World Of Winfield

Corona Moaner

Ahhh I should be sat in a beer garden right now, sun-kissed, slightly drunk, wondering if the Met line will develop a signal failure and a tinge of annoyance from yet another average roast dinner.

Yet my complaints are trivial. People have lost their lives. People have lost love ones. People have lost jobs. People will lose their jobs once furlough expires. And we will all have a host of problems from the upcoming economic crisis.

I could say that I am lucky – I am in some respects though with respects to my job, I chose my career change wisely and worked bloody hard. My current economic resilience was planned.

So I think the title of this post will be rather misleading. I like the name “Corona Moaner”, yet I don’t think moaning will be the main theme of this post – though I don’t especially have a plan…I just need to type. I also spent far too long deciding whether it should be “Corona Moaner” or “Coronamoaner”. Did I choose correctly?

Without doubt I’m enjoying life less than I was. I record my happiness score on a daily basis (I have waaaaaay too many spreadsheets) – my current average is around 4.5, whereas April/May last year it was close to 6. A score of 5 is absolutely fine, by the way – so anything above is good. This week last year averaged a 7 – though I guess that was when I got offered my new job…one of those days I was in Luton too…ahhh being able to visit Luton, those were the days.

Mostly I am just getting on with things – I was really quite anxious and perhaps a bit stressed at first, but that has all subsided. I’m often quite chirpy, I do a lot more talking to empty rooms than normal, and it is a pleasure to have my housemate around.

Yet I do have occasional moments of gloom – like the other day when I was working, and I realised that I was probably going to be stuck in Harrow for at least a couple more months without being able to go anywhere. It’s OK around here – I used to live in Bracknell so I’m always feeling blessed whenever I recall that year of my life. Yet I want to be in London. I miss the streets of central London and the warm concrete and glass hug that it gave me.

I feel rather wistful when I view even the most dismal and damp scenes of the city I love.

It’s also annoying timing. I’d just done my quiet months – weekends of staying in, defrosting the freezer, cleaning cupboards, tidying up my websites – I was ready to get out and enjoy my life once more. Though I’m thankful that I managed to see my parents in Hull on the last normal weekend. That really was quite good timing – often I would have waited until Easter to visit.

Yet despite the pause on my social life – and I did allow an early end to my detox to compensate, the situation isn’t too bad for me. Some things are actually better – namely work, and being able to work from home every day. Yeah, no signal failures.

I can wake up naturally. I eat much healthier, at least during the week – no recourse to bacon sandwiches having suffering from a painful commute. No chocolate bars after lunch to try to perk myself up from a post-lunch slumber in a stuffy office. I feel that I am more productive, and able to concentrate better – though that is no surprise to me. I haven’t lost weight since lockdown – but normally I lose weight during my detox then quickly put it back on. I haven’t put any back on – though I still need to get back to being more active to restart losing weight.

I’ve also taken the time to start investing in the stock market. The crash was the signal that I needed to invest, and so far I’m up around 10% – though I take nothing for granted and am not risking anything I cannot afford to.

So this whole situation looks like it will benefit my career, my finances and my health – assuming I don’t catch the damn virus, as I am obese and obese people seem to be more at risk.

I am also trying to do a bit of good in my own way. I’m not a clapper – you wouldn’t really imagine me joining in a mass-participation event would you? But I do try to put a smile on people’s faces where I can on social media, I try to check in with friends occasionally. I am trying to keep spending money, with small businesses where possible – I have had way too many veg boxes delivered. And I am trying to give more to charity – my goal is to give away 50% of my usual travel expenses, preferably to smaller charities whenever I hear about them.

End lockdown…ish

I am now at the stage where I am over lockdown. I feel the risk is now minimal for transmitting the virus, at least in London, and we should be allowed to go back to pubs and restaurants, for example, albeit booked in advance and with social distancing, plastic screens, no sharing toilet cubicles, etc.

I’m not Piers Corbyn level, but I am starting to get a bit agitated about how long this lockdown is going on for…I do feel from reading the available evidence that things can be relaxed more than they currently are. From walking around my local area in exactly the same route as I do every fucking day, I am clearly not the only one ready to relax.

Would be funny if Jeremy Corbyn was Prime Minister right now, enacting the lockdown, and his brother was campaigning against, wouldn’t it? Except for the bit about Jeremy Corbyn being Prime Minister.

Finally I do wonder whether I am taking full advantage of this period. I should be using this time better to study and improve my JavaScript – and also to get fit. Yet I am drinking too much on a weekend and not doing either. I do have a warm glow though.

That wasn’t too Corona Moany was it? I am certainly blessed to be in my position – yet I can and do still miss my old life, and being able to walk the streets of London, visit a pub for a beer and have a shoddy roast dinner.

