Wednesday, 27 February 2008

Shaken AND Stirred!

The whole nation is reeling in shock after feeling a bit of a tremble in the night.  I can empathise.
From as far as Pen Y Boncin and Pant, residents gathered at the cornershop in the village of Knockin to complain that the guvmint has done nothing to save Wales, no matter what GreenPeace say.  Daffodils were shaken in their beds across the beleaguered Principality and some sheep are still baa'ing in fright.
Here across the border in Shropshire things have been no less upsetting.  My own smoked salmon mousse suffered a very severe crack, a hoe fell off it's wobbly nail in the shed and I swear my fish have been swimming in circles ever since. 
I'm just keeping my fingers crossed that such a calamity never strikes ThisOnceGreatNation again altho with immigrant numbers, PC madness, and the cost of quilted lavatory paper rising exponentially there's just no telling what earth-shattering trauma may happen next.

Hot News!!!! :O)

Early in the New Year I posted a riveting entry about the trials of getting fitted wardrobes.  I'm sure my hordes of readers remember it clearly.  Some may have pyrographed it word for word to treasure forever.

I cancelled the Sharps order and had my local bloke wot does make me one to the exact same design that the Sharps designer left with me.  Sharps were charging £957 (including the £100 off website voucher) - Dave has charged me £145.  I wonder if buying my own handles is what made the difference? 

A reiterated mystery to ponder

Someone today posted a reply to an entry made 4 years ago (!!) to my old blog, and he asks re this entry C&P'd below:

I know this is not answering the question asked but I was just looking at the PHI number and how you’re meant to be able to make PHI by measuring distance from head to flood and dividing by belly button to floor. I have tried this and other one’s but the most common number I get is 1.6666666666666666666666666666667 could anyone tell me. How come? Am I just miss measuring every time? Look forward to your replies.  


A mystery to ponder : "Another mystery to ponder - the number PHI - the Divine Proportion - 1.618 - the most beautiful and complete number in the universe.  Not heard of it? Well, you're a walking testament to PHI.

Nautilus shells - the ratio of each spiral's diameter to the next is - 1.618
The rotational diameter of each spiral of sunflower seeds - 1.618
Pinecone petal diameters - 1.618
Insect body segmentations - 1.618
The organisational structure of Beethoven's 5th - 1.618
The placement of F holes on all Stradivarius' violins - 1.618
Da Vinci's Petruvian Man - 1.618
The Parthenon, the Egyptian Pyramids, Bartok, Debussy - all conform to PHI

Measure your height from top of head to floor - now measure from your navel to the floor - 1.618
Hip to floor divided by knee to floor - 1.618
Shoulder to fingertips divided by elbow to fingertips - 1.618
Finger joints, toes, spinal divisions - 1.618

Can the ubiquity of the Divine Proportion be a mere happenstance or does it demonstrate a universal cohesive?  What do YOU think it indicates?

A FREE Phone!



Buy £20 worth of Orange PayAsYouGo credit and get a free phone!

What's the deal?

Go to an Orange shop, and while stocks last, buy £20 of Pay-As-You-Go credit and you'll get a free Motorola F3 or Alcatel OTE 230 pink.

Who's this good for?

This is primarily a 'granny in the glove box' phone; i.e. one that's just kept and used for emergencies. It's also useful for those with an existing Orange PAYG who plan to top up £20 anyway.

To keep the sim active you need to top it up by at least £10 every six months.

Simply buy your credit in an Orange store to get one of the free phones which you could either keep, give-away as a gift, sell or
Recycle For Cash.

The shop window may say £30 top up required

These are old posters - we've had confirmation from the Orange press office that £20 is all that's required plus MSE Andrea popped into a store to confirm this.

What are these phones like?

Both phones are very basic models.
  • Motorola F3. The Motorola F3 (note:this link's for picture purposes only, as the offer isn't available online) is a simple phone but is dual band (you can use it overseas) has a speaker phone, monophonic ringtones and comes in black.
  • Alcatel OTE 230. The Alcatel OTE 230 pink (again, the link is just to show you what the phone looks like) is a flip phone with polyphonic ring tones, Java™ games and applications and up to 10hrs talk time.
Who isn't this deal good for?

