Bill's diary pages for the month of May in the year 2004 - nut gathering.
MAY 2004
Beware the nut collector - he could gather you next !


Bank Holiday Monday 31st May 2004
No boozing planned
06.50 BST
Weather - clear skies, bright and sunny
  NOW UPLOADED - medium resolution video in Quicktime format HERE.
              Whatever happened to the traditional rainy bank holiday ? It looks as if it is going to be a beautiful day today. I was sort of assuming I would be spending a sober day, and probably spending some of it in my workshop. I doubt there will be any opportunity for boozing today, but if the opportunity did arise, a couple of hours in a sunny beer garden would be most tempting.

              Yesterday I investigated my still active first ever internet account. It was the first time I have actually dialled up the ISP in, maybe, a year or two. It is amazing that it is all still active and that my 15 MBytes of web space is still available to me. What is even more amazing is that I seem to be able to upload to that space while actually dialled up to another ISP. I spent 20 minutes online to the old ISP uploading one video file of Last Thursday night (see link yesterday). Today I think I'll upload the 5 Mbyte better quality video file so look out for a new link soon. The final, good quality, video file is 20 MBytes in size and obviously too big to squeeze into 15 MBytes of web space, but I'll work something out for it. All three files have the same content, but the third is encoded correctly for use on a video CD. The best way to view it would be to burn it as a video CD and play it in a DVD player (if the player supports Video CD on a CDR disk - some do, some don't.

              Since decimating all the foliage in my front garden some randy pussy cat has come along and decided to spray the air brick under the window. Or at least I think that is what has happened. There is a horrible stink in the living room. Usually it is near the back door that the occasional calling card is left preumably for Nelly's benefit. Little do they realise that the effort is wasted on Nelly as she is neutered.
Sunday 30th May 2004
A no booze day
07.00 BST
Weather - bright and dry
NEWSFLASH: very low resolution video of Thursday night uploaded HERE. 
(You might have to right click the link and choose "save as" and save the file before playing it)
         Oooooaaaaaargh, yawn, stretch, aaaaarrrrrrrrrr. I should not be up this early on a Sunday. I should not be up this early on a Sunday even more so after not getting to bed until 03.00. Last night I decided to edit it down the video I took at last Thursday nights drink. From about 15 minutes of random shooting I have ended up with almost exactly 2 minutes of random sound bites. It is thoroughly disjointed, but does give an idea of a happy and noisy night out. The editing did not take that long (and it shows), but afterwards I spent hours converting the "master" file into numerous other formats to see how much I could squeeze it down. The idea is to make it downloadable from the internet so you can watch it. Of the 12 variations produced I would like to select three to upload to somewhere. First is a very low definition version that only takes up 1.5 MBytes. It is encoded using Microsoft wmf format. It looks pretty horrible, but is small. The next is in Quicktime format at about 5 Mbytes. It is a small picture, but reasonable quality. Lastly there is an mpeg version that is in the correct format to burn to a video CD. It approximates to VHS quality, but is 20 MBytes in size. I may upload the smallest file myself, but even that will take a large chunk out of my webspace - enough for 6 months worth of theses diaries. The other two will definitely need to be uploaded somewhere else.

              I think I am going to watch Dr Who on UK Gold now. After that I will probably go back to bed for an hour.
20.30 BST
Weather - sunny intervals with one small rainshower
            It has been a lazy sort of day today. After uploading this mornings writing I checked UK Gold and there was no Dr Who on. So after a bit I did go back to bed and slept until about 10.00. Once I was washed and dressed I decided to empty out the several rubbish bins and bags around the place. The one in the kitchen had some old cat food in it and was stinking. It was while putting that lot into the wheelie bin that I decided I would have to do something with my front garden. It was getting terribly overgown and looking a right tip. So it was out with the garden shears and slash and burn (actually slash and more slash - no burning), and I gave it a skinhead cut. It is not a big area, but I was hot and sweaty after finishing it. I guess I am pretty unused to that sort of cutting action and my arms felt a bit shaky afterwards. Later on I was trying to hold the edge of a plate while I filled it with food and my muscles went all twitchy like I had the shakes. That effect passed off fairly quickly, but my back is still a tiny bit sore form the long period of bending over. This is why I hate gardening - it is a painful process !

           Aside from the gardening, which was more destructive that creative, I have done nothing truly creative today. I have done some reading, watched some TV, and played with the PC a for a little while. Surprisingly the day has passed by very quickly. The down side to this is that it is going to difficult getting to sleep at a reasonable hour after this mornings 03.00 bedtime. Even though it is a bank holiday I would like to be up at a reasonable hour - say, 08.00 at the latest. It is not that I have anything special to do, but with the prospect of employment, somewhere, anywhere, some time in the, hopefully, near future I want to live reasonable hours. It is so easy to slip into late night and late mornings when there is no true reason to be up early. I get a strong sense of deja vu writing that. I must have said it before.

            The low resolution video of Thursday night has now been uploaded HERE.
Saturday 29th May 2004
A no booze day
05.50 BST
Weather - early morning milky sky
           You may well wonder what I am doing up at this time of the morning. It is something I am wondering as well.I think I have passed through a time warp. I am sure it was later than this when I got out of bed. It felt like it was about 07.30 before I noticed the clock on the PC telling me it was only 05.50. Actually this is good as I can write a few words here and then go back to bed for an hour.

              Today should be a no booze day. I have no plans to visit any pubs now until, perhaps, Wednesday night. Ivor is off work next week. So there is no temptation there, but Iain has suggested that he may be after a drink sometime in the week. That gives me the idea for a cunning plan. I mentioned that I could edit the video I took on Thursday night down to a few minutes of semi interesting stuff, and that I couldn't spare the space on my own  web space to upload a web movie to it. Well, I reckon if I bought Iain a few pints of very strong cider I could persuade him to let me borrow a few megabytes of his web space and let him upload both a tiny low resolution web movie, for old farts like myself on dial up, and a medium resolution movie for those with high speed access. All I would need to do then would be to add a link from here to where the movies were hosted. The trouble is that I know you're reading this Iain, and so my cunning plan will now be rather less than a surprise to be sprung on you when you're drunk and vulnerable.

             So what else is happening today ? I really ought to finish my job application and I intend to deliver it by hand sometime around midday. Then I can sit down and see if I can do some video editing. In between times I have this weeks washing to do, and probably other stuff that I will think of at the appropriate time.
Friday 28th May 2004

07.05 BST
Weather - bright and sunny
          Well, well, well ! What a good night last night was. Yes, it was a boozy night, the day was a sober day.

           First of all though. I big Hi to Ivor, Iain, Patrick, Roger, Fran, Pam, Andy, Kevin, Bob, Ron, Paul, Becky, and to Pam's cousin and Bob's other half (whose names I seem to have forgotten already). I think that is all, but I'm sure I must have forgotten someone. And, of course, hi to anyone else who knows me - readers and listeners alike. A special thank you to Pam for the picture of Nelly which has now taken centre stage on my mantlepiece.

           I don't think I will do a write up about last night. In fact I don't think I can. There was too much going on. I have got a few pictures that I may include here later on. Perhaps it will be tomorrow as I have a busy day ahead of me. It is a slight shame that for all the pictures I took only a few are of decent quality. Some of them have come out tinged with red as if the flash lost synchronisation with the shutter. In consequence they have a certain amount of motion blur where I was relying on the flash to freeze the motion. I think that once I am in full time employment one of my cash spending priorities will be to buy a decent camera. The one I am using now can take some brilliantly sharp pictures under the right conditions, but it has difficulty under less than perfect conditions. It suffers noise in the low lights, and there is the shutter lag problem that reared its head when using the flash last night, and makes the timing of action shots rather hit and miss. I do have some video footage of last night, but I doubt I'll be using that here on the web site. In fact I doubt I will do much with it at all. I haven't played it back yet, but I am sure there are no outstanding sequences that would form the basis of any edited highlights. I think I'll just keep it as a memory of the general ambience........................I couldn't resist getting the camera out and watching some of it on the viewfinder. It is not as bad as I thought. I still don't think I can really do anything with it as a lot of it is disjointed, but I may have a go someday and see if I can edit it down to a mini epic - maybe just a few minutes long. At just a few minutes it might be feasible to make it into a low resolution web movie.  Although I don't think I can spare a few megabytes of my current web space allocation to host it. Maybe I'll have to ask Iain for some web space.

