Bill's online diary charting the events in my life in April 2004
Index APRIL 2004
In spring a young man's fancy turns to love. So what do I turn to ?


Friday 30th April 2004

07.15 BST
Weather - cold, wet and miserable
         It's the last day in April so those pesky showers ought to be over, but they're not. It looks horrible outside at the moment. Were it not that I have to do a couple of things before this afternoon I would be tempted to get back into bed and sleep until the sun comes out.

            Yesterday was succesful. I made it to the pub with Ivor and had a skinful. I did not get home until almost 6 pm, and , as usual, felt first drunk, and then hungover until around 9 pm. By way of a change I walked the last few hundred yards home after detouring via the chip shop.It must be a couple of months since I last had a fish and chip supper, and as usual it was delicious. Once "The Bill" had finished on TV I started to come alive and had a quick play with an old Apple Express modem that Iain and Ivor had given me. It was designed to plug straight into a lap-top using the old style Apple serial ports. Modern Mac's do not have those "legacy" connections, but my old junk has. I was going to try it on my old Powerbook 180c laptop, but that has such a minimal installation (to save on disk space) that it does not have any modem drivers loaded in it. So later on today I'll have a play with getting that working. Meanwhile I did check the spec on the modem. It is a derisory 14.4K modem so surfing the net would be a very slow experience. On the other hand I do not need to surf the net on that old laptop. It will be sufficient just to know I could if I really wanted to.
Thursday 29th April 2004

08.00 BST
Weather - cold and grey. No rain but damp
          One day I'll finally learn that I should get up when I first wake up. I woke up at 06.30 and felt fine, but I thought I'd stay in my warm bed and have an extra 10 minutes sleep. After an extra hours sleep I feel horrible. My neck is stiff and my head feels sore. Various other bits are either stiff or sore ( and not in any rude sense !!!). I must have been thrashing around and/or sleeping in a very strange position. I expect I'll feel better after a hot shower. That usually does the trick.

           Even in my dreams I have become very protective towards Nelly, or maybe it it that I am scared she will leave me too. In one rememebered fragment of dream I was in a shop doing some work in it it (I think), and Nelly was sitting on the floor watching the world go by. A rather good looking, attractive, woman came in the shop and flicked the still glowing dog end of her fag at Nelly. I went berserk and called her all the names under the sun before chasing her out of the shop and threatening to break her legs. I can remember I had another dream, but this was about railways. Or at least the bit I can remember was. The bit I remember started with me coming out of a pub that was somewhere in Downham.  It was late, there was no convenient bus service, and I was hoping to get a lift home. I then spied a railway station nearby. I hadn't even known it existed so I asked my friend Roger if he knew anything about it, and whether I could get a train home from it. He thought I wouldn't be able to get a direct train, but I went to investigate it for myself. It was like stepping into a time warp. All the trains were old slam door units and they still went to Holborn Viaduct station. The station itself was small with only two platforms, and these were linked by a subway. The subway was kept very clean like the rest of the station, but it was faded and worn. The walls were painted in plain cream coloured paint. The stairs had dark green linoleum on them, and the floor was covered with dark brown linoleum. There was no graphiti and no bad smells.Overall the station gave off a warm welcoming glow that may have come from gas lighting, or perhaps just tungsten filament bulbs. I don't actually remember getting on a train, but I do remember getting off one at some unfamilar terminus. The last impression I got of this terminus was that it shared its service with tube trains. Once again these were of an old style (red painted 38 stock). I think I woke up at that point.

         Today the weather seems lousy, but I hope that I'll be going for a lunchtime drink with Ivor. Tuesday didn't work out, but I hope today will. After last Friday I was hoping we could drink in the beer garden, but that is definitely not going to happen today. Or at least not without a miracle. I should have mentioned that Tuesday didn't happen in a lter entry on that day, or even yesteday, but somehow I didn't. So today could be the first bit of boozing since last Friday. I do feel I need a drink after all that time. If it doesn't happen today I must make an attempt to say so in a lter entry today. If it does happen I'll probably be too drunk, or more likely hungover to write anything else today.
Wednesday 28th April 2004

06.30 BST
Weather - cold and damp
         During the night there was more rain, and some distant thunder. It looks a most miserable morning. I don't think I would be inclined to think about pub beer gardens today ! I must check a weather forecast today because I think I heard that it would be brighter again by the weekend. I hope so as yesterday and this morning bucks the trend for dry and brighter weather that we have had lately. I noticed that after the main downpour yesterday afternoon the roads, that had been awash with water, dried out pretty quickly, but after last nights rain everything looks very soggy.

         During the night I had a couple of incomprehensible dreams. One bit of one stands out though. I was either on a coach, or a boat, heading for Morocco. I had got as far as Gibraltar when I chanced to look up at the sky during the night. The sky was so black, and the stars were so bright and clear. After my eyes grew accostomed to the dark I found that for the first time in my life I was able to see some colour in the stars and a planet or two. I had heard so much about how some stars are reddish, or bluish, but the skies above London are so murky and polluted from stray light that only the brightest stars are visible and their colour alays appears white to me. Yet in this dream it was almost like the pictures you see taken through astronomical telescopes. It really seemed to be a beatiful sight.

        My thanks, this morning, to Pam who e-mailed me with her sympathies about Schiba. There are a whole bunch of people out there who know what it can be like to lose a pet, and who understand with far greater clarity than those who have never owned, and spent a lot of time caring for a pet.  Until yesterday I had not bothered to mention that effectively Schiba was one half of my family. Nelly being the other half.
Tuesday 27th April 2004

08.15 BST
Weather - bright, but misty sky
            It's that time of year where it is becoming too hot to sleep under the duvet, yet too cold to throw the duvet off. Or to put it another way, I had a rough night. I woke up at 2am, and then again at 4 am. At the latter time I woke up with a splitting headache and had to take a couple of pills before I went back to sleep. This morning the headache is 99% gone, but my neck feels stiff, and my throat feels sore. All this may, or may not, have been caused by overheating in bed. What I should do is take off the duvet and substitute a blanket or two, but I think a recent weather forecast suggested this warm weather will go away again soon.

            Many thanks to Val and Sarah for sending their kind words about Schiba. And my apologies that Schiba's picture was missing on my entry for the 24th. That has now been corrected and his picture should be visible now.

