Week from Monday 4th June 2018

It's time for the CriTéRiuM du DAuphiNé. I'm really hoping for a more exciting and meaningful cycling experience than the GIRO D'ITALIA turned out to be. Watching the 'HIGHLIGHTS' will be my BREAKFAST ROUTINE this week - it's being broadcast late at night, because ITV4 have got the rights to the live TENNIS and that's more important. This scheduling also means that, once again, I have to avoid any SPOILERS, during the day on yer soshul meejur.

As usual, the TV coverage tends to be "ALL ABOUT SKY", because Rupert owns the box brownies. TREK-SEGAFREDO's very own MATTHIAS BRÄNDLE finished in a creditable sixth place in this 'PROLOGUE' TT, only a few seconds behind the leader. But you wouldn't have known that until the results were posted on screen, because he was never actually on camera. We also have two other riders (FABIO FELLINE and TSGABU GRMAY) who finished ahead of GARAINT THOMAS, but you'd think from the commentary that it is he who is the most important man on the road (He WAS actually 'ON' the road at one point! Cue a pointing Nelson Muntz, "HA HA!")
At least the INTERNET is back to normal this morning. No idea what was going on there yesterday. I uninstalled FIREFOX and reinstalled it from scratch, so that now I am back on the STABLE releases rather than getting all the BETA updates. It doesn't do any harm to give your browser a bit of an enema now and again! I was able to listen to my regular Monday morning PODCAST without a glitch. So that's alright then. This morning, I have to do some paperwork to submit to the NHS, before setting off to GOZZY to pay bills...
In yesterday's/this breakfast time's FIRST STAGE proper at the CriTéRiuM du DAuphiNé, there were a couple of nasty looking shunts. Trekman KIEL REIJNEN ended up going to bed without some of his skin, but luckily nothing was broken. Portuguese champion RÚBEN GUERREIRO limped home in very last place, accompanied by the clean-up truck. I'm not entirely sure what caused that to happen, because the TV cameras were pointing at something else at the time of the incident. No proper GC time gaps have opened up yet at this stage in the game. GIANLUCA BRAMBILLA's eleventh place total is the same as that of the race 'leaders', who are only 'leaders' on account of having accumulated a handful of bonus points. Indeed, the first sixty or so people on the table are all within a minute.

I was just wondering, now that we have squads of seven instead of nine, how many have to finish together in the TEAM TIME TRIAL? How does the "(N+1)-th RIDER" convention work nowadays? One of the other teams in this race is already down to five men, and TREK-SEGAFREDO have come *THIS* close to ending up the same...
DREAM DIARY... An electric gridling improv with Shelfy and the Human Nail, involving some guitar processing racket and a misbehaving theremin... As is usual with these kinds of 'musical' dreams, I remember more about the 'process' involved and less about the results...
Second stage/Day Three of the CriTéRiuM du DAuphiNé and, after another televised hour of relentless 'bigging up' of Team Sky (at the expense of just about everyone else on the race - FAKE NEWS!), Gary Whatsisface was heard to ask rhetorically "Are we concentrating too much on those guys...?". YES, OF COURSE YOU BLOODY ARE! It's for this reason, at this stage of many a cycling race, that I generally find myself cheering for some OTHER team riding on the "PLEASE ANYONE BUT @#&%$£% SKY!" ticket. On this occasion, it has been the Aussie team MITCHELTON-SCOTT, who, by the way, were the REAL stars of the GIRO D'ITALIA. They have now got themselves the coveted 'LAST MEN OUT' slot in tomorrow's TEAM TIME TRIAL and are also in a strong GC position, following DARYL IMPEY's acquisition of the yellow jersey after a two-day sprinting campaign. The TREK-SEGAFREDO boys have had reasonable results in these sprints, with TOMS SKUJINS, FABIO FELLINE and TSGABU GRMAY usually being in the mix somewhere... but again, you wouldn't know that until you got to look at the results tables afterwards! The BIG news, as far as the telly is concerned, is that another Sky rider fell over.
I've had a sudden creative urge... I had a fairly mad electronic piece (Working title: "BLUE TEETER") that I did a couple of Sunday afternoons ago. I'd posted it on m'YouTube (along with another variation on "THE TRAIN VIDEO"), but I always felt IT NEEDED SOMETHING ELSE. Then I came across an old field recording of some unaccompanied vocals from Central Asia ("BEFORE THE REVOLUTION: THE 1909 RECORDING EXPEDITION IN THE CAUCUSUS BY THE GRAMOPHONE COMPANY", British Library Sound Archive) and I thought "I WONDER IF...?". For the vocals to fit the 'tune', I had to pitch-shift 'em down a couple of semitones. I then tried stretching the audio by about 10%, so I'd effectively slowed the whole thing down. I repeated some sections and cut out some of the 'really out there' bits of singing that didn't quite work. Et voila! or whatever it is they say in the mountains. It's very spooky, but that was exactly the SPRINKLE OF FAIRYDUST that the piece needed. I've put it on my Soundcloud (Note to self: must clear up some more space...)
As expected, the TEAM TIME TRIAL opened up the time gaps in the CriTéRiuM du DAuphiNé and left The Team That Should Not be Named at an advantage. MITCHELTON-SCOTT didn't do as well as was hoped. But have the telly people got something personal against TREK-SEGAFREDO? Are they under instructions to not even acknowledge the fact that they are in the race? The cameras were pointed at the chaps as they finished the stage. With a pretty decent time too, which stood for a while. Not bad for a team that doesn't contain any TT specialists! But other than that they only existed in caption form. Meanwhile lesser teams (alright then, French ones!) were lovingly scrutinized in full. When running down the rankings in the team competition, the commentator missed them out entirely, even though their name was on the screen. I don't want to cry 'CONSPIRACY THEORY', but...

