Dear Diary... October 2005

Monday 31st October - Nightmare For The Villa, Not That I Cared

Just got back from the City of Manchester Stadium where our lads did a marvellous job in defeating Aston Villa 3-1. And in truth it should have been a lot more than that, too. Always helps of course when the Villa defenders decide to put themselves in a mix up just four minutes in and gift their ex-player Darius Vassell with one of the easiest goals that he'll ever score. Just to add insult to injury for them he decided to strike an absolute peach of a volley after some good work from Andrew Cole, which of course sent me into raptures as you'd expect. Even though Villa pulled one back, it changed back in terms of momentum when Patrik Berger limped off injured, and even though the third goal took a deflection, I'm sure Cole will claim it. What was nice was the chant for Cole after the goal, and indeed after he was subbed near the end Eastlands rang with the sound of that. Hopefully he's won the fans over big time, and seeing as the law of averages dictates that you nearly always score against your former club, Fulham away on Saturday sounds an interesting prospect, methinks.

I did have a good weekend too despite the start of a cold coming on. I went down to Birmingham on the Saturday to do a bit of Christmas shopping. Everywhere was pretty busy but on the whole it was a good day - even if the rain decided to come in fits and starts. Found this really nice place just off one of the main streets to do lunch in, and the steak and ale pie I had was rather delicious. Plus - as an added bonus if I needed it - tons of real ale on tap. I stuck with a nice warming pint of Ruddles and that was me well and truly sorted.

Almost as good as that St. Austell Tribute Ale that I had when I was on holiday.... which my local Asda are now selling in bottles, woohoo! Sure, it doesn't taste exactly the same as it being hand pulled, but nonetheless it still is rather lovely. It's certainly one I'll buy regular as a little relaxing drink to myself now and then. Now if only they started selling Moonlight Oak Dark Mild that they used to have in Ra!n Bar, that would make my day big time.

Thursday 27th October - Back Online..

Well, after the council finally decided to remove the wheelie bin on Friday, another calamity decided to happen. My trusty Zoom PCI ADSL modem decided to tell me that the line was down, the lights on the control panel display were red, which meant no Internet access whatsoever. After a couple of calls with my ISP, at first they thought the microfilter was a bit poorly, so I went out and got one at the weekend. Still the same hassle. I rang them again and they launched a fault with BT - BT came back and said "make sure the customer's checked all their settings, plugged the computer into the main socket etc etc". So I did all that, still nothing, and so back to the ISP and they got back to BT again last night. And when I got home.. Eureka! Everything back and working as per normal. I have a feeling the fault was at the exchange end of things, because it seemed to me like the point at the exchange which acts as an ADSL network point was probably down, so I couldn't see a line to connect to. Still, it's working, and that's the main thing. Just wish BT had been a bit more efficient on my ISP's behalf to sort things out, but nonetheless it's a relief to be back.

During that time, I had used a 56K modem for a little while and that worked flawlessly, so at least I was able to collect some email. Mind you, it also told me just why I didn't particuarly want to stay at that speed for too much longer. At the same time though I was thinking about what a lecturer said to me at work in that some of the students on their course aren't that IT literate and probably went through school and college without having to touch a computer at all, fair enough I suppose. What did everyone do before the computer, before e-mail, before Internet, before a million television channels when you only had four, etc. I suppose too entertainment was different, board games and toys were more treasured and not so throwaway and so on. Just got me thinking really about how much we take things for granted in this day and age.

One final thought: is They Think It's All Over officially gone rubbish, or what? Even with Ian Wright as team captain it can't save the show. Boris Becker for me doesn't work as a team captain, and the new host Lee Mack just doesn't have the delivery needed. It might be just me, but it seems most of the laughs come from Rory McGrath - why didn't he get offered to host the show? Now that would at least have been interesting to say the least.

Thursday 20th October - Inefficiency

So after the wheelie bin fire, I rang the council to get the burnt out bin shifted and then the rubbish too. I got home last night, the bin had been moved away, but the rubbish was still piled there. I couldn't believe how inefficient the Council was in getting it shifted, so I rang their Environment on Call helpline again and told them what had happened, and they promised that someone would come and shift it today.

So I get home, and, yes, you've guessed it, it's still there. Another call to Environment on Call later and another promise to move it tomorrow. Put it this way, if they don't shift it tomorrow, when I get home from work I'll be an angry bunny. I'll probably not just give them a few strong words down the phone but also write a letter to their supervisor (probably carbon copy it to my MP as well) just to say how inefficient they are. I mean, I pay enough Council Tax so that things get shifted. The Bulky Refuse people within there do things properly: they've shifted my old washing machine and bathroom suite no hassle and left everywhere nice and clean, why can't refuse removal be as good? It's just thoroughly annoying, actually. Let's just see what happens tomorrow and go from there, methinks.

