June 2021 Introduction:
Time to finish another year from my old journal. Naturally this post contains mentions of Christmas, including a meal with my work colleagues and a few of my TV highlights, plus a brief recap of the year as a whole. And there are other bits and pieces too, including DVDs, music, news stories, etc as usual. So I hope you enjoy!
Sunday December 3, 2006
After Tuesday’s trip to the hospital for Dad’s eye operation, the rest of this week has been pretty quiet. A colleague was off work most of the week (except Monday, when I wasn’t there instead), so it was pretty quiet. There were still jobs to do as usual, but nothing particularly exciting. I’ve finished watching Season 5 of 24 on DVD, and it was another cracking season, I have to say. Series 1 of QI has been, well, quite interesting too, as the name suggests. And I helped Mum shopping on Saturday to make it easier for her, as Dad might still have had some trouble.
The news hasn’t really been very interesting either. There was a report saying that road users should be charged for use of the roads, and Windows Vista was released to businesses. The Windows Vista operating system will be released to home users later, but I’m not that bothered about it. It hasn’t got anything that would make me want to upgrade. But that really is about it.
Friday December 8, 2006
This has been another quiet week. At work we’re trying to get automated faxing and mailing barcodes working, and have been doing some testing with the cheque printing. It’s not all going well, but we’re getting there with everything.
At home, I’ve started watching the Series 2 DVD of Doctor Who on my new surround sound system, and it sounds great. The subwoofer (that does the really low bass sounds) really rumbles when spaceships go over, and the surround sound is good too.
I’ve also got another batch of stuff from Amazon. I got the new Love album by The Beatles, which is basically remixes of some of their tunes, done by George Martin, which was the soundtrack to a circus show. The other CD I got was Crackers by Slade, a party album they did with a few Christmas songs on, including a live version of Merry Xmas Everybody.
In terms of DVDs, I’ve got the rest of One Foot In The Grave (the last 2 Christmas specials and the final Series 6) and the first series of The Green Green Grass (the Boycie spin-off from Only Fools And Horses). So there’s plenty to keep me going.
In the news this week there hasn’t been much to shout about. It wasn’t a good week for some people though. A tornado ripped through a few streets in London, damaging or injuring at least 100 houses, some of which may have to be demolished as a result. And in Sussex a fireworks factory blew up, killing 2 firefighters and injuring many others.
And that’s really about it. Dad’s doing ok, he’s been out a few times now, and has been able to read a few things. How much better it will get, we don’t know, but he’s happy so far.
Friday December 15, 2006
We’re all ready for Christmas now, having got our big flashing Christmas tree downstairs, and we did all our cards last weekend. I’ve also got an early present of £50 from the Premium Bonds! Which is great, because it’s given me an excuse to go out tomorrow, as I need to get a card for Mum and Dad anyway. Plus I can try to find the Christmas Radio Times and see what’s on. Doctor Who will be interesting with Catherine Tate involved. And I’ve just finished the episodes from Series 2 on the DVD. It’s brilliant in surround sound, and that final two-parter is probably made even better because of it. It’s still very moving as well.
There isn’t much to report from work, but next Friday is our Christmas dinner. And some people from other departments are doing a sponsored abseil off Berry Head into the quarry to raise money for the Motor Neurone Disease Association, as an employee I don’t know has been diagnosed with the condition. It’s an incurable disease that stops nerves connected to muscles from working properly, so the victim becomes more and more paralysed. So I hope they raise plenty of money, we’ve all sponsored them. Some guy’s even doing it dressed as a ballerina, as he was offered double money to do that!
The news this week has mainly been focused on the murders of 5 prostitutes in Ipswich. Whoever’s been doing it seems to like the attention it gets, as the last couple of girls had gone missing even when the case had already become big news. Hopefully there will be no more though, and I expect they will catch whoever did it. The rest of the news hasn’t been exciting either. And The Ashes are still not worth mentioning. We’ve had good moments, but Australia always fight back too well.
And that’s it to be honest. Next weekend will be a 4-day weekend though, so that’ll be good. Plenty of food will be consumed I expect!
Saturday December 23, 2006
Wow, what a day! Yesterday, just after noon, we went for our work Christmas dinner at The Vanilla Pod, and it was a nice meal. I had mushrooms in a pastry casing (not bad), steak with potatoes and vegetables (delicious) and a chocolate mudcake (mmmm…). We had wine with it as well, of course, plus crackers.
