Going Forward – Chapter Seventeen

Happy New Year to all my readers – few though you may be. Thank you for staying with me.

Stay safe in 2021.

…..Previously

Mrs Wilson said that she hoped that I’d understand if she asked the Security Manager to accompany me to my office and ensure that I took no company property away: it was standard procedure when staff  left their employment for any reason. Once more I agreed and, when he arrived, I left with him and then left the building – three months tax-free pay better off. There was a spring in my step until I got in my car. There I realised that I’d be going home to an empty house and no-one to share my good news with.

Continued…….

CHAPTER SEVENTEEN

Ideas changing to Action

Other than a month in a new job starting and ending, lots of other things had been happening.

My solicitor had emailed me about the size of my pension fund, and the value of damn near everything I own. He’d had a letter from Helen’s solicitor. The cheeky bitch had also requested details of my bank accounts, my redundancy payment, pay-in-lieu and current salary. Given that she’d already snatched half of our joint bank balance, I couldn’t believe that she was after a second bite at the cherry. I groaned thinking about all the letters I was going to need to write to get the information she asked for. Her solicitor wanted three independent valuations of the house. “Bloody Hell,” I thought, “I bet that the house she lives in with her new guy won’t be considered. I bit the bullet and set aside that night to do all the necessary information requests. I was taken aback when I realised that I’d have to pay the estate agents for their valuations.

The next blow was a letter from the Child Support people wanting my confirmation of the custody arrangements. My solicitor had already said that it was normal for the mother to have sole custody unless I had compelling justification for shared custody. Helen had made it clear that she’d fight me on that, but I wasn’t convinced that a few hours each Sunday was fair. I’d fight for increased access – even if, for child support purposes that still counted as sole custody for her. They also wanted details of my financial position. I replied fully, but I decided to email details to my solicitor.

I made time to write and to send to Ben my proposal on providing marketing training for directors of small companies – to be aimed at recent start-ups. Ben sent an acknowledgement and promised me that he’d compile all those that he received into a compendium email attachment to be circulated before the virtual get together.

The meeting took place a couple of days after I’d left my employment with the printing group. Everyone had replied and we were all online at the agreed time. Ben had also distributed a download link for us to use to participate. It was a strange experience. Everyone had their camera on, but it was clear that not all of us were comfortable with the idea. I was fascinated seeing the various types of domestic backgrounds in view. People’s various ‘tics’ were more noticeable as were the differences in the video quality of their streams. Aspects such as these were raised as being germane to how realistic online tutorials were going to be for everybody. For ideas such as Tony’s, where his outreach would be outdoors, in the mountains, all that mattered was the quality of the online advertising. For some of us the quality of broadband provision would need to be looked at.

Regarding the proposals themselves, it was clear that everyone had done a cracking job. It now looked as though we could be onto a winner. Ben arranged to visit those people with bad broadband links to see what could be done. Tony, Susie and I fixed up a date to meet at Tony’s house, in early February, to go through the various proposals, prioritise their implementation, and then consider for each what needed to be done to optimise the online presence of any promotional material. Susie promised, in the meantime, to obtain and circulate costings for web hosting, plugins, offline back up and so forth. Because this would be a corporate rather than a personal website we should expect something in the upper hundreds of pounds or low thousands. Everyone agreed to contribute equally to the cost and Jason would sort out the best formal matters such as legal agreements, banking and payments into our joint enterprise fund. He’d come back to us regarding a suitable corporate name. Beverly asked if we’d mind if she joined us. We all agreed.

The bulk of the meeting though was about the issue I’d raised at Beverly’s house. We needed to firm up what kind of grouping we wanted. It was something that we’d all need to agree on or there would be no point in going any further. All of us, after some discussion, came to a consensus that we should all contribute equally to the initial capital. Having heard the way York had spoken to that employee director, I definitely didn’t want to end up being bossed about by someone on the basis of the value of their shareholding. I think that we all wanted to be co-owners and co-workers. Having said that, I was conscious that, because Helen had snatched her half of my redundancy and pay-in-lieu money, I’d now have to start thinking about some other way of bringing in money to pay bills.

Even with the windfall payment from the print firm I now had less than £24,000 in the bank and was facing an unknown regular payment for Child Support. I’d also have legal bills to pay. God alone knew what that would come to by the time we were finished. I was sceptical that our co-op would be breaking-even for at least twelve months and it would be a lot longer before it would generate enough by way of dividend income to pay six of us an equivalent of our former salaries.

The idea of us recharging each other also turned out to be anathema. We might be making different types of contribution to ideas and content but we wanted to be equals when it came to profit-sharing. I think that we all recognised that this was the only way forward for us if we were to avoid arguments: we were to be a co-operative group. Finally, while we all wanted to be able to pay our bills, we all agreed that, for the first few years at least, we should be re-investing as much profit as possible rather than lining our pockets, charging the organisation for company cars or anything like that. Jason said that he’d draw up the paperwork and draft an expenses system so that no one would be out of pocket – for example, Susie should be able to reclaim any costs she incurred in setting up a website, and Tony should be able to claim for using his car when he took groups out on location. Jason volunteered to investigate what grants might be available to us as a start-up and he’d also make suggestions as to how much capital we should need to invest initially.

Other than expenses, until we were earning profits, we’d have to live off our personal means. I realised that I might need a part-time job of some sort. Others seemed to agree with that thought.

Featured Photo

Today’s photo is another that I took in January 2020 when I enjoyed a weekend of photography in London. This shot was one that I took from near Embankment tube station looking across the River Thames towards the London Eye which was still slowly turning at night on my first day.

The Exif data are as follows: Pentax K-1 36 MP full-frame camera with a 15-30 mm f/2.8 lens at 29 mm and f/11. The shutter speed was 30 secs and the ISO 100. The shot was tripod mounted, without filters and post processing in Lightroom Classic.

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