Tuesday, January 31, 2006

It Doesn't Always Pay to Advertise

Idly staring out of the window on the bus this morning I was vaguely amused by the appearance of a small green tanker on its way past us.

Apparently it was the property of some company called T.E.S. - I know not who they are or what they do - but some oversight had led to these initials being printed twice on the side facing me.

The main problem was the spacing, or lack of it, between the repetitions. As a result I was treated to the sight of the word "TESTES" floating past me on Upper Street in Angel.

Sent my mind all of a wander it did.

Monday, January 30, 2006

Sun Fun Nun Day

"Caberet" is one of the few words in the English Language guaranteed to strike fear and dread into my heart ("sprouts" being another). It is my general philosphy to avoid any event which promises cabaret of any kind since if - as the song suggests - life is already a cabaret, I see no reason to inflict any more of it on me.

Frankly things are bad enough as they are.

Despite that, however, I was persuaded to attend a fund-raising event called "Nun Fun Sunday" yesterday which promised much in the way of cabaret. Other Rob was DJing later so we went to give moral support (and drink) and to be fair Chris and I really had no excuse not to go. It was at Kinky Mambo in Islington which is a swift bus-ride away (in fact the term "in our manor" may even have been mentioned) so we kind of felt obliged.

And what was the fundraiser for, I hear you ask?

Well... it was for a production entitled "Postcards from God: Sister Wendy - the Musical".

No, really. (Sometimes I think Salvador Dali must have had a hand in scripting my life.)

And it was all quite cheery. Cabaret was mostly ignorable with the notable exception of a nine-piece acapella group called "Afterworks" who - despite one or two harmonies I found difficult to cope with being so immersed in European styles - were frankly stunning. Otherwise I found myself enjoying the enthusiasm of the performances more than the content.

Quite a pleasant evening though. The wine flowed, I was given a copy of Sugar magazine (which is proving quite an eyeopener), and got on well with the barstaff - even to the point where one was experimenting with a new cocktail recipe and trying it out on us.

I don't know quite what was in it, but I'm certain the word "fatal" should probably feature in its name.

The second, younger, barman almost doubled up when he downed his glass.

Sunday, January 29, 2006

Financial History

I've just turned my attention to one of the few areas of my life that had slipped (and remained slipped for quite some time).

Bank Statements.

Piles of them. All of them in unopened envelopes - some of them dating back to 1999.

Yes, quite. Let's just say my student years and the years up until 2005 were largely filled with avoidance of ever opening a communication from Barclays in case I should ever discover my financial situation.

This is quite a contrast to my current situation with involves fortnightly Bank Account reconciliations using MS-Money, regular paying off of credit accounts, a pension plan and a slight dabbling in the stock market, but hey.

So... it's been quite a trip down memory lane: various addresses flashed past my eyes, bringing with them warm glows of recognition (and in one case a shudder as I remembered the harridans I shared with in that instance) and culminating - once I'd pulled it all into order - in a massively satisfying session with a cross-cut shredder of the really old stuff.

It seems stupid to say it, but it's like I've finally faced down an old demon and won. I mean, it's not like I haven't been in full control of my finances for months now, but there was this nagging feeling behind me that something was unattended and that's now gone.

Slowly I am pulling myself into control of all aspects of my life. And boy does it feel good.

I'm not Homphobic, But...

Dear, dear, Lowri Turner.

It's almost like she wrote this article to prove what an airhead she is.

Her arguments against gays running the country suffer from one small problem - and one which is often shared in any diatribe put forward from a conservative viewpoint. That is that the same argument could be extended to a logical conclusion in a way that would alienate the very people to whom you are preaching

In this case, the same arguments could be applied to people of different cultures or single heterosexuals. But of course no rational person would claim that a black person or single white female is incapable of running the country without being hounded out of town by group of torch-wielding villagers. For us Mox, however, it's okay to say our lives mean we are incapable of rational, intelligent thought.

Frankly, the bit about the sofa alone made my blood boil. If choosing the colour of my sofa was the most stressful part of my life I would be very very happy. (Could someone make it so please?)

She's entitled to her opinion, of course - bigoted and ill-thought out though it is. But it's the idea that the rest of us should be entitled to her opinion that really galls me.

