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My Diary/Blog For the Month of December 2013

Tuesday 31st December 2013
17:22 GMT

  Today was another day that started wet and soggy, but today it didn't dry up. There were a few periods when it didn't rain, and a few rarer ones where it started to get almost bright. Most of today has been gloomy and miserable. I think it also might have been a bit windy too, but I didn't venture outside to check that. We have had a couple of hours respite from the rain, but it is forecast to start again soon, and tomorrow, the first day of a new year, will be just as soggy as today, if not soggier, and just 10 C - which is probably a couple of degrees less cool than today was.

 One of the things I meant to mention yesterday was that I have made a very useful observation. Anyone who has tried to reheat those awful tastless, plastic "fries" that come with American inspired meals (McDonalds, KFC etc.) will know that once those slivers of fried pulp have cooled down that are impossible to revive. What I observed yesterday was that the same is not true of real chip shop chips made from real potatoes. Perhaps it doesn't happen all the time, but a dozen of them left in a box with one piece of left over fried chicken, were perfectly edible, and enjoyable when microwaved with the chicken for a couple of minutes.

 Like much of yesterday, I have done very little today. Yesterday I washed some clothes. Today I washed my body and my hair. I was not expecting to have any use for a clean body today, but even I have my limits, and although unlikely in the extreme, someone could have sprung a surprise visit on me. Maybe I secretly want to go out to celebrate tonight, but if that is the case, no one has let me in on the secret.

 New years eve is a time for jollity and back slapping and stuff - all sort of stuff that doesn't come naturally to me in big crowds. I guess I could stand a pathetic, probably going out of business pub with just a dozen of us in there, but all my memories of new years eve in pubs have been of wanting to go home because I was not enjoying myself. It can be bloody hard to get to the bar, and then at midnight I am the one who never gets kissed. Of course things might have changed in the last 30 years...........

 Maybe it is time I tried it again, but first I have to try and get comfortable with staying out late at gigs. I've had difficulty with that for years to some extent or another, and since my operation I've been even further out of practice. I am slowly building up to it again, but it is hard work. I can't help but think it would all be easier if I lived in the southern hemisphere. I think I could cope with starting off in daylight at about 10pm, and ending in daylight at 2 or 3am on mid summers day. Why don't we celebrate mid summers eve ? I bet it's those interfering bloody Christians again ! If one of their heros didn't do something on a particular day they won't let anyone else enjoy it !

 Oh well, tomorrow is another year.
Monday 30th December 2013
17:31 GMT

  It was incredibly wet this morning - which was worse than it being frosty ! As midday approached it began to get brighter, and by midday itself the light was a poor imitation of daylight. During this afternoon we did have some sunny spells, but it has felt very cold all day. The current temperature is 8 C, and that is possibly as high as it has been today. Tomorrow morning it might be 10 C, but it is going to be another really dull soggy morning - at least that is what the BBC are currently forecasting !

 I forgot to mention that I got another xmas present yesterday. I don't expect or solicit xmas presents because I am absolutely hopeless at choosing presents for other people. Nine times out of ten (perhaps 9.7 time out of 10) I just give up even trying to find presents. I do regret that in certain cases this year. Many people have been unexpectedly good to me during my recovery from heart surgery. I still don't know why I deserved it, but it would have been nice to have rewarded a few people. Maybe I'll get other chances during the year.

 It is probably just me being weird, but since I was about 12 I've found most presents on any occasion have been sort of contrived, and although I don't wish to appear to be ungrateful, are frequently useless. Just recently I've had some good presents. I'm not sure what it says about me (well maybe I do !) but the good ones seems to fit in my mouth. So thanks Barbara for the chilli stuff. Thanks Kevin for the bottle of Jamesons, and now thanks Jodie for the cheese ! I don't think I would ever think of giving cheese for xmas, but maybe I might do so in future - you have been warned !

 I seemed to sleep well last night despite having over eaten. I woke up this morning still feeling a bit full, or bloated, but that was not completely unexpected. What was unexpected was that my right shoulder seemed very stiff. Even now I can just about detect some residual stiffness, but it is close to the limit of detection. This morning it was very obvious, but rarely was the cause of any discomfort.

 While it was pouring with rain, and sometimes almost dark as night outside, I decided I wouldn't get up properly - and properly in this instance really means showered and dressed in any more than a t-shirt and lounge pants. I was going to take it very easy, but that was a little too much like hard work. So I did some laundry - rather more than I needed to. Quite why I washed the t-shirt that I was going to throw out because all the stitching was coming undone, was a bit of a mystery. It was also a mystery why I only washed 7 socks when everyone knows that socks come in pairs.

 Eventually I did go out, but only to the corner shop. It was just after midday, and as I opened the front door, clad in my waterproofs, the rain stopped ! I bought a couple of 1.75l bottles of Diet Coke and some roasted hazlenuts and roasted almonds. I almost had a healthy lunch after managing to avoid any breakfast. I had lots of fruit, some roasted nuts and.......some chocolate biscuits !  Since then I've had a big(ish) unhealthy sort of snack, and now I am wondering what I should have, if anything for dinner tonight. Nothing would undoubtably be the best option, but I'm not sure if I have the will power for that tonight.

 In theory I could go out tonight. I think there is an open mic session on at The William IV pub in Elmers End. There is a good chance there will be some people there I would recognise, but I don't know if I have the energy and enthusiasm to go out tonight. The sun set an hour ago, with a strange almost greenish yellow sunset, and it is now completely dark outside. I may not go to sleep until midnight tonight (although being asleep by 9pm would be a better idea) but even now the old caveman part of my brain is preparing for sleep against my concious wishes. It's time to stoke the fire up, and put up the anti-sabre tooth tiger barricades outside the cave again.
Sunday 29th December 2013
20:28 GMT

  I think the forecast for today was actually correct. The morning started off with a vicious frost because the sky was clear. Much of the morning, and even into the start of the afternoon, there was a lot of sunshine, but that sunshine hardly affected the temperature. I'm not sure how high it rose, but I would be surprised if it was any higher than about 7 C. Fortunately there was hardly any wind, and that made it feel far less chilly than it might have felt. Tomorrow morning will see cloudy skies back - so it will be slightly less cool, a lot duller, and very wet during the morning, but just dull and miserable in the afternoon.

 I was considering getting a takeaway last night, but I settled for heating up some ready meals in the microwave. I also attempted to have my 8th and 9th pieces of fruit  for the day in the evening. They were to be two Jaffa oranges. The first had a typically tough skin that was difficult to peel away cleanly, but a bit of patient picking got off most of the pith. It didn't taste wonderful, but it was probably pretty much typical. The next one was not typical. It was far from it. In fact I have never tasted such an awful flavoured orange before, and I don't even understand how an orange could taste so awful. There was no indication on the outside that there was any way that the inside could be contaminated, but the bit I tasted, before spitting it out again as quickly as I could, tasted like raw sewage (or what I imagine raw sewage might taste like).

 I've mentioned before how I don't like going out after dark. It just feels so wrong, and I much prefer to retire to my bedroom soon after the sun sets - which is ridiculously early at the moment - but I have noticed is now getting later again since the winter solstice. While I might want to seal myself in my cave after dark, I didn't seem to have any urge to get to sleep all that early last night, and I guess it was probably near midnight when I fell asleep. I woke up a few times to pee, but slept quite well last night.

 One reason for sleeping better is the improvement in my left hand recently. I can increasingly use it almost normally under certain circumstances. The little finger, and to a lot lesser extent the ring finger, is still a bit numb, and certain areas are almost  painful to touch in a pins and needles sort of way, but with hindsight it is all so much better than it was a few weeks back. The change is so slow and subtle that I have to try and remember how it was weeks ago before I can say it is getting better. At the current rate, and with the benefit of experience now, I think I can predict that it will all be fully healed in a another couple of months. That is pathetically slow compared to my wildest expectations, but is probably far more realistic.

 I have quite a good day today. This morning I met my friend Aleemah aqt the station at 10.30am. As usual we went down to the Wetherspoons pub so she could have her veggie breakfast, and I could have a pint of beer for breakfast. Then we came back here via the 99p shop where I bought some essentials like bleach, and some stuff that I most definitely should not have bought like chocolate biscuits.

 Back here we watched a DVD, and had a chat. I had arranged to meet Jodie for a beer or two in the afternoon, and after Aleemah had left, but after trying to describe The Catford Constitutional Club I thought it would be easier for Aleemah to come along and join us for a while. Aleemah doesn't usually spend much time in pubs, and very rarely drinks in them, but she had two halves of still cider - which she rather liked. She thought The CCC was rather unique, and liked it a lot. We were also joined by Jodie's friend Mark.
Aleemah, Jodie and Mark in The CCC
Aleemah, Jodie and Mark in The Catford Constitutional Club.
 Jodie and Mark left first, and Aleemah and myself left just a bit later so that Aleemah would not have to wait long for a train to go home on. I felt remarkably good for some reason - apart from a growing discomfort in the bladder area as I neared home with three and a half pints of beer in me, I seemed to be unusually comfortable while in the pub. Perhaps I was a bit distracted by a growing feeling of hunger. I had only eaten a few snacks instead of having any breakfast or dinner, and was looking forward to something more substantial. I passed several takeaways as I walked back home, but resisted those. I didn't manage to resist ordering some food over the internet though. I now feel rather over stuffed. I expect I'll pay for it tomorrow, but I still feel sort of good right now - apart from a bulging belly !
Saturday 28th December 2013
16:41 GMT

  The rain that started around midday yesterday eventually dried up, and it was dry from late afternoon onwards except for a brief heavy downpour around 10pm. This morning started off very cool. I'm not sure if it was just dew or frost on the car roofs at daybreak, but it was a fairly bright morning. For a few hours either side of midday there was some bright sunshine that warmed my south facing rooms up, but did little for the air outside. It is just 7 C outside my first floor, north facing rear bedroom right now. It might be a degree higher on the south side of the house, but it could equally be a degree cooler at ground level further away from the house. This is what the BBC says about tomorrow - "After a cold and frosty start it will be a fine and dry day with good spells of sunshine. Winds will be lighter so it should feel less cold."

 I had some doubts about whether I would make it to a gig last night, but I made it OK. One reason was that I kept myself awake and alert in the early evening by doing something that many people wonder why I do it so rarely - phone my sister and have a gossip. It turned out that my other sister was up from Devon, or wherever it is she now lives, and so I spoke to both my sisters. The thing is, it took a mere hour to discuss a whole years news. If I phoned more frequently there would be nothing to talk about !
HG Wells Centre in Bromley
This is where the gig was last night.

 I think there was some confusion as to just when the gig was supposed to start. The initial invitation said 7.30pm, and that's when I aimed for (bus timings meant I actually arrived at about 7.45pm), but that was the time the hall opened. The first band, Led Hammer, was not due on until 9pm. It was slightly boring waiting so long for the music to start, but on the other hand, if I had stayed at home any later I might have gone to bed instead of going to the bus stop ! In theory that wait should not have been that boring because I knew well over half the people there by name. The trouble is that though I know them by name, I don't really know them at all. That makes conversation difficult for me, and the noise of sound checks and stuff made conversation even more difficult still.
Led Hammer - Friday 27th December 2013
In highly saturated colours (no flash used) this is the band I principly went to see.
They are Led Hammer. They all have their own bands, but just love playing loud and heavy together.
Geoff Paice on bass, Dylan Tidman on drums, and Steve Blessing on guitar.
Led Hammer - HG Wells Centre - Friday 27th December 2013
Led Hammer - slightly sharper in black and white
Steve Blessing does his party piece
Last night we were treated to Steve Blessing's party piece - playing guitar using his teeth or tongue (not sure which).

 Once the music started it was a nice night - at least it was while Led Hammer were playing. After an hour they gave the stage over to the "headline act" - Whitestar. Whitestar played well, but they played exclusively their own material. In theory that is very good, but it was all unfamiliar to me, and I just couldn't get a handle on it. It must have been about 10.30pm when I discretely said a few goodbyes and slipped out the door.

