Wednesday, 26 October 2011

Value Added

Value added refers to "extra" feature(s) of an item of interest (product, service, person etc.) that go beyond the standard expectations and provide something "more" while adding little or nothing to its cost."

This is from the wikipedia entry for the term 'Value Added', it has different meanings in different circumstances, most notably in areas of tax (VAT) and the Marxist versus Neo-classical accounting of Value Added but I only managed to get about half dozen words into that part of the Wikipedia entry before being overcome with a desperate urge to injure myself so I had to close the page down, but not without first noting that, whilst Marx espoused and promoted many communist doctrines, he led a very Bourgeois lifestyle funded mostly by a chap called Friedrich Engels, the son of a rich textile manufacturer during the 19th century. It was Engels' who regularly embezzled funds from his father's business so that Marx could send his daughters to private school and keep his wife in the aristocratic manner to which she was accustomed. Marx even took a job as a foreign correspondent for the New York Daily Tribune but his English wasn't good enough so Engels did the work whilst Marx pocketed the salary, like any good communist would.

You may think I digress but in this instance; I don't. Engels (other than being surprisingly gullible) did a great deal of work for the poor, especially the plight of Children in Victorian times, which is what I'm going to waffle about in a wee minute, children, except not in Victorian times.

So what does Value Added actually mean? When you go into a mobile phone shop to buy a- well; a mobile phone. VA (I'm going to say it often so I'll shorten it) is all the crap manufacturers and sellers add on so you can pretend to be able to discern one product from another. A phone is a phone, all it needs to do is make and recieve phone calls and texts. I know I'm being a Luddite but you know it's true, VA is the crap that makes you buy one phone over another. If you look at your phone now, a lot of the features it has you won't ever have looked at, my phone has a pedometer for example, my last phone had this thing where if you turned it on and shook the phone, a bobble-headed figure would shake and gyrate on the screen.

Although it goes without saying, it was for that feature alone I chose the phone.

Schools and colleges have also been VA'd. At college and University you are told by lecturers (arguably to get you in the door) how much you can earn if you do a course with them and how their course is tailored in a specific way. I was told I could comfortably command in my first job a salary of some £12k per annum; I managed £3.5k. (It was a while ago and it may just have been me.) I imagine a young person leaving university being doubly horrified on discovering not only are they tens of thousands of pounds in debt but their earning potential is such that a McJob would offer better renumeration than one in their chosen field, and not just in the short term either.

Schools are worse and in a very subtle way more damaging, their idea of VA is far more insidious. They actually VA your kid, by never telling them they've lost, by never allowing them the experience of being at the bottom of the pile so there-for 'a bit shit', they are in fact adding value that does not exist. That child will go to high school or University (or not as the case may be) with an entirely unreasonable expectation even of themselves, all because of VA.

What VA is, is all the extras you don't need, the reason you don't need them is because they are without substance, they have no net benefit in the real world. The notion that they are sold as adding value is all the more damaging because they specifically do not.

If you think I'm still talking mince, think about it in terms of money? I have a pound, a bank has just offered to hold on to it for me which is handy because I might lose it otherwise. The bank has also offered to give me £1.02 back which is nice except, in order to do that, they've sort of not told me they'll be using it buy some liabilities they've been told are worth £1.20, if the liability is honoured the bank gives me my £1.02, keeps 18p and all is well, assuming the liability is honoured of course. The bankers (abetted and enabled by politicians) went bat-shit-crazy and burned the lot, all that Added Value was actually just 'Value Added', just smoke and empty promises and as valuable a bobble-headed dancing gnome on a mobile phone.

VA versus Enough. I capitalise the word Enough because we need to get back in touch with it as an aspiration, I know that sounds stupid but it all depends on how you quantify Enough. In terms of flat screen TV's, is it 32 or 48 inches? 'Enough' isn't the depressing proposition you might think it is, it's about not over extending yourself, its about knowing your limits and working within them, its about knowing how far to push those limits without shooting yourself in the foot.

Most importantly, its not the destruction of aspiration, it's the understanding that aspiration is something you work towards, not something you just get. At the risk of sounding like one of those awful motivational posters with dolphins and blue whales on, aspiration is as much about the journey as it is about the destination. You'd appreciate a good view from the top of a hill if you walked up a heck of a lot more than if you got the chairlift.

