Dear Diary... October 2014

Friday 31st October - Spooky

It was another busy day at work, and once the team meeting had taken place (and in two parts, due to the fact that there were several classroom emergency calls that had came in at the same time) it was time to get more PCs rolled out. Went well today actually, got another fair few done, and have been keeping a record as I go along to make sure I know what needs to be written off, and making sure too that everything is stored in the place that it needs to be ready for collection later on.

I did stay behind a little later than planned as I was investigating an issue, and found something pretty useful, which I have mailed out to the appropriate managers to let them know what's going on. In essence I think a configuration template was applied to some devices, but one of the settings appears to be wrong. Sometimes it's not just spotting these things, it's how you spot them and are able to professionally inform people accordingly.

I spent some time tonight listening to some classic 1980s tunes from different bands. First off, I started out with the original CD release (I have the 2 x 12" vinyl version too) of Cabaret Voltaire's "Drinking Gasoline" extended play. It's the band at their height of their beat driven Industrial sound, with all four tracks having a common key of E. Hard to pick a favourite of the four, but I think that "Kino" has a real driving attitude throughout and some sampled speech which fits in well with the beats and minimal bass. I do like the evil feel of "Sleepwalking" too though it has to be said.

That then continued with Ultravox's album "Vienna" the first which featured Midge Ure on vocals and what most people now call the classic line up. Of course yes there's the classic title track single, but I much prefer the brooding lengthy instrumental "Astradyne" that starts the album along with the fact that Vienna itself is part of three songs segued into each other with the wonderfully spooky "Mr. X" to start it all off, with some great spoken vocals from Warren Cann of the band. It's really good especially when the violin kicks in, so tune of the day was an easy decision.

It was then on to another classic 80s album, "Power Corrption and Lies" by New Order. Granted this album was the same year as "Blue Monday" but the single wasn't on the album. Instead you got eight really good tracks, with "5-8-6" almost being the sun of said classic. For me though, "Your Silent Face" really showed New Order at their guitar and synth based best, with "Age of Consent" as the album opener really having some great Stephen Morris drumming as well. And yes, I do have the original Factory Records release on CD as well!

Thursday 30th October - You're All Fired

It was another lengthy day at work with more rollouts for the staff PCs that I needed to get done, and managed to get another four done during the day, and it was a sensible pace I was taking them at, doing two in the morning in one location and then in the afternoon taking care of another one that was in one section of another building. The staff were happy to see me and I think overall it's been good to make sure that I do all I can to try and bring everything up to speed nicely.

I headed home later on and via my aunt and uncle's place, as it was my nephew's birthday so dropped a card with some money in as a little present. It was good to speak to them both and have a good catch up too, and had a nice coffee from their Tassimo as well, so all was good there. It was quite interesting to hear their take on some recent family based events and they asked me how it all went with my cousin the other night as well, so all was good there.

Later on The Love In My Heart came over and I made us both some tea, and this was some nice pork belly with an apple based sauce, that went down nicely with some mash and petits pois. I made sure The Love could enjoy her catch up with Emmerdale before we then saw the Paul O'Grady For The Love of Dogs episode. He even attempted to foster one of the rescue dogs but the other dogs that he owned didn't seem to like the new one, and so reluctantly had to hand it back to Battersea (thankfully the dog was rehomed and all was happy in the end) - but you could tell how much he cares for dogs which was great to see.

I had missed The Apprentice last night with me being at the football but had recorded it so The Love and I watched it together. I have to say that the task seemed pretty good, to create a video channel, and get some views. The key move from Soloman was to get the young bloke with shed loads of views to endorse their channel and link to their video via social media: this effectively won them the task and showed that you really do have to make good contacts to get the word spread around.

The losing team were a mess really: many of them didn't have any ideas or they were either too shouty and argumentative or didn't make their points clear. From what we made out, Pamela was a much better video director than the project manager Ella Jade, and the enthusiasm from Felipe and Katie was more than enough to make sure that they wouldn't have to take the brunt of criticism. In the end, too many mistakes made by too many people, and I had a feeling it might be more than one firing.

I don't think I expected all three though, but they were all right in my view - Stephen was too much of a loose cannon and was really going round the houses and having strops, Ella Jade was just out of her depth overall and Sarah just wasn't keeping things to time and having no video description was a cardinal sin (and her first week project management mantra of "shortest skirts possible, girls!" still rankled with the women on her team massively. The phone call Mark took from Lord Sugar to find out none of them were returning struck fear into everyone left, pretty good that! Tune of the day is "The Montagues and Capulets" from Romeo and Juliet, a version of which is used as the theme tune.

Wednesday 29th October - Unbelievable

It was another busy day at work, and had to abandon my original plan of more rollouts of replacement PCs, primarily because of the fact that there were so many people in course committee meetings (including myself, I had one this morning) and also lots of a backlog of calls coming in, that I just had to concentrate on getting as much as I could sorted there. It was also the day that it was a changeover in the way that mobile devices could access email - all such devices would automatically be encrypted if using Microsoft ActiveSync to access their Outlook account via the Exchange server.

So I didn't get out on time, but I did spend a bit of time attempting to get to the bottom of one Mac user's problem, using the Mac Outlook client, why she wasn't able to connect. I hit that eureka moment though when pushing an update of the client to the latest release seemed to be the one thing which sorted it. Why, I'm not sure, but I suspect it might also be due to the fact there was an unsent Outbox message possibly also causing the issue. However another different machine did need the client update too and that worked without issues.

I got home, managed to make myself something to eat for tea and then my friend came over as we were off to the Etihad to see Manchester City up against Newcastle United in the Capital One Cup fourth round. The two teams met in the same round last season with City winning 2-0 at St James' Park after extra time. As defending holders of the trophy, I wanted to see us play well and score a few goals, not least because I knew my cousin's son was going along with her husband to see the game. They'd got there early to soak in the atmosphere, play FIFA 15 on the consoles inside the Family Stand, and be ready for the game.

I had some time before kick off so headed over to say hello and I could tell that he was really excitable (well at 7 years old in a big stadium about to see the team you want to see, and your first game ever, I can understand that one) and so on with the game. And not on with the goals for City at least, as a defensive howler all round allowed an easy run down the right and a shot which went right under Caballero's legs, and not good. So 1-0 Newcastle and in reality this meant that they could keep it tight if they wanted to.

Not that Newcastle did to be fair, they actually went forward a lot more and were unlucky not to score a second with a bit of good fortune from the shaky City defence. When City did go forward it was more about speculative shots on goal, and an almost own goal from the Newcastle defence, but it didn't feel right somehow. David Silva had to go off injured and he's most likely out for the derby as well (not good) and Yaya Touré clearly didn't look bothered at all - so why give him the captain's armband if that was the case?

I did see my relations at half time who were getting a well earned hot chocolate, and even though the seven year old wasn't seeing us win, he did say to me that the defence was shocking (Mangala was having a nightmare especially) and that we had to play better second half and maybe bring Agüero on too. The only player who seemed to want to play well was James Milner, but one person's massive efforts shouldn't be all from the team to be honest.

Newcastle clearly were still going for it and it was no surprise when the defence stood off Sissoko and he waltzed through to finish an excellent run to make it 2-0. If we'd played all night we weren't going to score to be honest, and my friend and I were really angry at how badly we were playing. Like he said, we're pretty much out of the Champions League, now out of the Capital One Cup, and now only the FA Cup and league to play for, and none of them is certain. So what now? As Alan Hansen would have said about our defending, "Unbelievable." and so tune of the day is said classic from EMF. Imagine if the band re-released it and had Hansen say that word instead? Unbelievable!

Tuesday 28th October - Long Time No See

It was really nice to have some quality time tonight, not just with The Love In My Heart, but also one of my cousins who was up from Bournemouth for a couple of days with her husband and two children. The eldest child is a Manchester City fan, so part of the reasoning for them to come up (as well as catch up) was so that he could head along to the Etihad tomorrow night and watch City against Newcastle in the League Cup. I'd not seen them for a while too, so definitely wanted to make some time out to see them.

As they were staying at the Premier Inn in Salford Quays, and with the Beefeater next to it shut for refurbishment, I realised that The Lowry Outlet Mall wasn't too far away and so suggested Pizza Express, as it has a good kids' menu for the little ones, and it'd normally be quiet during the week so we could have a good natter without lots of loud music being played. And it meant it was a short walk for them and after all the travelling up during the day, it made perfect sense for us all.

The Love came to mine and we headed towards the city centre and noted that Mancunian Way was rammed, and it took us ages to get to Chester Road and then from there it was plain sailing all the way to The Lowry, and once parked up we were all good to go. My cousin and family had already got a table for us all, so we sat down, and got everything ordered. I went for the La Reine, but this time with the Romana base, as did The Love. It was great to speak to my cousin's son about football and it was clear he was really excited about going, bless.

It was also nice to see my cousin's almost three year old daughter as well, and she was a happy little girl, especially as in the hotel there were leaflets for Peppa Pig World, which (ironically) is close to where my cousin lives. You'd think they'd have local attraction leaflets for Manchester, right? She was a huge fan of said pig and was insistent on showing me and The Love all the parts of the attraction she'd been to, but that was cool with me. In fact she was really well behaved and did not spill any ice cream that she had for dessert, was just really enjoying it.

Needless to say it was really nice to see them all, and I think that the tiramisu I had for dessert just tasted even sweeter because of it. One lovely moment was that we all agreed that we needed to make some time for us both to head down there and spend some time in Bournemouth, which we do need to do I reckon. I think although you can keep in touch by phone, email etc, sometimes it's just a lot nicer just to meet face to face, and speak without all the interruptions, and interact too.

Tune of the day somehow sums up the happy feeling I had tonight: "La Ti Da" by The Icicles. It's such an uplifting happy tune, and just puts a big smile on your face. It was also used in the USA for a commercial as well, and so got some exposure there for the band as well. In fact the whole album it's on, "Arrivals and Departures" is an essential purchase for anyone who is a fan of indie pop music in general. Isn't life great when you can have lovely times and a big smile on your face?

