Dear Diary...

This is my diary. How things are. Or something. Please note that the diary is archived month by month, so feel free to click the links for the archives:

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2003


Friday 23rd October - Fixing on Friday

The Love In My Heart headed off for work early, and so had time to rest before getting up for work, and had some toast for breakfast and a coffee, with Brian the cat more than happy to just sit by the window and chill out. As I started work and had the work laptop on the table, Brian decided to do what he does when The Love uses her laptop, and snuggle behind where the screen was and poke his head round the corner where the heat is from the heatsink. He was a very happy cat there and it was nice to have his content face there whilst I was working. Awww, he is just so cute.

It was all about the various calls today. I had a call with my manager with regards to a software deployment, and how that would all work. I explained the way collection membership works in MECM, so we added the machines to the AD group that the MECM collection was based on, and on next collection membership evaluation, it all worked the right way. That made us both happy and I provided some screen shots for the users too, so all good. I was also involved in a technical call with our inventory software vendor, and working out an issue which meant that a SQL query was taking 48 seconds, beyond the 30 seconds timeout allowed.

In the afternoon I had worked out a training session for our Service Desk team lead so they could go through some of the inventory software stuff with us, and it was good that they were easily picking up the information that we needed and was able to get the info out that was required. In a way it was good to be able to back up the documentation that I had written and indeed out of that I made a couple of tweaks to one of the documents too, so definitely a two way positive thing too. I also noted that the time today was going very quickly due to all of the meetings I had.

I had the final meeting at around 5.15pm and the day ended well with us all looking back in the team that it had been a good week, and it definitely had to be honest. The Love had arrived home from work after a long week, and so as she didn't fancy shopping and I had a voucher for 20% off at Just Eat, we decided to get takeout. In the end we used a place we had ordered from before, La Canadien, and we each had a nice burger and chips with some onion rings and a bottle of 7Up too. My steak burger with cheese and bacon was absolutely spot on, and really cooked well, definitely can recommend that place to everyone to be honest.

We knew that later on Celebrity Gogglebox was on for the Stand Up To Cancer nighton Channel 4. They had the three main actors from Line of Duty, and that was funny when they were debating the Family Fortunes answers, with singing in the shower being the most popular, much to the delight of Martin Compston, it has to be said. It was fascinating to see Victoria Coren Mitchell and David Mitchell at home chattering with the sofa by their fireplace too, and working out how the brothers would end up having a domestic on The Cube. It was nice also to see the likes of John Bishop with Roger Daltrey, and also the regulars on too commenting.

The Lovd was a little tired due to a hard week and headed off to bed, and I watched The Last Leg. It was great to see the three of them back, and Adam Hills explained how he had gone through lockdown in Melbourne before heading back to London. As usual their light humour and taking the issues seriously too reallly did resonate well, and for Adam also to have his prostrate checked on air to encourage others to do the same for awareness of prostrate cancer was a good move. The theme tune, Harder Than You Think by Public Enemy, is of course tune of the day.

Thursday 22nd October - Escape

It was a day off work today so I could get everything sorted around the flat, and all I needed to do, before then heading up to Manchester later to spend some time with The Love In My Heart. We discussed it and thought that as Manchester was going into Tier 3, we needed to at least be together and to help each other all round - mental health is important and as we had formed our own support bubble with each other during the Spring lockdown, it made sense to be together and to at least have more company for Brian the cat, who I am sure will appreciate the extra love and cuddles.

I had rearranged my appointment with James Barbers for my hair cut this morning, and so the staff there did their usual great job of keeping my hair tidy and nice and short. It was good to chatter to them about the likes of football as well as what's going on, and they were discussing what rules were when, as the manager lives in a Tier 1 area, and London is Tier 2, and how he could meet friends for lunch. I explained if all based in Tier 1, go to a Tier 1 place, you'll be fine, but if any are Tier 2, they are no go. Of course this is where it's going to be difficult, especially as the Tier 1 area mentioned is right next to Tier 2.

I headed back via Wimbledon and had a good mooch around Uniqlo before then going into Wilko and stocking up on cleaning products before taking the tram back to the flat. I had already done a bit of cleaning, so was a case of cleaning the bathroom, hoovering and dusting everywhere, and empying all the bins and recycling too. The last package I was waiting for (some new Fred Perry trainers courtesy of M and M Direct) arrived too, so no more deliveries forthcoming. I'll be taking them with me and wearing them so I have some alternatives, and packed all the other footwear away in their boxes.

Later in the day I headed to East Croydon station, with case and all stuff packed, and I took the train to St Pancras, and then took the shortcut walk I know over to Euston. I had booked First Class for tonight, as it'd be more comfy and I'd get fed and watered, and the first class lounge was open. The staff were all brilliant, and served me coffee with some snacks. All tables were distanced and you had to wear a face covering unless seated, which worked well. It did feel pretty quiet, but was nice that it was at least open and I didn't have to wait on the concourse before the train was announced. Winning.

It was then on the 1920 train to Manchester, and after the stop at Milton Keynes Central, the staff came through with food and drinks. I asked for the Camden Hells, they gave me two cans. Excellent. I also had the pork and apple sausage roll which was lovely and warm and nice, as well as some crisps and snacks. That kept me going nicely as did some tunes on the iPod too, so tune of the day is the excellent new single Tears by Little Sparrow, a version of a song her father wrote in the 1980s, and with a really good video to boot too. Nice.

I arrived in Manchester, knowing I had got there in time before the Tier 3 restrictions kicked in, and The Love In My Heart came to collect me. We were soon back at The Love's place, and Brian the cat was more than happy to be having a fuss and cuddles all round. He does like to be snuggled up to Mummy now a lot of the time and sat on the sofa next to Mummy. It was a better journey not to be so tiring, but had carried a lot of stuff with me, so unpacked the case and then we settled for some sleep, as The Love had an early start at work tomorrow. We were back together, and this matters.

Wednesday 21st October - Clearing Out For Charity

With all the recent goings on, and indeed knowing that there's people out there who are struggling, I thought that a charitable donation of some of my old clothes to be recycled was the right thing to do. In fact one of the clothes recycling collection bins not far from me has them all going to the Salvation Army, which is a good cause in my view, and I know that whatever is donated will be helpful. I also thought that with Winter on its way, any old jumpers or pairs of jeans I don't wear anymore might at least be handy, so decided to check what I had.

It's always a sensible purge I've done now and then and I think for me less is sometimes more - I'm getting to the point of where the wardrobe is stable and that pretty much all the things in there are what I'll wear during the year and so less wastage. In fact when I got the shirt the other day from Uniqlo in Manchester I did think if it was going to be one I'd wear a fair bit, and it definitely is, so that made it worth it. In fact, I got shut of a fair number of jumpers mainly that had bobbled awfully or just weren't particularly looking right to be honest.

So, once I'd bagged most of those in a black bag, I had a rather large House of Fraser carrier to give them another layer of protection, especially as it had been raining for most of the day and wanted to be sure that they were all good. And after work, off on the bus to Tesco in Purley to where the recycling is. Interestingly, only the clothes ones appear to be there at the moment, the remainder had gone, but that was fine, and did the honours and placed that large bag inside. It did make me feel better for doing that and I'd much rather some good came out of them instead of adding to landfill. Tune of the day was in my head on the way home: Charity by Skunk Anansie.

However, it really did make me rather angry tonight that the motion tabled in Parliament to extend the free school meals scheme for those children and families who need it, to the Christmas and next Easter breaks, as had already been decided in both Wales (well done the Sennedd by the way) was voted down in Parliament. I for one was totally disgusted with the way that some of the MPs concerned decided to have an attack on Marcus Rashford MBE and called his actions "virtue signalling" despite the fact that he had been there himself and knew what it was like to struggle, and so wanted to ensure that no child goes hungry, in my view a very right and deserving mission and one that many of us, myself included, back. Because, folks, it is the right thing to do.