 I was lucky leaving at that precise moment because I only had 2 minutes to wait for a bus back to Catford. Not having to wait longer was very nice, but there was the added bonus of being on the bus when there was a fairly short, but very heavy fall of rain a minute or two after getting on the bus, and while the bus was going through Bromley. There was little sign that there had been any rain when I got back to Catford.

 One or more of my blood pressure drugs contributes to making an existing condition worse - a feeling of bloat. It is, or was an intermittent condition. The best control was to avoid eating for as many hours as possible before going out anywhere. So yesterday I did my best to avoid eating after about midday. I was helped a bit by eating peanuts and lentils the day before. This gave very explosive emptying effects in the morning.

 Last night I found that three pints of Guinness were making me feel rather full, and I didn't attempt to drink any more after that, but once I got home, and everything had settled down during the bus ride, I felt insanely hungry. I ended up eating rather more than I should have ! It is possible, maybe even probable that what I really wanted was a cigarette to finish my very late dinner, but I didn't have one.

 This morning I did my best to eat a lot more moderately - and failed ! Perhaps it is fortunate that most of my failure was to eat almost double my "5 a day". They say that eating fruit can fill you up. I don't know who these "they" are, but they are idiots. Eating apples does not fill you up. It just makes you want to eat a pig or two to go with the apples. I was able to resist eating a pig or two because I didn't eat any apples, but I did eat a large conference pear, two nectarines, two rather sour plums that were supposed to be sweet and juicy according to the label, and two kiwi fruit. All that acidy fruit did inspire me to eat some cheddar cheese with it. So it was far from healthy.

 I am wondering what to eat tonight. I haven't been out shopping today, or out anywhere else (I haven't even washed today), but I do still have a good selection of food in the fridge and cupboard. I could, and ought to cook some of that, but I feel tempted to order a takeaway. Until I have worked a full month, and been paid a full months wages for it, I really shouldn't be wasting money on takeaways. So that is one reason not to to. I am seeing my friend Aleemah tomorrow brunchtime, and so I can't eat anything deliciuosly smelly like a curry. So that's another reason not to order anything, and yet..............it is so tempting !
Friday 27th December 2013
12:08 GMT

  Some people, SouthEastern Trains to be specific, thought there would be more strong winds last night, and so cancelled all trains until midday today.
trains cancelled until midday because of imagined high winds
 It is a little strange why it was only Southeastern who did this. As far as I am aware Southern Trains, and South West Trains were both running a normal service this morning. I don't need to catch a train, but there are no real signs that any form of service has started from my two stations, nor was there any hint of high winds last night (at least none that I was aware of) ! 

 I'm not even sure if there was any rain last night, but there is now. The day started off almost dry - some of the dampness looked more like dew than any recent rainfall - and it was almost trying to be bright(ish). Eventually the sky got darker, and for the last hour or so it has been raining. It looks as if the rain could last for a long time, but the weather forecast contradicts that - a lot ! It says that it should be bright and sunny now, and that sunshine should last for several more hours before it clouds over again, but stays dry for the rest of the night. At least the forecast has the temperature about right - 11 C. 

 I spent most of yesterday evening reading the 6th, and last of Spike Milligan's war memoir books. The first three books are all mud and bullets, but from then on things change as he is invalided away from the front line, and into the (army) entertainment "business". The last book is mostly about his romance with his Italian girlfriend Toni Fontana, and finishes as, after being de-mobbed from the army, he leaves Italy to travel back to the UK (without Toni, and no indication as to whether their romance ever continued).  In a way it is a sad ending, and left me feeling sort of strange, and full of unanswered questions. For instance;-
  • What was it like being 25 years old ?
  • What is it like being thin enough to be able to sit comfortably on a bus seat......
  • sitting next to someone........
  • with enough room to play a guitar as well ?
  • What is it like being able to play a musical instrument ?
  • What is it like being able to sing ?
  • What is like to be fancied by a woman ?
 In order to finish the book I had continued to read to around about midnight. I didn't feel very tired, and I had all these questions and ideas whirling around inside my head. So I was not expecting to get to sleep for ages, but I think I probably fell asleep soon after turning out the light. On the whole I slept quite well, but when I was woken up by my alarm sounding at 5am I felt rather uncomfortable.  Initially I seemed to be full of wind, but after several noisy visits to the toilets I realised that the curse of one of my blood pressure drugs had struck again. For a while now I have avoided peanuts because I know they are one cause of stomach upsets when mixed with those drugs (or that one particular drug - whichever it is). It is more than likely that all the lentils I had yesterday, and the day before, were also not beyond suspicion. 

 By 10am I was feeling three stone lighter, and the local sewage works was declared an environmental disaster area. With some trepidation I went out to buy some stuff from Tesco. I think I was hoping to find some bargains on the shelves, but I ended up buying normal sort of stuff.. While I was out I didn't have any stomach related troubles, but I did feel sort of weak and tired - mostly when carrying my shopping back, but also to a much lesser extent when walking the 6 minute walk to the supermarket.  This mild tiredness, and more specifically a minor shortage of breath after hardly walking any distance at all is a new thing for me. I am not sure if it is an effect of the by-pass operation, or an effect of one of the drugs that interfere with the workings of mh heart - all for my own good apparently. It is very strange.......a walk of a hundred yards feels like a walk of two miles, and a walk of two miles feels like a walk of two miles plus 6 inches !

 It is ages (2 months ?) since I last walked as far as 3 miles, and I was no more knackered at the end of that than I was 100 yards from the start of that walk.  It is no big deal in one respect, but it hardly inspires me to walk any further than the local shops. I do hope that I can be inspired to walk much further by sun and warmth once the seasons move on a bit. Either that or I am going to have to drop one or more of my drugs. They may be saving my life, but from what ? Sometimes, maybe most times, life is only worth living if it is more than just banal. 

 If I can stay awake for long enough, and if my guts don't start feeling stupid again (stupid guts ????) I hope to be able to go out to a gig tonight. There is one on in Bromley featuring some people I know (although not that well), and I think Jo and Chris may be there too. So it is probably worth trying to get there.........but it would be a lot easier if it wasn't dark several hours before I have to go out. I am still a primitive caveman inside - once night falls it is time to retire inside my cave, and pray to the Gods and Goddesses that the sun will rise again in the morning, and that no grizzly bears or dinosaurs attack in the dark.
Thursday 26th December 2013
15:59 GMT

  I wasn't paying attention to the time, but I guess it was around 9pm last night that there was enough rain, and maybe enough wind to draw attention to itself by beating on the windows. By this morning it was all over, and today has been dry as far as I am aware. There have been occasional short lived sunny spells, but mostly it has been a light grey day.  Tomorrow might be twice as warm as today. Temperatures as high as 10 C are forecast after a rather wet morning.

 I was thinking of smoking a cigarette yesterday but the day seemed to pass by without me doing so. The same is true for the scotch I was going to drink. Maybe I would have had better luck with the ice cream and chocolate I was going to eat if I actually had any. Sadly I didn't ! I did have a nice curry for dinner. A nice spicy chicken pathia with Bombay aloo, and tarka dall as a side dish. That almost used up all my takeaway from Tuesday night.

 TV was terrible yesterday. If it wasn't kids stuff it was vomit inducing xmas stuff.. Fortunately a couple of festive editions of QI and Have I Got News For You were fairly palatable, and a late night (10pm) programme about Morecombe And Wise was quite enjoyable even if it was a repeat. Yesterday was one of those days I was expecting to drag, but it seems I've had so much practice at days like yesterday while recovering from my surgery that I can just shrug them off with complete indifference.

 When I consider what I ate yesterday I conclude that it wasn't all that much. There is no denying that it was probably twice as much as someone, like myself, being a lazy sod all day, actually needed, but was possibly half of what some others may have consumed yesterday. Today I made a half hearted attempt to eat less. Breakfast was some steamed salmon that was hovering on it's use by day, and did have a faint hint that it was about to go off  at any minute.

 My next major meal, which was a rather early lunch, was mostly just fruit, but I couldn't resist having a chunk of that most evil substance, cheese, with it. This afternoon I finally got around to having some booze. In the back of one of my cupboards I had some special xmas ales, and considering the bottle said best before 2001, I thought it was probably time I tested it. I expected it to have turned into flat vinegar, but it was still quite lively, and rather tasty.

 Perhaps that pint of ale inspired me to do some experimental cookery. I still had some plain cooked rice left over from my takeaway. I mixed it with some chicken stock cubes (two, but I think one would have been enough), and a can of red kidney beans plus a splash of hot chilli sauce. What I made was what West Indians call peas and rice (or some of them do - I have seen some use actual green peas or other types of beans). It was quite nice, but half way through eating I decided to liven it up a bit with some cheese.

 In theory I have finshed eating for today, but there is still quite a bit of day to go, and I still have one takeaway item left - some naan bread. I also have another bottle of beer that I might drink. So it is possible that I might cook up yet another meal. I don't know what it might be, but I do have a fair amount of bacon in the fridge !

 TV entertainment today has been little better, and maybe worse than yesterday. I noticed that some stuff  on today was just repeats of stuff  on yesterday (which were repeats being shown on the minor channels anyway). Just for a change I decided to watch a James Bond movie that I had laying around previously unwatched. It was the movie "Die Another Day". I'm glad I saw it at home on my own. Overall it was good, but I found it hard work to watch it. I ended up watching it in half hour segments. I must have the attention span as a hyperactive kid or something. Probably the "or something" because I just wanted to lay down and get my breath back between the interminable explosions.

 Maybe my memory is faulty, but I am sure I remember the big explosions were only at the climax of a film, any film, but some films are just non-stop bloody explosions - particularly big budget, minimum script Hollywood films (or movies as they prefer to know them). I am such a grumpy old man these days.......now get off my lawn, and stay off you young whippersnappers !!!!!
Wednesday 25th December 2013
15:06 GMT

  Yesterday it was dry for the first part of the evening, but it ended up pouring with rain.During the night the sky cleared up, and the first part of the morning was surprisingly bright and sunny. Of course it didn't last that long, and by late morning it was pouring with rain.....then it brightened up.....then it became overcast.....and then it was sunny again. At the moment it is fairly dull, and the temperature is a cool 7 C. More rain is forecast for late tonight, but tomorrow is forecast to be dry, but dull, and even cooler.

 It was nice not having to go into work yesterday. It could theoretically have been boring, but there were a couple of things I did that helped pass the time. The first was to do a few items of laundry. The second was far more interesting. At 5.30pm I met Kevin for a few beers in The Catford Constitutional Club. Initially they had six different beers available, and I tried all 6 in half pint measures.

 It was a bit disappointing that out of the 6 beers there was only one that I liked a lot, and the other 5 didn't seem to satisfy. They were OK, perfectly drinkable, but  lacked that something special. It was doubly disappointing that just as we were leaving a new beer became available, and needed testing. It was a chocolate and chilli flavoured beer, and was very nice, but there just wasn't time to sample it properly (at least another full pint required).

 I had eaten a fair bit before going to the pub, and initially I felt a bit uncomfortable, but that had cleared by the time I got home again. That inspired to do what I had threatened to do - order an industrial sized takeaway of Indian food ! Well maybe not industrial sized, but enough for a good feast last night, and a substantial dinner today. It should have lasted longer, but there was a snag.

 I ordered it from a restaurant I had never tried before. This restaurant specialised in Nepalese cooking, and their "Indian" dishes were all subtly different to the usual fare in a most wonderful way. So I'm afraid I've been a bit of a pig - although perhaps less so than some who would have been tucking into lots of pudding on top of a huge roast dinner, plus chocolates, cakes, and other candies throughout the day.

 One of the things that has taken up some time today - more than expected, but less so than if it had been a certain alternative. I've just updated my PC from Linux Mint 12 to Linux Mint 16. There was no pressing need to do this, but when I updated to Linux Mint 12 from whatever I had on here before, I used the 32 bit edition, and I am sure it ran slower. So this time I've used the 64 bit version, and I think it is running faster again, but I will only know for sure when I give the PC something taxing to do like video editing.

