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Saturday, July 31, 2004

Whatever happened to the posters of exotic locations that used to be in the windows of travel agents?

There was always a dusky maiden, staring out to sea from under the fronds of a desert island palm tree and on another, a man in full "Milk Tray" gear, skiing down a Tyrollean mountain side grinning with his perfect teeth that were whiter than the snow. And why shouldn't he grin. He was probably off to meet the dusky maiden when he returned to his chalet.

It didn't matter where the actual locations were because it was highly unlikely in the mid-60s that you were going there. But it did give you the chance to dream as you booked your two weeks holiday for the 15th year running at the Hotel Splendide in Paignton.

Now travel agents windows are full of hand scrawled cards full of mysterious phrases like 3*HB which in my day would have been a pencil. Destinations now cover every city, town and village that we only ever knew as a name on a map.

A friend recently went to Tunisia. Much as I like him he is the typical Little Englander. He arrived at the hotel and took exception to the fact that there were flags of all nations flying except the Union Jack. He wasn't impressed with the food because the breakfasts were of the continental variety, rolls with ham or cheese and croissants and brioche with jam. He wanted a fry-up. In the end, he'd probably have been happier with two weeks in Paignton.

Opening the world up by travel has been great for many people, but has become a goal for others who aren't as adventurous, to try and keep up with the Joneses. Britain has some wonderful places to holiday, and often these days the weather is as good as the continent, and more often than not, better. Our tourist industry did take a knock with the Foot & Mouth epidemic a couple of years back so why not visit somewhere closer to home for at least a weekend later this summer. You'll understand the language, probably be able to pronounce the name of your destination, and the food will be surprisingly good. I can recommend North Yorkshire. But then I would, wouldn't I.

Thanks for the messages of support through the comments and by e-mail. I've got two more payments to find this week, which is going to be tough if not impossible, but then I believe I am on the way back up. In the High Court yesterday my bankruptcy was replaced with an interim order for my IVA. We already believe we have the required 75% needed to get that passed, the re-mortgage will take place and then the debt disappears, although the mortgage increases.

The business we have been introduced to that would make an entire difference to my life still appears to be moving positively towards happening. I just have to not quite relax yet which is what I really want to do. The next few weeks will see it to an end and then I can offload the stress and move forwards.

Wednesday, July 28, 2004

As a special treat/punishment (delete as applicable) I am giving you the insight into todays court appearance.

It's Wednesday, so it must be Brentford County Court.

This is a hearing to finally try and throw out the eviction that Barclays are trying to force on us, despite the fact that tomorrow I'm at the High Court for my insolvency application which if when succesful will pay them all their money, and probably quicker than if they go ahead with the eviction.

Through the revolving doors you enter a light airy vestibule. Brentford C.C. is a modern building and doesn't give you the sense of foreboding that older courts present. We are due to appear at 9:30. On my side, apart from myself, is a solicitor arranged by my Insolvency Practioner. Our defence is to claim that eviction jepordises the rights of all my other creditors to no advantage to Barclays. I have not met my solicitor, Olivier, before today. We have no idea whether Barclays will be represented or not as they have given no prior indication.

First thing is to check the lists for the day. I'm listed first at 10:00 a.m. It's 9.30 now so everywhere is still pretty quiet. First of my case to turn up is the opposition. It is the same guy as last time, and although I'm not nervous I don't need or want to talk to him. He could have course be here for another case anyway.

9.40 my counsel turns up. I like the guy on first impressions which is important when he has the future of our home in his hands. We find a table and discuss the case. Our only fear is that Woolwich/Barclays may have 25% of my total debt and can scupper the IVA, (I have to have 75% support). If they think they have it they will use that info to go for eviction again now.

My counsel goes to speak to their agent. He comes back. They are thinking along the lines of 25% debt, however, he feels they might accept a suspension if it was only 4 weeks. It will take longer than that to get the re-mortgage through.

Their agent covers another case as well, and gets called in first on that one. My counsel doesn't like it because it gives the opposition a chance to deal with the District Judge and set up a relationship first. Nothing we can do about it though.

We're called. In to Court 5. I recognise the District Judge from another hearing in the past. These are informal hearings so the room is set with tables in a T shape. The D.J. sits across the top with us to his left and the oppos to his right.

He opens the case and asks Barclays to make their submission for the eviction. (Don't worry, I'm not going to list all the evidence as well!). Then it's my Counsels turn. He goes through the points we have discussed. Then the oppos have a chance to reply. We want an 8 week suspension. Barclays will settle for 4 weeks.

The D.J. runs through the paperwork again and then makes his announcement.

