Index December 2006 Calendar
November January 2007

sky and smokestack
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25 26 27 28 29

Sunday 31st December 2006
19:20 GMT

I thought I would write one more update before the year ends.

 Today, like the year, has been both good and bad. There never was any sunshine today, but the rain did hold off until late this afternoon. Right now it is still raining and smudge is reluctant to go out. I have left the back door open for her and she is considering the possibilities.

 I managed to be fairly productive this morning. I did some shopping and bought one more late Xmas present, and a rug for the spare room. Mind you, having got the rug home I am not too happy with it. It looks OK, but feels quite coarse and itchy instead of the soft look it appears to have. Maybe if I wash it with plenty of fabric conditioner it will come out OK. I also hoovered all the bits that matter most upstairs, but have left downstairs for tomorrow. The actual stairs themselves may have to wait to another time when I am feeling hyper enthusiastic ! Since doing the hoovering I have done precious little, or precious little that anyone would notice. I have actually done a minute amount of tidying in this back room. Mostly that consisted in collecting a carrier bags worth of old paperwork and binning it, and then rebalancing some disturbed teetering piles of other stuff !

 I have now run out of things to do that might amuse me (which is not to say there aren't things I could, and even should do). So I am considering going to bed soon. I won't be sleeping just yet, but I hope I can doze off before all the midnight noise starts up. Initially I will just listen to an episode, or more, of Journey Into Space.

 Well, that's about it for this year. To sum it up I think I'll just say it started well, went downhill, improved a lot, became excellent, went downhill again, but not so far, and has ended up really boring. I wonder if next year will bring any joy ?????????????????????

07:30 GMT

 And so another year grinds slowly to a halt. The day has started dry and fairly mild. It is too early to tell if we might get some sunshine today, but if yesterday set an example for today, the morning could be OK.

 Yesterday morning was bright and sunny after a bit of a grey start. It was also nearly warm outside. It inspired me to to go and do some more shopping, and even to air the spare room for a little while.

 I first went to visit Poundstretcher where I bought a couple of duvet sets for the spare bed, and a couple of other things. On the way back I popped into WH Smiths, who are next door to Poundstretcher, and bought a couple of railway magazines. It was such a glorious morning that rather than have some breakfast, and settle down to some reading, I went out again for a quick whirl around Aldi. I mainly bought some food, but I also bought what I thought was a twin pack of cushions. I turns out that it was only a single cushion. I may go back today and buy another one to match it.

 It was getting close to midday when I got home from my second shopping trip, and this time I really did fancy some breakfast. My original plan, before going to Aldi, was to just have some fruit for breakfast, but I had bought a few items that just had to be tried. Among them was a large (allegedly) home made cornish pastie. That took 25 minutes to cook. So I had some houmous and a packet of crisps while I waited. While eating tem, and waiting for the pastie to cook, I had a look at the two railway magazines I had bought. I wonder why I bought them ? I did eventually read a few things of interest, but overall I did not find them a very scintillating read.

 As the afternoon wore on the sky clouded over, and probably before sunset the rain started. It was not excessively heavy, but was accompanied by some strong gusts of wind. It transformed a great day into one where I just wanted to hibernate again. Nevertheless I managed to do some productive things during the day. I don't think I made any progress towards clearing up this back room, but I did get some more washing done, and some assorted tidying up around the house.

 Today I think it is time to do some hoovering. It is somewhat overdue ! Once that is done the spare room will be made up for the next guest (which could be Patricia if she has difficulties getting to her new place when she flies back from Spain very late tomorrow night), and the living room will be "passable" for any visitors. Once those two room, my bedroom and hallway are hoovered, and tidied, I could do any of three choices. Perhaps the most likely is to go into couch potato mode. Another option is to try and make some headway in clearing up this back room, but I also have the urge to build a new PC. Well, not exactly a new PC, but to take an old one and do some heavy modifications to it. Looking through my junk I see I have two spare 2GB SCSI hard drives that I believe are in good condition, and will quite probably be very reliable. I also have a SCSI controller card that has it's own BIOS, and should be able to boot from the SCSI hard disks directly. So what I want to do is to build the foundations of my next server. As I imagine it now, it will have the operating system (maybe Ubuntu) on one of the SCSI hard disk (and possibly two "raided" together), and the data will be on parallel ATA hard disks.
Saturday 30th December 2006
07:23 GMT

 It seems I forgot to write anything yesterday. Maybe it was the few sunny spells that affected my brain, or maybe I didn't really have much to say. This morning it is quite wet outside after overnight rain. I think more rain is forecast for today, but I could be wrong (and so could the weather forecasters). Perhaps the most notable feature of the weather lately is how mild it has been. It is by no means warm, but a temperature of 10° C is unusual for the end of December.

 Yesterday I did some more shopping in Tesco, and I did some more laundry. I have now washed the blue throws for the living room chairs, which are so big I have to do all three one at a time, and I have washed some old clothes that Patricia left here (I assume she will be collecting them in the new year). Perhaps the most remarkable thing is that I have done some prepatory work towards cleaning up this back room. I estimate I am now 0.83% done towards completing the task. At the current rate of progress I expect to be finished sometime next October or November !!!!

 I think I have been watching too many old episodes of The Avengers. Last night I had some unexplainable dreams that seemed to be as fantastical as some of the stories in The Avengers. From the little I can remember I think I was supposed to be having some sort of erotic dream(s) featuring one, or more, ladies wearing stockings. The trouble is that though I can remember mention of the word stockings, I cannot recall actually seeing any ladies, let alone their legs encased in stockings. Instead, all I can remember is bright primary colours of "somethings". It was as if these so called stocking were actually light sources themselves. There is also a feint memory of John Steed (The star character from The Avengers) being in the dream(s), but whether I was talking to him, or just that he was around somewhere, eludes me now. Curiously, a later dream, or was it just that curious phase between sleep and waking, had me considering these self same feint memories of elusive dreams.

  Today I think I will do a little more shopping. I have an urge to see what is available in Poundstretcher (whose web site suggests they are part of the Instore group). In particular I think I want a nice furry mattress protector and a CD/DVD wallet to store some CDR/DVDR disks in. Maybe some other cheap items will catch my eye. I don't think I need to visit Tesco again, but I may visit WH Smiths. With the shopping done  it will be time to relax again, or will I try and do another 2% of the cleaning up of this back room ????????????
Thursday 28th December 2006
09:22 GMT

 It looks like there is an improvement in the weather. It is brighter this morning, and I am sure I can see some very thin streaks of blue amongst the clouds. It is also fairly mild with temperatures as high as 10° C.I did see a weather forecast on TV earlier this morning, and I wish I could remember more of what it said. Sometime, tomorrow I seem to recall, it will rain, but there is a day due soon when clear skies are forecast. It will be nice to see some sunshine.

 Yesterday was another day where I just slobbed around for most of the day. I did have a drink with Kevin last night, and that was the highlight of the day. Today is unpredictable. There is nothing I have to do, and I'll probably just end up mooching around all day. Some optional things I could do are to go out and visits the shops, or to make a start with re-arranging this back room. The latter would be nice, but it is such a daunting task to get started that I will have to try and find some special motivation to do it.
Wednesday 27th December 2006
12:10 GMT

 You may think I am writing this so late in the day because I have only just got up. You're wrong ! I have been up since about 07:00. Since then I have showered and washed my hair. I have been to Tesco and I have eaten dinner. I have also spent a fair amount of time "surfing the net".

 Once again it is a very grey day. There might have been a light shower sometime in the early hours of the morning, but it is dry now. Any hope of sunshine today seems futile, but eventually we will see the sun again. I don't think it will rain today either. Despite the fact that it is so dark that it is necessary to keep the lights on all day.

 I was a little disappointed that Tesco did not seem to have much reduced price stuff today. I was hoping for far more of the special Xmas stuff would be on sale cheaply today, but I suppose some of that stuff is equally valid for New year celebrations as well. I think the only reduced price stuff I got was some white chocolate covered raspberries. The packing actually says the raspberries are enrobed in white chocolate (oooh err !!). At 74p they were not too bad value, but I am sure the 99p shop does something remarkably similar for 99p, but in a bag six times the size ! Of course they are laden with sugar, so the small bag from Tesco was rather better for me than the huge bag from the 99p shop. Although really I should not have even eaten that small bag. I will have try and starve now until I go to the pub for the traditional Wednesday night drink.

 Apart from drinking tonight, I have no plans for today. Well, maybe I do have one other plan. Having just finished dinner I think I will go and have a lie down now.
Tuesday 26th December 2006
06:17 GMT

 Despite getting almost a full eight hours sleep, I feel rough this morning. It feels something like a hangover, but not quite the same. It may well be that having gone to bed feeling quite warm I threw off my extra blanket. As the night cooled down I probably wrapped the duvet around myself too tightly, and then fought against it for the last hours of sleep. No doubt as the day wears on I will feel a bit better.

 Yesterday was predictably boring, although the monotony was broken by going for a drink with Kevin at Midday. To our surprise we found the pub opening hours yesterday was 11:30 to 13:30. We had expected it to be 12:00 to 14:00 as it had been on previous years. Only being able to stay to 13:30 suited Kevin well (last year he got into trouble for staying too late - "Your dinners in the cat !" etc.). I think that it was OK with me too. After excess food consumption on the Saturday and Sunday I did try and cut down yesterday. In fact I did succeed in reducing my intake of food to only slightly excess ! Today I think I am going to try and hold off eating until 13:00 when I have a nice joint of pork for dinner.

The one major disappointment yesterday was that my DVD recorder failed to record the Xmas special of Dr Who. I am not sure what it was doing while it appeared to be recording, but when I finally stopped it it all it seemed to do was to go into and endless "post - processing" loop. I had seen this happen before when I last used it, but had neglected to investigate what was going on. I still don't know what caused it to fail beyond some sort of software corruption that was cured by using the handy "Restore Factory Defaults" option in the setup menu.

 Apart from dinner I have no plans for today. I think the time will probably pass watching TV and doing some reading. It is possible that I may start to shift the contents of this back room around, but right now that feels so much like a daunting task that I prefer not to think about it.
Monday 25th December 2006
10:33 GMT

Merry Christmas
 This morning is not quite as overcast as yesterday, and yet there is still no sign of sunshine. At least one weather forecast does suggest there there could be a glimpse of the sun later. Meanwhile the temperature remains cool, but not freezing.