Anyway, enough griping. In other stuff, I've been kept busy by installing a couple of new printers, and a laptop arrived today for me to work on - turns out it's one admin staff will use for writing minutes at meetings so that they can then work on it at their PC after the meeting. In theory it's a good idea but I can't see that many people using it in practice unless they can type really quickly to keep up with the pace of some of the meetings that happen. But we'll see. In any case it's often easier to build up the software on the laptops from what you get with it, as often there's customised power saving, hot keys, and other such items that only generally work with that particular laptop and so on. And they're always changing the hardware in them. Bah. Ah well.

Tuesday 18th October - That's Wheelie Not On

I was awoken at around 1-45am this morning by a fire engine sound, right outside my house. I thought that was a bit odd, so I got up and opened the front door to have a look, and a good job I did. The fireman told me that a wheelie bin in the side alley next to the house had been set alight, and not only had the wheelie bin melted, but the heat generated was trying to heat the side of the house a little bit. Thankfully the fire brigade had got to it in time to actually stop any damage being caused, but the bin was a complete wreck along with the rubbish being dumped all over the alley. I was just relieved in a way - it could have been a lot worse and it only goes to show how many idiots are out there who just decide to commit such acts of vandalism.

And you know what? They do it because they know that they can get away with it, that they'll claim that they're bored, and that the justice system will invariably let them off because they're supposedly too young to be responsible for their actions. To all of that I say that's complete rubbish - if you're old enough to commit a crime, then you are old enough to commit a crime. It could have been tons worse - the alley backs on to next door's garage, and his car was probably laden with petrol. Imagine if any flames or heat had got near that? I dread to think what would have happened, to be honest. Not just that either, but I might not have been here typing this in a worse case scenario. It really made me also realise that sometimes you just have to make sure you live your life as much as you can, because you never know what's going to happen.

Sunday 16th October - There's Only One Uncle Fester!

Had a great day today, not least because I was finally able to get down to the City of Manchester Stadium and watch my beloved Manchester City do the business. I almost didn't make it for three reasons though, and only one of them was my own making. I'd done a bit of Christmas shopping first in Stockport and then Wythenshawe, and after that I got into town and managed to get back home and then into town for around 3-20pm, meaning I just had enough time to get the bus to the ground. Or so I thought, until the 216 match special bus turned the first corner and had to stop, due to a bus in front blocking the road. It turned out that one of its windows had been put through, so naturally the driver was a little bit shaken, as you'd expect really. He managed to get the bus out of the way and soon I was on my way to the ground, and got there really quickly. Got to the turnstile, swiped my card, and the bloody thing didn't work! I spotted one of the stewardesses with her little PDA, and she simply typed in my swipe card number to confirm that my card should have been active for this game. After that she very kindly used her master swipe card to open the turnstile to let me in. Yaay! I must try and get it checked out before the next home game though, just in case.

Anyway, got there and in my seat, and had a cracking view, third row from the front in the second tier of the South Stand. I'll have to get somewhere around here sometime again, as it really was a nice vantage point. As the game went on, City played really well and how we didn't score more than one in the first half was a mystery. That said, the goal that we did score was so worth it, Cole and Vassell combined really nicely before an excellent strike in the top corner, beautifully chipped in by Cole. With goals like that hopefully he'll silence the City fans who haven't taken to him becuase at one time he used to play for some other team who play near Manchester.. and in the second half he scored an easy one after the West Ham goalie, no less than ex-Red Roy "Honest, that goal against Tottenham was never over the line! I scooped it out!" Carroll could only parry the ball into his path after saving from Kiki Musampa. Kiki should have scored at least three himself, and with Vassell missing a couple of chances also, along with both Mills and Onouha having headers cleared off the line, we should have clearly won by a lot more, and West Ham scored a late consolation just to make us worry a bit.

Nonetheless, the 2-1 win put us fourth in the table and level on points with Man U, which isn't that bad eh? And the rapport between the City and West Ham fans was pretty good. One balding Hammers fan was really giving his team stick at 2-0 down, but also starting a lot of chants and really getting them all going. The City fans where I was sat spotted him and started singing to him "There's only one Uncle Fester!" along with the Addams Family theme. That said, I think he took it reasonably well and with some humour (well, I hope he did!) and fair play to their fans, they did their best to lift the team a lot. Some of them on the 216 back into town afterwards were all saying to us City fans on the bus that Andy Cole is still class, and that really they didn't get going - which was pretty true. It takes a lot as a fan to be sporting in defeat sometimes, but fair play, cos they were, and I'm sure they'll do okay this season and stay up easily. Any team that comes to City looking to play well and win can come any week they like as far as I'm concerned - seems to make us play better too. I'm starting to really really like Stuart Pearce as manager more and more by the day - have a read of this interview in the Daily Telegraph, brilliant stuff.

