Sickly

I haven’t been properly sick in a long time. By that I mean throwing up. I can’t actually remember the last time. Probably not in the years I’ve been doing this diary. Maybe when I was a kid.

But today I am sick. I am not sure why. I woke up in the middle of the night to the room spinning and feeling very nauseous. I went to the toilet but nothing happened. I went back to bed.

Woke up to the alarm, thinking I would be OK. But as soon as I got out of bed I had to sit down by the toilet. After a little time I was eventually sick. It was horrible, but not as bad I thought it would be. It felt good to some extent. A good old purge and I felt better immediately. So I tried to drink my usual morning coffee. Bad idea. Out it came.

The original sick was just clear white, nothing in it. The coffee sick was coffee. So I gave up and just drank little bits of water, and risked a dry toast. I’m still super hungry, which is making me worse. And have a caffeine headache.

It’s all very weird. My stomach has done its job, but is now upset over something. My worry is that I ate something I shouldn’t have yesterday at the post-funeral food eating (hopefully not meat?). I did have a weird routine yesterday, but that shouldn’t make me feel sick. I felt fine last night, and if it was something else J would surely have felt it too, as we both ate the same evening meal last night.

Now I just feel washed out. I am, as previously observed, a pretty rubbish ill person. I mope and moan and sit around thinking everything is awful when actually it could be much worse. I guess I just need to relax, but I can’t. Relaxing is not really something I know how to do…

Worst of all, it’s the weekend. Though we normally work on a Saturday morning, it’s never usually too taxing. But it’s going to be a nice rest of the day, and Sunday too to come. And I’m feeling rubbish. The summer has been really cruel like this – last bank holiday weekend the weather was awful, despite generally a very good summer indeed. The timing of things just keeps annoying me. And now, summer is over…

Time for a lie down.

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Goodbye Bob

August has been a busy and cruel month. We suddenly got quite busy again in work, almost from the turn of the month. We even had a dreaded visit Up North, which myself and J did together. It caused the usual farce of the office being looked after by our assistant and we returned to stupid problems and millions of rubbish phone calls to return. So much so that I ignored many of them on the presumption that if it was important they would call…

But just before we went away we got news that one of my longest standing customers was very ill and might not make it. Had timing been different I would have gone to see him, but within a day or two he was dead. He has been ill for years, too much drink because of chronic back pain. I saw him at the end of June, and he really wasn’t well then. But at least I saw him and had a laugh.

He was quite a character. I first met him when he called me out to his house to fix the computer of his elderly father. His father is still alive today at the grand old age of 98. In fact, I went to celebrate his birthday at the start of the month. He was a gruff up Northerner, but with a heart of gold. Over many years of fixing and helping them out, he quickly became more than just a customer but a friend too. I got to know his wife and his dad very well. They would always offer tea, coffee, food, chocolate cakes… and had so many parties over the years for birthdays that J referred to him as B(ob)BQ. Happily, Bob took J under his wing as well.

Sadly as alcoholism took hold, he lost control, and when you went to visit you never knew which Bob you’d get. The happy functional drunk. The depressed non-functional drunk. The pain-inflicted sobriety because he’d run out. He had been wishing to die for at least three years, hoping that at long last he’d be out of his pain. We told him he had to keep going for his dad and his wife. Though he wasn’t much use to them any more, he did need something to live for.

In the end it was too much. I’m glad we saw him earlier this year, and I’m glad he’s not in pain any more. It was horrible to watch someone go from being a little overweight to like a bone. There was nothing left of him in the end.

I will remember him from happier times, including staying at his house overnight after watching a couple of films. Thanks to Bob I finally did see Fargo. He forced me to at least be a little bit sociable at times, way more than normal, and in spite of the fact that the people at his BBQs were never particularly people I wanted to mix with. I have many memories, and I hope I can cling onto them.

