various excitements

Yesterday saw the start of the www.nickweeks.net domain !

At the moment, it’s only got as far as a token placeholder index page, and the directory for this blog. I’m planning to work on it gently over the coming weeks, getting to grips with some simple javascripts and stuff, and hope to take the site live in the middle of February (although probably on a skeleton basis). I’m also planning to start using some nickweeks.net mailboxes from the start of February – I’ve been getting increasingly worried by problems with the mail on my existing ISP (although, to be fair, a lot of these may be problems with Yahoo Groups sending things out with undue delays) – it seems to take anywhere between 2 minutes and four days for e-mails to arrive, depending on who they’re coming from. As from March, I should be able to reduce the package that I pay for from my ISP, which ought to pay for the nickweeks.net domain hosting on names.co.uk .

In further excitements, I have now reached agreement with my about-to-be-former employers: everything has now been signed. This is a great relief!

long time no blog !

It was a really difficult late autumn. Work stopped paying me at the end of August (OK, I’d had the six-months-on-full-pay, followed by six-months-on-half-pay, but I’d hoped for a “reasonable adjustment” to my circumstances). This made things pretty financially tight for a while, and I got extremely depressed as a result. For a time, it looked pretty grim, and I went into hermit mode … so no posting to this blog.

There was a breakthrough just before Christmas, when approval from the “second medical opinion” came through for early retirement on grounds of ill health. YAY! So I now have a letter confirming that I will be “terminated” on 9th March this year. Still stuff to sort out about pension entitlement, but at least it is progress. And – being in my notice period – I get paid again: in fact, payroll section very kindly did an emergency cheque which I picked up 2 days before Christmas, for three weeks pay, which meant that I was able to at least get Christmas pressies for people! And shortly after Christmas we reached an agreement in principle about settling my grievance with work – this is a “compromise agreement”, which is currently with solicitors undergoing some final revisions to the wording and hopefully should be signed and sealed next week. The sum involved is pretty minimal, but it should represent closure, and a chance to move on at last.

Damp dull kinda day today, and my back still troublesome from spending most of Tuesday in Ealing sorting out various issues. But the hyacinth that Sim gave me at Christmas is fully out and perfuming the kitchen, the forysthia that I brought in on New Year’s Day (as is my custom) is fully out (if not almost over, although there is another bunch in the cooler sitting room waiting to come on), and I’ve spent part of the afternoon watching the foxes in the garden. They have little fear, drinking from the fishpond within six feet of the window. I managed to get some video footage, but I’m not sure how much I was shaking – will post a pic here if I get round to transferring the footage to PC to edit.

All in all, I’m now feeling a lot more in control and back on my feet. Looking forward to a lot of changes in the coming year

gay day at London Zoo

Yesterday was London Zoo’s first ever “gay day”. There was an OUT event to it, which I went along to (the very first time I’ve been to one of their events). Met about a dozen guys, nearly all of whom I knew from their posts on the forum. I’m not at my best in the walk-and-talk group situation, but I did enjoy it and was glad I went. I walked back to the tube station with “Gelli” – a really interesting guy in, I guess, his forties, union rep, works in sexual health, ex-soldier … he’s someone whose posts I’ve often (by no means always) agreed with, and it was great to put a person to the disembodied voice represented by the posts.

A high spot of the day was an enthusiastic shout of “Nick!”. After a couple of seconds of blank non-recognition, I realised that it was Dev, a young Indian lad who I met on a course in April, wearing a rather fetching pale lavender dress. I think he must have been in heels as well, as he was taller than I remember. So we had a very quick chat and he asked for my phone number as he’d lost it. I still have the contact sheet from the course, so I e-mailed him last night, but a search for the ID on Yahoo UK came up blank, so it’s possible he’s no longer using it. If I don’t hear from him by the weekend, I’ll try to TXT him. It’s not that I in ANY way think of him as potential boyfriend material – quite the reverse! (Although he is quite cuddly). But he does slightly bring out the protective / parental side of me, and also is a really interesting guy with a deep interest in spiritual issues coming from his cultural background … I’d really like to get to know that side of him better.

Needless to say, by the time I got home after standing / walking for five hours my back was done for: flat on my back all Sun eve, and nearly all Monday (although i did wipe the kitchen worktops, the floor needs swept, and I haven’t hoovered for a week. UGH!)

another old friend

Met up with Mike Falconer last night, as he’s in London for PLASA. We’d exchanged various e-mails, and he told me he’s now vegetarian / Vegan – which is a real change from the enthusiastic carnivore that he was four or five years ago. Probably the effect of living in California, with an American wife. Anyway, he’s looking really good on it.

