The one in which I say I told you so…

On 24 June 2016 at 6 am my radio alarm went off with the BBC news headlines which of course was “The United Kingdom has voted to leave the European Union.” I groaned and turned it off. Somewhere in that morning, I remember being at college in class that day, I said to my course colleagues “This’ll be 10 years of chaos”.

I felt that because I didn’t think there was a consistent view of actually what leaving meant. I also felt the short/medium long term economic cost was too great and the risk too high. There is no other developed nation outside an established trading block in the world, we might be trailblazing pathfinding example to the rest of the world but I just would rather we not take the risk with my country and my children’s future.

Whatever that day I had expected Mr Cameron to trigger Article 50 and us to leave in June 2018. That didn’t happen.

I had expected the majority of that decade to be outside the EU that is looking increasingly unlikely.

We must look like an embarrassing shambles to the rest of the world.

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Moving on…

My daughter received her MSc certificate the other week. She bought two matching frames to put that and her BSc in. She’s clearly proud of her achievements. She had them balanced on the window sill…. A recipe for disaster! She’s away working this week and next on residential summer schools. So I got the drill out along with a level etc and mounted them above the desk in her room where so much studying was done in pursuit of those.

I don’t think they’ll be there but a few months as her boyfriend and her are gearing up to get their own place before Christmas if they can.

My son was down at the weekend with his fiancée telling us about the progress on the plans for their wedding which will soon be less than a year away.

Mrs F is constantly looking at bungalows near us. We’d love to downsize but it’s daft. 2 bed bungalows near us cost more than our family 4 bed semi can sell for. Why now I’ve retired would I want to put more capital into a property or take out a mortgage, assuming I’d even be able to get one. If the government ever asked me how to fix the housing crisis I’d say. Focus on helping older couples downsize…. Build more bungalows! If you look in our little road alone increasingly it is just parents in family homes with the family gone with two or more bedrooms unoccupied full time. Given the UK housing crisis esp in the south east where I live this is frankly dumb.

So will we be moving on? If we saw a bargain somewhere then possibly but in the current market it’s highly unlikely. One thing for me is that our house has always been our home from the moment we moved in in 1992. If we ever do move on all those memories will stay with me.

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In Reverse

At a meeting this week I heard the story of a member who’s recently started to come regularly having moved to the area.

Their story was like many about how whilst drinking they were unemployable, had no money, lost their licence etc etc. Then in the story they got recovery and the better jobs, good income, nice vehicles etc came to them and they are grateful to have them.

Recently as I hear stories like this I ponder how my own story is basically the reverse to this. When I started my recovery I was in a ridiculously well paid job, had brand new cars on the drive etc. Over the last 15 years I’ve left that job and taken a couple of others both times having to take substantial pay cuts. Then finally being made redundant last year. I can’t drive currently because of my menieres and we only have my wife’s car which was second hand when we bought it earlier this year.

I have no resentment over this. My good paid high powered job was only possible as it was fuelled by my alcohol bolstered bullshit. The move down responsibility and pay was truly a proper reflection of where I probably ought to be in the grand scheme. Not having a car has taught me how selfish I was when I had one. How often I drove to meetings just me in the car not helping others get there. It has taught me in reverse how grateful I ought to have been when back in the day I thought a 6 figure salary, new cars, etc were my entitlement. I’ll never get it back now but my gratitude for what I do have is massively higher today.

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Health Update

So the very good news is that I’m currently enjoying the longest consecutive period without a severe vertigo attack in 2 years. Yes folks. I’ve not had a serious attack now since March. I can’t say I’ve been symptom free, far from it but it’s been much better lately. To the point that now I have my confidence back to go about on my own. I’m even getting a handle on using our local (very expensive) bus service. A few months ago thinking of catching a bus there and back to a dentist appointment would have been a total no no. But last week I did just that.

I still have some days where I’m “at sea”, unbalanced, tinnitus annoying high, head pressure, sensitive to noise etc. But as I say no big world spinning laying on the floor attacks.

To cap off this improvement I managed somehow to pinch a nerve in my back! Agony and then the leg that side is numb, tingly etc below the knee. After about three weeks I got an appointment with a physiotherapist who my neighbour highly recommended and got a recommendation from a friend who also has balance issues like me. Having had an assessment the plan is to attack the leg problems first then look at things to help with the balance too. I have to say immediately the leg feels better which is good news.

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It’s official

After a fair amount of procrastination I’ve bowed to the obvious and inevitable. After totting up all my pensions left lying about in various funds in the City of London I should be financially sort of OK. We’ll at least be able to cover the essentials anyway.

So the paperwork is slowly getting completed and I’ll be officially a pensioner from October.

I don’t know how I feel about it… One part is real happy I’ll not have to face commuting to London again or having to do all the associated “stuff” with a job.

However a friend shared at a meeting the other day, he’s also recently retired, that he now feels a bit of a nobody. I get that for years I’ve been a blah blah or a such and such. These labels have some currency to them. They pin me in society as successful and valuable. I recently called to book a physiotherapy appointment (I’ve a pinched nerve in my back) the receptionist ask for employment. I stuttered over saying “unemployed”. It’s a private practice did I think she thought I’d not be able to pay the £50 for a session? Did suddenly she picture me as a washed up waste of space. I almost went to say “I used to….”. Why?

