Today’s little irritations.

It's not even 10.30am and already I have encountered no fewer than 3 little irritations. So I'll share them –

1) Budget airlines

I used to wonder how it was that budget airlines could offer flights so very cheaply and still remain in business. Today I found the answer. Myself and Mr Vicola are going to Perpignan in mid July so, following all the sensible advice about how to get cheap flights, I decided to book now with a budget airline. After all, Perpignan can't be that far from Manchester, no more than a couple of hours anyway. I go online and bingo, look at that, only £26 per person each way, making a grand total of £52 per person return and a complete price of £104, right? Wrong. Because I didn't bank on all the little extras did I? So on we go with our little online booking expedition, next step, bags. Bags? Yes, bags, because on budget airlines it seems that bags aren't included in the price. Do they think you're going to fit all your summer clothes into the 'allowed size' of hand luggage which would struggle to carry a rolled up copy of Cosmopolitan and pair of clean knickers? Of course they don't, so they sting you with the 'bag cost', the princely sum of £10.99 per bag, per journey. So with 2 of us we've added a further £43.96 to the cost however the added price says £57.96, which is a £14 difference, so what's that for? I look it up. That, it appears, is the cost of 'checking in', something which I always assumed was obligatory and so included in the price of the ticket. Now I know I can save myself £14 by just sauntering up to the aircraft, wanging my bag in the hold myself and swanning on to the plane, ignoring check in entirely. Well I assume I can do that, since checking in appears to be an optional extra on this airline. Anyway, on we go to the next step, seats, at which a large flashing notice appears…"Don't leave your seats to chance – pre-book now to guarantee you're seated with your friends!". For an extra £7.99 per person per journey, £10.99 for extra legroom seats? You can fuck right off sunshine, for an extra £31.96 – £43.96 I'll risk sitting next to a stranger for 2 hours. If we're not sat together on the plane we're less likely to have an argument about the armrest anyway. So we finally reach the payment page and I notice another little addition "£36.00 per person taxes and charges". Taxes, well whatever, you can't even fart in this country without getting taxed on it so that's not a huge surprise but charges? What the fuck else is there that you haven't already charged me for? Seriously? Oh, and there's a £10 charge for paying by credit card. Remind me to gather up my magic bean collection next time, it seems to be the only way to pay that doesn't incur another cost. So in summary, cost of flight, £104, cost of bullshit, £139.96, total cost, £243.96. Budget my arse.


2) The DVLA   

I've recently (within the last 2 weeks) bought a car that was previously a Motorbility scheme (supplying subsidised cars to the disabled for anyone not familiar with the scheme) car, and it was pointed out to me by my dad that the car tax disc says 'disabled' on it. And I'm not disabled. So being a fine, upstanding citizen, I decided to contact the DVLA and ask them if I can keep the tax disc till it runs out in October or whether it needs to be replaced. I ring them, go through 48 thousand automated options, "If you are too stupid to be able to work out which way up the tax disc goes, press 1, if one of your equally half-witted family chose to eat the tax disc rather than affix it to your windscreen, press 2, if you are a theiving pikey who has stolen someone else's tax disc and would like to know the most effective method of changing the written date on it, press 3 etc etc" and eventually get through to a tax-monkey. Who doesn't exactly tell me what I want to hear. I explain my circumstances and after thinking about it for a few minutes, the tax monkey comes up with the following:

TM: Do you have the new keepers supplement?

Me: No, the sale was conducted over the phone and I don't have anything, the registration documents haven't arrived yet.

TM: Ooooohh, that's coz they haven't applied for a change of ownership yet, or not according to my computer (giggle).

Me (not laughing):  So how do I tax the car?

TM: You can't.

Me: So I just carry on driving it as it is?

TM: Nope, you have to take it off the road because you're committing fraud by driving it on disabled tax when you're not disabled.

Me: If I took it off the road and applied for the bloody registration documents myself, how long would that take?

TM: Well, you'd have to pay £25 to apply yourself and the documents should be with you in 20 working days.

Me: 20 working days. How helpful. So I assume that while the DVLA has demanded I take the car off the road for 4 weeks because producing a new form and filling in a database entry takes a government department longer than it takes a house builder to produce a block of flats I will be allowed to take my bicycle onto the M60 in order to get to work?

TM: Probably not.

Me: So how else am I meant to get to work in the month I'm not allowed to drive my car?

TM: Erm…taxi?

Well thank you for your help, it's been invaluable. Why are government departments so unutterably fucking useless? What the chuff do we pay them for? This is what you get for attempting to be an upright citizen, next time they can whistle for it.