It's amazing what counts for journalism these days.

Friday, January 27, 2006

Background Aching

I did it.

Three times at the gym this week.

Two with the sadist and one on my own.

Gosh I feel smug.

Of course, today, the effect of three days on the cross-trainer is making my bum and my legs feel painfully tight.

I am doing all I can today to avoid moving.

Thursday, January 26, 2006

Lagging Behind the Zeitgeist

I have a nasty habit of being behind the times. Problem is I'm invariably so busy, tired, or distracted that things which have become major phenomena can easily pass me by without me noticing.

And then when I finally do notice, I dip my toe into the water and go "yeah, it's alright" but somehow fail to be swept up in the tide. I've been like it with pretty much every American import that has been served up on our screens in the last ten years.

The only episode of Sex and the City that I've seen for example was the very last one and that's only because I was made to sit down and watch it. (It was okay - but not something I would have spent an hour a week on for God knows how many series.)

Last night however I finally saw an episode of Desperate Housewives. And I must say it was rather enjoyable and I may have to see more. It was deliciously warped and bitchy and with a nice amount of eye candy too.

Interesting also to see Roger Bart playing a straight man. After Stepford Wives and the Producers it must be quite a novelty for him. Sadly he looks incredibly scary in this role as opposed to the "hmmm, yeah I wouldn't say no" of his other appearances.

Still, it's one of the marks of a good actor I guess.

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

A Big Whizz-Bang!

Sounds like a sort of 1930's super-wheeze doesn't it?

But no, according to my Forgotten Words calendar a "whizz-bang" is actually somewhat fatal: a mixture of morphine and cocaine injected subcutaneously.

There's apparently a rumour that it was used to bump off King George V in 1936 when his death-bed condition worsened beyond all hope, to give him a quiet, dignified send-off.

Slightly more liberal times then do you think? Considering that the debate on euthanasia is whirling at the moment I find it kind of interesting that it seemed to be perfectly okay in that instance.

And of course it's a method of administering cocaine which doesn't result in a nasty nosebleed too.

Nor a nasty bout of over-confident loggorrhea.

Oh Do Be Quiet!

We seem to be talked at by machines a lot these days don't we?

Our lifts at work are quite vocal for example, which is fine since some people do of course need spoken instructions and so on to understand what is physically going on. Blind people, those merely partially sighted, or those who are just chronically stupid rely on it telling them when the doors are opening or closing and what direction the lift is going in. That's okay.

But the technology is still kind of irritating when you consider that the basic flaw in these systems is that the message can't be stopped once it has been triggered.

I'm sure we've all been in this situation. Someone rushes to the doors as they are closing ("doors closing" sighs the restful lady on the speaker before announcing "Lift Going Down"). Said late arrival then gets an arm in and the doors have to open ("doors opening") and so on.

Thing is that by the time the message has been received that the doors have opened the person has already hit the button to go down.

(Hmm. That's a useful button - I may have to have one put in me.)

The self-service things at Tesco have a similar problem. By the time I've dropped the item in the bag, the instructions are still telling me to "scan your next item" before proceeding to ask me to "place the item in the bagging area". By which time of course I've already scanned my next item and so on. And I'm usually halfway out of the door by the time the machine coos "Thank you for shopping at Tesco".

Thing is, when the system's so far behind you and you actually do know what you're doing the instructions are just wearisome I find.

Perhaps some kind of "belt up" button would be in order?

(Although of course if that idea ever gets out I may run the risk of having one of those put in me as well. So maybe not.)

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Ye Gods

I couldn't even walk by the end of last night. I was quite stunned by how drunk I was.

That said I don't feel nearly as bad as I should today, though my function is definitely impaired.

