Bill's online diary for March 2004
MARCH 2004
The story of one mans fight to feed his cats in the sprawling metroplis of Catford


Wednesday 31st March 2004

00.29 BST (23.29 GMT)
Weather - still mildish after a sunny day
             This has to be the earliest in the day that I have written an entry here. I did go to bed at around 8.30 last night. Initially I did some reading, but fell asleep sometime after 9pm. I was woken up by a phone call at 10pm, but quickly fell asleep again. The stuff I had been reading was a short sci-fi story by Isaac Asimov. This must have flavoured my dreams. I can't remember what I was dreaming about exactly, but it seems it must have been something to do with trading goods with the natives of another planet. What I do remember was the moment I woke up. The very last part of the dream merged with reality - well sort of. It involved "flame trousers", but these looked like a pair of pink denim jeans. They were thrown onto my bed and I was trying to pick them up to look at them. I awoke trying to pull on bits of my duvet convinced there was a pair of trousers on it. Having woken up I drunk several large mouthfuls of water (I had taken a whole pint to bed with me), and tried to go back to sleep. It was just after 11pm by then and I was feeling wide awake, and more importantly, my hangover had almost gone. I tried to get back to sleep again, but sleep would not come so I read another short story. Eventually my pint glass of water was empty and I decided that I would come down here, let Schiba in, and do some more writing. And here I am. I still don't feel sleepy, but I can't stay up all night or I really will be knackered in the morning. I think I'll upload this, check for any new e-mails, and then get back in bed. Maybe I'll read for a little while, or maybe I'll fall asleep, but at least I will have a fresh pint of water with me.
09.14 BST (08.14 GMT)
Weather - bright, mainly clear sky
            I am awake again, altough I am not washed and dressed yet. After going back to bed I did read for another hour. I then slept for a couple of hours before Schiba woke me up again. He wanted some affection, and then he wanted to go out again at 5am. After he went out I was able to sleep until 8am when an old digital watch across the other side of my room started its alarm bleeping. That provided a very small interuption to my sleep and I finally woke up at 9am. It was Nelly who provided the alarm to wake up then. For the third time ever, and all of them this spring, she let out a really loud meow. It was the sort that randy cats use in the middle of the night and wake the whole neighbourhood up with. I don't know why she does it. Normally she "speaks" in lttle squeaks, some almost silent, and one, obviously swearing, somewhat louder if I try and pick her up. The first time she did one of these extra loud meows I heard her run up the stairs. I wondered if a bird had flown into the bathroom through the open window, but there was nothing to be seen. Nelly did look a little smug as she sat there. It was if she was saying "I bet that confused you !". I have yet to actually see her make this noise, but it is rather alarming, yet whenever I go to investigate she seems perfectly normal.

          In the middle of typing that Nelly tried to leap from the window sill onto the fence. It is something that Schiba does with ease like a trained acrobat. Nelly is different. She is not a sleak athletic kind of cat. In fact she is fat ! As I predicted, her attempt at the fence ended in failure and she went crashing down to the ground. Luckily she survived intact and quickly demonstrated that two of her vital functions were still working OK. First some food, then a poo, and then a little more food. She has now slunk off to hide her embarrasment. Or maybe because the poo is really stinky ! I'm glad I have the window open right now !
Tuesday 30th March 2004

07.05 GMT (08.05 BST)
Weather - bright, mainly clear sky
           I can confirm that at 7 minutes past 6 (BST) rhe sun was just beginning to rise. I could see light through my curtains, yet it was still too dark to aim correctly when I went to the toilet (I did turn the light on before starting !). Now you may think that observation was pointless, and in a way it was, but it also serves as a personal memo and follows on from a phone discussion I had yesterday.

           Pillows - one or two ? Some time ago, maybe 6 months, I bought some brand new pillows to replace some knackered ones that were going lumpy. They were annoying in so much as they seemed the wrong thickness. I used to use two of the old lumpy ones, but found that one new one was a little too low, and yet two were too thick. So for the first few months I was just using one. After a while it seemed I had squashed it a little so I swapped it for the other. After a similar time that too seemed to get squashed down a bit. So I started using two pillows. Initially that seemed too high, but I was sleeping well. One of the apparent symptoms of the lack of height of the individual pillows was that I was getting neck ache and often waking up with a headache. You would have thought that eventually the two pillows would squash down even more, but last night I seemed to be back to the situation where the two pillows seemed too high and one pillow too low. And all that is a long winded way of saying that it feels as if there is a knot in my neck at the moment and my brain feels slightly "tight".

             During the night I had a dream involving a favourite location. I say favourite, but it is not my favourite, it is my schitzophrenic brains favourite. That place was yet another minor variation of the old BT training school at Paul St (near Old St tube station). The dream apparently started with being on an escalator which doesn't exist in reality. It seemed to be going very fast and we were almost thrown off when we got to the top and were deposited in the canteen. After some forgotten conversation it was time to go down to the classroom. This time we walked down some stairs. Once in the classroom it was like being in a photograph taken with a very short depth of field. I was among three women, who were in "sharp focus", and the rest of the class were there, but it was like they were totally out of focus and irrelevant. All three women were different, and at a guess were modelled on women I know, but in the dream they were strangers. Two of them were attractive for different reasons, and yet it was the third who I was most interested in. The one on the left had a nice friendly smile, The one on my right was both good looking and very intelligent. I can't really remember anything about the third, who was sitting behind me, yet she was the one I was trying to "chat up". She must have had something as usually I would rate both a big friendly smile, and intelligence, as being very sexy. The last thing I remember from the dream is that we were set some work on 32 bit register exercises. I think it was supposed to be about the workings of System X telephone exchanges, but it seemed to have more in common with Intel x86 microprocessors. I can remember trying to crib some information from the women on my right, the intelligent one, but ultimately I seemed to be just doodling on the paper as the dream faded into obscurity.

           It looks as if the weather forecasts were right and it is going to be a warm sunny day today. So today has to be the day to go and have a pint with Ivor at lunchtime. So I had better get under the shower and get dressed.
18.48 GMT ( 19.48 BST)
Weather - night falling after nice sunny day
           Oh man, Oh man, Oh man (as we would occasionally say 20 years ago).  I have had a good day, but I am now paying for it. I ended up doing two pub sessions today. Both were with Ivor and friends. The first was in The Herne, and the second in The Railway Telegraph. I finally came in feeling very drunk, and very happy. The booze forced me to order a ravishing indian takeaway using funds that I should not have wasted on food, but it was very, very good ! I am now full up, but my hangover is starting to feel bad. Even though it is still early I am tempted to go to bed to sleep it off. I'll probably reveal whether I succumbed to this idea tomorrow. Apart from the pain it is a shame that all days can not be like this.

           It is strange that I should think of it right now, and forget it when sober this morning, but Happy Birthday to Kevin. I think I should have said that on the 28th, but now will have to do. Maybe I'll get it right next year.
Monday 29th March 2004

07.00 GMT (08.00 BST)
Weather - cold, dry and light grey sky
           It looks as if it is going to be another grey day. Where is the spring sunshine ? I suppose we'll be having April showers next !
10.02 GMT (11.02 BST)
Weather - cold, dry and light grey sky
           I think I had writers block first thing this morning. Maybe it was the dreary grey weather that depressed me, or maybe I was just a little tired. The birds are singing away, yet the weather has not changed. I did see some encouraging news this morning. Tomorrow should be bright and almost warm. I'll believe it when I see it !

           One thing I was going to mention was that yesterday I finally heard a radio programme that I have been waiting ages for. I didn't even know from what radio series it came from. In fact it was Beyond Our Ken starring Kenneth Horne. The particular show was rebroadcast yesterday on BBC7. I'm afraid it was all a bit of an anticlimax. It was just that I could remember one of the punchlines from way back to 19th January 1964. The actual date I only found out yesterday. In point of fact it was the only tiny bit of radio dialogue I can remember from that time. Quite why I should remember that bit I am not sure. It may have been because one of my class mates, Kieth Padden if memory serves well, was able to mimic the voice better than I, and it was repeated by him a few times. I do remember listening to the radio a lot, especially around lunchtimes, and although the details are vague in the extreme I know that The Navy Lark was another show that we, as a family, would listen to. It may be that I have only heard the wrong episodes, but I do not seem to have heard an attractively funny episode of that yet. I well remember the irritating vocal whine of The Clithero Kid. I hated it then and probably hate it even more now.

