When you see businesses being criticised for not being prepared for Brexit, this is why some of us are not prepared for Brexit

29 Mar

As someone surrounded by folk who run small businesses and are involved in exporting – this is perhaps one of the least ‘funny’ blogs to appear here. Thanks to Liz Dexter for flagging this up…

LibroEditing proofreading, editing, transcription, localisation

So having had lots of emails telling me how to export goods to the EU in the event of a no-deal Brexit, I tried once again to find out what happens to tax arrangements for people who export services. I’m by no means the only UK person in this situation. Please note I do not expect them to have all the answers, however it would be nice to know if this issue has been discussed, what to do if there’s no deal, etc. I think I am right to want to know how to conduct my business after Brexit, especially given the government, etc. reports detailing the horror of companies NOT being prepared! (Financial Times reports, for example)

Here is my somewhat Kafkaesque conversation over live chat with a representative of HMRC (I checked and it is OK to share this, see below).

[Note, I seem rude to start…

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Public Libraries: As Good Today As They Have Ever Been

10 Oct

Source: Public Libraries: As Good Today As They Have Ever Been

Public Libraries: As Good Today As They Have Ever Been

10 Oct

The perfect complement to my meanderings last night at Dukinfield Library – as we celebrate Library Week. Stuart – the best n’brightest autie writer in the UK – grew up a stone’s throw from me. It was wonderful to have him chipping in with the exact dates of my own municipal memories – and even more fabulous to read that he feels the same way as I do;
Libraries are needed more than ever.
The perfect community base for Entertainment and Learning; ‘story-telling’ being the common theme.
And a hearty thanks to all parents who force their kids into these buildings. *It could be the best thing that you EVER do, folks…*

East of the M60

For National Libraries Week, East of the M60 looks at why public libraries have an important role in the 21st century

Dukinfield Library, Concord Way, DukinfieldThe first love for many bibliophiles: your local library, such as Dukinfield Library on Concord Way, which opened in November 1984.

Thank goodness for public libraries. With a parent or primary school teacher, they have helped ten of millions of Britons (or billions around the world) to get hooked on reading. Some, like this gentleman, have chosen the TV Times or the Manchester Evening News as their gateway drug (prior to borrowing their first book). Each day, many people call in for their literary fix. They come back for more every three weeks, sometimes carrying up to twelve items with them.

Whether Jackie Collins, Lewis Carroll or O.S. Nock, they can get sucked into a world of uncharted lands, plot lines, or travel back in time. Its mind altering…

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An Event – 29 October

5 Oct

Sharing a stage with two, scarily talented authors. In one of the most beautiful purchasing outlets this side of the Pennines. Come hear us at The Gallery, Slaithwaite on 29th Oct. Dark Woods Coffee and Cake? Or course.

Tim's Blog

Some news hot off the press about an exciting event coming up at the end of the month!  On Sunday 29 October, from 2 to 4pm I’m going to be doing a reading event with two other authors, at The Gallery in Slaithwaite.

I’ll be reading excerpts from Revolution Day and talking about the inspiration for the book. Sharing the limelight will Christina Longden, author of Mind Games and Ministers and A Cuckoo in the Chocolate, romantic comedies with a political and satirical edge (and a friend from Holmfirth Writers Group); and fellow Crooked Cat author Angela Wren whose crime novels Messandriere and Merle are set in France (Angela has visited this blog a couple of times).  So there will be a good mix of fiction – politics, intrigue, crime and romance – with some synergies between the different books.  You can find out more about Chris and Angela via the links at the bottom of this…

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In a New Country Now

9 Jun

On the morning of the the General Election results of 2017, one of my favourite comedians, Mark Steel, declared “We’re in a new country now.”

You can’t help but agree with him. Political awareness and interest has (finally) been pricked here and I take my hat off to the young people of the UK who quickly cottoned onto the fact that their future is now being decided for them and that they can make all of the difference.

But whatever your political leanings on the domestic front and however you think that the terror attacks (at home and overseas) can best be dealt with, one thing is for certain – the UK is entering a new phase of political energy (yesterday the fella on the chicken counter at Morrisons was waxing lyrical about the Constituency Labour Party and believe me, you wouldn’t have had that 2 years ago. You’d have been lucky to get have received some advice on your giblets.)