For the first time in ages I actually prepared a set, rather than just making it up as I go along and forgetting to write it down. I woke up this morning to find said spreadsheet had been interfered with somewhat by Other Rob and was in slightly gaudy colours and strange fonts (he found the Other Device (TM) fascinating and wanted to play) but it was more or less intact and so therefore I present to the masses the final Atomic Slattern Windypops! setlist as follows:

  • Pet Shop Boys - Shameless
  • Fischerspooner - Cloud
  • Voice of the Beehive - Scary Kisses
  • ABBA - So Long
  • Shakespear's Sister - You Made Me Come To This
  • Human League - Love Me Madly?
  • Ladytron - Last One Standing
  • Readers Wifes - Nostalgia
  • The Modern - Jane Falls Down
  • Duran Duran - Electric Barbarella
  • Belvedere Kane - Never Felt as Good
  • Hazell Dean - Who's Leaving Who (Boys are Back in Town Mix)

  • Pay TV - Miss Capitalist
  • Girls Aloud - Swinging London Town
  • Bananarama - Look on the Floor (Hypnotic Tango)
  • Annie - Me Plus One
  • Bodies Without Organs - Son of a Gun
  • Rachel Stevens - Funny How
I should have been off sooner but the replacements were busy getting pissed so I inserted the Bananarama, Annie and BWO tracks as I waited and suddenly they appeared out of nowhere to turf me off.

Thankfully considering my state of near paralysis at that point, the flatmate had arrived to share a taxi home and make sure I actually made it beyond the front door.

So a good night up to a point. It was, however, rather marred for me at the end by being shoved aside, having my last carefully chosen track faded out in the middle and changed to a different one on the same album. I know it doesn't sound much but it seemed at best rather disrespectful, let alone interfering, and it's one of those things which the more I think about it the more annoyed I get.

Still, I'm sure I'll cool off later.

Hmm. Perhaps the sadist will let me box today. I am increasingly of the opinion that when it comes to matters that irk you, hitting things is probably the way forward.

Although my watchword for the day would appear to be "fluid" not "thumping". Ugh.

Monday, January 23, 2006

Quite Right Too


The nasty little shits.

I do find it incredibly worrying that anyone of any age could consider such violence against a stranger, but there's something even more disturbing about the age of the perpetrators in this case.

If that's the sort of behaviour they think is fun or acceptable then frankly I'm glad they're out of circulation for a few years.

Acting Butch

Had my second session at the laserers on Saturday. The first zapping had remarkable results so this last one and the next one should be all that's needed really.

Was oddly more painful this time though. There were quite a few moments where I wanted to clench my teeth and make a squeaking noise anyway.

But despite this I have been persuaded to try next time without the anaesthetic cream. This is purely because that hour lying on my front, wrapped in clingfilm and covered in unguent is the most boring possible hour ever. You can't go anywhere, there's not enough room to lay out a newspaper and it's just a room with white walls. So on the basis of avoiding tedium I'm going to give it a go.

Foreign readers should not be surprised when in six weeks time they hear yelping.

However, I'm thinking of having a supplementary part of me done.

See, for years now I've suffered with ingrowing hairs on my jawline and occasionally my neck too, and I'm reaching the point where I've had enough. I'm not going to have a permanent removal - because I like a bit of stubble - but a session or so should create enough of a reduction I think.

And whilst I haven't had a quote proper, just the jawline (not the chin) should only cost about £60. If I do the neck as well it'll be more, but two body parts entitles you to a discount so I may well do it anyway.

Hmm. What with all this and the Sadist, 2006 is clearly my year for getting my body in the shape I want it rather than the other way round.

Oooh the power!

Sunday, January 22, 2006

Hooray for Bootlegs

Years ago I worked in finance for the then Kent and Canterbury Hospitals NHS Trust.

One day I was summoned to a manager's office to ask if I could run some reports for one of the guys in Estates Management. All the reports for everyone were at that point printing off slowly so I had to say it wasn't possible.

"Oh," said the manager. "It's just he needs them now. He likes to reconcile things to whims."

I was confused. "Should we be encouraging that sort of thing?"

There was a brief silence while we both looked at each other in puzzlement. Then the penny dropped.

"Ah," he said. "No... WIMS... Works Information Management System." And we had a little chuckle about the whole thing - both of us conspiring not to mention the fact that a lot of management decisions seemed to be based on whims - particularly on the clinical side.

Estates guy still had to wait for his reports mind.

But anyway, to go completely off at a tangent my life it seems is totally driven by whims and the latest one has just been fulfilled by eBay.

Two DVDs are now purchased and winging their way to me containing both series of the classic series KYTV, a much loved programme from my childhood.

Of course, criminally the BBC hasn't actually released it on DVD so what I've actually purchased are bootleg transfers from video. But I'm okay with that.