The result is in the comments section.

We leave the room.

There is a quick discussion between my man and theirs. He runs through the judgement so that I understand it for certain, which I do. We shake hands. I leave the court. Back to the car. The emotion hits. I feel absolutely knackered and just want to sleep. Have to go home to let Linda know the outcome. Then let my Insolvency Practitioner know the score.

Tuesday, July 27, 2004

Tragic for many different reasons.

How far can someone watch someone else struggle with life/pain/illness before they become compelled to do something about it.

My Mum has made it well known to us that if, in the event of her becoming severely disbled, or with no quality of life, to do something about it. Would I be able to. I guess I'll make that decision if the time seems right. As a hypothetical question the answer is yes. I know how my mum feels about things. She'd leave the judgement up to me. She already talks of having a good innings and I know that she isn't afraid of things ending, even though that's not on her agenda at the moment.

Of course, when all the details come out at the trial it may prove not to be a mercy killing. Is the concept of mercy killing one you can accept in principle?

So Sven and his boss Mark have been knocking off one of the secretaries at The F.A. So what? Does it need to be headline news? Wayne Rooney has had it away with a working girl. Supposedly costing £120.00 that was a reasonable deal, particularly considering how famous he is. Maybe there's more to it. I only saw the headlines.

Radio 5 keeps talking about Sven having an affair with her. Is she married? He isn't. She might be having an affair but he's not married to Nancy.

In the end, the only people it should be of interest to is The girlfriends/wives/boyfriends of the parties involved.

I worry about how trivial our news has become. How our immediate society seems much more interested in voyeuristic entertainment than actually doing something productive themselves. So good for Wayne, Sven and Mark, at least there out there living a life instead of vicariously living through someone elses.

We had a school reunion drink on Saturday. I learnt that I'm in no condition to do a weekends drinking in Blackpool. So for the next 10 weeks I shall have to practice. Often.

Saturday, July 24, 2004

Crossing Waterloo Bridge, there is always something new to look at. I was going to do a pictorial version of Waterloo Sunset but with consummate timing the batteries on my camera went dead and I couldn't be arsed to but any others. It wasn't the sole reason for being there anyway.

By Festival Pier the river was low enough to have created a sandy foreshore where two or three families with kids were able to play. Most of the Thames Bank is shingle and stone so sand is relatively rare. No doubt deposited there on the bend in the river by the same currents as cause ox-bow lakes and sedimentary spits an other stuff I failed to learn properly in Geography at school.

Looking down river I noiced they've "unveiled" St Pauls Cathedral after it's clean up. The dome, which was always light in colour is now a rather bright white and just looks plain wrong. In reality it obviously looks exactly how it was meant to look, but many buildings I've known through my life have been cleaned and aren't the same for me.

The biggest difference was Leeds Town Hall. In my youth that building was black, the product of years of industrial grime, and until it was cleaned I never knew it was meant to be any colour but black. I don't like it in that colour! I want my black town hall back! (Falls to ground and beats fists on on floor whilst kicking and screaming). But it's not just that. I want it black to remind us that industry was our heritage. There are few factories left. They are all converted to flats for the finance workers who are flocking there. To paraphrase W M Yeats, Tread carefully, for you tread upon my memories

Friday, July 23, 2004

National Express have another great offer. Journeys from £1 single. And with a couple of weeks advance booking your talking about £2 return, same day or with nights away. Get your summer travel booked now, but not on the routes and days that I want!

Wednesday, July 21, 2004

How interesting.

When surfing the internet through the library I can't get access to Bacon Cheese and Oatcakes because it is filtered out as an Occult site so kids can't gain access to such material.

I can however read Belle De Jour.

Well, that's the local councils policy for education sorted then.

Tuesday, July 20, 2004

Some time back I mentioned that one day I would talk about Gail, my ex-wife. Tomorrow would have been our Silver Wedding. So as she's on my mind tonight perhaps this is the time to share it. Not the shortest of posts, not the longest of marriages.

Back in the mists of time, well, the mid-seventies, when I was a long, lank-haired spotty teenager, there were two girls at my youth club. (Do they have youth clubs now, or just communal joyriding?). One was Lesley Naylor, the other her best friend, Gail Howe. They were known as Crumptiti and Petscaca respectively, an amalgamation, and a not completely accurate one, of "crumpets" and "Titicaca". This being the sort of highly amusing handle one might give oneself when you have attended Haberdasher Askes School for young Gentlewomen.

