Thursday, 28 January 2010

Amongst our Weaponry...

I've just received a spam email from "Business Link in the South East", the terribly useful quango without whose support my business would collapse overnight (not).


5 ways to make the most of the recovery

it reads:
The UK economy has emerged from recession. Figures show the economy grew 0.1% in the last three months of 2009.

Guide to planning for recovery

There may still be tough times ahead, but the announcement of growth is a step in the right direction. To help your business benefit as the recovery advances, our Advisers have compiled guidance on key areas, including:

- Retaining and motivating your people.
- Keeping costs under control.
- Planning for growth.
- Marketing.

They missed one out:

- Ensure your email marketing campaigns employ a basic level of numeracy

Tuesday, 26 January 2010

Just a quick thought

When the VAT rate was cut to 15%, fuel duty was increased to compensate.

Has the fuel duty rate been dropped again now that VAT is back up to 17.5%?

Sunday, 24 January 2010

Refusing refuse

The Land Rover went into service today for one of its secondary justifications - as a load lugger to transport a heap of junk to the tip. Ironically, the reason the junk needed to be cleared quickly was to make space to park the Land Rover out of the way. I console myself that it would have had to be cleared away at some point anyway, though.

The junk consisted of:
  • one old tyre
  • a decomposing wood and plastic cold frame, now in about 8 pieces
  • the remains of a plastic garden table, and
  • our old broken kitchen hob

None of this is permitted in our weekly grey bin.

Now, my council is willing to collect this from my house, but will charge me the princely sum of £34 (unless they classed the remains of the cold frame as more than one item, in which case a further £36 would be payable). The very much cheaper alternative, which I opted for, is for me to take it in person to the collection centre where I can deposit it for free. The only downside of that option is that I have to park next to the correct skip, each marked with one of a range of categories, none of which quite fitted. I decided that "Household Waste" covered a wide range of items. After all, all of the items were waste, and all had come from my household.

Anyway, whilst driving there and back, I realised the delicious irony. Here I was, driving my 4x4, consuming diesel, and emitting CO2. Why? Because the local Council - who already run a waste collection lorry past my house every week - refuse* to allow me to load the refuse onto it. Why? Because the amount and type of refuse they will collect is strictly limited. Why? For environmental reasons...

*Yes, that was deliberate...

Wednesday, 20 January 2010

Long time no blog...

Gosh it's been a while. Almost long enough to forget how to work this "Blogger" thing. Not quite, though, so here I am again. If anyone is still here, patiently waiting for me to pipe up again, then do say "Hi".

Well, the snow came and went, and I am now a devotee of Land Rover. They really are quite fun. Stepping back into a BMW was a bit of a shock, though - so close to the ground! And so fast! I think I had better get thoroughly acclimatised to the BMW before dragging the 911 out of the garage, otherwise my head may explode.

The additional time and effort of coping with the snow while still keeping up with client demands does mean that not a lot of time was left for blogging, though. Sorry*.

Some news did catch my eye. None of it was (on its own) enough to justify a whole post on its own, but it does add up to a nice point. You see, we have had 13 years now (almost) of a regulation-happy government. Over that time, the nest of regulations has become steadily more impenetrable, and steadily more self-contradictory. For example, if I hire someone new I must ask to see documents proving their entitlement to work here, but I dare not ask this of a UK citizen in case they take offence at the implicit racism. And how do I know they are a UK citizen, until I have seen their documents? But that is just one isolated example.

After all this time, however, the thicket has become so dense and so twisted that it has started to hurt its maker. Over the last few weeks, the regulations began to hurt what the Government itself wanted to do. We have heard the following:

- Schoolteachers who couldn't get to their place of employment used to go to the nearest school that they could reach, so that they could cover for other absent teachers. That way, children (who are often very local) can still be taught. Now, of course, they cannot becuase their CRB checks are specific to their place of employment. So although they are fully CRB checked and it is officially recognised that they do not pose a threat to the children of village 'A', they are somehow unsafe to teach the children of village 'B'.

- Airport scanners will protect us from terrorist bombs, albeit with the downside of revealing full images of our large anatomical parts**. We can't use them to scan children, though - that would breach child pornography laws. Am I the only one who is relieved that Al-Queda members are all infertile and therefore will not possibly be able to locate a child to carry the bomb for them?

- Farmers would once-upon-a-time invest in snowplough attachments for their tractors, and would be paid to go out after heavy snowfall and clear the worst of the snow away. They won't now, though. Why? Because Customs & Excise now come down hard on any use of red diesel on the public highway.

- Local Authorities were offered bulk road salt at a reduced price last year, but declined. Why? Because Whitehall said they needed 6 days' supply and they already had that. If they bought more, then questions would have been asked. People could have been disciplined for taking some initiative wasting public money.

- Schools that could have stayed open didn't. They knew that only some of their pupils would have made it - and that the rest would have been classed as unauthorised absences, with all the attendant attention from Ed Balls that this would have attracted. So the target set in order to keep pupils in school resulted in pupils being unable to go to school, as it was closed.

See? Regulation hurts.

*unless you enjoyed the break

**Together with, as Stuart Sharpe pointed out in the House of Comments Podcast, small body parts.... for some gentlemen...

Wednesday, 6 January 2010

The Best 4x4xfar

I know I said that my Land Rover was due to arrive on Thursday, but after some simply excellent customer service from James French (who I can now heartily recommend!) my Defender was prepared for sale, serviced and MOT'd in double quick time, and I took delivery yesterday evening.

Here she is, in the office car park this morning. Note how many other people managed to get here:

I'm going to stick around to watch for anything urgent, then head home with plenty of time before it gets dark. It's a bit quiet here, so feel free to say hello and keep me company!

Monday, 4 January 2010

If this is a mild winter...

...then heaven help us if we ever get a severe one.

This morning:

and a few weeks ago:

Is the Met Office giving us forecasts that are "politically corrected". Christopher Booker thinks so.