Thursday, 15 January 2015


Dreadful weather all night, not so good today, either. Brief blue skies and sudden sea squalls all day. Much colder this evening. Very wet.

Among other things today - I did some paper shuffling. I'm waiting for last years Mortgage statement - I've already worked out that I should be now under £80k - that's pretty good, I'll have paid off about 25% of my mortgage since I lived here - and most people I do know with mortgages that are my age owe far more. I still have two and a half years of fixed rate period - which is handy - It gives me an 'exit strategy timeline'. The worst that can happen (presuming I don't lose the place)  is that I'm still here then. Of course - if I'd not been on a long term fixed rate scheme - with interest rates having dropped down to nothing just after I bought the place, I'd have been paying a lot less, but I really needed the long term security - like most self employed people. My motivation was to try and identify where I had been paying PPI - and frustratingly there are a couple of black holes where a box of paperwork was lost in the last move, but also to go through the paperwork on this place with a view to tackling the insurance company (more on that later).

One of the nice things about the Internet is that it can tell you almost anything - using a variety of different resources I was able to get a resale figure on this place, presuming it's done up and looking sharp) of between £155k and £160k - which sort of suggests I have about 50% equity. Of course, that's rubbish. I need a new roof, bay window, hot water, heating and a full interior makeover first - but it's a start. Ironically - this house would be worth about a million in Fulham or Putney, even as it is - that's just the way the chips fall. This all me feel slightly less poor. The totally wrecked house at the end of the road went for £115k last April and is on the market now for £169k. It may actually have sold already - not sure, there is someone new in there but they may be renting.

Going through 20 years of paperwork was a bit disheartening. I have a spectacularly good memory, especially when prompted - and remembered everything, every letter I wrote or received - everything I signed. The estate agent who sold my house in Liverpool ( they were complete bastards and totally corrupt) wrote all their letters in Comic Sans - a flush of fury and disgust went through me when I saw them and remembered the grief they put me through. There were a couple of bits of correspondence from my bank that were covered with my hand written notes, one was during a conversation with my mothers bank where I begged them to cancel her credit cards and limit her bank card - partly because she was getting very confused and during manic episodes would go on spending sprees over the phone, and partly because people were really taking advantage of her - coming to the door and selling her things at vastly inflated prices. Of course - the bank said no - despite everything it's really difficult to manage a situation like that. Another was a written 'live' record of a conversation I had with the hospital in Chester where I was trying to get her referred to a consultant near the end of her life. It included the a list of points I was trying to emphasise to a disinterested and bureaucratic woman at the other end of the phone...

"cannot walk - cannot stand"
"will not communicate"
"refuses to leave house"
"needs full time care"
"probably has gangrene in left hand"
"needs specialist ambulance to take her to hospital"

... that sort of thing. When we finally managed to get her there - the ambulance was a late - we got caught in traffic and ended up being 4 mins late for the appointment, the consultant refused to see her and I made a scene and we had to deal with a locum who spoke almost no English and was VERY unsympathetic. I don't think he had any geriatric experience. It was all a waste of time - by the time we got home she picked up a cold which became pneumonia and she died a few weeks later.

There are copies of documents I wish I hadn't signed - including the sale paperwork for my house in Brighton, one in particular I signed in my solicitors office and I still remember my hand hovering over the paper - pen poised, taking a deep breath and thinking "why the fuck am I doing this, run!" I also collated 20 years of bank statements and accounts - even randomly digging into a bank statement now from any point in that period and I can instantly recall every transaction. Just a cursory look through and I found the transfer to pay for a new roof on my old house, going to see a film in Liverpool (Brokeback Mountain - I hated it) and Xmas shopping for someone I was in a very serious relationship with. So, nothing too cheerful, then. I really wish I could just totally forget the past sometimes, just wake up a blank slate with only basic social skills intact.

I managed to find most of what I was looking for - unfortunately - Banks and building societies go to a great deal of trouble to hide things - only one of my mortgage statements identifies the exact amount of PPI I was paying monthly as a separate figure. It's really hard to decipher.

After I'd collated all the house stuff, and gone through the sales and purchasing paperwork - I found nothing at all to indicate there had been a fire in this house - I knew there wouldn't be, so I suddenly became quite bold and called the solicitor to ask for advice. To my surprise, they were really nice about it, sounded helpful and agreed that I should have known about the fire. They are (hopefully) going to call me back with more information. I'm not prepared to call the insurance company without being primed, they walked all over me last time and I'm really sore about that.

One of the more alarming things that happened today was a series Linkedin updates (I get them automatically). I don't think people realise that when half a companies' staff update their profiles on the same day - it kinda suggests that all is not well. Perhaps I'm just a paranoid idiot - but it made me uncomfortable.

I'm in the office early tomorrow - meeting at lunchtime and then hopefully home early - the temperature is going to drop again - I'm looking forward to being at home again already.

I just made a giant vegetable lasagna, it was actually quite tasty but looked awful and wasn't something I'd ever serve to a guest. Just as well that I liked it - I have about 6 portions left.

According to the pope, freedom of speech 'has it's limits' - well, he would say that, wouldn't he.


Anonymous said...

You don't need to privide any info about PFI mis-selling. Just approach the organisation & they have to do the rest for you.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for that further comment the other day Richard

I don’t know why I had probs posting before – I wrote the post on your blog comments section, it seemed to upload, but then when refreshing the page it disappeared, hence my slightly cryptic remarks. Eventually it seemed to stick after about 4 or 5 attempts.

Anyway – cheers for the further info. I sometimes have reason to go to North Kent / Rochester area and usually do that by train, so next time I do I’ll be sure to have a look in the carriages for any of the artwork. I guess Chris Green / Network Southeast must have decided the artwork was well liked and they would commission it for any new trains built during that period, so I suppose a number of routes had it that I was not aware of.

From what you describe they are very robust. I now live in the midlands and have over time had a few friends who have worked at what is now the only UK place they build trains at in Derby. I guess they use the production process for the interior panels that you describe, just the clients for the trains don’t bother to commission any artwork sadly.

When I’ve seen some of the trains ‘renovated’ it looks to me as if they have replaced the bulkhead panels with the artwork on (eg with new panels with new ’formica’ type stuff, without any art), or somehow spray coated a new colour scheme onto the existing panels, thus obliterating the art, which of course may or may not exist hidden underneath!

But good to hear that you think a set of them might be hidden away somewhere.

All the best. Good luck with the PPI - I'd imagine PPI for self employed people would be very expensive, if it ever was likely to genuinely pay out...but I can't say I have ever bought any so don't know for sure.


Grey Area said...

PPI is very tricky - I could just hand it over, but I'd really like to have a better handle on it - and as a self employed person, I should never have been sold it in the first place - hence the mis-selling.

I've also had problems posting - I think it's a blogger issue.

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