Annual viral inconvenience

I didn’t end up parkrunning today, because I came down with a cold overnight. It’s exactly a year since I last had an inconveniently-timed cold (it was the 30th November last year that Geth and I headed to Electric Dreams), although thinking about it I suppose there’s no such thing as a conveniently-timed one.

Because of some flu-like dizzy symptoms, it was a tough day finishing my NaNoWriMo project. Nevertheless, I hit the 50k, making 2019 my sixth win out of eight attempts, and my fifth in a row! Going to take a few days off from creative writing in order to give my brain a bit of a break.

Hoping to feel a little better tomorrow, as I’m not looking forward to going out in the cold right now!

Cold medicine
Not an OOTD: this stash that Geth brought home is making me feel marginally more alive.

Today’s earworm playlist:

Duran Duran – ‘(I’m Looking For) Cracks In The Pavement’
Duran Duran – ‘My Antarctica’
Andy Taylor – ‘Bringin’ Me Down’
Duran Duran – ‘Falling Down’


So this morning I had roughly 8,000 words still to go on my NaNoWriMo project. I now have 4,000 to go, so am on track. Once I’m back from parkrun tomorrow (this is assuming Jesmond Dene is still on in the icy conditions… *update – just as I was writing this, Facebook informed me that Jesmond Dene is off, so I don’t know where I’ll be parkrunning tomorrow if anywhere!*), I’ll get stuck into it and get it finished.

Sunday’s going to be busy as well – I’ll be getting the Christmas decorations out, and also going to a Slimming World consultant opportunities event to see if it’s something I might be interested in doing – so it looks like it’ll be Monday before I can have that long-awaited post-NaNo gaming day on the sofa. Of course, I might be itching to get into the next project by then…

Hotel phone
Not an OOTD: as a retro phone fan, I do appreciate that hotel room phones always look as if they were installed several decades ago. The one in my London hotel room on Wednesday night was burnished in this fetching ‘late 20th century beige’.

Today’s earworm playlist:

Duran Duran – ‘Hungry Like The Wolf’
Cast of The Muppets – ‘Mahna Mahna’
Andy Taylor – ‘Love Or Liberation’
The Power Station – ‘Get It On’

Back from my tropical mini-break

London was lovely and warm. I was able to go out in just a thin jacket last night and everything! It reminded me of when I lived in Southampton and didn’t wear coats for four years solid. Back in the nippy north now, which feels a bit more right for late November.

The Andy Taylor gig was amazing – I’ll write a bit more about that next week when I’ve had time to think about it!

Things will be fairly nonstop for the next few days (especially in terms of finishing my NaNo – eek), but I’m currently eyeing up a possible day off on Monday, which will give me a chance to get organised again.

Train plug socket
Not an OOTD: I’m always fascinated by this notice they have next to the plug sockets on trains. You just know that it’s there because someone was ACTUALLY stupid enough to plug in a toaster or hairdryer at some point.

Today’s earworm playlist:

Duran Duran – ‘Ball Of Confusion’
Andy Taylor – ‘Tremblin”
Ramz – ‘Barking’
‘Korobeiniki’ (the Tetris theme music)
Andy Taylor – ‘Love Or Liberation’
Zack Laurence – ‘Force Field (The Crystal Maze Main Theme)’
Barbra Streisand – ‘Woman In Love’
Duran Duran – ‘Hungry Like The Wolf’

Phone Box Thursday: Church Road, Rainford

This is another phone box from Lancashire that Anne sent me. She tells me she used to use this one in the 1950s, so I think it’s nice that it’s still standing!

Red phone box
Red phone box, Church Road, Rainford, 18th July 2019.

(Coordinates 53°49’90.3″N, 2°78’52.4″W.)

This one seems to be quite well maintained. (This article mentions a phone box in Rainford that’s been turned into a defibrillator box, but I’m not sure if it’s the same one or not!)


