Tuesday, March 29, 2005

Take them bowling

Master Dogwood's friend Charlie is sleeping over tonight, and so, because Master Dogwood is still snuffly the treat of the day was to go bowling at the local Superbowl. To be brutally snobbish it was chav central - far too many people wearing baseball caps when they clearly had no intention of playing baseball and enough nylon shell suits to create a major fire risk in the event of a stray spark. The place smelt of stale smoke, rancid chip fat and sweaty feet. The music was thumpingly loud, the balls were cracked and the pins wobbled and fell over of their own accord.

Needless to say, we all enjoyed it, although the kids started to get a little bored in the second game and went to play "Hair Ockey" as Charlie put it, instead. Ms Dogwood had the best technique of lobbing the ball down the lane and turning around to use her psychic powers to get it to knock the pins down. Nanny Dogwood won both games, telling us several times of the trophies that she had won in her youth, and was unbearably smug every time she got a strike.

I feel knackered now, but at least at my current rate I'll not be going bowling again until some time in 2012.

Monday, March 28, 2005

Aliens Vs Predator 2 : Marine Campaign


The exosuit crashing through the layers of resin that had covered the shaft. I could still hear the hum of the vast machines above me, built for unknown purpose by the pilots many millennia ago. I must have been unconscious for a brief moment before awakening to find myself in a chamber, the exosuit crumpled and damaged beyond repair by the fall. Alice had done her job well.

I had only my pistol and combat knife left as armaments. No signal from the radio or the motion tracker, but the staccato bark of a pulse rifle from the tunnel ahead told me where to go. That's where my team would be.

I was too late. I saw the alien queen dismember the last of them with a single flick of her tail. No time to think or consider a less rash course of action. I leapt down into the chamber and ran for the weapons that were left. A fully loaded mini gun and a rocket launcher would even the odds. The queen was as fast as me - perhaps faster - but her body would not turn as quickly as mine as I cut across her path and turned to face her. The barrels of the minigun span up to speed before spitting a stream of bullets in her face.

"Eat lead, bitch!"

The ammunition counter dwindled in a blur of numbers changing too rapidly to read. I spent the last of it on the queen's bodyguards, frantic in their efforts to protect their mistress. She seemed dazed and her raised her head in a howl of rage at the assault on her person.

Time to finish it.

I switched to my rocket launcher and activated the target acquisition screen. The reticule changed from green to yellow to red and the audible signal became a steady high pitched sound. I squeezed the trigger and the missile flew true to its target. I didn't wait to see the result, but reloaded and sent another missile to follow the first. The explosion ripped the queen in two, sending a spray of acid across the chamber, and opened a way out.

I ran past drones, seemingly too shocked by the death of their queen to react. I heard the familiar whine of the drop ship's engines and ran up a slope towards the light.

"Get the hell out of there Harrison!"

I reached the top of the ramp as the drop ship fought the wind shear and tried to lower its landing gear. I turned to see two of the queen's praetorian guards running up the ramp towards me. I grabbed for a WY-102 sniper rifle at my feet. No time to aim. No second chances. One shot finished each of them, the last falling no more than two meters from my feet in a spray of acid.

I jumped for the drop ship's ramp and safety.

Tomiko's voice came through on the radio, telling us not to try and save her from the Primary Operations Complex. I tried to argue, but the drop ship pilot cut across me, warning of a huge power spike coming from the reactors below, and she punched the ship into the stratosphere.

The face of the planet dissolved into a fiery hell.

No survivors, apart from the handful that made it back to the Verloc on the drop ship.

According to the Weyland-Yutani bioweapons division none of this took place. There was no captive alien breeding programme. There was no pilot technology on the site. There was no third species whose intervention on a matter of honour and revenge triggered this whole disaster.

It never happened.

Sunday, March 27, 2005

The best easter eggs of all

Breeding success for rare kakapo

Easter Eggs

We've had some fun this morning. Ms Dogwood was convinced that we had forgotten about Easter and kept asking what day it was in pointed tones, before cracking and asking "Isn't it supposed to be Easter Sunday today?" Of course, I told her it had been postponed due to the pope being ill, and I think she was quite worried for a while ... she's easier to wind up than a clock.

Of course, I hadn't forgotten, but I, errrm, I mean the Easter Bunny had left a trail of clues and mini eggs around the house for the kids (and nan) to follow. My favourites were

Fat and thoughtful, have a think,
If you find this clue you'll be tickled pink.