          Today could well be a busy day, or at least this morning could be. I ought to be putting the finishing touches to a PowerPoint presentation I am making as part of my job application. Then I should be finishing the application papers. Once that is done I wanted to deliver them by hand. I should also be doing some shopping for general provisions, but I also want to buy a birthday present for Maxine.By 11.00 I ought to be at Ivors workplace where I have been volunteered to help with some heavy lifting. I don't think I am going to manage it all, and it is likely to be the pob application that will have to be delayed by another 24 hours. Once the work, for which I have been shanghied for, is finished it is............down the pub again ! This time there is a slight variation in the proceedings. The pub is only an aperertif for a visit to a curry house to celebrate Maxine's birthday. It is pssible, although I'll admit unlikely, that with a little food inside me I won't be getting totally sloshed. Oddly enough I didn't get totally sloshed last night. Fullers London pride is a lot less lethal than Kronenberg. I was pacing myself slightly, and I was not drinking on an empty stomach. By the time I got in last night I was feeling 100% in control of all my faculties, but I was feeling very tired. After reading my e-mail, and doing a quick review of the photographs taken last night, I went straight to bed and was asleep almost instantly.
21.12 BST
Weather - cooling off after warm sunny day
            It's been a good day today. I managed to do a few of the essentials before heading out to help Ivor and Iain move three large printers. They were very big, and heavy too ! When that was over I felt exhausted. Fortunately it was time for lunch and a trip to a pub ensued. Strangely enough it did not turn into a boozy session, and I only had three well spaced out pints. The significant difference was that I only drank the first pint on an empty stomach. After the first pint we went to a curry house for a quick bite to eat. It was quick too - the miserable resturant decided they were closing 20 minutes after we got in there and rushed us through the whole thing. It was sort of nice, but some of the onions on my chicken tikka were beyond caramelised and were burnt to a crisp. We had one pint of indifferent lager in there before going back to the pub for one final pint. I managed to take a picture of us heading back to the pub.
After a curry
It felt quite strange to come home feeling very sober. Well maybe not very, very sober, but mostly sober. Today was the first time I have had a curry in a resturant for years. The last time was so many years ago that I have absolutely no idea what year it might have been in. Or with whom, for that matter.

To round off todays diary entry, here are 4 pictures taken at our booze up last night.

Pam and BeckySeveral people
Ivor and Pam's cousin
Thursday 27th May 2004

07.00 BST
Weather - miserable grey sky and raining
          It was a bit of a surprise to wake up and find it is raining this morning. The last weather forecast I saw suggested it would be dry until the weekend. Yesterday started out rather gloomy, but later in the afternoon the sun came out and I spent a couple of happy hours in the beer Garden of The Herne with Ivor, Iain, Howard and Maxine.

             Today I will be spending a fair amount of time completing an application for a new job. After a long patient wait I have finally found a job that I really want to do. All previous jobs were just ones that I could do, but this one I am convinced is the job for me. It combines two areas where I think I have a certain amount of expertise - namely I.T. and A.V. In effect it is how I pass many happy hours here at home. Perhaps happy is not quite the right word. Happy when it all goes to plan, but frustrated when it doesn't. Luckily it usually come out OK in the end. There are several criteria for this job that, on paper, I do not really match, but I see little problem with that. For instance, although I am familiar with the concept of Powerpoint presentations, I have never had call to make one before. To rectify that, and to demonstrate that I can use Powerpoint, I am going to spend a little time this morning making a presentation to include with my job application. My first thoughts were that it was a bit of a cheesy idea, but after discussing it with both Ivor and Iain, who are, after all, actually in the trade, I have been convinced that it is a very good idea. With plenty of room on a CDR I am also going to include some other samples of my work. There will be a short video I edited. I think the best one will be the video I made of Patrick filming the reconstruction of a pirate radio station set in the early 1970's. It has a little more general interest than one of my railway videos although there is not really any story line in it. It is also fairly short. It is a shame I have not got a copy of the interview that Patrick did of me for part of his documentary. In that I was really quite unhappy about the way my voice sounded, but the pictures were, I am told, very good. The relevant point about that clip is that I did the lighting for it. It was traditional 3 point lighting and I believe the pictures had a little more depth to them than some of the other interviews which were made using more of a floodlighting approach. I will also include one or two still pictures to show off my prowess at using Paint Shop Pro. Finally I will include a backup copy of this web site to prove that I can work with web sites. This last bit is madness as I have just blatantly admitted that I have had no previous experience with Microsoft Powerpoint. Hopefully my short demonstration presentaion will show that I am at least capable of learning to use the program. I wonder how many other embarrasing comments I have made in these pages ? (Such as having serious doubts over my spelling of "embarrasing", and not having a spell checker installed on this Linux installation of Mozilla to check on it before hitting the save button).

            Looking back at all I have written this month does give the impression that I have been boozing rather a lot. I think it is because it is not obvious how many days have passed between sessions. Each day does have it's own header, but once you start reading there is a tendancy to skip over the headings and just carry on to the next paragraph. I see little way around this unless I make up a calendar table showing the days I have been in the pub, or start each day with a bold " No Pub Today" heading. Once I am back in regular employment the lunchtime sessions will be a thing of the past, but for now I need the contact with other people that only the lunchtime sessions can supply. Of course tonight will be yet another boozy session, but this one is a special one. It is the bi-monthly drink where all the old friends who have migrated to diverse parts of S.E. England can come together and have a good gossip. One day I must determine if my usage of "bi-monthly" is correct. I am sure it means every two months, but sometimes it comes across as meaning twice-monthly. Well even if it is wrong you know now. As I use it here, it means every two months !
Wednesday 26th May 2004

08.40 BST
Weather - slightly overcast
              Although yesterday started out bright and sunny it soon clouded over. It did stay dry and was also fairly warm. Today has started fairly overcast, but it is possible that the sun may break through later on. I hope it does as I want to grab a beer or two at lunchtime, and a session in the beer garden would be rather nice.

              I spent some time yesterday trying out some live linux distros. I had better explain what these are. They are a way of running the Linux operating system from a bootable CD without any need to touch, or even need, a hard disk in the PC. Each of the many different types provides an assortment of applications that are fully functional. The downside is that because they are running from a CD they are a little slow to open. - CD drives being far, far slower than hard disk drives. I think the most impressive has to be Damnsmall Linux. It can be burnt onto a business card sized CDR disk as it only need a mere 46 MBytes. It provides a basic, but still comprehensive, set of applications. These include a web browser, media player, word processor, e-mail client and a host of useful utilities. All that on a CD that you can, and I now do, keep in a wallet.
Tuesday 25th May 2004

07.15 BST
Weather - some thin clouds, but bright and dry
             My mind is definitely slipping. Yesterday I went out to Tesco's and totally forgot to buy two of the items that partially inspired the visit there. I remembered to buy all the food I wanted, but totally forgot to buy the shampoo and shower gel that I needed. It is lucky I do not need them that badly, and I won't need to go around unwashed, or unkempt, for a few more days yet !

              I spent a considerable time yesterday just reading. While I was out I bought two magazines that I should not really have wasted my preciouss money on, but the temptation was too much. The first was the rather expensive Linux Format with a DVD cover disk. The second was the rather cheaper Rail magazine. Both were a good read, but Linux Format, as usual, had several articles that went right over my head. On the cover mounted DVD the theme was live distros. That is distributions of Linux that will run directly from a CD without disturbing anything that is on the hard disk of the PC. Indeed they will run without a hard disk even being present. I was particularly interested in the one called Knoppix. I had mixed success with earlier versions of Knoppix, but this version, 3.4, ran perfectly on the two PC's I tried it on.

