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Mohammed Throop

Great spamming name isn’t it?

(I’ve kindly been sent some advice by this person advertising getting a million views on the website a month, or some such rubbish. Apparently I am not optimising my posts with bold and italic keywords so search engines can pick them up *yawn*)

All I need now is an Augustus Gloop spamming the blog and I’ll have a rhyming couplet.

The dreaded inbox

I am old enough to remember a time when email did not exist. I am therefore old enough to appreciate the wondrous way in which it has changed human communication. It does not seem so long ago, temping for large companies, I used to have to type out memoranda, or memos, to other staff members, print them out and pop into into the internal mail. Then one would twiddle one’s fingers for a day or so, waiting for a response via memorandum. If I think back even further I can remember jobs where the printer was known as the typewriter and there were no computers at all. In my lifetime. Amazing.

Email was mindboggling back then. The speed of it transformed working life – I used it at work long before it was available at home. Now, of course, we all go much too fast for our own good and the ease of email has meant that we are bombarded with all kinds of communication, all of the time. Too much email, a bulging inbox? Modern life. Don’t moan, it’s the way it is. But I am going to moan and there are two reasons why.

#1 The Fear

This is when you spend time away from your inbox, say a week’s annual leave. Of course, you have set up the out of office message because you are a consumate professional, but after a day or so of freedom, something starts to niggle at the back of your brain. It’s The Fear. The Fear of what’s in your inbox. Those out of office messages are fine and dandy, but they only tell the emailer at the other end that you aren’t there after they’ve already emailed you. It’s all very well them being informed that you’ll be back in the office and onto their email like a hot potato on date x or y, but if a couple of hundred of people send you emails during your week off then it’s a lot of hot potatoes to handle in one go when you get back. Just the thought of it gives me indigestion. The other side of The Fear is that some terrible news will come whilst I am away. Like I am fired, or the building has burned down, or there is an outbreak of Legionnaires disease. Not that I’m a control freak… Anyway, I have a way round this Fear. I manage the anxiety that returning to the bulging inbox provokes by checking my email whilst I’m away. I don’t often reply, because that would make a fool out of the out of office messenger, but I am still reading the mail. So much for switching off from work.

#2 The Spam

As I only take annual leave a couple of times of year The Fear doesn’t happen too often, but The Spam… every single freaking day! Of course I have a spam filter but so much of it gets through. And anyway you have to check your Spam folder because emails you want to read end up there as well. The email inbox used to contain all kinds of interesting things to read, now its like trying to find something you want in a landfill site. It’s got worse recently. Do I want to be a plumber, a gas fitter an electrician or a green energy engineer (whatever that is)? No. Do I want to sign up to diets? No. Did I ever take out PPI? No. Do I want to claim for an accident? No. This is a new one – do I want to be a Video Games Tester? No.

And so it goes on. Do I want to write a review for something I bought? No. Do I want to buy a similar thing to what I just bought? Errrr, let me think… no. Do I want to peruse today’s thousands of ‘hot deals’? Certainly not. Which brings me to the Viagra, the Viagra alternatives and the penis extensions – no, no and no!

Do I want to repair my credit with a 1000% credit card, or take out a Payday loan? No. And do I want to have laser eye surgery. You know the answer don’t you?

Oh, I nearly forgot. Do I want to install solar panels and get £17 grand for my troubles. Arrrghhhhhh.

It’s official, I have email fatigue. It was great whilst it lasted but now I hate instant communication. From now on, if you want to ask me something, send me a memo.

On the unemployment figures, cognitive dissonance and spam

One of the penalties for refusing to participate in politics is that you end up being governed by your inferiors.


David Cameron was asked about the new increase in the employment figures today at Prime Minister’s Questions. Here are some ‘facts’.

  • Today’s announced rise takes UK unemployment to 8.4% (the highest since 1996).
  • The UK has the second fastest rising rate of unemployment in Europe. The fastest is Greece.
  • The UK Employment Minister has made no commitment to getting the percentage down (the message there is that it’s not going to, and anyway it’s a price we are prepared to pay to keep shrinking the state).
  • Ed Miliband says youth unemployment is up an incredible 102% in the last year alone – the official figures are that unemployment for 16-24 year olds runs at 22.3%
  • Yet the government say the number of people in employment has increased – they say that’s the reality – check here for their ‘reality’.
  • That’s partly because more women and students are in work. And that means part-time jobs. Yes folks if you can support yourself, and your family on a part-time wage, you’ve no worries.

