Poor Wayne Took a Gamble and Lost

Wayne Rooney is in the papers, AGAIN for all the wrong reasons. This time being accused of tax avoidance to the sum of a cool £5million! He was apparently using an elaborate ‘investment’ scheme. The investment would ultimately allow him to claw money back from money lost on investments in films. And already dubious plan, especially in the light of recent events in the industry on both sides of the pond.

Now, we know Wayne isn’t exactly the brightest bulb, the sharpest knife or in the running to win gold at the Intelligence Olympics, but surely he must have known that what he was doing was illegal. I have nowhere near that kinds of wealth, and I know that creative accounting is a least frowned upon (sometimes it’s unavoidable, but for the sake of £300, it’s not worth pursuing), to a criminal offence (huge evasion of tax).

They’ve all been at it, Gary Barlow, Robbie Williams, Footballers, Fashion Designers, and Business Tycoons. The way these ‘investments’ work, I’m not overly clear on, but one thing I do know, is that the money is ‘invested’ to lose, and then the losses can be claimed back, thus reducing the amount of tax paid. I think its called tax deductable.

This however, just shows how greedy some people are. He’s worth £85million, yet still wants to ensure that he never has to pay a penny for the upkeep of the country he calls home. With wealth like that, £5million is like me paying £500.

It’s time that the government made good on their promise to catch up with tax avoiders, for they are one of the key reasons why the country has to cut so much. If people don’t pay their dues, they shouldn’t be able to use the service.

The tax system is broken up into several sections, and then further subsections. For example, if you work, you pay Tax and NI, however, if you don’t drive, you don’t have to pay Road Tax because you technically don’t use the roads. Your bus fare, which goes to the bus company covers their Road Tax. You pay council tax, however, if you truly live off grid, most of that is nullified and you only pay for Fire, NHS and Policing.

As Rooney uses all the services the government have to offer, including schooling, his trying to avoid paying is an even bigger kick in the teeth for those of us who see tax increases year in, year out because the shortfall is getting bigger due to more and more people trying to worm their way out of actually paying for the services.

This is also a terrible example to set for young people, because a lot of youngsters look up to celebrities, and will try to imitate and emulate the lifestyle that they lead, meaning that more and more kids as they join the world of work will try to avoid paying tax.

Will Arsenal or Manchester City Win the EFL CUP?

Tomorrow we will discover whether Manchester City or Arsenal will be crowned the winner of the EFL Cup, and this has certainly been a very entertaining tournament for fans of soccer, and there is still a lot of debate on just which team will win of course.

In fact, it is very true to say that many soccer fans, no matter whether their allegiances lay with either of those two teams will be having a bet on just which team they think will win, and there are no shortages of bookmarks and betting sites prepared to lay those bets of course!

Unless you are prepared to place some hefty sized bets on Manchester City winning, I doubt you are going to be rolling in cash if you do decide to bet on them and they then go on to in that match, for currently Manchester City are on offer at odds of 4/7 to win.

The draw odds may attract a few punters to have a bet on that being the outcome of the match and the draw odds for reference are 10/30, if you are convinced that Arsenal are going to come out on top and win the EFL Cup then make sure you take advantage of the current odds of 4/1 on them doing so!

If those odds are not that tempting then consider placing any of the huge and ever growing range of additional bets that are on offer to you, one that may interest you are the many different bets that make up the over and under betting markets.

How those betting markets work is fairly straight forward for a betting site of bookmaker will select a number of goals and you then simply have to guess if the match will end with more or less than the number of goals chosen by the betting site.

With only two possible outcomes they are fairly straight forward bets to place and with there being quite a number of them on offer if you are looking for a unique type of bet but one that could award some rather large winning payouts, even for a modest stake they are certainly bets to consider placing on the EFL Cup!

However, I do know and fully understand that many of you out there are unable to look further than Manchester City winning this match, and if you are convinced beyond any doubt their name will be on the trophy then consider placing a correct score type of bet on them.

The odds are going to vary depending on just what you think the final score will be, but there is no getting away from the fact that those types of correct score bets do tend to give the best betting value

For example you can bet on the final score seeing Manchester City winning by 1-0 and if so the payout odds are 9/1, for Manchester City to win 2-0 you will get odds of 9/1, but it would appear by the odds the most likely outcome is Manchester City winning 2-1 as the odds on that correct score bet are 15/2! But you can of course bet on any team scoring any number f goals.

Prostate Cancer Overtakes Breast Cancer in its Mortality Rate

I’m sorry ladies, we know all about your bits and pieces, it’s time for men to have a fair crack of the whip.