We met in Eatandtwoveg  in Marylebone High Street: not somewhere I’d been before, but I’ve heard good things about it and it is exclusively veggie/Vegan. Mike seemed fairly enthusiastic about the menu, anyway, and also about them selling champagne by the glass (of which he had quite a few). He’d brought me a book as a small gift – quite unexpected, and I was really touched. And the inscription ended “love, Mike”. Damn, I think I’m getting weepy ….


The first couple of minutes were a bit awkward “hi, how are you” stuff, but we soon settled down to catching up with each others lives, and ended the evening getting down to the really serious bonding stuff like the “Revenge of the Sith” and the last few “Dune” books. In the course of the evening he paid me several fabulous compliments, but I think the greatest was when he said that the one thing that would really tempt him to give up being a veggie for an evening would be one of my roast chicken! I think that something – probably marriage – has helped Mike be a bit freer about expressing some slightly emotional stuff.

I feel incredibly much happier now I’ve seen him again. It’s clear that we still have a great deal in common, and that there is a great deal of caring – indeed love – on both sides. I’ve known him for just on sixteen years now, as a one-time mentor, flat-mate, friend, … and it’s really good to feel that the influence we have had on each other has – on the whole – been positive. Although it was as well that we were not in touch while I was trying to work out all my problems at the end of last year and the start of this one, as I think I would have been a bring-down for him, and would not have faced up to things in the way I did!

a quick visit

Very quiet few days: not feeling up to doing much, although quite cheerful!

Mark rang the doorbell unexpectedly – in town for the weekend to do some work on his flat and get ready for prospective flatmates. He’d had a bit of a falling-out with his landlord, (who’d changed his mind about fixing shelves to walls), so Mark had come up to Wickes to get wood for building shelves. Only to find that he’d come out without cards or cash … and didn’t really want to go all the way back to get them So we had a quick chat, which gave him a chance to let off some steam, and I lent him £40 to get DIY bits. He’s looking well, and perpetually youthful.

visit from an old friend

Clare W. came to lunch today: it was really great to see her again. It’s around a year since we last met, when I walked over to the workshop when I was staying at my mothers. recent visits home have all been fairly short (mainly because I can’t carry much), and I just haven’t managed to see Clare at all.

I was not altogether at my best – Sat and Sun were thunderstorms – but it was very pleasant to sit and chat in the kitchen, and have a gentle stroll and stand in the garden during a brief sunny period. She’s given me a couple of mugs that she made:

As I’m definitely planning on being in Oxford for the weekend of 15th Oct (school 525th Gaudy), we’ve provisionally arranged that we’ll meet up for coffee at some point then, although details will have to wait until nearer the time. I’m not sure how many old schoolmates will be going this year (although AWK can’t make it), but I think it likely that we’ll meet up on the Fri eve somewhere. We may also do something on sat eve after the Gaudy, and possibly Sun am.

gas continued

Got up fairly late – by the time I’d had a coffee and called Transco to come and sort out the gas meter it was around mid-day. Supposed to have an engineer visit within four hours – which it just about was: he turned up about on the dot of 1600h.

Turns out that it wasn’t a run-out-of-credit thing: the rechargeable battery which powers the electronic display had run down.A quick replacement and I was good to go (and there was still nearly £2 on the meter, but I fed it the card anyway). Bit disappointing, the engineer didn’t do the usual “do you have any pilot lights on boilers or cookers” thing – in fact, he didn’t even check to see that cooker etc were turned off.

As a result of staying in for the engineer, I didn’t get in to town for a haircut – this is now getting urgent!

Managed to get an assortment of jeans washed for going away – and to have the heating on for a couple of hours, which was not altogether needed, but helped with the drying.

correspondence, friends

Spent the morning and early afternoon getting caught up on correspondence: cheque to MCS for the gaudy on 15th October, writing to Specsavers to cancel the Direct Debit arrangement for contact lenses (I seem to have 120 days worth in hand: as I only wear them two or three times a week, this will last for the best part of a year!), sick-note to work, and electoral registration. this last is now available on-line – hooray!

I had a further go at the Disability Living Allowance application form, as I hope to discuss it with Anne next week: she’s going to try to get the up-to-date list of points for it. Writing down the changes I’ve made in the way I live makes it all sound so much worse than it actually feels when I’m living it … until I started really thinking it through, I hadn’t realised just how much my day-to-day life has changed: simple things like always being within arm’s reach of a wall or furniture, in case I stumble. I guess they’ve pretty much become automatic by now!

I also sorted out my movements for the weekend; Tony is around, so I’m meeting him at 1005 on Saturday at Brundall station, and he’ll drop me off in Stalham at the boatyard to meet the others at around 1345 -1400 ish. It will be excellent to see him: as I didn’t go to the 525th anniversary dinner, and we didn’t meet up for a cricket game this year, I haven’t seen him since Christmas.