"THIS MORNING'S" big mountain stage in the CriTéRiuM du DAuphiNé confirmed that TREK-SEGAFREDO must be employing some exciting new sort of stealth technology or cloaking device or summat, that makes them invisible to television... because they are clearly not considered worthy of being mentioned anymore. GIANLUCA BRAMBILLA finished in the peleton AHEAD of the two Team Sky riders who have held the Maillot Jaune... but he was missed off the TV results table altogether. Once again, I find myself watching one race on TV and then going online to find out the REAL results. I'm beginning to wonder why I even bother watching televised cycling at all, the coverage being so biased (I return you to the comments I made earlier about TREK-SEGAFREDO only winning races when I DON'T get to see it on telly). It's at that stage in the game (post-TTT, just three mountain stages) when the GC race looks like a foregone conclusion and all the thrill has been sucked out of it. A bit like the final weekend of the GIRO. But Saturday's stage looks like it'll be all about the POLKA-DOTS...

Actually, the commentators were obliged to mention TREK-SEGAFREDO during Saturday's (or Sunday morning's if you're me) mountain climbing expedition at the CriTéRiuM du DAuphiNé, because TSGABU GEBREMARYAAM GRMAY was there in a five-man breakaway in the early part of the race. The race is indeed still on for the KING OF THE MOUNTAINS spotty jersey, and it's between the ASTANA pair of DARIO CATALDO (who won a stage a few days ago) and PELLO BILBAO (who won today's), with WARREN BARGUIL now a good few points behind, but still making a valiant effort. Meanwhile GC, bla bla bla, Sky, bla bla bla, British hopes... WHO EVEN CARES ANYMORE...?

At the end of the day week, TSGABU GEBREMARYAAM GRMAY (Don't you just love having to type that name?!?) was the highest placed Trekman in General Classification (17th) AND in the King Of The Mountains (25th), while MATTHIAS BRÄNDLE and TOMS SKUJINS didn't do TOO shamefully in the Points competition...

Week from Monday 11th June 2018

I've got mad amounts of typesetting-cum-DTP to do this morning ("GOD ON A PUSHBIKE"), so the office is silent. I did find that FRIPP and/or ENO proved useful background non-distraction yesterday, but today even THAT is too much of a hindrance to concentration...

