Posts Tagged ‘Electricity’

1864 Denmark. ABC, SBS and Coen Brothers.

November 19, 2018


A hair-raising selfie around 1942 in Rotterdam

The Australian Broadcasting Commission or better known as ABC together with SBS are under threat by our Government. We all know they are obsessed by selling and privatising everything that’s not bolted to the floor. We know that since electricity was considered a saleable commodity and privatised, costs have blown out. Paying the electricity bill for many people is now a nightmare and fear driven. Many switch off power unable to afford it. Yet, we all use the same electricity coming down from all those poles and wires. The advice lately is for consumers to ‘negotiate’ the best deal with the myriad of companies that are re-selling electricity. The mind boggles. It is possible to save hundreds of dollars by doing that. How ridiculous a proposal that is! Are we supposed to ring around to get a good deal? What next? Negotiate our water, garbage disposal. Have you ever tried contacting an AGL or other electricity provider? You get a call centre from Shri-Lanka!

I can’t think of a single utility that the Governments has sold that actually brought better and cheaper services. The holy grail of ‘let the markets decide all’ works marvellously for shareholders and big end of town, but not for the consumers. Aged care, hospitals, education, post services, un-employment services, child-care, you name it. All are now inferior in their service delivery. Australia has one of the most unequal education systems in the world. The copying of England’s private school method has proven to have had disastrous consequences. Our education system is called a ‘A national calamity’.–report/257471

The people of Australia at present own ABC and SBS radio and TV and are the last of the Mohicans that give pleasure to millions, and it is free from commercialisation. True, SBS does have advertising but it also provides all those programs available on Smart TVs and ‘On Demand’. This is what we now look forward to. However, our present ‘Market and US’ copying driven Government is getting increasingly stroppy with the ABC, which is seen by the present Liberal Government as biased and critical. Both the Chairman and Managing Director have been sacked. The fear now is that the position will be filled with Pro- Government stooges. Funding is being cut and all is set to sell the ABC and get the Murdoch’s News Media with Bolt and Alan Jones.

But, as I started this piece. SBS ‘On Demand’ has give us many evenings of great TV watching. We have seen 4 episodes of the 8 series of a marvellous TV series named; 1864 Denmark War.

What I like about most of the Scandinavian series is the naturalness of their actors. They  look like normal people. None of that made up perfect looking actors so often featured on English/American speaking TV drama series. The American Coen brothers have made another movie. The Ballad of Buster Scruggs.

I can’t wait to see it. They are one of our most favourite film makers. One of their previous movie, ‘No country for old men’ is superb. But, on TV the foreign mainly Scandic series are my favourite with English subtitles. It’s so much better than studying power bills.


The joy of paying Bills

February 5, 2015


We have as yet not fallen prey to our bills being paid without us being responsible for the act of actually paying them. I know that there are all sorts of Bpay and automatic Credit Card deductions but I like to be in control of getting fleeced, not vice versa. Those that get their wallets emptied automatically don’t understand the joy and satisfaction of going to the bank, withdraw the cash and then with bill and loot clutched in hand, walk to the Post Office, get the bill scanned and hand over the cash. A great feeling of achievement. It keeps us fit. We often combine a Milo walk with bill paying.

Today we paid the quarterly Municipal Rates. I received the bill by post yesterday and, as is my wont, could not get it paid quick enough. I hate unpaid bills, probably dating back to my days after arrival in Australia. My parents worst fears were not able to meet payment of bills. I remember mother buying an electric fry-pan on ‘easy terms’. She worried herself sick of getting into debt though, even about a fry-pan very necessary for cooking the daily meal. Now fry-pans end up on the side-walk, flung out without even having seen a garlic prawn or rhubarb crumble. So much waste, I would not be surprised to see fry pans chucked out in the future holding the prawns and rhubarb crumble.

The paid bills end up in a metal cream powder coated filing cabinet I bought many years ago. They have those sliding drawers which hold Manila folders suspended on a framework. I have lost the key long time ago. There is a section that denotes by stickers ‘Council Rates’, another Electricity and Gas, yet another ‘Social security and Pension’, Passports, Birth certificates, School diplomas (very few) etc. I now combine filing each new paid bill with chucking two old paid bills. I started doing this about a couple of years ago. Why keep on storing old bills? Not a premonition or anything dire but even bill paying and storing old bills will come to an end, it always does. Even to the best of us.

