As of now I will not be contactable during weekdays by e-mail. I will have my mobile on, and with me, but I would prefer not to receive any but important calls while I am at work.



Tuesday 29th November 2005
Weather - cold but dry

18:00 GMT
     For the last few days I have felt slightly achey. This has been mainly in the morning, and lasts until I have been at work for an hour or two. I don't think it is an illness as such, but it may be a combination of the atil end of the cold I had a week ago, the stress of the early morning commute in the freezing cold, and maybe bad sleeping - possibly becuase my mattress need renewing quite badly. It can't be long before one of the broken springs breaks through and lacerates me. I think I have mentioned this in the past, maybe months ago. It hasn't happened yet, and maybe now I can, or will be able to, afford a new one I might escape injury after all. My aches did reach a new crescendo this morning, although it was not severe pain. Just a sort of all over feling of ache upon ache. The worst bit was that I suffered a minor nose bleed. Strangely it was not from the nostril that sometimes bleeds at odd times. No doubt this is a sign of high blood pressure or cancer, so I took another drag of nicotine and that seemed to help.

 Tomorrow will not be fun. I am having a half day off work to go to the dentist. It will mean some unnecessary rushing around, and a lot of discomfort while in the dentist's chair. I am having a few minor fillings, and half a tooth ground down in preaparation to having a crown fitted (or half a crown to be more precise). The very worst bit, as if all the bits aren't bad enough, is that the dentist will have to take an impression of the teeth so that the crown can be made to precisely fit my mouth. That is a horrible sensation and one I do not relish.

 The real fun comes after the dentist. I am going to meet Kevin, Iain and Howard in The Ram for an early evening pint of WinterWarmer (or two). It will be "interesting" trying to drink that with a face full of anaesthetic !!!!
Sunday 27th November 2005
Weather - cold and overcast

10:46 GMT
    It seems to have been a while since I wrote anything here. I meant to write something yesterday, but somehow never got around to it.

 So far we appear to have escaped any snow in London, but the sky outside, as I write this, looks almost threatening. The clouds are not dark, but the whole sky is a light grey colour. It remains very cold, but is probably not as cold today as it has been earlier last week.

 Work is going OK. I received my first pay packet on Friday. It was glorious to have some money to spend. Since then I have received two letters from the Department Of Work And Pensions. One says that my final dole payment is on it's way, and the other confirms that I will be receiving my "back to work" bonus payment. This latter payment is supposed to tide me over until my first wages are paid. Now that would have been a good idea. I would not have had to borrow money just to get to work. It's just a shame that I will be getting it (hopefully) during my third week at work, and after I have already had to buy 3 weeekly season tickets !

 Now let's look back at a few of the previous days.
    Friday was a good day - at first. There was the anticipation of seeing some money appearing in my bank account, and sure enough Iit did appear. It was in there early enough that I could withdraw some cash on my way into work, and buy some diet cola and fags to help the day go better. It was after work that the day went really badly for a couple of hours. I had cut my lunch break short by 5 minutes so I could leave early to get the 37 bus to The Herne Tavern. The previous Friday I appeared to have just missed a bus and my idea was that by getting to the bus stop a few minutes earlier I might catch it this time. I was at the bus stop by precisely 16:00. I waited and waited in the freezing cold. At 16:15 a bus went by out of service with all its lights off. It was not until 16:25 that a bus finally turned up. It had no heating, and by that time I was almost fozen. After such a long delay the bus soon became packed as it crawled along the road. I was only half way there and already very pissed off and still feeling very chilly. After a cold hour we got to East Dulwich where the driver flashed the internal lights and ordered everyone off the bus. He then swung around the roundabout and headed back to Wandsworth in service. I was too cold to hang around for the next bus so I started walking. I was over a mile away from the pub at this time. I phoned Iain several times before finally getting hold of him and pleaded with him to pick me up. This he graciously did and I was in the warm pub soon after. I reckon it still took another 30 minutes before I had thawed out enough to relax a bit. It was nice to be able to buy several rounds, and to buy Kevin a packet of fags I owed him. I still have some debts to him, and also to Ivor, and I will try and pay them off next week. When I finally got home I was starving hungry so I ordered an excess of Kebab. I really made a pig of myself, and after a long time without practice I was barely able to eat all I had bought.

 Saturday, or yesterday, was another good day. I was up really early, easily early enough to go to work if had needed to. I fed the cats and then sat down to watch some Star Trek and then a Doctor Who omnibus. After that I had the luxury of going back to bed for another hours sleep. Later in the morning I went and raided Tesco's. Once again it was another luxury that i was able to just pick up what  wanted rather than the bare minimum that I needed. Of particular interest was half price blank DVD+R disks. At full price they are not a very keen price, but at half price they were not too bad. I bought 4 drums of 10 disks each. I have already got through almost half of the first drum burning disks that I had not been able to do up until then. (Today I am transferring nearly 8 GB from this Linux box to the other machine that has the DVD burner so I can make some much needed backups. The transfer is estimated to take about 4 hours, and I am now 69% of the way through it. I hope Windows XP can stay alive that long !)

  In a little while I am off to the station to buy my next weekly ticket for work. After that it will be another raid on Tesco's. This one will just be a trip to buy all the little things that I did not buy yesterday. In some ways it willbe more of a bargain hunt. Yesterday I tended to concentrate more on what last week I would have described as luxuries, but today it will be things like cheap packets of pasta, and some other odds and sods. I will also be burning loads more data to DVD, and trying to tidy up both PC's downstairs. The one upstairs is usually kept pretty clean anyway. Most of the tasks, like DVD burning, can be left for the computers to get on with it. So in between the times when they do demand attention I am going to be very lazy !!
Wednesday 23rd November 2005
Weather - foggy start, but milder afternoon

18:48 GMT
     That's over half  the week done, and I am looking forward to getting some money tomorrow. It should be the last dole payment plus anything else the Job Centre may owe me. There is a very unlikely possibility that I could get a "back to work" bonus, but I think that scheme stopped some time ago. So really I have no idea how much I will be getting. Something in excess of £129 would be could as it would reset my bank account to £0.00 (yes that is zero). I am badly overdrawn and collecting charges all the time. At worst I could get as little as one weeks dole money, or £57, but that would be enough to give me about £25 spending money until my first real wages get paid, hopefully, on Friday (bank transfer delays allowing !).

 Today has been a pretty tiring day. I did not get my full quota of sleep last night after hearing some bad news that I will not repeat here. Tonight I must attempt to get to bed directly The Bill has finished on ITV 1 (i.e. 9pm). Hopefully last nights bad news will not prevent me getting to sleep instantly.

