Friday, 2 September 2016
Stone me, what a life . . . .
Well I haven’t been sat with my thumb up my bum and my mind in neutral, see? Between short periods of DIY and longer periods of waiting for my hands to recover, I’ve ploughed on with clearing the odds and sods of jobs which have been hanging around like the smell from yesterday’s kippers. O.K., most of this has involved basing or rebasing, but it all counts.
First off is good old Henry Bard's regiment rebased for 'Baroque'. Nothing startling, but it gives a decent enough impression of a pike and shot foot unit uinder these rules.
The two mounted ECW bases are command stands for the Royalist horse which are just flights of fancy. As usual I’ll have more command stands than anyone would need for an army ten times the size of the one(s) planned, but I do have a hang up about this and it’s caused by the almost total lack of command figures in the ‘60s and ‘70s. There’s a similar case to explain the half hundredweight of flags and standards I’ve squirrelled away.
Anyway, the figures all mainly Perry, but the dramatic cavalry general is really the Gustavus Adolfus figure from Warlord. I’ve no idea where the dog came from though.
Oh, and a couple of casualty stands: figures from Perry and bases from Warbases.
The next batch are those ‘Boki’ figures I mentioned a while ago. There are actually a couple more than this, but I couldn’t find them when I came to do the basing. It’s the cost of continually moving stuff around.
Nipped to London for the few days in early August and had a great time, despite a mad rush around museums and such with Young Henry. However, a quick note on Jamie Oliver’s Italian place near Covent Garden:
· Poor disabled access as far as I could make out.
· We were shown down three flights of steep stairs to our ‘table’ which consisted of a couple of salvaged office desks surrounded by an assortment of chairs obviously rescued from a junk shop.
· They’ve saved a fortune on decoration. Eating in a cellar had a certain ‘Berlin 1945’ feel to it.
· The service was absolutely average as was the food which certainly wasn’t reflected in the ambitious prices.
Back home, and on an adventure following one of Chris’ craft things, we ended up in a place called ‘Street Food’. The staff were nice enough people (one was great company and should’ve joined us!), but they weren’t very good at their jobs – the service was borderline bloody awful and that’s allowing for the deafening music and the faulty fire alarm. Asking if everything was alright seven or eight times didn’t really compensate. It was all very cutting edge, but I’ve never eaten from a seedling box before. I had a Korean thing and joked that I’ve never eaten dog before; now I think I may have. The prices were stratospheric. If you’ve got one of these places near you, give it a swerve.
Please note that we do other things than just eat . . . .
On the day when the EU decided to tell Ireland how to manage its own tax gathering arrangements with Apple, I thought another scheme might show how other foreign companies manoeuvre without 'special arrangements' and still manage to pay a host government no tax, its staff the minimum wage and its CEO millions ($8million bonus last year). This is a combined heads up and a bit of a shave off about corporate greed, a version of which I posted on good old FB.
A couple of days ago we had the annual "we're putting our prices up" email from Vagina Media - let's be honest and just say Liberty Global. It's not a massive amount, but their attitude stinks and their driver is pure rapacity. To be fair, they're going to enhance our package to include things we don't use, things we don't want and things we haven't got access to, so it's obviously not all bad.
I gave 'em a quick ring and pointed out that my bill was set to increase by 8% but my income isn’t, so that seems a bit unfair. Now, to be honest, the chap I spoke to seemed to be a pretty decent sort and it was clear he was a bit uncomfortable with the overall situation. He must’ve had plenty of calls like this already. He pointed out that our existing package was going to be enhanced and reeled off a list of the new benefits. All well and good, but nothing to my advantage. I almost felt ungrateful when I told him I wasn’t affected by them:
· the new programme listings were full of American crap covering very similar topics to those they already pump out and even things already available on other channels;
· we’ve improved the TV packages to allow viewers to experience the benefits of watching box sets and record on demand and catch up programmes. - See above;
· our broadband is going up to a billion megahertz per nanosecond with afterburners. - The broad band upgrade is the same upgrade you’d boasted about last year and was inflicted on unsuspecting subscribers for free;
· what about the sport? - We don’t have the sport channels;
· what about the ungraded Vagina Movies? - They’re not free, we still have to pay for them;
· maintenance is free; Sky charge £65 per call out. - You’ve only been round here a couple of times in the last five years or so and that was for planned maintenance. And it’d be nice if the last engineer made a return visit to replace the access cover he left hanging off the wall.
In the end, the poor lad could only advise that, as I couldn't reduce the service any further, I could always bugger off; which is easier said than done as other ISPs round here are borderline garbage and comms packages likewise (can you hear this BT?). Of course, we could opt for Sky, but do I really want to support The Dodgy Digger? No I bloody well don’t!
So, as UK inflation has just topped 2.7% and the interest rate is a massive quarter of a percent, I realised that Liberty Global might be struggling so I had a shufty at their balance sheet. No they're not. They're raking in a modest $17 billion a year from their European Division alone and their debts and operating costs are relatively modest which allows them to hoover up any spare cash and buy another company. Cleverly though, they use Vagina Media's old debts to avoid paying us any tax and funnel lots of cash through Malta. Their annual report includes this gem:
"Since the formation of Liberty Global over ten years ago, we have delivered 42 straight quarters of growth in subscribers, revenue and operating cash flow. Looking ahead, we see ample opportunity to deliver even better results as we embark on our new growth and transformation plan called Liberty GO, which is expected to accelerate our revenue and operating cash flow growth over the next three years."