Gradual Improvements

Over the last couple of months, I’ve slowly been upgrading some things around the house.  Nothing major, but a few things had started breaking or failing, so it’s made sense to replace them with better versions.

Among other things, a lot of my cookware was on the way out – my main frying pad had buckled (my own fault for thermal-shocking it too many times), my baking trays were grim and no longer non-sticking, and my wok had gone horrible with rust.  So I’ve replaced them all with better things – and in fairness, none of those bits was less than a decade old anyway, so it’s not like I’ve not had my money’s worth out of them.

This weekend, I’ve also replaced the main lamp in my living room.  I’ve had a (revoltingly cheap) uplighter for six years, that I bought while bankrupt, when the previous one’s halogen bulb died. I think it cost me £20, and it was ridiculously wobbly, but did the job – and has done the job for that six years without fail, and without any replacement bulbs.

However, during the week it started buzzing – not just from the bulb, but also from the switch, and to me, that’s not a thing where it’s wise to keep it going. So I had a look round for something new, and ended up with an interesting LED light that offers a range of white-balance colours, as well as being able to move lighting to my requirements and so on. It wasn’t the cheapest, and the lamps aren’t replaceable in the same way as a ‘normal’ bulb would be, but there’s also very little that can break, so we’ll see. Regardless though, I’m really pleased with it at the moment.

All told, I’m happy with how things are going – I’m not paying out stupid amounts for things, but I’m also not staying at the cheapest levels, because I simply don’t need to. Hopefully all these new bits will last me another eight to ten years minimum, and god only knows where we’ll all be by then…


Eight Years

Turns out, it’s eight years today since I moved to the current house.

A lot’s happened in that time, and I’m still here. It’s the longest I’ve lived anywhere since I left home, which still feels very weird.

I keep on thinking about moving on (and, as I said in a previous post, right now I’m glad it hasn’t happened) and being somewhere new, but so far I haven’t found anywhere I really feel right about moving to.

I don’t know what the future will bring, or where it’ll find me, but for now well, eight years. Wow.


Into 2020

It’s been interesting (for no good reason other than that this is a year that ends in a zero) to look back at what was going on this time ten years ago.

It’s fair to say that a lot has changed in that time – albeit none of it recently.

Back then I was still in Norfolk, and working in Bury St Edmunds (and I did keep the promise to stick with the one workplace for the full year of 2010)  I’d just had the first (and still only) accident of my driving career, sliding on ice onto a set of concrete fence posts, which did a blinding job of twatting the front nearside.

So in that ten years, I’ve

  • split with Herself, had another shorter-term relationship, and been single now for much longer than either one.
  • moved four times – and been in one place (the current one) for far longer than anywhere else I’ve ever lived since leaving home
  • changed jobs more times than I care to think about (I could work it out, but truly can’t be chuffed) and been doing the current one for far longer than I ever expected
  • been through the whole bankruptcy process, and come out the other side
  • been to more plays and theatre things than I’d ever have thought I’d have been to
  • and the same for restaurants – Michelin-starred and otherwise. This time ten years ago, I’d not been to any Michelin places – that happened in mid-2010, and I wasn’t impressed at the time. Maybe I should go back there, maybe not.
  • changed car twice, and rented a bundle of others as needs directed

There’s a lot of other stuff – it’s interesting to see how a lot of the things I wanted to change then that I still want to change now, for example – and I’ll write more about that elsewhere/elsewhen.

It’s a whole new decade out there (and I can’t be arsed with the argument about whether that’s 2020 or 2021, so don’t bother) and it’ll be interesting to see what happens next.


Anniversal

Having gone through the six years of the bankruptcy process (as I’ve written about many times in that period) today marks a year since that process completed. Time flies, and all that rot.

It’s the final real anniversary of any significance though – even though it came off my record a year ago, most of the banks work on a “Six years plus one” basis (fuck only knows why, but that’s their choice) when it comes to ‘full’ current accounts and the like.

So that’s where we are now – the full “six years plus one” is complete.

It shouldn’t affect things much – it would be nice to have a ‘full’ account with overdraft facility and so on , but only because that’s another thing that is good to have.  I’ve done fine over the last seven years with no overdraft and never needing one, and I don’t see any reason why that would change now.

However, it does mean I’ll almost certainly move away from my current bank’s offering, purely because they were lying dicks about it all the way through the process. Once I’d gone through the first year where I was officially bankrupt, I was fine to have a basic current account. When I got it, I was totally honest with the bank, and they said I could try to apply for an upgrade to a ‘full’ current account on a regular basis (every six months or so) and see how I did.

It was only after three years that anyone mentioned that they wouldn’t give me an account until the “six years plus one” – ‘but it’s not that we have a policy, sir, it’s just that’s how it works, we won’t do it before then‘ – and so had basically lied and wasted my time for all those reviews.  That did cost them money in the end – a complaint went all the way to the Financial Ombudsman, who found in my favour.  (The rule in this case is keep a record of all paperwork and appointments, so you can show a history of wasted time, and stuff that you wouldn’t have done if they’d been honest and said to not bother for seven years!)

So yes, I’ll probably change banks for the current account – I’m not yet sure who to, but we’ll see what happens.

But the most important thing really is that now, seven years on, there’s nothing else keeping me back.


Disconnecting

As part of the whole bankruptcy process (now well and truly complete, of course) I’ve been using a couple of free services to keep track of my credit score.  It’s been useful to know what’s going on, and where things stand.

