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December 2011
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My Diary/Blog For the Month of December 2011

Saturday 31st December 2011
10:03 GMT

  There was less rain last night than the forecasts suggested there would be - either that or I was just lucky. I don't know what the temperature was but it seemed milder than I was expecting. This morning it is once again all horrible and grey. There appears to be some light drizzle, and the current temperature is 12.4 C. That's not bad, and probably better than we should expect for this time of year, but it is probably about as high as it is going to get today.

 After being in all day I usually find it a struggle to motivate myself to go out in the evening - particularly into the cold, dark and wet. It didn't seem to happen last night, and going out was easy. I may have been lucky in that when I walked to the station there was no rain. I wasn't so lucky at the other end of my train ride. At West Wickham it was raining, and as I plodded up the short hill to The Swan pub I got quite damp. Some of that damp was sweat. All these days of inactivity, and eating far too much, have left me in such a bad shape that it was hard going walking up that short hill.

 Soon after arriving at the pub I had more opportunities to get even wetter as I helped Chain to bring in some of their gear from the pub car park. It may have been because it was relatively mild that the rain didn't feel too heavy, and yet seeing it backlit as it passed some of the car park lighting made it look really torrential ! It did take me quite some time before the added rain, and added sweat dried off.

 I've never been to The Swan before having missed Chain's first gig there. It has it's good points and it's bad points. As I add them up it feels like the bad points outweigh the good, but overall I actually liked the place in a strange way. It is a big pub, but the "stage" area is very small and cramped.
cramped stage area at The Swan, West Wickham
 The only way this cramped stage area affected me was that it made photography a bit hard because all too frequently Jo was standing in front of Chris. What was more worrying was that it is a very football orientated pub with a particular bias towards Crystal Palace Football Club.
Playing under a Crystal Palace FC poster
 I have no particular dislike for Crystal Palace football club - I treat everything to do with football with equal contempt ! There were obviously many football supporters in the pub last night and they all seemed very strange individuals. I overheard one telling his mates, and I think his girlfriend, that if so and so scored a goal today he was going to run onto the pitch and give the player a great big wet kiss. It makes me think that many football fans are actually gay, and it is the struggle with their sexuality that makes some of them so violent.  It's probably because they are all gay that many try and engage you in football related talk while your trying to quietly have a pee in the gents toilet.

 Despite these setbacks it was a good gig with all the usual favourites played.
the set list for the gig
 What was annoying was the timing. I had the choice of mucking about changing buses in the cold and rain to get home at the end of the gig, or to leave early and get the train home. I chose the train, and I had to leave just as Chain started to play one of my favourites - Paranoid. Even more annoying was the realisation that I could have left 5 minutes later and heard Paranoid.

 Getting home was actually too easy by train. It may have been slow going up the hill in the rain, but I just flew down the hill to the station in the dry. I arrived a whole 8 minutes early for the last train. It was only when the winter timetable was introduced on the 11th of the month that the last train became half an hour later at 23:17. I suspect that not many people know about it yet because there were only about half a dozen of us on the 10 coach train when it arrived at Catford Bridge. Three of us got off, but maybe a dozen boarded there.

 I am unsure when it actually happened, but The Copperfield pub, next to Catford Bridge station, recently lost it's licence because it was full of scum bags. With the pub closed it seemed remarkably civilised around the station, and that part of Catford Hill. While it was open all sorts of unsavoury characters would be hanging around. I took advantage of the quietness to buy some chicken and chips on the way home.

 As I munched my way through the chicken and chips I found that BBC 4 were showing the movie "Lemmy". As many of the reviews said, it is a fascinating movie even for those who don't particularly like rock music. I've seen the whole movie once before, but I still stayed up a lot longer than I had intended to watch more of it. I didn't make it to the end before I decided I had to go to bed, but I didn't miss much. I think it was 1am when I finally got into bed.

 Today should be the day when I start the process of tackling my blown up washing machine - except that it is so dull and miserable outside that it is going to take a lot of will power to get very far, or even start.  I'll do some other stuff first, and hopefully I'll suddenly get the urge to take the first steps towards the rehabilitation of my laundry facilities. Meanwhile, here's the other Chain video retrieved from the lost and refound MiniDV camcorder tape.
Friday 30th December 2011
17:22 GMT

  The sunshine that was forecast for yesterday did happen - briefly, and only a light shower that wasn't forecast. Then most of the day was grey until nightfell - and so did the rain. I can't remember exactly when it was, probably around 8pm, it absolutely bucketed down ! Apart from the brief glimpse of sunshine during the morning, today has been very similar. It is raining now, and it will probably rain for much of the night.

 I had a disaster of epic proportions yesterday. It left me feeling mighty pissed off. It's hard to convey just how much of a disaster has happened just by saying that my washing machine blew up during the morning. When I say blew up I am not exagerating that much. There were several loud pops with sparks flying out from beneath the machine. So far this only sounds like a minor disaster, but it is the collateral damage that elevates this disaster up among "the aliens have come", "there's a super volcano under your front room", "it's just an H bomb", "oops, the sun just exploded", and "are you sure it's safe............".

 The problem in a nutshell is that over the last 25 years the worktop that supports the sink has rotted, and is now being partially supported by the washing machine. When, and if I can extract the waching machine there is no guarantee that the worktop will be able to support itself. So I face the gargantuan task of clearing all the stuff from the sink, draining board and worktop. There is not a lot of room to put that stuff elsewhere, though some might be thrown away.

 Once I have managed to clear the worktop of all excess weight it might still be prudent to try and build some props, and that brings another terror. Underneath the worktop is a pretty unpleasant place where all sorts of things from all realms of the animal and vegetable kingdon possibly dwell. Quite possibly many of those things have more than 4 legs, and while that is no problem while they're minding their own business, it could be a problem if I have to disturb them. It might even be prudent to bring along a zoologist and a lion tamer for the first time I open the under the sink cupboard in 20 years. There could be undiscovered species lurking in there.

 While panicking about actually moving the washing machine there are some more imeadiate heart attack inducing proceedures that have to be done. The main one being draining the machine. At the moment it is full of soapy water ! I have a theory that the electrical fault in it is something to do with the water heater. If this is so I ought to be able to power it up again on the drain setting without more explosions.

 If I can do that then I think there is some sort of hope of repairing the thing. It is not beyond the bounds of possibility that when I manage to turn the machine upside down I may find a carbonised mouse welded across the terminals of the heater. Alternatively it could be as simple as some chafed wires. Fortunately I have the knowledge to repair many types of electrical fault (it is an extension of my everyday job after all). What I don't have the knowledge about is how to get at the faulty bits. It may be lack of access to where the problem lies that forces me to buy a new machine because I don't intend to attempt to strip down the machine to it's component parts !

 To distract me from the state of shock I was in I set about trying to be creative yesterday, and handily for me one of the unmarked MiniDV tapes that I was going to check had some interesting material on it. It was the first gig that Chain performed under the name Chain (having previously been called The Bluesicians). It was on 15th October 2010 in The Catford Ram. Steve Cox explains it all.

 By the end of the evening, an unusually late evening for me, I had uploaded three videos to You Tube.  There was another Chain video from the same tape, and also a railway video featuring trains on the farewell weekend of the class 302 slam door trains on what was The London, Tilbury & Southend Railway.

 Today I seem to have done very little. It's hard to think where all the time has gone. Maybe I've been saving myself up for later tonight when Chain are playing a gig at The Swan pub in West Wickham. It seems ages since I last saw Chain play (I think it was the 9th) and I am looking forward to it. I'm not sure if I'll get to see the whole gig tonight. At some point I'll have to choose to come home the easy way or the hard way. The easy way is to get the 23:17 train from West Wickham back to Catford Bridge. The hard, but later way is to muck about with buses. To do so would mean getting two buses, and increasing the travel time from something like 25 to as much as an hour (or more if I am unlucky with the bus timings).
Thursday 29th December 2011
07:56 GMT

  There were occasional glimpses of sunshine yesterday, but overall it was an overcast day with the temperature gradually dropping. The temperature drop last night was quite subtle, but this morning it is down to 6 C, and it was definitely time to close the bathroom window again. The sun rose only a short while ago, but there is no sign of it in the mass of grey cloud. Sometime in the next couple of hours it may shine for a bit, but after that rain is forecast on and off for the rest of the day.

  It was a bit of a relief not to have to rush around clearing stuff up before Aleemah visited yesterday. She brought with her a DVD of the recently released movie "Horrible Bosses". It was one of those movies that has it's moments, but is otherwise tedious, and not to my taste. Aleemah seemed to like it though. After she had gone home I started eating dinner, supper and assorted snacks. I fear I ate rather more than I should have yesterday, or maybe I compressed all my days eating into half a day. Whatever, I did feel slightly uncomfortable during the evening.

 One thing that movie did was to inspire a rather disturbing, but also inventive dream. One of the characters in the movie was described as a dental technician. Here in the UK (it was an American movie) he would be more accurately described as a dental nurse, but it was the technician bit that featured in my dream. I don't know if I was out of work in the dream, but I seemed to be going to two job interviews for a technician in a dentists. I remember not having a clue about what I was expected to do beyond some hope that it had something to do with maintenance of the various equipment that dentists use.

 That dream seemed to fade out before I was actually interviewed, but the dental theme continued in another dream. It was one of those dreams where there is no interaction with anybody in particular. In many ways it was like a day dream where you just consider some possibilities or ideas. This particular idea was that the dentists surgery was several floors up in a building, and that the lift taking patients up to the dentist had two entrances, front and back, like those at certain tube stations. One entrance was from a very plush waiting area. That was for the private patients. The other entrance was from a rather stark unfinished area, perhaps reminiscient of a council tower block, and that entrance was for NHS patients. Once inside the lift, and then from then on, everything was common to both private and NHS patients.

