Archive for the ‘Rantings and Ravings’ Category

Open Letter to Karen Buck MP

Dear Karen Buck,

As you will know Dub Vendor record shack Ladbroke Grove is closing this Wednesday 25th June after over 28 years of business. Dub Vendor was key in bringing Jamaican and Carribean music to London and has played a central role in the Ladbroke Grove community.

Whilst we must accept the closing of the store I am extremely concerned that we may lose the mural on the side of the store, one of the finest in London. I would urge you to take the steps necessary to protect this local, national and international icon.

Yours sincerely,

Dub Vendor is world famous as is the mural that has featured in many films and music videos, as well as being a local landmark. There is a facebook group if you wish to support this campaign – however the best course of action is to email Ms Buck directly at k.buck@rpkn-labour.co.uk

No Taxation without Representation

Today I got a council tax reminder notice saying that if I didn’t pay my late council tax within the next seven days I would be taken to court and incur an additional £95 court cost. It’s dire straights these days: I had to choose between paying the council tax or buying food this week. I chose food.

And speaking of food, has anyone else noticed it’s gone up? I dropped £12 today at Tescos for:

Toilet Paper
Coffee
Milk
Honey
2 Fishes (where you have to skin, bone and chop off the head yourself ’cause it’s cheaper)
Honey (which PJ has in tea instead of sugar, which is bad for him)
2 apples
2 bagles

Anyway, called the Council to see if they could give me a reprieve. It’s an 0845 number, by the way, which I don’t understand ’cause it’s the government, right? At first the very nice lady said that she couldn’t help me because I’m not on income assistance. I told her that I couldn’t get on income assistance because I’m a foreigner and it’s illegal because of the visa and all. Eventually, she did help me. Gave me a 7 day extension before they take me to court.

The thing is that they didn’t have to help me at all because I’m not a voting citizen…I’m a foreigner, or did I say that already? I’m reminded that “no taxation without representation” was one of the reasons why American broke from this country to begin with. (All of you complaining about Boris…at least you got to vote.)

Then there’s the bank charges, but I don’t want to get into that yet. It’s too depressing.

You’re probably saying, “if you don’t like it then just go the hell home.” Well, honestly, at this point, I probably would. At least I can go on welfare and get food stamps back in the States. But because fuel prices are so high, I can’t afford the airfare.

Tube strike threatened. Again.

Tube strike image courtesy of Ctrl-F5

During the few months I’ve been living in London, there have been at least two potentially catastrophic tube strikes called off. So when I see the BBC reporting that the RMT are planning yet another one, I can’t help but feel like I’m justified in suffering from strike-threat fatigue.

I don’t even get what the fuss is about, to be honest. Given that “TfL said it had assured the RMT that no staff would lose jobs or pensions, nor would any be transferred”, the fact that “the RMT wants a guarantee that Metronet workers will be allowed to join the TfL pension scheme and receive the same travel facilities as other TfL employees” seems like a pretty poor reason to try and bring an entire city to a standstill.

But don’t get me wrong, I’m a massive fan of unionisation and what it’s given this country, and others.

Actually, here’s a fantastic example from South Africa from this very week. Despite the fact that Zimbabwe has bought some arms from China – and that South Africa’s National Conventional Arms Control Committee has approved the transit of the weapons through the country – the members of the SATAWU union are refusing to unload the arms from the cargo ships because they disagree with their government’s lack of action on the issue.

Now that’s what I call solidarity. I suspect that if the RMT picked an issue that actually had a lot of public support to strike on, it’d be less likely to have to back down…

Fire in Camden

Saddened to hear news of fire that broke out in Camden Town on Saturday. Especially since Saturday was sunny, warm and lovely (although it was a record breaking temp of 16.6 C, human induced climate change anyone?). I have not heard any word as to cause of the blaze, just recall seeing it on BBC after getting home that night. The news reporter kept saying how everything was getting back to normal and I’m like fuck! Camden Town’s on fire and you say everything is back to ‘normal’ again? Bloody hell. The fire severely damaged one of the most well-known, historic parts of London, not to mention peoples’ homes and livelihood. And what exactly is ‘normal’ for Camden or anything else in this world anyway? Camden is still one of the great urban settings of the world where ‘the weird turn pro.’ I wish it the best in repairing itself, but taking into account its tenacity these are cuts and bruises that will heal over time.

http://www.camden.gov.uk/ccm/content/council-and-democracy/news/2008/feb/fire—3-chalk-farm-road—stables-market.en;jsessionid=49F1EE41F12BBC3F1BA7A34D317C00E6.node2

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk/7237119.stm

Driving

I can’t be the only one that has noticed that roadworks seem to have sprung up everywhere in Central London. Just the other day it took me over an hour to get from Camden to Soho, a distance of not even 3 miles. Yesterday I ran into roadworks around Seymour Place, then Victoria, Edgeware Road. I am serious considering taking public transport, something that I have managed to avoid for almost 20 years. Add to this the fact that it cost £51 the last time I filled up my car and the congestion charge is £8 a day and I think Ken Livingstone may just have converted me to buy an Oyster card.

