Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Shy and Retiring

I watched a man retire today. It was a little odd. I'm used to people leaving, but I've never seen somebody retire. 40 years of service. Long time.

But I'll be up to 10 years myself in a month's time. I think I need to leave the Argos catalogue on my boss's desk with a bookmark in the carriage clock section (not sure if Argos do carriage clocks, but they should do). It's the only way I'm likely to get one.

And I don't think I will :-(

Monday, July 30, 2007


I'm finding that one of the worst things about getting old is that it's no longer possible to eat unlimited quantities of sweets without feeling ill.

So unfair.

Sunday, July 29, 2007

Saturday Afternoon at the Races

I went to the races again yesterday. It was a more successful trip than Thursday's one, despite us missing the first three races. The first one I bet on though, I had a really good feeling about Stage Gift (ridden by Jamie Spencer) and I doubled my normal bet to ten pounds. I was able to justify this to myself as I hadn't spent anything on the first few races.

It came in at fifteen to two and so I was seventy five pounds up straight away. I was tempted to then do the sensible thing and stop betting. Only tempted though. I ended up about sixty quid up on the day, and thirty quid up if I included my disastrous time earlier in the week.

Afterwards, Killer Queen played. They were good, but not as good as Bjorn Again had been. Maybe because I prefer Abba to Queen.

After the afterwards, it was on to Spice Club for a very drunken curry and then on to Reflex where I think I was mostly asleep. Awful place.

Friday, July 27, 2007

Thursday Evening at the Races

I went to the races yesterday evening, for an evening meeting. As normal, we missed the first race but this time it really wasn't our fault. We were having a pint in the pub and just as we were finishing it started chucking it down outside. So we were forced to have another one. And then there was a queue at the cash machine too.

The racing was fun (especially when I found where they sell the cans of cider) but my betting wasn't too good. I got a lot of second and thirds, but no winners. A horse called Red Wine nearly did very well for me, but couldn't quite come through in the end. The first time red wine has ever let me down.

Despite the stewards having to walk the course at one point to check it was still safe for racing, we got a full racecard of races and the rain pretty much held off. We felt a little blessed because there were some particularly dark clouds overhead for most of the evening.

After the races, there was music.

Bjorn Again

The music was from the fabulous Bjorn Again. And it wasn't one of those Bjorn Again tribute acts that you see all over the place - it was the real thing!

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

And all that I knew...

It was raining again this morning. Fairly heavily. I remembered to take my umbrella which helped somewhat, but after walking for a short while I was reminded of a problem in my shoes, specifically a hole the size of a 50 pence piece in the underside of the right sole.

It was letting in water, big time.

By my arrival at work I had a very soggy right sock. I removed my shoe and allowed the sock to dry.

Since the rain showed no sign of stopping, I resolved to take a trip to the shoe shop to purchase new, holeless shoes. Marks and Spencers is my favourite shoe shop because you don't have to talk to an assistant. It's all self service.

The shoes I self-served myself turned out to be identical to the old ones, just newer. I liked the old ones, they were comfy. Apart from the obvious there was no reason to change. I bought the replacements and then wore them for the rest of the day. Now I have dry feet and am happier.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Interesting Cordials

I've bought some rather nice cordials from Sainsburys.

The first is the one that sounds most normal to me: Raspberry and Mint. It tastes like a jug of summer fruit juice that someone has put too much mint in. Or like a fruity mojito.

The second sounds a bit stranger, to me at least. It's Rhubarb and Ginger. Rhubarb would never be my first choice for a "fruit" to have in a drink. I think it tastes nice, but a bit odd. In cordial form it's transformed into something quite delightful and the ginger gives it a bit of a kick to detract from the sweetness elsewhere.

I recommend them! There's a third one too, but it looked mingin' so I didn't buy it.

Sunday, July 22, 2007

The best thing David Essex has done for years...

On Friday we travelled down to London to go and see the new production of Joseph at The Adelphi Theatre. The one with the bloke off the telly in it. Since I hadn't seen it before, I didn't really know what to expect. I kind of assumed it would be like a play with songs in it. In fact it's only songs - all the story is told musically (more like an opera, I guess).

It was highly entertaining. Very funny, good singers and overall I really enjoyed it. The only less good bit was at the end when they reprise all the songs one by one. I'm sure it's great for the fans but I got a bit bored. But other than that highly worth seeing. It's probably sold out until 2012 though.

In the audience was baldy comedian Matt Lucas (and his hubbie). I was initially quite excited to see someone famous there. But after giving it a little thought I realised I shouldn't be quite so excited as I'd seen this particular famous person in real life before, performing at a Cambridge Ball. That was before he was so famous though, and I'm not sure it counts as a "spot" if they're on stage. Feels like cheating.

