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David's diary: May 2003

I suppose I ought to go to work. Doing my bit for this wonderful democracy we live in can wait until this evening, if I can be bothered at all...

More bizarre weather today. I guess this is what April was supposed to have been like, instead of featuring one heatwave after another, punctuated by only the briefest disappearance of the sun behind a rare cloud. Anyway, I'll be off to lunch with David very soon, but I have just been reminded that our colleague Andy's retirement party this afternoon is scheduled to run for two hours, so I suspect it might be a good idea if I don't stuff myself too much right now!

The party started late, but neither Tim nor I felt inclined to walk all the way back to the office again for the sake of a few minutes, so sat outside the pavilion in the warm sun until we saw formalities beginning properly. Plenty of food and drink for everyone, indeed more than enough, including what I guess will be the last of Andy's famous cakes made for our consumption. He's done the honours every Christmas for many years, with an industrial-strength beater attached to his trusty Black & Decker, and his culinary contributions will be sorely missed. Today's cake reportedly contained a whole bottle of whisky - thankfully not in its bottle - which added to the already copious quantities of alcohol otherwise available this afternoon added to the suspicions this was all part of a plot by our former management to eliminate any hope of productivity on our part. The confirmation of that came in his farewell speech, in which he was somewhat blunt about the transition from the former Academic Computing Services to the new and all too frequently bureaucratically managed Learning & Teaching Solutions, the implications of which he holds primarily responsible for his taking early retirement. I guess you can say pretty much whatever you like when you're leaving anyway, although needless to say none of the current management cared enough to bother attending anyway! Andy has always been one of the quieter and more reclusive members of our group, but when he does have something to share, few would disagree that it's normally well worth listening to, and you could almost hear the collective whirring of minds as he shared some unpalatable truths about what has happened and what is probably to come.

But anyway, that wrote off most of the afternoon, and consequently it's pretty much time I was heading home, and thinking about which way to vote! OK, so the latter won't actually take a lot of thought. Only Labour and the Liberals have bothered leafleting homes in my area at all, and Labour's attitude since the Liberals took control of the local council has been pretty hypocritical, so no prizes for guessing who might well be getting my pencil mark this evening...

I did my democratic bit, but I have to say they really could have done with slightly better directions to the polling station. I wonder how many people will have missed out on their vote simply through not knowing the geography of this area properly. Sam's taken to postal voting in recent years, and I have to say I may well be tempted next time. A few years back, we did a trial for telephone voting, and it was a massive success - with one of the highest voter turn-outs ever seen - but sadly it's not been capitalised upon since. Perhaps the powers that be are scared of these innovations; I've certainly heard it suggested that introduction of new and more convenient methods trivialises politics, which basically means that "the wrong kind of people" will vote, and perhaps even disrupt the status quo in the ranks of power in this country.

Well the exciting news this morning for Milton Keynes is that ... there's no real news at all. If there were any gains or losses in yesterday's local elections, they were all cancelled out, so the Liberals keep control of the council as expected - and the UK Independence Party propped up the results in every ward in which they stood. I'd clean forgotten about the latter until I saw my ballot paper; considering their candidate lives on my close, it's a poor show that I didn't receive a single communication from them. Not that I'd have voted for them anyway, not believing in essentially single-issue politics.

As for today, well I've just had an email asking what's happening about the microprocessor simulation software, as if I've had a chance to look at it for the last few months. Yes, I guess it was about a month ago I said I would hope to have something to deliver in a month's time, which would take us to around about now, but that was assuming that the other course that's consumed all my available time would have delivered on their empty promises. I really do hope that I can concentrate on that now though, although there is other stuff that won't go away either that will surely continue to scupper any hope of progress.

Ah well, the microprocessor simulation course team seemed to accept that the delays aren't the fault of anyone on our side of the fence, and that I should be able to get back on the case "any time now". This is symptomatic of the folly of the new management structure here - or the "administrative structure" as Andy preferred to refer to it yesterday, given that it's not at all geared towards people nowadays. Jon used to be my line manager, but his rôle is now replaced by Lara, but Lara's not in charge of all the projects on which I am working, with this microprocessor thing being in Alison's portfolio. But Lara is still my project manager for that, even though she essentially knows nothing about it. Confused yet? But the academics don't seem to care about this at all, and still come direct to Jon and myself, sidestepping Lara and Alison as far as possible. Whether this is due to sensing the extra bureaucratic strata that have been introduced under this daft new regime, or because they've got even less of a clue what's going on than the rest of us, is unclear. But for people like me, it means that far from the new system providing centralised points of contact and increased efficiency, I have yet more people to answer to - all of whom seem from time to time to labour under the delusion that I am at their personal beck and call - and consequently even more likelihood of doing my head in on any given day. Just give me a moment while I gently scream, OK?

Still, the weekend is very nearly here - and it's another long one, so I can pack my troubles away for three hopefully pretty blissful days. I have no real plans as yet for tomorrow, but tonight I should be watching The Abyss chez Jam and Simon, and Sunday and Monday are fully booked up with Katy, happily to say!

And now the weekend is here, both effectively and technically, it having passed midnight and being the small hours of Saturday morning. Thankfully I have no great reason to be up particularly early in the morning "proper", so I might as well make sure I'm properly tired when I go to bed! The Abyss was all right; I remember watching at least some of it many years ago, but didn't remember much - if anything - of what happened. Spectacularly produced for its day, but in the end just a little tedious and you could almost smell the cheese sometimes. But it was a good social occasion, with ten of us there, so a perfectly good way to kick the weekend off. Now though, I can feel my tiredness catching up with me, so it's probably about time I was making the acquaintance of my bed...

Well I managed a modest lie-in this morning, and don't expect I'll be hurrying to get up properly given the lack of anything much on my schedule for the rest of the day. I bought a couple of DVDs at Tesco yesterday, so maybe one or the other of those might feature... Indeed, Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon seems to have just found its way into my DVD drive, which should account for the next couple of hours very nicely indeed. Bend it like Beckham can wait until Katy's round here next, since she was a little disappointed I didn't have it already!

Now to decide - Mandarin Chinese with subtitles, or dubbed English dialogue?

Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon has finished now, and was at least as good as I remembered it from when I saw it in the cinema several years ago now - at least once I'd switched over to the other DVD playing software I have, since PowerDVD made such an utter mess of the audio track. Yes, I went for the dubbed English version in the end, so I could degenerately watch it from bed without straining my eyes. OK, there are quite a few details of the plot I still don't entirely follow, but it is so spectacularly and beautifully filmed throughout it really doesn't matter. At the time of the film's cinema release I remember people complaining about the characters flying through the air, running up walls, fighting on impossibly thin branches and so on, but it all simply adds to the sheer atmosphere of a detached and alternate mystical reality that we in the materialistic west can never really hope to appreciate in its fullness.

