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Done Up Like A Musical Kipper

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I’d like to think of myself as internet-savvy. I do almost everything on it nowadays – from the monthly food shopping to paying bills, buying DVDs and CDs, it’s all done on my computer screen. In the six or so years since I started playing with the internet, I’d like to think I’m aware of every internet scam out there.
I mention this because last night I happened upon freeipods.com. The website sounds utterly preposterous – getting an MP3 player worth £250 for nothing sounds like fool’s gold. Apparently they get commission from the number of people who sign up for their sponsors. Sounds odd, but it’s been on Newsnight and the BBC News, and I know of one person who has actually received one, so I thought I’d sign up, What can I lose, I thought?
So, the sign up was straightforward. I chose a username and password and burst into the members page, eager to find riches. I was faced with several options for sponsors I needed to sign up with – DVD clubs, casinos and the like. However, one caught my attention – an MP3 site offering cheap access to thousands of high-quality MP3s for a low one-off charge. Compared to Tesco or Napster downloads, it was a bargain – $19 for lifetime membership. $19 for an Ipod, I thought, and away I went to sign up.
Not, obviously, without checking its authenticity first, of course. A quick search on Google didn’t throw up too many warning signs, and the little padlock on my browser indicated that it was a secure site for my payment. I was all set to go. Plugged in my payment details, got confirmation…. And then nothing. No web page with MP3s, just a page telling me how to use other programs to get them. Click, nothing. Click, nothing. A warm, gooey, unpleasant feeling seeped through my body. I’d laughed at countless internet newbies signing up for scams, putting them down as unbelievably naive. I’d had been taken for a mug, and now some nefarious criminally-minded bastard had my debit card details. I was INCENSED I tell you, more at my complete failure to notice the scam than anything else. If it can still be a scam when it has a secure trading site, what’s the point in having the secure padlock icon?
And that is why, at ten to eleven last night, I was on the phone to a wary woman from Alliance and Leicester, explaining that I’d signed up for a dodgy website and there was a distinct possibility that they may use my card details for a new Boeing 737 they’d had their eye on. After I explained that it was a music website and not some sordid den of carnal knowledge, she was much more helpful and stopped my card immediately. So, for the next seven days, I am debitcardless, which frankly is a relief for my bank manager.
And I don’t think I’ll hang around for that iPod, either.

Fanatically Financial

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I had a date with London yesterday. It’s a rare week when I visit London anyway, but doubly rare when I visit twice inside 6 days. However, these were visits that would warm the cockles of my bank manager uncontrollably. Ladies and Gentleman, I – as someone who regularly has a loose grasp on my current financial matters – now have the enviable services of a financial advisor. Not just a financial advisor, either – a mortgage advisor, a sharedealing advisor, a loans advisor, a pensions advisor – in fact, everything relating to my financial matters now has the benefit of a host of learned folk eager to please.
Now, just a few weeks ago, I wouldn’t have said I needed one. I’m paying off my loans through my salary, paying Gordon Brown through the nose, and things were trotting along. However, an old university friend Paul emailed me a few weeks ago with an offer – go and see his financial advisor, see what you think, and report back. There’s no charge, there’s no compulsion to take them on – in short, there was nothing to lose. So off I trotted, and learned an awful lot of things about my finances. Financial holes have now been plugged, and I’m now actually saving for a pension rather than ploughing it all into loans and pub tills. I’m even thinking of branching out into sharedealing – something I’ve always wanted to do – and I can leave it up to them!
So, who are these people? They’re called Perfect Day, they’re based in Farringdon, London, and they appear to know their onions. If you want more information, email me

This week – Films, Chips and Audis…

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After a disgraceful delay, I can finally report that Paul D and Liz’s visit to Guildford last Friday went splendidly, taking in a film (althoughly sadly Lost in Translation lived up to its name for Paul and Michelle, despite my film-speak protestations that it was a “observationally clever piece”) and a nice meal at Old Orleans, where we observed several scantilly-clad 16-year-olds and a table (a brace?) of drunken men, hurling their food all over the place, before leaving without paying. I’ve heard of frying chips, but never flying chips…
The rest of the week has been fairly ho-hum – an early whim about changing car to an Audi was exciting until I worked out the sheer financial hell I would inflict on my poor bank manager. Still, Tony H as ever came up with the goods and produced a “spare” Audi A6, which I’ll go and look at next week.
Oh, and I’m expecting a VERY exciting delivery today…

Pizza Bomb

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Pizza delivery man goes to address, gets bomb strapped around neck and told to rob a bank. Police catch him, bomb blows his head off. Sound like a movie plot? It’s just happened in Pennsylvania, and Fox News have the story and a rather gruesome video, while MetaFilter has the discussion on it. I hope terrorists don’t get the same idea to make involuntary suicide bombers…

Dear Reader

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Dear Reader,
How are you? Hope you are ok. I thought i’d post you this, as I feel I haven’t been updating you as regularly as i should.
What I’ve been doing this week? Well, I’ve been working away as usual, trying to please the bank manager. I got a pay rise, which is nice, but cleverly just about covers the start of my graduate loan repayment, which is a little annoying. On Thursday, I was just settling down for an afternoon’s emailing in the office, when who should come and sit next to me but an old school friend! I hdn’t seen Nick since 1995, and he was in fine form, even managing to stay behind for a quiet beer after work.
When I’ve not been working, I’ve been unpacking boxes, unpacking more boxes, moving boxes around, and generally spooning myself into my new house, which is very nice, if a little smaller than the last one. My friend Jac should be arriving soon with a van to move the remaining bits and pieces.