 I was most surprised to get to Tesco just a minute or two after 10:00 and find it already very busy. My guess is that they opened the doors some time earlier than they opened the checkouts. Fortunately I did not have to queue too long to get my basket of stuff through the checkouts.

 Amongst the stuff I did buy was the Xmas/New year edition of New Scientist, and I spent some time reading that - not all of it though. I have saved a few articles to read today.

 I spent the rest of the day mainly just lazing around. During the morning I did have a fair amount to eat, but managed to call a halt on eating before the afternoon got started in earnest. I wanted to save some room for an evening feast. After considering all the alternatives I finally settled on the kebab choice, and ordered several kebabs at around 19:00. Having thoroughly stuffed myself I had a large chicken kebab left over for a meal today. Unfortunately I made a tragic mistake - I didn't put it somewhere cat proof. Nelly would never dream of jumping up onto the sideboard, and in fact is probably not even skilled enough to do it, but Smudge is a different matter. When I came down this morning I found that Smudge had ripped open the wrapping and started eating the kebab. So now she has the whole kebab to eat today - complete with chilli sauce !

 So far today, apart from feeding the cats, I have done practically nothing except put one load of washing into the washing machine. The only highlight for today is when I go to The Catford Ram at midday for my Xmas beer. There is some doubt as to whether anyone will be joining me. Howard definitely won't be, and Kevin expressed some doubt that he would be able to make it. That leaves Iain who has not suggested a decision either way. So I will take my New Scientist with me in case I am on my own. Once I come back I will indulge in a large breakfast, and probably have a snooze.

 A simple project I may tackle soon is a dedicated web page for reading on a mobile phone. I have recently activated the clever stuff on my mobile phone and can now look at web pages. On such a small screen, and without a mouse it is a bit of a joke really, but maybe it could be used for something. All I have to do is think of what I can put on a very small web page.

 Before I press "save" I must thank everyone for their Xmas cards, and thank Lee for the bottle of Drambuie.
Sunday 24th December 2006
08:55 GMT

 Well here we are on Xmas eve morning, and it is very grey and gloomy outside. Maybe the good news is that it is a few degrees warmer than some mornings of late. It is still unpleasantly cold though.

 So far this morning I have got up, washed, dressed, been out to visit a cash machine, put another load of washing into the washing machine, and repaired my brand new jeans. I guess when you only pay £8 for a pair of jeans you can't expect too much, or maybe you can. I guess you should expect them to fall apart in under 30 minutes. In my case it was the top button that broke apart. (I am not exactly sure what is should be called, but I am calling the single button that fastens the waistband, above the zip, the top button). It is only a piece of soft metal held onto a very soft rivet. After I had visited the cash machine I accidently breathed out while I got my keys to open the front door. The button popped off and fell onto the garden path. I have now re-secured it with a 6BA nut and bolt !

 I feel fairly rough this morning. I felt quite uncomfortable as I walked to the cash machine, and I know it was not because my new jeans were too tight (they do need some "wearing in", but they do fit with a reasonable amount of comfort). All my discomfort can most probably be explained by spending a very sedentary day yesterday while eating too much of all the wrong things. I am certain my blood sugar level is far too high, and today I ought to be careful with what I eat. This is a bit of a shame because with little to do (or at least needing to be done), and nothing much going on, it will be very easy to be tempted into comfort eating.

 In just under an hour I must pull on the new jeans and take them for another walk. This time it will be to Tesco. I never made it yesterday, and if I hadn't noticed that they will be closed on Boxing day I might not have bothered to go today. There are no absolute essentials I need from Tesco right now, but if I leave it the catfood situation will be a little critical by the time Tesco re-opens after the Xmas holiday. It probably wouldn't be a bad idea to get in a little more low sugar, and maybe even low calorie food as well. Food for Xmas day is posing a dilemma. My original idea was to do what I have done for the last few years and get in a gigantic order of Indian food. This would provide a feast for tonight, and then the leftovers would do for breakfast and dinner on Xmas day. Now I am weighing up four possibilities. The Indian food is one, another is Chinese food, while a third option is an industrial order of kebabs. The other choice is to buy some stuff from Tesco and actually cook my own Xmas dinner. The latter has a certain appeal, but depends on what catches my eye while I am shopping today.

 Once my shopping in Tesco is done (although a visit to Iceland is an interesting alternative possibility) I really don't have anything to do. I hope that there is a Xmas edition of New Scientist left in Tesco. That will provide some quality reading and while away the hours for some time, but basically I think I may be bored, and that could force me into re-arranging this back room. I have this notion that it might be a good idea to get my dining table back in action again. At the moment it is the home of my second PC, the one I am writing this on right now), but a week, or so, ago I bought a KVM switch with the idea that I could use one monitor, keyboard, and mouse to control the two main PC's down here. (The server and firewall PC's don't generally use a mouse, keyboard, or monitor). So if I dug out all the junk below the dining table, and from below the desk, I could swap them to opposite sides of the room, and stack both PC's next to the desk and use the KVM switch to select which machine to work on. That is not terribly well explained, and without pictures, or you knowing what my back room looks like, it will never be clear, but when I finally do it I may include a picture here to show the finished result.
Saturday 23rd December 2006
13:04 GMT

 Today started far less foggy than the previous few days. There was some mist that seems to have cleared now leaving just a grey overcast, murky, sort of day. The greyness does seem to be thin in places and maybe, just maybe, the sun could break through enough to shine very feebly for a minute or two. It will do nothing to address the cold and damp outside, but it could bring a moment of cheer if it does manage it.

 Yesterday the mist persisted for much of the day. It had a terrible affect on transport, but fortunately Patricia's plane did manage to take off for Spain only three hours late. I haven't heard from her yet, and maybe won't hear anything for days. I hope she had a safe journey though.

 Last night I was glad to get indoors and relax. It seemed to take ages to warm the living room up, and to compensate I ended up eating far, far too much. While I wasn't eating I spent the time either watching TV or surfing the internet. I finally went to bed at around 23:00, but then listened to another episode of "Journey Into Space" before turning the light out and falling into a heavy sleep.

 I first got up at 05:00 to feed the cats, but within an hour  I was asleep again and did not wake up until gone 09:00. This was actually a bit annoying because I was hoping to be up and dressed in time to get to Tesco by 08:00 (when presumably they opened up for the morning). There is nothing I actually need from Tesco, but there is a lot I would have liked to have got anyway. I may try again this evening when I hope that some of the manic crowds have died down (I am assuming the place is a madhouse at the moment). If that doesn't happen the I will have another go first thing tomorrow morning.

 So far today I have done very little apart from one load of washing. Potentially I have several loads I would like to get washed, but with only limited drying space I have to do it bit by bit. I do have plans for doing some major housework/shifting stuff around, but I feel like being lazy today, and may well spend a lot of time just reading a book (or something).

 I mentioned yesterday that I had a major rant coming on. Now seems as good a time as any to try and recall, and record, what kept me awake in the small hours of Friday morning. It concerns the nature of irrational hypocrisy and other prejudices.

I read somewhere that mad rants are usually written in green Biro. I can't use a a green Biro here, but I can put the rest into green to show it is the ravings of a weird thinker.

 There has recently been a load of follow up letters in The Metro about an article suggesting that Heroin should be available on the NHS for drug addicts. As far as I can recall all the letters to the editor about it were totally polarised to the two extremes of perfect idea and terrible idea. It became apparent that the two opposed factions knew little about the real world, with the latter being the most removed from the real world. The first were probably addicts themselves who wanted to freeload off the NHS, and the other were people who had no idea about the nature of drug use at all. The former can be forgiven because everyone wants something for nothing, but the latter were quite annoying. Typical of the latter were the types who mentally masturbate over the bible while condemning those who physically masturbate over their preferred pornography (i.e. pictures of naked women). It is a strange contradiction that the bible masturbaters, who would claim to be the most moral, actually are least likely to have souls, or at least compassionate souls. They have some very strange beliefs. The strangest of all is that people are not allowed to seek happiness unless it involves sadomasochistic practices like fasting, kneeling on cold stone floors, self flagellation, or other dubious practices.

 Of course all these things are fine if that's what turns you on, but please don't expect other people to enjoy them. The beliefs of these people can range from the mild to the extreme. The more extreme would try and ban comedy programmes because they make people laugh (they even took the jokes out of the bible - allegedly), but even the more tolerant hate any form of drug use. This is rather strange because very few of them actually know anything about drugs. They do have this notion that drug use may prevent studying long dreary passages in the bible, or worse still, may actually reveal alternative understanding of some bits of the bible that they think are supposed to be read as doom and gloom instead of reasons to be happy. (References to the bible here could equally apply to any other religious books, but it does seem that Christians have some of the worst hang ups about being happy). It must be admitted that all those opposing drug use are not religious zealots, but they all share the same narrow, and misinformed mind set, and probably pre-conditioned to it by the religious zealots anyway.

 The people who try and say they have rational reasons for being against drug use are almost invariably wrong, or have twisted the facts around to suit their particular dogma. One argument concerns the self harm that drug use may cause. The horror stories in my youth concerned LSD use where people hallucinating became convinced they could fly and leapt off tall buildings. This almost certainly happened in perhaps a couple of very rare cases, but my guess is that it was far, far, far, rarer than damaged knee caps from excess kneeling for prayer, and fatal haemorrhoids from sitting on hard pews for hours at a time. From this a strong myth grew up that drugs would definitely kill you. So to the narrow minded it became obvious that drugs had to be banned in the same way as polar exploration, mounting climbing and even war (which even before 1945 was known to cause death when taken in even moderate doses).

 The other major argument against drug use is crime. It is a sad fact that many drug users, but generally only drug users of substances causing strong addictions, sometimes have to turn to crime to feed their addictions. That sounds simple enough until you consider the reasons why addicts need to pay such high prices for what are often simple, and cheaply produced herbal products. The reason is that all drug distribution has to be done by people working outside the law. To do this requires a level of organisation that is usually only seen in such ruthless organisations as the Inland Revenue and Customs And Excise.

