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My Diary/Blog For the Month of April 2012

Monday 30th April 2012
08:18 BST

  It stayed something close to mild overnight, and this morning the temperature was almost 10 C when I left home to come to work. It could be said to be fresh rather than chilly this morning. What it is most definitely is, is sunny. There is a lovely blue sky, and the sun is shining. This is rather good, but it might have a sting in it's tail. As the day warms up more and more surface moisture will evaporate, and that evaporation will rise up until it meets colder air, at which point it is likely to come down again as rain. The warmer it gets today, the more likelyhood there is of it triggering off a thunderstorm. It will feel nice if the temperature does hit 18 C this afternoon, but the price for that maybe too high - particularly if it triggers a thunderstorm just as I am leaving work !!!

 This morning I should be feeling good, but I am not. I had a fairly good nights sleep, but I am still yawning even now. The worst thing is not the yawning, but bad guts. My stomach feels tender this morning, and I've had to make many visits to the toilet. It seems to have settled now, but the high fibre Greek and chickpea salads I have just eaten may not have been the most wise thing to do. Adding generous amounts of Tabasco sauce was probably completely stupid, but I did enjoy my breakfast.

 Tonight I will be basing my dinner around some skinless chicken fillets. There is the potential to construct some sort of vaguely healthy meal if I put my mind to it (and if I have the right ingredients to hand). The only other thing to do beside cooking (and eating it) is to do some laundry. I didn't do it yesterday as I (partly) intended, and neither did I wash my hair like I suggested I might do yesterday. I did wash my hair this morning, and I showered using some new shower gel I bought from the 99p shop. It is "Original Source" eucalyptus and lime basil  "flavour".........and I am not too sure how much I dislike it yet ! Still, for just 99p.............
Sunday 29th April 2012
19:50 BST

  I had hoped that the weather forecast would continue to get it wrong, and that yesterday afternoon might be bright and dry, but I was wrong. It continued to be a dull soggy day. During the night there was copious amounts of rain, and it continued until right through to later afternoon today. It might have been as late as 5pm when the rain seemed to have stopped, and around 6pm there was some sunshine. Tomorrow promises to be a rather good day. Until early evening it could stay dry, and we are promised a lot of warm sunshine in the middle of the day. It could get the temperature up to 18 C - some 3 better than today.

 There is a family of foxes living in my back garden, and on todays like today, when the rain stops, and the sun comes out in the late afternoon/early evening, the cubs come out to play. Most of my garden is too overgrown to see them well, but this evening the cubs, and mum came out, and she stood in clear sight, just 10ft from my back door and lets the cubs suckle her. (That's clear sight apart from a dirty window !).
vixen and cubs through a dirty window !
vixen and cubs
vixen and cubs
 It wasn't easy getting the above pictures - though it should have been. If my back window was clean, and not covered in cat drool (amongst other things) the pictures would have been better. If I had put the camera on a tripod there would have been less camera shake as I stood at an awkward angle trying to hide as much of my body from view of the fox. As the last picture shows she was very aware of me, but while I kept still, and partly out of view she was happy to stand there why the cubs had their dinner.  I think there were 4, or maybe 5 cubs in all.

 Watching those cubs was one of the highlights of a rather wet and windy boring weekend. I can't remember doing anything worthwhile yesterday apart from getting some stuff from the 99p shop. It wasn't until late in the evening that things took a turn for the better - but not initially.

 I got a call from an old friend of mine. Unfortunately he is totally insane. He still believes that BT is still the wonderful company that it might have been once in the days when it was part of the GPO, and provided telecommunications to all parts of the British Empire. He can't grasp the idea that it is now just another private company putting profits before quality. He holds lots of similar beliefs - totally mad !!

 Once we got over the madness things settled down, and we started talking about the real world - or about the world from our shared past. One useful things was both of us having Google maps up so when were discussing who lived where in the past we were both able to look up on the map where we were talking about. Other topics included such things as how many people we knew, who were supposedly fit, as opposed to the fat slobs that we are, had died over the years. It was one of those reminiscing chats that goes on for hours. In this case it was an awful lot of hours, and on my part it was lubricated by quite a lot of Irish Whiskey. It must be 20 or more years since I last finished a phone conversation at 4am !!

 I did my best to catch up with as much sleep as possible after getting to bed so late, but I didn't do that well. I was awake again little more than an hour after getting to sleep - that being the time I would normally wake up on any other day of the week. I managed to get back to sleep again, and I had several periods of sleep lasting a few hours each, but I don't think it was very good sleep. I've felt quite tired all day, and I am looking forward to getting to bed soon.

 At a little before midday I donned my wet weather wear and headed out to Aldi to buy cat food and human food. On the way there it was raining lightly. Just before I came out of the supermarket there was some torrential rain, and while I walked home there was moderately heavy rain. For such a short walk (5 minutes or so) it was almost nice walking in the rain. My hooded waterproof coat kept me dry, and it was both cool enough outside, and the walk was short enough that I didn't get too hot and sticky underneath that rain coat. I can't imagine that I could possibly enjoy a walk of sveral, or miles, under such conditions. Though until it became too much like a sauna under the coat it would be sort of nice to be out in the countryside like that for a while.

 This afternoon I spent a lot of time on my bed trying to read a magazine. The only trouble was that I would barely finish one page before falling asleep in a less than comfortable position. It left me feeling a bit uncomfortable, and so I haven't attempted to do two things I was going to do today. One was to wash my hair, and the other was to do some laundry. The former I'll do in the morning if I wake up early enough. The latter I'll probably do tomorrow night. Apart from the difficulty of letting the laundry build up to unmanageable proportions (to wash by hand) there is no rush because I still seem to have heaps of clean clothes to wear.
Saturday 28th April 2012
12:11 BST

  The outside air never had much of a chance to warm up, but in the sunshine it felt remarkably warm when I came home from work last night. It was particularly warm on the train from Waterloo East to catford Bridge. So much so that I had to take my coat off, and still I ended up with sweaty armpits. It was all a bit of a contrast to the grey skies and persistent drizzle that fell for most of the day, and only stopped less than an hour before I was due to go home from work.

 Sadly, that warm sunshine, and the huge areas of bright blue sky did not last. The weather forecast promised that this morning would be bright (although maybe not actually sunny). The reality was that from soon after sunrise, and continuing still, there has been drizzle falling from a leaden sky. I know that at 4.30 this morning it was almost dry, or at least it was during the quick walk I made into the park, and back again, to ease the effect of waking up with cramp in my left leg. If this morning's forecast was so wrong, perhaps it will be wrong for this afternoon too, and moderately heavy rain will transmutate to bright sunshine like yesterday.

 It's hard to ,pinpoint when it really started, maybe before last Xmas, but definitely for the last month or two I have really gone off work. There is no one individual reason for it. It's lots of small things piling up into one big whole. The travelling has varied between just acceptable, to bloody horrible, since day one. The latter obviously rises to the top whenever the weather is cold and/or wet - and there has been an excess of that so far this year.

 Other annoyances include how the quality department has risen from small beginnings to it's current mighty empire whose reach and power would make both Queen Victoria and Adolf Hitler envious. It is that department that who I, in my own irrational way, regard as personally responsible to introducing the "nice little business you have here, be a shame if it got damaged" ISO protection racket accreditation people. For a miserable old git like myself, who is firmly set in his ways, that has been a tremendous upheaval, and yet a non event. I still do my work in exactly the same way as before - the best I can do. They are now also responsible for my health and safety which, knowing their lack of knowledge and experience, I find quite terrifying.

 One particular thorn in my side, and one that has been festering for a long time now, with an extra dose of poison just before Xmas, is how the value of my wages has constantly been eroded as the countries economy goes down the pan. There seemed no hope at all that it would change in the foreseeable future.......until yesterday. Out of the blue I was informed that we have all (I think) been awarded a 3% pay rise with effect from 1st May. That, together with the change of tax code from the first of this month, will help lift some of the doom and gloom. In fact I think I am now 3% less pissed off with work, and 3% less desperately hoping for some alternative to my current job.

 I had two possible plans for today. The first turned out to be a non starter mid week. It was to go to Ashford for a lunchtime drink with my friend Ivor. Not only is the weather foul, but he has to take his kid to an (amateur) football match. The second possibilty was to go to Hastings and walk along the coast to Bexhill. Yesterday I was even considering doing it in the rain, but this morning reality caught up with me. I would like to see the sea, I always like to see the sea, but spending two hours on a train to see the sea and walk in the rain, and then another two hours to get back is the plan of either a madman, or a masochist. My sanity occasionly goes for a walk, but it seems to be back at home this morning, and apart from going to work most days, I am no masochist.

 So this morning I've just made two shopping trips in the rain, and that's it for the day, and maybe the weekend. I may do some laundry today, or maybe tomorrow, but having taken stock of my reading material, I think I'll be spending a lot of time reading this wet weekend. Currently I have two paper books I'm reading - one long novel, and one short stories. I have two magazines to read, and I am also reading an e-book on my mobile phone.

 The e-book on my phone is mostly to keep me amused on the journey home from work (in the morning I read The Metro free newspaper). It is a sci-fi novel by Robert Heinein, and so is the paper book novel I am reading. With similar characters in both there is some possibility of confusion. So it would make sense to make the paper book novel the priority to get finished. The only trouble with that idea is that I have several more enjoyable books by Heinlein, all featuring a similar set of characters (almost a future family history) to re-read.
Friday 27th April 2012
08:30 BST

  The change was not obvious, but it did seem to be a lot milder yesterday afternoon compared to the morning. There were dry spells, but there was a lot of rain during the day. Luckily it was dry when I left work to go home. That coincided with the sun coming out. The sun and the breeze quickly dried the road and pavements, and gave the illusion that I might have been going home on a fair February afternoon. The remaining deeper puddles spoiled that illusion, but it was nice while it lasted.

 I was hoping to say that this morning was rather nice. When I left home there was bright blue sky to the east, and dark brroding clouds to the west. If the sun had been a little higher in the sky I would have been bathed in bright sunshine, but I had to make do with seeing it shine on the tops of trees and houses. The weather was moving towards the west so it should have been dry, but as I waited on the station it began to rain. Curiously, it seemed like there were few rain drops, but they were very big rain drops. It was probably the angle of the light that gave that illusion. The one thing that was for sure was that if I had not been wearing my hooded rain jacket I would have been soaked !

 The rain stopped soon after I got on the train, and the rest of my journey into work was done mostly in sunshine. Once again it seemed like the eastern half of the sky was clear and blue, and the western half dark and threatening. That has all changed since arriving at work. The sky looks grey all over, and we've just had the first of possibly many heavy showers today. There is hope that the rain will clear later this afternoon.

 I started off feeling like I should not have gone back to work yesterday, but by lunchtime I was feeling mostly OK, and "normal" for the afternoon. That gave me just enough enthusiasm to do a couple of things last night. The first was to put back together a computer monitor, and test it. The monitor was one I was given quite a few years ago, and in my opinion it is quite good. When I was given it, it had a small fault that I was able to fix. After a year or two of good service that fault came back. The problem seemed to be faulty soldering of one of the chips inside.

 Yesterday I took the circuit board into work where I have the proper tools for working on such things. Even under the microscope I could see nothing screamingly obvious, but I completely resoldered all 132 pins of the suspect chip, and last night it seemed like my repair had worked. I tested it for just an hour, and it survived that, but only time will tell if it is a real permanent repair, or just a fluke.

