goznet ...

David's diary: November 2001

Decided this morning that for a new month, I'd try coming into work by a different route. Specifically one involving only roundabouts. This decision was, of course, in no way triggered by yesterday's experience of some impatient moron leaning on his horn and gesticulating madly just because I was not prepared to martyr myself - and no doubt others - by pulling out into solid high speed dual-carriageway traffic as I left Springfield. Oh no, not at all... The route might have been slightly longer, I guess, and may or may not have been quicker, but at least it was entirely stress-free - at least until I stalled just as I got to work! D'oh!

You remember that mini vacuum cleaner I bought at Maplins the other day? Well it's going straight back again as soon as I've got a spare moment during their somewhat limited opening hours. I'd like to say it sucked big-time, but in actual fact the problem was that it didn't... I've got authorisation to return it, and yesterday evening I cleaned out the dozen-odd particles of dust it did manage to shift, and it's all neatly boxed up and ready to be refunded. The compressed air spray I also bought then was amazing, though, and although its physical function is exactly the opposite of the vacuum cleaner - had the latter had a function at all, really - it works much better at shifting dust!

Today's dragging majorly. Sorely tempted to leave early, especially since I'm supposed to be buying some fireworks for Saturday and the recommended shop in Bletchley rather unhelpfully closes at 5.30pm. Hey, I could even come back via Maplins to get my refund on that ever-so-slightly-reduced-pressure cleaner.

Bored with waiting for anyone - graphic designer or academic - to get back to me at work and having hit a sticking point otherwise, I decided I would indeed slope off early to go firework shopping and to take the useless vacuum cleaner back to Maplins.

I found the discount shop in Bletchley that my colleague Rob had advised I try, and I soon emerged with a bagful of hopefully half-decent rockets and a load of sparklers. Sarah's chipping in towards them, so the final bill didn't sting too much, and should hopefully help Saturday night's festivities go off with a suitable bang.

Having dropped the fireworks off at home - I really don't like carrying such things around more than necessary - I went on to Maplins to get my refund. That all went smoothly enough, and seemed quite amusing for the young cashier who most delightedly typed "didn't suck" as the reason for return.

Anyway, now I'm back at home, and after last night's Face to Face prayer meeting, there are no Open House groups this week, so I'm looking forward to a quiet evening in! Whether that will come to pass will remain to be seen, however, and the more I think about it, the more I think I might just fancy a beer somewhere if anyone will come out to play...

Just a single pint at the Barge with Darren in the end, but we were both shattered, so it was quite mutual to call it a day when we did...

A new month also means it's time for a progress report for October, and it's supposed to be submitted by the first Friday of the month, so... Well that's what I'll be doing for the next little while, anyway - and thankfully for once I actually have a fairly reasonable day-to-day record of what I've been up to!

I've got an e-mail. I was warned to expect it, and now I'm scared to read it - but read it I must... If I never write in here again, then let me just say I've had a good day today thus far, though any plans for it being restful were blown when I ended up spending several hours chopping up and transporting fence panels to go on tonight's bonfire. The fireworks party was superb, and went without a hitch, with a full three quarters of an hour of quality pyrotechnics!

Not exactly easy reading, no, but could have been way worse. Definitely very positive on balance, though plenty for both sender and recipient to ponder. That can wait until another day, though; this little Dave's going to have a bite of supper and head for bed. Goodnight, everyone!

Right, it's Sunday today, and I really am going to enjoy a relaxing day today - well, barring any major unforeseens, anyway! No fence-panel destruction, no shopping, just a gentle start to the day, with the first - and probably last - "proper" thing being meeting my colleague Tim at seven this evening to go and watch the city fireworks in Campbell Park. Hopefully the weather will be better than last year, when the ultra-hyped display got badly affected by the inclement conditions and turned out to be an utter flop. Tonight's display is still likely only to be half the length of the church one last night, but apart from last year it's never failed to impress for the short time it does last.

Can I just go on record as saying that if the allegations of your drunken bomb hoaxing are founded, then Chris W, you are a blithering idiot of pretty much the highest degree, and I hope you learn your lesson from this? I can? Thank you, I'll say it then. "If the allegations of your drunken bomb hoaxing are founded, then Chris W, you are a blithering idiot of pretty much the highest degree, and I hope you learn your lesson from this." I'd hoped that your recently starting your studies marked a new chapter in your life, but initial signs are that I was sadly mistaken. Get a grip, man.

Right, it's time to wrap up warm and go and meet Tim for the city fireworks...

BYe fror no! Hmm, from that typing you'd be forgiven for thinking I'd got my gloves on already...

And I'm happy to report back a few hours later that the city fireworks were totally excellent. The weather conditions were perfect - good visibility, and a modest breeze to clear the smoke - and there was almost half an hour's worth of pretty much continuous and top quality pyrotechnic barrage. Even the background music wasn't too cheesy for a change, and not a single murmur of "of course it wasn't as good as last year" like there normally is, because that would have been an utter lie. So yes, a brilliant evening, and wrapped up with a pint with Tim at the Moon Under Water, and a Twister from KFC once he'd headed off home. Shattered now, and back to work tomorrow, so I think I'll call it a night shortly!

Enjoying a fairly quiet day at work today, and looking forward to this evening when Paul from church is supposed to be coming over for a meal and a bit of musical brainstorming of some description. Just had a short on-line chat with Claire, filling me in a little more on the latest in her currently troubled life - but an episode that is certainly strengthening my resolve to look after her somewhat more conscientiously than others have in the past. Maybe when this has all blown over I might say a little more of what's going on, but then it will hopefully be history and ready to forget about anyway... There's some considerable way to go yet, though, and this isn't likely to be a struggle for the faint-hearted, determined as I may be to see this through. Life, eh?

Paul was a bit ill, but struggled on over anyway, and regained enough appetite to appreciate my chicken and pasta concoction before we went and played keyboards and stuff for a little while. Neither of us wanted a late finish, though - Paul being fit to drop, and me needing a little time to talk with Claire as well as do the washing up and so on - so we called it a day soon after nine. Didn't sleep amazingly brilliantly last night in the end, though, with some downright bizarre and vaguely scary dreams, so I expect by the time astronomy club has finished this evening I'll be dead on my feet...

As usual for a Tuesday, today's dragging. It's just about lunchtime, though! Not that I'll be having a lot to eat now, since on astronomy club nights I generally treat myself to a meal out at the Olde Swan. Dessert too, normally!

Oh joy, my next assignment is to convert a load of spreadsheets into MS Works.

