Sunday, December 16, 2007

A poke from behind

Today I got this in my gmail inbox:

" Dear future self,
I'm reminding you about your stated goal on 43 things,
to "Quit Smoking". How's it going?


Your past self "

It was from a social networking site called 43Things.

I can't remember setting it up but I doubt a Superbrain computer did it off it's own bat.

So what do I say to my past self?

Yeayyyy!!!! I have actually gorn and done it - I have not smoked since whenever it was - April 2006.

I still have the odd one in my dreams and I occasionally make jokey remarks about needing one if something particularly stressful has taken place - but yes Past Erik, the Erik of Christmas Present is currently a non-smoking Erik. Can you believe it?

Thanks to tarnie at flickr for "xmas past"

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

The Chicken Party

Krunchy Fried Chicken
Originally uploaded by hugovk
I was busily not helping around the house last weekend when I heard R deal with some visitors to the front door.

I later found out they had been canvassers for the forthcoming local elections - R mentioned her annoyance with one particular council policy but being the conscientious democrat that she is, she took a leaflet outlining the main planks they were standing on for her to study later .

It contained one of those questions that it is often unwise for a politician to ask. It went something like this - "did you know the Council is engaged in a major redevelopment program for Plumstead?" I thought the obvious answer would be no. But reading the detail it mentioned the refurbishment of shopfronts and it slowly dawned on me that I had in fact noticed it. I had been a bit bemused to see that the Chick-Chicken shop had renewed its hoarding a few weeks ago. A few days later I noticed another shop that sells an odd mixture of things including fried chicken had also had its sign renewed. I believe I even chucked a little comment up on my Facebook status line along the lines of "Erik is wondering if the refurbishment of all the fried chicken shops in Plumstead is a sign of development or retrenchment."

That's what the development programme seems to amount to anyway - at least as far as appearances are concerned. (It's just occurred to me that I saw a particularly dodgy estates agents had decided to have a a paint job-struck me as odd at the time). For a bold development program the council seemed to be making some odd choices as to what needed improving. The Chick-chicken shop had a perfectly adequate sign anyway. After all who needs a good shopfront when your marketing team have come up with such an excellent brand name?

Picture: Krunchy Fried Chicken
Originally uploaded by hugovk

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Crimes and Misdemeanours

I've been feeling tired all week. I was woken in the night by Mr Scuttles who has taken over from John and Wayne apparently (did I tell you that Wayne was found looking uncomfortably dead in a trap in the bathroom?) Mr Scuttles was making a fair bit of noise - it sounded like he was trying on my hiking boots at one point.I made a mental note to kill him then went back to sleep. In fact my sleep has been relatively undisturbed but I still feel in need of more.

Is it the stresses and strains of the jury service I have just completed? I'm pretty sure I am not supposed to mouth off about the details but we found him guilty and the whole thing was pretty lame. There was a brutal murder closely connected to it but it was itself a mini-saga about the possession of controlled medecines. It was a bit unsavoury but I certainly didn't lose any sleep over it - it made me laugh a bit and it made me feel sad a bit but it was hardly the The Texas Chainsaw Massacre.

Perhaps it's the troubles faced by Civil Servants this week? I am a bit annoyed that all read/write access to DVD drives and support for flash drives has been removed at work. Getting rid of the ability to copy to them makes sense of sorts - in fact you needed special permissions to write to CD/DVD before the debacle as far as I could work out. But not being able to read from them seems beside the point. We are all going around self-satisfied that it would never happen in our own particular corner of the world and have definitely not felt the need to pull duvets over our heads either metaphorically or actually.

Was it the dismal awfulness of the England versus Croatia game? Did that take it out of me? When I heard Israel beat Russia, coming back from my Irish friend Mariadphod's Birthday drink, I leapt up in the train , spun round and shouted the result down the carriage and one hundred Nigerians,Poles,Lithuanians,Indians, and Finns looked back at me blanky. Two sweet old ladies from Ghana asked me what I was excited about but I am not sure they understood. The Italian and Australian to my right at least knew there was a game a called football but were much more interested in Rugby. After this realisation that no one in England really cared about what happened to England's football team the defeat was a lot easier to take.

Perhaps its all due to not enough cigarettes all round.

Mr Scuttles certainly would not want to be poking around my smoke-ridden bedroom risking passively contracted mouse cancers.

If I had been desperate for a cigarette during our deliberations the jury would have moved along a bit quicker.

I would be getting regular breaks from my computer for fag breaks.

I could have enjoyed a quiet smoke instead of annoying all my fellow passengers.

I bet more members of the Croatia squad smoked than their English opponents.

And I am missing out on the enlivening effects of the plant itself - I now have to rely on the narrow gauge of caffeine that irritates more than it soothes.

A ghastly image of Fag Free Britain arises before my eyes - knackered and stressed and generally useless at everything.

Thanks to BlackScarletLove for the photo

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Starlight Foundation

These are the links to donation forms the Starlight Foundation in the UK and the Australian Foundation respectively. You can click back to their homepages to see the kind of work they do brightening the lives of children with serious conditions.

The UK Starlight

The Australian Starlight Homepage - click through to make a donation

Friday, November 09, 2007

Down Under

Melbourne 2006 : Flowers
Originally uploaded by simv
I have just found out about the sudden death of my uncle David.

He emigrated with Margaret and the children to Australia many years ago but I remember staying at their house, that David built himself, in Woodstock.

I last saw him at my cousins wedding and he seemed happier than ever.

I am glad that he got to meet my partner before he died - they got on like a house on fire.

My thoughts are with Margaret, Christine, Kevin and Colin and all the family.

He was buried this afternoon in Melbourne.

Gifts have been requested to go to the Starlight Foundation, a hospice for terminally ill children.

When I can find an obvious link that's suitable for UK citizens I will post it up.

Thursday, November 08, 2007

The Gr8 Heelr

I came across the following on my internet travels today.

I have no idea what search terms led me to it. Its a Bebo blog.

"Today was ok quiet wiv out becky though, she went to london 2 get a photo shoot done. had grease rehearsel after school that was funny joey didnt half look soooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo fit!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! becky would hav loved 2 be there as she would hav gone all mental coz danny didnt half look cool he look exactly like the lad off grease the part he is playing. danny said 2 me in english is BBT in and i said no she had gone 2 london he shouted yes and smiled.i hav had nothing 2day 2 eat coz i had noone 2 go in2 the canteen wiv me. i am so pissed off wiv chloe i hope i batter her she so has pissed me off i h8 her 4 it i wish i had never told her that little bitch any way fingers r hurting now so im gonna give it a rest
posted by name edited

1 Comment:

(name edited)said... 981 days ago

hey babe lovin ur journal i still fink that dan is sooooooooooooooooooooooo fit even if he did say yes
(and for those who dont know bbt is becky big tits)yes thats me becky big tits"

So far so good.

My tenuous excuse for posting this is that it was the last post I could find for this particular blogger - it was 981 days ago.

It makes me wonder if things have been patched up wiv chloe. I also wonder whether joey still looks soooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo fit or whether he has lost his charm.

981 days is a long time. It is longer than the period I have not been smoking. A lot longer - I estimate about 411 days longer.

Fingers r hurting now.

(Thanks to Toxic Cherry Girl for the pic)

Monday, October 29, 2007

Get it off my chest

Originally uploaded by taylorbrinton
I was going to write pithily about the vast array of chicken joints in Plumstead but I think I must have got bird 'flu and just sending in this is about the best I can do. Once again I'm pretty grateful for having given up smoking at times like these. Its very odd as the cold seems to have gone into my chest and I am having these unusual things called coughs - chesty coughs in fact. It brings back memories. Most of my coughing was pretty low-key as a smoker. Small irritating little affairs they were. R was amazed that I didn't seem to cough at all. She suspected that I didn't inhale properly as she remembers always have a big coughing session every morning when she was a smoker. Others might not have noticed my coughs but I certainly did - and now this little virus has reminded me of something I now largely live without. Luckily.

Sunday, October 07, 2007

geeking and squeaking

R decided to have a peek under the computer room "day" bed and thought that there was a mouse dead in the trap. She was right.

I was too busy to remove it immediately. A neighbour's computer had a suspiciously slow connection to the internet and I had undertaken to have a look at it. I have done a help-outs at work but this was the real thing. I didn't quite get to the bottom of it but whilst I was not quite getting to the bottom of it I noticed a mouse making its way round the skirting board of the room and then disappearing.

As I was trying to determine whether it was the same error I had had with explorer.exe trying to access inaccessible folders or whether it was in fact a trojan I was also juggling with the thought that the non-humane trap was also empty. The mouse had somehow released itself and ambled off to sniff out crumbs at its leisure.

The trap wasn't empty and I delivered a complicated lesson about a workaround for the slow connection issue. Progress was made in all departments - apart from that particular mouse's "survive as long as possible" department. I wonder if it was Wayne or John.

R has laid another trap. We are on a roll. We will not rest till all their necks are snapped. Ha Ha !!!

Friday, October 05, 2007

Well smack my little bald head

I was messing around a bit with the template today - mainly so I could stick that Movie thing in my sidebar - its supposed to 1) update movies I have thought about whilst browsing 2) connect interestingly and pertinently to other sites. If you click the little blue squares you're given a few options to explore further. I tried the War of the Worlds option and was taken to YouTube and this clip. I love being productive at my PC.

You'll notice this traditonal hyperlink link has the same blue square located just to the right of it...and so it goes on...for ever...

Be warned...this video contains scary scenes evocative of the Seventies

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Sunday, September 30, 2007

Interesting Dream Last Night

smoking kills
Originally uploaded by engintepe
Interesting Dream Last Night

I was smoking last night. In fact I had been smoking for a period of months - about 4-5 a day for a period of months whilst making out on this blog with the Quit-o-meter that I was completely clean.

I was enjoying my smoke, feeling a bit disappointed that I had relapsed but at the same time confident I would be able to go back to being a non-smoker. I was unsure how I was going to adjust the Quit-o-meter if I was to confess via the blog that I had had relapses. I was totally confused by all this when I was waking up. It took a bit of time for the relief to kick with the realisation it was just a dream.

Its just short of a year and a half since I gave up.

(PS No thanks to either Flickr or Blogger or both for having such a flimsy blogging set-up. I hate re-writing posts).

It's quite simple..

We were hunting round the reclamation yards of South East London yesterday and popped into the Elephant & Castle Shopping Centre. The Elly Centre is not what you'd call state of the art and the range of shops is limited to say the least. But I have enjoyed those few trips I have made. There's a definite ambience about the place on a weekend morning. When R and I lived nearby we saw one of those editorial pieces promoting nearby shops and there was an article about the centre and it was what originally inspired us to go along. When we got there I found it chimed with some positive reports from a friend about interesting goings-on on the top floor.

So we were desperate for a nice coffee yesterday and there was nothing decent until we got to Waterloo-unless we stopped at the Elephant of course. We ended going to both the "it's quite simple: brilliant Coffee" outlet and the Colombian La Bodeguita cafe bar. Our first coffees had been so good, really good, but we had finished them before getting back in the car so needed another. It meant we could do a direct comparison between the two stalls.

Although it had the advantage of meeting a desperate need the first round of coffees, from "Brilliant Coffee" were a clear winner in my opinion. Mine was a medium caramel cappuchino -the froth must have been made from full cream Jersey milk and had a solidity to it that made taste like an impossibly delicate meringue. The chocolate topping was spot on.

La Bodeguita beats the Brilliant Coffee hands down on charm - the service point is like walking into Santa's grotto. You are immediately transported away from the grot that is Elephant. This is the place to come and chill out for a while - there's even a library if your Spanish is up to it. It's also about 50 pence cheaper for a similar round. The coffee is good - they do are decaff though R found the authentic bitter cocoa a bit of a surprise. The take-aways were served extremely hot so we were far away from shop before we finished them. The extra shot I had ordered seemed to be missing from my cappo (and from the price) and the two sugars were hiding down the bottom somewhere. The flavour was there, if a bit subtle, but the froth was half-hearted. A decent enough coffee though and probably not their speciality. I'll try the hot chocolate next time. But still a lovely place and definitely worth a visit if for some unknown reason you find yourself in the Elly. But if you're just after simply brilliant coffee to take away just read the sign.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Smokers and non-smokers agree: Bans are okay in public places

Ok. I'm feeling lazy. And I told you I'm obsessed. So what?
clipped from
Smokers and non-smokers agree: Bans are okay in public places
Smokers also willing to pay price for tobacco-friendly flights

As smoking bans continue to make headlines in Germany, Australia and the UK, findings from international market research firm Synovate's latest survey show that 80% of respondents in 15 countries across the globe are in favour of such bans, primarily because of the positive influence these are perceived to have upon public health.

