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Saturday, January 31, 2004

Good news. Ealing tax office accepted the return that was due in Stockton. ?100 saved.

In Stus post about the recent snow someone commented on the UK not having snow tyres. Whilst you rarely see chained tyres here if you look at your tyre walls where the size of your tyres are listed, you will see on some that this is followed by M + S. This stands for mud and snow and should give better grip.

Hands up all those who thought that was where the the tyres were bought from!

Friday, January 30, 2004

The good news is - The Tax Return is finished.

The bad news is - instead of it going to Ealing as normal when I drop it in by hand, this one has to go to Stockton-on-Tees.

The good news is - I'm claiming back from them this year.

The bad news is - it will be offset against my arrears.

The good news is - if I've made a mistake with the calculations they won't be at all surprised.

The bad news is - That still won't stop them fining me!

Still never mind, the reduction in my arrears will still look good, and the £100 late charge as this won't arrive until Monday will just get lost amongst the many zeros of the arrears.

O.K., I haven't quite started on the tax return but I have spent a morning negotiating with the Woolwich about our mortgage arrears. We've come to an arrangement that will go before court on Monday and stop the repossession order that was going to be issued.

Of course, the agreement was the easy bit, paying for it is the harder part of the deal but with four orders in two days I'm feeling more optimistic than I have in a long time.

BTW, a lot of the stress/depression/debt stuff will now disappear from here as I've launched my other site. I'm mentioning it here now but not planning to link to the left for the time being. Gosh, I'm now a multiple personality blogger, it's all happening today.

This weeks Friday 5.

You have just won one million dollars:

1. Who do you call first?

My bank to have it converted into sterling! Assuming that's happened it will be either my Mum or Kev.

2. What is the first thing you buy for yourself?

I'm not certain, I suspect my brain might explode at the sheer number of possibilities, but probably either a car or a new laptop, both of which are desperately required.

3. What is the first thing you buy for someone else?

Probably a car for Kev, for when he gets his licence back or possibly the cruise for my mum that she has always wanted to go on.

4. Do you give any away? If yes, to whom?

Yes, but I'm not sure to whom other than a definite to G.O.S.H.

5. Do you invest any? If so, how?

Yes, of course, I have such a good track record of money management!!!! I'll try, honestly I will, I'll try.

You know there are people who, despite promising they'll do things earlier and stop procrastinating, always still leave things to the last possible moment?

Well you think about whether you know one of those people whilst I sit here and fill out my self-assessment form which is due in tomorrow morning latest.

Thursday, January 29, 2004

Thanks to Nick for starting me off on reading Robert Rankin. I once tried before but couldn't get into them but this time they've clicked. There's extra enjoyment in them as most are set around Brentford which starts not 100 yards from where I'm sat, so many of the places he mentions I know.

The first one I'm reading, (as I couldn't get no 1 of the "Brentford Triangle" 5 part trilogy), is Snuff Fiction, which propounds an interesting theory for any government to do away with income tax. Now I know this wouldn't work, but I can't quite see why. Anyway to paraphrase it slightly;

The government abolishes income tax.
You take £100 and go buy 10 bottles of whisky at £10 to celebrate.
The government gets about 80% of that in tax at present.
The off license owner takes his £20 and goes to buy petrol.
The government take about 85% of that in tax.
The petrol station owner takes his £3 and buys a cheap pack of cigarettes.
The government takes about 80% in tax.
Within a matter of hours the governemt has got hold of £99.40 of the £100.
But who's going to complain and vote them out, they abolished income tax and get elected for the next 50 years!

Now where am I going wrong, or should I return to my constituency and prepare for government.

Wednesday, January 28, 2004

I was talking with one of the women at a suppliers this morning when she confessed to a rather unusual gift/talent/party trick. She can smell the approach of snow! Like many of us who have arthritic joints she knows when it is going to rain, but she has the ability to do the same with the onset of snow showers a shortish time before.

It's not exactly a useful thing to possess, other than I should imagine if you can tell it is nearly starting you could win bets down the pub on "who can guess to the nearest minute" etc.

She says it smells a bit like smoke. I've never heard of this ability before. What would it be called? Niegemancy? Do you know anyone with the same ability or a similar talent?

