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September 1st 2006
I arrived back home last night, from Monty. Expect photos and a diary of sorts sometime soon - unfortunately, the notes I made are in my bag, which got left in Vienna by the airport people. Should be arriving soon, though.

September 4th 2006
Yesterday was Mum's birthday, and to celebrate the occasion we entered a pub quiz (sans Simon) in which we came in a credible 4th out of 12. Included was a 'School Days' round, in which we scored full marks on the Eng Lit round - able to correctly identify five 'Shakespeare novels' - but only 4/5 on the maths round. Yes, we didn't know how many 'sides' a dodecahedron had. Anyhow, for Mum's birthday I got her a caravan clock, which was well received, and Dad got her some caravan wheels, to maintain (and indeed pre-empt) a theme. Simon, still in Manila, was not on hand to give her anything... this whole birthday bonanza came hot on the heels of the Test the Nation IQ test, fronted by Anne Robinson and Danny Wallace. Again, the family minus the older son took part, Facial Hair and Mewith final IQ scores coming out pretty close: myself 130, Dad 131 and Mum 127... of course, she would have done better if she didn't have a stigmatism (repeat ad infinitum) and if she hadn't misunderstood the number square round. So we headed to bed contented - Dad scored the highest IQ, I scored the most points, and Mum could celebrate her birthday. Not bad. Oh, and for Monty updates I'm thinking of doing 101 Things About My Trip To Niksic. Soon. And if you're wondering what the picture is, I decided to show you what my facial hair state currently is, but I also decided to mess around a bit with the features on FotoCanvas, some software I discovered on my laptop the other day.

It seems that the world is filled with people who did better in their GCSEs than I did - if you remember (or ever knew), on the day itself I was knocked out the park by Simon, and The Pole got the same average, but tellingly with nothing lower than an A. Sporadically I hear about friends and relatives who did better, and just the other day I read about Emma Watson (Hermione in the Harry Potter films) beating me by a grade. I mean, it's not like she needed to put the effort in; she's made a buck or two on the silver screen, you can readily buy an action figure of her... Cosmo Landesman says she's a babe. Of course, he's always wrong, but it's something for the scrapbook. But even with the lack of motivation, she topped me. Depressing, isn't it?

September 6th 2006
They say that there's nothing more boring than hearing about other people's dreams. Well, if that's the case, this entry will be a trifle dull for anyone who isn't me, since that's what I'm going to write about. A lot of people say they don't remember their dreams at all, but I've been able to recall mine in the morning most times. Sometimes it takes a while, and sometimes it just hits me halfway through the day, but usually the strange mess that seemed natural at the time comes back to me in all its illogicality the morning after. I mean, people change in my dreams, entire situations change, and it's only afterwards that I realise: last night I was dreaming about a tennis tournament being contested by Kirsten Dunst (in the dream she was not only a promising actress, but also a rising tennis star), which became Junior Wimbledon somewhere along the way, and by the time I'd got to organising the ball boys, it wasn't Kirsten on the other side of the net. It was Andy Giles. In real life, this would be devastating: in the dream, I'd already forgotten the original premise, and soon the whole thing switched from being a tennis tournament anyhow. Actually, going back many years, when I was a very young kid I refused to believe that I ever went to sleep - y'know how it feels that you've just had your eyes closed, then it turns out you've been asleep for ages? - largely because I'd never dreamt. Or, at least, if I had I never remembered the dream. This all changed one night when I dreamt that I was Spotty Man, and Superted was in the bath... inspirational stuff it isn't, but it was sufficient to make me believe that I slept, and I think that that's a rite of passage every child has to go through. There's also the recurring dream that I haven't had for a while, where I have two Pluggys (y'know Pluggy by now, surely?) - the thing is, though, that the dream never involves me discovering I have two. I always knew already, and the dream reaches me at the point where I'm getting distressed by the situation, usually where I have to make the choice of which one to get rid of. Then there have been two or three dreams that I'll remember for a long time, which stick in the memory. One that may fit into that category was mentioned last year on December 12th. I've also featured in other people's dreams, on occasion - who can forget the time that Christine dreamt of she and I visiting Ant's house, together, and discovering that he does have steps up to his front door? Proof which settled that little debate, by the way, whatever he says.

I've realised that today is the first anniversary of Rich's blog starting. Please keep next Monday free in your diaries, since it's the first anniversary of Rich's blog ending. Anyways, I'm heading up to Cov very soon, so the next time you'll hear from me, I'll be back on Westwood Road.

September 9th 2006
So, I'm back on Westwood Rd, having been in and out of hospital. The "you'll be back on your feet within a week" prognosis has changed to 4-6 weeks, and I have a long stretch of boring (and reasonably painful) inactivity ahead of me. I also never got myself a form for free prescriptions this year, so there's expense adding insult to injury. Ah well, at least I'll be able to update some website and watch all those films I've been meaning to. Life Is Beautiful.

