Tuesday, 10 January 2012

...Written on the back of my hand

Ah, the cold harsh light of the new year shines into the cobwebby filth of my brain, much like the sunshine streaming through the windows and highlighting the cobwebs festooned across the ceilings.

Mr WithaY and I have recovered from the horrible snotfest that began immediately after Christmas, and are getting on with New Year stuff.  In his case, this has been attending an interview (successful, yay) and making more excellent bushcraft stuff.

Look, he made these:

Moccasins, made to an authentic pattern, hand-stitched out of elk skin*.  

They're a lot better than my dire iPhone photography would indicate.  Plus he looks like Will Ferrell in Elf when he wears them.

I've been sorting out my burgeoning dressmaking business, although I think calling it a "business" is optimistic.  But regardless, I've ordered some business cards and fabric labels to sew into stuff I make, which is a start. Oh, and I've registered myself as "self employed" with the fine people at Her Majesty's Revenue and Customs, so I have to pay my own National Insurance for the first time in my working life.  I have no idea how to do that, perhaps a plain brown envelope full of cash through their letterbox once a week?

The other BIG ongoing long-term business plan is still in early stages, but I am quietly optimistic about it.

As part of the whole "enjoying the new way of life" mindset we are actively cultivating, last week we had a big day out in Salisbury.  It's a rare treat these days, and it was fab.

We had lunch at Wagamamas, nom nom nom, picked up some bargains in the sales, and went to the pictures to see the new Sherlock Holmes film.

When I say "bargains" I mean "things we intended to buy anyway but found at a vastly reduced price", not "random things we bought because they were cheap."  In my book, buying something you didn't already know you needed is not bargain shopping, it's wild and crazy impulse buying, a very different animal.

One of the bargains I found was a new pair of trainers/outdoor shoes, which were reduced by £50. Result.  But even better than that, the young man who sold them to me had a Story To Tell.  I noticed he sported the remains of what had clearly been a spectacular black eye.

Me:  That must have been a spectacular black eye.

Nice Young Man:  Yes!  Yes, it really was.  *laughs*  I got it on New Year's Eve.

Me: Oh no!

NYM:  Yes, I was in the wrong place at the wrong time.  Yeah....Bristol...

He stared off into space for a moment like a war veteran remembering the day they lost the company commander and the flag and all their rations.

Me:  Oh dear.  What happened?

NYM:  Well, we were in a pub in the wrong part of town, it turned out.  There were blokes betting in the pub, big stacks of £20 notes all over the table.   (Note - this is illegal in the UK, so clearly a dodgy pub if it was going on in full public view.)   Anyway, one of the blokes must have thought he was being cheated because a huge full-scale bar-room brawl broke out!  One minute we were having a quiet drink, the next minute there's pool balls flying across the room!

Me:  Wow!  What did you do?

NYM:  Legged it.

I took my new shoes and left, greatly cheered by his tale of drunken Bristolian idiots walloping each other.

Other news:  Mr WithaY has traded up and got himself an iPhone.   Yesterday afternoon, I was fortunate enough to be party to the long and infinitely complex "Transferring of the Phone Number" ritual.

When I did it, there was one step - ring O2 and say "please will you transfer my phone number to the new SIM card that is going into my iPhone?"  and it took about 6 minutes in total.

When Mr WithaY did it, it was like watching an ancient and venerated ceremony, the kind  invented by monks living in a remote mountain monastary, where time passes slowly and they like to fill their days keeping busy.

Step 1:  Ring O2 on the landline.  (Important Note:  We have no mobile reception in our house.)  Ask them to transfer the old number to the new SIM card.  Explain why you have called them on the landline, not the mobile.

Step 2:  Provide O2 with the old phone number.

Step 3:  Provide O2 with some verification that the number is actually yours.  They generally ask for the amount of credit you have on your account, which you can obtain from your phone by pressing a combination of keys, including the STAR key.  (Important Note:  The STAR key on Mr WithaY's phone doesn't work. )

Step 4:  Take landline phone and mobile phone into front garden to try and get a signal on the mobile, while trying to make the broken STAR key work to get the outstanding credit balance.

Step 5:  Inform the O2 helpdesk that there is barely any battery left in the mobile now.  (Important Note:  Mr WithaY lost the phone charger several weeks ago, which was one of the reasons he decided to trade up to an iPhone.  That and the broken STAR key.)

Step 6:  Have long, increasingly stressful discussion with the helpful O2 person  to explain that you can't get your outstanding balance figure from your phone because the STAR key doesn't work and you have no signal anyway.  And the battery is about to run out.

Step 7:  O2 person tries a different verification question and asks which numbers you dial the most often on your mobile.  Try to remember, before finally giving them a number.  They then tell you that that number has not been called recently enough to be used as verification.

Step 8:  The O2 supervisor is called in to the conversation.

Step 9:  Send a text to the "frequently called" number to validate your claim that you use it often. This entails another trip into the front garden to try and pick up a mobile signal, clutching two phones, trying to text before the battery dies completely.

Step 10:  Success!  Your number has been transferred.  And it only took an hour and a half.

Step 11:  Have a nice cup of tea and a sit-down.

Step 12:  Spend the rest of the afternoon dicking about with your shiny new iPhone.  Marvellous.

Other, other news:  I am drafting some patterns for Medieval clothing which I have been asked to make.  A jacket and a sleeveless waistcoat-y type jacket (pourpoint?), to be exact.  Anyone with any advice or practical experience on this matter, please feel free to share.

*He didn't shoot the elk.  Turns out you can buy elk hides online.  Who knew?


Mrs Jones said...

Re. National Insurance payments - mine are taken by direct debit every month. I can't now remember whether I set that up or they did, but I recommend it. It's not much per month, £8 or so?

KAZZ said...

I like a man whose "boots" match the rug...& I REALLY like that rug!!

Doll said...

you are such a fantastic writer .... natural humor :)
write a humorous medieval romance pls....

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Isabella Golightly said...

I might be able to help out with the costume-thingies, but not tonight. Take two aspirin & call me in the morning.

livesbythewoods said...

Mrs J, I will look into it, thank you.

Kazz, is that a euphemism? And thank you, we bought the rug in Turkey, many years ago.

Doll - thank you! Not sure I can deliver on your requirements though, sorry. There'd be too much swearing.

Isabella, marvellous.