Go off-topic in the Lobby

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Latest comments


If you can smile when things go wrong, you have someone in mind to blame.

How do you know you’re getting old? People call at 9 p.m. and ask, “Did I wake you?”

You know when you are getting old when children offer you their seat on the bus.

I knew I was getting old when I found I had time to spend here at ten o’clock in the morning.

That’s OK, but please don’t retire!

You know you are old when your grandchildren tell you they are pregnant. I am expecting a wee great granddaughter in August

With luck you will have a great wee great granddaughter.

Great news Beryl, long may your clan prosper.

I can already hear the knitting needles clicking. Skeins of pink wool at the ready: knit one, purl one.

University is the opposite of kidnapping. They demand £10,000 per year from you or they’ll send your kid back.

It’s OK if you are a Scottish Student wanting to study in Scotland. They do not pay tuition fees.

Ham and Eggs: a day’s work for a chicken, a lifetime commitment for a pig.

Middle age: when work is a lot less fun and fun a lot more work.

The problem of being a middle-aged chicken………..Darn! I can’t remember why I crossed the road.

The other side might know.


Patio heaters were mentioned in a Which? Weekly Scoop and I see that Which? has a long article about them: https://www.which.co.uk/reviews/garden-furniture/article/patio-heaters-are-they-worth-it-and-how-do-i-pick-one-aCSPx3N0unlz

I am disappointed that although Which? regularly mentions sustainability that it is even looking at patio heaters, which are very wasteful. At least this is mentioned.

I agree but Which? also presents fire pits, large cars (electric and fossil), overseas holidays by air….. all wasteful, but where would we like the line to be drawn? Do we want Which? to only promote the most sustainable products and ignore the many consumers who will continue to buy products on other criteria?

I believe pointing out the downside (preferably quantified) of less sustainable products gives consumers the ability to make an informed choice.

I would prefer Which? to focus on products that cause less environmental damage and to explain why they do not look at those that are best avoided.

Thankfully Which? does not review bottled water.

Presumably, in general, Which?’s testing and reporting is driven by its subscriber demographic, and I expect that is the most affluent and aspirational quartile of the middle bracket of the population. The super-rich and the landed nobility have no need of value-for-money assessments since their product selections are based on entirely different factors. Others outside their subscriber base either reject the Which? form of consumerism, cannot afford to buy much in the way of lifestyle hardware, or find their decisions made for them on social media. Thus luxury performance motor cars, gas heaters for the garden terrace [not a patio, please], balsamic vinegar, and modish kitchen aids and gadgets are what keep the accountants happy in the Marylebone Road. The other reports about the price of string and on how to mop the bathroom lino are just there for charitable purposes.

I, too, raised an eyebrow when I read of outside heaters. The whole concept is illogical. Outside and artificial heat -just for warming – doesn’t compute. It turned out that the magazine was dealing with fire pits, and apart from the burning of fossil fuels these domestic camp fires are less of an energy waste than any of the gas or electric versions. The fire pits are very much of a life-style thing. Most of us are now forbidden the traditional bonfire which smokes the neighbours out.

I have been to a number of barbeques, the first domestic one one in the early 1980’s but I must admit I have never grasped the special attraction of improvised cooking outdoors when the house has a fully equipped kitchen nearby. The smell, the potential hazards, and the culinary output seem to militate against satisfaction.

We are committed to phasing out gas heating and fossil fuelled cars. Legislation concerning sale of coal and wet wood was introduced last year. These are radical changes and perhaps we could adjust to a life without patio heaters – a very small sacrifice to help future generations.

After my conservatory was built, I searched around for a suitable coffee table to blend with the furniture already in situ, without success. Visiting a garden centre for plants later, I stumbled on exactly what I was looking for – a coffee table that doubled up as a fire pit. It’s tiled top is attractive, serviceable, and easily cleaned with a quick wipe with a damp cloth.

I have yet to use the fire pit, but the plan is to wait until I reach the grand old age of 90 in xxxx years, when everyone is invited for a camp fire celebration on a cool spring evening sometime in April.

A tiled table makes good sense but I would be worried about using even a small fire pit in a conservatory. These carbon monoxide alarms can be very noisy.

I don’t think my house insurance would cover that Wavechange 🙁

I agree with phasing out patio heaters whether gas or electric. If we don’t, Earth will heat up and make them redundant anyway. We should not do anything to accelerate that effect. I would add hot tubs to the list of wasteful installations. I realise this sounds like the politics of envy but it is not; we just cannot afford to be profligate with the planet’s resources.

I agree about hot tubs. A good friend has installed a hot tub at one of his his rental properties and will soon be letting me know about running costs. He and his wife frequently order new white goods for their rental properties, scrapping working appliances, because that makes the properties more attractive.

Is discouraging purchase of patio heaters and hot tubs a matter of interfering with personal freedom or something that should be done to help to protect the future of our planet?