I wasn't really planning on having a lot to eat today to be honest, especially since I'm likely to be getting a mum-cooked square meal tomorrow evening. But then I foolishly watched some of the special features from the Bend it like Beckham DVD, of course including the Who wants to cook Aloo Gobi? featurette, which finished me and I simply had to eat. OK, so a Dr Oetker's pizza with extra olives and sun-dried tomatoes had to do rather than a home-made curry using all the right ingredients, but never mind, it served the purpose...

Peace has again descended upon the neighbourhood. It's amazing just how much noise a four-year-old girl's birthday party can generate, but perhaps not quite so surprising how much of it seems to end in tears, especially with bigger boys - step-brothers-to-be, I got the impression - being typically boisterous. Lauren seemed to be standing her ground quite well though, and everything has quietened down again now. Only a few balloons seemed to find their way over my fence, although now it would appear to be finished, the wind's getting up again so I wouldn't be at all surprised if a small bouncy castle follows shortly...

This evening I made a pact with Katy that we would both get a bit of fresh air before the day was finished. And that did come to pass, with my "short stroll" ending up taking me to the lake, all the way round both halves of it, and back home again. Katy's was a little shorter but I am sure much healthier for not having had a mobile phone stuck to her ear for three quarters of it, but hey... Anyway, arrangements have all been made for tomorrow and Monday's adventure, so all I really need now is a good night's sleep, which that walk should certainly help me along the way to, especially after I've dunked myself in the bath!

Sunday morning, and I've got that happy "not even half way through the weekend" feeling I'd better not get too accustomed to given that after the next bank holiday it's not too likely to happen again until August. Well, unless I start working four-day weeks anyway as suggested - now, there's a pleasant thought!

Anyway, I'm being able to take the day gently so far, really just needing to get dressed, have a bit of brunch, do the washing up and pack the bare minimum of stuff for going away before I hit the road south. But I'd better keep track of the time though, 'cos it would be wise to get there before Katy really!

Of course, even if I started taking Fridays off, Sunday mornings would still be over half way through the weekend, but I think you knew what I meant!

But anyway, the second half of this weekend definitely surpassed the first! Much as I enjoy watching DVDs and going for healthy strolls round lakes on my own, meeting up with Katy at my parents' house was always going to beat that. OK, so I couldn't be 100% sure it would go smoothly, but I was pretty sure it should, and it certainly did - and Katy made an excellent impression with Mum and Dad, which although not the be-all-and-end-all, is very encouraging.

It was about an hour's drive for both of us, but we successfully met in the middle a little after three o'clock on Sunday afternoon. We went pretty much straight out for a short walk from near the top of Whiteleaf Cross, a favourite starting point for an afternoon stroll. We didn't exactly get lost, but we took a rather different kind of route to the one I would normally take, and found paths somewhat lacking in a few places so had to do a little bit of "exploring" now and then. But it was a lovely afternoon and we were quite happy to spend about as long again just sitting in the sun people-watching and enjoying the views out towards the Cotswolds before we drove back home.

As expected, Mum cooked a decent tea - char-grilled chicken pieces and lots of healthy vegetables, with blackcurrant cheesecake for dessert - and we passed the evening talking about this and that of such great consequence that I really cannot remember. But that was a good sign, indicative that I'm not the only person able to talk so easily and freely with Katy about pretty much anything! We didn't get too late a night, everyone being pretty tired after a long day, and I don't remember there being much of a rush to get up on Monday morning either - but isn't that at least partly what bank holidays are for..?

The bank holiday Monday promised to be a lousy day weather-wise, so we'd made no specific plans, but in the end it looked like it might be not too bad after all, so all four of us went out for a walk from near Chequers. I'd not been round there much at all, but Dad seemed to know the paths quite well and took us round what I would rate as some of the finest Chiltern scenery I've seen in my thirty-odd years - and with the weather ending up glorious, all the more picturesque in the little dry valleys there! Not much security evident at Chequers - I guess Tony's not there at the moment - but we made sure we smiled for his new CCTV cameras as we crossed his "front garden", and Dad recounted some of his previous encounters with armed policemen and Margaret Thatcher.

After the walk we drove on down to the Pink and Lily near Great Hampden - a pub my parents rate and one of my long-time favourites anyway - for a decidedly pleasant lunch. We weren't exactly sure what would be on offer - or how busy it would be - on a bank holiday Monday, but although it was packed out, the service was excellent, and the menu was fine too. Mum and Dad both had jacket potatoes with cheese and tuna, Katy had a ham ploughmans and I went for the chicken caesar salad. The pub's gone a little bit more upmarket than the last time I was there, but that's just the way things go these days, it would seem, and it was still excellent value compared with the nearby Hampden Arms...

Back we then drove to Mum and Dad's house for more general nattering, tea and coffee drinking, and the inevitable showing of the Embarrassing Photographs I Never Knew Existed. Actually, the latter weren't too bad; apparently my sister has the worst of them right now. The time sped past, Katy didn't want to leave too late, and there were a few things I needed to go through with Mum and Dad without Katy being around - nothing ominous, I hasten to add, just boring computer and financial matters - so Katy was on her way by the early evening, and definitely gave the impression of having had a good time during her stay.

I stayed a couple of hours longer to go through those things Mum and Dad needed me to, and to have a bite of tea before my journey back to Milton Keynes - and then I spied my neighbours so felt compelled to go and have a natter with them for a few minutes. Consequently I ended up leaving rather late, but made good progress driving home, so was still back here well before eleven. Quite why it then took me another two or three hours to make it to bed is anyone's guess...

Today was quite a good day at work, with spreadsheets for once not being the bane of my life but actually playing ball. Consequently I got quite a lot done and didn't feel too guilty about ducking out a few minutes early in order to visit Sarah for the evening. Sarah is going to visit her mum for a few days tomorrow - I've got to take her to the airport tomorrow afternoon - so was in the midst of getting ready and couldn't face cooking tea. McDonalds proved to be just fine though - although I'm having a bit of supper now - and Rachael was round at a new friend's house for tea, so it was just Sarah, Laura and me, which made a pleasant change. After doing a bit of shopping at Tesco it was time to collect Rachael, and happily the experiences between her and Laura of the last few weeks were not repeated. Yes, Rachael was just as naughty as ever in many ways, but with both she and Laura seemingly making a concerted effort to get on in a degree of peace it was a much less fraught evening than many, and both girls got themselves ready for and off to bed with as little fuss as could reasonably be expected. Sarah didn't want a late night herself, and I needed to catch up with Katy after the weekend's successful events, so I didn't stay much longer, and should now be thinking about bed myself really!

