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<My Diary Archive 2005 My Diary Archive>

February
1 - Woken by Sally. Somehow she seems to be able to wake me just by sitting and staring at me!? . . .walked and found 2p . . . worked the whole day through almost without stopping, using both PCs to rip more of Sis1s extensive CD collection. Dunno why I set myself 'targets' and get all wound up like that, but I was determined to try and get them pretty much done today - and maybe even return them tonight! . . briefly stopped to cram three sausage rolls and two bags of crisps into my face before carrying on . . .touched base with Sis1 to ask if she'd got the anspahone message I'd left her (she hadn't !?), asking if she wanted the CDs I'd done with, returned immediately or if I could hang on to them for another day or so and return them all in one go. Turned out I'd misunderstood what she'd said and she had no problem with me keeping them all until next Monday!! Damn - needn't have slaved away so hard doing them all this last few days. . walked and found a penny. Stopped for jumbo sausage and chips (2.10) takeaway on the way home, just to get food out of the way and enable me to carry on and finish the job . . .touched base with BB . . PCd until early. piii
2 - Woken by Sally around 8am . . .set the last one of the handful of cassettes I'd borrowed from Sis1, recording on the PC, and then walked. Found 6p. . . finished recording and split the tracks. Used the 'down time' while the PC converted all the files to MP3, to sort all Sis1s massive random heap of CDs into some sort of order - mostly alphabetical like I used to keep my cassettes. Figured it was the least I could do before I gratefully returned them. . . left Sally at home and drove to Sis1s, to return her music collection to her overloaded drawer. Spent a while messing with her TV/stereo/DVD checking to see what each could read in the way of DVD-R / CD-R / MP3 formats. Sadly only her DVD was CD-R and MP3 compatible, and then, wasn't as good at it as mine. Oh well. . . stopped off on the way home at a second hand shop to see if there were any cheap record decks for sale. I'm gonna HAVE to find some way of playing that handful of old records I've got, just so I can record and MP3 them. Sadly there was only one, and that was marked as sold. . stopped in Staple Hill and toured the few charity shops, but found nothing worth buying. VERY hungry - Miss Millies was just up the street - I couldn't resist!! Shouldn't have gone in there SO hungry - ended up buying TWO three piece meal deals, with chips and cokes for 6:50!!! Ouch! . . . ate one of the meal deals and just managed to resist eating the other - mostly because I felt guilty about such a cost for 'one' meal! Put the other in the fridge for tomorrow, to make it more cost effective! . . . napped until woken by the phone around 5pm - no ansaphone message left and number witheld! Grrrr. . .PCd music . . . walked and popped up the store for milk. Found 5p. Once again the seat near the swings was unoccupied by yobs, so I sat with a cigarette for a while, enjoying temporarily staking my claim. A bunch of kids soon turned up and milled around near the swings. Couldn't help eavesdropping some of their conversation. (Their distance from me, body language and such, suggested that nothing they said or did was for 'my benefit'.) They'd all been off drinking somewhere. One of the young girls in particular seemed to be acting pretty drunk. Their conversation was almost entirely devoted to the subjects of - how much each'd had to drink and smoke and how wasted they were; who had beaten up who; who was having how much sex with who!! I am often prone to using some bad language in conversation (when it doesn't matter - I can usually 'switch it off' as the situation requires.) The language of those kids knew no bounds. I got up and walked home when the drunk girl started talking about how she used to be frigid but certainly wasn't now - and seemed determined to prove it by sitting on a guys lap on the swing and then embracing another - a bit of jossling and then she started semi indignantly shouting out the 'c' word over and over, describing where she'd just been hit!! YUK!! :o(. . .Mum called to touch base and make a recommendation from tonights TV schedule! :o) 'The Definitive Guide To Sleep'. Watched a little of it. I think I pretty much confirmed from what they said, in circadian rhythm terms, I am definitely an 'evening' person. That fits in with when I have those nasty unshakeable day long headaches - they almost always ease and or disappear in the evening. Also it is absolutely 'normal' to desire more sleep approximately six hours after having woken. That fits SO perfectly with the 'whooziness' I feel in the afternoons around 2pm (after food) when I often/usually/MUST go back to sleep. Hmmmm - blimey - maybe I'm more 'normal' than I thought!!! Oooooer! :o) . . ate three cold sausage rolls and two bags of crisps . . . TVd briefly . . . touched base with BB . . . PCd music and ended up PCing for hours, tidying up loose ends from all that CD ripping. Scanned through the Media Player music database doing 'housekeeping' and altered a few of the MP3 file meta tags for consistancy. (Reminded me of being at work and doing similar 'self checking' processes on the database there! Almost enjoyable finding and correcting the inconsistancies in a weird way!!!?????) Amazing how many different ways I found to spell such things as 'K.C. And The Sunshine Band'!! Hey - it's on a compilation!! lolol . . . surfed a bit and grabbed a couple of missing album cover images for the media player album art. . . finally exhausted to bed after 5am!!!!! Damn - lost track of whether I had my anti inlammatory pill or not! Oh well - not many left so I guess it doesn't really matter. I don't think they've resulted in any lasting improvement in that pain in my foot - some days are better than others - today wasn't so good. IF the pain HAS improved at all - I don't think I put it down to those tablets, rather maybe it's just real slow at getting better on its own? We'll see. pii?as
3 - Woken by insistant Sally around 8am!! Ugggh - I need more sleep - again - more - yet still - again! :o( . . .walked in drizzle and found 2p. Teachers at the local school were doing that weird 'on the gates' sentry duty, they don't always do, as the (some!) kids were arriving for class. The hooter had gone to announce the beginning of classes, and yet hoards of kids were still milling around all over the place, as though they had all the time in the world. A large bunch of kids were sauntering over the main road (arrogantly hindering the speeding traffic, as is their habit, rather than be so 'un-cool' as to wait and use the pedestrian controlled crossing) on the way to the nearby newsagent. One of the teachers was shouting out they should get back in school because the first class had started, but I think they mostly ignored him and carried on! EVERY day there are huge numbers of kids around the area skipping classes!!? I don't understand it. If you believe the national TV news, the authorities (with special police units) have cracked down on truanting and there is no longer much of a problem - and even parents can face jail time if their children persist! Seems like round here, attending school is entirely optional. Or maybe it is that all the parents have already been locked up, so their kids are free to do what they want!!?? :o( . . Joined another dog walker in clearing up around the swings. Apparantly a bunch of kids truanting some time yesterday had found a great new game (in addition to terrorising the elderly and infirm who live down in the nearby flats, by running around on the garage rooves, and banging on windows and peering in making faces etc etc!!). Take all the poop scoop bags out of the bin and throw them all around the field - everywhere! :o( . . . PCd - of course! . . Finally PCd some of this but it seemed to take ages trying to catch up on the last several days, and I ended up giving up around 1:30pm to go and eat. Microwaved and ate the Miss Millies meal from yesterday. . . slept the afternoon away until just gone 6pm . . . walked. . .PCd this and drank my last bottle of 'found over the field' Red Square drink . . .touched base with BB . . .ate corned beef, onion, tomato and mayo sandwiches with crisps . . . TVd until early to bed around 11:45pm. pi--s
4 - Woken by Sally around 7:20am. Oh dear - as the mornings get lighter, she's waking me up earlier! . . .walked. More piles of stolen magazines dumped up the top of the field! Relocated an arm full to the bin. Wow - wonder what's going on? A large police presence around the area as all the kids were milling around before school time. A marked police car parked up near the school and two policemen on trials bikes driving around and stopping here and there! As I walked past one of the trials bike policemen I couldn't help catching his attention and remarking how they were a VERY welcome sight around here - but then added they should be there at night! If they did exactly what they were doing then, later at night around seven or eight o'clock, they'd have their work cut out arresting all sorts of people for all sorts of stuff - mostly vandalism, underage drinking, driving offences, stolen mopeds, drug possession, etc, etc. - every night!! . . . left Sally at home and drove up to Kingswood to shop. Banked the 50 premium bond win cheque I've had laying around for weeks, and drew some money out of my savings. Toured all the nearby charity shops and had a good look through all their cassettes and old records. Discovered that someone appeared to have donated their collection of Johnny Mathis records to one of the shops. Sorting through I found a total of seven of his albums. Not my cup of tea at all, but I have this idea in mind at some point in the near future, to force Mum to have a DVD player. I figure the only way to try and encourage her to get into the idea, would be to present her with a DVD player and a bunch of CDs of her favourite music, all ready to go. Sooner or later I'm DEFINITELY gonna be getting my hands on a record player, to enable me to produce MP3s from vinyl. I couldn’t resist paying the few pounds (charity shop records are SO cheap!) and buying them all!! Good grief – I have a Johnny Mathis record collection!!!!!! Yikes - don’t tell anyone!!!!!!. . Shopped for groceries. Detoured on the way home and ended up popping in to a couple of second hand shops, looking for anything cheap with a record deck. There were none. :o( Record decks seem to be an endangered species these days. Hope I haven’t left it too late to get hold of one. . stopped off at the Jolleys pet food store on the way home and bought a 15kg sack of PAL Complete for 17.95, 48 tins of Winalot for 16.20, and couldn’t resist buying Sally a treat. They had big, pre-cooked bones on sale, very politically incorrectly described as ‘Postmans Legs’ for an extortionate 1.99. I figure what with doing all this MP3ing, and my bad ankle preventing me from doing any long walks, Sally hasn’t had much of a life of late. She ‘needs’ a treat. :o) . . . returned home and unloaded the shopping and then took Sally in the car to Vassals at Fishponds for a bit of a walk, a swim, and some squirrel chasing. . Ooops – forgot to take any poop scoop bags!! Strangely bumped into a dog walker I often see at the local field and managed to get some bags from her. . pretty much stuck to the proper paths to make it easier on my painful limping foot. Made it down to the river and along to the collapsing weir before things became too uncomfortable and I decided to call it quits and limp back. :o( On the way back, a black guy, white girl and their child were out walking, enjoying the almost summer like temperatures. As I passed, they stopped near one of the beautiful impressive trees and the guy got the girl and daughter to pose for a photo. As I have learned is often an appreciated thing to do, I offered to take a photo for them - of them ALL, together. As I’d suspected, this went down quite well because they said they hardly ever get a photo of them all together. Got them all to pose and then did my photographer bit and took a shot. Figured another, in portrait was in order, so got them to carry on posing while I knelt down to get the best angle. They needed to know when to smile so – well, ordinarily anyone taking the photo would have said ‘say cheese’ wouldn’t they? Inexplicably I blurted out ‘say coconuts’!!!!????? Oooops. Where on earth did that come from?! Some weird Freudian slip from a ‘passively racist’ upbringing maybe? The effect of watching all those episodes of ‘Love Thy Neighbour’ on TV when I was a kid? Hmmm – guess maybe they ended up with one picture of them all smiling, and another of them all looking a bit confused!! Oh well – they seemed happy enough, and I limped off feeling all good deed for the day’ish. Lol :o) . . drove home with Sally and let her out into the back yard and presented her with the Postmans Leg. Last I saw of her for a while – she set about it as though she is a starving dog! :o) . . . ate two cold pasties with crisps (without Sally even bothering to come in and see what I was eating!). . . unusually left the back door open, so Sally could do as she pleased, and lay down and napped for a couple of hours (once I’d got used to the strange ‘gnawing’ sound echoing up from the yard!). . wow – how is that possible! Half that bone has gone, completely! Blimey – she’s gonna be pooping bricks!!. . .walked. Good grief – a raucous crowd of well in excess of thirty kids all hanging out (stood in the road forcing car drivers to pull out around them!) by the school near the entrance to the field!! I’ve never seen such a large group of them hanging around like that. Actually felt pretty intimidating. Strange analogy came to mind as I trudged round in the mud. It seems to me that all this anti social behaviour stuff in society is like a rubber balloon. The high profile police presence this morning had kind of given it a squeeze. The trouble with squeezing a balloon is that when you squeeze one bit, it bulges out in another! Relocated the rest of the magazines dumped in the field to the bin. On the way home, the big group appeared to have partially dispersed into several smaller groups around the area. A police car pulled up alongside one of those groups (ten kids?) near the shops . . ate corned beef, mayo etc sandwiches with crisps just before 9pm . Mum called in the middle of me eating to say JR had died - a neighbour when we were kids, a ‘friend’ of Mum and Dad, and a some time work colleague of Dads. He and his wife had attended Dad’s funeral. Hmmm – another one bites the dust. :o( . BB also called in the middle of my sandwiches!! . . rang both BB and Mum back and ended up on the phone until gone 11pm!!! Told Mum I’d be happy to be her taxi if she came up for the funeral, and maybe even dress in black and accompany her in for the actual ceremony if I had to, but absolutely no way, NO WAY was I gonna attend any ‘gathering’ afterwards. I’m not sure why I am now SO determined not to be forced into such a situation. I think it may be connected to the gathering I had to attend at Mums after Dads funeral. With hindsight – it was torture having to try and be sociable and make small talk with people I didn’t really know, especially under such circumstances. I ABSOLUTELY HATED it! Sorry Mum - never, ever, EVER again. . . . ate bowls of cornflakes . . .TVd . . . to bed around 1am. ps
5 - Up around 7:30am . . .walked and found 6p. Doing ‘litter duty’, around twenty feet from where the big group of kids had been congregated last night, under a bush - I found a knife!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Only one way did that get there! Scary!!!! I wasn’t gonna leave it there, and couldn’t very well put it in a pocket, so I ended up walking round the field doing litter duty, openly carrying a kitchen knife!!! Very –um- awkward/embarrassing! Felt obliged to explain to at least one lady I got talking to, who then told me all about the local riot yesterday that had even been on the local news last night! What? WHAT???!!!!!! . .wrapped and hid the knife in a poop scoop bag and carried it home to maybe use in the kitchen . .PCd and surfed the local newspaper site and found a couple of shocking relevant entries.

