2009 — 28 August: Friday

There's a lovely bit of Scott Joplin ("These are the easy winners") ragtime as I start today's entry on its actual day (for a great change). The sun is shining, too, and it's a happy anniversary of my time with Christa, so here's a happy Christmas picture of her from 1977 as she was preparing the tree in Meisenheim in a corner of her parents' living room:

Christa in Meisenheim, 1977

Breakfast is ready, the cuppa is cooling, and there's much to be done today, starting down in Millbrook with the second annual car service. Heigh-ho.

Somewhat tyresome

I now have my second new tyre as there was apparently a screw in the tread of one of them. Still, it was nearly half what I paid at Kwik-Fit when I initially lost my puncture virginity, as it were. And that makes a grand total of three useful phone calls I've now received on my little mobile phone in the nearly two years since I bought it for Christa to use in the hospice. Worth every penny, huh? It's 12:24 and I'm well overdue my next cuppa. It's just started to rain, too. (A free carwash, in other words.)

Meanwhile, a chum on the other side of the planet has just pointed me here. I think not, somehow, but it's a natty little gadget. I'm on a crash course in financial slimming for the next few decades...

Is it just me...?

... or is BBC Radio 3 on a strange syllable-saving mission? Yesterday's startling example was during Breakfast Time and gave us "epitome" in three syllables. Today, the lunchtime concert apparently features the "Hebrides" ensemble in an unfamiliar two-syllable format. I know I'm a crusty old git, but there are surely some limits. Time to eat!

And a phone call from "Audio-T" to tell me the PMC loudspeakers are ready for collection (or delivery, in my case, thank goodness). Even the centre speaker. Of course, the custom cable will take until after the weekend, but I can now safely start upheaving the living room in readiness. Cool! Where's that Dyson?

There are times — and this is one of them — when one could wish that glugging down a tin of spinach would have the temporary effect it always did on Popeye. So far, the Castle Avons are 50% manoeuvered into their new (more back seat) position in the living room hierarchy. That is, one down, one to go. Phew!

Make that 100% manoeuvres completed, Mr Spock. And I'm pleased to report the new owner of the Onkyo rang a few minutes ago to tell me he's delighted with the "stonking" sound, though he's been having much the same trouble I did in understanding the Onkyo-esque (rhythmes with "grotesque") instructions describing how to assign various digital inputs to items of kit. And until you perform that assignment you will get not a squeak from the beast. He also still needs a "phono" level input (which is a bit of a shame as that is conspicuously absent) so he's now off to Richer Sounds in Bournemouth in search of the lost pre-pre-amp.

Meanwhile, shades of "Raiders of the Lost Ark", I've been excavating some of the dustier recesses of the garage and, in among various items from Junior's extreme youth (that neither he nor I will ever need but that Christa could obviously not bear to part with) I've actually unearthed some very good quality speaker cable. Probably enough to tide me over until the Real Thing turns up, in fact. I truly daren't contemplate just how much I've spent on this particular hobby over the last forty years. (I bought my first halfway decent set of headphones in 1969 to shut out the drunken racket from my fellow apprentices during evenings in the Astwick Manor "hostel" so I could listen to the divine Humph.)

25 minutes, and counting...

My young speaker installer is drinking coffee (at "Audio-T") to steel himself for the upcoming task. Since I've done all the hard work, it should just be a simple matter of connecting up front left, front right, and centre speakers in the gaps I've created for them. I've taken down all the cable connections to the rear pair; they'll have to wait while I figure out a much neater way of wiring them in than the Heath Robinson system I used (and Christa, bless her, never once complained about) until today. Oddly, now that I'm alone in the house, I find I take a somewhat greater interest in trying to keep it neat, tidy, and not smelling too bad! Christa would be amazed. Iris will smile if she reads this.

Wow! Suppose I should turn it down before my ears bleed too much. It's 19:19, so I'd better eat something, too, I guess. The rear channels are also up and running courtesy of some borrowed cable. Time to find out how to fine-tune things...

After a once-in-a-lifetime supper I shall call "sardine à la David" (consisting of tinned sardine in olive oil and lemon juice heated gently and macerated onto toasted fruit loaf) I quickly established the level adjustments needed for a "flat" response to white noise around the surround sound space. I even discovered how to tweak the subwoofer which, given the lack of any instructions, was surprisingly easy. Now, finally, I can watch what Christa and I would refer to as a "flim". If I can find one.

Meanwhile, Big Bro is somehow suggesting it's my fault that he, too, had a flat tyre today, some 12,000 miles away. Pah!