 There are a few little minor tweaks I could do to my new operating system, but it is running well enough for now. So I think I deserve to have a lie down, read a little, and maybe enjoy a snooze for a while. Perhaps when I've done that I might check to see if there is anything not vomit inducing on TV !
Tuesday 24th December 2013
13:31 GMT

  It would probably be an understatement to say that the weather has had a significant influence on life lately ! It started later than expected yesterday, but by 11am the wind was howling, and the rain coming down in torrents. There was a slight lull in the afternoon when the rain was merely heavy, and the wind was just strong, but by early evening the wind was back to gales force, and the rain was coming down in buckets.

 It all caused a bit of disruption to life. Not that far from here there were reports of roads being flooded, and of fallen trees. As might be expected in this day and age, it caused massive disruption to the railway network. Trains from London to Hayes (Kent), which is the service for Catford Bridge, were all terminating at Elmers End (4 stops further on than Catford Bridge) because of a fallen tree. I think I was lucky because mine must have been one of the last trains to run normally as far as Catford Bridge. From then on it was just pure chaos.

 This morning Network Rail went into panic mode, and most services were due to start late - if at all...Here's what was happening at Catford Bridge this morning.
no trains this morning
.......and South West Trains (for Waterloo to Earlsfield services) were doing no better.....
no trains between Waterloo and Earlsfield until at least 10am
.....so even if I had managed to get to Waterloo I would not have been able to get any further until half way through the morning. There was only one sensible thing to do - call in to work to say I was taking a days holiday.

 Thanks to the weather my xmas break has started early - and it is quite handy that it has. One of the things I really wanted to do was to do some extra special xmas shopping. There was no rain first thing this morning, and once the sun had risen it was almost bright. I took advanatge of that to get along to Aldi very soon after they opened this morning. It was fairly quiet in there, and I was able to complete my xmas shopping in relative peace. I thought that as it was xmas I might as well splash out a bit, and bought a nine pack of toilet paper instead of the 4 pack I was going to buy. I also bought some sugar free cola, and some food, but it was the toilet paper that was the important purchase.

 During the middle of the morning there was some bright sunshine, and that inspired me to wash a couple of shirts, a small towel, and a couple of face flannels. There was obviously no point in hanging them outside to dry in this weather, and I am glad I didn't even consider it because by midday there had been a splash of rain, and since then there have been a few periods when the sky has almost turned black, and more rain has fallen. The only good thing is that it seems we have lost the gale force winds.

 I now have quite a reasonable selection of food that will last several days, and plenty of standby, slightly less exciting food that will last for well over a week. With that in mind, I'm not sure if I should carry out plan A, or even if I want to. Plan A is to buy an obscene amount of takeaway curry and eat some tonight, some for xmas breakfast, some for xmas dinner, and some for xmas supper (and maybe even some for boxing day). I did have quite a substantial breakfast this morning, and I don't know if I should have a substantial dinner on top of it. Decisions, decisions......Oh well, I guess it will be a split second decision when the time comes.
Monday 23rd December 2013
08:46 GMT

  It didn't seem to be an exceptionally cold night, and it was only very chilly, instead of "bleedin' freezin'" chilly when I went to the station this morning. The early morning sky didn't seem to be that cloudy. I could see a couple of stars, and the moon was visible through a slight misty haze. The sky is now definitely getting very cloudy now, and it has stopped getting light. The weather forecast predicted that rain would start to fall as I made my way to work. Several hours later it is just starting. If the rest of the forecast is right we can expect torrential rain soon, and it will last the rest of the day. Just to make life more interesting, the rain will be accompanied by gale force winds !

 Maybe I rested at too deep a level over the weekend because once I went to bed last night I was unable to relax and get to sleep. I can't remember if I actually went to sleep during yesterday afternoon, but I guess I may well have done so. The day seemed to go quite quickly, and I didn't exactly do much to help pass the time. I thought I felt tired when I went to bed at about 8pm. I read for an hour, and when I put my magazine down I thought I was falling asleep.

 Of course as soon as I turned out the light I lost all desire for sleep. It must have been close to midnight before I had my first proper sleep, and it wasn't until 3am that I think I fell into a proper deep sleep. By 5am, when my alarm went off, I was really sleeping at a professional level. Sadly I had to wake up and get up. By the time I left for work I didn't feel sleepy, but I didn't much feel like coming to work. Yet here I am, and here I am looking forward to going home again !
Sunday 22nd December 2013
13:41 GMT

  I'm not sure if it rained last night - I was safely tucked up in bed quite early in the evening. This morning started with a hint of brightness, and by mid morning it was quite sunny. It looks like the sky could stay at least 50% clear for some time yet. Currently it is almost 11 C, although the official temperature, taken closer to ground level, is possibly a degree or two less. There is not much wind at the moment, but what there is probably introduces a wind chill of another degree. It's probably not bad for the shortest day of the year (or was that yesterday ?).

 I still didn't feel that wonderful yesterday afternoon. There was nothing specific I can blame for feeling off colour. It was a combination of little annoyances. It may be that I underestimated how much energy is still needed to heal all my wounds, and going back to work last Monday has drained me. That would explain my doctors reluctance to sign me fit for work again. I find it difficult to believe, but maybe he does know more than me !

 I started to feel better last night, but by that time it was too late to do anything about it because I had already committed myself to an early night. With the benefit of hind sight that may not have been such a bad idea. This morning I felt fit enough to go and get some shopping in Tesco, and I was - nearly ! It was not a great effort to go, but neither was it a trivial one. The really sad thing is that I forgot to buy some toilet paper - and I estimate my current stocks will run out at 4.29pm on Boxing day.

 Not content with almost wearing myself out by going shopping in Tesco, I have also expended a few calories washing a couple of long sleeve shirts, and three t-shirts. Towards the end, all that rinsing and wringing out again, was starting to feel too much like hard work, and now a few of my arm muscles are very gently complaining. I'm not anticipating any further problems from them, but you never know.

 The bit of me that is still complaining most loudly is my left hand. Even after nearly 4 months have passed since my operation, it is still not back to normal. The good news is that it feels like it might be going through another transition. I've been caught out too many times to make any more than the weakest of predictions, but in my wildest dreams it is now sometimes feeling like it is almost there.

 Currently it is still my little finger that is the worst affected, and my ring finger comes next. The other two fingers, plus my thumb, have been very close to normal for ages now (and by very close I mean about 99% at worst, and 100% good for a lot of the time). For maybe a week now my ring finger, and to a slightly lesser extent, my little finger too, has had quite long periods of about 75% normal sensation mixed with 25% tingling. Sometimes it's worse, and very rarely, for short periods of time, they can be a useful bit better.

 When I look back over the week, there have been many times when I have completely forgotten there is anything wrong with my left hand. It is still a bit weak, but I can grab things with ease now, and my grip is strong enough for my hairbrush, or a bus grab pole. Every now and then I am reminded that the nerves are still not fully healed by a bad attack of the tingles. Rightly or wrongly, I think these attacks herald another change, and a change for the better. I don't think I've had one today, but I had a few yesterday. If I was insanely optimistic I might think I would get full feeling back for xmas, but realistically it might not even happen in time for the new year. I'm sure it won't be a lot longer though.

 If I had a sudden attack of the something or anothers, I could possibly end up going out again to Aldi to buy more of my favourite toilet paper, but I wouldn't be surprised if I end up doing precisely nothing apart from eating, farting, snoozing, and sleeping for the rest of the day, and through the night until it's time to get up for work again tomorrow morning.
Saturday 21st December 2013
12:15 GMT

  The weather was just like the forecast.........late in the evening it started to rain, and it is still raining now. Sometime the rain has been quite heavy. At the moment it is more like drizzle..........at least it was a little while ago. It seems to be pouring down again. All this wet air that is coming in off the Atlantic Ocean carries a tiny bit of heat, and it has raised the temperature up to 12 C this afternoon. It still feels very chilly to me, but there could be a special reason for that.

 Drinking my half bottle of Tesco own brand Scotch Whiskey was just enough to get me social enough to join in the xmas party at work for at least 20 minutes. It was also enough to allow me to concentrate on finishing a job that I had promised to get finished by xmas. I will be working next Monday, and xmas eve. So I've finished the job two days early !
xmas party at work
It almost looks like I was not the only one who was not over thrilled about the xmas party, but I think it was just my timing when I took the photo. There were half a dozen or so behind me too.

 After taking the obligatory photos, and finishing my work, I was surprised at how late I had stayed at the party this year. Last year I think I escaped as early as 1pm, but this year I was so late that I only got the train before my usual train at Waterloo East. I think that made me 33 minutes early - it's a funny interval at that time because it's just when they switch from the daytime timetable to the rush hour timetable.

 It was very close to dark when I arrived back in Catford. I wanted to get some shopping, but I didn't seem to have the energy......plus I was a little drunk ! So I went into the Turkish supermarket and bought an assortment of stuff. Some of it was nice, and some less so. The worst was probably something I think was called "student sausage". It was a very smoky, and very garlicky, spicy sausage. Perhaps at another time it might have been good, maybe used as an ingredient to some sort of more complicated dish, but by itself it was not such a good idea.

 The tender stomach I had been suffering from in the morning was but a distant memory until I had that sausage. For the rest of the night I was burping up the flavour of it, and that was not pleasant. Later in the night I started suffering from bad wind, and the flavour of my farts was incredibly offensive even to me !!!

 On top of belching and farting, I also started to cough a lot last night. I can't help but thinkng that somehow it is tied in with the wet weather, but considering I didn't actually go outside into the rain, it is hard to imagine how. All I do know is it rather spolied my night, and left my chest scar feeling rather sore. Taking it all in, and then adding some fatigue, and possibly even some late hangover, I felt pretty lousy this morning.

 Feeling like that there were only two things I could do. The first was to send a message to my friend Aleemah saying I wouldn't be seeing her this morning, and the second was to go back to bed again. I did get up for short periods of time several times during the night - sometimes as short as 10 minutes, and once for just over an hour - but it wasn't until 11am when I finally decided I ought to get up and try and stay up.

 Since then I've had some breakfast and watched half an hour or so of TV. There wasn't that much on to watch, and while flicking around the channels I came across the last 5 minutes of an American programme called "The Big Bang Theory". It seemed like it might be a comedy programme set in the digs of some students. The actual setting or plot was irrelevant as far as I was concerned. What amazed me was that I couldn't believe that they were still using such a crap, obviously dubbed, laughter track. Everytime one of the cast made some undecipherable remark there would be this big burst of synthetic laughter for no apparent reason. It made the BBC licence fee seem ever such good value if that was the alternative.

 That 5 minutes of American TV probably didn't really help how I still feel this morning. I am not coughing at the moment, and I am not farting and belching, but I still feel very off colour. I will try and wash a few shirts today, but I can't see myself doing much more than that. It is time for a rest to get over a week at work (minus one day when I went to see my doctor). One thing I have done already is to prepare a few of the pictures I took at The Catford Constitutional Club on Thursday........
xmas tree at The Catford Constitutional Club on Thurs 19th Dec 2013
Almost sitting in an alcove that is begging to have a stage built on it for live bands is a xmas tree.
The Thursday night drinking gang
Not a full turnout, but with the addition of Jodie - The Thursday Night Drinking Gang
Alan, Paul, Chris, Andy, and Jodie
Ladies toilet - Catford Constitutional Club
You probably wouldn't realise that this is inthe ladies toilet in The Catford Constitutional Club -
- thanks to Jodie for taking the picture for me.
Gents toilet
The gents toilet is a little bit plainer !
So plain that the urinals are bolted straight on to plastered walls, and below them is unprotected plain wooden floor boards. That lot is going to rot before next year is over !
Friday 20th December 2013
11:11 GMT

  Just like the night before, it rained last night, but this morning it was dry and cold. The temperature was 5 C or maybe a bit less, but not quite cold enough for a frost - which is surprising because the sky was clear with a bright moon and stars when I set off to come to work. There has been some sunshine this morning but it is still very chilly (I was going to say extremely chilly, but those from Canada would say I was being far too soft !!). It is still bright outside now, but the sun has now gone behind light cloud, and it could be like this until sunset. Sometime after dark more rain is forecast.