After that we all popped into the Jolly Judge pub at around half past two – and I didn’t end up leaving until about 9pm! I happened to comment that I’d never been drunk to one of the guys there, who then proceeded to get people to buy me drinks all afternoon! I was mainly drinking Magners cider, but the guy in question also got me a vodka & coke at one point.
I had about 4 or 5 pints though, spread out over the 6 or so hours we were there, so I didn’t get drunk. I was merry, yes, and a bit more talkative, but I was still in control. I wouldn’t have wanted to go beyond that. As it is, I can still remember it, and I don’t have a headache. I did flop into bed at 10pm after I got home though, I couldn’t concentrate on watching TV!
The best part about that drinking though? I didn’t pay for any of it! I never had to get a round in! I would have done if they’d asked – although I did jokingly lie at one point to say I had bought a round. I’m not sure if anyone really believed it, and I tried to make it obvious it was a joke. Whatever, I was lucky, and I owe them drinks in future.
Anyway, we had a good time. We didn’t all go to the pub, as a few people left after the meal. The rest of us gradually left the pub one by one during the afternoon. And we all had a good time chatting together. It was good to chat to a couple of people who I don’t get the chance to talk to often, along with everyone else.
I left with one of my colleagues at about 9pm, because she wanted me to drop her off in my taxi, as she doesn’t live far from me. She even paid £5 towards the journey (which was on account as my journey home from work). So as well as not having to pay for the meal or drinks, I actually made £5 last night! So it was a good day.
At home, Dad’s eye is coming along nicely, and he doesn’t need as much medication for it now, after seeing the doctor at the hospital on Wednesday. It’s still blurry, as he’s still got no lens of course, but it’s settling down. He’ll get glasses eventually I expect. He won’t be going back to work straight away though – the doctor’s not bothered about that yet.
As for Christmas, we’ve had plenty of cards, and our big fibre-optic Christmas tree is still flashing away in the dining area downstairs. And the papers have got tons of puzzles to keep us going. I’m looking forward to the new Doctor Who episode of course, and the final episodes of The Vicar Of Dibley.
I’m still watching the extra bits on the Doctor Who Series 2 DVD, and have just found out that the commentaries available online (that were shown on BBC3 to those who pressed the red button on repeats) are not the same as on the DVD. So there are 2 commentaries per episode now – I’ll put the alternative ones on my iPod and watch them in time with the episodes. I’ll probably watch some of my music DVDs over the holiday too with my new sound system.
In the news, they’ve charged one man with murdering the Ipswich prostitutes, and have bailed another pending further enquiries. The other big story has been the weather – fog has ruined lots of flights all over the country, so passengers have been hanging around or getting alternative transport. But then, if it’s not safe to fly the planes, the airlines can’t do a lot more other than keep people comfortable while they wait.
But for us at home, it’ll be a nice relaxing Christmas this year I think. Only 2 days to go…
Tuesday December 26, 2006
And so Christmas comes and goes for yet another year. And it was another quiet day at home as usual. Our presents already been sorted anyway – my parents paid towards my TV, and I paid towards audio books for them. My Aunt, Uncle & Nan sent us clothes – tops mainly. And our builder and his family gave us presents as well – toiletries mainly, although Dad got an audio book on CD. Plus we had a nice Christmas dinner, with a Christmas CD I had put together playing in the background, and we did the same today as well of course.
On TV there was some decent stuff on last night for once. The Doctor Who special The Runaway Bride was excellent, and full credit to Catherine Tate for a great role as the bride. Tate’s sketch show isn’t very good, but she did well with the Doctor here. There were also great special effects as usual, including the Tardis chasing a taxi down the motorway and rescuing Donna (the bride) from it.
That was followed by the Doctor Who Celebration concert, which the BBC were running as one of their red button features, so it was looped over and over. That meant I was able to record it, plus the Confidential behind-the-scenes documentary about the concert that was shown earlier in the day. It was a very good concert too, the music in Doctor Who is first rate thanks to Murray Gold.
Then, to top that off, we had the first of the last ever Vicar Of Dibley episodes. And they’re still on top form, which is good to see. The final episode is on New Years Day, and Geraldine will finally get married! So I’m looking forward to that.
There have also been a couple of notable deaths in the past few days. Comedian Charlie Drake died aged 81. And James Brown, the “Godfather of Soul”, died aged 73. Other than that, I haven’t paid any attention to the news.
