Dear Diary... September 2008

Tuesday 30th September - Ecstatic

Well, the last day of this month, and certainly pretty busy. Although I only had one induction session to look after today, it was for the Creative Practice course, and it was a case of taking it a little slower than normal so that everyone could note everything down, and was asked plenty of questions too. I don't mind that, not at all, and it's better to ask questions now than to be found out later when there's problems I suppose. It has been pretty busy though all round nonetheless with me having to sort plenty of jobs out in the afternoon: fixing a scanner, ensuring that a piece of software was installed that was needed for a University-wide project, oh and on top of all that, ensuring that we could reset lots of PIN numbers for the photocopiers, long story behind that one!

Mind you, I got home to get a very very nice surprise through the post: the Vonda Shepard album that I'd ordered had arrived, and on the same day that the album was released in the USA! How nice is that? Oh, and because I'd pre-ordered the album from the official website, this also meant that my copy was signed on the front by Vonda herself. Indeed, just how nice is that? As for the album itself, it's a little bit more soulful than some of her earlier work but it's certainly very listenable indeed and her voice is in mighty fine form, which is the important thing. It always helps too when her husband just so happens to be a producer and did the production on this release. That saves time and effort!

In fact, I played PJ Harvey's superb "White Chalk" album first off tonight, as that really did need a listen again, it just has a dark brooding quality that's just so right for these Autumnal nights that seem to be the norm at the moment, especially as it gets pretty cold once it gets dark. I still love the title track and the closer "The Mountain" that just draws you in and doesn't let you go, which always has to be a good thing. I discussed later on with The Apple Of My Eye about how PJ is one of those artists that you get or you don't, which is very true, I think. It takes a lot to be able to appreciate just what she does too because it's not exactly what you'd expect.

Back to the Vonda Shepard album, and had a good couple of plays of that, and thankfully I wasn't disappointed either. There's a nice mix of upbeat pop numbers to the softer more reflective side, and it reminds me of just how much she has grown and without the need of the Ally McBeal series to bolster sales. There's usually a really nice piano led piece on the album, and thankfully this has it as its closer, and it's just a really warm feeling inside when you listen to "Finally Home", so give that one tune of the day. It just feels right.

Monday 29th September - Just Another Manic Monday

And boy, do I wish it were Sunday! If anything could happen today, then today is when it was going to happen, for sure. First off, the whole network ground to a halt just after lunch as some of the central routers decided that they wanted to have a game of reboot. Stuff happens of course, but then for some reason the photocopier PIN numbers used by students so that they are able to use the copiers and debit their student accounts for the privelege also decided not to play ball, had to reset a load of them and send some diagnostic stuff over as well, which had to be something. And if that wasn't enough, I then had to try and fix a couple of problems with some student accounts as well - including some moves.

Mind you, I have to say that it's always a different kettle of fish when you're working on the Help Desk as well, as my colleague was on a training course today so I was covering. I think you get to see more of the problems at first hand that you wouldn't normally get to know of, and that you're also more aware of how you need to be perceived by the public. On the whole you know who you can talk to and who you can laugh with, and that takes time really to build that level up, but when you do, it's so worth it. In fact I was helping a couple of students out with their passwords and they noted I had my staff card on and so was able to see that in fact the staff mugshots are as bad as the student ones, teehee!

Made my way to Mum's on the way home to see the kitchen renovation et al - it's looking very nice, it has to be said. The wallpapering is done in the lounge and dining room and although the latter's wallpaper is a bit loud, it does kind of work. The kitchen looks gorgeous and I am sure will be a pleasure to use, and the integrated fridge, dishwasher etc are all spot on. In fact my brother was putting the finishing touches to the wooden floor in the living room and he was doing a fine job, it all looks good. I'm dead pleased because my Mum was worried that it was all taking forever and not getting to a point that she'd want it to be, but in the end I am sure we'll get there.

Had a bit of a chill out mode tonight to get over the pretty manic day that was Monday, but on the whole it's out of the way now and the rest of the week should be a bit more leisurely, I hope. In view of today's fun and games, it would be easy to pick Manic Monday by The Bangles, but instead I'm going to pick "Another Day" by Roy Harper, as the sun has just set as I'm typing this. The kettle's on, the sun has gone, another day. Says it all really. Tune of the day easily, not least because the song also means something to Mum too.

Sunday 28th September – Dingledodies

Another day out today, what am I like? This time it was to meet one of my best friends to firstly meet up in the pub, watch the City game and then head off to the Lowry to see Russell Howard, as we’re both big fans of his since his comedic injections into Mock The Week, and whyever not? It was going to be a good day and I felt that when I saw the sun shining lovely and brightly into proceedings as I awoke on the Sunday morning.

Before I headed out I had time to see most of the Singapore F1 race, and my, wasn’t that different? Being a night race under lights was something else, not least when the race changed during the first safety car as Ferrari had a nightmare. The fuel was added to Felipe Massa’s car but the stupid system that they have for pit release failed again, and not only did the green light come on too early, meaning he’d get released right in front of Adrian Sutil, but also the fuel nozzle was still on, and it wasn’t till the end of the pit lane that Massa realised. Sooner or later, they will have to revert to manual I reckon!

Still, the race seemed pretty interesting, overtaking was possible, and it looked good for Fernando Alonso who would score a well taken win. Well done him I say, it made a lot of sense that he was keeping his cool and driving at pace, plus making a strategy work for him really well. Also kudos to Red Bull who realised as soon as Nelson Piquet Jr was crashing that a safety car was due and so pulled their cars in quickly before any issues with running out of fuel because of pit lane closure occurred, sensible that. It at least helped David Coulthard to score some points.

So, met my friend and we headed out to Varsity and got a nice table with a view of the football, saw the second half of Hibs-Celtic and then it went over to the City game. Had the Rocky Road chicken whilst I was there, all lovely, and definitely that helped me contain my energy. I think I’d have been shouting at the telly otherwise as the referee for City’s game was rubbish, gave Wigan a really soft penalty and then later when Richard Dunne was cropped in the box, gave nothing. We admittedly didn’t deserve to win but a draw would have been sufficient, instead a painful 2-1 defeat that didn’t do us any favours whatsoever.

Off then on the tram to the Lowry, got there early for a cuppa and a natter, which was lovely. Before we knew it, it was time to take the seats and see Russell, but first his support act was on. Steven Hall was pretty good and witty, and definitely played on the fact that he was Jewish quite a bit but self deprecating, which worked well. I loved the story of how his Dad sorted out a problem with a neighbour and their bikes, which was great when you heard the actual punch line.

Russell himself was fab, he really put effort into what he did. Most of it was off the cuff with recollections in between, but he really went into some dark places into a funny way. Whether he was pulling faces or making voice impersonations to go along with the story, or when he explained the process of trying to catch his Mum unawares during a “mum-nap” only for his Mum to spot him and say “Loser”, to the bizarre questions being asked to him in the questions and answers session that formed the encore, he was on top form. The hour and a half or so went very quickly indeed and I am sure that he had a whale of a time – my friend and I certainly did!

As we headed on the tram back homewards, we reflected on a good day all round, and it was. Friends are great, and one thing I’ve learned a lot is that keeping them is important, as they will be the ones who will be there for you a heck of a lot when you need them. And of course if you have lots of fun, well that’s rather great too. Tune of the day has to be “Lift Me Up” by Moby, cos it’s so well used in the F1 coverage and there’s only three times I’ll hear that on ITV during a race now…

Saturday 27th September – Take Me To Scout Moor

Up reasonably early (although we all like a little lie in at weekends don’t we?) and a nice day out all planned, as The Sauce In My Pasta and myself were off to Scout Moor, between Rochdale and Edenfield, to check out the Open Day for the wind farm. Now although some people originally objected to the wind farm being built, proclaiming the natural landscape would be spoilt, you can’t help but admire the view of them standing majestically over the moorland from afar, not to mention the environmental benefits that they offer, which has to be a good thing. Harnessing natural energy is so much cleaner, don’t you think?

We headed towards Rochdale, cutting the town centre out and going past the football ground, and then up on the road through Norden and towards the walk to the wind farm itself, close to one of the remote pubs up there. We soon realised that it was pretty busy judging by the traffic heading along the road and looking for a parking space, and this was at around 11.30am! After managing to get to the main pathway, it was a walk of around a mile or so, mainly uphill, on the moorland path.

We soon got to a point where people were queuing and when we looked, it was definitely nowhere near the actual wind turbines themselves. Upon closer investigation, it turned out to be a stile which only one person could go over at a time, and if people were heading down as well as up, it was a case of taking turns and waiting patiently for the right moment to go over. We did that and soon we were up the last path to the top and the number one turbine. Indeed people were queuing to have a look inside at the workings, and also with fire engines laid on the children were dressing as firefighters, which worked rather well.

Nothing though could prepare you for the sheer size and scale of a turbine themselves. Standing underneath one made you feel very small and seeing their ends glide around in the wind was something else. Indeed one of them was casting a shadow over one of the main paths, and you could tell by the length of the shadow just how massive the path was, impressive stuff it has to be said. The weather was also lovely and even high up there you could see through the mist towards Peel Tower and beyond. Plenty of walkers were hiking the moorland too, and it was impressive to see so many people come to have a look – clearly it made an impression.

We headed into Edenfield and found a nice pub (after the first one we saw was closed for some inexplicable reason) and they did some lovely pub food too – my steak and ale pie was really nice, and plenty of it. In fact it was relatively nice and quiet and away from the hubbub of the main life, so that was good. After that, it was back down into Ramsbottom to have a quick mooch around the shops, and indeed there was one which did all sorts of chocolate that was rather lovely – even some strawberries dipped in chocolate!! How nice did that sound? (And yes, we did buy some for later, not that daft you know!)

Headed home later after a nice day out and settled in for Strictly Come Dancing – it was the turn of the ladies this time around and by all accounts they did well from what we saw. I had a feeling that both Rachel Stevens and Cherie Lunghi could play to their strengths with their dance – Rachel’s salsa meant she could flex her body so that even more men would fancy her, and Cherie was graceful and elegant in her foxtrot, which I’m sure attracted plenty of the older men too. The Sauce In My Pasta admitted that Rachel’s dance partner, Vincent Simone, was pretty fanciable as well, and that quite a few of the people would vote for that couple. Mind you, they were good at least, which says something.

