Slouchy

This time last year, I didn’t really have any ‘slobbing out’ stuff at all. The closet closest I really came were some tracksuit bottoms that I used for workouts and the like, but there wasn’t really much else.

Since then, with the Lockdowns and so on, I’ve expanded my collection a bit – after all, there’s not really any point getting “properly” dressed on the days you’re not even venturing out.  So over the summer I had/have some thinner cotton trousers which are really comfortable, and for colder times, I’ve got some warmer ones that aren’t quite tracksuit bottoms, but also aren’t really fit for anything other than staying indoors.

My real concession though, and I’m not at all proud of them, are some slippers. I’d found that my feet were getting achingly cold, so it made sense to get *something*, and these horrors came up at just the right time.  They’re unbelievably ugly, and I’d happily burn them if I ever got a partner, but for now they’re warm and comfortable, and that’ll do me.

But I can be sure that, no matter how warm and comfortable they are, they won’t be seen outside the house…


Clipped

Way back when the first Lockdown was announced, I bought a set of hair-clippers, and it turns out it was probably one of the best things I did.

It’s already more than paid for itself – I think that since then I’ve only had two haircuts at my usual barbers, and all the rest have been done myself.

Of course, it’s also been a learning experience, but once I’d (sort of) figured out the hair length thing, it’s been useful.

I’m not perfect at using them – each use has ended up with a couple of return visits as I’ve discovered bits I’ve missed (or at least that feel like I’ve missed them) – but the results are at least passable, and I’m not worried about being seen out in public once I’ve done it.

Once sanity returns, I’ll still be happy to go back to having a barber do the job properly. For now, though, I’m just happy to be not looking like Cousin It.


Return of Warmth

Following on from the post about the car’s heating system having packed up, I finally got it sorted just before Christmas.

As usual my dealership was a clusterfuck from start to finish – although there appears to be some light at the end of the tunnel on that one.

Initially, I asked them to have a look at what was wrong when I took it to get the brakes fixed. They ‘checked everything they could’ and couldn’t find a problem, but the heater pack is behind the centre console, and they hadn’t allocated the time to do that, so it had to come in again.

That happened on the 21st, at which point they told me it was “only a diagnostic visit – we’re just finding out what’s going wrong“, which was what I’d suspected might be the case, but regardless, my sense of humour started to fail. Because obviously that would mean a third visit for the same problem, which is just fucking ridiculous.

As it turned out, the problem wasn’t with the heating system itself, but with a cracked/fucked radiator that was leaking at a good pace. (The mechanic actually brought me through to the garage to show me) Apparently it was only doing so once the system became pressurised (about 10-15 mins into a drive), but still, fairly serious. And because the leak meant it was losing pressure, the heating system wasn’t working.   So we needed to get that sorted.

Then they told me it couldn’t be done ’til December 31st, and my sense of humour utterly failed. I wasn’t nasty, but I was quite obviously pissed off that they were happy to send me home (a not insignificant distance) with a close-to-broken car, and leave it that way for ten days.

Fortunately, at that point the light at the tunnel switched on, and one of their people (a sales manager) suggested to the reception that they move some stuff around, so that they could deal with my car the next day. Not ideal, but far better than waiting ten days.  Even better, he’d come and collect it from my house, get the work done, and bring it back.  (Which also meant it would be their problem if it went pop on the way there)

And that’s what happened.  I filled the rad with water before he arrived, to make sure it was as good as possible. The car got collected, fixed, and returned. (They fucked up the costs too, but that’s another story)   And since then, it’s all been OK, so it does appear that the problem’s been fixed.

Once he brought it back, we had a chat about how the service department had really let down the sales side on this – when it went in for a pre-MoT service, they noted that it was virtually empty of coolant, but never looked at why; they missed the leaking rad in the MoT itself; when the brakes were being replaced and they were ‘looking at everything’, they didn’t notice the rad pissing water everywhere; and the ‘diagnostic visit and then return to get it fixed’ was bullshit.

As it turned out, they’ve listened to my previous complaints about these practices, and that sales manager is now in charge of the service department, and has been tasked with making it run better, with a more customer-focused attitude. It’ll be a challenge, but it was good for him to have been able to see exactly why he was needed, and what the problems are with the current set up.

I hope it works – they’re at least aware of the problem, and trying to fix it – but only time will tell.


The End of 2020

So here we are, at the end of a true bin-fire of a year. Covid, Brexit, Lockdowns, it’s all been more than a bit bollocks, hasn’t it?

In many ways, I’ve been lucky this year – as I’ve said before, I’ve not been too badly affected. I’m still working, I’m still healthy, I’m still solvent, I’m still going.

I’m not saying that to be smug, or to belittle anyone else. I know that in many ways I’ve been fortunate, and that some of my privilege is probably showing. But equally, I’m not complacent about any of it, and I’m not going to tempt fate along the way.

