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Whittling - shadows of echoes of memories of songs
j4
j4
Whittling
Went to the bank and after waiting for nearly an hour (they said 20 minutes, they lied) finally got to talk to a human being. Apparently I haven't incurred any charge for exceeding the overdraft limit yet, and they've now given me a temporary limit that's a bit higher until the end of the month, by which time my salary will have gone through.

They did however insist on updating all my details (they still had me down as unemployed, despite the fact that I told them when I got the job at ProQuest, and told them how much I was getting paid; they also still had my parents' number as my daytime number) which was horrible because the bank man just looked at me as if I was stupid when I said I didn't know the exact figure for my take-home pay, and didn't know how much we still owed on the mortgage.

Thank you to juggzy for some useful suggestions by email but I really think the answer is that I just have to stop buying things. At all. I don't need anything else really. And I need to shift the mountains of useles stuff that I already have. I also have to stop lending money to people, and buying things for other people on the understanding that they'll pay me back as soon as possible.

I hate money. I hate all the Stuff I own, at the moment, too; I just want to throw it all away. And then run away to an island somewhere and eat berries and fish, and think for a bit, and make some pretty shapes out of sand, and then die.

* * *

Just so tired. Tired and shaky and headachey. Yesterday on the way home from work I came so close to just lying down on the pavement and going to sleep. Today I knelt down to put some of the shopping (thanks to sion_a, we have food tonight) in my rucksack and just couldn't get up. I just stayed kneeling there thinking "I should get up", but somehow I just couldn't. I could visualise myself getting up, but I couldn't make my legs obey, for a few minutes. I think, in retrospect, I wasn't sure why I should get up. My head hurts, and my limbs feel half-numb, as though it's taking longer than it should for signals to reach them and/or get back to my head. And if I rest my hands on the keyboard I can see them shaking.

Wish hoiho could be with me but he's got family crises to deal with. I feel horribly selfish for wanting him to be here when he's worrying about the people he cares about & wants to be with them. Now worrying too that if he knows I'm not well he'll just say I'd be better off without him, which isn't true. :-( Guilt, stress, guilt.

Was wondering about going over to see my parents tonight after the concert, staying for most of tomorrow -- somewhere that's nearly home. I'm just scared that a) I wouldn't be able to manage the drive in this state, and b) if I do get there I'll just cry the whole time and then they'll be worried about me and not want me to come back to Cambridge until I'm feeling better, and I can't call in sick, ever, not after the last job. At least not unless I have something really obvious that I can point to like a broken arm, or measles, or something.

* * *

Town was heaving, with all the nausea that the word conveys. Looking up Sidney Street from ... not Carfax, no, what do you call the, where the barrier is, outside up along from what was Joy and is now Eat (named for our modern gods) ... the hordes of people looked like an army of tiny dolls, picture-perfect with their miniature gesticulations, open-mouthed and mindless and terrifying.

[Somebody is itching to correct me on the road-names. THIS IS NOT A TECHNICAL MANUAL. Try reading rather than debugging.]

Current Mood: null and void

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juggzy From: juggzy Date: May 15th, 2004 08:19 am (UTC) (Link)
A minimalist life style can be quite a calming thing. I was forced into it when my marriage broke up, and I got this house at slightly more than I could afford, and I found that I could have as much fun not spending money as I could spending money, almost. The thing I learnt was not be unrealistic about how much I could do without. I sat down with the IFA, and went through the monthly budget before we decided I could do it, and the bank would give me the mortgage, and he insisted on things like including some money for BEER, and money for magazines/books. And then he talked to me about, and this sounds so stupid, libraries. And I know I can go back to that level should I need to. It then became a sort of challenge to me to manage on as little money as possible each month. I had the same habits of buying people things, and I had to learn that people liked me just as much, perhaps more, if I wasn't buying them things (because that put pressure on them to like me, IYSWIM). Sorry if I sound patronizing. Offer still holds about escape, if you feel that ill. I'll give you the money for petrol for PTO, call it a birthday present.
j4 From: j4 Date: May 15th, 2004 09:04 am (UTC) (Link)
What's an IFA? I'm assuming accountanty-type-thing -- I can't afford to hire them! :-(

I've done the managing-on-little-money thing but only as a student; the problem is that I'm good at finding things which are a real bargain... and then I do it a lot. And buying lots of very cheap things, while probably better than buying lots of very expensive things, isn't actually better than just not buying as many things.