September 11th 2006
I don't know if I've previously mentioned that 'he/she was on Friends' game, so I'll run over the basics of the rules. Well, the rules in their entirety, in fact. Whenever you're watching a film, and see an actor or actress who has also appeared in the popular American sitcom Friends, you say "he was in Friends" or "she was in Friends", dependent on the gender of the espied thespian. Beginners to this game might want to kick off with Charlie's Angels, or perhaps Three To Tango (the former featuring Matt Le Blanc, the latter starring Matthew Perry, but also including in the cast Bob Balaban, who played Phoebe's dad on Friends). Those in search of instant gratification should jump to Ocean's 12, which has among its stars George Clooney (Series 1), Brad Pitt (Series 8), Julia Roberts (Series 2), Bruce Willis (Series 6) and Elliott Gould (a regular, who's appeared in every series, I expect). Why do I mention this now? Well, I was watching Donnie Darko today, and while it's still as crazy as ever, my enjoyment was somewhat heightened by a spot of 'he was in Friends'. But I feared the worst - Drew Barrymore was, of course, mentioned in Series 2 of Friends, but made no appearance. Then I checked the cover of the DVD, and saw that Noah Wyle (Series 1) was among the stars, even if I didn't recognise him on screen. I was satisfied... but surely that woman - Kitty - was familiar? Could she... could she be Lizzy, from The One With The Thumb, a woman who lives on the street and is Friends with Phoebe? A little checking on the credits of both, and I discovered that her name was Beth Grant, and she had indeed played Lizzy. See how much fun the 'he/she was in Friends' game is? Go on, play it yourself.

September 14th 2006
Apologies that I still haven't really done anything to the Monty page - at least I have an excuse for yesterday, since Ant and I spent most of it watching the extended Lord of the Rings trilogy. I fell asleep twice, I'm afraid, so it was a little pathetic, but never mind. Oh, and thanks to those of you who read about my op here and checked up on me - it's nothing life-threatening, just annoying, really. Keep praying for me. Cheers.

Spot the differenceIt's 5.35pm (Neighbours time, by the way) and I haven't achieved a great deal today, but one thing I have managed is to order my bus pass for this year, and with a brand new photo... which I've shown you here, despite the fact that I hate photos of myself. Reflects the new look - although suggests I might have to hang on to it for a while.

September 16th 2006
If you head over to www.freewebs.com/sixtysevens, you'll find my website about Ant and I visiting all - well, a lot of - the number 67s in Earlsdon. I've not finished with it yet, and especially I'm not sure what to do about the IE problem. Does anyone out there have any idea why a cell that fits neatly round a picture in Firefox is suddenly too big in IE? I have no idea... so view the site in Firefox, it's much better. In other news, Neighbours had some great abbreviation slang the other day - "garbo" meaning dustbin man. I love Neighbours.

September 18th 2006
Having twice been mentioned on talkSPORT, early this morning I made it onto Capital Gold, with my email asking for some Beatles. Actually, I asked specifically if I could have I've Just Seen A Face or While My Guitar Gently Weeps, but by the time he read me out, And I Love Her had just been played, so he missed that bit of the email out. Still, I'm pretty chuffed. I'm also chuffed that my second ever game of Shadows Over Camelot was a little more successful than the first - back then, playing alongside Dave, Christine, Laura and others, we failed to score a single sword against the game (yep, it's everyone versus the game) whereas tonight Ant, Emily, Rich and myself beat it hollow. Trounced it like the dog it is. Scrunched it into... well, I can't think of any ending for that, so g'night.

I'm not a Catholic, and I don't really have any strong feelings about the Pope, but I'd like to mention his recent comments about Islam, and their aftermath. Leaving aside the entirely predictable fact that some Muslims responded to claims that they're violent by shooting someone dead, I think the most worrying thing is the Pope's response. He said (and I paraphrase) that he didn't mean to cause offence, and that he wanted respect and dialogue between the two religions. A similar comment was made by someone in a letter to the Times, calling for 'a code of conduct between religions... which promotes tolerance and respect for others' views and beliefs'. I've said it before, and no doubt I'll say it again, but this is nonsense of the first order: there is no room for dialogue between Christians and Muslims that in any way calls into question the tenets of the Christian faith; we have a divine revelation from God that cannot be watered down. Also, there is no room for 'tolerance and respect' - imagine somebody was convinced that, by jumping off the roof, he could fly. You know that he can't. Should you let him go his own way, or should you stop him? Is it arrogant to suggest you know better than him? I think this is the same situation, except the stakes are higher.