Today was Bob’s funeral. We both went, and attended the little gathering afterwards. It was very sad, mainly for seeing his wife who was very sad (she had always been very strong) and the nice tributes at the service. We stayed for a bit at the gathering, but as it was mostly family it all felt a bit awkward in the end, so we made our excuses (we had to have our assistant in again) and left after an hour or so.

I had to be there. I had to pay tribute to him. It made me sad, and once again reminded me of getting old, a subject I am never far from thinking about. But that’s life. There’ll be many, many more of these over the coming years.

All the best to you Bob, and thanks for the good times.

Marking Time

July is a month that always fills me with dread. First of all it contains my former birthday. If you have to ask you don’t know me. But of course, most people treat it as my actual birthday. So I have to pretend to be grateful, and hide the cards until November.

This year has been all about marking time though. Watching the days turn to months, as I sit watching the rain, bored, because the weather – which has been amazing this summer – has conspired against me. After sitting cooped up in the office all week, generally bored just watching the hours disappear, doing work for people who are mostly horrible to me, being totally envious of all the lucky people outdoors enjoying the sun… here we now are at the weekend, fuming at the unfairness of the rain.

There’s nothing like stupid weather to get me down. And it’s daft because we really have had a great summer. One of the best I can remember. Certainly the best in 10 years or more. So to have a couple of days of rain, that’s probably ok. It says it’s going to get better again, so I will have to once again wish the time away and look forward to next weekend. When it will be August, and summer will be 2/3rds over…

I find myself like this these days. Life has become very different since I got a partner. I now just sit and do nothing. I used to listen to music, or watch YouTube videos, or play the guitar, or piano, or think about things I could do for business. Or actually do work. Because let’s face it, it I’m sitting here doing fuck all, I might as well be earning, right?

I don’t do that now. I just do nothing. I watch the clock, and the calendar. I read inane articles about life and how to change it. I ignore my family, who 90% annoy me, and I sit in worry about what me and J can do with our time instead.

The other day we did our usual thing of let’s go out. We rushed to get ready on a Sunday so we could make it for McDonalds breakfast, as we’re currently obsessed with hash browns. By the way, I weigh 60kg and am 1.8m tall. After eating, we got back in the car to decide what exciting thing we would do next. We couldn’t. We went home, and did nothing.

We don’t have anything to do or anywhere to go. Everything costs so much, and our car and all associated costs are ridiculous. It’s quite conceivable we pay more for the car than we do our mortgage, especially when you account for depreciation. So why have it? When we get punished for using it with ridiculous costs.

Everything marks time. My watch. My calendar. My face. My odometer. My computer. My bank balance. Even my penis. It now has folds it didn’t have before.

Entering middle age, I am more conscious of time wasting away into nothing. And yet… somehow, I am getting more relaxed about it.

A few Sundays ago J and I were sitting in a park. The sun was shining. The birds were singing. It was quiet and pleasant and no one was around. It was just nice. It seemed like this was a brief good moment. I noted it, and said that maybe this is what life is all about. And that we should I enjoy it.

I’ve definitely changed.

 

 

 

 

You’re Not Entitled To Your Own Facts

June has come and gone. The world keeps turning.

2018 is half over. The world keeps turning.

I am older too. Nearly ancient. The world keeps turning.

Some things are just factual. Truth, however, in these modern times, is far from it.

We see it in the political world around us, where people like crazy Donald Trump, and the delightfully comedic Prime Minister May we have, where holding multiple contradictory opinions simultaneously is now standard operating practice. Orwell called it doublethink. But now it’s more like treble and quadruplethink. Politicians have always lied, but now they can lie and, even when proven wrong, they stick to it, and, worse, rally their troops around the supposed unfairness of it all for having their lies called out.

But I see it in my work and personal life too. Clients who are unfaithful or disloyal to us, and expect us to come picking up the pieces when it all goes to shit. So called business partners who wouldn’t know good advice if it came forward and deposited £10m in their bank account but warned them they could only live off the interest. The whole thing is just unreal these days.