You need him to carry your bags on the links,
And other bags, perhaps for drinks

which had them alternately scratching their heads and then haring round the house when they twigged on. We've now got Mrs Dogwood's mum and dad here for lunch which is currently in the oven, so I think a glass of wine is in order ... :-)

Saturday, March 26, 2005


It's back.

I could leave it there, really. I'm not a fanatical whovian by any stretch of the imagination. I watched most of the Jon Pertwee era, through the Tom Baker years and by the time Peter Davison took the role my interest had more or less faded. I've followed the hype for the latest incarnation with interest, even if only from the point of view of having a good, fantastical bit of telly to watch on a Saturday night with the kids.

So, how did it stand up?

I'll assume that most of you out there will have seen it, either on tv tonight or via *hem*, *cough* other means. The things that didn't work were the occasional ropy bit of CGI (will we look back with fondness in years to come, in the same way that we pine for wobbly sets and rubber aliens?), and some scenes that seemed awkward - the doctor grappling with the autons whilst Rose stood looking on, pontificating, seemed to drag on for far too long.

The good things were far and away in the majority though - Christopher Eccleston is superb in the role, bringing humour and gravitas at the same time. There was a palpable edge of danger in some of his alien behavior - you did get the feeling that this was a Doctor who could make mistakes, and lose sight of the whole picture whilst trying to save the world. Billie Piper as Rose, is a slightly different kettle of dramatic fish. She does a good job of running around, and asking questions at the right time, but I think that we will need to see a bit more of her to make a final judgment.

The best spent money though, was in the Tardis set which retains enough to be familiar whilst impressing with the scale and detail. The scenes of Auton mayhem were similarly good with lots of screaming, breaking glass, explosions and the iconic wrist guns.

It's not perfect, but I would say it was at least on a par with the first episode of Buffy (not entirely co-incidentally being broadcast on Five at the same time), and we all know how that ended up.

I know where I'll be at seven o'clock for the next thirteen Saturdays - do you?

Neil Gaiman

For any Neil Gaiman fans out there, a sneak peek at the first chapter of his forthcoming novel, Anansi Boys.

Friday, March 25, 2005

Lazy Bones

Well, what a fabulously lazy day, but I think I earned it after yesterday. After a couple of hours of cleaning and hoovering upstairs I made the mistake of going to the supermarket (a) without a shopping list and (b) when I was hungry, with the result (a) that I spent far more than I should have on such essentials as dvds (recordable and otherwise) and posh crisps (jalapeno and cheese, anyone?) and (b) forgot two things that I actually wanted. Still, at least I did remember the drain cleaner which was pricy but seems to have done the trick on the plug hole in the bathroom which was making funny gurgling noises and whiffing a bit.

After lunch, the next tranche of shopping arrived courtesy of Mr Tesco with a garage's worth of tins, bottles (mmmm, Beer to Dine For, my current favourite since they stopped doing mini kegs of Boddingtons), dog and cat food, enough loo roll to keep Ms Dogwood supplied for the next week (what *does* she do with it all?), cereals and frozen stuff to restock the freezer. By the time I'd packed it all away it was time to pick Master Dogwood up from school (carefully clutching all of the letters he'd been given today), and the poor little chap was feeling poorly again, and it was a while before he felt up to playing the demo of Jade Empire on the dvd that came with the xbox magazine that was another one of my essential purchases. The game looks wonderful too - I love the way that once you have defeated an enemy you learn their particular form and can, for example, transform into a fiery horse demon. It's not out until May though, fret, fret, so I made up for it by buying a second hand copy of 'Mercenaries' off somebody on the internet.

Today, in contrast, in the words of Mike Skinner, I have done absolutely nowt. The most energetic I have been is two walks with the dog, and an hour of shooting aliens in Aliens Vs Predator 2, and by golly, can that game still make me jump. I was slowly making my way through a slime encrusted alien hive, having to shoot my team mates who had been implanted with parasites and superglued to the wall. Yakk.

This afternoon, I read a bit more of the wrist dislocatingly huge 1610 by Mary Gentle and then zonked out for two hours of blissful daydreams with a cooling breeze blowing through the window, and the sounds of birds tweeting in the spring sunshine.