If it means I get to see the Green Mass Debate again I'm happy.

Saturday, January 21, 2006

Of What, Sorry?

I noticed today that Nourkrin hair loss solution is being promoted heavily on the tube at the moment with a testimonial by none other than Cheryl Baker.

My only worry is with the credit for said testimonial which reads:

"Cheryl Baker, television presenter and formerly of Bucks Fizz fame!"
and up until then I'd never imagined that people would use the word "fame" quite like that in all seriousness.

But there it was in print without a trace of irony. Genuine crap copy.

I was shocked I tell you.

Friday, January 20, 2006

Out, Out, Brief Candle!

I think I may have outed myself to the Sadist.

It was on the legpress yeterday after he'd put the weights up by yet another 20k for my third set. I was struggling somewhat and not really paying attention to the small talk, let alone minding my own business.

"'Ere, Rob," he said, choosing the moment when I was pushing with all my might against the footplate, "you haven't been married before have you?"

I gasped and lowered myself in a controlled fashion downwards again, counting "2..3.." under my breath whilst shaking my head before pushing back up again.

I reached the top and took a breath, panicking slightly that my left knee had felt about to buckle on the way down that last time.

"No?" he pressed as I gasped and panted (sweating like Ruth Kelly at a press conference).

Finally I reached a point where I could actually speak again, but sadly missed the point at which good humour and my natural reserve could get in before me: "Oh hardly," I squeaked. "It's only just been made bloody legal."

As far as comings out go it wasn't the most controlled, but I suppose it got the job done.

By the end of the half-hour I think he'd almost recovered.

Thursday, January 19, 2006

Sweet Dreams are Made of This (Apparently).

Hmm. Well, the unusual occurrence of me having a dream happened again last night.

Naturally it made little sense.

Salient points:

  • I was moving into a Georgian-style country House and having it done up.
  • Various Jane Austen style heroines were rushing around marvelling at all the changes.
  • I seemed to have become some kind of multi-millionaire redistributing a range of gay porn in the UK.
  • There was a rabbit the size of a mini-cooper sitting quietly and contentedly in one corner of the living room.
  • Apparently, according to Elizabeth Bennet, the rabbit was in fact "the FIX server".
  • I was running around trying to hide a large stash of porn videos from the Jane Austen heroines in case they were offended.
  • A very fit and barely clothed young man kept making me tie him up and / or bareback him in the gazebo.
  • He was insisting I was his first despite the fact he was very noticably in one of the films I was distributing.
  • He was blonde.
Now... the really worrying thing for me is that out of all of that it's only the last point that surprised me, because I rarely go for blondes.

But of course the giant rabbit didn't trouble me at all.

I really have no idea what to make of it, but I must say I enjoyed it all enormously.

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

Maximum Power!

I was noodling around on the keyboard when I got home last night. In fact I was making a nice minor chord and accenting it with a few discordant notes for atmosphere when the flatmate stopped in my doorway.

I let it squelch on for a bit while he impassively stared at me in silhouette.

"So," he finally glowered, nodding towards my endeavors, "Blake's in for a bit of trouble is he?"

"But of course," I said. "He's just left the RSC to take part in some cheap BBC sci-fi tat. How much more trouble do you want?"

Chris considered this for a moment, shrugged, and went to his room.

I switched presets and let loose with a blood-curdling metallic scrape.

The way he shut the door spoke volumes.

How Bloody Hard Can It Be?

The Sadist is on a roll.

Bouyed by his success in upping my strength (the project for this month) and punishing me with two abs workouts in a week - Jeez I was in pain over the weekend - he's broached the subject of me going in and doing a third - solo - session a week.

Which, to be fair, isn't a problem in itself. It'll do me more good after all and I'm not exactly doing much else of a lunchtime usually - Mondays aside when my thoughts stretch to new releases at Virgin and HMV - so why not. If he devises a couple of routines (I've specified no free weight stuff on account of the fact I can never remember the bloody moves) then I'll do 'em.

But it does leave me with one small problem: the question of gym kit.

Since I am being punished hard I tend to... well... sweat.

And since a) it's surprisingly salty (not to mention probably 50% proof); and b) I'm a clean living bunny, I always bung the kit in the wash when I get home and then toss it in the airing cupboard to be dry in time for the session two days later.

