D4D

There's no such thing as bad weather, just inappropriate clothing

Archive for the category “Domestic”

Touching The Void, Royal and Derngate Theatre

Last night, I went to see the new play “Touching the Void” in at the Royal part of the Royal and Derngate in Northampton. Based from the film that’s based on the book by Joe Simpson, and all three are the story of Simpson’s near-fatal accident on a climb of a mountain in Peru.

It’s had some very good reviews in the media from the Bristol part of the tour and looked interesting, so I booked a ticket to see it in Northampton.

And all told, I have to say I was really impressed with the play as a whole. The staging is really clever, making use of tables as an initial example of a rock-face, and it’s also a hugely physical production, with a large suspended structure being used to tell most of the story of the mountain climb.

There are a couple of odd bits (two musical numbers in particular seem pretty stramge)  and I personally found the last five minutes to be a bit of a let-down, but all told it’s a very very good production, and worth going to see if you get a chance.

Gutless

As part of my whole weight/fitness thing, I’ve been going once a week to a programme called Gutless for the last twelve weeks.

It’s been an interesting programme, basically one two hour evening session a week, which consists of one hour of physical exercise, and one of information and chat about food and nutrition.

For me, the exercise has been of more use and interest than the food and nutrition stuff (as I learned more for exercise techniques etc. than I did for the food/nutrition) but it’s all been a generally positive programme.

As with other things I’ve been trying this year, it hasn’t been as successful as I’d have hoped – for me, at least – but in general it appears to have worked well for the other members of the group.

For me, it’s given me extra ideas and stuff to do, as well as knowledge of better workouts and so on, I’ll take that knowledge and go forwards with it as well, so it has been a positive process.

I’m glad I’ve done the course – and the workout/exercise side is going to be continuing on as a separate programme we’ve worked out with the instructor from the programme – and we’ll see how things work out going forwards.

All told, I’m happy with how it’s been. I’d be happier if the weight loss had been better and so on, but I know that it’s also helped me make other positive changes, and right now that’ll do me.

Fall Down

One of the interesting (well, to me) things about Milton Keynes is that because it was all done at the same time, there are only about three types of tree (in general) lining all the roads.

The fun side of this is that everything happens all at once – in spring, all the trees are suddenly in leaf.  And of course, come autumn, all those leaves fall in the space of a couple of days.

I suppose it makes things more manageable (so long as the council is organised, which is a bit of a leap, but there we go) in that the street cleaning service has a nightmare week of cleaning all the leaves up, rather than spreading it over a month or so.

Anyway, I only write this because from the look of it, this weekend will be those days.  It’s started to happen already, but I reckon by Monday the trees on all the roads will be back to bare branches.

Winter is coming…

Ignored

This morning, when I rocked up to my office, there was a guy apparently passed out across three of the parking spaces outside.  I couldn’t tell much about him – he was asleep/comatose rather than visibly wounded or bleeding – but it still wasn’t a great situation. In particular I was aware of the upcoming rush hour, and of the speed (and stupidity, and lack of observational powers) of various drivers peeling into apparently empty parking spaces.

I didn’t know whether he’d chosen to sleep there, or had fallen over the railings separating the parking spaces from the pavement and bus stops.

So I ended up calling 101 (the non-emergency number for police services) to report the issue, and let the professionals handle it.  As it turned out, I should’ve called 111 instead (the non-emergency number for NHS) but I’d forgotten that one, but remembered 101.

Anyway, the details were taken – but what surprised (and depressed) me was that my call was the first they’d heard of this particular man. It’s particularly depressing because where he was, he’d been completely visible to any number of people waiting at the bus-stop on the other side of the railings.  (The bus-stop and pavement are slightly raised from the car-park level, so he was definitely visible)

I do understand that a lot of people don’t want to get involved, or all assume that someone else will be doing something. But still, I know that if it were me laying there, I’d at least hope that someone would call the emergency services about me as well.

I don’t know, maybe I’m still feeling all optimistic and stuff, but it just pisses me off when people simply ignore those in need.  And yes, I probably could’ve done more as well – although my first-aid knowledge is rudimentary, and old – but I did what seemed right at the time.

(Oh, and to close this particular tale, he was OK, but intoxicated, and got taken to hospital as a precaution – I saw the ambulance people as they were about to leave, and asked how he was)

Queen Margaret, Royal Exchange, Manchester

A couple of weeks ago, I read a piece on the BBC about a new play, “Queen Margaret” that was being staged at the Royal Exchange Theatre in Manchester.