September 19th 2006
Some chappy revealed last week that men are more intelligent than women. Big shock, there. This study was based on IQ tests, so no arguments there, one would assume... except that I've read articles in both the Times and the Sunday Times (hence there have probably been several others) where writers have said, in open mockery, that IQ tests are unreliable. Oh, and both these writers were women. Not that that means anything, of course. Hot on the heels of this, I assume, will be the news that women aren't, in fact, shorter than men - it's just the metric system, which favours males. Good gravy. In other news, Simon is filming for Countdown (starting) tomorrow, where hopefully he'll be told when it airs, so you can all see the best mathematician studying English at Oxford, on England's fifth best terrestial channel. Except, the fool's gonna go for six small numbers.

September 22nd 2006
Richard HammondPresumably you'll have heard about Richard Hammond, the Top Gear presenter who was airlifted to hospital after crashing at 280mph, while filming for the show. This story stared at me from the front of the Times, and takes its unfortunate place among those that have really had the power to affect me emotionally. I very much enjoy Top Gear, although I don't get to see it as much as I'd like, and each of the three presenters has something unique and fabulous to add to the mix. And Hammond just seems a fantastic guy. Obviously, I'm currently hoping and praying that he'll recover. I really don't know what more to say...

September 23rd 2006
Y'know what annoys me? Well, what annoys me right now. CD players, that's what. I get through a fair few of 'em, since it's only a matter of time before CDs stop playing reliably - yes, I know I can just play CDs on my laptop, but it's a hassle, particularly when the laptop's off. The last one I bought, I figured that the chain was going to stop. I ignored any trace of aesthetics, went a little more expensive than I might normally (but not much more, it has to be admitted) and decided on a sound-sounding (as it were) make: Philips. Oh yes, set your watch by Phillips, you can. Except the watch would probably stop at around 5.34pm. Then it would explode. Yes, this CD player lasted a shorter playing time than any other I've had; I bought it in the third term last year, and sometime a week or so ago, it started messing up. Maybe something happened to it in transit during the Summer, but it's another 20 or so down the drain.

I did get a CD player, which was only 9.99 and 'graded' - basically not pristine for one reason or another, and in this case it was pretty clear that the box was damaged, so hopefully the player's fine. It's got a 3 month guarantee, anyhow. In other news - literally - last Tuesday was the Panorama programme on football bungs etc. that promised to 'shake the world of football'. What a big disappointment! There was pretty much nothing to the programme, just a few totally unsubstantiated allegations that were vague at best (indeed, names of clubs and managers were bleeped out in some cases, presumably for legal reasons). Far from shaking the world of football, this was the weakest Panorama I've ever seen. How much did I indirectly pay for that?

Almoa WrightWhile I'm on the TV theme, I'm currently watching the fifth genuine winner of 1 million on Who Wants To Be A Millionaire?... and still on the TV theme, the 'he/she was in Friends' game isn't just for films - it can be played with television shows too, so let's take Scrubs for example. There have been a few candidates - Matthew Perry, most obviously - but it was only today that I discovered a regular, the lass who plays Nurse Roberts (Almoa Wright) was in TOWT Cop, telling Ross that she'll give him store credit 'to the amount of four dollars'. As ever, there's a picture to help you.

September 28th 2006
Coughs and sneezes spread diseases, or so they say. But I have more to worry about with regards to sneezing: how should I sneeze? For a long time, my sneezing was somewhat self-contained, so I basically went into convulsions, which confused (and in some cases scared) those who weren't used to it. In fact, Rob suggested that I might slip a disc. Taking this advice in hand, I switched to a gentle sneeze that I thought was fine, but I was then informed by Andy Giles that it was like a cat's sneeze - again, taking this on board, I decided to switch back to a regular, let-it-all-hang-out sneeze: however, in the process of doing this near the Chaplaincy, a total stranger who was walking past said "Bless you, eh? Wow!" in tones of such awe that I remembered why I'd toned down my sneezing all those years ago. I guess the only answer is to check with Mr. Sneeze... and he ain't even got arms.

After a few unproductive weeks of nobody much being around, the last few days have seen a great coming-together of students: those I have encountered (and had previously met) thus far include: Ant, Rich, Iain, Becks, McFly, Andy Giles, Lucy, Adam, B/ground Andy, Charissa, Chez, Layo, Sam, Kat, Jon, Tim, Mark, Jen, Emily, Elly, Adair, Roses (who'd forgotten ever meeting me and asked to be introduced. That felt good), Sinead, Hazel Lancefield, Steve, James Wright, James, Dom, Ruth, Jill (who also had clearly forgotten meeting me), Jill's friend (who had also forgotten meeting me, I expect, but I couldn't remember his name anyhow), Hazel, Ruth Carling, Drew... I think that's everyone. Apologies to the subsection of people whom I forgot to mention and who also read this diary. New students I've met and spoken to at length include Vivian and Daniel. We'll see what tomorrow brings.

what was I listening to?
Help! - The Beatles
what was I reading?
Mr. Sneeze - Roger Hargreaves
what was I watching?
Life Is Beautiful
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