Journal – June-July 2007

Following the excitement of my Spanish holiday, it’s back to regular life again for this next set of journal entries. I’ve combined 2 months together here, as I didn’t write a huge amount for either of them. But in amongst it all I did go out for a little social with my colleagues, bought some more DVDs, enjoyed the latest Doctor Who series finale, and I’ve talked about various news stories that have caught my eye. So I hope you enjoy!

Sunday June 10, 2007

I know it’s been a couple of weeks since I last wrote, but not much happened after my holiday that was really worth mentioning. I got my photos back today though, and was delighted to see that nearly all of them came out fine. The only ones that didn’t were the ones where I didn’t get the flash working right, but that doesn’t matter.

It wasn’t too bad going back to work after all. Plenty to keep me busy, but nothing to put me under pressure. In fact the cheque printing went live in my absence, and has been running pretty well. And so a group of us who had been working on it were invited to the Jolly Judge pub last Friday at lunchtime, for a drink to celebrate getting it finished. I had a pint of cider, which a colleague kindly bought for me. There were 6 of us altogether, and we had a nice chat and a laugh.

We’ve also had 2 birthdays at work this week. One colleague bought us all cream cakes for his birthday on Wednesday, as is the usual tradition. But then the other colleague, who was celebrating her 30th on Friday, decided to get ice-cream sundaes from McDonald’s for us. So I had a toffee sundae, and it was pretty nice. It’s the same ice-cream they use for McFlurries, of course, only this had sticky toffee sauce in it. So that made a nice change. The colleague in question is off to Tenerife for a week now.

There isn’t much to report from home either, it’s been pretty quiet the past couple of weeks. But I’ve finished watching the DVDs of Series 1 of The Two Ronnies and Series 2 of Monty Python, both of which are very good.

In the news, there’s still no sign of the missing girl Madeleine McCann, and I’m not sure if there ever will be, sadly, despite her parents going all the way around Europe to publicise it. It must be so hard for them. Elsewhere, Russia’s in a bit of a row with the US over the latter’s proposal for a missile defence system. Russia say it will be aimed at them, but the US deny that.

But here in the UK, there’s been a lot of fuss over the logo for the London 2012 Olympics. I mean, let’s be honest, it does look horrible, and there’s been widespread criticism of it. It’s apparently designed to appeal to young people, so it’s trying to look trendy. And the organisers hope it will become instantly recognisable and associated with the games. Which it will, in fairness – it’s not hard to forget it! Nevertheless, MPs have been calling for it to be rethought, which the Olympics people are resisting of course. It’s probably because they’re reluctant to waste another £400,000 – yep, that’s how much this strange design cost!

The embarrassment over the logo wasn’t the end of the story though. A promotional film on the Olympics website had to be pulled and re-edited after a scene caused over 20 people to have epileptic seizures! That really shouldn’t have happened. Although a relative minority, there are still a fair amount of people who have photosensitive epilepsy. And normally companies can avoid this happening.

A Harding test (named after the guy behind it) is used by many media companies, particularly television stations and advertisers, to check that their footage is not likely to affect photosensitive people. Indeed, there are specific rules set out by Ofcom regarding flashes and sudden changes of contrast in TV pictures. There can only be so many flashes a second, for instance. Not all flashes are banned of course – pictures showing flash photography are usually preceded by a verbal warning. So anyway, the Olympics people should have used that analyser, it was a silly oversight. 

Those are the only news stories of any real interest that I can remember. Things are back to normal once again now, but at least the sunny, warm weather seems to have followed me back from Spain. Nothing special is due to happen next week, other than a check-up at the dentist (great…). But for this week, that’s all I can think of.

Friday June 15, 2007

I’ve just got back from my second visit to the dentist of the week. Not for a bad reason though – he said on Monday they needed to give my teeth a bit of a clean, and today was the earliest opportunity. I also had some x-rays done on my teeth on Monday, as part of the check-up, and they were fine too. So I don’t have to worry about seeing them again until Christmas. The other good thing about it all is that I don’t have to pay. They’ve introduced charges, but I have an exemption certificate as part of my tax credits award. So that’s very useful.

