Election – again

Skip this if you’re sickened by politics as this is a bit of a rant – I’m just incensed!

For lots of reasons I’m furious about this upcoming General Election. For one thing we had only just been to the council offices to arrange postal votes for the local council elections taking place on May the 4th in Scotland, when we will be away on holiday. We confidently told the woman attending to us that we only wanted the postal vote for those elections, never thinking that there would be a General Election on June the 8th when we will be in Orkney, so we’ll have to go and sort out postal votes for that one too.

That’s annoying enough but when I put the TV on to watch the 1 o’clock news and saw that Theresa May had decreed that she was having a General Election I was fairly flabbergasted. So much for her saying that we needed a period of stability. I suppose that in the grand scheme of things what she has done is preferable to Thatcher who deliberately provoked a war between the UK and Argentina over the Falkland Islands, knowing that the jingoistic tabloids would adore it and ‘winning’ a war would guarantee her re-election. I don’t know how many mothers’ sons died in that ‘police action’ an awful lot that’s for sure, but one would have been too many.

With the Conservatives being miles ahead of Labour in the polls at the moment it seems that May has decided to take the advantage, no doubt knowing that if she holds on until 2020 when the election should have been due, things will be much worse economically all round when the effects of Brexit start to bite.

It’s no wonder that so many people decide to steer clear of the ballot booths as it seems that no matter which country you look at the politicians just lie their heads off to get elected, with absolutely no intentions of keeping to their promises. The most blatant one that I witnessed was just one minute after the polls had closed on the EU Referendum – when Nigel Farage said that the only thing he regretted was the bus advert that said that Brexit would mean 350 million pounds A WEEK would be going to the NHS. Something that was obviously never going to happen – but so many people actually believed it.

So how much is this snap election going to be costing us – the tax payers? At a time when everything has been pared to the bone in the NHS and education and essential services and our roads are falling apart due to the never ending austerity – this election is the last thing we need. The TV news is full of members of the public being asked by news journalists who they will be voting for and an astonishing amount of them are saying Conservative, it makes me wonder, are the interviews edited that way or do the people genuinely think that a Conservative government with a large majority will not beat them to the ground via taxes? whilst their rich corporate friends get off without paying any tax at all.

It’s a fact that the Conservatives spent far more money than they were legally allowed to on the last general election and there should have been up to 36 by-elections in the constituencies where they cheated. They were taken to court about it and lost because they had in fact cheated, but now that will all be swept under the carpet and forgotten about – but not by me, I have a very long memory where election cheats are concerned.

It’s not democracy as I know it. I really wish that we had an entirely different system where there would be an equal number of MPs for each political party so that there was always a balance of power via coalition. It’s the only way that extremists can be reined in and the ordinary people be protected from people who have no idea what it is like to worry about keeping a roof over their families’ heads. But coalitions are roundly despised by all politicians as power and hanging on to it is the only thing they care about. They certainly don’t care about us.

I knew as soon as May got the job that she would be even worse than Thatcher – given her background it was inevitable (believe me I write from experience) but one good thing is that she is so blatantly duplicitous and treats her colleagues with such disdain that she will never last as long as Thatcher, they’ll get rid of her the same way though.


Fracking = Crazy!

At the weekend I switched the TV on and saw a load of people clapping and generally behaving like they had just won the lottery, but of course it was just the politicians at the Paris Climate Talks behaving like a bunch of idiots. Possibly it was because they could at last go home after coming to some sort of climate emissions agreement.

Anyway I knew then that it was a lot of nonsense as they will all say anything and sign up to anything, knowing that none of it is legally binding. Each country will expect all the other countries to stick to the agreements, but will have no intention of doing so themselves.

But even I was somewhat taken aback when there was an announcement on the BBC news tonight saying that fracking was going to be allowed in England. Apparently they’re going to be fracking in the Peak District, despite the fact that it’s a National Park. You can read about it here if you’re interested.

