Responsible Spending

I saw this staggering statistic about English public spending in the latest issue of Money Week.

If public spending had only grown in line with inflation since 1997, we could have abolished income tax, corporation tax, capital-gains tax and inheritance tax, leaving the taxpayer £200bn better off.

Governments have gotten very rich in the ten years of financial boom prior to the onset of the credit crunch. In the UK the Labour government has managed to spend it all and nothing was put aside for leaner times like um a global credit crunch.

I suspect people will look back on the UK governments fiscal looseness during the boom and wonder whether they were mad, drunk, on crack or all of the above.

Yesterday I rode past a dead cyclist in Holborn

Just after 9am yesterday morning I rode through the intersection of Southampton Row and High Holborn as I do on the way to work every day.

Yesterday the intersection was surrounded by police who had a white tent set up and were filming the intersection. Rather ominously a large white lorry parked half way around the corner of Southampton Row and High Holborn. I chatted with another cyclist about what the likely reason for the white tent was. He suggested it was probably another stabbing as the UK is having an epidemic of them at the moment.

I forgot about it until today when I saw this newspaper banner outside my office in Holborn.

Holborn: Cyclist Dies in Lorry Crash (Evening Standard)

This is the full article form the Evening Standard. Cyclist killed in lorry collision is the second victim in a week

Time Team are filming in Chancery Lane

The British archeology show called Time Team are digging across the road from my office on Chancery Lane.

Phil Harding was at the dig site on several occasions but there was no sign of Tony Robinson (Baldrick).

I asked one of the crew what they were digging for and he said “old buildings”. Well that is certainly a surprise then usually they just look for broken pots.

Time Team filming at Chancery Lane

Dans le Noir

As part of my birthday weekend celebration Rachel organised a meal at a French restaurant where the room you eat in is completely dark and the waiting staff are all blind. The food was great but the novelty value was excellent.

When you arrive at the restaurant you are asked to put your valuables and anything that might emit light like mobiles and cameras into lockers. Then you are organised into a line with your right arm on the shoulder of the person in front of you and the waiter leads you into the pitch black dining room and navigates you to your table. At the table you have to orientate yourself and those around you to the space around you. We shared a table with a group of random Aussies and before Rachel realised this she called out to the waitress that she thought she was on the wrong table. Once orientated we realised that we were all yelling at each other. Something about losing one sense made us amplify the others to compensate I guess. Eating and drinking was also a challenge as we couldn’t see what we were doing. Of critical importance was organising the distribution of the red and white wine and not mixing them up. The end result was a fair bit of spilled wine and people who wore white shirts feeling silly. At some stage we were delivered additional wine that we didn’t order (and thus didn’t have to pay for) so it all worked out in the end :)

All in all a fun night with good food. The French staff were poorly organised and often rude which just added to the hilarity of the evening.

This is my best photo of the evening.

Dans le Noir

May Day is now “RSS Awareness Day”

As they say on the rssday.org site:

RSS (Really Simple Syndication) is a format used to deliver information from websites and pages that get updated regularly. An RSS document (which is called feed) contains either a summary or the full content from a website.

The main benefit of RSS is that it enables people to stay connected with their favorite websites without having to visit them. Once you subscribe to a particular RSS feed, you will automatically receive updates from the website that publishes the feed, whenever they release new content. The video below illustrates the process.

RSS Awareness Day

The previous owners of “May Day” the communists and other hard core lefties had a march outside my offices in Holborn London in protest.

May Day march in Holborn, London

ANZAC DAWN SERVICE IN LONDON

This morning I got up at 4am and rode to Hyde Park Corner to participate in the Australian and New Zealand Army Core dawn service to commemorate the Aussie and Kiwi soldiers who have gone to war for their countries. The service starts at dawn to match the time that the ANZACs first hit Gallipoli beach in Turkey 93 years ago. Eight months of bitter military stalemate later 2721 New Zealand, 8709 Australian, 33,072 British, 10,000 French and 87,000 Turkish soldiers were dead.

New Zealand has had worse days while fighting for King and country but the Gallipoli campaign was the first.

In 1914, New Zealand’s population was just over one million. When the war began 124,211 men joined up and 100,444 went overseas. This was a staggering 10 percent of NZ’s population. 40% of all men aged between 18 and 45 signed up. Per capita New Zealand made the largest contribution to World War 1.

The last ANZAC dawn service I attended in London was on a hungover Saturday morning in 1998 just after I first arrived in London. That service was at an Australian memorial in Battersea Park and only a few dozen people turned up to hear legendary Australian orator Clive James speak. From memory he talked about how modern historian’s views about the Gallipoli campaign had changed and as he was saying what they had changed to a slow low flying plane flew over and I missed it all.

Today’s service at the new New Zealand memorial on Hyde Park Corner was attended by a much larger crowd as ANZAC commemorations seem to be undergoing something of a global revival. This service was a much more religious affair with lots of prayers and songs to Jesus the so called “prince of peace” etc. I guess it’s hard to tell young men to run towards machine guns if they don’t believe they will go to a better place when it inevitable goes badly wrong for them.

ANZAC Dawn Service Hyde Park Corner 2008

None of my Aussie/Kiwi mates who said they would come actually made the early start. Excuses included: sleeping, over-sleeping laziness trumping patriotism and just getting back from Nam.

MONEY FOR NOTHING

Today at lunch I was attempting to change the pin on a Barclays Visa (unsuccessfully) and as guy in front of me left and I stepped up the ATM the machine it issues me with around two hundred pounds in COLD HARD CASH CASH!

Naturally I grabbed the money and tracked down the guy who had just gone into the bank. He took the money without saying a word so I hope I got the right person.

My thoughts

If I got the wrong person he is now telling his mates that he went to the bank and as he left a complete stranger gave him ?200!

When did cash machines start issuing cash AFTER the card had been returned? I thought that had stopped years ago because people were much more likely to leave without their card than without their cash.

Cam completed the London Marathon

I am not sure how I have lived in London for over 10 years and have never taken any notice of the London Marathon. This year a good friend ran so we were forced to sit up and take notice. It was an awesome day that was well worth getting off the couch for :)

One of the things that really impressed me is the large number of people who run in costume. Some do it because it is fun but I suspect most do it as part of their sponsorship arrangements. Like the guy dressed as Borat in the photo below.

Borat runs the London Marathon

Through the miracle of public transport we managed to see Cam in three different places during the run, at the Cutty Sark, Canark Wharf and finally at Tower Hill. Every time we saw him we yelled and screamed support and offered beer.

Cam at The Tower of London - looking strong at mile 22

One of the other things that really surprised me was that a lot of runners put their names on the front of their shirts and a lot of spectators yelled support to runner they didn’t know if they though they looked like they needed a boost. That was something that was very cool about the marathon, how people reached out to complete strangers when they were really suffering.

Cam finished his first marathon without stopping to walk once in 4 hours and 13 minutes and he raised ?3600 for prostate cancer. An awesome effort.

Cunning Torch Organisers

This is one of the buses in the Olympic Torch procession through London. The were very clever by choosing to play very loud music to drown out the booing and chanting by the protesters. To distract us further the next vehicle to pass was full of dancing girls!