Not As Easy As It Seemed

In my last post I hoped that I might achieve a flash of inspiration and think of lots of amazing adventures to happen.

The good news is that the weather did improve. From early June and its unseasonable cold, requiring the heating to be switched on, it has picked up to being generally consistently warm. This alone cheered me up. I could finally wear some of the new t shirts that have been sitting in my cupboard for six to eight months. Maybe more. I’m sure there were some I never got to wear last summer.

But weather only gets you so far. You still have to have ideas. And my ideas have worn thin. After going to Portsmouth again, and not really thinking all the travel was worth it, we fell into the same trap by going to Lyndhurst and Lymington. Again. While these are nice places, they don’t really stand up to repeated visits. After arrival, I felt the inevitably of the walk from the High Street to Lymington Pier train station, and back again. Ending with ice cream and maybe a coffee. There’s only so many times you can go to these places. The ponies of the new forest are interesting, but not repeatedly.

So the last few weekends we’ve done nothing, having had no ideas and nothing better to do. There are chores to be done, and J is the master of starting things and never finishing them. The garden has a great hole from digging out crap. It has remained the same for weeks. Last week we did nothing about it either, though to be fair we were both distracted by the amazing World Cup cricket final…

But we have to do these chores. I don’t want to do them as much as anyone. But if we can’t sit down and plan an adventure to somewhere different, which requires thinking about it at least the previous day, then getting up early, getting ready quickly and leaving, we will otherwise sit around and hours pass in the blink of an eye. It’s happened already today. I’ve been awake for 4 hours, and I’ve done nothing. J thinks we can do stuff spontaneously, but it just doesn’t happen. Everything takes too long. It’s been two hours since breakfast and I haven’t moved since then. It’s horrible how life feels so mundane that I don’t even want to do anything at all.

Maybe it will teach him a lesson. I’ve been saying so for ages. We have to plan ahead. We don’t talk about it. So nothing happens. I’m spotting a pattern here.

Meanwhile we have nonsenses like yesterday where I got my head bitten off for saying I don’t understand how he does the accounts for our business. I was just trying to see what he’s doing, but maybe I asked it too confrontationally. Either way he was very snippy about it, so I just thought “fine, I’m not going to talk to you” and instead I will spend a couple of hours cleaning the office. That wasn’t planned, but at least I felt like I’d achieved good stuff from it.

So here I am moaning about everything as usual. J spends forever getting ready, I can’t even brush my teeth as the bathroom is in use, so yet more time just goes up in smoke.

And then I’ll be straight back to work tomorrow as if the whole thing didn’t happen.

Sometimes weekends are more hassle than they’re worth.

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Attempted Adventures

Each year summer comes and goes in an inglorious blaze. We mope around waiting for it to warm up, then it finally does, and we don’t know what to do with it.

Several months ago, at the peak of winter’s depressive grip, I said to J that we must plan to do some fun days out exploring this summer. It seemed like a good thing to say at the time to excuse the fact that the days are short, the weather is grim and there’s nothing to do but watch Netflix.

Anyway, just a short while later and we’re here. We’ve had ours downs this year (very few ups) so things are still a bit tense. J has been ill several times too, only with colds, but they seem to take a grip on him for a very long time. The initial wave then always leaves him with a horrible cough that clings on for weeks afterwards. I get stressed very easily over such things, and I feel mean, but the sound of someone constantly coughing is one of those things that grinds my gears. I feel stressed hearing it day after day week after week. And I also panic that I’ll catch it next…

Anyway, we’ve not been on great terms of late, so organising adventures and generally communicating has been on a very low list of priorities. I’ve made good excuses instead, such as working myself to the bone, and also encouraging J to do the same. Moving to accountancy was his idea after all, and he needs to put in the hours to support his growing client base… and the more he works on that, the more I have to do every IT job under the sun…

But we have at least achieved two adventures this summer. Three maybe.

