Wednesday, 30 December 2009

VAT and salt


Not for road use. This is food!


There was not one grain of salt on Morrisons' shelves this evening, even though today the temperature touched the friendly side of zero for the first time in at least a week. The glacier outside my house took the opportunity to melt its surface and smooth itself, ready to freeze again tonight. I think there's a postman in there. We'll find out in a thousand years or so.

I've never seen such a run on salt and it's not an unusually cold winter so far. There have been worse ones, and I don't recall any similar salt panic. It did snow last night but it was only half an inch, and there was a little flurry this afternoon that made no detectable difference. Otherwise, it's a normal winter, not too harsh and not too mild. It's cold enough to silence any local global warmers. Those who claimed we'd be growing grapes within the decade are staring into their beer and avoiding eye contact. Others have switched to quoting 'The Day After Tomorrow' as if it's some kind of documentary. Sometimes, people are so scared to be seen as gullible idiots they'll cling to whatever line they've been spun no matter what happens.

There are three possible reasons for the salt rush, as far as I can see. First, there was a time, not so long ago, when councils had memories that spanned a time greater than the date of their last expenses claim. They used to prepare for winter and stock up on rock salt. There's not so much of that any more. Councillors are stunned at the mysterious white stuff that appears every year because their little brains can't recall seeing it before. So people are buying their own salt.

Second, people are lazy selfish bastards these days, on the whole, and the idea of actually digging the snow with a shovel horrifies them. They pour loads of salt on their driveways because they're too idle to do a bit of digging. That certainly seems to be the prevailing attitude here. The pavement outside my house is the only bit that's been cleared so far (although I'm not venturing past the kerb, onto the glacier. The ice is higher than the kerb!). Nobody else has made the attempt, not even on their own paths and drives. They pour salt on the ground and drive their cars over it. In the spring I'll be chuckling at the sprouting rust-bubbles they've planted.

Third, and this is the least likely because it implies an ability to think ahead being far more prevalent in the population than I can believe - perhaps they've noticed that the Salt Police have been flexing their banning muscles lately. This weather is a good excuse to stockpile without anyone noticing. Nah, I don't think there are enough people who'd think that way. Thinking ahead is what they pay the council for, not something they'd do themselves.

I have a few kilos of salt here. I like to dip cholesterol-laden boiled eggs into it. It's far too nice to throw it on the pavements.

There's also the frenetic activity in all the shops. That mystified me for a while. Don't these people have enough stuff yet? There are always hordes of people suckered into buying stuff they don't need just because it's half price. Every January sale, they come out in droves as if someone's poked a stick into their hive. I notice they aren't January sales any more, they are Boxing Day sales now and they start before Christmas. Anyone else remember when every single shop, without exception, was closed on Christmas Day and Boxing Day and the sales actually started in January? We used to have a few days of actual relaxation back then. Even the Righteous took a day off from nagging.

This year seemed worse than usual and there is, in fact, a simple reason. On January 1st, VAT goes back up to 17.5%. I noticed this because the lab rental is in two parts - the rent itself (zero VAT) and the service charge for electricity, heating etc, which is VAT rated and is higher on the bill due in January.

So everything will be that little bit more expensive on Friday. Now that's a Day After Tomorrow everyone should pay attention to. Especially if you drive. Petrol's about to go up again.

Ah well, the saltless Morrisons didn't bother me. I wasn't there for salt. They did have a good stock of the Singleton (now one unit less) and of Bruaichladdich (one unit less) and I picked up a bottle of visitor whisky for tomorrow night, just in case. It's Grants Ale Cask reserve, which is very nice for a blend and at £11 a bottle on special offer at the moment.

This crazy holiday continues until Tuesday. Monday is a bank holiday so it'll be the middle of next week before anything sensible happens. It's irritating because all the companies I work for are closed. They're on paid leave. I'm not. The sooner the country gets back to normal, the better.

Although 'normal' is probably asking way too much.

And now it's time for food. Morrisons did have some nice fillet steak at very reasonable prices. I've eaten enough turkey and ham this week to deplete the livestock of an average farm so it's time for a change. Medium rare, I think. With mustard and chips.

And salt.

7 comments:

JuliaM said...

The Grants Sherry Cask is quite good too!

Leg-iron said...

It is, but I think the ale cask is smoother. One of the better blends.

The standard Grant's is still a bit rough though.

delcatto said...