             Today I should be called on to help lift Ivor's old printer onto Pauls van. The trouble is that I do not know what time I'll be wanted. Whatever happens I should be having a drink with them lunchtime. I think I could do with a drink. So far I have avoided drinking alone because of Schiba. It would only make me more depressed, but with friends I think it would be a good idea. It will still be a private sort of wake because I would not expect them to understand my grief yet alone share it.
18.00 BST
Weather - sky brightening after thunderstorm
            We have just gone through a really heavy storm. At first the sky started to darken. Then there was distant thunder and lightening. Finally it was upon us. It belted down. The thunder and lighting never seemed to get quite overhead, but was pretty loud and bright anyway. Fortunately Nelly is not too worried about thunder. She calmly sat by my side only occasionally looking to the window. Even then it was more towards the sound of first rain, and then heavy hail, that roused her interest. The hail fell thick and heavy at one point. I braved the onslought to open the front door and take a couple of pictures of the hail sitting on the wheelie bin, a little on next doors car, and the gutter flowing like it was a mighty river. The rain was so heavy that I now have a little puddle next to the kitchen door where it splashed underneath it.
Heavy rain and hail stones
Monday 26th April 2004

07.40 BST
Weather - bright and sunny
            Once again I appear to have little to say. I can't even remember any dreams, or at least not enough to say any more than that in one dream I was waiting for a bus. Where, why, or with whom are now a mystery.  Very slowly I am losing my grief over Schiba, and will, perhaps, soon be able to enjoy my memories of him without feeling too saddened.

            Today I have no plans beyond trying not too eat too much. I want to feel very comfortable tomorrow because I have volunteered my services to help lift a heavy bit of printing machinery onto a van. I don't know yet whether I will be called upon to do the lifting, but if I am it should be worth a pint or two.
Sunday 25th April 2004

06.25 BST
Weather - uniform milky sky, mild
            Yesterday was a really devastating day. I felt very alone, and very sad. There were odd times when Schiba could be annoying, such as when he would wake me up in the middle of the night, but I still miss him a lot. Even now I still glance out of the window to see if he is waiting to come in. Everywhere there are reminders of him. From the muddy paw prints on the window to the legacy of white cat hairs everywhere that will take an age to disappear. I think even Nelly can sense that his disappearance is more permanent than last time. She is even more precious to me now.

           I did quite a lot yesterday, but did nothing. I forced myself to try and keep busy and avoid moping around too much. It was partially succesful, and yet I achieved very little. I haven't a clue what to do today.
20.30 BST

        It's been a pretty warm sort of day. I never really did get up to much, although I did pop out to Tesco for some provisions. My comfort food for today was a whole tub of Ben & Jerry's ice cream. There was some excitement this afternoon with a gang of rampaging youths making a racket up and down the road. According to a copper I spoke to a man had been assualted just up the road from me. The fracas even included a firearm being used, although I did not hear anything. One of the offenders (or victims) car is parked right outside my house and the police spent an hour or two looking at it. In the boot was a baseball bat, and possibly other items, but the baseball bat was the only thing I saw when I went out for a "nose".

         My thanks to "Steve@sheddy" for his condolences about Schiba. I'm sure I must know you, but your exact identity is a mystery. For some time I assumed you were someone else, but I am sure that person would use a more familar e-mail address for something of such importance.
Saturday 24th April 2004
No Schiba day 3
06.40 BST
Weather - clear skies, sunny, still cool
           Yesterday was a good day ! The sun stayed out and the temperature rose from cool to almost hot. And I spent most of the time getting drunk in a beer garden ! Apart from the dreadful hungover feeling I had once I got home again, it was a splendid sort of day.

           It is now the third morning that there has been no sign of Schiba, and I am worrying about him. On past record he will be fine, but there is always that nagging idea that he is laying injured somewhere, or something,  and I can do nothing about it.

            Today looks as if it could be a repeat of yesterday - weatherwise. I am not anticipating spending hours in a pub beer garden. Instead I think I'll mainly be pottering around the house for most of the day. Shame really as yesterday, judging by the redness of my arms (and probably face) I have the start of a bit of a tan.. It has certainly taken away some of the winter paleness.
14.45 BST

Schiba asleep
   The mystery of Schiba's disappearance has now been solved. A short while ago a brief duplicated flyer was popped through my letter box askong if anybody had lost a cat. After ringing the number I was told that a cat matching Schiba's description had been found in a nearby garden. He appeared to have died in his sleep and was taken to a local vet. The vet could find no obvious injury, or reason to explain the death. I never knew how old Schiba was when I took him in as a stray so it was even possible that he died of old age. I just hope his last few years with me were better than living rough.

Friday 23rd April 2004
No Schiba day 2
06.30 BST
Weather - clear skies, sunny, still cool
         Another morning and still no sign of Schiba. I hope the silly thing is alright. I'm still optimistic he will turn up again, and like the last times, there will be no indication of what he was up to.

         It looks as if it will be another dry and sunny day. It is rather cool at the moment, but I believe the weather forecast suggested it could get up to over 20° C, and tomorrow could be even warmer. It sounds as if today could be an excellent day to go for a pint or two with Ivor at lunchtime.
Thursday 22nd April 2004
No Schiba day 1
07.25 BST
Weather - clear skies, sunny, still cool
           Despite a very late night, after a night in the pub and late night TV, I am up early this morning. A lot of the reason has to do with having really bad guts. I have had to run to the toilet 3 times already this morning. The other reason for being up so early is to look out for Schiba. He has gone missing again. I have not seen him since 02.30 yesterday. I am not too concerned yet. It is not the first time he has gone "walkabout". The first time was in Novemeber 2002, and he disappeared for a whole month. Then, he came in as if nothing at all had happened. He had his breakfast, wandered into the living room, settled down, and had a good sleep. All perfectly normal. There was no indication of where he had been, or what he had been up to. It was just as if he had fallen through a time warp that bypassed the whole of November. The second time he disappeared was last year, and he was gone for 5 or 6 days. Once again he just reappeared as if he had never been away. I could understand it if he was a randy tom cat, but he has no knackers and should not get those tom cat urges.

           After a mainly dull day yesterday it feels nice to wake up to sunshine. Apparentlt tomorrow should be an even nicer day. Today I could be tempted to have a drink with Ivor, but I am meeting someone this morning and will not be able to get away in time. In fact the "morning" may well turn out to be sometime after midday.
Wednesday 21st April 2004

08.20 BST
Weather - light overcast sky with drizzle
              Once again I went to bed fairly early, and this morning I am up a little earlier. Tonight I hope to be in the pub so it will inevitably be back to a very late night again. Strangely, after a night boozing, I often seem to be able to get up fairly early. I wonder if that will be so tomorrow morning ?

