Taking Control… And Making Changes.

Happy Easter fellow bloggers and bloggees,

Since my last post I’m very happy to say much has happened, the vast majority of which is positive.  After many heated phonecalls with FGA finance, our Alfa has finally been repossesed.  We were sorry to see it go, but it was also a relief… another chapter of getting ourselves financially healthy closed.  We’re just waiting for confirmation of the vehicles sale at auction then we can instruct GT to absorb the shortfall into our IVA as was always the plan.

We’ve now paid 2 payments into our IVA, the second of which was the first by direct debit, so at least we know thats been set up correctly.  We both had a fairly good wage this month too, Mrs. DK had a bonus.  This made us especially happy as not only does it give us some spare cash which has been set aside, it meant we were able to pay an extra amount into the IVA.  I know it has no impact on the amount we now owe, but we never really wanted to write off our debts, we tried for so long to manage to pay everything back ourselves, so knowing that we were paying over-and-above what our creditors are expecting makes us feel a little better.  I’m keeping a spreadsheet so I can keep track of our over-payments going forward.

Outside of the IVA there have been some developments too.  My marathon training has been going well, I’ve just got one last long run of about 18 miles to do over Easter weekend then its time to taper.  This is where the mileage drops off rapidly to allow muscles to begin storing glycogen from carbohydrate.  I’ll start ‘pasta fortnight’ on Monday too, when almost every meal will contain large amounts of carb… honestly the worst part of marathon running… by this time in a fortnight i’ll be sick of the sight of pasta.

My fundraising has taken a huge leap, i’ve just cracked the £1100 mark, which means a total of £3100 including last years total, so only £900 to go.  I’ve yet to ‘stalk’ my colleagues for sponsorship so that should go a big way, and a local supermarket where I held a bucket collection last Saturday have agreed to allow another collection on the last Saturday of April.  (This is very cheeky, given everyones obvious situation, but if anyone has a pound to spare, you can sponsor me by visiting www.justgiving.com/2012by2012 myself and CHILDREN with CANCER UK (reg charity number 298405) would be extremely grateful.)

Mrs. DK has managed to win a sales promotion at her work and won a 2 night stay at DisneyLand Paris, including 3 days full park access and perks as she’s a travel agent.  We’re going to drive down and have bought a cheap 2 night stay in Torquay from GroupOn for the 2 nights prior.  Thankfully, as a travel agent she gets a concesionary rate on crossing the channel, so so far the whole trip is costing around £100 plus fuel.  I’m budgeting for a total cost including spends and fuel of £250… We spent nearly 10 times that on last years holiday, and I have no doubt that this years won’t be any less enjoyable.

Now for the biggest news… i’ve found a new job!  Before coming into the car trade I was a restaurant manager for Burger King, now 12 years later, i’m going back.

I’ve been offered a post as trainee shift manager for 3 months to brush up my knowledge and learn whats changed in the last decade, then taking my own shift as shift manager.  It’s envisaged that i’ll be assistant manager within 18 months to 2 years and have my own restaurant within 4 to 5 years.  The pay as shift manager is lower than my ‘possible’ earnings selling cars, but not much lower than what i’ve been actually achieving in the past 18 months.  The net result is that i’ll be taking home almost exactly the figure our IVA was worked out on.  We’ll have greater outgoings due to me and Mrs. DK now working in opposite directions, but as I won’t have a company car, i’ll be taxed less so everything should work out equal.

I’ve submitted my resignation, and i’m working a month notice.  I start the new job on May 2nd… I cant wait.  Its a new direction and a new challenge.  The restaurant i’m going into is local to me, and I know from a customers point of view where the short commings are, i’ve got loads of ideas to turn the place on its head.

I now feel much happier with our situation, and my outlook going forward.  My mood and frame of mind is a world apart from the start of the year… I’ve stopped taking St. Johns Wort.

Thats about it for this update folks.

Til next time.


Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

LonDONE, An Account Of My First London Marathon.

At the suggestion of Mrs. DK, and agreeance of some forum members, here’s a post from a blog I was writing this time last year.  Its a full account of my first ever marathon, in London on April 17th 2011.  I completed in 5:44:32 and raised £2013.70 for a charity called ‘CHILDREN with LEUKAEMIA’.

It’s lengthy, so I suggest you grab a drink before you start.

LonDONE, Virgin London Marathon 2011.

This is lengthy, and I probably ramble, but this is my account of the 2011 London marathon and the problems you can overcome if you want something bad enough, from a first timers view.

The evening before the marathon my wife (Mrs. DK) and I decided on Pizza Express for my pre-race meal.  Rightly or wrongly, I’d convinced myself that dough-balls and pizza were sufficiently carb-loaded.  As we waited for a table, the smell of deep heat tipped me off that I wasn’t alone. Towards the end of my meal I got a whiff of DH again, it was coming from a table just behind me.  Started chatting to a nice couple (unfortunately names were never swapped), who we found were not only staying in the same Hotel (Travelodge Tower Bridge) but lived only 25 minutes away from us. We discussed strategies, expectations (we were both London virgins) and about how daunted we were having seen the 23 mile marker across the road.

An attempt for an early night was a complete waste of time… I was still awake at half one, a five year old on xmas eve has less trouble dropping to sleep than I did… excitement and nerves just wouldn’t let me go.  I awoke at 5 am, at 6 I woke Mrs. DK and we went to breakfast.  There were loads of runners in our hotel, all scoffing down porridge and bananas as much as they could.  The porridge really was gross, really thick and like wallpaper paste, but it had to be eaten.