 Another thing I did last night was to test out my digital TV (USB) dongles. What I wanted to know was how much difference the boost in transmitted power of the digital signal, since the analogue transmitters were turned off, would make to reception. Under the low power service reception could be slightly patchy on the tiny little aerials the dongles come with, but now reception seemed fairly solid. Despite that, I still have no compelling use for those dongles though I could imagine a few scenarios where they might be of some use.

 This morning I feel mostly OK. I would feel far better if I had been able to come to work with no coat, and just a short sleeved shirt..........or maybe I would feel worse because I would by dying to get out into the sunshine instead of stuck in work for the day. Ah well, at least it's only time measured in mere hours before the weekend. I consider the weekend to start as soon as I leave work today. The only flaw in this ode to joy is that there is not a lot to enjoy this weekend apart from not being at work.

 There are no gigs on this weekend that I want to attend, and I don't think I'll be seeing anybody (at all). On top of that, the forecast for the weekend is not looking too wholesome. It seems the April showers are going to continue right into May without pausing for breath. Maybe even May will be a washout, and I'll never get out and do any interesting exploring.
Thursday 26th April 2012
08:12 BST

  Yesterday's rain took a short break during later afternoon, but as darkness fell it started off again, and at time was quite heavy. It seems it continued during the night, and this morning everything is very soggy..........and it hasn't finished yet ! If the forecast comes close to reality, it will mostly stop during the middle part of the day, and we could see some sunshine. That should raise the temperature to an almost pleasant, but not fully, 14 C. It seemed to be 10 C when I left home. That should have felt mild, but there is also a rather cool breeze blowing this morning.

 It is difficult to make judgements about the weather right now. I am back at work, but I don't feel that good. My back still feels very stiff, but so far my legs have not complained like they did yesterday. One part of yesterday was particularly trying. I decided I had to wash my hair to get all the sweat out. Leaning over the bath as I shampooed, and conditioned my hair, was really agony. My back ached, and it felt like my knee joints, and leg muscles were going to lock solid. I probably should have actually got in the bath so that I could occasionally stand up and not have to worry about soapy water cascading down my body, over my trousers, and onto the floor.

 In some respects, coming into work this morning was not so bad. Some fresh air, and a chance to stretch my muscles were nice, but now I am here I feel uncomfortable, grumpy and irritable. It's probably not a good time for work to have their first ISO9001 inspection. If those inspectors should attempt to ask me anything they may not get the reply they expect. That's going to upset certain people here. It might even result in a written warning, but I shall claim insanity made me do it - and there might even be a smidgin of truth in it :-)
Wednesday 25th April 2012
11:15 BST

  Tuesday stayed fairly cold, and ended up fairly wet. Yesterday was not so cold, or so wet. At 6pm I checked the BBC's online weather forecast for the local area and it said it should be 11 C, and drizzling. Then I looked out the window and checked my thermometer. It was prefectly dry outside, and although the sky was cloudy, the clouds were broken enough for the sun to be shining. The temperature was 13 C. Of course it couldn't last, and as darkness fell so did light rain. This morning has been very dull and wet, and looks like it will be all day.

 I woke up yesterday morning covered in sweat, and felt really rather strange. Dizzy, or light headed do not seem to be adequate descriptions of how I felt. It was more akin to being drunk without the slurring or unsteadyness. I became convinced that I was fighting some sort of infection. The only other symptom was an occasional mild, but recurring pain to the right of my belly button. I assume that one of my internal organs was up to something strange. I wonder if it had anything to do with a punnet of strawberries I ate on Monday night. They were a few days past their sell by date, but I would not consider them to be fully ripe even then.

 At 6am I decided that I felt too odd to go to work, and rather than either stay up, or get up at 8am to call work I sent an email. That's not exactly protocol, but seemed adequate to me. I then went back to bed where I slept on and off until around 10am. I felt more stable by then, and just before midday I decided to go up the road and buy some food. That re-triggered the sort of feeling of being drunk. It was a strange detached like feeling. The odd thing was that though my brain seemed to be floating the rest of my body was feeling better than normal. It almost felt like I could run to the supermarket.

 Coming back was less exhilarating. It seemed to drain the energy out of me. Once home I had a semi light lunch of French stick sandwiches, and then I climbed on my bed to do some reading. It wasn't long before I had drifted off to sleep again. I spent most of yesterday in, or on my bed, and earned a nasty backache as a reward for it.

 This morning my chief complaint was that backache along with creaking joints. I think I could possibly have gone into work again this morning, and maybe it might have been better if I did. The exercise would loosen up my back and legs, and the fresh air might have blown the tiredness away. At least that was my feeling an hour or two ago, but now I'm not so sure if that would have worked. I am at the stage of an illness where it feels fine while doing nothing, but draining to do anything physical, and yet that is precisely what I have to convince myself to do.

 My back is not stopping me from doing anything, and yet it is rather annoyingly stiff and slightly painful. I need to go for a walk to get the kinks out of it, and yet I don't want to. Very soon I won't be able to, at least not comfortably. Before I started writing I put some lunch in the oven to cook. It's fish and chips, but not fish and chips as we know it. As a continuation of the desire to eat more oily fish that I started at the weekend, and which did seem to do some good on Monday (or did it do bad ?), I am having tuna steak and gigantic oven chips.

 In theory I'll be back at work tomorrow esperately trying to work out exactly what I am going to write on my sick self certificate. Assuming it is close to being all over now, at least the worst of it, it will have been a bit like compressing 'flu down to 48 hours, but 'flu just does not last only 48 hours ! The beginning was definitely a bit like 'flu, but I can't describe it as that. Maybe this is what doctors* are for - for putting names on illnesses. They are not much good for anything else !

* This does not include surgeons. I am in awe of a sawbones who can whip a limb off in 23 seconds, or strip a body down to it's component parts, and then put it back together again. Doctors, on the other hand, are barely past the herbs and leeches stage. Visiting one of them is to gamble your life and liberty to a game of random chance - in my humble experience. Your exact mileage may vary.
Monday 23rd April 2012
08:05 BST

  The late afternoon/early evening rain did not amount to much, but it did sound as if there may have been some heavier rain well after dark yesterday. Conrary to how I understood the forecast, this morning is rather pleasant. The clouds must had gone away in the early hours, and although there are hints they are coming back again, it is bright and sunny with plenty of blue sky right now. It is also milder than I thought it was supposed to be. I read 9 C on my outside thermometer this morning. Maybe the wind will pick up later and spoil things, but if the clouds could hold off for several more hours it could start to feel warm outside. Once the clouds do start to gather it could mean some heavy rain. The forecast suggests that could happen quite early in the afternoon.

 It may be no surprise that I did very little after writing about doing very little yesterday. One of the little, or maybe not so little, things I did was to have my dinner. Like lunch, it was salmon with mixed chargrilled vegetable. Whereas lunch was salmon burgers, my evening meal was salmon en croute (or something similar - salmon wellington ?). It was, I have to confess, rather a large portion, but without a supporting cast of potatoes and stuff.

 Apart from the char grilled vegetables having a slightly explosive effect this morning, I seem to have eaten well this weekend, and by well I mean of benefit to me. My trousers seem to be unusually loose this morning. I was able to pull them up to the point where any higher would "split my difference", as they say, and without my belt I would be in great danger of them slipping down to my ankles everytime I jiggled a bit. Even more significantly, what I both expected and hoped for seems to have happened. The fish oil seems to have loosened up some of my stiff joints. In particular, my right knee gave no twinges as I came to work.

 All is not so rosy though. I had the lousiest sleep I've had in ages last night.  I gave up trying to get to sleep around midnight, and read for three quarters of an hour before finally being able to settle down. Even when I did get to sleep I woke up for a while in the night. I doubt if I even got 4 hours sleep last night. I feel OK for the moment, but I expect I'll crash sometime this afternoon.

 I did a little more of revisiting some of my old photos yesterday evening, and I selected another three from 2003 to show again. They are all of animals - some cuddly, and one less so.....
a comfy cat
This is Schiba taken on 1st September 2003. He was a cat who I first saw looking thin and dirty, and offered him some of Nelly's left over food. Very soon he adopted me, and became an ardent chest cat. Some cats are lap cats, but Schiba would prefer to leap onto my chest and start paddling away while I did my best to avoid his drooling. I don't know how old he was, but I think he died of old age. One day he acted slightly odd, and in the evening he demanded to go out even though it was raining. That was the last I saw of him. He was found in the garden of a nearby house curled up next to a fence, and looking as if he was asleep. The woman who found him took him to a vet who could find no obvious reason why he died, and suggested it may just have been old age.

Nelly
This is Nelly taken on 5th July 2003. She was a rescued cat who I gave a home to. I was told she was found trapped under the floorboards of an empty house. She was a very independant cat who would not allow herself to be picked up, and although she would delight in sitting beside me, she would never sit on my lap. Unfortunately she, like me I suppose, had a tendency to overeat. Eventually she suffered diabetes, kidney problems, and became very ill. With her extreme reluctance to be "manhandled" any effective treatment would have traumatised her, and although heartbreaking, I had to agree with the vet that the best option was to have her put to sleep.

Crystal Palace park dinosoar
Now this animal is slightly less cuddly ! I took this picture on 7th Dec 2003 while walking around Crystal Palace park. One area of the park has lots of these wire frame and concrete prehistoric animals. In the summer months, when the surrounding vegetation becomes lush, they are partly hidden in the foliage, and can look remarkably lifelike. They had become quite tatty, and during my visit they had just finsished the first part of a restoration project. All of them had been cleaned and repaired, and were just waiting to painted into the most authentic colours known (or imagined).
Sunday 22nd April 2012
15:21 BST

  Yesterday continued to stay dry as far as I can recall, and the temperature stayed what could be call "fresh". It was not excessively cold this morning, and up until now it has been bright with a lot of unexpected sunshine. Now it seems to be getting very overcast, and it looks as if we could get something more substantial than a brief light shower that passed by a little while ago.

 There is something about Sundays that inspire laziness in me. Unless there is a compelling reason to do something, or hot sunshine draws me out, I am very inclined to do very little. This morning was definitely bright, and not that cold. I did feel a slight pull to go out, and having eaten fairly moderately yesterday, I could have gone somewhere, but the Sunday effect was too strong to resist. So I've stayed in and done very little of any significance.

 Perhaps it was some sort of subconcious effort to motivate me that resulted in me doing one tiny little thing. That was to look back, and select and edit some past photographs to show here. I chose to review photos I took 10 years ago in 2002, and selected three of them.
view from Romney, Hythe & Dymchurch railway carriage across the shingle near Dungerness
I took the above picture on 20th June 2002 while visiting The Romney, Hythe & Dymchurch Railway.
This view was as the train goes round a large loop near Dungerness (approximately here - http://g.co/maps/tfrus)

Harwich Radio And Cycle Supplies
Once upon a time it was quite common for radio supplies shops to sell bicycle parts (or vice versa).
The shop my dad started after being demobbed from WW2 did both cycle and radio repairs. In later years he stopped doing cycles and started TV repair. Despite that, right up to his death in 1968, and when the shop was sold, it had a good stock of cycle spokes which would often be fashioned into all sorts of clever tools, hooks etc.
This picture was taken on a trip to Harwich on 28th July 2002.

view from Erith with the QE bridge crossing at Dartford in the distance
This picture, taken on 23rd Sept 2002, was taken a tiny bit closer to home.
It is a view from the River Thames riverside at Erith approximately east, with the Queen Elizabeth bridge at Dartford in the far distance. At the time I was working for Mastercare, and this was shortly after the workshop was moved to Erith, and shortly before I resigned. Compared to the workshop in Elmers End it was a horrible journey to work, and a horrible area to work in.