See how little I have to write about in my diary when there isn't a major sports event on the telly...? The TOUR DE SUISSE is ongoing this week, but I have to follow it in text'n'tweet form only. By all accounts (mainly their own) the TREK-SEGAFREDO team (featuring the likes of JOHN DEGENKOLB, BAUKE MOLLEMA and JASPER STUYVEN) are doing quite nicely in this one. What did I tell you about them only achieving results when I don't get to watch?

SILLY OLD HECTOR... There's a proper thunderstorm a-brewin'. My famous BAROMETRIC HEAD is telling me so.

Amongst the archive BBC recordings that were dug out for the GIDEON COE programme last Wednesday (on that Six Music Lark) was the third PEEL SESSION by angstmeister PETER HAMMILL, originally broadcast in 1974. Cathartic stuff it is too, just raw vocals and piano:- "No More The Sub-Mariner", "The Emperor In His War-Room" and "Faint Heart And The Sermon" (They missed that last one out, but I listened to it on the YouChoobs). Did I enjoy it? I don't think that 'ENJOY' is ever the right verb to employ when discussing all things VanDerHammilly, but it's a powerful experience... I've just added all three tunes to the latest volume of "HOT TICKLES". I have all(?) the VAN DER GRAAF GENERATOR beeb sessions on an excellent 2CD set, but I must check out some of the other SOLO sessions that Hammill recorded (consults the invaluable reference tome "THE PEEL SESSIONS" by Ken Garner... and I see there were five of them in total).

Week from Monday 18th June 2018

I spent a goodly part of my #GivingAShift this week throwing things away! Very therapeutic! A huge box of magazine coverdisks marked "NOT FOR RESALE" had to be recycled... separating the CDs and the paper inserts into separate bins, and retaining the best of the emptied jewel cases as 'spares'... I then had the interesting challenge of trying to online-value some books that were in a language not our own, a couple of rare(?) volumes of French poetry. I do seem to gravitate towards the 'weird' stuff in this job!

"CAN YOUR VINYL DO THAT?"... In anticipation of the forthcoming "Lost Album", I've been having a bit of a JOHN COLTRANE craze this weekend. Mostly from the mellower end of his repertoire, but still. I particularly found myself listening to "MY FAVORITE THINGS" rather a lot. I discovered that my (secondhand) CD of the album had GONE BAD (some annoying skippin'n'poppin' towards the end of its shortish duration). Close examination revealed that there was a surface dent that was a little too deep for the laser. So I ripped the data into Audacity, listened again, monitored it in real time for any audible faults, and burned a replacement copy. And then played it yet again to make sure all was well! Luckily it is a FAVO(U)RITE, so I didn't mind too much that I had heard the whole thing three times in quick succession!

Week from Monday 25th June 2018

Another nice thing from the MOONJUNE concern, via that BANDCAMP they have now... "THE SOUND OF THE EARTH" features the drummer XAVI REIJA convening a rather good session with TONY LEVIN, MARKUS REUTER and the guitarist DUSAN JEVTOVIC. It deserves to be filed alongside Moonjune's previous 'La Casa Murada' improv recordings such as "THE STONE HOUSE". Apart from one momentary lapse of judgement - there emerges a chord sequence so 'obvious' it fails to avoid sounding like "Hotel California" or "Freebird" - the album is an deeply intense jam session from start to finish. And 'jam session' really is the best way to describe it. It's not really JAZZ, but (like the best 'kosmische musik') it uses the vocabulary of ROCK as the jumping-off point for some heady, organic improv, thankfully without getting too weedly-weedly-shreddy in the process! In fact, a bit like the sort of thing that STICK MEN themselves are known to conjure up on a good night!

We are now having a proper SUMMER, and unlike some of the 'seasons' we've had lately, it's appearing on the correct pages of the calendar for once. Most of the populace has concerned itself with the ASSOCIATION KICK-A-BALL TOURNAMENT, so considering how many useless channels I have at my disposal, there is OFFICIALLY BUGGER-ALL on the telly to stay in for. A lot of the shows that I habitually 'SAVE FOR THE WEEKEND' (invariably US crime drama) have now had their season finales and gone off the air until the autumn. As far as telly is concerned, the sole purpose of JUNE is to wait for JULY to come around, bringing with it LE TOUR DE FRANCE...

