Journal – May-June 2011

Time for my next set of journal entries, looking back at another busy period, with plenty of socialising and a barn dance, dealing with the last financial affairs from Dad’s estate, the UK local elections, the death of Osama Bin Laden and various other things. So I hope you enjoy!

Saturday May 7, 2011

What a busy week it’s been. Certainly in terms of the news anyway. As if the Royal Wedding last week wasn’t enough, the media have had 2 major events to deal with this week.

On Monday, we woke up to the news that Osama Bin Laden is dead. US special forces, after years of intensive CIA intelligence gathering, stormed a compound in Pakistan, landing inside it via helicopter. They headed straight for the room where Osama was staying and killed him. Others also died, and it’s believed a few of his wives and children are now in Pakistani custody. The US have said that they didn’t tell the Pakistan government they were doing the operation, in case they jeopardised it, which shows the distrust they must have of the regime there. Although one wonders if they had someone on the inside anyway, given how sure they were of Osama’s location, and the compound wasn’t far from Pakistan’s own authorities either.

Bin Laden was buried at sea, presumably so that nobody would try to find him or erect a shrine to him on his burial site. A few people have complained that he didn’t get a proper trial, but that would never have happened given who he was, and we already knew everything he was responsible for. It was always going to be a mission to kill him, and the world’s a better place without him. We still need to be very much alert of course, as supporters of Osama and terrorism in general may well try to get revenge. But it’s still good that he’s gone.

Then on Thursday we had the local elections, so results were coming in all day on Friday. Because we had 3 elections at once down here in Torbay (Councillors, Mayor and the Alternative Vote Referendum), it was decided that we would delay the count until the next day, as verifying everything was taking a long time, and it was important to ensure the count was accurate.

Turnout was pretty good relative to last time – 41% compared to about 29%. Nick Bye, standing as independent, was voted out as Mayor. He got over 9,000 votes, but was beaten by Conservative Gordon Oliver, who had 12,000. The Conservatives still hold our council – the Lib Dems were never going to be able to take it, given the state things are in for them. Indeed, they lost over 650 councillors overall. Labour gained 800, and the Conservatives gained some too. It was thought the Tories might suffer as well because of the decisions made by the coalition government, but it seems the Lib Dems have acted as a form of human shield and taken all the flak.

The Lib Dems also lost out in the referendum for the Alternative Voting system (as compared to First Past The Post, which we currently use). It was another big thing the Lib Dems wanted, so the Tories let them have the referendum. Although even then it wasn’t exactly the voting system the Lib Dems wanted either, it was more a step towards what they wanted. In any case, however, the overwhelming result is that about 70% of people – over 10 million voters – said a decisive no to adopting a different voting system, compared to less than 5 million who voted yes. So that idea’s unlikely to come to the table again any time soon. Torbay as a whole voted No to it. So it was all a clear message to the Lib Dems that people don’t trust them any more, and I highly doubt they’ll get anywhere near power in the next election. Entering into a coalition was never a good idea for them. Perhaps not for the Conservatives either, but they’re coming out of it much better.

Work’s been getting back to normal again now the elections are over, so we’ve been able to focus properly on other jobs for a change. So there’s not much to report there. Nor at home really, although we have won a few more Premium Bond prizes this month (2 for me and 1 for mum, all for £25). Next Saturday afternoon I’m going up to Exeter to see AB & ST there – we’re going to go to another of those ‘barn dance’ things with their Christian group like we did last year. It’ll be a good chance to see ST again, for the first time this year.

Friday May 20, 2011

Well, the barn dance last Saturday was good. Not a lot to report from it really, hence I didn’t write in here when I got back, but it was a nice evening. We had a hog roast roll and some cakes to eat, and I had some cider to drink. We didn’t look around lots of the stalls or get up for the dancing this time around though. They had a musical choir group called Voiceworx there who sang a few songs, everything from Chattanooga Choo Choo to Mr Blue Sky, and a song called Price Tag by Jessie J that they did twice as it seemed popular with people. There was also a group of young girls going around pretending to be a human fruit machine – you had to pull one girl’s arm down, and then all 4 of them picked a bit of fruit out of the bags they were holding. If they all matched, you got a bit of chocolate. As there were 4 of us sitting around the table at the time (me, ST, AB and a lady called Kate we were talking to), we had 4 goes, and managed to get a bar to share between us.