> I had to learn that people liked me just as much, perhaps more, if I wasn't buying them things (because that put pressure on them to like me, IYSWIM)

I suppose it does do that. It hadn't really occurred to me. But mostly I just buy silly things for people because they make me think of them, IYSWIM, and I don't intend it to be any sort of hold over them or anything, I don't even expect them to do the same in return or anything; some people like buying stuff for other people, some people don't. I know I've bought vast quantities of stuff for hoiho, more than I can afford sometimes, and he never seems particularly happy about it, and he doesn't really do the presents thing, so maybe that's what it is. I don't want to make him think he has to like me. :-( It would be nice if he did though.

I do like giving things to people, though; but if it just makes them unhappy then it's stupid. I guess deep down I don't trust that they will like me if I don't give them things; certainly that's true with hoiho. I don't really give him anything relationship-wise, so I suppose it makes sense that I feel I have to buy him penguin-related tat instead. :-( (But then a lot of the things I buy are stuff like tickets for both of us to go to gigs, and if I didn't buy them we wouldn't go, because he doesn't have time to buy them -- working 10-hour+ days sort of limits shopping time!)

Oh, I don't know. I always feel I want to go back a few years and just not waste so much of my money. It's so easy to get more money once you've got lots of money, but it's so hard to get more when you just don't have any. And I should stop whining about it.

Petrol for PTO -- nice offer, but really, no, I can't let you. Anyway it wouldn't be PTO, there's no way she could make it that far! -- it'd be the real car instead -- but it's the principle of the thing -- if I can't afford to run cars then I shouldn't have them.

Offer of escape was very welcome though and I might well take you up on it. If I can manage to get out and do anything at all, which is looking less and less likely. :-/ Will try to reply to your email, dunno why email seems so difficult at the moment and LJ so much easier.
juggzy From: juggzy Date: May 15th, 2004 10:50 am (UTC) (Link)
An IFA is an independant financial advisor - they don't usually need paying, because if they help you, you are more likely to get something like a mortgage through them. This guy was just working out if I could afford the mortgage that he was going to recommend me for, as strictly, I didn't fit the salary criteria. But I had no debts, and as the house was close to where I work, it could be done. I wasn't suggesting you went to one, though, a friend would be just as good, because they can be outside you and be a good sounding board as to whether or not you really need something.

Mmm. I know the temptation to buy something just because you can and because it is damn good value. I have learnt to leave interesting bits of coloured glass in shops now because I have nowhere to put them. You just can't buy them. That's all.

Look, I recognize the state you are in. Someone helped me once. I'm just passing it on. So the petrol offer still stands on that basis (thank goodness it's the other car, in the interests of petrol economy!). You can't take sickies, but you can take holiday, can't you?
j4 From: j4 Date: May 15th, 2004 01:59 pm (UTC) (Link)
a friend would be just as good, because they can be outside you and be a good sounding board as to whether or not you really need something.

Mm, but they're rarely there when I'm actually confronted with the thing and thinking "should I buy it?" -- which is when I need somebody to be my conscience. Most of the people I ask to be my conscience say "Go on, buy it!".

Mmm. I know the temptation to buy something just because you can and because it is damn good value. I have learnt to leave interesting bits of coloured glass in shops now because I have nowhere to put them. You just can't buy them. That's all.

I know. Ornaments and stuff aren't usually the problem, it's generally books, clothes and music. All of which seem like they could be sensible things, because, well, I'll read them eventually, or listen to them eventually, or wear them eventually. Er, not necessarily in that order, IYSWIM. So it's hard to convince myself that I shouldn't buy them, especially when it's second-hand books that I might not be able to find again, or music I've wanted for ages which is cheaper than I've ever seen it before, and...

But basically there's something about the buying-of-things which is satisfying, and that wanting-to-buy-things urge is an aspect of me that I really, really don't like, but I just don't know how to change it. Finding a cool thing that's good value -- whether for me or for somebody else -- makes me happy.

Look, I recognize the state you are in. Someone helped me once. I'm just passing it on. So the petrol offer still stands on that basis (thank goodness it's the other car, in the interests of petrol economy!).

