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.
Well, thank chuff all that’s over.
No more mentions of either the Royal Wedding, and the FA Cup bullshit can fuck off for a few months as well.
Of course, now we’ll be heading straight to the hype for a summer of Kickyball in Russia and so on, but at least that’s two hypetastic media obsessions out of the way.
One of my free local papers had an interesting front-page headline this week. It does seem a bit specific (and somewhat prophetic) though – I mean, if they already know that someone else will die within the week, wouldn’t you think they’d add in more guards, or make the area a bit safer during that time?
(And yes, I know what they meant to say – but it’s not what it actually says! Or at least it’s rather more open to interpretation, anyway)
Over the last couple of weeks, one of the satellite TV channels has been repeating one of my all-time favourite series, “The Closer“, and I’ve been recording and re-watching them. In some episodes it shows its age (it first went out in 2005) with the technology, phones etc., but that’s pretty much to be expected now.
Right from the start I liked it, each episode contained all the clues and ideas needed to solve the crimes, which raised it above an awful lot of the procedural dramas around. It was intelligent in a number of ways, but there was also a focus on personalities, clashes, and idiosyncracies.
I was well into it anyway, and then the last three episodes of the first season hooked me completely. I won’t go into the details, but the final episode of Season One has the best apology ever seen on TV, and it still makes me laugh, even knowing it was coming.
However, it also has a bit of a downside. The writing is so sharp, the characterisation so good (in my opinion, naturally) that I watch it – and a couple of other things, particularly “The West Wing” – and just find myself thinking that I’ll never be able to write like that.
I’m going to damn well try, don’t get me wrong, but yeah, it still makes me a bit demoralised about the whole thing. Fun and games.
It’s a great exhibition, and shows a wide range of Weiwei’s works, including his massive (and understandable) loathing of China.
The first thing you see, as you enter the RA’s courtyard, are the trees, made of assorted pieces of wood
In the exhibition itself, there are just so many different things. Tables that have been melded with timbers from 14th century temples, and/or bent to rest with legs against walls, epic cubes (including one that is a ton of compressed tea leaves), video installations, 3000 porcelain crabs, and many others.
The cubes are fantastic, and a particular favourite of mine was the wooden epic-scale puzzle box (that needs two people to get it to work) which was just beautiful, and so tactile…
On the walls in that room there are also two panels, listing every single identified body from the 2008 earthquake. Just the scale, the number of names, is gob-smacking, and upsetting in a strange way.
There’s also a lot of humour in the exhibition – surprisingly so, and in contradiction to what I’d imagined and understood of Weiwei’s work. My personal favourites of the entire exhibition are the two wallpaper designs. (Yes, wallpaper) The first is this, whole patterns created from a stencil of a man’s torso and arm, ending in a fist with a raised middle finger.
The second wallpaper, “Golden Age” is even more clever. Surveillance cameras and Twitter birds predominate
There are many, many other pieces – in a variety of sizes, materials, and styles. (I also loved the chandelier built from bicycle wheels) It’s an impressive body of work, and I suspect a number of pieces will stick with me for quite a while.
All told, I loved the exhibition. It’s so much better than I’d expected/assumed, and is so worth going to see.
Even better, the RA are actively encouraging people to take photos of the exhibits, to promote it themselves, and to touch most of the items. It’s very tactile, very open – and so nice to see that kind of understanding. (Although they did still tell off the German who slammed his camera and bag onto one of the bent tables, impervious to the fact it was an exhibit – but you can’t do much about idiots, in fairness)
The only (small) downside is that for the price you’re paying to see the exhibit, and the fact it’s only ticketed admission, it was still crowded. I would rather that there were fewer people allowed in at once, and thus those people can see the exhibits better, without being being constantly blocked, wandered into, and having others drifting into one’s eyeline. But then, I’m an antisocial git.
All told though, it’s great. I’m actually considering going again before it finishes…
Today, Queenie becomes the longest-reigning monarch of the UK – 65 days, 7 months and 2 days (at the time of writing, naturally)
I’m not the greatest fan of the monarchy – although neither am I a disliker of it as such, I’m just completely ambivalent about the entire thing – but that’s one heck of a time, however you look at it.
Whatever though, it’s always good to be able to resurrect this image – and yes, I know, it’s Photoshopped, rah rah – which you can’t help imagine is what she’s doing to Charles on a regular basis…