Welcome to another set of journal highlights. I’m combining 2 months together here, as I haven’t written a huge amount for each. But I’m currently in the early stages of a new temporary job with my local council, working in their Printing department. There won’t be always a lot to say about it, and there are some details I’ve left out for confidentiality, but you should still get a good sense of how I’ve been getting on. And as always there’s plenty of entertainment I’ve been enjoying, plus another top 100 list from the TV, about music videos this time. So I hope you enjoy!
Saturday January 1, 2005
Happy New Year!
It’s 2005 already, and I wonder what this year will bring. Last night’s New Year celebrations in London included a 2 minute silence for all those killed in the tsunamis in Asia and Africa, and then they had the most spectacular fireworks display I think I’ve ever seen. The £1 million display went on for 10 minutes, with the centrepiece being the London Eye, culminating in a fantastic barrage of fireworks with a huge explosion of white light at the end. It was just fantastic, better than the Millennium display. As the 2012 Olympic location is decided in July this year, this was one of their last chances to impress, and they certainly did that for me.
There was also a fascinating documentary about Bohemian Rhapsody last night. It was originally on BBC3, but BBC2 showed it on this occasion. Although I already knew some of what was said, it was still very interesting to watch.
And The Vicar Of Dibley tonight had a strong message about poverty in Africa. This meant the obligatory joke went at the beginning for a change, and the end was more about getting the message across, with the whole cast wearing white armbands and no credits appearing with the end music. It’s quite brave to do something so solemn in a comedy show, and it was still a good episode.
Anyway, I’ve got Monday off of course, as it’s a Bank Holiday, and then everything gets back to normal. Nothing else to say at the moment, so let’s see what this year brings!
Friday January 7, 2005
I’m eligible for Working Tax Credit. I get an initial payment for a few days in December, then a set amount every 4 weeks during my 3 month contract. Plus I’ve got some money for the shirts, trousers and bus tickets from another fund. So it’s just as well I claimed both of them!
Not much to report on the work front other than that. We’re getting there with the forms we’re designing, slowly but surely. It’s just waiting for others to do bits for us, which is a bit frustrating. Never mind, it’s all good experience for me, so I’m not complaining.
There was a 3 minute silence all around the European Union at noon on Wednesday, in tribute to the Asian tsunami victims. The death toll continues to soar, and aid is now over $3 billion in total. At least 440 Britons are dead or missing. The concern, however, is that money is going to be needed in the long term, but the public will forget about it once the media have moved on to other things. After all, there is still suffering in places like Ethiopia after Band Aid and Live Aid 20 years ago. Things won’t just be better overnight.
Talking of Live Aid, I’m going to start watching that on DVD this weekend. I’ve just finished watching Lynyrd Skynyrd – Lyve In Steel Town, and it’s a cracking show, like the other live one I’ve got. I’m also working my way through the Lord Of The Rings films, so I’ll be watching Return Of The King for the first time this weekend. And then there’s all the extras – there are so many, I could still be going through them this time next year!
Friday January 14, 2005
I saw the final LOTR film last weekend, and it’s a superb film. It’s the best series of films I’ve ever seen. I’ve started listening to the epic commentaries now, and they’re proving to be interesting. It helps to do a bit each day rather than all at once. Live Aid’s also proving to be very good.
The Live Aid style gig in Cardiff for the tsunami victims is going ahead as well, with Eric Clapton, among others, performing on January 22. All of the UK’s commercial radio stations are going to be doing Radio Aid next week as well. Shedloads of money has been raised already, which is hopefully getting to the right places.
Wednesday January 19, 2005
Radio Aid raised over £3m for the tsunami victims yesterday. 268 commercial radio stations joined up from 6am to 6pm. Artists performed live, prizes were given out, people donated in their droves via text messaging, and even Tony Blair came in. Davina McCall, Kate Thornton and Chris Evans were among the presenters – it’s Chris Evans’ first time on radio for 3 years, after his fall-out with Virgin FM. He’s happy to be back, and this event means he was technically back on Virgin FM for a couple of hours. He was the one who got to speak to Tony Blair. I didn’t hear any of it, as they didn’t have it on in work, but that didn’t matter.
And talking of aid, I’ve seen Queen‘s legendary performance on the Live Aid DVD, and they certainly put on a superb performance. It’s not hard to see why it helped relaunch their career, and Freddie was clearly enjoying himself. Another highlight so far has been U2, they’re clearly one of the best acts of the show as well. The atmosphere they generated with the audience was great. There are lots of other good acts as well though. George Thorogood and the Destroyers came just before Queen, for example – only one song (Madison Blues), and I’d never heard of them before, but they were also great.
