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David's diary: July 2000

Yesterday was a fairly relaxed day, getting up late and going out to eat - all three meals combined, really - at Pizza Hut. In the evening, I had a good old chat with Jo, first on-line, and then with us both getting frustrated at that, a further couple of hours on the phone. The upshot of all that is that we're definitely friends, thank goodness, but - for the time being at least - no more than that. My sensible side is quite happy with this, if a little disappointed - but as with many of my friends, Jo and her family mean so much to me, even on the basis of one crazy weekend, that I'm far more content to keep them just as reliable and close friends rather than risk all trying to pursue the presently impossible.

Today's been a good day so far, playing at the celebration in the morning, with Tim leading for the first time in ages, making a most welcome return to the swing of things. Mark and I went out for a late lunch with our friend Martin, going to Elements in the theatre district. This was my third visit, though the other two hadn't been before but were quite impressed I got the impression. I had a 20%-off voucher which further sweetened things somewhat, so it's somewhere I'm sure we'll go back to again at some point in the not too distant future. Anyway, I now have a couple of hours free before the evening meeting, but I'm feeling quite stuffed after that buffet lunch, so I can't claim to be feeling too adventurous.

A typically dull day today, but Darren's up for our usual Monday evening Pizza Hut buffet, so that should at least make the day worth living.

And lo, Pizza Hut was Good. Nothing much more to report from the evening, though. Had an early night for a change, and still struggled to make it out of bed this morning. Hmm, American Independence Day today - perhaps it's as well Shine would appear to have a bit of a break in their tour schedule right now...

Twenty to seven, time I was going home. Hmm, what to eat tonight... KFC I think. Get curry tomorrow, almost certainly, with it being Daniel's stag do - though I wonder where we'll go for it?

Somewhat unsurprisingly, the venue for the above has been chosen to be the Bekash in Stony Stratford - just for a change, like. Actually, it's a very nice restaurant and they do some excellent midweek deals. We've been there a few times before, the last time being my birthday, so we know it's good.

Well last night's stag do for Daniel went well. It ended up with him padlocked to a set of traffic lights in the city centre, covered in boot-polish, wearing only a nappy round his loins and a road-cone on his head. Actually, that's not strictly true; indeed the evening went past without anything that might have been described as even vaguely out of order, but it was still a lot of fun for all involved. Pretty much as expected really; everyone had a really good time without things getting at all out of hand, and the food was at least as good as expected. Nine of us met up at Andy and Rosie's, and crammed into a couple of cars to drive up to the Bekash at Stony. Giles joined us later just in time for desserts, and we adjourned back to Andy and Rosie's afterwards before calling it a night.

Oh, and today's my mum's birthday - so happy birthday, Mum, even though it's not likely you'll ever get to read this...

Oh, and my AA membership stuff finally arrived yesterday, after over two weeks' wait. All's not entirely well, though, because the card is dated from the day I filled out the application, and I was advised that I wouldn't be able to use it until I received it... As it happens, I could have used it, though not having the telephone number wouldn't have helped much. I phoned their customer services department, who were quite helpful; in the end, we split the difference, and it's now dated from about a week ago and they are sending me a replacement card. Coincidentally, my car insurance papers also turned up in the post yesterday morning, but everything seems to be in order with them, thankfully, which is just as well seeing as my current policy runs out tomorrow!

Tonight's the second attempt at our "fun in the park" thing, this time up at Bradwell rather than in Springfield. I've been asked to bring my treasure map thing along, which means I'll have to go to Tesco's to get a replacement carrot - I'm a hard-of-hearing kind of pirate, you see - before putting a few final touches to the map. And then hope the weather stays kind to us...

It obviously just wasn't meant to be, as far as this year's "fun in the park" events were concerned, with the weather again striking at tonight's planned activities. It had looked a little touch and go all day, but had quite brightened up by the time I left work. However it started spotting with rain as I drove up to Bradwell, and was decidedly damp by the time I got there. No sign of anything happening, unsurprisingly, but I sat in my car for a few minutes just in case, with an apologetic Giles and Peter shortly pulling up alongside to confirm the inevitable. KFC at Stacey Bushes enjoyed my custom a few minutes later, needless to say, so all was not entirely in vain!

