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My Diary/Blog For the Month of July 2012

Tuesday 31st July 2012
07:39 BST

  I never saw any of the rain that was forecast for yesterday. There were a couple of times when the clouds seemed to be getting worryingly thick, but on the whole it was a bright and sunny day. For all that, the temperature only rose to 21 C. Sometime after dark the clouds got denser again, and at some point it rained leaving everything dripping wet. It had stopped before I left to come to work, and all I experienced on the way here was some very fine mist like rain blowing around when I got off the train at Earlsfield. It remains very cloudy, giving a very gloomy feel to the morning, and at some point I expect there will be more rain. The weather forecast suggests there might be some sunshine at some point today.

 I wasn't exactly full of beans as I made my way home from work last night, but I didn't feel too bad. The journey was straightforward considering all the terrible predictions for chaos on public transport. It is probable that I am lucky that I work and travel the hours that I do. At Waterloo East station there were fleets of people in the lilac or green jackets looking intensely bored because no one seemed lost or bewildered. If they donned khaki, and carried assualt rifles, the station would look just like Hollywood's depiction of East Germany, or Russia 20 - 30 years ago. I'm glad they don't because the look sinister enough as it is.

 Of course I can't be too nasty about these characters because I think my friend Ruby is one of them. I believe she is helping the lost and bewildered around that temple of another of my pet hates, football - Wembly Stadium. Heaven knows what sport is taking place there if it's not football. I don't envy her job, although I could possibly dredge up a little jealosy if Pink Floyd were playing at the place. Rock 'n' roll and sport - miles apart - unless you are a member of Pink Floyd, a drummer as far as I can recall, who is heavily into motor racing - then again grease and petrol fumes are not exactly the same as sweat and linament. I mildly like the former, and detest the latter !

 I did a little reading in bed last night, and that took me past my 9pm deadline for going to sleep. I didn't pass it by much, and when I did turn out the light, I fell asleep almost instantly. Just for a change I slept quite well, and I even managed to go back to sleep for 30 minutes when I woke up 35 minutes early (I lost 5 minutes becuase I had to go to the toilet). I woke up feeling very average - which is an improvement on yesterday, I felt very average when I travelled here to work - which was about the same as yesterday. I feel very average now I am here at work - which is actually worse than yesterday.

 I haven't checked, but my wages should be in my bank account today. Usually they appear in the early hours of the morning. So in theory I should be "rich" now after a very lean end of the month. I had thoughts about trying to arrange a drink after work with my friend Ruby (whose shift shold finish at 3pm today) but I am sure she has lots of sightseeing to do, and until things settle down and get more predictable, I prefer to high tail it out of inner London as quickly as possible in case overcrowding, or something similar causes stations to be shut (reports suggest London Bridge station was exit only for a few hours after 6pm last night). Maybe I meet meet up with friend Kevin, or maybe I'll pop into Tesco to buy a bottle of whisky. The most likely scenario is that I'll go straight home, and just drink diet cola...............but maybe, just for a change,  I'll add some ice cubes to make it seem more exotic :-)
Monday 30th July 2012
07:58 BST

  The morning sunshine didn't last that long yesterday, but it added enough heat to the atmosphere to spark off a few thunderstorms during the afternoon. One seemed particularly violent, but fortunately stayed a mile or so away from me. It still rattled the windows a few times though. Once all that energy was spent the clouds went away, and during the night the temperature dropped to a mere 11 C this morning. Apart from the chill, it is a nice bright sunny morning, and the temperature is already starting to rise to a forecast 23 C. Whether that will trigger more storms remains to be seen, but rain is forecast for later this afternoon.

 I'm not entirely sure what I did yesterday, but I must have done a lot of it because the day didn't seem to last long at all. One minute I was having an early Sunday dinner, and the next I was in bed trying to get to sleep early enough to feel refreshed for another soul destroying day at work.

 I did manage to get to bed at a reasonable time, but it took some time to get to sleep. Even when I did get to sleep I woke up coughing and/or spluttering quite a few times. I definitely have something wrong with me. This cough, whose worst manifestation is at night, has been going on too long. It's either physical, some sort of cancer, or mental, some sort of psychomaniacal brain damaged fear of work. I took a couple of paracetamol before coming to work, and hopefully that will cure it.

 After removing the stake through my heart, and reviving myself with some virgin's blood, I started to feel reasonably well as I travelled to work. When I first woke I felt dreadful, but by the time I got to Waterloo I was feeling uncannily energetic as I walked at full speed while trying to dodge the unholy ghouls in their lilac Olympic helpers jackets, and the sinister looking temporary platform assistants in their green hi visibility jackets. There were so many of these people that it is no wonder that some stations have to restrict entry at times to prevent overcrowding. I saw one little old lady ask one of the people about something, and suddenly it was like wasps around honey. She was buried alive by hordes of helpers anxious to help her. I wonder if she ever got out alive.

 My journey to Waterloo was less than pleasant. For a start I was still trying get my body in fully operational order when the train arrived. To help with overcrowding SouthEastern trains substituted the use class 465 train with a class 376 train. It was a 10 car train instead of an 8 car train, but that still meant less seats available compared to normal. Class 376 trains are more similar to trams than trains. Fortunately, in a very rare move, quite a few people got off at Ladywell, and I was able to get a seat.

 Sitting down on the hard uncomfortable seats of those trains made my journey a little better, but there was still the unpleasantness of loonies on the train. One was an elderly black man who tried to engage several groups of people in tales of his dealings with the Krays and Richardson gangs of the 1960s. It is quite possible that he was brain damaged by a beating he might have got off one or the other gangs.

 The other loony was a young man in the care of his parents. He obviously had some sort of brain damage as he covered his nose and mouth with some sort of partially rolled up thick red material while making noises like an animal in pain (or having sex - as foxes are wont to do). It really was an appalling noise he was making, and I feel sorry for anyone in close proximity while jammed into the Olympic village (which seemed likely to be his destination).

 Once I got off the train at Waterloo East my journey to work improved a lot. I went racing over the link to Waterloo mainline station, and within a few minutes I was heading down the line towards Earlsfield. By the time I reached there the sun had just taken the chill off the air, and it was quite a pleasant walk to work - so much so that I found myself thinking how nice it might have been to go for a stroll through the countryside on such a nice morning.
Sunday 29th July 2012
11:48 BST

  Yesterday was not a bad day. It was warm enough without feeling humid, and it was mostly bright and sunny. Overnight the temperature dropped a lot, and I measured just 13 C at about 4.30am. Since then a lot of sunshine has warmed things up to a pleasant 20 C, but that may be about as warm as it will get. After the sunny start the clouds are getting thicker, and rain is forecast for this afternoon.

 On the whole I think I felt OK yesterday. I didn't quite have enough get up and go to go for a walk, but I did have the energy to do a little bit of laundry, and some more slash and hack gardening. If only I could easily dispose of the debris I could quite get into flattening the jungle that is my back garden. Unfortunately I'll have to be patient and only hack enough down that will fit in the wheelie bin. The trouble with that is that next week, after the bin is emptied, I might not feel quite so keen to do more.

 This morning I popped down the road to Aldi to pick up a few bits and pieces. I bought the usuals, cat food and diet cola, and some nice chicken for dinner today. What I totally forgot to get was some decent tissues. The ones I am using at the moment came from the 99p shop, and they are so thin and delicate that one blow is enough to disintegrate them.

 Apart from forgetting the tissues, I also had another disappointment in there. The last time I shopped in there I noticed that their credit card readers now work with Paywave cards - the type where you just touch the card to the reader. I've had one of those cards for quite a few months now, but have yet to try it. I purposely kept my purchases down so that the total bill would be under 20, and under that figure no PIN number is needed to pay using the card. That has always seemed dangerous to me, but I wanted to try it. Unfortunately my card is a credit card, and Aldi only accept debit cards. So it looks like I'll have to wait until maybe Tesco get new readers.

 I don't think I have any particular plans for today, or to be exact, plans for later this afternoon. The next thing I'll be doing is having a nice Sunday dinner probably followed by a snooze. After that it's anyone's guess what I'll do. With the first spots of rain falling as I write this, it looks like it will be too wet for any outdoor pursuits such as "gardening". So I'll be staying indoors amusing myself in other ways.
Saturday 28th July 2012
10:24 BST

  Most of yesterday was drier than expected. There were occasional showers, but I managed to avoid all of them. The temperature dropped to the low 20s, but it became incredibly humid mid evening, or so it seemed to me. This morning has started much fresher, and although there isn't much in the way of direct sunshine at the moment, it is bright outside. Currently it is 19 C, but by the afternoon I think it will be a few degrees higher. All of today is forecast to be fine, but tomorrow it is supposed to be a fair bit coller, and a lot wetter.

 It wasn't that nice being back at work yesterday. I am convinced it is purely in my head, but I was feeling sort of ill again. It must be a sign of severe mental illness that when, during a meeting, it was announced that the grand clear up, tidy up, and general clear out was due to happen late next week, I just wanted to run away. It certainly put a damper on the day.

 Some of my low feeling were undoubtably due to having a really bad night on Thursday night/Friday morning. This was rather brought home to me soon after I got home from work. After attending to a few things I laid down on my bed and promptly fell into a deep sleep. I woke up almost two hours later feeling dreadful. Even a shower didn't improve matters much. I felt like I wanted to stay in all night, but having said that I was going to the Jo Bangles gig in West Wickham I felt obliged to put in an appearance.

 It might have just been me, but it felt horribly humid as I made my way to West Wickham. It is one of the more convenient venues to get to - it's just a 20 minute ride on a train, and a 10 minute walk at the other end. Getting home is just as convenient except the last train is so early that I have to leave before the gig has finished.

 I turned up at the pub feeling horrible. I was dripping with sweat, and to add to my misery I had a stomach ache. It was a mild one, but it needed two (or was it three ?) trips to the pub toilet. At the end of the first set I decided that I was not enjoying myself enough, and decided to go home. Not only was I not enjoying myself, but it seems that any skills I had in using my camera had vanished ! A few pictures came out reasonably well though.
Jo Bangles band at The Swan in West Wickham
The band - Ravi, Guy, Chris and Jo. Ravi was playing a 5 string bass.
Jo Corteen -lead singer of the Jo Bangles band
 Once I left the pub I began to feel a bit better. The air felt fresher than when I had walked to the pub, and stretching my legs felt good too. I arrived at the station with 18 minutes to wait for what was actually the second to last train. So I only got home 30 minutes earlier than if I had felt well enough to stay. While waiting for the train I couldn't help being amused by one of the signs just outside the station.
This way to the West Wickham Poo :-)
It seems there is a Poo somewhere in West Wickham !
 Even though I had the stomach ache earlier I still felt the need to buy some food on the way home. Apart from some junk I hadn't really eaten after getting home from work earlier. I bought some chicken and chips to eat at home. While I ate I wateched some TV  - being careful to avoid channel one [BBC1] which was showing something I didn't fancy watching. I didn't care too much for what I did watch. One of the ITV channels was showing the James Bond film "Quatum Of Solace". Perhaps it was the mood I was in, but as James Bond films go it seemed rather poor.

 It was 1am when I got to bed, and it was still very stuffy in my bedroom even with the window open onto the far fresher air outside. I just lay on top of my bed, and fell asleep like that. I slept soundly for about 4 hours before waking up. I did get up for about an hour before going back to bed for a few more hours sleep.

 Right now I am not sure how I feel. Sometimes I feel OK, and sometimes I feel like I should go back to bed again. With it being a lot cooler compared to a couple of days ago I should be able to sleep Ok tonight, and I think that rather than going back to bed now I'll try and get an early night tonight. There are probably only two things I want to do today. The first is just a bit of laundry, and the second, which I don't really feel up to doing right now, is a little bit more "gardening". I suspect that the gardening will be either kill or cure.
Friday 27th July 2012
07:55 BST

  Yesterday was another fine summers day. I forget what the top temperature was, but at worst it was only a degree less than the day before. The sun was out all day, but the humidity started to rise, and my hoped for good drying weather didn't happen as well as expected. The higher humidity made it far more unpleasant last night. My bedroom felt hot and sweaty all night. It was still over 25 C in there when I got up this morning, and that was after having the window open all night.

 The temperature had dropped to a refreshing 18.6 C outside when I left to come to work. Before I left I did see a patch of golden sunlight on the roof of the building opposite, but it was rather brief, and by the time I left it was really rather cloudy. I could smell rain in the air, and noticed a few drops on the train windows. When I arrived at Earlsfield station it was obvious that there had been some significant rain, but it didn't rain as I walked to work. The rain was not actually forecast to fall until later this afternoon, but it looks as if more rain could fall this morning. It would be almost funny if there was a torrential downpour with thunder and lightning tonight, and if it fell only in east London it would still be amusing, but not so amusing if it fell on West Wickham tonight.

 It became evident that I did myself very little damage when walking on Wednesday, and possibly I did myself some good. Not having to go to work yesterday was obviously a boost, and more hot sunshine helped too, but beyond that I felt unusually good. I'll admit that initially I felt a bit creaky, but once I got moving I felt fine doing two shopping trips, and two lots of hand laundry. The second bit of laundry involved a couple of towels, and one of them was a small bath towel. They are always a struggle, but it didn't seem that awful at the time.

 In some ways the shopping trips and the laundry would be quite enough for one day, but I went on and did something even worse. Perhaps the sun had gone to my head, but I had an urge to do some jungle clearance in my back garden. Like many of the household things I do, you have to know the before to appreciate the after. It's still a jungle out there, but I think I made quite good progress. If it were easy to dispose of the wreckage I could have gone a lot further, but I'll have to let some off it wilt before I can attempt to stuff it into bags to put in the wheelie bin. It's possibly, though maybe not that likely that I may do some more hacking and slashing on Saturday.