And that’s it really. Back to work for a few short days, and then it’ll be 2007!
Sunday December 31, 2006
There isn’t much to mention from the past few days, but here’s a final entry to give a recap of the year, which has absolutely flown by!
- I start the year having a good time with a couple of friends in Exeter, and meet up again with one of them at the end of the month.
- At home, we win £103 on the Euromillions draw, which we entered because the jackpot topped £100 million!
- Our builder works on the back bedroom and bathroom in our house.
- Charles Kennedy resigns and calls a Lib Dem leadership election, after admitting being treated for alcoholism.
- Crisp makers Golden Wonder go into administration.
- A bottle-nosed whale, native of the Arctic, gets lost and ends up stranded in the Thames. Sadly, despite efforts to save it, it dies.
- I have to call an engineer round for my JVC recorder again, as it goes wrong after our builder turns off the power in the house. He finishes his work in the bathroom, so the upstairs rooms are now done – which probably relieved the neighbours, who he didn’t get on well with, as his van blocked the parking for their 2 cars!
- Chip & PIN comes into force on Valentine’s Day.
- Doctor Who star and Little Britain narrator Tom Baker becomes the new voice of BT text messages (the voice reading them to you when sent to a landline phone).
- US Vice-President Dick Cheney accidentally shoots and wounds a lawyer while they are both quail hunting.
- America suffers its heaviest snowfall for 100 years.
- Finnish experts invent a real air guitar, using a camera and special gloves.
- The Rolling Stones play a free concert in Brazil.
- A lady who had the world’s first face transplant faces the media for the first time.
- After getting the power fixed, the hard drive on my JVC recorder fails again. Thankfully, it proves to be the last time this year that I need repairs. Dad’s DVD player/VCR also went wrong, so we went and got a new DVD Recorder/VCR for him. And the fridge needed attention. So it wasn’t a good month for electricals!
- On a happier note, I get three £50 Premium Bond cheques! And I finally get a new computer.
- Menzies (pronounced Mingis, or Ming for short) Campbell is the new leader of the Lib Dems.
- The Commonwealth Games get underway, and we do win a few medals.
- Comedian Linda Smith sadly dies from cancer at the age of only 41. Jack Wild, who played the Artful Dodger in Oliver, dies of mouth cancer at the age of 53. And Slobodan Milosevic, who was due to go on trial for war crimes, dies in jail.
- I get broadband for my new computer.
- I go to Birmingham with a couple of colleagues for IPEX (the International Printing Exhibition). And I get the new stuff for my PC at work – keyboard, monitor and magnification software – from Access to Work.
- There was also a strike over Government pension rule changes (especially over the 85-year-rule), but it didn’t affect our department much. The big pensions ‘A-Day’ also arrived, even thought nobody seemed to know about it. It basically allows people to put as much as they want in to their pension per month – the only limit is £1.5 million in your lifetime.
- The Queen celebrates her 80th birthday (her real birthday, not the other official one).
- Britain finds its first case of bird flu. Despite the panic in the media at the time, there’s been nothing about it for months. Blown out of all proportion as usual.
- Gnarls Barkley’s Crazy becomes the first single to go to #1 on downloads alone. And Gene Pitney dies aged 65.
- Doctor Who returns for a second series, even better than the first one. I also finish watching the box set of Only Fools and Horses on DVD.
- ITV launch their quiz channel ITV Play, as if we don’t have enough quizzes on the TV
- Selfridges launch an £85 sandwich, the bulk of the price related to special meat flown in from Chile.
- A 12-year-old girl has a successful operation on her heart to get it working again, after her body finally rejects a donor heart that had been implanted as a ‘piggy-back’ heart 10 years ago. The surgery worked, as her old heart had recovered enough in that time to work independently. One of the happiest stories this year.
- I go and stay with my friend in Exeter again for a quiz night at her local pub, with her new boyfriend and another mate of ours. She and I also go to Bournemouth to stay with my best mate for a few days.
- I go with a colleague to Manchester for a Mac training course. As interesting as it was, I can’t say I’ve had to make much use of it since, although I did learn some stuff. And I took the opportunity afterwards to use a Missing Manuals book to learn more about how to use Macs.
- I get an iPod Nano, which I’ve been very happy with. And I get blinds in my study too, so I can finally shut out the sun. There’s new blinds all over the house now, they’re very useful.
