Archive for May, 2012

Operation New Sax!

Finally it’s arrived! One day from China to Coventry, two weeks sat at customs, another couple of days being sent to London then Liverpool, then being held there until I paid the import tax (£18, plus £13 handling fee to Parcel Force, robbing bastards.)

Finally got it on Friday. It’s ace. It looks titchy, but it’s surprisingly loud and the keys feel natural, just the same as playing the tenor.

Here it is, the tenor and my new soprano saxophone:

Saxs 

Honestly, how cool is that?

It’s like Dr Evil and Mini-Me of the sax world. Of course, looking at it now I am seeing the want of an alto sax (the middle sized one) in the picture. Maybe some other birthday.

Yes, 46. It’s a bit of ‘meh’ birthday. 45 seems a biggie, 50 seems monumental but 46 is just…’whatever’.

 

All my news is good, really this week. Sax finally made it and it’s awesome. My leg was feeling iffy after doing my first ride-to-run session for ages. I pulled up short and walked it back home. I gave it a week and did a ten miler yesterday and my leg was fine. Apart from the blisters, obviously.

Blister!

So I did another run today (Sunday). Both times nearly killed me though, due to the phenomenal heat. Unbelievable.  After yesterdays near-death-experience I bought some factor 50+ sun cream. Stable door and horses with Lord Lucan.

 

Sun!

Ho hum.

Also this week I’ve found out about a non calorie-controlled diet. You are allowed to eat as much as you like, so you are never  hungry, but only of real food. No processed, sugar and salt added food or drink and you have to keep your carb meals separate from your fat ones. That’s about it. It’s about working with the body to diet, not starving it so it tries to turn all food into fat and eats your lean muscle tissue. Sounds too good to be true. I’ll tell you how it goes next week.

Work is fine. Wendy is all recovered from her bad patch. Luke is being royally screwed by some letting agency, but I’ll have to go into that in some detail and this is just a quick one, Wendy needs to get to sleep. I’ll update that later.

Better sign off in point of fact. Got to go and roast like a potato in a microwave in my sunburnt skin.

Later,

Buck.

Times they are a changing.

I am in a bit of a dilemma with work. The job I have is steady, Mon-Fri on the same run. I know the route, I know the job, I can find the places and reverse safely into them. I’m not fantastic on that blind-side reverse still, but adequate. On Friday I was running out of driving hours, down to my last two minutes, so I surprised myself by slamming it on really well. Can’t guarantee I won’t make a total hash of it again on Monday, though. The thing is, I am doing it. However much I faff about, I’m getting it done.

On Friday they also sent me to another drop, the first time I’d had to pick up from there. The yard was quite small and had obstructions along the fence so it was a tight reverse without room to pull forward to straighten up first. I had two warehouse lads leaning out to watch me, and I did it first go. I’m not boasting, this is my job after all. But I have come a long way and am actually settling down and confidently doing things. I remember the nervous wreck I was at Stobbarts. I had no idea what was going on half of the time I was reversing.

My dilemma is this; do I stick with this job (steady, do-able, but short, inconvenient hours, not massive pay) or do I risk re-applying for that Igloo job? (To which I referred a few months back.)

It’s better hourly pay, a lot more hours, sealed trailers (you don’t have to do anything with them to unload them, just drive them and swap them at the depots) and the shift start times are what you want (4am-6am, I would choose.)

Everything about Igloo is better, except I don’t know where all their depots are. I have a map, satnav and google maps/ navigation on my ‘phone. Once I’ve found each one once I should be alright. What I’ve been doing is getting a print off of the instructions to each site and writing notes on them. Sorted for next time then.

It’s really a matter of when, not if I re-apply.

The thing that is holding me back is lack of confidence. I’m scared of assessments for a start, even though I sailed through my last one. Then there’s the fear of the unknown. What if it’s loads of tiny yards you have to blind-side into? What if I have another bump? You see, while I’m at this works I am getting better, and if I do have a bump can go and get a better job. If I have a bump at Igloo I’ve thrown away a steady job and buggered my chances with the good job.

The idea is in my head now though.