So much for getting to bed earlier last night, because I suffered about two hours of insomnia just when I would normally have been getting my best quality sleep. And then when I did finally get back to sleep, I had dreams that whilst not entirely unpleasant at the time hurt a bit too much on reflection, and then it was time to get up anyway... Thank goodness I'm only working a half day today, although I'm not exactly putting my feet up this afternoon, admittedly.

So I didn't rush into work this morning, but it gave me an opportunity to try and spot Mercury as it passed in front of the Sun, while I had my toast and Marmite. Of course, the Sun is far too bright to be able to see the planet directly - and it would be unsafe even to try - but using the old 40mm Tasco refractor telescope that my sister gave me for my birthday many many years ago to project on to some white paper I could see a clear black circle in front of the Sun. However, it wasn't quite where I was expecting to find Mercury, and then when I'd got the image better focussed I spotted a much tinier and slowly moving dot in a more likely position, and a quick check on the web confirmed that the first object was just an unusually well-defined sunspot! So mission accomplished, though it was nowhere near spectacular or clear enough to even try and get any photographs - and my camera's batteries were flat anyway.

Here at work, this morning I've had what may well be one of the last production meetings for the course with the software I recently finally handed over. The rest of the course in question is still in chaos, with the course team chair becoming increasingly defensive and blaming anyone he can without naming them personally. I cannot overemphasise quite how glad I am that my involvement with this course should just about be done with - at least for a few months, by which time it may be clearer what changes, if any, they want for next year's presentation. I pity the 500-odd poor students signed up for it, I really do.

But I'm disappearing off home shortly, in order to take Sarah to Luton airport later this afternoon. Her flight to Aberdeen isn't until something like 6.30, but for some reason they require her to check in two hours in advance, which seems a bit ridiculous for what can't be much more than an hour in the air. I didn't have to take the whole afternoon off really, but I decided I might as well, given the amount of outstanding leave entitlement I have. I've also just agreed with Lara - as pondered for some time - to go over to a four-day week, with immediate effect, for the same basic reason, at least on a trial basis.

Anyway, it's about time I was heading home, 'cos I'm a bit hungry now!

Definitely not a relaxing afternoon! Spent mowing the lawn, helping Sarah put the finishing touches to her preparations for going away - including finding her ID card so she could check in at the airport, thanks to EasyJet's annoying "no tickets" policy! - and eventually driving to Luton and back again. I had a go at clearing the undergrowth that is increasingly encroaching on the parking spaces opposite these flats, but I think it will need secateurs to really make inroads, so I didn't get too far with that really. Consequently, I think I've done just about everything I plan for today, other than phoning Katy and going to Open House this evening, back at Jam and Si's after last week's "excursion" to Di's. Hopefully we can finish in good time once again, because I still have quite a lot of sleep to catch up with after the last couple of nights!

Oops, it's gone midnight, but I will be off to bed imminently, honest! Tonight has been pretty good though, with the highlights of Open House being Si giving his long-awaited testimony, and Rita becoming a Christian after many years on the fringe of things. Oh, and I played alongside Rich in the worship, and donated - or, rather, indefinitely loaned - one of my old synthesiser modules, which should be a little more practical for our keyboardists in the future. We finished in fair time but I take full responsibility for still not getting away particularly early, but then I got stuck at the level crossing at Fenny, with a very long goods train doing slow manoeuvres for about ten minutes, and the drunks returning from the pub on their bikes getting impatient and abusive.

But now I really must call it a day and hope and pray for a good night's sleep!

Thankfully I did indeed sleep much better last night. Far from perfect, but at no point was I lying awake for more than a couple of minutes, I don't think, and I actually managed to get up at eight o'clock, unusually. Made the most of the "extra" time by having a bath before breakfast, so needless to say I wasn't much earlier than usual arriving at work. Oh yes, work... It's actually much improved, happily to say, even though spreadsheets continue to be a major part of my workload, and I am sure will continue to be until the entire Technology faculty is sacked, which will obviously never happen. The spreadsheets that had been presenting so many problems with regard to working - or, rather, not working - in Excel XP, are finally behaving themselves and I have been able to contact the academic concerned to let him know the unusually good news. But the best bit of news today was that I got a letter from the Rights department confirming that they're sending me a nice fat cheque for going out and taking photographs the other day. OK, so I'll be splitting the sum equally with Tim, since he was my "model" for the shoot, supplied props and did the driving, but it's still worth about a day's pay for each of us - easy money, if ever there was! Ironically, Tim has sold the bike that we photographed - sneakily using the photograph in question in his advertisement on our intranet site - but will be making just as much money from that shot as he did from the actual sale!

So far so good, today - at least as far as having a relaxing time is concerned, anyway. Yes, I do feel a bit guilty that Katy's been at work while I have been generally putting my feet up and doing precious little, but she's already had a holiday abroad this year, with another one booked! But I have ventured out, if only as far as the pavement outside, to help the girl next door's boyfriend fit new windscreen wipers to his car, remembering how fiddly they were when I had to do the same a couple of months back. Oh, and I will be going out to do my shopping sometime, but you really don't want to hear about Tesco again, do you?

Tesco bit done, on foot for healthiness's sake, and popping in to see David on the way to pick up my Edward II CDs he'd borrowed and listen to the compilation he'd put together. Chatted on the phone with Katy before I went out, and Mum upon my return, and will be heading for bed very soon at this rate!

A quiet diary at a weekend can only mean one thing - and that's a busy weekend! Not that I can remember a great deal about yesterday to be honest, but today's been pretty good. After church in the morning, a load of us met up for lunch at a rather unexceptional looking Chinese restaurant near the station, which - needless to say - turned out to be utterly splendid, both in terms of the food and the company. I had tea back at Martin's and then I had my arm twisted to go to what will probably be the last ever Revive youth event at The Pitz. Well in the end I was glad to go, with a thoroughly excellent evening in the company of Nicki Rogers and thebandwithnoname as well as the regulars. Hot and sweaty though, so I was quite glad to get out and go home, but top notch stuff, and I might even see about getting hold of the latter act's CD sometime... Oh, and of course I found a few spare minutes to phone Katy, but we shall have to catch up better later in the week. For now though, it's time I was thinking about bed!