And so far, not much joy. Stage one of my recommended procedure has failed.

That could be bad or good news, depending on how I look at it...

Even worse news... We've vaguely got it working. Apart from all the embedded objects and so on which will provide the next chapter in this exciting story.

Well my meal at the pub - sausage and cheese hot hob with chips and salad, plus chocolate fudge brownie - and Astronomy Club after it - focusing on the forthcoming ESA mission to Mercury - were both very good indeed. Pity I now feel so guilty for having had a splendid evening when others I care about very plainly didn't. Not that I knew that at the time, but that's just the way it goes I guess - though it's doubly frustrating that there is so little practical I can do about it right now. Hey ho. Crab-like I inexorably proceed.

And the morning after, my will to do even that is somewhat diminished. I guess manipulating spreadsheets is as exciting as life is going to get.

Mmm, Microsoft Works is really good - not! Bit of a liability calling it "Works", really... Amazing how deleting a character in a formula and replacing it with exactly the same character in exactly the same place can completely change the result of a calculation. "It's closer!" I said. "Well at least it's the right side of zero now." No wonder Microsoft are slowly replacing Works' half-baked components with proper ones...

Still, I've basically got the most troublesome of the spreadsheets converted from Excel now, though it still looks horrible - and always will, due to its inability to display anything other than words and numbers. So my pretty graph can't be overlaid on to the main grid of cells, and the image I need in there will simply have to be dumped. Still, anyone actually using Works deserves everything they've got coming to them, to be honest.

I'm not anti-war. I believe a war can be just, and can be necessary; some would disagree, and some of them would verge on sympathising with whoever the aggressor-of-the-moment is, sometimes unwittingly, but sometimes more disturbingly not. I believe that blinkered pacifism is almost as dangerous as untamed belligerence, but I have to say that the current situation seems to be leaning towards the latter. I've been notable by my silence on the matter of the war in Afghanistan, mainly because I have found it hard to form any opinion on it. But I am increasingly feeling that any true justification for the war is rapidly vanishing, with sheer, indiscriminate and hypocritical revenge the primary motive now.

Osama bin Laden certainly threw the Koran out of the window when he allegedly underwrote the attacks on the World Trade Center, and various commentators have been swift and correct to point out that time and time again he has behaved in an utterly un-Islamic manner, and also encouraged thousands of others to turn their backs on the truth of their faith. Yet the western response has been little - if any - better, really, and certainly utterly un-Christian. In case anyone had missed the plot, "an eye for an eye" and all that is not only a misinterpretion of the Bible but not Christian doctrine anyway. But that's OK, because this isn't a war of religions as we keep being reminded, so it doesn't matter if we don't play by God's rules either, does it?

Today we hear that United States special forces - desperate for any credibility after a recent and largely unpublicised foul-up - have been dropping 15000lb fuel-air bombs on Afghanistan. These are weapons that it really doesn't matter how accurately they hit - and they are manually pushed out of the back of a transport plane - because they incinerate everything within half a mile's radius. These "poor man's nukes" are the very kind of brutal weapons that western forces feared the opposition in various conflicts over the last few decades might have had at their disposal, and now they're admitting they are using them themselves - and did so against Iraq too. The hypocrisy here is astounding, as with the deeply flawed nuclear non-proliferation treaty. It's one thing for the superpowers to hope they have the military upper hand against any adversary they are foolish enough to attack, but quite another to think they have the right to that superiority, and indeed to have it pretty much enshrined in international law.

So no, I'm not anti-war. Call me naive, but I did initially vaguely think that this campaign might root out bin Laden and his followers, and bring them to justice, but it's simply not going to happen. World War Three isn't on the immediate horizon - the ongoing Kashmir dispute is a much more likely trigger for that - but this one just isn't going to stop. At least unless the objectives aren't actually what was claimed all along. It does seem likely that within the next few weeks the Northern Alliance might seize control of the country, overthrowing the Taliban and cutting off support to bin Laden, but what then? Hardly a desirable situation. It's a downright mess. It's not that clear what the best way out of it is now, but it's certainly not be carrying on the way the "civilised" and "righteous" West is at present, is it?

But I've taken a while to come to this feeling - and I'm not calling it a conclusion, please note - in part because I acknowledge that everything in the world is a shade of grey. Some people - especially the so-called pacifists, even though they often seem hypocrites themselves - appear to see everything in black and white, as if they have a grip on absolute morality. As a Christian, I know that only God represents what is truly right, decent, moral, pure and ethical, and that every mortal in the fallen Creation is relatively screwed up and imperfect. Anything involving us mere mortals will therefore ultimately be anything but right, decent, moral, pure and ethical, so there will always be another side to every story; even the most heinous murder has a tragedy behind it, more often than not. Maturity comes in realising that grey is a colour and seeing that other side, but only God really knows black from white and we shouldn't believe for a moment that we can usurp him from that privilege.

Things ended on a slightly more positive note last night I think, relationship-wise, and I might have misinterpreted a few things over the last few days. All very confusing and difficult still, though - but nowhere near as hard for me as it must be for Claire, so I'm not being at all judgemental about it. Anyway, it's Thursday today, which means the weekend isn't far off now - though I need to decide soon whether I'm going to go down to Southampton for Ben and Sarah's anniversary party on Saturday night. This morning I came to work via Citylink's depot, to collect a part-shipment of musical bits and bobs that Sarah's - all these Sarahs, confusing eh? - daughter Claire - and a few of them around too, aren't there? - had asked for, though there's still one more item to come, which I am currently chasing Piedog about.

Tsk, Piedog aren't expecting supplies of that last item - a clarinet stand - until the end of the month. I am welcome to cancel that part of the order at any time in the meantime - they didn't quite use the words "if I get bored waiting" but came close - though I can probably hold out that long. It's not for me anyway, as you know, and Claire's managed for months without one - and it was a luxury I never had myself, though I didn't have two hazardous smaller sisters to worry about either... But if I find anyone doing one for the same or less money in the meantime I suppose I might take them up on their offer.

Hmm, found someone in London selling them cheap enough, though I e-mailed them to ask what the price would be including packaging and postage, and some time later they got back to me to proudly announce the price, less packaging and postage. That much I had gathered from the website... Oh well. If it's a couple of quid I'll probably go for it anyway, but why oh why can't they read?

The clarinet stand is now on order with someone quite different - and it's a better one at a cheaper price. Still to be confirmed, though. But to cap it all, the music stand arrived with a snapped off leg and is going to need urgent replacement. At least there's not much that can go wrong with the reeds...

