Wednesday, 19 October 2011

Its Time to Face Facts

I was reading the Telegraph online this morning and had a hallelujah moment. Finally, someone has had the gumption to voice an increasingly worrying issue.  The Governor of the Bank of England, Mervyn King, has said what the politicians of this world have so far either been in denial regarding or have been too scared to say … the truth that even with decisive action in the global economy, there may be no way to avoid a second recession.

Now Mervyn is a bit of a hero to me and the decision by the then Chancellor, Gordon Brown (another hero of mine) and the Labour Government to make the Bank of England independent was to my mind inspired. Anything to wind up the Tories is a good thing anyway, but to take that decision making out of the Government’s hands is the only thing, in my opinion, that has so far stopped a double dip recession for the UK economy. It certainly has not been the actions of Cameron et al. King has remained calm in the face of mounting descent within the Monetary Policy Committee, insisting that interest rates should remain low and he was right. I strongly suspect that had interest rates remained within the Government’s control – in particular a Tory dominated Government - we would be looking at around 2-3% interest and possibly higher, rather than the record long time low of 0.5%

For savers such as my grandparents, this is catastrophic. However as someone with a very large mortgage, of course I would say the rate decisions made are a good thing. When I bought my house I was paying £600 a month in interest alone. Now this is £160 a month and I can’t deny is one reason we have kept our heads afloat in very tough times. How many other people are in the same situation as me and just how many more bankruptcies and repossessions would there have been? It would be interesting to be able to take inspiration from the film “Sliding Doors” and see just how the economy would have compared had interest rates risen in comparison with reality.

Much of the blame for the current global economic crisis MUST fall on both the politicians of this world and the banking sector generally, but we must also shoulder some of the blame. In terms of politicians, these are split into 2 camps – those who have not done enough for whatever reason (Obama, the Governments of Greece, Portugal, Spain and in general the governance of the EU) and those who have just gone too far the other way implementing austerity measures (UK). There is no denying something had to be done regarding the mounting debt crisis. In fact remaining in denial is one of the reasons the global stock markets have done a pretty good imitation of a roller coaster recently, but going too far with cutbacks like the UK government has done has done just as much damage. Growth is falling and unemployment rising. Keeping interest rates low was supposed to stimulate new business – allowing the budding entrepreneurs the confidence and ability to get investment for their ventures. Instead it appears the banks have sounded a resounding “no” – is this fear of creating another banking crisis or something more sinister?

This brings me on to why we, the general public should shoulder the blame. In my four days at university last week, the banking crisis was one of the subjects we covered. We discussed at length whether the banks really were at fault, or if all they were doing was supplying consumer demand? It was consumers around the world driving the demand for debt – at any point we could have turned round and said no to that $1million dollar house, the new car, the 5th credit card, but our global greed got in the way initially, then our need to maintain that level of spending compounded the issue. Whilst I was one of the first to voice my annoyance at the banks as early as 2006, as time has gone on I have increasingly accepted that maybe they were not wholly to blame. What business in its right mind would have turned round and said “I am sorry I am not accepting your business?” For the banks, it’s the manner in which it was done – the lack of responsibility, but that is true of us, the buying public too.

Only time will tell if our national government as well as global leaders come round to the same way of thinking as King. The longer they take in making that realisation, the harder it will be to come back from the inevitable double dip recession and the greater the risk of a global version of Japan’s “Lost Decade” happening.

Tuesday, 18 October 2011

Four Years On...

So 4 years after my last blog and I am back again. A lot has happened in those intervening years.

I am still battling the thyroid issues in my last blog to the point that in Mid-2010 I was seriously ill until my doctor doubled my medication. I have now been stable for a year which has given me time to deal with a new health issue – Irlen Syndrome, but more of that in a moment. 

Aside from that, the last 4 years has seen me be proposed to, get married, achieve a foundation degree, start a masters course and successfully complete my 1st year, be promoted 2 grades, nearly made redundant, headhunted, become a dog owner and I am now contemplating starting a family! Now, after a detour via the North West for a year, I am back in my Sheffield Office getting to grips with a totally new payroll system. What I do now isn’t a career decision, but a survival one in tough times and a chance to complete my MBA with the minimum of further stress on my health…Which brings me to Irlen Syndrome.