And I miss humans. Friends, family and randoms.

Stockmarket Investing. Again.

You may remember that a couple of years I stuck my £5,000 savings into shares. They went up. Then shot down. I panicked and sold with a loss of £1,460.58.

I concluded that my biggest mistake was to ignore a good friend who told me to have a diversified portfolio. I had 80% of my money in one company, 20% in another.

My other mistake was investing at the top of a stock market rally – investing when they were overpriced as opposed to underpriced.

And perhaps another mistake was investing money I couldn’t afford to lose – this was my only savings.

Two Years Later…

That was in 2018. When I started at M&S in July 2019, I was finally in a position where I could save money on a regular basis. Yet I remained hesitant about investing – I was convinced that we were at the peak of the stock-market boom.

I dabbled a bit, mostly in M&S shares but also a handful of others, more or less broke even when I sold everything in January – around the time of Coronavirus. I am not going to claim this is why I sold my minimal holdings, however I was convinced that a fall in share prices was coming one way or another. And unlike in 2008, this time I had savings. This time I was ready.

My strategy

Only invest what I can afford to lose. I figured that my money for being on call is almost like free money – perfect example being this week where I had one call out on Sunday afternoon, and that was a false alarm. So I decided to invest this plus £100-200 a month. I save cash also, unless I spend a lot of money.

Don’t invest all at once. I calculated a sum of money to invest from when I started at M&S, yet I didn’t invest it all when the stock-market started falling. I invested a little when it dropped to 6,200. More at 5,500. More at 5,000. More now it is back up to 5,700.

I’ve invested less than half my original intended pot – my feeling was that the stock-market would fall further than 5,000, and even though it has rallied somewhat in the last 2-3 weeks, I remain concerned that it may fall further. If it falls further, then I have greater opportunities, if it stays around 5,700 or rises further, then I will hopefully still be investing in good companies.

Invest in a wide range of companies. One of my mistakes the first time was just to invest in technology-related companies. Especially given that I invested on a hunch having read about them in The Economist, thinking I was some kind of genius. I am not.

This time I have invested in a mixture, including retailers, oil companies, banks, pharmaceutical companies. I will go into more detail later.

Invest in different levels of risk. I’m not going to pretend that I fully understand the balance sheets of the companies I invest in, but I do know that airlines are high risk right now – and companies like pharmaceuticals and electricity providers are low risk.

I am investing in a mixture of both – the hope that the high risk ones will not go bankrupt and in years to come bring me huge profits, and also the expectation that more stable and necessary companies will maybe rise steadily, and also pay annual dividends. Again I go into more detail later.

Keep a watchlist. I have created a watchlist on Yahoo Finance – yes I have actually found a reason to use Yahoo – of companies that I would like to invest in and the price that I am willing to do so.

Importantly, I have also set a price at which I’d sell at, to remove myself from greed. As Warren Buffet said, we should be “fearful when others are greedy and greedy when others are fearful”.

My Investments

So starting with the riskiest ones. Cineworld and Carnival. Nobody is going to either a cinema or boarding a cruise any time soon. Highly risky and neither company is certain to exist at the end of this current crisis. But they have solid brands and if they do make it through, I should at a minimum double my money – given that I have bought at circa 20% of their value one year ago.

Then there are the somewhat risky ones, namely banks. My judgement is that this crisis will not sink any of the major banks as they are far more capitalised than they once were and the fear of a 2008-repeat has driven their prices down further than they should have. I’ve bought shares in Lloyds – down 21% since, and Barclays, up 2% since.

Oil. The major oil companies have taken a hammering as has the oil price. Yet companies like Shell and BP have their hands in much of the chain, BP also has a sizeable renewable energy component to it. They also pay dividends, and according to Yahoo Finance, this is slated to be around 10%. Like it or not, oil isn’t going anywhere yet and I want to have the money to buy a house before I retire. The BP share price hasn’t been this low since 1995.

Stable companies which are required – crisis or no crisis, such as Sage for accounting software, Unilever for things like cleaning products, Reckitt Benckiser so people can buy Dettol to inject, Hikma Pharmaceuticals and GSK – people still need drugs to keep them alive, Aviva for insurance. I’m not expecting to make huge sums out of these, but I am expecting them to be stable companies and hopefully pay dividends, though maybe not all will in 2020. So far, all up since I bought, some in the 20% range.

Then some vastly oversold companies which I really don’t understand why. Drax’s share price fell by around 70% at one point, yet people need electricity. ASOS similarly. Both up by 64% and 91% respectively since I bought them, and ASOS still seems way under-priced. Though I’m hedging my bets for now.

Finally, M&S. Yeah an emotional purchase and down 45% since I bought them.