 All three pictures above were taken on my first proper digital camera. It was a 1.3 megapixel Olympus C100. It had no zoom function, but the quality of it's sensor, and lens system was so good that pictures printed on A4 paper looked far, far better than all the experts said shoud be possible. It's other great feature, and one that even some modern cameras lack, was almost instant "shutter" action. Some of my subsequent cameras would actually take the picture anything up to a full second after pressing the shutter button. Until I learned to be patient, and got to know the characteristics of a new camera I ruined many a shot by lining up the next shot while the camera was still thinking about taking the previous one ! Grrrrrrrrrr !!!!
Saturday 21st April 2012
16:54 BST

  In some respects, yesterday was not a bad day. It was quite cool, but not exactly chilly, and a lot drier than I imagined it might be. There was a little light sprinkle of rain as I walked from work to the station. Some slightly heavier rain around 6pm, and a light shower, or two later in the evening. Today has been far better than I recall the forecast suggesting it might be. I can't recall a single drop of rain falling, and there has been a lot of intermittent sunshine, and plenty of areas of blue sky.  There has also been little wind, but enough, and from a cold direction, to keep the temperature down to 14 C - mild, but not exactly warm.

 I was very lucky last night on two counts. The first, and more important, was that it was dry when I went to The Swan pub in West Wickham to watch Chain playing. The second bit of luck was that I didn't die. I rather stupidly ate two rolls after getting home from work, and before going out. Those two rolls were enough to make it feel like I was having a heart attack as I walked to the station, and from West Wickham station, up the low hill to the pub. I am not sure what causes this effect, but it is the reason why I can only go out on long walks on an empty stomach. Maybe because of some peculiar medical condition my stomach actually does push up onto my heart and/or lungs, and maybe I do come close to dying because of that. At least I didn't die before the gig. That would have been a waste of train fare !

 I don't actually like The Swan. It is most definitely a football supporters pub with a strong emphasis on Crystal Palace football club, and last night it was particularly full of lads who looked like typical football hooligans. The one positive thing is that the 6ft 10" governor of the pub does not accept any bad behavior. One lad was given his marching orders when he appeared to be getting a little over boozed.  The other bad thing about the pub is the layout of the tables in relation to the band. With a lot of people in there it is difficult to find good positions to take photos without the fear of getting in the way, and annoying someone. So I only took a couple of photos.
Chain playing at The Swan pub in West Wickham, Kent
I had to take pictures over the heads of people, and that meant the camers flash was weakened by the distance, and the pictures lost their sparkle (and needed some post processing).
Jo Corteen at The Swan, West Wickham, Kent
Jo and half of Chris' head !
Jo Corteen and Chris Mayer at The Swan, West Wickham, Kent
This time I got all of Chris in the shot.
Gut Harris at The Swan, West Wickham, Kent
Luckily for Guy there was no fire in the fireplace.

  It is annoying that trains run much later from London to West Wickham that train to London. The last train to West Wickham is well past midnight. The next stop up the line is Hayes (Kent), and that is a terminal station. From there the last trains just run out of service, back through West Wickham, and Catford Bridge to the depot. The last train in public service that I can get is 23:17, and that meant I had to leave the gig a third of the way into the second set. That was, once again, annoying, and it was a slight irritation that I just caught the end of a light shower as I left the pub. Happily, it petered out after a few minutes.

 With a several good pints of Guinness inside me, and my earlier food settled, and also it being downhill, the walk back to the station was as easy as pie. Having had those rolls earlier I really shouldn't have wanted any more food, but that idea does not take into account the booze. Accordingly I stopped off at the chicken shop for a pile of hot wings and a bag of "fries". I munched those, as tradtion dictates, while watching some old rubbish on TV, and eventually got to bed around 1am.

 In an ideal work I would not have got up until 9am this morning, but I had Aleemah coming round, and so had housework to do. So after about 5 hours of sleep I was up, and feeling relatively OK. Naturally I had a small hangover, but it obviously wasn't that bad because, unusually, I did a surprising amount of hoovering this morning, plus other assorted housework type things.

 I may not have had much willpower last night, but when I did some shopping in Aldi this morning I managed to be quite selective in what I bought. For instance, tonight I am having a pile of "chargrilled Mediteranean vegetables" with some Salmon burgers. So that's loads of vegetables and oily fish. What could be better ? Well, it would be better if there was less non fish oil involved. The polycrappulated stuff that the vegetables are soaked in is probably lethal in large doses, and almost certainly contains a lot of calories, but is still probably very slightly better for you than bread fried in beef dripping. Overall, the meal will probably be better than the takeaway I was considering getting for tonight !
Friday 20th April 2012
07:52 BST

  There were some very heavy downpours of rain, and even a few peals of thunder yesterday. Then around midday the rain and most of the clouds cleared, the sun shone, and at least half the sky was bright blue. After that the rain returned again, but fizzled out while I made my way home from work. There was a bit more rain in the evening, and even another peal of thunder, but eventually the clouds dispersed, and this morning has started off bright and sunny. The forecast suggested there could be a frost this morning, but my thermometer suggested it was 8 C when I got up. The forecast also suggested that rain will return sometime this afternoon, possibly as I am going home, and probably while I'm travelling to West Wickham to see Chain's gig. Later in the night it should be dry again.

 I still felt a little creaky, and had a few aches when I left work to go home yesterday. To some extent they eased off the nearer I got to home, and once I was in the warm and dry, and sitting down, I felt perfectly comfortable - for a while ! I achieved all my objectives last night. I bought the latest New Scientist on my way home. After I had put my dinner in the oven, and sat down for a while, I tackled my laundry.

 There was more there than I appreciated, and it was hot sweaty labour going through that lot, but with sweat running down my face I finished it all. It included 5 shirts and one t-shirt, a few socks and underpants, and a medium size towel. Wringing that out several times as I washed, rinsed, and rinsed, and rinsed........etc.....and finally conditioned, was pretty hard work in itself. Nevertheless, I still managed some smug pride at having finished it all, and that made the rest of the evening more pleasant.

 After dinner I let my food digest for nearly an hour before tackling the third and final objective for the evening - washing my hair. Once again my hands were plunged into hot soapy water (figuratively speaking) as I massaged shampoo, and then conditioner into my hair with my still aching hands, wrists, and arms (once again, figuratively speaking....apart from the aching bits - they definitely ached !).

 I felt immensely tired after washing my hair, and I longed to jump into bed and go to sleep. Once or twice in the past I have tried putting a fresh towel over my pillow so I can go to bed with wet hair, but it's not very satisfactory. I had little choice but to potter around for an hour while my hair dried off. I do have a hair dryer, but I don't like using it, and lack of practice means that if I ever do use it I end up getting it stuck in my ear, or trying to dry my armpit instead of my head. I can get a fag into my mouth while blindfolded and blind drunk to an accuracy of 0.5mm on first attempt, but I just cannot point a hair dryer behind, or even to the side of my head in the right direction !!!

 When I finally got into bed a lot of the fatigue I had felt had gone, and instead of just hitting the pillow and falling asleep I had to do a little reading first. Eventually I did settle, and I was probably fast asleep by 9.30pm - only half an hour late. From the state of my duvet when I woke up this morning I can only conclude that I had a very rough night. I only remember waking up in the night once, or twice, and then only very briefly. I do remember having a long ramling dream about an ATM - a cash machine - "hole in the wall". I wasn't exactly trying to hack it, but it was very unfamiliar, with loads more knobs and buttons than a real one, and I didn't understand the labels, where there were labels, on any of them. So I resorted to experimenting, and all sorts of things happened. I don't actually recall getting any money out of it, let alone "hitting the jackpot", so it was all probably rather pointless.

 I have only one objective for tonight, but I do have a fall back plan. The prime objective is to go to see Chain playing, but I feel I probably won't go out in the middle of a thunderstorm, or even just very heavy rain. Either is possible, and if either does happen my fall back plan is to order a takeaway, open a bottle of scotch, and revel in the decadence of my own company :-)
Thursday 19th April 2012
(In a rare move, I've retrospectively edited the first two sentences of this days blog to make it seem written in something closer to English than gobbledegook - you'll have to take your chances with the rest of it).
07:55 BST


  There were few periods when there was no rain falling at all yesterday, and sometimes the rain was no more than a few loose drops blowing in the wind, but overall it was a very wet day. Happily, there were also lots of times that the sun managed to find it's way through cracks in the clouds to brighten up the day. There was more rain during the night, but since the early hours it seems to have stopped. I didn't check, so it might be just my imagination, but this morning feels less cold than yesterday. The rest of today could well turn out like yesterday - some sun, and more rain.

 Work was not that awful yesterday. For a time I had my microscope back so I could do some meaningful work, and some of that work was quite interesting. While that was good, I'm not sure if it was good enough to make up for having to come to work in the pouring rain yesterday. I fear that today could be another tedious day, but at least I am dry (for now), and my room was not too cold this morning.

 Even when I went home yesterday I still had some aches and pains in various parts of my body. All the assorted ones in my torso are probably just my internal organs in an advanced stage of decay. Presumably they will get worse until one, or more of them, completely gets beyond economic repair. That's be a good excuse to take some time off work !

 My aches, pains, and general grumpiness were put aside for a little while when Patricia visited me to bring back some duvet covers that she generously took to wash in her washing machine. It's surprising how much a quick hug, and a peck on the cheek can act as a short term pick-me-up, or maybe it's not so surprising. In between Patricia moaning about some of her work difficulties I did manage to get a word in edgewise and tell of the many ways I have been fed up recently. It was a slightly tempered version, and I don't think it actually had much impact, but at least I remembered to say it. It's not easy to recall just how down in the dumps you've been when currently happy. At least it isn't for me.

 I got to bed a little later than intended, but maybe it didn't matter. I slept well again, but woke up half an hour early. That did give me a bit of extra time to iron the creases out of my body, and the walk to the station seemed less arduous than it did yesterday. Even so I didn't feel like rushing around this morning. My progress as I crossed from Waterloo East to Waterloo mainline station was more sedate than usual, but I think I kept up close to my normal pace when walking from the station to work.

 Once the morning air temperature gets above some arbitary value, perhaps 12 C, I know that I'll feel far more active in the morning. Apart from the obvious irritation to my chest from gulping in lungfuls of very cold air, it's hard to know just why I, and maybe most people past their 40s, the cold should cause everything to seem like hard and painful work. It is probably counter-intuitive that I have more energy after a full day at work than I have when I start. The only difference is the air temperature between morning and (late) afternoon.

 Let's hope the theory holds true for today, because there are several things I should be doing tonight. One will take no effort at all - buying the new New Scientist on the way home. Washing my hair is not exactly exhausting, but takes more energy than looking at a computer monitor, but there is one thing that does require a small excess of energy. That one thing is hand powered laundry. I'm at a gig tomorrow night, and seeing Aleemah on Saturday morning, so it would be prudent to wash a few shirts, and some underwear, while I have the time. With luck I'll get all three things done tonight, leaving me free to go out to The Swan pub in West Wickham, probably in the pouring rain like last time, to see Chain's gig there.
Wednesday 18th April 2012
09:30 BST

  The worst of the rain was over by lunchtime yesterday. The only mild inconvenience was some very light drizzle while walking from the station to home. Unfortunately the rain returned overnight, and my journey into work was a very soggy one. The rain has eased off since, but has not stopped, and it's likely there will seldom be any really dry periods today...and maybe tomorrow as well!