Saturday January 22, 2005
Our builder friend and his wife came round last night for a chat, as he’s coming in February to carry on with the work out the front, and do some other bits and bobs, which will be good. They also showed us their son’s graduation photos, as his ceremony had taken place in November. They’d hired his cap and gown and stuff for a week so they could take photos of him in different places like the hotel, their house and the graduation venue. So they stayed and chatted for a couple of hours altogether, during which my Dad was also telling them about some of the naughty things he did when he was young – stealing fence panels and selling them back for firewood to their owner, getting his legs slapped as he ran upstairs if he was bad, etc!
The Live Aid style concert for the tsunami victims kicks off today in Cardiff. It’s a 7-hour show, with 24 acts. But, unlike Live Aid, we won’t get to see or hear it all on the TV and radio. There will be a few hours of live coverage and then some highlights later on, so we get a fair amount, but it’s all split up across different channels (BBC TV, BBC Radio and Channel 5), which is a shame given the importance of the cause and the hype surrounding it, but it’s better than nothing.
Having said that though, some of the acts are probably modern ones which I wouldn’t be interested in anyway! And it can never match Live Aid – the DVD of which is still great, incidentally. I saw David Bowie‘s set today, and he was very good.
Friday January 28, 2005
It’s been a bit busier at work this week. The new financial system is going live on Monday 31st January. It still won’t be fully ready, but some things need to be by then. So because there are still some things to iron out, they’ve asked me to go in tomorrow – yep, that’s a Saturday. I’m happy to do it though, I’m enjoying this experience.
The Tsunami Relief concert in Cardiff last weekend raised £1.25m, which is quite impressive considering many people have already given. The concert itself wasn’t great in my view, with a lot of fairly slow songs. Groups like the Manic Street Preachers did a few more upbeat numbers, but it was fairly mediocre overall. That was until Jools Holland and his orchestra came on for a superb finale. He split the audience into 3 at one point and gave each section a different bit to sing, and it sounded great, with 61,000 people all singing together. They did a couple of great tracks on stage, and were then joined by the legend that is Eric Clapton, and they performed a few numbers together, including some blues, followed by Shake, Rattle & Roll, and Willie & The Hand Jive. So at least the finish to the concert was good. Still, it was all in a good cause, and I respect all the artists for that.
Friday February 4, 2005
I ended up going in to work last Sunday as well as Saturday, so I clocked up 10 hours last weekend. We didn’t get lots done, but it was still worth it. Saturday is time and a half (i.e. I get 1.5 times my normal pay) and Sunday is double time. I’ve filled in the overtime sheet, so hopefully I’ll get what I’ve earned there!
As for the new financial system, it’s now live! Granted, it’s not fully finished, as we’ve still got plenty to do, but we’re getting there, and we’re able to print or email out a few important things from it already. There was a little celebration at lunchtime on Monday too, so we had some champagne, sandwiches, doughnuts and cream cakes.
As of today, I’ve got a month left at the council before my contract ends. My supervisor has mentioned creating a post and tailoring a job description to me, but I haven’t heard any more on that yet, so I won’t assume I’m going to stay. And I’ve got a £100 Job Grant from the government, which is designed to fill the gap I had between my incapacity benefit stopping and my wages starting. A bit late, but nonetheless welcome! I’ve been doing quite well financially.
Saturday February 12, 2005
Work’s still busy as usual. Some of the documents from the new system have to be printed manually by me, until we can automate the process. And another important document needs to run on Monday but still has various bugs to iron out. Still, I can only do what I’m told to do, so if it’s not ready by Monday, I’ve done all I can!
Nan’s cat Sandy has finally died. It was getting very weak, so it was taken to the vet and put down, and not cheaply either! But Nan’s relieved, as it means she doesn’t have to look after it now, and she can concentrate on looking after herself. She was only looking after Sandy for her sister after she’d died.
In the news, congratulations must go to Ellen MacArthur, who has broken the world record for sailing solo around the world. She beat it by 1 day and 9 hours. I couldn’t do that – living in a poky 6ft square cabin, getting little sleep, and having to climb the mast to make repairs in the middle of the ocean! She’s got a lot of guts, and she’s rightfully getting lots of attention from the world’s media, who gathered at Falmouth to see her come home, after she’d crossed the finish line near France. It was great to see some cheerful news on Tuesday morning when I turned on the TV.
