Monday, 23 July 2012

A Timely Ketchup on Recent Events

So it has been rather a while since I put pen to paper. I suppose it is not really that I could find nothing interesting to blog about in the political nanosphere, it is that too much of it falls into the category of 'same shit, different day' and it tires me to drag out a new example of the same argument I (and many others) have already made. I now realise that the hard thing about journalism isn't making current affairs interesting to the public, it is making them seem different to the current affairs you've been spewing out forever.

I could write about banker bashing, but we've been there before. Bottom line we need a thorough look at the regulatory system because it allows far too much shenanigans, but we must realise that the sector as a whole is one of the few areas of world politics and commerce (as if they were that different) where we are still at the top table. Indiscriminately attacking everyone and everything in the sector will only hurt us, especially with the British public's new-found hatred of money and anyone who has it or produces it.

Which I suppose brings me nicely onto the subject of the court of public opinion and its apparent role in people accepting bonuses. I think Stephen Hester (way back) and Bob Diamond (more recently) should have told the Government and the British people to go take a long walk off a short cliff. Their pay packets are none of our business. They are also none of the shareholders' business once they've had their say in agreeing remuneration packets. Ultimately, if Boards fail to include penalty clauses like "If you mismanage the bank so wildly the Government will have to rescue us by buying 80% of our shares, which incidentally will plummet to a tiny fraction of their original worth" then more fool them. Clearly Big Steve came in after the RBS crash and didn't preside over it, but you get the idea.

If they fail to add the clause "If you preside over an illegal rate-fixing PR disaster that you might not technically be incriminated in, but is sufficiently bad for you and for the company that you resign following a huge share price drop", then the CEO is perfectly entitled to walk away with whatever gains he/she can, ill-gotten or otherwise. This is because…wait for it... THEY HAVE A FUCKING CONTRACT. I wrote that in caps so nobody missed the point. The answer to the issue of massive payoffs for failure is not guilting people in the court of public opinion into waiving bonuses or pay to which they are legally entitled. It is getting people to write contracts properly so if the nuclear power plant blows up, the Board can contractually remove the bonus from the outgoing chief exec of Chernobyl.

But I'm not going to go on about that again.

Nor am I going to bang on about Trades Unions striking at the time most likely to screw everyone over despite their already comfortable pay arrangements and constant underperformance. Today, I would clearly be talking about the Public and Commercial Services Union, to whom the UK Border Farce belong. Obviously you know what I think of them, and what I think should happen to them. Not quite Clarkson style execution in front of family members, but not far off. They have no leg to stand on. They are a joke. And they're trying to ruin the Olympics. But I'm not going to bang on about that.

Nor am I going to make yet another comparison between that dark side of the public sector who blackmail the country into paying them bonuses just to go to work, or not even to go to work over the Olympics (as they are contractually obliged to), and the military, who are yet again filling the gap, not just without extra pay, but in many cases, instead of holiday. That would be going over ground we already well know. So I won't bother.

I could express my dismay at the continuation of our farcical judicial system that places the rights of immigrant terrorists and criminals ahead of British, law-abiding taxpayers, with their deference to the most ill thought out piece of legislation ever, the ECHR, but we've been there before.

I could bang on about the Lib Dems with a massive 8% hold on the UK's votes demanding what are, considering the current climate, irrelevant (and poorly thought out) bits of legislation be pushed through, or else they will bring the whole house down as if they were equal partners. Big Dave knows the Lib Dems can't afford to split because from now until 2015 is the last influence on power they are likely to have for a generation, because nobody will ever vote for them now they've had to deal with the realities of actually being in Government. Problem is, Cleggo knows that the 10 point deficit the Tories lag behind Labour also means a snap election would be bad news for them too. They need the next couple of mini-giveaway budgets and they need their European luck to turn.

Who really deeply cares about Lords reform, or realistically when there is only a limited amount of political capital around, about gay marriage? They are both on a list of things that we'd like to do after we stop the world falling apart. This doesn't mean we are evil Lord-loving, gay-hating Tories, it means we understand priorities. As ever, pollsters will be able to tell you that x and y % of the population are on either side of both arguments. What they fail to point out is that neither topic would make the 'top 10 issues that will influence the way you vote' index for more than a handful of people. But we've done that one to death too.

There are a few more things I cannot bring to mind right now, but which I have got very close to writing about before realising I would simply be nudging you, the solitary reader, to a hyperlink to some crap I wrote last year (which I've helpfully done with the hyperlinks above, in case you're really bored). So I'm going to write about a point of minimal political significance but one which has roused me into action after over 2 months off. Yup, it's time to go to town on condiments as you may have guessed from my genuinely brilliant title…

My quarrel is not actually with condiments, but with when I am in restaurants the timing of their appearance on my table of late in comparison to that of my food. Ditto cutlery. It is totally beyond me why when someone takes an order of fish and chips, they wait until they have put the plate in front of you, hot, steamy and asking to be devoured, before asking if you'd like any of the normal accompaniments or even some fighting irons with which to eat. Amazing.

These are people who earn much of their annual wage from tips. And they don't have the foresight to put knives and forks out, or preposition a likely array of condiments before bringing the food out, piping hot. I can imagine how a competent server might deal with this…

Server: "Chef, how long for table 2's fish and chips?"
Chef: "About 5 minutes"
Server: "Right, I may as well bring them their ketchup, vinegar and cutlery now so I stand an outside chance of a tip."

Alas, they instead deliver your food and ask if you would like ketchup with your chips as if they had asked if you would like a toasted sandwich comprising a walnut whip and a paperback copy of the Homer's Iliad. Dumbstruck at your adherence to nutritional form, they wander slowly back to the kitchen to return with some of your requests just after your food has gone cold.

The blame is owned jointly between the serving staff and the manager. And our current educational standards. Oh, looks like we've been here before too..