Dear Diary... October 2018

Wednesday 31st October - Halloween

It felt like a very long day today, primarily due to various transport issues that were hitting a number of people this morning. So first of all I got to Farringdon okay, but the tube station platforms seemed unusually quiet, especially for the time of morning. It transpired that there was a signal failure at Kings Cross and this meant that a number of lines weren't running correctly, including the ones I wanted to get. In fact, the station staff were effectively evacuating people out of the tube platforms so that they could close that side of the station till further notice. Oh joy.

So, and knowing the area well because that was my previous base, I knew it was a relatively short walk over to Chancery Lane tube to get the Central Line and that would be a sensible move. However, I also knew that the Central Line would be pretty mad busy all round, and so it proved. It was packed out and when I changed trains at Oxford Circus that too was another sign of being completely chocker, following the long connecting corridor to the Bakerloo line to get the tube to Baker Street. Interestingly, it was really packed with people going into the Jubilee and Metropolitan Lines out of central London too.

That did die down later and the tube went back to normal but that set me off for the day and that really did mean that the day just seemed to be on a go slow for most of the time I was in work, and in fact I was troubleshooting a couple of things which meant that I was there till a bit later on. I did take the bus to Victoria for a change and then the train from there home, but that was absolutely rammed as Southern only put four coaches on, and considering that the next train out of there had been cancelled, you'd think that everyone would be piling on this one, and they were..

Still, I did manage to have a fairly quiet Halloween all told. One of our work colleagues had brought in some nice cakes that looked all spooky but were rather good, and one of our executive PAs, who is absolutely lovely, even had a neck accesory with a spider design on, very befitting of the time and era that is for sure. I think too that for me that it's good that despite everything being a tad busy today that it was a case of pulling together and being able to sort out the issues as we needed to do. Tune of the day is in fact the classic John Carpenter soundtrack to the original Halloween film - a right classic that.

Of course being home later than planned did impact on a couple of things I wanted to do, so I instead just took things relatively easy and watched some telly - and notably too spotted that some of the football tonight was decent, especially Chelsea v Derby and the return of Frank Lampard there as Derby manager (and of course former Chelsea legend.) The one season he had with us here at Man City was pretty good, and he endeared himself to the fans well in my view.

Tuesday 30th October - Celebrity Hunted

So tonight I settled in for the evening. I had had a good chat with The Love In My Heart and had even heard Brian the cat have a contented purr as he was lay on his favourite spot, all content and happy. I do miss him even though he does have the tendency to give me a look of "oh, you're here which means I don't get to sleep on the pillow!" as well as generally be a little bit more protective of his Mummy. However I've noted that in the right mood, a good tummy tickle always gets him onside, the big softie that he is really.

And on then with Celebrity Hunted. After Dom Joly was caught last week, and with Chris and Kem in a car park not far from Handforth Dean, you had to wonder how they'd manage to get out, and that was by using an alternative car park exit. They did however make the classic mistake of heading to a spa resort thinking that with them being with a friend's car, they weren't going to get tracked. They of course forgot the telematics on the car itself and indeed the fact that most of their friends were being watched anyway, and so because of that were going to be kept a very close eye on.

Naturally of course Vicky Pattison, being on her own as Dom had been captured, had decided to go and seek her boyfriend, breaking another golden rule of Hunted (don't contact friends and family) and then getting him to sort her out with a nice spa place to stay. Only problem was that the Hunters had been to the boyfriend's friend's place and had tracked down the car that they were in and the missing car was there at the spa, so put two and two together, and pretty easy capture all round really.

In fact it looked like Louis Smith was taking too many risks by contacting his friends in Peterborough - inevitably of course that did mean that it was the Hunters on the case and AJ Pritchard did the sensible thing and split up, to get himself out of a potentially tricky situation. For me at least it does look like it's going to be a case of seeing how the rest will survive for the next two episodes, but the fact that using a spa for three of them for an option almost brings forward a new rule for Hunted: Don't go to a spa. End of.

With that in mind, the theme tune to the series of Hunted, as haunting and as claustrophobic as it is, is definitely tune of the day. For me it's definitely a case of feeling that tension as you would be on the run, escaping where possible to the open air with no cameras around, trusting no one and generally making sure that you would be off the grid as much as you could, such as Nick did when he won Series 2 by following canals and rivers and keeping well away, a sensible move that.

Monday 29th October - Back To It

So it was back to the office and back to work, and undertaking some more testing in terms of the Windows 10 build amendments I've been working on. In a good way, I managed to work out just why the settings for the BIOS weren't amending as they should do - it was because the step which performs the changes hadn't reflected the revised password that we were sending to the machines in order to do what the change was. Once I got the content redistributed, all appeared to be going well and in fact it showed that all those settings did what they were supposed to. Nice.

One concern I did have was over the amount of time being taken to effectively bring down the task sequence complete with all the nice bits and updates. In fact allowing that to run completely through, including any Office installs as part of that, showed a total time of over two hours from start to finish. Not necessarily that bad but when previous times have been under an hour, it's a point of concern. As such I've flagged that and the end result is that I'm now going to take a different approach, which may be the sensible way to work it going forward.

So what is that way you ask? Well, in effect to have two MDT task sequences that can be selected: one of which will do Windows 10 with Office 2016 32bit, and the other but with Office 2016 64bit. There are some added advantages for when we get to deploy with SCCM, such as the fact that it can effectively then allow for the selection of whichever WIM you wish to choose from, based on a task sequence variable that we're setting anyway. So it'll work nicely, but does mean I'm going to have to spend some time on generating those accordingly and including all the Office updates as well (which can be layered into the updates folder accordingly.)

It was good to find that out late in the day and indeed get some feedback from some of the management in view of the time reported taking too long and that my suggestion of a practical solution would be useful going forward. Of course time taken has to be a pretty fair time taken all round, and so it was noticeable that the time just goes so quickly when you're having to effectively recommend more work for yourself to do, but based on justifiable findings that you did earlier.

It was a pretty relaxed evening after all that with lots of nice music to listen to when I got home including the She Makes War album Brace For Impact, with "Undone" being tune of the day for me on that one. I definitely think that it's going to be one of my albums of the year, as there's just so many good tunes on there and the song writing is as top notch as ever. If you've bought it, good on you. If you haven't, then I strongly suggest that you do - it's even in HMV so you have no excuses whatsoever really..

Sunday 28th October - Shopping on Sunday

It was nice that the clocks going back did mean an extra hour for sleep, and certainly for us all that was rather nice to have. I had got up and I suspected Mum was already up - and so I made us both a coffee and we chatted quietly whilst having Match of the Day on so I could catch up on the football somewhat. The Love In My Heart also then got up and I sorted us out with breakfast as well - so good to get the grill on and get some bacon sorted out and toast too - happy days really.

We had decided that it would be good to head around the centre of Croydon and go in some of the shops, and that proved good for Mum especially, as there were some cushions that she was after in Primark and had managed to find them in there and not at an expensive price either (the Manchester one didn't have them either.) We also then went into the likes of Debenhams, House of Fraser and Next before then heading into the Whitgift Centre, where it was also into the likes of Boots, Flying Tiger (as it's now named these days) and also the nice home store Chickadee as well.

In fact it proved worthwhile all round as The Love managed to pick up a nice gift for someone as did Mum as well, so that was a definite plus. I wasn't too meithered about buying anything necessarily, but it was good to be able to get some ideas for the months ahead, especially with Christmas shopping round the corner and all that. I also was able to head into the new discount shop that had opened where Poundworld used to be - Bargain Buys. It suspiciously looked similar in items to Poundstretcher but did also have some good stuff for not much dosh, so will need to head there at some point and stock up on a few things too.

After a coffee at mine and with the cases all packed, it was off to East Croydon again to get the train to Victoria and this time the tube to Warren Street, where from there it was over the road and a short walk over to the Crown and Anchor pub where I'd booked a table for Sunday lunch. I was glad that I had as the place was busy as usual, and it was also good that the Soft Cell Say Hello Wave Goodbye ale was on, so that was me sorted. It was good to sit and relax there and be able to have a nice drink and chill out in the nice relaxed atmos. The Love was impressed with the new decor too.

We ordered the mains and The Love had the Sunday Roast chicken, as lovely as ever, and I had the fish and chips, again spot on. Mum had been a bit indecisive about what to have and went for the burger, and I think she was very pleased with her decision as it was a proper big chunk of beef in a proper bun with fries - and even asked the staff for the burger sauce recipe in there as well. In fact Mum went on to have the chocolate torte and me the sticky toffee pudding - not had one in ages after all and so it was a good decision to have one. And yes, it was fit! Later on it was off to Euston and to see The Love and Mum off. The weekend had gone far too quickly and it was nice to give The Love a hug before she left and to be able to be close before they had gone.

In fact due to the American football game at Wembley finishing, the tube was pretty packed, as was the train back to East Croydon, and it was delayed a fair bit as well. Once home, it was on with the F1 and a pleasure to see Lewis Hamilton do more than enough to clinch his fifth world title - Max Verstappen's win was enough for him anyway, regardless of what Sebastian Vettel was going to do - a second place wasn't enough anyway. And so with Fleetwood Mac's "The Chain" blasting out (make that tune of the day) it was a great evening for British F1 fans seeing Hamilton do more than enough anyway, and for him to be level on Fangio with five titles.

Saturday 27th October - Portobello and the Cote D'Azur

I got up this morning and my Mum was already up, so I made us both a coffee and put the telly on and had BBC Breakfast on in the background whilst we chatted as well. The Love In My Heart got up and we then all had a coffee and some breakfast, and it was good to be able to have something and get ourselves sorted for the morning. We were going to head off to do some shopping and Mum had expressed an interest in seeing Portobello Road Market, so thought we could do that and potentially also Marylebone High Street as I'd mentioned the nice shops on there to The Love.

It was a nice brisk morning but at least it was dry, and it was then off to East Croydon station and on to the train, which was relatively quiet for a Saturday morning. Once at Victoria it was then down the stairs to the platforms for the District and Circle lines, and this time waiting for the Circle Line train. It was pretty busy until plenty of people got off at South Kensington, and a fair number got on all the way up towards Notting Hill Gate, where it was very busy for people getting off, and all seeming to have the same idea also.

We walked through some of the streets with shops in Notting Hill and then headed down Portobello Road itself. The first part is actually residential housing and it did have the former house of George Orwell along the way. Plenty of shops and the antique markets were present then as we headed slightly downhill, and plenty of old cameras and shops selling all sorts but also some magnets as well, thus catering for the tackier side for the tourists as well. The antiques gave way to the fashion markets and also the food stalls as well, many of which did smell pretty nice it had to be said.