TREK-SEGAFREDO held a sort of social media poll for fans to pick their own fantasy team for the Tour. Anyone whose choices coincide with those of the REAL squad will get to act as a 'MESSENGER' on the Twits. Who will support BAUKE MOLLEMA? The official team will be announced in the next few days.

Somehow, gradually, the demands of the days have shifted... My 'working' week currently runs from Friday to Tuesday! So that means that Wednesday is now designated as my main opportunity for a 'weekend'. Today I'm off up that Southampton to look at art... I particularly wanted to see the many and varied stylings of GERHARD RICHTER at the newly opened John Hansard Gallery 'on the Square', but there are also some NICE THINGS to be seen at the City Gallery as well - GEORGE SHAW's photorealistic paintings depicting the gnarly trees and human detritus to be found in his local woods, and KELLY RICHARDSON's 'apocalyptic landscapes' (which turned out to be slightly same-y, if truth be told). A nice morning spent wandering around the hot and smelly city and, of course, I took the opportunity to capture a few images of my own for #ViewFromTheWalkies purposes.
Proudly Retro, Openly Grandiose...
Pretty Reminiscent Of Genesis...
Pomp Rock? Oh God!
"THE NEW KING CRIMSON ANNUAL HAS ARRIVED!" What threatens to be the last ever KCrim European Tour is underway, and with it comes this year's "ELEMENTS TOUR BOX". It's once again in the established 'hardback book' format, containing a little tour programme and two seedies of KCrim rarities. As usual, it's all about the SEQUENCING with these discs. Even if you are already familiar with many of the tracks via Mister Stormy's "HOT TICKLES" downloads (or through other 'everything-including-the-KCitchen-sinKC' box-sets), hearing them in a different context gives them fresh ears. Disc Two works particularly well with this one - A selection of some of their most 'BALLADY' bits, tastefully sequenced together, making it almost like "KING CRIMSON: THE LULLABY ALBUM".

I really don't like the word "PROG". I think I prefer "MICE" (Mostly Instrumental, Complex and Exploratory) to describe the kind of music I like...

ALSO... Only just the other day, I was thinking that JOHN COLTRANE has been a bit quiet lately, wasn't it about time that he brought out a new one? "BOTH DIRECTIONS AT ONCE" is exactly that, a long-rumoured "LOST ALBUM", recorded at Rudy Van Gelder's in 1963, exactly a day before he did the session with Johnny Hartman. It is, of course, fantastic, if only to hear all the tentative early takes of "IMPRESSIONS" as it gradually assumes something like a shape...

Week from Monday 2nd July 2018

During my Saturday #GivingAShift, I had the opportunity to delve through a big box of new donations, including several of the jazzier or classicallier kind of CDs that actually have proper resale value for once. The guy had quite an interesting collection of DUKE ELLINGTON recordings, as well as a near-mint-condition "ESCALATOR OVER THE HILL". Makes an interesting change from sticking 99p labels on multiple copies of SUSAN BOYLE or ALFIE BOE seedies! Naturally, I blagged some desirable items for myself - CHICK COREA's piano concertos recorded with the London Philharmonic, a favourite vintage recording of MAHLER's second racket (the OTTO KLEMPERER one with Elizabeth Schwarzkopf) and an ECM of JOHN ADAMS' "Harmonium"... As is usual with these big 'LUCKY DIP' boxes, there were also a lot of 'NOT FOR RESALE' coverdisks from the likes of BBC Music Magazine, all of which were destined for the bin once I'd recycled the jewel cases. I rescued some MAHLER recordings from that pile as well, mostly ones involving the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra under Donald Runnicles (I put some money in the collection box, since you ask...)
This morning, when I decided to 'DO SOME DIARY', I found that I was unable to update the files on the COFFEECUP site, either by using the FTP app or by logging into the site and uploading from there. I'll have another go later, it might be one of those 'server down for maintenance' things ("IF YOU CAN READ THIS, THEN... etc. etc.")

