Saturday, August 18, 2007

I'm gonna live forever

I now get 185 pages on a google search for my name, and most of them are about me. Now that's fame.

I did the interview with the Mail this morning - they also wanted to photograph me in the Brazilian Mystery Cloak, which is going to become more famous than the hat at this rate (assuming I find a new hat). I can envisage my clothing having fights and not speaking to one another.

Friday, August 17, 2007

Weekend plans

Memory, memory and more memory, with a bit of being interviewed and a bit of cleaning up the flat if I'm good. I've made significant strides in cleaning up the living room tonight, after a good solid chunk of memory practice, so who knows what I might achieve if I keep this up?

Two weeks till the world championships! Woo!

Thursday, August 16, 2007

I don't care if it's technically summer!

All the shops that might be expected to sell me a new black fedora or similar are only selling 'summer hats' - either straw hats or floppy cloth ones. This is disgraceful. Yes, wearing a big black hat in the summer sun is uncomfortable and not something that any sane person would do, but why are the shops so prejudiced against the insane? I'm going to have to go to Bahrain wearing one of the straw cowboy hats I've had sitting in my flat since that cowboy murder party years ago (the straw hat I bought in Stuttgart got ruined last Sunday when the TV people decided it would be cool to film me cycling in the rain). I'm not sure the straw cowboy hats are good memory hats - I can prop my stopwatch up on them, but it sometimes falls over. It doesn't do that with a good hat. I need a big black hat. Maybe someone else will leave one on a train so I can steal it?

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

I've forgotten something

I was going to write something specific tonight, and I'm pretty sure it was going to be about memory. But I've forgotten what it was.

So instead, I'd like to make a job offer - I would gladly pay someone to say no to other people on my behalf. I didn't manage to turn down the Daily Mail - I explained that I'm very busy lately what with work and the world championships coming up, but it ended up with me cheerfully agreeing that the writer can come round on Saturday morning to talk to me. And I really need to be training all weekend too, since next weekend I've agreed to parade in front of the TV cameras again even though that's the last weekend before the WMC and I really, really, really need to be training all that weekend.

Also, I have neither cancelled the interview on Friday nor asked my current employers for the morning off. I like to adopt the attitude that if I don't do anything, the whole situation will sort itself out to my satisfaction somehow anyway. Strangely enough, it usually does, too.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

What to do?

I've been offered an interview for a rather cool job in Burton-on-Trent on Friday morning. It's something that's been in the pipeline since before I started the job I'm at now in Nottingham - they wanted to interview me while I was in Germany, then the boss went on holiday and now they still want to see me. So they're at least a little bit impressed by my CV. Which is weird, really, since they job spec asks for a graduate, with experience of the strange accounting software they use (which I've never even heard of before now). But like I say, it sounds like a good job, and it pays rather significantly more than the one I'm doing right now.

On the other hand, the one I'm doing right now is a nice enough job, pays enough to keep me going and they've been very generous in letting me take time off to go to Bahrain right in the middle of when I should be producing the year end accounts (as an aside, I have to stop getting jobs with companies with a financial year end in July and August - it's always going to clash with the WMC), and I'd feel bad about taking Friday morning off to go to an interview for another job.

I've already said yes to the interview, because as you might remember I find it impossible to say no to people, so I'm going to let somebody down one way or the other. Maybe I'll hire an actor to impersonate me at either the interview or the job. Or two actors, to do both! Then I can stay at home and watch cartoons all day! Or ooh, even better, I'll hire a third actor to stay at home and watch cartoons all day, while I go out and rob banks, safe in the knowledge that I have three cast-iron alibis!

Monday, August 13, 2007

Some forever, not for better

I've said it before, but it bears saying again - the old house looks so SMALL! I still can't get over the whole perspective issue. The whole of Tumby Woodside seems to have shrunk, in fact (and it was never exactly big in the first place). But number 2, Chapel Road, especially.

