Pay up for your own funeral or else!

You can’t switch on the television nowadays without being bombarded by ads telling you that you should take out a funeral policy. Either you sign up for payments until you die or else you can pay for a funeral today so that your heirs don’t have to fork out some money to bury you.

The message here is that you don’t want to be a burden to your children after death. So not only do you have to support them while they are growing up and often when they are all grown, but if you love the poor dears, then you will save them the expense of paying for your departure. In other words, the responsibility is all on your side.

Apparently, it is not enough that they will inherit the family estate, meaning your money. You have to facilitate everything for them by depriving yourself of money while you are still alive so that they can inherit absolutely everything.

These ads must be working or those companies would not continue advertising all the time.

So what does this say about today’s society?

Well, it says several things. First of all, that parents do not actually trust that the children will provide a decent burial for them. Secondly, that older people have been subjected to guilt trips about being a burden on society. The ads concentrate on guilt and even parental love when it’s really all about Money.

Thirdly, that there is a feeling of entitlement among the younger generation. They want it all, they want it now and they don’t want to share. The least we can do is to get out of their way and we should pay for the fare out of this world ourselves.

Seems to me that there is something very satisfying about reverse mortgages. Perhaps the crocodile tears would turn into genuine ones when the will is read.

The experts on nuclear dangers are crawling out of the woodwork.

As if reports about the potential threat of a nuclear meltdown in Japan aren’t enough to drive me to despair, enter The Experts.

Every news bulletin unearths its own expert on the situation at Fukushima. He is usually from some obscure university such as the School of Miscellaneous Panic Studies in Antarctica. The interviewer asks him for his considered opinion based on his considerable knowledge of nuclear power only to hear:- “Well, it’s too soon to tell.”

The desperate interviewer prods Dr Mumbles for an atom of information, a sound byte perhaps? but no, the expert pleads ambivalence. “We don’t have enough information as yet,” he explains. “I would be loathe to predict the outcome of this situation.”

“But the situation looks pretty grim, doesn’t it, Dr Mumbles?” prods the interviewer.

“Well, yes… and no, although it’s too soon to tell,” Dr Mumbles responds. “It all depends on…”

“Thank you, Dr Mumbles,” interrupts the interviewer before going back to shots of the steaming nuclear reactor.

“That was Dr Mortimer Mumbles from the University of Antarctica expressing concern over the extremely grim situation at Fukushima.”

What was all that about? I ask myself. They could have interviewed me, and I would have said “Dunno, but it ain’t lookin’ good.” But I wasn’t asked because I don’t have the cachet, the info, the insight, the expertise. My dunno would lack credibility, I guess. However, it is comforting to know that I’m not alone.

“Foyles War”. Series 6 fails to impress

To say that I looked forward to the latest series of “Foyle’s War” the way a child looks forward to his birthday party would be an understatement. I absolutely loved the first five series of this television drama and I waxed lyrical about it in a previous blog.

So imagine my disappointment when Series 6 came on the screen a month ago and left the impression of a tired school reunion with all the alumni pretending that they’ve still got it. When they obviously haven’t…

There were only three episodes in this latest series. I wasn’t sorry to see it end. That was a strange reaction for me since I really, really admired the first five series. I even bought the boxed set.

But I won’t be buying this latest series, unless Series 7 renews my faith in the whole thing.

I must admit that I was stunned by the lacklustre acting of Honeysuckle Weeks as Sam Stewart who had been such an asset in the previous series. Even Michael Kitchen in his reprise as Foyle seems to be weary too. The verve is gone. The plots are convoluted and there is something definitely missing.

I suspect that the missing factor is the war itself. This series covers the period after the Second World War and the sense of patriotism and urgency are missing. There’s little excitement and hardly any suspense. Sam Stewart, DCS Foyle and Detective Sergeant Paul Milner look lost and disenchanted as if they are going through the motions because all their fans demanded more of “Foyle’s War.”

What a shame that they could not recapture the brilliance of the past series! I remember that John Cleese explained that he only made 12 episodes of “Fawlty Towers” because he had done what he wanted to. And he did not want to spoil the effect by dragging out the comedy.

It’s possible, therefore, that in bowing to the pressure of their fans such as yours truly, Anthony Horowitz who created the series which was produced by his partner, Jill Green, tried too hard but unfortunately failed to reproduce that enchantment that we had come to expect.

Perhaps Series 7 will be better.

The Insurance Council of Australia echoes my views

More than a week ago I suggested that home insurance should be compulsory. Quite simply, if home owners can’t afford the insurance then they can’t afford to own a house. It’s gratifying to learn that the insurance industry has just come out with a similar statement. Australian insurers would like compulsory insurance for residents in bushfire prone areas. However, I would extend that to all home owners in all areas, not just the bushfire prone areas.

