What Kind Of Year Has It Been?

(With apologies to Aaron Sorkin for nicking/appropriating a title he’s used in every series he’s written)

2014 hasn’t been an easy year, with some real ups and downs. Some of the downs have been pretty bloody down, and back in August/September was about as low as I’ve been in a long time, with the finances right back to Ground Zero. The last couple of months of the year have been a massive improvement, a real resurgence that’s left things on a very positive note, and that’s nothing but good.

But man alive, there’s been a lot going on.


I’ve had two spectacularly bad jobs – both permanent roles – this year, the second of which took three months to escape from, cost me a buggerload of money (the owner decided to arbitrarily cut my offered salary by £10K, a drop of just under a thousand a month, with no warning or notification) and affected me a lot more than I’d ever have acknowledged.  In small ways it’s still ongoing – I’ve invoiced the dickhead for the money he screwed me for, and my New Year’s present to him will be a claim through Small Claims Court (well, now Money Claim Online, but who’s counting?) so that should be fun.

I’ve also had three contracts (plus one that over-ran into the start of 2014) with two being OK and one being less so. That one was an easy life, which was more about being a bum on a seat “in case anything happened”, rather than actually doing stuff. Easy, but not my kind of thing, as has been written about elsewhere.

The final contract of the year – which flows into the start of 2015 – has been the catalyst for getting things on a more positive footing. It’s been work that suits me, as well as being one where I’m able to work from home for the majority of the time, which also suits me.


As per the work notes, the London job cost me a lot of money, with the savings I’d made up ’til then getting used for keeping things afloat while I still believed that The Dickhead would actually pay what was owed. Even while everything was down at lowest possible, I still got through – no borrowings, no late payments etc. So it’s not as bad as it could’ve been, and yet again showed how far I’ve actually come – but it’s still annoying to have been knocked back after a year of being successful on it all.

I’m back on the up now, things in credit and so on. I still need to build up the funds again, but that’s happening, and will continue to do so through into 2015.

Creative / Writing

This year’s writing and so on hasn’t been great – because of everything else going on, it just hasn’t happened as much as I wanted it to.

Writing-wise, I have done some stuff. I’ve entered some small pieces to some competitions, although without any decent results. However, at least it’s been about getting things done and submitted – which is more than I managed in 2013.

Photography’s been a lot slacker. Along the way I’ve got out of the habit of carrying a camera all the time, and it’s proving harder to get back into doing it. I love the SLR I’ve got, but it’s a pain in the chuff for most of the time.

The daytrips of late have been partly about taking photos again as well, although they’ve all ‘only’ been taken on the iPhone, but at least I’ve been taking photos again, and they’ve been pretty decent.


So while 2014’s been a ropy old year in many ways, it’s ending up with a lot of promise, and lot of optimism for 2015.  Whether that will be justified or not, who knows? But I’m going to give it my best.

And really, what more can anyone ask than that?




Today, I is forty-bloody-three. It doesn’t seem like a year ago I was forty-bloody-two, but there we go. Time flies when you’re having fun. (Or dashing around trying to avoid a shower of shit. Either way)

I’ve looked back to what I wrote this time last year, the usual ‘plans’ post and it’s not been too bad for once.

And in general it’s worked out for the most part. Goals in bold, explanations in normal text.

  • Weigh Less  – Successful. I’m now more than two stone lighter than I was a year ago. There’s still a considerable way to go, but it’s been significant progress throughout the year.
  • Write MoreAlso successful, albeit not to the degree I’d have liked.  I’ve got more ideas and more plans of what I want to write in the coming year, I’ve got two projects started and significant progress, and completed some shorter stuff, including submitting three pieces to competitions. None were successful, but it’s still progress.
  • IAMDidn’t do. Mainly because of the fluctuations of the year, the IAM thing just didn’t happen. It will do this coming year, though.
  • Own companySuccessful. Again it’s been knocked a bit by fluctuations and inconsistencies, as well as a couple of let-downs, but generally successful.
  • Business IdeasKinda successful. I know more about the direction, but need to do the work.
  • Rebuilding the finances50/50. It was successful – but then with those fluctuations, and the shower of shit, it’s back to square one at the moment. At the same time, it didn’t descend into “being in the shit”, although it was close. So, you know, little victories.

And for my 43rd year? Much the same, I think…

  • Weigh Less (continued work)
  • Write More
  • IAM Test
  • Own Business Ideas
  • Build the Finances

There may be others, there may not. But if I can have the successes of this year without the downsides and letdowns, it should be pretty positive. That’d be nice.

Submitting Writing

As usual, one of my projects for this year has been about writing more. (Not that you’d know it from D4D of late, but that’s different, more about having time than anything else)

Anyway, I’m doing more along the way, but also trying to send it out into the world, so I’ve submitted bits to a couple of competitions recently.

Nothing major, and if I’m honest I don’t expect anything to come of them. But at least I’m writing, and making the effort.

Stone Down

In other news, I’ve now lost a stone in weight this year.

That puts me on a weirdly OCD number (ending with two zeroes) although still at the high-end of “Functioning fat fucker”, with a way to go.

I’m happy with the progress though. I’d like it to be quicker (wouldn’t we all?) but at least it’s progress.

Location Fixation

Over the last couple of months, I’ve been thinking a lot about location – where I live, where I work, where I want to live, all that. I’ve been in the current house for two years now, and I know I’m getting a bit twitchy.