Monday 27th October - Grinding On

I had a very busy day of it all, and as a result left for home much later than planned. That said though I did manage to sort out a few more of the new replacement PCs that needed to be done, as well as work on some testing of one of the pieces of software that we recently had to upgrade. For some reason it's now not reading the swipe cards from the card reader, so I managed to get a trace ran on the software and send it to our software vendor to see what they could do for us.

I also had to check over a suite of PCs that for some reason didn't have some software deployed where they should have done. I managed to work out that they didn't have a successful deployment for some reason so I investigated further. Four of the PCs had a corrupted WMI (Windows Management Interface) which meant that they wouldn't see anything SCCM wanted to throw at it. Of course the key thing was to get that sorted, initiate a client reinstall and badabing, everything started to kick into touch rather nicely to be honest.

I did though really have to plough on and it felt like I just had to get my head down and get on with it all, and so was mighty relieved when I was going to head home and carry on regardless with what I had planned for the evening. I was pleased that I had something quick and easy in to make, so some chicken and some beansprouts with noodles and black bean sauce was mine, and that went down rather well. I then settled in for the evening and sorted out a few things before making sure I was in front of BBC Two at 8.30pm for this week's Only Connect.

I had to giggle as one of the answers in the first round was no less than the Central African Republic - the second time this series it was an answer. Anyone would think Richard Osman from Pointless has had a hand in the quiz or something! Still, the missing vowels round was pretty impressive going, with Victoria Coren-Mitchell even allowing "ass" for the "big things" round despite the answer being "issue" as effectively either could have been made, and the former is a quote as a big thing too!

I've also listened to some Ultravox tonight following Midge Ure's rather good gig last night so went back to the first album with Midge in the band namely "Vienna". I think it's vastly under-rated as an album and the title track is part of three which segue together on side two, starting with "Mr. X" which is great (or "Herr X" if you listen to the German version) which then heads headlong into "Western Promise" with the great line "All minions to Messiah Pepsi can!" in there, so tune of the day there. And "Vienna" of course is just ace, still in my view the best number two single ever.

Sunday 26th October - Midge Ure Magnificence

It was a pretty relaxed Sunday as The Love In My Heart and I enjoyed the extra hour gained due to the clocks going back, and then of course took it relatively easy with some telly too. I was heading out later though so The Love headed home and I spent the afternoon sorting out a few things around the house, and made sure that everything was done that I needed to do for next week. I wouldn't have the time when I got home tonight so it was important to make sure what I needed to get done was all sorted.

My friend came over around 5pm and we headed to Salford Quays, making sure we got a spot at The Lowry Outlet Mall and then over to Pizza Express for tea. It was a good call, not least because we were able to get 25% off the food, but we'd not been there for a while and so fancied a change. I had the La Reine pizza, which was as good as ever (even ate all the black olives, woo go me) and then we both decided to go for the dolcetti dessert idea, a little dessert with a tea or coffee. I of course went for the latte with my little lemon cake, which was rather gorgeous.

Of course it meant that we were able to have a good natter and catch up too, and because we were able to take our time, we didn't feel rushed at all, especially when the masses of Man U fans headed out of Old Trafford after their 1-1 draw with Chelsea a bit earlier (another reason for getting there before the final whistle so there wasn't much of a traffic jam either). It all made good sense and we soon headed across to The Lowry for the Midge Ure gig. It'd be our third time to see him, and the second at The Quays theatre within the Lowry as well.

First up was Steve Rodgers, who had supported Midge the last time we saw him in Sale Waterside Arts Centre. He was again very good, notably "Sunshine" which sounded really lovely with an acoustic backing alone. He again did an acapella number at the end "Cup of Light" which had the audience clapping along as he sang the number, and really showed his vocal as well as guitar talents. He really got everyone enjoying the music and definitely was a good pick to have on first, so well done him.

At around 8.50pm on came Midge Ure, and for the next hour and a half we were treated to plenty of acoustic songs, brilliantly worked from the original numbers. We were pleased to see that he played plenty of his own solo stuff, including tracks from the new album "Fragile" such as the title track, and his earlier solo recordings such as his version of "No Regrets", "If I Was", "Call of the Wild" and a really nice version of "Man of the World" as well which grows with every listen - and "Dear God" too. And he threw in Visage's "Fade To Grey" as well, which he's allowed to as he was a part of that!

Naturally the diehards amongst us would like some Ultravox stuff too, and we weren't disappointed one bit. I knew of course that we'd have "Vienna" and that was ace, but so was the likes of "Hymn", "The Voice" (with the audience doing the backing vocal during the chorus), "Dancing With Tears In My Eyes", " Lament", and a really fast paced acoustic rendition of "One Small Day" which was my tune of the day - always really liked the Lament album. We even got "All Fall Down" from the "U-Vox" album which I didn't expect, and the title track of the band's 2012 album "Brilliant" too.

Of course he was in fine form playing well and chatting with the audience how it seemed every Ultravox song was written in a key for a high pitched vocal and how he needed to avoid that if he could! We also got "Contact" from the Brilliant album too, but the piece de resistance was during the encore, where he did a great version of "Cold Cold Heart" and then said "Well the clocks have gone back so I can play this now!" and went into "Do They Know It's Christmas?" - my friend and I both smiled. He's one of the only two people in the world who by my law are allowed to play this at any time of year, and it was a great version, so there you go!

Saturday 25th October - Media City Mooch

I headed into the city centre first thing on Saturday as I wanted to get my hair chopped to bits. It definitely needed doing and the lovely ladies at The Northern Cutter went to do their wonderful work and got it all sorted. I also then had a nice coffee in the Manchester Coffee Co next door and was able to just stare out of the window and people watch whilst enjoying a very lovely little latte. All was well with the world and so I headed home to sort out some washing and ironing before heading back out later.

I got into the city centre and took the tram from Piccadilly Gardens to Media City UK, where I'd be meeting some of my fellow Manchester Flickr people for a bit of a walk around there for some pic taking. I'd suggested meeting in The Dockyard, and so as first there I got a nice pint of their ale and a comfy table so everyone could head over. I also then once one of our fellow Flickrers arrived ordered lunch: the very nice beef and ale pie this time around. And it didn't disappoint either - chunks of beef, hand raised pastry, a proper nice pie at a proper price (£6.75, can't argue with that!)

Once everyone had arrived and we'd had a well earned drink, we then headed off past all the BBC buildings and onwards to the Media City UK bridge, which took you over the Manchester Ship Canal to Trafford (Salford is the other side we just came from) and past ITV's Coronation Street set and on to the Imperial War Museum North, where we had a nice view over the canal. We then walked back over the Millennium Footbridge (which lifts up to allow ships underneath!) and then past The Lowry and Outlet Mall.

We were then back at Media City and so headed into the temporary pub made of three teepee tents, The Lodge. They had stopped serving food but we did manage to get a drink and they were playing 80s tunes in there including "Everybody Wants To Rule The World" by Tears for Fears (make that tune of the day) and it was good to chat and be out of the wind for a bit, before then heading on the tram back towards the city centre, allowing for half our merry band to depart at Cornbrook to change for trams home. All was very well with the world.

Later on I got home, sorted out most of the pictures and uploaded a few, and The Love In My Heart arrived, having had a great day out with one of her friends too. We had a good natter and also I allowed The Love to see The X Factor (the things you do for love) with Movie Week being the theme. Some classic movie songs were sung (badly) including the likes of Footloose (Kenny Loggins would not have been amused) and also a straight forward rendition of Aerosmith's "I Don't Want To Miss A Thing" which was just, well, a bit dull. It wasn't Steven Tyler, let's put it like that!

Friday 24th October - The Man From Delmonte - He Says Yes

It was a busy day in work, and as I was helping out one of our technical staff in our Makers team, they mentioned to me that they were heading to the pub after work to help celebrate the birthday of one of their fellow team as it was a special birthday for them. And especially more so as I happened to know that said member of staff used to be in the late 1980s Manchester indie band The Man From Delmonte whom I had admiration for. I loved their gorgeous indie pop songs and proudly own some of their singles on vinyl too.

So it was off to Sandbar then and so a nice pint of the TicketyBrew's "Rose Wheat" was to be had, and it seemed very nice, albeit you could sense the two flavours in there with a kick of ginger to boot. It was lovely the more I drank it. Most of the technical staff had had t-shirts made and printed of various colours with a collage of pics of said former band member along with things like gig flyers for places like the International with the band mentioned - it looked pretty cool I have to say.

Of course I had to then instantly start to hum and sing songs from the band on my way home from work later on, and so the likes of "My Love Is Like A Gift You Can't Return" and "Water In My Eyes" (the band member concerned told me that the infamous baby in the video was the baby of the bass player, and went on tour with the band. Woo!) - but most of all, and the song I used to love in indie nights back in the day, "Will Nobody Save Louise?" which is just fab, so tune of the day was an easy decision.

Later on once my Tesco shopping delivery had arrived, I settled in for an evening of the telly and so watched Gogglebox. It was amusing seeing them content on a dreadful X Factor sing off, with unanimously all of them saying that both acts were rubbish and it was a case of which one was the least worst. Most of them seemed pleased when one of them went - almost punching the air in delight which was quite funny. They also were all gasping at the nature programme where the goslings would jump off from 500ft or so high and attempt to land and survive. If I fell that distance, I'd be dead!

Later on I finalised all the Christmas present lists that I needed to send out. Yes, I know it's two months away, but if people have got many other presents to buy for, it's essential that they budget accordingly and so it would be much easier to know what to get so they could get it done earlier or later. I had virtually finished anyway and so it made much more sense to get it done, and had some Pop Will Eat Itself playing in the background whilst all of that was going on. It was a good time to get things done as well as fill in four application forms for jobs, oh the life I lead currently!