 Travelling to and from work is still a chore, but I will grudgingly admit it is becoming more routine now. Occasional delays, like last night, can be a bit bothersome, but it is the impending bad weather that worries me. If we get a heavy fall of snow on Friday afternoon , which the weather forecasts suggest is a small possibilty, I don't know what I will do. I would like to go to The Herne on Friday night, but it could be safer to rush home on the train - if they are even running. Heaven knows what the journey would be like on the 37 bus if the roads are covered in snow, and the trains have stopped running. Maybe I'll even have to spend the night at work !  It's a pretty horrible thought, but at least it would be warm and dry. Ideally London should grind to a halt before I start work in the morning. It would mean loss of pay, but I think I could handle a day off work :-)
Monday 21st November 2005
Weather - frosty start, but sun in afternoon

19:40 GMT
    Today has been hugely successful in at least one respect. I received a copy of the timesheets I need to submit to the Agency, and submitted last weeks one before the deadline tomorrow. So I should get paid on Friday. There is a very small downside to my pay. I am only being paid for a 37.5 hour week instead of a 40 hour week, but that is still enough to keep me happy. Also, I managed to get some response from the Job Centre about my final dole payment. They "have found" my paperwork (!) and I will get my final payment this coming Thursday. This coming Friday I should be rich enough to start paying off all my debts, and buy a round or three when I visit The Herne after work (and after enduring the atrocious journey on the 37 bus).

 Most debts I should be able to settle quite quickly, but at least one will take a bit longer. That one is my debt to Patricia. She has looked after me so well these last few days that it will be hard to adequately repay her for all her kindness. She has been an absolute angel. Sadly she leaves for Spain again tonight and I don't think I will be seeing her until sometime in the new year. This will be a slightly happier departure than last time as I  know she will be back in a more definite sort of way. Last time I was very uncertain about when she would be back, and in my darkest thoughts I wondered if it would even be a year, two years, or at the very worst, never.
21:20 GMT
    I am now back from the station after seeing Patricia off. She now suggests it could even be as early as next January when I see her next, but I suspect it will be more like February. Once again it could be a flying visit, but I hope it will be for a much longer time. There is still a chance that she may get a London based job, and she will be staying for a much longer time.

Just before we left for the station Kevin turned up with perfect timing to deliver some tobacco that I had put out a plea for. Not only did he bring me the tobacco but 20 Bensons, AND a bottle of Winter Warmer. Somehow life just seems to be getting better and better.

 Work has been going OK. I am still spending part of the day doing special projects, but tomoorow I may be lumbered with quality control auditing. That is such a highly skilled job that it needs someone with at least a CSE in woodwork to do it (!). I think it will be a little tedious and a waste of my skills. but if they want to pay me to do it that is their problem. I suspect I may get a little bored doing it, but I will persevere anyway.

 Getting to work later in the week could be fun with the bad weather forecast. If, as is threatened, we do get heavy snow on Friday I may have to abandon travelling and stay at home. It is not what I want so early in my new job, but if it happens, it happens. I will lose a days pay, and a little credibility. Although I would obviously not like to lose a days pay, it will not be the end of the world. I have become so used to living on nothing that even 4 days money will still sem like luxury.

 Very soon I will be in bed and asleep. I started off trying to get to bed by soon after 21:00, but I think 22:00 is safe enough - provided I can get to sleep fairly quickly. I am not sure if that will be easy. I have a lot on my mind at the moment. I am partially "celebrating" the fact that the end of the money darkness is in sight, and partially joyful that Patricia's visit went so well. Plus there is the warm feeling knowing that she will be back again (perhap I ought to explain that some of this doubt about when she will return comes from her. Last time she was uncertain, but this time she is certain that it won't be too long before we meet again). Then there is a little sadness that she has gone. No matter how much I know that she will be back it is still sad to see her go.
Sunday 20th November 2005
Weather - Frosty again

06:50 GMT
    Another frosty morning, but it is almost warm indoors. I have been using all thye heating to keep the place warm while I am in all day, and Patricia is here. I have also dug out the fan heater that serves as an extra cooler for the video editing PC during summer, and as a heater for this back room during winter (for spring and autumn it has a nice rest !). All this leads to the fact that my cold is improving rapidly. This morning I am hardly snotty, but "hardly" does not quite mean not snotty at all.

 Yesterday was sort of relaxed, but not quite. One of the first things I did was to venture out to the corner shop to buy some cat litter. The fresh air did relieve my dripping nose a bit, and my timing was really rather good. Within 50ft of tthe house I had a phone call on my mobile from Patricia to say she was now in Catford and would be along at any minute. So I was able to put fresh litter in Nelly's tray in the nick of time. Five minutes later a very cold Patricia turned up and I was overjoyed to see her.

 The rest of the morning I spent partially relaxing while Patricia did some work over the internet. Then just before lunchtime we went out to the shops. The first pot of call was to get a set of keys cut for her so that the difficulties of Friday night do not recur. (She had to stay at her brother-in-laws place because I was not here to let her in). After the key shop we went round Tesco where she very generously bought me some food for the week (I do love that woman).

 In the afternoon Patricia had to go out to make some enquiries about a possible job. We chatted, and listened to some music until she went to get her train. I was considering going out with her, but I was not feeling right to hang about in the freezing cold so I stayed behind and recorded some continuous music for us to listen to later.

 Patricia came home a bit later than I thought she might, but not that late. So we sat down and listened to more music before watching a film together. By 22:00 she announced that it was time she went to bed (she is still running on central european time = 23:00), but I stayed up a little longer and did some writing before I too went to bed.  It was a lovely day that not even my cold could spoil. The only sad thing is that Patricia has to leave on Monday night. She will be in when I get home from work (joy !), but will leave soon after to spend half the night at Stanstead airport waiting for an early morning flight back to Granada.
Saturday 19th November 2005
Weather - freezing cold

05:50 GMT
    This morning I have a stinking cold, and it is freezing cold in much of the house. I have put some heating on now, but there is none in range of this PC. In theory I have a lot to write, but I don't fancy sitting here too long. I also have a lot to moan about. So I'll get that started before I give up and go back into a warm room.

 First moan : My last dole payment was not made. So ironically I am the most skint I have been since, well ever I guess, even though I have just done a whole weeks well paid work !  There is worse to come though. It seems that I probably should have sent some time sheets into the agency yesterday. I haven't got any to send so my pay could well end up being delayed by a week. Overall this is a calamity ! I am having to borrow money left right and centre at a time when I am supposed to be earning loads of money.

 There is some good news though. Patricia is back in London. Had it not been that I had to go home last night via The Herne, to borrow some money from Ivor, she would probably be here now. I hope to see her later today. As yet I don't know what her plans are, but I do know that she was supposed to be in Granada (Spain) on Thursday and Friday. Her timing could not have been worse, or conversely better. I have a filthy cold and I am as poor as a church mouse. They are going to make things very awkward, but I feel so low just now that I need her more than ever.
Wednesday 16th November 2005
Weather - dry with afternoon sun

21:00 GMT

 That's another day over and done with. My earnings for the last three days of work should have almost exceeds double my old fortnightly dole money. I guess it makes it all worthwhile.

 This morning was not too good. I had a strong fear that I would need to dash for the toilet while travelling to work. Fortunately I found that I had made myself comfortable before I left for the station, but I only discovered that with hindsight. Once I have left the house my only emergency port of call would be Waterloo station. It was an unneccesary relief to get into work it seems.

 During the day I managed to make a start on learning about the printed circuit boards I will have to repair. They actually have very little circuitry on them, but being microprocessor controlled they can do a 1001 things. It will take a little while to get the hang of them, and learn their little quirks.