 While in Tesco, on my way home from work last night, I picked up some goodies. I found a large punnet of strawberries at half price. Now they are nice healthy stuff, but the half price strawberry cheesecake slices, also for half price, were maybe not so good for me. One disappointment was a small tin of coconut flavoured peanuts I noticed lurking among the shelves of Carribean foods. The peanuts were coated in a hard candy shell with no more than a hint of coconut flavour. I consumed a lot of calories for little reward there.

 Last night I managed to get to sleep a little bit earlier than yesterday, and that was earlier than usual. Not only did I get to sleep nice and early, but I slept well too. I did wake up briefly once or twice in the night, but only woke up a few minutes before my alarm was due to go off. In terms of tiredness, I feel OK this morning, but in other respects I feel, or at least felt pretty lousy. Bits of me were sore or stiff, and once again it seemed like really hard work walking to the station in the cold damp air.

 One thing I didn't have to suffer this morning was a cold train. It was quite hot instead, and that was an excellent idea after walking to the station in pouring rain. I had my cagoule type thing over my coat, but I was still damp in many places, and even the bits that were actually dry felt clammy.

 It was on mornings like this morning that I have to constantly remind myself that being on the dole can be total purgatory, and not the complete luxury that certain politicians think it is. I really did not want to come to work this morning. I felt uncomfortable, cold and wet, and most days I really hate work recently. If dole money paid for food and fags plus cat food, and there was still money to pay energy bills I would definitely go for it, but for a single man, with absolutely no back up resources, I would be in debt within a fortnight, and probably homeless within a year (assuming I could be forced to sell my home by my creditors). I guess I'll just have to continue to go to work no matter how insane it is driving me.......and then comes a morning like this morning where for 5 minutes work is actually interesting again. Maybe it will be even longer than 5 minutes.

 Tonight I think I have something to look forward to. With luck Patricia will be dropping by home with 4 freshly laundered duvet covers for me. It will be nice to see her, and even nicer (for me) to have a good moan about life, the universe, and everything. The only flaw in that idea is that it is difficult to be really grumpy when for the moment you are not actually grumpy. Oh well, such is life !
Tuesday 17th April 2012
07:47 BST

  If yesterday had been a bit warmer it migt have been a nice day. Much of the day was bright, and there were many sunny intervals, but the temperature only reached something like 11 C. Today will, or is supposed to, end up a few degrees warmer, but it is also going to be rather wet. This morning has started off both good and bad. The good is that the rain that was forecast arrived an hour or two late, and it's only now I am work that it has started in earnest.

 The bad thing about this morning is partly due to my own negligence, and partly due to SouthEastern Trains. In anticipation of the rain I had a choice of either my lightweight rain coat, or warm coat and cagoule. With the temperature forecast to be somewhere between mild and slightly warm this afternoon, I decided on my lightweight rain coat. It is very lightweight, and although lined with a sort of "string vest" type material, it provides very little insulation from the cold. It wouldn't have mattered too much if the train I got on in Catford wasn't heated to just above the boiling point of liquid nitrogen ! It was bloody freezing in that train. Enduring the walk to the station, and a short wait for the train made me feel cool enough, but after 20 minutes in that mobile ice box I felt chilled to the bone.

 The train from Waterloo to Earlsfield was not particularly warm either, but it was warm enough to turn my hands from purple to pinkish-blue, and then it was out in the cold and rain as I walked to work. I arrived here at work feeling cold and miserable, or maybe I should say even more miserable, but I was happy to find that my room had the heating on, and was warm. Hopefully, finding my room to be warm will mark a change in how I've felt so far this morning.

 I managed to get to bed, and to sleep, before 9pm last night, and I think I slept well. I did wake up 45 minutes early though, and that was rather annoying. I don't think I felt any worse than usual when I first got out of bed, and I was anticipating that a nice warm shower would leave me feeling rather good. It made me feel nice and clean, which was good, but it also made me want to go back to bed, which was bad. As I got dressed the temptation to get back into bed was very strong. It was just sleepiness. I did feel quite fatigued, and that made the walk to the station seem like really hard work. Even on days when I've walked 6 or 7 miles it has always been the walk to the station that was the hardest part, and this morning I felt utterly knackered when I got there. In a humane world the Stationmaster would have taken me round the back and shot me to put me out of my misery.

 It looks like I had better have another early night tonight, but before then I have things to do. First of all is I have to get some shopping in on the way home from work. Among the items I want are some new rubber gloves. They are terribly useful things when carrying out a murder, or building a bomb, but they are also useful when thrashing about clothing in hot soapy water as part of my hand laundry system.

 I did have a good pair of "Satin Sheen" (or some such nonsense) gloves that were both comfortable and durable. They are not a Tesco own brand, but Tesco stock them, and that last pair survived for weeks before they developed a small tear. They replaced a pair of cheap gloves from Aldi that lasted one and a half washes. A pair from a three pack I bought for 99p at the 99p Shop fared even worse. They split the very first time I tried to wring out a wet shirt. So it's off to Tesco on the way home to buy new rubber gloves, Diet Coke, cat milk, and some food for me. Maybe I'll buy a spare pair in case I want to murder someone, or make a terrorist bomb. The first of those two is quite likely unless I can find my superglue activator soon. Whoever hid/lost/stole/threw out or ate it couldn't deserve less !!
Monday 16th April 2012
08:03 BST

  Yesterday looked nice, but everytime I went into my bathroom, where I had left a window open, an almost icy blast reminded me that it was a very chilly day yesterday. This morning was even chillier. My outside thermometer said it was 2.3 C when I woke up, and there was a frost on top of all the car roofs. It seems that today, like yesterday will be quite bright, and mostly sunny until later this afternoon, but once again the temperature is going to struggle to even get into double figures. Tomorrow is supposed to be slightly warmer less chilly, but it may well be a lot wetter too !

 Maybe it was a reaction to being mostly bored stiff, or maybe it was a foresighted thing to do, but during the afternoon I decided to give my microphone collection a "dusting down". It possibly started with a stray thought that wondered what might happen if I should ever decide to take to the airwaves again as a radio presenter. That thought was left unanswered, but it did leave me to consider my favourite microphone. I wondered if, when I had packed it away 5, or more years ago, I had left the battery in it.

 After some rummaging I located the microphone, and several others in my collection. In answer to my first question I found that I had left the battery in, but to my relief it hadn't started leaking. With idle time on my hands I decided to rewire a couple of my spare microphones as proper balanced microphones with professional XLR connectors on them. Some of those microphones were originally left idle because they didn't sound all that good when not connected in the right way to proper matching inputs.

 Now I find that when plugged into my small professional microphone mixer they all sound quite good, but I think I still probably prefer my favourite microphone - at least when listening live on headphones I do. What I should have done is made a short recording on each microphone, and then compared them during playback. I have a suspicion that even an ancient microphone I have, made by Grampian, a name almost associated with 78 rpm records, would actually have sounded rather good now the connecting lead is wired correctly, and fed into a proper matched input.

 After my little dalliance with audio engineering I sat down and watched some TV, and had some dinner. After "Countryfile" finished, at 8pm if I recall correctly, I went back up to me bedroom and prepared for bed - almost ! In fact I got sidetracked and ended up writing a letter. That took longer than I anticipated, and it was gone 9pm before I was in bed. At that point I should have been able to get to sleep very quickly, but it didn't happen. It was closer to midnight before sleep came, and although I slept fairly soundly, it was yet another night when I have slept less than the ideal 8 hours. Tonight I must try and do better. The bright sunshine today will help me feel awake during the day (I hope), but if tomorrow is going to be as gloomy as predicted, then I had better try and get a full 8 hours of sleep tonight or I'll be wanting to go into hibernation all tomorrow.

 Gaff of the day !!
"Please make sure the back door is closed when you leave" - from a company email this morning. Personally I prefer the door to be open when I leave - it saves squidging your face on it as you try to force your own molecules through the wood and external armouring. Perhaps "please make sure the back door is closed after you leave" may have been more appropriate.
Sunday 15th April 2012
07:36 BST

  There was a little more sunshine after I wrote yesterday, but it was not as strong as in the morning. Late in the evening the cloud really began to thin out, and that almost gave a frost this morning. Currently the temperature is a rather nippy 4 C, and could be even closer to freezing at ground level. Today is going to be mostly sunny, but with a top temperature predicted to be only 11 C it's not going to feel that nice outside.

 Unlike on Friday night, I did get out to see Chain's gig last night. I also managed to do the laundry I was threatening to do. I thought I was getting myself ready to go to the gig nice and early, but as it turned out it was actually later than I thought. After enduring a long, horribly hot and stuffy, and slightly crowded bus ride of about 25 minutes, I finally arrived at The Royal Albert pub in Crystal Palace (or Upper Norwood for the more pedantic) in time to help with some unloading, and setting up of Chain's gear.
gig tonight at The Royal Albert
The Royal Albert pub, Crystal Palace, SW19
 It was a funny old pub that stank of fish when I arrived. The locals seemed a mottley collection, but unlike in some pubs, they seemed completely harmless. The main thing I would moan about was the colour scheme. It seemed OK to the eye, but my camera didn't seem to like it.
Steve Cox on the bass, with Guy Harris on drums behind
Pale green walls, and dark wood panelling - maybe that is not a good mix !
Long shot of Chain at The Royal Albert pub in Crystal Palace
One good thing is that there was plenty of space. Chain took up the whole of the front of the pub. The front door was locked, and the side entrance used.
Jo Corteen and Chris Mayer in rock star pose
 It was a most enjoyable evening, and with the last bus at 00:45 there was no rush to leave early. Being a coward I actually opted for the second to last bus at 00:30. Going home was a more pleasant experience than getting there. The bus runs to some sort of timetable so it couldn't have been any quicker, but with less stopping at each and every request stop, and less traffic on the road, it felt quicker. Maybe going home always feels quicker.

 I am unsure how many pints of beer I drank last night. It was quite a few, and when the bus arrived in Catford the idea of going to the toilet seemed like it would be a good one. Nevertheless I exercised self restraint in one respect, and no self restraint in another, and dived into the fried chicken shop to order what I hoped could be served quickly. I got that a bit wrong, and my discomfort increased, but it wasn't anything like the discomfort two other guys felt.

 One of the guys was quite drunk, and the other extremely drunk plus ! The latter one decided to collapse in the road outside the chicken shop. His friend decided to either pull him upright again, or drag him clear of the traffic. In doing so he ended up falling over himself. He didn't seem to notice that his head appeared to be the first thing to hit the road. I thought that both of them would end up unconscious in the road, but they managed to help each other to the side of the road, and the worst one ended up hugging a lamp post to stay upright.

 While all this was going on there was a police car parked a hundred feet away with it's blue lights on. The two coppers, on a man, and the other a woman, seemed content to watch the  two drunks rolling in the main road, and eventually decided to walk over. As soon as they saw the two guys had got up, and heading for their friendly lamp post, they turned around and headed back to their car and sped off with the blue lights off. I thought it was a bit of a poor show that they didn't offer assistance a lot earlier.

 When I finally arrived home I rushed straight to the toilet, and once comfortable again I turned on the TV and tucked into my dinner. I had ordered quite a lot of chicken, and this morning I can look forward to several pieces of cold greasy chicken - which will probably be nice, and cold greasy chips that will be revolting ! I can't remember what I watched on TV, but I think it was a portion of "Carry On Henry". I had missed the beginning, and I didn't wait to the end.