Tokyo Sexwale

I don't know about you, but this has had me giggling like a loon all morning

Tuesday, March 22, 2005

Ruby Tuesday

The heavens opened this morning in a deluge that left me and the dog soaked by the time we got home. Being a dog, he shook muddy droplets over the kitchen floor that I had cleaned only yesterday before I had a chance to wipe him down. Grrrr.

They've been putting speed bumps and chicanes in down on Burncross Road, and as a result the traffic has been calmed to the point of catatonia, so it took me nearly fifteen minutes to drive the two and a half miles from my house to the motorway. The journey to Dudley was a slog, brightened only by spotting the 79 that had been eluding me for a while. As soon as I walked through the door I was asked to look at a journal import problem (he was trying to use his own template, rather than the one I created and documented for him), and then to look at plans for two new costing systems that we are going to be looking at next week. Oh joy.

Still, at least I got a nice email from somebody that I helped out yesterday :

'You want to be careful being this efficient. word will get round.'

... and now I'm at home with a coffee in our new filter mug and the new Mitch Benn series on Radio 4 to chuckle at. Bliss ...

Monday, March 21, 2005

The Whole Tooth

Today has not been a good day for Ms Dogwood.

She's got 'food technology' for the next eight weeks - that's cookery to you and me. It was cake making today, and she'd gone to the best resource available for a recipe, namely Nan, who gave her a tried and tested set of instructions. She transported all of the ingredients to school and started the lesson, but her teacher sniffily told her that the recipe contained too much flour and wouldn't work. It seems the other children had already been given the national curriculum approved recipe for sponge cake, but Alicia hadn't had a copy for some reason. Anyhoo, the cake came out just about perfect, and much better than the average first attempt for the rest of class, but there was not a word of praise or encouragement.

I picked her up from school at one o'clock for her appointment with the orthodontist at the dental hospital. She was having a new brace fitted and endured a 40 minute session of having the various bits cemented into place and was left feeling very sore and unable to bite properly at the front for the next week or so whilst it all beds in. She's also got a complicated care regime to follow, with a special brush for cleaning round the wires and flouride mouth wash to use as well.

Still, I can exclusively report that her sponge cake was spanking gorgeous and gets a five star A+ rating from me.

Sunday, March 20, 2005


Can anyone beat 1491 on this stupidly addictive little game?

Oh god! part 2

Seeing as this is turning out to a day for loony religous nonsense, would someone like to explain what the hell is wrong with these particular inbred fundamentalist morons who won't see a film about volcanoes in a museum in case it mentions evolution and upsets them?

Oh god!

I woke up early this morning and I put the radio on for a few minutes while my brain slowly defragged itself. It was a sunday morning religious programme and they were discussing a recent case in New York where a woman had had the temerity to lead a mixed congregation in prayer. The interviewer asked a british muslim leader about his views and for a while he was keen to stress that modern islam is enlightened and that women have many important roles to play, but when pressed a little further he said that an imam has a duty to lead prayer five times a day, every day, and that a woman couldn't do that when she was having her period.

Enlightened my arse.

The catholics are the same. They are quite happy for paedophiles to work as priests, as long as no one finds out, but a woman doing that job would be an abomination. The good old liberal c of e will let a woman work as a vicar, but they draw the line at a woman or a gay man being a bishop, presumably because they wouldn't be able to bring the necessary dignity to the job when wearing a purple frock.

Don't get me started on the ignorant bigots at christian voice who are trying to turn the looming election campaign into a debate on abortion and have even got the catholic and anglican archbishops to start pontificating on the issue.


Saturday, March 19, 2005

Zen and the art of the eight point parry sequence revisited

A long time ago, in a blog far, far away I wrote about the first rapier training session that I attended, and in particular the mind melting eight point parry sequence. Well, after six or seven months of study we're back there again, and this time with more understanding of the mechanics and the reasons for each of the attacks and defences. Even though we were rushing a little towards the end, and I could feel my technique starting to get a little sloppy as the exhaustion (mental and physical) set in, a lot of things started to slot into place and make sense. The concept of second intention where you make an attack, knowing how your opponent will parry it and thus anticipating how to take advantage of it, and then taking that further to third, fourth, fifth and beyond. Woahhh, dude ...

The only drawback today was the heating in the hall, which was set somewhere between tropical and supervolcano, and left us all broiling slowly in our jackets. I polished off a whole carton of grapefruit juice mixed with tonic water over the course of the day, and when we finished it was an incredible relief to climb into the car and wok the air con onto maximum for the drive home.


