Intelligent Finance? I think not.


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I’m an IF customer, have been for 15 years (attracted by their offset mortgage which is the gift that keeps on giving) however one thing that really REALLY annoys me is that when I phone them I use the phone number on their website 0845 609 4343.

Except I always forget and am reminded by a message when I dial that number that it was changed (I’d say, conservatively, 3 years ago) to 0345 609 4343,.

I call infrequently, but every time I do I ask them how they can’t put their own phone number on their website correctly.

“Yes we know and we’ve asked for it to be changed” weary phone operators sigh.

“Yes, but you are called Intelligent Finance”  I always reply, frankly only irritating them more.

“Surely this is a very straightforward IT task to change?”

“Yes, we’d have thought so and we keep bringing it up but nobody does anything.”  Is the common battle-hardened response.

Sometimes I make a formal complaint so that it will be ‘escalated’.

It makes no difference.

Intelligent Finance remain, in my view, exceptionally unintelligent in this very, very simple administrative requirement.

For complainers like me it too remains the gift that keeps on giving.  I’ll be sad in away when and IF they ever change it.

By the way, they also don’t recognise Apple Pay and they don’t have contactless.  For a bank called Intelligent Finance I also find this surprising.

Why Damien Hirst may be the most important artist of a generation.


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The critics (generally) loathe Damien Hirst.  They despise his art ‘factory’  They don’t like his populist approach to creating art.

They see him as an arrogant upstart with a pop sensibility.

They mistrust his popularity among ‘consumers’.

I love him.

And I love him even more having made a trip to Venice specially to see his “Treasures from the Wreck of the Unbelievable.”

It’s a massive piss take on an incomprehensible scale. (194 pieces created by 250 craftspeople in 5 countries)

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As the show notes state (all a lie) in 2008 a vast wreckage was discovered off the coast of East Africa.  A wealthy ex slave, Cif Amotan II, (an anagram of I am a fiction) accumulated a vast collection of artefacts the length and breadth of the ancient world (oh, and Disney).  The treasures were brought together on board a ship called the Apisos (translated from Koine Greek as the ‘Unbelievable‘) destined for a purpose built temple the ship sank in the Indian Ocean and lay there for two thousand years before being discovered in 2008.

Many of the pieces (prior to ‘restoration’) are encrusted in barnacles, corals and other marine life.

The show opens with a video of the plundering of the ship’s contents (in actual fact these are Hirst’s creations dropped onto the seabed for immediate recovery.  It’s all staged.)

Set in two massive palaces (the Palazzo Grassi and the Punto Della Dogana) you are met in the colossal atrium of Palazzo Grassi by the show’s spectacular centrepiece Demon with a bowl.  

It stands 18 metres tall and although it’s made of Resin it appears to be bronze.

Your jaw literally drops.

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Then begins the journey.

Most of the pieces are cast in bronze with painted coral and underwater flora and fauna.  Some of these are simply breathtaking in their beauty.  But there are also pieces made from Jade, Malachite, Gold, Silver, Cararra and Pink marble,

Here we go…

Piss take #1.  How exactly did this appear on the floor of the Indian Ocean in 100 AD?

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This is stunning.

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I mean, at auction these pieces will sell for millions (individually).

This piece is called Andromeda and the Sea Monster and measures 4 metres by 6 metres and is made entirely of bronze.

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It’s mind boggling.

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This is kind of Goofy. (Piss take #3).

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Now he’s taking the Mickey…

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…and here it is being ‘recovered’.

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Just beautiful.

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And again.  (It’s Kate Moss.)

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Unknown Pharaoh in Blue Granite, Gold and white agate.

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Huge.

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Did the Ancient Egyptians wear nipple rings?  I suspect not.

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Two mummies.

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Piss take #4. Look closely.

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Sphynx.

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Nice boobs.

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Piss take #5.  Beautiful Pink Marble torso…

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…but look at the back of it…

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And here’s ‘the collector’

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Look at the detailing in this.

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It’s miraculous, profound, beautiful, funny and the art critics can talk a walk.

Go see it.

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Retina Festival 2017. (Celebrating photography at its very best)


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Get yourself along to Ocean Terminal in Leith to view the outstanding Emerging Talent show at the Image Collective Gallery on the top floor.

Retina is in its fourth year and over that period it has done more to showcase great photography in Scotland than just about anybody else.

This year is no different.  Indeed next Tuesday sees the opening of the Association of Photographers 2016 Photography Awards Show at Out of the Blue.

And there’s a great show by Hellen Van Meene and Bryn Griffiths at Summerhall until the 15th July.

But last night was about the newbies and I had the great pleasure of talking to two of them.  Both delightful human beings. Rod Penn

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In particular we had a long chat with Suzanne whose architectural series called Ethereal Industry multi layers images of beautiful industrial and agricultural units to creat a ghostly world of weird but truly beautiful structures.  She rightly won a BIPP award for this collection.

It’s brilliant.

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Edinburgh Airport named fifth worst in World by AirHelp. Now that’s just ridiculous.


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I have been in some shiteheap airports in my time.

Most recently Berlin (a toilet).

CDG in Paris is shite.

Stanstead was great once but is now declining.  Gatwick is a shithole.

Deau’ville near Paris is a disgrace.

Pisa is disgusting.

So for the pristine, efficient, well managed and well stocked with retail and food/drink outlets to be named fifth worst in the world by Airhelp defies belief.

Edinburgh Airport is superb.  This survey is deeply flawed.

 

 

 

A better denunciation of the most powerful man in the world than I could ever write.


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“The man in the white house sits, naked and obscene, a pustule of ego, in the harsh light, a man whose grasp exceeded his understanding, because his understanding was dulled by indulgence.”

Thus speaks Rebecca Solnit in her piece in The Literary Hub that completely destroys Donald Trump with her pen.  The central theme of her piece is the old Russian (ironic, huh) fable of the old man and the Golden Fish.  It is a beautiful fable with a strong moral.

But Donald Trump is not the old man.  He is the greedy, vile, egotistical wife whose desire for power has no end.

This is a long, dense but completely compelling piece.

I hope it predicts the downfall of an evil dictator-to-be.

Schadenfreude, were it to have been invented in Roman times, would probably be one of the 8 vices.

But you know what I can cope with that.

Completely remarkable writing and thank you to Dan Rebellato for sharing it on Twitter.

Read it here.

The Freddo investment paradigm.


Today Cadbury owners Mondelez announced that the price of a Freddo Bar is to rise by 20%.  The price hike is being blamed on the rise in the pound in the wake of Britain’s farcical Brexit decision.

A spokesperson for Mondelez said in defence of the move; “Increasing prices is always a last resort, but to ensure we can keep people’s favourite brands on shelf and look after the 4,500 people we employ in the UK, we are having to make some selective price increases across our range.”

But this is a fabrication of Trumplike proportions as research by Think Hard has unearthed this startling graph that shows Freddos have been bankrolling Mondelez for years.

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(Source: Vouchercloud)

This startling revelation, unearthed in July 2016, revealed that the cost of a Freddo had outstripped inflation by almost 200% making it a massively lucrative investment.  Indeed, in the period Jan 2000 to July 2015 the FTSE100 had risen by a mere 9% making a Freddo 17 times more effective as an investment than stocks like RBS, Lloyds Banking Group and Ratners.

So it’s even more shocking to see that this 150% rise in value is to be ramped up to a return of 200% when Mondelez and Cadbury get their greedy fingers on the chocolate Rana Temporaria.

It’s clear that investment returns on the Freddo will be anything but temporaria.

Think Hard rating: BUY in large quantities immediately.