"The issues are not simple" – WHAT?

Brown’s put his foot in his mouth again: the non-debate over MPs’ expenses is descending into farce. Almost as naive as Brown’s consultation-free YouTube ‘cast last week was Christopher Kelly’s harumphing view on the matter:

“As you know, the issues here are not simple; the committee takes the view that the process of hearing all the arguments and making recommendations based on evidence is key if we are to put forward a workable and credible package of changes. We aim to complete our review as early as we can, consistent with doing a thorough job.”

Run that by me again. “The issues are not simple?”


Listen, Brown and Kelly, the issues are EXTREMELY BLOODY SIMPLE. They couldn’t be simpler.

Like all expenses scandals from Brussels to Capitol Hill, the British Parliament’s problem is that the current regime allows MPs to game the system. Per-day allowances, second-home expenses, staff allowances: ANYTHING based on statutory rules to be met rather than simple honesty WILL BE GAMED and you’ll end up in a scandal.

What, precisely, is sooooo different about government workers – Brussels MEPs are even worse than British MPs – that they can’t follow the most basic principle of expenses accepted by everyone from the boardroom to the shopfloor: GET A RECEIPT? What’s so impossible about filling in an expenses form, stapling receipts to it, and claiming back what you’ve spent?

I keep my receipts. CEOs keep their receipts. Travelling salesmen, taxi drivers, secretaries and showgirls ALL KEEP THEIR RECEIPTS. Based on the simple, honest principle that you can only reclaim what you’ve provably spent.

That’s the problem here: there is no problem. The solution is obvious and simple. But of course, they’ll doubtless spend £500K on a “workable and credible package of changes” only to allow the system to continue being gained. I despair of these people.

Women, repeat after me: You. Are. Not. Special.

The dames in this town are starting to bore me.

You get a lot of dates if you’re single, male, and under 40 in London; even having a pulse is optional to some of these broads. I suppose I have about 3-4 a month, and it could be every night if I wanted to. That’s not making any claims for me; it’s just the market. There’s a shortage of single males 30-40 in London – a tens-of-thousands shortage – and the invisible hand of economics guides the adult dating scene as surely as the craft of making pins.

I try not to be ageist, and a reasonable proportion of my first dates are with women ‘sensible’ for me, i.e. the age range 28-34. There was even a 39yo recently, who I’m fairly sure was clinically dead by 11pm. (I’m not ordering the coffee there again, believe me.) But always, always the same problem arises.

The problem is not physical – many 30something women in London are in excellent shape; besides, nobody gets old anymore. It’s their attitude. Throughout the conversation, and evident in every nuance of body language, a large proportion of their utterances carry a lurking challenge: somehow inviting me to measure up, to prove my worth, to put in all the effort myself. Acting as if they were some kind of prize to be won.

Well, sorry girls, but – that’s not the situation. Market forces are in operation here. There’s a massive shortage of men 30-40 in this town, and you’re not going to get anywhere with me until you realise you are not the prize. I am the prize.

(Perhaps a wooden spoon prize, but a prize nonetheless.)

It’s funny, because all these women need to do is show some humility and understanding of the situation and everything’d be fine; I might even show interest beyond the first date. But the basic facts of the situation don’t seem to register with London’s single females. Hey, given the ratio of women to men here, I wouldn’t need to ‘win’ you if I were a drug-addicted unemployed toilet attendant suffering from dwarfism and recently back from a stint working on a pig farm in Mexico. So as a six foot plus gainfully employed property-owning professional I certainly don’t need to bring my lute along and act the ardent swain for you. If I’ve agreed to date you, you’re the one in possession of the right lottery ticket; it’s your own fault if you don’t cash it in.

So could we show a little understanding of market forces, girls? You’re really, really missing out.

(Incidentally, here’s a tip for your next nightmare date, guys. There’s an Ed’s Diner in the theatre district that shares toilets with the Yo!Sushi next door. Both are great places for a first date, since if things go pear-shaped you can just escape through the other restaurant.)