Re-Identified

For some reason, this year has involved renewing both of my primary forms of ID – a few months ago it was the passport that got done, and I’ve now had to do the driving licence as well.

In fairness, both processes have been pretty painless, and made much easier through technology – the passport had some issues with uploading a new photo (because I wear glasses, and photos without a reflection on the lenses is *difficult*) but it’s all involved a lot less hassle than one would expect.

The driving licence also pulls through the photo from the passport process (although the reverse doesn’t apply, weirdly) but it needed a lot more linked information than I expected – for example, why does my driving licence renewal require me to know/remember my NI Number? I’d already connected it to the passport system/number etc. for verification, so that seems like an unnecessary extra step, really.

Still, it’s all done, the new licence card arrived promptly – and well within the quoted two weeks – and the old one got cut in two and returned.

I now shouldn’t need a renewal on these things for another decade. How time flies, and all that!


MoTivated

Today, the car got its annual service, and also passed its MoT for this year. All told, a much better process than last year – and, of course, a lot cheaper!

I did take it back to the same dealership to get things done, and they’re still as shambolic as ever, insisting on filling every slot in the workshop, rather than leaving anything free for people who need work (for example, if the car had failed the MoT today, they’d have had to book me in for work to be done, rather than having availability on the day)  It’s a farcical situation – and similar to the bullshit system my GP is currently operating – and takes no account of things failing, or accidents happening.  Deeply annoying, to say the least.

The thing is, despite me raising it every time I deal with them, they just don’t seem to understand that the servicing side of the business is just as much of a sales tool as any of the people on the shop floor (most of whom seem to spend their days just farting around, but that’s beside the point)  The company – in this case, Kia – make a huge thing of their reliability, of their seven-year guarantee (so long as people follow the service routine, of course) which is great. But when I’m faced with a constant “Oh no, we can’t do [the work] on [that date], you’ll have to book something else” attitude, why on Earth would I buy a car that ties me in to that even more?

It’s something that would be so simple to fix – and something I’ve been told that they’ll try, but I’ve been being told that for three years now – but there just seems to be no real inclination to do it.

Still, my little car is doing OK, and as and when it does die, I just won’t get another Kia. Their loss long-term, not mine.


Non-Emergency

Back in early 2021, I did something stupid to my knee – still no idea what – which I didn’t take overly seriously.  It was sore enough that I did use a knee brace – particularly overnight – but it didn’t incapacitate me or anything.

Anyway, it turns out that the brace is quite possibly the worst thing I could’ve done, as it allowed things to heal incorrectly and so on.

The knee still plays up – but it’s intermittent. When I first stand or move, it’s sore as fuck, but then it eases off. I’m still fully capable of walking miles on it, but it’ll hurt significantly the next day, or if I then stop and leave it in one position for a long time (for example, driving home from wherever)  Having talked to others with a similar thing, and doing some research, I think what I managed to do was a meniscal tear – basically ripping some of the meniscal membranes in my knee.  Ooops.

Honestly, it’s pretty certain now that there’s not going to be much I can do to improve it. It’s as healed as it’ll get.  But I’d like to get a proper diagnosis of it, in case I’m wrong – I’m only basing this so far on personal experience (of my own damage, and the stories of others) and Dr. Google/Wikipedia, so it’s quite possible that I could be wrong.

However, getting that diagnosis is proving problematic.  It’s not an urgent thing by any chalk, but that’s an issue. My GP surgery are still only taking bookings on the actual day, so it’s a free-for-all of calling in at 8:30 in the morning in order to get a slot that day.  And honestly, I feel guilty at that point about trying to get a slot that could be better used by someone with, you know, something actually important/urgent.

It really is a massively fuckwitted plan. I don’t understand why they can’t do it so that at least one of the GPs in the practice is doing non-urgent bookings for even one day a week.  (Or balance the load and have a rota of who does a non-urgent day, or even week as a break from the urgent daily shit)

As it is, in this case I don’t honestly know that the GP would even be the best thing – all they’re likely to do is say “Oh, that’ll need an X-Ray/MRI” and refer it to the local(ish) hospital anyway.  So maybe it’d be better to go direct to what used to be the “Minor Injuries” clinic, so I can get a scan straight away. But “Minor Injuries” is now somehow “Urgent Care” (which is somehow different to “Accident and Emergency”) and that has the same effect on me – it’s non-urgent, and there are people way more in need of treatment than I am.

I’ll get round to it in the end, I’m sure. But in the meantime it’s a situation that is utter, utter bollocks.


September Restart (Hopefully)

So, yes, I’m still alive. There’s been a bundle of stuff going on that isn’t blog-friendly (or even interesting) and August has been it’s usual shower of shit.

I don’t know why it happens, but it does, and it’s not a conscious process at all.  But I’ll have about two weeks where pretty much nothing goes right, and it whacks my brain hard, and then I realise that yes, yet again, it’s bloody August.

Obviously this year I also got slightly walloped by July, but well, who’s counting?

As is obvious, I got through it all – and in fairness, it’s nothing major that’s been occurring, I’m still in the same house, same job, nothing epic has altered.  But it hits me hard anyway, like I’ve had enough energy to keep going ’til now, then I just feel like I’ve been slammed into a wall, and there’s little to no time or energy to do anything for a few weeks.

