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My Diary/Blog For the Month of December 2012

Monday 31st December 2012
11:56 GMT

  I think the temperature did rise by a degree during the day yesterday, but it was barely detectable. During the night there was a sprinkling of rain, and sporadic drizzly rain continues even now. The current temperature is 12 C. That ought to feel "not too bad", but there is a quite a strong gusty wind blowing that makes it feel much chillier. Sometime around 6pm the rain should stop as the sky clears, and the forecast temperature for midnight is going to be a mere 6 C.

  I didn't really need to go out yesterday, but I thought having some cash in my pocket might be nice, and there were a few things I thought I might get from Tesco. There was one other thing I got that I wasn't expecting to even see, let alone buy. It was a packet of 4 traditional mouse traps. Between the hole in the wall cash machines and Tesco is one of those shops that sells all sorts of things, and there, in the window display, I noticed mouse traps. So I went in and bought some.

 So far my mechanical attempts to murder the mice in my kitchen have been a complete and utter failure. I baited the traps with some chocolate - which the mice retrieved and ate with great relish all without triggering the mechanism ! This morning I baited the traps with a smear of peanut butter which was almost sticky enough to stick to the trigger - but evidently not sticky enough for my hyper-intelligent pan galactic invaders who seem to retrieve one blob within 15 minutes of me putting it down ! What do I try next ? A shotgun ?????

 This morning I thought I would treat myself to a shampoo as well as a thorough shower. Once I had settled down from that I went to Aldi to do some proper shopping. Despite the fact I am still rather bunged up, and prone to coughing, 12 C was sufficient to walk to and from Aldi without the aches and pains that I currently get whenever the temperature is a couple of degrees lower. I can't wait until the temperature rises to well above 20 C when I can not only walk comfortably, but at a decent speed too.

 Tonight is the last day of the year, and for most that means parties and stuff. There is all but a microscopic chance that I'll be having a quiet night, and possibly getting into practice for work on Wednesday by going to bed sometime around 9pm. I have been invited to a party/gathering, but it's a long way away, and I'm not really a party person at the best of times. There is a very small chance that I might pop into The Catford Ram tonight. There is a band on, but I am fairly certain they will be playing a lot of stuff I dislike - a lot ! Maybe it would be interesting just to check it out for half an hour, but if I do it will just be a spontaneous thing. There is a microscopic possibility that I might have company. That would make a change, but we'll just have to wait and see.
Sunday 30th December 2012
11:06 GMT

  It wasn't that cold, and it stayed dry on Friday night. Yesterday was rather gloomy for most of the time, and there were occasional splashes of rain. Once again the temperature was on the borders of getting chilly, and almost starting to get somewhere near slightly warm. This morning the sun came out for several hours, but it seems to be getting cloudy now. It is possible there could be more sunshine later, and that it will be accompanied by showers (or so The BBC reckon). The current temperature is just 8 C, and it could rise another degree by sunset.

 The most important news right now is that my internet connection is playing up. At approximately 8.30 yesterday morning there was a "brown out" that lasted half a second or so. My server rebooted, and somewhere in the wider world Vermin Media's equipment threw a wobbly. Their severely overloaded service status server admitted there had been a problem when I finally managed to connect to it, and initially they said it would be fixed by 4.30pm yesterday. They eventually revised that to 4.30pm tomorrow ! All day yesterday it was like being back on dial up internet with connection speeds often measured in bytes per minute (instead of second !), and when the wind was blowing in the right direction, as good as the very best 56K connection. Things seem a lot better this morning, but that might just be because not that many people were online on this Sunday morning. With the chance of nobody being able to connect to my server, I didn't bother to write anything new yesterday.

 The highlight of this whole holiday period, or in fact the only enjoyable thing for the holidays, was Chain's gig on Friday night. I really, really enjoyed myself. I enjoyed myself so much that I don't remember eating the kebab I bought on the way home from the Wetherspoons pub that Kevin and I went to after everybody had gone home from The Catford Ram :-)
Matt Hemsley with his project aurora illuminated bass guitar
Matt brought in one of his  project aurora illuminated bass guitars for the gig - they are so groovy !
Chris Mayer does a rock star pose
Chris giving it one of those special guitar player poses.
some people see a camera and can't help themselves
I have no idea who these two were, but they saw me taking pictures and insisted I took a picture of them !
Jo Corteen singing solo
Jo did a solo spot.
Matt, Kevin, Chris and me
Matt, Kevin, Chris, and myself taken by Jo on my camera
Chris, Kevin, Jo and Matt
Kevin taking liberties with Jo's knee during the after gig drink.

 I have to confess that I had a bit of a hangover yesterday morning. Funnily enough, after such a binge drinking session, it was not a bad one. The greater damage was probably done by spending so much time outside the pubs (and kebab shop). I woke up feeling quite chesty, and my head felt quite congested. I was still quite snotty when I woke up this morning, but it seems to be drying up now.

 Despite the hangover, the chesty cough, and the snotty nose, I had a brief spurt of activity yesterday morning. I washed my final unwashed sheet (except for the one currently on my bed). If I feel really motivated I might tackle the very last bit of overdue laundry today. It's a duvet cover, and unfortunately it's quite a thick one. It is going to need a lot of energy to manhandle it !

 I spent the rest of yesterday being very lazy, keeping warm, and generally doing my best to recover from the previous night. The next thing I did of any significance was to order a Chinese takeaway. I ordered it online, and unfortunately it was during one of those periods when my internet connection was running really slowly ! What should have taken a few minutes stretched on for 20 minutes or more. Still, it got there in the end, and my meal was very enjoyable.

 While the meal was very enjoyable, it evidently contained a lot of salt and sugar which made me very thirsty. So during the night I was alternately waking up with a dry mouth and needing a drink, and then waking up againto take a pee. By this morning, several gallons later, I think my system was well flushed through. So yet another night when I got far less sleep than I feel I ought to have got.

 This morning, apart from waking up with my head all stuffed up, I don't actually feel too bad. I don't know how that would change once I stop doing sedentary stuff in my nice warm room. Maybe I'll find out later. It's gone midday now, and I feel I really ought to have my first shower in 36 hours, and put on some fresh, sweet smelling clothes (I stink right now !!).
Friday 28th December 2012
12:44 GMT

  It seems as if the rain held off overnight. At least there didn't seem to be any big puddles this morning. It's difficult to say when the temperature started to rise, but it is currently 12.6 C according to my outside thermometer. It certainly wasn't raised by sunshine. So far the day has been rather dull and gloomy with a light shower or two. It is probable that how it is now is how it will be for the rest of the day.

 I've had the odd spurt of busyness this morning. It started with washing a double fitted sheet - by hand, of course. Perhaps next year will be the year when I'll finally, after a whole year of doing practically nothing about it, I'll repair the sinking worktop so I can get the washing machine out and fix or replace it. The only flaw in that argument is that I seem to be coping really well with hand washing stuff. It might even be good exercise - things like sheets and duvet covers do need quite a bit of manhandling, and even wringing out shirts must develop some muscles somewhere !

 The second significant thing I did this morning was to do a bit of woodwork. It has become very obvious that there is a second mouse (or family of mice) living in the cupboard under the stairs. The carpet and corner of the door have teeth marks in them. The door to the cupboard is only a very simple affair such as you might find on a garden shed or something. What it needed was a lintel, or whatever you might call a strip of wood that meets up with the bottom of the door. It has one now, and it is a rather substantial bit of 2 by 2 inch timber. I think, or at least I hope that it will provide a good barrier against any mouse who feels like entering (or leaving) the cupboard. Someday I'll get this old (1930s built ?) house mouseproof, and the laws of irony state that the very next day will be the day that a new stray cat adopts me !

 My plans for this afternoon are very simple. Sooner or later I'll wash my hair, have a shower, and get ready to dress up to go out to the pub for Chain's early evening gig there. Now shall I wear the standard "uniform" of black shirt, black jeans, and black trainers, or shall I add a little colour ? When I went out yesterday I put on a pair of jeans I hadn't worn for ages, possibly not since last spring, and somehow they still fitted easily. That suggests to me that I should be able to still get into my red jeans which have always been a little tight to wear. Although I have still been eating crap, I have been eating it more carefully these last two days. I definitely won't have lost any weight by doing so, but I think I feel less bloated, and those red jeans should be almost comfortable to wear. I do sort of feel good when wearing them, although the novelty of being a bit daring is fading now.
Thursday 27th December 2012
20:00 GMT

  It rained quite a lot yesterday afternoon, and then into the evening, but all the time the temperature stayed not quite cold, but definitely far from warm ! This morning it was raining quite heavily, and then it stopped and the sun came out. Ten minutes later the sun went back in again. That was approximately at midday. There was a little sporadic inconsequential light rain that was felt more than seen for maybe the next hour, but since then it has been dry. Once again the temperature has hovered around 8 C.

 After my breard trimming exercise yesterday I did little more of any consequence - unless you count watching TV, reading, and "social networking" of being of any consequence. Although of no consequence in the grand order of things, it kept me occupied until it was well past my usual bedtime.

 Today I decided I really ought to do something constructive or useful. So I did some more laundry. Apart from a t-shirt and a pair of underpants I washed a duvet cover. Fortunately it was one of the very thin cotton ones, but even that took some manhandling !

 It was about 11am when the sun came out for a brief spell. I had to force myself to do it, but I decided I really ought to get out of the house. So I jumped under the shower, and got dressed for the wide world outside the privacy of my front door. Of course by then the sun had gone back in again, and there was a little misty rain blowing around outside, but I grabbed my waterproof camera, and headed out into the wide world - otherwise known as the local park. It was very grey and wet out there, but I took a few pictures.
The River Ravensbourne running deep and fast
The River Ravensbourne, which runs through the park, was running very deep and fast, and it was obvious to see that it had been a lot higher recently judging from the soggy banks, and the bent over grass and plants.
The Great Lewisham Elm tree
This sign explains how this one Elm tree survived the great Dutch Elm disease that plagued the 1960s.
The Great Lewisham Dutch Elm in all it's glory
.......and here is the great tree standing proudly in the centre of the picture.
One pigeon going, and one coming
One pigeon going, and one coming.
huge puddle under a tree
One of several temporary new ponds that have appeared in the park after all the rain.
bridge 666 - the bridge to hell :-)
To get to the part of the park where I took all the pictures means crossing over bridge 666 !
The alternative route to Catford
The alternative route that avoids crossing bridge 666
 There could easily have been more pictures than these, but the battery in my camera went flat. I took the last two pictures on my mobile phone camera, but if my proper camera had any power I could have taken some nice pictures of some bracket fungus, and a wonderfully posing parakeet.

 If think my body is rather damaged either by self abuse (but not that kind !) or as a legacy from the two bad colds I had in October and November. It didn't feel easy walking the mere 1.6 miles around the park. The damp and chilly air seemed to hurt my lungs. Either that or I am suffering from angina or something worse. All I know is that it doesn't seem to happen once the air temperature rises to above 9 or 10 C, and while I was out, the air was not really higher than 8 C.

 It was nice to get back in the warm, and very soon my main discomfort was a yearning for a rather late breakfast. Of course it was far too late for breakfast, but lunch of singapore noodles seemed a good replacement. After that I watched some QI on TV until I felt like a snooze might be a good idea. I lay on my bed reading for a while before I fell asleep. I don't know how long I slept for. It might have been more than an hour, or it may have been less, but I woke up initially feeling worse than before I fell asleep.

 Once I became accustomed to being alive again I pottered around for a bit, and then decided to go to the pub. I thought it highly unlikely that I would find Chris, or any of his workmates in there on this particular Thursday, but I thought there is no harm in checking anyway. Of course they weren't in there, and there was hardly anyone in there at all. I had a couple of beers, and passed the time by reading an ebook on my mobile phone.

 Tomorrow I am really looking forward to Chain's gig in the pub. I am pretty sure the place will be dead again, but in a way that's good. The band may not appreciate a lack of audience too much, but they'll still be paid, and I'll feel like the band is specially playing for me. Are there no limits to my ego ????
Wednesday 26th December 2012
11:48 GMT

  My wild optimism about there being some sunshine yesterday came true. I can't quite remember just how long it lasted for, but it was most welcome. It stayed dry yesterday, and so far it has stayed dry today too, but the BBC online weather forecast thinks there will be some rain this afternoon. The mild weather continues with the current temperature outside being 10 C.  Actually, it is not "mild". On the contrary, it is quite sadistic. The temperature is sitting at the point where you think "this isn't bad", and then 10 minutes exposure to it feels like you are freezing to death !

 I had grand ideas about doing something useful yesterday, but rather than doing stuff like laundry, I was quite lazy. I did manage to do some creative stuff with some old photo collections, and I uploaded that to the wilds of the internet. I also wasted huge amounts of time looking at other peoples photo collections. Probably a large portion of that time was looking through the photos of what I hope will turn out to be a new special friend - Sarah the zombie !

 After two nights of getting far less sleep than is probably good for me, I should have felt dog tired last night, and in a way I was, but it was gone midnight when I felt relaxed enough to go to bed, and then sleep. Prior to that I definitely felt alert enough to remember to turn off my alarm so I wasn't woken up at 5am this morning ! It's difficult to say how much sleep I got last night, but I am sure it was nowhere near enough to make up for my recent sleep deficit. Maybe tonight I'll managed to get extra sleep.

 I woke up this morning feeling quite bunged up as if I had a cold. After standing out in the rain in my shirtsleeves the other night, it wouldn't come as complete surprise, but fortunately it must have just been one of those waking up things, and I think I feel OK now. It did me some time to throw off the shackles of sleep, but eventually I felt like I would live, and set about doing some stuff.

 The first thing was to do some laundry. That included pillowcases, but not sheets and duvet covers this time. Next I did some washing up, and then I did something that was really, really overdue - I hoovered up all the cobwebs in the kitchen. Those in the corner of the room, above the fridge/freezer, were disgustingly thick. They have all gone now, as has the mess the mouse made during the night when eating the obviously non poisonous poison I put down for it !

 I needed a bit of a sit down after doing all that stuff. After I had rested for half an hour I washed my hair and had a shower. What I did next was a very dangerous thing to do. It involved a sharp instrument near my face an eyes. What is worse is that I was manipulating that sharp instrument while looking at the mirror. Fortunately there was very little blood involved, and most of my lips, nose, and neck survived the ordeal of trimming my beard. It is the first time I have ever done more than clip off the odd stray whisker all by myself, and I think I am pleased with the result (although  an assistant, or barber could do a far better job). It's now time for the inevitable photo taken in the mirror !
freshly trimmed beard
 you can't really see much of the beard in this picture, or at least not much detail of it, and that's probably not such a bad idea. One thing for sure though, is that I really have to do something to the mirror to get all those splodges and smears off of it. They aren't nearly so obvious when just using the mirror for some low resolution views, but in this picture they look awful !

