Buzzing away in a damp bunker and singing Hallelujah

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Did you know that thinking about your death or mortality before a race improves your performance? That’s what I read in an article. There’s something about that thought which puts our brains into hyper-survival mode and improves physical capability. I will give this idea a go at my next racing event.

I didn’t just randomly start with the above in mind. In order to run Paris, I need to provide the organizers a form signed by my doctor which basically says that I won’t die half way through the marathon.

As a perfectly sane and rational male of the 21st century, I’ve been successfully avoiding the doctor for the last six years. Why see a doctor if I I’m invincible and can Google everything, right? And this time has been amazing. However, all good things come to an end.

In late December I surmised all my courage and dialed the local GP (General Practitioner – that’s what they call a doctor here) on my phone. I had to physically go there to fill in a form to register – it couldn’t be done online. I sort of expected to see a doctor once I handed in the application but they said it’ll take about a week to process it. Things aren’t exactly efficient here at the NHS (National Health Service).

Anywho, about two weeks later I found myself being examined by Dr K. That sounds a bit dull, so let’s call her Dr Dre. At first she was a bit puzzled about why I was there and why she had no prior medical data about me on the system. She asked me the same questions from the form I had already filled in – so much for “processing” my form.

I explained that I needed her to sign my paper so I can run in Paris. Dr Dre decided to measure my blood pressure instead. It was high. She did it again. High. And a third time. Still high. I had to come back next week. She didn’t sign anything.

I came back to see the nurse for a new reading. This time the blood pressure was lower but still high. The second and third measurements were slightly lower but not good enough. I had to book another appointment.

Today I went back to get a blood pressure thingy on my arm, which I need to have on me over the next 24 hours. It takes a reading every 20-50 minutes and buzzes and clicks as it does its magic. Each time it registers the reading and then the doctors can get an average over a day. The whole idea is to rule out white coat syndrome where my blood pressure shoots through the roof whenever I see a doctor or nurse. If it’s still high even after the 24 hours they will need to do some further more invasive tests. By the way the device scares the crap out of me every time it starts – I’m rather skeptical about whether this device will do the trick for me.

Obviously, the moment I got my new toy I went off to my acting class. I thought the other kids would never notice… The class started as usual with all of us sitting in a circle sharing ideas of any good or bad acting we’ve seen in movies/plays/theaters to share experiences and make recommendations. Then we had to put the chairs back to the walls. That’s then it started buzzing – I need to sit still and try to relax during the measuring. And the bloody thing doesn’t get its reading on the first go, or the second, or the third. It stopped making noises after the fourth try and by then everybody was staring at me thinking why is this guy ignoring the teacher’s instructions. I explained it quickly and they all now probably think that I’m dying or something. My flu and occasional coughs didn’t exactly do me any favors.

Let me fill you in on the flu as well. I ran a half marathon when it was nice and cold outside – around 2 degrees. I was sick before the race and as a completely reasonable human being I thought that a little run can’t make it any worse. Oh boy was I wrong. First of all it was a fairly crappy finishing time (1 hour 34 minutes and something) which was followed by a week of coughing my lungs out. 10/10 experience, totally worth it. 😀

I know what you’re thinking… acting!!! Where did that come from? Well, boys and girls, it gets better. I didn’t add just acting classes to my repertoire I’m also learning to sing.

The seed was planted when I started my new job as a financial adviser – a job which is quite different from anything I’ve done before. I started singing classes to add vocal variety to my speech – this will hopefully make it more interesting for my clients to listen when I talk and help me have more “presence” with my voice in meetings. The acting classes have a big improvisation component and client meetings have a big element of that – I need to learn to think on my feet, also entertain and make it an enjoyable and memorable experience.

In all fairness I thought that acting and singing would make me very uncomfortable and that it would be a massive move out of my comfort zone – but it’s not as bad as I imagined. Yes, we do things which are uncomfortable and sometimes embarrassing but it gets better with practice.

My favorite part about the acting classes is watching the other kids perform an impromptu sketch. They always mess it up and it’s hilarious. The course ends with us performing a small scene where two of us are in a bunker and the world has ended due to a nuclear war.

Singing is weird. It’s not something I normally do but I quite enjoy it. I even made a YouTube playlist of videos which have lyrics on them so I can sing along. My current favorite is the Hallelujah song from the movie Shrek. A close second is Let It Go from Frozen (although it’s quite a tongue-twister). I sing when I’m sad and then I’m a little less sad. It’s amazing how that works.

The Protein Deficient Vegan

The newest Fairey in town

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It’s been a long time coming…

They announced the acquisition of my employer back in April. This created a fair bit of uncertainty and tension at work. I wasn’t worried because good paraplanners are in great demand in London. However, just in case, I started to browse job ads – you know… I gotta take care of myself.