            So apart from reading I spent some time playing with PC's trying out different things. I also rang up about the I.T. job that I mentioned yesterday. I really wanted to speak to someone about it, but there was only an answerphone at the other end. So I left my details and I'll just have to wait and see if I am contacted. Today I am supposed to hear the results of the job interview I had last Thursday. As much as I need some income, I still hope that I don't get that job as I will have to take it against all personal choice.
Monday 24th May 2004

06.30 BST
Weather - bright and sunny
           I don't know whether it was just me, but it felt very cool yesterday. A coule of times I almost felt like turning some heating on. I managed to catch a weather forecast for the next 5 days and it said that it should be warm and sunny now for most of the coming week. It feels fairly cool at the moment as I sit here not fully dressed, and only 5 minutes after getting out of a warm bed.

              This morning I must phone up about the job I mentioned yesterday. I looked at the advert again and noticed that the pay being offered was actually rather higher than I had imagined. That suggests to me that they are after someone with more formal I.T. qualifications. So it looks like I am dead in the water to start with. Nevertheless I shall still have a go for it. I think another chore this morning will be to go shopping. I had considered going yesterday, but decided I still had plenty of food reserves in the freezer for a few more days, but Nelly is periously low on "crunchies", so I had better get to the shops.

             Once the shopping is out of the way I have three choices. A Lunchtime session in the pub with Ivor. Do something creative in my workshop, or have a play with the video I shot last Friday. The latter is quite appealing as I have not really looked at the 40 odd minutes I filmed then. I reckon that I can edit it down to about 5 minutes of interesting stuff.
Sunday 23rd May 2004

08.40 BST
Weather - bright and sunny
           Although I decribe the day as being bright and sunny, as I did yesterday, it is actually quite cold at the momemnt. It did cloud over a little yesterday and the day stayed quite cool. It would be nice if today was a little warmer than yesterday. The coolness does have one minir advantage. The catfood does not go off so quickly. When I came home on Friday night the whole house stank where some leftover catfood in the rubbish bin had gone off. It is unusual for me to take out a mere one third full rubbish bag at close to midnight, but I did it then.

            I had a new variation of very strange dreams last night. I bet even a professional psychologist would have difficulty explaining this one away. I can't remember the whole story, but this is the releveant part that sticks in my mind. An old friend of mine, Brian, was some sort of villain and was being arrested by a copper who was also Brian. I am not sure what my status was in the dream. Now it feels like I was merely a passive spectator, almost like I was watching TV, but I may have been a cop or robber. All I remember for certain was that there were two identical Brians. They did not seem to be brothers or twins, but the same person playing two roles simultaneously.

              I have seen another job, in the local free paper, that interests me. It is not something I have ever done before, but I think I could do it. The way the job is described makes it sound as if they want a cross between an I.T. technician and an A.V. technician with a bit of web design, and other things, thrown in as well. It sounds similar to what I do now as a hobby. So potentially I ought to be able to do it. It is for a charitable institution and so the pay offered may not be comparable for a proper I.T. job, but it may be enough for me. Also, with the crossover in skills required, they may not have too many applicants. Best of all is that it is fairly local. So I am going to make some enquiries.
Saturday 22nd May 2004

08.00 BST
Weather - bright and sunny
           Yesterday was a good day out, although perhaps a little too long. Later on today I'll try and do a proper write up of the days events. The target for the day was to have a ride on the "Thumpers" that operate between Ashford and Hastings. Due to a slight miscalculation we missed out on one ride, but did sample the new replacement trains for that service. We then rushed back to Victoria to get on the last ever "Thumper" from there to Uckfield. It was crowded even though it had been increased from the more usual 3 car train to an 8 car train. Initially it was a bit cramped, but a few people got off at East Croydon, and more left at the later stops. At Uckfield the train would normally go out of service, but with so many enthusiasts expected it had been arranged that it would stay in service and head back to East Croydon.

            We didn't stay on the train all the way to East Croydon, but got off at Oxted to go into The Oxted Inn, a Weatherspoons pub. It was terribly noisy in there, but we stayed for 2 pints of different beers from the Ichen brewery - and jolly nice they were too. During that time we missed the train we intended to get, but got the one half an hour later. Back at East Croydon came two revelations. First was the amount of ticket touts operating quite openly. Second, I noticed that one of the departure screens was showing something odd.
Windows error message
Unfortunately the image was too dim for the camera to autofocus properly, and after a long day I could not keep the camera still. You'll have to take my word for it that it is a Windows error message. In the title bar  said something like "exploring - control panel". The message says something to the effect that a programme is not responding and NT will close it.

           After waiting around 20 minutes for a tram we got back to Elmers End for a 10 minute wait for the train. I finally got indoors at around 11pm. By then all I had eaten all day was one roll. It was a biggish roll, a sub infact, but that was all. So I decided to cook some food. I think it was close on 01.00 before I went to sleep this morning so I feel a little knackered now ( I was playing with yesterdays photos for 45 minutes before writing this at 08.00). I may go back to bed for an hour.
Friday 21st May 2004

06.35 BST
Weather - grey and wet
          Ideally  I would have liked another hour in bed this morning, but I am awake so I may as well get up. The weather has deteriorated badly since yesterday morning. There were a few splashes of rain during the afternoon, and there has been a lot of overnight rain. This is a pity as I will be out today "trainspotting". For most of the day I'll be travelling to and from Hastings, and riding up and down The Marshlink Line between Hastings and Ashford. Then it will be back to Victoria to see, and hopefully be on, the last ever departure of a "Thumper" from Victoria to Uckfield. No doubt I'll have a few pictures to show here. Probably tomorrow.

             Yesterdays job interview went well in so much as I got there OK and had a pretty relaxed time during the interview. I now know for definite that I don't really want the job. The original job description was slightly misleading in that it is hardly a technicians job at all. It is more a sort of souped up wharehousemans job. It seems that I was not the only person to be caught out this way. I was told that one applicant had an engineering degree !  They did ask if I felt that it would ultimately be too boring for me, and at the end I agreed it probably would. But it would also be true to say that the initial learning part of the job would be fascinating. They have a lot of interesting kit that that I would like to play with. I did get the impression that it is still possible they may offer me the job, and if they do I will reluctantly take it. My final words were with the bloke who was showing me around the place. I told him quite straight that I was not sure if I was suitable for the job, and that I didn't want to muck them around by accepting an offer and then quittting after a month or two. He replied that I shouldn't worry about it, and more or less implied that I should go for it anyway. Time will tell. If I do get the job offered to me then I will take it as I could do with some proper income, but I cannot see me lasting there for long.
Thursday 20th May 2004

07.45 BST
Weather - bright and sunny
          6 hours sleep is enough for anyone ! Especially when they have a job interview this afternoon. After an evening in the pub with Kevin I came home, spent a little time checking train times on the internet, and then watched a recording of The Bill. I guess I got to bed at around 01.00. I was woken up at 05.20 by a combination of one of the first trains of the morning and very loud birdsong. The birds seem exceptionally noisy even now. I was also feeling slightly cold when I first woke up so I decided that I would get under the duvet (instead of just on top) for my next installment of sleep. I now feel like I have been slowly cooked. Sitting here with the back door open feels deliciously cool.

           So this afternoon I have a job interview for a job that I would prefer not to get. The job itself could probably be slightly boring, but that in itself is not my concern. The worst part is that I will have to learn to be a London bound commuter.I just hate the idea of 30 - 40 minutes on a crowded, hot and stuffy train (and the same coming home again).

            Once this interview is out of the way I hope I'll be early enough to catch up with Ivor and Iain for a quick pint or two. It can't be too many as I need a clear head in the morning for a day of "Hog" bashing. Hog being the new trendy term for what I know as a "Thumper". And a Thumper is an old slam-door diesel electric train with comfy seats and a general air of looking like a real train.
Wednesday 19th May 2004

05.30 BST
Weather - clear skies.
           Good morning to Iain who commented that this diary suggested I was permanently pissed ! Well hardly - once or twice a week in his company, maybe, but with the Winter Warmer finished for this season, my one and only regular drink on a Wednesday night tends to be an almost sober affair.

