Thursday, June 22, 2006

I don't get it

And by 'it', I mean ticket inspectors on trains. Not as a person, they're all very nice people, but I don't get why they don't conduct on the same trains every day. I take the same train every morning and evening, and it's always someone different inspecting my ticket. It was the same when I was commuting from Boston to Skegness - never the same guy twice. Well, sometimes they're guyesses, but mostly they're guys.

Anyway, I'm off to Hattingen. Gradually. My plane leaves too early in the morning to get a train down there without panicking about missing it, so I'm spending the night in a hotel in Birmingham. Then I'm going to spend tomorrow sight-seeing in Dusseldorf and Essen before finally making my way to Hattingen on Saturday morning. Unless I get lost.

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Doctor in the house

If you've got fancy cable TV like what I have, you can see each new episode of Doctor Who three times in a week. Which should be plenty for the guy who's taping every episode for future viewing marathons, right? I missed last Saturday's because of the party, and then on Sunday I forgot to turn over to BBC3 until about 30 seconds after the episode started. So I watched it, but decided to tape it on Friday so as not to have the first couple of words missing. It occurred to me yesterday that I'll be in Essen by the time it comes on on Friday, so I'll have to set the video and remember to leave the set top box tuned to the right channel and everything, and I'm pretty hopeless at that. So if you happen to see me over the next day or so, remind me about it, okay? Thanks.

Tuesday, June 20, 2006


Shudder. I'm trying not to look at the TV too much in case they show another replay of Michael Owen hurting himself. I'm horribly squeamish about knee injuries, having had some very nasty ones myself in the past, and that looked sickeningly familiar. Poor guy.

On the other hand, we might get to see Theo Walcott playing now. I'm full of hopes that he can be England's surprise hero and win the cup for us.

Although on the other hand...

After saying yesterday that it would probably be a good thing to do a lot of practice for the speed cards challenge, I went and did three packs of cards (for the first time in a few days) and had times of 31.01, 29.51 and 27.34, a new personal best. So I think I might actually leave off training at that point. But then I did have a mistake in recall on the second pack, which is annoying. The SCC is going to be a really different kind of challenge - it's not about getting the best overall score, it's about beating your opponent each time in a knockout kind of competition (Swiss system so everyone's taking part all day, but with four rounds and sixteen competitors you can't win if you lose one heat). So I'm looking forward to the new experience. I'll play it by ear as to whether to go for a fast time or to be certain of remembering it all correctly.

I will admit my decision to go easy on the training is influenced by the fact that there's an England game tonight and I've got a Looney Tunes Special Bumper Collection video to watch (three hours of cartoons, several of which I don't think I've ever seen before, even though they're all from the fifties and therefore the kind that are on TV constantly). I bought it on eBay, only the second thing I've ever bought off there, and since it arrived this morning just before I left for work I gave positive feedback to the seller without so much as checking that the right tapes were in the box. I worry about offending someone by not giving them prompt and glowing feedback. Although the warm fuzzy glow they get from it might be diminished if they knew I could never bring myself to say anything bad about an eBay seller, even if they hacked into my bank account and stole all my money, launched a low-yield nuclear missile at my house and sent me a video with a slight distortion on the soundtrack.

Monday, June 19, 2006

General chit-chat

I met a guy at the party on Saturday night who I got on extremely well with and spent a long time talking to about this and that, until my brother accused us of being 'like a pair of woodpeckers, only talking to each other'. This is either a common expression that's passed me by all these years, or one of those phrases that only he uses.

On Sunday, I bought a fantastic graphic novel - a collection of all Alan Moore's Future Shocks from old 2000ADs. I'd read most of them before, but it's brilliant to see them all at once. And here's another reason to shop at Page 45 in Nottingham rather than Forbidden Planet - the guy on the till asked me what else Alan Moore had written, because the name sounded kind of familiar. I thought he was joking, but it turns out he was entirely ignorant of Moore's work. Now, I suppose I shouldn't expect someone working in a comic shop to have an encyclopaedic knowledge of every comic ever written (although most of them do, because who else but a comic geek wants to work in a comic shop?), but not knowing Alan Moore? If there's a single most famous writer currently producing comics, it would have to be him. Everyone who works in Page 45 can chat with you about any comic you care to name, and recommend good ones. It's the personal touch I appreciate.

I'm undecided about how much to practice speed cards before Saturday. My natural inclination is to do quite a lot, although with most championships I normally leave off training for the week beforehand. With cards, though, you can lose a couple of seconds if you get out of practice for a day or two, and there isn't going to be a huge amount of memorising in Hattingen (12 packs at most, which is nothing, really) so I don't need to worry about not having a fresh journey to use.

One of the presents I got my brother was a Harmidge leathercraft set. Make your own real leather comb case and clothes brush holder! I found it in a charity shop where it had possibly been sitting for a good thirty years - the picture on the packet shows two children with late-sixties/early-seventies hairstyles and clothes looking with delight at the pack's contents - three little pieces of leather that you have to sew together to make the comb case. You also get a comb and clothes brush, needle and thread. Possibly the most exciting birthday present anyone could hope to get.

And a Jem video, which I'm inclined to write about at greater length another time, because I watched it and realised I'd forgotten just how darn good Jem was.

Sunday, June 18, 2006

Beans, of the Boston Beans

The mistake was the two of us going to the Boston Bean Company Bar before the party and having four pints of lager each. Not that it stopped the party being great, it just had the effect of making me feel really, horribly unwell today. I actually lost count of how much I had to drink, which isn't like me (I don't have the problem of forgetting things I do when I'm drunk, I suppose it's part of the memory champion thing, but I do have the big problem of remembering what I've done when I'm drunk, which is worse). I was staying off the Stella, so it could have been worse, possibly.

Anyway, great party. My costume, as previously mentioned, was brilliant (photos to come when my brother gets them developed). His Zoltar outfit was really cool too, although I question the decision to base it around a skintight purple leotard that was more figure-hugging than is strictly necessary. We got a few unusual looks from people on the street outside the restaurant (did I mention this fancy dress party was in full view of the public?), which was fun. I'd write more about it, only as I mentioned I'm not well today.

Still, I've got the next five days to recover before Hattingen on Saturday - I've got Friday off work to travel there, and my boss is off for the next two weeks so hopefully work won't be too taxing.