Lesley was the fantasy girl of all my peer group and one day, totally to my surprise, I had a conversation with Nev Harris, her current boyfriend, who informed me that Lesley would be going out with me shortly. A week later we were going out! In all the time we courted, (4 months!), she would always turn up on dates with Gail. Actually once I surprised her and went out for an evening when Gail wasn't present, but poor old Lesley look terrified the entire evening so I never tried that again. At the end of our liaison, I passed her on to the next guy she was eyeing, (I had found out by then that this was the way we "Naylormen" stuck together, I wonder if she ever knew we did this?), and that was that. other than I had always got on well with Gail. This is now late 1973.

When I passed my driving test, in 1974, Gail was the first person I told, other than my Mum who was at home when I returned and who had dosed me up earlier that morning on her Valium to try and stay my nerves. We still saw each other socially (Gail not my Mum!), and in 1975, I can't remember when, we started to go out. I was 18 at the time.

We grew very close, very quickly, and on 20th March 1976 I proposed, on the banks of the Thames at Richmond, and she said yes.

The following August Bank Holiday we went away for the weekend, and stayed at The Railway Hotel at Herne Bay in Kent. No reason for that hotel other than it was handy when we decided to stop for the night. It was that weekend we "slept together" for the first time. (The "first time" for both of us). Mike Batt, has a song called "The Railway Hotel", the lyrics of which are very apt - and printed at the bottom of this post - and a few years ago found an old tape in a junk shop that it was on. I do listen to it sometimes, but it cuts me up. Onwards.

We married, on the 21st July 1979, and I can put my hand on my heart and say it was the happiest day of my life, and I don't expect it to be beaten.

In 1980 I went to work in Birmingham and had to stay in a hotel during the week, returning home only at the weekends. This carried on for 6 or 7 months and spelt the beginning of the end. We both started getting used to the freedom. Gail eventually came up to join me in Brum, but it wasn't going to work. One reason was I had started to have an affair with Linda, although only just as Gail came to the Midlands. I had a good friend, Jenny, who had been my confidante during the previous months, and some time later told me she knew the marriage was collapsing from the way I talked. I'm not going to talk in detail about the rest as I take the blame for the break-up and that is the way I want it.

Eventually the affair got out, I had the choice of going back to Gail or moving on with Linda. I actually went with the former, but very very quickly I realised you can never go back. We split up. But I never stopped loving her.

Linda and I came back to London in 1983 but Gail stayed up there. She did, I believe, have another relationship, but in 1985, she died aged 27, from a brain tumour.

I saw her once in London, a couple of years after we split up, quite by chance. I don't know whether she saw me or not. I didn't go up to her. Cowardice? Maybe, but also, why rake up the hurt I caused her.

I can't say I think of her as often as I once did, it seems to be such a long time ago, and I suppose it is, but there are days, and today is one, when I do think of her, with love, and remember.

Railway Hotel
© Mike Batt

We went to the room and we bolted the door,
The bass from the jukebox was coming through the floor,
And out through the walls we could still hear the roar of the trains.
Was this all the comfort we got for our sins?
No candles, no waiters, no soft violins?
A dirty electric convector plugged into the mains.

I had wanted much more for the first night with you,
But the railway hotel was the best I could do.
I knew the Savoy would have suited you well,
But the best I could do was the railway hotel.

Away in the sky were the lights ot a jet,
Burning in the night like a slow cigarette.
The lamp in the street threw a soft silhouette on the wall.
And though it was crumbling and rundown and dead
A chair and a sink and an old single bed,
The love we began and the things that we said, I recall.

I had wanted much more for the first night with you,
But the railway hotel was the best I could do.
I knew the Savoy would have suited you well,
But the best I could do was the railway hotel

Saturday, July 17, 2004

Yesterday, my step-brother-in-law was at Buckingham Palace to receive his MBE. As I think I mentioned before, because he's in military intelligence we aren't allowed to know exactly what it is for.
The Government are looking at messing around with these honours. Maybe some are given out as routine, i.e. civil servants, politicians etc, but there is nothing wrong with the "genuine" ones. We know it was for services to the country so we can only speculate that it involved foiling an attack on the UK or our forces overseas. He's proud to get it but it means even more to his family. To his sons, who have grown up with long periods when he has been posted overseas, (the investiture slightly spoiled for them when they discovered David Beckham wasn't getting his on the same day!), his wife and parents who have seen him go off into war zones never knowing if he will return. He of course accepts it on behalf of all the troops who risk their lives and their families who have to wait hoping upon hope they never receive "the phonecall".

Thursday, July 15, 2004

I would love to post an interesting missive on the exciting events of my life and all that surrounds it. But there aren't any. So I shan't bother making one up.

