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November 2003
Life in Catford ( S.E. London, England)

*** After 5 days of a dead NTL phoneline I am back in the land of the living **
*** 19.30 GMT12th November 2003 ***

Sunday 30th November 2003
08.40 GMT
Weather :
Bright and cold.
     It looks fine and bright outside. I am now torn between going out and starting to re-edit the Skyline Radio video. Maybe the cloud will build up and take the choice away later. I stayed up watching the Skyline Radio video in bed last night. Having now seen the whole thing for the first time in 10 years I am convinced I can make a lot of improvements to it. There is a good chance that it will end up at half the length rather than the ¾ I predicted yesterday, but it should make it far more watchable. I feel really eager to make a start on it and see how it turns out. It will be a long process though, and could take several days before I am happy with it. Even as I write this I am sure that more cloud is coming in from the North East. I don't know whether that is where the weather is coming from, but it seems like it. Maybe the clouds, and the potential rain, will make up my mind for me. A lot could happen in the 3, and a bit, hours before I would be due to go out.
Saturday 29th November 2003
08.00 GMT
Weather : Sky looks a uniform grey colour.
    I've just let Schiba in and fed him and Nelly their breakfasts. I think I am going back to bed for another hour after a late night last night.
22.35 GMT
   I did go back to bed, but only for half an hour or so. This morning I did some shopping and then started arranging stuff for another bit of filming with Patrick. Once again it was good fun. I suppose fun may not be quite the right word. Perhaps enjoyable is a better one. Patrick also returned a digitised copy of the Skyline Radio video that I gave him. My copy was on Umatic tape and I had long lost any means to play it. By todays standards the quality is not too good, and also the colour seems a bit odd. Now I have a digital version that I can now play I am going to have a go at remastering it and then burn it to DVD. The original was 60 minutes long, but quite frankly there are some scenes that go on for far too long and are boring. My remastered version will be cut down to something like 45 minutes. I still know a couple of people who appeared in the original video and they might like to see it again (or probably not !!!). I should be able to put the remastered and original on the same DVD so they can be compared side by side.

     Tomorrow was supposed to be another day out with plenty of fresh air and exercise, but mainly photography. That is now almost certainly off as the weather looks as if it could be horrible in the morning. If not then it might be on, but I am not optimistic.
Friday 28th November 2003
09.45 GMT
Weather : Dry and bright, but cold with hints of earlier frost.
     Off to a late start this morning. Despite all the exercise yesterday I found it difficult to get to sleep last night. I was OK late afternoon where I dozed while reading shortly after eating. But then I did have a couple of pints of booze in me ! I'm not sure what time I fell asleep this morning. However i do know that I was woken up at 4 am by Schiba who could not decide whether he wanted to eat or go out. Eventually he decided that he could not cross his legs any longer and had to abandon eating and go out. Once back in bed I fell asleep very quickly and slept right through until about 09.15. Since I am not going anywhere, or seeing anyone today (as far as I know) I just had the very lightest of washes and pulled some clothes on.

     Today will probably be a lazy day. I have several magazines to read and a DVD to watch. The DVD is Red Dwarf series 2. I bought it on the way home yesterday after seeing it in WH Smiths. It was in the promotional racks for "Buy 2 for £20". Along with it I bought Signs which is probably a crap film, but it is, allegedly, science fiction and might be worth a look.

     Right now I feel starving hungry and don't know what to do about it. I could have some breakfast, but I'd rather wait until midday for a light lunch. Decisions, decisions !!!!
Thursday 27th November 2003
08.30 GMT
Weather : Dry but cold
     I had a good drink last night ! I am not sure how many pints of Winter Warmer I had, but it left me feeling that inner warmth.

     Schiba behaved himself well last night. He went out before I went to the pub and came back in just before I was going to bed. I left him eating his supper and it was not until 6am that he woke me up and asked to go out again. It would be nice if he did something similar tonight. He is still out now, and it would be good if he could spend a fair amount of time outside during the day. With no fireworks going off lately there is no reason why he can't be trained to go out at sundown. Come in shortly before my bedtime, and sleep through the night. If this happened then I could get to bed and sleep before midnight, and I wouldn't mind getting up at 6am to feed him and let him out. 6am is my natural time to get up, but Schiba has disrupted my sleep schedules so much over the last 6 weeks that I can no longer get up until 8am.

      It looks as if it is going to be dry today. So, all being well, I should be going out to explore the railway relics around Sydenham Hill ( In S.E. London, England, in case you were wondering). I doubt it will make for any really exciting pictures, but I'll probably show a couple here a bit later.

     I did mean to write something yesterday afternoon/evening, but never got round to it. One thing I could have said was that NTL appears to be working OK again.
19.25 GMT
Weather : Still dry, but rather cold.
     I had a marvelous day out today. I think all the recent accidental avoidance of excessive calories helped a lot. I found I had far more energy than I had thought. I met Howard at Sydenham Hill and we had a good explore of the original path of the Crystal Palace (High Level) railway line between Cox's Walk and where the line disappears into a tunnel heading for Crystal Palace Parade. In all we were walking for well over an hour, and some of it was up and down some very long and steep paths. The railway line actually closed on the 20th September 1954, but several relics still exist. Cox's walk still crosses over the path of the original line by means of a rather ornate lattice work footbridge.
Sign at he Entrance to Cox's WalkLattice work bridge crossing Cox's walk
    Sadly the original wooden lattice work has been replaced by steel, but it is still rather photogenic. I hope to go back and take more photos during the summer months when I think it will look far better.

     The area encompassed by the railway from Cox's walk to Crescent Wood Road, and also the grounds of some long demolished houses, are now collectively known as Dulwich Woods. For the last 10, or more, years they have been managed as a nature reserve. When I first knew of the place it was just heavily overgrown, wooded, wasteland. We were able to walk through the woods directly on the original alignment of the railway. There was little evidence of it apart from occasional patches where the original ballast was evident. At the far end is Crescent Wood Tunnel. This is still intact, but closed off now as it is a bat sanctuary. It passes under Crescent Wood Road, then Sydenham Hill before emerging on the far side of Wells Park Road. Here there was a station called Upper Sydenham. The station house is still in existence as a private house, and you can just about make out a change in brick colour where a canopy was once hung.
Upper Sydenham Station buildingTunnel mouth at Upper Sydenham
   The house is situated at a level just higher than the top of the parapet of the tunnel mouth. There is still part of the stairway which led down to the Crytal Palace bound platform, and also a footbridge to cross to the London bound platform.

     From the site of Upper Sydenham Station any remnants of the line disappear under new housing until the next tunnel mouth that took the railway on towards Crystal Palace Station itself. Still evident (and still in use more or less) is a ventilation shaft for the Penge Tunnel that run underneath the area. It is right in the middle of the estate and as such has been fortified to the point where its appearance is more reminiscent of a war time pillbox. In a nice touch, connecting the history of the site to the present day, is a road running through the middle of the housing estate called High Level Drive.

     Once we had finished the "archeological" expedition we jumped on a bus and paid a surprise visit to Ivor who I had accurately predicted would be found drinking in The Herne Tavern. I enjoyed a couple of pints there while salivating madly at the sight of steak and chips being eaten. After that it was two buses home and a chance to cook some vegetables in curry sauce for my breakfast.
Wednesday 26th November 2003
08.00 GMT
Weather : Foul ! Grey sky and copious rain.
     Since first opening my eyes I am sure the day has gone into reverse. It seems to be getting darker, not lighter. I haven't seen a weather forecast since Monday, but this is pretty much what was predicted - although several hours late. Apparently it is due to stop raining tomorrow, but if that is late as well then I guess I'll be staying in tomorrow as well as today (except tonight when I hope to go to the pub). There were very loose plans to go out tomorrow to photograph a few of the remaining railway relics of the Crystal Palace High Level line at Sydenham Hill.  As far as I know the only things to photograph are the two ends of the tunnel, the old station (now a private house) and a very old wooden footbridge. Maybe a close look will reveal something else. You may be surprised to learn that this expedition will not be with my normal partner in crime for railway outings, Kevin, but instead it will be Howard.