I was really looking for an improvement to my current situation (more money and career progression) and didn’t want to simply change employers whilst staying in the exact same line of work. Recruiters really struggled with this concept as they kept pestering me with paraplanner opportunities.

I had an interview at an accounting firm, which had a financial planning arm. They needed an all-things-financial specialist. The interview went really well. At least, so I thought. They promised to get back to me within a week’s time. However, not a single peep. After three weeks, I sent an email to the recruiter who I was in touch with and said that I do not want anything to do with him or that accounting business and explained how disappointing their communication was. It’s a very poor sign if your employer starts breaking promises from the very beginning.

After that email, they immediately got back to me to get me into another meeting to chat with the wider team and managers etc. I wasn’t interested. I wasn’t desperate… and that put me into a much better bargaining position. Maybe I’m an idealist but I would like to work for a company which treats its employees well. My “no” decision was not up for debate.

Moving on, somehow my old boss found out I was looking for jobs. He later told me that one of the guys from a recruitment agency told him he had received my resume. So much for confidentiality… I will never trust recruiters again. It’s sad that such immoral people exist. However, that’s the world we live in. Welcome to London!

My old boss (from the company in Chelmsford) called me and said in his cheeky cheerful voice something along the lines of “a little bird told me you’re on the market again”. This was followed by a big hearty explosion of laughter. I agreed to meet up at his newly opened London office. We had a catch up and he made me an offer to join the dark side.

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I did a bit of soul searching in Spain (zouk festival near Barcelona) and on my return I decided that I’ll jump ship. So I handed in my notice and my three month clock started.

It’s quite a long time to wait three months to start a new venture. Eventually, the sand in the hourglass passed and now I’m the newest Fairey in town. This new chapter is called IFA (Independent Financial Adviser), which is exactly what I set out to do since my first job interview at this very company about 2.5 years ago.

I’ve been wearing my new adviser hat for a few weeks now and in all fairness I have a long way to go. However, I’m hugely optimistic. If Leo can get an Oscar, UK vote for Brexit, and Donald Trump can become president, I can surely become one of UKs top financial advisers.

Big boss man thinks that the best way for me to learn is to make me as uncomfortable as possible. At times, it’s certainly challenging, with a hint of occasional embarrassment and a dash of feelings of worthlessness. The deep end of the pool looked a lot scarier a few weeks ago. I’ve made some progress.

So.

If you guys need some financial advice, hit me up. I’m sure my financial planning magic will leave you in a state of eternal happiness, joy and serenity.

Oh and I don’t have to wear a tie at work. Life is good again!

Ivar

Replacing Hot Chocolate

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is impossible. But we tried. We had about 100 people responding to the ad overall but only six viewings of which five on the same day. Luckily Mr Handsome was at home and did most of the talking. I was tasked with just being pretty and flicking my luscious hair every now and then.

The first kid was very young (21), British, had a babyface and works less than a minute from here. He was also a runner but a fairly lazy one – a few 5K’s here and there a week. He was very nervous and seemed like a good kid. I think he was too excited about the potential of living in this amazing location and also so close to work. On the downside it didn’t seem like we had much in common.

The second chap was French, 27. He was vegetarian but a fairly awkward chap as well. I liked this guy more than Babyface because he was interesting, unusual and closer to my age. However, we weren’t able to get a conversation going with him. His answers were very repetitious such as “cool, cool, cool” and “great, great, great, yes, yes, yes”.  I think he loved the flat a bit too much.

The third guy was also French but this dude came across as a lazy bugger. He loved to sleep in a lot, loved cooking and watching lots of French league football. We got along well and he said he’d love to take the room. However, we had to say no to him (not to his face of course, a day later) as we figured that he wasn’t sophisticated enough to go through all the crappy agency checks to be allowed to move in.

The next guy said he was from New Zealand, which was a lie. Not a great strategy dude. He was actually Russian and lived for 5-10 years in NZ. He came across as a proper douchebag and I couldn’t wait until he left the flat. The reason why he was looking for a new place is becaue he’s not getting along with his other housemates and they can’t agree on anything. I like that he was truthful about that but I had discounted him even before that revelation. His entire persona screamed that “I don’t care about what you have to say”, “I’m always right”, “My way or the highway” etc. Easiest  NO decision ever!

The last guy for the day works for the same company as Babyface (1 min walk from here) and worked as an investment analyst. He was born in Iran but has been living in the UK since the age of 2. We got along really well, had a bit of a chat about his work and my work and the overlap… and it was fun. I figured this is our guy.