The week also provoked some stimulating conversation in our household;

9 yr old boy; That election was brilliant! When’s the next one? Can I have one near my birthday?

12 yr old girl; (To me) Honestly! He’s such a dimwit. He thinks we have them all the time.Like, every year!

9 yr old; Oh. But we only just had that one about the Brexit. And there was that David Cameron who I remember. And then Trump the Man With the Dead Cat on his Head. And then Huddersfield Town won the Premiership too.

12 yr old; Look you – you div (gestures at brother, tapping side of head) You’re too young to remember much. And we didn’t *win* the Premiership. We just got into it.  But … but when *I* was growing up, we had elections only ever 4 years. You don’t know what it’s like, you little kids. And for some reason you see to think that Trump has something to do with our country, too!

Politics for the 9 yr old in Huddersfield. Round and round and round and…

9 yr old:  Oh. I just thought it was supposed to go on and on and round and round.

12 yr old: No. We’re living in extraordinary times. But it’s going to be, like, really really hillarious at school when they call another General Election and we have to do another mock one at school. I still don’t think that anyone is speaking to the teacher who had to act as the UKIP candidate, when none of us kids would do that one.

9 yr old: I bet even his own children don’t like him now.

12 yr old: Don’t feel sorry for him. He didn’t have to volunteer. Anyway … you keep on hoping for mad politics-city here in the UK, ’cause you’re gonna get it!

9 yr old: I hope so.  But I did like the olden days when all we did was watch CBBC and no one expected to help around the house. But I hope Jeremy Corbyn comes back to Huddersfield and stands on my foot again, when he launches his next Fannymesto.

 

Moving Funnylass

6 Mar

We have moved!

As of March 2017 – you can find the latest blogs from me, plus all of the oldies – in an all-singing, swinging n’ dancing blog that allows us to put stuff up like erm…. video, audio, horrific medical experiment and nuclear-testing trickeries… blah blah.

Head over to funnylass.com  – and make sure that you check out how to ‘Follow’.  And all of that gubbins.

(NB – if you were a subscriber to this ‘oldie blog’ – you will automatically be a subscriber to the new one. So if you didn’t subscribe previously – please check out the newbie and DO subscribe. Got lots of goodies in store for you in 2017. Watch this nasty-blue-light-screen-thingy… and tell all yer mates. Innit.)

WE HAVE MOVED! Go to funnylass.com

More Than Just The Thought (far, far more)

15 Feb

“It comes to something, when you’ve got to be told by the bloody media and Twitter or whatever – to remember to be kind to someone,” a grumbly old sod just said to me.

This person has a point. But on the other hand, for so many of us life today is super-duper fast. We ricochet along at breakneck speed, obsessing about our work/health/families/delayed train/crap bin collections and we rarely stop and think about what we can do for someone else.

So, I whole-heartedly welcome the movement called ‘Random Acts of Kindness’ (it’s Random Acts of Kindness Week actually, folks) because all of us need a nudge from time to time. And some of us were less fortunate than others, when it comes to whether this habit of stopping, looking and doing a little deed for another person, was instilled in us from an early age.

Lady in the middle to blame for helping people!

Scandal of lady in the middle to blame for helping people outside of her own family!

I don’t normally blog about my parents, but for once I will break the rule and tell you about my mum. She always did – and still does – bend over backwards in order to help anyone. She has spent her life looking out for how she can support other people. Even when she was working full-time, her life was chocca with long lists that involved visiting sick people, cooking for others, advocating and campaigning for others and taking on church-related jobs. Since her retirement she has spent weeks of her time doing all of the above, plus packing shoeboxes for the likes of Samaritan’s Purse, raising money for various causes, writing to inmates and the inevitable babysitting of annoying grandchildren (although the latter she genuinely doesn’t see as a ‘favour’ – for her an act of kindness is more about reaching out to the stranger in society.)