If it costs 3p to boil a litre of water imagine the cost of heating a hot tub with a hundred gallons in it, even though the water is not boiled. Using one must need some forward planning, one can’t just fill it and use it at once. If it is to be used regularly it has to be kept hot too. A cover helps, but it appears to be a luxury item for most of us. It is possible to get a bath indoors with air jets built in. The hot tub works really well in countries where there is a handy geyser to tap into. I suppose the people of Bath could invest. Swimming there was a warm experience many decades ago. I remain to be convinced that any outside space can be heated adequately by any heater on sale. I also share the dislike of back- garden- out-door cooking and the smell from others doing it. That said, I have a Primus stove somewhere in the shed and have been known to cook over a drift wood fire on the beach, many moons ago. I own an amazing contraption that has a water jacket and a central cylinder into which lighted twigs are fed. This boils very quickly once lit – strictly out of doors. That too lurks somewhere in the shed.

When people have surplus money, should they be regulated in how they spend it, their “discretionary spending”? Whether it is on hot tubs, big houses, air conditioning, overseas holidays, luxury food and wine, large cars…….. all have impacts on the environment one way or another. So perhaps we should all live as frugally as possible? A very different world that may, eventually, be forced upon the majority but I bet a pound to a penny that there will be many people who will evade such deprivation (just as they do now in many very unequal societies).

Banning specific activities arbitrarily is not going to work. I do not know what is. We have to hope that some natural balance comes about. We simply do not have the cooperative will, nor ability, to force universal change. Well, not in my view, when we can neither control the activities of those who govern us nor those who choose violence as a way to achieve their aims.

Depressing, isn’t it?

I’ve never seen the sustained attraction of a hot bath outside your house, once the novelty has worn off. Sitting in a solution that contains your guests sweat and dirt does not seem attractive, and you may get wrinkly skin. It seems a hot tub will cost around £1000 a year to run; given the cost of heating your home it might be more economical to simply sit in your tub all day, and use it to slow cook meals at the same time.
Perhaps we should promote outdoor communal showers where the warm water is filtered and recycled?

Although I do not have children, I hope that life will not be too bleak for future generations.

I am very glad to have witnessed the phase out of leaded petrol, and (non-smokeless) coal, and the progressive move towards cleaner transport.

I prefer to look at what we can achieve, both by legislation and encouraging people to think about their own environmental impact.

Been feeling a little moody and run down lately, so I googled my symptoms to see what I might have. It’s children. I have children

I have read that this problem can resolve itself after 18 years.

Did you forget to sever the umbilical?

Nowadays children do everything wirelessly, so no cord is needed.

Concord could provide a harmonious solution.

I am not sure if the term is used in the UK but ‘you are grounded’ is widely used in the US by parents when their children step out of line. Of course, Concorde was grounded too. Maybe it should have been named Concord.

Kevin says:
26 May 2022

wavechange “I have read that this problem can resolve itself after 18 years”

Sorry you’re 30 years behind the times on that…

Concorde came into being as a result of an Anglo-French agreement and concurrence, hence its name. It’s maiden flight took place in 1969 and was taken out of service in 2003.

I am not familiar with the US interpretation, except it was a source of much envy by competitive US aviation industries. It flew over my house everyday and I missed it after it was finally grounded.

Concorde was a wonderful aeroplane but a totally uneconomic idea. There was an interesting documentary on recently that suggested that the final cause of its grounding, the puncturing of a fuel tank on take off, could have had a less disastrous outcome if the fuel tanks had not been overfilled and the plane not overloaded.

It was rumoured the fuel tank was punctured by a piece of metal left on the runway. It was the tragic result and loss of life that followed, coupled with its uneconomic viability that finally induced it’s demise,

A wonderful aeroplane and a great technical achievement, but an environmental disaster.

The piece of metal was believed to be part of a repaired thrust reverser on a DC 10 that had recently taken off. This damaged a tyre from which a chunk of rubber detached and then impacted on a fuel tank in the wing; the impact might normally have been absorbed because an airspace remained in the tank, but the overfilling on this occasion removed that possibility.

Justice is a dish best served cold because if it were served warm, it would be justwater.

I wanna make a joke about sodium, but Na..

Try switching to 59 Pr – all will be revealed through a much clearer optical perspective.

Kevin says:
26 May 2022

Surely it’s inaproprionate to joke about sodium.

Please can you explain this pun/joke. 🙂

Reflecting this morning on our challenging world, I began to sympathise with the Treasury and Rishi’s dilemma. We can blame much of this on past parsimony and budget paring. Thus we have arrived at a state where the NHS is struggling, our armed forces are now in need of vast capital investment, our infrastructure can not cope with demands put upon it and external events have put the country on a semi war footing and caused huge hikes in the cost of living. I suppose the financial crash and the apocryphal message left on the Chancellor’s desk -“There’s no money left” began our decline. From there on, the emphasis was to recover from this mess and see what could be chopped in the short term. These phantoms have come home with a vengeance and it is impossible to deal with them all. Perhaps it is time for the government to do an audit and cut back on anything that is seen as non-essential. It would mean that the vanity projects and infrastructure improvements were postponed and we had to make do with the way things are for now. The argument that infrastructure work creates jobs and wealth falls down when there is no money to pay for these things. If we accept a lower expectation on progress – making national things last and not renewing them or improving with bypasses new rail networks and roads, for example, then the basics on which we depend for every-day living can be funded properly until they have caught up with demand. The motorist, for one, will get fed up with queues and travel less, and chaotic airports will restrict travel options. This might help the planet a little.