We didn’t stay out too late this time – we were taken there and back by a guy called Adam – so ST, AB & I went to The Globe for a drink. It meant we avoided Eurovision as well – although AB and I did watch the last section of the voting, and the UK managed to get 100 points with Blue’s performance, which was a considerable improvement over previous years. We still didn’t win (nor did Jedward representing Ireland, thankfully) – it was Azerbaijan who won it – but we did alright. Then, on Sunday, the three of us went to George’s Meeting House, where we had roast dinners and puddings as part of their Sunday meal deal, so that was a nice way to finish the weekend. ST & AB are both staying at AB’s Dad’s place next weekend, which is the Bank Holiday weekend, so I’ll be meeting up with them again then as well.

At home, it’s been a good month for Mum and I money-wise, as we’ve now received a nice payment from the solicitor for Dad’s estate. He’s still waiting to hear if we’re due any tax rebates from HMRC, but if we do get anything it won’t be much. So we’ve put the money into our savings account. And in addition to the Premium Bond wins we got earlier this month, National Savings & Investments have written to us about a couple of wins from December that we’d forgotten to deposit with everything else going on, so we’ve sent a form back for them to reissue them. And Tesco have alerted us to a £5 shopping voucher we seemed to overlook in February 2010. So it feels like various people want to give us money this month, which isn’t a bad thing!

And as for work, elections are out of the way now, except for the one by-election resulting from the Mayoral and Councillor results, so everything’s ticking along as normal.

I’ve spoken to SM this evening as well, he’s doing alright. He’s been to see a Queen tribute group with his cousin, after winning the tickets in a radio competition. It was alright by all accounts, although they couldn’t see much from as far back in the crowd as they were. The lead singer obviously was never going to match Freddie, but the guitarist was good apparently, and they played all the classic hits, so it sounds like it was fun. He’s booked a flight over to Bournemouth for a week in June to meet a few people, so he’s going to see if he can get an appointment for an eye checkup in Exeter, as they haven’t contacted him yet. If he does get one, that means he’ll come down to Exeter for a few days as well. He hasn’t booked his flight home yet, so he can be flexible about that.

Sunday May 29, 2011

5 months of the year nearly over already. I’ve just worked out that it’s 6 months tomorrow since I was last able to have a conversation with Dad in hospital, after which he was always unresponsive when Mum and I visited him. So that’s quite a hard fact to realise.

But this has still been a good month for Mum and I. As well as the inheritance money, I’ve now had a total of 3 letters from HMRC in the space of a week, telling me that Dad paid too much tax and is due for rebates! The biggest one is over £650, which is more than we’d expected. Mum has said that Dad did think he was paying too much tax, and had tried to ring up about it. Evidently now that they’ve been asked to look into it since his death, they’ve been able to do all the proper calculations. All the money will go to the solicitor, who will then pass it on to us.

So with all that and our Premium Bond wins, it’s just the lottery that’s let us down money-wise this month. Not that we’re complaining. When we add everything together that we have, we’ve got a very comfortable sum of money, which will put us in good stead for our move to London. Which we’re still talking about, and still set on doing, once we’ve finished sorting the house out. All of Dad’s clothes have gone now – Mum’s just getting rid of a few of her old things, and a few of my old clothes have gone too.

I met AB & ST yesterday afternoon, as they’re both staying with AB’s Dad. So I met them there, where I saw her Dad, and we had a quick chat about what Mum and I were planning and how we were getting on. Then AB, ST and I went to the Noah’s Ark pub, and had a couple of drinks while watching the Stevenage v Torquay play-off football final on their large screen TV. We even managed to get the comfy sofa in front of the TV, which is quite hard to do in a pub sometimes. Torquay lost 1-0, although it wasn’t for the want of trying on their part. Shame for them, but at least they don’t drop a division – it was to see who went up, not down. After that we popped into Morrisons for AB to get a few bits, then she and ST went back to her Dad’s place while I went home.

I was back in time for tea and to watch the latest episode of Doctor Who. Which had yet another major twist at the end of the story, with Amy’s pregnancy really coming to a head. The baby’s head, in fact, as she was about to give birth. Next week’s mid-series finale looks as if it will be very good indeed, answering a few questions and no doubt raising more in the process.

It’s a pity they’re splitting the season in half, but it has been a very strong season so far I think. It’s very rewarding to watch all the episodes when you see all the plot strands coming together nearer the end. The storyline has certainly been very ambitious, but it’s been very entertaining and demands your attention. No doubt when I rewatch the episodes back on DVD, knowing how the season as a whole will end, many things will make much more sense, and some things that seemed insignificant before will be more noticeable.

There’s also a 2-part documentary about Queen tonight and tomorrow on BBC2, called Days Of Our Lives, which should be cool.

