The Way I See It

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IS IT really February already? Since we are now a month into the New Year, I figured I’d have a crack at predicting a few things to happen in 2014. I’m no Mystic Meg, so don’t be running off to the bookmakers and putting your wages on any of my prophecies, but here goes!

Sporting fans are spoilt for choice this year, and right now the Winter Olympics are getting under way in Sochi, while the 6 Nations started last weekend, albeit with a defeat for Scotland in Dublin. In the summer, some of the world’s finest athletes, minus a few crowd-pleasers, will be competing in Glasgow at the Commonwealth Games. And, of course, there’s the small matter of the holy grail of international football, the World Cup, which will be up for grabs in Brazil. Sadly but somewhat predictably, Scotland will not be part of football’s showpiece event. However, if you’re looking for someone to follow other than the opponents of the auld enemy, England, why not get in tune with the samba beat as the host nation sweep all before them to lift the coveted trophy. Why Brazil you ask? Well, their mightily impressive home record in having never lost a competitive fixture at home since the early 1970s was what swayed it for me. Although the current Brazilian side doesn’t consist of the same crop of legendary players of generations gone by, home advantage will be decisive. Germany will run them close (they’re never far away are they?), but remember no European side has won the World Cup on another continent.

What else is on the horizon for 2014? Thankfully, we may see the end of the dreadful self-service checkouts which are in place in stores country-wide, and are reckoned to cost retailers £1.5billion every year. In fact, a recent survey revealed that one in five shoppers admitted to stealing goods at self-scan machines. Petty theft aside and adding more weight to the case to ditch the self-service checkouts, most consumers think that rather than these machines shortening waiting times they are making queues even longer. This is due to such things as malfunctions and waiting on staff to come and help when things don’t go according to plan. Humans one, machines nil.

My third and final prediction is the abolition of the loathsome ‘Bedroom Tax’, at the very least in Scotland anyway. This ill-thought-out legislation, which has had a severe impact on the most vulnerable people, is on its way out. The wheels are already in motion for the Scottish Government to cover the costs of housing benefit cuts. Cuts which rather than save money, have only succeeding in driving people to despair and, ironically, ended up costing the government more because families struggling to meet the terms of the housing benefit reforms have been subsidised by the Scottish Government to the tune of £20million.

That’s all this week, folks. But remember the next time you see a Bet365 commercial and telly hard-nut Ray Winstone starts offering up the odds on Tesco’s removing all their self-scan checkouts, you heard it here first!

Enjoy your weekend folks.

–DARREN MURPHY