Monday, January 26, 2004

I'm off out to pick up an order in a bit but when I come back I shall be trying to connect a CWF800 phone (no link as apparently it doesn't exist according to the internet) to a BT Response 75 answer machine, and then, assuming I manage
to get that far without personal injury, I shall attempt to connect all parts to the phone lines.

Make all your calls now! By 9 o'clock the entire telecommunication system may have gone into meltdown. Brian could be in for a busy night.

Saturday, January 24, 2004

What a strange people the British can be. The attitude that made us colonialists still seems to run through our political system.

If we forget whether the WMDs ever existed or not, I think most people agree that going into Iraq was about regime change. And like those generations before we are bringing with us the chance for Iraquis to better themselves with western democracy. Our politicians talk of how they will be responsible for running their own country and ask them to follow our example, but what sort of example are we showing them?

This week we had the Jenny Tonge incident where she has lost her Lib/Dem front bench position for voicing an opinion. Whether her views were right or wrong are immaterial to this post, and I do admire her for not backing down over what she said when there was probably a lot of pressure being put on her to do so. How do our politicians react as an example to all these emerging democracys? Like 9 year olds! It was a definite case of MPs on all sides jumping up and down and saying "Miss, Miss, Jenny said something naughty Miss! Tell her off, Miss, Miss Miss!

Our politicians feel they have the right to criticise nations where democracy has not developed as quickly as it might yet we have had centuries of it and yet we have hardly evolved from the playground.

Thursday, January 22, 2004

So now there's more trouble on Mars.

It's the little green men I tell you, it's the little green men!

So it's the start of The Year of the Monkey. This is supposed to be a lucky year for me as that is the very Chinese astrological sign that I was born under. Linda's a rat, but I'll say no more.

By this time next year we'll probably find out I'm living in a tree somewhere, earning peanuts and will probably have gone down with a surfeit of fleas.

Someone pass me a banana.

Wednesday, January 21, 2004

Through reading Lyles' site yesterday I suddenly realised how little fiction I read these days. So, having failed to find my library ticket, I went and re-joined. The first book I've gone for is Moving Pictures by Terry Pratchett. I've read a couple of his before and although I wouldn't say he's anywhere near my favourite author I fancied something humorous and I knew of this one in the series which I'd fancied reading before.

I have three other books out on loan but I'd be interested if anyone has any suggestions for good humorous fiction? I've read all of Tom Sharpes so we needn't bother with him.

Tuesday, January 20, 2004

I have an in-car charger for my IBM Thinkbrick Laptop, or at least I had one. Actually I have had two but that's neither here nor there. The connector to the cigarette lighter has an unfortunate habit, when plugged in for too long of starting to melt. Eventually this leads to the thing distorting to such a degree that it is impossible to stay where it's meant to.

Good old Maplins have new connectors for the terribly reasonable price of £1.99, inclusive of VAT. Even under my present pecuniary restrictions that is affordable, and thus I hied me to Kingston and bought one last week.

Having undone the existing unit I discovered that the wires were soldered to the terminals. This of course wasn't going to stop me, I'm resourceful, I'm desperate to have it working again and I was a Scout. Easily sorted, I just cut the wires off. Simple!

Not so simple was how to attach them to the new fitting. I have neither soldering iron nor the requisite skill to solder and I don't care how easy you tell me it is. There is nothing so easy in the DIY field that I can't balls it up completely. Luckily, the terminals have two small holes in the end and thus I stripped some of the wire back, no mean feat when you only have a pair of pincers and the manual dexterity of a retarded wombat and tied the wires through the hole. Amazingly it worked first time. I put the unit back together pausing only to wonder where the bit that fitted into the end and holds the wires securely had gone.

All was well. It worked fine for three days until the other day, when BANG, the wires jumped out of the end and I jumped out of my skin. They had obviously untied themselves, particularly as there was nothing to hold them still.

Today I decided to fix it again. After the 8th attempt at stripping the wires, all the previous ones ending with me either cutting them off or pulling them off, I finally got it re-tied although what started off as a 36 inch piece of flex has now dimished to about 12 inches. Then came the moment of truth. Having changed the fuse in the unit I plugged it in and......nothing. Hmmmmm. The lighter socket is working because I checked. The fuse looked o.k. but I might try another. But probably, with my luck at the moment, I've blown the transformer or whatever it is that's in the middle of the wire.