- Paul & Heather Mills McCartney split up, causing a media frenzy all year.
- Freddie of Freddie & The Dreamers dies, and so does Desmond Dekker.
- Finland win Eurovision with a strange rock band. We come 19th with our crap song, which attempted to use schoolgirls to make everyone vote. It didn’t work.
- The new Airbus A380 flew into Heathrow. It can carry the most passengers of any plane, as it has 2 floors inside!
- Guy Goma becomes an unintended celebrity after being mistaken for an expert to be interviewed on BBC News 24, when he’d only been at BBC TV Centre for a job interview! He’s taken it in good spirits though. He even made an appearance on Channel 4’s Big Fat Quiz Of The Year at the end of 2006.
- A colleague and I do a Health & Safety course at South Devon College.
- We get a new neighbour, although we haven’t got to know him that well, we only exchange quick hellos every now and again.
- The World Cup gets under way. We are knocked out in the quarter-finals.
- Red Dwarf star Craig Charles is suspended from his role in Coronation Street after being caught taking drugs.
- The Who perform in Leeds to launch their new tour, in the same venue as the original Live At Leeds album. The new gig gets rave reviews.
- Cadbury withdraws 1 million chocolate bars from shops over salmonella fears.
- A 176-year-old giant tortoise believed to have been studied by famed English naturalist Charles Darwin, has died in Australia after a short illness.
- I am surprised to meet an old school friend’s sister as my taxi driver a couple of times. But that’s it though, I haven’t seen her since. Perhaps it was temporary work. I also go and stay with my friend in Exeter for another weekend.
- The UK starts to bask in what turns out to be quite a long heatwave. It ends up being quite a nice summer, if a bit too hot sometimes.
- Series 2 of Doctor Who ends with an amazing finale. Farewell Billie Piper, you were fantastic.
- Italy win the World Cup. Beckham resigns as manager of the England football team. It was already well known that Sven Goran-Eriksson would resign after the World Cup.
- Little Britain star David Walliams successfully swims the English Channel for Sports Relief. The telethon raises over £12 million on the night, and its official song is a cover of Don’t Stop Me Now by McFly.
- Space shuttle Discovery docks with the International Space Station, the first time this has been tried since the Columbia disaster.
- Syd Barrett, a founding member of Pink Floyd, dies aged 60. Fred Trueman, a famous cricketer, also passes away.
- Top Of The Pops broadcasts its last ever show (not counting Christmas specials or the TOTP2 spin-off, both of which continue).
- A huge inflatable structure called Dreamspace comes free from its moorings in Chester-le-Street, killing 2 people in its path and injuring a 3-year-old girl.
- A strange scheme to trade a paperclip for a house actually succeeds, by trading items in sequence (swapping the paperclip for a fish-shaped pen, the pen for a ceramic doorknob, etc), all thanks to the internet.
- I turn 23! My main present is a box set of the James Bond films. By the end of the year, I’ve only watched 5 of them, so I’ve still got 15 to go (or 16 when the new Casino Royale film comes out on DVD).
- At work I get a new CCTV demonstrated by Humanware.
- I go to my Exeter friend’s housewarming party, and go to a curry and music night with her at her local pub.
- Intelligence services foil a plot to blow up planes between the UK and US. Chaos ensues at airports as security is tightened up a lot. Only very few items can be taken on board flights, and anyone carrying bottles of baby milk must drink a bit in front of security to prove it’s not contaminated with anything or is an explosive.
- Some passengers on a plane take security into their own hands, refusing to let their flight take off after getting suspicious about 2 men of Asian appearance wearing heavy clothing in the hot weather. The men were removed and it turned out they were safe. It’s the sort of panic terrorists want to cause.
- The set of the new James Bond film, Casino Royale, burns down at Pinewood. Thankfully the filming had already finished.
- The last cricket test for England v Pakistan is thrown into chaos after a row over Pakistan’s alleged ball-tampering.
- A mobile phone is invented that screams if it’s stolen, and will remember it was nicked even if the battery is removed and replaced.
- Plymouth hold the 10th British Fireworks Championships, finishing with a world-record 55,000 rockets released at the same time by a Plymouth University professor.
- NASA announce they have mislaid the original tape of man’s first moonwalk. The TV pictures everyone knows were filmed from a camera pointing to a large screen in NASA’s headquarters.