Next day we broke the news to Iran but weren’t impressed by his response. He was saying some crap about getting his girlfriend in as well for a month or so… and that she was really nice and quiet and easy to get along with etc. Anywho, I decided this guy is a fucking liar and has no integrity. Why didn’t he mention any of this the day before?

We wanted to see a few more people before Hot Chocolate  left to Italy for a few days. We were only able to get one person for that evening. This chap was from Ireland. I recalled living with a few Irish (among other nationals) back in Bundaberg and didn’t have any bad experiences. In fact it was quite the opposite. Nothing but good memories and I also remembered this gorgeous Irish girl at a zouk festival I went to, and she was amazing. Ireland worked for the same company as Babyface and Iran, similarly in some finance job. Another bonus is that he plays the guitar. I figured I could use him as my lucky charm whenever I play the lottery or go to Las Vegas. He’d come in handy!

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A few days later the lucky Irishman moved in. I haven’t really seen him much – he comes home past my bed time. He got smashed yesterday as he was having a massive hangover this afternoon but oddly enough went to work today (it’s Sunday).

Amazon has moved out and the Golden Girl is moving in today. I’m looking forward to having a full house again.

I don’t think Ireland will replace Hot Chocolate. It’s been very quiet and boring since my psychologist left this flat and the country. I wish him all the best and that he figures out what he wants to do with his life. I can only hope that the new kids are maybe just a tenth as amazing and entertaining as he was. And maybe one day Amazon learns how to love and not to hate.

Replacing Amazon

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It is official. Nobody loves me. Two of my housemates are moving out. Hot Chocolate is leaving because he is going travelling for six freaking months and Amazon is leaving because she hates me.

Anywho the kids advertised their respective rooms on SpareRoom and booked in some viewings. We had plenty of interest. I didn’t really want to be involved with the housemate search too much but as I am the only one stuck living here I had to be present to make sure I picked somebody I would get along with.

The bigger and most expensive room in the flat had a bit less interest and it was mostly from girls. I think it’s because Amazon’s room looks very girly and no man with an ounce of self-respect would want to live there. As Amazon decided to take off to her homeland and Mr Chocolate was busy getting his travel visas etc sorted, I was the only one who was tasked with meeting the potential tenants for Amazon’s room. Although Amazon and Hot Chocolate were present during the first two “interviews”.

We had a Chinese man who was working as an analyst at a bank but I didn’t get a good vibe from him. I remembered living with a Vietnamese guy back in Brisbane who fried disgusting stuff every day and never washed up. I’ve seen Karl Pilkington’s An Idiot Abroad and I know what disgusting things the Chinese eat. We didn’t seem to click and it was tricky to get a conversation going with the chap. It was a no from me.

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Moving on we had a kid who works for SnapChat. He was young and cheerful but very nervous. His leg kept twitching back and forth when I interviewed him. He seemed OK but I wasn’t convinced that this guy was quite right. NEXT!

A girl working for Deutsche Bank showed up late one evening. She came across really well until I asked her about where she’s from. She was Turkish. I’ve had some bad experiences with Turks you know…. Alarm bells were ringing loud and clear. So I asked her if she had a visa to stay in the UK and she had a few issues – her visa was due to be extended and it was a thing in progress she reassured me. She said her paperwork was all ready and that the next day she was going to Turkey to formally apply to extend her visa – she had to be outside of the UK to apply and keep the British bureaucrats happy. I thought that she would never pass the reference checks for the flat. However, I didn’t want to break her heart just yet. As we continued chatting I discovered that she also works super long days… almost all workdays are 10+ hours with a very short lunch which she usually eats at her desk. Wow, I thought. She was doing some corporate banking gig, which probably paid really well but that came at the cost of having no social life whatsoever. It was so bad I felt like I should give her a hug. A bit later I also discovered that she was a smoker, which was a non-negotiable no-no with my new housemates. I spent more than an hour chatting with her… In retrospect I should’ve kicked her out way sooner but I actually tried to find reasons why she would be the first Turkish person who would change my perception of that nationality. However, that didn’t happen. NEXT!

I had an Aussie girl who works for Ernst and Young. She was a posh accountant who came across very rich and fancy. I think I had the shortest interview with her. This girl was from Sydney and when I told her I spent two years in Australia, mostly in Brisbane, her response was that Brisbane is really boring and that nothing ever happens there. Oi!, That sure wasn’t a smart thing to say. I didn’t argue and acknowledged that Sydney is so big, I’m sure there’s always something fun to do there. She, of course, agreed. I asked her the visa question as well and she said – rather importantly – that her employer spent tens of thousands of pounds to get her ass to London and granted her a minimum two year visa for the UK. If she was to leave E&Y, she’d have to pay it all back and there was no chance in hell of that happening. I didn’t like her attitude or her persona. I had a big smile on my face after I kicked her out. Later I got a message from Amazon (as she was the one who arranged the viewing) that the Aussie girl loved me and would like to take the room. I could not believe it. It was a flat out NO from me. Next!