So clearly if I'm now doing three consecutive days a week I'm going to need another kit to alternate with because otherwise my current one won't be dry in time.

And can I find one?

Can I buggery.

Am I missing something? Do people not buy gym kit in the winter? Is there a law which says that from November through April M&S must not put any of their - rather tasteful and wipe clean - gymwear out?

In desperation I even took my dignity in my hands and wandered into somewhere called "Multi-sports" earlier. Frankly I had no idea darts was such a popular past-time, but their range of short-range, pointy, maiming equipment was surprisingly sizeable.

As indeed were their only t-shirts. There's probably a simple correlation between the two observations if you put your mind to it.

Slightly Flushed

- Mummy, mummy! Can I lick the bowl?
- No dear, just flush it like everyone else!
Now, I'm sorry to dwell on matters such as this, but I'm assuming you've had your breakfast.

It took three flushes this morning for a couple of sheets of toilet paper (or, if you prefer "bog roll") to finally be swept from the pan.

(Okay, so it was a chronic waste of water but I'm justifying it on the basis of scientific enquiry.)

Thing is, there was a lot of water sloshing around and all that on each occurrence, but all it resulted in was a load of clean water and a soggy bit of tissue, and I'm kind of thinking that this is somewhat excessive.

Is this a recent thing? Has toilet paper become more resilient and floaty of late? Is our standard flush becoming less effective due to some bizarre change in gravitational pull? Or has this always been the case and I've just been too wrapped up in myself to notice?

Much as it pains me to say it, I think the American / Canadian / European flushes I've seen on my travels have been far more effective - even if you do sometimes run the risk of being sucked down after it.

You'd have thought with the British obsession with bodily functions we'd have got it right first, really wouldn't you?

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

Quit While You're Ahead

It's official. Next Monday, 23rd January, will be the last Windypops! at the White Swan.

Other Rob has been wanting to hibernate it for a while and yesterday he put it to Tony that next week would be the last, whilst putting forward some ideas for alternatives the Swan could run.

Ultimately it came down to the fact that despite overwhelmingly positive reviews (the latest in last week's QX) and being the most successful Monday night venture the Swan has run, it still wasn't pulling in enough punters week after week to make us feel it was worth it.

Well... Bank Holidays aside, Mondays aren't a traditional clubbing night really.

People enjoyed it mind - as did we - but from our point of view there's only so far that love will take you. It is, after all, a big chunk of a school-night, and a guaranteed late one at that, with - for some of us - a desperately tedious amount of travel to do as well. (Public Transport in London that isn't along direct up/down or left/right lines is surprisingly badly served.)

So after more than a year - something of an achievement for a small club in itself - it was a case of either moving up a gear (unlikely given night and venue) or give it a rest. And so the latter has been chosen - we're all up to our eyes in busy-busy anyway.

Plus it's good to stop while the reviews are good and the landlord wants more.

It's not going to be the last that London hears of it, mind. Rob's looking to take it elsewhere and on another night sometime, so it will be back - just after a break where we can relax and re-energise a bit.

I'll miss it a little though. It's been an interesting ride.

Monday, January 16, 2006

People in Glass Houses...

"... shouldn't throw stones", goes the old adage. (Although as was noted on Round the Horne, "people in glass houses shouldn't" is actually complete as it stands)


Okay, so it's still not as shot through with holes as Windows is, but at least the frequent protests that MacOS is secure and bug free have been blown out of the water - almost as high as the claim that Microsoft nicked the idea of the GUI off Apple.

What with this and the concerns over what personal data is transmitted in the new version of iTunes, Apple's halo's getting a little bit tarnished at the moment.

But in the light of this I must say that I really don't have any desire to have a gloat.

Oh... alright. Maybe a quick one.

Hostage Situation

One of the great pleasures of a work-day morning is that opportunity you get to switch off the alarm, assess the situation and turn over in bed for "just another fifteen minutes" of shut-eye.

This morning, however, my fifteen minutes was one of fear and uncertainty, not snugness and duvet-wrapping.

Shortly after my rest began I heard to my annoyance a noise like the buzzing of what can only be described as a hell-wasp in my room. It had clearly entered but seconds before and made, if you'll pardon the pun, a bee-line for my bedside table where it commenced fifteen minutes of angrily bashing into the lamp and glass and walls by my head.