 It was 2am when I got to sleep this morning. Now I know that I was in bed exceptionally late, and miraculously so did Smudge, but my bladder and bowels took no heed of the fact when they woke me at 5am ! Three hours sleep is a lot less than I desire. So after dealing with the needs of my plumbing I went back to bed, and slept for another hour. So far I have had four hours sleep, and surprisingly I feel OK. Even the mild hangover I had has gone. I could potentially stay up now, but I think I will draw the curtains again and try for a couple more hours of sleep. It doesn't feel like I will get to sleep again, but with nothing else happening on a Sunday morning I've got nothing to lose by trying.
Saturday 14th April 2012
14:53 BST

  The funny thing about yesterday is that if I had not let the official forecast sway me, my gut reaction to the morning fog would have been right. I wrote that I did not expect to see any sunshine yesterday while all the time thinking that once the fog had lifted it would be sunny. Much of the morning was sunny, and the sun did it's best to shine even when it began to rain in the afternoon. On my way home from work I heard several peals of distant thunder. In Catford it was raining, and I got slightly damp as I walked from the station to home.

 After dark I heard more peals of thunder, a couple of them quite loud, but all obviously distant. During the night there was a lot more rain, but none of it was heavy enough to wake me up, or to keep me awake. By sunrise the rain seemed to stop, and despite a lot of cloud in the sky there has been quite a lot of sunshine since then. It wasn't particularly cold this morning, and currently it is about 13 C. It may be that the best of the sunshine is now over, and there is the chance that rain will return later.

 When I got home from work I went through all the motions of preparing to go out. I washed my hair, and initially had a very light meal as my hair dried. The trouble was that I allowed myself to relax a little more than was good for me. Then a light rain shower passed by, and my fate was sealed. Instead of going out to the gig at The Hob in Forest Hill I settled in to watch the rest of the evening news on TV, and ate the chicken legs, and "Chinese Style" pork ribs that I had cooked in the oven that I intended to snack on when I came back from the gig. It may be that a further nail in the coffin of my desire to go out was the announcement of the start of a new season of "Have I Got News For You" starting at 9pm last night. Maybe the gig would have been better, but I enjoyed "Have I Got News For You" a lot.

 One of my problems is that if I choose to stay up a bit late on a Friday or Saturday night I do it on the stupid idea that I'll just wake up later after getting my 8 hours of sleep. It never works like that. It is rare for me to stay asleep more than half an hour after 5am - the time I get up to go to work. This morning was no exception. I went to sleep two hours late, and woke up as close to 5am as makes no difference. Fortunately I can, and did go back to bed after attending to my, and Smudge's needs. This morning may have been one where I did manage to go back to sleep easily, and did sleep for another couple of hours (maybe a bit longer - I wasn't counting).

 It took a while before I was washed and dressed, having got up for the second and final time, but eventually I got my act together, and went to Aldi to buy a huge bag of heavy cat litter, and a pile of cat food for Smudge. I am not sure if Smudge deserves all the trouble and toil I go through for her. Yesterday I mentioned that the one good thing about me was my almost lean, and semi muscular thighs. In a small way I lied. They are not that magnificent because they are disfigured. Across the tops of them are numerous small scratches and puncture wounds caused by Smudge's sharp claws when she sits on my lap. Last night I realised that she had crossed the line. One of those little scratches was not on my thigh, but somewhere where no gentleman would want to be scratched (unless he was into certain peculiar practices). I was not unaware when it happened, but I didn't think the skin had actually been punctured !

 After getting Smudge's supplies in, and a few bits for me too, I had a short rest before going out again to the 99p shop. I didn't have to struggle back with a back breaking load of cat litter on this second shopping trip, but a couple of bottles of bleach, a couple of bottles of shampoo and conditioner, two big cans of peas, and many other miscellaneous items still adds up to two moderately heavy carrier bags to lug back. After that I had some lunch, watched a bit of TV, and had another snooze on my bed. Now I'm writing this.

 Tonight I am definitely going to Crystal Palace, to the The Royal Albert pub, to watch a Chain gig. So from now on I've got to be semi active, and not eat anything substantial until I get home again. I'm not sure how I am going to manage that, but maybe I'll do a bit of hand laundry to keep me a bit active for a while. The trouble is, as I write this, and because I am writing it, I am thinking more and more how nice it would be to do the exact opposite. My bed and a book seem to be calling very loudly !
Friday 13th April 2012
09:28 BST

  Yesterday continued to be damp, but I seemed to miss some of the heavy downpours reported in some parts of London. During the night the clouds parted, and we came close to a frost this morning. In Catford there was a slight misty haze in the air that softened distant views. As my train approached Clapham Junction on the way into work , we were enveloped in thick fog. It was still quite foggy as my train reached Earlsfield, and the view from the station down onto the cemetary was very atmospheric. The fog seems to have lifted now, - at least at ground level. Overhead, the sky is unbroken very light grey. I am not expecting to see much, if any, sunshine today, but I think there is a good chance of seeing some rain at some point.

 By late afternoon yesterday I was obviously feeling better, and definitely good enough to do some hand powered laundry. The 6 pillow cases were easy, but the bed sheet needed a fair bit of wrestling to get done. It would have been easier if it was dry and sunny yesterday. Had that been the case then I wouldn't have needed to put so much effort into wringing the bed sheet out. I could have just let it drip out in the garden. I still get a great feeling of satisfaction of doing my washing by hand, and I'm sure it could be almost counted as exercise for bits of my upper body in the same way that walking exercises bits of my lower body. Even after not doing too much walking as an exercise, my thighs are still the best "toned" part of my body. Of course I do top them up with nearly an hours worth of walking as I commute to work. Sometimes in my madder moments I imagine that if the rest of my body looked as good as my thighs, I would be considered to be quite good looking by women with bad eyesight.

 It took me a little while to get to sleep last night after a mostly lazy day that features a lot of snoozing, but on the whole I did eventually get a reasonable nights sleep. This morning I initially felt fairly rough, but several magnitudes less worse than I felt the morning before. Eventually I managed to untangle all the knots my body seemed to be tied in, and after some very chilly, but fresh air, I actually started to feel unusually good. There were hints about it as I crossed from Waterloo East to Waterloo mainline station. Somehow it seemed slightly easier, and slightly faster. The most obvious difference, although of course it could just be one of attitude, was that instead of dreading the climb up the temporary footbridge at Earlsfield station I almost had an urge to run up it. I doubt I could have managed that more than halfway, but I did feel a slight lightness of foot, and went up slightly faster than usual for seemingly less effort.

 Tonight, if in the unlikely case I am still feeling fairly good, and it's not pouring with rain, I may be bold and go and see a couple of unknown bands by myself. There are two bands listed playing at The Hob in Forest Hill tonight, and neither of them are called Black Vendetta, but the man who writes their Myspace pages insists they are playing there tonight. It is Black Vendetta I want to see. I don't think I will like them that much, but I am curious to see the man behind loads of witty comments on Myspace. The Hob is only a 20 minute bus ride away, and the gig is free. So I have little to lose by indulging in my curiosity, and maybe it will be good. There's an example of Black Vendetta here - http://youtu.be/UKYgL4qpOsk (You Tube).
Thursday 12th April 2012
14:45 BST

  During yesterday afternoon great big black clouds dominated the sky, but the sun defiantly continued to shine. It wasn't until about 6pm that there was a couple of heavy downpours of rain. Today has been mostly bright, but there have been occasional outbreaks of drizzle. The current temperature is only 10 C, and that probably makes it the coolest day so far this week, but also appears to set the trend for the next few days.

 All my theories about last night took a complete right angle turn when I got a call from Iain while waiting for my train at Waterloo East station. He was in Catford with spare cash in his pocket, and wondered if I wanted to meet him for a drink when I got back to Catford. I did, but I only wanted a pint or two before I continued on my original plan of going to Tesco for some provisions. That didn't work out because we were joined by Kevin, and that meant an extra pint (or actually two more).

 I sampled several different beers by the half pint measures before settling on (I think) "Wild Willies" wheat beer. By the time I left the pub it was too late to go shopping so I ordered a kebab from the shop next door but one from the pub. I am not entirely sure how I ended up getting chicken shish on a bed or rice because I was aware of ordering it. By itself it was rather dry, but drenching the rice with some Thai salad dressing made it rather nice.

 I doubt anyone would believe me when I say I'm sure it had nothing to do with the beer, but I had the most lousy night, and a horrible migraine like headache this morning. I've had plenty of hangovers, but I can't recall them being that painful, and including such things as back ache, and a touch of fever. I was fine until I woke up at around midnight. After then my sleep became very disturbed. I can remember having loads of dreams featuring the most bizzare situations. I can't remember any details about any but one of those dream, but the quantity I can recall having suggests that I was frequently only just about asleep.

 By 5am, when I initially got up, my brain felt like it was trying to escape through my nose, and push my teeth out. I felt far more shivery than I should have considering the temperature of my room (about 18 C as I recall), and a bit nauseus until I saw and smelled what Smudge had left in her litter tray - which turned mild nausea into a major battle to keep my dinner down ! After feeding Smudge I took a couple of Ibuprofen, and went back to bed.

 Sleep didn't come instantly, but eventually I did enter a period of deep sleep. Eventually my sleep became shallow, and I had a dream that seemed to last for an hour. I dreamed that I was at work. It seemed so real that I really thought I had gone to work instead of (later) calling in sick. There were some very strong clues that it was a dream that, with hind sight, were extremely obvious. For a start my boss looked like my previous boss, although he still talked like my current boss, and talked about current events at work. The biggest clue of all, that seemed to coincide with me waking up, was watching the waves traversing across a flooded bench next to mine. It was covered in a good inch of water, and yet none of that water seemed to flow off the side of the bench.

 It was just before 8am when I woke up, and I felt considerably better than when I had gone to sleep again. Maybe at that time I could have faced going to work, but I still had a fading headache 3 hours later, and intermittently even now. I also seem to get occasional aches from the waist down (lower back, right hip, and assorted leg joints and muscle). It's these assorted menagerie of aches and pains that make me not want to blame the beer for whatever ails me, although I suppose I could blame it for making me sleep in some sort of awkward way that resulted in assorted injuries without obvious scars.

 In one of the moments when I felt OK this morning I finally went and got my shopping in Tesco. Going out in the fresh air was nice for a bit, but it was also nice getting home again. After a very early lunch I lay down on my bed again, and read a few pages of New Scientist before falling asleep again. I don't know how much extra sleep I got because occasionally I would wake up, listen to a song or tow on the radio, and then drift off again. That brings things up to date, and right now my major affliction is that my finger tips, and to a lesser extent my hands, hurt from pounding the keys on my PC keyboard. I think I'll return to some reading, and later on I may do some laundry, or something...........
Wednesday 11th April 2012
08:11 BST

  Most of yesterday was sunny, and the only significant rain was a fairly heavy downpour that lasted for little more than 10 - 15 minutes about half an hour before I left work to go home. The temperature got up to around 14 C by late afternoon, but went down quite quickly once the sun set. This morning we nearly had a frost, but the temperature managed to stay a few degrees above freezing. It was still cold enough to get my hands almost feeling numb by the time I got to work. I believe today will be more cloudy than yesterday, and it's likely there could be more rain. With less sunshine it's going to be a few degrees cooler than yesterday.

 I could have done lots of things when I got home from work. I could have emptied the waste bin in the kitchen. I could have emptied Smudge's litter tray, and I could have done some laundry, but I didn't do any of those things last night. I could also have watched all 30 minutes of the BBC London news, but I didn't do that either. I did watch the main news, but the local news was all about the upcoming London mayoral election. There is only so much of that you can stomach, and after 10 minutes I turned off and went up to my bedroom. After doing a litle research on the internet I decided to get into bed and do some reading. At 9pm I turned out the light, and was asleep in minutes.

