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My Diary/Blog For the Month of October 2011

Monday 31st October 2011
08:04 GMT

  Yesterday evening was almost warm, and it was dry. This morning is the same. Before I left for work my thermometer said it was 16 C, and apparently that will be the highest temperature today (although the weather forecast for this morning did assume that the day would start at 14 C.) The reason for this close to, but not quite, warmth is the heavy layer of cloud above us. Sunshine is unlikely today, but apparently so is any rain. We live in hope !

 As much as I applaud this mild weather it does have it's downsides. Several things have conspired together to make for a very sweaty journey into work. First of all I had some very sugary things which I can only describe as a sort of cross between a biscuit and a cake. I ate too many of those last night, and that has raised my blood sugar level. Moving on to this morning. I had a long hot shower, and washed my hair. All that hot water made me feel quite hot. Then there is all the rushing around, up and down stairs etc that coming to work involves. Add to that the heating on the train being on full, and a brisk walk from the station to work, and it all adds up to arriving at work with a wet forehead, and wet armpits ! Going out without drying my hair also added to the damp effect.

 I have to admit that there were certain charms in leaving home just as the sun rose. I am sure that if the sky had been clear it would have been a nice sunrise. Travelling to work in daylight was nice enough, but I can't help but feel pessimistic about how short the evening are going to be now. It won't be long before I'll be back to travelling to work in the dark, and no more than a week or two before I get home after dark.
Sunday 30th October 2011
19:33 GMT

  On the whole, yesterday was rather mild. There was no much in the way of sunshine (or was there none at all ? I can't seem to remember). During the early of this morning I think there was some rain, and once or twice today I could feel a few drops of moisture on my face. Once again there was no notable sunshine today, but it has been very mild with the temperature up around 18 C. It has been so mild that apart from taking the chill off first thing in the morning, I haven't needed any heating on at all.

 After staying up late editing video and stuff following the gig on Friday night, I took it very easy yesterday morning. I think it was probably gone 11 am before I washed and dressed properly. Even after that I didn't really get up to much until I got myself ready to go out to see Chain playing the Halloween party at The British Oak pub in Blackheath. I was very privileged to be picked up from home, and delivered back home again by Jo and Chris.

 It was a rather fantastic evening at The British Oak - several new songs, fancy dress, and being manhandled (or should that be womanhandled ?) to dance for a few moment (if you can call some awkward and leaden footed moves dancing !). I didn't actually wear fancy dress myself. I considered that my face combined with being dressed from head to foot in black was probably scary enough. Many did wear fancy dress, and no more so than Matt was was standing in for Steve on the bass while Steve was away visiting people (maybe family) in Scotland.
Matt as the devil
Matt's perfect make-up
 Apparently it took Matt something like 3 hours to apply all the face putty and make up for the really fantastic effect pictured above. I am sure he said he had only done something similar once before, and yet the results were really professional looking. Chris (lead guitar) went for the hunchbacked goblin look.
Chris as a hunchbacked hobgoblin
Chris as a hunchbacked hobgoblin
 Maybe I have previously unrealised fetishes, but I thought that Jo dressed up in widows weeds as Morticia looked very lovely.
Jo as Morticia
I decided this picture of Jo looking rather lovely didn't need any red eye reduction
Jo as Morticia
I must be a closet goth fan to think this looks really good !
 As can be seen in the background of the previous pictures, the pub was dressed up in fancy dress too. This even extended to an area of the pub beer garden !
graves in The British Oak beer garden
grave stones, rats, spiders, bones and bits of limb in the pub beer garden !
 One of the oddities of the night that may have lessened another oddity was that the bar was not as busy as usual, but it was still very difficult to get to. So I actually drank less than I might have otherwise have done. Had I drank a lot more I might have given in the the advances of a rather tipsy woman who wanted to dance with me. I was very flattered by her demands, but I just don't really dance. She was very drunkenly insistent, and she did manage to get a few leaden footed moves out of me - actually much more than my previous "tormentor", Chris (the lady, not Chris the guitarist) had managed. Maybe, just maybe, if I did have a few more beers in me, and/or we were not dancing on our own, I may have done more - particularly the close contact stuff that did feel rather good :-)
dancing at The British Oak
my "dancing partner" !
 There were just two things that slightly spoiled the end of the day for me. The first was that as the gig finsihed I began to feel really tired, and secondly I started to feel a bit uncomfortable with trapped wind. The latter was a particular nuisance while I was being taken home. Had I been walking in the fresh air it may have well sorted itself out, and in the fresh air that would not have mattered. Inside Jo and Chris' car was another matter ! Originally they were going to drop me off in the middle of Catford, but decided to drop me off outside my front door. I couldn't really finds words to express my gratitude for that as I rushed inside and up to the toilet (where nothing actually happened initially).

 I didn't get to bed until gone 1am (BST) this morning, but I don't think it was much later than that. I was wide awake again at 7am (GMT). I had ideas about going back to bed again, but in the end I didn't, although I didn't get washed and dressed until much later. Nothing of any great significance happened until 11am when I went to Aldi to get some shopping in, and then nothing happened until I went to The London And Rye pub to meet Jodie.

 I had offered my old Android mobile phone to Jodie, and she accepted it. Maybe that was a mistake because after two pnts in the pub we came back here so I could set up the phone for her, register a giffgaff simcard for it, and attempt to explain to her how to use it. Teaching Jodie about technology is an interesting experience, and that's probably all I ought to say about it. Things became particularly frustrating when I showed her how to download apps for it.

 The one app she really wanted was the infamous "Angry Birds". That game pushes that old phone to it's limits. I've never actually seen the game before, but I had heard that it plays extremely slowly on old phones like my old HTC/T_Mobile G1 phone, and it did. So Jodie was caught between being a bit frustrated, and at the same time highly excited by being able to play the game. This sapped all her concentration, and made trying to teach her stuff difficult.

 Several hours later she seemed to get the hang of it, or at least the basics, and announced that she would practice on it later. At the moment she is going to use her old phone under her current contract, but if she likes the new phone she will probably want to port her old number over to the new simcard. I can see that is going to be a headache talking her through that, but hopefully she'll get there in the end. (If you actually read the very simple words on the giffgaff website it is all very simple, but I know several people who can't seem to follow simple instructions written in a few black on white words).

 Since Jodie went home I've relaxed eating some dinner, and watching TV. Now I can feel my bed beckoning. According to my body clock I get an extra hour in bed tomorrow morning. At least I think that's the way it works. Contrary to what I think I wrote earlier, more of my morning journey to work will be in daylight now - not that it will last for long. The depressing thing is that with that extra bit of daylight in the morning there will come less daylight in the evening. I feel it won't be too long before I'll be arriving home in the dark, and that is not nice ! On a more upbeat note, here's a couple more pictures of last night.
the words to Monster Mash
First rehearsal of "Monster Mash", and simultaneous actual performance in one (it sounded fine)
Chain in fancy dress
group photo at the end of the gig
group photo at the end of the gig
Saturday 29th October 2011
10:14 BST

  It turned out nice yesterday. Once the sun had risen we had plenty of sunshine. The air was still cool, but sheltered from the breeze, the sun felt deliciously hot. I don't know what the highest temperature was yesterday, but I do know that I was perfectly comfortable coming home from work with no coat on, and my shirtsleeves rolled up. Today has started off a bit murky, but I have high hopes that there will be more sunshine later on.

 Last night was an excellent night, and it did make all the tedium of the week worthwhile. Two or more executives were retiring from Lewisham Council, and as has happened a few times in the past they had their leaving celebrations in The Catford Ram (the pub being just at the back of the Town Hall), and once again they hired Chain to play for a few hours. So much to my joy there was another early evening gig round the corner to go to.

 Being a retirement celebration there were quite a few old people there, and on a couple of occasions it was like glee night in an old peoples home with some quite matronly looking woman jigging around to the music :-) It all made for a very lively night. You might think that with a lot of older people there some songs would not go down too well, but as I have to remind myself (frequently) that they were the songs we grew upon. Songs like Paranoid !

 It was way back on the 27th May this year that I think Chain first performed Paranoid, and that was in The Catford Ram as well. It was really amazing to hear it, and it went down a storm. Last night performance was no exception, and it probably drew the biggest applause of the night.

 Since Chain first played it I had been waiting for an opportunity to video it. Ideally I wanted it played somewhere with plenty of light, and ideally where I could set up several camcorders. That wasn't the case last night, but I did have my little JVC mini camcorder with me, and just went for it. With copious amounts of Guinness inside me, and no tripod it is a rather wobbly in places, and the sound from that little camcorder is never that great, but I think the video captures the essence of the song rather well.

 After the gig I went home and had some dinner. I took a bit of a chance by leaving a steak and ale pie in the oven on a very low gas while I was at the gig, and happily I found a nice hot pie waiting for me when I got home instead of a cinder. I watched a bit of TV while eating, but it was not long before curiosity got the better of me and I had to review what was on my camcorder.

 As I expected it was a bit murky under the poor lighting of the stage area of the pub, and needed a bit of enhancing. By then the after effects of the Guinness were kicking in, and I started to develop a bad headache. Even so, I was so keen to do something with the video of Paranoid that I did my best to ignore the headache and set about doing some post production work on it. Having done that I decided I may as well upload it to You Tube, and that is what I did.

 I finally got to bed sometime after 11 pm, and I slept right through to 7.30 am. Since then I have done some basic housework - emptying a few bins, and cleaning up Smudge's litter tray. Now I have nothing important to do until early this evening. Tonight Chain are playing again at The British Oak in Blackheath - something I didn't realise until last night.

 Tonight's gig is Halloween themed, and Chain will be performing 3 (or 5) new songs so it looks like I just have to be there. On these cold dark nights my enthusiasm for going out in the evening is waning a bit, or maybe even quite a lot, and after having seen Chain last night I might have decided not to go. However, with no prompting, I have been offered a lift there (and hopefully back again) by Jo and Chris, andthat is not an opportunity to be wasted. It looks like copious amounts of Guinness again tonight !!
Friday 28th October 2011
07:50 BST

  The only significant rain yesterday fell in the early afternoon, and even then it was rarely that heavy. By the time I left work it had stopped again, and I don't think it rained again until I was safely tucked up in bed. The cloud stayed long enough to keep the temperature up to 13 C when I woke up, and now the cloud appears to be dispersing rapidly. I can see lots of blue sky now, and once the sun has risen a bit higher we may be lucky enough to have a sunny day. If this morning's weather forecast contains any truth it will cloud over again as sunset approaches, and then we'll have more rain.