Anyway, I'm supposed to be having a bath now, but thanks to all this I'm going to have to limit it to just having a shave I think. Grrr...

And then I clean forgot we were meeting for our house-group meal at 7.30 and not 8.00, so everything got ultra-rushed from then on. But at least the meal was good, and we had some useful discussions about the future of the group.

Going to go have my bath now instead!

Thank goodness it's Friday. I really could have done with a "duvet day" today, though. Still, only another seven hours to last...

Oh, and it's vaguely snowing this morning. Not enough to get excited about, though, alas, and with the sun shining it's not got a hope of settling. Maybe, just maybe, the gritting lorries out last night got it slightly right this time - unlike last year when they smothered the roads before a heatwave, then had run out by the time the snow really arrived, and Milton Keynes ground to a halt with about three quarters of a lane clear per dual carriageway...

My colleague Sam suggests I write a book about the trials and tribulations of buying a clarinet stand. Dawkes just phoned me to say they're out of stock too, but it turns out they do have stock of the model I originally wanted from Piedog, so I've changed my order to that and they say they'll ship today. So I've now e-mailed Piedog to ask them to cancel the clarinet stand from my order - as they offered anyway, yesterday - but now would be a really great time for them to mix up the two ongoing threads of discussion I'm having with them and for them to cancel the replacement music stand instead...

Well one entirely positive musical thing happened today, and that was that in this morning's post I received the v1.08 EPROM for my DarkStar sound module - and not a breakage in sight. I'm not sure exactly what bugs it was supposed to remedy, but Mark at Red Sound insisted that I needed it, and when it was a free upgrade I could hardly complain. The last time he'd send me a new EPROM, it was because I'd reported a bug, but this upgrade was completely beyond the call of duty.

Just as well it worked, because I think I probably knackered the v1.06 EPROM getting it out! Anyway, all's well, and I've also tried out the new sound set from their web site; it would have worked on v1.06 too, but this seemed an ideal opportunity to give it a whirl, especially since it also shipped on the new EPROM, but I couldn't remember offhand how to do a factory reset.

The only bad news in all this is that all subsequent versions of the EPROM - and I believe they are now up to v1.10 - are for a slightly improved hardware architecture so I think are fundamentally incompatible with my now somewhat veterate unit. I guess that's just the price I have to pay for having supported one of the very few remaining truly British electronic music products out there right from the start...

Knock knock! Who's there? Actually, this isn't a joke; it was Mr Postman with a parcel for me, astonishingly early for a Saturday - perhaps the Royal Mail are on a guilt trip after my recent scathing letter in the paper. Anyway, I was happily dragged out of bed to take delivery of the clarinet stand from Dawkes, which arrived less than a day after I'd ordered it, and sent by first class post rather than the expected parcel post. All in one piece too - or as much as it's supposed to be, anyway! - and it seems like good solid German engineering. So, what with that and yesterday's EPROM, my confidence in ordering musical bits and bobs is slowly being restored. Just a matter now of getting Piedog off their obese posteriors and replacing the box of broken junk currently sitting in the back of my car waiting for the courier to drop-kick me another, and my happiness will be complete in every way. Probably.

Not so chuffed being out of bed quite this early, but I can't have everything I guess. Fair bit to do today though, so should probably make the most of it...

Well that was a productive trip into town, which should mean I'm about a thousand pounds a year better off from now on. I popped into the Halifax to pay a fair bit of money in for the first time in a while, and was promptly asked if anyone had been "moaning at me" about the frankly pathetic returns I was getting on my savings. Well I had been planning to sort out where the best place for my money was, as well as finally tell them of my change of address, but the upshot was that I had a very useful meeting on the spot with one of their advisors, and now have opened an ISA and moved the remainder of my funds into something earning at least a fair rate of interest. So, between that and getting most of my hair shaved off just in time for this cold snap, it's been a pretty good morning all told!

And then the weekend went most odd, being talked at the last minute into driving down to Southampton for Ben and Sarah's first wedding anniversary bash. Now I may have lived in the city for two years, but it's changed beyond all recognition in the last decade or so, so I was mighty glad not only that Daisy and Tris put me up for the night, but that Tris biked it most of the way up the M3 to meet me and escort me in! Of course, we all had a bit of a mental block and forgot there were services at Winchester, which would have been somewhat less of a ride for Tris than Fleet, but one lives and learns...

As for the party, well I was never going to be the life and soul of it, though at least I'd perked up a bit since before I was encouraged to come down, so I certainly enjoyed it all in my own quiet way. 42THS, the bar they'd taken over for the night, was an ideal venue, relaxed and friendly, and easy walking distance from the Burger King too, thankfully! Ben's live show was splendid and went down well - much refined from the recording I'd heard of a previous performance - and was probably the highlight of the evening for me.

The smoke was getting to Daisy so we didn't stay too late, but crammed ourselves back into her car and adjourned to her lounge for a good old chin-wag before finding appropriate sofas, floor-space and so on sometime in the earlier small hours of the morning. Didn't sleep too brilliantly to be honest, but managed enough so as not to be too dead to the world come about ten o'clock. Yummy fry-up courtesy of Daisy, then time to hit the road home - no escort required - getting home a bit after one.

Sarah phoned, ironically just as I was approaching Fleet services, so I stopped there once again, to return her call. The upshot of that was that Sarah was bogged down in her studies and not feeling too well either, so I agreed to run Claire and Laura back home after church in the evening in return for a natter, so long as someone else would get them there to start with. I was playing in the band, so wasn't going to be much use earlier in the afternoon, and I also planned on getting a couple of hours of kip before doing so.

No such luck with the kip bit, but I still managed a relaxing afternoon mainly in the bath, church was amazingly trouble-free - apart from having to dash back home for a mains adapter - and not the least bit of argument from the girls, probably helped by having Claire's clarinet goodies in the boot of my car and likely to stay there in the event of any trouble! Not too late a night for anyone, of course, and despite a good night's sleep last night I'm still somewhat counting the cost of lack of sleep over the weekend - but I wouldn't have wanted to miss a moment of it, in the end!

Nodding off...

A red Thai chicken curry for lunch brought me back to my senses, though I really can't pretend to be over-lively today even so. Just had a couple of phone-calls from Piedog, though, and they're going to despatch the replacement music stand today, and arranged for me to collect it direct from the Citylink depot tomorrow morning rather than waste a day with them failing to deliver it to me at home. I'll believe it all when I see it, but here's hoping...

