Thursday, 7 January 2021

A Crab's Tale

 So there me and my mate, Paul, were scavenging along the bottom of Loch Fyne, as per, when we espied a nice bit of rotten mackerel sitting doing not much. So after a bit of a kerfuffle with some dumped fishing gear we tuck in heartily. We are having a post postprandial nap when, with out a bye your leave, we are heading towards the surface at a rate of knots.

This human then kindly releases us from the fishing gear, measures us up for a new suit and decides Paul mustn't need one and lobs him back, while for some reason he puts rubber bands on my claws and plonks me in a bin with lots of strangers. Needless to say we are all giving each other weird looks and as usual some nutter is waving her claws about claiming its the end of the world and we are all doomed to the great cooking pot in the sky. My old Gran used to go on about that as well until, one day, she just disappeared. The tone of the place dropped when a lobster dropped in beside us, I mean you can't trust those over grown shrimps, can you? They makes my exoskeleton shiver, they does.

Must have been about half a tide later, usually when Paul and me are loitering around Ottier Ferry looking for the girls, that we get another shift into a bigger bin which, at least, has some sea in it. It gets a bit crowded after a while but at least that lobster's gone. Some lads have decided to start an escape committee as they are starting to think the nutter crab is right, for once, so pile one on top of the other. Just when they are about to succeed some one in the bottom layer has to scratch his backside, as per, and down they all fall.

Then a human puts a lid on us and there is a bit of shoogling and banging and we're on the move again, some of the lads get land sick, not I good sign thinks I. Another couple of tides and we stop. Some human opens the top and we are all hoping for some nosh but zip, nada and to be honest we could do with a tidal run as, not to put to fine a point, on it the water is now honking. I mean all those lads and lasses cramped up in a small space, what would you expect.

We can hear human's shouting angrily at each other but as I don't savvy human its is all haddock to me.

Another tide or two and the water in the bin is now truly reeking, crabs are struggling to get their breath, some are saying the cooking pot in the sky would be better than this, others have just given up. We could have had a good snack on those, the rest of us, but no chance with these bleeding bands on our claws.

Eventually the humans dump the dead, the dying and the living in this big pit, I have a quick look round but there is no sea I can sense anywhere near.

I am just wiggling free to make a run for it when wham, a load of rotting Langoustines land on my head and, well, that was me kippered.

The one human phrase that stuck in my mind as I died was "F in Brexit" or something like that, which they were all shouting.

Saturday, 2 January 2021

Brexit; The reality

 A guid new year tae ane an aa and we surely live in interesting times!

I have been struck how all the gammons and yoons on line and in the UK media are still trying to make a silk purse out of a sow's ear. Their cries of taking sovereignty back seek to hide all the things they did not think of in their rush to get out of the EU to save the City of London's status as a world centre for tax avoidance and money laundering.

One of the things no one seemed to notice is leaving the EU removes us from the European Postal Union. As most of us rarely post things you are well within your rights to say, "So?".

If you are running a business that relies on sending your goods to customers in Europe you could previously negotiate a bulk rate at around £13.50 a kg from the Post Office. As of the 1st January, with the UK now outside the EU Postal Union you are looking at £30 per kg to cover all the additional costs incurred by the Post Office. That is a fair dent in the gross profit margin your company or small business is taking and a major impairment on cash flow. This could well be a hit a small business can not take or company accountants will not be willing to take. In effect a loss of their export market to the EU countries.

I am used to flying into Europe and simply walking out to a taxi or train to take me where I am going. The reality is I now face visa delays at passport control as a "non EU Citizen". I will be delayed to ensure I have health insurance for my stay or a "green card" if I am going to hire a car, I may have to demonstrate I have enough capital to cover my expected stay and an address at which I am staying; all fairly normal requirements for an entry visa in most countries. When I travel to Japan or Nepal this takes a minimum of 15 minutes even before you get anywhere near passport control who will shift you to the back of the queue if there is the slightest error in the visa application.

As a business man, instead of being able to plan my visit to be at a meeting in time, I now have to think about traveling a day before at additional cost to my company. No more red eye flight from Edinburgh to Schipol for a meeting in Amsterdam at 1100 and back by teatime the same day.

I have relations in Northern Ireland but as yet I have no solid information of what are the requirements in terms of passport control. Do I apply for an EU visa and ensure I have a green card so I can take my grandson to Dublin Zoo about an hour or so from where they stay in Northern Ireland. Will Stena or P&O stop sailings to Northern Ireland from Loch Ryan as traffic shifts to Roselaire / Cherbourg - HGV's are the route's bed and butter.

Even though many folk in D&G whine about the state of the A75 and the need to dual it from Stranrear to Gretna, the drop off in traffic could make this moot and, with it, the knock effect to all the small businesses that, one way or another, service the HGV's traversing D&G from Gretna to Stranrear.

I wonder how haulage firms, like Coultards, in D&G will look on rigs being stuck for 24 hours on the old Castle Kennedy airfield for custom's checks and clearance, there is a serious cost to them of a rig sitting still, not earning, or for a contract driver not doing the "miles" they rely on to be paid.

All this even before considering the loss of markets in France and Spain for live shellfish and fresh fish from Scottish producers. We know what a delay either for the Euro Tunnel or at Dover cost for these exporters, the loss of around £5 million of product due to delays, just before Christmas 2020. As for the potential purchasers of live shellfish, in France and Spain, will they now find more reliable supplies as the Dover delay will have cost them lost income and loss of confidence in the ability of Scottish producers to supply these goods in prime condition.

No matter where I look, Brexit is a major disaster for SME's who have been supplying goods to the EU. There is no sector which will not be badly hit by increased costs and potential custom delays.

I could write another 1,000 words on the impact on health and care services through the loss of EU personnel under the not so pretty, Priti Patel"s immigration laws. Immigration Laws which would have not let her parents into the UK as Ugandan Asian refugees.

Usually I seek at least a bit of sardonic humour to leaven this dry bread but not today. Today I look at an impending wasteland of destroyed SME's across Scotland via a deal we did not vote for, agree to or wanted.