     Last night, or even since late afternoon, I was having great difficulty on line. I think NTL's servers were on the point of falling over. Trying to download mail was very intermittent and needed many tries before I was reasonably confident I had received it all. In the end I could not even access Google with the reply "unable to resolve host". It was as if someone had launched a denial of service attack on the DNS servers. Whether I'll be able to upload this today is something I'll find out very soon.

08.55 GMT - Update
I've just checked NTL's server status website and it has this to say :-

DNS - affecting all internet packages

Due to a major server outage, ntl:home internet customers on all packages may currently be experiencing problems with ALL internet access, including web browsing, email, ftp and newsgroups.

Our engineers are currently investigating and hope to resolve this issue as soon as possible.
So it appears my guess was right. It all appears to be running smoothly now, but I wonder what caused it ?  There was something logged for the previous day suggesting that some upgrades would be taking place. Surely NTL's experienced engineers did not make an error  (snigger) ?
Tuesday 25th November 2003
08.50 GMT
Weather : cool, but dry. 6°C
     I was woken up by the sound of Nelly charging up the stairs. I don't think there was any special reason for it apart from natural exuberance. Although it may have been that she was impatient for me to get up and feed her. When I came down I found Schiba waiting patiently on the windowsill. He did look rather cold, but he was dry. He too was anxious for his breakfast. So the cats are now fed and I am still starving.

     I think I'll be going out to buy more vegetables to continue my latest eating fad. At the same time I must pick up fresh supplies of cat litter. It is a real shame that the Kentucky Fried Chicken shop will not be open. I could murder a bargain bucket full of greasy chicken and chips.

    Other things I might to today include having another fight with a modem I was trying to install in an old PC last Saturday (?). I think it was last Saturday, but I do not seem to have mentioned it here. About 4 years ago I was given an old PC that had been set up as an mp3 player for piratical radio purposes. That use is long redundant so I thought I would do something with it. The PC itself is pretty ancient. The processor is a Cyrix 686 which is almost a Pentium 1, but not quite, and the CD ROM drive is a mere x2 unit. I thought Windows 95 would suit it best. So after reformatting the hard drive (an almost reasonable 850 MBytes) I installed Windows 95 and a few odd programs. The next thing I wanted to do was to install a modem in case I shoule ever want to go online with it. I had two old ISA card modems lying around and tried those. The first installed OK, but failed with no dial tone when I tried to use it. That could simply be because the socket for the phone line uses different connections to the lead I was using. ( That is something I have come across before with an old external modem made by Motorola). Rather than play around with the connections I tried the other modem. I do remember that this modem used to work well after I had repaired it, and it should work OK with the lead I was using. The trouble is that this modem is a total bastard to set up. Even the manufacturer, Motorola, know this as they provide a seperate program to clean all traces of a previous installation so you can try again. Needless to say the installation failed twice before I gave up. The problem appears to be that the installation program set the modem up physically as one com port and tell Windows it is on a different com port. Quite why this should happen is anyones guess, but there are several versions of the install program available, presumably in an attempt to improve upon this, but they all give the same result. I'll crack it in the end though. If I managed it once I can do it again !
Monday 24th November 2003
08.30 GMT
Weather : Sky looks a milky grey, but it is not raining.
     Sorry about this, but the saga of Schiba waking me up in the night continues. He almost wanted to go out just before 11 pm and got as far as looking out the open window. Unfortunately it was still raining and he ran back into the living room and pretended to sleep. So I took that as a good time to sneak off to bed. 30 minutes later he was meowing outside my bedroom and I got up again. We came downstairs and I opened the window for him but he refused to go out. So I locked him downstairs in the back room. There he had access to both food and water, and also to Nelly's litter tray. I went back to bed but within 15 minutes I could still hear him meowing. I tried to ignore it and after 5 minutes he stopped. I then heard a lot of scratching and fearing that the place would be ripped to shreds I decided to look in in him. When I opened the door I could not see him. I then noticed movement behind the curtain. He had managed to get up, and stay up somehow, on the tiny 1½ Inch windowsill. Once I opened the window he was out instantly and I was able to go back to bed confident of an uninterupted nights sleep.

     I was only asleep for minutes when I had my first dream and subsequently woke up again. It is possible that I was not truly asleep when this happened. It is all a bit strange, weird even. I think a cosmic ray must have zapped straight through my brain. This is what happened; In the dream I was doing something on the PC in the studio. Suddenly the lights went out, like in a power cut, and it was accompanied by a strange sound - something like zingggggg. It was all dark and it felt like my eyes were closed. So I tried opening my eyes and they did open and I found myself awake in bed. After pondering this for a few minutes I turned over and went back to sleep. The curious thing is I can't be sure that did happen. It feels like it happened, but it is just possible it was part of a larger dream. I have read of people who have had dreams within dreams, and I think I have too, but whether the dream I just described contained a dream with a dream is something I'll never know.

     This morning it is dry outside, but will it stay that way ? I'd quite like to pop out for some fresh air, but I am not sure where to go, or what to do if I do go out. If today were yesterday I could have been tempted to visit a computer fair. There is nothing I particularly want from a computer fair, but I could have stocked up on consumables such as printer ink and blank CD's and/or DVD's. The chances are that all I will manage today is a wander round the local shops. It is probably time I had a look in the Pound Shop in case they have any useless crap that takes my eye. And I will probably buy some blank CD's from Poundstretcher while I am passing.
20.00 GMT
Weather : still not raining.
    This morning I did a little shopping in both The Pound Shop and in Poundstretcher. In The Pound Shop I bought some rather nice Sandalwood joss sticks, and some really heavily scented one described as "Love Supreme". The latter have a really heavy musk fragrance that does not suit this room. With some candles, booze and a good woman they would be perfect. I am currently burning a sandalwood one as I write this. Also bought from The Pound Shop were a tub of 50 blank CDR's. Unfortunately they did not cost £1, but £12.99. At 26p per disk that makes them equal in value to cheapo disks at a computer fair. I still wanted some blank CDR's in jewel cases so I went into Poundstretcher who do Strand branded (who ?) CDR's in jewel cases for either 25 or 30 for £10. Strange as it may seem they do sell identical CDR's at different prices. There seems no obvious reason for it, and it has been going on for the last 6 months or more. So if you ever go into Poundstretcher looking for blank CDR's then always make sure you pick up the box of 30 and not 25.

      It is not something I like to think about, but it seems that for the last 36 hours I have been on a diet. This was purely an accident and it cannot go on for long. Today I have only consumed about 1000 calories. Yet I have eaten two quite big meals. The first was a rather nice cabbage and leek stew. Made with a few extra vegetables and flavoured with beef stock cubes. Tonight I had fine green beans and leeks in a red Thai curry sauce. Once again there were a few extra vegetables such as a pepper and an onion. Both were filling, but I could murder a cheeseburger, or a nice greasy kebab right now !!!!!!
Sunday 23rd November 2003
08.30 GMT
Weather :
Still raining !
    Another morning soggy with rain. Schiba went out at about 11 pm yesterday. Within an hour he was back, and he came in soaked to the skin. I thought I would have a trouble free night, but no, by 3 am Schiba demanded attention, and again at 4 am. Infact almost hourly until I finally decided I might as well get up. I was never sure if he was busting to go out or just wanted affection. Most time I came down and opened the window for him, but he did not want to go out. Only since offering him the foulest muck ever (Felix chicken flavour cat food) for his breakfast has he decided to go out into the rain to catch his own breakfast. I'm tempted to go back to bed before he returns.
19.37 GMT
     In the end I did go back to bed and didn't get up until 10.30. It was still raining and shortly after coming downstairs I had a saturated Schiba sitting on the windowsill and crying to come in again. He has spent all the time since then keeping warm and dry in the living room. Meanwhile I have been out to Tesco's. I got soaked through, but did get all the essentials. I bought a load of vegetables with the idea that I might reduce my calorie/fat/sugar intake for a day or two. Who knows? I might even keep it up for a week and lose a bit of weight. I mainly did it because I was drinking a lot of sugar laden real coke yesterday, and thought I ought to atone for it. Later this afternoon I had a broccolli, peas,and red pepper Korma. Yes, a pure vegetable curry made with no oil (even the ready made Korma sauce was water based). It was pretty nice, but not really a substitute for the real thing. I am now starving again and have been reduced to snacking on raw cabbage. I have already eaten half a baby cabbage but could really fancy some chips !!!!

