Monday, February 26, 2007

Windows now installed

Today I've spent 8-9 hours putting Windows XP back onto Mrs C's
together with several programs, AVAST anti-virus software,
reconnecting the wireless internet link (which was easy-peasy),
setting up Outlook Express (with various email addresses),
and putting back on some of Mrs C's favourite website addresses
too. Google is our preferred homepage, as I reckon it is for most
people. (With several BBC homepages and MSN on the favourites
list, we
don't need the BBC or MSN on the opening internet page -
they're too cluttered for me).

The jammin session's been postponed as one of the lads felt too
ill to come -- he's suffering with flu-like symptoms and a bad cold
& cough, poor bloke. So instead of strumming and singing along,
I had a mug of coffee and a long chat with my other guitar friend,
sitting in the warmth of his living room.

We've had a lovely sunny day here in Nottingham today, though the
wind felt chilly. Our daffies are out in bloom in our back garden, and
some of the
cherry blossom is out on the trees nearby, so I'm
cheerful with the prospect of Spring being almost here.

We had the pleasure of our first granddaughter here with us today,
while her mum went off to see the dentist a few miles away. Little
Ava was delightful -- she'll be 5 months old next weekend.

Sunday, February 25, 2007

Reinstalling/repairing Windows XP

Yes, folks, I've been having fun and games sorting out Mrs C's
laptop. I spent a good part of Saturday doing a repair job on
Windows XP, reinstating the wireless internet connection and
putting back a lot of addresses onto her Outlook Express,

followed by a full Norton anti-virus screen (which gave the all
clear). However, all that work was of little use, unfortunately.

No f.....g use, at all.

Today, I put on and ran the free AVG anti-virus software, having
disabled the Norton one .... and lo and behold! ... a bloody Trojan
virus, which had slipped through the Norton defences. Having
"deleted" that one, I backed up some of Mrs C's
documents and
photos onto a flash drive (the Nero CD burner had been disabled
by the virus), and then went back to reinstalling
Win XP from the
recovery disc we'd been supplied with.

There was a lot of stuff about partitions in the reinstallation
procedure, with dire warnings of what might happen if I did one
thing or another. So I've been back on the internet on our main
computer, to get some more info. I found this site on Google,

which gives a step-by-step guide for newbies like me, with the
screenshots I've been looking at for the past few hours -- very

I've also just had a look at edt's comment (many thanks again,
edt), about trying out some different anti-viral software, AVAST,

which I'll download tomorrow afternoon.

Tomorrow morning, I'll be jammin' with a
couple of mates, followed
by a pub lunch with them, which will make a refreshing change to
looking at computer
screens all day. As I've said from time to time,
"It's a hard life
being retired". It's sooo difficult to fit everything in
... I'll have
to go on a time management course.

Saturday, February 24, 2007

My "to do" list for today

My "to do" list for today includes hiring a suit from the Lace Market
Theatre Wardrobe Department for my brother's funeral next week.
I've bought several suits over the years, but I hardly used them at
all and they all started
to deteriorate or look very dated. So I've
decided to hire a suit for special occasions in future.

Another job to do today is sorting out my wife's new laptop, which
has been hit by a nasty virus. I've no idea how that got on board
as we have
Norton software installed, and to our knowledge we
haven't opened any dodgy emails. It's odd that we still have access
to a few sites like MSN, Hotmail and Yahoo, but not to Google
(which would have been handy for downloading other anti-viral
software). I've just had a thought that the crafty bugger who
invented this virus is hoping that we'll carry on emailing our
friends via Hotmail & Yahoo, to spread the virus around a bit more.

My friend, Barry, recommends wiping the hard drive and reinstalling
Windows XP and other software. Previously I'd backed up all Mrs C's
photos onto
a CD-Rom, which was fortunate. I'm hoping to print
off a few of Mrs C's documents (even though some of the Word
documents have become wonky).

I picked a cheaper version of Norton to install on the laptop, which
may have
been a mistake -- the subscription is due in May, so I'm
thinking of installing the free one from AVG instead to give us some
cover, and to do back-ups more often on her laptop from now on.
Sorting out the wireless internet connection to the laptop will be a

pain too.

A few years ago, I was hit by a nasty Trojan virus, which got past

my Norton defences. I spent ages sorting all that out, reinstalling
everything on my main computer. Oh what fun.