In other ways, I’ve not done well at all. I’ve missed out on seeing friends, and on doing stuff – and again, I know that’s true for most people.

This year has definitely affected me, it’s left me with less motivation to do things, and with more loose ends than I’m used to. I don’t like not doing stuff, don’t like not having plans. I’m better at having plans changed last-minute – but that’s more because those things are outside my control.

I don’t know what 2021 will bring. (Obviously – no-one does. This time last year, no-one expected Covid) I do think there’s going to be a lot of hardships still to come, but I also hope it at least gets easier than 2020 has been.

Onwards and upwards, anyway. Have a good one, and let’s hope it’s a better one.


Colder Than Necessary

Yesterday, for reasons I’ll write about some other time, I had to drive up to Newark.

It’s not a horrific drive, about 90 minutes usually, and pretty easy. Straight up the A1 , and then down the M1 to come home.

Yesterday though, was bloody vile. About halfway through the drive up, it started to snow – not super-heavy, but enough to make things interesting in the still-quite-dark winter morning.

It was at this point that I discovered that my car’s heating had packed up.  Fuck.

By the time I stopped at Newark, it was snowing fairly heavily, and starting to settle.

When I came out to go home, the car had a good three or four inches of snow all over it, and the roads were full of it as well. The start of the drive home was emphatically Not Fun, although for me that was mainly because it was bloody cold inside the car, and no heating meant it was also steaming up a bit. The real Not Fun was more in the purview of other drivers who couldn’t handle snowy roads and/or hadn’t put lights on, and were generally utter fucksticks.

The M1 was OK – once I got down past Leicester the snow turned to heavy rain, and then it was just a slog through shitty weather and shitty traffic.

All in, the temperature (according to my car) rose by five full degrees (Centigrade) in the hundred miles between Newark and Home.

It’s been a long time since I’ve had a drive where I was actually thankful to get out at the end of it. But that was definitely one of them.


December Already

Bah HumbugSomehow we’re already in December. How time flies when you’re having fun locked down for half the sodding year.

It’s been weird this year already, in that I’ve seen a number of people who’ve already put up their Christmas trees and so on, even more prematurely than usual. There seems to be a school of thought that says it’s OK because “we need something to look forward to“, but that rings with the dull plop of bullshit. Maybe it’s just me, but I’m more of the viewpoint that even if I started today, I’d be sick of the bloody event by the time it comes round. Adding another two weeks to that is surely just a way to be even more jaded about it all.

But then, as we know, I’m a grouch.

I’ve also been gobsmacked about the hysteria around “We’ve got to have our Christmas“, and the mindset that people would’ve broken all the rules in order to have “a proper normal family Christmas“. We’ll get past the horrific racism of the government being quite happy to cancel the festivals of other religions (The first Lockdown was announced less than 24 hours before Eid, and the second one blocked Diwali – and I’m fairly sure there’s been at least one more festivity that’s taken a kicking) while Christmas is apparently the be-all and end-all of UK Civilisation.

Honestly, I’ll be glad when this year’s over and done with. I don’t think 2021 is going to be any easier, although there’s some hope on the horizon with Covid vaccines etc. But it’s still looking like it’ll be another ongoing hellscape – just possibly slightly less of one than this year has been.

Again, I can’t deny, I’ve been lucky throughout the whole Covid thing this year, and I’ve been affected far less than a lot of people have. I know that, and I accept it.  But I’ll still be happy to be through this year.

 


Alone vs Lonely

With the current Covid stuff, I’ve found it interesting to see how it has affected a range of people.

One of the big complaints about it is how the lockdowns have made so many people realise how lonely they are, along with the damage it’s done to those social norms and events.

Truly, this isn’t something I can empathise with. I’ve never really lived close to any of my friends – they’re scattered all over the place – so I’m absolutely used to being on my own in any particular area. So I’m alone, but I’m never lonely.

Alongside that, I don’t know, I simply don’t feel those things. I’m happy on my own, and always have been.  Being sociable is my “not normal“, being on my own is the default position.

In all of that, I recognise that I’m “lucky“. I’ve come through this year OK, with far less damage than most people have suffered – whether that’s realising their lives are more lonely than they thought, being ill (or watching others being ill), or just seeing things change so much and feeling insecure because everything “normal” has suddenly tilted beyond recognition.

I sort-of understand that desire for everything to “go back to how it was“, but to me even that still carries a fair degree of self-delusion.  Things have changed, and it’s (to me) far easier and smarter to embrace those changes and make progress with them (I hate the expression “the new normal”, but that’s what this is – even with vaccines and so on, there’ll still be major changes for the forseeable future)

I don’t know what 2021’s going to bring – although I don’t think it’s going to be a positive year – but I’m pretty sure I’ll get through it, same as I have this year. And all I can do is hope that the same is true for those I give a sod about.