11:00 - 04 February 2005
RIOT VANS OUT AS HUNDREDS OF PUPILS FIGHT IN STREET
Police were called to a city school after a number of fights reportedly involving hundreds of pupils. Officers escorted a number of youngsters home yesterday after the disturbance outside
the school yesterday.
One eye-witness claimed that between 200 and 300 children were involved in the fighting.
Five police cars and two riot vans were called to deal with what police described as "a number of fights" outside the school premises.
Neither police nor school staff could confirm reports the incident was racially motivated.
One mother, who has two daughters at
the school but asked not to be named, said there had recently been racial tension at the school.
She said: "My 14-year-old daughter is in Year 9 and nearly every day for the past three weeks she has come home and told me about some sort of problem between two groups of children.
"My daughter said that children from Whitefield Fishponds and St George (the City Academy) had come to join in, and that some were carrying weapons."
A school spokesman said: "The police were contacted this afternoon because of a concern about the possibility of intruders. Police cleared the area around the school. No one was injured and no incident happened on the school premises."

09:33 - 05 February 2005
MASS BRAWL FUELS RACE FEARS
A West community was braced for more violence last night after mass brawls involving 100 children started outside
the school. One witness to a showdown at the Bristol school claimed some of the attackers were brandishing guns and believed that locals were now planning revenge.
Riot vans, police and school wardens were patrolling the streets last night as rumours spread that the violence would continue.
Children were let out early, with many of them urged to go home as quickly as possible.
A former pupil at the school admitted he was involved in the brawl and launched a chilling threat. It is believed the initial fight escalated after a girl, of Somalian heritage, was struck on the head with a football.
"The St George lot think they're all that, but they've started something they can't finish, " he said. "They brought guns down yesterday and I can tell you that the people of
the area did not think a lot of that.
"Don't think it ends there - they have started something big. We've got firepower, too.
"Come down again next week. You'll see. Yesterday was nothing compared with what we have in store.
"I went to
the school and there were always rivalries with other schools. But it has got out of hand now.
"I was involved yesterday and I can tell you that it is not just the schools that are involved. There are a lot of families around here feeling very mad.
"
the area will be a war zone."
John Ford, 48, a former resident of
the area, said he left the area because he could not stand the trouble caused by pupils.
He said: "It has become a real mess around here. When a 13-year-old kid stole my car that was the final straw.
"Children would stand on my wall shouting and fighting - now I've moved to Kingswood it seems like bliss."
A local mum, too frightened to be named, said she fears for her son's safety. "Every day I worry, " said the blonde lady, in her thirties.
"As a mother, all you want is for your son to not get involved in those incidents because sooner or later someone is going to get seriously hurt."
Another former pupil claimed the fight was the result of a long-running dispute between the Somalian community and white locals.
"A few days ago, a Somalian girl got hit on the head with a football, " he said.
"My friends tell me she was very upset. It all started yesterday afternoon and just got ridiculously out of hand. People started saying that someone got stabbed but you know how it gets when rumours start being spread."
Kingswood MP Roger Berry said he was shocked by the incident. "I'm very disappointed by this, " he said.
"This is not a problem that has arisen in the past. I have received no complaints from my constituents so I would urge caution.
"It is difficult to say whether the initial incident was racially motivated. And if there were guns then that would be outrageous. Whether things have been exaggerated, I don't know."
Terry Walker, Labour councillor for Kings Chase ward, was alarmed by the violence. He said the school faces discipline problems.
"I think that many kids are out of control these days, " he said.
"Unfortunately, they are out of control in both the home and the school. That's the problem. In my day if I was involved in a fight I would have been worried about what my father would say, but we've moved away from that now.
"Today, we are hooked on the Ofsted inspectors going round and putting their noses into things rather than the old way of making schools work."
The college refused to comment on fresh allegations, but the headteacher released a statement. He said: "
the school takes yesterday's incident very seriously indeed and we have made it absolutely clear to students at assembly this morning that disorderly and violent behaviour will not be tolerated by anyone at the college.
"We are carrying out a full review into the incident and the suggestion that the disturbance may have been racially motivated. We have also made it very plain to our students that racist behaviour is completely unacceptable and will not be tolerated by anyone."
The police maintained that their investigations had not found any sign of gun crime.
Spokeswoman Liz Kirkham could only comment on the initial violence.
She said: "We were contacted by the college on Thursday afternoon as teachers were concerned that there may be disorder after school finished.
"A number of police officers attended at 3pm. They were assisted by support group officers.
"A large number of young people, several not connected with the school, had gathered at
the area and the area . "All of the groups were dispersed and those involved in fighting were taken home. No arrests were made."Police are in close contact with the college to manage any future problems."

Well – bloody hell! I guess that explains the appearance of the knife! What a mess society is in – that we need riot police to keep order amongst our children! <despair> :o( . . PCd more and surfed the free ads paper website looking for people (local) selling record decks. Tried calling a number from one of the ads, but got no answer . . PCd and recorded a few cassettes. . experimented with the faulty PC, trying to get to the bottom of which bit of the hardware is at fault, but got mostly nowhere. Figured I really had nothing to lose, so took the chance of swapping bits between the faulty and old PCs. I should have guessed – the architecture of the processor/motherboard appears to be different in each (despite both being a socket 370 type), and neither would work with the processor from the other. Shame. Wasted hours! At the end of the day, after all that testing and swapping stuff around, the fault with the faulty PC is either the power supply (which I doubt is the problem), the main processor, or a component on the actual motherboard. So – unless I go buy another processor and motherboard, I guess I’ll have to do without two for the time being. :o( . . .ate two cold pasties and two bags of crisps for a mid afternoon lunch . . . napped until half woken by LB leaving an ansphone message that she'd rung the wrong number! Fully woken by another ansaphone message from PS! . . . PCd a couple of the cassettes I'd recorded earlier . . .walked in the rain . . . Mum called, still undecided about whether or not to get the coach up for JRs funeral. She isn’t feeling ‘quite right’ – not so good right now!!? . . . Touched base with BB. . . PS called in for chats, coffee and biscuits. As usual, uniquely when PS calls in, Sally was her wound up self, and immediately brought her bone in from the ‘sacrificial carpet’ conservatory, and started some serious gnawing in the living room. ‘Postman’s Leg’? More like ‘I wish this was PS’s leg’ I think she thinks – and poor PS acts like he knows it! She COVERED parts of the living room carpet in tiny bits of bone!! Terrible mess. SO bad, I couldn’t stand it and actually got the vacuum out and had a quick clear up as poor PS tried to carry on watching TV. lol . . .ate crisps, biscuits, etc. . . touched base with BB . . . PCd music until early.
pss
6 - Woken by Sally getting on for 9am!! . . .walked in the damp and mud. Stopped off at the newsagents and bought today’s copy of the Trade-It free ads paper . . . PCd recording music while reading through the adverts. Called one of the numbers – sorry, already gone. Called another, got a reply, and they still had it for sale. “Sony Hi-Fi, with tuner, record deck, tape to tape, speakers, exc. cond., but no CD hence price 25.“ Turned out the address wasn’t ‘that’ far away, so I said I’d be there within half an hour to have a look. . drove with Sally and found the place without ’too’ much trouble. Blimey – nice (semi rural) house – WOW - nice motorhome! Hmmmm – nice stereo! (Sony XO-D20S) It WAS in good condition, complete with a remote control AND the manual. It wasn’t ‘exactly’ what I was after, but I figured would mostly do the job, IF it was all working ok. The woman disappeared off to try and find a record for me to play. Checked the tape decks played and they did – there just happened to be a cassette in one of them already. I think it embarrassed the guy a bit - a recording of an episode of ‘The Archers’ from the radio. lol The stereo sadly had no ‘line out’ sockets, so it was also important to me to check that the headphone socket worked ok. The guy needed to go get his headphones from the other room, but I could tell he couldn’t bring himself to leave ‘the scary stranger’ alone in his living room. He waited until his wife returned ‘to stand guard’ before heading off in search of headphones. Yeah – I’d have been the same. :o) The headphone socket was fine, although the guy acted even more embarrassed when it turned out the test record his wife had appeared with, was some awful Leo Sayer single!! lolol Yeah – I’d have been the same. :o) Actually, they seemed a very nice couple. Something about them was kinda Mum and Dad all over. She’d found it necessary to apologise for the state of his old trousers when I’d arrived, only currently worn because they were in the middle of decorating apparently – as if I’d notice or care?? The stereo was like new as was the instruction manual. It and the speakers even had small soft protective pads stuck to the bottoms, to protect the surfaces on which they were put from being scratched. All felt strangely familiar. :o) I didn't mess around and try bargaining (because I don’t) – I handed over 25 and was helped to carry it out to the car. Actually all ended up chatting for a while and introduced them to Sally. I didn’t get to see their dog because it likes people, gets too excited and pees on the carpet!! . uh oh! I’d parked the car on the end of their steeply sloping driveway. As I released the handbrake, there was what appeared to be a slip in the cable and the handbrake lever went looser than it should be! Bugger!! :o( . . . stopped on the way home (checked to make sure the car wasn't gonna role away!) and had a look around a weird garage/yard type sale, on in one of the big expensive roadside houses. Turned out they do those sales every few months for charity. All the stuff is donated to them, and they sell it off without the charity shop overheads, so every single penny they raise goes to the charity. A lot of hassle - nice people. I didn’t buy a thing, wanted to give them something, but didn’t have any change on me to throw in the collection bucket, so – some other time maybe. . . set the stereo up (without the speakers) next to the PC and experimented. Oh no. OH NO!!!! It had no audio output on the right hand channel from the record deck!! How on earth did I miss that when I was testing it before I bought it! (Mono headphones maybe?) I can’t believe it – the record deck was the very reason I bought it - I’ve just thrown away 25!!!!! :o( Oh well – with nothing to lose, I got my screwdriver set out and started dismantling! Only five screws, two clips and a ribbon cable connector later, the whole record deck was off and sitting in my lap! Tested the integrity of the connections and ribbon cable down as far as the circuit board with the multitester, but found nothing wrong anywhere. That was as far as I can go – so I put it all back together and just made sure all the connectors and removable stylus, etc. were firmly seated. Powered on and - YIPPEEEEE– its working fine. Oh thank goodness!!! (Wish the bloody faulty PC would do that!) . . triumphantly played and recorded my first LP to the PC – ‘Never Mind The Bollocks Here’s The Sex Pistols’. lolol That surely MUST be a collector’s item by now? Sounds SO tame after all these years. Hmmmm – gonna be a whole new bunch of trouble trying to keep dust and Sally hair away from that stylus! Wow – apart from the odd pop and scratch, the MP3 file quality I’m getting from those records, is better than what I‘m getting from the cassettes! . . scrabbled around and popped up in the attic and eventually found and used a piece of cable from an old broken set of Post Office help-line headphones, to make up a nice length patch lead from the stereo headphone socket to the line in on the PC soundcard. Soldered the large sized headphone socket on one end and tested it, only to find I’d got it wrong and reversed the left/right channels. Resoldered it and moved things around on the desk and got things straight enough to live with for the foreseeable future. Ended up recording a couple of the Johnny Mathis records!!! . . briefly stopped and ate a lightly burned around the edges (because I was waiting to turn a record over) pepperoni pizza with extra grated cheese on top . . napped late for an hour or two . . . walked . . . touched base with BB . . . felt all content and ended up sat at the PC with headphones on listening to some of the music I’ve already done. . ended up experimenting, at length for hours. YES!!! I knew it! I thought I could!! Managed to knock up a test MPEG movie file of one of my MP3 tracks with a selection of my photographs alternately displayed as it played. Copied it to a CD-RW and rushed down to the DVD player and – YES!!! It plays VERY nicely on the TV. I can make my own pop videos - kinda!! Only drawback is the file size – around 50megabytes for one three minute song! Um – err-what is the maths? That’s still a whole album on a single CD isn’t it? . . defrosted and ate three sausages rolls and crisps around 1am, but with my mind still on PC matters and what could be possible. Exciting. Hmmmm – an appropriate soundtrack and photos of Dad? That’d be a tearjerker for Mum – but in a good way kinda - maybe?!! . . .PCd, ‘buzzy’, experimenting some more until after 3am. ps