Probably not the most stunningly exciting weekend coming up, to be honest, but I'm not overly bothered; I could do with a bit of a rest really. Contrary to rumours from a few days ago, I can say for sure that I am definitely not going down to Cornwall again this weekend, for reasons that should be fairly obvious to anyone who reads this diary anything more than cursorily. Instead, I am anticipating a nice quiet weekend at home, catching up on some sleep, doing a bit of essential shopping and - if the weather's suitably benevolent - probably going out and getting some fresh air around and about. I'm sure it will end up completely different, of course, but it's good to have objectives even if I don't stick to them...

Well, Saturday's living up to expectations by being quite relaxed and low-key. I wasn't up that late, but took things nice and easy nonetheless, dodging the showers to walk up to the city centre for a late lunch at Burger King. My only purchase of any note was Moby's "I like to score" compilation CD of film-soundtrack music, which was going cheap in HMV's sale. Later, with Daniel and Jodie's wedding fast approaching, I popped out to Argos to buy them the sandwich toaster I had committing to getting from their wedding-list, and bumped into Alan and Helen doing much the same thing with regard to some other kitchen essential... More or less dodging the showers once again I drove down to Willen Lake and had a good long stroll round there, only getting a little damp at one point from the black clouds round about. Tea was pesto pasta for the first time in ages - always a nice treat - and this evening I've been making a few changes to my web pages, though I'm not sure when they'll go on-line as they need a little more thought yet. Nothing else much planned for this evening; I think I might take advantage of an early night, to be honest.

The early night on Saturday never happened, instead going out for a drink at the Lone Tree with Darren. Sunday was not really a very good day, to put it mildly, but more on that when I've got my thoughts together a little bit more than at present.

Yeah, not a good day yesterday, but I have no-one to blame but myself really. I'm reluctant to say anything much about it to be honest, but feel nevertheless there is stuff I need to get off my chest without going into too many of the gory details. Basically I have realised over the last few days, weeks, months or whatever, that there is a lot that is wrong in my life, but that once I have taken that away, what's left seems somewhat feeble and worthless. It's not even being too easy to take away what's bad, precisely because of that vacuum that's left. I feel like my heart and mind are battlegrounds; I know what's right, but it's not at all easy, and I am scared there are certain things I will never truly see the back of. To make matters even more frustrating, all around me I see welcoming greener grass, but it's all got "keep off" signs on it, penning me in where I am, with no escape routes. Yes, to be honest, this is probably about the lowest depression I've hit for a long time, and probably the closest I've felt to doing something stupid to end it all in an instant. Not that I would, I don't think; I strongly believe it helps no-one ultimately, and I've been touched by enough other people so doing in the past to know better. But then that means I really have got anything up to a whole lifetime of this to go. I lean on God, for sure, and he certainly comforts me - he is my most reliable friend, ultimately - but there are no simple solutions evident, and he is but one side of the fierce battle that seems to be raging in me. I know he will win in the end as he must, but the pain in the meantime is presently more than I can bear.

Thanks to everyone offering their support regarding the above. It's probably not really as bad as it sounds, and I might even find myself laughing about it in a few days' time. It's good to know there are people out there who care, though; I may say "oh, it's probably nothing", but I am truly grateful, really!

Feeling better already, I'm pleased to say, although I know that deep down there's not been much progress. In a way it's escapism that's making me feel better, but in another way that escapism - if positive - isn't a bad way to fill the vacuum so long as it's not superficial. The main reason I feel lousy now is because PageOne decided to send a test message to my pager at 2:33 in the small hours of this morning, and completely disrupted my sleep patterns. Yesterday evening was good, though, going out with Darren for our semi-regular Monday evening pizza buffet, and then booking tickets for tonight's showing of "Mission Impossible 2" at the newly-opened Xscape Cineworld multiplex.

Call me uncultured and undiscerning, but I - along with Darren - seem to have joined the growing throngs of People Who Thought "Mission Impossible 2" Wasn't Actually That Bad. No, it wasn't mentally taxing; yes, it did have plot holes large enough to drive a bus through; and yes, Dougray was quite right in commenting on how Cruise just can't help grinning inanely every five seconds or whatever. But after a long day, it was perfect veg-out stuff, and ultimately just about everything we'd hoped for. And the new cinema was pretty good too; relatively small theatres, but well designed and excellent value for money.