 Perhaps one day our politicians will wake up to the idea that they way to stop non drug users from being caught up in the crossfire from illegal drug distributors is to take on the task themselves. It is amazing that their usual greed has not caught on the the possible huge revenues available to them, but the evil voices of the zealots tell them that their conciencences will only be clear if drug users harm themselves illegally. The fact is that very few drug users would ever come to harm if they had assured supplies of standard quality drugs seems to be a fact that can not be officially believed. If I were a religious zealot I would say it is the work of the devil that allows a gigantic ruthless criminal network of drug dealers to kill and torture in their line of work just because the alternative is to allow some some people to gain altered states of mind legally. Didn't anyone learn any lesson from when America tried prohibition ?

 To come full circle. Why is it that not a single letter writer to The Metro suggested the middle ground. Make drugs available through the NHS - not free, but at a reasonable, and affordable, price ? Does it matter if it generates a few more addicts if those addicts are getting clean safe supplies ? At least we will have the assurance that those addicts will not have to commit crimes to feed those addictions, and many addicts may be able to manage their addiction to the point where they may be able to give up drugs by not having the fear that they have to buy what is available, when it is available. Perhaps one day some politicians will look at their own addictions and see how they work (whether those addictions are drinking, smoking, eating, or just the lust for power). Only then will they get an insight into the motivations of the drug addict, and only then will there be any possibility for change. It is probably a sad fact of life that any change in any walk of life will only come from politicians, and the only way they can be politicians is to have a very narrow view on life. Normal people who enjoy a wide diversity of life, and can see the good and bad side of any situation, are too diverse to have political ambitions.
Friday 22nd December 2006
08:10 GMT

 It's the last day of work this year, but this morning has started like the last few. It's another very cold foggy morning, and yet there is one difference this morning. That difference is that I feel sort of fine. The chilled damp air on my lungs is not very nice, and gets uncomfortable when I am rushing about - which in this cold is everywhere I go - yet all my other aches and pains seem to have evaporated away. I was expecting some of my eating habits lately to have an impact on my tendency to suffer from irritable bowel syndrome, but even stuffing myself with chicken and chips last night has not caused any problems on my way into work.

 One aspect of this foggy weather is that many planes have been grounded. Tonight, at 17:00, Patricia should be flying out to Spain to spend Xmas with her son and her sister. If her flight is disrupted it could be possible that I will have a mad (as in hopping mad) Argentinian to entertain over some, or all, of Xmas.

 Last night it was good to see Aleemah again. We spent an hour or two in the Victoria Wetherspoons chatting away almost like we had not been apart. Whether this heralds anything for the future is a mystery. There are still some impassable barriers between us, although we did not attempt to discuss them last night. Maybe it was seeing Aleemah that made me feel close to healthy again.

 When I got back to Catford, after seeing Aleemah, I felt very cold and hungry. So I called by one of the fried chicken shops and bought a large portion of chicken and chips. I stuffed myself to satisfaction, but I still have some chicken left over for tonight's dinner (or part of it). I was still feeling cold after eating, and it seemed as if the rioom would never heat up. So at 20:00 I went to bed. I needed an early night anyway, but mainly I wanted to get into a warm bed with an extra blanket over the duvet. I listened to one episode of "Journey Into Space" before turning off the light and falling asleep very quickly.

 I woke up again somewhere between 02:30 and 03:00. I guess I had about five hours of good sleep, and my body must have considered that enough, or at least my brain did because it became very active for the next ninety minutes or so. At first I had some ideas about how to add some extra features to Firefox, and then I started thinking about some of the things I had discussed with Aleemah (and which she was in broad agreement with - I think). Had it not been so cold, I may well have got up at that point and written a huge rant here, but a desire to keep warm, and to try and get back to sleep, prevented me from doing so. What I had to say is still probably worth saying. So I may well write a long rant tomorrow (but I'll have to see how much I remember, and how I feel). The core idea about Firefox was to add an alternative to the bookmarks. As I see it boomarks (or favourites if you are an Internet Explorer user) is to mark pages that you have visited and want to come back to later. My idea is to add an alternative list, I call it the wishlist, where you can jot down links that you come across during everyday web surfing for sites that you have not yet visited, but might look into later. Of course you can add these to bookmarks, but the idea of the wishlist holding them separately also makes way for some advanced features that may be useful. I'll attempt to explain them later as I have to do some work now. Maybe I'll copy my e-mail to the Firefox developers here if I ever get around to writing it.
Thursday 21st December 2006
08:10 GMT

 It seems the pattern has been set for the rest of the week, and probably into the weekend. It is yet another foggy morning. I think the temperature is very close to freezing right now. Outside of London it may well be a few degrees below freezing. This cold damp air is not too good for my chest after my recent cold. I don't think my chest will totally clear now until after Xmas (on the assumption that I will be spending most days indoors, and keeping nice and warm). Perhaps the one surprising thing about this cold damp weather is that it hasn't revived all the muscular, and joint pains I was suffering from just a few weeks back. Apart from a wheezy chest, and intermittent cough, I sort of feel OK lately, although sometimes, particularly if I am rushing about, the cold damp air does make my chest feel tight. The good news is that today (or maybe it's tomorrow) is the shortest day of the year. Things can only get better from now.

 I left work at 15:00 yesterday. It was a bit earlier than I thought I would leave, but things were fairly quiet, and I was sort of owed three hours after Tuesday night. It was really nice going home in daylight. As I waited at Waterloo East for my train I noticed that through the mist and murk the sky looked mostly blue. It felt as if the sun could appear at any moment, but by then it was far too low on, or even below, the horizon. It was still just about light when I got to Catford, but by the time I had queued for some fags in Tesco it was twilight, and after I had finished a little more shopping in Peacocks it was most definitely dark outside.

 I went for a drink at 19:30, but it was not until 20:15 that Kevin turned up. He had been caught in heavy traffic caused by the fog on his way home from work. Iain did not appear at all.

 I left the pub a little later than I had planned, but still made it home, feeling totally exhausted, by 21:30. I was in bed by 22:00 and fell asleep instantly.

 Tonight I will be home late again, although I very much doubt that it will be anything like as late as Tuesday night. I am meeting up with Aleemah for a quick Xmas drink. This will be the first time I have seen her since last October. I wonder how we will get on ?
Wednesday 20th December 2006
08:09 GMT

 It's a cold and foggy morning, and this morning I have an excuse to be tired and knackered.

 I stayed at work to sometime around 19:00 last, some three hours after I would normally go home. This was so I could join in with some after work drinking with Anna, our Operations Manager, and some of the guys from R&D. The pub we went to was a Youngs pub (well, in Wandsworth it is hard to find one not run by Youngs) and that meant drinking Winter Warmer. I ended up drinking four pints of the stuff, and had two scotch on the rocks afterwards. After only eating fruit during the day I should, theoretically, have got slaughtered, but surprisingly I only felt mildly drunk. I guess I was too concerned about getting home to let alcohol come between me and my senses (or some of them).

 I left the others drinking in the pub at 22:30, or thereabouts, and caught a bus to Clapham Junction. As usual it was only a short wait for a train to Waterloo. From there my luck ran out. I had just missed what I believe to be the second to last train home, and it was a long wait until that last train. So After a ten minute wait I caught a train to Lewisham. It was jam packed solid, and I had to stand all the way. My luck improved at Lewisham with just a few minutes wait for a bus. Unfortunately the bus stopped outside a fried chicken/kebab/fish and chip shop. Having only eaten two bananas, one, or two apples, and two satsumas all day I gave in to temptation and bought three pieces of chicken and a small portion of chips. It was midnight when I got indoors, but before I could stuff my face I had to feed two hungry, starving, pussy cats.

 Finally I was able to tuck into my chicken and chips. I suspect it was not very nice in reality, and I do remember the chicken being rather dry, but after a skinful of booze it was delicious. I think I finally turned the lights out and instantly sunk into sleep at 00:30.

 This morning I don't feel too bad. My head seems pretty clear, but I do think that a bit more than four hours and forty five minutes sleep would not have gone amiss.

 I think I will be leaving work early today, but probably only thirty minutes or so early. There are no overtime payments for my extra three hours last night, so I am owed a bit of time. Hopefully I will get home in time to have a light dinner, and a bit of relaxation before going out to the pub again. Tonight I think it will be an early visit, and early home again. Perhaps 19:30 to 21:00.
Tuesday 19th December 2006
08:17 GMT

 The main feature of this mornings weather is mist. It is also quite cold outside, although still a few degrees away from freezing. It seems that the pattern has been set for the rest of the week. Tomorrow morning may well see a frost according to one forecast I saw somewhere.

 It is now just a few days away from the winter solstice. After that the days will slowly start to get longer again. I noticed that last night it was still just about light when I left work a minute, or two, before 4pm. By the time my bus came, just a few minutes later, it was close on being dark. I do look forward to the time when, once again, I can come to work in daylight, and go home in daylight too. Alas that is still many months away.

 Last night I had a brief visit from Patricia. She came to pick up almost, but not quite, the last of her stuff. There is still a good few carrier bags (for want of a better description of volume) of her stuff to go, and I am expecting her to pick that up in a couple of days time.

 I suspect it is the dark mornings and nights that are affecting my energy levels in peculiar ways. Most mornings, for the last month, or maybe even two, I have felt pretty dreadful coming into work. Earlier on it was muscular aches and pains. More recently it was the head cold, and follow on cough. As all other symptoms go away it has now become just a sort of lack of energy and vague, non specific, discomfort. It is the sort of feeling where you would really like to go and have a lie down, and yet I do not believe it to be just lack of sleep tiredness. For the last two nights I have had quite reasonable nights sleep, although I did wake up for twenty minutes in the small hours, and slept 10 minutes beyond my clock radio alarm going off. If today follows the usual pattern my energy will peak in about an hours time. Then crash between 14:00 and 15:00. By 16:00 I will be feeling dreadful, and by the time I get to Clapham Junction I will be "firing on all cylinders". From then on I will feel great until I have had my dinner and slump in front of the TV (or PC). Tonight may be a little different. I have invited the operations manager to join me for an after work drink to celebrate getting our final order of the year despatched. She normally works to at least 18:00, and sometimes later, so I have no idea what time I will get to Clapham Junction tonight.
Monday 18th December 2006
08:12 GMT

 It's raining, or at least here in Wandsworth it is raining. When I left home it was dry, and it didn't really look like it was going to rain. It was quite chilly, and there was some high mist, but I had this, obviously incorrect, notion that it would remain dry today.

