August 2021 Introduction:
It’s time to finish off yet another year of my old journal entries. So naturally this post includes mentions of Christmas and a recap of some of 2007’s highlights, along with a variety of news stories that caught my eye during the month. So I hope you enjoy!
Sunday December 2, 2007
I’ve been back at work this week, I’m pleased to say. I still wasn’t feeling perfect when I went back on Monday, but I’ve been getting better as the days have gone on. I still have a little tickle in my throat, but it’s going. It’s just taking its time about it! And it turns out my best mate had similar symptoms to me a couple of days after I visited him in Bournemouth recently, and he was actually sick, before feeling rotten just like me. So we’re wondering if it’s from something we ate while I was there. We don’t know if our other friend P, who was also with us, has been ill as well. One of us will ask him soon I expect when we next talk to him.
There isn’t much to report at work this week though. One of my colleagues is off because she’s recovering from her foot operation. She rang up work the other day, and I answered the phone, and she seems to be doing alright. She just doesn’t want to sit around doing nothing all the time I think, which is fair enough. She’s quite keen to be up and about again, which she will be soon I’m sure. And our manager’s back next week from his holiday in the Maldives, lucky devil!
There isn’t much else to mention at home either. My parents have decided that my Christmas present is going to be a nice new office chair though, which is a good idea – one with a nice high back that I can lean back and relax in, and with armrests too. So I’m going to have a look around for one this weekend and see what I can find. I just have to make sure I get the height right, of course!
In the news, there has been continued fallout from the discs scandal at HMRC. And there’s more fuss about donations to the Labour Party, after somebody donated through a few other people, apparently to maintain his privacy, but that’s actually illegal, as it must be clear who donations come from. Gordon Brown has certainly had his share of problems since he became Prime Minister, that’s for sure.
However, perhaps the biggest story this week has been about a teddy bear. A British teacher working at a school in the Sudan invited her class to name a teddy bear. And they agreed to name it after one of the boys in the class. All well and good – except that the boy’s name is Muhammad. And he was the one who suggested the name. Calling anything Muhammad is a big mistake in the Muslim world, as it is seen as an insult to the Prophet himself. So, after complaints from parents, she was arrested, and has now been sentenced to 15 days in jail, with protestors gathering to say she should be executed. Which is far too extreme to say the least. She should have been more careful, but she never meant any harm by it. And to be fair, Muslims in the UK have condemned her sentencing, realising that it was a mistake.
There isn’t much else of any real interest. Not long until Christmas though!
Sunday December 9, 2007
It’s been another normal week, although it’s clear Christmas is fast approaching. I’ve been helping to do a carol concert brochure at work, a job that a colleague normally does every year, but she can’t do it this time as she’s recovering from her foot operation. Our manager’s back from his holiday in the Maldives as well, and he had a great time by the sound of it. Plus we had more cream cakes, as it was another colleague’s birthday this time, and the arrears for our pay rise came through (cut down quite a bit by tax and other deductions of course). So there’s been a few little things happening, but it’s been quiet other than that overall.
Home’s pretty quiet too, not much to report other than spending a couple of hours doing our Christmas cards last night. I finally watched Die Hard 4.0 on DVD as well yesterday, and it’s a great film. Brilliant action sequences, and Bruce Willis seems much happier with it than the second and third films in the season, going by the interviews on there.
There are plenty more DVDs coming out soon too, so I’ll be doing another order this weekend. I knew there’d be loads coming out this time of year, so I’ll have plenty to watch for a while! I’ve also just bought another batch of Premium Bonds as well.
In the news, the Labour funding scandal has continued to rumble away. But the big news has been about John Darwin, a canoeist who was presumed dead 5 years ago when the remains of his canoe were found in the sea. But he walked into a police station last weekend, claiming not to remember anything. You’d think this would be a thrill for his family, but it turns out there’s more to it. His wife had claimed on the life insurance – perhaps understandable at first. But she was then spotted, with her husband, in a photo taken in Panama about a year ago (she’s also moved over there recently). So she knew he was alive after all. They didn’t tell their sons though, who are furious of course, and now don’t want anything to do with their parents. And now they’ve both been arrested, with the canoeist himself charged with obtaining life insurance money by deception and lying in order to get a passport. So it’s all been a scam. Quite why he should walk into a police station, therefore, is quite stupid, but there you go.
[2021 Update: A new ITV drama about this story is currently in production.]