Thursday 23rd October - Basking in Baskery

After a lengthy day at work it was good to get home and head out for the evening, as The Love I My Heart and I were seeing Baskery at Gullivers in the Northern Quarter of the city centre Manchester. We met up first of all and headed to The Bank, where very nice real ale and also very nice food was in the offing. I had the rather nice gammon and eggs and The Love had the cod, which looked rather gorgeous too. As it turned out as part of some deal you could have had a free ale with that, but I asked the staff could I swap that for a wine for The Love, and they were happy to do so. Isn't it nice when good stuff happens?

We then headed out and up Oldham Street to Gullivers. It was supposed to be doors at 8pm, and we'd got there around 8.20pm but they were running behind schedule in the upstairs room where the gig happens, so instead we headed downstairs where a nice pint of Dragon's Fire had my name on it (and rightfully so too). It was nice to have that and just relax in what looked like a nice bar since the refurb it had done, so all good there. There was a decent little crowd waiting for the upstairs bit to open and so once they'd made their way up, so did we and got a good spot in the middle so we could see what was going on.

First up was Ben Williams, and he was surprisingly good. He had a really nice acoustic guitar sound and a gentle vocal presence that suited the songs really well. Most of the crowd appreciated his playing, and the title track of his forthcoming album "Who Do You Think You Are?" went down well. "Balloon String" was also very good (key line: "She's sold all of my body parts on eBay!"), and in particular "Hold Your Fire" was one that really resonated - how to settle an argument easily by being more calm at first, and the line of "come back and see me when you've calmed down" is very true. His album's out soon, might have to be investigating that I reckon.

It was then the turn of Tales of Two Counties, who I enjoyed but The Love wasn't so sure of. They were a mix of folk, rock and bluegrass, and some of the songs in part reminded me of The Levellers (no bad thing). In particular their opening number "I'm Not Your Man" had the crowd going quite a bit, and they had a classic four piece - bassist who did double bass, lead singer with mandolin, acoustic guitarist and drummer. They all could play and seemed to be having a whale of a time. The closer "You'll Know You Never" along with the singalong of "lies lies lies lies!" was also reminiscent of something 3 Daft Monkeys would do to get everyone bounding about!

So on came Baskery, and they were as good as usual, with Stella on double bass, Sunniva on acoustic and electric guitar, and Greta on harmonica, banjo, kick drum, acoustic guitar and all three on lovely harmonic vocals. The band played a mix of the old and the new, and so it was nice to hear in particular the wonderful "Here To Pay My Dues" first of all, along with later on a stomping version of "One Horse Down" where the band got quicker and quicker throughout the much extended end part of that, really nice of them to do as well. We got new stuff that was so new it wasn't even on an album such as "Cactus Boy" and one I really liked "Catflap" which they explained that in America they had no idea what it is unless you told them it was a "doggie door" but for cats.

The three of them also had customised tops with big cats on: Stella a tiger, Sunniva a snow leopard and Greta a normal domestic cat, which looked pretty cool. "The Shadow" also sounded really lovely, as did "The NoNo" from their "Little Wild Life" album. And as the curfew of 11pm approached they went headlong into a storming version of "Haunt You" from their opening album, and a song I still adore and play now, so tune of the day for sure, with the middle manic banjo from Greta really underpinning it all wonderfully well. It was a shame the curfew brought the gig to an end, was enjoying them immensely. Thanks ladies!

Wednesday 22nd October - Back To Business

I spent most of today heading around the printers that had been upgraded overnight, and testing them with a test print sent to the queue to make sure that they were all working. All but a few had managed to be upgraded, and that boded well for the remaining ones which I needed to power on during the morning, and then make sure that our external supplier did their bit so I could test. In fact I found one which needed to have the network speed changed in order for it to talk to the network, and another which wasn't even patched in to the switch for some reason, so worked on getting those sorted too.

In between all that I had two course committees to attend to as well, and both for courses where I know the staff, which does make things considerably easier. I was able to give them an update on what was going on, and what also was of interest to them in terms of what was happening in the world of IT as well. I think that went down pretty well and I think that generally the staff, who had been pleased with the way that things were progressing, were also pleased too.

I headed home a little later than planned but it did mean that it was dry when I did so, so that was good. I also wanted to maybe sort a few things out before The Apprentice was on, so I managed to get a shed load of ironing done (which needed to be sorted) as well as chat to The Love In My Heart about her day (almost as manic as mine by the sound of it) and then get the tea made - some very nice stir fry chicken and mushroom with bean sprouts and a nice Chinese style sauce, together with some noodles. I must admit that does keep me going nicely and also I can feel the benefits of it.

So on came The Apprentice then, and the task: relatively simple. Make a lot of candles and reed diffusers, sell them off for the most profit margin. The last two words were key: yes, make a quality product, but you have to sell at the right price. One team decided that selling all of them at no matter what price was the way to go, even if their product was tons better quality wise, and the other were almost too rigid with their price points which meant that they had lots of stock left at the end of the task. However, they just about won, primarily because they tried to nail some price points and stick to it.

It was tense as ever in the boardroom but in the end it was the right decision, and to be fair, I think Lindsay held her hand up and realised that the whole process wasn't for her. Some people are cut out for this type of cut throat business world but she retreated into her shell and wasn't enjoying it either. As for Nurun, again right decision: not selling much despite market trading being her skill (and her excuse of the location being different didn't wash: if you sell on a market, the same skills allow you to sell on any market surely?) - although it could easily have been a triple firing with big mouthed James not knowing when to keep his proverbial trap shut.

Tune of the day in the meantime is from Cabaret Voltaire's "Technlogy: Western Reworks 1992" album which I had a good re-listen to tonight. It's reworkings of tracks from the band's 1983-85 output, so covering three albums and an EP. From that I really like the versions of "Kino", "Sleepwalking" and "Crackdown" but perhaps my favourite from there is their faster paced reworking of "I Want You" complete with thumping beats and lots of synth hooks, with bits of the original really interspersed well. Hurrah!

Tuesday 21st October - Goggle Eyed

It was a very busy day at work today, and one which had me focussing on one particular task in hand - printing. Or rather, lack of it. A scheduled upgrade to the back end had happened over the weekend, but from the emails I'd spotted flying around yesterday it looked like some of the printers weren't allowing anyone to do anything such as get printing. I had a call from one member of staff who explained that one printer was working in the corridor but another wasn't, despite being the same model of printer.

That intrigued me somewhat, so I was able to compare and contrast the two configurations and from what I could see the revision of the printer's controller software (not the main HP firmware itself) seemed to be different. I then looked at other printers not working compared to ones that were, and a pattern emerged. It seemed to me that the software revision was crucial here, so fed that back accordingly. Later on I was on the phone to an engineer whilst they updated one of the non-working devices, and bingo, once it was done, it all worked correctly without issue. So that proved (after hours of convincing them) that I was right, and so a plan went into action to get things sorted as soon as possible.

That really mentally tired me out but I was really pleased to have got somewhere with that, and so I headed home feeling a bit up in a way that I'd helped out. I also then had a phone call from The Love In My Heart, who was going to be delayed in coming over, so I settled in and watched the Manchester City game at CSKA Moscow in the Champions League. A game of two halves really, as City played well in the first half with goals from Sergio Agüero and James Milner putting us 2-0 up but then allowing a soft goal back and then a dodgy penalty for the equaliser, and 2-2 it finished. Not at all good.

The Love arrived, and managed to make it through the pretty stormy weather overall. It was nice just to cosy up warm and cuddle together, and once I'd got the tea in the oven it was a case of watching a bit of telly, having a good natter and just feed back on our respective very busy days. We had some nice pork medallions with a Mediterranean sauce along with some mash and petits pois, which went down very nicely indeed. We also watched some more telly but then later on it was time for.. Gogglebox!

In fact we'd missed the Celebrity one as part of the Stand Up To Cancer night on Friday as we were out, so we watched it. Apart from the usual regulars like Sandy and Sandra, the Siddiquis from Derby, Leon and June, and so on, we also got Sarah Hadland, Miranda Hart and Tom Ellis (from the series Miranda of course!), Paul O'Grady and Kathy Burke (apparently they're neighbours) and Noel Gallagher with Naomi Campbell and Kate Moss. Some guys get all the luck don't they!

But it was entertaining stuff, with the two gay hairdressers from Brighton expressing their fancying of Dermot O'Leary from The X Factor, everyone moved to tears by the stories of those who had died from cancer and had recorded a documentary about themselves, and one of the Siddiquis really knowing his stuff on University Challenge. It was a classic moment too when the daughter of the Moffat family, Scarlett, did a brilliant take on Chloe Jasmine from The X Factor's performance of "Toxic" getting the vocal spot on. Tune of the day is the theme tune from Gogglebox: "Perfect World" by Kodaline.

Monday 20th October - All The Way To Birmingham

A day off today, and with a good reason too - a trip down to Birmingham. It was actually two reasons in one, but one was to potentially do some shopping. Of course the city centre is still being redeveloped, with tram lines down Corporation Street where the tram line is going to extend to terminate outside New Street station (also useful for those who need to change trains to Snow Hill - they can get the tram then) and the new shopping centre above New Street taking place and hopefully open next year. It's certainly taking shape anyway.

I did have a dilemma earlier in the day as the train I was going to get had been cancelled to start from Stoke-on-Trent. Thankfully as I'd got there earlier enough my ticket was valid for a train before, and so headed on that to Stoke, and then picked up my scheduled train to Birmingham. In fact I'd also been humming in my head the excellent song "All The Way From Birmingham" by Vix and Her MsChiefs (make that tune of the day) and had a little smile to myself as the train passed Tipton, as that place is mentioned in the second last line of the song. It's a sort of ironic thing too, because in reality Tipton isn't that far from Birmingham, which is sort of the point!

Anyway, things look to be taking shape in Birmingham as I mentioned. The concourse in New Street looks much better as do the "airside" shops once you get past the ticket barriers. What I also liked was the flow of the whole station - it really did seem to be much better with the masses of people getting on and off trains and being able to head around without issue. Down on the platforms there may be much more to do, but it's nonetheless a sign that things are changing for the better.