           With the day fast approaching half over, I am still not sure what plans I have for today. I have had an idea for another test I could do to my dead TV set, but while I have an almost useable substitute I feel I ought to leave that alone. Two things I ought to do are to continue with my writing project and to finally fix Ivor's laptop. It is lucky that he told me that there was no rush for it. I seem to have taken him at his word over that, and yet I can't wait to get it going so that I can have a play with it !
Sunday 28th March 2004

08.12 GMT (09.12 BST)
Weather - cold, dry and light grey sky
           So the clocks have moved forward to British Summer Time. What a bore. I don't know why we can't stick to Greewich Mean Time. I mean, GMT is just so British ! So far I have three time sources correctly re-adjusted. The PC upstairs did it all by itself. The Freeview (ex-Ondigital) set top box did after listening to BBC1's data stream for a few moments, and this PC I had to do manually because the KDE desktop was not previously set to London. In a moment of madness I had it set to UTC which pretty much equates to GMT. On reflection, I suppose I will follow convention and have the clock on this PC set to current local time. I have a little alarm clock that sits just above the PC that always stays on GMT. It was a cheap, but surprising accurate clock that I bought specifically to stay on GMT. The clock in the kitchen should also be right as I left that on BST all winter. All I have to do now is correct my watch, a few clock-radios, and the odd VCR, then harmony will reign.

            I don't know what I am going to do today. I can't think of anything more I can possibly do to my TV. Although I do have a TV that could make a temporary replacement for it. It is sitting in my bedroom with a minor fault that should be easily fixable, but then again I thought the fault on my normal TV was minor and easily fixable. That TV in my bedroom is, apart from the minor fault, not that good to become a permanent replacement. The tube is just about had it causing some strange colours and soft focus. I might be able to frig it a bit more to improve matters for a short while though. I think that what I may have done today, if only the sun came out, was a bit more general tidying up and some housecleaning.  Both things I do not do lightly as anyone who has been here will attest to. Sometimes I do catch spring fever and do some of the things that should be done year round, but it needs sunshine to inspire me. At the moment I look out the window and it is just grey. It is not very warm either. In fact it is rather cold, not icy, but still unpleasantly cool.
18.00 GMT (19.00 BST)
Weather - still grey with no sun
           I can sort of repair TV's still ! I lugged the old TV down from my bedroom this afternoon. It seemed to run OK, but the picture was a bit yucky. A tweak here, and a tweak there, and after it has warmed up for a couple of minutes it is giving a pretty good picture. Alas the old fault on it is still there. After 30 to 60 minutes it briefly cuts outs, and then comes back on again. I have a good idea as to what is causing it to do this, and I will start experimenting with it soon. Unfortunately I do not have a manual for this set so I will have to rely on guesswork. Of course there is always the chance that it is something strange or sinister and I won't be able to fix it without getting hold of the circuit, is usuable even now. The brief blip outs are irritating, but at least they are short and I can live with them for a little while.

           It is really odd. The clocks have changed, it is only 18.00 in "old money", but I am feeling like it is getting near to bed time. It feels like it has been a long day, yet I have really done very little. Fiddling with the TV did not take that long, and the only other significant thing I have done is to go and buy some cat litter and do the necessary to Nelly's litter tray. Some of my feelings about it being a long day could be delayed shock. I threw out some old and treasured magazines today. I really wanted to keep them for future reference, but I know that logically they are useless. I also threw out a few old electronic bits. It is more likely the memory of that will come back to haunt me as I futiley (how do you spell that word ?) search for bits some time in the future. I feel I will be doing more of this throwing out lark. There are bits here that are in some ways irreplaceable, yet I will probably never need them again. Unless of course there are major opportunities for pirate radio in the future. Something like a huge sci-fi like disaster where there are only a handful of us survivors left to carry on the human race. A good radio station, playing rock music, would be essential in that brave new world !
Saturday 27th March 2004

10.15 GMT
Weather - cold, dry and light grey sky
          It is late, and I still feel slightly weary. I tried to have a lie in this morning, and although I did wake up late at just gone 8 O'clock, I could not manage to stay alseep for more than a couple of five minute naps. Last night I felt dog tired, but I could not get asleep early. In fact I had a bit of a fitful night. Schiba woke me up an hour or so after I first managed to get to sleep. He went out even though it was raining (his choice, I didn't force him), and I staggered back to bed for more sleep. I seemed to have several long dreams, but most of the details sem to have evaporated now. I think one was about being at university, but that may have been from the night before.

          Having remembered that much about the dream, more is coming back to me. It involved radio, the DTI, and was sort of set in the grounds of a university building. It may have been two dreams linked by some sort of comon thread. As I recall it started with myself and a couple of others (perhaps Bob Dunn was one) looking at the DTI's cars. I'm talking here about the department of the DTI responsible for radio regulation - tracking pirates etc. The cars were stored in a large building that inexplicably once held a large diesel generator. There were marks on the ceiling from the heat and fumes. We had opened up the back of one of the cars and were examining something. It was almost like we had broken into it, but Eric Gotts, a retired member of the DTI was watching us and made no attempt to stop us. He then drove off in another car saying he had a pirate to catch and we heard (somehow) that the Dean had taken over the university radio station. So off we went to investigate. The Dean, looking strangely like John Bird, had barricaded himself in the radio station and was complaining about the music the station normally played. He was playing mostly classical music interspersed with inane ranting. In the end I climbed up onto a high, narrow ledge and precariously balanced there, managed to reach through a window and cut some wire in the limiter/compressor. The dream continued from there, but I cannot recall any details from there onwards.

         It is now 12.46 and I am starving. I got caught up in a long phone conversation during the second to last sentence of the last paragraph. That is probably why the rest of the dream has evaporated into thin air.

           Yesterday it had been my intention of going for a drink lunchtime. I never did get out in the end. I had an annoying, yet not really painful, stomach ache. I blamed this on the very high fibre diet I had followed for the couple of previous days. I was convinced that sooner or later I would explode and didn't fancy doing that on a bus !! In fact it was probably more hunger than anything else. Once I realised that I definitely would not be going out I had something to eat (breakfast at 1pm). The original ache did go away, but was replaced by several hours of gurgling deep within my guts. That was followed by a slight bloated feel, but still I did not "explode". I can't say any of it was in any way painful, but it did make me aware that it could be a safe ploy to be not too far from a toilet. Today I feel OK apart from being ravenous as I have not yet eaten today. Once this is uploaded I will be off to Tesco's to get some provisions in and then make some breakfast. I'm sure there was some other stuff I was going to write, but it will have to wait until later.
23.40 GMT

           A little while I go I just finished watching the "Britains Best Sitcom" on BBC2. It was very sad (for me) that Only fools And Horses won. Had it been Britains most ignorable sitcom I would have voted for it. I would not have put Black Adder in second place either. I feel that was let down by the first series. Out of those sitcoms in the top ten I would have rated Porridge , Yes Minister/Yes Prime Minister, and Dad's Army as the top. I can't actually put them in any order so I guess I would give them equal first. The Good Life, while funny, is a little twee and only the presence of Felicity Kendal gives it my good rating. Other sitcom that should have come much higher are, in no particular order, Red Dwarf, Steptoe and Son, Waiting For God, The Young Ones, Bottom, and finally Filthy, Rich, and Catflap. Perhaps that last one would have come bottom of my list. I am sure there are a few others that I have missed. One old favourite of mine, although I don't know whether it is officially a sitcom, would be A Very Peculiar Practice. Maybe it was in the original top 100, or maybe not. I confess that I did not follow the earlier proceedings of the BBC selection process.

          In further news I spent several more hours today having another go at repairing my TV. I finally did some of the tests I should have done earlier. These tests were very slightly dangerous as they could have caused further damage to the set. On the other hand a good blow up is sometimes beneficial to the afult finding process. In repairing the damge to the blow up the original faulty component gets changed just becuase it is there. It is actually hard to explain that to a non engineer and you'll just have to take my word for it. Alas nothing happened, The power supply still just sat there whimpering. I am strongly of the opinion now that the fault is within either the transformer or the integrated circuit that controls the power supply. Both these, and in particular the former, could be difficult and/or expensive to replace. I think I am on the lookout for a cheap secondhand TV now. All I ask is for it to be bigger than 21 inches, have teletext, a reasonable tube, and one or more scart inputs. Appearance is no problem, and I don't need stereo. Any offers ?
Friday 26th March 2004

06.55 GMT
Weather - cold, dry and light grey sky
          It has been a long while since I've been up this early. I think that maybe it is too early as I can't stop yawning !