 Moving on a generation of mobile phones has turned out well in a couple of ways. One of the improvements that is most obvious with my new phone is the sensitivity, and speed of the GPS satelite navigation receiver. The best of my old phones could take an annoying amount of time to lock onto sufficient satelites to give accurate readings, but my new phone just seems so much faster. The wifi receiver also seems more sensitive, and more tolerant of odd glitches. The ability to install some applications that would not install on my old phone because it was running an earlier version of Android is also a bonus, but I do still miss not having a real keyboard on the new phone.

 Last night was a very quiet night - very much the same as most nights - but tonight, all being well, will make staying alive all week worth it. Chain are playing in The Catford Ram, and I'll be there enjoying good music and copious amounts of beer. After that the tedium of life sets in again until the Saturday after tomorrow (if I have my dates correct), although I may be going for a quick beer Sunday lunchtime. So that's another thing to look forward to.
Thursday 27th October 2011
08:14 BST

  It may have been a hesitant start, but autumn has definitely settled in now. There was very little sunshine yesterday, and the morning rain continued intermittently for a lot of the morning. The afternoon was mostly dry, but I could feel some light rain hitting my face as I walked home from the station last night.

 There was more rain last night, but it seemed to have stopped some time before I left to come to work. While no rain is falling, everything is dripping wet outside. The sky is very leaden right now, and the chances of more rain today are very high. Perhaps the one saving grace is that at 12 C when I left to come to work, it was not too chilly, and my thin hooded rain jacket was completely adequate to keep me comfortable.

 I went home via Tesco last night where I bought some stuff. They had Jameson's Irish whisky at 5 off. So I bought a bottle of that. For some unknown reason I decided that some pies might be a good idea, and I bought two on a 2 for 5 offer. I also bought some hot chicken. My timing must have been perfect because there was a lot of hot chicken marked down at half price to clear the shelves at the end of the day.

 I theory I could have had a huge feast last night, but it turned out that my eating was comparatively modest. The reason for this is that I had a big distraction. Yesterday I received a new mobile phone I had ordered via amazon.co.uk (who are frequently cheaper, and a lot safer than ebay !). I paid 90 plus 4.50 postage - an identical phone on ebay has just been sold for 92 plus 5 postage ! The phone I bought was an Orange "San Francisco".
Orange San Franscisco Android phone
 The San Francisco is the Orange brand name for a ZTE "Blade". It is a budget Android phone by price, but not by features. In act when it was first released it gained rave reviews for just how well featured it was, and how cheap it was. Having now played with it for real I can confirm those reviews really were right. It really is a rather excellent smart phone. It is moderately faster than my old phone, and it runs a new version of Android than my old phone is really capable of. Many applications now need Android 2.1 and upwards. It was because some of my favourite applications on my old phone were starting not to work that I decided I needed to upgrade.

 Although the phone was originally supplied, and locked to Orange, mine had already been unlocked for any network, but it hadn't been "de-branded" and was stuff full of Orange centric applications that couldn't be removed. I couldn't even change the home page of the web browser. It just had to go, and it did ! Last night, within just 5 or 6 hours of owning the phone, I rooted it, and then installed a brand free ROM which just had the standard Google Android default applications. Of course after that there were more applications to download from the Google Market and install, and I installed my favourites last night as well.

 The one thing I don't like about the phone is the same thing I don't like about most smart phones - no physical keyboard. My old HTC G1 phone had a flip-out keyboard, and that made composing text messages, or even longer email messages so easy to do. The new phone, like most smart phones, just has an on-screen keyboard which with my big sausage like fingers, hard to use accurately, and is very slow to use because of that. One solution is a mini external, bluetooth connected keyboard. I have bought one, and it does work, but it is not really suitable to use while standing up in the middle of the street. It comes into it's own when sitting down, in a pub perhaps, with the phone and keyboard on a table. Then composing stuff is fairly easy.
Wednesday 26th October 2011
08:17 BST

  The wrong forecast was the right forecast ! The forecast I had seen on Monday regarding yesterday turned out to be far more accurate than the forecast seen yesterday morning. Quite why the forecasters changed their mind at the last minute is a mystery, but their earlier idea that it would rain around 4pm yesterday, turned out to be correct.

 The first rain fell sometime after lunchtime, and although it was intermittent, it probably carried on through much of the night. It wasn't particularly heavy. At least the rain I personally encountered was not that heavy. The worst was probably as I walked from the station to home. Some of the rain drop were quite big, but there were not that many of them. I didn't even bother to do my coat up, and I arrived home with my shirt front barely damp.

 This morning the rain has been more severe - at least in places it has. No rain was falling when I left home, and the first I encountered was at Clapham Junction station. I was under cover so the rather heavy downpour didn't affect me directly, but it was enough to produce a flash of lightning followed a few seconds later by a peal of thunder. Quite big chunks of blue sky have appeared since then, but the outlook is for more rain during today.

 I was not sure what to have for dinner last night. I knew that I didn't have much at home that didn't need a lot of preparation, and I had one fleeting idea that a takeaway curry might be nice. Then common sense took hold again, and I remembered that I still had a pile of cooked rice in the fridge. Then I remembered I had a large can of (alleged) chilli con carne that I had bought from Aldi, and it needed testing. So dinner last night was chilli con carne on rice. The canned chilli con carne was probably pretty much how I expected it to be. It was far too mild and needed lots of chilli sauce to pep it up, and I am not sure if diced carrots are common in chilli con carne, but then again I have no idea what authentic chilli con carne should be like, or even if there is such a thing as authentic chilli con carne ! Despite these shortcoming it was actually rather tasty (once I had added the extra chilli sauce). I think I'll stock up on a few more cans when I am in Aldi next.

 I have mixed feelings about how I feel this morning. If I ignore the discomfort from incorrectly adjusted underpants for half my journey to work, and the trainers I am wearing feeling a bit tight around the toes after putting in a new insole, and maybe a couple more insignificant gripes, one thing stands out. That one thing is my right elbow.

 I think it was probably around 15 years ago now that I had a minor accident while getting out of a car in pitch darkness. I stumbled in the dark and I am sure I partly dislocated my right elbow. Initially I was more worried about the graze on my knee, but after a while my elbow became incredibly painful. This all happened late at night, and before my elbow became too painful to use I just about managed to get dressed again, having initially gone to bed, and wandered up the road to the hospital.

 By the time I was actually seen my elbow was agonising to move, and to make matters worse all my muscles were cramping as I tried my best to hold the elbow as still as possible. After much agony trying to get my elbow in the right position fro an x-ray, a couple of snapshots were taken, and the doctor seeing me said it was just soft tissue damage, and offered a bandage. For weeks, almost getting on for months, afterwards I couldn't bend my arm straight, and the elbow remained very sore.

 Fortunately Frankenstein came to my rescue. While repairing a TV (my job at the time) I received a small electric shock. At any other time this would have been no big deal, but this ocasion was very different. My automatic reflexes came in, and I pulled my hand back away from the shock - just as usual - but in doing so I bent my elbow more than I could tolerate at that time. As I did so it felt like a bolt of lightning went up my arm, and suddenly my elbow was free and working properly again. My theory is that the elbow popped back into it's socket after being dislocated since the accident.

 After that any residual tenderness very quickly faded away, and everything seemed to be back to normal. Last winter, on some of the very cold days, I noticed some stiffness and pain from the elbow. Over the last few days I have noticed that returning, and although damp it is hardly cold yet. I am concerned that in the depths of winter it is going to cause me excessive discomfort. Well it can't be long now until the first snows of the new globally warmed winter fall, and I'll see if my worries are relevant or not.
Tuesday 25th October 2011
08:00 BST

  Yesterday was very mild, and some say it was unusually mild for this time of year, but looking at what I wrote at this time last year, it only seems to differ in that there was more rain a year ago.  We did have rain yesterday, but it did the sensible thing and only came down while I was safely in bed. This morning there are a few puddles, but there is no hint of any further rain, and as the sky begins to get light I can see some small patches in amongst the grey. The morning started at a little over 13 C, and with luck it will be 16 or 17 C when I go home from work. Yesterday's forecast suggested there could be some light rain then, but overnight the weather forecasters re-checked their seaweed, and announced this morning that it will be dry and sunny. It will probably snow :-)

 It's hard to come up with an explanation as to why Sunday was so boring when yesterday wasn't. Maybe it was just a state of mind. Yesterday I did a bit of laundry, but that hardly engages me for long, but I also did a bit of engineering work. I finally got around to finishing a small project that I invented during the summer.

 It was way back in the earlier part of the summer, as I recall, when Chain played at The Hither Green Festival, and I got some great shots of Matt's drumming by using my ultra lightweight tripod with the legs extended but folded in, and held at arms length as a sort of crane to let the camcorder look down on the drum kit. It was a spur of the moment idea, and I was so pleased with it I thought I ought to try and make something that would be a bit better.

 A few months back I noticed some fold up walking sticks in one of the local shops that sell cheap junk, and I bought two of them for little more than a couple of pounds apiece. When assembled they are very lightweight, and about 3ft long. A few minor modifications allows two to be joined together. The finishing touch was to add a camera mount to the end of it.  Yesterday the whole thing came together after some drilling, sawing, and cursing. I can now wave one of my lighter cameras about 6ft above my head, or more usefully I can now take semi-aerial shots of drummers, or any other musicians who happens to be below my camera lens. All I have to do now is to await a suitable gig - probably next summer :-(

 In between the laundry, cursing, swearing, cutting, drilling, experimentation and the onset of evening I did lay on my bed, to read for a bit, and then fall asleep for maybe as long as an hour. That extra sleep, plus the extra 90 minutes or so I had in the morning, meant that I was not very sleepy when I went to bed last night. Instead of being asleep before 9.30pm, as I might have liked to be, I was still awake to see 11 pm displayed on the clock. I think I was asleep a few minutes after that though.

 This morning I woke up half an hour earlier after only getting five and a half hours of, as far as I can recall, non stop sleep. That's not that much sleep, and I will be doing my best today to non dwell on the idea that I am going to be tired out before lunchtime, and totally exhausted by home time. Right now I feel fairly good. I didn't have any urges to rush around as I made my way to work, but I also didn't feel any reason why I couldn't rush if I had wanted to.
Monday 24th October 2011
07:27 BST

  The reasonable weather continued yesterday afternoon, and is extending to today. My outside thermometer is telling me it is a non too chilly 11 C right now. That is supposed to rise to a better than expected 16 C by 4 pm, and most of the day should be bright and sunny. Rain might, or might not, be expected tomorrow.

 Yesterday afternoon was intensely boring. I managed to sleep through a bit of it as I lay on my bed drifting in and out of sleep soon after dinner. Then the only entertainment was to watch some TV. Some of it was OK, but I really wanted to be doing something else, and I couldn't think just what that something else was. A considerable quanity of dark rum in the evening managed to quench my brain, and I managed to get some good sleep in last night.

