Three Bikes and Work.

My cunning plan to sell my old bike to pay for the new one hasn’t paid off yet. I suppose I’m the only idiot who buys motorbikes in the middle of winter in a lockdown. It didn’t sell on th’ebay, and after I’d listed it I realised they want 10% of your selling fee for listing it! Say, £240 to sell your bike! I’ve put it on Autotrader for 6 weeks for £32. And Gumtree for free. I put it through the MOT without a problem, but then had to cancel the insurance on it to transfer my no claims bonus to the new bike. I’ve moved my old bike into the garden and moved my new one round the front. Now I’ve just got to wait for lockddown to ease and the weather to warm so the old one will sell.

I took the new one out for a quick blast as it was unseasonably mild and sunny the other day.

It’s not the prettiest of bikes, but it’s amazingly capable. I’ve taken the boxes off the back until I need them, you just unlock them and press a button and they lift off. I did a dry run loading the boxes. I can fit my proper boots, bike leather and layers in the side boxes, my lid and waterproofs in the top box. I am set! Roll on my first marathon in May. That’s down in Milton Keynes so it will be a good test. It does the luggage thing, it seems economical and comfortable. There is great wind protection so it’s not noisy. And it is a hoot! Unlike it’s engine donor bike, the banzai Fireblade, you don’t feel you should be winding it up all the time and getting peak performance near the red. This is especially frustrating as second gear is good for 90, so you thrash through two gears then have to back off the fun or lose your license. This one doesn’t need winding up. Whatever gear you are in you can just open the throttle and the acceleration will sit you back in the saddle. I was on a twisty country lane, patiently sat behind two cars, there was a small straight so I pulled out and opened it up. The bike just exploded past them like they were in reverse. It took a lot of the fun out of it, in a way. I can’t wait to ride it properly.

My third bike from the title is my triathlon pushbike. All I wanted to do was tighten the gear shifter thing in the end of the handlebars. I took the shifter off, tightened the nut, put the shifter back on, the gears had gone really stiff. Took it off. Reassembled it. Nope. Looked it up on the internet, tried again. No. I finally got the shifter working but suddenly it felt like I had an extra few inches of cable. I’d lost all tension in the gear cable. I have no idea how. Both ends of the cable remained fixed at all times, yet suddenly the cable is totally slack. Lots of head scratching. I took it apart several more times. Somehow I got tension back but the gears shifters were stiff again. Then the cable on the other gear shifter, which I hadn’t even touched, went slack. Enough. I know when I’m beaten. When the laws of physics cease to apply I give in and take it to the bike shop. I took it in this morning.

I’ve been having a clear out. I realised I had tons of bike stuff that I’m never going to use. I was just going to shove it in bags and throw it in the shed, when that finally gets here, but then I wondered why. It’s not stuff I’m ever going to use. The road gear shifters which I’ve taken off for triathlon bar end shifters, cycling shoes that I bought that were supposed to be wide fit, but weren’t. Workshop manuals for a bunch of bikes I’ve sold. Rather than hoarding it all I decided to sell it. I didn’t know how much to put the gear shifters on sale for, ebay suggested £35 so I went with it. They sold for £163! That bike really was a bargain. It turns out just the gear shifters are £280- 350 new!

I’m happy with that. Of the 12 items listed only 3 didn’t sell. Most of them were a tenner or so, but I’ve cleared some room and made some money. It’s all good.

I’ve finally dug out the base for the shed. It should have been a lot easier but I’ve been hampered by the sabotaging of moronic younger me. I’ve been cursing him steadily. The amount of plastic, metal, plant pots, basically anything I couldn’t be bothered to take to the tip or throw in the bin, that has been stashed behind the shed! And so much rubble. Young me threw it all behind the shed. Then threw all garden waste on top. Eventually it formed a decent compost, layered through with every kind of rubbish. Which has meant digging it out has involved pulling out sheets of plastic, digging around logs, sorting half rotted plastic bag bits out of the soil and separating all the lumps of concrete. It’s taken forever. If I ever meet young me he’s getting such a punch.

Dug now. Then I started trying to flatten it out and realised there is a 2′ wide stretch that runs across it that is pure mud. You tamp it down and it oozes mud. In the end I used all three bags of rubble I’ve not yet taken to the tip to firm it up. It just kept sucking the rubble under the mud. I think I’ve done enough for now. Now I need to tie some string around some sticks, make sure the string is flat with a spirit level, roughly level the dirt, put down the ground sheet, then it’s get the sand down, the plastic tile things, the gravel, and then collapse. I’ve still got 3 weeks or so, so I can pace myself.

Work have ruined my decadent 3 days a week lifestyle by putting me on 4 days for two weeks. This is good as I’ve just found out that because I’ve only worked for 8 of the last 14 weeks, I’ve not qualified for the 12 weeks pay parity. Instead of the £17.54 I’ve been on it has gone down to £12 p/h for the next 4 weeks.

I was looking at the pay chart for Royal Mail and getting a bit miffed. Overtime, £2.50 extra an hour? No Bank Holiday pay? 6th Shift at standard overtime rate? No paid breaks?

At Booker it was time and a third for overtime, time and three quarters for 6th shift, double time and day in lieu for Bank Holidays, paid breaks.

Then I did the maths. Time and a third, or time and three quarters is all about working over your 45 hours, and it’s multiples of £12.57. For a flat week of 45 hours Booker was £565 (with paid breaks), Royal Mail would be £700 (after stopping 5 hours breaks). Oh. Right. Fair enough. Not that I can see myself getting taken on any time soon. There are tons of agency workers before me in the queue, and Royal Mail is dead man’s shoes.

But if I can get 4 shifts for now, then 5, then all the hours I want in peak period, it could comfortably pay the bills. And if the only other company who pay like this (Home Bargains) advertise, I can have a go at that.

I was talking to Lisa about it. She’s on flat rate £8 p/h even if she works Christmas Day. That is criminal. Not that she is working right now. She’s still off with sciatica.

Lisa has a vent pipe from her tumble dryer that she puts out the kitchen window. To do that she has to hop on to the table. She fell off and has broken two toes on her good foot! Oh Lisa! I told her to get her son to do it, he’s young and is used to hospitals from his brief career as a biker.

Wendy is still poorly ill. There’s no signs of the pills kicking in any time soon. Poor sausage. She’s worried that if she doesn’t get back to work they could sack her. I don’t think there’s any danger of that, but personally I’m not sure that would be a bad thing. If she wasn’t working there it would give her the stimulus to try something else. While I was working at Booker I kept looking but I doubt I’d have ever left. Wendy’s the same but more so. Seeing only the people who’s plans have crashed and burned, non-stop, every day, has made her a bit negative and very cautious. She is scared to leave a steady job, however bad it is for her. You can’t put a price on sanity and mental health. I’d prefer her to be a happy lollipop lady than a loony debt advisor. It’s just not worth it.

Right, some Dino’s and bedtime.

First though, our hero, the human rights lawyer, people’s champion, the saviour of the Labour Party, Sir Keir: