Friday, September 30, 2005

Tales of consumption

Tonight,for the first time in many years, I watched 'Taggart'[ITV1]. I could never bring myself to watch it after Taggart was written out of it (I believe that was when the actor playing the eponymous character died), unable to imagine the programme in a language I could understand. Having said that, tonight's story was really quite gripping, with some wonderful human touches in the environs of three murders.

Before that started, we watched the beginning of 'Talking Bob Dylan Blues'[BBC4], a concert recorded at The Barbican featuring Odetta, Billy Bragg, K T Tunstall and many others. I've recorded the full two hours of that concert for future consumption.

Talking of consumption; whilst watching the TV shows aforementioned we enjoyed a wonderful Vino da Tavola 'Monticello Rosso' ... I must remember not to be put off by the simple VdT designation.

Thursday, September 29, 2005

From acupuncture to system massage

The physio called this morning to go through the "history" of my illness and, is going to be providing a course of acupuncture, in the hope that this will alleviate some of the pain problems. Admittedly, in recent weeks pain hasn't been as much of a problem as fatigue and, Helen (the physio who shares the name of my beloved) seemed to be pleased with the efforts I had been making with regard to 'pacing', diet and vitamin/mineral supplements.

Too often in the past, Helen had been aware that the recommended graduated exercise approach recommended for some of her clients had proved detrimental. As someone who has suffered with ME herself, she is now much more cautious and, clearly understands the difference between depression and other causes of "tiredness". Anyway, I look forward to starting the acupuncture with only the mildest possible degree of trepidation!


On the computing front, I decided this afternoon to install the AntiVir PE Premium on my laptop and, replaced that programme with ntl Netguard on my PC. At least it gives me a minor sense of achievement and, it has once again shown the usefulness of the new Flash Drive ... it saves a little on 'download' usage!

Wednesday, September 28, 2005

A limitation of 'Netguard'

A problem just occurred to me last night regarding ‘ntl Netguard’! As it’s installed on my laptop and, a laptop is by definition portable, would Netguard protect me if the wireless connection came from a router on another ISP’s network?

The simple answer is no! [The following statement comes from the NTL website: “Netguard will not work while you are connected on another ISP’s network. It will start to work again once you reconnect to ntl’s network.]

Moral: do not rely on Netguard for a portable computer!

Just wondering, would it be possible to transfer AntiVir PE Premium from my PC to my laptop. Maybe I should pursue this idea!

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

Dark Nights and a Warm Heart(h)

After a day which held the promise of rain and, brought the odd light rain shower, as dusk approached so did a darker heavier shower, the sort that makes one think the gods are vengeful! It really is good to have the curtains drawn, as the temperature has taken a distinctly wintry turn, to shut out the blustery darkness.

Dvd and video recorders are both set up for more of the mini Dylan season and, we’re all set to watch “CSI: Miami” and a repeat “CSI: New York”, both on Channel 5.

Friendship has broken out between the minnows in the aquarium; it could well be a sense of gratitude that they don’t have to face the autumnal changes that the pond fish are experiencing.

I just give thanks that we are fortunate enough to have food in our belly and, a roof over our head.

Monday, September 26, 2005

Televisual Treats

Just caught the end of the Dylan profile, though we've recorded it all on Dvd, and now I'm just watching a follow up programme, "Dylan's Legends" (BBC4) at the moment about Woody Guthrie and featuring Pete Seeger (one of the heroes of my youth) ... we're currently recording this on VHS. It's always good to have one or two recordings to look back at and, look forward to!

Watched the final episode of "Rose & Maloney"(ITV1), which co-incided (time-wise) with the first hour and a half of the Scorsese Dylan profile. The electronic media is a wonderful thing; it's so easy to champion it when it presents programmes that suit one's own interests!

A bottle of 'Stafford Lodge', Sauvignon Blanc, Marlborough, 2003 enhanced our appreciation of these televisual treats.

From blood-letting to libations

Today, it was time to visit the blood-letters once more, although only one phial was required to carry out a liver-function test. It was really good to walk straight in, no queues, just yours truly. Helen, my beloved chauffeuse, didn’t even have time to read one page of her book in the waiting area; it was all over and done with so quickly! On my next visit they’ll require several phials of the red fluid but, that only adds seconds to the process. The important thing is to remember the quiet periods!

On my return home, decided to do a bit of work in the garden (details of which are recorded by Heterocon). Both Helen and myself are looking forward to the first part of Scorsese’s “No Direction Home – Bob Dylan” (BBC2) this evening. An event to be recorded! Perhaps I ought to raid the wine cellar to find an appropriate libation.

With threatening skies outside, it will be wonderful to just cosy-up with my beloved!

Sunday, September 25, 2005

To Love One's Enemy

To love one's enemies is the most difficult directive of Jesus, even loving one's neighbour is fraught with difficulty, especially when we realize how broad a definition of 'neighbour' is given by Jesus in the parable of the Good Samaritan. Wouldn't it be wonderful if we could live without prejudice?

I hate prejudice and yet, my own life is so full of it! I'm just watching "Frost" (ITV1), a programme I always enjoy but, I find almost from the off my prejudices come to the fore. I almost cringe at the 'piety' of the victim's brother in law; a former lover of the victim I instantly sympathize with, recognizing his all too human frailty. Of course, in this case a forensic pathologist is called in and, she's frightfully middle-class, I take an instant dislike. The priest in the picture acts very guiltily and, I think that must be par for the job!

My bets are on the pious brother-in-law ... not that I've got any evidence but, he's pious isn't he? In a situation like this, loving one's enemy is certainly hard but, it's almost equally difficult to know who's the real friend!

PS (10.19 pm) : I can't stand "know-alls" but, I was right!

Saturday, September 24, 2005

Idling Around and finding a bargain

After a very lazy start to the day, it has been a really good day. No sudden relief from my regulation tiredness but, I’ve enjoyed the day. Having found a bargain 512Mb Usb2 Flash Drive online, Helen drove me down to collect it from PC World … the assistant in the store seemed quite bemused that an item on the shelves for £50 could be collected and bought for £20 if ordered on-line.

After the visit to PC World, we drove into town to collect a book that Helen had ordered. Immediately on return, I set to preparation of the turkey steaks, that I’d marinated earlier, ready for Sunday lunch. The reason for this promptness was, the (not unreasonable) expectation that fatigue may have set in if I left the task any later. As it happens … fatigue hasn’t occurred yet! A fluctuation of body temperature, from over-heated to very cold, within an extremely short time-span has recurred this evening … perhaps that’s the bodies reaction in lieu of fatigue!

Once again, this evening we’ve been entertained by the ‘X-Factor’ auditions and, I’ve remembered to set up the DVD recorder, for the repeat showing (BBC4) of the two Loudon Wainwright III programmes we so enjoyed last night.


It was good to see that The Fox had re-entered the blogosphere last-night and, here’s hoping that normality is soon restored to his domicile after the recent re-wiring.

Friday, September 23, 2005

A Little Light Music

Hilarious, poignant, gently cynical, that’s Loudon Wainwright III currently providing some exhilaration to lift me from my humdrum routine. First we have one hour of a special concert, interspersed with interviews, courtesy of BBC4, to be followed on the same channel with some archive footage for a further hour. Fortunately, both programmes will be re-shown from midnight on Saturday so, I’ll remember (hopefully) to set up the DVD recorder. Thanks Loudon, thank-you BBC.

It’s truly amazing how he’s resurrected this fatigued soul! Tiredness had, once more, been the keynote of the day, exacerbated in no small way by an afternoon brief brisk walk. That relapse was overcome by a little kitchen creativity, a new variant on my celebrated Salmon Savoury Rice.

Afraid Mr Wainwright is distracting me from the serious matter of blogging so, I bid y’all a fond farewell!

Food For Thought

Although I got up reasonably early this morning, I've not yet felt ready to have any breakfast. Sure, I know all the arguments about the importance of this first food input of the day but, quite honestly, I'm just not hungry!

As I've been surfing the web, I came across this powerful and well presented PDF - Hunger In A World of Plenty: Facts Have Faces - and, once more it hit home just what a privileged life I lead! Whereas I can skip a meal, simply because I don't feel like it, there are millions who would love to have that luxury.

I am totally convinced that, if only we in the developed world had the political will, hunger could be abolished. An accompanying scandal is the degree of poverty prevalent in the most affluent nations.

Strange, how suddenly I begin to feel both hungry and, not a little, guilty!

Thursday, September 22, 2005

Getting Nowhere Slowly but enjoying the trip?

Although I've had no fresh incidence of the Security Centre/AntiVir conflict this evening, I did finally get around to entering a question about it on the AntiVir Support Forum as their support team still haven't bothered to reply!

Today has passed amazingly quickly, in spite of experiencing some incredibly disruptive technological misbehaviour. A very human trait of computer technology seems to be its temperamental nature.

Yes, I've got to admit that I can be temperamental too!

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

Kein Vorsprung Durch Technik

Sought advice on the PC Advisor forum re the apparent conflict between AntiVir Personal Edition Premium and Windows Security Centre. Received a response which pointed out how common a problem slow startup can be. Problem is I'd been aware of that difficulty for some time; the current problem is that the recent warning messages have been received whilst the Anti-Virus is already up and running.

At least that response was much quicker than AntiVir's support service. We are still waiting to hear from them. If that's the level of German customer service it's not surprising that their economy is encountering difficulties.

AntiVir Personal Edition Premium - lack of support!

I wrote a couple of days ago about a problem, that both my wife and myself were having with AntiVir Personal Edition Premium and the messages that it was "turned off" we were receiving from Windows Security Centre. It has become increasingly difficult to know which statement we believe, that it is turned off or that, according to the programme itself, it is "active"!

Both of us have contacted support at AntiVir but, two days later, no reply is forthcoming. By now, it seems quite definite we will not be renewing our Premium payments next year. As I said previously, this sort of problem never occurred when we were using the same companies free Anti Virus.

The mysteries of ad-free broadcasting

Following closely on a 7.00am news bulletin, on Radio 2, which mentioned the scandal of some BBC programmes (eg 'Coupling') using product placement, Sarah Kennedy, in her review of the papers, gave a plug to a proprietary brand of nasal spray, going so far as to state the products full name and retail price. It was claimed that this product can prevent a cold, if used at the first sign of a sniffle.

Methinks an advertisement feature, from a newspaper, has been presented as a news item. So, no product placement there!

Perhaps straight advertisements are now permissible on the beeb whilst product placement is a no-no.

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

Strange Phenomena

Tiredness is such a strange phenomenon, the more hours I spend in it's presence the less inclined am I to claim any understanding of it's modus operandi! Yesterday my withdrawal from the duvet-realm was a quite protracted affair, owing more I trust to genuine fatigue rather than lethargy (don't ask me to explain that word, I'm far too lazy to seek a definition).

Despite an overwhelming sense of tiredness prevailing, my brief brisk walk proved much easier than it has done for some time. My beloved and I have a mutual sense of currently being in a struggle with the common cold; this struggle of itself promotes weariness so by later evening we both felt quite shattered. In fact, I was too tired to apply my emollient cream before retiring but, I did manage to keep my eyelids propped open whilst I cleaned my teeth.

So, the story so far; I got into bed feeling "tired out" and, guess what ... I found it well nigh impossible to get to sleep fo several hours. Whatever my posture, it seemed to be the wrong one for attracting Morpheus. Night-sweats also played their part in my restlessness. My body should soon be tiring of its stupid game whereby, I suddenly become overheated and perspire profusely and so, remove myself from the covering of the lightest (lowest tog rated) duvet for a few blissful minutes before the cold shivers commence!

Surely, if I'm really tired the body should wean itself away from these ritual games and, allow me to sleep. Tiredness truly is a strange phenomenon.

Monday, September 19, 2005

A Sad Farewell

Today, the realization suddenly dawned on me that I have had to bid a sad farewell to three of my favourite journalists. So, it's farewell to Bob Herbert, Paul Krugman and Maureen Dowd all of the New York Times. The reason is the introduction of Times Select, a subscription only service which happens to include the Op-Ed contributions of these three journalists. Although on a low income, and living in the UK not the USA, I would be quite happy to pay a subscription to read these three journalists words but, unfortunately I would also be paying for services which are not of the least interest.

A 14 days free trial is currently on offer for this service but, that would only be postponing the inevitable

The contributions of this trio made me feel that there was perhaps something good to come out of America, whereas the policies of George Dubya have always contradicted this gut instinct. So, I bid a fond farewell.

Anti-Virus Personal Edition Premium

Just a little gripe, so unlike me, about the above anti-virus and it's interaction with Windows Security Centre. Both my better half and myself, (on Helen's laptop and my PC respectively) have been receiving warnings, from the Security Centre, that AntiVirus PE Premium is "switched off" whilst Anti-Vir itself states that it is active. Who are we to believe?

I hasten to add that this problem, with Windows Security Centre, never arose whilst we were using the same companies "free" Classic Edition.

An attempt to sign up/ log-in for the AV forum was somewhat thwarted by the predilection for using German instructions on the English Language page of the forum.

My laptop is now protected by ntl Netguard which does the same as Premium and more and, is supplied gratis for up to three machines for users of NTL's cable broadband service. Unfortunately, this wasn't an option at the time we subscribed to AV Premium, having been quite satisfied with the more limited free edition!

And Good Morning To You Too!

My late emergence into day was greeted with a communique from the Inland Revenue/ National Insurance Contributions Dept. They wished to inform me that for the Tax Year 2003 -2004 I had 34 NI contributions outstanding!

At least I was able to inform them that during those 34 weeks I was in an employment where, "My earnings were at or above ‘Lower Earnings Limit’ but below the ‘Earnings Threshold’ and, should therefore be treated as having paid Class 1 contributions."

When one has worked part-time in low paid employment, this is a familiar situation but, for all the supposed integration of Tax and National Insurance Departments and, their extortionately expensive computerised systems, such factors seem to elude them. This situation has, in the past, led to telephonic arguments with (un)civil servants failing to understand their own protocols. This time I felt it safer to reply by mail with the appropriate documentation.

Having dealt promptly with the matter, it will hopefully prevent any subsequent rises in my blood pressure!

Sunday, September 18, 2005

Fizz and Froth

Whilst awaiting the return of ma belle amoureuse, from her preaching appointment, I'm looking forward to the (sometimes biting) satire of "Bremner, Bird and Fortune" (Channel 4) ... just as I write these words my beloved has returned! So, I can expect a few eardrum splitting bursts of laughter as I view the aforementioned show. Strange how one's laughter gland is enabled even when the topic is serious!

After the 3B's, we both fancy a bit of froth so, "Legally Blonde" (Five) should fit the bill. I'm just going to chill a bottle of 'Pignoletto Frizzante" to serve as an aid to our (hopefully) pleasurable relaxation.

Saturday, September 17, 2005

Saturday Routines

Had a bit of a lie-in this morning, before venturing into town at the the start of an otherwise quiet day. The usual Saturday routine was followed with a lunch drawn from the freezer drawer, popped in the oven and then consumed early in the afternoon.

Enjoyed the usual Jazz programmes on Radio 3 (4.00 - 6.30p.m) which, latterly provided accompaniment to my preparations for Sunday lunch. Finished my kitchen chores just in time to catch the "X-Factor" (ITV) ... as usual, some real personalities with varying degrees of talent were far outnumbered by talentless wannabes. Highly entertaining! The "X-tra Factor" (ITV2), whilst covering some of the same auditions, has also proved quite addictive.