 I managed to take my short cut home again by changing trains at London Bridge. It is a mad rush to change platforms on time, and this time I did truly run all the way up the stairs there. I had a bit of a revelation when I got in. I thought that I was getting in at gone 6pm, but in fact it is sometime after 5pm instead. Today it was about 5:10pm when I got in. This is not so bad, but the morning rush is still something I am getting used to. I am only getting up about 30 minutes later than I might have got up on many days before hand, but the difference now is I can't go back to bed if I still feel like another hours sleep.  So my evening are  still feeling very short. There are some things  I would like to do, like replying to a few e-mails, tonight, but once this is written, saved and uploaded I will be off to bed to try and catch at least 7 hours sleep. I would prefer a full 8 hours. I can survive on a lot less, but not for 5 days a week. Perhaps in time I'll be happy with only, say, 6 hours sleep, but I think that may take until the days start getting longer.  It will be quite a few months before I will be waking up to daylight, but then I am sure I will be needing less sleep, and will be able to stay up until it gets dark at night. I guess this could be as late as April - maybe even May.

 I am still crossing my fingers that my last dole payment will be paid on Friday. I am very broke right now and have had to break out my emergency tobacco supply. That mainly consists of the dregs from when I finish a pouch of tobacco. It is very dusty, but still smokable. That will keep me going until Friday when I hope I can buy some fresh tobacco, and maybe even 20 fags. I am so tempted to blow my last dole payment in one go, but I have to remember it has to last me for the whole of the week, and possibly even to the following Tuesday if my bank is really slow at receiving the transfer of my wages. Then, and only then, can I splash out on a few luxuries. I want some takeaway food, a bottle of scotch, and after that some blank DVD's, and some new inkjet cartridges for my printer. I want to pay at least £50 into one of my savings accounts, and I suppose I had better pay a few bills as well !!!! Musn't forget that I owe some money as well, and if my dole is not paid I will owe even more money. Of course all this does heavily rely on the fact that I have set up my payment details correctly, or I could find that my wages are delayed even further. That could be a disaster on a grand scale !
Tuesday 15th November 2005
Weather - rain - AM, Sun - PM

20:00 GMT
     Well, that's another day at work over and done with. It wasn't too bad once again. I am still being gently eased into it. Today was odd in that a lot of what I achieved did not feel like work. I spent hours pouring over catalogues and making lists of parts to be ordered. In practical terms someone had to do it, but such a thing in my previous jobs was more like skiving. I have no objection to doing this provided anyone does not consider it skiving. That will come later !

 Coming home was a bit quicker than yesterday. I didn't stay talking today so I was able to catch a slightly earlier train at Wandsworth. That got me to Waterloo earlier, but just meant I had longer to wait for the same train as yesterday. Luckily I jumped on the first train to London Bridge and managed to catch a Hayes train there that had come from Cannon Street. It was a mad dash over the staircase to do it, but it got back to Catford about 10 minutes earlier than the one I would have caught if I had stayed waiting at Waterloo.

 Strangely enough I found I had boundless energy when I left work. At Waterloo I was almost running as I went across the link between the mainline station and waterloo East. I was dodgy slow moving commuters left right and centre while outpacing them all ! At London Bridge I suprised myself by actually running up part of the staircase !!!

 So now I am home and have had a very large dinner of garlic, pasta, and peas with a generous sprinkling of grated mature cheddar cheese on top. That has slowed me right down and I am feeling like going to bed soon. There are a few tiny chores I must do before I go to bed, but there are many things that just won't get done.  Ideally I should be spending an hour or two in my studio, but I am thinking that will have to wait until the weekend. It's not ideal, but that's the way it could be.
Monday 14th November 2005
Weather - Frosty start, but bright day

 My first day at work for over 3 years ! More news tonight (if I have the energy to keep my eyes open).
18:30 GMT
    The day went better than I expected. I am still not keen on the commuting, but it didn't seem that bad today.
The job itself is OK. I had a reasonably easy day, and the hours passed fairly quickly except for the last 45 minutes. I have now confirmed that my working hours are 08:00 to 16:00 with a 30 minute lunch break that I will probably be taking between 13:00 and 13:30.

That is about all I have to say right now. It's time for dinner !!!!
19:00 GMT (yesterday)
  All the paper work for the new job is completed and either in the post, or ready to post in the morning. My tools are packed together with a 500ml bottle of Diet Coke, and a packet of biscuits for sustenance during the day. My weekly season ticket is bought. So I am all ready to face a day of work tomorrow.
Sunday 13th November 2005
Weather - cold and grey
top of page
08:15 GMT
    This could be one of the last of my (usually) regular early morning entries. Tomorrow I start the new job and I doubt I will have any time to do any writing in the morning. For the first days of work it is quite likely I will not be in the mood when I get home to sit down and concentrate on my writing. So my diary will have some holes in it. For the first time the calendar at the top will take on a new significance. Days where I have written something will have hyperlinks, and other days will just show plain text.

 Probably one of the first things I should do this morning is to fill out the form to sign off from the job centre. It is something I should have done yesterday, or even the day before that. Later this morning I will go out and attempt to buy an advance weekly season ticket for Zones 1 to 3. That will cost £25. It is a shame that I never made it back onto New Deal or I could have used a New Deal Photocard to reduce that to something like half price. At the same time I will put the Job Centre signing off form in the post.

 Once home again I ought to get my tools together for the morning. I am not sure what I will need, and what may be provided. So I will just go for a small toolkit of personal tools, and take it from there. If I need anything heavier I will have to lug it over at a later date.

 For the rest of the day I will concentrate on getting into the right frame of mind to get an early night, and get my strength together for the mornings ordeal. At this point in time I don't even know how to get into the building, or even who I am supposed to report to. These questions, and the question of the tools I should have sorted out on Friday, but being out all day I did not get the chance to do so. I am not even sure I have a phone number for the company (although I can probably find one on their web site).
 Yesterday was a gloomy day for me. I was still pissed off by Ruth ignoring me on Friday night, and there is all the stress of facing the trials of this new job. There are so many unknowns still. Will the travelling "kill" me. Will I have the energy to keep going all day in a strange environment, and will I be able to cope with the boredom of some of the jobs I may have to do. Lastly is the fact that I still have not set up the contract with the accountants who will be paying me. There was some further information about that I could also have sorted out on Friday. In some ways there is no immediate rush for this as nothing can really proceed until I get my P45 from the job centre, but it would have been nicer to progress a little further towards getting it set up. About the only sure thing in all this is the repair of the PCB's I feel most confident about that.

 So picking up the story from when I last wrote at 16:00 yesterday.............well, actually there is not much more to add. I just lazed around watching TV. At 22:00 I decided to turn off the TV and thought I would go to bed, but instead I sat down here and wrote a long e-mail. It seems it was 01:19 when I sent that e-mail (I just had to check in my e-mail client). Only then I did I fall into bed and fall asleep instantly.
Saturday 12th November 2005
Weather - cool and sunny
top of page
16:00 GMT
   It is now late in the afternoon and the sun is going down fast. So far it has been a very lazy day. I originally got up at about 06:15, but after feeding thje cats, and reading some e-mail I went back to bed. I didn't think I was going to sleep. My brain was stuck in a loop rehearsing a hundred different fantasy speeches, and composing a hundred different fantasy e-mails. It came as a bit of a shock to wake up after what felt like a few minutes sleep to find it was 10:25.

