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Sunday, August 19, 2018

Abandoned Package For Pablo Hassan

Dear Sir,

 I am contacting you regarding a special cargo that has been abandoned here at our warehouse for over a period of 2 years and when scanned, t revealed an undisclosed sum of money in it. From my findings, the cargo originated from Europe and the content was not declared as money by the consignor in order to avoid diversion by the shipping agent. I strongly believe the box will contain about $4.5 million or more.

 In my private search for a reliable person, my proposal now is to present you as the recipient of the cargo since the shipper has abandoned it which is a possibility due to the fact it has been abandoned for a period whereby a new beneficiary can be presented to the clearance department for claim and also my position at this shipping service. I will pay for the fee and arrange for the cargo to be delivered to your address. Alternatively, I can
 personally bring it myself and then we share the total money in the box equally.

 Regards,

 Mr. Lewis Hawkins
 Asst. Operations Manager
 Zim American Integrated Shipping Services Co. LLC.
 Chicago (IL) Agents: 9950 W.Lawrence Avenue,
 Suite 215 Schiller Park, IL 60176

******

Oh finally, that'll be the money for the cocaine I shipped to the tropical island of Doncaster just over two years ago.  Shame that I had to waste several people over non-payment.

Have you checked the box for explosives?  It could be a trap.  Be careful.  Send me a photo.

Who are you?  Do you have any connection to Serco, the gang from Doncaster?

Regards
Pablo Hassan

******

Dear Pablo Hassan;

 Thanks for your quick response to my mail. Please I have crossed checked the customs clearance declaration on the airway bill of the cargo and it is confirmed the cargo was truly not properly declared as "Money" instead it was declared as family treasures which means I need a Non Inspection Clearance Certificate from TSA to ensure we get Customs Approval document to get the cargo removed from our warehouse and shipped to your destination. However, like I stated in my email, this Non Inspection Clearance process will cost $3,200 which I am ready to pay myself to ensure we can get this delivery process rolling but you have to assure me that my own share of the funds will be given to me in the event I am not able to deliver cargo to you myself which I will try but not 100% certain due to my commitments at my job. So kindly get back to me with this final assurance to ensure I can move ahead with the clearance and delivery protocol of the abandoned cargo.

 Furthermore, for you to have full confidence of the existence of this consignment, the US Customs Ultra Scan Report from the Chicago O'Hare Airport Chicago where the cargo was scanned by the authorities is attached to this email alongside my work I.D which indicates that the trunk boxes have been scanned and confirmed to be filled with United States Currency. So in order for me to negotiate with the officials for the release of the withheld package to you, I will go ahead and pay for the US Non Inspection Charges which was the main reason the consignment was with-held by the Chicago O'Hare airport authorities in Chicago, IL since these charges were not paid by the diplomatic agent delivering this consignment to you from Europe and complete shipment.

 At this point, I advice you re-confirm your full Name's and address, Telephone number and the nearest airport to your home then wait to hear from me once I have paid for the Non Inspection Charges and concluded negotiations for the release of the consignment to you but you have to assure me once again that my own share of the money will be given to me as I am doing this all by my own and not with the consent of my colleagues.

Warmest regards,

Mr. Lewis W. Hawkins

******

Dear Mr Hawkins

What are you saying to me?  Do you realise who I am?

I am PABLO FUCKING HASSAN.

Do not mess with me.

Either you have the money or you don't.  Have you ever known anyone to have a forced vaginoplasty?  Because that is what happens to guys that fuck with me.

We can do business, but I am seriously concerned that you are either having one over on me, or you are part of the Serco gang.  Or even worse - a pig.

Show me the money, and we can do business.  I have top grade cocaine available, all the way from the Scottish mountains.  Even better than the Peruvian shit.  But I need my debt paid first.

Regards
Pablo

******

[...no response some days later so I e-mail again]

Oi.  Ya gassing me?

******

[I don't think I've got a deal]

Sunday, July 22, 2018

Sainsbury's Complaint: Pulling Teeth

I'm rather quite busy nowadays, especially with my job, commuting and trying to enjoy London, so I don't always get the time to complain.  I have not only a list of complaints to make, but also a folder of complaints to share on my blog.

So I thought I'd be efficient and save up a few for Sainsbury's, and sent it shortly after they announced their merger with Asda.

******

Dear Sainsburys

I am sure that you are currently being overwhelmed with part-time snobs given the proposed merger with Asda, with a flurry of complaints from wannabe Waitrose shoppers that have suddenly just found their passion for ethical consumption, and whose complaint has nothing at all to do with the fact that Asda attracts shoppers from the lower classes.

All I care about is food quality.  I am happy to grant you my personal approval for the merger, but please keep your quality at the current levels.

If the quality drops to Asda's level - I will shop elsewhere.

Gosh, that was all a bit serious, wasn't it?  Did you miss me?  It's been a while since I've e-mailed, but I do still love you.  Even if you are about to marry someone else.

Though I do have one of those annoying married-couple questions.  Well, 4 actually.

Firstly, for my delivery in January (yeah, back when it wasn't that cold), I had ordered a pack of your excellent fruit-flavoured yoghurts.  I was delivered yoghurt, vanilla and toffee yoghurts instead - as a substitution but I sadly didn't check it.  What on earth would possess someone to think banana is a similar replacement for mango and apricot?  Or worse, toffee as a replacement for peach?!  Surely a different fruit-based yoghurt would make more sense?

Then for my delivery in February, I had some smoked fish but it had to be eaten that day - and my delivery was at something like 9/10pm.

Something similar in March, with pork tenderloin that had to be eaten the same day.

And this month, I ordered two jars of strawberry converse, but one is actually raspberry.  I don't mind raspberry - but you should know that strawberry is kind of different.  Similar to ordering a bacon and egg sandwich and receiving an egg sandwich.  Good - but not quite all there.  A bit like me on a Monday morning.

