Friday, January 30, 2009

George seems to have given up on the idea of walking. He was about ready to do it on his first birthday. Now he’s happy to wander round holding onto things, and can walk happily holding one of our hands, but he doesn’t seem interested in taking it any further.

He’s had an ear infection in the last couple of weeks, which gave him and us a couple of sleepless nights, but he’s over that now, and back to his happy self.

George fell over
George, our neighbour from across the road fell over the other night. We were just getting into bed, and I heard a crash and went out to find him lying in his driveway. His wife had phoned an ambulance while he lit up a fag. I offered to help him up, but he said he’d rather wait for the ambulance…

George was outside late at night because he always is. Every time you enter or leave the house, he’s there, watching the world go by, and stopping anyone from parking anywhere they shouldn’t.

Late at night he comes out to feed the foxes, who have learnt to cluster round his gate waiting for him.

It’s tempting to say that at his age, he shouldn’t be being so silly. But, why? We don’t criticise young people for doing risky things (like skiing or parachuting) we think that’s somehow Ok, whereas when someone older does something that, for them, is just as dangerous, like going out in the rain, we think it’s irresponsible..

Doesn’t make much sense to me. He’s old enough to know what he wants to do and make his own mind up.

Housing benefit
My tenant in Manchester has, by the sounds of it, got another job – which is good news as he hasn’t been able to pay his rent for the last few months. Hopefully, the housing benefit he’s applied for will come through to pay the arreas eventually.

It’s a major, and completely inexcusable problem with local authorities that they can’t process benefit claims for months on end.

I had the same problem when I had to claim benefit years ago – it took Lewisham council 6 months to pay my benefit. By which time if it hadn’t been for my parents, I’d have been on the streets.

I can’t think how councils are allowed to get away with this level of negligence.

However, all I can do (unless I want to evict my tenant, which I’m sure many landlords do in this situation) is wait for however long it takes, and hope I can cover the mortgage myself – which luckily, I can.

Next week we’re off to Vegas to film the new documentary – I’ve ordered lots of new equipment, but I can’t help feeling I haven’t done enough planning. The trouble is I don’t know how to plan this shoot – the people I’m following will do whatever they’re going to do, and I just have to follow them and hope I can make a film out of it when I come back.

I’ve got a vague plan of how to do that, but I’m really going to be winging it.

Lisa and Sam meanwhile are going to be living it up in Caesar’s palace while George is looked after by their long suffering parents. Hmm…

Ok – it turns out my documentary is available in WHSmiths, un-edited and packaged with a book in a very neat looking bundle and as part of a series of videos on all kinds of subjects –whether these are done without copyright, I’ve no idea.

It’s still looking very much as though whoever released them has done so without the permission of Electric Sky, my distributors, and I’ve posted off a copy to them so they can take action….

What they can do about it, since the company publishing the DVD has now gone into receivership, I don’t know…

New year, new website
I’ve now got my new website set up – due to a very helpful company who I found on Elance – as part of my new year resolution to do more outsourcing.

Friday, January 16, 2009

Have now been back at work for a couple of weeks – and only just getting time to write up my blog – so here’s a quick roundup….

Christmas Day was fun – without being stressful. We asked Sam, Claudia, Adrian, Jane and Nathan round and everyone had to bring some food – with the result that we didn’t have to cook it all, and could concentrate on drinking Christmas pudding flavoured martinis and unwrapping George’s huge pile of presents.

Boxing day was, as usual, full of intentions. We intended to go out for a nice long walk, but it never seemed to happen.

I managed to pick up some kind of bug – maybe it was the flu that almost everybody appears to have contracted over Christmas – but I had a sore throat and my neck swelled up…. Nice.

Over the last year, it seems that every time I’ve stopped work for more than 3 days on the trot, I’ve got ill. It’s tempting to put that down to overwork, but the last six weeks have hardly been frantic. With both the yacht video and the museum animation out of the way I’ve been working on a couple of less difficult projects and generally mopping up administrative jobs. Nothing stressful.

