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Its only money

February 7th, 2020 · Posted by Skuds in Life

The other day I came across a job. I wasn’t looking, it was one of those e-mails from LinkedIn that says “here’s a job you might be interested in” and I had a little look. It was a job that I could probably do, in my current field of risk management, in an industry that I used to work in. It was also an interesting challenge because it was a high-profile infrastructure project that I know from the news has had a lot of trouble with risk management.

Oh. And the salary was between about £75k and £90k which is significantly more than I get now, with a lot more holiday than I get now and a final salary pension scheme. [Read more →]

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Books, books and books

February 6th, 2020 · Posted by Skuds in Life

I seem to have my reading mojo back at last, which is making me very happy indeed.

Last year I had stocked up on e-books, expecting to be reading a lot while in hospital and afterwards in recovery, but it turned out that I really didn’t have the mental capacity to read anything more substantial than Twitter for a long time. It was an attention span thing really.

When I did read books I could only really manage books I had read before, so I got through all the Milligan war memoirs and some Robert Rankins. Then I built up to reading books by authors I already knew that I liked, but they were taking a long time to get through.

And then Jayne bought me a new Kindle Paperwhite for Christmas and I started dipping into the backlog, just to enjoy the novelty of the new toy, and it has been ramping up from there – fueled by the temptations of the Kindle deals of the day. So far in 2020 I have read half a dozen novels and four non-fiction books.

Most of the fiction has been Ben Aaronovitch. Amazon had a deal where the first 5 Rivers of London books were 99p each and books 6 and 7 were a fiver each, so £15 for all 7. The non-fiction was an actual paper book about the Seinfeld television show that I treated myself to after Christmas, an advance proof of a new history of Kraftwerk and another couple of Kindle deals of the day; Flash Boys by Michael Lewis and a psychology book.

The backlog does not seem to be going down though, because recently there have been lots of temptations in the Amazon deals of the day so although I may have read 10 books so far this year, I have bought 15. This is amost the sort of reading and purchasing rate that I used to have, and it makes me wonder why I slowed down for a while. Perhaps it is no coincidence that all this has happened after I stopped being a councillor? I know that reading a decent novel or book on behavioural economics is a lot more interesting than reading endless reports, agendas and minutes!

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2019 – Must I Evolve?

January 3rd, 2020 · Posted by Skuds in Music

Now we are firmly into 2020 (Happy New Year BTW) it is time to increment my 1962 onwards playlist by another tune.

Deciding what to put on there was a tough decision because there was so much good music last year, and I got to listen to a lot more music than I normally would. As I mentioned in an earlier post, what I listened to the most in 2019 was Hall & Oates’ Rich Girl, according to Spotify, but that is a bit of a red herring. There was so much more to the year, and to my experience of it, than that… [Read more →]

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Best Christmas ever?

December 26th, 2019 · Posted by Skuds in Life

It is possible that yesterday was the best Christmas ever. It went a bit pear-shaped after midnight when the dog threw up over the bedroom floor, but that was after midnight so doesn’t count.

It started with a bit of a lie-in of course. Nothing too excessive, but the sort of thing we could only dream of when we had youngsters in the house. Traditionally this is the day when its OK to have a chocolate selection box for breakfast, but I opted for corn flakes instead, though I did have a couple of Celebrations as a chaser.

The weather was absolutely brilliant. Lovely clear skies and bright sun. We went out for a long walk with the dogs and it was quite eerie to see the empty roads around Manor Royal but so peaceful without all those cars everywhere. Despite the quietness, the buses were absolutely packed out, no doubt full of airport workers coming off their shift.

After the walk we had roast leg of lamb, which was  also perfect – sprouts, parsnip, mint sauce, everything you could want. It was so good we couldn’t face having the Christmas pud that I went out to get specially the day before to replace the one we have had knocking around for about three years and never got round to eating before it expired.

During the evening I broke with another tradition, the one where I usually end up having no alcohol over the entire holiday season, and had a couple of pina coladas while watching the John Wick 3 blu ray with Jayne.

There is a lot to be said for living in an empty nest and being able to do what you want, when you want!