I did flick through later on and noticed that Z Factor was back on. Dear me. It seemed that for the auditions at boot camp the contestants had to sing one of a few songs to a piano backing, and see if their voice carried the tune okay. It really upset me to hear bad versions of The Zutons’ “Valerie” (which were all done in the Mark Ronson/Amy Winehouse style, meh?) and even worse, some lyrically awful renditions of Snow Patrol’s “Chasing Cars”. So much so that I wanted to hear the original one just to make up for all the bad ones, and thankfully it got played later, so the original needs to be tune of the day, without any hesitation. I just wish that the telly wasn’t full of crap like Z Factor on a Saturday – can’t people realise that there’s a whole load of talented artists that never make it because they don’t get on telly but instead are out there making good tunes and playing to much smaller audiences than they should have??

Friday 26th September – Friday I’m In Food Love

It was a good Friday really - I had plenty to do in terms of the induction sessions today. In fact I had three out of the first four sessions from this morning and two of them being back to back, so that meant intense concentration and also making sure that I had enough liquid refreshment to make sure that I was actually up to the task of delivering my usual spiel to the masses. Thankfully it all went without any hitches and that was good to see – indeed the staff I’ve been doing the sessions with have thanked me for being there and for also being on time. The way I see it is that you should make the effort to be on time if the students are, stands to reason, that.

At lunchtime it was time to head for a Chinese as one of the colleagues that we all know was leaving for pastures new. It was definitely well worth the trip out as we all headed to Peking Court for their lunchtime buffet. It’s a bit more expensive than the other Chinese buffet lunches, but with the added options of chicken in lemon sauce and crispy duck amongst other things, two of my favourite dishes. The quality is pretty good, although my colleague mentioned that he found some of them a little too salty, and for me being able to have the chicken was rather nice all round, and with some ice cream for dessert, certainly filled the hole, so to speak.

My colleague was also heading out for some drinks after work, so headed over to the Britons Protection later on and had a nice refreshing pint of Jennings Cumberland Ale in there, and all sat outside on the terracing as well which was rather good. The weather was even holding somewhat so it was actually like a midsummer day (albeit with a few degrees knocked off) but good to see lots of people and to enjoy a leisurely pint as well, not something I always do after work but there’s always exceptions. And I must admit that although I’m not surprised why my colleague’s leaving, there’ll be a void to be filled, that’s for sure.

Headed home, got changed and headed out to Wagamama for a meal later that I’d already arranged. What was even better that the one in Spinningfields had an offer on with it being its third birthday and all, a case of buy one get one free on the main meals. Seemed that everyone had that offer as well, can’t blame them. Not least when the chicken katsu curry that I had was all rather lovely with plenty of chicken and a nice tangy sauce to boot. Well, I just had to not resist and have the coconut reika afterwards, didn’t I?

Had a listen to quite a few tunes today once I got home from work but there’s one in particular that I thought seemed pretty apt for my mood of feeling: “Friday I’m In Love” by The Cure. It’s not only a rather ace song and Robert Smith is genius in it, but it’s also got great pop sensibilities. Woohoo. Oh yes. And I even bunged on the Cure Greatest Hits DVD later on just so I could watch the video because it’s fun. Tune of the day easily methinks.

Thursday 25th September - Another Fine Induction With You

Another day at the office, and slowly but surely things are now going back to normal. For a start, the enrolment sessions are pretty much done and finished this lunchtime for us, so a few of my colleagues brought all the kit back that was needed. Then it was a case of me wheeling the laptop trolley from whence it came so that it could be used as intended as a teaching aid, and placed in the right room and locked away safe and sound (thankfully one of my colleagues from the other building was there and so was able to look after it). It's pretty good that some of the initial rush is over.

Mind you, been head long into more inductions today and I've got another three tomorrow morning, just the way these things pan out I suppose. However it's quite good that so many of the students have turned up as well - we even had one course that had everyone there waiting outside patiently a fair few minutes before start, which was really good to see too. Sometimes it's just nice to be able to see the enthusiasm on their faces and see that there's a lot of potential in people for turning up and being able to take all the information in - and believe me there is a lot to take in, in terms of information.

I had a busy evening when I did get home though, as the freezer needed defrosting. I'd not done it for a while and I could see big chunks of ice at the top and I'm sure that it wasn't working to the best of its potential, so I set to work getting it to defrost and what have you, also cleaning the freezer drawers while doing so. It worked out pretty well actually and I was able to get things sorted out in the meantime, such as the washing and later on, once the freezer was sorted, the food shopping. Good to get that done and out of the way and even got some bargains as well whilst I was there, so I can't really complain to be honest.

Went back to a bit of Roxy Music tonight after re-watching that BBC Four documentary again, which was just as enjoyable second time around. Must give a big mention to "In Every Dream Home A Heartache" which has to be tune of the day - it's a rather sinister but great piece of music, it has the Farfisa organ in the background as the words are sung, which eventually work out to be how you can have lots of money and be rich in a nice apartment, but if you don't have any love, you end up seeking an inflatable doll for comfort instead, with the key line being "I blew up your body.. but you blew my mind!" - and then it rocks out, and of course there's the false end before it all comes back in rocking and phased with Eno's knob twiddling weirdness. Bloody genius, that.

Wednesday 24th September - Induction Day

Another day, and the second day of doing Inductions. This year, as opposed to previous years, we're now doing them jointly with the Library, so we do our spiel first and give them all the information that they'll need, and after that it'll be a case of the Library then doing their bit. Although this inevitably means that it's not "hands on" and that I'd have the students actually giving everything a go, it does mean that you can address a lot of students in one go (up to 60) and give them all the information that they need, hopefully. It's nice to see as well that the turnout has generally been good, a sort of "need to know" basis is always a good thing.

In fact I think Photography students deserve a bit of praise as I think virtually everyone on their course turned up and were very attentive and a lovely bunch overall, which is nice. Their numbers have steadily gone up in the last few years and I think that's a sign of its growing reputation that it's starting to get. It's been hard on the throat though being able to project myself in a room with so many people, and of course a lack of air in most lecture theatres doesn't always help matters either. That said, the Library staff have also been rather lovely, and a reallt warm friendly bunch too. In a way, it's meaning that I am getting to know them more as well and always good to have contacts everywhere, believe me.

In fact there's a new swipe card system now for getting in and out, got in alright but couldn't get out! Turned out that the system had been changed in the afternoon and only seemed to work for student IDs, not staff ones. Thankfully someone was on hand to add me to the system and that way I was able to be sorted out quite happily - it's just one of those things that happen and to be aware of, I suppose. That said, it has been a real case of everyone mucking in this week as well to ensure everything happens as smoothly as possible - and it's definitely getting there. We shall see, I guess.

The weather had turned out nice in the afternoon and to be in somewhere with no windows or air was a bit offputting, but at least there was a breeze of sorts, and it meant I could in between the inductioons get stuff done, such as sort out the new software prices for the student software and hopefully publicise the Microsoft student offer a bit as well. But it was a good day on the whole and went home feeling satisfied with myself, and that's a good thing isn't it?

Mind you, I felt in the need to play some Industrial stuff when I got home, so it was a case of chucking on the likes of Die Krupps, Nitzer Ebb, Cabaret Voltaire et al to really get the beats up and pumped to the maximum. I still love the Trance Mix of Nitzer Ebb's "Getting Closer" to this day, it's really dark and moody and has a killer bass line that goes on throughout. Oh, and it's full of lots of beats as well which is just spot on, and in the right key to sound moody. I've had it for years on the "Fun To Be Had" 12" single, but when I managed to track down the CD I was a happy man indeed and so I can whack it on full blast keeping the vinyl intact, tune of the day most certainly I reckon!

Tuesday 23rd September - Takeover Blues

Well today was the day that the takeover of Manchester City by the Abu Dhabi United Group was all set to be done, and indeed with the new Chairman in waiting being there at the game on Sunday seeing my beloved City do the business, and therefore giving him a welcome present and a half, the signs are inevitably good. Indeed the open letter from the buyer, Sheikh Mansour, seems to hit all the right notes, realising that both the Academy and that the manager Mark Hughes is an integral part of a long term plan and both should be treasured and worked with. A telling part of that letter is that they will trust the manager's judgement when buying players and won't be buying for the sake of it - that's prudent and sensible. Already Vincent Kompany looks a bargain for what we got him for, and with some of the Academy graduates like Stephen Ireland playing out of their skins right now (and Ched Evans scored on Sunday too) it's good to see that unlike other clubs where managers have walked out blaming interference, lessons have been learned.

It's of course an anniversary too today, so of all days to do it, the day back in 1989 when I went to my first ever Manchester derby at Maine Road and saw the unbelieveable but brilliant 5-1 tonking of United just hits all the right notes with me, that's for sure. I really do think that it's all been handled well, and even Robinho seems to be enjoying himself, a point well made by Sky's La Liga expert Guillem Balague earlier today. He must have been purring watching City put on the style and how fans of Real Madrid have reacted since. I think it'll be a case of seeing how things are handled over the next few months but what I think the club needs to do is to try and arrest the expensive ticket prices where possible and have one price for all league games, and make it a reasonable amount so that fans can afford to go. Even though Portsmouth didn't fill their allocation there were only just over 40,000 there on Sunday and that's not enough to be honest (indeed my ticket was a bargain £20, best money I've spent on footy in a long time.)

I spent a bit of time later on watching the Roxy Music documentary that I'd recorded from BBC Four the other night but didn't watch (as I was out doing other things.) It was intriguing to see how much time was concentrated on the way that the band formed and indeed their first few albums. The first two are of course classics and it was interesting to note that Brian Eno, who left the band after the second one, admit that the third, "Stranded" was really good and possibly the best album the band did. I must admit going all easy AOR in the late 70s/early 80s wasn't a good thing and it really turned me off, but was intriguing to see how that all came about. Mind you, it also showed everyone, including Eno too, get together in 2006 and look like recording some new material. It'd be great if that happened and another album full of knob twiddling weirdness happened, but somehow I doubt it.

