What Are You Doing Darling?

Ambling through middle age with a curious approach to life and living leads me to asking many questions every day, a bit like toddlers are apt do. For example, on Sunday I was standing in the kitchen at home reading a text from son no 1 who had just illuminated the world of summer cocktails for me by forwarding the mix for something called a Pearl Harbour. Concurrent with this son no 2 was outside undoing a padlock, for which we’d lost the key, with his lock picking kit. Does that make me a good or a bad father?

And this morning, having read that the head of Pret A Manger has told his staff to give free drinks to people they like, I was perturbed when Tony from Latvia gave me a free green tea. Delicious Monika from Poland has never done that. What does it mean?

But the thing that has baffled me most is the report in the Telegraph that a chef flambéing a  beef stroganoff at the Randolph Hotel in Oxford was responsible for starting a major fire when flames were sucked up through vents. “It was a flambé which was the problem,” said Mr Grange, the manager. Accidents happen but what on earth would possess the Telegraph to then helpfully publish the recipe in some sort of Arsonists Cookbook manner thus arming over enthusiastic Dad’s up and down the land to self-immolate themselves after watching the Master Chef final? Picture the scene in the leafy environs of middle England,

 “What are you doing darling?”

“Oh, just knocking up a recipe I read in the Telegraph on the train dear”

 “hmmmm…. Why are you drinking cognac, bad day darling?”

“No dearest, I’m not drinking it, that’s to set the stroganoff on fire, just like they did at the Randolph Hotel; you never told me cooking could be fun. This is man’s work”

 “Right darling, I’ll just call 999 now before you get started….. just to be safe.”

 60% of house fires incidentally,  start in the kitchen

Can I Vote For Basher Neil?

Labour's Jamie Reed in a car crash interview with Chief Dementor Andrew Neil, on Labour's NHS spending plans and taxes like the mansion tax. He is eviscerated.

We're all by now used to candidates and potential PM's saying whatever they think we want to hear while writing make-believe cheques from the Magic Money Tree with carefree abandon. 

That they have been getting away with it is nothing short of disgraceful and a sad reflection on broadcasters. One of the few who, on all our behalf's, actually calls them to account is Andrew Neil and well done him for speaking up for democracy and the electorate.

The example above from the Politics Show is a classic. I don't know if I'm infuriated or just saddened.

Perhaps, if the political class carried personal liability for their stupidity, as do most of us outside the public sector, then they might be more thoughtful and diligent before dispensing financially incontinent decrees.

If I could vote for Mr Neil, I would.


Farewell Friend

                                                                                                                        Gurkha 2001 - 2015

My dear beloved friend Gurkha left us today. Aged 13, he was everything one could ever hope for in a best friend. Loyal, uncomplaining, consistent; he gave us not a moment of trouble, worry or concern from the moment he arrived at home all those years ago. In fact, he was as good a Labrador as you'll ever see. Fit but gentle, alert but not aggressive, playful but not indisciplined. 

                                                                                     Gurkha on his first day with us meeting the irascible Zulu

                                                 Gurkha; nine weeks

He's been part of the family, part of the children's growing up, part of us and we're all going to miss him dreadfully. He suffered a mini stroke last week and bless him, he's been a bit unsteady on his pins but lived out his last days without complaint and with comfort and bucket loads of TLC. The life force though has been draining from him day by day and the time came to do the right thing before he started suffering. It was peaceful and dignified.

                Zulu; they'll never make another like him

When Gurkha arrived, he joined the irascible rogue that was Zulu who was a completely different character. Long since passed, there wasn't a neighbour within miles who hadn't found Zulu rooting around their bin, 'your blasted dog has just walked mud all over my new carpet. Kindly come and remove him." Zulu looked and acted the part though. I remember standing on a gun line with him in Dorset waiting for the birds to come over and I saw his tail suddenly pick up and much to my embarrassment he must have chased the deer he'd spotted on the hillside all the way to Devon before he eventually came back with a look of self satisfaction. I lost much of my appetite for shooting when we lost him. I still miss him, just as I'll miss Gurkha. Boy these dogs get under your skin.

We're left with Gunner and Diesel. Gunner is getting on too, is a bit arthritic and so is much like his owner. At some point we'll acquire a new puppy to join the younger and more exuberant Diesel but not for a wee while. First we mourn our friend, noble and decent fellow that he was.


UK Rates To Move Before The US?

3 mth (Short Sterling) Interest Rate Future

I’ve previously noted, as has just about everyone else, how sanguine markets have appeared in the face of potential nae, probable post election chaos.

That may be changing.

Short stering, (which we invert, ie subtract from 100, to translate into anticipated 3 month LIBOR) above, is falling on volume.

This could be a result of concerns about a minority government, which might precipitate a rate rise to steady the pound, or anticipating the return of a Conservative government indicating continued good eco news flow which would also require a rate rise.

Barclays are suggesting the drop is because of swaps being unwound.

I think it is probably a combination of factors which is triggering the volume spike. The takeaway here is that volatility in UK related assets is increasing and will stay on that track in the coming weeks.

"It's So Stupid It's Positively Brilliant"

Blitz Out

Remember the scene in the Great Escape when Virgil Hilts, "The Cooler King" (Steve McQueen), and Archibald Ives, "The Mole," (Angus Lennie) dreamt up an escape plan to simply dig and burrow in one hit? It didn't work and they again found themselves back in the cooler.

Teddy...... the Blitz Out is off old boy..

Now, meet Teddy. A friends dog, he likes to dig and burrow too, under their fence to make a bid for freedom and has enjoyed rather more success in his "Blitz Out's," than did Hilts and Ives. My friends solution? Teddy now goes out to play with a bloody great bucket tied to his collar.  It hasn't stopped him digging but he no longer gets further than nine inches under the fence.

