Journal – June-July 2010

Things have calmed down a lot recently after the packed month of May, so these latest journal entries are a bit more spread out again. Still with a fair amount to mention overall though, as I’ve been out socialising with my friends on a couple of occasions, seeing a rather unusual cricket match on one visit, and I’ve watched some of the World Cup too, among other things. So I hope you enjoy!

Sunday June 20, 2010

I met up with AB & ST in Paignton yesterday, as they were going there for AB’s Dad’s 60th birthday. So we went to the new Wetherspoon pub (The Talk Of The Town), which is opposite the arcades near the cinema, and had a drink and a chat there. Then we had a wander back up to the high street, looking in a few shops on the way. I got a card for AB’s Dad as ST had also got one, and we chipped in for some Thorntons chocolate shaped like a champagne bottle with “Happy 60th Birthday” iced on it. AB also wanted to get some muffins and Bucks Fizz from Tesco, so we popped in there too. Then, on our way up Palace Avenue, we also popped into the reopened Rossiters. The news of its reopening had surprised us over the last week when it came to our attention, as a firm bought the site and have kept it as a department store, with quite a few big brands too. So that should be a nice little boost to the town.

We went up to AB’s Dad’s place after that, where he was having a barbecue to celebrate. Quite a few members of the family were there, including a few ST & I knew, and we chatted to a few people. And the garden was big enough for the children to run around in. A couple of lads even had a tube-rocket thing they fired a few tennis balls from in the direction of the chickens kept in the far corner, although they missed them of course! And there was some music on in the background too – mostly a Rolling Stones greatest hits album which I certainly couldn’t complain about, then there was a switch to The Jackson 5 and a few older songs later on. The food was alright too, including a cake of course. So it was a nice little evening. And after I got home, I watched the first part of the Doctor Who: Series 5 finale which I’d recorded, and it was very good.

Other than that, things have been ticking along the same as usual for me lately. But as for the news elsewhere, there’s been a fair amount going on.

Earlier this month a man called Derrick Bird went on the rampage in Cumbria with a shotgun and a rifle, shooting dead 12 people and injuring 11 others, while driving around in his taxi cab. Some victims were people he knew, others were apparently random. He then took his own life before police caught up with him. Why he did it isn’t fully clear, and might never be, but reports suggest he was worried about being sent to prison over tax problems. It was a massive shock to people in the area, and across the nation for that matter. Sellafield nuclear plant was put into lockdown as a precaution at one point, and you can imagine the searches the police were carrying out – even RAF helicopters got involved in the search.

My mate SM and his family were actually on holiday in the area at the time, and first heard about it when coming down from one of the local mountains. They’d heard sirens nearby, but only realised why when another family on their way up asked if they’d heard about the gunman. And when he eventually finished his reign of terror by killing himself, my friends were only about 8 miles away. Quite a scary thought!

The Deepwater Horizon oil spill in America has also still been very much in the news, and President Obama has been very critical of how BP have dealt with it, as no method has yet stopped the leak. BP are going to drill relief wells, but that won’t be complete for a few months. So they’re using other methods to try and contain at least some of the oil in other ways, such as placing a type of cap over the end of the ruptured pipe, which will feed some of the oil through another pipe onto a storage ship. But it’s only collecting a little of the oil, relative to the whole spill, and even some of Florida’s traditionally white, sandy beaches are being affected now. BP’s shares have dived in value, as you’d expect. and some have taken Obama’s comments to be criticising the British, which could sour relations between the UK and US.

Still, there’s a bigger battle between countries that’s now going on, as the World Cup is finally here, hosted by South Africa for 4 weeks. I am naturally keeping an eye on England, but their second match against Algeria the other night was one of the most pitiful performances anyone’s ever seen from them. None of the commentators had a good word to say about their efforts, and even the fans booed them off the pitch, with Rooney commenting on it to a camera as he walked off at the end. And when you consider that the booing could be heard among those vuvuzela horns, you can see how loud it was! The only positive is that they didn’t let Algeria score, so it ended up as a 0-0 draw. But they have to win their next match this week, or that’s it.

We also have a World Cup sweepstake going at work, with everyone paying £1 and pulling two teams out of a box. I’ve ended up with Italy and South Africa, and I’ve been told that Italy are very good, so maybe I’ve got a good chance with them. Anything’s possible!

