What would you do if you were given £40?


More random thoughts, submitted on an occasional basis by our Guest Blogger:  Jack Diamond.


Yes, that’s today’s question? If you were given £40, what would you do with it?

But before we get to that question, perhaps we should ask ‘How do I get £40 to start with?’

Well, there’s a way.

We all know how bookmakers like to take money off a punter – ‘The bookmaker always wins’ etc – but how about if you were guaranteed (yes, guaranteed!) to make money off them instead?

Some of you will know already that I’m talking about Matched Betting. For those of you who don’t, and that’s probably the majority, then I’ll explain.

Firstly, incase you weren’t aware, there’s loads and loads of online bookies out there. Obviously there’s the well known ones who you’ll find in the High Street (Coral, William Hill, Bet Fred etc) but there’s maybe a hundred more online. Which means it’s a competitive market. Very competitive.

As we all know, in a competitive market, companies are fighting for customers. Shops have sales, supermarkets have loyalty cards and BOGOF offers (buy one get one free for the uninitiated) and bookmakers have introductory offers when you sign up online.

Most of these offers are in the form of Bet £10 and get a £30 free bet. The offers vary of course, but most are along those lines.

Now, you’re probably thinking quite correctly, I could lose my £10 and lose on the free bet too and then I’d be £10 down. Quite correct. But, what if you only lost a few pence on the initial £10 bet and were guaranteed to make about £20 on the £30 bet? That would be a game changer, wouldn’t it?

Well, you can and, just to prove it, there’s a free offer which, if you follow the simple instructions, will make you around £40.

The offer is from Profit Accumulator. Follow the link and see what they have to say. And, yes, it is definitely free for the first two offers worth about £40 – I can vouch for that. There’s no catch!

The instructions on their site will guide you through signing up with the first two bookmakers (Coral and Bet Fred at the time of writing) and tell you how to take advantage of their free bet offers.

The key to all this is what’s called a Betting Exchange. At a Betting Exchange site you can ‘lay off’ a particular bet, which means that you are betting against something happening – in this case you would be betting against what you placed a bet on with Coral or Bet Fred. For example, you could place a bet with Coral for Arsenal to beat Chelsea. Then, at the Exchange, you would bet against Arsenal beating Chelsea. The two bets would, bar a few pence, cancel each other out, so you’ve broken even.

Then comes your free bet. You bet £30, again with Coral, on a game with different, higher odds, and lay it off again at the Exchange. This time, because the odds are higher you’ll make money. If you win at the bookmaker you’ll lose at the Exchange. If you lose at the bookmaker you’ll win at the Exchange. But you’ll make money either way, guaranteed.

Then, with money in your bank, you move on to the next bookmaker, in this case Bet Fred, and repeat the same process. That simple process with two bookmakers will make you around £40 depending on the odds.

And there’s loads more bookmakers after that and 99% of them have introductory offers like this. Currently on the Profit Accumulator site there’s 72 introductory offers and you can make money from all of them. It will even tell you on the Profit Accumulator site how much you should be earning from each offer.

If you want to take it further after the first two offers then it does cost money to access the full version of the Profit Accumulator site, which includes the full Oddsmatcher software, daily listings with instructions on each new offer (there are new offers every day), tutorial videos and step-by-step instructions. Plus, after all that – not that you’ll ever finish as the offers are ongoing – then you can move on to the Casino offers which include card games, slots, roulette, blackjack etc as there is free money to be made there too.

If you’re the cautious type, and rightly so, just do the first two free offers from Profit Accumulator and then have a think about it before deciding whether to sign up for either a monthly or an annual subscription. They even do a 7 day subscription for £1 where you can try out the full site. I mean, really, what have you got to lose?

Oh, and one final point. The money you earn is, officially, tax free! Yes, you don’t have to declare it. And there’s not many ways of earning money which you can say that about these days.

You’ve got nothing to lose by having a look and reading about how it works – it might even make more sense than the way I’ve described it here!

And remember, Matched Betting is about betting NOT gambling. There’s a big difference. I’ve been doing this for two months or so and I’ve placed probably a hundred bets but I haven’t gambled once. That’s important.


TIP   Before signing up with any bookmaker for an introductory offer, have a look at a cashback site such as TopCashback. Many of the bookies are on these sites and you can get cashback in addition to the money you earn with Profit Accumulator.


Now, back to the original question. What would you do with £40?  Personally, I used it to make more money by carrying on with Matched Betting after the initial two offers. But I’ll leave that decision up to you!

Use one of the Profit Accumulator links to have a look and try out the first two offers for free.

Thanks for reading.

Jack Diamond


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(The views expressed in our Guest Blogs are personal opinions only and do not reflect the views of PCGraphics.)



A light bulb moment

More thoughts, submitted on an occasional basis by our Guest Blogger:  Jack Diamond.


Light bulbs, it used to be so easy.

When one blew, which wasn’t that often, you would simply take it out and replace it with another. Job done.

Not anymore. Not these days.

Back in the not so distant past, light bulbs came in only one fitting (at least here in the UK) and this was the bayonet fitting. You pushed the bulb in and twisted it, and did the reverse to remove it.

Nowadays it’s not so easy.

Why? Because light bulbs these days come in a whole range of sizes and fittings. Here’s just a few…

Bayonet cap light bulb

It’s smaller brother, the small bayonet cap

Then there’s the Edison Screw, which comes in a range of sizes –

5mm Lilliput Edison Screw; 10mm Miniature Edison Screw; 12mm Candelabra Edison Screw; 14mm Small Edison Screw; 27mm Edison Screw and the 40mm Giant Edison Screw

And that’s before we get on to halogen bulbs or fluorescent and led strip lights.

So, the light bulb in your bedroom has blown. You get a chair, stand under the light fitting and remove the bulb. That’s the easy part.

To your dismay you find the bulb is a screw fitting. All the other bulbs in your house are bayonet fittings. Or are they? You can’t remember.

Checking the cupboard downstairs, you find you have an ES bulb (that’s a screw fitting to you and me) but, would you believe it, when you offer it up to the light fitting you find that what you have in your hand is an SES (Small Edison Screw bulb) and no use whatsoever.

Rechecking the cupboard, you have no ES bulbs, only bayonet and this one SES bulb.

When did it all become so much more complex?

Why do we need all these different fittings for bulbs?

Instead of having just one 40 watt bulb and one 60 watt bulb as spares you now need a whole range of spares in different sizes and fittings. Crazy.

And, let’s not even get started on what happened to the 100 watt bulbs and, more lately, the 60 watt bulbs. Again, back in the old days, in a large room you would have a single 100 watt bulb (a bayonet fitting, of course). But these got banned by the European Union back in 2009, followed by a ban on 60 watt bulbs two years later.

