How Much Is That Doggie In The Window

Wandering further afield from the town centre in Ypres, Belgium, we were amused to see a dog sitting in the window of a shoe shop.

dog in window

That was our cue to start singing How much is that doggie in the window? of course. Well, we thought it was funny but the dog was not amused and took to pacing the length of the window, we were obviously dodgy customers as far as that dog was concerned.

Did you know that when Margaret Thatcher ‘did’ Desert Island Discs she said that that song was her favourite piece of music. It says a lot about her!

If you want a blast from the past have a look at Patti Page singing it.

Margaret Thatcher

I warn you, this is a rant which you probably won’t want to read, but I felt the need to write it.

Well, it’s all over now, I hope, because the TV coverage since the death of Margaret Thatcher has seemed unending and for the most part was complete nonsense. People seem to have such short memories. Cameron obviously wanted to make her funeral a massive affair, hoping that he can grab some popularity from it along the way. Some hope!

It so happens that I turned 18 not long before the election which put Thatcher into power, so it was my first ever voting experience, of course I didn’t vote for her, silly! But I clearly remember being flummoxed because people seemed to think that it was a big deal having a female prime minister and I just never thought it was anything to write home about. There are obviously a few reasons for that namely Mrs Indira Ghandi (India), Mrs Golda Meir (Israel), Sirimavo Bandaranaike (Sri Lanka) and Vigdis Finnbogadottir (Iceland) all of whom had been prime ministers of their countries when I was a youngster and were often on TV. To me,it seemed that we in Britain were lagging behind the rest, not trail blazing.

So I’ve been truly amazed that young women this week have been saying that Thatcher was a woman who inspired them, simply because she got to that position. It doesn’t seem to have been important to them to actually do some research and find out what she actually did for other women, and the other 49% of the population.

If they had they would have discovered that she did everything she could to keep other women down. She was one of those dreadful women who despised other females, she was to be the only queen bee in that hive. They might also have realised that Denis Thatcher was very much behind his wife, she could never have got where she did without him, but like all people who pull the strings, he kept very much in the background, whilst making sure that everything was done for the benefit of his business and that of his cronies.

Not satisfied with that, Thatcher spent her time in power blatantly pursuing arms deals with Saudi Arabia, on behalf of her son. So shameless was she in this, the civil servants eventually complained to parliament about her behaviour and she was hauled up to answer for her behaviour. But she got off with it, claiming she was battling for Britain!!!

Cakes and Ale – a traditional way of saying bribery as that is how it was done in Georgian times, was supposed to be stopped hundreds of years ago. Thatcher even bribed in the extreme. Her policy of selling council houses to tenants at 90% discounts was just a massive bribe to get them to vote Tory next time around, which of course they did because they also put around a rumour that Labour would grab the houses back from them if they got into power. That’s all bad enough, but the fact that she refused to allow any more council houses to be built meant that it was inevitable that there was going to be a housing crisis, no homes to rent for people who genuinely couldn’t afford to buy a home, and property prices exploded.

For the Thatcher generation interest rates were at 6% for the entire time that they were paying a mortgage, in fact I know some people who managed to get a mortgage of 25 years length at 3% for the entire life of the loan. However when we bought our first house, just after Thatcher came into power, the mortgage rate had doubled between the time we bought it and actually moving in, a few months later.

That meant we had to pay double what we had been expecting to pay, and we had a maximum mortgage as that was the only way we could buy a house. Obviously the same went for the rest of the population and there were thousands of families who just couldn’t pay their mortgage and had their homes re-possessed. Homelessness was massive, not because people had maxed out on credit cards, hardly anybody had those in the 1970s, but simply because it wasn’t possible to pay ordinary bills as everything was so much more expensive than it had been.

She imposed the poll tax on Scotland a year before England got it. Obviously when you buy a house you factor in what was at that time the rates and you calculated what you could afford to pay each month, surprise surprise, our poll tax monthly bill was a lot more than our rates had been.

(Later on, when we were in the house we have now, we lived through Black Wednesday in 1992, when Jack came home from work we just looked at each other and laughed, as otherwise we would have been crying. That was the day that under her acolytes the interest rates went up to the highest they have ever been. I was at home with two toddlers, so we had only one wage coming in.)

All in all, the Thatcher years were a complete nightmare, luckily we survived them, but an awful lot of people didn’t, one way or another. A lot of couples divorced due to the financial strains and her policy of getting rid of all of our heavy industries, just to break the unions has devastated large parts of the country, and they have never recovered. But I don’t suppose that matters, as those places are just in the north of England and Scotland and Wales.

Well, I see that I’m at 918 words, and really I’ve hardly scratched the surface, I haven’t mentioned the fact that she sold off our family silver and privatised all of our utilities with the result that the profits from gas and electricity which should be going to the country’s coffers is now going into the pockets of share holders, and we are held to ransom by the likes of Russia and Poland, as we get our gas and coal from them, but you’ve probably given up on my rant by now. Never mind, it has made me feel better.

The one good thing which Margaret Thatcher did was to treat Scotland with such disdain that we were all determined that they wouldn’t get a chance to have so much power over us again, remember, we were ruled by the Tories despite the fact that there were only about two Scottish Conservative MPs. So we got Scottish devolution out of those ghastly years, every cloud has a silver lining.


I was flicking through the Guardian the other day (yes we do actually buy it) when I came across this article. It’s quite long but well worth reading, even if the result is to make you spitting mad, like me.

