December 2004 Archives

Big Night Out In Stotfold

Last night was the big night out in Stotfold. Much beer in the Stag, yet another monster curry from the Curry Hut, and then back to Gareth's to play Shithead and drink, drink, drink.

Awoke about 9am, eager to get off home, Nige's after a look around Stevenage for an X-Box. So a quick pitstop at home to get washed and changed, and we're back off out in a few minutes.

Lunch? Well, the guys fancy trying out the buffet at the Curry Hut in the leisure park. Well, we've had curry for the last 2 days, shame not to make it 3 in a row!

Day In London

A long day in London, hitting the sales and doing the museums. Well, we got as far as HMV and then got stuck. I did warn Nige and Ian that they could spend all day and all their money in there.

Managed to drag them out for lunch, and then off to the Imperial War Museum. I wanted to show them the Holocaust exhibition. A powerful reminder of what happened, with graphic details of the plans, actions, and deeds of World War 2. If you're ever in London with time on your hands, go to Lambeth North on the Bakerloo, and go to the museum. It's well worth the trip.

After all that we're in the mood for something cheery, so it's off to Stotfold in a few minutes for a night out at the Stag. Hopefully we'll leave the place in a fit state. But you can never tell with Nige and Ian there.

Da Boyz Hit Stevenage

Off Home

That's Mum and Tez off home for New Year. Might be back before then, but it'll all depend on money. Doing the books, and having cash in the bank.

Me in da bruvs are off to the scrappy now, since they've not been for ages, and it's been at least a week since I was last there ;-) See what we can get for Ian's Grandad.

Night In, In Stevenage

Just got back from Newbury, and given the time it'll take to get our glad rags on, make us all less smelly, it's been decided we might as well stay in for the night. There's a big case of Stella in the garden chilling nicely, and a pizza shop we've not ordered from for a while ;-)

Just hope there's something decent on TV to watch.

Day In Newbury

Off over to see Sheila and Andy in Newbury today. Not always possible seeing each other over the festive period, as everyone seems to be at the opposite ends of the country. This year everyone's descending on Newbury, and as Mum and Nige are here, we're off down there too.

Should be a good day, I've not seen them for ages, and not seen my cuz, Lorna, for even longer. She's been hard at study at Cambridge (another one who decided to make their degree harder than need be!), so it'll be good to catch up on how she's getting on.


Nige & Mum Have Arrived

So it's unpacking the car, and off down the Old Town for a few! A chance to get out, take my mind of things, and have a couple of beers wiv me bruv :-D

Doubt there'll be any pics, as the bigger nights out will be happening when Ian and Tez turn up tomorrow ;-)

Jules Memorial Service

Stayed at Janet's last night, didn't fancy a night at home, and it was Jules Memorial Service this morning. So it made sense staying over.

A nice short service, so the emotion didn't ride high. And Father Frank was frank, as always, asking me how I was coping, and then commenting that that was a stupid question as it was obvious that everything wasn't okay. And that's what I like about going to this church. Father Frank has an amazing way of being forthright and honest, and yet supportive and helpful. The type of guy who'd talk for hours, just because it takes your mind off things.

And the services aren't stuffed full of religion, something I detest, since I have a number of issues with peoples blind belief in God and his almighty ability. The Bible, after all, is a book on a life. Faith is defined as a reliance or trust in something. For me the power of the church is in bringing people together, not performing miracles and bringing back the dead. And it's when that community spirit is missed for the blind belief that some superbeing will sort it all out that I switch off.

Christmas Day - 2pm

7 months have gone since we laid Jules to rest. And at 2pm we went up to the cemetry to put down some flowers and a card from us all.

It's a year since we all sat in the family room at the Lister Hospital with presents and drinks, laughing and smiling, hoping and praying.

Everyone's been asking how I'm coping with this time of year, and I've been saying okay. Which is bollocks, of course. And it's even harder given that the 25th is the day we buried Jules, so it's a triple whammy. Ah, I hear you say, that's only 2 things, the funeral and it being Christmas Day. Well, for many of you it may be hard to remember exactly when I asked Jules to marry me, but that happened to be Christmas Day too.

