Dear Diary... January 2018

Wednesday 31st January - Never Felt More Like Singing The Blues

One thing that does annoy me about being down here is that it's impossible to realistically get up to Manchester for a midweek night game and get back the same night. It's either a case of taking an afternoon and a morning off to be able to do that (and leave time is precious enough really) or having to make do with either watching it on telly or listening to BBC Radio 5 Live. As the latter also had a red button feed from the studio, and it was of course all the drama of transfer deadline day, I went for the latter, knowing that the game would also feature on Match of the Day a little later on.

Of course, it's always good to see Manchester City win in person, so I'll be sure to be up for Leicester City at home a week on Saturday (already got that sorted and staying with The Love In My Heart of course) so that's a definite positive anyway. Manchester City had West Brom at home tonight, and Chelski were also at home to Bournemouth, with the Scum away at Tottenham at Wembley. I had a feeling that might be a tricky game anyway, so I was hoping for a result there and a good result at the Etihad for City.

What I didn't expect was for Tottenham to score via Christian Eriksen inside eleven seconds, making it the third fastest Premier League goal ever! The ball was hoofed up, headed down into Eriksen's path and he made no mistake slotting the ball into the corner and past David de Gea in the United goal. Later on, City pulled off a good move which found Fernandinho in good space to slot the ball home past Ben Foster and make it 1-0 to City, so as it stood, all good. Even more so when Phil Jones put the ball into his own net under pressure and that made it 2-0 to Tottenham also. Excellent!

City did the business in the second half, and after a nasty tackle on Kevin de Bruyne, he carried on, played some neat one two football with Raheem Sterling, and then finished off the move himself for 2-0. That looked done and dusted, and in the meantime Bournemouth had surprised Chelski by scoring three goals inside around twenty minutes or so, and were winning 3-0 at Stamford Bridge. No Bournemouth fan expected that whatsoever, I bet they were going bloody mental!

And City finished their game 3-0 as some more neat football found Sergio Agüero who finished with aplomb and made it goal number 193 for City, meaning he's seven off the magic 200, which will be pretty special. It did make me wonder just why City were going to release a DVD about him just breaking the goal scoring record - why not wait till the 200th goal and release it then? Still, Kevin de Bruyne was awesome tonight, and in tribute, the song "KDB" by Jim Daly is tune of the day - if you've not yet heard it, watch it on Youtube - it is very funny to say the least!

Tuesday 30th January - Breaking The Bunged Up

I finally feel like this chesty cough and bunged up nose is getting somewhere out of the system. I'm occasionally coughing but it's now feeling like a breakage of the build up inside, and certainly not all congested in the head either, which is rather pleasing. It's just good as I really would like to be able to concentrate on getting plenty done and not have to think about constantly blowing my nose free of crap, and/or having to cough up lots of stuff in the in between. It should be right for this weekend and to have a great time with friends too.

In the midst of all that, I was handed a Toshiba tablet which we wanted to do some testing with and check that it would take our Windows 10 build. I used the test task sequence initially and just made some slight changes such as being able to amend a couple of steps so that the tablet would be able to properly process the MBAM configuration for Bitlocker, which it appeared to do nicely. The main caveat appeared to be that an on screen keyboard didn't appear during the boot process so you couldn't type in the Bitlocker key. Granted you could attach a USB keyboard and do it that way, but that's something worthy of note in any case.

I headed off into the centre of Croydon on the way home and managed to get some Mach 3 razor blades - and not that dear. Gilette have brought out their "Mach 3 Start" range and the blades are the same, albeit minus a little of that lubrastrip thing, but still, they do the job and are a couple of quid cheaper. Strangely only Boots have them but it does mean less expense and Advantage Card points too naturally. Oh how I wish I'd have pound shops like in Manchester where I could always get Mach 3 blades for around a fiver for a pack of four!!

Still, one other thing I needed was a US-UK power adapter, similar to the visitor ones. Ages ago when I got my Panasonic TZ-3 camera, the charger had a US plug fitting and I did have a US-UK adaper with it, but that unfortunately broke last time I used it. I will be using that little camera this weekend so made sure that I got one suitable so I could then charge the battery for the camera accordingly. It's just nicer to have something smaller than my DSLR that also does filming, useful for lots of good reasons, and it feels sturdy to hold too, always good that thing.

One day I'd probably look at either having something more compact still that does what I need for when I don't want to take my Nikon around, but this way I can get good use out of the Panasonic this weekend, and later on down the line when money isn't being saved, I can think about that. And talking of saving money, I did book some more trains to head up North and with discount, each of them was a nice low £18.40, so that was rather pleasing actually.

Tune of the day in the meantime is the excellent "Heroes" symphony version from Philip Glass, obviously inspired by the work of David Bowie and Brian Eno. I got that and the "Low "symphony as a 2-CD set some time ago and it's pretty epic, and it was announced that Glass is finally going to get do to Lodger and complete the whole Berlin trilogy in that form. I must admit for different reasons they're three of my favourite Bowie albums, it's definitely more edgy and dark and that resonates with me a lot.

Monday 29th January - I Can Predict The Cup Draw

Tonight was the draw for the fifth round of the FA Cup, and it was live on BBC One this evening. Unfortunately this did mean that it was sandwiched in as part of The One Show on BBC One, a show I don't really like as much and yet it appears to be a regular weekday night staple on that channel. For me, I've never got on with it but I think less so because there's just too much cosiness around the whole thing. And some people don't like the presenters either, although I'm not that fussed to be honest.

Step back to around 6pm, and having got home from work and made my tea, I had tweeted my prediction, and having seen the dummy test draw conducted by the folks, I thought "that's not going to happen" and so my own prediction was Wigan Athletic away. We'd lost to them in the 2013 final and a couple of years later lost to them in the sixth round when Man City legend Uwe Rösler was in charge of Wigan too. I just had a sense that after Wigan had beaten another Premier League team in West Ham, with their striker Will Grigg being on fire (make the original song "Free From Desire" tune of the day for that reason)

So on went the draw with Robbie Savage and Ruud Gullit drawing the teams out. One by one they all came out apart from City. I knew that we'd be getting Wigan by the end of it, but it was a case of which ball was drawn first, and so number 12 came out, that was Wigan, so fate sealed. I was right, and I'd predicted it, now only if I could do that with the winning lottery numbers and that would be tons better, but you can't always win them all I guess!

I did spend some time today too working on some improvements to some of the application delivery, but also clearing out some of the old SCCM 2007, as it needed a nice bit of purging out. So far I've managed to remove the high majority of packages and there's now no need to package these anymore in the old SCCM, so been good to at least remove those for the time being. It was then a case of making sure that there's a number of collections and AD groups associated which we can also eliminate at the same time, so that was also constructive to do so.

I also did note tonight that it seemed to be less and less good stuff on the telly currently, so have resorted in the main to the likes of some recordings on my Freeview HD recorder box, and went back to watch the 40 Years at the Crucible documentary which I'd recorded, and was good to see some classic snooker moments and memories with everyone nattering to Steve Davis really well about those memories. It for me was lovely when he and Jimmy White were walking around Alexandra Palace catching up on those times, and really did feel like two different but equally respected players coming together. Ace.

Sunday 28th January - Westfield and Cardiff

I got up earlier in the day and once all sorted, it was off on the train from East Croydon via Clapham Junction to Shepherd's Bush, where it was off to the White City Westfield to do a bit of shopping. I did want to see what they had in HMV to use the remainder of my gift card with, but to be fair the selection wasn't always what I wanted in there. It seemed a little bit smaller than I thought that it was (well HMV anyway) but the centre was relatively less packed for a Sunday afternoon. Whether or not this was because Chelsea were playing down the road I'm not sure, but still.

I headed back later and the train this time got to platform 17 of Clapham Junction, which always seems to have really narrow exits, so had to wait for everyone to queue to get up stairs, but did manage to get across to Platform 13 in good time. Everyone was trying to pile into one train but I waited for the next one three minutes later and this was positively empty! This is one thing I've noted a lot, everyone seems to want to rush around and yet a little patience reaps rewards, and often seats too.

It was back home in good time for the FA Cup fourth round game between Cardiff City and Manchester City at the Cardiff City Stadium. The last time we'd played at Cardiff in the FA Cup we lost, and last time in the league we'd lost too, so good to try and get that sorted. The atmosphere was good with the ground packed to the rafters, and with Joleon Lescott being one of the pundits we were at least going to have a bit of City bias on there, always a good thing in my view.

City surged forward early on, and got a free kick when Gundogan was fouled. Up stepped Kevin de Bruyne and he simply sidefooted the ball under the wall, who had all jumped, and in it went to the bottom corner for 1-0. In fact it should have been 2-0 when Bernardo Silva struck a beauty home but it was not given apparently because Leroy Sané was offside, yet he wasn't. Mind you, the referee concerned had a habit of being poor and so it proved when Sané was hacked down near half time and the Cardiff defender should have had a red card, but only got a yellow.

However, City had gone 2-0 up already as a move down the left found a gorgeous cross from Bernardo Silva, met with a header by Raheem Sterling and that was that. City were in cruise control second half, almost asking Cardiff to come and try and get the ball off us. Bernardo went close, as did Danilo, but it was really easy for City to be honest and never looked in doubt. So round five here we come, and I have a feeling we're going to be away and a tricky game at that, we shall see. In the meantime tune of the day is the excellent "Hit The North" by The Fall, which Match of the Day used at the end of its coverage. As Mark E Smith was a City fan, nice touch that...

Saturday 27th January - Through The Wind And Rain

I was at home this weekend, and The Love In My Heart had made plans to head out with one of her friends in Manchester, so decided to make the most of the day and get out for a walk and some fresh air. It made perfect sense for me to do that, especially as it meant that the cold bug might just do one for a time whilst I also keep fit and healthy at the same time. I thought about possible walk contenders and it was an option to do part of the London LOOP that most appealed. So with guide downloaded as PDF to the phone to refer back to, it was off on the 403 bus to Hamsey Green.