The first was to Oxford. I’ve never been there before. I would never go again. It’s not Oxford’s fault the weather was like a winter’s day, but really apart from ticking off the necessary tourist spots, it felt oppressive. At every turn, a cyclist would power down the pavement at you. Most would ring their bells angrily, as if to say why are you in my way? The tourists themselves had nowhere to go. And tourists in general are just rude, totally blocking the way for others to get through (including tourists such as myself) in 30 wide groups so they can all be in a great camera view…

The Ashmolean was good. I spent a good few hours exploring there. Though as usual I felt like we’ve raped and pillaged the world to bring their treasures here. How lucky and privileged I am to have history brought to me here.

The following weekend saw a trip to Hayling Island. Never been there before either. That was genuinely nice. Lots to see and explore, a surprising lack of tourists, and a mini train. It felt like being in any other southern seaside resort. Except quieter. The sound of the sea was amazing, as was hiding in the rocks with the tide lashing around it. The weather was also surprisingly kind. Would go there again as there was more walking to do.

Then there was Salisbury. A place I’ve been many times before. This time it was for the outdoor arts and culture stuff in the town centre. It was decent and entertaining in parts. But it was all free and we managed to keep ourselves amused for a whole day, which we can’t normally do in Salisbury. There’s only so many times you can visit the same places.

Will more adventures follow? Will the weather improve again, as I sit writing this peering out the living room patio doors, watching the rain.  Let’s hope so.

The Easter Truce

My family is a little difficult these days. My youngest brother is overstaying his welcome at home. My younger brother has returned home (nearly aged 30) because his rental situation hasn’t gone smoothly. This time last year my parents were looking forward to having an empty home. It was a bit sad for them, but it was time for them to enjoy having the house to themselves again.

How quickly things change.

They call us the boomerang generation, Somethings goes wrong and we’re straight back. My brother had a job and a relationship. The relationship broke down, and next thing he was back home. My other brother had a job. He lost it and is now back to square one. He came back home too.

Both my sisters have moved out for good. And I’ve been gone for 9.5 years now, having left multiple times previously due to university. But we always come back.

Easter had never traditionally been a time I would come home to see the family. There was no need to, as I was always here there and everywhere with work. But when that all fell apart last year (I will never forgive the way they treated me, so called Catholics) it’s meant visits are now very few and far between. So much so that I can say it has been August Bank Holiday, Christmas/New Year, and now this Easter.

I am somewhat glad though. The situation is fraught. My youngest brother and my eldest nephew are thick as thieves, and get up to all kinds of trouble. Weed, joblessness, and a bad influence on one another. They stay up late, they get up later, they make bullshit excuses for things not going right, and the nephew has a terrible victim complex.

So we just try not to talk about it. Mum and Dad threaten to sell the house, which would be sensible but sad. I feel like they’re being hounded out of their own home, and by getting rid of it will make it incredibly unlikely we’ll ever have such family get togethers again. They are the hub to our spokes. Without the hub, we will end up going all our own ways.

So I try to value these moments, fraught though they can be. We’re all adults now, used to our own space, but some people are not very good at sharing it. Some people behave like we should all be happy with their noise or other late night antics. I try to forget about it for now.

The last few days have been nice. J and I travelled up on Thursday evening after work, and have had a busy day (Friday) which was lovely with the young nephews. We went on a tram, and the middle of the second crop of nephews seems to have taken an attachment to J and me. Which is strange, as they don’t know us really. They have always been a bit distant and strange. But they are getting better. Except the oldest of the second crop, who wants to be a YouTuber. Says it all about modern life…

Saturday we then spent time with my nan and an uncle I haven’t seen since Christmas either. That was good, actually, surprisingly so. We managed to just chat and enjoy each other’s company. I managed a cup of tea and two shortbread. They were nice too. After that we all went out for a family meal. Nowhere special, but it didn’t really matter. It was tiring and occasionally stressful when the arguments began over the order process, but it was good overall. We then came back to the house, where we sat around the fire outside. It was quite relaxing, though the smoke was a bit overpowering…

Today we’ve had minor Easter plesantries. Hot cross buns, boiled eggs, coffee. Sunday dinner currently being made, which is good as it keeps J occupied. He seems to like a roast. I couldn’t care less, but free food made by someone else is right up my street! And again, it’s the occasion. The increasingly dwindling few opportunities to see family members and semi-catch up. Because we don’t really. We talk about old times and endless old jokes. We talk about Netflix. We don’t really talk about lives and our futures. That’s difficult. It’s not what we siblings do.