      Since I last listed them I have only had another two takeaway menus shoved through my door. I don't think the people who deliver them like working in the pouring rain - understandably enough ! So the last menus were ;
Super Pizza       (0208 314 5599)
Hong Kong House   (0208 699 4888)
I have now thrown them away to avoid any temptation (safe in the knowledge that by next weekend there will be plenty more).

    I think that for the first time in almost 3 days it has stopped raining. I ought to try and persuade Schiba that now would be a good time to go out for an hour. I'm sure he will disagree with me !
Saturday 22nd November 2003
08.00 GMT
Weather : gloomy and raining.
     What a foul morning. It has been raining all night and the world looks very soggy. When he comes in, Schiba will probably be very soggy as well. He tried not to go out last night, but in the end, at almost 2 am, he could contain himself no longer and had to dive out into the wet night. One day I am going to train him not to be nocturnal.It would be some relief to me if he could do all his business, and all his playing during the day. That way he could pop out for short breaks and I would be around to let him back in and I could go to bed without the fear of him waking me up with his very loud howling to be let out.

    It was probably the rain yesterday, but I did not get a single piece of crap pushed through my letterbox. There must be a name for the paper based variety of spam. I do not neccesarily mean just credit card and Readers Digest offers, but I was thinking here of menus for various takeaways, and offer local "offers". I reported on Thursday that I had received 4 pizza menus and was expecting to report how many menus came through the door yesterday. I was surprised not to get any at all, although as I said earlier it was probably down to the rain. On the not unreasonable assumption that no one will deliver leaflets in the rain, no matter how desperate for money they are, then I guess I will be expecting a deluge of them on the next dry day we get.

    Schiba has just come in looking a bit bedraggled. I have towelled him to get him a liitle drier. He has had his breakfast and is now settling down to the first of his daily naps. In case you are wondering about Nelly I can report that she lead me downstairs to get her breakfast. She has eaten it. Done something stinky in her litter tray, and has now gone upstairs and will be on my bed digesting the food while having the first of her many daily "power naps".

     I don't know what I am going to do today. I feel it is too wet to go out, but it may clear later. Once I have washed and dressed a high priority is to empty Nelly's litter tray and to empty my kitchen rubbish bin. Both are unpleasantly over full.
Friday 21st November 2003
08.28 GMT
Weather : Rain
    Friday morning and it's raining. Could be worse. It could be Monday morning and raining. Being "between jobs" means that the days of the week have less significance, but The weekend still feels like the weekend, and a rainy Monday morning still fills me with gloom. I would have preferred today not to be as I did have some notion of going out today. There was a vanishingly small possibility that Kevin may have been available for some "trainspotting", or failing that I considered getting a travelcard and just having a wander with my camera. The last couple of days I have had some gut problems that would have made journeys without immediate access to a toilet undesirable. This morning I think my guts have stabilised and so a day (or part of a day) out might have been feasible. As it is raining I think I'll just stay in.

      Last night I had more weird dreams. I suppose all dreams are weird to some extent. I remember some details of one dream. The ending, in particular, remains sharp in my mind. I was in an old house that was rather spooky in a gothic sort of way. Gradually it morphed into something resembling the house used by "The Adams Family" or maybe "The Munsters". It had some sort of trouble with its foundations and cracks seemed to be splitting it in two. ( I think this was inspired by the old house that I saw Susy Radio using during the summer. That had one substantial crack running through it and many more in some of the outhouses.) I think I only saw one or two inhabitants of the house and I cannot recall what they looked like, but I think they were probably similar to those of the two TV shows I mentioned. I came out onto the street where I found some ranting, extreme " God botherer". He was warning me that they (the people in the house) were evil and had been sent by the devil. I replied, no, they may look weird, but they are not evil and had been sent by God to test the tolerance and compassion of people such as him. I was quite proud of that reply and it seemed to shut him up. I think that is where that dream ended as I cannot remember anything after it.

     In case you were wondering. The outcome of last nights pizza temptation was I gave in and ordered one. I had a medium sea food pizza which was a bit heavy on the anchovies, but still nice for a pizza. I also had a Greek salad and chicken wings. By the time I went to bed I had polished the whole lot off ! Tonight I'll probably report on how many more menus I have had pushed through my letterbox.
Thursday 20th November 2003
09.00 GMT
Weather : grey sky after overnight rain.
    Last night was fun and rhis morning I do seem to be suffering for it too much. Looking back at what I wrote just before midnight almost makes sense. I have gone back and changed not to nut, and qwuantity to quantity, but the rest of it I have left as it was written. After writing that entry I did a Google search for BS3704 and it came back with hundreds of references, but I couldn't actually see one that explained it. I did look at a condom humour page, but by then I was desperate for a pee and after wanted to slouch down and watch some TV. The original plan was to watch "The Bill" that I had recorded while at the pub. Instead I found an old edition of "Have I got News For You ?" just starting on UK  Gold and settled down to watch that.

     Today I have a few things in mind. There is that old chestnut of needing catfood, and so a trip to Tesco's is a must. Being Thursday it is New Scientist day, and that also calls for a wander to the shops (probably Tesco, but not neccesarily). So, once I am up and dressed it will be out to the shops followed by eating and reading New Scientist.

19.00 GMT
     I think someone wants to me to order a pizza. Just today I have had 4 leaflets pushed through my door.
Pizza Go Go   (0208 464 4949)
Domonic's     (0208 692 6111)
Mr Pizza      (0208 699 2299)
Pizza Express (0208 291 6000 / 0208 291 9000)
I am almost tempted to order one for supper. I admit I am not a great pizza lover, but sometimes it is nice to have one for a change. Maybe I will, or maybe I won't. I'll report my decision later.
Wednesday 19th November 21003
08.16 GMT
Weather : More grey sky, but mild. 12°C
     Last night Schiba volunteered to go out early. There had been no fireworks all evening so I guess he thought it safe to go out after his supper. In consequence I managed to get to bed by 10 pm. After a little reading I was looking forward to a good night of uninterupted sleep. That basically happened, but I had eaten a fairly large meal earlier in the evening on top of too much to eat during the day. I was feeling a little bloated when I went to bed and I think it showed itself in a wild variety of short assorted dreams. It felt like a continous set of very short, often unconnected, dreams that kept my brain awake all night. I can't even remember enough about them to describe them. There was one that seemed to be about nuclear weapons and also fireworks. I don't recall any explosions (though I was rather flatulent this morning !). It seemed to be about developing nuclear weapons in a race against the Russians. There was a new, and smaller, design every day utilising new discoveries in sub-atomic physics. I am sure that we were giving the old ones to the Russians who did not seem to be able to keep up. I think it was all exciting rather than scary, but I cannot be sure how much I am making up to fill in the gaps of a poorly remembered dream. The last bit of dream I can remember was about leaving work on a Friday night. It was late and the boss had called a meeting where he thanked us for something and thanked those who had said they would come in on Saturday for some special reason. I got a little bored with this and decided to go home as it was already past home time. At this point I seemed to be eating a bowl of Chilli and I was trying to finish it so I could pick up Nelly and take her with me. I don't know the significance of Nelly or the bowl of Chilli, but the rest of that dream seemed to be about the sad day when the Beckenham Workshop finally closed and we all had to try and work at the arse end of the universe (= Erith, Kent).