Nonetheless though, I unashamedly own both "Roxy Music" and "For Your Pleasure" - on vinyl (thanks to my father) and CD (bought them myself) as they're very much early signs of what was to become art rock, with both albums showing slightly left field of even prog rock at the time. Of course "Ladytron" off "Roxy Music" gave the band from Liverpool their name, and "2HB" was recently used in the film "Control" as well. But for me, there's so much good in both albums and a real depth of musicality in there, despite the weirdness that you may think it sounds like. To this end, "Do The Strand" is a perfect example of what the first two albums were about and I'll make that tune of the day. The bit in the middle with the riff is just smart, and indeed the use of the sax is extremely clever and spot on.

Monday 22nd September - It'll Be Alright On The Day

Well as I predicted, the first day back for all the students and it was pretty manic to say the least to be honest. All the enrolment sessions seemed to be going okay, once everything settled in for a while. I had to be out helping with a couple of people to make sure that all the student ID cards were being printed okay and with their pictures on and thankfully I hadn't lost the old touch when it came to operating the software and making sure everything printed out as intended, so that was good to see. It is always this busy at this time of year and I know that it's a case of sometimes being all hands on deck and making the time to do what's needed to be done.

I did manage to fix a couple of things during the day though, including sorting out software on a couple of the staff PCs as well as make sure that the Powerpoint slideshow that I was using for the induction sessions was spot on and included a couple of last minute changes and tweaks. It'll be different in that it'll basically be a presentation in front of 50-60 at a time instead of a hands on session, but hey, I'll cope I am sure. It's just adjusting to how things will be.

I also had a bit of time later on in the evening to catch up a bit on some Sky Plus recordings. I'd recorded the extended highlights of the Philip Island 500 Australian V8 supercars event (Motors TV, thank heavens for them!) and got chance to watch it too - it was a pretty good race and when the rain came midway through it was mental, and the sensible ones changed to wets as soon as possible and eked out a massive advantage. In the dry it was a two way fight between the top two: for Holden, Garth Tander and Mark Skaife against the Ford of Craig Lowndes and Jamie Whincup. Whincup against Tander for the last 10-15 laps was excellent stuff with Tander coming out on top to win. If it's half as good at the legendary Bathurst in a few weeks time, well...

I had also recorded the extended highlights from Sky's Football First of yesterday's Manchester City win, and as if I needed any excuse to watch that again! Oh yes, all six goals in glorious technicolour glory and they look even better each time I watch them. I still think the fourth goal with a sublime Stephen Ireland pass to Shaun Wright-Phillips was the one for me, but nonetheless it's so good to see the team gel like that. I can only hope that we're able to be up to that level each week to be honest. Still, if only Sky would change the use of a certain tune that they use on their football coverage..

Talking of which, tune of the day just so happens to be "Manic Monday" by The Bangles, says it all really.

Sunday 21st September - It's Just Like Watching Brazil

Well, words absolutely fail me. My throat is a bit sore, my head is aching from the headache which I developed during the day and my eyes are feeling a little tired as it's been a good weekend but want to make sure I get some sleep before the manic Monday that is officially the first day of the new term. But, I have to say that upon reflection, I can't believe how good I feel. It's not often that a spur of the moment move results in such joy, and today proved that sometimes it is good to be spontaneous as well as plan ahead.

I had of course got my ticket for City's game yesterday and by this morning it was a case of either walking over to the stadium to see if they had any left, or not going at all, so it was close to a sellout. Portsmouth hadn't taken their full allocation so there was bound to be some empty seats, but nonetheless it looked pretty full round the rest of the ground and despite there being a queue for the North Stand entrance B, I got in with around ten minutes to spare before kick off, enough time to get a good position and be able to see the action close up. I was three rows from the front and with a good view of the goals, so all seemed well. I just hoped that the team would be doing the business.

A few chances had came and gone when after a quarter of an hour, a flowing move saw Robinho feed a perfect ball to the path of Jo, who took it round David James before coolly slotting home (had a perfect view of him doing so too) to make it 1-0 to City, and thoroughly deserved. Chants of "Feed the Jo and he will score" emnated around the stadium, and a few minutes later, it was even better. Elano whipped in a low corner that curled in and almost crept in at the near post, James saved but Richard Dunne was on hand to poke home the rebound, a real striker's instinct from the defender there and 2-0 to the mighty blues. It was marvellous, and we had chances to score more only for the Portsmouth defence to sort of hold out.

Went and got a nice chicken balti pie at half time for a very late lunch, but thought that washed down with some Coke would see me well, and it did. Portsmouth almost scored at the start of the second half but for a last ditch Stephen Ireland tackle (who was brilliant all day). Later on, he then raced upfield, laid a gorgeous ball into the path of Jo, who sidefooted it on to Robinho, and it was easy as pie, 3-0 to City. The fans proclaimed it was just like watching Brazil, and who could blame them? The fourth City goal was even better in my view. The ball broke to Ireland in midfield and he laid another gorgeous sumptuous ball on to Shaun Wright-Phillips, who had lots to do to score. Mind you, he whipped in a low shot inside James and inside the post too and it was a special goal. The chants of "Shaunie Wright Wright Wright" were loud and proud and it was now 4-0 and City were bloody rampant.

Stephen Ireland got a hero's reception as he went off, and well deserved in my view, he was dynamite in midfield today. I think the fact that Vincent Kompany's doing so well as the defensive midfielder means that Ireland can get forward more and do his bit which is great. Ched Evans had come on for Jo, and Gelson Fernandes for Ireland, the two had a hand in the next goal. The ball came in from the left, Wright-Phillips back heeled it and Fernandes left it whilst blocking the defender's path, and in came Evans to cooly slot home the fifth goal for City. The fans taunted ex-City player Sylvain Distin with the chants of "Distin, what's the score, Distin Distin what's the score?" He deserved it in my view, the way he left City left a sour taste in the mouth and it was our way of giving him payback (in comparison David James got a great reception from the City fans at the start of the first half as he headed to the North Stand goal)

And right at the end, even more joy. The ball came in from the left hand side and in slid Gelson Fernandes to make it six. Oh yes. Get in! The last time I saw City score six in a league game was away at Sheffield Wednesday during the 2001-02 season, and I was proud to be there then, and now in fact. I simply must have "The Boys In Blue" by Man City as tune of the day as the boys in blue never give in, not with ace performances like this!!

Saturday 20th September - Saturday Night's Alright For Stalyvegas

Had an on the whole relaxing day, had a lie in (which to me is a bit of a luxury) and then headed out to see a few people in the afternoon as well, which again was very chilled out. In fact by this point the weather had turned all nice and lovely and sunny, much more so than I expected, and that meant that it was a case of cold drinks at the ready for making sure I kept relatively cool. With the football not affecting me today (City are playing tomorrow) I popped over as a spur of the moment decision to City's ticket office, and got myself a seat for tomorrow's game. I had a feeling that we'd beaten Portsmouth at the back end of last season and that we do well against them, and who knows? We shall see.

Headed out in the evening with The Steak In My Steak And Ale Pie out to Glossop on the bus, as she lives quite close to the bus route out there, meaning drinks all round. Even better of course as it meant that most of the pubs do real ale, and that was a mighty fine thing to have on a Saturday evening. After a quick walk around, and noticing how full one of the Italian restaurants were (have to book that sometime) we decided that it would be sensible to munch and then drink in the Norfolk Arms, seeing as it was nice and central. Sensibly, the food eating bit is away from the main drinking area, and there's no telly or music on so you can have a civlised conversation.

The food was top stuff, I had the mixed grill which consisted of (ready for this?) - one sausage, one rump steak, one pork chop, one gammon steak, one fried egg and one black pudding, add to that sauteed mushrooms, garden vegetables and chips and that was pretty hefty but lovely, and the chocolate pudding for dessert, oh my, that was the stuff of legend. Later on it was time to relax in the bar and the Holts' mild was on top form too, so that definitely went down a treat (as did the wine too that she had). It was all rather lovely and relaxing and well worth the trip out.

The bus trip back was an event and a half, it wasn't late or anything like that, but it gave us both a fascinating insight as to what the locals tend to do. As we were waiting for the 236 bus back to Manchester, quite a few girls were there dressed up in what looked like school uniform/St Trinian's outfits. Then another set of ladies arrived all with jangly things on their heads, and a fair few other people too. Everyone piled on the bus and each of the next few stops out of Glossop saw a fair number of people get on, dressed to the nines for their night out. It was good natured banter and humour throughout and everyone really was looking forward to going out.

And where were they going? I hazarded a guess and thought it might be Stalybridge, as there's numerous pubs in the centre (understatement) and the locals after all do call it Stalyvegas because of that. As the bus headed up to Mottram even more got on, and it certainly was more of a fun bus party atmosphere, which actually was fine by us, certainly made for a few giggles especially as when people were getting off to see friends et al they sort of stumbled off. Careful in those heels now! Mind you, I think that a fair few of them had probably been at the wine at home before heading out to the clubs and stuff, and that made perfect sense considering how much wine costs down your local.

The bus headed into Armentieres Square in Stalybridge and a fair number of people got off, looking to party. Most of the others got off at the bus station including all the schoolgirl outfitted ladies, and all of a sudden by the time the bus had landed in Ashton-under-Lyne, there was hardly anyone on it. I reckoned that becuase Stalybridge is much nearer to Glossop, it makes sense when getting a taxi back (or the night bus 237 at around 3am!) because it's less distance and theoretically less cost. It looked very much like the thing to do for most of the locals then, just hope they'd all got home safe later on!

Actually, in the Norfolk Arms back in Glossop, one thing did really appeal to me and that was that the pub was playing half decent tunes at not too loud a volume. A group of ladies near us were enjoying themselves and when they heard "That's Not My Name" by The Ting Tings they sang along, pretty well as well to be fair. I quite like that song myself so it's tune of the day for me all round.