Christmas Day - The Morning

Just woken up, round Janet's. Ended up staying out much later than planned, and even got Janet out for a couple of drinks with her friend, Debbie. And Sy stayed out longer than normal, although we did have to pour him into a taxi when he went ;-)

Good night, caught up with quite a few people I've not seen for ages. And didn't end up with the hangover from Hell like last time. Better get off and have a bath and get ready for dinner :-p

Christmas Eve Is Here!

And we're off home! Work's closing in the next couple of minutes, then it's a mad dash off home with the car, before back down town to meet up for an afternoon's drink with everyone. Hopefully it won't be a repeat of last year, and I'll be home early to bed before Father Christmas comes.

Late Christmas Shopping

Nothing like leaving it to the last minute. And this was, nothing like leaving it to the last minute. That would be tomorrow, wouldn't it ;-)

Not as mad down town as I'd imagined it'd be. Parking wasn't that bad, and even shopping round ASDA to fill the fridge with food for Ian was a quick affair. In fact, where was everyone?

Wrapping starts tonight, the lads ain't out, it's a quiet one instead.

Cheating Death

Interesting story on the BBC:

BBC Online - Big day 'can't slow cancer death'

Interesting as I've examples in my life of instances where relatives have hung on, or appear to have died on a special day. I suppose it's a case of the emotion of the occasion muddying the facts perhaps, but it's still uncanny that, on knowing we'd all be around on a particular weekend, or a special day was coming along, that the loved one in question passed away. Despite the results of this research, I still believe that people can wait, determine the end themselves.
As an aside I stumbled across this part of the general BBC site: - Relationships - Coping with grief - - Homepage

Worth a read, if only to get an insight into what to expect, and why you feel the way you do.

When A Tank Isn't A Tank

Something doing the rounds at work:

The Newcastle Journal - I said water tank – NOT battle tank

I remember when I worked at BP on school work experience having to go to stores for a long weight, and being fitted up, literally, with boots 2 sizes too big, and overalls that would've fitted me today, never mind 16 odd year years ago! So I completely sympathize with the apprentice involved.

How'd It Go?

Dunno, bit weird really. Have to wait and see.

As for the rest of the evening, bit of beer, bowling, and then home for chicken, mmmmmmm :-p

BTW I've permission to publish some of the pics from Friday. Hopefully I'll be able to publish the rest once everyone's on holiday ;-)

I Would Swap

After all the comotion over the weekend, big nights out, drinks to excess, I'd completely forgotten to do my usual read of the BBC News site, and catch up on the goings on:

Tumour diary: Dad would swap

Posted 17 December, a coincidence. And in amongst the latest news, good news that his Father's cancer has cleared up, and how he'd like to swap places with his son, and the research that his wife is doing as a cancer researcher. And among it all was this little gem. :
Cancer will lose and people will win

A Christmas message if ever there was one ;-)

A Change of Plan

Maybe it was Friday night that cheered me up, or putting the decs up last night. Or just sitting and contemplating life at the cemetry in the afternoon. But I got up this morning and started sorting the cards and presents. I know I've left it late, and some may say that's no change. But until today I really wasn't in the mood, and couldn't see any point. There's only one christmas present I want this year, and somehow I can't see it happening myself.

As someone once said, Christmas is the time for giving and rejoicing. Everyone on Friday, probably without realising, gave me hope and cheer. And sitting in the cemetry yesterday made me start thinking would Jules want this to be a Christmas of sadness, or a Christmas as good as could be.

I'll be taking a walk on Christmas Day, to see a soulmate. She won't be able to come to dinner later in the day, but she'll be there in her own little way.

Need Food, Greasy Food!

As I said in the other entry, out on the beers most of yesterday. So a greasy fryup was called for. And Janet came to the rescue, taking me over to Sainsburys to grab a few bits. Back home and I cooked a monster fryup for me and Janet. Then a relaxing time in front of the telly.

Popped up to the cemetry on the way home from Sainsburys. Put some more flowers up, and had a little sit and think. Whilst on the way home from seeing Janie in London, the clock struck and another month slipped by. 7 months have gone now. And sitting at the cemetry, looking around at all the flowers, the sun shining and the wind blowing, it still felt warm being there.

