Journal – January-February 2008

And so another year of journal entries gets underway. Well done and thank you if you’re still reading them! In these first couple of months I’ve had nice trips to socialise with friends in Exeter and bought some more DVDs, while on the downside I was struck down by the norovirus and we’ve had issues with our phoneline. Plus I’ve mentioned various news stories that have caught my eye as usual. So I hope you enjoy!

Sunday January 6, 2008

Happy New Year! Yet another one has sneaked up upon us.

For New Years Eve, after a very quiet day at work, I went up to H & B’s house in Exeter for a little party with the two of them. AB, AL and ST were also there. I was a bit late to see H & B’s baby, as he was already in bed by the time I got there. We all had a good time, eating the party food, playing games like Who Wants To Be A Millionaire? (a DVD version), and generally just having a good laugh. AL and I stayed with AB at her house that night, we didn’t crash at H’s place.

Nothing much to report for New Years Day really, although I had to get a new watch, as my old one literally fell apart, with the strap coming off completely. That watch was old though, so I did need a new one. This one hasn’t got a calculator, but it does have a light so you can see it in the dark, which is more useful for me. It has an alarm as well, and the numbers are nice and big, so it’s everything I need. I got the watch at H Samuel, one of the few shops which was open. The High Street was very quiet.

Since then, things have been pretty much back to normal. Most people are back at work now, although one colleague is still recovering from her foot  operation. And there have been jobs to do, mainly getting a letter ready to go out with some tourist guide mailings.

It’s been pretty quiet at home too, and Dad’s back to work as well after his Christmas break. TV’s back to being really boring now that Christmas has passed, but I have watched the final Vicar of Dibley episodes on DVD, so they were good. I still need to watch the Amazing Journey documentaries about The Who as well, I’ll do that soon.

News-wise, there’s been violence in Kenya after the elections were hit by allegations of corruption, and there’s still fallout from the assassination of Benazir Bhutto in Pakistan. Here, a form of the norovirus (a sickness and diarrhoea bug) has been sweeping the country, with people advised to stay at home and rest to let it pass, rather than spread it around hospitals, as they can’t do anything to treat it. And talking of hospitals, the Royal Marsden (a specialist cancer hospital) had to be evacuated after it caught fire. And talking of fire, a chip pan fire was put out with a pair of giant parachute knickers from M&S this week – they were the first thing the son and nephew found that was handy to do the job with while the mother was out!

That’s about all I can think of to start the year with really. Nothing too amazing I know, but it’s only just the start. Anything can happen over the course of a year, so we’ll just have to wait and see what delights this one has in store!

Sunday January 13, 2008

Well, it should have been a full week back at work last week. It started off well enough, with the Tourist Board finally sorting out the data for a letter we had to do for them, so we’ve now got that project running. That’s been the main job of the week really.

However, after feeling fine all day Thursday, late that night I suddenly came over all funny and needed to be sick – the first of 6 times during the night, followed by an attack of the runs as well. Basically, I’d caught the norovirus, the very infectious winter vomiting bug that’s sweeping the country at the moment. It’s closed lots of hospital wards, even though the only cure is just to rest and let it pass, which it does in a day or two, thankfully. After staying in bed nearly all day Friday, I was fine by Saturday morning. Although thousands of people have reported themselves as being infected, they reckon that adding in all the unreported cases like mine and Mum’s (yes, she got it on Saturday after me) adds up to over 3 million infections since December! But anyway, we’re all fine now, touch wood!

And in happier news, both Dad and I have won on the Premium Bonds this month! I’ve got two £50 cheques coming my way shortly but, even better than that, Dad got a cheque this week from ERNIE for £500! That’s the most any of us have ever won on that! We haven’t checked Mum’s bonds yet, so she may have won one or two small prizes as well, she often does.

In the news, the norovirus has continued to be one of the main topics. But as well as giving approval over new nuclear plants, the government’s also been in the news over donations yet again. Peter Hain has come under fire for not declaring all of the donations he received through a little known think tank that hasn’t really done anything. And in American politics, there’s a lot about the ‘primaries’ – voting for candidates – for the next US presidential elections, although I haven’t been paying a lot of attention. Not much else happening back here, although Reg Hollis has been axed from The Bill. Not that I’ve watched it for ages, but he was a good character. Jeff Stewart, who plays him, needed hospital treatment after not taking it too well, but he’s ok now, thankfully.

Sunday January 20, 2008

I’m happy to say the norovirus hasn’t returned this week, and Dad was lucky enough not to get it at all. Nobody else in work other than me and one other colleague seem to have had it either, although one or two of my section manager’s children got it apparently.

A guy called Glenn came in to do my regular assessment, which was simple as ever. I still need to book myself on to the ECDL (European Computer Driving Licence), so I really ought to do that. It is just for the CV though, as it’s so simple, having looked at the sample test papers online. I know it might be tricky for the inexperienced, I appreciate that, but I’m not going to learn anything from it personally.