I've been accused of liking the sound of my own voice on occasions and perhaps this post is liking the sight of my own blog.

Sorry. Self-indulgent.

Tuesday, July 13, 2004

Having visited Wimborne yesterday, Kev and I dropped down into Poole, predominately to pick off another Wetherspoons. I like Bournemouth, but Poole doesn't really do anything for me. If you're going to have sea, I want to see lots of it, not just a harbour. Still, it got a bit of sea air into the lungs which won't do them any harm.

Maybe Poole harbour is too up market for me since Blackpool is my idea of a seaside town. Once again the subject of stag and hen parties in towns and cities has raised it's head again. I can only re-iterate, despite bing in many of the pubs and clubs of Blackpool when I'm there I don't think I've ever seen any trouble. Unless of course it's me who's causing it?

No news on the amazing contract front. We have a gut feeling all is not what it may seem. Whilst we are not going to turn down the opportunity to get involved, we need quite a few questions answered to our satisfaction before we even begin to open meaningful discussions.

Here's another of my periodic public information posts.

When travelling from London to Wimborne in Dorset just a few miles north of the coast, the route you should take is the M3, M27 and A whatever. Under no circumstances turn off onto the A303 north of Winchester and then find yourself 30 miles north of where you are meant to be.


Sunday, July 11, 2004

Further meetings were held between our contact and our future business associates over the weekend which we will no doubt hear about tomorrow. It's a strange sensation to be shuttling between calls with my insolvency practitioner and various courts and then talking to someone who could provide us with more money than we dare to think about.

If this doesn't come off then we are starting a window cleaning division of D3sk B as well. There's a lot of money to be made from window cleaning.

Sometimes it wopuld be nice just to have a bit of time with an "ordinary life", but I'm not sure that one exists in reality.

My mum has got a mobile phone!

It was part of her birthday presents. It is useful for her to have because occasionally there will be times when she needs to use the phone when she's out or she needs to be contacted urgently.

The theory is of perfect, the practice may prove to be less so. My mum and technology are not great bedfellows but at the moment I think she is feeling quite the modern woman about town. Whenever she rings me and gets the answerphone, by the time it kicks in she is usually still chuntering on about it being "one of these damned answer things", usually followed by a statement about how much she hates them.

If by any chance you get a phone call from a confused sounding 73 year old, probably swearing into the handset, then could you tell her just to ring me when she gets in.


Friday, July 09, 2004

Kev and I have ben offered directorships in a new company which, if all goes well, would change our lives significantly. Can't talk about it yet, but my promise of holding a party when I make my first million comes a hell of a lot closer than it is sat here today. Lawyers need to do some lawyering, Ts need crossing, Is need dotting. It won't afect what we are already doing, in fact, it will probably enhance it greatly, if only for the major cash injection it would allow us to make.

Just for once in my life I need this to go right. Not just for me and Linda, but I want my Mum to spend the last few years of her life, however many there might be, not having to worry about me. I also want to treat her to some of the things she has always wanted to do, like go on a cruise.

I'll accept any amount of finger crossing you want to do on my behalf.

Wednesday, July 07, 2004

Nearly had a last minute panic with our ongoing financial problems. Apparently I was due in Court last Monday to carry on defending the action to stop our eviction. I missed it thanks to the Post Office not delivering the notification.

Luckily, they did deliver the other day my papers from The High Court re my potential Bankruptcy which stated that no-one was allowed to take action against me or my property without The High Courts consent.

I saw the administrators at Brentford Court who on production of the said High Court directive, ran off, retrieved the eviction notice and set off to have Mondays decision overturned before they were held in Comtempt of Court.

When I worked for a bank I held some pretty high powered pieces of paper but this stuff the High Court sends me seems to work like a dream.

Hurrah! My pin number has turned up to allow me to access the internet through the library for free. There's now the problem of geting on a terminal but at least if I go in the day there should be a reasonable chance.

This saves me about £1 a day which of course is highly satisfying to my Yorkshire beliefs.

Tuesday, July 06, 2004

The last few days have been a series of memorable occasions.

Saturday saw my Mums 73rd birthday. She still can't believe that she is that old.

Sunday was my 30th anniversary of starting work. And what a glittering career I have to date. Then again, everyone I was at school with feels the same except for a very few major successes.

Monday was the 48th birthday of my first ever girlfriend. Oh my God, I've gone out with someone who's 48! And in addition, Kev has completed his 6 month driving ban. Hurrah! Athough he isn't in any rush to get back in his car again. I think he's quite liking the role of me as his chauffeur!

If anyone else has been celebrating in the last few days as well, congratulations.