Archive for February, 2009

Did anyone get the number of that bus?

Well, what a couple of days I’ve had. I had been a bit tickly for a few days, nothing serious just the odd cough. I started feeling a bit rough on Tuesday night, thought no more of it and toddled off to bed. When I got up Wednesday morning at 5 I felt like death. Hot and cold sweats, massive headache, thoughts not quite right, just holding my head up was an effort. I ‘phoned in sick, had a Lemsip and went back to bed. I was taking paracetamol every four hours, then I was sick, started with diarrhoea, was a bit delirious, and still in massive pain from the headache.

I decided my body was trying to tell me something with the evacuation, so set to starving myself for 48 hours. This was exceptionally easy given how I felt. I barely got out of bed Wednesday or Thursday, I was having pain killers every four hours around the clock (screw the ‘do not exceed four doses in 24 hours’, if that’s what they want, make stronger pills)! By the middle of Thursday night the pain was so severe I couldn’t even wait the full four hours.

And by the way, to any mothers who read this, I looked it up on the Internet comparative pain guide, and it said "Yeah, you wish you were in labour! This is proper pain, not one twinge every five minutes."

Which is to pre-empt my sister. When Wendy was telling her how the doctor had to try to talk to me to stop me from passing out from the pain of not properly anaesthetised vasectomy, she said "How long was he on the table for, 15 minutes? I was in labour for 38 hours!"

I was that desperate I even considered praying! I was thinking on the lines that it couldn’t do any harm, but then I got to thinking it must surely end sometime, and I didn’t want to be that hypocritical.

Then I tried a few of the Buddhist Jedi mind tricks, and whilst they do allow you to accept the pain, the effort of holding the concentration was as tiring as the rolling around whimpering (manfully, you understand).

Anywho, the headache finally broke at 3am today (Friday).

By that time I’d been in bed for two days, and necked a hell of a lot of pain killers, so when my head stopped hurting I was fully able to appreciate the degree of discomfort the small of my back was in. So still no restful sleep.

I’ve been on tenterhooks since about 7 this morning, which is when the last lot of pain killers should have ran out. It’s 10.11 am and still no headache. Please let that be it. It wasn’t just the degree of the pain, it was not knowing when it was ever going to end. I was actually going to go to the doctors this morning. It had come to that. Though they never treat me I was going to beg! I thought the way it was going I was going to be in dire pain all weekend, and possibly do myself a serious mischief what with the cavalier overdosing and all.

So now, it’s sit up straight, try and ease my back off, drink plenty of fluids to flush my liver, and hope like buggery I never get that again.

I am a deathly grey colour at the moment, and I’ve lost four pounds in two days, so every cloud does indeed have a silver lining.

Later,

Buck.

The only church you’ll get me in is Charlotte

We are getting married. Wendy and I, not Charlotte Church. In the registry office, not the church, sorry Charlotte.

Right, preliminary confusion sorted out we can proceed. Wendy and I are to be wed. A week on Thursday (the fifth of March). Thirteen years, seven months, and three weeks after we started seeing each other again (we went out for a year on a separate occasion prior to that). Personally I think we should heed the adage "Marry in haste, repent at leisure", but little miss impetuous will insist. I’ll just have to keep my wits about me if she starts saying that I should take out life insurance.

We had ruminated over doing the deed and then telling everyone. That way we could have the quiet, no fuss, just making it legal, sort of affair we were after. However, we thought the family might be miffed. So we’ve announced it. Spectacular non-event. I sent an email to my mob, they couldn’t even get up the enthusiasm to acknowledge receipt, never mind say if they were coming or not. Admittedly, it is going to be deathly dull. We don’t drink, do other drugs, or anything else that makes not being dead seem worthwhile. So it’s a quick service, then home again for a nice cup of tea. However, as this is my only time I’m to wed, you’d have thought someone would have at least said ‘congratulations’.

Not a sausage. I gave it about four days, then when Wendy was getting on at me, rang them up to see if they’d got the email. I think they were going to be apathetic, but couldn’t be arsed.

Should have gone with plan A.

Now (that I have rang them) my sister wants me us to do something. Go the pub (we don’t drink, see above) or have a barbeque (I’m a veggie, it’s going to be March, and we will be wearing nice togs which we don’t want smelling of smoke. Also we don’t drink). Apparently Wendy’s sister has similar, though doubtless more expensive, ideas (we are also skint). Got to make a fuss.

This is what I didn’t want.

