Notepad on Life

February 21, 2017

Why ‘stressed’ Jane is right to sue lottery that made her a millionaire

Filed under: Consumer,Culture,Women — - @ 12:17 am
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Pic courtesy of Smart Winners

Living in a council flat and earning just £8 an hour as a temp, a terrible thing happened to Jane Park in 2013.

She won one million pounds on the Euromillions lottery, aged just 17.

Her life since, she claims, is a ruin, although some might call it a parable.

She has bought the cars, the real estate, the fake breasts. She has sought to share her good fortune with a man, only for him to throw it back in her face. She is discovering that a worthwhile return on a windfall is not measured solely in percentage points.

Now, after inviting the nation to feel her pain through the media, she has her heart set on that other must-have Millennial accessory. After the boob-job, comes the lawsuit. In the latest manifestation of an age beyond satire, she is considering suing Euromillions organisers, Camelot, for making her a millionaire. To spare others from a similar downfall, she believes people should not be allowed to buy a lottery ticket until they’re 18. Something to chew on for those who would blithely hand the responsibilities of the voting booth to 16-year-olds.

“At times it feels like winning the lottery has ruined my life,” she told the Sunday People. “I thought it would make it ten times better but it’s made it ten times worse. I wish I had no money most days. I say to myself, ‘My life would be so much easier if I hadn’t won.’

“People look at me and think, ‘I wish I had her lifestyle, I wish I had her money.’ But they don’t realise the extent of my stress. I have material things but apart from that my life is empty. What is my purpose in life?

“I’ve read about other lottery ­winners who’ve just blown it all and I can totally see how it can be done. I was stuck in front of a financial adviser who was using words like ­investment bonds. I had no clue what they meant,” she added.

It wasn’t my initial reaction, but having mulled over this infuriating story, I actually hope Ms Park gets her day in court. For while her education has clearly begun, with the realisation that money can’t buy happiness, it appears to have stalled, reflecting little credit on those around her. Never mind the financial adviser lacking in empathy, or what is entailed by the “ongoing support” that Camelot insists it has offered: I would be interested to know if any of her nearest and dearest at least tried to advise her against using the words “winning the lottery” and “stress” so close together in a public forum.

So it looks like leaving this to the judge could be Park’s last hope: an older, wiser head who, after considering her claim, might gently counsel her on leaving the money to the machinations of compound interest for the time being and finding purpose and genuine satisfaction through helping those who really need it.

Before teaching her another important life lesson, and telling her and her lawyer to sling their hooks.

January 27, 2017

O Canada – sexual assault exposes West’s ‘terminal niceness’

Filed under: foreign,immigration,Kids,school — - @ 9:44 am
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Pic courtesy of Harlow Heslop

Countless women descended upon Washington DC last weekend, determined to prove that hell hath no fury like a woman scorned by the electoral college system. They’re not backwards in coming forward, women nowadays, be it the marchers, the breast-barers, or the actors with a cause.

I just wish they’d mobilise with equal fervour when it really matters. When a 14-year-old Canadian schoolgirl is sexually assaulted, for example, only to have it put to her afterwards that she needs to cut her assailant some slack.

This latest tale of bleeding-heart madness is said to have begun at what should have been a happy occasion: a high school dance at Fredericton High School, New Brunswick.

“Speaking on condition of anonymity, the girl’s mother said two Syrian students attempted to grind with her daughter at the dance, before one of them began groping her breasts and forced his hand inside her underwear, touching her vagina.” – from The Daily Caller

If the poor girl thought the worst of her ordeal was behind her once her attacker backed off, she could have been forgiven for wondering who was the villain here, once the school’s victim support kicked in.

“…vice-principal, Elaine Kilfillen, worried that the alleged attacker “will become a target in our student population once the rumor mill gets going.” The girl’s mother claimed that school officials encouraged her daughter to understand the alleged attacker’s perspective and consider the effect her clothing may have had.” – ibid. [point of order here – if she’s allowed to remain on school premises in unsuitable clothing, Fredericton High; that one’s on you]

The culprit, who denied the accusation, was suspended for one week. His victim, whose own ‘sentence’ will probably last rather longer, should the allegation be true,  is in therapy.

This account comes from just one or two secondary news sources (disturbingly, a possible reason for this is suggested at the foot of this post) so a cautionary note must be sounded. Should the story be solid, however, then it would be the latest recurrence of a familiar pattern. The Mail on Sunday columnist Peter Hitchens speculated for some time over what would happen when political correctness towards women collided head-on with political correctness towards Islam. Slowly but surely, we are beginning to find out. Islam wins.

Oh-so-enlightened Western civilisation makes all the concessions, and what passes for civilisation in parts of the Middle East presses on gleefully through the doors we hold open.

The school’s reported attempt at compassion ensures only that there will be more emboldened young men, more attacks, and more traumatised young women. Former muslim Nabeel Qureshi sets out here (starting at the 3:55 mark) exactly where this misguided approach is destined to lead us.

