Monday, 1 April 2013

Swansea to Amsterdam

Off to Kazakhstan. Left home at 9am to catch train to Paddington at 9.30. Usual Bank Holiday and Weekend engineering works apply to journey. This time Reading Station was closed for final stages of redevelopment and re-opening later in April. A journey of normally 3 hours today was billed as 4.5 hours due to diversion via Oxford, Banbury and High Wycombe. A missing driver at Oxford, later found, added another 14 minutes. Luckily the short hop on the Heathrow Express added only another 20 minutes and I found myself checking in for my flight from Heathrow T5 to Amsterdam earlier than expected - in fact too early for the baggage drop. Two hours to spend in the terminal before boarding turned into catching up with some reading, getting in touch with people concerning our upcoming group Exhibition with Commensalis, and general Facebookery and Tweeting and some old fashioned emailing. The papers are full of stories about the coldest Easter since 1986 and Iain Duncan Smith, the Secretary of Stare for Employment, claiming that it was possible to live on £53 a week benefit or £7.57 per day. Made me think - I paid £6.50 for a sausage panini and an orange juice on First Great I'm not sure how he worked that one out. He needs to realise that it's not just a question of living on this amount for a few days which maybe is possible as a paper exercise - once someone gets into this situation for a prolonged period, a lot of other adverse effects often follow, including a feeling if worthlessness leading to possible depressive illness. It is important for young people to feel the benefits that come with working. I think an incentive needs to be found for people like myself to consider retiring early and offering the benefits of a job and training to a young person. At the moment, early retirement is penalised by 4% reduction per annum on a pension. So maybe that is also some food for thought rather than just asking the Minister to prove he could live on £53 per week. He couldn't - no one could.

I took a BA flight from Heathrow T5 and arrived at Amsterdam Schipol airport with a large crowd of Japanese tourists. I found the courtesy bus for my overnight hotel and was very glad to get some sleep!

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