Thursday, November 01, 2007

Virtuous Dean

I'm not feeling too much like a lazy slob right now. After all, I've been doing well with the swimming - last Friday and then yesterday and today and have every intention of going back tomorrow, and I'm starting to feel less like collapsing after a couple of lengths. And I've got an interview with Proquest in Cambridge next Tuesday, which I'm feeling optimistic about - it will take the form of an Excel test (I'm all in favour of tests at interviews rather than just talking) and then a more standard talk, featuring 'competency-based questions' (you know the kind of thing, 'give an example of a situation where you...', arguably a less stupid interview technique than 'what are your strengths and weaknesses', although I'm still not a fan). I do quite like the sound of this job, so fingers crossed, eh?

And I've also embarked on this year's National Novel Writing Month project - for newcomers or oldcomers without flawless memories, this is the annual task of writing a 50,000-word novel from scratch during the month of November, the point being that you'll produce a load of rubbish but get your creative juices flowing. This year, instead of trying to do something different and stretch my boundaries, I'm going to write a silly but epic story that will be made up as I go along and not make any kind of sense. It's called "Virtuous Dean" and will consist of thirty chapters, each containing exactly 1,666 words, followed by a ten-word epilogue. So far, Virtuous Dean, Despicable Dean and the man whose dog Despicable Dean accidentally killed with an axe have decided to go to Paris to buy coffee beans. As the first stage of their plan to get there, they've acquired jobs as cabin crew on a plane going to Iceland, and I'm sure further adventures await them there.

Dream diary

Sorry I didn't post this last night, but my internet connection dropped dead. I actually wrote it yesterday morning as soon as I woke up, but decided not to post it till the evening for reasons of tradition, so it's now a whole day old. Sorry about that. Anyway, here goes:

My head is really full of dreams I’ve just had, so I thought I’d write them down. I don’t remember exactly what order these sequences occurred in, but the following things all happened:

I was driving a car (which is strange enough, since I never do) in Tumby Woodside. I turned right at the end of the road to head towards Boston, but there were several new sets of traffic lights, a few yards apart – permanent ones, not the temporary ones they put around roadworks. I negotiated them okay, but had a feeling I’d gone through a red one. I pulled in to the side of the road to let a tractor pass in the opposite direction (this is pretty mundane for a dream – driving along those roads, you get out of the way of tractors a lot), and it was lucky that I did, because then I was overtaken by a blue car moving sideways. It stopped, horizontally across the whole narrow road, and I stopped to wait for the driver (he was a yuppie type, but nobody I know) to get out of the way. He tried to do something, but only ended up going forward and down into the ditch along the side of the road. The front windscreen shattered and the guy fell out, but he wasn’t hurt. I got out of my car to see if I could help him.

We knocked on the door of a nearby farmhouse (not one of the real houses that line that road) – it had a friendly, cluttered interior and the owner was a friendly old man who I knew (not based on any real-life person again). He offered us a mobile phone with which we could call a magic fairy who granted wishes. This didn’t seem at all like an unusual kind of thing to do. The fairy came along and fixed the car with a wave of her hand, returning it to the road, chatting with me that it was a surprise to get the call from the yuppie, since that mobile phone is the only way of contacting her and she normally only speaks to the old guy. As an afterthought, she transformed the yuppie’s car into a magnificent vehicle – a sort of burgundy limousine, three doors along each side and decidedly antique, looking like it dated from the forties or fifties. I was delighted by it – it was a ‘Spyder’, and there was a manufacturer’s name too, but I can’t remember what it was.

The yuppie, on the other hand, was extremely annoyed by this – he hated the Spyder and preferred his original car, which had been an unexceptional modern vehicle, newer and shinier than mine. I suggested that we swap, and he cheerfully agreed and drove off in my shabby old car, while I took the cool one. Then there was a sort of brief narrated epilogue saying that I went wherever I’d been going in the first place, came back, and helped the old guy from the house transport some potatoes into town.

