World Of Winfield

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

******

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

******

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.

Fuck. I’m 40

Yes I am actually 40 years old right now. 40. Fourty.

I had a little wobble the day before I turned 40 – this whole, shit I’m about to turn 40 and I don’t have a house, car, wife, kids, management job – not that I actually want any of them, but that didn’t matter on the last day of being in my 30’s. I was a bit miserable that day. Quite a bit.

Thankfully, I had the foresight to take my birthday off work, and my trusty sister had spare holiday, so after a morning of getting shit done, and opening a few cards/presents, I headed down to my favourite brunch spot, Casa Tua, in King’s Cross.

I love their breakfast menu – I went for the Big John which was a trio of Eggs Florentine, Eggs Royale and Eggs Benedict – though the parma ham was so amazingly tasty that I’d just have that on its own. And an orange, carrot and ginger juice – though don’t worry, I wasn’t on detox for my 40th birthday.

Then came Flight Club, which is darts where you play various games like Snakes & Ladders against your opponents, using the darts board – and it is all tracked and computerised.

Of course, I won – in fact totally kicked arse.

They even gave us a free hour for my birthday and a brownie, which was very sweet.

And in the evening – Blacklock.

Not the best photograph in the world, plus I was a little tipsy by this point. The steak I thought was a bargain – 300g of rib-eye for £18. I’ve had a few better steaks, but not many – and the chop sauce was just sexual, every bit as good as their gravy on Sunday.

Weekend Celebrations

Yeah, I dragged my celebrations out – almost quite literally wearing a 40th birthday tiara:

This is now my new Bumble profile photograph – and no, it hasn’t helped. Not sure why.

My sister had arranged drinks at Mare Street Market in east London – pretty cool place, we had a seating area for a few hours, half-decent pizza, good beer, a room full of chandeliers, a record shop (alas/thankfully mostly rock music) and a load of people looking at me strangely whenever I went to the toilet.

There were a lot of photographs. Guess who by?

Roast

Then on Sunday, my sister had also arranged my birthday roast. She’s such a star, my sister.

Various other good friends attended a roast – most of them enjoyed the roast more than I did though, I was rather critical of it.

The actual time was thoroughly enjoyable – not only did some gorgeous people make the effort from Reading – but my parents had come all the way from Hull that day to go for a roast dinner. Granted, not the first time they have done this, but it was a surprise to me!

Gifts & Cards

It wouldn’t be a birthday without gifts and cards – though the real gifts to me are friends/family spending time with me.

I did get some cash from my family which I never use nowadays as I pay for everything by card so will probably stay in my drawer for a year. Guess I could buy some drugs with it. Or maybe get off my backside and go into an actual bank, like old people do. I’m still young, right?

I got some damn fine birthday cards, a collection of my favourite thing from my sister, a fluffy flamingo from my mum (memory of our day at London Zoo last year) and a Gravy Princess t-shirt – alas, a size too small. But I will lose weight this year. Honest.

Conclusion

It’s now over two weeks since my birthday (in fact it is my Dad’s birthday today), and I’m not bothered about being 40. Possibly thanks to just how good my actual birthday was.

Best birthday ever?

Complaint – British Airways

Dear Sir/Madam

I appreciate that the strikes were not the fault of British Airways, and I have laid full blame at Balpa, including sending them a letter of complaint.

However, I was supposed to be flying back from my holiday on 27th September – and was waiting to arrange the rest of my holiday, as I had other hotels and a ferry to book too.

Finally I received note that my flight on 27th September was cancelled – so I arranged to change it to the week after. Thankfully the one hotel I had booked let me change dates without charging me, and everything else was still available.

Then I realised after doing so, that I would financially have been better off cancelling and rebooking – the return flights were £196. I had paid £242.54 – so I feel like I have missed out on £46.54 worth of flight.