BUT WE'RE BACK. WELL, SORT OF. This afternoon, the FTP still didn't work, but I was able to upload the files using the 'OLD-FASHIONED FIDDLY METHOD'; that is to say one page at a time via their web-portal ('cos I can't get their Flash-dependent 'fast' app to work anymore either!). I noticed while I was doing that that some of the old MYSPACE CORRESPONDENCE archives had got moved... Luckily I keep backups! But who but me would ever notice? Hopefully, the FTP service will be restored soon, but until then I'll have to do things the archaic way! (Wednesday morning, still the same. I reinstalled the COFFEECUP programmes 'just in case'... but you're reading this because I gave up on using FTP altogether.)
...which reminds me, I got a pop-up notification thingy that informed that I have been on TWITTER for THREE YEARS as of today!

The programme for this year's BBC PROMS has come out. I'm pleased to see that there is a little more emphasis on NEW MUSIC this year. There are also fewer examples of the Beeb trying to crowbar SHOWBIZ into everything, in an attempt to (ahem!) 'BROADEN ITS APPEAL', something that has been a worrying trend the last couple of seasons. Tenuous tie-ins with such bafflingly popular telly shows as "Doctor Who" or "Strictly Inelegant Clodhopping" should have no place at the Albert! It hasn't gone away altogether, of course - this IS the BBC after all! - it just doesn't seem so intrusive. People still wanna have their SHOW TUNES, I s'pose...

All those years I spent getting my hands dirty and mucking about with STYLISH proved well spent. It gave me a do-it-yourself training course in CASCADING those STYLE SHEETS, which came in very useful in my 'proper job' for a while. It also got me a good following on MYSPACE, but that's another story! When STYLISH was sold on to another bunch of opportunist capitalists, wresting it from the hands of 'THE USERS', FIREFOX stopped supporting it and recommended the fork STYLUS instead. Which is what I've been using for the last few months, for making my own favourite parts of the internet slightly nicer places to be in. It now turns out that the new owners of STYLISH wanted to use it for malicious purposes and embedded all sorts of SPYWARE into its functionality. Luckily, I got out just in time! But this morning I've been retracing my steps, trying to eliminate any links I might have left lying around to the 'old way of doing things'. That includes a USERSTYLES.ORG account and an entire BLOGGER site I created to share all those handy STYLISH tips. This has been archived and then deleted. No doubt G**GLE still keep something. We all know you can't erase yourself from the web entirely. But there's very little you can do about that. I think I'm SAFE. Well, LESS UNSAFE, anyway. As someone just pointed out on Twitter, that IS the default setting for cyber-security these days...

I was able to delete the whole of my 'techy' BLOGSPOT which contained all the STYLISH stuff, but when I went to the "MINTY'S MEWS" page to delete any links over there, I discovered a LAYOUT EDITOR that is clearly no longer maintained and is pretty much unfit for purpose. I searched the web for 'instructions' as to how one goes about changing things on a BLOGGER site, but even G**GLE's own listings apply to a version that is several years old, referring to buttons and settings that are no longer where they are supposed to be. I know I abandoned mine a while ago, but is BLOGGER actually a thing any more? Have even G**GLE stopped supporting it?

Then it dawned on me. Perhaps it only works properly in CHROME! It is G**GLE after all! Well, I don't have Chrome itself, but I do keep the secure browser BRAVE for occasional shopping purposes. It is also based on the Chromium architecture and is just as hard on the eyes. It should work the same, shouldn't it? AND LO! I was able to get the LAYOUT EDITOR working, I could see all of the modules of my page and I was able to edit them and change my blurb. Job, as they say, done!

Week from Monday 9th July 2018

I went down to Gozzy bright and early, to take care of some bidnit, so that I could be back to watch the TEAM TIME TRIAL at the Tour. But it seems TREK SEGAFREDO weren't even competing in the race, at least not as far as the TV cameras were concerned, so once AGAIN I had to go to soshul meejur to find out what actually happened in real life. As it happens, they barely troubled the top fifteen(!), although they are TENTH in the Team contest overall. They're also a man short after TSGABU GRMAY dropped out with tummy trubs the other day. JOHN DEGENKOLB is still best placed man in both the GC and points competitions, and he is usually to be seen making a brave effort in the final bunch sprints. Meanwhile, TOMS SKUJIŅŠ (which, I learn, is pronounced something like "SQUINSH") is defending the POLKA-DOT JERSEY. I doubt he will still have it once we get into the big mountains, but still, it is nice to be winning something!