Toodlepip
James

******

Dear James

Thank you for taking the time to get in contact with us at Sainsbury's

Currently with the merger there are no plans for us to lower the quality or the standard of any deliveries or shops done with Sainsbury's, the two separate supermarkets will be operating as they usually do now.

If you ever experience any of the issues that you've mentioned on future orders such as short dated items, incorrect items or poor substitutions please let us know and we would be more than happy to arrange a refund for you.

Thank you again for taking the time to get in contact with us and we hope your enjoy your day.

Kind regards

******

Hi xxxx

How about my past issues that I detailed below (previous e-mail attached)?

Kind regards
James

******

[several days later]

Dear xxxx

Is the ignoring of the issues that I originally mentioned part of the new customer service experience that I should expect post-merger?

Regards
James

******

Dear James

thank you for taking the time to get in contact with us at Sainsbury's.

With the points detailed on your email, I've made sure to forward them through to the store to ensure management there is aware of these issues and so they can take steps to prevent them from happening again in future.

The substituted yoghurt's in January, these will have been picked out by the picking system that the drivers and pickers use in store when a product is out of stock, the system itself makes the decision on what is available in store to replace out of stock items with, depending on the stock which is available, the pickers aren't allowed to deviate from the choice that the system makes.

The short dated products, I've reported this to the store to let them know that they have been letting customers down with the short date on products, this allows them to order in a wider range of stock for the coming weeks to avoid such short date products being sent out.

If you could get back in contact with us and let us know if the strawberry converse was marked down as a substitution or if it was just an incorrect item send out, once we know this we would be more than happy to take a further look into this for you.

We would also recommend letting us know of these issues on a case by case basis to allow us to notify the store and sort out any refunds which may be due.

Thank you again for taking the time to get in contact with us and we hop you enjoy your day. 

Kind regards

******

Hi xxxx

Normally I would e-mail straight away, however I have been exceptionally busy this year.

As far as I can remember, there was no substitution listed for the raspberry jam.  I still haven't eaten any of it, and I have run out of strawberry jam.  I have plenty of gravy granules for which I am very happy to use on my toast instead of strawberry jam.

Do I need to e-mail in separately now for each of the issues which was in my complaint?

Kind regards

James

******

Dear James

Thank you for taking the time to get in contact with us at Sainsbury's

I do apologise that this raspberry jam was incorrectly sent out, to cover you for  it I'm sending you out an evoucher for £1.25 to be taken off a future online shop, the voucher code is xxxx-xxxx-xxxx and it's valid for two years so no rush to get it used up.

It's always recommended to email or call us whenever these issues happen ASAP to allow us to have it fed back to the store, but we do understand that this isn't always possible due to work and such and would be more than happy to assist once you let us know.

Thank you again for taking the time to get in contact with us and we hope you enjoy your day.

Kind regards

******

Dear xxxx

Thank you for refunding the mistaken product from the most recent order.

Does this mean that I still need to open separate complaints for previously extremely short-dated products that I outlined in my original e-mail over a week ago?

Kind regards

James

******

Dear James

Thank you for taking the time to email Sainsbury's, and sorry for the delay in replying to your email.

I can understand your concern over your previous emails and the issues you have raised in them. I know I would want to ensure that they had been dealt with correctly, and I am sorry that you have had a number of issues with dates and incorrect items being sent.

We appreciate any and all feedback, as it allows us to know, how we are doing and were we can improve. After checking your account I can see that xxxx has correctly logged all the issues you have raised to report back to the store for you.

As the haddock, pork and yogurts have not been refunded, however, I am happy to refund these for you now. To do so I have sent you an evoucher for £10.00, which also includes a small gesture of goodwill. The evoucher code is xxxx-xxxx-xxxx, and this will be valid for two years allowing you to use it against a future order.

We appreciate you bringing this to our attention, and I hope you have a nice day.

Kind regards

******

The Asda experience has begun.

Tuesday, June 26, 2018

Fat, Fat, Fat

I'm feeling down again and guess what has triggered it?  Being fat.  As always.

Nothing else really gets me down - things can annoy the fuck out of me like cyclists and Brexit, but nothing actually depresses me like the loss of self-esteem that being fat, and getting fatter does.

Earlier this year, I lost, I think 6 or 7kg whilst on my 3 month detox.  I have since put back on 8kg - reaching a new record highest weight, 98.5kg.  Some of it I actually put on before my detox ended with an Easter chocolate binge (2.5kg - because I didn't lose weight from doing some exercise and got pissed off), then most of what I lost in 3 months I had put back on within 1 month.

The usual suspects are about to say, "do some exercise".

I accept that this is a good idea, and I am not against getting on my bike - I managed to ride 2km the other week which I was pretty proud of, once I got over the psychological challenge of imaginary people taking the piss out of a fat, ugly bloke on a bike.

However, I very rarely have any time.  I'm home by 730pm on a work day.  That leaves me 2 hours to have dinner and do any tasks that I need to do - there simply is not time Monday to Friday to do any exercise.  And I'm shattered by time I get home anyway.

Then at the weekend, I need to clean my house, do my washing/ironing, any admin, clear e-mails, reply to messages that I didn't have the time to during the week, do some studying/coding, ring my parents, have a roast dinner - and hell maybe I'll have a couple of beers.  Sometimes I go crazy and organise something by the way of a social life.  I often intend on doing some exercise, but I tend to run out of time.

This weekend was the perfect example, I was going to ride my bike, hell maybe try and go 2.5km this time - push myself, but instead I spent hours trying to improve my AngularJS knowledge, as I feel under pressure to improve this as quick as I can for my job - I need a proper pay rise as I am sick of being nearly 40 years old and on shit wages with little pension and no hope of ever owning my own home.  If I had a pay rise, I could have at least employed a cleaner - and then had more time to do more positive things.  Alas my pay rise request was rejected.

I'm averaging 3,500 calories a day - which is kind of a problem.  But I'm tired, partly because I'm so fat and work/commute such long hours, so I eat more.  And also I binge/comfort eat when I'm depressed about being fat.  I had not far off 2,000 calories by lunch today.

