been 17 has written poems about death, candles and mirrors. It's just not interesting to anyone but you!

2) They don't use proper words. Blogs are there to explore the power of the written word. How can you honestly fill a blog space with lol, strdy wuz gr8! <3 da 3 brgers @ Maccyd's! IMMD?

3) If it's not interesting, don't expect people to read anything. I read one poor soul's tedious blog where they write about a new song they downloaded off iTunes each day. The premise is very interesting - but they don't actually do a critique of the song. All we're told is what the song is and a new picture skiffled from iStoxx of a rabbit or a cat in a hat. If this were an exploration of virtual Dadaism, I would be impressed. As it was, I wanted to poke my eyes out with a spoon.

4) If it's not interesting, don't expect people to post anything. Another young female student was complaining that no-one wanted to post anything on her blogs. But they were so dull. "I went to college, I finished my dissertation (YAAAY) and then I had a pizza. Yummy." IS ANYONE LISTENING TO ME??? No, honey, you were given a $34,000 car for your sweet 16th and you have the mental agility of handcream.

5) If you're going to post such drivel, then at least put up pictures of yourself so we can mock you to your face, a la David Thorne, whose account has been temporarily suspended, but was arguably the best blog that has ever been, or ever will be, on the face of the internet. Although it was probably his mocking of people to their face that caused his account to be suspended.

6) All failing, stick up a picture of a kitten or George Clooney, naked. At least you will generate some mild interest from middle-aged women who tend to like both those things.

As it is, I am sick of having to wade through drivel when I am on the lookout for surprising and interesting new blogs. I have found that the best ones by far are not from students that have all the time in the world to be creative, but who don't actually do anything with their time. The best blogs are from real people who have seen and overcome real problems, who take the time to explain things in a level of detail that thrills, entertains and draws us in.

I'm not classing myself as one of these. Not by any means. But I do know that, if I were a teenager, my blog would be a heck of a lot more interesting. And If I could hack into anyone else's blogs, there would be carnage - delightful, beautiful, carnage conducted in the ether:

Today I saw my new tutor. He was SO fit! I liked the way his tie hangs. I want to hang it tightly around his neck until he DIES.


Today SUX!!! I HATE MATHS (lol)!!! WANNA SLEEEEEEEEP. Then sleep, my child, sleep. Drink this drink. It will make all the bad maths go far, far away.....


My tyre blew up on the way to class, I had to push my bike up the street and then the girl of my dreams came up to me. I stopped on a slight hill, which made me sweat even more as I tried to stop the bike from rolling backwards, although my weak and puny girly arms were straining every muscle. She smiled sweetly, grabbed my bicycle pump, and shoved it right up my////////// ACCOUNT SUSPENDED

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Things I will not rant about this year: 4. THE MIXED METAPHOR

Mix it up, baby!

I've been getting a raft of poorly-written features from various financial freelances. Now this is surprising, because financial journalists are usually much more restrained in their use of vocabulary and what my former English teacher used to call 'purple prose'.

Compared to the political commentators in the national press, whose articles are more self-congratulatory than informative, or the fashion writers, who mistake criticism of the famous for investigative reporting, financial journalists usually provide you with a record of what has happened, combined with (hopefully) informed analysis of why.

Usual formula:
Banks have raised their dividends to XXX from XXX, because they want to do XXX. Sum Expert says: "XXXX".
The end.

Which is how it should be. But recently, I've been getting copy riddled with inaccurate information, plenty of Warren Buffets and - horror of horrors - mixed metaphors.

Given that the market is not great for freelancers at the moment, you would think they would show more determination to produce great copy and therefore secure repeat business.

Not so.

Here are some howlers for your delectation and amusement, and for my rantification:

The Three-way mixed metaphor:

"The investment and asset management world has been turned on its head and we are now charting unknown waters, but Elizabeth is confident that AGI has a winning strategy."

"Markets are good and investors are being urged to dive right in and bite off the top of the cherry."

And my favourite, a six-way mixed metaphor from someone whose writing many of you will read in the national press:

“Beating the herd to the punch can sometimes be the best recipe for success, and JPMorgan’s Indian Investment Trust is proof of this particular wisdom. While the rest of the world has woken up to India only relatively recently, JPMorgan’s Indian Investment Trust has been quietly beavering away there for years.”


Monday, February 22, 2010

Neither a buyer nor a seller be

Cast thy bread upon the waters

After having had a look at my share account on etrade I've got several bones to pick with my own self for getting involved with an online service. It's not that my account has done badly; in fact, my punt on beer and the rise of alcoholism post-crunch has paid off handsomely.

