Saturday 16 March 2019

The price of envelopes

       Every day is a school day? Many a time we have heard that. Well, today I have been handed a lesson in photography - something I never knew I needed. In fact, as a youngster I did do a course in the subject but sometimes, as they say, it is hard to see the wood for the trees or, in my case, the plasterboard for the furniture. I have always been a man of self belief so it was with reluctance that I hired a professional photographer to 'shoot' our new house and boy, am I glad I did. With proper gear and an experienced eye, rather than a cheap phone standing on a chair, he has created a masterpiece. A palace by the sea, if you will. When I look back at the snaps I took when we got the keys to this place, just 15 months ago, and compare them to now, I have to say it makes me rather proud.
    Something else I am also getting lessons on is fly fishing. My father was an avid fisherman, chasing salmon from the Tenbury Teme to the Tay and I never quite saw the attraction. But here I am, a good few years later with a new rod, reel, line and box of brightly coloured fluffy things. Admittedly, as yet, I haven’t much idea what to do with it all but a pal has promised to take me to a local lake where the goal is to catch a trout for my tea. I may go hungry for a while!
    It is quite rare in this column that I don’t mention the eco-mental fraternity getting on my goat and this month I really have to rant about the treatment of that good old house-wive's choice, James Bond. No longer can he tear up the France Riviera in his beautiful Aston DB5, but instead, in the next film episode due out soon he is issued with a save-the-planet electric car! OK, it is still an Aston Martin, possibly British made, but is this really necessary to degrade this hero to that level, so that when he races after villains, he will need to stop and plug-in every 100 miles? What if there are no handy 240v sockets when he is hurtling around rural Russia after baddies? Will he just park up and walk? Or get the bus? Maybe Q can give him a fold-up bike to stick in the boot for such emergencies? It is nothing less than an outrage, I say. Might as well arm the poor chap with a spud-gun as well?
    On the tenuous subject of goats, they seem to have made the news this month. Firstly a herd of 120 wild Kashmiri goats wondered down from the snowy mountains of North Wales and invaded the town of Llandudno, presumably to watch the rugby. After a lot of complaints about the smell, one spokes-goat said, 'we put up with it for a while but it was a bit rough! We just had a few pints and a pie and chips in the Kings Head, but after that things got a bit out of hand when the locals started chanting anti-goatish songs and talking about curry. A few of the kids ended up in the cells but we are happily back on our mountain again now!' Then, just a few days later we hear about Belle the Pigmy goat who was stolen in Shropshire and presumed cooked. Then, a few days later she turned up wandering around a train station in Manchester, surely not the safest towns for such creatures. Just how she released herself from the clutches of such evil scoundrels in unclear but at least it gave the press chance to divert their Brexit headlines with 'Escape Goat!'
    While trying my hardest to steer away from government discussions at present, for obvious reasons, I would like to raise the subject of inflation and, more poignantly, how it is calculated. Somewhere out there amongst the corridors of power, somebody with a clipboard makes decisions about what is and isn’t in the 'basket' of consumer goods that are measured annually to see if they have gone up in price. My simple question is 'why would you leave things out?' Apparently envelopes and armchairs are now excluded, but Alexa speakers are recently on the list and I am not quite sure how they arrive at that decision. For example, according to one statistic, more households in UK have a voice-activated speaker than a pet rabbit! From which I ascertain that a lot of people must own pet rabbits - which are excluded from the calculations? A 3-piece suite may double in price next year but that won't matter a fig as it isn’t in the basket? Isn't that called manipulating the figures? Here is a more significant example: if the current level of inflation is really only at 2%, then why have my gas, phone, electric, train-fare and council tax bills all gone up by ten?  
    And so, after our 4 month long stint, in a few weeks we will packing up our small change and heading south to France for some summer again. Each year this gets a little harder as I find myself more attached to this Fife coast, with its quirky streets, friendly pubs and stunning views. I will be back for a couple of weeks in May to progress with building our extension, and again in July for a wedding, both of which I am already looking forward to. Maybe the time has come in our life to make some decisions about where we really call home these days.