Valid HTML 4.01!

JULY 2004
A new look for a new month

Nelly with tongue out


Saturday 31st July 2004

07.00 BST
Weather - some thin cloud, but still sunny
     According to the weather forecasts today is going to be a scorcher ! At the moment there is some high broken cloud, but the sun is still managing to shine through it. Sooner or later the sun will probably burn off most of the cloud, and the heat will build up. This is pretty much what happened yesterday. Although yesterday the cloud started off much thicker. It wasn't until almost midday that I became confident that it would be nice and sunny to sit in the beer garden.

      There will be no beer garden for me today. Even if any offers came up for drinking I think I would have to turn them down through lack of cash. I only have two things planned for today. The first is to prepare the pictures I took yesterday, and put a couple of them here for all to see. The second is to make some room for the old computer stuff that Kevin will be dumping on me today or tomorrow.

       I've just thought of one more task for today. As today is the last day of the month I had better prepare a new diary page for August. I wonder if I can come up with a new layout, or colour scheme ? I have something in mind, but I'll have to do some experimenting first.
08.05 BST
Weather - cloud continues to thin out
       I have now prepared the photos from yesterday, and here they are.
Max, Iain and Ruth
A group photo with Max on the left, Iain in the middle, Ruth on the right, and Sophie on the edge of the frame.
Iain grapples with MaxIan

Iain grapples with max                                                     and Iain on his own
RuthRuth's lunch

Ruth ............................................................................................................. and what she had for lunch
(see last nights entry for the effect this meal had on me)
Friday 30th July 2004

06.25 BST
Weather - rather dull and grey
       Yesterday was bright, sunny and very hot, but under cover of darkness the clouds built up until some rain started at around midnight. This morning the sky is all cloudy and grey, but there is no sign of rain, and the ground looks dry again. I did see a weather forecast yesterday and today was supposed to be steaming hot. Maybe the clouds will break, and the sun will pour forth this afternoon (assuming that the sun can pour forth at any time !).

      I had a very lazy day, for most of yesterday. It felt too hot to do much, and yet there were a couple of times when I broke out in a sweat. The first time was lugging back several bags of shopping from Tesco's. One of the bags had a four pack of 2 litre diet cokes in it. So it was a bit of a heavy load for transporting under the burning sun. The second time I had to produce a bit of physical effort was when Ray, my next door neighbour, had an accident on his motorbike. He had tried to ride off with a security clamp still locked to the brake disk of his front wheel. Apparently it should have sounded a reminder alarm as soon as the bike was disturbed, but it failed to go off, and he forgot about it. He was flung off the bike and landed bum first on the ground while the bike fell over onto it's side. Poor Ray could hardly stand with an accute pain in the bum. So I went out to pick up the bike and get it on it's stand. Meanwhile his wife, Sue, helped to hold him up so he could direct the actions needed to get the bike stable. Ray was evidently in a lot of pain, and I think it was an hour later, perhaps a little less, that I saw an ambulance pull up and Ray was taken to hospital to see if he had broken anything. Three, or four, hours later Ray was back having been diagnosed as intact but very bruised. He still had difficulty walking but wanted to try and move the bike again. It was parked pointing out of the kerb into the road, and he wanted to move it back into the kerb as far as it would go. Normally he parks it in his front garden where, because the short length of the garden, it has to stand parallel with the house. I volunteered myself to get the bike into the front garden where there is a security chain to attach it to, and it is safely off the road. I have never manhandled a big heavy motorbike before ( I think it is a 750 cc), but with the assistance (which was mostly a hindrance) of his wife I was able to do the complicated manoeuvres needed to get the bike off the road, over the kerb, and into the garden. I hope Ray is OK this morning, but I bet he will wake up as stiff as a board.

      I think I may be able to see the very first bit of cloud thinning out, and where a ray of sunshine could break through, but it could be an optical illusion where I turn my gaze from the computer screen to the view through the window. After looking at the sky for a few seconds I can't see the area that looked slightly bluer than the rest of the grey looking sky. I am hoping that by this afternoon we will have the same glorious conditions as yesterday. Conditions that just call out for sitting in a beer garden with beautiful women and plenty of cold beer. Unless it is pouring with rain soon after midday I fully intend to go to The Herne for an afternoon session there.Next week I start the dreaded "Gateway To Work" training course that will keep me out of the pubs during the day for a fortnight. I am not looking forward to this course, and if I could get out of it I would. It will probably be very, very boring, and nearly a worthless experience going on it. I say nearly worthless because it is possible something good may come out of it, but I have no idea what. During another period of unemployment ten years ago, I was send on a one week course that was a total and complete joke. Except that out of a whole week of of farce there was 15 minutes that were useful to get some constructive criticism about my C.V.
20.08 BST
Weather - sun sinking after a hot sunny afternoon
       I feel unsettled at the moment. This afternoon was not as good as I hoped, and this evening has not got off to a flying start. It may be important to say first that I have had an intermittent headache since about midday. It has waxed and waned during that time, but at the moment it is fairly bad. Things got off to a bad start when I got to The Herne. The cash machine up the road had run out of money and I was forced to use the machine in the pub. For the privelige of using that it adds a £1.50 supplement to the cash withdrawal. That is not much, but I still resent it. I don't mind trying to be generous with drinks, but giving money away to strangers when I am on a tight budget it not what I wanted.

       I was slightly disappointed that Ivor was not there today. I thought he would be, but apparently it was only a small possibility that he would be in at work today. Eventually Ruth turned up, and Max followed an hour, or so, later. We had a nice chat, but an hour before Iain took me home both Ruth and Max disappeared to another table to drink with some other people. We were told that they would not be long, but they never re-appeared. Perhaps Iain and myself are just too boring !

      One thing that did cause me some personal stress today was food. I only had fruit for breakfast and had to watch Ruth eat some really nice looking food in the pub. Then Max offered me a chocolate thing. I gently tried to decline it, but with the booze my resistance was low, and Max was fairly insistent that I take it. From then on I really wanted a big greasy plate of food. It was only by the skin of my teeth that I resisted getting Iain to drop me off at the chip shop. It is lucky that I do not have any very greasy food in the house as I would not be able to resist it. It is also lucky that I do not have enough money left to order a curry, chinese, or kebab. Instead I have had smoked haddock, cabbage, peas and capsicum "stew". It was very nice, but cannot compare with the sort of food I really wanted to get my hands on.

     Tomorrow I should be able to put up some pictures I took today. I have, as far as I can tell from the little LCD viewfinder on the camera, some good pictures of Max, Iain Ruth, and Ruth's scrumptious looking lunch.

     One final thing that has caused me great irritation today - Top Of The Pops. There was not much on TV as I was eating my dinner so I flicked on to Top Of The Pops. The first two acts I saw were totally rubbish, and made all the worse by some total nonsensical, and very obviously looped, cheering and clapping.  After a while I was able to turn over to UK Gold 2 and watch some of Top Of The Pops 2.  The first song was by Human League - not a great song , and one that I do not really care for, but luxury compared to the drivel on Top Of The Pops (original). It was made even more galling by something I heard today - the BBC are dropping Top Of The Pops 2 because it is "not modern enough" ! Errrr excuse me ! Isn't the whole point that they can pick and choose old stuff deliberately because over the time the good stuff floats to the surface while the total and complete bollocks (like the first two tracks heard) sink to the bottom without trace. Sometimes the BBC comes across as the voice of reason and sanity, but now I wonder if they have not sunk to the bottom of the pit of insanity. What will they do next - start screening Big Brother ? Sometime this world is just too much for me to bear.
Thursday 29th July 2004

07.20 BST
Weather - bright and sunny
      Last night was very pleasant. There was just Kevin and Iain in the pub. I don't know where Howard got to. I thought he said he would be coming along the last time I spoke to him, but that was last Friday and I was in a state where memory loss and confusion were highly liable !  There was nothing special about last night - just beer and banter, but that is always pleasant. One thing that did crop up is that I am soon to receive a "new" 17 inch computer monitor. Kevin has one to dispose of, and I have wanted one on this PC for sometime. There is one catch in the deal. I have to take 4 old PC's as well. That is not such a bad thing as I always like freebies, but maybe 4 is a little over the top. I think I'll be stripping a couple for spares and dumping the remains. One I may do up as a basic internet PC. They are not speed monsters, far from it, but would be more than adequate for so called "office tasks". I'm not sure who I can foist the finished article on, but Ruth may be looking for a basic PC - on the other hand she may have one already, but wants it upgraded at some time - I forget which.

      I did one strange thing last night. When I got home from the pub I settled down to watch recordings of The Bill and Railcops. At such times I would often wish for a curry, or kebab or something like that, and very often ending up cooking something. Last night was totally different as I tried something I had never tried before. I ate some fruit. It is not quite as good as something greasy and/or spicy to help lay down the beer, but it was not too bad. My noticeable lack of any hangover this morning suggests it may have even been good for me.

     There are only two things on the agenda for today. Other things may happen, but I want to phone an employment agaency to see what is happening about a potential job, and the other thing is to immerse myself in this weeks edition of New Scientist.
Wednesday 28th July 2004

06.35 BST
Weather - bright and sunny
       When I first came downstairs, some 15 minutes ago, I popped my head into the living room to say good morning to Nelly. She replied with a most delightful squeak and chirrup. It is difficult to describe it, but it definitely conveyed a message that she was happy to see me. Alternatively it might have meant "all hail the keeper of the can opener"......

       I don't think there is much going on today, and I have already written about yesterday. This means todays diary is going to be a short entry. There is not even anything I can remember about my dreams to tell beyond the fact that I think trains featured in them a lot. So that's about it then.
07.55 BST
Weather - still bright, but seems to be clouding over
       I suddenly remembered there is something I meant to put into todays diary. I have a picture of Ruth that I sneakily took yesterday. It is a little fuzzy because it is an enlargement of just a tiny bit of the original picture.
Maybe some day I will get some good pictures of Ruth and Max that fully do justice to them. Until then, this will have to suffice.
Tuesday 27th July 2004

07.30 BST
Weather - thin cloud cover, bright but no sunshine yet
       I didn't have a very good night. It started off shortly before I went to bed. At that time I started to feel totally exhuasted. It was a relief to get into bed and let myself relax. I tried to let every single muscle in my body go slack, but then I thought I had better start breathing again. I am not sure how long it took to get to sleep. One minute it felt like I couldn't get to sleep, and the next minute I was obviously fast asleep. I woke up in the early hours of the morning, around 05.00 I think, and I felt boiling hot. At some time in the night I had managed to pull the duvet over myself instead of leaving my arms and a leg, or two, outside the duvet. Although I felt like I was cooking I was not actually sweating. So I threw the duvet off and tried to get back to sleep.From then on I must have been tossing and turning for the next couple of hours. I can remember all sorts of short snippets from dreams, but there is little continuity between the actions in them, although a few themes did re-occur a couple of times.

      One theme that seemed to crop up in several of these short dreamlets was  living in a different house to my real one. In one instance I had a large upstairs room, the biggest in the house and twice as large as in reality, and I decided that it should become my sitting room. I could then use the living room downstairs for storage. The upstairs room had a Victorian feel to it, although it was sparsley furnished. It was entered by double glazed doors on the landing at the top of the stairs. The windows of the doors, like the windows in the room, had curtains that were indigo coloured. That was just about all there was to one dream. It started from nowhere, I viewed the room, and the dream faded out. I may have returned there in another dream as I have the vaguest memory of cleaning the ceiling prior to repainting it.