7 - Woken by Sally around 8:30am!! . . .put a record on recording and then walked. Found 2p . . .recorded a few of the Johnny Mathis LPs I'd scored from the charity shop, while looking at likely DVD players in the Argos catalogue. Like it or not, Mum's gonna HAVE to have one sooner or later. . Mum called to touch base - still undecided about attending the funeral on Friday. She seemed delighted to have found me in the middle of playing Johnny Mathis records!! lol Couldn't help talking about all the music stuff I'm doing and tried to convince her that getting a DVD player is definitely the way to go. Played around a little, with Mum talking about some of her favourite nice songs, and me doing searches on my collection to see which ones I had and then playing them down the phone, just to try and get across how neat it would be if she had a DVD player and how I could knock up loads of music CDs for her - AND convert all her photos to be watched on the TV etc, etc, etc. Ended up phoning the funeral directors for her to get the address and instructions for donations etc. I think she has pretty much decided she WILL be coming up on the coach. We’ll see. . . cooked up four sausages with a bunch of mushrooms and ate them with four pieces of bread and butter . . . slept until woken by LB leaving an ansaphone message around 6:15pm. Apparently, at last, she has been provided with a new wheelie bin by the council. . .walked. Walking along the cycle track prior to taking to the mud, I became aware of someone walking up behind me crying!! It was a girl. It felt necessary to ask her if she was ok as she walked past crying. She said she was, but I persisted and wanted to make sure. She eventually started babbling something about she was trying to get a bus to Yate but didn't have enough for the 2.80 fare, and did I think the bus driver in the direction she was walking, would let her on if she let them know she was in trouble. She even said something about they could call her Dad at the other end to come and meet the bus and pay for her!!! Turned out as best I could tell in the brief conversation we had, she was 25 and had just managed to walk out on her 'boyfriend' (again!!) when he fell asleep, after he'd given her a black eye!!! In the dark in the middle of the field it wasn't really possible to see her eye, but she'd definitely been crying at least. She appeared in a sorry state, and the little she said seemed to display a very broken ego and zero self esteem! Very sad. I'm generaly not very trusting of people with hard luck stories, but there was something about her which made me err on the side of believing what she was saying. I ended up fishing in my pocket and handing over 3 for her to get the bus. The whole thing may have been a scam to get some money from me, but she actually started looking at her handful of small change looking to give me change because 3 was more than the bus fare! All seemed pretty believable - and frankly rather upsetting! :o( I think I ended up preaching just a little about how she should leave the man who'd done that to her and how she was worth more than that etc, etc!! I soon took to the mud to carry on round the field, and off she went to allegedly look for a bus. :o(. . . touched base with BB . . . PCd this, at some considerable length, until early!! Hungry but just couldn't be bothered to 'do' food, so just ate a handful of biscuits before bed around 2am. As I lay down to sleep, my stomach made awfully gurgly noises SO loud, at one point Sally mistook the strange noise for someone opening the front gate and ended up rushing downstairs all deafeningly barking!!!!! Poor neighbours. Stupid dog!! piaa
8 - Woke around 7:45am . . .walked and found 14p. Oh jeeze - yet ANOTHER stolen car dumped, where it got stuck in a big puddle! So much for the recently 'increased' police presence. Phoned up on the mobile - again - and reported it to the police. When I first saw the car, the drivers door was open. On the way back out of the field after walking Sally, the door had been kicked closed by someone. As I walked by, I suddenly spotted, trampled into the mud next to the car, a couple of CDs without their cases! Normally I wouldn't have dared 'loot' anything like that, but since these were already getting trodden down into the mud, I figured I'd try and save them, so I popped them in a poop scoop bag (complete with wet mud!) and took them with me. . carefully washed the CDs under a running tap and dried them with kitchen roll and - yay. They both play ok. 'Robbie Williams Greatest Hits' and 'Confessions by Usher'. Surfed on line to get the track titles and album art images and duly ripped them and added them to my collection. :o) . . . walked with Sally to the post office across the field. Wow - the stolen car had been removed already! Figured I'd have another look in the mud for any more CDs that may have been left behind, but sadly some large pieces of wooden boarding had been left behind in the mud by the recovery vehicle, in just that spot. Must have been a bit difficult for them hauling the car out of that 'bog' and they'd used the wood to walk on! No way was it worth wading in and trying to look under it. . found 3p and a cigarette lighter. . bought my stamp and then had a quick look in the couple of nearby charity shops. Oh dear - ended up buying a handful of old LP records at 50p each. . popped in a small hi-fi store on the way back and managed to get hold of a headphone (large to small) socket converter, so I can plug my old headphones into the small PC socket . . . PCd records. Gonna have to look out for one of those old velvet like wipe things to wipe dust and Sally hair off the records when I play them! All alive with static, they seem to immediately get covered in dog hair!! . . scanning in the album covers is also a whole new problem. The A4 flatbed scanner is just that little bit too small to do them - unless I were to try and do them in three or four chunks and then stitch them together - which is pretty impossible really. Eventually figured out a 'reasonable' compromise. Illuminate the cover with my desk top angle poise lamp, and then take a photo with the digital camera! Bit of a hassle, but good enough to make the 350pixel square thumbnails I've arbitrarily decided on using for the Media Player album art. . .cooked up mushrooms, two sausages and half a tin of baked beans and ate with four pieces of bread and butter while recording LPs . . . napped for a couple of hours . . .PCd more music . . .walked in the mud . . . touched base with Mum who HAS decided to come up for JRs funeral and had booked a bus ticket. Touched base with Sis1 who said she had Thursday night free and would pop over to say hi to mum . . . Touched base with BB . . . TVd and watched the next instalment of the horrific series about Auschwitz!! :o( . . . corned beef, lettuce, onion, tomato and mayo sandwiches and crisps after midnight . . . to bed in the early hours. ps
9 - Woken by Sally before 8am . . .walked and found 5p . . . PCd music. . . tidied up in the living room a little, moved my old stereo back under the TV and connected it back up to the speakers, and then moved all the old PC stuff back up into the bedroom/computer room. Actually ended up setting up the old, old PC and the old cassette player in the bedroom so I could record more cassettes on the old PC - although unfortunately it'll mean swapping hard drives around to copy over the files when full! :o( . . . ate corned beef, onion, tomato and mayo sandwiches and crisps for lunch . . . napped for a few hours . . . walked . . . touched base with BB . . . cooked up mushrooms, two sausages, two eggs and half a tin of baked beans and ate with four pieces of bread and butter . . . PCd more music until bed in the early hours. ps
10 - Woken by Sally just after 7:30am . . .walked and found 7p . . .Mum called to confirm she'd soon be leaving . . PCd a little music and then cleared up and did dishwashing and vacuuming etc chores. Can't help it - always have to tidy up just a bit before a Mum visit! . . .skipped lunch (in order to try and remain awake!) and just ate a handful of chocolate biscuits with coffee around 2pm . . . set off around 2:45pm with Sally and headed for the bus station. . . Mum called on the mobile (and yes I DID break the law and answer it while driving!!) and said she was just coming into Bristol. Managed to wait in the same 'no parking/keep clear' zone as last time and after a quick cigarette and very short anxious wait, Mum was walking up the hill towards me. . . coffee and chats and half a pork pie treat, Mum had brought for Sally :o) . . . Sis1 called in with half a dozen new CDs for me to copy and with all her old record collection (as I'd suggested). Yikes - that's more records than I imagined she'd still have!!! A pile about two feet tall!!!!!! Not sure I can face trying to do all that lot! She agreed I could hang on to them for the forseeable future and maybe get round to them 'some time'. . franticaly set about ripping the new CDs she'd brought while she and Mum chatted. Eventually got them done and even had time to burn her the copies she wanted of the ones she'd borrowed from someone else . . .left Sis1 and Mum chatting and walked in the fine wet drizzle, armed with 20 provided by Mum, for me to buy us all chips on the way back. Wow - that field is absolutely waterlogged!!! SO much wet mud - hard to just walk across/through it!!! . . stopped off at the chip shop on the way home and bought two lots of fish and chips and a pasty and rice for Sis1. Rushing back before the chips got cold, I passed a bunch of kids hanging around near the lane at the back of the shops. One of them was casually throwing bricks at and wrecking a wooden fence panel!! If I hadn't had the carrier bag of chips to consider, I may have 'got involved', but as it was I simply hurled some abuse at him ("YOU W--K-R!") - and of course had loads hurled back at me from them all, before he continued throwing bricks at the fence!! :o( . . . all sat in the kitchen and ate - with me dashing upstairs from time to time to keep the CD ripping and copying going! . . . chocolate coffee and chats. Mum started trying to do all the dishwashing so I was kinda forced into refusing to let her and had to do it myself straight away to stop her, rather than leave it all stacked for days as I would normally. Blimey - I've done dish washing twice in one day!!! Outrageous!! lol . . eventually bid Sis1 farewell. . Mum disappeared off to bed pretty early, AFTER having spent ages washing/steralizing the bath, so she could safely have her morning bath! Smell of Dettol in the air! . . . touched base with BB . . . exhausted to bed around 11pm.p
11 - Woken by Mum saying good morning to Sally just after 7:30am . . .walked and found 2p. Looks like the school kids are on half term holidays or something - very quiet. Did 'litter duty'. Another big pile of stolen papers and magazines dumped up the top of the field! Put them all in a nearby plastic carrier that was hung up in the hedge, and walked them all down to the bin. . . PCd just a bit of this. Very headachey - 'stress' related no doubt. Crunched Annadin tablets here and there throughout the day! . . changed into my best 'black and white' (and Sally hair!!) funeral outfit and all set off in the car around 11am. Mum seemed happy for Sally to come too, so she wouldn't be left at home alone, and so we'd have an added excuse not to have to go to the 'pub do' afterwards. Set off very early for a midday service, but I wasn't sure where the Westerleigh cremtorium was, so it gave us plenty of time to find it. Actually ended up finding it real quick with no trouble at all so sat in the big car park and waited and watched as huge numbers of people began to arrive. Good grief - loads of people!!! I don't even KNOW that many people, let alone have them turn up for my funeral!! Wow - glad that many didn't turn up for Dads! That would have been horrendous! Started to recognise the odd few faces - some neighbours from years ago, but mostly people from JRs Post Office days. Proper 'old school' ex Post Office gathering! Funny atmosphere it seemed to me - big crowd of people all milling around outside the crematorium chatting and laughing - with JR in the back of the hearse in his box a hundred yards or so away, waiting to pull into the entrance and be carried in! Eventually 'the family' went and sat in the chapel and then the coffin was carried in and the rest of the crowd slowly filed in behind. There were SO many people, there weren't enough chairs and we all lined up and remained standing all around the walls of the chapel! . . the service was 'ok', without 'too' much religion, and with a little humor. JR was a committed smoker all his life (and his eventual death was undoubtedly connected to that) and he apparantly had his last couple of cigarettes in the box with him - which actually seemed about right. I guess I'd have to have my roll ups and tobacco tin wouldn't I - especially if that's what eventually/inevitably 'does for me'. :o) (What do 'chest pains' feel like? Is it - um - like these twinges I've been getting?!!!!! :o( ). Actually - I'd need my roll ups and tobacco tin, maybe a nice 'joint', packet of prozac, some annadin tablets, a CD-RW or two, fingerless gloves, poop scoop bags, corned beef sandwich, TV remote control, beard trimmer, etc, etc. lololololol . . . pretty uncomfortable having to stand up for it all, but it was all over within half an hour, and we were then all slowly filing out past the coffin. Ended up being an agonisingly slow moving queue out back as we all waited to shake hands and give our regards to JRs son (wow - as he's got older he's become the spitting image of his dad) and wife. .I just couldn't wait to get out of there and would happily have pushed my way through and been gone, but Mum wanted to have a word with one or two people from the past. . At last we were heading back to the car and waiting Sally. I NEEEEED a cigarette!! Oh thank god that's over and done with! :o( . . now I've been to a couple of different funerals, I really can appreciate what a good job we did with Dads. It was an agonising ordeal at the time, and I had no idea what we were really doing, but I think we did a pretty damn good job. Yeah - I think we did alright for him. :o) . . thankfully Mum said she wasn't interested in having to face the 'trauma' of going to the after funeral 'do' at the pub that had been arranged, and it was eventually agreed we'd just head home and (after some arguing) I'd do us pizzas from the freezer for lunch - 'trust me!'. . .quickly got changed out of my funeral suite and then prepared and ate a large Iceland pizza each, with loads of extra onion, tomato and cheese topping. Think Mum was suitably impressed - especially since they are SO cheap. :o) Very full. Left Mum watching TV and just HAD to lay down for a bit. Somehow managed to nap on and off a little, despite hearing Mum sneaking into the kitchen to wash the dirty dishes I'd left in a pile . . .walked in the pouring rain . . .TVd . . . BB called . . .dragged Mum up onto the PC and got her 'into it' a bit, and played some of my MP3'd music, with her making 'requests' until gone midnight! :o) . . . stayed up in front the TV, long after Mum had gone to bed, and ended up eating bowls of cornflakes before heading for bed myself around 2am! paaas