 I felt quite tired yesterday afternoon, and it felt like a bit of a struggle to go out for a drink. Initially I met up with Jodie in The Catford Constitutional Club, and half an hour later we were joined by the Thursday night gang. The CCC has been cleaned up a bit since it's opening night, but it is still a bit rough and ready. It was quiet enough when I first got there to take a few more photos of the interior, and with Jodie's help that includes some pictures of inside the ladies toilet - which with it's soft furnishings is like no other ladies toilet in existence !

 After testing all the different beers on offer it seemed late enough to go home. I think it was barely 7pm when I left there almost (maybe 86%) sober, but perhaps not sober enough to pass by the kebab shop for some dinner. It is possibly unfortunate that I have to pass that establishment on the way home from that drinking venue. On this occasion (and probably future ones as well because I don't like waiting around) I didn't have a kebab, but had rather traditional cod and chips instead - which was a sometimes too rare treat. Sometimes you forget just how good the basic things can be when there are so many exotic other choices around.

 I'm unsure if it was the beer, the fish and chips, or just the ongoing effects of my blood pressure drugs, but my guts ended up feeling very tender again this morning. Even now, with the morning nearly over, I don't feel that comfortable. I would dearly love a lay down, and maybe a snooze, but of course that is impossible while I am at work earning untold riches. [I've just got my pay slip for the end of this month, and while it is still not up to full strength, coming back to work has made it so lush compared to sick pay !]

 It won't be long now before our work xmas party starts - officially at midday. Once that gets going I may be able to settle my stomach with some booze. I am not keen on the wine we usually have, and I'm even less keen on the warm fizzy beer that is probably on offer. So I've brought in a half bottle of scotch. A few tots of that may do something for the tender feeling in my midriff (which I think is finally getting better by itself now), and maybe it will make me feel more sociable. I find the xmas parties here to be really tedious, and for the last few years I've ducked out very early. Maybe with some booze that I can enjoy I will stay a bit longer, but maybe I might still get away early enough to do most of my journey in daylight.

 Tonight there is a gig I initially really wanted to go to, but I am less keem now I know who the drummer is. I am also not terribly keen on the idea that it doesn't start until 10pm. It is going to be really hard staying awake late enough to go out, probably in the rain, to attend the gig. I am going to try not to even think about it now, and just see what happens closer to the time, but I fear I will actually be in bed, possibly fast asleep, before the gig starts. Maybe I can force myself to stay awake if I process the pictures I took last night, but as interesting as they may be, they are not high on my list of priorities.
Thursday 19th December 2013
12:16 GMT

  During the night there was some quite heavy rain, but sometime in the small hours the sky cleared. This morning it looks like a very pleasant day - a lot of the sky is blue, and the sun is bright and shining. It's just a shame that it is only 5 C.....at least it was earlier on. I notice it is now 8 C. The forecast suggests it will stay like this until mid afternoon, but by mid evening it will be raining again.

 I felt a bit tired on my way home from work last night, but nowhere near as tired as I expected. I thought there might be some drinking going on last night, but that semi tiredness, plus the need to get a bit of shopping in, persuaded me not to bother going home via the pub. Subsequently I had a hint that I may have misunderstood about when the drinking was taking place. I think it is actually tonight.

 Once I got home and rested a bit I felt fine. I still fancied a drink, but decided the best thing would be just a large night cap before going to bed. I should have been a bit careful about how much I drank because I was seeing my doctor this morning, but it seemed senseless to leave less than half an inch of whisky in the bottom of the bottle...........

 Unlike the previous couple of nights, I fell asleep easily when I went to bed, and slept non stop for at least 4 hours. I was awake for half an hour or so in the middle of the night, and didn't sleep all that well afterwards, but I must have got in enough sleep because I found it almost impossible to have a good lay in this morning. I was aiming to get up at about 9am, but by 8am I was washing my hair and having a shower.

 I think it was about 9.30am when I had a fairly big breakfast. It was all part of an experiment. Never before had I gone to see my doctor (or any of the nurses) without fasting since the previous evening. Having discovered that with lots of blood diverted to the digestive system the blood pressure in my arm was a lot lower, I decided to see if the effect would last long enough to alter my results if the doctor checked my blood pressure. It did, and I achieved what was possibly the lowest reading a doctor has ever taken of my blood pressure.

 At the surgery we discussed the results of my blood tests. My cholestrol level was still very acceptable, but my blood glucose level was creeping up since the previous blood test back in September. That one came back as very acceptably low. We had a minor dispute as to whose idea it was for me to go back on the diabetic drug Metformin. He thought he had suggested it, but I insisted that it was my idea, and then only to use it while I was at home having difficulty controlling my eating.

 One other thing I discussed with my doctor was the strange popping/clicking noise like sensation that I get from my chest when making certain movements. They are similar, or even the same as those I used to get when attempting to sleep on my side when my chest was still stapled up after the operation. They seemed to get much, much worse after lugging home far too much heavy shopping from Aldi a few Sundays ago. The doctor checked the scar down my chest, and prodded a few places. He said it all looked fine to him, but with the usual advice - keep an eye on it and check back if I think it was getting worse. Overall he was pleased with my recovery from heart surgery, and needed little persuasion to let me go back to work provided a few precautions are taken.
fit for work
 I am to avoid excessive physical exertion or stress. I love that last bit - stress ! I always try and avoid stress at work. It happens now and then, but is rare. Now I have a stick to beat the head of anyone who tries to stress me for the next three months. I love it !!

 So I am basically fit. I'm recovering well from heart surgery, and I am looking after my blood OK. It is just a shame that I can still feel quite rotten from time to time. Most of it is lack of practice with anything except laying on my back and eating too much. I am expecting some good improvements now I'm back at work. The real improvements will come with warmer spring weather, and with losing the weight I've put on over the last couple of months (and if all goes well - losing even more than that).

 I'm to give another blood sample at the end of January, and see the doctor a week after that, but basically I am now free of medical intervention, and I can run my own life again. It feels so good that I think I'll have a lie down now :-)
Wednesday 18th December 2013
13:26 GMT

  I don't think it was expected, but there was some rain early yesterday evening. Fortunately I was on the train home when we passed through the shower. Today feels a lot cooler than yesterday. It may just be the wind making it feel that way, or it may just be me because I don't think the temperature is as low as it feels. Late this afternoon, and into early evening, more rain is forecast, but this morning actually saw some sunshine and blue skies !
weak winter sunshine in Earlsfield
This picture makes it look rather dim outside, but it is just the reflection of the sun in the windows just to the left of centre that was reducing the exposure of my mobile phone camera. That reflection was actually dazzling to the naked eye.

 I didn't feel that wonderful at work yesterday. In fact I felt pretty rotten. I was tired, and I ached. I perked up a little bit on the way home, but it was still a huge relief to get home again. I thought I was going to have a very early night, but after I had rested a bit it seemed less important. I was still in bed, and trying to sleep a bit earlier than usual, and I did manage to fall asleep early as well. It didn't last though. I was soon awake again, and coughing. I do seem to be going through a phase of coughing rather a lot at the moment.

 It rather messed up my sleep, and I did wonder how I would ever be up in time to go to work. Oddly enough I found it quite easy to get ready to go to work on time, and despite a lack of sleep I felt far better coming to work today compared to yesterday. My coughing was quite intermittent, but when I was coughing it was very annoying. Every now and then I still break out in a few minutes worth of dry coughing. As well as coughing, I've also almost dozed off a couple of times while reading stuff on my PC screen.

 Despite the coughing and dozing, I actually feel far better than yesterday - not only physically, but mentally too. The pay I will be getting for these three days of work will have earned me almost as much as an entire month of sick pay. Tomorrow I will be off on annual leave, and that's another days pay. Then on Friday it is our xmas party here at work. Very little work will be done on Friday, and there is a good chance that I'll be leaving early, but it's still another days pay. By the weekend I'll be feeling quite rich by comparison with what I have been getting in my pay packet for the last 3 or 4 months. In all I should be getting about half a months normal pay, and half a months sick pay, and that is going to feel like luxury (although I must remember that it is not, and I'll still have to be very careful with my spending until the end of January when I should be back to a normal pay packet for the month).

 Tonight, if I feel up to it, and I think I will, I'll be having a very minor spending spree.......well not really, but I want to go home via Tesco. It's not essential, but it is highly desirable. Without some shopping I have very limited choices for dinner tonight, and nothing for the semi substantial breakfast I intend to have before going to see my doctor. having a gut full of food that is digesting diverts the blood to the stomach, and lowers the apparent blood pressure in the arm (where it is measured). It's a naughty little trick that I hope will work to keep my doctor a little happier about my progress, and maybe enough for him to sign a form declaring me fit enough for work. As much as I would like the time off during the winter months, I find I want my pay even more !!
Tuesday 17th December 2013
08:14 GMT

  After the wet start, the middle of yesterday was dry, but it stayed very dull and grey. The rain started again when I was half way home from work. It was quite heavy while I waited for my train at Waterloo East, but was little more than drizzle as I walked from the station to home. This morning is a lot cooler, perhaps just 4 or 5 C, but it is dry. The forecast thinks the sun may briefly peep through the gloom a couple of times later this morning, but it will mostly be a grey day, and staying rather cool.

 I didn't feel that bad at work yesterday. I did start to feel a bit fatigued by early afternoon, but after a while I got my second wind. I was surprised how good I felt when I got home. This was reflected in my blood sugar level, and blood pressure. Both were rather satisfactory. Once I started to relax I felt more tired, but not devastatingly so as I feared I might feel.  In a way it was nice to feel a gentle tiredness come over me just after 8pm. By 8.30pm I was in bed, and I think I may have been asleep not too long after that.

 Everything seemed right for a good nights sleep last night, but it didn't happen. I have no idea what time it was, but I think I had probably been asleep for little over an hour when I woke up with my throat feeling like it was full of dust. I coughed and spluttered for some time before I could settle down again. I didn't get that dry dusty feeling again, but I did wake up another 3 or 4 times with a cough, and also a blocked nose.

 I wasn't coughing before going to bed, and I stopped soon after I got up. I think something similar was happening over the weekend when I thought I was going down with a cold. It makes me think that there is something odd about my bed linen - which was fresh on at the weekend. I am wondering if I didn't rinse it properly when I washed it last time (back when the days were hot and sunny), and I am breathing in dried detergent dust or something. If it was easy to wash it all over again I would do just that, but  it's not the right weather for drying duvet covers and stuff. So I'll leave it for now and see what happens tonight.

 I don't know how much to blame on my bad sleep, but I feel pretty rotten this morning. I am starting to feel better now, but coming into work was a bit of a trial. Various bits of me ached or hurt. They might have had the same core cause, but I seemed to have lower back pain and stomach pain. Those two places plus my feet seemed to be the worst places for pain, but I had some discomfort from my chest too.

 When my left hand got too cold it became sore too, but I count that separately because it is a known failure area, and it is getting better. The improvement is glacially slow, but it is there. While I was working yesterday I had to frequently rest the side of my hand on the bench to steady it. The last time I did that it was quite uncomfortable. Yesterday I could still feel some very gentle pins and needles now and then, but it was hardly bothersome at all. The worst of the pins and needles sensation is now confined to the tips of my little finger and ring finger - with the little finger being worse - and there are now times when even that becomes quite feint. Past experience suggests that what lasts for a few seconds here and there slowly turns into minutes, and then into hours. Then one day it will be gone or ever.......but I think it could still be a month or two before that happens.

work
 The work I did yesterday was to solder fine wires from stator windings onto printed circuit boards. It is a job that a trained 12 year old could do - and they wouldn't even need a magnifying glass to see what they were doing, let alone needing a microscope like I did. We haven't got any cheap child labour here. So the next best thing was me ! I don't need training, and it was just the sort of job that I wanted to do on my first day back at work. My productivity was pathetic, but I never lose sleep about that, and I could just sit there mindlesly soldering away without a care in the world ! I'll be doing the same today, but I might aim to do about half of what I might be capable of rather than a third :-)

Waterloo station forecourt Monday 16th December 2013 - about 4pm, and a Coke Zero promotional giveaway
 On my way home yesterday there was a promotion taking place on the forecourt of Waterloo station. I think it was for Coke Zero (or is it Zero Coke ??), but this morning I am not so sure it wasn't for Pepsi Max. I did notice several posters around the place for Pepsi Max. They are both pretty horrible so I don't really care one way or another.
Monday 16th December 2013
08:57 GMT

  The forecast said there would be no rain this morning - it was wrong ! The rain is not heavy, but there is enough of it to be annoying. Fortunately it is a surprisingly mild morning - maybe it could be as high as 12 C. Judging by the way it is still almost night time dark outside, this rain could continue for a while.