Work’s been pretty quiet this week, no major emergencies or anything. Channel 4 visited a colleague’s house this week though, as part of a programme called A Place By The Sea. It’s one of those property shows that films people as they look around houses they might want to buy, and his was one of those being viewed. They weren’t being paid for it though, which surprised me, but I don’t think they mind. They just want to sell the house. I think the woman who Channel 4 filmed looking around did like it, but it’s a bit big for her maybe.

As for my home, there’s not much to report there. I did get another Amazon order this week though. I got a couple of comedy series – Dad’s Army (Series 9) and Monty Python (Series 3 & 4), all of which are the final series in each case, so those collections are practically complete (just some Christmas specials to get for Dad’s Army). I also got the third series of The Bill.

In the news, apart from the ongoing hunt for Madeline McCann, there’s also been some fuss over a Channel 4 documentary on the Diana crash, which showed pictures of her in the wreckage, although most of the images were obscured so as not to offend. Sony have also been in hot water after using Manchester Cathedral as the backdrop in part of a violent video game called Resistance: Fall of Man, so the Church of England aren’t happy. Sony say they did get all necessary permissions though.

Sunday June 24, 2007

It’s been a pretty quiet week at home and work again really. But I did win 2 £50 cheques on the Premium Bonds, which made a good start to the week! I went out to deposit them yesterday, and bought Casino Royale on DVD at the same time.

So I watched that film last night, and it’s not bad. It’s got some great action sequences as ever. It’s different from the other Bond films, but Daniel Craig does a good job. It’ll be interesting to see what the next film is, now they’ve done all of the books. Casino Royale was actually the first book, as it’s about Bond getting his double-0 status, but the rights were tied up with someone else until a couple of years ago.

The first part of Doctor Who’s big series finale began last night – well, it’s the second of 3 parts really, seeing as it got set up last week. And my god, it’s looking to be yet another great ending. John Simm (from Life on Mars) is playing The Master, and is doing a cracking job at it. It’s also good to see Captain Jack on board again. I can’t wait for next week, that’s all I can say!

As far as music goes, I downloaded Hank Marvin‘s latest album Guitar Man this week, and that’s good too. Not as great as some of his others perhaps, but still good.

There hasn’t been too much in the news this week. The rain’s been causing chaos with some places being flooded, including Boscastle, which got hit by flash floods again, 3 years after the last time. But the damage wasn’t anywhere near as bad, only a handful of properties being badly affected. The new flood defences seem to have worked, but then again, only about half the amount of rain fell this time compared to the first time. So the defences haven’t been truly tested, one could argue. The rain isn’t unexpected anyway, seeing as it’s Glastonbury weekend, plus Wimbledon’s getting started!

Other than the rain, Gordon Brown‘s been telling the media what he’ll be doing as our new Prime Minister, there have been protests in Pakistan over Salman Rushdie’s knighthood in the Queen’s Birthday Honours List (he wrote The Satanic Verses, which they say insults Muslims), and comedian Bernard Manning has died aged 76. So, as I said, there isn’t really much of interest.

Sunday July 1, 2007

Halfway through the year already! Where has it gone?

Work’s been pretty quiet. But the council are holding a sensory exhibition on Tuesday July 10th in Torquay, displaying products and services for people with sight or hearing difficulties. My manager has said I can go along to that, even though it’s in working hours, so I might do that. It’s something different, and it might be useful.

As for family news, Dad had an appointment to look at his eyes, and that went well. The good one, that he had the operation on, is doing very well indeed, and the pressure’s down to 10. The bad eye, that he can’t see out of, still isn’t in good shape of course, but I don’t think there’s a lot they can do about that one.

I must mention the Doctor Who Series 3 finale of course. It was another great one, featuring John Simm as The Master. A lot of elements laid throughout the series were all brought together beautifully and cleverly in the last few episodes, with some interesting revelations too, especially one concerning the Face of Boe. With great writing, emotional moments and action sequences, yet another series of the show has ended on a wonderful high note. Martha Jones appeared to leave at the end of the episode, which seemed to tie in with the tabloid rumours she was quitting. But it now transpires that she’ll be appearing in a few episodes of Torchwood before returning for the second half of Doctor Who Series 4. The Doctor is getting another companion for the whole of Series 4 though, so it’ll be interesting to see who that is.

