Saturday, January 06, 2007

The fruit bowl

EastEnders is so unrealistic sometimes. I've seen the last couple of episodes, for the first time in ages, and the conversation between Martin and Sonia really should have gone like this:

Sonia: Yeah, sorry, Martin, I did sort of kill your mother. My mistake.

Martin: Oh, that's okay. If memory serves, I killed your boyfriend a few years ago before we got married, so this makes us even.

I mean, why don't soap opera people just forgive and forget every now and then? It's no wonder they're so unhappy.

Friday, January 05, 2007

Tom Walton's Schooldays

As is probably compulsory for old school friends getting together, we've been reminiscing about the people we knew, teachers we liked and disliked, nationally famous comedians who we didn't really technically know so much as admire when he did brilliant comedy routines in assemblies and school shows but was three years above me so we weren't actually friends or anything, memorable chess competitions in Scunthorpe where it took Dr Chambers three hours to find the school, us twenty minutes to be soundly thrashed in all our games and the rest of the evening to find the way home again.

It occurs to me that all our school friends who we might want to look up on Google have spectacularly unexceptional names. How do you search for Tom Walton, James Richardson and Richard Taylor? Why can't people retroactively have the decency to have unusual surnames like Pridmore or Bickerdyke-Throgmorton? It probably wouldn't take too much work to find them, to be perfectly honest - Jimmy at least is on Friends Reunited, so it would just be a matter of paying however much they charge, sending him a message and hoping he gets it. Tom was last heard of joining the army, so it would be simple enough to declare war on everyone and everything and insisting on surrendering personally to him when the tanks roll up. And while we know nothing about Slosh's career after he left school, I definitely remember him having a pet cat, so we would just have to learn to speak cat-language and track him down through the global feline network. All cats know each other.

Thursday, January 04, 2007

North of the border, down Edinburgh way

Live from Scotland! What other blog brings you that? Probably no other blog in the whole universe. I'm in Dave's living room, sharing my sleeping accommodations with Dylan the rabbit and a tank full of little fish. Which I'm assuming will be quieter than Crispy and Sleepy's hamsters, but you never know. Perhaps they're the kind of fish who have wild parties when the lights go off.

I haven't seen Dave, formerly known as Noddy, for something like six years, and he very unfairly hasn't physically changed even a tiny bit in that time, whereas I've gone all bald and bearded. We've spent the evening playing chess - normal chess, rifle chess, chess with grasshoppers instead of queens, five-leapers instead of knights and reflecting bishops - just like we used to waste our schooldays. It all comes flooding back. It's like we're stuck in a time loop, a never-ending time loop (that's an in-joke that only the two of us would get, so why I'm publishing it in this blog without explanation I can't imagine).

And tomorrow I'm going to explore the big city while Dave and Abi are at work, and see what kind of cartoon videos the charity shops of Edinburgh have to offer. And I only feel a tiny bit guilty about taking a break from the memory training/book writing routine after three days.

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

Over my shoulder a piano falls

I had a long phone conversation today with a TV producer - yet another prospective Channel 4 documentary about memory competitions. Still, one of them's sure to come to fruition one of these days, and this one sounds quite hopeful. We were talking for more than an hour, I think, although that's probably more of a testimony to my ability to waffle on and on about nothing than anything else.

Anyway, I'm off north of the border tomorrow, visiting my long-lost friend Dave who I haven't seen for years and years. So I probably won't post anything here till I come home next Monday (I don't know why I feel the need to mention that here, I just have visions of disappointed legions of fans tuning in to see my latest words of wisdom every day). I haven't been to Scotland since new year 2001, I think it was. I've only been to Wales once, and that was an accident. I need to broaden my horizons a bit more, I know.