Over the past few years, I think (inasmuch as I can) we've VA'd our aspirations aided & abetted by the Internet, easy credit and a sometimes cretinous, often lying manipulative political class who for thirteen years told us how well we were all doing. It worries me slightly that, like the shit kids at the arse-end of the egg & spoon race tripping over their own feet who's parents gamely told them they're doing 'great', the establishment idiots were telling us things were fine & prosperous when in fact we were about to veer spasmodically into the kid next to us and collapse into a spoon-gouging heap of entangled limbs & egg innards.

What I'm really looking forward to is how those establishment idiots are going to persuade us all that there are no losers at this particular sports day, every one is a winner and we'll even get a rosette to prove it.

I'm going to stop there, I keep going back to my 'view from the hill/Chairlift' analogy, its giving me the strongest urge to tell myself to fuck off.

Friday, 21 October 2011

Debt as money

With so much going on just now in the world regarding the economy and who owes what to who, what country owes what to other countries, its hard to know where we're going to end up. The tails of doom and gloom that abound in the main stream media seem to hint at some sort of apocalypse, even now I'm not sure anyone really knows what the outcome will be.

It seems to me to be entering the realms of farce when we have the people who caused it making the rules about how we deal with it given all the crap going down is because we let them make the rules while they caused it to happen, or something like that, I know what I mean. Some say we need 2 trillion to adequately deal with the debt in Europe alone, Greece (unfortunately seeming to reside at the bottom of the pile along with Portugal, Ireland and Spain) is due everyone money, Spain is due France money and France is due Germany money. It should be noted, when they talk about Greece being bailed out, that isn't true, all there doing is increasing its line of credit with French and German banks, in effect, French & German banks are being bailed out. The money isn't going to Greece to pay the wages of firemen etc, it's merely being added to the already bulging overdraft in German & French banks so they can loan even more money to Greece to pay those wages. Don't think it's just French & German banks either, I only use them for the sake of brevity, UK banks are in the shit with Greece and others as well.

Meanwhile the Greeks squeal because they're having to sell off public services to service a debt they have no possible way of ever clearing with a creditor who shouldn't have loaned the money in the first place.

Individually we're probably all decent sensible people, mostly anyway. As a mob though we are horrible grasping selfish oiks with only our own interests at heart. Why? Who knows, many blame Thatcher (many can no longer remember her) and many more blame New Labour (who many wish to forget.) Politics is boring this is true, but its important. They spend your money on your behalf, or at least they should, more recently they've been spending it on their own and the banks behalf. More importantly, not only have they spent your money now, they've spent it far into the future, your grandchildren will be paying for all of this.

I fully admit to being a bit of an idiot in these matters, I need things spelt out in the simplest terms and I think you do to so here goes. Think of this as the first economic pop-up book. If you do happen to know anything about global economics and see a mistake here, don't bother getting in touch, it's the Internet and nobody believes anything they read here anyway.

First of all the basics. In the simplest terms there are two types of debt, sovereign and personal debt. Sovereign debt is that which is owed by a countries government, personal debt is that which is owed by you. In the case of the former, a government might borrow money to pay for infrastructure projects (a hospital or bridge for example.) In the latter case (you) you might buy a frock and stick it on a store card or buy some Viagra online thinking it won't show up on your credit card bill but it does anyway.

From our point of view this seems fairly straight forward, except. From the Banks point of view it isn't. Its all the same money to them, it wasn't until after the credit crunch they decided to try and ring fence retail banking (our bit) and investment banking (the government and commercial bit.) Its already getting complicated isn't it but bear with me.

So retail banking. This is your current account, savings accounts, mortgages, pensions annuities and many more things beside that I know and don't know about. The investment banks (the commercial bit) took all that money and lent it out to countries and other banks. All that money you paid into your pension has been loaned to Greece, or I should say added to the overdraft limit Greece has with French and German Banks. That money has gone. The government might say they'll guarantee it but with what exactly, they don't have any money either.

I know what your thinking, if our money has gone, what are they borrowing now? Well, countries like Germany and China run a trade surplus, basically they make more stuff to sell more than they buy in. I suppose the easiest analogy would be you having money left over from your monthly income, you have a surplus. That extra money could be making more money, so they lend it at 3, 4 or 5% to other countries like Spain or Italy. (You will have heard of countries being 'downgraded by Moodies or Standard & Poor? They rate countries by their ability to pay, cunningly the less able a country is in paying its debt, the more expensive it is for that country to borrow money, turns the whole thing into a self-fueling perpetual motion nightmare.)