Now, to get a decent amount of light, you have to have three or four lower wattage lights placed strategically around the room. So, logically, you’re going to get through more light bulbs and, therefore, be more often in the position of not having a spare of the right size or fitting.

And this is progress?

And then, to add insult to injury, there’s the cost.

Again, light bulbs used to be cheap but now they costs anywhere up to £4 or £5 for a normal everyday bulb. So, you have to buy more of them (because of the plethora of different fittings) and they cost more.

You’ll have noticed that I’ve talked about 60 watt and 100 watt bulbs. Well, I shouldn’t have, because that’s changed too. We’re supposed to talk about ‘lumens’ now, not watts. But, of course, none of us do.

And – what’s more – even if you still talk about the wattage of a lightbulb, well, that’s changed as well. Take a look at the packaging for a lightbulb below.

28 watt is, apparently, the same as 37 watt.

Pardon? Or should I say ‘What?’

The definition of a watt is as follows:

The watt (symbol: W) is a derived unit of power in the International System of Units (SI) defined as 1 joule per second and can be used to quantify the rate of energy transfer.

(from Wikipedia)

So, someone explain to me how 28 watts equals 37 watts.

As I said, the whole thing is crazy!

But, that’s progress and, as we know, progress is a marvellous thing. Isn’t it?

Thanks for reading. Oh, and remember to switch the light off after you – the bulbs cost a fortune you know!

Jack Diamond


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(The views expressed in our Guest Blogs are personal opinions only and do not reflect the views of PCGraphics.)



Education, education, education

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Back in June 2015 I wrote a blog post titled Dumbing Down Education? where I showed some of the questions asked of 16 year olds sitting their GCSE Maths papers.

Well, I decided to take another look at exam questions following the furore over SATS (or National Curriculum tests) for 11 year olds.



This was the first year that the curriculum has been in operation and therefore the tests have been changed to reflect new, higher expectations of both the teachers and the pupils.

Following the results of the tests, official data shows 47 per cent of pupils did not make the grade in reading, writing and mathematics. Some headteachers had called for the test results not to be published as the results were lower than expected.

So, what were the tests? Were they really that difficult that nearly half of the 11 year olds didn’t pass?

As a matter of course, having two children, one 9 year old and the other 6 years, we download past SATS papers and give these to our kids to try out. Obviously the 6 year old is a long way off being able to do much of what is expected of a child 5 years his senior but his older brother, age 9, is a more relevant example of what might be expected (even though he is still 2 years short of sitting the SATS tests).

To give you an example of what is expected of an 11 year old, here’s the first five questions from the maths tests for 2016.






Now, adding 100 to 987 or dividing 326 by 1 doesn’t seem very taxing. And I can confirm it’s not very taxing for a 9 year old either, never mind a child two years older.

Yes, obviously the questions do get slightly harder as you go through the paper but there’s only 35 questions in this maths paper and just answering those first five correctly is a reasonable chunk of the test.

So, what to make of the fuss kicked up by some teachers and headteachers? Changing the curriculum is always going to throw up a few problems, the least of which is when people compare the latest results with the previous year. Last year around 80% of the children passed the test, this year only 53% did.

But is the change a good thing? On balance I would say yes, it is. One of the more noticeable changes to the curriculum in maths in the past year was that teachers are now allowed to teach the children the times-table. By this I mean teach them by repeating the tables over and over until they become second nature to the child – the way most of us learnt them in the past. Almost unbelievably, teaching tables by rote (by repetition) was not allowed in schools in recent years and, if schools did teach that way, they would get marked down by OFSTED.

So, it seems some common sense has prevailed.

Now all the teachers need to do is ensure that the kids they teach can add 100 to 987 or divide 326 by 1. But perhaps that’s easier said than done when reading, writing and arithmetic have to be squeezed in at Primary School alongside guitar lessons, golf lessons, dance, drum lessons, tennis, trips to supermarkets (I kid you not!) and everything else.

Perhaps, and it’s just a thought, schools should concentrate on the important things (to most people this would be reading, writing and arithmetic) and leave the golf, tennis etc to after-school clubs. But, hey, what do I know? I’m just a parent!


Thanks for reading.

Jack Diamond

(The views expressed in our Guest Blogs are personal opinions only and do not reflect the views of PCGraphics.)



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Compensation culture UK

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More thoughts, submitted on an occasional basis by our Guest Blogger:  Jack Diamond.


It’s gone mad, hasn’t it? Compensation culture, I mean.

I was out driving the other day when I had an accident. Yes, it was my fault, I drove into the car in front. Not a serious accident – or so I thought at the time anyway. The car in front pulled away at a junction and the road was clear in both directions so I followed. Then the driver in front slams their brakes on. There’s a minor bump; after all, we were only going a few miles an hour. We both pulled over and noted there was some damage to the bumper of the car in front so we swapped insurance details. All fine and dandy.

A few weeks later I get a letter from my insurance company saying they are settling the claim for damage to the third party’s vehicle plus paying something in the region of £5,000 in compensation for ‘whiplash’ injuries to soft tissue.

Now, I do have the details of the person who was in the car in front of me, I have their address and phone number. Do you think it would be right for me to contact them and ask them what they are playing at?

I’m not one to call someone a liar but in this instance I shall make an exception. I don’t believe there was ever any whiplash injury in this accident. What I think happened was that the person was contacted by some unscrupulous no-win no-fee outfit and told they could claim several thousand Pounds in compensation if they simply tick this box. It’s probably difficult to turn down that sort of offer, especially if you have very few or absolutely no morals.

No, it didn’t cost me anything, not directly anyway, but it costs us all more in increased insurance premiums. In fact, it costs around two billion Pounds per year. We all have to pay in the end.

It’s interesting to note that 8 out of every 10 personal injury claims in road traffic accidents are for whiplash, yet we’ve had head restraints fitted to every new vehicle in the UK for many, many years now which are designed to help prevent just this sort of injury.

And it’s not just motoring insurance either where this compensation culture exists.

I was reading recently about a woman who is suing a holiday company because she was knocked over by a wave when in the water and broke some bones. Sorry, but how is the holiday company to blame for this? Or is it a case of ‘I’ve been hurt, someone must be to blame’? Someone apart from herself, obviously.

When did we start to blame someone else for what goes wrong in our lives? When did we stop being responsible for our own actions or accept that something might just be an accident and not someone’s fault? And when did we, as a nation, become so morally corrupt that we would lie about an injury just to get a payout?


From the BBC website: Does the UK have a problem with whiplash?

The UK has been called the “whiplash capital of Europe”. It’s said to cost the insurance industry about £2bn a year.


And there’s solicitors who make a living out of making claims on your behalf: 

Bott & Co is a multiple award-winning specialist no win no fee consumer rights solicitors firm … We employ over 105 staff … The business had a turnover of £11.1m in 2015.