Thursday, February 22, 2007

I've had some bad news about my brother

My brother, Peter, died yesterday at the age of 67. He'd been ill in
hospital since early December with leukaemia. He responded quite
well to chemo, but then developed a rare brain version of the
condition, and went rapidly downhill.
I went to see him during one week when he was at home between
courses of chemo, just at the time he was developing a stroke -
he looked very ill then. He devoted 40 years of his life to medicine
(looking after diabetics in the Bradford area, where he was just the
one consultant doing the work of 4). He went part-time at the age
of 60, but didn't fully retire until he was 65.
He was looking forward to many more years together with his wife,
their children and grandchildren, but sadly this won't happen.

So, make the most of life while you can, folks. Life is short.

Sunday, February 18, 2007


There must be a lot of Kylie Minogue fans out there, including
Quarsan (see his entry on Zoe’s site for last Monday, 12 February
– sensational). Anyway, those of you who are will be thrilled to
know that there’s a new exhibition all about the clothes she’s
worn over the years at the V&A in London. The clothes include
those dreadful denim overalls she wore as Charlene in Neighbours
(does anyone remember her in Neighbours all those years ago?),
plus the gorgeous gold hotpants she wore in the “Spinning Around”
video. Well she looked gorgeous in them.

Here’s the website link to the exhibition for those of you who are

keen to see them. I was surprised to see that admission to the
exhibition is free. I’m hoping to go to an exhibition of Renoir
landscapes at the National Gallery that’s starting next week –
to see the fabulous light in his paintings – he’s one of my all-time
favourite artists. It’s unfortunate that there’s an admission charge
of £12 pp, but that no doubt this will be paying for the huge
insurance and travel costs for the paintings.

I bought some Kylie pants for my late mother some years ago.
Here’s a link to one of the websites that sells them, for all you
fashion-conscious people. I’ve still got one unused pair – well,
they might come in handy one day!

Saturday, February 17, 2007

The funny things kids say.

One of Mrs C’s friends, Eileen, had her family over to stay with her
and her husband a few weekends ago. They’ve got two
grandchildren: Sophie and Archie, aged 5 and 2. Sophie came into
Eileen’s bedroom on the Sunday morning, came up to Eileen and
closely inspected her face.
“Did you know, Grandma,” she said very seriously, “ that there is a
cream that will make your wrinkles disappear in a week?”
The power of TV advertising!

A year earlier, Eileen had gone to stay with her family, and was
bending down to clear away some toys, while Sophie and Archie
were playing in the living room. Sophie shouted out, “Grandma,
you’ve got a big bum!”, and then Archie took his dummy out of his
mouth and said, “Big Bum!”, (and put his dummy back in again).
“Oh, really?”, said Eileen.

Friday, February 16, 2007

Valentine's Day thoughts

We didn't do anything special together for Valentine's Day, this
year, except for
eating some lovely M&S lemon sole, which I
cooked for the evening meal. I also bought some red tulips and
daffies for us, to mark the day,
and fairly soon, we'll go and buy
ourselves a large glass vase
to replace the one that broke (and
cut my fingers).

I am a romantic, though I don't believe love lasts forever (just
think of the
thousands of people who get divorced every year).
As kids we were all told lots of fairy stories about true romance ...
Sleeping Beauty,
Cinderella, etc., where the couple "lives happily
ever after"... falsely raising our expectations of what coupledom
is like. And then as adults, we go out and buy loads of romantic
fiction or watch romantic movies (well, some people do). Are
some of us living in cloud cuckoo land?

I asked my dad once (well more than once actually) about what he
thought was the secret of a long marriage ... my parents struggled
through many years of unhappiness together, but their love for each
other blossomed again in later years ... he said, "It's tolerance of
other." I think that's very true, as individuals change a lot over
years, and if one of the couple can't accept that, then the
relationship will fail.

I have to say that I get tearful when I hear couples recite their
vows during a wedding ceremony, as I am very touched when I hear
them promise their endless love for each other, come what may.
And yet how daft is that whole concept, given the divorce statistics?
How could we expect a couple to endure years of misery together

if things turn sour, especially if one of them has had an affair?

And what are my tears of joy all about? Why do I feel "soppy" at
weddings? Perhaps I'm recalling my own wedding and how happy

I felt on that occasion. But tears? Crying seems very inappropriate,
don't you think?

Here endeth Thought for the Day.