In all of that, the main difference between you, the government and a bank is this. When you get to the end of a month and you have no money; you have no money. When a bank gets to the end of a month and has no money, it can effectively open another bank account (or balance sheet,) shift the overdrawn total into it and pretend nothing ever happened (this is bank making up the rules as it goes.) When a government runs out of money at the end of the month it can borrow money from the bank after it's carried out that wee shuffle and crucially, if the bank decides actually, we've shuffled more than we should have, government steps in and tells the bank 'don't worry, we'll do some QE'ing which means you can extend the overdraft limit on those overdrawn accounts so you can keep lending'.

A lot of people talk about money being printed with bail outs and QE'ing (one and the same thing by the way) but no money is being printed, its being added on to the banks bottom line so the country (read; it's banks) overdraft limits don't look quite so bad, this (apparently) appeases big business & the 'markets' (read; the banks) and keeps things ticking over.

Now. I've tried to read all that back and if I'm being honest, it looks like I've been possessed by Robert Peston, well, Robert Peston on a really really bad day. Ok, not Robert Peston at all. The upshot of it all is we're stuffed, if I was you I'd start stock-piling tinned foods and weapons. As it happens socialism and capitalism doesn't work because as a group, we are all insanely greedy. Also, people who aspire to positions of great sway and power shouldn't be allowed to have it, they seem to have neither the wisdom or sense of civic responsibility to execute the role safely.

Anyone with a degree in politics should be forever barred from being a politician, they can be a pundit on the telly where they can do no harm. Anyone who aspires to be a banker, should be made to understand they personally will be held responsible for any loses they make, the country (us) will not socialise (shoulder) the debt their mistakes create.

Most importantly though, QE'ing stands for Quantitative Easing. Hold on though, there might be to many 'it's' in there, Quantititat- no... Quantatitat- don't think so... Quantatitative eas-...

Anyway, turns out that blog post about making toast and cooking pasta in the kettle might be handy after all since soon enough we won't be able to afford to turn our cookers on, if we even have cookers...

Friday, 14 October 2011

A rough guide to...

Living in town.

Apropos of nothing at all, well, other than I am bored this Friday afternoon at work, I have things I could do but they are more boring (by a considerable margin) than this. Also, this activity serves the double purpose of amusing me for a few moments and wasting some of your valuable time, although you may not realise that until you've stopped reading and started to feel mildly cheated.

As you may or may not know I live in town, its Edinburgh so not exactly a crawling metropolis, it's a pleasant place big enough in which to get stabbed but small enough so you could very well bump into the person that did it the following day, assuming you survived the ordeal. It has all the challenges you'd expect to have in a city and many you might not, here is my rough and not altogether accurate account of what they are and how you can survive them.

No self-respecting city can claim to be so without having its fair share of beggars. Edinburgh is quite posh so the beggars on balance tend to behave differently, for example, in Glasgow the type of money that jangles is usually acceptable but in Edinburgh, it needs to fold. Edinburgh beggars are far more well-to-do sporting as they very usually do such accoutrement as mobile phones, filter cigarettes and dogs wearing waistcoats. I can't afford to buy my dog a waistcoat and I don't know about you but walking past a beggar forcing him or her to interrupt what might be a very serious phone call to ask me for money is very awkward and more than I can stand; I there-for cross the road and so should you.

A universal golden rule with beggars is this: Never ever engage in conversation with one, you will never ever be able to extricate yourself from the ensuing friend-ship, if you try to end it they will put you on a such a powerful guilt trip soon you will feel obliged to let them bunk on your sofa, there isn't enough Febreze in the world to counter that.

A different sort of beggar one with an identity badge and such a bubbly, energetic visage and  'mission' that you'd like to douse them with petrol, set them alight then not piss on them. They'll be collecting for Whales, Dolphins, abused dogs/cats/OAP's/children/birds/blind people but conspicuously not pedestrians who just want to get to the other end of Princes Street without being made to feel like the most selfish, unfeeling bastard the world has ever known. These pious little shits line Princes Street, you can see them a mile away, people going to extraordinary lengths to not be sucked in to the vortex of righteous enthusiasm, a huge vacuum appears around these charity lepers less someone be ensnared. The price of release? Your bank details and a generous direct debit for the cause.

