Smash the smoking ban. Smokers of the world unite and fight. I want to die.
Home Page
Site Map

JULY 2007
smoking permitted

2 3 4 5 6 7 8
9 10 11 12 13 14 15
16 17 18 19 20 21 22
23 24 25 26 27 28 29
30 31
( A pastel shaded background indicates two entries for that day)

Tuesday 31st July 2007
09:20 BST
 When I opened the back door to let the cats out this morning there was an icy blast that chilled me to the bone (or would have done if I had stood there for more than a few moments). I have no idea what the air temperature was, but it must have been very close to, or even in, single figures. Since then the bright sunshine, shining down through 95% clear blues skies, has warmed the air a fair bit. It is now almost perfect outside (for walking), and later today it will probably get quite warm.Yesterday was pretty good too. A few times the sun was hidden behind clouds, but overall it was a most pleasant sunny day.

 After work I went to Victoria to have a drink with Aleemah,  her friend Melvin, and Jodie. I met Aleemah and Melvin inside Victoria station, and we headed to The Willow Walk pub in nearby Wilton Way. Melvin wanted to buy something from Argos, which is next door to the pub, and Aleemah went with him. I went straight into the pub to wait for them. I had only been sitting down for a few minutes, reading my paper
Miss verbal diarrhoea 2007 when I was joined by Linda. You may ask who Linda is, and that would be a very good question. Where she came from, where she went to are a mystery to me, but I do know she could talk. I have dubbed her Miss Verbal Diarrhoea 2007 in the picture on the left. She wasn't that bad looking, and may have just been lonely, or something. Maybe I should have chatted her up, but considering I doubt I could get a word in edgewise, and she did mention a husband twice, it would probably have been foolish to try.

 I was almost saved by Jodie turning up. She was on her way to a gig and knowing I was going to be drinking there, dropped in for a pint on her way to North London (or somewhere). It was some time before Aleemah and Melvin finished in Argos and came into the pub, but even then Linda still stayed and tried to chat to me (but not me exclusively). Eventually she went to "annoy" someone at the bar. Maybe it was a real friend, or maybe it was a new friend. Who knows ?

 While in the pub I had three delicious pints of Ringwood's "Forty Niner" before I went to get my 18:19 train from platform 2 at Victoria. My journey home was nice and smooth, and I was soon tackling a little problem I had on my downstairs, backroom, Linux PC. That problem was persuading a new installation of Thunderbird, the e-mail client, to use my old mail folders and settings. I have had this fight several times in the past, and every time I have managed to make it work, and everytime I have no idea what that last important step was. I first made it work transferring a copy of my mail folders to a Windows machine. that allowed me to check my e-mail and stop panicking. Then I managed to get it working on the Kubuntu Linux machine.

 I think Kubuntu feels slightly sluggish compared to Suse Linux, but overall I would recommend it to anyone - even to someone who has never used Linux before. The installation is simple, and using it is simple. There is probably no need for any average user to ever look "under the bonnet" to see, for instance, the Linux bash prompt (command line). Software installation is ridiculously easy - even for those "dodgy" programs like DVD rippers that are never included in other distributions.
Monday 30th July 2007
06:53 BST
 I was wrong about yesterday. The sun did come out later in the morning, and it turned out to be a nice day. I wonder what the weather will be like for today ? Right now the sky is blue, and the sun is shining. According to the Firefox weather plug-in it is now a mere 10° C, but it will rise to 20° C with sunshine all day. It may not be exactly like summer, but I think I'll leave my coat at home today.

 Once again I have missed my train to work. This morning I blame it on what I was doing last night, and the after effects this morning. Last night I decided to change my Linux operating system on the downstairs, back room, PC from Suse 10.2 to Kubuntu 7.0.4. On the whole, this upgrade (sidegrade ???) went well. There was just one thing that caused me some problem, and still does. It happens every time I change operating systems. The problem is trying to get the old Thunderbird mail folders to work with the changed version. In theory you just make sure that your mail profile is in the right place. I have successfully used this method to transfer my entire mail folders from a Linux PC to a Windows PC. This time it is causing more grief than usual. I spent a fair time mucking about with it last night, and too long this morning. Tonight I will undoubtably spend even more time on the problem. I think the first thing I do will be to burn my old mail files to a CD (or DVD if they do not fit - my inboxes stretch back four years and have grown rather large in that time !), and then copy them onto my iMac's Thunderbird installation. I have done that before, and with luck it will go OK this time. Once that is running I will be under less pressure to get mail working on the new Kubuntu installation.

 Kubuntu seems pretty good. The package manager (for installing new software) seems to work well, but there is one thing I don't like about it. You cannot log in as root (admin), and root's password is the same as the first user. Not being able to login as root (who can absolutely everything) may be a good safety feature, but sharing the password with the first user seems a bit dangerous to me (although that is the Mac OSX way of doing things). I have now changed that by going onto the command line (like the DOS prompt in Windows) and using the passwd command to change root's password.

 It seem it is time to go and get my next train. Maybe I'll continue this geekery later.
Sunday 29th July 2007
07:11 BST
 Sunday is not living up to it's name. There is no sun, just a totally grey sky with rain. It looks set to be like this all day. Which is a shame, but I wasn't planning to do anything, or go anywhere special. So it is of little inconvenience. Yesterday was far better. All morning, and into the afternoon, it was bright and sunny. As the afternoon wore on the clouds did begin to gather, and by late evening it did start to rain, and then it rained quite heavily for much of the night.

 After feeling pretty crappy for most of the week it was nice to feel almost normal again yesterday. I was up in plenty of time to do some shopping and some hoovering before meeting up with Aleemah at London Bridge station. The original plan was to come straight back here, but as it seemed such a nice day we had a quick wander around Greenwich first. We didn't do much there, but I did by some herbal clove flavoured cigarettes from the "hippy shop". These clove cigarettes don't have any nicotine in them, so they are a bit of a novelty item, but they have an interesting taste.

 After we had looked around Greenwich we caught a 199 bus back to Catford and visited the pie and mash shop. I had a bacon and egg baguette, and Aleemah had pie, mash, and a very non vegetarian looking gravy. Before coming back here to watch a DVD we called in at a shoe shop where Aleemah bought some boots. Once back home again we watched a film called Made In Britain about a very ugly, and repulsive skinhead who went around creating mayhem. Fortunately the film has a happy ending (but not for the skinhead !!).

 I took Aleemah back to London Bridge on the 19:16 train (or was it the 19:46 ?). As we left here the sky began to look fairly threatening, but it stayed dry until I was back in Catford half way between the station and home. Even then there were only occasional spots of rain. I knew it would be a gamble not taking a coat with me, but those few spots of rain were not enough to worry about. Had I been out another fifteen minutes I would have been glad to wear a coat. that was when the rain really started, and by midnight it was heavy enough to wake me up. I woke up several times in the night, and as far as I can recall it was raining on every occasion.

 I have several options to amuse myself today. There are still a couple of articles in this weekends New Scientist that I have yet to read, and I have quite a few episodes of "Blakes 7" I can watch. I am half way through reading a novel by Harry Harrison, and I still have the old Apple Performa 5200 computer partly dismantled from several weeks ago waiting to be repaired. On my way back from the station last night I salvaged a couple of sticks of 72 pin RAM from a PC that had been dumped in the road. Nothing else was worth salvaging, and in fact I doubt I have any real use for these two memory sticks, but they were there ready to be taken, so I took them. I think they are only 8MB sticks, but I'd like to test them at some point. So in theory I should not be bored today, but I expect I will be at some point. I think the next thing I shall do is to go back to bed.
Friday 27th July 2007
08:19 BST
 When I left the house this morning the sky was totally free of clouds. There was some light haze making the sky a little lighter blue than it could have been, and in any summer, except this summer, you could have been forgiven for thinking that it was the start of a gloriously hot summer day. In fact the clouds are starting to gather already, and there could be showers later. Hopefully those showers will be lighter than yesterday as I left work. The rain was moderate while I walked to the bus stop, and not too bad as I waited for the bus. By the time the bus got to Clapham Junction it was as if the sky had cracked open. It absolutely bucketed down !