Friday 19th September - Freaky Friday

Pretty glad that the day is over to be honest, it's been pretty manic, with me running around in all directions to get things sorted out and ensure that enrolment is going to happen without any hitches. First off, it transpired that we needed another printer to be able to print more student cards, but the software that is used requires a hardware dongle to operate correctly which we didn't have. So it was first trying to find a printer which worked and then once I got that, configuring the printer to work correctly which was a pain to do, as it needed a reinstallation to play ball. But I'd got that sorted out and was awaiting a couple of return phone calls with regards to the hardware dongle. I struck lucky with one of the central operations team and I was able to take theirs and use it for next week, and when setting up the PCs for enrolment, tested it to make sure that they all worked properly and as intended. Which, thankfully, it did.

It was good to be able to catch up on everything else late afternoon: answer all the necessary emails and make sure that things were in place, do paperwork and data entry too (the less exciting sides of the job but it has to be done) and then make sure I had enough time later to do the food shopping at Tesco, get the washing of clothes sorted out as well as of course cleaning the house. I must admit a night in on Friday night was just what the doctor ordered, and as I was using the Dyson on the carpet, I had the Sham 69 DVD Audio on full blast with "If The Kids Are United" being my weapon of choice as I headed around, so give that one tune of the day indeed. I thought it was a sensible option as it really got me in the right mood to get things done.

I had recorded both Mock The Week from Thursday and the Masterchef final from tonight, as I wanted to make sure I didn't miss it when being at the local Tesco. Mock The Week was hilarious as ever with Gina Yashere being on fine form to say the least. Also, the Masterchef final boiled down to two very tough challenges in an hour long episode, they had to serve thirty of the best chefs in the country as well as then do a three course meal to show their high standards. It was a close run thing and it was a case of I reckon Murray or Derek getting the nod, but I think that Derek was more consistent and definitely deserving of the win, so all was well there.

Thursday 18th September - Taking Omonia To The Cleaners

Well okay, the above was a bit of an exaggeration slightly on my part, but I must admit I was pretty pleased tonight, as I'd invited a few of my relations round and together we watched Manchester City in UEFA Cup action against Omonia Nicosia of Cyprus in the first round first leg tie. In the qualifying round Omonia had knocked out AEK Athens, who are no slouches at all, so I knew it wasn't going to be easy but if we were professional about the task then the mighty blues would get the job done. Well, I was hoping anyway, as earlier in the day Aston Villa had won away at Litex Lovecs 3-1, and Portsmouth were playing Guimares at the same time as our game.

So, with Sky One (yes, Sky One!) on the telly, we settled in to watch the game. At first it was a close thing, but as the half wore on City got their chances. Jo missed a sitter after being put through by Stephen Ireland, and then Jo hit the post with a shot, Robinho had a shot well saved, Ireland hit the post, and I had a feeling that sooner or later we just had to score. It all was well at half time and at 0-0 I thought it would only be a matter of time before a goal went in - there were just too many chances going begging to be honest. So, cup of tea all round and half time snacks later we were ready to go for the second half.

Mind you, no one expected Omonia to score first and they did with a stunning free kick that to be honest, put two City players at fault: Micah Richards for turning his back on the shot, and Joe Hart for being hopelessly out of position and not being able to make the save. But better was to come, as Shaun Wright-Phillips battled with a Omonia defender, let the ball come down after a defensive header and win it, and then put a gorgeous ball low across the six yard box for Jo to tap in and score his first competitive City goal. That pleased me no end and I'm sure it was a relief to him as well to finally get on the scoresheet and show some striking prowess.

And thankfully it didn't end there either. Later in the second half some lovely flowing movement saw Paulo Zabaleta down the right, he put a cross in over everyone except Jo, whose close control led to him being able to slot a low hard shot in the bottom corner and make it 2-1. Of course I was very pleased, as we all were, and deserved the applause when he was subbed later on. We should have won by more but a win's a win after all, and at least it means we have two away goals for the second leg as well, so that always comes in handy. Portsmouth had also won too, and then I watched Everton in an epic 2-2 draw at home with Standard Liege. They were the only English side not to win mind, as Tottenham won 2-1 against Wisla Krakow. So a good night really.

Talking of good nights, I had a play of Moby's "Last Night" album tonight as well and it's really grown on me somewhat again. I think it's going to be a case of this being up there in my album of the year selections, as it's almost in parts as if Moby went old school with this one, especially with my favourite currently, "Everyday It's 1989" which certainly has nods to the piano house and the like. Give that one tune of the day.

Wednesday 17th September - Lights Not In The Sky

Another long day at work, which was a bit start stop to be honest and also had me leaving an hour later than I normally would do. First stop was that I had a PC brought in which wasn't playing ball, and I was setting some time aside to sort that out. Then one of my colleagues revealed another problem that they had printing their student cards in the magnetic strip wasn't coding, and so I checked ours out, which worked first go. While doing that I was also sorting out the printer cartridges that had arrived, answering the email queries, and then on top of that starting off the imaging of the two lecture theatre PCs on the third floor so that they could be readied for later in the day.

I had to attend a meeting over at the main library later with regards to inductions and whilst that did at least get me talking to the library staff and being able to compare, swap and disseminate information, it did mean that time was ticking away. So it was to head back to the lecture theatre PCs, and then found a problem after imaging them. There seemed to be a driver missing for some USB hardware protection dongle. And it wasn't the easiest driver to find. Mind you, once I did find a working one, I placed it on one of our servers, just in case, and it proved to be a sensible idea all round as it worked perfectly on both machines. It then was a case of doing all the post-image steps to get them up and running as a working piece of kit, and job done. I looked at the clock and it was way past my normal finish time, but I didn't want to half do the job really.

Got home, made myself some lovely gammon for tea and started to sort through the pictures I took on Sunday of Victoria Baths. There's some I really like in there actually, as I had the mini tripod for the Panasonic TZ3 with me and so was able to get some shots with the tripod positioned nicely, including some low down "from the floor shots. I was most pleased with myself as it's a slightly different angle as well as everything else, and it certainly allowed me to have a look around at everything that I'd been round and thought "wow, what a nice time I had". I might have to go back for the Open Day in October and see if I can go round the back parts again..

But anyway, been listening to Nine Inch Nails' "The Slip" tonight, as it really merited my attention. Not watched the DVD yet but the CD is really nice. Yes, I've had the free MP3s for a while that Trent Reznor uploaded gratis, but it was nicer to hear it in proper full quality sound and all that. Must admit it's a grower over time and I have to say that it's a split in between the excellent "Ghosts I-IV" and "Year Zero" in that it features bits that seem inspired by both. Nonetheless though the gorgeous piano and quietness sounding of "Lights In The Sky" is simply gorgeous, so tune of the day it is.

Tuesday 16th September - The (Not So) Secret Millionaire

Had a pretty busy day at the office today (which seems to be the norm at the moment to be honest) and got on with quite a few projects. I finished off one of the laptops that I had to do and thankfully that wasn't too bad - I had an existing image for that and so I was able just to bring that down and then update the image accordingly with anything recent on there. I thought it a good idea though to re-image it back up as well to be on the safe side and go from there, which seemed to work rather nicely as well, just thinking of it saving me some time later on to be perfectly honest.

Headed out later on to crash, have something nice to eat and watch Professional Masterchef. The competition is really hotting up now and it was a close call between tonight's two semi-finalists to make it to the final later in the week. The level of dishes served were much above what I could ever do, but I have to say that it needed to be a real expert to be able to split them apart. On balance, I think it was the right decision to send Leon through tonight though, he just seemed to have a bit more drive inside him and that'll stand him in good stead for later in the week for definite, that's for sure. But we shall see won't we?

Watched The Secret Millionare later on - now I don't normally watch this, but part of my reasoning tonight was that the bloke was from Manchester, and he wanted to help those in Rhyl where he had spent many a childhood holiday. The West area of Rhyl is pretty derelict in parts and also unemployment is an issue too - with not much in terms of prospects et al. However, seeing just what people are doing in the community and turning things around, giving people a chance was inspiring stuff. Like the Secret Millionaire tonight said, it wasn't just about money but also just how much they would be able to keep the work going that they do. Well, I have to say it was an eye opener for many - and indeed the Millionaire himself not only donated sensibly to those he felt would make the most of it, but since then he's also been in regular touch with the community groups and helped back those as well with business nouse and sense like when applying for future Lottery funding. I think he came across as a really down to earth bloke who really had the drive and vision to be able to see the good in people and reward those for their good work.

Also had a nice delivery in the post today - it was the DVD-Audio disc I ordered of the best of Sham 69, "Cockney Kids Are Innocent". It's basically twenty of their best tracks enhanced nicely in advanced resolution 5.1 surround and really does beef it up nicely to give it an almost live feel. Of course after all these years I still have a great affection for "Hurry Up Harry" because of its unforgettable line of "We're going down the pub" as part of its main chorus, and it's great fun too, so that one's tune of the day.

Monday 15th September - Birthday Big Mac

Headed off after work to see my Mum, and to see my brother as it was his birthday. He was really pleased with the card and present, which was good, and explained to me that he was probably having to sell off a graphics card on eBay as he'd managed to get a better one for what he wanted. Mind you the one he's selling off is a Radeon 2900HD top of the range one, so he should be able to get something for that and put towards the holiday spending money, which I think is the plan. My Mum is having some work done on the house, so it's a bit of a in between work in progress at the moment, but I can see how it's going to look in the end and I am sure that it will look all rather lovely in the end.

Mind you, we decided that it would be nice to have a takeout for tea of my brother's choosing, and so we headed off in his car to McDonalds and so I thought "sod it" and got a large quarter pounder with cheese meal, with strawberry milkshake. Calorific as hell I know, but to be honest, I'd had a tough day at the office and I felt that having a little pig out seemed the sensible option. Indeed my Mum did the same and had banana milkshake too, which was a nice thing to see. In fact it felt like a little family get together, especially as I'd seen my sister and her little one when they came around to see Mum, and so that felt good.

Got back home and realised I had a shedload of pics to look through: I had the camera with me when I went to Manchester City on Saturday and all around Victoria Baths and the meet up yesterday. The ones from the Manchester meet are up, so have a peek at the merriment, and I'll get to the rest later on I reckon. It took my mind off the events at work today as well, as that was fairly intense. Can't really say too much except it's going to be an interesting next few months for sure...