           The weather forecast suggested that today would be brighter and drier than yesterday, yet it looks a pretty similar start to yesterday which was a mixture of everything. It would be nice if the sun came out today for some longer periods than the few short intervals it managed yesterday. I should be going over to have a pint with Ivor lunchtime and I have this masochistic idea of walking part of the way. It is possible that I may stay in instead. I have been eating a few very high fibre meals of late, and these have been having a disastrous effect on my digestive system. I won't go into details. It will suffice to say that yesterday I had to run up the stairs at very short notice ! You could say the bottom fell out of my world, but it would be more accurate to transpose two of the words in that saying.

          It felt like I had a busy day yesterday, but I achieved very little. I went out in the morning to get some cash out and thought I would check the balance of my building society accounts. In the end I couldn't as I have forgotten the pin numbers for the cards. So I had to call the building societies to arrange for new pin numbers to be sent through. I also called my bank to get them to change my account type. Some years back it mysteriously changed to a Super Premier account (or somthing) where they paid me a miniscule amount of interest and gave me loads of free, but irrelevant services (false teeth repair and lubrication, free medical care after death etc). The proviso was that I should have £500 paid into my account every month. Being "between jobs" that is obviously not happening and they were going to charge me £5 a month to stay on the scheme. So I have reverted back to my old account type - free, but I don't earn the 47p interest per year ! Another chore was to call into the job centre to pick up the forms to claim council tax benefit. I got there just before 10.00 to find they were not open. There were two notices, one either side of the entrance door. The one on the right said they were open at 09.00, while the one on the left said 10.00, but only on a Thurday. As I only had 10 minutes to wait I went round the corner to the Aldi supermarket and bought 3 bottles of their cheap (25p), but acceptable diet cola substitute. I went back to the job centre to find it still closed and with an ambulance outside. I never did find out why, but I assume some member of staff had some sort of mishap. I waited and finally the ambulance men came out, but without a body. So the casualty must have been put back together again and no further treatment was required. There were hordes of people waiting outside by the time the doors opened. I ended up at around 3/4 of the way down the queue, but strangely I managed to be second in line at the reception desk. I got my form and went back home rather later than I imagined I would.

         I still have not filled in that form, but I will this morning, I spent a lot of the afternoon writing a snail-mail letter to my old mate Mick Gaskin. There was also a bit of time selecting and printing off a few photos for him. I am trying to lure him back to London (from Cornwall) to attend a meeting in about 6 months time. All that, plus a few longish phonecalls, seemed to take all afternoon. So I still have a lot to do, and yet I am liable to fritter the time away in the pub lunchtime, and then come back home too intoxicated to do anything serious until later in the evening. What a life !
Thursday 25th March 2004

07.50 GMT
Weather - cold, dry and light grey sky
          After writing yesterdays words, and making sure the cats were happy, I did go back to bed and managed to grab an extra hours sleep. It did help a bit, and I did feel sort of OK. By midday Bob had picked Howard and myself up and we were heading over to Hainault to get Nigel. We went to a pleasant pub that is Nigel's local. It was called The Camelot. I had been there a couple of times a long time ago, but fortunately it has not changed for the worse since becoming part of The Beefeater chain. I haven't seen Nigel for 3 months, but little has changed with him apart from his beard being even fuller and definately looking more "mad mullah" like. It was the first time Bob had seen him for something like 20 years, but they had no problem recognising each other.

          We had 4 drinks in the pub. Mine was 3 pints of beer and one short. After the pub we went back to Nigels flat. I have never seen Nigel's flat before. He moved there from his previous place about 3 years ago. It is in a mini (micro ?) tower block just 3 stories high. He is on the top floor, but it is not high enough to give any spectacular views. The flat itself was fairly good. I liked the building design in that each flat had no adjoining walls with any other. That must be good from a peace and quiet perspective, although either the floor and/or ceiling could be a direct conduit for noise.

          I got home at around 6pm, and felt totally knackered. It was part lack of sleep the previous night, and part starvation. I had gone out without any breakfast. Once I had fed the cats I made myself some food. I really wanted a huge curry, or large kebab with extra chips, but I settled for a vegetable stew with some Thai spices in it. Strangely it was a low calorie, low carbohydrate, and almost zero fat meal. It was exactly the recipe that if eaten everyday would enable me to be many stones lighter by the time of the next Maidstone drink. It would be nice to be able to keep it up for a few days, but there are so many temptations and little reward for doing so. Besides which I have several items in my feezer that, sooner or later, will have to be consumed and are not low everything ! So I doubt there will be any significant change in me at the next Maidstone meeting.

         This morning I have to sort out my council tax. It is one form of stress that could see me yearning for a mind numbingly huge chinese takeaway and chocolate ice cream. I hope I can sort it all out without resorting to high calorie forms of "prozac". I just hate official beaurocracy, paperwork and red tape. The forms are all written in plain English and have probably won awards from the plain English society, or whatever they are called. They are now so simple and easy to understand that there is no additional information to help you when you don't understand a part of it. The worst bit is the searching questions about the value of your assets, and in particular declaring the value of any shares you have. There are no guidelines as to what they mean by the value of shares. Do they mean how much you paid for them, the original value of the shares or today's market value ? (which could be totally different to yesterdays, or tomorrows market value).

         Aside from red tape, I have two snail mail letters to write, my writing project, my TV to repair, and Ivor's laptop still to fix. It could be a busy day if I did all of that, but I still feel knackered after yesterday. So I doubt I'll get that much done. I'd prefer, but can't afford, another session in the pub lunchtime !
Wednesday 24th March 2004

07.25 GMT
Weather - damp, cloudy
          I should definitely not be up at this time. I had a very good session with Kevin in The Ram last night, and we were gossipping outside for a long while. Once I got in I downloaded my e-mail and was writing a reply until 01.40. I then watched a whole episode of "Enterprise" on channel 4, and finally went to sleep at something like 03.00. So I have only had some 4 hours of sleep. I think I'll be going back to bed soon, but I have to be up, washed and dressed before 11.00 as I am being picked up by Bob and together with Howard we are going over to have a few pints with Nigel.
Tuesday 23rd March 2004

07.43 GMT
Weather - rather grey
          I appear to be 3 minutes late compared to yesterday, but considering this is done without the aid of an alarm clock, I think it is remarkably consistent. I think I had a good nights sleep last night, although at some point I think I got up to let Schiba out. There is one thing that confuses me - snot ! When you're ill, and your nose is running like a tap, you can go to sleep and it seems to stop running once you have your eyes shut. If it didn't stop you would wake up in the morning afloat on the stuff. Right now I am not ill, and my nose is not dripping, and if you don't produce copious quantities of snot when asleep, how come this morning, and many others, I woke up with both nostrils full of the stuff ? Just another one of lifes strange mysteries.

           The plan for today is to go and sign on and to get the paperwork to claim for my council tax benefit. Once home again , with catfood from the supermarket, I ought to fill in the blasted forms. After that there are two things I really ought to do. Both have a fairly high priority and one is holding up the other. Most important is repairing my bloody TV. I haven't touched it in nearly a week after getting frustrated with getting nowhere with it. With the prospect of a very important visitor in as little as a few weeks time (perhaps as much as 6 weeks) I ought to try and get it done so that I can get it out of the middle of the living room and make room for some serious cleaning/tidying in there. Once I have done that, and hopefully restored my confidence as an engineer, I can then knuckle down on Ivor's laptop. That is important as it should provide some "drinking vouchers" when done. What I really want to do is to continue "remastering" some old radio tapes. I have done a couple of interesting ones recently including KJ's first ever RFL show where he used the name Alan Thomsette. That required quite a lot of work as his levels were all over the place. That, and some classic cock-ups, were probably the reason why he was told to go off and practice for several months before returning as Kid Johnson.
Monday 22nd March 2004

07.40 GMT
Weather - sunny intervals
          Another day of waking up to sunshine. I like it ! It is still cool outside, and for the last few days the weather has been variable with some hours of sun, and some hours of occasional drizzle or rain from a grey sky. There have also been the traditional March winds. I can't really tell how the day will turn out today. I expect it will be like the previous couple of days where there has been a bit of everything.