 After all my effort yesterday I expected to feel really tired last night, but somehow I didn't. If I didn't have to come to work today I may well have stayed up a lot later with all the windows open to try and get some fresh air in my bedroom. Instead I attempted to go to sleep at 9pm to give my 8 hours sleep by 5am when I get up for work. It just didn't work, and it was probably closer to 11pm when I first got any proper sleep. I didn't sleep particularly well even then, and at 4am I woke up and couldn't relax enough to get back to sleep for hour before my alarm was due to go off.

 I have a feeling that I'll be feeling more tired today at work than I did after my 7.5 mile walk on Wednesday, or my rampage in the garden yesterday. This is most unfortunate because there's a gig on tonight. Jo bangles (or is it Chain) are playing in The Swan pub in West Wickham tonight, and I definitely want to go, and I want to enjoy myself. It's hard to predict if I will be able to enjoy myself or not. Usually the pub is full of football supporters, and gets very busy. Tonight may be different, or it may be even worse. Hopefully many people will stay at home glued to their google boxes watching events unfold in East London. On the other hand they do have a TV in the pub that probably is used to show football matches. If that is on tonight it is going to completely ruin the gig !

 Apart from events taking place elsewhere, there is one major annoyance about going to a gig at The Swan - the last train back to Catford from West Wickham station (about 10 minutes walk from the pub) is at the unfashionable time of 17 minutes past 11pm. That means I have to leave the gig early or mess about changing buses several times to get home. Tonight that annoyance gets multiplied a thousand fold. Because of those events happening in East London, the last train from Catford to West Wickham is actually at 01:49 in the morning. That train, and the couple that precede it, end their journey one stop further down the line at Hayes (Kent), and then speed back through West Wickham and Catford Bridge out of service. If only they were in service I could theoretically get the last train at about 02:15 in the morning, but evidently the huge bonuses the train drivers are getting don't extend to them being able to do anything actually useful !
Thursday 26th July 2012
07:29 BST

  It's been a long wait, and it may not be lasting long, but summer is defnitely here.  Tuesday was hot and dry, and yesterday may have been even hotter. It was a few degrees cooler on the coast, but it was very warm in London, although I'm not sure if the magic 30 C was hit in Catford. At 6.30pm last night I noted the outside temperature was only 28.5 C. It was a rather hot and steamy night, particularly in my bedroom. This morning it was still 26 C. While outside it is a much fresher feeling 18.5 C. By later this afternoon, after clear skies and strong sunshine, the temperature could hit 30 C plus or minus a degree or two.

 Yesterday didn't go quite as planned. My friend pulled out of coming for a long walk with me, and I wasn't feeling completely up to it, but I gritted my teeth, and set out alone regardless. I went to Winchelsea in Sussex which is near Rye. It's a fairly tedious rail journey that lasts close on to two hours, but I discovered a route that did it in relatively easy stages. First it was a train from Catford to Otford. That takes around 40 minutes. Then there is a 5 or 6 minute wait for a train to Ashford that arrives on the same platform. Finally there is a bit of of a mad dash at Ashford changing from platform 6 to platform 1 for the train to Winchelsea. That last leg takes about 27 minutes. A year, or more ago Winchelsea was only served by a couple of trains a day, but I think there are more now, and my train was one of them.

 It was fairly hot when I stepped off the air conditioned train onto the platform at Winchelsea, and I didn't feel like walking much. It took some time before I got into my stride, but I still wondered if I had the energy to complete what I thought was going to be a rather long walk. I had estimated it to be somewhere near 10 miles, but I hadn't taken into account the actual lay of the land, and how the railway curves one way, and the footpath I was following the last time I went there curves the other way. The end result was that I had actually discovered a short cut that shortened my walk by about a mile.
My route from Winchelsea to Rye
 Referring to the map above, the last time I did this walk I started from Rye station and followed a footpath that ran almost parallel to the A259 Royal Military Road. The route from Winchelsea is mostly boring road walking until a footpath that joins the footpath that I followed the previous time near to the top of Sea Road. With hindsight it is easy to see that the route from Winchelsea is actually shorter than from Rye. Originally I did have the idea of walking more south, and joining the coast somewhere off the bottom of this map. That would have added a few miles to my walk, but also brought about a few potential difficulties. There are a lot of rivers and drain across the area, and it is possible that some of these may have been impassible without walking back inland again. So I probably made a wise decision to take the route that I did.
a swan on one of the rivers near Winchelsea
I was too impatient to stop to take many pictures along my 7.46 mile walk, but I took a few like this view of a swan on one of the numerous rivers/canals/drainage ditches/ponds that criss cross the whole area.
a sheep says hello
A sheep, looking like it might be lambing soon, stopped munching the grass to say hello (or get orf my land !).
slowly drying ponds on the salt flats around Winchelsea and Rye
Nearer the coast there are lots of these shallow ponds gradually drying up in the fierce sun under a clear blue sky.
the endless road across the salt flats of Rye nature reserve
It could almost be a desert road heading off into infinity, but 30 - 40 yards off to the right, over a huge slippery bank of shingle, lies the sea. Under the fierce sun it did feel like walking across the desert. The views is a bit bleak, but it has it's charms.
the beach at Camber sands
At the far end of the road in the picture before lies the river Rother. It is the main channel from the sea to Rye harbour, and is currently being dredged and widened. Across the river lies Camber Sands and a heaving mass of humanity. I prefer the bleakness of the nature reserve, and it's almost deserted beaches.
speedboat on the river Rother in Sussex
The very end of the river Rother, and a semi-rigid inflatable boat heads out into the sea for a spot of fishing.

 As sson as I reached the sea I changed into wet shoes and had a paddle. The tide was out, but coming in, and the sand beyond all the shingle was revealed. Until the incoming tide reached the shingle it made for very pleasant paddling in surprisingly warm water. It wasn't long before the incoming tide forced me to walk with the water up to my knees to pass the end of all the numerous groynes. At that point I decided to retreat to the roadway, change back into dry shoes, and have a few mouthfuls of water (I hadn't drunk anything since leaving home at that point, and I hadn't had anything to eat).

 With my feet dry, and my mouth wet, I started to walk along that endless road towards Rye Harbour. When I reached there my feet were aching, and I was feeling thirsty again. Well, maybe not exactly thirsty, but it seemed like a good excuse to call into a pub for a pint of ale. I had just the one pint, and with my feet still aching, and my legs also starting to complain, I trudged off down the road to catch a train from Rye station.

 I had a 15 - 20 minute wait for a train  before starting the long boring journey home. My legs and feet recovered a lot more than I thought they might during that journey home, and the final walk from the station to home was less painful than I imagined it would be. Once indoors I was in a curious state of superposition in not feeling that hungry yet very keen to eat. It would have been easy to order a big takeaway, and if I had ordered a big chicken kebab, and only ate that, it might have been healthier than what I did eat. The main course was a mackerel salad, but I also had a couple of small ice cream bars, and a couple of caramel wafer bars as well. There was probably something else, but I can't remember what. It added up to far more sugar than is good for more, or at least than I might have preferred te eat.

 I very nearly started writing this last night. I found the energy to look through the photos I had taken, and to edit them for "publication", but at 8.30pm I decided what I wanted more than anything was to lie down. It was steaming hot in my bedroom last night, and if you could have seen my last night you would have been greeted by the sight of me spread eagled naked on top of the duvet. I wasn't spread eagled all night, but I slept on top of the duvet the whole night with the fan on. I woke up once or twice, but on the whole I slept quite well.

 Now It's time to face the day. Like yesterday, I am on holiday from work (but I am back tomorrow for the one day beforfe the weekend). I don't think I'll be going on any long walks today. In fact I probably won't venture further than the local shops, although I may decide to take a wander in the park if I feel up to it later on. The first task is to have a shower, and that could be quite a task ! I got a bit sunburnt again yesterday, and I expect the hot water is going to sting a bit ! Once I am washed, and have cooled down a bit I'll probably do some shopping, and once I've cooled down from that I'll probably do some laundry - maybe a fair bit of it while the weather is excellent for drying it. After that I'll just play it by ear.
Tuesday 24th July 2012
07:48 BST

  Yesterday was more like a summers day should be. It was dry, the sky was blue, the sun was hot and bright, and the temperature ended up around 27 C. Today has started where yesterday left off, but the temperature dropped to 16 C overnight. By the end of today we should see the temperature nudging 30 C ! Either today, or tomorrow could be the hottest day of the year.

 Although I am not suffering from some illness, probably unknown to medical science on human planets, like I was last week, I still didn't feel all that wonderful yesterday. I had a mild, but still annoying, backache, and whatever muscle it might be that runs from the right buttock down to just above the back of the right knee felt stiff and sore. Plus my stupid inability to get a decent nights sleep on Sunday night left me wanting to lie down and snooze. None of these things prevented me doing anything, but it would have been nice to enjoy the sunshine without the discomfort. When I was able I did trying baking some of the uncomfortable parts in the hot sun, and that helped a lot. I guess I just have to dry myself out after all the damp weather we've had.

 It was nice to get home last night so I could relax, but maybe I relaxed a little too much. In my relaxed state I ended up eating far too much. The problem was that I had three close to stale mini French sticks in the fridge. After wasting some in the past I was determined not to just throw them away just because they were a little dry. So I wet two of them under running water and put them in the oven along with the chicken, potato, leek and bacon ready meal that was to be my main meal.

 Re-cooking those rolls worked well. The first I had with some olive oil, tomatoes and some dried basil. It was very tasty. The second, which I may have overcooked, I crumbled into the ready meal (which was like a stew). That worked very well as well. I did have some other stuff, including a bit of ice cream, but it was those two mini French batons (sticks, or whatever they are called) that broke the camels back.

 I was in bed reading very soon after 8pm, and if it were not for a phone call that came through just as I was about to turn off the light, I might have been asleep soon after 8.30pm. In the end I think it was probably around 9.15pm when I dropped off to sleep. I think I slept well until 2.20am when I woke up. It might have been because I heard strange noises from the road outside. When I looked out of the window I saw a couple of men apparently checking all the water stopcocks/water meters down the road. I suppose if they were checking for leaks it was a good time to do it when hardly anyone would be using any water, but I've never seen, or heard, of anything like it before.

 After that I only slept intermittently until nearly 4am. From then on I slept soundly, and if my alarm hadn't sounded at 5am I might even have been asleep now. I remember a bit of one dream from sometime in the night. It was like a microcosm of the real world. In this dream I bumped into Boris Johnson, Mayor of London, in a bar or pub. He promised me that he would buy me a beer, but that beer never came - typical politicians promise !!!

 It's difficult to tell reality from imagination sometimes. No, I don't mean imagining what politicians ought to do compared with what they do in reality. I'm merely talking about how I feel. I don't feel that wonderful this morning. I can attribute some of it to overeating last night, and some of it to getting less than 8 hours beauty sleep, but how much is just the stress of coming to work on a brilliant sunny day when I would prefer a few extra hours in bed, and than a nice walk under the burning sun. Although it should be the case, I don't think it has much to do with work aversion at all. If anything I feel slightly better now I am at work, but that is not terribly unusual.

 So what's wrong? It's nothing very specific. It's very much like how you might feel for the first second after waking up, but stretched to last a few hours. There's the trauma of switching back to reality after what often feels like a far preferable universe to live in. Then there's the difficulty of waking up unused muscles, nerves, eyeballs, and a digestive system that's been in standby for hours. In fact it's like rebooting a tired old Windows PC. It struggles and creaks, and often seems to be teetering on the very brink of the blue screen of death. Eventually the desktop comes up, but it's still a long wait before you can do anything with it, and today that wait seems like it is the longest ever.

 I hope that if I can manage to take a few precautions today, I can wake up, and feel a lot better much faster tomorrow. I'm taking tomorrow, and Thursday off work with the intention of trying to get a bit of exercise in. If all goes to plan I will actually be recovering rather than exercising on Thursday. I've managed to persuade an old mate of mine, who is currently doing an unusual amount of exercise, to come for a long ramble with me tomorrow. Assuming I feel alive enough to tackle it, it is going to be a big one !

 My plan is to head to Winchelsea station, and then walk through Winchelsea towards the sea. At the sea we'll walk towards Rye Harbour, and then into Rye for the train home. The last time I did a similar walk  to this in June 2010 it was 8.75 miles, but my new route, should I survive it, will miss out Camber Castle, but add a good couple of miles to the total distance. It will be a great advantage having a friend with me. By myself I would probably want to finish it as soon as possible, but with a friend we can stop and have a rest half way (if we need it). Maybe I won't get quite so knackered that way.

 Last night I dug out some more old photos. The following four photos are of the band that my old workmate Phil Richards played in. I can't remember the name of the band, or of any of his band mates. I do remember that the gig was in The Greyhound pub near to Sydenham station in SE London. I can't remember the year, but I am sure it would have been 1980 plus or minus a few years. I can't even remember what they played, but I do have a very faint recollection of it being in summer, and the backroom where they played being like a sauna ! Phip Richards is wearing the flat cap.
A band at The Greyhound pub in Sydenham circa 1980
Phil Richards plays the bass in a band whose name escapes me
The Greyhound pub Sydenham in the days when they had gigs on in the back room
Phil Richards and his mate playing in their band
Monday 23rd July 2012
07:53 BST

  Yesterday remained fine, and even when the sun wasn't shining it was still bright. I think the temperature almost made it to 23 C. Clear skies meant the temperature dropped a lot during the night, and it was 14.5 C when I left for work this morning. The sky is a still nice and clear, and it should be a bright sunny day with the temperature heading for 25 or 26 C.

