The Vic Daniels Column

First class stamps are going up to 41p. What a joke. I send everything I can by e-mail these days, and it's good to see that HM Revenue & Customs (usually clowns themselves) are insisting that many firms now file their VAT returns online from next year.

Paying 41p for a letter that you fear won't get there on time (or at all) is excessive. I have lost count of the times this year when I have received a neighbour's post (or post that was meant for some poor innocent who lives in a road nearby). Expecting a postie to think before he (or she) shoves something through your letterbox is, it seems, unreasonable.

And what about those would-be strikers over at British Airways ? Thousands of BA employees voted for a 12-day strike to stuff up their customers' Christmas and New Year celebrations (although the High Court have blocked the walkout on a technicality). Doesn't that just show you what utter contempt BA staff have for the consumer ? I'll never fly with them again, and I hope everyone else follows suit. Like Royal Mail, these once-government-owned businesses never seem to understand the harsh realities of today's business climate; it's all about service, and if you don't deliver (literally in the case of Royal Mail) your customers will go elsewhere.

This year Boxing Day (usually a public holiday in the UK) falls on a Saturday. So our local authority (and many others) is insisting that the actual holiday is on the following Monday. If you happen to live in a street where parking restrictions apply, therefore, your Boxing Day guests will have to pay to park before they get stuck on to the leftover turkey (and that can end up expensive at £1.80 an hour!). But fear not, as Saturday is not an official holiday, you'll surely be able to visit the public library if you so choose. But, no, of course you can't; it's closed as Saturday is an official holiday too. Whoever makes up these rules are jerks.

And finally, what about the sacking of Mark Hughes from Manchester City, and that embarrassing press conference performance by CEO Garry Cook ? Once again, the Man City fans have been kicked in the teeth, when they seemed to be within a hairsbreadth of actually winning something. Frankly, I hope that the club now ends up winning nothing this season, and fails to qualify for Europe at all. It's the least Cook and the club's trigger-happy owners deserve. As for Hughes, enjoy the big payoff, mate.

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