Once there, it was a case of noticing that the stop I'd got off at was actually outside the Greater London boundary, and so this walk would skirt almost along that border as you go. It was a walk along a path through fields at first, then heading along some woods, left at a gate and then downhill and following an old country track road which took you over the railway line to East Grinstead before dropping down towards the back of Kenley, and just inside Greater London. In fact I recognised the road as the route that the 407 bus would take to Caterham and back.

It was then across the railway line, and up a road with a very steep hill, and in addition some steep stairs, towards Kenley Common. At this point the wind and rain got really really bad, we're talking almost horizontal rain coming at you due to the wind, and even though I had a big coat on, the wind really was blowing everyone around the common somewhat. I had tried to follow a way round but it didn't seem so dry either, and by the time I'd got to the other side, the rain was coming in and being set for the afternoon, so I decided to abandon the plan, having spotted the Wattenden Arms pub along the way.

I would have with better weather carried on and completed the whole walk to Coulsdon South, but instead I decided to go back the way I came somewhat and head back down the hill and over the railway to the stop for the 407 bus and took that homewards, it was just easier as I knew it was all downhill from there. I suppose I could have gone and had a look at Kenley Aerodrome but with the rain I just didn't fancy getting even more wet to be honest. I got home, a tad frustrated that the weather had been so bad to prevent me doing a full walk but at least I had done some which was something at least.

I spent the afternoon and evening fairly relaxed, and saw some of the Saturday night telly whilst having my tea - and a rather nice steak and Old Peculier ale pie at that! It was intriguing to see that new show All Together Now where 100 people were the judges, including Geri Horner. The concept was okay and the idea that you had to convince the 100 to join in and be part of the performance seemed decent, but I'd have probably taken it more seriously if it wasn't interlaced with splatterings of over the top performances from some of those 100 really. Kind of made it lose credibility a bit.

I did see Match of the Day later and so nice for them to have The Fall's "Theme From Sparta FC" (make that tune of the day) earlier on Final Score, but also they used bits of the Mark E Smith reading of the football results and put it together for him to read the FA Cup results. That worked pretty well and it did at least provide a nice tribute to Mark E, and certainly with the likes of Liverpool losing, and Tottenham drawing at Newport, it was the magic of the Cup once again.

Friday 26th January - Why My Love Is Brilliant At Her Job

With me feeling all icky with a cold, I decided to instead focus on just why that The Love In My Heart is brilliant at her job, and how much her hard work and dedication inspires me to do the same and be a better person. In fact, one of the key things that attracted me to her when we first met is that she was prepared to work hard to get somewhere in life, and worked her way up through the ranks to do the job that she does, and does very well. If you have a like minded person in that regard, it really does help a lot.

So The Love is a manager of a children's nursery. She's been a manager for many years now, and sometimes when I've had some work related issues, she's always tried to be objective and to see things from a managerial point of view as well as myself. If for example there's something that I didn't agree with or a decision made, she would offer me some thought and some guidance, and not to take things too personally (harder than it looks with me it has to be said). It's also a common sense approach which she takes which often is the best path to resolution and to be fair.

When you grow up, there are certain people you don't forget, certain teachers for example. People who do their job in nurseries are often part of who you don't forget, spending time with you, giving you learning and support, and making you feel happy in your surroundings. I know The Love did that all the time before she became a manager, and continued that leading by example ethos when managing. What I didn't realise is just how much the children whom she managed over the years really appreciated that, as did the many parents who we'd meet when out and about and would instantly strike a conversation with The Love too.

Perhaps though the best example I can give is of one instance being in central Manchester together and heading out on the tram. We were waiting at the tram stop and a voice says her name, and before we know it there is a now much older child running to greet her and to say hello. The recognition was mutual, and the child's parent and child spoke to us both as we all waited for the tram. What struck me was that this was many years after the child had left the nursery, and yet that child had felt so cared for and inspired that it was still a friendly and nice person to go and say hello to.

I do remind The Love that in moments of doubt, it's those moments that you cherish because the lasting impression on the child and parent is the biggest reward for what you do, helping them make the most of their lives and giving the childhood stability and purpose in a safe, caring, learning environment, allowing the parents to work hard and provide the best home environment for the child. I could say about one child who loved Madagascar 2 and would insist on singing "I like to move it, move it" a lot, and plenty more that she has told me about who've provided her with joyous and happy moments in the job.

So let's be clear: The Love In My Heart is bloody brilliant in the job she does, and the fact I've met some of those children and parents when we've been out together, and they've told me directly how good she was, says a lot. It gives me an immense sense of pride knowing I'm with someone so professional and bubbly and bright, and long may that continue. Sandie Shaw's "Nothing Less Than Brilliant" sums it up perfectly when Sandie sings, "I know just how rare you are, and you're nothing less than brilliant in my eyes" (tune of the day obviously) and that's a sentiment echoed by many a child and parent I've met, I'm sure of that.

Thursday 25th January - Hunted Again

After a busy day at work, it was off on the tube to Edgware Road and then down on the District Line to Wimbledon Park, and a visit to James The Barbers to get the hair cut. As ever, they did their magic and soon had everything all nice and sorted, and was good to be pretty relaxed and feel like a shed load of the dry hair came off cleanly. I must admit that when it does get longer it gets a tad unwieldy on occasion, so really nice to have all that sorted.

Once done it was into Wimbledon, and well, there's now a branch of Wilko open, pretty good to know. It does save a trip to Sutton or Bromley, and is easier because it's a nice easy tram ride from near the apartment in Croydon to there. I did also mooch in the HMV too, nothing took the fancy per se but I did venture up to the top floor and check out the café bar as part of the Curzon Cinema up there, it did look nice and certainly it'd be well worth me checking out and seeing a film there at some point for a change, although probably best not whilst bunged up really.

It was onwards to home later and I stopped off at Iceland, and ended up with a shed load of good stuff for the freezer at not very expensive prices, something I'll always approve of. In fact that did mean it'd save me doing some food shopping tomorrow night and running around, so a definite plus point in my view. I did hunt down some good bargains such as the Dr Oetker pizzas for half price (except my favourite chicken one for some reason..) and also some good Birds Eye stuff to make during the week, and... steak and Old Peculier ale pies, going to have to give them a go I reckon!

I got home and had some tea and after a lovely chat with The Love In My Heart it was on with Hunted on Channel 4. It was the fourth episode now and they had certainly been keeping going in tracking down the people, especially the father and son who were using their freemasons' network to avoid detection. Ultimately they had to make a hard decision to split up because clearly some of the masons were being followed and tracked by the hunters in the hope it would lead directly to the two of them..

Elsewhere Majid, the Green Party person from Sheffield, had exited the Manchester area, daring to take a selfie in St Peter's Square where the hunt had begun. He did head back to Sheffield though and stayed with a Green Party friend, but wisely decided not to go to a rally with Caroline Lucas there because the Hunters were all over it. That said, they'd worked out the house where he was staying and it looks very much like a continuing dramatic chase across the Peak District looks very much on, so that's going to be good. The theme tune is going to be tune of the day- it's certainly a tad sinister and gets you in suspense when you listen too.

Wednesday 24th January - Mark E Smith, Bloody Hell

I was planning to write something completely different for today's diary entry but instead I've heard the rather sad news that the enigmatic Manchester music legend, lead of The Fall, and the original spirit of keeping things independent and not giving a stuff about what anyone else might say, Mark E Smith, has passed away tonight. It's hard to put into words the feeling of sadness I do have, but when I heard the news I kept thinking "bloody hell" as no matter what had happened previously, Mark E had always bounced back in his own unique fashion.

Of course growing up in the 1980s, The Fall were very much a part of the whole Manchester music psyche, but yet always wanting to be slightly on the edge. Henry Rollins once said in a spoken word show that the one friend you'd want by your side wanted to fight you was Mark E Smith, as he seemed almost untouchable and had an air of being the hardest so and so in Salford that others would just run off or cower in fear knowing that you were stepping on to his turf.

Certainly for me the 80s produced some of The Fall and Mark's finest work, the likes of "Totally Wired" "C.R.E.E.P", "Hit The North", "Telephone Thing" were constant plays, and in addition, the ace cover of "Mr. Pharmacist" with accompanying classic video used to get played in indie clubs quite a bit early on. It's a band you either got or you didn't, but having the legendary John Peel champion what you do showed that they had a particular something which was different, whether it was a rant from Mark, powerful guitars or even an era with two drummers.

Not just that: I can remember Mark reading the football results on BBC Final Score (when "Theme From Sparta FC" by the band was being used as the intro theme) and after reading them asked Ray Stubbs if his number 1 haircut was reminiscent of the convicts in Strangeways! Only Mark E could do that, and he was a Manchester City fan, so obviously that was well with me anyway, calling their 0-0 draw with Blackburn that day of Final Score "Hopeless as usual", blunt and to the point as he always was.

I could go on about the guest vocals with the Inspiral Carpets on their single "I Want You" or the fact he went into big beats dance with D.O.S.E's "Plug Myself In" with Mark proclaiming the line to make it sound like "Call Nitzer Ebb!" (I know it's not, just the classic way he said it). Hard to pick a particular favourite Fall song, but for tune of the day I'm going to pick "Hey! Student" which was the B-side on the "15 Ways" single in 1994 (I have said single on 10" clear vinyl) and is classic Mark E Smith ranting and going for it. To be honest I could have picked any of a number of songs, and that says a lot really. It's a huge Mancunian void to fill, but it says a lot about the Manchester music scene just how many people are paying tribute to Mark E Smith with their own words and stories of how he had an influence on what they did - and that's a lasting legacy to say the least.

Tuesday 23rd January - Run Down

I did feel a little run down as I got up this morning, and even after heading to work it just seemed as if the slight feeling of being bunged up was starting to affect me. I did feel a tad shivery later and so it was off to the supermarket for lunch but to also get some paracetemol to try and get the temperature a bit more regulated too. The Love In My Heart hasn't been feeling too well either and somewhat woozy so maybe there's something in the air at the moment which isn't nice.