Use our whiplash claims calculator below to see how much you may be able to claim.


From the ITV website: Three holiday makers sue travel company after being injured by waves on beach

Three British tourists are suing a tour operator after they were injured by waves at a beach while holidaying in Cape Verde.



Thanks for reading

Jack Diamond


(The views expressed in our Guest Blogs are personal opinions only and do not reflect the views of PCGraphics.)

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Energy – I have the answer to all our problems

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More thoughts, submitted on an occasional basis by our Guest Blogger:  Jack Diamond.

Yes, it’s true I do have the answer to the World’s energy problems. The answer, surprisingly, is Africa. Let me explain.

Africa, as we all know, is a vast continent – approximately 30.2 million km2 (11.7 million square miles). That, apparently, is around 20% of the total land area of the World. That’s big by anyone’s standards.

In fact Africa is 124 times bigger than the UK but with only 18 times as many people. This means huge areas are uninhabited.

What else do we know about Africa?

Much of the continent is hot, dry and extremely sunny. And this is where my plan lies.

Here in the UK much is made of solar panels and we’re encouraged by many people (governments, environmental groups etc) to attach a couple of these to our roofs. The problem is that the UK is quite far north, as is much of Europe, and this affects the amount of sunlight we get.

So, back to Africa.

It’s huge, it’s sunny and hot and not many people (comparatively) live there. Also, apart from a couple of exceptions, many African countries struggle financially. Africa should be, but it’s not, competing with the likes of China as a World economic force.

So, my plan is that we turn enormous areas of the continent – and I’m talking about several areas the size of small countries here – over to solar panel farms. Given what we already know, the amount of sunshine and the vast open spaces, Africa could be the World’s leading supplier of electricity. As a minimum it could supply all the electricity it’s own population could ever need but, given a big enough effort, it could be a massive exporter of energy to the rest of the World.

Think of the other benefits too. Thousands of jobs created across many countries in Africa, prosperity for the population and less need for the rest of the World to constantly throw bucket loads of cash in the direction of African countries. This would have a huge effect on ending poverty across the whole continent and, as a side benefit, the rest of the World gets any excess energy.

It’s a win – win situation.

But, of course, this means thinking big. And many, many charities I feel would be against the idea because their business model would be devastated – there just wouldn’t be all those hungry African babies to feed if the people were all more prosperous.

But, come on, do we really want to help them (and ourselves) or do we simply want to carry on throwing them scraps of comfort from time to time in the form of hand-outs?

And, please don’t tell me that we can’t afford to do this. The UK alone will be spending £16.3 billion in overseas aid each year by 2020. Last year the US gave $32 billion in overseas aid. Other countries also give huge amounts. Imagine if just one year’s worth of overseas aid from every developed nation was given to this project, it would be financed in less than 12 months – and we’d all be getting green, solar power too.

Or, alternatively, we can carry on sticking solar panels on our roofs here in Europe and knocking our electricity bills back by £50 a year whilst giving a couple of quid a year to pay some charity CEO’s overinflated salary.

Do I think it will ever happen? No, probably not, but you can dream can’t you?

Thanks for reading.

Jack Diamond.


(The views expressed in our Guest Blogs are personal opinions only and do not reflect the views of PCGraphics.)


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Dumbing down education?

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More thoughts, submitted on an occasional basis by our Guest Blogger:  Jack Diamond.

Dumbing down education?

Over the years there’s been a lot of comment in the newspapers about the standard of education here in the UK. It’s probably true that most of what is written washes over your head or you think it’s all exaggerated by the newspapers and media. But then, if you start to look into it, you begin to wonder if all those people who talk about education being ‘dumbed down’ in recent years might actually be right.

Recently we had reason to look at a GCSE maths paper. These are all available to download online and the ones we tried were from AQA.

Have a look at a sample of the questions from last year’s (November 2014) maths paper and decide for yourself if maybe, just maybe, we ought to be trying to stretch the minds of our school children a little bit further. Remember, these are from a GCSE paper which is aimed at 16 year olds.

Screen Shot 2015-06-08 at 07.39.30

Screen Shot 2015-06-08 at 07.38.31

There is a maximum score of 66 marks for the paper, but you only need to get 75% correct to get a C grade.

With the greatest respect to anyone taking these tests, you’d have to be having a really bad day not to get a C grade from this paper.

The examples above are from what’s called the Foundation Tier exam – the maximum grade, even if you answer all the questions correctly, is a C grade. If you’re a real high flyer, apparently, you get entered for the Higher Tier exam instead. Here’s some examples of the more difficult questions in the Higher Tier.

Screen Shot 2015-06-11 at 09.22.13

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If you’re like me you’d wonder if they might be trick questions. I mean, they give you the answers in the question – 33 men said yes, they own a car. Question: How many men said they own a car?

‘Show that 24 people were in the museum at 8 am.’ Well, I guess that would be 30 – 6.

And, remember, this is the Higher Tier, supposed to be for the brighter 16 year olds.

Dumbing down education? It looks like they might be right.

Or maybe it’s that, in recent years, there’s a expectation everyone should be able to get a qualification, even if that qualification is meaningless. The same happened with university degrees. At one time they were a sign of a certain level of intelligence or attainment but these days, when it’s expected that just about anyone can and should go to university, the whole concept of a degree gets devalued.

Or, maybe it’s just me and we should accept that 65p x4 or 30-6 are tricky sums for a 16 year old these days?


Thanks for reading.

Jack Diamond

(The views expressed in our Guest Blogs are personal opinions only and do not reflect the views of PCGraphics.)


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Don’t get me started…

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More thoughts, submitted on an occasional basis by our Guest Blogger:  Jack Diamond.

It’s (nearly) holiday time

Well, the holiday season is nearly upon us (unless, of course, you’re reading this in the southern hemisphere when it’s almost winter – bad luck!) and our thoughts turn to those annual two weeks in the sun, maybe in a foreign land.

Before you go, perhaps it might be wise to give a bit of thought to what your expectations are. I say this only because I came across the following article in the Toronto Star recently in which a couple of tour operators list some of the more ridiculous complaints they receive from their customers.

Here’s a few, you can read the remainder on the Toronto Star website:

“We booked an excursion to a water park but no-one told us we had to bring our swimming costumes and towels.”

“The beach was too sandy.”

“No one told us there would be fish in the sea. The children were startled.”

“It took us nine hours to fly home from Jamaica to England, it only took the Americans three hours to get home.”

It obviously takes a certain type of person to complain about the fish in the sea or the sand on the beach, but what is more worrying is that these people are actually allowed to roam loose on the streets!

Or, perhaps, it’s down to the compensation culture which is so prevalent these days? People will complain about absolutely anything in the hope of getting something for free. But, fish in the sea and too many Spaniards in Spain? Really?