 In a short while, maybe an hours time as I write this, Catford will get a taste of what it's like to live in a police state as the Olympic fag lighter is huffed and puffed from Lewisham to Bromley on the main road that passes through Catford. Barriers will be up to control the herds of people who have been brainwashed into believing they are seeing a good thing. It's very similar to how the North Koreans are taught to love the leader. Hovering in the background will be the thought police ready to haul away anyone whose thoughts are less than enthusiastic, or who didn't wave their plastic union jack hard enough. They will probably be given the fire hose treatment in a disused warehouse until they too worship at the great olympic flame. Luckily I am safe enough here in Earlsfield, and tonight I'll be safe in Catford as the circus passes through Earlsfield. What a lucky escape that was !

 I don't know if installing a fresh copy of Windows XP, and a copy of Linux Mint 13 (Maya) onto a PC counts as worthwhile activity, but that was the most significant thing I did yesterday. I'm guessing that from first booting from the DVD until it was installed, it took about the same amount of time to install Windows and Linux Mint. The difference was that Windows still needs extra drivers to make the graphics work correctly, and drivers to even get the sound to work. Then it will need a couple of service packs installed, as well as countless updates (all needing a reboot every time one is installed). By comparison, Linux Mint correctly identified all the hardware in the PC. Correctly installed all the drivers and update, and come prepackaged with most of the common applications ready to run. Of course it still needs a bit of tweeking to make it look exactly like I want it to look (suspiciously close to a sort bastard hybrid between Windows 2000 and Windows XP), but otherwise it just works. The Windows installation, if I can be bothered to do it, needs many hours of work to get it up to date, and useful programmes installed.

 I had a very healthy sort of meal yesterday. It was probably too late to call it lunch, and too early to call it dinner. It was basically a big bowl of mixed salad with some salmon. I gave the salad a good drizel of sesame oil and balsamic vinegar, and the salmon a good sprinkling of chill from a chilli grinder thing I had bought in Aldi in the morning. If I had left it at that all would have been fine and good, but I also ate an awful lot of junk food yesterday. Some of it, like the ice cream bars, had far too much sugar in it, as well as other undesirables.

 All that crap food has made me feel a bit flabby this morning. I'm wearing different trousers this morning so I can't do a direct comparison, but I would be surprised if my waist has expanded slightly. While all that is bad, there is another worse effect. It made me feeling starving hungry this morning, and although yesterday I had some fanciful idea that I wouldn't eat today until after work, I gave in and bought a chicken tikka (with cabbage and carrot) wrap type thing for breakfast this morning. If I am not careful I will find I am back on the slippery slope again. I need to get back to not eating so I am not hungry. It sounds a paradox, but it works for me.
Sunday 22nd July 2012
11:54 BST

  There were a few times when it looked as if it might rain, but it stayed dry, and quite often sunny too, yesterday. I'm not sure what the top temperature was, but it was more warm than hot. Today has started off very nicely. There are white fluffy clouds in the sky, but most of the time it is sunny. It's currently just over 20 C, and by the end of the afternoon it could easily be three or four degrees higher.

 My enthusiasm for housework ran out after I had done a pile of laundry, and hoovered the living room. It's probably more than I might have imagined I would do a few days earlier. One of the great things about the current spell of weather is that my washing is drying a lot faster than it was when it was all wet and miserable. I was quite amazed that my favourite gig shirt was dry enough by late afternoon to wear.

 On the whole I was feeling rather good yesterday. Maybe I could have wished for more, but compared to last week it was luxury. My stamina waned shortly before I was due to go out to see The Jo Bangles Band play at Chattfest, but once I got moving I got some second wind. They only played a 30 - 40 minute set, with all material drawn from the Chain set rather than anything new, but it was still very enjoyable.

Jo Bangles at Chattfest 2012
drummer for Jo Bangles set at Chattfest
Just like last year (when they played as Chain) they "borrowed" another young looking drummer.
Ravi - a new bass player for Jo Bangles
This is Ravi (if I have spelled his name correctly). He is one of three bass players that Jo Bangles will be using for gigs.
The lovely Jo Bangles aka Jo Corteen
Jo Bangles herself - aka Jo Corteen.
Jo Corteen and Chris Mayer at Chattfest
For some reason I kept losing Chris in the crowd when he wasn't on stage. Wearing a white shirt, instead of his usual black shirt, seemed to make him invisible for some strange reason.
"Hippy" from The Swamp City Shakers
I think this chap is called Hippy. He is the lead singer from the band on after Jo Bangles - The Swamp City Shakers.
The Swamp City Shakers at Chattfest 2012
 Technically, The Swamp City Shakers were very good, with an excellent front man (who probably attracts girls the same way my cat's litter tray attracts flies - not that I'm jealous - much !). The only problem is that I hated everything they did except for one excellent cover of Deep Purple's "Hush".

 After watching The Swamp City Shakers I said my goodbyes and headed for home. It was quite early when I arrived back in Catford. It was a bit before 9pm, and Aldi were still open when I went past. If I had some bags I could almost have done my shopping last night. I did contemplate shopping for some chicken and chips, but decided that what I really wanted was a pizza.

 I'm not sure why I decided I wanted pizza - normally I am not a great fan of them, but last night I wanted a seafood one, and it had to have anchovies on it. I ordered one online together with a few other bits and pieces. I munched that while watching some of the film "Space Cowboys" on one of the Freeview channels. It was the only thing worth watching - pretty poor for a Saturday night. After that I went to bed. It must have been a little before 11pm, and I fell asleep almost instantly.

 I slept quite well, but did wake up once in the small hours with a frog in my throat that took some effort to clear. I then woke up again at around my normal weekday time of 5am. It was then that I made a fatal mistake - I started thinking - and from then on I couldn't shut my brain down again, and sice then I have had very little sleep. Maybe I'll make up for it sometime this afternoon.

 I wasn't feeling that wonderful this morning. As well as feeling cheated of sleep, I also had a bit of a stomach ache. It was very mild, but annoying. I blame it on the pizza for no other reason than that I can. Nevertheless, I felt OK to go out to Aldi to get my shopping at 11am (their opening time on a Sunday). I bought loads of crap, and the total load was mighty heavy ! I had a big bag of cat litter, three two litre bottles of diet cola, four bottles of pear and strawberry cider, and other weighty stuff.

 I felt exhausted by the time I had lugged that lot home. With the weather being rather excellent today it would have been nice to go for a ramble in the country, but what with the mild stomach ache, and my exhausting shopping trip, I can't see that happening now. Maybe if my stomach hadn't felt volatile I might have gone out a lot earlier, and done my shopping later today. Now I think I am going to have a lazy afternoon, and if I can add a bit more sleep to my repetoire it might not be such a bad idea.

 There was on other thing I did last night while waiting for my pizza delivery, and that was digging out an old photo to scan into my computer.
Colin Bartliff and Phil Richards practising guitar in approx 1982
 There was a musician at Chattfest who reminded me of the person on the right of the above picture - although having checked the picture I am not sure what the resemblance was. These two guys are Colin Bartliff (left) and Phil Richards (right) and I used to work with them in Rushey Green telephone exchange back in the 1980s. As far as I am aware Colin was never in a band, but Phil was briefly. I wonder if they still play their guitars, and play in any bands.
Saturday 21st July 2012
08:27 BST

  It did get pretty wet yesterday, but only after some sunshine, and a few passing light showers. I was halfway between London Bridge and Catford Bridge, on my way home from work, when the heavens opened. The rain was so heavy for a time that I could barely see 10ft outside the train windows. It was slightly lighter when I walked from the station to home, but quite enough to soak through my light hooded jacket (which used to be fairly waterproof). I arrived home rather damp, but not nearly so damp as Smudge who had unwisely decided to stay out yesterday.

 After that heavy rain the sky began to clear quite fast, and it wasn't long before the sun was shining again. It has started out bright and sunny this morning, but there are still a lot of clouds in the sky. The forecast suggests that it will stay dry today, and stay bright, but undiffused sunshine might be in short supply.  It's currently 15.4 C outside, but with luck the temperature will rise to at least 20 C today, and with even more luck a degree or two higher than that.

 Although all the symptoms of my recent cold have all but gone, the earlier effects of them caused me a lot of loss of sleep during the week, and I felt desperately tired at work yesterday. It was a huge relief to get home. Of course once I was at home, and could just laze around, the fatigue I felt mostly melted away - but not completely. So I made sure I was in bed relatively early. I read for a while, but I am sure I turned the light off, and was fast asleep some time before 9pm.

 I slept quite well last night, and only woke up briefly a couple of times. That was good, but the best bit was being able to go back to bed again after waking up at 4.30am. I did get up for a very short while to say hello to Smudge, and to feed her. After attending to her needs, and my own, I got back into bed, and before I knew it another couple of hours had passed. I'm not sure if I might even go back to bed soon and try for a bit more sleep, but for the moment I feel less tired than I have been all the past week.

 I think I feel well enough to do some housework this morning. I have a pile of shirts, and other stuff to hand launder. That won't be too taxing, but the real test of just how fit I feel will come when I get the hoover out. I don't know why I feel about it the way I do, but it always seems like hard work to me - hence why I do so little of it ! I feel like I would like to do quite a lot today, maybe including, horror of horrors, the stairs ! Reality may turn out to be completely different though........

 Apart from housework I have a little shopping to do. I am wondering if I can find a picture frame similar to the one that my birthday present of a framed copy of the Led Zepplin album came in. That present gives me an idea for a present for someone whose birthday comes up soon. I think I might find that picture frame in Poundstretcher, but if not there could be other places in the high street that I might try. Among them could be the 99p shop, and I want to go in there anyway.

 The highlight of today will be a gig. Jo Bangles is playing at Chattfest at 6.30pm. Chattfest is a charity event held in The Chatterton Arms pubs in aid of cancer charities. Admission is 10. That's a lot to pay just for the one performance I want to see, but some of the other bands might be worth seeing, and it's all in a good cause.

  I found a picture on my phone that I took at the beginning of the month, and then promply forgot about it.

cherry pickers outside Waterloo station
I don't think I have ever seen a cherry picker convention before.
These cherry pickers, standing around like brooding dinosaurs, were outside Waterloo station where they are probably used every night during all the renovation/construction work that is currently going on there.
health and safety information








On to health and safety matters.

 We've just been issued a new loose leaf booklet of health and safety card to be stored with all our "dangerous" chemicals that are used at work.

 Quite how some of the contradictory messages in them are supposed to help anyone is anyone's guess.

 Take this one on the left. This synthetic lubricant is not regarded as hazardous under current legislation, but there are strict instructions to avoid contaminating, amongst others, aquatic enviroments because...........it's not toxic to aquatic organisms, and is easily biodegradeable !



Hmmmmmm !









health and safety information







 Then there is anti-static foam cleaner.

 It is not regarded as a health or enviromental hazard under current legislation, but nevertheless there is this rather meaningless warning attached to it - "get medical attention if any discomfort continues". What discomfort ? Aching feet ? Tennis elbow ?

 I would be far happier, and feel a lot safer, if our health and safety team knew what they were talking about.

 I feel sure that the correct hazard is that the product contains soap, and may be very slightly caustic too. That soap will wash essential oils from the skin causing dryness, and potentially lead on to varieties of dermatitus. That is the discomfort the hazard tries to warn of, but fails miserably.

 There are similar issues for other cards, and of course Isoclene (trade name) and IPA (Isopropyl Alchol - chemical name) still get their own cards despite being the same thing !
Friday 20th July 2012
08:13 BST

  I'm sure it rained yesterday, but I can't remember when. What I do remember is that by the time I left work the clouds had thinned right out again, and the sun was shining. I think it was 22 C when I arrived home, and that was higher than forecast. This morning the temperature had dropped to just a bit under 16 C and the sky was bright but cloudy. It felt like the start of a fine day, and maybe today will be fine. The pessimistic view of the weather forecast says it will be cooler than yesterday, and that there will be a few more passing showers.

 I felt really tired when I got home from work last night. During the day there was more than one occasion when I fell fast asleep at my desk. The bad nights I've been having are really taking their toll on me. During the all too brief evening I hardly coughed at all, but as soon as I got into bed at the unfashionable hour of about 7.45pm, and lay down, my throat developed an unquenchable tickle, and I ended up coughing so hard I couldn't get to sleep.

 When I finally managed to get to sleep properly I only slept for something like 4 hours before I started to wake up frequently to clear my throat. I look forward to tonight when I can have a couple of drinks to help me get to sleep, and I look forward to tomorrow morning when I can go back to bed if I feel I need more sleep (which is almost inevitable).

 In the all too brief time between getting home, and going to bed, I managed to achieve a couple of chores. I went home via Tesco and bought lots of lovely food - which I ate far too much of. Which in turn might have made getting to sleep harder. More importantly I emptied Smudge's litter tray. Finally I edited up a couple of pictures from Wednesday night's gig in The Catford Ram.
Jo Corteen singing Black Velvet
In the above picture Jo is singing "Black Velvet" which is about Elvis Presley.
Is it possible that a hint of Elvis's ghost is almost making Jo's lip curl in his trademark style ?
Dave - one of three bass players that Jo Bangles uses
This is Dave - one of three bass players that Jo can choose from in her band.
Matt Sharp in agony as he plays the drums
It looks like Matt Sharp is in agony as he gives it his all while playing drums.
Chris Mayer in rock start pose
If I ever learn to play guitar in a competent manner, and move on to electric guitar, I guess I'll have to learn this pose !
(The pose that Chris Mayer on the right is pulling, and not that of Jo Corteen on the left).