 I never wrote anything yesterday because I was feeling crap with a capital C. It started on Wednesday night. I was feeling warm when I went out to meet Kevin, Howard, and Iain for a pint on The Copperfield pub. The change of usual venue was because we all wanted to go and see (and photograph) a steam train going through Catford station at about 8.05 pm. I spent most of the time outside the pub in the smoking marquee. This was partly so I could smoke, and partly because I found the pub to be very uncomfortably warm. After taking our photos at the station we were going to go back to our normal venue, The Catford Ram, but I seemed to be feeling even hotter and more uncomfortable. So I went back home.

 At home I opened all the windows, and unbuttoned my shirt. The draught felt quite chilly across my damp chest, but my face still seemed to be burning. Eventually I went to bed, but could not come to a compromise between trying to keep my cold to the touch torso warm, and my burning face cool. I am not sure how I had arranged myself, and the duvet, when I went to sleep, but I woke up feeling really rough. I went to work OK, but for most of the day my neck and upper chest felt very sore, and I generally felt weak and exhausted.

 By the time I was ready to go home from work I was feeling a fair bit better, and I went home via Victoria where I had a drink with Aleemah. That was pleasant, but I once again felt very tired by the time I got home again. At first I wasn't going to do any cooking. I ate a packet of peanuts, and two bags of low fat crisps while relaxing. After a bit I decided I did have the energy to do some cooking and went out to the kitchen to see what was available. I had a large portion of minced beef that had been sitting in the bottom of the fridge for some time, and was up to it's use by date. So I decided I ought to cook that, but that seemed rather more than I really desired. So I put the mince in a casserole dish along with some onions, tomatoes, herbs, etc. and put that in the oven to cook for use today. With the mince looking after itself in the oven I found some jumbo frankfurters that I cooked up with some sweetcorn on the hob. That made for a nice "snack" as I watched The Avengers on BBC4. After The Avengers had finished I went straight to bed, but it took until almost 10 pm before I was fully asleep despite feeling so tired.

 Today I still don't feel my best, but at least I feel better than yesterday. Tonight I will be fairly busy, or at least I should be. I still have no checked the picture I took on Wednesday night. So I will copy them from the camera to my PC. then I have some laundry I ought to do. Most importantly though, I have the minced beef to look forward to. After an hours cooking last night (in fact it would have continued to cook after I turned the gas out and just left it in the heat of the oven) It ought to be rather delicious when I reheat it tonight. I will probably serve it with some pasta. There will be far more there than I can eat tonight. So I can also look forward to finishing it off after Aleemah goes home when she visits me tomorrow (she doesn't eat meat so I can't offer her any).
Wednesday 25th July 2007
08:27 BST
 Today is not nearly as good as yesterday. At 4.55 am, when I woke up this morning, the sky was reasonably clear, but some of the few clouds visible were tinged with red. Since then the clouds have thickened, although there are still breaks in the cloud. As I write this the sun has found a way through the clouds and is shining for the first time this morning. Later on I am expecting rain, and I have lost my courage and worn a coat to work today.

 I saw a very sad sight yesterday morning, and I have only just remembered that I meant to mention it. Lying in the road, outside my house, is a squashed packet of Benson & Hedges. It must have been alive when it fell there as it's tobacco entrails are still in evidence, sqashed out around it, even this morning. What a tragic waste of tobacco life.

 I managed to get to bed at 8.50 pm last night. I did not go sleep straight away, but stayed up reading. I managed to read the first chapter of a Harry Harrison book called "Homeworld" before the daylight I was reading by faded out enough to make reading difficult. After that I closed the curtains and was asleep in minutes. I didn't check the time, but I would estimate I was asleep by about 9.20 pm. I guess I managed around seven hours of sleep last night, and I think I feel the better for it.

 Tonight is probably pub night, but I will attempt to not stay there late. If I leave at 9 pm I could still be in bed, fast asleep, by 10 pm, and then if I manage to sleep right through until my alarm wakes me at 5.30 am I will have managed seven and a half hours sleep. It's still a bit short of the magic eight hours, but should suffice during these summer months.

 I wonder if anybody has actually attempted to read the wap versions of my blog entries -
So far there have been no reports in my web server statistics of it, but I have not delved too deeply to see what is in there. I did notice that my initial tests using my own mobile phone are buried so deep in the log file that they are hard to spot, and my analysis software only displays the top xx of most statistics. Any mobile phone browsing is probably so rare that it would just fall of the bottom of the charts. So I guess I'll just have to search through the files manually. 
Tuesday 24th July 2007
08:13 BST
 This morning is like a beautiful spring morning. There is a cool breeze and bright sunshine. When I first woke up, at 4.35 am, there was more cloud around, but as the morning has progressed a lot of that cloud has dissipated. At Waterloo is was rather pleasant, standing in the sunshine, smoking my mid journey fag outside the station. As I walked from the bus stop at Wandsworth to work, I noticed that the whole of the 50% of sky I could see was 99% blue. There were just one or two little wispy clouds high up in the sky. It would be nice if it stayed like this all day . In fact it would be very handy because I made the bold decision not to wear a coat this morning.

 Yesterday remained fairly dry, at least I never got more than the lightest touch of rain while I was outside. I came home from work via Tesco where I bought a couple of outrageous deserts to cheer me up after the dull skies. I also bought my supplies of fruit for eating at work. It would actually be quite good if I was able to just eat fruit when I got home tonight. Those deserts I bought, and ate, last night, had far too much sugar in them, and my blood sugar level is probably rather high this morning. Having said that, I do feel far more lively this morning compared to yesterday morning.

 I attempted to get an early night in last night, and I was in bed slightly early, but not as early as I probably should have been. I was kept up while waiting for one of my PC's to finish what it was working on. After getting up at 4.35 am, this morning, I could ideally have attempted to get to sleep by about 8.30 pm last night, but then again, I did not realise how early I would wake up this morning.

 I don't know if I slept well or not last night. I certainly had some spectacular dreams. One dream was about launching a space shuttle from my back room. I was with someone doing some last minute work on this space shuttle just minutes before it was due to take off. I managed to finish what I was doing and got clear, but my co-worker was slower and was still on the outside when it took off. I was sure he would be killed, as no one could survive falling through the fiery blast of the rocket engines. I was in my front room when it blasted off, and the glare of the rocket exhaust lit up the room even though the door was only open a crack. After it had taken off I inspected the back room and saw that there was some minor damage to the ceiling (!), but was not worried as I knew that NASA would pay for it to be repaired. When I went back into the front room I noticed a pile of bright orange sheeting in the corner. When I inspected it I found it was a parachute and my co-worker had somehow managed to save himself and was alive.

 A second dream was rather interesting. I was in a car following a van that delivered drinking water to work (which is a pure fiction), and in front of that was another car being driven by (I think) my friend Ivor. We were going down a dual carriageway very fast, and every time the car in front of the van approached a speed camera it would slow down, and then accelerate away again at full power. This caused some wheel spin and a threw up some gravel and smoke from the tyres. The dream itself, while exciting, was not the bit I found interesting when I woke up. What stirred my interest was the flying gravel and smoke. To produce that as a perfectly realistic visual effect on a PC would take a lot of computing power , and could take hours, or even days of computing time. It is sort of amazing to think that my brain was "inventing" what seemed like a realistic image in real time. I'm just so glad that my brain does not run Microsoft software !!

 I have no idea what I will be doing tonight, but I have a funny feeling it will involve getting to sleep very early !
Monday 23rd July 2007
06:49 BST
 It is a very dull morning. There has been some light drizzle earlier on, and I expect that there will be more. This is a bit of a contrast compared to yesterday. I can't recall if there was any rain yesterday, but if there was it was very brief, and very light. Most of the day was fairly sunny with lots of white fluffy clouds in the sky.