At 7am my dad arrived, he’d caught a coach at 2am to arrive in London at 6:20 only to find the tube didn’t run until 7am, so he walked until he found a cab.  We headed to Tower gateway DLR station and walked straight onto a train.  We must have been fairly early as even as we alighted at Greenwich, the train was full, but not what I’d call packed.  We walked the half mile or so to the red start area where I packed my final bits into my kit bag, had a couple of photos taken and said goodbye to my ‘cheering squad’…

I walked up the hill and into the red area looking for my kit lorry, it was almost at the end of the line.  Kit dropped off, time for a wee… bonus, a queue of only 3 people.  The guy in front of me had a balloon which hit me in the face, he apologized, to which I replied “don’t worry about it, if that’s the worst that happens to me today I’ll be ok”.  I walked over to the Lucozade stand and took a bottle, then sat down with my tiger. The tiger was an inflatable thing dad had found at the coast a few days earlier.  He’d picked it up by chance, but it actually held significance to me, as one of my nicknames is Tony the Tiger.  It was about 4 feet high, and simply an inflatable pole with a tigers head on top.  (A few people kept calling it a cat.. which I suppose a tiger is).  I was to run with it until about 300 yards where Mrs. DK would take it off me.

I sat and watched the elite women start on the big screen, then decided to find my way to Pen 9.  Still wearing 2 extra t-shirts for warmth, carrying my tiger and 2 bottles of lucozade sport which I’d taken with me.  The pen gradually filled, I chatted to quite a few people who were running for various charities.  As the gun went off at 9:45, the crowd surged forward, only to come to a stop again at around the pen 7 sign, From there it was a shuffle.  I looked at my watch, Garmin Forerunner 405.  I’d had problems with its battery not lasting as long as it should recently, so checked the charge… 97%… bugger, it’d been on charge all night, and it was dropping too fast.  Decided I’d abandon my HR monitor along with the tiger, so removed it and turned the HR function off.  We were still shuffling when we reached the pen 5 marker, I removed and discarded my 2 extra t-shirts, that’s when I realized I’d managed to drink (in sips) an entire bottle of Lucozade, not only  that, I needed the loo again… bugger.  Should I duck out and go pre-start line, or wait until the first port-a-loo and go then?  Can’t let a waz ruin things… go now!

I noticed a gap in the railing which a few others were using to nip for wee stops and decide to follow.  No queue, straight in, straight out.   I was previously just in front of ‘The Bus’, so aimed for getting back into the line in a similar place, found another gap in the railings and got into the line about 20 feet in front of it.  We shuffled along, past the crier, through the gates and complete the first of 4 targets I had, run across the start…. this was it!  The initial pace was much, much slower than I’d have liked, It was too fast to walk, but to slow to run.  I saw Mrs. DK and my dad at the traffic light exactly in the same place I’d stood last year to watch my dad.  I Practically threw the tiger and my HR monitor at them and kept going.  The poor pace continued for about a mile, after which I was able to find enough space to settle down to a nice tempo… however… my old friend shin-splints was back for a chat.  I’ve noticed in training, particularly on the treadmill, that if I’m in that slow run/ fast walk pace, my shins act up… and they did, they were on fire.  The only way I can get rid of them is to ‘run them out’, so I gritted my teeth and pushed through it, by the third mile they were easing up.

My strategy of starting with a LucoZade seemed to be working well… just a sip or two every so often.  I took a water bottle at the first station and started alternating water and LZ.  I took an LZ gel at 3 miles (I’d taken 4 with me) and felt good.  The good feeling didn’t last long…   I picked up an injury in my right knee when I walked a marathon in my gym 3 weeks ago to raise funds.  The sports therapist there said it was my IT band, as it was really tight.  At the expo, the guys doing the sports strapping said they thought it was my hamstring.  All I knew was that it hurt, not lots, but enough to niggle.  The strapping applied at the expo was helping, but not enough, so I’d bought one of those neoprene supports from Boots on Saturday.  It wasn’t my right knee giving me grief though… it was my left!  The shin-splint pain had been so bad, it was masking the discomfort of my left knee rubbing against the support on my right knee.  The support had a seem on the outside facing my left knee, and had rubbed a huge angry red patch.  By 5 miles it was really sore and I found I was trying to run differently to compensate it.  I had an SIS pack on that was not only holding my LZ gels, but my own ‘first aid kit’ (Compeed plasters, Ibuprofen, Paracetamol and a big glob of vaseline in a food bag), I stopped to a walk and put the entire glob of vaseline on my knee, it helped, but only a little.  About half a mile on I had to stop and get more vaseline from SJA, adjusted the support a little to move the seam and put some vaseline on the support too.

That broke me, I was always planning to run/walk, but I’d wanted to run til at least 10 miles before a walk.  I just couldn’t get going again, so allowed myself a walk break.  Decided enough was enough and said to myself ‘run fat boy, run’ (I’ve used that a lot in training).  I ran another 3 miles or so then walked again.  By this time i’d finished my own LZ and taken another for the station at 5 miles.  I didn’t take water from every station… as I was only sipping, I kept each bottle until it was empty, so constantly had two bottles, 1 LZ 1 water.  I didn’t feel it right to take a bottle at every station only to waste more than half, there were people behind me who’d be gutted if the station ran out through my selfishness.