12 - Woken by Sally just after 7am . . .walked. All the wing mirrors of all the cars along the road by the nearby pub (currently still closed, thankfully) had been bashed by someone in the night. Some were broken, all were pushed out of shape.Welcome to the jungle! :o( Worse was to come - just round the corner, someones car was parked in front of their house with the passenger window all smashed, the door pillar all dented, and several concrete building (from the garden of a nearby house under renovation) blocks all laying in the road, and one inside the car! (Strangely the tax disc and radio and contents of the car looked undisturbed?) That bit of road is actually quite busy with speeding traffic, and some passing cars had clearly hit and crushed some of those concrete blocks in the night! Could have killed someone!! How on earth could someone do that and no-one nearby, hear and intervene? Bizarre! I knocked on the door of what I think was the owners house, intending to give them the bad news, but despite lights being on inside, I was unable to get anyone to come to the door. Eventually gave up and just walked away leaving everything as it was. :o( . . stopped off at the newsagent and bought the newspaper Mum wanted for the forthcoming week TV schedules . . .ate a handful of chocolate biscuits with coffee and sat and TVd the hours away until it was time to drive Mum to the bus station . . . all set off early around 12:45pm and headed for the bus station, via City Road. Mum, as a child, used to live in City Road, when it was a rather better area - figured I'd give her the chance to see it again for the first time in years. .stopped in the same no parking space near the bus station and dropped Mum off. Jumped out for a quick hug goodbye, and to open the back of the car so she could say goodbye to Sally, and then left her to head for the scrum of passengers all milling around near the cramped bus station building site. . around 1:40pm Mum called on the mobile to confirm she was safely on the bus and heading home. Relief - now I can relax. . What's this? Blimey - Mum'd left 60 for me as a thank you, hidden under some stuff on the kitchen table, because I was adamant she should not keep giving me money!! Hmmmm - I think that'll probably be used to buy her a DVD player in the near future. :o) Ate corned beef, mayo, onion, tomato, lettuce sandwiches with crisps and then immediately lay down and slept until around 6pm . . . touched base with Mum to check she was safely, happily home . . .walked in light showers. . . BB called . . . PS popped round for chats and coffee. TVd and ended up watching the films that were on - 'Evolution' and 'The Witches Of Eastwick', until early. . . to bed, once PS had gone, around 1:30am. pas
13 - Woken by Sally around 8:30am! . . .walked in the mud. Wow - SUCH a cold northerly wind!! Found a penny . . . PCd this . . . PCd music. Wow - those records from Sis1 are in poor shape! :o( Good grief - a Beatles record ('Beatles For Sale'), with tracks I can't recall ever having heard before! Who'd have thought that by my age, I wouldn't have heard them all! . . .ate corned beef, mayo, onion, tomato, lettuce sandwiches with crisps . . . carried on PCing a few more records. Hmmm? I'm beginning to wonder if that stylus needs replacing already!! :o( . . walked . . .BB called . . . TVd/PCd until early. Ate bowls of cornflakes before bed. ps
14 - Woken by Sally around 7:30am! Actually I think I may have figured out how she wakes me just by sitting and looking at me. Dog breath!! Ewwwwww!!! . . .walked and found 2p . . . Yayyyyyy. :o) Received a 200 premium bond win in the mail!!! :o) Nice one. Well - if I'm not gonna get a single valentines card, I guess that isn't a bad substitute. :o) . . . PCd music, recording more scratched records . . . ate a microwave chicken curry with four pieces of bread and butter for a late lunch . . briefly experimented with the de-noise software on one of the scratched records I'd recorded. Don't really have a clue what I'm doing, but it sure seemed to work pretty well. Very clever. I may have to return to some of these recordings in the future and try and 'clean them up' some. Blimey - there just aren't enough hours in the day for all this!!! . .BB called . . napped . . . walked . . .TVd/PCd . . touched base with BB . . .PCd . . defrosted and ate two pasties with crisps . . . to bed around 1am. p
15 - Woke around 7:30am! . . .walked . . .PCd. . . figured that with the money Mum had left for me, those unexpected premium bond wins, and because of the ten monthly council tax payment plan when I get a couple of months without having to pay (my biggest annual bill!), I could maybe justify to myself, spending some money on 'toys'! I haven't given up on that faulty computer yet - I'm absolutely determined to end up with two machines, networked, with one in the living room connected to the TV - although I'm not sure why!!?? . . pulled the processor and memory chips out of the faulty PC, left Sally at home and walked up to the local PC store intending to see if they had any old motherboard laying around that would take what I already had, so I could get the machine back up and running at absolutely minimum cost. The helpful guy very quickly shook his head and explained that things had moved on, and nothing he had (after checking for some old motherboards in a cupboard) would take the old style chip architecture. :o( I had no reason to disbelieve him - he wasn't doing any 'hard sell'. I ummmd and ahhd and then asked him to price up the cheapest new motherboard, processor and memory he had - and no, I'm not interested in future upgradability - just current cheapest. Agonised for ages over throwing money away like that, but in the end I just bit the bullet and went for it. Eventually walked home with an expensive carrier bag of 'goodies' - Gigabyte GA7VT600P-RZ ATX Motherboard - 55, 512MB PC3200 Major On 3rd RAM - 62, AMD Sempron 2300 processor/heatsink/fan - 44, VStream PCI TV card with FM Radio, Remote and Teletext - 35 . . good grief - I've spent 196 just like that!!! I was already regretting it before I'd even walked back home!! :o( . . paused for coffee, to repent at my leisure, and to plan the best combination of all the available components in each of the machines, before starting 'work' on everything. . took the easy route and experimented with the TV card in my existing machine first. It was fairly clear, fairly early on, that the 'cheap' card, was NOT the best quality! You DO get what you pay for! The software was twitchy and definitely 'buggy'. How on earth do these companies come to market stuff with such obvious flaws? When I was doing all that programming at work, I think more time was spent in testing and debugging stuff than was actualy spent on programing the processes of the damn thing - as it should be! . . spent hours messing around with configuartions and setups and such. The results were not helped by my weird aerial set up - a long, long, multiple split feed from out of the cable TV box downstairs in the living room!! Pretty poor signal by the time it reached the PC TV card. I SO wish I'd got those roofers to put my TV aerial back up when I had the roof done. I DEFINITELY need to buy a new TV aerial (freeview digital capable?) in the near future. MORE money!! . . .eventually stopped 'playing' and turned my attention to the other part of the project . . My dirty dusty PC!dismantled the faulty PC with a screwdriver in one hand and a dry paint brush and vacuum cleaner in the other. How long have I had that machine? Boy was it FULL of dust and fluff!!! Did my best to clean it all up. Even managed to ease the plastic front panel off, to get at the case fan inlet holes. YIKES! The whole thing was just a mass of dust, fluff and dog hair - and the same all around the floppy drive bay!! Hmmmm - gonna have to keep a better eye on such things on both PCs in the future - although with all the messing around I've been doing of late, I rarely actually have the case sides on these days! I blame Sally mostly - the whole house is constantly covered in a layer of brown dust, which re-appears minutes after dusting and vaccumming. That brown dust is the colour of the mud over the field - and over Sally most of the time!! Wonder if its possible to instal some sort of vaccuum cleaner like dust filter on the PC inlets? Hmmm? The more I mess with these PCs, the more I am inclined to think about 'customising' them, to more suit my requirements. Turns out it would probably be pretty easy to instal and solder in, a whole bunch of 'on the front of the case' sockets and controls and such. There's also SO much empty space in those cases - could probably fit a whole bunch of other stuff in there too if I tried - like maybe an integral amp for external speakers and such. . . eventually got the new motherboard, processor and memory installed and tentatively fired up the machine. It worked - ish. :o) Phew - thank goodness for that! . . spent ages battling with BIOS setups and this and that. Unfortunately NO WAY would it run the copy of windows XP that was already installed on the 40GB drive I was using. (Different processor architecture and ID I guess?) That was a blow. :o( Eventually resigned myself to wiping the drive and instaling a copy of Windows98-SE on it instead. . .briefly stopped messing with everything and ate a couple of defrosted pasties with crisps, just to get food 'out of the way', before getting straight back to messing with everything . . . VERY dodgy looking ('gipsy' like) guy, with a small dog on a piece of string, knocking at the door asking if I wanted any roofing work done and if I wanted a quote for repointing all the ridge tiles that were coming loose! WHAT? Went out into the street and looked up - at which point the guy noticed I had a new roof and then went all quiet! Very obviously a con man!! Grrrr!! :o( Wonder what 'vulnerable' Mum would make of such an 'attack'?! Worrying. . . . battled away with the PC configuration for hours, making little progress!!! . . napped around 5pm for a couple of hours - I just HAD to! . . . PCd yet more and then walked . . . straight back to PC yet more!! Poor BB called only to get me in a hell of a short tempered mood - 'I'll call you later! Grrrr!' . . . round and round in circles, trying different configurations of different operating systems, with different components from both machines!! . . eventually ended up having to re-instal and re activate my one copy of Windows XP on the new machine, just to make sure everything was up and running!!! Didn't want to have to do that - I guess I now run the risk of Microsoft disabling my operating system on my primary machine the next time I log on to download an update!!!!!??? Oh well - if I HAVE to eventually buy another copy of XP I guess I will! :o( Good grief - what a poverty trap this all is!! . . . squeezed in a quick microwaved beef curry and bread and butter around 1am . . . to bed around 2pm. pi
16 - Woken by Sally around 7:30am! . . . walked in the freezing hard frost and found 5p. Found a couple of keys in the street near the shops so handed them to the guy in the newsagents and asked if he'd put them in his window. . . felt all guilty at having spent so much money on such frivolities! Balanced my accounts to make sure all was still well. . . PCd a record or two . . . walked with Sally up to Kingswood to bank the premium bond cheques and to do a little shopping. My foot was still hurting, but definitely not 'quite' as bad as it has done. Oh I do SO hope it's getting better! . . couldn't help myself looking at some of the cassettes and records in a couple of charity shops. SO hard to resist buying some. This MP3 music collection really has become something of a weird, costly and probably unhealthy 'need more, need more' obsession!!?? Funny thing is, I know in a few months I'll probably be all distracted with something else, and hardly ever listen to any of it! . . . PCd?? . . ?? . . . walked . . . touched base with BB . . . burned the midnight oil and PCd through until early. p
17 - Woken by Sally . . . walked . . . moved the 'new' living room PC around and managed to squeeze the big old 17" monitor into the alcove on the coffee table next to 'my' chair. Actually looks awful and isn't too easy to use there - that CRT monitor is just too big - but its what I've got, so it'll have to do for a while! . . . lots more messing around. Eventually decided I HAD to buy an extension cable for the audio to TV connection, so took Sally and walked to a nearby likely store. They had 'almost' the sort of cable I needed for under 4, except I needed a male to female socket configuration, rather than the male to male. Bought the cable anyway and spent another couple of s on some solder on sockets - I'll cut one end off and solder on the sockets I need. . . walking back from the store, a bunch of yob like 'hooded' kids were all walking up the road carrying someones wheel trims they'd obviously just stolen! They briefly hid them over a wall in someones front garden before a kid retrieved them and then jumped on the back of someones push bike and off they went with their ill gotten gains. Grrrr! I did actually stop and retrace my steps and walk in the direction they were all going, with the intention of maybe seeing where they ended up, but the kids with the trims on the push bike had already disappeared from sight, so I eventually just ended up walking round the block and then back home. :o( . . . messed around with cables. Pulled my soldering iron and solder out of the cupboard and bumped into another phono socket extension cable I already had (albeit without sockets on one end.)! Damn - should have checked in there before I went and spent that money! Ended up using the old cable rather than butcher the new, and soldered the new sockets on the end and eventually got the computer all connected up to the television. Sadly, no way were there enough options of connecting all my equipment up, to enable everything to be routed through the stereo amp and speakers - just had to settle for using the stereo speakers on the TV. . . messed around for hours experimenting. Bloody nightmare!! There are SO many different configuration possibilities on both the TV card and the twin display Video card - independantly and in combination - I could spend the rest of the year trying them all to see what works best!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Different independant display resolutions, desktop clones or extensions, different video file formats - it all goes on for ever and is SO confusing!!!, . . . at the end of the day, I suspect that what is letting down this whole set up, is that cheap TV card and software! :o( Oh - and the old TV of course! Oh well - it'll all do for the mean time. If nothing else, this whole nightmare is a good learning experience for establishing exactly what I want from such a setup, so I'll know EXACTLY what features to look for in the distant future, when I know I'm likely to eventually get VERY serious with parting with a bunch of my savings - when widescreen flat panel TVs etc, come way down in price. :o/ . . walked . . . touched base with BB . . . PCd . . . ??. p