The next girl was from Belarus. She was absolutely stunning – tall, very fit, with long blonde golden hair in a ponytail, she was very polite and in every way perfect. I was in love. In fact I would’ve paid her rent for the privilege of breathing the same air with her. She worked for Bank of America and similarly to the Turkish girl, had very long working hours. She was a dancer as well and does a bit of running too. She ticked so many boxes I was all smiles. Unfortunately, she didn’t think the room was good value for money as she had tons of stuff and was worried how she’d fit it all in. Oh well… I cried a little when she left.

As the blood returned to my brain I realized I had another meeting that day. This time it was a German girl. She was very young – 21, and 22 in a few weeks time. She did some corporate banking stuff as well – and just like Belarus and Turkey – she worked very long hours. In fact, it was a Sunday and she said that she came from work to see the room and after our chat went back to work. Welcome to corporate banking!

Anywho, she came across really well – I am so biased here…. I had so many positive experiences with Germans in Australia that I think they’re all great people. She was quite funny and I noticed that she played with her hair when she was talking to me…you know rolling it between her fingers, pulling a few strands through her lips… – textbook signs of attraction. Or maybe… she was just manipulating me. I didn’t know what to think, so naturally I picked her.

I quite liked her really. She was young and beautiful and had that spark in her eyes – the one which withers away as work beats the life out of you. She reminded me of my Australian kids when I met them. She works for Goldman Sachs – that’s a fairly difficult thing to do… especially at 21. I would love to work there. I think she’s rich and/or has very well connected family. And, if we don’t get along, she would never be in the flat anyway as she works all the time.

She decided to take the room and now is in the process of being terrorized by the agency and their referencing process. Fingers crossed she makes it to the other end.

I will tell you about the second housemate in the next post.

Ivar

Richmond Park Marathon

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“Must. Keep. Pace. [breathe]” was my mantra for about 20 minutes until I stopped running. I made the same mistake again. Just like the Chelmsford marathon, the Richmond Park race was a multi-terrain course and everything started hurting real quick. You see, I trained on the pavement but not on a combination of grass, gravel and road. You might think it doesn’t matter much but over the course of 26.2 miles / 42.2 kilometers the pain and agony and discomfort adds up. Bit by bit.

Following the Chelmsford marathon (finished in about 3:50) I remember I told myself that it was not worth going through all of that pain. I should’ve quit and gone back home to lick my wounds. I made a promise to myself that I’d never run a multi-terrain course without proper training again. However, two years later I forgot about it and that’s how I found myself in the this particular pickle of a situation.

Things at Richmond Park started out quite well actually. I decided to run with the 3H pacer and follow him for as long as possible. I was blissfully unaware about the course for about half an hour. Then the terrain started to gradually get crappier and crappier. I felt quite foolish and started questioning myself. Maybe the case with the Chelmsford marathon wasn’t about the terrain… maybe I didn’t train enough last time around etc. However, the pain in my ankles started to creep up and I began struggling with keeping up with the 3 hour chaps.

Not too long after that I lost sight of the 3 hour people. The race was lost. I was quite demoralized but kept going. Things started to look good again around the half marathon mark as I did that split in 1:31, which was almost 4 minutes faster than in my London marathon six months ago. I got a bit more confident and figured that I might actually finish faster this time around. All was not lost after all.

A few miles later, the pain got worse and I started my “Must. Keep. Pace [breathe]” mantra until that stopped working. This is the first race in which I stopped running and had to walk. I walked at least 10-15 minutes until I was able to start running again.

I finished in 3:35:48. 146th out of 680 runners:

richmondparkfinish

This is 14 minutes slower than my finish in the London marathon, which was a proper road race. Although I’m a bit disappointed with my finishing time today (I was hoping for a personal best), I’m pleased with the result given the circumstances. Oh! and I didn’t suffer anywhere as much as in the Chelmsford marathon this time around. I’m a bit fitter I guess.

I’m glad I took part in the marathon. Sure, it wasn’t what I expected but I finished and can still walk… you know… what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger. In addition I have another medal to add to my collection. Proof:

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My next race will be the Paris marathon on 9th April. I tried to get in on the Tokyo marathon (February 2017) but didn’t get in on the ballot. It’s way too expensive to go via the charity or travel agency route. I hope I have better luck next year.

It’s been a busy and rewarding weekend.