 For the most part I slept well, but I must have woken a few times because fragments of dream come back to me. There was a dream that seemed to involve having to scan each frame of a movie film to transfer it to a computer (very possible, but incredibly time consuming), and a dream that seemed to involve some sort of orgy taking place next door. Finally, and just gone 4am I was awoken by Smudge scratching at my door again. I managed to stay still and ignore, and she gave up fairly quickly. I might almost have got back to sleep again, but she tried a new tactic - singing to me !

 So this morning I was up at a little after 4am feeding Smudge. I took advantage of the extra time available to me by washing my hair. It was definitely in need of it, and so the time was not wasted. Another thing that extra time was useful for was dealing with the consequences of the brown lentil salad (amongst other sources high in fibre) that I had for breakafast yesterday morning. Maybe it wasn't the lentils, but it is so easy to make them the scapegoat in these situations.
Tuesday 10th April 2012
07:56 BST

  I heard some heavy sounding rain during the night, but this morning the clouds had all gone away, and the sun has been shining brightly ever since it rose. The temperature was 8 or 9 C when I left for work, and if the sun can keep shining it might even get to approach feeling warm before the end of the day. If the forecast is correct it will still stay closer to mild than warm, and this afternoon could see some heavy rain. There could even be hail and thunderstorms, but between them the sun may pop out for a bit.  Even if this afternoon is the semi disaster forecast by the BBC website, at least the day has started off bright and happy.

 Wouldn't you just know it, I've just rechecked the BBC website so I could include a link to the weather forecast, and the forecast has changed in the last hour or so. It seems that the chances of dark clouds and rain have lessened, and the chances of more sun, increased. The temperature is still forecast to be a less-than-warm 12 C, and it will cool as soon as the first drop of rain falls - which is currently forecast to be just as I'm going home :-(

 I was most definitely bored yesterday, but also quite often I wasn't feeling all that well. Both contributed to an unpleasant sort of day, and both were partly the reason for the other. Had I not been bored I probably would not have noticed feeling less than sparkling, and had I felt better I might have been inspired to be a bit more constructive.

 I have no idea how I felt unwell yesterday. There was no one significant thing that made me feel rough, but just an assortment of odd niggles. One of the more definite things is that my subjective temperature seemed to fluctuate a lot. Sometimes I would feel almost shivery, and sometimes almost too warm. The chances are that it was all in the mind. Apart from a bit of earlier stiffness when walking, I feel fine while the sun is out, and the sky is blue. Of course it could have been my bubonic plague acting up again, or a mild touch of whole body cancer, but I had plenty of roughage in my breakfast this morning (brown lentil salad) and that apparently cures everything.

 It is entirely possible that tonight could be a boring night, but stuff could happen. I might feel in a masochistic mood and hand wash some sheets and/or pillow cases. I don't think there is any need for an extra early night, tonight. I slept ten times better last night than I expected to. After lounging around for almost two days, I didn't really expect to get to sleep last night, but it seemed easy to fall asleep at my usual hour of 9pm. As far as I can remember I slept well all the way through to 4am this morning. After that I got very little sleep. For one thing I didn't feel particularly sleepy, and for another I had a hungry cat scratching away at my bedroom door. This morning I was not desperate for a pee, and so I managed to not respond to Smudge's scratchings. If I can do that more often she may give up trying to wake me up at silly hours of the morning, but I fear it has worked once too often for her to give the idea up.
Monday 9th April 2012
18:04 BST

  The weather is just as threatened. It's a rather cool 12.7 C, and has hardly changed all day. The sky is just various shades of grey, and from time to time there is a shower of rain. Perhaps the only positive thing, unless you are a gardener/farmer and wanting a good deluge on your plants, is that the rain, when it has fallen, has been quite light.

 Today has been a mind numbingly boring day. Apart from some laundry I haven't done a worthwhile thing all day. Sitting or laying down has left me feeling stiff and uncomfortable. The one time I did go out was only to the corner shop, and I didn't really enjoy it. No, in a way I did enjoy a bit of fresh air, and even a bit of rain on my face, but I felt so creaky that it felt like hard work to walk a few hundred yards. I've no doubt that if I had walked a few more hundred yards I would have loosened up, and I would have begun to feel fine.

 I was going to write that I've felt quite miserable today, but as I think about it the word miserable doesn't seem to be entirely accurate. I think the word that sounds better than miserable is ennui. Dictionary definitions seem to vary, but all can be read as ennui meaning boredom with a bit extra. One search result for ennui takes you straight to the wiki page for boredom. None of these words adequately describes how I've felt today, although at any one time they, and several others, such as frustration, could be entirely accurate for that particular moment in time. Overall it has not been a happy day.

 There were moments that did feel close to good though. When I went to the corner shop I treated myself to a triple chocolate and caramel ice cream bar. Not only did it taste nice, it was also a nice anarchic thing to consume. There's nothing like a bit of anarchy to lift the spirits.

 Another good thing was that in all the complete, and seemingly never ending, unwatchable dross on TV for this whole long bank holiday weekend, I did find one little gem to watch. It was the movie "Passport To Pimlico" starring, amongst others, Barbara Murray ! It is an excellent Ealing comedy dating back to 1949. I've seen it several times before, and it never ceases to raise a smile. Until recently it was freely downloadable from the internet archive, but some "media wanker executive" seems to have renewed it's copyright to squeeze a few more pounds out of the work of people who have already been handsomely paid, and in all probability are now dead (it was made 63 years ago !).

 There has also been some good news that gave me a warm glow inside. The BBC reports that Iran, always portrayed in the media as monsters, has taken the enlightened step of blocking the olympics web site. This is wonderful news. The sooner we end this surrogate global war fought in a sweaty arena the sooner world peace will come about. Later this summer I am thinking of emigrating to The Duchy Of Grand Fenwick, which must surely be one place safe from the 2012 consumer olympics, and dress rehearsal for a police state in East London.
Sunday 8th April 2012
19:08 BST

  Overnight cloud meant that it was not particularly cold this morning. I am unsure of the exact temperature, but I would guess it was around 9 or 10 C. Today has been very grey with occasional light sprinkles of rain, and the temperature has managed to creep up to 14 C - which is not particularly wonderful. I've just seen the weather forecast for the next few days and it seems it is going to be dull, dreary, and occasionally wet too.

 I slept amazingly badly last night. Initially I couldn't get to sleep with all the things buzzing around in my mind, and I woke up several times in the night. It's probable that the best sleep I got was after I went back to bed at around 6am. I didn't think I slept particularly well when I woke up again until I realised that what the time was, and found I had been asleep for over three hours. I felt far better for that additional sleep, but the dull weather outside seemed to draw away any ambitions I had to do anything at all.

 I ended up spending a great deal of time on the internet. I had come across a website about the radio stations that broadcast from the Shivering Sands ex-WW2 coastal fort. The first name of the station was Radio Sutch, but in a short space of time it's name changed to Radio City. I think there were 11 long web pages that I read through, and several of these had links to other web sites that I also looked at.  I think it was well past midday, and possibly past 1pm before I gave my eyes a rest and went and cooked some dinner.

 Later in the afternoon I had a look in my archives, and re-edited some photos I've shown before, and I am going to show again. Once again they are radio related, and date back to September 2003 when I was assisting in the making of a documentary about land based pirate radio. The last time I showed them I didn't really provide any captions. This time I will. The scene was the re-creation of a typical small pirate radio station broadcasting from out in the countryside using a mobile, battery powered transmitter. Three members of a local amateur dramatic society were roped in to play the young men running the station. They wre given wigs to make them look a bit more contemporary for the time period being represented - the mid 1970s. A classic car, a Morris Minor (or Morris 1000 ?) was borrowed to add to the scene.
recreated transmitter in the boot of a classic Morris Minor
This is the specially re-created pirate transmitter in the boot of the old Morris car.
Old Morris Minor borrowed for the scene
The classic car with the three actors and the producer (or director ?), and later on, the video editor wearing the cap.
The main cast with the producer
The producer with the three actors who did their best to look as if it was the mid 1970s.
Video camera trained on the re-created transmitter
The video camera trained on the back of the transmitter. I think this shot was to show the rotary converter starting up when it was attached to the car battery. The rotary converter was a device like a motor connected to a generator that produced 250 volts for the valves from the 12V from the car battery.
Patrick Edison at the controls of his video camera
This is Patrick Edison, creator of the documentary at the controls of his camera.
I think actors call it getting their motivation for a scene
The three actors clutching their wigs getting their instructions and motivation for the next scene.
fuzzy picture of the re-created medium wave transmitter
A bitterly disappointing, out of focus picture of the transmitter set up as it would have been back in the mid 1970s. Fortunately I do have some sharp pictures of the transmitter before it was taken to the field.
medium wave transmitter built in the style of a typical 1970s pirate radio station
Here's the front view........
side view of transmitter
...and the side view with the rotary converter bolted to the back.

 It was a fun day during that filming, and I was paid precisely one sandwich for my help !  Incidently, if you study the picture above you can see a red wire in the foreground that goes through the chassis. If that red wire was disconnected from the small hidden lightbulb that dissipated the power produced, and was connected to the empty terminal sitting alone at the top left hand side of the transmitter, it would have been a fully functional transmitter, and illegal ! Transmitters like these would be an engineers pride and joy, but sadly might only have a life of a few weeks before being confiscated by the authorities (a practice that in later years we were to find was actually illegal in itself before a later change in the law granted them those powers).

 Back to the present. I think I am going to try and get to sleep a bit earlier tonight. Tomorrow I can't really imagine myself going anywhere in the cold, grey and probably damp day that has been forecast. With no trains from Catford this whole long weekend I wasn't planning on going anywhere anyway. I am unsure of just what I will do as I sit here. I still have plenty to read, but maybe I can find something more constructive do when I think about it in the morning.
Saturday 7th April 2012
18:14 BST

  Yesterday afternoon ended up too cloudy for the sun to add any wamth to the day, but it did keep some of the heat in, and this morning did not start as freezing cold as it might otherwise have done. Most of today has been mildly grey, and the temperature stayed almost constant at around 9 - 10 C - not warm, but not horribly cold either.

 Last night I had some doubts about how I would feel this morning, but I neededn't have worried. I didn't exactly feel bouncing with energy, but I didn't feel rough either. So at about 9.15am I was picked up by my friend Mike, and his brother, and we drove to Tilbury docks to visit The Ross Revenge - Radio Caroline's radio ship. The boat is deep inside the port, and generally off limits to the public unless special arrangements are made. We had to report to the dockside police station, and present our passports. My passport expired in 1974 ! I originally got that passport for a trip to Holland where I, and two other friends, hoped to see something, anything, to do with the several pirate radio station boats that were supplied from Holland. One of those boats was the Mi Amigo, the former home to radio Caroline. We didn't get to see anything then, apart from the harbour where the boats tenders were based. Obviously getting that passport was a good investement because although 38 years out of date, to my, and the policeman's amazement, it finally allowed me to see Radio Caroline's boat.
The Ross Revenge - Saturday 7th April 2012
The "boat".......
The Ross Revenge (stern)
......and her stern.
 Apart from some rare special occasions no broadcasting actually takes place on the boat now. So the crew that welcomed us aboard were just the restoration crew who are doing a great job turning a rusty heap into a fully restored show piece. I can't remember the names of the two main guys (I am terrible at remembering names), but they did a first class job at showing us around.
Fully working Gates mixer on the Ross Revenge
This Gates mixer is in full working order, and occasionally is used, but is more just a museum piece to show Caroline's heritage, and as a useful prop for visiting film makers.
Russco turntables on Ross Revenge
Professional turntables made by Russco
 We were give a very thorough tour of the boat by our guide. If I had one complaint it was about the speed we went round the place - it was too slow. I can appreciate that those who are unfamiliar with radio stuff would need longer to take it all in, and this was probably so for Mike's brother, but for me it was sometimes a little tedious. I haven't got a photographic memory, but I can fill in the details from my own personal knowledge. What I really wanted to do was to soak in some of the atmosphere so that now when I play an old tape of Radio Caroline I get a better feeling of how it was to broadcast from a boat. As I write this I am listening to a recording I made on the 29th November 1974. It wasn't actually broadcast from The Ross Revenge, but her predecessor, The Mi Amigo.

