For a week now I have been feeling my age. My age and a bit more. The anti-inflammatory pills don't seem to have been very effective what with first a wrist not wanting to turn properly and then a knee refusing to bend as it should. At the same time, I managed to pull a muscle in my neck. Add to this occasional bursts of indigestion and you will gather that I have not been the most perfect specimen of humankind. Whether because of or as well as all this, I have been distinctly lacking in patience and tolerance. I have, in short, been a Grumpy Old Man. In an attempt to get me out of this mood, I am going to take it out on you, dear reader, with a series of rants and moans.
I think I am probably right when I say that most Englishmen are not natural bargainers when buying things. Not for us the haggling that is expected in a souk - except when trading in a car for a new one when it is taken for granted that there will be a bit of horse-trading. If I am buying something, I like to be told the price, the best price. For some reason insurance companies seem to think this a bit infra dig or something. But what really got me going this week was the attitude of a broker I have been using for some years. I am a member of the Institute of Advanced Motorists. Membership of the IAM can only be gained by passing a driving test considerably stiffer than the standard test to acquire a license. The IAM have arranged with a broking company to provide its members with motor insurance at supposedly beneficial rates. I have taken advantage of this facility for several years but when I received the renewal papers this week I was horrified to see that the premium had increased from £265 to more than £300. The paperwork indicated that the brokers had searched for the best price for me. I know the expression "caveat emptor" and fully appreciate that it applies to me but when I did a little shopping around and was quoted £262 for identical cover from another reputable insurance company I decided I was being taken for a mug. I told the broker that i had obtained a lower quote - and told him the figure. He says he will try to match that. But if he can reduce the earlier quote now, why didn't he do so first off? I have three more policies through those brokers, all due for renewal in the next three weeks or so. It will be interesting to see what happens as I shall most certainly shop around.
OK, now for minor rant number two. I don't like being described as a Brit. In fact, I don't like the word "Brit" used either as a noun or an adjective. The noun is "Briton" and the adjective "British". I find the abbreviated form objectionable. That probably puts me in a minority as, I suspect, most people don't give a monkey's. But rather than calling me British, I would really prefer to be described as English.
Which leads to rant number three. (I am doing well, aren't I?) Why should Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland have their own parliaments to decide on matters relating solely to their parts of the United Kingdom when there is no such facility for England? English Members of Parliament have no say, for example, in the Scottish education system. Why, then, should Scottish MPs be able to vote on the English one?
And lastly. Not being a film buff and not reading what might generally be described as gossip columns in the papers, I had never heard of Sean Penn until this last week. After his unnecessary comments about Britain, the Falkland Islands and our way of life in general, I would cheerfully boycott any of his films - if I ever went to the cinema. What an obnoxious little man he is.
OK, folks, I feel better now.