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My Diary/Blog For the Month of May 2013

Friday 31st May 2013
08:15 BST

  The forecast for yesterday got the ingredients almost right, but the times completely wrong. It must have been around 3pm, but it could have been 2pm when instead of sunny periods we had rain, and that was the only time I recall it raining after the early morning rain. It makes me wonder just how close to reality the forecast for today will be. They've got the grey, but dry morning right. By mid morning the sun is supposed to break through, and that is suposed to drive the temperature up from 12 C early this morning to 20 C early this afternoon. It will be marvellous if it happens, but I can't help but feel slightly pessimistic about it.

 A few previous nights of poor sleep took their toll on me yesterday. By the afternoon I was feeling quite rough, and home time could not come soon enough. I revived a bit once I started going home, and I didn't feel too bad when I got back to Catford. It might have been easy to think that everything was OK then, but I made a definite commitment to have an early night, last night. I was in bed a little before 8pm, and asleep soon after.

 On the whole I slept quite well, and although it is hard to quantify the amount of sleep lost after waking up briefly a few times in the night, I reckon I got a full 8 hours sleep, and maybe even a little more. I'm not sure of every reason why I woke up in the night. Once or twice it was definitely to have a wee, but a couple of times I woke from non-threatening dreams. Those dreams, while entertaining, were a bit on the bland side, and maybe the bit of my brain that writes the scripts for dreams had run out of ideas and woke me up so it could have a few minutes rest.

 After a full nights sleep I feel a bit better this morning, although as I write this I can't help but thinking how glorious it would be to be back in bed right now ! I don't think that the extra sleep has performed any miracles to clear up the remnants of my cold. I think any improvement, and there has been some, has just been natural progression. I am definitely coughing less, and my nose gets blocked less frequently now. That's not to say that I didn't have to have a major clearout of all orifices when I woke a few minutes before my alarm was due to sound at 5am.

 I'm sure I had some sort of plans to go out tonight, but I can't think where or when. That's probably a good thing because I think I probably deserve another early night, and plenty of sleep. All I can imagine doing tonight is getting a bit of shopping in on the way home from work.
Thursday 30th May 2013
08:01 BST

  Yesterday was not as bad as the day before, but it wasn't actually pleasant. It was overcast, damp, and cool. The only redeeming feature was that there was a lot less rain than the forecast suggested there might be. This morning started out very wet with copious amounts of rain. It had stopped when I arrived at Earlsfield station, but the colour of the sky suggests that the heavens could open at any minute. There is the possibility of some sunny periods around the middle of the day, or so the forecasts suggest, but by this evening it will be raining again. It's not going to be particularly warm today with the temperature peaking at around 14 - 15 C, but tomorrow could see another 5 or 6 C added to that - which will be nice !

 I feel in a very mixed state ! I felt fairly OK going home from work yesterday, although I was coughing a lot on the train. Although I am getting low on clean shirts, I decided that I didn't have quite enough energy or enthusiasm to do any laundry, and that an early night might be beneficial to me. Well that was the theory, but it didn't quite work out like that. I was in bed by 8.30pm, and I turned off the light at 8.50pm, but I couldn't get to sleep despite feeling like I really needed it.

 I assume it's part legacy from my recent cold, and the more direct effects of the cold and damp yesterday, but once I laid down in bed I realised that what had been a noticeable stiffness of neck and left shoulder earlier on was actually really uncomfortable whenever I adopted a suitable position for sleeping. So I stayed awake for something like 2 hours while letting a couple of pain killers work their magic. Even when I did get to sleep I did not sleep well. I seemed to be stuck on an everlasting dream.

 I don't literally mean an everlasting dream. It was actually a series of dreams all on the same subject, and where each dream adds a twist to the plot (or something like that). I know the dream was inspired by a sci fi story I had been reading while waiting for the pain killers to work. The story, and the dream concerned data networking, the internet, servers and stuff, but quite how I weaved all that into a series of dreams has now evaporated to the same place where a million million billion other forgotten dreams reside.

 This morning I feel bad and good. I am acutely aware of my poor sleep, but I haven't started yawning - yet ! It was rather good, and quite unexpected, that I didn't have any extended periods of coughing while on the trains this morning. In fact I coughed very little, and I am sure I had to blow my nose less frequently too. Could it be that I am finally shrugging of the lasting mantle of my recent cold ?
red squirrel stealing Guinness

 I went through some of my recent pictures last night. The picture on the left was taken at the open mic session at The Catford Ram last Sunday (26th May 2013). I left my camera and glass of Guinness in the care of my friend Jodie while I popped outside for a bit. While I was outside the red squirrel started to drink my Guinness - or so the story goes. Of course I didn't discover anything about this until I was reviewing the pictures I had taken on my camera.

One other picture taken on the same night is of my challenger for photographer of the night (imaginary) award. His name is Carl Thomas, and I noticed him pointing his camera at me several times. So I snatched the picture below while he was busy taking someone elses's photo. I haven't seen much of his work, but I have heard it. As well as taking pictures, he is also a pretty good drumer too.

Carl Thomas - photograper
Wednesday 29th May 2013
08:35 BST

  There is only one way to describe yesterday's weather - Bloody Horrible ! Maybe that is just a tiny bit harsh - but only very tiny ! It was not desperately cold yesterday, maybe around 15 C sometimes, and the day did brighten up a little bit as I was going home from work. Most of the day was very dull, and if it wasn't raining it was drizzling ! There is supposed to be some rain today, but it has been dry so far this morning, although the worst of he rain is forecast to be this afternoon/early evening. If only it had been a bit warmer than 10 C when I left to come to work, I might have even gone as far as to say it was a nice morning. It is fairly bright, and I am sure I saw the sun once or twice this morning. By early afternoon it is supposed to be 14 or 15 C. That's not great, but at least it will take some of the sting out of the rain.

 It was nice to finish work yesterday without feeling totally shattered. I wasn't exactly bouncing with energy, but it was a huge improvement over last week. As I partly mentioned yesterday morning, I found that I had to work a lot harder (and/or walk a lot faster) to achieve the same levels of breathlessness and discomfort that I have been feeling these last few months (or more). That seems to be continuing today - which is sort of surprising considering a few significant factors.

 I went home via Iceland yesterday (the store, not the country), where I bought lots of naughty food, and rather less healthy food. The blueberries and the cherrys were obviously healthy stuff, and the ready meals definitely not ! I sometimes think I must be some sort of masochist when I buy stuff that I lnow is bad for me, and I know is going to taste only a 10th as good as the clever description and picture try and fool you into believing. I ended up eating more than I should have, and of course that had knock on effects.

 When I went to bed last night I felt rather full, and the spicyness of some of the food left me feeling rather warm. The final ingredient to a bad night's sleep was probably caused by the cold and wet weather. I was feeling all bunged up and congested. This morning I feel very tired, and it feels I've made no progress in fully overcoming the lingering effects of my recent cold. It is possible that I have taken a step backwards, and yet, somehow, I still seem to be able to walk a lot faster and further before I get uncomfortable. What I really need is to bake myself in the sun more, but it's unlikely that there will be any significant sunshine until the weekend at the very earliest.

 I wasn't terribly productive after work yesterday. I didn't do any laundry, but I did sort out some pictures of Monday's Chain gig. Here's a couple that I was very pleased with.
Jo Corteen from Chain
Chris Mayer from Chain
Tuesday 28th May 2013
08:16 BST

  Yesterday was a beautiful day. It was bright, sunny, and warm (19 or 20 C). Then overnight, everything changed. This morning it is very dull and raining. The only positive thing is that it doesn't feel cold. The forecast was for 11 C, and my outdoor thermometer was reading 12.8 C when I left to come to work - which is less cool than the top forecast temperature of 12 C today.

 There is absolutely no good reason why I haven't written anything since last Friday except pure laziness. Although when I consider it further it wasn't really laziness, but a lack of agenda. I kept just saying I would write something later, and later never really happened before it was time to go to bed. Now I find myself desperately trying to remember what I did on Saturday. I don't think I actually did anything of note on Saturday except to rest and recover from a horrendous week.

 Sunday was different in as much as I went out in the evening. It was another open mic night in The Catford Ram. As on previous occasions it was very much a mixed bag. Some bits were boring, and some bits were highly entertaining,  Unusually, I didn't stay right to the very end, but left halfway through what might have been the final song. There were a couple of reasons for that. Firstly the last song and a half I heard were horrible, cloying, quasi soul/disco songs. They amplified the nausea I was already starting feel from a mixture of booze and fatigue. So I collected my belongings and made my way home.

 A walk in the fresh air seemed to make me feel very hungry. One of the things I did on Saturday has just come back to me - I ordered a Chinese takeaway. That was an important fact because when I got home after the open mic session I ate the last portion of the food that I had over ordered. I also had a nibble on other stuff too, but it was that last container of Chinese food that was to be of significance. I think it might have been Sechaun chicken, but the one thing I do know for definite is that the dish had quite a few sliced whole chillis in it.

