Wednesday, December 07, 2005

Bring on the bird flu

A NUMBER of newspaper columnists are in high dudgeon over plans to increase the retirement age to 67 or above.

They bleat about all these poor old people and how they’ll have to work long beyond the date they expected to, or otherwise be condemned to a diet of cat food and tinsel for all eternity.

What tosh. Any changes won’t affect anyone currently over the age of 50, so it’s hardly as if your Gran is going to have to go back down the pit, is it? And anyway, even if it was, they could cope. Don’t forget, this is the generation that didn’t see a banana until 1956. They saw off Hitler; I’m damn sure they could handle a bolshy customer at B&Q.

(And why shouldn’t they get a job anyway? Unless we get a sharp dose of bird flu, half of the population will be of pensionable age by the year 2030. Someone’s got to pay for our failing schools and hospitals.)

I’ll give you an example of their resourcefulness and animal cunning. Last week Mrs B. dragged me kicking and screaming to the nearest shopping mall. It was Hell, dear reader. Bleating Big Issue sellers jostled with hooded youths who were bumping into Xmas-crazed housewives. Even the shoplifters were getting fed up and were going home.

We joined a queue in Argos where Mrs B. had purchased a foot spa, destined to spend the next 10 years at the back of someone’s broom cupboard. After 20 minutes we were approaching an uninterested checkout girl when a sweet old lady, 85 if she was a day, popped up in front of us.

“Excuse me, dear,” she said. “Would you mind if I nipped in front you? It’s just that I’m going to miss my bus if I have to wait.”

Now I’ve been brought up properly. I never leave the milk bottle on the dinner table, I stand up for the Queen’s Speech and I get out of the bath to have a wee. So of course I agreed. The old lady nipped in front, paid for her cat food and tinsel and was gone.

Twenty minutes later we were in Boots, once again at the back of a long, long line. Up by the till there was something of a kerfuffle. A sweet old lady was in conversation with the couple at the front of the queue. Yes, dear reader, it was her. The bus she was rushing for? What bus? Well shake me up Judy.

An hour later I spotted her doing it again, this time in Marks. So what do I do? Do I rush to the front of the queue and denounce her as a fraudster? Do I follow her around town harassing her until she jumps into her Honda Civic and drives the wrong way down a motorway?

I did what any middle-aged, middle class Englishman would have done. Absolutely nothing.

So when you read sob stories about pensioners having to work until they’re 147, call to mind that sweet old lady, who probably spent five years garrotting Gestapo agents for fun. You can’t be too careful out on the streets these days.

(Incidentally, I asked Mrs B Senior what she wanted for Christmas. She asked for “one of those George Formby grills”. Right. So that’s a sandwich-maker with a built-in ukelele then?)

THE OTHER thing that really annoyed me about having to spend five hours in the company of my fellow man is how many of the buggers are hauling walking sticks around with them. And it’s not as if we’re talking proper cripples here; it’s just fat people in polyester with a grey NHS metal stick that they wave around ineffectually in front of them.

The latest figures, based on the number of claimants, show that one in seven of the population is classed as “disabled”. That’s getting on for nine million people. Do you really believe they’re all genuine cases? I don’t.

Our streets are littered with so many shysters with sticks trying to remember to limp in case the DSS is videoing them that the average High Street resembles a World War One hospital ward. And that’s before we get to the whiplash fakers wearing neck braces. No wonder half the car park at Tesco is off-limits to the able bodied.

Of course, this blatant abuse of the system at the expense of the ordinary working man makes it all the more satisfying when one of them comes unstuck. Which brings us to the curious case of the goal-scoring gimp.

Now bear in mind that 26-year-old Matthew Hughes is Welsh, and therefore probably genetically stupid, but trying to claim £10,000 in compo from his local council for injuring his knee after tripping on an uneven pavement wasn’t the wisest move. Especially when he was pictured in his local paper playing for his football team at the same time the accident is supposed to have happened.

After spotting the photograph of Hughes sliding on his knees in celebration after scoring a goal, council officials hauled his sorry arse into court where he promptly copped for 14 days in the clink for making a false claim. Oh, and there’s the small matter of £33,000 in costs to pay as well.

As I say, highly satisfying for the rest of us. But assuming that just half of the nine million registered “disabled” are trying it on in one form or another, that means there’s still 4,499,999 million tax thieves getting away with it.

OF COURSE, the root cause of the compo culture is aggressive advertising by ambulance-chasing lawyers. Watch daytime telly and you can’t avoid having their promises of easy money shoved down your throat. (And why do they advertise on daytime telly? Because their target market of the feckless and greedy have already started their 18-hour shift on the couch.)

One particularly irritating example is the current advert for a company called Injurylawyers4u (obviously spelt like that so morons can understand it), in which a shouty woman supposedly grills a dodgy solicitor: “Do I have to pay anything up front? Do I receive 100 per cent of the compensation?”

I tell you what, love. Speak to me like that and you’d soon be claiming for a busted nose.

O The views of Mr Beelzebub are purely personal and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of the Editor or staff of this website, of anyone who thinks domestic violence is something to joke about, of anyone who hasn’t tried that new Chinese/German restaurant yet (very good, but half an hour later you’re hungry for power), or of anyone remotely surprised that pavement cyclists have killed nine pedestrians and injured more than 1,000 in the past five years. Perhaps that’s why everyone’s carrying sticks.


Blogger sky_dog said...

''Our streets are littered with so many shysters with sticks trying to remember to limp in case the DSS is videoing them that the average High Street resembles a World War One hospital ward.''

As a bus driver in Leeds I can vouch for your sad story Barry. Every morning at 0930 (when concessionary fares ... 35p anywhere) start we are besieged by hoards of feral wrinklies fighting and jostling to load the bus up to bursting point and then moaning at each other because some 76 year old won't give his seat up to some chav with several multicoloured brats in tow. Last week whilst proceeding down Vicar Lane is was treated to the spectacle of some deranged old bugger (sans Walking cane) heading to wards me on the same side of the road ... WITHOUT A CAR ! frantically waving me aside so that he could schlep down this main arterial route (usually a blood clot I have to say) I was tempted to pull over onto the pavement and slaughter the hoards of Big Issue sellers and junkies with bandannaed dogs but as you probably undersatnd the bloody paperwork would be endless. :o(

6:20 AM  
Blogger sky_dog said...

BTW Barry, where did you get the picture of my mum ? ;o)

7:42 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

What's wrong with carrying a walking stick? I do it myself, every day. Have to keep my sword someplace, you know.

10:03 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Love your blog. I live in the USA (Chicago area). What is "tinsel" -- i.e. eating cat food and tinsel. ??

1:14 PM  
Anonymous Doctor Mick said...

Barry's busy right now but if I may... tinsel is that glittery stuff you drape over your Christmas Tree.

But surely if you're in the US you've heard of the expression, "Tinsel Town". Same stuff?

4:54 AM  

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