Smoking bans win global support

More than 70% of people believe that smoking in public is fine as long as there is adequate ventilation or designated smoking spaces, according to the Synovate study.

Read more
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Thursday, September 20, 2007

Clipmarks-My Latest Obsession

You can only fully use this with IE6 + or Firefox or Flock browsers. I had it for yonks on FF but had given up on it- now all of a sudden it makes sense. Its now on my IE7 too (though the toolbar doesn't integrate so well). It is there to help me waste even more time. Also the printing snippets thing in this article sounds like its actually useful - it hadn't occurred to me until I came across this article- using Clipmarks of course.
clipped from
Computing in the real world
COMPANY: Clipmarks
The extension reviewed here is one of the ones that we simply couldn't live without.

That's where Clipmarks comes in. Whether you want to save to a file, to a shared clipping website with a Digg-alike rating system, or to print. All you do is click on a toolbar button and move your mouse around the screen as various page elements get boxed in - one click and they're all clipped. Best yet, you can compile multiple clips from multiple pages and save them when you're ready. We find it works best when you want to print information from multiple pages or sites, but only that which is pertinent. If you save clips to, there's a pitiful character count limit; on the positive side, you can quickly build a searchable database of your own preferred web content.

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Saturday, September 15, 2007

Wass den fecken?

And now Bloggers inviting me to anfahren nach meinen Bloggeposten or something -aaaaAAArrRGGHH. And I've got to enter some poncey little word verification again and it will reject it again...and it did reject me again I was only joking. Sob sob snarl snarl. And agin - right the next one is nycdaeva there is no way I will get that wrong anymore than I got the others wrong. And it did reject me. The torture must STOP.

Flickring out

That is the last time I use that blog option on Flickr. It may not be Flickr's fault but if you change one character from the original post you lose the title and link beneath the picture. I am sure an html wizard can fix it but my various "messings-with" have never worked. It is something to do with the total amount of characters in the post. Anyway I have had to let the typos go in the post below. There's always going to be one or two and I'm not always that concerned about accuracy but I can lose the will to live adding a single apostrophe sometimes.It involves re-acquiring two URLS and creating two links to credit the photo and I think sod copyright and sod Lynne Truss and sod blogging and sod life and sod mice.

Hampstead Heath expands to Woolwich

Originally uploaded by Arthur Pewty
I know what all the Gormley talk has been about Woolwich now. Actually they are by Peter Burke - though finding that out was a harder google than I imagined. Flickrs direct blogging tool is such a pain as I have to give the full link to the page that gave the answer and I won't be able to edit it without messing up the photographers credit. The link is the Cass Sculpture Foundation site. Such a pain Flickr/Blogger/Whoever!

edit - yes I did edit this anyway as it was totally incomprehensible and though I can see the links under the photo as I write I bet they will be gone if I click PublishPost. So here they are, painstakingly recreated. The picture is enigmaticallyentitled HPN_0037.JPG and the artist is Arthur Pewty.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

The trap shuts

Last night we were disturbed by some loud frantic rattling. R was convinced it was coming from inside our bedroom. I surmised quickly (not bad for 3am at any rate) that the noise was from the next door room and that the mouse had got caught in the humane trap . They work on a pivot system - they smell the peanut butter at the far end of the tube - he then enters the tube, the weight tilts the tube forward and the door shuts behind him.

The noise was almost disturbing. He went quiet suddenly. I thought he might have died from a heart attack. We heard some more noise -less desperate- later on and managed to go back to sleep.

I got up and checked it this morning. The trap had indeed closed shut. Victory at last. My earlier dismissive comments about the trap's usefulness were instantly retracted and I did a "huntsman returning in glory" dance up and down the stairs. I had to go to work and didn't have time to release him straight away. I got home and thought I better not delay any further - he might suffocate or something. I got my gloves on placed the trap in a bag and armed with a camera set off to the nearest open ground. I think I understand the warning on the label a bit better now.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Forward to the Past

I'm just slightly worried that when I went to hospital on Monday they didn't discuss my latest blood test but instead pronounced me dead. England has just won again with Owen and Heskey as frontmen. This can't be true can it?

I have also come back home after the match and seen the builders are still here working away.

Forget it. I'm dead. I'm definitely dead. Ate a bad prawn or something.

Life was good whilst it lasted but not as amusing as it is now. If you are still alive and receiving this post via a seance or something then "hello and fear not - the afterlife is serene and witty. Especially the Emile Heskey bits. Love to mum and dad. Bad to Wayne and John- but don't kill 'em or they'll end up here."

Tuesday, September 11, 2007 crash bang wallop

If you click on this image you will see how my plans to displace YouTube and Facebook are coming along. According to Google-Analytics even I don't visit this site any more. Sigh.

Meanwhile John and Wayne have got themselves ear-muffs and this time it's personal. I need to get tooled up for round two though - I was far too lily-livered in the first round. The humane trap actually says on its packaging something like "due to the difficulty of capturing live mice this product might not work". Can you imagine that with a CD player - "due to the difficulty of digitalising music this product might just transmit a dull whirring noise".

And as for the Sonic Devices - pah! At least the veggie-traps tell you they don't work. I am going down to a bog standard fancy goods shop and buying a shed-load of conventional traps which I am going to manically lay around every corner of the house à la Tom & Jerry, then I am going to sit me down in a comfy chair with a beer and wait till I hear that sound...then it's bye bye guys - eat trap!

Thanks to for the pic

Monday, September 10, 2007

Liberal Fags

You often hear it said in the blogosphere that the BBC is not entirely free of truth destroying tendencies. Well you probably don't hear it expressed like that exactly - usually its getting flack for its liberal slant or words to that effect. Today it decided to address the imbalance with a solid piece of social authoritarian propaganda.