Not sure if it feels like I've just had a three day weekend, but then yesterday evening in particular was pretty busy so maybe that's no surprise - and I have to say I had a poor night's sleep, which did nothing for my readiness for work this morning. Thankfully today's Monday Morning Meeting was mercifully quick, and I wasn't the only one there yet to get their brain into gear by any means!

This morning before I left for work, the postman called to deliver a load more bills and a big parcel from Amazon - and my temptation got the better of me so I did open the latter. In it - courtesy of a handful of my unexpectedly earned Orange Equity points - was a shiny Microsoft optical mouse, the DVD of Minority Report, and Röyksopp's Melody A.M. CD. I just had to try plugging in the new mouse straight away, and it seems to work perfectly fine, though the very light action wheel will take some getting used to. Minority Report can wait until I've finished watching Apocalypse Now again, but the Röyksopp CD has helped pass the dull hours at work today rather pleasantly. I'd heard - and somewhat enjoyed - a number of tracks off the CD when visiting various people with Katy over the last few weeks, but never quite listened to it all the way through.

Anyway, I've probably got a quietish evening coming up, with Katy out for most of it, but hopefully we'll get a chance to catch up with each other at some point either before she goes out or after she gets back, because yesterday we really did just have to make the most of the most fleeting moments! But next weekend we can hopefully make up for that properly, which reminds me, I really must remember to email a few people to make sure that plan comes to fruition!

But now everything's in disarray, and I feel sick. There are some people who when they phone you just know something must be wrong. Not that in this case I am directly affected, but via complex causal chains it's still managing to get me down. And I'd almost feel worse if it didn't, in a strange kind of way, so I'm in a no-win situation - but nothing compared with what others involved are facing, and I must never forget that for a moment. Selfishly, I want to make arrangements for my forthcoming birthday, but that almost seems an irrelevance.

I do like my new mouse though, and am getting used to the wheel. The idea of a mouse that should never need cleaning is one that many would find appealing...

Apocalypse Now made a lot more sense on a second viewing - or perhaps a lot less sense, depending on quite how you look at it all. It's late now though, and I need my beauty sleep, so I'm off to bed as soon as I've written this and cleaned my teeth. Thankfully a little of what was troubling me most directly earlier has been resolved - well, hopefully - but there's still a lot more in question that will be worthy of considerable prayer over the days to come.

Katy is hopefully coming up this weekend for my birthday, and I have been able to arrange accommodation for her amidst all this, but I sense that I might be somewhat preoccupied and won't have all the people around me that I'd like. I guess it's little things like that which can get to me the most. I despise my birthday with every passing year, but for once there seems to be a point to it, for it to be something I can actually plan and look forward to, but I can't help but feel that any celebration will be fake when there's such pain about.

Hey ho, goodnight all.

Much better this morning for a good night's sleep. Still would like to be sure that what I hope was eventually sorted out last night really was - not that it directly affects me, apart from by making me feel rather lousy while it's still somewhat uncertain. Perhaps I should just stop worrying, but that's not always easy. Why do some people go quiet when you need to hear from them the most?

Still no confirmation that things are happening this evening as planned, but so long as it's resolved by about nine o'clock - when either myself or Martin will be needing to get ready to go to Luton - that needn't matter too much. Today has been an OK-ish day of meetings, a little productive spreadsheet mangling and a few other odds and ends. The main upshot of the last meeting was that I will be able to concentrate on the microprocessor simulation stuff now for a couple of weeks, and that if anyone else wants to make demands of my time they had better do so via Lara. Oh, and we had a jolly decent thunderstorm this afternoon - the kind you would rather happened when it was dark so you could really appreciate the splendour - but it was very good nonetheless, and was accompanied by one of the best hailstorms I can remember. Pity about all the leaky roofs in the university, with miscellaneous buckets and other containers catching water flooding through the ceilings as I walked round to see Lara, but I guess when we're building new offices and buying the De Montfort campus next door, little things like maintenance for existing buildings have to suffer.

Thankfully I was spared having to do the Luton run, with Martin happily going as originally planned, though that was looking in doubt last night for various reasons. Hopefully that's all over with now, anyway, but I'm sure I'll hear the full story in due course. Particularly glad not to have had to go this evening since I've got to drive to Luton tomorrow evening anyway, but more on that this time tomorrow I dare say! This evening, then, I've been able to put my feet up for a couple of hours and watch my new Minority Report DVD, which was possibly even better than I remembered it from the cinema, with the ending seeming somehow not quite so sentimental - though only just, admittedly...

Oh, and of course I had no less than two pretty good natters with Katy, making up fairly well for the last couple of days, though tomorrow's going to be a bit hectic again... Anyway, better head for bed before I turn into a pumpkin.

Today's been OK - a bit slow, but I seem to be making some headway with this microprocessor simulation once again. Earlier, returning to this code after so long was making my eyes glaze over - made still worse by the fact that when I was last working on it intensively, I got about half way through documenting it, and of course it's the other half I'm having to work on now... Yes, I know software documentation is something you should do as you go along, but then you should also be doing regular system backups, eating five portions of fruit and vegetables every day, getting eight hours' sleep a night and flossing after every meal, right? But I seem to be getting somewhere now anyway - well, in as much as it compiles and runs without throwing any exceptions, which considering that I've just changed quite a major part of the architecture is no mean feat.

But it's almost time to go home, and grab a bite to eat before I leave to pick up Lucy and Annette before we drive down to Luton for a talk by Philip Yancey - one of the reasons I wasn't too keen on doing the Luton run last night. There are a couple of "support" acts this evening, including Nicki Rogers, formerly of Shine - who you will recall I was webmaster for - though I saw her perform at Revive on Sunday evening so I know pretty much what to expect. But Philip Yancey is quite an acclaimed Christian writer, is only over on this side of the pond for a few days, and I gather is well worth going to listen to while I can! It looks very likely that I won't get much if any opportunity to talk with Katy tonight, but things are slowly taking shape for the weekend now, so we should get a chance to make up for that before too long... Very much hope so, anyway!

Last night's Evening with Philip Yancey was very good, but by the time I had driven home and dropped off Lucy and Annette, it was pretty late, so you've had to wait until today for the write-up! Well, of course a certain special person has already had a bit of a sneak preview, but that's priorities for you...

Anyway, we left Lucy's flat at about 6.30 as planned, and I did the driving as I had anticipated, especially since Annette was borrowing a friend's car, and a left hand drive one at that. It was as well that we left as early as we did, getting to the venue in Stopsley, just outside Luton, with about ten minutes to spare by the time we had found one of the few remaining parking spaces. Jam and Simon say they got to the hall about two minutes after the event started, and had probably left after seven, so I don't want to think about the maths.