So, correct me if I’m wrong, but isn’t fracking just going to produce more fossil fuels, which is exactly the opposite of what was agreed at the Paris Climate Talks?

Yet again, I feel like I’ve fallen down some sort of Alice in Wonderland nightmare of a hole.

If you want to see what the Peak District/Derbyshire looks like, have a keek at the images here. It happens to be one of my favourite parts of England, but I don’t suppose it’ll look like that for much longer.

Avocado = food of the devil?

I’m old enough to remember when avocados were called avocado pears and were considered to be exotic. I remember a cousin told his father that eating avocados would be very good for his health. His father had serious heart problems so he manfully acquired a taste for avocados and proudly told his heart specialist of this feat. His heart specialist just about had a fit with his legs up! Nothing could have been worse for his heart.

So I’ve always been annoyed when people parrot how good avocados are for your health because they’re really not. When I’ve pointed out to people in the past that avocados aren’t all they’ve been cracked up to be I’ve had people looking at me like I must be mad. Apart from anything else they’re very calorific not to mention full of fat. Almost 200 calories in an average avocado. Coupled with the wine which often seems to be consumed at the same time (to make them palatable?) as anything containing avocados – it’s a bad day for the waistline, 200 calories also being in the average small glass of wine. They might have contributed hugely to the obesity epidemic which is engulfing the population.

While I’m in pontification mode, don’t overdo the banana eating either, unless you’re a long distance runner. Full of energy giving goodness they may be, but if you don’t use up that energy it will convert to fat fast. The UK apparently gets through more bananas than any other country in Europe, possibly the world, and those statistics have shadowed the obesity rates too.

I’ve always eaten loads of fruit and veg, long before ‘five a day’ became a mantra. My father did have a fruit shop when I was a youngster so I ate all sorts of fruit, well you can’t let it go to waste you know. But really nutrition and health wise you can’t do much better than eating apples, in fact to be on the safe side two a day would be even better at keeping that doctor away! It’s keeping the digestion moving that makes the difference.

This modern fashion for taking sips of water from water bottles is also not as good for you as drinking a good glass of water before and after a meal.

If you’ve ever made compost in a compost bin you’ll have noticed that if it is too dry then it doesn’t compost at all just sits there and I’m pretty sure that the same is true of the human digestive system. Those wee sips of water don’t do the trick and everything just lies in the stomach for ages, with plenty of time to convert to fat.

Well that got that off my chest, no matter how boring and uninteresting it might have been. I feel better for it.

If you want to read one of many avocado articles around at the moment have a look at this Guardian article

Library Closures in Fife – The Battle Commences

We went along to a meeting in the Salvation Army hall in Glenrothes last Tuesday, the meeting was about the intended closures of 16 libraries in Fife. I was quite amazed at the turn out, there were over 100 people there, much more than the organisers had hoped for. The very definitely ‘not bad’ author James Robertson spoke of what libraries mean to him. If you haven’t already read his books – you should.

There’s real anger amongst locals, especially when we realised that as usual the council has a completely different idea of the word ‘consultation’. In their dictionary it means ‘cut and dried’ or fait accompli if you want to be cosmopolitan about it. There’s always more than a hint of The Hitchikers Guide to the Galaxy about these so-called consultations in my past experience. All of the community councils are closed over the summer and their next meetings are scheduled to take place after the ‘consultation’ period. Mobile libraries have been suggested as replacements for areas where libraries are to be closed. However they are also planning to get rid of one of the three mobile libraries which Fife own, so how the remaining two are supposed to cope with the extra work I have no idea.

I was vaguely aware of the words Cultural Trust being used in recent times but I didn’t really realise what it was. It seems to me that Fife Council have handed over the running of the libraries to this third party as a way of dodging the flak when cut backs are mooted. They can wash their hands of the whole thing and say – it’s nothing to do with us, it’s the Cultural Trust who say these places must be closed.