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Thinking television thoughts

December 25th, 2019 · Posted by Skuds in Life

I have been watching old episodes of Scorpion on Netflix over the last couple of weeks. It is a very annoying programme for several reasons, but quite entertaining. Apparently it was supposed to be a sort of drama version of Big Bang Theory, but I would have described it as like a group of MacGyvers – except I have never seen MacGyver so I’m only really assuming that works as an analogy. [Read more →]

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Thinking Christmassy thoughts

December 25th, 2019 · Posted by Skuds in Life, Music

I don’t think its a secret that I am not a fan of Christmas. I’m not ashamed of that, not proud, it just is what it is. I just don’t get it or buy into all the fuss about it, but ironically I may well enjoy it more than many of the Xmas fanatics because it is a very low-stress time for me. [Read more →]

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2019 Wrapped. A few surprises

December 7th, 2019 · Posted by Skuds in Music

Spotify have this ‘wrapped’ feature where they tell you what your most listened to songs and artists are for the year. A bit premature when there is nearly a twelfth of the year left, but it is what it is. My bedtime habits do rather influence the results though. I have 30 or so playlists of about 90 minutes each for going to sleep to. They contain nothing too energetic or loud. Given that I will be listening to each playlist about 10 times on average throughout the year anything that is on one of the lists is going to skew the results a bit. It probably shouldn’t count that a lot of the songs I play I do not hear because I am asleep! [Read more →]

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The great car mystery

October 23rd, 2019 · Posted by Skuds in Life

In an effort to get more steps under my belt I have been walking a lot around the Manor Royal estate. It is supposed to be an industrial estate but the definition of industry is quite loose because you soon notice that a lot of it is given over to retail, specifically the retail of motor cars.

Just within the BID area we have main dealers for Ford, Suzuki, Mazda, VW, Mitsubishi, Peugeot, Hyundai, Lexus, Kia, Nissan, Caterham, Vauxhall, Mercedes, Jaguar, Land Rover, Toyota, Citroen and Tesla – sort of. Tesla burnt down but might be back. Elsewhere in town we have a big BMW dealer in Three Bridges, Audi in Maidenbower, and Honda in Northgate. If four wheels is too many then there is also P&H who are main dealers for Suzuki, Honda, Yamaha, Kawasaki, Ducati and KTM motorbikes. I may have missed one or two.

And what is the big mystery? There are at least 21 makes of car with a main dealer in Crawley. Fiat is not one of them, so why the bloody hell is it that you can’t cross a road without seeing one of those horrible Fiat 500s every time?

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Born A Crime: Stories from a South African Childhood

October 10th, 2019 · Posted by Skuds in Life

Last month I snapped up Trevor Noah’s autobiographical book, Born a Crime while it was the 99p Kindle deal of the day. I kind of regret that because it is very much worth the full price – currently £4.99

The book has two big things going for it: a remarkable story to tell and a very readable writing style. Part of the story is the background situation and Noah does a good job of explaining some of the details of apartheid, which are truly shocking. Obviously I remember all the fuss about apartheid in the 80’s, and probably took part in demos about it (there were so many marches and demos then it is hard to remember exactly which I was at) but now realise that I didn’t know a lot about the nitty-gritty details of it, and certainly not the human dimension that this book brings to the topic. [Read more →]

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And another thing. Or four.

October 2nd, 2019 · Posted by Skuds in Life

Following on from last night’s moan about the Guardian’s 100 best TV shows, I remembered a few other shows that really should have been in there:

Elementary – An alternative to Sherlock with a few twists: being set in New York, Doctor Watson being a woman, Moriarty also being a woman, and Sherlock’s dad heading up an evil empire being the most obvious. Decent plots, likeable characters, and the central performance from Jonny Miller being absolutely fascinating, plus some humorous touches. Best of all, there is a lot of it, rather than the measly three-episode series that Sherlock had.

Fargo – Can’t believe I forgot about this. Excellent characters and an escalating plot worthy of the film, plus some world-class psychos.

Death in Paradise – A gentle whodunnit series which survived the replacement of all the cast over time, largely because the true star is the location.

Hannah – Can’t compete with the film in terms of visuals, but extended and expanded the story very well. Did a much better job than Dusk Til Dawn which started well but then went over-complicated, getting ridiculous in season two, in the same way that Hannibal and Westworld started well but soon got bogged down.

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