15 January 2017

Phew! This will have to be a quickie – not much to say and three thousand and forty-seven other things to get through today! Sorry.

We had a wonderfully delicious lunch last Sunday at the Orange Tree in Chadwick End with Nick, Lucy and Annabelle. I’m not quite sure why they invited us but it was a delight to be included.

In fact, Bubble had been unwell for most of the week and on Thursday of last week Lucy had an important meeting which she just had to attend. So, Pen happily went across to babysit. The following day we had a knock on the door and a magnificently beautiful bouquet of flowers arrived! The note indicated that they had come from Nick and Lucy and then, shortly afterwards, we received an invitation to lunch! And, delicious it was too.

I know that I have been to the Orange Tree once before but no one, apart from me, could remember. I’m guessing, therefore, that it wasn’t with Nick & Lucy but perhaps with Sallie & Rod & J following a visit to one of the several National Trust properties in the vicinity. I’m not surprised that Penelope couldn’t remember but, as my memory is equally flawed, why do I remember a previous visit? It wouldn’t have anything to do with the fact that it was a food-related occasion, would it?

When I decided to take out British nationality a few years ago I “joked” that I better do so soon as the then current government and the loony Brexiteers with their racist agenda were likely to make life increasing difficult for non-UK citizens.

Quelle surprise!

Since then there have been dozens of examples of people who have lived and worked here for years being told they were no longer welcome, especially after the vote to leave the EU. This latest example takes the biscuit – a man who was born in the UK to German parents who were living and working here (all perfectly legally) and who has lived here all his life has been told he has to take the citizenship test and apply for naturalisation or he will be expelled.

I’m advised to apply for residency in the UK – is this a bad joke? Residency in a country I was born in!

The “joke” now will be when this racist government retrospectively rescinds residency rights for anyone who cannot demonstrate fourteen generations of pure “English” blood coursing through their veins. Oops! Penny’s father was born in what was then Rhodesia of an Australian father! OMG, we’re doomed!

Nick and Lucy very kindly gave me an Amazon Echo for my birthday and so far I’ve had good fun with it. One of the things it does for me is to keep track of my To Do list – I can shout at Alexa that I need to be reminded to do something and, “Hey presto!” I get a handy e-mail reminder whenever one of the tasks I’ve mentioned is due for completion. Very handy for someone with such an appallingly poor memory.  

So, I was amused to read the story in the Guardian concerning the Echo “going rogue.”

In Dallas a six-year-old girl made the mistake of asking Alexa: “Can you play dollhouse with me and get me a dollhouse?” Alexa promptly complied by ordering a $170 (£140) KidKraft doll’s house and, for reasons known only to the virtual assistant, four pounds of sugar cookies. The snafu snowballed when a San Diego TV station reported the story, using the “wake word” Alexa. Several viewers subsequently called the station to complain that their own Alexa had woken up and ordered more doll’s houses in what turned into a thoroughly 21st-century comedy of consumer errors. And a bonanza day for KidKraft.

And finally, I’ve written many times in the past about the current and previous government’s efforts to cane those least able to fend for themselves and most in need of help and support. The government narrative is that there are hundreds of thousands of “scroungers” living the high life on the backs of decent, hard-working people. The Brexiteers fed the fire with their “post-truth” narrative that hundreds of thousands of migrants were coming to the UK so that they could live a life of luxury off the benefit system. So, the government introduced a system of benefit sanctions which operated under the basic assumption that all benefit claimants were scroungers.

The National Audit Office has now confirmed what many have been saying all along – the system actually costs more to administer than it saves.

The analysis found the Department of Work and Pensions (DWP) spent £30-50 million a year applying sanctions, and around £200 million monitoring the terms it set for job seekers.

But in 2015, it said, the measures saved just £132 million.

And, that’s partly because there is so little fraud taking place – but that doesn’t fit the narrative of the useless scrounger and foreign benefit tourists that the government, and especially the Brexiteers, would want you to believe.

Isn’t it marvellous to live in a world where the truth and evidence don’t matter?

Much love to you all,



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