Saturday, June 27, 2009

The Embodiment Gris

If I had a time machine, the first thing I'd do with it wouldn't be preventing any horrific and tragic disaster, or even skipping ahead a couple of hours to see tonight's lottery numbers. It would be to take a telly and video back to 1965 and tape "The Daleks' Master Plan" in its entirety. Like most BBC programmes of the sixties, the tapes were all destroyed long ago, and only three of the twelve episodes still survive. But I've been watching them today, and it really is cracking stuff. And not, like some old Doctor Whos, the kind of thing you watch to laugh at the cheap sets and effects, but it's brilliant, enthralling, deadly serious sci-fi drama that leaves me impatiently waiting for the next episode. Which, of course, is unlikely to be shown any time soon, unless another old film turns up in a BBC junk room unexpectedly.

Also brilliant is the DVD commentary on the recently-discovered episode 2 ("borrowed" by a young BBC engineer in the early seventies when he found it lying around the place, never returned and forgotten about until 2004), by Peter Purves and Kevin Stoney. They both cheerfully admit to having no memory of filming this 40-year-old episode they once starred in, but have a lot of fun discussing the old days and the people they worked with. It's somehow very warm and cosy to hear them referring to Zephon, Master of the Fifth Galaxy as "Julian Sherrier". The name actually suits the character surprisingly well. A typical bit of commentary goes like this:

"There's Julian again..."
"No, that's not Julian, that's Bill."
"Is it?"
"Yes, Nick Courtney beat up Julian and put his cloak on Bill, so now he's infiltrating the council of war. Do keep up, Kevin."
"I'm getting lost here..."

Somebody give me a Tardis, so I can watch episode 3!

Friday, June 26, 2009

Stop Press

For the benefit of those people out there who use my blog as the source of up-to-date news about memory competitions (these are the people who tend not to turn up, because I tend not to get round to mentioning important details), please note that the venue of the World Memory Championship this year has changed, from Bahrain to London. Dates are still currently intended to be November 13-15. I'd comment on the situation and the probable reasons for it, but I'd only get in trouble. Anyway, it should still be a great event, it always is.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

In which I attempt to write the shortest blog entry in history (not counting the title, because titles don't count. This is the longest title allowed)

Too much on telly on Thursday nights. And I still did a good hour of memorising as well as all the tennis and comedy and working for a living. I was going to write a blog about how the skin on my sunburnt arms is peeling, but I didn't want to upset anyone with the graphic descriptions.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

In the abstract

I'm in the process of doing something I should have done years ago, and getting serious about abstract images. Specifically, I'm putting together a randomising program to mix up the images from the handful of practice papers available online and enable me to practice it every night. Still a lot of work to do - copying and pasting images into the Excel spreadsheet one at a time is time-consuming and tedious - but it works pretty well so far, and when it's finished I'll share it with the world. Meanwhile, I'm aiming to cut down my time for memorising a page and a half of images down to three and a half minutes, in among the various other training exercises I'm still more or less sort of sticking with.

Also, I need to find a new barber. While I'll grant you that it's hard to make my hair look great, the place down the road really made a mess of it last Saturday. I'd hate to have to go back to Derby every couple of months for a trim, but I haven't had much luck yet finding a half-decent scalper here in Beeston. Perhaps my expectations are too high - all hairdressers nowadays have a photo of David Beckham in the window, as if to promise they're going to make me look just like him...

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Ding dong, ding dong

I learned today that it was Big Ben's 150th birthday last month, and nobody told me. You'd think I would have been invited to the party - quite a lot of people, generally the non-British ones, have given me the nickname "Big Ben" in the past, on account of how I live in England, am called Ben and possibly also because I'm quite small.

A much better nickname, which nobody has ever yet applied to me, would be "Big Ben Brain", which was the name of a famous bare-knuckle boxer in the 18th century, and which incorporates the 'brain' theme that the World Memory Championships are often quite keen to promote. I might have to get some new business cards printed, just to give potential nicknamers a subtle hint.

Monday, June 22, 2009


I'm still feeling all stiff and achey after my uncharacteristic physical exertions. And that's my excuse for laying around doing nothing all evening - I'll get back into memory training and so on tomorrow, I promise.

But since I've done nothing but watch the telly this evening, can I just observe how surprisingly incompetent the presenter/commentator/whatever-you-want-to-call-him on BBC Parliament is? Granted, I only flicked over to it a couple of times to avoid graphic replays of knee injuries on the Wimbledon coverage (I'm very squeamish about hurt knees), but even though I have little or no knowledge of or interest in the process of electing a new speaker, I seemed to know more about what was going on than the guy who was providing the voice-over (along with Betty Boothroyd). I could at least add up a couple of numbers correctly, remember the names of MPs that had been read out five minutes ago and that he'd presumably been discussing all day, and so on. I was sort of expecting a slick, professional, general-election-style coverage, but apparently BBC Parliament's audience is only big enough to justify a clueless commentator dragged in off the street and dropped in front of a microphone.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Makes it all worthwhile

I've got a shiny little gold medal, commemorating that I did indeed manage to cycle fifty miles! And more, if you count the six miles cycling from Beeston to the starting line at Holme Pierrepont (I got the train back, but there weren't any trains early enough in the morning). I've also got terrible sunburn on my arms. And now I'm going to bed to rest my aching... body.