 After getting up I did some laundry, and emptied a rubbish bin or two. I then went to Tesco and stocked up on a some cat food. It will be difficult to find the energy to lug heavy tins of catfood around next week after a hard day at work. so I ahve stocked up sufficient foos for the cats. I think I have just enough to survive on myself until next weekend. Besides which I have no more money for food (except some of the change from Kevin's loan after I have bought a weekly season ticket, and I will probably need that for dinner money while at work).

 Since getting back from Tesco I have hung up my wet laundry and done nothing else at all. (Unless you count watching the movie Thunderbird 6 as doing something).
 Yesterday started with undue haste. After the very late night I woke with a hangover, and I couldn't remember what time Iain would be calling for me. I was halfway through a word in the second sentence of yesterday's diary entry when my door bell rung. I had to shout out for Iain to hold on while I bolted upstairs to put some trousers on before opening the door. Then Iain had to wait while I washed and dressed.

 We got to the school a little later than Iain intended, but still over 30 minutes before Ivor got in. It may possibly have been earlier than that, but I wasn't really paying attention  until closer to lunchtime. At lunchtime we headed for the pub for lunch and a long afternoon celebrating me finding my new job. Later in the afternoon Max dropped in to give me a card congratulating me on my new job. She did not stay more than an hour or two because she was tired. Before she left she said that Ruth would be along soon, but probably would not be staying because she had a "hot date" for that night. I was a little jealous of that as I was looking forward to seeing Ruth (as well as hoping she might have some tobacco for me).

 I don't know what time it was, but it must have been around 18:00 when Ruth came into the pub. Instead of coming over to see us we were completely ignored. That hurt a lot especially as she had sent me a text message a couple of days ago saying " Congratulations Bill!
Will see you friday & have a goob (sic) knees up! xxx ". Somehow she managed to sneak out of the pub without us seeing her go, presumably with her new lover.

("Sic" is Latin for "such." It is used, typically in brackets, to indicate that the writer/editor is aware of an error or apparent error. ref)

That really put a damper on the whole evening and I felt most miserable when I got home. I should have ignored it after everyone else had been so good to me, but it felt such a personal insult and touched a very raw nerve. Even today I am not happy about it. It is just the sort of thing I didn't need when already under the stress of having to cope with all the doubts of starting a new job, and the fear of such a long commute to go to work, and coming home again.
Friday 11th November 2005
Weather - wet and windy
top of page
06:45 GMT
    Urggggggggggg. I seem to have another hangover. This is a shame be...............................................................................
 That was as far as I got before Iain was ringing on my doorbell to take me to "work" with Ivor as a prelude to an afternoon boozing in The Herne. The rest of the story continues as the "yesterday" section in Saturdays entry.
It's Saturday afternoon as I try and remember what happened on Thursday.

 During the morning I spent several hours in my workshop. I didn't achieve every possible thing I could have done, but I did do the important stuff. The first part of the afternoon was spent almost shivering with cold while waiting for the right time to come around to go to the dentist.

 I left the house at 16:00 for my 16:30 appointment. It felt a lot milder outside than I had been expecting. After the 20 minute, mostly gentle uphill, but fast, walk I was feeling very hot. In fact my forehead had broken out with a sweat. Luckily I had a spare 10 minutes to cool off outside before I went in, and then another 15 minutes waiting until the dentist became free from her last patient.

 The dentist had a poke around and pronounced that the crater in my tooth, where the filling had fallen out, would be too big to fill properly after she had removed some minor additional decay, and prepared the surfaces for an amalgam filling. Instead she proposed fitting not a full crown, but half a crown. To be more precise a gold half crown (which sounds very weird with it's similarity to old pre-decimal money). This will require probably two additional visits. On this visit all she did was to put a temporary filling in to protect the tooth. I explained that I was starting a new job and would not be available for a second appointment for a week or two. She said that was fine, and that she could hold the treatment open for two months. This means that because I started the treatment while on Job Seekers Allowance it will free even though it will be finished as a working, and waged man. This is a very good idea as it will still be some time before I have built up sufficient funds to start spending on "luxuries".

 In the evening Kevin popped round to give me £40 that he had promised to lend me for fares money for next week. He also suggested we should go to The Ram for a couple of pints of Winter Warmer. Well, Winter Warmer being what it is, those 2 pints turned into 4 and we staggered out at closing time. To further compound the error we were still talking outside the pub at midnight. The last bit of craziness was that I stayed up watching the repeat of The Bill on ITV 3. That did not finish until 01:30, and in the meantime I got a bad attack of the munchies. So I went to bed hideously late with a gut full of strong beer and evil snacks.
Thursday 10th November 2005
Weather - cold and dry
top of page
07:00 GMT
       Today will be dominated by a visit to the dentist at 16:30. It is perhaps very fortunate that ths dental visit, where at the very minimum I will be having a large filling replaced, is happening this week. Next week I start work for the first time in 3 years. This means I will off the dole and dental treatment will, once again, become terribly expensive.

 I hate getting involved in anything prior to a visit to the dentist, and it is slightly annoying that this appointment is a later afternoon one. I much prefer an early morning appointment. Nevertheless I will try and get some stuff done during the day. I have some things I ought to do in my workshop. In theory they should be several small jobs that I can pick up and put down at any time.

 One other thing I may pluck up the courage to do today is to phone my bank. It may not be a good time to ask, when I am £65 overdrawn, but I am wondering if I can convince them to increase my overdraft by somewhere between £100 and £200. My overdraft is currently £100 and I am constantly using it. Another £100 would cushion the blow of all the impending fares, and allow me to buy food while I am out during the day. In theory, even if my overdrafy goes up to £300, I should be able to pay it all back and get back into credit by the end of this month. If I haven't gone mad, or been sacked, by December I should start to feel rich again, with enough surplus for some luxuries.
 Yesterday was dominated by calls, and e-mails, from the recruitment agency that have found me my new job. The first call was to tell me I had been accepted for the job, and did I definitely want it. From then on, once they had caught the smell of money, they were ultra efficient and I was checked up on, or sent e-mails, many times during the day. It is all more-or-less sorted out now. The contracts have been signed and all that needs sorting out now is the method of pay. Initially the job is just a 3 month contract, but if everything works out OK I should be offered a permanent position with the company who will be hiring me from the agency. It is because I will, in effect, be working for the agency that my pay will be going through a firm of accountants. This is all new to me and initially seems a little confusing as to what they want in terms of paperwork. Maybe the details of that will be thrashed out today.

 I don't know if it was all the fresh air on Wednesday, or the hangover from all the booze the same night, or even my last bout of 'flu putting a re-appearance (as 'flu will sometimes do), but I felt very tired and unispired yesterday. I felt like that before I got the news about the job. So I can't blame worrying about the impending stress of commuting next week for it. Although I expect that did help to contribute to it laater in the day. Apart from dealing with all the calls from the agency, all I managed to do yesterday was to spend a few hours in my studio. I had to force that. It should have been an enjoyable experience, but I found it was a tremendous effort to finish what I had started.

