Archive | August 2012

# 107 Keith Bennett postscript

There was something horribly ironic about this weeks news that Ian Brady may have written a letter disclosing the location of the body of the last of his victims buried on Saddleworth Moor – Keith Bennett. And then two days later Keith’s mother finally succumbed to illness and died aged 78 never knowing if it was true. Perhaps it tipped her over the edge. Perhaps in her heart she believed it was finally over and she could go in peace.

Keith Bennett

I have no qualms in advocating the death sentence for the likes of the Ian Brady’s, Dennis Neilsen’s and Jeffrey Dahmer’s of this world. They are just taking up space and tax payers money. They will never serve a useful purpose in society.

But keeping Ian Brady and his cohort Myra Hindley alive did serve some purpose. In 1987 they disclosed the whereabouts of 16 year old Pauline Reade’s body leaving just Keith Bennett’s whereabouts unknown.

Ian Brady, who has so callously guarded the secret of the 12 year old’s whereabouts since his imprisonment 46 years ago, may now reveal the location of his makeshift grave. It was the letters he wrote to be opened after his death, which is thankfully taking its time coming, which may now solve the mystery and allow Keith a decent burial.

Saddleworth Moor – like looking for a needle in a haystack

Brady’s death is slow to come as he gradually succumbs to 13 years on hunger strike. Force feeding for all that time, keeping him alive against his will, has been the ultimate punishment. He doesn’t deserve to die – just yet. He has just one more act to carry out if he can find one ounce of decency in his corrupt body.

Myra Hindley died in 2002, still desperate to be released into society and thankfully she never made it. But Brady has no such desire and has no intention of leaving prison except in a wooden box.

I hope, like so many others watching the news this week, that they now find Keith. It would be the last act which finally puts this terrible case to rest. And with any luck Brady will live to see it, because he has always relished in the knowledge that he held this piece of information back. To know it is finally out there, would be retribution at last.

Ian Brady and Myra Hindley – Brady used Hindley to lure children to their deaths

# 106 Getting the friendship quota

Here’s an interesting one I’ve been thinking about for a while. I read ‘Most of My Friends Are My Co-Workers‘ on xoJane and I was thinking about how the boundaries have changed in my life in recent months.

I worked in offices for years. Some had as few as 8 people in them, some had thousands. I did make friends in all the companies I worked, but some more than others and on different levels. It depended mostly on the office style and how far everyone was commuting. But I’ve never really kept up with any of them. People tend to go their separate ways and I’m living further north than ever before so it’s been hard to keep in contact with people on a regular and constructive basis. Things always seem to fizzle eventually.

My last job (the first and only one I’ve had since being in Lincoln) didn’t lend itself to friendships and I was quick to leave it behind once University life beckoned. And for the last three years I’ve had a number of student friends rather than out and out co-workers. But that’s over now and everyone has drifted all over the country. So that’s the end of that. Facebook is now the only lifeline and I know it means I will only keep up with these people virtually as their lives appear in small chunks on my newsfeed.

With what I now do, working from home on my own, most of my co-worker friendships are people I meet on the internet for individual collaborative projects. If I’m lucky our paths will cross more than once but as people are placed here, there and everywhere the chances of me seeing any of them outside the studio is remote. It means actual friendships are quite limited although work based as the aforementioned article suggests will be the case. But it’s not like being in an office with people five days a week.

My one proud achievement is my best friend who I have now known for 23 years and was one of my first pen pals. We just kind of gelled. Most of the friends I have now who are not connected with work are people I have met through other people since I have moved to Lincoln either in town or by mutual introduction on Facebook. That’s a pretty sad track record if I’m honest and I’m not proud of it.

Equally I am well aware that if I moved town I’d be starting over again except for my best friend. I guess that’s a good reason to stay put. Although I think I’d more consciously look to fill my free time with real people now that work is a solitary affair much of the time and I’m stuck at home far too often.

All this has been acceptable whilst a place of work was filling days. Human contact was there, even if it wasn’t a lifelong bond. Working from home segregates you and means your friendships are periphery, here one day gone the next. And limited income means getting out is also restricted. I have to prioritise bills on a very real level that leaves no room for random spending. Not that I’m using it as an excuse. Well maybe I am. But already the restrictions on my personal life mean that the friendships outside of work I have made over the last four years have started to slip. And that worries me.

