London Attack

Yesterday there was a terror attack in London, outside the Houses of Parliament, and it struck a little close to home for me, because Parliament is actually somewhere that I used to visit regularly at one point almost weekly, now that my career is ,suffice to say in the crapper, I rarely have need to leave South Wales, let alone visit Parliament, but I still have a lot of friends and colleagues who work their still, and luckily no one I know was among the dead or injured.

What does annoy me most is that the only detail about the lone terrorist released is that he was British born. No other detail was released. Yet many many people are already pointing fingers at the Muslim community, and this angers me beyond belief. I could write treatises about my anger and about the level of ignorance this belies, but I’m just going to say even if it turns out this man claimed to follow the teachings of Islam (I say claimed because no true Muslim would commit such an act), there will always be cunts in any community, but most are decent enough people just trying to get through the week. So they should not be made to suffer because one cunt doesn’t like the status quo.

The 20’s For The 21st Century

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I was watching an episode of Jeeves and Wooster earlier today, and aside from the sardonic wit and deadpan delivery of Jeeves, and the good natured ineptitude of Bertie, what I love most about the show is the fashion. The 1920’s in Britain were possibly the high point of the 20th century fashion wise (in the upper middle and upper classes at any rate).

Here are some of the things I loved most fashion wise from the 20’s:

Double Breasted Waistcoats: 

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Double breasted waistcoats are just so much more elegant than single breasted, from my own experience, there is less obvious straining against the buttons if you’ve had a big lunch and the symmetry actually serves to make you look a little slimmer, not to mention the cut of the waistcoat itself compliments the look of the outfit by blending into the trousers rather than leaving a little visible shirt.

Double Breasted Suits

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In general double breasted is the way to go if you don’t seem able (or willing) to shift a bit of stomach, the cut is more flattering to the larger gentlemen, but is also warmer too, and whether worn with a waistcoat or not is always a classic look that the 1920’s were really all about, because it was the decade that a lot of long lasting trends came into existence and Double breasted suits are something that seems to fade in and out of fashion over the years, but I would much rather a decent double breasted blazer than some of this slim fit crap that people try to pass off as suits these day’s.

Black Tie

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Black tie is one of those things that has never gone out of fashion, and while it was around before the 1920’s it really took off in Britain in the 1920’s replacing the more formal white tie and tails black tie is something that hasn’t really changed much in the last 100 years, collars and lapel sizes shapes change all the time and the old argument of waistcoat or cummerbund still rages on, but its essence is still the height of chic in menswear (even if the jacket and tie are velvet).

Walking Sticks/ Canes

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I sometimes carry a cane, especially if my gout is playing up, the one I use has a bronze handle, and the amount of comments I get about it are unbelievable, from asking if there’s a sword concealed within to the more personal whether I actually need it (the answer is I have a cane because I need a cane, I have that particular cane because it looks bad ass).  But for the 1920’s a great deal of men about town of my age and social standing would carry a walking stick during the day, and then have a more formal one for once they’d dressed for dinner.

White Tie 

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Although it was starting to be phased out during the 20’s for the less formal, more comfortable black tie, white tie was for the most formal occasions, and rarely exists to this day (I’ve been to one white tie event in my life) its for things like sate banquets, and formal halls and the most strict universities and is often shown on things such as Downton Abbey, and its one of those things that I hope makes a comeback.

Hats

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I like how (certain) hats look, but I cant seem to pull off any hat, and lord knows I’ve tried. But in the 1920’s every one seemed to wear hats while they were out and about, from flat cap and straw boater, to fedora and top hat, hats were well represented by men of every class. And men of all classes knew to take them off when going indoors, it really annoys me seeing people wearing hats indoors, especially baseball caps, I don’t know whats worse, the lack of manners or lack of fashion sense.

Dressing For Travel 

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This one seems like such a simple thing, but whether its because travel has become quicker and easier or just because the novelty has worn off, but people don’t dress to travel anymore, in the 20’s for a member of the lower classes to travel was a big deal, so they would dress to impress, but the upper classes, especially men would wear something that would travel well, but it wouldn’t matter so much if they go a little bit of the road on it. so something like a tweed suit would be rather practical, especially if travelling by train.

