Saturday, July 08, 2006

Well, while I'm here

Coming to you live from Gatwick Airport's internet access! I've been to Gatwick before, but I can't remember when or why, and I don't think I came up to this bit with the shops and restaurants so I was probably in a rush to catch a plane at the time. I'm quite pleased with myself, actually - I worked out that I could get the 3:30 train and arrive here just in time to find a hotel, get a room and sit down to watch Doctor Who, and the whole plan worked perfectly. Great episode too.

So I'm flying out in the early hours of the morning tomorrow, touching down in Rio at around the time the world cup final kicks off. Then on Monday it's planning how the TV show's going to look, Tuesday it's recording it and hopefully having plenty of time for hanging out with Alberto and the rest of the emerging Brazilian memory scene (none of whom I've ever met before) before flying back on Wednesday evening.

It occurred to me on the train that it's winter in Brazil at the moment and I haven't packed a jumper, but I gather it doesn't get too cold there at any time of the year, so I should be okay. So I'm off to practice memorising cards and reciting them in Portuguese before an early night.

Friday, July 07, 2006

Good Omens

I was wondering what to wear on the TV if they didn't specify anything, and I decided to go for something a bit different - black trousers, black shirt and my playing-cards tie. Stylish. And then the TV woman emailed me and asked me to bring some black clothes so they could present me as a kind of man of mystery. Anyway, I'm going down to London tomorrow because the flight's from Gatwick in the early hours of Sunday, so this might be the last bloggery from me for a few days, depending on whether I can get my hands on the internet and whether I can be bothered to use it if I do.

That being the case, you'd think I'd be able to think of something relevant and funny and interesting to talk about, but I really can't. I'm going to go and practice cards a bit more - I'm almost getting to the point where I think I can do it on TV and recite them in Portuguese without it all going wrong. Almost.

Thursday, July 06, 2006

"Do you remember that time when Daz..."

I must have heard my dad start a conversation like that dozens of times over the years, but for the life of me I couldn't remember any continuations before the funeral today. Still, it was a good day. "Daz", it seems, was short for Terence Andrew Sadler, and his funeral was suitably eccentric. The hearse especially - it was a motorbike with sidecar big enough to hold a coffin, driven by a man in black leathers and helmet, and with the funeral director (in top hat and suit) riding on the back.

The minister (and this one was a proper minister of some kind, although he was doing the "humanist style" service) delivered his eulogy in a strangely conversational style ("and he was also a fan of that fellow Cat Stevens, the one who became a Muslim, came to Spondon once but I didn't see him...") but he read the poem How Do You Live Your Dash? ("by Linda Ellis, I heard her one time on Radio 3, she's got a nice voice") wonderfully well. The music was "Bridge Over Troubled Water" again - all my dad's gang loved that song.

It absolutely chucked it down during the interment and then cleared up again as soon as we'd moved on to the pub for lunch. Had a good time reminiscing and generally chatting with Daz's daughter Vicky (who I'm told I met several times when we were little, but neither of us remember it) and her friends, plus his Uncle Byron and Aunt Peggy, not to mention it being a good excuse for Grandma (who was essentially a mother to Daz when he was a young man - she's spent her life taking in waifs and strays of one kind or another) to tell parts of her life story, something she can do endlessly and fascinatingly. I seem to come from a family of great storytellers - my brother's the same, and my dad was too, but that gene seems to have skipped my branch of the family tree.

Oh, by the way, if you couldn't see yesterday's entry until a few minutes ago, I do apologise. I did try to upload it last night, but I don't think it worked. And if it did work, sorry to confuse you. I couldn't see it on my computer until I re-uploaded it.

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

Hooray, hooray, it's a holi-holiday

I was meaning to wish all my American readers a happy July 4th yesterday, and remind them it's too late now to come running back and say they want to be a colony again. Hope you all had a good time, anyway, even though I saw fit to devote last night's entry to more whining about my free holiday next week.

Although it would be cool to be American in order to have fireworks in the summer, what wouldn't be cool is the amount of time off work you get over there, from what I've heard. This trip to Brazil next week, New York earlier this year, Germany the other week, then the WMC, MSO and BOC to come have almost completely eaten up the 25 days' annual leave I get. I don't know how I'd cope if I only got a couple of weeks off a year.

One dream of mine is to acquire a biggish chunk of money, £20,000 or so, and take a year off work to do all these things I never get round to doing. I'd join a gym, go to college or university or both and do as many weird courses as I could find (this is what the bulk of the twenty grand would go on), do all the usual memory and other mind-sporty things only with more time to practice, fit in a couple of trips to Las Vegas and general globetrotting, just generally have a good time. Write a book or two, set up websites about weird things. Maybe learn to play snooker well.

I'd also need some kind of brain surgery to stop me feeling guilty about spending all that money on myself rather than giving it to the people who need it, of course.

Oh, and by the way, I'm flattered and fascinated by all the comments I got on that post about my credit cards and things. I thought at the time I wrote it that it was the most boring blog entry I'd ever done, but it seems to have been one of the all-time most popular. I mean, I take the contents of my pocket and write about them in graphic detail, and people read the whole thing? Am I out of touch with what's cool and interesting nowadays? Or am I just such a great writer that I could transcribe the phone book here and everyone would love it?