Tuesday 11th October - All The Leaves Are Falling, The Sky Isn't Grey

The weekend came and passed, not too bad on the whole. Been spending the last couple of days at work on our Help Desk as one of my colleagues was on leave - it was like old times all over again, not least as there were plenty of students requiring help and assistance. On the whole though, most of them are a nice bunch so I didn't mind one little bit. It's also good sometimes to see what sort of problems are out there and what students require from day to day. Most of them are quite pleased that we've put more camera card reader drives in the main room though, so that they can transfer images from their camera quickly and easily.

It definitely looks more autumnal outside though: all the trees by us are shedding leaves like no-one's business, although whatever the weather people predicted for the forthcoming cold snap doesn't seem to have hit us yet - it's still pretty warm outside and the sky isn't grey all the time, even if it completely hammered it down Saturday lunch time (to which I thank my lucky stars I was inside in the warm.) I suppose as well it'll only be a matter of time before the old "leaves on the line" excuse. Mind you, near me all the trees near the main train lines have been chopped away to minimise this risk, so who knows what'll happen?

Saturday 8th October - Looks Like We Made It..

I had a good day up until 4pm. I'd done a fair bit of Christmas shopping (about time too) in the morning, managed to get to Buffet City and have lunch there (and very nice it was too, as per usual) and was comfortably home before 3pm so I could soak up the atmosphere of most of the Wales v Northern Ireland match, a good game too that was, before settling in the sofa and getting comfortable for the England - Austria game at Old Trafford, which we had to win to have any chance of qualifying for the World Cup finals.

At half time I was just relieved to be 1-0 up but also angry at how crap we played, not least because as per usual Sven had no ideas or passion and the team just seemed to mirror his emotionless expression on the touchline. And although you can say what you like about Beckham's sending off, he brought it upon himself after the harsh booking, going in with a few tackles, and mouthing off to the ref occasionally. The fact he didn't get up after the challenge leading to his sending off probably didn't help, the ref could have easily taken that as diving or attempting to fool him with his tactics, acting like a spoilt child who's had his toys thrown out of the pram.

The most telling thing though, apart from hanging on for the last 25 minutes and really being desparate at times, something we should not have been doing, was the reaction of the crowd at the end. Although relieved with the win, understandably, they applauded that, but as Sven was heading towards the dressing room, most of the fans in the Stretford End could be heard loud and clear booing him, to which I say - good. It's not just me who's noticed that the last few performances have been terrible and that Eriksson is clearly not the man to lead England these days. It's Poland on Wednesday, but thanks to the Dutch, we don't have to win that one to qualify, only to win the group, something we should have done easily anyway.

Tuesday 4th October - Baptism of Relegation For Everton

The past weekend was quite busy, none the least because my sister was having her baby christened on Sunday. Now normally christenings are really nice and this was no exception, the service went well, even if it dragged on a bit, and the food at the do afterwards was a good spread all round, even if the DJ was bobbins and played everything far too loud considering the size of the room that was there. And the service was livened up by the priest there who really injected a little light humour and warmth into proceedings, can't be bad at all can it?

Anyway, due to Sky being Sky and insisting on a ridiculously early start for Manchester City's game against Everton on Sunday, this meant that during the church service several of my relations had one ear to the service, the other into a headphone which had the local radio station commentary of the game. Thankfully as kick off started after the service, it was only during the last part of the service that they were listening to both, and as we got to the place where the do was, the projector screen was showing the game - marvellous. Well, it was until the DJ decided he wanted to start up and asked for the projection screen to be put away. Everyone who then wanted to see the game went to another little room where there was a telly, and once the buffet was served, there was a telly there showing the game too, so of course it meant I could grab food and cheer on the team at the same time.

Can't argue with the result either - but based on that game it seems to me that Everton might end up possibly being relegated this season. Although they qualified for the Champions League, mainly based on early season performances, since they sold Thomas Gravesen in January, they haven't won that many games. And it seems that too many players have been brought in who haven't enhanced the team one bit - not to mention the rather iffy 4-5-1 formation, that although served them well last season, isn't doing so well this time around as many teams got to suss them out and simply blank out their formations with good tactics: such as the ones Stuart Pearce employed for City which worked well. Don't think anyone was expecting a 25 yard thunderbolt from Danny Mills of all people mind you, but there you go. If you watched Match of the Day 2 on the Sunday you'll have hopefully seen that Goal of the Month contender for yourself, along with many disgruntled Everton fans who left before the final whistle and heard Vassell's goal and the crowd cheer from outside the stadium.