Welcome to the next set of entries from my personal journal. Things have been much calmer this month, as I now have job security with my new permanent position at the Council. It means I’m able to get much more support as a visually impaired employee. And there are various other bits and pieces to mention about things I’ve been buying, things that have caught my eye in the news, the loss of a comedy legend, a few technical mishaps, and a day trip to London with a couple of colleagues for a trade show. So I hope you enjoy!
Tuesday October 4, 2005
Comedy legend Ronnie Barker has sadly died at the age of 76. That’s the only thing to mention today. The word genius can be thrown about a lot, but it’s an understatement for him. He was a true legend, and we’ll never see anyone like him again. Although we do have some good comedians, none of them have come close to Ronnie in terms of humour and overall personality. He never showed off, and even let other people have the laughs if he thought they would get a better response from certain jokes. He often wrote sketches under assumed names too (e.g. Gerald Wiley), so that the sketches would be judged on their own merits rather than because they were written by him.
He didn’t do lots of big showbusiness parties, and he wasn’t an alcoholic or a drug addict. He just enjoyed his life. He was, as Ronnie Corbett has said, “pure gold in triplicate” – as a writer, performer and a friend. Even though the public didn’t know him, they all regarded him as a friend. David Jason was initially too devastated to talk publicly about it, quite understandably, but did give his thanks for “The Governor” by the end of the day. Without Ronnie, David wouldn’t be the star we know.
In short, Ronnie Barker was unique and one of my favourite comedians of all time. Although it’s goodnight from him for the last time, he’ll certainly never go away in anyone’s hearts. RIP Ronnie.
Friday October 7, 2005
It’s been a fairly busy week at work. I’ve done a couple of jobs while my section manager’s been on a course today and yesterday, with a bit of help from another colleague on one of them. It was quite a complex job too, because it mixed single-sided and double-sided A4 sheets with A3 maps, so it had to be printed in lots of little sections. I’ve also moved within the office, as it was getting a bit cramped having both a Mac and a PC in the corner where I was, so I’ve got more space where I am.
I also wore casual clothes to work today, as it’s the 10th anniversary of Jeans For Genes day, and the council wanted us to support it. It raises money for a number of charities, including Great Ormond Street and Muscular Dystrophy. I don’t have any jeans, so casual clothes were fine, and the donation was £2.
At home, my Goodmans DAB Radio/Tape/CD player has gone wrong, as when I press DAB it goes to Tape instead. It occasionally goes back to DAB, but not always for long, so it seems like there’s a short circuit somewhere. So I ordered a Sony stereo from Argos last weekend. That came on Tuesday, but the DAB part doesn’t work. It won’t pick it up, despite using a similar kind of wire aerial that Mum’s clock radio uses, and that works in the same place. So we’ve repackaged it and I’m waiting for Argos to get back to me about picking it up and giving us a refund. What I think I’ll do instead is buy a simple DAB radio on its own (one of those Pure models as they always work), and keep this Goodmans unit to play CDs on (I may as well get as much use out of it as possible).
Talking of CDs, I’ve started listening to the new ones I got this week – new albums from Status Quo (The Party Ain’t Over Yet) and The Rolling Stones (A Bigger Bang ), plus the CD and DVD singles for the Quo album. I haven’t listened to the Quo album yet, but the Rolling Stones album is cool. They may be old, but they still rock. I’ve been watching the second series of Goodnight Sweetheart too, and that’s still good.
The Ronnie Barker tribute programme shown on Tuesday night was very good, with plenty of clips I hadn’t seen before. BBC1 are also repeating the BAFTA tribute show tonight, where they gave him a special recognition award. He got emotional then – “What a pleasure it is to be flanked on either side by my 2 best friends”, he said while standing by Ronnie Corbett and David Jason. He was very moved. He had been showing his age in the Sketchbook shows to be fair, and he had been having heart trouble for a while. The BBC are hoping to show a Christmas Special of The Two Ronnies Sketchbook, recorded with the rest of the series but not yet shown, as that’s his last ever TV performance. I expect his family will give permission for that to be shown.
Meanwhile, in The Bill this week, Gabriel Kent has finally stopped his reign of terror, by jumping off a tower block after a fight with Smithy. It was a good ending to his story, and they couldn’t have had him getting away with everything forever. He had even tried but failed to kill his brother (the real Gabriel Kent, whose name he stole). It’s been complicated!
