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10 November 2009

New Blog

I now have a blog on my web site. It taken me a long time to work out how to do it but I think I've finally got it working. All I need now are some bloggers. Mind you, it's mainly there so visitors to my web site can make comments and suggestions although I think I need to improve links and access as I'm not sure many people will find it. Still, it's a start.

05 November 2009

Bl**dy Royal Mail!

I'm not a fan of our postal service as one of my earlier blogs might have let on but now they have dropped to an all time low in my opinion. We have been waiting for a package from the US for over a month now. Such items normally only take 7 - 10 days max but i gusee this got held up in the postal strike. Yesterday I got a card through the door to say I owed the Royal Mail £12.56 in duty. I thought that seemed a bit steep as the product value was only about £40. I went to the sorting office to collect it today and discovered the duty was just £4.56 and the rest was a handling charged levied by the Post Office. "for what purpose?" I asked, and was told it getds levied on all international mail. "funny" I said, "I've never had to pay it before. Surely the cost of postage is the handling charge?" "Well that's what catches people out, you might think you are buying something cheap from abroad but then you have to pay import charges." Of all the cheek, this guy is now making an assumption on the contents of my package and my mentality. I glared at him which resulted in him saying "If you want to know more you'll have to phone this number" while pointing to a telephone number on the label.
I went home and phoned it. I needed to negotiate 6 different switching options before I actually managed to speak to a human who, unfortunately, was very polite and nicely spoken. it's very difficult being annoyed with someone when you really feel like taking him a cup of tea, giving him a hug and saying "There, there I'm sure it will be alright." No doubt that was why he had that job. Anyway this guy informed me that the charge was because the Royal Mail had had to pay Customs the £4.56 out of their own funds and the remaining £8 was a charge to cover that service! SERVICE, you've got to be kidding. I told him that and he at first blamed it on Customs and Excise so I politely pointed out that I was not the least bit concerned about paying the £4.56 duty and they were only doing what was right. Having realised I wasn't going to take that piece of bait he then decided to try and blame it on the banks, after all everyone wants to hang them out to dry these days don't they? Wrong again, I was not having that either, Bank charges might seem excessive in some instances but charging £12.56 for a £4.56 outlay amounts to almost 300% and I don't know any bank that outrageous. In the end all he could say is that was how things were done at the Royal Mail.
I feel like I have been fleeced. After all, it's not as if I had a choice, OK I could have refused to pay it but then the package would have been sent back and we would have lost out completely as the company who sent it would not have been liable to give us a refund on those grounds. At least if it's an upfront postal charge you know what you are paying there and then but this was a totally hidden one. the sooner another company has the right to handle small items of post in competition with the Royal Mail the better. the way things stand at present we are at their mercy and can't do a thing about it.

02 November 2009

My Hunting Rant

With the national election fast approaching the pro hunting lobbyists have been raising their voices again like a pack of baying hounds. Apparently the Conservatives have promised to over turn the ban. Great, isn’t there more important things to be fighting this election on? I happen to feel they would be the best party to get this country out of it’s current mess but I’m not in favour of over turning this particular ban. I do agree that it is a pig’s ear of the law and need refining but I see no reason to throw the baby out with the bath water. Apparently 75% of the nation agrees.

It’s not that I’m totally anti-hunting. In principle I can’t see much wrong with hunting foxes in this manner to a point. If it was just a matter of chasing foxes caught out in the open and killing them with the hounds then it is little different from any natural predator / prey hunt found in the wild. Where I draw the line is in the digging out of foxes that have gone to ground and the throwing of them to the hounds. Surely once the fox has outwitted the pack they should be left in peace. This is supposed to be a sport after all and digging them out or chasing them out with terriers is not being very sportsman like, is it?

As for the argument that the hunt is providing a service in keeping the fox number down, well that’s a total joke. Far more foxes get killed on the road by cars than any hunt could knock off. Then there are people who go out shooting them. They also take more than the hunts. The hunts response is they only take the weakest as the strongest get away. Well that might be true if they didn’t dig them out.

Foxes are very successful and adaptable animals and like any animal that is clever and successful we human tend to hate them. They are indigenous to the UK and have every right to a life just as much as we do. They pose no serious threat to our survival. Their numbers are high only because there is plenty of food available. Killing a handful of foxes only allows a better opportunity for the next generation to take their place. Foxes actually provide a very useful service as they help to keep the rabbit population down.

Persecuting the fox in the countryside has encouraged them to take up residence in out towns. The hunt can’t get them there and here they have found a much easier and wormer living. We humans are very untidy and leave scraps of food all over the place, especially around fast food joints. All the fox needs to do is to overcome its natural fear of man to get at it. Something it has done very easily. Added to that, raiding gardens of pet rabbits and chickens is easier in towns than chasing them in the open. In the countryside the fox poses little threat but in a town it can be a real pest, although personally I find them quite endearing. Hunting has helped to create this problem and can’t do anything to put it right.

So why do people hunt? Because it’s jolly good fun. There is no other sport that allows such freedom to gallop en-mass over such a variety of private land. There’s the thrill of not knowing where the hunt will take you and what obstacles you and your horse will need to negotiate. Then there is the sheer adrenaline of the chase. Added to that, many humans have a blood lust, a desire to kill. It's a remnant left over from when we were hunter gatherers and no different from the actions of our pet cats when they kill birds they don't eat. I love to ride and would love the opportunity to join in something that exhilarating provided there was no actual living quarry. None of this is ever admitted to as a reason for keeping the hunt going but it is the only true reason.

When the ban was first being brought in the hunting community said it would see hundreds of people out of work and thousands of hounds would have to be destroyed. Well none of that has happened. Hunts can still hunt by drag hunting. The hounds just follow an artificially laid scent. Hunting is now more popular than it was before. The hunt leaders say this is in support of hunting as it was but it could also be that equestrians with an aversion to killing foxes now feel free to join in the fun.

The law as it is needs improving as it is very difficult to bring a conviction if a hunt does break the ban. Hence, few cases get to court. Most laws are refined by case law but that requires cases being prosecuted in court first and then going to appeal. If cases are not being brought in the first place there cannot be any appeals so the law won’t get refined. Something needs to be sorted out here but I don’t see a need to completely throw it out just because a minority of people think it’s wrong.