Wednesday June 23, 2010

Quick entry for today, as an eventful day of sport has just finished. England won their final World Cup group match against Slovenia 1-0 this afternoon, with a much better performance this time. Still not their best, but more hopeful. At the same time (as the final matches in each group are played simultaneously), the USA won their match 1-0 against Algeria. They lead the group, with England second, so we both go through. The results of tonight’s matches for the next group mean that we’ll be playing Germany on Sunday, so that’ll be a tough one no doubt! The other team through from that group is Ghana – which no doubt pleases Africans, as South Africa and other nations from that part of the globe are out of the competition.

There’s also been a record-breaking tennis match going on. John Isner and Nicolas Mahut have played the longest match in Grand Slam history at Wimbledon. The first 4 sets had pretty standard scores, but nobody’s taken the lead in the fifth set yet. It’s gone on for so long, that play has had to be suspended for bad light, to be continued tomorrow. The match has been going for 10 hours already, with the score currently… wait for it… 59-59! Tomorrow will be their 3rd day playing together! Will it ever end?!

So England fans are both excited and relieved, while those in the USA, Germany and Ghana must be delirious with happiness, and those at Wimbledon were left chanting for more!

Otherwise, it’s been quite a normal day for me. Mum, Dad & I were booked in for a dental check-up today – but with pollcards for a by-election and job evaluation letters to do at work, it was better for me to rebook the appointment (for next Tuesday afternoon). We couldn’t watch England’s game in the office of course, but the BBC had a text commentary on their website, so that was good enough. I’ve also ordered some more DVDs now, including the entire set of Family Guy DVDs released to date. They’re repeated often enough, and I’m often distracted by it when I catch it on BBC3, so I have wanted to get them all for a while now. I know my mate SM likes it too, so we’re both fans of it.

Friday July 23, 2010

So, another month has gone by. Not too much to report from it really. But I’m spending this weekend with AB.

I came up to Exeter this evening, and met ST & AB at AB’s flat. We played a bit of Wii Bowling again – a game that is fairly addictive – before heading across town to see SA, a friend of theirs from the church. We hung out at her flat for a while, and a couple of her friends also stopped in for part of the chat that was going on – one of whom was a lively 11 year old called LO, who threw SA’s sofa-throw blanket over SA’s head!

Anyway, it wasn’t much of a chat that I could join in with, granted – discussion about the church, SA’s sexuality, AB’s own troubles, and other stuff. But the fact that they all get on so well, and are so open with each other – especially with a complete stranger who’s male in the room – is quite something. They’re all nice people too. Can’t say I like the sound of the YMCA place that some of them have stayed at though, it sounds far from a good environment – horrible bedding, a few people getting on drugs, etc. But on the whole they feel it’s done them good. Which I can believe, they seem fairly well grounded – again, I think being part of the local church family has helped with that, as they all have a support network now.

We went back home after being at SA’s for a couple of hours, ST going back to her flat. AB & I stayed up for a bit, watching a few videos on Youtube via her TV, now that she has a new machine plugged in there, which makes everything look pretty good.

Saturday July 24, 2010

AB & I went up to Dunsford today. We were going to get a bus, but we missed one of the few buses there were, so ended up getting a taxi, which cost £21! Luckily we got a lift back! Anyway, we were there for a cricket match that her Christian friends were playing on the big village green. It’s a pretty village too, and it’s massive, with a river running along the back of it. We couldn’t really see a lot of the cricket from as far back as we were, but we heard enough from the people we were with as to what was going on. What made it rather unusual was the fact that it was a men’s only match – but the men were all in skirts and dresses! Apparently it was a ‘dress like your mother’ match or something like that, so that was rather different! It ended up being a draw too, the game finishing when one player got bonked on the head by the ball, so I gather he’s got a nice lump there now!

AB & I sat with some of her friends while it was going on. We had intended to buy some food from a nearby shop or go to a nearby pub when lunchtime came around. But as it turned out we weren’t conveniently near either after all, we shared in the picnic her friends had brought – bread and cheese, carrots, noodles, things like that. Not overly substantial, but enough to keep us going. AB & I had already brought some cheap cider from her local shop with us though, coming prepared with that at least! As for using the facilities as a result of drinking that, it literally was a case of going behind a bush – the second time I’ve had to pee ‘al fresco’ since meeting these people! Not that I mind, although it’s a bit annoying when a fly buzzes around you!

It was a nice afternoon out anyway. The weather was rather cloudy, but the sun did poke through, and my arms still caught some of the rays, so they’re a little bit pink and tender, but nothing too bad. My neck survived unscathed anyway, probably because I was conscious enough to pull my t-shirt up to keep that covered. I think a few people did have sunscreen just in case, but nobody was putting it on in the end, as there didn’t seem much point. As I say though, it doesn’t really matter, it’ll soon go away.

