Sunday, September 24, 2006


Bit guilty writing this post because Kristina is in the kitchen chopping veg for tonight's delicious meal ... whereas I've been sitting here on the net Googling for the Flaming Lips - a band we're going to see in concert in November.

Saw Memoirs of a Geisha on DVD today. It's one of those classic occasions where, of course, the book was much better than the film. The book is complex and about emotions as well as an amazing insight into the customs of the geisha, the film is really just a toe in the water ... but I understand it's visually fascinating which I miss out on being unvisioned as I am (trying to dodge cliches and make up my own PC terms today. OK, blind).

We're about to watch Derailed. I have no idea what it's about. But Derailed, and also Geisha, have audio description on them - hence they figured high on our choosing list. The Memoirs of a Geisha DVD confused us though because, instead of having the phrase 'audio description' on the box like every good logical DVD supplied should do ... they used the term 'audio commentary'. we almost didn't bother hiring it from Blockbuster until the fella behind the counter said we could bring it back if it didn't have AD. It did. Oh and BTW, the DVD playe player in the store was broken else we'd have got him to check it out.

Other notable interesting things of the week ... I got a webcam, so did my mum and dad. So, since Thursday, we've had a visual connection on the web. Must be nice for them to see their son; their son who hasn't bothered popping down to see them since Christmas.

Lastly ... got a good response about my insomnia post, innit. Nice one. Maybe others would be interested in this subject and maybe it's more of a disability thing than just a blind thing? Perhaps we should delve into it on Ouch. Thanks for being my testing ground - utterly unintentional though. Guess it is quite interesting.


Wednesday, September 20, 2006


I'm not sleeping lately. OK OK OK, you're gonna point at my last post about coffee and say something bland and logical like: "duh, stop drinking coffee".

But no. I am an insomniac. Or rather, I have sleep difficulties generally, even when not going thru a major coffee blitz. God I hate reading people's blogs when they start talking about this kind of thing, it's so damn dull. So, let me just furnish you with the stuff that interests me:

1: I'm blind. You need light to help set your internal body clock. I don't get it, hence I have a rampant body clock.
2: I read somewhere once that blind people are more likely to have a 30-hour body clock, not a 24-hour one.
3: Therapies exist involving melatonin

Firstly, I rather like the idea that I don't have a regular boring old standard 24-hour body clock. I run in a different timezone to everyone else. I think it's quite cool to not click in with the rest of society in this way.

Downside is that having a 30-hour body clock, if that's what I've got, means my sleeping is all over the place. Social pressures mean I have to conform to this 24-hour malarky that everyone else is so set on ... which further confuses my innards.

Melatonin is the chemical produced when in light, I think? I think it's what's missing from SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder) peple too. Does this mean I have constant Seasonal Affective Disorder because it's 'forever autumn' or 'forever mid winter' in my head? Is it this winter effect I'm feeling in my lower moments?

But mum says my body clock was shagged even before I lost my sight. So, whaddya say to that? Either a) my mum hates me and is just trying to piss me off by breaking my new unified theory of the world, or, b) she's right and I'm making up excuses.

Typical effing cripple aren't I.

But if anyone asks, I'll be saying "I have a 30-hour body clock" cos it sounds cooler. Now just have to wait for someone to ask me that most unlikely of questions "Damon, do you run on a regular 24-hour internal body clock, or what?"

Monday, September 18, 2006

Decaffeinated my arse

At the top of this blog - well today anyway - it says something about me being a Decaffeinated Londoner. I wrote that when I was on a minor health kick. It seems I'm on even more of a minor health kick at the moment, though.

Bought an exercise cycle recently. Broke it yesterday. At least it shows I'm using it though and it hasn't become a coathanger. Bloody pedal fell off. Scared of trying to fix it now. Took long enough to put together out of the box from Argos in the first place. Kristina can do it.

Back to the caffeine.

It's like I can't throw enough coffee down the back of my throat at the moment. It's like, if I weren't such a good boy, I'd be onto the harder stuff by now. I feel I need it at the moment. Lots of little things swimming around in my head, lots of bitty things at work - coffee is the glue, coffee keeps me sane and going.

I wrote a column on Friday. Have since binned that column. It was utter crap. I can only imagine I didn't drink enough coffee that day and my colleagues didn't leave their desks enough, saying: "I'm going downstairs. Is there anything anyone wants from the canteen or wherever?"