Actually the Morris is reasonably economical; it's more a question of how many weeks it'd take me to get there with a notional top speed of 50mph (and that's downhill, with a following wind)...

You can't take sickies, but you can take holiday, can't you?

I can take holiday, but (spot the theme of avoidant, procrastinatory crapness) I don't know how much I have, I only realised yesterday (in a kind of 'duh' moment) that I'd have to take the holiday I've accrued since Feb (however much that is) before the end of the academic year so I have to start thinking about holiday differently; I'd got used to knowing how to save the right amount for Christmas. Problem is it's coming up to the Really Busy Time when we do the Graduate Prospectus, and they're going to be moderately unhappy about me taking holiday in that period, because it's, like, the most important thing I'll do in a given year in this job, probably. And I've already got three days booked off for Glastonbury, and I'll want one for the Folk Festival.

Oh, argh. I feel like I'm raising stupid objections, but they feel like real reasons not to go anywhere & just to sit here going mad. Weekends are good though, weekends let me get away from Cambridge. Sometimes.
keirf From: keirf Date: May 15th, 2004 02:30 pm (UTC) (Link)
You can get books and CDs from the library, or borrow them off friends.

But that's obvious really.

Bargains cost money.
j4 From: j4 Date: May 15th, 2004 03:23 pm (UTC) (Link)
Sufficiently obvious that I'm not sure why you bothered pointing it out.

(It costs money to get CDs out of the library, too. But of course you knew that.)
keirf From: keirf Date: May 15th, 2004 04:20 pm (UTC) (Link)
Actually, I didn't know the Cambridge library charged for taking out CDs. The Bedford library in the mid nineties didn't. Mind you, they had a fairly dire collection.
juggzy From: juggzy Date: May 15th, 2004 03:43 pm (UTC) (Link)
If they feel like real reasons, that's what they are. I'm taking a guess here, but part of the problem is feeling that you have to live up to what other people want you to do, whereas you really, deep down, want to do stuff for yourself, even if you don't know quite what. ANd you feel terribly responsible for what other people do, and worry too much about doing the wrong thing for them. And however much you do what other people want you to do, it's never quite good enough, it doesn't make things different the way you keep thinking it might.

Sorry, I didn't mean to add to that pressure. And now you will go feeling bad because you think you made me say sorry. You didn't; saying that was my action (and I meant an African sorry, anyway), not yours. You've got to do what you want to do (as long as it doesn't involve buying things!) IYSWIM.
j4 From: j4 Date: May 16th, 2004 03:13 am (UTC) (Link)
feeling that you have to live up to what other people want you to do, whereas you really, deep down, want to do stuff for yourself, even if you don't know quite what

Sort of. It's sort of... I want to do stuff for myself, but it feels rather meaningless to do so, because I don't really exist except in relation to other people. Urgh, that sounds dreadful, doesn't it? But it is sort of true. Even when I don't feel like I'm going mad, it's sort of true, in an up-its-own-existential-arse kind of way.

ANd you feel terribly responsible for what other people do, and worry too much about doing the wrong thing for them. And however much you do what other people want you to do, it's never quite good enough, it doesn't make things different the way you keep thinking it might.

Oh, this is definitely true. Bits of my brain still haven't worked out that I can't make people love me when they don't. The problem is consciously I know this and I want to just Be Myself and hope that people will love me for that. But.

And I don't think you are adding to the pressure. What is an African sorry? Is that a way of saying sorry-as-in-regret without people assuming it's sorry-as-in-apology? If so, hurrah. Often my 'sorry' means that and then people shout at me for apologising too much.
juggzy From: juggzy Date: May 16th, 2004 07:42 am (UTC) (Link)
What is an African sorry? Is that a way of saying sorry-as-in-regret without people assuming it's sorry-as-in-apology? If so, hurrah.

Absolutely. I didn't realise there was the Other Meaning for Sorry, until I got to University because that's what most people meant when they said sorry when I was a kid. Sorry as in regret for something bad happening to someone else.

Often my 'sorry' means that and then people shout at me for apologising too much.

