Saturday, 16 September 2017

Saturday

Having a day at home. The house is clean and I'm watching 'Who Dare's Wins' - my favourite nonsense 80's Lewis Collins film.

Lost my temper yesterday - a rare thing now. On Thursday I made the decision to go back onto a mobile phone contract - I eventually found one with 'Three' that was only £11 pcm for an iPhone 5 over 2 years and the appropriate usage margins for me. I hardly ever use my phone and as a form of extreme economy - came off contract about 2 years ago and never bother topping up - which explains why I never call anybody back - but it's bad for business and my iPhone is on it's last legs. I ordered the phone, made appropriate payments, and because my last one was left on my doorstep by the delivery man - arranged for it to be collected from the Three shop around the phone corner. When I went to collect it - they refused to give it to me because I don't have a driving license (I don't drive) - and despite having loads of other ID, including the card I paid for everything with and being the only person in the UK with my name AND 2 forms of photo ID - she refused to hand it over, told me it would be held in the shop for 8 days and then returned to the warehouse at which point I could contact customer services and make other arrangements. I was a bit angry - and got angrier with customer services, who were useless - so I cancelled the whole thing - which will take 21 days and I shall have to 'request' being reimbursed. What a waste of time.

I managed to achieve the impossible and have transferred my mortgage (it had reached the end of it's fixed term) to a new product, fixed for 5 years and with 15 left on term - at a much lower interest rate - saving me £200 PCM, and best of all - I didn't have to lie about my income - so I didn't have to bump up last years 'profits' like most self employed people and take a hit on tax just to get a mortgage. I'm very much relieved.

I have had assurances from the finance director who I've had 'problems' with that I will get paid for 2 months work that 'they no longer have the budget for' - still waiting for that one to happen - but another client I did a job for in June has literally stopped responding to emails about their invoice - it will be my 4th non-payer in a year, it's getting endemic.

I've been working hard recently wit more reliable clients - when I get some invoices paid I'll need a new washing machine. I could have found the money to buy one or got a credit card, but I decided to wait. I'm going to get a sim-only phone contract as well so I'll need to buy a phone too.

It's suddenly become quite cold - winter is coming. This house gets freezing very quickly. I'm already gritting my teeth.

Mikey's funeral is on Tuesday of next week - I have a deadline on Wednesday so I'll be working tomorrow to make up the time.

Small dog has developed some strange stress related behaviour and has started rubbing against the coir hall carpet and now has bald patches - I  think it's because the other dog is going senile and is so grumpy - she's also increasingly hyper and attention seeking - hard work.

Earlier in the week I went for a coffee with mate and he took an iPhone snap of me on the seafront, granted - he is a film director and cinematographer - but it's probably the only decent picture anyone has ever taken of me. I actually like it. Even though I appear to have stranglers hands.


Monday, 4 September 2017

Monday

I was at the Folkestone Art Car Book Fair on Saturday - first day of the Folkestone Triannual. I like Folkestone and you can get the bus from outside my house all the way there (Unlimited bus travel in Kent is (£6.70 a day). It’s a lovely journey along the coast through Rye, Camber, Lydd, Romney, Hythe, Sandbrook and Folkestone.

I love traveling on the top deck of the bus - it reminds me of living in London - while we were driving through Hythe (which is very nice) I looked through the giant front room picture window of a modern house, the bus was paused at the lights so I had a great view of an unattended toddler in pyjamas smashing a selection of 12 inch vinyl records against a large screen TV showing Peppa pig.

The bus went past Hattie Jaques old house in Sandbrook - which is lovely - but very... very narrow.

The weather was a bit changeable but there was a Spitfire overhead all day looping the loop, and France is so close you can almost see the houses. I like the Harbour Arm and the town centre seemed good and busy - but I’m not sure about the outskirts.


It was a strange day - we were next to Vic Reeves who was selling his debatable paintings and taking requests. Peter Blake seemed a little lost and I gave Janet Street Porter a free postcard, she seemed appalled. Later I saw her drinking cocktails letting anyone take selfies with her.

Coffee was £3 for a small cup - they were clearly making a lot of money. I sold enough not to be embarrassed, but not enough to make a profit.

At the end of the day, as I was leaving Folkestone - from the top deck of the bus I watched a man of about 35 cross the road - he was a bit of a wreck and had clearly spent most of the last 20 years selling tablets to strangers in pub toilets, the girl he was with was equally displaced and I presume he was on the way into town to do a bit of *ducking and diving*. A he ran across the road a fat wedge of £10 notes fell from his pocket and blew into the road. He didn't notice. Nobody noticed apart from me. Not a great deal I could do about that one.

I was exhausted yesterday - and I’m feeling pretty crap today. I’ve come to terms that a very large client is not going to pay my invoice and may be about to go into administration. I can’t say anything now but It’s a disaster for me - 2 months down the drain.

Both dogs have fleas. That's an expensive problem.