After that, we watched the first of a new series of drama-documentaries based on Murder Mysteries (BBC1). Helen and myself enjoyed a couple of glasses of 'Warburn Estate Show Reserve Shiraz, 2002', a wonderfully brambly concoction from New South Wales.

A good day, despite an ongoing struggle with fatigue!

Friday, September 16, 2005


After the persistent rain of recent days, it seemed like time to bale out some of the excess water from the garden pond. The sun was shining brightly, as I retrieved the baling bucket from the top shed, welcoming me into the fresh air’s company.

Baled out 100 litres, approximately half the amount that needed transferring to alternative containers but, in the process noticed the gathering black clouds. It was almost as if the heavens were saying, “You displace, we’ll replace”; I don’t really think the heavens understood the logic of my actions!

A couple of hours later, the heavenly meteorologist hasn’t quite determined his course of action. A few raindrops have fallen but, the darkest clouds have been replaced by an opaque milky sunscreen. Occasionally, the sun still manages to burn it’s way through the cloud filter.

At this point, I think of checking the barometer but then, the words of MacNeice spring to mind:

“The glass is falling hour by hour, the glass will fall for ever,
But if you break the bloody glass you won’t hold up the weather.”

[Louis MacNeice – ‘Bagpipe Music’ 1937]

Thursday, September 15, 2005

A Sense of Achievement

Today's achievement. I actually managed to get out to a social function this evening, where I remained for over an hour; I can hardly remember when it was I last managed this degree of emotional stamina.

The occasion was a Private View, at Harrogate's Mercer Art Gallery, of 'Songlines: Contemporary Aboriginal Art' and, 'Re-Invisible World: New Work by Christopher P. Wood. I was pleasantly surprised by the way the latter work gelled with the Aboriginal Art. Although there is something quintessentially English about Wood's work, a new feature of tracks through, and a sense of Spirits in the landscape, reflected an antipodean influence. Very much a sense of place.

It was also a good opportunity to renew contact with some old acquaintances and friends.

Shock, horror ... immorality in the arms trade

Britain's biggest arms firm, BAE Systems, has been identified on US banking records as secretly paying more than £1m to General Augusto Pinochet, the former Chilean dictator.

What a surprise to find that the military-industrial complex supports Fascists! I seem to remember Lady Thatcher was a keen supporter of the aforementioned General.

A Real Gem

Last night I stumbled upon something very precious, "The White Diamond", a documentary film by Werner Herzog from 2004. A big thankyou to BBC4 for bringing this gem into our living room. In many ways it was a typical Herzog production, the South American rainforest and a quest to overcome obstacles.

Overall, it proved a most uplifting experience in which one shared the "still floating" experience of a jungle airship designer, and diamond miner Yhap, ecstatically laid-back was just a treat and, it was his insight that saw the Airship as a white diamond above the jungle canopy. The dizzying flight of the myriad swifts around the falls was totally mesmerising.

The airship designer's recollections of his friend, Dieter Plage, killed whilst participating in a similar project 11 years earlier, were incredibly haunting. It really is quite rare to get the feeling that one is actually a participant in the events unfolding on screen!

This gem only serves to confirm the high regard in which I already held Herzog as a film-maker.

Wednesday, September 14, 2005

Further reflections on the ntl upgrade

I've just been checking up further about the ntl speed upgrade. Apparently, the only penalty for hitting your usage limit in any month is a reduction in speed for the remainder of the month. If that is indeed the case, why should their website offer the opportunity (advanced notice required) to remain at the slower speed? To me, it seems as if this option assumes a disadvantage in the speed upgrade.

Anyway, my beloved and I are now assuming that the situation is all gain! We're also contemplating an eventual upgrade to 2Mb.

Thinking aloud about NTL

Decided to uninstall AntiVir Classic from my laptop and, in it's place download and install ntlNetguard (only available to ntl cable broadband customers). This performs all the functions of AntiVir Personal Edition Premium (which is installed on my PC and Helen's laptop) plus pop-up and ad-blockers, as well as a Privacy manager and Form Filler/Password Manager. In common with AntiVir Premium, it has automatic updates and, scans e-mail. AntiVir Classic doesn't scan e-mails.

If I'm satisfied with it, I'll possibly change to Netguard on the two other machines when the AV Premium comes up for renewal. Why, because Netguard is free and, can be installed on up to three machines whereas, AV Premium costs 20 Euros per machine!

It's good to find ISP's starting to take some responsibility for security.


Further on the ntl front, they're currently upgrading all 300K connections to 1 Mb but, unfortunately they're capping it at 3Gb per month. Evidently, if one goes above that limit you'll have the option of upgrading (2Mb is capped at 30Gb and costs an extra £7 pm) or reverting to a slower speed. I'm not quite sure whether that slower speed will only be for the remainder of the month, starting the next month with a clean slate. The cap is what prevented me upgrading my connection at an earlier opportunity.

I'm not really sure how one calculates the usage!

Tuesday, September 13, 2005

Just the two of us ...

Apart from one or two minor glitches, today has been a really good day. Truth be told, any day I spend considerable time with my beloved is a good day; at heart I’m an incurable *sentimental romantic (* though those who know me well may suggest fully-mental!).