The first few days of a long cycling Grand Tour are actually quite exciting. It is still a RACE. The chaps are still finding their paces; Nothing is going as 'predicted' and there are thrills and spills aplenty; The jerseys change hands several times; Pundits act all surprised and baffled, because the so-called 'favourites' (whose?) aren't performing quite as expected; Certain maverick riders are displaying plenty of COMBATIVITÉ; All-in-all, it's far more interesting before the GC competition settles down into its customary robotic state.
The INTERNET is completely unusable again, so intermittent is the connection. Luckily, I'm not NEEDING it much today (though it is infuriatingly frustrating on a four-letter-words-under-the-breath level whenever I DO try to do anything). In all probability, it has something to do with the roadworks going on down the way, and BT OPENREACH not reaching far enough. But if I were a conspiracy nut, I would draw attention to the 'SPOOKY COINCIDENCE' that TALK-TALK chose, at this very moment, to offer me a new ROUTER at a bargain price - "We see that you are still using our old-style router after all these years, perhaps you would like to buy this whizzy new one at 70% off?". It IS long overdue for an upgrade, I do concede. I hope it makes the difference that they claim for it. We shall see after the weekend.
Off up that Winchester to #GiveAShift... I caught an earlier train, because I first wanted to visit the Art Gallery at the Discovery Centre (or Public Library to you!). Courtesy of the TATE, mate, a selection of the pastel-coloured horizontal stripes of the American abstract expressionist AGNES MARTIN. At least she claimed to be an 'abstract expressionist'. Most people would call her a 'MINIMALIST'. In fact, some of her stuff is SO minimal, it's barely there at all! I found her stuff restfully pleasant on the eye, nothing more. She has none of the emotional 'WOW FACTOR' one might get from, say, a MARK ROTHKO or even a BRIDGET RILEY. There were half-a-dozen paintings, various widths of stripe in shades of pink and cloudy blue, all much of a muchness. Plus a fairly pointless series of grid pattern drawings that were APPLIED GEOMETRY and nothing more. By the way, you could see the ruled pencil lines separating the COLOURING-IN on all the paintings.

This weekend, FOR ONE WEEK ONLY, I've moved my Fareham #GivingAShift to Monday morning. It was my intention to spend a couple of hours of my Saturday afternoon waiting for people to get their acts together at the SOUTHAMPTON MELA. But they've been promising a change in the weather, so thunderstorms permitting...

I did eventually go to Southampton just for 'the craic'. It is still hot and sticky. I wandered about town for a bit and did the charity shops. I checked out the 'GLOBAL VILLAGE', looked at clothes and smelled the food (or was it the other way 'round?). I stood still for a while and listened to some RAJASTHANI FOLK MUSICIANS doing their thing - including some demon GOB-AXE action! - and spent five minutes checking out some FLAMENCO. But the #Walkies was the main event.

I tell you what, GREAT WESTERN RAILWAY must be short of rolling stock! I just came home on an hilariously quaint little three-carriage 'leccy that probably serves its time on the Devon coastal line, or maybe potters up and down some Welsh valley somewhere. How old was it? It had OPENING WINDOWS(!) and an internal door at each end that said "STAFF ONLY". When did you last see either of those things on a train? It was fine for a quick non-stop shuttle between Southampton and Fareham, but imagine coming all the way from Bristol Temple Meads in one of those! I'd forgotten how noisy a train can be with all its windows agape! There's definitely no "QUIET ZONE" on these babies!

Having noted that there was a lot less 'SHOW BUSINESS' on the programme for this year's BBC PROMS, the first night's main feature was basically a high-tech version of a "SON ET LUMIERE" show.