I've just cracked open a bottle of champagne that's been in the fridge for goodness only knows how long. Don't ask me why. And I'm putting up the christmas dec's. Possibly a dangerous combination, but I feel something I want to do.

He's Leaving

No, not me, at least not yet.

The guy I've worked with on SAP and Primavera this year and last, supporting the training, and getting to go to the US for our Bootcamp. He's gone and got himself a new job over the road at May Gurney, doing scheduling and planning. They're implementing Primavera 4.1 this coming year, so he's really fallen on his feet with this one. And before you ask, yes, he's got all our CV's with him. But we're going to wait 'til Easter to see how it goes for him before we start jumping ship ;-)

Anyway's, Friday was his leaving do. And also the Ex-Tele Group Xmas Do. Oh, and did I mention I'd borrowed Janet's car which had to be dropped at the Lister over lunch. Guess not. So, as you can imagine, it was a nightmare of an afternoon, I had to be in 3 places all at once :-O

Curry was top, and the subsequent beer in the Marquis was well received. And there would've been many more, except that the hoards of people expected at Phil's do turned out to be few. So I excused myself and ran over to the Hogshead to hold the fort, and keep Phil from going home early, and not as drunk as one should get on their leaving do.

And that's about it, except for the visit to Chicago's, bumping into a few people from work, (hello to Nicky, Jemma, and Chris :-D) and even seeing a friend of Janets out with her work colleagues, looking a little worse for wear. But then look who's talking, I got home well after 1am, freezing, hungry, and very, very, very, very, very merry.

A bad day? Nope, probably the best Friday out in ages. Really cheered me up, I don't think I've felt this happy in a long time ;-)

I'll publish some piccies if I get permission from those involved...
[UPDATE] The publisher accepts no responsibility for the viewers actions if they decide to venture into the Extended bit....

A Night of Catching Up

Spent tonight (yes, I know it's morning now ;-)), down in London seeing an old friend from Uni, Jane. I've not seen her since last Christmas, it being one of those occasional annual events. Her working in Aberdeen doesn't help either. So when I'd heard she was back down South for the winter it was time to arrange another get together :-D)

Dragged around the shops, looking at all the cool gadgets. It's the one thing I'd miss if I moved away from Stevenage back home, and that's the shear variety of stuff you can find in London. I'd challenge anyone to spend the day shopping this time of year and not come away with something for everyone. There's just so much to choose from. The best one I saw was battery powered tea lights :-D)

Dinner, as always, was in a fantastic diner, somewhere I've no idea where, but they've a website - Eagle Bar Diner. I had a Tequila burger, a very delicous fusion of beef, tequila, and mushrooms, mmmmmm :-p.

I also got to see the flat. Which is no real boast, except Jane's had it 4 years now. An indication of the lack of frequency of our visits.

A long chat, catching up on what's happened this year, why life is so shit, and some very nice champagne. Then a struggle home on the tube, and the busiest train home I've ever been on.

Anyway's, it's now very early in the morning, and I've got to be up for work at 7, urgh :-(


After all the past weeks under the car, getting cold, wet, and covered in oil, it's finished :-D. The brake pipes are all new and shiny, the fuel pump sits in a shiny new case, and all the fuel lines that aren't obsolete have been replaced. And the big crack in the exhaust has been bandaged up. A new exhaust will be top of the list come January. Wonder if German and Swedish are having a January sale.....?

So, MoT booked, Tuesday morning. Fingers crossed nothing else goes wrong.


We're organising a bench up at the cemetry, something I'm sure I've mentioned in the past. A £440 bench, that will last 5 years without treatment. Oh, yeah, that £440 doesn't include treating it, that's down to, "...the requestor of the bench, of which provision for painting or staining will be made in the first few weeks of the bench's placement..." I've ranted enough already about the cost and what I think of the whole thing, :-x(, so I'll not take up any more space with that.

Anyway's, we've noticed benches turning up the last week or so, so I rang them to find out what's happening. Turns out the space available isn't enough to allow the necessary space so we can treat the bench. They're going to extend the paving pad over the winter and that will then give the room needed. A big bonus is that it means our bench won't be out in the bad weather getting all wet and ruined. Plus the payment is made on delivery. So thankfully that means we've got until Easter to save up ;-)

No Comment


Fixed the spam blocker, that'll explain why I've not had any comments posted by anyone since October. I'd managed to ban anything, rather than just the spam stuff - whoops!!