In Prime Minister’s Questions, David Cameron insists that youth unemployment is going down. He also said that the government takes full responsibility for unemployment and is doing it all it can to tackle it. He also says that this government’s back to work programme is better value for money than the last government’s was. Evidenced by what, I ask myself? It is at about this point in reading the PMQ transcript that I want to just shout, ‘Spamhead, Spamhead, Spamhead’ at him.

Do you know what the government have done to tackle unemployment? I can’t lay it all out right here because it would make the post too long, but let’s take it gently and start with the square window (when my blood pressure returns to normal we can look through the circle and the arch windows too…).

They axed the last government’s funding streams to support people into employment: The New Deal, The Flexible New Deal and Pathways to Work and replaced them with The Work Programme. This funding is administered for the government by private companies like Pertemps and Reed *shudders*. I will tell you why I shudder. Those companies are monolithic 1980s throwbacks of recruitment agencies that operate for profit and not for the benefit of jobseekers. Every jobseeker comes with £££ on their head.

I’m not against profit, and I’m not against value for public money, but I am against redistribution of our resources amongst companies with little experience of getting the long-term unemployed back to work, whilst simultaneously cutting out those providers that had the experience and expertise of doing exactly that. The facts are that those big companies administering the funding are casting about for the providers that were doing the work in the first place, although some will have gone to the wall already and some are struggling to survive because the funding comes with impossible strings attached.

Like, the quick turnaround some of the funding comes with. What chance do you have of getting someone with skills and experience gaps, perhaps with mental health barriers into a job in less than six months? This is the timescale for some real cases I have come across. And if you do manage that feat, what are the chances of every individual sustaining that new work for 6 months, which is when the 20% performance-related funding kicks in?

What is happening is that the organisations doing this work are, for issues of survival, prioritising those clients who are nearer ‘job-readiness’ than not. And those people won’t be the very long-term unemployed with health issues, or indeed the very young with few qualifications and little, to no, work experience.

There is a flourishing scrap heap in this country and our government is prepared to turn a blind eye to it in private, whilst shooting their mouths off in a froth of PR spin on the other sides of their faces, in public.

Reality check required people: that’s you, me, everybody! Otherwise we are lumbered with the current brass-neckery of those who tell us that whilst we see unemployment going up, in their distorted reality, all is not quite as it seems.

Confused? I am. This government should come with a cognitive dissonance warning stamped on their collective spamhead. And they should be forced to agree the interpretation of the stats with the opposition before wasting a proportion of Prime Ministers Questions on a pantomime disagreement over figures, wasting everyone’s time & money.


Tiny Temper

or the Consumer as a Cash Cow but, moo, at least twice as bovine.

I used to have anger management issues, but I’m fine now. Well more or less. It is best described as “losing it” temporarily. For any bystanders I am aware it is pretty loud and unpleasant and perhaps scary and therefore not at all desirable. So I keep a lid on it. For myself it is experienced as hot rage that makes your heart pound and your blood rush as well as the raising of volume and the flinging of things. So, it’s just as well it doesn’t happen much at all any more. An outburst, a proper outburst, is probably a quarterly occurence with mini-blips in-between.

So having worked so hard on this it does not please me when my blood starts rushing and I get all hot and want to shout on account of a letter from my car insurance company that says:

Re: Your Personal Accident Insurance Policy
Thank you for taking this out with us…

We now have pleasure in enclosing your policy documents…

As we are giving you the first 3 months FREE…the first monthly premium will be deducted automatically by Direct Debit…

I was expecting a renewal document from them anyway for the car, but not this. I have not asked for this insurance and what they have done is transferred my banking details from my car insurance onto a new document I didn’t ask for and called it a Direct Debit. So obviously I had to call them, and the way the conversation unfolded has made my blood boil, literally.

So when I have cooled down I might manage to type the rest, but before I do let me just say this.

I know I didn’t ask for this damn insurance policy because most insurance is a bloody scam and consumers are just frightened or browbeaten into paying for nefarious policies for everything from mobile phones to false teeth, all of which keeps the bloated insurance industry afloat when they are just a bunch of bandits. And you should go and cancel every policy that is not strictly necessary or required by law and see how it doesn’t affect your life and how much more money you have to use more wisely.


Cut the crap and give us your money