The other big news this week is that Prince Charles is to marry Camilla Parker-Bowles on April 8, in a civil ceremony at Windsor Castle. When he becomes King, she’ll be the Princess Consort, and not the Queen as some thought she might be. I can’t say that story interests me very much, but it’s the big story this week.
A more interesting story is about chaos at one of IKEA’s furniture stores. They decided to open a new store at midnight near London, but 4,000 people turned up, and the resulting melee resulted in 1 man being stabbed! Many people were, rather stupidly, leaving their cars on the North Circular as well, resulting in major traffic disruption. So, for fears over safety, IKEA shut the store half an hour after it opened. But was it really necessary for people to flock there at midnight? Are they that desperate for cheap furniture?!
As for my shopping, I bought 6 remastered Status Quo albums last weekend, the first 6 in the series they’re doing. They’re not releasing them all at once, and they’ve missed out the first 4 which were produced by a different label. I’ll get them eventually as well. I’ve got their latest couple of albums already, but only compilations of earlier stuff, so it’s a good excuse to start collecting their earlier records, especially when they’re only £7.99 each. I also bought the next 3 albums by The Who that I needed. It’s a fairly big order, I know, but I’m treating myself as I haven’t bought any CDs for a while. And on DVD I bought Series 1 of 2Point4 Children and Top Of The Pop’s 40th anniversary compilation.
And to finish on another musical note, so to speak, Channel 4 did another of its huge lists last week, resulting in a 4-hour show! This time it’s The 100 Greatest Music Videos, as voted for by the public. I haven’t seen most of them, but it’s good to see Queen getting a couple of mentions near the top (4 and 21).
- Michael Jackson – Thriller
- Peter Gabriel – Sledgehammer
- A-ha – Take on Me
- Queen – Bohemian Rhapsody
- Madonna – Like a Prayer
- Robbie Williams – Rock DJ
- Michael Jackson – Billie Jean
- The Verve – Bittersweet Symphony
- Madonna – Vogue
- Nirvana – Smells Like Teen Spirit
- Coldplay – The Scientist
- Michael & Janet Jackson – Scream
- Pink Floyd – Another Brick in the Wall
- Christina Aguilera – Dirrty
- R.E.M. – Everybody Hurts
- Outkast – Hey Ya
- Blur – Coffee & TV
- Beyonce – Crazy in Love
- Madonna – Material Girl
- Gorillaz – Clint Eastwood
- Queen – I Want to Break Free
- Justin Timberlake – Cry Me a River
- Britney Spears – …Baby One More Time
- Radiohead – No Surprises
- Madness – Baggy Trousers
- TLC – Waterfalls
- David Bowie – Ashes to Ashes
- Foo Fighters – Learn to Fly
- Electric Six – Gay Bar
- Weezer – Buddy Holly
- Eminem – Stan
- Chris Isaak – Wicked Game
- U2 – The Sweetest Thing
- The White Stripes – Fell in Love with a Girl
- Sinead O’Connor – Nothing Compares 2U
- Red Hot Chili Peppers – Give It Away
- Guns N’ Roses – November Rain
- Fatboy Slim – Weapon of Choice
- Pulp – Common People
- Missy Elliot – Get Ur Freak On
- The Spice Girls – Wannabe
- Björk – It’s Oh So Quiet
- Dire Straits – Money for Nothing
- Kylie Minogue – Can’t Get You Out of My Head
- Aerosmith – Crazy
- Adam & the Ants – Prince Charming
- The Prodigy – Firestarter
- Johnny Cash – Hurt
- Jamiroquai – Virtual Insanity
- Paul Simon – You Can Call Me Al
- Run DMC & Aerosmith – Walk This Way
- Massive Attack – Teardrop
- Wham – Club Tropicana
- Daft Punk – Around the World
- Fatboy Slim – Praise You
- Eminem – Without Me
- Meatloaf – I’d Do Anything for Love (But I Won’t Do That)
- The Cure – Close to Me
- ABBA – Knowing Me, Knowing You
- Eurythmics – Sweet Dreams (Are Made Of This)
- The Prodigy – Smack My Bitch Up
- Blur – Parklife
- George Michael – Outside
- Björk – Human Behaviour
- Aphex Twin – Windowlicker
- Bob Dylan – Subterranean Homesick Blues
- The Beastie Boys – Sabotage
- Madonna – Ray of Light
- Frankie Goes to Hollywood – Two Tribes
- The Police – Every Breath You Take
- Björk – All Is Full of Love
- Robert Palmer – Addicted to Love
- Basement Jaxx – Where’s Your Head At?