I was quite impressed that I sank two coffees before 10am today.

Coffee = life glue. It keeps you together. It hardens your arteries, supposedly, but god it's the stuff of life.

Have lost interest in alcohol lately. Anyone know why?

Saturday, September 16, 2006

They put Smarties on top

Cakes. When I was a kid. Little cup cakes. They put Smarties on top.

I hate smarties. There's an unsatisfyingly small amount of chocolate in them, there's too much sugar coating, they're shiny, they stick in your teeth, they're too sweet, they make me go sugar ballistic afterwards, they're the epitimy of shite ... even though the current media spin from them is about 'new healthier Smarties with all natural colourings' where blue Smarties had to die because they couldn't find a natural alternative for blue.

Party cakes with Smarties on must die, though. And exactly who likes Iced Gems? I cannot, for the life of me, work out what is in the least bit tasty or attractive about tiny weeny biscuits with big dollops of dry 'orid icing on them. They truly are abhorrent. Colourfully mouth-hurtingly sugary-sculpturingly abhorrent.

Looking forward to seeing the return of Jamie Oliver's School Dinners this Monday, Channel 4, 9pm.

Friday, September 15, 2006

I blame myself, really

Is it just me or do you get a severe sense of guilt and paranoia when stories like this appear:

bad environment story

If I read them at work, I get the distinct feeling that everyone is looking at me and blaming me for the melting of the polar ice caps.

OK. I've got a dishwasher. But this fella from Thames Water on LBC a few weeks ago said that, actually, if you've got a modern dishwasher, and you fill it full, it uses less water than manually washing your dishes in the kitchen sink.

I'm getting my environmental messages mixed up because, although it's part and parcel of the massive '4 years or you're fucked' environmental disaster we're all about to face e, the lack of water is down to global warming because of people using their dishwashers, flying to New York from London and leaving their computers on all the time so they can just dip in and consult google at a second's notice.

I'm sitting here at work after having spent half the day, on and off, trying to write my latest column which went a bit haywire but I think I'm taming it now. It's gone 7pm though and my cab firm has let me down badly. I should be enjoying my time off now, shouldn't I?


I've got tickets to see The Flaming Lips and you haven't so ner.

Tried to get tickets to see The Killers when they went on sale today but sadly the Ticketmaster website is inaccessible due to those captcha graphic things - type what you see in this graphic". I've got a good mind to sue the fuckers because, during ticket rushes, their websites are just inaccessible to some disabled people: blind or with motor function or cognitive stuff, as the time limits they put in place are clearly not achievable for many peple.

Is it going too far to say I'd like to see the head of Ticketmaster on a pole with blood and brain tissue flowing out of the bottom of it? Proffit greedy fucker.

I believe I now have to write 'these views are not those of the BBC' on my blog due to recent new workplace rules. No. Can't imagine Director General Mark Thompson standing up and endorsing the bit about brain tissue ... certainly good to clarify this though, I'm sure all readers were wondering if I were speaking for the organisation here.

Bless em though, I appreciate the basic idea behind the blog edict and they do pay my mortgage ... x x x

Thursday, September 14, 2006

9/11 outcome

What has been the outcome of all this 9/11 coverage on TV this week? Clearly the images and chatter were extremely seductive to me because I've purchased a ticket to New York, and will be flying there in February.

Bargain, kidz. Check out Travel Supermarket. The best cheapest 'scraper' website, as they call them.I got a ticket to New York for 170 quid, which includes all airport taxes etc. There's been a price war going on between Continental and Delta, it seems, or so Money Saving Expert told me at the end of last week. Great website! If you're in the UK, go there, sign up to its newsletter, tell all your friends.

Am I warped?

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

My 9/11 part 5

Funny ol' day yesterday, barely worth recording in some ways. A small list of small bad events that served to annoy and hinder rather than do any great harm. I still refer to it as my 9/11 though.

Lets run through it then:

* smashed head very hard on door on the way out in a bad act of malcoordination when bending down to pick up my mobile phone I dropped while rushing to get out of the house. Really hurt. Big glancing blow leaving me with a small bruise that somehow doesn't justify the pain and later effects.

