Shopping Spree

We had planned to go up to London yesterday and wander round some old haunts but a tube strike paralysed public transport. We took that as our cue to leave well alone for now.

We instead went to Kingston for a bit just to get out of the house. With so many people working from home it meant that the roads were clearer and the shopping centre less busy than usual by early afternoon, and this suited us just fine. Coffee and people watching was the first order of the day.

And then to the shops where I finally gave in and bought some new work clothes to refresh the fading black jeans that have been my workhorse items for years. Some plain tshirts to go with them and my spree was done. Well, aside from buying some books for Lady M as part of our anniversary, but the clothes are the focus. That’s mostly because I have a pretty basic set of clothes that I wear day to day so any big expenditure makes my eyes water.

The odd thing is that clothing is a pretty essential purchase if I want to be part of general society and, oh I don’t know, work for example. This shouldn’t be a big thing, but my anxiety about spending that money has caught me off guard. I shouldn’t be anxious – I’m lucky enough to be employed and have a budget that can easily accommodate it. It’s fair to point out that I’ve easily blown similar amounts in a month on Funko Pops or geeky items, or on gifts for my loved ones. And yet clothing seems to be what has made me twitch.

How very odd. Perhaps it’s a throwback to when I was getting divorced and had to rebuild while also struggling with money. Maybe it’s that clothing items like pairs of jeans are expensive so there’s not a lot of items for what seems to be a lot of money. Either way I’m currently telling myself to get a grip as this wasn’t a frivolous purchase, and it’s not even as if I went for expensive branded goods – M&S own brand is an old standby for me.

I shall look forward to wearing them when Lady M and I go out for a celebratory lunch tomorrow.

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

The Future Is Here

For many people, that phrase usually appears in close proximity to musings about jet packs or flying cars. Occasionally it gets used in conjunction with reviews of 3D printers being used to make food of some description. For me, this weekend, it came with successfully using my Android phone to pay for my groceries in the local supermarket.


Yes, I’m aware that Apple got to market first. This isn’t about hardware or operating system preferences. This is about the memories evoked of playing Shadowrun and Cyberpunk 2020 back in the late eighties and early nineties. Amid all the guns and tech and imagery of sunglasses worn at night was a concept that was almost a throwaway line.

Cash was obsolete, and everyone had tech of some description to wirelessly transfer sums by touching devices. It even had the concept of prepaid throwaway “cred sticks” that weren’t tied to a bank account and were therefore relatively untraceable. Prepaid credit cards ring any bells for anyone?

It’s always stuck with me, with my antennae twitching when Oyster travel cards were introduced. I was interviewed for the job of project managing the introduction of Oyster across all London buses. I remember being told that the elimination of cash from public transport was a high priority. I didn’t get the job, but the statement stuck in my memory.

Fast forward a few years, and you now can’t use cash on London buses, but in addition to Oyster cards you can now use wireless transfer from your visa and debit cards, and now your phones. That strange Cyberpunk prediction is front and centre in millions of people’s lives now.

I’m actually a big enough geek to love the concept, despite everything. Will I be investing in an RFC-blocking phone case? Probably not as there’s not as yet been an issue with the cards in my wallet, but a sensible eye on the news may change that over time.

A Gentle Christmas

We’ve had a quiet Christmas, marred only by the faint sound of slightly hysterical giggling at the truly epic over-catering I’ve done this year.

Our venison haunch roast nearly went wrong on the timings, and perhaps I should have had a quick look up of a recipe on making a red wine reduction before booking a bottle of claret and a pint of chocolate stout half to death… but we rescued the meal with only a minimum of swearing and self recrimination between us.

We had Christmas Day to ourselves this year: the first one post-wedding. It’s still odd to think that this time last year we were focussed entirely on the beginning of March. This year we’re starting to plan for our long-delayed honeymoon. I’ve lost track of the number of people who have asked about it.

We’re still, truth be told, getting used to not having to scrimp and save all the time. After a tight few years, it’s only really starting now to sink in that for the moment we’re reasonably comfortable with t’other half’s job. Now all I have to do is finish this novel and keep submitting the short stories.

But first: we need to finish the whirlwind your of the UK that we’re currently doing. Assuming of course the country doesn’t get washed away in all this rain.

Irregular Posting Strikes Again

I seem to have developed an inability to remember my own passwords of late, and so have been resetting and changing the passphrases that I use on the various websites and services that I use. In general this is a good thing, both in terms of security and in terms of re-evaluating whether I’m actually using said website or service. As a result I’ve also been closing a lot of things down that I don’t need or use any more.

This site is not one of those – though I have been lax in getting round to it of late. Truth be told I’ve been working my backside off on paying work that has been both hard and not actually very well paid at all. While t’other half was in full time work, this wasn’t so much of a problem; but following some management shenanigans she has not been offered an ongoing role and so today is her last day in work.

I’ve managed to secure a part time job locally – pending people being nice in my references – which will go some way towards paying the rent. We also have our honeymoon money set aside as a safety net for a couple of months and whatever small amounts I can make from the paying writing work – so its not all doom and gloom, but its enough to set my teeth on edge a little while we tighten belts 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…


Things I Have Learned Today

1) – according to this study, the myth that men are naturally more aggressive than women seems to be blown out of the water – or at least, in a behavioural study on the disinhibiting factors of deindividualising people – eg getting people to play an aggressive multiplayer game where there are no indicators of anyone else’s identity and therefore they don’t feel that they have to conform to societal expectations – shows that there’s not really much to choose from. On reflection I don’t think this is particularly news to anyone who actually watches and listens to people around them, but interesting to have it looked at from a research point of view – or is that me being passive aggressive?

2) – negotiating with a bank actually seems to be one of those few times when mentioning a history of depression actually helps. I’ve had a very interesting conversation while trying to sort out a final payment on loans and things where I mentioned it in passing and was suddenly fast-tracked to some very helpful people and a total change in approach and willingness to help as opposed to stonewalling.

3) – the spiders outside my flat are somehow still getting bigger. I think they’re combining Voltron-style in the night and planning to build a trap for the robins from next door…