Journal – October-November 2008

Welcome to another set of my journal entries. I’ve combined 2 months together here as things have been fairly quiet, particularly in October, and as a result I’ve often left it two weeks between posts. That said, however, I did stay with my friend in Exeter a couple of times, I’ve been busy at work, I’ve enjoyed various things on TV including Children In Need and a special royal comedy show, and lots of news stories have caught my eye, including the fallout from the prank calls made to Andrew Sachs. And there’s also been a surprise trip arranged for December. So there’s plenty here overall, and I hope you enjoy!

Sunday October 5, 2008

I know it’s a couple of weeks since my last entry, but there wasn’t too much to report last week, even after staying with AB for the weekend – she gave me my money back, and she’s still looking at possible places to stay in Spain next year. Other than that, she’s fine, and we didn’t do anything special. And as for this weekend, I popped out to get my hair cut yesterday. The barber’s been working there 25 years as of Friday, can you believe it?

Work this past week has been fairly busy though, as I’ve been covering for a colleague while he’s on holiday in Majorca, and he’s off again next week. Another colleague was also off, so it was just me and a female co-worker – and, in fact, only me on Monday, as she has Mondays off now that she’s part-time! Anyway, I managed to get on with jobs pretty well, after taking a couple of days to really get back into the swing of it all again. And then I managed to get a rotten cold from somewhere, although I still kept going in to work (thankfully it’s almost gone now). Next week we’ve got a young guy starting on work experience with us for a little while, so that’ll be interesting. He seems nice enough from when he popped in briefly the other day to say hello.

Nan’s also doing alright in London, although she did have a funny turn a couple of weeks back. She had some strange nightmare about being in a lino factory or something like that, and was very dazed when my Aunt found her sitting on the stairs, not knowing what was happening or who my Aunt was! But now she’s rested a bit, she’s doing alright again, so we don’t know what that was about. They didn’t get a doctor in because Nan didn’t want them taking her to a care home or something like that. Anyway, my Aunt’s still keeping a close eye on her, and she’s also got her a microwave now, as her cooker’s finally had its chips, so to speak! It’s very easy to use, with a few simple buttons and a loud bell when it’s finished cooking, so it’s ideal really.

As for the news, that’s still about the chaos in the financial markets. Bradford & Bingley has been nationalised, although Santander (who own Abbey and the Alliance & Leicester) have taken over the savings side (they’ve sensibly avoided the debts!). And in the US, a $700bn bail-out package for their financial institutions finally went through after a lot of wrangling and one failed vote – they had to sweeten the deal with incentives such as tax breaks to get everyone to agree to it. So the economy’s still in a very rocky phase at the moment. But the Financial Services Authority here in the UK have upped the protection on savings held by people to £50,000 per institution, compared to £35,000 before.

Elsewhere, Californian search teams finally found the wreckage of Steve Fossett’s plane, with the remains of his body inside – the adventurer had disappeared on a solo flight in September last year in a mountainous area. And back here in the UK – in the world of politics, Gordon Brown has brought back Peter Mandelson in a surprise move that has been criticised by a number of people, given the controversies surrounding him in the past. And in not very cheerful celebrity news, actor Paul Newman has died aged 83, and Wendy Richard is sadly dying of cancer. 

But to finish on a cheerful note – Torbay’s lifeboat crew won the Pride of Britain’s Emergency Services Award this week, for a very brave sea rescue. So that’s something to be proud of, although they are being naturally modest about it of course. So well done to them!

Sunday October 18, 2008

There wasn’t too much to write about last week, so I thought I may as well save the next entry for this week instead.

At work, my colleague’s now back from holiday, and he had a nice time despite the weather being pretty wet most of the time! We’ve also had a few people come in on work experience. One is studying to be an architect, and came in the week before last. He’s a nice enough guy, but not very proactive, nor was he very interested in what was going on, and we couldn’t really give him much to do. But the others were 2 girls, currently in Year 11 at school, one of whom is the daughter of a guy we know in the IT department. They spent most of this week working on a small newsletter to advertise their scout troop. They really enjoyed doing it, and were very interested in everything they were shown, so they were good to have around.

As for home, I went down to Plymouth yesterday to get a few bits and pieces, including a cake for Dad’s birthday, some birthday cards for Nan and my Aunt, and some large print calendars, among other things. And I’ve got a few more Premium Bond cheques to put in shortly – two for £50 and one for £100!

Talking of money, of course, the credit crunch is still very much in the news. Iceland’s major banks all went down the tubes during the past couple of weeks, and it transpired that councils, charities, companies and members of the public all had savings deposited with them, which the government are now trying to get back. Deals have also been made in the UK between the government and some of our own big banks, part-nationalising them in effect, but just to make sure they stay afloat during the current economic crisis. All of these decisions seem to be raising Gordon Brown‘s popularity a little bit too. And in America, the presidential candidates Barack Obama and John McCain have still been having their debates. So the news has been very political and very focused on the markets, with shares and finances on quite a rollercoaster ride – all doom and gloom really!

