Wednesday, 31 January 2018

So, just how DO you compare chalk with cheese?

The equal pay for equal work row currently embroiling the BBC is very, very intriguing as it raises an interesting, and very important, issue – how DO you compare chalk with cheese?
I don’t mean to be flippant as people doing the same job deserve the same rewards. And this is relatively straightforward with straightforward jobs.
For example, when I started out in journalism as a junior reporter, we all earned the same weekly wage.
After two or three years training, upon reaching the heady heights of senior reporter, you all went onto the same pay - whatever your gender.
Thereafter the playing field was not quite so level as jobs basically the same paid different salaries depending on location, size of publication, what you could negotiate etc. etc.
But, in general, pay in the same organisation was equal when it was easily measurable.
The equal pay for equal work row has been simmering at the BBC for some time but only really hit the headlines when China editor Carrie Gracie resigned after discovering she received considerably less than male BBC editors in other countries.
But how do you compare the role of editor in China with editor in the USA? What measurements are being used? And which is chalk and which is cheese?
Is the male counterpart being paid too much or the female not enough?
My view is that the top salaries paid at the BBC are way too high and there should be a cap.

Flew with Jet2 for the first time this month on a quick visit to see some friends who now live in Cyprus.
What a pleasurable experience compared with another airline I may have mentioned in previous rants. In particular the customer service.
On arrival to check in both in the UK and Cyprus there were excellent Jet2 customer service reps on hand.
When we last flew Ryanair, to Berlin in September, check-in for the return journey was chaos.
Just one desk open, with no indication of which flight was being checked in, several hundred passengers for three or four flights queuing, passengers being sent to the back of the queue when reaching the desk as their flight was NOT being checked in.
It comes to something when a passenger (yes, it was me) has to act as Ryanair customer services by finding out which flight the one desk WAS checking in and then relaying this to the massed crowd to avoid people having to go to the back of the queue.
You couldn’t make it up.

Monday, 18 December 2017

Why do those who save have to subsidise the spenders?

Did you see the recent news article about better off pensioners subsidising those with no savings by several hundred pounds a week when care home fees hit?
That has prompted me to re-visit a subject close to our hearts.
I realise that some people simply cannot save huge amounts and that the so-called middle classes with assets should pay their way but there is something intrinsically unfair about the current system.
I say this because those able to save more probably earned more during their working life and therefore paid more in income tax and National Insurance.
Of course the better off should always help those less fortunate – that’s what a decent society does – but shouldn’t there be a level playing field for our elderly?
When MIL needed specialist care in 2016 (see IDGOM 97, November 2016) our family visited 21 dementia care homes (all privately run) in Suffolk. Weekly costs ranged from £690 per week to £1,420, with the average being £969.
Among them were several owned and run by Care UK. Suffolk County Council closed its 16 care homes a few years ago and struck a deal with Care UK to build several new homes in the county – on the proviso they moved the council-funded residents into the new homes at a flat rate fee of £650 a week per resident.
We were quoted £1,050 for a residential dementia room for MIL by Care UK – which meant she would be getting the same care as council-funded residents but paying £20,000 a year more.
Is that fair? Discuss.

I love the value offered by the German discount supermarkets. Shopping in Aldi or Lidl can save you a packet compared with the Tesco, Sainsburys, ASDA and, in particular, Waitrose of the UK food chain.
But boy oh boy do you need the patience of Job when it comes to checkout in these Germanic outlets.
It’s like an Olympic sport, with both supermarkets wanting customers to handle their purchases four times –putting the shopping in the trolley, then emptying the trolley onto the conveyor belt, putting it all back at break-neck speed into the trolley before retiring to the front of store to pack purchases into your bags.
I have lost count of the number of times I have been told not to pack my bags at the checkout. And of the number of times I have ignored them and carried on.
My reader may be wondering why, if I don’t like the system, I continue to use Aldi and Lidl.
Because they are the Ryanair of food shopping – reasonable cost but no customer service.

Saturday, 25 November 2017

Accidents really do see me coming

I may not get out much but I do seem to attract accidents rather too easily.
I hadn’t really thought about it until SWMBO commented, after my most recent mishap, that I am “accident prone”.
Initially I was upset and even a little disappointed. Me, accident prone? Never. But that got me thinking. Have I really had THAT many accidents over the years?
Sure, I did almost slice my thumb off whilst sharpening the carving knife with a steel (remember them?) one Christmas day.
And I really did poke my fingers into a light socket when an outdoor blub blew one balmy day. I was just trying to get the rest of the shattered bulb out. OK, maybe I should have turned the power off.
Then there was the panic at a family barbeque. Loads of hungry, expectant diners waiting for me to produce a feast of charred remains. Coals not ready? No problem, I thought. A quick squirt of some of that liquid lighter fuel onto the reddish charcoal should really do the trick. Ah, the smell of burnt hair. It took months for the heavily singed follicles to grow back on my arm.
What about the time I was putting something back into a very high built-in cupboard in the living room? It required the step ladder. Now I’m a professional so I checked the little yellow lock tabs to ensure the ladder was stable.
First box passed to me by SWMBO was safely deposited in the cupboard. I don’t fully remember what happened with the second box, other than I can report how painful it is to land on the wooden arm of an armchair from a fairly great height. Took the wind out of my sails, somewhat.
What was at the time the most painful mishap happened while I was cleaning my office at home. I’d hoovered (other brands of vacuum cleaner are available) the industrial carpet to within an inch of its life and, rather sensibly, I thought, I unplugged the beast while I continued with a little light dusting.
Unfortunately I left the lead and plug on the floor and while reaching up to dust the top of my framed 25 yard breaststroke certificate from Harlow swimming pool circa. 1965 my foot slipped out of my flip flop – and plunged down onto the three-pin plug.
Although now there were only two pins visible as the third was embedded into my heel. Fortunately my car knew the way to A&E.
Anyway, enough of historical events. What happened recently, you are wondering, to make SWMBO make the stinging “accident prone” comment?
Let’s just say a hefty club hammer and a sweaty hand do not good bedfellows make. But the good news is that the wound on my shin has healed nicely (thank you for asking).
And I wonder why I am now greeted by name at the local A&E. Got a season ticket, me.