Thursday, 28 March 2013

HMG Ripping Me Off!

HMG is basically withdrawing from its responsibilities. Its all about cost saving. Its all very Conservative.

But it means, for me and for my family, that here in Belgium, we have no real consular facilities.

Personally I have no problem the guys at the embassy here in Brussels, but they cannot help me any longer. If a member of the royal family turns up here, then they are standing by to spend as much of our taxes as it takes to make that person feel like a descendent of God, but if I or another real person needs some help .... different story! Wait and see what happens when we want some return on our investment!

So..... I had to renew my passport. Actually, I had to renew two passports this week.

There are no real consular facilities here in Brussels now, they have been shut down by HMG in order to save money, so we must go through Paris.

I don't actually need to physically go there apparently, (although I did when this new system started).

When this new system started, I did go there, to renew my son's passport. They told me, at the consulate in Rue d' Anjou, Paris, that I did not actually need to have gone there, I could have dropped my documents off at UKREP (Foreign Office) in Brussels. OK, a wasted trip. A wasted day, and a lot of wasted money, but that doesn't matter, it was my money, not government money.

So having called them (UKREP) this time. A pleasant gentleman told me that this may or may not be true, but anyway I must send my documents to Paris. I must say at this point that I suspect that this is because he simply could not be bothered talking to me any further. But why should he?

Bottom line. No Consular facilities in Belgium. €179 for a new passport. Let me repeat that.€179 for a new passport.

Actually, I will repeat that again: €179 for a new passport. How much profit is built into that, and who gets it? Mmmmmmm...........

Tuesday, 19 March 2013

Only In Brussels!

A construction mistake has come to light in the new fire station near the Paul Brien Hospital in the Brussels borough of Schaarbeek. As a result of the error fire engines are not able to drive into the new building.
There is a one metre difference between the floor level at the garage exit and the street. As a result fire-fighters have been unable to move into the new Brussels fire station.

Eric Labourdette of the liberal VSOA trade union: "We can't understand it. The Brussels Region commissioned the building, but there is a one metre difference between the level of the garage exit and the street. Fire-fighters were not consulted about the designs for the building. They were never invited to take a look at progress on the building either."
"Fire-fighters from the Diamant Station, who were supposed to move in at the beginning of March, still don't know when they can make the move. As a result they are obliged to stay in a building that is in atrocious condition."

View the original here.

Friday, 15 March 2013

Brussels in top 10 “most unfriendly cities”.

No shit, Sherlock! I am in full agreement with this one.

This is the land of service with a scowl and the permanently closed help desk. It is the home of the pickpocket and beggar.

I might not agree with some of the other results - London is of course the friendliest city in the universe, and I find Moscovites to be very friendly. Zurich is not unfriendly, its just dull. Beyond dull, actually. Its what being in a coma must be like.

As for Amsterdam being friendly, If Europe were to have an enema, that is where they would put the tube. Whoever put that one on the list must have been high on crack. Its a dump.

Glad I got that off my chest!

Wednesday, 6 March 2013

Meeting Buzz Aldrin.

How often do you get to meet one of your childhood heroes? Not so often, I guess.

I remember, as an 8 year old boy, way back in 1969, sitting down in the school hall with my classmates to watch Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin take those first steps on the moon. At the age of 5 my son declared he wanted to be an astronaut, and informed me that he knew the way to the moon - it is "up". And, by the way, he is not scared, because he is English!

So, unsurprisingly, when Buzz Aldrin visited the European Parliament yesterday, there were a disproportionate number of men of a certain age present. My age group, to be precise. To listen to Aldrin describe in some detail the Apollo 11 mission, and particularly the moon landing itself was probably a once in a lifetime experience, and one that did not disappoint.

I was also hugely impressed by the optimism and ambition Aldrin displayed for his current passion, which is preparing the way for the first mission to Mars. Not bad for an 83 year old!

Monday, 4 March 2013

Meeting Andrew Neil.

Being somewhat obsessed with politics, you might assume that I am working in the right place. You would be absolutely correct! And being a eurosceptic gives a special spice to the job.

One thing that the Euro-elites seem not to be focussing on is the way in which the US is repositioning itself at present. Obama has declared himself to be the 'Pacific President'. The focus is shifting, and as well as economic and political implications, Europe should be considering how it might be able to afford to defend itself in the near future. As the US loses the need to defend the Straits of Hormuz and pulls it's 5th Fleet out, there will also be strong geopolitical implications not only for Europe, but for Israel, and for 'friendly' Arab regimes. Iran's small but effective naval forces will be left unchecked. It will become our problem very quickly, I suspect.

I was really pleased to meet with Andrew Neil last week, and to hear his strong thoughts on the subject. I was very impressed with what he had to say, and pleased to have some time to chat with him afterwards about other issues. He is a nice chap, and he has what one might call a 'robust sense of humour'. It was also interesting to watch him and his team in the studio next day, with David Davies MP preparing for a broadcast.

Unfortunately the evening was marred by a somewhat drunken and abusive UKIP press officer, but as they say in France plus ├ža change, plus la meme chose.

You can see a video of Andrew Neil's talk here.