 Yesterday did not turn out anything like I imagined. I spent several hours doing maintenance on my server. There were many security patches to install, and a few broken things that I fixed. For instance, I now get all the mail for root forwarded to my e-mail address. That has stopped working, for unknown reasons, quite a few months ago. The most likely reason, although it is only a guess, is that some previous security update had altered a configuration file, or maybe even altered where the configuration file was stored. Whatever it actually was I seem to have got it working again.

 Another thing I had a play with was to make a set of new pages specifically for browsing on a mobile phone. There is a brief index page, and I am currently thinking of just putting plain text versions of the last five days of these diary entries. If you can afford the extortionate rates of web access on your mobile phone you can check to see the index page and links to the previous two entries in this diary (I say previous two entries rather than the last two days because I didn't write anything on Saturday). Depending on the mobile tariff you are on it may not cost too much. On my pay-as-you-go Virgin phone it cost 6p to read the index page, and the entry for yesterday. I suppose that is not too bad, but I would not like to make a habit of it. I will probably add today's entry (what you are reading right now) sometime tonight after I get in from work.

 I am obviously not at work yet, and in fact as I started to write this I should have been half way to the station. Unfortunately it is another of those mornings where everything is taking a little longer than expected. If I did not have to shave, and if I had neglected to wash my hair, I would have been ready to go out in plenty of time, but my hair definitely needed a good shampoo, and it is too early in the year to consider growing my beard back. So it looks like I will be getting the 07:30 train - which I hate. It is always very crowded.

 Now I am just left with a couple of questions. Who was the girl in the light blue sweater, and the dark hair with a hint of a coppery sheen to it, who appeared in my dreams last night ? Did I actually own, or did I hire the double decker bus where I was hoping certain carnal pleasures would eventually happen ? Sometimes dreams can be wonderful, but wouldn't it be great if they came true. I am not worried about the bus, but that girl, or more properly, woman (late thirties ?) was very, very beautiful !
Sunday 22nd July 2007
07:53 BST
 This morning the cloud has a few blue bits showing through, but none of these has aligned with the sun, and it is rather gloomy outside. I think we are going to see another heavy shower or two today. Perhaps it will be like yesterday. Yesterday was actually mostly bright, but there were two very heavy showers, and maybe a couple of lighter ones. It seemed sufficiently dry for the couple of times I went out to meet Aleemah at London Bridge, and to see her back at London Bridge after she had spent the afternoon here, that I dared go out without a coat on. Unfortunately I did get rained on as we walked from the high street back to home. It was not very heavy rain, but for the few minutes I was out in it my t-shirt did get pretty wet.

 I met Aleemah a little earlier than planned at London Bridge, although it was only ten minutes earlier. We still got the same train back to Catford, but it did give us a little more time to enjoy a fag outside the station. Once back in Catford we headed for the pie and mash shop which now seems to be a standard feature when Aleemah comes to visit me. It was half way through walking back from there that the rain partially soaked my t-shirt. The main feature for the afternoon was to watch the film "Trainspotting" that Aleemah had brought over on DVD.

 Aleemah left half an hour earlier than usual, but that still wasn't early enough for the four-trains-an-hour service to/from London Bridge. With trains only every thirty minutes back to Catford from London Bridge, and only  a small window to say goodbye before catching the next train home, I didn't have time to smoke a fag at London Bridge. Prior to the smoking ban I would always have time for a smoke on the platform, and it is such an ingrained habit that it is really unpleasant for me to do the two way trip without a fag in the middle. Like last week, I took a bit of nicotine gum to chew while waiting for my train, and to chew on the train. It helps a bit, but it is like being offered a stale cheese sandwich when you are starving and really want a chicken tikka massala with all the trimmings.

 I had a dream last night/this morning concerning Catford Bridge station. I think it was inspired by what happened as I was about to get off the train after seeing Allemah off at London Bridge last night. There was a young woman who seemed almost oblivious to me trying to get off the train. She practically bumped into me before she realised I was in the way as I attempted to get off the train. In my dream the woman was replaced by three schoolkids, all rather bizzarely wearing pin stripe suits, who jumped onto the step outside the train doors while the train was still stopping. They successfully hung on somehow, but for the last couple of yards that the train travelled before coming to a stop, they knocked down about four other people. The other peculiar thing was that the station seemed to be "inside out". The tracks were on the outside of the platforms leaving the area between the platforms as just rough ground with grass, trees, and shrubs (very much like the trackside is now since privatisation of the railways has killed any pride by the gangs who used to maintain both the tracks and the trackside).

 Upon waking up form the dream I started to think how Catford Bridge station has changed since my earliest memories of it. The most obvious change is that the siding have gone. These supported both a coal merchant as well as general goods and a parcels office. On the up platform (towards London) there used to be a signal box to control both the through lines and the sidings. There was no footbridge over the tracks, and this meant that both platforms had their own ticket offices. The one on the up platform was the bigger ticket office, and was manned throughout the day, while the office on the down platform was much smaller and not always open. The up platform ticket office is now closed off and all tickets are bought either from the quickfare machine outside the station or the enlarged down platform ticket office (whose opening hours have recently been reduced, and is often closed even during those hours). As far as I can recall there was only a basic gents toilet on the down platform, but the up platform could boast full ladies and gents toilets, plus waiting rooms for both sexes. There was also a small WH Smiths shop selling newspapers and magazines that had counters on both the outside of the station and in the ticket office. I cannot remember the exact layout of that WH Smiths, and as I try and think about it I feel confused as to whether the second counter of WH Smiths faced onto the road, or onto the platform. I do remember that adjacent to the roadside entrance of the up platform ticket office was the shop of the coal merchant who used to get his deliveries to the sidings.   

 I don't know what I am going to do today. There is a microscopic chance that I may be able to meet up with Dee for another drink. If the day stays dry I might get out into the garden and do some clearance work there. I might just stay in and read a book. I suspect the latter option may be the one I will end up doing.
Friday 20th July 2007
13:12 BST
 Today has only just started ! All morning the sky was a dark grey colour punctuated by occasional falls of drizzle. At midday we had a torrential downpour with some nearby thunder and lightning. In the last twenty minutes the sun has shone for the first time today. There is a still a lot of cloud in the sky, but at least there is some blue visible through the cracks. I am not terribly optimistic, but it is possible that the rest of the day may be reasonable. At the very least it won't be neccesary to turn on the light to see your way across the room as it almost was a couple of hours ago.

 Yesterday the weather was a lot kinder. I assume that much of the morning was reasonably bright. I seemed to spend between about 8am to 11pm asleep ! When I went out to meet Dee there was no direct sunshine, but it was fairly bright outside. By pure coincidence we met by one of the cash machines in Catford, and once I had some cash in my wallet we walked over the road to the London & Rye, the Catford Wetherspoons pub. I was most pleased to see ashtrays on the tables outside the pub, but less pleased to see all the tables in use. Fortunately within minutes of sitting down inside the pub we were able to grab a new vacated table outside. Dee is one of the truly wonderful people who doesn't smoke herself, but strongly disagrees with the smoking ban. So I was able to smoke away to my hearts content while enjoying some good company, and good beer.

 We stayed drinking in there for just about three hours. By which time I considered I had drunk more than enough. When we left the pub we had a quick trip around Tesco. I had drunk a little too much to remember everything I had intended to buy, but not so drunk that I bought stuff I didn't want. After the shopping I invited Dee back home, but she declined and we went our own separate ways.

 It was not long after getting home that my hangover started. It wasn't terrible, but then again it was not pleasant. Once it had subsided I felt hungry and decided to treat myself to some Thai food from a local restaurant who had recently dropped an enticing menu through my door. It was fairly expensive compared to chinese food, so I did not order that much. It was still too much to eat at one sitting though, and I left a substantial portion for breakfast. In fact I ate some more of it when I woke up at 3am this morning. With no work today, I didn't attempt to get back to sleep after waking up, but went downstairs and played on the computer there. It was while I was waiting for a download to finish that I fancied a snack. I was up for at least two hours before going back to bed.

