The surprise benefit of being free of bad debt

To not be shackled to yesterdays worries so that we can fully face todays challenges is a beautiful gift.

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I am pragmatic.  I decide to talk about positive things.  I believe we either talk and act ourselves in to or out of a happy life.  However I don’t care whether the glass is half full or half empty.  I know how much water is in the glass, I know what I am working with on any given topic.

So the benefit, or even blessing, of being unshackled by debt during a period of potential financial constraint is a superb comfort and reassurance.

Like everyone, I have income and expenditure.  Thankfully I was blessed with the moxy and ability to get out from under a serious financial burden in the tens of thousands of pounds range and reset the financial accounts to “we don’t have a lot but we’ve paid our taxes for the benefit of the country and what we do have is our own” as we paid down every debt we’d been left with.

When guaranteed income is in jeopardy we start to look closer at the expenditure side of the spreadsheet.  It has been one of the few delights recently that unlike previous times either house or income is at risk, this time I am not carrying a negative financial legacy like an albatross around my neck.

I have to find a way to generate revenue to cover our modest living expenses but I don’t have the worry of paying for things on instalments, I don’t have the worry of credit card debt, I don’t have the worry of consumer spending spread conveniently on an unreasonable monthly payment at an exorbitant APR.  I just have to make sure that enough comes in for Mortgage, utilities and groceries.  That’s it.  That is far less of an ask than carrying the worry of paying for something I bought and used up two years ago.

Being in this fortunate situation brings a degree of peace, a calmer disposition than I would otherwise have had.

It also frees me up to be flexible with regard to the future opportunities I can pursue.  I don’t have to find a position to cover Bills and Debts, I just have to find something to cover Bills and anything else is a bonus.  That is a freedom for which it would be hard to quantify the optimism and relief felt at the moment.

I am the head of my household and the responsibility sits on my shoulders.  Until you’ve been the head of the household you have no idea what so ever how heavily that mantle sits on the shoulders.  It is completely and utterly different to being the 2nd earner.  Head of the household is like being an Adult Plus.  Nobody is going to bail you out, you are it.  The buck stops at your feet.  The responsibility for keeping everyone in your abode alive, sheltered and fed sits with you.  Once you get the hang of it, it starts to sit easier a little but the knowledge in the back of your mind never actually quite goes away.

If I could wish for you one thing, it would be the freedom of being bad debt free.  It is worth the blood, sweat and tears, the overtime, the going without for a while, the humble birthday and holiday presents, the dinners in rather than takeaway or restaurants, the forsaking holidays in the sun or snow to reach the goal of being without that burden.

Bad times come for such are a part of earth life and mortality.  To not be shackled to yesterdays worries so that we can fully face todays challenges is a beautiful gift.

 

Idolatry, Money, Military

The pendulum has swung too far back after the vitriol military experience post-Vietnam.

The levels of hero worship and idolatry from what we are seeing out of the extremely posturing nations is rampant right now.  If you are religious you’ll have heard that one of the Ten Commandments is to have no other Gods before (Him).  It is right up there in the top 5.  It is pretty important.  If you are secular you will have seen in generations past when things became mighty tense when one person or an idea caught hold and a fever infected the nation – often leading to civil or international wars.  People profess to be reasonable and level headed but their narrative and actions betray them, even among my friendship groups.

I am fiscally a conservative (little C), and socially a liberal (little L).  My stance is that drugs harm society and ruin lives, gun owners or users kill people, that if people are of legal age and appropriate age gap they should be able to date and marry.  My stance is also that Business (big B) is good, industry is necessary, someone needs to keep the lights on and the infrastructure needs to be paid for and maintained, that investment is needed in the Arts and in the Sciences, that innovation is crucial to preserve and improve the lifestyle of the inhabitants of this nation.  It is my stance that manners are essential to grease the wheels of civility.

