Back in the saddle (which is still lonely since the horse died) again

On Wednesday I got back to Newcastle after spending the Christmas period with friends and family away from the computer.
Had a couple of days with Ruth and Robb, their garden still looking fantastic, good food, good drink and the watching of DVDs was the order of the day.
Then on to Mum and Dad’s, sleeping on a couple of quilts on the living room floor, cooking occasionally, watching more TV than I had in the past year, wrapping presents, buying presents, wrapping more presents, helping out where I could, and starting to read The Lord of the Rings again. It was a pretty good Christmas, but my old problems wormed their way in and stopped things from getting to be proper good.

Thank you to everybody who left Christmas wish comments in my previous entry.

Now I’m back in Newcastle. Wait, I said that.

It’s New Year’s Eve, and I have no idea what I’ll be doing this evening. There’s a couple of phone calls I’ll be making, and I’ll see what happens.

2004 has been a long year. I think it must have been that extra day in February.
Review of the Year

Christmas Quiz…

A Christmas Carol
You are ‘Christmas Time is Here, by Golly!’, by Tom
Lehrer. Hmm, you really don’t like Christmas,
do you? From the moment they start playing
carols in the shops in October to the
appearance of the first Easter Eggs in the
shops on New Years Eve, the rampant hypocrisy
of the Christmas spirit sets your teeth on
edge. You know just how many family fights
start over Christmas dinner, how many people
are injured in the Boxing Day sales, and how
few people actually find Christmas even
remotely merry. You liked Scrooge far better
before those ghosts got to him, and you are
only doing this quiz because you are bored at
work and anything is better than listening to
everyone else discuss their Christmas shopping.
Still, it is two days off work, which does
count for something… Enjoy the break.

What Christmas Carol are you?
brought to you by Quizilla

The Fall

And you find yourself dropped to your knees in the dust.
The dirt looks so inviting, roll around and get comfortable and sleep a while under the blanket of dirt.
Those alluring pools of poison the wise man warned you of, shimmer welcomingly. Sleep first, then crawl and roll to the nearest sinful oasis, drink deeply, and die in comfort.


And for the longest time you just kneel in the dust, unable to move, tears rolling down your face, screaming at the unfairness of it all.
Inviting, roll around, sleep, blanket.
Allure, wisdom, shimmer, drink deep, comfort.


And you find that the pain passes with time, that you can lift one foot into an upright position, no more than that, it’s all you can do to not fall over back into the dust.
Sleep, blanket.
Drink, comfort,


And soon, you can crouch, balance on both feet, rock back and forth and all you can see around you:


And you rise to your feet, straighten up, brush yourself down and take your first tentative step toward freedom.

I got up earlier than usual this morning. It had the desired effect of letting me take things at a more relaxed pace and thus not start the day in a terrible panicky rush which would leave me on edge for the rest of the day. Oh no, that’s right – it’ll just leave me tired and sleepy all day instead. Oh no, that’s just how I normally am anyway, so on the whole, this getting up early lark has a lot to recommend it.
Anyway, that isn’t the reason I’m writing this entry, merely to set up the idea that I was up and about earlier than usual this morning. I left the house and looked up along the street and immediately wished I had my camera with me – a pale blue sky was fading into a beautiful pink and the moon, full a couple of days past, hung there right in the centre of my field of vision. Far below, the terrace roof tops disappeared into a slightly cloudy horizon. It was one of those views that helps make you feel glad to be alive.
That’s why I worte this entry.
(Of course the being up early gave me time to write it.)


On October 27th I made a payment of £20 onto my Barclaycard at the City Centre (or Byker, I’m not entirely sure) branch of Barclays. The credit slip said to allow three days for payment to clear. A week later I made a purchase which would have brought the card almost to its limit. I have a tiny credit limit so repayments are generally less than £10/month.

Today, almost a month later, I received a bill demanding immediate payment of £64. It went to explain that I had made no payment the previous month, thus incurring a charge of £20. Because, at this stage, I was now over my limit, there was a further charge of £20 for exceeding the limit. Then interest on top of that.
So, to recap:
£20 for the twenty I’d already paid,
£20 for not paying the twenty I’d already payed,
£20 because not paying the twenty I’d payed left me over my credit limit (not to mention the further twenty they charged me for it).
Oh and a threat to suspend my card if payment wasn’t made within the usual number of days.

I rang them up, greatly disturbed – I could remember making the payment, but – my mental faculties not being exactly at their usual stirling best – wrongly assumed that I must have been mistaken and confused the previous month’s payment. They assured me that the last payment they had received from me was on September 30th. I made a huge payment from my bank account.

Just to set my mind at ease I then dug through my hastily thrown together box of papers which acts as a makeshift filing cabinet. There, nestled in the centre of the box was a receipt from the bank dated 27th October 2004 for a payment of £20 onto my card. Another phone call was in order. Without so much as an apology the operator grudgingly agreed to credit my account with a refund for both charges and a credit of £20 until they could trace my payment. She maintained that no further refunds would be forthcoming – it was clearly my fault for using one of the advertised payment methods and they could accept no liability because they advertised other ways to pay.

Hang on a minute!

It’s my fault that staff employed by the bank that runs the fucking credit card lost the details of my payment?
I’m liable because I should have used another of the payment methods as well, presumably?
Despite there being nothing in the “how to pay” details that if their staff fucked up I was still liable?

Eminently sensible.


This entry has been brought to you by somebody with very little chance of switching service providers due to an embarassed financial situation.

An (almost) entirely true story

I dough-nutted out last night.

Saw a box of mini chocolate dough-nuts just sitting on that supermarket shelf.
They looked at me pleadingly:
“Rescue us from this dread place!”
I carried them away, away in a bag
– Past the checkout
(there was a worrying moment when the assistant pointed an infra-red gun at the box, but it passed).
Past the security guy
(security guys are just one step away from police-men and you know how they treat dough-nuts).
And past the giant double doors.
“Freedom!” I could hear them cheering,

To their horror,
I didn’t release them into the vast wild plains where other doughnuts dwell,
But ate them all up!
Gobble, gobble, gobble!

Good News…

New job.
New training.
New (potential) church small group.
New leaps of progress in my fight against depression.
New (fairly new, anyway) singleness.*

I’ve come so far.
I’ve fought hard nearly every step of the way.
I’ve made so much progress.

Bad News