Upon nearly reaching 65

Be it known to all that upon Wednesday next I will arrive at the grand old age of 65.  This used to be a major life point, when one was officially recognised as “old”, and could amongst other benefits travel free upon the omnibus.  However, due no doubt to budget considerations, Her Majesty’s Government has decided to postpone this “milestone” for a further six months in my case.

Therefore I similarly intend to postpone my celebrations until 1st November when (Brexit permitting), the parsimonious Department of Work and Pensions will commence repaying some of my contributions to their coffers over the last 47 years.

No doubt I shall have to make an application, but I have been preparing for this eventuality for some time…

I am lucky.  My wife’s original expectations have been delayed for more than six years!

A little community service

Some months ago I offerred the use of my 4×4 vehicle to the local NHS hospital group for emergency transport.

I did this partly because I owe my life to the people in this hospital.

Last week I repeated the offer and was sent a form to complete and return with proof of insurance and a driving livence.

These  I returned around 1 pm today.

At around 6 pm I got my first call-out.  Unfortunately, arriving without ID (and incidentally without fuel or wallet) I had to return home and then re-present  myself as a competent human.

Strangely by the time I returned (having incidentally in the meantime towed an AA van out of the snow) nobody was interested in ID, leaving it to patient discretion.

I took one patient home and returned to the hospital, after picking up a walker who was heading for the rail station having abandoned his car about 10 miles away.

The centre of Basingstoke was like an ice rink.  I would not have wished to attempt it in anything less than our multi-functional 4×4.  I did some neat pirhouettes in the Shogun!

My final trip was to overload my car with NHS staff who were of necessity booked into a local hotel.

I expect to be summoned again at afound 06:30 this morning to fetch outlying NHS staff andtransport them to work.

Signing off at 00:40 (about 3 hours after my normal bedtime.

 

Old Technology

Found in the attic

While digging out our advent tree from the attic I came across my old portable typewriter.

I bought this machine from Argos en route to a re-enactment event in the late 1980s or early 1990s, simply because I was the “Adjutant” for Sir Thomas Blackwell’s Regiment of the English Civil War Society at the time and the monthly newsletter was due the next week.

Photographs exist of me, dressed as a 17th century peasant, furiously typing away at the front of my tent on a Saturday evening in order to meet the copy deadline.

The following Monday evening would see me at our office photocopier running off 100 copies, followed by a late session folding, stapling and enveloping the results.

On Tuesday I would print the address labels and get stuff posted.

Aah, those were the days…

Banks!!

Today I was notified that a mobile telephone company had previously taken, and is planning to take, payments from my account for a telephone that has been destroyed, the account closed, and for which all direct debit authorities have been cancelled.  I have today again cancelled the direct debit authority using my bank’s online facility, just as I did before.

My bank informs me that I can cancel the direct debit authority, but the payee may revoke the cancellation and take the money in any case.  That is not how I understood the agreement with my bank and I am disputing it.

The agreement was for a flat fee of £5.00 per month, including a set level of calls.  The telephone was destroyed some months ago, so why did they take without authority £9.88 last month and intend to take £5.19 next month?

Quotes

“Direct Debit is the safest way to make payments in the UK. The Direct Debit Guarantee gives you a right to immediate refunds for any payments which shouldn’t have been taken.” (Gocardless.co.uk)

“Money shouldn’t be collected from your account after you have cancelled and under the Scheme rules, an organisation would have to obtain your authority to reinstate a cancelled Instruction.” (www.directdebit.co.uk/DirectDebitExplained)

“Yes you cancel it anytime , we never will stop you for that, but the signed agreement is with virgin , you can control standing orders but direct debits are all governed by the companies with whom you have the set up.” (HSBC chatline 30/10/2018)

So, I assume that Virgin Media is simply ignoring the agreement and making up its own numbers each month, and that HSBC cannot be bothered to dispute the fact that I said “No more.”

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Since posting I have spent over an hour failing to create a user account on the Virgin Mobile website so that I can register a formal complaint.

 

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It’s a small world

Last Friday I visited my sister, who lost her husband on Tuesday 16th October, following an operation for aggressive bladder cancer.

