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Sort out passports, UKBA, for the country’s sake

April 28, 2012

The news today is full of reports of 2-hour queues at Heathrow to get passports inspected.

I remember the halcyon days of international travel, back in the 1990s, when getting back into the UK after a trip abroad was a breeze. You stood in line for a few moments with a queue of maybe 10 or 12 people ahead of you. The passport official (now the UK Border Agency of course) took a cursory glance at your passport and you were in.

Back in the halcyon days of travel only getting into the United States was tricky and time consuming. Today getting back into the UK, Read the rest of this entry »

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It’s hard being young

October 28, 2011

It was George Bernard Shaw, that most quotable of authors and playwrights, who said, “Youth is wasted on the young”. He had a point, but the young don’t have it easy, and while I wouldn’t mind having youth, I wouldn’t want to be young again today.

Getting an apprenticeship isn’t easy

My nephew has not had the easiest start in life. Oh, don’t get me wrong, he grew up as part of a loving family, has a doting mother and four gorgeous siblings, and a fantastic auntie and uncle who took him on all sorts of adventures (guess who that might be). But he suffered with “glue ear” when he was young, ended up having to have grommets and now has mild hearing loss; he also has mild dyslexia. So his education wasn’t the easiest. He dropped out of sixth-form college after having been badly hurt in a car accident – as an innocent pedestrian I should add.

Since when he’s had a series of jobs, none of which really offered him the career potential that he is capable of. Earlier this year, inspired by a friend of his, he decided he’d like to qualify as an electrician, and started looking for an apprenticeship. Read the rest of this entry »

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Is F1 really a sport?

July 29, 2011

Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy watching motor racing, and I particularly enjoy Formula 1 when the outcome of a race is being seriously contested. But this season the introduction of DRS (drag reduction system) following on from KERS (kinetic energy recovery system) in 2009 makes we wonder what’s going on, and whether F1 really is a sport.

While all sports can suffer rule changes during the off season – rugby has particularly suffered from this, and football (soccer) notably had the controversial offside rule changed a couple of years ago – changing the rules and introducing technology that gives the slower driver an advantage over the chap infront doesn’t seem like cricket to me. Read the rest of this entry »

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George Washington’s PC?

May 12, 2011

In early 2007 I decided my Windows XP Home PC had to go. But I hated Vista. I managed to buy one of the very last Acer Aspire desktop PCs running Windows XP Media Edition. I used it until two weeks ago. I always felt it was a good purchase and a good, reliable and decently performing computer.

But it started blue-screening sporadically, complaining about disk and memory errors.

Read the rest of this entry »

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What recession?

January 28, 2011

In the last recession I worked out three measures to determine the state of the country’s economy, and how I could tell things were picking up.

The first was the number of people on public transport during the rush hour. My logic is that no-one in their right mind would travel into London during the rush hour unless they had to. And the primary reason they have to is because they have a job. The number of empty seats, or conversely the number of people standing, on the train in the morning is a good proxy for the number of people employed and therefore the state of the economy.

Read the rest of this entry »

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Does it have to be like this?

October 7, 2010

A tweet from the inestimable Bill Thompson (@BillT) this morning about being over 50 and throwing yoghurt on his trousers prompted me to contemplate the pros and cons (mainly cons, I admit) of being in my 50s. It has to be said that it’s a bit depressing…

What was I saying? Yes, that’s the worst. I haven’t got to the point of forgetting what I’m saying mid sentence yet, but I’m sure it’s coming. I sure as hell forget what I climbed the stairs for, only to remember just as I reach the bottom step. I guess the exercise is good for me.

I am the invisible man. I work in the City of London, most of the time    Read the rest of this entry »

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Is it worth jumping red lights?

July 20, 2010

More on cycling – if this isn’t of interest to you then I’m sorry, but I do it (almost) every day, so it figures large in universe of things I think about.

It’s widely known that cyclists (especially in London) jump red traffic lights. It’s also widely known that the Metropolitan and City of London Police forces are clamping down on this practice and issuing £30 on-the-spot fines.

The publicity surrounding this made me wonder what difference, in terms of journey time, it might make.

So I conducted an experiment, and then observed other cyclists.

Read the rest of this entry »