      I have no idea what I am going to do today. I think I'll be drinking tonight, but that still leaves the rest of the day to fill in. The wheelie bin has just been emptied so maybe I'll try and find some junk to throw in it.
23.57 GMT

Home from the pub....
Tonight was interesting. I wish it were possible to stay drunk at a sort of constant level. With more booze I would be heading for comatose, but without booze there is just a hangover to look forward to. As I write this I am at the perfect level of insobriety. I feel very happy and able to comment on the ideal of the AF system of spannners. From the point of view of one who has to do up, or undo bolts, the perfect measurement is one that only defines the distance between two flats of a nut. If I am wrestling with a bolt all I want to know is the size of the spanner to grip the opposite sides of tne hexagonal nut. I don't care what pitch the thread is ! Unless you are an engineer, or took part in tonights discussion, then most of the above is rubbish. And in a way it is, but a small amount of engineering experience, and a lot of booze brings it to life.

    One other thing I must do before I sober up, or a hangover overtakes me, is to do a Google search for BS3704.This is, of course, the British Standard governing the quality of condoms. In a sane and sober world this is mostly irrelevant, but for the pissed male it is the source of much merriment. For that reason alone I am off for a bit of googling.

     P.S. did I mention I have just drunk a considerable quantity of Youngs Winter Warmer ? That, together with good wholesome male company, is almost as good as female company ! Almost, but not quite !!!!!
Tuesday 18th November 2003
08.00 GMT
Weather :
Grey sky and cold.
     Yesterday's day out was good, but a lttle wet (or at a few points very wet !). Not everything went to plan, and the last bit was a disaster.

     I met up with Kevin at East Croydon station shortly after the first rain started. At East Croydon we bought tickets to Uckfield and caught an East Grinstead train. The usual station to change to the Uckfield tran is Oxted, but I decided we would change at Hurst Green just for the novelty of it. It turned out to be a good choice because waiting inthe station was a Sandite/water jetting multi purpose vehicle.It is not often you see these stationery and it was a good opportunity to take some pictures. We deduced that it was going to follow us to Uckfield. A deduction that proved correct. After a 10 minute wait we caught the Thumper towards Uckfield.

     We decided not to go all the way to Uckfield, but instead got off at the station before, Buxsted. On a previous visit I had noticed what appeared to be a bookshop, with some railway orientated books, inside the ticket office. I was partially right as they did indeed have some railway books on show, although they appeared to be only for reference rather than sale. There were other books there as part of a sort of library for people waiting there. Although the books may not have been on sale they were advertising a DVD of "The Uckfield Thumper" as being available there. We were not sure whether to buy one or not, but while debating the issue the next train came in and we jumped on it. The trains here are only once an hour and it would not have been too much fun waiting in the drizzle for an hour. Once on the train we decided that we had to see the DVD and so we got off at the next stop, Crowborough. It was on the double track section between Buxsted and Crowborough that we saw the Multi Purpose Vehicle (MPV) pass us heading towards Uckfield. Some simple logic showed that it would have to come back to Crowborough to allow the next service train, to Uckfield, to pass it. We were right and had another opportunity to take some pictures before our train back to Buxstead pulled in. So back to Buxsted we went and Kevin bought a copy of the DVD.

At this point I am going to have to get washed and dressed. I have to sign on in 1 hour so I'll finish the rest of the story later.

11.10 GMT
Weather :
Still grey and murky. Damp but no rain. Mild 14°C

Back from signing on and breakfasted - the saga continous

After buying the DVD we got the next train to Oxted where we took a break for some lunch in the Weatherspoons pub adjacent to the station. 1½ Pints and a sandwich later it back back on a train to East Croydon. From East Croydon the plan was to go to Streatham Hill Station to catch the 15.50 to London Bridge. This is a once a day only service (normally trains from Streatham Hill go to Victoria), and, currently, is always slam door stock. Unfortunately there are no direct trains to Streatham Hill from East Croydon so we went to Crystal Palace to change there. This is where it all went wrong. The first train we could get would arrive just 1 minute after our train had left. We decided to take a chance and hope we might be slightly early and the other train slightly late. But no, it was not to be. So we stayed on the train for the very slow journey to Clapham Junction.

     At Clapham Junction we did some almost conventional trainspotting except that we did not take down any numbers. We did manage to fulfil another objective which was to see a Class 458 "Desiro" train. These are the new outer suburban stock used by South West Trains. It was stabled in a siding so we could not take a close look, but at least we saw one.
(Another objective for yesterday was to see one of the new Class 170 "Turbostars" that are due to replace the "Thumpers" on the Uckfield line. We did catch a brief glimpse of one when we passed Selhurst Depot on the way from East Croydon to Crystal Palace.)

   Having had a look around Clapham Junction and seen a variety of trains go through we decided it was time to head towards home. Within 10 minutes we managed to get on a crowded Class 375 "Electrostar" and headed back to East Croydon. There we parted ways. I caught a tram to Elmers End, and Kevin waited for a 119 bus to take him back to the garage where his car was being serviced during the day. When I got to Elmers End I was bitterly disappointed to see that the next train had been cancelled and I had a very long wait for the next. After 10 minutes I phoned Kevin to see how he was progressing and to see if he would be able to pick me up at Elmers End before my train was due. At that time he was still waiting for a bus with the closing time of the garage looming fast. I've since had an e-mail from him saying he made the garage with just minutes to spare.

     Overall it was a satisfactory day out. It would have been a lot better if the rain had stayed away, and even better still if we had managed to get that train at Streatham Hill. Here are just two of the many pictures taken yesterday.
Multi Purpose vehicle at Hurst Green
This is the multi purpose vehicle in the platform at Hurst Green.
"Thumper" 207202 at Crowborough
Class 207 "Thumper" 207202 seen at Crowborough on an UP service.
Both pictures taken 17/11/2003 through fine drizzle.
Monday 17th November 2003
07.41 GMT
Weather : Sky looks grey, but too early for sun. Cold.
     After a mainly lazy day yesterday I am in for a semi hectic day, today. I'm off to do some trainspotting with Kevin. I have a sort of loose plan for the day. First I meet up with Kevin at East Croydon at 10 am. From there we will travel towards Uckfield and take what could be my last trip on a "Thumper" (Class 205 or 207 diesel electric multiple unit). These trains are very close to being replaced by modern units. In fact we are hoping to se one of the new units, although it will probably not be in passenger service. After Uckfield we may have to bide our time somewhere until 15.50 at Streatham Hill station where there is a single service to London Bridge. No one seems to know why this service runs (normally trains from Streatham Hill go to Victoria), but rumour has it that it uses slam door stock. Once at London Bridge Station we may hang around a bit and catch the 17.0? to Uckfield as far as East Croydon. Once again this is a once-a-day service and uses a Thumper. From East Croydon it will be a bus to the garage where Kevin's car will have been serviced during the day, and then home to Catford again.

     That is how the day is predicted to go. Perhaps tonight I will say how it actually went and include a few pictures taken today.
Sunday 16th November 2003
09.28 GMT
Weather :
Bright and sunny, but rather cool. 7°C
     I almost slept like a log last night. I say almost because I woke up on two occasions. The first, at 4.15, was with my left calf muscle in the agonies of cramp. The second, at 5.30, was with my right calf muscle knotted with cramp. I haven't had cramp like that for ages - which is just as well because it is agony ! The only way I know of to deal with it is to leap out of bed and walk a few paces until the muscle relaxes. On both occasions I was able to get back to sleep with ten minutes of waking up. I hope this isn't the start of a series of muscle cramps. In the past I have noticed that they can happen for a week or two at a time, and then nothing for months, or even years.