And finally, an author, who was also a vicar, was asked to leave a school after doing some reading to the pupils. He used words like bum, ass, fart and bogey, which apparently got the kids excited and the teachers embarrassed, unsurprisingly!
Monday October 10, 2005
My luck with electrical equipment is obviously not great at the moment. First I get a new radio which doesn’t work (Argos are collecting it tomorrow), and now my JVC DVD/HDD/VCR unit has gone wrong. It’s not the first time it’s crashed, but it’s the first time it won’t let me into the hard drive. I tried deleting something but it froze without finishing. It managed to restart, but now gets confused and restarts when it tries to access the hard disk. An engineer is coming on Wednesday afternoon, so hopefully they can do something.
In happier news, my mate who’s at Bournemouth University has invited me to visit for his 21st birthday, so I’ll try and get the Friday and Monday around that weekend off work in November. I can get a train journey where I only have to change once on the Friday, so that will be useful (it’ll have to be at least 2 changes coming back, though).
There have been a couple of big fires in the news lately. One was at a warehouse belonging to Aardman Animations – creators of Wallace & Gromit, Chicken Run, and the old Morph kids clay animation. The depot was completely gutted, with pretty much everything destroyed. Old props and sets for their creations have gone up in smoke. The only saving grace is that the stuff was not actually being used, but it all had sentimental value, which is why it was stored. Everything from the new Wallace & Gromit movie was stored elsewhere. It’s too early to know the cause, but there have been small arson attacks in recent years in that area. And the other fire was in a pub at the end of Southend Pier, which is also suspected to be arson. Why do people have to be so stupid?
In better news though, England have qualified for the World Cup – just. We lost to Northern Ireland a few weeks ago, and we just managed to beat Austria this weekend. We’re not on top form right now, and Sven hasn’t picked very good team line-ups recently it seems. But at least we got through!
Friday October 14, 2005
The Comet engineer came on Wednesday and took the recorder away (I managed to get the afternoon off work). It could be a week on Monday before I get it back, or a new one if they can’t fix that one. Judging by the web, this won’t be the first time I call the engineers out. It’s a good piece of kit, but has a tendency to play up, despite JVC being a good brand.
In work, a support worker called Genevieve came to see me for the second time in as many weeks. She’s working with me when her colleague Chris is busy. She’s looking into getting me paid travel in taxis, and also a magnifier of some sort in case it comes in handy.
This coming Tuesday, I’m going with my section and department managers to Earl’s Court in London for the Digital Print World exhibition. Digital printing is now becoming very big, and the show has moved to Earl’s Court for the first time. It should be an interesting, if long, day.
I’ve booked my leave and train tickets for my friend’s birthday. Just under £27 with my Disabled Railcard, which is good. One change of train on the way up, two on the way back, so that’s not bad.
The news hasn’t been too interesting, but in relation to what I’ve mentioned before, a quiet home funeral has been held for Ronnie Barker, and England beat Poland 2-1 in the last of our World Cup qualifiers.
Wednesday October 19, 2005
The week at work so far has been pretty good. Yesterday I went with my section and department managers to the Digital Print World exhibition at Earl’s Court. They picked me up at 6:50am, and the traffic was fine. We stopped at a service station on the way for a loo break and a drink. We then parked at North Ealing station and got the tube to Earl’s Court. The weather was pretty wet when we left, but it was fairly dry in London.
The exhibition itself was huge, as the digital printing industry is now massive. High quality variable data printing is now more readily available, whereas high quality printing in the past involved creating plates and films separately for each job, which is very time consuming. The digital presses are now up to a very good quality – not quite as good as lithography, but damn good nonetheless. There were other machines there as well, such as mailing machines (that fold and stuff things into envelopes), cutting machines (for cutting things like business cards), and even CD printers (that burn the CD and print the label side too).
My 2 bosses bumped into quite a few people that they knew, so they all had plenty to talk about. I just listened and took in what I could. It’s quite a lot to get my head around, and I didn’t understand or remember it all. But I picked up enough to enjoy it, and it was interesting to see some machines being demonstrated, so it was a worthwhile day out. I picked up some booklets and one or two samples that had been printed too.
We left the exhibition not long after 4pm, and I was home by 8pm, so it was a very quick journey home. The next big exhibition is IPEX, apparently, which covers the printing and media industries. Others at work who have been there before are very interested in it, so we might be hiring a bus to go to Birmingham in April. It sounds interesting.