The upshot is that the BBC is having to pay Rupert Murdoch £10 million a year to have the privilege of BBC programmes being shown on Sky. I feel as if I’ve wandered into an alternative universe again. I thought that we lived in a Capitalist society which is very simple to follow. If you have something which someone else wants then they have to pay you for it, if you want them to have it. So why isn’t Murdoch paying the BBC £squillions to be allowed to broadcast BBC programmes?

I have always prided myself that I haven’t knowingly added any money to the Murdoch coffers. I’ve never bought one of his newspapers and I don’t have Sky, so I’m more than a wee bit peeved – actually I’m incandescent – that my licence fee money is going to Murdoch.

I’ve always thought that the TV licence is just about one of the best bargains around. I would even be quite happy if Auntie Beeb didn’t block the internet viewing so that people in other countries could look in. That would stop Murdoch in his tracks, which could only be a good thing.

Please BBC, stop giving money to Rupert Murdoch et al!

Square up to politicians. Nothing is perfect but the BBC has a place in the hearts of most Brits which is second only to the NHS.

Why am I not surprised that this whole situation came about through Maggie Thatcher’s sucking up to Murdoch. Cakes and ale anyone?!

I could go on at length but I can already see that 2012 is going to be a year of grumping and groaning. Now, does anybody know how I go about setting up an online petition to support the BBC?

Riots in England

I did predict rioting this summer in a previous post but I must admit that I didn’t think they would take the form that they have. I thought it would be like the riots in the early 1980s which were the result of the policies of that ghastly disgrace of a woman who went by the name of Margaret Thatcher.

Mind you I think that if you look back to those days when she was going about telling us all that there was no such thing as society then it’s quite clear that yet again we can lay the blame at her door. I’m making absolutely no excuse for the thugs and thieves who have been causing mayhem on the streets of various cities in England over the past few nights but a culture of greed and corruption has been nurtured over the past 30 years or so especially in the ‘institutions’ of banks, Parliament and the metropolitan police and youngsters can see that those who already have – get even more.

When we have people like David Cameron as our Prime Minister and Boris Johnson as the Mayor of London, and we all know how badly they behaved when they were young, then it’s difficult to listen to them condemning the behaviour of thugs when they themselves were thugs as youngsters. The only differences between Cameron et al is the fact that they were from wealthy families and when as members of the Bullingdon Club they trashed The Ritz and thieved from Fortnums, their parents were able to pay for the damage and for some reason wealthy people get off with it. They aren’t seen as thugs but just young men up to ‘high jinks’.

Almost the very first thing which Thatcher did when she got into power was to strengthen the police force and pay them more money. It quickly became clear that this was so that she would have them completely on her side when she came to tackle the miners and close all of the mines down. So when David Cameron announced that he was cutting the police force I was absolutely gobsmacked. He might call himself ‘son of Maggie’ but he didn’t learn much from her. It’s obvious that the police decided that they weren’t going to do much to stop the trouble on the streets. Why would they when they don’t feel that their jobs are safe? It was in their best interest to step back and look overwhelmed, in the hope that there would be an outcry about the lack of policing and Cameron would have to do yet another U turn and cancel the cuts to the police force.

There hasn’t been any trouble in Scotland and that’s probably because they don’t want to be seen as following in the footsteps of anyone in England. The same thing happened when English football so-called supporters were famous for being hooligans. There was never any trouble in Scotland because the Scottish football supporters liked to see themselves as being above all that nonsense – and they were. But the authorities in some countries have been advising people not to travel to the UK which is very annoying especially as the Edinburgh Festival has just begun.

It has been great to see the communities in England rallying round and clearing up and we should never forget that there are far more decent people than there are mindless morons around.

Hard Winters, the Tories and Narnia

I bet you don’t think that the three things in the title have anything in common, but they do, well I think they do.

I caught the back end of one of the Narnia episodes which were on TV during the Christmas holidays, it was the wicked queen doing her stuff. We used to be steeped in Narnia here as Gordon my youngest son was obsessed with the books and videos at one point. It always reminded me of the winters of 1979/80/81 which were terribly cold, worse than anything that I had ever experienced before.

When we moved down to Essex the diesel in the removal lorry’s tank froze and the men had to light a fire underneath it to thaw it out, scary stuff. This all coincided with the Conservative party getting into power – in the shape of the dreaded and evil Maggie Thatcher. So you can see why she reminds me of the wicked witch – and vice versa. Evil was stalking the land and so freezing cold winters came along to torment us, just as in Narnia when evil had the upper-hand.

So it shouldn’t have come as a surprise that the same thing has happened again as we now have the self-confessed ‘sons of Margaret Thatcher’ at the helm. As before, the freezing winter came just before the Tories got into power, when evil was gaining strength. I predict that as we are in the middle of our second freezing winter on the trot, we’ll probably have another one next year too. I blame all those Old Etonian millionaires. But I’m also reminded of Tom Brown’s Schooldays by Thomas Hughes. Prime Minister Cameron and all his Old Etonian pals in the Cabinet are just exactly like the dastardly Flashman and his chums, except that was set at Rugby. I suppose one English public school bunch is much the same as another.

When J.M. Barrie decided to make his Peter Pan character Captain Hook an evil Old Etonian he obviously knew exactly what he was doing. But I cheer myself up by remembering what was in store for Captain Hook!