- Wu-Tang Clan – Gravel Pit
- Duran Duran – Rio
- The Beatles – Strawberry Fields
- MC Hammer – U Can’t Touch This
- Godley & Creme – Cry
- New Order – True Faith
- Radiohead – Just
- Ultravox – Vienna
- 50 Cent – In Da Club
- Shakespears Sister – Stay
- The Boomtown Rats – I Don’t Like Mondays
- Sid Vicious – My Way
- The Streets – Fit But You Know It
- Talking Heads – Once in a Lifetime
- Elton John – I Want Love
- The Smashing Pumpkins – Tonight, Tonight
- The Pet Shop Boys – Go West
- The Specials – Ghost Town
- Herbie Hancock – Rockit
- The Rolling Stones – We Love You
- Bonnie Tyler – Total Eclipse of the Heart
- The Cardigans – My Favourite Game
- So Solid Crew – 21 Seconds
- Cornershop – Brimful of Asha
- Bronski Beat – Smalltown Boy
- Supergrass – Pumping on Your Stereo
- Musical Youth – Pass the Dutchie
Friday February 18, 2005
My manager and supervisor have talked about writing a job description, but there’s still no certain news on what’s going to happen to me in 2 weeks when I leave. Still, if nothing happens, it’ll be good to have a short break while I look for something else. I’ve got contacts at the job agency I’m with, so I’m not worried.
It looks like the people next door were finally able to sell up and move out, as someone else is moving in. And our builder’s doing more work on our house next week. He’ll be here all week, then has a week off, and then comes back for another week.
Sunday February 27, 2005
Work’s been much the same recently, but we had a fire awareness and bomb threats presentation this week, including a video about using fire extinguishers. I’d just get out if there was a fire, I wouldn’t be able to see well enough to find and use an extinguisher quickly I expect!
And as far as my employment goes, my manager’s under the impression that I’m staying until the end of March, and not the 6th as my letter suggested. He thinks that’s because the guy who first took me on is paying for my employment out of his budget until that date, and then it comes out of my manager’s for the rest of the period. But I still need official confirmation.
Having said that, it looks more certain now – I’m going to be invited to an induction for new employees, which is after the 6th of March. So I should be at the council until the end of March. And then the assistant’s post is going to come up, which I’ll be able to apply for if I want. So things are still looking good. We’ll just have to play it by ear as we go along.
I did another quick DVD order from Amazon last weekend, which arrived this week, consisting of Series 6 of both Red Dwarf and The Brittas Empire. 2Point4 Children was great, incidentally, and Top of the Pops has been really interesting to watch. My CDs have also arrived, so I’ve started listening to The Who, and they’re great so far.
On the TV this week, part of Sun Hill Police Station in The Bill has been blown up for the second time in 3 years. The fire was started not by evil Gabriel Kent, but by Colin Fairfax, a new officer who had been exposed as racist. He got drunk, and drove a van full of petrol into the station. And of course, that means some characters died:
- Andrea Dunbar – The undercover journalist, exposed by her editor, and killed before she can reveal her evidence of Gabriel’s misdeeds. She did get a confession out of him, but he left her to die in the fire.
- Ken Drummond – A good, sensible character. Sad to see him go. He had gone to look for Colin, who then shoved him in the back of the petrol-filled van before driving it into the station.
- Marilyn Chambers – The reception girl, and Reg Hollis‘ girlfriend. He was at her bedside when she died. and was going to propose to her. He slipped the wedding ring on her finger, but it was not to be. Poor Reg. But at least they didn’t kill him, he’s such an integral part of the show.
And Jim Carver‘s also left this week, although he wasn’t killed thankfully. After 21 years from the very first episode (Woodentop), he’s finally gone. He had married June Ackland, only to let her down thanks to his drink and gambling problems, and she had an affair. So after an episode with them walking and arguing along by the Thames, he realised that he would only ever hurt her, despite his best intentions and real love for her. So he felt it best to leave, which he did, his last line of the show being the same as his first line in the Woodentop pilot all those years ago (“Ok Carver, let’s do it”). It’s a shame he’s gone, but there are still some veterans left – June Ackland, Tony Stamp, Reg Hollis & Jack Meadows, to name the best ones.