Ivar

Flashing in crowded places

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Every Sunday for the last six or so weeks I’ve been going to this place in Camden Town. It’s dodgy as hell. You need to go under a rail station bridge, walk through a dark garage which smells like motor oil and exhaust fumes, then take a turn into a narrow tunnel, walk into the light and see how far the rabbit hole goes. We’re not quite there yet, but almost. Take a left and with a sigh of relief you can see the entrance to the studio. It’s always locked but all you need to do is press the buzzer and it opens up. Then up the stairs and bingo, we’re in the money.

I was always late because I run on Sundays and tend to underestimate my finishing times. Once, I was an hour and 20 minutes late – I hope nobody noticed.

The room is warm, hot yoga warm. I’ve never done hot yoga but you know what I mean. Anywho, all the kids are up there practicing a little routine we are doing for the International Zouk Day.

I have very fond memories of the first time I flashed in Australia three years ago. I was very keen on doing it again when Miss Valentine asked what our thoughts were on doing it in London. I said I’ll do it but the other three parties were more reserved and less enthusiastic about it.

Fast forward to September 17. This is it – the Big Day. Following a quick 20 minute run and a chat with a potential new housemate I headed out to a park near Kings Cross to meet up with the trio – Miss Valentine, Covanova and Lady Smiles. We rehearsed the performance a few times, declined an offer to buy weed from a friendly Londoner and headed towards the station.

England, being retarded, required all of us to sign a form, get a safety briefing and cough up £4 each for insurance before we were allowed to flash at Kings Cross station. It was quite a buzzkill. I’m glad Mr and Mrs BBQ handled the paperwork and took one for the team. Well done guys!

It was a very similar experience to my previous flashmob. People were all excited and nervous and anxious to make it all happen.

The music started playing. Only the main couple (teachers) flashed at first. All others gradually joined in as the crowd of travelers watched the spectacle come to life. One by one we claimed our spot on the floor – me and Miss Valentine had to fight some other kids for a place in the front row. It was brutal but worth it.

The first song was an introduction and entirely freestyle, followed by the main song and our performance. We got a massive applause and for a moment there was peace on earth – at least that’s what I’d like to think. We did about twenty minutes of social dancing (freestyle) afterwards and flashed again. For good luck!

Then we moved outside of the station and did all of the above again and then again at St Paul’s Cathedral. We were quite tired at the end of it but very happy.

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I had a lot of fun, made friends and am very pleased with our mob. I’d like to thank our teachers for doing an amazing job at showing us how flashing is done and adding a bit more life into our moments.

Unfortunately, I don’t have a video for you guys just yet. I will share it once I have it.

Besos,

Ivar

Brexit and a stinky fridge

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There’s three of us living here and our current fridge is tiny – about the size of a washing machine. We’ve been in need of some cold real estate expansion for a few months. However, nobody actually wanted to arrange it. We didn’t want to spend a fortune on it as our lease ends in April next year, so we kept putting it off.

It was a Sunday and Amazon was whining about our fridge situation. I amassed all of my negotiation skills and managed to empower her to take some initiative. She went on Gumtree and a call or two later had it all organized.

A day later we had our fridge delivered by some dodgy immigrants. There was a smell around the men when they delivered it. I thought the men smelled, but it was actually the fridge.

We were told not to turn it on for about two hours because of whatever lame dodgy fridge salesman excuse. So it just stood in the middle of the living room overnight.

Come morning time, and I switched the bad boy on. Immediate regret followed. The fridge was noisy as hell. I could not even hear my own thoughts when next to it. But it gets worse.

The inside of the fridge was quite smelly only to be surpassed by the stench coming from the back of it. That smell concentrated near my room and I was breathing all of that motor grease oily smell in whilst trying to get some sleep. I was worried I’d wake up dead.

First thing in the morning I unplugged the bloody thing and told my housemates we need to get rid of it. It was too noisy and made the entire flat smell. It had to go.

For reasons, which I don’t quite understand, Amazon did not share my sentiment and didn’t think the noise was excessive nor did the fridge smell in her infinite wisdom. I think she got attached to it because she picked it out and now has trouble coming to terms with making a poor consumer decision.

Anywho, I got my housemates’ blessing and listed the fridge on Gumtree for £50 (we bought it for £102). My ad didn’t attract any interest. Mr Chemistry said it’s not surprising and suggested I list it for free. I asked Amazon if she was OK with that and her words were “I don’t care”.

All my female readers will now think that “I bet he didn’t even know what that meant. It means precisely that this is going to be a massive issue if he “sells” it for free” and that’s exactly what happened. I got rid of the fridge today and my life was beautiful again. At least for a short while.