 I went to bed early last night. I thought I ought to get into practice for the very early mornings I will be "enjoying" next week. The trouble is that forcing myself into bed early had the opposite effect. I couldn't get to sleep until almost half past midnight. Ideally I will be fast asleep by at least 23:00 every night next week. I think I will be getting up at 05:30 every morning then. I am generally an early riser, but even I draw the line at 05:30. The exact time I will need to get up depends on the route I take to work. There are two possibilities. One is to get the train via Waterloo to Wandsworth Town station. This takes about an hour with a 15 minute walk at the end. The other route is to get first a 185 bus, change at Dulwich to a 37 bus, and that drop me very close to work. The bus will be a lot cheaper, but could take almost 2 hours door to door. The train wil be far more expensive, has the 15 minute walk at the end, but will shave at least 30 minutes off the time of the bus, and maybe even 45 minutes. The dilemna has more overtones than that. As much as I hate the bus option for the time it takes, there is also the fact that in very wet weather it will be far less walking than the train. So there are two plus points for the bus (the other being the relative cheapness). The bus also has one other minor plus point. By staying on the 37 bus for another 5, or 10 minutes, it passes quite close to The Herne where I could grab a pint or three with Ruth and Iain, and anyone else who is there. Even if I end up using the train for most journeys, I may well take the bus on Friday nights !
Wednesday 9th November 2005
Weather - cold and dry
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06:30 GMT
    I appear to have a little hangover this morning !  Fortunately I do not have anything essential to do this morning. Which is not to say that there are not some things I ought to be doing. I have two little projects that could result in money I ought to try and get enthusiastic about. Maybe I will do something towards one or the other today. Right now though, I do not feel like doing anything.
 Yesterday was a long day. I spent the first bit of the morning prparing for the job interview. Finally at 10:44 I caught the train at Catford Bridge to go to Waterloo East. I then did the little walk to Waterloo Mainline station to catch the train to Wandsworth Town Station. The internet journey planner suggested I would be catching the 11:33 train, but they were obviously very generous with their timings for the walk between stations because I caught the 11:15 train, and still had time for a fag while I was waiting. The ride from Waterloo to Wandsworth probably takes a similar time as from Catford to Waterloo. I am not sure what time it was that I arrived at Wandsworth station, but I was then faced with a long walk through unfamiliar streets. I think I may have gone the slightly wrong way round from the station. I was a bit disorienteated, and the roads did not seem to match my map. I estimate it took about 20 minutes to walk from the station to where the interview took place. I got there a full 45 minutes early. After allowing 15 minutes to cool off, and have a fag, I went in to reception and announced myself to the receptionist. 15 minutes later I was in and having my interview. I think it went well, but you never know with these things. There would appear to be 5 other candidates for the job. So there is actually a bigger chance that I will not get the job.

 After the interview I decided to take the alternate route home, or part of it. This would entail two buses. From Wandsworth  I would get the number 37 bus as far as Dulwich, Goose Green. I would then change to the 185 to get from there back to Catford. On this occasion I stayed on the bus until Peckham Rye, and walked up to The Herne to meet up with Ruth, Ivor, Iain and, surprisingly, Howard. The bus ride was awful. It took ages and the seat was purgatory to sit in. It was rock hard and had a very peculiar shape not really suited to human anatomy. I think it may have been designed for aliens.

 If I am offered the job I will have to make a very difficult decision on how I will get there and back home again. The bus will be a lot cheaper, and does go almost door to door. The train is a far better way to travel, it is quicker, but will cost a lot more. Unfortunately it does have the irritating little walk when I change trains at Waterloo, and there is the fairly long walk at Wandsworth (not bad on a cool dry day like yesterday, but in bad weather............). This is a decision I may have to make with undue haste. If I get the job I will be starting next Monday. I think on the first day I will use the bus and see how it goes. Maybe once I am richer I will use the trains.

 I had a good time in The Herne. Ruth had some tobacco for me, and I just had enough change left over to buy her a drink. It was dark when we left the pub, but at this time of year it is dark very early. I think it was about 18:00 when we left. By the time Iain dropped me home I was starving hungry after not eating all day. All I had that was easy to cook was a bag of frozen roast potatoes. I dumped them in the oven while I drunkenly attended to some e-mails. 30 - 40 minutes later I sat down and had my "breakfast" - roast potatoes with some olives. Strange maybe, but very tasty ! For what was left of the evening I just watched TV. I can't even remember what I watched now - obviously nothing exciting ! I was in bed fairly early, maybe 22:00, and fell asleep very quickly.
Tuesday 8th November 2005
Weather - cold and bright
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07:00 GMT
     Today brings another job interview in, of all places, Wandsworth. The interview takes place at 12:30 and it will either take 1¾ hours to get there by bus, the cheap option, or about 60 minutes by train - more expensive, but a preferable way of getting there (apart for the ½ mile walk across Wandsworth). In practice the difference in journey time between the two options may not be that different. So if I do get offered the job it will be a toss up between whih method of transport will make me want to slash my wrists first ! With no long irritating waits in traffic the train may well be the better option even if it is more expensive, and the Catford to Waterloo leg of the journey (and vice versa) will be like travelling in a sardine can. The other downside of the train is that there will be more walking involved. Even the walk from Waterloo East to the mainline station is irritating. My hope is that Patricia does get the job she was interviewed for last Thursday, and that she ends up staying here to do the job. We will both have murderous journeys (possibly even taking the same train from Catford Bridge), and can support each other in the endeavour.

 The job I am going for is a bench technician repairing CCTV equipment. It should be the sort of thing I can do well, and not too dissimilar to what I was doing with Mastercare in my last job. My only real worry is that my eyes have deteriorated a lot in the last few years. Reading the text on micro-miniaturised components gets harder every year as my eyes get worse and the components get even smaller.

 It is very likely that no matter how I get to the interview I will endure a very long bus ride back to Peckham. The bus in question, a 37, passes within half a mile of The Herne. I want to see Ruth (if possible) and I may need a drink after all that travelling !

 Just before waking up this morning I was dreaming about todays interview. The dream reflected my only fears about the interview. Namely getting there, and getting there on time. In the dream I was in a school that was also very much like a telephone exchange, and there was some confusion about whether I was working there, or studying there. It was a sort of mixture of both. The crunch came when I realised that the clocks had not been changed there for many years. I was gasping for a fag and the clocks were saying it was only 09:30. When I checked my own watch I realised that the reason I was gasping for a fag was because it was really 12:30. This was the time I was due to be at the interview. I wasn't washed and I was dressed in grubby work clothes, but I phoned the company to say I was going to be late and set out to try and get there. I had left all my paperwork at home, but I thought I could remember the important bits. As I woke up I was wondering if I could get to Waterloo from Woolwich station.
 Yesterday started off with good intentions, but deteriorated by lunchtime. During the morning I finished reformatting the "video" hard drive in my video editing PC, and I defragmented the system disk as well. Then I started on some artwork for the video, and played around with some animation for the DVD opening sequence. The animation may be usable, but it is not terribly exciting. As I was finishing that, and preparing to start transferring digital video from the camera to the PC the phone rang. It was Ivor and he lured me to The Ram for a drink.

 It was not just any drink. I found that the infamous Winter Warmer was back available. So I ended up having three pints. That put paid to doing anything for the rest of the afternoon, and into the evening.

 Just before I went out I received a reply about the other job I was interested in. This was the one where I said that the correspondence would be closed if they were one of the 9 in 10 employers who actively discriminated against the overweight. The response I got said that a change of circumstances had rendered the job unavailable. I am tempted to phone up as someone else to make enquiries about the job to see if it really has been withdrawn. I am deeply suspicious about it.