 I opted for a very early night last night. Well, I was rather bored. I went up to bed soon after 7pm, and once in bed I listened to two 30 minute episodes of "Journey Into Space". I think I actually turned out the light, and fell asleep, before 9pm. The cats woke me up a few times in the night, but on the whole I should have had a good nights sleep. So why I feel tired now is a bit of a mystery. It is not exactly tiredness, and not exactly a lack of energy, but a combination of both with a bit of lack of enthusiasm thrown in for good measure. It was probably not helped by having to travel on a freezing cold train from Catford Bridge to Waterloo East. As I now come to expect, the second leg of my journey from Waterloo to Wandsworth Town was done in a clean, warm, and on time train. Once at Wandsworth Town I caught a bus immediately. In fact the timing was so tight that I had to run the last 12 inches to the bus stop ! The 28 bus had plenty of seating and was warm as well.

 Patricia came round to pick up a few more things yesterday afternoon, but less than I thought she would. So it seems she will be coming round tonight to pick up the last of her stuff. Then I guess I will not be seeing her again until sometime in the new year - hopefully early in the new year with some duty free fags for me !

 Before I go and do some work I must apologise if accessing these pages is becoming difficult. My internet connection (and cable TV picture) is getting very intermittent. I am sure there is a dodgy connection on my cable service, but getting NTL to fix it without a home visit is probably going to be difficult. I doubt they could come next Saturday, being so close to Xmas, so I think I will have to grin and bear it and hope that it remains mostly working until after Xmas.
Sunday 17th December 2006
08:15 GMT

 It is dry and clear this morning, but a little surprisingly there is no frost. Maybe there was some frost a few hours ago, but not now. I have no idea how the day is supposed to turn out. I thought yesterday would be dull, overcast, and with plenty of showers, but it stayed dry all day, and there were plenty of sunny intervals.

 By mid morning yesterday, Patricia had just about moved all her stuff out. There are still a few bits and pieces left that she will be picking up today, but essentially the house is now 100% mine again. This does come with some advantages like being able to move around freely in the morning with any lights on I like and as noisily as I like. I can leave the bedroom doors open and not have to worry about being caught going to the bathroom naked at any time. I will be able to cook the smelliest, hottest, spiciest food I like, and from now my shopping will be slightly simplified. However whether any of these advantages are better than having some occasional company, and someone to say good night to, is a little doubtful. There could be one major advantage of being on my own, and it is not the infintessimally unlikely possibility of a major orgy any time I like, but  that from now, when I come home from work, I can start to cook my dinner straight away without snacking while I wait for a suitable time to cook for the two of us. There is a very feint chance that this could help stabilise my weight prior to the normal reduction in eating that will come from longer, and warmer, days sometime in the spring.

 At 15:00 exactly (+/- 15 seconds) I arrived at the "London & Rye" Wetherspoon's pub in Catford to meet up with Dee. She was already waiting for me outside, but I don't think she had been waiting too long. She seemed to recognise me straight away, and from her smile I guessed that she was Dee, and with hindsight I did sort of recognise her. She was very pleasant company, but I did find it difficult to hear a lot of what she said at first. That Wetherspoons pub must be one of the noisiest there is. I don't know if it is the clientèle in there, or just the acoustics of the place. Patricia joined us after about 20 minutes, and we stayed drinking for a couple of hours (three pints of Stella Artois - for me). As we left I gave Patricia a big hug and a peck on the cheek, and throwing caution to the wind, did the same to Dee - which she semed to accept gracefully.

 I felt a bit rough when I got home. I had a bit of a hangover, and my chest is still a little sore from all the coughing I have done lately. On top of that my stomach felt a little sore for some unexplained reason. So I just relaxed and went to bed fairly early. I am not sure what time I turned the light out, but it could have been as early as 21:00. I was very tired and soon fell asleep, but I did get up twice in the night, and on one of those occasions I came downstairs and checked my server (more of which in a minute). It was 07:30 before I woke up again and came down to feed the cats (and write this). This morning I feel sort of OK. I may go back to bed soon just for the hell of it, but I do not feel tired, and I do not seem to have any particular aches or pains this morning. With my bad cough now receding into the distance, the major annoyance now is just how stuffed up I am first thing in the morning. Over a period of 30 minutes, or more, I have to frequently clear my nose of what has accumulated over night. You may think this is a rather unpleasant bit of writing, but it is mild compared to the reality of it all (you could stand a spoon up in it !!!!).

 Describing how I got up in the middle of the night reminded me that last night I decided to reboot my server. I was a little concerned that my internet connection was running exceedingly slowly, and wondered if my server was doing something it shouldn't have been doing. With the server down I quickly concluded it was just NTL providing a highly variable service as usual. When I tried to boot the PC up it failed, and it failed several more times. I already knew that there was a problem with hard disk hda, but had neglected to do anything about it. I am still unsure if there really is a fault on that hard disk or whether it is actually some problem with the PC's motherboard. I know it is a crappy motherboard, and that is why it is not being used for anything else, and I know that the BIOS on the motherboard is so old that it does not really know anything about hard disks bigger than 8GB. This would totally floor Windows, but Linux mostly ignores the BIOS and makes it's own decisions about hard disks. After several attempts to boot, and running e2fsck without any obvious result, it suddenly decided to boot properly. This was a bit of a relief ! I really must buy a new hard disk, and try and get that installed before I have a major outage. Oddly enough I very nearly bought a replacement when I was in Maplin's on Friday. They were doing 300GB Seagate drives for around £74, but I decided that I would not do any unnecessary spending this side of Xmas.

 Sometimes you can guess the inspiration for dreams, even if that explanation is really convoluted, but I had a dream last night that I am sure defies any explanation. The setting was broadly the workshop where I work now, and the people there were a sort of mixture of people form the past and present. There was a problem soldering, or unsoldering something. The actual something is a mystery, and is unimportant anyway. What was important was the method that someone came up with. This was to make a paste up of a mixture of water and potassium metal. As anyone who ever did chemistry "O" level , or who has ever watched any ancient Open University programmes, will know, adding water to Potassium metal is not something to be done lightly ! (There are a couple of movies of what happens on the web link above). I don't know who it was in the dream, but they obtained a can of Potassium that looked remarkably like a "ring pull" can containing Twiglets. Despite my warnings this person ripped off the top of the can and poured water into it. I stood well back because I knew what would happen. A great big mauve flame leapt out of the can almost as high as the ceiling. There was more to the dream, but that was the exciting bit. Now where did the inspiration for that come from ? I cannot recall hearing any mention of Potassium recently. Had it been something to do with Polonium 210 I could understand it. That has been in the news a lot recently, but Potassium ?????
Saturday 16th December 2006
10:19 GMT

 There is one thing I forgot to write about this morning, and that was a dream fragment I remember. All I remember from the dream is sitting at a PC. I think the PC belonged to Dee, and she was there with me, but I didn't actually see her. She had some version of Windows installed on the PC and I was trying to help her use it. It may have been a web page we were looking at, or it may have been something different, but on the screen were a few things like web page hyperlinks, but each one was a small green button like the Windows XP start button. Everytime we tried to click on one of these buttons a pop up would appear asking us to either activate, register, or upgrade the thing we were selecting. I got quite frustrated by all this and asked why Dee was not using Linux where all these annoyances would not happen. I think I then went on to explain how even a decent office suite would be free if using Linux. The dream sort of faded out at that point.
 I have now found out when Patricia is moving out. It is right now. She has already lugged one pile of stuff to her new place, and has just left with another pile. I feel sort of sad now that she is going. Despite some occasional difficulties, and some frustrations, she has been good company. The place is going to feel strangely empty now. I am not expecting to see much of her in the future. I expect she will pop around now and again with some computer problem, but it will become rarer and rarer until she finds another new boyfriend and that will probably be that. On the other hand she might decide that she too is feeling lonely and will want to move back in again ! On the plus side it means that Nelly can have her old bedroom back, and if the day ever comes when I want to bring a woman guest back it can happen without difficulty.

06:45 GMT

 The day has started all soggy and wet. I don't know when the rain started, but Smudge, who was out all night, has come in for her breakfast soaked through to the skin. It doesn't seem too cold this morning, but I am sure I heard a weather forecast saying that some early morning frost is expected soon - maybe tomorrow morning.

 I didn't do much yesterday morning. The morning was mainly just hanging around doing some reading. At lunchtime I headed out to Forest Hill to meet Ivor and Iain in the pub. I was there a little early so I went across the road to check out what was in the Maplins store. I was hoping they might have some small 7cm, or even business card size, blank CDR's. They did stock them once upon a time, but not now it seems. I did buy a couple of things though. One item was a KVM switch that I will eventually use to in this back room to switch keyboard, mouse,.and monitor between the two main computers down here. The other two items were NIC's (Network Interface Controller). They were remarkably cheap (£4.99), and at least one of them I may use to replace a slower card in one of my old PC's. I could have spent more in Maplins, but decided to curb my enthusiasm until another day.

 Ivor and lain turned up in the pub some 30 minutes late after encountering heavy traffic on the way there. A little later on Kevin and Barry joined us. I was hoping to see Ruth, but she either forgot or couldn't be bothered to come. Since the demise of The Herne Tavern some three or four months ago (five ?), where she was almost one of the fixtures, I have only exchanged a few text messages with her, and not seen her at all. So yesterday was the one chance to hand her a Xmas card. I guess she will just have to wait a few more months for it now.

 I was lucky in that I managed to get a lift home from Ivor after the pub. It is only a short bus ride, but the car is far more comfortable ! I came in feeling hungry and made myself a sandwich, and followed that by some tortilla chips with a fairly hot dip. Having satisfied my stomach I relaxed and let the hangover wash over me. I woke up from a snooze feeling really rather rough, and it was not until mid evening before I was feeling OK again. I guess I am a little out of practice with lunchtime drinking.

