People, politics, tech, money, sport, work and entertainment all intertwine to make up today’s ever-changing, crazy, delightful and frustrating society. The majority of my second-hand-views are about life within our society and, with a left-of-centre stance, there’s bound to be something here that gets your goat. When it does, buy a bundle of tibs, donate one to my charity of choice, Stay Close to Neve, and get it off your chest with a retort – better out than in. Have fun, be good and keep at ‘em.

out of the mouths of…

Well, as it turns out, middle-aged blue-rinsed ladies. ‘Brenda from Bristol’ caused a viral stir when asked what she thought of the recently announced election and replied: “You’re joking? Not another one! Oh for God’s sake, I can’t honestly… I can’t stand this. There’s too much politics going on at the moment.” Go Brenda, and I’m sure she speaks for a large proportion of the non-Westminster-obsessed population. At times you can’t get an election for love nor money and then, like proverbial London buses they turn-up en-masse.

Liberté, égalité, fraternité

Much has been made of Emmanuel Macron’s recent impact on France’s mainstream political spectrum and, with only a week to go before their presidential election, it’s incredulous to consider that his ‘En Marche!’ (Forward!) party is barely a year old. And this, an election that is highly likely to determine the future of Europe as much as France’s internal democracy. At only 39 years of age, comparisons have been drawn between Macron and both Canada’s charismatic Justin Trudeau and our very own Tony Blair, in his 90s ‘Cool Britannia’ prime. Both positioned themselves in the centre-ground but neither had to contend with an entrenched, organised and widely supported far-right movement, led by an equally media-savvy spectre, Marine Le Pen.

take my advice

About ten years ago a pal of mine asked my opinion of whether he should buy a London property. I pooh-poohed the idea immediately on the basis that I believed interest rates were to imminently shoot-up, which would lead directly to the bursting of the property-bubble, and a major economic downturn would, of course, follow. Hold fire, I cautioned. Data from the Land Registry confirms that London’s property market has, since then, boomed to the tune of 88% and, in real terms, the properties he was considering, in central Clapham, have more than doubled in value.

skool’s out

Asking what Alice Cooper and Cliff Richard have in common sounds like a weak pub-quiz trivia question. No, even though Vincent Furnier (Alice) is indeed the son of a minister, he’s not a born-again, and to the best of my knowledge Cliff is neither an ex-alcoholic nor fanatical about golf, it’s just that ‘school’s out’ time of year again when families ‘all go on a summer holiday’ (groan – ed). Or at least they used to.

and breathe

A couple of years ago a story doing the rounds was of an airline pilot who had ‘snapped’ at his neighbour’s terrier dog’s incessant barking, and drowned the poor animal in a bucket of water. Certainly an extreme reaction by any stretch of the imagination but one that appears to be an increasingly frequent occurrence in today’s hectic & stressed life.

a matter of life & death

Back in the 80s, law was one of the modules I studied at university (OK, polytechnic) but the only thing I can clearly recall is the incarceration of our lecturer, David Crystal-Kirk. No, really. In a futile & vain attempt to establish a ‘ball-game-playing in a public street’ precedent within the statutes (the legal equivalent of a No 1 hit record) Mr Crystal-Kirk was found guilty of ‘contempt of court’ and banged-up for an initial fourteen day period of personal reflection. Not content with such a measly sentence he then, whist still in the dock, punched a policeman on the nose and was awarded an additional twenty-eight days!

gideon’s bible

As the Chancellor of the Exchequer, the Right Honourable MP for Tatton, was paid a salary of £120,000 a year. Not an inconsequential amount but considering the role is the de facto Finance Director for a business of 64 million employees, it’s one I’m relatively sanguine about. Cards on the table, it’s about the same as I paid myself as the founder of a business that employed 40 people, so I can’t pull my face that much. However, being given the boot and returning to the back-benches has resulted in a bit of a pay-cut to £75,000, so it’s completely understandable that our Gideon has decided that, to keep the wolves from the door, he needs to bolster this a little. Luckily, it appears he’s in demand.

green by name

In this full-stop post on the whole dirty exercise I just want to say thanks to a man once hailed as our finest retailer. I’ve no doubt he could have held out for longer, perhaps even drawing it out in the courts to an exhaustive no-win stalemate. He’s shown he has deep-pockets where legal fees are concerned and short-arms wrt his ex-employees and pensioners, and I appreciate the grudging acceptance of his moral obligations, Mind, blood from the proverbial stone has been more easily extracted. And certainly more graciously.

bad. not mad

Every so often we should all bow to authority. And to figures of authority. Here, in full and unexpurgated form, is an open letter from Allen Frances, Professor Emeritus of Psychiatry at Duke University School of Medicine, published in The New York Times. This lily needs no gilding.

$30bn gamble

Back in the late 90s I kidded myself I knew what I was doing wrt buying the Nasdaq hot stocks. If I could grasp the product, believed there was a viable market for it, understood how it charged its customers and, ideally, knew of someone in the management team then it was all-systems-go and in I’d pile, relatively speaking. Needless to say it didn’t end well, and following several litigious claims against spuriously represented organisations, I have on my wall a framed $10 cheque for full-and-final settlement from the IPO Securities Litigation Settlement Fund. Never have a fool and his money been so quickly parted.