Haha. Me too. Only they don't any more because I have decided to stop feeling regrets for stupid things other people do. If only they knew.
oldbloke From: oldbloke Date: May 16th, 2004 11:25 am (UTC) (Link)
My Morris Minor used to do 85, no trouble. Needed a while to get the last bit from 70 upwards, mind. It was the 1100 though. And it was a bit scary due to the play in the steering rack. And nobody who looked in their mirror believed it so they used to pull out on front of me.
juggzy From: juggzy Date: May 15th, 2004 10:51 am (UTC) (Link)
Or, can you ask if you can 'work from home' for a day or two?
j4 From: j4 Date: May 15th, 2004 02:01 pm (UTC) (Link)
It'd be a good idea in some ways but I can't really do that (tech stuff not set up for me to be able to) and to be honest I think it's a bad idea in quite a lot of other ways. I did that at ProQuest and I got so little done at home it was just embarrassing, even though they didn't seem to notice it made me cringe to think about it.

I'm not very good at Getting Stuff Done, basically. :-/
julietk From: julietk Date: May 17th, 2004 02:03 am (UTC) (Link)
But then a lot of the things I buy are stuff like tickets for both of us to go to gigs, and if I didn't buy them we wouldn't go, because he doesn't have time to buy them -- working 10-hour+ days sort of limits shopping time!

I do this with kitty_goth reasonably often (except it's more often train tickets), except I make him pay me back because I am BROKE. So I do the time-taking thing, but he pays for at least his half of the tickets. I am probably missing something stupendously obvious here about why this doesn't work out in your situation.

I have found that the only way to avoid buying things (which I am still in the situation of doing, being still dragging myself out of my MPhil-related debt-hole) is to just not go into shops, like, ever. Which is occasionally saddening, but there we go. I haven't bought any CDs, other than after Christmas/birthday with vouchers, for about 2 years now (though I admit that this is made easier by the fact that Pete *does* still buy stuff, & the CD collections got amalgamated when we moved in. I'm not sure I'd have done so well on my own, though I am currently being proud of myself about resisting the lure of the new Divine Comedy & Magnetic Fields. Proud in a wah-I-want-to-buy-CDs sort of way, anyway...) Keeping really close track of my spending (like, writing everything down) also helps me, but I know that doesn't suit everyone.

Having said that, I'm about to blow the careful budgeting out of the water by getting myself a new Treo, & justifying it because I really can't organise myself without a Palm, & the old one is held together precariously by a rubber band, & I'd be switching to Orange & saving myself upwards of 8 quid a month which over a year is *nearly* the cost of the phone, andandand... So I may be OK at avoiding buying *some* things, but not all. Argh. However, if you want a conscience available by text message, then feel free to text me saying 'should I buy X' because *mostly* I now have a really good automatic response that goes 'no!'. And it's harder to fit in the Really Good Reason for buying X in 160 characters :-)

You're right, money sucks. Growl.
oldbloke From: oldbloke Date: May 15th, 2004 12:02 pm (UTC) (Link)
Since you have an overdraft, you must stop lending and buying-for-others-who'll-pay-you-later-honest
I won't go into the psych reasons you might be doing that with your money when you don't actually have any money.
Just stop doing it.
You're (temporarily) broke. Accept it. You haven't got anything to lend.
j4 From: j4 Date: May 15th, 2004 02:17 pm (UTC) (Link)
Since you have an overdraft, you must stop lending and buying-for-others-who'll-pay-you-later-honest

But I've had an overdraft for 8 years, and sometimes having-some-overdraft-left is less broke than somebody who's at the end of their overdraft limit, IYSWIM. Or somebody who is unemployed and gets awkward questions from Other Parties if they spend any money.
I am going to have to stop doing it now because I really just have No Money, but at the time it seemed like a good thing to do. And I sort of could afford it then, but the problem is now I'm owed 400 pounds or so and I really need the money back now, and I can't ask for it. :-(

I won't go into the psych reasons you might be doing that with your money when you don't actually have any money.

Just trying to help people out. At least, I don't consciously do it to make people like me or whatever, it's usually that they're going spare trying to make ends meet and it feels like I should help them out if I'm not at that point myself. Particularly if I know that within a couple of months they'll be earning tens of thousands of pounds in terrifyingly-high-powered management jobs, so they should be able to pay me back. But maybe my evil subconscious actually wants to own people's souls, and that's why I do it, I dunno. (What the hell would I do with a soul? I don't use the one I was born with. I suppose I could sell job lots of them on eBay.)

