Unexpected Sale

I sold my first original yesterday – I was on a Discord server chatting to people and posted a recent sketch I’d done to illustrate to the channel the sort of things I do. This led to an enquiry about sales, so I linked to my RedBubble site, assuming they might find something they liked up there. Instead I got a direct message asking to buy the original sketch.

This was an absolute first. I’ve sold tshirts and some artboard prints through the shop, but a physical artifact? I had to make sure they understood that this was in an ordinary notebook, and posted a picture with my fingers and the rest of the page for scale. This was deemed acceptable, and a price was agreed.

Me, worried?

So I bought a card on the way home to protect the piece of paper, and this morning sent my first physical sale off to its new home by recorded delivery.

I’m somewhat blown away. It’s one thing to hear people admire the things I scribble, but for someone to put their hand in their pocket for something I’ve made – well that’s kicked my imposter syndrome between the legs and no mistake.

I may even have included a free mini addition on the card, mostly because getting me to stop drawing is the hard part…

Friday already?

My bank have made a recent change that I both like and find irritating. They’ve stopped factoring my small agreed overdraft into the display of my available funds. It’s a small thing but I applaud it as a tool for making me have to think before using it.

There’s also an automated text to notify me if I do use it, and offering the carrot of not paying charges etc if I go back into credit by a certain time in the evening. You get the idea.

This morning I was moderately tickled to see I’d gone five pounds in to my overdraft yesterday, and received the expected text, then another text when I didn’t meet the deadline, promising more charges for as long as I was in the overdraft. Then within minutes of that my pay went into the account – and silence has fallen.

Must be a Friday

Creaky Weekend

I’m not entirely sure why, but the base of my spine has been aching all weekend. I first noticed it on Saturday while watching Charleesi fall off her horse. It could be sympathy twinges, or perhaps standing in the snow for an hour while she had her riding lesson has aggravated something, who knows?

Fortunately a combination of a high pain threshold, painkillers, hot water bottles and massage from Lady M has eased things considerably – just in time for another week at the library. As it’s the beginning of a new month too, there will be lots of stock checking and rotation, so here’s hoping I wake up fresh as the proverbial daisy in the morning.

At least the pain in my back hasn’t been as bad as that experienced by a character killed by Gazelle in an early sequence in Kingsman, which Charleesi dragged us out to see last night. If you’ve not seen it yet and you like Moore-era Bond films with their tongue stuck firmly in their cheek, you could do far worse than treating yourself to a viewing. The violence is plentiful, comicbook, and slapstick and everyone seems to have had fun making it. I may never hear Land of Hope and Glory in quite the same way again…

Christmas Preparations

Up to a couple of months ago, I wasn’t certain that we’d really be having a Christmas this year. Like pretty much everyone at the moment, the financial situation has been tenuous at best – and with the efforts to save enough money to pay for the wedding it looked like we would be probably making christmas cards for people and nothing else. Then of course we had a resolution of the PPI complaint and suddenly we were in a position to pay for the wedding in one shot with a few extras, pay off all outstanding debts and buy a few presents for people without going crazy.

Well, I say a few presents – but my living room is now swamped in parcels wrapped up for the various far-flung members of our extended clan, and there’s a few big presents for a couple of people. We’ve done it by basically budgeting for something silly and something at least halfway nice for people, rounded off by ruthlessly exploiting deals on tins of chocolate at the supermarket and money-back offers at the local waterstones which has yielded a few extra book tokens (having not been able to afford books for a couple of years, we’ve spent a good few hundred pounds on books for ourselves and as gifts this month as a reward)

And suddenly – yes, we have a lot less carpet space at the moment – but we seem to have managed to complete all our Christmas Shopping before the end of November. Now to sit back and watch people go nuts trying to work out what they’ve got. I’m going to enjoy this…


A quick Update

So yes, here we are – November and Nanowrimo has begun – my profile page there is http://www.nanowrimo.org/en/participants/ludd72 and should be reflecting the word count as I remember to update and transcribe my pages of notes. I’m only counting what I’ve typed up as opposed to what is scribbled, so the actual running total is somewhat higher.

This week has also seen a significant step forward in my shenanigans with HSBC over missold PPI – having upheld/agreed to follow the court decisions and told me as such back at the end of August, I was supposed to have been told by the end of September what they would be offering as a settlement. That date came and went and after giving them a week or two extra I started making myself known at the local branch on a regular basis and being politely irritated about the lack of information.

After being told that my name seemed to have dropped off the distribution list without explanation and expressing a little mild disbelief at the failure of their efficient CRM systems I’ve had a call this week offering a new settlement which sounds reasonable and which should pay off the last of the wedding costs – so we’ll see what arrives in the post shortly and make a decision at that point.

And this evening’s fun and games would not be complete without revealing to you that even as I sit here typing, my first wholemeal dough is currently ‘proving’ in the kitchen ahead of its bake. If it works then it should be an intriguing chocolate wholemeal loaf. If it fails then it might be turned into a Dwarven Battle Croisant.