So that’s been the main story of the week. A man from Paignton’s also been in the news though – he’s been ordered by a gentleman’s club he attends to stop farting, as it’s upsetting the other members! If he has to do it, he has to go outside. He understands that, of course, but you think he’d have had some sense in the first place!
That’s all for this week though. Better order my next lot of DVDs, and the Dad’s Army CDs Mum and Dad want for Christmas.
Sunday December 16, 2007
Work’s been quiet as usual this week, but we have won £10 in the lottery again, so that’s something. And our Christmas dinner is this coming Friday.
At home, we’ve received the new chair we ordered from Tesco for me to use with my computer, as that’s Mum and Dad’s Christmas present for me. It’ll let me sit back and relax while I listen to music, watch videos, etc. We’re having a little bit of trouble putting it together (the joys of self-assembly items!), but I’m sure I’ll be able to try it out soon.
I’ve also ordered another bunch of DVDs – including the last 2 episodes of the Vicar of Dibley, The Simpsons Movie, and a documentary set about The Who called Amazing Journey. I also watched the 5th Harry Potter movie (Order Of The Phoenix) last night, and that wasn’t bad. Very dark compared to the others, and perhaps not quite as great as the others, but it was still good. The last 2 will be the most interesting I’m sure.
In the news, there have been a few bits and pieces including:
- Led Zeppelin reformed for the first time to perform a concert in the O2 Arena (formerly the Millennium Dome). And from all the reviews and reaction I’ve heard, their massive 2-hour show was absolutely spectacular. It seems they still rock, and there are rumours there might be a tour, but that is only speculation. The concert was in tribute to a record producer who died a short time ago, and who had helped many acts, including Zeppelin, early on. So there were other performers on stage too, including Paul Rodgers and Foreigner. But Led Zep blew them all away apparently. So let’s hope the show gets released on DVD.
- A new EU treaty (the Lisbon Treaty) has been signed by all EU leaders – including Gordon Brown, even though he turned up after everyone else to do it, so he didn’t appear in the group photo. He claims he was busy, but it still got the media in a frenzy. The UK has a number of opt-outs on certain parts of it I think anyway. The new treaty replaces the failed EU Constitution.
- There was uproar in Australia after a judge decided not to jail 9 men for raping a 10-year-old girl in an Aboriginal community, so all of their recent cases are now being looked into. The judge’s argument? The girl probably gave consent. How stupid is that judge? The girl was 10!
- A man got locked in the toilet for 4 days at his bowling club after the door handle came off! He was rescued after a cleaner heard his cries for help. He didn’t have a mobile phone, and used tap water for refreshment and heat. He was said to be none the worse after his ordeal.
Other than all that, there’s nothing I can really add. Just one more relatively normal week at work, apart from the dinner on Friday, and then it’ll be Christmas!
Sunday December 23, 2007
Well, it’s nearly here, just two days to go. The last week at work has been business as usual for the most part, but Friday was different of course. In the morning we had a little draw for some goodies we’d been given – and I won a nice big box of Belgian chocolate biscuits! I haven’t bought them home yet though, as I didn’t want to carry them around while we were having our Christmas dinner.
The Christmas dinner was at the Ocean Drive restaurant, which I’d never been to before. But it’s a nice place, and we were upstairs with a group from the Post Room on another table nearby. Our manager has been off ill, so he couldn’t come, but the colleague who recently had a foot operation did make it, thanks to another colleague picking her up, and she was very happy to see everyone. And she seems to be recovering well, which is good.
The meal itself was nice too, and all the food and drink was paid for from the winnings of our lottery syndicate during the year, which was handy! For starters I had soup, which was fairly hot because of the peppers in it. Turkey, potatoes, sprouts and other veg came next of course, and then for afters I had cheesecake. And it all tasted lovely, so I’d go back there again another year if they decided to. Apparently they used to go to that restaurant quite a lot before they decided to try other places each year. As for drinks, I had a couple of pints of cider and a couple of glasses of wine, but that was it.
Anyway, it was a nice little get-together for a few hours, but we didn’t go anywhere for drinks afterwards. Most people had to go their own separate ways, so I dropped a colleague off near home in my taxi on the way back. And that was that, it was an enjoyable day.
Then yesterday I went shopping in Torquay, as I needed to pop out to put in Mum’s latest £100 Premium Bonds cheque and get a few little things. I had a slow wander around all the shops, but my main port of call was the Marks & Spencer Just Food store. I picked up some roast chicken legs, a nice big chocolate cake, and a chocolate Swiss roll. And I also popped into Tesco. We haven’t been able to get a Tunis Cake this year, sadly, but I did pick up some puff pastry mince pies instead.