Unfortunately, this isn't surprising of this uncaring Government at present of course, but it was perhaps notable that one Conservative MP who did have the right stance on this issue was Robert Halfon, chair of the Commons Education Committee. He has backed Marcus properly, and has seen in his own constituency the loss of income for families, the loss of job security, the increasing use of foodbanks, and has listened to those constituents and acted. He has also spoken many times before about the help and assistance needed, and requested Government sit down with Marcus and the food task force and get a long term plan in place. The right attitude to have - shame his fellow MPs on the blue side didn't listen to his sensible words to be honest.

We, the ordinary working person though, will stand with Marcus Rashford MBE. In Manchester, whether you're red or blue, the city is united behind what he's doing. He is taking up the right and just cause, and doing good for those who need that help. It's somewhat ironic that the Government said that footballers should raise their game during the pandemic: well here's one who more than has, and cares about health much more so than the Secretary of State for Health. It's typical really. But these are the sort of things we all need to remember when we go to the ballot box next time. Vote with that conscience. But please, vote.

Tuesday 20th October - The North Will Not Forgive

It was off to the office today, and potentially the last visit I may be making to the office for some time, depending on any talks later on with Manchester and the possibility of a deal not happening and Tier 3 being enforced anyway. It was nice to be in and seeing some sort of normality, and indeed good to at least visit Pret and get some coffee before I started today. It felt positive to be in, and managed to get plenty done whilst in there and did a couple of favours for our service team folks: handed over a power supply for one member of staff and also swapped out a laptop for another one, who was really appreciative I'd stepped in to do so.

I also was at a different desk today primarily due to an event taking place in one part of the building and felt it best not to disturb anyone whilst doing so, but it did also mean me heading over to the IT room a couple of times to get some bits. I actually needed a replacement wired mouse anyway, as I think mine had died a painful unresponsive death, so that was good to sort, and also spent more time with one of our external software vendors looking at some SQL traces to see what potentially was up with the back end of one of the systems, lots of fun.

So with all the talks breaking down around the Greater Manchester decisions, it was inevitable that regardless of any compromise, that Manchester would go Tier 3. However, if you want to have someone fighting for the city and its people, then Andy Burnham as mayor, and all the council leaders stood firm and stood together. Andy's statement at around 4pm was spot on, a mixture of feeling anger at not being able to get the right deal for the city, but also a sense of that the North was being picked on and victimised and any initial "we're all in this together" messages from the Government proved to be complete rubbish. The fact he had people walking past, cheering, and the fact all businesses in the area are behind him and the approach says a heck of a lot to be perfectly honest.

Andy of course has history of fighting for just causes: anyone who knows their history as a football fan will know that he fought with the Hillsborough families, and always gave those people the due credit for getting the right verdict after 27 years that those fans were unlawfully killed. At a vigil in Liverpool after the verdict, he was invited to read out the names of those who had passed away, and unanimously the city chanted "there's only one Andy Burnham." His speech in Parliament, breaking down all the injustices, police collusion, the press bias etc, showed a level of determined passion, similar to how he was today. This is why, Southern folks, that he is so highly regarded up North. Granted, he doesn't get everything right and he'd be the first to admit that, but being on the right side of fighting for injustice? I'll have that, all day long.

So after discussion with The Love In My Heart, I managed to re-arrange one of the train bookings, managed to book the Thursday off work (my manager was ever so supportive on this) and so I'll be getting everything sorted in the flat, pack up and head up to be with The Love as well. Primarily because it would be easier to be together and support each other, but also because Brian the cat will get extra cuddles and love as well. And to be honest, I need that support right now. I feel like my city, the city I love, is being wrongly accused of all sorts, and that will not do. So it has to be a Mancunian tune of the day, and Ceremony by Joy Division at that to be that tune. We as a city will stand for each other, because this is Manchester. We do things differently here.

Monday 19th October - Moving On Monday

It did feel like the start of another potentially long week, especially I was keeping an eye on any negotiations happening between Manchester and the Government to see what would happen with potential Tier 3 restrictions. I say that with a heavy heart, primarily because I know that if it does happen, I will need to get up there before the restrictions kick in and to spend the time with The Love In My Heart, similar to how I was in the initial lockdown back in March. My thought behind this is purely for mental health reasons: we can both support each other, and that way as well we both won't be apart for weeks on end (remember: you can't visit anyone in Tier 3).

So it was really nice earlier in the day to have a phone call from my manager who basically said to me "If you need to get up there, just let me know, and take what you need in order to do what you can, and if that means travelling during day, we'll allow it no problem." That felt really positive knowing that I've got an employer and teams who not only think about us all performing well to the best of our abilities, but also that the health and wellbeing of ourselves is being considered. And that has to be a definite plus in my view.

Other things that were positive today: I finally got some traction on moving some of the queries I had with the inventory system, and had an hour long call over Microsoft Teams to try and work out what the issue is - we think we know what it is, in that there's an erroneous entry that's come into the database from one of the imports, and that effectively may be causing some reads of those tables to come back with an error message, which isn't good. It was a positive initial session and there's some take backs from that for tomorrow, so we can at least be able to work on that.

I also spent some time earlier in the day getting a few small bits of shopping in the local Tesco and couldn't help but notice (as you do) that it does seem that face covering compliance these days is very good, but also the fact that there's a real sense of keeping apart in most cases. Following guidance is key in the current situation, and for me at least it's been a case of being careful and safe, and making sure I'm doing washing regular and all the things you're supposed to do. Makes a lot of sense really.

In the evening I also spent some time watching the documentary on Amy Dowden, one of the professional dancers on Strictly Come Dancing, and her battle with Crohn's disease and how it affects her, and many others who suffer the same illness. I did find it heartbreaking in parts but also incredibly brave for her to open up and talk about it, and converse with the likes of rugby player Lewis Moody and others with the disease. It really did show the ups and downs too, and not hiding from that made it all the more real. In fact tune of the day is the theme music from Strictly, as it was something that Amy had dreamed about always being on, and now she is as a brilliant professional.

Sunday 18th October - Shopaholic Sunday

It was a nice relaxed lie in with The Love In My Heart and Brian the cat today, although Brian had spent all night, as he does most nights, lying near the edge of the bed all sprawled out and having lots and lots of cuddles from his Mummy. He has got very soft to be honest, and even allows me to give him plenty of fussing and cuddles too. A bird distracted him though so off he trotted to the bedroom window and I got myself up to have a coffee and see what was going on in the world - and wanted to see the highlights of the Bathurst 1000 touring car race that took place overnight too. Congratulations to Shane van Gisbergen and Garth Tander for their win.

After some breakfast, we both got ourselves ready, and The Love looked particularly lovely in her white Neila top from Joy and green jacket from Oliver Bonas which was very smart, and I had a nice soft Linea jumper on, so was cosy but not too over-warm. We had booked lunch in the city centre later in the day and so wanted to get some shopping done first too - and it was off on the tram to the city centre, face coverings on of course, and we were soon heading into some shops.

I thought it worth a shout heading into Uniqlo as I wanted to see what was in any of their sale rails. I did see some decent socks reduced to £1.90 which were also quite grippy, handy for a number of reasons, but also when looking through the shirts I did see this nice check shirt in Autumnal colours, in a nice cotton, and in my size, reduced from £24.90 to £7.90. Well of course I was going to get it! In fact their quick pay tills are fab, you just drop the item into this white box and it works out the item scanned and its reduced price very quickly: not sure how it worked, but it did, amazing stuff. I've also paired their mobile app so I can get a fiver off instore and scan the membership with the app too.

