Wednesday, 15 January 2014

New year, new you novelty wearing thin

EVERYONE has had a fortnight to try and stick with their New Year’s resolutions, so how many of you have stayed strong?

After the festive excesses there were armies of people brightly determined on January 1st to start a new regime of weight loss-keep fit-training programmes.

You must have seen them in the last fortnight. They’re the ones with the new tracksuit bottoms pounding the pavements, the “70 per cent off!” sales tag still attached to the waistband and fluttering bravely behind them.

They’re the ones you are meeting in cafes, ordering a diet cola to go with their breakfast fry-up. I’ve actually seen such people!

And they’re the ones you see being carted off to hospital after that unfortunate bike accident which occurred after a hill descent on their new Chris Froome 28-gear carbon fibre racing bicycle.

The bike was a Christmas gift from their wife-husband-partner, but it wasn’t lack of familiarity with their gleaming new machine which caused the crash. That came as the rider fumed and fiddled with the on-bike computer recording their heart beat, calorific loss and pulse.

Handily for the police, it also recorded his speed at 47mph in a 30mph limit (£60 fixed penalty) as he gave the bike computer one last disgusted cuff and looked up. By then it was too late to brake as he flashed across a roundabout and buried his front wheel in an invalid carriage.

So as you fight the flab, give up sugar in your tea or try to be more carbon neutral, remember this. The idea is to get to the end of the year, not crash and burn in the first month.

How time flies when you’re having fun!

IT is amazing how the passage of time can catch you out.

I was talking with a friend and the conversation meandered along through various members of our family until we got to his late father.

It was then that my friend observed his father had actually been born in 1929, the same year that Wild West legend Wyatt Earp died, he of Gunfight at the OK Corral fame.

We mused about what Earp must have felt, living in an era including the first flights and the first cars, and I happened to point out that 40 years could produce all kinds of change.

We then realised that 40 years on from Earp’s death and the birth of my friend’s father was 1969 when man first set foot on the Moon.

Warming to our task, we looked back four decades to the middle of Earp’s life in 1889 when the Wild West was very much reality… and found that huge change was apparent then as well because 1889 was the year that one of the world’s most iconic structures, the Eiffel Tower, was built.

And how did all this conversation start? Well we’d been remembering what dramatic changes we’d seen in Weymouth over the last 30-40 years and speculating on what changes the town might see over the next 40 years. Amazing how the passage of time can startle you when you actually sit down to consider it.

Everything rising but interest rates

GAS and electricity prices have gone up and now it seems to be the turn of council tax, held unchanged for several years in Weymouth and Portland but now heading for an increase.

Such power and tax rises have caused consternation among those whose job it is to safeguard the poor and vulnerable in our society, but I have yet to hear a single plea on behalf of those millions of us who have seen our savings butchered by years of cripplingly low interest rates.

Politicians and power companies seem to feel that our mattresses are supported by unlimited amounts of ready cash which can just be tapped whenever they feel like it.

But the harsh reality is that decades of careful saving to produce a nest egg for our old age have been addled by national and local decisions and policies which focus on grabbing cash from us without much thought about our futures.

The presumption seems to be that our masters can keep going to the well but I have news for them. It is starting to run dry.

If interest rates are not increased soon so that those with savings can use them to get the financial help they increasingly need then the wolf at the door is going to be inside homes and at our throats before you can say “MPs’ pay rise”.

And if an interest rate rise doesn’t happen, if the safety net we’ve built for the future continues to be eroded, then pretty soon those trumpeting about protecting the poor are going to have an even bigger task on their hands because more and more of us will be increasingly unable to support ourselves in old age because the measures we took to do so have been torpedoed.

1 comment:

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