 Eating all those fiery hot chillis was a pleasant challenge, but the after effect was not so wonderful. When I finally got to bed I was almost dripping with sweat. I felt far too hot to get under the duvet. So I lay there uncovered, and before I knew it I had fallen asleep. It was quite a cold night, and two hours later, or maybe a bit less, I woke up feeling cold, and as stiff as a board. It seemed to take quite a while to thaw out again before I could get back to sleep again - under the duvet this time !

 The highlight of yesterday was the Chain gig at The Holy Ghost Fathers in Bickley. Even now I am not sure exactly what the place is beyond it being some sort of Roman Catholic religious establishment - something like a monastery, but not quite. It was their summer fete, and their Gods were obviously smiling down on them because it was a glorious summer like day. Chain were playing in a marquee in the grounds of the place, and it was a joy to watch and listen in that warm sunshine. It was fierce enough to give me some mild sunburn - not painful, but definitely some reddened skin.

 It is quite a walk, partly uphil, to get there from Bickley railway station, and it really knackered me to the point where I had to stop and get my breath twice on the way there. I was fortunate that I was given a lift back to the station because I was feeling rather tired by the end of it. I had set out at just gone 12:30, and it was just gone 18:00 (6pm) by the time I got home. Walking back from Catford station ( a few hundered yards further away than Catford Bridge station) was not as knackering as I expected it to be despite starting off feeling tired. There is a long way to go before such a walk becomes effortless again, but it was a good reminder how extra exercise, and eating less could easily improve things, and also a reminder that I am slowly getting better after my recent illness.

 There were quite a few things I could have, or would have liked to have done last night, but I felt too tired to do anything except cook and eat some dinner. After eating, and watching a bit of TV, I made a deliberate choice to turn off the TV halfway through a programme, and to get to bed early. I didn't go to sleep as early as maybe I should have done because I did some reading in bed, but I think I fell fast asleep 5 or 10 minutes before 9pm.

 I slept well until sometime after 2am when I woke up from a dream about my sunburn.There has been no pain in the real world, and there was no pain in my dream, but I dreamed that the top layer of skin on my arm was peeling off in lumps the size and thickness of large postage stamps ! I was probably asleep again around 3am, and from then on I slept until seconds before my alarm was due to sound at 5am.

 I wish I felt even better, but by comparison to most of last week I do feel fairly OK. My face was full of snot when I woke up, but since than I have only been moderately snotty, and although I am still having some fairly hefty bouts of coughing, the interval between them is getting longer and longer. Even the walk from the station to work didn't feel that terrible. My main complaint at the moment is that I do feel terribly tired despite what should have been a fair nights sleep. Apart from the obvious drooping eye lids, I am making some horrendous mistakes in my typing. I've already noticed (and corrected) some complete missing words, and I am sure there are still some other terrible howlers that I can't seem to notice.

 There is stuff I ought to do tonight, but I fear I won't have the energy or inclination when I get home from work. Maybe I might pick up some shopping on the way home from work, but I can't see myself doing any laundry tonight from this end of the telescope. I'm not even sure I'll feel like sitting down and sorting out the many photos (and videos) I've shot over the long weekend.
Friday 24th May 2013
08:09 BST

  They said it would rain mid afternoon yesterday. Actually it was sunny ! If yesterday had been 10 or 15 degrees warmer I might have called it a good day. The temperature, around 16 C as far as I can recall, felt to be somewhere in the no mans land between mild and warm. That was luxury compared to today. It is forecast to rain all day today. Sometimes it will be barely noticeable, and at other times it could be heavy enough to set off a flash of lightning. That is going to be miserable enough by itself, but there is worse. The top temperature for today is forecast to be a positively wintery 9 C ! It was 7 C or less when I walked to the station, and I felt like I should have put some gloves on to stop my fingers almost going numb. This is a pretty poor show for the end of May !

 A strange thing happened yesterday. As the day wore on, and I began to feel more and more tired, I also also felt less ill. It was more than just an idea. My nose, which had often been running during the morning, seemed to dry up in the afternoon. The same was more or less so for my cough. When I left work to go home I felt so tired that I could have laid down in the middle of the main road, and dropped off to sleep in seconds. Once I was out in the fresh air I perked up a bit, and by the time I got back to Catford I was feeling alert enough to walk down to The Ram for a couple of pints of Guinness.

 I was also looking forward to enjoying that Guinness in the company of "The Thursday Boys". They were all there, but tied up with a leaving drink for one of their colleagues. So I enjoyed my two pints while reading the evening paper. When I left I decided to take advantage of passing Tesco while they were still open. I came away from there with three bags of assorted stuff. When I had done the same on Monday it had been a struggle to get home. Last night it was a lot easier. I didn't have to stop to get my breath back, and I didn't fall through my front door going blue in the face.

  I was feeling so exhilarated by this improvement that I was almost tempted not to aim for an early night last night. After too many sandwichs I came to my senses, and I was in bed just before 8pm. Rather amazingly, I was probably fast asleep 5 minutes later. I slept very well last night. Although I woke up several times during the night, I had no trouble getting back to sleep again - even when turned on my side, or maybe because I was able to turn on my side without starting to cough. It all felt so good that I wished that I could have turned off my alarm, and got another 8 hours of it !

 Unfortunately I had to come to work today, and that meant getting ready for work. At some time during that preparation I started to cough again, and it felt like I was almost back to square one. My journey into work was quite unpleasant. From time to time I had a cross between a dry tickly cough, and a more throaty cough.  I was often breathless, and bits of me, mainly around the leg department, ached. Somewhere a little before Clapham Junction I seemed to cough up one last furball. Since then I seem to have improved a bit, but I'm still having trouble keeping my eyes open. I really should have gone back to bed instead of coming to work. Maybe I had better try not to even think about going out tonight, and to put clear out of my mind that there is a gig on in Elmers End tonight. No, I think an early night is the only possible choice for tonight !
Thursday 23rd May 2013
08:03 BST

  Yesterday was quite similar to how it was forecast except I don't recall any mention being made of some sunny spells in the last couple of hours before sunset. This morning sees a departure from the forecast. It was often overcast this morning, and there were a couple of times when it looked like it might rain, but it didn't. Right now there are both potentially rain bearing clouds in the sky and bright blue patches. I think this is more like the forecast suggested it would be for later this morning - after the rain that didn't happen had stopped. After the middle of the day, when there should be some sunny intervals, the clouds might thicken, and it is possible that the heavens will open just as I leave work. The top temperature for today could be a rather wintry 11 C - just 3 more degrees than it was at daybreak.

 I did think that it might have been handy to have gone out to the shops yesterday, but a lack of urgency, and a shed load of apathy meant that I didn't leave the house once. I'm not sure if that was a good, bad or indifferent idea. So I spent the day amusing myself with the internet and the TV in between taking a few naps. If it wasn't for the side effects I would have rated it as good therapy. The good was that I was coughing very little. The bad was that late in the evening I found that my cough had changed from the deep throaty kind to the dry tickly kind.

 This was most apparent once I got into bed, and tried to sleep. While I lay on my back I was mostly OK, but I find it an uncomfortable position to sleep in. As soon as I turned on my side something would shift and my throat would torment me to extremes. The effect of turning on my side was also very apparent when I had a chest full of mucus, but at least clearing my airways was a target to aim for. Last night's tickly throat had no obvious target, and neither water nor a gargle with scotch would bring much, if any relief. Just to complete the misery, my eyes would stream while coughing, and that would fill up my nose with snot.

 If I had managed to doze off quick enough I might have found some deeper, longer lasting sleep. That never happened, and I ended up spending more of the night awake than asleep - and it feels like it was by a very big margin. This morning I have made it in to work, but it wasn't a happy journey coming here. I deliberately walked quite slowly during the walking parts of my commute into work, but I still had to stop in a few places to get my breath back.

 Now I am here I am gradually being over taken by fatigue. Even when writing this I practically fell asleep when I stopped to consider what to write next. I think today could feel very like a very long day ! It's probably fatigue induced madness, but I intend to pop into The Catford Ram after work tonight. Hopefully the lads will be in there. It seems ages, and I think it is ages, since I last had a beer, and I think I deserve one tonight. Maybe I deserve 2 or 3, but it would be insanity to stay for any longer. Ideally I should be aiming for about 15 hours sleep tonight, but that is all but impossible. Somehow I don't think even a cough is going to be able to keep me awake tonight.
Wednesday 22nd May 2013
10:49 BST

  Yesterday was cool, but not cold, dull, but not gloomy. At least I think that's how I remember it. In other words it was very similar to today. The sky is currently a pearly white colour, and the temperature is just 14 C. This seems to be one of those rare times when the weather forecast seems to be matching reality. If it continues to do so then this afternoon will be almost the same as it is now, as will most of tomorrow. If the forecasters have hit a lucky streak, and their forecast for Friday is also correct, it will be quite a different day - all gloomy and wet !!