Apparently since the smoking ban in Scotland was introduced death has been cured. Well almost - there have been dramatic decreases in admissions to hospital for heart attacks. The kids at the Beeb who run the show seemed to have loved this and gave it carte blanche in their usual fashion- slip in one probing question to show impartiality then lay on the "truth" with a trowel.

The people's reaction up in Scotland, or something else, must really be worrying the anti-smoking establishment up there for them to come up with this poor stuff. Where are all the passive smoking type diseases that everyone was going on about? All of sudden it's about reduced heart attacks not preserving the lungs of Christian trumpeters.

There's obviously something that doesn't add up here - we'll see if any blogs pick up on it.

Sunday, September 09, 2007

Disturbance Works

working mouse
Originally uploaded by Flecto
We've got visitors at the house. The builders are in and the house seems to be disappearing before our eyes. Will a new house emerge or is the whole frail structure just going to vanish?

Alongside the builders John and Wayne have decided to up their profile. These are the names I have given the mouse infestation that has appeared over the last few days.

I couldn't decide on the best approach to controlling them - we found a dead mouse who had evidently been poisoned when we stripped out the kitchen. Its facial expression was a bit like something out of the Ring. I decided against poison. So the bedrooms are equipped with sonic mouse repellents and both humane and chopper mouse traps. I figure giving the little blighters half a chance is better than none at all. If either Wayne or John is daft enough to walk into the humane trap I will take him far away and he can starve there. As for the sonic blasters devices they are just a classic method of displacing anti-social behaviour rather than stopping it.

I heard one of them (perhaps there only is one) gnawing away at bag the other night so put a sonic device there - the next night he appeared in the neighbouring room. So another one was added to that room. Today I saw him in the garden. Perhaps the nasty noise from all corners has finally driven him out. As there is one in the garden as well perhaps he's run out of options and is slowly being driven insane, Avengers-fashion, by the unrelenting psychedelic torture sounds all around him.

Its not easy on your conscience this extermination lark.

Thanks to Flecto at Flickr for "Working Mouse"

Sunday, August 26, 2007

Put that funnel out

As time progressed with giving up smoking I had a lot of "first time I went there and did not smoke" moments. Now I am having lots of "first time I have gone there and no one was allowed to smoke there at all" moments. Yesterday it was East Thurrock Football ground (an extremely open-air environment), waiting for the connection at Dartford, smoking on the platform is now banned, visiting two pubs in Gravesend where everyone was outside(well it was hot) and then the ferry over to Tilbury. Perhaps that accounted for the ferryman's grumpiness. "Can't even smoke arn me own cussed ferry" I can imagine him muttering. Standing on the deck of his ferry is going to kill no one passively or otherwise. It's only a short journey so passengers don't have to forgo much for long - but he's stuck on it for hours on end and has to forgo a fag even if he has no passengers.

Rose again

And here's another strange thing. I wrote a couple of posts back about the demise of Rose's Free House. Well I was drinking in it again last night. Apparently it was only closed for a couple of days. When I first went in it I thought Fullers had taken it over (this would have guaranteed its continuance in the mid-term).

It hasn't been taken over by Fullers thought - it is under new management and they have decided to go with that brewer as well as stocking a guest ale.

So if you want a decidedly un-Woolwich like chill out real ale joint to continue I think you had better get down there and experience and support it now. Otherwise the next closing down might be for real.

A little learning can be...

Commuting in the other day there were three girls discussing an acquaintance's welfare. They were a bit incredulous about the bruise on her cheek being caused by a kiss from her boyfriend. Apparently this had been a very unlucky young lady who had had a string of bad'uns as boyfriends. The three girls briefly speculated on why that should be. "I reckon its because she got good GCSE's" one of them stated authoritatively.

Sunday, July 29, 2007

When it says here that half of people start smoking at school I assume they mean Infant School?

Thinking a bit more about Rose's - it was just fine minus it's traditional smokey atmosphere today (and on my more recent visits) though I can't help noticing one of my favorite pubs has closed within a short time of the ban. Perhaps it's just coincidence.

And something else I am noticing...people smoking in the street. I used to avoid it at some points and places in my life as it was an invitation to be harassed by a beggar. Now millions of people are snatching their fags between the non-smoking location they have just left and the non-smoking location they are about to arrive at.

And finally what are we to make of this tragic story?
A Rose by Another Name

Went to have a last drink at the Prince Albert aka Rose's this afternoon. R and I had encountered it a few years ago when we were visiting the area (a tip from the CAMRA supporting Kev and Mrs T I think) and have since enjoyed the great beer, Jackie's brilliant rolls and its well known 'time-warp' atmosphere whenever chance has allowed.

When contemplating the move out here it played a positive role - we could fantasise about soaking in its mellow atmoshere on some weekend evening.

Then we move here and R comes across it in an auction website and today its history. Not so much history - more a small collection of happy memories for me and R and a much larger collection for all the long-term locals who came to pay their last respects today.

It was extraordinary in this day and age for any type of retail outlet to go out of its way to look as if it was closed - Gordon's Wine Bar in Villiers Street could be another example. Whether it was deliberate or not I don't know but there was almost a Narnia feeling in walking through its front door. The contrast between the warm womb of the place and the harsher goings on outside couldn't be more extreme. I spent one summer afternoon sipping beer there listening to the biggest of barnies between a mad bus driver, an insane car driver and what seemed like a hundred hot and bothered kebab customers from the shop over the road. The door was wide open and there was nothing between us and it but the goings-on still seemed very far away - no more real than as if someone had started showing a Spike Lee's "Do the Right Thing" on the uncharacteristically 21st century plasma screen.

Even timelessness, it seems, must come to an end.

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Wednesday, July 25, 2007

In the olden days when you moved to a new area you perhaps got hold of a local map and plan yourself a little walkabout to familiarise yourself with your new surroundings.

Now thanks to Google (Windows Live does something similar) you can peruse the rooftops of your neighbours often with quite a bit of detail.

It is a great bit of software and hardly a new one. I was moved to throw up this quick post because it seems to be performing much better nowadays in Ubuntu than my first experiences of it which were painfully slow despite working fine with XP. So hooray to someone - Google or Canonical I don't know which.

PS - Does it look familiar to anyone?

