What have I been up to during the Twixmas period? The strange seven days between Christmas and New Year, well I did not think I had done that much but when you put it down on paper (I scribbled down four sides of A4 notes this morning while Pav cooked breakfast). So I have decided to start from Boxing Day up to the end of the vintage year 2008.
Boxing Day as you may already know is my sister Julie’s birthday but we decided to head to my flat in Newbury during the day. The main purpose of the visit was to construct the Malm chest of drawers from Ikea which I got for Christmas. The second reason was to check if the immersion tank had been replaced. The old one had been removed but the new replacement was left standing in the hallway (what little hallway I have in my flat). Construction took a while, even with four people and in theory eight pairs of hands (Dipesh, Natalie, Samantha plus yours truly). We arrived in Newbury around 2pm, and had to leave around 4pm so I could get back in time for the football. In the end it was a bit of a rush, everyone went to the car, as I packed things up. I was going to have to come back a little later than I had originally planned but at least some of my clothes were in place and I could stop living out of a bag as I have been over the past few months, with constant trips back home. During the drive home the realisation hit me that one week from now I would be back at work. (Ironically I now type that thought bubble onto my blog the day before it becomes a reality). We ordered pizza takeaway on the drive back and collected from the White Hart Street restaurant. Back at home it was birthday cake cutting, pizza and then football. We arrived just in time as the teams came out at Villa Park. The less said about Arsenal the better.
We move onto Saturday 27th December, not sure how it felt for you but it felt anything but a Saturday. In fact it felt more like a Sunday for some strange reason. I got up late but helped my Mum with the laundry, going over to the launderette in Flackwell Heath. We dropped the laundry into the machines, it was not actually clothes, just a few duvets, pillows and blankets. No service washes here like in Albert Square, Walford. Quickly we went into town, it was 12:30pm and the machines had an hour to run. We got back at 13:40 and it was time to use the industrial size dryers. In the afternoon my cousins arrived and much of the weekend was spent with them.
Sunday (28th) was Sazzle’s birthday and I had been invited around to her house for a curry. I could not go because I had a bad sore throat, which had started on Boxing Day. Although the sore throat has gone, I am still fighting the chesty cough. The highlight of the day was watching The 39 Steps on BBC1 in the evening. Although not perfectly true to the book it was an entertaining watch. As a consequence, there was a scheduling clash, so I missed Top Gear: Vietnam Special but caught it on BBC iPlayer last night (30th).
In terms of movies, had a poor showing on television (most of which I had already seen) but those I chose to watch myself. Firstly there was Bangkok Dangerous, which I thought would be good as it starred Cage and I admire him greatly as an actor. Overall after a very good start, I was disappointed with the poor story and the lack of development in the character. I think they went for the American Beauty shock factor at the end (which you can almost pick up from the opening monologue) but instead got a bit of a whimper. The ending itself seems to be the easy way out, to not have to explain everything. I did not realise it was a remake until I read the up the film entry on Wikipedia and IMDB. However, I must confess that I had actually confused this movie with another. They had come out at a similar time here in the UK, so both trailers were shown almost together and were very similar. That other movie was Babylon AD and released a week before. Up and coming action star Vin Diesel stars here but once again a disappointing story but some good, if now average action sequences. Even Michelle Yeoh cannot save the day with a bit part and limited screen time next to Diesel. The idea was good and the vision of a future world where soft drinks manufacturers sponsor (or own airlines) was well worth exploring, it is used as an elaborate backdrop. In fact, I found many similarities with the Ultraviolet which I saw a few months back. There was a lot of potential there but I was really disappointed with the climax and ending. It could have been so much better.