I didn't get to bed too early last night, though, with an IRC chat about the politics of our new galaxy in Planetarion, now that the game has restarted and just about everything has changed. I still managed to get up in good time this morning though, and was able not only to have some semblance of breakfast and get into work on time, but also give a grateful Claire a lift to her work - she was waiting at the bus-stop when I left, and was a bit concerned she was running late... As for today, well it's as uneventful as ever, I have to say, but it's lunch soon which always provides a diversion for an hour or so.

Last night ... yes, what happened last night? Not a great deal, I don't think. Left work fairly late, had a KFC, went on-line for a bit, made my packed lunch for today, phoned Sarah, had a bath, went on-line for a bit more, hit the sack. Of course then this morning left my packed lunch at home, realising just before I got to work, so drove straight back and got caught in heavy traffic heading for the city centre - normally avoid that quite elegantly by working out-of-town a little. And now at work, and it's great - not.

It may only have been one relatively minor project, and I may never have actually met the guy in person, but it still comes as a sad shock to hear that the academic I was nominally working with on a recent CD-ROM was killed in a road accident on Tuesday morning. Just makes you appreciate how fragile and tenuous human life is; at least it didn't sound like Graham wasted his days, though, we can be thankful.

Oh well, time to head home, I guess. Tonight's neighbourhood group was going to be a celebration of Ken and Sarah's recent surprise wedding, but Ken's apparently working tonight so that's not going to happen. I'm sure Seamus has got something good lined up instead though; let's just hope a few more people turned up than to the last one, however...

Last night was quite interesting in a number of ways, both good and bad...

Straight after work I went to Kingston McDonalds for tea, which was all very pleasant - a quarter-pounder deluxe meal with chicken nuggets - apart from it being impossible to ignore a dispute between a drive-thru customer and who I presume was the shift manager. It seemed to centre on the customer not having got everything she'd paid for or something, and was a case of her word against the member of staff involved. I feel the manager should probably have done the gracious thing from the start, but anyway, the woman suddenly started accusing him of racism for not giving in to her. She was black; he was fairly short-cropped white. I still just cannot believe what a manipulative thing this was for her to do, and how much hurt it must have caused the manager, especially since it would have been impossible for him then to cave in without implicitly admitting that her accusations were true. Indeed I would say it was she who was being the racist, for even bringing it up as an issue; it's not a one-way form of discrimination. He eventually did give in, sad to say, but I am sure he would have had good grounds for claiming racial harassment himself had he been so inclined. It spoilt my meal anyway, but the last thing I could do was complain to the manager...

Neighbourhood group later was good, though, with an excellent turn-out - just Ken and Sarah missing really, and they had a good excuse, even if we're not sure now when we'll get to have our little party for them. It was mainly "just" an opportunity to chat and pray a bit, but wound up with us sampling different obscure Russian vodkas, oddly enough - always guaranteed to finish the evening on a light-hearted note...

It's Sunday night, and with it, a splendid weekend comes to a close. I'll not go into too much detail, but the main events were of course Daniel and Jodie's wedding yesterday - plus the party in the evening - and a big picnic and prayer event at the Campbell Park cricket ground this afternoon, involving most of the Christian churches in the city.

Daniel and Jodie's wedding was as lovely as all had expected, just the right length and feel for everyone. I'm sure it was exactly what they and their families would have wanted - including Daniel's dad Pete whose funeral had taken place at the same church a year ago almost to the day, so altogether quite a poignant occasion. The evening party was low key but quite well attended, with plenty of snack food and drink to go round, and with Mark's help we were able to have a much-appreciated slide-show of pictures from the wedding I'd taken digitally and put on a CD-R. My late lunch in between was at Pizza Hut with Darren, where we'll also be going tomorrow evening as has become somewhat customary.

This afternoon's prayer thing was very good too, finishing our morning service earlier than usual to give time to walk over to the cricket ground for the preceding picnic lunch. There wasn't a huge turn-out from our congregation, although a few more arrived by car, so it wasn't an embarrassingly small number either. I think there were quite a few less than there were for the similar event last year; I'm not sure why that should have been, but it didn't detract from the event in any way. As with last year, prayer on various city-related themes was interspersed with praise and worship, and there were some extra activities laid on for the youngsters since they apparently got a bit bored last year.