 

One thing I should say, being a driver is so much better than my previous jobs. Whenever I see the warehouse lads now I’m reminded. No chilling, always rushing with someone telling you what to do, and all the jobs involve grafting. A human as a graft machine. Not so with this lark. Have to wait three hours for a unit (truck)? Pop into the canteen and drink coffee. Here’s your drops for the day…see you tomorrow. It’s all chill. And because you are driving it passes the time. I’m working a lot longer shifts now, but it doesn’t seem like work. I remember when that driver I knew twenty years ago found out I’d passed my test. He shook my hand and said “Congratulations, mate. You’re going to fucking hate it!” I said at the time to one of my workmates “There speaks a man who’s never picked boxes in –28C.”

 

In other news, I’ve tried my final strategy before resorting to the doctors; rested my leg for weeks until it had stopped hurting then warmed up gently but thoroughly before going out for runs. I’ve managed three, ten mile runs and my leg is still working. Touch wood. I am really hopeful that this is it. Fixed. I have to put fifteen minutes into warming up and the same or more warming down, but my leg seems to be holding up. Who knew? Apart, obviously, from every coach, expert, sports advisor and people with common sense.

All my life it’s been a case of chucking my kit on and setting off at a run. It’s only this time around it’s not been in boots. Perhaps, given my age, it would have happened even if I hadn’t buggered my leg with those fancy trainers.

Anyway, the good news is; last Saturday I warmed up then set off for a trial run. My leg was holding up at two miles, so I pushed on. I thought about turning around and just doing a five mile run but soldiered on (out of stubbornness if not good sense) and managed the ten miles. It was a poor time, but that wasn’t the objective. I did it with a working leg.

I’ve been out for two other runs and apart from the usual gripes (blisters, knee throbbing, bones in foot grinding) I seem to be fine. I have been finding the distance a bit of challenge which was annoying me. Then I discussed it with Wendy today, and I probably haven’t done ten, ten mile runs all year. I did two about six weeks ago, then my leg buggered up, before that it was another six weeks and I’m not sure I did two that time.

Anyway, I’ve put on over a stone and done bugger all running this year due to injury, so ten miles is not too shameful. I want to shed a stone or so before our holiday so I can fit in my wetsuit for sea swims.

 

The other thing in my life at the moment is my soprano sax. Or rather, it isn’t in my life. I have a tracking jobby (which I have sussed out how to use) and it shows the map and times. It took one day to get from the factory in China to Customs and Excise in Coventry. Eleven days it’s been sat there. GRRRRRR! So no saxing whilst I’m sat, bored in my truck.

 

A Swedish trucker chum (@TruckerLez) has suggested a book for me, though. The Passage. So far it’s good. A bit like Stephen King’s The Stand, people have said. But with vampires. I took her recommendation after she told me about The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo. She had it (in the original Swedish) in audio book to listen to in her truck. She said the prose was that clunky she had to keep stopping it to scream. She was bob on with that.

Got to go, bedtime is upon us.

Later,

Buck.

Good days.

Yes, even I have them. The last couple of days have been pretty good. I started off shaky on Friday. The blind side reverse has been eating away at my confidence so that even when I’ve finally got it into position I’ve been having to take a few shunts to get it squarely on the bay. It’s a knock-on effect, so I’d started flapping even at my other depots where I am comfortably competent.

Friday started badly, I lost position in the yard at Irlam and in my haste (and to be fair, due to a really shit truck. I know; a bad workman always blames his tools. This was shit though. Brakes that do nothing until you ram the pedal into the floor and a different automatic gearbox, which shifts down a gear when you put it into reverse, not straight into reverse gear.) I ended up bumping into another trucks wing mirror. Luckily it was mirror to mirror, and no harm was done but my confidence was shot. Again.

From that nadir it started picking up. Some arsehole in a rigid truck parked across my bay so I had to do some fancy reversing around him to get on the bay. I did it OK.  My first drop was the place that had loaded me with the infamous ‘wobbly’ pallet. This time was worse. I check every load me after that, and this time they’d loaded boxes that were two pallets long (on two pallets). The boxes were stacked high, but not that wide, so were balanced in the middle of the pallets, and because they’d had to put it in length ways (Oo-er, mrs!) were on their own at the back of the trailer. So; boxes balanced on pallets, with nothing around them to support them. Ideal. If they could have packed them in sweating dynamite on egg shells it would have been perfect.