 My head does feel a bit thick this morning, but that is not the reason what I am taking today off work. After being so bored yesterday I would not let something so trivial as a hangover keep me away from something that would occupy my mind. Even commuting can be ever so slightly better than desperately trying to find some entertainment on the TV (but not much).

 The reason I am taking today off work is medical. The large boil I had on my inner thigh about a month ago has flared up again. It is partly because I didn't care for it properly last time (there's not much I could do about it at work apart from walk around with soggy underpants), and it is partly because I have probably allowed my blood sugar level to rise too high recently.

 Today, or at least for some of this morning, I am going to keep that boil clean and dry except when encouraging it to drain properly (the thing I was unable to do at work last time). Getting it to drain properly is a painful process, and leaves the area around it rather tender, although maybe less tender than before it burst. So one of the things that would do me good - walking - is off the menu for a good few hours yet until it all settles down. Maybe later in the morning I'll go for a short walk or something, but for now it is frequent trips to the bathroom where I can squeeze and wash to my hearts content !

 It was probably having to get up in the middle of the night to deal with the first eruption of the boil that enabled me to remember another dream with some clarity. It is too complex to explain, but the setting was one that in various guises appears in many of my dreams. For last night it was Rushey Green telephone exchange where I once used to work. I guess it was one of the places where I had a lot of good times.

 In last nights dream I visited it some years after the place was converted from a huge electro-mechanical exchange to a small compact digital exchange. A few fixtures and fittings were still recognisable such as the key cabinet still on the wall in the same place, but with all the equipment gone it seemed very big and empty.

 It was after I woke up, and while I was trying to commit to memory some of the dream that I was struck by a strange bit of trivia. Thinking about that key cabinet still in it's old place on the wall, I suddenly remembered, for no apparent reason, that key number nine was for the cable chamber. The cable chamber is like a cellar, and is where all the cables come in from the street outside. Nothing much used to go on down there, but on one occasion we probably broke several million regulations and tried to store a barrel of home brewed beer down there. It seemed the ideal temperature, but for some reason the beer tasted awful ! In reality something probably went wrong during the fermentation, and storing the barrel down there had nothing to do with it tasting so bad.
Sunday 23rd October 2011
14:20 BST

  It's difficult to complain about the weather. Compared to the seasonal average it is, or so we are told, warmer, drier, and sunnier than it would normally be for this time of the year. Apart from being a little bit warmer, today is quite similar to yesterday. There has been plenty of low in the sky, rather dazzling sunshine, and with very little wind, it has felt quite comfortable outside. With a few useful hours of sunshine to go, the temperature is approaching 17 C as I write this.

 It is those "useable hours of sunshine" where things are really lacking. It gets dark so early now that I just want to go to bed far to early, and it is a bind to get up, and travel to work in darkness. At the moment my journey into work actually ends after sun rise, but it can't be long before I arrive at work in darkness, and then it won't be too long before I leave work in darkness.

 It takes some getting use to, and while I do get used to it I find it is affecting me in negative ways. Last night I would have liked to go and see Chain play in The Oval Tavern in Croydon, but as the time approached when I should have left home all  my enthusiasm just drained away. The silly thing is that I didn't end up in bed early, but stayed up almost as late as if I had been to the gig. On the plus side I was able to watch a TV play called "Holy Flying Circus". It was about all the fury that erupted when the Monty Python team released their movie "The Life Of Brian".

 Yesterday morning was comparatively busy compared to mid afrernoon onwards. I rushed around doing some light housework, and then I went to meet Aleemah at the station. First we visited the pub where I had two halves of ale, and she had a vegetarian breakfast. Then I dragged her around Aldi to buy some more cat litter, and some assorted food for me. Finally we watched the movie "Source Code" together.

 It was an interesting film, but nothing like I imagined it would be. With a name like source code I assumed it was to be a dramatisation of the Free Software Foundation's battle to get the source code for Android 3.2 out of Google - or at least something to do with computer software. In a way it was , but only to the extent that the plot involved some peice of software called source code, although some dubious bio engineering was overlaid over that, and that in turn was ovelaid by typical Hollywood explosions and other assorted violence.

 By about 2.30 pm Aleemah had gone home, and I prepared to waste the rest of the day. Today I did a bit of activity in the morning. I emptied a couple of waste bins, did some laundry, and did some writing. Other than that, I am probably going to waste the rest of today.

 All this lazing around, and eating more than is ideal is having a negative impact on my health. Various bits of me are not running at full efficiency, and I have had a couple of subtle hints that I am probably going through a period of high blood pressure again. While I am not doing anything more strenuous than breathing and blinking I feel fine, but the idea of doing any more seems like it will be just too much like hard work, and so I don't do it. I can't say it gives me any joy to think that I'll be back at work tomorrow, but I know after a couple of days of it I will feel better - and even more so if some sort of miracle inspiration comes along to distract me from getting bored and eating in the evening.
Friday 21st October 2011
07:56 BST

  I can't seem to recall much sunshine as was forecast for yesterday. There may have been more than I remember this morning, but to me the more significant thing was that the lack of wind made it feel a lot less cool than the temperature may have suggested. This morning started out milder than yesterday thanks to a cloudy night. Those same clouds are going to spoil the chances of sunshine today (if I recall correctly). They are the result of warmer damp air being blown in. So the temperatures are set to rise again, but at the possible expense of rain. They were saying on TV last night that this coming Sunday could see the daytime temperature peak at 20 C. After that it is likely to be downhill again, all the way to deep winter !

 Work has been very busy this week - which is a bit of a shock to the system - and I've been more than glad to get home again when work finishes. Today is particularly delicious with the weekend firmly in sight. Last night I felt I had a bit of energy left when I got home, and that meant I somehow found time to do some reading and writing after watching the 6 pm news on TV. The reading was quite a few pages from this week's New Scientist that I bought in Tesco on the way home from work. The writing was an email and an alternative blog entry (which turned out to be a lot longer than I thought it would be).

 While in Tesco I bought more food - some for me, and some for Smudge. I am not sure if the effort of lugging it all home was worth the saving of 52p from buying two 6 packs of Whiskers Supermeat cat food, but I did it anyway. For me I bought some of that very naughty, but very nice, precooked hot chicken that Tesco sells. I made things worse by accompanying the hot chicken with a couple of bags of crisps. They were salt free crisps. So maybe not as bad as they could be, and I did acompany the crisps with over a half a bag of salad leaves with aromatic leaves.

 For tonight I bought some much maligned ready meals. They are "buy three for 3" packs of beef curry with rice. Something that has always bothered me about curry ready meals is why they don't do a lamb one. You can get chicken, beef and prawn, but never lamb. Ideally I would want a nice hot spicy lamb with lentils curry (often called a persian curry in most of the local curry shops). One day some enterprising person at Tesco will realise there is a gap in the market to  be exploited, and I'll get what I desire.

 Fantasy land, or other dimensions, or alternate realities do, most definitely exist, and I had a wonderful trip to the outer limits while sleeping last night. I showed a workmate how to get from work through non existent streets, to an unreal shop, in an alternative version of Catford, to buy a non-existent product as a birthday gift for someone I have never heard of. The non-existent product was an unlikely add-water-and-freeze ice cream mix with a flavour so strange that my mind has forbidden me to remember it. It was a truly fascinating experience.

 Tonight I hope I can have another interesting time like that, but before then I have to make sure that I don't get carried away doing stuff instead of getting to bed. With tomorrow being a Saturday I can look forward to getting up a lot slower than I have to during the week, but I can't spend too long in bed. I have a visitor tomorrow, and I'll need to do some extensive tidying up (as usual !) before she arrives. Hopefully she will bring an interesting DVD with her (usually I like what she brings, but there have been a few occasions................).
Thursday 20th October 2011
07:58 BST

  Someone, somewhere would have experienced the downpour forecast for just when I was going home last night, but all I ever saw was a minute or two of very light rain. It took a wait of maybe 15 seconds for a second tiny drip of rain to hit my mobile phone screen while I was reading it on the platform at Waterloo East station. The rain was slightly heavier as I walked from the station to home. During the 6 or 7 minutes the walk takes I accumulated as many as 20 individual drips of rain on my shirt. I think that rain was over before I arrived home, and I am sure nothing significant happened later

 Overnight the cloud disappeared, and the temperature dropped. It didn't produce the frost that was forecast, but all the parked cars were dripping with condensation. When I woke up at 5 am my outside thermometer said it was 4 C. Just before I left to get my train the temperature had dropped a full half degree. So we did come close to a frost, and it can't be long before the first one happens in Catford. Today is forecast to be sunny, but temperatures are not forecast to get much higher than 11 C.

 Unusually for a cold autumn day, I had a salad for dinner last night. The day before I had opened a large tin of pink salmon as a treat for Smudge when she appeared to be off her food. Fortunately I only put a little out for her because she turned her nose up at that too. I kept the rest in the fridge and thought it best to use it up last night. I had some mixed salad leaves left over from some baguette making experiments earlier in the week, and some tomatoes. I used all the salad leaves, a few tomatoes, and padded the salad out with some ready prepared crispy onions and some pickled peppers. With a generous amount of salad cream it almost satisfied me until I accidently opened a bag of Aldi's recently introduced 39p bags of peanuts. You get a surprising amount for 39p, and I ate them all.

 It may be that a couple of days of getting a bit closer, but still far from, healthy eating has left me feeling a bit brighter this morning. Alternatively, and possibly more likely, I have now got over the mild 'flu that was triggered by my 'flu vaccination last Saturday. I woke up this morning in my rather cool bedroom sweating. That suggests I had a fever sometime before I woke up, although even with my bedroom at only 15 C when I stepped out of bed after waking up I didn't feel shivery. If it was a fever it had obviously passed some time before I woke up.

 There is a third possibility for while I feel better than recently. I have to confess that I have been suffering from a "boil on the bum". This particular bit of nastiness was not on my inner thigh, as has happened several times in the past, but actually on my right buttock adjacent to my "builders cleavage". As you can probably imagine it was not in the best place for comfort. While it did cause me a lot of discomfort, at least it had the decency to burst last night instead of at work, although doing so at 1 am, while I was in bed, was not the best timing. It is still rather tender, but a magnitude less than it was at it's worst.The main problem now is that it has started leaking again. It was dry when I left home, but rocking and rolling around on a train seat has obviously opened it up again. It would be preferable not to have to walk around in damp underpants, but here at work there is little I can do about it.