Sadly tomorrow it must come to an end. J and I will once again have to make the hundreds of miles trek, after depressingly sitting and consuming yet more coffee but maybe only toast this time, since the hot cross buns have run their course. It will then be back to work, and back to getting stressed about all the things I haven’t done, and all the things that have happened which shouldn’t have, and all the things that I really wish would happen but won’t. 7 days a week, until the next break.

The truce is nearly over, but I’m glad it’s happened.

Looking Into A Dying Man’s Eyes

J had some more bad news recently (it’s been one thing after another this year). He has looked after the IT needs of a lovely old couple for the best part of a decade now. I didn’t know them, but J was very fond of them and they have always been extremely generous, both in hospitality and financially. I know that can colour perspectives, but I was prepared to believe him on all fronts.

The bad news was that the husband in the couple had serious heart failure and would be dead within weeks if not days. This phone call came direct from the poor dying man, and it really shook J up. J panicked and said we must go and see them. I wasn’t so sure as I thought I wouldn’t want to be around with family etc. You’d just feel in the way, surely?

A couple of weeks later and A was still with us, and J was getting more and more anxious. We agreed we’d go and combine it with a trip to see J’s mother’s grave, an annual ritual which, whilst painful, seems to give J some comfort and grounding. But as a twofer in grief, I really wasn’t looking forward to it.

We seemed to drive for hours that day. We went and visited A and his wife. His wife was indeed really hospitable and kind, somehow managing to look after us whilst doting over her dying husband. Poor A could barely speak, and conversation was impossible. He’d only just gone like this, said A’s wife. I became depressed that I’d delayed things because if we’d come before J would have had a proper chance to speak to A for the last time. It wasn’t to be, and instead we sat there awkwardly chatting to A who would briefly respond sometimes with a flicker of acknowledgement, occasionally with a smile, but more likely a look of pain.

It was horrifying. Looking at a man who knew he was dying, in severe pain and clearly nearly at the end. We tried to keep things light and normal; it was anything but.

We walked around the village on our own talking about it, feeling guilty that we could have come sooner but didn’t. It turns out the family weren’t there, so that wasn’t a problem. It’s a lovely village, but it felt odd to be out exploring whilst a man sat dying, and it was bitterly cold. So we went back. His wife made us something to eat – a spot of normality for her – and we went back to sit with A.

As we talked for the last time and said our goodbyes A managed a smile through significant strain and pain. It felt like something you’d see on film. He seemed to have made a real effort to acknowledge us, and smiled when J darkly said “See you again soon!”.

I couldn’t keep it together at that point, I had to leave. I just kept thinking how awful it must be to be sitting there in so much pain, knowing you are dying, knowing you’ll never see anyone again. Death. The finality. The shock of it all. It was too much. Once we were out of sight I cried and hugged J, who himself seemed sad but there was not much emotion showing. He never does. I didn’t even know this man, it was the first time I’d ever seen him, and I felt sick with grief and anguish about how awful and cruel life is.

We left, and I was glad to. I felt awful about leaving his wife to deal with him on her own, but she wanted it to be that way. She wanted A to die at home. I wondered whether she would be lucky enough to have the same fortune once it’s her turn. Who would look after her?

Life is truly pointless. We get moments of greatness, far too many moments of sadness, and a massive great spattering of humdrum boredom everywhere. It actually seems cruel to be alive at times. I often think having children is actually inflicting great pain on the child. It’s unfair of an adult to do that…

It’s been mentioned many times since, and now J has gone to the funeral and I’m looking after the office on my own. Mercifully it’s been quiet, but I know he’s having a tough day…

 

Revelations: Chapter 3

J has been a great improvement in my life. But there have been times when things have been a little… difficult.

Chapter 1 of was not long after I met him. He told me about some things in the past that were very very awful to hear.

Chapter 2 was shortly after we became “an item” as they say. He told me about some more things in the past that were very very awful to hear.

Chapter 3, however, did not happen intentionally.

