Well, it was all going so well.
I’d got over my bollock dropping of a few weeks ago. In point of fact, technically, I may not have missed a rota-ed shift. They got my shifts mixed up so thought I was working Saturday, Monday, Tuesday, so the Sunday was officially, mistakenly, my rest day.
That’s by the by, not a word said about it, move on.
So last week I got it sussed. 6 shifts, 65 hours, 2 weekend days (+20%), 11 hours 45 sixth shift (time and three quarters!) laughing all the way to the bank!
Happy, happy Bucky.
Then, on my sixth shift the news came through the company had been bought out. By a company that uses Stobarts for their logistics. Not just because they initially thought to have a third party logistics provider, but because they actually sacked off their unionised, well paid, driving division and brought in Stobarts.
Things like triple time for bank holidays, time and three quarters for sixth shift, overtime at +20%, working past 18.00 20%, midnight- 06.00 +25%, everything that raises our wages from ok, to bloody great, all gone if we get Stobarts.
To say nothing of being treated well, never pushed, stressed, and never being treated like shit.
Nothing any of us can do. We just have to wait to see what happens.
I’m not optimistic. They only have to look at Stobarts driver, 29k max, then us, 44K possible, and rub their hands.
Ho hum. I thought I’d landed my job for life.
So there goes the 50k retirement pad in Spain (even if Theresa the Appeaser doesn’t totally bollocks it up with Europe) and the 10K Triumph Thruxton. Not to mention the Morgan 4-4 I wanted for Wendy when she passes her test.
I mean, look at it:
If you’re popping to Sainsbury’s for a loaf of bread, that’s the general utility vehicle within which you want to travel.
Practical, unassuming, modest, cheap.
Absolutely none of those things.
The one pictured might have issues as it’s *only* £18k, usually at least £10k dearer.
Talking of which, no sign of a rush to buy that, the doctors still haven’t even filled in her medical form from the DVLA. Bastards.
The Spanish lessons went tits up as well. Introduction to holiday Spanish, I was thinking, “Hello my name is Buck. One beer, please. Do you have the number of the British Embassy? Please don’t press charges.”
That sort of thing. The first lesson was just that. Well, the “hello, my name is” bit. The second lesson he gave us a list of Spanish sentences we’d never seen before two lists of words and wanted us to fill in the blanks. It wasn’t until the next morning I worked out the first list of words were pronouns and the second list were conjugations of the verb. (“Is”, I think.)
It wasn’t just me being thick, Wendy was baffled. Other people were saying “Sorry, I don’t understand any of this. Can you start again?”
It was godawful. I think it’s his first attempt at teaching Spanish. He’s a Spanish historian by day. He’s Spanish, he teaches history. I don’t know who’s.
Anyway, the home work was translating lists of food words and organising them into a menu. It was dry, pointless shite. I wanted conversational Spanish.
On the subject of learning, my sax is picking up. I get in at least half an hour most days. I’ve got past the embarrassment of playing it in the yard. I park as far away as I can from the other trucks, then sod ‘em. The alto is still a hefty lump in my bag. I’ve got a 65 litre rucksack, (from my arse to my head) and it fills that. The sax, my satnav and a flat A4 folder are all that fit in the main compartment. I’ve got to squeeze waterproofs, painkillers, glasses, sunglasses, tools, electrical leads, etc into the side pockets. Less than ideal.
I was looking at a soprano sax after I saw a video on youtube. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6vBl5S6CvOs
I had a cheapo Chinese soprano before but it was dog-whistle high and squeaky. Lots of obsessive reading later, I’ve found out sopranos are dear for a reason. They are absolute buggers to get right. Everything has to be perfect or the sound is hideous. Apparently you can get away with minor imperfections on alto and tenor.
The Bauhaus bronze soprano is considered bargain basement and borderline of what is acceptable.
That’s the same bronze as my Bauhaus tenor. Which I love dearly. They say it gives it a more rounded, less shrill sound.
Lots more obsessive reading and window shopping later I came across another thing saying the embouchure (how you hold your gob around the reed and mouthpiece) is specialised to the soprano and you shouldn’t get one unless it’s going to be your main instrument.
I was in a quandary. I wanted small and fairly decent sounding, but it seems weird spending more on the workaday, means-to-an-end sax than on my main instrument.
Wendy had the good idea of renting. See if it’s workable.
After many fruitless searches I gave up on renting a Bauhaus, you either buy it or don’t play it. The only site I could find offering a halfway decent soprano was UKsaxhire.co.uk.
I started a conversation by email with Richard, the guy who runs it.
Me: I want a curved (small and portable) soprano sax.
Richard: “I am happy to rent you [curved soprano] sax but with the exception of [3k sax] they all sound horrible. If it’s just the size/ weight I have shaped alto cases for £25”
Me: Your sales pitch needs polish.
After much too-ing and fro-ing, I went with his original suggestion and got the shaped alto case. The thing is, a straight alto is almost the same size box as my alto, and I way prefer the alto’s sound. The case arrived today and it has made a difference to size. I was sceptical, but it has. And the ‘cheapo’, ex rental, case is *loads* better than mine! I had to stuff a dishcloth into the top of the bell to stop it from rattling around in mine, this one fits like a glove. Obviously if it’s rattling it could be damaging the keys.
I’ll give it a go but if it’s still too much I’ve told him to brace himself for me renting a curved soprano.
One tune I’ve learned the first bit of is Madness, One Step Beyond. I thought it sounded really good. Turns out he was a sax newbie himself so it’s really easy. Bonus.
I really want to aspire to playing this, but there is no sheet music, nobody has been brave enough to transcribe it, and I’ll never, ever, be good enough. First for “cant-help-but-rock-out” exuberance, second for perfect, sublime, excellence.
If you’re interested in that sort of thing, Wendy pointed out that the drummer (especially on the first one) is some sort of genius as well.
Final thing is the pain and clicking in my fingers in the cold. The very thing that had set my mind to Spanish retirement. Wendy said, and I confirmed online that some arthritis conditions can be lessened or the deterioration slowed, if caught early enough. In a classic example of hope in the face of experience I went to the doctors. I’ve not been for about 10 years (except for compulsory driving medicals and the medical form for the parachute jump) because there’s no point. They never do anything for me. Tell a lie, I went for a sick note so I could carry on wearing my wide fitting safety boots.
Anyway, I went. The doctor looked at me and said it’s probably wear and tear now I’m old. Super. If it’s arthritis he could prescribe some painkillers.
I’m not in that much pain, the idea is that I want to avoid being in that much pain.
To be fair, they ruled out some things. They sent me for an Xray, all fine, then did a full blood analysis, not rheumatism.
The doctor today said “The results are all fine. Well done.”
I replied “Go me.”
So, seems I’m actually fine. I wish someone would tell my fingers that.