I’m not exactly excited about local elections, because they are incredibly boring, but I am quite interested to see the overall results.
In national polls, Labour has a really big lead. But Labour’s lead is almost entirely due to the collapse of the Conservatives and the zero sun nature of two party politics. I think the Tories fully deserve their terrible polling figures, and I think that Labour does not at all deserve their strong figures.
So what does that actually look like in an election? Locals are obviously a bit removed from national polling, but my suspicion is Labour will underperform and the real winner will be the Lib Dems who will pick up a lot of “neither of those, please” votes. But I have been known to be completely wrong.
We’ll find out on Friday!
I’m currently lying in bed listening to some very heavy rain hitting the windows. Monty has decided he doesn’t like heavy rain now. It never used to bother him but now he’s older he’s getting more sensible. This will present a challenge with his morning toileting.
I’m most of the way through the Sopranos S4 now. I am still conflicted about it. It’s mostly a series about people eating. In between meals there are occasional bouts of extremely violent crime. I mostly see it as a bizarre sitcom which lets me mostly overlook the fact that all the characters are horrible and dysfunctional. Also, the product placement is a form of comedy in itself.
In other news, politics! Well I’m not going to vote Tory either way so it doesn’t make a whole lot of difference to me, but my thoughts are: If Rishi Sunak actually runs then he’s inept. He has a much brighter future in two years time as opposition leader than spending two years now being PM on somebody else’s mandate with a trashed party reputation and a worsening economy. But actually I do think he’s inept so I think he’ll go for it now. 🤷♂️
A couple of weeks ago my boss casually mentioned he was thinking of getting everyone into the office for a day later this month. Apparently this hasn’t happened, but it made me speed up my new job plans, which then promptly petered out when no more was said. I’ve had well over 100 messages from recruiters, but it’s hard to read through any of them and think “yes, I want that job in particular!”. And that’s assuming they tell you anything; about half of them are just “Hi, I’ve got a great opportunity, what’s your phone number?”. I still can’t believe how annoying it is to deal with recruiters and potential employers. They make it such a hassle. I’m busy, I’m tired and I already have a job… make it easy for me or I’m not going to bother.
One of the other things that puts me off slightly at the moment is that inflation is such a moving target. Various places are predicting that it will reach about 20%. I keep seeing comments online of people who thought they were clever accepting a new job for a 10% pay rise, and then seeing that inflation has already outpaced that. Hmm.
In other news! It appears Liz Truss is going to be our next prime minister. I struggle to feel emotionally invested in politics lately, but anyway… I stand by my initial assessment that Liz Truss comes across as a simpleton, but I still find her preferable to Rishi Sunak. With Rishi, you’re certain he’s going to be terrible, whereas with Liz, there’s just that little chance…
After a few weeks of relatively heavy running load… I have runner’s knee 🤦♂️. Which is to say a vague ache around the kneecap. I don’t think I’ve ever had this before. My hip and hamstring had been tight for a week or so, so that’s probably what caused it, along with high volume. I did intervals on Wednesday (3x1km, 2x400m, 4x200m) which felt OK while I was running but on the dog walk later I could feel some pressure around the kneecap so I haven’t run since. I bought some resistance bands and have been doing lateral walks and monster walks all round the house to work my hips, so I’m hoping that will fix it. It feels OK again now, except it was a tiny bit achy when I woke up this morning. I’ll try a few kilometres later and see how it feels…
The Conservative leadership election! Is it just me or do the candidates seem a bit… low quality? And there are so many of them! We have Sunak, who raised taxes during a period of high inflation, while his wife was using non-domiciled status to avoid taxes. Oh and he also broke the law while chancellor, and he’s campaigning on a ticket of fixing the economy… despite being in charge of the economy for the last few years 😕. He has strong backing within the party 😕😕😕, which I can only infer is the result of widespread substance abuse in Westminster. Javid has previously avoided taxes by claiming non-dom status. Zawahi is currently under investigation over his tax arrangements. Then we’ve got Hunt whose entire thing is standing at the side trying to look like the adult in the room, rather than doing anything to prove that he is – remember how that worked out with Theresa May? Braverman seems to think the right to be horrible to trans people is the most pressing political issue of our time, which I find completely baffling because a) it’s really nasty, and b) it’s a total fringe issue that affects so few people. Grant Shapps somehow managed to be the only candidate to say something sensible on the trans matter (“I don’t think it’s important, let people live their lives”) but he has rather a dubious history in other matters. And then finally Liz Truss just comes across as a simpleton.
They go through multiple rounds of MPs voting until there’s only two left, then it goes to the membership, who tend to have substantially different (read: more insane) opinions than MPs. It looks like it’ll be Rishi Sunak vs someone else, and I think it’s fairly likely that Rishi will lose because he’s not insane. I hope it’s not Braverman.
I don’t really get the apparent push that COVID is alright now and we just need to go back to normal and it’ll be fine. My boss’s dad died of COVID this week. It’s strange to see the contrast between people saying that it’s harmless and someone one degree removed from me dying from it. It looks like the push to open up again is coming from Boris Johnson trying to placate backbenchers to distract away from the ongoing disaster that is himself.
And on the topic of Boris, then there’s the National Insurance increase. I’m kind of annoyed about this if I’m honest. I don’t feel that the quality of services we get in the UK for our level of tax burden is a good deal. The NHS in particular worries me a lot since COVID. When I last needed a GP appointment, I had to wait about 30-45 minutes on the phone to speak to a receptionist and then the best they could give me was a telephone appointment a month later. It’s not so much a big thing for me personally, but my parents are getting older and it worries me that they will be deterred from seeking medical services should they need it. But overall it’s just a horrible policy that takes money from people who don’t vote Conservative (i.e. working aged people) while shielding those who do (i.e. pensioners).