 It's going to be both good and bad going back to work again after this holiday is over. Last night I was in bed fairly early, and asleep a bit later than would be ideal if today was a work day. I woke up a little in advance of my alarm going off at 5am, or more accurately, I was forcibly woken up early by the sound of claws down my bedroom door by a hungry cat ! Having fed the hungry cat I went back to bed again, and slept for a couple of hours.

 So far so good, but today I can't think of a thing I want to do, and being back at work would keep me occupied for the day. There are things I could do today, but it is the "want to" that is the sticking point. I could go out and start the gentle process of working off some of the recent excesses with a gentle walk somewhere, but I really don't want to do that by myself under a grey and miserable sky (with the probability of some rain later). I could attempt to start doing something technical. That would be very satisfying should I actually start and achieve anything. I can't think what that would be though.

 There is one thing I am going to attempt today, and it is a most tedious thing that I have been putting off for ages. I have half a dozen unmarked MiniDV tapes that I ought to check to see what's on them, and maybe see if I can do anything with the video that might be creative. I have a strong suspicion that most of the contents will be rubbish, but I may be wrong. In fact I hope I am, but it hurts to stretch my imagination far enough to concieve of a single idea of what I may find on those tapes.
Tuesday 27th December 2011
16:51 GMT

  The weather today has been very similar to yesterday. Ignoring the bit of sunshine yesterday morning, both days have been unusually mild, and both days have been disappointingly grey. Even now the temperature is 11.2 C outside, and it's been within a degree of that all day, and probably through the night. Tomorrow is forecast to be a bit brighter, but it will also mark the point when the temperature starts to fall.

 For several hours this morning I thought Aleemah was coming to visit, but I got my dates wrong. It is tomorrow that she pops by with a DVD to watch together. I didn't actually realise I had my dates wrong until I sent her a text wondering what time she would arrive. By that time I had done lots of rushing around - some of which was done with the hoover ! Various bits of the house now look relatively clean, and in a way it was a pity that I had no visitor to show them off to.

 Once I realised that Aleemah was not coming today I went out for the first time in three days. I only went as far as Tesco. There was nothing I desperately needed, but I was curious to see if there were any reduced price bargains to be had. There were a couple of bits and pieces on the usual reduced price shelves, but there were no bargains to be had anywhere else in the store. I'll try again for those in the new year when I hope I am more lucky.

 For most of the afternoon I have been quite lazy apart from a bit of maintenance to my server and firewall. For the former I backed up gigabytes of important files, and for the latter I freed up some space on the hard disk by purging ancient log files. If I were to do anything significantly more technical it should be to replace my firewall. It is almost unbelievable that it is still running. It has been running non-stop for the last 311 days, and if you don't count a few odd times when the power has failed to it, in use since at least September 2006 when the kernel was last updated. I don't think there are any log files that predate that, but I think I first installed several years before that.

 It's longevity is really rather amazing. It was already almost a museum piece when I first ever used it. Now it just sits there with it's 90MHz Pentium 1 heart beating away under so much dust that the box is barely visible, and yet still it soldiers on. I fear that if it is ever stopped again the hard disk must have accumulated so many errors that it will never start up again. I do have a spare box already built up that I meant to install some years back. It is a far more modern (!) machine using a 233MHz Pentium II processor. As I recall, I had some difficulty when I tried it on the network, and I just left it on the side and ignored it. Maybe over this holiday period I'll download some new software for it, and finally install it, or maybe I won't. In a peculiar way it feels sort of cruel to toss out a still living machine like my current firewall.
Monday 26th December 2011
13:36 GMT

  Yesterday remained dull and grey all day, but it was rather mild. Today started with the temperature around 12 C, and this afternoon it is a rather surprising 14 C. There was even some sunshine this morning, but it is now overcast. There is apparently the chance of some drizzle, but it remains dry for now.

  It was rather odd yesterday. I did very little except eat too much, and yet the time seemed to fly by. I was expecting to be terribly bored, but somehow I wasn't. Maybe it wasn't just my imagination that I needed a good rest to recover from this that and the other. I thought part of that rest would involve a lot of sleeping, but that was one of the other things I didn't do as well. One thing I did do, though I missed the first 10 - 15 minutes of it, was to watch the special Xmas episode of Dr Who. To keep my review of it simple I'll just say it was, like most of the modern Dr Who, rubbish !

 Last night I deliberately left my alarm activated, and it woke me up at 5am as usual. I actually woke up feeling quite refreshed, and it wasn't long before I went out into the darkness for a very short, but very special walk. I had something too large to go in the wheelie bin that I wanted to dispose of, and I thought I had spotted a skip in a nearby street that I was going to secretly use. It wasn't actually there and I had to make "other arrangements".

 With my nefarious nocturnal activities completed I was soon back in bed. After another hour or two of sleep I woke up feeling almost groggy, or at least less refreshed that I had earlier on. Sometime later the sun began to shine and I gave some serious consideration to going out for a short, but proper walk. Before I did that I thought I really ought to have a shave, shampoo and shower. That left me with wet hair, feeling far fresher, and a bit peckish. Considering all I ate yesterday I should have been feeling that peckish, but I thought I would put something in the oven to cook while I was walking.

 I thought it might be wise to let my hair dry a bit before venturing out. That was probably a mistake because I found myself distracted looking up some technical stuff on the internet. By the time I had finished following multiple links on the wikipedia pages I was consulting the sun had gone in again, and my lunch was cooked.

 As I ate my lunch I started to watch a movie. It was an  Alfred Hitchcock crime thriller starring several well known faces including Alastair Sim. The movie was "Stage Fright", and the star was that ugly old bat Marlene Dietrich. The other leading lady was Jane Wyman  who was far prettier. On the whole it was not a very good movie, but it passed some time. I think the next Alastair Sim movie I watch will be a comedy rather than a drab crime thriller.

 I have a few ideas of what I should be doing this afternoon, but I don't know just how enthusiastically I'll do them. Possibly the more important is some hoovering. I believe that Aleemah will be visiting tomorrow when public transport should be running again. It would make a nice change not to have to rush around hoovering etc. in the morning trying to make some of the house respectacle as I usually do when she visits. With nothing else of any significance doing I should do that hoovering this afternoon, and yet as I sit here I feel very unenthusiastic about it.
Sunday 25th December 2011
11:06 GMT

  It was rather grey and cool yesterday, and it's rather grey and cool today ! Cool at the moment is around 11 C, and in some ways that makes it worse. It's a very bland temperature - too warm for heavy winter cloting, and too cold for lightweight clothing. It may be a positive attribute that it's dry outside, but it is so dull and grey that it might as well be raining.

 I had two brief drinking sessions yesterday, and broke my own rules by doing a bit more shopping. The first drink was in the London & Rye Wetherspoons pub with Jodie. They had a few Xmas ales on, but I wasn't impressed with any of the two and a half pints I had in there.

 After that drink I went into the 99p shop. It was fairly busy, but I've seen it worse on an average Saturday. There was nothing I desperately needed, but I thought a bit more junk food might be nice. It wasn't only junk food that I bought. There was one item that I had overlooked in my pre-Xmas stocking up, and that was shampoo. I had enough left to wash my hair maybe a couple of times, but no more, and so extra supplies would be useful. I found a bewildering selection of brands and types available that I think, rightly or wrongly, would be too expensive to buy from places like Tesco. I ended up getting two different types for two different types of hair plus some blueberry conditioner !

 It was on the way home from the 99p shop that a text message came through from Kevin saying that he was just about ready for a pint after being dragged around the shops for last minute Xmas shopping. I have no idea why important messages like this come through when you haven't got a had free to reply to them, but it often seems to happen. Once I was home and able to reply we arranged to meet in The Catford Ram at 5.30pm for a couple of pints.

 I was looking forward to re-assessing this years Winter Warmer. When I tried it earlier in the month I was not feeling too good and I wondered if that had clouded my judgement. It hadn't ! It's still a pale shadow of it's former glory. It is merely pleasant instead of being wonderful. I had one pint of that, and one pint of Ram Ale. I didn't scrutinise the pump label, but Kevin said it was another seasonal ale. It may have been very slightly better that the Winter Warmer, but not by much.

 After a couple of pints in The Ram, and a good chinwag, I headed off to the Kentucky Fried Chicken shop for some artery clogging fried chicken to have for supper. It was while I was in there that I did my good deed for the year. My order included a 1.5l bottle of full fat Pepsi - which I hate. Standing next to me at the counter was a small kid, and I asked him if he liked Pepsi, and upon answering a hesitant yes I thrust the bottle in his hand and told him to enjoy it !

 With no work to get up for today I indulged in the comparative luxury of staying up late watching Tv and eating fried chicken. At least I tried to. I managed it until 10pm before heading up to bed. I almost slept quite well. I don't know if it was the booze or food, but I woke up twice with cramp in my calves. The first time it was the left one, and the second it was the right one. Fortunately it was not too agonising, and I was able to instantly leap out of bed and put some weight on my legs before the muscles locked up.

 Today absolutely nothing is happening. I had considered the idea of going out for a walk in the park, but it is too miserably grey outside for that. So I stay in and vegetate today.
Saturday 24th December 2011
12:22 GMT

  The weather forecast for yesterday was approximately correct. As midday approached the temperature dropped several degrees, and then a couple of hours later the rain started. I don't think it lasted as long as was forecast, and only for a fairly short while was it as heavy as forecast. This morning stated off very cold, but I didn't notice the frost that I think was forecast. Mostly it is just rather grey, and rather cool.

 As the afternoon approached time began to drag at work yesterday. I guess it was just my impatience to finish and start this period of rest and relaxation. I knew there was a good chance that we would be leaving early, and that a couple of us would be having a drink before heading home. It was little before 3pm when we finally left and headed to The Wandle pub (which is handily near to Earlsfield station).
Drinking in The Wandle pub in Earlsfield
 It was my intention that I would only stay in the pub until jjust before 4pm so I could touch in my Oyster Card at the station before 4pm and travel home at off-peak prices. Of course that didn't happen because we ended up having 3 pints instead of maybe just two. Of course the only problem wth having three pints was that I ended up walking home with my legs crossed when I got back to Catford !

