Alistair’s “Random Rambles” (10)
By Kathy Martin…
Written March 2014
As there is (at the time of going to press) little controversy in the news to amuse readers I trawled through the on-line press and media for a topic to ramble about. I thought that I had found a wonderful one in the Greek Cypriot press, but found it to be an “historic” article, having take place last year in October.
Nevertheless, as it typifies the crass stupidity of mixing politics and sports, here it is. “At an hotel in the “occupied area of Kyrenia” (Girne) – their quotes, my brackets – the European Pocket Billiard Federation will hold this year’s championships. 33 nations will be competing, but despite being a member of the EPBF, South Cyprus will not attend as a protest. Good heavens, thank goodness mankind was able to survive this threat to its very existence! How sad it is that any politician can have the ability to deny a sportsperson the enjoyment of playing a game and the pleasure of being in the companionship of like-minded people.
I was looking through a UK “news” paper that a friend buys and then passes on, I put quotation marks around the word news as the subject matter of many of the articles is usually couched, almost hidden, in political diatribes slating the previous Labour government, the current Lib-Dems and UKIP!
However, I noticed two articles about the punishment meted out to two car drivers in separate incidents. In the first, a married family man, reportedly while high on cannabis, mounted a pavement in his car and killed a (pedestrian) mother in front of her of two children.
In court he was given a suspended custodial sentence and a few hours of community service! The judge explained that a harsher sentence would cause “unnecessary stress” to the criminal and his family! To my mind the loss of a wife and mother to the victim’s family is a stressful and permanent condition! Since when did the “rights” of the criminal and his family take precedence over those of the victims?
The second article was about a young driver who, while driving through a puddle splashed (drenched) some pedestrians. Unfortunately the car behind him was a police car, and he ended up in court! The article does not state that the “splashing/drenching” action was intentional or accidental. As he was a “young” driver he was given a mandatory one year driving ban and points on his licence in addition to a £500 pound fine!
Therefore, under British justice, it is a far more serious offence to soak a pedestrian (a temporary condition that can be remedied by a hot shower and change of clothing) than killing one!
Another article that caught my eye was one about a British invention. Apparently now, when a product appears on a television screen, if someone points a phone at it, it will be delivered to that address.
The other night a bottle of wine appeared on my screen so I pointed my phone at it and waited. And waited. And waited. Nothing happened, and it took so long not to happen that I left my planet and returned to the real world!
Nothing had happened because,
- firstly, I hadn’t bought the phone app to activate that system
- secondly, I was watching a DVD
- thirdly, my phone is just a phone. I can use it to make and receive calls and texts, but the only “extra” features are a calendar and calculator!
However, this new invention did make me realise how much shopping procedures and purchasing options have changed “since I were a lad”!
When I was young the only procedure that I knew of was to physically go to a shop, hand over an amount of currency and leave with a product.
Then, during adolescence, I became aware of other options.
- The first was “hire-purchase”. This was, and still is, used to purchase comparatively expensive items, cars, furniture etc. Way back in the 1960s, before computerisation, when I had to furnish my first flat, I had to get a letter (character reference) from my bank manager, as well as the presence of two “responsible” adults to co-sign the contract. These adults guaranteed that they would accept responsibility for the debt should I default!
The advice given out by the “elders and betters” to myself and other stripling youths, in the same circumstances, was “if you can’t afford it, save up until you can”! While this may be “sound” (if frustrating) advice during boom years, when pay rises and the interest paid by banks to savings account holders are non-existent or below the percentage rises in the cost of living it is very bad advice.
- Another payment option became available when (at least) two companies introduced plastic cards that would eventually evolve into the credit and debit cards that are in common use today. American Express and Diners issued plastic cards intended to be used by jet-setting celebrities and business people.
These cards could be used for transactions at (usually) up-market hotels, restaurants etc. As the outstanding amount had to be paid in full at the end of a month, these were neither debit nor credit cards. Their use just simplified the lives of the holders, especially those travelling through two or more currency zones, by obviating the use of cash, traveller’s cheques or visits to local banks to change currencies.
There has been a bit of a furore in the local media here in Kibris about some Vietnamese workers catching, barbecuing and eating dogs near the capital, Lefkoşa. I don’t want to be controversial (long pause while people who know me gasp with amazement!), but why shouldn’t they?
Admittedly this practice is against the law, but from a purely dispassionate viewpoint a dog is just a high protein food source. The same can be said of cattle, sheep, goats, poultry and fish, animals that, apparently, have no protection under the law!
Make no mistake, I am an animal lover, but I also enjoy the taste of meat, although I have not yet (knowingly) eaten dog!
There are a large number of stray and unwanted dogs in this country. They are fed, watered and their health needs (including spaying) catered for by a number of excellent voluntary animal welfare organisations and Belediye (councils) around the island. Although a stray dog with a red plastic tag in its ear may be regarded as “safe”, the sudden appearance of a pack of near-feral dogs in a town can be somewhat unnerving to pedestrians or customers sitting outside one of the many pavement cafes!
So, while I have great admiration and respect for those volunteers and, of course, the many local residents who provide food and water for stray animals, surely the funds and resources of the local governments could have been better spent?
Specifically, last year the many months that they suffered tremendous financial hardship because they weren’t being paid as there was no money left in the “kitty” after the (then) mayor, his cronies and the office staff had been paid. In addition, many local and national government offices owe huge amounts of money to Kib-Tek, the electricity supplier.
Without wishing to alienate any readers I have to ask the question, why is taxpayer’s money being spent on perpetuating a problem that may well, in the not too distant future literally, “bite the hand that feeds it”?