Many of my symptoms - tiredness, aching eyes, headaches, poor concentration and clumsiness - I had put down to my thyroid disorder, but this was blown out of the water a few months ago on hearing everything was stable - so what was wrong with me? A good friend of mine had been saying for years that I had "light sensitivity" but I constantly brushed it aside, not as nonsense as such, but more due to having enough to deal with already. Things came to a head a couple of months ago I was struggling to read not only for my MBA, but also for pleasure. This was heartbreaking as I have always been a big reader. This was followed by 5 consecutive days where I travelled home from work in severe distress and pain. Since then I have officially been diagnosed (more details here: and am now taking steps to resolve my issues by removing fluorescent lighting as much as I can and printing on blue instead of white paper as immediate changes to my environment.

It’s a struggle dealing with both the underactive thyroid and Irlen. Generally I am fit and well, I just tire slightly more easily and have to take steps to protect myself in certain environments. Additionally having both an illness and a disability that people can't see is stressful no least because of people’s perception. I have had my fair share of hypochondriac comments and "why didn't you sort this out sooner" remarks. The question is - in today's breakneck society, how do you know when something like this jumps up to bite you? How many people are walking around out there struggling with something they can't put their finger on as I have done for more years than I want to count?

So next time your friend/work colleague/family member says that for whatever reason they just don't feel right - listen to them as they may have a point...

Thursday, 13 October 2011

I'm Normal!!!

Originally posted 4th September 2007 on MySpace

So…. I thought it time to write a new blog.

Some of you may have noticed I've not been too vocal on myspace for a little while. Well there is a reason for this and it's not because I don't want to talk to you all lol…

For about 10 years I have not felt "right" for want of a better word. I have become increasingly tired and have put on weight without really knowing why. Although it was annoying, I could live with it until about 2 years ago when things started to get a whole lot worse. I started to forget things and slur my speech (and I don't even drink… much lol). I would have tremendous trouble concentrating to the point that it has affected my work at times. I also suffered from mild depression on and off, which along with the concentration problem made it very difficult for me to keep up with myspace and my other internet friends as I just didn't have the patience, the energy or the motivation. I would wake up with awful headaches that would sometimes last all day and would regularly lose my voice and fall over for no reason. Most frightening of all… about 2 months ago I developed a lump in my throat and a pain in my chest.

So… about 6 weeks ago I went to my doctor… He said the pain in my chest was most likely just a strained muscle as everything sounded ok, but he would do a full blood test just to make sure. So off I went to see the most evil nurse in Rotherham to have the test done (she practically impaled me!). The results were back within a couple of days so off I went back to the doctor… There was a 3 day gap between the surgery phoning me and me actually being able to get an appointment. In that time I went from thinking I'm probably just a bit run down, to thinking I maybe had something a bit more serious like a virus to finally thinking I had some sort of brain tumour!!!

Those 3 days felt like an eternity… I was even more tired because I wasn't sleeping because of the worry, which then made all the other symptoms worse as well. When I finally got the doctors Phil had to come with me because I was a gibbering wreck. So… I went in, sat down and was told that the reason I felt so tired and had all the other symptoms was because I had an under active thyroid. Nothing life threatening. It's not even really that much of an issue as long as there is a treatment plan in place. I then let rip at the doctor as there is no reason why when the surgery rang they couldn't have said that it's nothing life threatening at the very least and in fairness he apologised profusely for worrying me so much. He explained that the lump in my throat is because my thyroid has become enlarged and the chest pain was due to general muscle pains you get with an under active thyroid. The doctor said he wanted to do another blood test and an ECG to make absolutely sure, which came back and confirmed the diagnosis.

So I am now on a hormone called thyroxine. For those who are not medically inclined, an under active thyroid is basically where the thyroid does not produce enough thyroid hormones. This has wide ranging effects on the body especially affecting my metabolism which is the reason I have put on weight. By taking thyroxine I am putting into my body the hormone my body cannot make on its own. It will take a little time for the tablets to work – 2 weeks minimum, but the lump in my throat already seems to be going down slightly and I do feel a bit more energetic. I am aware that this could be because psychologically it's what I expect the tablets to do though! Although I will now be on this medication for the rest of my life, I am only taking something my body should be making naturally and I am not taking a nasty cocktail of chemicals. This means apart from taking a tiny little tablet every day for the rest of my life, there should be no effect on the way I live. To me this is a very small price to pay to finally have an answer as to why I have felt the way I do for so long.

