Phoenix Fights

Fighting the FEAR, depression and BDP on a daily basis AND making my own bread. Bring it on 2016….

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After my little posting on religion the other night all manner of things seem to be cropping up, mainly demonstrating what a bleedin’ hypocrite I am.

Whilst I have allegedly left the rat race now and am something of a pseudo hippy, I sometimes find it hard to turn off my business/customer service brain, especially when it comes to finding fault with folk :-).

In an attempt to stick to some of my 2013 aims, I joined quote a rather gung ho hiking club called ‘Earn That Lunch!’ and booked myself in for a tough 13 miler. This is the act of someone who has barely moved from the sofa for 9 months, but that’s me I’m afraid, all or nothing.

The person who runs this group is very strict on who she allows in, and is especially clear on the desired age and level of fitness of her participants.  Let’s just say I probably just scraped through.

After several emails reiterating how fit we all should be leading up to the day, I got a mite nervous and emailed her back.

‘Hi A, I have to say, I’m getting a bit anxious about this now.  I haven’t hiked since Christmas and am a bit worried about keeping up with all of you Amazons!  What happens if lag behind?’

She replied:

‘Hi Sista, you shouldn’t be worried, honestly! I’m just being cautious, as sometimes people turn up in leather jackets and trainers and think we’re going for a leisurely stroll.  I can tell that you’re going to be fine, trust me!’

Okey Dokey, it’s on!

So on the eve of the big day I get out my day pack, fill it with the required supplies (water, snacks, wet wipes, plasters, lipstick 🙂 ) lay out my walking togs and get out my mud splattered boots.

That is when I realise that I am actually serious about this, I’m preparing and not just setting my alarm in the sure and certain knowledge that when it goes off I’m hit snooze a few times, cancel then go back to bed.  I really mean it this time.

So when the big day dawns, I rock up in all the right kit, day pack on my back feeling quite excited and pretty pleased with myself to boot.  I made it!  I’m going to have a great day out!  I’m going to get fit!  And make new, healthier than me (in more ways than one) friends!

‘A’ turns out to be a tiny, hyperactive American lady with wild eyes and an almost OCD approach to organising the day.  She passes out flapjacks to us all (nice touch) on the train, then she asks us to choose what we want for lunch so she can ring through the orders to the restaurant, presumably so we don’t waste any precious time chilling and chatting for 20-30 minutes whilst our food was being prepared. That should have been a very obvious red flag to me with regard to how intense this hike would be, but at the time I just thought she was super efficient.

So we set out at a brisk power walk pace; what I expected.  Hell, I can do this, I’m only just behind A at the front.  It’s a beautiful day, people are really friendly and I’m starting to enjoy myself.

Then we start to go uphill and all of a sudden I’m gasping.  I have about ten layers of clothing on and want to stop and take my jacket off, but I’m scared of lagging behind.  So I unzip the front, create a gap where a bit of air can get in and keep on truckin’.

But it only helps marginally. The lady next to me is chatting away and I can barely give her one word replies.  I look desperately at A who has nearly reached the top of the hill to a path where the ground plateaus out.

Please, I think, please for the love of God go that way.

But it’s not challenging enough for A. She pauses, crosses that lovely, forgiving path and starts to ascend again.

That’s it; I have to stop and get this jacket off.  My chatty friend pauses, concerned.

‘You OK?’ she asks.

‘I’m fine,’ I lie, ‘I just need to shed a layer or two.’

I remove my jacket as fast as I can but the inevitable happens; the group race past me and I find myself at the back.

In no mans land. Alone :-(.

Most walking or hiking groups have one person walking at the rear to help stragglers like me, or at least make sure they don’t get lost, but this clearly isn’t A’s priority.  Her priority is to walk as far and as fast as she can so she burns up lots of calories then can stuff her face when we get to the pub, and she makes no bones about that.  You snooze you lose.

I curse, pull my day pack back on and try in vain to catch up, but, not being able to stop and catch my breath before moving on, invariably I start to lose sight of the group.