            Yesterday I did get pissed - it is true. I spent a couple of hours in The Herne alone waiting for Ivor and Iain to finish a huge printing job. During those hours of waiting I was quietly reading The Evening Standard and doing the two crosswords in it. I also slowly drank two pints of Kronenberg. So by the time Ivor and Iain got to the pub I was quite sober. Unfortunately I can never say no to free beer and that was where the rot set in. After another three pints I was home again feeling very hungry and rather drunk. So I ate a bizzare meal of peppered mackerel, potato saled and black pepper flavoured crisps (a large packet). That was followed by a large bag of chilli flavoured peanuts. By mid evening I was feeling hungover and bloated. On top of that the crisps and peanuts felt like they had lacerated the inside of my mouth, and all that salt made me feel very thirsty. By 9.30 pm I felt really rough, and to make matters worse a combination of the booze, salt, spices and the heat left me dripping with sweat. So I went to bed and surprsingly, considering the discomfort I was in, I went to sleep almost instantly. I woke up again just before midnight almost convinced that I had slept through the night. I was considering getting up again, but after a getting a fresh pint of cold water I decided to go back to sleep again. I woke up a couple of more times during the night, but it was not until 05.30 that I decided I may as well get up properly, even if it is temporary. I might, or might not, go back to bed again later.

           At this time in the morning I feel mostly OK. My mouth still feels a little sore from lacerating it with very crisp and sharp crisps and then rubbing in chilli powder from the chilli flavoured peanuts.

            Today I have a difficult decision to make. I could go back to The Herne for a second session or I could just have a quiet and close to sober drink with Kevin tonight. I think I need to see Kevin tonight to bash out a few final details for our day out on Friday. However I am tempted with The Herne where there should be more than just Ivor and Iain for entertainment. Maybe what I should do is to go to The Herne very late in the afternoon so it is only a short session and I will then probably survive for a night out in The Ram. I hope that the air con is working at full capacity in The Ram. Yesterday was a pretty hot day, and I expect today to be similar.
Tuesday 18th May 2004

06.15 BST
Weather - bright and sunny
            Yesterday I described the day as starting with some clouds. I think I was wrong. It was more likely a high up mist that was accentuated by the sun being so low in the sky at five in the morning. By the time I woke up for the second time (I did go back to bed for another hour) that mist had "burnt  off" leaving a bright sunny, and very warm, day. The day was so hot that last night I ended up sleeping on top of my bed until I woke up feeling cool, but not cold, at 04.30 this morning.

              Up until now I have not mentioned the strange malady that afflicted me up until yesterday morning. It started Saturday lunchtime, or so, after a long time sitting at this PC. It was almost as if I had got cramp in a muscle in my left buttock. The exact location is difficult to describe. It was sort of slightly above the left buttock, and not wholly on the left, but maybe left of centre. Describing it as cramp is also not exact. It was more like the muscular ache you get after a cramp has gone away. Whatever it was I may never know, but I do know it was quite painful whenever I moved in a certain way that involved using the muscles in my left(ish) bum cheek. It was bad all day on Sunday, but yesterday, sometime during the course of the morning, it faded away. It is hard to say when it went, but by lunchtime I realised that I was not in any pain.

             It looks as if it is going to be another beautiful hot day. I am looking forward to spending lunchtime in a beer garden. These boozy lunchtimes become more precious as time goes by. It cannot be too long now before I finally end up re-employed. If the next job goes to plan then it will mean no more lunchtime sessions with Ivor, Iain and Maxine until the day I retire. Now that is a sad thought, but it is fact of life that must be endured.
11.28 BST
Weather - hot and sunny
          It seems to have been a busy morning so far. After signing on at the job centre I did some shopping in Aldi. There were loads of tempting shiny things there. I resisted the temptation to spend money I have not got, or at least money that I must put aside for essentials. If I had the money to waste I would like the 5.2Mpixel camera, the PDA with GPS, the USB 2.0 flat bed scanner, and several other shiny things. One item I might give in to is a cordless garden clipper. It could be just what I need to inspire me to tackle some of the things that I put off doing in the garden.

        Once back from the supermarket I had a little light breakfast and watched some educational TV (about astronomy). During that I had a phone call from one of the employers I have applied to for a job. It is the one that is just north of Kings Cross. I am going up for an interview on Thursday afternoon. Although they are trying to put me off by suggesting the job may be a little boring for someone of my experience, I get the impression they might actually want me. They seem to be in two minds abut how they think the job might develop. At the moment it seems to be the sort of job a trained labourer could do, but they keep hinting that it could become more technical. I suspect it needs someone, me maybe, to point them in the right direction, or at least suggest what they could be capable of. The only trouble is I am still not totally happy about having to do all that commuting. It is some relief to know that I am up against some competition and my chances of getting the job are probably slim. However, if I am offered the job I am more or less forced to take it for financial reasons. If I do get it I think I will try and force myself to save like mad in case I can't stand it and have to quit again.

         Another 30 minutes and I off to drink lots of beer - shame the sun has just gone in for the first time this morning.
Monday 17th May 2004

05.00 BST
Weather - cloudy but dry
          Five O'clock in the morning is a bit of an early morning for me. I was going to add lately to the end of that statement, but I think I'll let it stand. It would be nice to get back to my regular-as-clockwork 06.00 getting up time. With no work that has slipped so badly, but someday that could change. Yesterday I made another job application. It was the first ever that I have made by e-mail. It was hard to know just how to write it in that form. It is hard enough writing a formal letter to be sent by snail mail, but e-mail has its own protocols that lie somewhere between a memo and a real letter. I concluded that it would be best to write it almost as a formal letter, but to obviously leave out all the headers, address, date etc, as they are automatically appended by the e-mail process itself. I sent it as a plain text message so I also used a minimum amount of word formatting as well. Although the e-mail itself did not contain things like my address and telephone number, they are on my C.V. which I attached as a rich text document.

           I do sometimes worry about my C.V. Some would say it is too short and sparse, but others would agree it lists the essential information, and omits all the waffle. I based the format of it after having seen a lot of C.V.s that were sent to Mastercare. Generally the longer ones were boring, or in some ways laughable. I think it comes down to perspective. It is quite probable that if a C.V. was being read by some member of personnel who had a degree in English Literature, sociology, and American business studies, then the five page C.V. complete with "this is what I did on my holidays" would be most appreciated and appropriate. On the other hand my C.V. is pitched at an engineer who just wants to read the vital facts about what I know and what I can do. Personally I hope to be employed by the latter.

          Today I have an urge to get into my workshop and do something creative. There will be time for other things later in the week. Tomorrow I may well go and have a lunchtime drink with Ivor. I have made a DVD-ROM for him with copies of a lot of the old comedy programmes I have recorded from BBC7. It was going to be just on a bare disk in a slip case, but I got a little carried away with designing a proper DVD case cover for it. I am quite proud of it and it will be interesting to see the reaction from a graphics professional to my amateur effort. Then at the end of the week I am having a day out "trainspotting" with Kevin. Primarily we are going out to say our farewells to the "Thumpers" (old slam door diesel electric trains) that run in the Marshlink line between Ashford and Hastings. Their days are numbered now and they will soon be gone to be replaced by unreliable "plastic" trains.
Sunday 16th May 2004

06.45 BST
Weather - dry and bright
               I was woken up this morning by Nelly who was doing her strange howling routine at the bottom of the stairs. I am still mystified by it as I have never caught her doing it in "real time". It sounds almost the same song that cats use when singing to each other in the middle of the night, but in this case I believe it is intended to serve as a wake up call to me. As such it serves its purpose well and I always get up to find out what is going on. By that time she has stopped and I never have managed to catch the performane properly. If it were not for the fact that she is always at the bottom, or top, of the stairs I would think I had dreamt it.