 I think my main task for today is to try and not fall asleep here at work. Well, not too much, or for too long. Once I get home from work my main task is to do whatever I please ! I was considering getting a nice takeaway for tonight, but I think my bank account is getting too low for such luxuries. What's more likely is that I'll stay up a bit later tonight to allow myself time to down some booze - not too much, but enough to get me off to sleep quickly enough that I forget to keep myself awake coughing. With the cough being the final remaining symptom of the my recent cold, and even that getting better day by day, is it too much to hope that I'll get a full 8 hours of decent sleeptonight ? I hope I do get that, and preferably even more because if I choose it to be, tomorrow could potentially be a busy day.
Thursday 19th July 2012
08:20 BST

  There was a little bit of sunshine a lot earlier than predicted yesterday. The only problem was that early sunshine was also accompanied by rain ! The rain was very light, but there was more of it during the day than predicted, and there was some slightly heavier rain just before it was supposed to get bright and sunny in the evening. It might have been a little late, but in the last hour or two before sunset there were clear skies and sunshine.

 With few clouds in the sky I would have expected the temperature to drop a lot, but this morning started out at 15 C. That's below warm, but acceptable for early morning. It's a nice bright morning with a few white fluffy clouds scudding across the blue sky. Some rain is forecast for around the middle of today, but apart from that it is supposed to a fairly good day today.

 There were a few times when I felt dreadfully tired at work yesterday, but overall I felt better than the day before. I wasn't quite sure if I would have the energy to enjoy going out last night, but the siren call of beer and music was too strong to resist. It was a bit of a rush to get myself together, but I was out again about 45 minutes after getting home from work. I could have got out even earlier if I didn't have to help a sparrow to get out of my kitchen.

 It was a bit of a shock to walk into the kitchen and have a sparrow fly at you. The mind is just not prepared for such an unusual happening ! My first thought, having realised what was going on, was that Smudge had brought the bird in, but dismissed that idea after considering that Smudge was in the living room. I am sure if she knew a bird was flying around the kitchen she would have been there to watch. I now think that the bird just flew in the open door for some reason. Like a wasp, of bee, it was trying to get out through the closed window - a window that I very rarely open. Once open it flew away none the worse for wear. Even better than that was that it hadn't left any droppings behind in my kitchen.

 It was a good gig last night even if it was spoiled a bit by the air conditioner being turned on far too late to stop it being like a suana in there when I first arrived at the pub. After a while it cooled down, but all the changing temperature and humidity meant that the band had to stop and retune their guitars quite frequently. I took my usual pile of photos, and some video of the band. I was far too tired to even review what I took last night, but I may have time tonight to get a couple of pictures together for tomorrow. There is one in particular that I want to show. It's a close up of Jo as she is singing "Black Velvet". The song has something to do with Elvis Presely, and my photo shows the ghost of him coming through Jo. She has a small, but definite curl of the lip (which I think was one of Elvis's trademarks - I don't really know because I am his number one anti-fan - I hate him and his music !).

 At the end of the gig I was feeling rather bold after being fortified with many pints of Guinness, and I asked Jo if she was brave enough to let me show off the very few things I have learnt about playing my guitar. She was only to pleased to let me ake a fool of myself, and yet the funny thing was that it was either the Guinness, or it was Jo's guitar, but I found it easier to form and play the three chords I can usually get right some of the time. On the very first go I transposed two fingers, but got it right second time, and got the other two chords right first time.

 I think that Jo, Chris, Matt and Dave, because they were all watching, were far too generous in praising my efforts. To me, going from being able to play three different chords seems miles away from being able to play the guitar, but they all say it's a good start, and predict wonderful things after more practice. Maybe, but even if, as was pointed out, there are some pop songs that only use three chords from beginning to end, it still seems a huge hurdle to actually be able to form those chords correctly in an instant, one after another. I won't be giving up the day job just yet :-)

 I think I may have just made it to bed by 10pm last night, and if I didn't it wasn't much later than that. It was more to do with booze and extreme tiredness, but I seemed to sleep well last night. I know I woke up a few times, but most times it was probably just for a few seconds, except for one time around 3am when I was in such discomfort that I took a couple of Ibuprofen tablets. They must have tamed my hangover enough that when I was woken up by my alarm at 5am if was not in too much pain.

 I don't know how I'll be feeling at the end of the (working) day, but this morning I don't feel bad at all - apart from an increasingly mild hangover. The hangover, being self inflicted, does not really count in the great scheme of things, and it is by discounting it that I conclude I feel pretty good right now. My cough did try and kick off twice on the journey into work, but on both occasions I got it back under control reasonably quickly. I think I might even be relatively fit and well for the weekend - which could be a good one !

 Tonight I think I have three priorities. The first is to buy some wholesome food, and some diet cola, on the way home from work. Next is to empty Smudge's smelly litter tray, and finally to try and get to bed as early as possible. If I have any time left I'll review and edit some of the pictures I took last night.
Wednesday 18th July 2012
08:56 BST

  If only it had been May instead of July I could have described yesterday as being a nice day. It was mostly bright and sunny, and it was warm, but for July it should have been hot ! Today could be quite interesting. It seems we are going to have a bit of everything except snow. So far it has been dull, but there are hints that it could brighten up. At some point today there could be a light shower or two. Then, an hour or two before sunset it is forecast to be bright and sunny. With such a long wait for sunshine it is not going to be much better than "warm" today.

 I didn't feel all that bad at work yesterday. At least on average I didn't, but there were a few times when I felt quite rough. When it became time to go home I found that I lacked the energy I had in the morning, but otherwise I felt reasonably comfortable. Of course I was cheered by looking forward to seeing Patricia. She turned up at my place a little after 6pm, and had a pile of freshly washed bed linen for me. I am eternally grateful for Patricia doing the laundry I can't manage to hand wash - duvet covers in particular. In return I handed over her partners laptop all working again plus a bonus. The bonus was a spare battery for the laptop. It was the one out of Patricia's son's laptop that she had brought to me for repair some months ago. My diagnosis was that it had been involved in a lightning strike that had destroyed practically everything, and the battery was about the only thing still in working order.

 Patricia left a little after 7pm. I'm not sure if I was actually hungry at that time, but I certainly felt like I wanted something to eat. In one of the few indications that I am starting to get over this illness that has made the last week so unpleasant, I managed to resist the idea cooking something big and tasty. Instead I drained a bottle of pears in (alleged) non sweetened fruit juice, and had those as a sort of snack. By 8pm I felt like I was ready for bed, and a few minutes later I was in bed. I read for a while, but before 9pm I was fast asleep.

 Once again, I slept really well for the first 4 hours, and then slept really badly. I woke so many times from then on that I have lost track of times, but I think it was around 2.30am when I woke up in a puddle of sweat. I hadn't been aware of being feverish before, or after, but something caused my to drench the bed with sweat. It must have done me some good because my last bit of sleep almost took me up to when my alarm goes off at 5am.

 There was something different about the way I woke up for the last time. My neck was just as stiff, my head felt just as thick and throbbing, and my throat was tickly, but there was something indescribable that felt good. Perhaps one of the first hints that today might be different was that I threw off the affects of sleep rather quicker than has been the case since I went down with whatever it is I went down with. The downside to that was the reviving affect of a hot shower was a bit muted.

 The best improvement came a bit later. I managed to go all the way from Catford Bridge to London Bridge without coughing myself purple like I did yesterday. I thought I might lose it all again on the train from Waterloo to Earlsfield, but the one severe bout of coughing did not last that long, and like on the first train, all the other times I coughed were neither prolongued nor severe. I think that I will soon be over this illness.

 My main problem now is one of tiredness. Last night I almost fell asleep on the train and could have easily slept right through Catford. This morning I have come withing a gnats whisker of falling asleep while writing these very words. I stopped to think for a second, and as I did my eyes closed, and I could feel myself drawn toward a far off place. In theory I would be looking forward to a nice early night tonight, and the hope that I may wake up a lot less in the night. I don't think I'll be in bed early tonight, but there is a good chance I'll sleep well when I get there.

 Tonight I take the last part of the cure (or something). Chain are playing in The Catfod Ram, and tired or not tired, I'll be there to enjoy some great music, and drink multiple pints of Guinness. It's the Guinness that should cure me, and if it doesn't it just proves I haven't drunk enough ! It should certainly quieten me down for a lot of the night. Maybe getting to bed an hour late will be more than offset by better quality sleep. Time will tell :-)
Tuesday 17th July 2012
07:52 BST

  It didn't get terribly wet yesterday, but the light drizzle that started in the morning continued on and off until the afternoon. Once or twice it tried to get a bit harder, but often it was more like a fine mist. It stayed dull outside until sunset, but this morning it is bright and sunny. It must have been quite late into the early hours that the sky cleared because the temperature stayed up to 15 C. Although there is a chance of a shower today, it is forecast to be mostly bright and sunny. It is going to get warm too - by the standards for mid May - but a not terribly impressive 22 - 23 C for mid July.

 I felt less bad than I was expecting to yesterday. Some of the time I felt reasonably OK, and at other times I felt awful. On average it was better than expected. I didn't feel particularly energetic when I went home after work, but nor did I feel particularly knackered. For much of the evening I didn't feel too bad, and I didn't seem to have too much trouble getting to sleep at around 9pm.

 Initially I slept well, but by 1am, or thereabouts, I started on a cycle of waking up with my nose bunged up, and my throat itching like crazy, and not getting back to sleep again for 15 - 20 minutes. I'm not sure how many times I woke like that, but it certainly cut down a lot of sleeping time. When I woke for the last time I didn't feel quite as bad as the morning before. I felt good enough to wash my hair, as well as having a good shower.

 There is no way I could say I was feeling well after my shower, but by comparison to recently I felt quite good. It didn't last long ! My forehead felt a bit sweaty after the hot shower, and it didn't completely dry up after walking in the cool air to the station. Once I got on a warm and humid feeling train the whole upper part of my body started to sweat, and my throat, which had mostly been behaving itself, got ultra tickly. It felt like I coughed all the way to London Bridge where I got off to get some fresh air, and my shirt was soaking with sweat.

 I only had to wait a couple of minutes for another train at London Bridge, and that gave me just enough time to get over the worst of it. It would seem paradoxical, but at Waterloo I seemed to sweat less, and cough far less while pushing myself fairly hard walking from Waterloo East to Waterloo mainline stations. Maybe that extra bit of effort meant I felt more comfortable when I got on the train at Waterloo, or maybe the carriage was a bit fresher inside.

 Eventually I started to cough quite a lot on that train as it neared Earlsfield, and then once again, as I walked from the station to work I stopped coughing again. Here at work I am not coughing to any great extent, but all the coughing on the trains has left my throat feeling red raw again. I wonder if I am allergic to trains ? Apart from the sore throat, and something like a tension headache, I don't feel bad at all right now. If I continue like this I might be getting my first good night's sleep for about a week tonight. I might even feel something close to well in the morning, and maybe, although this is a very long shot, I might be able to travel to work tomorrow morning without upsetting my fellow passengers on the train !

 Tonight any combination of three things could happen. The first is that I hope to see Patricia. She should be bringing my laundry over, and picking up the laptop I fixed for her partner. The second is that I really don't do much, and go to bed early. The last sounds all good and fine, but is totally pie in the sky. It would be to sit down and concentrate really, exceptionally, hard, and try to learn something similar to a bit of song on my guitar. The reason for doing it, if it were possible, is that Chain are playing in The Catford Ram tomorrow night, and it would be nice to demonstrate to Jo that I have been serious about trying to teach myself guitar. I was even thinking about taking my guitar to the pub and trying to cadge a 5 minute guitar lesson from Jo. Maybe I won't go that far this time, but I think I will be asking her to demonstrate a couple of things to me on her guitar.
Monday 16th July 2012
08:17 BST

  The sun did manage to break through one more time yesterday afternoon, but it didn't last long. It stayed dry until sometime after dark, and was dry again, apart from the puddles, when I set out to come to work. There is supposed to be a lot of light rain today, and in the last 10 minutes I have seen a few drops hitting my office window. If it stays no worse than this it will be almost forgiveable.

 I am unsure why this illness I am suffering from is having such a great effect on my appetite. Late yesterday afternoon I had to almost force myself to eat the lamb rogon jhosh that I had cooked. It seemed like a good idea to put it in the oven to cook, but not such a good idea when it was ready to eat. It was far less of a problem once I started to eat it. Once I got the flavour I enjoyed it, and had no complaints about eating it afterwards.

 I made a strong attempt at an early night last night....and failed. I did manage to get ready for bed nice and early, but I just couldn't persuade myself that I was tired. Like the previous night, I was feeling warm and sticky, and that made it hard to relax. After a while I briefly got up and briefly played with my guitar (although for some reason I can't remember just what it was I was so keen to try). Eventually I got to sleep, and at 9.30pm was wasn't disasterously late, although I had been aiming for at least an hour earlier than that.

 I slept quite poorly, and woke many times in the night. At just before 4.30am I gave up, and got up. I felt pretty awful so I had a couple of paracetamol tablets before I even went to the toilet. After a bit I started feeling less like death, and a hot shower helped a bit too. While these things helped, they were very far from a cure. I think that if I were a normal sort of person I would have gone to see a doctor rather than come in to work.

 My journey to work was most unpleasant. I must have looked like a plague victim as the sweat poured off me while convulsed with coughing. Both my head and the front of my shirt were dripping wet by the time I got to Waterloo. All that coughing did little for my throat either. Even now it feels red raw. With all these aches and pains, and general unpleasantness going on in the top of my body, you might think the bottom of my body might also be affected, but it wasn't so. My legs seemed to be really fighting fit this morning. Going up the long temporary footbrdge at Earlsfield station seemed unusually easy this morning. It is even more peculiar when I think that my lungs are shot to pieces, and yet there were several instances where I worked my legs quite hard without seeming to need to breathe heavier. Perhaps all the coughing is hyper-oxygenating my blood.