Just after the 9 mile marker I felt the first pains of a blister appearing on my left heel.  I stopped up on a grass verge and treated it myself with a compeed.   Took another LZ gel at 9 miles and began to feel good again.  Felt even better at just after 11 miles… ‘Jades Roundabout’ we called it, just on the edge of Southwark Park in Bermondsey… thats where I saw the tiger bobbing above the crowds… they’d made it, Mrs. DK and my dad.  I took the support off my right knee and gave it them, quick hug, took a packet of LZ jelly beans and off again.  I ran for another half mile or so then had another walk.  That’s when I realized my watch had died, lifeless… gutted.  Time wasn’t a massive factor for me really.  I always said I’d be happy with 5:30 overjoyed at 5:00 and ecstatic at 4:30, but in reality my only goal was to finish.  The watch however was crucial, it timed my walks, it told me how far I’d gone (yes, I know the huge towers and balloons do that, but when you’ve run half a mile and it feels like 10 feet, only a watch can let you know you’re doing better than you feel).

We turned a bend and my second target of the day came into view… Tower Bridge.  I was already running when I saw it, and I HAD to run its full length… I did.  I’ll never look at that bridge the same again.  A lot of people use the London eye as a major landmark these days, but that won’t be there forever, Tower Bridge will!  I carried on around the corner, through 13 miles and on to the halfway point.  I carried on along the highway at a walk, starting to run again just before limehouse.  I kept going until the underpass roundabout at Westferry road, had a good chat with a nice bloke called Aaron, we stayed together for quarter of a mile or so.  It was so nice to be out of the sun for a while.  I’d done lots of training last summer so didn’t think heat would be a massive problem… wrong.  Those runs were 40, 50 minutes at the most, by Westferry I’d been in the sun for over 3 hours!  I sort of knew dehydration wouldn’t be a problem… I was well hydrated on the days before the marathon, and my race drink strategy was working well.  The sun caused a problem I couldn’t have seen coming though and one which could have been catastrophic… Migraine!

I’ve suffered since birth, the docs said I should ‘outgrow’ them by age 16… guess what? I’m 31 and get them worse than ever.  I’ve been diagnosed with ‘opthalmaplegic’ (sp) migraines, which means the pain centers around and behind my eyes, usually my right.  In addition to making bright light unbearable, including that big orange thing in the sky… it also makes me dizzy, feel sick and I lose focus in that eye, making distance and spatial awareness a real problem.  The pain came on in less than 5 minutes.  I usually get a ‘warning’ either a distortion of sight or seeing ‘floaters’ but must have missed them as my mental focus was elsewhere.  My attacks are acute; they come on very quickly and usually last about 3 – 4 hours, rendering me useless for that time.  I couldn’t let this ruin my day; I WOULDN’T let this ruin my dream.  I’d collected an LZ at just after 15 miles… I necked it, along with an LZ gel and 3 each of ibuprofen and paracetamol from my ‘first aid kit’.

Most of the docklands were a blur; just trying to keep going was all I could do.  I genuinely don’t remember most of 15 to 18 miles, the only thing I do remember is repeating to myself 2 little mantras, 1 I took from a forum signature here on realbuzz “pain is temporary, success is permanent”, the other from a spectator at about mile 3 “your feet hurt because you kick-ass”.  I don’t know if it was the drugs, the sudden huge intake of carbs and sugar, or just sheer mind-over-matter, but somehow I kicked that migraines ass in record time, I was ready for another run.

Turned the corner at Jubilee gardens in Canary Wharf to see the tiger again.  Once again stopped for a quick hug and another packet of LZ jelly beans.  Didn’t mention how I felt, Mrs. DK would’ve pulled me out right there and then.  I ran until about 20.5 miles and settled for another walk, that’s when I saw my motivation to keep going….. THE BUS!  I don’t know how, but despite everything I managed to stay in front of the bus.  It had been a joke of mine all the way through training that even if it killed me I wouldn’t end up ‘on the bus’, meaning the sweeper coach.  I hadn’t banked on two blokes doing the marathon dressed as a London bus though… there was no way I was coming behind that thing!

That’s pretty much how it went from there; I’d run as far as I was able then walk for a short while.  Whenever the bus came back into sight I just had to run.  As I walked for a time along the highway, I saw an old bloke I’d spotted at the start who was pushing a three wheeled buggy. He was on the opposite side, heading towards docklands, he had a full case of LZ in it and looked like he was enjoying himself out for a Sunday stroll, despite the clean up crew doing their thing around him.  I ran from there to well after the 23 mile marker that I’d seen the previous evening.  Not long after that I saw a woman completely laid out with the SJA, I’m presuming from reading her blog that it was Sophie Raworth.

Not long after I was in the Underpass near Embankment, I was just thinking how quiet it was when one of a group of policemen running the race shouted ogi ogi ogi, I defy anyone not to reply oi oi oi!  That gave me what I needed, a huge grin, a kick up the backside and the will to succeed.  As I approached the 25 mile marker, the tiger was there again.  God I love that tiger… but not quite as much as the person holding it… Mrs. DK.  She and my dad had been through hell by that point too… I know, I did it last year with Mrs. DK when dad ran London.  We used the same plan, and whilst achievable, it didn’t leave much room for error, nor rest.  If it weren’t for them, I wouldn’t have been able to keep going… they were target number 3… To be running every time I saw them… and I was!

I didn’t stop for a hug this time; I simply gave a thumbs up and as I went under the 25 marker, held my right hand high in the air with just my index finger extended.  ONE. This had two significances to me… half meaning one more mile… half nicked from ‘We Come One’ by Faithless.  At the end of their live gigs they play this track and the whole crowd shout ‘ONE’ together.  This was how I felt, the spectators, the runners and myself… ONE!

That last mile and a bit was agony.  I kept running until I knew I’d be out of sight, didn’t want them to see the pain… started to walk… the crowd wouldn’t let me… ‘Keep going, you can do it’… ‘Go Tony’… ‘Just a bit further’… I had to run.  As I rounded the Mall and onto the final straight, I realized that the bus was about 100 feet behind me… I’m not coming behind that bus… I don’t know where it came from, but I found the energy for a proper pace and… Target number 4… Ran across the line.  Broken, battered, agony….. Wait a minute….. Elation… achievement… pride!  My official time was 5:44:32, not what I’d hoped for, but given what I’d gone through, I didn’t care.