I did actually peruse a few shops in New Street and the Bull Ring, and although I didn't buy anything, I did get some ideas for presents for birthdays and Christmas to come, as well as having a much more relaxing time of it. I also wanted to have a mooch in HMV at the new releases and generally have a good walk around, and even got a nice spot of lunch at The Briar Rose as well - a very nice panini with chips and a pint all for £5.49, my sort of value that was. And it proved to be a rather good way of winding down, sort of.

Later on once I got home I filled out more application forms (fun, not) as well as settled in to watch Only Connect, which was pretty epic. Not only did the Nordiphiles actually come back in the final missing vowels round but they also really made a great effort in getting most of the clues right pretty quickly, allowing them more questions and so to overhaul the defecit and win. I must admit that I'd probably be good on the final round but if I could just be better on the earlier rounds...

Sunday 19th October - Late Night Folk Songs

The Love In My Heart and I had a bit of a well deserved lie in, and then once I'd got up and made some nice sausages on toast for breakfast, headed back to The Love's place, mainly to fuss over the two cats Jô and Brian, and make sure they were all fed and loved up. In fact they wanted their Sheba tuna, and the moment The Love opened the cupboard, Brian particularly was over there like a flash wanting to scoff it. They're even worse with Dreamies though, they love them - Jô just has a habit of looking all cute at you, sort of "please!" and asking for more.

We got ourselves ready later and headed on the tram from The Love's place towards Salford Quays, getting off at MediaCityUK as it's the nearest stop to The Lowry, where we'd be seeing Seth Lakeman tonight. The tickets said 7pm, so I'd expect the doors to be say 7.00pm with a 7.30pm start or even a 7pm show start, as normally The Lowry are good with timings and such. With that in mind we got to Salford Quays around 5pm and headed to The Dockyard pub close to the station, and that proved to be a good move all round.

I need to go to this pub again soon. Six different cask ales including their own ale? Check. Nice food? Definitely. The Love had the Sunday Roast lamb which was nice enough but you also got a little mug of soup as an entree starter before the main. I had the pork and apple pie with lashings of mash, mushy peas and gravy and it was rather gorgeous, notably for the price too. I also later had their apple crumble pie with ice cream and a coffee, and they were just as good. It's not that expensive, they look after their beer, and they even have a decent jukebox and a pinball machine (woo!! must get that up on Pinformer soon..)

We headed over to The Lowry later on thinking we were in good time for the 7pm doors/start, and we were, but found out from one of the bar staff that the support act was on at 8pm, then interval, then Seth Lakeman at 9pm. Now not normally a problem, but on the Sunday the last tram back to The Love's place is at 10.17pm, so highly likely we were going to have to miss the last couple of songs or so. Not happy about that really. Surely the point of an earlier Sunday start is an earlier Sunday finish so you'd be more green and take public transport and all? Apparently not. The staff at the bar reckoned that was down to the promoter, so whoever they are, hang their heads in shame.

Anyway, the gig itself was in the end pretty good. Kim Churchill was supporting and this Australian blues/folk artist did his thing pretty well. He played several of his own songs having a kick drum and snare operated by his feet, a guitar, a harmonica when needed by his mouth and he sang pretty well too. He even came up with a pretty fast rocking version of the Bob Dylan classic "Subterranean Homesick Blues" later on too, so that was pretty decent all round.

The interval came and went, and on came Seth Lakeman, with the likes of Ben Nicholls on the bass in tow, and also Lisbee Stainton, who had performed with him when I saw him in Lichfield earlier this year. It was a set list where the quieter slower stuff was played earlier on, and then some of the faster paced classics later. It did include several songs from his "Freedom Fields" album though, so a blistering "Lady of the Sea", a more melanchonly "King and Country" (primarily because he had performed it for the BBC's World War I commemoration) as well as an excellent "1643" and "The White Hare" (definitely up there with one of my favourites).

It was also great that the new album "Word of Mouth" had plenty of songs played from it, so the likes of "The Courier" (which got the evening started off with some blistering drums), as well as "Last Rider" and a beautiful version of "Each Man" as well. He also played a war poem to music which was based "On The Shores of Normandy" and we caught "Portrait of My Wife" as well (love that too so tune of the day) before having to head off for the tram. No doubt "Kitty Jay" was probably at the end, so had to miss that, but a quality set all round and just wish it had started earlier!!

Saturday 18th October - Carving Up Defences

I had a lie in this morning and did a fair chunk of housework, before setting up the Raspberry Pi in the front room, complete and armed with the latest version of OpenELEC (which has XBMC running on it, perfect for turning the Pi into a small media centre). Crucially it also meant that I could see any web streaming on there with an extra add-on, so it meant that if I wanted to see any live web channels I could do so using that instead of bringing the PC downstairs from the office room. Result, really.

I did however head out to see the Manchester City v Tottenham game. I'd normally be at the Etihad but my friend is on holiday, so didn't end up going in the end. It was a great game though, not least because of the sheer class and wizardry of Sergio Agüero. He scored the first with a powerful right foot shot through a crowded defence and after Tottenham had equalised, he stepped up to take the first penalty of the match after Frank Lampard had been bundled over (although I'll be the first to admit it was never a penalty to be honest). City got a second penalty when David Silva was fouled (this one was correct) but Agüero hit it straight at the Tottenham keeper Hugo Lloris, so it stayed 2-1 at half time.

Tottenham had a penalty of their own (which shouldn't have been given) when Roberto Soldado was supposefly fouled in the area by Martin Demechelis. Soldado got up but Joe Hart saved it, and indeed Hart pulled off two more impressive saves before City got forward with Jesús Navas, the ball came in and Agüero was bundled off the ball, and he would have got to the cross. Yes it was a penalty alhough I do think the red card was a tad harsh for the Tottenham defender. Agüero completed his hat trick and then scored a fourth goal later on with a gorgeous left foot low shot. He was brilliant and it apparently was the first time in over a decade that four penalties had been given in a Premier League game, so that was something.

I saw the rest of the scores flash up as I was watching Final Score later on, and it was good just to take it relatively easy before the shopping arrived from Tesco and then The Love In My Heart came over. I then got myself showered and changed as we were both heading out to the Toby Carvery to meet up with lots of my family as it was my nephew's 21st birthday. My uncle had hired out a room to the back that was big enough for us all to sit and eat, and with the carvery a mere £5.99 it meant we could also have a few drinks and chatter for the evening, which is what we ended up doing.

It was great to see lots of people and my cousin's little one also came, and he was a bundle of joy and happiness. Even more pleasing for me was that he had on the shirt that we'd got him for his birthday recently and that was good to see that he looked cool in it. Much conversation and the odd ale or two flowed (thankfully Brakspear was on, yaay) and the carvery was spot on - I had some of the gammon and pork with all the trimmings and it went down wonderfully well.

Later on when we got back The Love insisted on watching The X Factor's 80s special. Except that three of the songs weren't even originally released in that decade (John Lennon's "Imagine" and "Jealous Guy" were both from his 1971 "Imagine" album, and Monie Love's "It's A Shame (My Sister)" is 1990) so massive cop out there. The Love was engrossed, me not so bothered (truth be told, I loathe the show and will be glad when I'm out at gigs and stuff over the next few weeks so I can avoid it, oh yes!)

In any case, out of the remaining 80s songs that I could hear, I'd much rather listen to the originals of course, and so from the selection I'd have to go with the original of "Boys of Summer" by Don Henley as my tune of the day. Yes, I'm old enough to remember the original and its great guitar hook, and thinking "bloody hell, it's him off of The Eagles doing a 80s classic!" and obviously because it had such a good video for its time it got heavy rotation on MTV back in the day. So what happens? A rubbish boy band ruins it on X Factor. The word despair doesn't even come close.

Friday 17th October - The Life of Pie

It was the start of a weekend where both myself and The Love In My Heart would be out every night, which doesn't happen a lot. Not because we're not sociable, far from it, it's just that often after a hard week at work respectively the Friday evening is often a solo wind down and then spending part of the weekend together, but often with a quiet night in and some food and drink, so to be out all evenings of a weekend is a rare (and not that cheap!) thing.

However, we both wanted to catch up with one of our friends, as he'd been to Cornwall recently and by all accounts had loved it, so we wanted to hear first hand how it all went. I'd arranged to meet The Love in Kro in Piccadilly, and as it turned out our friend got there before us, so had already looked at ordering a drink. He very kindly ordered me one (which I had to change as the ale was going off) and The Love, who soon arrived looking rather gorgeous - and in a very nice new paisley top as well!

We had a drink and chatter, and there were some nice little gifts brought back from Cornwall (and looked like the Polgoon vineyard shop as well) for The Love - namely a box with the three different types of cider, and a bottle of the Polgoon Aval - a sparkling raspberry no less. It was very much appreciated and definitely something I think she's going to savour. It was good to see that he really liked Cornwall lots and as we said to him, he'll have to go back and explore some more, or slow things down and just relax on one of the many gorgeous beaches (of which there are many of course)

We then headed off to Pieminister, as it was somewhere I'd not tried for ages and somewhere our friend and his partner had been to and both had said it was rather gorgeous. For me, not a problem - it does pies, that's me sorted. The Love's not as much of a pie person, but there was one with an open top, which had the filling in, so she had that. I had the Moo, with chunks of beef, and some rather nice Brew Dog ale in there as well, which went gorgeously with the mash, minted mushy peas and gravy, all rather good. In fact in truth we all enjoyed the pies a fair bit, and I did like the atmosphere in there, rather relaxed and chilled out, even with some 80s music in the background (so "Going Underground" by The Jam is tune of the day for that reason)

We were going to head to the Port Street Beer House but that was full so we went to the Crown and Anchor next door. They had some decent real ales on, and a pool table which at some point I might have to give some serious play on and see how good it is. I did have the Dizzy Blonde which I quite like, so that was going down well, and later on The Love and I also headed to The Bank where a pint of the Nicholson's Pale Ale was mine too, so a nice end to the evening for us both, and good to see our friend in pretty fine fettle as well.