2 things went wrong today. Firstly, Nige and my cousin, Mike, couldn't come down to get Jules car as my mate, Benny, couldn't get the A frame over to Hull. So plan B, sorting something this week for next weekend.

The second thing was the car. Having got the brake pipe I needed, and even asking the guy, "Are you SURE that's a rear flexible brake pipe?", "Oh yeah, definately, mate", you can imagine my mood discovering that it IS a front hose and not a rear one :-(X So, having just about got everything sorted, I'm now another week away from doing it whilst I wait to get a rear pipe.

Oh, and as I sit here typing, the central heating pump's making a LOT of noise :-(

I'm off to bed before anything else goes wrong ;-(

Notting Hill?

Watched Notting Hill tonight, part of the Julia Roberts season. And it lived up to what I'd expect for a Hugh Grant film. But it begs the question, why make it sooooo unbelievably unbelievable, rather than just slight fantasy? Maybe I've not been out and about enough, but since when does someone, having had fruit juice poured all over them, turn round and snog the offending juice thrower? From what little experience I have, anything like that normally gets you a hard slap, or some other painful violent outburst. Many a night did I end up with a pint of Breezer and IPA because I'd upset Jules for a reason I'd never be able to understand, because, and I quote, "You're a man...."

Maybe the Orange Juice Throw is a chatup I've missed, but I have to say it has to rank with the one I heard on Friday night about comparing a woman's bum to that of a small boy's....

Heavy Night, Lousy Morning

Went out for a couple last night, well, at least, that was the plan. Needless to say I ended up walking home much later than planned, and Sy decided to leave early after picking a fight with his own reflection in the loo mirror :-O

Feel as rough as old boots this morning. Must crack on, the weather forecast for the coming week ain't looking good, and I've a car to get sorted :-D

Ivan's Conquering His Fear

Ivan's latest installment after his news about the return of the tumour. He's coming to terms with the uncertainty of the future, and how to face it. Something that is not easy by any means. I've an idea of what it's like, but not as the sufferer, only the supporter. And that was, and is, enough to cope with in itself.

A good thing at least, is the news he's collating the postings and diary entries into a book, which should be published in May of next year.

Reading it through, wise words yet again, and I've nicked one quote, changed it slightly, and will have it stuck above my desk next to the one about doing things right:

Our marks on life endure, and what ever happens to you, a tiny part will be forever yours.

As a good friend last night, in a drunken haze, told me, Jules made her mark, and that tiny part will always be forever in the minds of everyone she touched.


It must've been the smoke last night, both at the Naval do, and then over in Offley waiting for Janet to peel herself off the floor (some people just don't know when to stop drinking, cough...;-)). I woke up this morning feeling as rough as old boots. Been on the lemsips first thing, and still got a headache. Must be the withdrawal symptoms... :-D

My Turn To Drive

Tonight was pay-back for Janet's tireless running around for me, Chris, and the rest when we've had a little too much and needed carrying home safely. Her Christmas do over in Offley, so I took the car for the night, and ran them over there.

Stuck with nothing to do, and not wanting to go and sit at home, I popped over to Letchworth for the Sea Systems "State of The Nation". I'm told that I should not refer to it as a, "Piss up", or "Christmas Party", since those sort of things are not considered appropriate for company do's. And this year, as I wasn't working on that project, I didn't get to go to the important bit, I just self-invited myself to the free bar afterwards ;-)

A good night which disolved into a rather dodgy game of chards, so I and a few others made our escape and went home. Good to catch up with the guys n gals, fill in the gaps, and grab the latest gossip. Plus, being sober this year mean't I didn't miss out like the last time, where things were a complete blank :-O And to answer the question asked all night as to when I'll come back to projects and get a proper job, watch this space. Big things are happening in the New Year, so I'm told, so keep your eyes peeled :-D

New Brain Tumour Treatment

Another story on the BBC, this time on treating brain tumours, in particular the most common and deadly form of brain cancer:

BBC News Online - Hope for brain tumour treatment

This wasn't the one Jules suffered from, she had, like so many things in her life, a less common type of tumour. But, as with the bee's, it's another encouraging development in the fight against what is now recognised as the leading type of cancer.