       Last night I had a good sleep that was only spoiled by Schiba wanting to go out at 0400. I remember a few fragments of dream. In one fragment I was climbing up a 20 ft high cliff face. The cliff face was, to all intents and purposes, totally vertical, but it was composed of a strange variety of sand. I was able to kick into it to make footholds, and thrust my hand into it to make handholds. In that respect it was very soft, but it was still able to take my weight as I climbed up it. I can't remember what came before the climb, and I can't remember what was at the top. My last memory was reaching up to pull myself over the top edge.

           In another bit of dream I was looking through a window from my kitchen into the room I am in at the moment. In reality there is just a door between the two rooms, but in the dream there was a window of the type you see in recording studios. As I looked I could see a large mouse, or small rat, and a small mouse eating from the cats food plates. I tried to find Schiba, but could only find Nelly. She chased the rodents but was not quick enough to catch them. I knew that if Schiba was there he would not only be able to catch them, but would dispose of them as well.

         The last fragment of dream is rather strange in that nothing much really happened. Instead there was a strong sort of idea that something was going to happen. I was either going to watch, or film, or even take part in a porno film. There was a bath tub filled with foamy water and some equipment. Most significant of the equipment was a device with a mirror attached to a spindle sticking out the top of it. I don't know whether this was to scan an area for some sort of 3D filming or to project some sort of 3D image. It seems curious that my brain should invent such a device yet, at the same time, the dream did not progress in any physical sense because I was puzzling over what the thing was. You could draw two conclusions from this. One, that I have a schitzophrenic brain. Two, that I am more interested in gadgets than sex. My conclusion is that I am disappointed there was no sex in the dream !

          I have been feeling rather stodgy lately, and with increased amounts of sunshine lately I am tempted to try and lose some weight again. I don't really know when I'll start, or even how long I'll continue doing trying. It will be a snap decision some day, and then I'll stick to it until something comes along to piss me off. I should have started last week when I was all buzzing and happy, but that has now worn off and things are a little dull again. It doesn't feel like the right time to add the misery of starvation to a somewhat bland day.
Sunday 21st March 2004

07.30 GMT
Weather - sunny
          Yesterday afternoon, and into the early evening there were some serious gales blowing. By then the drizzle, that was the main feature of the morning, had stopped. Today it appears to be spring again. The wind seems light and there is only about 50% cloud in the sky. As I write this the sun is out.

        I spent a considerable time in the studio yesterday. I managed to copy several old radio programmes into the PC and remaster them. One of them needed a lot of care to restore, and possibly sounds better now than when it was originally transmitted back in 1973. I really like doing that sort of stuff, but it has its downside. Waiting for things to happen can be quite boring, and it can some times be most frustrating when you come to a part of a show that you know no amount of tender loving care will make it better. The sort of things I am talking about are when the part of the tape itself is damaged, or bits have been erased. In one instance I was able to invisibly cut out a whole verse of a song, but often there is no option but to have some sort of jump, or hiccup, left in the restored programme.

         By the evening I decided I ought to relax a bit. Bizzarely this meant doing pretty much the same thing. I have recorded a 17 part narration of John Wyndham's "The Day Of The Triffids" from BBC7. This arrives in digital format from the Psion Wavefinder D.A.B. receiver. So I don't need to do any restoration, the BBC have already done it for us, but I do like to top-and-tail the recording to leave just the programme itself before saving it back to the hard disk. Having cut off the extraneous announcements etc at the beginning and end I then amplify it by 3dB (it seems possible that D.A.B. only uses 15 bits instead of the 16 of the PC, but that may be pure misinterpretation on my part). Finally I convert it from mono to stereo. There is no real need to do that last part except that I once came across an mp3 player that would not play mono files. All that preperation takes about 10 minutes. I think I prepared and listened to 5 parts last night (each episode being just under 30 minutes). I did some on previous days, and last night I finished on episode 12. I have to say it is very good. I thought I had read the original book, but now I am not so sure. There is a lot, mainly at the beginning, that I did not remember. It is likely that all I had previously known about the book came from TV. I think there was a TV series made once, and there was definitely a film. This radio series is read directly from the book, and read very well. I am quite gripped by it, and I know that I will spend several hours today listening to the rest.

         The last episode of Day Of The Triffids was broadcast over a week ago. The series now being broadcast is The Kraken Awakes. I think I read that while in hospital under observation for suspected appendicitus when I was about 12. I can't really remember anything about it except that, at the time, it was very heavy going. I may not have even have finished it. So I am looking forward to hearing the series being broadcast now. If it is read to the same high standard as The Day Of The Triffids I will be well pleased. Tonight there is the next episode of Journey Into Space. Another serial that I am totally hooked on. It is a Sundays only series so I am listening to that episode by episode as each is transmitted.
Saturday 20th March 2004

08.15 GMT
Weather - occasional drizzle
           I really must start getting to bed earlier. Just recently I have been waking up as the sun rises (not that there is any visible sun today). This is an entirely natural, and desirable situation, but to enjoy it to the most it does mean that I should be sleeping earlier. Although having said that, there is also the fact that with increased exposure to sunlight, as winter finally loses its grip, I seem to need less sleep. Of course all this is in the mind, my mind, and is probably meaningless in a wider context. Despite that, I am going to try and get to sleep earlier in the coming days, and start getting up earlier. It well may be that the reason that I was judged to have a less aged appearance at Thursday nights dring, was that I tend to try and get 8 hours sleep most nights. There are a few valid reasons for "burning the candle at both ends". One of them is best illustrated by the idea that the person who was judged to have aged beyond earlier recognition is also known as the most lecherous. Beyond that I shall say nothing.

         Yesterday I spent in a lazy, yet also productive way. I have re-started "remastering" old radio programme tapes. By this I mean I play the old tapes, cassettes again at the moment, into the PC and clean them up in any way that seems appropriate. I then save them as an mp3 file so I can store them on recordable CD ROM, or even DVD ROM. Many of those old tapes are fragile, and were often recorded with strange azimuth settings. Some were in mono and all them are recorded at varying volume settings. Using the wonders of modern PC editing I can now standardize the recordings in the best attainable quality. I am mindful that the longevity of CDR/DVDR disks is an unknown quantity, and that they well become unreadable in anything from 2 to 100 years. So I am preserving the old tapes, some of which go back 33 years, knowing that they may still be playable in another 30 years or more. The last time I did this I was doing it for weeks. I had to stop because I was becoming too depressed. Those old programmes brought back so many happy, really happy, memories of times that can never be repeated, and I was slowly being sucked into the past and the present felt so empty by comparison.

         Since then some things have happened that make me more satisfied with the present. It probably started with assisting Patrick with some parts of his documentary. We were actually recreating the past and it was fun to do so. But more recently the two get togethers that it seems I arranged in Maidstone, have made me feel very happy - particularly the second and most recent. It is tempting to just say that those were just a case of reliving the past, but it is much, much more than that. As well as remembering the past, there was also talk of the present and future. It really lifts my spirits to be in the middle of such positive and vibrant thinking. I think it is a signifant fact that all these people who have stood the test of time and can come together again in such a happy environment do not hate. I use hate as a sort of collective word for all sorts of negative emotions. These people are in stark contrast to some others who I no longer wish to associate with. Their sad lives seem to revolve around hate, and nights in the pub with them would just be and endless round of who they had ripped off, how many cars they had cut up, how many petrol station attendants they had had a "shout up" with, and how the BNP/National Front was a valid political partywith good policies.

         So, on with today. My first acts this morning revolve around the cats (as they often seem to). I need to go and buy more catfood (never ending story), and I also need to deal with someyhing a little unpleasant. I think it was Nelly who coughed up a big soggy, bilious fur ball right in the middle of my favourite end of the settee. It was only a week (maybe 2) ago that I put clean throws on the chairs after a similar event (but I think that was Schiba). These throws are so big that I can effectively wash and dry one at a time. I have only done that to two of the three from last time. It is looking like the unwashed throw is going to have to be pressed back into service to preserve the matching on all three chairs/settee.