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Say "No" to 08 number phone calls & Pizzas

As you will know from my previous posts, I have a "bee in my
bonnet" about having to use these expensive phone numbers,

which I'm having to use more and more. What is more galling is
the fact that the companies concerned are making money out of me,
by keeping me waiting in a queue for a customer service adviser, or
by asking me to go through loads of options: "Press 1 if you are
ringing about your bill or direct debit...". And then, "Please hold
while we
connect you to our next customer service adviser".

I spotted an article by Mark Bridge in last Saturday's Times (which
is not my usual choice for a Saturday newspaper), recommending

we all try this new online service for finding cheaper alternative
phone numbers. I've just tried it, and it's very good ....

Try putting "Tesco" in it, to find your nearest branch of Tesco --
if you'd like to find out if they've got something exotic in
without having to go and search the shelves yourself or have
a look
online. I've run out of those dry black olives, which taste very
as a pizza topping. My local branches of Tesco and Asda no
stock them, so I've asked one of my daughters to look out
for a jar
when she next does a Sainsbury shop.

On the subject of pizzas, I fairly keen to make my own, but we like
a lot of veggie topping which tends to make the base soggy/under-
cooked. While we were on holiday in NZ, one of our hosts, Raewyn,
made some
gorgeous pizzas for us. We've copied a couple of her
ideas, with
excellent results, so we now have a pizza about once
a week.

Here's a recipe, which we constantly change from time to time to
get better results.

For the bread base (for 2 pizzas, using a bread machine)
512g (1lb 2oz) of the best white strong bread flour

(sometimes I use some strong wholemeal flour in combination with
the white flour)
Half to one sachet of Hovis/other dried yeast
1 tablespoon of sugar
1 teaspoon of salt (sometimes an extra half tsp.)
320ml of water (normally 360ml when baking a loaf)
Two splashes of sunflower oil (I used to use only one)
Pop in the machine on the pizza dough setting.
The machine cycle is 45 minutes, and it takes longer to rise in the
pan. We halve the dough and roll it out into roughly two circles,
and then fit them onto perforated round pizza trays. This amount
of dough will produce a medium thick bread crust, when baked,
probably enough for 3 or 4 people.

Oven temps: 200-250 deg C. The professionals use extremely hot
ovens for a fast bake.

Tomato paste topping - we use the Napolina pizza topping stuff
sometimes in combination with concentrated tomato paste,
generously smeared on top of the pizza bases.

Toppings -- finely chopped red onion and red/yellow peppers,
tinned sweetcorn, sliced mushroom, a little finely chopped garlic
(whatever you like really). We've started stir frying all this in a little
sunflower oil, to put it hot and partially cooked straight onto the
pizza bases
(obviously start cooking the onion and peppers first
before adding
the other veg). Raewyn roasted her onion and
using a George Forman-type grill/toastie maker.
... and then add some grated cheese (eg Mozarella) and olives
and/or tinned anchovies. Sometimes instead of cheese we use
some tinned tuna
(very well-drained). Thinly sliced courgettes are
nice in stir fry mix too.
Some people like to drizzle on some olive
oil on top too - we don't.

Cooking times: depend on your oven, but could be about 20-25
until the edges look well baked (& it smells lovely).
We serve it up with a green salad, Italian-style. Yummy!
If you've got some good ideas, please let me know.

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

A funny happening in bed the other night

We've just had the pleasure of a couple of our daughters staying
with us for the past few days, in addition to L. and Baby India.

The only downside to their visit is my missing out on being in my
den/computer room/spare bedroom late at night or first thing in
the morning. These are the times when I prefer to do some
blogging - so sorry, Dear Reader, for my sporadic blogging of late.

Anyway, to tell you a funny story, I spent the past few nights
lying next to Mrs C (instead of in the spare bedroom), with my
anti-snoring devices in situ (obtained from the British Snoring
Association, by the way) -- metal prongs up my nose, to widen
my nostrils, and a soft piece of plastic across the inside of my
mouth -- the idea being that I should be breathing through my
nose rather than my mouth, with no snoring. I have visions of
me looking like Dr Hannibal Lecter, wearing these devices, though
Mrs C assures me that I don't.

If we were to get any night-time intruders, I'm sure that if I
rushed out of the bedroom towards them, sniffing and grimacing
like a rat, they'd run off screaming. However, I'm digressing ...