Almost time to go home... Tick tock tick tock tick tock tick tock.

Going to have a bath and go to bed, I reckon. Just try stopping me!

Hmm, gauntlet laid down...

"Stop! The bath is full of acid!"

Nice try, Tristan. Not even that would have stopped me, I don't think...

Though the fatal flaw is, of course, that I'm not spodding from bed now.

And now I've been otherwise side-tracked anyway... Life is so hard!

A bit sniffly this morning, but I'm pumping myself with vitamin C just in case, because I really could do without spending half of November in bed like I've done more often than not over the last few years. Even despite being happily sidetracked for a short while by Claire last night, I still managed a good night's sleep, though was up in good time this morning to collect the replacement music stand from Citylink and return the dud one. Phoning the depot before I left was as good as useless, with no way for them to confirm whether the package was there or not unless I could provide a consignment number, which was clearly not possible. However once there in person they very quickly sorted it all out for me, and all seems to be well with the replacement stand - packaged in about a mile of bubble-wrap and not one but two Citylink bags; no chances taken this time... Other Claire should be happy now, anyway! Oh, and the refund for the clarinet stand that Piedog didn't have in stock has now appeared on my on-line bank statement, so as far as I am concerned, this somewhat sorry chapter is now officially closed!

Think I'm going to call it a day a few minutes early once again. Slacker.

Or not, as the case may be, getting thwarted by more idiots determined to troll me to oblivion and beyond. I expect I'll get banned from Mono now, for daring to tell one of the system's ne'er-do-wrong darlings in no uncertain terms where she could get off, for somewhat blatantly being one such troll, par excellence.

Food time, I reckon. Mmmm, pizza.

Needless to say, Little Miss Ne'er-Do-Wrong went and cried to admin and I've been informally warned and so on. It's like at school when you would be deliberately goaded into punching someone on the nose, then it would be you who'd get hauled over the coals when Teacher only saw the fateful blow. Still, it's far from the first time anything like that's happened on Mono, is it? And probably not the last. At least admin seem to be growing wise to such things and are learning to act with a degree of restraint.

New day.

Ne me confundant illegitimi.

Please tell me, quickly, if I do.

Thank you.

Well if nothing else would cool me down, the ice on the car this morning did - at least in theory. Annoying though how easily the little dearies on their way to school can run their fingers along the windows and clear the frosting, yet how much elbow grease has to go into using the tools designed for the job...

The provocateuse is still hanging on in there, but I think I've managed to keep to my intentions and generally take the mickey out of the situation today. It mightn't be the end of it yet, but it's pretty clear now who's the problem.

The matter now appears to be closed - pending any other complaints to admin - but not before a little last-wordist dig from LMNDW, of course. Oh well. Not getting stressed over it anyway; as the admin said, it's simply not worth it.

Thankfully now enjoying a nice quiet and uneventful evening in, and planning on getting an earlyish night once I've had a bath and washed my hair. Originally I had been supposed to be going round to Sarah's for tea and to proof-read her latest assignment, but she's somewhat ill so not only was not feeling much like having visitors but also hadn't been able to do enough of her work for it to be worth looking at in any detail. So her daughter Claire will have to wait a little longer for her long-awaited music stand, but I'm sure that's no great hardship no matter how much of a drama might be made of it... As for Slough Claire - that sounds truly romantic; any better suggestions gladly accepted - well she's out for the evening anyway, juggling a hundred and one different responsibilities, so I'm not going to get to chat with her tonight I don't think, but I've been invited to send an e-mail if I like, so that'll give me something worthwhile to do while what little hair I have dries off!

I didn't quite get to bed by ten as planned, but it wasn't long after, and I managed a reasonably decent and settled night's sleep. This morning I finally dug out my diary, in order to at least vaguely document my plan of attack for Christmas. There's a fair bit coming up over the next month, and I could all too easily see myself forgetting something, double-booking an evening, or whatever. Highlights so far are no less than three curries - including our departmental lunch out - and the Vineyard Christmas ball. That three out of the four of those events involve Claire is especially good, and all the more reason to make sure I don't forget about any of them!

Urrgh, Open House tonight. Or strictly not Open House, since it's not an official gathering; just happens to involve the usual suspects at the usual time at the usual venue. And I'm supposed to be organising it. I'd rather sleep, but I suppose I ought to do my agreed duties. Don't even know how many people are going to be there; OK, I didn't ask for any replies to my e-mails earlier in the week, but might have been nice to have some idea who to expect.

Suppose I'd better be going, anyway. Bye for now, friends.

I really didn't want to go to the Open House gathering. I got in from work just after six and felt like death warmed up, and disinclined to do anything more with the day. A plate of pasta and so on helped a little, but it was still a struggle to make it along to Matt and Jill's - but I had to since I was organising it. But then, miraculously, everything panned out fine - thanks in no small part to prayer input, I know. There were only four of us, but we had a good chat, planned our programme for the rest of the year, and had time for a game of "Compatibility" - very weird, but good fun and most enlightening - to wrap the evening up in amusing style. Well, apart from chatting on-line with Claire for a good while afterwards before finally turning in a bit before midnight... Slightly annoying this morning, though, as I typed up the fruits of our programme planning last night into an e-mail to distribute to the rest of the group, when the power wobbled for a couple of seconds and I lost most of the message. Still, if they can't give us decent clean mains here, they'll just have to accept it if we waste paid time picking up the pieces...

Almost the weekend now, thank goodness. Need an early night tonight, though, because I've got to be up at some unearthly hour Saturday morning to go to a worship seminar and workshop in Putney by ten o'clock, and we're leaving Rich's at about eight. Still, at least this Sunday is a "day off", so I should be able to catch up on some quality sleep then!

And I suppose I ought to go shopping tonight since I'm not going to be home 'til late tomorrow evening. Really could do without this, though I suspect tomorrow's seminar thing will be very worthwhile. Couldn't decide which of the available workshops I most want to do, they all being for predictable things like guitar, keyboard, drums and so on, rather than Dave's bizarre hoover-type aardvark machine. Probably going to go to the backing vocals one though, since a) it's something I'd like to do more often, b) the issues are not entirely dissimilar to those of playing the "machine" and c) I can keep Rich company!

Got a headache that won't go away, and I think all my paracetamol is usefully at home. Yes, I could go to the shop and buy another packet, but it's horribly expensive there, and I really don't need to stockpile it! I really do think in principle that the best cure for a headache is an early night, though. Plus a couple of paracetamol for good measure! Just to make sure, like...

