Monday, 29 November 2010

The Runcorn Bridge and the oncoming of the final straw

Runcorn, if the Hitch Hikers guide to the Galaxy were to describe it, the phrase "Mostly Harmless" would be quite accurate. The main problem with it is that to get to one of the nearest places of work, Liverpool.  You need to travel across the Runcorn  - Widnes bridge. This was opened in 1961 and designed to carry about 9,000 vehicles a day, at the moment it carries about 90,000,  so at peak times you move at about 4 MPH across it, snails sometimes overtake you.

But salvation is at hand as a new bigger better bridge is to be built, the problem here is that this will be a toll bridge and the toll for crossing it is currently put at £1.40 each way. Of course to ensure that people use this new crossing the government and local authorities will be making the currently free bridge a toll bridge too. So this is effectively another tax on people like you and me for travelling to work.

You see, I work in Aintree and to get to and from work I have to cross the Mersey, the distance to my job is about 23 miles each way which is about a gallon of diesel and the cost is about £5.00. Once the bridge is open, my daily travelling expense will increase by 50% probably meaning that I will have to look for another job. I could of course use a different route and go through Warrington but this is probably worse than going across the existing bridge at the moment.

So now it's time to do some maths, as I said above there are about 90,000 crossings each day, let's just say that each one of these is a car to make things easier to work out as lorries will pay a higher toll than a car. 90,000 x £1.40 means that the new toll will generate £126,000 a day, over a year this will bring in £6,552,000. I don't know who will get this cash but if it brought our council tax down a bit I would say money well spent.

Lets now have a look at things from a taxation point of view, the government currently take about £27 a day from me in tax, on top of that is duty on the fuel that I use to travel to work which on a gallon of fuel is about £4.50, then we add £.2.80 toll to that which brings the total to  £34.30. If my rate of pay is about £9.00 an hour, this means that I only start earning money for myself in the afternoon and all the cash that I earn in the morning is used to pay tax. Once you take national insurance and VAT into consideration you see that I pay over half of my wages in tax in one form or another.

I have to say that this annoys the crap out of me

Friday, 19 November 2010


I managed to get a week off work in October and during my time off my hands came into contact with something that made them itch and come up with little lumps. My first instinct was to carry out a search on Google to see if I could work out what was wrong.
In hindsight, this was possibly not the best thing to do. I entered my symptoms and was informed that I had either ingested too much gluten, possibly had contracted Foot and Mouth, it may have been some form of Dermatitis but the most likely thing was apparently Syphilis.
At this point I went to see the doctor who assured me it was some form of contact Dermatitis but there was no way of finding out what I had touched. Some steroid cream with antibiotic properties was issued together with some Oilatum emollient to help out with some dry skin I had would do the job.

To be honest I was assured that I would grow out of the skin problems by the time I was 15, 35 years later and I'm still waiting.

Off to the chemist to get the prescription and then home with the medicines and time to apply them, the cream helped out my hands and the emollient seemed to work on some of the dry patches on my face.

But, after about a week, most of the top layer of skin had started to peel off my hands and I was getting rashes all over the place, so it was back to the doctors who said "that looks nasty, have some steroid tablets".

So I started on them with some antihistamines to stop the itching and in the last day of the tablets had not really got any better. Back to the doctors, more steroids and then off home.

Almost a week later and my hands are starting to look almost human now but the rashes are getting no better and I'm now starting to reduce the steroid intake. We had been wracking our brains trying to work out what had changed in our lifestyle that would have had the effect of bringing me out in huge red blotches, the washing powder and stuff was the same, the water was pretty good, so we decided it had to be Runcorn.

Then, there came the moment of clarity, most men do their best bit of thinking while sitting on the toilet. I had not slept much the night before due to the amount of itchiness and having had some coffee nature summoned me. I t was while I was sitting down increasing my Brownian motion that I realised that my legs were fairly clear, but my torso, arms and neck were really bad. The only thing in common was the increased use of the emollient in these areas.

A further search on Goggle seems to show that other people have suffered with the same problem and so quick shower using un perfumed soap was carried out and at the moment the itchiness has subsided and the red bits aren't quite as red as they have been.

It seems that I am allergic to the stuff that was given to me to help me alleviate my dry skin and have ended up taking steroid tablets to counteract the effect.

What I would like to know is:
If I take my car to a garage for a repair and it doesn't fix the fault, I can get it re-re-repaired under warranty. If I fix a computer and it goes wrong again, I repair it under warranty. Why can't this apply to a doctors diagnosis too?

Yours, rather itchingly.