Saturday, February 28, 2009

Size 6 is the new size 8?

I'm on the prowl again for clothes. (Compare/contrast previous post here and here) Smarter, slightly more formal, well-tailored clothes.

So I found myself at a local store looking at all the 'petite' consignments. Can't believe the Size 8 were so large ten years ago. Perhaps I have shrunk. It is well-known that women are prone to become smaller and slimmer after having a baby, you know, after all that running around after a bundle of energy ... not.

Perhaps I need to go for a size 6 instead, but if these stores have a size 6 they are hung up on a rail where a normal size 6 (unless she is very, very tall) cannot reach them. Some just can't be bothered to stock a size 6.

Maybe I am living in a part of UK where size 6 (previous size 8) do not exist.

Normal size eight, "Extra Small"? The sleeves or trouser legs are always too long.


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Monday, February 23, 2009

Money, manufacturing, farming

I've been thinking a lot -- off and on -- about the current 'economic crisis'.

Some thoughts have been well covered. Eg: it has made many people re-think their priorities.

For many, out of necessity, having had an income disposed of, a disposable lifestyle comes under re-evaluation. This past weekend we were at a sewing machine shop. And my! it was busy. Suddenly it seemed everyone is thinking of sewing their own clothes.

Then we read about allotments coming back into fashion. Both because people are more concerned with what goes into their food as well as saving those few pennies (which add up to pounds) and what a lovely way for a family with young children, for example, to do something together and literally see the fruit of their labour. It's highly recommended.

Today we were woken up by news of a van manufacturer (Russian owned) facing financial woes. Whilst no one is surprised by that I cannot help but think: what audacity! To ask the government (ie me the taxpayer) to cough up another 'rescue package' so that their owners/prospective buyers could profit from it.

When times are bad, these manufacturers come cap in hand begging for help. But when going is good do they go "Here, take these profits and share them out." ?

Sure they pay their corporate taxes and so forth, but I will bet you my last penny that they would have engaged some tax accountant (and paid them lots of money) and done their sums to make sure they do not pay one penny more tax that they need to pay.

Why then should we now bail them out?

This is a Russian-owned company. When the going is good, the profits go back to some Russian oligarch. It is the same with the Japanese- and Korean-owned companies.

The government offer them incentives to set up, the government gets good spin about creating jobs, yay! and then because they are foreign-owned there is ALWAYS a danger that these jobs would go (the parent company would move operations back home), and then what? The UK government will basically be held to ransom. That, in pure and simple terms, is what these rescue packages are about.

Us the taxpayers pick up the tab to save the government from a lot of egg on face. Deja vu. The only SHORT TERM benefits are workers finding work when foreign investors 'invest', cheering the government on, and voting them back into office.

The most frightening thought though is this: Mao (Tse Tung) was right, to send the people back into the fields. [Chill down my spine.]

Well, not everyone, just those capitalists, academics, poets, musicians, anyone with a brain who could think up subversive ideas and who therefore needed to be rusticated.

But comes a recession like this, cars will not feed people, clothes will not feed people. Only food will feed people.

True I agree that the UK must "maintain a manufacturing base", but what good is car manufacturing when we run out of oil to power it? The manufacturing base must move with the times to produce products that will be needed to keep industry going, people moving, and food being stored and transported.

Mills for cloth weaving? More efficient bicycles? Sacks for storing food? Perhaps?

What about our agricultural base? In recent years this country has become more and more reliant on imports to feed their people. When there is plenty of land to farm, land/farming policies have made it unprofitable to do so.

For me any 'return to the land' would have the awful spectre of the Chinese Cultural Revolution. However the need for food (and water) and the political implications of not having enough of this (these) are far too frightening to contemplate.

Perhaps this recession would cause a 're-balance' in this thinking?

I live in hope.

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Wednesday, February 04, 2009

Snow, stuck, stick

Monday: snow. About to get son up for breakfast when I thought I had better check the school website to see if school is open. Surprise, surprise. The headmaster had decided to close the school.

Some of our staff and families do have a long way to come. Just as well I had cancelled my eye appointment, knowing that it would be snowing.

Son was happy to stay at home but wanted to follow the school timetable. Sure. So we started with prayers. Then 'Maths' on a website. Then spelling. Then it went to pot.

Meanwhile husband had trudged off to work at 6.45am as usual. Son rang him at about 8am to say 'school's closed'. He was stuck down the road, north of Wembley. At about 9am he rang to say he's at Baker Street but could go no further and was heading home.


Tuesday: no new snow but school only opening at 10am. Very sensible. They had taken care to clear the snow and gritted where it matters. Unfortunately the public roads and pavements were not gritted at all. I did the school run with a walking stick "to triangulate", I explained.

The chances of falling over are lower when your legs and the walking stick form a tripod. As the arthritis in my spine means I should avoid any trauma to it, I was not keen to fall on the snow.

I had to take a few parcels to the post office and opted to walk instead of drive. Probably a mistake. Met a few young boys with snowballs in their arms. Obviously their school was not opened. I think they were throwing snowballs randomly at strangers. But they saw my stick.

No, they didn't dare, because I would have thwacked with my stick.

Half an hour in the Post Office queue. Thankfully I had my stick to rest on.

The worse bit was having a young girl behind me making boring, banal conversations on her mobile. Really, I have no intention of knowing what Aaron should be doing and what this other person on the phone would do should she decide to get married, etc. etc. She kept edging up close to me every time the queue moved. I used my stick to put some distance between herself and me but it did not always work. She bumped into it twice.

To have someone making meaningless one-sided conversation down your neck -- literally -- is intolerable. After about 20 minutes I heard a voice telling her, "Please don't come so close. I'm tired of listening to your conversation!"

It probably shocked all those other people behind and around, but I could not stand it any longer! Thankfully she did not say a word and simply complied. Then she stopped.

I don't mind people using their mobiles for emergencies. But to talk at length on matters of little/no consequence in close proximity to strangers is surely one of the most understated irritants of our time.

Wednesday: pavements today even worse then yesterday. Whereas it was slushy where it was sunny, it is just icy and slippery today. I must have nearly slipped about seven times. Had it not been for my stick.

Bins not emptied. Roads and pavements not gritted. Treacherous. The Council is just going to let the elements clear the snow, it seems. Must complain. What do I pay my Council Tax for?

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