Thursday 16th October - Keeping Mum

It was another busy day in the office and one where I really wanted to get lots done, and in fact managed to do so - to a degree. I did spend a bit of time this afternoon with one of our student IT rovers, as I needed to show them the wide format printers and how to sort them out with paper and toner etc should the need arise. Actually I have to say that the student concerned was really down to earth, friendly and very much a "can do" person, and there are times when you take an instant like to a person because of their personality - this was one of them.

I headed out of work a little later than planned and decided to call in on the way home to Mum's and have a coffee and a chat with her. Whilst being a little bit impromptu I thought it was also good to have a catch up, and as it happened she had a few things to keep me posted on which was good. It was nice just to sit in the front room as well and be relatively relaxed after a long day at work. Mum also was chatting to me about Christmas and if I'd made my Christmas list yet (which sometimes admittedly I'd finished by now!) so that might give me some more incentive to finish it this weekend...

I did head home later on but it was a bit on the rainy side overall. That said it wasn't a deluge and it was a decent walk back, thus trying where possible to make sure I'm doing a bit of exercise every day in order to keep the weight off and lose a bit more where possible. I think that now I've got to the point of being a more reasonable weight that I am happy with, then it's putting in the effort to make sure that I keep at it. Nothing worse than getting it all back on again.

I was also keeping an eye tonight on the announcement for the RIBA Stirling Prize for Architecture, as the Manchester School of Art had been voted. I also, having been in there earlier this year, could vouch massively for the Library of Birmingham and after seeing the BBC online vote was expecting them to possibly win it. Imagine my pleasant surprise then when it went to the Everyman Theatre in Liverpool, which is a really gorgeous modern building in an old setting, and really does stand out impressively in the city.

Tune of the day tonight is another Pop Will Eat Itself classic from twenty years ago this year - 1994. This time it's the third single to be released (and the final one before the album "Dos Dedos Mis Amigos") namely "Everything's Cool?". One mix I have which not everyone has is the 12" promo version, remixed by Youth, which is around 4:40 long or so. It's got much more guitars at the front and a more instrumental ending, and might have even worked better as the album mix..

Wednesday 15th October - You're Both Fired

Another day back at work, and on the whole, pretty manic and with not everyone in. It's pretty clear to me that there's just a massive amount of stuff to do, not enough time to do it and on the whole I think that we're trying where possible to keep the proverbial heads above water. One thing though that I definitely did want to do is to make sure that the networking was all finished in one of the rooms of one of the buildings. All the of the sockets were in but I just needed to patch them in the switch.

Once that was done, it was then a case of being able to then work on another task where I needed to get the licence information from two USB dongles on one of the servers and send it off to the software company concerned so that they can evaluate an upgrade accordingly. It's quite a good process, not least because the utility I ran spotted that there were two dongles connected and that I needed the information from both, quite pleasing that I have to say.

I headed home and spent some time sorting out some more washing and ironing (fun, not!) before settling down to watch last night's CSI, which was pretty gruesome to be honest. It was an episode that dealt with some weird fetishism and the way that some people were murdered and then part of their flesh fed as some weird cannibalistic ritual. It was really well directed though and I thought particularly that Sara and Morgan were really good (props to Jorja Fox and Elisabeth Harnois for their parts respectively.) It's just annoying that we're still way behind the USA - we're still finishing off season 14 and they're now on season 15!

Anyway, enough about that. I did see tonight's episode of The Apprentice and I had to despair really. They were both given a brief about designing a wearable technology item, and knowing that one of the retailers to pitch to were a sports brand, then you'd do something sporty. Here was the thing: the blokes did a jumper with a few lights on lettering and a camera that took pictures, somewhat in your face (and what also about an invasion of people's privacy? Wearing those and using them would probably be a punch in the face job to be honest)

What was amazing though was Daniel's sales pitch. It was amazingly bad. He didn't believe in the product, believed everything that the feedback said and agreed with them, and he just looked an idiot. However, even more of an idiot (and rightly kicked off even before a decision on the PM to bring two back in was taken) was Robert. He didn't project manage when many of the blokes felt he was most qualified, went on constantly about expensive designer fashion goods (err.. in business not everyone can afford that and it's getting a good product that can sell for less expense) and was a right drama diva. He was annoying me immensely, so off he went. And Scott as project manager had no backbone either, and no sales.

It could though have easily been four or five fired at the same time, Donald Trump style, and it really did make me think how the selection process got to these people and were either all "me me me" and not team players, or just not getting it either. Be interesting to see if the teams get mixed up next week and see how that dynamic works really. Tune of the day is the theme tune - a version of "The Montagues and Capulets" from Romeo and Juliet, originally composed by Sergey Profokiev no less.

Tuesday 14th October - Double The Fun

It's been another busy day, but this time with good reason - I had the day off. And used it wisely too. Lots of sorting out of things around the house, but also a chance to try and catch up with things I've put off for a while. It's actually been constructive just to take time that I wouldn't normally have and be able to get things together. Amongst the things I also needed to do was to make sure I did the gas and electric meter readings - my provider requests these each month so I get a much more accurate bill. It's actually much better that way and also means I can keep track of the spending as well.

I did also get the chance to see Countdown live rather than have to watch it on 4OD (oh, the luxuries) - and in fact the current champion was pretty lethal, even getting a nine letter word (double points on offer there) at the same time. Some of the numbers rounds were ludicrously easy though, just the way that the number generator works sometimes, but the challenger contestant failed to see it and didn't have an answer. I must admit it's probably the nerves of being on camera that can do you - some people handle it better than others.

The Love In My Heart came over later and I made us some pulled pork with a cider sauce, with some peas and mash to go on the side. I think it was nice just to get that cooked and be able to sit back and relax, even having a beer as well (namely the Black Sheep - in a Black Sheep glass to boot) and indulging The Love with some Emmerdale before sitting back and relaxing a fair bit. Even though the cat documentary was being repeated, we had already seen it.

What we did see though was the first episode of The Apprentice. And wow, I have to say that both The Love and I were wondering how the hell some of them were picked for the final twenty. The first selling task was a combination of items that have been sold in previous series, with the idea to get the most money. One team had the idea that adding a bread roll to the sausages, and they could sell them as hot dogs at lunch for profit. Good call, but why then faff around for two hours deciding which organic cheese and crap to go with it!

In the end though it was the lack of half of the men's team heading back for the t-shirts that was to prove their downfall - the lack of sales of any of those meant they lost the task, and not selling those proved to be a disaster. It wasn't difficult to work out who might be going, but there were some short sighted decisions and people not doing much, so in the end Chiles was fired for failing to direct the team back to get those t-shirts, despite him and others wanting to lay the blame on Steven for "being disruptive" - despite his common sense plea to go back for the t-shirts to sell. The mind, as they say, boggles.

Tune of the day in the meantime is the rather good "Talent Plus Attitude Equals Dollars" by Pop Will Eat Itself from their 1996 lost album "A Lick of the Old Cassette Box". No doubt this would have had to face massively heavy censoring as a radio edit if it was released as a single, but the whole ethos of the track is about that whole method of attitude mixed with talent to make money, particularly in the entertainment industry - and with added shock value to boot too. One of those moments when you know you've got it right.

Monday 13th October - Busy Bunny

I spent most of today on various jobs at work, fixing things, making things work, even having to try and work a controller for the window blinds in one room in order to remotely turn the blinds off, make it all dark in the room and therefore perfect for screening films as well. The things you have to do during the day! I also had some of the new Rovers starting and so was spending time with some of them taking them around some of the buildings and making sure all was well with what they needed to do.

I also had to try and sort out a potential issue with one of the printers which had a paper jam. After I checked, it looked like it was stuck in the top delivery tray, which wasn't that easy to get out as it happened. I think there'd been an attempt to send some jobs with staples being added to the prints (because they can do that) but what seemed to happen is that it got stuck for some reason. I soon managed to extract that all safely and it was then carrying on without issue, which was a relief and a half.

I got home later and spent some time watching Only Connect, and I have to say that I think it's got a little easier in the earlier rounds this year. Both teams solved the connecting wall and got all four connections as well, thus landing the ten point maximum. I was pretty impressed with the speed of response from the Orinteers during the missing vowels round though, they were mighty. No wonder in the end they won by several points, and they might be a force to reckoned with later on in the series.

After seeing the Jenson Button interview with the BBC F1 team yesterday, in that he said he wanted to "go racing" next year in a competitive car, it reminded me of the 2009 season when he stuck with the former Honda team to become Brawn GP and won the world title that year. Several of the drives during that season were impressive, including Malaysia in the rain and the rather excellent win in Monaco as well. Lots of great in-car footage too and it showed just how things were back then - and how Ross Brawn would leave one telling mark on F1 being a world champion constructor..

In the meantime tune of the day is the superb "Burn" by Nine Inch Nails which originally appeared on the soundtrack to the film Natural Born Killers, but also is the first track on the second disc of the deluxe edition of the album "The Downward Spiral". I guess for me that there's a lot in the lyrics that resonates with me right now, as well as the fact that there's some really stirring drums and guitar towards the end to purvey the feeling of the song rather well. This world never gave me a chance, this world's gonna have to pay...

Sunday 12th October - Chorlton and Bathurst

After a well deserved lie in, I headed up mainly to watch the Russian Grand Prix on BBC One. Admittedly this race was a bit of a procession, mainly because the tyres were pretty bullet proof and didn't wear at all, meaning that there was just one stop needed for most drivers to make sure they ran both compounds of tyre, and once the order had settled down it stayed that way, apart from Nico Rosberg having to battle back from being at the back after the very early pit stop to eventually become second.

The Love and I decided that it'd be nice to head out for a walk, so we decided to head to Chorlton Water Park, we'd not been there for a while. It was good just to do a full lap around the lake together and just chat as we did so, admiring the many swans and also the view over the water with the sun occasionally peeping out. It did really surprise me to see how many people were out there, taking their dogs for a walk, or even getting a coffee from the little stall set up near the entrance. It felt rather nice all round actually.