Anyway… It prompted me to do some sums. I pay into a personal pension and a workplace pension. The workplace pension is salary sacrifice, but the personal pension is a better fund with lower fees. Obviously I get income tax relief on both, but the workplace pension is salary sacrifice so I also pay less NI as my taxable income is lower. It turns out that if I took all the money I put each month into my personal pension and instead paid it through my workplace pension, I would pay quite a bit less NI after the increase than I do now. And I can transfer it every so often into the private pension where the fees are lower. I hadn’t ever thought about doing this before. So… thanks, Boris?
In other news, it’s been a strange few weeks as Monty hasn’t been very well. Not last week but the week before, he woke up from his nap Tuesday morning and threw up. He looked unwell for a couple of hours and then perked up and seemed fine, until Thursday evening when he started vomiting again and had diarrhoea. I always knew that having a dog would involve it sometimes, but ideally you want this kind of thing in the morning so you don’t end up wandering around the garden multiple times during the night while your dog empties himself at both ends. We took him to the vet Friday morning but by the afternoon he seemed quite happy again… until Monday evening when we pretty much had a repeat of Thursday night. But he’s been OK since then and seems back to his lively self, so hopefully he’s got rid of it! According to my mum there was a post on the local Facebook group about such a bug going around and a few people noted the on and off nature of it, so I think he just picked something up. He’s only six months old so I guess you have to expect this kind of thing until his immune system is a bit more experienced. Plus, this is a dog who enjoys splashing in his water bowl with his muddy paws before deciding he’s thirsty and starts to drink the now brown water. He’s not really big on hygiene.
Hopefully we’ll be OK from now on… I have been quite worried about him at times. We’ve only had him four months but it seems like an eternity now. It feels like you very quickly develop an unconditional love for him. Maybe it helps that he’s so cute 🤫
Apparently the interview went well and I have a second interview on Friday. I was surprised to see the calendar invitation for this, because it’s with three people but it is only scheduled for 30 minutes. 30 minutes with three people, two of whom I haven’t met before? That sounds very positive to me. It sounds less like an interview and more like a formality.
Then the doubts creep in a bit and I thought “well, what if the duration is just set incorrectly and he actually meant to put an hour and 30 minutes”. And I don’t actually know that they’re not inviting anyone else for a second interview (I know they interviewed at least 3 people, including me).
So I don’t know, but it seems promising.
Also, I don’t usually do politics here, but freezing income tax thresholds until 2026? Yikes! That’s going to bite people.
I have to say that the way the US election turned out yesterday was one of the funniest things I’ve heard. Donald Trump’s lawyer gave a press conference in the car park of a small garden landscaping centre called Four Seasons Landscaping, seemingly because the only explanation that makes sense is somebody got it mixed up with the luxury Four Seasons Hotel and they had to go with it. There is much political parody and satire, but I don’t think the writers of any of them would ever have dreamt up this. I’m impressed by Rudy Giuliani. I don’t think I would be if I was American, but being sufficiently separated from the situation, I can admire his professionalism and enthusiasm while advancing completely unconvincing arguments that lesser men would find distasteful. He’s a great PR man. Not sure I’d want him as a lawyer though.
I spoke to my GP on Friday and they said it was fine for me to restart Citalopram using the tablets I already have. Then I felt better on Friday and thought “maybe not then”. Then in the middle of a run on Saturday my mind just made the decision to start them again.
I think that I feel a lot of stress with working from home and also thinking about my next job and when is the correct time to start moving on to that. I feel stress with my current job because I don’t perceive that the project I’m on is being managed as well as it could be, and the requirements aren’t very well thought through. I guess that’s normal, but I feel that work gets dumped on me without really being thought through. In my previous job I was more involved with discussion around requirements and their implications. Ironically, I had a more senior level of responsibility in my previous job, though a much less senior level of salary. I think with working from home (well, let’s note here that it’s not WFH, it’s poor communication from the company) I feel more disconnected from what’s actually going on, but not disconnected from the responsibility to continue to deliver results.
So I am back on them, as of yesterday morning. Yesterday evening I had some nausea but nothing too bad. Today I’ve felt absolutely terrible because I’ve suddenly had terrible allergies? I took the tablet about 10AM and from about 12-4PM I felt like I had a heavy cold, but it seems to have settled now. It’s probably a coincidence, I’ve been having minor trouble with allergies for a few weeks.
Anyway, I feel a bit more settled for making that decision.
I also tried to contact a physio last week but I got no response so I’m not sure if they’re actually open at the moment 🤔
Today I had one of those incredibly frustrating work days where you spend hours looking at something without really achieving much. The problem with working from home is that it’s very tempting to keep on working past your hours on such days, just to try to make a little bit of progress. I stopped myself from doing that, but it was a conscious decision not to spend my evening reading Elasticsearch documentation. Even now as I’m getting ready to sleep I still have that slightly fidgety anxious energy from being frustrated and wanting to do something useful. But at least I recognise it, I suppose.
Around this time four years ago I remember thinking that I’d be a bit disappointed if I woke up the next day and Hillary Clinton won. It just seemed like a boring outcome. Which I suppose is also why she didn’t win. I haven’t been following it this time around and I think I’m completely fatigued on UK politics from the last few years, but I’m still curious to find out the result. My prediction is a safe win for Biden. And some tantrums.