 Now I am work I feel relieved the journey is over, and I may not feel as bad as I expected to, but I definitely don't feel good. I am hoping that I will begin to feel better as the day progresses, although I am expecting there will be times when I would really like to have a quiet lie down, and maybe a snooze too. It is fairly important that I feel a hell of a lot better by Wednesday evening. There's a gig on in The Catford Ram, and although I could probably make it to that place even if I were at Death's door, it would be far more enjoyable if I didn't feel so rough.

 There is something that could actually be considerably less enjoyable even when in perfect health. A flyer came through my letter box yesterday. It advertises a summer fete in the park near home. This fete includes all the usual scummy stiff for scummy young kids, face painting, bouncy castles, and other urine soaked stuff, but it also includes live music. There is no indication of exactly what the live music might be. From the locality, and how much the local council want to promote (very lop sided) racial equality, steel drum bands, and some horrendous hip-hop/rap act might be a good guess. Then the eye wanders down the flyer and see that it is not promoted by the council, as it has in the past, but by the local 7th Day Adventist Church ! Somehow I can see any of the live music acts even doing a rap cover of the Rolling Stones "Sympathy For The Devil" - which is a great shame. If there really was a God he could teach me to play guitar, and to sing in tune, and remember all the words by next Sunday. Then I could pick up my guitar and go and sing to those God botherers. Err maybe that is why I have been damned to be tone deaf all my life. Oh well, never mind :-)
Sunday 15th July 2012
13:56 BST

  I don't really know what the weather was like yesterday evening, but I know what it felt like. It felt warm and humid, but I'm sure I can blame that on my illness. This morning started bright, and often sunny.It's been dry all day so far, but the clouds seems to be thickening up now, and we've lost all the sunshine.

 I felt tired, but also restless yesterday evening. I wanted to go to bed and sleep quite early on, but what I wanted, and what my body was prepared to do was somewhat different. One problem is that I kept getting what I can only describe as hot flushes. It was about 21 C in my bedroom, and 18 C outside when I tried to go to sleep. They were not excessive temperatures but I felt incredibly sticky as I thrashed around trying to keep bits of me under the duvet, and totally failing to do so.

 It must have been around 10pm when I decided I needed a diversion, and I did something I should have done some time ago........although maybe not in quite the fashion that I did it. The one thing my guitar didn't come with was a strap, and every time I did my little practice sessions, all of 5 minutes at a time, I had to support the guitar while at the same time trying to persuade the fingers on my left hand to take up unnatural feeling positions to form chords. Last night I decided that I could make a strap using two old trouser belts. This I did, and while the result may lack the elegance of something bought from a shop, it works well, and doesn't look that inelegant.

 I don't know what time it was when I finally fell asleep, but once I was asleep I seemed, or at least as far as I can remember, had some reasonable sleep until 3am. I must have been at the height of a fever whan I woke up then. As soon as I pulled the duver back I started to violently shiver. It was so bad that I could hardly walk to the toilet, and once there I could hardly do what I needed to do. It was a huge relief to get back to bed, and unlike when I first tried to get to sleep, to wrap the duvet tightly round myself.

 I slept for a few more hours, and when I awoke again it felt cool, but not the icy cold of 3am. I didn't feel that great, but I fed Smudge, and replied to a comment on my Myspace page about guitar playing. I also took a couple of paracetamol tablets. They seemed to help a lot because I went back to bed again, and had the best couple of hours sleep of the night. I woke up feeling slightly groggy, but a hot shower got me feeling a lot better.

 Feeling a lot better was not the same as feeling good, but it was good enough to motivate me to go to the computer fair today - or it was until I checked the times of the trains...
No trains from Catford Bridge until this evening
 Getting to the computer should have involved 4 easy stages. Walk to the station. Travel for 9 minutes on the train to Elmers End station. Cross over the footbridge, and travel for 5 to 10 minutes on the Croydon Tramlink, and then walk for 10 - 15 minutes to the venue. Without the train it would mean lots of mucking around on buses, and I just didn't feel like I had the patience for that.So I've stayed in today (and I've probably saved a lot of money for more important things than "toys").

 I wonder how I am going to fare at work tomorrow. Sometimes I feel OK, and sometimes I don't. The most significant thing is that I am evidently still suffering from rather variable body temperature - though I must admit I haven't actually taken my temperature, but sometimes I feel hot, and at other times I feel cool - cool enough to put the heater on - which is rather ridiculous for mid July.

 A far less significant thing, because it is not a distressing symptom, is that my appetite is still all over the place. Often I am not hungry at all, but when I do get the urge to eat I only fancy a snack rather than a meal. Yesterday I cooked a pack of barbecue flavoured chicken thighs and drumsticks. If I were feeling normal I would almost consider them a snack in their own right. Having cooked them I found I only wanted a couple. I gave a couple to Smudge, and had the last of them cold this morning.

 Sitting in my fridge I have a couple of Tesco lamb rogan jhosh ready meals that I know to be quite delicious, and because they are not frozen they ought to be eaten soon, but as delicious as they are I can't seem to raise the enthusiasm to cook them.  It may be a very odd sort of metrology, but on such measurements I judge myself to be still quite ill. While I am at home where I can open the window, or turn the heating on as required, or lay down, and maybe snooze if I want to, I feel quite comfortable on the whole, but unless I mend far faster than current progress suggests, it is going to be rather unpleasant at work tomorrow.

 Is it going to be bad enough to break a habit of a lifetime and go and see my doctor, and maybe get a ticket for a few more days off work ? Probably not, because it is never that easy, or so my predujices would make me believe. If it was as simple as going for a brief examination, and the doctors saying "yes, your dying, but take a couple of aspirins and a week off work, and come back and see me if you're still alive in a fortnight" I would go for it, but bloody doctors just can't resist fussing around. It would all be "your blood pressure is too high, your blood sugar is too high, you have water on the knee, jittery elbows, pulsating thighs, hard pad, foot and mouth, yellow tongue, dengue fever, and you smoke too much. Take this crate of pills every day, and twice on Sunday, and avoid women of ill repute".

 Sometimes I feel I would get more satisfaction if I booked myself into a visit to the vets ! I really don't care what I might die of in the future. I am only concerned about now ! Either a doctor can help mend what I am suffering from now, or he can give me the facility to let my body repair itself - which it can given time ! Hmmmmm, maybe I'll come back when the medical profession can cure the comon cold without using too many leeches. For the common cold, with a few aggravating circumstances, is probably all I'm suffering from.

 Among those aggravating circumstances there is the weather, and doctors have been a spectacular failure in trying to cure that. The statistics on my fag packets say I must have cancer, but I'll deny that until my dying day, and probably beyond it too. Then there is self delusion. Oh I suffer a lot of that. It takes all shapes and sizes, and definitely includes the idea that it is probably better to suffer from cancer than be cured of it. The very idea of the glee in a doctors eye when he has a chance to really get his talons in you, and play with you like a cat plays with a mouse, really makes my eyes water !
Saturday 14th July 2012
16:18 BST

  Yesterday continued the theme of sun and showers that seems so wrong for July. Most of the sun was in the morning, and the showers got progressively heavier from afternoon and into the night. This morning started off almost bright, but it didn't take long until it was dull and wet. It is tempting to think that it might be starting to get a little brighter now, but I doubt it will come to anything, although tomorrow is forecast to be mostly sunny. The current temperature is almost 18 C, and that doesn't feel significantly different to how the day started.

 After all the sleep I got Thursday night/Friday morning I had expected to feel a lot better, and in some ways I did. For much of the day I was very comfortable just pottering around, but by late afternoon, maybe early evening, I felt like I was flagging.  I did think that I might go out to the 99p shop, and probably pop across the road for a couple of beers with Kevin, but in the end I didn't really fancy going out.

 What would have been ideal would be to have had another extra early night, but I didn't feel the right sort of tiredness for that. Instead I stayed up slightly late writing a long email. I finally got to bed at around 10pm, or perhaps a little bit later. Once in bed sleep did not come easy, and once asleep I didn't sleep well. At 4am this morning I gave up trying to stay asleep, and amused myself on the internet for a couple of hours before trying for more sleep. It helped, but wasn't particularly successful.

 Today I feel on the cusp of being well again. Sometimes I feel quite good, and sometimes, like right now, I feel a bit rough. This morning I felt fine going out to Aldi to buy some stuff, and I didn't feel that bad after lugging a load of stuff home. Half an hour later I went out again to visit the cash machine, and get some stuff from the 99p shop. Halfway to the cash machine I came across feeling really quite strange. It's hard to describe just how I felt, but it was like a need to sit or lay down. There was nothing I could do but ignore it, and carry on with my shopping. By the time I got home I was feeling fairly normal again.

 One of the things about this illness is how it is affecting my appetite. I seem to want to eat quite small amounts quite frequently. It's meant that yesterday I snacked rather than having any proper meals. In terms of physical quantities I probably ate quite lightly, but because it was snack food my calorie intake was no doubt excessively high. I thought I would try to eat more normally today, but that has been a failure in the main. There are various reasons why this is annoying, but one particular one is that I had my sights set on a nice takeaway tonight, but now I don't fancy it.

 I must make some sort of effort to get an early night tonight, and then hopefully get plenty of sleep. The longer term reason for it is in the hope that I will be feeling good for work on Monday. In the shorter term it is because there is an opportunity for a pleasant diversion tomorrow. I didn't realise that after a score of years a computer fair that I once used to go to quite frequently is still going. I learned this from Kevin who is intending to visit it tomorrow to try and get a new motherboard for his PC. It will be fun going along with him to see what they are offering these days. Maybe I can waste some of my too fast dwindling bank account on buying something interesting for myself.
Friday 13th July 2012
13:15 BST

  It was nice and sunny for part of yesterday, but the sunshine did little for the temperature. It didn't feel any better than "mild" to me. When the rain returned it returned early, and there was a light shower as I walked from work to the station, and slightly heavier rain as I walked from the station to home. Reports suggest that there was much heavier rain later in the evening. So far today it has been fairly bright, and the temperature has risen to 21 C. That's two degrees better than the current forecast says it is. It is starting to get more cloudy now, and in a few hours it could be raining again.

 Today I am off work sick. I didn't feel that bad for most of the day at work yesterday, but as home time approached I began to feel worse and worse. Even when I don't feel that good I seem to find some extra energy on my way home, but last night I found that even the last bit, from the station to home, was a real weary slog. A bit later, and I think it was while I was eating, my sore throat came back with a vengance. It was so sore that it was painful to even swallow liquid.

 I tried to watch the news on TV as usual last night, but I was feeling so weak, and the news seemed to be nothing but the bloody olympics. I watched all the national and international news, and the first, and maybe second, articles on the local news before giving up. By 7pm I was in bed and fast asleep. I think I slept solidly until midnight when I woke up to find my pillow damp with sweat. At that point I could have written a list of every single thing that was still wrong with me, but I actually felt a lot better.

 It wasn't long before I was fast asleep again, but this time I probably woke up every 60 to 90 minutes for one reason or another. At about 4.30 this morning I got up briefly to feed Smudge, and to check my email. Then I went back to bed again, and slept some more. From about 8am I was probably hardly asleep, and at 9am I gave up trying. After all that sleep I didn't feel too bad, but it was still a while until I felt ready to face the world (or something).

 The first think I did of any note was to do some laundry. It was only a few shirts, sock, and some underwear, and it didn't feel particularly taxing. Once that was done, and hung up to dry I washed my sweaty hair, and had a shower. After that I felt fairly good, but I was also feeling very hot and still sweaty.

 I've cooled off since then, and I still feel fairly good. My throat is still sore, and I am prone to coughing a lot, but it feels like the worst is over. It even feels like I have some spare energy, but I can feel that dissipating even now. I don't think it will be long before the idea of laying down seems like a good one, although I'll probably be reading rather than going to sleep. Maybe later on I might feel like venturing out to the 99p shop, and perhaps stepping across to the other side of the road for a quick pint, or maybe that just sounds like a good idea, but isn't really practical.

 Being ill is a good time to get tetchy, and I've exchanged a few tetchy emails with a friend of mine this morning. It's probably good, but still annoying that she hasn't risen to the bait. I felt I just had to get it off my chest that she stands for everything I really don't like. Apart from some political views, she believes in sky fairies, and currently follows a religion whose leader doesn't even give out signed photographs.

 That lot claim to be the worlds second biggest religion after Christianity, although I feel sure that measured against everyone else on the planet they form a very lot less than 50%. If they want to get bigger, or gain more understanding, maybe they should drop some of their extreme mediaeval ideas. The Beatles (praise be to Lennon) were more than happy to have signed photos, and they, as everyone in the civilised world knows, were bigger than God (and blew up far less people in his name). I mean, there is got to be something suspicious about someone who hands down loads of harsh edicts but won't let their picture be seen. Maybe "he" was actually a schoolgirl who was having problems with puberty, and was feeling particularly vicious at the time she invented ramadam.

 Well I guess I won't be here much longer. Once my friend reads the above she'll probably have semtex strapped around her body to blow me up next time I see her. It's the sort of thing they do (plus abusing virgins by the score). At least the second most blood thirsty lot, Christians (with the exception of a lot of Americans) now tend to have enough faith in their god to let him do most of the smiting. If only these religious people knew how silly they sound when they say "our god is so powerful and omniscient that we'll have to kill you on his behalf in case he doesn't know about you, or can't be bothered to do it himself". Maybe in the future there will be some sort of cure for that delusion.
Thursday 12th July 2012
07:56 BST

  Parts of yesterday got pretty wet ! There was one very heavy shower early in the afternoon, and a fairly heavy shower just as I was walking from work to the station. I didn't see any flash of lightning, so presumably it wasn't local to me, but that heavy shower was accompanied by a clap of thunder. I definitely felt soggy as I made my way home from work, although it was perfectly dry, and there was some sunshine, as I walked from the station to home.