     Today I intend to relax a little after the hectic day yesterday. In practice, today will be like many other days. There is stuff I have to do so total relaxation is not going to be possible, or even desirable. One thing I must do is to set up the PC upstairs so I can record "Journey Into Space" from BBC7. I had to dismantle the PC to use the space for part of yesterdays video session. Another thing I might do is a little shopping. I don't know yet whether that will just be from the corner shop, or from Tesco's.

     I've just let Nelly out into the garden. She won't stay long as it is cold outside. As she went out she did something I've never seen her do before. She swore at the birds! I've seen many other cats who make a noise like a cross between a meow and a growl when watching birds, but I have never seen (or heard) Nelly do it before.

Saturday 15th November 2003
10.53 GMT
Weather :
Bright and breezy. 9¾°C
     Off to a bit of a late start, this morning. I decided that I ought to go back to the dummy, dummy transmitter last night and finish it. This I did. I was sawing off a length of (spare)plastic drainpipe in the garden at close on 11 pm last night. heaven knows what the neighbours thought of that. Actually it was a fairly quiet operation so they may not have even noticed. By midnight it was all finished and I decided to surf the net for a bit of relaxation. That went on longer than I anticipated and I did not get to bed until 2 am !

     I fell asleep very quickly and do not remember any dreams until I was waking up. As I came to I had a recollection of having an ulcer, or some sort of hole, under my right breast. It was not painful in any way, but was big enough to almost get the tip of my finger in. The idea seemed so real and horrible that the first thing I did as I realised I was concious was to check that it had been a dream. Of course it was just a dream, but I am left wondering what preceeded it, in the dream, and why I should even dream something so bizzare.

     Since waking up I have washed my hair and showered. Moved all the crap back out of the front room, and set up the dummy, dummy transmitter together with the other props ready for filming videoing. Patrick is due here at around 3 pm so I have plenty of time to do some other stuff which will include a trip around Tesco's.
19.55 GMT
     Patrick arrived at 3 pm  as he predicted and did quite a lot of videoing. He seemed pleased with the dummy transmitter prop that I made, plus the other props that I found. The first scene was for a cut away during a description of a raid on Radio Free London in 1967 (or 1968). Originally the transmitter was supposed to be sitting on a shelf, but when we listened to the interview again it transpired that the transmitter was actually sitting on a large speaker cabinet. So we had to rearrange everything and do it again. After that there were several other scenes to shoot. One was a hand banging at a door representing the arrival of the Post Office. Then the transmitter being carried away, and finally, a hand dismantling the crystal and finding a note hidden in it. We also videoed some things to use as cutaways elsewhere in the film. These were such things as vinyl records playing, the mixer being operated and radios being tuned. A lot of it was experimental stuff and it was fun trying out different techniques. It was also pretty tiring work and I am feeling knackered at the moment, but at the same time I feel a little restless.

    A lot of the above may be hard to imagine, but if you should ever see the finished production then a lot of it may make sense. I had the priviledge of seeing the first draft of the opening scenes and one of the interviews. It is looking very good so far. If the whole thing comes together like these previews then it should be an excellent production. One slightly odd thing is that I declined to be interviewed, but my hands keep appearing in all sorts of guises. I think they ought to get in the credits as "Starring The Hands Of Bill Kelsey" ! Or maybe not :-)

Friday 14th November 2003
07.37 GMT
Weather :
It's early yet, but the skies look very grey.10° C
     I had plenty to drink in the pub last night. Maybe 4 pints of Winter Warmer and a bottle of John Youngs Christmas Ale to finish off with. The Christmas Ale (5%) tasted a bit plain after the Winter Warmer, but was otherwise acceptable.
     After the pub I decided to watch "The Bill" that I had recorded earlier. Before turning that on I decided that I was peckish so I put some lamb burger type things in the oven. I ate those, stuffed into some soft buns, while I watched The Bill. I think they were a bad mistake because all night I was burping the greasy flavour of the lamb. Potentially I could have thrown the whole lot up, but fortunately I never got any of the warning signs for that. They did give me a rough night though, and I had plenty of mostly forgotten bad dreams.
     I do remember parts from two dreams. The first is very clear about what was going on, even if the views are now a little blurred. The second, I can only remember the concept and not faces or names.
      Dream 1 : I was in a bedsit (or hotel room) with Kevin somewhere "up north". A third person was coming to see us, and this third person had done us both some great wrong. I don't think I had previously met this person, but I still wanted to kick the shit out of him. Kevin suggested that I should go out, get some fags and booze, while he tried to sort something out with this unknown character. So I went out at about 8 or 9 pm and couldn't find a single place open selling anything. Even the petrol stations closed at 6 pm (apparently). In desperation I asked someone where I could buy fags from and he suggested getting the coach to Brighton (maybe we were not "up north"). The coach would only take an hour to get to Brighton and this was standard proceedure with the locals.
    Dream 2 : This is really only a very hazy memory, but concerned the aftermath of the breakdown of Radio Free London. We had apparently clubbed together to buy a "safe house" in Wales which we would use if we were raided. With the breakdown of communication between all parties there was much discussion about who owned what and who might rip off who. That is really all I can say about it. I cannot remember names, places, or even how many people were involved.
    I know I had other dreams, and I am sure they were equally black and depressing, but all memory of them has evaporated apart from leaving a residue of the unsavoury taste of depression.

     Today I have to get ready for some filming tomorrow - assuming it goes ahead this weekend. I have still to mount some dummy controls onto the dummy, dummy transmitter that I have mentioned in the past. So it looks as if I am going to have to steel myself to getting into my workshop today. Another thing I must do is to check that these web pages that have been written using Mozilla Composer actually look OK when viewed with Internet Explorer. I noticed that the version of Mozilla navigator I am using (1.6 Build ID 2003102905 to be exact) is making a total mess of displaying my calendar for navigation round these journal pages. I think they look OK using Konqueror. And Star Office cannot seem to find the black background on these diary pages. It shows white writing on a white background ! As far as I am aware I have set a global background of black on these pages so that anyone using a browser that cannot display background graphics should just see the "colour" black as a background. It is all so complicated and frustrating that different browsers should give different results on what ought to be very basic pages. No wonder there is so much fuss caused for professional web designers who try to use some advanced techniques and yet still try and achieve some sort of consistency across the range of available browsers. I'm glad I do not have to do it !
Thursday 13th November 2003
08.30 GMT
Weather : Bright and sunny. Clear sky. 8° C
     It's so nice to be reconnected to the internet ! I'll probably be spending a long time "surfing the net" today. After I wrote last nights entry I had a real engineer from NTL phone up to tell me the line was working again. He confirmed that it was a software fault which was pretty much what I had thought all along (apart from a brief flirtation with the idea that kids had blown up the "green box" with fireworks). He also confirmed my theory that within the "green box" (or Cabinet in old BT parlance) was a 30 channel PCM system. That allows 30 subscribers to talk down one 2 Megabit digital link to the exchange.