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

What I wouldn't give for an intergalactic omniglot

Sorry I've talked about nothing else for the past week, but the show I'm going to be on is called Caldeirão do Huck. It's got a website, and it doesn't look like the kind of thing that they'd invite foreigners on in order to play cruel jokes on them, but I'm still not sure what it's all about. Or for that matter what a caldeirão do huck. A cauldron of something, possibly. I'll have to ask Alberto for a crash course in what the show's all about - I have a feeling it's a kind of Noel's House Party.

Anyway, I'm still not practicing memorising cards, I notice. I think I have some kind of subconscious desire to fail spectacularly in front of the watching Brazilian millions. How many people watch this programme, anyway? And once again, what happened to my policy of not doing things like this? Sorry, I just get nervous before scary new experiences. Ignore me.

Monday, July 03, 2006

Things I should be doing tonight

1) Learning Portuguese.
2) Working out how I'm going to memorise a pack of cards in a TV-friendly way.

Things I'm actually doing tonight:

Sitting around in my pants watching Popeye cartoons and reading the entire run of Exiles comics.

I don't know. It's disgraceful, really. But it's been so hot today!

In other news, I'm going to a funeral on Thursday. You go your whole life without going to a funeral, and then two come, both at once. Not anyone I knew, an old friend of my parents who used to hang out with them and my uncle Stewart in days of yore. But my mum's swanning about in the south of France and Uncle Stew is a jetsetter who's practically never in the country and Grandma wanted someone to go to the funeral with her, so I volunteered. Although taking the day off work is going to cause me a lot of hassle for the rest of this week, because we're busy at the moment, especially with me flitting off to Brazil next week and everything. Still, RIP Daz, I've heard plenty of anecdotes about your antics over the years and I'm sure you'll be missed.

Sunday, July 02, 2006

Dragon's pocket adventures

I haven't got a wallet, but I have got a big stack of credit cards and things that I carry around in my pocket at all times. Today, for the first time in ages, I had a look at the 'and things' and realised how long it's been since I threw the useless things away. It's mostly business cards that people keep giving me at memory championships (half the people there have some kind of memory-related business and use the competition as a good excuse to hand out business cards). So just in case anyone's interested, here's the inventory of what's in my pocket:

Maestro card

Train season ticket

Bank of Scotland preference account debit card (I haven't used the account in years)

Monument Visa card (occasionally use it online when a site won't take Maestro)

National Insurance Numbercard (I've been carrying this around in my pocket since I turned 16. Perhaps I should take it out and put it in a drawer somewhere - I know the number off by heart)

Business card for Samantha Birkinshaw of Michael Page Recruitment (She was the one who got me the job at Parkhouse, I think. I'm pretty sure she stopped working there a couple of years ago).
HSBC Savings Card (cashpoint-only card for an account I don't use any more)

AT&T phone card (only works in the USA, and in fact doesn't even work there any more. I bought it the first time I went there in 2000.)

Ulrich Voigt's business card for Likanas Verlag GmbH (he's a 'mnemonist' from Germany, and a very nice guy in fact despite being so intellectual and disapproving of 'memory sports' as pointless wastes of time. That IS the point! I don't know what his company does, if anything.)

Fiona Samouelle's business card from Michael Page (I think she's left too.)

Lincolnshire County Council library card (surely must have expired by now, I haven't used it in a good ten years or more)

One of my own business cards (I don't know how that got into the pile. I had them printed earlier this year to give to people who give me one. They just say "Ben Pridmore, idiot" and my email address)

Nick Rosen the TV director guy's business card, with an American phone number scribbled on it that might be his or someone else's, I don't remember.

Barclaycard (which I only use when I'm abroad and need to stick something in a machine. Usually for train tickets in Germany.)

A book of first class stamps, seven left.

Business card for someone called Branislav Maricic in some language that I'm guessing is Czech. I think it comes from last year's world memory championships, and he's some kind of journalist, but I might be wrong. On the back are some cryptic notes I've written - "Pack o' cards" "Andy" "375001" "David - person" and "8.30" I have no idea what any of them meant, but I hope I found them useful at some time.

Alina Lord's business card from Nord Anglia PLC. She was one of the former employees at Cheadle who taught me most of what I know about my current job. She was (and presumably still is) Transylvanian and a lot of fun. This card has lots of phone numbers and things scribbled on it - I was using it to record everything important when I first started there.

Lim Teck Hoe's business card from Maximum Recall. He's the Malaysian guy who organised the 2003 WMC and was going to be organising this year's until it all fell through. I've scribbled "445900" on it at some point, for some reason.

Ottakar's book shop Reward Card - get it stamped ten times when you spend £10 or more (before November 2005) and get £15 off future purchases. Woo! It's got one stamp on it.

Mensa membership card. I think this is still valid, I've got a direct debit comes out of my bank account every year, but I didn't tell them my new address when I moved to Derby so I don't get any correspondence.

James Jorasch's business card from Walker Digital Management. The most recent memory guy to give me his card!

Mhairi Fitzpatrick's business card from Michael Page. A hat-trick of Michael Page cards! I think I only spoke to Mhairi once, and she gave me her card anyway.

Midland Bank (yes, Midland, not HSBC, that's how old it is) Pay-In Card. (Came with the British Othello Federation bank stuff when I took over as treasurer. You can only use it to stick in the paying-in machines.)

Burton card, which they gave me the one and only time I've bought anything at Burton's in the last ten years or so (the suit for my dad's funeral. If I ever have occasion to shop there again, I'm sure it'll come in handy.)

I don't think I'll throw anything out, it's kind of fun looking through this stuff and remembering where it came from. I'll keep adding cards to the heap until I can't fit them in a pocket any more.