What does disturb me is that it costs just so much to make a trade. Given the proportion of money-to-fee that I have the online site, it means that any sale I make will result in my paying far more in fees than I will have made up in profits.

The resolution to this is, of course, to invest more into the site. But that is going to prove to be a false economy: the UK version of the site is moving across to Waterhouse, whose fees are even higher than those I am paying on eTrade. The higher the amount that is in there, the more likely it is that I will have to shell out a higher transfer fee if I don't want to go with Waterhouse.

So if I wait, I will get stung in the transfer; if I transfer now to a different provider, I get stung for commensurate fees and if I sell, any profit I made on the back of the depressed drunks of the UK will be evaporated.

What remains for me is to grin and bear the loss and sell out now. I may be able to get a paltry double-digit return back after all the fees.

Which brings me to my main point: even if you think you know how to trade, don't unless you really do have a lot of money to invest in stocks and shares and can absorb any trading fees; b) you have the time to trade frequently - more than 5 times a month - and therefore will benefit from lower transactional fees.

Otherwise, you might as well write it off as a good idea at the time.

harrumph! The good book says to cast your bread upon the waters and in seven days it shall return unto thee. I don't think it was referring to online share dealing sites as far as skinflints like the mermaid are concerned.

Wednesday, February 03, 2010

Things I will not rant about: 3. The Citizen Reporter

Now I'm no fan of daytime TV, nor do I advocate GMTV as a medium by which intelligent information is disseminated effectively to the nation.

However, latest shock! Horror! claims (excessively hyped up in The Mirror) reveal that an angry public has prompted an investigation by Ofcom. You can read the story here: GMTV blasted again after expert claims breast milk is as ‘bad as cola’ -

Quite simply, what was expressed by a professional midwife as a genuine medical opinion about not letting your children drink breast milk after the age of two has been jumped on by the great unwashed as a terrible thing to say.

Why? If all the people who wrote/phoned in to complain were all medical professionals with experience in paediatric care, then yes, I think Ofcom should complain. But they were nearly all mothers who have let their children breastfeed well into toddlerhood. One panellist admitted that her four-year-old still breastfeeds. (Psych).

Seriously, that is weird. Let the child grow up, woman. Do you want it to have an Oedipal complex? Do you want it to turn into the character from Little Britain?

Back to the theme. this brand of citizen journalism really bugs me. Why do we have to listen to the voice of Mr Joe Average about the state of the economy? Why do I care that Tracey Shadwick, 22, of East Finchley, thinks that John Terry should still be captain of the England football team despite his philandering? Why is it important that Jane Doe of the Home Counties believes the midwife's comments were reprehensible? Is Joe Average an economist? No. Is Tracey a renowned sports commentator? I don't think so. And Jane Doe's children are locked up in Thailand for smuggling hash on their year out from Oxbridge.

Let's get this straight: I pay a licence for my TV, and despite this, I have no control over the content that is beamed into my living room from any of the channels. What I do want is informed, intelligent opinion that will help me make informed, intelligent decisions about where to invest, whether to sell my flat, how to feed my children (if I had any, that is).

I do not want 15 minutes of my precious time taken up with the half-baked rants of some lonely people who need to voice their opinions on every single matter on which they have no proven authority. All it does is preclude freedom of speech, as was the case with the midwife on GMTV, whose comments are being investigated by Ofcom. As a result of which 'citizen reporting' by the great unwashed, GMTV will have to make a grovelling apology - especially as its weather reports are sponsored by Nestle (or were) - and no doubt the midwife will be held to account for giving her opinion.

By treating this professional woman like a social pariah in this way, the public has reacted to her in exactly the same NIMBY-istic, Voice of Offended Britain, way that they reacted to the BBC showing the BNP Leader Nick Griffin on Question Time before Christmas.


STOP giving opinionated people the right to express views publicly when they have no professional experience to back up their view.

This is how the next GMTV - or even radio phone-in (don't get me started on radio phone-ins) should go.

Lorraine Kelly (for it is she): "Now we go to Lucinda Kirby of High Wycombe. Lucinda, what's your view on whether policemen should carry tasers?"

Lucinda: "Well I have to say..."

Lorraine: "sorry Lucinda, can I just ask if you've ever been arrested? Or a member of your family? Are you or a member of your family in the police force? Have you studied the effects of tasering on the public? Do you work in the medical profession? Have you ever used, or seen, at taser?

Lucinda: "No, I'm a teller for Ladbrokes."