It is all a negative virtuous circle.

Alcohol also makes me more tired, of course.  I'm drinking less than I used to - but still 30-40 units a week. I think my doctor wants me to be drinking 3 -4 units a week.  It is quite a bit less than last year though.

I also have much lower self-esteem than I have had for many years, partly I guess because most people around me are much fitter, much less fat and much better looking than me.  And also have money.  I'm not as social as I used to be, I rarely feel creative inspiration and I'm definitely nowhere near as funny as I (think I) used to be. 

It may be easy for you to say "do some exercise" or "sort it out".  I see fat people and think exactly the same, forgetting how fat I am.  But it really fucking isn't easy.  I try all kinds of ways of incentivising myself to lose weight but I just ignore them most of the time nowadays, as I'm simply trying to keep myself going in the short-term.

Only 3 things have proven to have worked for me losing weight:

  1. Going clubbing every weekend
  2. Being unemployed
  3. Detox
The latter is the only feasible and desirable option in the current stage of my life.  I'm slowly starting to feel that I may need to employ another detox.  Though not until England have been knocked out of the World Cup.

Other solutions could include working from home occasionally (unlikely), changing job to one with more normal hours (ballache and risky), moving house nearer work (total ballache and risky) or finding a hot woman that I want to impress and hence lose weight (dream on...).

However, being so fat does affect my self-esteem in general, makes me question myself as to whether I want to spend time with people, apply for new jobs - well, everything I do or think about doing.  And don't even get started about dating - I don't even go on Tinder now in case I get a match as I'm too fat to meet anyone anyway.  I actually look like I have boobs when I'm sat on the tube - not to mention 8 chins.
 
 
The rest of my life I'm reasonably happy with, though everything is open to improvement.  My weight is just consistent failure and it makes me sad.

I'm off to go buy some sausage rolls and a chocolate muffin.

Sunday, June 03, 2018

James Went To Madrid

Gosh was it really 2 weeks ago?  Erm...gosh was it really 4 weeks ago?  That is assuming I actually finish this post tonight.  5 weeks...OK 6 weeks ago.  Definitely finishing it this time.

Can I actually remember any of Madrid?  Oh yeah, I went with my family.

The Why

My father suggested a family holiday a while back, in celebration of his retirement.  I think I was probably 16, maybe 17 when I last went on holiday with my family, and I stated that I would never again go on holiday with my family.

Well, I've gone back on quite a few things that I said when I was young.  I may not have been the source of genius and wisdom that I am now.

My Dad's initial suggestion was Florence, but I was a bit hesitant as I've done Italy so much (I've since been told by several people that I really do have to go to Florence) and wanted to try going to different countries.

Like, erm, Spain.

I'm not quite sure how we settled on Madrid - I don't think I suggested it, maybe I did, but I've long wanted to go there...at least since they renamed a square after Margaret Thatcher.

The Journey

Myself and my sister flew from Harrod's airport, also known as Heathrow Terminal 5 with its array of super-expensive shops that common folk like me cannot even afford to step inside.

Curiously our flight wasn't listed on the boards, though we were assured that the flight was on, just a little delayed.  So we settled down for a beer and a £10 sausage sandwich.  Yes £10 for a fucking sausage sandwich, I shit you not.  Though it came with a free cup of tea.  I don't drink tea.

Our flight still didn't display, but we eventually worked out that it was listed to fly 30 minutes later with a different airline and slightly different flight number, but at the expected time.  Cue a slight rush.

And an upgrade - we had booked with British Airways (or so I thought) but flew with Iberia, on a proper long-haul jumbo with super-comfortable seats, loads of space - and the best thing - €3.00 beers.

The Apartment

We were staying in an Airbnb.  Quite impressed that my parents were comfortable on not only Airbnb but also using Uber.  I booked the Airbnb.  Myself and my sister booked the Ubers.

The apartment itself was just a decently respectable place - albeit no plug for the sink.  Drama.

However it had a little sun-trap of a patio which was just beautiful to sit outside in.

The Start

We just looked for somewhere near our apartment to grab a bite to eat, and the small bars nearby were closed - it was mid-afternoon.

But we found this cheap and tacky locals place, sat in the sunshine and had some beer, and the world's largest chorizo sandwich.  I was relaxed.  I was happy.


The City

I didn't know what to expect as I was far too busy in the run-up to do any research at all.

What I found was a really busy city - lots of traffic for sure!  Everywhere there were lots of people, lots going on - people were excited.

Of course we were in some of the most tourist-central zones and it was not short of tourists, especially in the squares.  We also found ourselves there on Madrid marathon weekend, Spanish Cup Final weekend, and a fairly sizeable protest about justice.  It was so busy.


Which I love.  I love Spain anyway, but there was just such a good vibe, a real buzz about the place.

The Weather

We of course went to Madrid when it was much hotter back in England - at times we had warm sunshine, but not always.  On the Saturday, when we had our guided tour of Madrid, it was decidedly chilly - I was in Spain, and I was cold.  Yes, I was wearing shorts.


The Tour

Easily one of the highlights of the holiday was having a guided tour of Madrid.  Having done one in Sevilla, I now don't think that I'll ever go anywhere and not have a guided tour - and the one I semi-randomly selected, as there were almost as many tours as tourists, was brilliant.

Our guide imparted lots of history - especially with regards the previous kings of Spain, he was funny, with great historical facts and unusual anecdotes - a really well-designed tour.

I really felt like I got to know Madrid, and Spain itself.

The Taste Of Hell

On Sunday we went to this small version of hell, which was thousands of market stalls and millions of people.  Like a large version of Blackpool market - punctuated by a scattering of hot Spanish women.  Rosa - why the hell did you recommend that to me?!  What did I say to upset you?!!


