Dear Diary... May 2003

Wednesday 28th May - I can (hopefully) get broadband at last!

Well, happy the bunny I am today. After a week or so of wrangling a bit with BT, I can now get broadband on my phone. Yaay! So I did the signup form with my current ISP (as their broadband charges are pretty cheap - and they let you pay by Switch) and hopefully activation will be soon. Part of the reason I couldn't get it (supposedly) was that the length of cabling from the exchange to my house was something like 7.5km (which, considering I live about 3.5km from the exchange seemed a little weird). I rang up BT and basically said "I wish to disconnect my line, unless that is you can do something for me". Seems to have done the job. On Monday I got a call from BT asking me to disconnect all the equipment from the phone line so it could be tested. I did this, and their tests still got the same results, so they said "we'll look at it at the exchange tomorrow". Something must have happened when they looked at the exchange and realised where the cabling had gone awry, as now I'm within the 5.5km cabling range to get broadband now, according to their website. What I think happened (and this is only a theory) is that when I moved house last year, I was still on the same exchange and kept the same number. However, they could have gone all the way to the green box near my old house, gone back to the exchange, and then back out to my house. I measured this distance and guess what? It was around 7km in total, and obviously cabling's going to be a little longer as it's underground, you have to go via the telegraph poles and so on.

Luckily, I had an ally in this when I rang. My uncle doesn't live too far from me, and his number check says he can get broadband - and from the same exchange! Aha... this was valuable information that I passed on to BT as it showed that theoretically his cabling was further than mine, so if he could get it, so could I. Something worth checking yourself if your number comes up with the fact it can't get broadband yet and you have any friends or relatives who live close by to you. Either way, I've signed up the form I need to, and I just have to go out and find a good ADSL modem and microfilter. The prices have dropped all the time, so much so that PC World are doing a USB one with two microfilters for a mere fourty quid (there has to be a catch though knowing PC World!) Either that or I buy a PCI one with the filter from a local PC place for a little bit cheaper, which isn't too bad. I'm going to wait till I get an "activation date" though (the date my broadband connection goes live) as I know for sure then I will be taking it on. So what does this mean for you, dear reader? Well, apparently I'll be getting double the webspace I have now so I can put more content on the site (which is a bonus) as well as being able to work on it and update whenever I can - no need to wait for cheap rate calls to go online and upload it. See how it goes, I think.

Tonight is the Champions League final - might just have to watch that on TV. I fancy AC Milan to win, partly because Juventus are without Pavel Nedved (who's really played so well for them) through suspension, and key players like that make all the difference. Either way, it's quite funny how UEFA have asked Man Utd to turn off their neon sign and close the club shop and how they can't have any reference to the club in the stadium. That seems a bit daft to me, everyone knows who plays there and what about the Italians who might just want souvenirs? Seems that the local council have asked the traders not to go there tonight either - bureaucracy gone bloody mad, I tell you. Even as a City fan I find this a bit off - especially if we host the UEFA Cup final in 2005 that we've made an approach to bid for hosting it! See how it goes tonight.

One final thing for today - if you haven't got it yet, go and order yourself Office Space from - it's Region 1 only (so you need a multiregion player if you're in Europe) but if you've ever worked in an office environment that has crap cubicle environments, rubbish bosses who patronise you, equipment that doesn't work and leads to frustration , or all of the above, then this is the film for you. Directed my Mike Judge of Beavis and Butthead fame, it's based on an animated short cartoon called Milton, but it is hilarious. There are moments in the film we can all relate to and say "I've done that!" but I'm not going to spoil the plot for you. Just order it, chuck it in your DVD player, and be entertained. Now, where the hell did I put those TPS reports? ;)

Sunday 25th May - Another week, another wedding (but thankfully not mine)

A mad week really, with lots of stuff to do. Not to mention I had to set up a PC with projector screens at one of the galleries at work for the sum total of three people to watch this webcast from a show in Liverpool. Bah. A lot of time wasted just so that not many people could participate in this kind of conference thing and add to the conference with a bit of web chat. It would have been easier for them all to sit round a PC in the office I work in, and watch it instead. Ah well, supply and demand never go together, do they?