Queen Margaret” is Margaret of Anjou, who has parts in four Shakespeare plays – Henry VI parts one, two and three, and Richard III – and across those plays, she has the most lines Shakespeare wrote for any part. For Queen Margaret, the playwright (Jeanie O’Hare) takes those lines and adds new ones to connect all the extant scenes.

Anyway, it all sounded interesting enough that I booked a ticket for last Saturday’s matinee performance, and made a day-trip of it.  It’s easy enough – the train from Milton Keynes gets to Manchester in 90-100 minutes, which brings it well within day-trip range. I certainly couldn’t do the drive in the same time. 

I’m really glad I did so, too – I thought the entire play was excellent, and done well enough that you couldn’t easily tell who had written which lines. (Although I’m no expert on those Shakespeare plays, so if one were super-familiar with them then I assume it’d be easier to separate the two writing styles)  The whole thing held together really well, and I enjoyed it thoroughly – while also learning a lot about all of the stuff around Henry VI and Richard III.

The run finishes this week (on Saturday 6th October) and I really hope that it’s generally perceived as having been excellent so that it gets a longer run, and ideally comes down to London and elsewhere. In my opinion, it thoroughly deserves it.

MOT Passed

After the car hassles last month, it was in for its MoT test today.  I was hoping it would be OK – I wasn’t certain, because the MoT Test rules changed earlier this year, and there were a couple of bits where I wondered if it would fail.

As it turned out, though, it passed fine. One advisory (i.e. “that’ll need fixing sometime before the next test”) and that was it.

I’m glad – it means things are OK ’til next year, and at that point I may (or may not) decide to get something new.  (Or, of course, earlier on – if it fails between now and this time next year)

But at least it’s good for now.

Debtor’s Tales

This week I read the story on the BBC of a woman whose father committed suicide because of his debts. It’s an interesting piece – but, having been through that process, there’s something just Not Quite Right about it too.

I know lots of people – particularly middle-aged men – hide their heads in the sand when it comes to debts and so on, in the seeming hope that it’ll all just go away. (Spoiler Alert – It never does)

In this case, the man ended up being declared bankrupt by the local council, as he couldn’t keep up payments having missed one. (And the council behaved shockingly badly, even for local authorities – I know that if I’ve ever had a problem, I’ve got in touch and it’s all been easily sorted. But of course, you have to get in touch)

According to the story, once he missed a payment, the council billed him for the whole year at once. (Again, I’ve received that letter, but then got in touch and got it sorted down to a new monthly amount that accounted for the missed payment to be spread over the remaining payments)  He couldn’t afford the full year, so just didn’t pay anything – and kept on not paying anything.  (There is also a quite stunning degree of stupidity going on here, but I do semi-understand the mindset)

Where I get really twitchy about the story, though, is after he’s declared bankrupt.  Supposedly, the court-appointed trustees for the debt – and this is where he and I differ, in that he was declared bankrupt by someone else, where I declared myself – super-loaded the entire thing with extra charges, which is something that simply didn’t happen with my own Payments Agreement.  From the article…

Straight away he was charged £3,800 in something called “statutory interest”, which took his debt to about £15,500. But that was just the start. Over the next three years my dad actually paid £15,000 to the trustees appointed to collect the debt – the accounting and consultancy firm, BDO – but over the same period the bill from the trustees grew to £72,000.

(c) BBC https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/stories-45581526

Whatever was happening, that was iniquitous – but I don’t know what it was about.  When I got my agreement, it was the amount remaining from my income after all the bills and expenses had gone.  I paid that amount for three years, and that was it. No further charges, no ‘statutory interest’, nothing. The only other thing I had had to pay was the court fees, which came to £700-odd, from memory. That was it. 

Yes, I paid any extra income for three years – but that figure was set at the start of the process, and only changed if my situation did. The entire process was clean, fair, and the best thing I ever did.  Obviously I’d have preferred to not be in the situation where I needed to go through that process, but there we go – hindsight is a wonderful thing on that score.

So yes, it’s a terrible story of what happened to this man. But there’s also a lot that’s not being said, or that (in my humble opinion) needs further exploration.

But as always, the biggest thing to say about it all is that the help is there – so long as you make the effort to find it, to keep in touch, to talk to the right people.  If you just hide away then it’ll all keep on coming back, bigger, nastier and more brutal than before.  There’s no escaping this sort of shit, it just gets worse if you hide from it.

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