 Patricia was unexpectedly late getting home last night. She had been to see her new accommodation I think. It seem she is definitely moving out this weekend, but I am not sure when. Today we are both due to meet up with Dee in the Catford Wetherspoon's pub at 15:00. I am looking forward to meeting up with Dee again. I haven't seen her for two years now, and I can't even remember what she looks like ! Even when we did last meet it was only to be interviewed by the Adult Learning Inspectorate to find out our experiences of being tutored by Patricia in the black art of job finding as part of the New Deal programme while I was on the dole.
Friday 15th December 2006
06:00 GMT

 It seems to be another dry and mild(ish) morning, although at this hour it is far too dark outside to make any realistic judgement. I seem to recall a weather forecast saying it would be dry all day, but that it would also be overcast without a single hint of sunshine. Another related news item that was on TV very recently was the confirmation that 2006 had been the hottest year for over 300 years, at least in the UK it was. Naturally this was blamed on "Global Warming", and indeed that may be true, but does it matter ? All the doom sayers say Global Warming is a terrible thing, but that is only because they take the short term view. Sure, a load of people will die because of shifting centres of resources, and loads of animals may go extinct in the short term, but that is just the way of nature, red in tooth and nail. What is the prognosis for planet Earth in 1000 years, 10,000 years ? Once things settle down everyone will be happy again, man, news species of animals (actually old animals adapted for different climates) will still be stomping all over the planet. Maybe the insects will finally rise to take over the planet, but they may have reckoned without man's ingenuity for destruction and self preservation. Life on Planet Earth is harder to kill than MRSA in a UK NHS hospital. Whatever the state of the planet is in the next 50,000 years we will still be here to greet the alien overlords. To cheat them , infect them with the common cold, wage intergalactic war with them,  introduce them to internet porn, before they make the stupid mistake that many foreigners make in believing that the UK is actually a nice country to migrate to.

 It was pleasant being off work yesterday, but there was one main irritation. I was awaiting a delivery that could have come on Wednesday night, but was (allegedly) more likely yesterday morning. In fact it came at around 17:00 last night. Maybe the wait was worthwhile because I think I gained a couple of freebies in recompense to being mucked around. (The case of beer that was supposed to come with 2 glasses came with 4, and I suspect there was a bottle of wine thrown in as well).

 By checking with the company making the delivery I was able to ascertain a window of opportunity where I could pop out to the shops for a short while. I wanted to buy a new tie (or two) and found that the local Peacocks on the high street stocked them. As a bonus they had a tie in the exact colour I wanted. An even better bonus was that I noticed they had some cheap shirts that were my size and I bought two of those as well. A future bonus is they they appear to stock jeans in my size. After shopping in Peacocks I called in at WH Smiths for some magazines, and to Tesco for fags. Ideally I would have liked to do more shopping in Tesco, but I was under the incorrect belief that my delivery was imminent, and that I ought to get back home. I finally did my shopping in Tesco at around 17:30.

 I had one of those dreams last night where you attribute identities to people even though the characters in the dream bear no resemblance to the people whose names you have given them. Like a recent dream, that I think I described, this one seemed to take place in my uncles old home. (It is many years, 20 maybe, since he died and the rest of the family moved on to somewhere new). While it seemed to take place there, it bore no resemblance to the property in the last dream, or to reality. In the dream it was far, far bigger than reality, and there seemed to be many people there who did not have known identities at all. At one stage in the dream I was on a very large staircase (large in both length and width). Some steps seemed to almost blocked off by small potted trees or shrubs. I was sitting on one step with several people around me. On the next step down was a woman with a large permed hairstyle. For some reason I thought that she was one of my cousins, but all three women cousins were accounted for later on in the dream. This was a shame because I wanted to see this woman again because while sitting on the step she started what is usually described in the newspapers as "sexually interfering with me", and I wanted her to do it again !! There was a lot more to the dream, but it is all fading fast, and is inconsequential compared to the exciting bit !

 Today sees me staying in until midday waiting upon a delivery of some stuff that Patricia has ordered from Argos. Soon after midday I am going out regardless. I hope I will be meeting up with Ivor and Iain in The Railway Telegraph for some quality lunchtime drinking. It is possible that Kevin may put in an appearance as well as Ruth. It will be nice to see Ruth again. I haven't seen her for 3 or 4 months now. I wonder if she will interfere with me ????
Thursday 14th December 2006
09:13 GMT

 It's a dry, windy, slightly mild, but very overcast morning. Saying it is mild outside is, of course, only comparative speak. It is mild for December, but it is still quite cool in reality. Indoors it is actually feeling quite cold. I was perfectly warm in the living room, but since sitting down here in the back room I am feeling rather cool despite having the heater on. I have turned the heater up now, but it will take a little while before the effects will be felt.

 Yesterday was a rather good day at work. With a lot of pressure on to get a batch of product out the door by next Tuesday it has been slightly hectic. As is my way I refuse to rush, and rely more on trying to get a good job done first time. Plus by not rushing I can produce a more consistent output that may well equal, or perhaps even exceed, those who rush around like blue arse flies continually tripping themselves up (although that effect seems rare with my current work colleagues. The upshot of it was that I felt I had done a good job, and that pleased me. What also pleased me was getting some praise from the owner of the company. A few days ago I took in a part from my days in the TV repair workshop as food for thought for our R&D guys. Although it may not have any immediate use in our products it has indeed started a few trains of thought, and I was thanked for it. If any Xmas bonus is handed out this year, which seems very uncertain, maybe even unlikely, at the moment, my contribution of that idea, and a few others, may help with me getting some sort of bonus (perhaps even a pay rise, although that seems just as unlikely).

 I do seem to be in the advanced stages of major brain meltdown at the moment. Twice today, and several times yesterday, I have missed out entire words in my writing here. I can't even blame it on a crappy Mac keyboard. On the iMac in the living room, that is mostly just used as an e-mail machine, I am forever hitting some key on the left hand side of the keyboard with the heel of my hand, and I suddenly find myself typing keyboard shortcuts instead of letters. Some would blame it on my unconventional typing technique, but I blame the keyboard - at least I think I do. I can never quite reproduce the effect intentionally. So maybe it is some weird software problem Iain tells me I should use the Mac's own e-mail software instead of Thunderbird, but until such time as it becomes possible to import everything from Thunderbird - message rules, messages, accounts, user names and passwords, everything - I'll be sticking to Thunderbird even if it is quite slow on such a lowly machine.

 Last night I had several pints of Winter Warmer in the pub with Kevin and Iain. I stayed there until about 22:30, which is far later than I would normally stay, but with no work this morning it was safe to do so. Despite it being very late I had my dinner when I got in from the pub. Prior to the pub I only had a medium snack to help soak up some of the beer. It flies in the face of all advice, but I hate drinking on a full stomach, and love to eat with a stomach full of beer !

 I was just about to go to bed when Patricia finally got home. She been to her works Xmas dinner which was on a boat up and down the river Thames. Apparently she a wonderful time, and I look forward to hearing more about it tonight.

 Today I will just be mixing relaxing with a few bits and pieces. Much of that relaxing will be this morning as I wait in for a delivery, but once that comes I think I will pop out and do some shopping. I think it is time I bought a few new ties. Al my ties, all three of them, are dark colours. On Tuesday, after work, I think I want to wear a dark shirt with a light colour tie for a drinking appointment.
Heavy metal look
After showing the picture of myself looking almost, but not quite, smart in shirt and tie last Saturday, I thought it only proper to include a picture of me at my most Metallica-esque (despite the awkward fact that it is an Ian Gillan T shirt).
Wednesday 13th December 2006
08:09 GMT

 It is a remarkably mild morning. My morning paper suggests it is 12° C. Which is not bad for mid December. There is some wind, and that does carry a small chill, but it is dry. Unfortunately it is quite overcast, and it doesn't look like there will be any sunshine today.

 My lingering cough is still slowly improving. It did wake me up at least once during the night, but otherwise I slept well and do not feel knackered this morning. Apart from my cough, I did feel remarkably well yesterday, although perhaps not as good as the "hale and hearty", "fit as a fiddle" as I was hoping for yesterday morning.

 The previous two mornings, and last Friday, I have been wearing a shirt and tie to work. This morning I thought I would like a change. So I am wearing an Ian Gillan T "heavy metal(ish)" shirt, and put on my leather "heavy metal" jacket to come to work in. I have also reverted back to jeans instead of the black trousers I was wearing those previous days. It feels neither better or worse, but it makes a change. It was only while on the train this morning that I suddenly realised that I could put an accurate date on when I bought the Ian Gillan T shirt. It was bought on Sunday 2nd September 1990 when I attended an Ian Gillan gig at The Town And Country Club, Kentish Town (later to be called The Forum, and who knows what it is called now). The evidence can be seen here.

 Last night I heard news that Patricia may be finally moving out. It could be as early as this coming weekend, but I think that if it does happen it will be after she comes back from her Xmas holiday in Spain next year.

 Tonight I am looking forward to several pints of Winter Warmer in the pub. I am off work tomorrow (and Friday) so tonight I can safely stay later, and maybe get even drunker (although I doubt I will stay until closing time - I still need my beauty sleep !).
Tuesday 12th December 2006
08:15 GMT

 It's a nice morning. The sky is clear, and I don't feel too bad at all. Hopefully the sun will soon be rising over the Arndale Centre, and the day will then be even better.

 Most of my good feelings come from getting a proper nights sleep. I went to bed at 21:00 and had almost fallen asleep when Patricia came in at about 21:15. So I pulled on some pants and got up again for a few minutes. I was keen to hear if Nelly really had spent the night in Patricia's room. It turns out she did, but was no problem until she started scratching on the door to get out and find her breakfast. So my theories yesterday were all correct. After hearing about Nelly, and a few other bits of inconsequential chat, I was soon back in bed, and I fell asleep almost instantly. I woke up just once in the night, but only lost around five minutes of sleep. I was finally awoken by the very rare sound of my alarm going off. Usually I awake before it goes off.

