Saturday, December 13, 2008

What was I going to blog about?

There's been something in my head that I've been meaning to mention for ages, and at odd moments I think to myself "I must blog about that tonight," but then by the time I sit down in the evening to do it, it's gone. It won't be anything important, it'll be an observation that coke is better than pepsi, or vice versa, so don't expect wonders, but hopefully it'll come back to me soon.

Meanwhile, I notice that the UK Snooker Championship is taking place at the Telford International Centre. Now, don't get me wrong, I've got nothing against Telford, I thought it was great when their football team got to the quarter-finals of the FA Cup back in nineteen-eighty-whateveritwas, but I don't think a town should claim to have an International Centre unless it's a place that someone outside Britain (or even someone outside Shropshire) has ever heard of. But that's just me being nasty for no reason.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Local Hero

I've been meaning to mention for a while that that interview with me has now appeared in the Beeston Express and been posted on the internet for the world to see. It's probably worth making it clear that I didn't actually claim that the reason I didn't win the world championship for the last three years is that I didn't take part, nor did I neglect to mention (as I always do when I end up telling that pi story) that I never recited it and would probably have only made a mess of it if I'd tried, and have forgotten the whole thing now anyway. Still, Grandma got a namecheck, which is the important thing!

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Rain, sleet and snow

Few of these things seem to fall on me while I'm cycling to and from work. I've been with Boots for five months now (doesn't time fly?) and I've only had a couple of light showers on the way in, in all that time. Which is good, since I don't own any waterproofs, so if I get wet on the way to work I basically end up staying wet. Perhaps somebody will buy me some for Christmas. And some new work trousers. I'm reduced to wearing the ones with small and inconspicuous holes in the legs but which at least zip up properly.

Alternatively, I could stop being a dishevelled old tramp, start acting like a comfortably-well-off financial analyst and buy myself some decent clothes. I'll check out the charity shops at the weekend.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

How to hold a successful conference

The whole memory performance went very well, except for one little thing. The little thing in question was the zip on my trousers, which seems to have lost the ability to stay closed. I didn't notice this problem until after I'd stood up in front of sixty people and memorised a pack of cards, so I have no idea exactly what kind of display I put on for them. Nobody mentioned seeing anything out of the ordinary, but perhaps they were all being polite. I did have to spend the rest of the day discreetly adjusting myself at regular intervals. This will teach me not to buy cheap work trousers. Or, possibly, not to buy 34-inch waists when I know perfectly well I can't fit into them any more.

Anyway, this reminds me of my theory of how to organise a good conference/course/official gathering of any kind. I've noticed over the years that there is always a set pattern when the event takes a break for tea and biscuits. Everybody, without exception, goes for a jammy dodger. Only when all the jammy dodgers are gone does anybody take a different kind of biscuit, usually with a cheerful grumble about how the jammy dodgers are always the first to go. The small proportion of attendees who managed to get a jammy dodger spend the rest of the conference in a happy frame of mind, whereas all the others leave in the evening feeling vaguely dissatisfied but not quite able to put their finger on why.

You might think that the solution would be to provide more jammy dodgers, but in fact that isn't the case. A large part of the satisfaction factor is knowing that you got one of the good biscuits, while your peers who weren't quite as fast as you had to make do with a garibaldi or, if they were really really slow, a shortbread. The actual key to a successful conference which everybody leaves feeling fulfilled is to hold numerous tea-breaks and strategically position the seats and the biscuits so that everybody attending gets exactly one jammy dodger during the course of the day. The feeling of 'yay, I got one' outweighs the feeling of 'aw, I didn't get one' by at least five to one, so a maximum of four tea-breaks should be provided.

This didn't apply to today's conference, as all the biscuits on offer were equally nasty, and yet everybody still seemed to have a good time. Must have been the excellent lunch.

Tuesday, December 09, 2008


There's a departmental conference at a hotel tomorrow and I've been roped in to be the Offical Boots Memory Man again and entertain the crowd with some memory tricks. This is actually quite cool, because I'm still pretty bad at performing memory stunts in front of an audience, and it's embarrassing if I'm called upon to do something impressive and make a mess of it. Showing off in front of Profit Protection Managers is good preparation for next time something like Blue Peter comes up (I mean, they'll never invite me back after that shambles, but someone else might...)

Of course, it does mean spending the evening memorising numbers, interrupted only by the football (I was hoping Chelsea would lose, but never mind). Still, I really do need the memory practice, too, so I shouldn't complain.

Monday, December 08, 2008

Yarrrgh, work is bad

Busy days at the office leave me comparatively inarticulate, sorry. Roll on Christmas, when I can stay in bed for four solid days and do nothing!

Sunday, December 07, 2008

Phone's ringing

Yesterday I had a phone call that I just missed by half a second. I did 1471 and found that it was a number I didn't know with a Nottingham area code, called back and there was no answer. Being a superhuman genius, I quickly deduced that it was a phone box, and that the caller must have been my brother, who hasn't got a phone. Nobody else in the country uses phone boxes these days, after all. I typed the number into Google, just in case there's a directory of all public phone numbers in the country on the internet (turns out there isn't, but there is a list of all the phone box numbers, without any attached address. Just in case you want to call one at random, I suppose).

I rang back again, but still nobody answered it. I was hoping that someone would pick it up and tell me where this phone box was located - if it was just down the road from his flat, I could cycle down there and see what he wanted, and also tell him off for being too lazy to come here himself and tell me what he wanted (he's only about a minute away), whereas if it was in the city and next to his favourite pub, I could call that and accept his invitation to lunch/booze/debauchery.

Don't people answer the phone any more if they hear a phone box ringing? I know there was that film about a man who answered a phone and bad things happened, but it hasn't stopped me from theoretically answering phones. It's actually much more exciting than answering your own phone, because it could be anyone in the world, and they almost certainly didn't want to talk to you at all! And you might help a stranger who wants to pinpoint his brother's whereabouts!

There was a happy ending - he called back a bit later on, and only wanted to check whether I was in so he could come round later on his way back from Attenborough. But even so. Answer the phone, next time a phone box rings at you!