I’m getting kinda scared now; I have no idea where I am, there is no sign of civilisation, let alone a taxi and I’m starting to panic. Then out of the woods come a couple from my group.

Thank God!

Bless their hearts, they are paying customers just like me, but wanted to make sure I didn’t get lost, unlike A who clearly doesn’t give a flying one. The husband takes my coat and daypack and the wife grabs my hand but it’s no use; I’m absolutely exhausted and I’m holding them back.

Eventually we come across a pair of elderly walkers, so I thank my rescuers profusely, tell then that I don’t want to spoil their day, that they should go on without me and I’ll make my own way back to civilisation.

And that is what I did.  I walked about 5 miles along a road to the nearest main line station, get on a train and go home.  It takes me around three and a half hours, and by the time I get back I am in equal parts relieved, angry, indignant and humiliated, not to mention 100 percent exhausted.

If you read this blog, I’m sure you know that I’m aware of my shit, so I get in the bath with a big mug of tea and try to push down the urge to lash out in the form of a bad review on A’s site.

‘Don’t do it,’ whispers my Higher Self, ‘it’s an act of revenge, no more no less, and you are above all of that now.’

‘That’s all very well for you to say,’ I retort bitterly, ‘what if that couple hadn’t come back? What if the old  couple hadn’t happened to pass by?  I would have been screwed!  People need to know the risks!’

‘I’m sure A’s learned her lesson,’ wheedled HS, ‘it’s for her to learn this and not for you to teach her.’

I get out of the bath, dry off and make myself a big sausage sandwich to cheer myself up.

But I can’t let it go.

I go to the web page, log in and post something like this for the group to read.

‘Well that was pretty humiliating to say the least!  Sorry not to make it to the pub but I couldn’t keep up, but thanks to the lovely couple who came back for me, we found some locals, I got directions and eventually got home safely.  I think I need to leave this group until I get a bit fitter, but it was lovely to meet you all and maybe I’lll see you again sometime :-).

To anyone who wants to join this group, I know A emphasises that you need to be very fit to go along, but believe me you do, so if you have any doubt that you can keep up, I’d give this one a miss.

Bye for now!

S x’

Whilst I immediately feel better, my HS is not impressed.

‘Well there you go, you got your revenge, albeit in a lovely passive aggressive way,’, she cooed sarcastically, ‘feeling better now?’

Higher Selves should not be sarky, otherwise how are they ‘higher’?

I’m unrepentant.

‘She got off lightly!  A year ago I would have taken her down big style! That was a mere love tap! Plus people should know what they’re letting themselves in for, otherwise Ms A will have some kind of Blair Witch scandal and law suit on her hands!  She needs to be more customer focussed instead of treating us like she’s doing us a favour by taking our money.  She should be thanking me for the heads up!’

‘What,’ retorts HS, ‘like exposing the vet?’


For those who haven’t read the post, my vet recently tried to scam me by pretending one of my cats, Dexter needed a scan, but when challenged he admitted that he didn’t actually have anything wrong with him. Then, probably terrified that I was going to bust him, he changed his mind again and said that Dex might have something wrong with him after all.  Suffice to say, I was furious and have been busting his ass ever since.  And when he ignored my emails and letters I posted him a message on his Facebook page.  Ahem.

‘Again,’ I say loftily to my HS, ‘people need to know what they are dealing with. He is ripping people off.  People who can barely afford to eat around here, let alone pay hefty vet bills!’

HS sighs. ‘Have a little think to yourself my love and see if you can say, hand on heart that you didn’t enjoy any of this whatsoever; that you’re not punishing people for crossing you or letting you down.’

And then she’s gone.  Leaving me to figure out exactly what my motives are to this end.

And you know what?  I’m not entirely sure.