 This morning I was up as usual at 5.30 am to feed the cats, but after an hours, or so, I went back to bed, and did not finally get up, washed, and dressed until gone 10 am. Since then I have done very little. I had my breakfast of cold rice with hot and spicy fish sauce poured on it (the last of the Thai takeaway), and fixed the dripping tap in the kitchen. Other than that I have either spent my time on the computer, or indulged in some reading. There was a vague plan to go over to Dulwich to have a drink with Ivor and Iain at lunchtime, but with a thunderstorm raging nearby, and rain falling like Niagara Falls at the time I would have been leaving here, I decided to be a coward and stay at home as a dry coward instead of a wet hero !

 For the rest of the day I don't know what to do. I have recently had some lunch and so have another snooze soon. After that, one thing I could do is some housework to make the place look a bit tidier if Aleemah visits tomorrow.
Thursday 19th July 2007
06:49 BST
 The day has started just fine. Maybe half the sky is covered by thin clouds, but the rest of the sky is blue. It is quite chilly this morning, but I expect it will soon warm up. Yesterday was remarkably similar to the day before. Even down to the heavy shower sometime between midday and 1 pm. By 2 pm the sun was feeling remarkably hot, although the air temperature remained merely warm. I will be quite happy if today follows the pattern of the last two days.

 The seminar I wrote about yesterday actually happened at 3 pm, and in consequence I did not get away from work until five or ten minutes past four. Knowing that I had no chance of catching my 16:31 train at Waterloo East, I took it easy as I made my way from work to Waterloo. I managed to get the fast train from Clapham Junction, which is something I haven't managed to do since the smoking ban came into force. That made a nice change. At Waterloo I had plenty of time to spare for a fag. In fact I had time for two, but only had the one. It seems some production company had been filming some scenes for the TV series "Spooks" shortly before I arrived at Waterloo. As I smoked my fag I watched them packing their gear away.

 I got my phone call to say we were drinking in The Ram rather late last night. It was sometime after 7.30 pm (when we usually meet), and I was close to start cooking some pasta extravaganza for my dinner. Fortunately I had not started that, nor had I eaten too much to enjoy a few beers. Initially I met Iain and Howard in the pub, but Kevin, with his badly bruised and battered arm, turned up shortly afterwards.  For most of the time we were in the pub there were only 11 customers in there (including ourselves). Out of those 11 I noticed that at least 4 of us were smokers and popped outside for a smoke from time to time. What a way to enjoy an evening ! It may have been as late as 9.30pm when another small crowd of 5 or 6 people came in, but the pub was exceptionally quiet since the smoking ban.

 Today (and tomorrow) I am taking some of my holiday allocation. I fancied a couple of days off despite not having anything specific to do. Since asking for the time off I have managed to plan something for today. I am meeting up with Dee for a couple of drinks this afternoon. We are meeting at 2 pm, and I hope that the midday rain shower will have done it's stuff and leave us with a sunny afternoon. (Of course that is midday at Wandsworth. I have no idea what time it has been raining in Catford for the previous two days).

 Although I am up at my normal time for a work day, I will soon luxuriate in being able to go back to bed again. It is possible that I will sleep for another hour or two, or it is equally possible that I will only be able to doze off for a short snooze. It doesn't really matter. The only thing I plan to do before meeting Dee is to do a bit of shopping (and then try not to eat it until after I have been for my drink). Anything else I may do before, or after, the drink, will be purely spur of the moment.
Wednesday 18th July 2007
08:15 BST
 I have a strong feeling that today will be similar to yesterday. There was no overnight rain, but the day started fairly bright. It has clouded over a bit now, but the cloud will hopefully break up again soon. Yesterday there was only one downpour of rain, and that was sometime between midday and 1pm. I was quite surprised when I went out for a fag and saw that everywhere was wet and glistening. This morning is far more humid than how I recall yesterday morning. Whether that will have any effect on the overall weather today is something I can't even begin to guess at. So I am mainly relying on the fact that in general, today's weather will be the same as yesterday. In which case I neededn't worry about not bringing a coat to work again.

 Nothing much happened last night. I didn't even get arrested (yet !) for publishing the plans for a rocket that advanced terrorists could use to attack the houses of parliament with (scroll down to below yesterday's first entry). Not only did nothing happen last night, but nothing happened in the afternoon. The seminar I was due to attend was postponed until 11am today. This morning I found that it will include power point presentations - ugh !

 Tonight is traditionally drinking night with Kevin and/or Iain (and sometimes even Howard). I'm not sure if any drinking will be going on, but I find myself facing a dilemma. I am taking a day off work tomorrow and could stay late at the pub, but with no smoking in there I do not want to spend that much time in there. I don't quite know how I will resolve that conflict yet.
Tuesday 17th July 2007
08:14 BST
 After overnight rain, the clouds have thinned out, and there have been lots of sunny intervals. The forecast is for some thundery showers around lunchtime, but I am relying on the sun coming out again at 4pm when it is time for me to go home from work. Once again I taken the risk of not bringing a coat to work. I got away with it yesterday, and I hope I can repeat it again today. It certainly made going home a lot more pleasant yesterday.

 As well as overnight rain, the humidity and temperature fell to quite low values. I have no idea what the lowest temperature was, but I woke up in the night feeling very cold. I had been sleeping with no covers on, but even when it was coldest it felt too warm with the duvet on. Eventually I did the usual compromise and left a leg, and both arms, outside the duvet and got back to sleep that way.

 My disturbed sleep seemed to produce some interesting dreams. Unfortunately I can only remember a few brief snatches of three dreams. In one dream I was with my friend Ivor, and we were talking about the state of modern music. At one point, to illustrate a point, Ivor sang a couple of lines of an old classic song. I cannot ever recall Ivor singing before, but if he could sing that well in real life he is in the wrong job. Annoyingly, I cannot remember what it was he sang. One brief snatch of another dream was of me clearing a blockage in my toilet using a cricket bat. It seemed to work quite well !

 The last dream was quite complicated and the details have almost evaporated now. I seem to recall getting quite annoyed because my brother was attempting to shrink the size of my bathroom. For some reason he considered it to be a waste of space. I am not sure how he was attempting to shrink it because he didn't seem to be doing anything to the walls, but just moving furniture around. I think he was making comparisons to the remarkably compact bathroom (maybe shower room would be more exact) that he had in a modern built house he once lived in. For some now unknown reason, my friend Kevin also appeared in this dream. I can't really remember any more than that apart from getting really annoyed as I attempted to wash my hair.

 This afternoon I am attending a seminar given by Dr Paul Jones about one of our new products here at work. It sounds very grand, but it will only be a chat around a table in the meeting room. Or at least that is what I believe it will be. Hopefully it will finish on time, or I will be getting away from work late............although, come to think of it, it may be better if it does over run a bit. If it finishes on time I will probably have to rush like mad to get my early train from Waterloo East station. It is a long wait for the next one, and with no smoking allowed on the platform it will be nightmarish to wait around. On the other hand, if I left work, say, 10 minutes late, I could have a fag outside Clapham Junction station, and have time for a fag, or two, at Waterloo before a casual stroll over to Waterloo East, carefully timed to minimise the waiting for the late train from there. 
Tuesday 17th July 2007
18:35 BST
 I've just read that a man has been arrested on terrorism charges for attempting to bring plans for a rocket into the country. I am still hoping that some bunch of loony terrorists will blow up all those responsible for the smoking ban. So I am going to help them by publishing some plans for a rocket myself :- :
Monday 16th July 2007
08:23 BST
 This morning it is very humid, and I feel bad. A little brightness did peep through the clouds earlier this morning, but it is now very grey outside, and it feels like it is brewing up for a storm.

 Saturday was fairly bright and cheerful, and I think it stayed dry all day. Sunday started OK, but the storm clouds gathered and we had an almighty downpour during the afternoon. It may be just me, but it seemed as if the humidity, that normally feels like it goes down after a good storm, did not stay down for too long. By night time it was feeling very close again, and during the night it felt quite oppressive.

 There is not much to say about either Saturday, or Sunday. On Saturday Aleemah came over and we watched series one of "The Young Ones" which she had bought on DVD. On Sunday I did very little apart from eat and watch some ancient black and white TV recordings.