And like I said being overdrawn is normal for me, I think I've been in the black twice since leaving university (and only by a couple of hundred at most), so having most of my overdraft left feels like having lots of money. :-/

You're (temporarily) broke. Accept it. You haven't got anything to lend.

I know I am now.

I think part of the problem is I don't want to be rich. I don't see any point in having money except to spend it on things I think are worthwhile/useful/beautiful/fun/etc. So I don't feel much incentive to hoard the stuff. So I never have any. Does that make sense?

You know, even if I try, I can't even persuade myself that there is a reason to hoard it. I mean, my generation are going to have to work until we literally drop dead in the office anyway, & once you're gone you're gone, you can't take it with you, might as well spend it while it's there. It's not as if I'm ever going to have a family to support, and I've no interest in investing money in bits of paper or piles of bricks.
keirf From: keirf Date: May 15th, 2004 04:23 pm (UTC) (Link)
I don't see any point in having money except to spend it on things I think are worthwhile/useful/beautiful/fun/etc. So I don't feel much incentive to hoard the stuff. So I never have any. Does that make sense?


Makes a lot of sense to me now. It didn't a few years ago. I wish it had.

When I was an undergraduate one pound bought me about as much enjoymet as ten pounds does now. If only I could go back and tell the ten-year-younger me not to worry so much about my spending in those days.
oldbloke From: oldbloke Date: May 16th, 2004 07:46 am (UTC) (Link)
But I've had an overdraft for 8 years

Ah. I've had an overdraft, um, twice? For about two minths each time, or something. Will do almost anything to avoid it - working class background, I think.

I really need the money back now, and I can't ask for it.

That's reason #1 you shouldn't lend in the 1st place.

they're going spare trying to make ends meet and it feels like I should help them out

One of the things you learn if you mix with gamblers much is that, except very rarely, you don't actually help people out by giving them money, you just enable them to carry on doing whatever got them in that mess in the first place. So that's reason #2 for not lending - you think you're helping, but actually you're not. Depends on cases - if you can be 100% sure you're gonna get paid back, in a sensible timeframe, and preferably with interest since you're paying interest on the overdraft you used to lend the money, fine.

I don't feel much incentive to hoard the stuff

Oh, that's fine. But not having a wad stashed isn't the same as having a negative wad stashed. I'll never have much, now the ex has had such a chunk, but I'll stay in the black, barring the mortgage, which L could manage on her own if necessary.
Maybe that's the real problem, dahn sahf stuff is so much more expensive you all get forced into that crazy way of not-quite-managing money.
j4 From: j4 Date: May 16th, 2004 08:53 am (UTC) (Link)
Ah. I've had an overdraft, um, twice? For about two minths each time, or something. Will do almost anything to avoid it - working class background, I think.

Well, when I was at Oxford, my student account gave me a 500 quid interest-free overdraft in the first year, 1000 in the second year, and 1500 in the third year. (The graduate account then reverses these figures, so by your third year as a graduate you have 500 interest-free, and then after that nothing -- of course, you still have a 1500 pound overdraft limit, but it's not interest-free any more.) Which I realised was a ploy to get people borrowing but I thought "well when I've actually got an income I'll pay it back, for the time being it's an interest-free loan which means I don't have to keep scrounging off my parents any more than necessary". What I didn't realise was that my first job in Cambridge wouldn't leave me enough money after rent to make much of a dent in it, and that the expenses of living in Cambridge (and the fun of having Money Of My Own for the first time) would make it worse and worse.

The other thing is I was already breaking the Never Borrow Money rule because I had a student loan. Okay, maybe that was stupid too, but my parents said it was a good idea, because the alternative would be them taking out a loan to help pay my way, and it was a better interest-rate than they'd be able to get on a loan. Also, I'm not sure quite how I would have managed to pay over 800 quid a term for accommodation -- and that's before any food, let alone books or anything -- with a 'grant' of less than 400 a year.

Although, of course, if I couldn't pay for university, I shouldn't have gone; and my parents certainly shouldn't have paid for me to have an education that would give me stupid ideas above my station. I should have left school at 14 and got a job in Tesco.

Sometimes wonder if I'd've been happier. I wouldn't be as clever but by now I'd probably be married and have at least 4 kids. As it is I'll die intelligent, unhappy and alone.