In what other news there is, Ringo Starr is no longer going to accept and reply to fan mail according to a video he posted on his website, Madonna and Guy Ritchie have broken up, a British man and woman have been jailed for 3 months in Dubai for having sex on a beach, and a man killed his wife after she changed her Facebook profile to say she was single just days after splitting up with him (as an aside, someone I know from school keeps texting me sometimes to join that site, but I really can’t be bothered!). So none of it’s too cheerful really!

Sunday October 26, 2008

I’ve just got back from another weekend in Exeter with AB. We had a drink in The Globe on Friday, before going to Subway for a bite to eat there, and then on to another pub called The Brook Green, which was a nice place, and it was fun watching the pub owner’s dog and one of the customer’s dogs getting playful together! I think that might be one of AB’s new regular pubs. The Globe is changing hands, and the new owner hasn’t been very popular with the regulars, after sacking all the staff and claiming they’d had trouble with the regulars, and also getting rid of most of the bands too. It’s going to be a bit more of a sporty pub with darts and pool teams, and maybe even a football team, apparently. But anyway, AB and the others aren’t happy about it, and understandably so to be fair to them.

On Saturday we met up with ST, who’s in a nice new flat just a couple of streets away from AB now. She was fairly close before, but it was a little bit more out of the way to get to, so it’s much easier to see her now. And it looks like a nice place. She’s still getting on alright in her job too, which is good. Anyway, the three of us had a drink in The Globe, then had lunch in KFC after one of AB’s friends in the pub gave us some money off vouchers we could use there. After that, we had a little walk around town, and then popped along to another pub, where we decided to have a non-alcoholic cocktail each, which were nice – but we then glanced at the menu and got tempted by the puddings, so had one of those each too! The butterscotch and toffee sponge with custard was very tasty indeed!

ST made her way home not long after that, so AB and I went back to The Globe and had a couple of drinks there, while we waited for her boyfriend AL, who turned up just after 8pm. He’s doing well too, and has also just got a new place to live. The three of us stayed in the pub for a little while, having a few drinks and watching the band, who played some good stuff – T. Rex, Del Shannon, The Kinks, The Buzzcocks, Radiohead, etc. AL then went back to the flat, while AB and I went to Pizza Hut and got a couple of pizzas, and we got stuck into those before going to bed.

And then today, after the clocks went back last night, we all met up with ST for lunch at the local Indian restaurant AB has become fond of, and rightly so. She took me there last time I stayed with her, while AL and ST had also been taken there by AB before. So I had a lamb madras, which was hot and very nice! ST then went home to do some washing and cleaning ready for work tomorrow, and I had a walk around town with AB and AL, before making my own way home. And that was that really, another nice weekend. Next time I go back will be for AB’s birthday by the look of it, in mid-November.

As for work, my section and department managers went on a course for our new large format printing machine in Walsall, so they were able to come back with some extra tips on using it. And we’ve also started having new lighting put in – they finally came around and measured it the other week, and it was well below what it should have been. One of my co-workers has been struggling for years I think, especially so now her eyes are getting quite bad. But the new lights they’ve put in make a big difference, and there’s a few more to go in next week as well.

At home, Dad’s got a new mobile phone now, which we ordered from the RNIB. It’s a Doro model that we saw advertised in the Radio Times to begin with. It simply makes and receives calls – no texts or any other fancy stuff. It has large print buttons that light up and a clear screen too. He’s got a new number, as he’s now with T-Mobile (we couldn’t switch his old SIM card across). So he’s happy with that, and was able to make a call to me very easily after getting some money put on to it, with the top-up card he can use in the shops. Apart from that, next weekend I’ll put my latest Premium Bond cheques in and do a bit more shopping, probably in Torquay this time around.

The news is pretty much all about the credit crisis and the recession we’re in of course – and yes, the word recession has been used pretty much officially now, after people were warning it would happen for weeks. So it’s all doom and gloom, which the media love of course. But it does get pretty boring to hear about, it must be said. Other than that, some other stories have included a family of 6 being killed after their car collided with a lorry and exploded on the M6, while on TV there was concern for Kerry Katona’s health after she was heard slurring on This Morning (but it was because she had been late in taking some prescription drugs). And on the motoring front, some engineers are trying to build a car that will smash the world speed record by going at over 1,000 mph!

And that’s about it. Next weekend I’ll go out and do a bit of shopping as I mentioned earlier, and we’ve got Nan’s birthday coming up soon, as well as birthdays for a couple of my friends for that matter. And then it won’t be long until Christmas – and yes, it’s already being advertised and sold in the shops! So we’ll see what I end up buying – there should be plenty of nice tempting things out there!

