Part 51

Hello and welcome back to Mortgage Advisor on F.I.R.E.  This week I will talk about the last book I read and how it made me angry, and after the usual financial update I will discuss some frustrations I have relating to the current pandemic. 

Quote of the Week

I have been trying to read more books from different cultures, as well as more books written by women this year.  It has opened my eyes to some fantastic pieces of writing such as Station Eleven, The Glass Hotel and The Three Body Trilogy.  I was looking forward to reading Why I’m No Longer Talking To White People About Race because I expected a book with such a daring and provocative title to approach the subject with a critical, balanced and nuanced view.  I was wrong.  The book is simply awful, and the quote I’ve taken is just one of many examples of the bitter, hateful and racist tone it takes.  

There is no way I can sit here and understand what it is to be a person of colour in the UK in 2020.  I can listen to what people say about their own experience, and I can read what is written.  I can’t fully understand their experience though, so my comments are of limited validity.  Racism is wrong; it’s that simple.  It’s wrong and it shouldn’t exist, but it does and so we need to be able to have open discussions about it from all sides to try and eradicate it.  Reni Eddo-Lodge’s title is, unfortunately, not just an eye-catching title.  It’s pretty much what she believes.  In another quote she explains that white people cannot approach a discussion on race as an equal to a person of colour.  This is pure racism, and you don’t counter racism by practicing it in reverse.  I accept that I can’t understand what it is to be a person of colour, but I understand what it is to be on the receiving end of racism, because I have experienced it myself.

When I was younger, I went to a school where white people were the minority.  In my class of approximately thirty children, I was one of two white boys.  There was one white-girl.  The rest of the class was a mixture of children from Asia, the Middle-East and Africa.  I was on the receiving end of a fair amount of bullying that was racist in nature.  However, as I grew up and entered the adult world, that situation changed.  So, I say again, I can understand my experience of racism but I can’t understand a person of colour’s experience.  To say that we can’t have a discussion as equals is wrong, and does nothing to build bridges.  All it does is widen the divide between races.  

White Privilege is a real thing, and is something I’ve only come to notice fairly recently.  However, I’m no racist.  I don’t actively do anything to support White Privilege.  I speak out against racism where I can, but the book offers no practical advice about what people can do to help eradicate racism.  The book implies that white people are the problem, but also implies white people can’t help with the solution.  The book is a confused, rambling mess, and the author is an angry and confused individual.  I fear that this book will actually do more to damage race relations than to improve them.  Things get even more confusing in the latter part of the book where it starts up about feminism.  

This is the worst book I’ve read this year.  It’s badly written.  It’s angry, but not constructively so.  It makes one illogical leap after another, cherry picking history and making sweeping, and racist, generalisations about white people.  There is a discussion that needs to be had about race and racism.  That discussion needs to be honest and open, but this book adds nothing to that discussion.  It’s inflammatory, bitter and unhelpful.

I appreciate that racism is a very emotive topic.  I’m not trying to bash anyone who campaigns for equal rights, but this book seems to be about equal parts attacking white culture as it is promoting rights for people of colour.  There are some racist white people, but there are also decent, compassionate white people who believe in equal rights for all.  Categorising any group based on skin colour and labelling them a “culture” is so simplistic; it’s the sort of “logic” you would expect to see in primary school.  It’s possible to have white-on-white racism, which is something my girlfriend has experienced a lot in the decade she has lived in the UK.  She is Romanian and white, but her whiteness does not protect her from racism from white British people.  

Racism is not just a binary, or black-and-white, issue.  It’s complicated and it’s not going to be solved overnight.  It’s going to take a lot of work, and in terms of White Privilege in the UK, it’s going to take a lot of introspection for the white majority to “check their privilege”.  This book could have been a rallying call for racism awareness, but it’s just an incoherent mess that undermines the few good points it makes with poorly reasoned arguments and lazy generalisations.  

Weekly Update

Another week where I don’t seem to have achieved much.  I’m still off work as my mental health is a mess.  I’ve also had some shoulder, neck and back pain that has stopped me going to the gym.  Paracetamol hasn’t really touched the pain, and because I’m allergic to other painkillers and antiinflammatories, I’ve had to revert back to tramadol.  I don’t want to be taking it for long, as it can lead to addiction.  It has helped a great deal with the pain though, so I’m going to start winding down the dosage over the next few days and see how I am.  

This past week has seen my best friend, Sweep, celebrate his 18th birthday.  We adopted him in December 2018 and it’s possibly the best decision we ever made.  We don’t know a huge amount about his previous life, but from what we’ve been told he lived with his brother, Sootie, with an older couple.  This couple had some health problems and one of them passed away and the other was admitted to a care home.  Sootie ran away and Sweep was passed to a cat shelter.  We made a conscious decision to adopt an older cat as they tend to be overlooked.  He is amazing.  I love him so much that I can’t adequately put it into words.

