Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Well, it had been four weeks since the last disaster...

My car died on me last night. I got in, intent on driving to band, turned the key in the ignition and... nothing. It seems the starter motor has gone again.

Truth be told, I was expecting something to go wrong - it's been four weeks since the last major problem, so it was about due. And it could have been a lot worse. I could have got to band, and then had the car die... especially problematic since my mobile phone doesn't work at the school where the band is held, so getting the AA out wouldn't be easy.

Still, it's just one more thing to add to my list of problems, and yet more money that I have to spend unexpectedly.

Thursday, March 16, 2006

Good news! We're downgrading your service!

I got my Council Tax bill at the start of the week. This was a shock - I should probably have known it was coming, but it still represented a big chunk of money that I thought I had that suddenly was gone. It was also annoying that the increase in the bill this year was greater than inflation, which is always bad. (In case you don't know, inflation is the percentage change in average prices in the year. If all your bills increase by inflation and you get a pay rise equal to inflation, in real terms you're as well off as you were last year. A pay rise less than inflation is, in effect, a pay cut, as the same money has to stretch further. And so on.)

Anyway, one thing that is particularly galling about all of this is that the major service I get from the council is my refuse collection, which is actually surprisingly good. (Technically, I also get the right to vote in local elections, if they ever hold these, but since I have no faith in the democratic process, I would rather not bother.) (Also, technically, the deal with taxes is not a transaction - you pay because it's illegal not to. Whatever the council chooses to give in turn is their munificence in action. But that's a really cynical view, so I'll stop.)

Anyway, I got a letter yesterday, proclaiming good news for my refuse collection service - in the next few months they're going to shift from a weekly collection to a fortnightly one! Huzzah!

There's a bit more to it than that, of course. They're wanting to encourage recycling, so they'll be providing us with additional bins for food waste and a recycling box, and such. The problem with that? Well, other than the pain of having to seperate the wastes, there's the issue that they'll almost certainly drop this aspect of the collection in a few months, once they realise that it's costing them too much.

Anyway, the changes to the collection don't bother me too much - I'm entitled to 4 bags of rubbish per fortnight, and since I generate 1 bag per week, I'm fine. What annoys me is the combination of factors - higher prices for a worse service, coupled with a letter proclaiming that this service is somehow better for me.