 I woke up feeling fairly bunged up, but my voice was almost back to normal. Having not got up until my alarm went off I had less time than usual available to me to do stuff like check my e-mails, feed the cats etc. Despite that I went through my usual routine at very much the same pace as usual. In consequence it was a bit of a rush to get to the station on time when I left the house. I did not have to run, or anything outrageous like that, but I did need to keep up a fast walking pace. In fact I made it with a few minutes to spare (and the train was one minute late as well). My journey into work was almost unremarkable. I did have one major eye watering coughing fit, but it happened just a few seconds away from alighting at Waterloo East. Once out on the platform, and into the fresh air, my tickly throat quickly cleared and I was OK again. A similar, though less dramatic, thing happened as I approached Wandsworth Town Station. Maybe it was because I was concentrating on  my coughing and often bunged up nose, that I did not initially realise that I had no other significant aches or pains. All my muscles and joints seem to be in fine form this morning. If I could just get the crap off my chest I would declare myself fit and well, hale and hearty, and raring to go ! (Of course this is an illusion brought on by lack of alcohol !)
Monday 11th December 2006
11:01 GMT

 My NTL connection failed again this morning, and I do not have time to write anything now. Hopefully I'll write some stuff when I get home from work tonight.

18:22 GMT

 I am tired. Very, very, tired ! It's been a reasonable day at work, but last night I slept very badly for the third night running, I can't remember what time I went to bed, but I am sure I was asleep before 22:00. I woke up coughing several times during the night, and at about 03:00, maybe earlier, I had to get up and wait for the coughing to die down before going back to bed. This happened several more times, and by 05:00 I decided I may as well give up trying to sleep and I got up. In approximate terms this has been the pattern for the last three nights.

 My cough is starting to improve. I only had one major eye watering attack today, but several lengthy minor ones. I hope that tonight I will be able to sleep better. When I do finally turn in I feel certain I will fall asleep quickly through sheer exhaustion.

 Nelly had an interesting night, last night. As far as I know she spent the night in Patricia's room. Just before I went to bed she dashed into Patricia's room and his herself in an inaccessible place (for us mere humans). A little later I heard Patricia asking Nelly if she wanted to leave, and I assumed that she did. However Nelly did not come into my room, which is quite unusual, and while I was up in the middle of the night I saw no sign of Nelly. The first I saw of Nelly was when I came out of the bathroom after I had my morning shower. Nelly was on the top landing, and although I did not hear any doors opening, and Patricia's room was still in darkness. I assume that Patricia got out of bed to let Nelly out, and then got back into bed to continue sleeping. Patricia will be late home tonight after a meeting at work, and I can't wait to hear her account of Nelly's nocturnal adventures.

 Patricia was also late getting home last night. I was counting on her to fold up some empanades (see 3rd December for pictures of ones that Patricia made last time). Eventually I gave up waiting and had a go myself. My first effort was not that good, but still passable. After a couple more I had worked out a good technique and no longer need any assistance from Patricia. The one thing that was just very slightly disappointing was the filling. It was nice, but on reflection I think I could have made it more spicy.

 I took some of the empanades into work today to give to Anna, our operations manager. Some time back she was the first person, not counting Patricia, that I had met who had ever heard of empanades (she has relations in Chile who, like the Argentinians, are regular consumers of empanades). I took her enough for a couple for lunch, and along with a bottle of Quilmes Argentinian beer, some more to take home for dinner. By 10:00 she had tried the first one and gave it the thumbs up (smugness !!!). Incidently, if you have been reading empanades as em~pan~aids you are wrong. The correct pronunciation, as far as I can write it phonetically, is em~pan~ard~ers.

 I am sure there were other things I was going to write about this morning. The only thing I can remember now is that I was going to say that it was cold and overcast this morning. I don't think the sun has been out all day today, but the forecast is for some sunshine tomorrow.
Sunday 10th December 2006
08:13 GMT

 The day has dawned bright and clear - again. Like yesterday it is bloody cold. In fact this morning I think there is a bit of a light frost. Having now learned my lesson I have put the heater on in this back room, and although my feet are cold, the rest of me is quite comfortable. My voice is still croaky this morning. From time to time it does improve, but it all depends on how many coughing fits I have. Right now, probably because of the very dry air that the fan heater kicks out, plus a bit of dust thrown out by the fan on first running, my throat is very tickly at the moment.

 Last night I was due to go out with Kevin to view the very last train (ever) to depart from North Woolwich station. After a long day, and little sleep the previous night, I had to bottle out and I went to bed soon after 21:00 feeling exhausted. It still took a little while to get to sleep, but when I did sleep I managed a fair bit of quality sleep before waking up at 05:00 this morning. After feeding the cats and doing a bit of internet surfing I attempted to get some more sleep. I did doze off once or twice, but only for short spells before waking up again. So I have decided to have a big breakfast and try for some more sleep after that. Breakfast is now cooking in the oven and smells delicious.

 The highlight of yesterday was when we (Kevin and I) went out in the afternoon to take a final ride on the train between Stratford and North Woolwich. We actually started on the new extension of The Docklands Light Railway to George VI station on the City Airport extension. This almost, but not quite, runs parallel to the Straford to North Woolwich railway line. We discovered that it is only about a five minute walk between George VI station and North Woolwich station.

 Once at North Woolwich we took some pictures of the station itself - which is not terribly impresive - and then waited to catch a train back to Stratford. At Stratford there was about a 20 minute wait for a train back to North Woolwich, and we took that, but only as faras Silvertown station. Silvertown station is even more basic than North Woolwich, but we hung around, taking more pictures until the train had that had gone on to North Woolich came back again, and we travelled on it back to Stratford.

 By exercising some patience at Stratford we were able to catch a (relatively) new class 360 train to Liverpool Street. These trains are made by Siemens, and are a 25KV overhead powered version of the "Desiro" trains that I very often use on my commute into work between Waterloo and Wandsworth Town (or vice versa).

 Our first port of call at Liverpool Street station was The International Cheese shop where we both bought sandwichs, or rolls, full of delicious exotic cheese. Next it was the Weatherspoons pub for just a solitary pint of ale (and the chance to use the toilets). After a satisfying pint it was down to The Cental Line for a tube to Bank. Our initial plan was to walk the short distance betwen Bank and Cannon Street stations. A small navigational error in the subterranean depths of Bank Station brought us very close to The Northern line platforms. At that point is was easier to take the Northern Line to London Bridge, and catch a Catford Bridge bound train from there. This we did, and were lucky enough to get a fast service non-stop to Ladywell station (the station before Catford Bridge).

 Once back in Catford we walked down to Tesco where I wanted to buy some fags, and Kevin wanted to do a little shopping himself. By now it was around 18:00 and we had been out a little longer than I had expected. I was feeling very tired after a poor nights sleep, and still fighting off the remnants of my cold. I warned Kevin that I was not sure if I would have the energy to go out again at 23:00 to witness (and film) the very last train from North Woolwich. By 21:00 I was sure I would not go out, and phoned Kevin to let him know.  He said that he too was feeling very comfortable and did not know if he could prise himself out of his chair to go out later. As I write this I have no idea if he managed it or not.

 Today it is my intention to be ultra lazy. I may still go back to bed, and even if I don't I expect that I will be having several snoozes on the settee. To finish off here are a few photos taken yesterday. All are displayed here at half size. By right clicking on them, and selecting "view image" you will see them full size ( I think that works in Internet Explorer, but I am not sure. It definitely works if you are using a superior web browser - Firefox, Sea Monkey, Mozilla, maybe Opera as well).
North Woolwich station totem
Class 313 train showing North Woolwich destination Class 313 train at North Woolwich platform
Class 313 train showning North woolwich destination Train in platform at North Woolwich
North Woolwich station front Passengers first view of North Woolwich platform
North Woolwich station front View along platform from entry point

Saturday 9th December 2006
07:45 GMT

 The day has dawned bright and clear. It's also bloody cold ! This morning I seem to have almost, but not quite, lost my voice. It is the legacy of my recent cold, a lot of coughing, and having to speak in a raised voice last night. To be strictly accurate I did notice that my voice was going on the way home last night. I thought it would recover after a good nights sleep, but I did not get a good nights sleep. I kept waking my self up with coughing fits, and after several bouts like that I virtually gave up trying to sleep more. I first got up at 05:00 and came down to feed the cats. I also sat down at the computer to download some pictures from my mobile phone, and to process them to include here. It was, and still is, perishingly cold downstairs in this back room, and after nearly an hour at the computer I went back to bed to warm up. I did get a little more sleep, but it was not much. So here I am again in the back room, still feeling cold, but I am eating some hot noodles while I write this, and that is taking the chill off a bit.  Meanwhile, the heat is on full blast in the living room, and I look forward to getting in there to warm up more thoroughly.

 Yesterday was the company Xmas dinner. It was held at the same place as last year, Ghillies On The River, but there were two major changes compared to last year. Firstly I had decided to try and stay a lot leter than last year, and secondly there was a cock-up in the booking, but more about that later.

 One problem with the resturant is that the food is more arty than filling. The portions, although delightfully laid out, are on the small side. We all seem to have started with a pre-starter of something that I can only describe as a savoury profiterole. It was a little profiterole type case filled with green pesto (I think), and that was surrounded by a few salad leaves and some thinly sliced white stuff that may have been cheese, but may have been something else. After a fairly long interval the real starters arrived. I opted for the cod and pesto. For my main course my option was for the roast turkey with roast winter vegetables. This was served with a few grapes on the plate, and a side plate of roast carrot, parsnip, and courgette. Much to everyones surprise there were no roast potatoes. I think several people recalled seeing them listed on the menu when we originally placed our orders several weeks ago.
Cod And Pesto Starter
Cod and pesto starter.
Roast turkey main dish
Roast turkey main course.
 The nail brush (or whatever) seen in both pictures was the "toy" from my Xmas cracker !
 Strangely enough, the roast turkey displayed a remarkable resemblance to the ready prepared, stuffed roast turkey, that has been on offer in Tesco recently. For sweet I had Xmas pudding. Unfortunately this appeared to be covered in a coffee flavoured sauce that spoiled it for me.

 I really wish I had taken a proper camera with me. All I had was my mobile phone camera, while it is a very much better than the previous mobile phone camera I had, it is still rather crap compared to a proper camera (and with flash). I would have love to have taken a picture or two of Anna our operations manager. She was looking absolutely stunning in a black dress, and with her hair down. In the end I did not even get a picture of her using the phone camera.
Me in blue shirt and tie
Prior to leaving for the meal I took this self portrait.
Stefan and Gabri
Gabri and Stefan
 There is also a short video clip of a pan around the table that can be played/downloaded here (Xvid codec required - download)

 After the meal we went down to the bar to drink the rest of the day away. Unfortunately there was a bit of a cock-up. We had booked the entire bar for ourslves, but the resturant had made a double booking (or some such similar error). So they offered to taxi us all to their other establishment in Fulham (or maybe Parsons Green depending on whose review you read). Several of us were not keen on leaving the Wandsworth aea for fears of difficulties getting home, but the resturant also said that taxis would be laid on to bring us back to Wandsworth at the end of the evening. So we all piled into a couple of large "people carrier" taxis and were driven the mile or two across the river to Fulham (or maybe Parsons Green).