 The booze and a big heavy lamb stew left me feeling very tired last night, and I ended up in bed far earlier than I imagined I would. I slept quite well, but I still woke up very early as if I was going to work today. It is possible that with a bit of effort I could have turned over and managed to go back to sleep, but I decided to go for a short walk instead. I walked half way into the park, and then decided it was stupidly cold to go on a nocturnal ramble. So I turned around and went baqck home again. Eventually I did get back in bed and slept for a couple more hours.

 Since then I have beeing doing stuff that is not exactly rest and rehabilitation. I've gathered together some rubbish and emptied the kitchen and upstairs litter bins. I've tidied away lots of odd debris from my bedroom (shoes and discarded clothes etc), and I've changed the bed linen and put the old in the washing machine. Now I can relax a bit, but only a tiny little bit because in about an hour I am meeting Jodie for a drink in the local Wetherspoons, and then later on I'll probably go out again to meet Kevin for a quick drink as well. In theory I could combine the two, but Kevin dislikes drinking with Jodie.

 With all the drinking done I feel tempted to order a takeaway, or maybe pick up some chicken and chips on the way home from the pub. I was going to have reheated curry for dinner tomorrow, but I think I'll be cooking a ready prepared guinea fowl that I picked up in Aldi on the spur of the moment when I was last in there. I've never had guinea fowl before (as far as I can remember) so it could be interesting.
Friday 23rd December 2011
08:08 GMT

  Yesterday morning I thought there might be a little sunshine during the day. I was hopelessly pessimistic. There was a lot of sunshine ! Occasionally it even felt warm. Once or twice when I was outside, the breeze dropped and the air became still. During those lulls I could feel the sun warming my body, and with my eyes shot it was almost possible to remember what summer feels like. Today things take a turn for the worse. It is quite mild this morning, but that is due to the cloud that will also block and chance of seeing the sun. If the weather forecast is correct it will get worse. Around midday the temperature will drop back into single figures, and rain will start. By late afternoon it seems it may well be very chilly and very wet !

 Today seems to be another day where I feel far better, and yet worse. I am now only getting occasional reminders of the cold I had, but like yesterday, I feel as if I have little energy. Once again, coming to work was a bit of a slog, and I had no desire to rush around at my normal commuting speed. Maybe I can put it down to being the end of the week, or maybe I am just practising for being a slob over the Xmas break.

 As I went home from work last night I didn't feel much like rushing around, and yet I decided I ought to try and get my very last bit of Xmas shopping - a big bag of cat litter. I thought I would be brave and try Tesco. It was very busy in there, and the queues to the checkouts were annoyingly long, but I knew that it was still mild comapared to how it will be in there today and tomorrow. So I gritted my teeth and went in and bought a bag of cat litter. I also bought the Xmas edition of New Scientist. That will give me something to read on some of the quiet days to come. As far as I can foretell, I now have everything I need to avoid the shops for the next five days - though there is always the corner shop for anything else that might come to mind (and they will probably be open on Xmas morning).

 The days are now getting longer, but today should be a short day - a short day at work. With luck several of us will be going for a late lunchtime drink and not coming back until January 3rd. Some years I have not always liked such a long shutdown. With little to see or do, even more so if the weather is bad, it can be really boring being at home, but this year I am really looking forward to it. The idea of a big long rest seems wonderful, although I must try not to get carried away reasting too much. Sometime before the end of the holiday I ought to try and do things that might gain me some extra fitness for the new year. Maybe if the weather is not too harsh at the beginning of the year I might even attempt to cut down on the amount I eat. Right now though, I am looking forward to a couple of pints of beer this afternoon !
Thursday 22nd December 2011
08:11 GMT

  A temperature of 13 C does not sound that high, and I wouldn't want to hang around in just a t-shirt at that temperature, but dressed for colder temperatures meant that I did feel rather warm yesterday afternoon. Today may not get quite as mild, but it may only be a single degree cooler. This morning started at 9 C so it doesn't have to rise that far to get close to yesterday. Judging by the sky there could even be a little bit of sunshine today.

 This mild weather is doing wonders for my recovery. In moments where I let my guard down I almost feel back to normal. In a way this is strange because yesterday afternoon I had a coughing fit that was so severe I almost turned blue. Perhaps I was too busy fighting to get things back under control that I didn't notice that I finally coughed out my left testicle, the very last organ left in my body after all the coughing I have done in the last fortnight. Whatever actually happened, it seemed to mark a turning point.

 Last night I actually slept well again. I had no trouble getting to sleep, and no trouble getting back to sleep after waking a couple of times for the traditional pee in the night. There was one other factor involved. With it being so mild yesterday, I didn't use much heating in the evening, and for the first time since going down with that rotten cold, I didn't have any heating on in my bedroom at all overnight. Even this morning I only turned on the fan heater for a few minutes when I first got out of bed. It is a reminder of just how good things will be once spring is fully underway.

 One peculiar thing is that while I feel so much better, I don't seem to have as much energy as yesterday morning, but it could all be just in the mind. Last night it seemed to be a bit of a slog walking from the station to Aldi, but it didn't seem to be all that hard walking from Aldi to home with 8 litres of their own brand diet cola, 30 foil trays of cat food, and a few other assorted bits and pieces. This morning I felt no urge to rush around during my morning commute into work. Instead I had the peculiar idea that each step was hard work, but no step, from the first to the last was any harder than any other. In theory I could have walked for ever like that - grumbling all the way !!

 Despite all my recent shopping I still have not got everything I need over Xmas. There is only one more essential to go, and that is cat litter. I may be brave and chance Tesco on the way home tonight, or I may rely on the corner shop having some.
Wednesday 21st December 2011
07:45 GMT

  Yesterday was one of those days where the weather was so bland that it is hard to remember any detail about it. I do remember thinking that if it was not for an icy wind it would have felt comparatively mild, but apart from that, all I can see in my minds eye is shades of grey. Today might be different. There may have been some heavier rain earlier on, but all I encountered on the way to work was a fine misty rain. That mistyness, combined with a temperature of 8.5 C made it very easy to breathe this morning, and rushing around seemed almost easy as I came into work. The temperature will continue to rise today, and the forecast suggests a very mild 13 C as the day's high. If that came with sunshine, which I don't think it does, it would be a remarkably good day.

 It is a remarkably slow process, but every day I feel better and better, and yet everyday I also have a setback. Once I had left work, and got moving in the fresh air, I felt almost good last night. Even going up those bloody stairs at Earlsfield station felt slightly less lethal than of late (i.e. I was only blue when I got to the top instead of purple). I seemed to have plenty of energy to call in at Tesco on the way home, and I managed to lug four 2l bottles of Diet Coke (4 bottles for 4 !) home, together with a litre of whisky, a big(ish) bag of baking potatoes and some lighter stuff without passing out.

 It's difficult to tell when dinner is made up of lots of little bits instead of one big serving, but there is a microscopic chance that I ate very slightly more lightly than recently. All these things are signs that I am finally beating the cold I've had into submission, and yet there have also been a few negative signs as well. Last night I got into bed shortly after 8pm, and I assumed that I would have no trouble getting to sleep. I was wrong. From some hidden crevice in my airways a small sticky glob of mucus launched itself into my throat. It seemed too small to cough out, and yet when ever I tried to lie down and breath normally it would do a little dance all around the ticklish parts of my throat.

 The only cure, or respite from this ticklish situation was to gargle with some whisky. After doing that I finally managed to get to sleep, but I had a rough night. I woke up a few times in the night, and each time I woke up it looked like I had been fighting with my duvet. When I woke for the last time at 5am my duvet had almost turned half a revolution, as well as being half off the bed.

 For all my nocturnal fighting I don't feel too bad today - at least not yet I don't. I do look forward to the 10 day break from work over Xmas. For most of those 10 days I can relax my sleeping regime, and sleep when I want to sleep. That, and staying out of the cold outside air as much as possible, will probably be what I need to finally murder this fiendishly long cold.

 Tonight I am hoping, and there seems no reason not to, that I'll have the energy to get to Aldi for some more shopping. Shopping two nights in a row may seem excessive, but I do not want to face the supermarkets in the last few days before xmas. To be honest, I am not exactly sure how bad Aldi gets, but as far back as I can remember, the walls of Tesco actually creak with the pressure of a million billion shoppers all crammed in at once. Last  Xmas eve I actually passed the back of the queues for the checkouts as my train went through Clapham Junction. Those last few people actually reached the tills on January 18th. So tonight I want to stock up on a fortnights worth of cat food, plus anything else that seems like a good idea, and then avoid the supermarkets until after Xmas.
Tuesday 20th December 2011
08:28 GMT

  It was a horrible day yesterday. It rained in the morning, and it rained in the evening. As well as being wet it was cold and gloomy. Thankfully, today should be far better. It should stay dry, and while the sky stays clear there will be some cheery sunshine. The other improvement is that it is slightly less cold this morning. This morning started at 7 C. That's only a few degrees above yesterday, but it's enough to be noticeable when the light wind drops.

 It took ages to warm up my office yesterday morning after the cold weekend. In consequence it also took ages for me to feel anywhere near as good as I felt over the weekend when I stayed in with the heating up. I think it was gone midday before I started to feel comfortable, and then all too soon it was time to go out into the cold and wet to go home again.

 Going home was not as bad as going to work, and I seemed to recover from it quite quickly. In an attempt to speed up my recovery from a cold that has gone on far too long, I made sure I was in bed very early last night. I was feeling tired so it was no effort to be in bed by 8pm, and after reading for 10 minutes, to fall instantly asleep once I turned the light out.