She isn’t some sort of busybody. She doesn’t go round telling everybody about what she does in terms of this endless list. If anything, she sweeps stuff under the carpet (in fact, I’ll probably be out of the Will now, for blogging about this.) But if you ask her why she feels so compelled to help others, she will just shrug and say, “Well, it’s what my mum always did. She’d do anything for anyone. She’d give anyone anything. That’s why we were always so poor. “ In the past, people have told my mother that she’s a ‘mug’ for helping others. That other folk take advantage of her good nature. And yeah, she has gone through phases where this has happened to her –  and she has been heard to say; “Right, that’s enough. I’m sick of helping others out now.” But guess what? Two days later and the most thoughtful woman that has ever been born up-north is back into the swing of things.

Perhaps a psychologist would have a field-day with her. Accuse her of finding her self-worth through the need to assist others. And sure, there is some truth in the psychological findings of the ‘glow’ effect that giving to others has on us. It isn’t *all* about simply *giving* when we are kind to others. Quite selfishly, we get a bit back ourselves and get to feel good about being a human being.  And nowt wrong with that, I say!

But for my mother, there is also a religious obligation too. She is a Christian and follows what the bible tells her; the story of the Good Samaritan, the Widow’s Mite and all of that. And in particular, the stuff about ‘not letting the left hand see what the right is giving’ – about keeping quiet in terms of your good works (which again, will be why I’ll be out of the ruddy Will now…)

All religions tend to have exactly the same principles – on giving to others who are NOT part of your nuclear family; about spending time and effort with the outcasts in society; about not judging the so-called ‘feckless’ ones – the ‘undeserving’ ones. But whilst we’re on the subject of religion, some of the most astoundingly generous and kindly hearts that I know are proudly atheist, but pro-human.

Now, the other thing that is really great about my mum, is that if you get her onto this subject, she’ll always start on a diatribe about Thatcherism and what the ‘Me and Mine Only’ philosophy has done to our society; i.e. produced the very real need for an artificial construction called ‘Random Acts of Kindness.’ As though we have suddenly lost the ability to spontaneously GIVE. And even with my own upbringing, I often find myself facing the other school governors/volunteer librarians/charity shop workers/befrienders and thinking to myself ‘what is wrong with you lot? You’re all completely MAD – you’re crackers! Doing all of this for free!’

This is how far selfishness and the nuclear family culture has permeated into our society.

1980's joke donor card. Thatcher visiting Mum in hospital would NOT have been an act of kindness.

1980’s joke donor card. Thatcher visiting Mum in hospital would NOT have been an act of kindness.

So, I was smiling today as I watched a journalist

from BBC 1 trying to show a random act of kindness as she handed out free train tickets to commuters. Nearly all of them  were avoiding her. Suspicious of the grinning ‘I’m being nice to you me-I-am’ look on her face. Far better I thought, to do the anonymous approach as at The Christie hospital in Manchester, where some sweet soul stuffed a load of money into a vending machine and let the family of cancer patients help themselves to free snacks.  And –  if I’m going to get all hardcore about this – I honestly don’t think that Random Acts of Kindness are enough.

I try not to blog about it (because I realise that I’ll look like a smug do-gooder) but for me, *true giving* comes from regular voluntary and charitable work. For me, it isn’t just about chucking a couple of quid into a charity collector’s bucket. And I know of far too many people suffering from depression and illness who all of a sudden have stumbled across the miracle that a bit of regular giving of time to others – to those who really need it and who exist outside of your own usual cosy set – can give to you. A proper shot in the arm; exposure to other human beings who you are doing something else for.

Not something you'd find in a Christie's vending machine. But the thought counts.

Not something you’d find in The Christie vending machine. But the thought counts.

And it’s funny isn’t it, how some acts of random kindness come from the very people who you don’t expect it to come from? At Sainsbury’s in a certain west Yorkshire town recently, I *didn’t* want my mucky old car be washed by this older lady with broken English, who was doing the rounds, up and down the car park with her squidgee thingies.   However, I took one look at her and thought; ‘you’re not that much younger than my own mum, you’re a refugee and I am not at all happy at seeing you standing in the cold and wet and doing this sort of thing.’  So, me feeling all compassionate and benevolent – I granted her permission to clean the dratted thing.