             During the night I had a weird selection of dreams. One seemed to have a French theme. It was probably inspired by watching "Allo, Allo" on the TV. It seemed to start when I was walking down the road where I used to live. I was heading into Catford town centre when this large coach approached. So I ran towards a bus stop and it stopped to let me on. It was an exceedingly large coach and was used for a route hundreds of miles long. Within minutes we were at the terminus and I got off without having been approached by the conductress to pay a fair. So I asked the driver why not. The driver who was the splitting image of Rene (from "Allo, Allo") said that for such a minute part of their total route they could not work out such a small fare. I followed him into a very small bar where I ordered a Heineken lager. They only seemed to have two other drinks that were not in bottles. One was an Abbey Beer which had a strength of 17% alcohol, and the other was something very strange called Tweegy (if I rememeber correctly). I don't know what that was, but it was dispensed from a very strange dispenser. It was a pale orange coloured liguid that had orange particles in it. They were constantly agitated and there was a strong lamp underneath that seemed to make them sparkle in the light. I think it was alcoholic, and was probably orange flavoured, but the only other thing I remember was that the illuminated part was actually quite small - perhaps 3 inches high and about 6 inches long. Thinking about in the cold light of day I suppose there was no real reason to believe that the illuminated liquid was actually the same stuff as the tap would dispense. It may just have been an elaborate eye catching display. But, back to the bar. The actual bar room was very small, and it had a large coal fire in it. I found that it was too hot to stand near it, yet there was a woman there standing fairly close to it, but facing away from the heat. I think I knew her, but she may have been a waitress. I asked her, in all innocence, if her bottom was too hot. She turned towards me, grabbed me, hugged me, and said her bottom was always hot for me while grinding her pelvic area into mine ! Which was rather nice !!! Her character was obviously based on that of Marie, once again from "Allo, Allo". She spoke in a French accent and had the same size and shape as Marie, but had long blond hair. I can't really remember what happened after that, although I do rememeber what was probably another dream set in a similar place. The only fragment I can recall was sitting opposite another woman who was running her fingers through my long hair and saying she wanted to brush it. That too felt nice, but perhaps not as nice as the first encounter ! I did have more dreams, but they are dull in comparison, and I can't be bothered to try and recall them.

             Yesterday I was intending to go up into my workshop and do a little work. That never happened, but today I really must do it. Yet there could be a further distraction. Jodi may be popping over to watch an episode of that totally uninteresting TV programme "Frazier". Last week she called me up in a panic saying that she had gone out without settting her video to record that programme, and could it do it for her. I did, but used the same tape that I was recording "The Bill" on while I was in the pub. I have warned her that I may use the same tape tonight if I am in the pub, and that Frazier may be overwritten tonight. So she had better watch it by today at the latest. If she doesn't make it today I'll probably find another tape, but I'd prefer it if she could stick to the schedule and not muck me about.
Tuesday 20th April 2004

09.00 BST
Weather - 50% cloudy, with bright sunshine. cool
             I went to bed early last night. I even weant to sleep early, at around 23.00, but I seem to be up later then ever. I did have to get up at 04.00 to let Schiba out, but before he went out he suddenly became all affectionate. The signs were unmistakable - he wanted feeding. So I poured out some "crunchies" ( Iams ) as I was not going to be washing up plates at 4 am ! He then did his normal trick of pushing twice as much out of the bowl as what he managed to eat before going out. Compared to Nelly, his tongue control is useless. Nelly can delicately eat any type of food without spilling a drop, but Schiba just makes a mess !

              This afternoon, at 12.15 I have an appointment at the Job Centre to discuss my job searching. The letter ordering me to attend comes with all the usual threats about stopping my dole etc. I thought they were supposed to be helping me not threatening me ! I had better go and prepare for the ordeal.
Monday 19th April 2004

08.45 BST
Weather - bright and sunny
              The most significant aspect of yesteday was that I almost had a disaster, and it was the BBC's fault ! The data stream for the DAB electronic programme guide became corrupted during last week, and there was no details for yesterday. Now Sunday is when they broadcast the science fiction serial "Journey Into Space". I have been religously recording each episode, and yesterday was part 14 (out of 20). The Electronic Programme Guide allows me to schedule recordings at a click of the mouse, but without the details for Sunday I had to enter the details manually. Something went wrong and instead of entering 18.00, I had entered 00.00. So when I went to play back the recording I found I had recorded something else. Fortunately the proramme was repeated at midnight and I had another (and succesful) chance to record it (and unusually, to listen to it as it was broadcast).

              Yesterday was such a dreary day, weather wise, and yet this morning the sky is mostly blue and the sun is shining. I'm not sure how I passed the time yesterday. I went to Tesco for food. I ate. I listened to the first third of the 3 hour tribute to Spike Milligan that I had recorded from BBC 7. I did some reading. The rest of the time was probably spent buggering around with PC's. I did have a good dream last night. A very sexy dream indeed (even though it featured someone from my best forgotten past - Marion). I shan't go into details. It is enough to say that for that type of dream it was the most satisfactory for years ! (Which is not to say it couldn't have been slightly better - a few minutes longer maybe !).

             Today I should put the PC's down and get into my workshop. I have a couple of things to do that may be worth a beer or two.
Sunday 18th April 2004

11.05 BST
Weather - dull, dreary and wet
            You could say I have had a bit of a lie in this morning, but that is only partially true. I was up at 08.00 to let a very soggy Schiba in, and to feed him and Nelly. I also checked for any e-mail. I then hopped back into bed because I was feeling cold. I read for about half an hour before dozing off. I was very surprised to see the time when I finally decided to check. It didn't seem that I had been asleep for so long. I though I merely had my eyes closed a few times, and I rememeber Nelly jumping on, and off, my bed a few times. And yet it seems that several hours passed while I "rested my eyes".

            During my "real" sleep I had a very inventive dream. As always the details of the dream are sketchy, and I cannot recall all the actions taking place in one linear scenario. It was more like a film where the action cuts from scene to scene. This is obviuosly becuase it was actually a series of short dreams that I have remembered as if it were just one. It started at my workplace, although where that was, and what I was doing is a mystery. I decided to leave and go on a journey. I have to explain it like that because I think it was actually to try out a new form of transport (or something). I started from a bus stop and got on something that was like a cross between a train, tram and bus. As I recall it was a 54. It was probably closer to a tram than anything. It ran on rails that were laid in the road, but the interior was fairly spacious and laid out like a train. It seemed to be semi-automatic in operation, and even though we were on a public road the driver was not always looking out the front. I was sitting next to a window and this young woman came and sat next to me. I think she was Indian with a pale brown skin, long black hair and dark eyes. She asked me to move over a bit, but I said that I was already pressed up against the window. To which she replied "you are too fat", and then apologised for say it. She then started looking at some cuts I had on my face and hand (Yesterday I gained a small scratch from the inside of a PC and one from Schiba's sharp claws - both on my hand and none on my face). She was concerened for these cuts and said I ought to get them treated. I asked her if she was a nurse, but she replied that she was a teacher and was going to a job interview at Twickenham. I told her this tram (like thing) was only going as far as Beckenham, and that the route hadn't gone as far as Twickenham for over 20 years. It was already late in the afternoon and she decided that there was no point trying to get to Twickenham today so we got off in Beckenham. She offered to buy me a drink as an apology for her earlier insult. So we went into a pub and drinks were ordered, but when I looked around she was not there. I asked the barman where she was and he said she was actually in Australia and had never been here (!). The last thing I can remember of the dream was commenting that there was no chance of a shag then !