 Had I managed to stay asleep I would have had a really good nights sleep, but approximately an hour after falling asleep I woke up choking. I am not entirely sure what happened, but one possibility is that I had breathed in a load of cat fur (Smudge had been sleeping on my bed, and left hairs all over it). It felt like I was turning blue as I leapt out of bed to have a very deep and powerful coughing session.

 It took maybe an hour, including a trip down to the kitchen to fill up my bedside drink, before I got over it, and feeling comfortable enough to attempt to go back to sleep. I woke a few more times in the night for varied reasons, including a much milder episode of choking, and despite being in bed so early I expect I ended up being at least an hour short of the magic eight hours sleep I try and aim for.

 This morning I am still frequently coughing to clear small amounts of mucus, but it is a less tickly cough, and not a hacking one either. It may not sound like it, but this is a great improvement. I do actually feel a lot better today. I think if I keep the thermostat set high in my office today, and can possibly have a good nights sleep tonight, I could be feeling rather good tomorrow. More importantly, I definitely seem on track to feeling well for the Xmas break.
Monday 19th December 2011
07:45 GMT

  The only thing that seemed to happen to the weather overnight was that it got colder. At 4am it was just 1.2 C, as measured outside the back of the house approx 10ft off the ground. At ground level, and further away from the house, the deep crispy frost suggests that the temperature was in negative figures. It is never going to get anywhere near warm today, but the temperature will rise just enough that the heavy rain forecast for this afternoon will fall as rain instead of snow.

 Last night I intended to be in bed, and hopefully fast asleep, well before 9pm, but I got a bit distracted. It all started when I wanted to try a bit of dodgy software that I was sure contained some sort of virus, or other nasty. There is a very safe way of doing this, and it involves using a virtual PC. I can't remember when I installed it all, but I have Virtual Box installed on my PC, and also a working copy of Windows 7 installed as a virtual PC on it. The handy thing about a virtual PC is you can clone it, and subject the clone to all sorts of abuse knowing that the original is safe and sound ready to be cloned again for some other fiendish experiment.

 I tried my dubious software on the virtual PC and it set off all sorts of alarm bells, but it did run, and I was able to copy the output information via a safe plain ascii text file for later use. While I had Virtual Box running I decided to make another virtual PC. This one was to run Fedora Core 16 Linux. It was a distribution of Linux I had never really tried before, and I got curious about it. Sometimes I do stuff, and I wonder why I did it afterwards. In this case what I did was to allow Fedora Core 16 to do a complete update before I had a little play with it. This was stupid. I can't recall if it was 289 or 489 files that needed to be downloaded and installed to bring the installation up to date, but I do know that to just have a quick play with it, to see what it looked and handled like, didn't need any updates.

 One of the problems with Fedora Linux is that it plays far too safe and omits any stuff that exists in a sort of legal grey area. Most obvious is the codecs needed to play mp3 files. I had to install them manually - which is actually easy enough after a tiny bit of research on the internet. Doing all this stuff meant that time was slipping by, and it was already passed my bedtime before I could explore Fedora Core 16 Linux. So my exploration was briefer than I would have liked, but then again, once you get the logos there are not that many differences between the many Linux distributions. However I did find one huge difference that I can't explain. Having installed the codec to play mp3 files I found that the music played slightly slow. That is very weird, and in some respects should be impossible. I am sure it is some sort of weirdness because it is only a virtual PC. One day I may find out what is going on unless I delete that virtual PC - it was never intended to be used for anything more than an experiment anyway.

 After not getting to bed until 10pm I should ideally have slept right up to the dot of 5am, but I actually woke up an hour early, and only snatched a tiny bit of sleep after that. When I first woke up it felt like I had very furry lungs, and just like yesterday, it has taken 3 or 4 hours before they settled down. I did have fears that I would end up coughing all the way to work, but it was nowhere near as bad as that. I could wish to feel far better, but compared to how I felt for much of last week, how I feel now is like luxury. I now seem to be firing on one lung instead of misfiring on half a lung, and rushing around didn't seem to be the struggle that I imagined it would be. It may still be a bit weak, but I have my voice back this morning. I couldn't bellow out my usual "Good Morning" as I came into work, but it wasn't far off normal. Last Friday it was more of a hoarse squeak ! I am beginning to think that I might even survive into the new year if I can make some more improvements like I managed this weekend.
Sunday 18th December 2011
16:41 GMT

  Today has been very similar to yesterday - cold and grey. Sometime this morning I noticed that the temperature was only 1.9 C, and right now it seems to be only 3.7 C. That does make it a bit colder than yesterday. Early this afternoon the sky took on the colour of immenent snow. None has been forecast, and none has fallen, but it must have been a close run thing.

 I did feel that potentially I could have gone out last night, but I am glad I didn't. All this warmth and rest is finally, but slowly healing the scars of last weeks illness. This morning I woke up feeling stiff and congested. I think I would have felt quite rough if I had had to go to work like that, but being a Sunday I could, and did take it very easy this morning. It probably took a couple of hours before I seemed to warm up and feel relatively OK.

 By comparison to even yesterday I have coughed a lot less today, and my tissue consumption has dropped to not far off normal levels. There was one exception to this, and even that wasn't that bad. At around midday I went out to the high street to buy a few things. When I got back I was just starting to get a tickly throat, and the cold air had started my nose dripping a little bit. With luck, if I get another good nights sleep, I will have recovered sufficiently to make my commute to work in the morning less of a traumatic experience than it was every day last week.

 Today I have felt good enough to do a little bit of housework. I did a bit of laundry, some long overdue washing up, and I have emptied Smudge's litter tray. I did get close close to doing some hoovering, but I didn't want to overtax myself :-) It was last night when I actually did some creative stuff when I prepared another Chain video for upload.
Saturday 17th December 2011
16:26 GMT

  It was forecast that we could have seen some sleet or snow yesterday - and we did, but you had to look carefully to see it. In amongst the raindrops that fell during the morning were a few that drifted down more sluggishly. It was definitely sleet, but very little of it. Later on it dried up, but remained cold and nasty. This morning saw some bright sunshine, but also some frost. Neither lasted all that long, and on the whole it has been a cold grey day. The lowest temperature I noticed this morning was 2 C. Since then it has risen to 6 C.

 I was feeling particularly crap yesterday. I slept well up to 3am, but my sleep was very patchy after that. My journey to work felt really horrible with the cold wet air biting deep into my lungs. Once again I started (and finished) work with a really hoarse throat. It wasn't an ideal situation to enjoy our company Xmas dinner/party !

 Being something of a weirdo I have never fully enjoyed these, and similar occasions, and yesterday I excelled at being (privately) grumpy. I didn't bother to sit down for the meal, and apart from a brief time before the meal, I didn't really participate in any conversation. Sometimes I just hovered around taking photos as sort of officially requested, and a lot of time I just spent in my office reading stuff on the internet, listening to very non-Xmas music (Hawkwind !!!) and drinking beer.
drinking beer in my office
 From time to time some people, presumably while they are feeling grumpy, have suggested that my workspace is not tidy and professional looking. Looking at the picture above I find myself thinking that for an electronic work area it is amazing neat and tidy. The people who have suggested otherwise in the past have obviously never seen a real electronic work area !!! What this picture really shows is that I am a lazy git who never does any work - at least it does to those in the know !
company xmas dinner 2011
 By all accounts it was a very nice dinner, but apart from being a serve yourself buffet, I have no idea what was available. I also have no idea what happened after the dinner. Once the formal bit was over I packed my bags and went home. It was nice to partly travel before sunset, but I didn't leave as early as I thought I did. I arrived at Waterloo just in time to miss a train to Catford. The next one, after a wait of 33 minutes, was the one I get every day. So I arrived home at my normal time feeling very crap again after more over exposure to the cold damp air.

 It was my intention to order myself a nice hot curry last night, but I couldn't wait that long. Instead I started nibbling at odds and ends, and before I knew it I had eaten a dinner of sorts. After watching the news on TV I went up to my bedroom at 7pm. I can't really remember what I did between then and when I went to sleep. I spent some time on line, and some time reading, but I can't recall how much of each. I think I was in bed, and fast asleep not all that long after 8pm.

 I slept well up to 3am when I woke up with a very dry tickly throat. After that I didn't manage any long periods of deep sleep. At 7am I got up and watched the morning news on TV for maybe an hour, and then I tried to go back to bed. That didn't really work, and eventually I very slowly got up and got dressed properly. One of the aims of today was to stay in the warm as much as possible, and try and recover from this rotten illness. Unfortunately I needed some shopping and had to go out into the cold. Walking to Aldi didn't actually feel too bad, but I suffered a bit coming back with heavy bags of shopping, and then for a bit longer afterwards.

 Many hours later I don't feel that bad. I almost feel good enough to go out and see Chain play tonight. They are playing in The Chatterton Arms, and that is one of the easiest places to get to, and yet I feel I shouldn't be a fool and venture out into that cold lung ripping night air. Reluctantly I am staying in tonight. Maybe I'll have that curry, but earlier on I did have a late breakfast/early lunch of sausages, beans, and not really cooked enough baked sweet potato. It was a substantial breakfast, and I am not sure if I should have another big meal today.
Friday 16th December 2011
08:07 GMT

  Yesterday morning's bone chilling cold wind died down during the morning, and the rest of the day was just cold and grey. This morning is colder than yesterday, and to make things even more unpleasant it is raining. Later on this morning that rain could turn to sleet, or even snow. It's not quite cold enough for it to settle, and the ground is far too wet anyway, but it does provide a taster of what could come later.

 I called in to Tesco on the way home from work last night. I meant to buy the latest New Scientist, but somehow I seemed to forget that. I did come away with quite a lot of other stuff though. I must have hit the store at exactly the right time to find all sorts of things with reduced price stickers on them as they came to the end of their shelf life. Ideally I wanted a nice hot meal when I came in from the cold last night, but I ended up having cold stuff instead.

