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November 1st 2007
Today: Church that's following the leader (5)
Last time: Songwriter stops warden from being wild, according to Spooner (5,6)
Answer: James Taylor
Wow. Who else could write an entry about the best moments in their life, and turn it into such a melancholic dirge? I'm sorry - but you'll be pleased to know that, praise the Lord, I'm feeling a lot better today. Praise the Lord indeed, for He is great and His love is truly something to behold. My goodness... or, rather, His goodness. Anyways, I'm going to ignore my list of things to write about again, but this time because I'm going to bed very soon. Just thought I'd say a happy birthday to the man behind the films, Andy Prichard - and a belated happy birthday to one of the few guys taller than him (did I make a height reference last year too? Sorry), Tom Palmer. You'll have to wait till tomorrow for the next birthday greeting...

November 4th 2007
Today: James Lee perhaps hides supporter of lines (7)
Last time: Church that's following the leader (5)
Answer: chief
I keep forgetting to update the date on this - sorry! Definitely November 4th (and thus Jimmy Lee's birthday) today, although not by much. 13 minutes, as I write. I keep mentioning my list of things to write about, so I figure I'll rattle through a few of them before I go to bed...
1. This is great. Especially towards the end.
2. Liam Gallagher was recently voted the tenth funniest person ever. This is ludicrous. The man is probably not the tenth funniest person in his own family.
3. I am now Facebook friends with Peter Biddlecombe, who won the Times Crossword championship this year. No relation to Annie, as far as I am aware.
4. It was nice to see Joleon Lescott playing for England, since he came through the ranks at Wolves. OK, he may have been the worst player in the team, but it makes me feel proud.
5. When Alistair Darling made his pre-budget speech, he was accused by almost everyone of having stolen Tory policies - excuse me for, yet again, being naive in politics, but if the Tories think they are good ideas, surely they should be happy that Labour are adopting them? After all, if Labour went in a different direction, Messrs Cameron and Osborne would criticise them. It makes no sense. Oh, and people kept using the words 'wearing Tory clothes' like it was a commonly accepted phrase - why? Did I miss something?
6. I'm thinking of changing the format of this page, since I no longer maintain SCB. I also felt this would be a good opportunity to get the style more in line with the content... more on this later, possibly.
7. This isn't actually on the list, but let's go wild. I got the new Eagles album yesterday, and it's not too bad so far - most of the tracks sound unmistakably like the Eagles, which can't be a bad thing, as I rate them as one of the best bands ever. Some people say they're soulless - all I know is that they made darn good songs.

November 5th 2007
Today: 5th of November with one's hot potato? What a muddle (4-4)
Last time: James Lee perhaps hides supporter of lines (7)
Answer: sleeper
Just a quick one tonight, as I'm tired. I've been working with Martin for too long. Anyways, I was reading Ant's blog, as I do (and his StatCounter will tell you just how often) and it was about writing 'lol', 'rofl' etc in msn messages and texts - specifically, how you shouldn't write it unless it's true. And, as is my normal practice [check this - Ed] I agree with him. 'lol' is detrimental to jokes. It means nothing other than the responder can't think of an original or humorous response, or is busy doing something else and doesn't want to appear rude by letting the conversation drop. He also wrote, today; "I don't think annually burning [Guy Fawkes'] effigy on a fire of garden rubbish is an especially enlightened response". A mistake, surely?

