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Money is a funny thing. Some people are almost supernaturally capable of accruing it, others simply take what others earn without permission, and most of us get by with what we can get. How we spend our cash is another matter. Younger people tend to be hedonistic - there's a young lad at work who has spent his entire monthly pay cheque in two days each and every time. To be fair, he doesn't moan about the hassles of having no money like some do, but all the same time, he desperately needs some financial advice and discipline. On the other end of the scale is one guy I often talk to who wanted to propose to his girlfriend. So he went out and bought an engagement ring. Nine pounds? Don't be silly. Ninety points? Not good enough. Nine hundred pounds? Doesn't make that big statement. No, he squandered his savings, nine thousand pounds, on the ring. Happily she said yes. Given how depressed he gets by the end of a working shift maybe that's just as well. I must confess I do sometimes spend on impulse. The other day I wandered past the local pawnbroker and thought that since I had some time on my hands, why not have a browse? It's sometimes interesting what people will sell. I went over to the line of guitars hanging on the wall. One stood out immediately, a gothic metal style electric guitar with a huge price tag. I looked closer. Floyd Rose tremolo, Seymour Duncan pickups, 24 frets with gothic inlays, full locking, and a feel of quality. Oh yes. It will be mine. Right now, hey, Mr Manager, I want this..... So I have ownership of an upmarket electric guitar retailing at nearly a thousand pounds, though I got it considerably cheaper as secondhand.. At first it was horrendous to play because the action (the height of strings above the fretboard) was ridiculous. Too high and the fingers have to make clumsy, slow, and overlong movements. Too low and you get fret buzz and a nasty truncated sound. But adjust it correctly and.... Please excuse me while an adult male goes glassy eyed and rather excited by a smooth and heavyweight distorted guitar sound. Money can be so useful sometimes. Oh No, Not Scotland Again... That detestable Sturgeon woman just won't shut up. She and other Scottish Nationalists are spouting their demands for another referendum on independence. This time we had Alex Salmond, the politician who failed last time to persuade the Scots to leave the United Kingdom, claiming that the British government cannot ignore democracy. Excuse me? I seem to remember the Scots have had a referendum on independence and chose to remain within the United Kingdom. Sorry Mr Salmond, but you cannot ignore democracy. Worse still the Nationalists seem to believe that if you don't like the result of a referendum then vote again until you do. What's democratic about that? But where is Scotland going to get the money from? North Sea oil and gas revenues having vanished, the only option is to stay in the EU. Which they cannot do as part of the UK since Brexit is now enabled by parliamentary law and signed off by the Queen. As an independent country? What they don't seem to realise is that as a new country, even if they get independence before Brexit is finalised, they still have to apply for EU membership, require full consent of current members, and won't have the financial perks hard won by British politicians over the years. A colleague at work suggested the English should have a referendum to decide whether we want the Scots with us or not. I'm starting to agree with him. Get rid of those moaning minnies up north and forget them. Close the border and deport all those terrible Scottish people in our midst. I'm not the only one who has noticed that the Scots up north are the nicest people in the world whilst those living in England are just the rear end of human society, a comedian said exactly that on television. I don't really want to wish the Scottish any hardship but I confess I would take great pleasure in watching Scotland stumble.
Mrs Claims Advisor is getting a bit fed up of me. Now that unemployment has shrunk to its lowest level since 2008, I'm starting to become a cause celebre. She's already done her best to have my title removed and begin her attempt to turn me into an indentikit working class grunt. Do I not think that I should remove "Lord" from my CV? Not really. Boring old Mr Caldrail got maybe two or three views with each iteration. My last CV, as similar to the others as it is possible to get (apart from being labelled "Lord Rail") saw twenty five views last month alone. So I got paid for this fortnight. Money in my pocket? Woo hoo. Once more unto the shops, dear friends, once more... Those who did not shop this day will hold their wallets cheap... You have to admit, Shakespeare had a misquote for every purpose. How about one from The Scottish Play, dangerously close to becoming foreign literature...Who be that Unemployed Man? That question was asked by a policeman who was getting out of his patrol car parked on the other side of the street as I squeezed past an illegally parked car. From his perspective it probably looked like I was trying the doors to an expensive looking Mercedes. "Yeah, get out of here..." He called after me. It's unbelievable. My car gets vandalised regularly, finally stolen, and the Police tell me to investigate it myself. Then this constable starts looking at me like I steal cars from other people! Justice has a very sour taste in my area. I don't know what that crowd of policemen were doing outside the old hotel across the road earlier yesterday morning (I diagnose a possible crime scene), but I hope the long arm of the law reaches in the right direction this time. If they get enough practice, they might realise I'm not guilty of anything else than wearing socially unacceptable military surplus trousers. More From The Scottish Play With the referendum on Scottish Independence happening today, the news is all "Scotland Decides". Maybe the reason Mrs Claims Advisor is hustling me along is because she risks being arrested as an illegal immigrant in a weeks time? One can only hope. But what's this? Gordon Brown coming out of retirement to make a speech arguing about the need for Scotland to stay within the United Kingdom? Not only that, he sounded very passionate and shock horror he actually impressed me. That's a first. A part of me hopes Scotland will fall flat on its face if they vote for independence. Not because I want to see any hardship foisted on the Scottish, but because I don't think I could stand Alex Salmonds smugness if he wins. Not Playing Fair Having avoided arrest I wandered into the park to enjoy some peace and quiet. A pointless exercise after lunch however. The park is almost deserted in the morning but with a balmy afternoon every person unemployed since 2008 find some reason to be there, shouting loudly for no other reason than peace and quiet would leave them no distractions and so they would be forced to endure their own thoughts. Nonetheless the park is large enough to find somewhere to sit down quietly. So I found my quiet corner and sat down. There he is again! Not the policeman, I mean Sid the Squirrel. Every time I sit down on that particular park bench he appears, trotting along the path ungainly, sniffing and scratching at anything that interested him. Squirrels at top speed in the branches are wonderfully graceful. Walking slowly along the ground they somehow resemble an inebriated scotsman. Sid wandered by, minding his own business. Well, unlike some of our local residents, at least he's not stealing cars. There he is again. As I left the park to go about my business the very same policeman pulled out of the side street and coasted past in his patrol car as I waited to cross the road. Well, unlike some of our local residents, at least he's not stealing cars. Sale Of The Century At the Charity they do a roaring trade in bric-a-brac. Where does all this stuff come from? Who on Earth is buying it? I found myself a few times sat outside in the sunshine becoming quite adept at my marketplace banterm pulling in unsuspecting punters and persuading them that they need a little bric-a-brac in their lives. My sales record was beginning to rival the local expert. Some stuff doesn't get sold however. Either it's not in saleable condition, or it was merely rubbish to begin with. One item on the point of being binned was a plastic skull, looking for all the world like an albino martian (Mars Attacks!). It was so cute I couldn't resist saving it from the great recycling centre in the sky. Unfortunately I was called upon to head out on the furniture van to boldly lift where no lifting has been done before, so I had to leave Sid the Skull behind. I asked the lady on the bric-a-brac desk to look after him. So she sold Sid for 60p while I was away. Gasp! Poor old Sid. Sold into slavery when he could have a home where he would have been looked after and exercised regularly in a socially acceptable manner. There's no justice. or Maybe... Or maybe there is. This morning I received a letter from the Department of Work & Pensions admitting the error in my dole payments was theirs and I don't have to pay the money back. Neither am I being hit with a Civic Penalty Charge. Ahh yes... It's these little things that make my life worthwhile.