 I can't say I feel that wonderful about it, but I am back at work this morning. It wasn't hard getting up at 5am this morning. In fact, just like before I went long term sick, I woke up a few minutes before my alarm was due to go off. I think things might have been different if it had been a lot colder, but it didn't feel freezing in the bathroom, and so taking a shower was fairly pleasant. I only had three problems getting to work.

 The first was that I had to walk to the station in drizzly rain. For some reason both my feet felt a bit sore this morning, but it was mostly my right foot that was playing up. It was not an agonising pain, but it was annoying. The last problem was that I had some trapped wind and stuff. I had to visit the toilets at Waterloo to get a bit more comfortable, and then, horror of horrors, I also had to visit the toilets at Clapham Junction. Perhaps I am being a bit harsh here with my "horror of horrors". This morning the toilets at Clapham Junction were merely a bit unpleasant instead of their more usual pits of complete despair.

 Now I've been at work for well over an hour, and my room has started to warm up, I guess I don't feel that bad. I've had a light breakfast. That has settled my stomach down, and made me more comfortable. Now I don't have to walk any great distances my feet feel OK. In fact I am not really in any significant pain at all right now. My only problem is that I have a strong urge to go outside for a fag break. It's not really the nicotine that I want - I just want to go outside for a breath of fresh air, and to stretch my legs. If it wasn't still pouring with rain I probably would go out for an imaginary fag.

 This stopping smoking lark brings up all sorts of odd revelations or feelings. For instance why did I seem to be gasping for a fag when my train got to London Bridge this morning ? It was one place I never used to have a fag. So it can't be habit. Maybe it was a need for nicotine, but why then and not at any other time. It is all rather mysterious.
Sunday 15th December 2013
16:28 GMT

  When the sun first rose this morning it really looked as if it was going to be a fine sunny day, but looks can be deceptive. Very soon after sunrise it started to cloud over, and the sun was completely hidden in less than an hour. It was unseasonally mild with a temperature of 13 C, but that came at the price of rain. It was mostly light drizzle that seems to have fallen almost non stop since 9am this morning. According to the latest forecast it will be dry with a temperature of 12 C when I go to work tomorrow, but bucketting down with rain at the same temperature when I leave work to go home again.

 Yesterday evening my cough was rather active, my nose was almost starting to run, and I had the sweats. It didn't look good for today, and it was looking likely that I might still be too rough to attempt to go to work tomorrow, but I do seem to have improved a great deal since then. Before going to bed last night I had a large glass of scotch (just the one seemed like the right dose), and I think that eventually that helped me get some sleep.....and the more sleep I got, the more sleep I could get !

I think there is a good chance that I got at least 8 hours sleep last night, and maybe more. It wasn't non stop. At first it was quite intermittent, but as the night passed each session of sleep became longer and longer. I also seemed to cough less and less. This is possibly how non smokers fare when they get a cold. This morning my chest, and in particular my big scar, was quite tender after all the coughing, and it still is now despite not coughing that much at all all day.

 When I first got up I wanted some sort of breakfast, and I wanted it to be something that could be imagined to be therapeutic. So I first had a can of French onion soup, and followed that with a can of Thai onion soup. Onion soup is not quite as well regarded as chicken soup (sometimes known as Jewish penicillin), but is known as good stuff for a cold in some quarters.

 Later on, for elevenses, I had 5 little clementines as a source of vitamin C and stuff. I followed those by some chocolate biscuits - partly to take the taste away, and mostly because I could ! For lunch/early dinner I had gammon steak. That has no therapeutic properties that I know of apart from being a psychological boost/anti-depressant - because it is so tasty. I had some apples and conference pears with it in lieu of vegetables.

 I think I am feeling not bad now, and at the very worst, hundreds of times better than how I thought I might feel. If I continue to improve at this rate I will actually be well when I go to work in the morning. The best I had hoped for was "well enough" ! I suspect my scar may still be a little tender, but even without the after effects of coughing, I knew it would not be perfect - I think it will be a few more months before it is completely just history.

 I can't make up my mind if I am looking forward to going back to work, or if I am dreading it. I guess it's a bit of both. In the absence of summer it is definitely the best alternative to getting fitter again, and perhaps getting my trousers to fit properly. Back in September, before my operation, I was thinking that I would soon be ordering some smaller trousers. Right now it is getting close to having to order bigger ones !

 The final decision to make is.......should I try and get to bed and asleep extra early tonight, or should I not bother because I know all too well that it won't work - even with a extra large scotch or three. Perhaps I'll just go to bed a little bit earlier and see what happens. I guess that in reality it won't matter how much sleep I get - getting up at 5am, and actually going out to get my train well before it's light is going to be a big culture shock !!! (Worse still - it will probably still be dark when I get to work).
Saturday 14th December 2013
19:53 GMT

  Today and yesterday have been milder than expected with temperatures just about nudging into double figures in the afternoon, and not desperately cold at night either. Even 4 hours or so after sunset I am still seeing 11 C on my outside thermometer. If the sun had managed more than a few weak short bursts of sunshine this morning, and had then managed to shine this afternoon, I might have been able to say it had been a nice day. Of course things could have been far worse. My friend Mike, living in Canada, drew my attention to the weather where he lives - very, very, very chilly !
The weather in Ontario, Canada
 On Friday morning I went out and did some shopping in Aldi. Once again I made sure that I didn't weight myself down with too much to carry, and wouldn't damage my chest scar like I am sure I did a couple of Sundays ago. Despite that it seemed quite like hard work - and to a lesser extent that included walking there. I knew that something wasn't quite right, and as it turned out, incorrectly assumed that I was just getting too fat (I am, but today I realise there is a better reason).

 In the evening I went to see Chain play in The Catford Ram. Technically it was an excellent gig, and being so local to me, and with it starting so early, I should have really enjoyed myself - but I didn't ! I had a few little aches and pains that made the evening just a bit harder to enjoy. The worst was probably an intermittent pain in my right foot. It is bad enough to be annoying, but not enough to stop me. What seemed like the very worst thing was that I didn't seem to be able to enjoy my beer.

 Not enjoying my beer was quite serious ! I forced a few pints down, and stayed to the end of the gig, but I didn't fancy staying out any later. I think I had the opportunity to get a lift to The William IV pub in Elmers End where Stone Blind were playing. I know, although not that well, all the guys in the band, and originally I was thinking of going along to see the second half of their set. I didn't feel up to it, and went straight home soon after Chain finished their gig.
Jo Corteen - Catford Ram - Fri 13th Dec 2013
Jo Corteen
Chris Mayer - Catford Ram - Fri 13th Dec 2013
Chris Mayer pulling a rather strange face
Chain - Catford Ram - Fri 13th Dec 2013
Dave Griffiths, Jo Corteen, Guy Harris, Ravi Sharman, Chris Mayer = Chain

 I didn't sleep very well last night, and on this occasion there was a reason - I kept coughing. It is another case of my lungs and airways slowly coming back to life after not smoking for 3 and half months now - but on this occasion there was a particular trigger - I think. Today it seems like I have a cold. I've had intermittent bouts of coughing all day, and increasingly frequent incidences of a blocked nose. My nose has not started pouring like Niagara yet, and with luck it won't, but this is really starting to feel like a cold.

 I hope that it will be just a 24 hour thing. I really have to go back to work on Monday, and it is going to seem like a right mess up if I have to go sick before I've even finished being on sick leave ! On the whole I don't feel that bad except when my cough gets a bit out of control, but even that could have long term benefits. About every fith cough is not dry, and an old dog end, or ball of tar comes up. Eventually I will expell 40 or more years of them, and all the propaganda says I should feel much better for it. We'll see !

 I have a suspicion that I will have another lousy night tonight. Fortunately there is nothing I have to do, and I could, if needed, or if I could stand to do it, stay in bed all day and do nothing. As I come to the end of writing this I seem to have broken out in a firece sweat. So I may well have a temperature as further proof of illness. Maybe I need a scotch on the rocks to cool me off :-)
Thursday 12th December 2013
16:48 GMT

  I looked out the window at 4.30am, and all the cars were encrusted in a thick layer of frost. By 9am the frost seemed to have melted, but it was still remarkably cold outside - maybe not like in Canada where I friend reported -10 C with wind chill making it feel like -19 C - but quite cold enough for me !! It's not been a very bright day, but a few flashes of sunshine have somehow managed to get the temperature up to 7 C, but when I look up into the night sky, and see how clear it is around the moon, I can't help but think it is going to get damn cold overnight ! Here's the moon over Catford just 20 minutes or so ago.
the moon 12th December 2013

 My sleep pattern seems to be slowly changing. I now seem to sleep quite solidly from too late (midnight, or a bit later) until between 4 and 6am. I usually aim to take my morning medication at 6am. There is no good reason why after that I go back to bed again. In fact it is probably a silly idea if I am ever to get back to the proper pattern for work. I obviously need extra sleep because I frequently don't wake again until gone 9am. These are hours of sleep that I should be getting before midnight instead of the morning.

 Having woken up again at 9.25am, I couldn't face having a shower and washing my hair straight away. I'm not sure why this is. I enjoy taking a shower, and I usually feel better for having one, but somehow I seem to need to be in the right frame of mind to do it. So I watched All Creatures Great And Small on TV again, and then washed me and my hair.

 Once I was all clean and dry I should have done something, but I just couldn't be bothered.  I  was going to get some shopping today, but because I had no urgent need of anything I, once again, couldn't be bothered. This winter, like most winters, I suffer from SAD - Seasonally Affected Disorder (or Depression). For some it is a serious, perhaps dangerous condition, but I regard it as  no more significant than feeling hungry, or needing to go to the toilet. It is just something that happens, and can be amusing in some respects - maybe less amusing when I have to force myself to go to work in the morning - but while I can hunker down in my warm "man cave" I am more than happy to sit here twiddling my thumbs, reading, or dozing off !

 I was originally looking forward to going out for a beer about now, but I am sure Chris and the gang won't be drinking tonight because Chris, as part of Chain, will be playing in The Catford Ram tomorrow night at 6pm - when I will definitely be going out. I could have met my friend Jodie for a quick beer when she travels through Catford on her way up town for a gig, and I would have done if it was her only entertainment for the night, but under the circumstances I decided to stay in.

 Maybe I might treat myslef to a few glasses of scotch tonight (big ones !), or maybe I won't bother, but essentially I will be doing a lot more nothing at all. Tomorrow I will need to make a bit more effort because some shopping, although still not absolutely essential, would be getting quite desirable, and I will try and get out to get some in the morning. Then it may just be a matter of resting until it's time to wander down the road for a great night out with Chain.
Wednesday 11th December 2013
18:00 GMT

  The main feature of the weather this morning, lunchtime, and afternoon was the mist. Somewhere above the mist there may have been a sunny day, and there were a few times when the sun did try and break through the mist, but on the whole it was a light grey day. The temperature stayed fairly low today. I didn't observe early enough to see it, but I suspect the temperature was low enough for a good frost at first light. During the day, the highest temperature I noted was 5 C. The lowest I've seen is right now, and it is barely over 3 C. It could easily go below zero tonight.

 I can't seem to do anything about it - once again I could not get to sleep until gone midnight. Once I did get to sleep I slept well, and slept in quite late. I woke a couple of times during the night. At about 4am I woke for a pee, and filled up the sample tube that I took along to the surgery this morning. At 6am I woke up and took my morning medication, and then, much to my surprise, I fell asleep again and didn't wake until gone 9am.

 It was probably close to 9.30am before I had thrown off the last veils, aches, pains, creaks, stiffness (take your pick) of sleep, and went to have a shower. Then it took another 20 minutes before I felt warmed up enough to walk to the surgery to drop my urine sample off with reception. Then I raced back to watch All Creatures Great And Small on the Drama channel on Freeview.