The Food

Food was a bit hit and miss.  I'm starting to think that maybe I don't like tapas as much as I thought.  Though on the first night we went to an excellent tapas place - guided by my personal Spanish tour guide.  The last night too, I had an awesome steak - and a real, proper restaurant experience.  I moan so often about the 12.5% service charge in London just for bringing my meal...this place was the definition of how to serve customers.  The steak itself was excellent, but it was all the extras that really made the experience.


At other places though, we had some distinctly average tapas.  And I had a disappointing meal one night too - for some reason I chose mini-burgers, and I don't normally do burgers.  The bread was stale and I wasn't amused.


The People

One of the reasons I love Spain so much is the people.  I remember when I went to Ibiza in 2004, DJ Mag had printed an Ibiza special issue, with an article "what annoys you most about Ibiza".  Someone had said, "the fucking Spanish".  I spent a fair amount of time watching someone go through 3 pallets worth of magazines, cutting the offending corner of said page out.  He finished by the end of our holiday - I gave him a little round of applause.

I, of course, love Spanish women.  I can listen to them roll their r's all day and night.  But in general, I just love the passion and the friendliness of Spanish people - their excitement and lust for life.


One of my dearest friends happened to have moved to Madrid, and she introduced me to lots of her friends, who were all such nice and interesting people - proper well-rounded people that had stories to tell, yet were just genuinely lovely people.  And spoke English to me - I felt so humbled.

The Return?

Madrid was the kind of place, like London, where I could visit repeatedly.  I just enjoyed the vibe and the feel of the place.  There isn't masses of things that you have to do, like say London or Paris, it is more just a place to go and enjoy life.  I could even live in Madrid - albeit not in July and August.

Of course, having a close friend there means there is extra reason to go visit - alas, I am not very good at visiting my friends...mainly due to financial constraints.  I'm sure I'll get that pay rise one year.

And yes, I might even go on a family holiday again one time.

Next up - Vienna

Friday, May 25, 2018

Calmness Has Returned

I was having a bit of a strop last week - eating loads of shit food, drinking too much wine and being a bit miserable and grumpy.  It happens.  I'm not one of those people that can pretend to be 100% happy all the time, as much as I do appreciate life.  Most of the time, I'm at least content - but I'm pretty demanding upon myself and life - I have high expectations.

Though at the core of it was some unhappiness at work.  It was a crap week, a tough week - I was feeling a bit displaced but mostly feeling underpaid and overworked.

That hasn't changed.  My days are 13+ hours long from getting up to getting home.  I am still paid exactly the same as I started, when taking into account inflation, enforced pension payments and a small pay rise.  I should be earning much more as a developer even with just one year's experience.  Yes I know that I could withdraw from my pension, but as I received a statement from one of my previous company pensions suggesting that at my current rate I will get a pension of £30.51 a year, I probably shouldn't.

However this week I've felt a sense of calmness return - though at the same time a sense of rabbit in headlights syndrome.

I've moved from coding in languages/frameworks that I'm comfortable in, to coding in a framework, AngularJS, that I know fuck all about.  Yes I've done courses on it, but I don't remember any of it.  This is my first time using it, and I stare at it pretty much like a virgin states at a vagina.

It's great on one hand, as I was starting to scratch around for work, and needed a big project.

But it panicked me when I realised that I didn't have a clue what I was doing.

Yesterday and especially this afternoon, things started to come together - I could see how things were organised, and what I had to do to get things to work.  Baby steps, but it is exciting to be grasping new technology...albeit AngularJS is seen as an old framework now, and nobody would use it for a new project.  It's new to me - and proves that I can adapt to new frameworks.

I also have a new colleague who is super quick (I must stop comparing myself to him), and knows AngularJS really well...I am already learning a lot from him.

Which overall means that I am much calmer.  My "fuck this job" attitude...well it wasn't quite that, but I was on the verge of at least having a strop...hell I even responded to a recruiter's e-mail...though I said the role sounds great but no thanks.  The role did sound great too.  Like...perfect.

So I might be underpaid, and the days far too long, the commute tough on my well-being and working in a basement being horrid - with the added threat of the odd evening of customer service.

But I feel calmer, it feels right again.  There is purpose.

Most days I ask myself, have I progressed in my career goals?  And recently the answer was tending to be no.  This week it is emphatically yes.  I know I am there to do a job for Lovespace, and I think I have done a very good job so far - for a junior.  But I must be selfish too, I must develop as a developer.  And I am now developing again.

Like most people, I am now looking forward to 3 days off work (assuming nothing goes wrong on the website...bank holidays have a habit of causing problems).

Nothing special is planned, other than life.

Saturday I'm going to watch the Champions League final.  In theory it should be a great game - you can get better odds on 0-0 than 3-2.  Maybe I might go to the Spanish festival of queuing beforehand that I went to last year, if I can find anyone willing to accompany me.

Sunday I'm just going for a roast.  Going to meet a fellow blogger, which should be interesting.

And Monday maybe go out for something to eat.

I'm keeping loose plans as there is good thunderstorm potential, and if one is on the way, I'd like to be able to head somewhere with a good view.  Maybe Alexandra Palace, but they have a festival on.

And then the usual cleaning yadda yadda.  Oh if only I had had my pay rise that I desired and could afford a cleaner.  Hoping to start making a website for my weather forecasting page - Facebook proofing, if you will.

I'm getting boring now, aren't I?


Be done with you.

If you've bothered to read my latest ramblings I wish you a great weekend.  You know where I am if you are bored and you are not a twatt.  Rectum.

Wednesday, May 16, 2018

Do I Still Enjoy Living In London?

It's only Wednesday evening and I've already ditched the vaguely less unhealthy diet (ie less than 3,000 calories a day), and opened a bottle of red wine.  Actually it was already opened - I'm finishing it off.

I am questioning things at the moment.  Particularly in terms of where I work and where I live.

Why do I live in Harrow?  Am I still happy in my job?  Is the commute worth it?  At what point do I get fed up of being on junior pay?  Am I still a junior developer?  Should I start looking for another job?  Should I move closer to work?  Is living on my own worth it?  Do I actually still enjoy living in London?  Am I black?

