Trying to cut through the crazy rules

IS it just me, or is the world we are living in getting crazier and crazier? What prompts this question is not one odd happening but several. Did you hear the one about the elderly Tory district councillor in Kent and the union official who met up at a wo

IS it just me, or is the world we are living in getting crazier and crazier?

What prompts this question is not one odd happening but several.

Did you hear the one about the elderly Tory district councillor in Kent and the union official who met up at a workplace tribunal, which sounds like a serious business?

Perhaps to lighten the mood, the politician told the union man a joke about a man who walked into a Dublin bar and saw a friend called Paddy sitting with an empty glass. He asked if he could buy him another and the friend replied: "Now what would I be wanting with another empty glass?"


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To my mind, it is an innocent bit of froth which made me laugh but the union man saw it differently. He said it was a racist Irish joke and complained. The matter was referred to Acas, the conciliation service, and it was reported that in a private settlement the union man was believed to have been awarded several thousand pounds compensation, some from the councillor and the rest from his council.

More bizarre than this was the news item about the hairdresser from down-to-earth Blackburn who for 40 years had been taking home swept-up clippings from his salon and putting them on his compost heap.

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He was quoted as saying that every environmental body recognised that human hair was fantastic compostable material. And he added: "It's very biodegradable."

But his local council took a different view. These town hall twerps told him he was breaking the law because the discarded locks are classified as trade waste.

They banned him from taking the hair home. Instead, they forced him to fork out �100 for trade waste sacks which are then collected from outside his salon to be transported to a landfill site for emptying.

It's not surprising that bureaucracy can often make you tear your hair out.

Still on the subject of politicians, I note that charities are continuing to create a song and dance about a bit of government legislation due to come into force soon but I fear that the chilling Lord Mandelson will turn a deaf ear to their pleas.

The charities have asked the noble lord to reverse a decision to charge all charities up to �20m more a year in royalty fees to play music. This is on top of charges they already have to pay to one licensing body.

Charities that hold fundraising discos, tea dances, drop-in sessions or youth clubs with music in the background or even have volunteers listening to the radio while they sort clothes in the back of a charity shop would need to pay a second body for an annual licence for each individual building or shop.

Come on, Lord Mandelson, give them a break and scrap the idea before it's too late. I'm sure you've got more pressing things to worry about than this.

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