So June has been one of those months. Whilst outside the weather may have gotten better, and summer is most definitely upon us, it has been immensely slow, incredibly frustrating and wholly unsatisfying. People denying obvious realities and trying to make them to be something they are not… that is a recipe for failure. And alleged former business partners, who I used to think of as friends, have shown their true colours. I am not surprised really. It was always a marriage of convenience, one more suitable for them than me… and it’s wasted five or more years of my life being stuck in it.

The only good things – my partner is making good progress with his exams. My family are still alive, including a nice moment when mum and dad came down to visit and we went out for a meal with them. It was all very civilized. Though mum got animated as usual and started with her classic Corbyn obsession. In a very middle class location. But it was all good. We had a good conversation. It had been a while. Sadly, this is how things are now with me and politics. I have no one really to debate it with. But then again, it’s not exactly a fun subject these days. See a few paragraphs back.

No more Mr Nice Author. I have very few friends and those in my confidence. I treat everyone as untrustworthy. It is a shame really, but after what I’ve suffered over the last five years, it seems like this attitude will now be with me forever. No one can be trusted. Not properly. They only disappoint.

 

Chairman Of The Bored

I’m pretty bored right now. It’s hard to believe that in the month since I last wrote, not really anything has happened.

Like last time, I still find myself wishing away the hours, days and weeks. It’s hard to understand what is going on right now. Work is dead. I mean deader than dead. Ok I lie a little. We are still doing stuff. We’re just operating on maybe half our normal workload. And it makes the days and weeks drag like hell.

There is still no closure when it comes to MABP. He is still holding on for grim death, and I’m still wondering whether or not I will be absolved of all the nonsense just like I should be. He claims he will make all right to me in the end, but I’m doubting I’ll ever see the £10.000 he owes me ever again.

There has been some progress with him though. At the very least he has admitted defeat and is finally walking away. He has no work to do with me. He has no money to offer as rent to my business. So he is going. At long last, and finally on terms I wanted – i.e. not adversirial. We’re half way through him taking his stuff away, and we’ve started moving bits around to take its place. At the moment it looks much worse, but it will get better.

I still worry about what’s going on though. I don’t understand why my business has dropped off a cliff. I don’t know why I’m finding it so difficult to adapt to having more time to do stuff. I suddenly have too many hours in the day. 9.5 hours is an awful lot of time to fill if the phone isn’t ringing. But I should be able to find things to do. How can it be after 9 years or more of being self employed I’ve reverted to a state of not having work?

Part of me is done with it. Part of me wants to jack it all in and do something else. The sad thing though is that I don’t have anything else to do. I am no better than I was back when I was desperate for work. I still have no desire to make money for someone else. The thought of applying for jobs again fills me with horror.

The sensible part of me knows I have to stick this shit out. J wants to try out his new business and I don’t want to stop him. But if I give up he won’t have the opportunity to pursue it. Possible clients are being horrible to him as well. I think it will be very difficult. I have told him this. But I will not stop him. I don’t have the heart. He deserves to give it a try. He has supported me during the last few years of hell with MABP. Now my former business partner. That’s one good thing.

But while business is shit, I have become filled with money worries. I’m suddenly worried about spending on treats. I don’t deserve it. And I feel doubly bad because to cut back we are going to have to finally make our office assistant redundant. We can’t afford it. She brings no value to us any more. Especially when it’s dead. It’s not her fault but she will be the one who suffers. She has been a struggle the last year or so. But on a personal level I will feel mean. I still don’t know how I’m going to deal with it.

I write this post while J is upstairs studying for his next exam. I have to remain strong so he can finish doing what he needs to. I am pretty fucking bored out of my mind though. The internet can only entertain me for a few minutes these days.

I blame my entire existence over the last 10 years for my short attention span…

A Liquidator Calls

It has been an interesting few weeks. Not for my own business. That has been, let me just say, fucking boring. IT is not the place to be right now, though some might say it never has been. Demand is dropping, and the reasons to keep using Windows are now essentially non-existent for all casual computer users. It is merely habit keeping around 80% of home users on laptops and desktops. I digress.