Went shopping yesterday, and finally managed to locate a suitcase for when I go on me hols. I wanted a hard-sided case though so it'll last me for years, and eventually located one in Stockport, in black too, that did the business. I was also attempting to find a pair of trainers that would fit me and look good, but nowhere either had the right style, price, size, or, even when I found a pair I did like, the right fit. Aaargh. It's all a nightmare especially when you know what you want but you can't get it. What I did notice however while I was in Argos (to see if they had any cases in) was that they've knocked off 20% off all Freeview TV adapter boxes this weekend. If you haven't yet got Freeview in the UK, now is the time to go out and get yourself a box - particularly with all the nice interactive stuff the BBC are bringing out at the moment. If you wanted to last night, you could have had Interactive Eurovision (not that that's been my thing, mind you, but I know some of you like that).

Before I headed off to a wedding reception last night, England thankfully did the business and whupped Zimbabwe in the cricket. It was great to see some of the new blood in the team doing well and scoring runs as well as get wickets, and certainly an innings victory is a bit of a panning. Let's hope they can keep it up.

Anyway, the reception I went to last night: it was an okay reception, and the bride and groom chose Savage Garden's "Truly Madly Deeply" as the song to smooch to. Not as bad as Ronan Keating, but still not that great either. Mind you, the downer was the buffet at the reception, or rather the lack of choice. There was enough there for me such as potato wedges and lamb balti (rather nice it was too) but it didn't have many things you could pick from, and if you were vegetarian, the choice was severely lacking to say the least. I think also the staff there need a lesson in customer service: about 30 mins after putting the food out, they were taking it away again! What if someone wanted a bit of seconds later on to munch on? What if someone turned up a little late and asked for something to eat? The mind boggled. Still, the main thing was that the bride (a friend of my mother's) and the groom was happy. As they are both Man City fans they had Blue Moon playing at the wedding (not least thanks to me setting that up for them) - and little things like that make a difference.

Anyway, at least it's Spring Bank Holiday tomorrow so I get a day off work, so it's off to watch the play-off finals down the pub methinks..

Sunday 18th May - Thunder and lightning, not so very frightening

Well, what a horrible day weather wise. I just managed to get out and get some food shopping done before a torrential lightning and thunderstorm hit Manchester for a few hours. Phew! I didn't fancy being caught out in that, let me tell you. Also a good job I decided not to do any work on the back yard of the house today either..

Anyway, I was at a wedding yesterday that a friend of mine asked me along to (it was one of their relations') and a couple of things intrigued me: first off, at the reception, the usual tradition is that the bride, groom and invited guests have a meal together, often called the wedding breakfast. Normally as part of that tradition everyone sits down at a pre-arranged spot (normally with a table card indicating who sits where). None of that here, as it was a buffet meal - and no seating arrangements, so everyone pretty much sat where they liked, and also re-arranged the tables a bit. Pretty odd, and because the photographer spent too long faffing around taking photographs at the reception, everyone waited ages until they could go to the buffet (which was, at least, very nice). The speeches were pretty good on the whole but a bad microphone spoiled it for them, which was a shame, especially with the best man's speech which was very nice (thankfully I was within earshot).

The other thng that always intrigues me (and it's probably an English thing, so let me explain): the opening song the bride and groom have a slow smooch to on the dancefloor. Normally, the DJ plays it, gets the bride and groom on, and they have their nice moment. After that the DJ plays all sorts of tunes and everyone has a good time bopping around. For this wedding, the bride and groom picked Ronan Keating's "When You Say Nothing At All". Ugh! Crap tune alert! I know it's slushy and romantic, but there's much better stuff than that! My cousin Alison has the right idea for her choice of song when she gets wed next month: her and her husband to be John have selected a song that means something to them and isn't overly soppy. I won't reveal all until I've actually been to the wedding, but it's a quality tune. Now, even though I won't be getting married for the foreseeable future (if ever, to be honest!) I'd probably pick something quite different, one of the following: "Lovesong" by The Cure, "Into My Arms" by Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds, "Otis" by The Durutti Column, and "Nothing Less Than Brilliant" by Sandie Shaw. Eclectic, eh?