Might I suggest IQ tests before people are allowed to book a holiday. Just a suggestion.

Thanks for reading.

Jack Diamond

(The views expressed in our Guest Blogs are personal opinions only and do not reflect the views of PCGraphics.)


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Don’t get me started…

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The European Union

Well, that’s the election out of the way here in the UK. The next thing on the agenda will be the referendum we’ve been promised, which will decide whether we stay in the European Union (EU) or not.

There’s a lot of opinions about this out there in the media and they’ll be a hell of a lot more before the referendum actually comes around.

But what’s the answer? Should we stay in or leave?

Well, I can’t tell you the answer, probably no-one can, because no-one knows all the effects of the UK leaving. And we don’t know what’s in the future for us if we stay in either.

I can tell you something though which would possibly satisfy those on either side of the argument, although it will probably never, ever happen.

My suggestion is this. That we revert the EU from its current state back to what is was originally when the UK joined.

It was known as the European Economic Community (EEC) or Common Market then and, to be fair, we (the people of the UK) have never been consulted on whether we wanted everything which came afterwards. We voted to join a Common Market NOT a United States of Europe.

I’d actually wager that it’s only a very small proportion of the population right across Europe who actually want a United States of Europe i.e. complete political and fiscal union. Most would welcome close ties between the countries on a commercial level. And that was the idea of the Common Market.

So, perhaps we should be campaigning for a Common Market and not an in/out referendum on an EU Super State? Good for business, good for jobs and therefore good for people too. Not so good, however, for all those bureaucrats in Brussels. But maybe, just maybe, we should put our own people and countries first before letting some nameless, faceless people decide things for us.

A Common Market NOT a United States of Europe. It can’t be that difficult, can it?


Thanks for reading,

Jack Diamond

(The views expressed in our Guest Blogs are personal opinions only and do not reflect the views of PCGraphics.)


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Don’t get me started…

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More thoughts, submitted on an occasional basis by our Guest Blogger:  Jack Diamond.


Spam, spam and more spam

Well, here’s a piece of spam – several pieces in fact. Not very nice, is it?



But, obviously that’s not what I want to talk about. I want to talk about the other sort. The sort that ends up in your email inbox every day.

Did you know that approximately 150 billion emails are sent every day? The majority of these are apparently sent by businesses so, assuming most of us work 5 days a week then that’s around 750 billion emails getting sent out every week.

At the last estimate, in 2010, there was just short of 7 billion people in the world. By my calculations that would mean that, every week, each person in the World could be receiving over 100 emails.

Obviously, there’s quite a sizeable number of people around the World who do not have access to the internet or don’t have email accounts and these people are not getting the benefit of the 100 emails each week. Meaning that the rest of us are receiving their share too.

Now, that’s just simply not fair.

I don’t want to deprive these people in far flung corners of the World from getting their share of the email deluge. But, more importantly to me and my sanity, I really, really don’t want to be receiving all this spam in my inbox.

Admittedly I don’t actually get to see most of it, it gets filtered out automatically by spam filters but a proportion of it still gets through.

But it’s just staggering how many emails are flying around the World each day  – 150 billion of them. And how many of them actually get read or even glanced at? If my own personal experience is anything to go by, then only perhaps around 10% of emails get read by the recipient. The rest gets deleted automatically as spam or, if it gets through, is trashed because I’m not interested. Based on that assumption, around 135 billion sent emails each day are considered spam.

With that in mind, it’s hardly surprising that the average office worker spends 28% of their time at work reading or writing emails (these were figures from 2012 so it’s probably more than that now).

What a glorious waste of time! What were all these people doing before we had email? I’m pretty sure we weren’t all sitting around reading and writing letters to put in the post for 28% of every day.

I’d guess that the idea originally was that email would speed up communication but, in effect, it’s simply created more and more communication than we ever had previously. And, if the contents of the spam folder on my computer is anything to go by, the vast majority of this communication is not wanted and a waste of time.

I never liked spam in tins and I don’t like it in my inbox either.


(The views expressed in our Guest Blogs are personal opinions only and do not reflect the views of PCGraphics.)


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Don’t get me started…

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More thoughts, submitted on an occasional basis by our Guest Blogger:  Jack Diamond.


I was listening to the news recently and, out of the blue, I came up with some more quite staggering ideas to help the World run more efficiently. You might remember that I’ve come up with brilliant new ideas previously (see here) but, strangely, no-one seems to have taken up these brainwaves. But, anyway, not to be deterred here’s the latest…

Accident & Emergency

You will all have read recently, if you live anywhere in the UK, about the crisis in the NHS. Apparently there are too many people turning up at Accident & Emergency (A&E) Departments at hospitals with minor complaints, things which should ideally be treated by a GP.

The problem is, so we’re led to believe, that it takes so long to get an appointment with a GP that people go along to the hospital A&E Department to be seen more quickly. Obviously, this blocks up the A&E Department for those who have more serious complaints – actual accidents or emergencies, rather than a cold or sore throat.

Well, my cunning plan is…wait for it…why doesn’t every hospital set up a small department alongside A&E where the less serious patients can be diverted to, leaving the main A&E Department for the serious cases? This other department would be staffed by a couple of GPs – there’s already an ‘out of hours’ GP service at hospitals where you can go at night, for instance, if you have a minor ailment. Well, why not extend this to the daytime too?

The Triage Nurse at the hospital would decide, based on a person’s symptoms, whether they actually need A&E or can be diverted to a see a GP.

It sounds logical to me. But maybe that’s the problem? Huge organisations such as the NHS don’t seem to want to take the easy, cheap, effective solution. They appear to want to spend millions of Pounds on doing research and spending vast sums on computer systems when all that’s needed in some cases is some basic reorganisation and logical thinking.

So, that’s fixed the NHS. Now onto my next brilliant idea.


Black boxes on airplanes

We’ve all read over the past 6 months or so about airplanes crashing and the resultant search for the ‘black box’ flight data recorder (not sure why it’s called a black box when, I think, it’s actually red in colour) to find out the circumstances of the crash.

Well, surely the answer is for airplanes to automatically send the data not to the black box on the plane, but to a central data bank (or several data banks spread around the World) where the data can be retrieved instantly after an incident such as a crash.

This would dispense with the need for divers searching the seabed for the box and risking their own lives. We’re all familiar with ‘Cloud’ back up services for our computers, aren’t we? Well, isn’t it time that aircraft manufacturers caught up with everyone else in the World and backed up the flight record data ‘off site’ (i.e. to one of these data centres)?

Again, it seems so logical and straightforward that you’d wonder why it’s not being done already.

And, look, I wont even ask for any payment from aircraft manufacturers for using the idea (ok, a few grand would come in handy – hardly noticeable in the cost of a plane).