But enough of that. As I saw plenty of people yesterday out and about, it reminded me of just how much I've come on in leaps and bounds over the last couple of years. Hard to believe that then I made a hard but in the end right decision in my life, and here I am now with not only lovely family, special friends, a social group or two I am involved in, but also feel much happier inside, and with all that behind me, I even feel (shock horror) younger as well, which is nice. So "Happy" by Jenny Lewis and the Watson Twins as tune of the day for me, please!

Sunday 14th September - Victoria Baths and the Flickr Meet

Well, what a day I had planned. Myself along with The Thoughts In My Head decided that it would be a good idea to head along to Victoria Baths - it was open as part of the National Heritage Weekend and as the front had recently been unveiled after its extensive renovation works, it would be good to take a peek inside and see just exactly what had been done, before swanning off into town to catch up with some of my Flickr contacts at the Manchester meet later, and at least I'd have someone with me for company anyway regardless, which was a good idea all round of course.

So off on the bus and heading up to Victoria Baths, the sun came out and it all looked rather like it was going to be a lovely day all round. In fact walking up to the front was a great idea, it looked stunning with all the stonework and the clock restored as well, almost like new. It was showing that money can be put to good use in the right way, and with the volunteers showing us the way to the entrance around the side, in we went. The main pool infact was having an art installation done inside it which was quite intriguing to say the least, and as we walked to the back of the main pool, all the front parts were open.

I have to say, just to see all the front windows redone with all the lovely stained glass inside them painstakingly restored was an absolutely lovely thing to see. It depicted some sports such as cricket, boxing, athletics et al and it also had the main frontispiece stained glass, namely the Angel of Purity - simply had to get a shot of that one which came out rather nicely (I'll try and upload that soon.) It also had the old turnstile entrances and the lovely green tiling which were made by a company of my namesake, woo, famous, or something. But all the front and the Turkish baths and indeed some of the water tanks looked ever so nice now.

The third pool (or Females as was) was an exhibition showing the baths through the ages and indeed the famous swimmers who would train there, including Sunny Lowry, who died earlier this year. However, what was intriguing for The Thoughts In My Head was that a couple of her old teachers were in one of the shots, which took her back a bit as well. For me, seeing it through the years showed also just how much neglect the place had and how now that all the lovely volunteers who were working there were doing a super job. The heritage event was busy too: lots of people taking the guided tour (the outside and boiler house weren't open though) and going round the staircases, through the pools, and ending up having lots of coffee and home made cake by the people in the middle covered up pool. It was a lovely sight.

Then off down on the 50 bus to Font Bar, and the two of us got there in good time for the arranged time and place for what was the 12th (I think!) Manchester Flickr group meet. It was good to see some faces that I've met from previous meets, and indeed plenty of people I hadn't as well. Thankfully I knew enough there so I could get conversation going and the two of us indeed were chatting away, a couple of them had their kids with them and I helped one of them downstairs with the pram, so all was good. Plenty of drink and chat flowed throughout, and it was really chilled out, and of course the obligatory group shot which had to be done - quite tricky to get forty odd of us in there, mind, but it worked rather well!

It was off to mooch around in the afternoon, and if you wanted, head to spot anything that would resemble "Things are going to get broken" being the theme of the day, but I had some ideas and the two of us needed feeding too, so we decided to head to the Waterhouse and have some lunch in there, always a good idea. And indeed the Sunday roast pork as well, spot on that. Fully recharged, I decided to use the mini tripod with the TZ3 and do some arty shots with the camera close to the floor and pointing along the ground, horizon style. It pretty much worked actually, which was pretty smart.

After a coffee in one of the bars in the Northern Quarter and a good natter, we headed to Kro to meet up with some fellow Flickrites a bit later on. One of the members, Mr Dayglo, had to be in Qatar and couldn't make it, and someone had printed out a mask with his face on, which needless to say got plenty of people having their pic taken with the mask, that was all round hilarity that (a true you had to be there moment). And indeed with Kro serving Landlord on cask, just like I like it, that made me a happy bunny too. It was nicely chilled out and conversation flowed with many many lovely people. Far too many to name, but you know who you are, so thank you lots! Had a fab time all round.

Headed home and chilled out for the rest of the evening and settled in to see what was happening with the world, and all seemed well. I flicked through the F1, saw Vettel get a well deserved win, and then had a quick look through the music channels, and beautifully timed was Judas Priest's "Living After Midnight" (so make that one tune of the day) as part of a potted history of metal. It was intriguing to see just what people thought of the band back then and indeed how the whole British Steel album made them rather famous overnight. Not that I'm complaining, mind.

Saturday 13th September - We've Got Robinho, We Still Can't Beat Chelski Though

Well, a football double header for me today, but before all of that started, it was off to town to get a birthday card for my brother, as it's his birthday on Monday and I wanted to make sure I got him all sorted out. I knew he'd be flying out to the States soon and so I decided that getting him some spending money in US Dollars would be a sensible move - that way it meant that he could spend it when there and not be tempted in the meantime. So, off to the American Express travel place that thankfully never seems to change and always has lovely friendly staff there (how nice is that?) and then popped by Unit 7 in the Royal Exchange to get a card, and then homeward bound in plenty of time for the footy.

I ended up recording the F1 qualifying session and watching the Liverpool-Manchester United game, a good move really as the latter was pretty exciting and with Liverpool winning 2-1, certainly for the blue half of Manchester that was a good result. Also, the F1 qualifying showed some tactical bad moves by the McLaren team with the wrong tyre choice demoting Lewis Hamilton way down the grid. Full marks to Sebastian Vettel though for getting pole with an inspired display and proving he's a bit of a rainmeister at heart. By all this time, my friend had come round and so it was time for us to head to the City of Manchester Stadium for the City game against Chelski.

We got in and got to the top tier where we were located, and the ground was filling up nicely, even with around an hour to kick off. The players came out to train and there was a big cheer for Shaun Wright-Phillips on his return to Eastlands, and similar applause for Robinho too. I only hoped that we'd have at least something to celebrate today but beating them will to be honest be a bigger task - but you never know. I was excited and not least because the atmosphere seemed to be cranked up a notch, not least as the announcer had pleasure in telling everyone the final scores from the other games. And with Bob The Builder doing his thing for City's charity drive, all nicely set up.

Even more so ten minutes in. City won a free kick and after Chelski's cheating tactics of not going back ten yards were eventually resolved by ref Mark Halsey, it was a case of who'd take it. Up stepped Robinho, he curled it round the wall and in the corner, and 1-0 to City. The crowd went understandably mental, the players mobbed Robinho, and it was a party-like atmosphere as the City faithful taunted Chelski's fans: "We've got Robinho, we've got Robinho.."

Shame then it was as good as it got because Chelski equalised three minutes later through Ricardo Carvalho and bossed the game from thereon in, and it wasn't a surprise really when they went 2-1 up through that never should play for England again because he doesn't have pride in the shirt prima donna Frank Lampard, and then to make matters worse the ex-City frontman Nicolas Anelka made it 3-1. The only chance we had of getting back in the game was when John Terry got a straight red for a professional foul on Jo, but to be honest the game had long hone and it was an easy win for Chelski in the end. But nonetheless it was good to see the ground pretty full and that the fans had had a taste of what might come in the future when we play other teams - certainly we've got enough there to at least be top half of the table, hopefully.

Nonetheless though it was nice to chill out later in the evening with a glass of Pinot Grigio (ooh look at me knowing all the wine names and everything) and seeing BBC Three's rundown of the songs that people hate to love, or something similar as an annoying songs list or something like that. Quite why Enya's "Orinoco Flow" was there was beyond me to be honest, mind, it's a cracking tune. In fact I'm going to give that one tune of the day to redress the balance a bit. Yaay.

Friday 12th September - Thank Crunchie!

Well it's Friday and the end of the week. My colleague got almost all of the server upgrades done today (we periodically have to do them) and that was all pretty much sorted out on time. We picked the Friday afternoon knowing that due to a bit of reorganisation people would be moving offices or moving desks and so wouldn't be too inconvenienced by the upgrading too much. It worked out well because I could multitask and get some PCs ready for the forthcoming enrolment sessions as well as see to a laptop which wasn't too well whatsoever. I found out that for some reason the battery wasn't giving a valid connection and wasn't charging, but a clean of the connectors sorted that and it was then charging happily. Yaay!

Not so yaay though is the fact that the lovely gorgeous Asus Eee which I have on my desk will refuse to image with Zenworks imaging, thereby meaning that I can't whack on a standard build on it. It means I'll just have to do a build from scratch and then go from there which will inevitably take a lot longer to do. I even used the latest Zenworks imaging boot CD but no joy. The network card is hardware detected but there's no driver in the Linux kernal shipped with the boot CD to actually make a difference. For those interested, it's the Eee 904HD model with 80GB IDE hard disk and an Intel Atom processor, and Windows XP installed on it. Now, the network card is an Atheros AR8121, which is actually based on an Attansic L1E gigabit adapter (Attansic were purchased by Atheros you see). Normally in Linux, and in recent kernels, the module atl1e.ko will work, and there's a version of Ubuntu which supports that too. Unfortunately as the Zenworks boot CD is based on SUSE, I can't just snag the version from the Ubuntu Eee 8.04.1 release and use that - it doesn't work. So, one forum visit later and a feature request has gone in to Novell. They'd better bloody sort it.

Mind you, it was quite relaxing and therapuetic to cook myself some tea whilst simultaneously watching today's instalment of Professional Masterchef. When I saw the dishes and what was being made, I thought "well if Derek gets this right, he's through!" and he made two absolutely gorgeous dishes that even the critics found hard to fault, which was good to see. I would have happily eaten both and not found fault either, and as for the others, well it was obvious Christos was way out of his depth and had to go, Robert mucked up the main dish and didn't deliver, and so it was left to Adam to get two good plates of food out and therefore get through. I think Michel quite would like to hire Derek though, because of his comments in the show. My friend told me she wished that it was John Torode instead of Gregg Wallace, and I'm getting inclined to agree!

