Saturday, November 24, 2007

Back home, surprisingly

I was planning to stay over in Cambridge tonight, seeing as I'm going to London tomorrow, but we finished the othello earlier than expected and I thought I might as well sleep in my own bed and play about on the internet tonight. The tournament was a lot of fun, though - held in a different room at Trinity College than the usual one, this one featuring a lot of glass not just on the walls but also the floor of the kitchen (up on the second floor, overhanging the edge of the floors below, so you could see beneath your feet down to the concrete outside. Groovy.) Twelve players and a non-playing-but-there-anyway Aubrey, and I ended up 4th on four wins out of seven, narrowly ahead of David Beck on Brightwell Quotient tie-break. I didn't beat Imre, although I was really hoping to do that three Christmas tournaments in a row, but did beat David (who's rated higher than me, so I won't have suffered too much rating loss from being comprehensively outclassed by Crichton Ramsay, who's rated lower). Nobody beat Imre, in fact, he squished everyone he came up against and won the tournament, with Graham second and Geoff third.

At lunch we'd all piled into the pub we traditionally go to before anyone realised that it had turned into an unnecessarily posh restaurant. We ate there and had the committee meeting anyway, and the meal, although unnecessarily posh, was nice (chips piled up like jenga blocks, I ask you...). At the meeting, Aubrey announced that it's silly him being such an absentee chairman, stepped down and said he thought Geoff should take over. Nobody complained, not even Geoff (probably rendered speechless by having the job thrust upon him like that), so the BOF got a brand-new big boss for the first time in however many years. Almost certainly the first non-British chairman of the British Othello Federation.

It's the world championship next weekend in Greece, and I wish I could be there (Imre, Graham and David are the British team, with Geoff there representing Australia) not just for the othello but for the hopefully rather warmer weather. It was extremely cold today, and I'd decided not to bring my jacket with me on the grounds that it isn't really properly winter yet. I'll wear it tomorrow, I wouldn't want to catch whatever you catch if you get cold.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Something for the weekend

Ahh, nearly the weekend again. If I was gainfully employed, that might mean something, but still, this weekend will be fun. On Saturday we have the Cambridge Christmas Othello tournament, held as usual in late November, then on Sunday I'm heading down to London to meet up with James and James (but not James - he can't make it) and plan out our big university tour of memory performances and teaching.

This is going to be really cool. I'm wildly optimistic about us recruiting whole armies of impressionable young students to the ranks of memory competitors, and the experience of demonstrating memory in front of an audience and running university competitions is an extremely groovy kind of idea. Hope it all works out without any really major disasters...

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Blow me down

Well, England made a complete mess of the football, didn't they? Ah well, that means I won't spend so much time watching matches on telly instead of practicing for the world championship. And Germany DID qualify, so all my rivals will be too distracted by football and will be rubbish at memorising things! See, there's a good side to everything!

Also, I'm not too unhappy at the result because I've just bought the collection of old Popeye comic strips, and it's fantastic stuff. I had considered boycotting it on some sort of moral principle because I would have preferred them to reprint Thimble Theatre from the beginning rather than start with Popeye's first appearance (I feel deeply sorry for Ham Gravy, the original star, and think he deserves some time in the limelight after all these years), but I decided that was silly. And I'm glad I did, because there's lots of good reading there. I'd really love to do a daily comic strip, and who knows, maybe some day I'll get round to doing that webcomic I've occasionally talked about for years now...

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Asquith vs Asquith

"Father's fallen into the lion pit again," Henry said, strolling unhurriedly into the drawing room.

"How typical of the man," Mother tutted, looking up from the tapestry she was weaving. She had been working on the tapestry, which chronicled in detail the life of Herbert Asquith, adding fictional sections to fill in the gaps in her knowledge of the man (which had all been gleaned from his entry in an outdated copy of Who's Who from before he became Prime Minister), for several years now and it was approaching eight miles in length. "He knows the Archbishop of York is coming for tea this afternoon and he'll be expecting to throw some paupers to the lions. If they've already eaten your father again, they'll be fully fed and sleepy."

"That's what I told him, but he wouldn't listen," Henry said. "He was too busy screaming and pleading for help."

"I would never have married him if he hadn't drugged me," Mother said, adding a depiction of Asquith and his wife participating in a prizefighting competition in a field near Eastgate. "Believe me, Henry, if I'd had my way I would have married Prince Andrew and lived happily ever after."