P.S. anyone who noticed one of the pictures in yesterdays entry had the wrong caption (hover your mouse over them) will be glad to know that has been corrected.
Friday 19th March 2004

06.00 GMT
Weather - cold, dry & grey sky
         You may wonder what I am doing up so early. Well so do I ! Last night I had a terrific night. The old gits meeting went off far better than I thought possible. There were many more people in attendance, although KJ and The Bandit did not turn up. The highlight for me, and for many others, was Pam being there. We had not seen her for 20, or more years - for some even longer still. I recognised her within seconds, and she recognised me in about the same time. In a bizarre way she did not recognise her ex-husband, Ivor, at all until they were re-introduced (although Ivor recognised her pretty quickly). I was really pleased (is that the right word ?) when she ran up to me and we had a good hug. ( Well that's half a long term fantasy fulfilled !) The whole night she was bubbling with enthusiasm and really happy to be reunited with so many long lost friends. That was a real boost to what was already a happy drink up. I was complimented that I had hardly seemed to have aged at all, and I was more than happy to return the compliment. I think the general opinion was that Pam, Roger and myself were the least affected by the ravages of the passing of time.

          I came away from there feeling really, really happy. I was still buzzing when I got home and didn't feel tired at all. By 1am this morning the drink was beginning to take it's toll and I decided that sleep may have been a good idea after all. Well, 5 hours later and I am awake again and still buzzing. Now I've taken a couple of aspirins I may go back to bed for some more sleep, but I still feel more awake than I did when I got up yesterday.

       Later on today I will add some pictures to this account. I'll have to choose the best and edit/crop them to size before I can upload them. But before I go I must thank : Ivor for the lift there. Bob for very generously taking Howard and myself home afterwards. Fran and Pam for hugs. And all those who bought me drinks.
09.38 GMT
Weather - very windy and drizzle
            As promised, here are some pictures from last night.
Ivor, Andy and Pam
HowardRoger, Ivor & Kevin
Kevin, Brian, Elaine, Kathy & Fran
Thursday 18th March 2004

07.54 GMT
Weather - overcast. cool. 10° C
         I feel riddled with sleep still. My eyes feel gummy and my joints feel stiff. I am also still yawning. I am sure I have had 7 hours of sleep, but it was broken by an annoying pussy cat wanting to go out at some unearthly time - I think it was around 3am. One thing I am definitely suffering from is a stiff/painful shoulder blade. It started after I came back from a trip to the supermarket yesterday. The centre of the pain is roughly half way between my right arm pit and my spine. For a little while yesterday it was so sore that even deep breathing, while in some positions, would be enough to aggravate it. I am tempted to think it is some sort of athritus. What I did notice was that sometime in the early afternoon I sat down on the settee slightly hard, and/or slightly awkwardly and I received a pretty strong bolt of pain from it. Since then it has slowly improved. It was if I had freed a stuck joint or something. This morning it is still slightly sore when stretching in some directions, but mostly it is ignorable.

        I had a strange thing happen to me yesterday. I was under the shower and doing two things at once. Firstly I was putting on some shower gel. Secondly I was thinking about a new program I have installed on this linux box. The program is called Scribus, and is a desktop publishing application. I tried it briefly a few months ago, but lost it when I re-installed everything. I decided to re-install it as I now have a definite use in mind. I have never used a DTP program before so much of it is unfamiliar to me. During some experiments I tried importing some pictures into it, but it didn't work. So there I was in the shower thinking about Scribus and what I was doing wrong. For a few moments I was so engrossed with my thoughts that I became oblivious to what I was doing. After those few moments I "came to" and was stunned to find that I had soaped myself all over, and couldn't remember doing it ! I guess this is true absent mindism. I must have lost so many braincells that I can only assign awareness to foreground tasks.It probably won't be long before I just sit in the corner, dribbling, while endlessly recounting the same old stories about what I did in the war................

       I have recently re-installed two programs on this linux box. One, Scribus, I have already discussed. I have made some progress on it. I managed to design a complete page of garbage that looked as if it had some purpose in life. It will be some time before I am really ready to commit to using it for something serious. The other program was Audacity. This is a sound editing program with a similar set of facilities to Syntrillium's Cool Edit Pro. Once again I had played with it some time ago, but decided to give it another try. It is hard working with a new interface, and with tools that are similar, but not quite the same as I am used to. It will need more practice, but I have successfully edited one radio programme on it. There are two issues that I am having difficulty with. First is the normalise function. It seems to be fixed at -3dB, while I usually use -0.5dB. I can overcome that by first normalising to -3dB, and then boosting the gain by 2.5dB, but it is a messy way of doing it. The second problem is that there is no easy way of converting a mono recording to stereo. I am used to doing it with one click (in fact there is a keyboard shortcut - F11) on Cool Edit, but using Audacity I am not even sure it is possible, although it must be. I think I would have to duplicate the track and then use some sort of mixing to to mix it down to a new stero recording. Once again very messy and involving actions I don't know how to use yet.

        Tonight is the night for the second "old comrades" drink in Barming (near Maidstone). Although primarily just a drink for the sake of it. There will also be a very minor celebration, or perhaps commiseration as well. The timing will be out by one day (late), but last night was the 31st anniversary of the start of the RFL FM service ( as we know it). It certainly shocked Ivor when I mentioned it to him. Reminding him it was 31 years ago that he drove myself and Pam over to East London to meet up with Richard where we broadcast the first programmes from Richards new, but not yet moved into, house. It is enough to make you feel old !
Wednesday 17th March 2004

05.44 GMT
Weather - clear sky, sun just rising
            This seems a very early time to be up and writing stuff. I have been harassed to feed a certain pussy cat ! Several times Schiba came to see me while I was sleeping, and it is hard to ignore an ultra friendly cat. Poor thing must have been starving, yet he has gone out now leaving some food on his plate - and it was not a large portion to start with. Anyway, he has gone out, and I am going back to bed !
07.44 GMT
Weather - dry with potential for sunshine
           Up again, but I still feel tired. I did get back to sleep, but it was really poor quality sleep. I don't think I could get comfortable and I seemed to be dreaming short dreams all the time. Most dreams seemed to be short abstract dreams with no continuity. First I was here and then I was there. People would drift into the dreams and drift out again. I can only remember enough detail to describe one or two snippets of dreams.

      In one dream I went onto the platform of a railway station. The platform was on a sharp curve, and I think it may have been on a viaduct. A strange train pulled in which was going to Liverpool Street. The outline fom the front was the same as class 207 "Thumper", but the windows along the side were more like that of a class 306. It was definitely a diesel powered train, like a "Thumper", but it was also definitely running underneath the 25Kv wires that usually power trains into Liverpool Street. It was also painted green. That dream seemed to end as soon as the train pulled in. I'd guess in dream time it lasted for no more than a couple of minutes, and in real time it was probably over in a few seconds.

         Another dream was about my house. I seemed be living somewhere else as the layout seemed unfamiliar, yet the fixtures and fittings were familiar. For instance the toilet bowl was the same as here, but had moved 2 feet along the wall. When I think about it, the layout of the house had more in common with my Mum's old house, but only slightly. This dream, or at least the setting for it, must have lasted a fair time because I remeber several things happening in it. I discovered that Marion was dossing down at my place again by almost stepping on her as I went into the living room. She had laid out a bed on the floor and I, apparently, wandered into the living room in the semi darkness of early morning. Once she woke up she started acting like Schiba did this morning. Not as a cat, but the same ultra friendlyness as she tried to persuade me to let her stay. We were sitting on the settee and she was snuggling up to me and rubbing around me like a cat in an attempt to win me over. And just like a cat, when she had what she wanted she went all cold and distant again. I suppose "cold and distant" is not quite the right phrase, but it is the best I can think of on the spur of the moment. After that I went up to my bedroom which should have been on a third floor. I think Marion followed me up the stairs, but the stairs came out at street level. At least I think they did. The dream could have changed at this point. I think I might have gone into my bedroom, but it had double doors, like french windows, at the end, and it may have been these that opened out onto a back street.  Marion was definitely with me at this point as she remarked how useful it was to be so close to the rear entrance of the London Victoria Hospital. As to why it was so useful, I will never know, as that dream sequence ended there.