     Another thing that cropped up in several dreamlets was a strange man in my back garden. With hindsight it is easy to see he was an escaped criminal. He had one handcuff on, and from that dangled a yard of very heavy duty chain. When I saw him in my dreams I always thought of him as a sort of mystery. Several times I intended to call the police to see if they knew who he was, but everytime the dream faded out before I made the call. I can't recall feeling threatened by him, and probably regarded him as an eccentric. Mostly he would just be standing there. At one time I spoke something to him, and one time he was asleep among all the weeds and foliage at the end of the garden. I suppose that I must have had a lot of short dreams where he appeared, but I have no idea how many. I think I must have been looking out the window out of curiosity like if you see a unusual bird, a fox, or a hedgehog, and you keep coming back to see if it is still there.

      All my writing this month has produced the biggest file size ever. Looking back I see that in July 2003 I also seemed to write a lot, and that is the second biggest file size of all the diary months I have written. What is so special about July? For the record here are the file sizes for all the months I have written.




The file size does not give a true indication of how much I have written, but it is a rough guide. Adding the above table has probably artificially made this months file size even bigger. In fact the extra table at the top of the page, with the picture and calendar in it, will also have inflated the file size as well.

    I am not even washed and dressed yet and I want to get to the job centre in about 35 minutes time ! Whooosh >>>>
21.00 BST
Weather - getting cloudy after a fairly bright afternoon
    I wish I didn't have a hangover at the moment. Apart from a throbbing head, today has been a fairly good day. My visit to the Job Centre was only a brief visit and I passed that next couple of hours doing some reading. A little after midday I headed off to The Herne. There I found Ivor, Gill and Iain. A little while later we were joined by Howard. Much drinking ensued !  I was hoping that Max and Ruth would join us, but with  the school holidays I guess Max was otherwise occupied. Ruth appeared in the pub but declined to join us saying that she was not drunk enough to listen to tales of computing. I didn't think we were that bad, but I guess it is a rather common point between the rest of us. Eventually Ruth was joined by a couple of men who presumably talk the sort of bollocks that Ruth enjoys.  I forgot to mention that Ivor had left sometime before Ruth arrived.  Meanwhile Iain, Howard and myself continued to talk about computers, beer, women, TV, finance, religion, politics, the weather,  and other things that men talk about. By about 18.30 Howard, having put it off for some time, decided to leave. Iain and myself stayed on for another 30 minutes, or perhaps a little longer. As we left I noticed that Ruth had not left as I first thought, but had only left the beer garden to drink inside. I found her at the jukebox selecting records. One of her selections was playing as we left. It was a Doors track which shows good taste. For the second time I was invited to have a quick hug and a peck on the cheek by Ruth. I feel I have established some sort of rapport with Ruth. I don't know what it means, perhaps I don't want to know what it means, but I do like it, and that is the most important thing ! With luck there will be more of it on Friday.
Monday 26th July 2004

06.45 BST
Weather - grey sky, calm and dry
      The weather is definitely not up to summer standards. Looking out the window I can see just an endless stretch of grey instead of the blue sky and fluffy white clouds I would hope to see on a July morning. It is fairly chilly as well. Yesterday was not too bad. I can't recall that much sunshine, but it was fairly bright with a refreshing wind. It was the sort of day you might wish for after being blasted by hot sunshine for a few weeks. Except that for this summer it is the other way round. It is the days when you are blasted by hot sunshine that you wish for. Perhaps August will turn out better.

      It seems I made a mistake when I was describing the LS-120 drive as a super drive on Apple Macintosh computers. Super Drive actually refers to what the rest of the world knows as a DVD drive - specifically a DVD burner. I now think that Apple refer to the LS-120 disks as Super Disks. To my narrow way of thinking you would read, or write, a Super Disk in a Super Drive, but that's just me I guess. Perhaps the more pedantic, and maybe that includes Apple, would read and write a Super Disk In a Super Disk drive. Maybe I just don't know what I am talking about.

      I spent quite a few hours yesterday making back up copies of some of my CD's, or to put it another way, ripping CD's to mp3 files. There are some, a microscopic minority, who doubt the ethics of this, but it can still be worthwhile. For instance my CD of Foxtrot by Genesis is starting to deteriorate. Had I not acted now it may well have been unplayable in a few more years. At least I will still be able to listen to the mp3 copy even if it has a few glitches on it. It strikes me that if one CD out of a hundred of similar age is going faulty it must have been faulty manufacturing. In an ideal world the manufacturer should replace it, but that just does not happen. So instead we have to make a copy of it to prolong its life, and yet the music business frowns on such an idea.

      A little of yesterday was spent trying to improve my C.V. This was at the suggestion of an agency who may be hiring me for some contract work. I find it quite hard to adequately describe all my job skills. For one thing much of what I did during my 21 years working for P.O. Telecommunications/British Telecom does not easily translate into more generic industry terms. The second thing is that from my engineering based viewpoint many things are implied from a single description. As an example if I were to say I could strip down, repair, and rebuild car engines I don't think I would have to say I knew how to use spanners, and yet I get the impression that some people would expect that on a C.V. I recall a few years back when Mastercare were recruiting replacements for all of us who were deserting the sinking ship. I had the opportunity to see a lot of C.V.'s. Indeed some were passed around the workshop so we could have a good laugh ! Some were hugely long winded affairs containing much duplication and irrelevent padding. It is possible they would have impressed some lay personnel officer, but the Senior Engineer, whose decision carried most weight, was only looking for a, b and c. Anything else was either ignored, or even judged as negative. As far as he was concerned a C.V. only needed to be a few lines long provided those few lines contained the right information.

     Today I have a couple more jobs to apply for. I think it may be three jobs, but one of them I may drop as I am not too keen on it. Of the other two is something a bit different to my normal line of work. It would seem to be in some photo library where they want someone to prepare and file digital prints. Initially it sounds interesting, although there is the potential for it to become boring. Ideally they want someone with experience with Photoshop. I am not that familiar with Photoshop, but I do know Paint Shop Pro very well. The two programs are similar in that they do the same job, but the interface and tools are layed out very differently. I am pretty certain I could get comfortable with Photoshop given enough practice. The other job is for a workshop supervisor in a newly started company. I am not really very comfortable in a semi management role, but I would do it if I had to. I was rather hoping that they may also have some opening for just ordinary engineers.

     It is tomorrow that I am looking forward to. It has been, or will have been, five days since I last had any booze and I am feeling that is too long. After signing on, and unless anything else intrudes on my time, I will be off to The Herne for a pleasant afternoons drinking with my friends. Hopefully that will include Ruth and Max.
20.00 BST
Weather - broken clouds with occasional sunshine
       I think I am safe down here. I am sure Iain won't be scrolling down the page to see if I have written anything this evening. You see the thing is I have just watched The Gadget Show on Channel 5. They did a comparison between  Mac and PC computers and the PC came out on top. In some tests the PC was way out in front. I tend to agree with the results. Even Ivor's top of the range dual processor G5 Mac seems rather slow compared to my modest PC's. At least for some of the tasks it does. One thing that did come out on top of The Gadget Show tests was the ease of initial use of the Mac. In some ways it was not a fair comparison. The Mac tested was an E-Mac that combines the monitor and speakers with the processor.  So it was simple to plug in the keyboard, mouse and power and turn on. The PC had a separate monitor which added two extra leads, and separate speakers adding yet more leads. The final difference was that the software in the Mac came preconfigured, whereas the the software on the PC was, in effect, only half installed and Windows had to configure itself when first run. The over all impression was that the Mac and PC fell either side of a fine line separating an appliance from a tool. Macs are interesting, but I think I'll stick to PC's for most of my tasks.

      Today has been a slightly boring sort of day. I have made one job application and been shopping. Over the weekend I mostly kidded myself to eat sensibly, even healthily. If I had carried that on I might have even lost a few pounds, but today that has all gone to rack and ruin. The first items I bought in Teco this morning were all healthy stuff - aplles, oranges and nectarines. Then came cat food (yeah I know that doesn't count !). Foolishly I descended on the reduced price shelves in the corner. I found lots of yummy stuff going there and bought too much of it. I then bought some slightly more healthy stuff before coming home. Unfortunately I was a little bored so I munched my way through a lot of the unhealthy stuff for elevenses and lunch. By some form of contrition I have only eaten 2 apples and 2 oranges for dinner tonight. Maybe I'll have something similar before I go out tomorrow, or maybe I'll have the kippers I bought.  Ideally it should be the kippers as they have the shortest shelf life (they are fresh not frozen), but that might leave me smelling fishy while I am in the pub lunchtime. Oh, decisions, decisions !
Sunday 25th July 2004

04.30 BST
Weather - dry with light cloud, sun just rising
     The sky is is just lightening and the sun will be appearing very soon. You may wonder why I am up so early. It is only a temporary thing. I have just has a nightmare and can't get back to sleep for a little while. It is only the instant before I woke up that I remember. The dream ending was a sort of replay of when next doors chimney partially fell down  nearly two years ago.  It is hard to describe what it felt and sounded like. It was a sort of whoosh and rumble followed by a few discrete bangs and bumps. When it happened for real I was in bed asleep, but in the dream I was downstairs so I presume nothing has really happened. When it happened for real it felt almost dream like as I was fast asleep at the time. It was not until the morning, and the sun had risen, that I could see the debris and knew that it was for real. That turned out to be hideously expensive. An expense that I could definitely not afford now.

     Yesterday did turn out to be a lazy sort of day in one sense, but at the same time it seemed that I managed to fully occupy myself doing a bit of this and a bit of that. I wanted to be lazier than I actually was by watching TV. UK Gold , on their Saturday Stack, where showing back to back episodes of Allo, Allo - a comedy show that I enjoy greatly. It may have been the bright sunshine, but I could not relax and veg out in front of the TV. Instead I found myself trying to get a computer component working. The component in question was an LS-120 drive (or Superdrive as Mac users would know it). At some time in the past I have been given two of these drives, bith faulty, and I got curious about trying to make them work. One of them probably has a serious electronic fault, but the other did show signs of life. It was the later which got my attention as the problem seemed more mechanical than electronic. Most of that problem was that a couple of microscopic switches that had broken due to clumsy handling by the drives previous owner. The switches detect that a disk has been placed in the drive, and what sort of disk it is. It was an intricate business taking the drives apart so that I could cannibilise one drive to provide new switches for the one I was working on. In the end I had the drive reading and writing standard floppy disks, although that was slightly unreliable, but it would not work at all for the 120 MByte disks that it was designed for. For those disks it uses a laser like a CD player, but a better comparison would be more like a Minidisk player. Ultimately it was all a waste of effort, but it kept me amused for several hours.

     There were a few other computer based things I did yesterday as well. I downloaded two free programs that I have recently heard about. The first, amusing called Gspot, is a useful little utility that analyses video files and trys to work out what is needed to play them properly. The second, called FairUse, is a program to "rip" DVD video disks to a smaller file that can be burnt to a CD which can be played on a PC. This latter program is just going through the transition from free program to paid for program so I thought I ought to get it while it was still free. It took some searching of the internet to find a freely downloadable copy, but I got it in the end. In point of fact it was a lot of fuss for a program I do not really need. I have better tools for copying DVD's, but I did have one idea in mind. One day I may buy a set top DVD player than can play CD's with these specially coded video files. So I will want at least one test disk to try it out. Some of the earlier tools for making these CD's were tricky to use and required lots of manual intervention of the process. Even then the results could be unpredictable, but FairUse automates the process and has gained some good reviews. So now I have the program and it has produced one good video file that I can use for test purposes.

