I am getting ever stronger and for much of the day I am pretty much pain free, but in the late evening, nights and early mornings the wounds still give me a degree of discomfort and pain. I rarely sleep more than about 6 hours a night.
The scars are healing well, but underneath the scar, the rib cage, which is held firmly in place by wires, is slowly welding itself back together. This will be long process and I have to wait 8 weeks before I can drive and apparently, it will be the best part of a year before I will be 100% back to full strength.
My blood pressure is higher than I would like it to be, and I will need to discuss this with the Doc when I go for my first post op checkup next Wednesday.
We seem to have come out of the extreme heat of the past 2 months, and the mornings and evenings are very pleasant out here with nice cooling breezes to make life very tolerable.
Next week I shall make a return to my novel writing activities and hopefully I will get back into the routine of publishing a chapter every week – not this coming week, but hopefully the week after. My immediate goal is to have the first, ‘blog-published’, draft of the novel completed by the end of August.
Something to aim for….
The Tax Man Cometh
There seems to be a bit of witch hunt on in the UK to ‘name and shame’ well known celebs who have succeeded in substantially reducing their tax bills by using LEGAL tax avoidance schemes, no doubt introduced to them by their financial advisors.
We could debate till the cows come home on the matter of how moral it may be to shelter your tax burden in legitimate avoidance schemes – which, incidentally, are all disclosed in full to the tax man – but I do feel there is a high degree of hypocrisy in all this hubbub.
I suspect that many of these so-called celebrities – the likes of the comedian Jimmy Carr and the members of ‘Take That’ pop group – know little or nothing about their financial and tax matters. They are entertainers – not businessmen and when they suddenly found themselves earning oodles of dosh, their management quite rightly steered them towards financial advisers who told them, ‘just sign here, and here, and here, and we will legally cut your tax bill. It is perfectly respectable and everyone does it….’
OK, I admit that Mr. Carr or Mr. Barlow may be financially aware, but somehow I doubt it, given their backgrounds.
Then we have the unseemly spectacle of privileged, Eton educated P.M. Cameron having a go at Mr. Carr’s tax avoidance schemes, as though it is only the likes of Carr and Barlow who are robbing the country of desperately needed tax income.
Yet just how many members of his cabinet members and conservative MP’s and Lords have taken advantage of legal tax avoidance schemes to minimize their tax bills through the years I wonder? Quite a large number I’d warrant.
How many of them have – or used to have – ‘non dom’ status? This is a flagrant, but legal tax avoidance scheme whereby you declare that you are ‘non- domiciled’ in the UK and therefor avoid tax on all your non-UK generated income.
By way of example, a ‘non-dom’ may transfer his cash assets into an offshore bank account and will not have to pay any tax on investement income generated by that offshore investment. ‘Normal’ UK residents, (99.99 % of the population), who do not have the means to set up residences overseas, and who carry out a similar transactions, would be required to pay tax on such ‘offshore’ income.
We know for a fact that several leading government peers were told to drop their ‘non-dom’ status before taking up their official positions – but how many more or the lesser Lords still avoid paying large amounts of tax?
There was even one millionaire who regularly flew in his private jet out of UK airspace, several times a month, to maintain his ‘non-dom’ tax status. He didn’t go anywhere, just flew around for 12 hours or so. Why didn’t Cameron have a go at him?
‘Non-dom’ status is just the tip of the iceberg. There are literally hundreds – if not thousands- of legal tax avoidance schemes which are dreamed up by the commercial tax experts and sold to the ‘great and good’ – or should I say the wealthy and privileged.
I am not saying that what Carr and others are doing is morally correct, because it isn’t – especially in these hard times – but for the Prime Minister to name and shame these simple folk from the world entertainment, when he knows only too well that tax avoidance schemes are widely used by many of his closest colleagues, is just hypocrisy in the extreme.
One day, he may well come to regret this silly and ill-advised outburst. Instead of trying to score a few ‘brownie points’ with the public, why didn’t he put pressure on his seemingly ignorant Chancellor by exhorting him to take immediate measures to legislate against the worst excesses of these schemes? That would have made far more sense.
And while we’re on the subject of the unbelievably incompetent Chancellor, do you really believe him when he said recently:
“I was shocked to see that some of the very wealthiest people in the country have organised their tax affairs, and to be fair, it’s within the tax laws, so that they were regularly paying virtually no income tax. And I don’t think that’s right.’
George – you are a lying, inept, hypocrite!!!
(…and if, by chance, you are telling the truth, then you have no business running the financial affairs of the United Kingdom)
I don’t want to bang on too much about my beloved Queen Lizzie and her excruciatingly naff Jubilee celebrations, but I cannot let this historic episode pass without making a few comments on the Jubilee concert.
I well recall the occasion of Lizzie’s golden Jubilee celebrations when the “Party at the Palace’ was staged. I have always been a glutton for live concerts, and to be honest the ‘Party at the Palace’ wasn’t at all bad. I don’t know who was responsible for producing and staging it, but I reckon they did a pretty good job – bringing together a host of Britain’s best known stars – some oldies, many contemporaries, plus a generous scattering of stars from across the pond; and they really did a very good job. The concert was released on DVD and sold very well.