Oh, and a few people came round for tea last night, followed by watching "Blade Runner" that Alan had recorded the night before. Except that it was too boring for everyone - a good film, but neither the time nor the place - so they went to Blockbuster and borrowed "Jakob the Liar" on DVD, and that turned out to be even more boring still. So I went and had a bath and played Planetarion - not at the same time - instead. Still, at least tea was good - crumpets and Marmite!

Last night's pizza buffet was great, as expected, with Dave coming along as well as Darren this time, and looking like he might well be a regular attendee. Plenty of meat-laden pizza this time, for a change, happily to say; they're often a bit stingy with anything more than boring vegetable ones... Other than that, a fairly quiet and uneventful evening, and I took advantage of an earlyish night. No sign of my internet-ordered Corrs CD this morning, despite allegedly having been dispatched first-class yesterday afternoon, but I'm sure it will arrive soon, as will the new Bon Jovi CD I ordered for Mark later on.

Time to go home, I reckon - via a certain purveyor of fried chicken delicacies.

And also a pleasant walk round Furzton Lake, it turned out - always a nice justification for going on the extra mile or so to KFC at Westcroft. I didn't get home until after eight, I don't think, did a few more changes to my web pages - not yet uploaded, due to phone-line unavailability - started writing an interesting new song in 5/4, and went to bed, basically. This morning my Corrs CD arrived in the post just as I was leaving for work, and I am happy.

Oh, and I am also happy because there's not a rather heavy-looking worship team meeting tonight after all, it would seem. I got an e-mail from Tim yesterday afternoon apologising for the fact it had been cancelled, as if I was supposed to have known already. Needless to say, it was due to someone having somehow missed my message from a couple of weeks ago announcing my new e-mail address, so I'd consequently missed an earlier explanatory communication. Has to be said, it would have been far more efficient had the invitation, agenda and cancellation all come from one person rather than three different ones, but I guess that's life in the world of disorganised religion for you...

It was nice to have pleasantly quiet evening in last night in the end, just taking things easy to the strains of the Corrs, and getting a fairly early night too. It was spoilt a little by panics over my domain e-mail, which was playing up quite seriously, but everything seems to be working properly now - either as a result of my e-mail to my providers this morning or more likely because they saw the overnight server logs and realised something was decidedly amiss. This evening there's no neighbourhood group as such - Seamus and Gill presumably being busy elsewhere - although we have been informally invited to Pete and Wendy's group, but since I'm not exactly feeling on top of the world right now, I'll probably have another "evening off" and hope I can feel a bit more perky by the weekend. Just a sore throat, but it's still enough to annoy me and spoil the summer now it's started properly. Oh, and it's good to know I have a bit of a soul-mate on Mono with regard to my current disillusionment with my lot in life; now just got to show the same determination as him to get out of the ruts I'm in...

The new Bon Jovi album I ordered on Mark's behalf arrived this morning. This would not generally be cause for celebration, but since Mark is a teacher and his term finishes today, that means he can listen to it to his heart's content while everyone else is out at work. Everyone can be happy, really!

Not too bad a start to my only "weekend off" for several weeks, what with my busy social calendar of parties, festivals, weddings and so on I am in the midst of.

There was some drama last night, when a motorbike parked on the pavement a few houses along from here caught fire and exploded; no idea what had happened, but with my window open the bangs woke me up, and the fire brigade were on the scene what seemed like seconds later. Looking out of my window just after midnight there was an intense column of flame and lots of black smoke, thankfully fairly quickly snuffed out and damped down by the firemen. Just a charred wreck of a Honda Goldwing this morning; someone's pride and joy now presumably little more than the subject of an insurance claim.

My shopping trip this morning ended up rather longer than planned, mainly thanks to going to John Lewis to sort out a wedding present for Phil and Angela. The wedding list is held at their Oxford Street branch, and they have no computerised systems in place, so I had to spend a total of getting on for an hour waiting for the Milton Keynes staff to get through to them on the phone, first to obtain the list, then to confirm my purchase. All was well in the end, but it seemed an incredible amount of hassle to go to; small wonder the Milton Keynes branch are hoping to get their own - hopefully more efficient - service within the next year or so...

I also bought a couple of odd birthday cards I needed to get and my monthly dose of music and astronomy magazines, and went to have my hair cut - for once not too long overdue! Well I knew that if I didn't get it done this weekend, it would probably have been another month until I would have had another real opportunity, so I had little choice really.