Next?

I have plenty on my watchlist and am trying to research a few companies every week – not all I fancy, for example house builders I am just not interested in right now.

The super risky one I am considering is Capita. WH Smith and Halfords look very underpriced to me, but could also fall further – so I’m still considering them.

I’m considering more stable companies such as National Grid and Prudential, more for dividend potential than anything else.

I feel that I should also have some tech companies in my portfolio, especially given that we are now quickly moving to doing much more online – but haven’t worked out what yet.

If you are interested in investing, you can join up with Freetrade – they don’t take a commission so there is no cost other than the tiny amount of stamp duty you’ll need to pay on each investment – so no harm in buying just £10 of shares in a company. FYI I am an investor in Freetrade.

And if you are a friend of mine reading, a good friend (possibly your friend too) has started up a Facebook group to discuss investing – get in touch and I’ll invite you.

Complaint – TFL. Again.

Oh back in the good old days when the worst of my problems was attempting to get to work and home from work.

Might be a while before I have cause to complain again. And maybe I will just be happy every time there is a signal failure in future because I am actually allowed to get a tube.

For old time’s sake…though it isn’t even funny so I don’t know why I’m posting it.

******

Dear Sir/Madam

I hope that you are getting as bored of my complaints as I am getting bored of Metropolitan line delays.

Every month there is a battle to get my due refunds due to the delays.

This e-mail is with regards to 6 delays where I applied for a refund using the online system, then on 14/11/2019 received 6 separate e-mails confirming, “Your refund request has been successful”.

However, I have not received any of these repayments into my bank account.

Please can you investigate and confirm.

Kind regards
James

******

Dear Mr Winfield

Thanks for your email of 1 December about several service delay refunds.

I apologise for you not receiving your service delay refunds. I’ve reviewed your journey and payment history and can confirm that you are yet to receive a refund for the six service delay refund requests.

I’ve looked into your journeys and the service reports for the corresponding dates, but do not find record of incidents relating to all of the delays.

So that I can refund all journeys at once, may I ask you to please reply with the confirmation emails attached. I am unable to trace the system processed refunds, but can refund you manually. In order to do so, I am required to link the refunds to these emails.

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


Customer Service Adviser
Transport for London Customer Services

Updated: Goals 2020

Shit happened. I need to amend my goals for the year slightly:

Health

Two Detoxes Don’t drink every night. A 3-week detox prior to my 40th birthday and a 3-month detox after my birthday. Should be easy, right? Try not to drink every night.

Stop unnecessary drinking. This is the bottle of wine at home on a Friday night after work, or the can of beer at my desk on a Friday afternoon, or drinking prosecco on a Tuesday afternoon at work…that kind of thing. If I didn’t need to lose weight, I wouldn’t be so bothered…but I really do. Only drink at home.

Lose Weight. Yes, I say this every year and every year I fail. So it feels like I am just going through the motions yet I really have to become non-obese if I want to avoid shit like diabetes. So maybe I actually will lose weight this year – and my goal is 10kg for the year. I am setting monthly goals too – January I have passed, February I will almost certainly pass. If I fail my monthly goals than I will punish myself with a vegetarian roast dinner…so if that isn’t a reason to lose weight, I don’t know what is. Update: 5kg lost…easier to lose weight when working from home.

Work & Websites

Work towards promotion Hope M&S survive. I’m not sure I could achieve a promotion as a higher grade engineer this calendar year, but I want to ensure that I have a plethora of experience and evidence behind me to go for it in 2021. This means learning JavaScript in a more technical fashion (I have quite the reading list), improving technical presentation skills, improving my test-writing ability – as well as shipping some damn fine code. There will be no promotions!

Met Line Bingo. I’ve started work on a website called Met Line Bingo – which will be a fun, simple game for passengers to play when they are delayed AGAIN. Would be nice to have another site in my portfolio – I have a list of projects I want to do that I just never get around to starting. Update – I’ve almost finished it. Yet nobody will want to use it.

Improve websites. I do want to do a complete re-brand of my roast dinners blog, and at some point my iwillbeawebdeveloper page. Which, I probably have to rebrand – I wonder whether I should change my jameswinfield.co.uk website from being a DJ site (not updated in years) to my portfolio site? I do have designs in my head for them…though design isn’t exactly my strong point. Update – I do have more time to do this now!

Explore

Monthly culture Monthly porn. I want to do a different cultural activity every month this year (granted January I didn’t and February I probably won’t). Burlesque, ballet, bingo, comedy, cinema, theatre, musical, drag brunch, 20/20 cricket…that kind of thing. Want to join me? Let me know! Check out a different porn website each month.