               Being up so early on a Sunday morning leaves me two choices. Do I go back to bed, or do I watch Dr Who on UK Gold ? Both are mildly attractive, but not imperatives.
Saturday 15th May 2004

09.50 BST
Weather - bright and sunny
             Sometimes it is hard to think of things to write in this journal. When nothing much has happened then there is nothing to record. And yet yesterday was not a boring day, but just saying I read, watched TV and listened to the radio does not sound very inspiring ! I could add surfing the net to that list, but that was just about the entire way my day was spent.

            That filled a few lines and helped stop today being a blank entry. I can't remember any dreams with enough clarity to describe what happened, although I think one involved using a hard disk the size of a £2 coin. So there is nothing to add there.

              Today I must get into my workshop and do some stuff there. That's about it. I'm sorry if you read all this drivel that there is nothing to entertain you today.
16.15 BST
Weather - still long sunny intervals
               A couple of days ago I was extolling the virtues of books. Today, while surfing the internet I ended up at and came across the following :-

Announcing the new Built-in Orderly Organized Knowledge device (BOOK)

The BOOK is a revolutionary breakthrough in technology: no wires, no electric circuits, no batteries, nothing to be connected or switched on. It's so easy to use even a child can operate it. Just lift its cover! Compact and portable, it can be used anywhere -- even sitting in an armchair by the fire -- yet it is powerful enough to hold as much information as a CD-ROM disc.

Here's how it works...

Each BOOK is constructed of sequentially numbered sheets of paper (recyclable), each capable of holding thousands of bits of information. These pages are locked together with a custom-fit device called a binder which keeps the sheets in their correct sequence.

Opaque Paper Technology (OPT) allows manufacturers to use both sides of the sheet, doubling the information density and cutting costs in half. Experts are divided on the prospects for further increases in information density; for now BOOKs with more information simply use more pages. This makes them thicker and harder to carry, and has drawn some criticism from the mobile computing crowd.

Each sheet is scanned optically, registering information directly into your brain. A flick of the finger takes you to the next sheet. The BOOK may be taken up at any time and used by merely opening it. The BOOK never crashes and never needs rebooting, though like other display devices it can become unusable if dropped overboard. The "browse'' feature allows you to move instantly to any sheet, and move forward or backward as you wish. Many come with an "index" feature, which pinpoints the exact location of any selected information for instant retrieval.

An optional BOOK mark accessory allows you to open the BOOK to the exact place you left it in a previous session, even if the BOOK has been closed. BOOK marks fit universal design standards; thus, a single BOOK mark can be used in BOOKs by various manufacturers. Conversely, numerous BOOK markers can be used in a single BOOK if the user wants to store numerous views at once. The number is limited only by the number of pages in the BOOK. (BOOK marks can be purchased commercially in a wide variety of styles, or easily created at home from readily available materials by the BOOK user.)

You can also make personal notes next to BOOK text entries with an optional programming tool, the Portable Erasable Nib Cryptic Intercommunication Language Stylus (PENCILS).

Portable, durable, and affordable, the BOOK is being hailed as the entertainment and information communication wave of the future. The BOOK's appeal seems so certain that thousands of content creators have committed to the platform. Look for a flood of new titles soon.
Friday 14th May 2004

07.45 BST
Weather - mostly clear sky and sunny
           This morning I am feeling slightly fragile after the excess's of yesterday. There is nothing particularly wrong with me, no special aches or pains, but more of a sort of feeling that I am not ready to face the day yet. I think I slept badly and I can remember waking up a few times during the night. Each time I felt too hot and went back to sleep with an arm or a leg, or both, sticking out from under the duvet. I feel curiously hot now although I am not sweating and I also feel that this room is otherwise quite cool. Maybe it is alcohol poisoning. I doubt I will be drinking again for 3 or 4 days so it will pass.

            Last night I had a drunken urge to do something I have mainly avoided - writing drunken ramblings in this journal. I have corrected a few obvious spelling mistakes this morning, but otherwise left it as it was. It is, after all, what I was thinking, but in normal circumstances I would be a little more subtle about it.

            Today I think I know what I will be doing, but not in what order. I have two more days worth of radio recordings to top-and-tail, and then listen to. I think there is one "Round The Horne" and two more episodes of "2001 A Space Odessy", and there could be a couple of other things as well. Then I will have to go out and buy this weeks New Scientist. In fact I will probably do that first and do some reading while eating some breakfast. So I think there will be plenty to entertain me today.
Thursday 13th May 2004

09.15 BST
Weather - bright, but no direct sunshine
           I felt pretty lousy this morning. I woke up at half past six with a bad stomach ache. It took several visits to the toilet before I was able to get back in bed and get back to sleep again. Even now I do not feel 100%. I was thinking about going for another drinking session with Ivor this lunchtime, but maybe that would not be a good idea. It might happen though. If he is not around tomorrow then it may have to be today.

            Last night I was in the pub with Kevin. Since the Winter Warmer finished last month I have been getting home from these sessions almost sober. The ordinary bitter is not a patch on Winter Warmer. I wonder if it was the beer last night that has given me the runs this morning ? Probably not as it is too soon (I think). When I got in I had a flick around the TV channels and found an old edition of "Have I Got News For You ?" on UK Gold 2. So I sat and watched that. Then I turned over to Sky 1 and watched an episode of "Voyager". Finally I was lured over to Paramount Comedy 2 where there was an old episode of "Drop The Dead Donkey". It was madness, although very enjoyable, to stay up so late watching all that stuff. It was close on 2am before I went to bed. So waking up at 06.30 was just a little too early for me.Even now I have not had more than 6.5 hours sleep in total, but I am up now and I won't be going back to bed again this morning.

            Once again the day seemed to pass quite quickly, yesterday. I can't really say that I did anything worth shouting about. Some of the day was spent reading a book. In this case it was Isaac Asimov's "The Currents Of Space". I had started it the day before, but it was sufficiently captivating, even on the second reading, to make me want get on and finish it.I guess it was being immersed in a good read that helped the day go so quickly.
21.00 BST
Weather - dry and mostly sunny. Cool tonight.
           Ooooorg , arghhhhh my brain hurts. I spent far too long in The Herne today. Or to put it another way..... I drank far too much in The Herne today. It was a sort of a spur of the moment thing to go and have a drink with Ivor today. I got there a little late and we only had time for roughly one pint before Ivor (and Iain) had to go back to work. They assured me they would be back in not too much of time, but that sooner or later Max would be at the pub and I would probably be entertained by her. Well that was their assumption, it didn't turn out that way becuase Max never noticed I was in the pub and I was left bored out of my mind for nearly an hour before Ivor and Iain came back. Eventually we all settled back, Max included, for an extended drinking session. Ivor had to leave early, but we all carried on without him. Sadly Max has been suffering from some ailment and has been suffering from sime pain lately. I don't know what it is but she thinks it is related to her gall bladder. I don't like to see her in pain. Partly because I don't like to see anyone in pain, and partially because it makes her less of a laugh. Putting it like that sounds terrible, but it is a truth I cannot deny. Having got to know Max fairly well now I am concerned with her pain and it does feel personal in some ways, but nevertheless I find it hard to think that her pain is more important that any other pain. And yet it is. While she is in pain there is less chance that I will get a quick kiss or a quicker cuddle and I do need those. They are some of the seemingly insignificant things in life that when you add them all together it makes life worth living. If I don't care, why am I here ?
Wednesday 12th May 2004

07.45 BST
Weather - cloudy but dry
           I think I slept well last night, although after reading until 01.00 I doubt I should have woken up this early. I woke up with the impression that all my dreams had been happy ones, and yet I can recall in one dream a woman who I thought I was making some impression on announced that she was going out with some other man. Perhaps the blow was softened by the fact that I was drinking with people I liked in a suspiciously familiar beer garden. Although the beer garden seemed very familiar the people I was drinking with were actually unfamiliar in a strange way. The strangeness was that they seemed to have familiar names that did not match their faces, or familiar faces that did not match their names. As I recall they were all from Radio Jackie, but not the legal version that is on currently, but a version that was still a pirate radio station in this day and age. As I try and recall the dream I am confused about one thing. There was a sequence when I was out for a drive with the woman who had turned me down for someone who was on this Radio Jackie, but not actually with us drinking in the beer garden. What I can't work out is whether it was a sequence remembered in the dream, or a sequence that was part of the dream. All I can recall was that we were driving back from some transmitter site in the Surrey hills and I lapsed into silence for a long time. After some long time I felt compelled to say "do not mistake my silence for boredom or sulkiness. I am just feeling very happy and content", or some words like that. I suspect it was actually a bit of day dreaming with the dream itself.