Well, after fiddling around trying to convert an avi file of Supervolcano into an mpeg to create a video cd I finally noticed that we had a dvd authoring program that came with our main computer. Doh! It's a doddle too, just import the file and it automagically burns it into a playable DVD complete with customisable menus.

I really enjoyed the show too. I've always had a fascination for the awesome unstoppable power of volcanoes. I remember as a child watching footage of lava from Mount Etna destroying roads and houses despite the efforts to divert it. More recently I read more about explosive eruptions and 800 Kph pyrochlastic flows burning everything in their path in a fascinating and frightening book called 'Surviving Galeras' by an american volcanologist called Stanley Williams, who was caught in an eruption that killed most of his colleagues.

Supervolcano was a great bit of end-of-the-world-as-we-know-it speculation with some nice computer graphics and one or two contrived action scenes. I wanted to know more about the long term effects on the world climate, but I suppose that would be the least of our worries if an eruption on that scale actually did happen. The main point really was the utter helplessness of humanity faced with something like that. The only real achievement of the main character was advising people to walk away from the areas blanketed in ash simply because there was no realistic prospect of aid and rescue ever reaching them. There was no way to prevent the eruption or to diminish its effects once it had all kicked off. If this had been an american production then Bruce Willis would have been sent in to plug the crater single handed (which is more or less what happened in the very silly film 'Volcano' a few years ago), but for the rest of us we saw america nearly wiped out in the space of a week.

Top entertainment!

Wednesday, March 16, 2005

Ghosts of Mars

In another astonishing series of images the Spirit Rover has taken pictures of an 8km high tornado making it's way across the martian landscape. The story can be seen here and an animation showing the faint whisp of the dust devil can be seen

Monday, March 14, 2005

Holy Bat-Lego!

This short film is a quite astonishing student project. A cgi animated
Batman feature, with all of the characters created from virtual lego
blocks, and Adam West and Mark Hamill providing the voices. It's a big
download, but well worth the wait.

Batman : New Times

Sunday, March 13, 2005

Alien Vs Predator

It started as a throwaway joke in the film Predator 2 - an alien skull displayed as hunting trophy in a blink and you'd miss it shot. From that simple premise - predators hunting aliens for sport - was born an entire mythology explored in comics, books and a couple of excellent video games, and now the inevitable film.

The verdict? Surprisingly good ...

The idea is simple - the predators have been coming to earth for thousands of years and were worshipped as gods by the Aztecs who built pyramids for them. The pyramids were used as elaborate breeding grounds for aliens who would then be hunted by predators eager to prove themselves as warriors. One of these pyramids has been discovered under the Antarctic ice by a spy satellite owned by a billionaire dilettante eager to leave a legacy behind. He sends an expedition to go and see what's hidden there.

The film doesn't waste any time in skipping straight to the action. Even the extended version on the DVD only lasts for 90 minutes, but it is used very effectively. You know that the large cast of nameless extras are only there as cannon fodder, but it doesn't really matter. We are only here to see some mano-a-mano (or should that be predo-a-alieno) combat, and it's there in spades.

It is very stylish, with dark shadows, predators in subdued metal armour and beetle like aliens, shot in a chiarascoro style, intercut with flying luminous green blood splattering the ever shifting walls of the pyramid. The only minor annoyances are the archaeologist character who only seems to have been brought along to deliver the occasional wodge of exposition to set up the plot and one or two unlikely contrivances, but there is not enough to break the atmosphere.

Highly recommended for a bit of escapist SF action, and it's made me want to load up Aliens Vs Predator 2 on the pc again ...

Saturday, March 12, 2005

BBC - Test The Nation

Ok, it's Test The Nation time again. I've got 59/70 in this one - anyone else going to have a go (and own up to their score)?

Best Dream

Well, I think it must be the best dream I ever had . . .

I was a new student at Warmbergs Wizarding Academy. Not a decrepit and forbidding castle like Hogwarts, but rather a bustling campus with a higgledy piggledy collection of low buildings linked by cloisters and quadrangles. Even though the night was chilly as I followed the Professor through the graveyard the nervous anticipation of joining a school halfway through a term stopped me from feeling the cold.

"Do graveyards worry you?" she asked, as a specter swooped around one of the larger tombstones.

