Notepad on Life

August 26, 2017

Two things that damn Britain, conveniently eclipsed this week

Filed under: business,Consumer,politics,Religion — - @ 7:57 pm
Tags: , , , ,
Pic courtesy of Claudio Sepúlveda Geoffroy

Maybe this is why we fixate on the mundane interaction of planets.

Because no-one’s re-creating 1930s Germany up there.

No-one’s making a mockery of ‘rest in peace’ up there, just so that businessmen can get to their destination 15 minutes faster than previously.

And while no-one’s saying that eclipse specs are stylish, they’re still a better look than holding your nose.


February 21, 2017

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

Filed under: Consumer,Culture,Women — - @ 12:17 am

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.

December 29, 2016

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

Filed under: business,Consumer,Finance,Motoring — - @ 1:25 pm

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 11, 2016

Dejected by Christmas, ejected from cricket

Filed under: Christmas,Consumer,Sport — - @ 11:12 pm
Tags: ,

A week in which I learnt of a shopping centre that is now offering hypnotism for shoppers overcome by the terrifying ordeal that is Christmas, and that players of cricket – once “a sphere of wholesome discipline”* – have finally reached the point where they are no better than footballers.

This thing we call Society: we’re all satisfied that it’s still moving forwards, yes…?


December 4, 2016

Dear Amazon – a way out of this crapstorm…

Filed under: business,Consumer — - @ 1:48 pm

20982664928_d04c87d2a7_mAs one of journalism’s  hardy annuals – working conditions at Amazon – makes its latest re-appearance, it would be easy to sit back and hurl mud at a nice big, juicy target.

No such knee-jerk opportunism here, though. In a bid to be fair to all sides, I simply suggest that adding the following delivery options to the Amazon order form would empower the customer, suggest a company that takes criticism on board and allow all of us to stay true to whatever level of compassion we possess. Sorted.


In light of media reports on Amazon’s expectations of its staff, please execute my order in accordance with the following instructions:  

blank-square More power to you. I’m only disappointed there was no mention of whips and electrodes to speed things along. I’d like my delivery yesterday, because as you suits are always saying, there’s no such word as “can’t”, right?

blank-square I’m not saying the super-fast service isn’t great but, well, I have a conscience, you know. This stuff doesn’t sit well with my Amnesty membership. Just get it to me within five working days and we can all stay friends.

blank-square On the-clock bowel movements? Seriously? I nearly choked on my spliff. This is way too heavy, man, so I’m reaching out to my brothers and sisters at the coal face. Fifteen days will be cool. Now please; y’all just breeeaathe and smell the freakin’ roses.

blank-square I am [delete as appropriate] (a) a trade union leader, (b) heavily into old-timey mail-order shopping, or (c) of the opinion that companies worth £200bn have some wiggle-room when it comes to chilling the hell out. I allow 28 days for delivery. 

[pic courtesy of Damian Gadal]

January 8, 2016

We build ’em up and we knock ’em down…

Filed under: Consumer,Finance,Health,TV — - @ 9:44 pm

Ah, those dark alleyways of human nature. Watching the accomplished star of The Martin Lewis Money Show this evening, a man who might have found a silver lining to the Great Depression, had only he been born a century earlier, I realise that I won’t be able to help myself should the day ever come.

Martin Lewis filing for bankruptcy would trigger my guiltiest ironic chuckle since I learnt that Jim Fixx had died while jogging.

It will probably never happen. As I’m sure the Fixx family assured themselves more than once.


June 17, 2014

Honda has my number; almost…

Filed under: Advertising,Consumer,Motoring — - @ 12:03 am
Tags: ,

Just heard a Honda ad on Spotify, based on ‘the filling-up game’, where you try to get the petrol dial bang on the right total at the petrol station before releasing the lever.

Thank goodness, I thought that was just me. Although letting it eat away at you for ten minutes afterwards, when you go a penny over the desired total; that probably IS just me…

March 10, 2014

Executive double-speak Monday

Filed under: Advertising,Consumer,Drink — - @ 9:00 am
Tags: ,
Frank Sinatra

Cover of Frank Sinatra

He says:

“About five years ago we began talking with the Sinatra family and, approaching his 100th birthday and reflecting on his legacy to culture and our brand, it felt like the time was right to craft a whiskey that would suitably honor Sinatra.”

He means:

“It’ll help us shift more product.”

Frank Sinatra Is Back And Selling His Own Brand Of Jack Daniel’s Whiskey

August 26, 2013

Retail grinches who steal Christmas

Filed under: Consumer — - @ 8:32 am
Tags: , ,

Even if you are blessed with a family devoid of the irritating black sheep who turns up uninvited and then overstays his welcome, you don’t entirely escape the attendant sinking feeling, should you live in the UK.

For every August, our summer is gatecrashed by two entities that show up way ahead of their time. The football season on our TVs and Christmas in our shops.

I enjoy both but not while there is still sweat on my brow and burgers on the barbecue.

Once the leaves turn colour and the breezes stiffen, football is forgiven but I’m beginning to think Christmas doesn’t get off so lightly. Each year, I seem to hear more people confess to being sick and tired of all things Yule by the time the big day arrives and I believe retail overkill has a lot to do with this. The goose that lays the golden egg isn’t nurtured but worked to exhaustion.

And the irony of Christmas being turned sour by the very stores that want us to have “THE BEST CHRISTMAS EVER!!!” continues to escape everyone in a position to do something about it.

July 29, 2013

Recession or not, human life is one stock whose value keeps declining

Filed under: Consumer,Health — - @ 1:08 pm
Tags: , ,

Can you hear the dripping tap?

First we had the Liverpool Care Pathway

“The Department of Health (DoH) in England set up an independent review amid fears the LCP was being used to hasten death, to clear beds and save money, and that patients or their families were not being consulted…”

Then we had an opt-out rather than opt-in organ donation scheme introduced in Wales, ensuring that once you die in the Principality, your remains could become chattels of the State…

‘If the Bill does not respect either the consent of the deceased or of their family, there is a real risk of this legislation backfiring as people feel pressurised by the state and withdraw from donation. ‘This would be a tragedy and needlessly put lives at risk.’

And now this: Ambulance drivers told NOT to take ‘death list’ patients to hospital …

“…critics fear there is a financial motive behind the plans – and official estimates seen by The Mail on Sunday suggest the NHS could save more than £50 million a year if it slashed the numbers dying in hospital.”

It is hard to avoid the suspicion that it is not only in the eyes of the mugger that human life grows ever cheaper. There are some people in suits, with important job titles and homes in respectable neighbourhoods, whom I would suggest aren’t all that far behind him.

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