It turns out that over the past year or more, he has secretly been building up a massive stash of debt, followed by interest, then turning into charges.

I had been a bit suspicious for a short while. Every couple of months I like to update our financial records. It’s something I’ve been doing since about 10 years ago, as a silly way to see if I’m doing OK with my money. I’m not really sure why I do it, but it’s nice to look back on and see how it has grown because I live like a trappist monk. OK, maybe not that bad.

These reviews had become increasingly fractious. He was refusing to disclose information to me, and he had to be forced into doing it. Eventually, in our most recent encounter, he came up with a figure that seemed to defy credibility. I ignored my nagging doubts.

Then a few weeks later a letter turned up which I totally by chance stumbled upon. I was genuinely looking for some crisps. Crazy, huh. And there was a letter, which I noticed had arrived and then disappeared in the blink of an eye. I was a bit suspicious, as that’s how I’ve found out about various bad things over the years.

The letter said there was a charge being added to his account for going over the credit limit. Whoa, I thought. That’s not right.

It took a lot of courage for me to ask what it was all about. I knew he had this credit card. He told me there was nothing on it, and he just used it to buy Coke and silly things.

He was very very angry with me for reading his mail. Too right I’m going to read his mail if there’s something in it I should know about. But it was a total accident. Genuinely. I felt stupid, but also annoyed at his attitude. He’s supposed to be an accountant. Why would he not want to talk about being sensible with money?

After several days of this blood from a stone approach, each time him being difficult and only giving me a bit of the story (lie and lie) he finally let me login to the various accounts.

I was shocked. Not only was one credit card up to the max, but so was another one! And what were they filled with? Seedy purchases on dodgy online wank websites, where people flaunt their bits in exchange for tips. Lots of other crap too, including nearly a grand on Bark.com (which is a total scam), accountancy software he wasn’t even using, crappy purchases of embarrasing items… and shit tonnes of interest.

Not only had this amounted to nearly £7k of debt, there was also £4k less in his bank account than he’d been telling me. And another £1k on another credit card I knew of, but didn’t know the balance.

I was furious, but calm. He clearly has some issues. We tried to talk about it, but none of it made sense to me. In the cold light of day, it made no sense to him either. It was duplicity in the extreme. Two independent brain thought processes operating to hide the truth and deny it, whilst sitting in judgement over the financial affairs of others.

We never really got to the bottom of it. Suffice to say we paid it all off and have to rebuild.

My trust in him has been shaken, and I warned him if this happens again he’s gone. It will take a long time to get over this, emotionally and financially.

Real Man Flu

I have had the flu. Everyone says they’ve had the flu at some point, but not all of them are correct.

I am sure I did. I have never felt so horrible. I think back all the years I’ve been writing this, and I write about illness relatively rarely, thankfully, as apparently I seem to be quite lucky and not suffer it too much. If I get one cold a year that’s about normal, and sometimes not even that.

But I don’t ever remember feeling like death warmed up and writing about it.

Last Saturday I suddenly noticed, thanks to my Fitbit, that my pulse was oddly high. I mean, three digits, constantly. I could feel a headache building, but I thought nothing of it, as I’d been having quite a few of those recently. I’m trying to control my caffeine intake, and it’s led to lots of sleepiness and withdrawal symptoms. Not that I drink much coffee, it’s just that I seem to have become very sensitive to caffeine, so I’m trying to get down to just one caffeinated beverage a day…

But on top of this I’ve been getting horrible migraines, that sit behind my eyes all day, making me feel like I want to gouge them out.

So I have been feeling a little sorry for myself recently, and it all seems to have been since the New Year.

I ignored the symptoms. I went to a shopping centre with J on Saturday afternoon, where I stood bored in an Apple Store for 90 mins whilst J changed his phone for a new one. Yawn yawn. The pain was rising and rising, and all the while the back of my throat was getting tighter. I did start to wonder what was going on. The pulse was now more like 120. I started to feel warm. Very very warm. And tired. Super tired.