 I didn't have much work to do at work on Monday, but what I did do was very important. It was particularly hard work either, but by the end of the day I was feeling incredibly tired, and going home was a very unpleasant, and painful experience. It did have it's funny side though ! Some of the pain I experienced was integral to the funny stuff, although the worst pain was nothing amusing.

 On my way into work in the morning I bought an E-Lite "electronic cigarette", and I had a few attempts at using it through the day. My first drag on it caused me to cough violently. I am sure that is not supposed to happen. The trouble is that it only produces an almost invisible, and tasteless puff of vapour that contains a small dose of nicotine. So on my first attempt I was almost sucking on it like my life depended on it. I learned a valuable lesson from that - several lessons in fact. The obvious one is that you don't need to suck that hard, and for that long. Another is that with no flavour they are bloody useless as a substitute for the real thing.

 It is like they were designed by someone who had never smoked before, and didn't realise that just like you can actually learn to think that brocolli* can taste nice with enough practice, tobacco smoke has a distinctive taste that is just as important, and maybe more so than giving your hands something to do, and providing some nicotine. Fortunately, or at least I hope it is so, there are some flavoured versions of the nicotine capsules. I have ordered some menthol, and some cherry flavour that may add some character to these fag substitutes, but as far as I can see no one actually makes a tobacco flavour capsule.

* I sometimes wonder who was the first brave soul who decided that brocolli was even edible. Maybe some bugs eat it, but they eat all sorts of stuff that even the most fanatical would never let pass their lips. I doubt that many mammals, and even less (where less most empthatically includes zero) primates eat brocolli as food. Maybe they eat it as a sort of medicine on rare occasions, but I wouldn't even rub its mustardy oils over me to kill fleas. If a thousand TV chefs didn't convince us it was edible,  it wouldn't even be grown and sold in shops.

 When it came time to go home on Monday I was feeling completely knackered, and there was no question of even trying to walk to the station. I was partly breathless when I got the bus, and throat was on a hair trigger. Even a passing butterfly was enough to get me coughing. During the previous couple of days I had coughed so much that my stomach muscles were quite sore. This had the unfortunate effect that I could not generate enough abdominal pressure to clear some light constipation..........but I could still pass wind !

 At Waterloo I almost farted in someone's face on the escalators. On Waterloo East station I visited the toilet, but nothing was moving except gas. So I farted several times on the train going back to Catford. In Catford I was starting to feel a little uncomfortable, and so I did something I have never done before - I tried to use the toilets in Tesco prior to doing some shopping in there. Once again nothing was moving. I ended up farting in the frozen meat aisle, the frozen vegetable aisle, the fresh meat aisle, the tinned good aisle..........in fact there probably was not a square foot of Tesco where I didn't fart, and there was nothing I could do about it !

 When I left Tesco I found myself battling against two conflicting things. The first was that I was very keen to get home where I could spend half an hour if needed on my own toilet, and the second was that I was feeling so knackered and breathless that I had to stop and get my breath back three time on the way home. I was not happy when I got in, but I was certainly in a lot of pain, and it was almost all related to my breathing and coughing difficulties.

 I had a nice, but very brief peaceful evening. By 6.30pm I had eaten a couple of sandwiches, managed to use the toilet successfully, and had got into bed. It took a little while before I found that elusive comfortable spot and state of mind, but I doubt it was much after 7pm, and maybe even before then before I was fast asleep. I actually seemed to sleep very well until I woke up three hours later. I felt comparatively good for that bit of sleep, and I got up for an hour or so to check my email etc.

 I was back asleep a little after 11pm if I recall correctly, and I slept for about 4 hours before waking again. I didn't feel that good when I woke up. My throat was very tickly, and choked with sticky mucus. I indulged in some severe coughing for a while. It was while this was going on that I decided that I was never going to get better if I forced myself to go to work - and I didn't know if I would actually be able to do it even if I tried. So I turned off my alarm, and went back to bed.

 Somehow I managed to get into some deep sleep for several hours, but towards the end my sleep got lighter and lighter, or more and more disturbed, and I had some vivid dreams. The last dream was that I was telling my line manager that I was going sick. When I finally woke up I felt like the sleep had done some real good, but I also felt strange. It was that wet towel around the brain effect that sometimes goes with a hangover. It's not exactly light headed, nor is it like disorientation, but it was like a mixture of those with other similar sort of feeling thrown into the mix.

 It was certainly enough for me not to realise I hadn't really phoned work. So it came as a bit of a surprise when they phoned me at 9am. I explained what had happened, and it wasn't until I was putting the phone down that I realised there was a big clue that I had missed. In my dream I had been telling my manager that I would not be going to work, and I was saying it face to face - which of course would have been impossible unless I was already there. So it had to be a dream !

 Saying I felt better yesterday is perfectly true, but only in comparison to Monday when I felt truly dreadful in the extreme. It would be more telling by saying I felt as good as I did on Sunday when I was having doubts about whether I would ever feel good enough to go to work on Monday. I only attempted one short outing yesterday, and that was to the corner shop. Admittedly it was only a few hours after eating a big meal, but even that short walk left me feeling quite uncomfortable.

 On the basis of that one brief experience I decided that I would definitely be taking one more day off work to recover further. So here I am at home, and I have to confess that I am having to be extra constructive to avoid too much boredom. I think I just added a snooze for an hour, or longer if I can manage it, after I have finished writing here. Maybe after that I will force myself to watch a James Bond movie. Maybe, if I feel I am continuing to improve, I may go for an exploratory wander to the shops later on, or maybe I'll have another snooze.......zzz......zzzz......zzz....zzz
Monday 20th May 2013
08:13 BST

  The afternoon was quite pleasant yesterday. It was bright, sometimes sunny, and at 18 or 19 C, rather warmer than expected. Sometime after nightfall the clouds thickened up, and trapped some of that warmth, but also brough a few showers. This morning it was 11 or 12 C - a reasonably pleasant temperature for the start of the day. The last shower seemed to have occured maybe an hour I left to come to work. Showers were forecast for this morning, but the afternoon could bring a glimpse of the sun, and the top temperature was forecast to be about 17 C.

 I came really close to going to the pub yesterday evening, but after having a hot shower, and washing my hair, good sense overcame me, and I decided to stay in and try and recover a bit more before facing the trials of coming to work this morning. It was a big disappointment not going to see the guys and gals at the open mic session, but I think I made the right decision. I watched a bit of TV before reading in bed for half an hour before turning out the light at just gone 9pm.

 I don't know if it was exhaustion, or if it was just the result of getting better, but I did manage to get a fair bit of proper sleep last night. I did wake up many times during the night to have a good cough. So I don't really know what the longest block of uninterupted sleep I got was, but I feel sure it must have been 2 hours or more on one occasion. It was a shame that I had to come to work today because I felt I was just getting the hang of sleeping again when it was time to get up.

 I did not feel happy about travelling to work, but it may not have been quite as bad as I expected. After being stuck indoors for so long it was a bit of a shock to the system when I walked to the station. I was just over halfway there when I felt a bit breathless with hints of feeling "funny". I did stop for a minute to give my nose a good blowing, and to have a good coughing session. I had evidently been walking to the station faster than I intended because I had almost a 10 minute wait for the train. That gave me ample opportunity to read the front page of The Metro before going up and over the footbridge to the platform for London bound trains.

 To my surprise I didn't cough and splutter nearly as much as I predicted I would while on the train. I don't know how audible it was to the people around me, but my breathing included lots of burbling noises from my congested wind pipes. It is handy that there are windows on the long walkway between Waterloo East and Waterloo mainline stations. I used looking out of one as an excuse to stop and get by breath back while halfway across the link. With retrospect, I am not sure if I really needed to do that, but while the opportunity was there I took it.

 The next bit I was dreading was the walk from the station to work. In fact is was only as bad as it has been for the past few months. Maybe it would have been worse but for the happy chance of bumping into someone I vaguelly know. Stopping to chat for a minute or two may have been all the reset I required. Now all I have to do is to get through the day, and get home again. By the end of work I should have recovered a bit more. At least I am keeping my fingers crossed that it will be the case. If nothing else, I have always got a visit to Tesco to look forward to on the way home. I'm sure I'll find the energy for that, and I am looking forward to buying something delicious, and more than likely unhealthy (as the most delicious things always are).
Sunday 19th May 2013
13:12 BST

  It's hard to recall what the weather was like yesterday. I think that is because it wasn't warm, and it wasn't cold, it wasn't wet, and it wasn't dry, it wasn't bright and sunny, and it wasn't terribly gloomy. In short it was sort of "meh" !  Today is quite similar, but maybe just a little brighter. It would seem to be 19 C outside, and that is rather suprisingly high compared to the last forecast I saw for today. That forecast suggested it would only be 13 or 14 C. Tomorrow looks like it will be cooler, less sunny, and there is likely to be some showers in the morning.