     I only know one thing that I will be definitely doing today, and that is to go back to bed soon. Nearly an hour has passed since starting this writing. Much of the time has been spent in actually thinking what to write and typing it all in, but I have also fed Nelly and had a few other distractions as well. I am now starting to yawn so I'll upload this and get back to bed.
Saturday 24th July 2004

08.00 BST
Weather - bright and sunny
      Yesterday was not nearly as bad as I had been expecting. The first significant thing of the day was my appointment at the Job Centre. For the first time, the man there was actually helpful. I asked him to print off the details for a couple of jobs I had found on the job centre website. One or two of them I might actually apply for. Then I told him about another job that I really just wanted to have a moan about. It was one that I had enquired about some 5 or 6 weeks ago. I was told then that the job had been filled, but the same job was still appearing on the website. The job itself was not placed by an employer directly, but by a job agency. On my first enquiry they did suggest I send in a copy of my C.V. and that they would get in touch. The man at the Job centre said he would phone them up to see what it was all about. That seems to have got things moving. I had a brief word with the agency, after my "job adviser" had spoken to them, and they confirmed a few of my details and said they would phone me back at home where they hoped I had a decent phone unlike the Job Centre ones that were soft and muffled (apparently all job centre phones are like this by their reckoning). They were 20 minutes late phoning back. Initially I didn't think they were going to bother, but they came through in the end. After a short conversation with then discussing my skills they have asked me to expand some of the information on my C.V., but were basically happy with it. They then told me about three possible temporary jobs they may be able to offer to me. Finally I was told that they would be e-mailing me a copy of their terms and condition - which they have. I am not sure what happens next. During the course of this weekend I will do the work on my C.V. and e-mail it back to them. Then on Monday I'll give them a ring and see what the next move is. I think one of the first things I will have to do is to attend an interview at their offices. These are in Watford. It is a bit of a trek, but it could make for an interesting day out.

     Having sorted all that out I went off to The Herne to get some drinking in (and to get some breakfast). It was gone 14.00 when I got there, but Ivor, Iain and Howard were all there still. Ivor had closed business for the day and stayed for another drink or two. There was no sign of Max, but around the time that Ivor was leaving Ruth turned up. So Iain and myself stayed to drink with Ruth. I didn't want to get totally off my face so I only had one pint of Kronenberg and followed that up with diet cokes - many of which, but not all, also had scotch in them. Eventually, at around 18.00, Max did turn up but was distracted by having Mick with her.  Finally it was time to leave. I never did get a kiss or cuddle from Max, but after the rather benign job centre appointment I didn't actually need one, but I would never turn one down from Max if offered. Much to my surprise and delight it was Ruth who stopped me and asked for (or offered) a hug on my way out. I think it took Iain by surprise as well.

     One thing I forgot to mention about the job centre was that there was one rather negative thing that has happened. I am being sent on a 2 week punishment course to learn how to apply for jobs and a load of related nonsense. I say punishment because that is what it feels like. One redeeming thing about it is that it is only in Catford. That kicks off  on Monday 2nd August. at 09.30. It is going to make getting to The Herne tricky, but it may still be possible. It would be nice if I could be found a work placement before all that happens, but that would make getting to The Herne almost impossible. So I had better get in as many hugs as possible next week.

     Today I don't really have any aspirations to get up to anything special. I feel a fairly lazy day coming on, and yet I'm sure I'll get up to something.
Friday 23rd July 2004

07.25 BST
Weather - clear sky, bright sunshine, much fresher
      It is so nice to wake up to bright sunshine. The air feels much fresher as well. It seemed so humid yesterday, and there were many times in the day when I felt so hot and sticky. It was most uncomfortable. It all came to a head at around 22.00 when there was a thunderstorm. There was plenty of rain here, but the thunder was a little distant, and yet some of the lightning seemed blindingly bright.

     Despite the nice bright sunshine it is a little hard for me to raise my spirits too high when I have to endure yet another one hour appointment at the job centre. I do try and keep an open mind about this New Deal 25+ scheme at the job centre. It is supposed to help me find work, and yet the average of the results it produces in me are - no change ! Sometimes it scares me to try harder to find work just to get away from them, and at other times it is so depressing that I am reduced to a state of lethargy where I just don't care at all. In all the time I have spent at the job centre, both this time, and last time I was out of work, the one thing I have never been offered is career advice. No one has ever tried to work out with me what skills I have, and what I am capable of doing, and then tried to match that with potential jobs both real or theoretical. As I have tried to explain to my "New Deal Adviser" I have some difficulty decoding the descriptions given for some jobs that I am unfamiliar with. Potentially there are a lot of things I could do, but when you understand half the requirements for a new job, and the other half is just gibberish, I think there is a natural tendancy not to seek those jobs out. I suspect the trouble is that the people who work in the job centres actually know little about the real world. Many of them probably joined the job centre staff as a nice civil service job because there was little else they could do.

     The one thing I am clinging to, to help restore my sanity, is to get drunk this afternoon. In fact just slightly tipsy would be more than sufficient. I hope that if I wander over to The Herne this afernoon I will find some fellow drinkers there. A hug from Max would help cheer me up, although I have to confess I feel a little guilty about making the presumption that I may get one.

     Last night I seemed to have another long rambling, and confusing, dream. It started off logically enough. I was accompanying Patrick to do some filming. We arrived at this house and from then on things got weird. I cannot describe the complete sequence of events. It would take too long and I am not sure if I even remember them all. The house itself, if you can call it a house, seemed to be like loads of spare rooms from different building connected by corridors and staircases. The walls of the corridors were painted a bright yellow, and yet everything was faded and worn. The person Patrick was interviewing seemed to have been in the army and may have been disabled because he never left the chair he was sitting in. It was odd that I don't recall a camera being present, and yet it was being done as if the camera was there. The room this was taking place in was clean, neat and tidy, but with few furnishings. There was also a woman there who was almost certainly the interviewee's mother. She seemed neither young nor old. A little later on I was to observe that she had a very nice figure, and yet was not attractive for some undefined reason. After a while she announced that it was time for refreshments and summoned me to help her. It was then we went through all the crazy twisting corridors. It was when we were going down a short flight os stairs that she turned to me and said that we ought to be careful as we could be seen from the outside. There was a large window there that was overlooked by a staircase on a large block of flats outside. As she gave this warning she had turned towards me and was saying directly to my face so closely that our lips were almost touching. I felt quite repulsed, but I don't know why. I can only describe it as the sort of feeling you would expect to have if a transvestite tried to kiss you. Outwardly they could look OK, but you just know there is something wrong. After that we went into a kitchen where there was another woman who may have been the first's sister. As they busied themselves with something I noticed some kittens. I sat down facing away from these women who had by now taken on the air of something that I can only describe as witches. (although a modern interpretation compared to the more classical cackling old hags). The kittens were delightful and it seems as if I had played with them for ages. All was well until one burrowed down between me and my jacket and found an inside pocket that it decided would be a good place to have a wee. Once that happened I ecided that I ought to go and find Patrick as I had not seen him for some time. It took ages to get through all the yellow painted corridors, and I never did find the room I had started from, but I did find a way out. Outside, Patrick was just finishing packing the gear into his car, and announced that it was time we went. I think I woke up at that point, but was left with one more strange impression. In that last view of Patrick his hair was very long, waist length, and yet at the start it had been short. Maybe we had jumped back in time to the sixties.If I could remember what car he was driving it could have given a clue about the year. It didn't seem that the dream involved time travel, but I did dream about that yesterday. Perhaps I am secretly a time lord. So secretly that even I don't know it.
Thursday 22nd July 2004

08.20 BST
Weather - thin cloud, sun later ?
      It looks as if the sun may break through the mottled layer of cloud sometime this morning. Or it could go the other way and pour with rain. I am sure this is so un-July like. Last night the clouds really did clear for the evening  , and we had bright sunshine until the sun set. I didn't see the sun set, or the sunset (!), last night because I was in the pub, but I did notice that I could see some stars through the clear sky when I was walking home. It was an enjoyable night in the pub along with Howard, Iain and Kevin.

     Having come home from the pub I did the same as last Wednesday. I stayed up to watch what was left of Red Dwarf followed by my recordings of The Bill and Railcops. It was 01.30 before I was in bed, but after the previous nights lack of sleep I fell into a deep sleep almost instantly. At 06.40 I woke up again partly because I needed to pee and partly because the dustmen were making a bit of a racket. Having taken care of the former I went back to sleep.

       It is confusing trying to remember my dreams from last night. I can almost remember two story lines, but they seem to overlap, or at least have bits, or places, in common. One is slightly easier to explain because I can remember more of the overall plot, and less of the detail. It involved time being altered. I presume, although my memory is not clear on this point, that I had travelled in time and had noticed that something had changed. In the dream I was trying to prove this had happened. I managed, somehow, to find some documents that had been printed within the same hour of the same day. A bank note being the most prominent document. By examining the print with a magnifying glass it was possible to see a very small glitch in the print. It was like someone had stuck a torn page together again and had not lined it up perfectly. It was proof to me that something had happened, but not enough to convince anyone else.

      The other dream I can remember more detail, but is was one of those confusing dreams where the storyline seems to continue, and yet people and places seem to melt into new, or different people and places. It started on a late night bus and I was coming home to somewhere far more rural than here. I lived just beyond the end of the buses normal route, but there seemed to be several of us who had made an arrangement with the bus driver to carry on and drop us home. Presumably we had bribed him to do this, and it seemed to be a long standing arrangement. The last part of the journey was done with the lights in the bus turned out.  As the bus driver pulled up outside my house the driver called me over and suggested that I ought to get indoors as soon as possible. He pointed up the road where this person was walking along towards us, and suggested he was a nasty sort of character. Mindful of this advice I walked briskly to the front door, but I was a little too slow and this pesron had caught up with me. He was short and stocky with a red striped T shirt. Most of the time he seemed to be reading a copy of The Sun. He demanded that he be let in to the house, but I told him to get lost. he had a definite air of menace about him, yet he offered no violence as I dodged inside and slammed the door on him. I have to break the narrative here and describe a little more of the house. It was a little likr DR Who's Tardis. It was definitely bigger on the inside than the outside. What I had entered was a small end of terrace house. Inside it was larger and seemed to grow as the dream progressed. Within a few moments of me going inside the menacing character was banging on the door. I decided to go and front him out. There was some woman in the house with me. I don't know whether she was wife, girlfriend, sister or just visitor, but I told he to be ready to dial 999 if things looked as if they were going wrong. As I went up this long hallway towards the front door I was trying to figure out something I could use as a weapon. I didn't want anything obvious in case I was arrested for assault. I decided on one of a pair of large hob nailed boots that were standing by the door. No one could accuse me of having a weapon ready to do harm if it was just an old boot that happened to be just by the door, and I figured a face full of boot would make his eyes water. Just before I reached the door he went away, but I was aware that he had gone round the side of the house. So I decided I had better check the back door and the windows were all locked. It was about this time that I realised the house was actually owned by Ivor, although I didn't know why I was in it. Also by this time the house had grown even more and it was actually in the shape of a squared off U shape. The bottom of the U was the front with the two wings extending out to the back. I tried to find a back door in the right wing, but that was a dead end with just three bathrooms in it. By the time I had got to the other wing it was daylight again and the menacing person had disappeared. I thought I would have a look outside and was surprised that the sea was at the bottom of a small cliff some 100 yards away from the back door. I was joined by a woman who may have be Jo' and a dog. I can't picture the woman, but I can almost picture the dog. It was not a breed that I assosciate with Ivor, and I am not sure what breed it might have been. It was probably about the size of a labrador, but it seemed to be almost striped with white and orangey-brown fur. At that point I woke up.

     I am sure that must have been the longest dream I have described, and it has taken quite some time to write it. The sky continues to brighten, as if the sun is burning away the cloud, but the sun has not broken through yet. Meanwhile it I high time I got washed and dressed ready to face another day. Beyond a short trip to Tesco's and a very brief meeting with someone early this afternoon, I have not got any special plans for today. Tomorrow I am back at the Job Centre in the morning and I'll probably be looking forward to drowning my sorrows in the afternoon if anyone is about.
Wednesday 21st July 2004

07.30 BST
Weather - grey and damp
       I have just done something I very rarely do in these writings. I have gone back and edited an earlier entry. It was the entry I wrote last night while under the influence. Only one sentence has been removed because it made no sense. The other editing was cut some bits out of paragraph four and paste them into paragraph two. The relevant parts are now lumped together and the storyline now flows better. I have also corrected some of the more obvious spelling mistakes.