 One area of particular interest to me was the transmitters. The boat has several transmitters on board. None of them are in full working order, but could be made to be so without too much effort, though it is unlikely they will really be used ever again. For me it was the first time I've been up close to a 50 thousand Watt transmitter. Technically it is no different from a far lower power transmitter (which I am very familiar with), but everything is BIGGER !
half the business end of a 50 thousand Watt medium wave transmitter on board The Ross Revenge
This is half the business end of a 50kW RCA ampliphase medium wave transmitter on board The Ross Revenge.
(this enclosure is about 1 metre wide)

 I don't know if anyone spotted it, but this caught my eye on one of the windows on the bridge........
Ofcom radio licence for Ross Revenge
.....looking remarkably like a car tax disk, this is a ships radio licence. Presumably it was for their ship to shore marine transmitter used after they left the high seas as a radio pirate, and came inside the 12 mile limit. It seems to have expired in 2007, but while they are more-or-less permanently moored inside the port, and have been for 7 years now, they don't actually need a ship to shore radio set.

 I wasn't keeping track of the time, but Mike reckoned we were on the boat for a little over three hours. The drive back to Catford was an interesting tour of bits of the East End of London caused by missing turns twice. Once back at The Blackwall Tunnel I was able to navigate rather better than the sat nav box we had relied on earlier.

 I was surprised to get back to Catford so early in the afternoon. I had been worried that we would get back so late that I might miss Chain's gig at The Birchwood pub in Abbey Wood, though ultimately that wouldn't have mattered because the gig tonight is cancelled because the pub stupidly made a double booking, and Chain lost out.

 Being back so early did give me a chance to get out and do some shopping. When I came back from that I suddenly felt very tired. So I cooked some breakfast/lunch/dinner (I had gone out without any breakfast) and watched some TV while I ate it. It's quite handy that there is no gig tonight because now I just want to lay back, and probably read for a few hours before turning in for the night.
Friday 6th April 2012
16:24 BST

  The clear sky at sunset last night allowed the temperature to plummet. This morning it was still crystal clear, and there was a bright crispy frost on everything. I'm sure it was not as forecast, but it has been a bright sunny day, and the temperature has slowly eased up to an almost reasonable 13 C now. Before sunset it might even manage an extra half degree. As I write this the BBC website says that there should be white cloud, and I have to admit that though it still seems almost sunny, a lot of the sky is closer to white than blue. If their prediction continues to be correct there will be some rain around sunrise tomorrow, and the rest of the day will be cold (9 C) and grey.

 This long weekend Catford is cut off from the rest of the world.....at least by rail it is. Engineering work means there are no trains from either Catford, or Catford Bridge stations. Should I wish to go further afield the only option is to go by bus. That may be OK for short trips, but for any further distances I consider myself effectively marooned in Catford. Fortunately I don't really function outside when it's cold. So I am happy to stay here.......although the sunshine outside was tempting until an open door or window reminded me of just how cool it really is out there.

 I was also reminded how cold it was when I did go out for a bit this morning. The reason was that Aleemah braved the lack of trains and caught a bus from Lewisham (where trains were running) to Catford to see me. She was actually very lucky on her bus ride. There are half a dozen or so bus routes that run from Lewisham to Catford, and all but one take a direct route. The exception takes the scenic route, and sort of circles Catford to sneak in the back way.

 Once Aleemah phoned to say she had caught this bus I expected to have drunk a couple of pints of beer by the time she arrived at the pub where we had arranged to meet. A couple of things meant that didn't happen. The first of which was a decision I made to visit a cash machine on the way to the pub. "On the way" is actually slightly incorrect because it involved a short walk past the pub. On this occasion it was slightly more than a short walk.

 At the end of my road I crossed the main road to the side that the pub is on, and walked to the pub. It was as I approached the pub that I made the decision to top up my wallet. So I walked on until the traffic lights where I could cross back across the main road to where I usually use the cash machines. Maybe it was karma, maybe it was just synchronicity, but I got there just as the signals changed. After a wait the signals changed again and I could cross the road. When I got to the usual cash machines I found that they were quite busy. The reason was that the sun made the displays so hard to read that everybody was doing strange gymnastics trying to use their bodies as a sun shield.

 There are a couple of cash machines on the other side of the road that I hardly ever use, but neither was anyone else despite them being in the shade. It took ages to cross the road there because I had to wait for two sets of signals to stop the traffic from two directions, and then find a gap in the traffic from a third direction. Having got across the road, and got my money I had to negotiate the first set of traffic lights again.  Things are more complicated there because it is a T junction. If you time it perfectly you have the traffic from the south stopped, and can cross to the central island just as the traffic from the north stops.

 I timed it for the worst option. I just missed the green man for the first part and had to wait until it became green again. Of course at that time the second crossing signal goes to red, and you have to wait until that goes to green again. Having negotiated all the roads and pedestrian crossings I arrived in the pub to find no bar staff in sight. After a few minutes someone appeared and served me my beer. Just as I carried it back to a table Aleemah appeared. The bus she had caught had hardly any passengers, and the back roads were completely clear. So she had arrived in Catford in record time.

 I am not sure why, but I feel very odd today. I had felt knackered when I came home from work yesterday, and today I feel something like knackered, but not quite. The closest I can describe it like how you feel just before coming down with a cold, and maybe it is just that. With no work for a few days, and no plans, apart from one, to go out, it wouldn't really be that bad if I did have a cold, but it could mess with that one plan.

 That one plan takes place tomorrow - or hopefully it will. A friend of mine from Canada has made special arrangements to visit the Radio Caroline boat tomorrow. Generally visits only happen on special open days, but with my friend coming all the way from Canada special arrangements were made. What should happen is that Mike, the friend from Canada, and his brother (from Portsmouth I think) will pick me up at 9am tomorrow, and we'll drive to the port of Tilbury where the boat is berthed.

 Being inside the port area brings a few complications. It is effectively on the outside of the UK border controls, and a passport is needed to go into the port. The only passport I have expired in 1974, and it was "interesting" to find if that, and maybe my birth certificate will be enough to get me past the goons on the front door !  If it doesn't then I'll have to get the train back from Tilbury station to Limehouse station where I can get the docklands light railway to Lewisham, and from there a bus to Catford. It's not an unreasonable route - if everything is running OK, and even with trains running to/from Catford it would still be my chosen route.

 On the face of it, it would be disappointing to miss this chance to see the boat, but if my passport doesn't work, or if I find whatever ails me has turned into a full blown cold in the morning, there could be compensations - in a sort of way. I've been listening to Radio Caroline all afternoon, and quite frankly I am very disappointed. The current presenter (Steve Silby according to their web site) has a very pleasant voice, but his music choice is exctretable ! If their schedule said he was on tomorrow when we should be there I'm not sure I would want to go anyway. He would definitely spoil the ambience, and the whole point of the visit (for me) is the ambience rather than meeting people. I want to stand on the boat1, maybe shut my eyes, and conjure up the feeling of the 1970s and 1980s when so much wonderful music was played from "a point in the North Sea to the circles of your mind2".

1 I think technically it is a ship, but it was always affectionally known as "the boat".
2 The quoted text is from one of their old jingles in their more hippy like days.
Thursday 5th April 2012
19:24 BST

 Yesterday stayed bright right up to sunset, but although bright, there was not enough actual sunshine to warm up the cold breeze that stopped the temperature rising to anything beyond "mild". This morning there was thick cloud. There were a couple of very light, very brief showers during the day. Eventually the cloud did thin out, and the sun even had a go at shining this evening. With much clearer skies we are in for some real cold tonight. It could drop below zero by the morning !

 For the next paragraph substitute the vilest, rudest, filthiest, and/or blasphemous word you know wherever you see {>>><<<} (Anglo Saxon terms for copulation may not be adequate in some cases).

 Why the
{>>><<<} do the train companies have to choose half term to mismanage their rolling stock allocations and {>>><<<} run a half length train. The {>>><<<} thing was, as {>>><<<} expected during half term, full to the {>>><<<} brim of {>>><<<} prams, and other {>>><<<} sundry young noisy things. It happened last night when I was travelling home from work between Waterloo East and Catford Bridge. It made my feel {>>><<<} {>>><<<} {>>><<<}annoyed !!!!!!!!!!!

 My journey home did not set me up for a good evening. I didn't do anything worth mentioning, but I managed to calm down before I went to bed. During the night I had a dream that surprised me. As far as I can remember I was on the phone to someone I don't particularly like, and he was asking for help in solving a crossword clue. The clue was "food container" and the answer consisted of a 5 letter and 6 letter word. I can only imagine that in real life I had seen this clue before because, as the dream ended, which I think was after I had hung up the phone, I suddenly came up with the answer "bread basket". Later on in the night I had another dream that was strange enough for me to want to recount it here, but it seems that every single detail of it has now evaporated from my memory.

 This morning didn't get off to a good start. When I arrived at work I found the boss had come in extra early, and was attempting to do some soldering in my office. There was no legitimate problem with that except that I want to sit down and strat writing this blog, and of course I couldn't really do that when the boss is looking over my shoulder. So I've had to wait until this evening to start writing.

 I don't know if it was a busy day at work or not. I wasn't exactly rushed off my feet, but I did feel shattered by the time I got home. My original plan was to come home via Tesco to buy the latest New Scientist and some dinner, but I felt like I just wanted to get home as fast as possible. As I write one sort of tiredness has passed over to another type. I ordered a large Turkish meal to eat tonight. Once again I didn't realise just how much I had ordered. I knew that the "Incik" would be a large dish. That is a fair chunk of lamb that is very slowly cooked in a tomato and herb gravy. What I didn't realise was how big the "Salad A La Turka" was going to be. My uneducated thought was that it was just going to be a few leaves and other bits and pieces. I should have read the description a bit better. It had humus and bulgar wheat as well as leaves, tomatoes, cucumber, olives, and other stuff all crammed into a big foil takeaway container.

 After that meal I have a strong urge to lie down and digest it all, and that is exactly what I will be doing soon. I'm going to read for an hour or so, and then turn the light out to go to sleep.
Wednesday 4th April 2012
09:12 BST

The sun gradually got edged out by the clouds yesterday afternoon. By 8pm the clouds had become dense enough for a heavy downfall of rain. The rain probably continued on and off all night until sometime in the early hours the clouds went away. It was quite a surprise to find clear skies and bright sunshine this morning. I was expecting it to be nasty and grey with sleet. Not only is the sun shining, but the temperature is a lot higher than I expected. It is still rather chilly out, but 9 C is 5 or 6 degrees more than expected. There is still a threat that it could cloud over again, and that it might even rain, but for now it looks wonderful outside, and if it warmed up by another 10 degrees it would probably feel wonderful too.