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

From the East to the West

It was time for the M and R's annual barby last Saturday so I prepared for a longer than usual journey. I was also up for a comparison of train services which is exciting isn't it? I had been discussing it with my friends on the Common (upstairs) and though they acknowledged SET had improved it was as nothing compared to services out of Waterloo proper. My outbound journey seemed to confirm that the pootling along in the old jallopy to London Bridge then a change then to Waterloo East then to Waterloo and then- bang!- I am on the Bullet train to Surbiton catching my breath in a top notch carriage with not a scratched window in sight. (getting a ticket at Waterloo was a bit of a mare though - almost as bad as Victoria). I get off the train and jump aboard, after a short wait, a reasonably unvandalised 281 which took me straight to the burning, if slightly damp, flesh.

(Argh ...Opera in Ubuntu didn't like this webpage (or vice versa) for some reason...rudely interrupted again. Switched to Firefox)

So South West wins round one. The next day with a bad head, probably induced by all that burger fat, I start the return leg. Again a 281 appears quickly and gives me an attractive ride up and down Surbiton Hill, parking straight outside the white facade of the station. Then it looked like the problems were about to start. Surbiton on a Sunday has always had millions of passengers and never enough staff. Add to that complicated enquiries by people whose first language is not English and other complicated season ticket procedures and you are going to die before you get to the end of that queue. There used to be two rubbish automated machines that also had long queues and the paper money slot would stop working just as it was your turn and you would find the fare was ten pence more than you had in change. Dreadful. However when I went there this Sunday though the endless queue was there were also a bank of intelligent machines that take plastic. So South West gets out of jail on this point - a marked improvement (though still a bit inadequate I would think for the commuter station par excellence).

I get to the platform and a not so handsome train is sitting there as dead as a doornail and the platform is packed with passengers. The train arrives and it is a struggle to grab a rather hard seat. Again there are more people than services out here. I get to Waterloo and walk straight through to catch a train to Plumstead. It pootles along as usual but it is not at all crowded - the opposite in fact, almost deserted.

Now of course millions of bored and cash rich Surrey-ites heading for a stroll down the South Bank is never going to matched by some mad Sunday exodus to SE18 but the point of all this is that a train service is more than the rolling stock, even the punctuality. The body/seat ratio is pretty important too. Since moving here I have never had to stand on either end of the journey and this is without me adjusting my normal hours. A train journey of fifteen minutes is a nice thing but 25 minutes when you can sit down and enjoy the views isn't too bad either. I doubt it will last sadly...all those new homes further east and all these disappearing transport schemes mean we might all feel a little more Surrey-like.

Monday, July 16, 2007

A friend has snapped this. I think some of this anti-smoking ban might just be a bit excessive - not only can you not smoke within the confines of a bus shelter you must be assisted in understanding that you cannot smoke with a Gigantic Banner. Dark references must be made to the law and oh yes there is the striking symbol in the colours black, white and red. And what are you supposed to do with that phone number? Is it a denunciation line or an information line? What kind of information? - "Hello I am phoning up to establish if I can in fact smoke in your bus shelter despite a sign of noticeable proportions suggesting otherwise?" "Please hold sir - I will just need to check that with my supervisor."

Some dreadful Finance Director mistook me for a "helpline" today. I sort of am one but he thought I was a vulnerable contact centre employee stuck in a warehouse in Gateshead pummeled into a near automaton. He was obviously in bullying mood. He started screaming at me when I told him his tone was aggressive "I AM NOT BEING AGGRESSIVE!!!!" If you put it in a comedy sketch it would be considered a lame cliché. I stepped out of the call and he apparently calmed down later (having got nowhere) but he has sent me into a black depressed rage all day. These people who are primed to say "put me through to someone who can help" before they have even started their inquiry are so patronising and disgusting it's not true. I have tried to buoy myself up with memories of the Month of Sundays event for Resonance FM that I went to last night. Pharaoh Overlord are a hoot - if you like your hoots on the weird side that is.

I can no longer get a clear signal for Resonance radio itself but the webcast sees me through.

Speaking of depressed, I am not sure if this lady and this one are overly excited by the smoke free joy of their bus shelter.

Thanks to AB for the photo
Avez-vous broadband? Avez-vous something to do?

Well that's my meagre effort - I would turn the sound down. I feel embarrassed by the "faster faster" exclamations I made.

These are better - firstly my favourite by parakletosuk then these two: number one and number two.

Bon voyage. Vive Le Plumstead.

technorati technorati

Thursday, July 12, 2007

French à Plum

And we all had a lovely time one and all.

It was curiously exciting walking up my road to the High Street to see it all closed off and policed-up in a relaxed way. There were sufficient vehicles making their way down the course (or whatever you call it) to hold my attention whilst I waited there in limbo with only the vaguest sense of when they would arrive. It was busier than these two photos make out - the Volunteer had even made an attempt to acknowledge what was taking place - it was festooned with red and white balloons. This was the only theming I saw down most of the length of the High Street.

R appeared at my shoulder unexpectedly and told me that Mr and Mrs R and the kids had decided against Greenwich and were in the High Street where they had bagged a good spot. The final moments before they arrrive are really stirring with a load of cars and bikes roaring ahead of the cyclists and finally a sudden splash of colour appeared at the bridge crossing the railway and they were here. And then they were gone. And we went home and started waiting for the next great event to come to Plum....whenever that might be.

Technorati Tag

Thursday, July 05, 2007

The great day has come and gone - July the First. I have been mildly amused by the various sights offered up by the implementation of the ban.

This evening it was a guy standing outside a bookies having a fag and craning his neck so much to view a race that he was to all intents and purposes inside the place.

R thought it was only a ban in pubs and even I was a bit surprised by the sight.

I have been in a couple of pubs this week - my old grotty favorite the Hole in the Wall and the lovely Royal Oak in Tabard Street.

The former has miraculously developed a yard with three tables in it - the pub was the deadest I have ever seen it but it was an unusual time of day for me to be in it.

The Royal Oak is a gorgeous Harveys pub down a back street near Borough Tube which does great food. I met a friend for a meal there just before quitting and he found its smokey atmoshere a bit too much despite being an ex-smoker himself.

No smoke now in either of these two boozers. The smoke has been fully replaced with the smell of chip fat. The new excuse of those who can't admit to getting old is quickly being formed. "I don't go to pubs much myself -I can't stand the smell of old fat on my clothes the next morning."