"Yes, Mother," Henry said, a little annoyed by his mother's frequent announcements that she wished he had never existed. "So who is going to pick up the Archbishop from the train station? Father won't be able to do it until he's passed through the lions' digestive tracts."

"And I'm afraid of cars, you're too young to drive, being only two years old, and your older sister, whatever her name is, isn't allowed to go within six miles of the train station because of that gypsy's curse. I shall have to ask Valerie to do it."

Mother turned back to her tapestry and Henry took this as a cue to find out who Valerie was and arrange for her to collect the Archbishop. An hour's research with the electoral roll narrowed it down to three candidates, and he sent carrier pigeons to each of them, asking for the favour and enclosing crude drawings of the Archbishop naked, in case they needed further persuasion.

Two of the Valeries collected the wrong Archbishop from the station and delivered him to the wrong house, but the third brought the correct Primate of England to Henry's house, albeit to the tradesmen's entrance. He negotiated the kitchens and scullery to find his way to greet Mother, who had abandoned the tapestry and was putting the finishing touches to a sausage roll.

"Ah, sausage roll," said the Archbishop, picking it up and eating it. "Not so bad. I've had better, mind. And the weather's rotten. And why isn't the train station closer to your house? The Archbishop of Canterbury gets to visit people whose houses are right next door to the train station. And I don't like the colour of your ceilings. Change them. Right, where's your lion pit? I saw a pauper on the way here."

"Ah, um..." Mother said, nervously throwing half bricks through the windows.

"Why don't I take the Archbishop to the lion pit, Mother?" Henry said with a reassuring wink. Mother looked confused for a moment, but nodded and went to get the paint and brushes for the ceiling. Henry led the Archbishop outside, and the two of them returned five minutes later looking in the best of spirits.

"Splendid," the Archbishop said. "I've never seen hungrier lions, poorer paupers or better decorative carvings. There's no need to change the colour of your ceilings. Oh, you already have. Well, change them back. Splendid. I shall recommend you to my friends and arrange for someone to give you fifty pounds. Valerie, take me back to the train station."

He left cheerfully through the window and Mother picked up her tapestry and got to work on it again. "Mother," Henry said, somewhat put out. "This is the moment where you're supposed to ask me how I arranged for the Archbishop to feed paupers to the lions after all."

"Mm," Mother said, not looking up. "I don't really care."

Monday, November 19, 2007

Even more vital statistics

It turns out that Woolworth's haven't completely got rid of the weighing machine, they just stuck it in a dark corner where nobody ever goes. But I braved the paper plates and napkins section and weighed myself today to see how much weight I'd lost after my vow roughly a month ago to get back inside the normal weight range for my age, height and gender. And here are the results!


Weight.......................12st8.1lb/79.9 kg
Height.......................5ft8.1in/173 cm
Body Fat Estimation:
Fat Index.................22.9%
Fat Mass..................2st12.1lb/18.2 kg
Free F.Mass...............9st10.0lb/61.7 kg
Age and Gender...............31 ♂


Your Normal Weight is between:
59.9 kg-74.5 kg
Your current Body Mass Index
is 26.7 kg/m². The Normal B.M.I.
value is between 20 and 24.9

Normal Fat Index............17-23 %
Normal Fat Mass: 12.6-18.4 kg or


This in not a medical act.

· Do not self medicate.
· Control your weight.
· Consult your doctor regularly
or pharmacist.

I've GAINED three and a half pounds? That's ridiculous! I've been swimming! I've only occasionally eaten a whole bag of tangfastics in one sitting! I've been reasonably conscious of my intention to lose weight most of the time, and I've still gone and got fatter? Nope, not possible. The machine must be broken.

I have lost some height, though. I'm a centimetre shorter than last time the machine measured me. That's something to be proud of.

Sunday, November 18, 2007


Ooh, Blue Peter are phoning me tomorrow! I'm going to absolutely insist on a badge as payment for whatever they want me to do. I drive a hard bargain, I know, but sometimes you have to stick to your guns. Perhaps I should try to watch an episode too, so as I have half a chance of remembering the presenters' names.

This reminds me of "Pink Peter", which was a comedy sketch some people, possibly including Robert Webb but I can't remember for sure, put on in one of our school productions. It was extremely funny, meaning that it almost certainly was Robert Webb, since his bits were always the only reason to watch those shows. I'll name-drop that to the Blue Peter people and they'll think I'm even cooler than I already am.