 My laundry went better than expected when I tackled it yesterday afternoon. The three t-shirts with nasty food stains on them cleaned up OK, and I managed to manhandle the very thin duvet cover. I also did four pillowcases. This morning all were dry, and ready to put away. I might even tackle a bed sheet, or two tonight, or I might not ! Perhaps I should though......just two bedsheets, and a few more pillowcases would completely clear my backlog of laundry (not counting the clothes I am wearing right today).

 There is even more good news about clothes that I don't think I've mentioned yet. It was actually on Monday morning that I tried on a pair of light buff coloured trousers that I hadn't worn since last summer. I was rather amazed that they still seemed to fit comfortably. I had imagined that I might have a struggle doing them up, and that they would be too tight to comfortably wear, but no, they fitted perfectly. I guess that means I've either lost most of the weight I put on over winter, or I didn't put on as much as I thought I might have. That leaves me hope that I will be able to get some sort of version of "fit" sometime this summer.
Tuesday 3rd April 2012
12:39 BST

It stayed sunny yesterday, but it failed to raise the temperature to anything better than "mild". Overnight the clouds gathered, and this morning was not as cold as I thought it might be. There have been several sunny spells during the morning, and the temperature is currently a tiny bit higher than 14 C. The cloud is getting thicker now, but there is still a chance that we could get a little more sun before we plunge back into winter. If that happens then today, much to my surprise, could be closer to warm than yesterday. The forecast says there could be some showers this afternoon, and overnight there could be some sleet, or maybe even snow !

 I spent yesterday afternoon being very lazy. I spent hours laying on my bed either reading, or dozing off. Later on I listed to some special music, and it inspired me to write this for my other blogs (Myspace and Google+)......

How can something so melancholy also be so wonderful ?
Excuse me, I've slipped into grumpy old man mode again.

 It all started a couple of Friday's ago when I heard a wonderful rendition of Pink Floyd's "Wish You Were Here". It prompted me to play the whole album a few times, and playing it today, on a quiet Monday afternoon, really got my brain frothing. I started remembering the past, and thinking about the future - always dangerous things to do.

 It's something that every generation does, but I feel my generation has a good claim that "our" musical experience saw a peak of creativity that may never be reached again. There were good songs before, but we had the LP. Not every LP was good. Far from it, but some not only had wonderful music on it, but were encased in a piece of artwork that CDs try to emulate, and downloaded music feels naked without.

 A previous generation could probably tell of queues outside a record shop waiting for a new piece of music to be released, and I have no doubt that it felt good to get it, take it home, and carefully put it on the turntable. From then on it was just music, but we had artwork to study, invent wild theories about, and generate moods and expectations.

 In those pre internet days the main source of music news was magazines/papers like Record Mirror, or Melody Maker. I seemed too busy, or maybe too disinterested to buy and read them, but I knew people who did, and once the rumour started that Pink Floyd were releasing a new album expectations ran really high. Once it was released I high tailed it to a record shop (or maybe it was WH Smiths), handed over my money, and rushed it back to my turntable.

 Pink Floyd's "Wish You Were Here" did not have spectacular artwork. Some may say it was actually rather plain, but it was interesting anyway. What it did have was a series of evocative songs. Songs commemorating the genius of Syd Barrett before his brain was burnt out from drug abuse. A song lampooning the music industry, and a song that hits a real resonance in my brain by containing the lines "We're just two lost souls swimming in a fish bowl, year after year,Running over the same old ground.What have you found? The same old fears. Wish you were here". Once upon a time that meant something, now it seems to mean something slightly different. It's very melancholy, but also rather wonderful.

 Once I got that off my chest I did a renewed search for a solution to a problem that had been bugging me. It's roots go back to when I bought my Orange* "San Francisco" mobile phone. It was, and still is a wonderful phone. It's easy to debrand to get rid of all the Orange rubbish that clutters it up, and slows it down, and easy to unlock to use on any network. From the day I bought it (having unlocked and debranded it the same evening) I have been using it as my main mobile phone. Then I read about the "San Francisco II" phone. It was similar, but faster with extra facilities like a front facing camera. What's more it was also ridiculously cheap at just 99.

* Orange, the mobile phone network.

 Debranding, and unlocking the San Frascicsco II was not quite so straightforward, but still easy. Unfortunately the new firmware/ROM I put on it suffered from a major annoyance. I don't think it affected all models. It depended on which manufacture of touch screen had been used for it, and my was one that was affected. The problem was that where you touched the screen did not correspond to the icon/whatever was under the touch. It was possible to learn where you should touch to activate wahtever you wanted to activate, but it was a real nuisance. Another nuisance was that I could not get seem to get the firmware update to work again to try alternative firmware. Last night, after much searching I found what I needed.

 By updating the software to just a bootloader I was able to install the latest Orange firmware, and apart from getting all the crap, and annoying, Orange applications back, everything worked as it should. Finally I found some new debranded firmware, and this morning I installed that. The phone is now working perfectly without all Orange's crap on the 3 network. Tonight, or tomorrow, I'll swap the 3 sim card over to my giff gaff sim card, and it will finally become my main phone.
 
 The other thing I did this morning was to go to Tesco where I bought, and humped back, 4 litres of Diet Coke, a bottle of Lenor black diamond fabric conditioner, and a big bag of cat litter. Well, that was the most significant heavy stuff. I also found lots of naughty stuff like cornish pasties on the reduced price shelves, and they had to be bought. I'm now stocked up with all the stuff I need for a few more days now.

 Had I realised that today was going to be brighter, and less chilly than I thought it was, I could have made another attempt to go out and get some exercise in. It seems it was good enough for Smudge to go out again today, although I bet she is in like a rocket if one of the threatened showers passes over us. Instead of going out I think I'll be getting some exercise by doing some laundry. I have three t-shirts that need special care after getting difficult to shift food stains on them. I may do those, or I may tackle some bed linen. I may even tackle a whole duvet cover. There is one I used recently that seems thin as tissue paper. I think it may be light enough to do by hand. There's one way to find out......
Monday 2nd April 2012
12:39 BST

  Yesterday was sunny, but the sunshine failed to raise the temperature to any more than mere "mild". The sky stayed mostly clear overnight, and is clear now. During the night the temperature almost dropped low enough for a frost, and it is taking a long time to rise. Currently it is almost 12 C, but with a light persistent cold wind from the north it is unlikely to rise by more than a few degrees at best. Tomorrow could be a lot worse. It's due to be cloudy, and there could be some wintry showers to add to the general gloom.

 I was almost, but not quite, lazy yesterday. The non laziness was doing rather an exceptional amount of laundry. It would have been a decent load for my washing machine when, someday, it is fixed, but I did it all by hand. I had one clothes horse out in the garden festooned with drying shirts, and one in the front room, in front of the fan heater on low, festooned with everything else.

 Once the laundry was done I sort of ran out of motivation. I just stayed indoors reading, occasionally trying to find something on TV to watch, dozing off, and eating. The latter was a bit unfortunate. What I really wanted was one big hot meal, but I didn't have anything in to cook that wouldn't take a lot of preparation. So I did lots of nibbling. Most of what I ate was high in fibre, relatively low in fat, and may have contained something that gave me a mild stomach upset.

 I had one those ambivalent feelings in my gut that is well known to me, but possibly only me. I couldn't work out if I felt hungry all the time, or if it was something else. It did turn out to be "something else", and shortly before going to bed I found myself needing to use the toilet several times before I was comfortable enough for sleep, and then again at 3am before I was comfortable again.

 This morning I woke up just before dawn feeling really horrible in all sorts of ways. It's lucky I had today booked off work as holiday or otherwise I am sure I would have called in sick. I felt rough enough to go back to bed, and I slept until 9am. When I woke up then I felt far better, and I contemplated going out to the seaside today.  I was still thinking about that when I realised that a lot of time had passed, and it was a bit late to go out (or at least that's how it felt).

 I had allowed myself to become distracted. I washed my hair when prior to getting dressed, and while I was letting it dry I started reviewing some CDs and DVDs I had made as back up disks 6 or 7 years ago. There was some stuff on them that I had not put on my server, and several hours passed while I did that. Once that was done I decided that I would not be going out any further than the local shops.

 While walking in the sunshine it felt a lot warmer than the thermometer said it was, but the truth was revealed when I walked in the shade. With no direct sun it did feel remarkably chilly. I contemplated a walk in the park this afternoon. That would be mostly in direct sunshine, and would probably feel rather nice, but one thing has put me off. While out at the shops I bought a couple of sandwiches from Greggs, the bakers, and now my stomach feels funny again. I don't think it is going to trigger off any unpleasantness, but I think I'll stay close to the toilet for a while.

 I think I am about to do some reading this afternoon. I've only read 238 pages out of 562 of The Mammoth book of extreme science fiction, and I think I fancy reading many more. It may not be quite as good as a walk by the sea, but it's not far behind !
Sunday 1st April 2012
11:51 BST

  Compared to the week, yesterday was a nasty cold and dull day. There was one brief period around midday when the sun broke through for five minutes, but it did nothing to raise the temperature. There is some hope that today may turn out warmer. It was 4.7 C just before sunrise, but the sun has been out all morning, and it is now 8 C. There is a long way to go before the chill goes, but fingers crossed.......

 I didn't feel too bad yesterday after my walk on Friday. One leg felt mildly stiff, but otherwise I was fine. Well, maybe not fine in terms of wanting to push the hoover around, but I did some housework before my friend Aleemah came over with a DVD to watch. After she left in the afternoon I had some dinner, and then lay on my bed reading. I didn't read that much before I fell fast asleep. I don't know how long I slept. It may have been less than an hour, or maybe a lot longer.

 What I do know is that my dinner, which had a very high proportion of salad in it, seemed to be sitting heavily on my stomach. At 6pm when I should have been getting ready to go out and see Chain playing in The Chatterton Arms in Bromley, I really wanted to stay on my bed dozing away. It took some will power to haul myself off my bed, and get out to see the band.

 Last night was not an exceptional gig, but still very worth going to, and it was good to see Liz again. Liz, who has her own band that is getting ready to play some of their own gigs later on, used to do guest vocals with Chain, and it's been a while since we have seen her. As usual, I took a few photos last night.
looking for guidance
Jo is probably looking towards Chris for some sort of musical cue, and Steve is either looking for heavenly guidance, or actually checking the football scores on the TV.
high speed drumming from Matt Sharp
Using a slow shutter speed this picture of high speed drumming came out better than expected.
Chris Mayer and Epiphone guitar for a Rolling Stones cover
It's strange how the worn paint on round end of the ballustrade looks like the Earth from space in this photo of Jo and Chris.
thunder tube in action
I don't know why Jo's thunder tube fascinates me, but it does !

 I left the pub soon after the gig finished, and was lucky to only have to wait about 4 minutes for a bus. I could have stayed to the very end, and helped carry some of the gear out, but I didn't fancy the long waits for night buses after midnight. Back in Catford I bought some chicken and chips to eat while I wound down watching some TV. I expected to find something entertaining on TV, but there was almost nothing of any appeal. I ended up watching some of a film made in 1970 called The Deep End. It might have been a good film if I had been alert enough to get into it, but after half and hour or so I could feel my eyelids drooping, and I went to bed.

 I slept in two parts. The first was deep sleep for 4, or so, hours before a certain little pussy cat decided to try and strip the paint off my bedroom door with her claws. The poor thing hadn't been fed for over 5 hours, and probably thought that I might have saved some of last nights chicken for her. Once I had got up and attended to her needs I went back to bed. It took a long time to get back to sleep, but eventually I did get some more fairly decent sleep.

 I think my only plans for today is to get some laundry done, and if I finish that in time, and I can raise the enthusiasm, I might go out and have a look around the shops. By then it may be less than very chilly outside.