At home, we’ve all won something on the Premium Bonds this month. Mum got £50, I got £100 (2 x £50) and Dad won £500 as I mentioned previously. So that’s good!

Apart from that, our downstairs phoneline has gone dead, so we’re trying to get that sorted out with BT, which isn’t entirely simple. To start with, we were told to check our main phone socket, as you can unscrew it to find a test socket. If a phone works in the test socket, it means the outside line is ok, and there’s a fault with our equipment. Anyway, after having to call our builder friend round to have a look for us, it turns out that line’s on an older style of socket. My new line upstairs does have the modern type, but it’s a separate line, so it’s not affected. So we were able to use my phone to call BT all this time, or Dad was phoning them from work.

BT like you to check your equipment yourself first, because their charges for sending an engineer out are astronomical, if it turns out the fault is with your equipment – it’s about £100 for the call-out charge, and then another £99 an hour, or something like that! Anyway, our builder verified that it was the outside line, so we eventually got an engineer to come out. He confirmed it wasn’t our equipment, so went down the road, going up the telephone pole first, and then looked at the box down at the far end of the street. Apparently there’s some fault between the pole and that box, so it’ll need an underground engineer to come and look at it, so he’s presumably arranging that now.

However, later that same day, we got a card through the door saying that an engineer had called, but we didn’t answer, and they need access to our premises! The thing is, Mum was in all the time, and would have heard if someone had knocked or rang the bell. And as the previous engineer had already been in our house, we’ve come to the conclusion that they’ve got their wires crossed. We’d made a couple of calls about the fault, so we think there might be two fault reports going along at once now! We’ll soon see anyway. It’s all a bit confusing, but hopefully it’ll be sorted soon. For now, Mum just has to rush upstairs and answer my phone if someone rings while I’m out!

In the news this week, a plane had to make a crash landing at Heathrow after it appears the power to the engines failed. Nobody was hurt though, with only a few passengers suffering minor injuries. And the heroic man who was at the controls of the plane, and made it land safely, was Senior First Office John Coward! Gordon Brown was flying out from the airport to China, in a different plane, so he praised everyone who helped out too.

There isn’t much to say about the PM’s Chinese visit, he’s just trying to get more trade with them and things like that. Our relationship with Russia isn’t quite so good though, after that scandal with the spy who died over here. The UK want him extradited, but Russia aren’t budging. They’ve even shut down two of our embassies now, saying Britain was running them illegally, even though we dispute it. So that’s going to keep rumbling away. As is the inquest into Princess Diana’s death, which is very boring to read about.

As for other little items, there’s been some more flooding after rain swept the country this week, Apple have created an ultra-thin laptop, scientists have created the darkest material ever, and Scotland are asking the US to overturn their ban on imported haggis (which has been in force since the BSE scare years ago, so only offal-free haggis is sold over there).

Sunday January 27, 2008

My colleague who had her foot operation is back at work, I’m pleased to say. Her foot’s still recovering, but she’s coping fine it seems. It was also our department manager’s turn to get the cream cakes in this week for his birthday, so they were nice. In terms of actual work, it did seem to get quite busy, including a survey and letters that had to be printed in multiple font sizes, and adjustments to some of our other projects. Nothing too thrilling to read about here, but it helps the time to pass by more quickly when there’s plenty to do.

At home, our phone is now working again. An engineer fixed the problem outside, but something still wasn’t right. It sounded like people were far away, and you could hear yourself echoing a little bit too in the receiver. So another engineer came out, and found that the old wiring in our house was also faulty. So we’ve now got new, up-to-date wiring, and the phone sounds clearer than ever. We might get charged for the work inside, but never mind. It needed fixing anyway, evidently.

I’ve ordered some more stuff from Amazon. First, I’ve ordered the new single by Queen + Paul Rodgers called Say It’s Not True. It had originally been released online for World AIDS Day, and it’s very good. But I wanted to get the CD as well, which has the video on it too.

Then for DVDs I’ve ordered a boxset of the 2 live Fast Show tours to complete my Fast Show collection, as well as Whose Line Is It Anyway? (Series 1 & 2), and a compilation of Saturday Live: Series 1, which stars comedians such as Stephen Fry, Hugh Laurie, Rik Mayall, Adrian Edmondson, Craig Charles, Ben Elton, and many others. Should be interesting to see if that’s any good.

In the news, the stock market’s been very volatile this week, shares plunging a fair amount because of all the credit worries. But a big fraudster has also been uncovered in a French bank, who managed to go undetected for a while, and some people have suggested he might have been responsible for some of the market worries. Share prices were also given a big boost by the US Federal Reserve’s shock announcement of an interest rate cut from 4.25% to 3.5%, it’s biggest cut in 25 years. Some see it as a panic move, and the Bank of England won’t do such as big a cut as that, but it seems to have helped a little bit. The Bank of England are reluctant to cut rates too much anyway, because their task is to keep inflation down, and that’s tricky.