       Yesterday was indeed a brilliant day, and if the weather improves, I have high hopes for today as well. I am not sure what time I went to bed last night. I know it was not that late - probably before 23.00. The time I do know was the time I woke up again. It was 01.20. I felt almost, but not quite, wide awake. My bedroom felt hot and stuffy and I had been having a dream that I found very perplexing. In this dream I had been writing last nights entry and had managed to put a group picture of us at the top of the page. Even in the dream I somehow knew that was impossible because no such picture exists. So when I woke up there was a struggle as I tried to exchange reality  for the dream world. (Always assuming that this is reality and the dream was a dream - it could be the other way round !!!) I spent several hours trying to get back to sleep, and I think it was probably around 04.00 before I was fully asleep again. During that time awake I made one trip to the kitchen for more water, and two trips to the toilet - one of which was number twos. Initially, after waking up, I had an almost unpleasant taste in my mouth. It was a little like blood, but in actuality it was the remaining taste of the liver I had for my dinner. I am positive that I brushed my teeth before going to bed and I would have thought that would have killed the taste, but it appears not.

      It is strange that after my lack of sleep last night I feel very slightly less tired than when I woke up yesterday. Once this has been uploaded I may try and grab an extra half hours sleep, but I think I had better prepare myself for feeling knackered later in the day. It will be once I am back home after the pub that the tiredness will probably hit me. This is a shame as I should be going out to the pub with Kevin tonight. The only saving grace is that I think todays pub session will only last a couple of hours. Incidentally I have, in principle, and with a marked lack of enthusiasm, been given permission to take my camera along and take a couple of pictures. So maybe there will be a group photo on here sometime.
18.00 BST
Weather - some sun after a rather gloomy day
        Only in the last hour, or so, has the cloud broken up and a few fragments of sunshine broken through. Despite this it has been, and still is, a fairly humid day. It has not been the ideal bright sunny weather for a drink by the river Thames. So it is probably just as well we did not go today after all. I was looking forward to it. So I am a little disappointed, but there are a few minor plus points about it. One I mentioned this morning. I am due to go for a drink with Kevin this evening (and with Howard and Iain it has transpired). Second is the lack of bright sunny weather. Without that there is no advantage of such a pleasant location against any pub, anywhere. I am sure there will be another day when I will be able to savour it to the full.

       Last night I did mention the fact that Max gave me a big kiss when I left the pub. What I made little mention of was that it was accompanied by a big friendly hug. I mention this now because some of her perfume must have transferred itself to my shirt. Walking past my bedroom a little earlier I caught a faint whiff of it coming from the shirt which is on top of the pile to go into the washing machine. It is a most erotic smell !
Tuesday 20th July 2004

07.00 BST
Weather - grey with strong sooty pollution smell
      The air outside smells very sooty, or smoky. It is a bit like car exhaust. It is fairly cool outside so I guess all the pollution has descended from higher levels. Or something. The sky is very grey right now, but I did see a weather forecast yesterday which suggested that by this afternoon the sun will be shining. Now that would be a good idea as I think that I will be drinking in The Herne this afternoon.

       I feel rather tired this morning and I am only up with early because Nelly woke me up by "singing" to me. It is not only Nelly who has woken me up this morning. At around 02.00 I was woken up by what I am sure was a fox screeching away. Strangely it only did it for a short while, and I never heard it again. I was in deep sleep when it woke me and it took several moments to wake fully. It was like different bits of me were waking up at different times. I can't remember the order in which it happened, but it seemed like seperate struggles to open my eyes, and focus them, and to throw off sleep paralysis. Perhaps both actually happened simultaneously, but it felt like separate actions.

       It is some time since I recalled any of my dreams, but I had one this morning that I do recall. I can't remember the whole dream, but I can describe the essence of it. I was repairing a Toshiba TV that mysteriously had a 100 MByte hard drive in the line output stage. I diagnosed the fault as being in the hard drive so I phoned Toshiba to enquire about a spare. They said the hard drive was guaranteed for life and they would send an engineer round to change it. The engineer did not know anything about working on TV's so he took my word about the diagnosis and handed me a new hard drive to try out. I installed it and it worked, but the geometry of the picture was terrible. It would be logical to think that the geometry adjustments would be stored on the hard drive, but no, they were all conventional adjustments. So I tuned into a test card and started adjusting the picture. The Toshiba enginner, who was still there, was horrified that I was working on a live TV and commented that there was no way he would put his hand inside where there are so many high voltages lurking around. In real life that is exactly what you have to do, but it is safe provided you know what you are doing.

       I think that dream was partially inspired by what I spent a fair amount ot time doing yesterday. I decided to take the bull by the horns and have a go at the Hewlett Packard flat bed scanner. My hopes that it would be far more servicable than the previous scanner I had taken apart were correct. Initially I did more dismantaling than was necessary, but I soon got the hang of it. The initial fault turned out to be dry joints in the power supply. Having resoldered them I had some life showing in it. Unfortunately my troubles were not over. Having installed the software I used a helpfully provided piece of diagnostic software. It diagnosed an internal software fault. It looks as if the faulty power supply may have spiked something within the scanner and killed it. An alternative possibility is that there is something amiss with the SCSI interface card or connecting lead. This I doubt. Using the same lead plugged onto an external hard drive works perfectly. If I have the patience I may install the proper HP SCSI interface card in an old PC and try it from that, but I strongly suspect I will be wasting my time.  By rights I ought to chuck the scanner in the bin, but the bin is full for this week. So it gets a reprieve of a full one week. I don't like throwing stuff away, but it did not cost me anything to start with (I was given it), and its specification is not that good anyway.
21.30 BST

        Today has been a fascinating day. There are many things I probably ought to have done (searching for a new job being one of them), but I have enjoyed today immensely. There was one thing that spoiled the day a little (Ruth v Sophy) but only a little. I was quite amazed that I never got any complaints from Max (or Ruth)  about some of the things I have said here. Not that I believe I have said anything bad, but there have been one or two things I have said that I am not totally comfortable with. So it was with immense relief that both Ruth and Max were OK with me.

     It has been a very long day. I never really expected to be in so late tonight. My initial plan was to get a lift home with Ivor and I would have been home soon after 17.00. As it is, it has gone 21.30 and I am feeling somewhat worse for wear. Nevertheless I achieved something today that I never thought I would do. I told Max that I loved her very much, but I did add a caveat that it was only in a platonic sort of way.  I have to confess that I would wish for more ( and I was bold enough to mention it), but I do realise that any more would be stretching the laws of possibility beyond belief.  You could say she has been like a big sister to me. Except I doubt I would still be savouring the slightly greasy feel of her lipstick on my lips if she really had been a sister to me.

      This afternoon, and evening, has been a mixture of rain and sunny spells. I hope tomorrow will turn out better. Some of us are planning to have a drink at Spice Island, a pub adjacent to The Thames. Last time I was there the weather was brilliant, but we were sadly lacking in nice women. Tomorrow that could be different. I just wonder how I am going to pay for it all.

      One thing missing from this diary is some of the deeper insights as to how I am feeling. I did explain verbally, to a couple of people, how my brother Dave is a preacher, and how I am worried that if I ever confess that some days I feel really awful he will try and "introduce me to God". Well I am taking a chance that he has got bored with this diary and I am free to say how depressed I can be sometimes. Except that today I am not depressed and have no need to say it. I am a little drunk at the moment, and very much looking forward to my bed. Today has actually been a brilliant day and I feel very happy. Max has played a big part in this.

     At the moment everthing is fine and there are fine times ahead. Tomorrow should be a laugh and there is the promise of good things to come. I am not sure how to handle it. It feels like I am imposing on people, and it is not my suggestion, but if I play my cards right, or perhaps I should say, if I organise it correctly, Max and Ruth have volunteered to help me tidy up my back garden. I doubt they know what they would be letting themselves into. And I doubt Ruth realises the immensity of transporting the debris from my garden to a dump in her car. That is something that Max has volunteered Ruth to do. Somehow I doubt that much will be achieved in the jungle I call my garden, but it does sound promising as a start to a micro party. Now that is something to look forward to.
Monday 19th July 2004

07.40 BST
Weather - clear sky, bright sunshine
     I have to do that that very English thing and talk about the weather (again). Yesterday was mostly gloomy. Today, by contrast, has started off with clear blue skies and glorious sunshine. How long can it last ? I don't think I'll be taking advantage of the sunshine directly - I have no plans to go out today - but it is nice to see anyway.

      One thing I may do today is to have a fiddle with the HP scanner I mentioned yesterday. I did try it out, but it has a fault. You turn it on and the lights briefly flash before it goes dead again. That it almost certainly caused by a faulty power supply, and a type of fault that is relatively easy to fix. The big difficulty is how easy it will be to physically get to the power supply. The last flatbed scanner I opened up has some concealed screws and was generally very hard to open up. I would like to think that something made by Hewlett Packard would be better made, but I have grave doubts about the servicability of it.

      Yesterday I tried to sort out all my mp3 music recordings and archive them to DVD-R disks. I think I have a grand total of just over 4500 tracks that span across 6 disks. The disks are not full because I wanted to keep the tracks in alphabetical order. To use more of the available space on the disks would mean splitting alphabetical subsections across two disks, but each disk holds an average of about 3 GBytes. All that is quite a lot of music, but I know it is far from complete. There is at least one track that I know is on one of my computers, or maybe on a CDR somewhere, that does not appear in the collection. Then there are a large number of my CD's that I have not even got around to backing up to mp3 yet. It has got to the point where it is a little tedious to work out if I have already ripped a CD or not. To do one is not too bad, but to do many I have to keep referring to the "master collection" by changing disks in and out of the drive. That can slow things up and becomes boring after a while, but eventually I will sort it out.

       I really ought to write more interesting stuff here. By now there is a fair chance that Max will have read through the printouts of May, June and half of July. I think she will have found then to be far too technical and rather boring. I hope she has not been offended by anything I have written that mentions her name. It is quite possible that I will hear all about it tomorrow. That is probably going to be my next boozy day, but I'll be consulting with Ivor first to make sure someone is around.
Sunday 18th July 2004

08.15 BST
Weather - overcast
      What I write down for the weather, to the right of the time, can be meaningless sometimes. Yesterday was a good example. There were indeed some sunny intervals. Some of which lasted a fair amount of time, but it says nothing about some of the fairly brief, but very intense, thunderstorms. This morning it is dry, and it has probably not even rained overnight, but the sky looks a very uniform grey. Maybe the sun will break through later, or maybe not. It is not very cold outside, although it feels hot and stuffy inside. By calendar it is summer. In reality it is something else.

      So much for the weather. What are my plans today ?  I have a few things in mind. One possibility it to try out a flatbed scanner I was given a couple of months ago. In many ways it should be far better than the one I currently use. In particular I am expecting it to be really fast by comparison to the painfully slow speed of my current one. The big disadvantage of it is the size of the beast. It can scan an area slightly bigger than A4, so the scanning area is bigger, but the casing is built like a battleship - which adds to the size as well. It is a real professional scanner for office use. By comparison my original scanner is more like a toy.
Saturday 17th July 2004

08.26 BST
Weather - sunny intervals
       This morning I will have to do some of the things that I should have done during the week. As much as I liked being out and about, sometimes in the boozer, there are a few essentials that I should have done earlier. A trip to Tesco being one important thing. I never confessed it at the time, but on Thursday (just gone) I had to wash my hair using shower gel as I have run out of shampoo. So shampoo is just one of several essentials that I must buy today.