Naturally the minute I became aware of the intruder I did the sensible thing - I hid under the duvet and listened carefully, breathing in short shallow breaths to avoid detection. It was clearly a BFO hornet, horribly out of season and in my room to wreak havoc.

And there was me, stark naked, aware that the uncovering of any part of my body would present the intruder with a vast array of stinging opportunities.

After fifteen minutes of terrified immobility I realised that, even though the demon-hornet was still in my room, I had to make a move. I waited until the thing was reasonably quiet and pushed up the edge of my duvet. Not a sign.

With a quick grab I had removed my glasses from the bedside table and donned them under my security blanket while I considered my next move.

There was no option. Clasping a pillow which I felt I could reasonably flail with in an emergency (and cover my groin with if necessity required it) I flung back the duvet and fled to the opposite corner of the room. There I swiftly donned a dressing gown and was on the other side of the door by the time the noise started again.

For the next five minutes I made a coffee and calmed myself before grabbing a can of instant bug-death and carefully creeping back to my room.

There was silence.

I gingerly advanced on the suspect area, horror-film soundtrack playing in my head and peered round the side of the table to see what lurked malevolently beyond. And sure enough, the originator of my fear, the creature capable of creating such a terrifying wall of sound was there:

A common or garden housefly.

Big bugger, mind, but a fly nonetheless.

In line with the feeling of stupidity and shame I then found myself feeling, my revenge (two quick blasts of Raid) was swiftly and brutally administered.

And let that be a lesson to anyone who disturbs my morning procrastination.

Saturday, January 14, 2006

The Internet At Last Has a True Purpose

New favourite thing:


And the ever lovely Benjamin has written this wonderous entry on Lisa Reilly which I made the mistake of drinking cola while reading.

Don't you make the same mistake.

Whatever Next?

The Tesco Metro in Cheapside has installed self-service tills which I habitually use in preference to the normal manned checkouts.

It's all very clever: scan your item and put it in the bag. Only trouble is that the bagging area checks weight of the items, so you can't dump your other shopping from M&S or whatever in the bag as you're going because it really complains. I quicky learned not to do that.

Yesterday, however, I had a particular surprise when the system threw a wobbly at me as I dumped a bottle of water in the bag. Lo and behold an assistant hustled over and went "well, that's why: you've drunk some of it!".

I protested my innocence - I bloody hadn't - but he was right about one thing: in my hurry to get done I'd grabbed a bottle off the shelf which I hadn't noticed wasn't full.

Some little sod had clearly gone into the shop, opened a bottle, taken a sizable swig, closed it, put it back and left.

I must confess to being somewhat shocked by this. I got a new bottle and my innocence was believed, so that was alright, but I'm just stunned that anyone would do that in the first place.

What next? Rounding the corner to find a rug laid out and a family in full picnic?

People never cease to disappoint me.

Random Purchases

I made two purchases this week I have been planning to make for quite some time.

First was Twentieth Century Blues, the album the Pet Shop Boys collaborated on in '98 updating the songs of Noel Coward. I've long had the Divine Comedy's take on "I've Been to a Marvellous Party", and had Robbie Williams' "There are Bad Times Just Around the Corner" (a brilliant performance especially considering it's him) but wanted to see what the others were like.

Frankly about half of the rest of it's rubbish. But the Pets' take on "Sail Away", Vic Reeves' "Don't Put Your Daughter on the Stage Mrs Worthington", Suede's "Poor Little Rich Girl", Space's "Mad Dogs and Englishmen" are top notch stuff. Special Mention, however must go to Marianne Faithfull's rendition of "Mad About the Boy".

God she's got a fabulous voice that one. She must be on fifty a day at least (and I don't mean cigarettes - I mean garglings of sacks of gravel). Utter goddess - second only to Frances Barber in my opinion.

Shola Ama can fuck right off though. Utter crap.

The second purchase - and one arguably without any justification - was the Edirol PCR-A30 MIDI controller keyboard.

It's a lot bigger than I was intending to get, but hey. Hopefully realising my ideas for songs will now be a lot quicker - even though I'm not really a keyboard player I can pick out a tune okay.