 I decided to take it fairly easy on the drinks, but did end being mildly drunk. Meanwhile several of the Research and Development men researched as much of the contents of the bar as possible and developed their drinking skills to new highs ! It was a pretty good night with lots of "male bonding" (and male/female & female/female bonding as well). There was even some drunken lurching that I believe was supposed to be dancing !

 I have no idea how late the real hard cases stayed, but I opted to bale out at around 22:30. Together with Steve we got a taxi to Clapham Junction Station where I was lucky enough to only have to wait a few minutes for a train to Waterloo. I was even luckier when I got there in time for the 23:11 Hayes train from Waterloo East, and so arrived home just a little later than 23:30. The very last train would have been about an hour later than that, but I didn't really want to chance that.

 I was fairly hungry when I got in some 10 hours after eating those small portions in the resturant. Luckily there was some left over pasta ready to be reheated. So I ate that and went to bed soon after. I was rather tired, but the excitement, and the coughing, delayed my sleep for some while before I finally fell asleep.

 This morning I do not have any trace of a hangover, but my throat is sore after the coughing and having to speak in a raised voice against the background noise last night. My voice seems to be getting a little stronger in the last hour, but I am still very croaky.

My plans for today are still rather undefined. I have already got a load of laundry in the washing machine, and soon I must go to Tesco's. Sometime later today I should be joined by Kevin as we take what will probably our second to last look at the closing section of The North London Line between Stratford (low level) and North Woolwich. Our very last look will hopefully be close to midnight at North Woolwich when we hope to see the last ever departure.
Friday 8th December 2006
10:23 GMT

 It's another late start to my writing because the internet connection was down at work again, and this is the first chance I have had to write a few lines since the connection came up again.

 The day has started very wet, and virtually my whole journey into work was done in darkness. Fortunately high winds have not featured in my local weather recently. Reports in this mornings news say that a mini hurricane hit North West London causing considerable damage last night.

 Today is the day of our company Xmas dinner. This is slightly unfortunate because my cough is still causing me a lot of grief. My nose has mostly dried up, and I do feel fairly well, but my hacking smokers cough will be around for some time to come (up to several weeks on past experience). It is gradually improving but it will make for an unpleasant dining experience with me coughing away every five minutes. This morning I have put on my best shirt and trousers, and the occasion is such that I am also wearing a tie. Even before I reached work I was complimented on my appearance by Anna our production manager who I met near the gates outside.

 If last year is anything to go by there will be plenty of booze available after the dinner, and drinking can carry on late into the evening. I am not sure how drunk I will allow myself to get considering the long journey home (with few and far toilet facilities available). Last year I did leave fairly early, around 18:00 as far as I can remember, but today I may opt to stay later and get a bit more booze in. Patricia is out tonight so I guess the cats wil just have to go hungry until I get home again (although they did get very large helpings of breakfast this morning).
Thursday 7th December 2006
07:20 GMT

 As forecast, today has started very, very, wet ! There doesn't seem to be the high winds that were forecast. At least I haven't noticed much from indoors. I am quite glad I have a day off work today. I don't think I would like travelling in this weather at any time, and while I am still feeling bunged up and chesty it would exceptionally horrible.

 The reason for my day off work was to go to The North London Line and do some photography of the section between Stratford (low level) and North Woolwich stations. The weather is not exactly ideal for photography right now, and Kevin, who was going with me, has been unable to get the day off work himself. Things may change this afternoon. The weather may brighten up, and Kevin may finish the job he is doing in time for a bit of "trainspotting" with me. It will be nice if we can go out, but it would also feel good to stay in the warm and try and cure myself of this irritating cold. Ideally I want to be feeling "fit as a fiddle" tomorrow when it is the company Xmas dinner. It would be terrible to have to pass up free food, and free drink, just because I was coughing up chunks of lung, and noisily blowing my nose every five minutes.

 I am trying to consider if I feel better today compared with yesterday, and I don't think I can come up with an answer. Yesterday was not too bad at work, although I was helped along by a few Paracetamols. This morning I have not taken any drugs, and I am beginning to feel better now. It was a different matter when I first woke up. Then my nose was bunged up solidly and very frequently re-blocked after clearing it, and I was coughing up all sorts of crap from my lungs. Both those affects have lessened since getting up over two hours ago. So maybe with some more drugs I will actually feel better later on this morning. Right now I am undecided.

 My journey home last night was mildly disappointing. It took too long to get to Clapham Junction, and my run of good luck getting the early, 16:31, train from Waterloo East came to an abrupt end. I still managed to get the 16:34 Barnehurst train as far as London Bridge, and then change onto the 16:50 Hayes train back to Catford Bridge via The Mid Kent Line. That train gets me home as much as twenty minutes later than my ideal early train.

 Last night I was drinking with Kevin and Iain in The Catford Ram. With today off work I was able to stay later than usual, although I didn't push it as late as closing time. We started a bit later than usual at 20:00, and I finished off at 22:00. Once home I had a snack and watched some TV before going to bed. I still had enough energy left to listen to a radio recording, but I was quite surprised that it had got as late as midnight when I finally turned out the light. It was perhaps more surprising that despite coughing, and having an uncomfortable blocked feeling in my nose, I fell asleep very quickly. Such is the power of Young's "Winter Warmer" !

 It seems I have only had about five hours sleep after my late night. So after I have indulged in some breakfasting I may well go back to bed, or at least have a snooze on the settee.
Wednesday 6th December 2006
08:08 GMT

 It's dry this morning. Maybe that is why all the trains (and I am really talking about South Eastern trains here) ran to time this morning. It does seem to be clouding up a bit right now, but I am confident that we will see some sunshine today. As I left home to go to the station (and indeed on the way home last night) I was accompanied by a very full bright moon shining through and almost cloudless sky. I don't knw if it was truly a full moon last night, and/or, this morning, but it did look very round. One legacy of the clear skies is that it is noticably cooler this morning, although some way off being cold enough for frost.

 This morning my head cold seems to be improving. I am coughing up less lumps now, and the congestion in my sinuses seems to be lessening. It is weird that although my nose often feel blocked, it has not run at all. Usually as soon as I get a head cold my nose just pours and pours. This time it just seems to get bunged up with exceptionally sticky mucus (possibly the stickiest substance in the world !). Upon waking up this morning I was forced to use the "snot rocket" technique while in the bathroom to relieve a bad blockage in my right nostril. It was very successful, and I have been breathing fairly easily since.

 In my desire to have a rant yesterday I forgot to mention something that happened on my way home. As I rocketed through the entrance hallway at Clapham Junction I thought I saw Aleemah. At the time I dismissed the idea as impossible, and assumed it was just someone who looked similar to Aleemah (and with possibly identical glasses). Now I am not so sure it was impossible, and have downgraded my opinion to unlikely. So if you are reading this Aleemah (as I suspect you do from time to time) I apologise if it was you and I ignored you (or maybe you preferred it like that ?).

 While today is forecast to be mainly dry, tomorrow is forecast to be very wet and windy. This is a shame because I am taking the day off work to go "train spotting" with Kevin.  Train spotting is actually a misnomer. We are actually station and track spotting ! Our visit is to the Stratford (low level) station to North Woolwich station section of track of the North London Line run by Silverlink Trains. The last ever services are due to run on this section on Saturday 9th December. (Read more here - pdf file). With luck Kevin will be available to drive to North Woolwich on Saturday night to witness the last ever departure of a train there at 23:57 (if my memory serves me correctly).
Tuesday 5th December 2006
09:02 GMT

 It's late, it's raining, my train was delayed by over 25 minutes getting to Waterloo East, and I couldn't access my server to update this for the first 25 minutes of my day at work. Despite that I am reasonably happy, and will have more to say when I get home from work tonight.

18:15 GMT

 This mornings rain continued intermittently until almost lunchtime, and then started again around 16:00. Fortunately the rain was very light, when it did rain, during my journey home from work. My journey home was quite smooth, although I was suffering from a bit of tummy ache for some of the journey. In contrast to the journey home, the journey to work was definitely bad. My train was a good ten minutes late at Catford Bridge, and maybe later than that. Having lost our path to other trains we arrived at Waterloo East closer to twenty five minutes late. By itself this was no hardship, but the trains quickly get overloaded the later you leave Waterloo. My train, the 07:52, soon filled up, and to make a reasonably quick exit at Wandsworth Town I elected to stand up near the doors at Clapham Junction. Being late for work, specially when it only around  thirty minutes, is no great deal as there is an informal flexitime system in operation. Had I been caught, which I wasn't, I would have stayed a little bit later to make up for it.

 I did try and make some time to write something up this morning, but for some unknown reason I could not access my server. By the time I could it was far too late to waste time writing apart from those two lines I quickly scribbled down at 09:02. My initial feeling this morning was that I was feeling OK and happy. This might have been because I had been observing just how miserable some people looked on the morning trains. Many people looked as if they were about to die, or commit suicide. It cheered me up no end ! I wasn't glorifying other peoples tragedy, but I was thinking that despite several reasons for discomfort, and no real reason to be happy, I was sure I didn't look as bad as these other people.

 Later on in the day I did begin to feel a bit miserable. I seem to to be either doing a very good job at fighting a cold I have, or I am on the brink of coming down with a cold. Since yesterday I have developed a bit of a throaty cough, and to a limited extent yesterday evening, and maybe more so today, I have been feeling bunged up without my nose actually running. Soon after midday I started to feel quite tired, and even a breath of fresh air when I went to Waitrose to buy some fruit failed to perk me up. If anything I got back into work feeling even more knackered. Even now as I write this I am looking forward to my bed later tonight. I hope Patricia is not too late in tonight. She has gone to visit her sister straight from work. If she is too late I will have gone to bed, but I know it will be difficult to sleep knowing that at any time I will be woken up as the front door is opened.