We did stop off at one of the pubs on Portobello Road for a well earned coffee, and we found a table in a quiet cosy corner to have that as well, before then heading past the food stalls, the rather nice Electric cinema and onwards towards the tube line and the Westway before turning left and following the signs for Ladbroke Grove and the tube station there. It was then a ride over to Baker Street where we would head to the Metropolitan pub and have a well earned lunch - I had the mushroom risotto which was very nice actually it has to be said.

We then walked along Marylebone Road and passed the church and to a small market in the church gardens before arriving on Marylebone High Street. We had a good mooch in the Conran shop and some of the items were very nice but also very expensive, such as an uber-deluxe Scrabble set, and furniture and chairs that really did owe a lot to modern design too. Further down the high street we had a good look round Emma Bridgewater and also the gorgeous Daunt Books bookshop, complete with upper floor of beautiful shelves and views too.

It was then over into Caroline Gardner as well, and the staff were handing out glasses of prosecco so The Love and Mum had one each as they were heading round the shop. It was apparently the 20th anniversary of the shop opening and so was a nice touch. In fact the staff were lovely anyway and The Love managed to pick up a nice gift in there too, and we then headed into the likes of Anthropologie and other gorgeous shops too before then heading round to Baker Street, taking the 13 bus to Victoria and then on the train back to mine, where it was coffee and a French Fancy later to have a relaxed later afternoon.

In the evening it was off out for a nice meal and we'd looked at a number of the restaurants in the South End before booking Cote D'Azur on Selsdon Road, just off the main road with the restaurants on. We headed down there and Mum was concerned that not many people were inside, assuming that it not being full meant that it wasn't nice. How wrong she was and I was so glad really. The staff were warm and welcoming, and took our coats and placed our napkins correctly before taking our drinks order. As the restaurant is a mix of French and Mauritian cuisine, I went for the Mauritius local beer Pheonix, which was actually very nice all told.

The starters came out and were lovely: Mum had the crisp Mauritian crackers with chilli dip, I had these two gorgeous large spring rolls with smoked chicken and a nice dip, and The Love's French Onion soup was gorgeous: it was proper thick, had plenty of onions in and you could tell had lots of love and attention in there. The mains were just as awesome: The Love had the beef with rice and a nice sauce, and the beef melted beautifully on the plate - and Mum's shoulder of lamb was all meat with some vegetables and really nice dauphinoise potatoes, and the chicken and mushroom penne I had was stunning - two large chicken breasts in there, and a gorgeous sauce. The cheesecake for dessert was spot on too.

The staff were all lovely throughout, being very polite and pleasant and not being too obtrusive, and we chatted for ages and had a really nice time all told. It wasn't the cheapest meal ever but you really did get what you paid for and for me it was just nice to do that and to effectively a week early take Mum out for a birthday meal - and she loved it. The Love and I would go back there again no question, and when we got back to mine, it was on with Strictly and the Halloween special - nice to see Thriller being danced to as well (make that tune of the day) and that was good to see it all before heading for bed after a long and busy day.

Friday 26th October - A Full Flat

It was the dress down day at work today, and that's always good to be able to wear more normal clothes instead of the work trousers and shirt that I normally would do. It's also a positive because everyone donates £2 and the money raised goes to a nominated charity as well, so that does mean that it feels like a sensible way to raise money too. It was pretty busy all round as we were working out the effective way to get some of the desired configurations required to be working, and I wanted to leave on time - but that didn't happen. Again.

I am starting to question that to some degree. I don't mind hard work and I don't mind getting on with the job, but what I do mind is when there's an expectancy to work longer hours on a more constant basis and feel pressured into doing so. One thing about the previous job was that it was a case of being able to get what you could do done in the day, but at the same time not putting massive pressure on or feel the need to be able to have to go over the top and spend many hours extra to do so. Maybe it's a symptom of the environment of the workplace a little and because of the pressures of current projects, but I'm monitoring things closely.

I got home and managed to have some tea as well as do some final ironing and any cleaning needed, and put Channel 4 on for their Stand Up To Cancer evening. An early highlight for me was a sketch with Jack Whitehall and Miss Piggy from the Muppets, which was pretty funny. I knew that The Love In My Heart and my Mum were on the train down to London Euston, and once they had got to Victoria and towards the train to East Croydon, I got a text and made my way from the flat to East Croydon station to meet them there.

All seemed well and it was pretty dark and quite windy as we headed back, so it was good to be in a cosy warm flat when we got back. I got the wine and beer at the ready and it was nice to relax and be able to watch some evening telly and have a catch up and chatter. The celebrities watching on Celebrity Gogglebox were pretty funny, including Tottenham team mates Dele Alli and Eric Dier, former Liverpool player Peter Crouch with his wife Abbey Clancy and Abbey's dad, and also Danny Dyer and his daughter (and apparently winner of Love Island) Dani Dyer.

We did later on turn over to BBC Four where the documentary about the making of the Bohemian Rhapsody single was on, perfectly timed of course for the release of the film about Queen at the cinemas as of late. The classic song is tune of the day and it was fascinating to see the behind the scenes work in the studio, Brian May and Roger Taylor talking about the song and the producer showing all the parts broken down, and some excellent narration from Richard E. Grant as well - it's well worth a watch on iPlayer if you get the chance to do so. It was then time to sort out the spare bed out for Mum and all was well as everyone headed to sleep for the weekend ahead.

Thursday 25th October - Preparation

With my Mum coming down to stay this weekend along with The Love In My Heart, I had hoped to be able to get out of work on time to be able to arrive home at a reasonable time to get things done. That didn't happen but thankfully I had had the common sense to ensure all the towels were already in the washer and they were all washed and dried by the time I got home, so one less thing to worry about and meant that the machine was free for anything else I needed to sort out. Hurrah. In fact it was a sensible plan because I could add some work shirts in the wash and get them ready for next week in advance.

I had already sorted out most of the vacuuming and sorting out all the skirting boards and so with the nozzle attachments (always good to keep the dust off) and had a good natter with The Love before I knew that Tesco was arriving with the online food shopping delivery. In a good way it meant that the time was earlier than I expected, but in a bad way I noted that the bottles of wine I'd ordered were missing, and potentially other items, as they weren't on one of the crates that were brought up, and hadn't been loaded in the van either. I did get a refund for those items, but still.

I sorted out more cleaning, blew up the air bed and had the duvet, pillows and duvet covers ready as well so got all of those sorted out, and then placed the air bed behind the sofa in the front room ready for tomorrow. In the meantime as I'd sorted out most of the bathroom it was off to Sainsburys in order to get the replacement wine from there - and I managed to get that but noted a good offer on near the wine section - it was the Brewdog's rather nice 0.5% low alcohol ale Nanny State, reduced to a mere 78p a bottle. I was having some of that and decided to get a couple of bottles along with the wine.

It was good then to be able to kick back a little with Kristin Hersh's ace new album "Possible Dust Clouds". Admittedly being a Strange Angel subscriber meant that I got it a week before release digitally, and of course purchased the physical CD when it came out. I would have gone to the Rough Trade event tonight but needed to get things sorted in the flat for tomorrow, so I'm sure it would have been a good one. For me tune of the day is the excellent "Lethe" from that album, complete with plenty of guitar acoustics punctuating the electric guitar parts nicely to form a real wall of sound that just feels like it needs to be played on a road in the middle of nowhere to get that feeling.

It did feel like a long evening getting things sorted out but I know at the same time that this will work out nicely for a good weekend and one that I can enjoy too. To be honest with the way work is at the moment, having any form of quality time is really needed and something I'm going to make the most of. I've managed to pretty well get on with a lot of stuff at work today but there's a number of sources of frustration all round that I am going to do what I can to get on top of.

Wednesday 24th October - Time For A New Phone

So after the last few days of the battery not doing exactly what it should, and after checking the bank statement online to see how the money situation was, I thought today was the day to head off and get a new phone. I had been impressed with The Love In My Heart's new phone (Motorola Moto G6 Play) but didn't want to get the same one, despite the fact that the Moto G3 I used to have as a work phone in one previous place of work was actually very good also. I had shortlisted a few and had also compared the prices, bearing in mind I just needed a SIM free one in order to pop the new SIM in and off you go..

So I had already narrowed down some choices - I didn't want to spend shed loads, but definitely wanted something nice and Android was a certainty. I checked the prices in various shops, located the cheapest one and they happened to be open on the way home, even allowing for delays with being late out of work and also taking the train seemingly being longer than normal. In a good way that did mean that I was able to head to the shop with less people in, get what I wanted and head out of there without too much fuss, which is always a good thing.

So one trip to Argos later and I was heading home with the 2017 version of the Samsung J3. Metal case? Check. Nice black look? Definitely. And even though originally it had shipped with Android 7, it now had Android 8, so was able to do all the nice things too, so definitely good there. In fact Samsung have an app installed on there, which you can install on your previous Android phone, and by the power of wireless, you could copy over all the contacts, pictures and so on without having to do too much else. This was in fact an absolute doddle and all the contacts came over, and anything in memory also. I was going to swap the SD card anyway, so no biggie there either.

And sure enough I let it connect to wireless, get all the apps I had previously and then also be able for me to set some ringtones etc based on the previous ones I had from the old phone (where I'd had them on the SD card and if you name the folder Ringtones, they show up as a selection to be had there). This worked really well, and part of me is also considering whether to in fact transfer a shed load of music to there instead and save on lightness on taking the iPod Nano, although the sound quality on that is admittedly very good and it's also tiny too.

But all is good, and it does mean that I've managed to get myself a little something as a reward for the hard work I've done as of late and also means that it's good to have something smaller and more lightweight. Admittedly I'll need to get a case as well but that's not a bad thing as it'll just give it a bit more protection anyway, but pretty pleased all round, and the camera looks decent as well from what I've tried thus far. Tune of the day is the ace "Struck Gold" by Little Sparrow, which just seemed really lovely to listen to tonight as I was getting several things sorted out.

Tuesday 23rd October - Kicking It Old School

So tonight I had a couple of things I wanted to sort out, and the first of which was write an article. After my investigation I did a week or so ago into why an old computer game tune decided to fall out of sync around a minute and a half in, I had managed to work out the cause and by comparing with another 8-bit computer version, I was able to ensure that the corrected code was added, and for the first time on the humble but still brilliant Commodore 64, the theme tune from the game Indiana Jones and the Fate of Atlantis played the way it should have done since its release in 1992. It's also about giving back to the original composer the work as they intended too, so good to sort that.