Apart from downloading Zone Alarm upgrades, for a PC and two laptops, I’ve had a totally lazy evening … in fact the download and installation is part of the lazy evening. In the early part of the evening, I completed a DVD recording, which already contained performances by Ella Fitzgerald, from both 1965 and 1974, with a 1982 performance by Betty Carter. It’s a useful exercise checking through old VHS recordings as, I’d forgotten ever having captured some of the programmes.

After the VHS to DVD transfers, it was time to settle down to watch some TV (the joys of couch-potato-dom!).Having just watched an episode of CSI: Miami, a repeat of a CSI: New York is currently showing so I’d better get back to Helen’s side, to jog her into a state of alertness!

It's just not cricket!

Radio 2's obsession with cricket has carried over into today. It gets a mention in the religious slot, the news (with reference to the victory parade of the England team), and on the Jeremy Vine show a discussion on the scandal of TV coverage of future Test matches going over to pay TV. The strange argument was presented that, somehow ball-by-ball coverage on terrestrial TV would lead to more interest in the game.

It's my suspicion that the one-eyed monster is to a large extent responsible for the lack of interest, as it seems more focussed on the 'video-bite' rather than any protracted active viewing that cricket would seem to require. When I was growing up, lots of children and adults would participate in the game at local level yet, very few of these participants had any access to TV! Nowadays that's a very rare sight.

Anyway that's enough moaning about cricket mania, no doubt it will be short-lived. The England players have become today's "celebrities" and, we all know how long celebrity lasts!

Suddenly, on my return from a hospital visit, switched on my laptop only to find I couldn't access Internet Explorer ... Runtime Error and all that jazz ... "This application has requested the Runtime to terminate in an unusual way .... blah! blah! blah!" Never had thiss problem on my old PC so, it's something new to try and troubleshoot. At least I've got Firefox in the meantime.


P.S. 5.35pm Grateful thanks to HP pavilion notebook e-mail support. Runtime error issue has now been resolved, simply by removing the 'Google' toolbar although, they did give quite comprehensive instructions for re-installing IE and it's Service Pack should this action not have provided a solution! Thankyou HP.

Monday, September 12, 2005

The Joys of Achievement

It's quite amazing how a little (weather-assisted) acheivement, by a reasonably good England cricket team, can be made to sound like a matter of vital national importance. ITV News took the trouble to speak to Sir Michael Jagger in New York for his middle-England response. Being sickened by this excessive gloating, decide to switch on Mark Radcliffe (Radio 2) and guess what that git chose to keep talking about ... this amazing cricketing achievement! Strange, I'd enjoyed his programme until now! Anyway, I'm currently enjoying Radio 3 ... hope I'm not soon going to be in for a fall!

News bulletins talk of England rejoicing/celebrating; I'm not, it's a game for god's sake. [For once I wish I was Australian; at least they won't want to talk about it!] I can remember times when the game hardly got a mention; let's hope those days soon return.

Actually, there's an impressive "Folk"programme on Radio 3 at the moment. Didn't know such a programme existed so, I suppose I should be grateful to the cricket twaddle on the Mark Radcliffe programme.

My Lost Years

This morning, two health related pieces of mail fell on the doormat. Opened the first one, from my GP's practice, headed INFLUENZA IMMUNIZATIONS: AUTUMN 2005, which invited me to receive the immunisation this autumn. The letter continued by stating that "it is now recommended each year for everyone aged 65 years or older". A quick bit of mental arithmetic disclosed that I was only 61 years of age so, had I slept longer than I suspected last night?

An accompanying page soon clarified the issue, it could be that my immune system isn't as effective as it should be ... that seems to be the primary contender for this honour, alongside throat problems.

The other health related epistle came from the Senior Physio (Mental Health) who will be calling to see me to assess "the fatigue and physical symptoms you are experiencing". Strange thing is, some of the physical symptoms have not beens as much in evidence since I came off the anti-depressants although, I'm not sure that there's any correlation between these two factors.

I've got to admit though, it was a relief to realize that I hadn't suddenly aged by four years. That's one less ailment to deal with!

Sunday, September 11, 2005

From pain to praise

Been trying, since this morning, to post a comment on an AOL blog but, each time, after inputting screen name & password, I receive the message that the service is "temporarily unavailable". Over a space of a couple of hours it’s understandable but, you’d expect them to get their finger out beyond that time. By now, it’s becoming a real pain.

I shouldn’t moan as, I at least have a life to be getting on with in the meantime. After rain this morning, the sun eventually found it’s way through the clouds and, I managed a brief brisk walk with Helen and Graham. Although exercise doesn’t come easily it’s good to get a little fresh air and a stretch of the lower limbs.

The Balti, which I prepared last evening, proved satisfying to all consumers; once more my cheffish brilliance has been exposed!

“Songs of Praise” from Caithness proved a quite worshipful experience, even the contribution of HRH Charlie Boy, whose advertised presence nearly prevented my viewing of the programme, was surprisingly good! A bit of ‘wee-frees’ Gaelic Psalm singing was a revelation and, “Will your anchor hold” carried me back to those dim-distant Boys Brigade services. The folksy presentation of “I heard the voice of Jesus say” and “When I survey”, conveyed a sincerity so often lacking in more contemporary worship songs.