So those are some of my favourite fashion trends of the 1920’s I would like to see quite a few of them make a comeback if you couldn’t tell. Anyway I hope you found this little guide informative, or at the very least have found it entertaining.

U-Turns On NI

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A little over a week ago the Chancellor of The Exchequer Phillip Hammond announced in his spring budget that he would increase Class 4 National Insurance Contributions from the self employed from 9% to 10% in April 2018, and to 11% in 2019, to bring it closer to the 12% currently paid by employees. This is a move that pissed off, not just the main opposition parties in Westminster, but the core demographic of Conservative voters.

In the United Kingdom, National Insurance (NI) is a system of taxes paid by workers and employers, used primarily to fund state benefits. So you can see why the low tax pro business party might have one or two problems with self starting business owners paying higher taxes, especially when we’ve had to endure seven long years of austerity measures whilst being told that its impossible to tax oneself into prosperity.

However its a moot point because a week later the poor Chancellor was dragged back out to say that on reflection (ie mounting pressure from his own parties supporters) that he would be scrapping the policy and looking to make capital increases elsewhere.

It just seems odd to me that the government would even dare float such a policy, because it would seriously piss off their core base of voters. And then it hit me, that they can actually get away with putting in place policies that a really unpopular,  and that’s because the opposition is in such disarray. Jeremy Corbyn has no control over his MP’s, most of whom are in open rebellion against him, and those who are loyal to him are about as effective as trying to cure a  migraine with an ice pick.

So thinking they could get away with it may be why they announced it, but whats the reasoning behind the idea? It’s pretty sound logic to be fair and is doing the one thing that the Tories have been criticised for not doing for as long as I can remember. And that’s addressing a tax dodge. It isn’t closing the gap on non-doms or foreign registered businesses, and again will only hit the low income self employed, but nevertheless it is a tax dodge and its a little convoluted so stay with me.

Step One

When setting up your own business you register it as a limited liability company with companies house, thus making your company a thing independent of you.

Step Two

You register as the businesses sole shareholder

Step Three 

You sign an employment contract with your company agreeing to pay yourself minimum wage (or some suitably low wage) for which you will only pay national insurance (and a minute amount of employment tax)

Step Four 

You work your arse off and the business starts doing well making profit, say £100,000 a year, if you had taken this as a wage you would take home £65,467, but by taking it as a shareholder profit you would take home £78, 842 (after paying tax and national insurance on your “wage” and after paying your corporation tax).

The national insurance you would pay in this scenario would only £1,128 for the year, so you see why the government would be anxious to maybe claw a little bit extra back. But alas no, because Conservative voters tend to get a little pissy when taxes go up and the government starts messing with the way they do business.

 

Comic Review: Rat Queens Sass and Sorcery

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I’ve had this on my shelf for about a year and I hadn’t got around to reading it until yesterday. I don’t know why but I’ve been on a fantasy/ sword and sorcery binge for the past few weeks, probably brought about by my 500th rewatch of the the Lord Of The Rings films. So after wading through the harry potter franchise and not really wanting to start something that would take me another week to get through, I picked up my copy of Rat Queens Volume 1: Sass and Sorcery.

The story follows the eponymous Rat Queens, a mercenary band made up of magic wielding elf Hannah, the hipster dwarf Violet who unironically shaves her beard,  the hippie halfling thief Betty, whose idea of a good meal is a big bag of drugs and candy and the agnostic cleric Dee, whose parents happen to be Lovecraftian monster cultists.

Like most mercenary groups, they like to drink and have a good time, and if you expect this not to lead to violence and sex, then that’s a little sexist of you. The story opens with the residents of the Rat Queens home town becoming sick and tired of mercenary bands of the cities continually brawling and endangering the town. So the residents set up a plan to send the various mercenary groups on missions which will end in their deaths. The Rat Queens survive and then set about to find who wants them dead.