For some reason, for five years in a row now, I’ve always ended up in London at some point during November. From 2015-2017 it was because Geth and I were attending the Beat:Cancer event; last year it was a flying trip through on the tube on our way to Electric Dreams; and this year it’s the Andy Taylor gig. It’s become a bit strange now!

Anyway, here I am again, and I’m about to head out to the gig. I’ll update properly again tomorrow.

Red phone box
Nice to be greeted by one of these on my way out of the tube station! To be logged properly in a few months’ time once I get through my collection.

Today’s earworm playlist:

Duran Duran – ‘Do You Believe In Shame?’
Andy Taylor – ‘I Might Lie’

Plus a couple of videogame soundtrack pieces I can’t find the names of right now!

Gig Review: Shakespear’s Sister at Sage Gateshead, 10th November 2019

The second gig of my weekend double-header at Sage Gateshead, following Adam Ant on the Saturday, was Shakespear’s Sister on the Sunday. Geth came with me on this occasion, as he’s probably more of a fan than I am – I like their stuff but am not hugely familiar with it. The November tour was in support of recent reunion album Ride Again, the band’s first new material since the early ’90s.

The support act was an artist called Delena, whose saccharine pop was a bit forgettable. I don’t usually have high standards for support acts, as I think it’s great that artists who are just starting out get the chance to go on big tours, but having enjoyed the Glam Skanks so much the previous evening, I was fairly disappointed this time round!


Shakespear’s Sister did a very varied set – a mixture of their new material and their old classics. The new stuff has a slight country and western tinge, which I’m not usually a fan of, but I didn’t mind on this occasion (though Geth wasn’t particularly impressed). It was the more well-known songs in the second half that really got the audience on their feet, though. Both Siobhan Fahey and Marcella Detroit were apparently struggling with colds, and so they sang exceptionally under the circumstances!

Shakespear's Sister

On the whole it was a great show with lots of good tunes, onstage banter and interesting visuals. Can’t ask for more.

Updated Band Aid baby bucket list progress: song artists 6/37 (16.2%); message artists 2/7 (28.6%); total artists 8/44 (18.2%).

Gig excitement!

Another full day of working on my various coding projects today, but I’ll be putting them aside until Thursday afternoon now, as I’m off to London tomorrow for a gig. I’ll be seeing Andy Taylor (formerly of Duran Duran) at the 100 Club. Very excited! I’m not dragging Geth down to this one, but it sounds like there’ll be a good crowd of Duran fans attending the gig, so I won’t be on my own.

Now that we’re into the last few days of November, life looks like it will be fairly busy until January. I’m hoping I can still get a good chunk of work done on my creative projects during December though. Fingers crossed.

World Of Final Fantasy: Maxima
Not an OOTD: Geth is still providing soothing background music by way of playing World Of Final Fantasy: Maxima.

Today’s earworm playlist:

Bittersweet Machines – ‘Break Your Love Apart’
Cast of Oliver! – ‘Consider Yourself’
Tony Deans – ‘Do They Know It’s Christmas?’*
Duran Duran – ‘Ball Of Confusion’
Shakespear’s Sister – ‘Stay’

*This is a cracking mellow piano version. Thoroughly recommended!

Gradually going from scrabbling about to scrabbling about less

So, a week ago, I posted about the fact that I was starting to relearn BBC BASIC after all these years (not that I ever really knew it in the first place, given that pretty much all I did on the BBC Micro as a little kid was bash the keys a bit after Dad had loaded the games disk). BBC BASIC is a good system for a beginner coder to play with, because it’s fairly simple, but I’m still finding that it throws up challenges!