It’s like being dead; there’s nothing to worry about once you are, it’s becoming so that is the unpleasant bit.

In other news, I have started trying to learn Russian again. I have come across a stack of audio and literary stuff and it has fuelled my interest again. This gives me some consolation after having to abandon (suspend, hopefully) my previous newest obsession, Wing Chun Kung Fu. The money just isn’t there to keep going at the moment.

I missed my grading for Taekwondo, had a sulk for a week and will have to return on Wednesday still on my first belt! Big bummer.

My ‘to do’ list is somewhat contradictory at the mo; get license and massively well paid job (which will probably entail working 60 hrs per week) then somehow train four nights a week in TKD and Wing Chun, buy and learn to play a saxophone, buy a motorbike, and at the same time pay off all my debts and start saving for a mortgage. Somewhere along the line I have to squeeze in: ‘learn Buddhism, achieve Nirvana’. It’s all go.

Later,

Buck.

…and, relax.

Well bugger me! What a difference a day makes. I’ve gone from blind panic to hopeful. Yesterday I was working out our finances and finding them wanting in all but debts, today it might be a done deal.

Wendy was at the Citizens Advice today (as a volunteer) and was approached by the trainer there, (who is on the main management committee) and told to start thinking about applying for a job as several of the debt people there are leaving. There is to be a big shuffle of positions and jobs will be being advertised. A nod being as good as a wink (to a blind horse), I’d say Wendy’s in with a good chance for one of them. Then when she got home she was ‘phoned by one of the women she used to work with at another branch who told her they had jobs coming up, including her old one! Apparently they’ve not been able to find a suitable long term replacement for Wendy, as all who’ve followed her have been rubbish. Allegedly. (Who knows who reads these things, or how litigious they might be?)

So in the space of a day it’s all turned around. Yesterday I was a panic stricken having realised the credit was about to run out, today I reckon it’s just a matter of hanging in for another month or so and we’ll be solvent again. This takes the pressure off me for my driving. I reckon Wendy’s a shoe-in for one of the jobs that are coming up, so I can just relax and do my driving. Now it’s just a matter of time until I pass, (the funding is as good as in place). Whilst I would like to pass first time I don’t have to flap about it if I don’t. Then just apply for every job going. Also if Wendy does get one of these jobs I can spend a final £500 and get that ADR (hazardous goods) license, then I’ve got everything I need to be a petrol tanker driver. Artic, ADR, tanker driver, world domination. That’s the plan.

I’ve spent all night roughing out the figures for when we both have the jobs to which we aspire. Even a conservative estimate (IF we both get them) puts us debt free by the end of this year! Which would probably be the first time for me since…, well, since I could get credit. Which is when I had my first proper job after leaving school. I will be so happy on that day. I seem to be forever playing catch up on what I’ve already spent (and in the good old days; drank, smoked, or crashed).

I’ve been driving Wendy to distraction all night working it out. The debts we will pay, the savings account (savour the concept) we can open. Who knows; a cheap bike, a sax, maybe even a holiday. It would be our second proper holiday in the thirteen years we’ve been together, so probably not too soon.

Money can’t buy happiness.

Hmm, I aim to put that adage to some rigorous scientific testing. OK, I know it means that without your health riches are worthless, but after 25 years of being stony broke, having my debts paid, serious money coming in and my health would be bloody brilliant.

Well, even if it all amounts to naught, I’ve had a bloody good evening planning how great everything is going to be.

Later,

Buck.

Panic when I do…, PANIC!

Oh my. Went for my hour’s assessment in an artic today. They are spiffy. It’s like the flight deck of the Enterprise in the cab. Big computer to run everything, an air sprung seat that weighs you then sets itself to your weight, half gears (where if you change up and it’s a bit much for the engine, or hit a hill and start to lose momentum you just flick a switch, dip the clutch and you’re away again). Even cruise control, you just flick it on and the engine carry’s on without driver input. This leaves you free to rest your foot and play on your laptop (or something). The downside is it’s weird as hell to drive. It’s massive for a start. It’s like taking Wales for a joyride. Then the aforementioned air sprung seat, which is doubtless the last word in comfort, bounces you up and down like a yo-yo making your foot bob up and down on the accelerator. Weird, and not a little nerve wracking. Then there’s the location of the training place; Manchester for a start, (I had a minor panic attack trying to find the damn place, the flashback to my abortive attempt to become a despatch rider round there was only too vivid.) and in a yard with a normal sized gate at right angles to a titchy little back street, to boot. Just being in the cab with the guy driving it out of there put years on me.