 Judging from the size of some of the puddles there must have been some heavy rain overnight, but this morning the sky is blue, and the sun is shining. The only flaw in this bit of idealism is that it's only about 12 C. That would be fine for March or April, but is a rip off for July. It should stay dry and mostly sunny until later this evening when another lot of rain approaches. By late afternoon the temperature should reach at least 20 C - once again, poor for July, but pleasant enough.

 I felt pretty rough at work yesterday. There are times when this partial head cold, and partial chest cold, feels close to being like 'flu. I didn't feel too bad during the morning, but during the afternoon I felt more and more fatigued. Getting soaked on the way home was probably not a good idea. It felt nasty at the time, but seems to have done no great damage apart from making me feel excessively hungry last night.

 It was one of those hungers that seems easy to satiate, but it comes back and nags you. I started my extended evening meal with a couple of cheese and onion rolls. The two rolls were left over from the pack of 6 I bought the day before, and were already starting to go stale. With big lumps of cheese, and thick slices of red onion, they almost left me satisfied for a while, but soon I wanted more. So I cooked the last of the potatoes from last week, with more red onions, leeks, and a drained can of kidney beans.

 I ate about half of that, and left the rest for tonight (perhaps with the addition of some cauliflower and broccoli). I seemed quite full after that, but a little later I felt peckish again. The one thing I hadn't eaten was anything sweet. A carton of ready made custard solved that, and it seemed to satisfy my needs for the rest of the night.

 I made a determined effort to get an early night last night. I was in bed, with the lights out at 8.30pm, and I was very close to sleep when the phone rang. Happily it was a shortish call, and I probably still got to sleep 10 or 15 minutes before 9pm. Waking up every 60 - 90 minutes to either pee, blow my nose, or cough up another lung, and sometimes all three, is probably not the definition of a good nights sleep, but it did feel like each bit of sleep was good sleep. Everytime I woke up I just did what needed to be done, and then I would turn over and go back to sleep almost instantly.

 There is something happening in East London in a couple of months that I do my best to completely ignore, and yet it is so intrusive that ignoring it becomes an impossibility. Yesterday I heard two announcements at London Bridge station by the Mayor of London warning about the utter chaos that will descend on London very soon. If is going to be that chaotic then it is a health and safety issue, and the event should be banned before someone gets hurt. Won't someone please think of the children ! This morning I noticed new signs at London Bridge station giving directions to a certain venue (although they really only point to The Jubilee line and not the venue itself).

 Before I went to bed last night I amused myself in pondering whether one or more of the international terrorists who, America tells us, lurk in every back alley and under every stone, would have the bottle to take on the British Army. If they could take over one of the temporary (we assume) missile bases installed on a few blocks of flats within sight of a certain venue, they could add some zest to the games by trying to out compete the javelin throwers by using rapier missiles. It's true that some people would be killed, but at least it would be entertainment.
Wednesday 11th July 2012
08:31 BST

  The day almost ended with a bang yesterday. There were a few inconsequential showers during the afternoon, but at around 7pm there was a huge downpour accompanied by a clap of thunder from somewhere off in the distance. The heavy rain did not last long, and I think it actually became the brightest it had been all day after that brief storm. When I woke up this morning it looked rather dull to the north, and a lot brighter to the south. Since then the cloud has really broken up, and by the time I reached Waterloo, on my way into work, it was bright and sunny.

 It seemed a little duller here in Earlsfield, but since arriving here large parts of the sky have turned blue, and the sun is shining. Today is forecast to be highly variable. Later on there could be yet more rain, but with occasional sunny spells inbetween. While that may sound like a less than good summers day, the temperature is still going to be far less than a summers day. It seems the forecast is for a high of 18 C at best. It might have just been me, but this morning it almost felt cold, although in figures it may have been as high (or low - depending on your point of view) as 15 C. If I recall correctly, today is set to be the coolest day this week, and it might even be the coolest July day since the last ice age. It can't be long before the glaciers come creeping across Oxfordshire. Let's hope they stop at Muswell Hill like they did last time.

 I fully intended to be in bed, and asleep very early last night, but it didn't happen quite like that. I did manage to get in bed before 9pm, but I couldn't get to sleep for a few reasons. It may have been what I ate, and the amount of it, or it may have been the humidity, or perhaps it was just this summer cold I seemed to be suffering from, but I felt hot and uncomfortable last night. On top of that I was feeling really stuffy. It wasn't until I remembered that I had a Vick's nasal inhaler, and had a good few snorts of menthol and/or eucalyptus that I was able to breath well enough to relax.

 I think I managed to get to sleep soon after 9.30pm, but it wasn't a very deep sleep, and I woke up quite a few times to blow my nose and/or have a good lung busting cough. It is rather annoying that I can't remember anything about a particular dream I woke up from at one time. There was something worth recounting about it that I made a specific point to remember, but now it is gone, and maybe the world will never be the same again.

 This morning I don't feel too wonderful. It is a shame that I took yesterday off work as holiday or I might have gone sick today. I felt terribly bunged up when I first woke up, but, on the whole, I seem to be breathing freely again now. My tickly cough is still giving me grief, and my back feels rather stiff and sore all over, rather than the more traditional lower back pain. Having said all that, apart from feeling a little on the cool side, and a mild headache like feeling, I do feel a lot better since getting to work. I don't know how I'll fare during the day, but maybe it is not going to be as terrible as I thought it might.

 Some of the improvement may be due to the couple of Ibuprofen I took a little while before leaving home, and some of the improvement may be due to a bizzare experiment I am trying. In the past I have noticed that some cough remedies contain capsaicin. That is the chemical that makes chillies hot (unless I am mistaken). So I've made my own cough remedy, and come up with a theory as to why it seems to be having a useful effect. I have added some very hot chilli sauce to water. In it's dilute state it is just hot enough to give a slight burning sensation near the throat. The more I drink the more desensitised my throat becomes, and the less I should cough - in theory ! Actually, it does seem to be helping, and it does make plain water more interesting to drink !
Tuesday 10th July 2012
10:53 BST

  The temperature managed to rise to nearly 22 C yesterday. That was a small improvement on the 20 C forecast. There was no significant rainfall, but there was some very light rain as I walked from work to the station. It was so light and ignorable that I don't really know when it stopped. I am sure it had stopped by the time I reached the station. It seemed to get quite cool during the night, but I can't be sure because I seem to be a bit off colour this morning. There has been at least one light dusting of rain that I know of today, and there could be more to come, and perhaps heavier. Currently the temperature is 19.3 C, which I wouldn't describe as any better than "mild", but by late afternoon it may rise another couple of degrees.

 Last night was one of those nights where everything seemed to take longer than it should. My prime task was to dig out my "3" mobile broadband dongle so I could lend it to someone at work today. I found it quickly enough, but making sure it had some credit on it, and that it was working OK took ages. I thought my netbook was all set up ready for it, but it wasn't recognised when booting to Linux Mint, and the software wasn't installed when booted into Windows.

 For simplicity I decided to install the software for Windows. That was simple, and I then tried to log into my account. Once upon a time mere ownership of the dongle seemed enough to access the top up pages, but not being terribly secure it was changed some time ago. To do it last night I needed my password. The only trouble was I had no record of it. I thought I might have noted it on one of my two ancient laptops. One needed the charger connected to boot it up because it's battery was flat, and the other was close to being flat.

 Having connected the power units to each laptop I found I had no notes to check at all, and I was forced down the password reset route. Fortunately that is pretty simple as it sends a text message to the dongle itself - which rather negates any security improvement since it just auto identified itself. Once I had finally logged in I was able to buy a days worth of "internet" from the credit that had been sitting in my account untouched for the last  6 months or more, and confirm that all was well, and the dongle could be used straight away, or at least up to 7pm tonight when  it would need topping up again.

 One other thing I did last night was to re-wash one of my bath towels. The quick wash I had given it over the weekend had appeared to make it smell fresh, but when I came home from work last night I found that the smelly bacteria on it was thriving again on it's continued dampness. Last night I took drastic action and washed it in bleach. It smells a bit like a swimming baths now, but at least it doesn't reek of nastiness. This time I am forcing it dry using the fan heater !

 Yesterday I developed a bit of a sore throat, and by bedtime it was annoying enough to need gargling with whisky. I only used little more than a thimble sized measure twice, and it did help a bit. A lot more may have helped a lot more, but I doubt it would have stopped me waking up feeling like I have a cold. The soreness in my throat has given away to tickleness (is that a word ?), and my nose feels stuffy (but isn't actually running). My chest is a little congested as well. None of it is particularly bad at the moment, and I am trying to keep it that way by taking the day off work (paid as holiday).

 After getting ready to go to work this morning I got myself unready and went back to bed. It didn't feel like I had gone back to sleep, but it seemed only an instant had passed before it was 8am, and time to phone work. I then stayed in bed for another 2 hours, and once again it didn't feel like I had really gone to sleep, but the time had flashed by. A little later I got dressed again and went to Tesco.

 I particularly wanted some Diet Cola, and it would have been cheaper to get Aldi's own brand, but I also had a  feeling that what I really wanted was some cheese and onion rolls. Tesco does a far better range of rolls, and so I went to Tesco. I haven't made up the first roll yet, but I'll be doing it very soon. Using the amount of cheese I intend to use is not exactly healthy, but something in my subconcious says that I need cheese (and possibly onion too). I'll also add some tomato and salad leaves, but they are only for extra flavour.
Monday 9th July 2012
07:50 BST

  The rain has become such a common feature recently that it is hard to remember any specific showers. Yesterday afternoon saw a few more showers, some of which were on the heavy side, but towards sunset there was a brief period when I could see some blue bits of sky. That didn't last long, and this morning the sky is a featureless grey colour. The only positive thing is that there is only a small chance of a shower today, but then again the chances of a shower are supposedly greater than the chances of seeing any sunshine today. It was 17 C when I left to come to work, and the forecast says it will only hit 20 C at best sometime this afternoon. Is everyone really sure that it's July ? I don't think I really want to think about how much worse it will be tomorrow.

 It was a nice weekend in some ways. The highlight was obviously Saturday nights bender. I don't care how much some parts of the medical profession might tut tut going on a bender. I think it is good for the soul (and probably heel and instep too !). Of course it does take a while to recover from such an exhilarating experience, and it was a major contributor to my lethargy yesterday. I wasn't entirely idle though.

 As I wrote yesterday, I gained some useful experience while tinkering with my spare PC, and that was rather satisfying. I may not have actually gone out into the cruel world, but for a while, a fairly short while admittedly, I did do some hard physical work. I washed two towels. One needed washing because it was old and smelly, and the other because it was brand new and smelly ! Hand washing towels does require quite a lot of physical effort. It is surprising just how much they weight when saturated with water.

 It takes quite a lot of effort to wring one out too, and each needed to be wrung out after the soapy wash, and again after the 4 or 5 rinses I gave them. Despite my best efforts I could not wring them out anywhere close to dry. When I hung them on the clothes horse I had to leave a bowl under each to catch the drips. This weather is lousy drying weather, and even this morning I managed to wring a bit more water from the bottom of the still damp towels. Hopefully they will be closer to dry when I get home tonight or I'll be forced to turn the fan heater on them to force them dry before they go mouldy.

 My diet yesterday was very meaty. I had roast flavoured chicken thighs and legs for dinner, and some American hot dog sausages (which presumably have some sort of mystery meat in them) for early evening supper. Apart from some fruit, that's practically all I had. It wasn't particularly healthy, but not terribly unhealthy either. It has left me feeling a bit constipated this morning, but not terribly so.

 Tonight I expect to construct a far healthier meal. I still have a few potatoes from last weeks 99p bag of them, and this week I'll be using them more sparingly. Instead of, or maybe in addition to peas, I'll be padding out my dinners with, in variable quantities ranging from none to some, cauliflower, cabbage, and broccoli. I've topped my stocks of garlic puree and stock cubes, and I already have quite a variety of herbs and spices in the cupboard. So I'll be changing the flavour everyday. As the potatoes diminish these meals should get better and better for me, and will be ideally suited to these dark autumnal days of July !
Sunday 8th July 2012
16:09 BST

  The weather on Friday turned out to be drier than predicted. There were a few spells of light drizzle, but by some miracle the clouds started to dissipate during the afternoon, I went home from work in sunshine. Yesterday was similar until after dark when it tipped down ! Today has seen a few sunny spells, but those had all but gone by midday, and this afternoon has seen a few brief, but heavy downpours as well as spells of drizzle. It's currently 19 C which while fairly comfortable, is pretty poor for July !

 I did very little after seeing Aleemah early on Friday evening. In fact I can't really remember what I did, or when I went to bed. I think I probably went to bed just a little later than what usual is supposed to be for me - i.e. 9pm. I can't even remember if I slept well, but I do remember it taking me a long time to get my act together yesterday morning, and that suggests that it took extra effort to get a bt more sleep in.

 Once I did decide to face the day properly the first thing I did was the second half of the laundry that I had started on Thursday. As usual, that got me hot and sweaty, and I followed that up with a good shower. I could probably have done better having a cooler shower than I did because it then took me a fair time to cool down. Once I was cool I finished dressing and went to Aldi to do some shopping.

 While on the way to Aldi I spoke to Kevin and we arranged for a quick drink together in the evening. While in Aldi I managed to control my enthusiasm to buy all sorts of things that in the cold light of day I might avoid eating. That's not to say I didn't buy a couple of items that were slightly extravagant. There were a few sandwiches that had reduced prices stickers on them, and that I had for lunch yesterday. Then there were the flavoured chicken thighs and drumsticks that I had for my Sunday dinner today. I can't believe how much fat came out of them when I roasted them. I'm sure it wasn't natural.