 It's Thursday, and while that is cause for celebration because it means tomorrow is Friday, it is also when this weeks edition of New Scientist appears on the shelves of, amongst other places, the shelves of Tesco. Looks like I'll be calling in at Tesco on the way home from work tonight. I wonder what goodies I'll find to tempt me off the path of eating righteousness tonight ?
Wednesday 19th October 2011
07:56 BST

  On the whole, yesterday was quite a sunny day, but the cold wind kept the temperature down to a chilly 14 or 15 C. Once or twice the wind dropped and the air became still. In that still air the sun felt wonderfully hot, and it is a shame it didn't last longer. The clear sky lasted overnight, and that did two things. It gave the morning air stunning clarity, and it allowed the temperature to drop to 6 C.

 The air seemed so transparent this morning that even with all the light pollution of London the constellation of Orion stood out from the other stars and moon. Even the low flying planes (we are only a half a dozen miles from Heathrow airport here at work) seemed to be unusually sharply defined against the blue sky.

 The weather forecast for today, and tomorrow morning is none too pleasant. Much of today will be cold, bright and sunny, but if the forecasters seaweed is properly calibrated it will pour with rain just as I am going home from work. Then tomorrow morning we have been warned to expected the first real frost of the season. In london the temperature will hover a bit above zero, but further out it will dip as low as -6 C in some places.

 I am not entirely sure how I feel this morning. Rushing around during my commute to work seemed like hard work this morning, but I think a lot of that is due to the cold air. My joints and muscles feel more free than yesterday, but sucking in very cold air left me feeling slightly out of breath when I tried to rush too fast. From the way that it seemed easy to overtake other commuters I guess others have felt that cold and slowed down too.

 One thing that feels a bit odd is that for now it feels like I had enough sleep last night, and yet I am sure I was awake for quite a long time in the early hours of the morning. Of course it could all have been a very long dream, or even a dream within a dream, but the way I remember it was that I had a dream that the old Radio Caroline boat, in the days when they used to broadcast from the high seas, had been fitted with a nuclear reactor. I am sure I woke up at that point and lay awake considering all the possibilities such a thing would bring. On reflection, maybe I was awake for a lot less than I thought I was because some of the things that I think I brought to mind were far from practical, and more the stuff of dreams.

 Last night I could have gone to Tesco to buy something for dinner, but I decided that it might be nice to have soup for dinner, and I keep a small stock of cans of soup. One can of tomato soup, with one semi stale finger roll, and a sprinkling of grated Italian cheese (it's supposed to be Parmesan, but I don't think the container actually mentions Parmesan - it's probably made in the wrong village) would certainly have been healthy apart from some missing vitamins and other nutriments. I didn't stop at one can, and went on to have a can of lentil and bacon soup. When that didn't satisfy I opened up a large can of French pork and lentil soup. I think that was still fairly low fat, but probably a bit high in salt, and most definitely high in lentils. All those lentils are going to have an interesting effect once they reach the other end. High fibre ? You ain't seen nothing yet !!
Tuesday 18th October 2011
07:52 BST

  After a bright morning it gradually clouded over yesterday. As I walked to the station to go home I felt a few drops of rain on my face. At Waterloo I saw a drop of rain hit the screen on my mobile phone as I read part of an e-book to while away 6 minutes until my train arived. Back in Catford I felt at least 6 or 7 drops of rain hit my face as I walked home. After that I wasn't really aware of what was happening outside until 8pm when it became obvious that the rain that had been forecast just over an hour earlier arrived two hours befoe it was forecast to. It became quite heavy, and it was accompanied by strong gusty winds.

 This morning everything is calm again. The sky is clear in some parts, and in others it is filled with mottled clouds thin enough to see the blue behind them. The forecast is for the middle part of the day to be very sunny, and looking out my window makes me think that might just be possible. The gusty wind has gone away, but there is obviously more wind out there than seems obvious. That is the only way to account for the fact that I feel far colder this morning than my thermometer would suggest I ought to feel.

 There could be an alternative explanation to why I feel cold, and that is some sort of illness. It seems unlikely that a reaction to my 'flu jab could still be affecting me after several days have now elapsed, but maybe it has triggered off some of the glandular fever virus that will probably be ever present in my body, but should now be dormant after my immune system has learned to thrash it. I'll probably never know just what sorts of fights are going on inside my body right now, but I wish the opponents could arrive at some sort of peace treaty.

 Feeling colder than I think I ought to is one indicator that all is not right, and the other is my throat feels a bit ticklish causing me to cough more than usual. All of these things, and some others, may be blamed on the cold air. I am not sure if I can blame the cold air for the desire to be still in bed this morning. Particularly after getting at least a few minutes more than the ideal eight hours sleep last night. The other thing I don't think it explains is why the site of my 'flu jab became very itchy on the train to work yesterday. All these things suggest several possibilities. The obvious is that sometime between the next 5 minutes, and 50 years time, I am about to die. Alternatively it is my bodies way of saying "have one last double huge kebab, and then hibernate until the spring". Were it possible I would choose the latter.

 I could possibly have got nearly nine hours sleep last night if I hadn't noticed that there were a lot of updates for the apps on my phone. After watching the news on TV last night I turned off the TV and spent just under an hour on the internet. At 8pm turned everything off, brushed my teeth, and then got into bed. Had I not been kept awake waiting for the updates on my phone to be complete, I may well have been asleep before 8.15pm instead of about 8.45pm.

 On the whole I seemed to sleep well last night. I woke up once when an incoming message bleeped my phone, once to have a pee, and once again to do both. At least they are the only times I remember waking up, although I have a dreamlike memory of getting out of bed briefly to relieve cramp in my left leg. Maybe that actually happened, or maybe it was one of numerous dreams I remember having without being able to recall anything about them except for one dream.

 Even for that dream all I can remember seems hazy and very patchy like a series of stills from a movie. The dream was set in my bedroom in a variation of the house I live in now, and was probably closer to the house I was brought up in up to the age of 11 or 12. I was aware that other people, brothers and sisters I think, lived in the house, but my attention was caught by the animals there.  If I recall correctly there was a pet cat in my room, and then I spotted another cat on the lower roof of the house (typical old house with a lower roofed extension at the back). I let that cat in through the top of my bedroom window, and then I spotted a medium sized dog on the roof as well.

 Even in the dream I wondered how on earth it could have got there, but decided it was more important to get it inside before it fell.  As I manhandled it through the window I did worry how it would get on with the cats (and vice versa). Initially they seemed fine together, but that's all I know because my alarm went off and the dream came to an end. It is not often that I sleep all the way through until my alarm wakes me, and that suggests that I really did need all the sleep I could get. I think that tonight I will aim to get an even earlier night.
Monday 17th October 2011
08:15 BST

  Yesterday afternoon became rather dull and overcast, but somehow the temperature managed to creep up to 16 or 17 C. During the night the cloud cleared again, and allowed the temperature to fall all the way back down to 8 C. That definitely felt rather chilly, but it was not as cold as yesterday morning. Apparently a lot of today will be sunny, but temperature will struggle to get higher than the mid teens. The fabled wet weather is now not expected until Wednesday, or Thursday, or Friday, or sometime before the year ends, or definitely before the century is over.

 Too much food and too little exercise has left me feeling rough today. There may still be a small contribution from the reaction I had to the 'flu vaccine. If how I feel was ten times worse I would say I have the 'flu, but I feel no more than an itch compared to a bullet through the brain. I can't rule out the negative effects of coming to work. If I was still at home, with the heating on, and maybe even lying in, or on, my bed, I expect I would be feeling wonderful - and probably several million more people would agree with that sentiment !

 Tonight I ought to eat something very healthy - and no more ! The problem with that is that I have stuff I ought to use up before it goes off (and there is no room in my freezer to store it there). I am not sure why I did it, but I bought a couple of wonderful looking granary baguettes and some cooked, sliced, meat to put in them with some green salad leaves. Perhaps I thought I would have one or both of them yesterday instead of what I did eat. I think I will have to eat one or both of them tonight before that bread goes dry and crunchy.
Sunday 16th October 2011
12:21 BST

  Yesterday was a brilliantly sunny day, and so far today is the same. If it was possible to add 10 degrees to all the temperatures both night and day would be close to perfect. Actually, to be truly perfect we would have to add another 5 hours of daylight to the day as well. This morning started off at a rather chilly 5 C (half a degree cooler than yesterday) but now the temperature has risen to nearly 12 C. With the clouds starting to build up, and the sun now partly masked behind some hazy cloud, it may not get more than a couple of degrees warmer. Tomorrow, or the day after, or the day after that (the weather forecasters change their mind every couple of hours) there is going to be some rain.

 I think my 'flu jab yesterday morning did it's usual thing and has given me some very mild 'flu like symptoms. Yesterday evening I may have had a mild fever, or maybe it just got colder quicker than I thought it did. All I know is that at one moment I felt comfortable, and a moment later it seemed to feel quite cool. This morning I have a few mild muscle/joint aches. All these things are very mild, and to be honest it is hard to be definite that it's not just the way I would have felt anyway. One very unusual thing was that when I walked up the road to Aldi my legs felt almost, but not quite, rubbery for a while.

 It was lucky that I rechecked the date of Chain's next gig when I checked the location of the pub last night. Had I just relied on memory I could have gone to The Oval Tavern in Croydon last night and found no Chain there. In faact it is next saturday that they play there. It was some relief not to have gone out last night. I didn't really feel up to it, and it may have possibly left me feeling much worse.

 Today, apart from my shopping trip to Aldi, I have no plans to do anything in particular. I've got some dinner in the oven, and I'll be eating that in about an hours time. After that I rather fancy an afternoon nap. Later on I may take a look at the video still on my camcorder and see if I want to edit up another Chain video. Alternatively I might just do some reading and watch some TV. I might even get myself to bed early enough to get enough sleep to not feel sleepy at work if it is less than a scintillating day :-)
Saturday 15th October 2011
16:03 BST

  Yesterday gave a hint of what was to come today. There were a few sunny intervals, and it was slightly cool all day. This morning started off very cold. It is probable that we came very close to having a frost. At 5am my thermometer said it was just 5.5 C, and that was measured 12ft from the ground. At ground level it may have been colder still. Thanks to the clear sky that allowed the temperature to drop so far, we have had bright sunshine. Now, with just a few hours of daylight left, it is 14 C outside. In my bedroom, where the sun has been pouring through the window all day, it is a very warm feeling 22 C.

 When I woke up this morning it felt like I had a bad hangover. I don't know what caused it. It certainly was not the mere two pints of beer I had with Kevin after work. In the end I sent a text message to Aleemah telling her not to bother visiting today, and I went back to bed. I didn't think I would feel OK to get my 'flu jab as planned today, and at 9am when I planned to go, I didn't.

