2018 Review

Previously if I had spent NYE by myself, I’d be lonely and some shade between melancholic and miserable – this year I’m just tired after a long day at work, and pretty upbeat.

I find myself mostly satisfied with 2018 – it has been an exceptionally fun and enjoyable year, one where I have made progress in some key areas of my life – but also overlooked and lost control of others.

2018 started on the sober side with a 3 month detox that I completed successfully.  It was certainly tricky at times and life was less fun – there were less of those special moments, but I think I was more settled in my mind, I was probably happier – without the usual peaks and troughs and I felt much better in my body.  And I achieved much more than I would have done otherwise.

There is no doubt that alcohol affects both my motivation and performance – in almost every aspect of my life that can be improved, removing alcohol would lead to improvement.  Well, in every aspect except fun, socialising and enjoyment.  And after my detox, in particular, I had a lot of fun.

Starting with 4 holidays.  A trip to Madrid to see my delightful Spanish friend, Rosa, albeit that wasn’t the reason we went – as it was a family holiday – the first for…20 years…I think…to celebrate my Dad’s retirement.  And what a place – I love Spain so much, and to get to visit the capital city and find out more about the history of the country was just utterly wonderful.

And then there was the long weekend in Vienna with my amazing friend, Martin.  Another city that I fell in love with, from the glimpses of the genius of Gustav Klimt’s artwork, to the canal-side shacks that served as a kind of bohemian nightlife.  One seriously awesome – and very underappreciated city.

Croatia.  What can be said about that?  Nothing that I can put in writing, but that was just such an awesomely fun holiday – a techno/disco festival on a little cove in Croatia.  The feelings of being on the dancefloor whilst the occasionally odd but generally brilliant music was played, was just special.  So special.

Not forgetting Budapest too with my wonderful sister and my bestie, Alena.  Maybe I didn’t fall in love with it as much as the other places I visited, but it was so enjoyable, such good food too.  More of a culinary treat than the other holidays…especially Croatia.

The fun continued with day trips to Brighton and Warwick with my fave.  And a trip to Birmingham to watch the test cricket with my Dad – albeit only 1.5 hours of test cricket.

Two awesome weddings – both very different but both ridiculously fun – and stupendously heart-warming.

Despite living in London, I think I spent more time with both my friends and family.  I feel closer to most people in my life than I did a year ago – whether they feel closer to me is of course, another question, especially with the amount that I bang on about Brexit.  And roast dinners.

I did have some really good meals this year too.  Some very good roast dinners, including my favourite so far at The George in The Strand.  Also took my parents to Peckham – their faces when they stepped outside of Peckham Rye station were a sight!  But we had a very nice dinner there, my Dad still enthuses about the fish that he had.  And we know our fish, being from Hull.

It seems like I have done so much this year, despite being on a fairly tight budget.  And I have – there is so much that I have missed out because I should really go onto other topics.  47 roast dinners though.  That ain’t bad is it?  And my blog is slowly getting more popular, more readers, more people thanking me for my advice, more people enjoying the utter bullshit that I spout.  Not to mention two articles in the Londonist.  Any suggestions on how to get more publicity?  Time to beg the socialist tossbags at Vice to do an article on it?

All this fun has had a pretty major downside though.

My weight.  I have put on 15kg since April.  That’s shocking.  I have totally lost control of my eating habits – anything less than 3,000 calories is now a good day.  Yeah I know.  WTF?

I worked out recently (in my head) that I can only lose weight when two of the following are present: time, energy, motivation.  I lost the motivation, and I rarely have the time.  And often I don’t have the energy.  What I was saying earlier about cutting out alcohol being the solution to anything that can be improved?  Alcohol takes my time, it taps my energy and at times, motivation.  I lost 7kg on my 3 month detox last year (albeit put some back on near the end).  People say, “just do some exercise” or “just do things in moderation”.  I don’t have time for exercise and have you ever known me do moderation?  Do you secretly call me James “Moderation” Winfield?

Also I lost a fair chunk of my meagre savings on the stock market, putting paid to my dreams of going to Japan in 2019…well…unless I have some good news soon.

Don’t worry – there are plans to address my shortcomings.  But shortcomings I most certainly have.