 The cold that I reported starting on Friday went into overdrive yesterday, and I felt quite poorly.  The worst aspect was that I started to head towards pneumonia (at least I think I did). I became quite short of breath after doing the most trivial tasks. Had it got worse I might have had to call 999. Instead I sent a text message to a friend to ask if he had a spare asthma inhaler, and if he could bring it over for me. Fortunately he had one, and he rushed it over to me. It may not have been quite the intended use for it, but it worked admirably (as past experience suggested it would). Once I got my airways open I was able to give my nose a good powerful blow, and to cough up (over a period of time) a lot of the mucus that was blocking my airways. I felt a lot better after that.

 Like on Friday night, I did not sleep well last night. The only way I could sleep was to lie on my back instead of on my side, and even then I would only sleep for 30 - 60 minutes before waking up coughing and spluttering. So today I feel that I am a little sleepy, and would dearly love to sleep solidly for a few hours. The good news, or at least I hope it is good news, is that I seem to be recovering quite fast. It's probably going to take a long while to clear my chest up, but most aspects of this cold seem to have cleared up now. I may even feel well enough to go to the pub tonight - although that may be a silly thing to do.

 I didn't really do anthing of note yesterday, but this morning I have been sort of productive. I was a little unhappy with my main PC. Since upgrading the operating system to Linux Mint Debian I thought it felt a little slower, and there was some software that I wanted to use that seemed unavailable from the debian repositories. So this morning I installed Linux Mint 13 with the Xfce4 desktop. It is a "long term support" version that should be supported until 2017. I've installed all my favourite software, and I've even got a bit of it to work that didn't previously.

 Some time ago I bought my first, and so far only Blu Ray disk. I only bought it because it was in the 99p shop for, obviously 99p ! Sometime after that I bought a new CD/DVD burner that also played Blu Ray disks. I had managed to play the disk, but playback was very jumpy.  Now with my new operating system installation, plus some software, I am able to rip the disk so I can play it back as an mp4 file from the hard disk. I expect it will playback a lot more smoothly like that. The film is called "It Could Happen To You", and after reading about it, I think I have a good idea why it ended up for sale for 99p !
Friday 17th May 2013
08:49 BST

  Yesterday ended up overcast, but that was no bad thing. It meant that this morning was less cold than the morning before. It was about 9 C when I left to come to work today. It is mostly a very dull morning. On a few rare occasions, and maybe only lasting a minute or so, some semblance of sunshine has managed to be visible between small cracks in the clouds. Sometimes it looks like it will rain, but the forecast says it will stay dry even if it is dull and cloudy all day. The top temperature for today is supposed to be a less than awe inspiring 12 or 13 C.

 I took far more care of what, and how much I ate last night. I finished off the remains of the pasta that I had cooked and eaten the night before, but last night I added a small can of tuna instead of serving it on top of some very oily, smoked, and peppered mackerel. So there was no repeat of the night/morning before (which had a lot of "repeating" - burp !!). This morning I could have felt better, but it was about average - in terms of the digestive system.

 In one respect I feel below average. I seem to be coughing a lot this morning, and to go with that I have a bit of a drippy nose. It is possible that one is causing the other, but I don't know which way round it is. It is a bit like having a cold, but there are no other obvious symptoms. Curiously enough, other bits of me are feeling better than normal. I guess these are all symptoms of that disease we call life.
Thursday 16th May 2013
16:58 BST

  There was very little sunshine yesterday, but there was a fair bit of rain, and a great deal of dull leaden skies. With just an hour or two of daylight left, the clouds broke up, and the sun burst through. The clouds continued to dissipate, and the sky was clear during the night. That allowed the temperature to drop quite markedly. Some places in the countryside may well have had a frost, but here it was a few degrees higher than that - but still bone chillingly cold ! There are some nasty looking clouds appearing in the sky now, but it has been a fairly sunny day.  The current temperature is a barely acceptable 15 C currently. Tomorrow is forecast to stay dry, but it is going to be miserably ovecast for most of the time.

 Last night I cooked up a wonderful dinner. It was essentially pasta with mackerel, plus anchovies for extra richness. I always misjudge how big a home made pasta will end up, and as usual I made far too much. I didn't cook the mackerel in with the pasta - which was handy. The mackerel was actually smoked and peppered, and it was very oily. Added to the oil from the small tin of anchovies, and with stuff like tomato puree, it made for a very rich meal. Too rich !

 I didn't eat all the pasta, and I have enough to form the basis of a dinner for tonight, but I did eat other stuff, and that may be fortunate. I went to bed feeling moderately full, but not over stuffed. I read for a bit, and then turned the light out. I was probably asleep 15 - 20 minutes before 9pm - which was good, and as intended. I didn't sleep that well, and woke up from funny dreams several times. I think it was because the richness of my pasta meal was reacting badly in my gut. At 2am (or was it 3am ?) I woke up with the taste of fishy reflux in my mouth - very nasty.

 I thought it highly likely that I might throw up, but some indigestion tablets calmed things down, and I managed to catch a bit more poor sleep. At around 4am I woke up with guts ache, and a couple of visits to the toilets helped that a bit. At 5am when I should have been getting up to go to work I was actually going back to to bed. I still wasn't exactly comfortable, but I managed to fall asleep again. I woke up at 8am - a nice convenient time to phone into work, and tell them the good news !

 By mid morning I was feeling comfortable apart from the occasional nauseating, and paint peeling effects of a little follow on wind. I have to confess that I've been very lazy today. The only thing I have done of note is to wash a duvet cover. I took advantage of the sunshine, and breeze to let it initially dry on a clothes horse in the garden. After dripping for a while it dried very quickly, and that was very handy because as sson as it was partly dry it got caught by the wind and ended up on the ground. It's now drying inside (and is most probably fully dry by now).

 I received a text message earlier to say there was no after work drinking in The Catford Ram tonight. That's both good and bad. I would have liked a drink, but maybe it is safer not to have one tonight. There will be plenty of opportunity to get plastered, one way or another, at the weekend. Maybe even tomorrow night because I am not keen on going to the pub, The Swan in West Wickham, where Chain will be playing. Maybe I'll go, or maybe I won't. It will be a spur of the moment things. Hopefully there will be some entertainment on Beckenham Green on Saturday afternoon, and maybe even a gig in the evening.
Wednesday 15th May 2013
08:08 BST

  There was quite a bit of rain yesterday. It was rarely very heavy, but it was quite persistent from mid morning to mid afternoon. I was quite pleased that it stopped in time for me to go home in the dry. It wasn't that cold by then either. I'm not sure what the temperature was as I travelled home, but I would take a guess that it was around 15 C. There was even a little sunshine when I was back in Catford. This morning has started out mostly gloomy. There was a minute or two of sunshine while I was on the train - which was nice, but I would have been happier with a lot more. It was rather chilly this morning. Some places away from London may have even seen a frost, but it was about 7 C when I left for work. The forecast says it is going to both brighten up, and rain this afternoon. If there is enough sunshine it may get close to, but never quite reach warm by mid afternoon. A rather strong wind will be making it feel cooler no matter what the air temperature is.

 It was a busy day at work yesterday, and I didn't like it ! One particular irritation was the continuation of a job I started on Monday. The job did not have any particular goals, and I had no idea what I was supposed to achieve - mainly because the person who set the job had no idea either. In one respect it was like blue sky research - "lets try this and see what happens, and then see if we can do something with the results" - except it wasn't quite like that, and was mostly going over old ground. I went as far as I could yesterday, and then dumped the whole lot back in the lap of the development engineer who originally set the task. He gets paid for that sort of thing - I don't !

 The next task was much more to my liking - instant test box invention ! It did come with one downside though. Someone decided to discuss some aspects of it just as I was heading out the door to go home. His comments added nothing of either negative or positive values to my work, but they did make me just late enough to have to pay peak time fares (i.e. touching in with my Oyster card after 4pm), and to miss my usual train from Waterloo East station.

 I came quite close to eating healthily last night. It is true that I had two low (430 ish) calorie tikka flavoured steamed chicken and vegetable ready meals, but I didn't stop there. The reason why those ready meals were low calorie, and proudly made a big thing about it on the front of the packet, is that they were also very low in size. Maybe I am greedy, but a meal that can be consumed in just 5 spoonfuls is not much of a meal in my opinion. Having decided I wanted more I made a foolish mistake. I open up a Venison salami sausage that I had bought in Aldi last week. It was more delicious than I could resist, and I scoffed the whole thing. Very enjoyable, but probably also very fatty. Venison is a very lean meat, but salami needs lots of fat to hold it together, and this salami had a lot of pork fat added.