Headed to Tesco to do the food shopping, and I have to say at 7pm at my local one it seems quite peaceful and serene. There's still quite a few people doing their shopping, but it's leisurely and it's not completely rammed to bits. What I love though is the fact that it's pretty much got all I need and then some, and it's a real boost for me it being so close to home now - plus I can nip in whenever I like and get what I'd like, which is ace. I even treated myself and got the items I needed as I'm cooking for two tomorrow night and I want to make something lovely. Thankfully I've got just the idea in my head and I should be able to carry it off. Yaay me again.

In the meantime, it was time to then take it easy (Cadbury's Caramel optional, although I really fancied a Crunchie today but resisted temptation) and have some peaceful mellow music to send me on my way. So what better to have on than the rather lovely Katell Keineg? I know what you're thinking. Who's she then? Well, you might want to peekie at her official website and find out for yourself. She's toured with and supported the lovely Natalie Merchant, and her own stuff is very very good - I have her "Jet" album on CD which is just luscious. What I'm really loving is "Beautiful Day" which is from a 2002 EP, and it just is soft and lilting. Yes, tune of the day because it is truly what the title says.

Thursday 11th September - Poignant

It feels slightly weird today in that it was seven years ago today that all the terrorist attacks took place in America, and the memorial services that were happening. One set of children at Ground Zero especially were something I noted in that their father had been taken away from them on that fateful day but he still lived with them in their hearts. It was a beautifully simple and yet powerful message, it didn't need any propaganda but just ordinary everyday children who had lost their father and who wanted to remember him and share their grief. When you see people like that have their lives changed, it does put a lot of things into perspective and does make you wonder whether infact that those who commit terrorism actually even have an ounce of intelligence to think about what would happen if it were their own children being tormented with suffering the same way.

I did feel cheered up a little by Mock The Week, which was on tip top form as per usual. That Stuart Francis bloke (think he's Canadian) was very dry and funny, and also it was mentioned about the Manchester City buy out with Russell Howard quipping about how the club wanted to name a stand after one of its most famous players, and it would have been called "The Bell End" - which gave Russell a few laughs, as you might imagine. Still, they at least recognised that frontman Dr Sulaiman (who might not be the frontman as his idle boasts hasn't gone down so well with the bloke who's actually fronting the cash really) so that's something. Is it me by the way, or does Dara O'Briain get funnier every time I see him presenting?

I had an early night too - I felt really tired all of a sudden and don't know what came over me. I'd had a productive day and evening, setting up a PC and getting the wireless to connect to the router as well and play ball happily, an also finally managing to take the old ironing board to the local rubbish tip and place it in the right place for recycling any metal from it. It felt rather good doing that as hopefully the metal can be melted down and used again, and of course it clears clutter from the house, always a good thing that to be honest. I think at some point I need to see what other stuff I may have cluttered all over the place and see what can be done to make some space or donate it to charity - I'm thinking especially clothes and the like.

With all that going on, I went back to Pete Green's EP earlier in the evening and really enjoyed "Happy Being Me" I guess these days I am that, and so tune of the day was an easy decision. I've not always been happy as I am but these days I do feel rather contented, whether that's because I feel genuinely more of a person inside or because I know that the last couple of years really have seen me make some changes for the better, I don't know. What I do know though is that as long as I carry on as I am, I should be fine.

Wednesday 10th September - Push The Button

I spent a little bit of time after work looking at a PC. Intrinsically it seemed perfectly okay, but for some reason nothing was powering up. Opening the case revealed that the motherboard was getting power, but the power switch wasn't making contact with a little board at the front which contains the internal switch, it looked like it had been dislodged. So I spent a bit of time checking the internal switch actually powered the PC (which it did) and then reseating the little board in the right way (and tightening it in where there was a convenient screwhole) so that inserting USB into the front didn't dislodge the front board any either. That done, it powered up each and every time so that made me a happy bunny.

On the way homeward, I nipped into the city centre and was going to buy the Cure single released at the end of last month. Well I say "going to" because for some reason neither Zavvi nor HMV had it in stock. Seems to me that HMV Manchester is undergoing a bit of a refurb, as the classical stuff is at the back of the ground floor, with the games below and the DVDs being most of the first floor. I reckon that it's a case of doing it up so it's presentable when the masses go and buy their Christmas presents. But still, no chance of getting the single, so instead I'll have to buy it online, frustrating really. I mean, I love walking into a record shop and buying CDs, but it seems like you can't do that anymore.

What did cheer me up though is the fact that Pete Green's "Platform Zero" EP arrived in the post, and it does look lovely. The sleeve on the front is a hand drawn picture of Stockport's "Platform Zero" which all looks smart, and I'm going to give the EP a play on the turntable a bit later, as I'm probably going to do a review as well. I'm really pleased though, it all arrived safe and sound and if anything it shows you just what twee acoustic indie pop is all about. It cheered me up no end as the darkness descended on the evening, and so on to Radio Five Live to listen to the England commentary - as there's no highlights to speak of whatever and it's only on bloody Sultana Sports. Bar stewards. I'll make "I'm Gonna Stay With Her" tune of the day as it's often been a live favourite of mine.

Mind you, it's been worth listening to the commentary. Alan Green has been going mental as Theo Walcott scored a hat-trick, Croatia went down to ten men and then Wayne Rooney finally scores for England as well. What the hell is going on there? How did all this happen after England's absolutely bobbins performance the other day against Andorra? Who knows, but this is potentially a massive win already in the qualifying campaign to be honest, the fact that Capello was brave enough to drop Beckham and give Walcott a go has been fully justified. And that'll teach Vedran Corluka for leaving City for Tottenham. Ha ha ha! 4-1 in Croatia's cup final. Magic.

Tuesday 9th September - Up And Down Day

A very much up and down day to be honest. The down was mainly caused by the fact that endless red tape seems to be getting in the way of doing my job the way I'd like to do it, and that to be honest frustrates me insanely. There's not much I can do about it apart from staying calm and just thinking that tomorrow is another day and I'll be able to get on with things then. Can't really say much more about it to be honest, but I think that sometimes you have to take the rough with the smooth and do what you can.

Got home and immediately felt the need to take it easy and relax, so that's pretty much what I did. It was time to catch up with the Masterchef professionals, and to be honest, only one of them looked good enough to do pretty well, the others made mistakes that really shouldn't have been made, especially with doing the pastry for the dessert at the end. I do think Michel Roux is firm but fair with his comments, and he doesn't have the tendency to shout like Gregg Wallace does which is a fair bit better. In fact I check out Michel's own website and that for his fancy restaurant in London, Le Gavroche, which looks ever so posh and lovely but by the look of it offers an excellent lunchtime meal offer. Certainly the food looks rather nice, it has to be said.

A bit later on it was time to take things even easier and so flicked through the music channels, in order to find something decent. Let's just say plenty of the channels seemed to be having a cheese-fest, with flicking resulting in the likes of absolute tat that I daren't even name to be honest. But still, it made me laugh thinking "someone's going to be watching this all night and enjoying it!" - even the likes of Gina G's Eurovision entry "Oooh Aah (Just A Little Bit)" making an appearance. It does make you wonder, doesn't it?

Still, an early night was called for as my brain wasn't feeling 100% and I'd managed to relax a fair bit. In between avoiding all the cheese I did manage to track down a couple of darn fine tunes, not least Madness' cover version of "It Must Be Love", which is actually good fun and something which makes you smile. Maybe that's how I feel right now, but it just has a quirky feel which I like. So that's got to be tune of the day.

Monday 8th September - Master Mess!

It was a busy day at the office today to be honest. I'd spent most of the day re-imaging the PC for the Academic Practice room, which has all the AV gubbins with it and so needs the updated AV image that one of my colleagues did, and to be fair, a cracking job too. Everything pretty much did what it said on the tin (Ronseal stylee) and it also enabled me to do the job in less time. I did still need to add all the custom software and indeed that took time as I had to make sure that the default user profile on login had all those settings intact as well which made sure everything worked perfectly and as intended.

Once that was done, and after I'd visited a couple of offices to get another couple of jobs done, it was a case of then getting home and deciding that the front yard (can't really call it a garden) needed some attention. Some weeds had tried to grow through the paving and indeed by the side of the front border wall (not the main house wall I should add) so it was out with the gloves and a black bin bag and time to get things done. It felt satisfying uprooting them all and making the whole place look a bit cleaner. So, that was one mess less to worry about and indeed I'll spray the path weedkiller tomorrow just to make sure nothing attempts to make a comeback.

And then - Masterchef. And considering some of these are supposed to be aspiring professionals, the mistakes they made with their ingredients, especially in the first round, was a nightmare. One of them had mistaken this really spicy material for what he thought was a tomato puree, and had lashed the whole lot on this rainbow trout. Let's just say it was a bit spicy indeed and rather hot. Mind you, at least his food looked decent, another contestant had this sauce with capers but the way it was done looked a mess all over the plate, with Michel Roux Jr emnating the fact that it looked like something he'd see outside a city centre pub on a Saturday night. Obviously that chef had no chance of winning and it was really the one who didn't make any bad errors who deserved to go through.

Ah well, time to catch up on some other domestic chores, but to be honest, I'm glad I'm getting them out of the way. I know there isn't long before it's a case of being back to the real hard work of the students being back and any time I can make up now and indeed get things done is time gained to be honest, so we shall see what happens in the next two weeks. In the meantime, I played some old Barenaked Ladies tonight and have to give "Jane" tune of the day as it's just a lovely song. In fact, the whole of their "Maybe You Should Drive" album is excellent, and one of my friends who likes the band can't find the CD that they have - I hope it's found or else that's a right dilemma and a half!

Sunday 7th September - Carnival Time

It was off out into the country (well almost) as it was time for the Glossop Victorian Weekend festival. It celebrates the High Peak town's heritage and indeed is a really big thing for the town. There's plenty of shop fronts which are dressed in a Victorian style, a lot of the local people dress up in dress of the era, and there's also a really nice feel to the place, apparently. I thought that even if the weather looked like it might rain somewhat, it'd definitely have to be checked out and so I took the train from my house to Piccadilly station and then headed from Piccadilly on the line to Glossop, wending its way around the back of Hyde (I mean, "Newton for Hyde"? What sort of station is that?), then through Hattersley and Broadbottom and over the Dinting viaduct (scary) and through to Glossop itself.