I went to bed very early for me, especially as it was a Saturday. I felt truly terribly bad. I knew something was wrong, I just hoped a good sleep would help. But sleep well I did not. I had a fever. I tossed and turned, feeling like I was being boiled alive. The banging in my head continued.

Eventually it became Sunday, which was painful, but less so as I relented and took some paracetemol. I don’t like taking things, but this was severe. I’ve never felt as bad as I did then. The pain in my head, the fever, and now I was developing what felt like a thousand razor blades at the back of my throat. Nothing would shift it. Coughing increased and became painful. I didn’t want to go anywhere or do anything. Thankfully, it was Sunday so I didn’t have to.

Sunday night’s sleep was equally evil, as I coughed and coughed all night. My throat became so dry and sore, and it began to feel like there was something stuck at the back of my throat constantly. It wouldn’t go. Swallowing itself became extremely painful. The hacking, barking cough carried on. But I had to go to work. No one else runs our business. J can’t do it on his own, he just can’t. But I felt “better” than Sunday or Saturday, so I felt like I could chance it.

Monday went by and by the evening I was starting to think if I could just get a good sleep it would be all over. But that didn’t happen, and by Tuesday the coughing and dry throat thankfully began to subside, but in its place began The Phlegm.

I have never had to visit the toilet so many times, between washing my hands and our old friend micturition. My hands became cracked, sore and eventually bleeding. My nose was red rare and my sinuses were on fire, so much so that it was painful to keep breathing, meaning I spent most of my Tuesday and Wednesday with my mouth open, which made my mouth dry, which made me drink more water, which made me go to the toilet more, etc etc. It really was a phenomenal amount of purging. It was exhausting. And all the while I had to keep working, including whilst sounding like Barry White on the phone. I had to look after the office on my own as J was out on site. Luckily,

By Thursday the worst of the symptoms were over, and I could start to think life would be over. My head still felt full of crap, but it was flowing out of me less readily now, giving relief to my poor bleeding hands. The phlegm became thicker, and each round of getting rid of it felt like the pressure in my head was dropping. This was a big relief…

The bad news, by Wednesday J started with the symptoms. We’d done all the usual disease control protocols, as we call them, but clearly they were not enough. This was a very bad one. I feel really bad, because J seems to have been hit even worse. He has barely moved from bed, and not been in work Thursday or Friday, and now again on Saturday. But he says it’s a little better this morning. I suspect that means he’s amount to move out from the coughing and sore throat phase to the phlegm one. But at least it’s progress…

Another crap weekend ahead then. Par for the year so far I suppose.

2019

I don’t like to make predictions any more. Life is becoming scary. It’s too short anyway, but now I look into the future and think I genuinely have no idea whether I will still be alive in 12 months time.

That is a daft thing to say, I am hoping, but it is true. This last year has seen quite a bit of loss, many of it tragic. I have no reason to believe I’m ill or feel in any way like I am so. But it could happen. I have heard too many scary stories this past year, and suddenly entering into a new year, where my older sister will be 40 this year, is terrifying.

There’s nothing any of us can do about it, of course. We have to carry on, and cling onto what we have.

I have to try and enjoy life more this year. I say this every year. I say I have to find new work, new hobbies, new diversions. They don’t happen. Some years I even say things like, I really mean it this time.

The trouble is there is hardly any way to make it happen. Being coupled makes it tougher, as J can’t cope without me for more than 5 minutes. If I want to do some reading, I feel guilty that he doesn’t have any, or is just sitting playing Pokemon Go. There have to be more fun things we can do together than sit and watch TV.

I read a lot of stories about achieving financial independence. One recently someone by age 39. Not far off for me. He talked about reaching that magical crossover point when income from investments exceeded actual income needed to live.

I think about that all the time. It has always been my dream. It was shattered when I bought a house, but maybe that will eventually work itself out. I hope it’s a case of sending money into the future to be retrieved later. Somehow though, I doubt it.

Anyway – I looked at my own finances (well our joint finances, which are partially covered by the fact that J is secretive about his) – and realised that typically we earn about £1200 a year in interest. Then I worked out that we need about £28000 a year to live, survive and be reasonably comfortable in maintaining our current perks of life.