Despite all that, I managed to spend a fair chunk of the day working on a few different plans of action, one of which was the documentation for the form I'd been devising in ServiceNow to generate some requests for servers, making the whole process hopefully a lot easier. I'd spent time with my colleague in the Server Team and it was really good to have her feedback on this, and it was then a case of finishing off the documentation I'd done to document as I go whilst I was building the form up, which was nice.

I also then looked into how deployment was going for some applications and monitored a couple of failures, found out why those were and then sorted them out, and also worked on some ways to move a few other things forward. I did find it hard to concentrate because of the feeling of being somewhat run down a little, especially as I was shivering during parts of the afternoon and had to head off to the loo to avoid looking a tad embarassed at the whole thing.

The night slalom from Schladming greeted me when I got home from work later, and this is always pretty exciting to be honest, it's floodlit, full of skiing fans and is a real test of nerve too. Britain had Dave Ryding taking part and actually he did fairly well overall, it's never easy going mid way through the second run but he did what he had to do, and from being 12th in the first run, he ended up staying there, which was a good effort. The needle match was between Henrik Kristofferson and Marcel Hirscher, they were miles ahead of everyone else to say the least.

Tune of the day in the meantime is the excellent "One Man Rock and Roll Band" by Roy Harper, the opening track on side two of his criminally under-rated album Stormcock. It sets the scene of how coming back from war just doesn't feel right, and how war itself is just wrong, and dealt with over the seven or so minutes with intelligent, well thought lyrics, and a piano at the end that just pierces through the whole track and sets a real sense of ending. If you haven't got the album you need to.

Monday 22nd January - F1 2017

After work I decided that it might be nice to use some of the HMV gift cards that I'd been given for Christmas, and knew that there were a few things that I was after. The idea I had was to head to the HMV on Oxford Street, near Bond Street tube, and have a good mooch around there. It wasn't so far to be able to walk from work to Chancery Lane tube (the other option would have been St Paul's, either is about the same distance from work) and then from there wait to get the next tube. It was busy as you'd expect at peak time but I got on.

Of course getting off at Bond Street meant that I was going the other way to everyone else which was nice to see just how busy it can be. It was good really that I had been able to saunter out, and I soon found the HMV concerned. Ideally it would have been nice if they had the DVD box set of the classic series The Adventure Game but no can do. However what they did have instead and on Blu-Ray was the Formula 1 2017 season review. I've got the previous six on Blu-Ray (and the four before it on DVD if I remember) so I've got a fair number of them now.

The only nightmare later was getting back to Victoria, I got on at Bond Street and off at Green Park, but trying to get on a Southbound tube wasn't happening. It was tons quieter going the other way to Warren Street then swapping platforms back for a Southbound one where I was able to get on comfortably before the madness of Oxford Circus and Green Park. Nice. I then got the train from Victoria home and got a seat, as by this time it was close to 7 in the evening.

I had my tea when I got home and then put on the Blu-Ray player, all set to go. The iconic F1 intro music came on and with the old logo (the cover has the new F1 logo, not sure I like that to be honest!) - and that's tune of the day, still gets the pulse racing, even though I do also like the 90s wacka wacka guitar intro (you'll know the one when you hear it) which was also cool. Still, plus points a plenty: Ben Edwards doing the narration and a quality job, and James Allen doing the more in-depth stuff, it really does set the scene well.

Of course, the racing itself was pretty dramatic in places, none more so than the Azerbaijan Grand Prix, possibly the best one of the year in terms of drama, crashes, surprise finishes, and a real sense of needle between Lewis Hamilton and Sebastian Vettel, who clearly turned a lot of people against him with the antics he did in that race. And of course Lance Stroll getting a podium and having to do the inaugural "shoey" from Daniel Ricciardo (and earlier in the season Patrick Stewart, legendary actor that he is, was well up for some of that too!!)

Sunday 21st January - Reccy and Dockyard

It was a fairly relaxed lie in this morning with The Love In My Heart and Brian the cat, who as ever was snuggled on the end corner of the bed and had a big yawn to indicate that he was all cosy and for him not to be moved! I didn't need to move him as he always snuggles up to the feet of The Love, but nonetheless he came to the door and had a nosey before I headed into the bathroom. He is lovely though, and was allowing me lots of fussing and cuddles of him later on, so really nice.

We had some breakfast and The Love had a couple of work related things to do, and so because I'm quite a quick person on the typing we figured it'd be better if she was able to tell me what to write and I'd type it in, and that meant that the task in hand was being done quicker. That also then allowed us to check out somewhere that she was going to be heading this week, and so once I had an idea on the map we ventured out in the car with a view to doing a reccy where the place is.

Once we'd got that done, The Love suggested we head back via Salford Quays and have lunch in The Dockyard pub, as we'd not been there for a while. I wasn't saying no to that, and this time around The Love tried the car park close to the Booths grocery shop and the Premier Inn, which wasn't too bad and was £3.50 for two hours at weekends (it's much more during the week though!) It did mean that at least we'd have a shorter walk towards where the BBC is and then to the Dockyard pub, so that worked out well, especially as it was hammering it down!

Lunch was to be ours in there, and I had the rather nice ale called The Ex-Wife, a really good session beer that was. The Sunday Lunch was on too, so The Love went for the lamb shank and I saw that there was a pie on, so the chicken and mushroom pie was mine, and both very nice too. In fact I even considered their orange cheesecake for dessert, so I ordered that and a coffee for me and a wine for The Love, and after I'd been to the loo decided to stop at the jukebox and put some tunes on.

The Love recognised the ones that I'd done, and the jukebox was decent. Any that has the likes of "Computer World" by Kraftwerk, "True Faith" by New Order and "You're The Best Thing" by The Style Council had to be decent of course, but also "Breakout" by Swing Out Sister as well, a song we both love, so definitely tune of the day and a pleasant change to hear something decent in the pub that isn't Ed Sheeran (his music gets played too often everywhere for my liking..) and just felt really nice being together all afternoon.

It was plenty of hugs and kisses goodbye at Manchester Piccadilly later as I headed back down on the train to London Euston, via the tube to Victoria and in good time for the 2006 departure to East Croydon, and home to see the remainder of the Masters snooker final. Unless the last frames have a really high break, it looks like for the third time when I've seen a snooker event live, I'll have seen the highest break (Monday night's 139 from Liang Wenbo) and that was one of seven centuries I saw that day, quality stuff!

Saturday 20th January - Agüero Again

It was off to Euston and on the 0900 train to Manchester, and once in Manchester, it was a stop off at Sainsburys and then on the tram to see The Love In My Heart. She hadn't been at all well this week and so I thought it good for her to have a lie in and I'd take the tram to hers, where it was nice just to chill out and chat with her for a bit and have lots of fuss over Brian the cat, who was being ever so lovely as per usual. We had to head out to Asda later to get some bits of shopping and once done, we were back at her place and all relaxed before her father and sister came over.

It was good to see them both of course, and had a sandwich and coffee and natter whilst there, so all good. Her father mentioned to me about the football and the snooker, and of course the semi final of the Masters was in the background. He had tried to look for me when I had gone on the Monday but was unable to locate me, most likely because the camera didn't always pan round the crowd and I was literally square right of the blue spot where I was sat for both sessions.

Later on I met with my friend and it was off to the Etihad to watch Manchester City's home game against Newcastle United, and it was important that City got back to winning ways after losing to Liverpool last Sunday. I knew that Sergio Agüero had form against this side, remembering his five goals in around twenty minutes when we won 6-1 at home not so long back. It was a fair test to see where we were and we discussed the formation and how we'd play during our pre-match cuppa, now a definitely nice thing to do for us both.

So it was on with the show, and City were heading forward in suitable numbers. My friend and I were both impressed with Oleksander Zivchenko at left back, he put in some quality tackles and really looked good heading forward too. It was good to see him being given a go ahead of Danilo too I should add, and so it was promising. A cross came over from Kevin de Bruyne, and it appeared to just head over the head of Agüero and curl in. However, he must have got the faintest of touches because the goal was credited to Sergio and so that was 1-0 to City before half time.

The second half was more of City's pressing and Newcastle playing defensive a lot more. It took a while for us to break them down, but Raheem Sterling ran down the left and was hauled down in the box for a penalty. Agüero took it and blasted it in the left side and just went past the keeper for 2-0, all good and looking decent. Newcastle though did press a bit and a through ball found their midfielder Murphy who had the legs of Zinchenko and dinked the ball past Ederson in the City goal to pull it back to 2-1 and that made it more tense.

I'd say that but then City pressed onwards and kept going, and Leroy Sané went down the left hand side, weaved his way around five Newcastle players, and then fed Agüero, who got the ball out from under his feet and swept the ball home with his left to make it 3-1. It was also the first perfect hat-trick in the Premier League for some time (ie: right foot, left foot, header) and his second of the season after an earlier one away at Watford - only Sergio and Harry Kane of Tottenham have two this season. Oasis' "Wonderwall" blasted out as we left the ground happy, so tune of the day for the City related reasons, and not least because Georgi Kinkladze was there as a guest.

That was all good and later on it was back to The Love In My Heart's place with some gorgeous roast chicken and a nice little cheesecake for dessert, and then settled in for a bit of The Voice. It wasn't too bad I guess, although The Love likes it a lot more than me. The bloke who overcame his stammer to really sing well was good, and through the power of song had found a way to speak more comfortably with rhythm, and as everyone deals with things differently, good to see. Could have done with Olly Murs singing on his tod earlier in the show though mind you, especially as he's a staunch Man U fan and all that.

Friday 19th January - Testing Time

It was good to spend a day of two halves. The first half of the day was with the team that I work with, and spent some time working on the new version of PowerBI Desktop and getting that packaged up and suitably tested. That worked pretty nicely on the whole, unlike the new release of Java Runtime Environment, which when installed as a system user as SCCM would do, decided to effectively place a whole Sun folder in the root of the C drive complete with some files and folders in there. Not so hot.