In fairness I am, from a business point of view very pro customer service, especially in this tough financial climate. I do hate liars and cheats and can hand on heart say that I hope my FB post stops my vet scamming anyone else. And it’s humiliating to be left behind like a runt pup (or should that be old bitch?) while the rest of the pack disappear without a backwards glance, and scary to be left alone in the woods when you don’t know where you are.

But as my HS, and indeed Vic Reeves might say, ‘You wouldn’t let it lie!’ as I have the rather unattractive propensity to punish and keep on punishing until the poor bastard in question falls to the floor and stops moving.

Not exactly a great way of making friends and influencing people, Sista.

So I didn’t verbally beat A up until she apologised/lost customers/begged for mercy.  I did punish her though.

So I haven’t reported my vet to the BVA.  The fact that I know there is a BVA indicates my inclination to do so, plus I have no doubt given him a few sleepless nights, the lying toe rag.

This desire for revenge is my own inner demon and does me no justice or favours, and whilst I have got it on a short lead nowadays, I need to keep an eye on it at all times lest it wriggles free and starts biting again.

I also need to develop and feed my starved, emaciated little characteristic called Forgiveness.

I just have to find it first, thats all 🙂

Onwards and upwards.

Namaste x




You might wonder what someone does with his or her time after being off work for nearly a year?  I myself decided to focus on both the creative and practical and patch up my home whilst patching up my heart, body and soul.

Over the course of this time I’ve had walls re-plastered, a wood stove installed, I’ve painted throughout, thrown out tons of space stealing rubbish, and can now finally see light at the end of the tunnel.

Only the flooring left to do.

My current natural flooring has been down for ten years, but apart from one big red wine incident (which totally killed a night of passion with a certain someone, but that’s another story) it only really got its arse kicked in the last four. Why is that you might ask?

Like everything else in my little domicile, my carpet met it’s match in the form of two very cute, very hyper tomcats.

It’s not just the scratches that ruined it, but litter prints, drinks being knocked over and my favourite, vomit stains, a result of either hairballs or ‘scarf and barf’ behaviour as they both bolt down their food at the speed of light, whilst casting anxious glances at one another just in case one finishes first and steals from the other. And it’s not that I underfeed them; both are burly to the point of being biffers and I have to work hard to ensure that they don’t end up the approximate size and shape of a rugby ball.

But this isn’t the reason for my ire.  I stopped caring long ago about their leaving their mark on stuff.  From the moment they arrived as tiny kittens, I knew it would be this way and recognised that the mess would be infinitely worse if I had two human male teenagers so accept this as par for the course.  I just need to replace it now with something pretty much bullet proof, which leads me onto my pet hate.

What really totally infuriates me are tradesmen who assume that I am fucking stupid because I have a vagina.

I cannot and do not levy this accusation at all tradesmen; I had a charming plasterer who worked like a Trojan in one of the hottest weeks of 2012, and did extras for me (not those kind, thank you) at a very reasonable price and in return I plied him with sandwiches, home made cake and tea, which satisfied my ‘feeder’ habit whilst making him a very happy boy indeed.  So it was a win/win situation, the desired outcome to any business transaction, right?

But there are some, including flooring man, that on that first meeting, the minute you open the door, you can almost see the pound signs in their eyes, when they behold a middle aged woman in a nicely decorated home, with a nice car with an obvious liking and a willingness to pay for nice things.

What they are too dumb to work out is that women my age were teenagers in the punk era, lived though the AIDS virus, and were brought up during Thatcher’s Britain (and either fought against her or were as ruthless as her), so are not to be trifled with.

All the tradesmen that have ever worked for me have asked what I do for a living (again trying to ascertain what I can afford) and I am always honest about this in the hope that it would make them realise that I am relatively bright and business savvy given my background in marketing, sales and negotiation.  And I want them to be honest.  I really want them to be honest, because I’m cynical enough without yet another wanker thinking that I can’t use a calculator/surf the internet/do research, trying to rip me off.

But the ones with the glint in their  eye always let me down and try it on.  This then causes me to become enraged, fall to my knees, throw my head back and release my inner Kraken, which then tears them limb from limb.

