Thursday, 26 April 2012

Little cherubs

Children for many people are a gift, a wonderful miracle that changes people’s lives forever, creating families and untold joy to old people the world over (it gives them something to do). Many of my close friends and family have done their bit to contributing to the world population recently and I congratulate them all sincerely on the new lives they will get see grow up and hopefully flourish.

However, there is a little down side to all of this celebratory procreation – baby photos.

If any more baby photos turn up on my Facebook page I’m afraid I’m going to be investigated and put on a certain register for undesirables. There are only so many confused faces one can handle staring at you every time you log in.

Unless your little darling is jumping out of an exploding helicopter, I’m just not interested. A picture of a static baby is about as captivating as a picture of a static caravan. They all look the same. Now whether they have their father’s eyes, mother’s hips or milkman’s twinkle in their eye is irrelevant – they are all bald midgets and not the comical Vern Troyer type.

Three hundred photos of the same child only sitting on a different coloured blanket, or lying down or looking at something off-camera, or sitting eating food may well be endless rapture for doting parents or relatives but to the rest of us it’s like watching slides on a recent trip to Death Valley –

“Ooh this one has a cloud in it. See?”

Fascinating - look I appreciate that your little one is the apple of your eye, really I do, but changing your Facebook profile picture to a shot of an infant just suggests that you really don’t have anything else worth talking about other than how many attempts it took your son to pour his breakfast over his head.

Ah, but we can still flick through those photos in later life though, all those memories to look back on. Look, there’s the time you sat on a blanket. Oh and there’s the time you sat on a chair and aw, that’s when you sat on the slightly smaller chair only it was red. Here’s the time you lay on your back on the carpet – remember that? This is the one with you with a window in the background and there’s you sitting on the same blanket as in the other photo but it was taken from a slightly different angle. Oh! And there’s you wearing a hat.

Yeah…baby photos are not my thing.

Next week – Charities: Who needs ‘em?

M ;)

Sunday, 22 April 2012

Follow me on Pinterest for visual aids to some of the things pinging around in my head.

If you're on there then give me a shout, say hello or send some cool pics. I'll re-pin everything I like the look of. Cheers, M

Tuesday, 17 April 2012

Halcyon Days

This is a trip down memory lane (the lane has subsequently been torn up and turned into a lovely water feature). For all the commuters who have it all to do again tomorrow.

Hell is the Number 22

There is a reason why Hell is the number 22. What it is not is the number of chromosomes a parent contributes to the start of human life. It is not the number of times Julius Caesar was stabbed or the number of Grand Masters of the Knights Templar. It is not the most commonly quoted prime number. It has nothing to do with Darwin’s 'Origin of the Species' or the Number of the Beast. It has nothing to do with the Birthday Paradox, William Burroughs or racial supremacy. It is not the average human physical biorhythm. It has nothing in common with Discordianism or September 11th. It has no other meaning to me apart from one. It is the number of the bus that I take to work each day and it is hell.

Bus stop politics is a cut-throat world. I never wanted to be a politician but I have little choice in the matter. Without being able to debate with my body, to push and to shove and cajole myself into the front of the queue, I would never get to work. In comparison to some I am a chivalrous gent. At least I queue in the first place; I take a place in line, I believe in this social order, common courtesy you may call it or self-sacrificing defeatism.

Not all are like me. Some, which is increasingly becoming most, don’t bother queuing at all. Instead they loiter, hovering around the front of the queue until the bus arrives and then dive on before everyone else. Once in a while someone pulls them up, heckles at them, even grabs them by the scruff of the neck and gives them a quick yank backwards. But most people are too polite or too scared or too busy playing commuter politics.

The number 22 is the commuter bus. The most frequent service in the city that runs every five minutes (or so the timetable would have you believe). It runs from the bottom of Leith all the way to the South Gyle and it takes in the breadth of the city on its way between the two. It travels through Princes Street, Lothian Road and beyond. It is my least favourite mode of transport of all time and that comes from a man who hates flying. It is hell.

Unlike the other 99% of the Edinburgh bus fleet, for some inexplicable reason the busiest bus route is maintained with single decker buses. So while I stand shivering at the side of the road watching empty 45's with their vacant top decks rumble by I can't help think why it is necessary to shoehorn myself onto the next available 22. Maybe it is penance for working in the industry that I do. It is my punishment for further perpetuating the status quo. What goes around comes around, unless it is a 22 bus which inevitably goes around and eventually comes around 10 minutes behind schedule and doesn't stop because it's already full. Maybe life is trying to tell me something. It is hell.

