Journal – January-February 2009

So another year gets underway. These first couple of months have been fairly quiet, as is common after Christmas. But I did a bit more socialising and ate some lovely food in Exeter, and saw various comedies on TV. Plus there have been a few big stories in the news, including Obama’s inauguration and two very different plane landings. So I hope you enjoy!

Sunday January 11, 2009

Happy New Year! Hard to believe another one’s come around, and this one will probably fly by even quicker than those before it. It’s started off nicely enough anyway, even if the weather’s been freezing! New Year’s Eve was just spent at home, watching the fireworks in London on the TV, which were brilliant as always.

The first week back at work has been pretty uneventful really, so there’s nothing to mention there. But I have just come back from a weekend in Exeter with AB, which turned out to be pretty fun. Friday night we went over to The Globe and had a few drinks there, and a few games of pool (I lost 2-1). The band upstairs sounded pretty good – we didn’t go up because it was a private party, but we could still hear them from outside, and even through the ceiling inside. I was persuaded to try a green vodka jelly at one point, and a shot of Sambuca a bit later. Both of which are ok, but I wouldn’t have them a lot. The latter’s very sharp, certainly!

On Saturday, we met AB’s aunt at about noon, so they could chat about the help AB was getting from social services with her flat and organisation and stuff. She’s a nice lady, I’ve met her before I’m sure, although I don’t remember her particularly. We met her in a little café on the high street. After that, AB and I went to the travel agent, so I could pay off the remaining money for my part of the holiday to Spain in April. And then we went bowling – I won all 3 games, getting a score of 142 in one of them! My other scores were 110 and 99, while AB was pretty consistent too, getting 100 in the first game, then 87 twice! We then had a few games of pool on their pool tables as well (I lost 2-1 again!), as well as playing a word game on one of their gaming machines. We won a couple of quid, although we just used it to pay for a few more free goes on it.

After that, we went to a little pub near the On The Waterfront pizza restaurant on the quay, and had our late lunch there. I had a wonderfully tender and succulent pork belly in a Scrumpy cider and black treacle sauce, with seasonal vegetables and new potatoes. And that was followed by a big chocolate and ice-cream sundae, full of clotted cream, ice-cream, Maltesers, chocolate brownie pieces, chocolate sauce, and even a Curly Wurly (haven’t had one of them for years!). All of which was absolutely delicious, and very filling. But I just about finished it all, leaving only a little bit of the sundae at the bottom when it got a bit too rich and filling! AB had some chicken and pasta, followed by cheesecake, as well as sharing a bit of my sundae too. We ended up chatting about people from school who she was in touch with, or who we’d lost touch with and she thought she might try looking up on Facebook at some point (I still can’t be bothered to join that site!).

Then, that evening, we went back to The Globe, as on Friday night a friend of AB’s in the pub had invited her to her 40th birthday party – and as I was there, I got invited too! So we went up to that, and enjoyed the disco that they had there – plenty of cheese (Whigfield, Gina G, Village People, all that sort of stuff), but some good tunes too (Bon Jovi, Bryan Adams, Guns N’ Roses, and some sixties stuff as well). So it was a good mixture that got us all singing along! There was a band downstairs too, who sounded pretty good as we made our way in, although we didn’t hear them while we were at the disco upstairs of course. AB got me up dancing at one point, although we only stayed up there for a couple of songs, drawing the line at James Blunt!

And then today we went back to The Globe again, where we had paninis for our afternoon snack (mine was cheese and ham, hers was tuna and mayo), which was nice. And shortly after that, I made my way home – and having just done an online grocery shop with Sainsbury’s instead of Tesco for a change, I’m now writing this entry! So it’s been a good weekend all in all.

As for the news, that’s not provided the most cheerful start to the year. Israel is at war with the Palestinian group Hamas over the Gaza strip, again, a dispute that will probably never get rectified. As for the recession, Marks & Spencer are shutting some of their Simply Food stores (including the one in Torquay) and thus cutting some jobs, to save money, while Waterfood Wedgewood have gone into administration (they make ceramics like Wedgewood and Royal Doulton), although it is hoped a buyer can be found. Woolworths has gone for good though, as all their stores have finally closed (Iceland have bought some of them already). Interest rates have also hit an all-time low of 1.5%, not good for savers particularly. And in the celebrity world, John Travolta’s son Jett sadly died of a seizure at just 16 years of age. So there’s not a lot of cheerful news!

Still, they have announced who the new Doctor Who will bea young guy called Matt Smith – so it’ll be interesting to see how he gets on when he debuts in the role in 2010.

So that’s it for the first week or so of the year. The news isn’t cheerful, but for me things are going alright to begin with. It’ll be interesting to see what the rest of the year brings!

Sunday January 25, 2009

The first month of the year is nearly over already, it’s flying by. There isn’t a lot to report on the personal front since my visit to Exeter, and work’s been ticking over fine, keeping me busy as usual.

At home, I’ve finally got around to watching the Ross Noble DVDs I got before Christmas (Sonic Waffle & Randomist), then I can get on to the one I bought more recently of his (Fizzy Logic). That’s because there’s things on TV I end up watching as well, including things like the new series of The Green Green Grass and QI, both of which have been good. And there’s no rush on watching things anyway, of course. I saw an episode of the new Krypton Factor as well – it’s still as difficult as it used to be! And there’s a new show on Saturdays called Total Wipeout, with very complicated obstacle courses, involving lots of water! A bit like It’s A Knockout, only without silly costumes and really silly games, but you still get to laugh at people falling off things and getting wet. Richard Hammond seems to be the ideal presenter for that, with his dry humour – which is ironic about a show where everyone gets wet!

The news has been focused on the US a fair amount recently. First was the story of a pilot who had to land a plane quickly after both engines suffered bird strikes, they think from a flock of geese. Bird strikes happen all the time, particularly during take-off and landing (as jets fly higher than birds mid-flight), and plane engines are designed to withstand these up to a certain weight of bird. But these were big birds, and caused both engines to fail!

So the heroic pilot, Chesley ‘Sully’ Sullenberger, managed to land the plane in the Hudson River in New York. And that was extremely tricky, because the angle of the landing in water has to be just right, so the plane doesn’t flip or somersault. But he did it, and all 155 passengers and crew survived! The rescuers got everyone off before the plane sank, and the worst injury was someone with a broken leg, while most others just suffered the cold from the water and air outside. So Chesley quite rightly got a hero’s welcome when he arrived home this weekend, including a special award, even though he’s being very modest, saying that he and the crew were just doing their job. A very admirable job though!

But, of course, perhaps the biggest job in the world changed hands this week, as Barack Obama was inaugurated as US President. I saw his speech when I got back from work, which seemed powerful and focused. Hopefully he’ll live up to at least some of people’s expectations, but the pressure on him is enormous. He’s already signed an order to close Guantanamo Bay within a year though, which he had promised to do.

Elsewhere in the world, Hamas and Israel have called a ceasefire over the war in Gaza, at least for now. But it’s causing a row in this country, because the BBC are refusing to show an appeal by the Disasters Emergency Committee for donations to help the people of Gaza, while pretty much all other channels are showing it. The BBC don’t want to damage their impartiality, they say, and point out they continually show the suffering of the Gazan people on the news. So it’s a tricky one, and there’s not a clear right or wrong answer, but it’s given the DEC all the publicity they need anyway now.

The BBC’s also under the spotlight because Jonathan Ross returned this week. He apologised about his behaviour in the Sachsgate affair at the start of his TV show when it returned on Friday, and it was a good show. So I think he at least deserves a chance. People know what he’s like anyway – so if they like him, they’ll watch or listen to him, and if they don’t, they won’t. He doesn’t mean any harm to anyone. As for whether he’s paid too much, that’s a different issue, but then again, he does do a lot of TV and radio work, so it may well be justified. 

Other than all that, of course, there’s still the recession, which we’re now officially in according to figures released recently, so it’ll probably be a miserable year for some people. But, all being well, my job should be pretty safe.

Sunday February 15, 2009

Sorry, I’ve been so lazy with this! But it’s been a very uneventful start to the year, and life’s just ticking over much as normal. Work’s going fine, we’ve been helping with some initial testing for financial year-end work, which is the big job coming up soon. And we’ll be finding out about the outcome of the job evaluation process at the end of next month apparently. And at home, that’s been quiet too, although I have won £50 on the Premium Bonds this month!

In terms of TV, I’ve been catching up with the Ross Noble DVDs I bought, and working my way through Men Behaving Badly as well. Channel Five are showing a new Minder series starring Shane Richie, which is nowhere near as good as the original by any means, but it’s entertaining enough. Plus there are programmes like QI, Harry Hill’s TV Burp and The Green Green Grass on at the moment, and a new sitcom called The Old Guys starring Roger Lloyd-Pack (Trigger from Only Fools & Horses) and Clive Swift (Richard in Keeping Up Appearances), which is ok but nothing exceptional.

The weather’s shaken things up a bit too, mind you, as it’s been fairly bad the last couple of weeks, with floods in some places, and heavy snow in others. In fact, we even had some snow settle for a day here, which is very rare! There wasn’t a lot, but still a nice change to see. There was also an incident where 200 drivers and their passengers got trapped on a road when they suddenly got snowed in! So the weather’s been catching people quite unawares really. The forecasters said it was coming, but the areas that thought they’d avoid the worst of it actually ended up suffering after all. Councils have even been running out of the salt grit that they use on the major roads.

Other than that, my best mate hasn’t been able to sort out the appointment for his cataract operation yet, but hopefully that’ll be soon. And AB finished booking the holiday to Spain, so that’s all sorted – we’re even going to pay £15 extra so we can hang out in the VIP lounge at Bristol before we fly, just for a treat. We might even get something decent to nibble on before we get on the flight, you never know (plane food often isn’t great).

Apart from the weather, the news has been about the recession a lot of the time, which isn’t going to end any time soon, and banker’s bonuses have come into the spotlight in relation to it (i.e. they’re still getting bonuses even when they’re doing badly). There have also been massive bushfires sweeping across parts of Australia, destroying villages and killing hundreds of people who couldn’t escape them in time. At least some of them are arson – why people have to do stuff like that, I’ll never know – and they’ve arrested one person so far, but it’s difficult to trace all the culprits.

And in America, a plane crashed into a house in New York state, killing all 49 people on board, and one person on the ground. It was lucky the damage wasn’t worse really. It’s not clear why it crashed yet, although onlookers say it appeared to be in trouble at the time.

So there hasn’t been a lot of good news around in the media lately – although there are the various patting-on-the-back awards ceremonies that go on at this time of year of course, like the Grammys and Baftas, and soon the Oscars, none of which I pay much attention to!

Author: Glen

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

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