Thursday, June 27, 2013

Some nice vistas (I hope)

What a crazy start to Wimbledon with Federer, Nadal, Sharapova and several other big names all out in the first round and a half. There have also been a record number of retirements (seven last night); the All England Club made a statement defending the preparation of their courts. Maybe the players, rather than the courts, are underprepared - the grass-court season is so short. In 2015 the gap between Roland-Garros and Wimbledon will be extended to three weeks (I've always thought the biggest thing that needs changing in world tennis is the calendar; that's a good start). I was reading an old Sports Illustrated article from 1975 advocating sweeping changes to the game. It could almost have been written today. I'm glad only a few of the suggested changes have actually come to fruition in the last 38 years. The sit-down at the end of a set (and not after the first game of a set) was definitely a positive change that came in around the turn of the century.

Now that Mum has some spare time, she watches a helluva lot of sport on telly, especially netball and basketball. Dad despairs at the amount of netball she watches - often back-to-back games - and I can see where he's coming from. I mean the game itself can be watchable but it's the competition that seems so contrived. So what if the Swing are thrashing the Sting. Dad wishes she made better use of her brain. When I was about eight she attended night classes in maths. She taught me some of what she learnt - for ages I thought "integer" rhymed with "beggar".

Dad has started getting bad headaches again. They're not quite the debilitating migraines he had for so long, but they're bad nonetheless. And they follow the same weekly cycle, starting on Wednesday, worsening on Thursday, peaking on Friday and tailing off over the weekend. If he starts getting full-blown migraines again, life could soon become intolerable for him, not just because of the pain but also Mum's total lack of sympathy. Many times Dad would be writhing around in bed in agony, and Mum would accuse him of "playing up" as if he were a disobedient child. She wouldn't pop in every now and then to see how he was. Nothing like that. And heaven help Dad if they were supposed to go out somewhere. All hell would break loose. I love Mum dearly but her attitude to Dad's headaches (or any other illness he might have) is something I can't forgive.

I helped Dad with his computer issues, or tried to (I'm no expert). Their PC is painfully slow. On several occasions Dad mentioned taking a hammer to it. Of course they've got bloody Vista, and as we all know, Vista means death.

Yesterday's flight from Timaru was a very pleasant one, although being on the sea side of the plane I missed what would have been a great view of the snow-covered mountains. As always the whole experience of flying from Timaru was almost totally stress-free.

A view of the mountains outside my parents' house in Geraldine yesterday. You could see the wind blowing the snow off.

This was on the way to the airport.
At Timaru airport yesterday. My brother's skydiving operation uses the same model of aircraft.
Shortly after take-off yesterday, from inside the 19-seater plane.

After a really nice time away (I needed the break) It was back to work for me today. I missed a lot of excitement with last Thursday night's storm: there was talk of windows blown out and screaming kids. The coast took a real battering.

Until I started talking to customers, I didn't realise how tight money is for so many people. For so many customers it's absolutely vital that we deduct premiums on the right day or else the money won't be there. We're often talking twenty or thirty dollars. Being paid fortnightly instead of monthly can make a huge difference. For me it wouldn't make a lot of difference whether I was paid quarterly or hourly. I don't earn much and I have a mortgage so why are things so different for me? The main reason is simply that I only have to provide for one person, not four or more. I did once earn considerably more (if not big bucks) and that has helped my financial position. I can also thank my parents who have always been careful with money; their attitude has rubbed off onto me. Plus, unlike most people, I rarely have the urge to spend. More stuff often means more hassle. Funnily enough, in my old job in Auckland, as my salary increased my discretionary spending went down. With each exam I passed and every step I took up the pay scale, I built another layer on top of my house of cards which could come crashing down at any time.

Mum turned 64 two weeks ago; Dad's 63rd birthday is tomorrow. To celebrate and to show appreciation for everything they've done for me (such as picking me up from Christchurch) I bought them six bottles of wine while I was down there. They didn't think I should spend money on them while I'm trying to pay off my mortgage on my current income. A few years ago I'd buy a case of twelve more expensive bottles and they wouldn't think I was being extravagant. They worry a lot about how much money my brother and I have (or not).

I played badminton last night in Karori with the anxiety group. The organiser was intent on making a competition out of it all. She wrote the scores down and covered up the sheet after every game as if it was all a big secret. Someone on the sidelines scored each game but lost track so badly it seemed points were being given out randomly. Of course it doesn't matter but I find it hard to concentrate when someone shouts out "six-all" and you know you should be a handful of points up (or down, as the case may be). We had some very good rallies; it would be nice if this could be a regular thing.

I saw an interesting article on the Guardian website, provoking (so far) over 1700 comments. Apparently so-called Gen Y-ers (I'm right on the cusp of that age range) are supporting the Tories. The article starts off by saying, "If you want a good idea of where Britain might be headed, go to Peterborough." I had to laugh at one commenter who said, in that case heaven help us. I lived in Peterborough for eight months before moving to NZ. My flat wasn't much to write home about (and that's being kind) and my job was poorly paid but I have quite happy memories of my time there.

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