This is bog standard pay as you go deal; it's only the free handset that makes it cheap. So if you're planning to use it for lots of calls, don't getit. Instead read the
Cheap Mobile Deal System.

Call & text charges

On Orange's 'Speak Easy Bonus Top-Up' PAYG plan, calls to any network or landline are charged at 15p per minute and texts 10p each, plus you'll get some free bonus texts around 30 days later for topping up by £20.

Can they be unlocked?

Many phones can be easily unlocked (see the
Free Mobile Unlocking article), so you can just plonk any sim card in it and it works. Sadly these two phones can't be unlocked for free.

Tuesday, 26 February 2008

I'd almost rather eat my own liver.

Is there anything more tedious than sorting out car insurance? 
Try it when you own a car and your spouse is the main driver and you're the named driver, and your spouse owns one and you are the main driver but he is the named driver.  Then give each of you two tickets - 6 points, and have one of you use one of the cars for going to work in different locations, then make one 3rd Party with 2 years NCD and one fully comp with 6 years NCD.  It's best just not to mention the 3rd car once that insurer has told you that to cancel a policy costs £25 admin charge even tho that insurance runs out in exactly one week. 
Kinell, at the end of it all - 70 bloody minutes of it - if they'd said £500 each I'd have said sod it, here's my card number.
Now I'm trying to sort out whether it's worth the hassle to cancel one of our two AA Roadside Assistance memberships, given that my new car comes with 2 years free RAC.  If only I could remember which of us has AA for which car. 
Do you know, I just don't think I can be arsed.  If I break down I'll call em both and let them race it out.

Monday, 25 February 2008

Cold morning

Yesterday was my birthday.  The only good thing about birthdays these days is that I'm sure to see or hear from the kids that day, and I did.  One of my girls is planning something secret and Grace let drop that it's for her daddy too.  This makes me think it could be a balloon flight for both he and I together.  I wouldn't say that we don't get on, my son in law and I, because we do - but from time to time...... well, if you have in laws then you know how it goes, and this son in law is not far off my own age so that doesn't always help matters.  It was risky last year when to celebrate my birthday we all went shooting.  He had a spooky sorta look in his eye every time he reloaded his gun.  Up in a balloon, well, his height/weight ratio means he has the advantage if it came to a struggle to tip each other over the side.  Mind, I'm going to take out insurance on him just in case it's one of those days and I get lucky <g>

Friday, 22 February 2008

More ArchBish ramblings

Dr Williams also spoke about the row over his remarks concerning sharia law.

He said that some of the ways in which Islamic sharia law was practised were "appalling" and the way the system was applied to women in countries such as Saudi Arabia was "grim".

"What I was trying to say the other day is that sharia law is a very, very wide-ranging scheme of legal understanding within historic Islam.

"In some of the ways it has been codified and practised across the world, it has been appalling and applied to women in places like Saudi Arabia, it is grim."

But judging sharia law on that basis would be like judging Christianity on a couple of chapters of the Old Testament, he added.

BBC News

So now Williams thinks that the presence of some bloodthirsty strictures in a historical pre-Christian text are in some way analogous to the present day actual abuse of women under Sharia. 
The way his mind is going he'll be comparing Sharia to 'Sharpe's Sword' next. 
Perhaps someone should tell him that Jesus Christ turned many of those pre-Christian Biblical attitudes on their heads - and that those are the values he's supposed to be upholding and promoting.

Thursday, 21 February 2008

Gotta spend to save poppet :O)

I bought another car today,  a Hyundai Amica.  It's a really titchy little 5 door hatchback thing, but the rear seats fold down double so that if necessary all the space behind the front seats can be made flat for use.  Mind, only the dog will be using the back seat anyways.
It's in insurance group 3 so that's low cost, does an average 50+mpg and only costs £115pa road tax compared to the £205 an average sized car costs.  I got 3 years RAC cover included and £1100 off the full price.  I think I may have pulled there <g>
It's bright canary yellow and looks very 'quirky'.  I like quirky cars - I drove a Citroen Dyanne for several years and loved it and this is a similar type of car. 
I can't have it until the 2008 registration starts at the beginning of March but my husband thinks this means he doesn't have to worry about a birthday present for me on Sunday - he's got another think coming!