I also went into Fopp as well and that was a relatively quick visit - primarily to get the new Throwing Muses album Sun Racket, and The Love and I also went into Oliver Bonas, and got some ideas for Christmas presents to get her, as well as Paperchase next door - some ideas there too. We did look at all the forthcoming work for the Manchester Town Hall, and good to see that progressing, before then heading off to The Bank for a well earned Sunday lunch together.

That was all nice too - they of course have a proper pie, so the steak and ale one was mine along with some lovely mash, greens and some gorgeous carrots and gravy, and The Love had the fish and chips. I had the Camden Pale Ale with mine and The Love had the Hells, and even better, we had a voucher for 25% off which included drinks as well, so that worked out very nicely indeed. It was nice just to relax and chill out together, and felt sad later on once we'd got the tram back to her place and indeed then later heading back to Piccadilly station to get the train home, with the rather lovely Swing Out Sister's My State of Mind playing on the iPod (make that tune of the day) - I do treasure my time with The Love, and miss her and Brian the cat lots.

Saturday 17th October - Strictly Saturday

After a nice and well earned lie in, myself and The Love In My Heart were relaxed with Brian the cat - he wanted to have a play out and so he had a good sit down outside whilst we were sorting breakfast, and noted that he had spotted a little robin bounding around and was keeping his eyes peeled on what he was up to. The Love likes to give all the animals some names occasionally - so it's now officially Robbie the Robin, obvious I know, but it does kind of add to the way we can say to Brian the cat if he has seen anything outside, and he does respond well to his Mummy, has to be said.

Later in the afternoon we were heading out for a little bit of retail and leisure therapy: we both fancied a nice relaxing drink at one of our favourite haunts: Wine and Wallop in West Didsbury. All the necessary precautions are in play: all the right distancing, table service, card payments and indeed the staff all wearing face coverings as well as constantly cleaning tables in between peoples' visits. It feels very safe indeed and the milk stout that was on today was rather gorgeous: plenty of darkness and a nice coconut feel to it too - lovely. The Love had the Camden Hells and all was well.

We then headed off to B&M Bargains, primarily for two things: firstly to get myself a new pair of headphones, as the existing pair I had conked out last night. I noted the JVC Gummy sets which were decent, and a fiver, so got a turquoise pair of them. The Burnage branch though didn't have the other thing we were after: the NowTV stick for The Love, which was a replacement for the white NowTV box which stopped working a couple of weeks back, and has been handy for The Love to have catch up on the telly an in inexpensive way. However, I did a quick nip into the one in Belle Vue on the way back, and they had them, so got one. £20 too, a tenner cheaper than any other retailer!

Back at The Love's place we connected the new NowTV stick up and once we'd got wireless connected and the firmware updated, all was well, and paired up The Love's accounts for ITV Hub, BBC iPlayer etc all to it so everything was set and ready to go. It worked well and it was all straightforward to set up, and there was a month's free Sky entertainment pass for the box too, so The Love activated that and there are a couple of catch up series on Sky One she fancied watching, so now she can. Happy days.

We headed off to the local Chinese takeaway to get some tea, and I got the chicken and mushroom curry whilst The Love went for the crispy shredded chilli beef in sweet and sour sauce, with fried rice and some spring rolls too. It was nice to have that and keep an eye on Celebrity Mastermind where one of their specialist subjects were New Order, so of course I got the questions right there - nice nod to mention World in Motion too, still the best football song ever (and so tune of the day) - and it ended up being pretty close between most of the contestants there.

After Pointless Celebrities, we tuned into Strictly Come Dancing, and it felt that with it being back, Saturday evenings felt that little bit more normal than previously. It was the show where the celebrities found out who they were matched with, and because of it being a little different this year, they had already pre-recorded the scenes where they would be paired in different locations, in order to ensure that the couples were acting in an isolated bubble and so safe. I actually think this format worked better to be honest: and maybe something to do again next year as well, so as to narrow the gap between announcing the pairs and the first week's show?

The other good thing was that the pros had already been isolated for two weeks, had to pass two Covid tests and then could all be in one large bubble in a hotel close to the Elstree studios and film all the group dances over that time (think like the snooker tournaments with the same sort of bubble setup.) That worked well and the group dances were all good, and it was nice to see that even Tess and Claudia were distanced too - and the individual judges podiums. Everything was being taken seriously but to have the couples back dancing properly next week will be a great pick me up for all, we're both sure of that.

Friday 16th October - It's Not So Grim Up North

It was into the office today and to be able to work on a few things at the same time - and having the extra network capacity to do some of the things I wanted to do really does help. Yes, it's all well and good of course having decent fibre broadband at home, but when you have a gigabit internal network in the office, there's plenty which is much more reliable and quicker by having that available. One of which was to test an amendment to the Windows 10 build task sequence, adding the new version of Google Chrome so that at least when built, everything is nice and clean, and why not.

I did also check through today some revisions in the HR system (due to some internal renaming of some functions and so on) which would affect the data that is output into the inventory system we have. I worked out that I needed to modify around 680 records in all, but thankfully there's an easy way to import the correct data and only update the field you want on import, leaving everything else nice and intact. That for me was a definite plus point and it meant that I could do what I needed to do without any fuss, so that definitely was a bonus for me.

I also during the lunch break spent some time finalising off a document for a friend of mine for a future article, and it was a pretty lengthy document that I had worked on but wanted to ensure that it was all spell checked and grammar checked beforehand so I knew it was nice and accurate. I have to admit that I think it's been good to write a fair bit as of late and get the creative juices flowing a lot more, and indeed for me it's also been good because I know it's subjects that I do also happen to know a little bit about, too.

It was a bus ride after work in the office to Euston and to head up to see The Love In My Heart. With the Tier 3 decision not made yet, I could still travel, and that at least would mean a nice weekend together for us both. We both needed it really, The Love has had a really hard week at work and having the support of each other has made a massive difference lately to be perfectly honest. I did notice on the train up though that the headphones kept cutting out when playing stuff from the iPod - I suspect cable damage or breakage because I could move it a certain way to get sound, so not ideal really. I'll have to get some replacements over the weekend.

The Love met met when I got to Manchester Piccadilly, and we headed back to her place, where of course Brian the cat decided he wanted plenty of cuddles and attention, as well as hide in his play tunnel. Because he can. We did end up having a drink and watching Googlebox on Channel 4 +1, which was pretty funny, as well as Graham Norton later on whch was a hoot because of Andrew Flintoff and Dawn French being on there. I quite liked the musical guest too: Michael Kiwanuka performing his single Light, which was excellent, so tune of the day for me right there.

Thursday 15th October - Tearing The Tiers Apart

I've been a little on tenterhooks whilst working from home today to see what happened to the Greater Manchester region and the potential that the area may be in the very high tier (or tier 3 if you wish) of restrictions under the current situation. It already to me seemed as if it was going to be a tense affair anyway, as the region had argued successfully against tier 3 earlier in the week when the three tier system was announced (which we knew said system was being put in place anyway due to various media leaks a few days before, not a professional way to run Government to be honest.)

Anyway, it seemed that initial media reports today had it nailed on as a certainty that Manchester was going to go into tier 3, and various outlets carried that headline. However, these were ill-advised at best and indeed leaked to the media again, which had a rather embarrassed Matt Hancock revealing that there would be an investigation into said leak. What I don't think he or the absolutely useless Helen Whately, who was rounded on by all political sides from Greater Manchester, realised, was the sense of depth of feeling amongst Mancunians and the surrounding area, represented by their MPs and council leaders, with opposition being unanimous.