I might go buy another connector and perhaps look at a soldering iron as well. Oh, and I might get a set of jump leads since I'd sat there for a couple of hours with the headlights on and flattened the battery. D'oh!

Sunday, January 18, 2004

I met a girl today. Her mother's a Mormon and her father's a Jew.

She was brought up in Salt Beef City.

I'll get me coat.

We had our reunion yesterday, attended by 11 of us which is a good turn out, and the day trip t France has now mutated into a weekend in Paris! So, come the weekend of May 22/23 I shall be jetting off to Paris to get pissed on Pernod, 'ammered on Absinthe, and any other drink/inebreiation links you wish to make.

One good thing about taking the role of organiser is you get to influence where things happen. I will gently work our way towards staying in the 9th Arrondisement which covers L'Opera, Sacre Couer and Montmartre, my favourite area of the French Capital.

Now all I have to do is get the money together! Actually, initial costings put it at just £100 per head with return flights from Heathrow/Paris CDG and accomodation. Not bad. Of course, the drink and food bill will make that pale by comparison!!!

Just how much French will I remember? Je suis Kennamatique and hopefully enough to order a few beers.

Friday, January 16, 2004

Oh, and I think I might have copied across some out of date links so they'll get fixed over the weekend. I hope it's rendering o.k. on others machines. Don't worry, I'll soon tire of it and go back to something sensible.

Well, well, it's the new template! I bet that gave you a jar. It even looks how I wanted it except I can't get the top graphic to align in the center. It was perfectly lined up earlier and then I added a bit, deleted a bit, swore a bit, and now I have a choice of left or right alignment. Right looks temporarily better. Any suggestions?

Well. that's two of the three court appearances out of the way, the next is the beginning of Feb. This one wasn't so bad, I got a suspended sentence, they hang me next Thursday! ( Ah, the old jokes are the best). Actually I got 15 years hard labour, I can't leave Linda until 2019! (With content like this how could I not be the winner of The Best British Blog awards?!).

Still, enough of this mirth and merriment, just because it's Friday doesn't mean we should go to pieces. I have a question. Tomorrow when I meet up with my school reunion friends we will be discussing day trips for the coming year. I know we are doing a day trip to France to recapture those heady days when we would go to Le Touquet and play crazy golf, try to construct a whole sentence in French between half a dozen of us, and swear at the locals in the hope they didn't speak English. Can you lot come up with any suggestions as to what would entertain a bunch of 6 to 12 men in their late 40s, away from their wives for the day, but who, quite honestly, couldn't be trusted to tie their own shoelaces properly.

Tuesday, January 13, 2004

Today was the first of three court appearances I have to make. This was the least likely to be stressful for me and so it was. I was actually much more nervous last week for Kevs case.

Today was about consolidating a number of motoring fines from last year to one total amount and agreeing a repayment. This all went along fine.

The next is on Thursday which is likely to be more of a problem to me but we shall wait and see. Tomorrow is a bit of fact-finding and a bit of damage limitation.

One of the major benefits of being in court this week is that I have had to go through all my expenses etc and come up with my total debts. I'm sure many of you out there are on top of things and have all your figures at the end of your fingertips, but me, in my normal lackadaisical way, muddle along by ingnoring things and hoping they'll go away. To my amazement, my total debts only come to around £32,000. For some this might seem like a lot, to others a drop in the ocean. This was less than I thought, and if I take out my two largest creditors, the Inland Revenue at £18,000 and my mortgage arrears of £4,000, the idea of only being £10k behind is actually quite a relief. The whole thing seems reasonably manageable, and I had already set myself a target of being out of debt in three years time, when I hit 50. I honestly think this is achievable with a bit of luck, some hard work and a following wind.

Sunday, January 11, 2004

I think a lot of the time I can be my own worst enemy. I know exectly how depressed and stressed I get and that obviously varies from day to day, but I guess like a lot of people I can digcuise it to the outside world to a certain degree. I know that I've posted before about the fact that friends don't always take me seriously because I tend to joke about things for much of the time. Perhaps as a group, those who visit here have a slightly better idea of how I am based on my postings. For someone who has written comedy sketches, pantomimes etc, there is little comedic value to most of my posts, and the quantity of those that were, have reduced over the last months. Whilst I don't put a brave face on things here particularly I do in my real life and I'm beginning to think I should stop doing it. I'm going to question a few people about how depressed/stressed they think I am, not because I expect them to "guess the right answer" but because I want to know how I'm displaying it.