Later on after a soujourn into John Lewis in Cheadle (mainly window shopping but I did see some nice present ideas whilst we were in there) we headed to the Elizabethan in Heaton Moor for a rather nice spot of late afternoon lunch / early tea. We got my favourite table in there too and so were able to chatter more and I had a pint of their rather nice 100 ale, and the pulled pork brisket sandwich with fries and sour cream. Gorgeous that is, let me tell you. The Love had the Sunday roast turkey which also looked rather spot on too.

We headed back to mine and The Love left me to watch the England v Estonia game in Tallinn. It was a pretty dull game to be honest but the main thing was that England did win 1-0 with a Wayne Rooney free kick. We didn't play well and should have had more shots on target, and it looked puzzling why so many players seemed to struggle on occasion to keep the ball. I just wondered a little bit too that maybe playing a few players in this diamond formation wasn't working either.

It was then on to Motors TV (now free on Freeview, woohoo!) and on to the extended highlights of the Bathurst 1000. I had recorded their live coverage overnight but the race had over-ran and so the last 30 laps were missing (boo). However, it was well worth watching the highlights due to the race being a bit good. We're talking multiple safety cars due to drivers pushing the limit a little too much and going offline and then crashing. We're also talking the road breaking up and having a one hour safety stoppage under red flag conditions to repair the road to get the race up and running.

We're also talking an epic last few laps where Craig Lowndes tagged the back of Mark Winterbottom, meaning Lowndes got a drive through penalty to scupper his chances. And when that wasn't enough, Jamie Whincup's leading car was almost out of fuel and the team were telling him to save fuel at all times. It wasn't enough. Chas Mostert passed him on the final lap coming out of Forrest's Elbow, and he went on to win with James Moffat second and Nick Percat third. Whincup just limped over the line for fifth, but it was still a pretty epic race nonetheless considering he started 23rd and Mostert 25th and last on the grid. Tune of the day is "Heroes" by David Bowie, for obvious reasons really, anyone taking on that epic track is a hero in my view!

Saturday 11th October - The Good, The Bad and The Ugly

It was another day to try and relax and get back some energy. I've been feeling really drained and tired as of late and I guess it's the stress of work added to the not being able to get much time back to relax in the meantime. I had a lie in of sorts this morning and then headed out to the city centre. I needed to get a birthday present for my nephew and a card as well. Finding a decent card was actually more difficult than you'd imagine: I mean, how hard can it be for a card shop to have decent cards when someone reaches a certain age? But no. In the end, Paperchase were the best of the bunch and by some way too.

I did have a quick look around some of the shops and decided that I needed to soon start think about Christmas shopping and getting people presents - mainly because if I needed to order anything then I had to seriously think about the time it might take to get here. I've actually ordered one already from the USA which hasn't arrived yet, but should hopefully do so soon. It'll be good to also get cracking so I can then get most of it done before the end of November and be able to relax come December.

The Love In My Heart came over later and I started to make the tea with Strictly Come Dancing in the background and its themed movies night. On the whole it did work pretty well, with quite a few dancers taking an opportunity to have a good go at famous songs from films in dance form. The Love was pretty pleased with Simon Webbe (cos she likes him anyway!) but more so because of the fact that he and Kristina Rihanoff performed to "Take My Breath Away" by Berlin (make that tune of the day) which was of course the main song from the film Top Gun, with of course Tom Cruise in it.

Of course The Love insisted on turning the telly over later for The X Factor, much to my chagrin. I can't stand this show whatsoever and had to endure it for a fair amount of time. It was intriguing to see how bad some of the contestants were and indeed Overload Generation were a car crash waiting to happen, as was Stevi. Both were put through for the entertainment value rather than their singing attributes and it was so obvious to see. Cringe wasn't even close to the words I were thinking for this pile of rubbish.

I thought back to how Clint Mansell's wonderful film score soundtracks were far more thought provoking and brilliantly written, and indeed how he as a member of the incredible Pop Will Eat Itself were way ahead of their time in terms of them being a really good band, they were really on it live and that they also had a conscience too: after all you can't not write something as brilliant as "Ich Bin Ein Auslander" without having the finger on the pulse of what's really going on out there.

Friday 10th October - Requiem for a Friday Night Dream

I was massively excited today as I was heading to the Royal Northern College of Music later on to see Clint Mansell, former PWEI front man and now renowned film composer, making the soundtracks for the likes of Pi, Requiem for a Dream, The Wrestler, Doom, Black Swan, Noah and Last Night amongst a fair few. I knew too that the RNCM would be the sort of perfect place for him and ensemble: the acoustics are rather good in the main theatre. But first, a day of work to go through!

And actually it worked out pretty well. I was able to try and sort a fair few issues out today and also negotiated the early opening of one of the buildings on Monday and Tuesday so that our network contractors were able to get into the building and do the work that they needed to do. Either way it made a lot of sense for us to be able to sort that out, and I also had to head over last thing to another building and cross check a number of printers to make sure everything was working correctly, which they were.

Later on I headed home and had some tea and then headed on the bus to the Royal Northern College of Music. They have real ale at their bar so I had a pint of the Jennings Cumberland Ale and sat by the window, just relaxed and chilled out, and also with a view to seeing if I could spot anyone famous heading to the gig. I did have my PWEI Product blue t-shirt on so I was being a bit old school admittedly, but I had to in some way - after all the band were a huge part of my growing up and Clint was part of that, so...

Up on stage first was good friend and BBC 6 Music's Mary Anne Hobbs, who introduced him by reminding him of the first time they met when he had leather pants on and not much else. She had tried to convince him for tonight but said Clint was having none of it. Clint came on and said a quick hello before blitzing into the main theme from Pi, and still has that really good vibe to it (I still adore this, so tune of the day was a simple decision for me really).

He did a fairly lengthy suite around the main "Welcome To Lunar Industries" theme of Moon, and also headed into the Requiem for a Dream suite, with some of the overtures (and some really superb strings from the Sonos Quartet on stage with him) before then leaning into the rather ace "Lux Aeterna" of course, which just grew with each string being played. Of course that's been used a lot from Sky Sports News to being remade for Lord of the Rings, but still sounded brilliant with the original composer doing the business.

It was a nice idea to have "Not At Home" from the Last Night soundtrack with the singer playing on the video wall behind which worked well, and there were also parts from the Noah soundtrack, where Clint described how director Darren Aranofsky kept the Hollywood execs away from him and that the score would be ready for the right time - fascinating stuff. He also mentioned a time he met with Madonna and had had a chip on his top from a quick burger drive through on the way.

He also played a track from "The Wrestler" as well, and later on the evening closed with "Stay With Me" and the superb "Death Is The Road To Awe" from The Fountain soundtrack. The latter really did grow beautifully throughout, and the ensemble were all up fo playing this with some nice visuals out back. Clint was quite humble throughout and really appreciated the crowd being there and in his words, giving it a chance. And it was well worth taking. Different, but really good.

Thursday 9th October - London and San Marino

I should add: not in one day (although I suppose it's doable). It was an early rise for me this morning, as I was getting the 0555 train to London Euston. It was primarily to head around London but also because I had a meeting planned (not work related) as well - namely a job interview. I had applied for a job that was based down there, and wanted to see if the place was going to be good enough for me, as well as me being good enough for them. It would also possibly give me an ideal of evaluating whether if I was successful whether the pace of life would be right for a move.

I got to Euston on time and headed on the 205 bus out of there, and was able to sit down and just enjoy the view from the top deck as it headed East from Euston. I got to where I needed to go, had a bit of a walk and also some breakfast, and then was ready for the 10.15 appointment to face the panel. I wasn't sure how it went really, I suspect that I may have messed up on a couple of questions, but at the same time, I also thought that it was good experience for me to be able to re-acquaint myself with the process and see how I would perform. It's a difficult situation for both sides though.

I headed back towards Euston on the bus later and stopped off at one of my favourite places in London - The Crown and Anchor close to Euston - for lunch. It wasn't mega busy so I was able to sit by the window and people watch a bit, with a nice pint of Doom Bar and also a very gorgeous fish finger bun, complete with nice fries and some gorgeous tartare sauce on the top too. Yum it was, and just the thing to sort me out before I'd be heading on the train back to Manchester Piccadilly a bit later.

I was still a bit bunged up, so I got myself dosed up and then made myself some tea before settling in for the evening's England game against San Marino for the European Qualifiers. In essence I thought that this should be an easy win, and so it proved too, with the team knocking the ball around (sometimes a bit carelessly though) and waiting for a gap in the 10 man defence to show. As it turned out a corner was headed in by Phil Jagielka for 1-0 before Wayne Rooney was fouled in the box and scored the resulting penalty to make it 2-0 before half time.

Two changes were made at the start of the second half and this massively improved the team - the pace of Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain down the right meant that chances were coming thick and fast, and one of them was really nicely turned in by Danny Welbeck - his ninth goal in seven games at the moment. (I wonder if Man U are wondering if they got rid of the wrong player now?) Andros Townsend came on and looked very lively too, his long range effort was superbly hit to make it 4-0 before Rooney's cross cum shot bounced off the San Marino defender and in for an own goal to make it 5-0.

It wasn't convincing but at the same time it was a win, and with Estonia away on Sunday the England team did what they had to do and made sure of the result. I'd have liked to have seen more goals but there were plenty of chances being made, so hopefully the finishing will be even more spot on then. Tune of the day is The Verve's "Bittersweet Symphony" which is used by ITV to introduce the England coverage. It still somehow works, even though the England team currently are nowhere near as good as that band used to be.

Wednesday 8th October - Bake!

It was nice just to be able to relax after a stressful day at work, and also because I felt the need to really be able to kick back a little bit. I had in fact worked some overtime tonight as well, which was effectively taking the student IT rovers around with me and showing them the wide format printers, and how they work, and what to do in the event of them going wrong. It was quite good to see that in all essence that a few of the rovers were the same ones we had last year - so that they already know the drill.