There's good reasons why: first of all, with hospitality shutting, a paltry payment of a maximum of two thirds of their salary would be on offer, but would only be targeted in certain cases. When the initial lockdown happened nationally, if you were furloughed, it was 80% for those salaried, and as a lot of the hospitality workers are lower paid, every single penny counts. So anything below that is going to put people's livelihoods at risk if such venues had to closed. Also, if furlough was available across the board, surely that would be easier to actually get people to comply if they have less financial worries to think about?

Crucially as well Andy Burnham, the Greater Manchester metro mayor, had cross-party support on his side, and this includes the likes of Sir Graham Brady, Conservative MP for Altrincham and Sale West, and so happens to be chair of the influential 1922 Committee within the Conservative Party. So, having him on board is actually a bit of a game changer, and showed the true depth of feelings amongst the region. So let's also make it clear: I'm pretty sure that if the correct support package was in place and implemented correctly like March, the city region would happily go into Tier 3. And the claim of "no money" is of course complete rubbish when consultants from Deloitte and other agencies who are on the Serco-run track and trace failing system are earning upwards of £7k. Per day. Let that sink in.

So, it was quite right that when he appeared for the press conference outside Manchester Central Library, that he rightly stood up, told it like it was and in no uncertain terms smashed the Government to pieces. It was assured, assertive with a little bit of anger thrown in. And Government "divide and conquer" plans certainly didn't work - cross party support from Greater Manchester was key in backing up that statement. Of course anyone who knows their football history will know that when Andy has a just cause to fight, he fights a bloody good fight and sees it through.

I did also have the wonderful Mary-Anne Hobbs on 6 Music as perfect background music for work, and she was asking for suggestions for one part of the show. As I'd been listening to it last night, I suggested the whole of The Fragile album by Nine Inch Nails. I didn't expect a mention but she mentioned me on air asking for the whole NIN back catalogue, but plumped for the ace Head Like A Hole instead. No complaints from me on that one, always good to hear during a morning at work, so tune of the day it most definitely is.

Wednesday 14th October - Commodore Compositions

It was another day of working from home today, and had a few things planned in order to ensure that all was working as intended. One thing I did want to check over was to see just where we were in terms of some machines which may not have been connected to the network for some time, either due to them being left in office pre-pandemic, or other things. The good news was that the actual numbers appeared to be lower than expected and it was a case of liasing with the service teams accordingly, so a good thing.

Tonight I decided that I was going to finish my latest Commodore 64 composition, as I wanted to be able to have it produced in good time for its (hopefully) intended use. I'd done the first part on Monday, and wanted to work out a direction to take the second part. In the end I went for a nice still quite dark feel, but with a really heavy main bass and distorted guitar element and underpinned by some percussion, and then went to work on what the lead was going to sound like. I had some ideas in my head and so decided to get those written down.

The key for me here was to ensure that in fact all of those ideas came together well, and sounded at least like they were a coherent piece. It's often the case that you might have some thoughts for an instrument to be added, but if that sticks out like a sore thumb and doesn't really add any value, it's most likely best to detract from it somewhat. So even with three channels that the trusty SID chip has, it's a case of utilising what you have and getting the sound right - get that right, the rest should follow on nicely to be fair.

And so it proved to be honest - and later once I'd composed it all, I sent it onwards, and kicked back with the classic Nine Inch Nails album The Fragile, still one of my top ten albums of all time. That might surprise you, but in fact it's a whole journey of epic proportions and really does feel like a story in a number of parts. For me, the almost defiant nature of We're In This Together is just brilliant, and definitely tune of the day for me. There's many other highlights including Starf***ers Inc, with a Carly Simon nod in the lyrics about two thirds through, and haunting instrumental pieces such as La Mer as well.

I did also have a good chat with The Love In My Heart tonight, and it was nice to hear that Brian the cat had decided to be uber soft and just snuggle on the top of the sofa, and then just put his head towards The Love for extra cuteness. He has particularly mellowed out these last few months and I think he can sense that he just wants lots of cuddles, tuna and Dreamies (in whichever order he chooses of course) but at the same time I do think that he would definitely still have the claws ready for scratching if I got too annoying for him. But in the meantime, he's being utterly adorable.

Tuesday 13th October - Clean Up Time

It was off to the office today, and a good opportunity to test out an application that we'd had an initial run of yesterday with one of our colleagues to check that everything was working correctly, and as intended. The vendor had sent the software electronically and so we'd downloaded it yesterday, and I stored a copy as well so that I could do some road testing and see how viable it was to get it all available in MECM and in Software Centre at that so we could basically facilitate a self-service type installation.

So the install is effectively in two parts, the main installer itself which is an MSI, so nice and straightforward to get that all done silently, and the second appears to be using an old version of WinZip self-extractor, complete with a prompt at the end to confirm installed. So while you can run that service pack install from the command line, even a check with -info switch to see what was available and using the -auto switch, you always had the prompt at the end regardless.

In effect what I had to for the application side as an application based package in MECM was to have the second install a dependency on the first (so the MSI that way installs first) and select the option to allow users to interact with the installation for the second install, so that they get to click OK when the service pack is installed. In addition, the service pack only had one executable that was a different version number from the main install (even though several files were themselves updated) which in my view is pretty poor form all round. So for the detection method, it was the MSI being present and installed, and the executable version that differed with a check on that version number. It worked!

The other good news I had was that I was able to implement a suggested procedure for some laptops which are being held back for rebuilding for an annual event that happens, but we know aren't on the network until then. It had approval from our service lead also, so that was all good, and meant I could effectively clear out some assets from our systems for now, but have a noted record of them somewhere as need be, so we knew exactly the whereabouts without it affecting our current kit in use stats.

In fact, I had another good piece of news later in the day when I was able to effectively also write off some kit that I thought had actually been either relocated or moved, but in fact was to be disposed of. I had a good chat with my manager in my one to one and mentioned it then - and he went and did the honours to check what had happened. Happy days - more cleaning up I can do effectively. Always good when you're able to sort things out - and indeed I had plenty of music to listen to tonight to relax the soul - especially Don't Give The Game Away by Swing Out Sister. Quite apt really, and tune of the day.

Monday 12th October - Industrial Ideas

I had the trusty Commodore 64 out to play tonight, and thought of some ideas of composing a new tune for it. I had all the tools I needed, so the trusty Action Replay cartridge, Music Assembler program on disk with some sample tunes of mine (so I can get the instruments from there and save having to reprogram them - a fair bit of work aved) and also some thoughts in my head. Ideally, I wanted a dark moody industrial piece to kind of reflect the times of the moment but also as I'm a fan of that genre anyway, I had some thoughts running through the head.

The first draft idea I had was to use an instrument that changed SID waveform pretty rapidly, in order to get a much more deeper more electric sound, and put that through the SID filter. It sounded rather good, and rather loud, it has to be said. It was then a case of taking some drums that had real bite that I had programmed for one of the tunes I made back in 1997, and then for extra really moody feel, actually manipulate the waveform of the main lead to give it a real sense of ring modulation and some added dark noise because of it.

I think I spent the best part of an hour or two getting the basic sketch idea in, and tweaking the instruments to make the sound I wanted. It was pretty nice - I was debating whether maybe I was playing things a bit too fast which really added to the urgency, but the jury is out on that one - I might need a repeated listen to be honest and then think about what might work best in the long run. It was though nice to get the creative juices flowing on something different, it has to be said.