The following day we were supposed to be heading up to Bristol for a party/bbq. However, due to the incessant rain we eventually decided to abandon this idea and just head straight back to York instead. Whilst the train lines from York to London were working fine, London to Bristol was a reduced service, and the Bristol to York trains we were supposed to be catching to get us home again had been completely cancelled. With more rain forecast, it didn't seem worth the risk.

Bit of a shame but it means that today has been more constructive than it would
otherwise have been, with a supermarket trip and a five mile run.

I have also completely resisted the temptation to pop into a book shop and scan through the pages of the last Harry Potter book. Because when it came down to it, I just didn't care :-)

Friday, July 20, 2007

More Camping

Tonight I'm probably doing the campest thing I'll do all week... I'm going to see Joseph (with that bloke off the telly) in the West End. I haven't seen it before, in fact I've never seen any ALW musical in a live fashion before. I'm quite looking forward to it.

The downside is the torrential rain forecast for London.

When I come back I'm going to try and write a longer post. I'm sure there are still some thoughts in my head somewhere, if I scratch around for long enough.

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Where did you go?

There are always reasons for it, but I reckon that if averaged up over all gigs I've ever been to, a maximum of 50% of people that have tickets have turned up. It sounds like a low rate. It is a low rate.

I always turn up.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Now it makes sense...

Back in 2005, I had 12 challenges and I didn't complete two of them. I was cool with this, since after all, even Hercules only managed ten of his.

I didn't manage to get on the radio. And now I know why. Everyone who goes on the BBC is a fake! There was me, emailing, phoning in (*) and there was never any point because the only things that ever went on air were the production teams! You can't trust anyone.

(* not that much, admittedly)

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Wired Up

I started watching The Wire on DVD tonight. It's a show that some people have claimed to be one of the best TV programmes ever made. I watched the first two episodes and so far, I'd say it's pretty good. A bit slow. I'll give it some time and see how it develops...

Monday, July 16, 2007

Immense Train Set

The House where we went to the camping party at the weekend was pretty big and deserved a capital H. The grounds were also extensive and the daddy was in the process of building a large model railway in the garden.

Model Train (1)

Not big enough to ride, but big enough to transport beer from one end of the garden to the other, had you a mind to. Obviously we didn't.

I was very impressed by it. I think my own daddy would probably have melted if he'd seen it.

Sunday, July 15, 2007

Bye Bye, Tent!

I've officially laid my tent to rest. It's getting on 15 years old now so I think it's served me well.

My tent

Camping was fun, though we didn't actually have to spend much time in the tent due to there being a marquee for the music. The weather was ok on Saturday but turned to rain at some point into the morning. Hence the tent got very wet. My feet and sleeping bag also got a bit wet because the tent was letting water in at the bottom end. Not really badly but enough to be annoying. I therefore took the decision to part with my long-term tent.

It's made me a little sad really. It's been with me for so long I got used to it. Even though it was a bit harder to erect than some more modern designs. And even though it was a bit battle scarred. And even though there's a hole in the front window. And even though some of the pegs are a bit bent. And even though a couple of the guy ropes have come off. Even though all that, it was my tent and now it's gone. In the bin. Forever.

I kept the tent pegs though. They can be reused. Apart from the bent ones.

Saturday, July 14, 2007

An in-tents weekend...

I'm off camping today (assuming I can ever persuade K to get out of bed) for the first time in a couple of years. Hope the tent is ok, I haven't really bothered to check it. We're going down to the south west of England in some out of nowhere place because my Brother-In-Law is turning 30 soon. Coincidentally, so are some of his old friends. So they're having a party in a field, a mini festival. We're promised a Portaloo. And more importantly, beer.

Friday, July 13, 2007

Agents Are Go!

This is quite unusual but it's after work on a Friday and I'm at home and not in the pub. Been out the past two nights and had a fair few drinks so I'm not missing it too much. In addition I have a four hour drive in the morning so don't want to have too much tonight in any case. Will probably pop out for a while later on. It would be almost offensive to go to bed completely sober of a Friday.

In the meantime Elite Beat Agents is finally out on the DS so I'm having a lot of fun tapping away on that.

Thursday, July 12, 2007


I was in the Post Office yesterday lunchtime and I spied a lady wearing a mogwai rucksack. As in the gremlin-like creature, not the band. It was like she had strapped Gizmo to her back. I spent the rest of my lunch sincerely hoping it wouldn't rain.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Learning to Sky

My internet access has been a bit bitty over the last few days. It's been dropping out from time to time - v annoying. I had a brainwave this evening as to what could be causing it. I think it's the Sky+ box.

When the chap came round to install it, I asked him whether it needed an ADSL filter putting on the bit that connects to the phone socket. He said, nah, it would be alright. I was dubious but then forgot about it.