 Cleaning that mirror is obviously one of my priority tasks once I feel motivated to do some stuff. I also notice that some surfaces in my bedroom are desperately in need of some dusting. I really have no idea, not even the foggiest notion, of how some people keep their homes so neat and tidy, because I definitely can't do it !
Tuesday 25th December 2012
12:13 GMT

  The temperature remained mild yesterday, and the rain held off until mid evening. This morning we have had a mixture of rain, heavy rain, and very heavy rain. Currently it is just ordinary rain, and it looks like rain in various degrees of heaviness will continue for most of the day. The mildness continues for now, and it is currently 10 C. Interestingly enough, in the last minute it has got a lot brighter outside. Maybe there could even be some sunshine, and perhaps a rainbow, but that seems wildly optimistic.

 I had the quietest morning ever at work yesterday. Apart from when the boss came in to give me the traditional bottle of champagne that the Testing and Development teams get every year, for which I tried to appear as if I was doing something, I spent all morning on the internet. A little before midday I finished until we go back on the 2nd of January, and I headed for home. Since it was light outside, I decided to try the alternative way home again using the new London Overground route.

 The first time I tried it, it was dark outside, and I couldn't say for certain that the train travels very slowly for half my journey. In the light it was easy to see that we crawled out of Clapham Junction at walking pace, and only doubled that about half a mile down the track. It wasn't until we had called at the first two stations that the train picked up to almost what I would think of as normal speed. It makes for quite a frustrating journey, but on the plus side it does get me to Catford 7 minutes earlier, and it is 50p cheaper. I should use it more often, and maybe once I am going home in full daylight again, I may well just do that.

 Once I was back home I ate a light(ish) lunch, and then proceeded to do very little until a little while before I was due to go out. I thought I was going to be delayed going out by a ring at the doorbell just as I was starting to get changed. It turned out to be my oldest brother who I haven't seen for 10 years. He was basically dropping off a card for my as he was driving through Catford on the way back from my sisters place. He came in, and we had a nice chat for 20 minutes before he was on his way again, and I continued getting ready to go out.

 I met Kevin at the station to get a train to Eden Park, and then, because we were both feeling lazy, a bus to the pub. I had a horrible tension headache when I got to the station, but that subsided as we travelled. The tension headache was well founded because the night was about as bad as my worst imagination thought it would be. Initially it was OK, and I tried to down as much Guinness as possible to give myself a fighting chance of enjoying myself.

 There were three main problems last night, and I guess they were all interlinked with each other. The first was that it is really hard to circulate in that pub. It wasn't particularly busy last night, and that should have made it better, but it didn't. Another problem was that it was incredibly noisy in there. I don't mean that the band were too loud. I would have been happy if they were twice as loud, but it was the people in there. It was more party than gig, and loads of people were trying to have happy conversations by shouting at each other at the top of their voices.

 I really hated that racket, and if I could have I would have stayed close to the bands PA to drown all the people out, but the layout of the pub meant that it is just impossible to find a position where you're not in the way, and being elbowed out of it. It also pissed me off that everyone had others to talk to, and mostly I didn't. Even if I did try and strike up a conversation I wouldn't have been able to hear what they were saying, and shouting would soon have had my throat feeling raw, and started me coughing.

 So I stayed very isolated for most of the night. If I could have got to my coat, which was hidden behind the bass players amp, I might have foregone the cab home, and caught the last bus home instead. To relieve the boredom I went for frequent cigarettes out in the rain (in my shirtsleeves !), and in the end I sat down in the conservatory, where it was very slightly less noisy, and read an ebook on my phone for the rest of the night. Meanwhile, in the main body of the pub it was all dancing, hugging and kissing. It was a great relief when the cab finally turned up.

 Another annoyance about last night, though I didn't realise it until a couple of hours ago, is that I am unhappy with the pictures I took. I am very glad that I didn't pay full price for my new camera because I find it very disappointing. Even though I used some manual settings to speed up the exposure time, and used flash, many of the photos I took last night are blurry. I think I will be going back to my old camera for gigs in the future, and use my new camera for daylight work. Given good light I know it can produce some excellent pictures. Here's some of the better photos I took last night......
Jo Corteen
Chain at The Swan, West Wickham, 24th Dec 2012
Guy Harris - drummer for Chain
Jo Corteen and Chris Mayer
Ravi - bass player from Chain
Jo Corteen singing without guitar
Jo Corteen with angel headgear
woman dancing in front of Chain
I don't know this lady is, but she was a very enthusiastic dancer.

 I felt exhausted when I got home, and I couldn't be bothered to cook any dinner despite feeling quite peckish. So I had a handful of peanuts while I read a few emails that had come through during the evening. Then, at 1.30am, or sometime, I got into bed. At first I felt too irritated to get to sleep, but eventually sleep came, and I think I slept continuously until my alarm went off at 5am because I had forgotten to turn it off. I managed to get another couple of hours sleep after that, but it only adds up to little over 5 hours, and maybe less. After only getting a similar amount the night before, I am feeling a bit tired today. Thank goodness I don't have to go to work today.

 Very soon now I shall heat up my dinner. I have decided it will be a big pack of Indonesian noodles.
Bami Goreng noodles from Aldi
With some added chilli sauce, these are really nice.

 I think I may have a snooze this afternoon, and then after that I ought to try and make myself useful. I've now got a couple of shirts that could be washed, but I think I ought to start on washing some bed linen, or maybe I'll do the shirts and just the pillowcases. I don't know what I'll do after that. It could be boring, or there is a slight possibility that there could be something on TV that provides some sort of excuse for entertainment. With it still drizzling outside, and after filling myself up to the gills with noodles, I don't think I'll be trying any outdoor pursuits today.
Monday 24th December 2012
07:39 GMT

  The first rain fell much earlier than I was expecting it yesterday. I think it was just after midday when there was a light shower that lasted for 20 minutes or so. After that it didn't really rain until well after dark. Which was later than expected. It didn't seem to get significantly cooler during the day, and the evening seemed unnaturally mild. It looks like the rain continued through the night, and it was still raining lightly when I arrived at the station. Apart from the odd spot, probably just drips blowing off the trees, it seems to have stopped for now, but more rain is forecast for almost any time today. It should stay mild today with the temperature at, or above 10 C for much of the day.

 I was just about to go to the 99p shop late yesterday morning when I received a phone call. It was from Jodie, and she wondered if I fancied a couple of pints in The Catford Bridge Tavern early in the afternoon. Her main destination was up to London, but with her train calling at Catford Bridge on the way, and the pub being next door to the station, it was easy for her stop for a while. It spoiled my plan to have dinner straight after shopping, and vegetating for most of the afternoon, but beer is beer !

 Jodie had not left home when she called, and still had to get a bus to the station, and then the train to Catford. Adding in the factor that her bus service tends to disconnect rather than connect with the train service, and it was a good 90 minutes before we met at the station, and that gave me plenty of time to shop in the 99p shop, and deliver the stuff back home. It was nice to see Jodie, and nice to sample some of the good ales the pub has. I think it was five halves of ale later (4 for Jodie) that Jodie returned to the station, and I returned home.

 Soon after I got home I cooked some dinner. I have to admit it was rather strange for a Sunday dinner. It was sage and onion flavoured sausage meat, usually used as turkey stuffing, but I just grilled it, and spicy potato wedges all served with lashings of mustard flavoured mayonaise. It was the most significant bit of eating I did all day. I wasn't totally immune to eating the occasional snack item, particularly after having beer for lunch, but I had very little.

 One reason that I didn't have more snack food was because I went up to bed very early, and the reason I went up to bed so early was because I had lost track of time. I don't know when it was that I ate my dinner, but I think it was about 4pm, or nearly two hours earlier than my usual dinner time after coming home from work. So I ate, watched a bit of TV, and then I just followed instinct by turning off the TV and going up to my bedroom as I usually do most nights after work during these dark winter months.

 I spent a bit of time on the internet before becoming bitter and twisted about Farcebook. It is my desire to stay as far away from Facebook as possible, but in the real world that is not always possible. Unfortunately the real world had intruded earlier on when Sarah (who I pictured yesterday) replied to my email thanking her for the picture she sent. She said there were plenty of pictures of her on her Facebook pages. Now unknown to the world at large, my alter ego had tried to set up a Facebook page back in November, but had abandoned it.

 Yesterday I tried to use it. I could login, but then do nothing. The reason was because I had attempted to set up a page as a retired DJ on their special pages for entertainers. Those type of pages may be fine for advertising margerine, but are useless for connecting with ordinary people. I spent a long frustrating time trying to find Sarah without logging in to Farcebook, and then when I thought I had found a possible lead I had to login. As soon as I logged in I could do nothing but sell my soul to the drooling masses, and nothing else.

 In the end I just felt very pissed off and went to bed. It wasn't until I was in bed that I realised it was actually still only 7pm ! So I read for an hour, and then fell asleep for two and a half hours. I think I had been dreaming about Facebook and stuff, and all my frustration about it came flashing back to me. On top of that I was having very negative thoughts about the gig tonight, and other negative stuff like the mouse in my kitchen. With all these thoughts flashing around in my mind, I just couldn't relax enough to get back to sleep. To make matters worse, I was feeling hot under the duvet, and cold without it. Occasionally I would manage a few minutes, maybe a few tens of minutes sleep, but it was not until 2am, or maybe even 3am before I fell into a deep sleep.

 I was awoken by my alarm, which is a very rare occurance, and woke up feeling terrible. Since then I have improved, and don't feel that bad now. I still don't feel quite 100%, and I am still apprehensive about tonight. If I don't feel too bad when I get to the gig, and the place is not too hot and crowded, then there is a good posssibility that I will enjoy myself, but if I don't then there is nothing more miserable than feeling miserable when you should be feeling good, and having to endure that misery the whole evening until the cab comes to take you home.
Sunday 23rd December 2012
11:24 GMT

  Yesterday's rain gradually eased of during the afternoon, and then for a short time came back with an avengence. At any other time I would have said that the day was cold, wet, and miserable, except that it wasn't ! It was, without doubt, wet, and if I had been forced to go out in it, miserable, but it was not cold. At 9.30pm, when I went to bed, my outside thermometere said it was 14.5 C, and that is very close to being slightly warm ! This morning the temperature had dropped to 13 C, and the forecast says it will continue to fall by several degrees during the day - which seems odd considering that it was bright and sunny earlier on, and as I write this the sun has just come out again. Much of today is forecast to be bright, but the clouds will thicken up during late afternoon, and sometime after sunset it is due to rain again.

 I was certainly busy yesterday morning. Once I had settled down from shopping in Aldi I washed a few shirts, underwear etc. After that I decided I ought to clean up the kitchen a bit. First off was to do all the washing up. There wasn't a lot of it, and with that out of the way I cleaned up all the scattered husks from the mouse bait, and scrubbed the work top down with bleach. I was dreading what I might find behind the microwave oven. That seemed to be the home of my little intruder, but apart from a thin scattering of more green stained, poisoned bran from the bait , there was nothing there but one dead bluebottle.

 This morning I had another clue as to where that mouse, and there does only seem to be one, is hiding out. In one corner of the worktop I have what was described as a shoe rack in Poundstretcher, but does excellent duty as a set of simple shelves to stack cans on. I think the mouse is behind that because I saw it heading in that direction when I cleaned up the kitchen this morning. It was actually up on the windowsill at the back of one side of my can collection, and which the microwave oven backs on to. I got the impression it was moving relatively slowly as if the poison was beginning to take effect. I left the window open for half an hour while I was out of the kitchen so it could have an escape route. I doubt it used it, but it makes me feel less guilty about trying to kill it. I just hope that no more came in !

 After my kitchen cleaning efforts yesterday I did little else of any grand significance. I watched a bit of TV, snoozed a bit, and did some reading. All this was carefully planned (liar !) to try to take my mind off the food I had bought in the morning. It seemed to work because I was able to order a Turkish takeaway with an almost clear conscience. I spent quite a lot on that takeaway, but it was quite delicious, and amazingly I managed to order stuff that seemed considerably healthier than if I had ordered an Indian or Chinese takeaway. For instance, one dish was grilled lamb that was relatively lean.
Sarah in her Motocross outfit
 I had a nice surprise while eating my dinner. I received an email from my new friend Sarah. She is still in Holland, and will be until early in the new year when I hope we will be able to meet up for the second time ever. The strange thing is that in the very next email I was going to send her, which I was thinking of writing last night, I was going to suggest that maybe she could send me a picture of herself.

 The only picture I have of her I took when we first met at the Chain gig in Croydon, and then she was dressed, and still partly made up as a zombie ! I was curious what she looked like without being covered in fake blood. So it came as an extra delight that, with no prompting, she sent the picture on the left of herself dressed in a Motocross outfit. Sadly, the picture suffers from motion blur, but it doesn't look too bad when shrunk to mobile phone screen size.

  This morning I got up extra early again, and then went back to bed again a couple of hours later. It's becoming a bit of a habit, and one I ought to try and stop because it just doesn't work when I have to get up for work in the morning. Fortunately there's no work today, and after tomorrow no work until the new year. After going back to bed I had a strange dream that seemed to morph a school, a prison, a film set, and a swimming pool together. It's far to complex to explain, and to be honest I have no idea what it was all about now.

 I woke up again with the sun looking bright behine the curtains, and my clock saying it was almost 9.30am. That was possibly a bit later than I might have intended, but in practical terms is completely insignificant. In some ways, this morning was similar to yesterday. First of all I finished my laundry, and then I cleaned the work surface of scattered mouse bait husks again, and gave it a wash down. I really must extend all this kitchen cleaning to giving the floor a good scrubbing again, but it's not exactly good weather for drying a wet floor.

 The next thing I did was a total departure from yesterday - I washed my hair, and had a good shower. In my shame I have to confess that I didn't bother washing at all yesterday !  Once my hair is fully dry, I think I might pop out to the 99p shop to get in extra supplies of bleach, and no doubt lots of other stuff too ! After that I think it will be time for Sunday dinner, snoozing, and other completely sedentary pursuits.

 I could go to a gig tonight, but there are three reasons why I probably won't go. The most important being that I have to get up for half a days work early in the morning. The second is that it will probably be raining, possibly heavily tonight. The third reason is that I really don't fancy the incredibly slow bus journey home again. One extra reason is that it's not long to wait until the next gig - tomorrow night !!
Saturday 22nd December 2012
09:37 GMT

  The whole of yesterday morning was bright and sunny, and the sun did it's best to shine on into the afternoon, but the clouds had become too widespread for any sunshine in the last hour or two before sunset. The only problem was that the sun was so low in the south that it barely made it over the top of the buildings surrounding work, but a nice blue sky, and the tops of those building glowing in the sunlight was still a pleasure to see. This morning it is definitely all change. The sky is grey, and the rain is pouring down. It will probably be like this most of the day. The only saving grace is that it is currently 10 C, and it could climb by a couple of degrees by late afternoon. That's not exactly cold, although still a long way from warm.

