Monday, January 14, 2008

It might be 70 degrees outside, but you're still getting your cold weather payment

MRS BEELZEBUB continues to hog the TV remote control, flicking to daytime property programmes like Place In The Sun, wherein former pub landlords from Derby buy 15-room mansions with a swimming pool in Bulgaria for £3,500 and live happily ever after.

I’ve tried pointing out to her that most of the prices date back to 2001 and that by the time they’ve appeared on a television programme, the houses have already been snapped up by property speculators with big city bonuses, but to no avail. Her intended destination is France … with the dog, but with or without me, apparently.

I can’t say I blame her. Faced with another year in a mean-spirited, miserable Britain, bedevilled by red tape and political correctness and on the brink of an economic meltdown, that small chateau just outside Carcassonne or the olive farm in Liguria look ever more attractive. (What’s that you say? The French can be beastly to incomers? They haven’t met Mrs B ... think Agincourt.)

Just in case the flight to a life more sensible doesn’t appeal already, it now turns out that the government is forking out £10 million a year of your money to 50,000 elderly Brits who have already buggered off overseas. That’s right. Ex-pat pensioners shivering in the chill winds of Tenerife, Greece or even the Caribbean can look forward to a cheque dropping through their letterboxes containing their … wait for it … winter heating allowance. No, really.

Now I have no problem with Mrs Dodderer of Doncaster, already living on a diet of cat food and tinsel, collecting the £300 a year which allows her to turn on the second bar on her electric fire. But I do have a problem with a used car millionaire from Walsall, currently Speedo-clad by the side of his Marbella pool, getting the same public handout.

Ironically, it’s Europe that is to blame. It seems that under EU law, benefits acquired in one member state must be paid to those who move to another of the 29 countries or their overseas territories. Thinking about it, this might even mean that we poor Brits can now take mistresses with the same impunity that the gentlemen of France enjoy. I must ask Mrs B what she thinks about that …

ACCORDING TO my newspaper, a company boss has been branded a “neanderthal” for getting a bit upset when a key female employee he had just appointed went off and got pregnant. He also faces paying compensation that could well approach £200,000.

Let’s look at the facts. When interviewing Louise Manning for the £55,000 a year post of marketing and national accounts manager, managing director Nick Medlam, who runs a small company making security screens for banks, probably broke the petty employment rules by asking her if she was considering starting a family.

Mrs Manning replied that she had no such plans and duly got the job, starting work in August 2004. She was obviously a key employee and within months had been promoted. Within months, she was also pregnant – within eight months, in fact; April 2005 to be precise.

Mrs Manning duly disappeared on maternity leave in October 2005 and gave birth to a daughter in November 2005. She was due to return to work in October 2006, but by that point was six weeks pregnant again, eventually producing a son. When it was suggested that she might now work part-time in a lesser job, Mrs Manning went sick with “stress”, eventually resigning in October 2007.

Sitting in judgement on the inevitable sexual discrimination claim, an industrial tribunal ruled against Mr Medlam, bleating that “it is not often that the tribunal is faced with such a blatant response to notification of pregnancy”.

Now hang on just a darned minute. Pass that calculator. Mrs Manning was on the books of Mr Medlam’s company for 38 months at a cost of over £174,000. In that time, she actually worked for just 14 months – and one might suspect that she was probably less than effective for the last four months of that short tenure.

So here you are, Mr Small Businessman, interviewing two applicants for a key role in your company. One is a woman, clearly superior, but of child-bearing age. The other is a nondescript man, unlikely to get pregnant in the near future. Which one do you employ? Yes, it’s the right answer – and the wrong one at the same time.

It’s very sad, but unfortunately ‘wimmin’ only have themselves to blame for this stupid situation.

AN INMATE at an Oxfordshire prison is suing the Prison Service after he fell out of his top bunk and cut his head. According to the BBC, the prisoner at Bullingdon near Bicester, told prisoners’ magazine, Inside Time, that bunk beds were “an accident waiting to happen”.

Never mind the nonsense about prisoners suing (compensation paid out in 2005-06 topped £4 million), I’m fascinated by this ‘prisoners’ magazine’.

Who pays for it and what’s in it? Cell of the Week? Mass Murderers I Have Known? Cooking with Dennis Nielson? Patio-laying with Fred West? The mind boggles.

I SOMETIMES worry that the flights of fancy in this column might occasionally prove too ridiculous. And then I read that a new musical is launching next month based on The Diaries of Anne Frank. Presumably featuring Up The Ladder To The Roof by The Supremes and Silence Is Golden by The Tremeloes.

Well it’s no dafter an idea than the Maddy McCann film, is it?


Blogger Stew said...

Billy Joel's "Songs in the Attic" could be used? or Alisha's Attic?

1:08 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Ex-pat pensioners shivering in the chill winds of Tenerife, Greece or even the Caribbean can look forward to a cheque dropping through their letterboxes containing their … wait for it … winter heating allowance."

Sure, this is undoubtedly madness.
Mind you, I expect this cost is easily covered by the amount the UK govt have avoided paying to Ex-Pat pensioners now residing in non EU countries by refusing to index link their old age pensions. These folk earned their pensions by paying their dues throughout their UK working lives plus they do not call on the services of the NHS even though fully paid up on NI. How much is a 1970 old age pension worth now?

4:51 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

You would expect a tribunal to be made up of reasonable people but invariably they comprise loonie leftie sandal wearing guardianistas (why is this allowed?)
So if you are ever at the mercy of one, don't expect justice.

4:56 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

When a friend of mine was sorting out the estate of his late father, he received a cheque for a heating allowance. Being a fair minded bloke, this friend attempted to return it stating that his father having been cremated would not really be feeling winter's chill.
Back came the reply, "No, it was his entitlement so you must keep it"
So even when you try to redress the balance, the waste just continues.

5:16 AM  
Blogger Chris said...

As for that female executive, if we take that a pregnancy lasts nine months then she was already pregnant for a month when she took the job... therefore blatantly lied about "not starting a family" at the interview.

Of course, such facts are irrelevant.

And, "Inside Time" - will we be seeing this publication during the missing words roung on Have I Got News for You?

8:53 AM  
Blogger Chris said...

btw, Inside Time has a website:

8:55 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


You may have already noticed it, but you obviously have readers at the Daily Mail.

From the leader column, January 12, start of par 6: 'It's enough to make a cat laugh.'

Keep up the good work.

1:15 PM  

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