Now for something altogether less serious but slightly daft…

I recently bought a bag of peanuts from Lidl and, for want of anything better to do, glanced at what was written on the packet. And, yes, you’ve guessed it, there was the absurd health and safety notice informing the consumer of said peanuts that the packet ‘May contain traces of nuts’. Not actual peanuts, you’ll notice, but ‘traces’ of nuts!

I didn’t know which was more stupid, that the packager of the peanuts felt the need to inform the purchaser that the bag of peanuts contained nuts, or that I was only buying ‘traces’ of nuts!

Knew I should have gone to Waitrose or M&S anyway!


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You couldn’t make it up 

Twelve thousand five hundred (yes, that’s 12,500) people travelled to Peru – with most of them flying – to talk about CO2 emissions.

Now, does any part of that statement sound incongruous? It would almost be funny if it weren’t true.

While the rest of the world is using text, email, conference calls and Skype, 12,500 people travel to Peru to have a chat. The UK alone sent 45 delegates.

But, don’t worry, there’s more too…

The 50,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide which were emitted during the conference is more than that produced by some countries. Yes, a conference in Peru debating how to cut CO2 emissions puts more greenhouse gases into the atmosphere than several countries. You really couldn’t make it up.

The conference was supposed to be run on ‘green energy’ but that didn’t happen so diesel generators were used to provide the power. Perhaps there’s a lesson there somewhere. Who knows?



And in other news…

“Police were called to a road on the Isle of Wight this afternoon after a vehicle collided with a fence. The incident happened at around 5pm in Bouldnor, near Yarmouth.

There were no injuries, but the fence was badly damaged.”

With all the doom and gloom in the news these days it’s great to have stories like this in the local press. It’s brilliant, but you have to feel sorry for the fence. Hopefully it will make a full recovery.

Thanks to the Isle of Wight County Press for this story. http://www.iwcp.co.uk/news/news/vehicle-collides-with-fence-70444.aspx


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Scotland 1 England 3

No, it’s not the actual game I want to comment on, but the absurdity of this…


The article on the BBC Sport website refers to the fact that the English F.A. have apologised to the Scottish F.A. because of anti IRA chanting by English fans at the game.

Now, I think we all know that the IRA are/were a terrorist organisation. Yet the English F.A. have taken it upon themselves to apologise for some of their supporters being opposed to terrorist organisations and chanting songs which the IRA might, apparently, find offensive.

It really does beggar belief.

Since when has it been wrong to be opposed to a terrorist organisation? Since when has anyone felt the need to apologise for disliking terrorists? Surely any right minded, normal human being would be anti terrorist?

Apologising in case terrorists have been offended by a football chant? I can only think that it’s another example of this crazy, politically correct world we live in.


Political Correctness Gone Mad

Talking about the stupidity of political correctness, take a look at the following article which is carried by a number of newspapers. It concerns a small Primary School in rural England which has been downgraded by Ofsted (Ofsted is the Office for Standards in Education, Children’s Services and Skills in the UK) because it is not ‘culturally diverse’ enough.


You may have thought this stupidity was a one-off but go back about 5 months and we have almost the exact same story, except it’s a school in Devon this time.


The school in Devon are having to send their pupils to meet and stay over with children from a ‘culturally diverse’ school in Isleworth, near London, at a cost to the parents of £35 per child. Three quarters of the pupils at the Isleworth school are from an ethnic minority background. All this for the Devon school to get an ‘outstanding’ rating by Ofsted.

As I said, it’s a crazy, politically correct world we live in.


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Will British people ever think in metric?

The title of my blog this week is stolen (yes I make no bones about it, charge me with plagiarism, I’m guilty) from a BBC article from a few years ago – 21 December 2011 to be precise.

I may have stolen the title but it’s actually a very good question. Will British people ever think in metric?

First of all, how did we start on this road to switch, or attempt to switch, from imperial to metric?

The more recent advances towards switching us here in the UK to thinking in tens and hundreds instead of…well, instead of all the seemingly random units that the Imperial system embraces…started around 1971 when our currency went decimal. As far as I recall (and, it must be remembered I was very, very young at the time), that switch went without too much of a hitch. Given that we coped with that pretty well, what happened to everything else?

The following year the British Government advocated a gradual change to the metric system. In 1973 we joined the EEC (European Economic Community or Common Market) and, by the way, does anyone recall what happened to the Common Market? On joining, we, apparently, agreed to adopt the metric system. And yet, here we are, with 2015 on the very near horizon, and we still go to the supermarket for a pint of milk.

Let’s take the pint of milk scenario a little further…

On the way back from the supermarket we might very well stop and fill the car with petrol. It’s when you’re standing at the pump watching the Pound signs racing past on the pump that you wonder how many miles per gallon (MPG) your car is actually getting. You don’t stand there thinking about litres per kilometre, unless you’re French of course.

After handing over most of your weekly wage to fill the petrol tank on the car you decide to head off home, obviously keeping within the speed limits. Now, what are those limits here in the UK? Ah, yes, 30mph, 40mph, 50mph, 60mph and, on a motorway or dual carriageway, 70mph. Not kilometres per hour, you notice.

And, if you do venture onto the motorway, you’ll notice too that all the motorway signage is in yards and miles.

Now, perhaps because you did that detour onto the motorway just to check out the signs, you realise you’re heading away from home and are getting somewhat lost. Not to worry, leave the motorway at the next junction (with the signs counting down to your exit in yards) and pull up and ask directions. I can pretty much guarantee that the person you ask will tell you something along the lines of ‘Take a right at the roundabout, follow the road for a mile or so, then do another right and you’ll pass the White Horse pub after about a hundred yards.’ From there you can find your way home.

But, as you’re passing the White Horse pub you decide to pop in for a quick one (yes, I know you shouldn’t drink and drive but this is just fiction to make my point!). You go up to the bar and order a pint of Best. Not a litre, please note, or you’d get odd looks from the barman who might start talking in a loud voice to you, thinking you’re French.

Standing at the bar with your pint mug in your hand, your phone beeps. You look at the message. How wonderful, while you’ve been to the supermarket for your pint of milk, bought your 20 gallons of petrol, gone a mile or two down the motorway and stopped for a pint at the pub, your wife has given birth to a baby boy. She’s pleased to tell you it’s a very healthy 9lbs 8oz. You buy another pint, and one for the barman as well, to celebrate.

Wisely leaving your car at the pub as you’ve had a few more pints, you order a taxi and it turns up several minutes later. Jumping into the passenger seat you manage to hit your head. The driver laughs with you and you agree it’s one of the problems of being such a big lad. How tall are you? he asks. Just over 6 foot, you reply and he leaves the car park with a splatter of gravel and a crunch of gears.