 The big disappointment yesterday is that the world didn't end. Being an avid reader of Sci Fi books, I always wonder what a planet exploding would feel like. I mean, CGI effects are all very well, but there's nothing like being there to experience it to the full.  Oh well, only a few million years to wait until the sun goes nova :-(

 It was very quiet at work yesterday. It's probably best not to say exactly how quiet it was, but it was a relief when the clock finally managed to creak it's way around to home time. I met up with Aleemah after work, and because I said I would find her something to eat I bought some stuff from Upper Crust on Waterloo station. I bought Aleemah a rather boring old egg and tomato baguette, but for myself I spotted something rather interesting. It was a hog roast baguette. I'm not sure if it was just pig, or if indeed it was wild boar. Some of the meat looked darker than pork, but that could have just been some sort of marinade. What I do know was that it was rather delicious.

 Incase Aleemah preferred something fishy, I also bought a tuna and mayo baguette. She didn't, and so I ate it after the hog roast one. That might seem to be a terrible clash of flavours, and I certainly wouldn't like to mix them, but one after the other, maybe with a quick swig of diet cola between them, turned out fine. Having the two baguettes rather spolied my plans to get a takeaway in last night, but maybe I'll order one for tonight.

 There might possibly be a degree of contention about getting a takeaway tonight because I've been shopping, and bought some other stuff to lead me onto the path of temptation. There was nothing I desperately needed from Aldi this morning except for toilet paper, but I took the opportunity to bolster my stock of diet cola, and get far too many snack type stuff as well as somethings approaching the status of real food.

 With the temperature out of the chilly range it was almost a pleasure to walk to Aldi even in the pouring rain. I was fortunate that one of my plans didn't come to fruition. I went to bed and read until about 9.30pm, and slept well until 3am this morning. I needed the toilet, and as I walked there I stumbled in the dark, just very slightly, but enough to end up with my bare arm touching the freezing door of the upstairs back room, and the shock of that seemed to me fully wake me up. So I decided that I would get up for a while before getting back in bed, and sleeping again until mid morning if I could. I actually woke up again with some grey daylight peeping around the curtains at a little after 8am. So I was able to get to Aldi soon after they opened, and before the inevitable mad rush of xmas shoppers.

 Now I'm back from Aldi, and I've just about recovered from lugging back 6 litres of diet cola, a litre of bleach, 4 rolls of toilet paper, plus other stuff, I suppose my next task ought to be to do some laundry. After a week where I've not done any laundry in the evening, I do have rather a lot of laundry to do. Add on the bed linen that I recently changed to shirts and underwear, and it adds up enough to keep me busy for the next week !

 I reported yesterday that the mouse bait I had put down had not been touched. It has now ! That's definite proof that I have a mouse in the kitchen, but there is even better proof than that. Yesterday evening I was just on the threshold of walking into the kitchen when I spotted movement. So I froze and watched carefully. In a few seconds a mouse appeared and stopped to look around before disappearing under the microwave oven. Now I have actually seen it properly, rather than just as a grey flash out of the corner of the eye, I feel a bit bad about attempting to poison it, but it has to go ! Hopefully it is just one mouse, and that this time the bait will work quickly (back in the spring I seemed to be getting through bags of the stuff with no apparent effect on the little critters).

Here's another video I shot at O'Neills on Saturday 15th.

Friday 21st December 2012
08:09 GMT

  The rain continued past the morning, and into the afternoon, but it had stopped by the time I left work to go home yesterday. I didn't check either my own thermometer, or the official figures, but it felt like the temperature rose by a degree or two over the expected 8 C. This morning was definitely 8 C, and although only higher by a couple of degrees compared to other mornings this week, it felt so much better. The temperature may only rise by a degree or two again today, but the big difference is that there could be some sunny spells today. It's hard to tell when the sun has barely risen, but the sky looks to be fairly clear even now, and maybe those sunny spells will arrive a lot sooner than midday when the forecast suggests they will.

 I went to the pub again last night, but before going there I called in at home first to pick up a present for Jo and Chris. While I was at home I inspected the mouse bait I had put down the evening before. It still appeared not to have been touched. Maybe this is a good thing. Less good was another invader in my house. Sitting arrogantly right in front of my microwave oven was a large spider ! I brushed it onto the floor, and then it accidently ran under my foot just as I started walking away !!!

 It was nice going for yet another drink after work last night, and it seems to be doing me less harm that I thought it might. I did get the chance to quickly bolt down a cheese and pickle sandwich before going to the pub, and that would have provided a bit of buffering to the three or four pints of Guinness I had. That sandwich, and that I was drinking Guinness, may have been why I didn't wake up at midnight with a hangover like I did the previous night.

 I left the pub at around 7.30pm, and when I got home I really only had time for a meal of Singapore noodles followed by some chocolate cookies, and no time at all for any dodgy snacks. Soon after that I went to bed. I didn't realise what time it was until I was actually in bed. It was 8.30pm, and to my surprise I was having a slightly early night. I slept well until I woke up half an hour early, and it was as if I had had enough sleep by then.

 This morning I feel strangely OK. Some of the usual aches and pains are still there, but even they may be slightly diminished. It really does feel like that a couple of weeks of warm sunshine would see my body fully repaired, and on my way to being on the positive side of the dividing line between healthy and dead. The only fly in the ointment is that it's still going to be a long wait for warm and sunny days, but as I write this I can see the first bright sunlight lighting up the top of a nearby high building. It's goning to be another hour or so before the sun will be high enough to reach the ground, but it is an encouraging start even if it will be months before the sun carries much heat.

 The fact that I am writing this is proof, or a sort of proof, that the world hasn't ended, and in a way that's a bit of a shame. I was quite looking forward to the end of the world. It would solve so many problems. Still I mustn't get downhearted. Some say the end of the world doesn't take place until 11:12am, and others reckon it will be at 12 midnight tonight instead of 12 midnight last night. So there is still hope for the world to go Karrrooooooooom ! If that fails then we'll just have to write today off as still being the shortest day of the year, and that from now on the days will get longer and longer again (until the summer solstice). I estimate that by the end of January I will be getting home after work in daylight again. Maybe only a loose definition of daylight, but from there, there is everything to look forward to.
Thursday 20th December 2012
08:01 GMT

  The rain started a bit earlier than I thought it would yesterday. I wasn't expecting it until the afternoon, but I think it started closer to 11am. Mostly it was quite light rain, but there were a couple of occasions when it got a bit heavier. This morning it is raining, and from the size of some of the puddles, it looks like there could have been some very heavy rain during the night. On the other hand they may just be the result of non stop light to moderate rain the whole night. There may be some respite from the rain around midday, but it seems very likely it will be raining when I go home later this afternoon. Today's temperature is going to stay within a few degrees of 8 C.

 It seems that the company passed it's latest ISO9001 inspection yesterday. Now perhaps we can have a rest ! The man doing the inspection didn't seem interested in interviewing any of the staff as far as I can make out, and only chatted with a manager or two. Maybe he was an out and out masochist, or got some sort of sexual thrill going through all the mega pages of documents the company now produces, and which do the exact opposite for me !! Anyway, he was satisfied, and I didn't get the chance to bring the company down by showing off my total ignorance of all that documentation. Everytime I read those documents I feel like a dyslexic.

 I read all the words, try to follow the convoluted charts, but they always seem to have no meaning, and yet at the same time I know what they are trying to say most of the time because most of it is just a very old, old story. This is particularly so with stuff like health and safety. The vast majority of which I was taught when I was an apprentice 40 years ago. About the only thing that has changed is that the safety films now are just a little less gruesome, and are now on DVD instead of 16mm cine film ! Evidently some of that health and safety stuff stuck because after so many years at work I still have the usual amounts of finger, toes, thumbs, eyeballs, etc, and I don't think I even have any scars to show from all that time.

 I feel I should be feeling quite bad this morning, and yet I don't feel that bad at all. The cold wet air still irritates my chest when I rush around in it, and after a while my chest aches like I am about to have a heart attack or something, but it all goes away again quite quickly once I am breathing in less cold air. The reason why I expected to feel a fair bit worse than I do, is because for the second night running I was in the pub after work last night.

 Last night I met with Kevin in The Catford Ram. As usual it was supposed to be a short drink, but ended up a bit longer than I expected. I think I had two and half pints of strong(ish) ale last night, but it might have been three and a half. I still managed to get away in time to finally buy some mouse bait from Tesco before they closed at 8pm last night. I also bought two packs (packs ?) of spicy potato wedges from Tesco's two for 5 part range. I had one pack that I microwaved for a rather large dinner last night. Ideally they should have been spread out and baked so they would go crispy, but they were quite nice when cooked in the microwave.

 It was quite a big portion for dinner, but I didn't have time to start eating any snacks before or after dinner. So it is just slightly possible, although highly unlikely, that my food intake last night was less than normal. All I do know was that when made even more spicy by sprinkling chilli sauce over them, it is neccesary to get up five minutes after getting in bed to have a couple of indigestion tablets ! So overall, I have had a couple of slightly late nights, and lost extra sleep through indigestion/stomach acid, as well as eating late night unhealthy meals.

 Against that, I am surprised I don't feel rough this morning. Just to make sure that this unhealthy lifestyle is killing me, I'll be going to the pub after work tonight for the third time in a row. On Tuesday I drank with Chris. Yesterday it was Kevin, and tonight it will be with the both of them. On Friday I think I'll be doing something with Aleemah after work. On Saturday I'll finally get to have a rest - apart from all the backed up laundry I'll have to make a start on. On Sunday night I hope to go to a gig. On Monday morning I somehow will have to get myself to work in the morning, and then on Monday night it's another gig. If I live through all that, I'll finally be able to rest for three days spent in total isolation until the gig on the 28th.

 I put down three little trays of mousebait last night. All were in places where the mouse (or more likely - mice) run. This morning none of them had been touched. Maybe false optimism suggests this is a good thing, but more likely they haven't been touched because the mice are suspicious of them. I have a feeling that I'll find they have been used when I get home tonight. I just hope that it's not another family of hyper intelligent mice who know how to strip off the poisoned outer husk of the grain, and only eat the clean kernel inside.
Wednesday 19th December 2012
08:02 GMT

  There was a little bit of sunshine during yesterday morning, but otherwise the day was as expected - rather dull and grey. The temperature remained moderately cool, but may have been just a small bit slightly less cool in the afternoon. There seemed to be more water on my wheelie bin than could be accounted for by just condensation. So it might have rained during the night, but the roads were mostly dry when I set out to come to work this morning. It was only just over 4 C when I set out, and it was very noticeably cooler than yesterday morning. It's going to be a generally cooler day today, and a cloudy start is probably going to lead to some rain this afternoon.

 Sometimes things just don't go to plan, and sometimes what evolves is far better than the original plan. So it was last night. My original plan was to drop off a memory stick with photos and videos of Chain on it to Chris who I knew would be in The Catford Ram having a xmas dinner and party with his workmates. I didn't intend to gate crash his xmas party, and I intended to go straight to Tesco to buy some mouse bait. I didn't get the mouse bait in the end.

 As is often the case (except for here) most of the people at the party go home soon after the meal. So when I got to the pub I found Chris with just a few people, half of whom I knew, and most of the pub empty. I still intended to just drop off the memory stick, and go to Tesco, but Chris offered to buy me a drink, and twisted my arm until I accepted it ! I ended up staying for three pints, and had a good time.

 Staying for even the first beer lifted my mood considerably, but there was even better to come. While I was drinking with Chris I received a text message from the "management" of Chain - Jo ! She said she had tickets for myself and Kevin for the xmas eve gig, and as a thanks for all our help and support, the band would like to pay for a cab to take us home after the gig. I think I was a bit gobsmacked after that.

 It really is a strange thing this relationship I have with the band. They entertain me, buy me beers, allow me to practice my photography, and videography on them, and then thank me for doing it ! Going to see Chain, or The Bluesicians as they were then, out of pure curiosity because they were playing in my local nearly three years ago now, where, as far as I was concerned, no band had played before, was one of the better, maybe even best things I have done in my life. I really, really love those guys.

 After my three beers too much time had passed, and Tesco was closed when I went past. So I never got my mouse bait, and the mouse lives a little longer. I didn't see any sign of the mouse last night, but I think some congealed fat in the drip tray of my electric grill might have been nibbled at. This morning I might have seen something move out of the corner of my eye while putting my coat on in the back room. It might have just been an eyelash, or even a speck of dust floating by, but it probably was the mouse. I'm definitely going to need that bait soon (or traps, or a new cat !).
gents toilets - Waterloo East
 It's now only three days until the end of the world, and it is going to happen this time. The signs are all there for those who see them.

 In the last couple of weeks signs have appeared on the cubicle doors of the gents toilets on platform B of Waterloo East station. The signs say "Push To Open".

 When doors like this need signs on them to tell people how to open them, then it is definitely time to erase this world, and start again from scratch. Wonko The Sane made a similar observation about toothpicks.

 Of course there could be a logical explanation for the signs. Maybe someone tried limbo dancing under the 6 inch gap at the bottom of the door, got stuck, and the railway was disrupted while the fire brigade was brought out to free him.

 Maybe someone fell while climbing over the top. The fact is, anyone who cannot operate a simple door should not be let out without a handler, or should throw themselves under a train, but no, the only real remedy is to nuke the world from orbit, and start all over again.





  Starting all over again is what I shall be doing after work tonight. I don't think I'll be lured into any pubs on the way, and I should be able to get the mouse bait from Tesco - assuming it's in stock. It might only be seasonally stocked, and the fact that winter is the most common time for mouse incursions will probably mean nothing to the bean counters who are doing an ever improving job at losing Tesco their customers (and share price).
Tuesday 18th December 2012
07:38 GMT

  Yesterday's weather was very much as expected. It was dry and rather cool with occasional sunshine. Unlike yesterday, there was no overnight rain, but it is very cloudy as far as I can see in the greyest of pre-light dawn. The cloud has kept the temperature up at 8 C by my thermometer, and that is one degree higher than the BBC's online weather forecast says we will get all day ! Assuming the rest of the forecast bears some relationship with reality, it is going to be a mostly grey day with the temperature hardly changing throughout the day, but it should stay dry.