Japan Zone 4. Well, the flights are booked, the first hotel is booked. Research is ongoing. I am going to Japan. Try to make it all the way to fare zone 4 one day.

Image by jacqueline macou from Pixabay

3 New Countries 3 New tube stations. I normally aim for 4 but fail, and with half my holiday allowance being taken by my trip to Japan I’m making this more achievable. One will be Japan and there are plenty of European countries that I’ve never been to. Iceland, Luxembourg, Turkey? Want to join me? Try to visit 3 new tube stations without being lynched, obviously in my local area and by walking only.

Random Country Random Street in Harrow. I really want to play random country holiday with someone this year. Or maybe I’ll just do it by myself…if nobody wants to do random by July, then I’ll just do it on my own.

Upgrade My Life

Replace stuff Buy an air conditioning unit. Now I have a reasonable salary, it is time to upgrade my belongings – my battered office chair, my ugly over-sized (but free) office desk, my slow Surface, tired towels, suitcases with broken wheels, computer monitor with weird wavy lines, computer speakers that are far too bass-heavy. Lots of stuff is long overdue an upgrade. Given that my bedroom gets to 30’C in the summer, I don’t fancy working in that kind of heat.

New socks. I need to finally get rid of all my old, tired socks too. Sock upgrades are required. Update: I have done this.

Double my savings Triple my savings unless M&S go bankrupt. I’m not telling you how much I have, but I do want to double the amount of saving that I have by the end of the year, and ideally have a fair amount in shares. Well, I don’t have anything to spend my income on.

Move house? Stay in my fucking house. I don’t want to do this, even though I know the pain would probably be worth it. My house is easy to live in, my housemate is sound – both could be worse if I move, and it isn’t exactly as if every house move I have made has been a good move. But I’m going to look into what is out there. Yeah.

Be Kinder

Donate to charity more. Last year I gave a total of £76 to charity, which was up from £46 the year before. Piddling amounts but in the right direction. One problem I have is that I’m not massively enthused by any one cause, so I just rely on other people doing fundraisers and donating to what they believe in. Update: Am trying to give half my usual commute to charity now.

Waste less food Store more food. Not exactly something I can measure…unless I start yet another spreadsheet, keeping a track of rough amounts of food I waste. But I do buy too much food that I don’t finish – cheese for example I rarely eat a block before it goes off. Perils of single life. My Brexit stockpile hasn’t half come in handy.

Plant a tree Look at the same trees outside my window. Bit out there this one, but it is something good I can do for the planet and local area.

Life Under The Virus Taliban

This is really quite a depressing situation, isn’t it? The Virus Taliban has taken control of our lives…yet somehow I remain cheerful.

I remember reading a story about this Coronavirus just after New Year – going back to work and people talking about the new year and how good it was going to be, but I jokingly mentioned this virus might wipe us all out. I wasn’t taking the threat too seriously, but I did have in the back of my mind all the warnings I had read in publications like The Economist for the last 15 years that one day there would be a global pandemic.

Then when China started imposing lockdowns, I reassured myself that wouldn’t happen here – couldn’t happen here because we are a liberal democracy.

Even when Italy started bringing in such measures, shocking as it was to go against my beloved liberal ideals, I still didn’t think it could or would happen here.

Barely 10 days ago I was only worrying about whether I’d still be able to go on holiday to Japan in May. Now I don’t know whether I will be able to go to Tesco in April.

I get the reasoning behind it. I am not arguing against it. No health system can cope – even if my immune system should be able to handle it…I say should as I was hospitalised twice as a child with severe pneumonia, it is fucking painful I can tell you, plus I am obese, male, on the verge of getting diabetes and have mild asthma. So whilst not bang in the middle of an “at risk” group, I cannot say I am assured that it would be just a “mild flu” for me.

Interestingly I wonder if it may end up leading to improved health outcomes in the long-run? People that normally eat McDonalds might actually discover a love for home-made salad?

Dystopia

I already knew I had to sort my shit out in terms of my weight and sugar consumption so this situation gives me extra focus. And I have lost weight, circa 4.5kg this year. I have massively cut out cake and chocolate, fruit yoghurts too which I didn’t realise had so much sugar in. Alas, I probably need to lose 25kg in total to be a healthy weight.

And now I cannot go for my two walks a day which is annoying. Again, I get it. I just need to work out what time of day is best for my walk. I quite like early mornings when I wake up but the local supermarket shelves are too empty then. I tried lunchtime today which didn’t especially work well, but at least there was a scattering of fresh vegetables in Sainsburys. Tip to stay sane – don’t try Tesco Express. That should go without saying in normal times but it was fucking dystopia in there.