On leaving the store, my trolley was stacked high with hand and bath towels. (Look, they were on offer, okay? And as my own mum will tell you, I lack both pride and care in my approach to household linens.)  Sure enough, the lady had washed my car beautifully and then, as I was shoving the mountain of new towels into my boot, commented; “very lovely towels, nice price there!”  At this point, I began to feel really embarrassed. There was me – on a towel binge – and there was she, poor, cold, soggy and now covered in muck from my filthy vehicle.  I wanted to make a fast escape.  I handed over the money to her for the car wash and she gave me £2 back.  “You give me too much,” she said. “It not so that much.” “Oh…” I replied. “Are you sure? You’ve done a really nice job on my car …” She shook her head firmly.  “No – you need the money. You have children.” She gestured to the crap-heap that consisted of the interior of my car (superhero costumes, crisp packets, squashed flapjack etc).

And with that, I pootled away in my externally clean, but internally filthy car. To be honest, the condition of the car reflected my emotions after this rather unequal exchange with the woman. But then I remembered that she too, is permitted to practise Random Acts of Kindness.  Generosity of human spirit never should have become the currency of the affluent or those who have the time on their hands.

Dare you to leave your winnings for someone else...

Go on… I dare you to leave your winnings for someone else…

 

 

 

Flying WHOSE Flag?

3 Feb

I wouldn’t really consider myself a huge fan of national symbols. I can’t stand all of the jingoistic flag waving and ‘Ooh I’m so proud of my country me-I-am’ stuff. I tend to take the attitude of ‘accident of birth – what’s there to feel so chuffed about?’  Yes, if you ask me what I love the most about my own country of origin, I’d say ‘the hills’ and ‘our freedom to be able to think for ourselves.’

I genuinely don’t feel competitive with any other nation, superior to any other country or inferior to any other peoples (unless we start talking more on the parochial level and then I get all sniffy about the folk who live in Hebden Bridge.)

But I’m not averse to anyone feeling that they appreciate where they live and the sort of community that they dwell amongst. And I do have to confess that I enjoy seeing the white rose of Yorkshire paraded about our streets and towns (although I’m often struck with a fear of being found out … as my birth certificate clearly states that I was born just a few miles over the border in red rose land. Don’t tell anyone though.)

British Pride? Or 1981 embarrassment?

British Pride? Or 1981 embarrassment at being born in Lancashire?

And I have also been heard to say (see previous blog where I bemoaned the geography syllabus in schools today) that it truly is a shame that kids today aren’t taught as much about countries, capital cities and national symbols in the same way that we had it rammed down our throat in the past.

But this week I had to swallow my words as it was a person from the older generation who caused me to stop in my tracks and to gape in astonishment.

In search of a tacky tourist giftie for my kids, I wandered into a little shop in North Wales. After grabbing the inevitable Welsh dragon keyrings, a lady steamed ahead of me and beat me to the till. Looking to be in her early 70’s, she was smartly dressed, had a well-spoken (English) accent and had a small pile of flags in her hand. You know the sort – nylon, A4 sized, attached to a wooden stick.

“Right,” she said to the young chappie at the till. “I’ll have these. Let me just check that I’ve got them all.”

She rattled off a couple of countries and plonked each item down and then I really began to pay attention when she laid out a red and white flag and said;

“And England, of course.”

“Er, no,” replied the young man.  “That’s not England.”

“Of course it is! What do you mean?”

“It’s Switzerland – that one. See – the English flag is a big red cross all the way over it.

“Are you sure?”

“Yes. That’s definitely Switzerland. And we’ve run out of English ones.”

I mean, come on! It's the total opposite of St. George's!

Come on! It’s the total opposite of St. George’s!

“Oh, well. Never mind. I’ll get one from a petrol station or somewhere near a council estate.”  The woman continued with her final purchase, adding; “And then to finish with, we’ve got France.”

“Er, no. That’s not France.”

“Yes it is. It’s France. See – red white and blue stripes.”

“No. That’s the Netherlands.”

“Where?”

“Netherlands – you know – Holland. France has the same colours, but the stripes are vertical for France.”

“Really? Well. Can you get me a French flag then?”

“Sorry, no. We ran out of them last week.”

“Oh. Oh well. I can’t imagine I’ll be able to find one anywhere else. No one seems to be that keen on the French. Anyway, it doesn’t matter. I don’t imagine for a minute that anyone will notice that it isn’t France.”

A confused version of France?