Of course, if you’d have been French instead of British you might have told the taxi driver you were about 182.88 centimetres but that would have ended the conversation for the entire journey and he’d have probably overcharged you more than he’s already going to, on the basis that you were a foreigner.

Stepping out of the taxi and fishing in your pocket for the key to the front door, which you hope you haven’t left in the White Horse, you smile to yourself knowing that your weight, about thirteen stone, is in proportion to your 6 foot frame. Hopefully your newly born son will inherit your size. 9lbs 8oz is a good weight for a baby – not that your wife probably thinks that way at the moment, but she’ll get over it.

Walking through to the kitchen, you switch the kettle on to make a cup of tea (which is why you went out to get the milk initially, wasn’t it?) After all, we British love a nice cup of tea. It’s traditional and we don’t give up tradition very easily, do we?


You can obviously see where I’ve been going, rather laboriously, with the above story. After some 43 years we still haven’t embraced the metric system. That’s nearly half a century. Yes, we changed the currency but most other things remain the same – or, at best, we use a combination of both systems.

Personally, I find millimetres and centimetres very useful. I mean, come on, how many of us really want to work with fractions of an inch. Millimetres are so much better than dealing with sixteenths of an inch. No problems there.

But when we get onto the bigger distances, miles are still most people’s default measurement. Just look at all the examples in the story above.

You can buy milk in litres, but you can more readily buy pints of the stuff (or 5 pint bottles if you have a thirst on). And, of course, everyone calls it a pint of milk – except the French, but then they do eat frogs and snails. Enough said.

The only fly in the ointment are our schools where, probably on the orders of Government going back to 1973, they teach our school kids in kilometres and litres. All well and good, but it does leave us to teach the kids at home what miles and pints are. After all, these kids will have to grow up in the real world where we still use Imperial for half or more of our measurements.

Now, you’d think it would be pretty difficult for any nation to run two measurement systems side by side but I think we actually manage it pretty well. We use metric for some things and Imperial for others. Horses for courses.

Except, aren’t horses measured in hands and racecourses in furlongs? Oh, no, that’s just going to confuse things further.

Will British people ever think in metric?  No, probably not. Some things are just too ingrained into us.

But one question does still remain unanswered. What happened to the Common Market that we joined way back in 1973? It seemed like such a good idea at the time.


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Well, this week I’ve put my thinking cap on and, amazingly, come up with a solution to some of our problems here in the UK.

The problems I’ve solved are to do with defence, border controls and financial budgets.


It was simple, really. No, it was. Listen…

The first step in my mind-blowingly simple plan is for us, and here I mean our leaders in Government and our military chiefs, to stop bombing and invading other countries. I know, it’s radical, isn’t it?

And, here’s how it works.

We pull all our overseas troops home to the UK. The UK currently has troops in a number of foreign countries (source) – Kenya, Sierra Leone, Brunei, Canada, Cyprus, Germany, Gibraltar and the Falkland Islands. There’s possibly more. And this list doesn’t include those we’ve invaded or bombed recently e.g. Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, and, going back a few more years, places like Kosovo.

So, now that we’re not bombing or invading other countries, what do we do with all these troops that we’ve brought home?


We use them at ports and airports around the UK to bolster the struggling UK Border Control staff. After all, these military people are all part of our Ministry of Defence, so what better job for them to do than to actually, physically defend the UK’s borders?

The clue to this thinking is really in the name, the Ministry of Defence. It’s not called the Ministry of Attack, or the Ministry of Invade or Bomb Other Countries. Their job is to defend the UK and what better place to start than at our borders?

This policy of not bombing or invading other countries will also have a few other knock-on effects which will be positive. It will save us billions, yes billions of Pounds annually. In one conflict alone, Afghanistan, it’s cost the UK around £37 billion (source). That’s one hell of a price for a war which really has very little to do with us and which has probably contributed, along with our incursion into Iraq, to many of the terror atrocities here at home.

Our bombing of Libya is estimated to have cost around £950 million (source). And that was without any troops on the ground – allegedly. The outcome of this bombing? Libya is fast becoming classified as a ‘failed state’ (source).

So, there’s plenty of money to be saved by not invading or bombing people. Plus we get a big increase of personnel at our ports and airports, which can only be a good thing.

I could also get started on our stock of nuclear weapons (who are we planning to use these against? Our major enemy these days are terrorists at home and we certainly wont be nuking them, or at least I trust not). So, why do we need them?

But, that’s for another day. For now, bring our troops home and make the UK a safer place. Oh, and save a bucket load of money too.


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This week I’m taking a look back in time with ‘Whatever Happened to…


First, whatever happened to – Repetitive Strain Injury?

Does anyone remember when repetitive strain injury was about as common as the adverts on Downton Abbey (for the uninitiated, Downton Abbey is a period drama on UK TV interrupted every few minutes, it seems, by adverts)? It was caused by doing the same actions, usually involving the upper arms or fingers, repeatedly and intensely over a period of time.

According to the NHS website repetitive strain was ‘a general term used to describe the pain felt in muscles, nerves and tendons caused by repetitive movement and overuse.’

So, basically, it was caused by using muscles a lot that hadn’t been used in a while previously.

And people were taking time off work for this and getting moved to do different jobs because of the ‘repetitive strain’ of doing that one task over and over again. There were even probably a few individuals who sought financial compensation from their employers for the effects of repetitive strain injury.

I wonder what today’s teenagers would make of repetitive strain? My guess is they’d probably ignore it. I mean, have you seen the speed teenager’s move their thumbs when texting or updating their Facebook statuses? And they do this for hours at a time – walking in the street, sitting on buses and trains, on the way to school, on the way home from school and, probably but who knows, during lessons at school as well.

Repetitive strain is a thing of the past. I can’t imagine any kid these days running to their mother, complaining about the pain in their thumbs from constantly texting.

Did it ever exist? Undoubtably, some people got sore muscles from doing one task too frequently over a period of time. I have the same problem when I kick a football around for 90 minutes non stop. My muscles ache.

Today’s kids, with their constant texting, have put paid to repetitive strain injury.

Whatever happened to – Acid Rain?

If you were around, and read the newspapers or listened to the news, in the 1970s or 1980s, you will undoubtably have heard of acid rain. It was, we were told, going to destroy all our forests and woodlands and, following that, probably civilisation as we know it. Well, what happened to it? Everything went quiet on the acid rain front.

Now, don’t get me wrong, I have no doubt that acid rain actually existed. In fact, if I remember my geography and physics lessons correctly, all rain is acidic. But this version of acid rain was apparently caused by coal fired power stations.

Obviously, we in the UK took steps to shut down our coal fired power stations. Problem solved.

Or not. From news reports of only a couple of years ago, China was building 363 new coal burning power stations. On top of that, India was building 455. There were 1,200 coal plants in the various stages of planning across 59 countries.

