The Parental Visitation

There aren’t many examples of it, but as I sit here on Easter Sunday in the midst (tragically) of the third act of the bank holiday weekend, it is somewhat different than normal.

Yesterday my parents arrived for a two day visit. They decided, somewhat impromptu, to visit me since they were both on holiday from work and all my other siblings had deserted them. I had a feeling it might happen, as we had briefly talked about it when I was last home, but here it is. Now happening.

It’s nearly two years since they were here last. It’s always good when they visit, because they get to see what a bachelor (haha) life I am leading. The house is in bad need of some attention. So we usually do a tip run, and maybe increase the furnishings of the house just modestly. But they are highly critical of everything here, including such sparsity as there being no lightbulb in the room they are sleeping in (I never use the room, so I forgot! It happens!)

It’s all quite interesting, to be honest. I know there are lots of things that I need to sort out. I just never get the time. I feel like I should make the house nicer to live in, but it’s generally not something I’m good at. I look at the bare walls and think “hmm. What would I put there?” People say photos, art prints, other personal things. I just look at them and think. Hmm. What would I put there? It’s beyond not knowing. It’s actually not caring. I do not care one bit. I don’t know how to. Other people have imagination, and enjoy putting their personal touch. I. Simply. Do. Not. Care.

But what I do care about is what other people think when they visit. So when my parents tell me the environment is somewhat “inhospitable” I start to think maybe I should at least make it have a little more friendliness to my guests, however infrequent they are. I worry about that. I am, in all aspects of my life, somewhat worried about people may “think” of me. Even though I know that that is not a sensible way to live over the long term.

Parking that issue to one side though, it is still nice that my parents are here. We’ve had a nice leisurely breakfast, and we’re going out for something to eat in an hour or so. A nice stroll into town will do us wonders, even though I know my mum and dad don’t really do walking any more (welcome to my non-driving world). We get on pretty well with our jokes, but I generally don’t enjoy watching crap on the TV, which they are both inanely doing now whilst I sit solitarily in my bedroom writing up the latest nonsense that has arrived in my brain.

The most exciting part of my life though, that I’m now on the third day off out of four, is still wonderful. The sanctuary will end tomorrow, when the fourth arrives and I will feel like work is imminently returning. But it just reminds me how much I love Easter. Not because of its religious aspect, but because of its wonderful back-to-back bank holidays. I feel all the more rested for it.

Here’s to holidays. I need more of them.

Bad Decisions

As time has gone by, I think I’ve got better at spotting the likely trouble jobs.

In recent weeks, work has been so overwhelming that I feel like I haven’t had a day off in months, and yet I know that’s not the case. But I do know for a fact that I have almost been working constantly for at least a few weeks, which has really worn me down.

Last night I was on the verge of taking a decision to roll the dice and change my business up completely, but this morning I have once again put my cautious cap back on.

But one thing I have definitely made a wrong call on was a recent call that emerged late on Friday, which I had a feeling would be something very tricky, and has proved to be. Not before a long and excruciating saga involving unsociable hour calls, a threaded screw head that needed to be drilled out, seriously cut fingers which have been stinging for days, and the personality of the customer being far too demanding. All this when I was so close to not even taking the job. I should have trusted my inner judgement…

What has ground me down so much has been the fact that I have got myself involved in too many peripheral things, involving my not-yet-might-never-be business “partner” – which has, again, taken up stacks of my time for no return. This involves tax returns, VAT returns, self-assessment, free IT support, on and on it goes. Time that I desperately need.

Undoing bad decisions is impossible. It feels easier to just to ride with it, accept my lot that I made a mistake in the first place, and see what comes of it. Nothing has now for several years, not through want of trying, but ultimately, I am now beginning to think I should never have gone down this road.

One bad decision that I wish I could undo is the use of my house as a workplace. It is not suitable. It has driven me mad recently. I cannot escape the phone ringing. I cannot switch off. I have a clutch of customers that expect too much, around the clock, and think that I’m just bob-a-job, hobby PC advice, who doesn’t mind helping because it’s not his bread and butter.

They are so wrong it’s untrue. I dearly wish I had made more effort to make my business more professional. People assume that, as I’m working from home, and they have my mobile number, that this isn’t a serious enterprise. That they can just call me anytime because they know I’ll be there, and that they can “pick my brains” because I’m their “PC guy” or whatever vaguely friendly but often diminishing term they use.

The business has the strong smell of amateurism about it. About a guy just bumbling along making bits of cash here and there from fixing people’s PCs in his living room.

At the end of the day, they are wrong. I make good money out of what I do, and I do it because it earns me a decent living and allows me the freedom and flexibility to deal with the people I choose. That, in reality is the state I am at. I don’t have to rely on one particular person, and you don’t have any right to ring me at 8pm in the evening, or 6pm on Saturday, or any time on Sunday. Nothing in the IT world is that cripplingly urgent, I promise you. I have never come across a job that couldn’t wait until normal working hours. It really is just people being extremely inconsiderate.