 I should have gone to bed half an hour or more early last night, but it was closer to an hour late. If I had been abke to sleep perfectly last night, I would have got 7 hours sleep, and if it was more like summer, and less like autumn at the moment, that would probably have been enough. This morning I feel sleepy as well as feeling generally bad. When I first got out of bed I felt awful. I seemed to be very stiff and creaky. The very worst of that was over soon enough, but I still felt crap as I made my way to work. As my train pulled into Earlsfield station I came to the realisation that I had hardly coughed at all up to that point. It was probably a bad mistake to think about it because as soon as I left the station I started to cough, and I was hacking away all the way to work. I sometimes feel I am not so much allergic to work, but to the air of Earlsfield. Now I am sitting down in the just-about-warm I don't feel so bad apart from a very mild headache

 My aim for tonight is to do some laundry, and to wash my hair. If I get home in sunshine it is possible I may manage to do both, but if it is raining I may do nothing. With the forecast saying sunshine and showers this afternoon, I guess it will just be pot luck as to what I end up doing..
Tuesday 14th May 2013
08:43 BST

  Yesterday wasn't so bad a day in terms of the weather. There were a few spots of rain, but rather paradoxically they only fell when the sun was shining ! Mostly it was sunny, and contrary to expectations it ended up pleasantly warm at 17 C. Today may not be so good. There is a huge clump of cloud that is coming in fast from the SW. It is a rather cool 9 C, and lightly overcast this morning, and from now onwards it will get considerably worse. It will be almost like winter is back. It won't actually get any colder, and may even warm up to a glorious 10 C, but the forecast says we will have to get out our water wings sometime around midday. Cold torrential rain is supposed to fall for most of the afternoon until all the cloud passes us by sometime nearer nightfall. Maybe tomorrow will be dry, but it will probably be cold(ish) and overcast all day (boo !!!).

 It wasn't long before I started to feel weary yesterday. I don't know how much of it was physical tiredness, and how much was just ennui from being at work. After less sleep than is desirable the night before, I feel most of it was just physical weariness, but work, or maybe to the journey to work did seem to bring worse effects. Too much and too little food, booze, and sleep all had various effects on my body during last week when I was on holiday from work, but none of them seem to revive my throaty cough. Yesterday afternoon at work, and on the way home from work, I was coughing up lumps again. It slowed, and then mostly stopped as I approached Catford, and I was fine all evening. I feel that I am definitely allergic to work ! Maybe it's sick building syndrome or something, but it's definitely nothing to do with any material I handle, or processes I carry out. I know this for sure because I almost did bugger all yesterday - if you don't count a lot of thinking and head scratching.

 Thinking is definitely getting a lot harder these days. This morning I suffered from what some would describe as "a senior moment". I felt uncomfortable on the train to Waterloo East station. So once the train arrived I got off the train and went into the gents to make myself less uncomfortable. It was noisy, but I achieved my aim of getting comfortable - except in one minor respect...... As I approached the end of the long linkway that connects Waterloo East to Waterloo mainline station, I came to the realisation that I really should have thought of the wider issues (as the politicians are prone to say) while sitting down in the gents earlier. The idea that I could also have had a pee completely passed me by as I concentrated on other problems. I ended up having to pay 30p to have a wee in the gents on Waterloo station (they are free on Waterloo East station).

 All this talk of toilets reminds me that I sometimes hear voices in my head. They are all echoes from the past, and yesterday morning, as I walked past the gents on Waterloo East, some words came winging their way from a past time, a time when grapphiti used to be written in chalk (probably stolen from the blackboard at school). These words, a poem in fact, wormed their way into my head completely unbidden..............
The cleaner's work was all in vain, The shithouse poet's struck again !
 I reckon that rude little verse dates back to the army in world war two, and maybe even earlier, but I think the first time I saw it was probably in 1965 plus or minus 3 or 4 years. If I took a guess, I would say I saw it in the long ago demolished toilets at the south end of Ladywell Recreation ground.Those toilets were damned handy when spending all day in the park getting up to all sorts of mischief when I was probably older than 6, and probably younger than 12 years old. As the crow flies, those toilets were not far from home. Maybe just a few hundred yards, but with both the river and railway between them and home, it may have been a 2 mile walk between the two - and 2 miles is a long way to go in an emergency (plus there was always the chance that you wouldn't get allowed out again if you went home). Of course these were the days before paedophiles lurked on every street corner, and an elastoplast would cure any known childhood injury (if that child could even be bothered to say they had injured themselves - I always found a snot covered hankerchief would disguise most of my wounds).
Monday 13th May 2013
08:20 BST

  The weather is going downhill again. Yesterday was mostly bright, but the temperature was only just in the shirtsleeves comfort area. There were also a few light showers. This morning started off rather dull, but at least it was not too cold. It has already started to brighten up, and this afternoon is forecast to be very sunny, but rather sadly, we can only expect the temperature to rise a few degrees from the 12 C that I measured just before I came to work.

  I have corrected something I originally wrote on Saturday - ""Bizzy Bee" stain touch rubber gloves" - that should be satin touch, and not stain touch - although I suppose the idea of protective hand wear, as it might be described by the 'elf and safety industry, for touching stains does not seem too far fetched.

 I've had a load of work dumped on me since arriving at work this morning. It's worse than just work, it is also a puzzle that needs figuring out, and I am not terribly keen on doing all that on my first day back after a weeks holiday. It really only gives me time to summarise recent events. In fact I'll skip over all the less interesting bits, and go straight to last night.

 Unlike the jam night, which didn't really exist, last night definitely saw some good music at The Catford Ram's open mic session. When I say good music, I probably means some good playing and singing. As usual, much of the music was not to my personal taste. Last night added a saxaphone player to the mix for a few songs, but mostly it was the same musicians and singers. There was either Warren or Carl on drums, Ken on bass guitar, Johnny on keyboards, Mayo on guitar, and with Adrian, Abigale and Beverley doing the singing.

 As you can see, I can now name all the principal players, and we are getting to know each other. If I had time I could put their "mug shots" up here, but time is against me, and besides which, all the photos are on my PC at home. I don't think these Sunday nights will ever replace a proper gig, but I seem to enjoy myself more and more at them. In a way that is unfortunate because it is not easy to get away from the pub as soon as the music finishes. Last night I was in the pub a little beyond closing time talking to Warren, the promoter/drummer/sound mixer, and also to one of the singers. The singer, Beverley, is a 50 year old grandmother as near as I can make out. She has a great sense of humour, and has a great voice.

 By the time I got home it was well past 11pm, and it was probably midnight before I got to bed. Getting up again at 5 o'clock this morning was very easy, but staying up rather less so. Once I had dried myself off after a nice hot shower it would have been so easy to go back to bed. Well, I'll have to wait until tonight before I can sleep again, and if I were to review and edit all the pictures and video I shot last night, this evening, I could easily end up having another very late night. I must take steps to avoid that if I can !!
Saturday 11th May 2013
12:16 BST

  If  had been describing the weather we had yesterday 3 or 4 weeks I would have described it as good, but now that spring has definitely sprung, I could only describe it as mediocre. It wasn't cold, and yet it wasn't warm. It wasn't completely dry, and yet it didn't rain that much. I think today is going to be a re-run of yesterday. It is mild, but not exactly warm, and I think we have had at least one short shower so far today. It is rather cloudy, but for the moment the sun is shining. The current temperature is 16 C.

 Yesterday was an interesting day. I had just hit the scotch when I wrote yesterday, but I drank far less than I anticipated. I had just enough to get drunk, and then I got bored with it, but I did feel good for making the gesture. In theory I had sobered up enough by the evening to go out to last night's gig, but there were a couple of problems that prevented me from doing so.

 One problem is that I left it far too late to have a shower, and wash my hair. The other problem was that I had a rather big dinner that effectively grounded me - or so I thought. Lurking at the back of my cupboard were a couple of packets of Vesta freeze dried meals. One was paella, and the other was beef risotto. I have no idea how old they were, or even if they had a "use before" date, but it is possible they have been in my cupboard for in excess of 10 years. Curiosity, and a desire for something novel, induced me to cook them in the microwave.

 The cooking instructions said to add a slab of butter, but I omitted that - maybe in some sort of subconcious desire to make them a little less unhealthy. They were nothing wonderful, but tasty enough. They also seemed to be very filling, or at least they did initially, but because they were in reality not much more than rice cooked with flavoured water, they were very quick to digest. This was to have some advantages later.

 Instead of having a great night out I stayed in and watched some TV. There was one advantage to this - I missed a troupe of morris men who invaded the pub for a while ! I did find a few entertaining programmes on the google box last night, but they were thin on the ground, and for a while the latest "Have I Got News For You" overlapped QI XL on a different channel - which was annoying.

 It was midnight when I went to bed. I didn't have a hangover, and seemed to go to sleep quite easily. I think I got my full 8 hours sleep, but it must have been rather poor sleep judging by the amount of dreaming I did. I can't seem to recall even the subject of most dreams, but I am sure I had plenty of them. I woke up this morning feeling rather stiff and achey, and much of that stiffness and discomfort was from my lower back. In other respects I felt oddly good (relatively speaking).

 After I had been up for a while I rather reluctantly went out to get some shopping from Tesco.
Tesco savings - or lack of themThe reason I was reluctant was that I expected to feel breathless and aching by the time I got to Tesco, and before going in Tesco I actually went further on to extract some money from the hole in the wall.

 I was suprised to find that despite walking reasonably fast, I was hardly affected at all. I could feel that I had worked hard, and it took a minute or two to catch my breath, but it was hardly painful at all.