18 - Woken around 8am by Sally . . . walked and found 18p. There is a rough area of ground on one side of the field, with a strange six foot across depression and some bricks and rubble poking up through the grass around it. I’ve been told by more than one old dog walker in conversation, that it is the top of an old mine shaft. There are varying tales of what is actually under the grass. A couple of the old women maintain that there is nothing more than a couple of old wooden pallets holding everything up, and they warn against walking over it! I am more inclined to believe the old guy who said he recalls some sort of exploratory excavation there some years ago, and who says there is a huge inch or more thick steel plate over the shaft. The large depression has been there for as long as I can remember. It doesn’t seem to be going anywhere. In the summer it fills with a tall stand of nettles and grass (because the tractor mower drives around it), but at this time of year, all the growth has died back, making the depression more noticeable. Actually, I’m not sure why, but I have of late tended to deliberately walk into the depression, in an attempt to keep the nettles from growing back up – or maybe just to tempt fate into having it all collapse under me!?? Well – this morning I noticed something a little different. Ten feet or so away from the depression, over by the hedge that separates the field from the road - there was hole!!!!??? I carefully reached in with a leg and kicked away some of the fallen leaves that were mostly obscuring it and discovered a ‘proper’ hole! Maybe two feet across, with a ‘shaft’ going down six to eight feet, at a 45 degree angle beneath an ‘arch’ of stonework!!! Blimey!! Down the shaft I could make out some sort of wood, holding the earth back from one side. It actually looked as though an old door or two had been buried there and somehow the earth had slipped away from the wood and left the void I could see into. I’d say it was ‘just’ about big enough to swallow me, if I’d got down and squeezed in! Very dodgy! Wasn’t really sure if it was worth getting ‘worked up’ about, and I ended up carrying on round the field with Sally like normal. In the distance I could see the council guy emptying the poop scoop bins, so I made a bee line for him and told him what I’d found and asked him to report it. He said he would – but strangely he didn’t even bother to go investigate, or look at what I’d described, and was soon back with his mates in a van and driving off!! I guess I shouldn’t say it, but I didn’t have much faith in relying on him to do anything about it – something to do with the likely IQ rating of your average council poop scoop man!! . . Sally behind a hole in the ground.I ended up walking Sally round the field and then all the way back up to the hole to take a photo and have another look and decide if I really should call it in to the local non emergency police number. The trouble with living in such a declining area, with all the anti social behaviour etc that goes on, with numerous past calls to the police that go unattended - you kinda lose touch with what IS and what is NOT, ‘important’ and ‘worth’ calling the police about! Showed another dog walker the hole and was helped to decide that it DID need reporting. It was certainly big enough to swallow a dog or small child without anyone noticing. It WAS dangerous – and who knows why it had appeared and how it could progress!! . . called the local police on my mobile and attempted to report it, without making it sound ‘too’ important to me. They seemed interested. The dog walker guy helped me out with the nearby road names to enable me to give a precise description of where it was. Having ‘done my bit’, (yet again!) I headed home with Sally. She was in boisterous mood having had such a ‘double the normal’ walk round the field, and ended up laying down and wallowing in the deepest, most disgusting huge muddy puddle, ‘just’ as we were leaving the field!! :o( Grrrr!! . . . hosed Sally down out on the patio and then sat out there in a sunny spell briefly, letting her drip dry a bit before towelling her. Came back inside the house ‘just’ in time to catch the end of an ansaphone message being left by the police control room. Turned out they had sent some police out to ‘look into’ my hole, but they couldn’t find it!! Made me feel all guilty and embarrassed – like I was wasting their time!! Once again I gave (what I thought was) my clear, precise explanation of where it was. . damn – I’d feel SO silly to have called them out, only for them not to find it and think I was a local loon! Leashed Sally up and walked as fast as I could back round to the field. . as I rounded the corner of the field, I could see the police in the distance – on the opposite side of the field from the hole, and obviously having just given up looking for it and heading back to their patrol car! DAMN!!! I started hollering as loud as I could after them, and had to start trying to run (ouch–ouch–ouch!) up the field to catch them. The police 'looking into' my report of a hole! :o)Eventually – oh thank goodness – they heard me and turned and I pointed across to where the hole was and we all headed over to it. With some considerable relief, they DID seem interested in it. I HAD done the right thing to call them. They were gonna stay and cordon it off and sort it all out. One of them started making phone calls getting the ball rolling. I couldn’t resist a quick photo of ‘the police are looking into it’, before leaving them to it and hobbling back home. . uh oh! Oh NO!!!! That attempt at running appears to have aggravated my painful foot. Ouch!! Back to square one, painful and limping, just when I thought it was improving!!! Bugger! Bugger! :o( Ok - sooner or later I'm gonna have to return to hassle my doctor and demand something more than useless anti inflammatories! . . . PCd the day away again . . . ended up feeling too exhausted to mess around making something to eat so skipped food and napped late for almost a couple of hours until woken by PS leaving an ansaphone message. . Walked, eager to see what had become of the hole on the field. Oh for goodness sake!! The police had done their job and cordoned off the area with some cones and 'scene of a crime' (?!) tape, but the coal board who'd apparantly been called in and had erected some more substancial fencing, had actually fenced off the area around the large depression and NOT where 'my' hole was!!! How on earth could they do that? Miss the 'hole' point of why they'd been called out? The depression they'd fenced off as a danger, has been like that, unchanged for years! Idiots!. . Needed food - lots - quickly - so walked the extra round to the kebab shop and treated myself to an expensive (4.50!!) kebab and chips feast. . very briefly touched base with BB and then set about moving furniture and lifting floor boards in the front bedroom in order to thread the cross over network cable through and down the 'cemented in the wall conduit' into the living room. Took a little longer than I'd wanted and I was still in the middle of it when PS popped round for coffee, biscuits and chats until early. He had to amuse himself watching TV on his own for a while, as I screwed all the floor boards back down! Blimey - worked up a hell of a sweat - but got there in the end! Poor PS was forced to watch copies of my desktop on the TV as I battled on with different software configurations, played some music, recorded TV programs etc!! . . .touched base with BB after midnight . . .eventually to bed in the early hours. piss
19 - Woken by Sally. . . . walked. Found most of a quite useable roll of cellotape . briefly detoured out of the field to go and knock on someones door to let them know one of their roof tiles had come adrift, was dangerously just laying on the other tiles, and had left a good hole for the forecast bad weather to get in. I only bothered because the position of those houses and the road they are on, makes it impossible for the owners to see their own roof unless they take the trouble to walk round into the field - which of course they never have any reason to do so! Actually - I'm pretty sure it was that same tile and that same house that I've done the same for once before!! . . Got talking to some of the dogwalkers about the hole and was told that the coal board people who'd turned up, had allegedly said the new hole wasn't going anywhere (it appears to have either been filled or just collapsed under the weight of whatever coal board vehicle had been driven across the grass to the site), and they were more concerned about the subsidence at the site of the depression!!! Oh well - it'll be interesting to see what is done about it all. Of course if they aren't quick, the vandals will destroy all the fencing and tape and steal the police bollards!!! . . . fed LBs cats and rabbits . . . fired up both PCs and actually just sat around in front the TV in the living room for a while, enjoying surfing different music tracks - with a rather more than usual, 'saturday morning' volume level! :o) Hang on - there's something wrong with the audio!!??? Bugger! I don't think the 'on board' audio is behaving right! Ended up fitting a Sound Blaster card back in (I'd been intending to anyway) and disabled the on board and that corrected the problem. Phew! . . Uh oh!! All of a sudden the power went off!!!! DAMN!! Both PCs just cut off in the middle of playing music - that won't do them any good!! Oh no!! Have I blown a fuse? Is it MY electrics at fault again?!!!!! Dashed up LBs and was terribly relieved to find hers was off too. Phew. . phoned the electric company and was told the whole area was out because there was a major problem with a local sub station. They should have the power back on within a couple of hours! Ok. . Blimey! What the hell shall I do now? No matter what I thought of doing, I couldn't, because it all pretty much required electricity in one way or another! No central heating, no lights, no TV!!!! Couldn't do laundry, couldn't vacuum, couldn't shower, couldn't trim my hair, couldn't boil a kettle, etc, etc!! Wow - how totally reliant on electricity we have all become! I think, that's not good. :o{ . . ended up just doing a bit of tidying up and going around turning stuff off! Don't want anything nasty to happen with a surge or some such when the power comes back on. . . eventually realised I was still good to cook something on the gas stove so cooked up four sausages, half a tin of baked beans, a handful of mushrooms and two eggs to go with four slices of bread and butter. The power came back on after about an hour. I cheered. :o) . . . napped for a couple of hours until around 6:30pm when woken by Sally giving a gentle bark at something downstairs. . . walked. Just the lightest hint of a flurry of snow - I guess that really wintery, snowy weather that's been forecast for next week, really IS on its way!! Just what I don't need with my painful foot - to be walking on ice!! . . .fed LBs cats and rabbits. Bloody hell - almost lost one out of the hutch when the door was open for me to get the food in! Managed to catch the poor little thing in mid air and kinda gently throw it back in before quickly getting the door shut!! I've no idea how many are in that bottom hutch - hope there are still the right number!! God I HATE having to feed her zoo! Because of the disgusting state of everything, and the rusting hinged, rotting wood hutches that don't close properly - there's nothing easy, quick or convenient about the chore at all! What possible pleasure can anyone get from keeping animals like that? And as for the poooor polecats locked away in that cupboard - well - it was the usual instructions that they would be ok without ANY attention! I DID peek through one of the glass door panels just to confirm my suspicions - awful, awful - no way have they been cleaned out 'properly' (if at all!) since before the last time I looked in. How many weeks/months ago was that? Oh dear! :o( . . . PCd this for the first time in a few days, but with difficulty! The last week seems to have just ended up being a blur - battling with computers and cables and settings and - damned if I can really remember any one day being much different from another!. . . stopped PCing to make coffee and touch base with BB but just couldn't face going back upstairs to do my journal. Internet and networked MP3 music on the TV, windowed TV and other stuff on the PC - in a comfy chair. Ended up TVing and then turning the networked PC on in the living room and playing music and even recording a couple of Fawlty Towers TV episodes onto the PC as AVI files, with the TV card. Big files - 'relatively' poor quality image when played back full screen on the PC monitor or on the TV, but - well - they're 'watchable' - and look very perfect in a smaller desktop window. . . ended up experimenting and playing music and doing all sorts of nonsense for hours! . . . ate corned beef, tomato, mayo, onion, lettuce sandwiches with crisps at some ridiculous hour. . . carried on playing with the living room PC for hours more, listening to music and watching slide shows on the television of some of my photos. Dunno why it seems so cool to be able to look at my photos on the TV!? lol . . . eventually to bed at some crazy time after 4am!!!! ps