One of the problems of the mouthguard is that it tends to fall out
during the night, so Mrs C has to put up with a lot of snoring -- she
has difficulty waking me up if I'm in a deep sleep. This happened a
couple of nights ago. After some repeated and vigorous poking in
the ribs from
Mrs C, I eventually woke up at 4 in the morning ...
whereupon I
started to feel around in the dark for the missing

After my searching around for a few minutes and then sitting up
in bed, Mrs C switched on her bedside light to help me see where
it was ... I searched everywhere, including down the sides of the
bed and underneath it. At this point I went to the loo, partly to see
if it would fall out from somewhere within my pyjamas -- nothing.
I said to Mrs C, "Perhaps I've swallowed it?!"

Mrs C got up next and started to search through my side of the bed.
Still nothing.

And then she looked round at me and spotted it ...
stuck on the top of my bald head (like a limpet)!
We both had a good laugh about that. A bit like someone searching
for his specs, only to realise later that they're perched on top of his
I think I'll have to get a muzzle to stop the damned thing falling out
-- then I'll definitely look like Dr Lecter. :)

Friday, February 09, 2007

It's been snowing here

I thought I'd have a go at uploading this photo of Little Ava,
which I took a couple of days ago when it was bright and sunny.
(A cheerful little kid isn't she?)

Well everyone in the UK knows the weather has been dire in the
last couple of days -- bad snowfalls in parts of the country,
though here in Nottingham, we've got off lightly. 50 miles to the
west of us in Birmingham, there's been heavy snow and very poor
road conditions.

Mrs C went out this evening with a couple of friends for a meet-up
at another friend's house in Radcliffe-on-Trent, which is about
10 miles south-east of Nottingham. They went the cross-country
route unfortunately ... it took them 2 hours to drive there as the
traffic was so slow. Their evening went very well otherwise.

L. and I watched some TV instead (after eating veggie bangers
and mash with lots of green veg and gravy). I don't usually
watch American Pop Idol, but I did, and it was fairly entertaining
watching the singers and the reactions from the judges, Simon
Cowell in particular. I thought he was very fair & I agreed with
everything he said -- he seems to have mellowed somewhat, and
he was in a very good mood. Later on we watched Man Stroke
Woman, which I like for its sharp humour.

Coming back to the veggie sausages, my favourite brand is the
Cauldron Lincolnshire one (stocked by our local supermarkets and
the smaller health food shops).... they taste almost as good as
meat-filled ones.

My photo-editing talk went fairly well earlier this week, though I ran
into problems explaining how to print out photos onto Word
documents and using Publisher too ... got a bit out of my depth.
Part of the problem for me was being used to using older versions
of these programs and not the 2003 versions, and so having to
learn & present some new stuff. I'll cut all this out of my next
series of talks to simplify matters.

Monday, February 05, 2007

When it's too cold

I had planned to go into town this morning to sort out a few things,
but then, out of the blue, our plumber arrived to service our central
heating boiler and to sort
out a slight water leak from it. (He was
supposed to be coming next week to do all this). The slight water
leak was a more major problem than I'd thought, and he spent the
part of the day having a look at it. Unfortunately he couldn't
hold of a small replacement part for the boiler, (which is a highly
efficient Vaillant one, made in Germany), and we're having to wait
2-3 weeks to get the part sent over from Germany. So, Mr P has
the leak temporarily, until he comes back to fit the new part.

He said he'd bill us next time, but with plumbers charging £200 for
a day's work these days, (plus cost of parts on top), we'll be
a large bill.

Imagine what life would be like without central heating? It would
be like going back 50-60 years, when we had coal fires in one or
downstairs rooms and no heating at all in the bathroom and
bedrooms, apart from the occasional luxury of a one or two bar
electric fire, or an Aladdin paraffin heater, plus hot water bottles in
the beds. Any of you old enough to remember having these in your
childhood? We were a hardy lot then. ("Ee, when I were a lad ....").

It wasn't until 1964, when we moved into a brand new house, did
have the luxury of central heating. Before that I used to see
"Jack Frost" patterns on my bedroom window, on frosty mornings.
freezing. Would you choose to live in a very cold place over
without central heating? Well I wouldn't, if I could choose
to live somewhere warmer.

Thinking about igloos, I think my wife, Mrs C, would be happy
in one. She likes our main bedroom very cold at night, with
windows open, and with very little covering her. I'm the exact
opposite -
give me a warm bedroom any day/night, with a thick
duvet (plus extra
layers in the wintertime ... I'm so thin, you see),
and the windows shut (except
when it gets too hot in the Summer).

I'm a bad snorer too. I sleep so heavily that I don't respond to
being kicked, punched or poked
in the night. However, all Mrs C has
to do is to fling back
the bedcovers off me, and I'll wake up very
quickly to haul them
back up again. I think this has the makings of
a good TV comedy sketch, somewhat like "One Foot In The Grave".