Perhaps this is where the Germans went wrong with escape obsessed POW's during the war.

What Now?

My God, he really is a robot.

The interviewer in that clip, Damon Green, was none to pleased with the result either. His post interview thoughts are worth a read.

To the debate last night and anyone landing from another Galaxy this morning will quickly realise that the UK is heading down a perilous path to a kind of unreconstructed socialism that we haven’t seen since the seventies. Whilst many hope for a Tory surge, and are no doubt tiring of the Spin Meisters drive for “discredit Milliband and steady as she goes,” approach, any outcome other than a Labour + loony fringe support looks at this point, tenuous. The remarkable thing is that the pound, gilts and equities appear relatively unruffled. Although weaker, sterling will take a good old fashioned hammering on May 8th and likely, long before. 

I’m not quite sure what tofu munching unreconstructed Trotskyists like the Greens, who have one MP, are doing on the national stage when the DUP are barred. Its also shocking that none of the other parties have the stones to call them out for what they are. Personally, I’d rather vote for a pigeon shouting alcoholic tramp than that lunatic Australian women. The Welsh woman is stuck in a 1973 entitlement frenzy and the SNP are just scary. If the electorate in Scotland, who seem to be permanently out to lunch,  deliver as the polls are indicating the breakup of the UK is simply inevitable. UKIP meanwhile strike the occasional chord with most voters but lack the maturity, breadth, quality of candidates  and organisation to reach a position of significant influence. That leaves the robotic Milliband who seems to be edging forward which ought to worry every sensible and reasonable thinking individual.

UK National Debt = £1.29 trillion, (chart is in €) That's tough to visualise; try this to help.

All of the parties, except perhaps UKIP, are either too stupid to understand the position of the national finances or are too fearful to be honest. They talk about the “deficit,” while conveniently forgetting the £1.29 trillion debt mountain lurking in the background. Interest payments on that debt are due to surge to over £40bn in 2016 and that’s with interest rates at a 230 year low. The truth is all they are claiming they will achieve is a reduction in the trajectory of the growth of the deficit. 

If these jokers think they have experienced austerity then they’re in for a shock. Regardless of who is elected, cuts will have to be enforced and taxes are going up, that’s just a starter for 10. One thing is for sure and for certain, if Milliband walks into No 10 on May 8th our economy, and the markets, will collapse like one of Fred Dibnah’s chimneys.

Well I Never


I learned a few things over the weekend, none of which I really wanted to hear but by way of introduction I'll mention them anyway. First, it was good news following bad when I learned that my dear loyal friend Gurkha, (Black Lab), had suffered a mini stroke but nothing worse. Although a bit lopsided on his pins, (bit like his owner), he ought to be with us for another couple of months at least.

Second and obviously unconnected, a friend told me over dinner that he popped into the  lavatory in the Shangri-La Hotel in the Shard and chanced upon the shocking scene of two men engaged in what the broadsheet court reporters euphemistically term, "a sexual act." Apparently, that sort of thing is not uncommon in what is apparently an architectural gay icon. Mostly won't be going there then.

Third, in a "well I never," moment of disbelief I learned that all manner of drugs are now more freely available than ever and one of the common conduits for transactions are apparently car washes. The patron drives in with fifty quid under the seat and drives out with his cash replaced by the Eastern European car washers with a sachet of Columbian Marching Powder or whatever the required high of the day is. I'll be using the pressure washer at home then.

The Thug Life vid's make the news. Hilarious if Pretty lightweight compared to Spitting Image or Alison Jackson stuff.

You live and learn. Light relief cascaded down then when one of the kids introduced me to a Facebook page called Political Bible. Politicians as a breed have had rather an easy time of it from satirists in recent years, especially since the death of John Fortune in 2013 bringing an end to the Bremner, Bird & Fortune sketches and we haven't seen anything to match Spitting Image in years. Until now.

Pub scene from Bremner, Bird and Fortune's "Last Show before the Recovery". Two old blokes chatting about media trends.

The BBC report that the "Thug Life," videos of political put downs started life in the United States and were first published here on a Facebook page called Lad Bible. All I can tell you is that the thought of carefully orchestrated election spin campaigns careering off their axis and party media advisor's being driven to apoplexy because of some smart kids with a galloping sense of humour and total lack of deference cheers me up no end. Where there is despair, let there be hope.


The Empire Strikes Back

It's with some hilarity that we learn this morning, courtesy of analysis from the Insight Consulting Group via Guido, that should Labour be elected some 25.51% of MPs are likely to be Oxbridge graduates. Interestingly, the number drops to 20.86% in a Conservative-led Parliament perhaps suggesting that slightly more Tories have held real jobs than have the policy wonk stuffed Labour party who are mostly cradle-to-grave political Moonies. 

Well, they don't make any bones about what they're about on their website. The time is coming to reclaim the management and leadership of the Kingdom from this cosy union.

I've written previously about the bizarre grip that the Oxford PPE course has on British politics and political reporting, (it's a very long list, read and be amazed). Perhaps its why they are all so grey and mostly follow the same dreary agenda's with just a different lick of paint on their buses. No long term strategic thinking and no imagination with precious little grip on what passes for Planet Reality for the rest of us. They've buggered up just about everything they've touched and done a mind trick on the Public which mostly believes in the sequential Great Con's perpetrated in their name but not for their wider good. We're in a place where a more or less malleable and supine population is governed by the intentions of a few thousand people in marginal seats.  Nothing could suit the PPE lot better; their grip is tightening but it won't last. Bad things never do.