 During work yesterday, only a couple of people asked why I didn't stay for the staff xmas last Friday, but no one said that they actually missed my scintillating company (!). Maybe they didn't want to admit that after I told them I was feeling highly anti-social, and felt that it was actually better that some grumpy old git wasn't among them. Alternatively they may have thought that my admission that the morning's ISO9001 stuff  before the party had killed any party spirit I may have had, to be the admission of a madman, and didn't want a raving loony amongst their ranks. The only thing I regret so far is that I didn't get to take advantage of the free food and booze.

 There was a further blow to my mood on the way home from work last night........
Noise mongers for god at Waterloo station
Sorry guys, I just don't give a stuff about the little town of Bethlehem, or any other bloody town when I'm in mid commute !

 It's hard to believe it, but I suffered yet another blow to my mood soon after getting home from work last night. This one is more of an ongoing battle rather than being xmas related. It happened a few seconds after I had put my dinner in the microwave. I started it up, and as I turned away I just caught a glimpse out of the corner of my eye of a grey shadow running out from under the microwave and darting under a bag of baking potatoes. It looks like I have mice in the kitchen again ! I just hope that the mouse that ran across the back room a few minutes later was the same mouse, but the usual rule is that if there is one there is probably a family of them.

 I thought I had stopped the mouse invasion by taking extra care to try and eliminate any way they could get in. It seemed doubly important to do so now I have no cat. Evidently there is still some way they can get in, and if it is where I think it could be, behind a big heavy chest of drawers that has loads of junk on it, as well as in it, it is going to be a major undertaking getting to that hole ! Well I suppose that could be a good distraction from the dreary misery that is xmas day.

 Tonight I will be going home via The Catford Ram, but I may not stay in there for a drink. At least one department of Lewisham Town Hall are having their xmas dinner/party in there, and amongst them will be Chris from Chain. I have a USB memory stick with photos and videos from the gig last Saturday that I want to give him. There is stuff on there that I haven't used, and maybe Jo (who does all Chain's online stuff) may want to use some of it.

 Assuming I don't get asked to stay for a drink - which is possible becuase I know half a dozen of them now from Thursday night drinks - my next stop is going to have to be Tesco to see if they still have some of the useless mouse bait that I've tried from there before. It didn't appear to work last time, but maybe it might this time. There is only one way to find out.....it's just a shame that it is so expensive, but it's gotta be done.
Monday 17th December 2012
07:49 GMT

  It was a nice afternoon yesterday. Occasionally the sun would be obscured by clouds, and there was even a very brief splash of rain, but on the whole it was a bright afternoon right up until sunset. All the puddles this morning suggest that there was a fair amount of rain during the night, but it is not raining now, and the sky looks fairly clear. It was just over 7 C when I left to come to work this morning, and like yesterday, the sunshine we are promised for around the middle of the day will do little to raise the temperature by more than a degree or two. The next couple of days could be similar, but then it may warm up a degree or two more, and there could be copious amounts of rain.

 I did a bit more video editing yesterday, but that didn't take up much time, and then I laid on my bed to read for a while. I would have liked to get some sleep in as well, but that didn't really happen, although I may have dropped off very briefly at one point. There were only two things of possible note that I did yesterday afternoon. One was to cook an almost healthy dinner. It was a baked potato with cabbage and leek mixture that I just dry cooked for a few minutes in the microwave. I guess it was like it was steamed. At that point it was a very healthy meal, but once I had added some grated cheese it was rather less so.

 I actually added two types of grated cheese, and I now know the purpose in life of mozzerella cheese. It is not added for flavour, but to stick everything together like some viscous glue. It was the grated mature cheddar cheese that added the flavour (together with a generous sprinkle of white pepper). If I had only eaten that, plus the grilled gammon with low salt and sugar baked beans I had for breakfast, I might have suggested that I ate almost sensibly yesterday, but I ate so much crap between meals that I am surprised I'm still alive this morning.

 The other task I did yesterday afternoon was to sort out my friends laptop - remotely ! Earlier on in the day he had phoned me to ask some advice, and although I tried to give him some, it was a bit difficult suggesting things for an operating system I am unfamiliar with (Windows 7 - probably the cheap, cut down, home version), and to a person who doesn't know what quotation marks are, and whose keyboard was set for something other then UK English ! Later on in the day he phoned to say that he had installed the server for a service called Logmein (Log-Me-In), and that I could access his laptop remotely.

 At the time of his call I was too busy (waiting for the 7 day weather forecast on the BBC's Countryfile programme), but later on I logged onto his PC and started messing around with it. He could see, and was trying to follow what I was doing on his laptop screen, but he said I was just too fast for him to take much in. I find that surprising because to me it felt like I was groping around in the dark trying to learn how to do stuff on Windows 7. I am not entirely sure what I did in the end, but I got his Firefox web browser to start normally again after some dodgy extesion or add on had messed it up for him.

 That was his main problem sorted out, but I went on to set his location, keyboard preferences, etc to the UK instead of the USA. That made trying to type a bit easier, and then I tried to convince Windows movie maker, or whatever it's called, that here in this country we use 25 frames per second for our TV standard. I tidied up a couple of other things too, but that was enough for one head scratching session !

 I was in bed just before 9pm last night, but I didn't seem to feel sleepy, and so I read until almost 10pm. Eventually I got to sleep, and on the whole I slept OK. I recall waking at some point in the very early hours, and it was from a dream that I intended to try and remember, and write down. Sometime in the intervening hours that memory has evaporated. That's a pity because I am sure the dream had something important to say.

 In one respect I feel good today. The chestiness that I felt yesterday is slightly better even after exposing myself to the cold and damp morning air. I expected to feel pretty dreadful by the time I got to work. The fact that I don't is good. After eating so much unwholesome food yesterday, I am predictably feeling a bit bloated, but I guess I am suffering less than some unfortunate passengers who were sitting near me during an unplanned release of wind :-)

 I can't say I feel very happy at the moment. Being at work is a curse, and yet it is probably as good as any place to be. I can't think of anywhere I rather be except for at home (possibly in bed), and if I was at home I could easily be cooking something evil to eat right now, and then suffering for it later. The trouble is there are only two things I have to look forward to right now. One I look forward to with fear and dread despite that being irrational. That will be the visit from the man from ISO on Wednesday. The other I look forward to with a longing for time to pass far more quickly for it will be most enjoyable - a rare treat ! On the 28th of this month Chain will be playing in The Catford Ram, and I have a feeling it is going to be beyond excellent. There are gigs next Sunday night, and on xmas eve, but travel difficulties will make those tricky, and less enjoyable. So just 11 days to go until I am next happy!
Sunday 16th December 2012
13:15 GMT

  It was cold, but thankfully dry last night. This morning started off rather hazy, but since then it has brightened up, and there has been lots of nice sunshine. Maybe some cloud is building up as I write this, but it may just be passing cloud. Currently, the temperature is just over 9 C outside. That is some way from being warm, but probably not bad lately.

 Compared to the previous Saturday, it was not very hard to motivate myself to leave my nice warm room, and go out to see Chain playing in O'Neills bar in Bromley. Apart from anything else I was looking forward to testing out my new camera. I gave a very good test by taking 300 photos last night, and it is plainly obvious I've got a lot to learn about that camera ! Some photos came out really good, but the vast majority were crap.

 One problem is that the multicoloured lighting in the bar seemed to be giving the "intelligent auto" setting a bit of a run for it's money. The lighting seemed bright, but the camera always wanted to use a long exposure time resulting in hundreds of motion blurred snaps. A few taken with the flash on came out well, and a few using manual settings weren't too bad either, but in a fast changing environment it is annoying to have to keep changing settings manually.

 Here's a great wodge of photos taken last night that I'll show without comment.
Jo Corteen and Guy Harris
Chris Mayer
Dave Griffiths
Chain - aerial shot
another aerial shot of Chain at O'Neills
Long shot of Chain playing in O'Neills
Ravi (or is it Ravvi ?) on 5 string bass
Guy Harris on drums
Ravi and Jo
Chris Mayer under green lighting
Jo Corteen taken using flash
Chris Mayer with xmas bobble hat

 Well, there's a huge selection of pictures taken last night, but if that isn't enough, I also shot some video...........

 Chain covered two xmas songs last night. This was the first, and although her mic was a bit low, she did a really marvellous job of singing Chris De Burgh's "A Spaceman Came Travelling". The other song was Slade's "Merry Xmas Everybody".

 I possibly spent too long playing with cameras to say that I thoroughly enjoyed myself last night, but it was still rather good. It must have been decades ago since I spent any time in a Bromley pub or bar in the evening. Things have changed since then - a lot. Apparently it is a requirement that they all employ bouncers these days. In some respects it is good, but it does spoil the ambience a bit, and very much so at the end when one particularly officious one, with an incredibly loud voice, was urging everyone to drink up and get out.

 It's a fairly short journey on the bus back to Catford, and Kevin and I didn't have to wait very long for the bus. The bus dropped us off at the last stop practically right outside The Catford Bridge Tavern where an old radio pirates xmas get together was taking place. There were quite probably a few people in there who it might have been nice to have a quick drink with in the last hour before the place closed, but there was one person there who I definitely didn't want to see. In fact I refuse to even drink in the same pub as him.

 He is an out and out Nazi, and a couple of his friends are less than pleasant also. I would drink in the same pub as them, but otherwise ignore them. It is fortunate that I noticed the worst one outside the pub as we got off the bus. So I said goodbye to Kevin, who presumably went inside while I walked home in the cold night air.

 That cold night air started to affect my chest last night, and I still feel a bit chesty this morning. Last night I also felt more wide awake than I should have........or maybe I was just over keen to look at the pictures I had taken. Rather than hanging around cooking a very late dinner, I just grabbed a large packet of crisps (well it makes a change from chicken and chips) and started reviewing those pictures. It was just after 1am when I got to to bed, and sleep followed not long after.

 Today I seem to have been almost glued to my PC editing photos and editing video. There are still 4 more videos I could do something with, but I feel they will have to wait until another day. Next on my agenda is to lay on my bed reading, and maybe dozing off. If I doze off well enough I might make up the lost hour or two sleep from last night.
Saturday 15th December 2012
16:32 GMT

  It is very possible that yesterday's temperature hit the promised 11, or even 12 C, but it most definitely, without a shadow of a doubt, did rain, and particularly in the afternoon it was a lot heavier than I expected. Nearly all the clouds dispersed during the night, and this morning was often very sunny, and a not too unreasonable 7 C to start with. There was one brief splash of rain this afternoon, but it seems dry now, and the temperature is currently 9 C.

 I was not that happy at work yesterday. During the morning we had a little mini "lecture" reminding us that the man from the ISO9001 registration board was coming to visit us next Wednesday, and could we please make sure we know all the protocols and stuff. Personally I prefer the Nuremberg defence that I am just following orders - even if time after time it has been shown to be no defence at all. Yet in many ways it is applicable to me. I, more than anyone else in the company, occupy a unique position, and very, very few of the documented procedures refer to the work I actually do.

 A lot of my work is one off stuff that I am requested to do by our development department. I don't personally order any parts that I use, although potentially I could I wanted to follow the tedious proceedure for doing so. For many projects I just scrounge around for parts, and if I can't find them I tell the development engineer what he's is going to have to get me to do whatever it is he wants me to do. So basically I do just follow orders. There is other ISO related stuff to do with health and safety, and the like that is relevant to me, but it's all just common sense, and I trust my common sense more than the convoluted protocol documents that I am supposed to know in case the man from ISO actually asks me a question.

 If it had been a nice warm sunny day, and I was feeling like I was brimming over with health, and maybe a few other things as well, I could have just dismissed the irritation of the mini lecture, and what is to come next Wednesday, but I loowed it to needle me. Not much, admittedly, but enough to swing my desire to not particpate in the free food and beer that was the xmas party from still undecided to not keen at all. I did get as far as looking at some of the bottled beers that were available, and a couple may have been acceptable, but I didn't feel in a beer drinking mood. Half an hour later I took another look at the room the party was in. I stood in there for 30 seconds, looked around, and found that I definitely had zero enthusiasm for it.

 It was about 2pm when I sneaked out the door, and headed for the station in the rain. If I had left 15 minutes earlier I could have got the new London Overground service from Clapham Junction to Peckham Rye, and then after a short wait, a train to Catford. Unfortunately the trains to Catford are only every 30 minutes, and the first service I could have got from Clapham Junction, which run every 15 minutes, would probably have left a 20 - 25 minute wait for a Catford Train at Peckham Rye station. I didn't fancy such a long wait so I decided to go the usual route via Waterloo. As it turned out that was probably a huge mistake.

 I arrived at Waterloo East a few minutes before the next Catford Bridge boud train was due to depart from Waterloo East - which is a nearly three times as long as few minutes away ! With no chance at all of getting to the platform on time I elected to stand outside in the rain smoking to pass some of the 30 minute wait for the next train. Standing in the rain suited my mood at the time, but the novelty soon wore off !

 I passed through the barriers into Waterloo East station with the displays outside saying the next Catford Bridge train was 10 minutes away, and on time. Five minutes later, when I arrived on the platform the displays said the train was now delayed. That is often a euphemism for cancelled, but not this time........well not exactly this time, but as good as. 24 minutes later the train arrived, but the platform displays said it would run fast from London Bridge to Elmers End - 4 stops past catford.

 There were no announcements to confirm this on the platform, nor on the train itself when I decided to get on it anyway. I was wondering if I would enjoy a high speed run all the way from London Bridge to Elmers End as a sort of joy ride. At another time I would definitely have done so, but I seemed very short of joy, and got off the train again at London Bridge. Some announcement that was probably about the train was made at London Bridge, as the train was entering the platform, but it was unintelligable from inside the train.

 With that train running 24 minutes late it was only a 6 minute wait for the next service, and fortunately that was on time. Whether the first train did, or did not stop at Catford Bridge is something I'll probably never know. What I did know was that I felt cold and tired when I finally got home, and all the damp air while I waited in the rain had started me coughing again. Some hot food warmed me up, and the cough stopped again. I can't remember what time it was I got home, but it was still just about light. So maybe it was before 4pm, but not by that much. So much for leaving work early !

 I fully intended to drink an excess of scotch last night, but all I had was one quick swig out of the bottle upon arriving home. Instead I ended up drowning my sorrows with an extra meal. When I got home I cobbled together a meal made out of a few odds and ends in the fridge. Later in the evening I microwave "baked" a couple of smallish baking potatoes which I had with cheese and chilli sauce. By 8.30pm I was in bed, but I read until gone 9pm before falling asleep very soon after turning out the light.

 I seemed to sleep well until 2.30am when I woke from an interesting dream that I wanted to record here, but I seem to have forgotten most of it now. I remember being in some sort of classroom, or school, and the lady teacher asking why I bothered being their if I didn't want to participate in the class. I also remember someone else asking why I didn't take part in the art section. To which I remember replying something like "why bother, I can't even draw a straight line that anyone would recognise". It seemed a clever, if not quite credible answer in the dream, but it was the answer I gave to the teacher that I was most proud of.