So you can see that we're totally unsuited to each others' company
bedtime ... well, during the night, anyway.

New Blogger - take it or leave it folks

I was obliged to sign up for the new version of Blogger today,as
some of you will have found also. On the plus side, I've noticed
some improvements already - in the speed of switching from one
part of this site to another -- especially the Edit function.

I've yet to load up any photos - I'll be interested to see how that
goes in due course.

To continue one of the themes of my last post, the pure whiteness
of the background in some WordPress sites does my eyes in. Is it
just my eyesight/the brightness of my screen, or are you affected

Sunday, February 04, 2007

I've got a bad cold

Yes, for the second time this winter, I've gone down with the
usual chesty cough, bad headcold, aches and pains, and poor
stamina -- only walking slowly up hills, as if I were an old
man. Well some of you might say that I am an old man -- I am
59, but I usually feel as if I'm still 21 in terms of general
fitness. So I'm keeping my distance from folk at the moment,
including Baby India.

I was surprised to see on the main news today, that Bernard
Matthews's massive turkey flock has been hit by the Asian Bird
Flu. A bad day for the poultry industry in this country, and a
very worrying time for the farm workers, who might get struck
down with this killer disease.

Perhaps more people will stop eating meat after this outbreak?
Not that the experts think that infected meat will get into
our shops ... but with all illnesses there is usually an
incubation period, during which germs multiply inside animals,
before they show outward signs of disease. What is the
incubation period for the Asian Bird Flu, I wonder? How did
BM's turkeys come into contact with the wild birds outside?
And how on earth can the UK Government contain an outbreak of
this flu in the wild bird population?

I was interested to read in Mike's blog (Troubled Diva) about
how people are finding "New Blogger". Mike is enthusiastic
about it,especially its new labels, but he's had a lot of
negative comments from his readers, especially with loading up
photos onto it.

I'm still having problems with getting photos onto Old Bodger.
So I tend to have a go either first thing in the morning or
late at night, when I reckon there are fewer people using
Blogger, and I now put my photos on first, before writing any
text, which usually works for me. So what do you think about
New Blogger?

I've been reading the IT section in last Thursday's Guardian,
which I find is very informative ... not that I understand
much of the technical stuff. There was one review of a new
Sony machine on which you can read whole books -- Sony have
developed a system which emulates the printed page in a book,
in terms of the colour of the print and the background colour.
I'm interested in anything which makes things more readable/
comfortable for my eyes (and hopefully for yours). I've
already copied a font colour for this print from Gordon
McLean's WordPress site (hope you don't mind, Gordon), and
now I've tinted this webpage a slight yellow colour -- it's
called Honeydew from the Wikipedia web colours site, and the
code is #F0FFF0, if you fancy trying it.

Thursday, February 01, 2007

Baby photos

Well, as I said in my last post, Baby India was born last
Thursday. Her parents had a long wait that day, as 8
emergency CSes were done ahead of L's. Mum & Dad were
full of praise for the care they received at Nottingham
University Hospital, as they are for the skill of Mr
Mohamed Taranissi in his London IVF clinic (and the care
they received from him and his colleagues). I was about
to say that Mr Taranissi created India, but there was
probably some divine providence in all this and the fact
that the pregnancy went to almost full term.

Both mum and baby are doing amazingly well -- they came
out of hospital on Saturday, the staples were taken out on
day 5, after which L. and I went out for a walk round the
block with India in the pushchair. In the early years of my
medical practice, women would be kept in hospital for up to
10 days after a CS, and women who'd had normal confinements
were strongly advised not to go out for walks before 10 days
afterwards. It's interesting how "good" medical/nursing
practices have changed over the years. One reason is the
faster turnover of patients through the hospital system --
if you're looking well after surgery, and the home
circumstances are OK, you're kicked out very quickly. Just
as well, I think, as hospital food can be unappetising, and
the general atmosphere can feel like being in a prison (with
the daily hospital routines & not getting out for fresh air).

I've selected a few of my photos to show you ... India aged
24 hours (in hospital), India again with her mum and dad,
our first granddaughter, Ava, who is coming up to 4 months
of age. Her parents have nicknamed her as "Shib-Shab", which
is short for Shish Kebab -- I don't know why she's called
that, though it does sound funny. The last photo is of
Little Milo (our great-nephew), who will be 1 in May. He's
almost at the walking stage, as you can see.