 The one saving grace that made up for the cold food was that the previous night I finally got around to fixing the fan heater in the living room. Like most fan heaters, the bearings on the fan motor had dried out causing the fan to get very sluggish, or not even start when first turned on. I notice that the more modern a fan heater is, the shorter period of time it takes to fail. The 50 year old heater in my bedroom lasted for 20 - 25 years before it needed it's first service. Modern heaters can fail after a mere 12 months.

 Repair is quite simple provided safety precautions are taken - the most important of which is to physically unplug the unit before doing anything else. Undoing a few screws usually enable the case to be cracked open. Inside there will inevitably be lots of dust that needs brushing/hoovering out. With the dust out of the way you can usually see one or both bearings on the fan motor. If access is easy, a drop of oil is all that's needed, but if access is difficult then the only option is to carefully spray a small amount of WD40 towards the bearing(s). As you spin the fan by hand it should free up. Then it's just a matter of reassembling the unit - taking care not to trap wires between the two halves.

 Having serviced my front room heater the previous night I had no trouble turning it on full blast, and soon the room was sweltering hot as I ate my cold food. Tonight I should be having some hot food, but I'll still get the room really hot. That heat suits my lingering cold. By keeping the heater on low in my bedroom overnight I felt tolerably well when I woke up, and still pretty fair when I left to come to work.

 At that point everything went wrong. Out in the cold and wet my cold felt almost as bad as ever. I started to cough too much, and felt generally creaky. Ideally I should have had more time off work to get over this thing instead of coming back to work on Monday. With luck I can have a nice restful weekend in the warm, and finally get over this thing.
Thursday 15th December 2011
07:54 GMT

  Yesterday remained cool, dull, and dry until I was about halfway home when it started to rain. It was fairly light rain, though the only place I was really exposed to it was on the walk from the station to home. It was light enough then that I didn't even bother doing my coat up.My trains passed through several pockets of rain as I came to work this morning, but it was dry for all the walking in the open parts of the journey. The main antagonist this morning is a strong biting wind.

 I left home feeling quite warm, and left my coat open. It didn't take long to realise that was a big mistake. Some gusts of wind were quite strong, but it was more the direction the wind was coming from that made it feel so bad. As I turned the corner to walk down the road to the station the wind hit me full in the face, and it felt positively icy (despite being 5 or 6 degrees above zero).

 I got home from work last night feeling cold, tired and hungry. I had the ingredients, and I had earlier intentions to make a delicious beef stew last night, but the reality was that I couldn't be bothered. So I had a ruumage around in the back of the freezer and pulled out a couple of things I could leave cooking in the oven while I did other stuff. "Other stuff" included munching on some mini pork pies and Hula Hoops. Later on, having eaten the food from the freezer I finished off with some cheese (unhealthy) and blueberries (very healthy).

 Maybe it was the healthy effect of the blueberries, or maybe it was the cheese, but more likely it was just the passing of time that allowed me to get just about 8 hours sleep last night. I only woke up a few times in the night, and at least a couple of those times were for a wee as much as breathing difficulties. I did wake up once feeling like I had snorted in an old sock, but it seemed to take comparatively little effort to clear out my breathing plumbing, and get back to sleep again.

 It was tempting to feel that I was just about over the cold I've had, but I knew that it couldn't last. Sure enough, once I had walked to the station in the cold windy air I was soon coughing and filling up tissues with snot again. Now I am at work, and in the warm, my nose and throat are settling down again slowly, but I am again starting to suffer from a few pains that started yesterday. Superficially it is like back ache, but instead of being the more common "lower back pain" it is higher up at the level of the chest. I assume it is some organ throwing a wobbly, but it may too recover one day.

 I really didn't want to come to work today. Tomorrow is our work Xmas dinner/party, and ideally I want to be fit and healthy for it. It would have made a lot of sense to build on the amount of sleep I had last night by turning over and trying for more once I had dismissed my morning alarm. Not having to go out into the cold and damp would have helped a lot too.
Wednesday 14th December 2011
08:03 GMT

  There was at least a splash of rain during the night, but so far there has been no rain this morning. I think the forecast is that today will stay dry, but right now, with the sky just getting light, I can see an awful lot of cloud up there. My thermometer said it was 5.6 C shortly before I left to get my train to work, and apparently that is not far off the maximum we can expect for today. The good news is that it is now only a week to the winter solstice. From then on the days get longer again, and my mind will become obsessed with the idea of waking up to daylight again.

 I think I have seen some improvements in my health. Last night I managed to get over 5 hours sleep, and maybe nearly 6 hours. I had very little problem getting to sleep last night, but I am unsure what time it actually happened. I am certain it was before 9pm, and could have been as early as 8.30pm. I then slept very soundly until I woke up from a semi-erotic dream sometime around half past midnight. Although it only involved action above the waistline, it was rather a pleasing dream, and featured a very unlikely someone who shall remain nameless to spare her any discomfort.

 I woke up from the dream with a dry mouth, and coughing. It took some time before I could clean my airways out, and I think it was close to 2am before I tried to get back to sleep. The biggest problem was my throat. It just sort of felt tight, but eventually I coughed up something nasty, and the tightness went away. I then managed to sleep again for nearly two hours before the sound of Smudge throwing up woke me again. Fortunately it was only a small fur ball that Smudge brought up, and somehow I seemed to get back to sleep easier, and quicker than I might have imagined. I was finally woken at 5am when my alarm sounded.

 While it would be better to get a full 8, or more, hours of sleep in almost a single session, the amount I got last night was a great improvement compared to recently. It seems that I am now well on my way to being cured of this malady, except........ I was feeling OK when I left home to come to work, and even while I was walking to the station in the cold morning air I didn't feel too bad, but once I was on a hot and humid train all my ideas were shattered.

 In that atmosphere my nose managed find some untapped sinal areas filled with the most unpleasant of the unpleasant, and my lungs seemed to instantly manufacture a lot of very sticky mucus. For a lot of the ride between Catford Bridge and Lomdon Bridge I was coughing and spluttering, and then slightly less so from there to here. Now I am at work in the warm, I think I am slowly recovering, and by this afternoon I may well feel somewhere in the vicinity of normal until I walk to the station in the cold air as I go home. That may well trigger off another session of coughing and spluttering.
Tuesday 13th December 2011
19:05 GMT

  Yesterday stayed cold and sunny until sunset. Sometime after sunset the wind got a lot stronger, and the cloud built up. During the night there was a lot of rain. It had stopped here in Catford as I left home to go to work, but my train passed through a heavy downpour around the Clapham Junction area. At Earlsfield there was just one splash of rain as the wind blew the very last fringes of falling rain towards us. Apart from that my walk from the station to work was done in the dry, and there has been no rain since. Once again it has been a fairly sunny day, but any hint of warmth from the sun has been whisked away by a strong cold breeze.

 I felt very tired by the time I left work yesterday to come home. Fortunately the fresh air, and a bit of walking refreshed me a bit because my normal train was cancelled, and I had an extra 20 minute wait on the platform at Waterloo East for the next one. I can't say I was too happy about that, but I still found the energy and patience to call in at Tesco on the way home.

 For dinner last night I tried Lamb Rogan Jhosh from Tesco's ready meals range. I have to admit that for a supermarket ready meal it was a very close approximation to the real thing. The same was true of a chicken korma I had tonight. As well as a couple of spare boxes of tissues, I also wanted to get more blueberries for their alleged goodness for those, like me, suffering from a cold. I had some other stuff last night and didn't eat any of those blueberries, but I have had a pile of them tonight.

 I tried to get to bed very early last night, but I got delayed researching and writing a long email. I was still able to get to bed a little early. I had no trouble getting to sleep, and I was hoping that I would get a good nights sleep. For the first 4 or 5 hours I did sleep well, but then I woke up feeling very clogged up. The feeling wouldn't go away so I decided to get up for a bit. Eventually I managed to cough up something the size of an aardvark, and a little later I blew several gallons of unpleasantness out of my nose. After both of thise things I began to be able to breathe normally.

 It took some time to get to sleep again even after that, and I only slept for about an hour, maybe 90 minutes, before it was time to get up again for real. I did feel very rough, and the feeling never totally went away even when I was at work. The main problem now is mostly sleep deprivation. Today my throat has been more tickly than anything else. Much of the mucus that troubled me earlier seems to have dried up now - except that as it has become drier it has also become more sticky, and hence harder to shift when it does cause problems.

 I was only slightly early to work today, but it was lucky I was early at all. SouthWest Trains had some problems this morning, and loads of trains were delayed or cancelled. I was actually lucky and the train I boarded left for Earlsfield at more or less normal speed, and within a few minutes of getting on it. Being as it was the first train to run for some time, and with many more after it showing as cancelled, it did get extremely full by Clapham Junction, but apart from that my journey turned out to be little different to normal. Had I missed that train it could have been a very, very different story according to what I heard on the BBC news tonight. (More from The Metro here).

 In fact my only delay in getting to work was stopping to use a cash machine on the way there. It is just as well I wasn't delayed because I had an important job to do first thing in the morning. It didn't take long to finish, but afterwards I couldn't be bothered to write anything here until this evening.

 Very soon now I will be in bed. I am not confident that I will get a good nights sleep tonight, but I am crossing my fingers that I can get at least 6 hours tonight. 8 would be even better, and if I could brush my teeth, get into bed, and be asleep all within the next four minutes I could potentially get a much needed 9 hours. To do so would be a miracle, and realistically the best I could ever hope for is still 8 hours if my lungs, throat and nose could possibly be well behaved tonight. I fear it will only be 5 or 6 though. Oh well, there's always tomorrow night.
Monday 12th December 2011
07:45 GMT

  The rain that was forecast for yesterday afternoon actually fell during the night when it didn't matter. All the cloud helped keep the temperature up above freezing. This morning the sky is very clear, and without the earlier cloud the temperature could easily have dropped to well below zero. It could well be a rather cold, but sunny day today.