Girls for Sale

Like, I suppose, many people for whom it isn't a personal issue, I had assumed that the Forced Marriages Act 2007 had actually made forced marriages illegal. 
It turns out that it doesn't - youngsters can still be forced through physical or psychological threats to marry against their will and their only recourse is themselves to take action in the civil courts.  So they need to be brave and affluent.
How many subjugated 15/16/17 year old girlies who have been dragged off to the Pakistani boondocks and married to some 40 year old would-be emigrant stranger, raped and held incommunicado for months until they've had a child then are able to abandon their family and community and find the money to take civil proceedings on their return home to the UK?  If we rely on reports of such cases, then very very few is the answer. 
So, one would have thought in these circumstances that the police could take action - abduction (often of a minor), rape, detaining someone against their will etc. 
They can't because it's not a criminal offence.
I also thought that dowries - financial inducements to marry a particular person - were a foreign thing, a matter for foreign cultures.  
It turns out that I was wrong there too. 
I knew it sometimes happens in Britain of course among particular communities but I had no idea that it was in fact legislated for in British tax law as I discovered when looking into Inheritance Tax yesterday. 
I may quite legally offer any putative son in law a conditional gift (in plain-speak a bribe) on condition that he marries my child.  You might think there's nothing wrong with that and I could see circumstances where the parents of a particularly obnoxious daughter might be tempted.
 But, and here's the legislative nub, any money given on that conditional basis is tax free altho if I simply give the couple the same amount of money as a wedding present then everything over £3000 is subject to tax.  To put it plainly, if it's a bribe it's tax free, if it's an outright gift then it's not.
You know, like so much other government legislation, equal rights for women is flim flam, designed to deceive people that anyone with power gives a damn about gender equality and justice.

Tuesday, 19 February 2008


My husband's new Dobro guitar arrived today and once unpacked he rushed upstairs to his 'new' music room with it and for the next 20 minutes Hawaiian/bluesy type sounds reverberated through the house.  Dobro guitars are usually played laying flat on one's lap, and have a decorated metal plate thing on the front and resonators of various shapes inside.  Dobros are quite loud and he's thrilled with it!
After lunch he watched a little of the tutorials on video which came as part of the package and then did some research online to decide on fingerpicks, plectrums, slides, strings and capos to buy.  He can be quite anal about these things and has been known to do 70 mile round trips to buy a few 60p plectrums which he'll then spend an hour carefully filing (usually with one of my nail files!) to get the exact angled edge he wants.  If you don't have a guitar player in your family you'll have no idea of how complexly detailed and absorbing it can all be - or maybe that's just my old man.
So I'm having a quick look at him from time to time, doing a knowing smirk and he caught me at it and asked what I was grinning at.  You I said, you and this obsessive fascination with sodding plectrums and strings.
So, he said, what have you been doing this morning? 
Umm, reading. 
Reading what? 
Umm, 'The Undercover Economist'. 
Right, and what were you reading yesterday? 
Umm,' Freakonomics'. 
And what's the next book you've got lined up? 
Umm, 'Jon Von Neumann on Game Theory'. 
But aren't we out of the stockmarket now?
Umm, point taken. 
And as my husband says, keeping on top of the theory makes all the difference - though as he's never going to be Ry Cooder and I'm not going to be Warren Buffet then, like sex, all the good stuff is in the head.  (and I mean that in a strictly Platonic way - I'm a married lady!)

Saturday, 16 February 2008

Licenced to rip you off

Mark asks: Is it true that in Britain, you now have to have a license to smoke??  What in blazes is going on??

Some helpful government adviser type has suggested that people should have to be licensed to smoke, at a cost of £200/$400 per licence per year.  So far as I'm aware this hasn't been taken up by government.  Yet. 

Doubtless it will come tho, with its associated Smoking Licence Czar and quango packed full of vastly overpaid and line-toeing ministerial wives and squeezes - this government is only concerned with money.  Money going out of the pockets of ordinary working people and into their own pockets.