I also noted tonight's press conference and today's Government speeches. It was interesting to note that Greater Manchester wasn't placed at the highest alert level, only the high one, and here's why: if you took a look at the stats in terms of rises of cases in the last seven days (compared to seven days previous) Manchester itself took a reduction of 15.6%, not a small amount - whereas Liverpool's rocketed up to be around 600 cases per 100,000 and Manchester is half that. Also, I do think the potential judicial review of the 10pm curfew as brought about by some of the leaders may also be in play.

At any rate, seeing as the proposals were leaked to the press since last week and we've all been waiting and putting things on hold due to that, it would have been sensible to plug those leaks, then sack the person leaking out the info to the press and make sure that the first we all hear about it is when the decision is being discussed, voted in Parliament and then given the right amount of time to be implemented. You'd think that wouldn't be hard. Anyway, tune of the day is pretty industrial anyway - Metal Dance by SPK. Plenty of bashing drums and lots of powerful percussion, simply an ace track all round.

Sunday 11th October - Sunday Slowdown

It was a rather nice relaxed morning today. Brian the cat had of course woken up his Mummy and was after some cat treats and a play outside, which he got later on, but it was good to see that he was allowing us both to give him a fuss and a love once again. I must admit that it's nice to see that and I think he knows that I am going to be nice to him. In fact later on he was all sprawled out on the bed with his "tickle me Mummy" face that he does, and of course The Love In My Heart duly obliged him. Awwww.

We had some breakfast and I spent some time checking over hotels for another postponed trip - we already had the train side of that re-arranged anyway but the hotel had refunded us in full, and so would be able to see if we were able to get a hotel at a good rate for that time. In fact we had a few ideas and so would be able to see nearer the time if there were any offers on too. I think that it's been a case of accepting that any planned trips would need some re-arranging and to be fairly flexible with that, so here is hoping anyway.

We had booked a table for lunch later and so headed out to Cheadle and to the Ashlea, where we know that the service is spot on and indeed everything has been taken precaution-wise. Booking also meant that our details were stored for the track and trace too, so didn't have to do that either and could go to the table. It was all pristine clean, the staff were as lovely as ever and the Dizzy Blonde ale was on, so that was a very easy decision for me to make.

We both had the Sunday roast for lunch - The Love had the roast beef which she really enjoyed, and had a side portion of cauliflower cheese as well which just added to the niceness for her. I went for the roast turkey which had a massive pig in blanket sausage as well, along with lots of nice vegetables too. As The Love fancied another drink, I did their mini dessert and coffee deal, and had the baked vanilla cheesecake along with a latte, and a lovely slice of cheesecake it was too, which was rather good.

After heading back to The Love's place and a quick check I had everything, and a final cuddle for Brian the cat, it was time to head off back homewards. I did feel sad because I'd miss them both, but knew we had had a good weekend too. I had the iPod on the way home and spent a fair amount of time listenening to Midge Ure's Orchestrated album which has many versions of Ultravox and Ure solo classics, re-done with orchestra and strings. And it's ace. Vienna is understandably brilliant of course but for me Dancing With Tears In My Eyes is spine tingling stuff, and well deserving of tune of the day.

Saturday 10th October - Disorder in the Northern Quarter

It was time for both me and The Love In My Heart to have a lie in, and Brian the cat of course was able to snuggle by the side of his Mummy, and so wanted a lot of fuss and attention, as well as playing outside as well when he was able to. I think over the last few months he has definitely got more needy of fuss and attention - maybe it's an age thing. He has also allowed me to give him much more strokes and cuddles too and doesn't scratch me either. I'm wondering whether it's been the change of dry cat food - as that's the only thing changed in his diet, he has Ocean Fish Iams now which appears to be much loved.

I did need to head to Asda later on to get a few things, and so decided it'd make sense to get some more dry food for Brian as a little treat. It was the 800 grams for £4.50, or the 2kg larger bag for £7.50. Of course, that was a no brainer when you do the maths on that, so the large bag it was, along with some wine for The Love and a couple of bits for me. Noticeable too that mask compliance was pretty high today although some people still cannot work out what two metres looks like.

In the afternoon The Love and I headed to the Northern Quarter in Manchester, primarily as there was a new painted mural on the side of a wall by the artist Akse, which was of Ian Curtis of Joy Division. As I love that band a lot, it was worth a see, and The Love spotted some parking spaces on Bengal Street in Ancoats, maximum 2 hour stay and a mere £1.20 maximum for that (20p for 20 mins and 10p for 10 minute increments thereafter) so well worth noting if you're shopping around that area and need a parking space.

We headed towards the Port Street Beer House as I thought I might know where the mural is, but didn't need to get as far as the beer house actually: indeed it was on the side of a building close to the car park on Port Street itself, and a very striking painting indeed, in shades of black, white and grey, with an iconic pose of Ian Curtis at the microphone. So well done, and in fact reminded me of the first time I'd heard Unknown Pleasures and marvelled at it being such a good album, so the opener from that, Disorder, is tune of the day.

After that we headed over to the Seven Brothers brewery and tap room, and got a table outside so we could have a drink and relax. Again, all precautions in place with distancing, and table service with a QR code to scan so you could order where possible. I went for the rather nice honey ale, which was lovely, although maybe too sweet to have too many of, and The Love enjoyed the pilsner too which was nice. We both were very relaxed and chilled out and definitely for me was a nice way to spend a late Saturday afternoon having a good natter whilst also being safe too.

In the evening we had a rather nice Tesco Meal Deal for tea, with some lovely chicken in sauce, herb potatoes and some vegetables, and I had some nice ale with a glass of wine for The Love. I must admit we're both enjoying The Hit List at the moment, a good way for Saturday night to start too. Marvin and Rochelle Humes work well as hosts, and of course guessing the tune from the bit that plays is right up my sort of thing to be honest. I did pretty well and would have won more money than the two contestants (whom to be fair had done pretty well to get around £5k anyway, so well done them.)

Friday 9th October - Tour de Yorkshire

In absence of what was a planned weekend having to be put on the back burner until October 2021 (yes really) we decided instead that a day out today, potentially with less crowds around and more free space to be safer in, was a smarter move instead. We knew that the weather might be okay albeit a little on the cold side, and so with the fresh air doing us both good, we had booked tickets for Harewood House just north of Leeds, and this meant we could explore there, and then head off for something to eat for tea later on the way home - that was the plan anyway.

The Love and I set off and soon headed for the M62, and over the Pennines, following the M621 towards Leeds and through the centre on the A58(M) before heading off for the A61, and following that North out of the city and on the way to Harrogate, and the signage for Harewood House soon was present. We had the e-ticket on the phone, showed it to the friendly staff on the entrance kiosk half way down the driveway, and were soon at the car park, and had coats with hoods on in case it rained a little later, and made our way back towards the house.

I have to say everything at Harewood House was done properly, all staff had face coverings on, they had a QR code for you to scan which took you to a web page where the guide was all digital (so no books to touch in each room) and you went on a circular route which took you first of all along the ground floor and many of the lovely rooms including the long gallery at the side, then downstairs and through all the below stairs section including the pastry room and scullery etc, before heading back up towards the temporary art space and then the café which faced the rear garden.

In fact, The Love and I thought "let's stop here for lunch" so we had a coffee and a very nice sandwich: my ham, cheese and mustard was really plentiful, and both had some pretty spicy crisps on the side too. The Love liked her Wensleydale cheese and pickle too (cue "cheese, Gromit, cheese" obviously) and we walked around the rear garden afterwards, with its lovely views over the hills and indeed the black sheep below wandering around, which was pretty nice.