Tuesday, 10 April 2012

The Tartare 'Taster' Menu

Experience the mouth-watering flavour of rich chapters drizzled with fresh sentences and garnished with the finest satire, imported all the way from my debut novel - 'Tartare'.

Try before you buy at M. Trevelean's Facebook page. Service not included.!/pages/M-Trevelean/201615073201946

Monday, 2 April 2012

'Sociopaths in suits' - Why the Banks won't change.

The financial crisis, The Credit Crunch, The Apocalypse (as some would have it) - we all have a different take on the crisis that has affected so many of us all over the world. Lehman Brothers went KABOOM and the whole economic world went into a tailspin. Of course this was years ago now and we are still feeling the pinch – Greece is on the verge of collapse, the European Union is fumbling about trying to figure out what the magic bullet looks like and the press have indulged themselves in the kind of scare-mongering that used to be the reserve of the Cold War and nuclear Armageddon.

What of the perpetrators, what of the Banks? Much has been said and written about Bankers bonuses, how UK banks that are part or majority owned by the British taxpayer are still paying bonuses out to their chief Executives and the backlash it has had from the general public. But what people don’t understand is why, after being bailed out, why they have not apologised, why they are still paying bonuses for failure and why they haven’t changed their ways. Want to know why?

I am an ex-corporate banker. I worked for one of the large UK banks that were bailed out by the taxpayer and I can tell you with 100% certainty that nothing has changed. The culture of the banks is exactly the same pre-Credit Crunch; the people that got us into the mess in the first place are still there, still drawing a salary, still getting bonuses.

There has been no apology, not to the public, the taxpayers or even the staff. As far as the Banks are concerned it wasn’t their fault, it was the market. They weren’t to know that the bubble was going to burst; they couldn’t forecast that borrowing had reached dangerously unstable levels. Couldn’t forecast or didn’t want to see the truth? Banks mitigate risk, they manage it, they spend millions on analysis and risk assessment – it’s what they do. Couldn’t forecast market change? That’s like the weatherman not being able to predict the weather.

Then there are the bonuses. Banks have been defending big bonuses with the excuse that without them they would be unable to attract the best talent. A fallacy if ever there was one. Most banks hire from within, they promote rather than look elsewhere. Even if they were to look outside their walls they would find unemployment at record levels. I’m pretty sure there are a few people out there that they could hire. Of course they need to attract the best people – like the ex-Chief Executive of the bank I worked for. Before he ran the bank into the ground he was in charge of a major Supermarket chain. Not banking, supermarkets. Imagine trying to get a top job anywhere with no experience of the role you were applying for. That’s why they pay the bonuses, to attract people with no experience, makes perfect sense.

The other issue with bonuses is the perception of ‘rewarding people for failure’. Take another publicly owned bank which recently announced losses of over £700 million. They paid ALL their staff bonuses. Can anyone think of a situation where a company loses money and the staff are rewarded for it? But if you talk to bank staff the bonus is EXPECTED – regardless of whether the bank is doing well or not. This is a cultural issue inside the banks and until that is changed we the taxpayer will continue to see people that we bailed out, that we kept in a job, that have made all our lives more difficult, being paid extra money on top of their salaries regardless of whether a publicly owned company succeeds or not. Getting rewarded for failure or getting rewarded regardless? Either way it is wrong.

Now for the dirty little secret that all the banks want to keep quiet – they are set targets of how many customers they have to get rid of. So the bank that you own, that you may have banked with for many years and have showed loyalty to, is taking your money while scheming to get rid of you behind your back. They have too much debt and the little people who aren’t super-rich or run a small business are of no use to banks. Instead they have taken the Governments bail-out money and used it to balance their books – why do you think they’re not lending? It’s better for them to keep the money rather than wasting it on small businesses or first time buyers looking for a mortgage.

The FSA could step in, if it were not for the fact that the people who run the banks are ex-bankers themselves with connections to the same institutions that they should be sanctioning. Cronyism runs deep within the financial industry. People are promoted not based on any kind of meritocratic system but rather because their ‘face fits’ (which is a nice way of saying that nepotism and favouritism is rife). Half these people couldn’t run a bath never mind a bank.

The Banking culture hasn’t changed. Rather like a Vegas Casino - ‘The House always wins’. We are being held ransom by greedy avaricious institutions, run by the guiltless and apathetic. This is not a rant by some third party commentator - this is based on my own personal experience, an experience that I eventually had to threaten legal action against in order to bring to an end. Don’t expect anything to change anytime soon because as you’ve probably already noticed the Banks will put themselves first and everyone else second, or to put it another way - 

Sociopaths are interested only in their personal needs and desires, without concern for the effects of their behaviour on others.