3) The work experience boy

I was asked to find some work for the work experience boy to do so I duly riffled through the list of stuff that needs doing that I either couldn't be arsed to tackle or that looked a bit tedious and I came up with the task of ringing round the site agents to ask them for a list of the subcontractors they currently had working on site. Not an especially taxing job really but a bit time consuming. Half an hour later, the lady who he's working for (who happens to be his aunt) comes trundling through, "Aww…I gave him your job to do and after a while I thought, oooh, there doesn't seem to be much noise coming from him so I went over and he's just sitting there, he's not rung any of them, he's terrified and he doesn't want to do it, do you not have any filing needs doing?". No, I don't, because by the time I've explained the system to him it'd be quicker to do it myself. For god's sakes boy, grow a pair. You're not tackling the agents about their tax returns, you're just asking for a list of names of companies and if you're too scared to do that then you aren't going to last long in this world are you?

It's clearly going to be a long week. 

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I hope that the bastard viewers who just didn't bother to show up, no phone call, no apology, die very fucking slowly and very fucking painfully. I spent bloody hours getting that house ready and the bastards just didn't show up. Utter, utter pigs.

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SO over housebuying…

The house that we (and by 'we' I do of course mean 'I' ) really really wanted has gone up on Rightmove as 'Sold Subject to Contract'. I'm trying very hard to be mature about this and to wish the buyers well because they are probably people just like us who really liked the lovely house and garden and just want somewhere nice to live. I am however failing dismally. I know, deep down, that is is wrong to hope that they decide they hate each other and can't live together anymore, I know it's wrong to hope that whoever is buying their house and freeing up their money flies off on holiday and ends up on some weirdy island with giant polar bears and wispy dark clouds of oddness like in Lost. I know I shouldn't hope that the surveyor looking at their hosue for the new buyer discovers that it's built over a mineshaft and the resulting subsidence means that the building is unlikely to still be standing come christmas. I know that thinking all these things is not nice but I can't help it, which is really bad because given my current run of luck on all matters financial, in fact on all matters at the moment, karma will catch up with me and I'll get hit with all three scenarios before the end of the month.

On the bright side, we've got a viewing this afternoon at 5.30pm. You know how you sometimes get a really good feeling about something, as if it's all going to go right? Well I don't have one of those today which means I'm less likely to be disappointed when the people viewing don't immediately get down on their knees and beg me to allow them to buy my beautiful dweeling for twice the asking price. So, I need everyone to keep fingers, toes, knees and eyes crossed for this afternoon. Surely it's my turn for something to go right….. 

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What were they thinking?

Anyone care to take a punt on who the racist pictured is? Some ape-knuckled nobody with a string of convictions for football violence and a promising career in handling stolen goods? Nope. That is one of our brand, spanking new Members of the European Parliament, Nick Griffin. He is no longer in the charming boys brigade that we all know and love, the National Front, made famous for such well reasoned and politically astute gestures as firebombing Asian shops, starting riots in towns, putting petrol through the letterboxes of Asian families and having swastikas tattooed on their enormous, ape-like foreheads. No, he is now the leader of the British National Party, who do exactly the same thing only using words instead of petrol bombs, wearing suits instead of ripped jeans with Doc Martens and choosing to use a knife and fork at the table instead of just shovelling food into their mouths with both hands.

Martin Luther King became famous for saying 'I have a dream'. Wise words indeed. Nick Griffin became famous for saying the holocaust was a 'holo-hoax', co-authoring a leaflet about how Jewish people were brainwashing the British (for which he received a suspended prison sentence) and claiming that men were raping women as part of an Islamic plot to take over the UK. Clearly not wise words, in fact you could claim they are the rancid ravings of an utter lunatic. And you'd probably be right.

Mr Griffin said his victory in the European elections hailed a 'Huge change in British politics'. You're damned right there you bigoted wanker, it's been 60 odd years since Oswald Mosley and his black-shirted fascists were derided in this country and I for one thought the days of a right wing basket-weavers being given political airtime were over. Shows what I know doesn't it? Now the nasty little shit has been given a front row seat on the European gravy train, worth up to £395,000 a year for a 5 year term and whose fault is it? It's ours, the people of the North West, because we voted them in.

I say we, I'd like to state here that I didn't vote for them, I'd have drawn a picture of the queen mother on a bicycle and blue tacked my ballot paper to the polling station wall before I'd have put my cross next to that odious little twerp's name, but around 20 thousand people in this region thought it would be really clever to send a message to our failing government by voting not for a main party but for a one trick pony who knows nothing at all about the economy or domestic politics but a lot about wanting to horsewhip Johnny Foreigner to the coastline and over the white cliffs of Dover into the sea. And by Johnny Foreigner he does mean anyone who is foreign or anyone who is not foreign but is not white. Good thinking people, really well done.

It's ironic, and not in a good way, that in the week we remembered those who died at Normandy and watched the veterans gathering for the services, we also voted in not just one but two fascist thugs to positions of political influence. We really don't learn do we? So to the rest of the country, on behalf of the North West and 20 thousand complete fucking idiots who under the old system of not allowing lunatics to vote would probably have had their ballot papers taken off them, I have one thing to say…….sorry.

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British politics – it’s all a bit of a mess really.