And, rest ... finally. Shopping done, phone calls made. Wine-glass in hand.

Bath and bed soon, I reckon.

Got a little while to relax and get this diary up to date, since my planned visit to Sarah's to proof-read her assignment has been put back a little while to give her time to get ready, and I can't say I'm too sorry about not being in too much of a rush this morning after such a long day out yesterday. Clean forgot about the Leonid meteors last night, but I'm pretty sure it was an overcast night anyway, so no big loss there I doubt.

The "Heart & Skill" worship seminar, hosted by the South West London Vineyard was good on balance, and I'm glad I went, even if it might not have entirely been what I was expecting. Rich drove the Beemer down, but we had a car-load, with Paul's friend Meyrick joining us, and I was mighty glad only to be doing the navigation by the time we left the M3 and headed in through London's tortuous suburban streets towards Richmond and on to Putney.

The programme was slightly different to that advertised, presumably due to too many people wanting to do more than one of the optional workshops, because we each ended up attending two rather than just the one. The other guys went to the electric guitar one in the morning, but I thought the worship-leading one would be quite useful and I think I probably made the right choice. We all went to the backing vocals one in the afternoon, though, which was interesting but not quite what we'd expected, and if we came away with one thing from that, it's that in every backing vocalist there's a frustrated worship leader...

No meals were provided, but once it was clear that our church had paid our registration fees, it didn't hurt so much having to pay slightly over the odds for eating out. We had a slightly late - thanks to heavy traffic in Putney - lunch in a river-side bar, most of us going for a cajun chicken ciabatta sandwich, which was pricy but gorgeous. Tea, in the slightly less rushed interval before the evening celebration service, ended up being at the local Nando's and hit the spot just perfectly.

The evening celebration itself was good, but somewhat on the long side after such a busy day, so we ducked out a little bit early, especially with an hour on the road ahead of us yet. We came back via the M4 for variety's sake, and by the time we'd arrived back at Richard and Shona's and had a cup of coffee, I think we were all fit to drop, and I certainly didn't last much longer.

Anyway, Mark's out of the bathroom and gone to church by the looks of things, so I'm going to go dive into the bath myself for a little while before toddling over to Sarah's as promised...

Just about survived the day, but certainly struggled at times. Paracetamol and swiftly to bed for me, methinks.

Oops, forgot about the paracetamol in the end, but didn't have much trouble getting to sleep anyway. Did wake a couple of times, I think, but overall, yes, a good night's sleep. But eight o'clock was way too early to have my peace shattered this morning, so I copped out and decided I'd have breakfast at work - and gained another half-hour in bed. Not that it helped much, but hey.

As for yesterday, well it was hardly plain sailing. Proof-reading and tidying the layout of Sarah's assignment was much harder than I'd expected it to be, and I know I still missed some mistakes because she spotted a couple while binding it up. I'd hoped it might take about an hour, before lunch, but it ended up taking most of the afternoon too, much to the consternation of the girls, obviously denied access to the computer. So more than a few frayed tempers around and about, and not much attention-seeking being satisfied - at least in a positive way - but eventually we got there, and Sarah seemed fairly happy with what she'd done, even if it's not everything it could have been.

I'd promised I would take them out for one meal yesterday, so we drove out to KFC at the Snowdome for tea, which seemed to go down well enough with all. Then as Sarah tried in vain to get Rachael ready for bed, I agreed to take Claire and Laura out for a little while, to see Shine playing what was - officially at least - their last ever UK gig, part of last night's Revive event at the Pitz. They took a little persuading in actual fact, which was really most odd, and needless to say it all ended in tears for one of them - and no prizes for guessing which, at least if you knew them. Still, at least they got to see Shine for the first and probably last time, if only for a quarter of an hour or so, but I sadly had no option but to take them home before the end.

No-one lasted too much longer after that, though.

So this morning... Well I've almost woken up, now I've been in work about an hour and a half, but I expect I'll be dozing off again by the afternoon. There's been a short flurry of mysterious text messages from "You Know Who", which I am promised will be properly explained later, and I also need to reply to an e-mail she sent last night trying to finalise arrangements for Friday evening. Yes, Friday evening... And who said I don't live for my weekends?! Don't know quite what's happening, but basically I'm going down to Burnham for a meal with YKW and her friend Jenny and others - and I think there might be a little bit of "sussing out" involved. I am advised that no recent boyfriend has passed the "Jenny test", but people seem strangely confident this time. Still, at least Jenny's not an ex CIA psychologist and doesn't have an antique polygraph in the basement. As far as I know!

And now I'm joyously writing a document I meant to do months ago, all about the wonders of quality testing simulation software. Because obviously I know a lot about both quality testing and simulation software, so I'm just the man for the job. Why they roped me in on this project in the first place is anyone's guess but I hope they're regretting it by now. Well at least I've put QA in their place in the document by basically saying there's stuff all they can do except check the software doesn't crash, and leave the clever stuff to the software designer and the academics. Mind you, I think they've probably given up hope of ever getting this document off me, so perhaps no-one will ever read it...

No-one asked for it, anyway. And thankfully this afternoon's scheduled two hour meeting about that project turned out to be closer to one hour, but it was still in a somewhat soporific office and I struggled to stay awake and yawn subtly. Still, it seems like the project's more or less over, with the next meeting perhaps being the last one, as we discuss how to brief the rest of the department on the wonderful new procedures we've been brainstorming over the last year or whatever it dragged out to be. Still, the afternoon was lifted by a nice chat with YKW - willing the week to pass by as much as I surely am - and getting a copy of a letter from a professor of chemistry at Exeter University, impressed by the S205 diagnostic test software I produced:

I particularly liked the quiz to check "readiness" for tackling S205, based on recall and ability to apply S103 or its equivalent.

He goes on to say, however:

I have to comment that I worked through both the chemistry and the maths self assessments in this disc quiz based on S103, and I believe it would be somewhat optimistic to regard 'A' level as quite up to this standard.

Though he admits it's not a serious issue, and was no reflection upon my programming itself, so I am vindicated!

Now just to get S204 knocked on the head and out of the door similarly...

Ooh, Ask Pizza tonight. Hope I'll be at least a little hungry by then!

Yes, I was, thankfully. And thirsty for a couple of pints at the Moon afterwards too!

Alexis wondered what I was going to ask the pizza, though, which was a fair comment. Definitely pepperoni - with olives, anchovies and chillies as well as the more usual stuff. And capers, mustn't forget the capers, oh no! Mmmm...