Thank you to you all, my dear myspace friends, for being so patient with me. If I had known there was something actually medically wrong with me I would have sorted this out some time ago but you feel a bit daft telling your doctor that you have gone to see him just because you feel tired! Well I did anyway lol. Some of you deserve a special mention for being so wonderfully supportive – Dave, J, Elaine, Nic and of course Phil who has been nothing short of an absolute diamond… but you have all helped me in your own special ways by just being my friend despite probably never realising anything was wrong!…. Thank you

If you are interested in knowing more about under active thyroids or thyroid problems in general, I have put some links below for you:

British Weather

Originally posted 26th June 2007 on MySpace

I don't know how many of you know what's happened with the weather in theYorkshire area so I thought I would blog my experiences….

First of all… I am ok. My house is high up on a hill and I am extremely lucky it hasn't been touched. As far as I know all my friends are ok, however a very dear friend of mine called me last night to say her house was ankle deep in water. She only moved there with her mother a matter of weeks ago and I just can't imagine how they are feeling this morning. I know there are others that I haven't been able to contact who are having the same problem. My thoughts are with you all...

In Hessle – just a couple of miles from where I used to live and where my parents still live -  a young man died in a drain while the emergency services fought for hours to rescue him. He was just trying to unblock it so his grandfathers house wouldn't flood. It's a terribly distressing image and something I just can't get out of my head this morning. My heartfelt condolences go out to his family and the emergency services that tried so hard to rescue him this morning.

The drive home last night was just horrendous. I live just 6 miles from where I work yet the journey took over 3 hours. I had to drive through nearly a foot of water at one point all the time praying my car would just keep going (she did!!!). Phil, who delivers gas canisters to pubs, cafes and restaurants to carbonate the beer and soft drinks, had spent most of the day in an area of Rotherham called Parkgate, and also at Meadowhall. Within a couple of hours of him leaving, Parkgate was under 6 feet of water and the River Don at Meadowhall burst its banks turning all roads into rivers.

To be truthful I have never seen anything like it. This morning it's like something out of a disaster movie. My drive to work was nearby an area of Sheffield called Brightside which is virtually next to Meadowhall. The area was just one big river last night. This morning the waters have subsided enough to drive nearby but there are cars and debris everywhere. Cars have been driven into the most bizarre of places just so the owners could keep them out of the water. Cars have been left with doors hanging open, giving the appearance that their owners only had seconds to get out of the water's path.

So this morning… my heart goes out to all of you whose homes and possessions have been damaged by the floods and whose places of work have suffered the same fate. This is the 3rd time in 2 weeks this has happened, although this is the worst of the 3 times, and in a 1st world country it is just not acceptable. For the amount we all pay in Council Tax our local councils should be doing more than just taking our money – they should be out clearing drains on a regular basis rather than as a panic measure when the water is rising. They should be stopping developers building on the traditional flood planes as when the rains come there is no no-where for the water to go. Most of all… they should have known this was coming and done more about it. The weather forecasters had said heavy rains were on their way yet still the council seem to be in a state of shock at what has happened. It is pathetic and we deserve better!

I have attached some links below in case any of you are interested in reading more

These are general overviews of the picture just a mile or so from my house, with some terrifying pictures:

The story of the man in the drain

Please take care everyone and I'll talk soon

Moving Story

Originally posted 14th March 2007 on MySpace

Well… we are finally in our house. Moving weekend as you know was 3rd and 4th March. We had a lorry for 2 days and they were manic!

We started off in Hull picking stuff up from my parents and grandparents before going to Chesterfield to finish emptying the flat. After off-loading in Rotherham we then had a 6-hour drive to South London to Phil's parents finally arriving about 2am on the Sunday. Spent Sunday packing up before getting back on the road about 4pm only to be stuck on the M25 for an hour!