November 17th 2007
Today: Managed to fire rifle (7)
Last time: 5th of November with one's hot potato? What a muddle (4-4)
Answer: mish-mash
Has it really been that long since I last posted here? Hello and welcome to the diary that my own mother has described as a "dead loss". I suppose you'll be wanting to know how the CU house party weekend went, won't you? Well, it was absolutely fantastic thank you very much, so let me run you through it. On Thursday afternoon after work I headed to Cov on the train, which didn't pan out too badly - apart, of course, from the fact that there was a train wedged in front of ours, and we had to take a 50 minute detour around little villages... anyways, I got into sweet home Coventry in the end, and made my way to John's place to scrounge food off students once more, which was grand. Then, since it was a Thursday night (whatever happened to Monday?) I went with John to 5.20 (whatever happened to 10.25?) and we did a bit on Daniel, which was also grand, even if Eleanor was very mean and cruel to me. After 5.20 I headed over to Tom's place (y'know, Tom knows absolutely nothing about where he lives - his idea of a landmark was a parked lorry. Which had driven round the corner, rendering his directions erroneous). We watched a bit of House, and I slept well... on Friday I headed to campus to catch up with Steve (left my glasses at Tom's, though), and ran into Guy and Jez... mooched around campus for a bit, saw Ant - who pretended to need a lift from the station - until it was time to leave house party. The minibus was a bit rockin', although exceptionally squashed due to the bags and musical equipment on board, and when we arrived - earlier than the majority - Ant & I met up with Hazel to pick up stacks of food. I'm starting to tire of writing everything in such detail, so I'll rush through a bit now... the kitchen team comprised myself, Ant, Hazel, Ruth, Drew, Jason, James, Matt, Julia and Layo, and I spent most of the time operating the large dishwasher or carrying out easy food-related tasks. At one point I was given some garlic, but I hadn't the first clue what to do with it, so I switched jobs. All the kitchen work meant we didn't really get the chance to go to the talks and seminars, but we did get to go to prayer & praise, which included one of my all-time most immense prayer times - God was moving in that place. After the traditional group photo, we clambered onto coaches, and got off on campus, where Ant and I headed to Rob's. We had another Ricky & The Red Stripes quiz night - won some deodorant, in fact - as well as playing some scrabble. On Monday I went to an Applied Analysis lecture with Rob, picked up my glasses from Tom, had lunch with Guy, ate with Tim and Rob, and eventually strolled back to the train station. I'm sure I've missed out loads of stuff, but I hope you've got the gist. Oh, a note on today's crossword clue - I nabbed it from the Times, but it's a bit of an old chestnut... essentially, I think it's probably the best example of words having different meanings in the wordplay and in the surface of a clue. Good night for now, folks.

November 22nd 2007
Today: Worried about new stake (4)
Last time: Managed to fire rifle (7)
Answer: ransack
First of all, a retraction. In my last entry I callously quoted my mother as saying that this diary was a dead loss - she has emphasised to me that she only meant to suggest that it could be updated a little more frequently. I apologise - it would be horrendous to think that the wording of my entries could mislead my readership in any way. In other news, it turns out that Princess Diana was in fact murdered on the orders of Paula Radcliffe, who wanted James Hewitt for herself. Anyways, the other day I was watching the Simpsons episode where Krusty becomes a highly popular comedian by 'telling it like it is' - essentially, Matt Groening was none-too-subtley mocking the trend for modern comedians' observational comedy. But buffalo to him, says I, cos I'm gonna give it a whirl. You know when you're stirring your tea with the handle of a metal knife, because you haven't got a teaspoon immediately to hand, and you leave the knife in with the teabag. Then you take out the knife to spread margarine (and peanut butter) on some toast, but the knife handle is just too hot to hold. This happens, right? This is funny because it's true? Let me give you another shot. When you see the a newspaper headline about a girl who's suspected of murdering another girl, and there's a picture of an extremely attractive girl underneath, you hope like hell that it's the victim, not the suspect. Because fancying a murderer is not cool. OK, that wasn't particularly funny cos it's true, was it? But it happened to me the other day and I had to get it off my chest. This would probably be a good time to fill you in on my three-day training course in Reigate, or last weekend when Ben dropped by, or even my new DVD rack. With free CD rack. But right now, I don't think you've got a very high opinion of me at the moment. So I'll head off. After all, I've got a sketch to be writing.

November 25th 2007
Today: Mum can start to snore in Morning Prayer (6)
Last time: Worried about new stake (4)
Answer: ante
Can a crossword clue constitute libel? Let's hope not. Though if that were the case, you could fill the crossword with dubious looking clues like "Des O'Connor breaks and enters on Sunday nights, honest (7)" and pretend that the answer's 'hopeful' or something - what judge isn't going to pretend he gets the clue, and let the crossword editor get on with it? There's your loophole, Ian Hislop - although anyone who's seen the Private Eye crossword will note that the setter is keener on obscene surfaces than on libellous comment. In other news, Simon came to stay this weekend, which was excellent - as well as wandering round the Downs (and beyond, getting lost and having to look in a map in Spar), going to the city centre, watching Scrubs and so forth, we exchanged birthday presents a little late. I got Simon Amazing Grace (great film - watch it and try not to cry), Bill Bryson's biography of Shakespeare and a 50p picture of Eeyore and Piglet. I think he liked this latter the best - like when Becky preferred the box I bought to hold her DVD to the DVD itself. Which I had suspected she would. Anyways, in the opposite direction Simon gave me a Marx & Lennon book (Groucho, but Simon thought it was Karl) and a great Mr. Funny T-Shirt, on which I promptly spilled custard (did I get custody? Very. To paraphrase a rather better contextual joke from Fry and Laurie). On the Saturday Ma & Pa also dropped by, so it was a nice Thomas family reunion, and we did a run-through of the sketch I'd put together for West Chinnock Christmas Cracker. As is usually the case, I thought the script was pretty poor, but the others seemed to think it only needed a few alterations to make it passable, so alter it we did, and had a couple of practices. Might go down a storm. Which doesn't sound like it should be a good thing... idiomatic indeed. In other news... good night. I might write a bit about Masters degrees and the concept of trust next time.