I usually start by taking their quote, and pull it to pieces, making them explain and justify every single element.  The guy who sold me my stove (who called himself a ‘Director’ – hah! He could barely grow a beard…) used to hide from me and wouldn’t take my calls because he didn’t know the answers to the technical questions and it was his company!  And he assumed I was stupid?!

If they are dumb enough to pull a figure out of the air and pretend there is some science behind it, then they are my favourites.  I had one double glazing guy sit with a caculator, tapping away, chewing his pen looking all studious, and after 15 minutes he handed me a single figure. When I asked him to work backwards and show me how he came up with it, his face was a picture.  Cue more tapping, more chewing, his tea going cold as he toiled,  beads of sweat forming on his brow as he desperately tried to make up something that made sense (math is a particularly unforgiving bitch, ain’t she?), until out of sheer desperation, he feigned an ‘urgent’ call from the office and made good his escape. This still makes me smile even now.

The next thing I do is to focus on those mysterious little costs that don’t make sense but that some women just sign off and pay just because they are to argue.

The wood stove guys for instance, wanted to charge me about £50 for, what amounted to lighting  a ‘special’ candle to test whether smoke was traveling up the chimney and coming out of the pot.  I. Think.  Not.  I told them where to stick that, and it wasn’t up my flue, rest assured.

And now we come to the flooring guy.

The flooring guy thinks I don’t know how much floor space I occupy and has added on an additional 20 metres for his quote.  He thinks I am a stranger to the retractable tape measure.

He also wants to charge me £200 for lifting the old carpet out and taking it away.  I could do that, with the help of the council for about £20.

He also wants to charge me double the price that Homebase charge for hard boarding.  WTF?

I’m quite breathless with rage.

Whilst ripping him a new arsehole with my teeth would be hugely therapeutic and totally justified, I believe this to be against the law, so I’ve revised his quote, attached background information to justify all the changes and sent it back to him.

He now claims that the extra flooring is so there won’t be a join but what he doesn’t know is that another high end company has sent me a quote that validates my calculation to a T.  He also doesn’t want me to pull up my own carpets because they are grippers and underlay to deal with and I may find this ‘tricky’.

I’d like to give him tricky with one of those nail studded mothas, but I’m afraid I might scratch my little girly handy with it.

Lying, patronising weasel.

The most dignified course of action and the biggest punishment I can dole out is to take my business elsewhere which is what I’m going to do.  I’m not even going to dignify his email with a reply.

Stupid man. His greed has just lost him a job.

I do get that tradesmen have to put a margin on some things in order to make a living, but boys, please, do not take the piss or I will make mince meat out of you.

You might also remember that my vets told me that Dexter had something wrong with him and needs a scan? And that they just so happen to have new scanning equipment on site for such eventualities and wanted to book him in for £120 a pop?

I have since asked the owner for something in writing stating that he definitely has this condition and informed him that I will be getting a second opinion to back this up.  He promptly shat himself, and called me saying that we could keep Dex under observation for now.

When I took the boys in for their inoculations, he was there, simpering and groveling, saying how pretty they were and offering to reduce the cost of their treatment that day.  He also gave me discount vouchers for posh cat food and his card just in case I needed any further help/advice.  It’s almost amusing; does he honestly think a couple of cheap packs of Science Plan will make me forget that he has seemingly tried to use my love for my pet to try and scare me in to parting with big chunk of wonga?  My cats, along with my family and friends, are my life, and if it transpires that he did frighten me for nothing in order to leech money from me, balls will break and heads will roll.

Tradesmen and women who practice this way; hear this.  There are worse things than losing a job. There is word of mouth.  There is being reported.  There is ‘Rogue Traders’.  There is crossing me.

To my big bloated, sad sack of a vet, your twitchiness had better be down to shell shock, too much coke, or something other than being busted as I PITY the fool who is dumb enough to come between a peri menopausal, depressive, almost broke bitch and her cat.