The Love In My Heart had also been working late too and so once she had finished her duties and fussed over the cats for a bit she headed to mine, I made us some chicken with a pancetta and leek topping along with some mash and vegetables, and then we settled in to watch the final of The Great British Bake Off, which we've been watching for the last few weeks. As it's a Wednesday night we don't often always see it together, so it was nice to cosy up and cuddle for the final.

I must admit that once the first two challenges had gone, I suspected it was down to two instead of three. Richard, who had been the star baker a fair few times over the course of the series, really had a meltdown, and the pastries in the first challenge were almost too simple to muck up - but they were, and a little overproved as well, so not great. The second challenge, having to get three lots of twelve cakes perfect, was really hard, and the tarte au citron proved his undoing with a virtually unedible tart. Luis fared a little better (only just) but Nancy really kept her head and all of hers were good - and I thought then "she might win this if she does a decent showstopper".

As it was, the showstopper involved various baking methods including a nice sponge, some croquembouche and a windmill type decoration on the outside, made of spun sugar where possible. Richard paid homage to his home place with Mill on the Hill and Luis did the same with his almost mine shaft looking tribute to his home town of Poynton in Cheshire. Nancy's looked good and with a twist, her spun sugar windmill could actually spin around due to the design that she'd made. Clever and also pretty cool.

Outside all the previous contestants from this series had gathered and all of them had different opinions on who would win. It was really nice to see that the judges based it on the consistency of the three bakes and the whole series, and quite rightly in my view based on that Nancy won. Of course for some it seemed a shock result, but Mary and Paul were in unanimous agreement, as were The Love and I. I am sure that her grandkids are massively proud of her (imagine them going into school saying: "My grandma's won Bake Off, so ner!") and it was all rather lovely.

It shows too that with a lot of viewers (more than The X Factor apparently!) that sometimes it's not about the whole wanting to be famous persona, it's about a good old fashioned bit of English traditionalness, complete with the lovely Mel and Sue (can't believe the flak they get from some people: had they never even seen the show on BBC2?) providing that bit of wit and warmth to make it all lovely and fluffy too. In fact tune of the day is going to be the opening theme from The Great British Bake Off, it just resembles all the nice things in a quintessential British summer time in forty seconds or so. Fab.

Tuesday 7th October - Splutter

It was another really busy day at work today, so I was just able to try and get my head down and concentrate on the stuff that I really needed to do. On the whole I was pretty pleased that I was really trying to do whatever I could to help out wherever possible. I also knew that I needed to deploy an application fix to a few machines, but it was then that I noticed that for some reason one of the distribution points wasn't quite playing ball. I flagged this to one of my colleagues and they were able to get onto the case and have a good look why this was.

It was a very wet afternoon though and I was pretty pleased that the regulation hoody top that we have with us all logo-ed up does have a hood that keeps you reasonably dry in the bad weather. I must admit after the last month of relatively mild weather, the fact it's been that bad with so much rain falling in a short space of time does remind me of how it can be. I was a bit worried in fact that it was going to be a right deluge on the way home, but thankfully to a degree that didn't happen so much.

Later on The Love In My Heart came over, and I made us some tea, namely some pork in a mustard and ale sauce along with some potato gratin and some petits pois. It was pretty nice overall, and a new thing that Tesco brought out, so good to try really. I even indulged The Love and served the tea in the living room for her so she could keep up with her usual fix of Emmerdale (double episode too much to my chagrin, but you can't win them all I guess)

After that we saw the first part of the Horizon special which was all about cats. We both found it fascinating as there were behaviours that we saw which mirrored The Love's two cats Jô and Brian, and also how the sense of smell can really detect if other cats have been in their territory. It was also good to see how the confined and small spaces that a cat often thought to be safe were the ones which they would look at first, especially in unfamiliar surroundings. Looking forward to the remaining parts of this!

We also did see Don't Tell The Bride, and having someone try to do sky diving and a bungee jump on the wedding day was nothing short of certifiably mental. However it was also good to see that at least he picked a decent dress for the bride that she actually liked (woohoo!) so that was pleasing. I did wonder though how far the actual venue was from where they lived though - not everyone would necessarily like that. Tune of the day in the meantime is the brilliant "God Only Knows" by The Beach Boys, which has been covered by a multitude of artists for BBC Music for Children in Need - and Brian Wilson himself is even on it...

Monday 6th October - Sweating It Out

Having a cold and being in work equals not the best place to be. However, because I don't believe in taking time off work unless you're really poorly, I headed into work and did what I could. I did spend a fair amount of time in the afternoon sorting out some printers with a colleague, and the heating seemed to be cranked up a considerable amount in there. It did mean that in my branded and logo-ed up top for work that it was rather warm and it was almost an attempt to sweat out the cold with the number of walks up floors I had to do armed with cartridges and paper.

Still it was also an opportunity this afternoon to take part in some training and help assist and train up some of the people that we tend to employ as rovers heading around and assisting people. It was good to see plenty of enthusiasm and knowledge, and be able to be someone that they could see as an example as to how they would work as well. It was also good because we could get a bit hands on in terms of some of the stuff that they'll be looking after but also make it a bit more informal too, probably a good idea that.

I must admit though that the incessant rain hasn't helped any today though - it's been pretty much hammering it down and so it's been good to try and avoid most of that where possible. It's not been easy as I've had to head out to lots of buildings to deliver a few things but also to make sure that where possible things keep ticking over rather nicely. But when it's chucking it down and you're sneezing or coughing, it doesn't exactly make for a good combination shall we say.

I decided to take things a bit easier when I got home and so wanted to play something to get me through the dullest task in the world (aka ironing). So what better than Pop Will Eat Itself's 1994 album "Dos Dedos Mis Amigos" eh? Lots of good reasons to like this record: firstly it has Ich Bin Ein Auslander, still one of my favourite tracks of theirs and still as relevant now as it was then (when it shouldn't be though) so tune of the day there. Secondly, it shows how the band were developing into a more harder Industrial sound and rocking out a lot more, especially with the likes of "Fatman" and "Everything's Cool" (complete with guitar riff from "Thieves" by Ministry re-worked). And lastly, it was their last proper album as the original line-up.

I did also put on their double live CD from their 2005 reformation tour, it was the gig I went to in Birmingham on 22nd January 2005 (still one of my best ever gigs to be honest) and being able to buy it not long after the gig finished was pretty special back then. It's got lots of great moments, a storming Wise Up! Sucker, a powerful rendition of Their Law, and a really neat and driving Kick To Kill as well, plus lots of great tracks spanning the career of the band, even the really early stuff in the encore - and Beaver Patrol too. Yes, yes and fricking yes in that order really.

I also watched Only Connect tonight and have to say that I did pretty well, but both sets of contestants were on fire tonight. They both did the wall and got all the connections too, ten points to each side. Okay, so the second wall might have been a tad on the easy side, but you still have to get it right. I did smile when the first question on the Missing Vowels round turned out to be Central African Republic, a favourite of course to answer when on Pointless (as fans of the show will know). It was countries who start and and in the same letter, so made perfect sense to have that. I know Richard Osman off Pointless is a big fan of Only Connect, so somehow it all makes sense. Quite liked the blue dress Victoria Coren-Mitchell had on tonight too...

Sunday 5th October - Fresh Air vs Bunged Up

Both myself and The Love In My Heart were both suffering colds somewhat, which in truth meant a relatively early night for both of us. Considering the combined bunged up feeling that we both had, I didn't sleep too badly although The Love did tell me that she woke up a bit earlier than I did, but managed to get back to sleep for a bit. I must admit even though normally I would have been up at around 7am for the Japanese Grand Prix, I was glad I recorded it so I could watch it later when I was a bit more awake and alert.

And I have to say that whatever happened in the race, and as good as it was (impressive performances from all the drivers in those conditions, but Jenson Button and Daniel Ricciardo deserve a lot of credit) the whole race was overshadowed by the huge accident for Jules Bianchi, who crashed off and hit a recovery vehicle which was attempting to remove Adrian Sutil's car from the track having gone off the same corner a lap before. Understandably the thoughts are with Jules today, I just hope he manages to pull through this one and the way that the drivers were all very sombre post race said a lot in that the drivers are all together. Fingers very much crossed on that one.

Later on once I'd made some breakfast and we pottered around for a bit, I decided that we both needed to head out. The Love mentioned she needed to get a couple of bits from Tesco so I headed out there with her and to the one in Stockport. As it turned out we both got things we wanted, but especially me as I saw a quite nice shirt that even at a tenner was decent value. Then I saw it was a mere six pounds when I put it through the till and that was even better too - sometimes you get a bargain when you least expect it to be honest.

We then headed off to Fletcher Moss Gardens in Didsbury for a walk around there, and it was nice just to saunter around and in the relatively peaceful calm fresh air too. We followed the path towards Stenner Woods, on the raised wooden platforms, and then headed alongside the flood plain path and around by the trees towards the River Mersey before heading back along the path through the lined poplar trees and then up the hill along the path back past the old grass tennis courts. We did also see that the rockery was closed off as well for restoration work but that hadn't stopped people from having a cuppa at the Alpine Tea Room, thankfully.

Later on we had Sunday lunch at The Didsbury pub, which was nice because we could sit outside and enjoy one last lovely warm day, and it was pretty nice. Lots of people were doing the same and it did feel quite warm and stuffy inside so it was a good move really. We both ended up having the turkey which was rather lovely, and not least because it came with lots of roasties, nice mix of vegetables, and lashings of gravy. Just the thing after a good walk, and for some reason I had the Fun Lovin Criminals' version of "We Have All The Time In The World" in my head, so tune of the day.

We got back and I kept an eye on the F1 news, and it seemed that Jules Bianchi was being operated on. It obviously is very serious and as you can imagine, I'm really hoping that he pulls through. F1 is a great sport to watch and seeing drivers perform as they do is inspiring, but I know that there's always an element of danger to it, which really hit home today. I know there'll be lessons learned from it, and in many ways it might be a good reality check too. Forza Jules.