20 - Woken (just!! God I need more sleep!) by Sally before 8am! . . .walked and found 4p. Walked the extra to the nearby pub and left the two pint beer glasses I'd found in the field on their doorstep - with the other one that was already there! Pulled the shopping cart that was also dumped in the field, all the way down on the grass and then out and along to leave it outside the nearby store. Actually, it was a shopping cart from a different store miles away but I wasn't gonna try walking THAT distance - so I left the local store with the problem . . . fed LBs zoo. Couldn't resist having another look at her CD collection as I passed by. Hmmm - actually - there are a whole bunch there I haven't 'borrowed' yet! Ended up returning home for a paper and pencil and then went back up LBs and meticulously listed everything I thought I hadn't yet borrowed. Returned home with the list and PCd, comparing it to my collection and narrowed it down just a little, before going back up and filling a carrier bag with those I wanted. Spent the next several hours with both PCs running, ripping CDs - trying to get them done before she arrived home. Dunno why I put so much pressure on me like that - after all, she's quite happy for me to borrow them! . . was just popping back up LBs for something or other when some car pulled up down the street and started blowing its horn? I turned and stared all disapprovingly at the noise maker, only to eventually realise they were blowing their horn at me!! Turned out to be BW calling by to say hi. :o) He had a lady friend with him! :o) Turned out they've 'got together' and are living together - and she had a dog. :o) Took the chance of introducing their dog to Sally out in the front garden, and it all went not 'too' bad - just a little bit barky - so eventually all came inside for chats. Sally was obviously rather upset to have her cave invaded like that, but she handled it pretty well and there was no dog fight. She is SO cool. :o) . . . carried on franticly ripping and scanning CDs and finally managed to get them all done and returned to LBs before she arrived home. Left a note on her table telling her about the power cut and admitting I'd borrowed her CDs and pointing out that two of her cases were empty with the discs missing. . actually, I got them all done except for one. Something wrong with that one. It was already a copy - but absolutely did NOT want to be copied again. An attempt at copying ended up taking longer than actually playing the damn thing! Left it working and grabbed a quick bite to eat - defrosted four cheese and onion rolls to go with two bags of crisps. . . left the PC running on that same CD and lay down late for a short nap . . .woken by Sally barking at something around 6pm. Good grief - the PC was STILL trying to copy that dodgy CD! Finally aborted it in disgust . . . walked . . . LB popped in briefly with a small supply of 'proper' coffee sachet things as a thank you for doing the animals. Apparantly the 'missing' CDs were actually in her player and I could have them now if I wanted. Briefly popped up and borrowed them . . . touched base with BB . . . oh so VERY tired, but I'm SO behind doing my journal - gotta try and do a bit! PCd this but pretty soon felt SO tired, I just couldn't carry on - couldn't focus and my fingers started hitting all the wrong keys! . . .ate a garlic sausage, cheese, onion, lettuce, tomato and mayo sandwich with two bags of crisps around 11pm . . . exhausted to bed not long after midnight. pa
21 - Woken by Sally before 7:30am! I am ALWAYS so very tired. :o( . . . limped. Found 2p and yet another ball on a rope for Sally. I've found SO many of these - I guess maybe I should just start leaving them where I find them, but for some reason I just can't. The hunter gatherer in me? Very cold out - the (considerable) consolation being that the ground is all hard and we don't get covered in mud like usual . .straight on the PC to try and get on top of my still neglected journal . . . ate two fried sausages, three eggs and a handful of mushrooms with four pieces of bread and butter for a late lunch . . .napped until woken by Sally around 6pm . . . walked in a light snow shower . . . Mum called to suggest a TV show to watch. She'd spoken again with Sis2 who'd confirmed she really was actually serious about going to work in Bahraine!! Weird! . . .PCd music . . . touched base with BB . . . played some of my music on the living room PC/TV setup. Actually started knocking up the odd one or two custom play lists. Played silly games like think of a word at random, and then search the database (now in the region of 10,000 individual tracks!!) to see what music is returned to match, to play. Actually fun. :o) . . ate bowls of cornflakes before bed around 2am. pas
22 - Woken by Sally around 7:45am! . . . walked and found a small dangly gold earring. Moved a couple of the police bollards and tape around near the hole, and attempted to reassemble the mess that had inevitably been made of it all by the vandals! . . PCd splitting cassette music all morning . . . ate a third of a tin of corned beef, grated cheese, onion, mayo and tomato sandwiches with crisps for lunch. I've discovered this new trick with the tinned corned beef. Chop it up - mix it with the grated cheese - zap it in the microwave on high for a minute - mush it all up, and then spread it on the sandwich! A bit 'slushy' but, mmmm, mmmmm. :o) . . . . napped until around 5:30pm . . . PCd another cassette . . . walked in the freeze. Passed a bunch of kids near the chip shop. One of them called out to one of his mates - "Hey look. It's bin man!". "Hey BIN MAN!" they jeered, as I carried on walking without reacting (although I guess not reacting in such circumstances, IS a reaction isn't it!! Can't win.). Grrrr. Oh well - I guess my secret is out. lol :o) Good job really - it was getting harder and harder to find a phone box to use, to change into my superhero outfit, that hasn't been vandalised!!! :o) . . Ahah - the 'Danger - Mineshaft - Keepout' fencing that had been erected by the coal board around the depression over the field, had been altered and extended up to the hedge, to more or less also encompass the place where I'd actually found the hole. That's better. Wonder how come they came back and did that? Maybe someone called them and pointed out their error? . . despite the freezing cold, I sat on the seat near the swings and had a cigarette and admired the cold clear moonlight and starry sky. As I sat there, a couple of kids on mopeds suddenly appeared at the top of the slope some distance behind me, noisily riding around on the grass. They'd been heading for where I was sat I think - my presence put them off (I deliberately 'lit myself up' by turning my mobile phone on). There was something 'weird' about their behaviour - definitely 'up' to something!? I watched as they rode off across the grass, in an unusual direction with their lights off. As I headed back with Sally up towards the exit of the field, a group of perhaps half a dozen kids were crossing the middle of the muddy field and heading directly for where the two kids on mopeds had now stopped in the dark. Uhuh? As I carried on across the field, they all met up in the dark near the cycle path, the moped riders parked their mopeds on the cycle path, and then they all headed over towards the fence of the nearby builders yard. The ground slopes steeply down to that fence, and in the gloom (despite the moonlight), from that distance it was impossible to see what they were up to. The little I could see of their body language, screemed, 'guilty'! It's hard to explain - you just KNOW when people are 'up to stuff'. (That builders yard has been closed since around Christmas, when the company apparantly relocated to Yate. The property has apparantly been sold to housing developers. The buildings have almost instantly been vandalised since they were vacated - although it appears there is still some stock stored on site, and the security alarms are still operational. On several occasions while walking Sally in the adjacent field at night, I've seen warehouse shutter doors open, lights on, and alarms sounding out. Dunno how the people in those new flats opposite can sleep through those alarms - they have been left sounding ALL night, more than once!!??) . . Should I? Would there be any point? I debated with myself - at length. Damn it - it just isn't right that I KNOW 'something' illegal is going on, or about to happen, and yet I've learned from past experience that calling the police is pointless!! It just isn't right! Sod it - I called the local non emergency police number on my mobile (YET again!!!) and attempted to report - 'something going on'. Once upon a time, I can remember when such a (vague) call, WOULD have resulted in a fairly instant police presence. I mean - for goodness sake - if I've taken the bother to actually call them, you'd have thought they'd assume there WAS a good reason to do a drive-by, pretty quick wouldn't you?! Did they? Did they hell!! :o( I naively thought they would, and decided to sit on a nearby boulder and wait and watch whatever I could see of whatever was going on, and maybe point the police in the right direction 'when' they turned up. Felt all guilty myself, sat on a boulder in the dark, deliberately half hidden behind a tree, with my hood up!! Couldn't even have a cigarette cause that would have drawn attention to my presence! I sat and watched and listened - in sub zero temperatures - for around 45 minutes!!!! At one point a handful of the youths all came towards me (Yikes! - phew - I don't think they saw me) and then headed off out of the field down the road past the front of the builders yard and out of sight, before returning a little while later. Arrrgggghh - why aren't the police here!! It was cold. It was painful cold. I couldn't stand it any longer. Managed to get my frozen limbs working and stumbled off home with Sally, leaving the law breakers to carry on breaking whatever laws they wanted, with absolute impunity!!! GRRRRrrrrr!! What AM I supposed to do? I just don't know what I am supposed to do anymore. Hopeless frustration. :o( . . . Oh my god!! I was badly FROZEN!!!! Turned the central heating on - and way up! Filled the kitchen washing up bowl with hot water and immersed my hands for a while, but it didn't help much and I stayed hooded and absolutely frozen for hours. Considering how painfully cold I'd got, there had to be some terribly good reason for those kids hanging out where they were!! Tomorrow morning's Sally walk WILL include a detour and detailed examination of THAT bit of the field, that's for sure! . . PCd . . Mum called . . . touched base with BB . . . temporarily hooked the living room PC audio outputs to the stereo auxilliary input (usually occupied by the cable box outputs) and listened to some of my music through the four main living room speakers. Gotta try and figure out how to have that permanently fixed up like that - sounds SO much better - very near a 'do-it-myself' surround sound effect. There is little direction to what I hear - I'm just 'immersed' in the sound. Very cool. Poor neighbours!! Wish I could experiment by going into each of their houses to find the highest volume I can have, without disturbing them at all. Shut the noise down by around 10:30pm, just in case it WAS audible to them . . ate corned beef and grated cheese (microwaved), onion, mayo and tomato sandwiches with crisps again, and then some chocolate. . . had a really hot shower before bed, just to try and warm me up. Had the water on as hot as I could stand, and ended up just stood under it for absolutely ages. That worked. :o) . . . PCd until bed around 3am. Like the sadly obsessed person I have turned into of late, I ended up going on line looking for Windows Media Player visualisations to download!! Found a couple at Soundspectrum, although they 'feel a bit system heavy'. pas
23 - Woken by Sally giving me her 'Hey, wake up!' whine around 7:45am! Just the lightest dusting of snow on things outside. So far we've been REALLY lucky and escaped all the bad weather they are having over much of the rest of the country. . .Stolen dumped Yamaha FJ1200walked, sad to admit, with just a little 'excitement' about what I 'may' find, where last nights nonsense had been going on. Found a penny . . I knew it! I bloody knew it!! I was NOT wrong. They WERE up to no good - although I really did NOT expect to find THAT, THERE!!!!!! A stolen dumped Yamaha FJ1200 superbike!! Blimey - what sort of a 'death wish' nutcase would joyride across a muddy field on a stolen 1200cc road bike?Actually - with hindsight - THAT explains the broken bits of motorcycle fairing that I'd spotted on the grass next to the cycle path, several days ago. It must have been there for a few days. The rope attached to the front wheel suggested that the youths I'd been watching last night, had been trying to drag it back up the steep slope - but had understandably failed. I clambered and slipped down into the brambles to make sure I could get to see the number plate over the back wheel. I could - just - by pushing my head into the thorns! I called the police on my mobile - again! Incredibly, when I was asked the nature of the call and I said I was trying to report a stolen dumped motorcycle, the idiot on the line started giving me a hard time about how did I know it was stolen!!! Well DUHHH! Grrr! As I was trying to give all the details, a crowd of school kids turned up to have a look. It was apparantly common knowledge at school that it was there! How come they weren't in their lessons? Actually - a couple of the kids hauled on the rope and helped me climb back up the slippery slope. Cut my finger on something down there and was bleeding by now too! As I carried on giving all the details on the phone, the group of kids set about trying to haul the bike up the slope 'so they could get it going and have a go on it'!