The event was in two halves, but rather than the fist half being the "support act" and the "main feature" being in the second half, the three main elements were interwoven throughout the evening, which worked rather well. So the show kicked off with Nicki doing a couple of songs, playing live rather than singing along to a backing track - much better, in my opinion - and then going into Dave Pope's interview with Philip Yancey. When some of us nipped out to get something to drink during the interval, Simon complained that it was all rather staged, but there wasn't any other way it could have been done really, and I thought it worked quite well, all things considered. The interview, mainly about Philip's writing, was interspersed with more from Nicki and a number of generally very funny sketches by the Saltmine Theatre Company. The second half still had a mixture of things, but was primarily a talk by Philip on his main pet topic of grace, and everyone I spoke to agreed it was really encouraging.

We didn't rush away afterwards, but instead succumbed to the lure of the book stall, and then that of the queue for signings by Philip, though thankfully the latter wasn't too long compared with that at some events I have been to in recent times... But then it really was time to head back home, and all could reflect on an altogether splendid and decidedly thought provoking evening!

It's being a slow Friday off work so far. I woke up this morning at gone nine to the pitter-patter of rain outside, so was quite happy not to have made the effort to get up any earlier to see the lunar eclipse. After all, I saw the last good one, at a much more civilised time of night, and had the pleasure of observing it through the esteemed Barrie Jones's binoculars. Having had a nice long hot bath and read a couple more chapters of What's so amazing about grace? it's about time I was getting on with making the most of the day! I need to tidy this place up in advance of tomorrow; I still don't know exactly what's happening but it looks likely to involve just Katy and myself, which will suit us both just fine as it happens. For one of the first times in recent years I was getting quite excited about throwing at least a modest birthday party, but the more I think about it now, the more I realise I'll probably appreciate a relatively quiet day instead. After all, Katy and I fully intend to go along to café church on Sunday morning, so will no doubt catch up with a fair number of my friends there, and maybe even drag some out for lunch someplace! Two cards arrived in this morning's post, but I am being a good boy and not opening them until tomorrow even though I know full well who they are both from.

Bathroom cleaned and tidied and washing-up done, now to clear general clobber from the main room and give the whole place a jolly good hoovering!

This flat is now spick and span, or at least as spick and span as it's going to get - this side of eternity in any case! Actually, I still have the hoovering to do, but that can wait until tomorrow morning. For the benefit of David I won't say where I went to do my weekly grocery shopping this evening, but I will end this entry with a thoroughly gratuitous exclamation mark. Like this!

Late night last night in the end, by the time I'd phoned my mum - back from her holiday a day early thanks to the lousy weather yesterday - and watched Total Recall on DVD, which I'd picked up for a paltry eight quid at The Supermarket That Shall Not Be Named But That I Use Rather Frequently. So it actually meant I saw my birthday in at the wrong end of the day yesterday, but I decided to keep with the spirit of things and not open my cards until today "proper". And in fact I still haven't, but having hoovered the flat as planned, I daresay that might be the next item on my agenda, especially now there's three of them!

Ooh, what a jolly good day today has been - as largely unwanted birthdays go... Too late now to go into any great detail, especially since I now need to be up in reasonably good time tomorrow, but all in due course I am quite certain!

It's Sunday evening - though it feels like about half way through the night - and Katy's safely home. It's hardly been the perfect weekend, but we did our very best to salvage it, and it certainly didn't turn out bad by any means!

Yesterday was of course my birthday, and Katy arrived in time to go out for a celebratory lunch. My vague ideas of a birthday barbecue came to nothing in the end, but we were quite happy to play things a little more low key, and with some other things preoccupying me somewhat perhaps that was just as well. So off to the Caldecotte Arms we drove, but took in a circuit of the southern lake there first to work up an appetite, and a similar circuit of the northern lake afterwards in order to vindicate our feasting! We adjourned to my flat to watch my Bend it like Beckham DVD, which I'd bought a couple of weeks ago but was saving for Katy's next visit, then partook of a pikelet and caterpillar cake tea before going round to Margaret's for the evening with a nice bottle of wine and the remnants of the aforementioned cake! Everyone was quite tired, and Katy was staying over at Margaret's, so we didn't get too late a night.

I didn't sleep well, and that lack of sleep has just caught up with me this evening, undoubtedly contributing to my feeling that it's so much later than it really is; hopefully I can do somewhat better tonight, soon! But anyway, this morning was hectic, with Sarah going off to Scotland again, and her children to deposit with various people who had kindly volunteered to look after them for the few days she hopes to be away. So I collected Katy from Margaret's house and then drove to pick up Sarah, Laura and Rachael, dropped off Laura at her friend's house, Sarah at the railway station, and then Rachael at café church - or, rather, with the lady who's looking after her for at least the first couple of nights of Sarah's absence. Café church itself was low on numbers, but there was a good bunch there and Katy had plenty of new people to acquaint herself with before we finally packed Rachael off - with strict instructions to behave - and headed out in the pouring rain to the Sunday buffet at the Jaipur.

It was still decidedly damp afterwards, but we needed to work off some of that splendid curry so decided we'd brave it around Furzton Lake, but I can assure you we didn't dawdle. Finally, back here to watch Lilo & Stitch - part of my birthday "haul", also including Gladiator and the first two Harry Potter books - which was actually much better than I might have imagined, though I really should trust Katy's judgement, shouldn't I?! But anyway, having returned my sofa and monitor to their customary positions, Katy decided she ought to brave the weather and head home, but it was a jolly good weekend altogether!

But now... It all seems such a long time ago. Like it never happened, but with only the various artifacts lying around to prove the contrary. Perhaps it was talking on the phone to Margaret a little while ago that did it - with all due respect to Margaret of course! - but I can only feel myself sinking now.

Artifacts. Cards. DVDs. A caterpillar cake's "head". Harry Potter books. But then some. A diamond ring. A silver photo frame. And contents. More photos. And more. Why are there times that I can't help looking backwards?

I need another glass of wine. Or do I?

Hey, there's no longer a caterpillar cake's "head", and I feel better for that - though at this time of night, I'm not sure what it'll do for my sleep...

Apart from waking up at about eleven o'clock - yes, eleven o'clock! - for a drink of water, I actually slept like a log. I hardly feel raring to go this morning, though definitely feel much better than I did this time last night. But go I must, because today's Monday Morning Meeting promises to be a slightly different one to normal. Oh, and I didn't have that last glass of wine last night after all - now there's a bit of self restraint for you, eh?