As I headed through the main little square, Norfolk Square, there was definitely a sense that the weather wasn't going to stop anyone enjoying themselves. All the stalls were covered if need be, and there were various games for people to try their luck on, whether it being hook a duck (or one stall had hook a Tweenie!), throwing a ring over a square box to win money, or just the try your luck tombolas, that along with the train ride and the big wheel were certainly enough to keep most people entertained. All the little stands were fairly busy and included some food stalls as well which was a good idea, considering the occasional bit of rain.

The main square, Norfolk Square, also had some entertainment on, notably a children's entertainment band called Chucklefoot. They were a man and woman and in between playing various different instruments and all in tune, they also operated some little puppets in front of them so that they would jump around and dance which entertained the children. In fact for some of the songs the band encouraged the children to play some instruments such as the tambourine with them, which was a lovely sight to see all round. Indeed I'm sure during the rest of the day the locals were suitably entertained, there was a brass band too, the Arnfield Brass Band, and there were certainly enough of them crammed into such a small stage!

After having some lovely lunch in the Norfolk Arms with a nice Holts' seasonal pint to go with it, it was time to head down the main street and get in a good position to check out the parade at 3pm. The parade was a really nice one, lots of people marching, led by the town crier, then the brass band, and some of the local people in their costumes (even a couple with their old bicycles too, how sweet). Then the old historic vehicles followed, including an old beer delivery truck, a road roller and a steam engined tractor nicknamed the "Tiger" that was a really well kept and maintained old piece of kit. The parade then assembled at the far end of the town and the entertainment continued in the square.

I have to say, it was very well run and organised indeed, with everything running to time, the stalls were well laid out and offered all sorts of entertainment, and it seemed like something that those who live there took pride in. I'll have to put the date in my diary for next year and come over to check it out for sure, I know that such festivals should be supported by the masses and it's a nice slice of life from a bygone era. I even had the camera with me to, so feel free to browse the images of the event.

Got back homewards on the train just in time before a torrential downpour had hit, and by the time I'd made it back to Piccadilly, the sun came out again before I headed on the train home. Got back and I had Sky plussed the F1, and so watched the race. Good job I didn't tune in to the news, as the last few laps were classic stuff and I was so glad to see that as live. When Hamilton and Raikkonen clashed at the last chicane, then Hamilton just about let Kimi through before then overtaking him at the first corner, I thought "Well he has let him through, but was it enough?" and that doubt in my mind certainly had taken hold.

It was an impressive sight to see them battling with the rain on almost slick tyres, and Lewis did ever so well, but I'm going to give driver of the day to Nick Heidfeld in the BMW. The car was a dog most of the weekend and he was languishing in eighth, but he made the call to pit for wets with a couple of laps left. It was the correct decision to be honest, as he breezed through the field being able to go around twenty seconds a lap faster. This meant he didn't just make up the time lost in the pit stop, but gained more time too and he snatched third place in the end overtaking plenty on the last lap. In fact, that third became second later on as Hamilton was deemed to have gained an advantage, stung with a 25 second penalty and demoted from first to third with Massa taking the win. I don't think we'll have heard the last of this, somehow.

I relaxed in the evening after that and so whacked on a set of cover versions in the background whilst I was uploading the images of the Victorian Weekend I'd been to, so amongst those was Weezer doing a mighty fine job of "Are Friends Electric?" and giving it the justice it so deserved as well. As I'd seen Gary Numan on Friday I thought it especially poignant to hear one of his songs done well too, so tune of the day right there.

Saturday 6th September - Call Me Bargain Hunter!

Had a bit of a different day today, as I didn't necessarily have to do too much. I did however get all the food shopping done first thing in the morning, and with good reason. It means that I was able to get first pick of some of the food in the local Tesco (which do stock regularly, but it seems that the popularity with the locals is even more than they anticipated, just showing that it was desparately needed after all) and then get it all done before the rain decided to set in during part of the morning, always a nightmare when you're carrying a few bags back with you and all that.

I did head out a bit later after doing some household chores, and it was firstly off to Withington. I remembered when I was at Fuel on Thursday night that there was a record shop on Egerton Crescent, and I'd not been in there for a while and wanted to check it out. It had changed hands since I last went in, but it seemed a very nice place nonetheless, with a good selection of second hand CDs and vinyl, and even some second hand hi-fi separates as well, if that was your thing. I might have to at some point see what turntables they have and see how viable they'd be to use for me - the one I've got is looking like it may eventually need replacement.

Anyway, after that I thought "hang on, I can get the bus to Burnage from here!" and so headed on the 179 from Withington Library to Fog Lane, and off to Sifters, a shop I used to go in quite a bit and indeed was frequented by the Gallagher brothers from Oasis before they were famous (hence the namecheck in "Shakermaker") and it's thankfully not changed in all the times I've been there. It still does a cracking selection of secondhand CD singles and albums at the right prices, and I really hit lucky today. Not only did I pick up a single that someone I know really likes (and so got it for them whilst I was at it) I got myself the Barenaked Ladies' "One Week" CD single for 50p, plus the DualDisc version of David Bowie's "Reality" album for four quid, which I can't complain about whatsoever. In fact, I listened to that when I got back and really liked it, so give "New Killer Star" tune of the day as well whilst we're at it.

I spent some of the afternoon listening to some music and keeping my eye on Sky Sports News for news of the football scores (Jeff Stelling hoping that his beloved Hartlepool were going to come back against Millwall, but no such joy!) - and then later on it was off out for a meal to the Midland at Marple Bridge. I'd had a lunchtime pint in there last Sunday and I decided it would be a good idea to try the food out and see how good it is. Well, I'm very very pleased to report that the food is most excellent, suffice to say that if you're around the area and fancy something nice to eat in a good atmosphere with a lovely view of the village, the river and indeed in cosy surroundings, then it's the place for you.

It was a hard decision what to have for the food, but with Landlord on cask I didn't need asking twice what drink I was going to have, that's definitely for sure. In the end after I was informed of the pie of the day, I went for that - and it proved to be a lovely move all round. The pie was cooked in a dish with some lovely puff pastry on top, with big chunks of chicken and a tarragon sauce inside that was just the right side of flavoursome. Add to that this mash with a mustard flavour, and some summer vegetables of sugarsnap peas, carrots and broccoli on the side, and it was all lovely. As for the dessert, oh my god! It was treacle tart like you won't have had for a long while. It wasn't a tart as such but a whole portion of cake with lashings of clotted cream to boot. Absolutely gorgeous, it was. Simply put: a gorgeous meal and one that'll stay with me for a while. If you're there, go!

Friday 5th September - Are Friends Electric?

Well, it was off to another gig tonight as my friend and I were heading to Manchester Academy 1 to see the godlike genius that is Gary Numan. It's actually the second time we'll have seen him there this year after his 50th birthday gig as part of the Replicas tour. This time around it's a small mini-tour and in many ways playing some of his more current stuff as part of the set - but I had a a feeling some of the old classics might just come out somehow. It amazes me too just how many people are still fans as well and turn up. Although it wasn't as packed as the March gig, there was still a sizeable crowd in there, always good to see.

First up were the support, Kids on Bridges (myspace) who weren't bad at all. They sounded a little electroclash at times, with plenty of drums and rocking guitars mixed with some subtle use of electronics, and even had a song about finishing with a partner, the succintly titled "Y Don't U F*** Off?" which actually came across really well. They had a title track introducing the band which worked well with some good keyboard work, and a diatribe about being a pop star in today's business, called, rightly enough "Pop Star". They weren't too bad whatsoever and even the real Numan diehards seemed to like them, and that got everyone warmed up.

On came Gary Numan, dead on time, and played a pretty good show overall. What pleased me was that plenty of tracks were played from his 2000 release "Pure", which I still enjoy today. I think because it's got quite a dark sound to it and that for me has a feeling of uncomfortableness yet also evil and moody, and it just has all that in bucketloads. So the title track from said album went very down with me, and even better was to come a little later on, as "Rip" from the same album was played. I'd been humming the chorus lines at work most of the day whilst working on yet another laptop, and so tune of the day it must be.

It wasn't just those two tracks from "Pure" either though, as from the same album came "My Jesus" and during the encore, "I Can't Breathe" which really sounded close and claustrophobic, and haunting. All the masses of lighting really helped to suit the mood for that well with plenty of people down the front going for it almost as much as Numan himself was doing. But he didn't forget the classics, oh no. Early on "Cars" came on at full pelt, and sounding more electric and like Fear Factory's brilliant cover version each time I've seen Numan do it. We also got "Are Friends Electric" which started brilliantly with just a piano and Numan, before kicking in with all the drums and stuff later. And of course, "Down In The Park" too.

Mind you, there were plenty of good highlights throughout. A stomping version of "Me, I Disconnect From You" during the encore went down very well indeed, as did a really hard hitting full on "Metal" during the main set, and one of these days Numan will get Trent Reznor to sing that one with him. I can only hope and wish for that day, but hey, you can't have it all. What we did get was a blistering set, and as my friend said, "he never disappoints, does he?". A very true set of words indeed to be perfectly honest and I'm sure that if you get to catch him this time around you'll have a great time. I know I did.

Thursday 4th September - Having a Picnic In Withington

Headed out tonight to an acoustic night called "Picnic Club" which is run at Fuel Bar in Withington, not that far for me to travel. Part of my reasoning was that Donna Marie was going to be on there (and readers will know that I'm a big fan of hers) but also it'd be interesting to see the other acoustic acts on there and develop some more tastes, maybe. As a music fan, it is important to be able to try something new and embrace the sort of feeling that you get, the vibe from the venue and indeed above all else you might even find someone new that you like too. So, a bout of Professional Masterchef followed by Sky Sports News and all the aftermath of the Kevin Keegan resignation (no surprise there really to be honest, been on the cards that) and after that, off to Withington.