 A bit of extra sleep worked wonders, and although I still felt a bit off colour I made it to my doctors just in time before they closed the walk in session for 'flu jabs. As it turned out this was actually a far better idea. At that time there was hardly any queue, and I was in and out in 5 minutes. Of course the first thing the nurse asked me was if I felt OK, and had I had any headaches. I lied ! Now I'm probably going to die of some weird complication, but at least I shouldn't get 'flu this winter. The only thing I was worried about was whether, like last time, I would suffer about 36 hours of mild 'flu-like symptoms. So far I think I feel OK. Hopefully nothing will develop in the next 3 or 4 hours, and I'll feel OK to go to Croydon to see Chain playing tonight.
Update : Chain are playing Croydon next week !

 On my home from work last night, and before I met Kevin in the pub, I called into Tesco's for the second night running. This time they did have some hot chicken left, and my luck extended to it all being at reduced price to clear the shelves. So after I got home from the pub I could try my experiment of hot chicken in a crispy baguette with green aromatic salad leaves and peri-peri houmous instead of butter. It worked quite well, and was also quite filling. Had I not eaten an excess of chilli flavoured peanuts while watching TV at 9pm last night I could almost have claimed to eaten something close to healthily yesterday.

 I don't know whether searching the internet for old images of Catford for hours on end counts as being lazy, but that is how I have spent a fair bit of today. It was sort of relaxing, but I had to supplement it with another snooze after some lunch earlier on. Now I ought to get myself as active as possible so I feel keen to go out later. That's easier said than done when I feel like laying down and doing some reading. Maybe this is a sign that the 'flu vaccine is doing stuff to me. This could become a battle of wills !
Friday 14th October 2011
07:59 BST

  Yesterday was quite grey, but the temperature held up and it was comfortable in rolled up shirtsleeves all day. In the early evening there was a bit of very light rain. The type that is felt on the face, but is otherwise invisible. Overnight all the cloud disappeared, and that meant that this morning was rather chilly. Chilly enough to warrant wearing a light coat. The sky is still just about clear now, and is predicted to stay clear. So there should be plenty of sunshine today, but it won't raise the temperature to much above the mid-teens - or so the weather men tell us.

 Sometimes life can be disappointing for the most trivial reasons. Yesterday afternoon I suddenly had an idea that I wanted something different for dinner. The idea came out of the blue, and that idea was to fill some nice crusty rolls with Tesco hot, precooked chicken, and some aromatic salad leaves. It wouldn't be very healthy, but not too bad for a one off experiment.

 I had already decided that I might pop into Tesco to buy the latest New Scientist magazine, and so I went there directly from the station when I got back to Catford after work. I found a bag of nice salad leaves, and then went to look for the chicken. Disaster ! They had run out ! Adjacent to the hot chicken counter is the reduced price counter, and on tehre I found a few bargains. There were some packs of half price sushi, and some sandwiches. I do like Tesco's packs (containers ?) of sushi, but they are ridiculously priced for what they are. At half price they almost make sense.

 Last night I ended up having sushi and sandwiches for dinner. It was a little unusual, but nice enough. Maybe tonight I might try for hot chicken again, or maybe not. It will probably be a spur of the moment decision. One semi-important factor in what I may, or may not eat tonight is that I want to feel reasonably fit and fresh in the morning. Once again I am sticking my head into the lions den and visiting the clinic where all those nasty doctors and nurses hang out to get a 'flu jab as early as possible. They open at 9am, and if possible I want to be "jabbed" as sson as possible after that so I can get home again, and finish any essential tidying up prior to Aleemah visiting.

 With the aid of a workmate or three I finally worked out that when the clocks change at the end of the month it will mean lighter mornings, and darker nights. While I approve of Greenwich Mean Time, and think we should stick to it all year round, it is going to be a pain in the nether regions to change back to it. At the time I travel to work it will only be a very brief respite from doing the journey in the dark. Within a week, maybe two, the entire journey into work will be done in darkness again. Even more galling is it will mean that the journey home will end in darkness, and that, as I moaned yesterday, makes me feel very pissed off.

 This morning, as I left to come to work, I looked up as soon as I was in the road, and there in the western sky was a bright moon that looked very close to a full moon. Under that, and slightly offset, was a bright star, or more likely either Mars or Venus (or possibly another planet). Between the moon and star, and appearing to glow as it caught the bright moonlight, was an aircraft vapour train that was almost at a 45 degree angle across the sky. Apart from the difference in size between the moon and star, the whole configuration looked like a huge celestial percentage sign - %. I'm sure it was a sign, but I have no idea about what. So if something happens in the world today that involves percentages, don't say you weren't warned !
Thursday 13th October 2011
07:47 BST

  It seems that the weather is stuck in boring mode recently. The heat of summer is long gone, and yet it is still not cold outside. Cool maybe, but not cold. Sometimes there is a bit of sunshine, but mostly it is shades of grey. There are subtle changes though. Yesterday seemed to end up feeling quite humid, and just before the sun set the sky took on the look of an impending storm. Nothing happened except the extra blanket of cloud reatained enough heat to make if feel comfortable to come to work with no coat, and my shirt sleeves rolled up. The weather forecasters have no idea if it will rain or shine today, but maybe they might have one thing right. The wind is due to change direction today, and it is going to bring cooler air with it.

 When I got home last night Smudge had given up patrolling the kitchen, and was hanging out in the hall. I gave the kitchen a good check and there were no more corpses in there, nor could I detect any sign that a mouse had been in there. It must have been a very unlucky mouse that probably slipped in under the back door in the early hours of yesterday, and almost straight into Smudge's paws.

 When I went to bed last night I left Smudge in the hall. When I got up I found her in the kitchen again, but this time she was laying on the floor, with her paws tucked under her, and her eyes trained on the back door in case anything else dared venture into the house. Now it is just about daylight she'll probably go and sprawl somewhere else so she can get in her necessary 25 hours of sleep a day.

 It was very dark when I went out to come to work. It was still dark at Waterloo, and only just about fully light when I arrived at Earlsfield. It won't be long before I'll be arriving home in darkness, and I really hate that. After all these years you might think that I would instantly know how the clocks changing from BST to GMT would affect my commuting, and I don't ! The change happens at the end of this month in a little over two weeks time.

 When the clocks change it either means my entire journey into work is done in darkness, or some, or all of my journey home again is done in darkness. I hope that it delays the onset of darkness on my way home from work, because going home in the dark is a bloody miserable experience. Unlike the morning when you can look forward to it getting light, getting home in the dark means there is nothing to look forward to except dinner and bed - both of which are fine in themselves, but sometimes there could be more to life than eating and sleeping  - unless you are a cat :-)
Wednesday 12th October 2011
08:29 BST

  A lot of yesterday was grey, but there were times when the sun broke through. There was not enough sun to get things that warm, though it was perfectly comfortable in just shirt sleeves, but this morning started off a degree cooler than yesterday. The bigger difference between this morning and yesterday morning is that the air is a lot calmer. Without some of the strong cooling gusts of wind, this morning actually feel warmer than yesterday. It is possible that there may be a splash of rain today, but there seems to be no way for the forecasters to predict this with any accuracy. Every 6 or 12 hours they come up with a completely different set of predictions !

 There has been a lot of death about recently. Since the beginning of the week, and probably earlier, there has been an injured pigeon in the yard here at work. It's obvious injury was that it was missing most of it's tail feathers, and as a result couldn't fly. It was spending it's time looking for food or resting in small niches around the place. Yesterday I gave it some whole grain bread, and some water, and it ate all the bread, and had a drink. Provided it didn't get taken by a predator it looked like it had a good chance of recovering.
pigeon with no tail feathers.
 I can't recall ever seeing a cat, or a fox, around the yard here at work. There are traps and stuff for rats and mice. So there are few of them around, and all the local cats and foxes probably prefer to hang around the much richer hunting grounds along the adjacent river bank. So I was optimistic that the pigeon would still be alive this morning, and I brought in some food for it. Sadly it must have had some internal injuries because I found it dead this morning. As it lay on it's side I could see that there was some dried blood under one wing, but there was no sign that it had been attacked in any way overnight.

 The other death this morning was at home. To my annoyance I woke up half an hour early this morning, and unsurprisingly I had to go to the toilet before I could turn over and try to go back to sleep. As I came back from the toilet I am sure I saw Smudge in the hall hoping I was going downstairs to get her some breakfast. I did try and go back to sleep for the last 20 - 25 minutes before my alarm was due to go off, but gave up after five minutes of not getting to sleep.

 So I got up again and went to give Smudge her breakfast. When I went downstairs I found Smudge in the kitchen giving things good long hard stares. I guessed that she had seen a mouse even though I had seen no evidence that there had been a mouse in the kitchen. With nothing obvious to me I wondered if it was just a spider she was chasing. So I gave her some food, and while she ignored that I went back upstairs to shave, shower and dress. When I came down after that I found Smudge guarding the corpse of a small mouse. It was no bigger than a little finger. I brushed it up and threw it into the back garden where maybe a feral cat might want to do what Smudge couldn't be bothered to finish. As I left to come to work Smudge was still patrolling the kitchen. I hope she only hopes that there are more mice there rather than knows !
Tuesday 11th October 2011
08:17 BST

  The weather still has a reluctance to dip it's toe too far into autumn. If it wasn't for the wind it could have felt potentially close to hot yesterday. For most of the day the cloud was very broken, and the sun was often shining. Eventually the clouds gathered together, and this morning has started completely grey. It is still quite mild though. Just before coming to work, my thermometer was reading close to 17 C, and though it was a little chilly during the stronger gusts of wind, I came to work with no coat on, and wearing a short sleeve shirt. I believe that today may be a little bit warmer than yesterday, maybe only by a single degree, but there will be less sunshine.

 I felt fairly good at work yesterday. Although I did begin to feel tired, and very keen to go home, during the last hour of the day. During my lunch break I had a wander around the estate and took a couple of pictures.
brightly coloured snail on a leaf
One of the light coloured snails that seem to hang around near the River Wandle.
stuff outside workshop
You frequently see odd things outside the workshops of other companies on the estate.
filigree pattern on decaying leaf
I thought the delicate filigree pattern on a decaying leaf looked interesting.

 If it had not been for the amount of "Honey Roasted Mixed Nuts" I ate last night I could have claimed that I ate quite healthily last night. The main ingredient of my dinner was a large fresh leek that was stewed with some other assorted frozen vegetables. For some added flavour I added some diced salami as well as the usual garlic, chilli and stock cubes. The salami did add a bit of fat to the mix, but not too much.