To add insult to injury it transpires that the paltry sum of £21 per head of population in Fife is all that is being spent on library funding at the moment. Considering the service given by the local libraries that’s what I call an absolute bargain already. How anyone can think of spending even less on what is an essential service is beyond me.

It seems that borrower numbers have been looked at and the powers that be have come to the conclusion that the libraries under threat of closure are not worth the cost of keeping open. In these days of austerity with huge unemployment in Fife, society can’t afford NOT to keep libraries open. It’s as if the people who have made the decision to close libraries have no idea themselves of the roles which a modern library fulfills.

Apart from the computers which are vital for people who can’t afford one of their own, there are also job clubs which meet in the libraries, a vital link for people desperately trying to find work. Those people may never borrow books so they don’t appear on any borrowing statistics but they need the libraries more than anyone.

Modern society can be a lonely place for a lot of people, the elderly in particular and the libraries are lifelines for people who might never speak to a living soul otherwise.

In another place and time I worked in a large county library, one of the many Andrew Carnegie libraries, a large Victorian building which had been designed to accommodate a large reading room. In the winter time I would say that half of the reading room users were people coming in to get out of the cold, and who would grudge them that? Not me anyway. I suspect the same is true now, especially among the unemployed and disabled.

The extra pressure which would be put on to the remaining libraries would be intolerable if any libraries were closed, the library in Glenrothes town centre is very small and the computers are always all occupied, there must be some sort of time limit to people’s use of them. There’ll be queues of people waiting to get on to a computer.

Many of the libraries under threat are in village locations, places which already have very little in the way of amenities. Women are often stuck there with no way of travelling elsewhere as public transport is dire/non existent or very expensive, especially if they are having to take children on buses to visit a library.

As it happens I’m reading George Orwell’s The Road to Wigan Pier at the moment, written in 1934 he mentions using the libraries, and despite living conditions and life in general being dire for the ordinary working person, there was no mention of libaries being closed down. They obviously had more sense back then.

If you want to help with the campaign to keep the 16 threatened libraries open, please sign the petition.

The Davis Cup

For various reasons I didn’t get a chance to watch as much of Wimbledon on TV this year as I usually do, for instance we had to travel to Glasgow during one Andy Murray match, and before I knew what was happening – he was out of it. Who expected that? Not me anyway and not the anonymous idiot who bet £50,000 on him to win the tournament.

So today I was glad to be watching Murray playing against Gilles Simon in the Davis Cup. It’s rarely a relaxing pastime watching him play, in fact I reckon it’s not good for the NHS coffers, I’m sure that the Accident and Emergency units must fill up with heart patients.

After much stress (for me anyway) he won, making this the first British team to get so far in the tournament since 1981, which was obviously before he was born.

All very well and good, he was playing for team GB, so why did Sue Barker say in the post match chat that it was going to be great in the next round – England versus Australia. The woman on ITV news the previous evening also called the team England too despite the doubles players being two Scottish brothers – not to mention the coach.

Really they should know better, England is not an acceptable substitute for Great Britain. It’s even worse than those times in the past which I thought we had left behind, when successful people were described as being British, but if they lost they were called Scottish. I wonder how many complaints the BBC had about it? I didn’t bother. I’m fairly sure though that early on in the match some parts of the crowd were chanting England, England. It’s just completely ignorant.

If this had happened the night before the Independence Referendum it would have guaranteed a “YES” vote!


It isn’t often that I feel the need to stick my head above the parapet and blog about politics but the crisis in Greece just goes from bad to worse and I have an almighty urge to knock heads together.

We all know that if an individual has a credit card then they are given a maximum sum which they can spend on it. So why did the countries who have loaned money to Greece not have something similar in place. The lenders have a duty to only lend what can be paid back, if they ignore that then as far as I’m concerned the lenders are more at fault than the borrowers are. Anyone who is owed money from Greece should just write off the debts and learn from their mistakes.