I also received my latest set of DVDs this week, as listed in my last entry. I’ve just finished watching Doctor Who: Series 3, so just need to wade through the extras now! And the Christmas Special is looking great from the previews.
Nothing much else to report from home really. But AB has invited me to go with her to a party at another friend’s place on New Year’s Eve, so that should be interesting. It appears there should be trains on New Year’s Day, so I should be ok getting back again. Let’s hope so!
As for the news this week, the biggest story seems to have been around Fairytale Of New York by The Pogues & Kirsty MacColl, arguably the best Christmas pop song ever (apart from Slade’s big hit perhaps). Why? Well, Radio 1 decided to censor it, cutting out certain words in case they caused offence. The backlash to this was astonishing, with message boards flooded with complaints, the anger becoming so widespread that Radio 1 backtracked and agreed their decision was wrong. They’d been reviewing songs for inappropriate lyrics they perhaps ought to remove, and that had become one of their targets.
There haven’t been any other major stories this week really. Tony Blair has now officially converted to become a Catholic, the collapse of a holiday firm has left 40,000 people without their holidays (including Christmas trips), there are calls for paying for sex to be made illegal in the UK, a Manchester United player is arrested on suspicion of rape after a party, Lewis Hamilton is arrested for speeding, and scientists appear to have debunked the myths that your nails grow after you die and that shaving hair does not make it grow back faster and darker. Those are the sort of stories that have been knocking around, but nothing too amazing.
So that’s all for today. I’ll be in for half the day at work tomorrow, just in case I’m needed for anything, as my section manager’s off for the next couple of weeks. And then it’ll be Christmas Day already. How time flies!
Sunday December 30, 2007
Another year’s flown by as quickly as ever. It hasn’t brought any major changes in my life, but that’s good in a way, it’s just made for a nice year. Still, Nan did turn 100, which was a pretty big thing!
Work’s been very quiet this week, with only a few of us in the office, so we left early on the 3 days we were there (24th, 27th & 28th). It was certainly very quiet in the studio area with me being the only one in there. But people did pop in, and I was needed to help out with a couple of things elsewhere, so my time wasn’t wasted. It’s nice to get paid for not doing much anyway!
At home we had a lovely Christmas dinner as usual, and the chocolate cakes we bought from M&S were delicious! My Aunt, Uncle and Nan sent us clothes for presents – I got a fleece, socks and handkerchiefs, which are all useful things to have. My big present from Mum & Dad was that office chair of course, although as we’ve had a bit of trouble putting it together, I’m still not able to use it quite yet! And on the telly, Doctor Who was brilliant as per usual, with Kylie Minogue doing a great job as the guest star. Harry Hill was also on to provide some good comedy on Christmas night with TV Burp. Other than that though, the TV hasn’t been too exciting, but then I had expected that. Same old films and depressing soaps and stuff like that.
In the news, the big story this week has been the assassination of former Pakistani PM Benazir Bhutto, who was respected by many Pakistanis. So that’s caused a lot of unrest and violence in that country.
Back here in the UK, the New Years Honours have been announced as always. Plenty of deserving members of the public and armed forces were honoured, as should be the case. Celebrities and other famous faces were also honoured too of course, including Michael Parkinson (knighted), Kylie Minogue (OBE), M&S boss Stuart Rose (knighted), Des Lynam (OBE), Julie Walters (CBE), Leslie Phillips (CBE), Richard Griffiths (OBE), BBC journalist George Alagiah (OBE), former athlete and broadcaster Brendan Foster (CBE), snooker player John Higgins (MBE), and Ian McKellen (Companion of Honour, an exclusive award limited to 65 members, including the Queen).
And that’s it for another year. After work on New Year’s Eve I’m going with AB to a party at another friend’s house, so it’ll be interesting to see him after all this time, along with others who are going.
But to finish this entry, as always, here’s a recap of some of the things that have gone on this year.
- I visit a few friends in Exeter for the New Year.
- At home, our builder does more work downstairs, including the hallway and stairs.
- Mastermind presenter Magnus Magnusson dies aged 77.
- Celebrity Big Brother becomes a massive subject on the news after racist remarks were made against Shilpa Shetty, a Bollywood actress, by other contestants.