“I think the term that’s being used for it…is ‘terminal niceness’. We’re being so nice and politically correct, to things that are willing to rip us apart, that it will be the end of us.”

As I write, meanwhile, Emma Watson’s Twitter feed makes no mention of Fredericton, and the town’s edition of the Washington march appears to have had eyes only for a caucasian male with bad hair.

And on the theme of ‘familiar patterns’ – if this tweet is true, then this is another one…

January 23, 2017

Child poverty not just a money thing

Filed under: Education,Family,Kids — - @ 9:26 am
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Cropped from a pic by Steve Rhode

She works with disadvantaged children. The type so damaged by broken homes or dysfunctional parents that conventional education can’t cope with them; they need one-to-one lessons in handling life before they can even think about handling school.

She’s making inroads already with her latest charge. So immersed did he become in one of their recent days out together that he briefly forgot himself, as he pointed to something that had caught his eye.

“Look mummy…” he shouted.

The ultimate professional compliment, wrapped around a cry for help so searing, she said it cut her in two.

You can’t throw money at that kind of deprivation.

January 19, 2017

Bag it, PM – voter empathy trumps matching outfits

Filed under: Appearance,politics — - @ 1:56 pm

Sometime, the small things are the big giveaway.

Ostensibly, Prime Minister Theresa May has impressed me so far. Her wish to be a government for all and not just some, struck the right note. Her pursuit of Brexit, after campaigning for Remain, has been so dogged, I occasionally wonder what the catch will be.

Others, of course, wonder if she has a plan at all, never mind a catch. Time will tell if my belief that politicians and businessmen would rather do a deal than leave money on the table, is vindicated.

This, however, is the first chip in her veneer. When the economy is uncertain, the National Health Service shaky and the future unclear, I just think a truly savvy leader would recognise that the £995 handbag is best kept for off-duty moments.

January 6, 2017

Shut the door on your way out, John Kerry

Filed under: foreign,politics — - @ 9:23 am
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January 4, 2017

Integration’s untimely fall at the first fence?

Filed under: Uncategorized — - @ 11:36 pm
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Pic courtesy of Jay Huang

It may be that there is another reason why New Year fireworks came in three different salvos on Saturday night. I certainly hope so.

But then why else would they light up the sky at 10pm and 11pm, before their traditional manifestation at midnight?

On the town forum, someone claimed to have the answer. Ten o’clock UK time is midnight in Latvia and Lithuania, he explained. When the sky lights up at 11pm, it will be the town’s Polish community striking the matches.

I must stress that I am yet to see this theory corroborated but should it be valid, what does it say about the mindset of many long-term visitors to our shores?

I always try to put myself in the other person’s shoes in  such circumstances, but it’s not helping in this instance. Were I living abroad and someone asked if I would calibrate my New Year’s celebration to my native land, I would look at him as if he were mad. I might ‘phone home’ when midnight struck in the UK, but it would seem the most logical thing in the world to hitch my principal celebration to the time zone in which I now lived. This is my home now, after all, would be my reasoning. These are my people. If I can’t integrate to the point of syncing my New Year with theirs, I might begin to wonder what I was even doing there in the first place.

So much for my view. It now appears, at least, that it might not have much traction elsewhere. If that is indeed the case, what a sad comparison it offers between America on the one hand, so many of whose fiercest patriots came from overseas to invest fully in the American Dream, and Britain on the other; apparently a dormitory town on a national scale. Just somewhere to hang your hat in between pay cheques.

Someone tell me there’s another explanation…

January 2, 2017

The Honours List – always a dark side

Filed under: politics — - @ 11:55 am
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Pic courtesy of Brad Slavin

It’s the part the media didn’t shout about at the back end of December, so busy were they rightfully hailing the achievements of Murray, Farah and Ennis-Hill.

It’s the flipside that seems to accompany every Honours List: the category of recipients that, for the sake of politeness, I’ll call the ‘You’ve Done What, Exactly…?’ category. Rarely is there any fanfare for this section of the List. On this occasion, there is merely the solitary anguished voice of a heartbroken parent.

I don’t know the full ins and outs of the tragic tale of Elliott Johnson, a promising young Conservative who, if his family are to be believed, was driven to suicide by in-house party bullying. If this is so, then they are understandably aggrieved at having fresh scars rubbed raw by the award of an MBE to someone whom they regard as one of the culprits.

I do know, however, that there probably isn’t a political party around that doesn’t have some kind of form when it comes to general use and abuse of human beings. The bereaved father’s anger at cover-ups and “no sense of shame” sounds wearyingly familiar.

Is Alexandra Broadrick MBE a blameless and worthy recipient of the honour? For all I know, yes, but given the murky business of politics, I am damned if I was going to let the publication of this particular Honours List pass without doing what I could to further circulate this important footnote to a dreadful story.