Also had a phone call from CW, who I haven’t seen for just over a year! I know it’s silly, as she only lives 100 yards from my Mum, but things are always so rushed when I go home (because I only stay one night, mainly because I can’t carry enough for any longer). She is coming up for a visit on Monday 5th September – which I’m really looking forward to. So that’s two of my oldest friends that I’ll be seeing within the next fortnight.

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Gas ran out or meter gave up midafternoon – bugger. I put £20 on the card and stuck it in, but the meter is still displaying a stubborn blank. No time to report it and hang about for an engineer as I was going out, so it will have to wait until tomorrow – shaved etc in water from kettle.

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I’d been due to meet Oli & Sean in Trafalgar Square at 1900h, but it was a damp day. Oli rang me mid-afternoon and we agreed to meet in Starbucks Leicester Square at 1830 instead, both arriving just about dead-on 1830. Oli was looking particularly well. Text from Sean saying he was running a little late: Oli texted him back saying where we were, and he joined us just after 1900h. After the usual discussion of options Sean proved keen to go to Wagammama, so we did. A very pleasant meal, seated in the low bit at the back, which was marginally less noisy than the main part … although I was still struggling to hear quite a lot of the time. However, it apparently didn’t show, and the lighting was good, which always helps.

As always, a very pleasant evening with these two guys – it’s a very good grouping. Oli stayed out later than normal … I walked up to Warren Street tube as my back need a break from 2 hours sitting, getting there around 2200h (Oli & Sean caught the tube from Tottenham Court Road).

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Home to a surprisingly warm flat, but of course no hot water for a bath. Feeling very good – rather stiff, but little pain. Maybe I’m finally over the problems of the past ten days … although going away, especially to go boating in damp conditions – may not be the wisest possible thing to do. Last year was OK, but the weather was a lot better. However, I’m determined to keep pushing myself, and not give way to doing nothing at all.

Jane & family

Jane & family arrived around 1545.on Sunday.

Although it had clouded over after lunch, the sun started showing through in the early evening – very pleasant time on the lawn. Theo got my old phone (Chloe had got a new one recently), and seemed very pleased with it. I lent him my SIM card so he could turn it on and check out all the features, after he’d originally tried Jane’s SIM which was not compatible. Supper around 1930: chicken, green salad (lettuce, watercress parsley), carrot sticks/radishes/olives, baked spuds etc. Melon to start. Kids retreated to watch the other Simpsons DVD, a pause of around an hour before stewed apricots for pud (kids had some leftover ice-cream that Mark had brought over last time).

Everyone (except me) went to bed around 2200h – I think they had not slept as well as usual on the couchettes. Fairly slow getting up as well – it was after 0900 before there were stirring noises – most unusual! Leisurely breakfast, and some discussion about possible bus routes to Euston (Jane won’t take the tube at the moment). However, finally decided that it was too much hassle with bulky luggage, so I booked a minicab for them for 1130h (extra cost £6 for an estate car).

A very drizzling day all day. Very unpleasant: ,much pain in both lower back and shoulders, so I took max painkillers, and had several dozes during the day. really did not do much at all! I’ve left the bedding, as Toby and Chloe are back on Fri, but must do a tidy round and put the sleeping bags away before hen.

Phone call mid-evening from Sim: they’re losing the caravan this weekend (earlier than expected), so it may work out better if I don’t go down til early Saturday. This suits me: I have a kind of idea that I may be asked to a meeting in Ealing on Fri, as its the last day before Steve Barton goes on leave for a week. And it would be good to see Toby and Chloe on Fri – even if only briefly. Possibly, I could see if Tony Hedge is going to be around, and catch a train to Acle to see him for lunch on sat before meeting Sim & Geoff for the boat thing.

Watched ‘Revenge of the Sith’ mid-evening: not really a good film, but better that ‘a New hope’ as Lukas has finally taken the point about the revolting Jar-Jar. However, Skywalker pretty much eye-candy, so it wasn’t a total loss. Relaxing bath, and bed around 0100h – back and shoulders still painful.

Sim & family

Sim & family arrived just before midnight. Phoebe in a state of great excitement: her (second) tortoise egg is apparently showing signs of imminent hatching, and she’s worried that Auntie Sue will not be able to cope with the demands of a newly-hatched tortie! I looked up train times and they’re going to catch the one a couple of hours earlier than planned, which meant leaving about 0830 on Sun. Phoebe obviously very tired, and went to bed quickly: the rest of us were up til around 2. Up again just after 0700h for breakfast and to see them off.

Also checked towels etc and put a couple of loads of washing in. I’m OK for bedding with 2 sets of visitors in a weekend, but it does slightly stretch the towel situation. May be I’ll ask for a couple more bath towels for Christmas.