            Today I must get out and do some shopping. I'm out of food, and so are the cats. It's a shame that it seems to be continuous drizzle outside. It would have been so much nicer to go out in some sunshine. Once I am back with some food I'll have some "breakfast" and then take a listen to a radio programme I recorded yesterday. It was on BBC 7 and was called "Goodbye Spike". It was a 3 hour tribute to Spike Milligan which featured at least 3 shows he appeared in (The Goon Show being just one), and probably a load of other waffle. My dilemna now is whether to archive it as a complete programme or cut it to the individual parts. Maybe I'll do both, but until I have actually listened to it I can't really make a valid judgemenet.
Saturday 17th April 2004

08.25 BST
Weather - milky looking sky with some blue bits
           I am still here ! I have re-installed Mandrake Linux 10.0 and some things are not working quite how I like them, and some things are working better. The main improvement is that I can now use the onboard network adaptor. In fact the reason it was not working before was that it was turned off in thr BIOS. This is strange because Windows XP found it during installation and decided to use it, but Linux couldn't ! One improvement I am hoping for is better handling of the USB interfaces. Alledgedly kernel 2.6 has it down to a fine art, whereas kernel 2.4 could do it - "sort of "! Finally I hope I can install Flash Player into Mozilla again. I once succeded, but wrecked it when I upgraded from Mozilla 1.3 to 1.6. Now I have a fresh installation of 1.6, without bits and pieces of an old installation left behind, it might work again.

            I had a comedy dream last night. The humour was very loosely based around that of the film "Airplane !", but this was from my perspective as a passenger. Some parts of the dream almost featured lucid dreaming where I was aware that it was a dream and able to change, or redirect, some of what was going on.  Sadly I cannot remember more than 1% of the total dream, but a few things linger. Getting from the check-in to the aircraft was by a moveable chair. At some points the chair (with me on it) dropped down by 30 ft , or more. It was on brass runners that made a delicious singing sound - a bit like a shrill skweel but more muted and tuneful. I seemed to be the only passanger travelling this way. The others were on large open sided pallets that were fork lifted into the air craft. These pallets were big - around 30ft long and 10 ft wide. The plane itself had railing around the outside, a bit like a large passenger ship, but it was definitely plane shaped. As the plane was taking off I went outside to have a fag. The speed built up, but we could not get airborn and passed the end of the runway. Eventually we were going down a main road, but got stopped by traffic lights. At some point I fell off and had to chase after the plane until it was stopped at more traffic lights where I was able to get back on. I realised that the reason we could not take off was because I was standing on the rudder ( I called it the rudder in the dream, I think, but it was actually a control surface on the tail plane - I can't spell it, but I think it is called an aerilon - I think !). I moved away from there, but we still could not leave the ground so we turned towards a small hillock and raced at it as fast as possible. After bouncing off the top we were airborne, but at that point Nelly woke me up.

         So the plans for today include trying to get flash animation working in the Mozilla web browser, and maybe a bit more tinkering with this Linux box. After that, or even inbetween that, I have no real plans for today. If the sun comes out for any length of time I may take a wander around the local shops, or I may do some more spring cleaning !
Friday 16th April 2004

09.35 BST
Weather - dry, sunny, some clouds
          Believe it or not I have been up for an hour now, although not washed and dressed yet. I've been doing some research as to why I cannot get the onboard ethernet connection working on this PC while running Linux. It all came about when I tried installing Linux Mandrake 10.0 on a spare hard drive. Version 10 is the latest offering fom Mandrake (I am currently running version 9.2), and I wanted to see what it felt like before upgrading the installation on the current hard drive. It seems OK, but I was hoping to use the onboard ethernet connector. It works using Windows, but not Linux. At the moment I have had to install a separate PCI card to connect to my LAN. There seems to ne several reasons why I can't use the onboard adaptor, and the simplest reason is that I may have a wrong setting in the BIOS. Once I go offline I will change that and see what happens. If you never hear from me again you'll know why !

          Last night I dreamed I was watching Motorhead play. For some strange reason they had set their gear up on a traffic island. I can't really remember what they played, but I think Lemmy did some sort of bass solo before launching into "We Are The Road Crew". Although that song does itself start with a few notes played only on the bass (I think).

           Today I am torn between several things. I am quite curious about playing with ethernet adaptors, and would like some time to see if I can get my one working with Linux. On the other hand it is supposed to be a nice warm sunny day and I think I could get out to a pub with Iain lunchtime. A drink sitting by The Thames at Spice Island does have a lot of appeal - especially if the day does turn out to be (almost) hot and sunny. Perhaps I ought to get washed and dressed and then try and make my mind up.
Thursday 15th April 2004

07.45 BST
Weather - dry but dull
         Yesterday was a bit of a funny day. I tried to describe this yesterday, but I am not sure I succeded. It started with a tremendous sense of impending excitement. Then there was the pleasure of Pam's visit, and then after she had gone it was like being in a vacuum. Vacuum was the word that came to mind as I was thinking about yesterday while sitting on the toilet just before writing this. The toilet - what an amazing place to detach the brain from reality and let it get on with thinking ! Anyway I liked the idea of a vacuum so much that I thought I would re-describe yesterday.

          The day did not end on (or in) a vacuum because I did meet Kevin, in The Ram, for our usual Wednesday night drink.  These Wednesday night sessions are nothing spectacular, but are good for some beer and a natter. There was one little highlight last night that was a bit unusual. The Winter Warmer has now finished until late autumn, but I spied that there was still a little thin folded cardboard advert for Winter Warmer behind the bar. So I asked the governor if I could have it. He readily agreed and handed it over to me. It was just a little trivia that I thought I could perhaps scan into the PC and use to illustrate my next writing in praise of the effects of Winter Warmer. (Which I will probably do later today). 10 minutes later the guvernor of the pub came over to where we were sitting and said "you'll be wanting this as well" as he handed over a Winter Warmer hand pump label. That was a very nice gesture and I owe him a pint next time I'm drinking there. I'll probably put a picture of it here later today.

           After the pub I was still pretty sober as I had only been drink ordinary bitter. I watche "The Bill" that I had recorded while in the pub, and then went to bed. I still felt alert, and not very sleepy, so I was reading until gone 2 am. I don't think I have really had enough sleep and I may go back to bed again soon. I was woken up from a dream by the dustmen somewhere in the local area. At least I think it was them. I can't blame Schiba this morning because he was out. In the dream I was back at school. At least I think it was school, but a couple of my classmates seemed to be characters from the TV series Porridge. I think Ivor was there as well. It was exam time and I had handed in a huge novel size piece of work that was some sort of term project. We had had to write a long essay (or maybe even a thesis) on one of 5 subjects. I can't remember what the choices were exactly, but one was computers/technology which was the subject I had written about. Another was home, and the rest I can't remember although sport may have been another catagory. I was shocked to discover that we could not use then same subject for next terms project. Then I applied some lateral (or even twisted) thinking and decided that I would write on the subject of home, but that it would be about designing a home using computers and the wiring neccesary for full networking in the house. I then woke up.