I primarily use ClearScore (who use data from Equifax) and CreditKarma – who used to be Noddle – and use data from Transunion (which used to be Legatio)

Part of the reports from both of those (and from Experian, whose ‘free’ service is an absolute dumpster fire, and absolutely refuses to allow me to view my own data) involves past addresses, and people with whom one has had a credit connection – things like a shared mortgage, or whatever.

Looking through the CreditKarma stuff in particular, I noticed that they still have a record of my old addresses going right back to Bracknell – bearing in mind, I moved there back in early 2005…   It also still had me linked to Herself for the mortgage we had back on the Norfolk place (which must’ve been 2007/8, if not earlier)

So, I asked them about why this stuff was still on there – bearing in mind, credit stuff is supposed to stay on one’s record for six years and then go – and got a response back that was… less than encouraging.  (Note, I’m going to edit some of this so it’s comprehensible without being comprehensive)

There are several reasons why TransUnion UK hold historic address information [including] something called asset reunification, which is when TransUnion UK helps clients trace the holders of lost or forgotten financial accounts, such as pensions or bank accounts.  So, if you have an account associated with an old address that you don’t know about, financial institutions will be able to find you.

Another reason [we hold] old historic address information is to help organisations trace individuals who have moved without telling their creditors where their new home is (this is known as debt tracing).

For now, let me confirm that TransUnion UK holds address information indefinitely. However, they are reviewing their policy to see if a fixed upper limit can be set on how long they will keep address data for.

The “Indefinite holding” of that data is definitely a no-no. So far as I know, it’s still the case that if a company doesn’t get in touch with a debtor at all for six years, that debt is no longer viable, and is effectively written off.  So historic data could be stored for (I’ll be charitable) seven years, and then get erased. I’d be OK (ish) with that, at least.

But this is information going back more than twice that time.  I’ve now filed requests to lose all of that data – I’ve now been at this one address for longer than the six years usually required – and also to take away the connection to Herself. (I can’t imagine she’d be overly happy to still have that connection either)  We’ll see what happens on those things.

I’m also going to refer this to the Information Commissioner, because I’m pretty sure they’ll be interested in anyone who claims to be storing personal data indefinitely…


Slump

Things have been quiet on D4D of late. Basically, I’m in a bit of a slump, and at the moment I’m not quite sure how to get out of it.

There’s a lot of reasons behind it, but mainly it’s down to an overbearing feeling of stagnation, or being a bit bogged down. I’m used to having change in my life, and at the moment it’s not really there. Some of that is inertia, some of it is still the final stages from the bankruptcy process and some of it is the current state of things. But it all adds up to an overall sludge – and while I know I want things to change, I also don’t quite know what I want to do next, or where I want to be.

Domestically, I’ve been in this house for seven years. That’s by far the longest I’ve been in any one place since I left the family home. I was looking at moving last year when the tenancy came up, but that was only just after the bankruptcy finished, and I didn’t want to push things while it was still showing up on credit checks and the like.  So I’m thinking about it for this year – but there’s also nowhere that’s dragging me, nowhere that I’ve been and thought “OK, this is where I want/need to be”, and it’s all a bit up in the air. There’s still time, though.

Workwise, I’ve been working on the same project for more than three years. (Probably closer to 4, all told)  And while we’ve got a lot done, there still feels like no end in sight (things keep on being added in to it, or stuff is more complex than initially expected) which doesn’t help. I like contracting in general for exactly this – that each contract is finite – even though they can (and usually do) get extended, they still have an end date where I can say “Nope, I’m done”. This one is open-ended, and it’s feeling more and more like a proper job and blah blah.

Outside of those two things, there’s so much doubt about what’s going on in the UK – with Brexit being delayed even further, it’s left everything in limbo again, of not knowing what’ll happen with it, and what’ll happen with jobs, economy and so on if and when it happens. I can’t deny, that all contributes to the current sense of stagnation.

I’m not depressed – well, no more than usual – and I’m still getting out and getting other stuff done. It’s just that I’ve not got the time or energy for anything extra. I wish I did, but I don’t.

I’m going to keep on working on it, though.  I know I need a couple of new projects to be getting on with – but I also need to find the motivation to get it going. That’s where the stagnation is really hurting – I know I need and want to change, but right now the drive to change things is also being blocked.

I’ll figure it out, I know – I always do, and always have done.  And hopefully it won’t take too much longer to turn the corner.


The Joy of Tech

Yesterday, while doing a quick shop on the way to work, I suddenly realised I’d left my wallet at home. Bugger.

I was just about prepared to take everything back to its shelves/locations, when it occurred to me that actually I was still OK – I had my phone with me still. That meant I’d got the ability to make a contactless payment – and because I’d also added the details of my Monzo card/account to the phone, it meant I had everything I needed.

It’s pretty amazing, the way these things have now become so much more mainstream than they were ten years ago, or even five.  Since I got the Monzo card eighteen months ago (it’s the only one I have that also connects into my ApplePay account on the phone) I’ve stopped carrying cash except for specific occasions – for example, the car wash I use still only takes cash.

I still prefer to carry physical cards (hence usually having a wallet) but it was still interesting to realise that forgetting it is no longer the “Oh shit!” moment it used to be. (So long as I remember my phone, and that I can use it, anyway)

Ain’t progress grand?