 The teacher was no one I could put a name to, but with the class being assorted adults, she was probably my friend Patricia wearing a different face. Patricia was one of my teachers on one of the 97% useless courses that The Job Centre would send people to to (allegedly) improve their job seeking skills. That was way back in 2004. My reply to this teacher would probably impress any lothario. It certainly impressed me, and it would be nice to be able to use it more often. I simply said the reason I was still there was because she was beautiful !

 I didn't seem to be able to get back to sleep again at first, so I got up and checked my email, plus a few blogs and stuff on the internet. It might have been two hours later that I got back in bed and slept fitfully until almost 8am. I was evidenly feeling reasonably OK because on of the first things I did was to do some laundry. Once that was done I made two shopping trips. The first was to Aldi, and the second was to the 99p shop. It was lucky that I had bought some laundry detergent from Aldi because the 99p shop had shelves full of fabric conditioners, but no detergent at all ! Anyway, between the two lots of shopping I have probably got enough snacks and other unhealthy stuff to see me right through xmas - if I don't get carried away eating them. If I went on a vegetarian diet I probably have enough proper food to last me a similar length of time, but sometime during the week I'll probably buy some meat products.

 It seems I spent much of this afternoon on the phone to a mate of mine. It was he who rang me, and I can't remember why now, but most of the call was about nostalgic stuff from years ago when life was far more fun. Now I find that time is running away from me, and very soon now I must get under the shower and prepare to go out. Tonight I really am going to go out and see Chain playing in O'neils in Bromley, and tonight I will finally get to test my new camera !
Friday 14th December 2012
08:21 GMT

  It was most definitely cold yesterday. During the morning it didn't feel that bad, but later on in the afternoon the breeze got a bit stronger, and that made it feel more chilly. There were a few sunny intervals yesterday, but no significant amounts of sunshine. This morning started off looking quite damp after some rain during the night, but it was very slightly less cold. With luck the temperature will hit 11 or 12 C in the early afternoon, but the price to pay for that is that the sky is looking almost dark grey now, and more rain will be falling later this morning, and possibly lighter rain this afternoon.

 On my way home from work I used up the last of my recent Tesco clubcard vouchers. Last nights one was for "triple points". I didn't spend that much so it was a sort of waste of a voucher, but I think I'll gain by more wisely spending my money in Aldi. I did pick up a couple of bargains while in Tesco. They had a lot of ready cooked hot chicken reduced to half price to clear the shelves for the night, and I grabbed some assorted flavoures thighs and wings.

 Although I didn't spend much, I still seemed to end up with three bags of shopping, and they were quite heavy to lug to my next destination - the pub. They seemed even heavier when I lugged them from the pub to home ! Now I'm not sure why that should be. I made a point of not drinking much, although with Kevin there I was enticed to have an extra double scotch before leaving after just two pints.

 I arrived home just before 7pm, and in time to eat the hot chicken I bought (which needed reheating in the microwave after all that time) while watching an episode of Futurama. I ate a couple of other things beside the chicken, but it was still a relatively light dinner for a change. Once Futurama finished I turned off everything downstairs, and went upstairs to wash my hair. I then did some stuff on my PC until my hair was almost dry. Ideally it would have been completely dry, but it was only mildly damp in place when I got into bed. I think that was about 8.30pm. After that things get confusing.

 I have this idea in the back of my mind that I couldn't get to sleep, and yet I can't remember actually being awake for long. I do remember waking up a few times, and I definitely woke up around 4.30am. Now that's one of those awkward times to wake up - just half an hour earlier than my alarm would have woken me anyway. In theory I could have got an extra 30 minutes sleep, or I could accept the inevitable and get up. I actually compromised by turning on the light, but allowing myself 5 minutes to fall asleep before just lying there for another 5 minutes to try and get the hang of being awake again.

 I felt so much better after the extra sleep that I got the previous night that I wish I could have got to bed earlier last night, but waking up early suggests I have had plenty of sleep......or at least it should do. I quite fancy going back to bed now, but that is tricky to do while 6 or 7 miles away from my bed. I did feel OK this morning, and I guess I still do now once I subract the discomfort of wearing my too tight red jeans. I thought that as it was the xmas party here at work this afternoon, I would sort of dress up. I am wondering if that was a mistake now.

 I have to confess it is a little uncomfortable sitting here with those jeans cutting me in two. Although in some respects it is the tightness around the legs that I dislike most - but only when I try to bend my knees ! Now two things are possible later. I had it in mind that I would sneak out very early once the party starts, but now I've got this crazy idea that I might feel sociable this afternoon. It seems unlikely, but stranger things have happened before.

 Apologies for my server being down during Wednesday night, and some of yesterday morning. At approximately 7pm on Wednesday night I had a brown out that was totally unrelated to the "brown outs" my body was suffering from during Wednesday. If I had not gone to bed so extra early I might have corrected matters before they were noticed, but I was just dropping off to sleep when I heard my fan heater momentarily slow down. It puzzled me as to what had happened. I wasn't even sure if it had really happened, or if it was just an effect of slipping into sleep that I had not noticed before.

 It must have been a deep dip in the mains voltage because it was enough to reboot the little PC that is supposed to be my temporary server, but has been doing the job for so long, and so well that I probably ought to make a couple of minor changes (like putting the extra hard disk inside instead of sitting next to it on the table), and make it a permanent job. It is because it is supposed to be temporary solution that the hard disk that has all my web pages on it, and the USB memory stick that is serving as a back up drive, are only mounted as removable drives, and have to be mounted manually after every boot. Mounting those drives over a remote connection from work taxed my memory and ingenuity a lot, but I managed it in the end, and everything should have been back to normal by about 9am yesterday.
Thursday 13th December 2012
08:24 GMT

  Apart from the perishing cold, it wasn't so bad a day yesterday. It stayed dry, and there was some sunshine. It did get very cold overnight, and there is another thick frost this morning. Now the sun is up, although not yet actually visible, I can see lots of blue sky through my office window. The wet weather that is coming in from the west has not arrived yet, and may only arrive tomorrow. That leaves today being dry and bright, but the temperature is only forecast to reach 2 C, and that will only be for an hour or two in the early afternoon.

 I don't really know what it was I ate that gave me an upset stomach yesterday. Maybe it was one of the Ken Hom Chinese meals I had, or maybe it was something else entirely, but it did a really good job at upsetting my lower digestive proccesses. After all the visits to the toilet I made before arriving at work I have to add at least two more while at work (maybe 3). Plus another visit to the gents at Waterloo station, an almost too late visit to my own toilet when I got home, and then twice more after that. I reckon I am pretty empty this morning !

 I could have done better when choosing my dinner last night. On the other hand I could have done far, far worse ! I opted for some grilled steak with a baked sweet potato and some baked tomatoes - baked by microwave if such a thing is possible. I did slightly mar any healthy aspects of the meal by adding several slices of cheddar cheese. In my defence, it was allegedly low fat (and partly tasteless) cheddar cheese. It was one of the smallest dinners I've had for some time.

 Fortunately it didn't seem to add to my discomfort - most of which was a feeling of tenderness (or overworked muscles) below the stomach (those peristaltic muscles must have been working overtime yesterday !). In some respects I didn't feel that much discomfort in the evening, and it was more like an overall tiredness. So I went to bed extra early last night. I was in bed, and asleep not very long after 7pm last night. I woke very few times in the night, and probably got over 9 hours sleep. I feel a lot better for it, but I think if I had the option to do it, I could have stayed in bed, and got even more sleep this morning.

 Tonight I will be in bed a fair bit later I suspect. I think I'm going to pop into Tesco and get some baking potatoes (and probably other stuff too), and after that I'll pop into The Catford Ram for a pint or two. I hope to be away from there fairly early because I want to wash my hair tonight. It's our company Xmas party tomorrow, and although I will probably feel grumpy and sneak away very early, I feel I should look reasonable for the occasion.
Wednesday 12th December 2012
08:13 GMT

  The sky stayed clear for a lot longer than I assumed it would, and that meant the bright sunshine continued virtually right up to sunset. All that sunshine did nothing for the temperature though. It was still perishing cold at sun set. This morning the forecast was for freezing fog. I haven't seen any fog, but it is definitely misty, and it is definitely freezing ! My outside thermometer said 0.2 C, and there was a thick frost on the cars as I walked to the station, and it is still there now. It should stay dry today, but may be overcast a lot of the time. The fun starts tomorrow when we could get some sleet and snow !

 It was nice being lazy yesterday. Some of the time I was just laying on my bed with the bright sunshine pouring through the window, but I wasn't lazy all day. There were three different things I did that were hardly that taxing, but were more than doing nothing. I washed one shirt, and a pair of lounge pants. I gathered up all my loose pay slips, all three years of them, and put them in order with earlier ones in a loose leaf binder.

 The last thing I did was to resurect what used to be my main PC before I found it was more comortable to work upstairs in my bedroom. The PC in my bedroom is also a bit faster than the one in the cold and uncomfortable downstairs back room. The initial problem with it was that I had tried to do an operating system upgrade, and it had failed. Subsequently a second fault occured that I only found and diagnosed yesterday. The power supply brick for the monitor had failed. It produced enough power for the standby light, but everytime the monitor tried to come on the voltage just collapsed.

 Luckily I had a spare power brick for the monitor, and that restored that back to normal operation. Getting the rest of the PC working was just a matter of deleting the old operating system, and installing the new from fresh. At least that's how it should have worked, but I forgot a tiny little point. In my home directory there are a lot of hidden files, and many contain configuration details for the desktop. The operating system was Linux Mint, and originally it used the Gnome desktop. I now prefer the XFCE desktop because it is easier to customise it to look like Windows 2000 - which I think was one of the best desktop designs ever ! What I should have done was to delete all those hidden files that refered to the old Gnome desktop because now, when the PC starts up I get a load of error messages saying it can't load the Gnome desktop.

 It was a while before I twigged what the error messages meant. I could have deleted those hidden files to stop the messages, and then got on with customising the desktop, but I was beginning to feel very chilly in that back room. Apart from the error messages the PC otherwise was fully working, and I could get access to some of my old files. That was good enough for me last night, and once that stage was reached I shut everything down and went back into the warm front room.

 I think yesterday was the second time I tried a couple of Tesco's Ken Hom Chinese ready meals, but the first time since getting a microwave cooker. They come in a microwave proof plastic container that is very similar to how many takeaways package their food. I'm not sure why I bought them because I had a vague recollection that they weren't very nice, but maybe I had some sort of stupid idea that cooking/re-heating them in a microwave might make some sort of miraculous difference. Of course it didn't, and I can now say for definite that those meals are rubbish. In fact the black bean and noodle one is close on to being nasty ! I really must be firm with myself, and make sure I never buy any of them ever again.

 Those meals, which are very small meals by the way, try to emulate what might come from a Chinese takeaway. They only partly succede in two ways, although one way is probably my imagination. The first way is the similar packaging, and the second is in causing stomach upsets. I don't know about other areas of the country, or even about other areas of London, but the food hygiene inspectors have mostly put paid to dodgy takeaways in my vicinity. So it is very rare to get a stomach upset from a takeaway, but maybe not from a Ken Hom meal from Tesco.

 It is unlikely it was one of those meals, even the nasty tasting one, that gave me an upset stomach this morning, but I most definitely did have an upset stomach ! I woke at about 2.30am with a very tender feeling stomach. A visit to a very cold toilet seemed to do the trick, but after getting up at 5am I had to make several more trips to the toilet before I could leave for work. It wasn't over even then. On the way to work I called in to the toilets at Waterloo East station, Waterloo mainline station, and also, horror of horrors, the toilets at Clapham Junction. On 2 out of 3 occassions it was just wind, and I am still passing wind occasionally even as I write this. It's just my contribution to global warming !
Tuesday 11th December 2012
10:06 GMT

  It was certainly very cool yesterday, but the sun managed to shine for quite long periods of time between patches of cloud that would drift across the sky. The cloud got thinner and thinner late in the afternoon, and probably all but disappeared overnight. That meant there was a thick frost this morning. The temperature has now risen to 1.3 C, but the frost hasn't all thawed. It is bright and sunny this morning, but in places where the sun hasn't touched it is possible that the frost will linger all day. Some thin cloud is forecast for this afternoon, but it will remain dry.

 Last night I felt inclined to try going home from work via the new London Overground service from Clapham Junction. I was not impressed with the complete lack of information at Clapham Junction. There were no signs anywhere apart from when you were almost on the right platform - and there are 17 platforms to choose from at Clapham Junction ! After investigating platform 17 where I had seen some Overground trains during the test running, I found there was no service from there.

 It's a long walk from platform 17 to platforms 1 and 2, and it was platform 2 where my service was due to run from. The train with it's hard and uncomfortable seats that run up and down the train, instead of the more conventional across the train, was waiting for me when I got there. After five minutes we set off - very slowly. It may be that the train was running very smoothly, but it felt like it was just running very slowly, and as it was dark outside there were few visual clues as to it's progress.

 What is certain was that it was running to time, and after a very tedious ride we arrived at Peckham Rye station on time. At Peckham Rye I had to change trains for one to Catford. The Catford train arrived a minute or so late having been held up by the train before that was definitely running late. That meant that we made slow progress following that late train until it turned off our line at Nunhead station. From then on we made a good speed to Catford.

 The Catford train was not as busy as I feared, but there weren't really any seats left on it. I deliberately got on the train a few carriages from the front because I thought the front ones would be more packed. Standing in a doorway by myself was more pleasant than being in a small scrum, but being in the middle of the queue trying to slowly filter out the small station exit was a penance that may not have been worth it.  We were probably about a minute late arriving at Catford, and getting out the station further delayed me.

 As such, these delays were very minor, but as I crossed over the road that runs alongside the line that runs into Catford Bridge station I saw my usual train just approaching the station. I guess that the alternative London Overground route is quicker, but I'm not sure that a saving of a minute or two is anything worth getting excited about. One plus point is that it is definitely slightly cheaper, but a minus point is that I usually have time at Waterloo to have a cigarette, and/or buy something from many of the little shops and stalls around the station. Maybe I'll try the new route again soon, or maybe I'll wait until I can do it in daylight, but I don't think it is going to be a regular thing.

 Once again I went home via Tesco to stockpile some stuff for when the shops get too busy to use in the days leading up to the holiday. It is possible that my timing was very good. Yesterday they were doing three 2 litre bottles of Diet Coke for 3. I don't know why they can't keep the price of Diet Coke consistent. One day there are no offers, and another day it is two bottle for 3. Then another day it is two bottles for 2.50. It just varies from day today. I am sure that if I went there today I would get it for the same price as yesterday.