Thise who suffer depression often complain that it isn't taken seriously and that you get little sympathy as there are no physical manifestations of it as there would be with a broken arm. How much easier it would be if as humans it worked like in the world of cartoons. On badly depressing days I could walk around with a black cloud over my head, if I was feeling stressed I could have steam coming out of my ears. Thik how much better it would be if, when faced with a salesman and you needed to know whether he was giving you a good deal, should he be being too greedy his eyes would spin round and £ signs appear and you would here the bell of a cach register, for those old enough to remember the bells on tills! No more overeating as the moment you were full again, your eyes would spin round and the word "full" would appear.

In the meantime, we must struggle on, trying to second guess others motives and displaying ourselves to the world in ways we think are best but may turn out not to be. I shall no longer ever wonder again about whether God was a woman but wish he'd been part of the Hanna Barbera team.

And now, in the words of an old cartoon character I shall "exit - stage left".

Wednesday, January 07, 2004

In a comment to the previous post Gordon talks of having a lifetime ban on drink drivers. I certainly think it is something that should be considered but then I also think that anyone convicted of a road rage incident should also be banned for life. I know driving can get a bit frustrating sometimes but if attacking someone is your reaction to it then you obviously don't have the mental set-up to enable you to drive safely.

I won't pontificate however without holding my hands up to having the odd pint and still driving, and even on rare occasions in the past, driving when I really shouldn't have, although mostly these days I'll have a pint and then drink Diet Cokes.

I think that if the government were serious about drink driving they would bring in a zero limit. I know there are arguments that "what if you're stopped after eating a sherry trifle", but I'm sure equipment can be set to allow a small tolerance to cover such circumstances. Anyway, to prove I'm serious, if the government bring in a no-smoking ban in public places, something I also support, I promise I will have my own zero tolerance.

For those who think their driving improves after a drink, or even if you don't know if it affects you at all, I once had half a pint of beer and tried to play squash afterwards. I played o.k., but I couldn't quite focus exactly on my timing for hitting the ball accurately. It was then that I knew alcohol does affect us, even as a small amount, and no-one was more surprised than me.

Kev ended up with a 6 month ban and a £60 fine. This was absolutely the minimum ban/fine he could be given but I'm now chauffeur-in-chief for half a year. For those who have a tendency to have a pint and then drive, the guy in front of him was banned for 3 years and a £250.00 fine for a drink drive offence.

The christmas template should be taken off now but I'm in the middle of devising the new one and I can't be bothered to reload a previous one for a couple of days of use. Well, I might when I have more time.

Sunday, January 04, 2004

Kev is appearing in court on Monday having reached 12 points on his driving licence. He'll almost certainly get a ban but we are looking at mitigating circumstances. The three we've come up with so far are;

i) When he saw his doctor about his breakdown she said he was "going downhill fast", so he'll claim three points are due to her.

ii) Another time he was on his way to his sisters with a passenger who he rather fancies. She was wearing a rather short skirt and as they were approaching Eastbourne he said "give us a flash" at which point a speed camera took his photo, so that was a case of being misunderstood.

iii) The offence that brings him to court happened on the sweeping curve to the North of Sandy in Bedfordshire on the A1. He's going to claim it was obviously his wife behind the wheel as she's been driving him round the bend for years.

Any ideas how we can explain the last three points away?

Friday, January 02, 2004

I've been slaving over a hot keyboard today whilst freezing to death in my study. I'm sure there's lots of things I could write about but for the moment you're getting this weeks Friday Five.

What one thing are you most looking forward to . . .

1. ...today?

A hot bath in about an hour or so's time.

2. ...over the next week?

Work starting to pick up after the break. Well, not so much looking forward to as desperately needing!

3. ...this year?

Moving my life forwards.

4. ...over the next five years?

Getting rid of my debts.

5. ...for the rest of your life?

Gaining inner peace.

Thursday, January 01, 2004

Happy New Year to you all.

I saw a phrase today attributed to James Dean which is as good as advice as any to follow this coming year.

Dream like you'll live forever. Live like you'll die today.