I Quite Liked It Before Actually

Last week the diligent fellows at the Office of National Statistics happily informed us that our little Island is about to get a tad more crowded. The current population is around 64m, that's just over 10m more than when I was born or roughly 20%, half of which has happened since 2001. The ONS reckon there will be some 74.3m of us queuing at the doctor's surgeries in 25 years time. Happily, I for one will have no need of South West Trains then because given they can't cope now they'll never manage with those numbers but what about the pubs? With apparently up to 29 pubs closing every week they'll never fit us all in. That's a national crisis brewing right there if ever I saw one.

The huge net increase almost all results from immigration, ('this is 6.6 million or 9.8% higher than the zero-net-migration (natural change) variant'), and the impact that has on the birth rate. While there are complicating factors, longevity being the most obvious, its clear that Tony and Gordon's social experiment of letting more immigrants in over a ten year period than came in the previous 1000 years is going to have social consequences although you can be sure, not for Tony and Gordon. 

There are positive economic advantages to the trend and we certainly don't have the grave issues of population profile which are threatening future prosperity in countries like Japan and Germany, although the Germans do appear to have woken up to the problem and in recent months have taken an industrial approach to solving it. No, our problems are more culturally orientated and connected to national and local identity. We've seen it be diluted in just one generation and its clear that the land that our grandchildren will be born to will be radically different to the one that we knew as children. It has I suppose seemed like a far away place for a long time as it is but I do retain a misty eyed memory of a country I saw the last vestiges of when a young boy. A place where men wore hats all the time, where courtesy came as standard and where anyone who collected his weekly pay in a brown packet whistled while he worked. 

Quite frankly, I would be back there like a shot if I could. So, just for fun lets take a quick trip back to the place where an ordinary GP with a curious and inquisitive mind could conjure up a world leading invention. 

There is nothing about that clip that I don't like. From the boffins in tweed suits, the GP with odd bits of Mecanno keeping his Heath Robinson contraption together, the ashtray by the telephone, the doctor doing house calls, the received pronunciation message, (IWOOT), and.... the soldering. Bit of a lost art, soldering these days. With built in obsolescence  manufacturers assume a 'use and replace withing 7 years,' marketing approach. Hardly anyone repairs anything. Not on my watch. Taking something apart in 20 mins and then spending 3 months figuring out how to put it back together is one of the joys of being a Dad, 'leave it to me son; I'll tackle this one,' or, 'no love, don't even think about buying a new one; I'll have that washing machine as good as new in a jiffy.' She did get a little anxious when I sent the little guy 30 ft under the floorboards when we wired the barn up but it was a moment of nostalgia for me; my own father sent me under the floorboards quite regularly actually when he was wiring up whatever was his latest project. Anyway, we got the young fella back and the place hasn't yet burned down. So, here we go, in praise of soldering, aforementioned youngest making an 8x8x8 LED Cube when he was 14...................... (don't ever start one of these btw... they are difficult, time consuming and a real baxtard to get to the complete programmed finished state).

Things Are Never So Bad...........


 “Things are never so bad they can’t be made worse” Humphrey Bogart

UK employment statistics for August to October 2011 were released this morning and they make pretty glum reading. 

- The employment rate for those aged from 16 to 64 was 70.3 per cent, down 0.2 on the quarter

- There were 29.11 million people in employment aged 16 and over, down 63,000 on the quarter. The number of people employed in the public sector fell by 67,000 on the quarter to reach 5.99million. The number of people employed in the private sector rose by 5,000 on the quarter to reach 23.12 million.

- The unemployment rate was 8.3 per cent of the economically active population, up 0.4 on the quarter. There were 2.64 million unemployed people, up 128,000 on the quarter. The unemployment rate is the highest since 1996 and the number of unemployed people is the highest since 1994.

- The inactivity rate for those aged from 16 to 64 was 23.2 per cent, down 0.1 on the quarter. There were 9.33 million economically inactive people aged from 16 to 64, down 54,000 on the quarter.

- Total pay (including bonuses) rose by 2.0 per cent on a year earlier, down 0.3 on the three months to September 2011(with both the private and public sectors showing lower pay growth).

- Regular pay (excluding bonuses) rose by 1.8 per cent on a year earlier, up 0.1 on the three months to September 2011.

This though, is the stand out chart in the ONS release

- The number of UK born people in employment was 25.08 million in the three months to September 2011, down 311,000 on a year earlier. The number of non-UK born people in employment was 4.0 million, up 181,000 from a year earlier.