I knew the deal from the off - moving to London for a new career wasn't going to be easy.  I knew I'd be much poorer.  I knew it would be hard work.

Yet as I get older, fatter and even less fit, doing the longest working days of my life with the longest ever commute is taking its toll.  I'm often tired, often resorting to Red Bull, chocolate, sausage sandwiches - just whatever I can to survive and make it through the day.

Once I get home, I have 2 hours before it is time to go to bed - 20 minutes to chill out and read, then maybe put TalkSport on or something for 20 minutes, then I'm normally ready to sleep.

There is no time to enjoy London.  There are all kinds of events at the office, all kinds of things I'd like to do - evening classes in Spanish, evening coding practice events - meeting other developers, finding new friends.  Having a fucking beer in the evening sun.


But I know if I don't get my 8 hours sleep, I am not as on the ball the next day - and I really need to be in my job.  I cannot do my job properly at even 80% - my old job as a credit controller I could turn up still fucked off my face having not slept and still turn in a decent day's work, as I didn't have to think.

So my dream of moving to London so I could do all these cool things in the evening isn't turning out to plan.  Not that I can afford them even if I had the time.

I have proven myself as a web developer, yet there is no sign of a decent pay rise.  I know I can get £5-10k more elsewhere - I regularly receive e-mails from recruiters and department managers requesting I interview for roles for £10k more, that I am experienced enough for.  I have actually started thinking about the e-mails I receive rather than responding with pages of GDPR compliance law.

In fact, I am actually regretting saying "no thanks" to one last week.  Maybe I am only thinking that as it has been a particularly difficult and miserable week for the whole tech team, but I do feel that I am edging closer towards the door.  The low pay, combined with all the bullshit like 4 hours of unpaid customer service a month, plus having more responsibility than most junior developers (at least from what I read online) is making me question my situation.

At what point does having a good boss and being able to wear shorts stop outweighing the feeling of being underpaid?

Also living where I do takes up a lot of my time.  2.5 hours commuting each day if it runs to clockwork.  Which is a big if - though it has been better recently.

Not only that, but living by myself means I have to look after a whole house - one of the reasons I wanted a pay rise was so I could afford a cleaner once a month, so I could then study more.  Plus the amount of time I spend washing up without a dishwasher.

But what if I move house to near work then I realise that my current disposition against my job isn't temporary?

The thing that most pisses me off is my belly.  But I don't have time for exercise and I'm often too tired to eat healthily - which is a negative virtuous circle.  And I know I have to do something about this.  I really do have to take this seriously - but I simply don't have the energy to do so.

So I don't enjoy Monday to Friday in London any more.  Long gone are the days where I get excited to get on the underground in the morning.  I'm closer to being arrested for biting someone that spends 2 seconds at the ticket barrier trying to find their Oyster card.

Saturdays I then tend to have to clean the house.

Sundays are the best day of the week - I have my roast dinner adventure.

And then it is back to Monday.

Don't get me wrong - I know a lot of people feel like this, and a lot of people have much more difficult lives.  But I worry that I am working so much that I am not getting time to enjoy my life.  I moved to London to fulfil a dream.

Yet it is just proving as difficult as other periods of my life, albeit just a very different type of difficult.

It is still preferable to Bracknell.

There are solutions.  Lots of potential solutions.  I best go to bed - it is approaching 10pm.  I didn't answer the question, did I?

Saturday, May 12, 2018

Complaint: Sainsburys Cucumber

Dear Sir/Madam

I still have not worked out the point of cucumber.

It tastes of nothing.  It seems to be just water.  It is utterly pointless.

Yet I add it to my salad.  Why?  I have no idea.  Just one of the many pointless things I do in my life, like writing letters of complaint over something worth about 55p in the vague hope that I am making someone smile somewhere with my vague attempts at humour.

Anyway, I had a cucumber bought from my local Sainsbury's store the other day.  Other week, actually, I've been busy.

The sell-buy date was 19th August, if I recall correctly, but several days in advance if this, it turned totally loathsome, as if the bottom half of the cucumber had started sharing Britain First posts on it's newsfeed.

Yet the top half remained decent and I kept eating it - how long had the bottom half turned minging for (RIP Jade Goody) whilst I was still eating it?  I dread to think.

So yes, I have spent more than 55p of my time writing to you, and more than 55p of your time in reading and hopefully responding to my beautiful drivel, about a cucumber worth 55p that I still ate half of.

Though as dull and pointless as cucumbers may be, it is quite shocking just how disgusting they become when they go off.  Like proper Hitler-style.

Bye

ps When are you fixing your yoghurt pots?


******

Dear James

Thanks for your email. I'm sorry that the cucumber you got was so offensive. I struggle finding the point of cucumber myself, so I Googled it.

Apparently cucumber is a widely cultivated plant in the gourd family, Cucurbitaceae.

There is 10 main amazing health benefits to cucumbers but due to limited Internet access, I don't actually know what these are.

I do know they shouldn't be horrible on one end, so I've reported the poor quality through to our supplier and also added 110 points onto your Nectar account.

​This is to cover the cost of the dodgy cucumber, with extra, so you can pick up a perfect one on us, next time you're in.

Your points will show in your account and be available for you to spend in the next 72 hours.

Thank you again for taking the time to get in touch. I hope that this has been helpful and we see you in store soon!
Kind regards

Saturday, May 05, 2018

My Favourite Foreign Cities

I wanted to create a list of my favourite cities.

I appreciate that it isn't easy to put them into context - those that I have visited most recently are most likely to be fresh in the memory and hold fond memories closer to hand.

Also I have visited the cities with different people and for different reasons - some cities I got to know much better than others.

24. Rome

I was only there for a short weekend, and with a couple (the female of which I rather fancied) so maybe this was never going to feature too highly - I also found the city rude and way too expensive.  This was before the days of Trip Advisor so it is highly unlikely that I have seen the best of Rome - and it hasn't seen the best of me.