When you’ve finished being dazzled by Sir Mo and Dame Jessica, you might like to ponder the less glittering corners of British society. And make your own mind up.

December 29, 2016

I want your best quote, insurer, not your opening gambit

Filed under: business,Consumer,Finance,Motoring — - @ 1:25 pm
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pic courtesy of Gerry Balding

“Sorry to hear that, Mr ********. Can I just ask why you’re cancelling your cover with us?”

“Yes: the renewal quote you sent me was undercut by another firm by 38 pounds. I’ve taken out cover with them instead.”

“Oh…right…Actually, it’s a shame you didn’t get in touch with us first, because we could have probably undercut that, depending on whether any circumstances had changed.”

“But how’s that? You’d already sent me a renewal quote. I assumed that was your best offer.”

“Weeeell…not necessarily…”

……………………………….

Now, I’m not so naive as to have been completely taken aback by this conversation, when renewing my car insurance recently. What did surprise me is the way no attempt was made to mask or even obscure another painful truth about the financial services sector. You know, the sector whose TV ads are often based on the premise that they are your best friends.

Those renewal quotes aren’t their best offer, after all. Just the most they think they can get away with.

Which  is what friends are all about, of course.

December 28, 2016

An opportunity missed, Church of England

Filed under: Christmas,Church,Religion — - @ 5:25 pm
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Pic courtesy of Rondo Estrello

For an organisation whose attendance figures would reduce your average Non-League football club to sympathetic tears, this is Day One of the January sales and Black Friday combined.

Teatime, Christmas Eve. A candlelit carol service and the church building packed like it’s 1829 with a captive audience to die for. Eager kids and attendant parents and grandparents. People who might otherwise not enter a church without pallbearers beneath them but do so because they’re with relatives and don’t want to be seen as the sourpuss. Atheists, agnostics, sceptics and ‘lapsed’; all there because of the pull of family or of childhood echoes that refuse to die.

Once a year, the church gets this chance. Surely to God, between the crib, the candles and endless verses of Little Donkey, there is the chance to take 10 minutes and reach out to those people in earnest from the pulpit? Remind them (or maybe make them aware for the first time ever) that whatever they might make of his mission statement and brand management, this Jesus was no myth, but a real person. That Christmas Day was but a curtain raiser for a message and mission that changed the world.

Ten minutes in which to let everyone know that this ancient building is not just open on Christmas Eve, but on most days of the year, welcoming those who wish to pray, reflect, cry their hearts out, or even the most committed non-believer who just wants to enjoy the music or brief respite from a tumultuous world. To reassure them that there will be no pressure or hard sell on such occasions, just a warm welcome and as much or as little evangelism as each of them seeks.

But you didn’t do it, Reverend. You just trotted out the same old Nativity clichés and Christmas niceties, let the same old carols roll by and then beamed politely as everyone filed out afterwards. Your one moment of gravitas in 60 minutes the health and safety announcement for when it came to us lighting our candles. Another year, another golden opportunity gone begging. I just wish my faith in spiritual osmosis matched your own.

“Excellent”, you beamed at the regulars afterwards. “No-one got burnt.”

Indeed not. Figuratively speaking though, I doubt anyone was set on fire, either.

December 21, 2016

Cop this plea – there’s no degree in ‘streetwise’

Filed under: crime,Education,Law and order — - @ 5:00 pm
Tags: , ,
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Pic courtesy of Police-Mad-Liam

It’s hard to pick highlights in Peter Hitchens’ latest excellent Mail on Sunday column, but vested family interest leads me to the last item, on the misguided plan to make university degrees mandatory for would-be police officers.

“Graduates spend the first ten years in any job discovering that they don’t, in fact, know everything, while the non-graduates roll their eyes in despair,” writes Hitchens. 

“What police officers need is not a certificate, but the common sense that comes from years of friendly contact with the people they serve.”

I shudder to think how many potentially excellent policemen and women will now never materialise because of the fashionable yet flawed belief that only higher education can unlock a young person’s potential. What a slap in the face for those myriad ‘failures’  who left school with nothing, only to become rip-roaring successes once they were set free to engage a world beyond Academia.

It’s just not everyone’s bag, the life of dissertations and doctorates. There are people whose talents lie in their hands, in hand-eye co-ordination, or in tackling real problems instead of the more abstract variety. If that means three years in the University of Life then they should be allowed to get on with it, not erroneously pigeon-holed just to keep the quota brigade happy.

We don’t need spectacular double-firsts from our police. We need street-savvy, impeccable people skills and an air of mild intimidation that can, when warranted, be fully backed up by the judicious use of brawn. And you don’t learn those qualities over cappuccino in some junior common room.

As for how the whole thing might yet backfire on those who dreamt it up, meanwhile, just Google ‘university’ and ‘snowflakes’, and brace yourself for the day when our boys in blue ask if they can sit this particular riot out because they’ve been ‘triggered’.

 

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