I'm still in touch with the site editor of Commodore Format's unofficial website, dedicated to said magazine and has had lots of features on staff and contributors (and yes, I'm in there too.) So it was only right that I was able to get it all sorted out and be able to manage to write something that would prove useful, including screen grabs of the Action Replay cartridge monitor which I still use on the humble C64 to this day to diagnose machine code - reason being that it works, and works very well indeed it has to be said.

That done, I then went more old school and looked at some old games were the music hadn't yet been extracted from them for people to listen to. In fact it took me back when I used to do this a lot and was able to hack out the bits of code from old games to make the music play, and there's still a very dedicated following of those who love the SID sound chip and make it sing as much as possible. So naturally with the older games, often the code is either spread out all over the place or is even written in BASIC language, hence the need to carefully examine what's gone on there.

One old game that took my interest was one I played when I was younger: I remembered it at full price as Bride of Frankenstein as a friend had it, and it wasn't the easiest game ever, and it had been re-released on budget a couple of years later on as Frankenstein Jr, and with the same tune as well. In fact it was a version of Bach's Toccata, and amazingly all in under one kilobyte of memory as well. I managed to check over the code and realise what was playing when, and that a number of locations in memory were being set initially and needed to be replicated in order for the tune to initialise properly. That done, it was duly extracted out and played, and in fact some revisions meant that all in all, the actual tune takes 672 bytes. Wowzers!

Amazing stuff how code was back then, and in fact with low budget and lower specified machines meaning computing on a relative budget such as the Raspberry Pi, it was definitely a case of being able to have the old stuff working and working well - showing just how much technology has moved on but with nods to how you had to optimise the code in the past when you didn't have that much memory to play with and needed to put in all the graphics, sounds and the gameplay into such a limited amount of space. Incredible when you think about it really - and tune of the day is the excellent "Hey Hey 16K" by MJ Hibbett, reminiscing about the old days of the Sinclair Spectrum and other 8-bit machines..

Monday 22nd October - Itching To Go

Lots of things I wanted to do at work today, some of which I was able to do and some of which I'm waiting on other things to happen before moving onwards. In truth, I'm itching to go for a number of reasons and want to really get cracking in some cases and so that I can really show how I roll big time. The good news was that some of the team had had a discussion earlier in the day and for me that was good because they backed up the thought processes of myself too - most notably how we would progress onwards and what the best move would be. Sometimes you have to be realistic too.

I think too for me that I was able to add on Access Runtime 2016 into the current build task sequence and get that up and running without too many issues, and on top of that 7-Zip and Visio Viewer are also in there - meaning that if we get new versions of either, we add them to the build task sequence and we'll be good to go as well so that has to definitely be a positive. It's all looking good and I think too that we would need to also add some other tests, but there's a good movement on the whole forward - so did feel realistically pleased.

It was also nice after having some tea tonight to be able to have a nice little dessert thanks to The Love In My Heart. She had made some scones over the weekend and had even got some jam and proper Rodda's clotted cream to go the full hog on the cream tea - very nice too. She had packed a scone and a little sealable dish with some jam and some clotted cream so I could have them with a brew, and that I did. It was rather nice all round and good to be able to have that for definite.

I have also been possibly investigating an issue with the mobile I have - for some reason the battery drained really quick overnight both Saturday night and last night and did take some time to charge earlier, so will see when I fully charge it tonight what happens when I just leave it on standby overnight - and see what happens power wise in terms of how much it loses. Potentially it may be replacement battery or also, as I've had the phone for over two years plus now, a possible time to go and get a replacement - I can get any SIM free one, put the SIM in and away I go. So there's some options there.

In the meantime I've been playing more of the new Blancmange album Wanderlust tonight, and the title track is particularly epic, complete with some sampled speech throughout the introduction which just adds to the feeling of being somewhere else that the track has before the vocals kick in and the whole thing builds nicely - and a definite tune of the day for me. I think it also shows that if you're able to still develop as an artist and be able to keep going that says a lot about how good they were in the first place really. And yes, I am old enough to remember the likes of Living on the Ceiling first time around...

Sunday 21st October - Working On A Sunday

Yes, I was indeed working on a Sunday. I had been asked to work effectively from home (albeit at The Love In My Heart's place) on the Sunday and be able to check over some of the server migrations that were taking place on that day. A number of them were related to SCCM and so I was in the best position to advise and ensure all was good moving forward. In fact, I knew it may take some time but I did check that the work laptop was able to communicate first with The Love's wireless network and then from there via DirectAccess to the work network, which all went well.

I had to delay some of the testing and checks though as when monitoring some of the statuses I could potentially see some disk space issues. Part of that was down to the IIS logs filling up the hard drive, and so was able to at least purge some of the older ones and in addition be able to then sort out a plan going forward. That did also allow time for some of the SQL database stuff to be sorted and indeed one of our DBAs was on hand as needed to help sort things out accordingly - so kept in touch throughout the day.

I had managed to get most of the testing done by around 4pm and so would do one final check when I got home later that evening. The Love and I were of course fussing over Brian the cat a lot during the day but felt the need to head out for some late lunch and we decided that a nice carvery at the Sheldon Arms near Ashton was a good port of call. Not least as well because the guest ale at the moment was a very lovely porter so that went down well with me, along with the roast beef and gammon I had with the veg. It was all nice but the time was going by far too quickly.

The Love dropped me off at Piccadilly but used the back way instead heading close to where the tram line goes and then dropping me by the long stay car park, and I took the lift and over the bridge towards the side entrance. That did seem a lot quicker than queueing up with all the taxis, and The Love can get onto Store Street and up towards home that way, so that might be something we do in future to be honest. I was able to then get my train and start heading off back towards London with the iPod on and playing some quality tunes along the way.

I got home and a package had arrived that I knew was coming - the new Blancmange album "Wanderlust". I'd been hearing plenty of people who had got it already stating it was very good, and I'll be adding to that list. It's much more electronic and more analogue than even some of the recent releases, and Neil Arthur is just as good vocally as he's ever been. For me the swirling analogue instruments and punctuated verses and choruses of "In Your Room" is pretty excellent, so tune of the day for me.

Saturday 20th October – She Makes Five

Today was certainly a day of two halves, and that was because of the fact I had the football in the afternoon and then a gig in the evening, seeing She Makes War. I was looking forward to that a fair bit and of course seeing City is always a good thing. The Love In My Heart and I got up and had breakfast, and Brian the cat was itching to play out (as he always does) and so had a good play for a bit. The Love headed to see one of her relations to drop some bits off, and so all was good whilst Brian wanted a bit of a fuss from me, which he got (and no scratching!)

Later on it was off to the Etihad with my friend and to see Manchester City take on Burnley, and for us both a good win here would put pressure on – especially as Chelsea had drawn 2-2 with Manchester United earlier and Jose Mourinho had lost it a fair bit (admittedly under provocation though.) So spirits were higher here as we all wanted City to do the business and be two points clear before Liverpool would play at Huddersfield Town later in the day – so it was important to make sure that we did that. The weather was dry, former City keeper Joe Hart got a hero’s reception as he turned out for Burnley, and so the game kicked off.

And literally. Vincent Kompany got a very early yellow for a foul on Aaron Lennon, that in all fairness, should have actually been a red – it was high and it was not good to see. He survived that and City pressed forward in the search for an opening goal – Sergio Aguero had a header wide from a Riyad Mahrez cross, and Hart saved well from a shot from Aguero also. But sixteen minutes in, the breakthrough, as Leroy Sane and David Silva combined down the left, and Silva put the ball on a plate for Aguero to score and make it 1-0. No more goals until half time, although Hart saved very well from Silva and Aguero should have scored the follow up.

Second half was all City and a few minutes in, Sane went down in the box – no penalty given. Everyone seemed to stop apart from David Silva who knew that the referee had waved play on. He got the ball on the edge of the box, passed it to Bernardo Silva and it was 2-0. There was debate about if the ball had actually gone out of play, but playing to the whistle was key – and quick thinking from El Mago was the thing here. Not long after that, City got a corner, which was cleared, but straight to Fernandinho who took a touch and shot beautifully into the far corner, a great effort (and we know he’s capable of that). My friend was also happy as Fernandinho is in his Fantasy League side!

City were able to relax players and so bring on Kevin de Bruyne and Phil Foden – and later on Riyad Mahrez curled in a beautiful shot into the top corner, and late on Benjamin Mendy did one of his trademark runs down the left and found Leroy Sane for 5-0. Therefore, that was a fifth clean sheet for City, a second 5-0 win and the third win by five goals or more (as we’d beaten Huddersfield Town 6-1 earlier in the season.) Goal difference is plus 23 so that’s almost worth a point in itself to be honest as Liverpool would have needed to win 12-0 later to go top, which clearly wasn’t happening either.

Later on The Love In My Heart and I headed into the city centre and decided to have some tea before heading to the gig at The Castle Hotel. We went to the Abel Heywood in the Northern Quarter and managed to get a table in there, and so had a nice chocolate and vanilla stout as well as the food too. The Love had the fish and chips, which looked very nice indeed, and I had the game bird pie, which was guinea fowl, chicken, tarragon and mushrooms. It was not a proper pie though, it was a dish with lid (meh) which really places need to put on the menus so that you can decide if it’s your thing before getting it.

It was then over to the Castle, and plum porter ale at the bar too – win! We then headed to the back room where the venue was and noted it was very warm in there, so much so that you could feel the change in temperature when you left the room. Eliza Rickman was on first and she had an autoharp and other assorted instruments, and her boyfriend was also playing the violin. She had a nice voice, reminded me in look of certain PJ Harvey eras, and played a good few songs including a Bob Dylan cover and at the end a medley that went into another nice rendition too. I think that some might have found it a bit twee, but the acoustics helped just right.

It was to the bar for another drink and on with She Makes War – and it was a good set all told. Starting off with the dynamic Drown Me Out, the full band setup allowed space to flow. I did have an issue with the sound mixing though – the vocals were not as audible as they should be, neither for Laura nor for any of the other band members singing. But the good thing was that musically it was all as good as I’d expect: great guitars (and she had the blue guitar!) and a real sense of purpose in the playing too, something I always appreciate.