Something to mull on and work on. Stupid really I’m exactly the same person, OK considerably less disposable income but still me.

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Latest Guitar Build

I normally just have guitar stuff on my other blog but… what the heck.

I filmed some of the process of me assembling a “Partscaster” (a guitar built from bits you assemble) recently.  I’m slowly releasing it on YouTube.

Here are the first 3 of 5 parts.  I’ll post the others here once they are up on YouTube.

Part 1

Part 2

Part 3



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Canadian GP controversy

If you’re into F1 you’ll no doubt be up to speed with the controversy at yesterday’s (9th June 2019) Canadian GP.   If not briefly…   Sebastian Vettel (Ferrari) was leading from the start.  Later in the race his great rival Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes) seemed to have a faster car but overtaking in F1 can be difficult, esp when the best overtaking spot, into a chicane just after a DRS spot (cars following another get a couple of places a lap they can lower some of their rear wing to make their car a bit faster) is after a hairpin which for some reason Vettel repeatedly went through very smoothly whilst Lewis kept on locking up a front tyre, missing the apex or seemingly being much slower round the bend than Vettel (on occasion all three on one lap!)

However Hamilton continued to close lap after lap and was harrying the German driver into making a mistake.  Which he did.  Going into the chicane at turns 3/4 Vettel went off the track and then came back on.  Hamilton was almost alongside him, was this Hamilton’s chance?  In a split second both were heading towards the concrete wall – the Montreal circuit is unforgiving built on a tight island circuit in the middle of a lake, it doesn’t have many run off areas, many corners having solid walls built right up the circuit edge.  Hamilton backed off and Vettel retained the lead.

As it happened in our excited house I said “Oh now that could cause Vettel problems”. Hamilton quickly made a radio comment “That was unsafe”.   I’ve watched motor-racing most of my life since a teenager.  I’ve attended lots of live events and watched all forms on tv.  Now there is a rule that I’m very aware of which in summary states the following.  If you leave the track you have to rejoin SAFELY.  That rule has been there forever – I’ve seen it applied at all levels in the sport.  It is one of safety and also about fairness.  You can’t just drive where you like – you have to drive on the race circuit, and that is defined normally by solid white lines at either side.  If you put all four wheels over that line you’re “off the circuit”.  You can neither “gain an advantage” or “return unsafely” once you’ve done that.  Both will be punished.

So if you watch the incident – You’ll see Vettel skittles back onto the track forcing Lewis to change is line toward the wall and possibly putting him off the circuit too by going too far over the curbs.  Lewis appears to have to back off.

The stewards (learned men all, including always an ex F1 driver) decided that Vettel’s return was unsafe and that it deserved a 5 second penalty – applied to the time at the end of the race.  So Vettel crossed the line first but Hamilton won due to that penalty.  View this and decide.

I hear the comments on this commentary but can’t agree.  If you watch the overhead shot Hamilton is forced “off circuit” and has to break.

There is furore about this “ruining the race” etc.  But …. the rules are the rules, that rule has been around years and years.  The Stewards looked and agreed with me that is was dangerous.  This rule is primarily about safety – I heard commentators say “That’s not the situation that rule should be applied.”  But it’s a rule without anything saying – “but only in this case, or not these cases”.

However what followed was pure farce.  Vettel stopped his car past Parc Ferme – as a podium finisher (despite the penalty he was 2nd) he has to drive to the end of the pitlane near the podium.  He then pushed his car backwards in the pit lane into the scrutineering area.  He then stormed off to the Ferrari offices.  They pursuaded him to return for the podium ceremony (or face additional sanctions).  He did but moved the 1st and 2nd marker boards.

What a petulant show from an adult man.  Whilst many on social media applaud this to me this is more wrong than anything with the penalty.  Act like an adult – have the arguments out of the public eye.

Here’s the thing….

If Vettel had just driven without making any mistakes that took him off the track (like Hamilton did and most other drivers yesterday) then he’d have won a hard fought race and this would never be a thing.  He went off the circuit.  He reentered dangerously in the view of the stewards – who are the judges of fact.  It did possibly rob us of Hamilton trying to overtake as once the penalty was announced he knew he could win without that risk.  But again… them’s the rules.

Some say “Where should he go?”  To me that’s neither here nor there.  Rules for safety are made to make sure you consider your behaviour at all times.  He made a mistake which if he’d been thinking completely maybe he should have avoided isn’t that the point of this rule?  He should have slowed a little into that corner earlier not had the kick and not gone off – then it wouldn’t have mattered.

That’s my position on it – I think the penalty was just and fair.  Vettel lost that race since he made a mistake not because of the stewards, if the mistake hadn’t been made they wouldn’t have been in the equation.

I personally think his actions after the flag – not driving to the right place, pushing his car backwards in pit lane, moving the boards, not being at the first post race interview should all be punished too.  And he’s got previous on that – remember the weighbridge incident last year?


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