Sunday, 31 January 2016

Sunday

I had intended going to work, but it's cold, wet and miserable - the last thing I need is to catch another cold so I stayed home. The thick mist has reduced visibility right down anyway - nothing to see out there. I have a feeling that there was someone using the studio this weekend anyway for some interviews or something.

I'll do some stuff here tonight - I need to write a few things up. Might have picked up some more new work leads today so I'll be looking into that too.

I have no strong feelings about Terry Wogan at all - I think that was probably his appeal. As a child, he 'owned' the radio in our house. I went to school bathed in waves of dreary, middle class niceness thanks to Terry. Even when he was being arch it came across as soft. I never watched Eurovision nor Blankety Blank, so it all went over my head - but I had nothing against him - and I expect that probably had a lot to do with me refusing to watch 'Children in Need' as weel.

On the other hand - very sad to read of the death of Frank Finlay. I'm watching The Pianist in the background. Probably not the most cheerful viewing but still on of the best films I've ever seen.


Saturday, 30 January 2016

Saturday Evening

I'm at home, vaguely considering watching a film later or going to bed early - I'm probably going to be at work tomorrow - I have stuff to do - so I took it easy today, just cleaned the house.

Yesterday was full on - in the evening I had to meet up with a friend/colleague and talk through some stuff, I also seem to have picked up a new job - seeing them on Monday. In the afternoon, I had lunch with a couple of friends at the All You Can Eat Chinese restaurant - I didn't pay. I just bought coffee afterwards. I had quite a few other jobs to do and earlier in the week I had a few full-on meetings and have sorted some stuff out going forward.

Most importantly - I had my 'big' conversation with the Inland Revenue. The trouble is - when I get stressed or nervous, I still start stammering and forget what words to use, I'm kinda resigned to the fact that it's not going to get any better and I was dreading talking to them - fortunately - you can nominate someone to talk on your behalf and I spoke to my brother about it - he was happy to help, and just knowing that probably gave me enough of a boost to be able to manage (mostly) - I spent nearly 2 hours holding alltogether and using the automated 'speak now' robot was a disaster - I started stammering right away and forgot my postcode, and national insurance number - even though it was written down - I just couldn't get the words out. In the end I had a long conversation with someone was surprisingly sympathetic. I'd already spoken with my bank and mortgage company and had collated all my medical records and various bits and pieces - I won't have earned enough to pay tax next year after allowances, expenses and tax paid at source - losing 6 months income does that - so I've been given a month to put arrangements in place and then I have a year to pay - as work is starting to get back to normal and I can always remortgage - I think I'll be OK. It's not ideal - the accident is going to end up costing me roughly £10k in expenses and loss of earning (that's the most conservative estimate possible - the reality will be twice that, at least) and has probably kicked my career into the dustbin - but I'm not dead, don't actually look too bad and at least I have no memory of it all. The woman from the Revenue is calling back in a week to see how it's going but I feel more relaxed about things.

Talking houses - a really ugly post-war terraced house opposite me that backs onto the COOP is on the market for £209k - that's at least 30k more than I would have estimated - I really hope they get it - I need the boost.

I may have mentioned that the University of Brighton is considering pulling out of Hastings. This is the front page of our local paper - read the headline... and wonder why they bothered in the first place, how many eyes must have seen this before it went to press - it's beyond embarrassing.



Thursday, 28 January 2016

Thursday

Cold, dry but bright.

Within 15 mins of returning from a dog walk, small dog had left about 2 pints of piss on the dining room floor - I have no idea where it all comes from - much more comes out than goes in. (She's not diabetic - we've checked on that)

Waiting at home for a client to call about a 'secret' project - I have already had 3 sales calls from recorded voices.

Had to deal with a badger stampede last night - outside the house in the dark at 10pm - 3 badgers running up the hill - 2 running down - me trying to control two hysterical dogs. No fun.


Once I've finished here I have a lot to do today, I just want this week to be over - it's gone on too long already.

Have had 3 text messages and 2 emails this week about paying outstanding tax - just general reminders  - and one call from a woman who spoke very poor English threatening me with enforcement action. I have to call them back tomorrow - I'll probably do this from home - which means taking the day off.

Wednesday, 27 January 2016

Today

I went to see The Revenant. I actually really enjoyed it - the sound and cinematography were astonishing - you could hear the snowflakes fall. It was very beautiful to watch. The cast were all good and the economy of the narrative worked well - I didn't take anything away with me and I'm not a huge DiCaprio fan - but he was good. It will probably win a lot of Oscars - it was naturalistic without being stylised - but as I said, I didn't take much away. Earlier in the week I saw The Martian - I've seen it twice now. Aside from missing parts of the plot, which seemed to make no real sense - it was another very good film, lovely to look at.. but I can't stand Matt Damon, he's so boring. Totally lifeless.