The only people who could possibly have an excuse are businesses. Businesses do not phone outside of working hours. Why? Because they’re not working outside of working hours!

The facts are now simple and I need to be bolder about addressing them. I don’t need certain customers. The ones who think I am sitting here all day, every day, waiting for them to call, hoping, praying that someone will take mercy on me and throw me a few crumbs from their table. Or the ones who wrongly assume I am some sort of international corporation with staff on hand 24/7 to deal with their most minor troubles. So you lost your Hotmail icon? So you want to know my warranty terms? Do you know it’s 9pm on a Sunday? (both true stories)

Maybe people are just getting more rude? Maybe people expect far too much in modern society? We have got used to websites being online around the clock, and supermarkets open all day every day that we forget that PEOPLE are not the same as fictional corporate identities.

I know this has been a bit of an epic rant, but I needed to get it out of my system. I need more sleep, I need better sleep, I need better food, I need more time to look after myself, I need more time to enjoy myself, I need more time to have a social life. I can’t do all of that and run a business every day too.

Bad decisions of the past cause this. Bad decisions that seemed like good at the time, but on reflection set up all of this.

It has to change soon.

Making A House A Home

My house is a triumph of function over fashion. It looks grim. It has bare walls. It is what an estate agent might called “lightly furnished”. But the minimalist look was hardly what I was aiming for. It just is.

I have never been one for design. The look and feel of things has never really interested me that much. As a technically-minded person, I am more interested in what things do, and how they do it. Aesthetics do have some value, but they are definitely subordinate to the way things work.

But the problem is my view is not shared by the vast majority of the rest of the population. When people visit my house for work purposes, which has a living room that basically doubles as a workshop, many people have been known to comment about the crappy nature of the furnishings. It’s not that it’s in bad order, or dirty; it’s simply… barren.

Most of the time I laugh it off, or make some witty quip about “still living like a student” or “lacks the feminine touch” or whatever. Bachelor pad, in other words. This is made a little easier now that my housemate is no longer hear to overhear my insulting comments.

But it has now come to the stage, where I am living here on my own, that these comments are starting to grate on me. I do need to make this place more liveable.

The main problem is that I have no immediate solution to the number 1 reason behind it all: work. The living room is filled with computer crap, most of which is simply passing through. Some of it needs sorting through to decide whether it’s worth keeping or not. But I can’t escape it. I need it. It is my job. If I don’t have anything here, it means I have no work. And that doesn’t happen these days (thankfully).

In recent weeks my helpful neighbour and friend has donated a number of items to me to help make the house a bit more interesting. A number of these items have had functional value, like plates and cutlery, but some of them are decorative, like a porcelain cat and other strange things. I have it say, I don’t really like them, but I have put them in the room anyway. One for political reasons, and two because, yes, it does break up the tedious, endless empty lines. It forces me to leave spaces clear of computer stuff, and think of them as homely areas, not part of the workshop…

It’s going to be a difficult process. I have started by turning my living room around. I never liked it the old way anyway. In the meantime, it’s even more chaotic than normal. Maybe I’ll get there eventually…

Living On My Own

There was a Freddie Mercury song released posthumously which was entitled the same as this post.

I never really liked it. In fact, I found it pretty annoying. But it suddenly came to my head when I was thinking about what has become my new life situation.

As mentioned last time, my housemate has finally left. Life in general is now a huge burden lifted. All the stresses, all the trauma, all the irritating small things that drive you mad, all gone. That alone is one of the things that make me feel like this year is already extremely positive…

But now everything is mine. The house I live in, although it is rented, is now entirely in my control. In the past I used to think why should I bother to spend money on it, when both of us get the benefit. Now it feels like I have to do something about it…

Because, really, I must. The house is desolate. The bits that aren’t filled with computer shite are totally empty. It is, as one of my visitors recently said, “an unloved house”. It looks like I’ve only just moved in. In fact, I currently don’t have a TV (though I haven’t missed it…)

It is embarrassing. People are often visiting, because of the nature of my business, but it is not a welcoming place. It is functional. The living room has somewhere to sit, and that’s about it. Otherwise, it’s filled with computer crap, and a couple of plants.

In some respects, I still don’t feel like I should do much about it. I feel like I should spend my money on saving for my deposit on my own place, which is something I feel must be on my priority list this year. And, with it being rented, there’s not really too much I can do. I can’t put pictures on the walls. I can’t paint the walls.

But these are just excuses. It is not a nice place to visit. It is not a place to live. I will have to spend a bit of money, for a change, on some nice things for me. Not something I am in the habit of doing…

Some might say maybe there is a certain loneliness to living on your own. I have got to be truthfully honest and say I have not yet experienced that. Maybe I will at some point. It’s a big reversal from the past when I used to go on about enjoying living with other people. I still do, but I think, with age, I want my own space now.

I’m not going to be a good person to live with…