Saturday, September 10, 2005

From Balti's to Jerusalem

A lazy but enjoyable day and, this despite a predominance of rain. Afraid I didn't get out for a bbw at all, somehow the timetable went all awry; breakfast after 11.00am, a pizza for lunch sometime after 2.00pm and, tea at around 7.00pm. Late afternoon I got around to preparing a Balti for Sunday lunch.

Everything these days starts in the griddle pan; a generous sprinkling of turmeric, coriander, cumin, garlic granules, ginger and assorted herbs are first heated to release the aroma and then a dash of oil. Next I threw in the chopped onion and, by the time it has 'sweated', throw in assorted sliced peppers and a bit of broccoli. Finally, add the minced lean beef; sorry, that's not quite final, once the meat has started browning add a few sliced mushrooms, a tin of plum tomatoes with lashings of coarsely ground black pepper, and a bit of care and affection. At this point I tend to add a bit of crushed garlic and some very lazy chillies and, then the cheating bit.

Add a jar of Balti sauce and, transfer the concoction to a casserole dish (or two) to which I the add a small quantity of gravy. Everything is then ready for putting in the oven for a short while.

If the description/ recipe sounds a little vague, that's because I largely play it by 'nose' (an olfactory form of playing by ear).

This evening, we enjoyed Proms in the Park from Glasgow (BBC4) and the second part of the prom from the Albert Hall (BBC1) before enjoying Glasgow's grand finale (back to BBC4). After that, we recorded "Jerusalem: An Anthem for England" (BBC4) having been very impressed when we watched it a couple of night's back.

Problems and Decisions

Still can't get used to the erratic/intermittent connectivity of my main PC (and indeed Helen's laptop) to the internet, ever since we got the new router. It's all rather puzzling how the new wireless laptop shares none of these problems but, the ethernet-wired Pc and Helen's machine, whether wirelessly or ethernet linked, both have a problem.

Helen's laptop has to be wired-up at the moment as, the new wireless card has blown. I sometimes think it's a wonder that anyone bothers with these darned machines. It's great when they're working though.


Having done the recent Elvis VHS to DVD transfers, the beloved thought it would be good to get hold of a copy of "King Creole" on DVD.

It sure pays to shop around; I came across the following prices (for the same edition) - £11.99, £9.99 and £5.99 (the latter two both postage paid). You can't start to imagine how difficult it was to decide which supplier to use!

Friday, September 09, 2005

Words by way of an apology for their absence.

The day has raced away and, it seems like no words are forthcoming. Basically, the last couple of days have borne a theme of tiredness. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not falling asleep all the time, it’s simply that I’ve been lacking sufficient energy to permit myself to seriously tackle any project and, today that seems to have included blog entries.

I suppose the combination of mowing the lawn a couple of days ago and, having an early morning yesterday, requires a bit of overcoming.

So, this is a brief entry to apologise for not having posted one!

Thursday, September 08, 2005

Physical Jerks (who grind you down)!

Following on from a necessary early emergence into the world of the day people, tiredness is creeping up on me but, I strive to regain a sense of alertness. Still, it was worth it to get the doctor’s appointment out of the way.

My beloved chauffeuse, on return home, had a quick turn around before heading off to see Beth. Meanwhile, Cathy is here sorting out a few more belongings to take to her nearby home.

No matter what programme’s on Radio 2 today, it’s inevitable that reference is made to the final test match of the current Ashes series. At least it makes a refreshing change from football talk. It seems such a long time since England had a team that didn’t become a source of embarrassment.

During my childhood there was always a real enthusiasm for cricket, especially in the few years I spent in Yorkshire and, I even found myself getting enthused although, in later years, my games/PE teachers did their best to ensure I would never have any interest in sport.

In my early teens, whilst living in Sunderland, I attended football matches more from a sense of tribal loyalty than any interest in the game. Our school game (at Bede Grammar School) was Rugby, which I never understood despite being thrust in to play hooker, or something like that, in our games period. Rugby wasn’t on the agenda at Thirsk Grammar, where my first year at secondary school was spent and, our bully-boy teachers never took the trouble to explain the rules or purpose of the game when I moved school.

Similarly, these same Loughborough trained thugs, held me under water at the swimming pool … “all our pupils swim”… even though there was no swimming pool near the previous school. That was the beginning of a phobia about walking near water be it stream, river or lake, which lasted until I was in my early thirties.

PE was always a bug bear, puny child that I was, and I used to get “punished” for not being able to do press-ups etc. It wasn’t my choice to be non-athletic, nor to have fascist PE instructors.

Incidentally, school days can be the most hellish of one’s life. Admittedly, a village school which I attended for a couple of years had PE/games lessons that I enjoyed; country dancing was our method of exercise there, much more suited to my temperament and disposition.

In a similar manner to the ignorant PE thugs, on the academic side at the same school my examination phobia went totally un-noticed and, as a result I left this high achieving school with two 'O' levels. By the time I reached the grand old age of 28, I went to University as a mature student and, there they recognized my difficulty at coping with crowded examination halls and, arranged for me to do my exams either alone or with a couple of other phobics. As a result I left there with a very good Upper Second honours degree.