Before I went to bed I had a look at my trading portfolio which showed a small loss of around £50 because everybody thought the UK was going to remain in the UK. At least that’s what the money voted on. This is because all the bookies got a massive splurge of people coming in with bets for the UK to vote remain.

I woke up with an open loss of about £1,000. Not exactly the best start to the day! About 90% of the votes had been counted and Brexit was winning. I was quite surprised. I went for a run and couldn’t but help myself thinking that every other Brit is xenophobic and/or racist. This was a tough pill to swallow. I felt and still do feel quite unwelcome here.

The GET BACK TO YOUR OWN COUNTRY mentality is strong. I thought this was something people were jokingly saying but the Brits actually meant it. How terrible is that? I found myself asking do I want to live in a country where more than half the nation doesn’t want me here. Well… it’s not much of a question really. The answer is: No!

Fuck no!

I would have never moved to England if it wasn’t for the EU. I was in New Zealand before moving here and I think I would’ve stayed there if I had a crystal ball (I’d also be fabulously rich with my crystal ball but that’s another story…). I think I’ve played my cards wrong. Two and a half years I’ve been here and worked here and paid my taxes, never been on benefits, never commit a crime etc. Now I’m suddenly the enemy.

In all honesty it’s the 50+ year olds who voted out, the younger ones mostly voted remain. So the people who were faced with the shortest time of living with the consequences got their way and the younger generations with up to 50+ years ahead of them will have to clean up the mess. Or maybe older folks are more xenophobic and long for a time when racism and hate were cool?

People at work didn’t quite want to discuss this topic with me. It’s painfully obvious why – about half of them voted out which clearly means they think I’m a threat of some kind or a moocher or another bloody immigrant. You can’t even trust the ones who said they were “pro remain” as every second person voted out. They’re lying and don’t even have the balls to expose their xenophobia. Cowards!

I am an immigrant and I think I’m a better person because of that. In my book Estonia (that’s where I’m from) is also a very xenophobic hateful nation. I’ve lived in five countries so far, I’ve travelled to many more. I’ve seen the world and experienced different cultures – not just as a tourist but lived amongst the natives. I’ve grown as a man and become more open-minded and understanding in the process.

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Change the religions in the above picture to people with different nationalities. The message is the same.

“Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness, and many of our people need it sorely on these accounts. Broad, wholesome, charitable views of men and things cannot be acquired by vegetating in one little corner of the earth all one’s lifetime” – Mark Twain.

It’s a sad day.

And the best thing which happened was the moment the fridge was taken away. Sadly, this joy was also taken away from me when Amazon decided to make a scene about it. I don’t get it. I got all my housemates’ blessing to get rid of it, it was a horrible product – FFS there was brown smelly liquid stuff leaking from the back of it. Our financial loss was only £34 per person, which is peanuts. I just don’t understand her. Why are her precious feelings or emotional attachments so important? It was just a crappy fridge.

I would do the same again, any day. No regrets.

If you wanted, you could draw further parallels here. The fridge was the EU and I got rid of it because it’s a shitty product. However, the difference is that I know there are better products available which I can replace the fridge with. That’s not the case with leaving the EU, as there’s considerable uncertainty about the future. In fact, there is no leadership and nobody knows where this train of hate is heading to.

Sad Ivar

Touch here for POWER! – The Virgin Money London Marathon

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Benn said I better wear warm clothing today as the morning was very cold and it was raining. I was still in bed and thought today is gonna suck. He wasn’t joking – it was 5 degrees Celsius outside and quite windy.

I got to Greenwich park and continued to debate with myself whether I should keep my long sleeved running jacket on or not. The sun came out and the jacket came off. It felt like making a life and death decision back then.

10 AM and the marathon started. Previously I’ve always obsessed about pacing and running in specific heart rate zones. However, this time was different. I made the conscious choice to look around and take in the scenery, the people and the atmosphere. There was so much cheering around, many smiles and great effort by so many runners – man it was competitive. I though the runners would spread out after 5-10 km or so but no, there were always many runners around me.

A bit more than 39,000 people registered (however it’s not yet certain how many actually ran and finished).

My new pet peeve is high-fiveing kids’ little hands as I pass ‘em. I can’t do that every day you know.
All in all I think the crowd was amazing and they helped me heaps.

Some people made signs to encourage the runners. My favorite one read “Touch here for POWER!”  It made me smile.

It was roughly half way through the race when I reached my favorite stretch of the race –  the Tower Bridge and crossing the river. It was beautiful. And I didn’t even notice that approximately 20 km were already behind me. It all just happened effortlessly.

At the risk of sounding like a pussy I must admit I had a tear coming out of my eye at one point. But only one! I was thinking about everything that had happened in the last year and how I got to this point.  And here I was… running one of the world’s largest footraces. Nothing was hurting and I was enjoying myself. I was on fire!