- The MSC Napoli cargo ship becomes stranded off the coast of Branscombe after getting into difficulty. Some containers of items wash up on to the beach, with scavengers nicking anything they could get their hands on – everything from nappies to motorbikes!
- I go up to Blackpool with my best mate to help him out at a student conference there.
- I visit my friends in Exeter again, including a little trip down to Exmouth. The friend I was staying with has a new cat called Sally.
- Dad goes back to work after being ill the previous year.
- A train crash in Cumbria kills at least one person.
- Doctors use Viagra to save a premature baby’s life after all else seems to fail.
- Britney Spears shaves her head bald as a result of serious personal problems.
- Our builder comes back to finish off some more little jobs at our house.
- Scandals about premium-rate phonelines for TV programmes and competitions start to come out, the first being Richard & Judy’s You Say We Pay quiz, where the contestants were picked before the lines were closed. Lots of scandals for shows on all 5 terrestrial channels are uncovered after that.
- A girl becomes the first ever fatality on the Ten Tors event.
- Bob Woolmer, former England cricket captain and Pakistan coach, is murdered.
- Unusually high levels of silicon affect petrol supplies, causing cars to break down.
- 15 Royal Navy personnel are captured by Iran authorities after it’s claimed they trespassed on their waters, which it seems they didn’t. Some of them are made to write letters and appear on TV saying they were in the wrong, but it’s clearly seen as propaganda on Iran’s part by everyone else.
- John Inman (Mr Humphries in Are You being Served?) dies aged 71.
- Comic Relief raises over £40 million by the end of the night.
- I go and stay with friends in Bournemouth and Exeter.
- All the Navy personnel captured by the Iranians are released.
- 32 students are shot at a university in Virginia. The gunman kills himself, and had serious mental issues it turns out.
- Prince Harry splits up with Kate Middleton.
- GMTV produces the biggest phone-in scandal so far this year, with people having wasted thousands of pounds calling competitions when they had no chance of winning.
- I go on holiday to Spain with my Exeter friends for two weeks.
- Tony Blair announces his resignation as PM, to take place in July, which everyone knew would happen before the next election, so it was just a question of when.
- Madeleine McCann is kidnapped from an apartment in Spain while her parents are out having a meal with friends (although they were checking on her and their other 2 children regularly). Despite heavy campaigning throughout the year, and the Portuguese authorities even making the parents suspects, the girl still hasn’t been found.
- Cheque printing goes live at work at last, so those of us involved in it meet up for a drink.
- The 2012 Olympics logo is unveiled – and there’s a lot of fuss about it because a lot of people think it’s rubbish. I know my opinion hasn’t changed six months later! They’ve kept it though. But they had to remove and re-edit a promotional film on their website after it triggered at least 20 people to have epileptic seizures! They didn’t take appropriate steps to avoid that happening.
- Rain causes flooding in quite a few areas around the country.
- There are protests in Pakistan after Salman Rushdie (author of The Satanic Verses) is knighted in the Queen’s Birthday Honours List.
- Comedian Bernard Manning dies aged 76.
- I got to a Sensory Exhibition in Torquay, which was giving advice and promoting services for people with visual and hearing problems. Nothing very special in the end, but worth a look nonetheless.
- Gordon Brown becomes Prime Minister following Tony Blair’s resignation.
- Two car bombs are found in London shortly after Gordon Brown starts his post, but neither detonates. A blazing jeep is driven into Glasgow Airport a day later, but doesn’t explode thankfully. All the attacks were linked.
- Another scandal on the TV – not a phone-in, but a wrongly edited trailer for a documentary about the Queen, which appeared to show her storming out of a session with a photographer, but that wasn’t the case at all.
- Floods continue to devastate many areas of the UK.
- Smoking is banned in public places in the UK.
- All the Brits are out of the men’s and women’s singles tournaments at Wimbledon by only the second round!
- 1,000 prisoners a week are released from jail under a new scheme to try and reduce overcrowding.
- The Concert for Diana is held at Wembley, although it’s nothing too exciting. Nor are the Live Earth gigs, despite being billed as the biggest global concerts ever. Despite being designed to promote climate change and global warming, and how to prevent it, people are rather cynical because of all the power involved for the equipment, transport and billions of television viewers tuning in, plus all the performers flying over in their private jets to get to the concerts!
- Mum and I have our respective birthdays this month of course. I’m now 24! And my parents pay for me to get a new mobile phone, to replace my 7-year-old one. I also meet my friends in Exeter on my birthday weekend, and we go out for a meal together.