I’ve done it!  The little fat ginger kids done it!  No sweeper coach, no ambulance!  I took some time to stretch my legs out, then went to get my chip removed and collect my medal.  Never before has a bit of metal and ribbon meant so much!  I had my picture taken with my medal then walked to collect my bag.  The woman was holding it out to me before I even got there.  Walked to the repatriation zone and the pre-agreed letter Q.  Our surname begins with a  C, but we discovered last year just how busy C can be, so decided on Q this year.  The tiger was easily spot able.

Posed for photos for Mrs. DK and dad, hugs and then found our way through horse-guards to the ‘Children with Leukaemia’ reception just opposite horse-guards.  Mrs. DK and Dad went straight upstairs to get food and refreshments, they’d earned them… I stayed downstairs to get changed.  There were no showers, and I’d not thought of an alternative.  Luckily a fellow runner had thought of this and was handing out baby-wipes, so there were several of us having a baby-wipe bath.  After changing, a massage was provided, bliss, didn’t even care that I was in a huge room of mixed sex strangers in just a t-shirt and boxers.  Heard a bloke saying he’d forgot to pack clean socks.  I’d packed flip-flops to wear back to the hotel, so didn’t need the clean pair I’d packed… gave them without a second thought.

I got upstairs and wolfed the Sheppard’s pie, crisps, and lucozade down in no time at all, I don’t even remember tasting it.  Sadly, a woman on the next table was in a far worse state.  Mrs. DK said she’d looked ropey for a while, suddenly she collapsed.  The medic was called from downstairs, then the SJA arrived, they put her on oxygen and took her away in an ambulance.  I heard them mention severe dehydration.  I felt really bad for her that she had to end such an amazing day so badly, but no matter what happens, no-one will ever be able to take that medal from her, she deserves it.  We left the reception and made our way to Westminster tube station, as we crossed Victoria embankment, an SJA runner was fighting her own battle to make it to the finish, ‘Lozenge’ across her back.  Tears streaming down her face, the course practically gone, I offered her encouragement and watched her struggle on.  We caught the tube back to the hotel, quick showers and out for a quick meal before walking dad back to Tower Hill tube station, he was catching a train from Kings Cross, by the time he got home he’d have been awake 24 hours.

I’m back at home myself now, still a mixed bag of emotions… would I run another marathon… damn straight I will… I’m entering the Chester marathon, and come April 26th, I’ll be entering the ballot for the 2012 London Marathon.

Before I sign off, there’s one thing about the marathon I’ve only very briefly mentioned….. The crowds.   The people of London and surrounding boroughs, the families, friends and supporters of other runners, the huge cheering squads from Children with Leukaemia and countless other charities and each and every one of the marshals, drinks station team, photographers THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU.  If I stayed here for a thousand years saying that it wouldn’t be enough!  I was blessed by 3 different priests, and heard my name called out hundreds of times… I tried to thank every call or at least give a nod or thumbs up, but I know I missed some… so THANK YOU.  Kids with sweets in their hands or waiting for a ‘high-five’ THANK YOU I welled up when one parent thanked ME for high-fiving his small son… Sir, you and your family are amazing, as are each and every person lining that route.  The London marathon wouldn’t be what it is without any of you.

THANK YOU also to my dad, I know Sunday was harder than you were expecting, but knowing you were there not only supporting me, making sure Mrs. DK was safe helped me through.

Finally, THANK YOU to Mrs. DK, you’re my rock, my world and everything.  I drain the colour from the sky and turn blue without you.  You’ve put up with me all year, the training runs, 2 cold Sundays stood around for over 2 hours while I complete a half marathon.  Mood swings, tantrums…. highs, lows.  But never doubting me, and never letting me doubt myself.  I did it babe, I did it for you!

Thanks for reading folks, i’ll be back with another blog post soon.


Posted in Uncategorized | 3 Comments

Don’t want to speak too soon… But I’m Feeling Better

Since Feb 23rd, things have started to look up.  As most of you know, our IVA was accepted as proposed with only a couple of modifications to our IP’s fees.   Having seen the chairmans report, it seems that we gained a full 100% agreeance from our creditors!

We’ve now paid the first of 72 payments into our IVA and finally feel like we have a closure and an ability to move forwards.  I say 72 payments as i’m banking on the 12 month extension being applied at month 54, at least that way it doesn’t come as a shock when it does happen.

Having re-read my last post, it’s obvious that a huge part of my anxiety was coming from being in the final stages of sorting our IVA application.  My headaches have subsided and returned to their usual pattern and intensity.  I’m still taking St. Johns Wort, but only half the daily dose, i’ll wean myself off that in the next month or so.  Work is still suffering however, i’m sure its because of the increased pressure of being on a written warning meaning i’m trying ‘too hard’ with customers and putting them off a purchase.  I’m still looking for a new job.

I spent Tuesday last week out with a cousin i’ve not seen for 15 years.  We’re both into photography so spent the day at Caulk Abbey on the Derbyshire/ Leicestershire border just wandering and snapping.  It was really relaxing.

The biggest improvement though is in my running… I’ve got my mojo back!  I’ve been steadily increasing weekly mileage and completed a 12 mile run just last night.  I’m now feeling really positive about next months London Marathon, where i’m hoping to shave an hour off last years time of 5:44:32.  My fundraising has taken a small boost this past week or so, taking my total for this year to £606, giving a cumulative total of £2619, only £1394 to go!