As for home, the post was amazingly quick last week. On Saturday I got my development plan from Genevieve, and my rail tickets for November, which I wasn’t expecting until closer to the time. And I got another good item of mail on Monday – my first ever £50 Premium Bond prize from ERNIE!
My latest Amazon order then arrived yesterday, with The Simpsons – Season 6 and The Bill – Series 2. My Dad’s birthday present arrived on Tuesday from Amazon as well – The Comancheros (a John Wayne film) and The Ashes (a 3 disc set looking at this year’s Ashes Tests in detail, which came out this week). And I’ve done another Amazon order for next week – Return Of The Champions (Queen’s new live DVD with Paul Rodgers), Oh Doctor Beeching! – Series 2, and Wallace & Gromit (their 3 TV films, seeing as the movie is now out, and getting very good reviews).
Sunday October 23, 2005
Nothing much to report on the work or home front since my last entry, other than I got my Argos refund for the stereo, put my premium bond cheque into my account, and got my hair cut.
In the local news, Nick Bye, the Tory candidate, is Torbay’s first elected mayor – the only elected mayor in the South West, and the only Conservative mayor. Over 7,000 people from a 24% turnout chose him, which is very low. So we’ll see how well he performs in his role.
In the national news, a parrot was discovered in the UK with avian flu, having been imported from South America. It feels like the bird flu issue has really been blown out of proportion by the press lately. It’s still only in birds, and has to mutate before it affects humans. If it then reaches the UK, there are predictions that 50,000 people will die, but so far only about 60 people have had it worldwide, so is it really that big an issue? Doesn’t seem to be so far, but they’re keeping an eye on it.
Elsewhere, Saddam Hussein’s trial has started, but he’s still as egotistical as ever, refusing to acknowledge the court and retaining his post as President of Iraq in his head. And one of his defence lawyers was killed by a gang this week – all of his defence lawyers have been named, so they’re not safe. The judges have more protection though, as only the chief judge has been named. Over in America, meanwhile, Hurricane Wilma has been hitting Mexico and Florida. And the cleanup after the recent Pakistan earthquake continues, with around 80,000 dead now I think.
We are 12 billion light-years from the edge,
That’s a guess,
No one can ever say it’s true,
But I know that I will always be with you.
Fine, you may think. But Simon Singh took offence to that a column in the Guardian. Katie’s line that the distance to the edge (and hence the age) of the universe is just a guess is, to him, “an insult to a century of astronomical progress”. Scientists have measured it much more precisely than that, and she only used 12 to fit in the right number of syllables. So he proposes that the lyrics be changed to:
We are 13.7 billion light-years from the edge of the observable universe,
That’s a good estimate with well-defined error bars,
Scientists say it’s true, but acknowledge that it may be refined,
And with the available information,
I predict that I will always be with you.
Story over you may think. And some of the resulting letters are quite funny too, including scientists in support of Katie. But the best part is that, having been amused by the article herself, Katie Melua recorded the song again for Radio 4’s Today programme, with the new lyrics! It’s been played on the radio again since, and she did a good job getting all those words in. She’s going to stick with her original version of course, but she’s a good sport for doing that. And Simon Singh admits his lyrics don’t sound as good when performed, so has relented.
I wonder if he knows of Monty Python’s Galaxy Song…
Friday October 28, 2005
It’s been a fairly busy week at work, as I’ve been setting up some scripts to audit how many documents of each type we’re printing for different departments, so that departments can be charged properly. One department also wants the ability to preview their bills before we print them, in case they need to make last minute alterations, so that will be sorted out soon too.
As for home, there’s plenty of little bits of news. Firstly, I had to ring Network, who published The Bill – Series 2 on DVD, after I found Disc 3 had the contents of Disc 1. A message on their website said they were making sure future stock wasn’t affected, and gave a number for customers to ring if they had a faulty set. So I rang on Wednesday, and the correct set came today (they sent a complete set, not just Disc 3). The episodes I’ve watched on the other 2 discs are good, so I’m glad I’ve got the other disc now.
As for other little things, Comet rang to say the engineer’s bringing back my video on Monday, and I’ve been enjoying watching Season 6 of The Simpsons. And I’ve ordered a new digital radio, from Amazon this time – the same Pure model that Mum’s got downstairs, so I’m pretty certain it will work upstairs.