In an unrelated sequence of events, I was sitting in a classroom at the end of a lesson for some kind of course at a college. The lesson ended and people started leaving. The teacher was reading the comic 2000AD at his desk, and asked me in admiring tones how I’d managed to write something as great as a series he named (I can’t remember what it was called). I told him he’d got me confused with someone else, and the only thing I’d ever had published in 2000AD was a Future Shock short story. I had the feeling I was trying to make myself sound like a full-time comic writer whereas in fact that might have been the only thing I’d ever had published anywhere, but then I remembered that they’d printed another story of mine, a five-part superhero story, and I couldn’t remember the name. I racked my brain, trying to remember what it was called, who the artist was, and what had happened in it, but could only get the vaguest ideas. Meanwhile, the next class was coming into the room and urging me to get out in a hurry so they could start. I had no interest at all in whatever subject they were learning, but they seemed to think I was trying to hang around and join them, and didn’t want me to. I think the class might have been ‘Asian Studies’, and I noticed that the people attending it were unusually ethnically diverse, representing between them the full spectrum of race, age and gender (for this to be unusual suggests I was still in Lincolnshire in the 80s or 90s, rather than ethnically-mixed Derby). So I picked up my bag and wandered off down the corridor, which resembled one from my old school in Horncastle.

That probably led into this bit – I think I was still trying to remember my superhero story (it was something of a disappointment to wake up and recall that I’ve never had anything published in 2000AD) and thinking I’d find the file on my computer when I got home. But for the moment I was at my old school in Horncastle (of course, I didn’t have a computer at home when I was a pupil there), although I’m pretty sure I was still an adult, rather than a teenager again. It was the end of the day, I’d been held up by something after school and I went out to the buses, hoping mine wouldn’t have left yet. But unfortunately, I was just in time to see it leaving. It was pouring with rain and I was wearing nothing but the Brazilian Mystery Cloak – this didn’t strike me as unusual in any way.

I went back inside and into the sixth form common room, where I dug through my bag to find some clothes, since the cloak was soaked through. The bag contained my corduroy trousers, which I rejected since there’s a small hole in them and I didn’t have any underpants, and a skimpy pair of shorts, plus a very tight, pale pink, knitted tank top. There may have been shoes as well, I can’t quite remember. I was conscious that this outfit would make me look extremely silly, but decided to wear it anyway for a laugh. I invited a woman nearby, who might have been Jenny, to walk into town with me, and maybe go to the library. I have a feeling she had to think about it, since I was dressed extremely strangely, but I don’t remember anything else after that point.

So, any Freudians out there want to analyse my brain and tell me exactly the extent to which I'm a loony?

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

November rain

I might have mentioned in my blog before that November is traditionally when I start a new thing in my life, generally a new job. It's happened every year since 2002, without me really planning it, and I seem to be a bit behind schedule this time. Or maybe something new and exciting will come along in the next couple of days - I do have a second interview coming up for that Cambridge job, and I could always ask the agencies for temp work again and trust to fate or the time of year to drop me in a good one this time round.

Or maybe I'll be abducted by aliens? That'd be cool.

Monday, October 29, 2007

Online Memory!

Okay, a bit of advance hype this time, for the second Online Memory Challenge! It's this coming Saturday, 1pm my time, it'll last about an hour, and I think everybody should come along and check it out, whether as a competitor or spectator. All you need to do is click here, and drop Simon a line to tell him you're coming, then he'll give you the link to the website.

If you've never tried memorising things before but have always been vaguely curious about what I do, this is a perfect time to find out for yourself without leaving your home. I'd urge you to compete rather than spectate, for the full experience, but there's no denying that spectating is a lot of fun with the way this ingenious program is set up. Come along and have some fun!

Sunday, October 28, 2007


Well, the whole house party thing was a bit of a bust, but I still got to hang out in Manchester with David and Kitty and Jack, and what more could anyone want? I'm also still too tired and/or hungover to write at length about it, so, well, sorry about that.