     Schiba has totally recovered from his illness but is still reluctant to go out at night. This is still causing me a lot of sleep disruption. When I go to bed he comes upstairs and sits on the spare bed. Only when I have settled down and turned out the light does he start to meow outside my bedroom. I then get up and he leads me back to the spare bed where he gets all affectionate and we might play a game or two with a toy mouse or a feather. Once he has settled down again I go back to bed and almost fall asleep before he is meowing again. This time he does finally want, or probably need, to go out. So I let him out and finally I can get to sleep properly. Tonight I should be going for a drink at the pub (last night was postponed). I hope Schiba can be persuaded to go out once I get home so I can relax and get a good nights sleep in.
Wednesday 12th November 2003
08.00 GMT
Weather : dull and drizzling. 11.5° C
     I thought it had been a mild night. I felt quite hot in bed. An overnight temperature of 11.5° C during mid November must be somewhat unusual. I had a dream about a strange TV game show. I am not sure if I was one of the participants, or whether I just watched it. It certainly was odd though. Apart from the host there were 5 people taking part. 4 of them were on a panel wnd theie part was to humiliate the fifth who was asked to do all sorts of things. Standing on one leg with eyes closed was one of the things I think. The tasks were set by the panel leader who was backed up by the other three members. Those three would suggest fairly easy things to do, while the leader would often suggest really hard, or difficult things. It turned out that the three supporting members of the panel were not really guests at all, but were just there to egg on the leader. The fifth person was also a plant as well. It seems the whole idea was to reveal the panel leader as a sadistic bastard who, at the conclusion, would be the one who was actually humiliated. I cannot really remeber too much about the whole thing apart from the beginning and the end, but I do remember that the panel leader came across as the absolute Hollywood stereotype of a German SS officer dressed in civvies.

     Another day and no NTL line !I never finished yesterdays story about "the man from NTL". He came back after 20 minutes and apologised that it was not a line fault, but was instead an exchange fault. (Well, well, what a surprise !). In the world of cable TV telephone technology the first part of the exchange is in a green box on the side of the street. And this, apparently, is where the fault lies. It was little comfort to know that it is affecting many other people as well. A team is coming out to fix it tomorrow, or so I am told. Quite what this team comprises of is anybodies guess. I would speculate it is one who can drive. One who knows how to read the London A-Z. One who carries the tools. One who can read. One who can write. One who can add up and take away. And finally one who was given a weeks course on how to change a light bulb. Oh, and mustn't forget the one who can use a mobile phone to call up the one man in the country who once read the sales brochure and has a vague idea of how the system works. I have a theory, that might never be confirmed, that the local kids stuffed the box full of fireworks and exploded it !
19.30 GMT
Hooray !!!!My NTL phone line is back working again. And what was the very first call I get ? Bloody Powergen offering to save me money on my electricity bill. Now, if they had been offering a phone service using a brand new pair of wires I might have been interested !
Tuesday 11th November 2003
08.41 GMT
Weather : Overcast but mild. 10° C
      For mid November the weather is still remarkably mild. I have been a little lax recording the daily temperatures, but since the previous time I recorded it (on the 6th) the lowest recorded has been 5°, and the highest, 15° C.

     Today is the day that my NTL phone line should start working again ( and you can tell that to the marines). In honour of the fact that I am getting a home visit to fix a fault that I am sure is back in the exchange (!), I have cleaned and polished the phones. Both of them (NTL & BT) were looking rather grubby so they have had the foam cleaner treatment. It is fortunate that I do have the BT line to fall back on. To use it costs money so I have only been downloading my e-mail once a day. Fortunately there has been nothing important that has needed replying to. Until I can dial up on the NTL line I cannot upload this journal. Access to ftp.ntlworld is only allowed when you have logged in to the NTL account. I could dial up NTLworld on the BT line were it not for the fact that my low user account does not allow connection to certain 0800 numbers - and internet service providers include those certain numbers.

     My transferring of old video footage to DVD rom, via the PC, was going well yesterday. I have filled another disk. I have now started to transfer some footage from the analogue camera to the digital camera. There is going to be enough material on there to fill a couple more disks. In case you were wondering, I find that the digital camera has the best analogue to digital converter that I have. I do have an analogue TV input on the PC itself, but the quality is worse than taking the long route via the digital camcorder.

10.00 GMT
    The man from NTL has called round and left a box connected to the phone socket. (Some sort of pair identifier probably - a "ticker" in the parlance of my day)
Monday 10th November 2003
09.27 GMT
Weather : Bright with sunny spells.
     Another day with no phone service from NTL. Those bastards scallywags could not organise a piss up in a brewery ! Apparently they have fixed the "area wide fault", but seem to have forgotten about my line. So an "engineer" is coming out tomorrow to check things out. That seem ridiculous because, speaking as an ex-telephone engineer, the fault is back at the telephone exchange. Or, at least in my day when the phone had 50 volts on it you tended to discount a line fault, and instead looked for a fault within the exchange.

      Yesterday I started to do something that I had, allegedly, promised to do back in the spring. I am copying all my video footage of slam door trains from the camcorder to DVD Rom's to send to the chairman of the EPB preservation group ( www.epbpg.co.uk ). He mainly wants footage of EPB's and CEP's and so far I have filled 3 DVD Roms with, perhaps, enough for one more. I am saving them as DV compressed avi files straight from the digital camcorder rather than the more usual mpeg 2 files assosciated with DVD video disks. As avi files they are rather big, but they should import directly into most video editing applications easily and there will be no quality loss during any encoding.

Sunday 9th November 2003
10.32 GMT
Weather : A grey and damp start to the day.
     I have had a bit of a lie in, this morning.  I went to bed reasonably early and didn't get woken up by Schiba until 05.00. I thought he wanted to go out, but it seemed he was just hungry. He actually went out at around 07.00.

     There is still no dial tone on my NTL line so this entry, like yesterday's, will finally get uploaded sometime in the future. But what century ? I think I had better phone NTL again sometime this morning.

Saturday 8th November 2003
08.11 GMT
Weather :
A grey, overcast morning but still mild.
     I had a lot of slightly weird dreams last night. First (that I remember) was that I was in a huge old house that was in Holland, and was in the process of being turned into a museum. Inside were a maze of rooms that seemed to be empty apart from  something displayed on the walls. Many displays were of old musical instruments - some had been dissected like a piano that was almost reduced to its component parts. Other rooms had wiring looms displayed. Most of these were very old wiring, and even included paper insulated wiring. Some wiring looms looked very similar to the inter-bank wiring between selectors in a telephone exchange, and other were more like that between the sockets of large arrays of plug in electronic circuit boards. I believe they were supposed to be from the backs of early electronic synthesisers. Only the rooms at the four corners of the building had been cleaned and redecorated. They were in use as tea/refreshment rooms.The other thing of note was that all the ceilings were about 20 feet high. I cannot remember being there for any purpose. It was just like I was exploring the place.

     The next dream (or dreams) are hazy, but seemed to be about trains. I do remember looking at an antique that was like an adult toy. It was supposed to represent the signalling and train movements on a small branch line. They were both represented by complex "things" that could slide around in grooves on an elaborate block of wood. The whole thing came in an expensive looking, and well made mahogany case about the size of a small attache case. I left that sitting on a brick fence post and started to walk along Sydenham Hill ( a road in S.E. London). It was dark and misty and I was trying to see fireworks over the tops of the trees and between houses (Sydenham Hill is very high up). At the end of it I found a large Victorian house. I went inside (or I could see inside) and it was run by Victorians - complete with servants, maids etc. At this point it was a bit odd because I played no part in the last bit. I was just a passive watcher. A mother and daughter came out and walked to a nearby patch of grass (maybe the garden, but it seemed more like a park).The daughter was trying to persuade the mother that she should do something because she could "programme" musical boxes. She then demonstrated what she had done to a music box that was made of wood, but seemed to have three plastic buttons sticking out from the top. The music that came out was some unidentified classical piece in full CD quality ! The next thing I heard was Nelly scratching at my bedroom door post and telling me it was time for breakfast !

     It's going to be a busy day today. Patrick is coming here to do some filming. Somehow I have got to clear enough stuff out of the studio to enable a late 60's mock up to be filmed.(And I have still got to wire up the lights and valves on the mock up of a dummy transmitter.