 It's probable that more harm was done by the three (I think) Italian style breadsticks that I ate with the stew. I don't think I have ever bought breadsticks before, and certainly nothing like these ones. They take the form of a long loaf of bread that is only one inch by one inch square. The bread has some herbs and olive oil in it, but not much of either. Overall I find them to be almost bland. I only bought them because they were half price.

 Tonight I may eat less fat and other calories, or maybe I won't. I have some ready prepared mixed cauliflower and brocolli that needs to be used up very soon. So I guess that will become the core of my dinner. I'll simmer than in loads of stock with garlic, chilli, tomato puree, and other stuff. Amongst that other stuff may be some sliced or diced chorizo sausage. That could add a very nice flavour to it. Of course it wouldn't be as nice as a big chunk of roast lamb, with tasty veins of fat running through it, together with potatoes roasted in real meat dripping, peas, and some really acidic, vinegary mint sauce (made in exactly the way the experts say you should never make it !).

 If only I knew what went into my late mum's bread sauce, and how she made it, I would add that too. Whatever it was my mum used to make to go with lamb, it was like nothing that exists in any form now. It is possible that it was not bread sauce she made, but onion sauce, The fact still remains that she took the recipe with her to the grave, and no commercial preparation comes anywhere near it. Sad really. It's even sadder that I don't have any of the ingredients to hand, nor the time to cook and prepare them, to have such a wonderfully unhealthy dinner that would be so ecstatically tasty that it would be worth dying for.
Monday 10th October 2011
08:46 BST

  Yesterday turned out to be sunnier and warmer than expected. It wasn't a fierce blazing sun, but the sunshine was good enough to very gently warm things up, and by the evening it became apparent that it was actually pleasantly warm. There was some rain and wind during the night, but the rain had stopped by the time I woke up, and the wind had dropped to just occasional strong gusts. With the temperature at 16 or 17 C when I left for work, it seems that autumn has been put on hold for a while. There was even speculation that the middle of this week could see temeperatures back above 20 C again. As I look out my window I see patchy cloud that gives an impression of grey, but there are plenty of blue spaces where the sun could shine through at any time.

 On the whole, yesterday was an OK sort of day. There was nothing exciting about it, nor was it dull or boring. It was around midday that I went out to get some shopping, and ended up lugging 10Kg of cat litter home in my rucksack (not 22Kg as I suggested the other day). It wasn't all that long ago that I first tried using my rucksack for shopping. I don't know why it took so long to try it because with hindsight it is so obvious, and practice shows that it works so well.

 One of the things I brought back from Aldi (the supermarket) was some chicken parcels. They are really quite clever in how they manage to use so little chicken, and still make it seem "chickeny". Inside a perforated, lattice like, pastry outer shell was some flavoured goo, and inside that was this little nugget of chicken. The whole thing was quite tasty, and several of them were filling enough that I didn't feel the need to indulge in too much more food yesterday. That is not to say that I didn't eat more. I did, and at least one substance, as I knew it would, raised my blood sugar level beyond tolerance levels, and that, and a couple of other recent deliberate misjudgements means I am paying the price this morning.

 Overall, apart from one minor imperfection, I am feeling pretty good this morning. After nicely resolving my earlier problems at work before leaving work on Friday, I feel quite happy at work today, and I also feel sort of energetic in a relative sort of way. I walked to the station at a bit more than average speed, and rushed around while changing trains at Waterloo with some ease. I am not fit enough to run a marathon, but fit enough to run the country (although anyone who is not actually a politician could run the country better than the shower who try to run it now). I think I feel fit enough to run for a bus - provided it was no more than 50 feet away, and they had supplies of oxygen on board to revive me afterwards :-)
Sunday 9th October 2011
07:28 BST

  It may be that Friday turned out to be so good for other reasons that I think that the weather was also fairly reasonable. We really have entered into autumn now, and yesterday was fairly typical. It was cool and sometimes windy with occasional bursts of sunshine from a grey patchy sky. On a couple of occasions there was some very light rain blowing around in the breeze, but it was not until the early hours of this morning that there was any formal rain. Currently it is 16 C, and there is some light drizzly rain falling. The forecast suggests that the rain will clear up in a few hours times, and then there will be a couple of hours of sunny intervals followed by thicker cloud, but no more rain. The top temperature is forecast to be 19 C. That's not exactly warm, but possibly more comfortable than we should expect at this time of the year.

 After starting the week on a bit of a low note, my week at work ended extremely well. On Friday afternoon I decided the time had come to face my tormentor - the manager whose job it is to document and formalise all the health and safety, and all the other ISO9001 stuff. I took two things with me to show her.

 The first was a document I had researched and prepared to attempt to force the management of my previous job in to facing up to the risks that we were taking in lifting very heavy TV sets. Initially my document was rejected partly for the spurious reason that I had based my facts and figures on another companies health and safety recommendations. (This was done in 2001 and I didn't have the luxury of the internet to find more generic recommendations). Although dismissed at the time, it probably did filter through to those who could be sued, and sometime afterwards the company did make a half hearted attempt to make it's own very generic recommendations, and produce some mechanical aids.

 Back to last Friday, and I opened my discussion with the manager by saying that I knew she thought I had a very flippant attitude to health and safety, but have a look at this, as I handed her a copy of the document I had produced ten years earlier. She was quite impressed, and when I showed her the source of my information she was both delighted and amazed. It was a very well written cloured glossy booklet that covered far more, and in far better ways, all the stuff she had laboured to try and lecture us on.

 That booklet even covered an aspect that she had forgetten about, and didn't even recognise the significance of until I lectured her about it ! It covered the safe use of simple hand tools, and I stressed how important it was for these same tools to be used safely at home. Because she was just doing safety by numbers she had given no thought at all that it was just as inconvenient for the company for an employer to go sick through injury at home as it was to do the same for an injury at work. It's true that there would be no worries about a health and safety investigation, and possible fines for the company for injuries that take place at an employees home, but  it would still mean a loss of production (and may even cost the company the price of a get well card !).

 Having now got her enthused I put in place part one of my plan for revenge ! I told her that there was stuff in that safety book that she ought to cover in some future lecture, and reminded her that it was all stuff I had seen and heard many times before. So would she please cut me some slack if I yawned all through those parts of some future lecture. She laughed and said "point taken". It wasn't exactly an apology for dropping me in it previously, but I chose to take it as one.

 Then there was part two of my revenge. That wasn't so succesful because the fall out from it ultimately fell on the wrong person, and I had to do some fast thinking to relieve them of their agony. The revenge was quite simple - it was an unsolvable conundrum. All the new safety rules (as in new by formal documentation rather than practice)  are being generated  without any real understanding of the principles behind them (a certain recipe for less rather than more safety). Without knowing the principles behind some safety measures all the department can do is to blindly follow any recommendation to its absurd limits.

  The general rules for the handling and storage of chemicals, in the official recommendations all deal with bulk quantities as far as my extensive research shows, and typically mention things like 50 litre containers of solvents etc. However passing reference is made to following manufactureres safety sheets. We have blindly chosen to follow the general rules to their absurd limits, and this throws up a significant problem when it comes to very small quantities of solvent. In this case a 400 ml aerosol of soldering flux remover/solvent.

 This particular solvent quickly evaporates to an inflammable gas. Under our blind rules, when not in use, typically overnight, it has to be stored in a designated plastic box which has hazard warning tape applied, and it labelled rather sparsely with the word "chemicals". I merely pointed out that in satisfying the rules to prevent spills of chemicals into the environment we were trapping the heavier than air flammable vapour in the box, and thus generating a fire hazard and breaking another rule.

 When dealing with bulk quantities it is easy to reconcile these two problems with a purpose designed fireproof (not plastic !!) cabinet that can contain any spilt liquid, and has forced ventilation to dispell any vapours. For a single 400 ml aerosol can it is far better to follow the manufacturers recommendations that it should be stored in a dry well ventilated place - and that sounds very like the top of my bench where it is ready for instant use as happens many times a day. I think the real problem here is that the manufacturers safety information sounds too simple to believe, and as is typical in todays society, everyone would rather cover their arse by blindly following misunderstood rules rather than contribute to actual safety.

 As I said earlier, I eventually had to help out the person who this conundrum had been dropped on. As well as the bland diktat that all chemicals should be stored in the designated (and highly inappropriate, flammable) plastic boxes, there will also be added the instruction that before being placed in there all excess liquid in delivery tubes should be purged, and that other containers should be tightly closed before being placed in the storage boxes. None of this will make the place any safer to us or the environment except in one unrelated way. By providing a solution to the conundrum I may taken a little stress off the mental health of those who have to administer this screwed up mess.

 Then came Friday night, and it was a good night. Chain were playing in my local, The Catford Ram. It is usual that they start and finish early when playing there, and last night it was very early because there was some silly football match on that the pub wanted to put on the big screens. I don't know how many turned up to watch the match after I left the pub, but by them the game had already started, and more people seemed to be leaving the pub than were arriving.

 Another unusual thing was that Chain set up their stage area in a different part of the pub. They set up under one of the big screens so that a minimum of table and chairs had to be moved around from where the expected hordes of dribbling football fans were expected to sit.

 It was an excellent gig with only one slight problem. The acoustics were slightly different in the changed location. The only real difference was that the microphones had to be very slightly quieter to stop feedback, but I thought the difference was far less noticeable than some thought. I've already written far more than usual today, and I am still only up to Friday night. So here's some pictures with little comment.
I can't remember what was going on here !

the dancing girls
There's always dancing girls at a Chain gig
Jo Corteen
....plus the obligatory picture of Jo
 Not all that much went on Yesterday. Aleemah came over and we watched a DVD together, and then later in the afternoon I basically did nothing much at all. In the evening I treated myself to an order of some chicken kebab - with an extra portion of salad instead of chips etc !

 Today I only have one definite plan, and that is to go to the supermarket. There are a few things that it would be desirable to get, and one essential. I am going to have to hump another 22kg sack of cat litter back home in my rucksack. As the days get colder and wetter, and as Smudge seems to be approaching old age, she is using her litter tray more frequently. Once it was for emergencies, for instance when she was shut in all day, but now it seems to be used for most of her "business", and the need for more frequent supplies for cat litter has become essential.
Friday 7th October 2011
08:00 BST

  A lot of yesterday was far sunnier than it was supposed to be, but then it changed. During the afternoon I was lying on my bed trying to read, but the sun kept getting in my eyes. Eventually I put down the magazine and closed my eyes. I have no idea how long I was asleep, but I was awoken by rain lashing against my window. After that things were never quite the same. This morning is rather grey, and the temperature outside as I left to come to work had dipped to under ten degrees (actually 9.6 C). It is possible that this afternoon may be sunny, but even that is not going to raise the temperature to much better than the mid teens.