Prostate Cancer has over taken breast cancer in its mortality rate, as it’s revealed that 11,800 men a year, or one every 45 minutes die from the disease, yet there is still very little known about the ‘male’ cancers.

Naturally, all cancers are important, be that cervical, breast, testicular or prostate, but it seems very cruel that so little funding and so little time and resources are poured into the male side of things in comparison to women’s.

Prostate cancer receives less than half the funding of Breast cancer, yet, breast cancer is far better understood than any other cancer. This means that thousands of men’s lives are being put at risk every year.

Prostate cancers research is 10, if not even 20 years behind breast cancer, and that is a serious let down. While all other cancers receive great funding and research, prostate cancer, now the 3rd biggest killer only behind Lung and Bowel cancer.

Survival rates for most cancers are pretty good, and with the correct care and treatment the cancer rarely returns, however, the mortality rate of Prostate cancer is huge. It’s a terrible disease and a terrible thing to witness for anyone, but it’s time that the funding was distributed slightly more fairly. Namely because in the interests of everyone, no one wants to witness someone go through such a cruel and degrading illness, and to watch someone fight like a dog day and night just to clutch to the final few straws of life.

The NHS needs to redistribute its funds and ignore its targets. This isn’t a game of point scoring, this is people’s lives, and the people that love them.

Ditch the targets and numbers, and look at the situation in black and white. We’ve gone nearly as far as we can regarding Breast Cancer, for now until new medical breakthroughs are made. Why not start looking at the other cancers, or do the men no longer matter? Are we disposable once used like a cheap pair of socks?

Men are just as important as women, however, we seem to have the least spent on us when it comes to our health, or we’re told to simply ‘man up’. It’s this kind of attitude that makes men more likely to die before women, because we are brainwashed into the mindset that unless something is practically hanging off, we should just grin and bear it. In actual fact, men are a lot more fragile than people think, and this constant macho bravado people expect of us makes us more vulnerable to serious illness because we’re conditioned to have pride to the point of arrogance.

Women always complain about going for a Smear test. Well I’m sorry girls; the prostate exam is hardly the most amazing thing in the world. We have to go through the same indignation as you, and in some ways it can be even worse.

UPDATE: Stephen Fry has just announced that he has prostate cancer.

The Noble Art of Dinner Party Etiquette

If you’re invited to one of my dinner parties, don’t dictate what I’m cooking.

I understand as well as the next person, people do have dietary needs. I struggle with drinking milk (but I can eat cheese and butter), and certain spices give me a dicky stomach. We all have things that bother us, but in the good old days, people would politely leave it to one side and not make a fuss about it. Actually, Alan Carr summed it up perfectly in his Toothfairy tour.

‘Does it have nuts? Does it contain wheat? In the good old days they used to just die! Slam the ambulance door, BON APETIT!’

Seriously, I don’t invite people round to cook for, for the good of my health, it’s all about the company, the conversation and the enjoyment. I will make exceptions to the you like it or lump it rule. For example, I’ll happily do a veggie portion for someone, or I’ll not serve nuts if I know someone has an allergy. But please, don’t email a list of dietary requirements because your latest fad diet restricts you from eating anything but air.

If you’re Jewish or Muslim, I won’t serve pork. If your Sikh I’ll serve vegetarian. This is out of respect. Same with veggies, but don’t expect the rest of the party to have to endure your diet. That’s not fair.

My mum had the right idea when me and my sister were kids, if my sister didn’t want Sausages, Chips and Beans, my mum would do her Fish Fingers, Chips and Beans. They take the same amount of time to cook and it’s not an inconvenience at all.

In our later kidulthood, when CJD was rife we HAD to have a pescatarian diet, simply because my parents were very worried we could contract mad cow disease. Now, I’m a lover of fish, my sister not too much, so my sister would still eat the same as us, just she’d either have quorn or solely veg. No big deal.

It drives me mad, people self diagnose (thanks Dr. Google) and then they suddenly become allergic to everything that isn’t organic, hand grown and juiced.

If you have a serious allergy, by all means, let me know, but I know the difference between a self diagnosed allergy, and a genuine life threatening allergy. If you’re on a diet, tell me, I’ll respect you more for letting me know before I pile your plate up 3 miles high.

If you do get an invite to a dinner party, do send your host a polite email detailing any REAL allergies you have or if you are Veggie, so the host can prep in advance, but don’t send them a list longer than my arm of what you can and can’t eat. If you don’t like something, push it to one side of the plate and leave it.