One wonders just how many lives are blighted by the schooling system.

Wednesday, September 07, 2005

An Evening On My Ownsome

My beloved, on return from the hospital, cleared away the grassy residue from the lawn and, whilst in the garden gathered up a few wind-fall apples and, a generous amount of blackberries from the brambles which are colonizing swathes of the garden.

So that's one less task for me; the only other 'gardening' I did was to re-pot an Aloe Vera, taking care not to destroy the fresh outgrowths from its root system. It's really quite amazing, all the plants we've grown from the puny specimen my wife brought home a few months back. Must have inherited the 'green-fingers' from mum!

As Helen has gone out to her local preachers meeting, and Graham (who usually visits on Wednesday evenings) is out commiting acts of charity, I find myself all on my ownsome. There was a time, non-too-distant, when I revelled in my own company of an evening but, a blissful marriage has changed all that: it's sure got a lot to answer for!

Still, I'm enjoying a bit of surfing
(web-wise not marine) and the accompaniment of old fashioned steam radio; it takes one back.

Since I began this blog posting, I've had a couple of 'phone calls, one from Beth making arrangements for seeing her Mum (Helen) tomorrow and, the other call from my brother for a more general chat. Oh, what a busy life we lead!

Making Molehills out of a Mountain

At least it’s lovely and cool, and fresh, in the early (for me that is) morning so. I thought I’d go out and test my energy levels. Out of bed by 9.20AM, slightly against my better judgement, decided to tackle the lawn today. About 35 minutes into the task (of mowing) a dose of the wearies caught me out. So, I cleaned up the mower, brushed out the soggy mats of grass from behind the blade and, that was it. Several soggy mounds of severed grass are sprinkled around the lower section of the lawn, looking from the distance like off-colour molehills. If my energy returns, I’ll clear them up later but, I doubt whether I’ll get around to any more cutting!

Anyway, I suppose I ought to count that as an achievement, even though it’s a half completed task. By now I’m quite used to setting my sights a little lower, whatever I tackle!

Tuesday, September 06, 2005

Morning has broken ... (and almost dispersed)

A mere eleven hours in bed last night/ this morning, things are definitely looking up. Various minor discomforts kept me awake for some of the time but, once again a good proportion of the night was handed over to the care of Morpheus. It seems a long time now since I was able to manage (or perhaps I wasn't) on four or five hours sleep. Still, it's no use wailing over spilt lactiferous liquid.

It seems like a beautiful morning out there and, Helen has ventured off to do some craft work at the Acorn Centre and will be heading off for a walk with Cathy this afternoon. Meantime, I'd better get on with the preparation of some lunch; see what I can do with some Salmon fillets and a jacket potato!

There was a time, not too long ago that I enjoyed a walk without having to worry about conservation of (limited) energy; who knows, perhaps 'ere long I shall be restored! Here's hoping and praying.

This is the day the Lord has made and, I will attempt to rejoice in it.

Monday, September 05, 2005

Something Fishy

Twelve hours in bed, incorporating at least 8 or 9 hours sleep and, I should be feeling all bright-eyed and bushy-tailed. At least I know I’m awake; the only disruption of the night was the usual night sweats and a minor, ‘Gaviscon’ treated, bout of reflux.

One of the White Cloud Mountain minnows has been looking far more pale than I feel so, treatment is under way in the aquarium. It seems to hang in the plants far more than the expected norm but, each time it emerges into the open space its co-inhabitant soon sets to a process of harassment. The problem is, the only solution would be total isolation and yet, somehow that would seem to go against their normal communitarian habits. It seems like the temperament of fish is just as fickle as that of humankind.

Sunday, September 04, 2005

Katrina impromptu

An impromptu response to a BBC News Special:

By now we're all used to scenes of catastrophe on our television screens, even to some extent immune to the impact but, somehow the devastation caused by Hurricane Katrina still hits one extremely hard. The dilatory response of the federal authorities strikes one as so appalling, in this most powerful advanced nation. The tales of warning signs unheeded and, the way the tragedy has highlighted the enormous wealth gap will, hopefully, lead to some serious conscience stirring in matters of redistribution of wealth and resources. Perhaps that's just wishful thinking, greed and asocial personal wealth accumulation are such an integral priority to the American way of life. Free-market economies are devised to send the weakest to the wall! It is strange how a quirky act of nature has brought politics to the fore!

Saturday, September 03, 2005


Having felt quite jaded for most of the day, it didn’t help when the ‘new’ router once again lost its connection on the Ethernet wired PC and, lost a wonderful spontaneous blog entry into the bargain. The strange thing is the wireless connection on my laptop doesn’t have this problem but, my wife’s wireless laptop experiences the same problems! We never had any of these problems with the cheapest on the market ‘wired’ router.

Moan out of the way, my erstwhile jaded day improved at around 5.30pm when I got on with preparations for tomorrows dinner. It’s truly wonderful, the spark of brightness brought into one’s day by the griddle pans sizzle as one throws in a few chicken breasts, sliced onion, mushroom, assorted peppers and tomatoes onto the preheated spices and herbs. The coarsely ground black pepper adds a saliva producing savour to the overheated kitchen, especially when it’s accompanied by the extra sizzle of lashing of lemon juice. It’s amazing how, in the hands of yours truly, these random ingredients are harmonized. Toss the griddle pans content into a rich stock, et voila … two casserole dishes of main course to tide us over the next couple of days.