Recent studies in Edinburgh have shown that the prime spot for charity collectors is outside Debenhams, the reason being; most local people know if you go into Debenhams via one door and try to exit from another, you're lucky to reappear in the same century never mind city. Ok, there was no study but I once bought a cardigan for my dad there and had to take it back, when I bought it I found my self exiting a different door roughly near to where I entered. When I went back I wanted to enter via Rose Street (the back door) and exit onto Princes Street (the front door.) I'm not sure what happened, I did go in the back door, couldn't find a way through to the front of the shop, went up some stairs, down an escalator, possibly went somewhere in a lift (I don't remember exactly) and got spat out into a Victorian street scene in Cardiff; I was very nearly mown down by a horse and trap!

Ok, I made that up. But I swear it was Cardiff because I saw John Barrowman.

Pikeys/Chavs/General Ne'er-Do-Wells
I have experimented extensively having had the opportunity to do so by living in the shit areas of Edinburgh, Sighthill, Pilrig and the part of Leith they forgot to gentrify to name but three. You need to be careful in town, covered in this section is theft, muggings, general assaults for no reason and being punched in the head by Polish people.

Understand though, 99% of the time you'll be fine in town, it's actually quite nice, not so much so on a weekend evening though. As a rule you probably shouldn't walk around with the tell-tale white wires hanging from your ears, it screams "I'VE GOT EXPENSIVE SHIT ON MY PERSON!" It's an invitation, if the choice is between someone without earphones and someone with, the person with the earphones is going to get taxed, (an interesting slang term for robbed.) Similarly while abroad of an evening, watch those corners, always take them wide, same goes for dark recesses. You might laugh but one day it'll save you your pride and possibly your life.

If I can impart a lesson taught to me by an ancient Native American Warrior brave named; my Granda. He demonstrated that while walking with your hands in your pockets, people seemed not to want to get out of your way, they won't even turn sideways. However, walk with your hands swinging confidently by your sides; people are far more accommodating and keen to 'make a hole' as they say. Try this, its absolutely true, it also helps if you froth at the mouth and mutter under your breath.

Pikey eye contact is a double edged sword. I'm old and miserable and believe me when I say; I look it. There are a great many Pikeys where I live, a Pikey by the way is the kind of person who doesn't work, speaks from a point just behind their nose and wears sports kit although doesn't indulge in actual sports, except the odd cross country run if the police are in attendance. They are generally spotty, sallow toned and shouty, if for example they have forgotten to impart some important morsel of information, they won't phone the person (Pikeys always have good phones) they'll yell, scream and shout the person's name (usually Becky) down the length of the street until they are hoarse to the point of death, (usually after about a minute because these people are always close to death, some might argue; their only endearing quality.)

Pikeys in some respects are like Beggars, indeed many are beggars which explains why if you befriend a Pikey they will not ever leave you alone, which is where eye-contact comes in (I knew I'd get back round to it some how.) Eye-contact is dangerous, they will either instantly become your BFF or will stab you, different ends of the social interaction spectrum you'd agree. The trick is to let your eyes slide away to the side directly on to something else, always to the side mind, never up because that signifies disdain (you might get stabbed) and never down because that signifies weakness (you'll either get stabbed or they'll move in with you and you'll be the one on the sofa.)

I think when you live in town for long enough you develop a certain bearing that says 'stay away from me or I will kill you where you stand'. Obviously if enough alcohol has been imbibed it's of no use because your assailant will be blind, but then that in itself is useful because you can then beat the crap out of them and teach them a lesson by stealing their clothes and leaving them in a cemetery to be eaten by a fox.

I am continually exercised by the existence of pikeys, I could go on at length but I'll stop here.

Except to say, never ever offer first aid to a pikey, if you do you will be punched in the head by the same gang of Polish people who beat him up.

Public Transport
It's quite simple, don't use it, specifically during rush hour. Unless you want to sit next to people of indeterminate hygiene standards in a germ filled metal box then have at it. Off-peak it's not so bad but Edinburgh isn't so big that nothing is more than a brisk walk away, I know what you're thinking but it isn't and you know it.

I should probably say something about the trams, I never get political here because others are far more persuasive than I and more authoritative to boot so I'll just say this: The trams are the fault of the Unionist parties in Government and on Edinburgh City Council, the SNP did not support the idea at any point and recused themselves from all debate knowing that not commanding a majority (at the time in government or at all on the city council,) they could do nothing to stop it dead. Indeed, a little known fact about the trams are, Iain Grey was the Labour Minister for Trams pre-2007 when Labour and the libdems were in government at Holyrood, that was before he was boring everyone to death as leader of the Labour Group in Holyrood and talking nonsense on a full time basis.

Hopefully once they're finished more stringent standards of passenger cleanliness will be enforced, else the upholstery will be ruined within days.