On Christmas Eve I had watched Eagle Eye. I had seen the trailers at the cinema earlier in the year and it had looked very good but for some reason I had not gone to see it at Vue. Probably because I did not know much about it, not much is explained in the trailer. It was good fun and I enjoyed some of the twists at the end, but the main action sequences were completely crazy. In the end, I am glad I did not go to the cinema to watch the movie. It was good but not worth seeing on the big screen, particularly with the cast being relatively new. It was the best movie I watched over the Christmas period. I also watched Superman Returns on BBC1 on 29th but was on the laptop midway through so it had only part of my concentration. I spent the night on the so far, which was very uncomfortable. However, the radio kept me company, the over camp Bill Buckley on LBC 97.3. Bill was inviting listeners to call in with suggestions for the period between Christmas and New Year’s Eve. He compiled a list, most of which I have forgotten now but the winning entry was S’nowman’s Land.
Yesterday, Tuesday 30th was my planned departure from High Wycombe back to Newbury. This would give me a day to myself before New Year’s Eve. However there was a possibility I would still be without hot water. There was a change of plan, my Mum suggested we drive over with all my stuff and check the flat out, show my cousins around and then head back home. I could then return the day after with a light load (if any) today. With hindsight, this worked out well. When I got to the flat today, the plumber, was close to finishing , so I unpacked a few things and headed to the gym.
It was quite a wakeup call going back to the gym for the first time in fourteen days. My last visit had been on Thursday 18th December, but my last weights training session had been the day before. The gym was busy with a few new faces but I expect many more to appear in the next month. After my workout I booked my review with Adam for 12:30pm on Sunday, I then headed to Sainsbury’s.
This was a bad call, the supermarket was mobbed. It was about 13:30 and it took me fifteen minutes to find a parking space when it usually takes me no time at all. I then had to deal with the crowds inside. However, I then opted to go up the road to Tesco Extra store. I love retail parks and this was my first visit to my local retail park (even though I stuck to the supermarket side). I always have loved retail parks, even before the Fosse Park days back in Leicester circa September 2000. Again another mobbed supermarket but I did not mind parking right at the back of the car park and walking in. It does not take that long. I had to pick up a few things for NYE house party at York Road, Caversham. Then I went back to my flat. It was for the first time of the day I could sit down and relax, even if only for a little while.
My priority was to get my Squeezebox Boom connected to my wireless network. While speaking to an ex-colleague and friend on MSN the other day, I had asked for suggestions for naming convention for my network. He instantly responded with the suggestion of planets from Star Wars. This could work, I thought, I could name my wireless network Death Star and the pieces of kit, Naboo, Tatooine etc. The more I thought about it, the more it became the ideal plan. I made the change to the router (wireless had been deactivated the moment I got the device as there was no need for it). However it did not work, my Squeezebox Boom would not connect for some reason, even with no security. I gave up, went into the lounge, had some somasas and onion bhajis my Mum had made earlier, put on the portable heater because it was so cold. In the end I opted to take the Boom and connect it via ethernet connection to my router, just to have some background music. I then went to my room and began unpacking my clothes, some of which had been left the day before. I also got my bag ready for the night and everything together, including my e-ticket for Raw Filth. With everything ready, I thought I would give the Boom one more try and sure enough it worked. Fantastic! I even sent a triumphant tweet at 4:15pm, it was an hour and fifteen minutes before I would leave Newbury for Reading.
It is at this point my notes change from coherent sentences to notes of a few words. It is going to be difficult to remember what else I should include but I will try my best. Actually perhaps I can save the story of the night for another post. Or maybe I will come back and add the rest later over the weekend. The main thing is that I have spent a good few hours writing this post and need some rest.
I left Newbury at 5.30pm and got to Pav’s just after 6pm. It was the last night of 2008 and I was about to have my last supper. Pav had to burn his mix CD, having lost his Tunes #19 album, he burnt this and the tracklisting. Although the PlextorTools was not working correctly to read the CD-Text from the audio CD so therefore he had to type in the tracks manually (with the track lengths). Then it was cooking time, Pav got the wok out and prepared a fabulous stirfry for fajitas. Melanie arrived, in her shining silver MG TF, very much a car for her. She parked up behind my car, so I had to go out and move it slightly forward. It was save parked opposite Pav & Emily’s as it was a holiday period. Although I was worried that I would return to my car and find the chain up or worse a clamp on the wheel. I put the thought to the back of my mind and began to look forward to the night. After dinner we got ready and headed over to York Road via taxi.