 The particular black and white TV was some old episodes of "Danger Man". It was fascinating to watch how the series developed over the years. I watched five assorted episodes, some from the first series of 30 minute shows, and some from the later series of 60 minute shows. there are lots of trivia about the Danger Man series in the link I have provided, but I want to comment on the feel of the shows. Despite being made over 40 years ago they are still entertaining. They have a simplicity in style that strips away any crap and just leaves a story to be told. I believe they were made to a very strict budget, despite many apparently overseas locations, but the production is still tight enough that the focus is still on the story. They make many modern TV shows look very cluttered, and maybe this is why modern TV is so unmemorable.

 I don't know if it was something in particular that I ate yesterday, or maybe it was just a combination of a lot of things, but I woke up at 2am believing I was about to throw up. I didn't, but I did have to visit the toilet quite a few times for the 30 minutes I was awake with stomach ache in the middle of the night. A few indigestion tablets may have helped as well, During the whole sorry episode I was sweating most profusely. Eventually I felt stable enough to lie down, and was soon asleep again. It carried on, including the sweats, when I woke up this morning. I felt pretty rotten as I came to work, and I still feel pretty lousy even now. The nausea seems to have gone, but I do ache a bit here and there. Still, I seem to be improving, and hopefully I will be "firing on all cylinders" when I go home tonight. I was too hot and sweaty to wear a coat this morning, so I am keeping my fingers crossed that any thunderstorms we get today are not between 4 and 5pm !     
Friday 13th July 2007
08:30 BST
 The curse of Friday the thirteenth may have already struck ! I was a little slow finishing my fag outside Waterloo station this morning and missed my train by mere seconds. The curse was that the next train was cancelled. Fortunately the train after that, a mere twelve minutes after the train I originally wanted, was running OK, and I was not too late getting to work.

 The weather this morning is very overcast, and it feels quite humid. Apparently it may brighten up later this afternoon. Last night felt very humid. I went home via Tesco's and then struggled to carry four heavy bags of shopping home. I was already feeling quite warm and sticky after getting off the train, but by the time I had got my four heavy bags of shopping home I was dripping. It took some time to cool down again, and even then there was a certain closeness to the air that has persisted through to this morning.

 I didn't do, or achieve, anything of note last night, but I did eat a very traditional English dinner. It was pease pudding and faggots.  Although traditional, the variety I had was hardly the same as my childhood memories. The tinned pease pudding (branded Foresight) is homogenised to the point of just being a thick paste, and has no texture at all. The faggots, as noted in the wikipedia article, bear no resemblance to the traditional recipe. Nevertheless it was a pleasant change. I am tempted to try and seek out some alternative makes of both pease pudding and faggots. As a child there was an excellent butchers shop in the middle of the high street who used to sell ready to eat hot pease pudding and faggots. That was really tasty. The pease pudding had an almost nutty texture, and the faggots were made with real meat and offal (and probably a few dead flies as well). They had, from memory, quite a coarse texture, and were definitely chewy. The "Mr Brains" faggots I ate last night were almost certainly made from "mechanically recovered" meat, and were almost just a very stiff paste.

 Tonight I am torn between some large German (but made in France) Frankfurters, or some pasta based dish. Both have their attractions. If I have the Frankfurters I could easily believe they were saveloys , and I would serve them with more pease pudding - which is also a favoured combination from my childhood (and available from the same butchers mentioned earlier). We used to eat healthily in those days !!!
Thursday 12th July 2007
08:21 BST
 Upon arrival in Wandsworth this morning, I was assaulted by a fine, misty, rain. It was dull and gloomy from the moment I woke up, and there seems little prospect of the weather improving. I woke up, or was helped to wake up by Nelly, at 04:50 this morning. This was rather earlier than I would have liked, especially after getting to bed later than I would have liked, but once awake I find it difficult to get back to sleep knowing I will have to wake up again in thirty minutes. So this morning I am feeling sort of rough.

 I feel rough in all sorts of ways. I am obviously tired from lack of sleep, but as well as that I seem to have developed a bit of a smokers cough since the smoking ban came into force. I try and smoke as many fags as I can, but inevitably there are times when I am forced to miss out on a few vital fags. It seems almost certain that this malicious, and evil, government planned the wet weather we are having to coincide with the smoking ban. They know that some smokers have bad chests, and by forcing us out into the rain to smoke they know that it will help kill off the dissidents without raise to much of a fuss. Fortunately I know (the voices in my head told me) that this present corrupt and uncaring government will soon be overthrown by super genetically enhanced dinosaurs grown in vats in alien spacecraft. So this winter will see the return of indoor smoking, and everybody will be saved. (Written in green ink in the traditional style of conspiracy theorists - allegedly).

 Last night I met Aleemah at Victoria for a quick drink. We found a pub outside the station called The Willow Walk (or something very similar). It did not have a beer garden so we had to go outside to smoke. To my surprise it was Aleemah who went out for a smoke first. She had not had a fag since lunchtime whereas I popped outside for a fag as soon as I got off the train. The pub itself was a Wetherspoons pub, and had quite a range of ales available. I tried three different ales that I was unfamiliar with. The first, whose name I forget, was rather dry tasting, and not very enjoyable. The second was Arundle's Castle ale. It was rather delicious. Sadly, the third ale, "The Battle Of Humber Bridge" ale was almost, but not quite, nasty. Towards the bottom of the glass it seemed to get a little better. So maybe some of the nastiness was just the transition from the rather pleasant beer number two.

 We left the pub in time for me to catch the 18:19 train, and that connected very nicely with a Catford bound train at Peckham Rye station. One of the handy things about the pub we were in was that it is just across the road from a side entrance to the station that leads straight to the ticket barriers for platform two (where my train left from). Dodging the traffic on the road seemed far easier than dodging the crowds while trying to cross half the station concourse from the Wetherspoons pub on the station, or even more crowds when crossing the full width of the station concourse from the other pub we used in the station shopping area. If only I could enjoy a fag with my beer I would say that this new pub was almost like a gift from heaven. As it is, it's not too bad provided that in future visits we can get a table conveniently near the door like last night.  
Wednesday 11th July 2007
06:47 BST
 It is a grey miserable start to the day. It is dry, with no hint of rain, but no hint of sunshine either. It is becoming very obvious that the days are getting shorter too. I woke up at just gone 4am and had to turn on some lights, when I went for a pee, to avoid stepping on Nelly who I could hear, but not see. It is a reminder that the next stop is autumn, and that winter will not be far behind that. Will August herald summer, or did we have summer back in April or May ?

 After waking up so early this morning, I went back to sleep and did not wake again until very shortly before my alarm went off. This did not give me much time to shower, shave, and wash my hair.  By the time I was dressed and ready to go out, it was already too late to catch my train without rushing. So I will get the next train. I don't like having to get the 07:30 train. It is always jam packed, and there is only a small chance of getting a seat after a few people have got off at Lewisham. If I am very lucky there will be sufficient people taking holidays, or using alternative modes of transport (because of the smoking ban), and it may be less crushed than usual, but that is being very optimistic.

 I managed to get home in the dry yesterday. In fact after I wrote those few lines yesterday morning the sun did break through, and much of the day was not too bad. I can't actually recall there being any rain yesterday.