Understandably, plenty of the new Brace for Impact album was played, so that included London Bites, Undone, and the great single Devastate Me which had plenty of the audience singing along to the chorus, so good to see (and yes, that was me also!) It was really warm though and The Love was a bit too hot so she headed to get some fresh air and a cold drink – and others were also having to exit the venue part because it was just too hot for them. The Love talked to someone at the bar and apparently it’s a known problem with the venue – and in my view does need sorting out – I was suffering under that heat myself it has to be said.

We also had a nice part of the show where it was just Laura minus band, so that gave a perfect opportunity to play the lovely Paper Thin, and a version of Delete minus megaphone (primarily as there would have been nowhere to walk around the floor with it) – and that was good. Later on with band back in tow, it also meant a couple of early classics to close the set including Slow Puncture, which was ace. However, my favourite of the night is also fast becoming my favourite of the new album (and thus tune of the day) – the beautifully slower and emotional track that is When The Quiet Came – just so lovely.

I headed out of the venue and found The Love, and she had been and got a bottle of water to ensure she was okay, and we headed home on the tram later on. I did get back in time to see Manchester City on Match of the Day although quite rightly the main game was all about the meltdown at Stamford Bridge first off. It was a very busy but a good day all round, and was just nice to be able to spend some quality time with friends and to be able to see a good gig at the same time. Gutted I can’t do any further tour dates, but will take those moments and treasure them nonetheless.

Friday 19th October – All The Consultants, All Of Them

So today was another lengthy meeting, this time with a number of consultants, some whom I have been working with over the last week, so see where we are with one of our current large IT projects. Thankfully, it appeared that for the most count all appeared well and that we were able to see that progress had been made, and indeed that some of the recommendations that were being put in place were indeed visible and correct. That was good to see, of course, and I did feel more justified in that the contribution that I was making was indeed correct.

It had been put in the diary for all day to work on that, but that wasn’t the case. That allowed me to be able to get on with a few other things during the afternoon, including checking a number of things, which were infrastructure related, and design related to the project itself. My manager was back in today and so we had a good catch up. Overall I think he has been pleased with the work thus far but I know that we have to carry on what we are doing, so no laurels rested on for me. It did make me feel better about things to be honest as I know that it’s been a fairly tough initiation having to almost jump in head first into something.

It was good to be able to leave on time, and consequently I was able to then head up to Marylebone Road and take the 18 bus towards Euston. In fact, that, or the 30, or the 205, are all viable options and arguably quicker and step free too – doing the tube at that time may not work out so well. Most people got off at Warren Street station so that meant I could head down another road and towards Drummond Street and to the now reopened Crown and Anchor pub, one of The Love In My Heart and I’s favourite places to eat and drink in London.

And yes, it was well worth it. The renovation has done wonders, the outside is now bright and really feels modern, with more outside furniture for people to drink outside in the warmer weather, and the inside has had the floor polished nicely, the interiors spruced up and some nice wall art placed, as well as more booth style tables for those that want a nice cosy lunch together. All in all, it was spot on, and of course seeing the real ale available, I had to go for the “Say Hello Wave Goodbye” ale named after the classic Soft Cell single (that is tune of the day in fact.) It was really nice and drinkable too although the couple sat further down the table really needed to get a room!

It was on to Euston and the station was packed because the 1820 was late. In fact the 1840 was at the platform next door, so when my platform was announced it was very busy getting down to the train, but managed to get my seat, plug in the iPod, and then chill out as I headed back up North, where The Love In My Heart was waiting for me. It was great to see her and we headed back to hers, chilled out with a coffee and watched Gogglebox later on. I was positive actually and that was good to see.

Thursday 18th October – All The Book Signings

So it was off to the London Transport Museum tonight to see a talk hosted by Geoff Marshall and Vicki Pipe, they of All The Stations fame. They had of course travelled on trains that stopped at every station over last Summer, and so had been to all (at the time) 2,563 stations on the National Rail network. Since then there’s been three new stations which of course they have been to in order to keep up. It’s been a fascinating journey for them and one which I’ve always enjoyed watching. And so fast forward a year and their book The Railway Adventures was launched this week.

I had decided to take a change of clothes into work and so had my Cornish All The Stations t-shirt which has “pub gorsav oll” on it, one of the two ways in that language you can say all the stations. Note I did actually contact the Cornish Language Unit as part of Cornwall Council to get the official translations! I had also changed after work, and headed off to the Wetherspoons close to Baker Street station – it was the curry night and so a Chicken Korma was mine to have with some naan bread and rice, just the thing to keep me going for later on.

I arrived at the transport museum and just had to visit the shop. It was full of temptation I could buy – especially if you are a typography fan and like the Johnston font used all over the tube, buses, DLR etc. You could get lettered mugs ad have the W name as well – nice – as well as the special limited edition Scrabble set with the lettering in the same font as well. I was tempted but it was £40 a throw, so not the cheapest thing ever, and I wanted to ensure I could get a signed copy of the book later on too.

So it was then downstairs to the Cubic theatre and onwards to the seat – I had second row from the front so was happy with that. Out came Geoff and Vicki and the talk started, especially nice to see that they had their same infectious personalities as they do on video. There were lots of wordplay games for the audience to participate in based on station names for example, and they needed a station name with nineteen letters in as an example. I put the hand up and I said Liverpool Lime Street, which was correct, so well done me!

There was also a little game called Play Your Stations Right, based of course on the classic late Bruce Forsyth presented 80s show, with Vicki even doing a classic Bruce pose. It was a nice idea – here’s a station with say East in its name. Will the next station (say it had West in the name) have a higher or lower station count. They deliberately near the end had one with the same number so Vicki could go “You don’t get anything for a pair” and the audience would call out “not in this game!” – which made her pretty happy all round, so that was good.

After the wordplay and chatter there was a Q&A session with them both, and lots of interesting things came out as answers, including why Doncaster’s branch of Pumpkin has the most miserable staff, and what the future may hold for travel by rail. Someone of course did ask them what was their best and worst train company (Transpennine Express was featured as a bad one) and Geoff’s mum was in the audience and asked him how many cups of tea he had drunk during their epic journey – answer, a lot.

So it was then to the book signing, and being near to the front in the theatre did mean being near to the back of the queue. In fact, almost everyone was getting a signed book and they had a queue. Vicki and Geoff were lovely, and they both signed the book I’d purchased. In fact Geoff noted my Cornish t-shirt and promptly drew that inside the front cover when he signed it – nice to see. I headed via Charing Cross to London Bridge and on the way homeward, and having had a quick read through, the book looks ace. Needless to say the theme tune to All The Stations is tune of the day for so many reasons..

Wednesday 17th October - All The Delays

It was a right bit of fun and games getting home from work tonight. It had been okay getting in this morning, but that was because I wasn't heading anywhere from West London or beyond into Paddington. The overhead wires had been damaged and so for most of the day there were no trains at all going in and out of that station, and indeed that meant massive queues of people at Reading and other stations. Not the best if you were that way and you'd have my every empathy on that one to be honest.

So I walked to the tube station from work - and there were already delays. Signal failure at Farringdon, so that took out effectively the primary route home. I know I thought, I'll take the Bakerloo to Oxford Cirus and then the Victoria Line to Victoria and onwards. Er... no. I got to Oxford Circus alright but the Victoria Line tube was not moving whatsoever, which was not good. In fact there had already been curtailed services to Victoria only, but then it was announced there was another incident at Warren Street so nothing was moving whatsoever. Oh, parallel, unbridled joy. Not.

So back to the Bakerloo line platforms and this time off to Charing Cross. I got off there, followed the ridiculously long corridor to the train station, and had two options: change trains at London Bridge, or stay on one. In fact I boarded one that would take me to Elmers End, so I had a choice (because I could swap at Elmers End for the tram accordingly). The train was packed but I got a seat, and as the train picked up passengers at Waterloo East and London Bridge, and was pretty busy all round.

And in fact so it was at London Bridge as well, so that idea of actually using that was immediately sacked off, and I stayed on the train as it headed through Ladywell, Catford Bridge and New Beckenham (I've walked through this station on the Capital Ring) and then to Elmers End, where a change for the tram was good and the tram was about the only fast part of the journey. I got home almost at 7pm which was almost an hour later than planned, but at least I had kept moving and had used my knowledge to get some alternative routes home. Phew indeed!

I spent a fair bit of time in the evening settling in for the night and just watching some mindless telly, I couldn't be too meithered. However I did keep an eye on the Bee in the City auction happening at Manchester Velodrome, and some of the bee statues went for really massive amounts of money. The Bee United bee outside Old Trafford sold for £31,000 with Andy Cole (former Man U player) putting another £5k on top. The Liam Gallagher designed bee sold for almost £20,000 and the Manchester City bee Mike Summer-Bee went for £25,000 as well. And the Stone Roses themed I Wanna Bee Adored (make the song it's named after tune of the day) went for £17,000 as well. Nice!

Tuesday 16th October - Celebrity Hunted

So Celebrity Hunted was back on the telly for the next few weeks as part of Channel 4's fundraising for Stand Up To Cancer that they do a fair bit of the time. I must admit when this was on last time out it was really enjoyable, especially as Jay and Shiva of The Wanted managed to win and do a pretty good job of evasion. I think too that in a way although you get less time to be on the run it must also be harder for celebrities because people will spot them, take pictures etc and the incentive is always there to let the hunters know that the people on the run have been spotted.

On the flip side of that, there's always some celebrities who don't mind the odd pic and end up sharing it on social media, or being able to commandeer a phone to make a call. And that in itself is the golden rule of Hunted broken. Rule 1 is this: do not use a mobile phone. Rule 2? See Rule 1. It's effectively you giving out triangulation co-ordinates as to where you might be meaning that a number of hunter teams are on the case. And that's not what you want when you happen to be so well known for your friendship on last year's Love Island series (Chris and Kem in this case.)

In fact, the audacity of some of them this time round was something - Sky broadcaster Kay Burley decided that her holiday place in the Cotswolds would be an almost perfect place to hide, except of course that logic would state that is the first place anyone is going to concentrate on apart from immediate family and friends. I think Dom Joly and Vicky Pattison may surprise as they are already going off track into the countryside and doing what they can to avoid things that way, and who knows what AJ Pritchard and Louis Smith might do?

One part of last night concentrated on one of the hunted, MP Chris Hughes, who needed to get to the Houses of Parliament in order to vote on something crucial to Brexit (as you do.) In fact his wife had managed to help him but the hunters originally weren't going to check if he was there, but a check of the Parliament TV channel showed that he was there. He had to plan two different cars to leave at the same time and hope that the hunters followed the wrong one (which they eventually did) and that gave him some breathing space. Pretty nerve wracking all round though and will he get discovered when heading to the Cotswolds next time out I wonder?