          Yesterday passed by very quickly. Yet it was not an action packed day. You could say that the most productive thing I did all day was to defrost the freezer. It needed doing sometime, but there was no real urgency for it to happen. Yesterday just happened to be a convenient time when it was almost empty. So today I should be out to Tesco to stock up on frozen food. Another thing I did yesterday was to listen to the first 4 parts of 2001, A Space Odessy. It is being broadcast on BBC7 as 10 fifteen minute readings. Each day there are two episodes listed. Yet they are being broadcast as one 30 minute episode. What is curious is that when originally listed they were shown as single 30 minute episodes, but the listings changed to show two 15 minute episodes. The story is being broadcast as a reading from the book rather than in play form, and it sounds very good too. My only complaint is that the reader (name forgotten) has a slight American (or possibly even mild Australian) accent. It is not too bad and mostly ignorable against his skill at reading aloud. So far it has been very enjoyable. Although I own, and have read the book myself, it is still the film version that tends to be remembered. The book contains subtle differences, or nuances, that actually make it better than the film in some respects. In particular the opening chapter(s) of the book that deal with the apemen are far better explained in the book than on film. In some ways this is not surprising as although the apemen sequence is important to the story, to cover it in full on the film would add an extra 20 minutes to the beginning of the film. Plus it could not be done without using subtitles, or a narrator, to explain what the apemen are thinking - something that is so easily done in the written form. There are another two episodes on tonight that I am looking forward to.
Tuesday 11th May 2004

02.00 BST
Weather - dry
            Yesterday I decided that I had to go out and get some fresh air. So at around 11.00 I set out, armed with an all zone travelcard, and headed up to Kings Cross where a potential new employer was based. As I suspected the journey was not too bad, but then again it was still further than I would really like to travel to work. I did hand in a job application and have a short talk with them, but I am certain that I will not get the job. That is no loss because I don't think I really want that job.

            Once that was over I started heading towards home again, but thought I'd try an alternative route. I had gone up there via London Bridge and decided to go back via Blackfriars. As I approached Peckam Rye station I thought I would get off the train there and do the short bus ride to where Ivor normally drinks at lunchtime. It was a little late, but I thought that I would be in time for one pint before he went back to work. Big mistake ! I didn't leave there until some 4 hours later ! I was dropped off near home by Iain and staggered into the chip shop to buy some breakfast (at that point I had not eaten all day). Finally I slumped down in a chair, ate my sausage and chips, with extra salad, and watched some TV. On Monday nights I regularly watch "Enterprise" on Sky One, but this time I fell asleep soon after it started, and woke up again half an hour after it finished. So I decided to go bed. I fell asleep almost instantly, but woke up again a short while ago, and I now feel wide awake. I don't think it will last long, and I'll probably be going back to bed again soon.

          Later in the day, once the sun is up, I think I will have shaken off the blues of the weekend enough to get into my workshop and do something creative. I also have some recordings of BBC7 to edit and archive. Yesterday there was an episode of The Goon Show that I have yet to hear, and also the start of a reading of Arthur C. Clarke's "2001" that may well be worth listening to. So hopefully I should not be bored senseless today. One other thing to do later is to et another job application off. Once again it is not a job that I really want to do, but it may be better than nothing.
09.55 BST
Weather - overcast, but dry and cool
           After I finished writing at 2am this morning I downloaded some pictures, I had taken yesterday, from my camera to the PC. I then spent ages looking at them and also many other photos from the last two years. It was close on 4am when I went back to bed. At first I could not get back to sleep. It was beginning to get light outside and the birds were getting noisy. I am sure I even heard some seagulls at one point. Eventually I did go to sleep and did not wake up again until about 9.30. I am not sure how much sleep I got in total. There was at least an hour on the settee when I was supposed to be watching TV. Then I must have slept for 3 hours before getting up in the middle of the night. The last bit of sleep may have been over 4 hours. I guess that means I slept for a total of 8 hours. That ought to be enough to keep me beautiful.............

         I have not mentioned the weather yesterday. It started out similar to today. It was slightly gloomy and I was prepared for another miserable day. In fact by midday the sun had come out, and it shone all the time I was in the beer garden yesterday. It was even good enough to bring a little colour to my right arm, and probably my face. As one day is usually pretty much the same as the next, weatherwise, I am hoping that the sun will be shining again this afternoon.

         I did not take many photos when I was out yesterday, but here's one for the trainspotters. It is of Networker 466001 looking bright and shiny while having a rest between peak hour use in Blackfriars station.
466001 - Blackfriars Station 10/05/2004
Monday 10th May 2004

07.40 BST
Weather - cold and damp
            Some 10 minutes ago, when I first observed the outside world through the bathroom window, the sky looked brighter - even to the point where I thought the sun would soon break through. Now the sky looks darker and it might even rain soon.

             Last night I watched "Top Gear" on TV. I think that finished at 9pm abd I went to bed very soon afterwards. Initially I did not go to bed to sleep but to carry on reading a book of short stories by Isaac Asimov. I finally finished the book at half past midnight and was asleep very soon afterwards. I know I did a lot of dreaming, but I cannot remember any sequences. All I can remember is like still photographs. One such memory is of a page from a book, or maybe just a sheet of paper, with car prices on it. This was presumably inspired by watching Top Gear last night. The prices listed were rather large and it may have been a price list for collectable cars set sometime in the future. All I recall was at the bottom of the list, and presumably the cheapest car, was a Vauxhall Marina for £128,000. Another few flashs of dream I can recall were set in a radio/electronic junk shop. It was full of fascinating stuff all piled in haphazard heaps. It seemed to be housed in an old dungeon though, or maybe it was within a stone walled castle. There was an air of Frankenstein about it, but with no sense of menace. In fact it was quite the opposite. It was a fun and happy place to be. The owner was slightly eccentric and was playing with some high voltage generators which were producing some huge arcs and sparks.It sounds as if I remember enough to really describe what was going on, but I can't. I am still just recalling a few frozen images and a sort of feeling about what it was like. There was definitely no beginning, or end, or anything remotely approaching a story line. I was just there and that was happening. I read somewhere, recently, that the average dream lasts for about 5 seconds. That would be about right for that dream. It was just as if I had popped my head in the door and observed for 5 seconds and then moved on.

          I am still not decided about what to do today. I do have a yearning to go out for some time and maybe a trip up to London to see the location of a possible new employer could be a good idea. It depends on the weather though, and also on how my guts feel. This morning I have a possibly gippy stomach. It feels rather bloated even though I have been to the toilet once this morning. Perhaps after I have washed and dressed it will feel better.
Sunday 9th May 2004

07.15 BST
Weather - cold and damp
              At the risk of making this sound like a blues song..............I woke up this morning very gently. So gently that all memory of the dreams I had have faded away except for some notion about changing the names of chairs. I can't think why it could be an idea to change the name of a chair, nor why a chair should be named in the first place. I assume that my gentle awakening means that I have had enough sleep, and yet I am very tempted to go back to bed for more sleep. I did go to bed early last night, but I did get carried away with re-reading Isaac Asimov's "Pebble In The Sky". It was 00.30 when I turned out the lights and fell asleep almost instantly. So I have had just under 7 hours sleep. That should be enough, but I do prefer a full 8 hours if possible.
21.00 BST
Weather - dull but dry
             Today has been stunningly boring. Perhaps it has been the grey overcast sky, or maybe something else, but I have felt so little inspiration to do anything. It was almost too boring to bother breathing. That is not to say there were not things I could have done, or even things I should have done, but I just could not find any inspiration to get off my arse and do them. It is actually true that there were a few less boring points in the day, but they were few and far between. There was my weekly sci-fi serial on BBC7, and a couple of reasonable bits on TV, but I think I really wanted to go out and have some fun, or at least a breath of fresh air. If only there was somewhere to go to ! I could have gone out and watched some trains I suppose, but that includes long periods of boredom interspersed with brief bits of excitement. Tomorrow I might go out and have a look at the location of a potential new job. I don't think I could stand the travelling if I went for it, but it might be worth a look. It is just North of Kings Cross in what seems to be a disused railway freight depot. That in itself could be interesting, but the pay is not too good and it would mean a long journey packed on a London bound train full of smelly commuters. On the other hand, although the pay is not too good it is a lot more than I am getting at the moment. Decisions, decisions.........
Saturday 8th May 2004