I am now back to the future at 2012 with my gas and electricity bills and at a surprising 2013 with Municipal Rates. Logic has it that I’ll get to the present state if I last the time but also continue to be able to keep paying our bills. It is a neck on neck race. I am very proud of this innovative method and am at the same time ‘clearing the deck’, not expecting Helvi or kids to clean away grand-dads obsession with filing of paid bills. They’ll all might otherwise end up in thick bundles of dusty and forgotten remnants of a sort of life well lived, mementoes of dues paid in time, together with socks, assortment of creams and ointments, strings and some screwdrivers, electric drill and tooth brush. Of course H could well survive me. Even then it is reassuring there will be less paid bills to be put in the yellow lidded re-cycling bin put out fortnightly on Wednesdays.

On the grave a simple epitaph; here lies a man who paid his bills on time. ( keep off the grass)

The times are a changing.

March 2, 2012

The rains are not as rare as they were just a couple of years ago. It’s one of those lovely truths that are real.

If you stand outside and it rains, you’ll get wet. Try and disprove that, and you’ll come up against a fairly formidable body of dissent.

But irrefutable truths are becoming rarer these days. It is strange that everything seems to be in flux and that truth changes so often. It is not as solid as I first thought. Let me give you an example.

I go to bed having sorted something out. It might be something as insignificant as planning to pay the gas bill the next day. I fall asleep with yet another pleasant intention, a man of action after all.

The next morning all that resolve may be gone. You just feel different, and anyway, it is not a good gas-bill-paying day. It’s more than that. Ecouter svp. The truth of the evening before has changed. Why, and how?

One of the latest truths to change is that I always thought that the benefits of our domestic utilities were grounded in a solid unmovable truth. All gas and all electricity comes through the same cables and pipes. The cost of which depends greatly on usage and, (I foolishly believed) we are all charged the same.

If I see a nice suit in a shop I pay the price that is on it. If someone else wants the same suit as well, he pays the same as me. So far so good, but it is not so the case with gas and electricity. Even though my electricity and gas are the same type as my neighbour’s, the bill might be quite different.

Soon after moving here we had a knock on the door (not the dreaded midnight knock) and a young man told us the calamitous news that the gas and electricity company we belonged to had been privatised and we should, with some urgency, change over to another more stable and cheaper company.

He was a nice young man and seemed earnest. His brown eyes had a kind of pleading look and he even had taken his shoes off. People in socks have vulnerability about them. You feel they must be honest and sincere although the link between not wearing shoes and those attributes are difficult to prove if proving you must.

We quickly and assiduously changed over to the more reliable and more solid company with a well-known and trusted name that had withstood the ravages of time and, most importantly, the scourge of modern life ‘privatisation’. We were fortunate for this young man to have knocked on our door. Just in the nick of time.

It’s a difficult life for those unable to ‘let go’. ‘Letting go’ is one of those sociological popular phrases that has taken the world by storm. Only last year everyone was busy with forming ‘new paradigms’. We felt snug and above it all, but alas, as always, we grew tired of it and it soon wore off, we live in such an ever-changing ruthless Google world. It is so hard to keep up with the latest but ‘letting go’ might well give us an answer for a momentary survival in this neck breaking and speed obsessed life.

Please let me continue.

Six months after we changed over to the new gas and electricity provider, we had yet another young man on our doorstep, who convinced us that the latest company we signed with had now been ‘overtaken’ by a foreign company and was now out of the hands of Australia. Our future bills would be at the mercy of Taiwan. We would soon be charged with even higher prices. He had also taken off his shoes and had also the look of being so earnest together with hints of an entrepreneurial aura.

‘What the heck,’ we thought and changed over to yet another utility provider with yet more pensioner discounts and cheaper rates per cubic metre of gas.

Then we received a bill including a penalty of having broken our signed contract with the previous provider. We are now years behind financially. Unbelievably, we have just had another knock on the door – yet another friendly young man with brown pleading eyes and a solid-looking laminated name tag around his neck, with yet another earnest story about joining a truly ‘Aussie’ provider.

This is why my previous night’s resolve to pay the gas bill has evaporated. I am now having a little cry with a biscuit and cuppa. The gas bill will have to wait till after I learn ‘letting go’.

Gerard Oosterman is a word painter and blogger of tens of thousands of very wise and/or whimsical but hopefully amusing words. View his full profile here.