To get from £1200 to £28000 on current returns would need something of the order of £2m saved. That’s never happening. Well, certainly not this year anyway.

So 2019 will not be the year I achieve financial independence. But it might be the year that I try on the path. I’ve talked to J about us trying to invest our money in stuff. Not that we have money to spare, but we could spare a few hundred pounds of month. You got to start somewhere. Apparently, it’s “really that simple”. I know it isn’t, but the internet likes to make out it is.

What they don’t tell you is that people who achieved it were probably saving £4000 a month, not £400… because they were in jobs paying £90k a year or more. One article I read actually did say that, and casually tossed around the numbers like “well yeah, isn’t everyone earning at least that?”

2019 will be a year of utter disappointment, then. I will not get anywhere. I will not change what I’m doing. I will not earn a great deal of money. I will just carry on existing, and you can possibly call it living if you like.

This year will also be a year of sadness. Things will go wrong. People close to me will be ill, and possibly even die. I sit and worry about my younger but not youngest brother. He has lost his job again, and now has nothing and might even lose his flat if he doesn’t find some new income soon. It must be depressing for him. My parents aren’t getting any younger, and my mum definitely is not the person she was. She sits glued to Facebook, craving adulation, sharing nonsense and engaging endlessly in crap interactions. She is forgetful and distant. She thinks it’s the “change” – but we all worry it’s something worse.

My gran is frail now. My mum and dad’s dog, who I’ve struggled to like for years, is now quite old and slow, and looking at her fills me with sadness. I have even grown to like her, and once she’s dead I’ll be mortified. Is that a tear in my eye? Who’d’ve thought it…

My nephew is still a lost fool, and tries to impress his mates. I heard him on the phone yesterday. You’d think he was talking to his gang mates, brought together as blood brothers, bonded for life and will do anything for them as they would do for him. It’s an odd form of togetherness. He doesn’t know that they are totally unimportant. If he found himself a proper job, doing proper work, somewhere away from here, he’d never speak to them again. But they’re all chavs together, and it’s the best feeling in the world. Odd really, because he didn’t behave anything like that when out with us the other day.

My youngest brother I have no idea any more. My youngest sister – she will be OK, as she seems to have found someone who will look after her, even though he’s a bit of an idiot. But I guess you’ll never get the approval of in-laws. Twas ever thus.

So 2019 will not change anything. Probably neither will 2020. I’ll just get older, more bitter, more cynical, while being less engaged with life, and definitely less healthy.

So that’s a lot to look forward to.

2018 – A Challenging Year of Change

2018 – what happened to you?

It’s a strange thought that all of a sudden the year is over. It only seems five minutes ago we were basking in the glorious sunshine of the wonderful summer we had this year. Even less time ago when I was sitting writing my post wondering what was going to happen this year, sad that Christmas was over and that it was time to get back to reality.

Well here we are again. 14 years since I started keeping this boring journal. I wonder how many others from that early era of blogging are still “blogging”? Most people have moved on to Instagram and Twitter. We never did really have the attention span to sit and read what others have written for page after page, year after year. No one’s life is that interesting.

But we have important business to consider. How was 2018? It’s tough, because I can make a very credible case either way. As usual, I look back at what I wrote at the start of the year and once again wonder what I was smoking.

There are many, many reasons why this was a Bad Year. My own life took a quite serious turn for the worse when the “other business” that I had apparently given up writing about finally came to a head. It was a double-edged sword. We lost a big client, and I also feel like I lost a friend. But I have gained a lot of time, and my work life is now very different. I am back to now focusing 100% of my work time on my own business. That has been good and bad. Bad because my own business is fucking dull, and good because it has given me back vast amounts of work time that I had lost, and a cross that I had been bearing for the best part of five years is now gone.

But overall I still think all of this had been Bad, because realistically my former business associate had had some good and profitable moments. I am doubtless richer for his involvement, despite him notionally owing me £10k or more. I have been recompensed for much more than this, but he never did pay back his personal debt. I’m not willing to forgive it, but since the man is now a bankrupt there’s not much prospect of him bothering, no matter how many times he says to me he will still sort it out one day.