Had lunch at a friends house yesterday. Mikey’s little girl was there, she’s doing well - his X Wife is paying for a very elaborate funeral with a glass carriage and horses that will tramp around town for an hour - he would have found that hilarious - his part of the joke is that Mikey will be buried in a cardboard coffin - I can hear him laughing now.

Mikey and his daughter Marina - pic by Paula May.



Wednesday, 30 August 2017

A lot has happened

Last week I was persuaded to host an event where I interviewed Sue Tilley in front of an audience - I did a lot of research - 30 years ago I was a near neighbour of Leigh Bowery and saw her regularly and I know her a bit now as she lives near me - we talked about her career and her fame as Lucien Freud's model - how she is the subject of 4 of the most valuable paintings in the world and her life in general - it went very well. I like Sue a lot and it was fun. As you can see - I have terrible posture. That Paul Smith shirt was £2 in Oxfam. That is a bottle of Vodka on the table - first time she's been drunk in years.





Afterwards I sat with my friend Mikey and had a drink. A lovey man and a wonderful father. He got the all clear from cancer last week. we were let alone for a couple of hours and chatted - he told me how happy he was. we left and he went home, and suffered a traumatic brain bleed - they turned his machine off this morning. He was the warmest, kindest man I know.

Friday, 18 August 2017

Friday (the real one, this time)

Yesterday’s post was titled ‘Friday’ - it was actually Thursday. That’s what my life is like now. I came into work early and the main door had been left open all night. I’m really pissed off about that. Last time it happened a prostitute spent the night servicing customers on the stairs (we have CCTV). Insurance won’t pay out if the door has been left open.

This morning a skip appeared outside my house. I really hope it is next door finally gearing up to selling their house, although it might be the new guy opposite. At this point there is absolutely no chance of me having the work done on my house - It’s just not possible.

I have a meeting with a client at 11 - one of the few people left who actually pays their bills.

One if the reasons I’m annoyed about the front door is that we now have a local drug dealer - who doesn’t have a doorbell so someone has to shout up to their window if they want ‘service’ - it’s right outside the studio. He has a lot of customers.

Later today I have to talk to my ‘in-between’ person at the job which appears to have gone horribly wrong. I’ve pretty much completed everything but the organisation is fairly chaotic and not well run and someone has decided they don’t need the work I’ve already done. In other news, a client has told me they need to hold a project for the duration of their children’s school holidays… which is nice for them, but not great for me. I think I’m probably too nice to people, a big part of being freelance is getting on with clients and building trust - but it’s a two way relationship, I seem to have forgotten that one. I’m getting walked all over.

Hazel O’Connor liked one of my tweets, which was actually a joke about her. This was almost as exciting as that time Toyah sent me a get well soon card after I came out of hospital.

A friend sent me a copy of ‘Hollywood Babylon’ that they had intended to give to charity. It was the same edition I bought from a shop called 69A in Liverpool when I was about 16. I loved it at the time, it was an ugly, lurid, sensational bit of trash that was from a totally different world that I inhabited. It was also incredibly badly written - not that it mattered. I suppose it’s what the internet has become now. I am looking forward to reading it over the weekend. (when I say ‘reading’ - I actually mean looking at the pictures and reading the captions). I find it hard to believe that Kenneth Anger is still alive.

Talking age - an aunt is in hospital at the moment. My family all seem to have lived to a great age in relative good health - all tall and slim, and active - but they seem to be entering their 80’s (and 90’s) now and time is catching up on them. Aside from the obvious - I have never actually been ‘ill’ as such - neither have my brother or sister - nothing more than colds and flu - or just working too hard. Probably ideal as none of us will ever be able to retire.


Whilst I’m on the subject of film, I have a close friend in that industry who knows a lot of very famous people and ‘cultural figures’ from the last 30 years (Including Toyah - which is how I ended up getting the get-well-soon card). It’s very strange and unnerving when they are on Facebook and interacting with people that I used to idolise or who are really quite well known - although at the same time - they appear generally quite dull in real life and most of their jokes are rubbish, and they all share click-bait, like real people. Without going into too much detail - I was on the sidelines of an exchange last week with someone who I expect you would all know and is a bit of a current pop culture hero - with a very high and positive profile - but who is actually quite cold, hypocritical and callous. It was chilling. Obviously - this anecdote is not particularly well written because I don’t want to say who they are - but it’s quite disappointing when you realise that everyone eventually lets you down, one way or the other.

Thursday, 17 August 2017

Friday

I’ve had a ridiculous few days and I’m feeling a bit disorientated - more than usual.  I’m at home with a Vincent Price film on in the background after working 11 hours for the 4th day in a row - and tomorrow will be the same. Work is far harder than it should be, I’ve been let down really badly by someone technical and I have a couple of very difficult clients I need to deal with very carefully. I’m basically working harder than ever but I seem to be losing money hand over fist. To make it worse - a big project I’ve been working on for weeks has ‘gone toxic’ - not a phrase I usually use - but it’s possible I may be about to lose enough money to pay my mortgage for a year. And. It’s not my fault. I’ll probably talk about this another time.