     Well, I hope I'll be able to upload this, this morning. Last night my NTL phone line failed with no dial tone. I think it was the NTL exchange falling over, and not just my line. I'll be finding out in a few minutes.
12.00 GMT
     I've got two lots of bad news. Firstly my NTL phone line is still down. Apparently there is an "area wide fault" and it will be fixed by midday. That is now and it is still not working ! Secondly the filming is off for today, but we'll try again next Saturday. Both are a bit of a blow. The first because I'm cut off from the internet. The second because I have had to dismantle my PC upstairs and shuffle a lot of junk around to make room and set up the scene. I've now got to shuffle it all around again until next Saturday.

    Here is a picture of some of the 60's trinkets that I started to set up for part of the shoot.
Sixties paraphenalia
   Includes : Lava lamp (still warming up), joss sticks, bottle of patchouli oil, assorted coins all dated before 1970, Old tube map and bus, train and tube tickets, An old copy of the Daily Telegraph and a copy of "Born Free".
    With some inspiration from Patrick I hope to be able to arrange it in a sort of haphazard way to give the feel that the video was taken in 1968/9.
18.30 GMT
   I feel totally isolated at the moment. My NTL phone line has still not come on line yet, and that means NO internet. NTL did promise that the fault would be fixed by midday, but on what day ? What week ? What month ???

I have just finished watching a very good film on the TV. It was called " The Englishman who went up a hill, and came down a mountain".  The plot and performance could have been straight out of an Ealing Comedy. It told a simple tale of Welsh villagers who did not want the Ordnance Survey to classify their local mountain as a hill because it was less than 1000 ft high. So they built up the mountain an extra 20 ft to make it stay classified as a mountain.I find it nice to watch a film that does not need explosions, special effects, loud noises and guns to make it entertaining. It was made in 1995, in colour, and in stereo. I watched it on a mono TV and still enjoyed it, and I could have watched it in black and white and it would still be enjoyable.

     I am seriously considering the idea of knocking up a few units on my BT phone line to access the internet. Maybe I'll just download any mail and leave it at that.
Friday 7th November 2003
08.45 GMT
Weather :
Another bright and mild morning.
     I almost had enough sleep last night. I went to bed at around 10 pm and did a little reading before dropping off to sleep. At around 1 am Schiba woke me up and I got up to let him out. I think all the fireworks had finished by then so he should have had a safe nights hunting. I haven't seen him yet this morning. He may have given up waiting for me as I have got up a bit late this morning, but I'm sure he'll turn up sooner or later.

     Last night I downloaded the spell checker plug-in for Mozilla. It was supposed to be an online installation. I had a message come up asking if I wanted to download and install it, to which I said yes. A fair bit of data was then received and I presumed than when I restarted Mozilla composer it would have a spell checker, but no, nothing has happened at all. I think I am going to have to download the latest version of Mozilla (which now includes the spell checker in the main bundle), and then delete the old version and install the new. This could be fun...............
Thursday 6th November 2003
07.45 GMT
Weather :
Sky looks a little misty after a clear night. 9º C
     Schiba is still doing well. He went out at 03.00 this morning after all the fireworks had stopped, and was waiting to come back in when I came down this morning. I tried to get him to take his pill before feeding him. I gave up when he lacerated my leg ! So, once again, I have crumbled his pill into his food and hope that he eats most of it.

     Last night the fireworks were coming thick and fast. I am sure that they are getting louder as well. Some had a really meaty deep boom that rattles the windows. I went for a drink last night and one of these really big aerial explosions went off somewhere as I was walking past the local school. I'd swear that I could hear all the windows rattle on it. At the pub I met up with Kevin and Howard and we all agreed that fireworks seemed to be getting noisier - so it is not just my opinion. Mind you we are all turning into grumpy old men, but Howard is 10 (?) years behind Kevin and myself.

     I finally plucked up the courage to upgrade to Mandrake 9.2, yesterday. It does seem to have better support for multiple flash memory cards. I almost managed to get two recognised, and I suspect if it were not for the fact that I had previously corrupted the fstab (or is it mtab ?) configuration, it might have worked. It could be tempting to re-install the software, rather than upgrade it, and see how that goes. I should be able to do it without losing all my work because that is on its own partition that I can leave intact. Arghh, decisions, decisions !!
21.05 GMT
     I did do a totally new installation of Mandrake 9.2 this afternoon. I left the /home partition, that has all my personal stuff on it, so most f my settings, e-mail. bookmarks and downloads were all preserved. On the first attempt the installation locked up so I unplugged all my USB peripherals, as suggested by Linux Format magazine, and the second attempt went OK. Once booted it did make a better attempt at identifying my multi-flash reader with all 4 cards plugged into it. It did not work as smoothly as Windows would identify them, but it seems that Linux is slowly getting there. I have identified a few things that are not working now. In particular I cannot seem to install the flash player plug-in for Mozilla. Also I don't think I can open mp3 streams in Mozilla either - even though the plug-in seems to be active. I had some problems in this area before, but did sort some of them out in the end. Another thing I have yet to get to work in this installation, and the last, is a spell checker. I am sure I have installed one called Aspell, but I have no idea how to invoke it. I think I'll have a look at the Mozilla site and see what it has to offer.
Wednesday 5th November 2003
08.05 GMT
Weather :
clear skies and mild.
10.05 GMT
Weather :
50% sunshine, very mild. 11º C
     Just back from the demtist ! It was not too bad. I had a nice lady dentist who replaced the broken filling and de-scaled my teeth. It was all over in 15 minutes with nothing left outstanding. I will be called for a check-up in 6 months apparently. When I said it was not too bad I didn't meant it was not uncomfortable, or even slightly painful for a brief moment, but for a visit to a dentist it was fairly uneventful !

     I am now feeling totally knackered, and hot too. I walked back from the dentist and popped into WH Smiths for a couple of magazines, and then into Tesco's for some fags. I was going to do more shopping in Tesco's, but in my thick leather jacket, and after the long walk I was just feeling too hot to stay in there. I am sure I should not feel so hot in only 11º, but I did. Although it has to be remembered that my thermometer is permanently shaded and against a cold brick wall. While I was walking I had the sun shining down on the back of the black jacket, and I think that is why I started to cook inside. Right now I feel like catching up on all the lost sleep I had last night, but once I have cooled off I ought to go back to Tesco's and finish my shopping........ I ought to, but I don't feel like it now.

     One of the magazines I bought was Linux Format. The cover disk has Mandrake 9.2 on it. I am wondering if I ought to upgrade or leave well alone while most of this PC is working OK. I wonder what benefits going from Mandrake 9.1 to 9.2 would give ? I do have one or two little niggles about a few things that it is currently doing. In particular it would help if there was better support for multi flash memory readers. I hope there is a readme somewhere that will list the improvements.
Tuesday 4th November 2003
10.25 GMT
Weather :
Bright and sunny.Mild 10º C
     Schiba seems no better this morning. I tried to tempt him with some real tuna fish, but he only ate two tiny bits of it. There appears to be a swelling on his left hand lip. He has a vet visit at 4.30 today.

    This morning I went to my special 12 month anniversary signing on. The chap who did the interview was the same one who did the 6 month interview. He is a reasonable person and did  not give me any hassle. It appears that I had managed to find more jobs, with the one I applied for recently, than he could find on his computer. So it has been left that I will just carry on looking around with no extra pressure (bar my dwindling finances).
17.30 GMT
     Schiba has been to the vet and it is good news with a few downsides. He is physically intact, but has a fever. The real reasons for that are unknown, but he is now on antibiotics.

     As soon as I put him in the basket he woke up and managed to find hidden reserves of strength. For half the journey to the vet he kicked up quite a fuss, but settled down a bit by the time we got there. Once in the surgery he put up a bit of a struggle at first, but once he realised he was going nowhere he gave up. He was even calm(ish) when he had a thermometer poked up his bottom. At some point he did let out a tiny bit of pee. Perhaps just a teaspoonful.