Its a story which is pretty simple, but the way its written makes it a good one. Basically is a story that relies on the banter, that back and forth between friends, that in many cases is actually borderline abuse, I mean my closest friendships are defined by how well we can insult each other.

The art (by Roc Upchurch) is a little on the cartoony side, but that actually works quite well as it kind of shows that this is a book that doesn’t take itself too seriously and is a little parody like whilst being its own thing at the same time, in much the same way that Terry Pratchett did with the Discworld Series (a higher praise I could not give).

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It is cool the way that it subverts the traditional fantasy tropes and makes these young women act in a way that would seem perfectly normal if it were Conan or Kull and its about time that someone did it. There are a couple of LGB issues that the book features, mainly how difficult playing the game can be for an inter species lesbian couple. Casual drug use crops up. And so do issues of racial (or species?) and religious identity.

It is a good read, and when I have a little cash (so it’ll probably be a while)  I will pick up the next two volumes of Mr Kurtis J. Wiebe’s series.

 

Book Review: Harry Potter And The Cursed Child

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Until about a week ago I had never read any of JK Rowlings  Harry Potter books, I’d seen the films, but I had never bothered with the books. I don’t really know what spurned me on to pick up the entire series but I did, and in less than a week I had managed to read all seven novels which I thoroughly enjoyed, there is such a depth that you don’t get with the films and it really expands the whole mythos of the Boy Who Lived. So after I put down my copy of the Harry Potter And The Deathly Hallows, I almost immediately picked up my new copy of Harry Potter and the Cursed Child (pausing only to refresh my drink).

Straight up I have to say it isn’t a novel its a script. Many other reviewers (especially on amazon) seem to not understand that its a script for a play not, a novel. Being a script does mean a few things however, firstly, that you lack the depth of a novel, not that the script is lacking in depth of character, but just that you could tell that were it a novel it would be a lot longer, which brings me to the second point, that I managed to get through the thing in about three hours, again this is down to it being a script, not a novel.

So the story starts nineteen years after the battle of Hogwarts and the death of He Who Must Not Be Named, and focuses on the unlikely duo of Harry Potters second son Albus and his best friend, Draco Malfoy’s son, Scorpius. Both kids are misfits who are both haunted by the legacies of their fathers, and both are content to just sit back and coast through school with their heads down. For Albus Hogwarts is not the magical place that feels like home that it was for his father, its a cold and unforgiving environment where his actions will always be judged on his fathers.

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Its really a story about children trying to gain the love of their fathers and that pretty much is what sets this whole story into motion, is that Albus and Scorpius are trying to pay for the sins of their fathers. Its an interesting story about why the past should really be laid to rest, and shows that those that don’t learn from history are doomed to relive it over and over again.

The writing is a little hard to gauge, mainly because its a screenplay, but there are parts where it feels like its bad fan fiction rather than official canon, especially as it seems that everybody in Harry Potter world is married to the person they were dating in high school, (a horrific thought if applied to the real world), but other parts do feel as though J.K Rowling had a hand in them, for instance the main positions of power (Minister of Magic and Hogwarts Head) being filled by female characters.

Whilst it isn’t a patch on the original novels it is an enjoyable enough read and a nice revisitation  to the world of Hogwarts and the Ministry Of Magic, but I wouldn’t hold my breath for a film adaptation any time soon, but if you do have a hour of three to kill why not give it ago, if only to see how some of your favourite characters age.

Update

I’m still trying to blog from my phone, and as advanced a piece of machinery as it is, its still frustratingly slow and loathsome work.

I’ve sent much of the last few days with an ill child, whilst slowly succumbing to the cold myself, it has been nice in other respects though, I’ve managed to get a lot of reading done, I’ve read all the Harry Potter novels and J.R.R Tolkien’s Book of Lost Tales.

But I think my most amazing accomplishment during a week of doing very little is that I went food shopping. I have a few things I need to get a move on with for later in the week, so don’t expect the usual level of wit and pithy insights in the blogs for the rest of the week.