 I was unsure what I was going to do once the programme finished. Initially I lay on my bed and started reading, but after a while I got a phone call from a friend. He has been, or will be upgrading his computer, and wondered if I wanted some of the bits from his old computer. It is rare for me to turn down stuff like that, and a few hours later I was in possession of a couple of spare hard drives, a motherboard, and some memory. There is a possibility that the motherboard is faulty, but it could equally be a faulty strip of RAM. There is even a possibility that one of the hard drives has a boot sector virus ! I think I can deal with that safely using some free disk tools - specifically gParted. Several hours later we finished talking about this that and the other, and he went home again.

 One of the things about chatting for much of the afternoon is that I didn't get my usual afternoon snooze. In theory that should be the key to me getting to sleep earlier tonight. If I can keep up a similar sleep schedule for the next 5 days I should be a lot closer to being able to get to work on Monday without excess stress. Many other bits of me would seem ready for work - although a few bits are touch and go.

 My chest still makes strange internal noises when flexed in certain ways. I have noticed what looks like blood behind the main scar in a few small places. It really is looking like I almost pulled myself apart when I struggled to bring far too much heavy shopping home the Sunday before last. I've probably set back the healing by a 5 or 6 weeks, but it doesn't seem to be causing me any problem, and will eventually heal (I presume).

 The scar on my left leg, where the surgeons extracted a vein for the transplant, is still not fully healed, but you have to look closely to find the last couple of millimetres that are still slightly damp. My right foot is almost not sore today. Quite why it sometimes is sore is a bit of a mystery. It has nothing to do with my operation as far as I know - except it first became sore when on a forced 2 mile exercise walk - which might count as being indirectly a result of my operation.

 The bit of me that I have complained about far too often, and made stupid predictions about that never seem to come true, is my left hand. Over the weeks and months it has changed how it feels. Sometimes it feels better, and sometimes worse, but if I am patient enough to wait several days I can occasionally make a valid pronouncement about how it is doing. I think I can make one now.

 For the past few days I have had longer and longer periods when my hand doesn't significantly hurt, and when I can just about feel texture under my little and ring fingers. Perhaps more importantly than that, the strength is slowly returning to my hand. I can now grip a hair brush quite well, and even more important than that, I almost have enough strength in my hand to grip a grab pole on a bus tightly enough to keep myself from falling over when the bus lurches. That was definitely not the case a few weeks back, but even last Saturday, when I went to see Chain playing in The Chatterton Arms, I felt quite confident about my grip while on the bus. It would be premature to say that it will be as good as fully healed when I go to work on Monday, but I wouldn't go as far as to say it would be impossible.
Tuesday 10th December 2013
14:10 GMT

  This morning started with a freezing mist. Traditionlly it should have been a freezing fog, but it wasn't thick enough for that. It was certainly cold enough for a good covering of frost on the parked cars. Some sunny periods managed to drive the frost back, and the current temperature is now almost 10 C. It seems to be getting cloudier now. Maybe there won't be a nice sunset tonight, and maybe, if the cloud does get thick enough, there will be no frost in the morning.

 Last night I finished eating by 6pm, and almost 2 hours later I had stopped drinking anything but plain water. This was all in aid of the blood sample I gave at the surgery this morning. It is to assess how my body has coped with my diet, or total lack of it, over the last couple of months. It should bring up some terrible results.........and yet when I checked my blood glocose level this morning it was only slightly high - high by my reckoning, borderline by some nurses reckoning, and "nothing to worry about at the moment" by other nurses reckoning.........oh, and incredibly high by the reckoning of the very first nurse I ever saw about diabetes. Her target was low enough, or preferably lower still, to cause a diabetic coma !

 I didn't feel that wonderful last night, and it wasn't anything to do with my fasting. In fact the fasting may have helped. I seemed to be rather bloated with the most foul smelling wind you could ever imagine. I have suffered from wind to some extent or another for many, many years now. It comes and goes, but never ever was it ever so foul smelling. My initial idea was to blame it on a side effect of one of the medications I am on, but I wonder if some of the antibiotics I've had since my operation have radically altered my gut flora and fauna. It could be a mixture of both.

 Of course while I am on my own the stench is only of academic interest, but the pressure of the wind did cause some discomfort from time to time. Whether it was enough to spoil my sleep is probably unanswerable, but I guess it didn't help. I had other aches last night. My chest seemed a bit sore, and bits of my back seemed stiff and sore. Just for a change, my left hand, although far from healed, did not cause any significant problems.

 Not sleeping that well, but not really as bad as some other rcent nights, and the aches and pains made it really hard to get up this morning. Once I had got out of bed, washed, and started dressing, I realised that my legs felt quite creaky too. I hoped that all this creakiness, and other aches would feel far better once I started walking to the surgery to give my blood sample. It did make things a bit better, but not by much, and it was very nice to get home again.

 Perhaps if it had been warmer, and sunnier while I was out, I might have started to feel a lot better. Warm, or preferably burning hot sunshine can really perk me up, but this morning I just had to suffer. I still don't feel that wonderful even this afternoon. Maybe it will show up in the next sample I have to get medically analysed !

 Once I had given my blood sample I went downstairs to reception to book an appointment with my doctor for next week (actually on Thursday 19th). I also asked if a prescription had been left for me. I was told the prescription would be in the pharmacy, so I went in there and while I was waiting for it to be dispensed the receptionist came through to see me. He had suddenly remembered that my doctor had left a sample tube for a urine sample from me.

There was no specific instructions for the urine sample apart from "random", but they often like these samples to be the first of the morning. So tomorrow morning I have to go back to the surgery to drop my urine sample off. I feel I should probably cheat and be extra careful about what I eat, and should avoid any booze. Well maybe I'll stay off the booze, but tonight I'll eat what ever seems right.

 I have no specific plans for the rest of the afternoon beyond staying in the warm. There is one thing I should do (or shouldn't do - to be more semantically correct), and that is to avoid dozing off to sleep before bedtime. It is a bit late for that because I've already had a snooze. I really don't know how it is possible to read one page of a magazine during the afternoon, and the just drift off to sleep for anything from 5 minutes to an hour or more, and then read almost the whole magazine at night without getting closer to sleep than a single yawn. Sometimes life is so unfair !
Monday 9th December 2013
17:47 GMT

  Once again it has been unexpectedly mild. I noted that it was 12 C this afternoon. A couple of hours after sunset and the temperature has dropped to 9 C. If the sky stays as clear as it has been for a fair amount on today, the temperature could continue to drop to a very low value overnight. The forecast says as low as 5 C tomorrow morning, and also reckons that it will be as low as an extremities shrinking 2 C on Wednesday morning !!

 It was probably lucky that I had made no plans or promises to go to work today. As usual, I was in bed early enough, but it took ages before I managed to fall asleep - it was gone midnight, but I don't recall the exact time. What I do know is that I woke up feeling quite chilly at 3am. I decided to turn my fan heater on low to take the chill off the air, but the cold bearings of the fan motor had half siezed up, and the fan could not get up to speed.

 Sometimes letting the heater almost overheat, and then turning it off for a few minutes allows the bearing to warm up after a few goes, but not this time. So I brought a spare heater in, and got that running before getting back to sleep. One of my first tasks this morning was to give the fan heater it's yearly overhaul. It is a rather elderly fan heater, but a good dust out, and some oil on the motor bearings makes it as good as new......apart from looking incredibly battered.
1960s vintage Ducal fan heater
 I have a very vague, and totally unreliable memory that this fan heater was bought during the big freeze of 1963. Since then I have replaced a frayed mains lead (the original was rubber and woven cotton), and replaced the control switch at the rear of it. For the last 20 - 30 years I've had to take it apart once a year to oil the motor bearings, but it has been amazingly reliable, and kept me warm through the fiercest winters !

 Another task today was to go to Aldi. I managed to restrict the weight of what I bought this time, and I don't think I suffered any injuries lugging my shopping home. Interestingly enough, either my health has deteriorated a lot since my one and only physiotherapy session, or the effort expended on carrying my shopping home, based on how deep my breathing had come, was broadly equivalent to the exercises I was doing on that physiotherapy session. In fairness, I suppose the physio exercises did go on for a lot longer, and my breathing was quite deep, but far from gasping, for an extended period of time rather than the 7 or 8 minutes it took to bring my shopping home.

 With a few notable, but secret, exceptions, I did manage to take care to buy reasonably healthy food. I bought a lot more fruit, but no vegetables. I have a selection of frozen vegetable in the freezer, but I seem to prefer to almost substitute fruit for vegetables. I realise that no fruit is an adequate substitute for something like brocolli and all the goodness it has in it's foul flavours, but at least I can boast that I am eating lots of fibre and at least 5 portions of fruit and vegetables a day.

 In theory, from this moment onwards,  I am now fasting until I have given a blood sample tomorrow morning. I have to fast for between 11 and 16 hours for this blood test, and that includes not drinking anything except plain water. I still have a large glass of cola to drink, but once that it finished it should be nothing but boring tap water.
blood test request
 I'm not sure if I want to do this tonight. For instance I would like a large scotch or two this evening, but I can avoid that easier than a biscuit or something. The good thing is that there is no actual date for this blood test, and any day this week (or even early next week at a pinch) will do, but I'll try to fast tonight if I can to get it over with. Then I can make an appointment to see my doctor to discuss the results in the middle of next week.......and next week I should be back at work because my sick certificate runs out this Friday.

 Time is really flying now. If I am back at work next week I will only be working 3 and a bit days. One day I'll be taking a day off, probably as holiday, to see my doctor, and then on Friday the 20th it is the work xmas dinner and not a lot will be done all day. The following week there is only two work days before the xmas shutdown until January 2nd.
Sunday 8th December 2013
19:01 GMT

  Today has been unexpectedly mild. The current temperature is 10 C, and it is possible that during the afternoon it could have been as high as 12 C. Many bits of today have been sunny, and at sunset we had quite a spectacular red sunset.
Sunset in Catford Sunday 8th December 2013

 Yesterday afternoon I suffered the usual afternoon stomach ache. It's not a bad ache, and I'm not sure what causes it, but I feel there is a high chance that it is something to do with all the blood pressure drugs I take. I think it probably happens 3 or 4 hours after eating more than just a minor snack, and when I think about it further it could be when that meal largely consists of fruit. I probably should make a mental note of times and what I've eaten rather then try to guess after the event.

 By early evening, and after a visit or two to the toilet (I seem to recall) the stomache ache had transformed into more like butterflies in the stomach. It wasn't an ideal state to be in when going out, but I gritted my teeth, and headed off to the bus stop to get the bus to The Chatterton Arms in Bromley. It wasn't that unusual to have a sort of butterflies in the stomach feeling when going out in the evening even before my operation, and I knew that once I was at the venue, with a pint of beer in my hand, I would soon feel fine.

 I am so glad I forced myself to go out because I had a wonderful time. Chain were really on form, and the pub was packed full of fans - sometime there can be a lot of people in there, but they are there to watch the football - but not last night !! One of the wonderful things about Chain is that there are no egos. So several guest singers went up on stage to do a song. They were not unknowns, but friends of the band and known good singers. It makes it all seem so special, so intimate, so wonderful !
guest vocals from Patsi Spike O'Shea
While Jo Corteen tucks herself away behing Geoff Paice, Patsi Spike O'Shea sings guest vocals.
Guy Harris is on drums, and Chris Mayer on lead guitar.
Jo Corteen and the debut performance of her Flying V guitar
Last night saw the debut performance of Jo's new guitar - a Flying V
a packed Chatterton Arms - Sat 7th Dec 2013
The pub was pretty packed, and it was difficult to circulate, but I am sure everyone had a great time.

 Last night was the first time I had travelled more than a 5 minute walk to see a Chain gig - which was significant - but it was also the first one since my operation where anyone who was anyone was there. It was great to see so many people I had not seen for ages, and it was a real tonic to get so many good wishes for my future health. I did feel pretty good, but...............