The current tenancy doesn’t expire ’til November though – due to an initial six-month one, followed by 12-month ones. As a result, I’ve had plenty of time to think about it, look at the pros and cons, and – I think – I’ve now pretty much made a decision.

As has been noted on many occasions, I’m not all that good with permanence – I like change, embrace it even. It suits me. So two years in the same place is enough to make me twitchy, to start to feel that itch in the back of my skull.

It’s not too bad at the moment though. I’ve certainly had it far, far worse than this. If I were still in the same job as well, the options would be different – I’d be needing to move on in both cases. As it is, I’ve been back on the contracting since July, and it’s kept things decently varied – which means the house side of things can relax a wee bit.

There are places I’d like to move to, some new locations and some old. (Or at least close enough to qualify as revisits) They’re more about reflecting how much life has changed in the last few years, most particularly the ability to drive, which opens up whole new vistas.

For example, I’d like to go back to the North-West, live around the Peak district somewhere. I wouldn’t live in Manchester itself again, but there’s loads of places around it that I really like. It’s still a front-runner when the move does happen.  The same applies for the South Coast, and Dorset in particular. It’s an area I love, but didn’t really get to appreciate as much as I could’ve done, because I didn’t drive. So yes, that’s also a front-runner.

There’s other places too. A revisit to Bath and/or Bristol wouldn’t be out of the question – particularly when not combined with an insane commute, ideally – and there’s new locations too. I’d consider most places, but Nottingham and Derby have always been good to me, and there’s a whole heap of other places. (Plus a long-standing idea to sod off to somewhere like Cork)

However, right now there’s also a bigger plan in place. Rebuilding after the bankruptcy, seeing what comes next, as well as looking at work and finances and what the hell I want to do/be when I grow up. There’s ideas on that score, but I need to have the time and inclination to do something about them. Time I’ve got. Inclination? Less so, right now. But that’s a post for another day.

I could move, sure. But practicality-wise, where I am right now is pretty much perfect for me right now. It’s not a long-term location, but for now it’s good. I’ve got all the transport links I need – my commuting radius for work covers an insane amount of miles. It makes my contractor life a lot easier. Location isn’t in many (if any) of those calculations I have to do. For me, right now, that’s an important factor, and outweighs pretty much everything else.

Financially, it’s easy. If I move North then the odds are that my rent would drop. But for where I am, for what I’ve got right now, I couldn’t do much better. I’d like some extra space, an extra room or two – but it’s not something that’s necessary right now either.

All told, while I would kind-of like to move, I don’t need to move. And staying put has its advantages too – location, money, blah blah.

That means that – in the lack of a good reason for moving other than “But I want to” – I’ve decided I’m going to plan to stay where I am for the next eighteen months. The six months from now for the current tenancy, and then extend it by another twelve.

Of course, the landlord might decide to sell up or something, or work may throw up something that makes me have to move. Neither option is likely, but they could happen. But short of those kind of eventualities, I’m going to face up to things, and not move.

By that time – November 2015 – I’ll have been in this place for three and a half years. Then I think it’ll be time to move on – or at least move up. If my work is still keeping me based in a way that the current location is still OK then I’ll just look at moving to a bigger place locally. If things change or work isn’t a limitation (I can work from pretty much anywhere, after all) then it might be a big location change too. We’ll see.

Two Years On

It’s now two years (well, just over, as it was the early May Bank Holiday weekend) since I moved into the current house. That move was probably one of the most stressful ones I’ve ever done, as it all happened while my dad was in hospital with heart issues, and the move itself was done in just one day.

You know how they say that the most stressful things in life are moving house, changing jobs, and relationship breakups? Try doing all three at once, with added health concerns of a parent.  It makes for an interesting weekend, it’s fair to say.

A lot has changed since then – most of it for the better. The job stayed the same ’til July last year, and then I’ve been back on the contracting side and done a fair variety in the remaining time. Finances have improved beyond measure – at least relatively speaking – along with my own health, sanity and stability.

Dad’s fine too, still with us, and far healthier than he was.

Two years ago I couldn’t see this far, couldn’t see the light that was beginning to glimmer at the end of the tunnel. I’m not yet out of the tunnel completely, but that light is all too visible now, and I know things are well on their way.

The Next Step

This last week, I’ve been working from home – which is something I usually enjoy, but it’s not been overly assisted by feeling like rubbish, and somewhat demotivated.

Alongside that, for whatever reason, the cats have been super-demanding and really whingy, which has pissed me off more than it should.

All told, it’s meant I haven’t got as much done this week as I should’ve done, so it’s time to do things differently.

I’ve been aware of ‘co-working’ spaces/offices for a few years now, but never really felt the need to make use of them. I did look at them quite seriously when I had the possibility of the long-term ‘working from home’ gig earlier this year (which fell through) so I had some decent contacts.

As it turns out a couple of new ones have opened up quite near me in Milton Keynes. One in particular is ridiculously priced (as in ridiculously low) so I’m going to give that a go this coming week. Four days for £30 all in. I can live with that.

Of course, I still need to find out what the catch is. (If there is one) But if it works out and I like the place, it might be worth my while to make use of it for longer (depending on what other projects come up, naturally)  Looking at the costs, it could cost me £80 for the whole of May, which is pretty insane…

We’ll see how the first week goes. But this could be the start of the next step up the ladder, having a place to work from for myself…