Wednesday, 23 March 2016

Third World economics

Ok, the full moon is over (isn't it?), I got away without being killed by the lunatic giant in the pub last night (so far) and today I am fitting a new heating element in the water heater (hopefully without flooding the place or electrocuting myself).

What I want to know is - if there is such a shortage of well-paid work in the U.K. - how come it takes weeks, years or decades to get an electrician or plumber to come round to do an hour's work for £80? I think that it might have been easier to get a little job like this done in Soviet Russia.

Bath does not have enough Polish people living nearby compared to Oxfordshire, where a whole team of non English-speaking experts are renovating that fabulous Tudor house I have told you about. They all do a great job, and are very happy with about £20 per hour to take home to Poland, whereas our skilled manual labourers would not get out of bed for less than a month's contract. It might shake them all up if we do leave the E.U.

"Who uses immersion heaters these days?" was the somewhat snide remark made by a friend in the pub last night.

"We do, actually, otherwise why would I need to repair it?" I quickly forgave him this slur when he defended me from a beating by the lunatic giant.

Price comparison: Is it worth changing our electricity provider? Not when you bills are about £500 a year, it isn't. This figure produced a similar slur from the electrician when he eventually came round after a week's begging.

"How much do I owe you?" I asked him after he spent 3 minutes just to tell me that I needed a plumber, not an electrician.

"Well it should be £65 plus VAT, but I will charge you £10." I was so insulted that I gave him £20.

Our house has no mains gas, which means that there is one less thing I have to worry about when in bed. We - no, I - cook on bottled gas, and use three 15KG bottles of butane a year. Our cooking gas bills are about £100 per year, compared with everyone else's combined heating bills of about £2,500+ on average.

My car insurance is up for renewal next month, and my current broker quoted £305 with a £250 excess on claims. I went to another broker and was quoted £214 with an excess of £150, plus a brand-new windscreen for £40. Result.

I like shopping in Lidl.

Have I gone down in your estimation?

22 comments:

  1. I heartily approve of creative frugality, no worries here. Not that you were.

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  2. Mr EM and I are often congratulating ourselves on various frugal wheezes we've managed on household/domestic budgets. Sometimes they just fall into our laps, as it were. Like the car insurance this year. It had been gradually reducing each year for some unknown but thankful reason and then suddenly dropped to £230 this time due to a drop in annual mileage. Of course that is partly because we are doing less driving and more flying. So hardly an overall 'saving'. Though taking advantage of BA special offers like £30 each way flights to Venice is a bloody good reward for all our other mundane frugalities.

    Why should you think that liking Lidl would lower you in anyone's estimation? Or indeed care?

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  3. I remember when you could buy a Rolls Royce, a house in Cheyne Walk, and dine at The Carlton every day for a year, and still get change from a sixpence.

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  4. Two times I was very unhappy with things I bought at Harrod's (tea, and tea towel). Husband's students are surprised when they met him at Aldi or Lidl - he says "A pineapple is a pineapple, whereever I buy." I do "blind-tests" - and if I like the jam of the KaDeWe better, I'll buy that, but if Lidl's is better, I'll buy that. Can't buy esteem by buying a luxury-trademark.

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  5. Two times I was very unhappy with things I bought at Harrod's (tea, and tea towel). Husband's students are surprised when they met him at Aldi or Lidl - he says "A pineapple is a pineapple, whereever I buy." I do "blind-tests" - and if I like the jam of the KaDeWe better, I'll buy that, but if Lidl's is better, I'll buy that. Can't buy esteem by buying a luxury-trademark.

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    1. That's four times you were unhappy, then.

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  6. I thought the VAT was just for foreigners. They said I could apply for a refund of the VAT later, but I never did. I won't drive cross town for a discount, but I do look and buy accordingly.

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    1. No, non EU foreigners get the tax back. I know people who use petrol to drive to places which sell it at a discount. Madness.

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  7. Tom I admire your searching around for the best deal. We do it too to a limited extent but living as we do in the depths of the country then often something cheaper means a long drive, thus false economy in the long run.

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    1. Exactly Weave - I didn't get where I am today without spending £130,000 in the pub over 30 years.

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  8. I"ll always like you whatever.

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    1. I'll hold you to that the next full moon.

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  9. You exude a sense of ingrained frugality. Tell us about the giant. Did I miss an episode?

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    1. I thought you wrote fragility
      I nearly fell off my sofa

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    2. If you fell off your sofa, your landing would be soften by a big pile of dog shit.

      The giant will - sooner or later - show up my more fragile nature, by hospitalising me. I took the episode down very quickly. Yes, I am being threatened by an 18 stone, 6' 5" bloke who... well, let's just say that his weight is not made up of the sort of material which constitutes about 40% of John's body mass.

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  10. What did you say to the monster?

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    1. Tonight, nothing. That's the way I want it to stay. I'm not scared of him, but I think that one blow from him to my head against my fragile neck would finish my working life forever, and I obviously want to avoid that happening. He has been warned, but I will warn him myself if he ever threatens me once more. I cannot afford this stupidity literally. It makes no difference to me if he is sent back to prison or not.

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  11. With less tax to pay the price of good drinking wine in our French Lidl, compared with the UK, is too good to miss. Friends have returned from Spain and say that stuff is even better priced. So much for the EU and the Euro.
    Best wishes to you (for Easter) and not to The Giant.

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    1. Yes, if there is one thing I regret about not moving to France, it is the supplemented life-style choices. The same in the USA - you can have a great dinner in Florida - oysters, crabs, etc. - for a few dollars, and fill up your car for a few more. I hear it has risen quite a lot since I was there, though. We are ripped-off in this country to make up for the banker's poor decisions.

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