My goal was ideally to finish around 3H 45 minutes but I greatly underestimated myself. That sign must have given me lots of power.

Half split was in around 1H 35 MIN and 20 miles in 2H 25 MIN. Not too shabby I thought. Then my pace dropped dramatically. I hit the wall between 20-23 mile – I should’ve timed the consumption of my energy gels better. I was so low on energy after 20 miles I took everything I could get my hands on – Lucozade energy drinks, Lucozade gels – even though I didn’t train with the stuff. My stomach is now a chemical soup of various isotonic gels and energydrinks. But that stuff worked wonders. I was able to pick up some speed again. Soon I passed the Buckingham palace and finished like a pro.

My time was 3H 21MIN 38 SEC, overall I was the 4939th, I was the 4384th man who crossed the finish line and I was the 2126th person in my 18-39 age category. I am very pleased with my performance as I didn’t train at all in March (I was sick) and April wasn’t that great either because of my exam. Anywho, below is the data from the marathon:

Category                     18-39

Runner no                   7932

Place (Men)                 4384

Place (Age Category)  2126

Place (overall)             4939

Finish time                  03:21:38

Split Time Of Day Time Diff min/km km/h Place
5K 10:22:34 00:22:02 22:02 04:25 13.62
10K 10:44:40 00:44:09 22:07 04:26 13.57
15K 11:07:27 01:06:56 22:47 04:34 13.17
20K 11:30:20 01:29:48 22:52 04:35 13.12
HALF 11:35:14 01:34:42 04:54 04:28 13.44
25K 11:53:03 01:52:31 17:49 04:34 13.15
30K 12:16:13 02:15:42 23:11 04:39 12.94
35K 12:42:03 02:41:31 25:49 05:10 11.61
40K 13:10:11 03:09:40 28:09 05:38 10.66
FINISH 13:22:10 03:21:38 11:58 05:28 11.00 4384

Even though this morning was really cold I’d still give the marathon a 10/10. Or maybe I’m just high on endorphins.

Virgin Money London Marathon certificate 20160424_220127 20160424_220037

I had a nap at home and then decided to celebrate at ZoukOff – the best zouk event London has to offer. I was a bit sore but it was a great finish to a magnificent day!

More power,

Ivar

Before the race

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I and Romario were very poor. We really needed a third tenant. To make matters worse, Romario didn’t cancel his standing order and paid rent to the previous landlord as well. His bank account went over his overdraft limit and the bank charged him £5 for every day his account was above the limit.

Not-sure-if-everything-is-expensive

He said he’s never been this poor. Then his bank also blocked his card. I found the whole thing hilarious.

We told Amazon that she should look at other flats and give this one a pass. Even though I had about £50 in my bank account and Romario found some change in a drawer – it was all the money we had… However, after Amazon checked out 6-8 other properties she gave us a call and wanted back in. It’s funny how that worked out. Apparently the other flats had weirdos living in them or they didn’t have a living room or in one case she had to walk through a toilet to get to the available room etc. London is weird like that.

The Amazon merger improved our financial position dramatically. Things are looking good again. And she’s been an amazing flatmate so far.

Some other things regarding the rental agency have surfaced and I’m very tired of all the bullshit. I stopped communicating with them as I don’t want to deal with them anymore. Everything they’ve told us or promised has been a lie and I have no interest in interacting with people like that. I’ve got way better things to do with my life.

I took the AF5 exam about a week ago. It’s the one I failed by one point back in October. I’m not too confident about passing it this time around as my thoughts were a bit distracted when studying because of all the stuff I wrote in the last two posts. Anywho, I’ll find out if I passed in about two months.

The London Marathon is tomorrow. The mass start is at 10 AM and based on my training, I should finish within 4 hours. 3H 45 minutes would be a good result. I’m quite excited.

Wish me luck!

Ivar

Surprise buttsex

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Today’s been a very angry day. In fact I can’t even recall the last time I was this angry. Dealing with the real estate agency has been horrible. They have been screwing us right between the buttcrack so hard that I’m starting to enjoy it. I stopped clenching and just bent over even more and gave in. Now I know what rape feels like.

surprise_buttsex

Sorry about the above mental picture. I believe I owe you dinner first before going down that road.

Here’s what happened. I and my housemate agreed to rent a 3 bed flat in Central London. The flat is da bomb. It is in a fantastic location and we love it. However, we ran into a few complications with the agency.

Our initial plan was to rent with a couple i.e. four people in the flat. We told this to the agent at our very first viewing and said that we haven’t yet found the new potential tenants. We were told that this is no problem and that we can do that. We agreed to make an offer for the property based on that.