Elsewhere, there are various other little stories, including:

Sunday February 10, 2008

Sorry I haven’t updated for a couple of weeks, but there really hasn’t been much worth mentioning. Work’s been ticking along as usual, the main fuss on Thursday and Friday being over cheque printing, which went wrong again, although nobody’s sure why yet. We eventually got it fixed though.

Back at home, that’s pretty quiet as well, although I’ve found out I’ve won another £50 on the Premium Bonds this month, now I’m remembering to check online! I’ve also received Saturday Live: The Best Of Series 1 on DVD, so I’ve started watching that. And it’s not bad. A bit dated of course, some of the jokes being political for the time (mid-80s), but it’s still interesting and funny. The other bits I ordered are coming, but in dribs and drabs it seems. They can’t get it all at once, but apparently the Queen single and the live Fast Show DVDs are on their way at least.

In the news, the Archbishop of Canterbury has made the big story of the week, by suggesting that elements of Sharia law should be incorporated into British law, which has angered a lot of people, including some senior Muslims.  The Archbishop wasn’t suggesting that it should be used everywhere, of course, just in cases where Muslims might prefer it e.g. divorces, family courts, etc. But given that a lot of Muslims themselves aren’t happy with it, it hasn’t gone down well.

Some of the other news recently has included:

My entry will be late next week, because my best mate S is coming down to Exeter on Sunday, for his eye appointment on Tuesday. So I’ll probably be staying with him at A’s place, meaning I won’t be back here until Wednesday. So they should be a fun few days. But until then, that’s all for now.

Wednesday February 20, 2008 

I’m back, after spending a few days with S & A in Exeter. We had a good time, it was nice to see one another again. We all met on Sunday at the bus station as S arrived, and took our stuff back to A’s flat. For tea that night, we went out to a Chinese restaurant, where I had a lamb dish for a change, which was lovely. Then we went back to A’s flat and played the QI interactive DVD game Strictly Come Duncing, which was good fun.

On Monday, we went over to The Globe, the pub near A’s flat. Not for alcohol, just for tea, coffee or Coke to start us off for the day – bearing in mind the pub opens at noon, so we had been our usual lazy selves! We ended up chatting to K and hearing a number of her funny stories. K and her friends are certainly fun characters it seems! So we spent longer in there than we intended, and eventually made our way down to Pizza Hut by mid-afternoon, and had our lunch there. Then we went bowling – and thankfully, despite it being half-term week, it was easy to get a lane. So we had a couple of games there. A won one (to be expected really, as she’s on the local disabled bowling team now) and S won the other (helped by getting 4 strikes during the course of the game!).

Later that evening, we went over to the pub, and I had a few games of pool against S, and then a few against A. Overall I won 8-1 (A was the winner of one), although I was being fluky as usual! We were drinking Olde English cider as well, which is lovely stuff. Then we got our tea from the fish and chip shop, and had that while watching a Mock The Week DVD, which is very funny, especially as it has bits they couldn’t show on TV!

On Tuesday, we went to KFC for lunch, one of our little traditions S and I wanted to keep up! So we had a deluxe boneless box between the two of us, while A got something else for herself. Then we went with S to the hospital for his eye appointment. His appointment was for 2pm, but he didn’t go in until 3pm. But once he was in, it didn’t take long. They want to see him again in 4 months, as his cataracts are getting a bit worse, which he knew as well, so they’ll probably have to operate on those. Which should be pretty easy, only they’ll have to be more careful with him because of the other problems he has, especially with his retina.

After that we went back to A’s and played Trivial Pursuit, which S won. Then we had our tea in Subway, where I had a footlong melt (meat and cheese in a 12-inch long bap), along with a bottle of Dr Pepper and a white chocolate cookie. Then we went to the pub again, and had a couple more games of pool along with more Olde English Cider, before getting some snacks from the shop and watching The Simpsons Movie on DVD back at A’s flat.

And then today I made sure S got his coach, as A had an appointment, which left me to my own devices. So I did a bit of shopping, getting Mother’s Day Cards for Mum and Nan, and some food shopping from Marks & Spencer, before heading home.

And that’s it really. A nice few days away, and now I get a nice short week at work – only two days! Hopefully nothing major’s happened while I was away. As for home, that’s pretty quiet too, but we’ve all won on the Premium Bonds again, including my £50, which I found out about at the start of the month on the website. But there hasn’t been much else happening here that’s worth mentioning.

I haven’t been paying much attention to the news in my absence, but there’s nothing too amazing going on as per usual. Fidel Castro has stepped down as the president of Cuba, because he’s too old and not well enough to do the job. Businessman and adventurer Steve Fossett has been declared legally dead, having now been missing for 5 months, after his plane vanished over the Nevada desert. A gunman caused chaos at a university in America, one of a number of shootings to have taken place recently. And back here in the UK, the Northern Rock bank is going to be nationalised after all. Like I said, nothing too amazing.

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 – January-February 2008”

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