We had a change of shoes each for the lower gardens (The Love had her nice Joules wellies) so after the courtyard we went to say hello to the lovely penguins, all having a nice little swim in the water, and then followed the path down to the lake, past the rather pretty flamigoes roaming, and then followed the lake path for a while until we got to the Himalyan Garden. We'd never explored there before so was nice to walk round that and indeed see a couple of Oriental inspired bridges and the Cascade from a good view as well as the Buddhist monument that is the Stupa. We also went over the bridge and to the far end walled garden, and spotted two alpacas as well, which was really lovely. Overall, it was really good, and we both enjoyed ourselves thoroughly, so I can highly recommend going there.

We headed back down the A61 and due to the roadwords near Leeds city centre it took us some time to get through them, but we followed the signage to the Woodhouse Lane car park, and paid and displayed for the parking. The Love wanted to look in some of the shops and we thought food afterwards might be a sensible move too. In fact, it meant we could go in both Joy and Oliver Bonas, as well as also all the nice shops with the Victorian passageways, and to the Victoria Quarter itself with the new shopping centre at the end, where we spent some time in Anthropologie as well.

After some shopping, we were heading back and I spotted a few places open near The Light, and not far from the central Art Gallery where we had enjoyed lunch ages ago, and so went into George's Great British Kitchen. This was a very smart move. The staff were all friendly, had face coverings on, took our details for track and trace, and had a one way system in place with all tables distanced properly so that was also reassuring. They also did a set menu of two courses for £10, which looked a very good idea, so we went for that and also got some nice beer (I got the London Fields pale ale, very nice glass too.)

The atmosphere was also spot on, plenty of 1980s tunes throughout as well which added to the vibe as well, including the rather nice (for The Love at least) Style Council song Speak Like a Child (make that tune of the day) - which really did set the relaxed tone. The Love had the pea fritters to start which looked spot on, and I had the chicken goujons which were very nicely done, and a good barbecue sauce. We both had the fish and chips for main, and they were really nice - and you had the option of battered or breaded fish too! Absolutely spot on, and of course a good sized fish with proper chippy-like chips. Winning! And a perfect end to the day too it has to be said.

Thursday 8th October - Re-Arrangements

I have tomorrow off work and am heading up to Manchester to see The Love In My Heart for a longer extended weekend. This of course does mean more cuddles for her and of course for Brian the cat, who no doubt will be wanting extra fuss and Dreamies wherever possible. I had spent some time today as well re-arranging some plans for the weekend to come. Effectively our planned weekend away this weekend had pretty much already been cancelled: the event we were due to go to has been postponed until 2021, and the hotel thankfully was allowing re-bookings so was getting that all sorted, easy to do, no hassle.

Unfortunately, the same cannot be said of the trains, and here's why: on 7th September, the train companies, flanked by the Rail Delivery Group, ended their discretionary period of giving refunds on advance ticket purchases - even though the current situation isn't at an end and local restrictions are still in place in a number of locations. Obviously where those restrictions are in place, the common sense approach, particularly in a more severe case, would be not to travel, and to allow either re-arrangements at no fee, or a fee-free refund. But no.

It's funny how the Rail Delivery Group wanted to get their publicity machine out and seek maximum praise when, after pressure from the likes of Which, they finally relented and allowed the refunds etc back in March. Sneakily changing this in September was a little bit underhand in my view, and despite the fact I had booked the tickets for the weekend trip back in July, effectively it's still a no. I am going to keep battling this because in my view, taking the safe option and not travelling should not result in a financial penalty - and not have the companies basically get away with saying "Advance tickets are non-refundable, even in lockdown and quarantine scenarios." A tad unfriendly, methinks.

Anyway, I was on a train later up to Manchester to see The Love, which at least I could still use (so thankfully that wasn't lost money either) and had the Denise Johnson album on the iPod, and the beautiful "Steal Me Easy" as the closing track just has to be tune of the day. It just made me feel a little sad also because of the fact that there could have been so many more songs made beautiful by her voice had she still been around, so definitely felt a tinge of sadness as I listened.

The Love came to collect me from Piccadilly station, and we headed back to her place where Brian the cat wanted fusses and cuddles, but also The Love made me a coffee and gave me a piece of her very nice lemon cake, which she had baked earlier (and sent me a picture of, looked so nice). It was nice to enjoy that and have a catch up as well with Brian snuggled up next to his Mummy on the sofa before the time went by and it was time to have a good sleep before having a different day out tomorrow.

Wednesday 7th October - Central Belt Curtailment

I noted with interest this afternoon the announcement in the Scottish Parliament and from the First Minister, Nicola Sturgeon, with some of what had been speculated earlier in the week and sort of expected to happen. Clearly, as infections of the thing are rising in the likes of Edinburgh and Glasgow at present especially, it's a case of being able to take a step back. So from Friday 6pm, no pubs or restaurants in the central belt including Edinburgh, Glasgow, Ayr, and so on, will be allowed to open, it'll be takeaway food only. Added to that, transport for essential journeys only and advisable not to travel to those areas.

I would imagine that they have at least analysed some of the science which appears to be that transmission is in any closed space community setting, whether it be either at home (other household visits had already been stopped) and that being out for a drink seems to have some people, not all, forgetting the distancing rule. In fact, they've reintroduced 2 metres as a mandatory measure now. Of course, the 1 metre plus was to help the pubs and so on open, understandably, but you can sort of see why. Naturally, the hospitality industry aren't happy because they have introduced plenty of safety measures themselves, and taken all the precuations they can, which shows just what a difficult balancing act it all is.

As a consequence though, it effectively means that there may be some indication that England might follow suit, so rather than say review the 10pm closing time, which has everyone being out at the same time and potentially risking further transmission, it might be in those higher risk areas, there'll just be temporarily closures to help ease the spread somewhat. It does also make me wonder though if track and trace had been handled by proper public health experts and not given to the likes of Serco and Dido Harding, along with Matt Hancock (the clue's in the name what I think of him) whether we'd have the proper tracing in place and effectively isolate those, allowing everyone else to reach some level of normality.

Anyway, enough about that, for now. I did decide after work tonight that it was time to check out some original tunes that inspired the legendary Commodore 64 composer Martin Galway to do versions of those for a number of games, including the likes of film licenced games or sneaking in some synth-based inspiration. For example, the title tune of Yie Ar Kung Fu is effectively a version of Jean-Michel Jarre's Magnetic Fields Part IV, and one of the tunes from Yie Ar Kung Fu II that isn't on the original MSX version is actually a version of Firecracker by Martin Denny, from his 1959 album Quiet Village. Of course that was covered by Yellow Magic Orchestra in the late 1970s which is probably the version Galway heard (make that tune of the day as I love the YMO rendition.)

And I say that because YMO's Rydeen track had been covered by Galway on the tape loader of Daley Thompson's Decathlon, the first Ocean game to have an Ocean loading theme (not a generic Novaload loading theme) back in 1984, and indeed he went and transcribed it on the BBC Micro as well for the game Stryker's Run, which also used one of the tunes from Roland's Rat Race as its high score tune. Continuing the cross platform theme, the legendary title theme to Arkanoid (complete with sample-like drums) was of course a version of the title theme from Cobra on the Spectrum, released a year earlier.

Most fascinating for me is the in-game tune of the Short Circuit film licence (the arcade adventure part, which is bloody hard!) - it's the title and intro theme from the film, composed by David Shire, and builds up to a crescendo as Number 5 comes alive in the film. Of course because there's so much in the build up, it does mean that with only three channels to play with, it was very hard to replicate all of that on the C64, but a very good job was done nonetheless, and the title tune version of Who's Johnny by El De Barge is also pretty ace, and apparently took four weeks for Galway to do - I can imagine some of the Ocean staff at the time being driven pretty mad if there were no headphones!