Sunday November 9, 2008

Another couple of weeks have gone by I know, but there hasn’t been an awful lot happening at home. I went shopping last week though in Torquay, to get a few boxes of Christmas cards and a few other bits and pieces. And we did win two £10’s on the Lottery the weekend before last, which was a nice surprise!

Work’s much the same as ever too. I’ve signed up for the Advanced Word ECDL, which seems easy enough. The most interesting module will probably be the database one, but they’re not doing that yet. It’s just Word to begin with. And in terms of actual jobs, we’re doing quite a few bus stop advertising posters on our large format machine. Meanwhile, our department manager’s gone on holiday to Perth in Australia, lucky him!

Actually, talking of holidays, it sounds like we might have finally made a decision on ours. AB has been working on where we should go for weeks now, and from an initial possible group of over 10, we’re now down to 5. Currently it looks like we’re going to Torremolinos after all. Which is fine by me, I’m just waiting to see if this is definitely the final decision!

The news, on the other hand, has been very busy lately. 2 weeks ago, the big story was not the credit crunch, but a series of messages left by Russell Brand and Jonathan Ross on the voicemail of Andrew Sachs (best known as Manuel from Fawlty Towers). These made lewd and offensive comments about his granddaughter, Georgina Baillie, and were broadcast on Russell’s Radio 2 show. Only 2 people complained at the time, but after the Mail on Sunday publicised it, and the rest of the media got hold of it as a result, the BBC got over 40,000 complaints in the end, and even Gordon Brown spoke out to say it was unacceptable.

The row wasn’t just about them making the calls in the first place, but because the show was actually pre-recorded, heads have also rolled because it was cleared for broadcast as well. The controller of Radio 2, Lesley Douglas, has therefore quit, and so has Russell Brand. Meanwhile Jonathan Ross has been suspended without pay from all BBC programming for 12 weeks, so he’ll be back in mid-January. Not that he can’t afford to be suspended given his salary of course, but it’s still been made clear that it’s a final warning for him. I won’t mind seeing Jonathan back on TV again, but Russell Brand doesn’t appeal to me, he’s just bizarre rather than funny.

And then, this week, we’ve had the US elections dominating the headlines for a few days. Barack Obama has become the first black president (he’s mixed race – African-American – having been born in Hawaii to an American mother and a Kenyan father). So Americans, and the world, are very hopeful. Between him and John McCain, Obama was easily the better man – he had the personality and the financial resources to really make a good campaign, and McCain struggled all the way to fight that.

The other big story this week is the Bank of England slashing interest rates by 1.5% to try and help the banks get lending again – although it’s the inter-bank LIBOR lending rate that really needs to come down, but they don’t have so much control over that. So hopefully the banks will pass on some of the interest cut, as well as lending to each other again. But the economy is still in turbulent times, and will be for a while yet.

Next week is AB’s birthday – but as it’s on Monday 18th, I’ll be going up on Sunday and coming back on Tuesday, so I’ll have the Monday and Tuesday off work. SM’s birthday is also coming up soon, and he’s had his graduation ceremony now, which I hear was good. His cousin has got married now too, and that also went well. SM might be coming down to Exeter in early December for a couple of days if he can get an eye appointment. He’s actually coming over for a course related to his job which he can only do in Bristol, so he thought he’d try and pop down to Exeter while he was over. So that’ll be good if he’s able to.

Tuesday November 18, 2008

I’ve just got back from another weekend with AB & AL, so it feels like Sunday now! AB’s birthday is today in fact, but we had her party on Sunday night at The Golden Lion, a pub just down the road from her. It was a good night too, plenty of people turned up and there were some food platters from Iceland laid on. I met AB’s mum and her partner for the first time in god knows how many years, and her dad was there too. ST also turned up, and I got to know one or two more of AB’S friends. A friend of AB’S also put on a mini-disco, which was interesting – everything from Amy Winehouse to T. Rex (one of the kids there was singing along to a few of them on the microphone, which was quite sweet). And the very last song, for the few of us left at closing time, was a rather naughty song about Yogi Bear!

[2021 Note: There’s also a dance remix, with the music video featuring a sign language interpreter in the corner, making it more amusing and accessible!]

We didn’t get up until early afternoon on Monday – nice to have a lie-in on a Monday for once really! We went into town at about 3pm so AB & AL could get a couple of things they needed, and then went to the Hole In The Wall for a meal just after 5pm. They didn’t have much left after a busy weekend, but I had a lovely steak and ale pie, AB had steak, and AL had a big burger (called The Works for good reason!).