10.35 BST
Weather - cold and damp
              Last night I was annoyed that I missed "Have I Got News For You". I thought it was on at 10pm, whereas it was actually on at 9.30. So I started surfing around the cable channels for alternative entertainment. I watched a documentary or two, but got bored with that, so I started watching a tape of old Ren & Stimpy shows. I got sort of hooked on that and didn't go to bed until nearly 03.00 !  In consequence of that I am running a little late this morning. I did originally get up at 08.30, but after checking my e-mail and feeding Nelly I went straight back to bed. It was Nelly who woke me up from a light sleep just before 10.30. I heard her run up the stairs and then meow when she got to the top. It is the third, or fourth time she has done that in the last 12 months and I am not sure what it means. It may just be high spirits as she does seem very restless at the moment. Yet I have tried to amuse her with a couple of toys and they just bore her. She spent 5 minutes in the garden, but it is too wet out there. Now she has just had a little more from her plate of food and appears to have gone to bed.

              I had better get washed and dressed now. I have more shopping to do. I went shopping yesterday but forgot the vital item that was the core reason for yestedays shopping trip - toilet paper. I am down to half a roll, and that is a dangerous situstion to be in !
22.10 BST

             So what's happened today ? Not much really. I have been shopping to get my toilet paper. I've done some reading. Watched some television, and I tried to install Windows XP onto a spare hard disk connected to the PC upstairs.  Saying it like that suggests that I did not succeed in installing Windows XP. I did, and it works fine up to a point, but I did have some bother and it is still unresolved. I could not seem to get USB 2.0 support to work so one pair of USB connectors do not work. More importantly, because it was the  reason for the experiment in the first place, I can't get the proper drivers and application support for the ATI All-In-Wonder TV card to work properly. At first the application program said I did not have an ATI card installed. Then, having persuaded it otherwise, when I tried to run the "view TV" application the PC froze solid. I think it is issues with the drivers that are causing the problem. Everytime I try and uninstall the old drivers Windows re-installs them using the old ones before I can get the new ones in. I may nave another fight with it tomorrow.

           In other news I had a strange, and still unfulfilled, desire for some Bassetts Liquorice Allsorts this afternoon. In particular I want some of the round blue ones with the knobbly bits on it.
Friday 7th May 2004

06.45 BST
Weather - bright, but no sunshine yet. Broken cloud
           Another morning and I can't tell what the weather is going to do. It looks bright outside, but there is no sunshine. I can see a few blue chinks in the cloud, but the sun is probably too low to shine yet. I can't recall any rain yesterday, but there was very little sunshine. I'd guess today will be similar.

           Yesterday was a very boozy day. I met Ivor, Iain, and Jill outside the pub as we arrived there at the same time. Inside the pub was Max and we were later joined by Paul and Ruth. I think it was only myself, Iain and Max who stayed for the whole session with Paul only appearing for a short while, and Ivor and Ruth both having to pop out for an hour, or so, in the middle. Ivor left us about an hour before I finally left with Iain who gave me a lift home. I'm not sure what time I was dropped off, but I am sure it was after 7 pm. I know it was not long before "The Bill" was on TV. I watched that with a throbbing head. Once it had finished I headed upstairs to bed, but got distracted on the way. I decided to listen to two episodes of Dan Dare that I had recorded off the radio. I must listen to the second episode again today as I fell asleep through it. By 11 pm I was fast asleep in my own bed. This morning the hangover has gone, but I still feel a little tired, and I am tempted to go back to bed. I was only woken up by Nelly who had obviously had her breakfast of "crunchies" and used her litter tray before jumping on my bed for a kip. The latter action, using her litter tray, was only apparent once I came down here. It was definitely peg on nose time !
Thursday 6th May 2004

06.45 BST
Weather - bright, but no sunshine yet. Broken cloud
           It was a good night, last night. Several pints of beer and Kevin doing his best to scare me with all the downsides about my possible move away from Catford. I don't think he actually came up with anything that I have not already terrified myself with.

           I did finally force myself into my workshop yesterday. Once I had overcome my initial lack of enthusiasm I spent quite a long time in there. I might even spend another hour in there this morning, but not much longer than that as I am out boozing again with Ivor at lunchtime.
Wednesday 5th May 2004

07.15 BST
Weather - bright sunshine, wet ground, cold
            What a surprise - sunshine ! As I look out the back of the house I can see blue skies and sunshine. I expect if I looked out the front of the house I would see the storm clouds gathering, but as I am still only in my underpants I won't be drawing the curtains until I am dressed. The ground looks very wet after overnight rain, but will probably dry out fairly quickly if the sun stays shining.

            Right now I ought to take a shower and then force myself into my workshop. It's a shame it will be freezing up there. Not that it is warm down here, and that is a good reason for me to get under a hot shower to warm myself up.
Tuesday 4th May 2004

06.55 BST
Weather - drizzle
            The clouds built up and the day got even duller after I wrote my last words yesterday. By the afternoon it was raining. I had thought about popping out to see if Tescos was open, but with the rain I decided not to even though I was very short of food. For dinner last night I had pea and potato curry. It was the tastiest thing I could knock up given the lack of provisions here. This morning, despite the rain, I have to go to the job centre and will call into the Aldi supermarket on my way back.

           Yesterday was another very lazy day. I did very little and was often bored, but two things did liven it up a bit. First I finally managed to dis-assemble Ivor's old laptop and get the hard disk out. I had put it to one side for the last week or two after failing to find a hidden screw that was stopping me taking it apart. Ivor will now be able to recover his data from the hard drive even though the chances of getting the rest of the laptop working again seem slim.

          The other highlight of the day was a TV programme last night. It was the life of fictional character Norman Stanley Fletcher - the part Ronnie Barker played in the excellent sitcom "Porridge". In this "mockumentary" his life was covered from the day he was born up to present day. Some of the programme was a bit disappointing, but the clips from Porridge were still very funny, and it was good to see Ronnie Barker out of retirement to play "Fletcher" in old age.

          In other , potentially, good entertainment news, BBC7 are starting a 4 part radio serial of Dan Dare tonight. I assume that this will be the radio plays from the 50's or 60's. I can't ever recall hearing Dan Dare on the radio before, but I am expecting it to be good. I vaguely remember reading some Dan Dare stories in The Eagle comic when I was a kid, and I know that one of the TV channels (Channel 4, I think) has been showing some crap modern cartoons of his adventures. Tonight I am expecting to hear Dan Dare speaking like an RAF officer from world war 2, and not like some puffed up yank. If, tonight, he turns out to sound American I'll delete my recording and cancel the other 3 parts. So there! Yah, boo, sucks !!!
20.20 BST

           I have just listened to the recording made today of Dan Dare. It wasn't too bad, but maybe not as good as I hoped. Maybe tomorrows episode will fire my imagination a bit more.

            The day started out really soggy. I got soaked going to sign on. Well maybe not soaked, but certainly wet on the outside. To make matters worse the cash machine I wanted to use was out of money so I had to go further along the road. This took me nearer to Tescos than Aldi so I bought my shopping in Tescos. I also popped into W.H. Smiths and bought a magazine. Having got home I had my breakfast and settled in to do some reading. The dull weather gave me very little inspiration do much else. Later in the morning the clouds broke for a little while and I think the sun came out briefly. It didn't last. Some time in the early afternoon the sky went really black and the rain poured down. There was even some thunder in the distance. After that the clouds started breaking up again and this eveing here was a little sunshine.

