Friday, March 23, 2007

The Budget and Mrs Beeton

So, was there any point in the 2% cut in the basic rate of income tax to 20%? I've been doing sums, with the help of this thing, and I think, if anything, I'll be slightly worse off next year (and my Council Tax bill for next year came this week too! Grrrrr). Thank you Gordon. I think scrapping the 10p rate was a really bad move as the people it will affect the most are the worst off already (and I'm not convinced that tax credits will make up the difference because that system is so cocked up I'm surprised anyone ever manages to get anything). I can cope with more duty of petrol etc, and personally think gas guzzlers should have *much* more road tax than they have at the moment, but with farmers and anyone who has to drive one for work (genuinely for work, as in you work halfway up a mountain) exempt or taxed at a lower rate.
And I don't think he's been very nice to small businesses, which includes every yarn shop I can think of, which can only be bad news.

But things I like about the Budget are the funny pictures of him standing there with that battered red briefcase (how antiquated is that) and watching him work his way through that MASSIVE pile of A4 paper (what happens if it all slides off? Imagine if there was a sudden gust of wind and it all went flying?!).

But on a more interesting note, I've just finished reading "The short life and long times of Mrs Beeton" by Kathryn Hughes. I read her biography of George Eliot (George Eliot: the last Victorian) a few years ago, but didn't enjoy that as much as I enjoyed this. This is much more than a biography of Mrs Beeton, more of an account of the Beeton "brand" because Mrs Beeton herself only lived for a very short time. It is highly entertaining, as it turns out she probably couldn't really cook at all, and most of the recipes were taken from other earlier sources. I enjoyed the insights into diet and foot in 19th century England, the changes in meals as people began to commute into London and could no longer have lunch/dinner/mid-day meal as their main meal of the day. People no longer knew where their food came from as more and more went to live in the towns and bought from greengrocers and bakers instead of direct from the farmer, and the quality of food was a particular concern as much was contaminated. Some of these issues sounded very like modern concerns about food traceability and the return to buying directly from farmers via farm shops and box schemes! I also had no idea that, after her death, a magazine published by her husband, the Englishwoman's Domestic Magazine, went into soft porn (not exactly fitting in with Beeton's wholesome image). All in all a most entertaining read! And has anyone tried boiling carrots for an hour and a half? I can't imagine anything more revolting...

Has anyone been watching the ITV Austen Season on Sunday evenings? I really enjoyed Northanger Abbey last night, more than Mansfield Park last week (which seemed too short to really get to know the characters). And Rupert Penry-Jones is in Persuasion next Sunday. PHWWWWOOOOAAAARRRRR!!

15 comments:

Anne said...

I watched the first half of Northanger Abbey (and recorded the 2nd half, but haven't had the chance to watch it yet.) It was sooooooo much better than Mansfield Park - I really like Billie Piper as an actress, but she just doesn't suit Fanny (nowhere near wet enough) - and the part didn't really give her the chance to act.

But the way they hammed up Northanger Abbey - fabulous!

Kat said...

Here here! Out with Gordon! BAH!

dreamcatcher said...

I liked Mansfield Park, and have ended up ordering the DVDs of Emma, Persuasion and Northanger Abbey! They are out the day after broadcast, as we found when we spotted MP in WH Smith last week. Looking forward to seeing all of them over Easter, good to hear NA was enjoyable.

Steph said...

Useful calculator - thanks for the link!

knihovnik2000 said...

"I'm not convinced that tax credits will make up the difference because that system is so cocked up I'm surprised anyone ever manages to get anything"

You're surely not surprised by this? I reckon the system's deliberately complicated to put you off applying. The Gord giveth with one hand and taketh away with the other, as they say. Despite the "cut" in base rate, I reckon there's probably more taking than giving going on - and from the wrong groups in society.

On a lighter note, Guido has an interesting video of the good chancellor at PMQs before giving the budget speach... the Bogey man cometh ;-)

Mary Anne said...

We have similar issues with tax credits here in Canada.

Thanks for the link to the Mrs. Beeton book and the insights into her life.

Sue H said...

The tax system in Britain has been buggered for years, and just keeps getting worse. That was one of the reasons my parents migrated to Australia. Now however, the tax system here is on a downward spiral, and it's the lower socio-economic sector that is hit the hardest while the more wealthy laugh all the way to the bank. GRRRRRRRR.

artyfartykat said...

I haven't watched Northanger Abbey yet, but was disappointed with Mansfield Park.
It seems strange that Mrs Beeton raised the same issues with food that we are raising today! So much for progress!

nanatoo said...

Make that noise again,that was good ;)

"boiling carrots for an hour and a half?" Yep, that's my MIL ;)

Rain said...

I saw the docudrama on Mrs B that was on last year and was fascinated by her. I'll definitely look out for that book.

I've enjoyed the JA season so far, but do feel that I got more from the BBC radio versions as they weren't as rushed.

Cat said...

I thought that about Mansfield Park - I think it's just too complex for it to totally work when squished into a couple of hours. Northanger Abbey definitely worked better, but then it's shorter and maybe a simpler book. Great to see a season focusing on the less frequently filmed Austens, too. And yes, Rupert Penry-Jones - yum!

angie Cox said...

I really like "Northanger Abbey" despite not being a fan of Jane . It was a treat to have any costume drama. Does anyone remember two clips from French and Saunders of a lady in costume going into a corner shop and asking to have her Mars bar wrapped and sent to her home , then standing helpless by a puddle hoping to be carried over? I look forward to "Persuasion"

Webbo said...

I really enjoyed Hughes's Eliot book and want to read the Beeton one. Did you see the BBC drama based on the Mrs Beeton biography? It was really well done and rather heartbreaking - I had no idea about her private life until I saw it and like you say, it's a surprising one and sad too.

Sue H said...

Happy Easter Katie.

Iris said...

I seem to have missed the entire Austen season... Thankfully one of my friends has taped it all so I will be able to catch up!

Also, the Beeton book sounds interesting. I've been trying to move away from my PhD research ever so slightly, but I feel tempted to read it anyway. :-)