Saturday, January 28, 2006

Peter's Friends

I noticed that the brilliant film "Peter's Friends" is on Channel 4 tonight, at 1:45am. I had a vague memory that my video of it was broken, but when I checked it it turned out not to be, so I watched it this afternoon. If you haven't seen it before, I'd advise anyone reading this to set their videos tonight - it's one of those obscure movies that I think everyone needs to watch at some point in their lives.

Stephen Fry plays Peter, who after inheriting his father's huge mansion and fortune invites his best friends from university around for a party. And over the course of a weekend they talk, argue, break up, get together and generally entertain. It's funny and moving and compelling, and the acting from all the central characters is top-notch. Tony Slattery is actually really great as the hapless middle-class boyfriend of Alphonsia Emmanuel, who just doesn't fit in with the friends any more than Slattery fits in with the likes of Kenneth Branagh and Emma Thompson in real life. And the film added Rita Rudner to my list of people I must check out some day (it's been about ten years since I first saw the film, but I'll get round to it eventually). She co-wrote it as well as appearing as Kenneth Branagh's awful American wife who he's deeply embarrassed by. All this and Hugh Laurie's musical talent on full display, a beautiful scene where everyone sings "Just the way you look tonight", and a soundtrack of great hit tunes. One of my all-time favourites.

Friday, January 27, 2006

Ah, the weekend

And not a moment too soon. I'm all worn out for some reason. Can't even think of anything to blog about tonight. Well, I can, but when I actually came to sit down and type it (the astute readers among you will notice that I'm sitting down and using my laptop, not lying on the floor to use my inaccurately-named desktop), it occurred to me that it was boring, whiny and offensive to both my parents, so I won't bother.

Thursday, January 26, 2006

Conflict of interests

I've just noticed that the World Memory Championship clashes with the British Othello Championship - they're both currently planned for the first weekend in September. This is really, really annoying, and not just because it's taken me a good two weeks to notice. It's not like I've got a difficult choice to make between the two, I can't miss the WMC after all the work I've put into it, but I really like the othello nationals and it'll bug me, being half a world away while they're taking place.

Also, that means my only chance of qualifying for the world othello championship is winning the Grand Prix - which in othello circles means getting the best results from the five regional tournaments in the year. And I can't go to Oadby because that's the weekend I'm in New York, and another one's in Salisbury, which I normally don't bother with because it's just too far. And Geoff will be going to all of them and he always beats me anyway. I've only got myself to blame for there being one in Salisbury, by the way - it would be in Derby if I'd agreed to host it, but I'm just too darn busy this year.

Also, my back hurts. I think I've sprained it or something. Probably when I woke up in the middle of the night for some reason and thought I saw someone standing in my bedroom. I can't recall whether I actually screamed out loud, but I jumped about ten feet in the air, and was suddenly wide awake with my heart going like the clappers. It was just a shadow or something like that, possibly a ghost, but I'm still kind of freaked out about it. I've never done anything like that before.

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Going Underground

I'm reading "The Secret People" by John Wyndham at the moment. I found it in my pile of books, and I have no idea how long I've had it or why I haven't read it before. Maybe someone sneaked it in among my belongings with some kind of sinister purpose in mind. It's good, though. Ancient science-fiction is always fun to read. There's something quite charming about the opening chapter, in which our hero, flying his rocket plane from France to South Africa, stops in Algeria to refuel.

I need to get some more books. It's not like I spend all that much time reading (just half an hour or so in bed every night, as a rule), but I seem to get through them really quickly, and I feel like I've read every book in my posession so often that I could recite it off by heart. I can't really rely on keeping on finding ones that I didn't know I had. I need to go to Oxfam and buy a shelf-full.

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

No one knows what lies behind the masquerade

I might be going to a masked ball in September. It's at a place called Ingestre Hall, and it does sound like quite fun. It sounds like what I think of as a typically Jenny kind of affair (which isn't meant to sound nearly as insulting as it does now I come to read it) - pre-1900 costumes preferred and masks compulsory, workshops on how to dance in the afternoon and a proper ball in the evening. I've never done anything remotely like this before, and I was lying in bed last night thinking of the kind of outfit I could wear for it. The trouble is, it would be staggeringly expensive, not just for the tickets (which will cost about £60), but for a proper mask (I'd have to get a really good one, a dragon of course, and they cost a lot of money) and an outfit to go with it (dark green velvet Victorian evening dress isn't the kind of thing you can pick up from Oxfam, in my experience), considering I'd only wear the get-up once. But on the other hand, you only live once, and it's fun to splash out and do something different and extravagant every once in a while. And why should my brother be the only one in the family with a range of stylish costumes for every occasion?