 I was thoroughly lazy yesterday, and did even less than the day before. Around midday I went out and bought the latest edition of New Scientist and a couple of sandwiches. I also called in to the 99p shop, and had a rummage around there. I didn't spend much at all in there, but I did come away with quite a weight of stuff to be lugged back home. A 2 litre bottle of bleach, and an assortment of tinned and bottled food soon adds up to quite a weight.

 I am not sure if it's a reaction to the coming of winter, or whether I am cushioning myself against the possibility of unemployment, but recently I seem to be hoarding food. Ideally I would need a proper full sized, walk in, larder to store a lot of the tinned, bottled and dried food that I could potentially buy. Unfortunately I haven't got one, and all the bottles and cans are stacked somewhat precariously on my kitchen work top. The area I have to work on is getting smaller, but remains adequate.
Thursday 6th October 2011
09:56 BST

  Yesterday was not particularly cold, but it was mostly dull and overcast. After dark, which comes so early now, it did get very windy, and later into the night there was some rain. This morning the temperature is a not unreasonable 14 C, and according to the BBC's web site that is the highest it is going to get all day. It also says it should be raining right now. In the real world outside my window (at least I think it is the real world) the sun is shining down through a small gap in the clouds, and there is no sign of rain. The clouds do look as if they could dump something on us sooner or later though.

 By any normal standards I wasted most of my day off work yesterday. I could have gone out for a healthy walk, or I could have done something productive like the video editing I was going to do, but I did none of these things. One of the things I did do was to spend an hour or so checking out the job market. I was really quite amazed to find that there are potential jobs out there. I found two I could do, and one of those I nearly applied for.

 That job required the skills I have, although I suspect in reality I wouldn't be using anywhere near my full skill set. The really good thing about the job was that it is not far from home, and I estimate it would require no more than a 40 minute stroll to get there (less if I wanted to rush). The bad thing was that the pay on offer is a lot less than I currently get through in my current job. The job advert said that it was salary plus bonuses, but I don't trust the idea of bonuses, and couldn't rely on them to bring any comfort.

 I did go out once yesterday, but it was only to Tesco where I bought stuff that both enhanced, and spoiled my day. The spoilers were the hot chicken that left me feeling too full to join Kevin for a later afternoon drink, and the toffee apple crumble that undoubtably did terrible things to my blood sugar level. Fortunately I feel OK now, but all that sugar could still have later consequences.

 One thing I bought from Tesco started off an interesting chain of ideas that seems prove that I am slowly sinking into dementia (or a second childhood). The thing that is going on is an extension to a childlike state of mind that has afflicted me for at least several years, and maybe several tens of years. This state of mind means that whenvever I buy something new, novel, or maybe just something extra tasty, I have a terrible impatience to eat it almost as soon as I get it home.

 This has now extended to more than food. It was only last week that I bought a new rain coat, and a new warm coat for the winter. I knew that that warm coat would have to wait, but I have been impatient for a cool wet day to test out the rain coat. I thought there would be heavy rain today, and although it may still be a little warm out there to wear the coat comfortably, I am slightly disappointed that it is not raining even though for all other reasons I don't want it to rain.

 It gets worse though. One thing I bought from Tesco yesterday was some Lenor Black Diamond (or was it black pearl ?) fabric conditioner. I wasn't 100% sure I had bought the right "flavour" until I got it home, but a quick sniff revealed it was the same as I had bought a year or two ago, and thought it to have a rather excellent smell. My growing child like impatience impelled me to do some laundry even though I had done one batch before I went out shopping, and I really didn't have enough space to hang any more laundry to dry.

 By juggling around some of the stuff I had already hung up to dry I made just enough space for the sheet, duvet cover and pillow cases I washed with the nice smelling Lenor. With my brain cells dying and congealing like a poached egg, I then had an urge to want that bed linen to dry as quickly as possible so I could use it on my bed that night ! Fortunately some brain cell that had been lying there like a dying ember briefly flashed alight again, and sanity returned for a while.

 On the one hand it is fascinating to watch and consider the slide into complete dementia, on the other hand there could be cause for concern about it. Of course the really interesting thing is that once it gets beyond a certain point those things reverse. Once I have gone completely gaga I won't have to worry about the journey there, but it would be a shame not to be able to experience it continuing. Perhaps I ought to accelerate the process with more alcohol.

 Maybe my aim for today should be too not eat in the afternoon in case Kevin suggests going for a drink later, or failing that to have a few large whiskies tonight. While some version of sanity still exists I also have two other things I would like to do today. One is to do some more job searches to see if there is any way I can change jobs - if needed. The other thing is to try and get myself in the right state of mind to be creative and edit up another Chain song or two. Somewhere in the middle of that I might even go out for a walk (but probably won't again).
Wednesday 5th October 2011
05:33 BST

  For various reasons I didn't get to write anything yesterday. So let's pick up the story from Monday 3rd October 2011.

 The weather on Monday was absolutely outstanding. The day started off a bit cool, but the sun shone all day long in an almost clear blue sky. I am unsure now of the top temperature, but it was very warm, and if it had not been for a refreshing breeze it might have been described as very hot. I came quite close to getting sun burn.

 Yesterday, by comparison, was quite miserable. The temperature was a lot lower, though still not chilly, and the sun only put in a couple of brief appearances in what was otherwise a very grey day. Finally, sometime during the night, there was some rain. It appears to have stopped raining now, but the day is forecast to be very dull, and cooler still.

 As planned, I met up with Ruby on Monday, and took her to see the glories of Southend. I met her at Euston, and we took the circle line around to Tower Hill station which is just around the corner from Fenchurch Street station, and from where we took a train to Thorpe Bay. There was a suggestion that it would be a fair bit cooler on the coast, but it didn't feel anywhere near cool in the bright sunshine.
blue sky and warm sunshine at Thorpe Bay
 There were some very thin fluffy clouds in the sky as this picture shows, but they were totally ignorable. Being an out of season Monday we found the beaches virtually deserted. The solitary figure in this photo is Ruby.
who's photographing whom ?
 When I took the picture above I thought Ruby was taking a picture of something on the shingle, but now it seems that her lens was dangerously close to including me in the picture. Had I known I would have sucked in my gut, and smiled or something.
boat on the mud between Southend and Thorp Bay
 While Ruby was being sensible and staying on the shingle or sand, I did my usual trick of gallumphing around in the mud, and taking pictures of the "wrong" side of the boats as they rested on the mud while the tide was out.
Southend pier and the Isle of Grain beyond it
 One aspect of the stretch of coast around Southend is that the beach faces south, and the afternoon sun shines down from above the sea. For sunbathing this is excellent, but it does mean shooting into the sun when trying to take pictures of something offshore, and at this time of year the sun can be annoyingly low. Ruby took advanatge of it to take some pictures featuring reflections off the surface of the sea and mud, but as yet I don't know how succesful they were. The picture above was taken at a very oblique angle to the sun giving the end of Southend Pier a very silouhette appearance, but with a surprising amount of detail of The Isle Of Grain that lieson the far side of the estuary.

 It really was an excellent day out. With Ruby's company I was finally able to complete the entire 6.15 mile walk between Thorp Bay station and Leigh On Sea station. With stops to take pictures, and a stop for an ice cream, we didn't go at top speed, but still covered the distance in a fairly good time. The end of the day, back at Tower Hill tube station was a bit brief. Ruby took the circle line anti-clockwise back to Euston, and I went clockwise back to Cannon Street station with a parting comment that maybe we might be able to take another long walk together next year.

 It is counter intuitive, but after all that exercise, and burning up over 900 calories just for the walk itself (without counting crossing London etc.), I did not feel excessively hungry when I got home again, and my dinner was considerably lighter than even I might have imagined. So yesterday morning I was feeling quite fit and energetic to face what I was sure I would have to face. I had confirmation of this as soon as I checked my company email.

Dear Bill, I have received feedback from Xanadu regarding your behavior in the ISO and systems training on the 29th September 2011. This included: -         Your negative attitude towards the systems being implemented. -         Answering questions with deliberately incorrect and inappropriate answers. -         Walking out during the meeting without any explanation. -         Leaving the meeting early without any explanation. The consequence of this is that I am now required to have a disciplinary meeting with you to discuss your behavior and confirm if an Oral Warning is required. This meeting will take place on Tuesday 4th October 2011 at 9:00am. You have the right to be accompanied to the meeting.

 I know I shouldn't do, but I found the whole thing to be rather amusing. Of course I did get an oral warning, the details of which had been typed out prior to the meeting, but my real punishment is that I will have to attend the lecture again. It gets worse though. It is possible that it will be done on a one to one basis by the same person who may be very competent in their core duties in the company, but is the second worse lecturer I have ever encountered. (The worst was the man whose attempt at lecturing 4th year City and Guilds mathematics took me from a distinction the previous year under a different lecturer to a absolute fail. Curiously though, another exam, telecom principles that can't be completed without knowing the maths, I managed to scrape through with another distinction !).

 Quite when this cruel and unusual punishment is to take place has not been announced yet. It will be interesting when it does take place to see if I get my first written warning which I did suggest should be drafted in preparation, or if blood will be spilt. I believe my tormenter has the impression that I take matters of health and safety too lightly. This rather depends on how you look at it, and under what terms you attempt to define it. I don't do safety by numbers, but I do do safety by continous risk assessment. So far it has kept my body, as well as the bodies of those around me undamaged, and that seems to be a fair indication that what I do can't be that bad. And who was it that got a contractor told off when I came back from lunch to find something plugged into one of the mains sockets near my bench ?
a lethal mains plug
 Of course it was me ! After being brought up on electricity (I was a careful observer in my dads TV repair shop  when I was as young as 4 or 5 years old, and all my jobs since the age of 16 were electrical based) I pull a few strokes with wiring at home, but even I would never use a plug so blatantly lethal.

 As well as reporting how dangerous this plug was I also finally remembered what it was that set the alarm bells ringing in my head last Thursday morning, and quite possibly triggered some of my annoyance (and behavior) at the crap lecture. As I think I have probably already written, I went into work last Thursday morning to find a box on my desk with some hazard warning tape on it, and a not saying all my "chemical" should be stored in it overnight. I thought it was a silly idea, but more than that I knew there was something wrong about it. It wasn't until yesterday that I realised what it was that was worrying me.

 Most of the chemicals are, or use, volatile solvents that produce heavier than air inflammable vapours. If these "chemicals are stored in a steep side box the vapours given off will pool in the bottom of the box and a static discharge from someone reaching in to pickup one of the containers could trigger a small flash explosion. It is highly unlikely that it would ever happen, but I think it is still a risk that has to be considered.