More on Rowan Williams - for Stuart

Stuart said: Click here: Tuesday 12th February

Read this by Yasmin Alibhai Brown Stuart:

What Rowan Williams wishes upon us is an abomination and I write here as a modern Muslim woman. He lectures the nation on the benefits of sharia law – made by bearded men, for men – and wants the alternative legal system to be accommodated within our democracy in the spirit of inclusion and cohesion.

Pray tell me sir, how do separate and impenetrable courts and schools and extreme female segregation promote commonalities and deep bonds between citizens of these small isles?

What he did on Thursday was to convince other Britons, white, black and brown, that Muslims want not equality but exceptionalism and their own domains. Enlightened British Muslims quail. Friends like this churchman do us more harm than our many enemies. He passes round what he believes to be the benign libation of tolerance. It is laced with arsenic.

He would not want his own girls and women, I am sure, to "choose" to be governed by these laws he breezily endorses. And he is naive to the point of folly if he imagines it is possible to pick and choose the bits that are relatively nice to the girls or ones that seem to dictate honourable financial transactions.

Look around the Islamic world where sharia rules and, in every single country, these ordinances reduce our human value to less than half that is accorded a male; homosexuals are imprisoned or killed, children have no free voice or autonomy, authoritarianism rules and infantilises populations.

What's more, different Muslim nations claim to have their own allegedly god-given sharia. In Saudi Arabia, women cannot drive (What in Allah's name could the Koran have warned about cars?). In Bangladesh and Pakistan, they have no such bar to driving, although increasingly Saudi Wahabi Islam is taking over and we see Saudi sharia taking hold.

It is growing in influence here, too. Ten years ago, the only fully shrouded Muslim women around were from the Arab fiefdoms, the many wives of sheikhs often drawn by cartoonists to convey the absurdity and inhumanity of such cloaks. Now all of Europe has these girls and women rendering themselves invisible in public spaces. It is their elected sharia, so they claim without credibility. There is no agreed body of sharia, it is all drafted by males and the most cruel is now claiming absolute authority.

In Pakistan, on the statutes are strictures on adultery introduced by the military dictator Zia ul-Haq. Women activists in that country have given their lives protesting against the injustice of those laws where women suspected of adultery, or rape victims, are punished in hideous ways and the man goes free.

The Iranian theocracy changes its regulations from year to year, capriciously playing with the lives of females. The morality police hound women and girls, beat them up, imprison them for showing an ankle, walking too provocatively or singing in the streets. They fight back but are ground down eventually.

Two Iranian friends chose to die rather than live under the demeaning religious orders. Go to Afghanistan if you fancy a 12-year-old bride – a practice approved by the mullahs. That's sharia for you. Many women, gay men and dissidents came to Britain to escape Islamic tyrants and their laws. Dr Williams supports those laws and, by default, makes the refugees victims again.

Four years ago, a Saudi woman in her fifties came to my home. She was divorced from a Saudi prince who had sent her away and kept her children. What she said about sharia cannot be repeated. She had money, this princess, but no parental rights and she howled like a child in excruciating pain in my living room.

Yet, family disputes, says Dr Williams, would be easier, within sharia. For whom exactly? The polygamous men who live in this country, yes, certainly. Not for their wives who will be told that God intends them to lower their eyes and accept unjust verdicts.

Many will be sent back to bastard husbands or flinty-eyed mullahs will take their children away. In Bradford and Halifax, they may be forbidden to drive or work where men are employed. Adultery will be punished. I don't think we will have public stonings but violence of some sort will be meted out (it already is) with lawmakers' backing.

Sensing the drift in their direction, British sharia "experts" today shamelessly direct female medical students not to wash their forearms, essential to prevent the spread of infections, because that exposes their flesh.

Does the Archbishop even know that sharia comes in many guises and that several schools of jurisprudence have their own versions? The list is long – Hanafi, Maliki, Shafi, Hanbali, Jafari, Salafi and on and on. Ayatollah Khomeini preferred his DIY set of crimes and punishments when he came to power.

No women are allowed to be imams or serious jurists, so cannot help make their own fair and free set of female-friendly sharia. All the systems insist on ultimate truths, hard certainties. Sharia cannot provide solutions to the complex challenges of modern life and many violate fundamental human rights as established by the United Nations.