         I finally woke up with a screaming headache. It seems to have responded to some paracetamol, but initially it was almost migraine like. I suspect it came from the really rough sleep I got. I may have been tossing and turning and generally thrashing about, but Nelly who had followed me up to bed after her breakfast seemed to stay put all the time I was in bed. So maybe I was actually stationary while sleeping.

          As I have been writing this the sky has been clearing and the sun is now breaking through. It would be pleasant to have another day like yesterday. At first the day started out a bit grey, but like today the sun eventually broke through and the temperature soared to a heady 15 or 16 degrees. It really felt like spring was finally here. If today is a repeat of yesterday then I think I will allow myself to think that spring really is here !

         Last night, at Tony's suggestion, I had a look on the internet for faults pertaining to my broken TV set. It uses a fairly rare chassis so I was surprised to find some useful information. I got the impression that others think like I do, that it is a reliable design, and that faults, when they do occur, tend to be rather obscure. One thing I saw mentioned a couple of times was the control that sets the working voltage. Apparently it can test OK, but still fail when actually in use. This would actually tie in with some of my observations. I did suspect it at one point, but a cold check on it came out perfectly. Maybe today I will change it and see what happens.
Tuesday 16th March 2004

07.05 GMT
Weather - grey, damp and cool
          My mind is a blank and I can't think what to say. I am only really up at this time to feed the cats. Nelly came up to my room to say she was hungry. So I came down, let Schiba in, and prepared two plates of food. Nelly thought hers was OK, but Schiba turned his nose up at it. He went straight out again to look for a takeaway ! I have had slightly less than 7 hours sleep so I may go back to bed for the last hour. Then again, I may not.
Monday 15th March 2004

07.45 GMT
Weather - blue sky, sun, mild
           As I sit here wearing nothing but a pair of underpants, and with the window open (there is a cat half in, and half out), I come to the conclusion that it is not freezing outside. Mind you, I am still warm after baking in bed all night. As I lose some of that heat I am beginning to think that closing the window may be a good idea. On the other hand there is some old catfood in the kitchen rubbish bin that has gone off and is stinking. So the fresh air is rather nice. I know what my first priority is when I get dressed !

          Once I have emptied the rubbish bin I have several alternative ways of passing the time today. There is my writing project, and Ivor's laptop to repair.  I dont think I will be doing anymore to my own TV. I managed several hours of TV watching last night, but when I tried putting the TV into standby it started it's clicking again. So I turned it off completely and went to get on with some other stuff. Out of curiosity I tried it just before I went to bed. It came on good as gold ! I hope it will start up OK this morning, and then again this evening in time to watch "Enterprise" on Sky 1.
21.00 GMT
Weather - still mild, but slightly damp
           Damn and blast ! My TV did not start up this morning. I have just had to watch "Enterprise" on a small 14 inch TV. I did spend another hour fiddling with the dead TV, but I still cannot fathom out what is wrong with it. I have now despaired of conventional fault finding and resorted to just changing bits piece by piece (but only where I have suitable replacements available). there are one or two bit where finding replacements will be tricky. There is an intergrated circuit involved that I hope is not the cause of all the aggro because it may well be almost impossible to find a replacement now.

          The rest of today I have spent partly on the phone (2 hours ! - lucky it was not on my bill !), doing some writing, and finally listening to, and editing some off air recordings (The Goon Show and Beyond Our Ken). Oh, and I popped along to do a little shopping in Aldi. As far as the writing goes, I have now written two appendices, totalling 3 pages, but have not concluded the last chapter I woas working on. I would really like to get the booklet finished, but I am happier doing it in small installments, and I probably make less mistakes that way as well.
Sunday 14th March 2004

08.35 GMT
Weather - grey sky, damp, but milder
          I didn't really want to get up this morning knowing that I am going to have to face my TV again. If I don't fix it today I am not sure what I am going to do. It is taking up far too much time that I could better spend doing other things. For all that I seem to be up earlier than yesterday, or even the last few days.

         When I first woke up I saw that my clock radio said 3:33. Is that significant ? It is half 666, but also one third 999. Perhaps it means my TV is posessed by the devil and it will pin me to the floor and I'll have to dial 999. More likely it means I am the devil and I will be poking the TV with my hot soldering iron again. It's all bullshit, of course, but the second idea is the better one.

         Before TV bashing time I have one important errand to run. I have run out of washing powder and will have to go get some more. I am running out of clean clothes ! I expect the cats would like me to get in more catfood as well.

       Finally, talking of cats, I never mentioned the conclusion to the problem that Nelly had last Sunday. It was a small abscess that she had. It subsequently burst and appears to have dried up and healed OK. She is still on her diet (just), but does not appear to have lost any weight and so still cannot clean her bottom properly. I hope that with spring now very close, and the subsequent milder days that will mean, I will be able to persuade her to go out more and climb a few more fences. She has always been an indoor cat who lounges around all day, so it is not surprising that she is very "lardy". I doubt I can really change her behaviour that much, but I'll give it a try.
18.00 GMT

          Shhhhh ! I'm watching TV ! I can't honestly say that I found any particular fault on my TV, but it is working for the moment. What did make a difference was changing the "chopper" transistor in the power supply. It was as if the original one was oscillating at some high radio frequency. I have no idea why that should happen, but changing has made things more stable. However 5 minutes after I started watching the set there appeared a sort of twitching and shimmering. 5 minutes after that it stopped and everything has been OK since. Now I dare not turn it off until I have watched all I want to watch today. There is a flaw in that idea in that I do not want to leave the set unattended for any length of time because I am convinced there is still some underlying fault that will cause the set to start operating in a potentially dangerous way. However if it behaves for the next few days I will be inclined to just leave it alone.
Saturday 13th March 2004

09.43 GMT
Weather - overcast, but brightish.
            Today I have to steel myself for taking the back off the TV again. I tried it from cold first thing this morning and it didn't want to come on. I just hope that replacing the third capacitor in the power supply will cure the problem. I am not really set up for faultfinding here. If I had a large bench with plenty of working space it would not be too bad, but working on the set almost in situ is just too difficult to do any serious fault finding. Yet maybe that is what I will have to do if worst comes to worst. (That is a peculiar phrase - more easily spoken off the cuff than written down).

          Once the TV is repaired I can carry on with repairing Ivor's laptop and writing my booklet. I want to finish both by next Thursday.
20.15 GMT
Weather -  dark and damp
           Oh woe is me !  To think I once used to be a TV engineer, and now I can't even fix my own set. It is a most strange sort of fault. Many symptoms seem contradictory, but after so many false starts I am increasingly thinking it is some sort of dry joint. I have had the set working many times today, but each time I put the back on and shove it back into the corner of the room it fails again. Tomorrow I will have another go. Until then any programme I want to watch will have to be seen upstairs in the studio. This is one time I thank the fact that there is usually bugger all on TV on a Saturday night !
Friday 12th March 2004

21.51 GMT
Weather - cold and occasional rain
          Today has been one of minor calamities. Nothing too serious, but annoying anyway. It started when I was washing my hair first thing this morning. I managed to get a soapy hair or eyelid in my right eye. It stung like blazes, and even this evening my eye is just slightly sore.

           The next catastrophe happened this evening, although the roots of it go back a couple of days. I noticed that my TV would not go into standby yesterday, or even the day before that. After pushing the standby botton on the remote control the picture would go off, but the set would still be making a ticking noise. So I hit the main on/off button and left it like that. The next morning I turned the set on and it came up perfectly, and I forgot about the fault from the day before. This afternoon I watched some TV and then tried to put the set into standby and once again it started ticking. So once again I turned the main power off and left it like that. This evening I wanted to watch something (anything !) and turned the power on, but the set would not start. "Bugger !" was my first thought. I know, or thought I knew, what was likely to be wrong with it. It is probably a capacitor in the power supply, in fact it probably still is. I took the back off and replaced both likely looking capacitors and ignored a third that I thought was not likely to be the culprit. Upon turning the set on it sprang to life as good as gold. So I watched a programme about the search for The Nile and then hit the standby button on the remote. Once again the set did not go into proper standby, but started ticking again. Bugger ! Bugger ! Bugger!  I am not taking the back off again tonight, but I guess tomorrow I will have to replace that third capacitor.

          In other news from today I have been installing more stuff on this Linux PC. Several slightly useful programs installed and work OK, but I seem to have killed mplayer. I think I have tried to modify it a bit too much. I hope that if I uninstall everything I installed to do with mplayer, and then re-install the default application it will start working again. It is not my preferred multimedia player, but it does have the occasional use so I had better try and get it working.