Visiting my sister and going through some personal paperwork it transpired that the surgeon who tried to save her husband was the same man who successfully operated on me almost a year ago.   Clearly I survived my prostate cancer, but sadly Chris was more seriously afflicted and did not.  He was in the High Dependency Unit for some days before finally giving up.

A secondary “small world” connection was discovered   when going through Chris’s address book.  It turns out that an old friend of his in the folk music scene married a chap who was on the same organising committee as I was in a re-enactment society.

We have never been close in a personal sense, but it seems that we were in fact more closely linked than either of us knew.

 

Life and wargaming – an update

In addition to making a little progress on the longest running wargame move I have ever experienced – the Battle for Brighton currently set up in my cold, damp shed – I Brighton 18 0815 front lineshave had a few wargaming and other diversions.

The builders have finished restoring our house. Their company has closed the case. A pity nobody has thought to inform the scaffolding company that their decoration to our property is no longer required.
Just a bit more arguing with the insurer’s agents about replacing the gravel removed from the side of the house and maybe we can bring the caravan home.

gravel

The new man-cave…shed

is going to have a new roof, yes – already! Half of the second botched covering over the first leaky roofing blew away in the recent storms. I have hired a professional company (who re-roofed both my lost sheds) to torch on a decent roof. I do have electricity, and therefore heating, installed. When the wargame is finished I can continue with putting up shelving.

My hospital check-up revealed that my cancer was further advanced than the doctors or surgeons had expected. They believe they removed it all, but further tests towards the end of February should confirm or deny the fact. It is some relief, but still a nagging doubt.  Things in the underpant department are no longer as they used to be.

(No photo here. I think it may be inappropriate!).

So, back to the wargaming.
Projects that have emerged from my in-tray recently and been progressed:

1. Preparation of 3mm scale counter-mounted replacement gaming tokens for “Memoir 44” games, in particular Arras 1940. A lot of the infantry are on back order from Magister Militum, but most of the artillery and tank units are based, and some are painted. I have designed the bases to be used with “Memoir 44” and “Panzer Leader” rules on the same boards. I also have 3mm scenic models to be used with 3D terrain for World War II

new units

2. The naval Battle of Sevastopol, 1902. Part of my “Diplomacy plus” solo campaign and covered in this post.

3. Basing and painting my 2mm horse-and-musket cavalry units in preparation for the next campaign battle in 1702. Each unit needs three sets of bases: Deployed, March column and Routing. Each cavalry base is around 50 “figures”. Eventually this will represent a troop, but for the next game will be 1/3 of a regiment (maybe a squadron?).

DSCF0003

4. Painting my bargain basement 20mm plastic 30 Years War figures in preparation to introduce the younger chaps in my English Civil War Society cavalry unit to the joys of playing with soldiers. I am developing a game on a squared card table that I call “Battle Chess”. It will be a bit like a table-top version of a re-enactment battle, but with dice, and the casualties will not be recycled! Rules to follow after play-testing. (No photo yet)

5. Preparing the 3mm models for the first engagement in my Operation Market Garden campaign. Gough’s jeeps against a similar number of obsolete armoured cars. The scenario calls for only 3 models on each side, but I have 15 of each – should I shrink the ground scale and quintuple the chaos? – answers on a postcard please (or reply to this post).

To be fair, most of the recent progress has been painting the black bits on all the models in preparation. By using the “next paint pot in the queue” method I don’t get so bored, even if every painting project takes an age to complete.

 

 

 

Health update – cancer surgery

Today I went for my six-week post-operation review.
One hour later than expected I sat with Mr Matthew Perry at the Royal Surrey Hospital.

They had successfully removed my prostate and surrounding lymph nodes at the end of November.  It appears that the size of the cancer in the prostate was larger than expected from earlier tests and scans, and that it had broken through from the prostate.

There is no evidence that it has spread to surrounding areas but it cannot be ruled out.

After a further four weeks I must have another PSA check.
PSA is a bit like carbon-dating. After the prostate ceases functioning, PSA degrades by 50% every few days and by 10 weeks should be down to 0.1.

If it is any higher or if other tests show a continuing growth we may be looking at radiotherapy.

I have to organise another blood test at my local surgery.
I believe the NHS now have more of my blood than I do.

Test results will be presented to me in about 5 weeks time.  So I have another month of fun and relaxation before I know the best or worst that can happen.  Oh joy!