* Had to take Liam to the vet to have his second in a series of tests to see what's up with him - liver we suspect. (liam = guide dog)

* At work, my computer failed to even boot up. I can't just move across to any other computer cos I have screenreader and Braille display hooked up to mine ... so sat there for almost two and a half hours while IT got their act together.

* Kristina called. She was on her way home in a cab. She'd stood on an object in the middle of her office floor and damaged her twice-broken ankle. A big twist. She was taking work home so she could 'put her foot up' while tapping on her laptop.

* At 2:15 or thereabouts I got a cab home so I could at least work on my home computer.

By this time I was feeling worse though. That bang on the head had rocked me quite a lot. So by about 5:30 I found myself lying on the sofa feeling really quite woozy and sick with it all. Mentioned it to my dad later who talked about concussion. Surely not? I think it probably just triggered off a migraine. I get those. Dreadful.

So there you go. That was my trivial 9/11 - well trivial, that is, if I haven't sustained long-term brain damage as a result of that bang.

I fear I've lost a fair bit of data on my work computer as it seems my hard disk died. At least I can attribute this to 9/11

And just one more thing to rub the ./11-ness of yesterday in ...

Kristina's sister gave birth to her secondborn, who, as yet, has no name. Actually she gave birth on September 10. Steph was really quite pleased about this because her firstborn (Isobel) celebrates her birthday on July 7 ... would've been a bit rough if her new little brother was a 9/11 baby. The terror twins? Bad omen averted.

Monday, September 11, 2006

9/11 five years on / back from Italy

Gosh, first time in ages I've posted to this blog. Have had a few concerned emails from people ... no reason to be concerned, though sometimes you do kinda ask yourself why you're bothering to write a blog.

Just got back off a rather nice week in Italy. Stayed at Kristina's parents converted farmhouse in th the middle of very rural Le Marche, in Italy ... about an hour's drive from Ancona airport.

Ancona is served by the dreaded RyanAir; an airline that disabled people shudder at when they hear its name. In the end though, we didn't ask for assistance (deliberately so as not to make ourselves known to them) and busked our way through the airport. We had no real problems. Stansted is a small airport with only one real direction you can go in ... thankfully.

Anyhoo. Very relaxing. Very very relaxing.

I note that it's 9/11 today. Five years on since that dreaded day in New York. 14 months since that day in July, London. 2 and a half years on since Madrid. And just a month since the unfolding 'bomb plot' for which people are still being charged bit by bit by the Met Police.

It was the dying days of the BBC's Disability Programmes Unit on Sep 11, 2001. We were all sitting round desperately trying to think up ideas for programmes with a disability theme that might get a commission by Jane Root - then controller of BBC TWO. Sadly she rather thought of us as the Work experience Unit, didn't like what we were doing, didn't like our new zeitgeisty ideas, and no commissions soon translated into no unit.

I was meeting with Ally Scott when plane number one hit the towers in Yew York. Nancy, then Asst Producer, shouted across that a plane had hit the tower. We were interested but assumed it was a low level accident; think the reports were saying it was a light aircraft at the time.

Then a few minutes later Nancy shouted across that a plane had hit the second tower. We stopped our meeting and rushed to the TV set.

Not knowing much about these things, I remember vaguely thinking that maybe the air traffic control computers had gone a bit wild and directed the planes incorrectly. Other more cynical sorts had already predicted the end of the world. I was confused because I'd been to New York a year earlier and, on my visit to the Empire State Building, had learnt about an aircraft crash into its side in the 1940s, and knew that no aircraft were allowed to fly over Manhattan since that day 60 years earlier. so I was a little confused at why this had happened at all.

Everyone on the ground floor of the BBC's White City building - including everyone in the Watchdog studio/office which was just down the corridor, were glued. No one was working. Sorry licence fee payers.

As the scenes unfolded, I remember sitting there in a state of terror. I know in hindsight that London wasn't effected, nor anywhere else in the world, but at the time our skies were being locked down too, all sorts of security measures were taking place, Government was said to be having an emergency meeting, and we were all wondering what the hell was going to happen next.

Was this just part of a localised attack on New York? Or was this a wider attack on the western world? News reporters were frantic. Little titbits were getting on air about missing aircraft all over the US and UK ... missing aircraft meant 'potential disaster'. Could London Docklands get the next hit? I thought the fabric of the world was falling to pieces for a few hours.

At around 4 or 5pm London time, we all began to realise that it was probably all over.

Just a few brief memories.