Week from Monday 16th July 2018

It feels weird doing my 'Saturday Job' on a Monday morning... It also feels kinda weird TREK-SEGAFREDO winning things in the TOUR DE FRANCE! Not only are they still defending the KING OF THE MOUNTAINS jersey, they actually have a stage win under their belts now! In the most thrilling stage of the race so far (by far!) - the notoriously cobbled mini-PARIS-ROUBAIX nightmare - JOHN DEGENKOLB sprinted to a glorious victory, with JASPER STUYVEN and BAUKE MOLLEMA safely tucked away in the bunch not far behind. Of course, they still get totally ignored whenever the biased TV pundits do a run-down of "THE FAVOURITES" (fake news!)
This shitty internet connection is REALLY starting to piss me off! I can't stay connected long enough to do ANYTHING without interruption. Put any sort of 'LOAD' on the router and it cuts me off... It occurred to me (in the middle of the night, as these things often do) that I still have an old ADSL box lying around that might do the trick and tie me over until the new router arrives. I won't have any WI-FI at all, but at least there's a chance that the wired connection will stay working for more than minutes at a time. Of course, if the problem DOES lie somewhere outside the house, then even the best router in the world won't make a difference. But I stayed online long enough to download the latest bunch of King Crimson 'HOT TICKLES' this morning, and I was able to stream the podcast that I would habitually listen to on a Monday morning, so that's something. Face it, I don't want FAST internet, I just need a RELIABLE one!
Into the Alps, and I think it is safe to say that the GC race becomes 'ROBOTIC' from this point on. The peleton is described as being 'controlled' and 'shut down' or 'neutralised'. BOOOORING!!! As far as the TV commentators are concerned, it now TEAM SKY's race and everyone else is just taking part in it. Other teams merely get mentioned in terms of how they affect the progress of the 'FAVOURITES'. For one brief, glorious, Degenkolb-fuelled moment, they HAD to include TREK-SEGAFREDO riders in the on-screen tables, but not any more. Now even BAUKE MOLLEMA has decided that his GC race is over. Hopefully he'll try for stage wins now, if he feels like it. I came to realise years ago that the YELLOW JERSEY competition is all about unrepresentative number relativity, favouring teams who 'play it safe' - It has f**k-all to do with actual RACING! It's really an ENDURANCE prize, one that you get for doing as little as possible, as consistently as possible, for as long as possible. The other jersey competitions better reflect the EFFORT that some riders put in. JOHN DEGENKOLB is still the best placed TFS man in the GREEN JERSEY competition (although the leader PETER SAGAN already has three times as many points as his nearest rivals!). Meanwhile, TOMS SKUJIŅŠ has now lost his POLKA-DOT JERSEY to a proper mountain specialist, as we knew he probably would. But he can still be spotted (but rarely name-checked!) mixing it up in the breakaways ('breaks-away'?), or in what is left of the peleton. He says he is looking forward to his first ever ALPE D'HUEZ stage.
I finally bit the bullet and resigned myself to an hour of tinny 'call-waiting' music and trying to hold a conversation over a constant background noise of Mumbai domestic life. I telephoned TalkTalk. It turns out that there HAVE been 'problems reported' with the service in our area in the last week, but that the fault has now been dealt with. But they can't do an actual line test at the moment due to OTHER technical difficulties. As for delivery progress on the new router, it would seem that clicking a button on an email and getting a 'confirmation' message hadn't constituted a firm transaction after all. I'm now told that the order HAS been processed and I should get the new box in another THREE WORKING DAYS. So I'll still be using this overheating ADSL box and lacking a WI-FI until Wednesday... At least the 'call-waiting' music wasn't Vivaldi this time.
SO CLOSE! The telly commentators WERE OBLIGED to mention TREK-SEGAFREDO again on Saturday's stage, because on the Belgian national holiday, JASPER STUYVEN was in a breakaway group that got up to nearly twenty minutes in front of the peleton! Then he went off and time-trialed alone for a goodly few kilometres and it looked like he might win the stage as the only man visible on the road. But he was eventually caught by the chasing group in the last few hundred metres and had to settle for third place, chiz chiz! He must surely qualify for 'LE PRIX DE LA COMBATIVITÉ'? The 'BATTLE FOR GC' (yawn) arrived a quarter of an hour later.

Week from Monday 23rd July 2018