Talking of Jac, he’s had PC troubles. The poor thing finally gave up on him, which worryingly coincided with a piece of software I gave him. He took it to the the PC World Clinic, whose job, you’d think, is to repair broken computers. Not so. They refused it, presumably on the flimsy basis that it was a broken computer that needed repairing. Jac swore, and as a final flourish tried to storm out the store entrance, failing completely.

BT kindly offered to come round and install our phone line in our house last week. It was only after they finished that they found that, while everything inside the house was beautifully installed, they’d completely forgotten to get any form of cabling into our house from the exchange. So, a couple of days late, we now have internet at home, bringing my long-suffered internet drought to an end. No broadband, mind, as our neighbours have decreed we can’t dig the road up. They have, however, decided to present us with a lovely pot plant and welcome card, forming our unexpected moving-in present.
Of course there has been the usual social frolics. A small trip to Michelle’s brother’s house for a barbeque (nice house, that), an all expenses paid chinese meal with 8 others at Head Office, all sorts of things.
Anyway, I hope things are going well with you. I know that a few of you have sent in some complaints about the lack of posts – some of your kind words could bring a tear to a glass eye, they really could.
Speak to you soon,

Wibbler

Shunta’s Foot

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*ring* *ring*
“Hello mate.”
“Ah, Shunta, how are you?”
“Well, fine. Apart from the soft tissue damage to my left foot.”
And so it goes with Shunta. His tried-and-tested shock approach has been well-worn over the years, but always manages to catch me unawares. It turns out he has no idea how he did it, so I couldn’t even get a story out of him.
As I’m reporting on friends:
Jac has finally settled down into his new job at Renault, spreading his seed and quietly planning to take over the company with the minimum of fuss, while supplying me with enough anecdotes to justify the expense of the blasted wibbler.com servers.
Nick has changed his car, house and financial status in the past week. He upped sticks and left his bachelor pad in Aldershot about a week ago, making a tidy ?55,000 profit. More to spend on me then, tremendously. He’s moving in to a new, bigger bachelor pad in Woking with a friend, buying a new car (a Peugeot 206 CC cabriolet, the bastard) AND has rid himself of a girlfriend. Crikey.
Shunta is still engaged (all bets are now off), and managing to settle down remarkably well to a life of marital bliss in Cranleigh.
And me? Still trundling along, scraping by on the financial pittance I have spare a month, trying to find a nice place in Guildford to calm my bank manager down. I’m quietly waiting for a lottery win.

So Close to a Lot of Money

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My manager and I popped out at lunchtime yesterday on a mission – to transfer 5000 pounds in cash across Guildford High Street in broad daylight. I was to be the ‘heavy’ – escorting her all of 500 yards up the road to another bank (if any armed robbers are interested, we’ll be doing the same again at 1pm today…). It was a precision operation, and would have gone faultlessly had I not stumbled upon a large key lying in the middle of the street, evidently dropped by a hurrying shop girl. I picked it up – it had a tag with a person’s name on it, and a safe code. And the name of the shop – House of Fraser. My situation at this point: I was next to a woman holding 5000 pounds in an envelope, and was holding the safe key of the largest department store in Guildford. I could have solved all my financial debts in mere minutes. Sadly, I have a conscience (and no suitable weapons), so after safely depositing Rhonda at the cash desk, I wandered down to House of Fraser, and as I handed over the key to the manager, wondered which one of the poor, quivering temps behind her was about to recieve an early Christmas present from the recruitment office.
While all this was happening, Shunta was buying someone a very nice Christmas present. But, needless to say, I’m sworn to secrecy for the next 7 days…

Nerdish skills shortage

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For those who don’t know me quite as well as my nearest and dearest, I try to sustain a modicum of freelance web development to keep my bank manager reasonably happy. Recently though, I’ve not felt the urge to compulsively code late into the night, and that’s somewhat worrying. I’ve got several projects on the go, all pining for attention, and several clients suggesting future lucrative deals and all I want to do is play my computer games and read magazines. And go out on the town, of course, which I did lavishly last night. As I sit here, brain still thudding dully from the nightclub ‘music’, I really hope my nerdish skills come back soon…

Felicity calls

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I’ve just got a phonecall from a very drunken long lost friend, which was a nice surprise! It turns out out that she’s in New Zealand, has had the time of her life, and is never coming back. Which is a bit of a blow. I’ve promised to visit her as soon as my bank manager lets me…

Work and Money…

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Well, here I am at work. I’ve been working my socks off recently, so my bank manager likes me a little more, and it seems to be working wonders. Pulling in ?300 a week, which will immediately go out to pay back my bank, Barclaycard, my mum, Paul S and other LOVELY people. Ahh well, I may even be able to go out for a night soon…