Over the last few years (well, really since the bankruptcy) I’ve kept a fairly close eye on my credit score – mainly using ClearScore (who use Equifax data) and CreditKarma (which used to be Noddle, and use TransUnion’s data). Both services are free in perpetuity, and have done a pretty good job so far.
Anyway, back in 2019 I’d put a few things on credit (intentionally) and then merged it all onto one interest-free balance-transfer card which gave me a longer term to pay things off. And my credit score went super-high, and has stayed there since.
In the last couple of months, I’ve completely paid that off, and all my cards now have a zero balance – which is a pretty good feeling, I can’t deny. It’s always been well within my means, but still, it’s nice to be completely clear.
However, that’s had a significant knock-on effect on my score – because I owe nothing, my credit score has dropped by about 10% this month. I know it kind-of sort-of makes sense, that they ‘can’t gauge my indebtedness’ if that figure is zero, but it also means that I could utilise 100% of my income to go into credit, yet somehow that’s less valuable. As is, of course, the perfect record for borrowing and paying back. (Albeit without paying any bloody interest whatsoever)
All of which goes to show, yet again, that credit-scoring really is a monumental load of old bollocks.
It’s been weird this year already, in that I’ve seen a number of people who’ve already put up their Christmas trees and so on, even more prematurely than usual. There seems to be a school of thought that says it’s OK because “we need something to look forward to“, but that rings with the dull plop of bullshit. Maybe it’s just me, but I’m more of the viewpoint that even if I started today, I’d be sick of the bloody event by the time it comes round. Adding another two weeks to that is surely just a way to be even more jaded about it all.
But then, as we know, I’m a grouch.
I’ve also been gobsmacked about the hysteria around “We’ve got to have our Christmas“, and the mindset that people would’ve broken all the rules in order to have “a proper normal family Christmas“. We’ll get past the horrific racism of the government being quite happy to cancel the festivals of other religions (The first Lockdown was announced less than 24 hours before Eid, and the second one blocked Diwali – and I’m fairly sure there’s been at least one more festivity that’s taken a kicking) while Christmas is apparently the be-all and end-all of UK Civilisation.
Honestly, I’ll be glad when this year’s over and done with. I don’t think 2021 is going to be any easier, although there’s some hope on the horizon with Covid vaccines etc. But it’s still looking like it’ll be another ongoing hellscape – just possibly slightly less of one than this year has been.
Again, I can’t deny, I’ve been lucky throughout the whole Covid thing this year, and I’ve been affected far less than a lot of people have. I know that, and I accept it. But I’ll still be happy to be through this year.
This weekend was remarkably unproductive, and yet I’m actually OK with it for once.
I’d had a lot planned – initially I was going to be going to a restaurant in London, but I moved that forward by a couple of weeks – nothing about Lockdown, just that I saw the menu two weeks ago had some things I really wanted, and they couldn’t be certain they’d still be on by now, so I moved things around.
Once that had changed, I’d then lined up an archery coaching session on the Saturday, and we were due to have a competition shoot on Sunday. However, with the new Lockdown, archery is (for some fuckforsaken reason) specifically included in the “thou shalt not operate” lists, so all of that got cancelled too. I’ve no idea why outdoor archery isn’t allowed – even in competitions, no-one’s even close to each other, and certainly when I’ve been using the range on a Friday it’s just me using it. There’s certainly no issue with any of it being crowded!
So yes, I had lots of plans, and none of them happened – which is frustrating, to say the least.
However, it’s been good to have the downtime. I meant to do some stuff from home, and failed entirely to do so, but instead caught up on some reading, and did stuff that was exceptionally quiet and relaxed. It was pretty good, all things considered.
Today is day 266 of 2020. There’s only another 100 to go.
I’m not going to tempt fate (or give it ideas) by saying things couldn’t get worse. They could. Knowing the way this year’s gone so far, they probably will.
In the meantime, I’m going to be slightly altering the restaurant plans and bookings I’d already made for the rest of this year, following on from today’s (frankly bizarre) “everywhere’s got to close by 10pm” dictat.
I’m not sure what makes things safer by closing pubs, restaurants and food places by 10pm – as other restaurateurs have said, they’ve worked hard on making sure entry/exit times were staggered, whereas now it’s going to be a big exodus at one time.
It’s all just weird.
In an ideal world, I’d actually like a quiet life. Not in terms of being (and/or keeping) busy, but in terms of once I get home. Once I’m there, I’d quite happily have a place with no noise.
Yes, there’d be a TV and so on, but that’s all noise that I control. I’m thinking more at the moment about other stuff, the noise I can’t control, and that sometimes drives me crackers.
The Bengal is one of the main culprits on this, if I’m honest – as soon as I get home, I’m being shouted at. It’s not like she’s hungry or anything – she’s just shouty. Sometimes it’s even before I get through the door – if it’s late evening (even if I’ve popped home in the day to make sure she’s fed etc.) it’s not unknown for the sodding cat to be sat outside waiting for me, and shouting the moment she sees me, like a mum going “And what time do you call this!” And it doesn’t let up for bloody ages. It’s exhausting.
Alongside that, I have the joys of neighbours. Throughout the lockdown/shutdown/slowdown, they’ve both seemed determined to be out in their yards, playing music loudly, and having loudspeaker/hands-free conversations on their phones – and it’s even seemed like they’re in direct competition sometimes. So it’s not been unusual for me to come home and not even be able to open the back door, because of the noise war going on.