November 26th 2007
Today: Father, saint or vicar? (6)
Last time: Mum can start to snore in Morning Prayer (6)
Answer: Matins
During the weekend I spent at Warwick Uni earlier this month, there was a thought that ran through my mind every now and again - what would it be like if had stayed on to do that Masters? For those of you not in the know, I dropped out of the four year course fairly early on, happy to do a BSc rather than MMath, which I maintain sounds like it's been downloaded. If I were still at Warwick, I'd be seeing a lot of Rob, Tom and Steve - the folk I spent a fair bit of time with during that weekend, in fact - which would have been awesome, but it would still feel extraordinarily strange to be there when almost everyone else had left. And the academic side of things? Well, I'm confident I could have done it, and got a half-decent grade as well - although I always feel my elongated revision period increased my grade by 10-15% - but is that really enough to sway the decision? I'm confident I could get at least a 2:1 in an English degree, but have never felt even slightly tempted to give it a try. I'm comfortable that I made the right decision in dropping down to the BSc, but I do have to stifle pangs of jealousy when I talk to people with Masters, and I know I'm better than them at what I studied... another really terrible reason for doing a masters. I think what it really comes down to is how much I love maths, and while I do love maths, I'm not as passionate about it - nor, in fact, as good - as people I've seen who have done the four year course at Warwick. In fact, in the kitchen at house party were Drew, Ruth and Hazel, all of whom are quite definitely better mathematicians than me... and yet curiously I didn't feel jealous at all. It's a curious life. I guess the only reason I would feel jealousy in these kinds of situation is the desire to be extraordinary, which only occasionally rears its head - when I was a kid, I assumed that I would grow up to be rich and famous, as I knew I was a clever lad. It was not an aspiration of mine, merely what I expected to happen... these days, I aspire for nothing more nor less than heightened mediocrity: I have been saved by Christ choosing me, and that's enough distinction for me. Actually, I was thinking about extraordinary people, and realised that - despite many people being extraordinary to me - I could only really think of one person I knew who was truly extraordinary. And I feel honoured to call them a friend. When I write stuff like that, most people just think "Oh, Colin being enigmatic. How sweet" and move on - Rob, on the other hand, will quite frequently email me to find out what I was on about, and just as frequently I will respond tongue-in-cheek. So, for your benefit Rob, it's Sarah. Now, a while ago I promised to write 'brilliantly and savagely' about cynicism, particularly with reference to big business - but I've decided to revert to my usual style instead. In recent weeks, I've been to a couple of expensively-organised internal AXA events, in which they've been hammering home the importance of our customers, and that in everything we do we should be caring, reliable and competent. To emphasise the point in 'teaser' posters, they showed various members of the public, voicing their various displeasures, above the caption "They're going to have to trust you." The thing is, people hold the view that big businesses are soulless things, and the CEOs are heartless men only interested in the bottom line - Hollywood's view is particularly extreme. Why is it, I have to ask, that when a large company like AXA tries to make a difference (Corporate Social Responsibility, they calls it) they are viewed with cynicism? "They don't really care - it's just a good PR stunt" is the opinion of the man on the street, as if businessmen are somehow inhuman. Yes, OK, capitalism awards the ruthless by its very nature, but it is exceedingly unfair that Joe Public sees financial success and empathy as distinct entities. I wouldn't (yet) say that I'm proud to say I work for AXA, but I'm proud to say that AXA cares. Because AXA is just a lot of me.

what was I listening to?
Long Road Out of Eden - Eagles
what was I reading?
Marx and Lennon: The Parallel Sayings - Joey Green
what was I watching?
Amazing Grace
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