A fairly busy Sunday so far, though I don't think there's anything much more likely to happen now, especially with evening meetings now stopped for the summer - though I'd probably join in with anything that I did hear was going on.

Paul was leading the worship this morning and asked late yesterday if I could play, which I duly did. The choice of songs was a bit miserable - a mixture of older stuff and Hillsongs numbers - but it all went smoothly enough. Hillsongs seem to be flavour of the moment to many people at the moment, but to be honest I just find them rather tuneless and repetitive. I guess it does make them not too difficult to play, though I'd rather be playing something with a bit more interest and opportunity to exercise my fingers.

Having dropped off a couple of bits and pieces at Sarah's, I went out for lunch on my own at Pizza Hut. However, when I got there, I found Nic, Shelley, Adrian, Rachel, Oliver and Toby just in the process of having their order taken, and was invited to go and join them, which was all very pleasant. I'd not really spoken to any of them for quite a while, so it was a great opportunity to catch up with things in general.

Needing a few bits and pieces of an audio nature, I came home via Maplins, eventually relieving them not only of a few more jack-to-jack leads I needed fairly desperately, but also some cable-ties and the means to make myself a 75-ohm digital patch lead for my sound card. The latter I had seen ready-made for not far short of fifty quid even for a "cheap" one, so the opportunity to make myself one for less than two pounds fifty was not to be sniffed at. I'd been using a standard hi-fi lead up until now, which seemed to work, but probably more by luck than anything, so it's good to be doing things properly now - and saving so much in the process.

As expected, nothing much more happened yesterday evening, with the main highlight being getting a rare phone call from my mum. I'd tried ringing around a few people, but everyone was either too tired, busy or out and uncontactable, so I took advantage of a modestly early night instead. Cloud cover was pretty much total last night, so no opportunities to look for this LINEAR-S4 comet thing that was supposed to have been at its brightest yesterday even if it never really became naked-eye visible. Still, I was able to load the orbital parameters into Redshift and look at it on there, but it just wasn't the same...

Pizza Hut buffet was good last night, with plenty of meat-laden pizzas once again. Not sure if we'll be doing the same next week or not, given that I think Dave's away at Beach Mission, but I daresay we can scrape together some small number of people to take along. There's also Darren's birthday curry being planned for tomorrow evening; we don't think Mark got the chance to tell everyone he'd hoped before he went away for a few days, but again we'll hopefully get enough people along to make it worthwhile.

Had a fairly quiet evening yesterday, mainly catching up on the bad news from Paris, and updating the Shine website. The latter was with regard to their performance at the recent Celebrate Freedom 2000 festival in Dallas - where the crowd of over 200,000 is now confirmed as the biggest ever for a Christian event - and specifically getting a load of photographs on-line. It's all done now, and it's nice also to have a news item that's not several months old, seeing as Gareth's being understandably cautious about using the utility I made for adding articles himself. Tonight's curry plans are taking shape quite well now, with it looking likely at least five of us will be going rather than the three we had originally thought probable. I'll be doing most - if not all - of the driving, but I don't mind; it'll make a change, and at least I know where it is we're going...

Five of us it was, in the end, and a good time was had by all, even if we did emerge from the Bekash feeling - and probably looking too - like moomins. I did indeed end up doing a fair bit of the driving around, though Matt also took his car so we didn't have to feel too much like sardines for the journey from Andy's up to Stony. Thoroughly sated, we adjourned to Andy's for a while, hoping Rosie might still be up and about - which she wasn't - somehow managed to find room for a bit of birthday cake, and called it a day.

Except I still had an hour or more to go, having promised to make a copy of a CD-ROM full of public domain and shareware stuff, and running into quite horrendous problems due to the original disc being a little damaged. I was just going to do a straight copy, but ended up having to transfer what files I could on to my hard disk and make the CD-ROM manually. All was complete by about one o'clock, by which time the fun and games outside were starting...

Being a warm night, I tried to sleep with my window open, meaning I couldn't help but notice the fire brigade coming out at least three or four times. Coincidence? I doubt it, especially after last weekend's events with the motorbike. And then when things had finally calmed down - by which time dawn was well on its way - some idiot in a red Cavalier decided he was going to screech around the estate at breakneck speed, burning copious amounts of rubber and his car - assuming it really was his, which I somewhat doubt - making horrible scraping sounds as he did.