I did also then spend some time in the afternoon upstairs with one of our call centre staff, as they had been experiencing an odd issue with call transfers. I had already agreed that I'd be up there with them, and as it turned out around an hour so into the afternoon, I could see that one of the issues occurred. I was with them and attempted to rectify it, but it seemed that the window had drawn as if it were a transparent one and didn't allow for some reason to show the window, with no resizing or anything.

I did note though that one of the other pieces of software in use had decided to draw its own odd window with a grey box, which then appeared to happen the same way to me as well on the PC I was using. I'd managed to close it down after killing off some scheduled tasks, but it was perhaps notable that there was a connection there, and so I may need to do some further testing next week to see what will happen and how best to move that forward if possible.

I watched some of the snooker later on when I got home and John Higgins was in imperious form, taking five frames on the bounce and making some good breaks to overhaul Ryan Day 6-1. I'd seen Ryan beat Ding Junhui early in the week so I was surprised that he had lost the match by that score, but I guess Higgins may be thinking it's possibly his best chance in ages to win a Masters title, which would be his third. Mind you, he does face Mark Allen in the semis, and Kyren Wilson v Judd Trump in the other semi is also hard to call too.

I also saw Top of the Pops from 1985 on BBC Four, a sure fire sign that the charts were changing, with only a handful of new entries and others being "chart entry", in other words taking some time before making the top 40. Ironically Russ Abbot's "Atmosphere" was one of the highest climbers (why?) but I was most pleased to see Prince's classic "1999" on there as well as the brilliant "Only Yesterday" by Strawberry Switchblade (make that one tune of the day) - I love that!

Thursday 18th January - Working From Home

I woke up in the middle of the night and all I could hear was the wind blowing, very strongly, all around where I live. It wasn't pretty. It also didn't sound very nice either and it was good to be able to go back to sleep. Even more so that today was a a work at home today (we're taking turns to work from home on specific days to free up desk space in the office for people who need it.) I've done it before and it can be quite useful to do so, so it meant a later wake up, breakfast, coffee from the Tassimo whenever I fancied it, all that sort of thing.

In fact it was good to avoid the bad weather (my colleague who travels in from Bushey mentioned a nightmarish journey this morning) and get on with plenty. In fact this allowed me to crack on not just with developing a form in the ServiceNow service desk software, but also documenting it at the same time, thus saving time and hassle all round really. It was good to get that done and work on how the form would look, and have conversations via Skype with my colleague in the team that requested the form, so we can see how it would work properly for us.

I also spent some time getting a couple of setup changes so I could access my VDI from home first thing. It transpired that some of them had been moved to a new server and new portal, but to ensure this would work I had to add the host name of the new server in my hosts file on the PC here. Wasn't too difficult to do and it was all smooth and seamless really, so that made me positive. In fact I would even say it was faster going through the revised server, so anything like that just has to be done really.

It did mean I could work from home and listen to the snooker in the afternoon, and what a match that proved to be with Mark Allen thrashing Ronnie O'Sullivan 6-1, and richly merited too. You might think that it was one visit snooker, and it was Allen making sure when he had a chance he took it and was pretty clinical. It was annoying, and something Mark mentioned post-match, that some so-called Ronnie "fans" would do anything such as shout out when Mark was playing and almost wanting him to miss. They're not proper snooker fans in my opinion and it's not Ronnie's fault that there's idiots out there either.

It also meant that I could listen to music without headphones whilst working and so it was good to play some tunes through my system also. So as such that meant plenty of Matt Gray's "Reformation" remakes of his own Commodore 64 tunes, including the brilliant and powerful rendition of the Village theme from that level of the game Tusker, definite tune of the day for me and a long favourite from that set. Makes me almost want to play the original game now!

Wednesday 17th January - Cup Drama

I had BBC One on tonight with a view to flicking between that and the Masters Snooker on BBC Red Button, where John Higgins was taking on Anthony McGill. Both players to be fair do have quality walk on music, Higgins having "Dignity" by Deacon Blue and McGill having an even better one - "This Charming Man" by The Smiths, so make that one tune of the day all round. In fact that match was pretty dramatic and finished reasonably late - the third frame being pretty epic and McGill won that to go 2-1 behind and win the next three to go 4-2 up, only for Higgins to up a gear and win four on the bounce himself to make it 6-4!

So back to the cup replay - it was Chelsea v Norwich City, and there were plenty of empty seats (primarily due to the prices I suspect, but also because not a full allocation taken for the away end). The kick off was also delayed due to the District Line not playing ball so well - anyone who uses that part knows that the Earls Court to Wimbledon section is notoriously unreliable, and Fulham Broadway (nearest stop to Stamford Bridge) is on that part of the line.

It was a dull first half, and was looking slightly dull at the start of the second half when Chelsea took the lead through Michy Batshuayi. However, nothing prepared for what was going to happen. It was stoppage time, Chelsea holding on, and Norwich kept going forward. In the very last minute of stoppage time the ball was crossed in from the left by Timm Klose, and Jamal Lewis expertly headed it into the corner. Great finish, the first of his career, and in front of the Norwich fans inside Stamford Bridge. Excellent all round!

That was only the start of the madness though, as extra time proved to be highly dramatic. First of all, Willian headed over an outstretched Norwich defender's leg - possibly fouled by Timm Klose for a penalty. All the pundits screamed for the use of VAR (Video Assistant Referee) but in fact VAR would have gone wth the referee, and Willian was booked for diving. Whilst maybe a pen, the fact that Pedro had dived earlier (and was booked quite righly by the referee) didn't help the Chelsea cause either.

In fact, the last few minutes of extra time was mental. First of all Pedro went in for a challenge he shouldn't have done, and after his booking for diving earlier, meant a second yellow and red card. Then right at the end Alvaro Morata went down in the box (he was slightly held back but not massively) and sprawled for a penalty. The ref said no, Morata made a TV gesture to go to the VAR, and also then started screaming abuse at the ref. Having been booked for the dive, the referee turned that into a second yellow and red for the reaction. Chelsea were down to nine men and Norwich tried at the end to get a winner, but not to be.

I also know from experience when he was at Manchester City that Chelsea goalkeeper Willy Caballero happens to be pretty handy in penalty shootouts, and so was no surprise to me that he saved the first Norwich penalty, which proved decisive with Chelsea going first. In fact all the Chelsea penalties were scored and so it was up to Eden Hazard to score the winner and he did so. Still, a decent game all round in the end and one certainly with a degree of controversy!

Tuesday 16th January - Back In The Swing

So it was back to work today after the excursion to the snooker yesterday, and all was good. In fact I had plenty to be getting on with so it was a case of working out a plan of action and cracking on. The first thing was to further test the Dell BIOS update for the Intel Microcode side of things, and on the whole this did actually work pretty well, albeit the restart comes up with a different exit code. Thankfully I know exactly what to do to get around that one so will be doing some further testing. I've also got a couple of HP laptops which I shall rebuild and test out a test task sequence with the new HP BIOS stuff for that too.

We also had our third line team meeting this morning, and it was good to be able to lay out plenty of stuff that I had planned. In fact when I read all of that out, it did seem quite ominous as to just how much we actually have to do, and lots across all of us for the next few months. In addition, once the Windows 10 upgrade has completed, it'll be a case of then decommissioning the old SCCM 2007, so going to be a real sense of getting that sorted and not having to administer two systems at the same time, result I reckon.

It's also been more busy as well in terms of day to day stuff primarily because we're low on some of our support staff at the moment, two of the team are now in different positions and so it's a case of being able to do what I can to help them out where possible and balance out the stuff I need to do too - not always easy of course but needs to be done nonetheless. In the meantime, I'm doing some more controlled tests, rolled out a couple of planned changes and pretty much got back in the swing.

It was good to be home, sort out the pictures from yesterday's snooker and get them uploaded, and then also settle in to watch tonight's match with Kyren Wilson up against Barry Hawkins, and so far it's been a cracker, with both players going for it, and some quality break building too - in fact the first two frames Hawkins won, both were centuries, which is a very high standard indeed. I did think the table is playing well after seeing the matches yesterday, with tons a plenty going in!

Tune of the day in the meantime is the rather good "5000 Miles" by She Makes War, the opening track from her previous album Direction of Travel. Her new album has a Pledge Music campaign going at the moment, and I would strongly suggest that you do pledge for that - it'll be a victory for excellent music and a great new release for all to enjoy. You can even get the album on a red cassette or blue vinyl - such nice choices had I not already gone in at a higher level of signed CD, demos album and t-shirt. But do pledge!

Monday 15th January - Goblins and Masters Snooker

I had a day off work today, mainly as I was heading off to Alexandra Palace for the Masters snooker tournament, where I went last year and had a good time. I had the same early bird deal with tickets half price, so the whole day's worth of snooker (two matches involving the top 16 players, each best of 11) meant that was mine for a mere £10.50, absolute bargain in my view. I had been looking forward to this for some time especially as I'd seen some of the opening day between Mark Williams and Mark Selby on telly yesterday.

But before that, a little diversionary journey by train. I'd been awaiting the re-opening of the Gospel Oak to Barking line on London Overground (known locally as GOBLIN) after its electrification. The line won't be using the new four carriage electric trains yet, so it's still the two carriage Turbostar Class 172s. But, they're nice anyway and have proper seating facing the way you're going, and are surprisingly clean and nice inside. In fact, once I left Gospel Oak, it was a relaxing journey making its way through North and East London and towards Barking.

In fact, I needed to later on head on that service back, changing at Blackhorse Road for the Victoria Line to Finsbury Park, and in a real sense of excellent timing, got up to the train platform in perfect time to get the train to Alexandra Palace, and well in time for the start of play. I had time to see the usual snooker table laid up for the 10 reds clearance challenge, lots of memorabilia on sale. However they did need more catering staff in the main bar area: did seem as if they were short staffed and so service for those who waited was slow. This probably was why a number of people who would pop out between frames for a beer or coffee would miss at least one frame - of course yours truly doesn't do that, I like to watch it all.