A confused version of France?

And with that, she paid up and left the shop.  I purchased my little dragons and made eye contact with the guy behind the counter. He was shaking his head as he said to me;

“You know, these older people – you always think that they know more than we do – but they do make you wonder sometimes …”

After leaving the shop, I recounted the tale to my husband. He being a keen fan of ‘traditional geographical learning’ and being an all-round smart-arse when it comes to flags and countries, had a good old chuckle. about the flag exchange.

“It’s the Six Nations this week,” Mr Rugby-Fan informed me. “She’ll have been stocking up on them for a party or something.”

I found all of this to be deeply ironic. Because he has always tried to steer our children away from any interest in football. Telling them that  rugby is a far more skilful game than football, that the game retains a much more ethical attitude to money and celebrity and that rugby fans are more intelligent and less rowdy than footie followers.

And yet the lady flag-purchaser was either all too aware that her party guests might not be the most educated individuals – or –  that her guests would be so drunk that they wouldn’t notice that the Six Nations has become the Eight Nations and now includes those well-known rugby fixated countries of Switzerland and Holland.

 

 

Harassment? Or Hilarity.

10 Jan

An elderly chap named Gerry told me the other day; “Saw you out running, love. I beeped at you. But you didn’t notice. Blind as a bat, you are.” I gave him a look. “Just count yourself lucky,” I replied “That you didn’t get two fingers from me. Or one. Because that’s my standard response to idiots that beep me.”

The poor bloke was astonished. Not because of my propensity to crudity (he knows me too well to think otherwise) but because of how often the honking of horns happens to females when we are out running. He was genuinely shocked when I told him about this sort of thing and said; “do fellas really do that, then? I would never have thought it…”  “Yes,” I answered. “And I truly don’t understand it myself. Because when I’m out running, I’m all sweaty, no make-up and in my scruffs and I look minging.” He considered this; “Aye, you didn’t look your best lass. But even so. There’s no excuse for honking at you – even when you’re all scrubbed up. I’m shocked, I really am.”

winston

I only do what the bloke on the five pound note does…

My other half shares similar sentiments (although thankfully, he is less honest about me looking like a sweaty minger). His words are; “I’ve never, ever understood men that do that sort of thing to women. When I was younger, there was the odd time when I was in a car with a ‘friend’ who found it amusing to beep the horn at a woman. You know – the ‘lads together thing – fwooorrrr’. But it never enters my mind to do that. You see a woman you think – ‘yeah she looks nice’ but you don’t do anything about it.  You wouldn’t frighten her, that’s for sure. Or think that she might find it flattering. It’s just imbecilic behaviour.”

And I won’t even repeat the words that he uses when I tell him that plenty of fellas *on their own in a vehicle* beep at you, when you’re out running. For me, those incidents are even more disturbing and sinister.

So it was interesting to hear that according to research by England Athletics, 1 in 3 of women have encountered some sort of harassment when out running. To be honest, I’m shocked that this number isn’t higher. It has become a fact of life in our household, me returning from a run with a cob-on due to some incident involving the opposite sex, a vehicle and someone who has been unable to keep their gob shut or their fingers away from the horn (oo-er, missus.)

And on the back of this report, it’s been fascinating, listening to the experiences of various runners; some women  find the honking of horns to be very intimidating, some of us have had other forms of harassment and some men also report that they have encountered all sorts of abuse when out running (I myself have had peanuts lobbed at me – don’t laugh – and water squirted at me). Some guys who have encountered such incidents feel strongly that this means it isn’t a ‘gender’ issue – and I’m with them on the misery that such stupidity can result in, when all you want is a bit of fresh air and to stretch your legs. But on aggregate, we can’t really deny that it is women who are being targeted and that there is still a massive problem in society, in terms of the way that women ‘out and about’ (how dare we!) are perceived and how we are deemed to be ‘miserable bitches’ if we respond with the two-fingered salute.

take-dogs

Take dogs. And poo bags.