23. Amsterdam

This was just a day-trip, and we spent it in the Red Light district.  It just felt overly seedy, too touristy and vaguely sinister in places.  Smoking weed probably didn't help.  There is, of course, much more to Amsterdam but I didn't see it, hence it is low down in my list.

22. Brussels


A recent trip on the wonderful Eurostar, but Brussels is a damn boring city.  Excellent for beer, but not an awful lot to do apart from that.

21. Venice

Another over-rated city, absolutely packed-full of tourists.  Plus it rained when I went, and I had very little money so I couldn't afford to go into the attractions.  Very pretty, and I don't doubt many people love it for good reason - but it was just too cliche and obvious for me.

20. Zakopane

A cute town in the mountains of south Poland.  Awesome sausages and very cheap drinks prices - I had a lot of fun the first night and then was ill.

19. Bologna

I quite liked Bolonga.  It seemed an under-rated Italian city with plenty of culture and history - I did it on the same trip as Venice and didn't have much money to spend, but found it enjoyable, if not a must-visit.

18. Bratislava


I'd booked a trip here just before I was made unemployed, so another holiday on a budget.  And it was -4'C - constantly.  We tried to find cheap/free things to do but the main conclusion was to drink cheap beer.

17. Dublin

Only there for 36 hours (awake all of them...oops), Dublin has a lot of energy and is definitely a drinking city.  We saw no culture - we were not there for that.  I even managed a few Tinder swipes - and boy people liked my mullet.

16. Maastrict

A random Ryanair flight in my early 20's and where I discovered Leffe beer - my life changed at that point.  I don't remember an awful lot about it, except drinking beer and remarking that everything was closed on the Sunday.

15. Stuttgart


This was back in the days when I used to enter competitions in my spare time - and I won a holiday to Stuttgart.  It was absolutely freezing cold, but had a great bar scene, good nightlife, excellent Bratwurst - a very functional German city.  And a huge Christmas market - if you like that kind of thing when it is -4'C by day.

14. Bucharest


My first visit to eastern Europe was interesting.  You could see just how poor some people were, yet it was clearly becoming quite modern too - though with many a dilapidated building.  Some amazing nightclubs - the centre of modern minimal techno, we had good food, good cheap wine - spent some time in a really nice park.  It is similar to visiting any western European city - but you know you are in eastern Europe.  Hot women too.

13. Paris

I've been to Paris so many times, probably more than any other city on the list.  It does have a certain pomposity and rudeness in places, matching the obvious tourist areas.  Yet there is far more to it than that, similar to London - stepping away from the main tourist areas is key.  I may have had my share of ultra-rude waitresses but I've also met loads of great people there too, and been to some damn cool parties.  I'd go again, but I've got far too many places that I have never been to - and far too little money.

12. Zurich


I was there for the Zurich Street Parade last year.  32 trucks full of nutcases dancing to a wide variety of dance music.  So much fun.  Probably would be really boring outside of then, it is very expensive too, and maybe doesn't justify being halfway in the list.  But hey.  It's my list.

11. Tirano


I was really touched by this little town in the Italian mountains - and the picturesque scenery.  I'd probably never visit again, and was ripped off for dinner, but it just felt really good being there.

10. Frankfurt


A load of us went here to go to Cocoon nightclub - what an awesome experience that was.  This was just such a fun weekend - one of my best weekends ever.  Was the city actually that good?  Well, I really like Germany and thought it had a good combination of surprise and impressiveness.  Doubtless it would not be so high in the list were it not such an awesome weekend.  Had my best Bratwurst ever here too.

9. Delft

We only spent one night here, but it is a super-cute town in the Netherlands - the people were really friendly, and we had a personal guided tour of the town.  Great beer again, too.

8. Milan


I enjoyed Milan more than I expected - I had this impression in my head that it would be of pompous, uber-stylish Milanese, though they were probably on holiday.  Great pizza, I discovered Gustav Klimt here, and the city itself seems to have more going on than the obvious, similar to Paris and London with some really interesting districts to explore for cultural events.

7. Lisbon

The first beer I had here cost 62p.  There is a theme here, isn't there?  I like places with cheap beer.  Believe it or not, there is nowhere in Scandinavia in this list.  Lisbon also had a hell of a lot of charm too - quite a beautiful city, with a gorgeous castle - we had some nice food - though also one really shit meal, like, truly shit.  I'd go back for sure.

6. Den Haag

I wouldn't have considered going to the capital of Holland - but I had won a competition to go on holiday there (I used to spend hours every week entering them when I was really poor).  Instantly I loved the feel of the place - a modern European city, lots of wide open space - one of the first things that struck me was the sheer volume of bicycles.  Wish the holiday had been in summer so we could have gone to the beach to...yes Den Haag has a beach.  Great city.

5. Sevilla


I went by myself here and really enjoyed it - I am sure that I would have truly loved it with others.  Gorgeous weather despite being the beginning of November, cheap beer, some very good tapas and a load of hot Spanish women to stare at.  Also where I discovered "free" tours...managed 3 nights on a strict budget too.  The city itself was just beautiful, I loved getting lost in all the tiny roads.

4. Madrid


The bigger the city the better.  And the more Spanish the city, the better too.  I just loved the vibe in Madrid, I loved the busyness - there was so much to do.  We had a great guided tour of the city and found out so much about the history of Spain.  Had an awesome steak dinner, some good tapas, and went to some really nice bars.  Plus sunshine.  Oh yeah and hot Spanish women.  I have a feeling I will be going back again - not in July or August though.

3. Barcelona

I was far too young to appreciate Barcelona properly, just being in my early 20's.  We stayed in a proper rough area, with crack dealers and prostitutes outside our hotel all day and night.  Yet in the 24 hours that I was there (I went just to buy a load of duty-free cigarettes to sell), I just loved the vibe and more than that, for the first time I discovered that buildings are beautiful - not just functional.  It taught me to appreciate architecture and was a more important trip for my future being than I expected.  I need to go back.

