Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Mutter, Mutter

Normally, lovely hot sunshine brings out the best in people but it's been so unusual here this year that I find it's had the opposite effect on me ! I seem to have gone all depressed, grumpy and in short, Victor Meldrew-like. In an effort to raise my spirits, I'll get some things off my chest......and I might as well start with the weather.

Some decent summer weather finally arrived here in the UK last weekend but it's due to end on Thursday, just in time for the Opening Ceremony of London 2012. Now that's the Summer Olympic Games to you and me but they might have to alter the name in the history books as London might go down as hosting the first ever Autumn Games ! Rain and low temps are forecast. For a change.

Ironically in this one week of summer that we're enjoying now, the temps have shot to close to 32c/89f in places. Not so much "too little, too late" as "too much, too early."

Raising the seriousness level a moment, what about the terrible massacre at that movie theatre in Colorado ? So many people making so many bizarre comments that I might as well add my 2 cents worth.

Gun laws ? Well that's for Americans to sort out and if it's one thing I've learned from spending so much time there, it's that Americans don't take kindly to non Americans sticking in their 2 cents worth. Mind you, what nation does ?!

Having said that, in 2010, there were 8,775 murders caused by firearms in the US. In the UK last year, there were 51 and numbers have been falling for the last few years.

In fact if you add in accidental shootings by firearms in the US, that 8,775 number shoots (sorry !) to over 30,000. Astonishing.

But what pissed me off yesterday morning was a discussion on Radio 2 when someone was adamant that people should NOT go see the Batman movie that was playing at the time of this tragedy. What ? Seriously ? Mind you, I don't know what will happen to that specific theatre in Colorado but to suggest that no one should go see the movie in ANY theatre in ANY country is to go so far overboard as to be in the next ocean !

What gets to me even more however, is the glib phrase that always gets mentioned by the pro gun lobby at such times......."it's not guns that kill people, it's people who kill people."

Yes very clever use of words. But tell me this......if James Holmes hadn't had legal access to guns and ammunition, could he have walked into that theatre and killed so many people ? Even one person ? With great difficulty I'd have thought. And if his weapons hadn't jammed, the death count could have been many, many more. He had enough fire power to take out everyone in that building and more outside.

I take the point that HE pulled the trigger but my point would be that if he hadn't had easy and legal access to guns, all he would've been able to point at those people would've been his finger.

And that is all I have to say on that matter.

I'm sure that's a movie quote !

Bloody sun is blinding me now so I've had to get up and close the blinds. Told you.......nothing is pleasing me at the moment !

Moving on........

TV adverts. You either love 'em or hate' em. Actually that's not true. Most hate 'em but we know they are necessary to finance the top notch programming put out by the tv companies. Sadly they also finance the crap programming too and with more and more channels appearing almost by the week, the crap programming overtook the top notch programming a long time ago.

But here in the UK we have the national treasure that is The BBC. Several channels now, all national and all free from adverts. How ? Well every single household here with a tv set or "equipment with the ability to receive the BBC" has to pay a licence fee, currently £145.50 ($225) a year. There are a few concessions....over 75's don't pay and, get this, blind people 'only' pay 50% of the fee ! Generous eh ?

Anyway this is the only regular income the BBC gets to fund its programming. Of course it makes more millions selling a lot of this programming to Johnny Foreigner who seem to lap up everything from Dr. Who to Top Gear to Frozen Planet and rightly so. Quality stuff.

But in a recent poll, a majority said they'd prefer to not pay a licence fee and instead have adverts on the BBC ! What ?

I understand that in this current financial climate, £145.50 is a lot of money but come on, it's 40p a day ! 40p. And you can pay in monthly instalments.

That's half a bar of chocolate. One bag of crisps. One cigarette. One day of BBC with no adverts.

Try watching an engrossing movie and just when you're right 'in there' with the drama or action, the image fades and some asshole promoting car insurance pops up on your screen ! Gone is the mood. Gone is the suspension of belief. Gone is the atmosphere.

At 40p a day, give me uninterrupted programming with the BBC and as such, I'm so glad it's our Olympic Channel.

Moving right along........

I went to my local Toby Carvery this lunchtime and my table was next to that of a grandmother, mother and son. Now although it's a serve yourself carvery, a waitress takes and brings your drink order, checks everything is ok and brings you anything else to make up your meal.....dessert, tea/coffee etc. And at this location, they are always on the ball and on top of things.

In this case their waitress did even more as the boy moaned he'd not had enough meat (the meats are carved by a chef and generous portions are always given), she went and got him another plate of his choice.

The bill for their 3 carvery meals, 2 desserts and assorted drinks came to £28 something ($44) and as the grandmother handed over her credit card, she said "and take £1 for yourself."

£1. ONE POUND. That's a 3.5% tip !

Now I'm infamous for being a tight tipper (stop laughing.....you know who you are) but if I ever thought of leaving a 3.4% tip, I'd not bother leaving any. Too embarrassed. Having said that, we're not really into tipping for pub type meals here in the UK and before my American friends get up in arms, our staff tend to get paid better than yours and don't NEED to rely on tips to make up a half decent wage. Of course they help......no denying that fact.

And before you ask, I like the place, go regularly and so gave a 20% tip as usual. Well sometimes usual anyway !

Actually that meal and being able to sit by the open doors to the beer garden to eat it, helped lift my mood and I felt a lot better for it. Fatter, heavier, fuller of stomach......but happier.

That's when I went shopping to Sainsburys and things got even better....if slightly more bizarre.

There along the back wall of the store, were rows and rows of children's 'back to school' clothing !

Back to school ? This was day 2 of the summer holidays !

Then again, to bring this post full circle, I did say we were at the end of a one week summer.

Clearly Sainsburys agrees.....and anyway, I probably missed their advert !


rhymeswithplague said...

An initial comment: I either heard or read recently that the number of crimes annualy in the UK in which knives were used is roughly equivalent (probably as a percentage of the population) to gun crimes in the U.S.

So if you were gloating, you can stop gloating now.

I will have to return to read the rest of your long and no doubt very interesting post.

Helsie said...

Gosh that was an epic moan if ever there was one. You should feel better just for verbalising it all!
Sorry the weather is not going to last. I thought it might stay while the Olympics were in progress though I think hot weather would affect some athletes badly ( poor marathon runners !)
As far as tippng goes Aussies are famously bad at it. We don't do much of it here I'm afraid ( often only some loose change or a couple of dollars ) but our hospitality workers consider it a bonus as they are not dependant on tipping to make up their wage. We struggle with it when travelling I'm afraid and never know how much and if it is expected in Europe like it is in the USA.
Cheer up

Silverback said...

Bob I wasn't gloating about our low number of gun related deaths. Was just letting the stats speak for themselves.
And btw, those were FATALITY figures and not crime figures.

Sherry said...

Interesting note regarding guns. Just recently after the CO shooting, a guy with a concealed carry license took his gun into a theater (just to keep himself safe I'm sure) and shot himself in the butt when he sat on his own gun. Add that to the stats. Your blog is a great read btw. Cheers!

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