It’s more likely that it’s a combination of working pretty hard – Even when I’m not on tough deadlines, I do fill my work time pretty comprehensively – and having George. George isn’t a difficult child by any stretch, and he’s a joy, but he does mean neither of us are ever really off duty.

Of course, that’s set to remain the case for a good few years – in fact the rest of our lives if I’m honest, so I’ll have to be able to cope with it without getting ill all the time…

We managed a visit to Lisa’s sister and nephews in Worthing – lisa’s parents were away in Italy for Livia’s Christening.

By new year’s eve, we hadn’t done very much and didn’t feel much like doing much. We spent the evening in with Sam. I went to bed around 10:30 because of my sore throat, but couldn’t sleep, so I was up again in time to watch the London fireworks from the loft.

So, then: new year’s resolutions:

1) outsource: I’ve decided to instead of doing all the work myself, hire people in so that my work can expand without me having to do everything. This is quite a big change and I’m a bit scared because it means trusting other people with some of my creative work, spending money, and leaving my advertising going so I’m generating work even when I’ve got enough to keep me busy!

2) Get fit – no change there then – it’s a bit cold for running right now, so maybe I should be going swimming one day per week…

3) Make a charity offer – offer my clients the option of paying 5% more on their bill and offer to match it so I can pay 10% to a charity. Hopefully I can set this up once I find a way to make it make sense, and find a charity to work with…

Lisa’s is to not buy food with packaging – so she’s trying to buy veg and fish loose rather than pre-packed. She’s been going into Somerfield unpacking vegetables and leaving the wrapping at the counter when she buys if she can’t find loose veg – letting the supermarket dispose of the waste….

New year’s day didn’t amount to much either, with both me and Sam not up to much – me because of the sore throat – Sam for other reasons… and by now, lisa was desperate to get out of the house.

Still, Friday and Saturday we went to my parents’ for another Christmas – My Mum’s hip seems to be getting a bit more mobile and even though the doctor’s not letting her leap about, she still managed to have a lunch for some of her friends. George was happy and popular throughout and even Dad seemed very cheerful.

Andrew has now recovered sufficiently from his back injury to go back to work, and is hoping the company, who are laying off drivers left right and centre keep him on.

It looks like the trip to Vegas at the end of the month is on – I’m going to be shooting a documentary in the desert, meanwhile, Lisa’s Mum is looking after George and Lisa and Sam will be staying in Vegas and having fun.

We’re booked and planning the trip….

Documentary in the shops – but shouldn’t be
In the meantime, I’ve just been told today that my last documentary is now available in WH Smiths. Which would be great – if it wasn’t for the fact that my distributors haven’t given anyone the right to make it into a DVD, so somebody somewhere is distributing it illegally.

More on that story as it comes in….

Anyway, what other news?
We made a bungled attempt to set up two of Lisa’s friends with a Sunday dinner at the weekend. Bungled because all but one of the guests were ill (everyone seems to be this Christmas). Still, it was a nice dinner

Lisa and I went out for a nice meal on Tuesday (to the OXO tower restaurant). Very good food – and rather poncy – crab salad with sweetcorn icecream – along with mashed potato that appeared to be mostly butter and had to be served in a cup!

It’s a great place to eat, and they had a wine water. I can barely keep a straight face talking to wine waiters. I mean, really, it’s very nice, but it’s only a drink. You don’t have a pea waiter, do you, or a mash waiter…

This one had a French accent which always helps and always somehow seems as though it’s being put on when it comes from a wine waiter.

We got back to find George had been sick in his cot… he’s still running a bit of a temperature, but seems OK, and happy enough.

Oh, and Russ has been made a Lord… well, he’s got an MBE for running DEFRA’s Civil Service’s gay society. A great surprise to him, but he’s delighted and we’ll never hear the end of it!