          Today I initially though would be boring, but I just remembered that it is New Scientist day. So that will keep me occupied for the morning. After that I was considering transferring more old programme tapes to the PC. This is potentially quite important since I told Patrick I had a particular show already in mp3 format, but I seems I do not. I am sure it exists so it must still be on tape somewhere.
Wednesday 14th April 2004

08.30 BST
Weather - blue sky and bright sunshine
           Just a few hours to go, and still time to put the finishing touches to my grand spring cleaning ! I think I am actually inspired to carry on with some spring cleaning after today. Compared with what it was like, my living room looks so much better. I think the hall and stairs will have to be the next task. Now that will be a huge task ! There is stuff cluttering both the hall and stairs that I do not know what to do with. Much of it, supeficially, is junk, but it is the sort of junk that is priceless should I ever really need to use it again. Perhaps irreplaceable is a better term than priceless. There are some parts for big, and powerful, transmitters that took ages to find, yet have never been used. The chances are they will never be used, but supposing they were needed ? Where would I ever find replacements if I threw them away. The best compromise would be to give them to someone who could make good use of them. These days there is no one, or any deserving cause, that could use some of that stuff. Yet it would still break my heart to just throw them away.

          It seems to be starting out to be a wonderful day. It is not just because I am getting a VIP visitor, although that would brighten any day, but the sun is shining and the sky is blue. If it keeps up like this the temperature will rise and it will be a perfect spring day.
15.30 BST
Weather - long spells of warm sunshine
           My VIP visitor (who was Pam, by the way) came and went some time ago now. It has left me feeling rather bored. After all the exciting build up to the visit, and the visit itself, I am left feeling high and dry. I should have a drink to look forward to tonight, but until then I can't seem to think of anything to occupy myself with. Although the sunny spells are now getting shorter it could have been nice to spent the afternoon in a pub beer garden getting slowly drunk. That would be even better if it was with Pam as well. Sadly time, distance, and stricter drink driving laws make such an ideal impossible. Perhaps next week will also be sunny and I can spend an afternoon, or two, with Ivor getting drunk at his lunchtime local.
Tuesday 13th April 2004

08.25 BST
Weather - dull and grey, but dry
            I have one final day to undo the years of accumulating dust and cat hairs from various bits of the house. It sounds terrible I know, but it is not that bad. I don't want to scare off my potential VIP with any thoughts that they may be visiting a total hovel, but I fear the damage has already been done. By tomorrow the accessible bits will be clean, but I won't have time to move all the "junk" out of the way to clean everywhere. By "junk" I mean piles of video tapes and assorted electronic apparatus.

            Thinking about all I have written over the last few days it sounds as if I am suffering from some sort of cleaning monomania. It is not quite like that, but more a sort of spring cleaning with a deadline attached. Although today is starting off rather grey it is definitely spring. Or even late spring - my daffodils have flowered and gone already. I have to admit I don't know the exact date of the official first day of spring. I know that mid-summers day is the 21st of June, and that the 21st December is the winter solstice, but what is the first day of spring ? Not being in work, I do not have a current diary which I can consult. Perhaps last years diary has the information I want. Bear with me a moment........ It seems that spring officially began on the 20th March. That explains my daffodils then ! I must keep that diary handy as there are more significant dates coming up. They include St George's day ( April 23rd), and two bank holidays ( May 3rd and 31st). Now who, or what, is St Mark's day (April 25th) ?
15.19 BST
Weather - mostly murky
             My cleaning up is actually going quite well. It is almost coming together, and the living room is almost passable. During the course of cleaning and dusting I came across some pictures that I though I ought to have but assumed I had lost sometime ago. They are of my two old cats Ben and Vicky. They used to live at my Mums house until a year or two before I moved here. At the age of around 17 years they had to be put down after suffering kidney failure. I still miss them a little, but Nelly and Schiba are good substitutes, although not nearly as affectionate.
Ben on the gas fire (1)

This is Ben sitting in one of his favourite spots during the winter months. It is on the gas fire. After some time he would appear to be cooking, but it didn't seem to worry him.

Ben on the gas fire (2)

This is a better shot of him. The fire is not on at this point, which is just as well as his tail is hanging directly over the vent at the top. It was not unusual for his tail to droop down when the fire was on and for his fur to be almost singed.

Vicky on the TV
The other favourite place for the cats was on the TV. This ran nice and warm and it was not unusual to find both cats sitting on it as there was slightly more room than on the gas fire. This is Vicky hoping someone will turn the TV on so she can have a hot seat.
The name Vicky comes from Queen Victoria. Both cats were wild kittens rescued from a builders yard. The mother (who we also rescued) was very wild and taught both kittens to shy away from humans. Ben, named after Benjamin Disraeli, was fare less scared than Vicky was. She would shy away from contact and turn her nose up at any attempt to play games. She appeared to be "not amused", hence the name Queen Victoria. Benjamin Disraeli was named in consequence of Vicky gaining her name.
22.28 BST

       Ooh err. I've just found out that someone actually reads all this rubbish ! (Hi Pam !) The good news is that my VIP visitor will be coming tomorrow. Not so good news that it will only be a short visit, but exciting nonetheless (should that be one word or three ?). It is also with some relief that I can now say my housework is done. There is nothing more I can realistically do now so I can breathe a sigh of relief and down tools until next time. It is still slightly sad that all my effort will go largely unnoticed because no one knows how terrible it was to start with ! Now it just looks sort of average untidy, rather than very, very untidy.
Easter Monday 12th April 2004

09.05 BST
Weather - brightish, sun later ?
           Had it not been for Schiba wanting to go out at 5 am I would have had an excellent nights sleep. As it was it was merely a good nights sleep. One thing I can reveal is that at 05.13 it was already light enough to see the bottom of the garden, but only just. The sky is rather bright at the moment, at least I think it is. This could indicate that later on the sun will "burn away" the thin clouds and we could see some sunshine.

            Today I am really going to clean up my living room - yes really. I am sure of it. I am not going to sit down and watch TV all day on my newly repaired and (hopefully) working TV. There is nothing to catch up on........... I had this strange and bizzare notion during the night that I might even wash the curtains and clean the windows. HELP I need a pill !
19.24 BST
Weather - was sunny, now looks like rain
          It seems it is impossible to clean up years of neglect in one day ! I have been working really hard today, yet my living room still seems a mess. I did wash the windows and put up clean net curtains, and that looks rather nice, but tackling all the dust all over the place will take a month of Sundays. I was very over optimistic that I could get the place looking good for Wednesday. It seems that it will not be possible, but it should look better than before. There is absolutely no hope of doing anything more than the most superficial tidying of this back room, but I think there is a little more hope to tidy up the studio. That is not too bad and a little tidying up will help to make it almost presentable. I really wish I had started this a lot earlier as it is slightly depressing to realise that no matter what I do now I can never actually get the place looking good before Wednesday. Of course it may not need to be done by Wednesday, but it would be a great disappointment if all this effort is totally wasted. I live in hope.
Sunday 11th April 2004

11.20 BST
Weather - sunny earlier, becoming overcast
           I tried my best to have a lay in this morning. It sort of worked. I got up briefly at around 8 am to feed the cats, but went back to bed before getting involved on the PC. I did a little more reading before managing a couple of hours of intermittent sleep. So do I feel very refreshed ? Not really ! Although that may be because the sun seems to be disappearing behind thickening clouds. While I was trying to sleep it seemed as if the sun was shining quite brightly through the curtains.