Ding Junhui v Ryan Day was first up, and at 3-0 to Ding I was fearing for a whitewash. However, crucially Ryan pulled one back before the interval and then started to motor after the mid-session interval and pinched a couple of frames from behind as well as started to knock some cracking breaks together. In fact the quality of play from both players was superb: five centuries in all which is the most I think I've seen in a single session, and it could have gone either way from 5-4, but Ryan was excellent and thoroughly deserving of his win. I think too that although the Chinese in the crowd were gunning for Ding, they also appreciated the quality of the break building that Ryan was putting together.

I was sat directly facing the blue spot on the right hand side, and so when the referee Marcel Eckhardt correctly gave the foul against Ding as he brushed against the blue when reaching over, I had a perfect view of it - and he certainly did move it, not by much, but was a good call. Also, Ryan was questioning one re-position following a miss, and having checked on screen with the other referee Olivier Marteel who was doing the scorer role, Olivier went "that's spot on!" and I could see the screen from where I was sat - he was exactly right. Good to see Marcel's been given this tournament and he certainly is improving well as a referee.

The afternoon session finished around 5pm so like most people it was off to Wood Green on the W3 bus for a bite to eat and a drink before heading back for the evening session. It was then whilst having tea I found out the sad news about Dolores O'Riordan of the Cranberries passing way. It seems somehow apt that their song "Zombie" is tune of the day - a song that defined their sound and the unique voice somewhat too. That and "Linger" were two staples of the 1990s for a lot of people, myself included.

Back at Alexandra Palace for the evening session, Judd Trump's very snazzy striped shirt certainly had a few people paying attention, and against Liang Wenbo was going to be a good match. Judd pinched some frames that were close and put together some good breaks and 3-1 at mid-session became 5-1. However, getting over the finishing line is always tricky and to be fair to Liang, two centuries back to back were quality stuff, including the current highest break of the tournament too. Judd eventually did enough to get over the line to win 6-4 but the spirited effort from Liang certainly merited applause from the crowd, finishing just around 10pm.

Incidentally, something else I'd spotted along the way: the two TV studios (one Eurosport, one BBC) are either side of the sole commentary booth (BBC commentators inside.) Interestingly, although Neil Robertson was there with Eurosport and I spotted him several times around the Palace itself, it seemed that he spent most of the day in that booth either watching from within or reading through which bits of punditry to do in the evening. You could see for the evening session the Eurosport studio on before play with Colin Murray et al, and the lights on the BBC one during the afternoon with Jason Mohammad, Steve Davis and John Parrott.

So it was then avoiding the rain, back on the W3 bus to Alexandra Palace station, then taking the train to Highbury and Islington, literally walking across platforms straight on to the Victoria Line tube, and then once at Victoria changing for the train back to East Croydon and then home. It had been a long day but one that was excellent in terms of snooker action and just whetted the appetite for the rest of the week as well - massively looking forward to it all now!

Sunday 14th January - A Walk In Abney Park

It was nice to have had some good sleep overnight, and both The Love In My Heart and I were all snuggled up in bed, and with Brian the cat sleeping in his usual spot at the end of the bed, that made me feel rather all nice. In fact last night when watching Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol Brian sat on the sofa between The Love and I and had me stroking him for ages with contented purring, so that was nice. We had some nice breakfast and I settled in to watch a bit of telly whilst The Love got herself ready.

We decided it'd be nice just to head out for a walk, and although it would have been nice to go round Fletcher Moss, it was just too busy to try and get a space for The Love's car, so instead we headed off towards Cheadle and off to Abney Park. In fact since we last were here it looks like there's been a care home built in the park itself, which I guess would at least have some scenic views if nothing else. We did follow the path that took us up to the hall, and noted that some of it had been redecorated and painted on the outside, looking like refreshed nicely.

We did follow the path out of the hall and along the road towards the café on the far side and the lake. We then walked up the path close to the railway line and wondered where it went, and in fact we could see the Ashlea pub from the back, so this was obviously the short cut we've seen from people walking to the car park! It was then a case of following the path which took you along the fields, back towards the main road and to the front entrance, although we had at least looped around a bit.

We then went off to the Gateway pub in East Didsbury for a bit of lunch, and that was all nice, especially as I had the steak and eggs, with the sirloin done medium and pretty good too - and The Love's ultimate burger looked the part. In fact I had a coffee and a cheesecake slice for dessert, and they have a posh new coffee machine in there - you get a mug and you can go back for free refills, including the likes of latte and capuccino as well. Must remember that if at gigs where there's a Wetherspoons nearby and I don't fancy a beer!

It was a sad farewell later to The Love as I headed on the train back home, and indeed more so as I heard news of the Liverpool - Manchester City game. City went down to 4-1, then pulled it back to 4-3 at the end and almost got an equaliser too, but our unbeaten league record this season has finally gone. Fair play to Liverpool though, they wanted it more and it really showed as well. Tune of the day was playing as I headed home tonight, the excellent "The Spirit Lives" by Roy Harper, himself a City fan incidentally...

Saturday 13th January - When The Day Job Is A Weekend Job

The Love In My Heart and myself got ourselves up and ready, and Brian the cat was after lots of fusses and cuddles from us both (for a change!) - as normally he may snub me a little. However, I think he was rather pleased that it was all attention fro him as he was purring nicely, and he must have known we were heading out later in the day. In fact, it was a whistlestop head out, and first of all off to The Love's father's place, as he had mentioned to The Love that his printer wasn't working and so had asked me to look at it.

Before that though, it was over to see The Love's father's neighbour, who wanted some advice on a replacement laptop battery for the laptop that she has. In fact that was all good as it was a nice easy thing: she wanted to know which battery it was, where to get it from, and if at all possible if we could get an original replacement as well. In fact getting the model number of the battery was easy as it slotted out, and with it being lithium ion, and the laptop being a few years old, I suspected it had just been overused. I located an original online from a reputable retailer and she was happy to get that ordered and sorted, so that was easy really.

The Love and I headed back to her father's place, and I soon discovered the issue with the printer. It claimed it had no black ink, and he said he had replaced the cartridge. It looked like it had been, but.. with the same one that was empty and had been taken out in the first place - particularly as when you held them in your hand you could tell which was heavier. And of course the new one didn't have the orange tab taken off either, so easy to sort that, the light went off and all was working again. To be fair, we've all done that when we've changed a cartridge over at some point!

It was then a quick stop at The Love's place before heading over to The Cheshire Line near Cheadle to meet up with Mum and her friend. Mum very kindly offered to get us a drink and the four of us chatted for a while as they had just had some lunch, before The Love very kindly gave them a lift with us back to Mum's, where we had a coffee as well. It was good to be cosy and have a good catch up before then heading off to Asda on the way back, and getting a posh pizza and garlic bread for tea along with some wine for The Love (especially as I had Black Cat ale in already!)

We settled in for the evening and watched Great British Railway Journeys from last night on BBC iPlayer which included a nice visit to parts of Cornwall including Fowey, and Goonhilly on the Lizard Peninsula. Nice. And then it was on with Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation on Channel 4 (make the theme tune tune of the day) which meant lots of Tom Cruise for The Love and lots of action generally for us both. It's always good to spot parts of London being filmed, and I actually spotted that the phone box Jeremy Renner uses in one scene is very close to my office!!

Friday 12th January - BIOS Brilliance

It was a day of discovery and working things out all day to be perfectly honest. This was primarily due to both HP and Dell having released a swathe of BIOS updates which also amends the Intel processor microcode and how it interacts with the BIOS. This is the hardware part to help mitigate the Meltdown and Spectre vulnerabilities, so pretty good that we've got some progress on this at least. Almost all the HP laptops we have will have an update available with some of the others following in the near future. And for the Dell desktops, the three newest models appear to have them that we have, so not bad there.

As a result I spent a chunk of time today looking at how the Dell BIOS update applies itself and how we'd be able to in effect get that out there in a controlled way. The good thing was that you can apply things silently (good there) but also that you can invoke a restart. Well, good.. but the only thing is that it triggers off a different exit code, which if you're deploying as a SCCM program within a package doesn't necessarily work the way you'd want - as it always wants an exit code of 0. Dell uses an exit code of 6 if you've asked to do a reboot too, so you would need to trap that (for example a run command line task sequence step allows this.)

I'll do some further testing on Monday as ideally it'd be good to apply the update and reboot and only have this happen first thing in the morning so that it's all nicely done before the PC is used by staff, meaning less hassle all round. The good thing is that we know we have a good wake up time, we can define a service window for the collection(s) concerned and so there's a sensible bit of planning needed. Doing the update manually did of course work and that was good to see that it showed the screens that were being processed post update and how it'd all work properly. In a good way, that means less hassle.

Laptops though are a different breed. We can apply things silently, but it's the process that happens during restart which takes the time, primarily because it has the screen going on and off as well as doing some applying of the actual update, so could easily have people turning things off at the wrong time, which is not what we want. So we may need to be a little more careful how we'd work that - but as we do them when we build a laptop, we can of course get them added in so they work for a rebuild, which is a quick win there at least.

Good to get some markers down especially as I'm off on Monday, and so it was off to Euston later and to the 1800 train to Manchester Piccadilly, picking up some train tickets for The Love In My Heart at the same time from Euston itself. I got on the train and it was relatively nice and quiet, with Kraftwerk's title track "Trans Europa Express" playing (make that tune of the day) as I headed up North on the train. And having a nice Chinese meal for tea together, with the crispy shredded chilli beef and egg fried rice being rather ace, was just a good way to start the weekend and offering lots of hugs to Brian the cat. Awww...