"No, but forests at night are a different story"

We entered a refectory full of chatting students of all ages, and I has trouble keeping up and nearly lost sight of my guide. We weren't stopping to eat, but headed for a corridor on the far side of the room past the serving hatch. Beyond that was a sports hall, and a fencing club lesson was in progress.

"Excuse me, Professor? I'd quite like to join this club. I've been learning rapier for a while now and I like the speed and control of the blade that you get with it."

I swished my rapier through a couple of moulinets to demonstrate.

"It's £21 per term, but you'll need to speak to Professor Liza Tarbuck about joining up. Hurry up, we must attend your sorting interview"

She led me into a small office, the desk overflowing with papers weighted down by a skull serving as a makeshift paperweight, and presented me with a piece of parchment. It was a questionnaire of sorts, and as I filled it in the colours swirled through red, yellow and green. A man I'd not noticed before was sitting in a chair in the corner of the room.

"Slytherin would be a good choice for you. I think you'd be interested in my physics class"

The parchment displayed illustrations in the style of Leonardo da Vinci for a brief moment, before swirling to blue.

"Ravenclaw for you, I think" said an oriental woman in a dark blue silk dress.

"That's fine by me, but I'd like to go back to the rapier class for a while before I find my room."


I woke from this most lucid of dreams to a brilliantly clear day and a crisp bracing walk in the woods to clear my head. I have no idea what the dream means, but it was a remarkable experience.

Friday, March 11, 2005

My desktop

Comic Relief

Well, it's Red Nose Day once again.

I'm multi-shirking at home today, so here's the deal - if you promise
to donate something to Comic Relief tonight I'll do something silly.
Just leave your suggestions in the comments box. It could be writing a
post on a subject you specify, using a particular word in conversation
on the phone to the office or taking a picture (silly or otherwise) to
put on line. The only constraints are that it has to be non-life
threatening, not actually illegal and physically possible.

Gulp ...

Thursday, March 10, 2005

Wooden Laptop

This hand crafted Wooden Laptop is *the* most desirable bit of technology I've seen for ages. Drool.

Wednesday, March 09, 2005

Chinese Whispers

Leeds today, and sushi for lunch as usual. I had planned to spend some time looking at the structure of the phone data files that I had been sent yesterday, but I was continually interupted by a series of odd calls from the maintenance contracts manager. She's trying to use the recurring invoice module for the first time and having problems, which I've referred on to the third party support company for our accounts software. They keep asking her to send files for them to look at, and then she rings me because she doesn't know what to send them and I get a message on the lines of "I think it was an output file they wanted, but I'm not really sure", and then I have to ring them directly (and wait on hold for ten minutes) to try and work out what it is they actually want. I asked the support guy what he wanted and why, and he asked for an import file that was supposedly causing problems. I pointed out that the recurring invoice system doesn't actually use journal import files - it writes the transactions directly to a table in the database where they get picked up by the ledger transfer routine, and therefore might the problem be that she is using the wrong routine to import the transactions?


Tuesday, March 08, 2005

Who's a prat?

Birmingham today, and the new job on my list is loading up all of the phone bill transactions for the company mobiles to a database so we can analyze them properly. There are something like 30,000 transactions per month so it is a non-trivial exercise. The review was prompted by the discovery that one of the employees had somehow managed to run up £500 worth of personal calls on his mobile, thinking that it would all just go unnoticed on the company account. He is pretty fortunate to get away with just paying it back and not losing his job.

Monday, March 07, 2005

Stupid support call of the day

"I want to test the recurring invoice run in the training database - can you copy the data across please?"
"No problem. Do you want just the recurring invoice data, or the whole ledger file - because that will take a lot longer to restore. The ledger data in there at the moment is two weeks old"
"Just the recurring invoice data"

Half an hour later.

"The total for the invoices in the month doesn't tie up between the training database and the live database"
"That's because the ledger file is only correct up to the last time it was copied into training. Do you want me to restore the whole lot then?"
"Yes please"


Sunday, March 06, 2005

He did it Otway


I'd forgotten exactly how good a live performer John Otway really is. We were down at the Sheffield Boardwalk (out of the sun) last night, and the atmosphere seemed a little subdued. Otway himself was sat having a drink in the bar, just looking like the amiable oaf that he is, as the place slowly filled up. Murray Torkildson, Otway's rhythm guitarist, played a short set as a support act and it was an enjoyable start to the evening. After a short break, the band took to the stage ...