 While rummaging around in there I found more discoloured steak for less than half price. So last night I had yet another steak dinner. I don't know if it was the way I cooked it, but apart from one very small bit of gristle, it was the best tasting steak I've had in ages. It was really tender, and really delicious. I had almost given up on the idea of steak being a tenth as delicious as it smells when being cooked, but last night it got at least as high as being half as tasty as that delightful smell that wafts out of some restaurants.

 For the umpteenth night in a row I ate far more than is good for me, although I didn't feel quite so bloated when I did a bit of laundry not that long after eating. Maybe the penance came later because I suffered some heartburn before going to bed, and more heartburn in the early hours of this morning. Actually it is probably worse than heartburn, and is more likely to be an ulcer. It is still giving me some discomfort even now. Indigestion tablets do provide some quick, but not lasting relief.  I think I had better lay off the steaks for a while, and stick to rice pudding while it calms down, and definitely avoid eating cold greasy pork and egg pie shortly before going to bed ! It was an end of pie off cut on the reduced price shelf at tesco, and with hindsight it may not have been a great bargain !

 I'm not at work today having taken the day off as holiday. I had been saving just one last day of holiday in case it snowed. It didn't snow, but something definitely caused some delays on the trains this morning. They weren't big delays, but I was feeling a bit off colour this morning having had difficulty sleeping during the early hours of the morning, and those delays seemed like the perfect excuse to claim my last day of unbooked holiday of the year. The very last day will actually be a half day on Xmas eve.

 I don't know what I'll be doing today. I've already had at least an extra hour of sleep this morning, and maybe I might have more. I don't think I'll be going out today - it's too cold to enjoy doing anything, although the sunshine looks very nice when looking out from a nice warm room. Maybe I might do some housework - there's plenty I could, or maybe ought to do :-)
Monday 10th December 2012
08:01 GMT

  It seemed to stay very cool at a little under 9 C up until I went to sleep last night. Overnight the temperature dropped, but considering it was so clear this morning, it was not as far as I would have thought. There was no frost, and my thermometer said it was 3.8 C when I left to come to work. The air is fairly still outside, and it's didn't feel as chilly as it might have done. It's forecast to stay dry today, and occasionally the sun could peep out from behind milky white clouds, but the temperature is not forecast to rise by more than a degree or two today.

 One interesting aspect of this morning's clear sky was the view of the moon. It was clearly visible, and was a sharp looking crescent in the eastern sky this morning. Being to the east meant that the part in shadow that is usually not visible was being lit up by earthshine, and although too dim to easily see any detail in it, it was plainly obvious. It's by no means a rare event, it's actually probably very common, but it's not often noticed. It would have been interesting to see what my new camera would have made of it, but I didn't have it with me, nor a tripod, which I think would have been needed to get a sharp picture if the camera could find focus.

 The only thing of note I did yesterday evening was to find a mouse in the living room. Fortunately it was not a real mouse, but one of Smudge's old toy mice. It has been under the TV stand, and I think I possibly dislodged it while pulling cables around while investigating the intermittent internet connection I was suffering from in the first half of yesterday. On the subject of mice, I forgot to metion a discovery I made on Saturday.

 At the corner of the fireplace there was a very small, but very neat rectangular hole going down below the floorboards. It was so neat, particularly on the edge of the carpet, that it almost looked like it had been cut with a knife. The hole itself was maybe an inch and a quarter long, and half an inch wide - easily big enough for a mouse to get through. I can remember hearing noises from that general area years ago, and before Smudge died he was often interested in that area too. I don't know how long the hole had been there. It was in a dim corner, but it was very obvious once seen. I have seen no evidence of mice in the house since last summer, and now I have sealed that hole off, I hope I won't be seeing any this winter either.

 I didn't expect to feel quite as good as I do this morning - I don't actually feel good as such, but then again I don't feel bad either. What I do feel very slightly right now, but felt a lot worse as I lay awake in bed last night, is a sort of crossover between depression and frustration. There is probably a special word for it, but I have no idea what it may be. All I know is that depression does not really cover it because there is no element of despair in this feeling. On the contrary, it includes a measure of hope.

 On the face of it, it is the fairly well known Seasonally Affected Disorder, but I don't like to do things by the book, so I've added my unique touches to it. It is the frustration of not having more get up and go on these short cold days that is the root cause of my depression-like feeling. For six days of the week it doesn't really matter that much, but I am annoyed that I missed the gig on Saturday night because I just couldn't seem to physically and mentally prepare myself to go out for the evening.

 I am also annoyed that I am eating too much, and putting on weight that is going to be a real bugger to shift once the longer and warmer days come around again. Well it's only eleven days now until this world ends and the better one starts. Maybe then, perhaps by next May, I'll have reduced my eating enough to drop a trouser size. We can all dream now and then :-)
Sunday 9th December 2012
16:37 GMT

  Although yesterday evening seemed to end with a clear sky it evidently didn't stay that way. This morning it seemed damp as if it had been raining during the night, and it did seem rather dull at sunrise, but soon enough the clouds cleared away. For a lot of this morning there was a gloriously blue sky, and lots of sunshine. By midday there were a lot of dark clouds gathering, but it didn't rain, and there were often sunny spells during the afternoon. I was expecting a frost this morning, but I couldn't have been more wrong.

 I'm sure I saw a temperature of around 9 C early this morning, although by 11am it had dropped to around 8 C. I'm currently seeing 8.8 C on my thermometer. So it hasn't been exactly warm, but at least it hasn't been bone achingly cold today. Tonight the temperature is forecast to drop by half, and tomorrow will max out at 5 C, but it should stay dry, and there could be a few sunny intervals.

 It was annoying not feeling up to going out last night, but it may have been for the better. I was in bed at roughly the same time that Chain would have been starting their first set. It didn't take long to get to sleep, and until almost 4am I slept quite well. I did get up for a while at 4am, but eventually went back to bed and slept for some more.

 I woke again when it was light outside, and one of the first things I did was to do some laundry. I've almost cleared a small backlog I had been gathering, and maybe tomorrow I'll wash the few bits and pieces left over from this morning. Having sorted out the laundry I laundered myself, and my hair :-) While my hair dryed I played about on my PC. It was a bit of a frustrating play because my Virgin Media broadband connection seemed to be playing up. For tens of minutes at a time my data rate seemed to drop below that of two people using semaphore flags ! It wasn't until this afternoon that it seemed to return to normal.

 Once my hair seemed sufficiently dry I went out to get some shopping, and this time, just for a change, I went to Lidl. There was nothing I really needed, but I have started stockpiling for when the supermarkets go crazy in the lead up to the winter holiday. I can't stand shopping then, when the queues at the checkout are so long that the back is in the next town, and the walls creak from the sheer mass of people crowding through the doors. So I bought three spare 2 litre bottles of diet cola, and a lot of tinned food. I did buy some stuff to eat today though, and amongst it were some stuffed hot peppers and stuffed vine leaves. Both were dripping in oil which I hope was olive oil rather some dehydrogenated old sump oil or something equally unhealthy.

 It was as I was staggering back from Lidl that I noticed that on one horizon there were thick evil looking clouds. On my way there it was bright and sunny, and I had been thinking of going for a wander in the park with my new camera, but those heavy clouds put me off that idea. Instead, I opted to have some munchies, and watch some TV followed by a short snooze.

 There is only one thing of note that I have done this afternoon, and it is all thanks to me having done some hoovering yesterday. The hoover was upstairs and handy to drag to my PC. At long last I've given the inside of the PC a good hoovering out. I unscrewed the fan off the CPU cooler and I was surprised that it wasn't more clogged than it was, but it was still pretty mucky. Since cleaning everything the PC is running much quieter with the fans not having to work so hard drawing air over mucky heatsinks.

 I can't say I am looking forward to going back to work tomorrow, but it should be an interesting week in some respects. Wednesday could be interestingly good, or interestingly bad. Earlier weather forecasts suggested there was an excellent chance of snow on that day. The latest forecast on the BBC's website only suggests that it will be a bitter day with the temperature hovering just above zero, but it will stay dry with no rain, sleet or snow. I was counting on thick snow. I have one more day of holiday to take this year, and I was hoping to take it on Wednesday while everyone else struggled to get in on failed trains, and blocked roads.

 This coming Friday sees our xmas party at work. I have found ithe party to be very boring for the last few years, and this year, unless something happens that excites me, I think I am going to discretely slip away as soon as it starts. I'll miss out out on some free, but hardly desirable booze, but that might be an equitable trade to go home during daylight hours.
Saturday 8th December 2012
17:23 GMT

  Yesterday was often bright and sunny, but very cold - particularly during the morning when there was a really icy feeling wind blowing. The wind dropped in the afternoon, and that made it feel a bit better. There seemed to be less wind today, and maybe a little more sunshine, but otherwise it was quite similar to yesterday. It's currently 4.6 C on my outside thermometer, and if the sky stays as clear as it was before the sun went down, it's going to be an extra cold morning tomorrow.

 It was very quiet at work yesterday afternoon. I had finished all the work I could, and with no one around to suddenly make demands on me I slipped out the door 15 minutes earlier than usual. It was nice getting out of work and into the fresh air early, but ultimately it did me no good. Such is the timing of the trains from Waterloo East to Catford Bridge that I still ended up getting my usual train home.

 I felt quite tired when I got in, and I was really looking forward to getting some dinner cooked, and then slumping in front of the TV for a bit. Sandwiched between several very unhealthy snacks and dessert, I had a very healthy sort of dinner. It was grilled steak with salad. On a summers day it would possibly have been quite sufficient, but on a cold, short winters day I couldn't resist the other crap I had before and after it. The steak, which was looking quite brown rather than an unhealthy pink, and came from the reduced price shelves at tesco, was, as I guessed it might be, rather good, and probably didn't deserve to be so diluted by all the salad I had with it.

 I did want to get a bit more laundry done last night, but in the end I just could not be bothered. After watching the news I stayed downstairs and watched another hour of TV before going up to my bedroom. I spent a little while on my PC before getting into bed a little before 9pm. I think I may have actually been asleep by 9pm, but a phone call a few seconds later woke me up again. I slept well until sometime around 4am when I seemed unable to get back to sleep again.

 I came quite close to getting up at 4am, and I did spend almost an hour out of bed before I thought it was all a bit silly, and made an effort to get back to sleep until it was daylight outside. That seemed to work, but I woke up feeling groggier than when I had woken up earlier. I had Aleemah visiting me this morning, and it took quite a lot of effort to force myself into doing some housework before she arrived. It worked though, or at least it partly worked becuase for the first time in too long I even managed to do some hoovering !

 Aleemah brough round the DVD version of some seasonal 6 part kids story called "The Box Of Delights". I didn't really expect to enjoy it, and worse than that, I expected to hate it, but I think I can grudgingly confess that it wasn't that bad, and was almost enjoyable in parts. The major trouble with it was that it was 6 half episodes, and that adds up to three hours of solid watching - a little bit much for one sitting of something that wasn't really gripping.

 After Aleemah had gone home again I rustled up some dinner, cheap and cheerful smoked gammon steaks, and watched some TV. That just about brings things up to date. Now I am sitting here writing this, and feeling warm and cosy, and also still rather full of dinner, and that leads to a dilemna. Tonight I hould be going to see Chain play at The British Oak pub in Blackheath, and where I can give my brand new camera it's baptism of fire, and yet I don't really feel like going out tonight.

 It leaves me in a bit of a quandary. It is possible that any minute now I will get a text message offering me a lift to the pub. That would certainly make it easy to get there, and the chances are I could also get a lift back to Catford again, but I'm not sure if even that is enough to tempt me to go out. I feel like I would be letting the band down in some way if I didn't go, plus I would be missing out on good beer ! As I finished that last sentence the text message with the offer of a lift just came through, and I've turned it down. So I'll probably have an early (for a Saturday night) night, tonight.
Friday 7th December 2012
07:47 GMT

  There were a few occasions when a weak and watery looking sun broke through the cloud yesterday, but overall it was a cold and dull day. The good news was that the rain that was forecast to fall in the afternoon didn't actually fall where I was. There had evidently been a shower in Catford before I arrived there after work, but there was no rain as I walked to Tesco, no rain as I walked to the pub, and no rain when I walked from the pub to home.

 There was rain during the night, but the sky was clear, with a big crescent moon clearly visible when I walked to the station this morning. It was 3.8 C when I left home, and while that is still very cold, it didn't feel half as bad as it did yesterday morning. The sky is only just getting light now, and I can see lots of streaky clouds gathering. Despite that, it should be a dry day, but it's going to be another cold one.

 I began to feel tired yesterday afternoon, but going home in the dry, instead of the expected rain, perked me up a lot, and decided I would carry out my master plan of getting some stuff in Tesco, and then wandering around to see who might appear in the pub. I had sent a text message to Kevin during the morning telling him of my plans, but he never appeared. I had said that if it was pouring with rain I would most likely go straight home. Maybe the rain that had fallen before I reached Catford had been sufficiently like a downpour that he assumed I would not be going to the pub. So I had just one pint with Chris and a few of his workmates before I went home to cook dinner.

 I finally had what I should have had the night before - grilled skinless chicken with salad. It was nice, but at Tesco prices it was rather a luxury dinner. I am uncertain of the exact prices, but I think the same, or very similar chicken from Aldi is half the price. Tesco is getting terrifyingly expensive now. They must think they are the Harrods of the high street supermarkets. Fortunately there are still bargains to be had. On the reduced price shelves I found some nice looking steak for half the price the chicken was. It looked quite brown, but for beef that is a good thing. I very much look forward to having it tonight with more salad.

 Last night was another night where the main course of my dinner would probably please even the worst of the NHS nazis, but other courses would not have amused them. Also on the reduced price shelves in Tesco were some savoury pastry type things. I have no idea what to call them, but they consist of a base of greasy pastry topped by a savoury mix of finely chopped chorizo with peppers and tomato paste. They are about the size of two credit cards side by side, and really delicious. I had two of them as a sort of starter, and for dessert I had some sweet pastry type things (I can't remember what they were called, but they had a vanilla flavoured custardy type stuff with nuts and stuff on them). I probably ate other stuff too, but fortunately I managed to resist the lure of the reduced price smoked Austrian cheese !

 I didn't feel quite so stuffed as the previous night after I turned off the TV and went upstairs. It made doing a bit more laundry less taxing. Bending over the bath with a bulging stomach is not all that comfortable ! So I washed a couple of shirts, and a minor backlog of underwear. After hanging it all up to dry I went to bed. I didn't fall asleep that quickly, but I think I got a reasonable amount of sleep. I did have some vivid dreams during the night, and one of them seemed to be fairly long.