One last thing… a warning.  For any newbies out there reading these blogs thinking about entering an IVA, or looking for help/ direction… beware of the tricks your creditors will try.  As i’m sure you’re aware from my blog, we have a car, an Alfa, that we’re defaulting on the finance of and having the car repossesed.  Once the car is sold by the finance company, FGA finance, it will leave a shortfall of about £5500.  This amount was included within our IVA and agreed to by FGA.

We recieved a letter this week for us to sign, saying we agreed to a voluntary termination of our agreement, and that once we’d returned the car and paid a shortfall amount of £7900 then our agreement would be terminated.  Cheeky B******s!  Voluntary termination is completely different to a default.  If we’d signed that document we’d be liable to pay them the £7900 even though they had agreed to £5500 as it is in the IVA.

I called them and advised them that we WON’T be signing anything, and that the car is in secure storage (at my work) where THEY can collect it at any time… WE won’t be delivering it anywhere to them.

Thats pretty much it for this update, til next time readers


Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

A Catch Up.

Hello Folks,

It’s been a wierd couple of weeks since my last post.  Our wedding anniversary came and went, due to the obvious circumstances we’d decided not to ‘waste’ money on cards, and bought each other only token gifts and even then things that were really needed rather than desired.  We did go out for a nice meal, luckily we were given some cash by my parents for Christmas which we’d been saving just for this, so it at least felt a little like a celebration.

I recieved a message from Andy regarding my blog of the week award, and recieved the gift voucher a few days later.  Thank you again, Andy, it was very gratefully recieved.  Despite my wanting to spend the voucher on a treat for Mrs DK, she insisted we save it, thats when my mother offered to buy it from us, meaning we had cash that was spendable anywhere.  We’re going to save it for our trip to London in April when I run the marathon… more on that later.

Other than that i’m afraid there is little other to report of a positive nature.  My review at work did indeed result in my first warning, with another review diarised for early April.  I’ve applied for several jobs, each of which i’ve heard nothing back from so assume i’ve been unsucessful.  I’m sorry to say it, and I hate to admit it, but the lifting of that big grey blanket was only a passing feeling… its back.  And then some.

I’m down, deeply down.  I can’t focus on work, and my numbers are still poor.  I’m a migraine sufferer and usually get 3 – 4 mild attacks per month and 1 – 2 major attacks per quarter… i’ve had a total of 5 major attacks in 3 weeks.  The truth is… I feel lower now than I did in 2001, and that scares me.  Nothing interests me, it feels like the light in the tunnel has gone out.  I can’t see a doctor for fear of being signed off work, I can’t afford it.  I’m just hoping that once the IVA is in place, rubber stamped if you will, my mood will lift.  St. Johns Wort seemed to help in 2001, placebo or not, i’ve bought a months supply. 

The biggest casualty of my decreasing ‘mood’… my running.  I started running in May 2010, after seeing my dad run the London marathon.  Since then i’ve ran 3 half marathons and 3 full marathons including London last year.  I’ve so far raised over £2500 for a charity called ‘Children With Cancer UK’, and i’m aiming to raise a further £2000 by april when I again run the London marathon.  The problem is though, by this stage I should be well into serious marathon training.  I should be covering at least 20 – 30 miles per week, in honesty, even running 30 minutes a week is a struggle… i’m just not enjoying it anymore.

I won’t, can’t give up though.  I don’t run because i’m good at it, or because i’m fit.  I do it to raise funds for this hugely worthy charity, and for the families and children it helps.  I do it so I can at least feel like i’ve given something to the world, rather than just taken.  For that reason, come April 22nd, i’ll be in London.  And I don’t care if I have to crawl… i’ll cross that finishing line!

Finally, its now 1am on 23rd February 2012.  In fourteen hours and thirty minutes our creditors meeting will be held.  I’m working tomorrow so i’ve arranged to take my lunch at 3.30 so i’ll be available to take a call from Grant Thornton… I doubt i’ll get much done at work tomorrow though, i’m gonna be pacing the walls.

Hopefully next time I post, it will be to share the good news from our meeting… ’til then.


Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

It Always Gets Darkest Before Dawn.

I’m in shock… yesterday was enormous.

As you’re aware, I sell cars… well, I try.  I’m not one of the high flyers, never have been, i’m average.  My downfall is that I don’t have killer instinct, I won’t take someones trousers down or use high pressure tactics, never have… never will.  Because of this, I never do high numbers, but I usually hit targets.  This has changed recently though.

For the last 3 months of 2011, my numbers have tumbled… off a cliff.  It coincides with the realisation… no, admission… that we were headed into disaster.  Mentally I couldn’t cope, became negative, wanted to give up.  October and November… 3 cars sold each month, December… 5 cars.

January seemed better, we’re tackling our demons, making plans to sort things out.  As a result i’m happier.  Happier seems a stupid word to use, i’m still ‘down’ but at least someones removed that horrible gray blanket that seemed to cover everything and drain the taste from even my favourite food.  Result… 9 cars sold.  Not as many as my ‘normal’ months, but 80% there, and my target was 10, so I felt i’d had a bloody good stab at it….. No.

Was handed a letter half an hour before finishing last night, i’ve got a ‘review’ on Monday morning.  My recent performance is unsatisfactory and management are proceeding with the first step working towards dismissal… a written warning.  I’m angry, my immediate manager, site general manager and company HR all know about my personal situation, and mental problems.  Hey, lets kick a bloke when he’s down.