On the other hand I may convert to the new G-Whiz, congestion, tax and parking free electric cars.

Music-free Buses and Trains

Thank you TimeOut magazine for calling attention (last week, page 11) to one of my major pet peeves: people playing music on tubes, trains and buses. I’m sure someone out there will accuse me once again of being an old curmudgeon (see earlier post about screaming kids), but let me assure you that I am by no means anti-music (this post is beginning to sound like a scene from Footloose). I am quite pro-music… A musician, in fact. I am so pro-music that it pains me to listen to music coming out of such crap speakers, like those little ones on mobile phones these days.
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£1 million US Embassy C-Charge tab

I’m not usually a fan of knee-jerk America-bashing but in this case, I’ll make an exception.

The US embassy now owes over £1 million in congestion charge fees–it refuses to pay the charge on the grounds that it’s a tax, from which diplomats are exempt.

Other C-charge rebels, such as the UAE, have caved to the charge. And US embassies apparently pay similar congestion charges in Singapore and Oslo. UK embassies walk the walk in the US by stumping up for road and bridge tolls.

What’s the scoop, US ambassador Robert Tuttle?

Maybe he’s idealogically opposed–he does own a car dealership in Beverly Hills.

TOP DIPLOMATIC OFFENDERS
US – £1,016,200
Angola – £543,300
Nigeria – £504,120
Sudan – £449,220
Tanzania – £233,630
South Africa – £214,640
Kenya – £208,610
source: London mayor’s office, October 2006

Moving job markets

My husband came home from work last night and said his company’s going to move its IT operations to India. Not immediately – the whole move would take place over 18 months. This was announced in a full staff meeting. Even as he was coming back to his desk, he could feel the glares of his colleagues, as if, somehow just by being Indian, he has instigated this whole move. The fact that he is going to suffer a similar fate, being a local employee, seems to have escaped everybody.

Today, I read that Aviva’s going to do something similar as well.

I am afraid.

It takes a long time for people to trust and accept us – but that hard-won trust and acceptance can be snapped in a minute. A whiff of terrorism – the glares and stares make a come back; losing your job cos your company’s moving the operations to Asia – watch out!

Matthew Wright was joking yesterday about some Asian youths and the slogans written on their knapsacks – ‘Don’t be phobic, I am not Islamic’ or words to that affect. I can imagine what prompts these people to come up with such ideas. Cos I have felt the stares and the accusatory glances. One one memorable occasion, have even been spat at. Charming!

Between self and hubby, we contribute to the UK economy by paying our taxes on time; pay all our bills and council taxes; but our skin colour prompts local patriots to scream ‘go home!’. *sigh*

Who’s being punished here?

Ian Huntley tries yet again to do away with himself but the powers that be rose to the occasion and brought him back to the land of the living. This is the third time the bloke has tried suicide – or is it the fourth? I have lost count. Frankly, I don’t care. He killed two innocent girls and is yet to pay for his sins. While we, the illustrious tax payers, are paying to keep him live and kicking – as well as footing the bill to keep his side-kick safe and sound in a hidden location.

This galls me.

Why are we striving so hard to keep such people in good health? Every day, we pay huge sums to keep murders, rapists and other assorted folks of similar ilk, fed, clothed and sheltered. Some of them get out in due course, only to wreck more havoc on us, while others, like Ian, try to take the easy way out. Either way, it is us who pay for their sins.

Who’s the punishment for then? Ones that harmed – or, us, the long-suffering public?

Adez is good for you

adez.jpg

I Keep seeing adverts for a new soya-based fruit drink called “Adez” on London buses and across tube tracks. Does anyone else think that this is an unfortunate name? Mind you, many soya-based products have yet to pull me in with their marketing – consider the endline for Alpro: “Soya, but not as you currently know it”. About as catchy as bird flu.

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