           Tomorrow, with or without inspiration from the weather, I must get into my workshop and earn a little beer money. It won't be in time for a drink tomoorow night, but I'll find some money anyway. Hopefully I'll get the money for a boozy session Friday lunchtime. I could do with a pint or two. I have been feeling a little miserable today, or perhaps restless would be a better description. I have spent some time depressing myself about the potential idea of moving home. I have this idea that I would like to move out of Catford to nearer where everbody seems to have migrated to. Somewhere halfway between Barming Station and The Bull would be nice. They are about three miles apart so a 1.5 mile walk to the pub and a 1.5 mile walk to the station would be just about acceptable. The trouble is that would mean living right in the middle of Maidstone Hospital if the warped map in my mind can be believed. Perhaps I would settle for somewhere slightly off centre to a straight line. It is a fine idea but the logistics of moving would be a total nightmare. I am not sure if I could manage it. I prefer the path of least resistance, and the easiest thing to do is to stay put. On the other hand I believe that this house may be needing some expensive repairs in the future and it could be a good idea to cut my losses and get out while the going is good. I would lose a fair bit of value on the house, but that might be worth it in the long run. Decisions, decisions......That's why I fancy a pint and forget about it for a few hours.
May Day Holiday 3rd May 2004

06.40 BST
Weather - bright but cloudy
           This morning has not started as sunny as yesterday, but there is the possibility that the sun will burn off the this cloud and the sun will shine soon. In fact even as I write this it seems to be getting brighter. This is all wrong ! It was supposed to rain today according to the last weather forecast I saw. Admittitedly that was a few days ago so they xould have revised their forecast since. On the other hand there is nothing to say that this afternoon won't see torrential downpours with thunder and lightning. It is an English bank holiday so it is traditional that it should pour with rain !

           All that waffle about the weather suggests there is really nothing to talk about. And it is true ! Yesterday was a very boring day. I could have done some work, but I wanted to have a day of rest, or perhaps a day of leisure would be a better definition. Even though it is a bank holiday, I think I will have to treat today as a normal day or I will go out my mind with boredom. So today I am going to do something.......

           Over the course of that last paragraph it seems to have duller outside instead of brighter. Perhaps instead of trying to predict the weather I should stick with reporting how the day turns out later.
Sunday 2nd May 2004

09.00 BST
Weather - bright and sunny
           What a wonderful way to wake up - sunshine ! The last few days have been very gloomy, although yesterday did stay dry all day. I am not optimstic that today will stay bright and sunny. I am sure I heard a weather forecaster predict that if the sun did come out the heat would boil up a new thunderstorm. Even if it does rain later it is still nice to see the sun when waking up.


Nelly - 1st May 2004 Last night Nelly was looking very relaxed so I thought I would take a photo, or two, of her. Somehow she is never as photogenic as Schiba used to be. I was unlucky when I took this picture because seconds later I could have got a good picture of her yawning and showing a fearsome set of sharp teeth.

One thing of note about this picture (and another that will be a little bit down the page) is that the entire operation of downloading from the camera, and then the cropping and resizing was all done using Linux. I still hate using The Gimp, which is a very high powered image manipulation program for Linux (and Windows). The Gimp just does everything differently to my favourite program - Pain Shop Pro. It is just so hard unlearning one method while learning new methods.

The last picture of Schiba
This must be the last ever picture I took of Schiba. I found it in the camera when I downloaded the picture of Nelly above. It is so eerie in that it was also the last way I ever saw him - standing up by the window waiting to go out - except that on the very last time it was dark and raining. The picture was taken on the 15th of April and just two weeks before he died.
16.30 BST
Weather - more cloud than this morning. Still sunny.
           So far today has been really boring. There are a few things I could be doing, but none have any appeal to me. None of them seem related to a sunny, Sunday afternoon. Probably what I would like to do is go and get drunk with a few friends somewhere.
Saturday 1st May 2004

10.00 BST
Weather - cloudy, but bright. damp and cold
          The sensible thing would have prepared this dairy in advance of the change of month. In fact I could have done it yesterday, but no! I am having to prepare all this right now when I should be getting up and ready to go out for a lunchtime (and afternoon) drinking session.
21.48 BST

           Today's drink was not quite as good as I expected. It may have been becuase it is a bank holiday weeken, but not many people turned up at the pub. Fortunately one person who was there was Mike Lockett who was the senior engineer at the Mastercare workshop. I was eager to sound him out about my non working TV. He had a look at the circuit diagram, which I had taken along, and his views about the way the circuit worked were the same as mine. There was one tiny possibilty about the workings of that circuit that I thought of, but with very little conviction. It is too hard to explain here, but concerned the very tiny possibility that the circuit used an unusual way of working. Mike thought it very unlikely, and that was good enough for me. I am now convinced that all my irst theories were correct, and later theories were just clutching at straws. It still does not explain why I cannot seem to fix the TV though. Sooner or later i will be having another go. An ex-work colleague of mine has sourced a couple of the rare parts I need ( thanks Silv), and I will be able to take a more ruthless approach to faultfinding. With the replacements at hand I won't mind if I blow the whole thing up as I know I will be able to replace at least one of the very rare IC's that I will need. Meanwhile my Solavox TV that I finally managed to repair is still doing sterling service as the main living room TV. Were it not for the absence of a SCART socket I would be happy to continue to use it.

        With few people at the pub today I did not drink as much as usual, but I still felt ravenous when I came in at about 17.30. In the end I ordered a huge mixed kebab with all the trimmings. I now feel rather stuffed, but it was very nice. I'll probably have the runs in the morning.

         After a week of no Schiba I have been trying to work out what Nelly makes of it all. She seems to have settled in one respect, but sometimes she seems to act slightly strange. A few oddities can be put down to the fact that she has less food to choose from now.  Also I am trying to keep her food intake down. It is hard to do this because I am such a softy, but she is very overweight, and I would like her to lose some of it. Mostly she was restricted to one small foil container of food a day, plus some Iams light. At first she was not keen on the Iams light, but she learned that she had to like it. Since yesterday she has been treated with ordinary Iams which she loves and are really her downfall I think. For the last few days she has taken to following me around on occasions. It only happens one or twice a day, but I am not sure of the reason why. This evening she lead me to the spare bed where I usually comb her. She jumped up and I gave her a very good rake through with the flea comb. She really likes that and sits fairly still while purring her head off. Fortunately I did not find a single flea on her so she can be spared the trauma of one tiny drop of liquid on the back of her neck. For some reason that terrifies her. Actually terrifies can't be the right word. She runs away from me and tries to avoid it, but after the dirty deed is done she is back to normal in minutes - hardly like a cat whose has been severly traumatised ! Once I had finished combing her I went to the toilet and she followed me in and jumped into the bath tub. Now that is odd. The only time she used to do that was the summer before last when she had a bad flea infestation. I used to encourage her to stand in the bath while I combed all the fleas out. It was one place where any escapees could be easily seen and contained. If it was not for the fact that I had just combed her and found nothing, I would have thought she was trying to get me to comb out a flea, or fleas, that were irritating her.

         One thing I have noticed Nelly doing is trying out Schibas favourite armchair. He pretty much made it his own, but now Nelly tries out for size for 5 or 10 minutes, but never for much more. She did it this evening. She jumped up on it and immeadiately lay down. She then closed her eyes as if she was going to have a nap, but 10 minutes later she jumped off again and got on her "own" armchair. I suppose this means she still feels he could come back. I think I have got over that feeling now. I still occasionally glance down the garden, or check the back window ledge as I go into the kitchen, but it is slowly becoming less compulsive. I guess you have to compell yourself to get over that sort of tradgedy by yourself, but it would have made it easier if there had been someone to share it with for the first couple of days. Perhaps as Kenneth Williams wrote in his diaries (as related in a documentary about him on TV tonight), that a diary is a sort of a substitute for real people. (I can't remember the exact words, but it was omething with a similar meaning).

Copyright - Bill 2004