On BBC Breakfast time, one of the women runners being interviewed said that she didn’t view shouts and beeps as intimidating or harassing. She felt that it was a sort of ‘encouragement’ – to egg her on in her leggy endeavours. Me? I’m usually pretty savvy at discriminating between a beep / leer and a ‘good speed gal!’ sort of remark. The former being a sign of a saddo perv and the latter being genuine camaraderie (which, no – I wouldn’t swear or snarl at.) And actually, if I’m going to have a bit of a moan about stupidity and rudeness towards us runners – and walkers – I’d like to add into the list, those nutter drivers who are crap at judging how close they are to you when there is no pavement, who won’t slow down as they pass you, who are happy to nudge you into a ditch or who don’t even realise that they have drenched you as they speed gleefully through a puddle in their enormous 4WD.  In fact, the only person who ever stopped and apologised to me for spraying muddy water all over me – turned out to be a drug dealer. I saw him later down the lane in his BMW, doing a deal with some school kids. (And yes, dear reader – of course I grassed him up. Course I did.)

Some feel that the answer to female runners getting hassle is never to run alone. I have many friends who have enjoyed a new lease of life thanks to initiatives such as ‘Run Together’ and Sport England’s ‘This Girl Can.’ But I just can’t DO the running with other human beings thing. I used to run with my other half, but we had to stop. Because we spent half of the time dreaming up new business ventures – and then following through with them; time consuming and expensive. And the other half moaning about the kids. Depressing.  I enjoyed being in Namibia though, because on my bush-track runs, I took a dog with me (although every time we encountered neighbouring ferocious canines, the little swine quickly abandoned me.) But I don’t have a dog. And it would be selfish just to purchase one for running purposes only. Plus, I’d have to stop in order to pick up the poo.

Running in packs is one answer to the problem, but an even more helpful response would be to educate all people to keep themselves safe when out and about (don’t get me started on how dangerous it can be, using earphones …) and raising our kids to realise that shrieking things, blaring your horn and chucking snack foods at people in the street and the like, is the behaviour of low life.

I’m not – of course – advocating that people do as I do. Making gestures at the pond-life  who do the beeping and the blurting -and worse –  really isn’t the wisest course of action. But by gum, it always makes me feel better.

Until I realise that it’s dear old Gerry who has beeped me. Or my daughter’s teacher. Yes – the latter has occurred too. Hopefully it won’t affect her end of year exam results too badly.

Hope our girls will live to see no more beeping. After all, we have Donald Trump as a President.

Hope our girls will live to see no more beeping. After all, we have Donald Trump as a President.

 

 

…And a Font-Filled New Year

31 Dec

I can’t think of a nicer way to spread cheer and to end the year than mentioning an old chum from my childhood.

Every card of Stuart's topically features our local landscape. Here's the monstrous IKEA too!

Every card of Stuart’s topically features our local landscape. This year’s features the monstrous IKEA too!

Stuart Vallantine (can tell you himself) that he hasn’t always had an easy ride in life. A few years younger than me,  this wonderful lad first presented himself to the world as a bit of an unusual wee dude. Stuart lived around the corner from me and I spent many an hour in church, trying to keep a lid on the enthusiastic little boy’s outbursts during really dull sermons. He used to hook onto something said by the minister and then start reciting adverts from the telly that used the same word or terminology. Great fun to be around – as he really annoyed old ladies who took the Old Testament just a tad bit too seriously and who failed to appreciate the nuances of British Telecom commercials.stuart-2013-xmas-card

Anyway. The merry / melancholic season just isn’t the same unless I received a hand-drawn card by Stu (no pressure there, our kid.) So I wanted to nudge you towards his story and his website.  stuart-xmas1

Stuart hardly needs more followers; he is probably the most successful, proudly autistic-blogger in the UK. But if you *do* want to find out a bit more about Stuart, his life, his artwork, his politics, Stalybridge Celtic, 70’s and 80’s pop, his writing and poetry, plus the public transport history of the Mancunian area – then please, put your feet up and check out his blog.

A previous year's - worship of waterways too.

Oh. And the ‘font’ bit? Stuart is an expert on fonts. He really is a national treasure.

So where’s his ruddy OBE then? I’m sure Stuart would have an interesting political answer for that one.

Have a great 2017 and go see https://mancunian1001.wordpress.com/

 

 

 

 

More talent in this little finger than most of that lot on the Honours List. Really!

More talent in his little finger than most of that lot on the Honours List. Really!