In any case, it was good to watch that and wind down a bit after a lengthy day at work, although in a way it's head down, crack on with stuff, and be able to contribute well as well. Tune of the day in fact is the theme tune from Hunted itself, it's pretty moody and haunting and just has the right amount of suspense in there to make you think that you'd be close to being captured if you were on the run yourself, it's pretty ace all round. And so much better than the crapness that is Bake Off these days, which as you'll know I don't watch anymore - I just can't stand Prue Leith.

Monday 15th October - Timperley Tribute

First things first: all went eventually according to plan for the SCCM 1802 upgrade I'd planned to do at work. It transpired that actually one of the ports required for replication detection was blocked, so got that unblocked and sorted, and that allowed me to get on and do the upgrade, as it meant that the SQL server listener (as the servers are clustered) was able to then communicate correctly with the database servers and play ball with updating the databases and indeed all the other stuff, so that was good. In fact I even didn't have to stay too late either so that was a bit of a win all round.

However, after I got home last night, and tonight, I was having a good reminisce about all the good memories Chris Sievey gave me as his alter ego Frank Sidebottom, with lots of humour, fun songs, and of course the bobbins piece of cardboard that was Little Frank along the way as well. I think for both me and the elder of the two sisters, it was a sense of humour that we both got, so much so that we'd been both been to see him live on a couple of occasions, and in 2008 we then saw an opportunity to do what was at the time a bit of a pilgrimage: the Magical Timperley Tour with Frank himself. Notably, the 2007 one was filmed by the director of the Being Frank documentary as well.

It was a grand day, I can remember us getting on an open top bus by Timperley Metrolink station and having a bit of a tour of the surroundings nicely. We had the road where two sides would have a war at Christmas with their decorations, passing Altrincham FC of course along the way, and then arriving in Timperley itself and having a walk round, past the two post boxes, all getting takeaway from the Fish Bar and seeing how many people we could fit in a chippy at the same time (yes, true!) and lots of other good memories including having someone being Little Frank's minder for the day - definitely not a bobbins job that one.

For us both, it was a bit of a fan thing to go and do it of course, but it had to be done, especially as so many good memories were of the day: the low tree branches almost taking his hat off (cue "Blimey!") and then a number of shops being pointed out as to what they did and why they weren't open on the Sunday as we went round. Certainly for me having passed through there on the 370 bus from Stockport to Altrincham back in the day, it was always good to see how the place looked that Frank had talked and sang about so many times (see "Timperley Sunset" - and tune of the day, "Next Train To Timperley", "Timperley 969 1909" and so on.)

This Saturday in fact will be five years to the day that the statue of Frank was placed in the centre of Timperley. I remember The Love In My Heart scoffing at the idea that it wouldn't be busy, despite both me and one of her friends telling her otherwise. Of course, I was right, and the local police even had to stop the traffic coming through to protect the pedestrian crowds. Anarchy in Timperley indeed - I think inside the head, Chris would have loved that. A lot. It was a sad feeling to not have him there but the tribute in place was so lovely, that it felt like the send off in the right way. You know it was, it really was.

Sunday 14th October - Fantastic Frank

It was a mainly rainy day today so I was glad I had been out and done a nice long walk yesterday. I had some breakfast and coffee, and once I got showered and ready it was off into the centre of Croydon, primarily to get a birthday present and card for one of my family relations. It was good that the shopping centre was mainly indoors as you could hear the rain hammering it down outside. I did have a good mooch in a few of the shops too and so was all good to go there too.

I then headed back to the flat and it was nice that BBC red button were showing the Manchester City Women v West Ham United Women game. What I didn't expect was three goals in the first quarter of an hour or so including a superb effort from Caroline Weir for the opener, and 3-0 at half time. West Ham were better second half but as they tired, City took advantage with two goals for Georgia Stanway off the bench, a nice header from Steph Houghton from a Caroline Weir cross, and a speculative effort from Tessa Wullaert being fumbled in by the Hammers' keeper for a convincing 7-1 win.

It was then off to East Croydon station, and as fortune would have it, I knew there were direct trains to Charing Cross with Southeastern due to engineering work, so that made life a lot easier instead of changing at London Bridge. Once there it was a walk past the National Portrait Gallery, up Bear Street and to Vue Leicester Square, where outside the front entrance was a large sized cut out of Little Frank, perfectly placed to promote this afternoon's European premier of the documentary film Being Frank, all about Chris Sievey and his alter ego Frank Sidebottom, which I'd helped to crowdfund a fair way back via Kickstarter (and my name is in the credits accordingly for that reason too)

So it was into screen 5, with nice big comfy leather seats, and one of the curators of the London Film Festival plus the film's creator Steve Sullivan had a little talk, and then on went the film, and for the next two hours or so, it was a definite case of being entertained and enjoying lots of memories of Chris Sievey and his creative genius, from the bands he was in prior to The Freshies, explaining to a confused Nick Owen about the Camouflage single with the ZX81 program on Side B, and becoming Frank Sidebottom and being that popular cult figure, playing to a massive crowd at Reading Festival and all sorts.

What made this a labour of love was the interviews with Chris' family including his late son Harry, his ex-wife Paula recalling their first kiss, and then getting married during their work lunchtime, to the likes of Johnny Vegas explaining the genius of the Channel M show. In fact that was part of a five year plan to do lots of Frank stuff and finally take the head off to reveal Chris, but that never happened due to the death. What I did find out was something about the outline boxes on Frank's single covers which makes sense when you watch the documentary.

There was time for a short Q&A with the curator and Steve Sullivan, and the time had passed by very quickly indeed. I felt happy with lots of moments that made me smile, but what did make me cry was one of Chris' drawings where he drew Frank Sidebottom post-chemotherapy with no hair - an artistic statement made even at that difficult time but with so much love into it. It made me realise just how good Chris was and it's a lovely thing to have mentioned in the film too. Needless to say, "The Robins Aren't Bobbins" is tune of the day, a genuinely lovely football song to keep the spirits up at all times.

When this documentary gets a cinema release properly in Spring 2019, you'll need to go and see it - and there's bound to be a special event around Manchester at some time which I'll need to keep an eye open for. If you get the chance, see it, and understand just why the likes of myself found so much warmth and humour in what Chris Sievey did, whether it was "I'm In Love With The Girl On The Manchester Virgin Megastore Checkout Desk" or "Guess Who's Been On Match of the Day?" - it was all done so well.

Saturday 13th October - Walking on Non-League Day

I had had a good chat with The Love In My Heart last night, and as per usual, she is the common sense thread in a lot of things with me. She basically told me to forget about what was happening and to do something this weekend so that you're not stewing at home thinking about things. And she was of course right. She was doing a training course and running something good today, so that meant free time for me. Naturally I'll be missing her and Brian the cat, but it's one of many reasons why I adore her so, because she really does give me the tough love when I need it too.

So the day was sorted in two parts: firstly off to Greenwich and to the Royal Naval College to start off section seven of the Jubilee Greenway. As I approached the grounds of the Naval College it looked like there was being a period drama filmed, and indeed they warned of distressing scenes. That included a guillotine. So naturally no one was being allowed to film or photograph anything and a fair number of people were in period costume too, so definitely well worth noting if something comes on in future to see if I recognise the surroundings as well.

That all passed, it was on with the walk, past the foot tunnel and on to the new flats developments near Greenwich Reach, over the swing bridge (and saving a lot of diverting round Deptford Creek) past the Peter The Great statue. It was then a walk along the river side for a while before heading inland, following a number of back roads and then towards the very small Sayes Court Park, and then the Pepys Park and being back on track on the river.

I headed to Greenland Pier and its docks and that was pretty scenic and quiet too, the pier there must be a good place to board the river boats if you live locally. Just up the river too was Surrey Docks Farm, an urban city farm with sheep, donkeys, goats and more, and it was pretty busy with families, and even a nice café too which was very good indeed. I thought it was a positive thing that there was a chance for children to interact with animals and bond well, and lots of hand washing stations afterwards to ensure they're all preventing any germs too. Nice to see actually.

It was then towards Rotherhithe and over the bascule bridge (a real favourite of mine architecturally, it's built to last and really suits its position too) and past the Brunel Museum and engine house, where the rooms are for the rail tunnel under the Thames (still used by London Overground today) and the bench had a nice touch in tribute to the Royal Albert Bridge that carries you by rail to Cornwall. And the final walk to Tower Bridge, and the many tourists around there too all heading up to and along it. It was a good walk all round and nice to do around six miles and keep myself healthy.

The fresh air was good, and once I got home I quickly had a change (I was very sweaty from the walk!) and off on the 119 bus for Non-League Day. This day is when international games are on and there's no top division games, encouraging you to see a different game of football instead. I checked the fixtures near me and Bromley v Barrow was pretty near, and checking on the map, it was actually reachable by bus so that was a nice easy thing - especially as the 119 stops right near the flat. Nice.

I got the bus and arrived at the ground, and the road to it passes a farm on the right hand side before you get there. I had booked my ticket online for £10 (saving £8 on the admission price on the day) and so had the Eventbrite app ticket scanned, job done. The main Ravens Bar was absolutely packed and the staff mentioned that because there was no segregation, the bar normally for the away fans was open. Me and a few of the Barrow fans were on it and headed over there. All good too - they had real ales, so Whitstable Bay for £4 for a pint was mine. Not too expensive for a football ground. There were also meal deals on in some of the eateries so you could have a pie with crisps and a drink for £5, which is pretty good really. Fair play to them.

In fact you could tell the deals were decent, all three eateries were very busy with long queues during the game and especially at half time. The sun was still very much out too, so many fans were soaking it up on the terraces. I got a spot in the main stand with a seat right near to the half way line, so all was good there. The teams came out, and they even had The Stone Roses' "This Is The One" playing at half time so that's tune of the day for me - still a classic even now.

The game itself had a bit of needle but had some quality goals too. Bromley took the lead seven minutes in (and would have done earlier had the Barrow keeper not made a superb save early on) as the ball was crossed well after a neat one two and Omar Bugiel headed home for the opener. There was a bad injury to Barrow's Luke Carroll-Burgess as he challenged for a ball and fell awkwardly, and they had attention for a number of minutes, hence the five minutes of added time. It almost kicked off heading to the tunnel as some of the players were unhappy with the challenges and not afraid to say it either.