 I made a point of going to bed early last night, and although I read in bed for some time, I think I may have been asleep before 9pm. That was just as well because I woke up from a fairly solid sleep at about 01:30, and I only managed to catch a few bits of sleep after that. I probably got just enough sleep to stop me getting double vision today, but I am sure I'll be falling asleep at my desk frequently. I could easily just close my eyes right now and ...................zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz !

 It wasn't my intention to come in to work extra early today, but that's how it happened. It wasn't very pleasant coming here to work. I felt very blocked up and got very wheezy whenever I tried to move fast. The long haul all the way from the platform at Waterloo East station to the platform at Waterloo mainline station was very trying. I took it at a relatively sedate place, but I still wanted to lay down at the half way point.

 Now I am actually in work I don't feel quite as dreadful as I feared I might be. Some naughty person left the fan heater on in my office all weekend, and coming in to a hot room made life seem that little bit better. I think it's going to feel like a long day though, and just writing about falling asleep at my desk has made me feel dreadfully tired. Oh well, it'll soon be over.
Sunday 11th December 2011
17:34 GMT

  It's been rather a grey day today. Apart from not getting the forecast rain, it has been much as forecast, but also a bit surprising after last night.
sunset over a train on The Catford Loop line
 It was a rather colourful sunset last night, and by tradition that should have indicated good weather today. About the only good thing you could say about today was that at around 10 C it was a few degrees warmer than the last couple of days.

 I continued to feel rough yesterday, and had a lot of trouble getting to sleep last night. Once I did get to sleep I think I slept quite solidly for many hours, although I do recall having a very extended dream that could only have happened if I was on the verge of waking up for an extended period of time. My dream concerned some sort of underground structure, an old bunker or something, that seemed to get more and more extensive as the dream went on. Just before I woke up from it, it had grown to the extent that is was supposed to cover most of inner London, and far from being deserted, there were colonies of people living down there.

 Once again I haven't been feeling too wonderful today. As well as the general fatigue, it is still far too easy to trigger off uncontrollable coughing that often then triggers off a hot sweaty flush. A little further misery has come from a mild stomach upset today (it currently feels like I have some trapped wind as well).

 Tomorrow I have to attempt to go back to work. I am not sure that I am really ready for it, but I can't take any more time off without getting a doctors certificate. It is going to be pretty nasty going out in the early morning chill, and from past experience I know that every change in air temperature and humidity will trigger off my cough. Apart from any other time, that will happen everytime I get on or off a train, and quite likely whenever the doors open on the train too. Not only is uncomfortable, but also highly embarrassing too. Even after I have thrown off the basic illness, the coughing on trains could go on for weeks yet. Oh well, with every day that passes spring gets a little closer.
Saturday 10th December 2011
19:22 GMT

  Today was the second of two consecutive bright, but very cold days. Overnight the temperature dropped to just 1.2 C - the coldest temperature I've seen since installing my "radio controlled" indoor/outdoor thermometer. As I write it is just 3.7 C outdoors, and 22 C here in my front room.  Tomorrow it is supposed to warm up - just by a few degrees, and that should be just enough to stop some forecast rain falling as snow - which could be both a good thing and a bad thing.

 On Friday afternoon I became increasingly tired, and I wasn't sure I would enjoy myself when I went to see Chain playing in The Catford Ram. I needn't have worried about that too much. Chain played an excellent gig, and Winter Warmer was available at the bar. Although to be truthful the Winter Warmer was a disappointment. It is still a strong(ish) beer, but general opinion says it tastes nothing like the original as brewed at Young's old brewery, by Young's own brewers in Wandsworth. Over the years the strength has been reduced and the sweetness increased, but more than anything else it is now in Luton by the Charles Wells brewery by brewers who probably wouldn't know Wandsworth if it bit them on the arse !!

Chain at The Catford Ram Fri 9th Dec 2011
 One of the oddities of the night that kept everyone guessing, possibly including the pub staff, was why was the big screen on all evening when Chain were playing in fron t of it, and no one was interested in it ?  Fortunately it was on silently, and so it was only a visual distraction as some Pakistani fast bowler appeared to be hurling a cricket ball at Chris' head (Chris Mayer - lead guitar). (I didn't appear to capture that effect on my camera).
Hannah doing a guest solo spot
 For the second time at The Catford Ram, Hannah stepped up and did a solo spot at the mike. The last time this happened was as a sort of live rehearsal for when she appeared at Party In The Priory back in August. As far as I am aware she hasn't any other public appearance arranged.
Hannah singing "Valerie" with Jo
 A bit later on Hannah joined the rest of the band to accompany Jo when they sang Valerie. That drew a far louder round of applause than her earlier solo effort (which I have to say did sound a bit thin).

 Although I enjoyed myself it did end up being quite tiring, and I think going out in the cold night air did me no good at all. I arrived home again after the gig at a little before 9 pm, and I felt exhausted and chilled to the bone. It wasn't ideal for someone who was trying to recover from a cold that has gone on for far too long. As sson as I got in I tried to phone for a nice hot takeaway, but on the first attempt I had to hang up almost as soon as I started because I couldn't stop coughing. On the second attempt I was OK, and I soon had some hot Chinese food to eat. I ordered more than I needed, and once I have finished writing here I have the second half warming up in a low oven.

 I have felt pretty crappy today. It didn't help that once again I went out into that cruel cold air to get some shopping from Tesco. In turn, that wasn't help by a special offer I noticed while I was in the store. They were selling off 2l bottles of Diet Coke, presumably because they didn't have the Xmas labels on them, for 4 bottles for 4. Lugging back 8 litres of Diet Coke plus a 10 litre bag of cat litter was rather heavy going, and I was close to collapse when I got home.

 Since then I have done everything at half or quarter speed. It took ages to go through all the photos I took last night. Out of a total of 42 originals I selected 19 to edit for best effect and size for uploading later. Hopefully I will feel more energetic tomorrow. My one hope is that my sleeping is getting far better now. I am sure I had a full 8 hours last night - though it was in two shifts. At about 3 am I woke mup feeling truly dreaful. The hangover from the beer was bad enough, but the wheeziness and stuff from my cold was the poison icing on top.

 I stayed up for maybe an hour, perhaps two while I had plenty of liquid and some painkillers. Then I went back to sleep, and miraculously slept solidly for a couple of hours, and less solidly for another hour or two after that. One of the problems of last night and this morning was that my throat was on a hair trigger. Now my nose and throat have dried out a lot there is a tendency for a dry tickly throat that once it grips me can leave me coughing until I am red (and probably blue, green and purple) in the face. Past experience tells me that the next couple of weeks are going to be hell on the trains to and from work. The changes of temperature and humidity are as good a trigger to my throat as a tickle from a feather with added tickle lotion on it !
Friday 9th December 2011
13:45 GMT

  Yesterday got a bit windy for a time, but nothing like the 90mph+ winds that were battering the north of the country. I think there may have been a splash of rain in the evening too. From the perspective of indoors, today has been a wonderful day so far. The sky is as blue as a summers day, and the sun blindingly bright. Where that sunshine was shining through the windows, and net curtains, directly on my thermometer it was telling me it was 30 C in my bedroom. It obviously wasn't quite that hot, but deliciously close to it - certainly hot enough for Smudge to seek the coolness of the floor away from the sun's rays. Outside is a different story. It is only 7.3 C, and with the recent arrival of some clouds that are now hiding the sun, that is probably as high as it will get today.

 The good news today is that I really do feel significantly better than the previous few days. I am still a bit fragile, and it is easy to irritate my throat, but while I am sitting in the warm doing little, I feel fine. It wasn't that bad doing a little bit of housework earlier. Mind you, it was very light housework - mainly disposing of all the huge amount of tissues, and other detritus I accumulated over the last few days.

 The most important thing is that I think I have now got passed the negative feedback loop I was stuck in. I couldn't heal because I couldn't sleep, and I couldn't sleep because I couldn't heal. Last night I had my best sleep since the weekend. It was still far less than I would desire - maybe less than the five hours - but enough to start the healing process. Tonight I am expecting/hoping for even more - helped along by beer and good music.

 Tonight is one of those times when everything comes together in the best ever combination. I feel well enough to venture out as far as the Catford Ram, and Chain are playing there at 5.30pm. If they were playing anywhere else I doubt I would go, and if they were playing in The Ram significantly later I might have doubts about going. But early and so local is the perfect combination !

 In theory I could be feeling quite good tomorrow, and then it will be time to do more serious stuff. Emptying Smudge's litter try will probably be top priority. Yesterday it was getting very full, but all I could face doing was to skim off some of the top and put a fresh layer of litter on the unpleasantness below. Unfortunately I will also have to buy some more cat litter, and though I feel I am mending quite well, I am unsure just how enthusiastic I'll be lugging some great heavy bag of cat litter back from the supermarket tomorrow.
Thursday 8th December 2011
17:45 GMT

  It's hard to really comment about the weather when you haven't really experienced it. For instance I find it hard to believe that my thermometer is saying it is 12.7 C outside right now.

 For the first time since coming home at lunchtime on Monday I actually went outside the house this morning. It was a matter of neccessity rather than pleasure, and something I said I would try and do yesterday, but didn't. I needed some soft drinks, some sort of treat, and I thought a spare box of tissues might be handy. To get these things I only needed to go the hundred yards, or so, up the road to the corner shop. Prior to that it was also the first time I had showered and shaved properly since Monday morning (though I did have a quick rinse under the shower on Tuesday morning).

 When I first stepped out the door it didn't feel any colder than I expected. It was quite dull outside, and it felt like there was some light rain in the wind - perhaps a sign of things to come. I think there may have been a very light shower once or twice today, but nothing of any significance.

 I had allowed myself to settle down for some time between showering and going out, and I was feeling OK. I walked towards the shop at an unhurried, but not slow pace. Maybe I should have taken it unnaturally slowly because I was wheezing and burbling like Darth Vader when I entered the shop. When I had bought my stuff I had two conflicting ideas. One was that I should set a very moderate pace when walking home, the other was that I wanted to get home, and into the warm as soon as possible. I probably ended up walking at the same speed as I had walked there.