We then went back to A’s flat for an hour or so, before heading over to The Globe. It turns out the new owner is alright after all in everyone’s eyes, despite AB being adamant last time I saw her that people wouldn’t go in there again! They’ve done up the place a little bit, redoing the ‘snug area’ with sofas and mirrors on one wall (helps to give the impression of space). And they’ve brightened up the pool room slightly, so we had a good few games in there. We ended up sharing games with 3 other people we met – D and his partner K (she’s the same age as me, and has a slight learning disability) and a friend of theirs called J, and it was great fun.

After the pub closed, AB and I went and got a couple of pizzas in from Pizza Hut (Hawaiian of course – ham and pineapple – plus a Chicken Supreme), and that filled the 3 of us up, as AL had some too. We had that while we watched the rest of a film on TV – a rather depressing drama about a drug-addicted mother, and how her son tries to deal with it. Not my choice of film, but I was more interested in the pizza anyway!

Then today we got up in the morning to meet a friend of AB’s called E at the bowling alley for a couple of games of ten-pin bowling, as they’re on the same team together. The two of them had one lane, while AL and I played together in the other. I won both my games, one with a score of 120 (including 2 strikes in a row at one point!), and the other with 112, with AL scoring 88 and 81 respectively, which was still good. We sat and had a couple of drinks with E after that, in the bar they have there, before he left and the three of us made our way to the train station, so AL and I could head home, thankfully before the rush hour and the kids coming out of school!

I’ll be going up to see AL again in the first week of December, as SM is coming down to Exeter. He’s got an eye appointment on the Tuesday, and then heads off to Bristol on the Wednesday – and I’m going with him! When he mentioned that his employer would pay for someone else to go along to help him around, I offered, as a mate would, and the next time I spoke to him, he asked if I was still willing to go up. I won’t be going into the course itself on Thursday and Friday, so I’ll be keeping myself amused around Bristol during the day (doing some Christmas shopping would be a good idea), but I don’t know what we’ll do in the evenings. We’ll be coming back on the Friday anyway, but SM will still be here until the Sunday, as that’s the best day for him to fly back. He showed me his graduation photo online too, incidentally, of him and one of his course mates, which was nice.

As for the holiday, we are definitely going to Torremolinos, but exactly where I’m still not 100% sure. AB keeps finding new deals that look good, so I’m still waiting to see what the final decision is.

At home, I’ve got plenty of DVDs to watch now, not least Doctor Who: Series 4 (and I’ve just downloaded the soundtrack for it too, it’s cool as ever), plus another Ross Noble collection (Randomist). I’ve just finished watching Season 11 of The Simpsons too. And there are other DVDs coming out that I’ll be ordering shortly, so there’s still plenty to watch.

Talking of Doctor Who, they showed the first 2 minutes of the upcoming Christmas special on Children In Need on Friday night, which was a big tease as always, with apparently a second Doctor involved. This next year of specials will be David Tennant’s last episodes, and they’re bound to be good!

Children In Need had a good variety of stuff other than that of course – including the cast of The Bill doing The Blues Brothers, the cast of Eastenders doing a West End Medley, and a performance by the cast of the new Oliver! musical (Nancy being played by a reality show winner, but she is good, and the kid playing Oliver was great too), plus the newsreaders went for a Mamma Mia tribute this year, because of the film.

Radio 2 raised a whopping £2 million – Chris Evans paid £16,039 of his own money to round it up to that amount – and it contributed towards a record total of £20.9 million! So those who said they wouldn’t do as well as before (last year’s total was £19.1 million) because of the current financial troubles were proved wrong! Indeed, there were some pretty big cheques being shown from various companies. So I’m glad they did well.

It was probably the happiest story of the week too, as much of the news has been taken up by the tragic story of Baby P, a boy who was abused terribly before he died, and yet social services hadn’t noticed the severity of his injuries (including a broken back and broken ribs) on their latest visits, and they’d visited him 60 times in all! So there’s a big inquiry going on about all that. And there’s also been the death of Reg Varney – Stan from On The Buses – at the age of 92. Plus the talk of recessions has been very much in the headlines as well. So it’s not all been cheerful!

But to finish on a happy note, Prince Charles celebrated his 60th birthday this week, which included a comedy show called We Are Most Amused at the New Wimbledon Theatre. It was shown on TV, and was very good. It included stars such as Phillip Schofield (the host), John Cleese (Master Of Ceremonies), Bill Bailey, Omid Djalili, Robin Williams (his first stand-up performance on a London stage for 25 years, and he was very good), Andrew Sachs (who came on to be with John Cleese as Manuel, to huge applause after the recent Brand & Ross controversy), and Eric Idle (who made a surprise appearance at the end in a ballet costume, to do a special performance of Always Look On The Bright Side Of Life, which was very elaborate given the choirs, dancers, bands and extras involved!). So that was all good fun.

Author: Glen

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

2 thoughts on “Journal – October-November 2008”

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