2. Ibiza Town


Were this a large city then it would probably be number 1.  I love Ibiza - the whole island, but I'm talking cities here.  The historic centre is so beautiful, the vibe (that word again) is captivating, I've had some amazing food here - in fact, all of the best tapas that I have ever eaten has been on this island.  I feel at home here.  I wish I could live there.

1. Berlin

What can I say about Berlin?  It is a magical place.  So, so much history.  So many brilliant parties.  I've been 3 times (I think?!) - once was for the Love Parade back in 2014, 1.4m people dancing to techno...it was life-changing.  Berlin is such a cool city - so much history that relates to me.  I love Germany.  I love Germans.  I really should go back as I haven't experienced it anywhere near as much as I want to.  Out of everywhere I have been - Berlin is my favourite city by some way.

Saturday, April 28, 2018

Investing For The Future

I've always thought of myself as someone that can spot trends, and as such have long been keen to try investing.

The only reason I didn't before was a lack of capital.  When you get charged like £12 to buy shares, then you cannot really be investing £100.

My Easynet redundancy money had been sitting in my account, and I had managed not to spend it during my subsequent period of unemployment.  We are only talking 4 figures - nothing crazy - though that is a lot to me.  My, erm, life savings.

And then last January, I read in The Economist about a chip-maker called Infineon Technologies, that was trying to develop the next generation of computer chips, hoping to re-establish or even better Moore's Law.  They were £16 a share back then but I was unemployed, and didn't dare.


In September, I bought some at £21 a share.  They quickly went up to £23 a share, so I bought more - I put most of my savings in them.  They then rose to £25.50 quickly - easy money I thought, though they were volatile, and I could easily gain £300 one day, lose £300 the next.

Alas over Christmas, they went down substantially - though I was still breaking even.  Then in January they rallied, back up to £25.50 on my birthday - I thought about selling and taking the profit, it was around £600 - I knew how volatile they had become.

And then they plummeted.  From 10% gain to 10% loss in a few weeks.  Fuckity - and I couldn't even blame Brexit.

I had bought some shares in another company, Valeo, that produce parts for self-driving cars.  Their share price also plummeted to around 12% down at the same time.

This is despite both companies delivering healthy revenues and really good profits.  From looking into it further, it is the weakness of the dollar that is causing the problem with their respective share prices (they are both European companies that export lots).  How was I to know?  Clearly professional investors didn't know either, otherwise they wouldn't have sold when their profits were announced.

I have concluded that I have bought at the peak of the market.  Half of me wants to get out before I lose more, but the other half wants to stick, because I do believe in the company's potential - Infineon at least.

It is a lesson learnt.  But not at all off-putting - I have considered buying shares in both Norweigan and Nvidia earlier this year (not enough money), which have respectively jumped 40% and 20% since I considered them.  I have also considered buying shared in Facebook and Tencent which have remained broadly flat since I considered.  So I am not overly dumb - just not in control of all the information.

I've also got quite into crowd-funded investments, but just doing small £100 investments.

So far I have invested in a company called Movem, which are a passporting system for renting - something I've long wished for, a Chinese food delivery company called Zing Zing - and the company I work for, Lovespace.

This weekend, I'm considering investing in The Five Points Brewery Company, who seem increasingly on-point and there is definitely money in good beer, and Own The Look, who are apparently the next ASOS but their clothes seem too expensive to me and occasionally a bit out-there - certain for mass-consumption, but what do I know, I'm a man.  Any women reading want to tell me what they think, I'd be grateful.

What would Donald Trump do?

Anyway, I'm enjoying it, despite losing - it isn't money I cannot afford to lose, and even if you had invested in the stock market at previous peaks, you still would make more money than any other common investment.

Wednesday, April 04, 2018

Crappy Little Day

Well that was a crappy little day.

I woke up late, and tired.  Drinking Red Bull and eating shit food from the off.

I've said it before, but being fat is the one thing guaranteed to make me miserable, and putting on weight when eating healthy and doing some exercise like I did at the weekend has triggered me off on a run of eating lots of shit - approx 4,000 calories a day.  As opposed to 1,500 a day last week when I was happy...or a least content.

So, of course I've put even more weight on and am even more pissed off - 3kg since Sunday.  There is no reversing this any time soon either.  I'm stuck in a bad pattern and it will take a few days to start reversing it.

I just about made it through the day despite being my frustration bubbling under the surface...I did nearly snap at someone at work which would have been terribly unfair of me...then I snapped on the way home with another fucking Metropolitan line delay.

So I bought some wine.

And then I burnt my dinner.  So I cooked twice as many potatoes to make up for it, and to make myself fatter.  Plus had a load of chocolate and will have some more.

And then I had yet more problems trying to set up this website that I am making for someone...who's hosting company is just fucking useless.  But is so frustrating me.  I've wasted hours just trying to install WordPress on a server...it should take 5 minutes.  And this is over the course of two weeks.  I just want to get it finished so I can get the remaining invoice paid.  Not that I am going to be able to spend and enjoy the money as my shares are down.  Way down.

On my birthday they were £500 up.  Now I'm £600 down.  Most of it due to Donald fucking Trump.  Maybe they'll go back up - they have done before, but they've never been this far down and market sentiment seems bad.  The economy really doesn't look rosy.

I will need to recoup my losses somehow, so it may mean having to have a budget of £100 one month, just eat carrots and stuff like that.  No roast dinners.  I am going to have to start cancelling plans soon.  Bang goes the idea of going on holiday.  Not that I have anyone to go with anyway...though I'm kind of used to spending time by myself...I barely even spoke to anyone all Easter weekend.  I spoke to my parents on Friday, but the only other people I spoke to all weekend offered me a receipt.