Tuesday 6th October - The Reduced Office

It was off to the office, for the usual Tuesday in the office I've been tending to do since it officially reopened. It does give me a chance to collaborate in person where needed, which to be honest is much more the way I often prefer to work, but also to be able to have a vital change of scenery from the four walls of the flat when working from home. I think it's been important for me to be able to do that to maintain a sense of mental health and wellbeing, not least because I can talk in a safe environment to people.

It was pretty good today anyway as I had some data to check over, not least because I found an issue where a particular attribute in Active Directory wasn't flowing through correctly from the identity system. My colleague is fixing the data flow side but it would only be effective for those changes from whenever the change is made, so needed to get the data in en masse. Entering it all manually would be a pain, so a bit of clever use of both Excel (see, it has its uses!) and Powershell did the trick.

I knew the attribute was in the HR system, so was able to pull some data from that, and also a CSV was created from Powershell in order to get the information for those missing the attribute. Because I'd pulled the full name etc into the CSV, brought both sets of data into Excel, and did a proper VLOOKUP (remember folks, FALSE is actually an exact match, TRUE is a partial match, which so many users get wrong) and was then able to verify the attribute needed by checking back in the HR system to be sure. Then it was easy enough to create an entry for Set-ADUser with the -Identity switch being the sAMAccount name (because it's unique) and the necessary attribute populated as the other. Copy and paste the column of created entries into Powershell ISE, save script, run it. Done!

I did feel pretty pleased that I was able to work a straightforward solution out and it meant that we were up to date as much as possible too. My manager was pleased, and even more so when I did some further analysis of data with regards to the client data sources information from MECM. It looked very much like what it proved was that a massive chunk of data that would have come from the distribution points for software updates instead of course went from Microsoft Update, due to the change we made in delivering them - we're still in control of which ones are installed, but the actual update executable themselves come from Microsoft Update. How does over 630GB of data in one month alone sound?

I got home later and was checking back through some of my old CD backups from the PC (which I have to ensure that all the old stuff I have is archived). Not only did I discover some old remixes of Commodore 64 tunes, but some very good ones at that too - the likes of Instant Remedy's version of Ocean Loader 2 for example, and also the whole May Be Bop vocal acapella performance at Mekka Symposium 98 (yes, 1998!). But best of all for me, and a remix I still like today, Linus Walleij's version of the demo tune Rhaa Llovely II, souped up at the time with some neat samples and a really nice end groove, tune of the day for sure - nice to go back!

Monday 5th October - Not Excel-Lent

It was another work from home day for me today, and to perform some final tests on a different way of removing an annoying piece of software, part suggested by the vendor after tests on Friday but also with some extra tests by me to ensure that any traces in the machine registry are also gone too. I therefore did an install on a test rig, and then ran the script to do some checks and balances and make sure it worked, and it did, perfectly well as it happens. What this should also mean is that when a hardware inventory is next pulled, it won't show as present either, which is what we want.

I set it off to be deployed to the machines we needed to, knowing that the time difference involved means that they wouldn't get it till later, and so it proved. It was all running nicely and I had a first few successes, and after an inventory pull, it no longer showed in there either, so that was good. Of course it made sense to record all the ones where it had been removed (because there's a web based console that deregistered clients need to be removed from) and notified my colleagues on that in order that they would be able to keep an eye on how it was all going (shared documentation is always useful here.)

Talking of documentation and IT for a second, you will have noted in the UK that a number of test results were mysteriously added to the positives, giving a massive total. It transpired that the data being handled was handled by a very old Excel file format, meaning that the old XLS file format can only handle a maximum of 65,536 rows. The number of tests recorded were in a template taking up multiple rows, which meant due to the increase of rows meant that the row limit was reached, and so a lot of data wasn't transmitted to the main database because it wasn't noticed.

There's so much wrong with the method and the way of handling, I don't know where to start. Why would you want to store data in even in older version file format of Excel, and even if it was a newer format, then you'd have to ask why the data presented was in a template spanning multiple rows or not. Surely it woud be the likes of SQL or any other form of proper database that the data is collected in (and you could use a secure web form to populate the database) and have all sorts of APIs working their magic, all with secure connections.

One thing is for sure, it is another black mark under the control of Dido Harding, in control of test and trace, who was in charge of Talk Talk and their massive data leak at the time. Surely you would expect that you'd employ someone with a responsible attitude towards data, right? Well apparently not. Of course the usual "full investigation" lines will be run, but surely anyone with a modicum of data knowledge would have assessed the data being collected and evaluated risk beforehand? These are basic IT tasks, and ones which most people would have asked questions about. With that in mind, the mantra that is Ctrl, Alt, Delete as written by MJ Hibbett and the Validators is tune of the day - they are after all, the only buttons you really need...

Sunday 4th October - A Sunday Of Shocks

I'd had a good night last night with an online call to a few of my friends, so was able to have a good catch up with them and have a couple of drinks as well. The Love In My Heart had plenty on telly to watch too, and she had Brian the cat cuddled up to her for company. In fact the three of us ended up having a bit of a lie in this morning before I headed out of bed in good time to see the men's elite race of the London Marathon - which only had elite races around a course in St James' Park with Birdcage Walk and The Mall featuring due to the need to have it all in a bio-secure bubble.

What I didn't realise at the time was that the result was to prove to be the first shock result of the day, with the seemingly unbeatable Eliud Kipchoge not only just beaten, but well beaten, as a number of runners stuck with him and the pacemakers, and kept going and piling the pressure on. Shura Kitata ended up winning the race, just out pacing the long legs of Vincent Kipchumba at the end. It was also excellent commentary on the BBC Red Button from Rob Walker and Mara Yamauchi who both had excellent insights and really did give it the excitement it all deserved, much much better than the lame BBC1 coverage. The Rob and Mara commentary was also used for live transmission in Kenya, too!

Later on after some breakast and a relaxing time with a bit of telly, we headed out to John Lewis and Partners to have a good look around and get some gift and present ideas for forthcoming birthdays. The Halloween displays were out as were a few of the Christmas ones, albeit in October, which was a bit annoying to be honest. I did see in the flesh the rather nice Art Deco edition of Scrabble, which did look classy it has to be said. I'm still after the Super Scrabble set of course, but attempting to find that new and unused, because it's been deleted, is much harder to track down.

We then headed to The Didsbury for some Sunday lunch, and that worked out nicely having booked a table. All tables were full and we had a nice table with the fireplace behind (so The Love could be warm and look gorgeous in her white top from Joy). She had the Sunday roast pork with some cauliflower cheese and I had the chicken and mushroom pie with some chips and vegetables and gravy, both spot on. In fact everything was, the service and the staff were all good, my pint of Landlord was very good too, and it was just a nice relaxing way to spend some afternoon time.

After a walk in Fletcher Moss Gardens, and a further fuss over Brian the cat later, I headed back home, and had noted that Manchester United had lost 6-1 at home to Tottenham, similar to Man City's 2011 win at Old Trafford too. Then Aston Villa decided that wasn't enough and thrashed Liverpool 7-2 as well with a sumptuous display of counter attacking. Football and sport in general had gone mad today, that was for sure, but it really does also show just what a real difference it makes without fans being there at some of the grounds too, can't wait to eventually be allowed back one day.