Finally arrived back in Rotherham at 10pm. We had to unload that night because the lorry had to be back in Hull at 8.30 on the Monday morning so by the time we had done that we finally got to sleep – in the lorry as the house wasn't officially ours until the Monday – about 1am! We made it back to Hull about 15 minutes late which considering was a minor miracle!

Finally got the phone call from the solicitor about 10am to say the money was on its way to the vendors and the house would be all hours about 1pm when we could contact the estate agents for the keys. All a bit irrelevant as we had become good friends with the vendors so we already had the keys but still nice to know. 
So… we have been in the house 10 days and it looks like home. I had all last week off sorting and emptying boxes. There are still a fair few boxes to empty and the garage is a mess, but we are getting there.

We get connected to the Internet on Friday so until then my access is limited as I can only use it during my breaks at work. In the meantime, thank you to you all for your kind words, messages and support and I'll be replying properly as soon as I can.

It may have only taken us 7 weeks to move but it felt like 7 years and we are so glad it's all over. Here's to never moving again lol…

P.S. Most annoying moment of the last 2 weeks – the phone call to BT asking how much it would cost to get reconnected so we had telephone and internet access. I was told I could have a quote but had to pay £25 first before they could continue! It's ok though – I would have got it back with my first bill. Grrrrrr! Unsurprisingly we are going with cable instead (Virgin Media in fact), avoiding BT completely!

Big News

Originally posted 2nd February 2007 on MySpace

As you all know I have been out of touch recently – far more than is forgivable. There is a reason for this though and as promised here it is…

Phil and I have been house hunting. After 2 years together we decided the time was right to set down proper roots together. Well that and the fact our flat mates are scarily reminiscent of Gary and Tony from Men Behaving Badly and have friends who have voices like fog horns. Great at 3am when you have a 12 hours day at work the next day!!!

So about a month ago we starting checking out the internet for houses to go and look at. We had already decided we were moving to Rotherham – Phil works in Rotherham and my job in Sheffield is only a couple of miles away, so it would be great for us both. We chose about 7 to look at initially over one weekend. We promised each other at the outset that if ones of us wasn't happy then the house was a no… we both had to be happy. So on the Saturday we set off to Rotherham (where all the houses were)….

The 1st 2 houses were nice, but definite no's. They were either 2 small or needed just too much work doing on them. The 3rd and 4th houses were gorgeous. I loved them both but Phil just wasn't sure. Bearing in mind what we agreed in the first place I was disappointed, but we still had 3 more houses to see that weekend and we weren't expecting to find the right house on the first day of looking anyway.Then…. House number 5… Didn't look much from the outside. It ticked some boxes – garage and a good drive, plus it was in a nice, quiet area. Then we were taken into the 1st room of the house… the kitchen. All Phil and I both said was "wow". The kitchen alone would have sold it to us but every room just got better and better after that. I had had the beautiful kitchen I wanted so I was happy. There was just one more question mark – Phil had his heart set on a big garage. This was the last thing we saw and if there were any doubts about the house they were blown away at this point. The garage was HUGE!!!! A big double garage with a basement… Phil couldn't have dreamt such a perfect garage.

So we found our dream home… we said thank you to the vendors and walked back to the car. We managed to drive 5 minutes down the street before Phil stopped. We both looked at each other and said yes, that was the one. We tried the estate agents but they were shut. We didn't want to lose the house so drove straight back to it and offered the vendors the selling price there and then. We were accepted immediately!

The best part is we are first time buyers so we don't have to worry about selling a property before we move. The couple who currently own the house are emigrating to Australia and the sooner they can go the better, which brings me to today.

We saw the house 3 weeks ago tomorrow and we have been waiting this long for our mortgage advisor to secure a mortgage for us. Thanks to interest rate rises in the UK, plus a few other issues, this has been nothing short of hard work and has taken a lot of work by our mortgage advisor and a lot of money and patience on our part. However… the call finally came at 4.50pm this evening – we got the mortgage and the offer is in the post to us. All that is left now is for the solicitor to sort out the legal stuff. Completion date is hopefully going to be 1st March 2007, with Phil and I moving in that weekend.