Thing is, i’ve felt trapped working here for over 3 years.  Sure I could go sell cars for another dealership, but you’re as bad burned as scolded, they’re all as bad as each other to work for.  I daren’t leave for another dealership for fear of the uncertain and needing to maintain a certain income to service our debts…  Better the devil and all that.  Leaving motor sales hasn’t really been an option, I’m not educated above GCSE, so opportunities with increased income are rare.  What happened last night changes everything.

As soon as we walked in I saw it and immediately tensed up… this is it… our proposal.  I took the forum advice and made a cuppa… then read it… then read it again.  Made our evening meal and allowed it to sink in, then discussed and explained everything to Mrs. DK, then read it again.  I’ve slept on it, and read it for a fourth time, it’s now signed and winging its way 1st class recorded back to Grant Thornton in Belfast.

We’re offering a creditor dividend of 14p in the £.  A monthly payment of £238 for 58 months, then £448 for 2 months.  This is due to the car hire purchase ending and us being expected to release the equivalent payment to the IVA.

Our home currently has £1500 equity, we’re expected to pursue a remortgate at month 54, but it is not expected that one will be available, nor substantial equity be available either, so a further 12 months contribution, at the higher rate of £448, will be required.

Our allowed expenditure allows us a reasonable amount to live on.  Moreover, it allows us more than i’d thought we were going to be allowed, i’d been super tight with our budget, it looks like we won’t be living solely on Tesco 2-stripe food.

I’m, we’re comfortable with the payments, even the higher payments once the HP ends.  We’re going to think of it as just an extra year car HP, as the net monthly outgoings will remain the same.  The car we have is new, and I have enough contacts to be able to service it at cost, so keeping it roadworthy for the 6 year duration won’t be a problem.

I realise that the creditors may request a higher dividend at the meeting, and have worked out how much our monthly payment will be if it increases by a few p in the £, i’ve worked out a contingency for this and am ready for any phonecall on meeting day and will be able to give an instant answer, not delaying any further.

I can’t describe how much of a weight has been removed.  I’m a pessimist, you should have gathered that by now.  I was expecting the monthly payment to be double what it is.  I’m so happy now I could cry, shout, sing and hug a randomer.

I’m free… Mondays work meeting really doesn’t mean anything now.  Give me a written warning, I don’t care.  I’m now looking for a new job, outside of car sales.  The reduced outgoings mean not only can we afford to live, but I can afford to leave one of the largest reasons for my stress and anxiety.  A recent customer of mine works for Stagecoach, the bus company.  I’ve had loads of information from him, and it sounds like something I could do.  I dropped an application in on the way to work this morning for a trainee drivers position.

I know we’re not quite there yet, but we’re within spitting distance.  I said it on my first blog post, and i’ll repeat it now…  If you’re a lurker, someone with massive unmanageable debts and keep reading this site and my blog wondering if it’s the right thing to do… DO IT!  There’s a wealth of information on this site, and loads of people ready to help, guide, comfort and direct you… the difference once you start proceedings is immeasureable.

One final thing… It seems my blog has been awarded ‘Blog of the week’.  I’m so chuffed you feel its a worthwhile read, its hard to think my little ‘sounding board’ is liked so much.  I’m told Andy will be in touch with a voucher as a prize, i’m touched, and so very very grateful.  It’s our 4th wedding anniversary this weekend, i’m going to use the voucher to treat Mrs DK.  Thank you, each and every one.

I’ll post when we have our meeting date.


Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment

A Rollercoaster Day…

Hey folks,

Just a short posting today its really only to get something out, as I said in my first posting, this blog is my way of voicing things to help me deal with them, that way I can re-read when I calm down.

Todays not even over yet and already I feel like i’ve been on a massive rollercoaster.  It started with a phonecall, again, from Tesco finance, i’ve told them the situation and they agreed to hold calls… hmmm… right arm not talking to the left.

Then my work decides to throw a huge curveball… we’re getting a new pay structure.  This happens every January, its usually because we (the sales staff) have figured out how to work the current structure to our benefit so it gets tweaked a little.  This year though its a huge change, including them taking penalty payments off us for missed targets.  For many of the staff, myself included, this is the final straw and I can see a handful of sales positions being available within the next couple of months.

Next it was Grant Thorntons turn to turn the stress level up a bit more, I got a call from their office enquiring about the whereabouts of the instruction to go ahead, the authority to talk to creditors form and the direct debit form.  They also said they needed creditor statements from several creditors.  I’d sent everything they required by registered post a week ago.

This left me really worried, so I put a call in to Gillian and left a message asking her to contact the Belfast office and see if she could help.

An hour later the office called back saying they’d located everything they required.  We should recieve our proposal in 10 – 14 days!!!

OH MY GOD!!!  Such a relief, I can’t wait to recieve the proposal so that we can check it, approve it then allow them to arrange our creditor meeting.  14 days coincides almost perfectly with our 4th wedding anniversary, what a fab present.

Keep positive people.


Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Its Good To Talk…. Isn’t it?

Hello Again,

Its now several weeks since our meeting with our IP, and the cessation of payments to debtors.  Almost everyday we come home from work to another pile of letters and corresponance asking about payments, or informing us of arrears and kindly charging us £25 for the letter.  I’m sure our postman will be getting fed up soon.

We’ve also had a lot of calls and even texts from several of our debtors, we were both very worried about whether to answer them or not, my wife was especially worried as she’s quite suggestable and very emotional so didn’t want to say the ‘wrong’ thing to any of them.   I decided to answer one on Saturday, a call which came to my mobile from an 0845 number that’d tried at least 3 times previous.  It was Barclays, regarding my personal loan and overdraft.  The guy on the other end listened to what I had to say, I explained that we’d hit financial difficulty and were speaking to CAB and another ‘agency’ to explore our options, that an explanatory letter should be with them soon, and that if possible, we’d like a little breathing space.  He responded with compassion, asked whether we were paying for advice recieved, I explained Grant Thornton were handling it and no charge was being paid.  He then asked if an IVA was a possibility, I just said that that was ‘one option that was being decided over’.