The half time break came at the right time and things calmed down. Barrow served purpose and their fans gathered on the far touchline closer to the goal they were attacking - their fans singing a lot and the policing and stewarding way over the top. They did see an equaliser, and a superb one at that from Erico Esteves de Sousa, as he had the ball from over 20 yards out and shot perfectly into the top corner, a great finish all round. Barrow continued to apply the pressure but the tide turned later in the second half, and it would be a free kick from Bromley that would win the game. Frankie Raymond took it, everyone missed it, and the ball went into the bottom corner for 2-1. And that's how it stayed.

It was a good match to watch, some well taken goals, plenty of incident, and a real sense of the fans getting behind their teams. It also shows just how much fans of lower league teams are just as passionate - it's not a short trip from Barrow, and their fans had raised money for prostate cancer along the way too today, fair play that. I've done Non-League day before at the likes of Stalybridge Celtic, Ashton United and so on, but the first one I've done since the move down. And it won't be the last if it happens to be a free Saturday either.

Friday 12th October - Alone

So, tonight, I'm just glad to be home, after what could be described as not the best day at work, for a number of reasons. Mainly because everything seemed to want to happen at once and everyone wanted me for a number of reasons all at the same time, plus on top of that it's also been a real challenge to try and be able to get through stuff at the moment. I think what makes it more difficult is the feeling that everything is against you for whatever reason. It doesn't make me happy. I think in my own mind I know what's wrong - and I know that I may need to do something about it.

I think too that in a way not being with The Love In My Heart this weekend (she is on training on Saturday and I'm seeing the Frank Sidebottom documentary film on the Sunday) is probably a fair bit to do with it. I do think that since the move down I've really felt that the quality time we've had together is something I treasure a lot more than I realise: and in fact apart from when I'm in the North East with friends next month, every weekend we'll be spending together all the way to the end of 2018, which is nice.

It's definitely a good mix of herself, Brian the cat (always the cutest) and just having that time snuggled up on the sofa. You don't know how much you miss it until it's not there of course, and that for me is the case this weekend. I will be keeping myself busy tomorrow as I think that's the right thing to do, but my thoughts will be with The Love and her warm smile, and her hugs. Even if Brian might occasionally hiss, he does love the odd stroke and fuss over, and generally knows that I love his Mummy lots (although that in itself makes Brian jealous because he loves his Mummy too!)

In any case, "Alone" by She Makes War from her previous album "Direction of Travel" is tune of the day - it's a great track and if you like her latest album, you need to get her previous one too. Talking of She Makes War for a second, good to see that in the likes of the indie chart, indie breakers chart, physical album chart and so on, there's a good new entry overall. That has to be a definite plus and shows just what hard work can do, so really pleased to see that. And only just below Kristin Hersh on the physical albums sale side too..

I wound down a little bit with Gogglebox, it did make me laugh with their comments on Graeme Swann and Oti Mabuse doing the charleston to Spiderman, with Graeme camping it up in a full Spidey outfit, as well as plenty of comments on the news of the Banksy art shredding, and lots more. I must admit some of the classic families are ace, the Siddiquis especially but also I know The Love likes Jenny and Lee, and one couple from Wiltshire reminds me of people I know I real life too..

Thursday 11th October - I've Been Tired

For some reason, I've felt really tired for most of today and quite happily had an early night to be honest with you. It didn't help that we had issues with something at work that I ended up staying back until later in the evening in an attempt to resolve, and had worked out both the root cause and how to get things resolved, thankfully. I must admit though that it was a case of having to balance the time between doing the day to day things, project work and then being able to facilitate the external person we're working with at the moment so that's been a juggling act.

When I got home later than planned and after having some tea, I did just feel quite drained, more mentally than anything else. I just fancied doing nothing but curl up on the sofa and not bother with anything else apart from some telly or some music. I opted for the latter and wanted to kick back and take it relatively easy, and play the new She Makes War album. There's so many good tracks on there and it's difficult to always pick a favourite, that's due to consistency. I do love "Undone" though and so that's tune of the day.

I think too when it is a long and tiring day and mentally straining you do want to not do too much. I did manage to get to see some of the Friday night show before the Bathurst 1000 race from last weekend so good to get an insight into the actual race. There are extended highlights on Freesports on Friday night so I'm going to record that as it's on pretty late and get that watched over the weekend. I do know who won of course but I do like to see how it all unfolded over one of the most classic motor racing circuits of all time..

I also have been attempting to plan some things for the next few months in terms of gigs: and noted that The Ruby Lounge in Manchester has been given a stay of execution until later in 2019, when the building that it's based in is being demolished to make way for a new development. It does make me rather sad that the place is closing but in a way it's also good that I've had a number of good memories of gigs in there over the years. I've seen the likes of Beth Rowley, Baskery, Ben's Brother, Jesse Malin and many more, and always been a nice sized place with a good atmosphere.

I think too for me that when you do have nice gig memories, it makes you feel sad when the place does close too. For me, the smaller venues are often the best memories as you have made the effort to at least be seeing someone and giving them the audience they deserve. Definitely for me I really like being closer to the artist and really observing good musicality (and often better beer too!) and that is a special thing. It's probably also a lot to do with not feeling so alone in such a large space as well...

Wednesday 10th October - Changeover

So today was the changeover date from my old mobile phone provider to my new one. In preparation (and because I have to take the back off etc) I removed the old SIM, put the new one in, and knew that at some point of the day I'd get a phone call and would need to restart the phone in order to ensure that the number was then active and all good. In fact, it was noticeable perhaps that all appeared to be okay with the temporary number issued for some time till early afternoon, and then once that was done, it was a case of once I got an email from the new provider, powering off the phone and back on again, it detected the number, then doing so again later once I'd got the 4G settings done. Happy days.

In fact there's also a changeover as such at work too, so today was basically a number of us and myself in a room and looking in more detail at the work that we may need to get done around the planned Windows 10 deployment. In a good way this does mean that they were able to see what we'd managed thus far with our systems and as such there's a general good feedback from one side. I'd ideally like to do some tweaks but the good thing is that we've been able to get some agreement going forward.

I think also that spending the whole day with that did mean I need to try and claim back some focus elsewhere on other tasks at the moment, so may need to try and pull a few favours or consider some other time that I may be able to utilise elsewhere, but in a good way having a new challenge is certainly a positive thing, and it'll be interesting for the next few months to see how that works out. In a good way I know that I've got lots to bring to the table, so here goes..

With the phone now all sorted and good, what I've got phone wise will be good, but I'll probably look at something new SIM free eventually, and then can just swap the SIM over to the new one. I know I wouldn't get much in trade in for my current phone anyway (I did check) but I may just keep it as a spare in case of emergencies - so always good for that. Being an Android diehard, I have some good ideas as to what I'd like, and must admit I've been pretty impressed with The Love's new phone as well.

I did watch The Apprentice tonight, and wow, seriously? Have a superhero called Benji? Wow, that's original isn't it? And then having a comic based on a gender neutral MC with a possibility of speaking French words that most of the contestants don't know and then suggest for over-complicating things by adding words as well? Hmm.. what does concern me is that some of these are supposed to be the real business brains too - okay so they may be under some stress for the programme, but.. meh. I might not watch another one this series to be honest, even though the theme tune, a classic bit of Profokiev re-adapted, is ace and tune of the day.

Tuesday 9th October - The Charts of Change

So, the good news first of all. She Makes War's new album "Brace For Impact" is at number 47 in the midweek album charts. For an artist on their own label, self-funded and self-promoted through a lot of hard work without the multi million pound push of major labels, no television promotion, no stuff like X Factor etc, it shows what hard work can actually do and that made me pretty pleased that it was someone who I like and respect as an artist getting a well deserved position - if it gets higher in the charts when the full weekly chart comes out that'll make me even happier.

In many ways for a lot of independent artists on independent labels, it shows also how the tables turned somewhat over the last thirty years or so. Back in the 1980s for example, it was pretty rare for an indie single to make the singles top 40, but they normally did okay in the album charts as a lot of the diehard fans would buy the album in the first week or two, and generally album sales were a lot less than single sales generally (and also easier to find in a lot of record shops at the time too.)

Consider this: one of my all time favourite bands ever - Pixies. Their defining music was an inspiration (and still is) and was even championed by David Bowie - he performed Debaser when in Tin Machine and later did a superlative cover of Cactus on one of his albums. So when they were first around till their split in 1993, their highest charting single was Planet of Sound. At number 27. Velouria only fared one better at 28 (and cue absolutely low budget bobbins slow motion video of the band jumping over rocks in an attempt to get on Top of the Pops - make that tune of the day in fact) - and the others didn't even make the top 40. Yes, Gigantic, Monkey Gone To Heaven, Dig For Fire, none of them charted.

On the other hand three of their albums all charted - and top 10 in the album charts at that: my favourite of all time Doolittle was number 8, Bossanova number 3 (the highest charting of any Pixies album), and Trompe Le Monde number 7. Like I said, diehards like me had the release date ringed in red to buy them, but definitely showed that the shift was with singles selling more. These days, songs are downloaded and they count towards singles - there's very few physical copies of singles purchased, which is a great shame, but albums always seem to do well on CD for a fair number of reasons.

I must admit then it's a sign of how the shift is - so for these days any truly independent artist on a proper indie label to make the album chart is in many ways a similar agreement to them breaking the singles charts back then - and it's also for me that as it was for many bands in the 1970s, the album really was what they relied on. Imagine prog rock bands releasing a load of singles? No, not happening is it? But it also shows to me that in fact making the charts in any form shows a sign that perhaps people are looking for different discoveries, different music and are more prepared to give the album a go instead. And as far as I'm concerned, that is a good thing really.

Monday 8th October - Migration Monday

So over the last few days I've been working out a new mobile phone pay monthly deal for myself, particularly as The Love In My Heart had herself got a new phone and contract and thus moved away from O2 (so no free texts anymore, boo!) To be honest, I'd been giving it thought for some time but I remembered that my friend who I go to Man City with had switched networks a while back and got a good deal, so I'd checked around and it seemed Giffgaff were decent enough, and you can change whatever you pay per month to get different options each time should you need to.

