Saturday, November 10, 2007

Things that deserve a blog entry to themselves but haven't got one

Ace bought me a star for my birthday. A star that comes with a cuddly dragon!

My brother bought me a Baby-Face Finlayson comic library, and a knockoff Optimus Prime-like transforming robot whose left leg he then snapped off two minutes after I unwrapped and opened it.

I'm still having a Zumo smoothie every day, although I'm not 100% certain whether they're less fattening than my usual chocolate bar and cherry coke. I don't entirely trust "low-fat probiotic yoghurt", anyway. There's something seriously wrong with the idea.

Mark-Paul Gosselaar is still alive and well, although I'd been told he was dead. This is nice to know. Grace Slick out of Jefferson Airplane is also still alive - I didn't have any reason to assume she isn't, but I'm listening to Surrealistic Pillow at the moment, and thought I should check.

I also recently bought an ancient Black Bob book for £1 in a charity shop. It's great. I'd get a dog if they weren't so scary and prone to bite people.

Friday, November 09, 2007

The Heat is off

Heat magazine called me today - they're doing a feature about memory in between the celebrity gossip ('about remembering the night before and all that') and wondered if I could advise them, in return for plugging my book. Yes, funnily enough, the woman who called me knew that I'm writing a book, but thought I was still the world memory champion. Perhaps she comes from an alternate universe where I'm the world champion and have finished writing a magnificent book that just needs a few plugs in popular magazines to make the best-seller list.

I turned it down, anyway - I'm being quite resolute lately about not accepting offers to pretend I know about how to improve your memory outside the whole numbers/cards area. With hindsight, perhaps I should have turned down the plugging-my-book compensation and suggested a big plug for the memory championships. We're trying to improve awareness right now. That would have been a lot more sensible than turning them down flat. Ah well, next time a tacky magazine wants me to talk to them, maybe I will.

I've been less resolute about the whole weight-loss thing. I have been swimming several times this week, but in the supermarket tonight there were 250g bars of dairy milk, two for £2. Which is the kind of offer you can't possibly turn down, is it? Especially when they're sitting next to 400g bars for £2.14 each so you can see what a fantastic offer it is (strangely, the box of 400g bars was half empty, so perhaps a lot of people really can't see what a fantastic offer it is). Well, I also bought some oranges and apples, so I'm still healthy and slimming.

Thursday, November 08, 2007


I always giggle at the sound of the German footballer Bastian Schweinsteiger's name when I see him on telly. I expect I'm mistranslating and his surname doesn't really mean Pig-Climber, but that's what it sounds like to me, and it makes me laugh. I have a sophisticated sense of humour.

It also reminds me of the olden days when I worked for Adams and saw "hand raised pork pies" among our product list. That always made me think of happy little baby pork pies, gambolling in the fields and being hand-reared by loving farmers. Really, I have a strange mind.

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

My professional quest

Remember that interview at Proquest for Thursday? It seems that they wanted it to be Tuesday, but the guy at the agency responsible for passing the message on to me got mixed up. So they rescheduled it for today instead, meaning that I went down to Cambridge to see them. Since the only train getting me there got me into town an hour before the interview, I decided to walk from the station to the office, just on the outskirts of the city, which would have been a very good idea and wonderful for my half-hearted keep-fit drive, if not for the fact that I was wearing my work shoes, and I haven't had much reason to walk long distances in them before, and they basically cut my feet to ribbons. Oww, my poor backs-of-ankles, they might never be the same again. And that's despite wearing the super-thick woolly socks my grandma got me for my birthday.

Still, apart from that, the interview wasn't too bad, all in all. It started with an Excel test in which they gave me a huge pile of data and 25 minutes to produce a useful report incorporating as much of it as possible in a meaningful kind of way. This is exactly my kind of thing, so it's strange that I made a complete mess of things - starting off producing something huge and ambitious, realising that it was going to take way longer than I was allowed, and finishing up with the kind of shoddy little report that I could have knocked out in two minutes flat. But in the interview after that I did my best to give the impression that I knew what I was doing and could, with five minutes more, produce something a lot cooler, and I think they believed me.