I looked at it and despaired. I put two straps on the load to try and hold it in place but I wasn’t optimistic. I tried to drive as smoothly as possible. Not easy when your brakes routine is: stamp, nothing, nothing, stamp harder, nothing, HOLY SHIT! STAMP! *thrown forward*

To my surprise when I opened the back doors at Northampton the load was still upright! Go me! Then I tried that manoeuvre the guy had suggested, screw the truck around as though I was going back out of the yard, pull forward until the back of my trailer was pointing in the right general direction (and here’s the thing, I could still see it! When you can see it you can steer it.) then just reverse in as normal. Through your blind side mirror, obviously, but if you are lined up it’s straight forward.

I cracked it! I don’t know if there is enough room to screw it around when there are trailers with units on them, but when the yard is open like that it’s do-able.

That made me very happy.

 

Today, Saturday,  I’ve been doing other happy things.

I rang up to scrap the Micra (the emails having all disappeared into the ether) and the guy said £100. Once I’d made sure it was him giving me the £100 and not the other way around, I was happy. 

The clarinet sold for £81. *sighs* It cost £150, plus £28 for the mouthpiece upgrade plus the ‘learn as you play’ book. Grrr.

Still, the two combined have given me enough for a (truck portable) soprano sax. I ordered it today! Yay! 

 

Also today I’ve booked us a week in Cornwall in July. Not much, but it’s a break. If I don’t book it I’ll end up not taking a holiday this year. As I am a ‘self employed sub contractor’ I don’t get paid holidays. If I don’t work I don’t get paid. I am hoping to get taken on full time at some point. Until then I have to live as is.

 

I’ve taken our Lisa for a few drives as she’s after her car license. She’s really pretty good. She’s using my parents car when they bugger off to Bulgaria. This is less than perfect. She was hoping to get on their insurance, but as they are not in the country she won’t be able to swing that. The policy holder has to be the main driver. They can’t claim that from abroad, I can’t at a different address with a car in my name (not that I would, m’lud) so she’s screwed. She can legally add the parents as additional drivers to try to bring the premium down. I looked it up for her. As a brand new driver, even with the maximum (18 years) experience of the additional drivers the quote was grim. The problem is, it’s a 1.4 litre car. The best quote I could get was £1,281.88! Ouch. It went down to £800 or so with a year’s no claims bonus, but still ouch.

For comparison I tried the same quote on the Micra. First year, £518. Still steep, but in perspective not robbery. Luke (Wendy’s son, in his 30’s) tried to get a quote on the same car and the best he could get was £1,600! For a car  worth (it was) a couple of hundred quid.

 

Wendy is off up town tonight with a workmate. Going to see The Damned. A bunch of late middle aged geezers trying to rock the yoof rebellion scene. Luke is at the same gig in a professional capacity, he’s the town photographer for occasions. They are using his work on some banners they are putting up around town apparently. If anyone wants a photographer/ computer geek he is available, modest rates. (I’d better get commission for this!)

 

I have spent the night cleaning the bathroom. I think I got the better night. Apart from the stench of bleach which is now in my nose and knocking me ill. I was going to really push the boat and fill in my self assessment tax return but it doesn’t have to be in until the end of January it seems, so screw that.

 

Tomorrow we are thinking of going to see Avengers Assemble. The superhero gang thing. Not Purdy and Steed doing Ikea furniture. It’s one of Joss Whedon’s so we are more or less guaranteed to love it. Joss is the geezer who did Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Angel, Firefly, Serenity and Dollhouse. He rocks our world. “We are not worthy, we are not worthy.”

 

I’ve doused my t-shirt in patchouli oil to take away the stench of bleach. And I’m sucking a mint. Riveting stuff, eh?

 

Wendy’s just got back, she’s buzzing off the gig. Larf. Still, she had a good night and behaved herself so all is win. I am ordered to tell everyone The Damned were ace. She had a brilliant time.

 

Oh, and I didn’t get a speeding ticket. Or it’s a week late if they do try and hit me with one.

 

Later,

Buck.