       Once I have bought my essential supplies I must take a look at the computer peripheral that Lee wants me to look at. It is not exactly a computer peripheral, but that is as good a description as any. It should be programmable from a PC but Lee cannot get it to work. I am hoping it is something simple because there is little I can do beyond that. With luck it just be that it is connected up incorrectly. If I can get it to work it should be worth a beer or something. Once that is done I have a few more little projects that I ought to try and finish before reverting back to a couch potato.
Friday 16th July 2004

07.09 BST
Weather - rather dull
      I barely have enough time this morning to say "Good morning". In about another 20 minutes time Ivor will pick me up to take me into his work. Once there I was assist in cracking open a Mac PC and maybe flog Ivor a spare USB card. I have both underslept, and overslept. I first woke up at 05.00 feeling very stiff (no, not that way madam !) and cold after sleeping on top of the duvet all night. I then got under the duvet and did not wake up until 06.20 - which was 20 minutes later than I would have preferred.
21.17 BST
Weather - cooling a bit after hot sunny afternoon
      It has been a long tiring day, and it is not over yet. I was picked up at just past 07.30 and went to play with the new, but old Mac that Ivor has aquired to use as a print server for the huge printing machines that he recently got.  Ivor and Iain had started the process to fit a very specialised interface card into this Mac, but had come unstuck. The interface board was exceptionally long and it fouled several cables and would not fit in.  For the benefit of those who are only familiar with PC's I ought to mention that the construction method is rather different. On this Mac the whole motherboard slides out of what seems to be almost a sealed case. The interface card plugs into the motherboard PCI slot, and then the motherboard slides back into the case. It was this latter part where the board fouled the cables. Neither Ivor, nor Iain was able to take the case apart. There are only a coule of screws that can be undone on the case, but they do not seem to release anything, but there are a couple of clips under the front panel. Releasing those clips allows the front panel to swing outwards, and it can then be unhinged at the top. Well that seemed to be the theory, but the front would not budge. I was at the point of giving up when I noticed that some very gentle prising with a flat screw driver blade loosened the front. The was nothing very obvious, but my guess is that at some point something sticky, perhaps white wine, had got into the gap and was doing its best to glue the front panel to the side panels. A little more gentle levering and the front popped off which allowed the top to come off, which, in turn,  allowed the sides to come off. I was then able to re-route some of the cables to allow the interface card to seat properly. There was one problem with this. The ribbon cable that connected both the CD ROM drive and a Zip drive was now too short to feed both. For the moment this does not matter and it can be corrected later.

      Having got all the hardware in place it was then time to load the software. Unfortunately the CD ROM drive did not seem to be able to read a CDR disk, and so we copied the installer to a zip disk.  That then failed to work becuase the big G5 Mac, running OSX, could not format the disk to the old OS 8 standard. Fortunately once the disk had been formatted on the old machine, the new machine was able to read and write to it. So the software was installed with no problems, but our luck finally ran out at that point. The printer was not recognised, or even detected. We have now run into the problem of too many unknowns. There is no easy way to tell if the interface card has the correct drivers, or is even working. We don't know if the long multiway lead is connected and terminated correctly, and we don't know if the printer is working correctly. The simplest thing is to try an alternative printer, but they are 6ft long., 3ft deep and 4ft high. They are not the sort of thing you can just bring in and balance on a chair to test them. So it could be re-arranging the furniture time again !

     By 13.30 we had enough and retired to the pub. After an hour or so we were joined by Max. I have now handed over the printouts of my May and June diaries with as far as I had written up to yesterday morning of this months diary. There is plenty for her to read, although she will find it very boring. I do feel a little uneasy about some of the things I have written. They won't bother her, but they could leave me open to ridicule. I think I will be seeing Max again in the middle of next week. So I will learn my fate then !
Thursday 15th July 2004

08.00 BST
Weather - fairly grey
     For a little while I was beginning to get fed up with web pages. This page seems to be working now after yesterdays problems. I am having another slight difficulty. I have been trying to print out this months page, but encountering great difficulties. All my Linux web browsers only seem to support printing to a generic postscript printer rather than to the proper printer drivers for my Epson printer. It works OK until you get to the end of the first page. The trouble is that these whole web pages are rather more than an A4 sheet long, and the print driver seems not to tell the printer to get a new sheet of paper once the first has been printed. The printer knows that it has used the whole of one sheet so it just sits there whirring away hoping to get a command to load new paper. One option is to open the web page using Windows and Internet explorer. The printing control is then far better except for one stupid point - Internet Explorer does not know how to shrink the width of the page to get it all in. So the end of the lines falls off the end of the paper. The final answer is probably going to be to use Mozilla on a windows machine. That should do everything - I hope  !

     Having used some alternative tricks to print out some of these diary page I am amazed at how much I write. Last month, June, It came out to 20 A4 sides of paper, and this month, up to yesterday, it is already up to 12 pages. The reason for all this frantic printing is that Max has a burning desire to read this diary. It is not because she is interested in it as such, but more that she wants to check on it, and in particular check what I say about her. I think she will be terribly disappointed as there is far more technical stuff in it than I had previously realised, and very little about her. I hope that where I have mentioned her it is nothing but complimentary, and nothing for her to worry about. Maybe I have slightly embarrassed myself on one or two occasions, but that is my problem and not hers. I had hoped that Ivor and iain would do the printing for a number of reasons. For a start it would be an independant source taken straight off the internet that I could not tamper with. But mostly it is that Ivor has much better printers than I have. I have had nothing but trouble trying to do these printouts. It is time I bought some new ink cartridges for the printer as I think I have refilled the existing ones too many times now. One or other of the colours keeps failing just at the wrong moment so the printouts look horrible. The July printout has no yellow in it, June has no cyan and magenta in it, and for May the black ran out half way through. I think I'll refill the cartridges one more time and see if I can do all the printing from Windows next time. Meanwhile I may scrap all that I have done so far.

     All that waffle has said little about what I am up to. In about an hours time Lee will be dropping off some equipment that he hopes I will be able to get working where he has failed. Soon after midday I will be heading over to The Herne again for some more drinking. Later this evening I shall have a terrible hangover - unless I can avoid too many pints of Kronenberg. I may take a chance on the Courage best bitter, but last time I tried it (not from The Herne) it was horrible. I have it in my mind that Courage beers are disgusting, but several people have tried to persuade me otherwise. I suppose one pint would not hurt, and if I hate it I can always go back to the Kronenberg.
18.30 BST

     Following on from this morning........I had just a half pint of Courage Best. It was pretty horrible so I went back on the Kronenberg. It is perhaps fortunate that Max did not turn up, and Ruth was too busy with her new man, so I was not tempted to stay late. Ivor gave me a lift to the main road and from there I went into The Himalaya Tandoori to order some food to take away. I had forgotten how cheap a meal can be when ordered direct at the resturant. It was not so much that the individual prices were lower, but I did not feel compelled to order an excess to make the delivery worthwhile. So I have had chicken tikka with a nan bread. So far it sounds almost healthy, but I did put some extra cheese in the nan bread and ate it with the onion salad. I have to say that it was all very nice.

    It is many years since I have been in the Himalaya (20 years ago I used to live in there almost). It has been redecorated, and somehow it seems smaller, but at a more fundamental level it is the same. Someday, if I find a suitable dinner companion, I must have another sit down meal in there.

      Although it saved me from the temptation to stay late at The Herne, it was at the same time disappointing that Max was not there. Besides cheering me up, which is a small price to pay for the hangover later, I had the printouts of the May, June and July entries of this diary for her to see. (Of course July only went up to this mornings entry). During the hour I waited for Ivor to come back o the pub after work, I had another read through all I had written. I noiced that some entries are full of spelling mistakes, while some are almost perfect. I ought to do better proof reading. There are also some bits that I am slightly embarrased about, but they have been publicly available now for some time, so I will just have to grit my teeth and try not to go red when she reads them. Maybe she will get the chance to read them tomorrow. Ivor has an interesting problem related to the Mac and the big printer. If I get up, and I am ready early enough, I may elect to get a lift over there first thing in the morning.
Wednesday 14th July 2004

07.00 BST
Weather - rather grey now after earlier sunshine
      Many thanks to Howard for pointing out that this months diary page is not displaying correctly. Having checked it on other browsers it does indeed seem that this text is coming out to greater than the screen width. The trouble is that I cannot work out why. This text is now in a fixed width cell (as part of a table) that is supposed to be exactly 700 pixels wide, and centred on the page. I would rather like to hope that this has fixed the problem, but I am not optimistic. Last night I tried setting the entire table width to 700 pixels, but that did not seem to help. Mind you, last night my eyes and brain were so fuzzy it was difficult to concentrate on anything I was doing. It was hard work trying to write the very maudlin footnote to the day last night. That certainly taxed the durability of the back-space key ! I sort of regret writing it now, but once done, and been made public for the last 10 hours, I will leave it as I wrote it.

    I'm not sure what I will be doing today. I have a couple of things in mind that I might do.If it stays dry this morning I might clear up outside the back door. After having to move around all the crap for next door fence to be put up, I could take the opportunity to sweep up all the debris. There is still some stuff out there that needs to go into he wheelie bin, but that is full at the moment, and it will have to wait until the bin is emptied tomorrow. I think I'll be spending some time in my workshop, and tonight I should be drinking with Kevin and Howard in The Ram.
18.41 BST

      As you will see at the top of the page, this web page has now been validated as valid HTML 4.01. I hope this means it will display correctly. Assuming it has, and I haven't seen it with my own eyes yet, the problem started when I cut and pasted a few lines from an e-mail last week. It probably had some unprintable characters left in it that mucked up the whole page setting. The HTML validation service ( ) identified line 633, column 16 as were there was a fault. That has now been rectified and I am keeping my fingers crossed that the page will display as I wanted it to. In fact It will not be exactly what I wanted as I have labouriously gone through each cell in the table and set it's screen width in pixels. So if your display is greater than 800x600 it will look a little narrow, and if your display is only 640x480 then you will have to scroll left/right to read it. Be assured that a normal service will resume next month. (although I may go back at some time and set all the cells to a percentage of the display).

      I have had a lazy day today. It got off to a bad start when I was sitting here in my underpants desperately trying to get this page right this morning. I spent nearly 2 hours trying to get it right, and still it would not work properly. It was only when I noticed about the HTML validation service in a help file that I decided to see what it said. Of course it failed and I have now corrected that fault. Between the two bouts of HTML wrangling I have done very little. A fair few hours were spent listening to Sherlock Holmes recordings from BBC7.

     I have not heard from Kevin tonight, but I assume I'll still be going to the pub in about 95 minutes time.
Tuesday 13th July 2004

07.25 BST
Weather - bright sunny start
     There is not much that can be said about today - yet ! The one thing that dominates the day from this mornings perspective is my next interogation by the job centre. I cannot remember what is planned for that, but some of it maybe an intensive job search using all the facilities of the Job Centre computer. In other words exactly what I did last night. That being the case the only job that will pop out is an electronics job in Acton. I wonder if the crazy bastards will try and persuade me that I ought to commute to Acton every day ? There are something like five different Acton stations, and only one is accessible without changing trains more than twice. It would still be a hell of a journey and not one that I would do gladly. I hate the idea of commuting into London, and the to change to the Underground for another long trip in a "sardine can" would totally take my patience over the top.

    Once my hour in hell is over I think it is almost definite that I will be going to have a large drink, or two, at The Herne. Of course I may be being wildly pessimistic about todays interview. It is not impossible that some good will come of it. It's just that I can't think what that could be.