And the rest of the interview went pretty well, all in all. If I wasn't already out of the running with the Excel test, I think I came across as the kind of person they'd want to employ. And there's a sporting chance that they'll go for expediency (they need someone to start very quickly, and there can't be many candidates who'll need less than a month's notice) rather than ability. So we'll see. And if they don't, well, having considered my options, the scarcity of good jobs who want to employ me and the not-my-kind-of-thing-ness of every possibility I can think of in which I try to make a living from memory stuff, I think I'll go back to temping. It'll keep me off the streets at least, and there's always work available.

But seriously, ow, my feet!

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Gunther stole my hat!

Well, not that Gunther, and in all probability not actually my hat either, but there's a programme on channel 4 tonight featuring a Dr Gunther von Hagens, who apparently always wears a trademark black fedora. "For me, it's also a sign of individuality," he says. "As a former East German who spent two years in prison for political dissent, I believe in individualism and I cherish it." Well, I'm sorry, but that's no excuse for stealing my gimmick. If we ever met at some kind of party for celebrities who get to appear on telly every now and then (it's about time I got invited to one of those) it would be terribly awkward and embarrassing.

I'm annoyed now. I've never heard of the guy before, but he seems to be better known than me, and he's a real doctor and everything, and he wears the same black hat.

Monday, November 05, 2007

Boycott Oust!

Not only is its claim to 'eliminate odours without just masking' obviously a lie, I've just noticed that my can of outdoor scent odour eliminator says on the back "It's special formula neutralises bad odour molecules in the air." Gah! Honestly, that's a disgrace. I'm not going to buy anything produced by S C Johnson any more, until they can prove to me that the 'family company' is teaching its younger members to use apostrophes properly. I bet there's a lot of marriages between first cousins in the Johnson family, you know.

Moving on from other people's mistakes to the far less important issue of my own stupidity, you might have noticed that rather than going out to a fireworks display tonight, I've been sitting at home reading my Oust. Well, that was because I needed to get up early tomorrow to get the train down to Cambridge for my second interview with Proquest. However, when I got down to printing out the information I have about the company to read on the train, I read the email from the agency giving the details of the interview, and found that it's actually not till Thursday. Good thing I noticed that in time, really, although I'm sure they would have took my turning up two days early as a sign that I was really, really keen about the job.

So now I have to rearrange my schedule and find something else to do tomorrow. I suppose I'll continue with my newly-established routine of going swimming in the morning and having a smoothie from the juice bar instead of coke and chocolate for a mid-morning snack afterwards. If this doesn't reduce my weight by November 17th, I don't know what will. Except possibly eating less unhealthy food at mealtimes, or cutting out the mid-morning snack altogether, but I don't think I'm prepared to do that. I only want to lose a little bit of weight, let's not be silly here.

Sunday, November 04, 2007

Whoops, I forgot

Sorry, I didn't mention that my brother was coming round this weekend so I fell victim to my usual strange phobia of writing my blog when there's somebody else in the house. So if you were hanging on the edge of your seat waiting for my daily ramblings, well, you'll probably have fallen off. Sorry about that. Especially if it's one of those seats attached high up on an outside wall of your house, like in that Oasis video.

Anyway, I did remember to take part in the second Online Memory Challenge on Saturday. Come on, everyone, join in the fun next time, it really is great! Unless you're in China like Emmanuel Mercado is right now - Simon's website seems to be one of the many that doesn't have the approval of the Chinese government, so it's not possible to access it from there. This is the kind of thing that's going to get in the way of the Chinese competitors becoming part of the regular memory crowd - maybe if the WMC is ever held in China, I'll take the opportunity to overthrow the communist rulers while I'm there and set up a peaceful socialist republic in which everybody has equal access to If I can spare the time in between disciplines.

I won it again, anyway, despite my brother being in the next room reading quietly and occasionally bringing huge piles of books down on his head with a loud crash. I think I've managed to get used to the different feel of reading the numbers/cards/words off a screen instead of a piece of paper - I did a 360 in speed numbers, which was groovy. Next time I'll try for a fast time on the speed cards and see what happens. It's really great for training, this system.