So, what happened to acid rain?

I’m not for one minute suggesting it never existed and that we were misled by governments, environmentalists and the sensationalist section of the tabloid press, but we have far, far more coal fired power plants than in the 1970s and 1980s and yet no-one speaks of acid rain these days.

Perhaps it’s simply because we’ve got bigger and better things to worry about these days?

Whatever happened to – Swine Flu?

You must remember the swine flu epidemic? It was only a few years ago and our government here in the UK was forecasting 65,000 deaths in this country alone.

So, what happened to it?

Well, there was swine flu and it did kill some people – mostly those with pre-existing conditions. How many people did it kill in the UK? Certainly not the 65,000 that the experts were expecting.

The actual number of deaths from swine flu in the UK was 457.

So, we had a massive over estimate of the number of deaths. What else? Oh, yes, the government, in their wisdom, made plans to buy 132 million doses of the swine flu vaccine. The population of the UK is about 64 million. So, that would have been more than two doses of the vaccine for each and every person in the UK, assuming that every person wanted the vaccine (or, indeed, wanted two doses of it).

Why, you have to ask? Why would any Civil Servant or Minister in the Government sign a contact for that number of vaccines?

The total cost of the swine flu pandemic was put at over £1.2 billion. That’s 1.2 billion Pounds of our tax payer’s money here in the UK.

So, what happened to swine flu?

Again, yes, it did obviously exist – 457 people died from it. But it wasn’t the massive, looming disaster that we were, again, led to believe.


So, I have to ask, do you believe it these days when governments, environmentalists or anyone else give us warnings of doom and gloom about how the world is going to end, imminently, if we don’t do something quickly (which, it seems, usually means paying money to someone or raising taxes)?

I, for one, have become slightly, just slightly, cynical over the years.



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After the vote

Now that we’ve got the independence of Scotland out of the way we can move on to other matters. How about independence for England? Or, independence for the south east of England? Failing that, may I suggest that the Isle of Wight reforms it’s independence party – I say reformed because there was a movement by the Vectis National Party to change the Island to a Crown Dependency in the 1970s.

An independent Isle of Wight? Is that a daft suggestion? Maybe, maybe not. The Isle of Man is a Crown Dependency and seems to do ok. And the way solar energy farms are springing up across the Island, plus, more recently, the requests for permission to build wind farms off the south coast, it’s not inconceivable that the Isle of Wight will be energy self sufficient in a decade or two. So, maybe independence is not so far fetched after all.

Of course, an independent country will need a leader. We all know that our current political leaders are inept, both locally and in Westminster, so we’d need someone new. Someone untainted by the past fiascos of those in power. Someone intelligent, strong, knowledgable, affable and, most of all, modest.

Now, even though I’m a shy, retiring type of person and not one to push myself forward, I could possibly be persuaded to offer my services as leader of the new Island State. But, and I can almost hear you all saying this already, why stop at simply calling myself ‘Leader’ – why not make me Emperor or King?

King Jack of Wight does has a certain pleasant ring about it, even if I say so myself. I’m also very good at waving and looking haughty, which are, indisputably, requirements for the job of monarch.

And once crowned as King, what would my first decree be? Well, the first one is fairly simple. Reduce the stupidly high ferry fares to and from the Island. Ok, we wouldn’t be reducing them so much that it encourages the riffraff to travel across the Solent – we’re trying to encourage the discerning visitor after all – but just enough so that it doesn’t put off the more desirable elements of society. I mean, we do have some standards. Of course, though, anyone from Basingstoke or Germany would be banned outright, which I’d assume, would be a universally popular decision?

Someplace to live would be next on the list. There’s nothing wrong with where I live at present, but would it really be suitable for a Head of State? Probably not, in my opinion. So, I’d need somewhere more in keeping with my new-found prominent position in society. My tastes are fairly modest as far as this requirement goes, so a small residence such as that once so loved by another monarch, Queen Victoria, would perhaps be suitable.


(Osborne House, once the summer home of Queen Victoria on the Isle of Wight)

Osborne House fits the bill admirably – not too ostentatious, an extra bedroom or two for guests and room in the grounds for a vegetable patch – and I could possibly be persuaded to relocate there. There is the slight problem that Osborne House is run by English Heritage at present but that can be sorted fairly easily. After all, once we become independent, English Heritage wont be on the Island and the property will be looking for a suitable resident. I am willing to be that tenant – though, obviously, I wouldn’t want to be saddled with the running costs of the monstrosity so that would have to be paid from local taxes. But I’ll leave the subject of taxes to another time. Some people get upset at the thought of paying taxes to keep monarchs, Prime Ministers and even Members of Parliament in the style to which they think they deserve to be kept, so I’ll wait until I’m King and settled in to my new abode before levying the taxes upon my subjects.

Next, there’s an awful lot of elderly folk on the Isle of Wight and that’s all very nice and proper but I do think it would be best for them, and for everyone else, if they were moved  to a remote, unvisited corner of the Island. Or Chale, as it’s known locally. Better for them and better for the visitors who come across. I mean, no-one who goes on holiday wants to have to fight their way through hordes of dribbling grannies to get to the beach or be run over by mobility scooters being driven by demented OAPs. So, better for everyone if they are moved to Chale, out of harm’s way.

And that’s just for starters. I’ll keep all my other plans up my sleeve until after independence and until I’m crowned King of the Island. I think that’s the way it’s done, judging by what I’ve seen elsewhere. It’s never best, apparently, to tell the general public too much or, as in the case of our current politicians, anything truthful at all.

So, you see, what could possibly go wrong with independence? I’m all for it.


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Back to school

Yes, it’s that time again. Now that the long summer holidays are drawing to a close, all our little angels are marching proudly back to school this week.

New uniforms have been bought. New shoes purchased or old ones polished to make them look respectable for the start of the new school year. But one piece of uniform you can’t have at our local Primary School is a scarf.

No, not even when it’s the middle of winter and there’s three inches of snow on the ground are the children allowed to wear scarves inside the school grounds. Why? Yes, you’ve guessed it, it’s Health and Safety. Children can get strangled by scarves. I’m not sure how many children lose their lives each year because of scarves, but the school isn’t taking any chances.

And there’s other crazy rules too.

Come Christmas time, little Wayne or Chardonnay (or whatever the latest chavvy names are) will possibly come home one day from school and be delighted to tell you that they are appearing in the school play at the end of December. They might be one of the shepherds, or an angel or, if they’ve been really good all year at school and not been excluded from too many classes, Mary or Joseph.

And how brilliant, with modern technology and communications, that you could catch the little darlings on video and send copies to your friends and relatives to watch them too. And, of course, in years to come, you’ll be able to look back at them and see how little Harry or Britney started their careers on the stage.