I’ll also say that Christians Against Poverty, the charity that have been helping her to get out of debt, seem to have been very beneficial for her. It’s like she has a big family to support her now, which is great, and something she clearly needed. So she now goes to church and hangs out with them regularly. And she’s got ST in as a member now too, who also seems very happy with her new friends. I’m still a non-believer, and can’t see that changing, but fair play to the two of them. The people they’ve got to know are a lovely bunch, and seem not to care that I don’t believe in the same things they do.

Anyway, this evening AB & I met up with DA. He’s 18, 10 years younger than AB, but they did go out for a couple of weeks before AB realised he wasn’t for her. Which I can understand – he’s a nice guy, but the age gap is too big for her, and he’s not her type. He’s also a bit clingy I think, texting her at 5am in the morning this weekend to say he loved her while he was drunk. And apparently he comes round to her flat, only to then fall asleep within a short time, as his mattress at the YMCA is so rubbish. He’s into computers as well, the type of geeky guy that reckons he knows what he’s talking about. Which he does a bit, but I wouldn’t consider him a pro. I’m not either, far from it. But he seems nice enough on the whole. Just inexperienced when it comes to relationships, as am I to be fair. The three of us went to a place in town called Buffet City – an all-you-can-eat place, primarily for Chinese food, but they have other national dishes too. And it was nice, certainly filled us up for the evening! DA came back to AB’s flat with us. Thankfully he didn’t doze off, and instead ran some tests on AB’s PC to see what it was capable of AB & I then went to bed after he left.

Sunday July 25, 2010

Today AB & I had been thinking of going to a breakfast run by her Christian friends, but didn’t bother getting up for it in the end. So, after a drink at The Globe, we went to a pub called The Old Fire House, where we both had a big roast pork lunch – with apple and cider sauce, crackling, roast potatoes, Yorkshire pudding, peas, carrots, cauliflower and gravy, all for just £5. It tasted very good too, as did the chocolate cheesecake I plumped for when it came to pudding a little bit later, although I couldn’t quite finish it all. AB couldn’t finish her apple and blueberry pie either. But that was fine, the food kept us going for the rest of the day!

The next time I see AB will be when PK comes down this way. I’ll be going up to Portsmouth with him as well for a week – we just need to arrange whether he comes down to Exeter and I go back to Portsmouth with him, which seems likely now, or whether I go to Portsmouth and he comes back to Exeter with me. It’ll probably be around my birthday week anyway, but it depends on when one of my colleagues is going to be on holiday with his family as well, as one of us needs to be in to cover for the other.

Talking of work, that’s been going fine. We had a presentation from a company about a document management system that could replace the one we currently use, and they might be able to give us a good deal. Quite a few people were at the presentation, and it did sound interesting. Apparently the user interface is quite good, although I obviously couldn’t see it. We should get the presentation slides soon though, so it might be on there. The main questions now are cost and whether enough people are interested. What the effect might be on my job, as I help to look after the current system, I don’t know, but it sounds like I would have an administrative role at the very least. We’ll have to see though.

Nothing much to report at home, but I’m gradually working my way through the Family Guy DVDs. Many of the episodes I’ve seen before, but it’s good to see them as they’re meant to be seen, as I think the BBC cut bits out here and there.

The news recently has been about a man called Raoul Moat – who, like Derrick Bird of a few weeks ago, sparked a major police hunt after shooting dead an ex-girlfriend and her new boyfriend following his release from prison. Thankfully he didn’t shoot as many people as Derrick Bird did, and he shot himself dead in the end when police cornered him.

On the other side of the big ocean, BP have been making steps in stopping the oil which has been leaking into the sea and polluting the coast of America for a couple of months now. It’s still a long process, but they did manage to temporarily stop it for a little while. Things have been complicated politically, however, after allegations that BP lobbied the Scottish government to get the Lockerbie bomber released, so the US are looking into that.

As for sport, former world champion snooker player Alex Higgins has died aged 61 from throat cancer. And, seeing as I didn’t mention it last month, England didn’t get anywhere in the World Cup, of course. The Sun had a headline that read “Sunny outlook in many areas, but depression over Heathrow as shower drifts in from South Africa”, which sums up the team’s performance to a fair extent. They scraped through the group stage, then failed to get any further. Quite what went wrong, we don’t know, but they weren’t playing very good at all. Some people blame the manager, Fabio Capello, but the team are sticking by him, acknowledging that it was their fault for not playing well. That said, some of Fabio’s methods – like not announcing who was going to be playing until 2 hours before the game – probably didn’t help. But as I know little about football, I can’t really comment much!

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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