As for the hosts, don’t pander to everyones needs and likes, you’re a host, not a short order cook.

High Protein Diets are the Way Forward

It’s common knowledge that high protein diets are a very good way to lose weight, and keep it off. They’re quite easy to follow, and also allow you to make a variety of tasty, nutritious meals for all the family.

The perfect balance of any diet is Protein, Dairy, Carbohydrate, Fibre and a little bit of fat. Anything else that’s good for you that you chuck into the dish, like garlic, is a bonus.

Protein is generally low fat and lean, and helps our muscles repair and grow. It’s also good for keeping us fuller for longer, as oppose to say opting for a frozen burger which contains the nutritional value of toilet paper.

Eggs are a good source of protein and good fats, as well as being quick and easy to cook, be that boiled eggs with soldiers, poached eggs on wholemeal toast, or even a homemade scotch egg for a snack. If you want a more fulfilling lunch, try having a cheese, mushroom and fatless bacon omelette with a salad and a few tortilla chips.

There are so many different things you can do with Chicken, I couldn’t list them all down, though it is ideal to use breast meat, as this is the lowest in fat and highest in protein, though thighs and legs are also good.

As we’re getting into the warmer weather, why not try Sticky Chinese 5 Spice Chicken portions on the BBQ? Simply add a sachet of 5 spice into a mixing bowl, add one – two tbsp of Vegetable oil, mix well, and brush over the portions and leave to marinate overnight, don’t forget to keep basting them though!

Pork is another good meat that is under rated. Mainly because it can be dull, however, grilled pork chops marinated in Lea and Perrins Worsteshire is really tasty and tangy. Serve it with hasselback new potatoes and some green veggies for a fulfilling meal that won’t leave you feeling guilty.

If you’re more a fish person, experiment with different flavours and textures. Salmon goes really well with Prawns, Dill, Butter, White Wine, Halved Cherry Tomatoes and White Onion. Simply chop all the veggies up, place the salmon on a large piece of tinfoil, add a tsp of butter, a small dash of wine and top with the veggies. Roll the foil into a lose parcel, and cook for 20 minutes. Serve it with any kind of salad, or vegetables you like.

These are just some simple ideas that you can try. Dieting doesn’t have to be dull, so get experimenting, you may even find you can make sweet treats that aren’t laden with sugar and salt. It’s all a matter of balance, so don’t fret over the odd sweet treat or packet of crisps, you need to have the odd treat, otherwise you resent your diet and you crave what you want even more, which is counterproductive, especially when you know what you have to do, but want to have it each way.

Bereavement – No Right or Wrong Ways to Cope

When poet Helen Dumore passed away last year after a battle with cancer, she left something so poignant and beautiful that in her daughter’s time of need, she took comfort in knowing that her mother was at ease with her impending fate.

Unfortunately, death can be cruel, brought on by even crueller diseases, or crueller still, other human beings who don’t value the value of others lives and the pain and grief they cause.

Of course, there are stages that nearly all of us go through, but some of us don’t necessarily do them in order. Some of us don’t even do some of them, and skip to the next one.

They are:

Shock and Denial: Simply put, you can’t believe that, that person is gone forever. That they couldn’t be no longer with us. When we’re young, and lose someone, we are far more prone to this because it makes us question our own mortality.

Pain and Guilt: We start to reflect on things we’ve done, our shortcomings and our silly arguments. The things we’ve done that could have hurt the person and the regret we will never be able to ask for forgiveness.

Anger and Bargaining: I’m not talking offering to sell your soul for a single hour back, but frustrations and raw nerves can lead to you pushing people away, lashing out and blaming others. There is also trying pleading with mother nature that you’ll do  anything just as long as they are brought back and that this was all just a bad dream.

Depression, Reflection and Loneliness: After you have pushed everyone away, you are left alone, just you and your thoughts. Thoughts that can take very dark turns. ‘I want to be with him’ for example. It is imperative if you do find yourself falling into this stage, that you seek help from your GP, Samaritans, and Grievance Counselling, be that 1-1 or group, or both.

The Upward Turn: In time your new life will begin to regain some kind of normality, and a type of calm will begin to settle in. You’ll find yourself getting more and more organized mentally, and your depression will gradually lift.

Working though: As your life starts to regain structure, you’ll be more determined to work through your problems, finding solutions and even return to work.

Acceptance: Acceptance comes at different times for different people. If it was expected, you’ll find you may not actually experience this last, but instead first. But you’ll accept it was happening, and has ultimately happened.