 Evidently this was because those Vesta rice based meals I ate yesterday had not actually left me stuffed to the gills after all.  Once I got moving things got even better. Walking back from Tesco with three bags of stuff seemed almost effortless for the first time in ages. Maybe I should do this more often.

 I got the ticket shown on the left when I paid at the checkout. It looks really great until you remember that it doesn't mention Aldi or Lidl. My shopping from there would have been as much as a third cheaper for similar, but maybe not identical goods.

 The reason why I went to Tesco was to buy a spare pair of "Bizzy Bee" satin touch rubber gloves. They are very comfortable to wear while committing crimes, murder etc. but more importantly they seem the only brand that doesn't rip and tear when I do my hand laundry.  Had I known I was going to feel fit and healthy (for extremely limited values of fit and healthy) this morning, I would have gone to Aldi for the rest of my shopping.

 I'm not sure what I am doing today - except for this evening. If it were a bit warmer and drier outside I might have attempted to tidy up my front garden. The last week of warmth, and an occasional sprinkling of rain, has made it go into overdrive. What was little more than a few twigs last week now looks like a bonsai tree, and if I let it go for another week or two it will look like a major rainforest !!

 Something that would be useful to do would be to carry on trying to make some sort of sense to my downstairs back room. If I could grit my teeth enough there is a load of stuff in there I could dump. It is even possible that one day my dining table could be useable again, and it is even possible that I might resume re-building my web server that is supposed to live in there. (It is currently a very small PC serving up these web pages running 24 hours a day in my bedroom).

 Tonight I am going to the Ram Jam - jam night at The Catford Ram. It could be anything between a diaster and wonderful, but more significantly it will be taking place - unlike Chain's gig tonight. That gig was supposed to be at The Railway Tavern in Longfield - one of those far away places that I can't realistically get to. I think it was a mix up by the pub that has meant that the gig is cancelled (perhaps another band is on there instead). That means there could be some people on the loose tonight, but I don't think they know about The Ram. Maybe I'll keep it secret until I know enough to either recommend it, or ignore it.

 I've written all this on a different keyboard. Hopefully there will be no letter Bs missing today, although it won't do anything for completely missing words that I sometimes seem to manage without noticing until it is far too late !
Friday 10th May 2013
13:52 BST

  The weather continues to be spring like - not too cold with a mixture of sunny and showery periods. It is currently 18 C as I write, and after a bit of a dull, and occasionally damp morning, the clouds are more broken, and there have been some sunny periods. The forecast is for more of the same, but perhaps temperatures could be a few degrees lower.

Sometime I wonder if I should use sub-headlines like in other blogs, newspapers and stuff. Maybe today I will.

Still Seething

 It's been a funny couple of days since I last wrote anything. It all started on Wednesday night when I went to see an open mic session at The Bulls Head pub in Pratts Bottom. This is a pub that I have never visited before because it is too far off any convenient public transport route. On Wednesday I was promised a lift by someone who was very keen to go - far keener than me even without considering the negative effects of an upset stomach on me earlier during the afternoon.

 Nevertheless, I agreed to go, and the arrangement was that I would be met at one of the pubs in Leaves Green that I can get to relatively easily. Afterwards I was promised a lift all the way home. It didn't work out like that. Some domestic difficulties meant the person who wanted me to go was unable to pick me up until a lot later than the agreed time. So I made arrangements to get a lift from Jo and Chris (of Chain) who were going anyway. The arrangement was that I would be picked up at West Wickham station - as indeed I was, perfectly on time.

 Meanwhile my original transport was making arrangements to get another person to go - a person who originally said they would definitely not be going. It was because of that fact that I agreed to go in the first place. It would have been nice to be told that the other person had been talked into it while I was still upsetting Jo and Chris' arrangements by pleading for a lift. Jo and Chris were actually very good about it, and more than happy that they could give me a lift to a place they had been recommending for some time. The only reason it hadn't happened before was the difficulty of getting me home afterwards.

 When we arrived at the pub I was none too happy about the venue itself. It had a long narrow bar of the type I hate because you are forever having to barge your way through - there is no other option (although I use the word barge to more usually mean an endless series of "excuse me"). That in itself was bad enough, but the "stage" was almost like a big cupboard at the side of the bar. It's great for the musicians who all have this little cubby hole to squeeze into, and musically interact with each on a very personal level, but it's is a wholly useless situation for anyone who wants to watch the musicians play.
the black hole of Pratts Bottom
This is the best view of the musicians after viciously barging one's way to the front !!

 This did not put me in the best of moods, and if it were any way possible to get home under my own steam, I would probably have left early.  My mood darkened further when, with no prior announcement, my driver turned up with the alternative companion who was not even supposed to going out that night. It left me with a strong feeling that I had, or even that we had both been manipulated. The final straw was when I learned that the alternative companion had arranged that both of us would just be dropped off in Bromley to get a bus the rest of the way home.

 I was not happy on Wednesday night, and I was still seething when I woke up yesterday morning after a very bad nights sleep. There is an untold part of this story. I told a very abbreviated part of the further story after a few beers to Chris when I met him, and his mates, for a beer last night in The Catford Ram. The rest I'll leave to fester inside myself. It needed three pints of Guinness last night to loosen up, and after three I decided that was the optimum amount and called it a day.

 This morning, after being in bed for most of 12 hours, and sleeping quite well for at least 8 of them, and maybe over 9 of them, I got up still feeling miffed. I feel quite ill from all sorts of eating disasters on top of previously lost sleep, and many booze sessions. It makes me feel quite crappy - both mentally and physically. So much so that I feel sure I am not going to the gig in Greenwich tonight. In some ways it is a self fulfilling prophecy. Having imagined I would not have a good time, I think I've already convinced myself that I won't.

 Just before I started writing all this I poured myself a very large scotch !  There is an excellent chance that I won't even be sober enough to go out tonight - or alternately, I'll have too powerful a hangover to go out. I am very aware that booze is not the answer to these problems - at least not in a conventional sense, but in this case there is a twist to the logic that may not be rational, but is amusing - and of course it is amusement I need right now. I am deliberately drinking scotch because I know it is wrong, and I want to do wrong because I feel my rebellious streak has been stoked up in the last 48 hours. It is right because it is wrong !! (I'll deal with the consequences later - probably with a paracetamol or two in a darkened room).

 In theory I should be going out getting some shopping in today, but it is not essental, and so I can't be bothered. I haven't been totally inert today though. I have done some laundry, but that is all. I hope I'll be in the mood to get that shopping tomorrow. Later tomorrow I will almost certainly be investigating goings on at The Catford Ram. As far as I can see it has only been advertised on the chalkboards, but tomorrow sees the start of a series (possibly) of jam nights at the Ram (The Ram Jam - groan !!). If the core musicians of the Sunday night open mic sessions are there it could be quite an enjoyable night - depending on what they play.

 To fill in time on Sundays they have done some entertaining Santana like free form numbers. There is something about watching it live that makes it far more exciting than the often tedium of the recorded version. One of the great things about tomorrow night is that it is just around the corner. I can wander there, or leave any time I fancy. Plus, as far as I know, I am the only one going. So there won't be any silly politics and stuff like that. It would be nice to go with someone, very nice if it was a kindred spirit, but I am quite capable of enjoying by myself without having to manipulate anyone else.
Wednesday 8th May 2013
06:37 BST

  The last few days were, on the whole, bright and slightly warm. Occasionally some cloud would drift in front of the sun, ut it stayed dry. Temperatures have been peaking at, or just under, 20 C. Today marks a big change. There has already been one light shower, and I think more are expected. This morning has started at nearly 15 C, and by mid afternoon, after a bit of patchy sunshine, it should get up to 17 C - or so the BBC's notoriously incorrect forecasters predict !

 Bank holiday Monday saw the Petts Wood May Fayre take place. I wasn't interested in much of it, but I did go to see the 4 bands, plus a short solo set from Hannah Wells my "dancing partner's" daughter.
Hannah Wells at Petts Wood
Hannah Wells and Jo Corteen
Hannah off and on the stage (with Jo Corteen).

 It could be said that the day was a bit of a disaster as far as the stage area went. The fiirst band who were due on, The Chase, pulled out for unknown reasons. So the next band went on early. They were called Kimera, and it was soon obvious that the PA sounded awful ! My theory is that all the equipment had been in storage over the long winter, and hadn't been checked properly before being used. On top of that, I am not convinced that the man at the mixing desk was doing a very good job. If he turned the volume down a bit there would have been less distortion, and may have drawn the crowd in closer at the same time.
Kimera at Petts Wood
Kimera with Sam on the left,  Jamie at the front, and I think it's Ross on the right.
(meanwhile, on the far right, Matt Hemsley desperately tries to get things working).
The Dirty Perks
The Dirty Perks
Chain at Petts Wood
Matt Hemsley and Jo Corteen
Guy Harris from Chain
 Chain - the top picture reveals some of the technical difficulties I had. The sun was behind the stage and causing quite a bit of glare. It wasn't too bad at first, but towards the end, when the sun was lower in the sky, I think it drove some people away because it became hard to look at the stage. Middle picture - much crisper pictures from the side. Matt Hemsley to the left on bass guitar, and Jo Corteen on rhythm guitar. Bottom picture - Guy Harris on drums - a "long lens shot" right to the back of the stage.
Chris Mayer and Jo Corteen look on with a critical eye
Chris Mayer and Jo Corteen looking at Kimera performing with a critical eye.