So anyway, yes, September. Let’s see how things go from here…


Smart Motorways, Dumb Drivers

I see today that the UK has decided to stop any new “Smart Motorway” projects, insisting that they need extra safety precautions.  This is primarily the aftermath of coroner’s reports into certain fatal accidents on these Smart Motorways.

From the article…

  • In 2019, 15 people were killed on “all lane running” and “dynamic hard shoulder” motorways. This is four more deaths than in 2018.
  • The number of people being killed on motorways without hard shoulders increased each year from 2015 to 2019, and totalled 39 deaths.
  • By contrast, on so-called “controlled motorways” – a type of smart motorway which have variable speed limits and a hard shoulder – there were 24 deaths in that period.
  • On conventional motorways, which cover more of the UK than smart motorways, there were 368 fatalities from 2015 to 2019.

The M1 around where I live was one of the first Smart Motorways, and I’ve written a lot about how stupid people can be on those motorways – particularly about the availability of lanes, and a lack of general driving standards (Middle-lane cunts and the like)

From my experience, a lot of drivers seem to be incapable of reading road signs saying whether a lane is open or closed (although also even whether the approaching junction is the one they want or not, until the absolute last minute)  This also seems to be borne out by the latest rash of road-safety adverts telling people that they should ‘go left’ in case of problems on motorways (and fucking hell, in my opinion anyone who needs to be told this shouldn’t be in possession of a driving licence!)

As an example of this, one of the cases the coroners were looking at was one local to me where the person’s vehicle had a problem, showed the ‘engine problem’ warning light, and they pulled in to one of the emergency refuge areas.  Now, when that happened to me, I got out of the car (in a snowy January) and called recovery to get me off the road safely.  But not this twerd, oh no.  They gave it a few minutes, started the car, no light came on, so they pulled out to continue their journey.  (The ‘engine problem’ light doesn’t necessarily immediately light up on starting – for example, if the issue is to do with the turbo, the EGR valve, air filter etc., it’ll only come on when you accelerate over a certain rpm limit, at which point you’re shafted)  And that’s what happened to Twonktacular – the light came back on, the engine performance disappeared, and they got hit by another vehicle.   Yet somehow that’s the fault of the smart motorway, not the dumbass driver.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not a huge fan of motorways without hard-shoulders. And I’m sure there are considerations and gambles that have been taken about how people get to emergency refuge areas, how the road monitoring is managed/staffed and so on. But I also understand how impractical it is, with current traffic levels and so on, to have a quarter of each road surface only available to vehicles in emergencies.

All told, I don’t believe that Smart Motorways are inherently dangerous. I think drivers (and their decisions, or lack thereof) are far more dangerous than roads. You just can’t blame an inanimate road for human stupidity.


Burning Money

Over the last year, a number of businesses have (unsurprisingly) moved out of the building where I have my office. The move to primarily working from home and so on has made them more aware of the costs of the offices, and in general I can see that it makes sense for them to downsize and so on.

What’s been more of a surprise is that other ones have moved in.  Again, I get it for situations like mine, where it’s better to have the office, and where working from home isn’t practicable.

There are some of those new businesses though, that despite paying the office rental/lease for a year, haven’t actually been using the offices at all, and I really don’t understand that at all.

I suppose it’s a good write-off for tax purposes or whatever, but to me it’s still odd to be basically burning that cash for no benefit at all.

Obviously it’s not my problem, and nothing to do with me. It’s other people’s business decisions and so on. I just find it interesting, and slightly baffling.


Raspberry Jammed

I’ve been a fan of raspberry jam for a long time, and it’s usually part of my breakfast. I’ve tried most of the different brands and types over the year, although over the last few years I’ve settled more on Tesco’s “Finest” offering, which is pretty well priced and tasty.  (Before that it was the Bonne Maman version, which was almost twice the price, and even now is £1 more expensive per jar)

Over the years, I’ve also always been interested in Fortnum and Mason when I visit London. I returned there in 2015 after far too long of not visiting, and have been back a few times since.

On that 2015 visit though, I saw they had some interesting jams – in particular, a golden raspberry one, and a purple one. I couldn’t get them at the time (because I was doing a ton of walking and theatre stuff, so wasn’t going to be carrying other stuff as well!) but on and off they’ve been on my mind since.

They are also ridiculously expensive – six-ish times the cost of my Tesco one, for a jar half the size! – so it’s a bit of a jump to be able to justify that kind of cost.

Anyway, back in October, I’d been to one of my favourite restaurants for my birthday meal (a saga in itself of rescheduling, lockdowns etc.) which is also effectively just round the corner from Fortnum and Mason.  So, having done an epic lunch, and needing to walk, I went in.  And having just spent a silly amount on Lunch (as well as a couple of drinks) it was probably the only time I could rationalise the price of those jams. So I did.  (Although I’m still gobsmacked at the price of them)

They’ve sat around since then, waiting to be tried, and it’s only been in the last couple of weeks they’ve been opened.

All told, they’ve been good, but definitely not worth the price. The golden one is noticeably sweeter and soft-of softer than standard raspberry jam, and the purple one is slightly different in taste (and very much so in colour) but certainly neither one is anywhere close to being something I’d eant to have on a regular basis – even if they were the same cost as the usual ones.

I’m really glad I got round to buying them and trying them, and to now know what they’re like. But I can’t see me getting them again.