When your life is thrown into turmoil through grief, there is only one thing you can do, and that is to work through things the best you can and to try to not fall into a pit of despair you feel you’ll never be able to climb out of. Speak to people, for the easiest way to achieve peace is to speak about it.

Disturbing Increase in Attacks on Paramedics

Paramedics have seen a surge in the abuse they receive from the general public in recent years, with the latest unreasonable behaviour coming in the form of a poison pen letter. In full the letter reads;

‘If this van is for anyone but no. 14 then you have no right to be parked here. I couldn’t give a s**t is the whole steet collasped (sic) now move your van from outside my home.’

The paramedics who were attending a 999 call were met with the abusive note after parking their ambulance in a resident’s parking space in the West Midlands. Now, in a perfect world, there would have been ample space for the ambulance to safely park without causing any inconvenience, but alas, this isn’t a perfect world, and someone’s life is ever so slightly more important than someone being able to simply get out of their car and be in the living room in under a minute.

This is a sad sign of the times, where paramedics, going about their jobs are being abused for the most minor of inconveniences.

There was recently an unprovoked attack where a man was being taken to hospital, and a woman threw a full bottle of wine at the window of the ambulance, causing the window to smash, a £200 bill for the replacement of the window and then wasted resources because another ambulance had to be sent out, with 2 paramedics, which could have been life saving for another person.

This yobbish behaviour must stop, and the full force of the law enforced on such ridiculous situations. Is the country seriously so feral these days that the emergency services can’t go about their daily duties without enduring some kind of abuse?

What people don’t seem to grasp is if it was one of their loved ones that was being loaded into the back of an ambulance, if someone behaved like that, they’d be mortified. People need to learn to step into other people’s shoes, think of what they would do if they were in that situation. Would they be throwing projectiles at the ambulances? What about fire crews? If it was your house on fire with your family trapped inside, would you abuse the very people that were trying to help rescue them?

The health, fire and police services are all under strain as budgets are cut, there are fewer staff and morale is low due to the absurd behaviour of these cretins who think they can behave towards the very people who are employed to try and save them using any means necessary, and if that means parking in someone’s parking space for 10 minutes while they attend an emergency, well, that’s simply tough t*ts.

An emergency vehicle will always take priority over someone’s selfish, lazy wants. That is why you are meant to pull over and allow any Blue and Two vehicles past. And just remember, it could have been you or a loved one that needed that ambulance.

Abandoned Dogs Sadly on the Increase

I’ve decided to foster a dog, and tugging at my heartstrings is a beautiful boy called Seb, (I think Rupert because he looks like a teddy bear), is potentially living with me, and my partner who hates dogs. Hates them to the point that even my slightly insane grandmother is preferable company. Despite the fact he’s convinced she wants to gouge his eyes out with a spoon!

Seb is one of many dogs who are abandoned, left alone and afraid, confused and befuddled. Forlorn and heartbroken that his master has broken the chains and bonds. He has nothing he can do.

The very image to the left is the most heartbreaking I have seen in a long time. Not only because it comes from a pretty wealthy area, where beautiful dogs like this are prized, but because when he was found, he had no Chip, so essentially he never existed.

Older, no longer able to keep up, I believe he was a working dog who has cruelly been dumped because he no long has a monetary value.

He won’t understand that. Dogs don’t ‘retire’ with a pension. They work their asses off and expect nothing more than a decent meal. In return they offer you loyalty that knows no bounds. Compassion, when you feel that all is lost. Friendship when all you feel is loathing.

Pets aren’t for everyone, but for those blessed enough, they are a saviour with a very furry coat. A lifeline.

My fella hates all animals (unless rare with a side of fries), but even he seems to be warming to the idea of Seb. Yes, I’ll have to take on all responsibility, and walk a lot more. My ass will not be complaining about that. I’ll have to budget in dog food, vet bills, insurance and other doggy essentials.

But what I’ll end up with ultimately, is a companion, a handsome, well behaved gentle boy who has known hardship, but is still not aggressive. An amigo. He’ll be a rags to riches story. Taken from the wilds of where I live, to being treated to la crème de la crème.

Sorry darling, but this is something that I must do, if not for Seb, but for me. You know with all of my heart, I do love you, but I have to do what is right, which is not usually the easy option. Taking on Seb is going to be difficult to begin with, but not impossible. He may be old, but you can still teach an old dog new tricks.

Plus, you’ll rarely see him as I’ll be walking with him, unfortunately in all weathers.