Sweep is a chilled out cat.  He can’t run very quickly and can hardly jump.  We have fashioned him a little step to get up on the sofa, and our bed has a little ledge around the side which he uses to help himself up.  When we talked about getting a cat, we had agreed he would not be allowed on the bed.  It didn’t take long for the rule to go out of the window.  Now, I love nothing more than waking up in the middle of the night with Sweep curled up on the pillow next to me.  

I don’t think Sweep is like a typical cat.  Although he likes to spend a little bit of time on his own, he follows us around the apartment.  He loves attention and to be curled up on our laps.  I have a routine where at least once a day I will lie down on the bed, and he will jump up on my chest and rub his head against my face for a few minutes before settling down and purring on my chest.  There is no other feeling like it.  I’ve always cared about animals, but the connection between this living, breathing animal and myself is something I’d never felt until we adopted him.  

Although we might be crazy, we manage an Instagram account for Sweep which you can follow @ https://www.instagram.com/sweep_the_kelham_island_cat_/

Health Update

No progress again this week.  I just don’t have the mental resource to fully deal with my weight.  I’m like a computer with too many applications running.  I need to clear some of them, so that I can allocate more processing resources to dealing with my weight.  I know what I need to do, but comfort eating is my major vice; when I’m stressed or depressed, I eat.  

Financial Update

Premium Bonds: £20,700 (no change from last update).

Stocks and Shares ISA: £12,796.20 (down £198.37 from last update).

Fuck It Fund: £0.00 (no change from last update).

Property Value: £187,554 (no change from last update).

Total Assets: £221,050.20 (down £198.37 from last update).

Credit Card: £502.71 (down £10.90 from last update).

Residential Mortgage: £142,456.43 (no change from last update). 

Total Debts: £142,959.14 (down £10.90 from last update).

Total Wealth Figure: £78,091.06 (down £187.47 from last update). 

Investment Income in 2020: £161.36 (no change from last update) (target £2,000).

After a couple of weeks of gains in the stock market, there has been a little dip.  By the time of the next blog I will have been paid again, so some of my investments will change accordingly.  I’m hoping that by next week I will have some sort of update regarding the BTL purchase.  It seems to be dragging on, considering our offer was accepted in mid-July.  

My credit card balance is not coming down as quickly as I’d hoped but we are having to find a new routine, financially speaking, as my girlfriend is doing freelance work and the income from that is irregular.  As long as it comes down week-on-week, that’s the main thing.  

Covid-19 and Lockdown

I don’t get the thought process that goes on inside some people.  When the government announces that an area will be going into lockdown (a phrase I hate, but it seems to be the generally accepted term) they have to give some notice.  They can’t just announce it with immediate effect as there are a lot of factors involved.  So, when they say that an area will be going into lockdown in two-days time, I would personally take this as a sign to start preparing now.  Some people, however, seem to take it as a signal to have a party in the street.  The scenes in Liverpool a few days ago were shameful.  Yes, you may be fit and healthy and covid may just give you a little cough.  What about the people you pass the virus on to?  What about the elderly who are at the end of the chain of transmission?  

I was talking with a friend a few days ago and she was angry about the attitude towards those with underlying medical conditions, as she has asthma.  There seems to be an impression, in some people at least, that underlying medical conditions relate to people being seriously ill.  This is not the case.  An underlying health condition can be asthma, or high blood pressure or a thousand other things.  These people were not “going to die of something else anyway”, which is something I’ve sadly heard from a few people as justification for the number of deaths we’ve experienced.  Some of those with underlying medical conditions may have been terminally ill with something else, but they could have simply had asthma.

There seems to be two attitudes that are really unhelpful in tackling this pandemic.  There is an attitude amongst some people that their perceived freedoms should not be impacted in any single way.  These people want to be able to socialise freely and not wear masks.  They believe that saving lives is not worth some temporary and minor inconveniences.  Then there are those who don’t believe what the experts are saying.  They may believe that the pandemic is some form of global hoax or conspiracy.  Or, they may just believe that masks are ineffective, and because of that we shouldn’t take any precautions at all.  Ultimately, this all comes down to a lack of critical thinking.

When fighting covid-19, there are no realistic defences that are completely effective.  So, we take a layered approach.  Masks will stop some of the transmission.  Frequent cleaning of hands, surfaces and handles will stop some of the transmission.  Social distancing will, again, stop some of the transmission.  The idea is that when all these tactics are employed together, their combined effect is to drastically reduce the rate of transmission.  Some people think that because a mask is not 100% effective, they should also not bother with social distancing.  It’s enough to make my head hurt.

“More People Die Of The Flu”

Another phrase that makes me facepalm.  Setting aside the fact that this is not true, it’s also illogical.  The thinking here is that we shouldn’t take precautions against covid, because the flu kills more people.  Let’s try another example;

Just under 2,000 people died in UK road accidents in 2019.  However, more people die of heart disease each year, so why should we do anything about road safety?  It’s a completely illogical argument.  

Thank you for reading this week.  I know it’s been a bit of a rant. If you have enjoyed this blog please share it on social media.  My Instagram is @david_scothern and my Twitter is @nowwelive01. If you have any questions, please leave a comment below.

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