I used to go in Fuel years ago when it was another name, and it hasn't intrinsically changed at all. In fact I used to use the Internet café along with the guy who used to run one of the Monkey! fan sites for the TV series, and occasionally work on uploading stuff from there, so it does bring back happy memories. One thing I did notice straight away behind the bar is the different varieties of bottled real ale, for someone like me that was heavenly apart from one little annoyance: the real ales were all in the fridge, making them a bit cold for consumption. I should have mentioned to the bar staff that real ale should be served at room temperature, but c'est la vie.

Went upstairs to the first floor to find people setting up their gear for the evening, and one of the organisers (who also is in a band called Picnic Area, hence the theme night name) told me that Donna Marie was unfortunately unwell and not able to make it. That was indeed not good news, and Donna, if you're reading this, please get well soon. However I thought to myself "well it'd be rude not to see who else is playing tonight and enjoy the evening, so that's what I am going to do!"

First up was Picnic Club (myspace) an intriguing threesome, with Wayne on vocals already having released a solo CD locally - and together with Andy (guitar) and Simon (who had a box which he made all the drums from, very clever) made a nice mix of Americana and, together with some quirky songs, one of which mentioned Bella Emberg (no seriously) and generally had its humour intact. In fact one of the songs ended with the Frank Sidebottom-esque line "You know it is, it really is" which put a big smile on my face. They seemed to really enjoy themselves and set up the night nicely and were very nice people to boot. Their CD is available from Piccadilly Records in Manchester, might have to check it out.

Up next then was Caroline England (official site) (myspace) who certainly did sing from the heart. One song about an ex-boyfriend really was lovely, as was one love song, "Foolish" which I'm going to make tune of the day because her softly spoken voice really did enhance the feel and mood of the song somewhat. Also, as well as doing a cover of Gnarls Barkley's "Crazy" there was a swipe at the current Government in the closing song "Saving The Planet" which was deceptively quiet, but had a real message in there. I was actually quietly impressed too, she explained that despite her being with child, the only time that she didn't feel in too much pain or nerves was when performing, the opposite of the norm. With her long hair and soft voice, no wonder BBC Liverpool have her as "one to watch". I'd wholeheartedly agree.

Last up, and all the way up from Cornwall, was Pippa WIlliams (myspace) and I hope for her that she felt the journey up North was well worth it for her. Lots of her songs were rooted into the South West where she was brought up, with the soft "Black Hawk" sounding very folky and moody, really atmospheric, and I liked that one. She also sung a West Country folk song acapella at the end of her set too, no guitars or anything, which I thought was really brave. What touched me the most was her song "Lullaby", written about when she moved down to London and was really uncomfortable where she was and so wrote the song to help her sleep. Awww, isn't that just a lovely thing?

So all in all then a lovely time, and all free (although I did donate to the tip glass going round which helped pay for Pippa's train, only seemed fair really) and with people who care about what they do. To have a nice latte, relaxing and enjoying the music, it just seemed so lovely and peaceful and the calm before the intensity that's going to be Gary Numan at the Academy 1 tomorrow night. Hurrah!

Wednesday 3rd September - Turn The Loudness Down

It was one of those sort of days today, when just as you think you've made progress, you then end up going backwards slightly. I was coming to grips with a laptop and getting it pretty much nailed in terms of how it would operate and perform, only for one of the programs to do with statistics to complain about its licencing (or lack of) despite the fact that I'd done exactly the same as I'd done on the other PCs and laptops as well. It was a bit quirky and strange really and so I decided that the best course of action would be to email the software company concerned and ask them what the solution would be, bearing in mind that where I work has a full site licence (which should carry some weight, you'd think!)

I headed into town after work, and on the way in, and heading on the bus, I was tormented with the most awful noise coming out of someone's mobile phone, played of course at full whack to annoy the hell out of everyone. I woudn't have minded that much if it was something nice and mellow on, say a bit of Seth Lakeman or something like that (oh, I'm going to give "Farewell My Love" tune of the day because it's so beautifully sad and morose, those violins really do make it work) but it was some pounding drums and electronics that don't even make a tune, for crying out loud. And some stupid bloke shouting over the top of the cacophany of noise.

Needless to say when I did get off, all I could think was "If I wasn't thinking relaxing thoughts, I'd have decked them one" and that seemed to be the view of most of the other passengers on the bus to be honest. It's really annoying that little scroaty teenagers think that they can get away with just being a nuisance to all and sundry without having any good manners or consideration for other people or even, to put it mildly, respect. It's sad too because I know there are plenty of good teenagers out there who are very thoughtful (saw one the other day giving up his seat to an elderly lady with a walking stick, restored my faith in humanity a fair bit) and idiots like those on the bus this afternoon just tend to tarnish that image.

Later on it was the Professional Masterchef, and one thing came to my mind: does Gregg Wallace have to shout? Like, all the time? I'm sure he knows his food (even if after all he's a greengrocer and not a professional chef) but you just think he could do with toning down the volume a little bit sometimes. Out of the three, none stood out that much but at least they were prepared to give it a go and understand and learn from the experience. Michel Roux is very fair on the whole though, tells it like it is but also gives praise and credit where it's due, so it's not all bad.

Tuesday 2nd September - We've Got Robinho!

Sat for the rest of last night glued to Sky Sports News to see what was happening in terms of the transfer news for my beloved Manchester City. With the new Arab takeover and money to seemingly spend, we'd already whacked in a bid for Dimitar Berbatov, which then Man U had to gazump us for (although the player always wanted to go to Old Trafford, it turned out) but in the meantime, unknown at the time, we'd approached Real Madrid and whacked in another £30million plus bid for Robinho, a target for Chelski all summer. Not just that, but with the clock ticking it was only a matter of time before I got thinking "Nah, not going to happen". But then at five to twelve, official: we've got Robinho!

Bloody hell. I was well pleased, even more so that it was a real coup de grace and showed that we were due to be taken seriously. I am slightly concerned he may have come for the money only, and he'll need to do his talking on the pitch, but all the stadium today has been a buzz with people buying two shirts: either Shaun Wright-Phillips (8) or Robinho (10) and of course getting tickets for, beautifully ironically, the visit of Chelski. I'm going myself with one of my best friends to that one, might have to take the camera and see how well the 10x zoom comes in handy!

Certainly it made today seem that more interesting: mind you was mad busy sorting out installations of software on a few PCs, seeing how the bar code scanner and software works, and then also checking how the laptop I'm working on was going on. After bringing down a sysprep image it still crashed, but then realised it was because it needed a SATA AHCI controller driver, so got the driver, whacked it onto floppy disk (yes, you still have to use them occasionally) and then simply did an in-place XP repair, and that got it up and running. What I'll need to do now is check what needs to be repaired further (although the Novell client remained unscathed, hurrah) and hopefully get that all boxed off.

With the impending release of Pete Green's "Platform Zero" EP (can't wait to get my hands on it and play it) I thought it would be time to get ready for it arriving by listening to the freely available track from it and therefore tune of the day - "Best British Band Supported By Shockwaves" - it does what it says on the tin, by slagging off the NME and its rubbish awards, and also having an infectiously catchy chorus that you can't help but sing along to. My, if only all songs were as good.

Monday 1st September - Arabian Days

Well, the start of a new month, but not the start of any decent weather, as it pretty much rained most of today. Not good. Mind you, I had my head in bits and working hard as all the academics were back and asking lots of things from us, which is always the case. Oh, and to add to that, plenty of account moves which I've had to look after as well, but getting there nicely I reckon. It's one of those days when you know that everything's going to hit you at once and see what happens. I've realised over time though that keeping a calm head is the only way to survive really and just relax a bit. I guess that new found calm ethos is probably because I know that in the past I've made mistakes when stressed, so no point even going there.

Mind you, the news today of course coming from the City of Manchester Stadium has been one to keep an eye on for sure. It looks like my beloved blue shirted heroes have been bought out by an investor from the Middle East, namely the Abu Dhabi United Group. Just the fact the third word of that name mentions City's rivals would be enough for some to be seething, but it looks like the investment is serious and that after the period of due dilligence, the take over should be successful. To me, it's not a surprise though that Thaksin Shinawatra has been looking to sell or seek further investment: with his wife failing a jail sentence and them both theoretically on the run, it may only be a matter of time before he is brought back to Thailand, so getting rid of any external assets now would be a wise move I suppose.

But I must admit, although it'd be nice to scupper the plans of Man U, I don't think going for a player like Dimitar Berbatov is the right move. We already committed a serious faux pas in my view of letting Vedran Corluka go to Tottenham this morning, despite the fact that Vedran has been professional since the whole on/off transfer saga pre-season and indeed in the games he has played for us been committed 100%. On the other hand, Berbatov is way too moody and wants his own way all the time, something which City fans don't particularly like in a player, they'd rather have someone truly committed to the cause. When you see how much it meant for Shaun Wright-Phillips yesterday to be back home and scoring two goals on debut, it made me wonder just how much he realised being at Chelski was a mistake and that he could have been an England regular had he stayed at Eastlands. And £30million for Berbatov is way too overvalued to be honest, he looked better than he was because of his strike partner Robbie Keane, and now that he's at Liverpool, it's shown Berbatov up to be not as good. Besides, when the likes of Vassell and Benjani come back into the foray, with them and Jo up front, that doesn't look as bad somehow!

Nonetheless though, it might be exciting times ahead, but then again, this is City, so who knows? I reckon the one thing any new owners need to do is get the ripoff ticket prices sorted out - I mean almost £40 for the Liverpool game? Who's going to pay that if they can see the game highlights on BBC One the same night for zero pounds? It's getting to the stage where it's pricing me way out of the game which is a shame - I'll have to see if my friend fancies going to Chelski, which is a bit cheaper, and also because it'll be Shaunie Wright Wright Wright against his former employers. And you know what they say about former players always scoring....

Tune of the day is Kraftwerk's "Homecomputer" (or if you're listening to the original German version, "Heimcomputer"). There's something hypnotic and yet simple about this track that I've always enjoyed, even with the German version having words that fit the theme better somehow. It just has a real flow to it that sounds as if it was composed on something eight-bit back in the day but at the same time also sounds really crisp and cleanly produced. Oh, and add to that it's very much a two part tune as well with "It's More Fun To Compute" having sinister notes a bit like some of the music from the TV series Full Metal Challenge had. Rock.