As per the discussion of a few posts ago, I have been patiently sitting on the sidelines wondering when the Liquidator would strike against MABP. It has been deeply frustrating, but we’re now nearly through April. April, I had decided, would be the month I do nothing. I would let the process take its natural course.

The Liquidator thinks I might have been involved. Maybe. It’s not clear. They asked me lots of questions, and I did my best to point the finger of suspicion away. To a disinterested observer, they might conclude that the fact I know everything and MABP knows nothing looks like that I was actually a crafty puppet master, setting up MABP for a fall. The truth is anything but, but you know that, dear Diary. You know of all the shit I’ve put up with for years, for an easy life. And also because I genuinely do feel intimidated. No one understands why, not even J. I’m not sure I do either. I’m just afraid, maybe.

But the Liquidator chose to visit yesterday. I lost my temper, briefly, when I let slip a swear. Not at the Liquidator, but at the process. There I was, trying to orchestrate MABP into a graceful exit, so that I didn’t have bailiffs at the door of our office, and so he could walk away from it all and do something else – and I was sitting there being probed with questions. I’m the one worrying about what’s going to happen and how terrified I am that they will make a finding that I was a “shadow director” and therefore am liable for what happened. I could be held personally liable if that’s true.

I was – however – assured that this won’t happen. I’m being told, off the record, that I have entered the process in good faith and I have co-operated and engaged to make everything simple. I don’t believe anyone any more.

MABP has his own problems. He thinks he can still swan in and engage with me about stuff. I still haven’t found the bottle to challenge this misconception. I tried – vaguely – last week. It didn’t go very far. He could lose his house if things don’t go to plan. I would not enjoy watching that, even though others around me, J included, seem to want it to happen to make him suffer just a little, like I have. I can’t wish that on someone, but at the same time I wish I could make him understand just how upset his inappropriate and lavish behaviour has made me over the years, all the while owing me over £10k. But, as he once said, “I wouldn’t understand” the pressures of being 50 and having children. More likely I do not understand the pressures of mixing with people who earn £80k+ without even trying. And long may that continue.

As you can tell, the whole thing has made me quite bitter. So when I said to the Liquidator that I’d be more than a little cross if the finger of blame got pointed at me, and I had to suffer financially as a result, it genuinely did have truth to it. It just wasn’t very professional. I apologised, at least twice. It made me look stupid. But maybe it made my point better than handing over 30,000 transactions on a Sage journal ever could.

The Liquidator will eventually decide to do something. I’m not quite sure what. I’m just eager to find out. I find myself wishing away this month, in fact this whole year.

It is just 8 months until Christmas.

The Easter Family Gathering

Every year Easter comes and goes. I used to make it a point to go back home for Easter, especially in the early years of living away from home. But in recent years, with the relentless rise/decline (delete to taste) of my work life, I have instead preferred to stay at home in the South and enjoy four days away from work. There are not enough of those. And I always thought I see my family enough anyway when I come North for work.

But this year, now that my evil Client from the North has sacked us for spurious reasons (see previous post) – there is even less need for me to ever see my family as the visits I do have dropped off a cliff. In some respects, I am relieved. I was tired of doing this anyway, and we were going to bow out gracefully, allowing everyone to save face. But instead, it didn’t happen.

So now, here I am, up in the Northern counties again, at home, with mum, dad, J, my youngest brother (who is back living at home thanks to various nonsenses involving a new house, moving out, an ex-girlfriend, and unsatisfactory explanations for everything), and my nephew. The brother and the nephew are thick as thieves, and have so far conspired to keep my awake first by getting takeaways delivered in the dead of night, and then talking (mumbling) for hours and hours whilst playing computer games. The brother is 24 this year, and seriously needs to grow up. The nephew is 19 soon, and is also seriously being misled by my brother. Not that he needs it. He’s taken up residence here, and now my mum and dad have a serious handful to deal with. He is angry, aggressive, ignorant, dozy and, worst of all, a serial liar. I do not feel comfortable with him around, and I have to say I don’t even recognise my own brother any more.