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Jeeze!! I pointed out this danger to the guy on the phone, and suggested they needed to recover it real quick. I said I'd walk the dog and then hang around, to tell the police where it was, as long as they really WERE gonna turn up for this one (but also to make damn sure the kids did NOT succeed in getting it up and going!). The group of kids called out to some others (older - hanging around outside the school gates) at one point, telling them to come and see what they'd got. Their reply (not to be believed, childish bravado perhaps) was that they knew it was there and weren't interested because it was them who'd 'done it'!! . . I walked Sally and then sat on a distant freezing boulder (again!) with a cigarette (well away from the leaking oil and petrol), watching as the group of kids thankfully failed in hauling the bike up the slope. . Wow - a miracle - a police car turned up containing a policeman and a policewoman! Good grief - can that 'little girl' be old enough to be out of school, never mind be a policewoman?!! . . I introduced myself, moaned about the events of last night, and walked them over to where the bike was 'hidden', as the kids (truanting?) all scattered and moved away to a less noticeable distance. . Had a bit of a conversation with the police, which included a couple of interesting points. They knew about the reports of a hole opening up in the field the other day. They asked if I was the one (no - not me!?) who'd reported their dog being hit by a moped on the cycle path there the other day!!! Barring being called away on some emergency, it WAS their responsibility to remain with the stolen vehicle, until it was removed by the recovery company. Most bizarrly of all, they revealed that the recovery company vehicle, which was now on its way, would NOT attempt to drive across the treacherously muddy field to pick up the bike!!!??? Well how in the hell are they gonna recover it then? Just then, some sort of council (poop scoop?) truck drove towards us along the cycle path. The policeman intercepted him hoping he'd be able to use his tow hitch to haul the bike up the slippery slope. I got all smartass 'I used to have bikes', and offered to help - because I figured I've had a little experience in moving bikes around. The first thing to do was get that rope off the front wheel. Pretty obvious to me, NO WAY was it gonna be possible to just drag it up that slope - the angles were all wrong. It would just dig into the mud and attempt to bury itself. Only way was gonna be to get the tow rope around the forks or frame, get it on it's wheels, and damn near 'ride' it up!! Dangerous! I'll do it. :o) FOOL! . . I untied (eventually) the frozen rope and re-tied it around the forks, which wasn't ideal but was easier than trying to find a bit of the frame to thread it through. Somehow with the policeman's help I managed to force the (oh SO heavy) bike, almost upright. I ended up stood on the bike's left hand side attempting to keep it upright as the rope was hitched to the council truck and it started inching forward. Actually, it probably only moved an inch before the rope snapped and I had to leap clear and the bike had to be left to fall back over!! About then, another dog walker turned up and got stuck in. He was one of those types that kinda doesn't take any messing, analysis a situation, and just gets on and does what needs to be done. I like to think I'm a bit that way myself, although I can't really pull it off when others are involved, because of my lack of confidence around people. He hollered over to some guys that were working in the builders yard asking if they had a tow rope. Better than that - they had a 'stropp' - one of those incredibly strong straps that is used to tie down the loads on the back of a truck. They threw it over the fence. I looped one end around the bike forks, and the dog walker guy took charge of re-directing the council truck (with difficulty - not the cleverest guy in the group!) into the best towing position and then hooking up the stropp. Waiting down the slope next to the bike, I cheekily handed my camera to the policewoman and asked her to take a snap. She happily did so and was then tasked to hang onto Sally's lead and that of the other dog, to keep them safgely out of the way. Hardly necessary with Sally - she is SO good at laying down and waiting for me when I get up to such nonsense - I guess she's had a bit of practice! Eventually the policeman, dog walker and I, all took up position down the slippery slope, and just about managed to get the bike back up on its wheels. Damn - it was stuck in gear - and it turned out the gear shift lever mount was broken, so no way could it be shifted out! So - I'll have to hang onto the clutch then! Even more awkward! As the council guy was directed to VERY slowly inch forward, we all hung onto the bike and tried to keep it upright. I was stood to the left of the bike, pushing with all my might on the handlebars to keep it upright, while at the same time trying to keep the clutch in. Uh oh - OH S**T - it's gonna go!!! There was no stopping it - I tried my best with all my strength, but eventually had to leap to one side into the brambles as it fell over - 'just' not 'quite' on top of me. Everyone ok? Yeah. Although - uh oh. I kept it to myself, but oh my god, my left foot was hurting. It was hurting BAD!!! Oh jeeze!!! Eventually after a lot more struggling, on the brink of all slipping over and getting crushed, the three of us managed to inch the bike over the brow of the slope and onto the relative level of the grass. The stropp was untied and then the recovery guy (who'd by now turned up) and the dog walker, pushed the bike with me sat aboard, across the grass, onto the cycle path, along and out of the field before propping it up on the side stand in the road directly behind the recovery truck. I DID try and help push it along with my feet as I was sat on board, but the pain from my left foot was SO bad, I had to stop and just sit there and be pushed. Retrieved Sally from the policewoman and bid them all farewell and limped home - very slowly! Actually almost had to stop once or twice. . . PCd this - took ages!! Owwwwaa - the police woman messed up and did NOT take the picture she thought she had on my camera! :o( . . damn - my foot is hurting like hell just sitting here!! I've really done it now! :o( Sucked annadin tablets . . .felt too tired to mess around making food (I need to wash some dishes! They are ALL used and neatly stacked up on a kitchen worktop awaiting washing!) and ended up laying down to sleep until around 6pm! . . .walked. I'd been loathing the prospect with my bad foot, but somehow I managed to develop a weird slow limp that saw me get round the field 'almost' without (too much) pain - whilst also chewing an annadin tablet. Stopped for jumbo sausage and chips takeaway on the way home. . . very briefly touched base with Mum before eating . . . touched base with BB . . . TVd but despite there being stuff on that I would normally have found worth viewing, I wasn't in the mood, and ended up dipping in and out with the PC listening to 'bits' of music instead, until around 10:30pm . . .TVd with coffee, chocolate and biscuits until bed after 1am. paaas
24 - Woken by Sally climbing onto the bed and laying down next to me, at around 7am. She seemed to be in an unusually cuddly mood and happily snuggled - with the result I was gently pushed out of the other side of the bed!! lol . . . walked in light snow flurries, with a weird gait, sucking an annadin tablet - but again succeeded in mostly managing to avoid the pain from my foot. I'm not sure what I'm doing - I think I'm somehow manging to pick my leg up as I walk, so that my foot doesn't really flex or move at all. Really IS tempting to imagine it would be much improved by a period of imobilisation in plaster!!!? :o[ . called the doctors surgery only to find my doctor was all booked up for today, so I said never mind. I did ask the woman on the switchboard if going to accident and emergency at the local hospital would see me get a more rapid diagnosis (rather than presumably be put on some long waiting list by my doctor!), and whether or not I'm kindof 'allowed' to do that! She was non commital . . . PCd a bit - ummd and ahhd and eventually decided I WOULD head for the hospital. Just getting up and down the stairs is now a tough job, with much use of the wobbly stair rail! I can tell - MUCH greater strain is being put on my already dodgy knees as a result of the different way I'm having to walk - that's not good! And there is that weird noise eminating from deep within my foot with every step down on the stairs I take! Take one of those 'sponges' that is used to wash the dishes - immerse it in water so it is fully damp - then squeeze it quickly in your fist. THAT is the noise - every step!!! Eeeewww!!! Showered and got all sweet smelling (liberally sprayed my left sock with deoderant!), left Sally at home and started off in the car for the hospital. Inexplicable/lucky how my foot gives NO trouble at all driving! Oh dear - seemed as though every single person I passed as I drove along, was 'seriously' disabled, either in a wheelchair, limping with a walking stick or on cruches etc etc. How could I DARE to turn up at an accident and emergency centre, when in comparison to some, I'm still able to get around 'reasonably' well - ish, and as far as I know, I've not been in an accident, and it certainly isn't a life threatening emergency? I just couldn't do it. Ended up aimlessly driving around the block before pulling over into a rare parking space and deciding to do a tour of the couple of nearby charity shops. Obsessively ended up throwing 5 away on a few CDs. . drove up to Kingswood and toured the charity shops up there. Turned into an expensive sorti! Bought a few more CDs and a couple of cassettes for a few s, and then spotted a camera tripod in one of the shops for 9. The one I've already got is rather more sturdy, but that one had a pan AND tilt head on it, which mine does not. I've long since identified that I DO need that tilt facility on my tripod. Ended up doing the rest of my little bit of groceries shopping, carrying a tripod. . .returned Mums ansaphone call(s) and touched base - and yes I probably would try and watch the play that was on TV tonight . . . PCd and listened to a few bits of the CDs I'd bought. Oh dear - that's why they were in the charity shop! Awful early or late live versions of the tracks! . . . wiped down a knife and plate from the unwashed pile of dirty dishes and made garlic sausage, mayo, grated cheese, onion, tomato and lettuce sandwiches and ate with two packets of sausage and tomato flavour crisps . . . slept the afternoon away until around 6:30pm . . . walked in waterproofs in the freezing drizzley rain/sleet . . .got back just in time to watch the TV play called 'Dad', starring a VERY old looking Richard Briers (in the PC room whilst recording a double record album - Jimi Hendrix, 'Are You Experienced/Axis Bold As Love' :o) ). Emotionally disturbing and thought provoking, quality TV - a very rare thing these days - even from the (dumbed down - oh no we're not! - oh yes you bloody are!!)BBC. It was all about getting old and who takes care of you and the devastating effect on the extended family etc, etc. A horribly unsettling end to the thing - it didn't end - it just set everything up - and then 'stopped'! Ouch!!! Touched base with Mum and briefly discussed the show. . touched base with BB . . .TVd . . . washed out a bowl and spoon and ate several bowls of cornflakes with mountains of sugar . . . TVd until early to bed around 11:15pm. pas
25 - Woke before 7am - the duvet had slipped and I think I was a bit cold! . . . PCd and split the tracks of the record that I'd recorded last night and then walked as the computer did the conversion to MP3. Found 15p . . . rang the doctors surgery again only to find my doctor wasn't in today! Grrr! The woman on the switchboard remembered me from yesterday - I explained how I'd not 'had the nerve' to go to accident and emergency at the hospital, and said how I didn't actually 'need' to see a doctor (didn't want to waste their time) - I just needed to be put on a waiting list for an x-ray or something - I asked her what should I do?! She immediately put me down for a 10:40 appointment with some other doctor or other! What a waste of everyones time - oh well, guess I'll have to limp along to encourage whatever is next to happen. :o( . . . PCd some of this . . .left Sally at home and drove to the doctors. Arrived early, as I always do, so sat in the car for a cigarette before going in, still around ten minutes early. Incredibly my name was announced on the intercom (after I'd used the new touch screen to 'check in') before I'd even sat down!! Blimey - never been seen BEFORE my appointment time before!! Explained to whichever doctor it was I saw, as best I could what was going on with me, ('pleaded my case' to the gatekeeper/guardian of NHS budgets!!), and very rapidly he filled in a form and said I could go to the local Cosham Hospital for an X-ray, any time between such and such and such and such - which actually meant right away if I wanted. Cool. Blimey - that was unexpected. :o) . . drove straight up to Cosham Hospital (shortly destined for closure! A leaflet was put through the door the other day asking for local support at a 'Save Cosham Hospital' rally, at 11am this Sunday!) and joined the four other people in the waiting room. XXXXXXXXXXX Inside my left foot!Bit of a hickup with my appointment card - apparantly the doctor had put the wrong date of birth on it. No - I'm not eighteen - and frankly - no, I don't particularly want to have to re-live all those years again, thank you so very much!! :o/ Within around half an hour I was called in, told to remove my shoe and sock, installed on a 'table', and two different snaps were taken of my foot by some brave young woman. Apparantly, (unless they spotted a fracture in which case I'd be directed to the casualty department at another hospital), I'd have to simply return to my doctor in about five days. I asked if I could have a look at the X rays - cause it ain't often you get 'to see inside yourself' so easy. The woman was (eventually) quite obliging and held the results up against the window for me to see. She suggested there was no sign of any fracture (which I confess I was a little disappointed about. A decent fracture would have completely removed the guilt I feel about asking for health service help!!). She DID (I think??) 'suggest', there appeared to 'maybe' be some irregular spacing between the bones of the foot, which could suggest possible osteoarthritis!!!! BUGGER!!! I HAVE suspected for some time, what with my crunchy aching neck and dodgy knees, I'm on such a slippery slope - but I hadn't expected THIS amount of incapacity - At MY age??!!! F***!! :o( . .so, back to see the doctor in a week, to get the results of a consultant's opinion of the X-rays - and then what? I bet I already know. It's gonna be 'We can't see anything wrong. There's nothing we can do. Live with it!', isn't it. :o( Given the NHS waiting lists - is it too early to get my name down for a wheelchair?!!!!!! :o( Only a few years (months?) ago, I was happily doing ten mile plus walks. Can I have really walked my last? That'll be a hard blow to take. Poor Sally!! Oh well - better just wait and see what happens before I get 'too' down about it and - um - start trying to envisage a different future. I guess if the worst comes to the worst, in the fullness of time - I could at least get a reserved 'disabled' parking space outside the house. That'd be neat. lol :o) . . .ate something or other and then napped for a couple of hours . . . walked. Just down the road rounding a corner, I was almost hit by two youths bombing along on the pavement on a push bike. 