Apart from all that, it’s been quite a big news week for the country as a whole:

  • Gordon Brown is now the Prime Minister, with Tony Blair having stepped down. Gordon’s selected his new cabinet, including more women (including the new Home Secretary), and people who have been chosen for their experience rather than just politics. We’ll have to see how well that goes.
  • The ban on smoking in enclosed public spaces starts today. Of course, this has angered many smokers, and pubs are afraid they’ll lose business. But I’m sure people will soon adjust. Similar bans elsewhere have worked out fine. And it’ll be nice to go into a pub and not come out smelling like one of the ashtrays.
  • 1,000 prisoners a week are to be released for a temporary period to ease overcrowding in jails. Those released are being selected carefully, we’re told, and it only applies to those who have 18 days or less remaining on their sentences. Still not an ideal solution, but the government have left themselves with little option really, despite the warnings over the years that jails would fill up.
  • 2 car bombs were found in London the day after Gordon Brown took over as PM. The first was spotted by chance outside the Tiger Tiger nightclub in Haymarket, by ambulance staff who went to the nightclub on a routine call. They noticed smoke coming from the vehicle and called police. One of the policemen had a look and noticed a mobile phone that could be used as a detonator, so bravely cut the wire and threw the phone out. It could have been just minutes from going off, so he was very heroic. The second car bomb was found in Park Lane. What’s more, a blazing jeep, also filled with gas cylinders, was driven into the terminal building at Glasgow Airport a day later. All the attacks are linked, the police have said. And the timing isn’t surprising – 1 day after Brown became PM, and days before the anniversary of the 7/7 bombings. However, the security services had no intelligence to say any of this was coming. Which was brave of them to admit. But they can’t know everything, however hard they try. And they do say they are infiltrating more and more terror networks, which I can believe. We don’t know half of the things organisations like MI5 are capable of doing.
  • Floods have continued to devastate many areas of the country as the bad weather has continued. Sheffield has been one of the worst hit areas. Many people have died too, including one man who drowned in a manhole he was working in after getting his foot stuck. The rain is expected to continue for a little while yet too.
  • Wimbledon has been a shambles – all of the Brits were out by the second round of the men’s and women’s singles. So that includes Tim Henman, which is hardly surprising in his case.
  • The Concert for Diana is being held today, on what would have been her birthday, and almost 10 years after her death. I’m not going to watch it – the music doesn’t look too exciting, and I’m not as obsessed with Diana as some are. But I’ll record it and see if there are any good bits. Status Quo and Duran Duran are there for instance, so they should be good at least.

Sunday July 8, 2007

Nothing too exciting to report on this week. At work it’s still pretty much business as usual. But one colleague was celebrating his 65th birthday yesterday (07/07/07), and instead of cream cakes he bought bacon rolls for us all instead, which made a nice change. And it’s been quiet at home too. We’ve won £10 on the lottery, which is nice, and Mum and Dad have had stuff delivered from Amazon, but that’s about it.

Not much on TV to shout about either. The Diana concert last week was ok, but nothing exciting. And the Live Earth gigs, held to try and get everyone to battle climate change, were nothing special either if I’m honest. They were billed as being the biggest global concerts ever, and maybe factually they were. But compared to Live Aid and Live 8, they weren’t very exciting. There were a few good artists like Genesis, Bon Jovi & Duran Duran, but not many otherwise.

The news this week has mainly been about investigations into the attempted bombings in London and Glasgow. Quite a few suspects have been arrested both here and in Australia, and all of them have links to the NHS, having either been working in UK hospitals, or having applied to work here. But the terror attacks haven’t stopped people from going about their daily business, such is our British attitude to things.

It’s the floods that people are most unhappy about, and with good reason. Some places still haven’t had all their water drained away yet, and there’s millions, possibly billions, of pounds worth of damage to clear up. So Gordon Brown’s government is being accused of not putting enough money in. Seeing the pictures on the news, it’s quite a desperate situation for many, so I can’t blame them. Some people won’t be able to go home for months, possibly even a year, which is horrible.