Could easily have had another, you know.

Hmm, Adam just popped in a little while ago with good and bad news. The good news is that our colleague Geoff - who's been on sabbatical for the last year - is coming back next Monday. The bad news is, of course, that he's apparently going to be shoe-horned into our office. Our office which we deliberately arranged to prevent such a thing happening. "Only for a couple of weeks, until On-line Applications move out", but we'll believe that when we see it...

False alarm, it now seems. Geoff is indeed returning - much to everyone's surprise - but Malcolm and Chris have offered him some desk-space that will be more convenient for the graphics and animation work he will be doing. Phew!

Oooh, finally managed to pay off my 92p credit card bill. I'd tried and failed to do so using Nat West's on-line banking because it was less than the minimum transaction - having spent ages setting it up, grr - but they were nice and helpful at the bank itself. The lady had to check I had an account with them first, though - it's a slightly odd set-up here, whereby although Nat West run the bank, they are supposed to offer services to everyone - since she said she would have to charge me a pound on top of the bill if I wasn't! Though she actually said afterwards she wouldn't have done, these things evidently being somewhat discretionary... No doubt MBNA will raise my credit limit again now.

Three more days at work til Friday evening, yay! Darren put me on the spot a bit last night, about what I want from all this. I'm trying to be cautiously pragmatic, but he wouldn't accept that for an answer. So the only answer I could really give was an unqualified "yes" to whether I wanted the obvious. And I suppose that is the truth for the moment, or I'd not be pursuing it, but what I really want is for us to have the best chance and for the outcome to be what is ultimately right for both of us and any other involved parties. Only God knows whether Claire and me are really made for each other, and it is our hope that he will reveal that intention despite the many difficulties we face! We've agreed not to go jumping to any quick conclusions, but to approach this all prayerfully and carefully, and I think we're doing all right so far...

Triumph so far today is fixing - or rather, working around - a slightly irksome problem that recently emerged with some software I wrote ages ago for S103. Will had been adapting "Electrons in atoms" for a new science course, and during QA testing of the new software, Mick had found it locked his machine solid at one point. Will thought it was just his software, but we subsequently found not only that my software also failed on Mick's machine, but that it displayed some highly spurious numbers too.

We popped down to see Caryn on the helpdesk this morning to ask if any students had reported problems with the S103 release, and there was nothing logged, but another problem had the advice to turn off graphics acceleration. We thought that was worth a try anyway, and lo and behold, the software no longer crashed and the numbers were generated correctly. So, Windows' graphics acceleration settings may affect the accuracy of calculations, be warned... Hmm.

Nothing else even remotely interesting has happened today though. Well, apart from getting some junk mail from the Royal Mail about what varieties of junk mail I'd like to receive - how about "none, individually addressed or not" as an option? - and almost being taken out by an evidently visually-impaired and cerebrally-deceased van-driver when I got to work this morning. Nothing else in the least bit exciting though.

Further non-excitement for the day was politely declining being a web-monkey for the rest of eternity, though with the possible sweetener of helping with a music technology course afterwards. Well yes, the second bit would be quite interesting, but it's not going to be launched until 2004, and it's not even been approved yet. There's not likely to be any real action for another year, by which time I'll probably have left. So, really nothing of consequence.

But now real excitement ... I'm going home.

And my how exciting that was, going home, cooking pasta, eating said pasta, drinking wine, having a bath, washing what little hair I have, hitting the net for a little while, and going to bed... But now the cycle starts all over again, back at work, though excitement today is that after a mere four months - I am told, I can't be bothered to work it out - in this new office, "they" have finally come to take away the computer junk the last occupants left us with. Also now passed the deadline for people to tell me if they want to go bowling next week or see Martyn Joseph the week after - those being two of the highlights on the informal Open House calendar I've planned - so need to sort out getting that all booked up properly today sometime. Oh, and I now have my directions to get down to Jenny's tomorrow evening for the long-awaited meal; Claire assures me she can find her way there "with her eyes shut" but I'm not keen to put that to the test, oddly enough.

Had a better look at that junk-mail from the Royal Mail yesterday evening. Needless to say, the questions it didn't include were things like:

Do I want to receive...


[ ]  [X]   Begging letters for miscellaneous charities I've never heard of,
           with or without a complimentary pen stolen from Argos?

[ ]  [X]   Letters offering me pre-approved credit cards which plainly aren't?

[ ]  [X]   Adverts for a myriad of dodgy curry and pizza delivery companies who
           have specific exclusions for my address?

[ ]  [X]   Letters offering me pre-approved credit cards which plainly aren't?

[ ]  [X]   Letters advising me I have already won a prize, when said prize is a
           cheap biro - probably also stolen from Argos?

[ ]  [X]   Letters offering me pre-approved credit cards which plainly aren't?

[ ]  [X]   Letters advising me I have already won a prize, when said prize is a
           modest discount off an over-priced holiday and I still have to pay
           for my own travel insurance and meals - at inflated rates of course?

[ ]  [X]   Letters offering me pre-approved credit cards which plainly aren't?

[ ]  [X]   Offers to mow my lawn, cut my hedges, trim my borders, tarmac my
           drive, sharpen my shears, or rifle through all my personal
           possessions once my back is turned for five seconds?

[ ]  [X]   Letters offering me pre-approved credit cards which plainly aren't?

[X]  [ ]   Letters really, honestly and truly written and addressed to me, or
           containing information that I have specifically requested, or
           containing real, hard, no-strings-attached, cash - not that the
           Royal Mail allow the latter of course?

I can dream though.

Martyn Joseph tickets duly booked. How refreshing to find a box office whose overloaded telephone system doesn't spew empty words about "my call being valuable" and all that nonsense, but instead takes my name and number. And then I am actually phoned back within an hour, at their cost. And then I'm only charged an 80p booking and postage fee for the entire order - rather than being clobbered a fiver or more for each, on top of each and every ticket's face value, as seems to be the industry standard practice these days...

Unlike last week, I actually wanted to go to our informal Open House gathering last night. However, just like last week, it was of course fine in the end. It was billed as a games evening at Alex's house, and oddly enough not only did we indeed play a few games, but at Alex's too. So no surprise there. Actually quite a decent sized crowd turned up for a change, better than I can remember us ever managing when the meetings were more formal up until a couple of weeks ago - but perhaps that's no surprise.