We arrived and eventually the door was opened by a t_dogg in a flowery bright pink and purple shirt. We went through to the dining room, where the table had been moved to one side and the decks had been placed on a cabinent on the side by the big wall mirror. However, they were playing a Guns amp; Roses album, because none of the current guests were big dance music fans. This soon changed, as Emily got on the decks. Two vinyl turntables but only one CD deck. Not good Mr. Fox, not good at all. He owns a varied music collection of some commericial material with some more heavy pieces to the right shelf. After Emily, it was a case of the flood gates opened everyone wanted a go on the turntables and it was down to the host with the most to give the guidance. The great moment was when Alan was on the decks and with the headphones on was too engrossed in the track to mix in that he did not notice the playing track finish to complete silence. He finally got it when we all burst out laughing at him.
The highlight of the evening, prior to the tolling of midnight was me losing my virginity. My Wii virginity. I have never played the console before but finally got a chance tonight. It was setup in the lounge, connected to a large 32 inch LG HD screen.Wii Sports was loaded and I first played Bowling, then later double tennis. Now there are two reasons why I no longer play computer games (on any platform). Firstly I just do not have the time, secondly I am just rubbish at them. I am glad that I stopped my addiction to Championship Manager in the mid to late 1990s. However, like I was not a Phyiscal Education fan back at secondary school, I now find myself a gym addict. Could it be a case of being a computer gaming failure, only to turn into a semi-pro gamer when I turn thirty two. My return to the games arena was poor, actually worse than poor. I could not get the hang of the controller for Tennis but for Bowling, I honed my technique thanks to some coaching from Emily. “Just play as bad as you can!” It did work but I improved my technique further when playing against Div and Nige. Nige had the special backdrift move to get strikes and I got it to work, just the once. Twist the controller gives it a little backdrift. I would rather not mention the tennis match at all. A doubles game with Foxy’s housemate Ben (my partner) and two other friends (I did not catch their names). My character was Grace, and during the first match, I did not hit the ball at all. Ben hit my returns as he was serving. When I got a chance to serve, I only return two or three balls (to big cheers) before crashing out. If you had seen my long-haired glasses wearing female character swing at thin air, you would have been on the floor with laughter. I gave up and did not go on the console again.
Some time around 11pm we were treated to the live entertainment. The performers? Well the local house band, made up of Geoff, Thomas (t_dogg) and his brother Matt. Plus also Pav and Nige (for good measure) just to try out their skills. What am I talking about? I am talking about Guitar Hero World Tour on the PS3. Foxy was a legend along with Matt on the guitar and Geoff put in a stirling performance on the drums. Pav had a go and enjoyed it but Nige opted for the beginner mode which meant he could hit any drum or symbol rather than using the colour coded tabs on screen. A cop-out if I must say so myself, although I thought about having a go I thought against it, plus it was getting close to the witching hour. Pav started to give me updates and before I knew it, there were less than ten minutes left of 2008.
I got the champagne ready and got the party poppers. My Dad had left me a bag at home which I had brought with me. I handed a few out, the TV had been switched over to BBC1 (Freeview, because we could not work out how to put the Sky on) and watched the count down in London. I remember 29 being displayed on the side of a building in bright white digits, the count down continued. I was in the hallway by the stairs. Not the most convenient place to be for the start of 2009 but the lounge was packed and did not have much space with all the Guitar Hero kit all over the place. Then the bell struck midnight. 2008 disappeared and 2009 had begun. Once again I felt a sense opportunity for the year ahead.