          I have had some more Aunt Bessies roast potatoes. It is hard to imagine that they were the same thing as the horrible ones I have had previously (see moan yesterday). Today I cooked them under a couple of quarter pounder beef burgers. ( I actually started with just the potatoes and then put the burgers on top during the last 25 minutes of cooking). Today they actually tasted quite nice. Were they from a different batch, or was it the dripping from the burgers that made all the difference ?  Whatever it was, I was most relieved that they tasted nice.

          Finally a word about yesterday. I was fortunate that Iain popped over and gave me a lift to the pub. It was because Ivor was too busy to get out at his normal time and Iain wanted to go for a drink there and then. It was a long session. I was picked up at around 1pm and did not get home until 6pm. Somehow I only managed to get through 3 pints of Kronenberg and one large scotch and Coke. I was drinking fairly slowly because I had some tummy trouble. I had to use the toilet in the pub twice to try and get more comfortable - and it didn't stop when I came home ! Once I was reasonably comfortable it was a pleasant drink, and I got a lift home again.
Thursday 11th March 2004

09.15 GMT
Weather - cold and sunny
           I was too tired to write anything when I first got up so I am writing this now. Actually I had better come clean. I did get up at 05.00, but it was only to give Schiba some breakfast and to let him out. I then went back to sleep and didn't wake up until 15 minutes ago. I had a very late night after drinking beer, watching "Drop The Dead Donkey" and then watching a recording of "The Bill". The drinking beer was with Kevin at our mostly usual Wednesday night visit to The Ram. The lunchtime drink with Ivor and Iain never materialised, although it could happen today.

         So plans for today..... Being Thursday it is New Scientist day. So I had better get out soon and draw a little money from my dwindling bank account. Buy New Scientist and then nip round to the cheap and not-that-nasty Aldi supermarket and buy some cheap diet coke substitute and some more catfood.

          Before I leave and enter the wild commercial world of catfood buying I must tell a cautionary tale. Aunt Bessie's roast potatoes........ These are currently on a buy one, get one free offer in Tesco's. Avoid them ! They are not very nice. I have tried them in the past and been disappointed, but I did wonder if I had undercoooked them or something. Well last night I thought I would make sure I cooked them well. After a bit of fierce heat to brown the outside I left them on a slow heat while I went to the pub. When I came home they looked wonderful. The outside had gone very crispy, and that crispyness had penetrated a long way in.  Many people of a delicate disposition would say that they were overcooked, but they were done just the way I like them. Unfortunately they were still horrible ! I can only conclude that they are impregnated with second hand sump oil or something. There is no way that potato could taste so unpleasant on it's own. It must be the oil/fat they use.  Sadly I still have the other bag to get through. I will try and think of another way of cooking them. Maybe if I boiled them for a few minutes it might remove some of the unpleasant taste. Some day I'll report how I got on with them.
Wednesday 10th March 2004

08.00 GMT
Weather - snow !
        A few minutes ago there was some snow falling from the sky, but it seems to have stopped now. In fact the sky seems to be getting brighter as if the sun could come out. I cannot see a single snowflake settled on the ground, but there are some damp spots where it has fallen.

        Yesterday I felt a little yucky. I thought that I may have been coming down with a cold, but there is no sign of it this morning. I had wanted to do more of my writing project. I did one tiny little bit to it, but I could not stump up enough enthusiasm to carry on. I must try and do a little more today so that I can show it to Ivor and Iain. There is a very loose plan that they will come over here this lunchtime for a drink in The Ram. I'll believe it when I see it !

        Three more snowflakes have just drifted by my window (and the sun is now weakly shining).
Tuesday 9th March 2004

11.00 GMT
Weather - Bright with icy wind
         You may have thought that I have had a lay in this morning. I would have liked to have done so, but I was actually up at 07.30. More than that, I was washed and dressed by 08.00. This morning I had to sign on at the Job Centre. That was OK apart from one thing. I was told off for using a blue pen. The same pen I have been using there for the last 12 months ! Apparently I should sign my name in black ink. Personally I think it was just a whimsy of a crotchety old woman who I have never seen there before.

         Today I must do some more of my writing project. The preview I provided seems to have gone down well, and I have, more-or-less, the go ahead to complete it. Also today I will be getting a visit from Jodie. She is recording another programme for Radio Laura. Who, you may ask ? It is some new internet radio station. I have never heard it myself, and I cannot even suggest a URL to look for it. I hope it is not distributed by Live 365 as I cannot get access to that without signing up for it. It is free, but the way I look at it I don't have to sign up to switch my transistor radio on. So unless I can just freely tune in a station it doesn't exist !
Monday 8th March 2004

09.35 GMT
Weather - The Sun is out ! Still very cold
          OK, I'll admit it. I have overslept ! I thought I would be up earlier than this, but then again due a lack of any other entertainment, I took a book to bed and was reading until 01.30. It felt like I spent the last hour in bed part dreaming, part semi concious, desperately trying to remember some words from the TV sitcom "Yes Prime Minister". It was the the follow up to a now forgotten dream that involved conjugating a special class of irregular verbs. I wish I could remember the exact words, but it goes something like this - "I am an Individual" , "You are eccentric" , "He is totally mad".

         Yesterday, as planned, Patrick came over to interview me about the early days of RFL. It went reasonably OK. I was happy with the content of my answers (eventually), but I did not feel so happy about my voice. I couldn't get my DJ voice to come out, and instead used one that sounded far too high pitched. I don't actually mean high pitched, but it was not the deep authorative voice that I have been known to achieve when behind a radio microphone. (perhaps deep and authorative is a slight exaggeration [how do you spell that ?]). I can't really say that I was happy with the way I looked either. I was hoping, and tried to suggest, that Patrick raise the camera slightly so that the underside of my chin was less prominent. Having seen the results of other interviews by way a special sneak preview, I appear to be in good company with most of the other people showing the ravages of time.

         Rather than endure Patricks great big, and very hot, lights, I decided to do my own lighting. Patrick seemed happy with the result. It was arranged pretty much by the book with flood light, fill light and back light. I wonder whether it will show when compared to other interviews in the final product. From what I have seen so far it is going to be a very professional documentary. The preview I saw had a few things that I thought could have been done in slightly better ways, but that is only a personal viewpoint. Overall it looked very good.

         Today I think I may do some job searching, some shopping and continue with the booklet I am writing.
Sunday 7th March 2004

08.17 GMT
Weather - grey and slightly damp
      Although I was looking forward to it, I missed my drink yesterday. I was partly put off by having to get a bus instead of a train. It was partly because I was reluctant to spend a lot of my precious dwindling money supply. But mostly it was because I got carried away doing some writing.

     The writing is for a book introducing the PC to complete novices. What I have written so far is just an example to show to someone who may be interested in the complete work when it is finished. So far I am reasonably happy with the way it is coming out. I had to re-do one part completely when I suddenly realised I was not describing things in a logical order, but I think I have got a better idea now of how to procede.

      Today I have to prepare my living room, or at least a part of it, for Patrick to film me remeniscing about the early days of my involvement with Radio Free London. I don't know how well my memory will stretch back 30 years, but I'll give it a go - adlibbing all the way through.

       I also have a slightly more unpleasant task to perform a couple of times today. Nelly seems to have a smal problem under her tail. She is so fat that she cannot wash her bottom properly and seems to have got some sort of sore spot there. So apart from a renewed effort to get her on a diet (difficult with two cats in the house) I am also having to wash it for her with some vetinary antiseptic. I was most surprised when she let me do it for the first time this morning. Normally she will not let me near her to do anything apart from stroke her. This time she stood reasonably still and allowed me to gently wipe her bottom area a couple of times with warm antiseptic. It obviously hurt because she meowed, but she sat still for it. I guess even she knows that it was for her own good. The last time I tried to use some of the antiseptic (which is green and smells like TCP) on a small scratch on her back, she ran away just from the smell before I could even get it near her.
Saturday 6th March 2004

08.47 GMT
Weather - grey, but dry
           Were my last words yesterday prophetic or just inevitable. I did get drunk ! I had a nice session with Ivor at his usual lunchtime local.  I felt fine until I got home where the effects of one too many pints of Kronenberg gave me a raging hangover. I suppose I should not have had beer for breakfast, but I did. I felt ravenously hungry, but by the time my food was cooked I was getting a headache and felt really sleepy. I ate my food and then fell asleep watching TV. I am not sure how long I slept, but I would guess it to be between an hour to an hour and a half. I woke up feeling pretty yucky and not really inclined to do anything involving more than half a brain cell.

