Part 132

“The 24 hour freedom bus pass was something I introduced.”

~ Boris Johnson

Earlier in the week, the Prime Minister was told about a pensioner who, in light of the economic clusterfuck he has presided over, has taken to using her bus pass to ride the bus all day so she doesn’t have to use her central heating.  Any normal human would react in the same way when faced with this story; upset, anger, frustration, and empathy, are just some of the emotions that normal people would feel.  However, not our PM.  Our PM felt it was appropriate to boast that he introduced the bus pass that allowed this lady to use the bus network as a means of keeping warm. 

We are *checks notes* the fifth biggest economy in the world.  The year is 2022.  We have people having to choose between warmth or food.  We have people using public transport to keep warm because they can’t afford the cost of energy, yet many of the major companies involved in energy production are making billions in profit every year.  It’s a complete disgrace, and it should be a source of national shame.  How do these politicians get away with it?

Let me introduce you to Nadine Dorries, a woman who makes Boris look like a classical philosopher.  Seriously, if Dorries was any dumber she’d have to be watered twice a week.  She is the Minister for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, so you’d expect she would have a basic grasp of her role.  You would be wrong.  Nadine Dorries referred to “downstreaming” films, but I can’t say for certain if she referred to them being “downstreamed” from the “interweb”.  She is also the one who failed to grasp the ownership of Channel 5 in an interview that is as entertaining as it is awkward. 

In any other line of work these politicians would not last a week.  It’s incompetence mixed with narcissism, and an inability to feel any sense of shame. 

If you have voted Tory, I want you to ask yourself a question; do you believe that the Tory party has the best interests of the people at heart? 

Now, back to Nadine Dorries.  In April 2021 there was an event attended by Labour representatives.  The Tory party has claimed that Kier Starmer broke lockdown rules, and has backed this assertion by sharing a photo of Starmer with another man eating some food.  There’s a slight problem with this claim and the accompanying photo; the man with Kier Starmer died in 2019.

If I met Nadine Dorries I would try and explain to her why this is an important point, but I have neither the patience nor the crayons to explain it to her in a way she’d understand.

Labour is far from perfect, but the Tory party is evil and incompetent.  

Weekly Update

The week started with a nice surprise.  I was browsing Facebook one morning and I saw an article from Bored Panda; 50 cutest animals adopted in April.  Imagine my shock when I saw Poppy on the list at number 16.  I had posted on Reddit a little after we adopted her, about how quickly she had settled in.  She’s great and I already love her.

On the subject of Poppy, we had our first adventure together on Thursday.  We took a walk around the block, and then a short tram ride to the vet for a check-up.  She was so well behaved and all the staff at the vet were fussing over her.  Poppy has that effect on everyone.  It’s all a ploy for food, I’m sure.  

I’ve never known a cat to eat such a wide range of food as Poppy.  I went to the gym one day and after a workout, I like a hit of protein.  I have a few packs of beef jerky on hand for when I get the craving; it’s low calorie, tasty, and a good source of protein.  So I tiptoe past Poppy as she’s sleeping.  I carefully pick up a pack of the biltong, and hide it behind my back as I start backing away from the living room.  Poppy opens one eye and looks at me.  I freeze.  She continues staring at me.  Under her gaze, I crumble and bring the pouch from behind my back like a child caught stealing from the cookie jar.  She jumps over the sofa and follows me to the spare room where I have my desk, and waits until I feed her a couple of strips of beef.  

We saw the latest entry to the Marvel Cinematic Universe on Friday evening; Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness.  I’ve been losing interest in the MCU following the conclusion of the Infinity Saga.  I said at the time that the MCU should have been paused for a little while, like a year or so, to allow everyone to miss it and build anticipation.  As it happens, Marvel did the opposite and started cranking out more films and TV shows via Disney+.  I haven’t seen any of the shows, and there are a couple of films I’ve missed (Black Widow, The Eternals, for example).  I just don’t have the time or patience to commit to such a sprawling canon.  I don’t want to have to watch TV shows for films to make sense, in the same way that I don’t want to have to read a book for a show to make sense.  

I think Doctor Strange would have been a better experience had I seen WandaVision on Disney+, but that wasn’t going to happen.  On its own, I enjoyed the Multiverse of Madness.  It was what I term, “disposable fun”.  I enjoyed it, but I doubt I’ll watch it anytime soon.  The logical basis of the plot doesn’t stand up to modest criticism, but that’s the issue most superhero films have.  The action scenes were typical of other MCU films; creative and comedic.  For most MCU films I’ve managed to avoid spoilers, and I think for maximum enjoyment you should try to watch this film without reading spoilers.  I’d score the movie 6.5/10.

On Saturday we went to Peddler Market and enjoyed some great street food.  I tried an Indian take on the Canadian dish, Poutine.  This is food worthy of the gods and is chips, served with cheese curds, crispy onion, maple bacon, and gravy (although there are different takes on it).  The version I had was chips with a lamb curry sauce and pickled red chillis.  It was very nice.  My girlfriend had shawarma which was also very good.  We then shared some chicken tacos and they were incredible.  