He not only said he’d arrange for a 30 day ‘contact hold’ to allow time to decide, but also advised that my wife would be ok to avoid their calls until a time when one came in when we were together so that I could deal with it on her behalf after she’d answered the security questions.  He ended the call by advising me to arrange a new bank account so that my monthly salary wasn’t swallowed by the bank to cover debts!  What a down-to-earth, sensible approach.  After the call I felt so much relief, maybe this wasn’t going to be the living hell i’d imagined?  Hmmm…

Since Saturday, i’ve approached each caller in the same manner, both for my own debtors and those of my wife.  One though, wasn’t so understanding.  We had a call for my wife from Opus (credit card) last night, after she’d answered the security questions my wife handed over to me.  The woman on the line was very confrontational, asking for a payment to be made several times.  At one point she said surely you can pay back something?  After i’d told her the same as i’d told Mr. Barclays man, she demanded a reference number from the CAB, probably trying to imply I was lying and hadn’t actually spoken to them… unlucky love… reference number immediately to hand.  She agreed to give us 2 weeks grace, and to hold all contact until then.

Today was a real bummer…  I had a call on my mobile from Tesco (credit card) whilst at work.  I was in the middle of dealing with a client, so explained that I was at work and would be happy to talk after 6pm when I get home.  The guy said he’d call after 6… ok I thought… NO!  About an hour later I took a call at work, the caller asked for me by name, saying he was calling from Tesco finance.  This was on my WORK phone, which means he’d gone through switchboard!!!  Suffice to say, the reply he got was short, sharp, and very descriptive of where he could store his security questions.    It made my blood boil, and i’m sure it was the smae guy who’d rung and hour previous.  When we got home from work, I took another call on the home phone, it was Opus… AGAIN!  The guy wanted to speak to Mrs Dragon Keeper.  I explained in no uncertain terms that we’d taken a call yesterday and that it had been agreed to hold contact for 2 weeks, and that Mrs Keeper wouldn’t be taking his call… he hung up.

So… am I right to be trying to play nicely with these people and explaining our situation?  Should we just ignor them all and let the CAB and GT talk to them or write to them as and when they’re ready?  As I’ve said before, we’re not entering into this IVA because we want an easy way out, we’ve tried for years to dig ourselves out of the hole we created, we’ve just found ourselves in too big a hole, with too small a shovel.

Hope we hear something back from GT soon…

For now.


Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

And So It Begins….

Hello readers,

Today started out positively, we had a few errands to run and I needed a haircut, other than that we had a fairly leisurely day planned.  It didn’t quite go that way though.

After the haircut, we had to visit our local DVLA office to arrange for a reg transfer from the car we’re losing to the newly acquired one.  Then it was back home for some lunch.  Waiting for us on the doormat were the first batch of letters from our bank requesting that we either re-set our direct debits for both of our loans or arrange to make payment in full.  These were taken along with the other 2 down to the CAB for them to arrange ‘holding letters’ on our behalf asking debtors to allow time to look at our options and make a decision on the best course of action.

It was later in the afternoon that the enormity of what we’re entering into suddenly hit me.  We were watching stuff we’ve recently Sky plussed, this in itself is a huge difference for us, we both work 6 days per week and only get Tuesdays off, so we usually spend it out somewhere, probably spending money we don’t have.  Now we make a conscious effort to spend as little as possible, we go home for lunch and try and occupy our time with activeties that don’t cost money.  The phone ringing caught me off guard, we’d agreed to screen calls but I just wasn’t thinking and picked it up.  It was the finance company for the car we’re getting rid of.  I knew they were after talking to us as they left an answer phone message yesterday, I was going to call them later, once I’d psyched myself up to do it but now here I was talking to them, unprepared.

The lady on the other end started off quite politely, but when I explaind that our circumstances had changed and that we were unable to continue making repayments her attitude changed.  She became passive aggressive, and made it clear that if we missed our next repayment that we would be served a default notice and that due to the fact that we’d not yet passed the ‘one third’ point on the agreement, they would repossess the car.  After some waffle and diatribe, she said they’d be in touch after the next payment date.

Funny thing is, this is what we actually want them to do.  Take back the car, default us, and pass the shortfall amount to a collection agency as an unsecured sum, we can then include it within the IVA proposal.  The reality though, it shocked me.  I was shaking quite badly, all of a sudden it was real… we are insolvent.  The next payment is due on the 5th of Feb, after that my wife, who’s name the finance is in, has an irreversably bad credit rating… we’re officially ‘pond-life’.

I texted Gillian from Grant Thornton to keep her up to speed with developments.  She was as ever, comforting and explained that this is standard proceedure, and not to worry.  She also asked me to send copies of everything we’ve recieved in the past week to the office by recorded mail.  Its nice knowing there’s someone there who can answer your questions quickly and expertly.  I know we’re still in the early days of our ‘relationship’, but I would already recommend Grant Thornton, and more importantly Gillian, to anyone.

I know that these next few weeks are going to be hellish, it always gets darkest before dawn.  I just hope I can stay strong, remain focussed, keep going.

‘Til next time.


Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

How We Got Here.


Its January 8th 2012, its 2.26am, my wife is in bed asleep…. i’m not…. again.