I feel sad for him and his family. They have always lived in cloud cuckoo land when it comes to finances and life. They will suffer for what has happened. And I have too. I have lost a decent friend and a business ticket to excitement. I can’t say I haven’t had an interesting ride. But it is now over.

My family have suffered. My Gran is a shadow of her former self, now preferring to stay in her bungalow all day. My oldest nephew and youngest brother plague my parents, forcing them to consider selling our family home, which would be a tragedy on many levels. Part of me is being selfish. It is comforting knowing there is always a bed for me here. It would be lost forever. There would never be family Christmases again. This year’s was actually quite good, but it can never meet up to the expectations any more. My younger sister left so soon after Christmas to go back to work. It was all just very sad.

My relationship with J is not really as good as it should be. I’m still a bossy boots, and he is still as secretive as ever. It seems to get harder and harder to break down that wall. We still sit around just watching Netflix when the day is over. We still have no real hobbies, and we still have no other activities to fill our time except driving to get coffee somewhere, or walking into town. The tragic loss of our favourite coffee shop (replete with fine muffins) has also been a bitter blow!

My own work is just the same as it was before. In fact, now worse, because I focus exclusively on crap. There are no entertaining side projects or deviations that can arrive. We sit and react. I watch my e-mails with horror and sit terrified that the phone might ring, despite the fact that each call and each e-mail is basically how I earn my money. I have been doing this so long now that you would like I should be used to it, and back myself every time. But when the IT world has been changed so much by how truly terrible Windows 10 is, I start to wonder whether soon there’ll be anything left for us to do. People hate computers, and are dumping them for tablets and phones, which are unfixable and make us no money. The computers left are being ruined by Microsoft’s Windows 10, which makes every job a total nightmare, for the lottery as to whether or not you’ve actually finished fixing it…

So I still have nothing else to do, despite writing at the start of the year that I must do so. It’s tremendously bad. 10 years ago I could not really have imagined I’d still be doing the same thing now as I was then. Whilst IT has changed a lot in that time, I am still, at its heart, a computer problem solver. The tools of the job just change, and I just get older.

I think I have also lost something this year: my mental acuity. It’s been going downhill for a while, but I have definitely noticed that I’m now far more forgetful, and more unfocused than ever. I keep wondering whether I need to increase my B12 intake, hoping there’s a sensible explanation for it. There isn’t. It’s just getting older.

Meanwhile J has had a struggle this year, trying to make his accountancy practice sideline become something more than a sideline. He hopes that is his ticket out of IT. He might be right, but it will take a long time. Nothing happens in business overnight.

Out in the wide world, politics is totally mad (Trump still here, but now fucking unhinged) and our own politicians are tremendously bad (May) and sadly lacking (Corbyn). I have learned a lot about MMT in my free time, which has fascinated me with the realisation that we are all just so wrong when it comes to the economy… but it has been for interest only. It will never gain traction, and it will never achieve anything. Our media and our world is just too blinkered.

I should focus instead on the few good things that happened, and each time I can note that I was an agent for change in each one of them. Christmas – fun, and good times were had in the brief moment we had. A trip to a safari park – organised by me, involving a big chunk of the family. A great day out. A trip to a nearby city with J – at my suggestion, and we had a really nice day out.

The rest of the year was just a dark and depressing hole. I increasingly feel like Christmas is a metaphor for life itself: a brief flash of light between two infinitely long voids. But unlike life, Christmas comes back again and again. Never always the same, and each time an opportunity to live it anew. But just like life, distressingly short.

So what of the year? I think I would have to remain on the fence on this one. It was an Average year. It had its depressing bits, and its sad bits (including the death of a client who became a friend: RIP Bob) – but I’m still here. I’ve had some nice times. My family are still around, and struggling on as they always do. But my nephews are getting better, and my sister is getting married.

It wasn’t all bad then.

If there’s been one theme throughout the year, it has, instead, been a simple one. Change. Change for the good, and change for the not so good. I can either sit back and watch it happen around me, and complain bitterly about the things that are changing that I cannot control (politics, other people’s lives), or I can make it happen, one small victory at a time, in my own life.

I just need to remember that all the time. It is not so easy.