 My one achievement last night was to upgrade the RAM in my old iMac computer. It was definitely struggling on a mere 160MB of ram. I am not sure what the requirements for Apple's OSX 10.3 are, but 160MB must have been right on the limit. It now has a full 256MB of RAM , and is now noticably faster in operation. It's not too bad for a machine running a 233MHz processor. Fitting the new RAM was a bit of a struggle. I was already familiar with how to take the logic unit out from under the monitor section, and that in itself is an awkward job. I then had to dig even deeper to find the second RAM slot which is hidden under the processor board. My next computer task is to do something to the ancient Apple Performa 5200 that is still sitting partially dismantled in my living room. It won't be tonight though, as I am meeting Aleemah for our first post smoking ban drink. Somehow we have to find a new pub in the Victoria area that either has a dedicated smoking area (beer garden, or something similar) or has easy access to the road outside.
Tuesday 10th July 2007
08:16 BST
 I had high hopes that today would turn out nice. There seemed to be clear skies when I woke up, and the sun was already starting to shine. Since then it has got quite cloudy, and some of the clouds are very dark in colour. It looks quite possible that, yet again, it will rain today. I just hope I don't get soaked on my home again.
Monday 9th July 2007
19:29 BST
 Most of today has been good. I woke up to sunshine, and much of the day has been sunny. What was not so good was that there was a thunderstorm shortly before I was due to leave work for home. The worst of it had passed over by the time I left, but it was still raining heavily as I walked to the bus stop. I got saturated waiting in the rain for a bus. My bus was late coming, but the driver did his best to get to Clapham Junction in the shortest time possible. This meant travelling at speed through some of the roadside puddles sending plumes of water onto the pavement. I was not in a position to see the aftermath of this, but I am sure a few people got soaked.

 By the time I got to Clapham Junction it was too late to get a very early train, and so I did not have enough time to grab a smoke outside Waterloo station, before getting my early train from Waterloo East. It was a relief to get off the train at Catford and light up a fag. It was the first one I had smoked since leaving work an hour previously. Prior to the smoking ban I may well have had a fag at Clapham Junction, and at Waterloo East.

 Sunday was a fairly warm and dry day, but apart from a visit to Tesco, I did not take advantage of it. While in Tesco I treated myself to a USB adapter. I haven't checked the price for a comparable unit elsewhere, but I suspect the Tesco price of nearly £15 was excessive. However it was easy to set up, and it makes transferring the odd photo from my mobile phone to a PC a simple affair. Playing with that used up some time yesterday, but a lot of the day I just spent reading. It was late in the afternoon, virtually early evening, when I finally decided to have a look at my old Mac Performa 5200 (that I mentioned on Saturday). When I first switched it on it was rather dead, but replacing the motherboard back up battery brought it back to life. It still has the fault on the built in monitor where the picture is about two thirds the correct size. So I set about opening it up to see if I could identify the part that I believe to be faulty. I think I found it, but stripping it down to the point where I could try a replacement was too tricky when I felt tired and hot. So I had a play with the software on it. I couldn't remember what worked, and what didn't work on it, but I found that the web browser worked OK, and I was surprised that I could mount a network drive on it. That allowed me to attempt to install a piece of software that is supposed to give full connectivity to a Windows based network. Unfortunately the installer seemed to be corrupted in some way, and refused to install. Now I have discovered how to mount a network drive by alternative means it is less useful that I have it installed.

 Playing with that Mac kept me up later than was really a good idea. So this morning I felt like I was lacking in sleep when I went to work. In act I feel rather tired now and tonight I will make an extra effort to get to bed earlier than usual.

 I was in work about ten minute late after diverting to the petrol station near the railway station where I used both the cash machine and their toilet. It was not being late that stopped me writing this morning, but the Bluetooth dongle. I thought it would be most useful to be able to transfer pictures from my mobile phone to the computer at work. There have been a few, admittedly rare, occasions when I have taken a picture on the way to work and wanted to include it on these pages. So I wnt through the installation procedure and then had a fight getting it to work. At first I thought it was because I have set myself to be a normal user on my work Windows XP machine, and I lacked permissions to use the device. It was a little later I realised that in fact I had been insering the dongle before starting the control program. Starting the program first cured my problems.

 A little later, just out of curiosity, I tried plugging the dongle into a Linux machine at work. It was running Open Suse 10.2 (the same as I run here on the machine downstairs) and I was rather delighted when it just recognised it and was ready to connect to my phone with no fuss at all.   With just a few clicks I transferred a couple of pictures from my phone to the PC. It was actually far better than the Windows way of doing things. I have often found that USB things on a Linux box are sometimes very haphazard, but the Bluetooth dongle was absolutely perfect !
Saturday 7th July 2007
08:24 BST
More Policemen outside Waterloo It is almost unbelievable, but this morning there is hardly a cloud in the sky. It looks as if it could be a bright and shiny day. It is still fairly cool outside, but if the sky stays clear it could get quite warm later on. I ought to take advantage of it if it does warm up, but how ? I don't really fancy going out by myself, but if I go out shopping a bit later, and notice an empty table out front of the Catford Wetherspoons, maybe I could grab a beer and do a bit of reading. That could be quite tempting, assuming that smoking is permitted on those outside tables, because it would be another minor victory against the smoking ban.

 Yesterday there were more policemen guarding the entrance to Waterloo to keep out rampaging smokers.  They are pictured on the left just hanging around looking rather bored and choking on the stench from the coffee shop just inside the entrance.

The smoking Arena It is high time something was done about the stench of coffee coming from that shop, and all the coffee drinkers outside it. I find it most offensive to have to pass through that stench as I go for my morning, or evening, fag.

 I remembered to take a picture of the smoking arena yesterday. There were not many people smoking there when I took the picture, but I have seen as many as twenty people there on some occasions. Of course people only stay there while they smoke so it gives no indication of the amount of people who want to smoke at the station. I have no idea what the poster from the God botherers is all about. The first time I noticed it was when I looked at the picture I had taken. I think I'll take it as God approving of smoking.

 I cooked an experimental dinner last night. I was using up some left over stuff and cooked spaghetti and pasta shells with Spanish chorizo sausage. The idea of using both spaghetti and pasta shells was a bit novel, but seemed to work, and has used up two nearly finished packets that were lurking in my cupboard. I also added some sweetcorn, sieved tomato, and hot pepper sauce. It made for a rather large dinner, and rather tasty dinner. I didn't manage to finish it all, and consigned the rest of it to the dustbin.

 I don't know if it was all that pasta, but I had an extremely erotic dream last night. Nothing actually happened, but it was full of erotic promises. It was far too complicated to remember, let alone describe, but it only featured two other characters besides myself. The first, and the object of my desires was by name, my cousin, but by appearance some unknown, but incredibly attractive woman. The second character, once again more by name than appearance, was my younger sister whose presence got in the way of any actual erotic deeds. I just hope that dream can resume tonight from where it left off this morning when it seemed that I was going to get a chance to be alone with the stunning beauty who was the object of my desires.

 I have already suggested I may try and grab a beer while I am out shopping, but for the rest of the day I have only one advance idea of how I might spend some of the day. I think I might, if I can untangle it from a pile of junk, repair my old Mac computer. It is a really crappy computer. Allegedly one of the worst that Apple ever made. Like the later iMac's it is an all-in-one design with the monitor sitting above the logic unit in the same case. It is the monitor that has developed the fault, and I think it is a simple fault. The big problem is actually dismantling it to get at the circuit board inside. That will be a nightmare, and it is one reason why I have put off doing it for maybe the best part of a year or more. Should I ever manage to repair it I have found some software for it that should give it fully connectivity to my Windows/Linux network. For information, the computer is a Performa 5200 that runs Mac operating system 8.6.
Friday 6th July 2007
07:11 BST
 The 06:56 train from Catford Bridge to Charing Cross has been cancelled this morning (not that I found out before getting to the station) and so I have a few minutes to describe this morning weather before I go back out to try and get on the 07:30 train.

 It is very overcast this morning, but surprisingly humid. Despite it not being actually hot, I feel quite warm and almost uncomfortable. I seem to recall seeing that today's temperature will reach, or exceed, 22° C, but there will still be many opportunities for it to rain.

 That's all I have time to write now, but I'll carry on writing when I get to work.

(Continued - 08:57)

 After a pretty horrible journey, I am now at work. Not only was the 06:56 train cancelled, but the 07:43 train was cancelled as well. This meant that those who I would often see on the platform when the 07:30 departs, waiting for the 07:43 (which is a Cannon Street bound train), also bundled on the 07:30 as well. This made for a very,very, very, packed train. It was a massive relief to get off at Waterloo East and join my friends in the smoking arena outside the centre entrance of Waterloo main line station.

