21 January 2011 (Friday) - Assorted Stuff

The news had something of interest today. The TV channel “Dave” is making a new series of the cult sci-fi comedy “Red Dwarf”. There were a special three episodes of the show made over Easter in 2009 – I use the word “special” inappropriately because those episodes weren’t special. They were rather mediocre actually. I watched those new episodes on April 13th 2009, and at the time I commented “…and I was vaguely disappointed. I can’t help but think that over eight seasons, the whole premise of the show had been done to death. Last night’s special was obviously just trying to milk more money out of a tired formula. …. “Red Dwarf – Back To Earth” was OK, but I’d seen it all before. There was nothing new or original about the thing - it was just yet another tired re-make. It speaks volumes that the second episode on Saturday got less than half the viewing figures that the first episode on Friday got.
Don’t get me wrong – I liked Red Dwarf when it first came out – and the first few seasons were good. But there are only so many jokes you can get from any formula before it becomes tired. And to be blunt, Red Dwarf was milked dry about three seasons before the BBC realised that.
But the show is coming back next year. I’m hoping for the best, but expecting the worst.

And the news had something which made me think. Baroness Warsi is concerned that anti-Muslim feeling is rife in the UK. I must admit that when I hear the word “Muslim” I can’t help having a sinking feeling and wondering “now what are they up to?”. But why do I feel like that? On reflection, all the Muslims I’ve ever met have all been decent and good people. Some of my students at work were (and are) Muslims and I’ll not hear a word against them. So why do I feel so negative to Muslims in general? I’ve given the matter some thought, and I blame the BBC. After all the BBC is the source of most of my news, and there’s usually one article a day painting Muslims in a bad light. I’m afraid that years of listening to the Beeb might have affected my judgement.

Somewhere else where my judgement may be awry is in my location. Specifically in that I was playing with the sat-nav on my mobile phone the other day, and posted my address up on Facebook.  Several good friends have suggested that it was a daft thing to do; friends whose opinions I value.
So I’ve been thinking about this. Is where I live such a secret? I played around on the net. I found my address listed on several web sites including lookuppeople.co.uk, 192.com and the electoral register within a couple of minutes (admittedly the electoral register cost me a few pence). So my address is a matter of public record. But that proves nothing – I suppose my name appears on those searches because somewhere along the line I ticked (or did not tick) a box to allow this to happen.
The initial point remains valid. Should I be wary about revealing where I live? I can see that for some professionals (teachers, policeman, etc) this might be advisable. I suppose that if I were to use the feature on the sat-nav regularly then some pattern might emerge – and I can also see that advertising when I’m not home might be daft, being an open invitation to burglary. But then what with two adult children (and their associated entourages) coming and going, the house is rarely (if ever) empty for any length of time.
Am I being daft in pinging where I am to the world? I don’t really know. So I shall err on the side of caution and remove the Facebook post and not do so again (very often!)

Being on another late start gave me time to worry over mortgage paperwork. Yesterday I spoke with someone at the building society. As the day wore on, I didn’t think that he’d told me the right information, so I got out all the records I could find. The chap I’d spoken to yesterday had overlooked we’d added ten thousand pounds onto our mortgage when we moved house in 1991. So we are going to be rather further in the red than we thought. Or we would have been, left to our original advice. Thanks to our own disaster limitation policy taken out a few years back we will be in the black; just not quite as much as I would have liked.

To any of my loyal readers who are considering taking out a mortgage, please learn from my mistake and don’t get an endowment one. Far from being the nice little earner that was promised, it only managed to cover about 80% of the minimum we expected from it…


  1. We too have an endowment mortgage (due to mature in 4years) and the insurance company regularly send me red letters warning of a shortfall. However due to good advice from my independent financial advisor, when we last shifted the mortgage we downsized the endowment part by £30k meaning even with the shortfall we should get a little bit of cash, and by holding the level of our payments whilst interest rates dropped we have cleared the repayment part early.

  2. We had two endowments at one point. I did some calculations and worked out we'd been in the 80% situation in about 2020 if nothing else changed, so in 2003 when we moved to our current house we cashed in and switched to a repayment tracker. Couldn't have worked out better with the collapse in interest rates. Hopefully pay the mortgage off years early...

  3. We have also got an endowment taken out in 95.
    Every time I get a letter it tells me I'm in the green zone, with no short fall.
    but when I phone them to get exact figures they get cagey.
    I won't worry about it, yet.