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

Another one for the gallery

It's a strange time of year for people to be giving ancient cartoon videos to charity shops. Unwanted Christmas presents from 2006, yes, but this one I found today surely wasn't a recent gift. Or maybe it was, and the generous giver seriously misjudged the recipient. Still, for whatever reason, this wonderful Marc-illustrated masterpiece turned up in the Oxfam shop here in Derby at some point in the last couple of weeks, and I quickly snaffled it up. Another 'Vidage' release, and since this one is volume three, it's possible that there are others out there. I'll have to keep an eye open. It's bad art, even by Marc's standards, I have to say. I know that sounds nasty, but I honestly do admire him really.

And if you think I've been doing nothing but collecting cartoons in 2007 so far, shame on you. I've done a heck of a lot of memory training the last two days. I've got a pretty exhausting schedule, but if I keep it up until the world championships, I'll walk it. I've also been writing the book, and that's going quite well too. I'm almost doing as much work as I intended to do, which is a good start.

Although I am going to take a well-deserved holiday on Thursday when I go up to Edinburgh for a long weekend. That's the good thing about being unemployed.

Monday, January 01, 2007


Didja see it? Huh? Did you? The climax of "The Sarah Jane Adventures" tonight hinged on memorising a big long number! Who says this whole memory thing has no real-life applications? If not for memory skills, the whole planet would have been taken over by aliens! Hey, do you think they stole the idea from my movie synopsis the other month?

Of course, if we're going to be just a tiny bit picky, I could point out that the number Luke mutters to himself while typing it into the communicator wasn't the same one that he heard earlier in the show, so technically the Bane should have killed them all and gone on to subvert the human race, but never mind. I liked this. A lot. I think it's going to be a very fun series. Elisabeth Sladen is brilliant in the Doctor role as the eccentric investigator, and she has good support from the young co-stars (although Porsha Lawrence-Mavour, playing the least important of the three kids' roles, seems to be the best actor by some distance - they're all quite acceptable, though).

Hopefully for the series proper they'll ease off on stories where almost the whole Earth's population fall under the mental control of the aliens, because we've had quite a lot of those just lately. Also it would be nice if they'd ease off on the CGI monsters - tonight's episode had one infuriating little moment when the alien chases our heroes up the stairs and runs right over a hat hanging on the bannister without moving it at all. That's just sloppy. Besides, I like to see a guy in a monster suit - the actors seem to react better when they can see what they're supposed to be reacting to. And while I'm criticising, Sarah Jane goes to great lengths to investigate the mystery drink, even getting scientist friends to analyse it for her, but never thinks to point her alien-life-detector watch at it!

Enough nit-picking. Like I said, I really liked this, and I think it might be a big success. But then, I like Torchwood, and that seems to be getting very mixed reviews. I'll have to try to redress the balance by raving about it after tonight's final two episodes. Well, I'll wait until they've been on BBC2 on Wednesday in case any of my devoted and non-Sky-having readers are still watching.

Sunday, December 31, 2006

The most powerful man in the universe!

The whole New Year thing, as well as Auld Lang Syne, fireworks and Jools's Annual Hootenanny, means the annual World's Strongest Man competition on telly. The first heat was tonight, and I was watching it avidly as usual. In many ways, you know, strong man contests are very like memory championships - they have a small core of regular competitors who all seem to be good friends, they involve a range of specific disciplines that the competitors have to train for and that aren't just about pure strength, and the British competitors never win it nowadays. Yes, I just compared myself to Geoff Capes.

It came as something of a surprise to me to see that Mariusz Pudzianowski is 29 years old. I hadn't realised it until I saw the statistic on screen, but I instinctively think of strong men as being older than me. Probably because they're generally a foot taller and twice as heavy as I am, making me automatically think of them as grown-ups. I don't know if that's a universal syndrome, or just something for those like me who have difficulty remembering they're actually adults.

And incidentally, if I see one more advert for Barbie's dog Tanner with genuine excreting action (seriously), I'm going to have to stop watching the cartoon channels quite so much, or possibly just keep a brick handy to throw at the TV screen. Which seems like a good note to end the year on. Happy 2007!