I had a go at a driving, (in more or less a straight line) pulling over and setting off again, a U turn (you start driving more or less at your own trailer. So weird) and a quick reverse in the yard. The reverse seems easy enough.

Long and short of which is; I’ve signed up for 20 hours driving and a test. Starting the 9th of March, test on Friday the 13th.

The panic thing in the title, is I then had to pay for it. £809.  That leaves me with about £1,000 available credit. Or to put it another way: about another three tests, if I fail the first time. Then I’m out of credit. God knows what happens then. Selling my bottom around town when the fleet is in, I suppose.

So, no pressure there then. As those new aerodynamic, allegedly tree hugging, planet saving Marks and Sparks trailers proclaim, "because there is no plan B". This has to work. I have to pass within available credit. I have to get a job and earn vast amounts of money. And it all has to happen within the next few months.

If this was just me I wouldn’t worry. Run up the credit then let them try and take from me what I don’t have. However, the card I have been running up is in Wendy’s name. She would take it amiss if she were brought to book for it. She’s like that. When (not if) I do get a job out of this I expect to be working a 60 hour week, so I will soon be able to extricate us from the mountain of pooh beneath which I am currently burying us. But right now it’s looking decidedly like a gamble. If I pass and get work, it will all be worth it. If I can’t pass, or pass and then can’t find work… .

Have to try and get a franchise in the rapidly expanding selling-crack-to-schoolkids market. Woe onto Bucky.

Later,

Buck.

PS one moment of cheer today; some numpty doing telephone sales. He was trying to sell me BT broadband. The joy of it was I was only looking at it the other day so I was up on my facts. He asked me who my IP was, said AOL, he asked if I  was on a contract and when it ran out would I be interested in changing to BT? The joy was this gave me the opportunity to say "No. The line here is crap so I can’t download any faster, AOL is cheaper than BT and has unlimited downloads. Why would I want to pay more for less?" He said "Oh, goodbye then" and hung up! That was lovely. The amount of unsolicited calls we’ve had and you have to be really assertive/ downright rude or hang up to get rid of them. He gave up and went crying for mummy. MWAHAHAHA

Happy Bucky

Hi again. I say I’m happy in the title, and indeedy I am. Tired (as ever on 6-2) but I’m off tomorrow, so big lie-in for the Buckster. So that is spiffy. Taekwondo tomorrow night, (more goodness) in work on Friday then off on Saturday to take my TKD grading. Yay!

Also, on the good news from work front, I had put in a holiday form so I could take the last of my holidays in March. I wanted a week off to take the artic course and test. I wanted to wait till March so if I fail it would not be too long a wait before the new holiday year starts in April. As I said I put the form in only to have it returned with "denied. 16 hours holiday remaining.", on it. This in itself was something of a mystery. Our holidays are expressed in hours, but are in reality an allotted number of days. Our working day is seven and a half hours, so that meant I had two days and one hour of holiday left to book.

I’m still in the process of trying to get a resolution to that pay dispute from the 20th of December through my useless manager so my expectation of getting a happy result from this situation was not great.,  When I pointed out the impossible nature of the hours remaining to me to my manager (as per chain of command) he just told me to submit another holiday form and see what they said.

Instead I went to the manager responsible for holidays and he sorted it out in a couple of minutes. I actually had three and a half days holiday left. So he took my holiday form off me again, then returned it the next day, approved. Big yay!

Tomorrow I can ring up Enterprise, a truck training place in Manchester strongly recommended to me by one of our drivers, and hopefully arrange for a course starting Monday the 9th of March. The not so good news (for the superstitious) is that will put my test date on Friday the 13th! I am not superstitious, touch wood.

More good news is we finally have something good to watch on telly. ‘Being Human’. It’s about a bunch of housemates and the darkly humorous nature of their affairs. The twist that makes it interesting is that one of the housemates is a vampire, another a werewolf, and the third a ghost. It’s witty, subversive, intelligent, and everyone should watch it to make sure they make another series.

The black cloud that surrounds the silver lining at work is that one of the main managers was walking a gaggle of agency bosses around our department today, so it looks like it’s only a matter of time before one of them puts in a cheap enough bid. Then they get to run De-Kit, and we get thrown out. I wouldn’t mind if I could avoid going back into the freezer, but that was the rumoured destination for us when the agency were rumoured to be bidding on the contract. The latter is looking definite which would seem to lend weight to the verity of the former. Come on that driving course.