To summarise.
I'm summarising because although I find it really hard to start these blog entries I find it almost impossible to stop. Living in town has its advantages but so does living elsewhere, its great having all the shops nearby, the eateries and stuff. I suppose I should say it's vibrant and multicultural (which means 'like Poland'.) If I had the money I'd have a place in town and a place in the country, when I get bored of one I can recharge at the other. In the meantime, I hope for an increase in the population of urban foxes and a decrease in the population of Pikeys in general.

I'm off to work on my facial tick, frothing at the mouth is just so five minutes ago...

PS: On the off chance anyone is reading these, please leave a comment, even if its only to say the blog is shite. I'm beginning to feel like Will Smith in I Am Legend.

Monday, 3 October 2011

Trading Places

This is a great film with Eddie Murphy, Dan Ackroyd, Jamie Lee Curtis and Denholm Elliot. With those names on the bill you know you're going to be entertained. Obviously it probably won't appeal to the Dodge Ball/Eurotrip/Freddy Got Fingered demographic as it requires a more highly evolved sense of humour (I say that but I'm a huge fan of Ace Ventura so I'm being a hypocrite... Again...)

The film's plot starts with Duke & Duke, two rich and stuffy brothers who also happen to own a vastly rich futures trading company. They make a bet that they can transform a homeless, penniless criminal yob into a high flying executive while turning a high flying executive into a homeless, penniless criminal yob. This they manage to do with Murphy (he plays Valentine) being ascendant and Ackroyd (who plays Winthorpe) going downwards.

I'll leave you to watch the film if you haven't already, it has some classic scenes not to be missed. One thing that always did confuse me though was how Valentine & Winthorpe turned the tables, eventually they get together and have their own bet involving ruining Duke & Duke as Winthorpe was ruined by them.

It's all about futures trading, here's how it works.

I'm sure it isn't as simple as this and some artistic license was involved, Futures Traders buy and sell commodities without actually owning them. They can buy or sell on the promise that when it comes to providing the goods for sale or purchase, they have the where-with-all to do so, if they don't; they go bust, if they do though; great profits can be made, that is the Futures Contract. The commodity Duke & Duke hoped to make a killing on is Frozen Concentrated Orange Juice (FCOJ) and they have an ace up their sleeve in that they know the results of the orange crop report, or think they do.

Winthorpe and Valentine get to the report before the Dukes do and doctor it to show the crop is going to be bad due to cold weather. Duke & Duke will buy and keep on buying, the price won't matter because they're going to corner the market in FCOJ, since there would be a shortage (with the poor crop report) when it comes to physically selling it, the price would be sky high; supply and demand.

What actually happened was Winthorpe & Valentine sold FCOJ Futures Contracts while they were priced high (Duke & Duke frantically buying drove the price up as other traders tried to get on the band wagon.) At one point they were selling at $1.45 (remember, they didn't own anything at that point, it's the Futures Market. The cash-changing-hands part comes much later.) Everything pauses for the crop report announcement from the US Government, which is that it was a good crop. Cue mayhem as people try to offload all the FCOJ they bought at $1.45 before the price collapses entirely (remember, supply and demand; if there is a lot of something it's intrinsic value falls.) The price drops to $0.66 (eventually bottoming out at $0.22,) meanwhile Winthorpe & Valentine buy futures frantically while everyone else sells sells sells because FCOJ Futures are so hugely over valued.

For every future unit Winthorpe & Valentine had previously sold at $1.45, they purchase a matching amount for only $0.22, resulting in a profit of over $1.20 per unit.

It's all virtual money until the bell rings and trading closes, other traders have to physically pay for the FCOJ Contracts that Winthorpe & Valentine sold at $1.45 then physically sell them back at $0.22. Duke & Duke did most of the buying and none of the selling so got landed with thousands of FCOJ Futures Contracts they bought for $1.45 but could only sell for $0.22!

It's a natty way to make money and topically, one of the main reasons your fuel bills are so high. Traders gambling on future supplies of Oil & Gas, if a Trader in Futures Contracts buys high because they think production will be low but production turns out to be high, they'd lose money, well, they might except they just pass the loss onto the buyer (your utility company or petrol station chain) who in turn pass it on to you.

Its not just Oil & Gas either, everything  is traded on the futures market, from food stuffs (grain, pork bellies and beef) to chemicals and precious metals. If the traders gamble and lose, so do we all. If on the other hand they win, they get rich and we still pay the going rate, the money they make does not pass on to us in the shape of savings. Socialising the loss but not the profit.