Lorraine: "I'm going to have to stop you there. Thanks for calling in, Lucinda. That's cost you £3 on our premium rate phone lines."

Lorraine Kelly

Friday, January 22, 2010

Things I Will Not Rant About This Year: 2

Human Bedwarmers

This is the second thing that I will not rant about this year: idiot inventions that should have been thought through before being given a massive marketing campaign to the general public.

I refer, of course, to late-breaking news that Holiday Inn is using 'human bed warmers' to warm up your bed before you sleep.

Telegraph story here

This is an utterly moronic idea, no doubt dreamed up by a half-wit village idiot who managed somehow to turn on his TV and successfully watch a session of Dragon's Den on TV.

Propelled to actually engage his cranium in something other than wall-banging, he began to form the dusty vestiges of some images in his head.

"What's happening?" He asked himself. He was thinking. For the first time in his what barely passed for a life, his limp brain began to work. "I could come up with an idea and get some money!"

He looked around his room for some inspiration, although he didn't know what that word meant. Kettle... he could invent a kettle that filled itself with water... no, that would take too much knowledge. His cat... he could invent a cat that fills kettles with water - no, no, cats hate water.

His eyes smarted with the pain of trying to think for more than 11 seconds. He closed his eyes and decided to get into bed, exhausted by the mental exertion.

His sheets were cold. Then it hit him! The cat had thrown the kettle at his head. "Owch" he said, rubbing his forehead with his cold hand. "My bed is so cold! Why can't I warm it up?" There was one warm patch on the bed where he'd wet himself, and a dry warm patch next to him. It felt good. "this is where the cat was sleeping! If only I had lots of cats to warm my whole bed." he mused.

Eureka! "My cat could warm up people's beds for them. Wouldn't they be pleased?" And in his excitement, he ran around the room wetting himself.

He rang the BBC. "I've got a great idea for Dragon's Den!" he shouted.

"The time sponsored by Accurist will be 3, 45 and 6 seconds precisely... beep beep beep".

After four hours of waiting for the lady to stop telling him the time, he decided to write to them instead. He found a crayon and a piece of paper and managed to remember to address it and put a stamp on it. It was a day of firsts.

Some time later, he was faced by the Dragons.

"You're a bleedin' lunatic. I'm out"

"As a woman, I like cats, but I don't want a bed full of cats. Does your cat have fleas? How would the cat stay in the bed? Have you thought this through? I'm out."

"I, too, will be out, but first I want to humeeeliate you publicly for several minutes."

"Sounds cheap. I like that. Cheap is good. But I'm allergic to cats. Could you yourself warm up the bed?"

"I suppose so..."

And the dream was born. With Peter Jones' career advertising cheap car insurance on the rocks after being caught with a snow leopard and a line of coke in the Holiday Inn, he needed to find something to get himself back in the game. He rang up Holiday Inn.

"I've found a way to repay you the loss of your reputation. Human bed warmers".


Is there anything more dunce than getting people wearing all-in-one body suits made of towels to roll around in your sheets for 5 minutes?

There are so many things wrong with this I'll just have to list my top five:

1) The point of going away is so that someone else makes your bed and you have fresh, clean, cool, ironed, unspoilt linen sheets to slip into.

2) Hot water bottles

3) ROHYPNOL (drink this while we warm your bed - I don't think so)

4) Who farted? Wasn't me... "All part of the warming service, sir."

5) This wasn't what I expected from room service.

JUST NO. NO NO NO NO NO. Holiday Inns, your bed warming service is the biggest waste of PR money you will have ever spent. You are foolish beyond all foolishness. Someone's head (rest) should roll for this.

And you are very lucky I am not ranting about anything this year, or you really would have known what I think.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

How To Get Free Stuff (Part 2)


For those of you who love a cheesy snack, there are TWO fabulous offers on the Philadelphia website Click here

You can get 50p off a normal-sized tub of the stuff if you do a very short survey; you can also get 30p off a tub of splendips - a great snack or lunch-on-the-go.

They both work well on PCs, but if you are on a Mac, they will work best in Safari as Firefox won't print them out on the MaCoupon downloader.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

How to Get Free Stuff (part 1)


Can't afford to feed the cat, let alone your teenagers?

Then don't worry!

There are so many excellent offers out there in the wide world, so if you are feeling the pinch after Christmas - and like me, you won't get paid until the end of the month - then take a look at these offers to get Free Stuff.

For many of these, you will need to install the MacCoupon Printer software, but this is free. It means the bar codes will print out properly so you can use them in stores.