         Today I start my "spring" cleaning. In fact in a small way I have made a start already. Not that you would notice any different, but there is some new rubbish in the dustbin.
23.38 BST

          There is a possibility that I have actually repaired one of my ailing TV's. It is not the main set. That is still as dead as a doornail, but the reserve standby TV. It had two faults on it. One was not too serious as it was just responsible for a slow warm up. I actually found that fault first while looking for the other. It turned out to be a dry joint on the connection to the blue gun of the CRT. The second fault was that after about 40 minutes, depending on the temperature of the room, the set would momentarily cut out. After lots of faffing around changing bits out of sheer predujice, and resoldering any suspect joints I could find, I finally decided to do things "scientifically". I got the hair dryer out and started warming different parts of the set up. Once I had located the general area I then used some freezer spray to locate the actual part. It turned out to be a 5V regulator on the control board. When I tested it out of circuit it only had to get to luke warm before the voltage dropped from 5V down to around 2.5V. I have not had time to do a thorough test of the TV, but I am almost confident that it should now work perfectly.

         With all the mucking about with the TV I did not get very far with my "spring cleaning", but assuming that TV is now working perfectly, I can install the TV in its proper place, instead of in the middle of the living room, and finally tackle the cleaning, and tidying, of the room. If that goes well I might tackle the fault on my emergency 14 inch TV. I think that is suffering from a warped speaker. As the set warms up the sound gets rougher and rougher. If it is not the speaker itself then there are a few other things it could be, and fixing those should be fairly simple. That will just leave my main, proper, TV. I am not sure that I will ever be able to fix that. At least not without buying a few spare parts and trying them in the hope that one cures the fault. I don't think I could really justify the expense of that. If it was not just pure speculation as to the possible parts, and I could really pin it down to one definite item I might go for a little expense, but there seems no way of doing it.
Saturday 10th April 2004

08.45 BST
Weather - grey and damp with showers
          Like a fool I stayed up late again playing with computers. This time I did not get to bed until 02.30 ! It's like this ; I have an empty computer case and all the bits to go in it. All the bits are leftovers etc, and they do not always work. So a lot of experimentation is required to get a working PC. It doesn't stop there. Some bits are rather old and are not easily supported by some operating systems. My first attempt a couple of days ago revealed that the motherboard was faulty as nothing plugged into the ISA slots would work correctly, if at all. I'll fast forward to around midnight last night. I had tried to use Fedora Core 1 linux, but that would not install, so I had moved on to Mandrake 9.2 Linux which did install. The only modem I had that I thought I may be able to use turned out not to a software assisted modem which is not easily supported by Linux. So I then tried Windows XP, but that would not play ball with some of the older hardware I was trying to use. So finally I installed Windows 98SE and that worked OK. Everything was recognised apart from the old CD burner. (That is no problem - Nero Burning ROM is happy with it). At this point I should have been happy and gone to bed, but I decided to try and set up networking on it. For reasons only known to some psychopath in Microsoft, whenever you change any parameter in the network setup you have to do a reboot. Many reboots later and I can connect to my firewall and out onto the internet, and I can see all the other machines on my network. At that point I finally decided I had to get to bed. So I have had under 6 hours sleep again. Strangely I don't feel too bad.

          Another thing I did yesterday was to vist Tesco's early in the morning - about 08.45. It was nicely quiet in there and I was out again, with three heavy bags of shopping, in double quick time. Amongst all the stuff I bought I got a bottle of "Febreze". This is the well advertised fabric deoderiser. I tried it on the curtains here in my back room. Initially it was sort of pleasant, but after half a day, and still the same this morning, it nows smells like a cheap brothel in here. Is it my curtains ? Do cheap brothels really smell like this ? These are not easy questions to answer, but I do know I am not impressed with Febreze.

          Today, at around midday, Patrick will be picking me up to use me as an assistant when he interviews "Bear" up near Stevenage. It should make for an interesting day out. I have a lot to do to get ready for that so I had better get a move on.
20.15 BST

         I had a pleasant day out with Patrick visiting Bear. I am not sure my navigation was all that good, but following mainly my map reading we got to Stevenage and back again OK. I took a couple of still pictures today. One of  Patrick with video camera and one of Bear.
Patrick with cameraBear in the hot seat

While I'm putting up a couple of pictures here's a couple of the cats today.
Good Friday 9th April 2004

07.30 BST
Weather - dry and sunny
        The weather may be dry and sunny now, but there was some overnight rain. Schiba was out overnight, but came in dry, and hungry, as soon as I opened the window. I bet he'll be sleeping most of the morning. That would be a good excuse not to get the hoover out - except that is something I really ought to do. Between now and sometime next week I am going to be finding hundreds of distractions hat keep me from doing some of the things I really ought to be doing. You'd think I was expecting a visit from royalty the way I keep on at ideas like hoovering and other exceptional items of housework. Well I am on a personal level, but not on a universal level. I may reveal all if it all happens as I hope.

        Today I will have to grit my teeth, if needed, and do some shopping in Tesco's. I hope it will not be as crowded as when I walked out in disgust yesterday. This time I really do need more catfood ! I tried an emergency tin of Tesco's own brand "meaty" catfood yesterday. Both Nelly and Schiba looked at me as if I was trying to poison them. The one plate of it I put out was still untouched this morning. Nelly often sneaks down for a bite to eat during the night of food that she has hardly touched during the day, but this time she elected to go hungry. I reckon that Tesco's own brand "meaty" catfood must be from the pits of hell (or something).
Maundy Thursday 8th April 2004

08.30 BST
Weather - grey skies
       I know that Maundy Thursday will be of little significance to most people, but any civil servants have probably just had half a day added to their annual leave. I wonder if present day BT employees still get it ?

      Yesterday was a pretty good day. It really started when I met up with Ivor at midday. This was somewhat earlier than I had originally thought it would be. Even better was that I was able to meet up with him in Forest Hill which saved a longer, and usully tedious, bus journey. He was visiting the Forest Hill branch of Maplins so I had a wander round there to drool at all the stuff I can't afford at the moment. From Maplins we adjourned to the pub opposite, The Railway Telegraph, to quickly wet our whistles before going back to his workplace. Then it was on to The Herne for a few more pints, and then back to his workplace.