I don’t want to complain too loudly – I enjoyed the flights and am especially in appreciation of the M&S food and Brewdog beer that is available, not to mention not being harrangued every few minutes like on Ryanair. I just feel that I have been left a bit short – my next holiday is to Japan and it does leave me questionning whether booking with BA is the right thing to do (the strikes make me nervous in choosing this too).

Oh and why am I always the last to get a drink on your flights? The plane was only a third full on the way out, yet took a good 1 hour 20 minutes for the cabin crew to reach me.

Kind regards
James Winfield

******

[7 whole weeks later…just how many complaints do BA get nowadays?]

Dear Mr Winfield

Thanks for contacting us about your flight from Kerkyra on 27 September. I’m sorry your journey was affected by industrial action by the pilots’ union BALPA on 27 September.

The strike action had a significant impact upon our operation. Following the announcement, we immediately reviewed our flight schedule and it was necessary to make a large number of cancellations, including some on non-strike days.

Please accept my apologies for any inconvenience caused by the temporary change to our schedule due to the strike action. We value your loyalty to British Airways and your support as a Blue member of our Executive Club. We’re looking forward to welcoming you on board soon. Please feel free to contact me directly, using the blue link below, if I can help you with anything else.

Best regards

Tejas Pawar
British Airways Customer Relations

Complaint: BALPA (Pilot’s Trade Union)

Dear Sir/Madam


I am appalled to read that you are taking strike action to ruin the plans of many people, myself included.


An 11.5% pay rise over 3 years (for generally well-paid workers) is a good deal.  The current inflation rate is 2.1% – with there arguably being a greater risk of lower inflation due to recessionary risks, than higher inflation.


This seems like a rather generous deal to me.


Further to that, airlines do go bankrupt, as we have seen.  There are worse airlines to work for – my understanding is that working conditions at British Airways are far superior to that of Ryanair, for example.  You should be looking to protect the company that your pilots work for as opposed to damaging them, through unaffordable pay claims and now unfair strike action.


I urge you to immediately call off your strike action. You have now ruined my holiday plans – I have worked hard all year, at a wage far below those earned by your pilots (and probably trade union executives).  It’s no big deal to me, I’ll get a refund and I can re-arrange my holiday, however there are a flurry of people whose honeymoon and wedding plans you have ruined:

I could go on.  Tweet after tweet where you have ruined people’s dreams.
I expect your response will blame British Airways, however I reiterate that they are kind enough to employ your pilots and already pay them generously, with a further generous pay rise offered.  You are the ones that have called the strike action – you are in control here.

I urge you to desist from ruining the lives of thousands of people and immediately cancel your strike action.  Even if you hate British Airways and want to see them go bankrupt, at least cancel your strikes for those going on honeymoon.  And do it today.
Please have a heart – this is really unfair on so many people.

Yours sincerely

James Winfield

******

Dear James,

Thank you for your email dated 24 August 2019. Your comments are all noted and I appreciate that there is nothing I can write that will placate you in the current circumstances.

We remain available to resume talks with BA so that this matter can be settled. I am sorry that the announcement of strike dates has impacted on your personal plans and thank you for bringing other disruption to my attention.

Kind regards

Head of Organisation

For and on behalf of

BALPA

******

Dear John

Thank you for taking the time to respond.

It seems very much that the ball is in your court. BALPA are the ones using Somali pirate techniques to demand more money. BALPA are the ones that have announced the strikes. British Airways have offered a reasonably generous pay rise.

I urge you to think of your fellow humans – especially those with wedding or honeymoon plans (not myself), and call off the strike immediately.

This action not only ruins the plans of thousands of hard-working people (the types that trade unions used to represent, back in the day), it will also damage the profitability of British Airways and therefore potentially lead them to being able to afford to run less routes, and employing less staff.

Politically it will also likely play into Boris Johnson’s hands.

There is something that you can write that will placate me, and that is confirmation that you will cancel the strike action.

Again, I urge you and your members to think of your fellow human beings. The ball is in your court. You can do this!

Kind regards

James Winfield

******

[still no response]

BASTARDS