I missed the FA Cup final due to being at this wedding, but saw the highlights later on. It seemed to be a good game, even though I tipped Southampton to sneak it, with Arsenal getting a hard-earned 1-0 win and being the first team since Tottenham in 1982 to retain the trophy (ie: win it twice in successive years), so I suppose it's soemthing their North London rivals cannot brag about anymore. The F1 today I did see though, and that was definitely a bit of a good race for a change in Austria. Twice the start was aborted, and then it started raining for a while early on which meant tiptoeing around the circuit. Later on, it developed to be a fascinating scrap, especially after Schumacher's fuel hose failed to work properly and the car partly set alight for a second. Thankfully it was the only nozzle of the refueller that was leaking, so after a bit of fire extinguishing, he recovered and won! I felt sorry for Montoya though as his engine let him down or he might have won, and well done Jenson Button on getting 4th place in the BAR. It was a good drive, even though we didn't see much of him. Classic Murray Walker-esque commentary moments came from the team though:

James Allen: Schumacher's coming in for his stop.. now over to Ted Kravitz in the pits.. Ted?
Ted Kravitz: Well, the fuel is going in, no problems like Barichello, Schumacher has all the luck doesn't he?
(two seconds later, the fuel hose fails as the car is temporarily on fire..)

James Allen: And that's Barrichello taking Raikkonen, whilst Montoya blew his engine..
Martin Brundle: Actually, that's Schumacher in the lead, not Barichello.

Now why can't they all be like that? Roll on Monaco in two weeks..

Thursday 15th May - It's time for Haiku

Well, it's been a bit of an up and down week, really. Up in that I've managed to get rid of lots of things I needed to do at work, such as set up some PCs ready for use in an exhibition next week, and also to install more replacment hard disks for those dodgy as hell Fushitsus. I guess though in a way I'd much rather be busy than quiet, I guess.

I had a bit of a clearout around the house this week and noticed the sheer amount of unread copies of PC Zone I seem to have these days. I must unsubscribe immediately. To be honest, I'm sick of PC game developers insisting all the time you need the fastest processor and the latest kit to run their games properly, which a lot of people can't afford. You only have to look at the success of the Playstation to prove it - if you're writing for a specific set of hardware, you have to use that and try and push that to its limits. No ifs or buts, that's all you have. It was even the same back in the days of 8-bit, there'd be a new game to push the Spectrum or Commodore 64 to its limits and everyone would be like "wow". And that's exactly what's gone in the PC industry - the wow factor. Don't get me wrong, the industry has moved on in some good ways, but there's that old adage of good old playability missing in a lot of games these days, which means I can't be meithered. I'd much rather also there be more original games out there. Anyone can write a licence conversion and it'll sell. I never forgave EA Sports for getting Man City's squad numbers wrong in FIFA 2001 (I mean, Shaun Goater number 26? Since when, exactly?). And everything seems to be either first person or a race game that requires your super duper GeForce FX card to be pushed hard. Surely the increase of PC specs mean that the programmers are just getting lazy and not optimising their code for lower spec kit? It certainly seems that way. Sadly, the PC gaming magazines also don't reflect the fact we can't all upgrade (let's face it, it's not just one piece if you're upgrading - it's normally processor, motherboard and possibly memory at an absolute minimum, and maybe a case too. And that isn't cheap!)

What else? Ah yes, I sent some of my poems off to the A6 Poets website. They were particularly looking for haikus, which are short Japanese poems with three lines and seventeen syllables (five syllables on lines one and three, seven on line two). I managed quite a few so hopefully as they haven't published any haikus on there yet they might take a look at mine and put them up. It was quite a challenge but something I enjoyed for sure - in fact one poem was made of four verses of haiku. Intriguing, eh? Well, as an example of how it works, here's a quick one I just made up this second:

SHVL 777

Be like Deep Purple
Go Into The Fire today
Deep Purple In Rock!

