Back in Blighty

The weather:

(slight sniff) the UK, innit.

BBC:

So parochial, my dears. The World Service is so much more interesting.

The economy:

Maybe the UK government aren’t so stupid. Things seem to be looking up.

Shopping:

Not quite as expensive as I thought it would be.

Books:

Some sales and so some royalties. Basically the published books need to outsell the self-published books by 4-1. Time will tell.

The weather:

I was lulled into a false sense of security. On arrival I didn’t freeze to death and it wasn’t raining. Experience told me that this situation was unlikely to last and as we all know, ‘there ain’t no substitute for experience’. The clement weather did last for the first ten days. Early summer? I went to see my chums’ canal boat. It was a glorious day, almost warm in the sunshine. Larry (Larry Jeram-Croft, author and dog-walker extraordinaire) assured me that the weather was always like this on the canals. Naturally, I believe him…the canal system must have it’s own very localised weather system, judging by the last week. The main reason for coming back to Blighty at this particular time was to celebrate Joan’s (Step-mother Rhoda’s older sister) 90th birthday. All went well and ferrying three ‘slightly older ladies’ between the ‘residence’ and the venue for the luncheon was almost supernatural. It was drizzling when I fetched the car from the car-park, stopped whilst the fearsome threesome(for UK readers think ‘Granny Giles’ times three…at times ) were ‘loaded’, then started again en-route to the venue. It stopped just before the ‘unloading’ process and slightly drizzled on me after I’d parked the car and was walking back across the hotel car-park.The process was repeated on the way back home. Hmmm. Well, it makes you think, doesn’t it.

The Beeb:

The television news is quite appalling…the presentation, not the news itself. I could hardly spot the difference between local news and national news. With World War Three about to break out in the Ukraine the TV news was worried about UKIP (a minor, one-trick political party enjoying some support at the moment) and the fact that a high-speed rail-link between London and the Midlands had been approved, in principle. Much fuss over the fact that it had originally been a Labour idea and derided by the Tories at the time the idea was floated. Change of government and the Tories were in (assisted, ably or otherwise, by the LibDems or whatever the remnants of the Liberal party call themselves this decade). The Government now endorsed the idea and Labour initially opposed it. Now, suddenly, with an election looming (2015) minds were concentrated and hurrah! Everybody was endorsing the idea but nobody could point to any definite benefits the new link would bring. They all tried, mind you. Politicians eh, don’t you just love ’em? Most of the same voices present ‘The Today Program’ on BBC Radio Four. The same voices continue to try and prove that they’re much cleverer than the people being interviewed. Plus ça change.

The economy:

As always, this depends on who you believe. ‘Dave’ (Prime Minister David Cameron) says things are going really well and it’s all due to government policy. Phillipe (Big Issue seller outside WH Smiths in Bournemouth) says he hasn’t noticed any dramatic increase in sales and is still homeless. That, of course, is because house prices are rising and you’ve got to sell a lot of ‘Big Issues’ to raise a deposit on a £200K house, now apparently the norm…unless you”re in London. In London, according to daughter Pauline, the asking price is merely the guide for your opening bid…and you’d better get it in quick. House owners are feeling more comfortable but considering the almost feverish activity in some  areas, the word ‘bubble’ springs to mind (again). Still, as long as it lasts until 2015 everything will be OK. Then the new government can explain why the new high-speed rail link won’t be built after all.

Shopping:

To be honest, the shops in Bournemouth don’t appear to be that busy although a survey of local pubs reveals them to be moderately well attended. Dear me, the things I have to do to research an article. Go shopping and visit pubs…it’s tough, I tell you. Don’t believe me? Ask my bank manger, he’ll tell you. Ah, that reminds me. The latest report on ‘banking things’ has disclosed that the Co-operative Bank was probably unwise to buy another bank at the time of the last banking crisis. I believe this startling and unexpected conclusion was reached because the Co-Op bank went bust as a result of this ‘punt’. I might have got the details slightly wrong…still, I’m sure it was a good idea at the time. Doubtless the originators of the plan were well rewarded for their innovative thinking and commercial acumen. And the Government (taxpayers) picked up the pieces when it all went wrong, so that’s alright then. Speaking of asking bank managers, it’s all change on the mortgage front. The lenders have come up with a really cunning plan. Sit down before you read this because it really is a revolutionary idea.

The lenders are going to ask the applicants for a mortgage if they can afford to make the repayments.

WOW! My word, what genius thought that one up? Give that person several City directorships, a large salary, index-linked pension and a Knighthood. Yes, no more ‘fudging the figures’ for the self-employed and claiming immanent promotions and/or fantastic prospects for  employed applicants. From now on you’ll not only have to prove what you’re earning but you’ll have to account for how you spend your money. An income of £500 per week and £600 per week spent on fags, booze, bingo and dog food (for the dog, one assumes) will not result in a £250K loan being granted. There may be a ‘soft landing’ for house prices after all. Oh OK, there probably won’t be. Interestingly the lo-cost supermarkets are doing well and the mid-price ones aren’t. Even at the mid-price ones a few things are about the same price as in Malaysia. No, I’m not making that up. A packet of tomatoes are almost exactly the same price in Tesco, Bournemouth as they are in Giant, Johor Bahru. Unless you go to the local market in JB then prices are quite close. The real shock of the visit has been the cost of transport. No, not what you may be thinking…when booking a coach ticket to visit Pauline in London this coming weekend, I found I was eligible for an over-sixties discount. And the bastard ticket clerk didn’t ask for proof of my age. The discounted price would have been £20 return except I had to buy the discount card for £10. The card is valid for a year and on the basis that ‘you never know’, I decided to buy one. After all, the price was the same either way. Do you need a licence for a zimmer frame?

Books:

Having now seen the first sales reports of the books published by Solstice Publishing I calculate that the published books have to outsell the self-published books by 4:1 to make it worth while not self publishing. This takes into account the editing and graphics design that Solstice offer. It’s very early days yet so I’m certainly not making any decisions. In the meantime, ‘Eliezer’s Return’, the second book in the Eliezer trilogy has finished the editing process and is being proof-read. I’ll keep you posted about the publishing date and thank you to all those who have purchased my books. Feel free to post a review on Amazon. It’s really easy and helps boost sales…yes Virginia, that’s a not so subtle hint. Again, thanks to those who do take the time to post reviews. I’ve finally seen some examples of the paperback versions of the Karno books. They look very presentable and I’ve ordered an ‘authors’ discount set’ for the library at Danga Bay marina. They are printed in the USA and won’t arrive until mid June! The postage is about the same as the books. Finally, I’m cracking on with the freelance editing. I’m ‘doing’ a couple of good books and once they’re published I’ll post links to them.

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