If it works I’ll post the recipe and a picture…

From the Nanowrimo – a short extract posted today:

It has to be word of mouth, I guess, for the most part. Really, it has to be – I don’t really have the budget to advertise, no matter how tax-deductible it is. There’s a regular advert in the local paper, and an entry in the yellow pages and the online equivalents – but there’s only so much I can put in one of those before attracting the attention of either trading standards or the tax man. Craigslist has been a bit of a boon – though its also a source of serious headaches – the very anonymity that is its draw makes for a high signal to noise ratio which can make it extremely frustrating, especially if I don’t recognise a time-waster soon enough.
Quite how this had translated to a semi-regular stream of consultations I never really worked out – I’m still resolutely an outsider but I have useful skills that I’m willing to use. I’m not a charity and I don’t pretend to be anything but mercenary – and perhaps that simplicity appeals. Money is never discussed, but a fair price ends up being paid for results. The poker games down the pub are always fun too – although I don’t play as often as I like. This is a pity as its often at these evenings that the work finds me. In this particular instance I’d been introduced to my client by one of my semi-regular fellow players in one of the breaks in play while we waited for the other tables to finish their games.
I’d heard the basics – the bones of the story if you’ll forgive the somewhat macabre pun under the circumstances. I’d mostly heard it from the professionally scandalised reports in the local news: the desecrated grave, graffiti, damaged headstone and picture of the grieving parents and local gypsy spokesman.
It was being reported as a hate crime: a senseless targeting of the gypsy community by small-minded bigots on a drunken rampage. The family – or families, rather – were not so sure.
The grave itself had been disturbed and that seemed to be too much effort for drunken thugs no matter how drunk or drugged up or otherwise sick in the head. The police pathologist had confirmed that the body was intact – but in the listing of grave contents, the girl’s mother had noted that a locket buried with her was not mentioned.
Distraught, the family had raised it with the investigating officers but no great progress was made from that point. The trail had precious little evidence about who had disturbed the poor girl’s final resting place and more than enough circumstantial evidence to link it to anti-Muslim attacked in nearby Feltham.
Angry as they were, the family might have given up – chalking it up to the system failing them again, were it not for their daughter’s ghost appearing to them at the dinner table.
The ghost part of the story hadn’t been reported of course – as the stranger at the bar told me, they’d thought of asking a local priest but they didn’t much like any of the current bunch:
“Your old man now – he knew what was what – he did good services and people stayed down when we put them in the ground. The new guys though – good enough for the births, weddings and the like but they’d laugh us out the church, or try counselling us…” and here he paused a visibly shuddered at the thought. “No good to that poor girl and her parents though. Can’t ‘counsel’ a girl away – doesn’t work like that, wouldn’t be right if it did either.”
I’d known at that moment where this was going – its never been a part of how I define myself but that damned word of mouth bit tends to embroider what I’ve done sometimes.

A Few Cost Comparisons

Now things are becoming clearer, we’re starting to try and make travel arrangements for the funeral – and I’ve spent most of this afternoon costing up different modes of travel between London and Middlesborough. The candidates so far are; flight, train and car.

My first surprise was that there are no London-based flights to Middlesborough/Durham/Teeside. I could get a connecting flight via Amsterdam that would make the travel times about four hours though… Or I could drive to Southampton and get a flight from there to Teeside for around £400. Ouch.

Or I could get the train – total time about four hours, with 3 changes at Waterloo, King’s Cross and Darlington – for around £200

Or I can drive – about four hours – for the cost of a tank or two of petrol, so let’s say around £100.

Let’s see what travelling by coach costs… I’m not expecting a miracle here… oh, well that seems to be better – £25-£30 – what’s that? a six or seven hour journey – each way?


Thinking I’m Cursed

I’m probably being deeply unfair but it does amuse me that even charities don’t want my time – or at least don’t seem to, given that I’ve heard nothing back in the week since I’ve registered with the volunteer service. I’ll give them until after the weekend and then go direct through the website, see if that’s any more effective.

If nothing else it’ll make an interesting conversation piece when I’m next signing on. In the meantime I’m working through the new set of paperwork from the bank and waiting on a phonecall from the solicitors. The deep joke is that while I was unwell I was financially stable and working – not always to the best of my capacity, but it had worth. Now I’m out the other side, I can’t get work, and am now having to fill out documentation about the illness I just had to stop the bank from beating me with large sticks.

And yet I’m happier than I ever was, even two years ago – must be all this having a stable supportive relationship and being able to look at the benefit of 8 years hard graft with counsellors and psychiatric services.

Funny old world

Lies, Damned Lies and Jobsite Emails

Looking at my inbox this morning, I’m struck by how soullessly cheerful the jobsite email titles are:

  • “You’re in demand by corporate recruiters,[insert your name here]” = if you pay for our premium services, otherwise you can go hang, and even then you’re out of luck if you’re trying to move out of the public sector.
  • “10 new jobs from [insert jobsite name here]” = here’s some jobs we got paid extra to hype even though they bear no resemblance either to your posted skillsets, experience or job search criteria.

and my favourite from a freelancer website I use:

  • “New jobs/projects matching your skills” = no, not really – not even slightly really, but hey, its another opportunity to prostitute yourself more blatantly than if you were working a regular job.

Yes folks, I’m a ray of sunshine this morning. Must be the wait to see which court letter I get first – the one saying I’m free of the old marriage and can pay my last debts, or the one saying the bank wants me declared bankrupt. Funny old world.