  There were other technical problems that were overcome in one way or another, except for one. The keyboards that had been provided for Dave Griffiths to play in his often flamboyant style, could not be made to work. The 12V power connector was irretrievely broken, and Chain had to play without Dave's keyboard sounds. It was still an enjoyable day, and most definitely worth going if only to hear this - it is wonderfull !!!

Jo Corteen filling in time by singing "Landslide"

 After the show several of us (Jo Corteen, Chris Mayer, Dave Griffiths, Kevin, and his wife, plus Jo's brother) retired to the local boozer where several pints were drunk, and Dave treated us to many amusing stories. Then it was onto the 208 bus back to Catford, and a visit to the fried chicken shop for some breakfast (well it was the first thing I ate all day despite it being 7pm).

 Yesterday I spent hours and hours editing maybe half of the hundreds of pictures I had taken, plus a few videos. I still have plenty more pictures to review/edit, but yesterday afternoon I had to stop and go to Lewisham Hospital for my yearly retinopathy scan. As usual, the first analysis showed something so minor that the technician wasn't even sure it was there. I'll get the results of the detailed check later, but I'm not expecting any trouble.

 After get my eyes blasted with the hospitals super microscope camera with mega flash, I wandered back into Catford, and met Kevin for a couple of pints of strong ale in the Wetherspoons pub. After a few beers I went home via the 99p shop where I bought all sorts of stuff  and rubbish. Once back at home I treated myself by calling The Turkish Kitchen, and ordering a fairly expensive, but very delicious meal. An hour or three later I was in bed with Landslide still ringing in my ears. Jo performed it so well it has left a very lasting impression.

 I think that today I will be slaving over a hot computer trying to finish reviewing/editing the rest of Monday's photos. It seems I might have several options for tonight. There are two possibilities for open mic sessions, and also the option to just vegetate in front of the TV or PC. I'll decide later what to actually do tonight.
Sunday 5th May 2013
15:54 BST

  There wasn't as much sunshine as I had hoped for yesterday afternoon, but it wasn't bad, and it did feel warm enough. During the late evening it clouded over again, but it stayed dry. The cloud kept some of the warmth in, and this morning started off fresh, but not cold. There have been some sunny spells today, but probably more periods of dullness. At 1pm the temperature hit 19 C, and that was outside my back door on the north side of the house, and always in the shade.
19 degrees C today
  We've probably said goodbye to any further sunshine today, but it should stay dry. Tomorrow, an English bank holiday, when by tradition it is supposed to rain,  is forecast to be bright and sunny with the temperature hitting 19 C - possibly more.

 It was a bit of a struggle to get out last night, but I gritted my teeth, and headed for the bus stop. There are two alternative ways of getting to The British Oak. One way is to get the 199 bus to Greenwich, and change to a 386 bus that stops right outside the venue. The other was is to get the 54 bus to within a little less than half a mile of the pub, and walk the rest.  When I got to the bus stop the Countdown display suggested that both buses were in a race to get to my stop fiirst !  There was possibly less than a minute in it, but it was the 54 that arrived fiirst.

 One of the problems last night was that I had eaten too late in the afternoon, and eaten quite well. That always makes walking hard for me, and since last winter, very hard going. Maybe I should have waited the extra minute and got the 199 bus. Fortunately I found the perfect excuse to stop and get my breath back when I was 2/3rds of the way to the pub. Originally I stopped just for a second to look at the traffic on the Blackwall Tunnel approach road from the overbridge that is on the way to the pub.
looking towards the Blackwall Tunnel from Old Dover Road, Blackheath
This is the view towards the Blackwall Tunnel (maybe a mile further on) from Old Dover Road.
The setting sun was giving a nice rosy glow to the horizon, but then I turned through 90 degrees to face where the sun was actually setting.
the sky is on fire !
This photo just can't do justice to the fiery glow I could see in the sky.

 It was very hot in the pub when I arrived there, and everyone had a bit of a sweat on. Last summer the pub would have all the doors and windows open until the music started, but I am sure they didn't last night, and they may have even had some heating on earlier. The warmth made me feel almost drowsy, or as drowsy as you can be with exciting loud music playing ! I wasn't unique in that respect. Even Chris, my dancing friend, was a lot less keen to dance than usual. I did joing her a few times, but it was hard work, and I felt even more out of my depth than usual.
Chain playing at The British Oak pub on 4th May 2013
It looks all right and breezy in this picture, but I do have a picture which shows that even Jo Corteen (centre of picture - vocals and rhythm guitar) has a glaze of perspiration on her face.
Guest singer Andy
Guest singer Andy belting out a rather poor rendition of "Crossroads". Andy is a very powerful singer, and the microphone usually overloads when he sings. It did on this occasion, but in addition the song was not one of his finest ! Also in the picture - Matt Hemsley on bass, Guy Harris on drums, Martin on keyboards, and Chris Mayer on lead guitar.

 After the gig had finished I helped knock down someof the gear, and take it out to the cars. It was a bit of a struggle inside, but not too bad once out in the cool fresh air. It was enough to earn a lift back to Catford from Matt Helmsley. He also gave Kevin a lift too.  It was too late to go for an extra pint, and that was just as well because I didn't really fancy another, but not too late to call in the kebab shop for a big greasy kebab !

 It was a bit silly getting that kebab, but it was nice to munch through it while watching some late night TV.  I can't quite remember what it was I watched on TV. I don't think I was particularly drunk, but I was ever so tired by the time I got in bed at 2.30am ! I slept quite well apart from trying to wake up at 5am ! I got back to sleep quite easily, but I woke up, and got up well before I had managed 8 hours of sleep.

 In theory I should have felt dreadful this morning, but apart from some back ache, and a very mild hangover, I seemed to feel OK. Certainly OK enough to decide to do a bit more hack and slash gardening ! I cut back a lot of over hanging branches of various trees/shrubs and cleared another yard of garden path. It is taking an age, but I seem to be making some sort of progress in rehabiliating my back garden, but quite how I am going to clear the are that should be lawn is a mystery at the moment.
another yard of garden path revealed
Now about half of the garden path has been revealed. The area to the left should probably be well manicured lawn - yeah, in my dreams !!

 Not only did I spend nearly an hour (maybe more, but who was counting ?) hack and slashing, but a bit later on I managed to do some laundry. Ideally I should have done some bed clothes while the weather is good for drying them, but I opted to just do a few shirts and some underwear. There is a fair chance that it will already be dry after spending a few hours out in the garden - or maybe not because the air is fairly still today.

 Later on this evening, in theory in an hours time as I write this, I'll e going to another open mic session at The Catford Ram. I must admit I don't feel quite as keen to go tonight as I did last week, but I reckon I'll get there sooner or later.
Saturday 4th May 2013
15:07 BST

  I'm not sure if the temperature hit 20 C yesterday, but it may well have got close to it. It was a bright shiny day with plenty of sunshine. Sometime during the night it clouded over. That kept some of the warmth in, and the day started at a barely acceptable 9 C. There have been some sunny periods today, and there might possibly be some more in the last hours before sunset. Right now there are a mixture of blue patches and dark grey clouds. There have been a few showers, but I think they have been fairly light. It's currently just a tad shy of 18 C, although it feels cooler than that to me.

 I stuck with my plan to go home via Tesco after work yesterday, although I didn't manage to stick to it that rigidly. Much of what I bought was reasonably to very healthy stuff, but a few items were decidedly unhealthy !! My dinner consisted of salad and hot cooked, and fairly greasy chicken. That wasn't too far from my plan, but I ate other stuff - quite a lot of it ! I should have felt quite stuffed when I eventually went to bed at midnight, but oddly enough I didn't.

 I managed to have a too short lay in this morning, but I had an urge to continue something I started last night. That was to upgrade my PC. Last night I temporarily hooked up a spare, and bigger hard disk to the PC, and installed the most up to date version of Linux Mint Debian on it. Since this morning I have been transferring files and configurations over from the old hard disk to the new one. It seems to have gone well.

 Every single one of my emails stored in the Thunderbird profile, some going back over 10 years, 4.5GB of them, and all the account settings are now working on the new disk. The same goes for Firefox and all my bookmarks. What I never realised was just how many gigabytes of video, pictures, and audio files I had to copy across. Well I say I didn't realise it, but in a way I did because the reason for using a new hard disk was that the old one was getting very full. I now have loads of space - until next time !!