 A thought occurred to me this morning. Out of all the people I know, the very few who have some form of allergy, or asthma, all had non-smoking parents. This reinforces my theory that smoke is good for you. It is pretty obvious when you come to think about it. Had  man not discovered fire and smoke we would all still be living in trees. Now I am sure that many people think living in trees would be a good idea until you take away their iPods and cellphones. Even radical vegetarians and militant tree huggers need mobile phones to co-ordinate their save the planet demonstrations. Now, as for asthma and allergies, it is best to think that the human body is like a car. You can buy an off the shelf car and it will take you to and from the shops with little trouble. The human body works OK by itself, and comes with some standard protection features, but like a car will only go properly when you add a stereo and go faster stripes, the human body needs smoke to protect it from the onslought of things like pollens, tofu and soya beans.
Thursday 5th July 2007
08:12 BST 
 Like yesterday, it was fairly bright earlier this morning, although maybe not as sunny. Since then there have been a few sunny spells, but the sky remains cloudy. I think the best we can hope for is for today to be as good as yesterday when there were many sunny periods, but not enough to generate any real heat. It has been mild recently, but for the most part it has not been hot enough for wearing a jacket, needed for the rain, to be uncomfortable.

 I am beginning to find parts of this smoking ban amusing. It has cheered me up a lot. I will never, ever approve of it though, and still consider it to be cruel and unusual punishment. I liken it to having a tooth removed. With time you gradually learn to eat normally despite the gap in your teeth, but I doubt anyone who has such a gap could honestly say it would not be better to have that tooth still in place.

 Last night was amusing in a very ironic sort of way. I went to the pub to meet Kevin and Iain. Howard was supposed to be there, but never materialised before I left for home. The pub was practically empty. My guess this morning is that there were no more than a dozen people in there (including myself). So much for all the demented shouters who couldn't possibly go to a pub while it was smoky, but now don't seem to want to go anyway. Despite all my fears it was no so bad going to a no smoking pub. I was only there for 45 minutes, and nipping outside for a fag three times was no bother at all :-) To help the process I decided to forego beer for a couple of double scotch-on-the-rocks. That pub is going to go bust soon, and another icon of the English way of life will die unmourned except by the few.

 I think I am beginning to enjoy one small part of the smoking ban. I could not help but smiling as I joined the smokers ghetto outside the centre entrance to Waterloo mainline station. It is a shame that more conversations are not struck up there. If we were not quite so insular it could conjure up the same sort of spirit that became so famous during the blitz on London during the Second World War. A group of ordinary people standing up to the nazis who would try and take away our freedoms. Standing proud and determined to not let the oppressors get their own way. We will fight then in the streets and in our homes. We will never surrender. Though it may come as a great cost to our personal liberties we will ultimately prevail, or die trying.

 Now you may say I am becoming obsessive about his smoking ban, and you would be wrong. I am becoming obsessive about being obsessive about the smoking ban. Some would say let it rest, but I want to mention a precedent for obsessive behaviour.  We are fast approaching the 40th anniversary of one of the first bits of 20th century legislation that seriously went against the people's will, and by analogy took away some of our freedoms. That legislation was the 1967 "Marine Etc. Broadcasting Offences act. This outlawed the offshore pirate radio stations that had brought such joy to the population of Britain. They were closed down simply because the government of the day were terrified of anything they had no control over. The official reasons of radio interference, copyright breaches, and similar stuff was 99.9% a pure smokescreen. To this day many are still obsessed with the closing of those offshore radio stations, and are determined to keep the memory alive. There is more to being an anarchist than throwing petrol bombs. The fight is in the mind. It is one place that totalitarian governments can't easily get to. Keep on thinking free !   
Wednesday 4th July 2007
06:51 BST 
 I woke up to sunshine with a lot of blue in the sky, but like the few previous days, the sky is gradually becoming greyer and greyer. More rain is probably on it's way. Last night, soon after I got home from work, the skies opened up and the rain fell in buckets.During the very heaviest downpour the rain turned to hail for a minute or so. There was some thunder and lightning too, but I don't think that came within a mile or two of me.  

 It seems that the stress of the last couple of days has triggered off my irritable bowel syndrome again. Either that or it is just some of the crap I have eaten these last couple of nights. It doesn't feel too bad at the moment, but I was feeling very uncomfortable at the time I should have gone to get my train. I hope I'll be OK for the next train in just under 30 minutes time.

 One thing I have noticed this week is that the trains seem to be less heavily packed than usual. At Waterloo East station there also seems to be a phenomena where the platforms seem quiet until a few moments before the train arrives. The lack of the usual crush on the trains might be explained by smokers seeking different ways to travel, or maybe, and perhaps more likely, it's just people away for summer holidays. The quietness on the platforms is possibly because commuters are choosing to stay outside the station smoking until the last minute. One thing is for sure. People are not staying away because of a couple of botched terror attacks that owed more to Hollywood special effects than any real threat of an explosion.

 My plans for SMASH (see yesterday) have been altered. It seems people are even unhappy about blowing up trees and shrubs. So I am devoting my resources to "transporter" technology and aim to teleport certain institutions into the heart of the sun. I seem to be having problems getting the electricity companies to lay on the 42 Terrawatt  supplies I need for my early experiments.

 I must thank Tom from Texas for his letter of support/sympathy.
"I've been reading your blog off and on for some time now, and I just wanted to thank you. It's been interesting to read about the life of someone in Britain whose circumstances are somewhat similar to mine. (I'm 52 and live by myself) Reading you latest posts, you seem to be having a great deal of trouble with the smoking ban. As a pipe smoker myself, I have considerable simpathy for you. Have you tried chewing tobacco? It takes some getting used to - don't swallow your spit! - and it has some other drawbacks, but my father-in-law many years ago completely quit smoking and used this as a substitute. He worked in a chemical plant that made a precursor to synthetic rubber and could not smoke there.

Good Luck! "

 Many thanks Tom, and enjoy your July 4th celebrations.
Wednesday 4th July 2007
18:08 BST
Five coppers guard Waterloo from smokers I'm back home again, stuffed full of dinner, and enjoying my second large glass of Scotch whisky.

 Pictured on the left are five British Transport policemen, and/or community support workers guarding one of the entrances to Waterloo main line station against smokers. (One is hidden behind the passer by, but you can make out the coppers big feet behind him). On the one hand this does seem to be overkill, but on the other hand nicotine withdrawal symptoms can make people pretty aggressive.

 Tonight I should be in the pub drinking with Kevin, Iain, and Howard who is making a rare visit to the pub. I have said I will pop in, but I am none too enthusiastic about it. For a start my dinner has left little room for beer. More importantly I know I will not enjoy it. I could nip out for fags every so often, but the atmosphere will be killed stone dead. I have no idea what will actually happen when I get there, but I am imagining that I will go in, say hi, down a small scotch, and then walk out again. I am not going to be very popular doing this, but being a smoker means coming to terms with being the scum of the universe. For the more radical anti-smokers I am down at the level reserved for smelly tramps and terrorists.
Tuesday 3rd July 2007
08:12 BST 
 Well, here we are again. Battling to survive in an increasingly hostile world. The day started bright again, but it is clouding over very rapidly. heavy rain is forecast for this afternoon. It really matches my black mood.

 My journey into work was mostly uneventful, but a very small positive point about the smoking ban has revealed itself. At Waterloo I had my smoke outside the station, as will be the norm until I am sacked from work, and it was the first time that I have had a good look at the main entrance of Waterloo Station, and the memorials to those railway employees who fell in the war defending the freedoms and liberties of the English way of life. How those heroes must be spinning in their graves now they know it was all in vain, and that the smoking gestapo now rule the country with a rod of iron.

 I think I am going to start a terrorist organisation. I know they are not very popular now, but the timing of the smoking ban was not my choice. I am going to call it SMASH ( Society for Militant and Annoyed Smoking Heroes). People get terribly upset when they get blown up so I propose we blow up trees, and maybe the odd shrub. Daffodils can look pretty smug sometimes, too.
Monday 2nd July 2007
06:49 BST
 An hour ago it was bright and sunny, but now the clouds are gathering for another grey day with the potential for thunderstorms. It seems wrong that I should have to wear my coat to work in July. Fortunately the tennis championships at Wimbledon should soon be over, and the Gods will smile again.  I don't actually know when the tennis at Wimbledon actually finishes, but it can't be long now.