- I go and stay with my mate in Portsmouth for a long weekend.
- A road bridge buckles and collapses into the Mississippi River, tossing cars and people into the water.
- Prison officers go on a surprise one-day strike over pay.
- Memorial services are held for the 10th anniversary of Diana’s death.
- Foot and mouth disease returns to farms in the UK, although thanks to the controls in place, it doesn’t become as widespread as the previous outbreak.
- My employer issues a reshaping report. It’s unclear if our department will stay, but the signs are reasonably promising at the moment. Outsourcing is an option though.
- As a result of credit problems starting in America’s sub-prime mortgage market, the Northern Rock bank in the UK gets an emergency cash injection of billions from the Bank of England. Believing the bank to be in trouble, customers scramble to withdraw all of their money. The bank never actually closes down, and at the time of writing this recap, it may be sold to Branson’s Virgin group.
- Monks in Burma mount a massive protest against their government.
- The source of the foot and mouth outbreak is traced to faulty drainage at a laboratory near where it was discovered.
- Bluetongue becomes the latest disease to hit farms, but that is pretty well contained as well.
- Opera singer Pavarotti dies from cancer aged 71.
- The manager of Chelsea football club resigns, which is the main headline news for a day, despite all non-football fans not caring.
- England win their European Football qualifier, a Rugby World Cup qualifier and a cricket match against India, all on the same day! That’s good going for us!
- Strikes take place at the Royal Mail – two 48-hour walkouts, not far apart.
- There’s another hat-trick of victories for England. We win 3-0 against Estonia in the Euro 2008 qualifiers, our cricket team win the latest series against Sri Lanka, and our rugby team get into the World Cup final (but we lose that to South Africa).
- Lewis Hamilton, a rookie in Formula 1, finishes the season in second place. He probably would have won it if his car hadn’t had problems in the last race.
- Wildfires in California force over 500,000 people to flee their homes.
- Nan turns 100! So we go and stay with her in London for that weekend. I also stay with my best mate in Bournemouth for his birthday.
- I fall ill and have a week off work sick for the first time since I started there. But on the plus side, our pay rise (2.475%) for the year is finally agreed.
- 2 CDs go missing from Her Majesty’s Revenue & Customs (HMRC), containing details of all child benefit claimants.
- The King of Saudi Arabia comes on a state visit to the UK, despite concerns about human rights issues in his country.
- The police are found guilty over the shooting of Jean Charles De Menezes, killed after being mistaken for a suicide bomber following the 7/7 attacks last year.
- Heather Mills and Paul McCartney’s divorce proceedings start in court, although she also gets herself some publicity in the media.
- England fail to quality for Euro 2008, leading to the sacking of Steve McLaren, the England manager. It’s a big deal for England not to be in the finals, not just for the fans, but also for the sponsors and media who rely on England to be there.
- We have our work Christmas dinner, which was a nice meal.
- There’s more fuss about donations to the Labour Party, after somebody donates through third parties to keep themselves anonymous, which isn’t allowed.
- Former Pakistan PM Benazir Bhutto is assassinated, causing unrest in the country.
- A British teacher is arrested in Sudan after inviting her school children to name a teddy bear – as the child in question called it Muhammad, which is seen as a big insult to the Prophet by the Muslim community there. So she is jailed for 15 days, but released early after negotiation with the British government.
- A new EU Treaty (the Lisbon Treaty) has been signed by all EU leaders – although Gordon Brown signed it after everyone else.
- Tony Blair officially converts to Catholicism.
- Canoeist John Darwin, presumed to have died 5 years ago when his wrecked boat was found, turns up out of the blue. And it turns out his wife knew he was around, so they’ve now been arrested for falsely claiming life insurance and lying to get a passport. Even worse, their sons didn’t know about the whole scam, so they don’t want to see their parents ever again.
- There is uproar in Australia after a judge decides not to jail 9 men for raping a 10-year-old girl in an Aboriginal community, so all of their recent cases are now being looked into.
- A man gets locked in the toilet for 4 days at his bowling club after the door handle comes off.
- Led Zeppelin reform for the first time in ages to perform at the O2 Arena (the former Millennium Dome), in a concert held as a tribute to a former record producer. There were other artists there too, but Led Zep were the big headline act, and were absolutely amazing by all accounts. So here’s hoping for a DVD.
- Radio 1 has to backtrack within a day, following a mass of complaints, after they censor the lyrics in Fairytale Of New York by The Pogues.