 It was nice to get indoors again, although strangely enough I was breathing easier than I had been when I arrived at the shop. Maybe I actually need(ed) some fresh air and exercise to exorcise this bug. That feeling better turned out to be a false alarm though.  The treat I had bought for myself was a Cadburys gold Whispa bar. As soon as I started to eat it the intense sweetness, and the clingyness of the chocolate irritated my throat to the point where I wondered if I would ever be able to breathe again ! I'm obviously a masochist because I refused to give up on the chocolate. I would munch on the bar mouthful by mouthful waiting until I was almost turning blue before flushing my throat with huge gulps of Diet Coke.

 The reason for the treat, if I haven't mentioned it before, was that, incredibly, I have lost my appetite. Yesterday I roasted a pack of six chicken thighs along with some sweet potatoes (diced to about the same size as the chicken). On a good (or foolish) day I could almost have thought of it as a big snack. The reality is that I had two pieces of chicken, and two bits of sweet potato and considered myself to have eaten enough for lunch. I had two more later in the evening, and the last two for lunch today. If I could eat like that everyday I would fade away (or at least get a bit thinner). I'm not really planning on having any dinner tonight, but I am occasionally munching on some mixed fruit and nuts (once again a bag lasting ten times longer than would be usual). This is all some measure of how ill I must be.

 Like yesterday, I have been looking for any obvious hints that I am recovering. Once again there have been no dramatic changes, but a very slow lessening of some of the worst bits. Most noticeable is my reduced tissue consumption. Unless something like a violent outbreak of coughing causes my eyes to water, my nose is now running mostly dry. It may be that I am managing the impulse to cough uncontrollably whenever a large lump of sticky mucus creeps up my windpipe to tickle my throat, or it is happening a bit less recently (but not when I am actually writing about it !!). In consequence my strained chest and stomach muscles are less painful now.

 I don't think there is any way that I am going to feel fit enough to attempt to go to work tomorrow (and that is genuine and not just because it is a Friday), but if I can finally get more than a few hours sleep tonight I think I will feel that I am well on the way to recovery. I am not sure how I am still functioning on so little sleep. It's probably because I know I can try for more sleep at any time I choose, and in that I have some success. I had a long nap this afternoon before I choked my way back to consciousness. I am unsure how long "long" actually was, but I think it was over an hour, and that is a record length sleep for me in the last few days. Perhaps with the aid of some product from a distillery (but not too much) I will be able to sleep non stop for a few hours tonight, and hopefully do that several times through the night ( 10 hours non stop would be absolute heaven).

 It was just a bit later than this last night that I got the urge to write some more about how I was feeling. Reading it back today I find it hard to distinguish the style of writing between booze and sleep deprivation. I think it is different to my usual style here, but maybe I'll read this back tomorrow and it will read back like my supplement. The difference will be that it is definitely only as I write this paragraph that any booze has been involved. It is a curious writing style, but you can read yesterdays supplement here.
Wednesday 7th December 2011
09:26 GMT

  Looks can be deceptive. Ignoring how low down it is, the sun is blazing away like it yesterday morning, and it looks like a summers day. Of course it isn't. It is only 7.2 C outside, but at least that's 3 C warmer than this time yesterday. I paid little attention to the outside world yesterday, and so I can't really remember what happened later in the day except at 6pm when the weather man on TV said it was raining and it wasn't ! I think there is supposed to be a vague plan that today will be cold and sunny until sunset when it might, or might not, have another go at raining.

 I felt really quite ill yesterday. Much of it revolved around my congested lungs/windpipe. After getting very little sleep in the night I felt desperately tired, but everytime I lay down I would start coughing uncontrollably. I think there were a few times when I sustained a very light fever, and certainly times when I broke out into a sweat. The most unlikely thing was that I lost my appetite. I tried nibbling on several things, but the only thing that engaged my attention was a small tub of ice cream.

 Today there are the first glimmerings of hope that I shall get over this pestilence. I suppose the first bit of hope came during the night when I managed to fall asleep, and stay asleep for about an hour at a time, several times. So I am not quite as tired today as I thought I would be. With luck I'll be able to catch a few more hours sleep during today, and then perhaps some long periods of sleep tonight.

 One of the more obvious improvements today is that I am not going through tissues like they grow on trees. Yesterday I used enough to fill up a standard Tesco carrier bag with used ones. My nose is no longer dripping, although it does still get blocked from time to time.

 The stiff limbs and muscles I had when first attacked by the plague from hell have now gone, but one area of me is still very sore. It's round the belly area. Some of it is a sort of slightly acidy empty feeling where I have eaten so little, but far out classing that is the soreness of the muscles in that area used for coughing. Unless I get into exactly the right position it is incredibly painfull to have a really good lung busting cough, and even in the right position it is still very sore indeed.

 Today I am ging to have to do something I don't think I want to do. I need to go outside to buy some more tissues and some soft drinks. Fortunately I should be able to get both from the corner shop, but right now I feel even that small walk will feel like the march of death. At least it should give me a pointer as to whether there is any chance that I will feel well enough to go back to work tomorrow. At this end of the day it feels unlikely, but if this clears up as fast as it came on there is a small, perhaps microscopic chance that I will be OK in the morning.
Tuesday 6th December 2011
09:22 GMT

  There seems to be a reasonable chance that today will be much like yesterday. It was very cold, but fairly bright. At the moment my thermometer is saying it is 4.3 C outside. To the southeast the sun is shining, and off to the west the sky is looking worringly dark. The BBC's website reckons it will rain just after sunset.

 I felt increasingly worse yesterday morning. The chief problem was a really hacking cough that had my throat feeling extremely sore. My nose started getting slightly drippy which was not too much of a problem except when I was working on fine stuff under the microscope. Dripping on your work is never a pleasant idea ! At midday I decided to throw in the towel and go home.

 By the time I got home it felt like I was coughing up broken glass. I got some relief from a hot meal, and even more by sipping lots of whisky. Later in the afternoon I tried to sleep, but I just could not get comfortable in or on my bed. It was a most unpleasant afternoon with my throat so sore I was almost hoarse, and my neck and assorted limbs stiff and painful.

 I managed to get my bedroom up to nearly 25 C, and whether that triggered it or not, I suddenly developed a light but wonderful fever. Ideally my temperature would have risen by 2 or 3 degrees, but all it could manage was a single solitary degree. Perhaps it was enough though. It may have just been my imagination, but as my temperature peaked I felt several symptoms improve.

 It still wasn't enough to get a good nights sleep, but I did manage some long naps. Perhaps in all I got 4 or 5 hours sleep last night. This morning my symptoms have mutated into a mere standard mark 1 head cold. Many aches and pains have diminished (although if I dared to go out into the freezing air I can image all sorts of bits of me stiffening up). My cough has diminshed to just bloody annoying, and my nose is no longer occasionally dripping - it is now gushing like a burst water main !

 Needless to say, I didn't even bother to even think about going to work this morning. Maybe I might attempt it tomorrow, or maybe not. I'll see how I feel tonight, and see if I can get lots more sleep in before the morning. I expect that for much of today I'll be staying quite close to my bed with the heater on full blast.
Monday 5th December 2011
07:35 GMT

  Occasionally it shined, and occasionally it rained, but most of yesterday was just cold and grey. If I am to believe that last weather forecast I saw, today should be a lot brighter, but also even colder. The temperature when I left to come to work was just 4 C, and the maximum for today may be no more than double that.

 Yesterday was a bit of an odd day for me. I woke up annoyingly early after not getting to bed until 2am the previous night. Having woken up I decided to partially get up for a while, check my email and other stuff on my computer, and then go back to bed for a bit. "A bit" was actually quite a few hours. Having fallen asleep I didn't wake up again until midday. It is rare that I achieve that even when ill.

 After a quick wash I dressed and prepared to go out to buy some cat food, and human food as well. I bought it all from Aldi. So Smudge got her favourite turkey and chicken flavour cat food (it is back in favour again after a few days without it !), and I got a potentially useful bit of clothing. It is described as a ski top,  but to me it is a sweatshirt with zip on it. Surprisingly it seems to fit OK, and in theory it should be nice and warm for some of the bitterest days of winter when the temperature dips to several degrees below freezing.

 I only achieved one significant thing yesterday, and that was to edit, if you can call a bit of picture correction and a few titles editing, the video I took of Chain playing in The Crown pub on Friday night.

 It's far from perfect, but I was quite pleased with how well it came out. The camcorders image stabilisation must have been working overtime to keep most of the video stable as my Old Peculiar soaked body wobbled around. Ideally it could have done with a bit more light on the area of floor acting as a stage, but my new camcorder managed to pull enough clean detail out of the scene that I could boost the brightness a bit without making the picture too muddy looking.

 I tried to go to bed early last night, but after sleeping until midday it was not that easy. I think I was asleep before 10pm, but maybe not by much. I slept very badly with numerous dreams (most have faded from memory now), and woke several times in the night feeling more and more uncomfortable. At roughly 3.30am I woke up feeling awful. My arms and neck were really stiff and painful, and I decided that it felt too uncomfortable to try and go back to sleep another time.

 So I slowly started to get up. With so much time on my hands I washed my hair - something I had meant to do last night - and had a good hot shower. That helped loosen me up a lot, but I still felt, and to a lesser extent still feel rather grotty. It is probably a combination of several seperate things, or a combination of things that have their roots in one common condition. I may have a bit of a cold. I am certainly a bit chesty, and I did have a bit of a drippy nose (but that just have been the cold air outside). Whether that is enough of a reason to feel like I slept on sacks of potatoes, or not, I don't know, but that's how it felt when I woke up.