Well, the local and European elections have taken place and the first results are showing that Labour do indeed seem to be getting the anticipated kicking that had been predicted. Not really a huge surprise given that Gordon Brown appears to have fewer political supporters than he has toes and his ministers are deserting the good ship Brown in droves. I was pleased to see that poisonous little midget Blears stand down as a minister. According to her it was because she wanted to go back to Salford and do more for her constituents but we all know that it was really because she's a turncoat who never got on with Gordon Brown and has always been the first flea to desert the political corpse. In fact of all the ministers who have quit, the only one with any balls whatsoever is the former Work and Pensions secretary, James Purnell. In his resignation letter he told Gordon Brown that it was time he stepped down as PM for the sake of the party and the government. Up till then they'd all cited family reasons because they are too concerned with their own seedy little careers to risk completely alienating Brown, just in case the entire opposition and every member of every other political party were accidentally to be swept into the sea meaning he did get to be PM for a bit longer and maybe win the next general election.

So the circus rumbles on and we carry on waiting to see which member of Gordon Brown's 'loyal' cabinet will stand down next. Today's offering was the Defence minister, Hutton. My but the military are going to miss him, the man who has sent them to war hopelessly underfunded, under-prepared and under-equipped. If he finds a job commensurate with his organisational skills we can confidently expect him to find him in uniform - asking if you want fries with that.

One interesting and amusing thing to come out of the European elections (and I am aware that there isn't usually anything even vaguely interesting or amusing about European politics), is that Nigel Farage, leader of the rather pointless UKIP (UK Independence Party) is furious. His reasoning? According to him, UKIP have lost valuable votes because…….the ballot paper was so large that it was folded over for ease of handling and UKIP were in the bottom half so their supporters didn't see the box and didn't put their X in it. If I were a supporter of UKIP I'd probably be slightly offended that the leader of my political party of choice thought I was too much of a halfwit to unfold a ballot paper and probably assumed that even if I managed to acheive viewing the entire form, I'd just draw a big. smiley face on the paper before licking it thoroughly and throwing it at the wall. Who knows, perhaps he's right about his supporters. I presume that the people sorting the ballot papers assumed that if a voter was bright enough to manage to get to the polling station without being run over by a big, red bus, eating glass off the road or getting their head stuck in railings, they were probably clever enough to work out how to unfold the paper. Clearly Nigel does not share their confidence in the great British public. Personally I think he's just looking for an excuse for his party's woeful performance in all areas, something that Gordon Brown has stopped bothering to do, posibly because there just aren't enough hours in the day. Actually I'm starting to feel a tiny bit sorry for him, it's like watching one of those films where someone has the worst year at work ever and each day receives a new slap in the chops. Everyone feels for the underdog. Sadly for Mr Brown, my sympathy for the underdog does not over-ride my fury at the smash and grab of my salary via taxation so I still wouldn't vote for him.

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Thoughts for today

I don't think I'm cut out for this house selling business. I take things too personally. Last Wednesday we had our first viewing. We spent most of Tuesday evening after work frantically stuffing crap into cupboards and drawers, banished the dog to my parent's house and set about removing the vast number of moulted hairs from round the edges of carpets, scrubbed the toilets will they shone like polished silver and cleaned the kitchen to within an inch of its life. So the people came, looked round, said the house was lovely and left. The next day the estate agent rang and said that the people were trying to decide between our house and a 4 bedroom house in a scrotey bit of town that didn't cost very much more than our house. Since then, nothing, not a word. So we can safely assume that rather than pick my lovely, shiny, new, polished, recently-decorated-in-tastful-neutral-shades house, they have picked some shitty fleapit in a grotty neighbourhood where nobody works and your car wheels get nicked if you park at traffic lights. What the hell is wrong with these people? And what the hell is wrong with my house? Don't be coming in telling me it's nice and then not offering to buy it at the full asking price, I don't care what you think about my light fittings and the colour I put on the bedroom walls unless you are going to buy it. Swines. And another thing, given that my house is WAY nicer than most out there (you'd be astounded at what some people do to the interior of a house, there really is no accounting for taste), why have we only had one viewer in 2 and a bit weeks?

Told you. Not good at house selling.

On the bright side, we are having a mini heatwave here in Manchester. I count it as a bright side now because it's only 9am, by the time the sun comes round to our side of the non air-conditioned office and heats it up, taking my office temperature up to a brain-melthing 35 degrees I suspect I will count it as more of a curse. But it was lovely yesterday, sitting in the garden reading a book and hoping the barbecue that the half-wit at the back built right up against the garden boundary didn't set fire to the fence and from there, the guinea pigs. I even have a slight tan which I like to think is natural but which I suspect is a result of 4 coats of that moisturiser with the fake tan in it. You can tell it's really hot because I am wearing a skirt to work, something which I do roughtly twice a year. Hurrah for summer, if I could just stop sodding sneezing it would be marvellous!  

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