It feels so good to finally tell you all… My superstitious nature meant I couldn't bring myself to say too much in case I jinx it all which is one of the biggest reasons both myself and Phil have been in hiding. Things can still go wrong, but the hardest part – actually getting the money for the house – is done. Hopefully it's all plain sailing from here…


Originally posted 29th November 2006 on MySpace

Well I thought it well overdue for another blog post. Today's subject, children, is fate…

It's a funny thing fate. Some people live their lives by it… others think it's a load of old twaddle. I am sort of in the first camp – I am a firm believer in fate BUT I also feel that we do make our own choices in life too. I believe we all have a path to follow, but at times there are diversions off that path or a different way of getting to our next stage in life and that's where our choices come in.

For example… On day nearly 2 years ago I had an absolutely horrendous journey to work. I was still reeling from the death of my granddad and splitting up with my boyfriend, both happening some 6 months beforehand. In short I was a physical and emotional wreck.

I got to work and something snapped… I was fed up of my life and decided for once I would stop being a wallflower and do something about it. At the time I was chatting to one of our building maintenance engineers about the air conditioning (the importance of that will become clear later) and as the conversation progressed, for a laugh he suggested I sign up to a dating website. Had he not dared me to I doubt very much I would have entertained the idea (at that time I was very shy and retiring… no really I was lol! The confidence thing is a recent occurrence). I spent all of about 5 minutes writing my profile then just got on with the rest of my day. On that very same day a nice young man called Phil decided to send me a message. Over the next couple of weeks we talked online and on the phone daily and 16 days later we met for the first time in a Pizza Hut in the middle of Hull. It was one of the best nights of my life and we have been together ever since!

Would that still have happened had I not had such a bad journey to work? I was in a bad way that day and a harmless challenge from a colleague set in motion a chain of events that I will be forever thankful for. What made Phil contact me – he has said there were things in my profile that would usually put him off, but in this case he just had to contact me. Was it fate giving him a shove??? I have spoken to people since and the average time to find someone on a dating website seems to be within 18 months and 2 years, yet I found my soulmate 8 hours after I joined the site.

The really spooky bit is that in the last 2 years, we have found so many times when our paths should have crossed before we finally did meet. We have followed each other around the country – living only a few miles away from each other as kids and even visiting the same places on weekends. How weird would that have been if we did meet each other as kids? We have had holidays in the same place at the same time, I have had job interviews in places he has worked, while he was working there and finally, a couple of months before we actually met, he delivered a parcel to my best friend's place of work!

So you see, it was fated that we should meet… it was just a question of timing and choices. If I had split up with my boyfriend 2 years earlier as I fully intended to, or he had left his partner a year before when things started to get bad, we would not have met. There are so many times in the last 20 years where we could have met but didn't because either fate didn't allow or because of choices we each made. This is so true of so many things that have happened to both of us in our lives… but this is the strongest proof I have.

What do you guys think? What are your experiences of fate or do you think that your life is fully decided by you?

By the way… The significance of the air conditioning comment is that this is Phil's former profession… something he gave up only a couple of months before we met to re-train as a lorry driver.

Let Me Introduce Myself...

This was originally posted on 13th September 2006 on MySpace

This is my first attempt at blogging so bear with me...

It all began approximately 28 years ago in the small, but growing "new town" of Hemel Hempstead. A baby girl was born (in a hospital that has since been knocked down - that sort of thing could really give you a complex!!!). That child spent the first 6 years of its life in this town before her parents finally took pity on her and moved her to the beautiful countryside and rolling hills of Yorkshire. Shortly after, they decided she needed company in the form of a baby brother. Oh how foolish they were!!! It was a further 20 years before sibling rivaly would finally develop into a mutual appreciation of each other as such that they no longer feel the daily urge to kill each other in a variety of ways as per Itchy & Scratchy off the Simpsons!

In those 20 years, that child grew (and oh my how she grew lol). She did well at school and went onto university in the city of Hull where on a sunny day in July 1999 her parents stood proudly as she achieved what no-one else in the family to that date had acheived... a full university degree (we won't mention the essay writing at 2am tanked up on vodka or the partying until 6am the night before a big exam though!)

Now she is plying her trade as a "Payroll Specialist" for a large company in the North of England. She has escaped those proud parents and has met a nice boy with which she wants to spend her future. In short she is finally embarking on that great adventure called life...
Stay tuned for the next episode.....