Oh and my healthy diet cannot be that healthy when I am struggling to find healthy food to eat. I was having to ration vegetables – normally I have just vegetables for lunch, and meat and veg for dinner. Alas, there is not enough around for both. I had cheese and biscuits for lunch today though I’m not convinced that is the way forward.

I still have a month left to go for my 3 month detox but I really cannot keep going any longer. I read the news – and I really am trying not to read too much now, but it is all fucking miserable. I loathe having the Virus Taliban in charge, telling me what I cannot do, even though I was not doing much for the last two months anyway because I was on detox. Though it is probably the first time that I have ever been happy to have my birthday in January!

Cancelled

I did have good stuff planned. Needless to say that my holiday to Japan is cancelled – British Airways are giving us a voucher so that if they don’t go bankrupt we can exchange towards flights which will probably be far more expensive than the ones we booked. I had stuff planned with some good friends…including a very dear one exiled in Norwich. And Easter with my family…though I had never quite got around to booking train tickets.

The worst thing probably is a lack of roast dinner outings…my adventures across London were part of my soul and kept me going no matter what else was going on. Friends or no friends, detox or no detox, engineering works or the Metropolitan line actually running on time – I had a roast dinner somewhere. No I don’t miss the Metropolitan line. Yet. I will do at some point.

I never took life for granted, I never really took my freedom for granted and always argued the cause for others around the world who don’t enjoy the wonders of liberal democracy, as imperfect as it is. One of my main tenets of argument to staying in the EU was wanting myself and all other British people to keep Freedom Of Movement. For sure I am not the first to suggest that I miss Brexit, but despite my prisoner status I can still enjoy the irony of Nigel Farage complaining about him not having Freedom Of Movement.

One thing that I am trying to do is give more to charity – I am saving money by not commuting (the joy of working from home has not yet soured!) so trying to give at least a bit of that to charity. Not that I always find it easy to find charities that I want to support. Though I’m aware that my own job is perhaps not as secure as it was a couple of months ago.

Economics

How long will people’s patience last? Will people get used to the situation and not be bothered to come out? Will this change society forever? When it is relaxed, will everyone come out and have a great big party or will there still be a huge amount of nervousness? Will it affect people’s mental health? Will we actually get all of our freedom and liberty back?

My biggest worry is what it will do to the economy. You may roll your eyes in leftie displeasure, but health outcomes and GDP are interlinked. The richer a country, the longer people live. The richer a country, the healthier a life people lead. And, of course, the healthier the richer too – it works both ways.

I don’t argue against the measures in general, especially those supporting business and individuals. However this will leave us with much higher indebtedness as a country. I assume bond markets will still be willing to fund this, interest rates on bonds haven’t yet increased much from what I can see.

The main issue seems to me to be a supply issue – not a demand issue. There is very much the potential for there to be not enough supply of goods/services to meet demand, and we have seen what happens to house prices, for example, when there is not enough supply.

Could inflation start rising quite steeply? Especially with the further expansion of QE. If inflation rises then interest rates will have to rise – and then those who have bought unaffordable houses on the idea that interest rates will remain super low will struggle – then feeding again into deepening the recession? Far cleverer people than me will have worked on this policy so I’m not going to judge until I have spent more time researching the potential effects. Though I do know what we will be dealing with the economic effects of this for a long time – it may well make the alleged “austerity” of the last 10 years look like a joyous time.

For now, I shall just try to enjoy my one daily allotted escape from the clutches of the Virus Taliban. I await my delivery of both pies and beers. Maybe I’ll even finally get around to reading one of the 20 books I have bought over the last few years.

Stay sane.

Will I Ever DJ Again?

Well it has been more or less 18 months since the night I co-run at the Purple Turtle was ended and I haven’t been behind a pair of decks since.

Not in a club and not even at home – my vinyl decks occasionally are used to play vinyl, but never to mix – the cramped bit of floor where I would stand has become my dumping ground for the things I intend on taking to charity shop but never do.

I’ve not asked anyone about the potential of playing out. I barely dust my CDJs and haven’t played them. I haven’t released a mix in two years. I never practise mixing. I have no intention of ever burning any more CDs!

Perhaps the real question is, “do I even want to DJ again?”

My life has moved on.

My priorities nowadays are becoming a really good JavaScript developer – which is something that the more I practice and the more time I spend on, the more successful I become. DJing is a lottery.

Other priorities are improving my health, eating lots of roast dinners and travelling the world. None of this is really compatible with trying to find the odd DJ set in London.

It isn’t like I can just go out and DJ – getting a set is far too much effort for my liking – generally involving licking the arse of promoters and I have no care for that. Or attending nights that I don’t want to attend because I’m old and quite happy to be in bed by 10pm on a weekend now.