'Sorry boss' one of them shouted back at me. Little could they know, having to stop dead in my tracks like that to avoid a collison, had made my foot hurt like hell!! Grrrr. I was NOT in a very good mood - and that didn't help any. Considering the mood I was in, the kid on the moped who drove straight towards me along the cycle path, got off pretty lightly. He was arrogantly driving straight towards me so I stood my ground and maybe moved slightly more in front of him. At the last minute he pulled out around me but he 'just' got off the tarmac of the cycle path and ended up on the mud. Very amusing to see him slow to a crawl and struggle to stay upright and get the bike back on the cyclepath. I think he came in for a bit of shouting about how he should get back on the road, too. Ha. :o/ . . . as I walked up the field alongside the builders yard, it was pretty obvious there were a bunch of youths in there smashing stuff up. I did my best to ignore it. After all - the place is already pretty derelict, destined for redevelopment, and whoever owns it doesn't give a toss about the security of the yard. Actually, I DID walk a little extra on the way home and skirt round the front of the yard, just to see what there was to see - a large part of the fence in one area has been torn down, and all the undergrowth that is there has been severely trodden down by all the people who've been going in to 'play'. Actually tempted to go in myself! There is still enough stuff laying around in there to practically rebuild my house. What a waste. .BIG group of kids all sat around near the swings drinking. Two of the girls passed by me as I walked Sally, openly looking for the 'hole in the hedge' alongside someones garden (where I recently thought someone had been sleeping rough), because that is where they all use to go to the toilet!!! Yuk! . . . briefly PCd a bit of music. . . BB called. . . listened to music - in a 'Prodigy' (Firestarter) kind of mood!!!! :o/ . . .cooked up four sausages with mushrooms and ate with four pieces of bread and butter after 11pm . . . TVd until bed after 1am. pas
26 - Woken by Sally just after 7am but protested and managed to snooze on until around 8am . . . walked and found a penny. Those kids sure did have a party over that field last night! Took ages to clear up all the beer cans, spirit bottles and broken glass. Used a wooden fork from someones chips takeaway, to carefully with fingertips at arms length, relocate to the bin, the two used condoms laying on the grass next to the seat! Eeeww, eeew, eewwww, ewwwwwwww!!!!!. . PCd cassettes . . . washed the mountain of dishes . . .did laundry . . .broke some of the ice on the pond. Can't see that doing, the little bit of frog swan that is in there, any good. Although of course it never survives anyway. Just ends up being food for those awful looking dragonfly larvae - which I presume are lurking in the depths there somewhere again. Shame - I'd SO love to have some baby frogs. I think I've seen fewer frogs and toads around (hopping around or squished in the road on their way to attempt to reproduce) this year than ever before! :o( . . ate garlic sausage, cheese, mayo and onion sandwiches with two bags of crisps around 3pm . . . napped . . . PCd music. . PS called saying 'tonight?'. He also suggested he could maybe bring along the sole surviving puppy from their last litter, because it has reached the age where it needs to be exposed to 'life', and socialised - to make sure it turns out well adjusted. 'Ok. See ya later'. It wasn'yt until I'd put the phone down I started having second thoughts. Blimey - what if they don't get along and Sally takes exception to having another dog in the house?!! One bite, and PS'll be going home with a dead puppy! And lets face it - Sally is ALWAYS a bit weird and up tight with PS especially, at the best of times! Oh well - we'll just have to be real careful -and at the slightest hint of any upset from either of them, PS'll have to drive it straight home! . . ended up getting quite excited and nervous about it. . . walked . . .vacuumed just a little . . . rushed to eat most of a sausage and ham pizza with HUGE amounts of extra onion, tomato and cheese thrown on top. There IS a limit to the amount of extras you can put on - and I think today I pretty much reached that limit. VERY yummy. Very 'tall'! Left a couple of slices for cold, tomorrow. . left an ansaphone message for BB saying 'later' . . .I told Sally PS was coming like normal (which she DOES understand - as soon as I tell her he's coming, she gives a whine and goes and sits by the front door, waiting to rush out and scare/greet him) but I also tacked on 'with Dogz'. Whenever we are out walking and come across other dogs, I say to her 'dogz'. She absolutely knew PS was coming, but that something else was up as well. :o). . PS arrived carrying the puppy called Ruby in his arms. SO very cute. :o) Sally was very excited and curious. I took Ruby in my arms. Poor little thing was shaking like a leaf! I bent forwards and oh so VERY carefully introduced her to Sally and let her have a sniff. Seemed to go ok. I gave Ruby back to PS for some reassurance and so I could make a praising fuss of Sally. Everything appeared to be ok so eventually PS took the chance of putting Ruby down on the floor, for Sally to really have a sniff of, and for Ruby to grow in confidence and start exploring on her own. It was a very nerve wracking first hour or so as PS and I followed them both around all over the place making sure they were gonna be ok together. Boy what a TINY little dog in comparison to Sally! Sally was wonderful with the situation - SO good. She looked a bit put out but didn’t adversely react when Ruby helped herself to some of Sally’s bones and her chewy thing. At one point they both went into the kitchen and Sally took a mouthful of food from her bowl, and then turned round to where Ruby was, and dropped three or four of the meatier dry food chunks on the floor! Ruby immediately helped herself to the snack!!!! For all the world, it looked as though Sally had deliberately shared her food with her new friend. Amazing – although in reality I’m sure it was just chance that some fell out of Sally’s mouth. Nevertheless, incredibly, Sally had no real issue with sharing her food bowl! Little Ruby could just get her head in the bowl at Sally’s ‘table’, by standing up on her back legs. Soooo cute. . all in all, they got on fine, and eventually I stopped worrying and just let them get on with it. They even started ‘proper’ playing in the living room. Little Ruby would run around (like a cross between a lamb and a rabbit) goading Sally into chasing her, and would then dash beneath the coffee tables and behind the sofa and chairs where Sally couldn’t fit. Lots of tail wagging. Great fun. At one point, Ruby even climbed up into my lap of her own accord and was quite content to look down at Sally and give my face a lick and such. All induced a very ‘warm’ feeling in me. VERY impressed by Sally’s cool attitude. I have been SO lucky to have such a dog – she’s just wonderful. :o) . . . despite the trips into the garden and the newspapers PS had suggested we put down here and there, apparently there was a little accident on the bathroom carpet – but PS cleared it up (almost completely) and, well, that carpet is well overdue for replacing with vinyl at some point anyway. lol :o) Ruby eventually got tired and had a nap, curled up in a corner of the sofa. Tiny dog! Very ‘manageable’ size. Wish Mum would consider getting one. PS and Ruby eventually went home a little after midnight. A very enjoyable visit. VERY impressed with Sally. :o) . . PCd and ended up going round and round in circles with the Wave Repair track splitting software, trying to figure out how it knows the '30 day evaluation period' is over. It's locked me out of the extended de-click, hiss reduction, etc. features! :o( Sadly, I'm no hacker - I'm not clever enough to know how to figure out how it's been done. It even knows if I try simply winding the system clock back!! Oh well - it'll still record and split tracks, so I can't complain. With the quantity I'm trying to get through doing, I haven't time to mess around de-hiss/clicking at the moment anyway. All in good time. . . eventually to bed in the early hours. pass
27 - Woke . . . walked . . . PCd music. Actually started messing around playing little bits of all those tapes (mostly singles) that I found over the field, doing a 'pre-sort'. I like to think I have a pretty broad taste in music and am happy to devote some of my hard drive space to some pretty awful stuff, just in case I'm in the mood to listen to it some time. I DO however (with the rarest of exceptions) draw the line at 'rap' music - ESPECIALLY 'gangsta rap'! I HATE it (and what it represents)!! I will NOT waste a single byte on what I regard as talentless trash. Sorted out a heap of that type of cassettes and immediately threw them to one side - NOT to be included in my collection. Ha! . Hang on - what's this? Blimey!!! One of those cassettes included a couple of little postcard like bits of card that could be used to send off for more information about the artist. They'd BOTH been filled in, with a couple of different (local) names and addresses!!! Blimey - that's something to go on! I may now be able to track down who they belong(ed) to and see if they were stolen!!!! Hmmm - but I haven't finished copying them all yet!! :o/ They may have to wait a while.<guilt> . . . fitted the old 10gig hard drive as a secondary into the living room PC - removed one of the cooling fans cause I think that's overdoing it a bit - it's SO noisy! Like sitting next to a jet engine! Maybe it'll end up in the other PC. Decided to put the case back on (cause it's gonna stay in that configuration for the forseeable future I think) and move it around slightly - put it down on the floor, almost out of sight, beside my chair - that works. Space to set up the old stereo on the coffee table next to the monitor for more cassette recording. :o) . . . PCd splitting cassettes . . . ate the couple of cold pizza slices and then mayo/onion/tuna sandwiches with crisps . . . napped . . . walked . . . PCd . . touched base with BB . . . ended up sat in the living room playing classical violin music on the networked PC/TV for a while!! . . . TVd . . . ate a mountain of mayo/onion/tuna sandwiches (SIX slices of bread and butter!!) with two bags of salt and vinegar crisps and then some chocolate. . . TVd . . touched base with BB before bed a little after midnight. ps
28 - Woken by Sally just after 7am. Just the lightest dusting of snow on the ground - like a sprinkle of caster sugar on top a sponge . . .walked in gentle flurries . . . PCd and split a couple of tracks . . felt like the pressure was on to probably return all the cassettes I'd found to the rightful owner, so PCd some of those cassettes on both machines for hours . . .used some of the 'down time' while the PCs were running and trimmed my hair for the first time in too long - took ages hacking away at it. I MUST try and do it more often and keep on top of it!! . . . ate mushrooms, two sausages, two eggs, half a tin of beans and two slices of bread and butter for an early afternoon lunch . . . napped for just an hour or so with PCs running before getting up and carrying on with it . . .surfed briefly and managed to look up the nearby address of the owner of the cassettes I'd found. The address wasn't in my A to Z book - found it on line no problem. Turned out to be one of the 'newish' houses just out of the top of the field! That's handy . . . walked. Just down the road, someones wing mirrors had been torn off their car by vandals. Picked up the potentially salvageable pieces from the gutter on the other side of the road, and popped them on the poor person path for them to find. . walked. Walked out of the top of the field and located the house of the cassettes owner. Knocked on the door - eventually some guy in the middle of a conversation on his mobile came to the door. He stood there continuing his conversation for a while with me just stood there! He then told me he 'just didn't have time for it' - before I'd even said why I was stood there! Got my back up a bit. 'You'll have time for this!' I rudely said, as I waved the little postcard thing with his address on it in front of him. He eventually said he'd call back whoever he was talking to, and I was allowed to explain what I was doing there. Turned out, as best I could understand from his weird responses, the cassettes were his daughters. She didn't live there any more and he was pretty sure she'd just got rid of them all. Uhuh? So - I'll keep them and hand them into a charity shop then? He seemed to have no objection to that, so off I went leaving him to get back to his 'oh so important' phone call! People are weird. Very weird. . just round the corner from home, 'roadworks' were going on. A drain cover in the middle of the road had been lifted and a three inch diameter stand pipe was stuck out of it with water pouring out. One little plastic bollard had been placed in the road in front of it! A miracle no traffic came speeding round the corner and straight into it!! . the miserable owner of the vandalised car was out with a torch looking for bits of wing mirror in the gutters and under their car. I exchanged a word or two - felt SO sorry for them. . .back at home, the water was off!! . . . BB called. Somewhere in conversation (about having managed to briefly put some laundry out on the line in a sunny spell) BB pointed out that I could have gone and bought a clothes drier with the money I recently spent on the PC stuff! Yep - very true!!! Way to make me feel (even more) guilty about buying 'toys'!! In the middle of our conversation the new next door neighbour called at the door, wanting to know if my water was off too. I reassured her and told her about the 'works' going on round the corner . . . TVd and watched the horrible program about people who wake up from their anaesthetic whilst paralysed and undergoing agonisingly painful surgery. Blimey - one or two people in a thousand live through that nightmare! That seems like a pretty high number! Glad I've had my hernia done already - wouldn't want to have an operation too soon after having seen that program!!. . the water was thankfully back on pretty soon . . . returned Mums ansaphone call (about the program) and touched base . . . ate the last of the tuna, mayo and onion in sandwiches with crisps . . .PCd recording cassettes whilst TVing until bed around 12:30am. pas
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