Except you can’t, at least not in our local Primary School. Why? No photography or video is allowed on the school premises – and this includes school plays, sports days etc. No, seriously, it’s not. Or, to be accurate, no photos or videos are allowed to be taken by parents.

School staff take some photos and will sell those pictures to the parents should you wish to buy them, but you can’t take photos or videos of your own children yourself.

And why is that? The reason is that if any parents, at the start of the school year, state that they don’t want photos of their children taken, then a blanket ban is imposed on every child in the school. Yes, the wishes of the minority outweighs those of the majority – hardly democracy in action.

But, perhaps best of all, was one Christmas time the class teacher was asked by a parent if she could write down the first names of the boys and girls in the class so that their child could send everyone a Christmas card. You would have thought that would be straightforward, but no, you would have been wrong. The Head Teacher had to be consulted in case it broke the Data Protection Act or, God forbid, infringed someone’s Human Rights (Ok, the Human Rights bit was an exaggeration, but you get the drift). In the end, common sense did prevail and the child was able to send cards to all her friends and get the names spelt right, but what madness that the teacher actually had to ask if it was alright to give out the children’s names to another parent.

When exactly did all this nonsense start? I know we have to protect children, but sometimes it just seems to go a bit crazy.


There’s something wrong…

Isn’t there something wrong when a footballer, and one unknown to many of us in the UK, can be paid £280,000 per week – yes, that’s £280,000 every week –  (http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2740187/280-000-week-Britain-s-best-paid-footballer-Colombian-star-Falcao-signs-Manchester-United-loan.html) when we as a country can’t, it seems, even afford to offer a little five year old boy cancer treatment costing around £65,000 (http://www.theguardian.com/society/2014/sep/01/ashya-kings-parents-remanded-custody-judge-considers-extradition).

Words, for once, fail me.


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Military jet escorts Qatar Airways plane to Manchester Airport

This was a news story recently in the UK and I’m sure it happens in some other countries too. A Royal Air Force fighter jet was scrambled and escorted a commercial airliner into Manchester airport after a note was passed to the aircraft captain saying there was an explosive device onboard.


There’s also amateur footage of the Typhoon jet circling around the Airbus 330.

Now, my question is – what is the purpose of the fighter jet ‘escorting’ the commercial airliner to the airport?

It can’t be to reassure the passengers, many were quoted as saying they were terrified and thought they were going to die when they saw the Typhoon jet alongside their aircraft.

If there was a bomb and it went off, what would the Air Force jet do? At best nothing, at worst it could get caught up in the explosion.

Or is the policy to shoot the commercial jet out of the sky if the situation worsens? I can’t think of any other reason for it being there apart from this. And would a RAF jet really shoot down a commercial airliner over the UK? Would this be sanctioned by the government?

There’s a huge outcry from some quarters in the UK when the police open fire on armed criminals etc. Can you imagine the reaction if a commercial airline was shot down by the RAF?

So, given all this, why is a military jet sent up to ‘escort’ an airliner?


A Monster in the Vegetable Patch

There’s probably a number of plants which could make a claim for being the most vigorous in the growing department but I’m going to make a nomination here for a plant, a vegetable in fact, which we grow here in the UK, and it’s a pretty common one too. My vote goes to the humble courgette.

Surprised? You probably wont be if you’re a gardener and grow vegetables. Anyone who has grown them knows how rampant they are. They start off as innocuous little seedlings but, given a month or so in the ground, they turn into rampaging monsters.

And never, ever turn your back on them and go away for a week’s holiday (God forbid you go away and leave them for two whole weeks) because in that short time you’ll come back to huge monstrosities lurking in your vegetable patch.

It’s not only the size of the plant, it’s the fruit (yes, the part of the courgette plant you eat is actually a fruit) which grows to massive dimensions if left unattended on the plant. And, unless you have a family of twelve to feed, then don’t ever be tempted to grow more than one courgette plant. These things throw out new fruits each and every day, sometimes several appear on each plant overnight. So, unless you and your family are on a serious courgette only diet, then just plant the one. And don’t be tempted to go away on holiday and leave it to its own devices. You’ll need a machete to deal with it if you do.


Eating Out

Ok, I’ll own up straight away, it’s mostly McDonalds, Burger King, Wimpy and the like I’m talking about here. It’s fair to say that these are fairly relaxed establishments – the food is cheap as is the decor. But, is it reasonable, even in these restaurants, to allow your children to run around screaming and annoying everyone else or, as we saw recently in a Wimpy restaurant, two kids around 7 or 8 years old lying on the tables?  Yes, I did say lying and not leaning. I’m talking about getting up on the table and lying flat out. This was with the mothers of the little brats sitting at an adjacent table and taking absolutely no notice. Or, probably more accurately, not a case of not noticing but either not bothering to tell the kids to get off the table or finding nothing wrong with what they were doing.

Now, obviously, every child plays up from time to time and tries to push the boundaries, but what is the mentality of the parents who simply let their children do whatever they like? Or is it something in the set up of these places which makes parents feel it’s ok for the kids to act like this? I don’t know. But what I do know is that none of the 6 or 7 staff actively on duty, and not particularly busy, felt compelled to go over and speak to the little angels or their parents.

So, is this sort of behaviour simply accepted these days? Or, should we as the other customers, the general public, intervene and tell them to get down off the table or to stop running around screaming or throwing their food around? Would you?

If you did speak to them I’m fairly sure you’d get a mouthful of abuse – and not just from the parents either.


And, while we’re on the subject of eating out

What is it with computerised ordering systems in restaurants that make them so inflexible, or is it simply the waiters?

And why am I even bringing the subject up?

Whilst travelling a little while ago, it was convenient for us to stay, and eat an evening meal, at a Travelodge hotel. No problem and everything started ok with the soup course. Unfortunately, the roll provided with the soup was of the miniature variety. Again, no problem, just ask for another one. Or so we thought.

But, it seems, with the computer system they use, you can’t simply order a roll. It can only be served with soup.

So, what would most waiters do in this situation? Easiest thing, you’d think, would be to go to the kitchen and bring a roll to the customer. But no, apparently they can’t do that. It has to go through the computer and the computer says you can’t order a roll on it’s own.

Yes, I know, it’s only a bread roll and nothing to make a fuss about. And we didn’t. We were just a little perplexed by it.

The worst thing really is that this Travelodge was at one of Britain’s main airports. Somewhere that many hundreds or, more probably, thousands of foreign visitors pass through each year. What, we wondered, would someone from Italy or France or anywhere else make of this? It’s not the best introduction to a new country when you request some extra bread with your dinner and the answer is a straight ‘No’.

Either the computer system needs a kick up the backside or the waiter does.



(The views expressed in our Guest Blogs are personal opinions only and do not necessarily reflect the views of PCGraphics)


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