The other alternative is having my own night, but that is so fraught with financial risk in London – not to mention the huge amount of work to promote it. And I certainly don’t have the time to do so.

The Purple Turtle gig was easy – we just needed to turn up and bring a few mates if we could. There is nothing like that for an unknown and not especially great DJ in London.

I also think that I don’t have an especially novel story to tell – I did in Reading, nobody really played what I did. But in London my music wouldn’t be anything unusual.

Plus I’m not exactly an amazing DJ and don’t have the time to put in to improve.

And fuck late nights nowadays!

That doesn’t stop me having moments where I’d love to be behind the decks in a bar, playing some of the disco I love, or playing little-known house tracks to people. I still have occasional such daydreams, especially when I’ve just discovered a new track I love and would love to see the reaction of others.

I have very fond memories of DJing, even if I wasn’t the best ever DJ.

Who knows, I may well DJ again – I’m only involuntarily semi-retired. I had so much fun that if the right opportunity came about, I’d probably jump at it.

Maybe I should tidy all the shit in my room so I can actually access my decks. Fuck, just realised it was 2017 that our night ended – nearly 2.5 years ago.

Is It Still February?

Is it just me or has February lasted much longer than normal this year?

At the beginning of the year I said that I’d try to do monthly updates on my blog, of who I am, where I’m going and what I’m up to.

Alas I have not done anything in February. On purpose – I’m on detox and spending my weekends sorting shit out, whether that be throwing away old clothes, cleaning rhe fridge, defrosting the freezer, doing my annual window cleaning – all that kind of really dull shit. Normally when I speak to people, say phone a friend for a catch up…or just write a blog, I have plenty to say.

Not at the moment. It does really feel like February is dragging – partly because of my detox, and partly because I have not really done anything. Not doing anything is by design, I’m very happy to have had a chilled month – but a lack of fun and excitement does mean that it feels like February is taking forever. Not to mention the weather – I’m at that point of year where I am really craving some warm sunshine (yes I’ll be moaning that it is too hot in a couple of months).

Possibly the most exciting thing I have done this month is eat pancakes – it was a pretty special pancake, I could have had 10. Alas I am trying to lose weight…and was succeeding…was…I’m a fucking moron sometimes.

I’m actually starting to think that my cake and chocolate intake is worse for my health than my alcohol intake. I’ve had lots of cake and chocolate this week – I have felt fairly crap and tired all week, plus I put on weight. The week before I had no cake or chocolate, felt good and lost weight. Co-incidence? Maybe I should really be giving up cake and chocolate for 3 months, instead of alcohol?

The other really big question on my mind, is what desk to buy? I’ve decided that my huge office desk takes up too much space – I cannot get behind it to clean it and there is a 3 year pile of dust and dirt. Yeah I’m still single. So, anyway, I’m trying to find a more compact and space-conscious desk. These are my two favourites at the moment:

Desk one – or desk two? I think the corner one is my favourite. Any thoughts? Or any suggestion on other places to find a desk?

Yep – this is what my life is like at the moment, trying to decide on a new desk. Everything is just really ordinary at the moment. Work is fine, I’ve having fairly average roast dinners – even the Met line is mostly running, albeit a bit slow and is closed for engineering works AGAIN this weekend. Life is just fine.

Next month should be more exciting, assuming killer virus panic doesn’t close the whole country like it seems to have closed Japan – were I booked for Japan in March then I’d probably postpone the trip…not quite sure what the point of going across to the other side of the world is if everything is closed. Fingers crossed it resolves itself.

Anyway, in March I have a visit to Hull to see my mum to look forward to – my mum wants proper fish and chips, which is exactly what my diet needs too. Going to an exhibition on British surrealism in Dulwich and have a roast planned with relatively new London friends, who are all rather funny and on my wavelength.

Space in my calendar for more stuff – and I must remember to do something for National Pie Week.

I’m also watching my football team slowly slide into the relegation spots – 10 games, 2 draws, 8 defeats. Though I had a bet on them at 250-1 to get relegated a month ago. How weird would that be winning a fairly large sum from your football team being relegated?

Hopefully I’ll have something more fun to report next month. At least I didn’t mention Brexit. And it looks like spring will spring around 10th March…fingers crossed.

Me & Music in 2019

I thought it might be interesting to have a look at the kind of music that I’m into nowadays.

Well, interesting to me, perhaps – I’m not under any illusions that people are especially interested in my music tastes, bar a handful.

I listen to a lot of minimal still, especially of the hypnotic Romanian variety – though I feel the peak of creativity has passed, and it has started to become oversaturated with averageness – as most successul music scenes do.

The scene that I find most exciting at the moment is the “offbeat techno” scene, almost owned by Hessle Audio label, with producers/DJs like Pearson Sound, Batu and Pangaea. This track perfectly embodies the sound – though it is quite a broad range of styles.