Monday, January 23, 2006

So little time...

I very nearly forgot to write this tonight. I was about to go to bed. I seem to be suffering a lot of memory lapses - after waxing lyrical about Life On Mars last week, I would have missed it entirely if I hadn't turned the telly on just as it was starting, with the intention of watching a cartoon on video. And what with all that confusion, I forgot I was going to write my blog next on the schedule.

Not that I was going to talk about anything earth-shattering, just that I was feeling lazy this morning and decided to get the 8:38 train (which gets me to the office bang on nine o'clock if it's not delayed), rather than the 8:27 like I normally do. So I got to the station at half past eight, only to find that the 8:38 had been cancelled and the 8:27 was just pulling away from the platform, only three minutes behind schedule for a change. So I was half an hour late for work this morning, which annoyed me enormously.

I'll get the 8:06 tomorrow. I need to get something as a thank-you present for the Cheadle people who are all finishing tomorrow, having stayed on a bit longer than originally planned to help with the transition. They've all been very helpful, rather more so I think than we Parkhouse people were when the same thing happened to us. Having decided to buy the three who trained me a big bar of chocolate each, I was irritated to hear my boss talking on the phone about her intention of doing something similar. She'll think I stole the idea from her now.

I should mention that my boss is great, actually. A couple of previous times when I've been two or three minutes late because of trains, she's said "don't worry about it" in tones of complete astonishment that I would feel any need to apologise. I think I'd rather be told off, actually - I don't take my job seriously, but I expect the people who get paid lots of money to do so. Still, I've just about resolved to move to Burton. There seems to be a real scarcity of cheap flats there - I haven't seen one that costs less than my current rent plus my monthly train season ticket yet! I know this place is extremely cheap, but it's still surprising. So I don't know why I'm so set on moving - the hassle of trains would be cut out, but the hassle of relocating would be a whole lot more hassly (if that's a word). I'm accustomed to the stench of fermenting beer that pervades the town now, though. I don't notice it any more.

Sunday, January 22, 2006

Should I rethink my "no editing" policy?

I've just noticed that a character in last night's drivel is called Waterfield in the first paragraph and Wilberforce in the second. This seems like a pretty basic memory lapse, and possibly something I should be worried about, but I'm not going to bother to change it after making a big fuss the other night about how I don't like to go back and edit old posts. I'll just make the excuse that I wrote last night's entry a few words at a time, in between games in an othello tournament on Kurnik, so there was probably at least ten minutes between the first time I wrote the guy's name and the second.

In other news, I seem to be getting a heck of a lot of those scam emails about millions of dollars in a bank account in Burkina Faso, just lately. Do they think that if they send me dozens of the things, I'm more likely to think that one of them is genuine? They don't even seem to put as much effort into the things as they used to - I had a personalised one once, in which the millionaire who'd died overseas had the same surname as me. That was the kind of friendly touch that I appreciate - it makes the thing seem more like a finely-crafted work of art rather than purely a cynical attempt to con people out of their hard-earned cash.

Another thing that annoys me, while I'm in the mood to whine about anything and everything, is that guy who presents the snooker on the BBC. I forget his name. I try to avoid seeing premiership football scores at the weekend until I've watched Match of the Day in the evenings, and normally it's safe to watch snooker on Grandstand, because although they put latest scores up on the screen every now and then, they give you advance warning first so you can look away (or in my case keep watching but over the top of my glasses so I can't read the writing on the screen). But at the mid-session interval today, this presenter, whatever he's called, started off talking about someone else, and then apropos of nothing changed subject and rattled off the score in one of today's games. I'd send him hate mail, only that might upset him.

Hey, it's fun complaining about trivial things! I'd do it some more, but I'd worry about becoming one of those people who write in to newspapers. Assuming people still do that - I don't read newspapers, so I'm basing my assumption on the fact that people still make jokes about the kind of people who write in to newspapers. Possibly nowadays they've all got the internet and they just put it in their blogs.