 Upon analysing what I can remember about it, I think it was actually a series of separate dreams that memory has merged into one. The beginning is very hazy. I was in a strange house at the top of a flight of stairs having an argument with someone who I believed to be a cousin. She seemed totally irrational, and made some remark that didn't make sense. At that point someone else appeared who was sterotypically a learned /intelligent person, although I have no idea who, and challenged this cousins remark. I was feeling quite angry, and left them to it while announcing that I was going for a shower.

 I entered the room with a shower and bathtub in it, but must have changed my mind and exited through another door. I think I had decided to go for a walk in the local park. It seemed a very long way to go, and at one point I was running. For some strange reason I decided that I would try and run backwards. I didn't make very good progress like that so I turned around while still running - except it wasn't as straightforward as that.  As I did it I was no longer empty handed because I had a Tesco's carrier bag in my hand. What I seemed to do was most complicated, but somehow I swing the bag over my head as I turned around, and it was like I had done a cartwheel or something. The world definitely turned upside down as I turned to face the direction I was running in, and it felt sort of invigorating.

 I can't quite recall if I was still running, or if I was just walking again as I got near the entrance to the park, but I do remember being waylaid by a bunch of youths (of both sexes). There are groups of youths in my path I find unsettling, or even downright scary, and these were the very worst of them - young Jehovas Witnesses ! They were a happy clappy lot, and just like typical Jehovas Witnesses they tried to be very subtle in bringing up the subject of religion by starting off on a totally different subject. I remember saying something like "so you're bloody Christians then ?", but what I can't remember is if I managed to say that classic quote, probably from Monty Python, although a Google search for it brings up nothing, "there's never a lion about when you want one". That was certainly my last thought as I woke up. As to the quote about lions, if Google can't suggest any source for it then maybe I can claim it as my own. How inventive is that ?

 Isn't it funny how words change their meaning over time ? Take the word brave, and also it's opposite, coward. Once upon a time someone who was brave would be someone who could overcome fear, go into strange or dangerous situations, and carry out acts or duties that would have most of us cowering under our duvets. According to those who recently censured a judge it is actually cowards who do these things. Once upon a time it was only cowardice that prevented me from breaking into people's homes, mugging old ladies, and other acts of general mayhem. I have always thought of myself as a coward, and now I know what cowards actually do these things, I feel a new career coming on.......maybe once it gets a bit warmer. After all you can only push cowardice so far.

 Of course I'll never get around to doing these things because the world's about to end. It must be true because they said it in The Metro this morning when discussing other "the worlds about to end"s. The date for this latest ending of the world is set for the 21st this month, and in a way it is very true. The 21st is the winter solstice, and on that day this world ends, but a new one starts with gradually lengthening, and slowly warming days. I can't wait !
Thursday 6th December 2012
07:54 GMT

  After the snowy/sleety/rainy start to yesterday it soon dried up, and even before midday the sun was occasionally shining, and a lot of the ground was dry. If it hadn't been for the nasty cold wind it might have been a pleasant afternoon. With the sky almost clear it was, inevitably, a bitter cold night. This morning my thermometer said -0.3 C. I almost missed the minus sign because it looks like it's position is fixed to the the far left of the display - almost as if it expects to be able to read hundreds of minus degrees !

 There is very little wind this morning, and that, plus the thermal underwear I am wearing under my trousers, meant that it didn't feel that uncomfortable as I came to work. The discomfort will come later. As my train pulled into Earlsfield station the eastern sky was filled with the most glorious pinks, reds, and oranges as the sun creaked it's way up to the horizon. Now a red sky in the morning is shepherds warning, and that rather tallies with the forecast for a lot of rain starting early this afternoon - maybe sooner, or maybe later. By then the temperature should be up to 5 or 6 C. So there is little chance of any snow, but it's going to make going home rather unpleasant, and I'm not sure if my cagoule type thing will fit over my rather bulky, well padded, winter jacket.

 It was a joy to get home after work yesterday, and I had firm intentions that my dinner would be a bit more healthy than I have been eating recently. I started off with some soup to help warm things up, and then went to grill some skinless chicken. I never gave much thought to how long that chicken, in a sealed see through container, had been sitting in the bottom of the fridge. With the benefit of hindsight I now realise it was about a week and a half, and it was as high as a kite ! As soon as I opened it I had trouble keeping my soup down. The stench just made me gag.

 Using extrordinary levels of willpower, I somehow managed to carry it out into the garden and leave it for some strong stomached fox to feast on. Sure enough, it was gone this morning. So some fox thinks xmas has come early. I substituted some mackerel, and some anchovies for the chicken, and although not exactly seasonal, it went well with the bowl of ready mix salad I had bought from Tesco the day before. So far, so healthy, but then I had a couple of maple and pecan twists which were obviously very high in sugar. A little later I had one more portion of dessert in the form of a punnet of blueberries.

 Although I shouldn't really have had the maple and pecan twists, it probably wasn't so bad a dinner, and maybe in some ways it was good. This morning I do feel curiously good, but there could be other reasons for that. One simple reason is that it's Thursday, and that means the bulk of the week is now over. Maybe another simple reason is that I checked my bank balance this morning, and I am still solvent - though far from rich. Unless something unexpected comes up, I feel confident that I will still be just in the black at the end of the month.

 Another reason for feeling good, as well as the lack of any major aches and pains (though there are some minor ones), is that I washed my hair last night. It was looking dreadful before I washed it, and now it is all light and fluffy - which is a good insulator in this cold weather. I wasn't sure if I would be able to wash my hair last night. The mains water pressure seemed so low, presumably where it had been turned down to avoid burst water mains in this frosty weather, that I couldn't get any hot water out of my shower head. The back pressure was enough to stop the water heater kicking in. Fortunately, turning on the hot tap on the washbasin was enough to get the water flowing fast enough, and I then had lovely hot water to wash my hair in.

 Having washed my hair I had to get it dry before going to bed. Normal people would use a hair dryer, but I'm not normal in so much as I have had no practice in operating machinery behind my head, and that includes hair driers. So before I went and washed my hair I overhauled the fan heater in my bedroom. For so long now it has been used on just half power, and that meant the second heating element was clogged with dust, and the inlet and outlet grills were not exactly dust free either. After opening it up and removing loads of dust, and giving the motor bearings a drop of oil, it was back to full operational order, and I could get my bedroom up to a decent temperature to let my hair dry naturally. Not bad for a heater that my dad bought before he died in 1968 ! Of course since then it has had it's mains lead, and switches replaced, but it's the original motor, and original heating elements.

 I researched my travel options yesterday. The new Overground service that starts this coming Monday could represent a faster, and possibly cheaper way to work, but there is a snag, and it's a major one ! As far as I can see, services don't start early enough in the morning to get me to work even on time, let alone early when I like to get in. Using the service to go home may still be a possibility though. I did discover that there is an alternative way to work that I may explore sometime later. Once again it may be a little quicker, and maybe be cheaper. It means travelling to Peckham Rye station, just like if I was to use the new Overground service, but getting a normal national rail service to Wimbledon. It does appear to take the scenic route, but suprisingly doesn't seem to take long doing it. From Wimbledon it is just one stop to Earlsfield.

 The big snag with it at the moment is that trains from Wimbledon stop at the platform with no direct staircase at Earlsfield, and that would mean going over the huge temporary footbridge before walking the entire length of the platform to get out. It looks as if they are getting close to reopening the staircase, and the brand new lift, on platforms 2 and 3 at Earlsfield. So maybe I'll have less excuse not to try this new route in a week or two, but I suspect I'll probably end up waiting until we have a little more daylight so I can see, and maybe enjoy, where I am going. It would be nice for it to be a little warmer as well before heading into the unknown.
Wednesday 5th December 2012
07:46 GMT

  There was probably more sunshine than I expected yesterday, but any benefit from that was wiped out by a bitterly cold wind. This morning my outside thermometer said it was 3 C, and not unexpectedly there was frost on most of the cars as I walked to the station. Other than that, it was dry, and I thought I could see some stars through a partly clear sky. So it was a bit of a surprise to realise it was raining when my train arrived at Waterloo East. It was an even bigger surprise when I saw some large wet snowflakes go not quite drifting, but still not quite plunging, past the train window when the train pulled into Clapham Junction.

 At Earlsfield the sleety snow seemed a bit drier, and because the platforms at Earlsfield are up on an embankment, and far more exposed, they were cold enough for some of that snow to settle. Down on the road I was met with a mixture of rain, sleet and snow (but not all at the same time). Some 30 minutes later and it seems to have stopped, but the sky still looks very dark and threatening. I don't think this sleet and snow was forecast to reach quite this far south of London, but maybe it was all a matter of interpretation. If the rest of the forecast is close to being correct then this afternoon should see some sunshine, and then the clear skies will continue overnight to bring a severe frost in the morning !

 I didn't feel that bad after work last night, but I definitely didn't feel like I wanted to go to all the extra effort of doing some shopping in Aldi. So I compromised by getting some stuff from the ever expensive Tesco. I wanted to change my diet a bit, and I most certainly did with the stuff I bought from Tesco. My dinner started with a couple of fish sandwiches, and they were followed by low fat rice pudding with a lot of white grapes in it. It would have been better if the grapes had been a little bit riper, but because they were on their use by date, and had been marked down to half price (hence the reason I bought them), they were probably still at least a day short of perfection.

 Have made what was almost the main course of my dinner a dessert (sweet or pudding) I further pushed the boat out by finishing of with a couple of "cinnamon swirls" and the rest of the grapes. It certainly wasn't what could be called a healthy meal when taking into account the likely amount of calories in it, but it was mostly low fat, the grapes may have added some useful vitamin or mineral, but most importantly it was chilli free ! I think I may have been overdoing the chilli sauces recently, and suffering in various ways from them. Tonight it's possible, though maybe not likely, that I will eat very healthily - at least at first ! I have the ingredients for grilled skinless chicken and mixed salad. I also have stuff that is not quite so wholesome !

 I wanted to do some more laundry last night, but I also wanted to get to bed early. Rather than opting for half measures I went to bed very early. I was in bed very soon after 7pm. I read for maybe half an hour before turning over and going to sleep. I'm not exactly sure when I got to sleep. It was one of those times when you lay there thinking you can't get to sleep, and the next thing you are aware of is waking up after several, or more hours have passed.I feel sure I got a full eight hours sleep last night, and maybe even a little more. I certainly feel fresher for it this morning, and I think my novel dinner last night has contrived to make me feel "not bad" this morning.

 Ah well, it's less than nine months to wait now until the news about Will and Kate's forthcoming sprog will finally dry up. Not being a baby lover makes all the saturation news coverage a bit boring for me. It's quite possibly boring for juvenile boys as well. They have other things on their mind. I still retain some well preserved root stock of juvenile thinking that is proudly sprouting into senile dementia, plus I have  more experience in the ways of the world. Put it all together and you come up with Kate and Wills had sex together, yahoo, wayhey etc etc ad nauseum. Of course what the real immature, or maybe too mature in the wrong ways, mind want to know is, did Kate just lie back and think of England while Wills exercised his little kingmaker ?

 From Monday I have new options available to me. I will be able to get a London Overground train from Peckham Rye to Clapham Junction stations (and of course vice versa). Getting to Peckham Rye station is straightforward, and relatively quick. It is just three stops from Catford station. Although it always knackers me to walk the extra 2 or 3 minutes to Catford station past Catford Bridge station. Changing at Clapham Junction is fairly painless, and with trains every 3 or 4 minutes for the one stop to Earlsfield, there would hardly be any waiting around there.

 I guess I would allow a good 10 minutes to get to Catford station, and then it is just 8 minutes on the train to Peckham Rye. I believe it is 15 minutes on the train from Peckham Rye to Clapham Junction, and maybe another 5 or 6 minutes to get to Earlsfield station. From there its an 8 - 10 minute walk to work. It all sounds as if it could be a quicker way to work, but I lack one vital piece of information - how long I'd have to wait for the train at Peckham Rye. I know it's 4 trains and hour, and so the longest wait possible should be 15 minutes, and that would eat quite deeply into any time advantage of using that route.

 There are other difficulties too. I rather like, and on some days rely on, the fact that there are toilets on the platform at Waterloo East, and if worse comes to worst, as does occasionally happen, there are toilets on Waterloo mainline station too. Perhaps the biggest, some might say "hugest" (some might even know how to spell it), difficulty would in the evening using the new route to come home. At the moment I usually enjoy moderately, or even lightly loaded trains on the way home (it is very rare to even share a double seat). By contrast, the trains from Peckham Rye back to Catford can sometimes be double crush loaded ! I would most definitely not enjoy that !

 One other negative point is that the last train before the morning peak fare period starts is at 06:22 - some 11 minutes before the 06:33 I usually get, and with the extra distance to walk to Catford station, I would probably need to get up even earlier in the morning. I will try and experimental journey or two. Maybe I'll try going home next Monday night by the new route, but maybe not. I'd be far more inclined to experiment when it's dry, warm and during daylight hours, but that could be a long wait !
Tuesday 4th December 2012
08:03 GMT

  It was rather a grey day yesterday, but at least it wasn't very chilly. Reports suggest that the temperature hit 10 C, and while that's not that high, it was a pleasant change to temperatures like we are reverting back to today. It's a fairly clear morning, and the temperature is only a few degrees above freezing. It wasn't quite cold enough for a frost, but it must have been damn close in the early hours. There could be some sunny intervals today, but it is going to stay very chilly with a top temperature of around 6 C. Subsequent days, Friday in particular, may see it get much colder still.

 My patience was finally rewarded when my new camera finally turned up just after midday yesterday. It is pretty much what I expected, and I think I am going to get some good pictures out of it - sometimes ! One particular area where it seems to excell, and it's main attraction for me, is the low level of noise in dark areas of the picture. It is debatable if the x21 optical zoom is good or bad. There is a lot of temptation to use it for those extreme close ups, but the camera really has to be held very steady to avoid motion blur. Ideally it needs to be used on a tripod. I took a few sample shots yesterday, but I'll have to wait until Saturday night's gig to really put it through it's paces.
birds in the treetops
As a demonstration of how good the camera is, this picture is almost useless, but it may help if I explain that I was about 200ft away from the 50ft high tree that this bird, a starling I think, was perching on. I used some railings to steady the camera for this shot.
stained glass window at Waterloo station
This picture of a stained glass window at Waterloo station was not really a test shot. It was just a picture I wanted to take. If a cleaner had not been standing in the way I could have taken the shot face on, but I had to stand off to one side. Someday I'll retake a picture of this bit of railway history.
The Shard by night from Waterloo East station
I had to play about with this picture of The Shard because it came out looking like it was taken in daylight. It was actually practically dark when I took this shot, but the new camera seemed to find far more light than my eyes could. This is very encouraging for when I come to take pictures at dimly lit gigs.
Waterloo East station platform A
This long shot from halway down platform A at Waterloo East station was taken about 5 minutes after the previous one. By then the sky was looking even darker, but still the camera found plenty of blue in it. Once again I processed the picture by making the darker areas even darker so it looks more like it was taken at night. The big clue is the glare around some of the lights which are very overexposed compared to everything else, plus in true daylight the lit up areas of The Shard would hardly be visible.