All I want is for things to be quieter. I’m generally super-tired at the moment, which also makes me more sensitive to it all, and far far grumpier about the entire thing.
Recently I’ve even been thinking about moving – some of which is because of those neighbours – although with the looming of Brexit etc., I’ve made the decision to not jump things just yet. But there’s still the potential for the same to happen again.
In some ways – hell, in most ways – I’d be happy to be a hermit, to be out in the middle of nowhere with zero human contact on a day-to-day basis. The only problem with that concept is that the really out-of-the-way places then don’t have the other thing I want/need in life – a decent speedy broadband connection.
I’m sure there’s a balance to be found somewhere, and I’m sure I’ll figure it all out. For now though it’s just a bit bloody annoying. </grouch>
I said a while ago that I’d write this, and then never got round to it. (I also thought I’d written it before, but a couple of searches didn’t find anything. Which is odd.)
Anyway. Back at the start of 2018, I did my semi-regular checkup visit at the local GP, which all worked out as “fairly healthy in general“. As usual, the main ‘problem’ was that I’m significantly heavier than I “should” be. So I asked for help from the GP, asked what they could do or suggest. And the response? “Oh, you’re not obese enough to get NHS treatment“. Well OK, that’s about as helpful as a kick in the cock.
So, being me, I pushed for some referrals – I already wanted to lose weight, but that kind of attitude really steamed my piss, and I wanted to get some better figures and find out more about what was going on. I’ve been logging my food intake for years now, and also keeping track of what I walk and so on, so I knew beforehand that my usual calorie intake was around the recommended 2,500 a day mark (albeit with some days/weekends of excess) and I walk an average of at least 10,000 steps a day.
First, I got a referral to Slimming World – and the less said about that, the better. An unremittingly negative and unhelpful experience all round.
I also got a referral to the Dietician service at Bedford Hospital, which wasn’t much more positive, but did end up with some good connections and results.
With the service, we tried a set of calorie-reduction diet plans, none of which worked. However, through it I also got a connection to the Uni of Beds’ Sport Science department, where I was able to (finally) get one of the tests done that I really wanted – an RMR (Resting Metabolic Rate) test, to establish what level of energy I’m actually burning. RMR is basically a measure of the calories the body burns if it’s simply laying in bed doing nothing. No food intake, no exertion at all. It took about an hour to run from start to finish, and then a couple of weeks to crunch the data and produce a report.
So. My RMR is 2,800 calories a day – even if I just laid in bed and did sod all, I’d need more calories than the recommended 2,500 a day. Taking into account calories for digestion, as well as exertion, It’s likely I’m burning around 4,000 a day. (As it turns out, I did write about BMR/RMR – ten years ago!)
On the downside, this information never really sank in with the Dietician. They kept on insisting that eating less had to result in losing weight. And in all honesty, it should – but didn’t. Looking at the figures, I’m already taking in less than I’m expending, and dropping the intake simply widened the gap even further. All it did was leave me even more tired, and seriously grouchy.
It ended up with a bit of an argument as my sense of humour finally failed, I wrote a full bulleted list of what was happening (with all the information from above) and why I suspected things weren’t working. That actually finished things fairly positively, although they didn’t have any better suggestions once we were outside the standard answers.
Also along the way, I ended up joining a local group called “Gutless” for overweight men. It consisted of two hours a week, one of food education, and one of physical exercise and workouts. For me, I didn’t learn much from the food education, but the training was positive, and started me doing more than I had. And since the Gutless course finished, we’ve maintained the exercise routine with the same trainer, which has also remained positive.
All told, I feel happier with how things are – if nothing else, my health record contains the whole list of things tried from the Dietician, and the RMR figures from the Uni of Beds. It means that when the GP tries their “you’re overweight” thing again, they can see what’s been tried.
However, I don’t really know what the answer is. My food intake has stayed much the same (and some of those weekends of excess actually make me lose weight) and I do more, with the extra workouts twice a week, and the archery I’ve recently re-taken up as well as maintaining the walking I do. I’m far, far stronger than I was, my shape is better, my stamina is fearsome, and I feel far healthier – but somehow, my weight hasn’t actually changed in a good decade, no matter what I do.
I’d like to lose more some – it’s just that still, everything I try isn’t working. I think that at some point I’ll have to go back and get more data and ideas, but really I don’t yet even know the right questions to ask.
I’ll figure it out one day, I’m sure.
One thing I hope will be interesting – as and when the current lockdown is properly eased – is to see the things that people decide are important, the things they’ve actually missed, as opposed to the things they’ve just not been able to go to as part of a routine.
For example, I wonder if [big chain] coffee shops will suffer, as people have (hopefully) realised that they don’t need all that caffeine and sugar.
[Note : I amended this afterwards, following Gordon’s comment, because I’d particularly meant big-chain (Starbucks, Costa et al) places rather than independents/locals that definitely deserve the business and support]
On the evidence of the things that’ve currently re-started, I don’t think it’ll be the case – as soon as they’ve re-opened, there have been huge queues outside places like McDonalds, Burger King and KFC.
It’ll be more interesting to see what happens longer-term, once the “Oh good, they’re back!” novelty value fades.