 Until the evening I did little of note yesterday, although there could be a pun in there somewhere. Although it was not a significant amount, I did do a few minutes here, and a few minutes there of guitar practice. It should have been a lot more because progress is still remarkably slow, but I think I am making a very tiny amount of progress, and at the current rate I should be able to play lead guitar in a famous rock band in another 40 or 50 years :-)

 A lot of my odd minutes yesterday (and today) have been taken up with some computer experimentation. I have now succesfully cloned a hard disk, and "persuaded" Windows to run on completely different hardware (it was running on a laptop, but is now on a desktop machine). On the whole it was an successful experiment, and I gained some useful experience in doing it.

 I had arranged to meet Kevin at 7pm last night, and somehow we both arrived at the pub at exactly 7pm. It was supposed to be a quick drink, around two pints only, because Kevin wanted to stay sober and do some stuff when he got home again. Last night I had my revenge ! Usually it is me that want only a brief drink, but last night I had nothing better to do. So on the way back from the toilets after drinking my second pint I bought us a couple of double Fireballs to drink. For some reason Kevin thought he had to reciprocate, and this went on until 11pm (give or take half an hour). I ended up pretty drunk, and so did Kevin. I had manage to sabotage his evening as he frequently does to me.

 Of course all this was good natured, and we both thoroughly enjoyed ourselves, although I didn't escape unscathed from such treachery. It was dry when I went to the pub, and I didn't take a coat with me. When I finally left to go home the rain was really tipping it down, and I was soaked to the skin when I got home. That, and, or mostly, the booze gave me a ravenous appetite. I can't really remember what I ate, but it was a lot of odds and ends one after another - all thoroughly bad for me.

 When I eventually got into bed sometime after midnight (maybe a lot after midnight) I fell asleep almost instantaneously, and I don't recall anything until I stupidly woke up at 5am as if I had to go to work today. I woke up with moderately bad hangover, and I couldn't get back to sleep again for several hours. Even when I did get back to sleep I didn't sleep all that well, or for all that long. I will definitely have to try and get to bed very early tonight !

 I was going to go to a Jo Bangles gig at a school fete today, but my enthusiasm for it was dampened by three things. After last night I still don't feel that sparkling. It is not an easy place to get to - one long, and one shorter bus ride, or a train, a tram and a bus ! Lastly is the weather. It's very grey outside ( I need the lights on most of the time), and every now and then there is a torrential downpour. So I've stayed in and completed my computer experimentation, and very little else. Very soon I am going to do one of two things - try to practice a few more guitar chords, or have a nap. Maybe I'll manage both.
Friday 6th July 2012
07:55 BST

  It got a fair bit warmer that I thought it would yesterday. By late afternoon it was fairly respectable 24 C - respectable for sometime like May that is ! In the middle of the day it did get very cloudy, and for a time the sun was completely hidden, but the clouds had broken up, and the sun was shining  by the time I left work to go home. Sometime during the night the clouds gathered again, and I came to work in intermittent light drizzle. The weather forecast said a whole heap of cloud is coming from across The North Sea, and someone is going to get very wet.

 Last night there was some doubt about if it all that heavy cloud would pass over all of London, or if south of London will be spared the worst of it. The very, very worst of it, with maybe 3 inches of rain falling, should pass well north of London - I hope ! Another hope is that it will clear the air a bit. This morning it is not exactly warm, but it still feels very sticky. One further hope is that it will all have passed by, cleaning up the air as it goes, by tomorrow. If tomorrow should prove to be mostly dry, I may go for a ramble somewhere.

 I felt a fair bit more tired when I got home last night, but I found the energy and enthusiasm to do over half the excessive pile of laundry that was waiting for me. That was about all I did do last night, but I did manage to get into bed before 9pm. Although I will admit that a mere one minute before 9pm is not exactly significantly earlier than 9pm ! I stayed awake reading for nearly an hour I think, but I was still fast asleep the earliest I have been for the last few days.

 I was probably so tired that I couldn't really help but sleep solidly, and yet I do recall snatches of one dream. I seemed to be trying to get a train from Oxford in this dream, but I had no idea where the station was. Prior to finding the station I tried to look for something to read in a bookshop (perhaps a branch of WH Smiths) but the light was so dim in there that I could barely see where I was going, let alone read any book/magazine titles. Outside the book shop I stopped a woman to ask the way to the station. She pointed in a vague direction and said that if I didn't mind jumping over a few hurdles it was only a few minutes walk down some alleyway, or she could give me a lift the long way round. I think I woke up while deciding what to do.

 I don't feel too wonderful this morning. Gone is the energy I seemed to have yesterday morning. Maybe it is yet another change in the weather, or maybe it is something to do with my diet. I am increasingly thinking that my pea and potato diet is not good for me. In a way that is a shame because it is so cheap, and also cheap to add variety in the shape of assorted herbs, spices or other stuff. Last night I attempted to improve on the recipe that turned out to be something very similar to what you might get in an Indian restaurant. I had run out of garlic puree so I added some ready made crispy fried onions. It was still nice, but nothing like my invention of the day before yesterday (I think it was).

 I have not attempted to work out how much all the additions I have added to the peas and potatoes cost, but for many of them it must be very little. Others, like tomato puree, or garlic puree rather less so, but still not a great amount. I still have enough potatoes left in my 99p bag for maybe two more meals, but the 85p bag of frozen peas is now finished. I'm not sure what I am going to eat over the weekend, but I am considering varying my experiment by substituting cabbage for half, or more of the potatoes. I feel that will be healthier for me by reducing the amount of carbohydrates I am consuming - and that I think are probably making my blood sugar level higher than I would like it.

 I am seeing Aleemah for a short while after work, but later on I am contemplating the idea of seeing if Kevin is available for a few beers in the pub. It depends on how tired I feel by tonight. I am definitely looking forward to going back to bed for a few hours tomorrow morning. That assumes that I wake up sometime around 5am, and that I get up to feed Smudge and potter around for a while. Ideally I would just sleep through to 8 or 9am, maybe even later, rather than wake up at 5am as usual. Once I am finally up and dressed I'll investigate what the weather is up to, and see if it's worth going out, or staying in, and perhaps doing some guitar practice.
Thursday 5th July 2012
08:00 BST

  I didn't expect to go home from work in sunshine yesterday, but that's what happened ! I thought it looked as if the sky was brightening up after the drizzly start, and my half hearted optimism about the chance of sunshine was right. By lunchtime there were still some heavy looking clouds in the sky, but it was sunny, and the sunshine felt really hot on the black shirt I was wearing. Some parts of the sky still had some seriously threatening looking black clouds as I made my way home from work, but overhead, or at least in the part of the sky where the sun was, the sky was clear.

 There wasn't always sunshine, but it was a very nice evening weatherwise, and once again Smudge decided the weather was settled enough to stay out all night. There was no rain during the night that I was aware of, and this morning started out bright and clear. There is now a lot more cloud in the sky, but the chances of rain today are slim. The forecast suggests a light shower around lunchtime, but there is still a good chance that I'll be going home in sunshine again. For all this sunshine the temperature is forecast to only reach a rather disappointing 20 C.

 I had a reasonable day at work yesterday - which makes a change. My evening at home was both good and bad. One good, or maybe just unusual thing was that I did not feel ravenously hungry. I wrote two semi-long emails, and did some work on my spare PC before I even started to cook. Once again it was a meal based upon peas and potatoes. I think I still have enough peas and potatoes for around two more meals. This is a very cheap way of eating ! Last night was the luxury version. I had two small bags of smoke salmon trimmings (99p a bag) that I had bought while I was eating a lot of salad. They were a week after their use by date, but upon opening the bags they still smelt OK so I tossed them in the pot with the peas and potatoes. With a squirt of garlic, and a squirt of tomato puree, plus some basil and parsley, it all turned out to be very tasty (and still relatively cheap).

 The bad, but also another good thing about last night was that as soon as I had finished my later than usual dinner I received a phone call from an old friend. He is as mad as a hatter sometimes, but it makes for an interesting conversation. The bad part of it was that it went on so long that I didn't have any time left for guitar practice, doing some overdue laundry, and washing my well overdue hair. Maybe a secondary bad part was that I didn't feel like going to sleep that early, and I ended up reading in bed until stupidly late.

 I am not even sure that when I did get to sleep, I slept that well. I have vague memories of waking up a couple of times in the night with the feeling that I had been tossing and turning a lot. I didn't feel particularly tired at work yesterday despite not getting as much sleep as I thought I needed, and I hope today will be similar. I am increasingly unsure just how healthy my recent meals have been. I have had hints that my blood sugar level may not be as low as I'd like, and my trousers might not feel quite as loose as they did at the beginning of the week. None of that explains why I was getting very slightly frustrated that people weren't walking fast enough while I made my way from Waterloo East to Waterloo Mainline stations this morning. As soon as there was a clear space ahead of me I raced forward to fill it in a way that seemed strangely effortless.

 With no time to do it last night, I had to wash my hair this morning. It was getting quite disgusting. Having to do that delayed me slightly, but I thought I could still make my usual train. That was until Smudge suddenly decided to come home from her night on the tiles demanding food and affection just as I was about to leave for the station. By extreme rushing around I only missed my usual train by 5 minutes. In terms of getting to work it is of no consequence at all to get the next train some 10 minutes later. The calamity is that I didn't get to touch in my Oyster card before the 6.30am deadline, and I had to pay the full peak rate fare to get to work. At the very least, you owe me 90p Smudge (and possibly as much as 3.90)!

 Tonight my first priority is to get some laundry done. I have plenty of other clothes to wear so there is no urgency there, but it is impractical to wash too many clothes by hand at one time. In reality it makes no difference if I have to do some tonight, and the rest maybe tomorrow night - I would have done the first lot a day or two ago, and then waited until I had accumulated enough for the next wash, but it is not satisfying to leave the big pile half finished. Once I have done all I can, and the amount I can dry puts another limit on how much I can do, I may have time to sit down and try and practice another chord on my guitar. Hopefully I'll even make it to bed by 9pm tonight (or even better, be asleep by 9pm).
Wednesday 4th July 2012
07:56 BST

  It is becoming evident that I am getting far too pessimistic when interpreting the weather forecasts - either that or the forecasts, and has been proved before, are wrong ! There were quite a few light showers yesterday, but the more persistent rain never happened. It probably did get warmer during the day. So that bit of the forecast was right. It was warm enough that my upper body was wet with sweat inside my raincoat, while the outside of my raincoat was mostly dry. I'm not sure why I actually bothered putting it on for my journey home after work. I would have been drier in my shirtsleeves.

 It seemed very mild during the late evening, and there was no rain. So Smudge decided to not only go out, but to stay out all night. Later in the night/early morning it did rain, and I think at one point it might have been quite heavy, but Smudge was no more than very slightly damp when she came in this morning. It certainly is a very dull morning with intermittent drizzle, but it does look like the sky is getting brighter. Maybe I should be optimistic and think there might be the odd ray of sunshine breaking through today's clouds.

 As I mentioned, I got home from work with my shirt damp from sweat. This did not please me on this occasion because after a wait of something like a whole month, Patricia was going to drop my freshly laundered duvet covers in to me. She was also bringing around her partners laptop for me to take a look at. Someone had spilt a glass of water in it, and naturally enough it stopped working.

 Patricia turned up a lot later than I expected, and that delayed my dinner by quite a while. I had time to completely cook it long before she arrived, but decided I would eat it after she left because it was quite smelly. It wasn't my intention to make a pea and potato curry, but that's how it turned out. I had added a sprinkling of herbs and spices that are usual to find in curries, but what I didn't mean to do was to leave it until the pan had boiled dry, and was just on the point of where a few slices of potato in the bottom of the pans were starting to scorch.

 The reason why I left the pan unattended, and with the gas a little higher than needed, was that I took the opportunity to do a little tidying up while dinner cooked, and then got a bit sidetracked when I turned on my PC. Had I left it another five minutes it may well have been charred and inedible, but what I had actually created was a thick curry that didn't contain any more fat (or oil) than is found in a stock cube. It was better than rather nice. One day I must try and work out the approximate calorific value of these pea and potato meals. I think it should be fairly low, but I could be very wrong. On the other hand, after a few of these simple meals I do feel my trousers getting a bit looser again.

 After a whole month of waiting, it was nice to see Patricia again, and it was nice to get some of my duvet covers back. I could almost feel guilty about letting her wash them for me, but she seems very willing to do it, and at least this time I taking a look at her partners laptop in return. I haven't looked inside it yet, but I did take out the hard drive and connect it to one of my desktop PCs to confirm my theory that the hard drive had not been damaged. Patricia had left by the time I started that, but was happy to hear that all their pictures and documents were still safe, and could be transferred to another media if the laptop is severely damaged - which it might well be because they didn't take the battery out as soon as the spillage happened - which would have prevented a lot of the very probable corrosion I'll find inside.

 I had very little time for guitar practice last night, and in some ways I wasn't in the mood for it, but I did spend at least 5 minutes practising what someone here at work says is the most difficult common chord - which is "G". Maybe these little bits of practice do work, because when I showed the guitar to Patricia I was able to get my fingers on the frets fairly quickly, and played her a perfect "G" on my first attempt. If ever anyone ever writes a song only using the chord of "G" I will be able to master it in seconds !

 I ended up getting to sleep stupidly late last night. I think it was almost 11pm, but it might have even been later before I was fast asleep. It could mean that I'll be tired and very grumpy today, but I do have an ace up my sleeve. No, ace up my sleeve, is not really what I mean. I think what I really mean is that I have seen the light at the end of the tunnels. Yesterday I finally did what I have been meaning to do for years. I contacted the people running the pension scheme for the only company I have worked for where I have made any pension contributions.