Also I am fed up of working my arse off and still struggling.  I appreciate that I am not the only one.  I didn't relax properly all weekend as I was worried about the website for the company I work for, given that we've had problems in the week before.  I was technically on call - though escaped until late evening on Monday without having to do anything but testing.

Maybe I need to find some new friends.  But I don't have any time to spend with them anyway, as I need to spend my weekends working to make enough money.  And I don't even bother trying with Tinder any more.

And then I'm nearly 40.  I have no house - never will own a house.  No girlfriend, no wife, no kids, very little pension.  I've barely seen any of the world.

I don't expect sympathy - that would piss me off.  I appreciate that millions, if not billions of people across the world have things harder than me but that just pisses me off more because why can I not be happier?  Why am I not a source of joy?  People used to remark about how happy I was - granted some of them lived in Bracknell.  I don't get that any more.  I don't seem to laugh very often either.

I probably won't sleep well tonight now, and I am not happy about my standard of English throughout this blog post.  It barely flows, the paragraphs are so simple in construction, though I guess it gets to my hidden raw frustrations and emotions more.

Or maybe it is just half a bottle of red wine talking.

There's also a small chance that I may have fucked my liver up and will never be able to drink again.  I cannot see that being the case but it worries me.  As I don't enjoy life enough without alcohol to give it up permanently.  I'm probably worrying about nothing here, but hey.

At the end of the day, to make the English fucking worse, I need to sort my financial situation out.  I feel significantly underpaid, and cannot keep working the longest hours I ever have, plus longest commute that I've ever had, at the lowest wage I've had in 10 years, whilst having to do work on the side at the weekend, and pretending that London is amazing even though I never have the time or money to do anything.  I'm fat, ugly, lonely and skint, I'm fed up of these short but increasingly frequent miserable bouts.  It all kind of swims around in the same dis-virtuous circles, as now I'll be tired tomorrow and repeat the same circle of eating shit food, drinking Red Bull and feeling crap, put more weight on and be more pissed off.  At some point that will break, I'll sort myself out then realise I'm skint and be miserable, then at some point start eating loads of shit again.

I was hoping to have a holiday in June but I guess I'll just be repaying the money I lost on my stupid fucking investment.

At least I'm having a pie tomorrow night.

It seems like I'm always writing about being miserable, but a quick look at my recent posts suggests that isn't the case.  Though I don't actually post everything I write, believe it or not.

I'll post something more cheerful next time.  Sorry.

Tuesday, April 03, 2018

Detox Is Over

So it finishes.  3 months without alcohol.  Finished already.

I almost feel a little sad about it.  It's like the end of a holiday.  I expected to jump up and down in excitement about the upcoming retoxification, but nah.  I feel very nonplussed about it.

My 3 month detox was on doctor's advice.  There is nothing wrong with my liver per se, but it needed a reduction of the fat content otherwise there was a good chance that there would become a problem.

I've had my blood test today and now await the results.  Hopefully the doctor will say "party on", or words to that effect.  Though the other realistic possibility will be that he says that it hasn't improved as much as he expected and I need another 3 months off...I cannot see that being the case but worth being mentally prepared for.

Going out and not drinking isn't particularly easy, especially in the evening or when there is loud music. For a Sunday roast, which seems to be the majority of my socialising now, I'm not that bothered.  Sure it is nice to have a glass of red with a nice roast, but I can take it or leave it.

I'm also not bothered about having a drink at the end of the working week - I was always quite happy just to go home.  A few years ago I had to have a drink on a Friday.  A few years before that I had to be fucked off my face as soon as humanly possible come the end of the working week (or quite often the Thursday night as I just couldn't wait).

Which shows that I have gone from being pretty needy of alcohol some years ago, to not that bothered now.  At least in terms of need.

But I miss the feeling.  I miss the taste - a good pint of beer tastes so much better than a pint of apple juice, no matter how refreshing apple juice can be on occasion...like after a really heavy session.

Even more than that, I missed sausage rolls.  And bacon sandwiches.  And chorizo...I could labour the point but I think you understand.  I was also advised to cut down red meat, if possible.  Which I did - bar roast dinners.  And boy, the amount of times, especially at first, when I craved a sausage roll.

Believe it or not, I lost some weight.  Around 6kg from my peak in the new year.  I was aiming for 9kg, but I guess that was quite ambitious.

I did a lot of admin.  Sorting out music, going through piles of paperwork, clearing up old e-mails, fixing things on my blogs and websites that have been on my to-do list for over a year.

I saved money.  Well, I paid off my overspending from December, paid for a holiday that I've agreed to go on but wouldn't have been able to afford otherwise, and bought a new phone outright.

I also got my first full-on website client, and produced a website for him.  Just waiting for his hosting company to pull their fingers out of their backside and fix a technical issue with my client's account and it will be live.

Shit got done these last 3 months.

I was almost exactly as happy.  I keep a count of my happiness rating every day, and averaged 5.003571 for March this year compared to 4.992857 for March last year (when I was drinking).

And I have been told that I look brighter.  I was hoping that I'd feel 21 again, but alas, I don't.  I still get tired at times, especially if I have been consuming caffeine.

So, as it is my first post-detox evening so what am I drinking?

Summer fruits squash.  As normal.

I had a sausage roll for lunch to celebrate, just a cheap Sainsburys one and I cannot say it was that good.  I would have enjoyed a salad more.


And now I have just cooked myself some pork fillet in a BBQ sauce.  It wasn't that special - I overcooked the pork.  I am particularly looking forward to a bacon and egg sandwich, but that can wait until the weekend.

Alcohol can wait too.  I did consider buying some beer for tonight, but I've got loads on at work at the moment, and could do without an unnecessary fuzzy head.

Don't worry, I haven't become a Jehovah's Witness or anything.  I have booked myself a table for a celebratory pie at Piebury Corner.  They serve beer.  Thursday evening after work - you can come if you want.

Normal service then resumes.  Pending doctor's further advice.

And my taking notice of it.

I might do this 3 month detox again one year.  It was alright.