I mentioned pulling out the old QBASIC files from my brief foray into coding in the mid to late ’90s, and finding this program that Dad had written in order to show me how to program menus:

Demo menu in QBASIC

To get an idea of how QBASIC differs from BBC BASIC, I ran the code through the QB2BBC converter:

QBASIC conversion to BBC BASIC result

However, this didn’t work when run in BBC BASIC for Windows, because it didn’t like the “choice$” definition. I got it to work by simplifying the code and removing “choice$”, though this of course meant that lowercase a-f no longer led to the correct responses. I also REMed out the OSCLI bit, because it didn’t understand that (and to be honest neither do I):

Code working in BBC4W

However, despite the fact that it worked in BBC BASIC for Windows, the BeebEm emulator (which emulates an original Model B Micro by default) wouldn’t play ball at all! There are quite a lot of differences between original BBC BASIC and BBC BASIC for Windows, and the main tutorial available is for the latter, so it took me a good week of tinkering and googling to work out that you can’t split up lines or IF sequences in original BBC BASIC (or if you can, I haven’t found out how yet!) – you have to put it all on one line. This meant that I had to truncate the program and get rid of the Mars bar option (plus a few other edits), because the line length is limited:

BBC BASIC code that also works in BeebEm

Difficult to read, I know! Here it is programmed into BeebEm, complete with runs for all responses:

Code in BeebEm
You fat pig!

Learning to code makes me feel like an idiot a lot of the time, but I usually get there in the end. Hopefully in a few weeks/months I will have a better grip on it!

(Dad also linked me to this relevant article posted by the Register today, which is a good read.)

Today has been a fairly productive one on the whole, because I also got a lot of work done on my NaNoWriMo project (a long piece of interactive fiction/text adventure game that I’m coding in Adventuron, which at this point is much more comfortable ground for me!).

More of the same tomorrow.

Today’s earworm playlist:

The Midnight – ‘Los Angeles’
Kendrick Lamar and Sza – ‘All The Stars’
Madonna – ‘Don’t Cry For Me Argentina’
Britney Spears – ‘Oops!… I Did It Again’

And a bonus track that Geth was humming earlier:

Heaven 17 – ‘We Don’t Need That Fascist Groove Thing’

Background inspiration

Geth has started playing a new videogame, which is always the best thing to happen when I’m in the middle of a creative project because (a) it keeps him quiet and (b) it provides the most productive background music for my working brain. The current game in question is World Of Final Fantasy: Maxima, which is doing an adequate job in the music department.

As such, I’ve been able to get a good chunk done on my NaNo today, despite a slow morning. Hoping to continue that pattern over the next few days.

BeebEm startup screen
Not an OOTD: and then there’s this particular obsession, which I’m also spending a lot of time learning at the moment…

Today’s earworm playlist:

I genuinely haven’t had anything in my own head today because we’ve had the aforementioned videogame on all day. However, here’s a bonus track that Geth was humming earlier:

All Saints – ‘Never Ever’

Bubbles and cards

It was mine and Geth’s seventh wedding anniversary today. I think we would probably have both liked to spend the whole day in the house chilling out companionably and listening, given that it was REALLY miserable outside! However, I am absolutely determined to hit that 100th parkrun on the 7th of December, so we dragged ourselves out of the house and headed to a very wet Jesmond Dene. It was not a fast run in the slightest, but that’s ninety-eight out of a hundred done. Celebratory cake in two weeks’ time!

We then spent the afternoon in town, as Geth was interviewing pathologist Dr Richard Shepherd in front of an audience for the Books On Tyne book fair. It was a really interesting discussion, and I’ll be reading Dr Shepherd’s book as a result. Lovely to see so many friends in the audience as well!

The evening was all about cards, pizza and nosecco – the last of which has been an absolute lifesaver since I got sober in January, because I think I would have felt really miserable without a celebratory fizzy option on special occasions.

Looking forward to a nice quiet day working on my NaNo tomorrow!

Anniversary selfie
Sort of an OOTD as you can just about see my Sunset Highway jumper: anniversary picture with Geth! Seven years married today.

Today’s earworm playlist:

USA For Africa – ‘We Are The World’
Chris Rea – ‘Driving Home For Christmas’
John Williams – ‘Leaving Hogwarts’
Hitoshi Sakimoto – ‘Opening Movie (FFXII Theme)’