Having a live pitch bend utility is proving the most fun, though.


Tuesday, January 10, 2006

All Fixed

Well, actually the boiler was all fixed on Friday - I just haven't blogged since then such was my shock.

The engineer arrived about mid-day on Friday, new Printed Circuit Board in hand. There then ensued a somewhat fraught hour where he fitted it and still couldn't get the thing to work.

Thus I sat in my room listening to one side of endless phone-calls to Potterton and fretting.

Finally I was summoned to the kitchen and the knob was turned. The fan in the boiler started spinning and after a few edge-of-seat seconds suddenly... phwoomph. We had lift-off.

I've never been so happy to see a small blue flame in my my life.

Turns out, typically, that our boiler operates on a completely different principle to every other Potterton boiler and everyone he'd spoken to up until the eighth person didn't know that.

The final person revealed that something as wonderfully low-tech as blowing down a rubber tube hidden at the back of the board would reset the air valve so the new PCB could initialise.

An hour later the place was toasty warm, and two hours later I had the most ludicrously and unforgivably hot and deep bath I can remember ever having.

Absolute bliss.

I told the flatmate about the success by phone. "And lo," he sighed, "tears of relief were wept throughout the land" and I couldn't help but agree.

Mind you, following the successful demonstration of said boiler's efficiency, the engineer proudly announced that he needed a pee.

"What better way to celebrate," I thought. And bade him feel free.

Friday, January 06, 2006

And it's Getting Better...

So, further to Tuesday's post, the situation with the boiler has not improved much.

After being put off on Tuesday, the boiler bloke turned up Wednesday, sucked the air in over his teeth and airily commented that the entire control board was shot and that we'd be looking at at least £600 to get a new one and have it fitted.

Stock of control boards was due that day, he'd come back Thursday and fit it in the morning.

He came yesterday, he fitted, it still didn't work.

Conclusion: replacement control board is also faulty.

I'm waiting for today's visit even now. Gah!

Thankfully Ben and Mikey allowed us use of their facilities last night so we were at least shaved and clean and scrubbed again.

It's amazing how much the simple act of having a hot bath came to mean to me, really.

Tuesday, January 03, 2006

2006 and All That

I've come to the conclusion I don't believe much in New Year. It's a useful reset point, a convenient time to look back see what you've achieved and decide how to move forwards, but I've decided as far as festivities go it's a waste of time. Too many of those parties have left me feeling cold and dead on the inside now to ever want to go to one again.

So this time I spent New Year's Eve at my Dad's in Canterbury: a few cups of tea, some fine food, shared televiewing and an early night. All in all it was possibly one of the nicest New Year's Eves I've had in a long time.

It would have been even nicer if my phone hadn't kept vibrating and lighting up the room with text messages as I tried to get to sleep. But then I was lazy enough not to want to get out of bed and turn it off so I had to accept it.

Resolutions? No, haven't really made any. No desires for specific achievements anyway. 2005 was an odd year on Planet Rob. It was more a consolidating year, one of gradual shift to a better state of affairs: new and challenging job, growing my social circle, sorting our my finances and getting round to changing what I disliked about myself. Losing the weight, toning up and beginning the laser strimming of my back have all had a compound effect on my confidence and put me in a sound mental position I think to move on.

So for me 2006 is a year of maximising my potential, building on that foundation. There's nothing specific I want to achieve, I just want to get out there and grow a bit more. And on that front I feel quite positive.

That said, though, the first three days at Chez Archway have been crap.

My flatmate's lost his passport so couldn't go to Tenerife yesterday and it's cost him a small fortune in lost holiday. Yesterday I chose to get off the train from Kent at London Bridge, only to be told as the train left the station that London Bridge Underground was being closed due to a security alert meaning I had to spend a small fortune on a taxi. Then I had creepy unwanted attention at Windypops! last night, the heating at home has packed in and - whilst I awaited a blokeybloke to fix that - the power in our street was cut for five hours meaning that he couldn't have done anything anyway.

These are just some of the various and sundry frustrations throwin our direction over the last couple of days. I can only hope this is the downswing of the wacky karmic wheel. There needs to be some positive feedback headed in this direction soon when it turns I tell you.

Otherwise I might just become a jaded old git again.