Lots to do on the morrow, bed now,

Later,

Buck.

The old ball and chain

Well I’m back at work these past two days. That was rough, going back and trying to graft, not sure if I would be able to make it through the shift or not. Still, I did. They all thought I’d got a driving job and was ‘phoning in sick, presumably to give the job a go. No such luck. Besides, as I have told them on many occasions, I am waiting until I pass my artic, and then trying to get a job at our place before looking for jobs further afield.

I’ve not managed to go to Taekwondo for about a month now. I missed the lessons on the week before my grading, and consequently the grading, and every time I thought I had a chance to go I’ve started feeling ill. I’ve certainly not been up to it since last Wednesday when my latest evil cold struck. I had thought to go tomorrow as I’m off and all, but Wendy was a bit put out. Apparently not only do I have to go to the hassle of going up town to the registry office tomorrow, but on wedding days it would appear one traditionally does not go to ones TKD club in the evening.

Bloody weddings. Last time for me I tell you. Way too much hassle, and you can’t get to your club. You should be able to do it on the internet. You can get a Thai bride mailed to you no problem, but you have to go to town to get married.

On the bright side, it is just the once, and it will be nice to see Jo (whom I’ve not seen in years) and generally get it over with.  It’s a shame Wendy couldn’t have hung in there another year, as it turns out she did want a big fuss after all. In a year we should both be bringing in relatively big bucks and therefore we could have made an event out of this.

If that’s what she wanted though it would have helped if (1), she’d have mentioned it, and (2), like I say, waited a bit longer until we had the cash to do something about it.

Still ‘we are where we are’, as an infamous war-criminal once said (yes, you, bLIAR). I’m not bothered, me. But if it would have made Wendy a happy bunny, that is the way I would have liked to have gone.

And if I can’t go to my club tomorrow at least we have two episodes of ‘Heroes’ to catch up on. I’m tired, I was having disturbing werewolf dreams last night, based around the character in ‘Being Human’ (the rather excellent series that ended on Sunday). Right, quick shower and bed. Hard days getting wed tomorrow.

Later,

Buck.

And there’s more…

Goddamn! That Autoglass thing turned into a farce. I was thinking originally of paying for it myself to keep the insurance out of it. To save money I arranged to drop it off at the nearest centre rather than have them come out and do it. After the horror of the £405 quote I promptly changed my mind and put it through the insurance. Then I was told it would be an hour to fit, another hour for the glue to set before it could be driven away. Having no option, I accepted.

Then later on I thought about it, if the insurance were paying for it, why not get it done at home? So I rang their call centre back to ask if would be possible. The guy actually laughed at me! Went on to tell me how the weather was too cold for the glue to set on a call out, that the light would be failing at my appointment time of 4.30, and in essence, not his problem but it wasn’t happening.

Again, lacking any option I had to acquiesce.

Thinking about it on Sunday morning I decided against going to my IAM meeting. Thought they would probably have strong views about driving a vehicle that was one jolt away from having the windscreen fall out.

So, biting the bullet, I threw my pushbike into the Micra and drove down to the centre. In the snow. When I got there they had no idea who I was, or that I was booked in at all. 15 minutes on the ‘phone later, the guy confirms that I am booked in, and asks me to come back in hour to pick it up. I replied that I thought it needed an hour to set after fitting. He told me it did, but their chap had another appointment (a call out. In the same cold and dark that had made it impossible for me to change my arrangements to a call out!) so wouldn’t be on site. If I could just come back in an hour he’d give me the keys to the Micra, bugger off on call and leave me sat in the car park for an hour waiting for the glue to set! Imagine my delight!

In the event when I returned to start my vigil the fitter was still at work, and allowed me to stay on the premises while the glue set (for half an hour. He gave me some blag about it not needing the full hour because I only had one airbag.) and then tried to explain how they had cocked up and apologised repeatedly. This soothed my rage, but it was still extremely shoddy service.

The other news is after talking about my finances the other day I did some sums. The two martial arts I am currently doing, if you add the insurance from both clubs, lessons and gradings, come to £990 a year! That’s without the £100 worth of kit I have to but if I want to compete in TKD, or the £50 for a Wing Chun uniform. So, sadly, I am going to have to suspend the dearer of the two, the Wing Chun Kung Fu, and just do the basic lessons and grading at Taekwondo. Still, as soon as our circumstances change (when Wendy gets her job, or when I get my artic license and a driving job, or preferably both) I’ll go back. I’m not sure whether to go to the club and tell them I will be leaving for a while, or just explain when I go back and flop my wad on the counter demanding the complete package. (That is not a euphemism!)