There you go. It's simple to attempt but difficult to master getting the feeling across with so few words to get the message across. I am actually listening to said album at the moment (albeit the excellent remastered CD, I have the vinyl original too though!) and it just goes to show what a genre-defining album it really was back then. Distortion was completely intentional, electric guitars cranked up, VU meters in the red. Marvellous. And they even put the single Black Night (not on the original album!) on the CD as an extra. Yeah. Oh, and if you wondered about the poem's title, SHVL 777 is the catalogue number of the album when it came out on EMI's seminal Harvest label.

Sunday 11th May - Sad day

Why did I say City would lose yesterday? I must have given them the kiss of death as we went out with a whimper today at Maine Road. I would have wished to be there along with the 35,000 or so others to see the final ever game there, but alas, I wasn't paying a mass extortionate price for the process (and on reflection that was probably a good thing to be honest). We lost 1-0, with Michael Svensson scoring Southampton's winner. In fact we have to go back to Easter Monday to find the last City scorer at the old ground, that was Marc-Vivien Foé's goal against Sunderland. I guess I can say I was there to see City's last ever win, but how I wished so much that it wasn't.

Moving grounds is a sign of progress, but it's like losing an old friend and it's a sad day on reflection. A really sad day. I can vaguely remember being there one game when I was very small, and it was so foggy it was really hard to see anything let alone the ball. I can remember going with my primary school when I was ten and seeing a very young Paul Simpson making his debut as City won 3-2 against Coventry. May the next year I saw us lose 1-0 to Luton on the last day and get relegated, which still even to this day sticks in the throat horrible. I can remember being with my grandad a lot in the North Stand as he was a steward there and would get us in sometimes with him, and that was nice. Me and my brother would go and see us beat Charlton 5-1 back in '85 and come back up to the top flight, and it's a tale of topsy-turvy that has been City for as long as I know. The happiest years were definitely 1989-93 when I was a season ticket holder. I saw us crush The Scum 5-1, possibly the best ever game I saw at the ground. No one expected us to do it, but we were brilliant that day and just to be there in the Kippax singing "bye bye bye bye" to the fans in the Platt Lane end was just wonderful. I saw us win at Maine Road in 1991 to see us top of the league after three games, the last time we'd still be top. I'd seen us finish top five in the top division in 1991-92, and then drop to ninth in 1993. Peter Reid was unceremoniously sacked and it was downhill from there till 1998 (apart from the abiding memory of standing on the Kippax for the last ever time against Chelsea) when we went down to Division Two (the old Division 3), but then things turned around and so did many City fans' feelings for the club, from loyal to even more bloody loyal. And more so over the last few years - tickets have been gold dust, I kid you not. During the 2001-02 season I did more games home and away since 1992-93 when I was a season ticket holder. (I didn't renew it as my girlfriend at the time wanted me to see more of her, and a season ticket meant every other Saturday being at Maine Road. Looking back, it was one of the most stupid things I ever did, and the urge to get one at the new stadium (despite the hefty £350 price tag!) is very much there.) During 01-02, City played with flair and passion as we headed back to the Premiership, scoring 108 goals in 46 league games, pretty awesome. I looked back at those last home performances, remembering the last home game I went to and how my grandad (born the day before Maine Road opened) almost outlived the ground, but also the games we won with ten men that stuck out in my mind. So many memories, so many players, and I felt so sad for Shaun Goater. City through and through and captain for the day, there was nothing he could do to prevent defeat, and he was taken off by Kevin Keegan - the git. Surely he should have realised The Goat should have been on the whole game? Aaaargh.

So, sad day today to counteract the happy day yesterday. But let's hope I can have more memories of the new stadium that are happy. There were many last year as I went to see the Commonwealth Games there and the athletics was awesome: six gold medals for England on the final night that I felt so priveleged to see and be there for, as well as the first night and seeing England's first gold medal of the games - and also being there for the only world record to be set at the stadium. Now it's for City to move in in August and write a new chapter in their history, and for all us fans it's exciting but poignant times.

Goodbye Maine Road, M14 7WN, I'm going to miss you.

