Friday, December 09, 2005


Well, that's a bit of an exaggeration, but it's how I feel. The office in Burton is finally more or less ready, so I don't have to work in Cheadle any more! Except on Monday when I have to have a final bit of training up there, but that's just a day trip. No more hotels! No more free swimming pool that I could never drag myself out of bed to use! No more meals cooked for me and paid for by my company every morning and evening! No more quality time away from cartoons and the internet to concentrate on winning the world memory championship!

Okay, it hasn't been all bad, but I'm still glad to be back home for good, hopefully. Of course, the others might still go into Burton on Monday and find that the building's completely unusable, but that's a little unlikely. I'll celebrate being able to post something on this blog every day by not posting anything tomorrow - my brother's coming round for the weekend, so I probably won't get a chance. But after that, I'll return to the daily dose of dementia, rather than doing anything productive.

Incidentally, I was a little disturbed to find out last night that the financial controller not only knows about my memory competitions, but knows enough about it to be aware that names and faces are my weakest event. If the boss is going to be checking up on me so thoroughly, he might find this blog, which presents a dilemma. Should I only say nice things about the job, just in case, or should I stick with the honest approach and say what I think? Not that I've got anything bad to say at the moment, but suppose I have in future? Censorship is bad, but then again as Thumper's mother's always telling me, if you can't say anything nice it's better not to say anything at all. Also last night, I sang 'Crazy Little Thing Called Love' at a karaoke place, to the admiration of my colleagues. Admiration is good, being filmed by mobile phones doing it isn't. Horrible inventions. And I was trying to get a good reputation at the new place too, as a hard-working, serious, kind of guy. Ah well.

On the subject of work, I have rather rashly promised to take my final CIMA exams in June, or May, or whenever it is. This will involve a heck of a lot of studying (I haven't taken an accountancy exam since 2002, so I've forgotten all the stupid technical stuff that nobody knows in real life but you have to memorise to pass exams). What bothers me the most is that this will really get in the way of my memory training - I didn't start serious training until early 2003, so I've never had to combine the two before. Of course, if I just wrote a best-selling book, or taught courses to stupid businessmen, I wouldn't have to have a day job at all, so I've only got myself to blame. I'm sure I'll manage to juggle the two somehow.

I need a trip to London some time soon. Christmas shopping needs doing and (more importantly) I need to buy a whole pile of comics, too, I've got out of touch with some of my favourites just lately with one thing and another. And I really do need some new work shoes. To be honest, I needed some six months ago, but it's now got to the point where the left one is actively disintegrating as I walk around. Another week or two and there won't be any sole left - which will be fine as long as I'm careful not to be seen walking around the office, and avoid puddles when I'm outside, but it's probably time I got a new pair.

Sunday, December 04, 2005

Great Googly-Moogly

Of course, the problem with spending a weekend doing absolutely nothing is that you don't have much of interest to put in your blog on the Sunday night. So for want of anything better to do, I'll enthuse about one of my favourite cartoons. Ntl's revolving sample channels (a great idea for encouraging people to pay for more expensive packages) has brought me Nick Jr again this month, so I get to watch Maggie and the Ferocious Beast. Yay!

The show is about a girl called Maggie, who has created an imaginary world called Nowhere Land, populated by an assortment of toys, birds, monsters, jelly beans and the like, foremost among them being the Ferocious Beast (a big, friendly, slightly dimwitted orange thing with red polka-dots) and a slightly neurotic pig called Hamilton. Yes, there are three equally important central characters and only two of them get a name-check in the series title. Poor Hamilton. The fact that the setting and everyone in it are figments of Maggie's imagination doesn't generally come up in the stories at all - they're light, uncomplicated, surprisingly philosophical adventures, occasionally with a moral but more often completely pointless (in a good way). We never see the real world, although Maggie goes back there at the end of the day.

It's the kind of show in which the best episodes are the ones where nothing happens at all. There are some fantastically off-beat episodes - "Morning in Nowhere Land" has no dialogue at all, and just shows the Beast and Hamilton waking up and going through their morning routine to the accompaniment of orchestral music until Maggie shows up and they start the day's adventure. "Where's Maggie" features Hamilton and the Beast sitting on a hill wondering why Maggie's so late coming back from her holiday, and worrying that she might not come back at all.

There are some great supporting characters too - Rudy the mouse is notable for the fact that his hat and boots don't come off. Everybody treats this as a perfectly normal thing, except the Beast, who keeps bringing it up in conversation in the hope that someone will explain it to him. Nedley the rabbit is entirely amoral, and just unable to see the point of doing anything that doesn't benefit him directly. In one episode he borrows Hamilton's jumper and then just refuses to return it because he likes it so much. Rather than ordering him to give it back, because that kind of thing just isn't done in Nowhere Land, the plan Maggie comes up with is to go to the beach, where he'll get so hot that he'll have to take it off.

You have to watch it to appreciate it, plot summaries don't do the series justice. "The Push-Me Popper" (in which Hamilton gets a new toy and won't let the Beast play with it because he'll break it, so the Beast takes it anyway and does break it) doesn't sound at all different from a million other cartoons, but there's something about the characters and the writing that makes it hilarious. I was laughing out loud when I watched it for the first time.

Anyway, back to Cheadle tomorrow. Last week there, fingers crossed, touch wood. See you Friday.