I started 2018 with quite a lot of shortcomings as a web developer.  That is the other thing that I focused on this year – I don’t feel that I have achieved all that I could have done, yet I look back and think it is just quite amazing how far I have come – from struggling to do jQuery fixes, to managing fairly major projects from start to end, and most importantly – learning a framework, AngularJS.  I won’t go into too much techie detail, but I was most definitely a junior web developer at the beginning of the year.  I am most definitely much further on now – alas, still paid as a web junior developer.

I accept that I have fucked up in a couple of places this year, and that I still a way from who I want to be.  But mostly, and overall, I am on the right path.  I am so much happier than I used to be – having changed from moaning about air conditioning to moaning about tube trains.  I previously put a lot of effort, and some risk, into changing my life – a huge change in career path, and also a change of city (via Bracknell…shudder).  And it has been so worth it.

I know what I have to do to make 2019 even better.

2018 was the most fun year that I’ve had for some time – and my life hasn’t been short of fun.  I haven’t mentioned the World Cup, the weather, the long, hot summer, the morass of ridiculously attractive women everywhere.  There are so many highlights that I’ve missed out.  But 2018 also had some shortcomings, and some failures on my part.  I don’t want to overblow the downsides – there is far much more to be satisfied and positive about.

So, a pretty damn good year overall.  The power is within me to make 2019 even better.

Thanks to everyone who helped make it such a good year.

Complaint: Metropolitan Line Rant

As I type this now, I must admit that the service has been much better this month on the Metropolitan line – or at least I’ve got lucky in terms of avoiding the signal failures.

However, one particular journey stands out from 2018 which was such a clusterfuck that I needed answers.  Would I get them?

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I guess I should be amused that you are trying to charge me £8.00 for the clusterfuck of a journey on Thursday 4th January, that took nearly 3 times as long as it should have.  Surprised you are not charging me for a season ticket just to really rub salt in the wounds.

So last week I was ill.  I’ve had a cold, I’ve had a comedown and a fairly extreme hangover.  I had already had enough when I got to Moorgate at on Thursday evening at 18:06 – a true centre of confusion.  A train was sat at the platform, doors open, going nowhere – though I couldn’t fit on it anyway.

Nobody announcing what was happening (or wasn’t), after a while some people got off the train, so I got on.  Then after a while, the train driver announced that there was a broken down train between Barbican and Farringdon.  So I got off and pondered my options.

At first I tried to get through the staircase to go to the Northern line – but it wasn’t going anywhere.  So I left the station by the other exit (I guess I mustn’t have swiped out), and ended up walking to Bank station.  Queued to get through the ticket barriers, waited for a tube I could get on, and stood close to a rather stinky woman – though I don’t profess to exhale flowers myself come 6pm.

So the Central line at rush-hour is minging.  Who knew?

Then I had a short journey on the Bakerloo line to Baker Street.  Which was actually quite pleasant – hell I even got a seat.  Albeit opposite someone who was either talking to himself or me – I pretended to be oblivious.

One assumed that seeing as the broken down train was between Barbican and Farringdon, that everything would be fine from Baker Street – perhaps a couple less trains.  But no, the whole service had collapsed.

Some mystery services were appearing on platform 2 despite the fact that the service was apparently suspended Aldgate to Baker Street – one assumes they must have been appearing from some parallel universe.  Not that it was any use to me, as I couldn’t get on any of them.

But there were trains on the two non-through platforms.  Due to leave in 1 minute.  This was one, long, possibly ever-lasting minute as both trains that I attempted to catch from Baker Street simply never went anywhere, despite a consistent promise that they were about to.

Your chaps then started advising people to use the Jubilee Line to Wembley Park – where a normal service was allegedly operating from.

Again, crammed on a tube, it eventually made its way to Wembley Park.  Where I then proceeded to wait forever for a Metropolitan line train due in “1 minute”.

I could go on, but this was the most appalling journey home – yet another service failure from TFL on the Metropolitan line.

So, some questions.  Why did the whole service seem to collapse?  Why are there no contingency plans to ensure a good service on the rest of the line away from the broken train?  Why were tube trains just sat there at Baker Street?  Why were trains perennially leaving in 1 minute?

Then I would respectfully like to ask for some refunds.  At the minimum, I should not be charged both the £8.00 and the £4.70 for the way home.  Any other company would offer reasonable additional compensation for distress, disinformation and delay.

Hoping that I actually get some answers to the service failure from last Thursday – I am sure there are many other severely frustrated passengers who would like an explanation too.

Regards

James Winfield

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Dear James

Thank you for your recent email about your contactless card refund.