Today's OK, just a pretty typical Monday really. The weekend just gone doesn't feel quite so long ago now, and I can still bathe in a degree of bliss from all that. The Monday Morning Meeting actually ended up being about the same as it normally is, i.e. an opportunity for each of our loose team to share for a few minutes on anything of relevance or interest to the group. We were supposed also to have been having a bit of a discussion about the "new" systems in place in our department, but a few of our team are on leave at the moment so we've decided to postpone that for a fortnight. Other than that, well the morning's happily whizzed past, and the afternoon doesn't look like it's going to do anything much different, thankfully. Sam, Tim and I got out for a lunchtime stroll, so that's three days on the trot I've been for walks with friends, but obviously the company on Saturday and Sunday was a little different!

After a rather tedious meeting this afternoon, I'm not going to get a lot more done before I go home, I doubt, so I might as well take a few minutes out to pen a few words for this ever-lengthening tome. The day's been generally quite good, making a lot of progress with the microprocessor simulation stuff in particular, so it rather broke my stride to have to go to this meeting that's just finished, which generally told us nothing much new about the technology media team. Put it this way, I'd rather have been programming, and I am quite tempted to get a t-shirt made up for the next one, just to underline the point.

There is some somewhat less happy news today, though I'd probably better not go into too much detail at this point since I'm not sure how public it is yet, but hopefully for those most directly concerned it can mark the end of a particular lengthy, sad and stressful chapter, and herald the beginning of new and better times. There are still quite a few practicalities to be resolved before that can really be the case, but here's hoping anyway, and I'm doing just about everything I can to help make the current transition a smooth process, whilst making sure piecing together my own life and future doesn't get neglected!

Not too fraught an evening, contrary to expectations. After the death of her mum last night, Sarah returned from Scotland today but is going back again tomorrow with the children for the funeral and to support the rest of the family up there. We went out for tea at McDonalds this evening, during which time I unwisely volunteered to take them as far as Peterborough tomorrow morning in order to pick up Claire before they continue their journey on the train. I should go to bed now, but I'm kind of hoping Katy might still phone after she returns from an evening out with a friend, but I suspect she might think it's a little bit late to ring now, so perhaps I'll prepare for bed.

Now back at work after my impromptu morning off, which I will assume - from the lack of any emails complaining - didn't cause any great concern. The drive up to Peterborough was straightforward enough, at least after we'd got off the A421 down to where we crossed the M1 at Junction 13, but it's always hit or miss whether that will be better or worse than getting on the motorway briefly at Junction 14 instead. So I dropped Sarah, Laura and Rachael off in good time at the station in Peterborough, where they were shortly to be joined by Claire, before their train - direct to Aberdeen, thankfully, so they could all go back to sleep if need be! - was to leave in about half an hour, which I assume it did. I stopped at an overpriced Burger King just outside Bedford for an early lunch, and got into work about half an hour earlier than I'd anticipated. Just catching up on my emails, diary and so on, then back to the Java programming!

Was shattered last night - as I still am - but made it along to Open House anyway. Thankfully we did not go over time for once, and there was a good opportunity for Margaret and me to pray for Sarah's situation at the moment. Had another fairly good day at work today, making my Java code a little bit more sane than it was last time yesterday, but I'm very glad to be taking tomorrow off work as has become customary - and I needn't feel guilty about Katy not being able to do so this time, because all being well, she is!

Oh, and I celebrated my birthday again today - at least for the benefit of my colleagues. I'd popped into Tesco - oops, said it - on Tuesday night to get some cakes, which were happily gobbled up this morning. Most popular choice was the carrot cake, a little unexpectedly, with Roger from QA finishing the last of the lemon cake, which proved to be slightly less favoured than the very sticky chocolate fudge brownie. All very yummy though, and I had to make sure I carried out a responsible amount of quality assurance of my own, needless to say. Anyway, despite my day off tomorrow - for which I haven't a whole lot planned - I really could use an early night tonight, so goodnight all! Oh, and especially to Jo, in case she's still reading this, having earlier asked for the web address and having already made some genuinely encouraging comments...

So far so good with my day off, as far as getting up late and taking it easy is concerned! However there are a few things I'd like to get done today, so I'd better be being a little less degenerate now and actually get up properly!

And lo, about four hours later, I've had a pretty productive day so far. I'm currently sat at Sarah's computer adding this diary entry, having thoroughly purged it of all known spyware and got her email working again. I'm still not quite sure what had caused the latter, but it was something that the AVG virus scanner didn't like in the inbox and that seems to have resolved itself now. Also attacked her front and back gardens with the strimmer and lawnmower, and they're looking a lot less of a disgrace than they did, although it's perhaps as well that the girls in particular aren't around right now given the amount of their idly-strewn junk uncovered by cutting back the grass and weeds. Oh, and before coming round here, I made a long overdue visit to the doctor to register since I moved house last year, and everything seems to be in order in that regard, though I must return in a week for the routine check-up they like to give all new patients - and I'll need to fill my little bottle of course!

Anyway, it's probably time to head home now, and do some web work for Gareth, now he's provided me with just about everything I need in order to do so. One act has got to be removed from his site altogether, and there's two new acts I have very nearly complete information for, so can probably add them apart from their menu entry and just hope I get the remaining information I need soon...

Obsolete act deleted, one new act added - I did have all the information after all - and one still to come, once Gareth's provided me with the goods. And of course, all to be seen at http://www.topdogpromotions.co.uk, with Steve being the latest "signing". Just devoured a chicken jalfrezi, and now contemplating setting the phone lines burning even more than they already are, though I must remember to go to That Supermarket In Kingston before the evening's up...

Right, I've phoned Katy and made arrangements for tomorrow at least, I've had my supper, and at this astonishingly early hour intend now to soak in my second bath of the day - gardening does that - and head for another early bedtime!

It's now Saturday morning, and I didn't manage much of a lie-in, but am making up for that with a gentle enough start to the day instead. Had a good natter - just a social chat, for once - with Margaret already though, and will soon have a bite of breakfast and go and crash into the bath for a while. I need to get a few things together for later, but that shouldn't take too long really.

And having done all that apart from the "getting a few things together" bit, it's now about an hour and a half until I have to leave. No, I really don't have that much to get together, and I really can do it in the time available!

But I ought to get cracking anyway, especially since some things may turn out to be a little more time-consuming than anticipated - such as deciding which aftershave to wear, and which contribution(s) from my cellar to take with me...