It is my observation that there is a role for emergency services and the Military.  It is my observation that the whole “Thank you for your service” is cringe worthy and dangerous.  It is my observation that people are being placed on a pedestal as great servants of a nation when they are actually in paid employ and chose to do this.  Hero worship is rampant, emergency services and military personnel are deified and just because they wear a uniform are held in highest esteem.  We don’t know who they are, they are, by definition, Uniform.  Unless there is a stand out act of service or courage, they’re just employees.  Many are nice, a few are nasty, but they are paid to do what they do.  That’s not a hero.

The pursuit of someone to worship is filling a void and is acting as a sticking plaster to cover an emotionally grazed knee of a nation.  Accept that the world is a harsh place and both the East, Middle and West are having a hard time with each other and we send our delegates to resolve our conflicts for us.  Military folks don’t deserve special treatment.  They’re pretty regular people who have been taught how to do their job.  Idolising them diminishes them as a person.  The reception for Vietnam Veterans upon repatriation was brutally harsh, it is my stance that perhaps after feeling guilty in hindsight people have let the pendulum swing too far the other way and there it hangs in the air, precarious and fragile.

Don’t get me started on the pursuit of money and how Darwinian the current strain of Capitalism lays.  A nation who is blinded by their rights and unwillingness to stand up to Medical Insurance companies who are actually gouging them and keeping premiums high in pursuit of profit is a sorrowful thing to witness.

In the mean time, someone needs to work, pay a fair level of tax, have access to housing, water, medicine, food and the rule of law.

 

2hrs 15 minutes

I turn over and look at the clock. I turn back and avoid the clock.

2hrs 15 minutes is the average time I’ve been spending in bed in the mornings, awake, trying to gee myself up to be enthusiastic about the day and everything I should have completed the day before which carries over to today and how todays actions are piling up too, compounding the problem.  Waking before the alarm is not something to which I am accustomed.  Laying there staring at the pillow beside me until the very last second is not something I want to make a permanent part of my life.  I sigh.  I turn over and look at the clock.  I turn back and avoid the clock.  I just breathe and try not to think.  I am well slept but weary.  The weariness never abates.  It’ll get better.

Unpalatable Conversations

London had a rough few days and arrests are being made in my home town. There’s a strong narrative in the air.

Tricky, innit.  The desire to be reasonable and civilised while feeling emotional at extremists rampaging through the Capital.

Like half the people I know, I was born in East London but grew up in a town called Barking which is near London.  If London and Essex were one of those circular Venn diagrams it would be the intersection of the two circles.  It is smack bang in the middle of all the troubles at London Bridge and arrests on Saturday 3rd June 2017 and in the days since.

My social media feed and my conversations with friends and family are filled with two narratives, often simultaneous but sometimes polarized.  The conversations flow around “Kill them, hang ’em, bang ’em up, ship ’em back to where they came from” verses “we have to find a way to weed out and deal with the radicals and those who contaminate the conversation”.

My view, I believe the police union representative yesterday during a televised interview who said the conversation around increasing police numbers by 2020 will only bring us back to pre 2010 levels which was just before funding cuts and anyone who says otherwise is lying.

Police are pulling double shifts, hospitals are maxed, much of what is known centres around responding – and they are responding fabulously, hats off – rather than having capacity to get ahead of the problems we are experiencing in society.

When the IRA were bombing London, they had a clear ideology to unite Northern and Southern Ireland and self govern.  That was something whether you agreed or not which was tangible and could be a yes or no answer.

The pickle we face nowadays is supposedly to do with imposing an oppressive ideology upon a free nation or punishing those who live in liberty – and that’s never going to fly.

Have you met people from London, whether native or new?  Have you met people from Barking where many of the arrests are occurring?

Barking bloomed in the 50’s and 60’s as a new neighbourhood for the cleared East London overcrowding and slums.  It was a beautiful town, green, spacious, tremendous infrastructure and industry.  It was almost nirvana.  Since mass overflow immigration in the past 20 years seeping in to the town from Central London, it is starting to look worn and no longer British.  The original locals are not pleased with these negative changes.

The people who populated Barking and Dagenham had just endured the Blitz and survived two back to back world wars.  They’re not soft.  They’re really hard as nails and haven’t had anything against which to fight for quite some time.  They’re funny, humorous, entrepreneurial, hard working, fun loving and family oriented. Unfortunately for those who seek to oppress Londoners, you got the backs up of people who call it home.