 So overall my first impressions of my new camera are good, and I think for gigs it is going to be the camera of choice. However I think I'll still be using my last camera, the Canon SX210 IS, quite a lot. For one thing it is pocket sized, and just sort of handy to carry around. My new camera, the Panasonic LZ20, is just too bulky to fit in any pocket except for the voluminous pockets of my, sadly deceased, old Post Office greatcoat. That had huge pockets !

  I felt reasonably good when I got home from work last night. Having my new shiny camera in my sweaty little hands was obviously a boost to morale (even if my hands aren't little, and weren't sweaty in reality), but going home in the dry, and while it wasn't freezing cold was an even better booster. Of course none of that explains why I still felt like eating far too much last night. It's wasn't exactly hunger, but more like an imperative to fatten up and hibernate for the winter - which if I had a handy cave in my back garden would sound like good advice.

 The actual main part of my dinner wasn't so bad, and it was the nibbles before cooking dinner, and then the nibbles while waiting for the TV news to finish, that were what spoiled it. There was one other factor which wasn't so strong, but still a factor - I wanted more stuff that I could pollute with chilli sauces. Well, it all added up to too much, and when I decided I had better wash a few shirts I found it quite uncomfortable to bend over the bath as I washed those shirts. All that food may also have contributed to the difficulty of trying to get comfy in bed last night.

 It took a long time to get to sleep last night, and I didn't seem to sleep that well. I woke up at 4am this morning, and after trying to get back to sleep for half an hour, I got up instead. I didn't feel all that good this morning. The lack of sleep was well demonstrated by my tendency to fall towards sleep while I read my paper on the train to work. All the chilli sauce last night (or the night before) (or both) is having it's special effect on the lower end of my digestive system, and I had to spend a penny 30p in the gents at Waterloo station this morning. On top of that I have a bit of an intermittent headache, and my back, particularly the lower back, is very creaky this morning. The worst of all these problems, with the exception of lack of sleep, are evaporating as the morning progresses.

 Last night I was thinking that I would like to go to Aldi after work. That carries the problem that I would have to go home first to pick up my shopping rucksack, and a couple of bags. Although a problem it is not that bad because to get to Aldi I almost have to pass home, but it is an extra walk, and this morning I got to thinking that I couldn't be bothered with that. I thought it would be easier, even if it is more expensive, to go home via Tesco. Now I am wondering if I should just buy a bottle of Diet Coke from the corner shop, and live out of the freezer (or from cans). I suppose I'll just have to wait and see how I am feeling on my way home from work.
Monday 3rd December 2012
07:59 GMT

  Indoors, with the sun shining into the house, it often felt quite warm, but outside it remained horribly chilly. A big change happened overnight. Warm, by comparison, wet air blew in from somewhere, and it started to rain, and it started to warm up. When I woke up this morning it was raining, and 8 C. When I left to come to work the rain had stopped, and it is possible that the temperature had risen to 9 C. A month or two ago I would have said that was really chilly, but compared to the frosty mornings we have experienced recently it almost felt warm. You wouldn't wan't to stand around in it too long, but while on the move it felt very comfortable.

 I'm not sure if there are fresh raindrops on my office window, or if it has started to rain again, but the rest of today is supposed to be free from rain, and the temperature may rise to 11 C, but it's all just a flash in the pan. From tonight the temperature is going right down again, and some nights this week could see some very low lows.

 It wasn't really my intention to be a lazy slob yesterday afternoon. It was just that there didn't seem to be anything to do, or that I wanted to do. It actually turned out that I wasn't quite as lazy as I thought I was going to be, and I ended up doing two fairly important jobs. The first was to wash a duvet cover. The last time I washed one the weather was just barely good enough to let me hang the duvet outside to allow it to drip freely, and start to dry before bringing it in the finish drying in front of a heater. Yesterday it was just too cold to do that, and I had to arrange a series of bowls underneath the duvet to catch the drips.

 The second thing I did was important in a precautionary sort of way rather than instantly important. After storing it the back room since early in the spring of this year, I finally got around to inspecting a failed fan heater. I had a vague memory of thinking that it might have been unrepairable back in January, or whenever it was that it failed. Once I opened it up I found that it was just the usual problem that afflicts fan heaters (and the more modern they are, the less time it takes them to fail). The bearings in the fan motor had gone dry, and the fan was too stiff to turn. A couple of drops of 3 in 1 oil to each bearing soon had it freed up, and it was running like new again.

 I'm not sure why I left it to 9pm before I got into bed when the last thing I watched on TV finished at 8pm. Maybe I just didn't feel that tired. The funny thing is that although I was starting to yawn a lot, I didn't feel very sleepy, and it was probably around 10pm before I fell asleep. Once asleep I seemed to sleep well, but maybe the amount of fragments of dream I can remember (so fragmentary that there is nothing to describe) suggests that I wasn't sleeping very deeply. This morning, having had a nice hot shower, I felt a very strong urge to go back to bed for more sleep.

 Of course I couldn't go back to bed because I had to come into work. Maybe it was the slightly warmer temperature, or maybe I have recovered more than I want to believe, but it was a fairly comfortable journey to work except for 5 minutes of a very tickly throat soon after I got on the first train. There must be something about the atmosphere of a train because even after being out in the freezing night air on Saturday I didn't cough as much as I did on the train this morning.

 There was one thing that I expected to cause some discomfort, but didn't. It was after eating rather strangely yesterday. I'm not sure how it happened, but instead of eating any of the traditionally named meals, I seemed to have had something more akin to a series of snacks through the day. One contributary factor was the frequent desire I had to test out the chilli sauces that I got on Saturday night. So at some point I "cooked" a pot of instant chicken flavoured noodles, spiced it up with chilli sauce, and then an hour later I would heat up some other small snack sized something or another.

 One of the chilli sauces can be very fierce, and in a way I'm surprised that in itself didn't give me gut ache this morning. Fortunately, and just fir a change, my guts seem very stable this morning. If I had to moan about just one single thing, and I do like moaning on my blog, it's what it's there for sometimes, I would moan that either my right hip, or my right kidney, liver, or onions, seems a bit stiff/sore this morning. It's not bothersome, but it's definitely there.

 My biggest moan of the day doesn't concern my body, although it affects my mind a lot. When I came into work this morning I was convinced my new camera would have been waiting for me, and I would hear tales of how it turned up 24 seconds after I left here on Friday. I feel terribly, terribly upset/outraged/livid/sad/disappointed/cheated/abused/bullied/hungry/insane/mutilated, or something, that my new camera is not here yet ! Now I have to go completely out of character and be terribly patient while waiting for the midday to 1pm parcel delivery time, and hope that it arrives then. What a calamity !!!!
Sunday 2nd December 2012
10:27 GMT

  It was a very cold night last night. I think there was already frost on some cars when I went out at 7.30pm, but at midnight there was definitely a thick frost on all the car roofs. Just as the sky was beginning to brighten I noted a reading of 0.2 C on my outside thermometer. It is now 1.5 C, and with the sun shining brilliantly in a clear blue sky I'm sure it will rise a few more degrees, but it is still going to be a bloody cold day ! Tomorrow could be much worse - it is forecast to rain in the morning, but at least the temperature will rise to an almost useless 10 C.

 It's worth remembering that my outside thermometer is sitting outside the window of the upstairs back bedroom. At ground level, further away from the house, maybe out on the pavement, it will be a good few degrees cooler than the readings I quote.

 Something strange happened yesterday. I wrote a blog that I must have forgotten to save to the "today" page, but fortunately it does appear in the compilation for December. Maybe it was because I was in a rush to get out to go and see Chain playing in The Chatterton Arms pub in Bromley. I wasn't too happy about going out in the freezing cold, and I wasn't too happy about missing my bus by mere seconds, but eventually I got there a lot later than I had intended.

 It was good to get back into the warm, and good to get to somewhere with just about serviceable toilets.  A combination of the cold, and eating lentils did make my bus ride a little uncomfortable (possibly for nearby passengers as well at one point !). To settle things down I had a double scotch as soon as I got there, and that helped a lot. Many pints of Guinness helped too, but didn't really insulate me from the cold when I left to go home again.

 The say that absence makes the heart grow fonder, and after missing the last 3 or 4 gigs, it was wonderful to see another one.  Chain, with Guy Harris on drums, and Dave Etheridge on bass for last nights gig, seemed to play really well last night. One song really standed out. It was their cover of Fleetwood Mac's "The Chain". It must be tricky to play, and doesn't always come out perfect, but last night it sounded better than perfection.
Dave Etheridge on bass
 Here's Dave, maker of Mad-Ass chilli sauces, with his bass guitar.
As requested, he brought along the chilli sauces I had asked for, and that saved me another trip to Croydon.
with dave in the background, here's Jo Corteen
Jo in mid pluck (if you'll excuse the expression !)
Chris Mayer plays a power chord - probably
Chris probably playing a power chord or something.

  After a great evening, and with many pints of Guinness in me, it was time to leave. In theory, all that booze should have left me feeling numb enough to want to stay extra late, and do a bit of roadie work, but in practice I was still feeling a bit delicate. So I said my goodbyes, and departed before all the gear was knocked down. My luck with the buses, or maybe lack of luck, continued, and I missed another bus by 30 seconds or so. Luckily another bus turned up a lot quicker than I anticipated, maybe just 10 minutes later, and didn't hang about on it's way to Catford.

 I wanted some hot food when I got home, and one idea was to put some food in the microwave, but the instant gratification of the chicken shop put paid to that idea :-) Once I was sitting down with my hot food, and with the TV on, I felt slightly drunk for the first time. I found one of the channels was showing the X Files movie - I Want To Believe. I used to watch The X Files when I could, but I can't say I was a fan of the TV series. Some episiodes were good, and some were bad, even boring. I'm not sure about the movie.

 If I was sober it might have been better or worse, and if I was even drunker it might also have been better or worse. Mostly it was just something to watch last night, but Billy Connolly's acting was rather noteworthy for being very good in it. I watched it to the end even though I was falling asleep at the end. I think it was gone 2am when I got to bed, and unsurprisingly I fell asleep almost instantly. I slept well, but woke up far too early after only about 5 hours sleep.

 Fortunately there should be plenty of opportunities to get more sleep today. I might even lay on my bed after I've finished writing, listen to the radio, and possibly fall asleep. I'm still suffering from a slightly tender stomach, and a sore back this morning. Neither is particularly painful, but like an old wound they gently remind you not to do anything to make things worse. So I don't fancy lugging any heavy shopping back from the supermarket. Although there are a few things I want, there is nothing I actually need. So I don't have to go out, and if I don't have to go out then I have no need to get up properly. Maybe I'll wrap a wet flannel around my face, but I don't think I'm going to bother showering today - unless some hitherto unforeseen opportunity arises.

 Although it seems in direct contradiction to my desire to take things easy today, I really ought to steel myself to get some laundry done today. Like the shopping situation, there is nothing that needs to be washed today, but it would be better if I didn't let it accumulate - particularly in these short winter days when I don't feel like doing anything when I get home from work in darkness. Apart from the laundry I reckon I should rejoice in being a complete lazy slob today - after all, it's what God wants on a Sunday (at least according to the God botherers who seem to delight in breaking the sabbath by bothering people as well as God on Sundays).
Saturday 1st December 2012
18:04 GMT

  There was some sunshine yesterday, but it was still a very chilly day with the temperature staying below 6 C all day. Today saw a little less sunshine, but still quite similar to yesterday except there was at least one brief very light shower of rain. The lowest temperature I saw on my thermometer today was 0.9 C just before sunrise, and the highest was around 5 C. Currently it is a rather chilly 3.8 C.

 I felt quite odd yesterday, and I'm not entirely sure why. On the whole, yesterday was not a good day, but it had it's moments. The worst thing was that I had what I can only describe as abdominal pain. I think it was a combination of mild stomach ache, mild back ache, and probably a few internal organs complaining about the weather or something. The main good moment was leaving work early in sunshine - even if it was weak and watery sunshine.

 I was so keen to get out into that sunshine that my patience ran out waiting for my new camera to be delivered. Now I will have to wait until I am back at work on Monday to get my impatient little hands on it. So I set out empty handed to go home via Croydon, and it was there that I was disappointed again - the Mad-Ass stall at Surrey Street market was not there again. The disappointment with that was multiplied by the fact that I had endured an uncomfortable journey feeling like a visit to the toilet would have been nice.

 Fortunately at the end of Surrey Street there is a Wetherspoons pub, and I popped in there for a double scotch, and the use of their toilet. I think the double scotch did more for my guts than the visit to the toilet did. I left there feeling a bit better in some respects, but still wishing I was at home having a lay down in the warm. My journey home was made far worse in some ways by someone eating chicken and chips on the tram. It smelled so nice that I was almost drooling.

 When I got back to Catford, at around 2.30pm, I could resist the temptation of buying some chicken and chips for myself. I bought far too much, and I ended up eating it all. Feeling rather stuffed I went up and lay on my bed. I don't think I fell asleep, but I might have done. After a couple of hours I felt so much better. I treated my chicken and chips as my dinner for the day, but I did have a light supper early in the evening. After that I felt quite good for the rest of the evening. So goos that I neglected to get to bed until after midnight !

 I slept quite well last night, and fortunately I managed to stay sleeping for a couple of hours after the time I normally wake up. It wasn't quite enough, but sufficient for now. Waking so late didn't give me much time to do much this morning, but I managed to do a bit of superficial tidying up before Aleemah came to visit me. She brought the DVD of a movie called Ted for us to watch. I was rather dubious about it at first, but it turned out to be quite entertaining. I'm sure it was probably inspired by the rather good, and British movie, Paul.

 This afternoon I've been quite lazy. There is stuff I could have done, and maybe should have done, but essentially I've done nothing. Right now, apart from writing this, I am getting into the right mood to go out to a gig for the first time in weeks. I must admit that I am not keen going out into the cold and dark, but I know this is going to be one of those occasions where once I am there I will definitely enjoy myself. If that isn't good enough then there is another imperative. I emailed Dave from Mad-Ass, who will be playing bass tonight, and he will be taking some chilli sauces to the gig for me.

 Yesterday morning, while I was waiting for the hours to pass before I could leave work, I took a picture on my phone of the wintery scene in the yard at work. Most of it looks rather dull, but note the blue sky, and the splash of sunshine to the top of the building on the right.
Winter sunshine in Earlsfield 30/11/2012