So I’m thinking that now it’s a reality something will have to change. I’d just like some normal friendships, hassle free, trivial conversation. As I’ve got older everyone has got more complicated although I’m thinking this might be because I am mixing with people a lot younger than me. Most people my age have sorted their shit out by now and don’t have time for school based trivialities. Life just gets more serious. It’s the way of the world. You have other things to worry about like paying bills, pensions and quality time with family because you realise everyone has got older and suddenly noone is going to be around forever (a terrifying notion on its own that I try not to think about).

I don’t have a game plan for what happens next. But I suspect by the end of the year, I’ll have gone stir crazy so it’s something that bothers me. End of the year also means I have a number of choices to make and I’m hoping things will dovetail. They have a habit of doing that but I know I shouldn’t bank on fate taking the upper hand. Now is the time to take control – for real.

# 105 Relocation

I like knowing there is nothing tying me to where I live, that the only thing holding me here is the tenancy on my house. The knowledge that I can, if I want, pick up everything and start again in a brand new place is rather exciting. It’s also a new one on me since I have always been tied to a 9-5 and committed to someone else. But as my new business venture has no material base except the place where I live and my family are already more than three hours away, all I have holding me here is my tenancy agreement until June 2013.

I’ve never been much good at staying anywhere for long. Fate (or whatever you want to call it) has always dictated my next move and things have always had a habit of coming along at the right moment. It’s always been the way and I’ve just gone with it having no preference one way or the other. Whether this is a good thing or not I don’t know.

The longest I’ve lived anywhere since I left school is 8 years. I’ve moved eleven times including two moves back to the nest when things got a bit dicey financially. I’m now in my fifth year in Lincoln and I can feel the clock ticking.

Where will I go next? Who knows. I’ve never been attracted to any of the places I’ve lived. They’ve just happened. So having the choice feels odd. Perhaps something will come along to make the decision for me but I’m hoping that just for once I will make a conscious decision on my own. I’m not particular to any kind of living although I haven’t lived on my own for some time. I’ve been in big cities and small villages, houses and flats, places where I’ve made a lot of friends and others where I’ve hardly met anyone at all. I’ve also lived in some pretty dodgy places. I guess I don’t know what I’m looking for but I don’t have to worry about it just yet.

My plan right now is to declutter. I’ve always been a hoarder but I’m over that now and keen to clear everything and make some bucks along the way. One thing’s for sure, I have no intention of moving it with me yet again.

The reality of living in a part furnished house as I do now, is that I don’t own very much of anything that’s useful. I have junk…..mostly.  I’ve always admired people who could live out of a suitcase. I could never live like that in my line of work but I really admire it.

I guess I have time to work out my next move. June next year is a long time away and I could be in pretty much any situation business wise by then. If nothing else, at least it gives me plenty of time to clear out the clutter!

# 104 Work life balance

I think I’ve posted on this subject before, but it was just a pipedream at that point. Now it is reality and I’m living it.

I’ve been about 2 months out of Uni now, and after a slow start I’ve finally stepped up a gear and am earning enough to pay the bills.

The thing is (and I’m not sure whether this is a complaint or a boast) every day is pretty much the same. I don’t miss the rat race or being locked in an office for 37 hours a week but working from home does have a few tinsy problems. This is partly brought on by the fact that I don’t have a family dictating to me the structure of my day. There are no kids to pick up from school, no partner coming in at 6pm expecting his dinner and no real weekend family commitments to push me into a five day week.

So essentially each day is the same and I divide it between working from home making stuff, admin, errands in town such buying supplies or wheeling a cart load of ebay wins to the post office, photoshoots (which could be anywhere), meeting clients and occasional social gatherings depending on how profitable the week has been. If  the weather is nice I can work in the garden. I can take a nap at lunch time (which no matter how tired I might be never happens) and I can go to bed as late as I like and get up as late as I like (which is now sabotaging my sleep patterns horrendously). Essentially weekends, bank holidays and evenings are pretty much the same as any other day or hour.

In many respects I don’t mind this, but the lack of cut off points where I have  to stop work to attend to other things does tend to mean I plod slowly through work requirements between 9am and 9pm 7 days a week, stopping as and when to sort washing, do housework and catch up on Facebook.

I’m guessing this can’t be good. I also don’t have a particular room in which I work, so everywhere I live, is pretty much everywhere I work. Again, I’m guessing this can’t be a good thing, right?

I suspect that my work life balance is tipping into the ‘life’ category more than the ‘work’ category right now, but things have been slow to get started (entirely my own fault) and I’m only just over a month into official trading so I know this will change and will no doubt come in ebbs and flows. It’s the nature of the beast.

There are plenty of advice pages on the internet on getting the balance right. I think I am one of those people that enjoys their job enough that they don’t mind it encroaching on their personal life. Since the work part of my life is the bigger part of the pie I’m happy for it to fill the gaps and all the time it’s earning enough to get me by (the short term aim of course) that’s just fine with me. I think if I was missing out on social occasions and fun stuff it would become a problem but in all honesty work is the thing keeping me motivated at the moment so I’m happy for it to take the helm.

less than two decades – in other words, roughly the lifetime of the 
internet – the number of people saying they have no one with whom 
to discuss important issues has nearly tripled.

Thankfully there are certain rules I do follow. Despite rarely setting an alarm these days I generally still wake up at a ‘normal’ time. I always get dressed and ready first thing and I make sure that my day is structured with a list of things that must be done as well as things that can flow over to the next day. I make sure that each day has at least half a dozen essential things that must be done. They might not all be work related but it keeps me working to a timetable and ensures I don’t procrastinate too much which is a terrible habit I learnt from being at Uni.

Apparently there are around 5.4 million households where at least one person works from home. Dubbed by Boris Johnson as the ‘skivers charter’ it’s become a way of life for many people, whether they are self employed or ‘hot desking’ for a company.

Not getting out and about and meeting people – that basic human contact that keeps us all sane, is definitely the biggest drawback in our ever increasingly internet based world and I know I am not alone is feeling a little bit – well alone.

I space out my work based ‘social occasions’ carefully throughout the week to make sure I’m not staying in for days on end. Very quickly you can find yourself rarely talking to anyone other than the postman on a daily basis and you have to stay on top of that kind of thing.

The most important fact I have learnt about working like this is that I am not the only one. Far from it. And that in itself is a comfort. Perhaps I should join some discussion groups and touch base with my self employed friends going through the same things. I’m sure there are plenty on my doorstep, if only I could find the motivation to do it.

# 103 Mind your words

There has been rather a lot of coverage in the news lately re comments posted on Facebook and Twitter that have got their users into trouble. From racist comments by Olympic entrants that have got them sent home, to mindless members of the public posting nasty comments to other competitors.

It’s very easy to punch something in on a mobile phone in the heat of the moment and hit send. Etiquette and care should always be taken on the internet, even more so if you are the face of a business or other cause.

I would never post a gripe, complaint or personal dig at someone on my Facebook or Twitter business page no matter how unprofessional, unreliable or obnoxious they might be to work with or how much they may have wronged me. For that matter, I wouldn’t do it on my personal account either. We all have an ethical duty to take care what we post. Things can easily get taken out of context, spread like wild fire and the damage often can’t be undone.

I don’t think these are appropriate places to air your dirty laundry unless it serves a public good but I see such things pinging up on my newsfeed all the time. If it becomes a habit I simply unsubscribe from the poster or remove them from my friends list altogether. I have no time for whiners or those with a personal axe to grind. If we linked as friends for personal reasons I don’t need to know how much you hate your ex or what he did with your next door neighbour to make him your ex. Make a page – separate your professional life from your personal one so I don’t have to read it. It often makes me think twice about working with someone if all I see on their Facebook wall is bitching and complaining about work colleagues or family. I don’t think it’s necessary and frankly I don’t care.

Thoughtcrime is Real highlighted a recent case involving Olympic hopeful Tom Daley.

A teenager arrested over a malicious tweet sent to Team GB diver Tom Daley has been issued with a warning. Dorset Police said the 17-year-old boy was held at a guest house in the Weymouth area on suspicion of malicious communications and later bailed. After coming fourth in the men’s synchronised 10m platform diving event on Monday, Daley, 18, from Plymouth received a message on Twitter. It told him he had let down his father Rob, who died in 2011 from cancer.

This kind of mindless idiocy has no place anywhere but it is very hard to stop in the first instance because there are a lot of mindless idiots out there who don’t think about the long term effects of their actions or just don’t seem to care. 

The most damaging comments, ones which invariably involve someone of note seem to get picked up on by the authorities and press quickly enough and often users have to answer for it. Freedom of speech is one thing, slander or downright blatant misuse of the internet is quite another.