I've had a lot to do this week - making progress, a piece of unexpected work has turned up that I'll have some fun with. I wrote a pitch for a really good job - took me 2 days. I'm actually quite pleased with it. I expect they will hate it.

I made a Mexican bean casserole from scratch this week - I paid a grat deal of attention to the recipe. To my amazement - it actually came out OK, in fact. It was very good... just a bit spicy.

The number of times small dog manages to wee in the house daily has now started to nudge double figures. She tried to dig another hole in the mattress again yesterday - I've not been upstairs since I came in today - just in case - I don't know what I'll find.

It's been raining almost constantly. Grey drizzle, lots of wind and cold - but manageable - no need for heating. I'm counting myself lucky.

In other news - it's been announced that the University of Brighton may pull higher education from Hastings, This would be an absolute fucking disaster for the town in every way. I really do hope it's just a bullying tactic to get their own way on something.

Saturday, 23 January 2016

Saturday Afternoon 2

Billy Mackenzie died 19 years ago yesterday. That's so sad.



Saturday afternoon.

Earlier today I read an article in the Guardian, one of those 'help' type columns - someone explained that they lived in London and after paying all their bills - had only £40pcm left. The comments section that followed was just a constant stream of incredulous snickering and abuse - peppered with the occasional patronising 'suggestion' - my favourite being - 'try and squeeze 4 or 5 people into a 2 bedroom flat - 6 if there are 3 couples'. I found the snickering the most unpalatable - people who are clearly comfortable themselves and just happy to mock and patronise. The same kind of people who laugh at beggars or kick rough sleepers in the head. I've said before that I suspect people behave like that partly out of the fear that they may end up like that themselves, we are all very, very close to the edge - closer than we all think (some - closer than others). There is a rough sleeper buy my office who will tell anyone he went from owning a business to being on the street in 3 months.

Yesterday I had a conversation with someone who meant no harm - but managed to be incredibly patronising without realising. I go to a lot of trouble to avoid anyone who starts any sentence with 'what you should do is' - because generally they have no idea what they are talking about. I read another article earlier today that was designed to 'show' self employed people how to cope with illness "if you have a cold - why not just Skype" and other nonsense, and last week I had a long and quite painful conversation with someone I like very much, who is actually quite bright - but insisted on giving me detailed advice on how to be a freelancer, despite me having 25 years experience - and them non. They were totally oblivious to the fact that they have a very well paid job, with benefits (a car etc) - sick pay and expenses - an assistant that sorts everything for them - they have certainly never had to buy a train ticket themselves - and their money hits the bank every month on the same day - tax and national insurance already taken care of. They can also take time off sick, which they frequently do. They were trying to lecture me on how to deal with bad payers - I've been dealing with them all my life - I have some experience and they have none - but I decide to just let them talk. Nobody really understands that anything under 200 never gets paid unless you put at least 200 worth of work into chasing it - and then probably still never see the money. It seems to be an unspoken understanding that nobody pays small bills - but they mount up. When you have a month when all there is are small invoices to get through to next month - it's quite a big deal. But they just don't get it. Someone said to me today I should factor into my fees the possibility of being taken ill etc - but that's nieve and totally pointless, they have no idea what they are talking about. If you pursue someone for money - they resent you - even good clients get defensive, despite the fact you charged them a fraction of what you should have and have already waited 3 months to get paid - including all the expenses you have to lay out. The fact is - I'm actually incredibly good with money - I always have been - there just isn't enough - and other people get in the way. When I discussed the possibility that I may just throw the towel in with someone last week - I could feel them recoiling from me and writing me off - despite my business probably being in better state than theirs - and THEY owe me money too.

Someone I know professionally was very rude to me last week - this is someone who just paid cash for a house (parents gave him the money) and who's wife is also financially comfortable - both of their parents are alive and regularly help them out - and neither of them have anything like the pressures placed on me, but they still feel they can look down their nose at me. I get that a lot.

I'm going to be working tomorrow - in an office that I rent, using a computer I paid for - writing a proposal for a job that I may not get - it will take me all day to prepare, I don't get anything for doing that - I have to do it all the time, and it's very, very unusual for me to get a response from these things - professional courtesy is very thin on the ground right now. The prospect of giving up, selling everything and buying a £30k house 20 miles outside Cardiff in nowhereland, and just locking the door behind me, is increasingly attractive