I weighed it up and I worked out that for a nice £7.50 per month I could get unlimited texts, 2GB of data (bear in mind of course any free wi-fi doesn't use that allowance) and 500 mins of calls. In truth I don't use the mobile a lot for calls anyway to be honest, but that's good to have an allowance as I need. I'd ordered the SIM and also made sure I'd unlocked my current LG handset, which I'll be using initially post-migration with a view that I may even look at an unlocked handset in future that might be a nicer upgrade (and I can trade in my old one - not daft me you know)

Anyway, the new SIM arrived today and so once I signed in, I got that activated and then followed the links to ensure that I could transfer the number across. This did however need a lengthy phone call to O2 in order to ensure I got the PAC migration code, and I got notification that that'll happen later in the week. I must admit it's just easier for me for a number of reasons to keep the phone number I have, although I could have of course just kept the new number too. In any case I did check that the new SIM was being recognised by the phone and it was, so all good there.

I also nipped to HMV Oxford Street in my lunch break (it's walkable from work, bonus) which meant me getting the new Kristin Hersh album on CD. I did already have the download a week before release as a thank you from Kristin to her Strange Angels subscribers (I am one of those) but wanted the proper CD to make sure it counted towards chart positions and to play it loud on the hifi rig. I also noted that both that album and the She Makes War album were in the Featured Artists display on the first floor, which was good to see of course.

Needless to say both albums have been getting rotation, not least as the new She Makes War CD (signed at that, a limited run of around 400 signed copies) arrived at mine too in the post, with the extra pledger stuff I pledged for to follow (limited t-shirt and extra CD with demos/rarities and stuff) - and I'm sure that those who do take the plunge will enjoy. I admit too that I blasted out some Kristin earlier and that sounded excellent on the rig, especially the guitars. In fact I need to blast out "LAX" again, so that's tune of the day for me. Two superb albums released on the same day? Oh yes.

Sunday 7th October - The A6 MARR

The Love In My Heart and I had some nice breakfast, and we fussed over Brian the cat, although he wanted to play out a lot and without the harness on - so he was hissing a bit as The Love was attempting to put the harness on him. He did eventually have a play out but then insisted on attempting to jump over the fence - he was in a funny mood actually. He eventually calmed down and ended up playing with a ball to run off his energy somewhat which was pretty good of him.

Earlier I'd got up early for Channel 4+1 to watch the Japanese Grand Prix - and that turned out to be an interesting race overall. Not least because Lewis Hamilton was in total control from start to finish, but because Sebastian Vettel tried too hard to overtake Max Verstappen, the two collided on Spoon corner and that was the end of that for decent points for Vettel - he got back to 6th but was well behind the winners really. In fact Lewis Hamilton could win the title in the USA, he just needs to win, have Bottas finish second and that would scupper Vettel entirely..

Later on The Love and I headed off, first to John Lewis to have a good mooch around but also so that she could try on some jackets and get an idea of size (just in case she wanted me to get her one as a present at some time). I did also look at some of the men's stuff, but way expensive. What we did also note was that a lot of the lower costing clothing brands were gone - so no Oasis, no Warehouse etc, and instead putting more on the expensive brands. I'm not sure how intentional that was but we definitely noted it.

We were going to head to Lyme Park but instead due to traffic reasons headed on the back roads via Woodford and Poynton and then to Brookside Garden Centre, where The Love picked up a new cat scratching board for Brian, but we also noted an open day for the A6 MARR (Manchester Airport Relief Road) which is effectively the A555. It's finally been extended at both ends so it runs from the airport via Handforth Dean and Bramhall all the way to the other side of Hazel Grove, joining the A6 just before High Lane. It was an open day so you could cycle the road, do a 5K run and there was even a classic car parade too.

In fact we did look at a lot of the classic cars on display including an American police car, old models of car that don't have many left running, and some gorgeous vintage Rolls Royce, Aston Martin and other makes of that era - gorgeous. They did do a parade down the road later, and we saw some of them heading up the A6 later after we'd had a nice lunch at the Fiveways up the road - I had the pie except it wasn't a proper pie (boo to dish with lids!) and The Love had one of the chicken dishes which looked nice. At least there was sticky toffee pudding so that was mine, and it was good!

It was rather sad to say farewell later but we'd had a lovely relaxed weekend, and I had a slightly delayed journey due to the fact that they had to get police officers onto Coach B of the train at Manchester Piccadilly. Still, it was good to kick back, put the headphones on and listen to the rather excellent "London Bites" by She Makes War (make that one tune of the day) from the new album Brace For Impact, which you should all buy. Now. It was good to have that blasting out and that helped the journey home along nicely.

Saturday 6th October - Parent Plan

It was a nice relaxed day today with The Love In My Heart and I both deciding that we'd see our respective parents, and so thought it would be good to do that and then spend a quiet night in at The Love's place. I did get up early to watch the Japanese Grand Prix qualifying, and I had a coffee whilst seeing Lewis Hamilton do the business big time in that one - timing his run for the final session well and avoiding the rain that came down massively later on. I would have wanted rain for the race too, but still made it pretty interesting overall and so that was a good way to start the morning and watch that.

Once we'd had some breakfast and got ourselves ready, and once Brian the cat had had his fuss and play out for a bit, we headed off to see The Love's father first of all. He seemed fine although he was also chatting a bit about the football and about a potential switch from Sky at some point, mainly due to pricing. He did mention that the light in the toilet had gone, and when I checked it was one of those square 2D bulbs that aren't the easiest go get hold of, but as there was a Wilkinsons nearby, I went off to try and get one - they'd normally have it, but no stock. Not good.

The Love and I headed then to Levenshulme to have a look around the market, but also I thought about nipping into one of the discount shops near me and getting some of those bulbs from there. And yes, they had them, and a mere £2 each, so got two of them so there'd be one spare as needed. The Love did the same for her bathroom light (same sort of fitting, just the larger bulb) which proved useful. Anyway, those sorted, we then headed off to see my Mum for a bit.

Mum made us coffee and there were mini Battenberg cakes to have as well, and it was nice to have a good catch up and chat as well and be able to just see what was happening. Mum did mention about her visit in a few weeks time down to me, so I had some ideas that we could do - and there was one thing that she definitely wanted to do, so we thought of that and worked out that was doable. It was actually becoming nicer weather too so that was all good, and nice to see Mum also.

As we got back in The Love's car, I suggested we head back to The Love's father's place and I could fit the bulbs in. In fact we timed it well as he was about to head out when we arrived, so I got the bulb fitted, the light came on and that would mean he would be okay if it was darker later and he needed the loo, so all sorted. We got back to The Love's place and Brian the cat wanted his tea (as he does) and wanted to play out as well so he ended up on the decking for ages and looking out to see what was there.

We had a nice and quiet night in, mainly occupied by Strictly Come Dancing and the Movies week. Some of the acts were pretty good overall, and some weren't so good either. I did really enjoy though Pharrell Williams' "Happy" from Despicable Me 2 (make that tune of the day) with Stacey Dooley and Kevin Clifton having a fun dance, but also then a really good rendition of one of the songs from The Matrix with Seann Walsh and Katya Jones - surprisingly good and even doing the slow motion bits from the film thrown in!

Friday 5th October - Friday Night, Trains Not Alright

I should have known from the moment I left work earlier today that things weren't going to work out so well with all the trains to be honest. It all started as I had left a little bit later than planned when I had to investigate and sort out an issue with one of the distribution point servers and disk space (or lack of) and realised that actually there was a fair bit I could get done and sorted, so managed to do that - but did mean that I was leaving later than planned. I took the usual walk to the tube station and all seemed well so far, although the tube did seem to go a little slower than normal for some reason.

Anyway, I got to the train station to get the train home and that was fine in terms of getting on, but the train was stuck in a queue behind other trains getting to London Bridge and so was crawling into there, and then on the way out was still in a queue, so in fact I worked out that the train I did get ended up being around twelve minutes late getting into East Croydon. Not so good that to be honest. I then managed to get home, get changed and be ready to head out later to take the journey up to Manchester to see The Love In My Heart.

So I got to Victoria fine, I got to Euston fine, but at Euston the departure boards were showing lots of delays, and the concourse was packed. It turned out that there was a signal failure near Cheadle Hulme, which is near Stockport, where one set of tracks go to Stoke-on Trent, the other to Wilmslow and Crewe. What this did mean was that trains from Manchester to London didn't go anywhere for ages, and as a result, trains coming back from London were delayed as a knock on effect.

So off I went to Sainsburys to get some water for the train, but as I almost got to the quick pay tills in an attempt to start paying, all the power to the place went off, and everyone had to leave the store in virtual darkness. In fact all the retail outlets outside Euston had no power, and even some inside - only Marks and Spencer appeared functional so of course everyone was piling in there as you would expect. I got water from there and then eventually walked down to Platform 16 to the train, which was delayed by around 15-20 minutes.

The journey back was eventful due to more delays and I had a woman with a little terrier dog sat next to me the whole way too - and it was one of those yappy dogs too. I had the iPod on and spent a fair bit of time listening to the new She Makes War album which helped a lot to divert me from what was going on elsewhere. The wonderful "Then The Quiet Came" is tune of the day - I remember seeing this live last year and thinking it was excellent then - and proven so much more on record. I can't wait to get the physical CD in the post that I've pledged for - so that's going to be ace.

I eventually got to Manchester Piccadilly half an hour late, but The Love In My Heart was waiting for me (aww, bless, she is fab) and we soon headed back to hers for a late night chatter and general fuss over Brian the cat too - and he was being especially cute whilst wanting a love from his Mummy. We did watch a little bit of telly and then headed to bed - it had been a long day for me and a journey on the train really did add to that feeling. Thankfully a much more chilled out weekend is planned..

Thursday 4th October - Ben Daglish Has Left Us

As I mentioned last night, I'd heard from a couple of friends and online that the legendary computer game musician (especially on the Commodore 64), Ben Daglish, had passed away, and had done so on Monday. I knew that he wasn't fully well and had gone through a fair bit of illness in the last few years, but didn't realise perhaps how bad it was and how sudden everything happened. His wife Sarah had posted online and it was a really touching and affectionate post that she had written, full of positives and realising how much joy he had brought to so many of us.

And that was so true. As a child and someone who had suffered a lot of bullying, computer gaming was my chance to both escape the harsh world around me and to immerse myself in something else instead. For me, when I owned a Commodore 64, the music was what set it apart from other 8-bit computers at the time, the SID chip made some gorgeous analogue sounds and it really did feel like a proper instrument in use. And for those who could make it sing, it certainly made a difference. Ben was most definitely one of those, without question.