 Under health and safety law I am mandated to report such a risk, but I felt I could not approach the correct person to report it to because it would be considered that I was taking the piss - it being the lecturer who I had upset. So I made casual mention of it to three other people, and one of them should action it, and an unlikely, but still possible, disaster averted. I have confess it does give me some juvenile pleasure to beat my tormentors with their own stick !

 With all the tension n the air it was nice to take a quick wander in the park at lunchtime. I didn't think there would be anything interesting to take pictures of out there, but I was wrong, and having now examined one of the pictures I did take I realise that I was very wrong.
a mummy squirrel !
 I saw these two squirels in a tree and didn't think they would stay still for long enough, and in a clear pose, to get a decent photo. With the branches partly obscuring one squirrel, and the other branch across the other squirrel it is not an ideal picture, but it does show something, if I have identified them correctly, that I have never seen before, and certainly didn't expect to see. It could be a trick of the light, but it looks to me like the closest squirrel has, in the words of The Sun newspaper, big tits ! I presume she is a nursing mother.

 Today, and tomorrow I am off work on holiday again. It is today and tomorrow that one of the companies ISO blackmailers customers is due in for either a discussion on a few technical points (technical department viewpoint) or a full jackbooted audit of the company (administative viewpoint). With adminstration so terrified of my viewpoints I have magnanimously (but mostly theatrically) offered to stay away while these people poke their faces in other peoples business.

 I haven't actually worked out what I am going to do on these two days. The weather is not yet that awful, but getting worse. So I am unlikely to go out. I still have several possible Chain videos still to be edited. So I may end up doing that, but mostly I'll be making it up as I go along.
Monday 3rd October 2011
08:38 BST

  It was a bit cooler outside yesterday evening, but it seemed just as sweltering hot inside my bedroom. This morning the temperature has dropped to 18 C, but although there is more cloud today, it should still rise to the low to mid twenties. It will be a little cooler on the coast at Southend, and apparently there could be a chance of a light shower there in the late afternoon.

 I almost got to see Ruby again yesterday afternoon. Having had a good lay down I concluded that what I probably needed to throw off the last of the hangover, and the results of eating a heavy midday meal, was to get out into the fresh air. As I prepared myself I felt a lot better, but unfortunately I was unable to contact Ruby to arrange to meet her. It seems she had hired a "Boris Bike" and had been happily cycling around London with her phone safely tucked away, and in audible. Later on she did contact me, but I had eaten some supper, and considered it too late to go out.

 Today I am meeting Ruby. We meet at Euston at 10.30, and I'll be dragging her for a walk along the coast between Thorpe Bay and either Chalkwell or Leigh On Sea depending on how the time goes. The route will take us past a place I feel sure she will hate - Southend - but we can hurry on past and ignore it. In theory, on an out of season Monday, with the weather on the verge of going bad, it may not actually be too bad, but that is still no reason to inflict it on her.
Sunday 2nd October 2011
13:45 BST

  Summer like conditions continue ! Yesterday was another very warm, dry, and sunny day, and today is very much the same. Today there are a few thin and hazy clouds in the sky, but I can't recall a single dip in the sunshine. Right now, outside the back of the house, it is 23 C, and here in my room it is a rather sticky 28 C.  Tomorrow is forecast to be a bit more cloudy, and a little bit cooler, but basically still extremely pleasant.

 I can't say that I didn't go out yesterday because I went out twice, but neither outing was for a healthy stroll. The first time was a shopping trip. I needed to get some money out of the hole in the wall, and that took me over halfway to Lidl. So that's where I did my first bit of shopping. I bought some food for me, some food for Smudge, some household goods (bleach etc), and one other thing.

 In a messed up pile of coats I managed to pull out a coat that was, to my extreme surprise, the right size for me. Aldi's range of clothing always stops just short of my size, but it seems that Lidl actually realise that not all their shoppers are small and medium size. The coat I bought could well be rather handy. It is a cross between my cagoule and my hoody. Unusually for me it is dark blue (but not as dark as navy blue). The outside is plastic, like my cagoule, but it is lined like my hoody. It should be perfectly waterproof, unlike my hoody, and warm enough for all but really freezing days - unlike my cagoule.

 On my way back from Lidl I popped into Peacocks. Initially it was purely a reconnaisance look, but I spotted some extra large coats that looked as if they should be really warm in really cold weather. So I bought one. It seems that I now have quite a selection of stuff to wear through the different seasons. While I don't wish for this glorious weather to end, I am sort of waiting for some rain or snow to try out my new coats !

 In the evening I went out to see Chain playing at The British Oak pub on the far side of Blackheath. I kept myself alert during the late afternoon in case I was to meet Ruby and escort her to the gig. It turned out that she was too busy to make it, and I ended up getting to the pub a bit earlier than I thought I might. When I arrived I found Steve was there setting up his guitar and amplifier, and Jo and Chris turned up 15 - 20 minutes after I got there. I helped them unload the gear from their car, and that was all inside when finally Guy turned up with his drums. So I helped him unload too.

 It was a really excellent gig, as it seems to always be at that venue. One of the highlights was a new song that was effectively rehearsed live in front of the audience. The song was Deep Purple's "Black Knight", and the band had never played it together before. If anyone really wanted to be picky about it they could say that there were a few tiny little mistakes, but in the exuberance of the moment I doubt many noticed, and or even cared.

 There was one big disappoointment last night, and it was this;
Lantern outside The British Oak, Blackheath
 Hanging outside the door to what used to be (and may still be) the saloon bar is this elegant looking, rather traditional "olde worlde" lantern. The open bottom, and the triangular vents at the top suggest that it would once have been lit by a flame, maybe a candle, maybe a parafin lamp, but my guess would have been gas. So far, so good until you stand under it and look up !
gas lantern with CFL lamp fitted
 Fitting a modern compact flourescent lamp just seems to kill any nostalgia, and somehow debases the whole thing.

 While the band played the beer flowed. After my early start I am unsure how many pints of extra cold Guinness I drank, but I suspect it was more than six pints ! In the heat and excitement I still felt quite sober. Maybe the two ladies in the picture below were feeling drunker, or maybe they were just feeling too happy !
2 dancers at The British Oak pub, Blackheath
 It seems quite traditional at The British Oak, that two people, but occasionally more, will start to dance to something Chain plays. Strangely enough it never seems to be the same people everytime ! The gig finished at midnight, or maybe a little before, and I stayed behind to load up the cars with the gear while Kevin, who had turned up an hour or two after me, helped to reel up the various mic and guitar cables (his speciality). Our reward for doin this was to get a lift back to Catford instead of having to make a mad dash of several hundred yards up the road to try and get the last bus home.

 One other highlight of the evening was managing to capture a georgeous smile from Jo.
A wonderful smile from Jo Corteen from Chain
 Jo and Chris dropped me off at the end of my road, and that was close enough for Kevin as well. I am not sure how he does it, but Kevin managed to strike up a conversation that had us nattering for maybe 20 minutes at the side of the main road. Once we had finished I made my way to home feeling rather tired. I still did not feel wobbly drunk, but certainly drunk enough to raid the fridge. I had left some stuff for a small snack because I hadn't eaten anything since about midday - about thirteen hours earlier - but I had a bit more than that.

 I finally got into bed at 10 seconds to 2am, and was fast asleep before 2 am ! My body clock woke me up at 5am as usual. Which was unfortunate because that was when my hangover was at it's worst ! After a few hours I went back to bed again, and slept on and off to 9.30am when I got out of bed. Something like another hour passed before I could face having a shower and getting dressed.

 I shouldn't have had to do another shopping trip again this morning, but there were a few things I forgot to get the day before, and Smudge very quickly gets bored with Lidl's own brand of catfood. So it was useful to have alternative cat food on standy by, and to remember to get the shower gel that I had forgotten the day before. I also bought some marinaded pork strips to have for dinner today.

 Having eaten a fairly substantial Sunday dinner, I now feel rather crap. For one thing it has pushed all the beer, and my after beer meal, to the far end with unpleasant results, and I also feel dog tired again. Once I have finished writing here I feel I am going to lay down on my bed, and hopefully manage to get a bit of sleep in the sweaty heat of my bedroom.

 There was probably an opportunity to meet up with Ruby this evening but I texted her that I didn't feel all the good. Now I am not so sure. If I do manage to have a good snooze, and if my guts settle down, maybe I could face going out. I am not sure what we could do in the evening. I still owe her a curry that I promised I would get her, but I don't think I will feel like eating later on for fear of reviving my currently upset stomach.

 Even if I don't get to see Ruby this evening I think there is a good chance that I will see her tomorrow. Like the last time she visited London a fortnight ago, she should have all the morning, and some of the aftenoon to spare before getting her train home again. I'm thinking that maybe I might take her to see a bit of Essex, and a bit of seaside too.
Saturday 1st October 2011
05:59 BST

  Yesterday was as good as any summer day. The sun shone blindingly bright all through the short autumn day, and it was hot. I'm not sure just how hot it was, but I do know that my bedroom reached 28 C. This morning has started off at half that temperature outside, but my bedroom is still warm at 23 C. The forecast for today, that I find myself believing, is that there will be dawn to dusk sunshine, but a small change in wind direction means that it will be a degree or two cooler than yesterday.

 I had some grand plans for yesterday, but I only fulfilled one of them. I stayed in all day, apart from my very early morning short walk in the park. In some ways I now regret, or feel a bit guilty about "wasting" one of the last hot days of the year. On the other hand it was nice to be very lazy for some of the time, and creative for some of the time. It took me until the afternoon to get started, but I finally finished editing another video.

 It is the long overdue video of Hannah (accompanied by Jo Corteen on guitar) singing "Please Don't Leave Me" at the Party In The Priory gig way back on Saturday 27th August 2011.

 Today I must be prepared to be active. I need to go out and buy some more catfood. Smudge is going through a phase of being a very fussy eater again, and I am wasting some catfood when she won't eat it. I have hardened my resolve about giving in to her wishes recently. In the last day or two I have realised that not only is she not losing weight, and that when she uses her litter tray it is very obvious that she is eating quite adequately, but also food that is initially rejected mysteriously vanishes later in the day, or overnight.

 Later today it is possible, though I don't feel it will likely, that I shall get a call to visit a house that someone I know has just rented in Lewisham. If I do get a call I think I'll go to visit it, but only because I feel nosy. The real entertainment starts later this evening.

 Chain are playing in The British Oak pub on the far side of Blackheath, and having missed the last gig (and maybe the one before that) I am looking forward to going tonight. It is possible that Ruby will be going as well. She is back in London this weekend for the end of the art exhibition that she is chairman of, and wants to go to the gig. At this time I don't know whether I am escorting her there of if she is making her own way there. She did contact me asking for details about the location, but hasn't replied if she wants to meet up beforehand or not.