Thursday 11th January - Hunted Part 2

As many of you know, the new series of Hunted started last Thursday. I didn't write about it at the time in my diary, but my gosh, were some of the contestants on that absolutely thick as pig poo or what? The first rule of Hunted should be to avoid any major coach and railway stations - full of CCTV and obvious places to get caught. So one of them decides to try a disguise at Manchester Chorlton Street station and take a coach down to Milton Keynes, despite there being CCTV in the coach station, tracking of the coach itself and a fairly obvious route down motorways.

The woman concerned realised what might happen and so asked the driver to stay on to London instead - again another big mistake. The Hunter HQ is in central London, so where would you avoid? Central London, right? Instead she got off the coach close to Marble Arch where two of the Hunters including the fab Julie had been sent from the HQ, and they were just waiting for her to get off the coach virtually. Slam dunk and the quickest ever (I think) capture in Hunted history. Oops.

This time around tonight a father and son made the classic mistake on Hunted - using a phone to call family. Even worse, the son was telling the Mum where they were and of course that was music to the Hunters' ears. They were very lucky to get away of course, but I suspect that they may make another mistake, as did the couple of ladies who had got to Edinburgh to see one of their family members, and used a burner phone to call a relation and got them to note the number down. The number was found, and then the ladies knew that they had to get out of there sharpish.

Rule 1 of Hunted - do not use any mobile phone. Rule 2? See Rule 1. It's that simple really. If you're going to go completely off grid then you need to do just that. In fact the two ladies have taken a lift in a car well known to the Hunters and so they're going to look at a service station type capture in the next episode I reckon. It goes to show that sometimes you've got to be really careful who you trust and who you get in a car with also. Certainly I think that risks were taken by one of the contestants, withdrawing cash in Ramsbottom and not thinking he was going to be detected. Like duhhhh.

It reminded me of when Nick and Ayo won Series 2, they had different tactics, but Nick getting someone disguised as him while he was 100+ miles away was total genius, and when he got to the extraction point, both The Love and I were going "YESSSS!" with fists in the air celebrating - he deserved it and was a top bloke. I also listened to Kraftwerk's "Computerwelt" (make the title track tune of the day) which perfectly sums up how the future would be with all memory and data being controlled. Much in the way all surveillance is now in fact. I'm still looking forward to more people being hunted down next week though..

Wednesday 10th January - FAC 424

I spent some time after work today watching the Parliamentary debate following the publication of the National Audit Office report on the Department for Transport and Govia Thameslink Railway, and their not so good performance. The NAO report was wholly damning on the DfT, proving that they hadn't consulted with passengers properly on how the "franchise" should be, and in addition then not checking that there would be enough drivers to drive the trains either, a fact still very much the case since the middle of 2014.

In fact, proof of the pudding is in the fact that there are still driver shortages for Thameslink and Great Northern (two of the "brands" as part of GTR) and there hasn't been a strike on either of those, and yet, still not enough drivers, so cancellations regularly happen unless there's a massive amount of overtime carried out. Although yes, train companies to a degree run on overtime, the amount of reliance on that is just too much. If you want proof of that, ask anyone trying to get on a Southern service when the drivers' union ASLEF's overtime ban was in force, meaning drivers worked regular hours and that was it. It showed up to 30% reliance, way too much, particularly from a Health and Safety point of view.

In fact the thing that really narked me off about the debate is that despite good and fair cross-party questioning from the likes of Caroline Lucas, Stephen Lloyd and Andy McDonald, the secretary of state Chris Grayling clearly wanted to just go down the line of "blame the unions", and had also committed a faux pas by claiming he'd commissioned the so-called "independent" Gibb report himself. Certainly passengers have got much more clued up and they are no longer fooled - they've worked it out for themselves and the ballot boxes on the South Coast last election told their own story. Amber Rudd almost lost her seat in Hastings with a massive majority reduction, Stephen Lloyd gained Eastbourne for the Lib Dems (and is doing everything a local MP can do to try and get things sorted), Caroline Lucas strengthened Brighton Pavilion for the Greens (passengers know the work she's been doing too and can see that.)

After I had my tea, I decided to settle down and watch the DVD of "24 Hour Party People", a film I've owned on DVD for ages and one I enjoyed when it came out at the cinema, a biopic if you like of Anthony H Wilson who, as well as being a Granada telly presenter was the man at Factory Records, home of Joy Division, A Certain Ratio, The Durutti Column, New Order and Happy Mondays to name but a few at the time. Steve Coogan is superb as Wilson, really getting lots of mannerisms in, and it's notable now how many faces actually had roles in it: John Simm was Bernard Sumner, Lennie James was Alan Erasmus (he would be in Series 1 of Line of Duty), Shirley Henderson was Lindsay Wilson, and Andy Serkis played producer Martin Hannett.

Add to that appearances from Wilson himself, Christopher Eccleston, Nigel Pivaro (Terry Duckworth from Corrie), Peter Kay, Rob Brydon, Ralf Little as Peter Hook, Mark E Smith from The Fall as a punter outside the Haçienda, Mani from The Stone Roses being a sound engineer at the Apollo, and you get the picture. Naturally of course the music is top notch, especially as there's lots of the Factory back catalogue being played, including the sublime "Jacqueline" by The Durutti Column (make that tune of the day) and New Order's film closer "Here To Stay" which was a top tune too.

I really enjoyed it again, and especially some of the extra scenes on the DVD, including one of the Manchester derby (filmed at Maine Road) where Wilson goes with Rob Gretton, New Order's manager (superbly played by Paddy Considine) into the North Stand and chanting "City aggro, City aggro, hello, hello". Bear in mind Wilson was a staunch Red, and you could tell the initial tension with him and Gretton before realising he'd be likely to get his head kicked in for too much smugness. Add to that Shaun Ryder seeing Gretton after the game in another deleted scene, that too also hilarious. In fact the whole film could have easily been an hour longer with them all in!

Tuesday 9th January - Agüerooooooooooooooooo!

It was another busy day, and I spent a chunk of time monitoring how things were going with deploying the HP Battery testing utility, and how many xml log files I'd get back, and of those if any batteries needed a recall. It was noticeable that the first few didn't show any recall needed, and through the day it seemed that all the ones reporting back appeared to be perfectly okay, which was definitely a plus point. I think we may have actually dodged a potential bullet there, but once we get all the evidence we can make a decision and go from there.

I did also do some further checking and investigation into the ServiceNow instance, and worked out what needed to be done, and documented most of that in two documents: one detailing the levels of access potentially needed, and the second then detailing what permissions might be necessary and how to achieve that. In effect, it's getting all the nice stuff cleaned up and ensuring it all works before we potentially look at bringing these in to some live proposals accordingly.

I got home later than planned as I was assisting one user with their issue in terms of not being able to set their Bitlocker PIN correctly for some reason, and once that was all sorted out, I headed home, albeit via Tulse Hill on the Sutton train, changing platforms for the one to West Norwood, and changing again for West Croydon - it did save me around 15 minutes' wait in all though so wasn't too bad, getting home just after 7pm and then waiting for the Tesco delivery to come around 8pm - and with everything I needed.

I then settled in to get a live feed of the Manchester City v Bristol City Carabao Cup semi final. I have to say Bristol City played well and certainly were not parking the bus either - and although we did have most of the possession they got a penalty late in the first half which they converted for a shock 1-0 lead going in at half time. They deserved that as they went for it and it was good to see. City weren't at their best but suspected that in the second half we'd do a fair bit better.

And that was the case too - with Manchester City going for it going forward. A nice move with Kevin de Bruyne and than Raheem Sterling meant that the ball was slotted back for de Bruyne who smashed it home for 1-1. It was still that for most of the second half, and Sergio Agüero came off the bench. He proved well worth coming on as he rose to a Bernardo Silva cross in stoppage time to take the game 2-1 on night, giving us a slender lead going into the second leg at Ashton Gate. In the meantime tune of the day is the old classic City song "The Boys In Blue" - as the lyrics state, "the Boys in Blue never give in..."

Monday 8th January - Back In The Swing

So back to work and back to a full week of being in - the two days back in last week were just a nice gentle nudge into getting me back into organising myself. In fact I spent a fair bit of time today checking over the development instance in ServiceNow and working out just why that we couldn't see the normal changes to be raised, or for example the templates either - it was due to permissions and also because some of the necessary categories were pretty much invisible, and so meant that they weren't active and present. I think I know the way to work this though so we shall see what can be done..

I also spent some time checking over some recent application updates: namely Adobe Flash Player which looked like it was all going swimmingly, and this morning an update to Adobe Acrobat Reader DC, again all going nicely too. I heard also that Google are planning a Chrome update later this month to mitigate the Spectre and Meltdown flaws somewhat, and there's plenty of other interesting things that are out - and some AMD processors apparently didn't like the update and went all blue screened. Not my AMD machine at home or two AMD based laptops at work though...

It certainly was interesting, and the day went by quickly so it was off home and thankfully on a seat on the 1714 train home (now departs a minute later for some reason.) In any case, it was at least on time (ish) and I stopped off on the way home to get some medicine, and then proceeded to do some online food shopping so it'd arrive tomorrow, and that was sensible to do, especially as it would be cheaper to do that with the four hour slot (you get an hour announced on the day) as it was a mere £1. I also used some Clubcard vouchers and got a tenner off, so can't be bad.

I also spent some time tonight watching the rather excellent Great British Railway Journeys on BBC2, and catching up a couple of last week's episodes on BBC iPlayer. I have to admit that I do like the way Michael Portillo presents this - somehow painting a nicer picture of trains when travelling offpeak. I must admit when he was on the Isle of Wight I was half expecting Vicki Pipe and Geoff Marshall of All The Stations to go "It's a class 38" when describing the former old tube train stock on the Island Line...

Tune of the day incidentally is the title track of Kraftwerk's "Computerwelt" - yes, the German version. In fact the verses which mention Interpol and Deutsche Bank also mention the likes of the BKA, and how they'd have all your data (hence the "haben unsere daten da" line). In fact when they perform this now in English, the second half of that verse is now "CIA, and KGB, control the data memory" a move more closely aligned to the original, although the speech after the third verse also mentions medicine, none of that in the English version incidentally. Still, a very interesting comparison I think.

