Category Archives: Current Affairs

Views on current political themes

Wake up and smell the coffee – Part II

Wake up and smell the coffee – Part II

Recently I received an invitation to watch a video entitled, “Wake up and smell the coffee”. This video uses the analogy of coffee and different styles of cups to exhort us to breathe in the joys of life (the coffee) rather than pursue money, status and position (the cups). By using a variety of cups, some exquisite, (China for example), some attractive for their aesthetic qualities, (colour, design etc) and some cheap and nasty, (like those made of plastic), it purported to show that when given the choice, naturally the majority would plump for the best or most appealing. However, in the pursuit of the better things in life, we forget that those things do not define, nor change, the quality of life we live. “Sometimes by concentrating on the cups, we fail to enjoy the coffee”.

For many, this is an option they don’t have. Poverty affects every region of the world, and the latest statistics tell us 2.7 billion people are living on less than $2 a day, while a further 1.1 billion are living on $1 a day or less. These are staggering statistics, which relegates their ‘statuses’ as inconsequential.

see: http://library.thinkquest.org/05aug/00282/over_world.htm

Unfortunately, while without doubt, it is true that many in the richest nations neglect life for our quest to ‘improve’ our position those huge numbers do not have such options. ‘Coffee’ comes in many varieties, and like life, it can be both pleasant and bitter. I personally am guilty of spending $1-$2 a day on a cup of coffee without even thinking about it. ‘Life’s chances’ are like a deck of cards, in that we are given no choice in the hand we are dealt, (i.e. it’s down to luck), and while we all should strive to make the best of our situations, for those who have little hope of improvement, it’s not so much as ‘smell the coffee’ more like ‘smell the shit’

Dangerous to the last drop: A funny (but true) story of the coffee bean tree

http://www.nytimes.com/1987/12/13/magazine/sunday-observer-dangerous-to-the-last-drop.html

HMRC and picking up telephones

Having been sent a new tax coding notice from the HMRC, I thought I’d raise a query about it with the tax office. After numerous attempts, countless wasted minutes (and money), and umpteen synthetic voices asking me to press any number between one and six, I finally managed to speak to a real person. Alas, this was a smokescreen, as this person then asked me to hold, before transferring me to another person who could deal with my query. Eventually, this person answered and appeared to know who I was, partly answered my question then posed another of her own. She then advised me to phone or write to the Liverpool office. I tried to phone the Liverpool office, but again I was confronted by a barrage of more synthetic voices asking me to press any number between one and six. After playing bingo with several different numbers I managed to get through to another real person (got lucky, that’s twice in 14 calls!!) who unfortunately could not answer my question and put me on hold. After 8 minutes of ‘holding on,’ I got really steamed and hung up. This whole exercise has probably cost me the amount I was querying….but better I hung up than got a heart attack from frustration. My only salvation will be if they send me a letter requesting information, but boy will they wait for an answer…and what an answer they will get when I eventually decide to reply!!