Kids Bike Eddie
Originally uploaded by eddiemalone
It looks like there is finally a tenant in sight for R's flat after a brief spell of nervousness.

To celebrate the world bicycling community are gathering at the end of our road to do the old Tour de France.

Can Plumstead cope with the strain of something actually happening? We will find out on Sunday.

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Plumstead links

I am going to stick a few on the sidebar thingy when I get time. Don't know why really...apart from the obvious. Now this one I think I may have referred to before its a kind of residents association/activist one with some wistful vision stuff thrown in. The vision usually takes the form of a jazz cafe which doesn't quite work for me - like I haven't the foggiest what one is. A kind of Milk Bar but replacing the Skiffle band with an ipod-type set-up oozing Charlie Parker or something. I have enjoyed visiting sibonetics made me feel welcome in a funny kind of way. He has had a bit of a dispute with another blogger recently which reminds me of what our neighbour said when we moved in "you can hear a pin drop most of the time round here but it can suddenly get very noisy".

Then there's arthurpewty and his amazing maggot sandwich.
He's not exactly Plumstead but near enough and is forthright about some of the local ethnic groups - one in fact- the baseball hat wearing youth . He likes Linux too so might be interested to hear I am writing this using a Live CD because I can't boot Ubuntu yet again. Like sibonetic he likes Doctor Who too.

There's a forum thing going on that I've only just noticed - it styles itself as Plumstead Common for some reason. There's a bit of an upstairs downstairs thing going on in Plumstead.

And finally another photographer though I'm not sure how active he is at the moment. I think he's the only one of the blogs representing the Asian community here.

All worth a visit if you want to smell out the area. So to speak.
At various points in this blog I have pasted up some stats from the Quit-o-meter that ticks away (whenever I am in XP) adding up all the minutes of life and pennies of pounds saved as a result of My Big Give Up. Perhaps we need one that operates on a national scale that we could start running from 01 July - the Nation's Big Quit. It should have things like Lives Saved of course and number of pence not spent on fags but should also include perhaps Amount of Tax Increased in Other Areas to Cover Shortfall, Amount of Additional Health Expenditure as people's decripitude is extended further and Number of Humorless Morons Stomping Around in an Oppression Frenzy.

What the country needs is a ban on Revolting Sniffers of the Train. (Is it something to do with South East London or have I forgotten my commutes from the South and West?) I have been lumbered with 3 in the last two weeks. Yuk.

Monday, June 11, 2007

Another Plumstead evening
Originally uploaded by Boxley
Another Plumstead Evening

The big move has taken place. R is still a bit of a stranger to these parts spending more time back at the flat preparing to get a tenant in.

I am listening to a nature prog on Radio 4 in the new "Media Centre" room (the old pc and a portable radio). As I do our family of blackbirds chirp merrily outside.

I think there is a bit of wild life inside the house as well but that's another matter.

Tomorrow I will give this commuting thing a crack after a break of more than a year.

Smoking will be banned inside all stations on July One. Not that there is much 'inside' to your average overground station. It will apply throughout which I think is a bit unfair.

One of the great things about smoking was as an occupational therapy when the rubbish railway companies were proving they were rubbish. Now the smokers must move themselves beyond the boundary of the station. Stand on one side of the line and blow in towards the station and you're fine. Stand on the other and blow out away from the station and you risk being bundled into a van and gang-raped by the fag police.

These risks are no longer mine I am glad to say - but they are entirely man-made risks.

Why add to the stresses of life with all these petty laws?

(Thanks to Boxley at Flickr for the pic- very lovely it is too)

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Crossing Hungerford Bridge today a guy wanly repeating "B'shoo 'elp de 'omeless B'shoo 'elp de 'omeless". And me "sorry old bean must dash got to zip off a CHAPS payment for the new mansion".

I have spent more money in a single day than I have before or will ever do again.

So I think it will be a medium sized cappo from the Caffee Nero on my way in to work this afternoon.

The photo is by andy_sunley

Monday, May 28, 2007

Dream House

Dream House
Originally uploaded by Basile1
Oh yes. Home ownership. Now this isn't it exactly but given its location in the so-called Thames Gateway it could look a bit like it at short notice.

As I said there is a lot to worry about when you first become a property owner.
Now that I am about to become a home owner there are just so many things to worry about.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Now here is a pub that isn't going to be too worried by the forthcoming smoking ban. It is the Pembury Tavern in Hackney.

I had vaguely heard of it through the SPBW (Rose signed up and gets the Pint in Hand) and had confused it with a boozer I used to frequent when I lived nearby in Rowhill Road. I was wrong it turned out. Despite being located on a major junction that I walked passed several times a week I had no recollection of the building. It was quite possible it was in its burnt out stage then but I doubt it. there were loads of vast boozers around Hackney at that time, and probably still are, and I am sure I would have noticed it in a disapproving kind of way. My dole office was located not very far away but I can't remember heading for a post sign-on beer up there. I was too near the flat I guess.

To cut a long blog short - it has undergone a bit of a transformation. To be honest I am surprised to find such a pub in Hackney despite the passage of the years.

What made me drag myself across London to get there? In the end it was an accidental purchase of a Linux magazine, "Linux User and Developer", one that I don't really like because it's a bit waffly and short on practicalities. It was accidental because its colour scheme put me in mind of Linux Format a magazine that I do like. There was one good article in it however about this man, Steve Early, who had developed his own opensource EPOS system . His thinking was pragmatic about the issue - he didn't want to be beholden to EPOS companies who deliberately lock in their customers data to their systems and who are at the same time often small outfits vulnerable to going bust. Not only has the combination of Steve's programming talents and existing opensource software protected his data he can flex it around in various creative ways. He also has the potential of putting his ideas out to other businesses with similar needs and possible making some money from offering system support.

The article also listed some classic pieces of OSS that I feel suffer because of their familiarity. Open Office is certainly one of them. Just because its commonly bundled with distros doesn't mean we should take its capabilities for granted. Less well known outside of the Gnu/Linux world is Gnucash. I have started to look at it on my Ubuntu install. The article was reminder of what a powerful set of tools are available to people without the stranglehold of closed formats and code or , less importantly, licence fees.