Apparently the UK is owed around £1 billion from Greece but for the Germans the sum is closer to 40 billion Euros. I haven’t been following the minutiae of the subject but I have heard that the Germans loaned the money to the Greeks so long as the Greeks spent a large part of the money on buying German goods, mainly armaments, which is something that I’m sure the Greeks didn’t plan on spending any money on.

This is a strategy which goes on in Third World countries with the so called overseas aid money from First World countries coming with long strings attached to boost the manufacturing in those countries.

This evening on the news I heard that the Dutch prime minister was the latest leader to wag a finger at the Greeks and tell them that they must abide by the rules of the European Community. What a laugh. I happen to know that the Dutch governments have been cocking a snook at European rules for years and years. They still have tax relief on mortgages there, something which they should have stopped when the UK did some 20 years ago when the EU told us to stop it. The UK government is always very quick to obey any rules whilst other governments just say – our people will not stand for that – and ignore the rules which don’t suit them.

At the beginning of the German bullying of Greece I said that as far as I was concerned it was come-uppance time for the Germans, a bit of pay back for what they did to Greece during World War 2, and I still feel that way. The Germans have completely forgotten that at the end of the war their debts were written off and more than that – they had money thrown at them so that there would not be a repeat of hostilities within 20 years – as there was after the First World War.

Meanwhile the UK was debt ridden and in fact it was only a few years ago that we paid the last instalment of our debt to the Americans. Angela Merkel was brought up in East Germany so she almost certainly doesn’t know that the difference between 1970s Germany and 1970s Britain were vast. I was in Germany in the 1970s and I was astonished by the country. Compared with Britain it was so wealthy looking and the standard of living was way beyond that in the UK. In 1970s Britain there were still bomb sites which still hadn’t been re-built on. Areas of housing in Germany which were thought of as being poor were in fact of a far higher standard of anything in the UK. That’s what happens when a country is given a blank cheque to re-build.

As everyone has been saying that the financial meltdown of 2008 will have to be paid for by generations to come – I see nothing wrong with expecting the post Nazi German generations to write off the Greek debt – as war reparations, a fine for what they did to the Greeks during World War 2.

Apart from anything else, have you had a look at the map of that area of the world. Syrian refugees are making their way there to get away from the mayhem in Syria. How easy it will be for the real bad guys, ISIS or whatever the hell they call themselves – just another kind of fascist if you ask me, to follow them to Greece when they want to, if we don’t get on top of it. And of course, Greece has loads of tanks and armaments which nobody wants to fall into the hands of nutters who will turn them against Europe.

We can’t afford to let Greece fail as a state, we stand together or we’ll fall together.

And another thing … I heard somewhere that Greece has actually already paid off the amount of money which they have borrowed, the money they still owe is actually all interest. If that’s true then shame on anyone for hounding them for more payments.

Paterson’s Shortbread – Just Say NO

I really never complain about anything officially, like most people I just have a good moan to myself if something upsets me. If it’s a place then I just vow never to darken their doors again, and I stick to it. If it’s a product which I’m unhappy about then I never buy it again and that’s that.

Paterson's Shortbread Packet

Recently I bought a box of Heritage Shapes Shortbread from Paterson’s, a Scottish manufacturer that I’ve been buying shortbread from for getting on for 40 years. I couldn’t believe how disgusting the shortbread tasted. I had a look at the box expecting to see those dreaded words New Improved Recipe, but they weren’t there. Instead it was – now with 80% less saturated fat which was proudly printed on the box.

Reverse of Paterson's Shortbread Box

That accounts for the fact that the shortbread now tastes of cardboard then, I thought. I’m not exaggerating, cardboard is the only flavour which these biscuits taste of. What is even worse is that some time after eating one of them they come back to visit you again in the shape of cardboard flavoured burps! I’ve never eaten a biscuit which has made me burp before.