I’m really not sure what to call this crossbreed of post-dubstep, bass and techno, and despite saying it is the most exciting music at the moment, I don’t listen to it anywhere near as much as minimal.

I am SO bored of techno. The whole business techno thing – Amelie Lens, Drumcode – oh yawn me another river.

There are a few people I still find producing interesting techno, often harder and faster than I may have enjoyed when I was in my techno prime, like Randomer.

Also on the tougher and more abrasive style, I quite enjoy some of the EBM (definitely don’t confuse it with EDM!) and industrial music out there. Quite a bit of it is really old, such as Front 242 – but there are also people making newer EBM like Terence Fixmer and Phase Fatale. I certainly couldn’t go clubbing to it, but it is great for when the Metropolitan line is suspended and I want to stomp my feet in anger.

House music is still a thing for me, but I guess I end up discovering or rediscovering older house tracks at the moment – it is quite difficult to find new, exciting house music.

Like this for example, I think from the early 1990’s and I never knew it existed prior to recently:

Yeah it has also has a fat bassline – there is a definite theme going here!

Two other styles of music feature a lot in my world at the moment, more than in recent years. Firstly electro – there is quite a lot of this around at the moment and there has been in the last couple of years – some really quite exciting tracks.

Some of it is old and I am only just discovering:

Other more modern productions of electro are perhaps a little more on the house-side, such as this wonderful edit. If I were to start my own night up (I won’t be) then it would likely be more on the electro side.

Finally (did you make it this far?), I am really into the kind of beach-like disco or sythn-pop that the likes of Antal plays. Again, often old music but shows just how much good music there is undiscovered. Or maybe that my tastes have just got more weird.

This is the genres I attributed to the music I downloaded last year:

  • Minimal – 136 tracks
  • House – 78
  • Electro – 48
  • Techno – 35
  • Disco – 28
  • Bass – 21
  • Deep House – 21
  • Offbeat Techno – 20
  • Underground house – 19
  • Garage – 19
  • Italo – 8
  • Dub Techno – 7
  • EBM – 7
  • Rave – 7
  • Synth-pop – 7
  • Trance – 5
  • World music – 5
  • Breaks – 4
  • Funk – 4
  • Slow Techno – 4
  • Electronic – 3
  • Hardcore – 3
  • Hardstyle – 2
  • Darkness – 2
  • Dub Reggae – 2
  • Funky House – 2
  • Jungle – 2
  • Latin – 2
  • Tech-house – 2
  • Ambient – 1
  • Dance – 1
  • Downtempo -1
  • Drone – 1
  • Hi-NRG – 1
  • Hip-hop – 1
  • Industrial – 1
  • Other – 1
  • Progressive House – 1
  • Reggae – 1
  • Slow House – 1
  • Soulful House – 1
  • Space Disco – 1
  • Steel Band – 1

If you are really interested in what music I’m into, I have a “top tunes” blog, a favourite DJ mixes blog, and a YouTube channel where I do playlists of my 10 favourite tracks every month (though it needs updating!). I don’t really promote them and don’t update as often as I should…but I try to!

The search for music that excites me and can soundtrack my life is never-ending.

2020 Goals

Whoa, it’s only the second month of the year and I’m already publishing my goals for the year. I didn’t even get around to it last year.

Health

Two Detoxes. A 3-week detox prior to my 40th birthday and a 3-month detox after my birthday. Should be easy, right?

Stop unnecessary drinking. This is the bottle of wine at home on a Friday night after work, or the can of beer at my desk on a Friday afternoon, or drinking prosecco on a Tuesday afternoon at work…that kind of thing. If I didn’t need to lose weight, I wouldn’t be so bothered…but I really do.

Lose Weight. Yes, I say this every year and every year I fail. So it feels like I am just going through the motions yet I really have to become non-obese if I want to avoid shit like diabetes. So maybe I actually will lose weight this year – and my goal is 10kg for the year. I am setting monthly goals too – January I have passed, February I will almost certainly pass. If I fail my monthly goals than I will punish myself with a vegetarian roast dinner…so if that isn’t a reason to lose weight, I don’t know what is.

Work & Websites

Work towards promotion. I’m not sure I could achieve a promotion as a higher grade engineer this calendar year, but I want to ensure that I have a plethora of experience and evidence behind me to go for it in 2021. This means learning JavaScript in a more technical fashion (I have quite the reading list), improving technical presentation skills, improving my test-writing ability – as well as shipping some damn fine code.

Met Line Bingo. I’ve started work on a website called Met Line Bingo – which will be a fun, simple game for passengers to play when they are delayed AGAIN. Would be nice to have another site in my portfolio – I have a list of projects I want to do that I just never get around to starting.