I hope it's English mustard and not that dreadful American rubbish although a nice Dijon doesn't go amiss occasionally.

Leg-iron said...

Proper English mustard indeed. None of that American mustard-flavoured sauce here!

J. Derek said...

Bear with me here, it might be a bit long, but it is 'heartfelt' - AND I will be adding to this thread ...

It's now almost 2010 - that is - the end of the "outghties" approaches ... and I - personally - don't like what has happened to the world as I know it ...

First, a little personal background - my 'Paternal' ancestors are from N. Ireland - we are LONG lived, as a rule ! ...

My Father - and many of his friends - joined the British Army (Inniskilling Fusiliers) during the 2nd. world War ...

But - due to age - they didn't enter service until after it (Malaya \ Burma \ India & Pakistan \ Jamaica \ etc.) ...

His father was born in the 1870s - which made him too young for the Boer war and too old for the 1st. World war ...

I remember conversations with him in the late 1950s - his memories fascinated me even then - and still do today ...

Ditto the "family stories" from my Father, his older Brother and the rest of my family 'across the water' ...

Circa 100 years ago, you could go to your local Apothecary and buy as much Coco Leaf and Opium as you liked ...

Then follow it up, by taking a trip to the gun shop and buying all the weapons and ammunitions you desired ...

And crime then was NOT attributed to 'drugs' or 'guns' - only to the behaviour of Criminals ! ...

A little less than 50 years ago, I walked the streets of Glasgow every Friday night "well armed" ! ...

I was a Boy Scout (1st. Glasgow Group, A Troop, Kestrel Patrol) - we had a LOT of members ...

A 6" sheath knife fastened to my belt, a 4" folding knife in my Sporran and a small 'Skean Dubh' in my sock ...

This started from 11 years of age - neither my Parents nor my Teachers or the local Police saw it as 'wrong' ...

The only concerns that were EVER voiced, were that I should make sure that the knives were clean and sharp ...

When we went camping (usually 50+ boys) - we used hand-axes, felling-axes, adzes, logging saws, draw-knives ...

And we often played "knifey" - and no-one was ever hurt - and I did this until I was 17 years old ...

The adults there (Scout Leaders) only ensured that we used these 'tools' correctly and safely ...

When I was 14 years old, I became a 'Patrol Leader' - and WE - not the 'Adults' actually ran things ! ..

It was the "PLs" who regulated day-to-day operations, built the camps, and ensured that all were safe ...

Even - in 1967 - jumping into the freezing River Esk, to rescue a younger, boy who had been swept away ...

Know what ? - we didn't stop to consult the "safety elf" first, or even inform the Scout Leaders ...

We just did what was needed - because it was necessary - and even forget to mention it until the next day ! ...

Today, if I walk the streets of the UK (or Norway) with a small Swiss Army Knife in my pocket ? ...

I'm a Criminal !!! - but, neither my Moral nor Ethical standards have changed - only the Law has ...

Whatever happened to "Personal Principles" and Responsibility ? - where did Common Sense and respect for others go to ? ...

JUST WHAT HAS HAPPENED TO THE WORLD ??? ...

Captain Ranty said...

Leggy,

Your glacier has reached my wee village. I just went to pick up my wife. She gently slid around a slight bend and slammed into a young chaps car. His rear end was destroyed as was her front end. What the fuck do they make cars out of these days?

Called the cops to report the bump, they cared not a fig, nor were they surprised. "There isn't a grain of salt left in the country", they said. "The roads are like skating rinks. Unless someone died or got injured, we don't want to know. Go away and leave us in peace. We have donuts to attend to".

The short story is that I now have to massively reduce my alcohol intake as I defaulted to designated driver.

I am turgid with anticipation.

Best wishes for 2010. We WILL hook up for that pint one of these days, old son.

Slainte,

CR.

BTW, the young lad whose car my wife hit was recently registered as a sex offender. (Kiddie fiddling, apparently) AND he had only got his new car six days ago. Synchronicity, perhaps?

banned said...

The failure of many councils to keep adequate salt supplies is a result of the AWG scam. Any council worker advocating bigging up the salt stocks would be instantly branded a "Climate Calamity Denier" and hounded out of his job alongside the racists, elitists and misogynists previously exposed.

Met Office now offering a 45% probablity of a "cold" winter, on Wednesday it had been 20%. They fiddled their own website by sleight of hand.

http://www.metoffice.gov.uk/weather/seasonal/2009/winter/?zoneid=79042

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