Next, the par-boiled potatoes are prepared in a garlic, coriander, cumin and herb laden water. At the appropriate time, strain them off and shake and bruise the edges whilst adding a sprinkling of garlic granules, Italian seasoning and Garam masala … leave them to relax until tomorrow’s immersion into the specially spiced olive oil.

Oh, the joys of home-cooking, especially when it’s mine!

A Night's Slow Journey Into Sleep

Friday evening, went to the local Brewer's Fayre with ma belle amoureuse. I enjoyed my Lamb & Rosemary Suet pudding with mash potaotoes, peas and carrots though, I must admit, by the time I was finishing it off the cumulative effect of the salt used in the cooking was becoming a bit cloying. Strangely, for a one time salt lover, I never use salt in any of my preparations, preferring a subtle use of herbs and spices to draw out the flavour.

Second mistake of the evening was to have a decaffeinated coffee (1 sugar) on return home; that combined with the aftertaste of my meal produced an unpleasant bout of reflux. After that, the evening improved as we enjoyed a bottle of 'Rocca Colmontano, Marche Bianco IGT, 2003' whilst watching an episode of "Midsommer Murders".

Suddenly, as I got upstairs, shortly before 11.00pm exhaustion and general dis-ease overwhelmed me. Tried various ways, whilst still fully clothed, of lying down and variously contorting my body to find a degree of comfort. By 1.30am I felt sufficiently energised to go and clean my teeth, get undressed, apply medicinal ointments and, get myself into bed. A generally unsettled feel crept up on me once more and, after a few twists and turns - this way and that, gave the effort up as a bad job and found myself heading PC-ward. Better to write about discomforts than it is to put up with them; at least it seems to help!

Friday, September 02, 2005

Elvis and Me

Finished off the Elvis compilation, this morning, with a selection of significant performances ranging from 1956 to 1977. The last performance was quite painful to watch but, so much of the earlier material demonstrated what an amazingly charismatic person he was. Speaking as a mere 'straight' man, I find it far too easy to acknowlege his tremendous sex appeal and charm; it's no wonder the girls went crazy over him whereas, many of the male popstars nowadays would be considered quite ordinary were it not for the particular 'sex-appeal' granted by the simple fact of fame/ celebrity.

Surprisingly, after 1958, I never paid much attention to the Presley canon; perhaps Hollywood over-exposure didn't permit me to take him seriously. On the other hand, I'd already become a bit of a jazz freak by my mid-teens, so perhaps I quite arrogantly dismissed him on the basis of my 'more mature' aesthetic sensibility!. I can't help the feeling though, that Elvis, in those early days was very much his own person and, one sensed that his 'rebellion' mirrored one's own!.

Thursday, September 01, 2005

Digging Up The King

An evening of nostalgia, sorting through some videos and re-compiling some of them. Tonight was the turn for an Elvis compilation, 'There's Only One Elvis', a tribute programme from 2002 (25th anniversary of his death), ' '56 Special' a compilation of Elvis performances from that year and, 'One Night With You' -uncut footage of the jam session for the '68 comeback special.

The early Elvis will always be the 'real' one for me but, for the improvisational set from '68 some of that special spark is once again present.

A wonderful evening!

In Katrina's Wake

Whilst our thoughts and prayers are with all those affected by Hurricane Katrina, the news of armed looters points to the shallowness of the veneer of civilization in one of the most powerful developed nations on earth. A further manifestation, of this greed, is the way developers were allowed to destroy barrier islands and wetlands which could have buffered some of the hurricane’s surge.

It is also notable that budget cuts were made to SELA (the Southeast
Louisiana Urban Flood Control Project) at the same time as Tax cuts were being granted for the benefit of the super-wealthy and, an expensively unnecessary war was being fought in Iraq. This is not to say that any new measures would have yet been in place but, it does lead one to question where the Washington administration’s priorities lie!

For a more positive aspect of human nature, in response to the crisis see the entry "Pouring Ourselves Out ..." on the 'Imitatio Christi' 'blog!

The following articles have made thought provoking reading:

Waiting For A Leader - New York Times
The Great Flood of ‘05 - Washington Post
Why The Levee Broke - Alternet

A New Dawn

Following yesterday’s early emergence from the duvet’s lair, I struggled unsuccessfully for the rest of the day with a general state of fatigue. Perhaps the impending meteorological conditions played their part as, a general muzzy-headedness veered into a nagging headache.

Outside, as the afternoon imposed itself, the sky became darker and, no … that wasn’t in the mind, culminated in the mother of all thunderstorms. Staccato forks and sheets of lightning seemed to be accompanied by a legato of thunder. It certainly was a day that the rains came down!

Today the air is beautifully fresh, sunshine and moderately strong breezes seem to be the menu. Managed a lie-in this morning,, despite the residue of yesterday’s headache, but I’m actually beginning to feel awake.

The postman delivered a welcome packet this morning, from, so I am currently enraptured by the amazing Mina Agossi. The smile on my face broadens by the minute. What an amazing instrument her voice is!