In sport, Wimbledon seems to be on track to finish on time, despite all the rain. Not that I’ve ever been interested, and especially not now there are no Brits left. Well, not in the singles anyway. We’ve got one Brit in the mixed doubles final, but that’s it. I don’t know which is more of a shower – the rain, or the Britons’ performances! But the real attention today will be on Lewis Hamilton in the British Grand Prix, to see if he’ll be the first Brit to win on their home circuit since it last happened in 2000. Hamilton’s had podium finishes in all the races so far, including a couple of top spots, which isn’t bad at all for his first season. Sure, I have little interest in Formula 1, just like I do for Wimbledon, but I still hope he does well.

Friday July 13, 2007

Yes, it’s Friday the 13th. But nothing bad has happened so far today or this week. In fact it’s been very quiet indeed.

On Tuesday I went to a Sensory Exhibition in Torquay, giving advice and promoting services for people with visual and hearing problems. Mind you, it wasn’t easy to see what each stand was about without getting up close, which seemed a bit strange. I picked up a fair number of leaflets and spoke to a few people, so it was quite interesting. But, given that I don’t need much at the moment, I didn’t feel the need to hang around for long. So after spending half an hour or so there, I went into town and had a look around the shops. I didn’t buy much, except for when I popped into Marks & Spencer‘s Just Food shop, where I got some roast chicken drumsticks and a steak pie to take home that evening.

Other than that, work has been pretty quiet, and so has home. We’re getting our new furniture next week though, at long last. So that’ll be interesting to see.

The news has also been pretty uneventful. The BBC have been in trouble a couple of times – they were fined for the Blue Peter scandal (faking a competition winner), and now they’re in hot water for showing journalists a wrongly-edited clip of a documentary about the Queen, which appeared to show her walking out of a portrait painting session, which was untrue. But there was also good news for the BBC this week, with Gaza reporter Alan Johnston finally being safely released by his kidnappers. Other than that, investigations into the bombing attempts have been continuing, as is the clear-up after the floods around the country.

Sunday July 28, 2007

Why has it been two weeks since I last wrote in here? There hasn’t been much worth mentioning, that’s why, so I figured I may as well save things for this week.

We’ve got our new furniture at home now. I’ve got Dad’s old chair so he can have his new one, plus I’ve got a new nest of tables. We’ve also got a new dining room table and sideboard, plus a new stand for Mum and Dad’s TV and DVD player. Mum and Dad have also been buying some bits from John Lewis online, like tablecloths and bins – and what a frustrating time we had on that site last weekend. It kept emptying the basket, forcing us to redo things. We eventually found that, strangely, it seems happy as long as you don’t go over 10 items (including multiples of one item, so 2 of one product would count as two). So we got there in the end, but it wasted half the afternoon!

I also won two more £50 cheques on the Premium Bonds this month! So I went out and put them in my account yesterday, topping up my mobile at the ATM at the same time. I also popped into Torquay though, following my stroll down the high street last week. I went to the M&S Just Food store again, as it seemed pointless going out just to put those cheques in, and got a couple of bags worth of stuff to bring home for us all – cakes, a fresh chicken, a couple of pies (Cumberland pie and a roast chicken pie) and some salad stuff for Mum and Dad.

The wider news has mainly been about the floods, and nothing has really superseded that. The waters are subsiding gradually, although there’s been widespread damage in many areas that will take a long time to clear up. There haven’t been any other major items of news that I can think of that interests me.

So that’s about it really. Nearly August already, so I’ll start looking for a mobile phone for my birthday soon. And it’ll be Mum’s birthday too of course. Plus, I might be going to visit my friend P for a few days if I can arrange it. So it should be a nice month – let’s hope the weather improves for it, and we get at least a few weeks of summer!

Author: Glen

Love London, love a laugh, love life. Visually impaired blogger, culture vulture & accessibility advocate, with aniridia & nystagmus, posting about my experiences & adventures.

One thought on “Journal – June-July 2007”

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