Steve's other interest is beer and he is a founding director of Individual Pubs a mini-chain of pubs who's main speciality is real ale. The Milton Brewery plays a leading role in the beers usually available but guest ales aren't in short supply either. (like Samuel Smiths they also avoid your bog standard products like Fosters Guiness or Coca Cola). There was a nice looking cider on when I visited but at 7% it was beyond my reach.

The Pembury has been a non-smoking pub since its re-opening under the Individual Pubs banner and this can only be to its advantage. Not one of their devoted band of customers is going to be changing their drinking habits one bit. And others attracted by the beers and light spacious atmosphere but put off by the smoking restriction will suddenly be without an excuse to avoid the place. (Perhaps a pub garden or nice area to smoke outside is missing-the junction they are located on isn't the noisiest but neither is it the nicest).

They do a great menu. The bar staff are lovely and the management think out of the box. I hope they go on to bigger things. (I also hope they spare a thought for the neglected world of SE18 - me and R might soon be in need of an individual pub ourselves.)

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

The Fist Project -- Unity is Within Everyone

I haven't got a clue what the Fist Project is...but I think they'll be none too happy on July The First.
More blogging weirdness.

All of a sudden I have to moderate comments. Google must have changed my settings.

Help - where's the off switch?

Monday, May 07, 2007

July the First

Not long to go before the UK ban.

Apparently the punishment side of things is aimed at two groups - the individual smokers themselves who can face £50 fines "if caught in banned areas" (presumably for smoking - not just being smokers).

Secondly it is the managers of the premises who get a larger set of fines. They can be fined £1000 for not displaying no-smoking signs irrespective of whether anyone has ever smoked on their premises.

A friend of mine has received his guidance pack from the Government. He employs himself as a computer contractor so therefore he gets a pack - a bit daft and a bit expensive. I suppose some of the money from all those lovely fines will contribute to to cost of this waste.

Apparently he can still smoke in his own house where his "office" is. But if someone was visiting on official business, a Smoking Ban Enforcement Officer for example, he would have to protect that workers entitlement to a smoke free environment. He would also have to get that 'no smoking' sign up pronto to remind the Officer of his legal duty to protect that smoke free environment.

At least this friend smokes - I guess the same would apply to non-smokers in the same situation. They would have to stick up signs to remind themselves not to do something they wouldn't dream of doing.

Sunday, April 15, 2007

When I say below "lovely biscuit" I mean stuff like this.

Twittering on and on

Twitter has a rival

But I don't have enough time to investigate it...I am wasting all my time on twitter.

That's a lie.  Had the last big away trip of the season yesterday down in Folkestone yesterday.

I guess the point of Twitter and other "personal presence" websites is that those who cared to find out that fact could have done it more easily than accessing a full-blown blog.

I maintain that  one of the main roles of blogs is a simple public notice saying "I am alive." 

The problem is just about everyone either loses your address or thinks you've stopped or moved your blog.  What they mean is they can't be bothered to visit your webpage.  They'd rather do something more interesting or useful.

 I also maintain RSS is an essential component of blog checking half bearable.  However for some reason people can't face up sorting out an RSS solution.  Even they way I have just described it would put people off.  It sounds simply too technical.

Much easier to sign up for a twitter account or myspace where the same concepts used without any jargon and with only a moderate expenditure of effort.

Why navigate to Verbal Diary to establish I'm alive via a long-winded post like this when my name flashing up announcing "Just had a lovely biscuit" can do the same trick?

Powered by ScribeFire.

Thank you!

Thank you!
Originally uploaded by Nakken18.
This amused me ..... guess you don't see this sign much in the Celtic countries.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Who needs all this waffle - the world of the one line blog has arrived.

I found myself signing up for this a few months back not entirely sure if it had any legs. I then I saw it mashed up with Google maps and a new addiction has been born. Check it out Twittervision
1y 2d 01:04 smoke-free, 9,176 cigs not smoked, £1,064.42 saved, 1m 1d 20:40 life saved

Yeah - One year and two days. Speeding towards the two year point. Go boy go boy.

(This post is for the purposes of self support only)

Monday, April 09, 2007

Hmmm....I must have misunderstood something because today it says

1y 13:32 smoke-free,
9,145 cigs not smoked,
£1,060.82 saved,
1m 1d 18:05 life saved

Which is correct...the one year bit at least is correct.

When I looked at it yesterday it looked like it was missing a few days. But calenders are weird things as Easter constantly (inconstantly) reminds us.

One Year Today

Well, well done to me. Today its my First Anniversary of packing in smoking. So yippee.

The quit-o-meter disagrees with me about this for some reason and I will post what it has to say about it in a few minutes when I boot back into Windows.

I can't read what I wrote in my last post about the effect of the forthcoming English smoking ban.

Of course I haven't the foggiest what will happen to the "pubs I like". They could very well prosper.

I do know the one thing that really nearly stopped me following up my decision to give up smoking on the 9 April 2006 was the sight of Patricia Hewitt leaning over the dispatch box licking her lips with glee as she announced the full-on ban (even though it was a reversal of the government's earlier policy of a partial ban).

I have never much liked the direct action route to advance your causes but perhaps a "letter-tray" campaign might stir things up - you send stubbed out cigarettes in envelopes to members of the ghoulish anti-smoker politburo and see them have kittens on Question Time and the like..

The downside is that some people think even fag ends emit death rays so you could still end up being lynched.

Thanks for the flickr picture to sluggo

Saturday, April 07, 2007

smoking ban in action

smoking ban in action
Originally uploaded by tigerweet.
"I don't smell and I'm not going to die horribly, but you know, it'd be nice if smokers at least took turns going outside for a ciggy rather than leaving me alone for most of the night." says in the text accompanying the photo - my mind flashes back guiltily to the days when the non-smokers would be dragged over to the smoking section.

Its also interesting that these memories of non-smoking sections in pubs are fairly numerous and go back a long way - combined with good air conditioning there was plenty of opportunity to get all the supposed benefits that the progandists say have snowed down on the Irish and Scottish since their bans were imposed.

I think the ban will kill off certain pubs - they happen to be the pubs I really like with or without a fag in my hand.

Thursday, March 22, 2007

Just come back from a short stay with my folks in Portugal.