Then today, I saw a small green light come on the front of the Sky box and I wondered what it was. I had no idea and couldn't be arsed to look in the book. But it did get me thinking, and then I put two and two together and possibly made about eighteen. I actually had a spare filter knocking around so I tried plugging it in. It seemed to work!

Or at least it's been fine for the last half hour. Hardly a rigorous test, but I'll leave it in for now. I still think it should have one on, even if it's not that that's been causing the dodgy connection.

I'm also not too sure about how well Sky+ really does work when you only have one feed from the dish. Watching telly is fine, but when you record things it generally seems to default to recording off the second feed (which isn't there). Hence no recording. Sometimes it does work though. Looks like my Freeview recorder may not be going into retirement so soon after all.

If anyone understands these things, I'd welcome your input as much as I'd welcome a second input from my dish. ie it would be quite useful.

Monday, July 09, 2007

The Sandwich as a Display of Conspicuous Consumption

The thing that annoyed me most today was that Subway have put up their prices. My sandwich of choice (12" chicken teryaki, hearty Italian bread, lettuce, pepper, onion, jalapenos and sweet onion sauce) now costs £4.99. I nearly choked on my tongue when I found out.

I'm hoping it's not going to be the first in a trend. I remember once, a couple of years ago, all the sandwich shops seemed to put their prices up in the same week.

It was most disheartening.

Sunday, July 08, 2007

Quis custodiet ipsos custodes?

I first read Alan Moore's Watchmen many years ago, probably when I was still at school. Not sure whether I borrowed it from a friend or from the library, either way I gave it back and so have never been able to (trivially) re-read it.

I bought it from a shop a few weeks back and now have re-read it. It's easily as good as I remember it (which is very). The story concerns a group of old super-heroes who are now mostly in retirement after a law was passed which made them illegal. Most of them don't have actual super-powers, they're more like Batman than Superman. After one of them is killed some stuff happens. No spoilers here!

It's well worth reading. Especially if you're even vaguely a fan of superheroes and/or comics.

It's supposed to be being made into a film, but this has been true since the original comics came out twenty years ago so I'm not overly optimistic of it happening. The comic version is actually quite filmic in style and I would have thought it would convert to celluloid quite easily. That's probably why I'm an actuary not a film director.

Saturday, July 07, 2007


The traumas are over - I've finished Final Fantasy VIII! Second time around it has only taken me about two weeks to play through it - better than I'd hoped for!

Not sure whether to tackle IX or X next...

Thursday, July 05, 2007


I went to The Evil Eye for dinner last night with a couple of friends who'd come up to visit. It reconfirmed for me that:

a) The 'Eye does some really great (hot hot hot) food.
b) It's the most schizophrenic bar in York, combining as it does, an oriental (hot hot hot) eatery, a cocktail bar, an off-licence, a fine selection of beef jerky, an internet cafe and too many stairs.

Tuesday, July 03, 2007

New Sky!

I took advantage of an offer Wayne made to get free Sky. I didn't particularly need Sky, as I find there's enough on normal terrestrial telly, and I also watch a lot of DVD box sets and "get VHS tapes sent over from a friend in America" for things not on in the UK yet. But it was free for a year so I figured I'd give it a go. My flat already had a link to a communal dish and I was all wired up, so all I needed was the box.

It didn't end up completely free as I took the opportunity to get a half price Sky+ box rather than the bog-standard one. Again, I didn't really need this either as I already had a hard disk recorder. But this one integrates more nicely with the programmes that are on so I think I will end up using it quite a lot.

The man was supposed to come and install it all this morning (not sure why I needed a man, all he did was plug it in and show me how the remote control worked). I was hoping for something around 9am so I could get to work not too late. In fact he came at about quarter past one. Not quite morning. But I took the opportunity to read a book in peace and quiet for a few hours. Better than work.

I had tried to phone into work to let them know I was going to be later than I'd said, but nobody picked up my phone on each of the three times I tried. I considered leaving an angry message on my voicemail berating my colleagues for not picking up. Then thought better of it. I also tried phoning the Sky installation people to check they were really coming. They didn't pick up either. I started to detect a trend.

So I had a another cup of tea.

Once it was installed I didn't have time to have a play. But I had a go after work and whilst it seems to work well and be pretty slick... it's just telly.

Monday, July 02, 2007

Read This

Just a quick book recommendation today. The Meaning of the 21st Century by James Martin (Not The Chef). It covers most of the key problems and solutions facing the human race today, and whilst some of the books is occasionally a little repetitive, it's things that are worth repeating. Read it.

Sunday, July 01, 2007

No Smoking!

Today, the smoking ban in England has finally come into force. This makes me happy. I hate nasty smelly horrible cigarette smoke.

Celebration of this change in the law is taking two forms:
1. A trip to the pub for a last cigar (last night)
2. A trip to the pub for some smoke-free beer (tonight).