How Things Change

While looking at historical August posts on D4D while writing a couple this morning, I came across this one.

So it’s just two years ago – almost to the day – that I saw my first Shakespeare play in a good decade or two, which was Hamlet, with Benedict Cumberbatch in the main role, at the Barbican.

Since then I’ve seen (in no particular order)

  • King Lear  – twice (Don Warrington, and Glenda Jackson)
  • Hamlet (Andrew Strong Scott)
  • Midsummer Night’s Dream at the Globe
  • Romeo and Juliet at the Garrick
  • Macbeth (open-air production near my parent’s place)
  • Tempest (Simon Russell Beale) at the RSC Stratford-upon-Avon
    and
  • something else that I can’t currently recall.

I’ve also got Coriolanus in Stratford-upon-Avon next month, and Lear (again) in Chichester in October.

There’ve been a number of other plays along the way as well, and it’s all been pretty damn good.  I’m just surprised I’ve wedged as much as I have into two years…


Going Back

When I went back to Reading over the weekend, I also took the opportunity to stop off in Bracknell.

There was a vague kind of logic/sense here, in that I expected Reading itself to be solid, through having road closures etc. going on for the half-marathon itself, plus usual Sunday shoppers and so on, so it made more sense to get to somewhere else, and then train into Reading. I knew Wokingham station’s car-park is a bit of a cluster-chuff at the moment, so I went for Bracknell instead. And as things turned out, that worked really well.

Of all the places I’ve lived, Bracknell was probably the one I liked least. (I just tried writing ‘the most least-liked’, but that’s a phrase to make eyeballs bleed) I’m not a great fan of most of the area – I don’t mind Wokingham and Windsor, but the rest I could happily never really visit  again.  So it was also a chance to see if Bracknell had improved at all, or if I still disliked it.

First things first, there’s a whole new roundabout and housing estate on the approach to Bracknell, which was quite a surprise. I’d thought I knew where I was going – and I kind of did – but that did come up as a bit of a shock. (Even more so, as it also didn’t come up on the SatNav) I can’t imagine the driven commute between Bracknell and Wokingham/Reading was any fun at all while all that was going on.

Other than that, there’s a lot of regeneration work going on in the centre of Bracknell, which I didn’t get the chance to have a proper look at.  It wasn’t that high in my priority list – mainly because I’m still pretty sure nothing short of flattening it and starting again will do anything positive for the place.

Obviously I didn’t get to see all of Bracknell, but then, nor did I massively want to. The bits I saw were more than enough to convince me it’s still a scabrous shitpit, and definitely somewhere I’d never want to go back to for anything more than a couple of hours. In that context, it’s fine – much more than that kind of timescale, though, and it just becomes some kind of self-inflicted torture…


Leaving 2015

It’s the end of 2015, and for the first time in a long time, it’s been a good year. It’s had its ups and downs for sure, but the general direction has definitely been upwards and positive.

On the ‘ups’ side, we have…

  • worked all year on the same contract, which has made things a lot easier
  • built up some savings, for the first time in at least a decade
  • started up my own company and business, plus laying the groundwork for next year’s developments
  • been out to a good range of restaurants, and had a long weekend in Edinburgh
  • done some writing, and developed some ideas for working on in 2016

On the ‘downs’…

  • When I say ‘worked all year’, I mean it. Holidays and breaks have pretty much not happened. Certainly nothing more than that long weekend in Edinburgh
  • I’ve not built up the savings as much as I could/should have – but that’s been down to stuff with the car, the restaurants, and actually having a decent year of non-monastic living
  • having my own company again means I also have to deal with HMRC, Companies House, and bastard accountants
  • I haven’t actually finished any of the writing things

So it’s all swings and roundabouts, but all told it’s been a good year with a lot of stuff I’m really pleased about and/or proud of.


2014-15 Summing Up

This time last year, I made a list of things I wanted to do in the coming year.

So how have I done? Actually, not badly at all.  (The initial goals are in bold, with the results in colour afterwards)

  • Weigh LessKind of. It’s fair to say, this has had its ups and downs. Over the course of the year, I put back on some of the weight I’d lost, and then lost it again. With more regular attendance at the gym, I’ve also changed shape, lost a noticeable amount of fat, but replaced it with a similar weight of muscle, so I’ve maintained roughly the same weight throughout the last six months, despite looking (and feeling) fitter and lighter. It’s annoying, but successful in a way.
  • Write MoreLess successful. I’ve completed a couple of pieces, and got ideas for others. So I guess I’ve written more – and been doing more here – but still, it’s not quite what I’d hoped/planned for.
  • IAM TestKinda. I’ve booked it in, but it’s not happened yet. I’ll write more about that when it does.
  • Ideas for my own businessSuccessful. In the last six months I’ve changed to doing the contract through my own limited company, and dealing with my own accounts and payroll etc. – which is definitely a good step in the right direction. I’ve also got more/better ideas and goals for the coming year, and what the plans will be.
  • Build The FinancesSuccessful. It’s not been perfect. There have been unexpected expenses like the car’s turbo needing replacement, and a few other things along the way. There’s also been that nasty habit of getting out and having a life – some of which hasn’t been super-cheap.
    But all told, I’m coming out of the year in a far better position than I went into it. Not as well as I could have come out of it, but there we go – my choice, my decision, and it’s still a good position to be in.