Taj Hargey, a historian and Islamic theologian, runs the Muslim Education Centre in Oxford. He, with me, is a trustee of British Muslims For Secular Democracy which is attempting to educate Muslims out of authorised obscurantism and non-Muslims into a better understanding of the progressive and evolutionary nature of the practice of Islam.

He is incandescent that Dr Williams backs a perilous Islamic conservatism, already too powerful in Britain: "Sharia is nothing but a human concoction of medieval religious opinion, largely archaic and outmoded and irrelevant to life today. Most sharia contradicts the letter and spirit of the Koran, distorts the transcendental text."

During his sermons Dr Hargey explains to congregations that, for example there is no blasphemy in the Koran, that the Prophet himself allowed a man to mock the divine revelations. Apostasy, says the holy text, will be dealt with by Allah in the afterlife. Sharia policemen insist apostates should be tortured and killed.

Dr Williams says Muslims want the choice to opt for sharia. What he believes to be choice is, in truth, inner compulsion, the result of brainwashing which begins in the madrassas when girls and boys are young enough to mould.

I have often admired the Archbishop's lofty thoughts, his intellectualism, the passion for human rights, his guts when the Government needs to be chastised. But this time his kind indulgences betray his own invaluable principles and deliver Muslim women, girls and dissidents into the hands of religious persecutors – an unforgivable intervention, which I hope he now sincerely regrets.

Thursday, 14 February 2008

Two Margot Pargeters in one family?

Do attitudes like genes sometimes skip a generation do you think?

My daughter Sophia makes friends at the drop of a hat, always has done. Put her in a strange location for a couple of hours and someone new will be in her friendship group and on her mobile phone and birthdays list.  Me, I have to know someone for at least a couple of years before I count them as a friend, and even then it's a provisional thing.

Grace recently stated that one of the problems with Constance, and one that she isn't prepared to put up with, is that "Constance associates with the wrong sort of people". 

Hello MiniMe.

Saturday, 9 February 2008

Fire me up

Two men have raised my blood pressure this week.  One is Rowan Williams, the ArchBish of Canterbury who appears to think that it's okay for British Muslim women and children to be subjected, in this country,  to Sharia family law on divorce and custody.  Apart from the way that Sharia subjugates women Williams doesn't seem to take account of the iniquities and inequities of running two very different legal systems in one country.  Furthermore, given the large proportion of British Muslims who think that fundamentalist Islamic terrorists have good cause for their violence, it appears to have escaped him that once Sharia has a foothold inside the British jurisprudence system they'll not stop at family law.  If religious groups are allowed to opt out of British justice, then what argument could possibly hold sway against wholesale Sharia come the day that a whole region becomes predominantly Muslim?  I know it's over-egging it, but he's pointing the way to future stonings of raped women in Oldham.
This man is supposedly the spiritual leader of the Anglican church, the established religion of this country - he's not the spiritual leader of Islam, and nor is he supposed to campaign for Sharia. 
The other man to stir me up a tad has been DCI Gene Hunt. 
I know he's a crude and totally unreconstructed chauvinist but really, you would, wouldn't you? 
Fire up the Quattro? Oh yes please Gene. 

An alternative to the Rugby match

What a fabulous day, blue skies, sunshine, birds singing, bees buzzing, butterflies flitting and flowers popping up everywhere.  How could anyone not go out for a walk? 
Not me, that's for sure
The woods are full of snowdrops and celandines, not that my dog cares - for her the main attractions are fallen branches, squirrels and other dog's wee.  Nice.
She ran so fast down this hill that she ended up rolling arse over head, got up, shook herself and rushed straight back up to try it again.
Me and the dog, two happy bunnies.

Wednesday, 6 February 2008

Stamp out price increases


If you use 1st class postage stamps then rush out to Superdrug who are selling them at 5% discount from tomorrow until March 2nd and buy them in bulk to save yourself more than 10% on the April increase in stamp prices.  Stamps with '1st Class' on them rather than the price can be used no matter how many times the price goes up before you've got through them.  It's a good deal so get out and buy a few books.