It’s also Bank Holiday tomorrow, so I get a nice 3-day weekend. And then I’m using up the remaining 3 days from last year’s holiday card next Thursday and Friday and the following Monday. Our manager’s allowing us to use up our remaining days a bit later than usual, because we’d had to be in so much for the elections. Plus I lost 3 weeks at the beginning of the year after Dad died of course, so that’s a good excuse too. So I’ll only have a 2-day week this coming week. There will still be a few things to do – the by-election for the councillor’s seat, that our new Mayor had to give up, is one important thing, particularly for doing poll cards and ballot papers. The cards have been done, so it’s just the ballot papers that will need to be focused on. But anyway, it’ll be nice to have a few extra days at home.

Saturday June 18, 2011

It’s been a while since I last wrote in here, but then it’s been a relatively quiet month, with not an awful lot to report until this week. That’s because SM’s come down, so I’m staying with him and AB for a long weekend, as I’ve got Monday off work too.

Today AB was actually going down to Paignton for her Dad’s birthday party. So she gave SM the spare keys to her flat in Exeter, and I met him there. The two of us went into town for our traditional KFC, and then got scratchcards (on which he won £5). Then we went back to AB’s flat and watched a bit of TV (we found Blockbusters on Challenge, which was a nice bit of nostalgia – plus there was nothing else on!). We then went across to The Globe, where we had some Thatchers Gold cider and played 6 games of pool (all of which he lost, but it was still good fun). We then returned to AB’s flat and watched an episode of The Big Bang Theory – which I’d never seen before, but SM recommended it. And it wasn’t bad to be fair, I might have to try another episode or two if I catch them on E4 or Channel 4.

After that, we went down to the fish & chip shop to get our tea, and saw the film V For Vendetta on BBC3 while eating back at AB’s flat. I hadn’t seen it before, and it was alright. Bit weird, but not in a bad way. Something different to fill a couple of hours. And we enjoyed the episodes of Family Guy and Mock The Week that we watched after. AB had said I could sleep in her bed for the night as she wasn’t there, so I did, and that was reasonably comfortable.

Sunday June 19, 2011

Today SM & I met up with ST in the morning and got a bus down to Paignton to meet AB there about midday. AB had been watching her Dad’s partner run the half-marathon, and we got to say a quick hello to AB’s Dad, as well as her Aunt and Uncle from New Zealand who had come over for her Dad’s party. AB went back with them to her Dad’s place to pick up a few things, so SM, ST & I went too a nearby pub for a quick drink. Then, when we met up with AB again, the four of us got a bus to Torquay, where AB had arranged for us to meet SR, who we worked out none of us had seen in at least 13 years, and she’s doing alright. She’s in a motorised wheelchair and has a guide dog, and she seems happy. She has a female partner too, although she didn’t come along to the meeting. We all had lunch at the Green Ginger pub near Debenhams, which was nice – even if we did see a person dressed in a full parrot costume who came in at one point, which was a bit strange!

Once we’d finished and R had left, AB, ST, SM & I got the bus back to Exeter. We relaxed in AB’s flat for a bit, then AB & ST went off to church, so SM & I had ham sandwiches for tea and watched TV (Only Fools And Horses mainly) until AB got back. She took a little bit longer than we’d expected, as ST apparently came down with a stomach bug and had to be taken home. We then went to a pub in town for a bit, and we put some music on the jukebox while we were in there. Then we returned to the flat shortly before midnight, which was enough for the three of us for the day. I slept on the floor in the lounge in my sleeping bag this time as usual, now that AB was back in her own bed. But I’m used to that, and I’ll be back in my own bed tomorrow night, thankfully.

Monday June 20, 2011

Today SM, AB & I went to Pizza Hut and then bowling, which was good. AB could only play 2 games of the unlimited set we bought, as she then had to go off for a doctor’s appointment, so SM & I had one more game, taking turns at bowling for AB. We didn’t really try hard to score well for her, yet SM, trying a two-handed, underarm, slow approach managed to get a strike! We went back to AB’s flat then, by which time she was already back. I stayed there for about half an hour before heading off to catch my train home. And that was that, it was a nice couple of days away all in all.

Back at home, Mum and I are doing fine. We won two £25 prizes each in the Premium Bonds this month, and the solicitor has written to say that we’ll be getting a final payment of over £1,000 for tax repayments we’re due for Dad. He’s also enclosed the account for Dad’s estate and our final invoice to pay. Once we’ve signed and returned the approval form and paid the bill, the file will be closed, and that’ll be another major thing dealt with. Considering it cost less than we thought, and took less than 6 months to sort out, as well as the money we’ve been given from Dad’s estate of course, we feel we’ve done very well there.

Author: Glen

Love London, love a laugh, love life. Visually impaired blogger, culture vulture & accessibility advocate, with aniridia & nystagmus, posting about my experiences & adventures.

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