 I don't think I could have managed the whole evening without a continuous supply of Guinness. Bits of me did ache, and I did start to feel quite weary towards the end. The worst ache was my right foot. It seems to be playing up again, but it wasn't any great trouble until I had to walk back to the bus stop (about 5 mnutes walk), and even more so when I walked from the bus to home. This morning, and through today it has been mildly sore, and I have tried to rest it today.

 Once I got home, and the booze started to wear off, my chest felt fairly sore. Maybe sore is not quite the right word, and tender may be a better description - it was east to make it feel sore if I did the wrong thing - which obviously I tried not to. My left hand has got stuck again. It got a bit better a week or so ago, and now hasn't changed since. I have some sort of feeling in the little finger, and the ring finger, but both are still rather sensitive. The little finger is still capable of agonising pins and needles if stimulated in the wrong way.

 All this makes me wonder just how ready I really am to go back to work. A couple of weeks ago I was so keen to get back, but the weather has got closer to winter, and then came the realisation that I only have another week before I have to go back to work (or beg my doctor for another ticket). In my last week of freedom I have to go and give another blood sample - probably on Tuesday or Wednesday (and I'll need to see my doctor a week after that). So that is one day when I would not go into work anyway. Tomorrow it would be nice to get some shopping in during daylight hours. I meant to go today, but I've been trying to rest my right foot.

 It is feeling unlikely that I will make it into work next week. On the other hand I might wake up tomorrow morning with a strong urge to go in. I really don't know, and I think I am giving up making predictions about work, and how I am mending after the operation. The worst bits healed very quickly, but it's the little bits that seem to be tediously slow......... and then there is the fact that I've hated going to work in winter for the last 10 years or more ! Ah well, it's only money :-(
Saturday 7th December 2013
14:36 GMT

  It doesn't seem to be many days ago that the weather forecasters were warning of an "artic blast" heading our way, and yet it seems to be getting warmer - if a current temperaure of 10.6 C can be called warm (which it can't !!). Unfortunately it has stayed very grey today, and it feels like it won't be long before I draw the curtains. Sunset is still over an hour away as I write this. Tomorrow's forecast says it will be a degree warmer than today, and there is a fighting chance of a few minutes of sunshine in the morning, and maybe a fair bit more in the afternoon.

 It's called Sod's law, and it struck again last night. During the afternoon, even into late afternoon, I was feeling a bit rotten. My guts felt quite sore, and I had one or two other more minor ailments, so I rated my chances of going out to be so low that I decided to make other plans. By 8pm, when I should have been either at The Chatterton Arms, or at least on my way there, I felt pretty good. Of course by that time I was also munching my way through a rather big dinner (whose size was definitely inflated by the proportion of green stuff with it).

 Having that large dinner lead to a certain observation that I repeated after breakfast this morning. It seemed the opposite of what I had imagined, but some quick research on the internet revelealed my observation was correct - my blood pressure falls after eating. It's because the blood is diverted to my digestive system. The significance of this is that for the last 30 or more years I've shunned breakfast before any form of exercise.

 Originally that exercise was walking to work, and that started when I went on a rather spectacular diet that lost rather a lot of weight. I just couldn't walk the 2 or 3 miles from where I used to live to Forest Hill unless I had fasted overnight. Of course this was in the days before doctors and blood pressure was invented, and when I used to feel really healthy.

 Now that doctors have intruded into my life a lot, and made me feel ill all the time, I still try to avoid breakfast (except on days like the weekend when I may not even go out, or if I do it may well be a lot later in the day). So I arrive at the doctors after fasting for up to 12 hours (and possibly longer), and they tell me my blood pressure is way too high. Maybe, and on my next visit I'll try it, if I have a blow out breakfast before seeing my doctor he will find my blood pressure to be considerably lower than usual. Of course it will still be very high, but at least it may be low enough to stop the doctor putting on his tin helmet and bullet proof vest (on the assumption I am about to explode).

 While two indicators, my blood pressure and blood glucose level, may be fairly good, I don't feel all that wonderful at the moment. I feel sort of sleepy, and sort of weak, but I don't think it's going to be bad enough to stop me going out to a gig tonight. The only problem will trying to force myself out the front door when my body is saying it's time for bed. It wasn't so bad on Thursday because I went out at 5pm, and it had only been dark for an hour and a half, but tonight I'll be going out at about 7.30pm.

 Once I get out I know I'll be fine, and it promises to be a very good night. The venue, The Chatterton Arms is about a 35 minute bus ride (plus a 5 minute walk) away, and the buses are fairly frequent. From the stop where I'll get the bus there is only one bus route, but there are two that come back to different stops in Catford (and for a brief overlap period around midnight there is also a night bus).
Friday 6th December 2013
16:15 GMT

  It's not been quite as cold as the forecast predicted for today, but there was a frost this morning. The forecast suggested the top temperature today was going to be as low as 4 C, but right now, just after sunset, it's nearly 8 C. Of course, since last night, and now it has actually happened, the forecast has been edited to reflect the higher temperatures. It has stayed dry all day, and like the last few days there was a little bit of sunshine just before sunset. Tomorrow may be similar, but a little brighter.

 Last night was a great achievement for me. I did make it to Beckenham, and I did make it to the open mic night at the pub a bit later. I wasn't perfectly comfortable when I went out, My right foot was playing up again. I'm not sure what is wrong with it, but the heel/instep boundary area feels tender. I first noticed it coming back again after going away for a week or two, in the morning when I went to see my doctor.

 It wasn't bad when I went out, and I had a slightly more worrying reason to not feel comfortable. Just recently I have been attempting to make fruit and vegetables a significant amount of my food intake, and it's playing havoc with my guts. I am sure I would feel more comfortable if I had eaten a lard sandwich with extra lard for lunch yesterday ! It all came to nothing while I was out, and a few scotches just before I went home settled things completely - until the early hours of this morning !

 My first port of call last night was The Bricklayers Arms where I met up with the Thursday Night Gang for 3 (or maybe 4) pints of beer. At just before 8pm I said my good byes there, and walked up the high street to The Coach And Horses (which is actually 50ft or so up a side road). I got there just as the gear was being set up for the open mic session.

 It was the first time since my operation that I'd seen anyone there, and I was greeted with warm affection by several people. I'm assuming that no one who was there will ever be reading my blog. So I can say it was great to see them all, but I wasn't terribly impressed by some of the singing ! Maybe I missed the best because I left after about an hour - but only because I was feeling a bit tired.

 When I came out of the pub I walked the short distance to the high street and looked for the bus stop. I thought that the one to my left was a bit far away, and assumed that there would be one a bit nearer, just round the bend in the road, to my right. I was wrong !! There wasn't a stop where I thought it might be. There was one stop that was exactly where I knew it to be, but it was not in use because of building works by it.

 So I had to walk almost all the way to Beckenham Junction station to get my bus home. I had been walking at quite a fast pace, and was not gasping, but getting short of breath when I got close to the bus stop, and when a bus sneaked up behind me. I had to run the last 20ft, and that did leave me quite short of breath, but not in pain - as I would most definitely have been prior to my operation (in fact I would have had to walk far more slowly, and stop every 5 minutes for a few minutes in the last weeks before the operation).

 As is usual, the bus ride was far shorter going home than going away from home - or so it always seems - and it didn't seem to be all that long before I was at home with a very sore right foot by then. I had considered buying some fried chicken on the way home, but maybe I wasn't drunk enough, and resisted the temptation. That doesn't mean to say that I didn't cook myself something up that wasn't wholly healthy.

 I felt quite excited, and after eating my ungodly dinner I sat down and edited the few photos I had taken while I was out. After that I uploaded them to Facebook and comments seemed to come pouring in until the early hours of the morning. Here's two of the photos.....
Geoff Paice and Patsi Spike O'Shea warming the session up
On the left; Geoff Paice who runs the open mic night, and Patsi Spike O'Shea on the right.
Rob Todd - great guy, good guitar player, but dodgy voice (sorry Rob)
Rob Todd - really nice guy, reasonable guitar player, and dodgy voice (sorry Rob).

 This morning I had what could be described as a hangover, but it wasn't a booze hangover. It was just a bit of fatigue from being out of practice of going out in the evening. My right foot was still rather sore (that last run for the bus really tested my tolerance to pain by the way), but this afternoon it has recovered a lot - almost, but not quite completely.

 Since getting back on my full complement of drugs (I had run out of one of them) my blood pressure has fallen to a pleasing low level, and to my complete and utter surprise it was close to text book even last night shortly before I went to bed. It has hardly changed by this morning, but my blood sugar level had crept up a lot higher than desired (but nowhere near danger levels). So I was obviously quite healthy, and spending a great part of my day on my bed, often dozing off, was all part of luxury, and nothing to do with any physical problems (or something).

 In an attempt to stay healthy (sort of) and to get my blood sugar level a bit lower, I have had plenty of fruit and vegtables today. Of course now I have a bloated stomch, trapped wind, and stuff every bit as bad as yesterday, and currently feeling rather worse. I wanted to go out tonight, and I've been considering it all the time I've been writing this. I think that maybe not going out might be a better idea.

 Staying off the beer will help my blood sugar level, and not having to walk to and from bus stops, let alone standing up for an hour or two, will help my right foot to recover. The good thing is that I have another chance to go out for an even better time tomorrow night. Chain are playing in The Chatterton Arms - which is straightforward to get to - and Geoff Paice will be the bass player. Geoff and Chris play so well together that it will be a magical night, and worth missing a more minor night to try and get a bit fitter.
Thursday 5th December 2013
15:22 GMT

  I thought the temperature would be lower today, but I was wrong. This morning it was just 5 C, but the wind that started off as no more than a stiff breeze, but has not worked up to a strong gale, stirred the air up, and it is currently 10 C. That would be not too unpleasant, but the wind makes it feel much colder. Most of the day has been dull, but like the last couple of days, there have been a few glimpses of the sun this afternoon - but no more, the sun is just about to set ! The weather forecast is actually suggesting there could be a splash of rain soon. That would be most unwelcome - as would the temperature tomorrow. It is forecast to be no more than 4 C !

 Several events have either happened, or will happen today. The first two have already happened, and the very first was my appointment with the doctor. I never really got a chance to discuss my chest, and any damage I might have done to it. Today it was all about my medications. The blood sample I gave last week showed that I was not controlling my blood sugar level that well recently - which I knew - but apparently it was still not terribly bad. The doctor didn't think it was bad enough to merit any urgent need to go back on Metformin, but at my request he gave me a prescription for it. I also had my "stocks" of blood pressure control drugs topped up, plus another blood sample request for the middle of next week (and to make another appointment a week after that).

 When I got home from the surgery I had some breakfast, and generally lounged around. This afternoon I even had a snooze, but that was interupted by a ring at the door bell. This heralded the second event of the day. After two years, and possibly more, I've had an official electricity meter reading. The chances are that a lot, if not all the credit I have built up with the electricity board is about to evaporate. The good thing is that I don't have to worry about using as much electricity as I need over the harsh winter because it could be years until my meter is read again, and I'll probably eventually increase my monthly standing order to build up more credit. I know this is not the recommended way to do it - with them owing me money instead of the other way round - but it is the way that suits me, and is nice and stress free.

 The next event will be a momentous event - probably. Tonight the Thursday Night Gang are boozing in Beckenham. I haven't gone any further than a 7 minute walk from home for a beer since before I went into hospital three months ago. So it is going to be a bit of an adventure, and good practice for getting out to gigs sometime later.(It may also be a touch of normality that might help in getting back to work.)

 Assuming I get to Beckenham, and get there not too early, and attempt not to drink too much too early, I could have a fourth event. Just a few minutes walk up the high street from where I should be drinking there is another pub, and in that pub there is an open mic night featuring some people I haven't seen for ages. Hopefully I'll have the energy to pop in there for a short while and say hi to a few people. It will be excellent practice for a possible gig tomorrow night, and a very probable gig on Saturday night.
Wednesday 4th December 2013
16:44 GMT

  The temperature today has been about a degree less than yesterday, but otherwise the weather has been almost the same. It has been dull - not extremely so, but nevertheless dull, until just before sun set when there was a few brief flashes of weak sun light. It is 7 C now, and will quite likely be colder tomorrow.