But on the occasion of the diamond Jubilee, we have this idiot, Gary Barlow, (who showed how mean-spirited and stupid he was when acting as a judge on the X-Factor), put in charge of staging an even bigger concert outside the Palace.
Quite frankly it was embarrassing. As I said above, I love live concerts – even bad ones – but this has to be the most excruciatingly awful concert I have ever had the misfortune to watch.
The sound was pretty awful, which in these high technological times is unforgivable, but no amount of high quality sound could have papered over the cracks of a bunch of largely geriatric performers, croaking their way, off key, through their most famous songs which we are all fed up to the teeth with.
There were some return acts from the palace concert ten years ago – such as Paul McCartney and Elton John – but whereas 10 years ago, even though their singing powers were well on the wane they still just about viable, but they are now so far gone that barely a note was sung in key, and you could have heard far sweeter voices at your local pub on karaoke night.
Tom Jones and Stevie Wonder can still sing a note or two – but I ask you? Do we really want to hear those long ago, ‘done to death’ hits yet again?
The prize for the naffest performance must be a three way split between Cliff Richard –who sang so many songs out of tune I was wondering if I had time to DHL him one of those electronic voice pitch correcting machines –and Grace Jones – who frankly, looked utterly disgusting as she flaunted her 70 year old naked legs under a hula-hoop – and the ubiquitous Wil.i.am who can’t sing, can’t dance and always looks like a total prat. Next thing we know, he’ll be issued with an honorary British passport.
But the worst moment of all came when the toadying Barlow ushered Lizzie, Charlie, and the other royal hangers-on up onto the front of the stage.
I well remember the similar occasion, 10 years ago, when Charlie caused loud ripples of laughter when he addressed Q. Lizzie as ‘Mummy’. At the time, it was unexpected and an amusing departure from the usually stiff, royal protocol and I admit that on that occasion, he scored a bit of a hit with many of the fawning riff raff.
But can you believe it? Having had a ‘one-off’ success, he failed to realize that the golden rule is never to repeat an old joke, and much to everyone’s astonishment, he decided to try the same party trick again.
He grabbed the mike and said, ‘Mummy’ , looking at Lizzie.
Lizzie was not amused and glared back at her idiot, gawky son.
The crowd was not amused either, and everybody sat – or stood – in painful silence.
The embarrassed royals seemed to be unsure what they were doing there and not knowing where to look, ended up blinking at each other with humourless, false smiles on their faces.
The whole affair was extremely tacky, from the beginning to its ridiculous finale with the 86 year old Queen granny pushing a plastic-looking, diamond shaped bauble into a magician’s contraption which, we are led to believe, lit the final beacon.
I hope to God we don’t have to endure her 70 year jubilee – what will that be? Platinum? Maybe it should be ‘Nuclear meltdown’…
The Doctors are Striking
Can you believe it?
One thing that never ceases to amaze me about the never ending world recession is how so many people from Greece, to France, to Spain, to our own UK civil servants, teachers and now our wonderful, caring doctors are in total, and almost insane denial.
In particular, we have vast numbers of people in the UK who are employed, have decent benefits, including good pensions, who insist on protesting and striking when the government tries to slightly modify their conditions of employment, for the sake of the greater good.
Talk about ‘I’m all right Jack!’
I understand and sympathize with those in countries such as Greece who have been thrown out of government jobs and where the health and other services have more or less ground to a halt. It is human nature that they would rail against such impoverished circumstances – even though at the end of the day there is no magic solution to their ills.
But no civil servant, teacher or doctor in the UK has been thrown out of work. The social welfare systems and health service are still largely intact, but there are millions of unemployed people, and countless numbers working for minimum wages in the private sector. It is clear to all that there are a lot of people suffering considerable hardships, with no guarantees as to their future well being – let alone a decent pension.
Yet, in spite of these unprecedented and difficult times, firstly the teachers and now the doctors have decided, in their wisdom, to take industrial action.
It is hardly surprising that support for the doctors’ strike started to crumble last on Wednesday night after a public backlash caused many who voted for action to have second thoughts.
The slump in support for industrial action over pensions follows fierce public criticism and claims that doctors are being “greedy and immoral”. One poll on Wednesday found that only a third of Britons backed the action.
It is a fact that most doctors already have gold-plated pensions which people working in the private sector “can only dream of”. According to the Department of Health, the taxpayer currently funds 80 per cent of doctors’ pensions, making the scheme “unsustainable”, and under government proposals, new doctors will have to work until 68 and make bigger contributions to earn a pension worth £68,000 a year.
The average pay for doctors is around 80,000 pounds per year, with many earning well in excess of 100,000.
I was listening to one of the leaders of the strike movement being interviewed on radio the other day. ‘Well, yes… er.. I do acknowledge that the country’s economy is in a bad way and that there are many people who are suffering…. But the new pension arrangements that the government is proposing for doctors – it’s simply not fair!!!’
Come on docs – get your mind in gear and your priorities right, for God’s sake.
Butt…Butt…Butt…I don’t give a Hoot!…