Saturday 4th October - I Can't Get No Sleep

I tried as much as I could to try and sleep overnight, but the bunged up feeling I had was keeping me awake. I was trying all I could to tire myself out in order to make me want to go to sleep, but even that wasn't doing what it wanted to. In the end I decided just to lie there in bed but sit up so at least I wasn't feeling that bad, and so with some Olbas Oil in the pillow case to help me breathe, it was time to at least try and sleep. I eventually managed to crash out at 2am so I decided to record the F1 qualifying so I could watch it later.

As it turned out it was a good decision and seeing all the build up to the qualifying revealed it all happening in the background: for example I knew Fernando Alonso was heading away from Ferrari, but last night Sebastian Vettel revealed he was leaving Red Bull, and the reckoning was (and confirmed by Red Bull's Christian Horner) that he was off to Ferrari instead. Daniil Kvyat was then going to leave Toro Rosso and head to Red Bull next year, and so the mad driver merry go round begins. Looks like Jenson Button might be the one to miss out on it all though sadly...

In any case qualifying was good albeit the usual close 1-2 between the two Mercedes drivers, with Nico Rosberg just edging out Lewis Hamilton this time around. Behind it was also not that bad, but the usual five teams filling the top ten, so as well as Mercedes it was Williams, Ferrari, Red Bull and McLaren. Interestingly the latter three teams all had a combined placing of 15 (5th and 10th for Ferrari, 6th and 9th for Red Bull, and 7th and 8th for McLaren) which shows that it's competitive up there but also one driver at Ferrari and Red Bull outshining the other by some degree.

It's notable that Sebastian Vettel for the first time in years doesn't have a mega competitive car, and he's got a team mate who is looking not only more hungry, but you could argue the better driver. Alonso himself was the one who had said "let's see how he does in not the best car" and he was spot on. It's also telling perhaps how well Ricciardo has done this year: three wins in the Red Bull to Vettel's none. Makes me wonder if Mark Webber knew if any of this was going to happen, would he have been more tempted to stay on a bit?

Tune of the day in the meantime is the Faithless classic "Insomnia" - it certainly was me last night as I did all I could to try and sleep. But the recurring line as sung in that track, with pauses between each word: "I.. can't.. get.. no.. sleep" certainly was me. Here's hoping that The Love In My Heart coming over and being able to spend some quality time with me might be enough for me to be able to sleep soundly this evening. Here's hoping anyway...

Friday 3rd October - Bunged Up But Unbowed

I could tell during the day that the cold was really starting to kick in, and I was either feeling really hot or really cold with nothing in between. I did though have to venture out to one building to have a good look at possible other network locations for a printer, and that was quite intriguing that being able to look up revealed some network sockets that were actually almost in the ceiling of one of the floors of the building - perfect for things like wireless access points of course, but also could be utilised elsehwere. Hmm.. I thought to myself.

I did escape for a quick lunch and I had to take it late because there wasn't enough people around for me to be able to do the normal time, and thought it better for me to be able to get on with it and just then get as much as I could done. I did spot an interesting issue with someone using a Mac in that for some reason one of their plugins for Adobe Reader seemed to want to be accepted for every single site. Not really what you want of course, so I worked out where the necessary security setting was in Safari and sorted that one out.

I also now have something else going on next week too that I didn't have planned as well, so I suspect that I'll be cramming a lot of work in next week and seeing how everything goes. I suppose you just have to be prepared for what happens and try and adapt as best you could, although it can throw you a little bit if you're trying to plan ahead. All I can say is that it's not unexpected but quite welcome too. It might even mean that there's a few more changes afoot further down the line.

I also noted two thngs with Manchester City: they're actually doing the tickets for the Newcastle United league cup game for a pound for kids in the Family Stand, which to be fair is rather good of them: get a nice big crowd in during the half term and get them to enjoy some cup football and a good atmosphere. And of course if it's a first game for them too, get them drawn in with hopefully a win and get them hooked, so they'll want to go again. City though have always tried to make the experience as cheap as possible for kids because parents pay enough for the tickets as is, so makes a lot of sense.

Also the UEFA Disciplinary panel met today, and they decided that due to the racist and violent behaviour of their fans, CSKA Moscow have to play their next three European games behind closed doors. As we were due to play them next in the Champions League, it means no fans will need to travel whatsoever. The ban goes further though: their fans are also banned from the next two away games, which means that they can't go to see them against either ourselves or Bayern Munich. I think any repeat offence would have them kicked out of the tournament to be honest. City to be fair have also requested that fans contact them if they've booked any flights or hotels for the trip (and possibly visas too) which won't be refundable. It may well be that the club are going to help out the fans financially to compensate them, and if they do, that's pretty good of them too.

I spent some time tonight listening to some classic 1980s tracks, notably because of a Top of the Pops programme on BBC Four that essentially played many of the hits from that decade as they would have appeared on the show back in the day. So you got the likes of Wham, Frankie Goes To Hollywood, Billy Ocean, Yazz, Dead or Alive, even Tiffany! But what you did get was Duran Duran showing them how it was done and performing "The Reflex" on there, still one of my favourite tracks of theirs - so tune of the day

Thursday 2nd October - Step Inside, Love

It was another lengthy day, and plenty of things for me to check over. One was to see the potential location to re-house one of the large format printers and see if there was enough room to fit it in a certain place, and also work out if there was any power or data requirements which were needed. By the look of it, there seemed to be possibly one spare power socket, but also no networks close by. However the space that potentially could be used meant that it would actually fit pretty nicely, so possibly a positive there. We shall see.

I did feel rather dry in the throat today though and I suspect that I may be coming down with a cold. Quite a number of staff as of late have appeared to have caught the yearly cold bug that seems to always be prevalent at the start of the year, and battling through that is something to always be aware of. For me, I know that these are the first signs so later on once I got home I tried my hardest to ward it off a little with some paracetemol and see how I did with that as well as plenty of hot drinks during the day to keep the temperature ticking over nicely.

The Love In My Heart came over later, and this meant we were able to have a really nice meal together, some gammon with a cheese sauce and little chunks of pineapple, which I did with some potato gratin as well as some petits pois and carrots. I even timed it well so that the meal was finished once the first bout of Emmerdale had finished, and so The Love didn't miss out on any of that either. In fact the gammon worked out nicer than I expected so I was quite pleased with my little self. It's the little things, you know?

We did see Paul O'Grady: For The Love of Dogs later, and although not a big dog fan, I must admit seeing them being rehomed restores the faith in humanity a bit. One little chihuahua caught the eye, it was losing hair with a skin issue and once it had been operated on, and one very nice kind owner found, it eventually had a full coat of hair and was the figure of health and happiness. Some of them were really shy because of their previous bad treatment, and so it was good to see how nice the staff were. In fact the chihuahua had been looked after by one of the vet nurses from the Dogs' Home and she welled up with tears when it was rehomed, because she'd bonded with it so much. Awwww indeed.

We did see the recording of the final episode of Cilla from Monday night, a series that we've both really enjoyed. Sheridan Smith is great as Cilla of course, and singing all the songs herself too - respect to her for that. If there's a best supporting actor BAFTA, it'd be nice if Aneurin Barnard won it, who played her eventual husband and manager Bobby. He really was an excellent foil throughout, and actually Ed Stoppard did a really good role of being Brian Epstein too.

Of course having Sheridan sing all the songs herself really did elevate it massively, and felt much more believable because of it. At the end what would be the theme tune to her TV series, a Lennon/McCartney composition no less, was played with her singing it - "Step Inside Love" no less. If I had to pick one song which would stick out, this would be it, it was good enough to stand alone as a song in its own right too, so tune of the day was a very easy decision.

Wednesday 1st October - Testing Times

I have a feeling that the next month or so might be a pretty defining month in many ways. I can't say too much why at the moment, but there's potentially a lot of things going on in a short space of time, so it'll be interesting to see how everything pans out. I do have four gigs to go to as well, two of which are with The Love In My Heart (yaay), one is with one of my friends, and one on my own, which is Clint Mansell at Royal Northern College of Music a week on Friday. I'm particularly looking forward to this one.

And in his former band Pop Will Eat Itself-related news, today came a very nice package in the post too - in fact, one of two I got. This was their On Patrol In The UK 2012 live double CD, recorded at Sub89 in Reading. And unlike the Abbey Road live shop it was originally on sale at, it was a much more reasonable price, and with some killer tracks too. It reminded me of seeing them at Manchester Club Academy in October 2011 and realising just how still brilliant they were live (having of course been to their 2005 reformation gigs, so the first in six years I saw them play) and on this live set, they're in ace form. "Ich Bin Ein Auslander" sounded particuarly good here, so tune of the day it is.

The other arrival was something else I'd ordered via one of the sellers on Discogs and a gap in the collection that I really fancied filling as soon as possible: MC Solaar's original French issue of his second album "Prose Combat". For those of you who don't know, the UK release via Talkin'Loud/Polydor has three tracks substituted from the original, and a different running order as well as the back sleeve and front logo being yellow instead of orange of the original. On the flip side, some French fans also like to have the UK release so they too have both. It of course has some great tracks anyway such as "A la claire fontaine" used in a Kronenbourg advert many years ago.

I was also busy today due to having to be involved in a different sort of selection process. This involved with a colleague keeping an eye on a group of people conducting an exercise to see how they would interact in a situation and how they would be able to deal with others. In a way spending a fair amount of time means that you get to see a lot of personality as well as professionalism, and I have to say given the "deep end" sort of situation, a lot of them met it pretty well. I was pretty consistent with my colleague who had done this sort of thing before, and that was a positive for me to be honest.

I think though that the time spent doing that and some training next week is going to eat into other stuff I will need to be doing, so a fair amount of balancing might be required. And that won't be easy. I think first thing tomorrow the plan is to organise myself in my head, work out what needs to be done when and then put the wheels into motion. I hope I can get that done. I do worry sometimes about having too much to do and not enough time to do it, and I also really don't like letting people down either.