A busy week was rounded off when I received my autism report.  It was a bit strange seeing it all reduced to a few pages of text, but I’m still relaxed about the whole thing.  Being formally identified as autistic doesn’t change who I am; I have always been autistic.  If anything, the confirmation has been a little bit like a weight being lifted.

Support Mortgage Advisor on FIRE

I love writing this blog, and I’ve met some great people because of it.  Maintaining a website costs money though, and if you want to say thanks for the content I publish, consider a donation to my virtual tip jar on the link below:

https://www.buymeacoffee.com/davidscothern

2022 Goals – to be achieved by 31/12/2022

1 – Reduce weight to 90kg.  (Current weight 119.4kg).

2 – Complete 10 “classic” books.

  1. Crime and Punishment by Fyodor Dostoevsky (1866)
  2. Moby-Dick by Herman Melville (1851)
  3. Dracula by Bram Stoker (1897) (in progress)
  4. Catch-22 by Joseph Heller (1961)
  5. The Iliad by Homer (8th century BC) ✅
  6. The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexandre Dumas (1844) ✅
  7. War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy (1867)
  8. A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens (1859)
  9. Les Miserables by Victor Hugo (1862)
  10. Don Quixote by Miguel de Cervantes (1605)

3 – Read 10 authors I’ve not read before (1/10)

  1. John Birmingham ✅
  2. Nicole Perlroth ✅
  3. Sabine Durrant ✅

What Am I Doing?

What I’m reading:

What I’m listening to: Dracula by Bram Stoker.

What I’m watching: MasterChef on BBC iPlayer.

I am thoroughly enjoying Dracula.  The story is gripping and the narration is excellent.  I can’t wait to finish it.  I am embarrassed to admit that I don’t know the story, despite it being a classic.  

The latest season of Masterchef came to an end with Eddie emerging victorious.  Although I was rooting for Radha through the competition, I think Eddie was a deserved winner.  His food was consistently excellent, and he just seems like a really decent bloke.  I’m sure that all three finalists will go on to have successful careers with food.  

Financial Update

Assets

Premium Bonds: £18,600.00 (up £50.00 from last update).

Stocks and Shares ISA: £42,220.57 (down £994.53 from last update).

Fuck It Fund: £50.00 (up £50.00 from last update). 

Pensions: £51,919.12 (down £421.44 from last update).

Residential Property Value: £218,291.00 (no change from last update).

Buy-to-Let Property Value: £140,863.00 (no change from last update).

Total Assets: £471,943.69 (down £1,315.97 from last update). 

Debts

Credit Card: £27.90 (down £2,547.73 from last update).

Residential Mortgage: £164,067.27 (down £398.00 from last update).

Buy-to-Let Mortgage: £105,338.22 (down £47.04 from last update). 

Total Debts: £269,433.39 (down £2,992.77 from last update).

Total Wealth: £202,510.30 (up £1,676.80 from last update).

Investment Income in 2022: £877.70 (target £6,000).

I found myself with the funds to pay most of my credit card off.  I would pay it all off, but you can only pay the outstanding balance; you can’t preemptively pay off pending transactions which I find annoying.

Our mortgage payments have been processed since the last blog, which always makes a positive difference to the balance sheet.  The Bank of England base rate increase seems to have triggered a drop in the value of my ISA and pension.  It’s just part of the volatility of the market.  The base rate is probably only going to increase as the year goes on as the BoE tries to slow inflation.  Some commentators are projecting a base rate of 2.5% in the early parts of 2023, with a rate of 3% by 2024.  

The Impact of the Base Rate

As the saying goes, “no plan survives contact with the enemy.”  The policymakers can plan to ramp up the base rate but the last few years have brought the Brexit referendum, Trump, Covid, and the war in Ukraine.  There are rumblings of a second Scottish Independence Referendum in 2023, and if the Scots vote to leave the United Kingdom, I can see the economy taking another pasting, which could very well see rates impacted once more.  

Assuming that the base rate continues to steadily increase we will probably see new borrowing slow, as well as a drop in spending generally.  This will, over time, lead to either a drop in property prices or, at the very least, a slowing of the increase in prices.  People tend to catastrophize things, but this is all part of the ebb and flow of the economy.  The key is to not overreact, but rather take a considered approach to how the current financial climate impacts your household spending.  

If you have not reviewed your mortgage recently, I would suggest you do so.  Speak with your lender and see what they can offer.  Remortgaging from one lender to another is time-consuming, and potentially expensive, with legal fees, valuation fees, admin fees, and product fees, all eating into any saving on the rate of interest offered.  I can’t stress the point enough; if you are in any doubt, speak with your lender and see what they can do for you.  Take expert advice, and don’t rely on scaremongering online or from uneducated sources.  

Biolink and other links

You can now find all my social media pages by checking out my Biolink:

bio.link/davidscothern.

Also, check out Darren Scothern’s blog which talks about autism, being autistic, and general mental health:

http://www.darrenscothern.com

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