 I have been meaning to have a rant for the last few days. The date is now set for Armageddon, or the coming of the smoking ban in pubs. The date is set to be 1st July 2007. Think I want to take off the week before that and spend as much time as possible drinking and smoking in pubs before pubs become no go areas. I must remember to take plenty of photos and plenty of video footage of what pubs used to be like as I will have very fond memories of them in future years. The one thing I don't understand is how smoking can be banned in private clubs. Surely the whole idea of private clubs is to keep the riff raff out - politicians, non-smokers etc ! I feel I want to stockpile tobacco before it becomes a class A drug as surely it will one day. There are now two big unanswered questions. Will I live long enough to see the day come when I have to creep down the back streets of Catford looking for a tobacco dealer, and before I die will I ever get to use the millions of pounds I will have poured into the National health service through tobacco taxes ?
Monday 4th December 2006
08:38 GMT

 There is not much I can say this morning after writing about the weekend last night. So it's really just the weather...

 This morning started dry, but with very dark skies. It was not until my train had reached Clapham Junction that I could really say it was daylight. It's not too bright even now though. The sky is cloudy, but it doesn't look like rain for some time to come yet.
Sunday 3rd December 2006
19:45 GMT

 It's been a good weekend, and today was possibly the best day. Overnight the wind howled and the rain poured down, but by about 09:00 it has all blown itself out leaving a mostly bright sunny day. The only major calamity was that my green recycling box blew away overnight. I found the lid in the road outside, and the box itself just around the corner (I assume it was mine - well it is now anyway !).

 I first got up shortly before 05:00. I was awoken by the howling gale outside, and once awake I needed to go to the toilet anyway. So I came down fed the cats, and had a surf around the internet. I was back in bed again soon after 06:00 and slept, sometimes intermittently, until nearly 10:00 ! Patricia slept in even later. By 11:00 we were both up and dressed and my first plan was that I had thought we might go to Tesco together. At that time I was under the impression that Patricia would be out later in the day, and would not be home until late. So I was a little surprised what Patricia suggested we might go to Greenwich for the afternoon. I agreed even though I was a little hesitant about going. It was over an hour later before Patricia was ready to go out, and by that time I was even less sure about going out. I was expecting the wind and rain to return, and I was sure Greenwich would be unpleasantly crowded. As an alternative I suggested we take a long walk around the park - which is what we did. A complete circumference of the whole of Ladywell Recreation ground, when done at a pleasant walking speed, takes at least an hour. I don't know how long it took us, I wasn't keeping track of time, but I think my estimate of at least an hour was not far wrong. It was rather pleasant out. The sun was shining brightly, and although often very windy, it was not too cold. After our complete circumnavigation of the park we walked directly to Tesco and bought some provisions and came home for lunch.

 We had a fairly light lunch with a glass of red wine together, and then Patricia retired to her room to send a few e-mails, and eventually to grab another hour or two of sleep. Meanwhile I watched some TV and did some photo editing. I too fell asleep at one point, and maybe slept for 30 or 40 minutes.

 For dinner I cooked some salmon steaks, with garlicky spinach, and broccoli as side dishes. Also on the table was some garlic bread and more red wine. It was when it was cooked, and ready to serve, that I realised Patricia was fast asleep. I tapped on her door and called out to her (both fairly softly), but getting no reply I started my dinner without her. I had only finished my dinner by 10 minutes when Patricia appeared downstairs for her dinner. So while she ate we had a chat and watched some of "The Blue Planet" on UKTV History channel.

 I took my camera out to the park today in case there was anything worth taking pictures of. I took a couple of photos, but did not seem inspired to take more. Of greater significance was that I found that I had a couple of pictures on the camera that had been taken last month. They were of the empanades that we made together sometime near the beginning of November.
Empanades ready for cooking
Ready to go in the oven.
The finished empanades
The cooked empanades with side salad and white wine.
Saturday 2nd December 2006
21:12 GMT

 Today has been a fairly good day. As far as I can remember it has been dry all day, which is rather better than it was for a short while yesterday. After a very wet start yesterday it kept fairly dry for much of the day, but with one major exception. After getting back to Catford I walked to Tesco. So far my journey had been made in the dry, although the sky was very grey when I left work (and night had fallen by the time I had reached Clapham Junction station). When I came out of Tesco there was still no rain. It takes just about a minute to walk through the car park next to Tesco. In the solitary minute the heavens opened and I left the car park to pouring rain. I was instantly saturated to the point when I really couldn't tell if it was still raining when I got home five minutes later.

 For the rest of last night I stayed in and amused myself with a bit of this and a bit of that (eating and watching TV !). Patricia had sent me a text message to say that she would be staying out drinking and would be late home. So I didn't wait for to come home before starting on dinner. It's lucky I didn't. It was just after midnight when she finally got home and went straight to bed.

 We both had a lie in this morning, although I did get up for something like an hour at 05:00 to feed the cats and check my e-mail. I went back to bed and although I did not fall asleep straight away, I did manage to stay in bed, mostly asleep, until about 09:00. Patricia slept even later than that, but not quite late enough to almost catch me coming out of the bathroom naked after my shower ! I have no fear of her seeing me naked, but I think it would be a bit of a shock for her.

 After getting dressed and putting some laundry into the washing machine I went out to pick up a packet from the sorting office. I couldn't believe how crowded it was in there. The queue stratched right out of the door, and I had time to smoke 90% of a fag before I could get into the place. My patience was rewarded by only having to wait 15 seconds for a bus to come home again.

 Once home again I had some breakfast before doing some stuff on the PC. Patricia went out to visit The National Gallery (that being one of her favourite pastimes) at around midday, and I busied myself doing a bit of this and a bit of that. I am not exactly sure what made the time pass so quickly, but pass it did. Patricia came home sometime between 17:00 and 18:00 and mostly disappeared up into her room. She did come down to put some washing into the machine, and to give me a Xmas card. On the strength of that, plus the fact that Patricia will be here for some of the 12 days of Xmas (though not  between the 22nd December and 1st January) I decided to put up my Xmas tree for the first time in something like 6 years. It was a bit early, but all the public trees in the high streets, and in the front of some churches I have passed by, have their Xmas lights on, so why shouldn't I ?

 At 19:15 tonight we had dinner. It was tuna steak accompanied by some rather tasty stuffed vine leaves. For pudding we had some chocolate cake that Patricia had bought in Tesco this morning. It was all rather nice. A healthy dinner followed by an unhealthy pudding !

 Patricia is now up in her room preparing for bed. Very soon I will be up in my room doing the same. Tomorrow is another day, but as I sit here right now I have no idea what I will be up to.
Friday 1st December 2006
08:24 GMT

 This morning it is wet, and as I waited for my train, very wet ! Since arriving in Wandsworth the rain has stopped, but the sky is a very gloomy leaden colour, and more rain is bound to fall later.

 Life is full of little surprises. Maybe these are what makes life so interesting, maybe not. One of two surprises for me this morning is that today is the 1st of December, and not the non-existent 31st of November. The consequences of this are two fold. First I was paid yesterday, or should have been. This month there is no actual advantage of being paid a day early after managing my finances rather better last month than I did the month before that. The second, and probably more significant consequence of it being the 1st of December is that I had to cobble this diary page together in a mad panic before leaving for work. As yet it is still rather unfinished. Writing the rough outline for this page left me almost too late to get my morning train, and a mad dash to the station soon followed. Ironically it seems that the whole of South Eastern trains is running to GMT + 10 minutes this morning, or should that be GMT - 10 minutes ? Whether I should be describing it as plus, or minus, 10 minutes is irrelevant here. The reality was that I did not have to rush to the station because my train was 10 minutes late, and I had to stand in the rain for nearly 15 minutes awaiting my train.  At intermediate stations, and particularly at Waterloo East I heard, or read, announcements that indicated all trains were running about 10 minutes late. This did not apply to South Western trains, and my train from Waterloo (mainline) to Wandsworth Town station was perfectly on time (except that it was a later train than I normally get).

 Another irony this morning is that despite it being colder and damper than of late I do not seem to have any significant aches or pains this morning. Even my back that bears the legacy of industrial injuries - lifting heavy TV's while working for Mastercare - seems to be reasonably sound. Potentially this could bode well for a pleasant weekend. I believe Patricia is home this weekend, and maybe we will even be able to gfo swimming in the morning. All I would have to do is to avoid rich and spicy food tonight so I am not suffering with any intestinal complaints in the morning. This is easier said than done. I rather fancy a curry, or something tonight, but I think I will be getting some shopping from Tesco on my way home, and I may see something nice in there. Before I realised I was not in any significant pain this morning I had already been considering what should be on tonight's menu. My earlier idea, and one that could still come to pass, was for a couple of nice salmon steaks with spinach and mashed potato. With some garlic added to the cooking it would be very nice, and quite healthy too, but now I do seem to have this curry fixation.

 I think I can blame Nelly for at least one of my dreams last night. I was in my uncles home above his grocers shop. It wasn't at all like I remember it from real life, but that was where I was in the dream. There was a lot of building noise coming from next door and someone showed me that there was a sound dampening field in operation by turning off a switch and the sound getting briefly louder, and of a different nature. I was aware, but I don't know at what point I was aware of it, that the foundations were being dug out under the shop to build a new cellar (or something). Next came a lurch and it was apparent that the building was sinking on one side, and probably falling down. By this time the building had taken on the appearance of a small tower of some sort. Each floor was only about 10ft by 10ft in size, and in the corner of the floor was the wooden staircase leading down to the way out. The floorboards were rough wooden planks, and the staircase was roughly hewn wood as well giving the place a rather mediaeval look. As I started my way down I had to overcome all sorts of weird obstacles. Some parts of the staircase was actually a ladder, and in one part I had to climb through the rungs of some sort of folding ladder. It was all rather weird and I woke up before I got out. I think the first noise I heard was Nelly scrambling up on to my bed (there is a box of semi-loose stuff she uses as a mid point). The louder, slightly different noise, was her purring in my ear, and the sudden lurch as the foundations gave way was her jumping off my bed again. Maybe the strange obstacles in getting out of the building were me unwrapping myself from the duvet. Of course I'll never know what was really happening, but it's sort of satisfying to have a dream that might have some logical explanation.