One of the things you learn if you mix with gamblers much is that, except very rarely, you don't actually help people out by giving them money, you just enable them to carry on doing whatever got them in that mess in the first place.

But if the reason they need money is that they're unemployed and desperately want to find a job, lending them money doesn't make them try less hard to find a job. Really, it doesn't. And if I know that when they get a job they'll be earning something in the region of 50K then it doesn't seem like a huge risk to lend them an amount which will be mere pocket money to them when they have this job. Sure, if they're throwing all the money away on the horses or whatever then it's not going to help, but if they're just trying to stay in a place where they can look for jobs without it costing them a fortune in petrol (which they couldn't afford) to come for interviews, isn't it a little different?

But not having a wad stashed isn't the same as having a negative wad stashed.

Shrug. Looks much the same to me. The money's all imaginary anyway.

Maybe that's the real problem, dahn sahf stuff is so much more expensive you all get forced into that crazy way of not-quite-managing money.

Ah, but that's my own stupid fault as well, innit? I should just move somewhere cheaper. Nobody has a right to live where they want; if I can't afford to live in Cambridge, I should just bugger off.
oldbloke From: oldbloke Date: May 16th, 2004 11:32 am (UTC) (Link)
Well, no, it's not your fault, it's Society. The structure's totally buggered. It was all a lot easier when I was your age. I got a full grant, which was _just_ enough to stay alive on, I dropped out and spent a year doing bugger-all on the dole which was _just_ enoguh to stay alive on, then I went and got a job, then moved to where I work now and it paid enough to get reasonably set up. Several key items in that sequence are no longer viable, it seems.
Now, if I was dictator....
From: kaet Date: May 15th, 2004 03:58 pm (UTC) (Link)
Eat...Joy...I still think of it as Dotty P's. How long before I can start winning those old-photo competitions in the free newspapers?
j4 From: j4 Date: May 16th, 2004 03:14 am (UTC) (Link)
"Eeeeee, I remember when it was all mobile phone shops round here..."
nja From: nja Date: May 15th, 2004 04:35 pm (UTC) (Link)
Was wondering about going over to see my parents tonight after the concert, staying for most of tomorrow

If you do this (any weekend) and you feel like a walk round a deer park with a middle-aged beardy with a tendency to get distracted by small birds and interesting holes in the earth, give me a call / email. I can't guarantee berries and fish, but there is a pub nearby called "the badger's sett" or something similar.

And check your holiday year - we certainly don't go by the academic year, our holiday entitlement starts on Jan 1st.
lnr From: lnr Date: May 15th, 2004 05:33 pm (UTC) (Link)
It's October to October in Cambridge. 30 days plus bank hols, if that helps Jan.
j4 From: j4 Date: May 16th, 2004 03:20 am (UTC) (Link)
For admin staff as well? (I'm not academic or academic-related.) Must check my contract. The other people on my team said it was academic-year but they tend to forget that I'm a different type of staff from them.

Sigh, I haven't seen you for ages... *hugs*

j4 From: j4 Date: May 16th, 2004 03:16 am (UTC) (Link)
That sounds lovely. Bradgate Park? Didn't know there was a badger pub nearby! But then I was a bit young for pubs (and not as bothered about badgers) when we used to picnic there.

This weekend's out of the question now since I've only just woken up (too shattered to do anything last night) and I have to be back in Cambridge this evening. But thank you for the offer & I will bear it in mind.
nja From: nja Date: May 16th, 2004 03:53 am (UTC) (Link)
The pub's actually in Cropston. There's a genuine badger's sett on the track up to Cropston Leys.

I'm sure even in Cambridge there are places you can go where (to invert "Cheers") nobody knows your name, and which don't cost much. Wicken Fen, for example. You don't have to go to Tahiti to get away from it all. I appreciate marshes are not everyone's idea of a good time, but you get the idea. You wrote something recently about doing nothing but not really doing nothing in the right way, the key's to make a conscious decision to really do nothing for an afternoon or a few hours in the evening, because it has value to you and everyone needs time when they aren't worrying or doing (here comes the ambitious parents' phrase) something constructive. Nobody needs to do things all the time. I'm going to start rambling on about Bertrand Russell's In Praise of Idleness and World Government now, so I'll stop and go and look for some yellowhammers.
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