Anyway, I was not a happy bunny, because shortbread is a traditional Scottish food and these biscuits are the sort of things which people buy as gifts to give others as reminders of Scotland. I feel embarrassed that people might think that these represent Scottish baking. So I wrote Paterson’s an email:

We bought a box of your heritage and choc chip shortbread recently and have been very disappointed with the flavour of them. They taste of cardboard. As I have always bought your shortbread in the past I was somewhat puzzled, but on closer scrutiny of the box I noticed that it says you are now using 80% less saturated fat.

So problem solved you need the fat in baked products to give the flavour, especially in something like shortbread. Shortbread should be an indulgent treat but I’m afraid I’m now going to have to go back to baking my own in the future if you are going to persist with this change to the recipe.

And they replied thus:

Hello Katrina,

Thank you for getting in contact, it is greatly appreciated. We are so sorry to hear that you were disappointed with the taste of our Paterson’s Heritage Shapes and Choc Chip Shortbread. As you mention, this product does contain less than 3% saturated fat. We are proud to offer what we consider to be a delicious, guilt free, melt in the mouth indulgence, however we regrettably accept that it will not be to all tastes.

We are truly sorry that our product was not to your taste or preference on this occasion and wish that it were otherwise. However, we are very grateful to you for taking the time to write to us – we really do appreciate all feedback.

Thanks once more, and apologies for the delay in responding to you.
Best Wishes,

Well, far from being melt in mouth-ish the new recipe sticks in your teeth and has a cloying texture.

So there you have it. We aren’t being trusted to eat a sensible amount of tasty bites nowadays. The health squad have got at shortbread, just in case we go mad and eat a whole box at one sitting presumably.

Butter happens to be the most important ingredient in shortbread and of course it’s also the most expensive so it’s to the manufacturer’s advantage to cut out the expensive part of the recipe and substitute something a lot cheaper, never mind that it makes the product disgusting, it’s supposedly healthier!!

Paterson’s are behind the times anyway as the food experts are now saying that butter isn’t bad for you at all. It’s the fact that the food industry tampers with natural products which makes them unhealthy. According to the late lamented cook Clarissa Dickson Wright the bit that they remove from skimmed milk is the thing which helps your body break down the fat in the milk!

So it seems that I now have to go back to making my own shortbread because there are some people in the world who are greedy and have no will-power and can’t be trusted with biscuits. To be fair, my own shortbread always tasted better than any shop bought kind anyway. I’m still mortified that non-Scots might eat the horrible stuff though and assume that that is what shortbread should taste like.

Paterson's Shortbread Ingredients

As you can see, butter appears second to last in the list of ingredients, apart from flavourings – which presumably is cardboard – meaning there’s a minuscule amount in the shortbread when it should be the main ingredient, along with flour.

Fresh Hell

I’ve probably said this before – I’m not a gadget person, particularly not an electrical gadget person. I was probably the last person in the western world to purchase an automatic washing machine, I was quite happy with my old twin tub machine which lasted for years with no problems, only took four minutes to get the dirtiest clothes clean and spun the water out really well. Now the quickest setting on my washing machine takes 1 hour 20 minutes and doesn’t get the stuff clean enough for my liking – and I’m not that fussy.

Anyway it’s computer gadgets which are annoying me now, particularly my Netbook which I always think of as being new, it’s still beautifully shiny because I have taken good care of it, first nestling it in an old 1930s lapbag which originally housed my great-aunt Jenny’s sewing, or maybe it was a nightdress case – I’ve never been quite sure. Anyhow, just about as soon as I got around to buying it a snazzy new purple mock croc bag designed specifically for Netbooks – THEY stopped supporting the security system and my techy guys both told me that I had to replace my shiny ‘new’ Netbook with something which is secure and safe! Surely I can just buy some sort of package and upload it to my Netbook thought I. No – said my sons, that would cost as much as a new gadget. I’ve hirpled along with my unsafe Netbook for too long now, I’m going to have to bite the bullet and get something new.