       I am getting a little ahead of myself here and have left out a few details. It is worth noting that before I got on the bus to Forest Hill I posted off another job application. So there is, once again, the possibility that I might be "rich" again. Another bit I left out was that the first time I went back to Ivor's workplace I had a play on his G5 Mac. It maybe that it is still suffering from a bad crash a little while ago, but I came away rather unimpressed.  It seems a little slow considering that it was , until recently, billed as the fastest desktop computer on the market. I must time one of my PC's sometime to see how long it takes to transfer a 1 GigaByte file from a DVD rom to the hard disk. The Mac took a full 5 minutes which seemed like a long time.  There was worse to come. It refused to play a DVD video and even refused to play one of the files on that video when renamed as an mpeg file. While Ivor busied himself elsewhere I had a good play with that Mac. It is the first time I have had a go at driving an OSX computer. It was fairly easy - up to a point, but I don't think I was sold on it.

        As I type this I am transferring the same file from the same DVD onto my hard disk on this PC. Linux is predicting that it will take 6 minutes. Now this PC is nothing exceptional. It is using a lowly 1.3 GHz "Duron" processor, a pretty old CDRW/DVD rom drive that is not noted as being a speedy item, and an ordinary ATA66 hard drive. By contrast the G5 Mac had dual 2.? GHz processors, serial ATA hard drive and, presumably, a more modern and faster DVD drive. It would seem that those Mac's, on the face of it, are not that fast when it comes to moving vast amounts of data around. Where the Mac would probably score is in things like renderring an AVI file to MPEG 2. That needs real grunt ! I have just renamed the VOB file from the DVD to an mpeg file and on this machine it plays perfectly, which is quite understandable as it is an unencrypted home made file. That leaves little excuse for the Mac not to play it. I think Ivor has some serious issues with his Mac that need addressing. Maybe a fresh installation would cure some of the evils left behind from his mega crash of a week ago.

        Back to the story of yesterday. Having had more beers in The Herne and gone back to Ivor's workplace I was able to get a lift home - which was great. During that drive, and a few of the earlier ones we listened to a compilation CD that I had made up of old stuff. My choice of music got praised, as did my artwork on the CD packaging. As a further boost to my ego I allowed Ivor to see the preliminary artwork for another two complilations that I am putting together. Both got the nod of approval, with the one I am most proud of being judged to near professional standards.  So with my ego riding high I came indoors and got ready for more booze with Kevin later in the evening. That drink was most pleasant, but not exceptional. I gave Kevin a copy of my compilation and he was most impressed with some of the rare tracks I had included. Now I can't wait to see the face of the person the compilation was originally devised for.

         Having got back from the pub I was furher delighted to receive two emails. One was from Rik who I have had no contact with for 30 years, and the other was some photos from Pam. The edge was slightly knocked off the delight in receiving them as it took the best part of 30 minutes to download ! The last thing I did before turning in was to watch The Bill that I had recorded while in the pub. (Pam's photos actually finished downloading halfway through The Bill). By the time I got into bed I was feeling really knackered. It had been a long day after a short night (see yesterday), yet at first I didn't think I was going to get to sleep. About 5 minutes later I fell into a deep sleep and woke feeling fairly refreshed at 08.30. Luckily Schiba was out all night so that sleep was totally uninterupted.

         I am not sure what I will be doing today beyond a little shopping. I have several things I could get on with, but I'll just take it as it comes. What I do know is that Saturday could end up a good day. I forgot to mention that I had a call from Patrick before I went to the evening session in the pub with Kevin. He is filming an interview with "Bear" on Saturday afternoon and asked me if I'd like to assist him. I readily agreed to be "best boy" (!) in his film unit. In fact there will only be the the two of us so my exact job description is open to a multitude of possibilities. I enjoy working with Patrick and it should be good fun. (It would be even better if some TV station bought his documentary for hundreds of thousands of pounds because I could probably argue for a couple of quid share in the profits for my input. As it is, I know that Patrick is liable to run at an overall loss for what is really just a labour of love - this time).
21.00 BST

            Today has been an odd sort of day. It seems to have passed really quickly, yet I do not seem to have done anything at all. I went out around lunchtime to buy a magazine and to pop into Tesco's. I didn't stay long in Tesco's, and I didn't buy anything. The place was heaving with people who were panic buying for the bank holiday because Tesco's is open normally tomorrow. That is not a lapse in grammar. They are definitely open beween 08.30 and 20.00. Why then are people panicking to strip the shelves bare of all and sundry ? I hope that tomorrow will find the place quieter, but somehow I am not so sure. As it is a bank holiday it will be closed on Sunday so I suppose that is good reason to buy a months worth of food. You never know, they might just forget to open again. It probably happens all the time in your nightmares.....................sigh !

           I had some excellent news today. I may well be getting a VIP visitor sometime next week. I feel very excited about it, and yet it will mean a lot of hard work. Hard work, but a very powerful piece of inspiration to do a lot of stuff I should do more often. I wonder if the hoover still works ?????

             Although it is 21.00 it feels strangely both early and late. Late because I should be thinking of winding things down prior to getting to bed at a reasonable time. Early because I feel like playing computers again. That would be silly though. When I did this on Tuesday night I didn't get to sleep until past 2 am, and in consequence felt lousy in the morning. Yet I am talking about yesterday when after that lousy start I did go on to have a good day without feeling tired until very late at night. There is no reason why I should not work all night and sleep all day except that if I do get the job I have applied for I will have to adopt my normally preferred hours of getting up at 6 am and going to bed at 10 pm. It would only take a week to get back into the swing of that, but it would desperately hard work for that week. Maybe I'll leave the computer until tomorrow. And even then, after I have done at least a little of the housework I need to do.
Wednesday 7th April 2004

09.30 BST
Weather - grey skies
          It was not supposed to happen like it did, but I got carried away playing with a computer and did not go to bed until 2am ! This particular computer uses a motherboard and processor that I was given after its original owner upgraded. It looks as if the motherbaord has a fault where the ISA slots do not seem to work. I tried 3 different network cards, and a SCSI card in the ISA slots and none would work properly. I cannot believe that all 4 cards are totally dead. Then there is the problem with the processor. It is marked as a 500MHz unit, but the fastest I have been able to get it to go is 416MHz. It is supposed to be an AMD K6-2/500, but the BIOS is reprting it as a K6-3 processor. Although I have never seen it before, there are reports of processors being re-marked to apparently increase their worth by unscrupulous vendors. Perhaps I have now seen my first one. And yet the K6-3 processors are better than the K6-2 processors, and today command higher prices on the secondhand market.

           Apart from going to bed at 2am, I was also up again at 5am to feed Schiba, let him out, and start burning a disk on this new dodgy machine. I was back in bed half an hour later and woke again at 9am. I feel sort of knackered now and I have a headache. Later on today, not necessarily lunchtime, I may be meeting Ivor for a pint or two. This in itself could be tricky as I should also be likely to be having a drink with Kevin this evening. At some point today I am going to need a nap or two.