"In 1977 'Mull of Kintyre' was number 1, 'Grandma we love you' was at number 8 and this song soared all the way to number 27", was the intro before a blistering performance of 'Cor Baby That's Really Free', and it was followed by a high octane set of Otway classics (including both his hits from a chart career spanning twenty five years, and the seventh best song lyric of the last millennium). There were also a couple of songs from the new album, with the funky 'International Dateline' standing out as the best, although one of the encores 'The Old Fiddler' proved that Otway's violin teacher was probably right all along ...

Richard Holgarth, the lead guitarist, was on cracking form and turned some classic bits of guitar work on 'You ain't seen nothing yet', and the Big Band were as good as I've ever heard them over the last ten years. Otway's mastery of the Theramin is as inspired as ever on 'Crazy Horses' and even the on-stage banter still made me laugh even though I'd heard a lot of the jokes before. Otway is just a natural jester, in the very best sense of the word. Even his 'microstar' preenings have a self deprecating edge to them.

This is a man that I would travel round the world to see, and if all goes to plan, next year I hope to do just that ... :-)

Saturday, March 05, 2005

Hit and Run

A miserable, damp and cold Saturday afternoon and me and Master Dogwood were in need of some video game based entertainment. What hadn't we played for a while? Ah, Simpsons Hit and Run - the date on the last save game was back in 2003, and even though I'd reviewed it back in UGVM Issue 7 we'd never actually got around to completing it.

Blimey, I'd forgotten what an infuriatingly difficult and yet somehow strangely compelling game this was. I completed the Apu missions, with a particularly tricky one involving running a museum curators car off the road, stealing a key and then getting back to the museum in under two minutes took me at least twenty attempts before I cracked it.

Level 6 next, and more Bart missions around Squidport ... :-)

Friday, March 04, 2005

SQL Woes Redux

Oh, it gets worse.

Duplicate transactions, missing activity codes, invalid contract codes - all of them throw my reports out of balance, so I've got to go back to running queries directly in enterprise manager (and what fun that is) to try to unpick it. To make it even more enjoyable I'm working on a dial up link, to a pc-anywhere connection, to a remote desktop connection which runs like a pig in treacle.

I'm not a happy bunny, and even an email from the boss with smiley faces in it isn't going to make this any better.

Grrr squared.

Thursday, March 03, 2005

SQL woes

The reports were all fine and dandy, and everything seemed to going swimmingly when I got an email from the director wondering why some of the transactions appeared to be missing. I went back to the database, and everything looked fine. I checked the view that I was using to see that all the joins were set up correctly. I extracted all the transactions and the ones I wanted were there, but they weren't showing up in the extract using MS Query. I started taking away the selection criteria, until I realized that using a LIKE operator in the WHERE clause wasn't pulling back records where there was a null in a particular field, even when you set the wildcard to select everything. It's a non-validated field as well, so I've got to pull back all the data and then start filtering it with pivot tables in Excel to get the report I need.

Oh Joy.

Wednesday, March 02, 2005

A man's gotta do ...

I was still feeling rough, but I'd already arranged a meeting with one of the directors to sort out the reports for the timesheet system, so off to Leeds it was. I got about half way there when the snow started to fall and everything ground to a halt - the roads were clear, but the mere sight of a snowflake is enough to paralyze the whole of the motorway network. I was crawling along for about half an hour and was starting to wonder if I'd get to the office on time when I got a call from the guy I was supposed to be meeting, and it turned out that he was even further back in the traffic jam than I was.

Still, I got there in one piece and the meeting was productive, but come lunchtime I didn't feel like walking into Leeds to buy sushi so I was stuck with going to the local Boots for their very meagre selection of sandwiches (and they overcharged me for the so called, self styled 'meal deal' offer). No, I haven't got an advantage card either. Grrr.

Tuesday, March 01, 2005

The coughing that carried him off

I'd not been feeling too bad for the last couple of days - well enough to go fencing on Sunday afternoon and last night, but the cold now seems to have mutated into a chest infection. I've got a hacking cough that feels like the lining of my lungs is being scrubbed with a brillo pad. I'd dosed myself up with lemsips again for the drive to Birmingham and back, but they'd worn off by the time I got back home.

I went upstairs to listen to the radio and fell asleep on the bed, waking up after half an hour shivering and feeling awful. Not good.

Sorry for the winging post. Normal service will be resumed as soon as the drugs start working.