2009 retrospective

It’s been an interesting year. The biggest news would be the death of the Big C, my dad, in November. His health had been poor for a long time, but the fact is that we’d been expecting it for so long that we’d kind of stopped expecting it. The family came together really well and dealt with what had to be done. I used AA a lot then and got to meetings most days. Special thanks to my staff at the PO for taking over at such short notice and letting me spend time with the family.

Another big event would be my operation. My fourth toe had been bothering me for years and was now at the stage where I was seeing the podiatrist every month and enduring pain pretty much all the time. That led to my being prescribed Tramadol, to which I have been addicted ever since. But that’s a story for this year. I was booked in to hospital in August for an operation to have my joint removed and my toe pinned and straightened. It took six weeks before I had the pin removed and I’m pleased to say that it worked and, so far, I’ve been able to wear my orthopaedic boots every day with very little pain. Of course I still get the pain in my leg, but that’s here to stay.

Big news for me was being asked to join a bluegrass band. This is something that I’d wanted to do since the first Little Brother Jam in Georgia, USA that I attended in 2004. We’re called the Saggy Bottom Boys and we played two support gigs in summer at the revived Arran Folk Festival, once supporting Lunasa and once supporting Aly Bain and Phil Cunningham. it was a blast and two of the best nights of my life. And we ended the year by playing a headline gig at a Hogmanay party in a local hotel. Next year we’re headlining a gig at the folk festival and it’s so much fun. I hope we manage to keep it going! I’m playing a lot of mandolin in the band and am enjoying that a lot. I’m so glad that I got Heiner to build me one before we left Lux.

In August some of my pals were over camping and got flooded out during the night. They called us at about 6 in the morning and Lorraine went to rescue them. It was quite funny actually, but probably not at the time.

In November we managed to get away for a proper family holiday. We had two weeks in Tenerife and it was really great.

The AA meetings on the island have got better this year, at least for me personally. I’m not sure how I’d have got through this year without it.

Workwise, things have gone all right for me. We’re slightly up on last year in terms of shop takings, but costs are higher too so I’m not sure whether we’ve done any better. One good decision I had was back in November when I decided to start doing computer repairs and upgrades. I’ve had a few clients already and hopefully that will continue into 2010. I suppose I’m slightly better at being a boss, but I’m still not really where I’d like to be. I suppose I just have to carry on being myself and using my program when I need it.

Lorraine quit being a postie and went back to the translation. It’s not ideal but it just wasn’t working out. She’s had a reasonable amount of work this year, including a few all-nighters. She even got asked to join the Peer Group and was accepted so she’s now a full member, which means more money per page. Hopefully that will make a difference in 2010.

Our last au pair left just before Christmas and we’re going to try and go without one now. Lorraine’s got a TV and some toys set up in her office and we’re going to see how we get on. It will save us some money and hopefully allow us to pay back a few debts.

And speaking of debts, we finally managed to pay of the Luxembourg tax man. it was a big worry but we got a back payment for our tax credits and almost managed to clear the whole debt with that. So it’s a happy day to be going in to the new year with all that behind us. Of course we miss our friends from Lux, but it feels good to have that chapter finally closed and we can get on with remembering the good times.

Freya started P1 this year and Hamish started nursery. Freya loves school and is growing up so fast. She’s a constant delight to us. As we go into the year, Hamish is really starting to open up and is speaking a lot more in coherent sentences. He’s still an awkward little boy at times, but I suppose I am too! He’s almost toilet trained; still having trouble with number twos, but hopefully he’ll get the hang of it soon.

I had a bad experience when my main PC finally bit the dust and I went for an upgrade. I bought components from overclockers.co.uk and had a horrendous experience. The components were dead on arrival and they got me to send them back one at a time, each process taking around three weeks and costing me a fortune in postage. Finally I bent pins on the broken replacment motherboard they sent me and they wouldn’t give me a refund because it had been over 28 days since I placed the order. Well of course it was; it took three weeks to send back the CPU and another three for the first faulty motherboard. I wound up buying the components again from a reputable supplier, Kustom PCs in Ayr, which is what I should have done in the first place. I got the broken motherboard repaired by the manufacturer and so now I’ve got a spare quad core, 8 gigs of DDR2 and motherboard. It took so long that by then the i7 chip was available so I went for that DDR3. I was going to write a long rant against overclockers, but just never got round to it. I really should have done, so that others would hear what I had to say and avoid them. If you read this and are thinking of using overclockers, please think again. They’re fine when the bits that they send actually work, but when you need support, they are the worst I’ve ever dealt with.

On good side though I finally got an iPhone. Of course the signal on Arran is dreadful on O2 and I should probably have waited until this month when they come out on Vodafone, but I’ve heard the Vodafone tariffs are far higher and I’m stuck on O2 for two years now anyway. It’s nice having a phone that I actually use, when I can get a signal, and it makes a fantastic remote for the Squeezebox players.

A few weeks ago I auditioned for a part in Guys and Dolls and was offered the part of Nicely Nicely Johnson. So that’s something to look forward to in 2010.

I’ll also be trying to come off the pain killers in early 2010 and am not looking forward to it. Maybe I’ll end up just staying on them. And I need to get back into swimming in the mornings too.

I’m also taking on the Folk Festival web site, so that’s a big job for 2010. I might also get the County Carpets site to work on, so I may finally have to go through my PHP book. All good skills to learn and if the computer business expands, I’ll be able to afford to spend less time in the PO and give the girls more hours. It’s all speculation just now, but you never know. I might even start earning a wage myself!

So, that’s about it for 2009. If I think of anything else I’ll add it to this. That’s the beauty of the web: nothing’s that is published has to stay unchanged!

Happy New Year a’body!