Saturday, February 25, 2006

Something slightly concerning that just occurred to me

Nord Anglia plc's financial year ends on August 31st. They'll want the annual accounts done as quickly as possible after that date, no doubt. The World Memory Championships start on September 1st, in Malaysia. I'll be wanting time off to go there and get back, and recover from jetlag, and after I get back I'll inevitably be pestered by newspapers and things (who always refuse to leave me alone for the week or so after the competition, especially if I win). There's going to be a serious conflict of interests here.

Actually, I've always kind of wanted to hand in my notice because my job was getting in the way of my hobbies. It's possible that I might have a chance. I'll leave it a while before I discreetly enquire about how cool the bosses are likely to be about the whole thing.

On the other hand, I'm in a really great memory mood today - I've been properly training the long events for the first time in a while, and I beat my world record in binary (with 3845), and almost certainly beat the world record in hour cards too, although I haven't had a chance to check them yet (trying for 30 packs, and there's at least a chance that I recalled them all correctly). More importantly, if I do an hour numbers tomorrow, and maybe something else like names and faces too (if I'm really feeling good), I'll have done the kind of weekend routine that I was doing a couple of years ago but haven't been able to fully get back in the swing of since then.

I know there aren't many people in the world who enthuse about their ability to sit down for three hours memorising and recalling playing cards, but hey, each to his own. And I think it's pretty darn cool.

Friday, February 24, 2006


This is the second time in two weeks I've lamented about drinking too much, so I apologise, but obviously I'm turning into one of those comical drunks who everyone laughs at on the street in old movies.

It's not like I even had all that much in the pubs in Burton last night (okay, four pints of Stella which is always one too many for me, a bottle of Smirnoff Ice and a couple of swigs of other stuff), but for some reason today I had the worst hangover of my life. Obviously I'm getting old. But I got up at the normal time today fully intending to go to work, and staggered as far as the bathroom (about three steps from my bed - very small flat) before realising that walking around really wasn't going to be an option. So I called into work and asked if I could have a day's holiday (boss's response: "Of course you can!" in the usual tones of astonishment that I felt it necessary to ask rather than just not turning up) and then spent the whole day in bed, apart from one quick vomiting interlude.

I've still got a headache. Possibly it's a virus of some kind - that sounds much more socially acceptable than just making myself very ill after a night out with work people.

Thursday, February 23, 2006


On the train home tonight a twenty-something woman got on at Burton behind me carrying a cat in one of those cases you carry cats around in, I don't know if there's a name for them. She was talking to it in a squeaky voice, "Where shall we sit, Felix? Let's go down here, Felix..."

She sat further down the carriage and continued to squeak a conversation with Felix all the way to Derby. Meanwhile, I was craning my neck and trying not to look too obvious, but trying to see whether there was actually a cat in the box at all. I could only see through the slats in the plastic at the back, but I could see all the way through and couldn't actually spot any sign of Felix in there at all. Maybe he was lying down, covering his ears and pretending to be asleep like any self-respecting person would when faced with someone like that, or maybe he only existed in the mind of that woman.

I hope it's the latter. Talking to a cat in a box like that is just plain annoying. Talking to an IMAGINARY cat in a box takes real style.

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

The Armstrongs

An extra post tonight, because I've just watched the first episode of "The Armstrongs", the BBC2 fly-on-the-wall documentary about a double-glazing company in Coventry. I wouldn't normally have watched it, but one of the stars is othello player Michael Handel, and I'm glad I heard about his appearance in advance, because the whole show was very funny. It's played for laughs, hyped as a real-life version of The Office, and actually comes very close to living up to the hype. It's well worth checking out next week - Michael is particularly good (getting plenty of plugs in for othello tournaments), and the Armstrongs themselves are the kind of people you really have to admire.

Stretching a point

I'm going out to the pub with work people tomorrow night, to celebrate Colin's 21st birthday, and I choose to count this as being invited to a 21st birthday party. Regular readers will know that I consider this a mark of being cool and not over the hill and nearly thirty.

Granted, it's sort of a blanket invitation to everyone in the finance department, and not technically a party as such, but elderly people like me will take every remotely-like-a-21st-birthday-party-thing they can get.

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

A horrible dilemma

Tonight's European football matches kick off in fifteen minutes, and I still haven't decided which one to watch. Arsenal or Liverpool? Arsenal will probably be the more exciting game, but on the other hand Liverpool will either win conclusively and get anyone watching it feeling all patriotic, or lose embarrassingly and provide perverse entertainment for me tomorrow with my Liverpool-supporting colleagues.

But then, I watched Liverpool on Saturday, against Man U, so in the interests of impartiality I probably should watch Arsenal tonight. But then again, I generally prefer watching Liverpool for some reason. And yes, I watched a whole football game while my football-hating brother was my guest. I'm a terrible host, aren't I?

Seeing as there's footy on telly, I've skipped my usual memory practice tonight. I don't know if I've mentioned it here before (as that would involve remembering things, which I'm surprisingly bad at), but I'm definitely organising a memory competition at the MSO in Cambridge on May 7th. All I need to do now is finalise the format - I'd made up a six-discipline, suitable-for-complete-beginners kind of competition, mindful of not having enough time for a full championship-standard event, even the quickest kind, but it turns out there's a new-style event that has recently been invented by Gunther, with lots of five-minute disciplines.

Had Gunther been the only one to point this out to me, I would just have ignored it (he irritates me a tiny bit, so I tend to be prejudiced against his ideas - and besides, I objectively don't like such short disciplines anyway), but Simon Orton, who doesn't irritate me at all and whose opinions I respect, suggested it too. So I put it up as a poll on the memorysports forum, confident that the regular posters there (who are all the people I think of as 'my gang') would vote for the choice I said I preferred. But it turns out that the majority seem to like the horrid new event better than my idea, so I'm just going to have to go along with that and organise the nasty thing. Ah well...

Monday, February 20, 2006

Come along and we can cross the bridge together

As I've previously mentioned, my favourite website in the world is offline at the moment. And Captain Vegetable, the owner and creator of Virtual Pooh Sticks, is impossible to contact, so nobody knows what's happening, except that his reassuring message has reappeared on the VPS website, promising to get it fixed as soon as he finds the time. Which I suppose is better than nothing. Fractionally.

Sunday, February 19, 2006

The Farmer's Wife

Apologies for not posting anything over the weekend. As I've mentioned before, it's kind of inhibiting to write this while I've got someone staying with me.

It's not a shortage of trivial thing to talk about, of course, I'll never run out of those. For one thing, we moved down into our real office on Friday afternoon. It's great, we've got all the latest technology like flat plasma screens and wireless mouses and keyboards hooked up to our obsolete PCs. I like the idea of tail-less mouses. It fits with my theory that all technology is in fact magic and doesn't conform to any scientific logic. I'll explain it in detail some time if I'm really bored, or else write a book about it, but basically the idea is that anything's possible if enough people believe it is.

What's more interesting is that Campino have started selling a different assortment of fruit sweets - peach, raspberry and blackcurrant. Not all mixed together in one sweet, separate sweets in each flavour, all mixed together in a bag. I wholeheartedly applaud this idea, because previously they've just sold peach, raspberry and blueberry, and blueberry sweets taste horrid. Blackcurrant isn't very nice either, but at least it's a British flavour that more people like over here. It offends me when sweet manufacturers don't tailor their product for each international market - keep that up and we'll be eating grape-flavour skittles, which is just wrong.

I like Campinos. They're like eating real fruit, only with a delicious chemical aftertaste.