 Right now I ought to get washed and preened ready for a long day out.
Monday 7th November 2005
Weather - cold
top of page
06:30 GMT
    I think I will be spending many hours today doing some video editing. It was something I was going to do yesterday, but I only made a start on preparing the computer to receive gigabytes of video data.

 Another thing I have to do, and do first thing this morning, is to chase up the details for a job interview I am due to attend at 12:30 tomorrow. So far I know when it is supposed to be, but not where I am supposed to be going, or even the name of the company. All I know is that they are most inconveniently based in, or around, Wandsworth.

 If I have any time left over, perhaps if I need a break from video editing, I have a few electronic repairs to do. Perhaps I may even look at my VHS machine that has been lying unrepaired now since mid summer (or even earlier !).
 Yesterday was far less productive than I hoped it may be. That is not to say I wasted all my time. I went to Tesco to buy catfood in the morning. That went surprisingly smoothly considering how stiff my legs had been the previous day. As I lugged 12 tins of catfood, and 8 litres of Tesco Diet Cola back home it felt like all my energy had returned after that 'flu like illness. To some extent that was just a confirmation of my recovery first suggested after, or during, the long walk around London last Friday. That ended with me feeling fairly knackered. Yesterday's shopping trip was the first time that I had carried a heavy load, and I was not knackered after doing it (well not too much !).

 Another task succesfully carried out yesterday was to do a load of washing. After that I confess I did not do that much. In the evening I made a start on preparing the video editing computer to receive a vast amount of data. I had to move some previous data from the 80GB  secondary drive to an external 250GB drive. This was a dangerous operation because I know that 250GB drive is failing. Hopefully it will last long enough to enable me to eventually back up that data elsewhere. Unfortunately transferring between 30 and 40 GB over a USB1 link is not a very fast process. In fact it turned out to be an overnight job. As I write this it has only recentl finished and I am reformatting the 80GB drive ready for the smooth recording of over an hours worth of high quality digital video. I'll also need to defragment the 80GB system drive in that PC for better running.  It is surprising how loads of little files can add up to a huge amount. There is only 15GB left on the system disk, and yet there are no very large files on it (as far as I know). It is possibly getting near the time when I ought to take a deep breath and make a fresh installation of Windows on that drive. There would be no problem with that provided I could identify what additional programs I want on the machine, and where the installation files for them are.

 The rest of yesterday was made up with a few shorter tasks like washing up and cooking. One significant thing I did was to apply for an application form for another job. This one is for a Physics Laboratory Technician in a school (or lab tech as we used to call them). There are some possibly good reasons why I won't get the job. The most obvious is that I have no previous experience in a role like that.  I think that is a minor matter, and one that should not neccessarily bar me from the job. There is one problem that I have addressed from the beginning. In my covering letter, requesting the job application pack, I said that if they were one of the 9 in 10 employers who reports suggest actively discriminate against the overweight we would consider the corresponence closed. This puts them on the horns of a dilemna. Either they come up with a very reasonable excuse for not taking me on, or they risk adverse publicity as a school that practices discrimination  without any reasonable excuses for doing so. Probably not the sort of thing a popular well known school, with a good reputation. would like to be made public. It's a subtle form of blackmail !  I feel I will be turned down anyway for different reasons. I will accept that provided they do not sound like spurious reasons.

 I finished the day by watching a lot of Terminator 3 which was being shown on one of the ITV channels (I think). I say I watched a lot of it because I was also attending to the cleaning up of the video editing PC at the same time. So I missed the beginning, but worst of all I missed the ending. What I did see was fairly predictable in content, but maybe not story line, and was mostly enjoyable in a very undemanding sort of way.
Sunday 6th November 2005
Weather - cold
top of page
06:30 GMT
     I had better stop moping today and get on with some stuff. There are a couple of things I could do today that could eventually lead to a bit of extra money. It would be sensible to make a start on those, but in some ways I am very tempted to do some slightly more pleasurable, or educational things. Pleasure/education often being the same thing - I must be a masochist when I equate some education with pleasure (i.e. pursuing some computer experiments !).

 Before I do any of the above I have some chores to do. I have quite a pile of laundry to take care of. I need to buy some catfood as I have just finished the very last tin. Then there is some washing up to do. I think that after those three are put in motion I will be free to pursue some or all of the other things.

 Now it is just a question of motivation. I feel a little weary, and not very motivated, but with something like will power I will try and overcome that. Of course it doesn't help that it seems rather cold today. Maybe it will warm up a bit, but so far it doesn't look as if we will get any sun today.
 Yesterday the sun came out and shone brightly up until the departure time for Patricia's flight back to Spain. After that the sun went in,  the temperature dropped, and I felt cold and empty for the rest of the day (although that had little to do with the weather).

 I took Patricia to the station for the 10:30 train. As the train pulled in we had one last hug before she got in and the doors closed between us. At that point I felt very weary and as I walked back home my legs finally came to express their grief over all the walking I did the previous day. In particular, my left ankle seemed very painful. While walking to the station with Patricia all these aches were hardly noticable.

 I got home and decided to lie down and have a bit of extra sleep, but sleep would not come as I was not really physically tired. After a while I got up again and reheated the left over pasta I had made for Patricia the previous day. Within an hour of eating that I then ate the rest of the bread she had bought in the Tesco Express store on Trafalgar Square, and used up the last of the special Spanish ham she had brought for me. By themselves that should have been enough food for the day, but I had a constant hunger that lasted until shortly before I went to bed last night. So I nibbled on chocolate biscuits, and had a bowl of cereal quite late into the evening. No matter how rationally I knew that eating would not fill the emptiness I felt inside, I still had to do it.

 Between eating I filled in the rest of the day with little more than a mixture of TV and reading. Reading was best because I could lose myself in the book. Some TV was worthless because it demanded more concentration than I had available. The one exception was watching Galaxy Quest on UK TV Gold. I own the DVD of that, and have watched it several times, but even last night, when my mind was on other things, I still felt it was a very watchable film.

 Of course all that moping around was rather silly. I am sure I will have to wait less time to see Patricia again than the last time, but most of the previous last times were only short meetings. By comparison, the last few days were concentrated ecstasy, and like a drug addict I am now totally hooked and going through withdrawal symptoms. My sadness is added to by the thought that for various reasons Patricia was unable to enjoy here stay here with the same depth that I was able to. After all it was not a holiday, but a trip to attend a job interview.

 To round off a miserable day I had a very large filling fall out of one of my teeth late yesterday evening. So far it has cused little pain, but I think there is potential there for terrible future agony. I will have to get that sorted out as soon as possible, but there is the problem of not yet knowing if I will be called for a job interview next Tuesday. It would be silly to make an appointment on Monday morning and to be offered next Tuesday. Both the job interview and the dentist are equally important for my future well being, but I think the job interview should come first if it is still going to go ahead.

 The thought of a job brings about it's own conflicts. If Patricia ends up working in London I will not want to be tied down to a job so that I will have the maximum amount of hours available to see her, and yet I need the money. The imperative for the money will be even stronger if Patricia is around. I already owe her a lot (even as a gift I still consider it a debt), and I would like to be able to spend some money on her as well. I have a long standing promise that with my first full wage packet I will take her out for a delicious meal in a resturant.
Saturday 5th November 2005
Weather - bright and cold
top of page
07:30 GMT
    Today is a sad day. Sometime this morning Patricia will be flying back to Spain again, but I don't think this is the last I'll see of her. If she gets, and accepts, her new job then I could be seeing her in as little as a week or two, but if not it could be months, or even years before we meet again.