 By comparison to earlier I don't feel that awful right now, but after waking so early I feel that I am going to be feeling very tired before the end of work. I very nearly managed to get the 05:33 train this morning. It is one of my goals to get that train one day, but maybe I'd prefer it to be on a warm summers morning rather than right now. I did get the 06:03 train, and I arrived here at work at 07:08. I definitely won't be feeling guilty about leaving early tonight !!
Saturday 3rd December 2011
21:15 GMT

  I'm sure that yesterday was not as cold as the forecast suggested it would be. It was cold, but not that cold. The sunshine lasted up until around lunchtime. After that it became increasingly cloudy. During the evening there were a few light showers, and heavier showers during the night. I'm not sure when the rain stopped, but it must have been around 8am. The rest of today has been dry, and there were periods of sunshine during the afternoon. I don't know what the highest temperature was today, but as I write this it is 8.7 C outside.

 I felt dreadfully tired when I got home from work last night. It was touch and go as to whether I would go out to see Chain playing in Greenwich. I had a very light dinner, and psyched myself up to face going out in the cold and dark, and the two buses I would need to take to get to the gig. Even after that I still didn't know if I would give in and just vegetate at home instead. Then I got a text message from Jo offering me a lift to the gig. After such a generous offer I could hardly wimp out, and ended up having a good night out.

 The Crown in Trafalgar Road, Greenwich, is a very traditionally fitted out pub that I may have visited once back when I was almost a teenager (or indeed when I was a teenager), but couldn't remember, and one that no one from Chain had ever visited. So it was a bit of an unknown quantity when we arrived. My first impression, and maybe lasting impression was that it was full of "Jack the lads"/football supporter types. I was a bit uncomfortable with that, but ultimately everyone seemed friendly and enjoyed the gig.

 One of the highlights of the night was that the pub had Theakstons "Old Peculiar" on tap. I confess that I don't enjoy it quite as much as I once used to, but it is still very good, and certainly good enough to get me quite drunk ! The other highlight was that Jo got out her Thunder Tube. It is a sort of instrument that produces, as it's name implies, the sound of thunder if used to it's full extent, or a more delicate sound if used delicately. Of course the real significance of it is that she uses it while singing "A Whole Lotta Love" - a wonderful song that has been absent from their set list for far too long until last night.
Jo and her Thunder Tube
Jo and her Thunder Tube
 I took a surprising amount of pictures last night. Some of the reason was I was having some trouble with my camera. For some reason it seemed to keep switching to close up mode and losing focus. It may be that I was misoperating it in some way because I was getting rather drunk after a few pints of Old Peculiar. Being drunk may be another reason why I took so many pictures. Fortunately, having taken so many, there were many pictures that came out quite well.
Jo Corteen and Chris Mayer
 I wondered if Chain would use the fairy lights I gave them at Petts Wood again, and they did. Like some of the pictures from Petts Wood, I added a little sparkle to the picture above.
Matt sporting a moustache
 One surprise for the evening was that Matt was sitting in for Guy on the drums. It was perhaps a bigger surprise to see that he had grown a moustache since the last time I saw him (although he tells me he had started on it before playing at Petts Wood last month). I was rather pleased to get this picture catching him in dynamic drumstick wielding mode !
Chain at The Crown pub in Greenwich
 One trouble with The Crown is that it is a long thin pub, and the "stage" area is at the side of the pub at the rear. It meant that it was quite congested near the band, and many people had no chance of actually seeing them play. It is perhaps fortunate that I managed to get one reasonable video of them that I hope to process for uploading tomorrow. I used my new Sony Handycam to record it, and unlike at Petts Wood, there was just sufficient lighting to get passable pictures from it. Even more remarkable is that my drunken camera work is a lot better than I imagined it would be. The sound is a lot better than my JVC camcorder manages as well.

 I was 00:45 am when Jo and Chris dropped me off nere the fried chicken shop where I bought a pile of hot wings to supplement they meagre dinner I had eaten earlier. I was sufficiently drunk to not remember what I watched on TV as I munched my way through those hot wings. Either that, and equally as likely, was that whatever I watched was so bland as to be instantly forgettable. I do know that it was close to 2 am when I turned the light out and fell asleep very quickly.

 I woke up a couple of hours later with an agonsising hang over, but after a wee I managed to get back to sleep again. When I woke up again around 8 am the worst of the pain had gone, but I still felt very "bleurgghhhh". It was a real triumph of mind over matter that I managed to wash, dress and get some housework done before meeting Aleemah at the station just before 10:30. As usual we went to the pub for breakfast. Aleemah had her usual vegetarian breakfast, and with some trepidation I had two halves of seasonal Xmas ale. Fortunately both were pleasant, but as "hair of the dog" they did little to cure the continuing sluggishness that I felt.

 After Aleemah went home again I had some late lunch, and then did very little for the next few hours. Since then I've edited some of last nights photos, and done two loads of laundry. The next thing I should do now is to go to bed. It is well late enough, but ironically, after feeling tired for much of the day, I now feel rather wide awake. Maybe I'll do a bit of video editing, or maybe I'll try reading in bed, or...................?????????????
Friday 2nd December 2011
08:07 GMT

  We were promised that it would rain nearly all day yesterday, but there was so little rain that I can't remember any at all until very late in the evening. Being dry didn't really make up for the fact that it was almost dull and gloomy the whole day. The "almost" is because for a very short period of time there was a bit of unexpected sunshine - all 5 minutes of it ! At 5am the BBC online weather forecast predicted this..........
weather forecast for Lewisham 2nd Dec 2011
 So far only one mistake has been made. At 06:00 the sky was clear instead of cloudy, but the temperature was very close to what I measured - 5.7 C. If the rest has any relation to reality it should be a lovely bright, but bitterly cold winters day.

 I tried out the fennel that I added to my lamb heart stew last night. The only thoughts I have about it were that it was all a bit pointless. It added some bulk to the stew, but was basically tasteless. Maybe it should have been roasted. Fennel does bear some resemblance to the physical construction of onions, and they are really only tasty when roasted (or fried with sausages and/or bacon.........drool !!!!).

 Tonight's dinner is going to be an unknown quantity. It could have been lambs liver in a sort of stew, but in theory I will be going out to see Chain playing in Greenwich tonight. If I have more than a single sandwich I know I'll become too relaxed to go out into the freezing night. So initially I will just be having a sandwich, or some biscuits before going out unless I stop off and buy some shopping on the way home. I might just do that because I am just about out of squash and diet cola. If I get those on the way home I'll also get a couple of those little greasy individual pork pies. They are fairly unpleasant, particularly when eaten cold, but there is something about them that staves off hunger without making me feel too full to move, and all that cholesterol laden grease provides a good barrier against booze. No doubt many pints of Guinness will be consumed tonight if I make it to the gig.

 At this end of the day I have some nagging doubts about going out tonight. When I first woke up this morning I felt dreadful. If I didn't have to come to work today I would have taken half the morning to gradually re-animate my body, and probably by midday I would be washed and dressed, and feeling fine. I didn't have that luxury today, and I had to rush things. A hot shower helped a lot, but I still left for work with a thick head, tight chest, loose bowels, stiff hips, creaky legs, and an elbow that could do with a shot of oil. Now I am at work I don't feel nearly as bad as when I started out to come here, but I would still rather be in bed. By tonight I could feel better or worse, and I won't know that until the evening starts.
Thursday 1st December 2011
08:00 GMT

  The forecast was for some sunshine yesterday.....and there was some. The sun came out once for a few minutes, and then again a bit later, but it was not actually visible from where I was standing that second time. Where I was standing it was lightly raining, but the sun did manage to light up a feint rainbow. The light showers of fine rain continued on and off for much of the afternoon, and on the whole it was a rather gloomy day. Today promises to be worse. The forecast is for showers all day. There is supposed to be rain even now, but although the sky is very leaden, and there was rain during the night, there is no actual rain falling now. Perhaps less rain will fall than predicted, but that still doesn't stop it being a dull, gloomy, lifeless sort of day.

 Talking of lifeless. As my train pulled into Earlsfield station I couldn't help but notice that half a dozen or so graves in the adjacent cemetary had candles lit on them. They didn't seem very flickery, and may have been electronic candles. I have noticed this before on dark morning, and I am left wondering what it is all about. I presume there are still people around who are so remarkably primitive that they think that think that the candles will guide the souls of the dead back to their bodies. Even if I were to believe in the existence of souls, I can't think why they would want to return to a cold, decaying, maggot ridden body. When I die you can chuck my body in the river and let nature take it's course. Then if anyone is so unenlightened that they need a memorial they can chalk "Bill, woz 'ere" on some convenient wall I might have passed once. My memorial will actually just be a few pages remembered on the wayback machine for once I die my server, that serves these pages, will inevitably die with me.

 I really can't remember if I ate a lot or little last night. It was presumably a lot considering that I did some shopping in Tesco on the way home from work last night. I treated myself to some hot cooked chicken, and I treated Smudge to some as well. I also ate some "traditional pumpkin pie" that I found on the reduced price counter. I've never tried pumpkin pie before, or at least I can't remember trying it before, so last night was an interesting experiment. The result of that experiment was that I concluded that it was ok - not good, not bad, but completely forgettable.

 Tonights dinner could be good, or it could be bad. It is basically a stew with lamb heart as the core ingredient. As well as some new potatoes, shallots, and green beans, I am trying out another thing for what I believe may be the first time. I noticed a fennel with a half price sticker on it last night, and thought I would buy it. I am aware that it has a mild liquorice taste, and I think I have eaten in, or with something, somewhere, before, but as far as I am aware I have never cooked with it before. I am unsure how to prepare it, and cook it in any conventional sense. I just trimmed off where the root was attached, and trimmed it back a little where the top(s) had been cut off where it had been prepared for sale. Then I just diced it up into big lumps and threw those in the pot with the other ingredients. Now I just hope that cooking it doesn't give it some sort of unpleasant texture, and that the flavour goes well with lamb heart, although I can't help but think it would go better with pork.