           As a footnote to the stuff about processors. I have now dug out a copy of a useful utility called WCPUID that interogates the processor. It says that my processor is definitely an AMD K6-2. Unfortunatelt that is as far as it goes. It only reports the actual bus speed, and not what the processor is rated at. Maybe the fact that I cannot run the processor at the correct speed is more trouble with the motherboard. At some point I shall try the processor in another board and see how it fares. If it works correctly then I am inclined to junk the current motherboard.
Tuesday 6th April 2004

09.00 BST
Weather - bright with occasional sunshine
         Nine O'clock and I am up, washed and dressed. Nothing too exceptional about that, but I usually write all this garbage before getting washed and dressed. In four minutes time I am off to the job centre to sign on, and to enquire about a potential job I have found.

              I feel a little rough at the moment becuase I slept badly. I was so aware that I had to be up, and ready, early today, that I kept waking up in the night to check my clock. I did that at least 4 times in the night. I could have got to bed earlier if I had not, at the last moment, decided to rewrite my CV from scratch. I have not stripped it to the bone and it all fits on one side of A4 paper using 12pt type. Right must dash now. Maybe more later.
11.15 BST
Weather - dark clouds, with sunny spells
          I am now back from the Job Centre and have done some shopping and breakfasted. Unfortunately the job I was interested in is via a recruitment agency so I am none the wiser about the exact location of the job. I will still be posting off my CV and will wait patiently to see what the outcome is. Like the last job I applied for it is servicing medical equipment. In this case respirators. I am suspicious that it could be a field job, yet no requirement for a driving licence is listed on the rather sparse job details.
Monday 5th April 2004

08.40 BST
Weather - bright with occasional sunshine
             I must stop reading in bed until 1am (or later) !!!! The trouble was that I first got carried away playing with more graphics using Paint Shop Pro. After the "excitement" of that I went to bed at midnight and started reading. I have no idea what time I finished exactly, but I seem to recal it was past 1 am. Apart from not getting my full 8 hours of beauty sleep, I did sleep well. I know I had two dreams of some complexity, but the details are too vague to be worth recounting now.

            Today I must put the computers down and get into my workshop. Although the priority for this morning is to empty Nelly's litter tray. To say it is a bit stinky would be an understatement !
Sunday 4th April 2004

08.30 BST
Weather - bright and sunny, mild
          Its nice to wake up to a bright sunny day after a storm last night. Last night some gusts of wind sounded realy strong and I was thinking I would wake up with no roof on the house ! For some reason Schiba decided to go out in the middle of the storm. The poor old thing must have been desperate !

          It was while I was waiting for sleep to take hold that I suddenly realised that it was the first Saturday of the month. The significance of that was that I should have been drinking with my old work colleagues at lunchtime. I was really looking forward to it - a) because I didn't go last month, and b) I was hoping to discuss the finer points of my dead TV set with my old Senior Engineer. I doubt he would come up with any radical ideas, but just having someone to talk to, who understands  at the same technical level, can help a lot to think up new perspectives of the problem. It is probably the case that having to explain what is going on forces me to think more carefully at what I am doing. It has helped many times in the past, and even when he has suggested x, I have come away sure it is y (and been right).

           I spent a considerable time yesterday designing the jewel case insert for a new CD compilation. As yet I have no concrete ideas as to what is going to be on it, but I did come up with a strong idea of what I wanted it to look like. The end result (although it is not neccesarily finalised) took a lot of work, but is looking good. It is by far the most professional design I have ever attempted on the PC, but I can't help feeling it could have been even better if I had done the cut-n-paste using real paper and scissors. If not better then it may have been quicker ! All I have to do now is develop the tracklist, burn the CD, and then design the back label. I don't think I'll be doing that today because I have a few other things to do first, but maybe I'll spend a little time on it this evening. First thing this morning it's the old story of shopping for cat food, and some human food would be a good idea as well. After that I ought to get up into my workshop for some electronic construction.
Saturday 3rd April 2004

07.50 BST
Weather - mild, dry no sun yet
            I feel knackered !  I think I was reading in bed until 1am, but that still means I have had close to seven hours of sleep. That ought to have been enough, but it feels like I want more. Maybe I was reading later than I thought.

           I spent a long time yesterday playing with Paint Shop Pro. I was doing some designing for a CD cover and I think I have learned a few more tricks. In particular how to manipulate text effects. I still can't quite achieve one of my goals of bending text to the shape I want, but I am, at last, getting close to it. I am also now able to work with masks and layers a little better than I could before yesterday. There is still much to learn about Paint Shop Pro, but I am getting there slowly. At the current rate of progress I'll be an expert in another five years time. It is just a shame that as an artist I am on par with a blind man !

        When I woke up this morning I was having difficulty deciding if today was a Friday or a Saturday. Well I know now that it is definitely a Saturday. Not that this means much to me at the moment. The greater relevance of a Saturday is that there is bugger all on TV tonight, cable channels included, so I will be doing something else to amuse myself. What that will be I don't know, but the idea of making a compilation CD of my favourite prog rock tracks is a possibility.

              Yesterday the sun came out a few times. It was not very strong, but it was there. The sky looks very grey at the moment, but maybe the sun will break through today. I hope so.
Friday 2nd April 2004

08.41 BST
Weather - grey, damp, but mild
             Last night I had a good booze up with Kevin and got pleasantly drunk. This morning I do not have a painful hangover, but I do feel rather lethargic. I was quite surprised to see that it had been raining overnight. Poor old Schiba has come in ravenously hungry and slightly damp after a night on the tiles.

          Sometime this morning (but I bet it will be early afternoon) I am expecting a visitor who has a little job for me to do. It is only a tiny job, but it should be worth a pint, maybe two. So I had better get up soon in case he defies all expectations and comes early.
Thursday 1st April 2004

08.32 BST
Weather - a grey start to today - dry
          It really felt like spring had sprung yesterday. Both cats, Nelly more so, were full of the joys of spring. Even after her disastrous attempt to jump onto the fence (yesterday), she still wanted to go out and explore further. At one point she disappeared for quite a long time only to reappear precariously balanced on the lower wire fence between the gardens. Having got up there she did not seem to know what to do. Just below her was an old chair that I thought she would jump onto, but she chose to leap right over it. They say that any landing you can walk away from is a good one, so I guess Nelly made a good landing. The fact that she almost landed in the large, but shallow, container of water is neither here nor there !

         I think I got a reasonable nights sleep last night. Schiba (being full of the joys of spring) elected to stay out al night so he didn't disturb me. Nelly is no trouble at night. In fact she will often sleep on my bed for much of the night. It was me who disturbed her sleep with another totally forgotten dream. The only thing I can remember of the dream was that I was searching for something under the bed clothes (and you of the dirty mind can stop sniggering !). It seems I was doing it with my feet for poor old Nelly got kicked. Not kicked as in a direct kick, but very disturbed by my feet thrashing about under the duvet. I think it was only her leaping out of the way that woke me up. That was about three in the morning.

         And so on to today. I'm not sure what I will be up to today. I need to do a little shopping, and tonight I hope I will be in the pub with Kevin. Beyond that I'll just make it up as I go along.

Copyright - Bill 2004