I'm home... but if I don't go to bed immediately I might just keel over on to the keyboard instead and that simply would not d7yu6hh5645r89hjyu

So, le weekend... It's a bit of a haze already, though that's just my poor memory and being back at work for you, not because we crammed so much in that I didn't have time to remember what it was we were doing - been there, done that, got everything bar the t-shirt. However I will try - but not too exhaustively, if only for the sake of my loyal readers who I would rather keep that way!

Drove down to Farnham on Saturday afternoon, enjoying a good clear run, apart from a downpour on the M3 that was about as bad as I can remember driving in, wipers on full speed and still just hoping that all the traffic in front knew where it was going. But I arrived at 5.30 as planned, and we popped straight round to Katy's mum and dad to drop off my stuff and collect a key. After that we prepared and tucked into a very generous helping of chicken fajitas - the first part, in that regard, of a gastronomically somewhat indulgent weekend, though generally pretty healthy throughout we would maintain. The rest of the evening was spent watching the first part of the Eurovision Song Contest, and then Patriot Games. Thanks to the cricket overrunning earlier, the latter was delayed by a quarter of an hour, so we had the dubious pleasure of witnessing the United Kingdom's dire performance at the former. Politics may well have been a factor in Jemini's "nul points" outcome, but above all it was a bad song performed atrociously; even our staunchest allies couldn't bring themselves to offer any points to what would have been pretty dire as a pub karaoke act. The film was good though, if a little far-fetched in places, and didn't present London or the IRA with undue sentimentality; it certainly passed the time and saved us having to go out to the video shop for anything else to watch!

Sunday morning, up bright and reasonably early for church just along the road from Katy, which was a generally quite relaxed affair, mainly worship and ministry rather than preaching. The drums did my slight ear-ache not a lot of good, and Mike had a bit of a Jemini moment - hitting completely the wrong key, that is - at the start of one song, but it was otherwise pretty much fine, and a good chance to catch up with a good many of those I'd been introduced to last time I was down on a Sunday morning and of course meet a few new people. Into town for a light lunch at a café - one of the few establishments open on Sunday - before a short walk by the river and then going to visit Katy's grandmother at her new flat nearby. The afternoon whizzed past generally, and it was time to go round to Katy's parents for tea, a yummy chicken and mushroom casserole with rice. Katy's little nephew Daniel was staying while his mummy and daddy took a well-earned weekend break, and provided quite a distraction during the evening, though it did mean Disney's Fantasia had to be almost permanently in the video recorder which got a little wearing after the third or fourth time... Daniel was a little unsettled at night, but although he did keep me awake a little on Saturday night with his crying, I'm pretty sure he wasn't responsible for my waking in the first place, that just being my typically unsettled sleep!

Bank holiday Monday was a bit more active than Saturday or Sunday, going for a "proper" walk on and around Puttenham Common, just east of Farnham. We got a little lost with all the extra paths that weren't on the Ordnance Survey maps, but realised we couldn't have gone far wrong, and ended up on the North Downs Way long-distance path as intended, arriving for lunch at the Harvester in Puttenham with impeccable timing. Both of us went for the surf'n'turf - scampi and steak, that is - which was perhaps overdoing it a little as we were to go out for a meal in the evening too, but it hit the spot anyway, and we made sure we made good use of the salad bar for healthiness's sake. We took a leisurely stroll back to the car, arriving back at Katy's house just in time to watch a film, Monsoon Wedding - intriguing but a bit strange to me! - before going out to meet up with Simon and Becki and their friend Wayne and hitting town once again, this time for pizza. No starters for those of us who had already eaten well at lunchtime, but the hoi-sin duck pizzas that three out of the five of us opted for went down well, though I would probably have enjoyed mine even more if I'd had a bit more of an appetite! Another time, maybe... We deliberately ate early, though, because I didn't want to be heading home too late, so we left Simon, Becki and Wayne in town to go to the pub while we headed back to Katy's house to say our goodbyes, and by eight o'clock I was on my way home.

So that was two and a half days spent in Katy's company, at least during our waking hours, surely one of the longest such stretches I've experienced with anyone I've been going out with, and I would say it all went rather well. A few silly things during the weekend prompted flashbacks, but they relate to things I just need to be able to cope with and accept as ancient history now even if forgetting them may be harder. I was worried that today would see me suffering a "cold turkey" crash, but so far that doesn't seem to have been the case. Let's just hope it stays that way, and with a fairly busy social schedule developing for this week, I would say there's a good chance of that!

Thankfully no phone-calls as yet requesting my chauffeuring services, though I'm not going to assume anything until I hear my potential passengers are safely home - hopefully this evening sometime. Besides, I'm out this evening anyway, round for tea with Margaret, who has promised a lentil and pasta bake, which sounds yummy but not necessarily Katy's thing after her dal experiences in India so perhaps it's just as well I'm going on my own this time!

Not quite the relaxing evening we'd intended, but it could have been far worse! Margaret and I at least managed to have our tea in peace before the phone line started burning, and me having to go out to collect Sarah and the girls from the railway station and us all regrouping round at Sarah's house a short while later. No late nights though, and I'm back round there for at least part of tomorrow evening anyway, so I'll be calling it a day myself pretty soon...

Ow, ow, ow! My right hand really hurts. Hopefully not in an RSI manner, but nothing would ever surprise me given my heavy day-to-day computer use - though I'm pretty sure my hand has hurt like this before and gone away soon enough. I also don't think it's got anything to do with the electric shock based pain relief device Margaret tried out on me last night, but I can't be totally sure!

So much for this being a productive day. Well, it was going reasonably until this office became meeting central, completely destroying my concentration for about two hours - and now taking some coaxing back, it has to be said. Having a particularly loud and brash American ranting at Tim was quite bad enough, but he eventually went, to be promptly replaced by two more visitors - one each for Sam and Tim, almost doubling the disturbing racket. There's serious talk of our department "going open plan" in the medium term future, but it's bad enough sometimes when there's just the three of us here. Don't get me wrong, I far prefer working in a shared office to being on my own - and I have experienced both arrangements in my seven years here so far - but there are limits to what is reasonable in the name of a productive working environment, and I fear those limits could soon be breached. If the penny-pinching Powers That Be are hoping for a bit of "redundancy through natural wastage" as part of their plans to streamline our working practices, I think they might be pleasantly surprised.

Predictably enough, I'm not now going out anywhere this evening other than to Open House, assuming I even make it there, much as I may currently intend to. I have to say, I seem to "read" some people better than they do themselves!