Bee's Give Cancer The Sting?

Bee pollinating a flower
Interesting development news on the BBC site:

BBC Online - Honey 'could help fight cancer'

I'm always a little wary of these sort of things, after all, the so-called wonder cure of Vitamin "B17" never did work. And life is a very complex equation to crack, as this article seems to suggest. Honey helps if you haven't got cancer, but actually fuels growth if you have.

I hope more research discovers something good, after all, there must be a solution to the problem somewhere in this big system.

Shit Day

...and lousy nights sleep.

Spent most of Saturday fixing the car, running to and from Halfords for bits and bobs. Eventually decided it wasn't going to happen, so soaked everything in WD40, packed up, and came indoors to do household things.

Went round Janet's for the evening, had a monster fry-up and then watched some films. A little whisky too ;-) Sleeping wasn't pleasant, I guess crawling around under the car at my age has done me in. But a Radox bath first thing this morning soon sorted that out.

Finally managed to sort the car, thanks to the trusty Dremel. And Lee from work took one of the Golfs away, so the neighbours are over the moon. Downside of the day was discovering why the brakes are uneven - there's a crack in one of the pipes :-( I've got Monday off so I'll get a pipe then.

Tea, Top Gear (GTI Special!!), drinks and upstairs on the pc researching for tomorrow. More news as it breaks, as they say ;-)

Another Long Day

Last night was great, a good night out which made up for the crappy day. A chance to catch up with Jackie, Jackie, and Alison, as well as have a few beers with Nicky, Stu and Chris. Didn't fancy getting up this morning tho ;-)

Was in early again, as I had a charity luncheon. Which mean't going into work in a suit, on dressing down day. Needless to say everyone was asking if I had an interview, so I had to dash their ideas with the news it was a formal lunch instead, and that the interview is next week ;-)

Back in work after lunch, and finished off a few things. Home to tell the neighbours what's happening with the cars. I can get 2 of them moved, so hopefully that will placate the buyer. Although I'm not too sure I'm keen on the new neighbour if the cars are a problem at the moment. I've been keeping them tidy and clean ever since the council complained. And the only problem has been that someone's slashed my tyres. And I don't want to know who did that, it'll make me loose faith in the neighbourhood.

All's Not As Easy As We Thought

Lools like the upgrade to Primavera 4.1 Service Pack 1 isn't as easy as it first looked. So we're still hard at it. And it's knackering me out :-(

In other news, the neighbours have been round to ask if I can move the cars, as the buyer is threatening to pull out if I don't. That explains all the council warnings at least.

Anyway's, I'm off out now for the Big Night Out, so better get my arse in gear. Should be a good night, and will make up for all the stress of today.

Not Good News

After reading Ivan's last installment, and going through all this last year, I was keeping my fingers crossed he'd be getting some good news about this development. Looks like we didn't have them crossed tight enough:

He says so many things that I remember, and still, think about. How we'd been told it was all but gone, and then the vision blurred, Jules went in for a consultation, and we went and got very drunk.

Stuff like this begins to make you appreciate just how little time you have:

No-one has their future until it becomes their present.
Make something out of every day strength allows and do not look for certainty ahead because the only certainty for any of us is the end.

I'm off out to get some fresh air before I start off again. Maybe everything's getting on top of me again, or maybe this has just brought back some of those memories I've locked away for those quiet moments on my own. I'll be back after lunch.

Beaten Up

Woke this morning and it feels like I've been ten rounds with Mike Tyson. Something's obviously got me thinking, as it must've been the worst nights sleep in ages :-(

Work's going as well as can be expected. We're in the middle of applying a patch to Primavera 4.1 now, as it appears a number of little errors were missed during the testing we did. Annoying, because you think you've covered all bases, but experience for the next time when we go up a release. Check it all, check it again, and then check and make sure ;-)

About Alan Bell

Lapsed: electronic engineer, scout leader, project controller.
Now: Oracle Primavera training consultant, business support manager, occasional website designer.

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