 Last night, and today, I have only had small amounts of pain. My left hand little finger and ring finger tips are very sensitive in a pins and needles sort of way, but only the tips and around the nail.  The underside of those two fingers have come tantilisingly close to feeling normal from time to time. I still continue to kid myself that this is an improvement, and compared to the worst it has been, it is, but I seem to have been saying this for a very long time now with the complete recovery still being far into the unknown future.

 My other source of pain or discomfort is my chest. On a couple of occasions there does seem to have been some discomfort associated with the clicking and popping sensation that increased 10 fold, or something, after I carried the stupidly heavy load of stuff back from the supermarket last Sunday. I don't think I've done any permanent damage, or at least no very serious damage, but I suppose I've probably increased the length of time it is taking for that big hole in my chest to heal.

 I have been pretty stupid in the way I have treated my chest recently. Yesterday I did two small laundry sessions (roughly equivalent to just one done under better conditions - no chest problems, and a warm dry day to dry it outside). Neither session, one in the morning, and one in the late afternoon, seemed to make matters that worse, although I suppose it may have left my chest feeling slightly more tender if I prodded it.

 The other possibly stupid thing was to go shopping in Tesco today. I did buy more than I intended, but on this occasion it all fitted into one of the large Aldi re-useable shopping bags plus three bottles of diet cola in my ruch sack. On Sunday I had the same amount in the rucksack, and two shopping bags that were both a fair bit heavier than the one I carried today. Carrying it all back didn't seem to cause any unwanted strain - except to my mental processes - why can I never work out the pattern of prices for Diet Coke from Tesco ? Today it was three 2l bottles for 3. That is probably one of the cheapest prices recently, but I am sure they pick a random offer price out of a hat every morning. There is just no consistency to it all that I can see.

 I made a firm commitment not to try and go to work today, and for the first time in ages I have managed to keep to my commitment ! Tomorrow I definitely won't be going to work either, but I will be seeing my doctor in the morning - although I am going to have to be up and dressed a bit quicker than I was this morning ! I am primarily seeing him to discuss my medications, and get prescriptions for any revisions, but I am also wondering how much to tell him about my clicking/popping chest. It probably ought to be done on a separate appointment if it is done at all.

 After I've seen the doctor I think I would fancy a beer or two, and being a Thursday I'll probably end up having a session, but that won't be until early evening. I guess I can be patient enough to wait for that. Perhaps if I have a good session I'll feel like going to work on Friday - it may sound like a contradiction, but it is easier with an easily understood hangover than with not well understood alternate ailments - such as a dodgy hand and chest. You really know where you are with a hangover !
Tuesday 3rd December 2013
16:19 GMT

  I can't really recall how the weather turned out yesterday. That can only mean that it was very bland, and quite probably it was grey and dreary like today. At 3.30pm there didn't seem to be any useful light coming from outside so I closed the curtains. It hardly notices, but it is two degrees cooler than yesterday - currently 8 C. I believe we are on the cusp of a change to the weather. First we will get some strong winds, and then the daytime temperature will drop to 5 C - and presumably even less at night.Winter is well and truly upon us.

 Yesterday was one of those days that should have been long and boring, but wasn't. I don't know how it happened but time just seemed to fly by with no effort on my part.  I took things fairly easy trying to see what difference it might make to the strange clicking/bubble bursting feelings I had, and still have in my chest. I still have no clue as to what it is, but it doesn't hurt, or at least not usually.......although I have noticed a slight tenderness at the bottom of my chest scar if I push it gently (the whole scar is still slightly tender, but it feels different at the bottom - sort of like it is tender under the skin).

 Apart from the potential worry that I might have damaged something in my chest, my real problem was my left hand. It has changed again. Both the little and the ring fingers are now showing advanced signs of coming back to life, but with that has come ever more extreme pins and needles.  Yesterday evening, and into the night, I had several episodes of unprovoked pins and needles. At other times I would only feel the pins and needles when touching something, but last night it was happening spontaneously, and it was bloody annoying ! I hope it is all worth it.

 It also kept me from getting to sleep until well gone midnight. So once again I was not able to get up in time to go to work. This morning I was up later than ever - I didn't really get up until 9.30am ! I really don't know why I keep telling people at work that I'll soon be in to do some work soon. It is getting quite embarrassing, and I think I ought to aim for surprise visits like the last two. At least they worked out OK. In 10 days time my sick certificate runs out, and I'll have to go back to work. I do wonder how I am going to do it.

 It feels odd to have a certain amount of guilt about not going back to work. In theory, if I can go out shopping, or go to the pub, there should be nothing stopping me working. It just doesn't seem as easy as that. Apart from a bloody great hole in my chest to finish healing, there is basically nothing wrong with me. It has even been proved by my one off physiotherapy exercises that my stamina is fine. All the same theories should apply to going out to gigs at night. I've missed so many that I could easily get to by one bus ride, but just couldn't bring myself to go out late in the evening. Maybe I am scared of the dark, or agraphobic or something.

 Since closing the curtains at 3.30pm I've sort of shut down for the night, and the next major thing is bedtime.....sort of, not counting dinner etc. Tomorrow there is not a cats chance in hell that I'll be going to work. I'm not even going to consider it. Perhaps I plan to go to the pub in the afternoon and get pissed, or maybe I don't. What happens tomorrow will be revealed once it has happened !
Monday 2nd December 2013
09:12 GMT

  I expected it to be a very cold, clear skied, frosty morning, but I was very wrong.
sunset last night (Sun 1st December 2013)
 Last night we had a fairly pretty sunset - the first I've noticed for ages. The sky seemed unusually clear, and I expected it to stay clear overnight, but sometime after darkness fell it must have clouded right over again. So this morning is a dull and miserable grey, but definitely not frosty. I'm reading almost 10 C on my upstairs outside thermometer (it's probably several degrees less at ground level).

 This morning I intended to go to work, but I am still at home. There is one good, or maybe obvious reason for this, and another good reason why it may be a good idea that I am not there. Last night, with the aid of a couple of moderate sized glasses of scotch, I got to sleep a little earlier than usual, and I thought I slept well.

 As far as I can remember I slept as good as non stop until about 4.30am. That was a little early to get up, but I got out of bed, switched the heating on, started my PC booting up, and went to the toilet for the usual morning neccessities. It was cold in my bedroom, and even colder in my bathroom. So I got back in bed while the heater took the chill off the air. The next thing I knew was that it was almost 8am !

 I can't help but think that if I had made it into work this morning I would be feeling pretty groggy by the afternoon if I was missing that extra three hours sleep. Sometimes I wonder if I am as recovered from my operation as I like to think I am. The answer to that is probably that I am not. My foolishness yesterday when I allowed myself to buy much more than I could comfortably carry, was quite possibly damaging.

 One of the rules after having my chest cut open for the operation - which was more than just a slit in the skin - it also involved cutting my sternum bone in two - was not to carry too much weight until it was all well healed.
The sternum - picture from wikipedia
The sternum bone - picture hosted by Wikipedia
 
 I'm not sure what the effect would be if I managed to damage the new seam where the bone is healing, but some of the feelings I get might suggest that I have damaged it. These feelings are not exactly pain, but sometimes they can be in a minor sort of way. More usually it is a feeling like bubbles popping, or two rough surfaces grating against each other.

 In a minor way I've had it for the last month or two. I first noticed it when attempting to sleep on my side - particularly my right hand side for some unknown reason. Since carrying that heavy shopping it is considerably worse, and while it is still not painful beyond an occasional dull ache, there are hints of the start of worse pain if I were to do something stupid.

 There is probably nothing that can be done now apart from wait until whatever was damaged (it might be something far less significant that the sternum bone) heals again. The chances are that going to work would not cause any further damage, and I don't think it would cause any significant discomfort, but considering that I am far more aware of some of those odd sensations this morning, it is sort of convenient that I can monitor it all here at home to see how it develops. With luck it will all come to nothing, and I'll be making another attempt to get to work tomorrow.

 I guess I'll be having a rather lazy, and rather more boring day than planned today. It would be useful to do some laundry today, but I don't think I dare putting my chest through the strain of hand powered laundry until I've got a better idea of how it is going to feel. It is a bit of a pity because there is one item that I would definitely like to get washed today, or even should have washed last night.

 I had a couple of yoghurts as part of my dinner last night. Now I am not sure how it happened, but I sort of slipped while peeling off the foil top of the pot of yoghurt. I ended up pouring half the pot of chilled yoghurt into my lap - and I was only wearing a fairly thin pair of lounge pants at the time. For some it could be a kinky pleasure to smear their genitals with freezing cold yoghurt, but having now tried it, I find I can't recommend it !
Sunday 1st December 2013
14:48 GMT

  About half an hour ago the sun came out after a rather grey morning. The winter sun carries so little heat that I would be surprised if it can raise the current temperature of 9.6 C to 10 C before the sun sets in little more than an hours time now.  This morning didn't feel as if it was much cooler than now, and we didn't get the mist that was forecast. Mist is forecast for tomorrow morning as well, and it will be followed by a murky grey day that might be a degree or two cooler than today.

 In the absence of going shopping yesterday, I ordered a Chinese takeaway for dinner last night. I tried ordering from a new place that seemed interesting. It was slightly more expensive than some of the local takeaways (although rare use of them means I may be out of touch with current prices), but the extra price seemed to bring a small improvent in quality. Every dish I ate seemed rather wonderfully delicious, and that included the left over one that I microwaved for an early breakfast this morning.

 I stayed up watching TV on my computer, here in my bedroom, rather late last night. I also had a large glass of scotch. Once I went to bed I fell asleep quite quickly, and I slept well for  about 6 hours. That seemed to be all I really needed at the time, and further attempts to get more sleep met with little success.

 It would be stupid to use the feelings on a summers morning, maybe last year before my heart problem that lead to my operation reared it's ugly head,  as a measure of all things good, but compared to the last couple of months, I woke up feeling fairly good.  Nothing seemed particularly sore, and even the painful/uncomfortable tingly numbness on half of my left hand seemed to be at it's current best time low.

 So when 11am approached I put my best foot forward and quick marched up the road to Aldi. I was sure it opened at 11am on a Sunday, but maybe they have moved it to 10am because when I got there I had to wait for a shopping trolly to become available, and it was packed inside the store. It may have been because it was packed, and I had a sort of feeling that I didn't want to go through it again too quickly, that I ended up buying almost more than I could carry.

 My shopping bags seemed incredibly full and heavy after buying things like 4-packs of baked beans, or huge great pineapples. Mostly it was just an awful lot of a bit of this and a bit of that.... Walking back with all that seemed harder work than all the exercise I did at my one and only physiotherapy session last Friday. It almost certainly did more damage ! My chest is not painful, but it does feel most peculiar - almost as if something has come loose inside ! (Which is extremely unlikely to be the actual case - it just sort of feels like it).

 I actually feel sort of bad now, but maybe a lot of that could be attributed to the amount of "30% off the marked price" sandwiches I stuffed myself with when I got home from Aldi.  I should have paced myself eating them, and topped up with fruit instead. I do have a lot of fruit here at the moment. I could almost start my own fruit shop. I would be surprised if I didn't have a hot meal tonight, but  all other meals and snack ought to be fruit.

 Hopefully I'll feel good, or even better when I wake up even earlier tomorrow morning. Saying as such is probably the kiss of death to it, but in the unlikely event that it does happen I may try and get to work. If it doesn't happen tomorrow than maybe I will try again on Tuesday. After one false start it feels like getting to the top of a hill getting back to work. Once I have passed the crest it should be downhill all the way, and going to work will be the everyday complete pain in the arse that it always was before my operation. You could say it is a recursive problem. Everytime I wake up feeling too crap to want to go to work now is because I wasn't at work the previous day.

 My one single regret about my operation, or having to have the operation, is that it didn't all start about now. If it did I could look forward to being off work all through winter, and getting better in the spring - a far more natural time to get better. All that warm (late) spring sunshine would be perfect for getting out and about exercising, and rapidly getting better in high spirits. Going back to work in the depths of winter almost proves there is a God, and that she is a very vindictive bastard !