Not so natty now is it, although it's still a good film.

Sunday, 2 October 2011

Home sweet home

That last blog entry was irreverent even by my standards, when I read it back to myself I couldn't help but think: pasta in the kettle? Really?

Anyway, on the same topic (lifestyle) hopefully this missive will make more sense, I'm finding it hard to decide where I want to live, I've done small villages, towns and cities. I've not lived in the middle of no where on the basis that it would be boring but having lived in the city (as far as Edinburgh can be called a city) I find the peace and quiet living in a field miles away from anywhere or anyone increasingly attractive.

If you live in town and earn average money you'll be domiciled in a flat (or apartment if you're American, I say that because on checking my reader stats, someone from Alaska read that last entry, I assume he or she is cooking up a storm with their kettle as I type.) Flats come with certain drawbacks, for example living above somebody who thinks their sitting room is a recording studio or below someone else who thinks they are an Olympic gymnast who has hard wood flooring. A detached house in the country, preferably a castle offers a degree of solitude and silence not available to some one living in a block of flats, in fact, it's not really the mode of living that is the problem; it's the people. Obviously you or I don't fall into this category (which we'll call the Selfish Cunt Category, I only use that most extreme expletive because I like alliteration) but most other people do. For example where I live at the moment the man who lives below me has a keyboard in his front room, I know its a keyboard because he plays it at full blast at 1am (it was Bach's Toccata and Fugue in D Minor, you know, the Dracula music?) I banged so hard on his door, his next door neighbour answered their door and told me to tear him a new one for being a selfish bastard. (Obviously I didn't do that, I politely requested that if he insisted on playing his keyboard at that time of night, something a little more soothing would be preferable, say Satie's Gymnopedies or Beethoven's Moonlight Sonata.)

One of the other downsides of living in a town or city (or some villages) are pikeys. The best way to describe these people is this: when you see a clump of them arguing on a street corner, you are tempted to mow them down with your car. They have a common look involving leisure wear shoplifted from JD Sports over sallow-toned skin and an emaciated frame. They are usually no younger than 20 but no older than 45 (their only advantage being a low life expectancy.) These are the people who shout and argue outside Lidl or Farmfoods, they have a nasal plaintiff pitch to their voice, one that immediately invites a punch in the face.

More over, they are of no net use to society (unless you compare and contrast their existence with your own, an exercise which will instantly make you feel better about yourself.) If a brainy person was to invent an in utero test to detect the presence of the pikey gene, the offending fetus could be aborted before sullying society with its presence.

In terms of quality of life when living in the city, these people for me are the single most annoying factor, they lower the tone needlessly.

Another factor is gossip. I spent time in a small village and it was rife, the funniest thing I ever heard was one confirmed gossip telling me (without irony) not to speak to another person because they were a gossip. (The notion that blog posts are a form of gossip is not lost on me before you accuse me of hypocrisy.) Living in the city means gossip is not possible, there seems to be a critical mass of population after which gossip ceases to exist, I don't know what the figure would be and geography has a lot to do with it to I suppose. People can be nasty though and the malicious gossip (even if its unintentional) for me means smaller villages are not good places to live. It's to easy to get drawn into the internecine politics of the place, what starts off as harmless chat becomes an exchange of information then ends up being a full on brief behind a persons back, like a trial being carried out in camera with out the knowledge of the accused.

Cities on the other hand (pikeys not-with-standing) are just to busy for gossip so have that working for them. Having takeaways on your doorstep is no bad thing either, well, it is and it isn't. Its handy but it makes you fat and lazy. (Referring back to my last blog post, I would have starved or died in a fire were it not for them.)

So, that leaves us with the middle of no where. A farm house or croft perhaps with no neighbours for miles around, is that the answer? I can't lie, I'd be bored stiff and I'd probably go a bit mad. I have this picture of myself sometime in the future riding a horse into the nearest village for my newspaper and rolls, or maybe on a cow, you mock but it would be good for tourism and would serve as a focal point for the residents. They could gossip about me to their hearts content but since I'd be living in a yurt in the middle of no where I'd never hear about it.

I think on balance I'm going to aim for an abode in the middle of no where or a mid-sized village next, one that is to big for gossip but not to big to have pikeys. Who knows, if I find a property with some land I might get that cow so I can go for my messages, I think cows are cheaper than horses to keep and if you become dissatisfied with it in any way; you can just eat it.