Sunday 7th January - Keen In Kendals

After a nice breakfast, The Love In My Heart and I decided it'd be nice to have a walk around the city centre in the afternoon, get some nice lunch and also peruse some of the shops. In addition, she had a number of gift cards for House of Fraser for Christmas and she wanted to see what she could treat herself too - especially with the sales on. Naturally of course we always refer to the one on Deansgate by its original and proper name of Kendals - anything else just really isn't on, and will always be Kendals to us.

In fact back in the day that and Lewis's (now mainly a large Primark on three floors, but Lewis's had six floors including the Santa grotto at the top at Christmas) were the sort of stores that people would flock to and make Manchester a destination for shopping - and it's notable now a different sort of vibrancy on Oldham Street compared to when that was one of the main shopping streets way back when. We walked through the Northern Quarter and then through the Arndale Centre, stopping at shops on New Exchange Street and also the Oliver Bonas on St Mary's Gate also before hitting Deansgate itself.

Once inside Kendals it was up to the first two floors' worth of womenswear, where the sales for The Love were in full swing. Now, sometimes sale stuff is disorganised and difficult to find stuff at the right price - thankfully not the case here, all departments had sale stock neatly organised, including a rather nice black Biba jacket which would have been tempting for The Love if it was in her size. She did however see a gorgeous Ted Baker skinny rib jumper with a bow at the top right, which she loved when she saw it at full price (but not cheap!) - and we found one in her size, and fitted spot on, so it was hers, and at 40% off too. She looked gorgeous in it too.

We did also see a few other possible things too, but the nice thing is we can always head back whenever another sale is on, or simply pop back to another store and see what else they have. It's perhaps noticeable that some of the in store sale stock such as this isn't reflected on the web site, so often it's actually better to go in and have a mooch around. We did notice the third floor champagne bar with the idea of being a "husband creche" so he can have a drink whilst the wife goes shopping was empty, most likely if the bar charges too much, or if most people do what we do sometimes and just go in the shops separately (so for example if there's a record shop next a clothes shop, I'll go in one, The Love the other, simple..)

We did head back to the Northern Quarter and had a very nice Sunday lunch in the Abel Heywood - they had the same Red Admiral ale I'd had a week or two back in the Samuel Brooks in Sale too. We did like the menu and the Sunday Roast pork that The Love had was plentiful to say the least - tons of vegetables and meat and gravy there. I had the steak and ale pie, and it was a proper pie (hurrah!) with some nice seasoned chips, peas and gravy. All lovely and just what I needed to try and get the spirits back up and to get over the cold bug somewhat.

The Love and I had a hug and kiss goodbye at Manchester Piccadilly station before I headed off to get the 1735 train back to London Euston, and listened to Kraftwerk's "Trans Europa Express" album - which in its original German form sounded even better. The title track is tune of the day as somehow it just fitted the mood perfectly as I was heading through the countryside in the night, and with the occasional lights of towns and villages as it sped back down South...

Saturday 6th January - The Magic of the Cup

I was up and out early, heading on the train to London Victoria, then the tube to Euston, and was soon boarding the 0900 departure to Manchester Piccadilly. Although I'd only been back home a couple of days, it was the FA Cup third round today and Manchester City were at home to Burnley, so wanted to see how we would do. The Love In My Heart was still a bit icky with her cold bug, so at my suggestion, and having done a pit stop for some painkillers at Sainsburys in Piccadilly, headed on the tram to her place, where Brian the cat was being all cute, and a nice bacon bagel greeted me with a brew. Nice!

In fact it was a relatively chilled out morning as we just caught up and chatted, and ensured for differing reasons we had dosed ourselves up with medicine: me to try and warn the cold off and just keep it to a minor headcold, mainly congested in the nose and ears, and The Love to ward off pains in the back due to the extended flu bug she's had. It was nice though that Brian was being all cute and lovely, and enjoyed a little play out on the decking chasing leaves before heading back in and being all snuggly and warm in his little cat house igloo - he's grown to love that and snuggles in there during the day.

Later on it was off to meet my friend and off to the Etihad, and it was good to be back there again and grab a well earned brew - and catch up a bit too before kick off. The team news looked strong with the likes of Silva, Sané, Sterling and Agüero all playing, so that was good - even if Claudio Bravo was in net. And so the game commenced, and despite City going forward, Burnley had a good strength side out, and a defensive mistake from John Stones let in Ashley Barnes who legged it forward and smashed a shot at speed into the top corner - a very good finish also.

The second half needed to be better from City in terms of clinical finishing, and it was too. A quickly taken free kick from İlkay Gündoğan meant that the ball went to Agüero who slotted home low and hard. The Burnley players and manager were upset, but the referee had clearly blown for the free kick to be taken - so if they were faffing around and wasting time (or not being ten yards behind the ball) it was their problem. 1-1 then became 2-1 a minute later as Agüero and Gündoğan did a 1-2 and the Argentinian legend walked around Nick Pope in the Burnley goal before slotting home, cool as you like.

It didn't end there either as the shackles were now loose. David Silva found Leroy Sané down the left, and despite being fouled, Sané put his shot low into the opposite bottom corner for 3-1, and with some substitutions made, a gorgeous through ball from Kevin de Bruyne found Sané who rounded Pope and played a perfect low ball into the box for Bernardo Silva to score and make it 4-1. A good effort all round really and one which showed that City could bounce back and play well. Be interesting to see who we get in round four actually.

After some nice food for tea, The Love In My Heart and I settled in to watch Beauty and the Beast - the live action version Disney released last year and one The Love's sister had lent her. It was notable the beast was the actor Dan Stevens (who had been in Downton Abbey) and Belle was Emma Watson (Hermoine from Harry Potter!) - with some excellent roles from Kevin Kline, Ewan McGregor and especially Emma Thompson as Mrs Potts, the teapot. She also sings a version of the title track which is tune of the day (and it harked back to when Celine Dion duetted with Peabo Bryson for the 1991 animated release.)

Friday 5th January - Battery and Bargains

I spent a fair bit of time today further evaluating the necessary Windows updates for the flaws I mentioned yesterday, but also and interestingly, something else which one of my colleagues had flagged. HP were doing a recall of some laptop batteries on some models which would be known to overheat and so not work correctly. They had released a utility which you could run which meant you could see at a glance if the battery was okay or if you were in the position of having to arrange for a suitable replacement.

In fact, the utility appeared to be one which you may have been able to run silently, so I worked out that first of all it could be extracted to a folder of your choice (using /t:>path and /c), and then the executable within run with the -s switch for silent. This wrote an XML file in the folder which showed you if the battery was one that needed replacing or not. A bit of work later and I had a SCCM package created, and a task sequence done which copied the files to a folder locally, ran the executable silently, copied the xml file up to a network folder (with the machine name being the folder name with the XML file within) and then cleaned up the local folder afterwards. Worked very nicely when I tried it too.

And so far so good, actually. The two laptops I tried it on which were an affected model appeared to have good batteries that weren't bad. To be brutally honest, I'd be more concerned about the slightly older model (HP ProBook 640 G2) and so once I get one of those in for testing it'll be interesting to see how those fare. I've raised a change at least to get that deployed and tested on that kit and for it to report back, which should mean that we will at least know if we have any that are needed to be sorted and which ones, so that's good.

I also went to IKEA after work primarily as I'd had a gift card for Christmas and so wanted to see in their sale if there was anything which I'd need currently. I was half hoping for one of the sets of stainless steel cutlery to be reduced, but no dice on that. There were lots of potentially nice plates and bowls reduced in store as well as some bedding, but I'm okay on all of that score so didn't really need anything as such. Nice to peruse at leisure though, and treated myself to the hot dog on the way out - well, why not eh?

It's been a different first few days back at work due to it being a shorter week on the whole (two days as opposed to four) and with me heading back up to Manchester tomorrow for the football it'll feel like I wasn't away really. I guess the lure of being in my home city is just a nice one to have, and The Love showed me how cute Brian the cat had been when he was sleeping last night. He's so lovely, and so tune of the day is The Cure's iconic single "The Love Cats" which to be honest, if I was ever getting married, I'd want this played at some point during the evening. Or "Lovesong" because the words are fab.

Thursday 4th January - Back At Work With a Meltdown

Well not quite that sort of meltdown I should add, although the slight bunged up feeling from the last couple of days appears to have caught up with me somewhat. It's actually more of a head cold than anything else, and have made sure I have some good decongestant in and some tissues to get me through the day. Admittedly, I have been also very conscious of the fact that I don't want to be poorly for the weekend and being back in Manchester either for the football, so I'll do what I can do get it all sorted and take it from there I think. It was good to start to be in the rhythm of being in the new year though.

And with very very good reason. The Meltdown I'm talking about is the codename of one of two major flaws (the other being Spectre) in the way that computer processors interact, and how in the race to be faster and faster, some security issues were left behind. If you want an indicator of how serious this is, the CERT advisory makes sombre reading - get a new processor that's not affected by the bug. Yes, seriously. Most people of course can't do that so the next best thing is to mitigate that with a suitable operating system patch - with the caveat that there could be computer slowdown.

I managed to snag the one for Windows 10 and be able to install and test it on a test laptop - and all seemed good there during some robust checking during the day. In fact, the update won't install on some devices unless the anti-virus software you use has a suitable definition update which sets a registry key in Windows - meaning that that software passes all the tests required to not be one exposed by those flaws either. To be fair to Kaspersky (whom we use at work) their definition updates from 28th December had the relevant bits included, meaning that the update was all good to go. Excellent.

If you need to install the updates yourself, and Windows Update doesn't for some reason show it, you should be able to get the update manually and get that installed (provided your anti-virus software passes the checks when the update commences.) The advisory from Microsoft is here (you may need to click and accept the EULA first, then click the link again, but they're all there from Windows 7 upwards, including Windows Server 2016 and SQL Server too. Of course it will mean that you'll then at least have done what you can to mitigate it. Some vendors may also include additional hardware BIOS updates too, so may be worth looking out for that.