- And still on space, Pluto is demoted from its planet status, as it doesn’t fit any official definitions. So that makes all reference texts about space wrong now.
- I have a filling at the dentist.
- I go to a colleague’s wedding reception with other workmates, and we have a great time.
- Top Gear presenter Richard Hammond is critically injured during a high speed crash being filmed for the show. He was going at speeds of up to 300mph when the car just flipped over and over. He suffered a ‘significant brain injury’ but has made a phenomenal recovery since, and is now back to a pretty normal life. It looks like he’ll be back on Top Gear too. Donations also flood in to the air ambulance service who no doubt saved his life.
- Steve Irwin, the famous Australian environmentalist known as the Crocodile Hunter, is killed by a stingray barb while filming a documentary. He was only 44.
- Scientists in Australia are developing a bionic eye to help blind people see a bit better. It won’t help them see perfectly, of course, but may be of some use. It’ll be interesting to see what happens with that project, so to speak.
- Tapes of the BBC’s new (but not very exciting) adaptation of Robin Hood are stolen in Budapest, where it is filmed. It doesn’t affect transmission though.
- An artists produces a sculpture for Tom Cruise and Katie Holme’s new baby – a statue of the baby’s first poo (or stool, to be polite).
- Freddie Mercury would have celebrated his 60th birthday this month. I did order the CD & DVD box set plus a book. But I’ve still never received them. I did enquire via email once, to be told they were low on stock. But it’s been a good 4 months as I write this. I can’t be bothered to complain, seeing as they haven’t taken any money out of my account, thankfully. If they eventually decide to send it, great, but I won’t be shopping with Queen Online again if this is what they’re like now.
- Another anniversary is that of Danger Mouse – he turned 25, and I was mad enough to get the DVD box set, although it was pretty cool to watch them again.
- Scientists reverse the world’s first penis transplant after it doesn’t function as hoped and causes psychological distress for both the man and his wife.
- I go up to see my friend in in Exeter again.
- Our builder starts doing more work on our house, this time in the big living area downstairs.
- Mum and Dad have some trouble at the Abbey bank when the cashier’s machine chews up their passbook. They’re refused a new one because they don’t have all the identification, even though it was blatantly theirs. We write a complaint about that and a previous refusal for Mum to get a Chip & Sign card. They do get in touch to apologise, and do eventually send a new book and card.
- Controversy over women wearing veils causes a big stir this month. Jack Straw admits that he asks women to remove them when he sees them, and a Muslim teacher is sacked after refusing to remove her veil for English lessons. The issue is discussed at length for a long time, and Channel 4’s Alternative Christmas Message in December is presented by a veiled Muslim lady.
- Madonna adopts a Malawi child, but there are claims she was fast-tracked because of her celebrity status.
- Singer Katie Melua breaks the world record for the deepest underwater gig after performing on an oil rig.
- I have a great weekend in Bournemouth with my best mate for his birthday.
- I get a new LCD TV and surround sound system, partly paid for by my parents for Christmas.
- Dad has a successful cataract operation. It turns out his lens has to be removed completely, and cannot be replaced with an artificial one because of his eye condition. But glasses may help in the future. Even without them, he can see better than before, even if it is blurry.
- Saddam Hussein is sentenced to death at his trial, and he decides to appeal.
- The radioactive poisoning of a Russian spy in England becomes big news. The spy dies in hospital, and various people he was in contact with before his death are found to have traces of the radioactive substance.
- Children In Need raise a record £18 million on the night, including £2 million from Radio 2, double their own record.
- England and Australia start to battle it out in the Ashes, and we become a shambles over the couple of months that it goes on, losing all 5 tests.
- I enjoy a Christmas dinner and subsequent afternoon in the pub with my workmates, at the end of which I was quite merry. Not out of control, but I’d had quite a few!
- Dad’s recovery from his cataract operation continues to go well, and we have a nice relaxing Christmas at home. The Doctor Who and Vicar of Dibley Christmas specials mean that there is actually decent telly on Christmas Day.
- One of the two big news stories of the month was the murder of 5 prostitutes in Ipswich over a few weeks. A man is due in court charged with their murder.
- The other big story was the hanging of Saddam Hussein. It caused a lot of controversy, because mobile phone footage of his execution showed him being taunted by his executioners.
- James Brown, the “Godfather of Soul”, died this month, and so did comedian Charlie Drake.