Needless to say, sleep was a scarce and valuable commodity last night in the end, and with that in conjunction with my usual "curry hangover" - devotees of Indian food I am sure know what I mean - this morning, I have to say I'm not exactly feeling on top of the world today.

Before Mono goes down for the weekend, I guess I'd better add this short entry - even if hardly anyone's going to get to read it before next week now... Last night was good fun, being our neighbourhood group's belated celebration of Ken and Sarah's recent wedding. We'd previously clubbed together to buy them some much-appreciated cookware, and all brought various food and drink bits along last night. I suddenly remembered I ought to get them a card, then thought I'd better phone Gill to see if we were writing one as a group, and it turned out she'd forgotten about that completely, so I ended up buying one for us all to write! We'd considered having a barbecue, but long ago decided it was a bit risky, and we were justified in the end because the weather did close in a little, and we were quite glad to be inside most of the time. This weekend sees our annual Garden Olympics down in Hampshire, which is always a good time for all, though the weather looks like it mightn't be too kind for the outdoor stuff. I'm sure we'll manage, however, but I'm not at all certain what I'll do for the James Bond theme; last year's was a Star Wars theme, and I was transformed into Darth Maul for the evening, but this year I really don't know...

Well it looks like Mono's on its way back up after its weekend change of scenery, so I'll write a shortish - hmm, it's not actually ended up even vaguely short, after all that - entry summarising what's been going on in my life for the last few days.

This was of course the weekend of the 2000 Garden Olympics chez Steve down in Hampshire, so that took up most of the time, in terms either of travelling, participating or recovering. I'd contemplated stopping off at my parents' Friday night on the way to pick up some stuff, but decided in the end it would be easier to stop off there on the way back on Sunday, which is exactly what I did in the end.

So Saturday morning I was up in good time to drive into the city centre to do necessary shopping at Waitrose, including buying a few contributions for the afternoon's barbecue and bar. Just as I was leaving the shops, I was accosted by Abigail, Charlotte and Isaac, shortly followed by mum Rachael, ending up giving them a much appreciated lift home and being introduced to their new german shepherd Amber. I was in no great hurry, thankfully, though in the end I left for Hampshire with just about perfect timing, arriving only ten minutes late thanks to a small pile-up on the M1 and slow traffic on the M25.

The afternoon went well, and miraculously stayed largely fine and sunny throughout. The games were supposedly going to be toned down a little, acknowledging our ever-increasing years, and some of the more frantic ones had indeed bitten the dust - though the human sheepdog trials more than made up for anything lost, widely agreed to be Steve's most ridiculous and dangerous game yet, even more so than the broom-course piggy-back racing... There were no winners as such in the end, because Steve somehow lost most of the score cards, but as usual, no-one was worrying too much, it all being not much more than an excuse to have a lot of fun and morally justify the ensuing barbecue.

The evening "bop" was not bad, I guess, though I didn't really have the chance to get into the James Bond theme, so spent much of the evening just chatting with people rather than boogying on down. As with last year, I sadly didn't survive until the one-o'clock candlelit croquet, let alone the three-o'clock bouncy-castle games - yes, we hired an adults' bouncy castle, a very popular feature with both young and old alike! - instead finding a modestly comfy spot on the dining room floor, popping in my earplugs to counter the multitude of ticking and bonging clocks that would otherwise have been within earshot, and getting a fairly good night's sleep.

No big rush on Sunday morning, and I eventually stayed around for lunch with the remaining half-dozen or so stragglers, hitting the road home via my parents' mid afternoon. I'd considered going to visit my friend Anne while I was down in that part of the world, but a quick phone call ascertained she wasn't feeling too well, so once again that will have to wait until another time. I stopped off for quite a while back at Prestwood, joining Mum and Dad for tea, before loading up the airbed and pump I'm borrowing for the Cropredy festival, and heading back up here, arriving back in Milton Keynes at about nine o'clock.

So yes, altogether another good weekend in Hampshire, as these ones always do end up, on balance at least. I perhaps didn't participate in things as much as I'd have liked, but I still enjoyed it and seemed to pace myself quite well - given that I made it into work today, anyway.... I met a fair number of new people and got to know those I knew already a lot better, and that's at least half of what it's all about, ultimately. Did I pull, etc etc? Who knows...

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