Yesterday, the dreaded league tables were published for schools' and education authorities' GCSE results, and much as I despise the concept of such statistics, I was of course pleased to see Buckinghamshire topping the charts. I was born and bred in the county, and was obviously therefore a product of its increasingly unusual - and some would say archaic, especially those who have not actually experienced it for themselves - schooling system.

Buckinghamshire is selective, one of only a tiny handful of authorities that has not gone over to comprehensive secondary education. It is true that in many cases, selection at 11+, 12+ or whatever age was a highly divisive policy, and it is no surprise that in this age of political correctness, equal opportunity for all and everything else, that most authorities have abandoned their systems of grammar, high and secondary modern schools. Yet Buckinghamshire hasn't, and on the face of it, their decision appears to have been vindicated once again - though mere GCSE results are no proof of anything, of course, except that the county's selection policy isn't an outright failure. Even the secondary modern school I would have gone to had I not gone to Aylesbury Grammar fared better in their GCSE results than most comprehensives elsewhere, and that cannot be accounted for solely by the standard of the intake.

The whole point with selection is that all children are not - contrary to the PC lobby - made equal, and although the 12+ examination may be a somewhat crude way of determining ability, putting children into a school where they can shine and achieve is a major boost for their esteem and education. Far better to be top of the form in a secondary modern - and have every chance of going on to great things elsewhere - than to languish in the middle range of a bland comprehensive that probably isn't even giving its special needs students - at both ends of the ability spectrum - the attention they need. Also far better to be top of the form in a secondary modern than to struggle in a grammar school - hence my derision of the concept of appealing undesirable selection results - though at least a pupil who's bottom of the form in the grammar school is more likely to be seen to need help than yet another comprehensive-schooled "nobody".

The result is that in every way, pupils have the potential to do better under selection, because they are positively and constructively challenged by their environment and will get far more targeted support as needed - and in Buckinghamshire at least, the attitude that secondary modern students are "lost causes" is thankfully history. Sure, in an ideal world, all that could be provided under one roof in the comprehensive system, but it fairly plainly isn't on the whole - for lack of funding, teacher motivation or whatever. Those issues need to be addressed, and then I might be happy to see Buckinghamshire finally turn its back on the successful system currently employed - though it is true that there would be a considerable degree of inertia - but until such time the authority continues to do the vast majority of its students a favour and demonstrates that the philosophy of selection is by no means without its merits and that it can even work in practice.

Aylesbury Grammar School wasn't perfect. There was quite a lot, in retrospect, that was wrong about it while I was there, but those were purely implementation details - and from what I gather from my neighbour who now teaches there, it's improved a lot over the last decade or so. So, let's not go throwing the baby out with the bathwater and condemning an evidently reasonable philosophy for the sake of a bad implementation. There's more than one way to skin a cat, and there's more than one way to educate a teenager, and let's not forget that.

And if you want to see the hypocritical dogma attached to the comprehensive philosophy, just come along to Milton Keynes sometime. An education authority where some schools will not allow entry to any student who has taken a selective examination, regardless of whether they have passed or failed - for want of better terms. One where a number of the schools are now operating back-door selection policies anyway, since they know they can't otherwise compete with the successful selection system just over the border to the south. One where, as we have already heard, many of the comprehensives fare worse than Buckinghamshire's secondary moderns. Positively speaking, though, the top two comprehensives here were, of course, Denbigh - which operates back-door selection - and St Pauls - a Roman Catholic school, and I have friends with children at both. Selection and religious schooling; two of the "villains" of modern education philosophy, that just happen to be producing the results, and, most importantly, providing good constructive learning environments for their pupils. All is not lost, after all, maybe...

I think that entry before last has bored everyone into not reading my diary any more. I shall have to put in more vaguely amusing things, I suspect.

Right, I've done what I was planning on doing this afternoon - namely knocking up a couple of websites for the S269 and S205 diagnostic test Java applets - so I think I'm going to head home and have a quick bath and hair-wash, before hitting the road down to Jenny's for this long-awaited curry with Claire et al! Well, whichever way I look at it, I get a "hot date", so it can't be bad...

Happy happy happy happy happy happy happy happy happy happy happy happy happy!

You get the idea yet?

Need sleep, though.

Happy sleep, of course.

And I still am! That must be a record - and one hopefully to be surpassed many times to come...

As you've probably guessed - if you've been paying even the least bit of attention - I passed Friday evening's long awaited "Jenny test", and as such we both pass into previously uncharted territory. Uncharted territory that means I am now to meet Claire's parents - possibly next weekend, but to be confirmed - and that others are already innocently enquiring about the timing of future possibilities... Not going to be drawn on the latter for the moment, needless to say!

So yes, Friday evening went rather well, even if I was too exhausted to play too great a part, and was quite happy just to sit back and decide which stories I ought to take too much notice of! I'm still not quite sure how much it was a pre-arranged gathering that I'd happened to be invited to, and how much it was specifically planned as a chance for others to meet me - there were four others in addition to Claire and the hosts - or if it was a bit of both, but hey!

I arrived a little before the others, which gave a good opportunity to get to know Jenny - and also meet her two kittens, awww - and relax a little after my slightly grotty journey. Then the house filled up, and the poppadoms emerged from the kitchen, followed closely by the take-away menu, and a little over an hour later by the delivery of seventy pounds worth of yummy curry. Jenny and Steve's daughters appeared mid-evening, and they also seemed to approve of me, apparently asking predictable questions the morning after...

We didn't finish horrendously late, though it was still gone midnight by the time we did the "goodbye formality bits" - yeah, right - and Claire still had an hour of note-comparison with Jenny to go; thankfully she was sleeping over, though. I only got as far as my parents' house, though - as I had been invited - but needless to say I didn't see Mum and Dad until Saturday morning. I stayed around for lunch and to help Dad resolve a few Photoshop confusions in the afternoon, before hitting the road back here - or, more accurately, to Sarah's for tea and a tired natter - late afternoon.

So I doubt anyone - in Milton Keynes or Burnham - had too late a night last night, and I certainly slept like a log! Planning on taking today fairly easy, though I do need to go shopping at some point or I won't have much to eat - or any cash - for the next week, and then there's church in the evening. Suits me fine, though; not sure what exactly could make me too unhappy right now!

New shoes! I'm sure Jenny's cat was only interested in my old ones on Friday because there were so many holes in them he thought there must be mice around!