So, suffice it to say, it hasn’t been the family reunion I had been looking forward to. I hadn’t seen my mum and dad since Christmas. My other brother moved out in January, and he hasn’t been seen or heard from either. My older sister is busy looking after my other three nephews (two of whom are demonic, and the third will no doubt get there). And my younger sister hasn’t come home for Easter as she’s off on holiday. It’s good for her as her other half earns a very decent income…

Life is strange. Families are even stranger. J is not enjoying the experience (except for the dog, whom he loves) – and my mum and dad seem very stressed about everything now. It’s not what they needed. I’ve told them that if they can’t make the brother move out (which would also dispose of the nephew) – and there’s no reason why he can’t, he earns decent money – then they need to sell the house and downsize. It would be sad, but it needs to happen. They went on holiday and came back to a shit-tip, and complaints from the neighbours about noise and parties all night. Yes I know 24 and 19 are the ages to do these sorts of things, but my mum and dad don’t deserve this. They’ve done their child bringing up years. They’re now having to babysit moronic young adults who don’t know they’re born, with the opportunities they’ve had, living a middle class existence sheltered from actual, proper hardship. The only hardships they suffer they are now bringing upon themselves in their negative attitude to everyone.

Perhaps I am unfair. I was never like them. Neither was my other brother. But I think that’s because we appreciated what we had, and tried to build on it. My other brother took a long time but I think he’s now getting there. Though, sadly, I will now be incredibly distant from him.

Happy Easter. At least there’ll be some chocolate to console me.

Cathartic Client E-mail #1

Dear FORMER CLIENT OF 9 YEARS,

Further to our phone call earlier, and having had time to compose my thoughts, I felt I would like to write back with a formal response.

I recognise that no contract has ever been in place between our respective organisations, but I was happy to allow this on the good faith understanding that you have always treated me fairly, and I have done everything I possibly could over the last 9 years to look after you as a client. To dismiss me and my business with no notice shows this was misplaced – a mistake on my part.

As I said on the phone, I reject your premise that we have not been sufficiently attentive. I have always responded immediately to every call I have received, I believe the same is true of J, and I have always done everything in my power to make sure that CLIENT was looked after. I can cite three recent phone calls from CLIENT’S DEPUTY MANAGER and CLIENT’S RECEPTIONIST where problems were investigated and dealt with the same day.

You said that you didn’t feel like you could call any more, but you have never once detailed any concerns about not being able to reach out to us. You have never asked for us to visit more often. How can we possibly have known that you were unhappy if you had not communicated with us? I thought we had a better working relationship than that. I could understand budgetary concerns – it is a very harsh financial climate for education out there – but, again, you didn’t express these either.

I am sorry that after such a long time of looking after your school you felt it necessary to offer us no notice, no warnings and no opportunity to change or improve by any clearly definable standards. IT has become an extremely complicated world, with dozens of moving parts, interconnected and overlapping, making fault finding and resolution a slow and often frustrating process for all concerned. Your repeated explanation that “there are many niggly things” is categorically and comprehensively so vague that it leaves me bewildered as to how I could possibly respond.

You would not, and could not, treat one of your staff in the same way that you have treated me. I would never have expected it from you in any case. Perhaps I misjudged that.

As I said, we were planning on discussing with you towards the summer an amicable hand over. We would always have wanted to give you several months notice not to let you down. I’m sad that the reverse could not have been extended.

A genuinely upsetting and disappointing end to nine years.

 


 

You will no doubt not be surprised to learn that the client never responded. I would like to think that that means they thought I had them “bang to rights”. No doubt their holier-than-thou attitude defended them from that.