We can make a home for Seb, even if only a temporary one. Give him some time, stability and compassion, and you’ll be amazed at just how much you stand to gain. A knowledge that you’ve taken a defenceless being in, made him feel wanted and helped him on his road to recovery. Plus, you’ll get me out of your hair for a few hours at least every day!

Compromises to be Made Feeding Children in Schools

A council in Scotland is aiming to roll out a ‘Food 365’ scheme across several schools in the borough to help tackle what is called ‘Holiday Hunger’. North Lanarkshire has one of the highest levels of poverty and deprivation in the UK and according to charities and food banks, they are beginning to feel overstretched as the number of users has increased since the recession rocked the world.

Food is an essential part of life, more so when we’re young and learning, and it’s scientifically proven that malnourished children don’t learn as well as those that are well fed. It’s also key to improving behaviour in school. Less ‘hangry’ outbursts, improved concentration and increased energy levels.

The scheme could cost anywhere between £500,000 and £1million, and as that kind of money isn’t exactly sat in the coffers of the council, some cuts will have to made to the luxuries.

For example, does a school really need for all teachers to have executive leather desks and chairs? Does the school really have to buy 100 new text books (that haven’t been updated in 20 years) every year? Can the school live without licences to use Sibelius on all 400 computers when the only classroom that needs it only has 10?

We understand that wear and tear is part of living, and things do need replacing eventually, but there are 2 factors here. If the item is deliberately damaged, be it a book or window, the student (or their parents) MUST pay for its replacement. But if the item was already on its last legs, it should be audited and replaced with the next order. It’s called make do and mend, something the UK prides itself on.

Creative budgeting is tricky, though head teachers do seem to do quite well when it comes to the yearly increase in their salary. That doesn’t necessarily mean I think they should take pay cuts, but it does mean that their increases in salary should be taken into consideration and they are paid what they are worth and not given a guaranteed pay rise every year regardless of the schools OFSTED performance.

Something else that will greatly help the schools hoping to roll out the scheme, is getting parents to volunteer some of their time. Say a school of 1500 pupils, 5 or 10 parents, once a month volunteer to help with the scheme, meaning that the cost of canteen staff during the holidays and weekends is vastly reduced.

It’s all about looking at different angles on how to spread the wealth, and although a school budget on paper is huge, once you take into consideration how much it costs to run a school, it really isn’t that much, and adding on top of the running costs an extra half a million pounds is certainly not going to be a head teachers most joyous of accounting feats.

We need to look into permanent solutions, but for the time being, this is a good temporary solution.

Bet Early On the 2018 Randox Grand National

Each year in the UK they hold the Grand National, that is one of the most watched and most bet on races held in Great Britain each year, and it is on the 14th of April 2018 that it will be taking place this year.

The race is scheduled to start at 17:15 on that day, and there will be many millions of people in the UK, and beyond that will be placing a handful of bets on that race.

However, many of the people who do bet on the Grand National only bet once or twice a year and as such are often blissfully unaware that they can place bets and wagers right now, well in advance of that horse race starting.

One of the main benefits of doing so is that some much higher odds are usually on offer, as there is not that high a volume of cash being placed on that betting market. As such if you are thinking of placing a bet on this year’s Grand National then now may just be the time to do so to secure some much higher and better odds.

The two most commonly placed bets on the Grand National held at Aintree racecourse are a simple win type of bet on which punters have to try and pick one of the horses they hope will win, and they can also place something known as an each way bet too.

An each way bet is a straight win bet as described above, but also another bet on which if a punters chosen horse finishes in one of the top positions of the race they get paid out on that additional bet too, the odds they are paid out at are a percentage of the win odds.

Each betting site, sportsbook and bookmakers shop that accepts bets on the Grand National may have a different number of places they will pay out to on this race, but most betting sites will offer a quarter of the odds on the place part of your each way bet if your horse finishes in first second, third or fourth place.

In regards to the current odds available, the favourite is currently Blaklion and if you do fancy a bet on that horse you can get 10/1 right now at many betting sites. The next horse that is going to appeal to a lot of punters is Total Recall who is currently favourite to win with odds of 12/1.

The Last Samurai is also likely to attract a lot of punters to place a bet on that horse, much more so each way bets as the odds on that horse are currently 16/1 but consider placing an each way bet on Cause Of Causes, Gold Present, Definitly Red or even Minella Rocco for each of those horses are currently on offer at odds of 20/1!

I do know people do often like to have a bet on the total outsider to win the Grand National, and if that is something you fancy dong then place a bet on Rogue Angel as the odds on that horse winning are currently 100/1!