     Once back home he suddenly found he had more energy than he thought, and more importantly, he had some appetite. He had a good plate of food and then I took him back to the living room where he curled up beside me and started to purr. He now would like to go out but I am not going to let him. He will have to use Nelly's litter tray. It has fresh litter in it so hopefully he will use that sooner or later rather than leaving me a little present somewhere.

      Somehow I have to get two antibiotic tablets down his throat every day for the next 5 days. That should be fun ! They are supposed to be palletable and could be mixed in with his food, but I am not so sure that will work. I am going to be getting through a lot of tuna this week !

     This visit and the tablets have cost £34 so far, and I hope that will be all that is needed. Although once he is better they want to do some dentistry on him to clean up a lot of plaque around some teeth. I don't know how much that is going to cost as it will doublessly involve a stay at the surgery and an anaesthetic.

     It is going to be murder keeping him in for a few days. I've got to do it though, as that is the only way I can be sure that he is available for his tablets. Knowing him he would really want to curl up under a bush somewhere and sleep until he is better.
Monday 3rd November 2003
08.18 GMT
Weather : clear skies. Damp after overnight rain.
     I woke up slowly this morning and all memories of my dreams evaporated before I realised it.

     I did go for a drink yesterday lunchtime and had three glorious pints of Winter Warmer. Surprisingly I was not too drunk and managed to do a few things when I got back. However not all of them worked. I tried installing some more software on this Linux PC. Star Office installed perfectly, but Corel Photopaint and Corel Wordperfect both failed. Photopaint appeared to install OK, but whenever I try and start it I get up a software agreement to click on, and having done that it informs me that it cannot start (or find) the fonttastic server. Quite why an image editor is so reliant on a font package escapes me for the moment, but somehow I will have to see if I can sort it out - if I can !

     Schiba finally came in at midnight last night. He had been out for over 24 hours. I think it was a combination of the rain and the fireworks that kept him hiding wherever he hides. He was certainly hungry  when he came in, and after eating he just wanted to sleep. He is still tired even now. He had some breakfast 15 minutes ago and has gone back to bed.

     I'm not sure what I am going to do today. I am supposed to go to the other end of Lewisham for some job seeking stuff, but I don't know if I can be bothered. Jodi has said she might come over to use the studio this afternoon. Other than that I should be transferring some camcorder footage onto DVD (ROM) to give to someone. It is possible it is the latter that is more important and I ought to get with that.
19.00 GMT
     Poor old Schiba. He appears to be under the weather. After over 24 hours outside on Sunday he came in very hungry at arfound midnight. He demolished a plate of food and went to bed. This morning he had a lay in until about 10 O'clock and then went out with no breakfast. He came in an hour, or so, ago and went straight to bed (chair in the front room) without eating. All he wants to do is sleep so I have left him alone to do so. I hope he comes out to eat a bit later on this evening and then goes back for a full nights sleep. Hopefully he will be feeling better in the morning. If not then I may have to arrange for him to see the vet.

     Nearly a whole day has gone by and I am not sure what I have achieved. I have managed to get the sound and vision syncronised for part one of the episode of The Bill I recorded last Thursday on the PC using the DVB-T PC card. This particular episode is the 20th anniversary one that was broadcast live. I have no special idea of keeping it, but I needed a programme to use as test material.  Life would be so much easier if that TV card had some options for saving the video in different formats. Ideally, for editing, it would be in DV avi compression.Instead it is , allegedly, the original mpeg 2 stream as broadcast. Well that would be OK provided it only started recording from the first I frame, instead of randomly in the mpeg sequence. I think that a recording that started from an I frame would not suffer from this bloody sound/picture synchronisation problem. I am sure I have explained all this before, but it helps get some of the frustration off my chest. One day there will be something special I want to record and I'll be put off by knowing that I'll have to spend hours faffing around trying to edit it down.
Sunday 2nd November 2003
07.00 GMT
Weather :
Cold and damp after overnight rain.
     I thought I had better get up early to let Schiba in. He left it as late as possible to go out last night because he hates fireworks. He is getting better though. Last year he kept hiding under the settee or a bed whenever there were any loud bangs in the neighbourhood. This morning there is no sign of him. I expect he is curled up tightly in some dry spot and will come in later almost dry despite any rain. As a point of interest, Nelly is far more relaxed about fireworks (or thunder). A day or two ago she was quite interested in going out even though there were fireworks going off locally. It wasn't until one went off almost overhead that she made a dignified retreat. Not that she really wanted to stay out anyway. On a cold damp evening all she really wanted to do was to see what new smells there were within a few feet of the back door. The overhead loud bang just brought her in a few seconds earlier. Once inside she was totally indifferent to what was going on outside.

  Last night I made a site map page for this web site and also corrected a few errors in other pages. I have uploaded the site map here. Today, if I get the chance, I will be rewriting the index page and actually putting a proper link to the site map.
12.00 GMT
After watching Dr. Who (on UK Gold) I went back to bed and have only recently washed, dressed and come back downstairs. The outing on c2c is off because the weather is appalling. There seem to be frequent rain showers, although as I type this the rain has stopped and Nelly is out exploring all the new smells. No sign of Schiba yet. There is a possibility that I could be going for a lunchtime beer. I am waiting on a phone call for that.
Saturday 1st November 2003
09.25 GMT
Weather :
Bright morning with sunny intervals. 7º C
     ......And so begins another month, and xmas is getting very near now. Not that xmas is very exciting. In fact it can be deadly dull.

     But enough of that. I was very, very late to bed last night. I was up until gone 2 am surfing the net. Now this was a bit of a mistake because I do have things to do today and could have done with a little more time this morning. My sleep was made a little worse by dear old Schiba. He had gone out at around 10 pm and come back in by 1 am. I was expecting him to settle down for the night, but no, an hour after I had fallen asleep he was howling outside my bedroom demanding to go out again. So I got up and let him out. I went back to bed and fast asleep within minutes. I then had a very disturbing dream. It was similar to one I reported here some weeks back. For reasons that I cannot recall I was out with Nelly and she ran off into some woods. When I came to search for her I could not find a way into the woods and I seemed to spend ages going round the surrounding roads try to find an access point. It appeared that these woods were almost totally surrounded by buildings. I probably woke up at some unearthly hour in the morning out of pure frustration from not finding a way in, and not finding Nelly.

     Very soon I will have to get washed and dressed. I have stuff to do before going out for my 1st Saturday of the month  drink with my old Mastercare colleagues.
20.00 GMT
     It sounds like Beirut (spelling ??) outside tonight. For the past month (or even two) there have been sporadic fireworks going off. Sometimes at very odd hours - 2 am or even 7am ! It is beginning to reach a climax now with quite a heavy "bombardment" tonight, and I expect it will be even more severe as we actually reach the 5th.

     I had a good drink this afternoon. It was good to meet up with some of my old mates. Hi to Terry who came to the pub for the first time, and Hi to Jason who actually stuck with the old job until very recently, but has now got out and found a new job. I think every engineer who left did not regret leaving and has found that their new jobs have been most satisfying and often more lucrative.

     It occurs to me that I am still under the influence of the booze. I am having to a lot of manual correction to this. There is no built in spell checker so I am keeping my fingers crossed that most of it is coming out right. Reading back on some of my earlier stuff I have found some glaring mistakes I have made even though much of it was written with an active spellchecker. Some of it is just plain stupid though. Why, a few weeks back, did I spell "Aldi" (as in supermarket), Asda ? I mention all this crap as I am probably about to make a new web page. If I am brave enough to do it while drunk, it will be a site map containing links to the main pages and all the little pages that have only been linked by small references in this journal. Once that is done I will do a new Index page. I think that I will not be using any buttons from now on. They are OK as a novelty number, but are not really needed.

Copyright - Bill 2003