 One of the problems of doing all this computer stuff is the periods of intense stress followed by periods of intense boredom waiting for stuff to happen. It has meant that I have been going through my final ration of cigarettes faster than desired. I've now barely got two days supply left, and after that I don't intend to buy any more (at least not at UK prices). It has happened faster than I anticipated, and I'm not sure if I am ready to go cold turkey so soon. I may have to resort to using nicotine patches for a couple of days to get me into the swing of it.

 One other thing I've done today is to finally getting around to editing some pictures I took in the park behind work last Wednesday. I only had time for about a 10 minute lunchtime walk, but it felt so warm and sunny that it couldn't be rushed (I think I actually took 20 minutes - oops !). I don't think these pictures need any special captions. You can make your own up if you like.....
dandelions and buttercups
new leaf
apple blossom
heavily pruned tree
face on a tree
Friday 3rd May 2013
07:57 BST

  Yesterday warmed up nicely. Almost non stop sunshine raised the late afternoon temperature to at least 18 C. There is a good chance that today could be very similar to yesterday. Once again it has started out finger numbing cold, maybe as low as just 3 or 4 C, but the sky is blue, and the temperature must have gone up a degree or two since I left home to come to work. By late afternoon it should be at least 18 C, and with any luck, over 20 C !!

 During the day I learned that the Thursday night drinkers were to be drinking in The Blythe Hill Tavern, and not The Catford Ram. That was a bit unfortunate because The Blythe Hill Tavern is quite a long walk from the station - particularly after a day at work, and an hours commute back home. It was doubly awkward because I needed to pop into home first to pick something up, and that would mean walking in the opposite direction to the pub.

 I think Kevin was of the same opinion that it was a little too far to go, and we decided to meet in The London And Rye pub instead. I had three pints in there, and if I had allowed Kevin to talk me into it, it would not have needed much effort to persuade me to stay for several more, but I put my foot down, and left after those three pints. It would havee been very tempting to go home via the fried chicken shop, but I managed to talk myself out of that, and talked myself into going into the 99p shop - which is probably just as bad !!

 My dinner last night was supposed to be a fairly light affair - at least that is how I had thought it ought to be. In fact it was light in size and weight, but the 99p shop corned beef, and 99p shop cheese with chilli, would have added lots of fat and stuff that I was trying to avoid. On the plus side, I didn't feel stuffed when I went to bed, and it is just possible that I feel microscopically better for it this morning.

 I nearly got carried away on my computer last night, but it seemed to be a night of positive decisions, and just before 8pm I switched the computer off, and prepared for bed. I can't be sure, but I think I may have been fast asleep by 8:15pm. It would have been nice if I had slept right through to 5am (not counting a few minutes of being awake to have a pee), but annoyingly, I found I couldn't sleep beyond 4:10am. I'm sure that if I had got up for just an hour, I could have gone back to bed, and slept for a few more hours.

 I evidently felt well enough to finally wash my filthy hair this morning, and by getting up so early there was time for it to mostly dry before going out in the cold. There may not have been and snow or frost this morning, but by the time my train arrived my fingers were going numb. The train was nice and warm, and it felt very painful as the feeling returned back to my fingers as they warmed up. It was all a far cry from last night when I was quite comfortable going to the pub (and coming home again) in just shirtsleeves !

 I guess that I don't feel that bad this morning. In some respects it is hard to judge because I tend to push myself close to the limit. So this morning I was breathless with the usual muscles and bits aching when I got to work, but I had walked a lot faster than I had, say, a few days ago when I arrived at work in a similar state. It will be nice if I can get back to doing it at full speed with no other effect but a bit of breathlessness, but I sometimes think that I am too damaged for that to happen.

 I was plotting the possibilities of going out tonight. A day or two ago it seemed like a good idea, but as the reality of itapproaches it seems less and less like a good idea. I'll be going to gigs tomorrow night as well as on Sunday and the bank holiday Monday. That ought to be enough for me. So tonight I shall go home via Tesco, try to buy more salad and less lard, and look forward to putting my feet up and slowly vegetating until I go to bed :-)
Thursday 2nd May 2013
08:17 BST

  It was at least 17 C when I got home from work yesterday. It was around mid morning before the misty sky cleared, and by midday the sky was like clear blue gin with the sun blazing down. I think the sky stayed clear during the night. It was clear when the sun rose, and it was also very chilly. I think we only missed a frost be a few degrees. Some bad weather is on it's way, but that shouldn't get here until Saturday. Meanwhile it is already starting to warm up this morning, and if the sun can stay out all day, we could see a nice improvement on yesterday's 17 C (although the forecast, while agreeing about the amount of sunshine is less optimistic about the temperature exceeding yesterday's).

 It was pleasant going home in the warmth yesterday, and when I got home I was inspired to launder the last few items of clothing that I missed out doing the evening before. It is lucky I did it before I cooked and ate my dinner. I had Bami Goreng noodles with some extra smoked sausage last night. I didn't think it was a particularly big dinner, but I felt almost painfully stuffed after eating it. I'm wondering if someone has secretly fitted me with a gastric band while I slept recently.

 There were two things I couldn't do after that dinner. The first was to lean over the bath to wash my hair - which is most definitely in need of a good wash right now. In theory I could have washed it this morning, but two things went against that. The first was that it was too chilly to go out with damp hair this morning. The second reason is also the second outcome of my large dinner. I felt too uncomfortable to fall asleep last night, and what with receiving several messages on my phone while trying to get to sleep, I ended up missing an hour or two of sleep last night. That meant that I had trouble waking up properly this morning, and although I was out of bed at the right time, I couldn't get myself into gear to go and splosh around in a cold bathroom for well over half an hour - leaving no time at all to wash, let alone partly dry my hair even if I had have been brave enough to go out with damp hair.

 I don't think I'll have time to wash my hair tonight either. With luck I'll be having a few beers with the Thursday guys tonight. I'm going to attempt to not stay too late, and with luck I'll be in bed at a decent time, but you never know...........

 Seen on a garage shutter not a million miles away from where I work !.......
writing on dirty shutter
Wednesday 1st May 2013
08:01 BST

  Yesterday was yet another day that was mostly bright and sunny, and once again the temperature hit a pleasant enough 15 C. For about an hour, starting from when I was waiting for my 16:23 train at Waterloo East station, it did become very overcast, and it looked as if it might rain for a while, but the clouds broe up again, and the last hours of daylight were nice and bright. This morning has started out to be dull and almost misty, and it is also quite chilly again. I think the temperature was only about 5 C when I left to come to work. Soon it should brighten up, and the afternoon is supposed to start very sunny with the temperature climbing to around 15 C again. If the sun come out earlier enough, the temperature could get even higher.

 It all started last Thursday when I decided I had to do something about the lack of forks in my kitchen. Over the last 30 years I seem to have lost 3 out of 4 forks from my cutlery set. It is possible that I have been visited three times by a thief with very specialist tastes, but it's more likely that I have accidently thrown the forks away inside takeaway food wrapping when not entirely sober. I think fork number 3 probably went missing a week or two ago. On Friday I counted all my pennies, and came to the conclusion that I could afford to spend 22 on a brand new 16 piece cutlery set.
 That cutlery set arrived yesterday, and inspired a brief bit of domestication when I got home from work. I did a grand washing up exercise. I washed and dried every bit of old cutlery I had, and except for a couple of sharp vegetable peeling type knives, I put everything away. I extracted one knife, one fork, and one spoon from my new set of cutlery, and put the rest away. Until such time as I need more, perhaps in the rare event I have a visitor, I'll only be using the same knife, fork, and spoon over and over again. Never again (for very finite amounts of never) will I have a pile of washing up hanging around, and my kitchen will look unnaturally neat and tidy (sort of !!).

 As well as blitzing every possible bit of washing up, I also did some laundry - three shirts, two very small table cloths, and a couple of tea towels. Once that lot was hung up to dry I gave up being domesticated, and went back to my more usual ways. A part of my normal ways was to watch a bit of TV. I was unfortunate enough to watch a very distressing party political broadcast made by the Conservative party. That thug David Cameron (I think) kept going on about how they are doing everything they can to help the hard working. As a dyed-in-the-wool, card carrying, orthodox lazy slob I found that to be very offensive !

 I almost got an early night last night, but once again I got carried away reading, and I didn't put the book down (actually an ebook on my mobile phone) until 9pm. If I hadn't started reading I may have managed to get to sleep by as early as 8.30pm. Maybe it didn't matter because I woke up a little after 4am again, and I've been awake ever since. I don't seem to feel sleepy right now, but I feel sure I could easily have gone back to bed, and fallen asleep after I had a hot shower at 5.30am this morning.

 I guess I feel very average this morning, or maybe feeling chilly distracted me from any other bad feelings I may have had. That's only the physical feelings. My mental feelings are not so good recently. I think it's probably mid-life crisis part 6 re-visited. I've been thinking that I've had a lot of good times recently, but they all seem like isolated incidents, and there is no thread to pull them together to make a whole. I reckon there is something, or someone missing that would provide some sort of continuity to all this. The good news is that I've just got paid :-)