 Right now I should be on the platform at Catford Bridge station about to get my train to work. Instead I am still at home. I would imagine that it is the depression brought about by the smoking ban that is causing me to operate in slow motion. I was awake in plenty of time to get ready to go to work, but the minutes seem to be slipping by unnoticed. Yesterday must have been the same. The day passed quickly and easily, and yet I have nothing to show for all that time, and it was just wasted. Maybe I am now a candidate for the "funny farm" (where at least smoking is still permitted, or so I am lead to believe).

 I had been hoping that there would be a lot of stories in the press, and on the TV news, about the results of the smoking ban. Sadly any interesting news has been overshadowed by news about terrorism. I suppose it is interesting when something blows up, but the news sources do labour the point a bit much. It is as if they are doing the terrorists work for them. These silly people, the terrorists, who have so little faith in their own God that they feel him to be so impotent that they have to do his work for him. So why praise a lazy sod who can't lift a finger to do anything for himself. So the news media, aided and abetted, or maybe even lead by the government, stirs up a big hysteria about it all when in fact terrorism impacts on such a tiny minority of the countries population as to be statisticly insignificant. The smoking ban, on the other hand, directly impacts on the mental health, and general wellbeing, of a very large proportion of the population, and more time should be spent by the Media on analysing the problems this is now causing.

 If the world was just and fair then deaths, and accidents, related to the smoking ban should be tabulated in the same negative way that they are for alcohol. If you nick yourself shaving after drinking it is recorded as an alcohol related injury, but I am sure that if you jump under a train as a result of the smoking ban it will simply be recorded as depression with no mention of the stress brought about by a shortage of vital nicotine in the body. It is truly an unfair world, or maybe that should be an unfair country. Maybe we have gone beyond the nightmare that is 1984. In that dystopian vision you could still recover with a subsidised glass of Victory gin, and a Victory cigarette, in a state run pub after visiting room 101. Now the whole country is room 101 where our worst fears are now a reality. It's about time these bloody fags killed me as they are advertised to do.
Monday 2nd July 2007
18:49 BST
 It's been a hell of a day. It started with the journey into work. Although I smoked as many fags as I wanted, there was a feeling of oppression in the air. Some timid people were worried about terrorism, while I was worried about being stuck on a platform waiting for a late train and not being able to smoke. Terrorism is just a flash in the pan, possibly hyped up by the state to deflect coverage of the smoking ban, while the smoking ban will affect our lives today, tomorrow and forever.

 When I got to work I felt extremely depressed. I really just wanted to curl up into a ball and sleep until it was time to endure the nightmare journey home. To add to my depression it seems that the owners of the site seem hell bent on banning smoking even in the car park where lorries and cars, belching noxious and dangerous fumes and smoke are allowed to operate. I can see a showdown coming, and I know I will be the loser and soon be back on the dole again.

 My journey home from work felt like a nightmare. I went through Clapham Junction station scowling and looking round like a hunted animal despite not actually smoking. Normally I would avoid confrontation, but at that time I could easily have turned on anyone who irritated me. It was such a relief to get off at Catford Bridge station and have a fag. As soon as I was indoors, even before feeding the cats, I poured the last of my whisky into a glass and downed the lot. I followed that up a bit later with a large glass of Jim Beam bourbon. I would be very surprised if I didn't buy another litre of scotch from Tesco's on my way home tomorrow night.

 It seems a grand irony that the smoking ban, that is supposed to promote health, is having a very opposite effect on my health. I am steadily smoking more and more fags, and starting down the road to alcoholism. So my physical health will soon start to decline rapidly, and my mental health is such that I would probably be declared approaching psychotic. Another irony is that mental health has long been an excuse of totalitarian governments for removing dissidents, and here I am playing right into their hands. Perhaps in my case their "concern" will be closer to genuine rather than trumped up.

 Tomorrow I really don't want to go to work, but I have to. I cannot afford to do anything that may impact on my wages. With unemployment looming I have to maximise my income and reduce expenditure to the minimum. It sounds stupid then that I would willingly waste money on even more fags and more booze, but these are the crutches that help mentally sidestep the misery of life in nanny state England.  
Sunday 1st July 2007
13:22 BST
 The weather today is far better than yesterday when it either rained or just drizzled the whole day. So far today there have been many sunny spells, although there have been a few splashes of rain from time to time. It does seem to be getting a lot cloudier now, and maybe some more persistent rain is on it's way. It is also quite windy, and that would mean that it could be really unpleasant out if it does rain. Fortunately I have been out all I need to ( a shopping trip to Tesco), and will be staying in for the rest of the day.

 Yesterday was not as exciting as it was supposed to be. I had planned a trip out to visit The Spa Valley Railway. As it turned out there were two very good reasons why I didn't. The first, and most obvious was the awful weather. The second was not obvious to me at all until I checked the railways web site. It seems that yesterday was "childrens day" on the railway, and the thought of mingling with thousands of screaming kids was less appealing to me than a day trip through time to visit Ypres in 1915 !  So I stayed with some company and we watched a couple of films, and I demonstrated my skill as a chef by cooking spinach pasta with tuna steak I was delighted to receive a good deal of praise for my efforts.

 I was reading some pages of the BBC's teletext service this morning, and came across a quote from our new Prime Minister, Gordon Brown, about terrorism and stuff. I cannot remember the exact reported words, but it was something to the effect that he was not going to let terrorists, and others, interfere with the British way of life, and Britains heritage. I was left wondering just what his idea of the British way of life is. Quite apart from the increasing hordes of immigrants from war torn countries who seem to think the answer to any minor disagreement is to answer with knives or bullets because that is all they know, there is the increasing militarisation of the police, and  ever restrictive curbs on our long cherished freedoms. Today another freedom has been taken from us, and another chunk of the heart of the traditional British way of life ripped from the sad remains of this once proud country. For the alleged sake of a microscopically small amount of people, whose lives might be shortened by a few months, or days (mostly trumpet players in smoky jazz clubs), a tradition stretching back hundreds of years has been trampled on by the jack boots of a vicious minority. From 06:00 BST today it is no longer permissible to enjoy the company of friends with a cigarette and a drink in any place else except a private house. Apparently this may save a few lives, but at what cost ? Whatever the cost actually is, and I doubt it can ever be calculated, it will be truly massive, probably more massive that the cost of another war in a distant land that no one gives a damn about. Some people will choose to give up smoking. With the tax paid on cigarettes these days it could easily bankrupt the treasury if too many people make this choice. Then there is the cost in combating mental health problems.  It will drive some to suicide, and probably trigger violent episodes in others. In less severe cases it will stretch the already inadequate mental healthcare services to beyond breaking point as they dole out anti-depressants and nicotine replacement therapies out by the bucket load.

 I am already severely depressed about the smoking ban. Were it not necessary to go to work, to earn the cash to buy fags, I feel as if I could easily become agoraphobic. If I could drive, or better still, fly a plane, I would be tempted to become a suicide bomber taking out some anti smoking commissars as I explode 24 cylinders of propane strapped to my gut. Unfortunately I can't drive, and I can't fly a plane, and it seem very unlikely that I could pedal a push bike at 100mph through the gates of The Houses of Parliament. It would also seem unlikely those kind policemen in Blakes Seven federation style military fatigues on the gates at the Houses Of Parliament would open the gates for me to cycle in on my suicide bike.

 Ideally I want an advance alien spaceship called The Liberator, and six other freedom loving companions to take on the evil overlords of The National health service and strike a blow in support of our hero, Sir Walter Raleigh. Back in reality I think I might pop out to the shops while they are still open, and pick up a copy of do-it-yourself Voodoo, and start making wax models of leading anti smoking bastards. 

Original template made with Seamonkey 1.0.6 30th December 2006