Monday, December 31, 2007

Bank Holiday New Years Eve

Thomson are currently trying to increase sales by campaigning for a new Bank Holiday. I don't think we need another; I just do not see the point of everyone having to take the same day off together. Indeed, some of the Bank Holidays we already have seem random to me; May day, the August Bank Holiday, the Spring Bank Holiday are completely random and don't really seem to celebrate anything. Maybe someone can enlighten me?

In any case I seem to have a hard enough time getting into my local branches as it is. I went for a walk round the local High Street to tie up some financial loose ends today, New Years Eve, as it is during my holidays and banks only seem to be open Monday to Friday 9am to 5pm. To my surprise, two of my least favourite banks were open (HSBC and Abbey), whereas two of my preferred banks closed early (Halifax at 1pm, and Nationwide at 3pm).

First Direct, a division of HSBC, have started marketing their fee-paying current accounts on quality of service rather than level of interest rates, the latter tactic being favoured by Halifax. I usually do not notice the difference but today I did. I must admit though, I still think value for money is probably more important when choosing an account.

Any thoughts?

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Happy Christmas!

The People's Republic would like to wish all its readers a happy Christmas in true West Midlands style:


We shall never get sick of that.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Calamity? Clegg New Lib Dem Leader

Nick Clegg was announced as the new leader of the Liberal Democrats today, after beating rival Chris Huhne by 500 votes. I predicted a month ago the contest would be close but alas, I still lost money on the betting markets, mainly due to the fact that I initially backed Steve Webb at 16/1 after finding out on the blogosphere that he had got the requisite 17 nominations, but he later decided not to run. For what it is worth, I think Huhne was the better option.

I have two strategies when it comes to betting. The first is no matter what the odds, make sure you back the winner. The second is to have a punt on what you think is the value bet. The problem with the first strategy is that you do not always know who the winner will be, but you are guaranteed to win money if you pick it. The problem with the second strategy is that you will lose possibly as many bets as you will win, but in the long run you should make a profit.

In future, I will have to stop mixing these strategies.

Sunday, December 16, 2007


Footballers have never been renowned for being that bright but this week saw an above average barrage idiotic comments from the players and managers of the national game. It started with the appointment of an Italian coach to manage the England football team, which really ruffled the feathers of the useless English coaches that clog up the game and have not won a Premiership trophy, let alone a Champions League trophy, between them. Paul Ince was the pick of the English guys with:

"We have got enough managers in England who could do just as good a job."

They do the job so well in fact that none of the top four clubs in the country have an English manager, and you would have to go back to Roy Evans and Glenn Hoddle nearly ten years ago to find a time when they did.

Our Scottish cousins then got in on the act with this choice quote from David Moyes:

"I just don’t know how the Italians would take it if Sam Allardyce or Alan Curbishley got the Italian national job and took all their staff from England to work there thinking those people were better suited."

I think the Italians would be a bit miffed, not because Sam and Alan are English, but they have never won anything significant as managers. In fact, Sam is famous for getting Bolton into Europe, and Alan is famous for taking Charlton to the Premiership. Not exactly feats of an international class manager.

So what if the English manager is not English? Most of the Premiership is not either, which is probably why it is now regarded as one of the best leagues in the world, and our head of state has not been English for the best part of 1000 years. Quite frankly, I'm starting to think we should give the Prime Minister's job to a foreigner; they could not be any worse than what we have currently got, or are likely to get in the future.

Finally, Phil Neville claimed last night that Everton are always last on Match of the Day. Brummies know that it is of course Birmingham City who are always last on Match of the Day, and indeed last night, the Blues were last again despite it being Alex McLeish's home managerial debut against Reading; but the former Scotland manager taking charge at home in Birmingham is hardly going to excite the London and Manchester based BBC. Of course, Blues were always last on ITV's flagship footie programmes the Premiership, but at least they had commercial reasons for the running order. The BBC is supposed to be above market considerations and be unbiased.

Remember, it is thanks to the unique way they are funded.

Thursday, December 06, 2007

Do Not Do the Funky Gibbon

While trawling the blogosphere I cannot help noticing the amount of bloggers, particularly those aligned to the Conservative movement, who, while commenting on the case of Gillian Gibbons and the teddy bear formerly known as Mohamed, harp on about how we are so much more civilised than Sudan and how disgraceful it was for the country to treat a foreigner in that way.

Let me make it clear that I think the Sudan authorities attitude to this incident was disgraceful, and I tend to agree that the arrest was politically motivated, possibly due to Gordon Brown's criticism of the Sudan regimes inaction in Darfur. Before we start feeling self-righteous about this however, let us consider a few instances of British "justice" in regards to foreigners in our own country.

1) An innocent Brazilian is shot dead during a time of heightened political tension. At the trial of the Metropolitan Police under Health & Safety Law, the lawyer defending the Met sums up by implying he was an illegal immigrant drug addict, despite the fact that this had nothing to do with the shooting. To this day, despite the fact that shoot-to-kill was never authorised by the Metropolitan Police, the officers involved have not faced any charges. They have got away with an extra-judicial killing. Also known as murder.

2) 17 foreigners arrested since 2001 kept behind bars for around three years without trial because the government "suspected" and in some cases still suspects that they are involved in terrorism. These men were so dangerous that they were free to leave jail as long as they left Britain at the same time. Since being released in 2005, some are still under house arrest despite never having been tried.

3) Remember the plot to bomb Old Trafford? Basically a foreigner (Muslim) who had some Man United Tickets. Although I can see the value in detaining Manchester United fans for crimes against sport, we should not be doing it just because they are foreign. Also mentioned in the same article is the arrest of foreigners involved in the Ricin plot that did not involve any Ricin.

I do not want to even start on the disgraceful treatment of technically British citizens (although they are non-white and were born in a foreign country so perhaps it does not really count) over the issue of the theft of Diego Garcia.

15 days for naming a teddy bear Mohammed? Sudan has got a lot to learn before they reach British standards of injustice.