The following day the agent (Blond Bimbo) called me again and said that we need to increase our offer (for the weekly rent) to make sure the landlord accepts it. So in order to sweeten the deal I reluctantly agreed to increase it by £10 pw… i.e. circa £43 pcm.

The next day the Old Hag (Blond Bimbo’s manager) called me and said that if we have a couple as tenants we would have to apply for some license because of health and safety reasons and that the landlord wanted to increase the rent by a further £40 pw i.e. £173 pcm because of extra “wear and tear”… so just like that the rent had increased by £216 pcm. I was told the license would cost about £500 as well. I immediately said we can’t afford that and asked what if we had just one person instead of a couple. She said that she’d get back to me and on a later phone call said that the rent would stay the same i.e. the plus £10 pw amount. That was acceptable I thought as this would also save the £500 license cost.

Our holding deposit of two weeks’ rent was taken and the referencing process began. I already wrote about that in my previous post – it was a nightmare as well.

We were still looking for a tenant and found a potential one but were not able to have a viewing because the landlord had the property rented out on AirBnB. We had to wait for more than a week to get that viewing (which was on 29th March – only two days before our move in date). They wanted us to sign the contract and pay way before we had the viewing in order to “close the file” and make sure we can move in on the 1st April.

The agency was charging us a £180 admin charge for the contract. I specifically emailed them to ask if there’s going to be another admin charge if we add a third tenant. It did not make sense to me to pay £180 now and then another £180 again the following week. Blond Bimbo’s email response asked me to call her to discuss this. So I did and she said that there will be no admin fee for adding the third tenant because they’ve always known we were adding another person. Following that I signed the contract and paid the agency all the fees, rent and deposit. This £180 fee is the key reason for my anger.

A week later, we managed to get a viewing for the new potential tenant (Amazon). She was very pleased with the flat and agreed to rent it with us. Things were looking good. Blond Bimbo took Amazon back to the agency’s office to scan her passport and take the referencing fee of £60. At least that’s what me and Amazon thought would happen.

Amazon said that when she went to the office with Blond Bimbo to pay and scan her passport, one of Blond Bimbo’s colleagues said that “you shouldn’t take that payment, what if it doesn’t work out and she can’t move in”. The license issue was news to Miss Bimbo as well and they didn’t take any payment from Amazon.

It was raining outside and Romario was on his bike – as you do when you’re Dutch. We decided to wait until the rain stops before heading back home after the flat viewing. That’s when Romario got a call from Old Hag regarding the license. She said that we need a license to have a third tenant. I spoke to Old Hag as well as we previously talked about this issue and that this would only apply if there were 4 tenants. She mumbled some crap and said that this was not the case and that a license was definitely needed for 3 people as well.

This was very bad news. We went home and were proper panicking. We discussed all kinds of scenarios about what we can do because we could not cover the rent between the two of us. We definitely needed another tenant to afford the place.

We sent a long email to the agency detailing our disappointment and concerns about the whole situation. However, we asked them to resolve this situation in a fair way and wanted to work together in the future.

We had a read through our contract again and found out about a massive exit penalty – almost £4,000. We were effectively in a position where we couldn’t afford to cancel or stay in the contract. That’s when we started to feel proper screwed.

The next day we received a response email from Old Hag which was very apologetic and said that they were not trying to hide any information from us on purpose etc. It was all bullshit. Later we got confirmation from them that the third tenant could move in if we applied for the House in Multiple Occupation (HMO) license.

We decided that the least bad option for us was to pay for the license (it cost circa £600) and hope for the best. We are very broke right now. Please send me money.

Amazon went to the agency yesterday to get the ball rolling and then she was asked to pay they wanted to take the second £180 admin fee from her as well, along with the £60 referencing fee.

She called me and was very upset about it. I then called Old Hag and was proper angry with them because this is something I specifically discussed with Blond Bimbo previously. Old Hag said there’s no way we can avoid that fee. Amazon decided to walk away from this shitty agency and we fully support her decision. Sadly we are locked into the contract and can’t do the same.

That second admin fee was the last drop. We have been lied to so many times and the agency keeps changing their story and has introduced new hidden fees on multiple occasions. All the agency fees add up to almost £1,300 but should’ve been £504 following our very first meeting.

We have decided that we will only communicate with them in writing. I do not believe a word they say.

It is also possible that the property already has the license and they are trying to pass the cost on to us. I’ve asked them to provide proof that they applied for the license (we want to see receipts, applications etc) and that it indeed cost what they said it would. Same thing for the “inventory check” for which they charged us as well.

It’s been such a horrid day. The only good thing is that it can’t get any worse, right?

Ivar