Life has always been a challenge Vynor, and it will continue inexorably, to either test and make demands on us, or stimulate, inspire, excite and provide an impetus to spur us on, in whichever way you perceive it.

The current situation has evolved from a long period of over indulgent consumer spending, chemical and plastic pollution, food waste and appliance disposal, which could not continue indefinitely and unabated. Something had to give in order to save the planet and ourselves from our own destruction and annihilation.

In order to restore equilibrium, the highs of recent years will be replaced by a low period, bringing hardship for the less financially well off, the vulnerable, and those who have omitted to save enough to sustain them for the inevitability of what was to come. Government handouts will afford more power to them as we become more reliant upon them in order to make ends meet.

Time perhaps to support those vulnerable nearest and dearest who struggle to survive on benefits, or those who, through no fault of their own, may have fallen on hard times?

“Every household in the UK is to get an energy bill discount of £400 this October as part of a package of new measures to tackle soaring prices.

The poorest households will also get a payment of £650 to help with the cost of living, Chancellor Rishi Sunak said.” https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-61583651

This replaces the £200 loan that was criticised by some of us on Conversation. It looks as if pensioner households will receive an additional £300.

Unfortunately this will help those who don’t really need help.

It’s good to know the £400 will not be required to be paid back. I like to think the recent petition had some influence on Mr Sunaks decision, even though the 100,00 target number votes is unlikely to be met.

I recently watched a select committee recording with failed energy company’s CEO’s and was quite shocked at the amount of profit some of them were making, and the annual amount they were paying themselves.

The problem I see is the targeting of this help. It seems to go to many who do not need it. Universal Credit should identify those who are most needy, but they may not all have to pay energy bills, the main cause of increased spending. Pensioners? Many are very well off. So just how should the money be best targeted?

Talking of a windfall tax, the government has seen a bit of a windfall itself. The increase in petrol, diesel, electricity and gas prices gives them an increased tax take from all of us through vat. I estimate that at around £5 billion. So we are getting that back plus the contribution from the oil, gas and electricity suppliers.

Unselective taxes are always a controversial point because they widen the inequality gap. The energy bill discount will not relieve poverty and financial hardship because it will not fully compensate for the bigger energy bills. I think using the Universal Credit mechanism might have been a fairer way of helping those in most need as the assessments of means and needs already exist. This doesn’t have the voter appeal of a big cash transfer to every household, of course.

There is talk of the new handouts announced today requiring a funding package of £15 bn to be found from a combination of additional borrowing and a 25% “temporary targeted energy profits levy” on gas and oil producing companies, but I have been wondering how much new money will actually be required.

Income Tax allowance thresholds have been pegged for some time now and, with the natural upwards drift in pay, many people have been drawn into a higher taxation bracket generating ‘windfall’ tax revenues.

With the rising price of those consumer goods and services that are not exempt from VAT or zero rated, the VAT yield from like-for-like consumption levels is advancing progressively.

The 10+% hike in National Insurance payments [1.25 percentage points — up from 12% to 13.25%] will pull in an extra £12 bn a year for health and social care [although it will initially take a high proportion of that out of the economy]. The nett result overall is unknown as some of the money will eventually go back into the economy through wages and procurement and thus generate more Income Tax and VAT.

Inheritance Tax and Stamp Duty Land Tax revenues are rising strongly as property values keep going up. Capital Gains Tax will probably follow a similar path.

Unemployment is at an historically low level so pay-outs on dole and benefits are falling while Income Tax revenue is increasing through higher numbers of people in work and many people working longer hours.

Road Fuel Duty receipts are increasing due to the rising pump prices of petrol and diesel and the return of vehicle mileage to pre-pandemic levels. Electric vehicles contribute 5% in VAT on energy prices partially offsetting the loss of Road Fuel Duty due to the transition from internal combustion engines.

Insurance Premium Tax is another inflation-linked source of revenue that just keeps on growing and liquor, tobacco, and betting duties are also fairly progressive in their yields.

It is a sad and unfortunate fact that, due to the excess mortality levels during the pandemic, there are around 150,000 fewer people alive now than two years ago, a large proportion of whom were recipients of pensions and benefits and/or would have been needing health and social care in the future.

As Malcolm says, this is an unacknowledged windfall for the Exchequer.

I also sometimes wonder where all this tax revenue goes in the UK compared with other countries. We seem to have a bloated bureaucracy and we pay a high price for our democratic processes, law and order services, and various other ‘establishment’ functions without gaining a commensurate benefit in the quality and delivery of public services.

I also am glad that the loan element of the previously announced energy bill discount has been scrapped. I think it would have been an administrative nightmare stretching out over years ahead. It was the only sensible decision in the circumstances and I expect the petition did help to change the government’s mind.

It seems to me that we are now in the run-up to the next general election which could take place at the end of next year if the Parliamentary constituency boundary changes have gone through by then.