 I have no idea what I will do once she leaves today. There are several things  could do, but I am not sure I will be in the right frame of mind to do any of them. The chances are I will just be very lazy for the rest of the day.
 Yesterday was a wonderful day. It was only marred by getting another letter from my bank saying I was past my overdraft limit again, and being penalised for it. So this is another fortnight when my dole has evaporated before my very eyes.

 Part of the morning was a little boring as well because Patricia had to go out and attend to some errands. It was the afternoon, and the rest of the day that was so wonderful.

 When Patricia came back home I managed to anticipate her arrival with uncanny accuracy. I had cooked some spinach and tuna pasta, and it was just about ready when she came in. Beyond the satisfaction of getting my timing right, I also received praise for my cooking efforts. So started the rest of a memorable day.

 After allowing a short period of time for lunch to settle we went out up to London. We took a very long, but most pleasant walk from London Bridge station to Trafalgar Square, and the National Gallery. On the way there we called in on  the Tate Modern . It was only a brief visit but we saw the latest  strange exhibition (it has a name, but my memory fails me). It was the "artistically" arranged piles of white translucent boxes. It did have a strange attraction about it, but it was that same fascination as looking at a car crash. The great entertainment value of it was not that it was art, but that someone had the strange notion to call it art. Maybe that is how it was intended, and on that level it succeded.
Tourist like view of Patricia set against The Thames

Here's a very touristy picture of Patricia set against the backdrop of The River Thames.

From The Tate we walked to Trafalgar Square where we had a chance to see the new controversial statue on the fourth plinth around the perimeter of the square. Patricia loved it, but I found it a little disturbing.
The new Statue
We then went into the National Gallery. That was facinating, although my appreciation was not really the same as those who like art. I found myself loking at the pictures with the eye of a television engineer. I was judging the pictures like a TV picture - looking at such things as resolution, and colour accuracy, as well as contrast/brighness. Despite looking at the pictures in that rather cold analytical way I did find myself marvelling at a few pictures. In some the use of colour and perspective did give some an amazing 3D depth. I was also surprised at the brightness and vibrancy of some of the pictures. Yet some pictures I could see no merit in at all. There were some that looked as if they should have been in a private photo album rather than hanging on a wall on public display. What I mean by that is that they resembled snap shots done on an old box brownie that meant something special to the person taking the picture, but had no relevance to a wider audience. They seemed more on par with the rough and ready snapshots I take of Nelly. They have no merit at all apart from to remind me , in later years, of what Nelly looked like at some point in the past.

 Despite that slightly jaded view of the picures it was a terrific experience, and a real pleasure to have done it with Patricia. By myself I would never have gone into the place despite it being a major asset to London. I hope we can do it again some day.

 After the National Gallery we recrossed Trafalgar Square to pop into the Tesco Express there to buy some bread and butter for the Spanish ham Patricia had bought me. With provisions in hand we went to Charing Cross station where lady luck smiled down on us again. There was a train home already in the platform and waiting for us. Very soon we were home again.

 We had to go out one more time after that so that patricia could pick up some money from a Western Union office in Catford. Once that was done we could settle down with a bit of food and drink for a long philosophical discussion lasting until gone 01:00 in the morning. And so ended possibly the best day of all for me of Patricia's visit here.
Friday 4th Novemeber 2005
Weather - cold
top of page
06:15 GMT
     The good news for today is that my dole should have been paid into my bank account. That will please my electricity supplier because they will now be paid some money !

 My plans for today are slightly flexible. This morning I will be mainly lazy and do some relaxing. Maybe even catch up with a bit of sleep. This afternoon I believe I am going to the National Gallery with Patricia. After we have been there she is intending to treat me to a meal. I am not sure if I want that, or even if we should or could afford it. As an alternative I was intending to cook her at least one of my special meals - probably just something simple like pasta with tuna and spinach.

 Tonight I am hoping we will have a very pleasant evening in together. It will be her last night here, and the only one that has not been rushed in some way.
 For a lot of yesterday I felt very tired. While Patricia was out at her job interview, and doing very well at it, I tried to catch up with some sleep on several occasions. Although very tired I did not manage to sleep at any time. Sometimes it was just the howling wind that kept me awake, and at other times I found that sleep would just not come for reasons unknown. So I basically had just a very lazy day.

 Patricia got home at about 17:00 after enduring two long bus trips, and vowing never to get a bus from Central London to Catford ever again (unless there was no alternative). We had only about an hour together before first Iain, and very shortly afterwards, Ivor turned up to drive us to The Bull in Barming.

 I think Patricia was very brave to join us, but she seemed to have a good time with us. I think it went on  just a little too long for her, and we were both flagging by the time we left the pub.
Patricia at The BullIt was a long drive home made even longer by a diversion on the M20.

By the time we got home we were both exhausted and went straight to bed. At first I thought I would sleep again. It may have been the fault of the first beer I had, which was the last from the barrel, and did taste a little off, but I felt a little queasy. I also had a headache. It haad started in the pub before any hangover could take effect. I think it was just a reaction to a long day. Despite that I did get to sleep fairly quickly. Considering how knackered I was this was not surprising. I was awake again at, or even before, 05:30 and had a not only a hangoverish sort of headache, but a bad stomach ache as well. A quick trip to the toilet mostly sorted that out.

Pictured on the left is Patricia in The Bull at Barming looking both amused, and a little tired.

 Once I have uploaded this I think I will go back to bed again.
Thursday 3rd November 2005
Weather - wind and rain
top of page
06:00 GMT
   I can choose to be lazy today if I want. There is always more cleaning I could do, but Patricia is here now and seems to have accepted that the place is not too bad. I may tackle the gas cooker if I feel very enthusiastic. I stand no chance of getting it clean today, but I probably could make some improvements.

 Tonight we have a drink to go to at Barming. There is some doubt if Patricia will be coming with me. She has a pretty busy day today and says she may not feel up to it. In the worst case scenario I may noty be able to go. If Patricia gets back here too late then I will miss my lift to the pub. Of course it would be an equally nice evening to stay in with her, but I am expected to go tonight.

 One of the first things I will be doing today is to go back to bed once Patricia has left. We were up chatting until quite late last night, and the sound of the wind and rain has got me up a lot earlier than I desired. So another hours sleep would not be a bad idea.

 I think I am going to savour the next few days until the sad time comes when she returns to Spain on Saturday.
 Yesterday I put the final touches to my "spring cleaning", or at least as far as it went. Most of what I did yesterday concerend cleaning the kitchen. It is now the cleanest it has been in years. The worst part was the window sill at the end of the kitchen. That has had a double row of interesting looking beer bottles on it for years. The beer bottles are interesting in that they use etched, or painted labels. Many of them were unusual imported beers. Now some of them are in the bin. The problem was that there was a terrible build up of stuff behind those bottles. That included a wide selection of dead insects. I was glad I was wearing rubber gloves when I cleaned that lot up !

 It was about 17:00 before I decided that I had had enough with cleaning and decided to relax. It was an uneasy relaxation because I was high on anticipation of Patricia getting here.

