THE SCHOOLS have broken up and the silly season is well and truly upon us. This seems to have coincided with the monsoon season, with photos of people on social media looking wet and miserable at campsites up and down the country.
Mile-long queues on the M5 and five-hour waits to get into the Euro Tunnel are plaguing the great British getaway. But get away, they must. One Sunday red-top priced up a day out for a family of four at Thorpe Park at an eye-watering £604 (for entry plus all the extras). Really? According to the newspaper you could go to Brittany for four nights for just £565 (which includes flights and accommodation). It’s no wonder everyone is heading out of the UK.
Six weeks is a very long time to keep a child amused without spending an absolute fortune. One joker posted on Facebook the reality of a child’s school holiday amusement when so many mums and dads go to work and leave them at home with grandma. “It is likely that the little darlings face spending the school holidays watching Flog It! in a darkened room with an 85 year old”. For many a bored kid that is exactly what this rain-drenched summer could have in store.
Staying with extortion, did anyone spot the story about the rickshaw cyclist who charged £206 for a one-mile journey up London’s Oxford Street? The driver, Juris Dzjabovic, insisted the price he charged was fair because he was pedalling uphill.
The Russian claimed he arrived in the UK seven days ago on a tourist visa. A police officer told the driver he was exploiting tourists and ripping them off, but he was powerless to act.
Moscow-born Mr Dzjabovic boasted: “I don’t come cheap. I work my legs hard. I charged £206 because there were four people and I was going uphill. I didn’t even charge them the full amount. It should have been £412.” The ten-minute journey would have cost £7 in a black cab.
So, lets get this straight. Mr Dzjabovic arrived in the UK one week ago on a tourist visa and he immediately started work as a rickshaw driver for Glow Taxis. How does that work then? Glow Taxis claim Mr Dzjabovic works for them semi-independently by hiring a rickshaw from them and sternly denies sanctioning what amounts to £10-a-minute fares.
Tourist visas – or Standard Visitor visas – are valid for up to six months. Visitors are not supposed to work, but may apply for a ‘permitted paid engagement’ extension if the work relates to their ‘main area of expertise’. A spokesman for London mayor Boris Johnson said: “The mayor has serious concerns about the pedicab trade”. Boris, you need to get your finger out and get this situation sorted pronto or we won’t have any tourists left.
THE Dorset constabulary must have been exceptionally bored this week. When they received a call at midnight from a care home worker, who thought she saw someone brandishing a weapon in a nearby garden, they scrambled the lot. Up went the helicopter, in went armed officers, plus the dog unit – only to apprehend a gardener with a rake. Stephen Hogan was working late in his back garden with his friend Wayne Dodd in Christchurch with the aid of an external light.
Officers attended Mr Hogan’s bungalow after their colleagues in the National Police Air Service helicopter circling above saw some activity in his back garden. Mr Hogan said five police cars attended the incident, which included an armed response vehicle and a dog unit, as well as the helicopter, which costs several thousand pounds to scramble.
Come home to find your home ransacked and you’ll be lucky it anyone bothers to come out to take fingerprints. Beg, and they will reluctantly give you a crime number.
Kevan Blackadder is a media consultant who runs Blackadder Media Limited. Kevan was previously editor of the Gloucestershire Echo and assistant editor of the Bristol Post. A Cumbrian who moved to the South West “for a couple of years” in the 1980s, he can’t quite believe he’s been there ever since.