So all told, it’s been a pretty good year. Most of the plans have borne fruit, or are at least showing growth and promise for the coming year.  Frankly, I can live with that as a set of results.

 


The More Things Change, The More They Stay The Same

In preparation for another post (one of the usual ones for a couple of weeks’ time) I’ve been looking at things from (roughly) this time last year, and it’s been a bit odd in some ways.

There’s a distinct synchronicity between the two years, which is surprising.  Last weekend, I bought some new tyres for the car – and it turns out I did the same a year ago.  It also got a full service done – which I’ve just booked in again.

It’s also just under a year ago that I started doing the day-trips when I could (and/or when I wanted to) on weekends, which has continued and been pretty cool. I haven’t done one in a couple of months, mainly due to a madly busy period with no weekends ‘off’, but that doesn’t mean I won’t again.

Along the way, there’s also been a lot of good stuff.

Comparing where life was last October to this is like comparing pearls with cow shit.

October 2014 was a low point, although nowhere near my lowest. (There’s some competition for that ‘honour’, mainly September 2010, April 2012 and August 2012, although I’m sure there’s a couple of other close-runners too) At the start of it, I’d just walked out on ShitCo with nothing to go to, nothing even in the pipeline. That was a bit scary, but infinitely better than the prospect of staying working for them. I know, I still haven’t written much about that time, and probably won’t – safe to say, it was No Fun At All.

I got a new contract within two weeks though, and that was the start of the recovery process and climbing back to where I find myself now. I’m still working for the same people, and will be ’til at least the end of the year. It’s been good – and helped by being a role where I work for/by myself for four days a week. I’ve rented an office in central Milton Keynes, which works best for my schedule and environment, and keeps me vaguely sane. (Which working from home four days a week probably wouldn’t)

I’ve done a lot of rebuilding again in the last twelve months, and I’m pleased with how it’s gone.

Onwards and upwards!


Thirteen

Today, D4D™ is celebrating its thirteenth birthday.

Way back in 2002, when I wrote D4D™’s first post in Blogger, things were very different…

And despite having slowed down and slacked off for periods over that time, it has to be said that D4D has outlasted

  • No less than eight houses (or at least my tenancies in those houses) – I’m still in the ninth place, so we don’t know which will win on that score
  • Four relationships
  • Two cars
  • Countless jobs and contracts – I’ve come up with a rough figure of 22, but I’m sure I’ve missed at least two
  • Oodles of other stuff I’m not going to rehash

There have been pauses, and things have definitely slowed down when it comes to writing here. But it’s still going, and we’ll have to wait and see what the future holds


Into August

Somehow, we’re into August already. The year’s racing by (as usual) and here we are. August.

August is a funny (as in ‘odd’, not as in ‘ho ho’) month for me – for some reason it’s always been rather more eventful than others. It seems to be generally a month of change for me, in ways both negative and positive.

It’s definitely the month I get twitchy about, more than any other. I’m sure that’s because my parents first pointed out what a consistently change-laden month it was (which may have also gone some way to making it a bit more self-fulfilling) but I try to not focus on it. By that, I mean that I don’t consciously go “oh, I’ll do that in August”.  August just seems to happen.

As examples…

  • D4D™ got started in August. Not intentionally (well obviously it got started intentionally) in August – that was just when everything came together for it to happen
  • My bankruptcy was in August. Again, that’s just when it came about.
  • I finally passed my driving test in August.
  • I’ve had *lots* of job changes in August, contracts ending and so on.

This time round, it looks (so far) like things will be a lot calmer.

I was a bit twitchy, as my current work contract had an end date next week – and even though I was 99% sure it would extend again, there’s always that “But it’s August, and thus could bite me on the bum” nagging doubt. However, it’s been confirmed this week that it’ll extend again, through to October (which will mean I’ve been doing this one for a year) so that’s all good.

To the best of my knowledge I’ll be staying in the current house for at least another year. That’s the plan (and renewal isn’t ’til November, so not a concern) and I see no current reason to change it.

There’s currently nothing else of major import and change looking like it’ll happen.  I’ve got stuff planned for the month, but nothing change-laden.   All the same, during August I’ll be…

  • Doing a 10Km sponsored walk for Marie Curie
  • Seeing Benedict Cumberbatch in Hamlet (a happy surprise instance, brought about by a friend of a friend not being able to go)
  • Possibly another London visit, or alternative Day Trip
  • Sorting out (renewing) car insurance again

And there’s a bundle of other stuff as well, alongside the weekly working normality.

So with any luck, this August won’t be too eventful and change-laden. We’ll see.