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Wednesday, April 27

Oh my god, what a hectic day. This has been one long nightmare from the moment I had a weird dream that something was wrong and woke up to realise that it was - I was due into work in 10 seconds. I can't get into work in that short a timeframe. I rang in late - a new idea I invented. It's a bit like ringing in sick, only you then have to go in sheepishly a bit later than expected.

Arriving at 10, which is technically the start of flexi-time core hours and therefore not too late, I set about planning the work for the day with my team. We had a lot to achieve and we needed to keep the pressure up. We made a plan to last until 12pm - we actually beat this deadline. I nipped out to bank a cheque and buy some extra bits from Maplin to complete my grand creation. I wish I had been making a robot, or some sort of Frankenstein's-monster-esque thing. What I've actually made looks like a remote control with a pair of handle bars, a button, a light and a wire coming out of it. Not exactly sexy science. Anyway, I bought the parts and even stopped at Subway for a naughty luncheon-style sandwich.

The circuit diagram of the device - exciting!

Back at the office, things progressed into the urgent. We spent all afternoon in a planning meeting, followed by a meeting to plan some customer visits, followed by a meeting with my boss, who has set me some important challenges. I had to leave the meeting with the boss at 6.45pm as I had a ticket for the amateur production of Jesus Christ Superstar, which was playing at the Theatre Royal at 7pm. It's a short musical, at just over 2 hours, and I didn't see how it needed to start so early. It could have started at 8pm and still been chucking out at a reasonable hour.

I enjoyed the show, despite being distracted by the stress of the day and the tasks I had not yet managed to complete before the important meeting we had tomorrow. The choreography, costumes and performances were, on the whole excellent. The music was well performed, though I was disappointed at the lack of string section. I've seen this show done by amateurs 4 times now. I've seen it with good strings and no brass, good brass and no strings, but never both. It's probably excusable not to have the strings as synthesised strings sound ok, but the ending of the show, a string instrumental, has suffered from this in the past.

I would have to say that the guy playing Jesus wasn't quite up to the task in hand. Acting-wise he had it. Vocally, he just didn't have the top range. Shame. It didn't matter a great deal to the uninitiated. I've seen this show 4 times and have 4 different recordings of it. I really know this show "all too well" and so I'm quite likely to spot details such as which variants of the lyrics they're using and how their performances match others I've seen... oh, I have a 5th recording the form of the movie they made in the 70's - on VHS.

Overall, the production was good. Some of the choreography was well executed and stunning. Most of the music went off without a hitch, with only one song causing the classic-amateur-staggered-start. This song caused a similar problem to the first amateur group I saw do the show. Clearly it's a stumbling block for the cast... which is odd, as it has a reasonably obvious starting cue for them. Some of the stage fighting looked too intended not to hurt and some of the chorus performances were a little lacking in conviction, but the design of the choreography and production managed to minimise the impact of these classic errors. Good work. Really good work.

They also chose, thankfully, to do the sad curtain call. No music. No smiles. They just bowed and filed off. Nice. The closing picture with Mary downstage and Jesus and Judas upstage behind a gauze was very arty and very satisfying.

I liked the show. Good stuff too... seeing it was costing me time I needed for other things.

I'm afraid to say that I returned to the office to complete some stuff. I did a further hour's work in the office to get the work ready for tomorrow. I also spoke on the telephone to my girlfriend. Before I knew it, my hour's work had taken 2 - there was an hour of working among the 2 hours in the office - and I
really needed to get going. It was nearly midnight when I arrived at the petrol station/Tesco that opens until midnight. They open until their version of midnight, which is as soon as they can get home without a queue forming in a closed shop. Bastards. I wanted petrol and I wanted to see if I could sort out my headlight. No luck there. I had to go to the other petrol station. I also hadn't eaten, so I was hoping for food too.

I filled up at the other petrol station on the West Road and then went to see if they sell headlight bulbs. They do. I guessed it was the bulb that had blown. I checked the manual to see what bulb I needed and the garage had that bulb. Result. As a reward for the garage having petrol, bulb and sandwiches, I bought a celebratory air freshener for the car too. It's one of those cute little wooden ones which smells of vanilla.

I spent about 20 minutes in the forecourt trying to sort out my headlight. I reckoned it was better to do it in the well-lit forecourt, than in the near darkness of my street. I plugged in the new bulb and tried it out. Nothing. The other bulb worked. I was testing it without the keys in the ignition - just turning on the headlights until I got the beeping noise to warn me they were on. I started to wonder if it was a fuse that was to blame. A check in the handbook revealed that the two lamps are fused separately. After a lot of mucking around in the fusebox, I had no result. The fuses look blown when they're blown and all mine were intact. D'oh! I decided to give up. As I was driving away from the petrol station, thinking I'd spent £5 on a bulb I didn't need, I noticed that I was now driving with two headlights. Somehow my test had failed me. The new bulb was working great.

At home, a scooted into the garage to complete my masterpiece of a circuit. Most of the time was spent trying to fit everything into the box and complete the soldering of things like a switch and an audio lead - these are not the hard part. My task was made more difficult by my thick solder and over-hot soldering iron. However, I got it all to work, so why worry!? Just as the last screw was home in the unit and it was, supposedly, completely finished, it stopped working. I quickly reopened it, insulated a joint I hadn't felt the urge to insulate, and then it went back together and stayed working. I tested it with the MP3 recorder and it's apparently working.

I'll road test it this weekend.

Other tasks for the evening involved choosing which guitar to take. It's going to be the big one - I have all the spares for it and it's a known quantity for me. Plus, it will work acoustically if, for some reason, we're in a place where I need it to. The other one wouldn't be as good. I had to transfer my paraphenalia across to the big bag from the little one. I also had to remember to stick in a spare battery, since my tuner used my last one up.

Then I had to pack a rucksack for the weekend.

Then I finally got to relax.

This has been a really over-busy day and I'm looking forward to the bank holiday weekend. That's going to be a tough weekend in itself, but tough in a fun way.

All I need to do now is get some sleep and work out how to get into the office bright and early.


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