Improve websites. I do want to do a complete re-brand of my roast dinners blog, and at some point my iwillbeawebdeveloper page. Which, I probably have to rebrand – I wonder whether I should change my jameswinfield.co.uk website from being a DJ site (not updated in years) to my portfolio site? I do have designs in my head for them…though design isn’t exactly my strong point.

Explore

Monthly culture. I want to do a different cultural activity every month this year (granted January I didn’t and February I probably won’t). Burlesque, ballet, bingo, comedy, cinema, theatre, musical, drag brunch, 20/20 cricket…that kind of thing. Want to join me? Let me know!

Japan. Well, the flights are booked, the first hotel is booked. Research is ongoing. I am going to Japan.

Image by jacqueline macou from Pixabay

3 New Countries. I normally aim for 4 but fail, and with half my holiday allowance being taken by my trip to Japan I’m making this more achievable. One will be Japan and there are plenty of European countries that I’ve never been to. Iceland, Luxembourg, Turkey? Want to join me?

Random Country. I really want to play random country holiday with someone this year. Or maybe I’ll just do it by myself…if nobody wants to do random by July, then I’ll just do it on my own.

Upgrade My Life

Replace stuff. Now I have a reasonable salary, it is time to upgrade my belongings – my battered office chair, my ugly over-sized (but free) office desk, my slow Surface, tired towels, suitcases with broken wheels, computer monitor with weird wavy lines, computer speakers that are far too bass-heavy. Lots of stuff is long overdue an upgrade.

New socks. I need to finally get rid of all my old, tired socks too. Sock upgrades are required.

Double my savings. I’m not telling you how much I have, but I do want to double the amount of saving that I have by the end of the year, and ideally have a fair amount in shares.

Move house? I don’t want to do this, even though I know the pain would probably be worth it. My house is easy to live in, my housemate is sound – both could be worse if I move, and it isn’t exactly as if every house move I have made has been a good move. But I’m going to look into what is out there.

Be Kinder

Donate to charity more. Last year I gave a total of £76 to charity, which was up from £46 the year before. Piddling amounts but in the right direction. One problem I have is that I’m not massively enthused by any one cause, so I just rely on other people doing fundraisers and donating to what they believe in.

Waste less food. Not exactly something I can measure…unless I start yet another spreadsheet, keeping a track of rough amounts of food I waste. But I do buy too much food that I don’t finish – cheese for example I rarely eat a block before it goes off. Perils of single life.

Plant a tree. Bit out there this one, but it is something good I can do for the planet and local area.

Complaint: Met Line. Again

Dear Sir/Madam

I have just initiated the next battle to get refunds for the exceptionally numerous delays on the Metropolitan line over the last month.

Firstly, myself and all other long-suffering customers would appreciate an explanation of why the new signalling is causing so many service suspensions between Finchley Road and Euston Square. I will apply via FOI request if I have to, but I’d prefer an explanation (an honest one – not the social media cover up) of why the problems are occurring and what is being done to resolve them.

Your customers really would appreciate an explanation. An apology from senior management (or even some form of acknowledgement that customers exist) would be nice too.

Further to that, I have applied for the delays over the last month. However it seems that I am too late to apply for the following:

07/10/2019 AM
08/10/2019 AM
14/10/2019 AM
15/10/2019 AM

It would be appreciated if these are also refunded. It took so long last time to get refunds that I have taken my eye off the ball – I hope this time is not such a battle.

Kind regards
James

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Dear Mr Winfield

Thanks for getting in touch with us on 13 November about the service delay refunds for the month of October. This was for your journey on 7,8, 14 and 15 October.

I am sorry to read you are experiencing delays using the Metropolitan Line.

Based on the information you’ve provided, I have refunded these journeys for you.

This will correct your charges and you’ll receive a refund of £18.80 within five working days.

This is a huge technological change that will bring major benefits to our customers over time. As we switch on the new signalling equipment in phases around the network, we will be switching between the old and the new systems. Although we have tested this operation extensively during simulated and live trials, live operations take a little time to bed in. This is only a temporary disruption, and we expect the service to be back to normal very soon. We apologise for any disruption that this bedding in period may cause. Our staff are working hard to minimise disruption as much as possible.

Please feel free to use the service delay refund option within your Transport for London account. Alternatively, you can email me and I am more than happy to process the refunds manually for you.

Once again we appreciate your patience.

Kind regards

Customer Service Adviser
Transport for London Customer Services

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Well I got my refund, but the “temporary disruption” is still going on now in February – and the real chaos started in September. It isn’t exactly as if it ran smoothly before the huge technological change.