Being tired and run down is starting to make me depressed and bad tempered - something that hasn’t happened since before my accident. I’ve found it quite difficult to keep up with this blog over the last couple of years - I’m not the same person I used to be and there is no point pretending I ever will be. I have bought of killing it - physically and metaphorically - partly as a gesture and partly because ‘he’ really is dead. I even thought about writing in the third person until I felt more comfortable with who I am. I still have to work that one out. To be honest - I’m frustrated more than anything else. I’m still struggling with writing by hand and my perception of what is written on the page or screen regularly seems at odd with what is actually there. Aggressive spell correction software makes things much worse. Don’t ask me to look at numbers, there is no point.

I’ve been dealing with my mortgage - I have secured an offer from by current lender that is actually very good. Fixed for 5 years at less than half the rate I pay now - the valuation they gave me was much more than I expected and I’ll be paying about 200pcm less for the same term. At the end of the 5 year fixed period I will be in position to sell everything and buy a flat for cash (probably) or at least be almost solvent. It’s actually everything I wanted - and I don’t have to go through the accounts stage so I can legitimately make a loss last year - which will save me a lot of money. I think it’s all OK - but I have to go through it all again in detail over the weekend. I tried talking to my brother about it but it wasn’t making any sense to me. I did think about going for interest only for a couple of years - but I can’t face that - it’s everything I scoff at.

I really don’t know where things are going with work - I honestly need to take a break from it all. I can see my future in this industry getting shorter and shorter.

3 people have been openly quite hostile towards me this week for no reason that I know of, it’s a bit weird - we’re generally quite friendly - but there has been the same odd ‘edge’ across all of them - they all know each other. I’m not being paranoid. It reminded me of being in school.

I had to spend some social time with the worst person I’ve met in years this week. I now fully understand the expression ‘virtue singnaling’ - it was excruciating. Smug white middle class privilage is a real thing.

My greyhound is showing his age more every day - it will be endgame soon. My whippet now needs to piss in the dining room at least 8 times a day. I will never be able to let anyone into the house again as long as she lives - and even then I’ll need to replace the floorboards.

I am struggling with the thought of getting through tomorrow - if I don’t get paid by someone I’ll literally be penniless. Which is quite absurd, as I don’t spend money (I live on nothing) and on paper - I’m somehow in excellent financial position,  I work 6 days a week, owe less money and have more equity and assets than at any time in my entire life - but can’t afford to by a loaf of bread. It’s fucking stupid. I don’t even have a credit card.

One of my clients sent me a crate of craft beers as a thank you. That hasn’t happened in 20 years. Nobody ever says thank you.

I have a client meting tomorrow, and then I need to deal with a lot of work and a couple of really difficult things that will probably upset me. At least it’s Friday.


I don’t know why I bother worrying about anything - the world is in Chaos, The Trump disaster is crawling towards an endgame - and it will be messy. I can’t bear to think about what happened in Spain today.

Sunday, 13 August 2017

Sunday

I'm spoiling you with two posts a week.

went to work today. Didn’t really want to - but I had stuff that needed peace and quiet and Sunday is the best time. I was in the studio at about 10 past nine. I walked past the central Yates’s bar on the way in, there were people sitting outside drinking pints of lager. At 9am. On a Sunday. I don’t understand any of that.

By about lunchtime I’d done perhaps half of what I needed. Then it all went wrong, I was told anecdotally that the contact I have been dealing with on a large project (that has been dragging on for a while but is quite high profile) - has resigned and left. It is quite a lot of money, also - I have a suspicion they have not formalised the project with their managers and I am going to find it very hard to convince them to pay me or even continue with the project. This happened once about 15 years ago with Habitat and it took nearly 2 years to get paid. I really need that money - and I have been putting projects to one side and turning stuff down because it has been so complicated and time consuming. I was so pissed off I came home and went to bed for 2 hours. I’ve woken up with a  really bad headache now.

When I woke up - I could hear raised voices outside. We have a new neighbour. He rents a large house opposite. He has 2 small cars and 2 ‘4 by 4’ types and goes out at weekends somewhere rural and brings back a lot of mud that he never clears off the road or pavement. He’s very selfish and parks on the grass and clogs up the street. He was shouting at another neighbour because this guys car was parked too close to his.The other neighbour is about 75 and has a tiny Micra (he’s also a milkman with an actual milk float), I had to stand at the window waiting in case it all got out of hand and I needed to intervene - it went on and on and on for about an hour.

I’m incredibly tired and incredibly pissed off. I’m hoping that this week the mortgage thing goes through without too much drama - but I’m not banking on it. I have another really good reason for ending it to go through smoothly and without any distraction - but I’ll talk about that later.

The events in America this weekend have left me feeling sick and angry. I have fallen out with quite a few people over the last year because of this and things like it - in particular the trendy, middle class idiocy of people on the smug left who moaned that they didn’t want Hillary but were prepared to accept Trump instead. This is all as much their fault as anyone else’s.


It’s hot and sunny outside, I’m going to have pasta and ten get an early night - next week looks rubbish already.