     Last night I had a dream that was yet another variation on a very common theme. I dreamed that I was working in an old electo-mechanical telephone exchange. From the layout I am pretty certain it was Rushey Green exchange in Catford. I must have had some really happy times there to dream about it so often. I'll only describe one small aspect of the dream because most of it was a little too technical to describe easily. The one thing that was odd was the lighting. All he exchanges I have ever worked in had strip lighting, but this was like pictures I have seen of old exchanges. The lighting was bare bulbs fitted in a saucer shaped enamalled steel reflector. It made the place rather gloomy looking - even more so because some of the bulbs were not working. The explantation was that the exchange was being run down prior to replacement. I thought I had a real picture I could show of inside Rushey Green exchange, but all I seem to have scanned in is a picture of outside.
Entrance of Rushey Green telephone exchange. c.1985
      Telephone exchanges reminds me of the ridiculous argument I had at the Job Centre last week. I may have told this once before, but it is worth a second rant. I was asked what job I would like to do. I replied that I would like to go back to work in an old telephone exchange, but that I could not because it was obsolete technology. I was told that I could not answer that if the job did no longer existed. My reply was that he had asked me what job I would like to do. So we continued arguing the point until I decided that the laws of the English language did not work in the alternative universe that is the job centre. In that place it seems that "like" no longer equates to a wish or desire, but has been altered to equate to "must do". Bah ! And I'll probably get more of this in just over two hours time.
20.15 BST

       Urghhhhhh, I feel dreadful at the moment. Physically it is a hangover due to excess booze without sufficient food buffering, but it is a little more beside. This morning, at the Job Centre, was not much fun, but it was bearable. The worst was yet to come. After the Job centre I did some shopping. After I brought it home I had a tiny amount to eat and then went out to The Herne for some booze.

       For the first 15 minutes at the pub I had Maxine to myself. That was nice. We were out in the garden, the sun was trying to shine, and everything was great. She was just drinkung still water and ice (and did so for the whole session as far as I aware). It is slightly counterintuitive, but I think I prefer Max when she is stone cold sober. Later on we were joined by Iain, Howard and Ruth, and later on than that, by Mick and John. It was John (or Johnnie) who was the cause of some of my grief, although he was unaware of it. I think it has been apparent for some while now that I fancy both Max and Ruth. Max has always seemed off limits, but I sometimes wondered about Ruth. After an initial bad start she did seem to be getting fairly friendly. I never really dreamt that anythng could happen between us, although I thought there could be some margin of error in that estimate giving me a one in a million chance of something happening. Nevertheless it was a bit of a shock when I found out that she was going out with John. It sort of rubbed salt in the wound when I couldn't help but noticing that for a lot of the time Ruth was stroking John's inner thigh. After the second spirit crushing session in the job centre it was not what I wanted to see or hear. In more ordinary times it would be mildly annoying, but on a day where I was hoping to have my spirits lifted I found it really devastating. There are probably a thousand metaphors to describe the situation, but I shall not attempt to use any of them here. All I can say is that I feel very sad tonight - all from crossing a very fine line between almost impossible to totally impossible.
Monday 12th July 2004

06.00 BST
Weather - rather grey looking, but dry
      Nelly decided to make sure I was up nice and early, this morning, by "singing" to me from the bottom of the stairs. Maybe she does it every morning, but I just normally sleep through it. I guess I'll never know, but this morning it was convenient because I wanted to get up this early. I want to get myself washed and shaved ready to leave the house at short notice if I get a phone call. The chances of getting that phone call are slim, but I don't want to take any chances. The call, if it comes, will be from a potenial employer, although why I should think they would call me on a Monday morning is a bit of a mystery. It will only happen if the person who is due to get the job does not turn up, and they give up hope of him ever turning up quite early this morning. On top of that there is the, possibly flawed, assumption that they would bother to phone me so soon as next in line for the job. My one hope is that the person who was supposed to strat this morning is like the previous two candidates who failed to materialise on the morning they were due to do so. If this all sounds like the ravings of a desperate man, it is probably because it is. Not only am I desperate to earn some income (which is not the same as desperate to go to work), but I am even more desperate to tell the job centre to poke their New Deal 25+ where the sun doesn't shine.

     Yesterday was one of those days where time passed quickly and smoothly, and yet I can't remember doing anything very significant. The most significant thing I did was to install the new TV into its proper place. With two SCART sockets on the TV it was considerably easier than the complicated lash up I had to use on the last proper TV (The Grundig). That only had one socket so it was a complex set up routing most signals via the VCR in such a way that the VCR thought that both the DVD and cable receiver were satelite receivers. Of course the intermediate, and temporary, TV had no SCART inputs at all - which is why I was so keen to replace it.

     Apart from keeping the phone within earshot for as much of the day as possible, I will be doing more job searching today. I doubt the job serching will take more than an hour, and possibly less, so I will have a fair amount of time on my hands. I am not sure how to fill it. There are a few things I could do. Perhaps things I ought to do, but all those things are potentially dirty and sweaty things (well yes, I'd like to do that as well, but I am thinking of things like gardening or working in my worshop in this case), but I want to stay fresh and clean until at least mid afternoon. So I guess I'll either do some reading, or maybe watch a DVD. The latter may be a good idea as a test of the new TV. Tomorrow is my next grilling at the Job Centre and I would probably have gone and got drunk afterwards, but Ivor is not around then. So I'll probably get drunk on Wednesday.
17.30 BST
Weather - mostly grey. a few spits of rain and a bit of sun
      Today has been an odd sort of day. I have known for quite sometime now that my next door neighbour was intending to erect a new fence between the back gardens. I was hoping for a little more notice than 30 minutes of the actual date or time. So instead of my plan to stay dry and clean I was out in the back garden shifting some of the junk I had propped up against the old fence. There was quite a bit of stuff to move and I ended up drenched in sweat and feeling totally knackered. On top of that I have had to put up with a fair amount of banging and other noises. I cannot deny the need for the noise, nor would I want to stop it, but it has stopped me having a relaxing afternoon.

      My plans for tomorrow seem to be shifting towards going for a drink at The Herne. I would have liked to see Ivor, but I am pretty certain that Iain will be there, and I am pretty certain that Howard will also be there. If Max and Ruth were there then it would definitely be worth going. The trouble with waiting for Wednesday is that I'll probably be meeting Kevin in The Ram that night, and two sessions in one day sounds a bit too much. Perhaps I'll meet up with Ivor on Thursday (along with Iain and maybe Howard/Max/Ruth).

      I never heard from that potential employer today. I suppose it is always possible that I might hear something later, but the chances are that the person selected for the job did turn up and is suitable for the job. There still is the tiniest, tiniest amount of hope that they won't last the week and I'll get a chance to prove my worth. I have done a very extensive search on the Job Centre website, but only turned up some interesting information, and not any potential jobs. It very much looks as if BT are recruiting telephone exchange maintenance apprentices. It is the sort of job I could probably get into really easily apart from two facts - one likely, the other definite. The definite thing is that they are only after 16 - 21 year olds. The likely thing is that the people they do take on will be expected to go on long courses at the BT training college in Stone, Staffordshire (unless they now run the courses at the Old Street training college - if it still exists). There would be no way that I would be prepared to stay away from home for more than 36 hours - who would feed Nelly for one thing ? The job advert certainly mentions having to go to college for C&G Telecommunications. That would be no problem to me as I am already 95% qualified in that area. Somehow I don't think I'll be restarting my career in B.T.
Sunday 11th July 2004

08.35 BST
Weather - cool with a milky sky, no sunshine, dry
     The weather seems rather poor for this time of year. This morning there is not a trace of blue sky, and the air coming through my open bathroom window seems positively chilly. Yesterday it started bright and sunny, but that did not last, and by the evening there was a fair bit of rain. It doesn't look like rain so far today, but I have my suspicions that it may rain later on.

      I got my new TV last night. It is a Sony KV-X2582U, and it does, as promised, produce a nice picture. It is the first TV I have ever owned that has NICAM stereo sound on it. It's a nice idea, but I think it will contribute very little to my viewing pleasure. The only problem now is that I need a remote control for it. While I was testing it last night I used a universal remote control. That does many functions, but it cannot access any of the set up menus to customise certain options. The really annoying thing is that I was sure I had a few old Sony remotes here, but I cannot seem to find any at all. Hopefully some of my old workmates who are still in the TV trade will be able to help me out.

      My three main tasks for today are to install the TV in its proper place, and properly connected. Go to Tesco for a little shopping, and finally to draw out some cash just in case I have to make a mad dash to Eden Park on Monday morning. (Eden Park being where I have a one in a million chance of being called to a new job).

      Today's word, as inspired by a now forgotten dream, is "hornswoggleing". Why should I wake up with that word on my mind ? What does it mean ? I know that cowboys are always doing it, but doing what ? It sounds potentially rude. Yosemite Sam, from the Bugs Bunny cartoons, often used it as part of his famous swearing (I think - and can you prove me wrong ?) so it is quite probably something really horrible. It could be something lonely cowboys do when out on the plain, hundreds of miles from the nearest town, and with only cattle for company. But what ? Perhaps it is something that is best left unknown.

      After 20 minutes of typing the sky looks as if it brightening, and that the sun could possibly break through the cloudy sky. Keep watching the skies !
Saturday 10th July 2004

09.40 BST
Weather - clear sky, bright and sunny
     Last night I stayed up to watch two episodes of The Prisoner on BBC 4. After they finished I went to bed and did some reading. I think it was something like 03.00 before I turned the light out and went to sleep. Hence I have had a bit of a lay in this morning. It cheers me up to wake to bright sunshine and just a refreshing amount of breeze. I wonder if it will stay like this for the rest of the day ? Rest of the week ??

      I did wake up at 06.00, but during a trip to the toilet I decided that it was far too early to get up after such a late night. While contemplating this I made a determined effort to remember part of a dream. In fact it was only the tale end of a dream, and I have no recollection of how it started. The bit I remember had me sitting at a table with several others eating a meal. One of those others was Marion, a woman who I have not seen for, maybe, 15 years. She had picked up a little bowl that had some sort of garnish in it ( a bit like you get raitha in an indian resturant). I warned her not to try it as it was horrible, and she asked me what it tasted of. I wanted to say it was like finely diced boot leather in lemon juice, but somehow the word leather did not appear to be in my vocabulary. It was most strange because I could picture the word but didn't know how to say it. In desparation I quickly thought of something else, and what came out was Roast Ant And Earwig Crisps. The sole purpose of trying to remember that bit of dream was to remember Roast Ant And Earwig Crisps. To me, at least, it sounds so plausible and yet so revolting. The name trips off the tongue so easily and casual sounding that I must be able to use it in real life sometime. Maybe I will have contributed just a little more to the English language as I appear to have done with the idea of micro parties. Both Iain and Ivor seem quite taken with the concept. (read Wednesday 7th for a description of micro parties)

     Today should bring one interesting thing - a new (as in different) TV. Several months ago I made a plea here for a cheap secondhand TV after my main TV developed a fault that I could not fix without the facilities of a proper workshop and an assortment of spares on hand. Eventually I fixed the two main faults and a couple of minor problems on a spare TV I had. That TV is still working exceedingly well, and has been the mainstay of all my TV viewing for some time now. It does suffer from one problem though. It has no external video input. To use my DVD player I have to play it via my VCR. Sometime this is OK, but a copy protected DVD can cause problems by this method. After a long wait I have finally been offered a Sony TV which I shall do a swap for. Apparently it produces a good picture and has one, or more, scart sockets for the DVD etc. Being a Sony it should be mostly reliable with just a few predictable ways it can fail - although carrying out repairs would really need a full size bench to get good access to everything. Once it is up and running here I will be able to dispose of my old and faithful Grundig (well faithful up until the end). So if you are reading this Sylvano you can have first pickings from the corpse, and you can have the spares back that I never got round to trying.
Friday 9th July 2004

04.05 BST
Weather - dry, but too early to tell more.
      My brain hurts ! I have the most shocking headache at the moment. So while I am waiting, and hoping, for a couple of aspirins to click in, I thought I would start today's writing. I suppose that my headache is just a hangover, but it feels subtly different to that. It feels more like I have slept awkwardly with my body turned one way and my head the other. I guess that is also alcohol related as well. I was still a bit drunk when I went to bed, but I thought I was over the worst of it.

     When I have had some more sleep, and got up properly, I'll see what the day has to offer. I want to spend a few hours in my workshop, but I must get, and read, this weeks New Scientist. I saw a copy of it sitting in the corner shop when I first went out yesterday. For now though, I feel dreadfully tired, and I think the aspirins are starting to work. So it's back to bed for me.
08.45 BST
Weather - still dry, but very grey and cloudy
     The aspirin at 04.05 this morning did help, but even now I feel rather groggy with a mild headache. My last few hours of sleep were very rough, and I am sure I was tossing and turning for most of the time. I did wake up a few times and I can remember fragments of totally nonsensical dreams. I hope I manage to get a good nights sleep tonight.
21.00 BST
Weather - still grey and cloudy
       Today has not been that good. I had two replies to job applications that both failed. One I was not really surprised at, but the other I had very high hopes for. That job was the one that involved some shop work. Lee did phone up and put in a good word for me. He reported back that he did not manage to speak to the governor, but that from his conversation with the guy he did speak to, that the job was almost certainly mine. Sadly I had an e-mail this morning telling me that another person had already been selected and was starting this coming Monday. There is still some hope, although it is a slim hope in the extreme. I quote -
"...Saying that though, the last two people that were going to start never started, so if you like I can keep your CV here and if they dont start I will give you a ring."
So I keep my fingers croossed that I will get a phone call on Monday morning asking me to start straight away. It's pretty unlikely, but you never know.....
Thursday 8th July 2004

06.52 BST
Weather - another bright sunny morning after overnight rain
       I was feeling a little gloomy when I wrote the entry last night. After a bright, and sunny, start to the day, yesterday, it had turned really very cloudy by evening. As I was writing at 21.00 the rain was lashing down, and there were rumbles of thunder from the distance. I never saw any lightning, but at least one peal of thunder was quite loud andseemed to roll around the sky for some time. This morning there is a fair amount of cloud in the sky, but it looks well broken, and the sun occasionally breaks through. I think that today is likely to be a repeat of yesterday. This is a shame because I intend to go over to The Herne for a drink lunchtime, and it ought to be nice to sit in the beer garden. In point of fact it is more an intention to go to The Herne. It is more an obligation. I'm sure that Max asked me when I would be there next while I was drinking in there Monday. I said that I would be there today, and so I will have to be.

      I had considered getting picked up by Ivor and going into work with him for the whole day, but there are a few things I ought to try and do before lunchtime. Besides which, if Lee has anything like the influence he was hoping to have, I'll be hearing about my potential new job sometime this morning. That is, of course, wildly optimistic, but it could happen.

       As I woke up a little while ago, I managed to retain a memory of the last few moments of a dream. My memory does not extend back far enough to explain why I was doing it, but I was searching through my hard drive for pictures of Sarah. In reality none exist apart from a few filched off the internet. Initially she was too self concious to let me get a camera anywhere near her, and after that I never seemed to have a good excuse for trying again. Or to put that another way. No occasion arose that demanded that pictures should be taken. It is a bit of a shame really, but in reality the images I tend to try and retain in my head were of situations that would traditionally only be taken by very private Polaroid camera, and even then in the most rarest of occasions, and generally never at all. Having said that, I expect that with the advent of the digital camera such pictures are more common now than ever in the past. I wonder how many people have guiltily hidden away floppy disks, or CDR's with "private" pictures on them ? I bet there are a few hidden in the grandfather clock, mislabelled and stored as yak cooking for beginners,  hidden between the pages of  "The Collected Sermons of the Reverend Reallyboring", or hidden in the crate of aunt Hilda's elderberry and turnip paint stripper. All sitting there waiting for the right day to come around for solo lovemaking or blackmail. As I sit here conemplating the possibilities, it makes me wonder is Penthouse still published, and does it still have a readers wives section, and if it is, and it does, are the majority of them still as ugly as they were 20 (30 ?) years ago ?
21.00 BST

        Nine o'clock at night and I am here again. It has been a good day today. I have spent a considerable time, although not all  the time, drinking in The Herne. I had plenty to drink and lots of conversation with Max and Ruth. Max is convinced I say bad, or rude, things about her in this diary. I have said how nice she is, and how she makes a drinking session even more enjoyable, but I don't think I have said anything terrible about her. If Ivor carries out Max's wishes then he will print out this months, and last months, diary and you can read it all yourself Max. ( Hi there Max)(and Hi to Ruth who will undoubtably see this as well). I was pretty drunk when I left the pub, but even then I don't think I said anything offensidve, or not too offensive, and anything I might have said has probably only been repeated here in a milder form than I would ever say face to face. In fact anything I might write here probably ranks third place to what I have said face to face, and what I imagine I would would like to say. Writen like that it sounds awful, as if I had something derogatory to say, but it is not like that at all. At this point I had better move on to something more sane.

        When I got home I felt pretty ravenous. I would have liked to order some unfeasibly scrumptious Indian or Chinese food, but I had no cash left. So I thought that perhaps I might go out and get some cash. More than that, I was intrigued by a new African resturant/take away that has opened up the road from me. So with all the liquid courage still swilling around in me I decided to take the plunge and see what they had to offer. I didn't really know anything on their menu so I decided to act totally ignorant and see what they suggested. They didn't know what to make of that. I was hoping that perhaps they could suggest a sort of mixture of a lot of different sorts of things, or perhaps some sort of set meal. Eventually they suggested two different dishes that I would have. While I waited I had one more drink, a can of Stella Artois. Eventually the food was produced, and it was in the form of just two fairly large aluminium containers ( the same as a large portion of egg fried rice might come in). I took them home ( and I should add, they came in a carrier bag), and tried them out. The two were subtly different and sort of nice. There was a lot of rice with a small amount of meat and a fair bit of what I believe was plantain. Everything was spiced in slightly different ways, and the spices were pleasant without being overpowering.

      I don't think I'll be trying those dishes again. That is not to say that there were anything wrong with them, but it is just that I feel it was no better than I could easily cook for myself. I might be tempted to try one or more of their fish dishes sometime, but I do have the suspicion that the major part of any of the dishes is just rice. I like rice, but I don't tend to think of it as a major part of a meal. It is just something to bulk out a meal as and when needed, or to mop up excess gravy.

     Since starting this I have had several phone calls and a lot of time has passed. It is now 22.37 and time I headed to bed. Good night, and sweet dreams !
Wednesday 7th July 2004

07.00 BST
Weather - weak sun shining through thin cloud
     Yesterday was another good day. I was pretty lazy during the morning. I did some reading and listened to another couple of Sherlock Holmes stories. In the afternoon Mick came over and we had a chance for a good chinwag. It was mainly about railways with Mick telling many anecdotes from his days as a signaller for British Rail. I also showed him my railway photo albums which he viewed with more than polite interest. At around 7pm we wandered off to the local Weatherspoons pub (The London and Rye) so that Mick could get some food. Once he had eaten we went to the The Ram where I had promised it would be quiet. Unfortunately that was not entirely correct. It was, as predicted, quiet of customer, but not quiet of music. Fortunately it is only the bar area where the music is very objectionable. In the seats furthest from the bar the volume is much more moderate. After a while we were joined by Kevin and we carried on drinking until 10pm before we walked Mick back to the station to start the long journey home to his "holiday home" out towards Luton. Then Kevin and I went back to The Ram for another couple of drinks.

       It has been good seeing Mick after all these years. In fact this whole year has been quite good. After a year, or two, in the doldrums everything has been going well. Suddenly there have been loads of people to see again after hardly seeing anyone. The 4 or 5 "old comrades" meetings we have had in Barming have been really great, and it has been a real joy to catch up with people I have not seen in as much as 20 years. Then there are all the lunchtime sessions with Ivor which often have the added attraction of Max and/or Ruth. he thing that would be the icing on the cake now, would be a few "micro parties" here. Just 4 or 5 of us, a bit of background music, a bottle of booze, and some nice drunkem chatter. Of course at least one, preferably two, of those people should be women, and in an ideal world it would just be me and one women. A few years back I would have thought it would be more likely that I would slash my wrists than be arranging, and going to the Barming meetings. So who knows what the future may hold. Maybe even "micro parties" could happen. Maybe even "micro micro parties" stripped down to the bare minimum of two people may happen. ( I like the idea of the stripped down bit !).

     Meanwhile back in the real world I have a meeting with my New Deal adviser at the Job Centre at 1pm. This could be the breakthrough I have been waiting for. What I am hoping could be arranged is for me to do work experience with Ivor on an official basis. By working alongside Ivor I would be able to say to some prospective employer that I had genuine work experience in I.T./media production. There are some genuine things I could learn, and some things I could get extra practice on. On top of that it would be a way of getting out of the house a lot and get me back in sync with the normal working day. (I'm getting a terrible sense of deja vu in writing this. I must scroll down the page in a minute and see if I have written this all before). (Yes ! I did mention some of this last Monday). I can't deny that there is also the added attraction that by shadowing Ivor all day I will end up in a pub most days (sometimes with the charming company of Ruth and Max). It is for this latter reason that I would like to do it officially as I should be able to get some extra out of pocket expenses. Maybe this crazy scheme will work, or maybe the Job Centre will try and place me somewhere else, or even worse, try and convince me to do some sort of college course. Bits of that could be enjoyable, but overall I would be most reluctant to go back to college after all these years.
21.00 BST

       After my elation this morning I feel almost miserable again. The New Deal thing at the job centre would appear to build up slowly to a total nighhmare. It means seeing my "adviser" every week, and if things don't go well I can be sent on all sorts of boring, BORING, BORING courses, and all manner of crap. I am hoping to circumvent all that crap by trying for yey another job. This one pays peanuts, but some of it is stuff I enjoy doing. The offered pay is a piddling £9100 P.A. There could be just a small ray of hope in all this. The job application had to be sent in via e-mail, and it was while I was sending it that I thought I recognised the address. It turns out to be a company who my friend Lee knows quite well, and has done odd jobs for them. He is going to try and put in a good word for me, and addition he has explained some of the set up there. he also feels that I will be worth a far higher rate of pay than that advertised. Some of the work itself should be easy. Very easy in fact, although some of it will involve shopwork. I have never tried this before and I find it a bit of a daunting idea. However I have to try and remember that there are people far thicker than me who manage to serve in shops, so I guess I'll settle into it OK.

     It would cheer me up a lot if I got this job. It would be even better if the pay was a lot better, but the best satisfaction would be to walk into the job centre and tell them to get stuffed and try to make them feel guilty about forcing me into such a low paid job. Of course they have no souls so they won't actually feel any guilt at all, but I'll try and convince myself otherwise. In fact the man dealing with me will earn extra brownie points for scaring me into a job, and feel all the happier for it. You just can win against beaurocracy.
Tuesday 6th July 2004

06.35 BST
Weather - bright start with mostly clear sky
      This is a slightly more sensible time to be up in the morning, and about the time I would have liked to have woken up yesterday. I think I may have woken up at 05.30 again this morning, but with no urgency to get up I went back to sleep before it had fully registered in my conscience. Either that or it was just a dream.

      Yesterday was a good day. It was exhausting as I predicted yesterday, but I did enjoy myself. The main task was to rebuild an old Compaq PC and install Linux on it. Although this took place at Ivors workplace, it was really a project for Iain. In fact I don't think Ivor could see the point in it, but Iain was happy with it. He has expressed a desire to have a play with Linux for some time, and now his wish has been fulfilled. The installation went very nicely, and because of the broadband internet there, all the security updates, and bug fixes, downloaded and installed fairly quickly. I was slightly impressed by the fact that we managed to connect up to one of the networked printers just using the standard set of printer drivers that come with the distribution, and were able to print out a high quality test page.

      That mornings work did not really earn me anything because it was not really releveant to Ivor's business, but shortly before lunch I did earn my Tuna and mayonaise baguette. Iain was trying to make a slide show some of around 80 pictures. To do it he was patiently pasting pictures into MS PowerPoint. I thought it was a very long winded way of doing it. While he went out of the room to attend to something else I quickly downloaded Irfanview and used the slideshow option on it. Within 5 minutes I had a self running executable stored on his desktop containing all the pictures, automatically resized to run full screen. Irfanview is an excellent program, and best of all it is free.

      During the afternoon I did very little, but I did mind a printer for a little while, feeding it paper as it used it up at a prodigious rate. So I reckon I earned my pint of beer when we went to the pub after work. By the time I got home I was feeling pretty knackered. It had been a very long day after not much sleep. I cooked myself some dinner and watched a little TV (two episodes of the Simpsons I think). I decided that after I had watched "Drop The Dead Donkey", which finished at 21.30 I would go to bed, read for 30 minutes and then go to sleep. It never quite happened like that. With about 45 minutes to go before that programme I decided I had enough time to listen to an episode of The Goon Show that I had recorded from BBC 7 earlier in the day. So I did the usual, topping and tailing the recording to remove the before and after announcements, and then saving it to the hard disk. Having done that I lay down to listen to it. I remember getting up to fast forward over the musical interlude from Max Geldray, and then laying down again. The next thing I knew was that it was 21.40 and I had missed "Drop The Dead Donkey" totally. So I shut the PC's down and went straight to bed. I did read for 30, or maybe even more, minutes, but when I turned the light out I was asleep almost instantly.

     Today I should be getting a visit from Mick. When he came over last Thursday there was little time to show him some of my photos and videos. He also wants to pick up a spare thermo-ammeter that I have offered him (if I can find it). Later on I expect we will wander to the pub for a pint or two.
Monday 5th July 2004

05.40 BST
Weather - bright start with mostly clear sky
      This is, of course, a damn silly time to be up in the morning. Even more so when it is only 30 minutes earlier than my intended time to be awake. I have decided to go into work with Ivor this morning. This means being ready to be picked up at around 07.30. Which in turn, to avoid rushing around, means waking up at, say, 06.30. And to get my beauty sleep I should have been asleep by not much later than 22.30 last night. In fact 23.30 would have been OK. So actually getting to sleep around midnight, and then waking up at 05.30 is nothing short of madness. I should be going back to bed for a minimum of an extra hours sleep, but now I am awake I shall stay that way. By the time I come home again, after being at "work" all day, I shall be totally knackered and I'll probably have to crawl up the garden path on all fours !

       Surprisingly this is not a bad thing. Going into work with Ivor is supposed to be a means of keeping up my discipline, ready for the world of real work. You could also look at it that it is a way of resetting my body clock to my preferred hours. I do like being up early in the morning, but with no real reason to get up early it is so easy to let things slide and to start going to bed later and get up later. It happens to everybody on the dole. So a general reset back to reality is a good idea. It just means I am going to feel exhausted later in the day.

       I spent some time yesterday listening to BBC7 recordings of Sherlock Holmes. It is not the first time, but I think it is the first time I have commented on it here. I have never read any of the Sherlock Holmes stories before, but I have seen a few stories enacted on TV sometime in the distant past. I have come to the conclusion that I really quite enjoy these stories. Somehow I had expected them to be rather stuffy ( or some such similar derogatory adjective), but they really are worth listening to. Were it not for the fact that it appears that most of the stories have been covered by BBC radio plays (or readings), and hence will be rebroadcast by BBC 7, I would be tempted to get hold of, and read, the books.
Sunday 4th July 2004

07.05 BST
Weather - bright and dry, but no sunshine yet
      According to my personal computerised date tracker, Kalarm, today is just another Sunday, but I seem to recall that the yanks celebrate double burger day today, or something like that.

      Meanwhile back on planet Earth I was woken up by Nelly. I was having some sort of dream, but I can't remember what it was about. What I do seem to recall was that the dream was stuck into some sort of repetative loop where the same thing kept happening over and over again, perhaps with slight variations. I'm sure it was to do with a changing specification that kept needing more somethings, but just what those somethings were totally escapes me now I am awake. So there I was on the very verge of consciousness when I was woken up by the sound of Nelly running up the stairs, and then letting out to loud meows when she reached the top. It is the first time she has done this for the last week or two. I once had a theory that the meowing was to wake me so I could get her breakfast served up. The added clue that she had charged up the stairs first made me wonder if she had woken up startled from a nightmare. I have seen her in REM sleep before. I don't know what she dreams of, but sometimes it does involve lots of twitching and tail lashing with the claws being unsheathed from time to time. I can imagine her having nightmares after three strange men have tried to stroke her in the last few days. I now discount that theory, I think, after coming down and finding fresh evidence that she was probably wide awake and in control prior to rushing up stairs. There was a fresh, and smelly, deposit in her litter tray. So it is back to the idea that she is just saying "Where's my breakfast !".

     I do believe that the sun is finally beginning to shine. Much of yesterday was not too bad, although the wind was a little blustery from time to time. The wind seems fairly quiet at the moment. It is possible that today might be a reasonable day. I don't know for certain, but it is possible that the tennis at Wimbledon may be over today. If that is so then we can indeed look forward to some more settled weather.
Saturday 3rd July 2004

07.45 BST
Weather - overcast and windy
      This morning my head feels rather muzzy. I stayed up late when I wanted, or needed, to get an early night. Instead I got caught by the lure of what was on BBC 4 television.. There was two episodes of The Prisoner and another documentary about TV in the sixties. I have to say I enjoyed them, as indeed I enjoyed how I spent most of yesterday afternoon and early evening. That long period was spent in an orgy of listening to the whole 12 episodes of the original radio series of The Hitch Hikers Guide To The Galaxy. At just under 30 minutes an episode, that must add up to nearly 6 hours of continous listening, much of it on headphones. That is not quite how I intended to listen to it, but it is like a drug. Once you have had a taste you can't stop. Anyway, thanks to Iain for providing all 12 episodes in mp3 format on the one CD ROM.

     The weather lately has been most variable. Yesterday turned out to be a mixture of occasional sun  and some heavy showers. Probably more showers than sun. I started this entry today saying it was overcast, but the sun did pop out for a minute just now. It will probably be safer to assume that today will be little differnent to yesterday. That means it will be possible to nip out for short periods in just a t-shirt, while at other times a full sou'wester and gumboots will be required.

      I'm not sure what I will be up to today. I have a little housework to do, but after that I may go up into my workshop and do some stuff there. A trip to Tesco may be a good idea as well for sometime today.
Friday 2nd July 2004

06.15 BST
Weather - bright after overnight rain
    Scroll down a bit for a link to last nights pictures.
      Just because I only went to sleep 4 hours ago seems no excuse not to be up now and ready to report what a good night I had last night. As I mentioned yesterday, it was another old pirates get together at The Bull in Barming. As planned Mick managed to join us and much reminiscing was done. Three of us, myself, Iain and Patrick, also had a mini "blast from the past" when we popped out of the pub for an hour to first search for a suitable "transmitting site", and then set up the dummy transmitter and film it. I think it will look quite authentic even though what is supposed to be a deep wood was actually just a corner of a field with one big tree. I hope it looks nice and atmospheric as it was filmed entirely by torchlight. I also shot a few minutes of footage using the "night vision" on my little camcorder. We were quite lucky with the weather for the night. We passed through a few short showers on the way to the pub, and it rained soon after I got in this morning, but for filming there was an almost clear sky with a huge full moon that was shining brightly in totally the wrong direction to help us in a dark field.

     Back to the pub.....All the reliable regulars were there, but I was disappointed that a few more didn't come out to meet up with Mick. The most notable exceptions were KJ and Horace. For many years Mick was their transmitter engineer and I find it strange that they would not come down to buy him a pint. I'll admit it is a bit of a long journey for them, but it is peanuts compared to the journey that Mick made to be there. Later today I'll prepare a few pictures from last night and post them here. Meanwhile, now Nelly has been fed, I am going to go back to bed !
13.30 BST
Weather - changeable, sun and showers
     I have now uploaded some pictures from last night. Click HERE to see them.
Thursday 1st July 2004

06.00 BST
Weather - slightly overcast
      I didn't really want to be up this early today. Tonight I'll be attending the pub in Barming and I will be geting home fairly late. So being up so early is going to make for rather a long day. Nevertheless it should be an interesting night out. One of the highlights should be Mick. No one has seen Mick for the last 20 years so I am expecting a good turn out. Another thing that might be happening is a little filming for Patrick's documentary. Ideally he needs to film a sequence involving an FM  pirate radio transmitter in the woods after dark. Unfortunately he has chosen the wrong time of year for this with the days being so long now. We may nip out of the pub shortly before darkness falls and attempt a few minutes filming in some local wood. I wonder if anybody will volunteer to be "film stars" ?

     Prior to this evening I will have a slightly busy day. As Mick will be meeting me here, in the late afternoon, I had better try and make some of the place presentable. In between other tasks I will have to nip out and get some cash, and also check there is enough money in my bank account to pay my TV licence. The TV licence ran out yesterday so I will theoretically be breaking section 1(a) of the Wireless Telegraphy Act of 1949 if I use the TV today. I haven't done that for a good many years now !

     It has been some time now since I last recalled a dream here. Much of what I have dreamed lately has been difficult to recall, or has been so fragmentary that there was nothing much left to describe. This morning is slightly different as I can recall enough to describe some of one dream. The start is slightly confusing, but it settles down, and then sort of fades out. At the start I am standing next to a car by a large table that has some official sitting at it. I think he was some sort of customs official. I am either handed papers or given verbal permission to proceed and the car drives off leaving me behind. While the car was stationary it looked foreign - possibly a Saab. As it drives off and I give chase it has turned into something smaller and sleeker - maybe something like a Lotus Elan. On the boot lid there are three shapes that look something like knives or swords, but they are covered in brown fur. There is also a foxes head. These are supposed to represent Britain and be an insult to foreigners, particularly the French. The car is supposed to be driven by some super spy/super sleuth type character, maybe someone like James Bond or The Saint. Eventually the car stops to let me in and inside it is a woman. It takes 5 attempts to close the door properly and is very cramped inside. The woman is very good looking and has slightly short blonde hair in a very sixties style. I think her clothing is sixties as well, but it is so cramped it is dfficult to turn round to assess her better. My right arm is stretched out, although I can't remember whether it was resting on an armrest, or whether I was holding onto some sort of hand grip on the dashboard.  The woman starts to gently scratch/stroke my arm and say that "it wont be long now lover". In the dream I took this to mean that the journey would be over soon, but it might have meant something far more exciting after the journey ! It was very unpleasant during the drive. I felt very cramped in the tiny sports car, but even worse was that the windscreen seemed filthy and I could not see out properly. The area I could see out was a bit like a poor bit of back projection. The view was slightly flickery and there was a lack of saturated colour. There was colour, but it was very muted. Cars and people seemed to keep getting in the way, and with no decent vision it was hard to get a proper perspective on what they were doing. We never hit anything, or anybody, but it was very worrying. Before we reached journies end I woke up. I was quite glad to be out of the car, but I am left wondering who the woman was and what my relationship with her was. She certainly seemed very friendly, and when she said the word lover she positively purred !

Copyright - Bill 2004