 The first joyful thing is that it is definite that my pensionable age under that scheme is 60 - so definitely only 3 years to go ! The next excellent things is that I confirmed a half remembered idea that there is also a lump sum payment  when  the scheme starts paying. It will be three times my anuual pension, and it is probably going to be most important. I only worked for the company for half a lifetime - 22 years - and there is a lot of doubt in my mind about how much of my three year apprenticeship counts towards my pension. So my pension is going to be quite small, and I'm guessing that it could even be smaller than 7000 a year. So an additional 3x7000=21,000 lump sum payment will help cushion the blow of exteme poverty until my state pension becomes due, and I am better off at just mild poverty.

 By the end of next week I hope to have in my hand a real prediction of how much money I might expect to get for my pension. It seems that for the last two years I have had the option to retire early, but with a reduced pension. So I've also asked for a prediction of how much that might be if I retired at the beginning of October this year (the earliest date possible to allow all the paperwork to be processed). If I have been far too pessimistic about the amount I'll get for my pension I might find I could quit this year into mere moderate poverty, but I am sure that's just pie in the sky. Still, I can't wait to get my predictions and see just what my options are. At least this way it might not come as a terrible shock on my 60th birthday.
Tuesday 3rd July 2012
07:45 BST

  It wasn't as wet as I thought it would be yesterday. The showers were very light, and most of them were in the morning, but there was some heavier rain after dark. I can't recal a single ray of sunshine breaking through the sullen grey sky, but at least the temperature held up enough for it to be comfortable in just a short sleeved shirt. Today may actually be a degree warmer than yesterday, but I would only describe it as mild rather than warm. The temperature would have to double before it could be described as hot. With the more persistent rain forecast for today it is going to feel more like November than July.

 As well as the weather being down, I feel down as well. I was looking forward to something closer to an enjoyable day at work yesterday, and initially it wasn't bad, but by 1.30pm, after a 90 minute Testing Department meeting, I was ready to slash my wrists again. The meeting was so bloody boring, and over half of it seemed utterly pointless to me. That wasn't the only thing that pissed me off.

 I thought I had managed to get to the stage when I could sit down and do the job I am best at, and enjoy. For too long now I have had stuff dumped on me that has taken me away from what I view as my core job - resurecting the dead, or repairing faulty circuit boards. I haven't got a huge backlog of them to do, but it is large enough, and growing all the time. I had just back into the swing of doing those repairs when anotherimportant job was dumped on me. At least this is a repair job, but it is equipment that I have never used before, and it needs to be "driven" by computer software that I haven't got on my PC using a special interface card that is not installed on my PC ! So before I can actually start any repairs I have a load of preparation work to do that is already done on the persons PC who actually constructed the equipment in the first place.

 I was not happy during the day, and although happy to be home, I was still not happy when I got home. Then things got better and worse. I had not been in all that long when I got a call from a friend. It was a pleasant distraction, but it went on for a very long time, but it meant that I didn't have enough time to do any guitar practice. I could have made the time by switching off the TV a bit earlier - I was only watching repeats - but I wanted to relax and just let my mind go numb.

 I should have gone straight to bed as soon as I switched the TV off, but like an addict I had to check my email, and see if there were any updates on a few web pages. Eventually I got into bed 5 or 10 minutes after 9pm. I felt tired but I didn't feel ready to sleep, and so I read for something like an hour before turning the light out. That was far too late really, and I'll probably be feeling it later. It was tired enough this morning that if I had not set my alarm I could easily have seriously overslept. Genrally speaking I wake before my alarm sounds.

 I don't know if I had a good nights sleep or not. I know I woke up once or twice, and I remember a few snatches of a couple of dreams I had. I've never dreamed about being an astronaut before, but I did last night. I had to transfer from my rocket, whose interior looked suspiciously like a Mini (car), to a bigger craft, but had forgotten my space helmet. So I improvised by using a clear plastic bag and loads of duct tape. I think it worked OK, and the last bit of the dream I recall was me still being alive as the airlock door was closing behind me prior to the airlock being re-pressurised.

 I don't think I have ever had a dream about prison escapees getting away on a bus with women's dresses pulled over their black and white striped prison clothes. I think they did get away, but only after shooting the bus conductress who had pulled a gun on them. I say a gun, but I think it may have looked more like a blaster from a scifi film. The whole dream was more like a film. As well as being rather surreal there was also the fact that the bus conductress didn't have a mark on her when she was shot, and died - not even a smear of ketchup. This obviously wasn't a dream produced and directed by Quentin Taratino or we would all have been splashed with blood and entrails.

 Tonight, if things go to plan, I'll be cooking myself another portion of potato and pea stew. I did make some last night, and it did form the majority of my dinner. Last night I flavoured it with Bovril, white pepper, and some leaves of fresh mint. It wasn't bad. I could live on it if push came to shove, but it wasn't as tasty as I thought it might be. Tonight I may try flavouring it with curry powder. If I let it boil long enough to drive off much of the water, and let the potatoes and peas turn almost to mush, I would end up with "Aloo Peas", or at least something close it. As nice as that would probably be it would defeat the idea of making it appear a much bigger meal by having loads of liquid in it (which is a cack handed way of describing it, but you probably get what I mean).

 After dinner, which I'll eat while watching the news (as usual) I think I'll pour myself a very large Scotch, and try and get some guitar practice in. I am torn between trying to learn to play enough of Freebird to be recognisable, and trying something else. I have in mind a song by the Dutch band Earth And Fire. It's a nice song, but of course I don't actually sing, and without the words it may be meaningless. Of course I could simplify things even further by just trying to learn chords in alphabetical order while trying to teach my fingers how to bend in ways that they previously have never tried ! On the whole, I think learning by even small snatches of song is the more enjoyable way of doing it. At least some of it is sinking in. I have to use pliers to get my fingers on the right strings, and on the right frets, but it seems that I have memorised how to play a "G". One down, a million and a half to go !
Monday 2nd July 2012
08:02 BST

  Apart from one light shower late in the afternoon, it stayed fairly pleasant yesterday - although that's pleasant in more April/May sort of way rather than July ! This morning started off nicely. There was a lot of clear sky, and the temperature was just high enough for it not to be chilly. Now the clouds are almost covering the entire sky. The chances of sunshine are now very slim, and the chances of getting the rain that was forecast for today are extremely high.

 I feel slightly odd this morning, and the reasons for that are not hard to explain. Principal among those reasons was that I ate very badly yesterday. The very worst thing was far too much ice cream. I was nowhere near the ice cream when I had an irrational urge to buy some while I was shopping in Aldi yesterday morning. Unless I feel I have been externally influenced, by an advert perhaps, I freely give in to urges that seem to come within me. Rightly or wrongly, I think that it is often my body saying it is after some particular thing like a vitamin or mineral.

 It wasn't giving in to that urge that was wrong, it was in stupidly buying too much knowing that I had very little space in my freezer (and later, with a big bag of frozen peas carefully moulded to fit into a confined space, no room at all). So over the course of the afternoon I ate the whole lot. Perhaps it would be more accurate to say that I drank the last of it because by the early evening it had almost completely melted.

 So this morning my blood sugar level is most probably horribly high. On top of that, I didn't get to sleep early enough last night, and what sleep I did get wasn't particularly good. In addition to everything else there is the heavy burden of coming back to work after four days of glorious freedom. My main symptoms are, or were, a slight stomach ache, a sort of headachey feeling that isn't actually a headache as such, and muscle fatigue from keeping my eyes open when I really want to close them and go to sleep (which I came close to doing on the train this morning).

 What is oddest of all is that I kept finding myself walking rather fast without much effort when I really didn't think I wanted to, or should be able to walk so fast. Maybe it's some sort of anti-illness (probably caught from an alien from an anti-matter world in the fifth dimension). It would all be much easier if I had drunk some booze yesterday, and had an easy to understand hangover. Something else may have been easier, although maybe not so successful if I had drunk a few whiskies yesterday.

 I spent a fair amount of time giving myslef my first guitar lesson yesterday afternoon. Some of the time was spent researching on the internet, and enough time to get my fingers feeling really sore as I attempted to play a few chords. It is all a bit of challenge, and I am not sure that I ever will overcome enough of two big problems to be able to actually play a guitar.

 What may be the hardest problem of all is that I just do not understand music. After my first bit of self tuition I can remember how to form, and play the chord of G, but I have no idea how it works, and why playing that combination of strings should sound good. The second problem is a hurdle that may be even more difficult to overcome, and that is the physical difficulties of playing. In trying to get my fingers on the correct strings to play a chord I felt like an arthritic cripple, and almost had to superglue my fingers in place. If I were much younger I would predict that with practice I would develop a suppleness of the wrist and fingers, but these days I am not so sure. No matter how much walking I do, I still have some stiffness in my ankles and knees, and it is probably getting worse (and I may well be making it worse by forcing my way past the stiffness).

 One other thing I did yesterday was to edit some of the pictures I took at Saturday night's gig.
The Crown Inn, Leaves Green, Kent
The road outside the Crown Inn showing how close the bus stop is, and who is playing inside !
Matt Hemsley (TMT Music) and Jo Corteen
This picture of Matt and Jo is useful to me because it shows how my left hand should fit around the guitar neck.
Jo Corteen and Chris Mayer
Jo and Chris make it look so relaxed as the curl their left fingers around the guitar neck so easily.
Liz guesting on vocals
Liz, on the far left, was hoisted out of the audience to reprise her old role as backing vocalist for the Eagles song "Take It Easy".
The Jo Bangles Band on stage
is it Chain or Jo Bangles Band ?

 Tonight I must do some more guitar practice, but tonight I think I am going to see how a few whiskies change the experience. Before all that I have some other experimenting to do. I have been wondering how I could ever survive if I lost (or quit) my job. Having tried two periods of unemployment, I am pretty familar with poverty, but I am a bit out of practice at living with it now. So tonight I will be trying out a new recipe that I have thought up for an ultra cheap main meal.

 When I say new recipe I actually mean one that I can't recall having tried before. Basically it is pea and potato stew with a few spices for a bit of extra flavour. Although quite high in carbohydrates it will have a very low fat content, and that will be just what is in a stock cube, so it might actually be fairly low in calories - particularly if I make it as thin as I think I might. Yesterday I bought a bag of potatoes for 99p, and a bag of peas for 85p. In theory I should be able to get about 4, or possibly even five dinners out of that. It's still not cheap enough to survive on the dole unless I give up feeding Smudge and eat her instead, and give up booze and fags, and basically anything that makes life worth living, but at least it's a start.
Sunday 1st July 2012
11:52 BST

  So "flaming June" is now over, and it hasn't exactly been flaming ! Yesterday was pleasant enough, and very grudgingly I might admit that it was probably about average for a June day. It was warm, but not hot, there was quite a lot of sunshine, and although there were plenty of great big, and sometimes grey clouds drifting around the sky, it didn't rain. Today has started off in a similar way, but the cracks could start appearing later this afternoon when we might catch a shower or two. The forecast for tomorrow remains the same - rain, and possibly lots of it !

 I was very lazy yesterday afternoon, and passed the time either on the internet, or laying on my bed reading. At 5pm I shook myself out of that frame of mind, and started to get ready to go out. I had another shower, this time with a non genital tingling shower gel, and then laid down again while I cooled off after the hot shower. A bit later I got dressed for the evening, and at 7pm I was just getting on the bus for the 44 minute ride to The Crown Inn at Leaves Green.

My new guitar  I thought I would get to the pub in plenty of time to help Jo and Chris carry their gear into the pub, but when I got there everything was already inside, and the P.A. speakers were up on their mounts.

 Now that was a shame because I really wanted to lend a hand because I owe them a lot, and last night most definitely so. It was at the gig that I picked my my guitar (pictured left) from Jo. My sense of debt increased even further when I was also given a couple of plectrums, and a little bit later still when Chris gave me his spare bottleneck (used for playing slide guitar). I think Chris was being a bit premature there - one day I might learn to use it, but I think I had better try and learn a few ordinary notes first !

 It was a very enjoyable evening, and even the last 15 minutes of the bus ride was enjoyable. It is tedious going to, and through Bromley, but once the bus gets out the other side it manages to build up a bit of speed, and the views from the top deck out across the countryside are very pleasant.

 The one peculiar thing about last night that was almost predictable, but didn't spoil a thing, was that although billed as a Jo Bangles gig it was 100% identical to a Chain gig - same songs, same musicians !

 One thing that was a bit different, and presumably this was down to the pub landlord, was that the gig ended a little earlier that I expected at about 11.30pm. I wasn't expecting that, and combined with a bit of bravado in staying until the very last bus was due, I managed to see the whole gig, and had just enough time to say a few goodbyes (although there was still not time to seek everyone out). I guess I arrived home at around half past midnight, and after some snacking I was in bed, and fast asleep at maybe 1.30am this morning.

 I slept well, but woke up much too early again. Ideally I should have not woken up until at least 9am. I think it was around 5.30am when I first woke up. I tried for more sleep, and probably got another hour or so, but it was not quality sleep. I can see myself pegging out by early evening unless I get some sleep in this afternoon - and that may be difficult.

 This afternoon I should be going to another Jo Bangles/Chain gig in Orpington. The gig starts nice and early at 3pm, but I am already having doubts about whether I'll go today. There are three things that put me off. The first is that I am already starting to feel a bit tired, and I would need to leave in just over an hours time (to my surprise it is almost 1pm as I write these words). The second is that it's a bit of a gutty journey to the gig - two trains and a bus to get there, and the same to get back, or a horrendous 90+ minute journey on one bus. The third and last reason is that I have a new toy to play with. That is, of course, my new guitar. I feel impatient to start experimenting with it.