          I was actually saved by a phone call from Patrick that got my brain back in gear. We had a long chat about video editing and such like. The end result was that he has now persuaded me to appear before the camera as an interviewee for Radio Free London during the seventies. That will happen on Sunday afternoon.

           By ten O'clock I was feeling wide awake, but decided to go to bed anyway, and do some reading. I ended up reading half a paperback book before turning the light out and eventually getting to sleep around 1 am.

             Today will probably be a repeat of yesterday. It is the first Saturday of the month and that means I'll be meeting up with my old work colleagues for a few more pints of Kronenberg. I really should try and limit my booze intake today. It is not that I don't want to get drunk, but there are no trains running to Elmers End this weekend so I will have to go by bus. I hate that bus ride and I definitely don't want to do it reeling drunk and with a bursting bladder !!!
Friday 5th March 2004

09.42 GMT
Weather - cold, grey but dry
           I was woken up by an electricity meter reader this morning - not that he waited more than 20 seconds before shoving a card through the door. I needed to get up anyway, so it was not too bad a thing. I was in the pub last night drinking 4 pints of beer with Kevin. Once I came home again I did the same as last time (or was it the time before ?), I watched my recording of The Bill, and also watched an episode of Drop The Dead Donkey and an episode of Monty Pythons Flying Circus. It was nearly 01.30 before I finally jumped into my bed. Even then I thought I was not going to get to sleep. The last thing I remember is thinking " I don't feel very tired". Seconds after that I was deep in sleep.

        Many of my dreams seem to feature bizzare combinations of people in strange settings, sometimes doing strange or out of character things. This seems pretty much normal as dreams go, but last night I had a really weird bit of dream. I cannot ever, ever remember dreaming of a talking spider ! I was having some sort of meeting with some people I know in what I think was my bedroom at my previous house. I can't recall what the meeting was about - possibly pirate radio, but it may have been anything. One of my "guests" was a large spider. Not only was it able to talk, but it had a patch over one eye and a scar on it's face. Oh, and it also had very venomous looking fangs ! I was not too keen on it being there (slight understatement), but it assured me it was perfectly safe so I let it be. Unfortunately some 5 minutes later someone sat on it and it was no more. Curiuously it didn't leave any web behind, but did seem to leave a trail of what looked like blue hair clippings.

          Today I shall be going for another drink. It will be with Ivor at his lunchtime local, or maybe in a nearby pub, The Clockhouse ( A youngs pub selling Winter Warmer). I'm quite looking forward to it as I will be getting my reward for sorting out his father-in-law's PC. So I guess I am going to get drunk again.
Thursday 4th March 2004

09.19 GMT
Weather - cold and damp
         As the weathermen predicted, the sun has gone away and been replaced by rain. It is not actually raining as I write this, but the ground is damp after some overnight rain.  It is a small compensation that it is supposed to be slightly warmer today.

           I think I have managed to catch up with my bad sleep the night before. I went to bed at around 11pm last night, and once Schiba had finished playing up and gone out, I was able to get to sleep soon after midnight. It was not quality sleep though. I woke up several times for one reason or another. I think it may have been a dream, or it may have been some noise distorted by only being semi-concious, but I thought I heard a scream followed by a loud bump, or two, from next door. Of course once I was fully awake there was nothing to be heard. It was still unsettling though.

            My firewall is now working fine, and I can upload these pages with no problem. There does seem to be some problem with downloading mail from my old BT account. I can't think what the problem is there, and I may opt to ignore it. Since BT have become part of Yahoo they have been mucking about with all sorts of crap and I may just turn my back on them. What I will have to do is to sort out all the wiring associated with the firewall and the hub connected to it. My back room floor has wires everywhere at the moment. It looks as if someone has poured a plate of spaghetti on the floor.

         The wiring will have to wait though. The first task this morning, apart from washing and dressing, is to go out to get this mornings New Scientist, and sit back for a lazy morning and read.
Wednesday 3rd March 2004

10.08 GMT
Weather - bright and cold
           I had a bit of a late night, last night. Hence I have had a bit of a lay in this morning. I am still not up and dressed yet, but I had to come down because a ceretain pair of moggies were in need of breakfast !

          The good news is that I have finally put together my firewall ! It is in operation even as I type. The bad news was that the only way I could get this linux box to connect to the firewall, using a web browser, was to re-install the operating system. This is not quite as devastating as Windows users would think. As Linux and Mac (OSX) users know, different bits of stuff are stored on different partitions of the hard disk. So I was able to keep all my personal stuff intact on the /home partition. It does have some preoblems though. All the extras I had added are now gone. Some need installing from the Mandrake Linux install CD's (easy) and some will need installing from my downloads (not always so easy). Eventually I will get things back to normal, and things like my desktop short cuts working again.

          Today I might lay off computing for a bit. This afternoon Jodie will be coming over to use my studio, and tonight I should be drinking with Kevin.

          Now I wonder if my ftp software is still working ?
Tuesday 2nd March 2004

07.25 GMT
Weather - bright and cold
      According to yesterday's weather forecast today will be much like yesterday.I read somewhere that saying that is as accurate, or maybe more accurate, than any other type of wearher forecast. Well yesterday started fine and sunny, but became overcast later in the day. The most important thing is that today should be dry.Where as tomorrow could see some rain, although it would be ever so slightly warmer. All this is building up to the fact that today would make for the best time to have a lunchtime pint with Ivor.

       I had some very mixed up dreams during the night.I can't even begin to describe any sort of plot line as all I can remember is very jumbled up. Toss into a bag scenes from school, scenes from work,some odd locations by rivers or railways, friends past and present, some women I have fancied, and finally a pint of beer or two, and shake vigorously. What comes out approximates to what I can remember of last nights dreams. People, times, and places all mixed up and out of time order, and out of context.There were two slightly more memorable moments. One was the humiliation of an old boss of mine. I found an old desk beached at the side of a river while at some sort of reunion taking place in my old school, but for old work colleagues. Within the desk was a first aid kit that was supposed to have been booked back into stores by this particular boss who was always one for following the rules exactly. He was there as I presented him with the first aid box that had his name on it (thus proving that he was not infallible after all). The last bit of dream before I woke up ended on an optimistic note. I was just about to get off with a woman who I fancied from many years back.It may have been better if that last part had gone on for another half hour, but then again if it had I would inevitably have woken up just as things got really good. That would have left me disappointed. So waking up when I did was probably better as it left a taste of optimism and a good setting for part two tonight (I should be so lucky !).

      Apart from the strong possibility of a lunchtime pint I have two important jobs for this morning. First is to pay in a small cheque (all of £8) at the building society. Then to come home via the Aldi supermarket laden with tins of cat food.It does seem that Nelly and Schiba both prefer Aldi's own brand cat food to other mainstream brands.There are a few exceptions to that with certain individual flavours, but the Aldi stuff seems consistently good across all flavours.

    A final note about supermarkets. Tesco currently are selling McDougals beef and vegetable pies in a two for one promotion. Avoid them like the plague at all costs. They are tasteless rubbish !!!! 
Monday 1st March 2004
07.15 GMT
Weather - bright and cold
      Even though I did not get to bed as early as I hoped, I am still up rather early. I must admit that I did not realise just how early it was until I switched on the PC. It just seemed rather bright outside when I first opened my eyes. So I jumped out of bed and came down here. First of all I let Schiba out of the living room. I had shut him in there before going to bed. He had been out for an hour before I did that so I was reasonably sure he would be comfortable during the night. He was pleased to see me when I opened the door and meowed and chirrupped a lot. His first priority was some breakfast before he went out. He now seems to be back and sitting on the window sill waiting to come back in.

    It would be nice if this week were a little warmer than last week. There were a few days, last week, when it seemed as if I would never get some rooms warm enough first thing in the morning. I do fancy at least one day out this week. I have a suspicion it will only be a lunchtime meeting in a pub with Ivor, but, at a pinch, that would suffice.

Copyright - Bill 2004