The truth is, we’re in it over our heads.  Together we have over £50’000 in unsecured debt, a £40’000 mortgage, and a £9’000 mortgage ‘openplan overdraft’.  The realisation at the end of November 2011 was that within 6 weeks, we wouldn’t have enough money to pay almost 50% of the bills…. I say we…. I mean ‘I’.

Up to this point, my wife was living in perfect blissful ignorance.  She knew nothing, sure, she was aware of credit cards etc… but not to the extent, I handled everything financial… I failed.  I had to sit her down, explain the facts, explain the options.  But before that…. I need to explain why we’re here.

Way back in 2001, I was single.  I worked as a manager in a fast food restaurant, aged 20.  Through a series of events, I ended up solely responsible for the entire operation, and also ended up working 16hr shifts 7 days per week for about 8 weeks due to most of the staff walking out, and the regional manager not allowing new recruitment.  My stress levels were rising.  At the same time, I was going through a hellish time with my current girlfriend, it didn’t help that both her sister and father were trying to split us up.  By late May that year, I snapped… walked out of work mid-shift and ended up being signed off for 12 weeks with stress, depression and anxiety state.  I had 8 councelling sessions that summer.

Fast forward to 2004, I was in the process of buying my house when I met my now wife.  I was working for a car dealership, earning above average wages, but already dealing with a small fortune of debt.  Unfortunately, everything was not well with the universe.  My boss at the time was a bully, a real Jekyl and Hyde why used me as his personal whipping boy.  It was tough, but I liked the job so put up with him.  In addition, it became apparent that my wife-to-be had her own baggage, and then some.  In additon to family problems with an abusive and estranged father, she herself was in a mountain of debt.  I tried to take control of everything, shouldering the burden, thinking I could manage.  The final straw came in January 2007, bad day at work, went home… tore into the wife.  Thats when I realised my mental health might always be a problem.  The next 4 months were spent getting help from my wife and parents.

Finally found a new job in April 2007, although a paycut of over 40% had to be taken.  I was happier, more focussed.  We got married in Feb 2008, happy times.  Unfortunately in August 2008 my wifes Grandmother passed away, leaving a sizeable inheritance.  Again, things did not go our way, My brother-in-law was to purchase his grandmothers house, which would release the inheritance… however, he refused to arrange his mortgage for 18 months, delaying the payment.  All the while our debt was increasing, the inheritance would’ve set us straight at that point, by the time it came it made nothing but a dent.  I’m still with the same company, although in April 2011, I was forced to move departments due to level of trade.  A move I was unhappy with, and again, it came with a paycut, only 10% this time, but still.  I’m still in car sales, but the recession has taken its toll… massively.

Why am I telling you all of this, you probably think i’m full of drivel?  I’m sorry for waffling, I aim to use this blog as my way of venting, sharing, getting it out.  You see, all the time through those years, we both started with, and generated more… DEBT.  At first it was semi-controllable, but the factors above conspired against us.  I’m not trying to say were innocent in this… we’re not.  There were plenty of times when we bought things we didn’t need, went to places we didn’t need to go to, booked a holiday.  All of these times we didn’t really buy them… we borrowed them, from Mr. Barclaycard, Mr Morgan-Stanley, Mr Egg.  Each time I felt ‘down’, stressed or in anxiety, that old addage ‘retail therapy’ helped.

So… back to the present… those options I offered my wife…  We’ve been borrowing back money on the openplan mortgage at a steady rate for 3 years, every time we have a ‘negative month’ (one where we earn less than we spend) we’d borrow a bit, and pay it back on a ‘positive month’.  Unfotunately, negative months now outnumber positive ones and we’ve run out of overdraft.  I’d been sent a letter from creation finance, offering a 7.5K loan.  We could put this back into the overdraft and live from it again, that should buy us 2 – 3 years, buy which time 2 huge loans we have will be finished, so we can start paying cards off.  Except the application was turned down.  This left us with 3 options… a secured home owner loan, bankruptcy or an IVA.  We discussed, and agreed to apply for the home owner loan via our bank, Barclays… DECLINED. Down to 2 options… I finally voiced a third, the next paragraph may shock…. it still scares me…

We have a car on finance, its in massive negative equity which is covered by total loss GAP insuance.  I have 2 life insurance policies, 1 to cover the mortgage, the other provides £35k cash, finally, my employer pays £15k death in service.  If I could have an ‘accident’ in the car… all her worries disappear.  I’d given it thought, even had it planned… where, when, how.  Obviously she was none-too-pleased with the idea.

We finally approached our local CAB and after the first initial meeting we were asked to attend an interview with a representative from Grant Thornton.  At the interview, our income and expenditure was discussed and an IVA recommended.  We were advised to cease payments to all creditors and to set up a new ‘clean’ bank account, which we’ve now done.  Our required paperwork was collected on Jan 3rd, and we await Grant Thornton’s response.  In the meantime, we’ve had the first 2 letters asking why direct debit’s have been cancelled, we’re off to CAB on Tuesday to get letters to send back.  Gillian, our GT advisor, says our payment could be in the region of 300 – 400 PCM, compared to the combined £1450 pcm we pay to debt at the moment, it’ll be a breath of fresh air.

The car we have is on a PCP deal, which comes to an end in 3 years, we’re not happy with the car, and were planning to give it back under ‘voluntary termination’ as soon as able.  We were advised to cease payments right now, and allow the car to be repossesed, the shortfall can then be included within the IVA.  We were told to go and buy a new car on a normal 5 year agreement, before the IVA proceedings start, which we’ve done, that alone saves us over £100 PCM.

We’re just waiting now, hoping that Grant Thornton are in contact soon.

If you’ve read this far, thanks for sharing this with me, i’ll update our progress regularly.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment