October 2011

On the return of Bev’s she told me that she missed the sense of danger that came with watching the news or adverts with me with the sound turned on; with her never knowing when the loose cannon would go off.

OK trip, although the washing machine finally arrived at ma’s a few minutes after I set off. I could not have done anything as regards getting it fixed I might have been able to start her education with an automatic.

I offered advice about best thing to see in London (the Sir John Soane Museum, Lincolns Inns Field) to someone on the train to Victoria, who may have been called Rebecca, I do remember she did start at County Antrim before living in the States.

I then got the tube to Euston, having some time spare. The British Library did not open until 11.00, and there was a big queue, so I sat in the weak sun outside and read the Buses magazine I bought at Three Bridges, then went and spent the money I have not spent on drink today in Frontline books. Dictionary of Tommies’ Songs and Slang, 1914-18. Brophy & Partridge, 2008, republished from 1930. Has already made me laugh out loud.

Sat with a nice family on the train from Kings Cross. I am sure the 6 year old lad would have accepted Buses from me. but his dad drives a bus and did not want it in the house.

I only did a few hours work today but they left me shattered. I used the Borsh to cut a third off the kitchen unit door (including the metal handle strip), trim the already cut unit, and cut a hole for the new washing machine’s plug through the thick work-top (after drilling five holes).

I then refitted the end wall of the unit with a drill and a hammer and re-hung the door; then sanded and vacuumed.

All other plans for the day were then abandoned. Exhaustion would have made the last bits of cutting dangerous, if the tool was a jig or circular saw, and was still getting risky.

The result is good of all the work is good. It is not perfect, and I doubt the drawer would work if I cut that down, but ma still has a usable cupboard, and the worktop is supported. The representative of the firm sending a man to fix the tap and trap for the washing mating, and replace taps ma can nolonger turn, never got the difficulties with making a space for the machine. The unit I have been working on could not be just taken out, and even if it could there would then be nothing holding the worktop up.

It is a bit off a shame I could not do the plumbing as well, but getting the time at the right time is a bit of a nightmare.

I have been doing some reasonably hard physical work lately.

Growing up in one house and revisiting it until age can be a bit of a beggar, psychologically, and physically if you are allergic to mold spores and got massive asthma attacks in youth and sneezing fits in age, but at least you notice stuff.

I noticed today that the garage had sunk. I remember it being built when I was about 10, especially my dad wheelbarrowing ready-mixed concrete to help lay the drive and garage base (and I bet he paid the ‘builder’ bloke over the odds, and his wheelbarrow was tiny compared to the builder’s).

The concrete was laid in three sections: flat parking space and garage base, and a sloped section between the two. Today I tried to open the front door of the garage and it jammed on the lip of the rise. Although it was always higher than the base it did open, and the door is still true, so the base must have sunk. I got the mattock older than me out of the garage, it has a handle as bent as a bow (one of the many shit tools, inheritances and presents that filled our house), and ma told of it coming from the Welsh official grand father. I used it to chip the concrete lip. It was wonderfully satisfying, and I did a good job.

I had to open the door to shift the twintub washing mating ready for collection, using the sack trolley I bought at Lidl the first time I came back from London yesterday, which I carried back on the bus and then balanced on my head.

I have also bought a Borsh 180 multi tool (ma paid as a Christmas present) two days ago, which has allowed me to cut a third of a kitchen unit off so there is space for the new washing machine, and cut holes for the water feed and waste water pipes.

I am a bit tired.

PS, I have lost the £4.17 credit I had on Skype because I have left it so long, and the password my computer remembers is wrong. No matter as Skype is total shite anyway. The terms and conditions are not as evil as facebook, but at least facebook has not taken any of my money, yet.

I have been to a meeting in London, at the Chandos near Charing Cross twice. First time I got to the Chandos R 11.30 I realised that I did not have John’s number; and I have no mobile internet access.

I travelled back to my computer to do the checking of e-mail I should have done this morning, despite trying to figure out how to burn a dvd from iMovie and fending off having to deal with my mother’s latest worry wart.

The e-mail revealed I should be in the Chandos at 17.00 rather than have been at 12.00. I got a taxi back to Three Bridges, got on a train, but discovered it was one of the two trains a day to Bedford that do not call at London Bridge,. I then walked from Blackfriars via the Temple’s.

I would happily meet with John regardless of gain, but I may now gain work from meeting him.

Also called in at the Harp and the Porcupine.

Was so low in sugar I had flashing lights on Arden Road, but am now fine; and the adrenalin and rushing means the alcohol has probably been burnt.

My old lady got stuck in the lavortry
Till 4 big firemen came and set her free
And saved Bev from a flush of despair

Ma has been verging on illness for a few days, although that has not stopped her carrying gallon jars of wine and cider about and syphoning them when I am out. More distressing for her than the possible illness is the fact that her hands are getting badly arthritic; so bad that there will be no more knitting, so the cardy and jumper heritage is now just what there is left from the moths.

After years of effort on mine and my brother’s part today I got a definite date for her first automatic washing machine, within the week as well. At the same time she will be getting lever taps.

I have not done much these last few days apart from cook for my mother and me, and try and sort out the old ibook so she has a chance of using it.

Ma had got out a rump steak for Sunday dinner. I cooked using this Delia Smith recipe. It was the best steak I have ever cooked. Unfortunately ma announced she could not eat steak because she has not got her new bottom denture yet!? Fortunately she had some prawns in the fridge,which I forced on her, mixed with the sauce. She enjoyed that.

Unfortunately the Aligot (Mashed Potatoes with Garlic and Cheese) from Delia proved to be a bit of a sod. It uses an electric hand mixer, which is not the same and the single handed, single whisk thing I bought ma last year. It did not have the power and the lack of contra-rotating blades meant more than the average amount of potato found walls, work top and clothes.

The old ibook was a bit of a chore. I cannot find a duplicate remover that will work with OS 10.4.7. I also cannot get on apple app store with it. It is old, and it heats up, but usable’ leastways it was before I made it, supposedly, easier to use. The bloody thing keeps moving the cursor to earlier in the text for no reason I can figure, and highlighting and deleting things as it does, whilst cing which window is is at the front.chan I supuld be an excuse for bad pose it co and spelling, but that is a poor reason for having something that makes me even more than usually unintelligible.

Another long journey yesterday. On the train from Leeds a young cello-violinist called Alex Marshall came and sat on my table. She was on her way from Leeds College of Music to MC a youth music show at the Hawth. I should have gone but I was so, so tired when I got in.

Alex is definitely one to watch; bright, cute, able to take advice. She was going to write out her cue cards; I suggested she write them on her iMac and read them from there; and she really appreciated it as a usable idea, especially as she had a remote, which is something I must get for my own shows. She also declared me to be a hero for getting us on the train she needed for Three Bridges (although the only really heroic part was not going for beer at the Betjeman).

I got to Leeds via a 760 Keighley bus from Shipley. I wanted to see autumn in the Aire Valley, but sat on right side of the odd single-decker bus, at the back, so could only see out of one side, which was mostly semi-detached ribbon development with not even many good gardens.

I had time to buy some ‘in-ear’ headphones (£6 from Leeds’ Wilkinsons as opposed to £20 from W.H.Smiths in the station) and some beer from the Scarborough (very talkative barmaid who supply teaches, I don’t want to go back to teaching) and the Hop (first visit, good beer, no function room but still possible as a venue for a Pie & Priestley).

The below is part of an answer I wrote to Linda’s comment and questions about New Enterprise Allowance. I am putting it in a new post to raise it’s search engine profile, seeing it will probably be the best advice on the subject on the web.

Once you tell the jobcentre you want to investigate the possibility of seeking New Enterprise Allowance you fill in a form (which you should be able to do in a single signing) and they will send it to, and try and make you an appointment with, whichever company has been subcontracted to run the thing in your area. This could take months, as the Government has not committed much money and the contractors are creaming what is given, so there are not enough people being paid to to run the scheme to cope with the demand.

You need to push your Jobcentre if you want to get things moving quickly. You also have to be ‘actively seeking work’ and sign on until you actually start getting paid NEA.

I am told by Bradford Chamber of Commerce (the Bradford sub-contractors) I will be automatically entitled to Housing Benefit if I am granted NEA, but I do not believe them because Housing Benefit is a nightmare ratpit who will issue an automatic court summons if they or the Benefit Agency, make a mistake; and this scheme already has the Hallmarks of a modern British Government mistake.

Also be aware that the scheme can pay less than what some will be receiving on Income Based Jobseekers Allowance for 3 months, then a lot less for the next 3.

Having said that the scheme can allow you space to experiment with self employment and break the cycle of unemployment if you stick it out for 6 months.

Once you are interviewed by the subcontractor you have either 8 or 12 weeks to do a business plan. Once you submit one that passes you will get NEA very quickly.

You may not have to prove you will make money in the business, just that you have legitimate grounds to be allowed to research and develop a business.

You will be offered classes in self employment and writing a business plan if you need them.

You may be given a mentor, with whom you have to sign an agreement. This and attending any classes you agree to attend are, sort of, compulsory.

What you get will probably depend on who you get to talk to. I have been lucky with most of the advisors I have had, but some have been an utter waste of time, air and space.

I have written the below as part of the process of investigating New Enterprise Allowance funding. I have posted it here mostly for my own record. I may move it or take it off soon

From the early 1980’s: Created and published annual Walburgas cards, with original poems and illustrations. Collated and created a handmade book of the poetry and drawings: Walbrgas forgetting – forgiving, in 1997. Sold 70, including one to Kenneth Branagh.

2003: Wrote a business plan, got a business start-up grant, become self employed, and published Walburgas. Launched the book at the, then, National Museum of Film, Photography & Television. Have sold a total of around 500, including editions to the National Poetry Library.

2004: Produced and performed in my first one man: Walbrgas forgetting – forgiving show, in the West End of London. Included projected graphics and a bagpiper.

2005: Wrote and published The Wayne Jacobs Little Red Head Book – a book about read headed footballers and the mysteries of red hair. First as a hand made edition then published with advertising backing. Over 500 sold, including copies to international footballer John Aldridge, Ed Balls MP and Colin Firth.

2006: Was commissioned to work on the Stedders Football & Real Ale Guides. I was the cultural editor and also helped run the press campaign.

Earnings from all the above allowed me to sign off for 4 years.

2004 to date. I developed a web presence and own a range of URL’s, including bradwan.co.uk and .com. This included a fully functioning set of websites.

I have produced and performed in a series of shows:

Walburgas Day Show (annually).
∆ Pie & Priestley (annually).
∆ Curry & Kipling (annually plus, including commissions).
∆ The Little Britton Festival, celebrating Thomas Britton the musical coalman of Clerkenwell Green.
∆ The Old Rhyme Music Hall Shows (commissions).
∆ Bard of the Red Beard shows at national red headed festivals in Wales and Morley (commissions).
∆ The UK Hat Throwing Championship (annually for the last 3 years).
∆ Hayseed Dixie’s Loopallu Poet in Residence 2005 and 2006.

Some of the above where granted loss guarantees by Bradford Council, but most of the non-commissioned ones were on either a split profit in lieu of hire, with the venue, or at my own risk.

I have been mentored by Tamar, Kenneth Branagh’s PA.

Plus points

I have strong branding, several USPs, and repeated proved that I can create and deliver original cultural projects.

I have developed a wide range of production, marketing and performance skills which have improved through producing, performing and marketing.

I have had wide press coverage, including a feature in the Daily Telegraph, Yorkshire Life, and in Wetherspoon’s News. I also have a reasonable relationship with Radio Leeds, who cover my Yorkshire events.

I run a blog which publishes to twitter, and a Facebook page.

Minus points

I have not made enough money to stay off the dole, and being on the dole makes it very hard for me to generate any kind of self employed business.

I am capable of doing so many things I have ended up doing too many things for each project (although experience is lessening the problem).

I have not been able to turn successes into repeat business.

While I have developed production and marketing tools I am still in a position where every new show involves me finding and negotiating for venue, funding, other performers and sometimes crew; and then marketing it. All this before I do anything about the show.

I have not been able to produce a show with the specific intention of inviting agents (a key aim suggested by Tamar).

I no longer have a web presence, and have not had time to reinstate any part of it.

I have film footage, photos, press clippings and more, but do not have showreels or general marketing packs and have only just started getting footage of shows on-line.

I have also not had time to focus on:
∆ Organising an exhibition of my work.
∆ Writing, producing and publishing new work.
∆ or developing the old books as editions for Kindle and apps stores.

The key question is:

Can New Enterprise Allowance support me in building myself further as a business?

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