This really hasn't ended up a good day at all, work-wise. Endless disturbances and broken printers have been the main problems, exacerbated by specifications that read more like one of those verbal reasoning puzzles - and a consequent complete lack of motivation. I hope tomorrow's better, I really do. Right now I feel no inclination to do anything other than go home and stuff going out anywhere this evening at all. Thankfully I can do the former in six minutes.

I did go to Open House in the end, round at Shireen's for a change, and I was glad I went. I'd pondering ducking out half way through, but we started late anyway, so there seemed little point leaving early in the end, and both the worship and ministry times were really good. But needless to say it's quite late now, and I need my beauty sleep kind of urgently, so night-night for now!

There's a slightly more conducive environment for getting things done today, thankfully. Although it's too flipping hot - and I gather there's talk of a mini heatwave, so it's not going to go away in too much of a hurry. But I'll be off for lunch with David in a short while, and perhaps we might even sit outside - no point in doing anything but making the best of it, eh? No idea yet what's happening later today. Yesterday's early evening plans have been postponed until this evening, but I'm going to wait until later this afternoon before assuming they're going ahead, based on past experience. Anyway, it's almost lunchtime, so I'm going to have one last read of this document vaguely calling itself an "interrupt mechanism", then forget about it all for an hour!

Lunch outside was most pleasant, but now I'm back in this stuffy productivity pod of an office, tearing out what little hair I have left over the appalling vagueness of this document. I have to say that generally the academics on this particular course are amongst the better ones I've ever had to deal with, but this specific part has been cobbled together in a rather piecemeal manner, and it shows. Badly. Most of the stuff they have sent me in the past I have been able to implement pretty much verbatim in Java code, but not this. Oh no. I should be able to make a good stab at what needs to be done without needing to go through the even more tedious process of querying it, but it's not going to be easy, and the resulting code I really hope no-one else will have to look at.

Hooray, I think I've done everything asked in this wretched document! There are perhaps a few omissions in the changes the academics requested I made, but I'm not sure, and only their own testing can really confirm or disprove that. Of course, the whole thing also needs to be thoroughly tested for compliance with the specifications, and the code is indeed as ugly as I expected so might use some tidying up, but all being well I'm basically there now. Those who followed the spreadsheet saga of a few weeks back will know all too well that such confidence normally means I have a long haul ahead of me still, but hey, there's no harm in going into the weekend on a modestly upbeat note, right?

I'll reserve judgement on this evening for the time being. Sarah insisted she enjoyed it though, which was the main thing. Still, at least I managed a nice half-hour chat with Katy upon my return home, to plot our weekend and generally catch up after an unavoidably rather rushed last few evenings of phone-calls.

For now though, bath and bed - and perhaps a DVD if I can stay awake...

Or perhaps the best part of an hour on the phone to my parents instead!

Bed, really, now...

Just as well I didn't try to extend my lie-in any further this morning, because my uncommunicative neighbour has just started strimming his lawn. Not really complaining, because I did mine only a few days ago - and it needs doing again now of course - but I might have appreciated a little more sleep. But anyway, I'm up now, and am shortly going to go and have that bath postponed from last night, then get myself ready to go to the doctor's I guess. Hopefully it will be a completely routine visit, and I've typed up the list of all the various ailments that my relations have died from over the years and filled my little bottle as requested, so I should be out in no time. What I'll do for the rest of the day I don't know; I did have some vague plans, but have decided not to follow those through now after all, so I expect I'll end up having another lazy Friday and maybe get out for a short walk or something at some point.

Safely back from the doctor's now, having been thoroughly checked over by the nurse. The good news is that I am, officially, still alive, a year or so on from the last time that diagnosis was made. However, the nurse was a little concerned about my blood pressure, but that was perhaps not so surprising given that I'd just briskly walked round to the surgery, and it did drop by twenty of whatever the units are over the duration of the appointment. Consequently she wants me to have another reading of my blood pressure as soon as possible, but that's something I may well be able to get done at work in our occupational health clinic. Apparently a year on from the last time is a good interval between blood tests, so I've been asked to book myself in for one of those sometime in the near future too, if it's not something the occupational health people can also do on their behalf. But aside from that, all pretty good, and although the nurse said I could probably aim to lose about a stone - and losing another would do no harm - she didn't consider me overweight, so long as I felt happy with my diet and exercise regimes. The whole experience somehow seemed a lot more constructive, informative and less confrontational than at the Central Milton Keynes practice with which I was registered previously. I don't really remember the latter being particularly bad, this lot just seem rather better!

I really feel I ought to make the most of this glorious weather by going out for at least a little walk or something, but I feel precisely zero motivation to do so in practice. It took four days for me to crash after the weekend, but I think it's finally happened now. Thank goodness for Katy and for Margaret, sending encouraging emails, to keep me from really hitting rock bottom.

Still not gone out anywhere, instead watched DVDs all afternoon. Might go out this evening once it's a bit cooler though. Must get the washing in sometime.

Hungry now, but uninspired to cook anything much really. Pasta, I think, but I'll need to put some sun-dried tomatoes in to soak, since I was healthy and went for dehydrated ones rather than the ones in oil last time I bought them.

Mmm yes, feeling better already with the thought of that.

Either it's ridiculously hot and humid for 10.30 at night, or I'm ill, 'cos I'm sweating buckets. In the end my significant exercise for the day took the form of walking out to Tesco, filling a basket with groceries and then walking back. Via the video shop next to Tesco to buy a copy of Men In Black, which looked quite reasonable value for a special edition, though I daren't look on the web to see if that was really the case. May or may not watch it this evening; all depends whether it's worth even trying to get to sleep yet with the heat as it is. I still have Gladiator to watch, of course, but that's a bit of a longer film and Katy advises I should be properly awake when I get round to doing so!

If at first you can't sleep cos it's so flippin' hot, go round and visit David and Dawn for two or three hours. I'm sure they won't mind... Well they didn't mind last night anyway, but it did mean I couldn't drag myself out of bed until almost midday today, and of course totally missed this morning's solar eclipse!

Well I've now watched my shiny new Men In Black DVD, and it was as good fun as the film's ever been. Now, I have a bit of a dilemma as to what I do for the rest of the day. I think I shall go and procrastinate in the bath for a while.

So, this afternoon I spent turning very wrinkly indeed reading in the bath, before going out for a very leisurely stroll around the lake. It's another hot evening, so now I've had my tea and a half-chilled bottle of beer, I think I'll put my feet up in front of Gladiator for two and a half hours. This whole day seems to be acting itself out in two-and-a-half hour chunks, most curiously.

Oh, and as for the aforementioned dilemma, well sometimes if you procrastinate for long enough, dilemmas can just vanish into thin air. Convenient, that...

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