    The following extract comes from Sky News March 1

Australian insurers are leading a call for compulsory insurance for residents in bushfire prone areas, in the wake of Victoria’s devastating fires.

The Insurance Council of Australia has also questioned, how much of the $200 million Victorian Bushfire Appeal Fund, should be given to uninsured victims.

ICA boss Paul Giles says there’s no incentive for people to insure against bushfires, if their uninsured neighbours are going to be helped to rebuild anyway.

He also claims a compulsory home and contents insurance scheme would be no different to current Compulsory Third Party car insurance.

A Victorian government spokesman says the issue of compensation to uninsured victims, would be examined by the bushfire royal commission.

Tale of the Ancient Lobster or Free Lili

While watching the BBC news on TV this morning, we held the following conversation.

“I didn’t know that lobsters could live for 140 years.”

“Course they can’t. Where did you hear that?”

“On the BBC right now. The ticker tape thingy at the bottom said that one hundred and forty year old lobster was released from a restaurant in New York.”

“Can’t be true,” says husband. “What they mean is that 140 lobsters who were one year old were released.”

“How could 140 lobsters fit into a tank in a New York restaurant? Must have been some big tank, don’t you think? Besides, why would that make it into the news amidst Gaza conflict, earthquake in Costa Rica and quarrels over halted Gas supplies from Russia through the Ukraine?”

Further discussions along the lines of what I thought I had read and husband being adamant that I had got it wrong.

“OK then, let’s wait until the ticker tape comes around again and we’ll read it together this time.”

But you know how things are in life. Just as it was the turn of the lobster story again, some commercial break interrupted the news. So my husband got out of bed and looked up the BBC news site on the internet.


“Yep,” the husband confirmed. “Apparently, a restaurant in New York had this 140 year old lobster in its tank for two weeks and some animal rights activists petitioned to liberate it.”

“Good for them,” I beamed.

I never did like any animals to be in cages. I even hate the idea of circuses and zoos and don’t get me started on pet canaries in cages and dogs and cats in the confines of apartment buildings.

“So how did they know it was 140 years old?”

“They can tell by its weight.”

Husband tried to get back to reading his newspaper. Not for long though…

” Hmmm. Must be a guesstimation. Cause it can’t be like telling how old a tree is on account of the number of rings. Couldn’t this particular lobster be obese rather than old? I wonder why human beings shrink as they get very old then? And another thing, why do ticker tape announcements disappear just when you want to read them again?”

“The Black Balloon” wins awards…but

This year’s winner of six awards at the Australian Film Industry event was “The Black Balloon”. It’s exactly the sort of film that is keeping audiences away from Aussie films. In my previous blog I gave my views on that and “The Black Balloon” only reinforces my opinion.

I wish that Aussie film makers would face reality and get beyond blue, for a change.

Here is a typical scenario of a potential cinema goer. It’s Saturday night and you decide to take your girlfriend to the movies. Would you choose a film about a dysfunctional family—aren’t we all dysfunctional, anyway? Would you want to watch autism tearing a family apart? Would you want to munch cheerfully on pop corn while an autistic adolescent is ranting and raving in public on the screen?

Would you leave the cinema feeling happy and romantic and perhaps hoping for more than a cup of coffee at her home? Or would you just want to sit in silence wishing that you had chosen a different film?

Autism is a reality and yes, it is a tragedy, but during recessions and people losing jobs and homes, audiences need relief, unless they are some sort of sado-masochists who get off on other people’s suffering.

During the Great Depression, the American musical comedy was thriving. People went to see Shirley Temple and Charlie Chaplin, just to experience some moments of hilarity in their gloomy lives.

Here we are in the midst of a recession or depression or whatever you want to call it and people are hurting out there. So what does the Australian film industry produce? Misery, guilt and tragedy. That should brighten up a date!

I’m amazed that Australian film producers don’t include a whip with every ticket sold. A few scarlet welts should guarantee a perfect evening, for some people perhaps, but not for the average movie-goer.

Perhaps these films are made to win awards rather than box office success. In that case, the producers have achieved what they wanted. Lots of pretty little statues in their display cabinets!

Griffith University’s Saudi link

To visit Vassar College in New York state is to appreciate what philanthropy can do when it comes to education. The college was set up originally by a brewer called Matthew Vassar for the liberal arts education of young ladies.

I had read about Vassar in literature and heard references to it in American films, so it was truly a pleasure to walk around its beautiful buildings dating back to the Nineteenth Century. I was in architecture heaven and would have loved to live on campus.

This is what money can do when it is used for causes more worthy than buying a football team. But money can also be used as a bribe and as a tool for propaganda. Continue reading