ENERGY companies insist competition has never been fiercer.
So why is each of the big six putting up prices by 10% and more? If competition really is that fierce, shouldn't at least one of them buck the trend and offer energy at several per cent less than its competitors with the aim of attracting more customers? Apologies for stating the bleeding obvious.
IT is at last beginning to dawn on our dozy neighbours that there is a referendum next year which may be of some interest to them. The argument now is not whether Scotia can stand on its own twa pins but whether it should be allowed to take such a momentous decision on its own.
Among those most discombobulated, it seems, are Laybore supporters who reckon that, without Scotia, the Tory Reich could last a thousand years. There may be something in this. Having said that, there's every chance that Nigella Farrago of Ukip may be the next Pee-Em but one. What a mouthwatering prospect that is! (By the by, am I the only one who thinks it worthy of note that Mr Farrago was educated at Dulwich College, alma mater of Pee Gee Wodehouse and Raymond Chandler, the notorious simile manufacturers?)
Be that as it may, there is much speculation in Westminster and environs as to what the break-up of the UK will mean in practical terms come independence. At a stroke, for example, there will be no call for MPs in Scotland. Redundant, therefore, will be Hen Broon, the former Pee-Em, Alistair Dahling, ex-Chancellor, Dougie Alexander, Jimmy Murphy and, dare one say it, Danny Alexander who, even as I scrieve, is probably scouring the small ads in the hope of resurrecting his career in PR. I am happy to provide him - and any of the aforementioned others for that matter - with a reference should it be required.
MY old amigo Tony Benn has published what he insists will be the last volume of his diaries. Six years ago, when he was 83, he wrote that he thought he was coming to the end of his life. A paragraph later, he was banging on about the Treaty of Lisbon, the European Commission and the perfidy of Gordon Broon.
He's always getting up at five or six so he can join a picket line or appear on radio. For fun, he watches Notting Hill, which he reckons he's seen a million times. I suspect this is an exaggeration.
If it's not Kofi Annan on the phone, it's Jimmy Carter, and all the while he smokes his pipe and drinks gallons of tea. At the September 2007 Laybore Party conference he happened upon Wendy Alexander, newly installed as Scottish leader. "As soon as I saw her," he wrote, "I realised she sounded like a completely phoney Blairite … If that's the Labour leadership, then I tell you, Alex Salmond will do very well."
THE North British Times has a few pawky words on Grangemouth, the gist of which is that at least 800 employees will lose their jobs at the refinery. For every one job lost it is estimated that another six or seven in the local area may also go.
Meanwhile, the same rag has devoted five pages to the christening of a wean called George, including cut-out-and-keep pieces headed TheCrowds, The Fashion, The Prayers and The Godparents. It's good to know where its priorities lie.
A reader writes to inquire if I am obsessed with sausages. This is the kind of seemingly innocent, off-the-cuff remark which can keep a sensitive soul tossing and turning in the wee sma' hours. It's true that I do like a good sausage but I ration my consumption, my motto being moderation in all things, even sausages. I doubt if I eat more than a few pounds of them a week. I do feel, however, that we have a tendency to underestimate the gastronomic potential of this flexible comestible. For instance, you never see it featured on the likes of Masterchef, nor is it a staple on the Michelin-starred brasseries I frequent.
Elsewhere, though, the sausage is enjoying a revival, as I discovered during my daily trawl of the Wall Street Journal, Financial Times, Economist, etc. I gather that there is a company in Yorkshire - where the sausage is as revered as are deities in less enlightened parts of the world - called Heck. This came about because the motto of the Keeble family which owns it is "What the heck". Says Mrs Keeble, whose family have farmed in Boycott Country since the Norman Conquest: "We have to get people buying sausages day-in, day-out."
And they are. This year they are on course to produce 18 million sausages. This may seem a lot but it's not really when you consider that there are potentially some 60 million sausage-eaters in the UK alone. The latest Heck sausage, which I am eager to sample, is square-shaped, hence its name, Fair And Square. It's designed to fit perfectly between two slices of bread. I could say more but I fear I may have already said too much on this endlessly fascinating subject.
I await with interest the promised improvement of the Royal Mail after its sell-off. I have one selfish suggestion: extend the opening hours of parcel depots. The nearest one to me opens at 8am then closes at 10am for half-an-hour. Then it opens again until 1.40pm, whereupon it closes for the rest of the day. Consequently, one often witnesses distressing scenes of frustration, as the recipients of undelivered mail turn up at a normal business hour to find the premises locked, whereupon they have no option but to employ fruity language and bang their heads against the unyielding door.
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