Saturday 10th May - Happy day

Well, quite. I now am definitely in the thirtysomething bracket as I turn thirty one, but all in all, I had a really nice birthday for sure. I had a phone call at 8am from one of my friends from America (cheers! :) and then lots of the family came around at 10am to wish me happiness and shower me with some presents, which was all very nice, mainly clothes and stuff like that but always appreciated for sure.

I went to Lyme Park for the day (it's between the villages of High Lane and Disley on the road from Stockport and Buxton, in case you wondered) and just enjoyed the walking in the fresh air and lots of hills in there. Only the bus driver on the 361 bus didn't realise there was a bus stop at the park gates and so proceeded for another 1k until the next stop. Still, I had that extra to walk back, then from the gates it's about 2k to the main car parks etc where the halls are. Going beyond that, you go up one hill, and then another one, and the views of the surrounding areas are simply amazing, you can see for miles around without a care in the world - and it's utterly peaceful to say the least. I just sat there for a few minutes, collected my thoughts, and went down another path leading to the small lake and walked around that, and then across and up the steps to Lyme Hall. They have a little restaurant within called the Ale Cellar, and the food is very good and not badly priced either, well worth a look in if you are there. Try the venison - it's supposed to be really nice. Must do that next time. Then, paid to go around the beautifully picturesque gardens of the hall taking in all the sights and another small lake which had ducks swimming around and walking on the edge of the lake without a care in the world, and after about an hour of trying to dodge the rain, I headed down to the main area where a courtesy bus on request takes you back to the main gates. As it was hammering down I didn't fancy another 2k walk back, but even so I must have done around 7-8k at least, which did me the world of good.

Went out with some friends Saturday night and went to the Bell House in Parrs Wood, Didsbury. The main attraction was that the main courses were two for one, so you bought one, got the cheaper one free. This worked out very well at the end of the day with four of us, and so we had dessert as well - this Crunchie chocolate sundae I had wasn't too bad, although it needed more pieces of Crunchie to really make it worthwhile. Still, the rather nice 8oz rump steak I'd had certainly did the business and it was cooked to medium rare perfection for me (and it's quite hard to do as medium rare should still be a little pink on the inside, right?)

So, what did I end up getting? Well CD and DVD wise I'd spent money people got me, as well as presents I got, so I ended up with Jamie and the Magic Torch Series 2, Pi, Muppets Take Manhattan and Training Day on DVD, and on CD there was Black Rebel Motorcycle Club's eponymous album, Up To Our Hips by The Charlatans, Tropical Brainstorm by Kirsty MacColl and By The Way from Red Hot Chilli Peppers. Not bad at all and a nice varied selection to listen to and watch over the next few weeks for sure. Listening to BRMC's album again only proves how good it actually is - well worth checking out if you haven't done so already. I feel really happy though, as I'm damn sure City well let me down tomorrow and lose their final game at Maine Road...

Sunday 4th May - Isn't it ironic, don't you think?

It's like we get no penalties, the whole season long
We have a go at the refereees, it all seems to wrong
Then at Anfield, one Saturday in May
We get one at the Kop End, too little too late
Isn't it ironic, don't you think?

Not that us City fans were complaining as we went on to beat Liverpool 2-1 with a last minute of injury time winner from Nicolas Anelka. Even more irony: Liverpool had him on loan last season and didn't sign him after the loan period because the manager, Gérard Houllier, didn't think he was good enough. Payback time or what? Even better was ITV's Jon Champion interviewing Gérard Houllier afterwards and asking him if he regretted selling Anelka. Watch him squirm, classic. Ultimate irony: we could have been challenging Blackburn for 7th place in the League if we had beaten West Ham last weekend. But no matter: our first win at Anfield since 1981 and one well worth savouring.