Back at work today, and increasingly feeling like I'm "marking time" - and certainly would rather not be here anyway, even if I didn't have particular thoughts on my mind right now! Yesterday wasn't too bad, getting up late, going shopping - including getting those aforementioned new shoes - chatting on-line with Claire, going to church, running Sarah and the girls home, more chatting with Claire, and bed. Nine hours sleep. And still shattered. Seems like I've only just recovered from last week, and the new one's just started; the weekend's activities haven't helped in the least, but I wouldn't have wanted to miss a moment of it!

I take it all back. If having no junk mail whatsoever means missing out on gems such as that received yesterday, then perhaps I need to revise my choices.


[X]  [ ]   Offers for unprecedented and unique limited edition collections of
           porcelain plates, celebrating some of the most beautiful places in
           Springfield, Milton Keynes, such as the convenience store, old
           people's bungalows and the dive of a pub just along the road from me
           - at a mere ninety pounds plus shipping for the full set of six?

I quote from the blurb:

Many hours were spent in searching for the most beautiful places of Springfield. The artist's sense of detail and his refined drawing technique ensure a delightful result. An unprecedented collection showing the living heart of Springfield: its pride, its beauty and its tradition. A splendid asset to your home and to Springfield. It is a unique and valuable collection. Valuable because this once-only collector's item is issued in a strictly limited edition. Unique because you will not find it in the shops.

More like "unique because there's probably only about one fool likely to buy this hideous tat", I'd have thought. And we have a hunch who might...

Needless to say, Springfield was not singled out for this attention, and a quick Google search for the company involved revealed this interesting snippet, courtesy of the "This is Brighton & Hove" website:

There's a few snags with the six plates issued to mark the millennium which show images of East Grinstead.
One of the buildings depicted in the set by Decor Art Creations, the Bellaggio, was demolished in the Sixties. Charters Towers School is now home to a security company.
The company says the plates, with cups and saucers, have been designed to mark the 21st Century. But buying these dated images will not be everyone's cup of tea.

Oh, and this one, courtesy of the Daily Express:

But instead of the orders flooding in, there was not a single inquiry.
The reason, simply, was that the illustrations crafted on to the gold-rimmed plates bear little if any resemblance to the tiny community - and three of the buildings depicted do not even exist.
Moreton on Lugg has never had a pub or war memorial and the school closed down in the 1950s. The church has a tower instead of a spire and the cottage-style post office pictured on one of the plates could never be mistaken for the 1950s red-brick shop in the village centre.

Needless to say, over half the Google search results for the company producing this tat refer to cock-ups like that. Obviously highly recommendable!

Boring afternoon. Don't want to be here. Want to start a new life, I think!

All this talk of hugs and darlings and sweethearts and so on - how can I cope?!

Probably best not to, and just collapse into an emotional blubbering mess.

A really nice emotional blubbering mess, that is!

Bowling tonight, courtesy of Shona, Maria and friends! Let's just hope that for once I can be put on a lane with a fully working computer - that's to say, one that can actually count, and not think there's been a strike when there's plainly two or three pins still standing, generous though that may be...

Or was it the other round, so that you think you've got a strike, but it still thinks there's some pins standing, so doesn't re-rack the pins for you? That sounds more familiar, and more like cause for righteous annoyance.

I'm in tears right now. And not because I lost pretty horribly at the bowling. No, these are tears of happiness, believe me. Some things need sharing!

I did lose badly at the bowling, though. We had three lanes, and I lost substantially on my lane, and came second to last overall. Never mind, though; bowling is always good fun so long as everything works properly, and I still managed a couple of strikes and learnt a little technique in the process. And any bad aspects to it were quickly forgotten as soon as I got home and checked my e-mail, of course! Oh, Tristan's just asked exactly why I was crying last night, but I'm not going to, cos he called me a wuss.

And now I'm a "diary-neglecting wuss-wuss-wuss-wuss". OK, the reason I was happily crying was because someone was chopping onions in my room, and I like onions. Hmm, that wasn't terribly convincing, was it, Trissy bear?

Now I'm a "diary-shy truth-avoiding wussy-wuss-wuss-wuss". I guess I'll just have to come clean, won't I? Well it's not every evening someone close to me tells me I'm pretty much the most important thing in their life and that they are falling hopelessly in love with me. So, there you go, wuss no more...

Now, in the latest thrilling installment, I'm a "great big sentimental wuss". I simply can't win, can I? Still, it's not like I care now, is it? I love her and she loves me, and that's all that matters! Well, pretty much so anyway.

Certainly that matters to me now more than my job, my home, my free time and anything else that I might have to give up should things develop further - as looks increasingly likely. Not to say it wouldn't hurt, but it would be worth that pain. Though there are still hurdles to overcome, so even though I may well feel like I'm whittling the passing days into the edge of my desk, I doubt my mundane life is going to be disrupted too much in the immediate future.

Hmm, perhaps things might happen somewhat quicker than anticipated, though I think we're both keen to take things at a sensible pace, and not let anyone get carried away with their hopes for us just yet! Claire's certainly being a little cautious how much she tells certain people lest they start choosing their bridesmaid dresses right now, and others share the same sentiments with regards to certain other people.

We had a very interesting chat last night, though, thinking back almost a year to when we first made contact with each other, and what our motivations were at the time and so on. Seems a long time ago, and memories are all a little hazy, but even then I think we both knew this was something deeper than normal, and although we've had some rough patches over the months, we've been strengthened through them and I believe proven our vital underlying friendship in a way that others have miserably failed. I always believed that my perfect partner would emerge from sound and reliable friendship; Claire has certainly come up with the goods as far as that is concerned, and I hope I've successfully reciprocated in the unconditional support I've been able to offer in return.

But - as I said before, strenuously! - it's by no means done and dusted, so don't anyone go buying new suits quite yet. There are still hurdles to be overcome for both of us, but we're both trusting in God's purpose for our lives, so for the moment at least can cast our worries away and just enjoy each other's company. Bridges can only be crossed once you reach them, after all. The next such bridge should be reached in a week or so's time, but more on that when it happens, no doubt...

Oooh, three new regular readers this week who've deemed this diary one of their favourites! What is the world coming to? I am truly honoured, anyway!

Today's dragging, but there's a potentially interesting presentation by a couple of our colleagues in an hour's time, and I'm going to make a fairly prompt getaway afterwards before going out for tea with Sarah and co. Not sure what else this weekend will bring; I don't think I've got anything specific coming up, but you never know what I may have forgotten about, or what might be arranged at suitably short notice. Realistically, I don't think Burnham's going to be a destination this weekend - next weekend's "bridge to cross" has to be the next step, really - but stranger things have happened, I guess, so let's not rule anything out...

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