I understand you sent in bank details to have a refund for a journey and I appreciate you contacted us.

I`m more than happy to inform you I`ve sent £12.70 to your bank account.

This is a manual bank transfer that can take up to five working days to show on your bank statements.

Further on your question automatic refunds are reversed back to payment cards as there is no human interaction but as this is a manual refund we’re not able to do so.

We highly recommend not sending bank details by email for security purposes. In this case there is nothing to worry about as your bank account number and sort code are just used to pay in but keep it in mind for the future.

I do apologise for the time consuming and I wish you all the best.

Thanks again for contacting us. If there is anything else we can help you with, please reply to this email. Alternatively, you can call us on 0343 222 1234 and we’ll be happy to help you.

Kind regards

xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx
Customer Service Adviser
Transport for London Customer Services

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Of course, no answers. Things like this still happen.

And That Was Christmas 2018

Christmas is over.  Normality is returning.  Sobriety is around the corner.

As usual, I went to Hull to see my parents and some of the extended family, for 5 nights.  About 1 night too many for me, about 360 nights too short for my mum.

It being time with the family, meant that the television was on much of the time – there is only so much I have to say before I start boring myself let alone everyone else (verbally, anyway).  I guess there is something kind of comforting about sitting around together on the off-chance that we can prise my mother away from QVC onto one of the few things we have in common.  Like Hull.

Conveniently, Hull City were on Sky so I didn’t have to find excuses as to why I didn’t want to go to the KC Stadium to watch them (I don’t want to give any money to the bastards who own us), and despite going 1-0 down, we came back to win an entertaining game 3-2.

Topping that, my favourite thing we watched was about Hull, called A Northern Soul.  A documentary about an ordinary working bloke from Hull, one struggling with the realities of life in Hull (and espousing the reasons that I escaped as soon as I could) but one who has a dream.  I won’t ruin it, but it was melancholic, funny and very Hull.  You should watch it.

Oh and we watched an early 90’s film called Point Break.  About surfers who become bank robbers.  You shouldn’t watch it.

Culture in Hull is a major thing, as you will likely understand, so we went to a photography exhibition at the university, about the end of the fishing community in a part of Hull called Hessle Road.  Some of the photos are here for the curious, and my favourite is below:

The other thing apart from Hull that we all have in common as a family, is enjoyment of food.  And roast dinners.

My mother cooked a banging Christmas dinner.  Definitely an 8 out of 10 – the weird frozen parsnips and crappy frozen stuffing balls took the edge off – but perfect roast potatoes, and I mean PERFECT, along with banging gravy (cheers sis) made it an awesome dinner.  Alas my mother still hasn’t got the hang of cooking beef, ie longer is not better.  And I cooked the Boxing Day meal, though I was disappointed with how my braised beef turned out too.

I received some presents too.  I was desperate for socks, and my appetite was sated.

Alas, my grandmother’s idea of good socks isn’t mine.  She asked if I liked them – and you know me, I am pretty rubbish at lying.  So she told me to give them to my Dad, and I said “OK, I’ll do that”.  Cue evil look.  Bless her.

I got a couple of great t-shirts too (well, I love them) and the piece de resistance – my mum knitted me a scarf.  And it’s actually an awesome design, just the kind of thing I would buy.

Envy is not attractive, my friends.

I couldn’t help thinking about those not as lucky as me.  Those without families to spend time with, or those on the streets.  I wish there was some kind of over-arching solution that I could enact, to resolve the difficulties of everyone, alas…there isn’t.  I’ll just have to settle for a donation to charity, and the knowledge that I made the most of the time with my family.  One day I’ll solve all the problems of the world.  One day…

As much as I was ready to go back to London by Boxing Day, craving the comforts of a double bed and a shower that is more than a pointless dribble – even if it did mean that I spent 3 hours on Hull Trains feeling like I was a piece of toast under the grill, I think I made the most of the precious time with my wonderful family.

I guess that’s all I have to say.  Time to go enjoy my last weekend on the pop until Easter, although not too crazily as I’m really craving doing healthy stuff now.  So much so that I’m tempted to stay in on NYE and just have a pie and a bottle of wine – being able to get up the next day and get on with whatever I deem necessary – like moving this shitty Blogger blog to WordPress and the 21st Century.

I hope you had as wonderful a Christmas as myself.

Oh yeah, why did I get 4 bottles of shower gel but no deodorant?  What is that about?