So while I can understand the sentiment of the hang ’em high brigade, I’m going to go with supporting our Police officers as they operate within the framework of existing and suitable laws and try and be a voice of “yes, those folks who have separated themselves and wish to cause harm to the population need to be dealt with, but not with such vitriol, not yet” for the next while.

But when the blood is pumping that’s a tricky ask.

The House #1. Winning the right to the matrimonial home in the divorce.

I received an unexpected email from the solicitors office stating that the funds were transferred.  I replied “Oh, that’s nice, any idea of a completion date?” and they said “as far as I am concerned, the house is now yours”.

I went a little pale.  Blood drained from my face.  I felt a little woozy.  Things we’d been hardly daring to hope for over the past 4 years were almost within touching distance.

I enquired after keys.  “Oh, yes, this is an unusual situation with no estate agents who would normally hold keys, I’ll try to track a set down”.

I waited half hour and then went to the solicitors office, it was a Friday evening after all.

Upon arrival I discovered that the contact has gone home for the weekend but that Mr Pollyanna Whyte would make a key available at 5 pm at the property, no sooner, no later, I had to attend in person.

This was not awesome.  Firstly, he was now in my house.  Secondly, we’d had no contact for 4 years, you know, what with the death threats and everything, a woman tends to stop staying in touch when a surprise child beating and wife hurting during the rescue narcissistic personality type (at best – perhaps with added psychopathic tendencies because he’s not really clever enough to be a sociopath) goes off message and starts behaving in an antisocial manner.

I am on the Police National Computer so if I call, they know who it is and send someone even if I cannot verify details so I thought I’d ask if they’d be so kind as to go with me to pick up the keys to prevent a breech of the peace.  Sorry, Nope, sayonara sucker!  Ok.

I considered waiting until the next working day, requiring Mr P to hand in keys to the solicitor and take it from there.  But then I caught my second wind after a little “I’m quite a bit frightened cry” when I’d tried to keep my act together but then a family member was nice on the phone and I had to end the call, and so I put on my big girl knickers and pulled up to the drive at 5pm on the date specified.

No cars were in the drive.

A sticky-note was in the window directing me to the neighbours house for the key.

No conflict.  Phew.

We had the keys.  By we, I mean me and Missy.  We had a home.

Now to find out in what condition the home had been left.

 

 

Prepping: Water outage

I have a slippery landlord.  Very slippery.  Right now, with a cracked cistern in a 1 bath house and no water he is holding us hostage with the invoice to replace a poorly fitted, old and broken WC before they’ll replace and fix and turn the water back on.

For clarity, we officially have no piped water for sanitation, food prep or drinking.

We are impeccable tenants, we maintain the home, we hire window cleaners, we garden, we take in parcels for the neighbours, we pay the inflated rent on time every time.  In the dictionary where it lists “Model Perfect Tenant” there is a picture of me.

The idea that somebody could hold me hostage for water is shocking and despicable.  I have discovered that it takes  more than 30 litres a day to wash your body and to flush and to get one drink each.  30 LITRES!

What the landlord may or may not have been ready for is water storage.  We’re rationing like crazy but Mormons got the water storage thing going on a strong game.

So, who blinks first?  This is about to get interesting.

 

+++++++++++

5PM UPDATE:  We won!!! (so far, anyway)… without continuing to make a fuss the landlord replaced the equipment and turned the water back on while we were at work.  We discovered the great news upon returning home today.  I could hear the office maintenance guy rolling his eyes on the phone yesterday evening (eye rolling and “whatever” attitude is so loud) but all’s well that ends well and the showers and taps are now operational.  They apparently viewed my video this morning chatting about how the plumber had mentioned the cistern was not attached to the wall correctly and there was too much give and play which caused the crack and leak and were a little easier to deal with once their hostility subsided.  Me to them “In the nicest possible terms, we have no sanitation, could you confirm when we will have access to sanitation please?” was apparently a reason to become terse.  We won!!!