I also spent some time once home listening to the Denise Johnson album Where Does It Go which I got yesterday. I have to say the raw stripped back vocal and acoustic guitar sound works wonders, and the seven tracks on there really do give you a fascinating and different feel, notably on her version of The Smiths' Well I Wonder (make it tune of the day) with Denise's voice giving a very different feel to the song overall but still keeping it very relevant and real. Heartbreaking we won't hear more of her of course, but a lovely way to be able to remember her by too.

Saturday 3rd October - Where Does It Go

The Love In My Heart and I had a really nice night's sleep, and Brian the cat was cuddled up next to his Mummy, lying on the bed and being all snuggly. He's apparently been doing that for weeks and I think it might be a sign of him getting older now and a bit more passive, he is over seven years old I think. He of course has his routine, such as a feed at around 5am, but he does tend to be a lot nicer to me as of late, allowing me to give him a love and a fuss and generally be nice to him, and there was some bouncing of his favourite ball to play with later on in the day.

The rain and the Storm Alex weather had hit Manchester today - for a city that does tend to chuck it down with rain, even this rain was pretty mental. I wanted to head into the city centre though as there was an album I really wanted to get from Piccadilly Records, and it was only available from there. It was the long awaited and sadly posthmously released album from Denise Johnson, Where Does It Go. I had seen on North West Tonight last night an interview with one of her best friends, someone both me and The Love actually know for different reasons, and who had been instrumental on ensuring that the album got finished and, as of yesterday, released.

A look on the web site had shown the vinyl and CD had sold out, with a wish list for both, but I wondered if that was because they were keeping some back for in-store purchasers to allow Mancunians to get one. My hunch was correct. In I went, and sure enough copies were still available, not many mind you. I did also want the new Throwing Muses album at the same time but they had sold out of that, so just got myself the Denise Johnson album. I did feel very pleased, as I'd heard in store there were only around 500 copies or so made, and the vinyl had sold out, so might have been say 100 of those 500.

I will play that album once I get back home, and definitely for me a worthwhile purchase. Back with The Love later on, we decided to head out to Matalan as she wanted to look at a few items. What we didn't realise was that they now also did cleaning products in one section (probably to help out during the current situation) and indeed all the sale stuff together. In fact The Love got a nice coaster with initials on, and also a couple of items for work cheap too. We did then head over to The Sheldon Arms for a well earned drink before then heading over to Aldi to get some little bits of shopping.

The final stop was the local Chinese takeaway as we got ourselves some gorgeous crispy shredded chilli beef in sweet and sour sauce, and chicken and mushrooms, both with fried rice and very nice indeed. We did watch The Hit List later, which is always good fun when contestants attempt to get intros of songs and inevitably struggle with some eras. It does have that shoutability at the screen with the answer, and The Love was being very impressive with her knowledge too. The animated hits part of round three was excellent, not least of course Sing by Travis being played (tune of the day) and how the winners ended up just getting in a fluster in the final round, Born in the USA. They had £4,512 with one song left, and fluffed it!

Friday 2nd October - Alex's Appalling Weather

So today was the first day of one of the seasonal storms, which had been named Storm Alex. And didn't I know about it as I was heading from home to East Croydon station and then on the bus from Victoria to the office. It was absolutely tipping it down and my grey coat with the hood came out today, primarily for some warmth but also to keep the rain and wind off me. It was very wet and very windy as well, so was glad to get to the office safely and only escape when I needed to grab a coffee from Pret or head to Tesco nearby for some lunch.

In the office today I was checking over an uninstallation for a piece of software which had been installed on some machines by another site, except of course from what I had investigated, it looked like that the installation had been carried out by the local user with some privelege elevation, and not as the system user or a proper administrator. This meant that the installation information in Programs and Features was user based and so may need to get crafty to locate the necessary registry to remove for the user instead, as well as some brute force removal.

I also today had a pretty good positive day in the fact I added the newly packaged versions of both Mozilla Firefox and Adobe Reader to our Windows 10 build task sequence, having already tested them, and all worked fine without any issues whatsoever, so that was good. It also meant that I could do the testing for program removal on two machines that I'd newly built where I could add the program I needed, and then test various scenarios for removal at the same time, which only seemed a sensible way of doing so to be perfectly honest.

It was on towards Euston later and on the train to Manchester, although the clouds were very dark as I left the office and it did feel like it was going to absolutely hammer it down any minute. Thankfully for me it only did so as I got to Euston itself and had got my meal deal from Sainsburys, so that was a relief. It was a relatively painless on time journey for once, and had the iPod on listening to some classic 1980s tracks including the excellent Temptation by Heaven 17 (so make that one tune of the day) - and the sun set on the journey around half way through.

The Love In My Heart came to collect me and it was lovely to see her as ever, and back at her place, Brian the cat was happy to see me and allowed lots of fuss and cuddles, and sat next to me on the sofa as the three of us were watching Gogglebox, seeing what the families had thought of the week's television. We did see the BBC News and the breaking news on the US president being hospitalised with the thing, which made me think maybe now he might actually take things seriously with regards to that. We snuggled later and Brian was more than happy to be there too - he loves me really.

Thursday 1st October - Mancunian Mewis Magic

After work, it was time to tune in to the UEFA Champions League draw, and of course Manchester City were involved in that, having finished second to Liverpool but also with the fact that our appeal had been won and were allowed to compete, which was a relief of course. I must admit that I always have mixed feelings about the way UEFA do the draw, interspersing the pots of teams with who they have picked for best goalkeeper, defender, midfielder and striker for the men's and women's Champions League (although at least this year Kevin de Bruyne of City won best midfielder, so there's something.)

I already knew that City were in pot two, same as Chelsea and Manchester United, and we couldn't get Liverpool in Pot one due to country protection, which left a lot of difficult teams we could get. I was hoping for Porto or Zenit St Petersburg out of that pot, with some banana skins in pot three (Inter Milan, Lazio and Atalanta especially) and it could be anyone from pot four. As it transpired and Didier Drogba drew the teams, we ended up with Porto (so that's good) and also Olympiakos from pot three and Marseille from pot four, which wasn't too bad - a pretty favourable draw compared to what other teams got - Liverpool got Ajax and Atalanta!

Later on after having some tea it was time to settle in and watch the Women's FA Cup semi final from the Academy Stadium. Still no fans allowed of course even for the women's game, so was good that BBC Two had that on tonight (and had shown the Birmingham - Everton semi on BBC Four last night.) City were up against Arsenal in that, so a tough game on paper but at least we were at home, which is something. I was interested to see how some of the new signings would play, and how we'd cope with the pressure.

In fact, I needn't have worried first half. City were very disciplined with Sam Mewis, the American midfielder, running the show in a similar way Jill Scott would have done (if she wasn't still suspended at present.) Her runs forward and physicality allowed the others to have the free space needed. In fact, a foul on Caroline Weir set up a free kick, and I thought it was Steph Houghton territory. Up stepped the captain to do what she does best, float a beauty into the corner for 1-0. Happy days. Although Jordan Nobbs did equalise with a very well taken finish for Arsenal (a beauty to be fair!) City did remain in control.

And that was proven a few minutes later with what was to be the winner. The ball came into Ellen White and she battled for it as going to ground (and the ball just missed her arm for handball) - and she laid it back for Sam Mewis to blast home her first goal in English football for what proved to eventually be the winner. Arsenal did come back in the lasr half hour of the match and it took a superb save from Ellie Roebuck right at the death, but we did enough to go back to Wembley for the final. It was nice too seeing former City player Izzy Christiansen be one of the pundits along with the excellent Alex Scott, with them both and Gabby Logan wrapping up well as it was a tad nippy! Needless to say, tune of the day is the excellent "Forever Blue" by Swing Out Sister (after all, Andy Connell from the band is a City fan too.)