So here I am – deeply disgruntled at the thought of parting with my cash for another gadget, because to be honest I’m more of a Victorian writing slope person than a computer person. Also I always live in fear of electrical things going belly up on me as they so often just stop working for no good reason. I’m sure they all have inbuilt chips which say to themselves – right she has had enough fun, I’m giving up now. It happens so often to me. I’m one of those folks who can’t wear a ‘real’ wind up watch because they go crazily fast and then die within a few hours of me putting it on my wrist. I’m all right with battery operated watches though.

I’ve had a look at Chromebooks and such in the electrical stores and they are so flimsy and dull compared with my old Netbook. Everyone tells me to push the boat out and get an iPad, as they do just about anything that you could want them to do but as I don’t even use or own a mobile phone (really and truly!) I don’t think I need something like an iPad. I’ll only really be impressed with a computer when it can make my dinner for me and do the housework.

My Netbook is now only any good for writing on, not internet use and I’ve been told that I’ll have to learn how to use a Chromebook as they are different from Netbooks. Deep joy is what I say to that!

Burying News

I was listening to the radio in the car this afternoon and it was a discussion about yesterday’s Budget. In the course of the chat one commentator came out with the information that it was also the day when Boris Johnson, the Mayor of London was given permission to buy a couple of water cannon for use on London streets against any future demonstrators!! Obviously that day was chosen so that the news would be well and truly buried amongst all the Budget shenanigans.

I can hardly believe that Britain has changed so much that things like that can happen, but apparently it has. Water cannon hit people with such force that it can and does knock their eyes out, break limbs and generally maim human beings. Next time you see that blond mop on the TV don’t think to yourself – ‘ah doesn’t it make you proud to be British, when we can have such an eccentric as London’s mayor‘. Do think that wolves often come in sheep’s clothing! Boris is not a lovable eccentric, he’s downright evil.

In the UK we can’t have spontaneous demonstrations nowadays, you have to get written permission from the authorities to hold any sort of gathering, and you are likely to end up being ‘kettled’ by the police for hours on end. In other words – treated far worse than they would be allowed to treat animals.

It amazes me that the British public in general are so docile, we put up with far more nonsense from our governments than any other nations do. It has always been that way, our governments always want to punish the ‘little’ people, you and me. It’s the reason that rationing went on for years after World War 2. Keep them hungry, keep them down!

If you put on your TV for the news on any day, you will almost certainly see a demonstration in some foreign country about something, usually they want more freedom than they have, but in reality a lot of those people have more freedoms than we have here. They’re free to demonstrate for one thing.

My parents, that generation who ‘fought for freedom’ would be wondering why they bothered, if they had lived to see the Britain of today.

It could be another reason for Scotland going independent, just to disassociate ourselves from the barbarisms of England and London in particular.

Shame on you BBC

In general I’m quite a fan of the BBC and if I find myself watching ITV when the 10 o’clock news comes on one of us will say ‘change it to the real news’ – meaning the BBC as it’s usually better, but recently Auntie Beeb has been annoying me because they seem to be dumbing down a lot.

Tonight I was listening to the 6 o’clock news on the radio whilst cooking the dinner and the news was all about the phone hacking court case. For some reason someone at the BBC decided that that was a good excuse to broadcast the private details of a phone call between certain young royals!

How can that be seen as a responsible and fair thing to do? Surely the whole phone hacking affair is about people illegally obtaining private telephone conversations and using the information in them? Whoever decided that it was necessary to provide those private details to the listening public should be hauled over the coals, or even dismissed from their high paying position.

But what am I saying?! That would just be another excuse to give the offender a massive pay off, and then probably re-hire them in another department.

Well, that’s my wee rant over, just call me – Disgusted of Kirkcaldy.