Big bummer, but money is getting tighter, and a thousand pound a year is too much of an indulgence. 🙁

Ho hum, I’ll get there in the end. I can’t help but think that time is against me in this though. I could cut out the years of sweat, struggle and payment for lessons and just invest in an automatic pistol. Or a sawn off shotgun. I’ll go and have a look on eBay.

Later,

Buck.

Cars suck bottom

Hi ya’ll,

I’ve got to go for an appraisal drive and arrange to do the training with the Institute of Advanced Motorists tomorrow, so I’ve spent the last few days ‘pimping’ my Micra. I’ve serviced it; oil, oil filter, air filter and spark plugs (which I’ve already done once in the three years I’ve had it. Talk about overkill!) I’ve put air in the tyres, washed the damned thing, (which I did in 2007) and put the rear-view mirror back up. I had taken it off to get used to using my wing mirrors for my truck training. It says in the literature for IAM that you must have at least two mirrors fitted, one of which must be inside the car. I was thinking of trying to get away with taking it literally ( I had two wing mirrors fitted, and one internal mirror, just it was in the glove compartment) but thought it was probably not wise to start off on that note.

Now then, when I first started my truck training I just turned the rear-view mirror around, but one time it just popped off in my hand. Thought no more of it, just stuck it in the glove compartment. So today I had a bit of a flap when after freezing my hands off washing the mighty Micra off with a hosepipe (and proving the adage ‘you can’t polish a turd’) I couldn’t find the mirror. It wasn’t in the glove compartment. It wasn’t there, Richard! (Virgin complaint letter reference there. How funny was that letter?) Anywho, after taking the tapes out three times, checking under the seats, in the boot and asking Wendy if she’d had it off it still wasn’t there. In desperation I took to fumbling around above the compartment, and there it was!

Job’s a good ‘un. Just pop it back on like…,  hmm, really stiff. Shove a little harder…, ‘CRACK’!  The windscreen had cracked. Boundless joy.

So I rang Autoglass for a quote, as their advert says they can repair or replace. Repair, cheaply please. Nope, that’s for chips. Cracks are a new windscreen which leaves you paying the £75 excess on your insurance. I said "hold on a minute, how much is the windscreen? I don’t want to lose my no claims bonus."

"£405."

"Screw that. The insurance can sort it."

So I was less than happy. Wendy, who has come down with a virulent form of Woman-flu, was a tad grumpy. "What you should have done was just black the mirror out"

"Hindsight is 20/20. You learn from your mistakes."

"You should be brilliant then."

Very droll. She’d better watch she doesn’t ‘fall’ down the stairs again! (Joke!)

So the pimped Buck-mobile is going to roll up to the IAM place tomorrow with a cracked windscreen.  Bleeding marvellous.

What else of note has transpired? Well, the word at work is that the new manager of our depot wants to turf De-Kit out and replace us with agency workers. We have a contract on site that is proving a money spinner and is manned (and womaned) entirely by agency. Apparently the Agency geezer was in for a whole shift sizing the job up and was supposed to have put a bid in for the contract a week or so ago. Nothing else was heard, so we thought it had fell through. However, the boss said on Thursday that the agency chap had an appointment with the main manager on Friday. It’s my weekend off so I don’t know if we know how that went. I do know that with Iceland buying those 51 Woolies stores they are having to spend two million quid expanding the frozen section at our site. So they will need a whole lot more frozen staff. It was into the freezer we were supposed to being thrown, if the agency took over our department.

I will be getting another job ASAP, should that transpire.

I wouldn’t mind going back into ambient as a picker. In point of fact I might prefer that. I have come to realise that I either need to cut back on expenditure or get more money. There is overtime going in ambient, but none in de-kit. De-kit is unpredictable as well. Some days you are fresh as a daisy after the shift, others you haven’t stopped grafting and are fit to drop. This makes arranging overtime for after a shift a daunting prospect. Which only leaves working 6 days.

Ho hum.

Things are getting so tight I’m considering suspending the Kung Fu training. I really don’t want to, but I’ve been going for a while now and still haven’t paid the £30/ £70 pound joining uniform fee.

Gotta go, tea’s up!

Later,

Buck.