Unfortunately, I couldn't get a ticket for that one, so I went down to the local Megabowl to knock over some pins - even better was that the local Megabowl near me has Sky Sports News on - so I could keep track of the scores, hehe. I didn't care one attempt I'd knocked seven down as Anelka had equalised at the same time. Actually, it's quite a surprise to see how popular bowling is - especially for the families. There was one family near me and all six of them were playing. They had the bumpers up for the kids of course to make it easier for them but they were all having great fun regardless. This is where Megabowl make their dosh - optionally families can pay £19-99 an hour for bowling for up to six, and by my reckoning one game would take 40-45 minutes if all six play. Now, if families paid individually it'd be £3-95 per game for adults, £2-95 for kids, and that's not including shoe hire. So, it does work out pretty good really. Mind you, £3-95 per game is a little too expensive to do it that often. I'll have to take a day off work when it's not kiddies' holidays and go for the unlimited bowling at £6-99. Only snag: you can only play three games maximum at once, and so that's not really unlimited is it? I researched further and found that after three games you could go again on the same lane if no one is waiting. So in other words, it's a crafty money-making ploy by allowing others to go on a lane and they end up paying £6-99 for three games. Still not too bad if you pick a quiet day and there's lots of lanes free, as you could play from 1pm-6pm or so, which would be nifty. Might have to try that out if my arms can take it.

As for the snooker - wow, what a comeback by Ken Doherty in the semi-finals! He was 15-9 down to Paul Hunter but stormed back in the last session to win 17-16, which was unbelievable. But he did it, and mentally he must be tired out. Now he has to play Mark Williams in the final - and seeing as he's now the current world number one, that will not be easy at all. I don't like Williams that much though: he's a bit boring. At least Doherty has some personality so really I should go for him. Massive problem: Doherty's a Man U fan. Aaargh. If only Stephen Lee had beaten Williams...

It's a Bank Holiday tomorrow and that means one of two things: crap weather (shame, as I was planning a day out somewhere) and even more bobbins television. If Easter Monday is anything to go by it should be that. At least the snooker final is on so that'll keep me occupied, if nothing else. I was thinking about going to Southport for the day - not been there for absolutely ages and I used to like the fact you could walk down the beach at any time of day knowing that the tide would never come in. Seriously, it's miles away from the seafront which means it's handy just to take a nice stroll. Also, I have this insatiable urge to play proper pinball again. Nowhere local to me has a good pinball machine whatsoever, and I definitely need to get playing again. Seafronts mean arcades, and hopefully apart from the ten squillion slot machines (bah!) it means pinball. We used to have an arcade in Piccadilly that used to have great pinball machines like Star Trek: The Next Generation (even being a non-Trekkie, I loved it, probably cos TNG is about the only Trek I'll watch) and Theatre of Magic (you must concentrate - aaaaaargh as the ball gets lost). They had so much stuff you could do, so many subgames, and they were compulsively good pinball experiences. No wonder officionados like them so much. Me too. Let's hope if the weather holds and I go there tomorrow I can find one. Actually, if anyone knows any arcade that currently has either machine, please contact me and let me know! I just have this itch...

Thursday 1st May - I'm all snooker loopy

The lack of diary entries has to be brought to one reason alone - the World Snooker Championships. For two weeks during late April/early May, hardly anything else gets a look in on the TV. I keep an eye on the scores at work, and when I get home, I'm there watching it for ages. It's the semi-finals now and the Crucible goes to a single table (rather than have two with a divider half way) - it really comes into its own at this point with the small ampitheatre setting really making the atmosphere utterly unique. And considering that some of the games have already been final-frame nailbiters, lt's hope for more of the same. Last night, the last quarter final ended with Paul Hunter narrowly edging out defending champion Peter Ebdon 13-12, and it was very very close to call indeed, as it should be at this level. Of course if you go to any snooker club right now expect it to be absolutely hammered as lots of Steve Davis wannabes go and do their thing on the green baize, understandable really.