In fact, many of us were already aware from demos on the Compunet network of Ben along with Antony Crowther (collectively WEMUSIC) releasing many demos of their tunes, and that certainly got them noticed over time. In fact one of the first games I remember playing was Gremlin Graphics' "Percy The Potty Pigeon" which Ben had re-interpreted the theme from All Creatures Great and Small on, and did an excellent job. Many games released by Gremlin over the next few years had Ben's hand in, including the Breakout clone Krakout, where the bouncy tunes gave it a really happy cheery feel, and Footballer of the Year, where a lot of the copies of the game were bugged and crashed out the main theme around 1:20 or so (those with correct versions do play the song as intended and it was good too.)

But perhaps two games for me stood out, for different reasons, as a pinnacle of what Ben could do on the C64. The first was Trap, a game which was based on a WEMUSIC demo called The Gladiator, where the main theme was played to time with a gladiator drumming, and which was hidden inside the game itself. It was nine minutes plus of atmosphere, and that was special (not to mention the audio tape). And of course The Last Ninja, where he and the also departed Anthony Lees made eleven superlative tunes for the game. When you loaded the game from tape, the initial loading theme for The Wastelands had some beautiful Oriental sounding instruments, and set the tone perfectly for the game ahead - still a favourite of mine to this day and tune of the day for obvious reasons.

I could of course rattle on memories of so many, including the co-operation with the legendary Rob Hubbard on the title theme of Auf Wiedersehen Monty, the remix of a Hubbard classic for Thing Bounces Back, but the puzzle game Deflektor with its excellent theme took a life of its own years later, being covered by retro gaming music bands and even having Ben on stage with them performing it, and Ben getting fans to sing out "Dayo Dayo!" during parts of the main verses also. So many memories, and I could easily write so much about the memories at just retro gaming gigs alone, never mind.

But it should also be noted Ben was a skilled musician, being in bands such as Cold Flame and Loscoe State Opera where he could go all folk and pretend to be Ian Anderson from Jethro Tull playing the flute (one of the said bands did Tull covers, so Ben could definitely do that!) - and as a compere at gaming events, he'd have the audience in the palm of his hand as he loved the stage and theatre generally - his wife Sarah had an influence there too I think. He was also a big fan of the composer Ronnie Hazlehurst who produced many BBC sitcom theme tunes such as Sorry, and would promote his work wherever he could. Such a personality but underneath it all, one of the most down to earth and friendliest folks around who respected and admired the fans for keeping the memories alive and was humbled by how much his tunes are still loved so much.

I could go on, but it filled me with sadness just as much as when Richard Joseph had passed away, and Richard was involved in the prog rock band CMU in the 70s and had a musical history before computer games, and again another great character to talk to. I could talk to Richard, Ben and Jon Hare about the 70s prog rock music I was brought up on, and we'd all have a common ground outside of computer games, and that perhaps for me is just as much a lasting memory.

Wednesday 3rd October - Birdhouse at the Barbican

Tonight after work I headed home, grabbed something to eat for tea, and then headed back to East Croydon to get the train to Farringdon, and then the tube one stop to Barbican, as I was seeing They Might Be Giants tonight at the venue. Amazingly, the last time I went there was for a retro gaming exhibition way back in 2002, many years before my move for work. And I still remember the Barbican estate as it was then, a real brutalist piece of architecture that just would be a perfect setting for so many films based in the 1970s. In fact renting a place there would be upwards of £2k a month, due to its central location.

I walked through the paths along the upper levels and down the stairs to the Barbican Centre, where tonight's gig was taking place in the just under 2,000 capacity main hall. I was in the balcony level but the view was good from there and also reasonably central with the stage almost straight in front, and it looked like it was going to be good. The music playing in between the band had the likes of Sandie Shaw's superb "Girl Don't Come" and someone behind me was singing along as well as me - not just me who has taste then (and for the record, that's one of my top five Sandie songs!)

So tonight was going to be two sets from They Might Be Giants, which would be a good lengthy time overall with them playing. For me there were a number of songs on my wish list, so imagine my delight when early on, they started playing Your Racist Friend. I love the song because of the lyrics: "I feel like a hypocrite talking to you and your racist friend" and delivered with gusto big time, so tune of the day for definite. There was also a lovely different key version of the classic Birdhouse In Your Soul, and in fact as a nice addition, the rather brilliant Particle Man with the middle part interspersed with Sia's "Chandelier" as well, which had everyone with a big grin on their face. Remember kids, Triangle Man hates Person Man...

The set also had a number of album tracks from the Flood album including Dead in the first half and also the rather brilliant Letterbox (complete with accordian taking centre stage) in the second half. Lots of the new album stuff from the I Like Fun album including the title track, Applause Applause Applause and plenty of lovely witty songs such as Memo To Human Resources and perhaps most surprisingly but in a nice way, Whistling In The Dark during the first encore. The band all played really well and the two Johns (Flansburgh and Linnell) really did play off each other wonderfully well, showing plenty of warmth to the audience and their band too.

The encore at the very end was also rather seminal - they played the song Hey Mr. DJ, I Thought You Said We Had a Deal, but did it so that it would at the end replicate the fade out that you would hear on album, and sure enough they went to do it and then did the fade. It was pretty cool actually, and a good way to close things off after two and a bit hours or so overall of some rather excellent music, lots of really lovelty moments to make you smile and a definite plus for them seeing the Barbican sold out to the rafters with people enjoying what they did. I can definitely recommend that you go if you get the chance to.

As I wended my way home, first on the tube to Warren Street and then onwards towards Victoria (as no trains from Farringdon to East Croydon for over half an hour) I noted that both in my email and Twitter that a rather sad event had occurred, which I'll mention in tomorrow's diary, primarily because there's so much I thought about on the way home about the news I'd heard. It was still though a really good evening of music which made me realise just how awesome gigs are when a good band does the business.

Tuesday 2nd October - The 5:55 Kick Off

I got out of work a little later than planned, but that was okay, as I knew that I wasn't realistically going to make it home in time for 5:55pm anyway. I had done my research and knew that a pub not far from work did show the live football on the telly, and it had BT Sport to boot, which was a good thing. This meant that effectively I could see the game on the way home, as the pub was close to the tube station I set off from going homeward anyway, a definite plus point. I made it to the pub, a pint of Black Sheep Best was mine and off we go.

And off to concede a goal to Hoffenheim at their place inside a minute as well, was not amused about that one little bit. In fact, the game had barely kicked off but from a throw they got the ball forward and the defence was left stationary as the shot rifled low and hard under Ederson with around forty five seconds on the clock. No one expected that and so what already was a potentially tough task got that little bit more difficult, and it was a case of City attempt to settle down a bit and start to play.

Thankfully I didn't have to wait long for the equaliser. David Silva who was once again immense put a gorgeous ball through to Leroy Sané on the left. With the keeper approaching he side footed it towards Sergio Agüero who rifled the shot home and so seven minutes in, already 1-1. The first half went the way of City although on a couple of occasions the refereeing didn't help, Agüero had a long range effort well saved by the Hoffenheim keeper, and he also shot over and hit a shot wide when the ball bounced unexpectedly to him after good work through the middle from Sané. It looked like we just had to score at some point.

I nipped round the corner to KFC to go and have some tea during the half time break, and then went back into the pub with another Black Sheep and again got a spot by the telly so I could see the second half. They didn't have any audio so had the likes of David Bowie and Kate Bush in the background when watching the game - did feel slightly surreal having the brilliant Wuthering Heights whilst City surged forward (make said classic tune of the day) and it was a case of the referee being as bent as anything again, denying Leroy Sané a clear penalty when fouled and not allowing us to play.

However, with a few minutes left on the clock, the ball came in from the left and the Hoffenheim defender took one touch too many on the ball. David Silva had robbed it off him and slotted home a beauty into the bottom corner and that was an excellent finish. 2-1 to City and that's how it finished - not the best performance ever, I know, but it still did the job and that was important. In fact considering how appallingly bad Manchester United played against Valencia later, taking a win was definitely a bonus. Roll on the back to back games against Shakhtar Donetsk now..

Monday 1st October - Unbelievable

Two years ago today I was at Indie Daze 3 at Kentish Town Forum and having an absolute blast, a full day of the bands I like. Lots of love felt all day for Jim Bob from Carter USM, Pop Will Eat Itself (the main reason I went), and also terrific sets from Echobelly and EMF who were headlining. Having the encore of "Unbelievable" with Richard and Graham from PWEI, Mary Byker from PWEI (and Gaye Bykers on Acid, who were also playing that day), Jim Bob from Carter, it was just brilliant, and a real joyous end to what was a great day all round organised by proper lovely people too.

It's also a rather sad day today and somewhat unbelievable in a different way that Geoffrey Hayes, the host of Rainbow, had passed away. As a child who would come home from school at lunch time, having the likes of that to keep me entertained and a welcome distraction was just the thing as lunch was being made for me. It was a perfect foil to develop language and social skills for children whilst all being nice and warm and friendly with your favourite either being Bungle, Zippy or George. In fact the lit up Santa for Christmas outside Manchester Town Hall is known affectionately as Zippy Santa due to the likeness from said programme.

Geoffrey always you felt had to keep the peace somewhat, especially with the particularly disruptive Zippy especially (later voiced by Roy Skelton, the voice of the Daleks no less). Geoffrey also wasn't the first host - he had replace David Cook after a year but soon Thames realised that the right decision was made, and Geoffrey went on to host Rainbow between 1973 and 1992, some longevity that which showed he was doing plenty right. I think it also went on to become a favourite for my brothers and sisters as they grew up too, as the formula worked well, so why do too much to it?

Of course part of the appeal was the classic theme, originally more in a Jethro Tull folk style by the folk group Telltale, which was souped up a little for the TV show itself, and tune of the day. If you do hear the single, there's lots of bits you don't get to hear on the telly, but somehow you can understand its almost prog folk roots, something Ian Anderson could have easily put a flute to. There was a whole LP released on that bastion of quality Music for Pleasure back in 1973, which I can only imagine the price of which will shoot up now (as always happens when someone associated with the recording dies.) It does of course have the closing riff from the telly show too, so naturally a classic.

I think too that sometimes with all the multiples of channels on telly, it's easy to forget that way back then you had three channels, and that was it. Rainbow was a perfect show for parents and children alike to love and adore as their own, with songs to sing along to, characters that you enjoyed and best of all perhaps, a real sense of that's how things would happen at home, not just in the rainbow house. And the iconic line drawn cartoon for the opening theme - just wonderful. The rainbow might be above the streets and houses, but with a blackened cloud in mourning.