One of my photos

Foreign parts

June 16th, 2019 · Posted by Skuds in Life

This month I saw my oncologist and got a plan for the remainder of my treatment. What that means is that we now know when my last lot of chemotherapy starts so we can work out when it should end, add a week to get over the effects, and a couple of weeks to allow for unexpected delays, and get a holiday booked for when I should be feeling better. I already have an outpatients appointment scheduled with the surgeon anyway, so will get him to whip out the dreadful jejunal feeding tube, leaving enough time for the hole to heal up before we go. Who wants to sit around the pool with a rubber tube sticking out of their stomach? [Read more →]

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2013 – Mystery Man

June 13th, 2019 · Posted by Skuds in Music

At some point in the 2000’s I just stopped buying CDs. This is a big deal for me, having over-spent on music for as long as I can remember. The thing is, all my existing CDs are only played through the computer, having been ripped ages ago. New music I just stream. I pay the full-price subscription to Spotify, so no freeloading, but even that is a lot less than I would have spent on physical product. [Read more →]

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The long game

June 11th, 2019 · Posted by Skuds in Life

Way back in 1974 my mother set up a life policy for me with a friendly society. The premiums were a shilling a week, and a man from the society would come round to collect them. Not every week because, after all, it was only a shilling. I think he came round a couple of times a year.

It was a 60-year life policy and over the years the company evolved and changed names a few times. Payment methods also evolved and changed, so at some point they stopped doing doorstep collections with stamps in books and would have ended up with direct debits, but mum kept up the payments. A few years ago she decided it was too much hassle to keep payments of 5p a week going. Of course the payments would not have been weekly, but even annual premiums would only have been £2.60 so she just paid the whole thing up front, which wasn’t a huge amount either.

She sent me the papers for it and we both assumed it would be worth so little it wasn’t worth thinking about. Last month I decided to call the company to see what the policy was because I didn’t know and mum couldn’t remember. I almost fell off my chair when they told me it would pay out £1847 if I died and had a surrender value of the same. There can’t have been more than £120 of premiums paid into it since 1974.

I decided to cash in now. The decision took me about 5 seconds. I filled out the paperwork and the other day found £1888.70 drop into my bank account. Since my phone call the policy value had gone up to £1851 and then they added on the pre-paid premiums that covered now until 2033. Sweet.

I’m not writing all this to brag or anything, but to point out how the miracle of compound interest and long-term growth rates make it worth putting a few quid away when young, or on behalf of somebody who is young. This especially applies to pensions. Retirement may feel like a long way off, but if you wait until it feels close it is too late to do anything about it.

I can add that to the list of things that I wish I appreciated a long time ago. My salary now dwarfs what I was earning when I finished at ICL in the early 90’s and I have contributions of about 15% going into the pension now, compared to 1% or 2% at ICL, but the pension I will get from ICL is way higher than what I will get from my current scheme just because of the miracle of time. If I had joined the pension scheme there earlier and paid a bit more in, maybe packing in the fags to afford it, I could probably retire now!

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2012 – Spitfire

June 8th, 2019 · Posted by Skuds in Music

This was the year I turned 50, when I might have been expected to retreat into listening to back catalogue and leave new music to the youngsters. I would have been happy to do that, but instead there was some excellent new music coming out that was right up my street, although a lot of it was quite retro. [Read more →]

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2011 – Let England Shake

June 7th, 2019 · Posted by Skuds in Music

While the singles charts continued to be full of songs by “x featuring y”, where x=someone I haven’t heard of and y=someone I have vaguely heard of, there were some interesting albums this year. It was especially good for albums by the sons of other musicians, with albums by Ian Dury’s son Baxter, Neil Finn’s son Liam and Fela Kuti’s son Seun. Neil Finn also had an album out that was basically him and his wife messing around in their music room at home, and turning out a decent album. [Read more →]

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Second attempt at normality

May 12th, 2019 · Posted by Skuds in Life

So this is what has been going on with my little health issues.

On Easter Monday I was allowed home after my big operation. This represented a really quick recovery because it was a massive operation. Actually it was more like a stomach operation + a chest operation + a tracheostomy, all lasting about 12 hours. Only spending a week in intensive care afterwards, then a week on a normal ward was very quick.

It turned out to be a little too quick though. Two days after getting home I was whisked back to hospital again because I was in a lot of pain and had fevers. This was caused by a small anastomatic leak, leading to bilateral pneumonia and pleural effusions, none of which means much to me, except that it hurt. [Read more →]

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Back in one piece

April 21st, 2019 · Posted by Skuds in Life

It looks like that cancer thing is over now. Still to be confirmed, but it is all looking good so far.

I went in for an operation to remove the tumour, along with a big chunk of my oesophagus, on April 10th. After that I spent about a week in intensive care before getting released to a normal ward. Right now I am still in the hospital but I might be able to get home tomorrow if I can have my lastdrain removed today.

It all seems like a long time to be stuck in here, but apparently my recovery has been remarkably rapid. It really is a big operation with quite a few potential complications and can require 3 or 4 weeks in hospital.

Of course, getting back home is only part of it. It will take a bit longer to get properly fit, and I will never be able to eat normally, but I would rather do that at home.

Apart from anything else I really miss the doggoes.

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False Alarm

April 9th, 2019 · Posted by Skuds in Life

Over the weekend our Jack Russell had us worried. He was having trouble eating, looking like he was choking when he had food or a treat. Although he can be a bit of a drama queen it was very disconcerting because that is exactly how I felt last year and that turned out to be cancer of the oesophagus. [Read more →]

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2010 – Drunk Girls

April 9th, 2019 · Posted by Skuds in Music

2010 was a bit of a blur for me. A busy year. There was a general election in May and I was standing against Francis Maude in Horsham. Although there was almost zero chance of winning (Fortunately. I don’t think I would like to be an MP!) I wanted to put in a good effort and use it as a way to generate more activity and membership in the Horsham party. I think people were quite surprised to see us pop up with a Labour street stall in Billingshurst. After all that, I moved house and that is always stressful.

It was possibly the Herculean task of packing all my books, CDs and DVDs that persuaded me I have too much stuff and led to me cutting back on buying too much more. At the beginning of the year my ginger kitten got run over and I got a replacement, Diego, who has had more luck and is still with us. [Read more →]

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2009 – Bonkers

April 8th, 2019 · Posted by Skuds in Music

I couldn’t pick anything other than Bonkers by Dizzee Rascal for the 2009 slot on my playlist. We are big fan of Mr Rascal (As Jeremy Paxman once called him) in this house. In fact our grandson is named after him – his real name of Dylan Mills and not his stage name of Dizzee Rascal obviously – so there is that connection, but this is also such a great tune, as anybody who has watched the footage of Dizzee at Glastonbury will know. [Read more →]

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