And typical Manchester City - they let me down! With tickets for the final ever game at Maine Road going like gold dust (or for a massive £870 on ebay - true!) I've entered so many phone in competitions to try and win tickets for the game. I'm sure those competition organisers have made a right tidy packet on the side, especially as the phone number is a massive 60p per minute. Ouch. Every second literally does count. But alas, it's not to be, so my last ever visit to Maine Road was on Sunday to see City against West Ham. Unfortunately, West Ham needed the points more than we did and so snatched a 1-0 win and could yet even see them stay up in the Premiership (oh for Leeds to be relegated - that would be so cool) - what I couldn't work out though, was West Ham's continued chant to Twist and Shout, one blokey was there yelling out "Shake it up baby now" to which the others would yell "Shake it up baby" and so on. What connection that this has got with West Ham is beyond me, but they made themselves heard and were a credit. City were utterly pants though, and the amount of times I had to shout to Anelka to basically get off his backside defied belief. Why does he amble around lazily, and why does Kevin Keegan stick to Anelka and Fowler when a) it's not working because Fowler still isn't fit, and b) Shaun Goater is chomping at the bit to play?

Talking of Shaun Goater for a second, I'm absoultely gutted that he is leaving City at the end of the season. I don't think people understand just why we City fans utterly adore The Goat so much. But we do. And with a lot of pride and passion that he gives back to us in droves. I can't blame Shaun at all for wanting to go and get first team football, he deserves to have another good couple of seasons somewhere. I'm just upset more because when Fowler came, he clearly was NOT fit to play, and needed lots of training to get him up to speed. During that time, it would have been more than fine to play The Goat and let him have a good run of games. The ultimate irony was when he had a chance, he scored. And not just any goals either - vital ones. Like the equaliser at home to Blackburn which saw us come back from 2-0 down with 10 men. Like the two against The Scum which meant we beat them 3-1 and our last ever Maine Road derby was a win. LIke the nine seconds he needed at Old Trafford to equalise against The Scum (which will for some time be the fastest ever goal in the Premiership by a substitute - way to go!) And so on. The fact the Scum fans where I work say to me "Don't mention Goater to us!" says it all. Admired by us and loathed by them. And that's how it should be. When he does say his emotional farewell on 11th May, all 30-odd thousand City fans as one will be sure to chant "Feed The Goat and he will score!" for the final time. Wouldn't it be beautifully poetic if at the last ever Maine Road game, The Goat scores the winner? That would just be simply wonderful.

At work too, it's been hellishly busy at the moment, and Fushitsu are all to blame (ahem, I meant Fujitsu, but you'll see why I gave them their pet name shortly). You see, lots of hard disks in staff and student PCs are dying a slow death - so slow that not even the system BIOS recognises there's a hard disk connected. What happened was this: a couple of years ago, Fujitsu manufactured lots of hard drives (mainly 20GB MPG3204ATs) and shipped them OEM to big customers like HP, Dell and so on. However, there was a manufacturing fault which meant that the glue which glued on the logic chips to the base of the drive would melt, causing overheating and in some cases terminal damage to the hard drive's firmware, rendering them unusable. The data can still be recovered using data recovery specialists (indeed, we've had to do this once) but it's not cheap nor easy to do, but for the most part it's just a case of replacing them with nice good working ones that we now have in stock. I've had to do six this week, and I'm getting kind of used to looking at the screens of Norton Ghost when ghosting a selected image to the new hard drive. (thank heavens for Ghost, it saves us soooo much time it's untrue) It's just that it's more frustrating when knowing that if Fujitsu had manufactured the drives properly in the first place and not tried to cut corners, we wouldn't have had the problem in the first place. Aaaaargh.

At least it's a Bank Holiday on Monday so there's a nice long weekend to recover - and I think that's what I'll do. The snooker final is on as well (concludes Monday) so that gives me a nice incentive to stay in at night and watch the final frames. Might go out during the day though - probably depends on the weather, but if it's nice I can see myself getting off down to the nearest seaside resort and making a nice day of it. And why not?

As for the writing side, well I did four poems for the BBC Voices project, but as yet they haven't got in touch with me about recording them - an absolute shame. I might end up doing them myself as exclusives for my site in the end - could well be a good idea because I can express the way they were meant to be heard. Let me ponder on that. There'll be some new poems on the Poems Page as you read this so go on and read them. The book? Well, stalled at the moment. There's a couple of spare-time related things I need to finish off first, and then back into the swing of things big time. I have some catching up to do!