Free 100g Milka chocolate bar
Milka Chocolate Bar
You have to play a little game online, but if you go to the website and stick with the game (it takes less than a minute), you will get a voucher for a free bar of chocolate. The birdsong and buzzing bee noises are a little annoying, so best do this at home!
Click here for details: Milka

Monday, January 11, 2010

Things I Will Not Rant About This Year

Angry old woman
Things I Will Not Rant About This Year (part one)

1) Slow women who leave it until the last possible second to search down their voluminous handbags for their travel passes, thereby clogging up the ticket barriers during rush hour.

2) Slow women who have no spacial awareness when walking on the underground/going up stairs/loitering at the bottom/top of escalators, mouths half-open, catching flies.

3) Women who read the two above posts and decided to get on their feminist high horses and ride off in all directions. Let's face it, I am a woman and I notice that 90% of all corporeal delays in traversing the underground are caused by women and their lack of spacial awareness. Men are not so slow, nor do they lose their passes in great big handbags.

4) People who watch you running for the bus and, instead of holding the bus, merely smile and say 'shame' when you get to the stop.

5) People who ask me 'is that your cat?' just after I have called him, he has come running towards me, and has climbed onto my back.

NO, this is some random cat that for some reason likes the smell of my tuna paste deodorant, and can't get enough of it. Sometimes it takes me four hours to unpick his claws from my neck.

6) Men who cannot commit to a relationship. (This might be one resolution I have to break)

7) Random phone calls from PRs asking if I've received the press release. If I were interested in any way, shape or form in the fact that your poxy little Midlands-based trading firm has hired a new information technician, then a) it would have been the slowest news week on record b) I would have called you. If you need to talk to someone, please, call the Samaritans, because they care a whole lot more than I do.

8) People who ask a question, and interrupt you half-way through with a 'so what you're saying is'... before telling you something completely different from what you were going to say. LISTEN AND LEARN, people. LISTEN AND LEARN.

9) People who make false judgements about something you have said or done.

10) People who tell you 'you need a break, you need some "you time"', before asking you immediately when you can next come round and see them/when they can come round and be fed by you etc etc. IF I WANTED TO SHARE MY 'ME' TIME I WOULD GO ON BIG BROTHER. Any free time that I get to myself I want BY myself, without having to answer the phone 24/7. If you want to see me, book me in advance (this might also explain why point 6 is going to be increasingly difficult for me).

11) People who assume that just because you have a cat, therefore you hate dogs. This was a reason why one bloke did not follow up on the first date, because he liked dogs. I love dogs!! I live in a flat in the middle of a city, dumbnuts. Might that be the reason I don't have an Irish Wolfhound? Loser.

12) I will not call people 'loser'.

13) In addition, I will not rant about:
Clusters of foreign exchange students clogging up the streets at lunchtime, gazing in Oxford Street shop windows and preventing me from enjoying my 32-second lunch break;
Old people who push in front of you to try to get on the bus before 9am;
People who don't add up their shopping and get to the queue in front of you and then can't pay for a couple of items (I've usually paid for them, unless I recognise them from the time before. Losers);
People who think washing is optional;
People who gossip;
Big Brother;
Any reality TV shows;
People who moan about the weather;
Hollyoaks (is there ever a day when it ISN'T on?);
People who think using a guitar in church is akin to slaughtering a goat on the communion table and daubing the walls of the creche with its warm blood;
People who slaughter goats on the communion table;
People who ask my advice, then ignore it to their detriment and I have to restrain myself from saying 'I told you so';
People who say 'I told you so';
Avocado sneaking its way into sandwiches and salads;
Rocket Leaves - EVERYWHERE, on EVERY MENU.

I've reached an impasse, but this list is no means exhaustive.

Happy new year.

Wednesday, January 06, 2010

RIP Baby Girl Patches


I remember when you were just a wee kitten, bossed around by two older female cats. You snuck into my room each night and slept on my bed. Last time I saw you, you were playing 'boo' and having a great time of it. Sleep well, little girl. I'll miss you x

Monday, January 04, 2010

Wither the arrows?

Andy Brough

There are so many headlines about which way the markets will go. '2010 will be a volatile year'; 'UK deficit warning from City economists'; 'Europe's chief executives see sluggish 2010'; 'Optimism rises for recruitment'... and so on ad infinitum.

I am reminded of a sage City fund manager, one Andy Brough, who had evidently had enough of personal finance journalists ringing him up to ask him his take on the market (this was back in 2004). His comment still stands in the annals of FT history:

'Look, we believe the markets could go up. But then again, they could go down. If not, they might go sideways.'