It looked like a possible escape route for smokers - there is a large Brit ex-pat thing going on there. I went to watch a game in the Bull Pub in Luz and it made we wonder about the forthcoming smoking ban. Would it tilt people into wintering in Portugal or even moving full-time?

Apparently the Portugese are bringing in there own ban - it applies to any bar or cafe less than 10m sq. This size encompasses the vast majority of venues...but what does it matter anyway? I was getting sunburnt yesterday whilst England had snow. A smoking ban inside cafes in Portugal is like a ban on nudity in South Antartic. People will continue sitting outside just like they do now. And none of the urban elite need be effected as they sit in their open-plan offices.

Meanwhile Scottish bars are reporting a downturn in business since the ban - you're not even allowed to sit outside there.

One thing that is leading to the downturn is that people are moving on a lot quicker ratrher than making an evening of it down the pub - presumably they going home to blow smoke on the kids who in turn will grow up to vote only for parties that are less vindictive in their policies.

If I had to choose between Scotland and Portugal for a holiday it would be a terrible wrench but I might just choose Portugal.

Sunday, February 25, 2007

Another week another pound shed.

One thing I depend on quite a bit is sugar-free chewing gum so I am quite galad a gum war has broken out with Cadbury's introducing their Trident range of gums to the UK.

I love them but R is sticking to the old ways as usual.

One mystery has been solved - why did Wrigleys ditch the tradition foil wrapped stick of gum in favour of wallets. It was in preparation for the packets used by Cadbury's. The Cadbury's ones are better designed though- the gum doesn't fall out into your pocket like the Wrigleys packets do.

Sunday, February 18, 2007

Originally uploaded by Max #
The Glamour of Smoking Wears Off Quicker

...than the paunch around my tummy. I am now 10st 12lbs which is another slight drop. Or a eight stone 2lb drop since the post before last - if you haven't realised it was a typo.

I did have a Cream Tea yesterday which isn't exactly Kosher but I really enjoyed it. Luckily it was near Hampstead Heath so you didn't get much for your money.

I have yet to work out an exercise routine. I have fantasies about doing power-walking three times a week. Had to make do with a slow dawdle over the Heath with R taking in the smudgy views, the peace and quiet and the kite flying.

Thanks to Max # for the real life Ozzie devotee

Sunday, February 11, 2007

So I am now less than eleven stone. How ridiculous. For a long period of my life I weighed around eight - which is equally ludicrous.

So what is eleven minus eight? Three isn't it? How many babies is that?

Now that I am less heavily pregnant it might explain why my pipe cleaner legs seem to get less tired now.

Originally uploaded by Nad.

10m 2d 05:56 smoke-free, 7,709 cigs not smoked, £894.24 saved, 3w 5d 18:25 life saved

So the smoking thing looks pretty licked

weight 19 st 13lb

38.5 inch

So the weight loss thing looks pretty unlicked

But SOMETHING has come off. Hoorah.

Sunday, February 04, 2007

diet takes extreme turn

celadon rice bowl
Originally uploaded by madcache.
...or it will do after I weighed myself yesterday. I clocked up eleven stone again. I refuse to even bother putting my waist measurements down here.

There's a nice curry in the fridge though so I had better postpone things till tomorrow.

Saturday, January 27, 2007

Slowly the pounds fall off...or down

Originally uploaded by ecf1691.
Today's weigh in was 11 st 70kg 37.75ins which is slow but steady progress I guess. Surprised its not more with all the radical fruit chomping lunches replacing the spag bol and chips.

Meanwhile the smoking stats mount up. Am I just greeedy or does £850 and sixteen pence seem a bit measly considering the scale of the effort?

9m 2w 4d 02:50 smoke-free, 7,329 cigs not smoked, £850.16 saved, 3w 4d 10:45 life saved

On the plus side my breathing has improved immensely. A lot of voice work involves breathing in an out (money for old breath) and in my later years involved with that kind of thing my breathing was no longer smooth- there were sudden jerks and spasms within it that disrupted the flow. I begun to doubt my capacity to reach to the end of a long speech without the tone deteriorating towards the end.

Last night I seemed to be able to draw in and exhale vast breaths without any kind of disruption (I was a bit bored whilst R was at work....kept me amused anyway). I had noticed some improvement before but it was the first time I really gave my lungs a work out and the result was vastly better.

On the train the other day I couldn't help notice a lady with a very wrinkly face but otherwise quite youthful physicality probably 60 years plus. She was on the mobile:

"Hi I am on the mobile so better be quick.....yeah fine, I've given up smoking...yeah its going great I feel much better....a week...well not there, not there actually, so four days in all then...but I feel great it seems to be going well."

Poor thing - only Day Four. In 9months 2weeks 4days time her face might be completely unwrinkled. Lets hope she makes it

Sunday, January 21, 2007

(Thanks to jonnfez for this image)

Another week another weigh-in.

TBH it was another disappointing morning. The afternoon was better but not for dietary reasons.

The result was 11st 2.5lb 71kg Waist Measurement 39inches.

If anyone is brilliant at metric-to-imperial conversions they may question the quality of these stats.

If anyone has taken a look at the quality of the scales I bought from John Lewis they also might express a degree of scepticism. I, too, have fallen into the trap of blaming my tools. I have difficulty seeing the result displayed on the scales. I was considering donating them to a charity shop and buying myself some digital ones but then it occurred to me that though it would give more refined results it would be equally difficult for me to see the results. The solution ofcourse is a Speak-Your-Weight Machine. A posh-sounding imperial one - not one that doesn't know what a "stone" is and has a Mid-Atlantic twang.

The measuring bit is also difficult. When R does it she seems to say I've lost loads of inches but I do it and the loss is minimal if at all. It all comes downto "when is a waist a waist". I should defer to R's judgment as she is a bit of an expert with knocking out clothes and things. But perhaps I feel the need to overcount the inchs in case I slackened my efforts.

The over-counting trick didn't work today as I went to Chelmsford City to watch AFC Wimbledon thrash the title contenders 3-nil. I got confused and bought a cheese sandwich then got even more confused and ate a jumbo hot dog with loads of ketchup.

I think the lack of calories has done something to my brain leading to sudden bursts of dietary confusion.

(When I was looking around for pics for today's blog I came across this little story on flickr that shares some of this blogs interests. Apart from the heart-stealing.)