 I was tracking her flight on the internet, and eventually I saw that her plane was due early, and finally that it had landed over 30 minutes earlier. Later I wished that I had the resources to meet her at Gatwick. I was expecting her here early, but for some reason she didn't think she could find a train to London Bridge (to change for a Catford Bridge train). She ended up getting the Gatwick Express to Victoria, and from there getting a bus to Catford.

 She called me when she got off the bus, and I met her on the main road at sometime after 21:30. I can't recall the exact time, but it was probably still a little earlier than she had originally suggested that she would get here (about 22:30). She was looking very loverly when I found her. We came back home and I showed her around, and made her some coffee. She seemed pleased with the place and with the coffee. We listened to some music and talkd to about 01:00 before going to bed. It appears she slept well, and in fact as I write this still appears to be still sleeping well.
Wednesday 2nd November 2005
Weather - cold and damp
top of page
05:40 GMT
    Well this is it ! The big day has finally arrived. After a close to 5 month wait I finally get to see Patricia again. I am expecting her at about 22:00 tonight, and I still have plenty of preparation work to do. I want her few days of staying here to be as pleasant as possible so that there is a chance she will do it again some day.

 There are now two very important areas I have to work on. One is this room. We won't be spending much time in here, the back room, but it needs a hoovering badly, but worse than that it is where the cats eat. So that area needs a good scrub or there is the potential for it to stink the house out with old food smells. The other area that needs some thorough attention is the kitchen. In particular the area around Nelly's litter tray, and of course the litter tray itself.

 Some minor tasks include giving the bathroom one final polish, and to hoover the floor up there. The final task is to attack the gas stove again. I did some prepatory work on it yesterday, and basically it is beyond redemption. (At least in the timescale available). I will have another attempt at it sometime today. It will help if I can just degrease the knobs. I may resort to meths to do that. If that can't degrease the knobs there is little hope for the rest of it. If I have any time left over at all, and the stamina to do it, I may attempt to clean a few windows.

 One other task for today is to spend, as wisely as possible, my last £10. I think I need some coffee amongst a few other items. If I can stretch that £10 far enough I will invest in a little posy of flowers to brighten up Patricia's bedroom.
 Yesterday, being the second to last day for "spring cleaning", was fairly busy. I spent many hours scrubbing down the work surfaces, and the sink, in the kitchen. They have all come up fairly well apart from one corner of the work surface where a bottle of cooking oil once leaked. I am not sure what that has congealed into, but it resisted the attack of several different kinds of cleaners combined with scourers. I  did manage to remove most of it, but there is still a little patch that might be better attacked with a power sander, or blowlamp (neither of which I will be attempting).

 It turned out I had two major interuptions to my workflow. One has already been documented. I had to sign on yesterday at the new Job Centre. It was a bit unsettling at first. There are security guards on the doors, probably a left over from the days when the building was a DHSS office seeing all sorts of riff raff. Getting past them was easy enough, but we never had that at the old building. My advisor was new as well. She was relatively young (average age amongst the worst dragons there is about 106), and fairly pleasant. She readily accepted the results of my job searching, even though it was almost a complete negative, and we had some pleasant and unthreatening conversation. Initially, my paperwork could not be found. I blamed it on the move from building to building, but that was wrong. It seems that I am being put forward to go on New Deal 50. I have already been on New Deal 25+ and that had its uses. The most far reaching use was as being the conduit whereby I came to meet Patricia. She was the tutor on a two week course I was sent on. It was to help me get back into work. Now our roles have reversed. I am helping Patricia to find work ! As for New Deal 50, I don't know all that entails, but I hope to get my New Deal photopass back so I can enjoy half price travel on public transport again. That was most handy. With luck there will be more vocational guidance this time.

 On the way back from the new Job Centre I called in to Aldi's where I stocked up on a few more essentials like milk and some rather interesting breakfast cereal. It is maple and pecan crunch. It sounds delicious, but like most of the muesli based breakfast cereals it is probably 50% sawdust. As  a rule I don't have breakfast in such a form, but there is more there than Patricia can eat (probably) even if she even wants any of it in the first place. It looks as if it will be cereal for breakfast for a few days after she has left to go back to Spain.

 The other major interuption of my workflow happened a bit earlier than signing on. I got a phone call inviting me for a pint in The Catford Ram. I couldn't resist it. Two pints in there, plus some yummy food from Aldi later, left me unable to work without a sit down for a couple of hours. So it was nearly 20:00 before I finally did the hoovering in the living room. That has come up reasonably well. There are still a lot of dust traps in there, but the central area is not looking too bad now.

 The sad thing about this whole escapade is that all my hard work has only left the place looking very average, and that Patricia will never know the disaster area it was before. Not that I would want her to know it as a disaster area, but it would be nice if she knew under what context the place now looks very average. To be truthful there are plenty of clues around as to how it was. There are certain areas that are left untouched. For instance the stairs are virtually untouched. It was always difficult to clean them with my vacuum cleaner when they were uncluttered, now there is so much junk along one side of the stairs that cleaning is all but impossible while it remains there.
Tuesday 1st November 2005
Weather - brighter after overnight rain
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06:30 GMT
 And so begins another month, and a fresh set of bill to pay. Actually it is not as bad as that. My finances are holding together by the slenderest thread, and with luck I should be OK this month.

 One thing of major significance today is that my afternoon will be interupted while I have to sign on at the new Job Centre. The old Job Centre building has closed down, and I will have to navigate to the new one, and then find my way around inside it. Fortunately it is still only a very short walk - to the end of the road and turn left instead of right - It should only take about 6 minutes, but I had better allow a few more minutes to find my way into the building, and to where I want to be inside there. With luck it will take less than an hour out of my schedule, but it is at the most inconvenient time of 15:30.

 The rest of my day will revolve around my continuing "spring cleaning". I am well past the half way mark, but there is still a lot that could be done. Some of it won't get done this time, but I will have set the seed for further improvements.
 Yesterday I felt fine, but I still tired very quickly. Two tasks in particular left me needing a breather. They were making up my bed and the spare bed. Bed making should not be a strenuous task, but I was working at a disadvantage in that both beds have a blind side straight against the walls. So there is a lot of leaning over and lifting the mattresses from awkward angles. Even fighting two duvets into two duvet covers seemed hard work.

 The spare room is now cleaned and made up as far as it will go. I sealed the door to avoid Nelly deciding to sleep on a fresh new bed. My own bedroom is also looking unusually clean and tidy (if you avoid looking at the bottom of the bed where it is difficult to get into a small gap to clean it - something I may tackle if I have any spare time from more urgent cleaning).

 I made a start on the living room. It is still in need of a good hoovering, but it is far tidier in there (but only by comparison to what it was like before).

 That doesn't sound like a lot of work yesterday, and in some ways it wasn't. Two areas I have deliberately left are this back room and the kitchen. The cats eat in this back room, and sometimes they can be messy eaters. I want to clean all that up later today when there is less time for them to muck it all up before Patricia arrives tomorrow. The same goes for Nelly's litter tray in the kitchen. Ideally I want that fresh and clean sometime around midday tomorrow. By then she will have hopefully done most of her business for the day. I would hate it if Patricia came in tomorrow to be greeted by a smell like I can smell now. Nelly has just used her litter tray a few minutes ago !

 It is probably time I was washed and dressed so I can open a window or two and not freeze to death.

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