Definitely busy getting some of that tested, but that's what you have to do - be aware, be alert and work out a suitable way forward to ensure all is well accordingly. It's notable that the update was brought forward from the usual Patch Tuesday releases - and although AMD thinks it's sitting prettier than Intel in terms of processor, later it was proved that they're still also vulnerable, so always better to be safer than sorrier and to be less smug to be honest. Still, definitely kept me on the toes!

I spent some time tonight listening to more of the Kraftwerk German language releases on CD, and the excellent "Taschenrechner" is tune of the day for that reason. I did also watch one of the Blu-Ray discs I got for Christmas: "Ferrari - Race To Immortality" which showed the traumas that the team and drivers went through in the 1950s with motorsport generally being very dangerous: with drivers being killed in races such as the Mille Miglia (which was later banned) and the German Grand Prix at the original brutal Nordschleife, and also how Mike Hawthorn didn't really enjoy his World Championship win due to the deaths around the sport at the time (and in addition he had seen first hand the horror of the Le Mans tragedy in 1955 having driven in it, later won)

Wednesday 3rd January - Back Home

The Love In My Heart and I had had Brian the cat snuggling up to us both overnight, and this was the final time we'd wake up before I'd leave to go home. It worked out well as The Love could drop me off at Piccadilly before she headed off to work, and indeed that I was going first class and so I could mooch in the lounge, have breakfast and really be all chilled out. It was an emotional kiss and love for Brian the cat before I left, and hugs and kisses for The Love as I left the car and headed into Manchester Piccadilly.

It was upstairs to the first class lounge, which was nice and quiet. It did mean some nice coffee and some panettone too (bonus!) and it was good to sit back and relax in comfy chairs and watch BBC Breakfast for a bit before then heading down to Platform 5 just before 0900 and walking all the way down to Coach J, where my seat was, and picked one close to a luggage rack to place the case on. All good, and the staff were as lovely as ever, so had coffee, orange juice, and a proper full breakfast including some gorgeous sausage, black pudding and rashers of bacon.

It was good to take all that in and watch the world go by, and as The Love said, when you're in first class, it does seem to be a quicker journey for some reason. Actually, we were two minutes early into Euston, so two hours and three minutes overall, impressive stuff. I activated the monthly Oyster at Euston and took the tube to Victoria, and it was good to see that the Tonbridge train was in and that meant it'd be nice and quiet, and even with only four carriages, it proved to be so, so a nice relaxed (for once!) journey on Southern into East Croydon and back to the flat.

I did have a fair bit of post to open, including a Christmas card from my cousin in Bournemouth, my auntie in Gilingham (Dorset, not Kent, incidentally) as well as my ticket for the Masters Snooker in Alexandra Palace in a couple of weeks' time. Some of those could have arrived on the 22nd and 23rd before Christmas, but of course I was in Manchester by that point. Still, good they arrived safe, and it did mean I got a good few cards in the end (plus some I brought home including a cute one from The Love of course). Now it's time to take the tree down.

I also spent some time getting all the new CDs organised and ready to transfer to the iPod as well for future journeys on trains, and so I spent some good time listening to my three German language versions of Kraftwerk albums on CD, and started with Computerwelt. It's so nice to listen to the likes of "Taschenrechner" and "Nummern" properly in original language, but the title track is excellent, so tune of the day it most certainly is. Especially as there's better lyrics as well which are tons better than the English one!

Tuesday 2nd January - Thirty Nine Seconds

I had a bit of a quiet day really: The Love In My Heart was back at work (and to be fair I may have been going home yesterday if only for the fact I'd booked some time off for the Manchester City v Watford game tonight) and so it was mainly myself and Brian the cat for most of the day. He was as good as gold to be honest, and spent most of the day snuggled on the pouffle, on the bed, or surprisingly, on the cushion on top of the shelving units in the hallway. He doesn't always sit there, that was usually the late Jô's territory. But nice to see, and he responded with love and cuddles from me so that was nice - he even snuggled up to me on the bed after The Love had left very early for work!

I headed to the cash point at lunch and took advantage of a McDonalds offer of a quarter pounder with cheese for a mere £1.99, and that kept me going nicely for the afternoon. I did watch the World's Strongest Man 2017 Winner's Story on My5, which was interesting as it showed the truth behind the controversy over Hafthor Bjornsson's "double dip" in the Viking Press. It was made clear to the competitors by the referees that this wasn't allowed, and in fact other competitors such as Brian Shaw weren't happy with the technique used. Perhaps most telling was that one of the judges, legend that is Magnús ver Magnússon, would have actually deducted three other ones that Hafthor got the benefit of the doubt over. If the other three would have been also taken off, Brian Shaw would have been second in that event and tied with Hafthor for 2nd overall.

I had a phone call from my friend's wife saying that my friend, who had been struck down with the same cold and flu over Christmas, had been throwing up in addition and was too poorly to come to the game tonight. This wasn't good news for me. To explain: my friend is a wheelchair user, and has been my friend for over twenty years. Thus he gets a wheelchair space at City with a free carer to come along (normally me with his wife deputising in midweek games I can't come to) - but if he can't make it, I can't use the carer ticket alone - and even if I could, I'd have had to go to his place, pick it up and then drop it back off.

In this instance, I managed to get a ticket online from the official box office, and being a Cityzens member (primarily for discounts on Virgin Trains but also for match ticket discounts for these reasons) I get a fiver off, so got a front row seat in South Stand Level 2 for £25. I couldn't print at home and no option was present to load to the card (the new one assumedly in the post after I renewed) so I went to the ticket office, and the lovely staff there sorted it all for us. That done, back to entrance L2, and barcode scanned, and in to the seat, and a really nice view of the pitch from the corner flag, and especially the goal to the right on the telly.

Getting in on time proved to be a cracking move all round. The pass from David Silva found Leroy Sané, and then his perfect low cross was met by Raheem Sterling, and it was 1-0, in thirty nine seconds. Yes, less than a minute. Some of the press claimed it was thirty eight seconds, but I saw the time on the official scoreboard. Still, either way, a really nice way to start and a response after the 0-0 on Sunday. And a quarter of an hour later, the ball was crossed by Kevin de Bruyne, and it was either a goal from Sergio Agüero, or an own goal from the Watford defender - it was the latter. We cruised to 2-0 at half time.

In the second half, more of the same with City in cruise control, and from a shot from de Bruyne the ball was saved by Gomes and squirmed out to Agüero to poke the ball home from close range for 3-0. Even a consolation goal for Watford was just that - and it was in the end a good win, and with Oasis in the ear as I left the ground and returned back to The Love's place, a well earned win and still fifteen points clear at the top. Nicely done, and so Supra's ace version of "Blue Moon" is tune of the day.

Monday 1st January – The Start of 2018

With the midnight chimes sounded, kisses and rose cava poured and clinked, The Love In My Heart and I settled down for some more Chic, and as we both suspected, saving some of the classics till last. They did do a version of Bowie's “Let's Dance” which was okay (Nile Rodgers did have a hand in it) but vocally the drummer shouldn't have sung it. After seeing Simon Le Bon do it justice in the Celebrating Bowie gig last year, they should have got him on stage if possible.

Still, of course later the likes of “Le Freak” with everyone blasting out the “Ahhhhhh.. freak out!” bit at the chorus starts was a pretty essential listen, as was “Good Times” to close the show, nice stuff all round. I have to admit when we did flick over to Jools Holland the line up wasn't as good as previous years, although Beth Ditto doing the classic “Young Hearts Run Free” was a real good effort, and Beth really dig give the vocals some soul and passion – good for her, and tune of the day for that reason.

We headed off to bed around 1.20am and Brian the cat was as ever snuggled up and being all cute, and slept surprisingly well actually. Waking up to a clear morning with no snow or rain was rather nice, and Brian was having a good rest on his favourite pouffle and playing out as well, so he was full of happiness. In fact this year, due to the sad passing away of Jô last year, the cat calendar we have is all of Brian, and January's pic is of him with the duck doorstop in the bedroom. Awww..

The Love was still poorly so I headed out to get more medicine and some Sinutab for the sinuses, which really did help. It didn't get rid of all the cold obviously, but the pain in the sinuses was eased and that at least was useful for The Love, so she was able to at least get up and be around the flat with Brian the cat having stayed by her side in bed for most of the day, and that was really good of him – it was almost as if he sensed that something was up and was able to act accordingly.

Later on was the grand final of World's Strongest Man, and a nice touch to give the event a longer time on telly (an hour and a half including adverts instead of an hour on Channel 5.) The good thing was that allowed each event to have more coverage on including the squat lift, which was mental. 13 lifts in a minute was superb, but then for that to be topped and to get 15 was mightily impressive, with the same number having been achieved in the Viking Press as well. It was definitely a real case of the standard being increased a lot.

The deadlift with it being max weight rather than reps suited Eddie Hall down to the ground. In fact, it went all the way to 472.5kg, which Hall cleared and Hafthor Bjornsson failed at. This gave Hall a four point lead going in to the Atlas Stones, and after the remainder had gone with only two completing it, he knew that clearing all five would guarantee the title (and in fact clearing four the fastest would also do it). In the end he did four, composed himself, then cleared the final one with a couple of seconds to go to win the title.

I was mightily pleased for Eddie Hall – his years of dedication culminating in a title well deserved, winning three of the six events (squat lift, Viking Press and deadlift) and a few facts: Hall's win was the first British win since Gary Taylor in 1993 (yes that long), he's only the fourth British winner after Geoff Capes, Jamie Reeves and Taylor, and Eddie also holds the deadlift world record. In fact he's the only man ever to deadlift the magic 500kg, which was achieved in Leeds last year. It'll be interesting to see if he does retire as he said he would, or if he wants to be the best Briton ever and overtake Capes. In any case, well done!!