The place has changed completely since I last saw it - the front hedge is three times as tall, so you can't see the house from the road. There's a new fence that stops you seeing through to the back garden, there's a new brick porch around the front door, and what used to be the lawn is now all gravel. And TINY! It's a few steps from one end to the other of what used to be the lawn - it used to be big enough for a full-scale football game (if I could bully my brother into playing football with me). While Nick was talking to the current owner's father and preparing to film me going into the house for the first time, I was picking out the few bits and pieces that are still the same - the bit of concrete marking one side of the driveway, the cherry blossom tree (now surrounded by other plants rather than standing on its own), the little hole at the corner of the hedge that you can hide in if you're small enough, the old roof tiles that don't match the newer ones on the other houses in the row (my dad didn't want to waste the money on getting them replaced - a decision vindicated by the fact that apparently they've just started leaking in the last couple of months). There wasn't much, and it was all too small, but it was good to see the few little familiar bits.

The house has just been bought by a London policewoman called Alex. She's still in London until she gets promoted to sergeant, when she'll be able to relocate to Lincolnshire. And judging by the dumbbells in the bedroom, you won't want to tangle with her when she does - I couldn't life them with both hands! So the house is pretty much empty right now, just a few bits of furniture, all the wallpaper's stripped off and it's waiting to be redecorated all over. It was Alex's father, Ron, who let us in and obligingly waited in his car while the TV crew did all the filming. She also has a brother who was in The Boot Street Band. The pictures and knick-knacks that are in the house already are all police-themed.

But the previous owners have done a heck of a lot of things to the inside of the house - for some reason they've blocked off the door between the lounge and dining room and knocked another one through at the other end of the wall. The fireplace that my dad built himself is all gone, and there's just a few scraps of the old wallpaper on the lounge walls. What used to be the dining room is now a kitchen, and what used to be the tiny kitchen is now a sort of study. They've moved the back door along the wall too, and replaced it with French windows. The bathroom's still the bathroom, but the fixtures have all been replaced. I was just marvelling at how small the rooms were - how did we fit the piano, record player, sofas, armchair, TV, shelves and things into the lounge and still have so much space? How did we enact so many epic Action Force adventures in the minimal floor space of the dining room? And yes, the kitchen was always cramped, but it doesn't look like it could ever have fitted the sink, wasing machine, cooker, fridge, freezer and a bit of space to walk between them.

And upstairs, my bedroom looked like a cupboard! No furniture in it at all, but it's so tiny now, I couldn't believe it. Likewise my brother's room, although the view out to the kitchen roof is familiar - nobody's replaced the tiles there, either, even the couple that are broken or the wrong shape. Funnily enough, the only room I didn't get the shrinking feeling is my dad's room - obviously, because that's the one room in the house I didn't spend much time in when I was little. It's weird, but that room is still the size I remember.

And as for the garden - there's a wooden summer-house out on the front, the old brick shed is still there but the garage and bike shed are gone. The grass is neatly cut and flat, there's no blackberry bushes. The hedges there are also ten feet high - the previous owners really liked their privacy - and there's a new row of tall trees hiding the back garden from anyone in the fields behind. But duck behind the trees and there's a couple of feet of the garden I remember, overgrown and wild, before the wooden fence which, wonderfully, still has the rusty metal pole tied to it. I never knew what that pole was for, but you could hold onto it and stand on top of the fence in the corner of the garden where we had our base (Bjorn House, with "Bjorn" pronounced in a strictly English way). I looked for the old wooden flooring, but it's either gone or overgrown.

It was a strange experience - tiny bits of the house are still the same, the rest is so different it's scary. I still sort of think of it as the place where my dad's living, and I can pop down to see him any time. It's weird to see that it hasn't just stayed the same all these years...

Sunday, August 12, 2007

This old house once rang with laughter, this old house heard many shouts

Actually, I'm too tired and headachy to write at length about my trip to my old house tonight - I've only just got home and I've got to be up early tomorrow for work. So I'll leave it till tomorrow except to say that it genuinely looks so much smaller now, I was amazed! Especially since I lived there till I was twenty, brief dalliances with university aside, and visited it frequently until I was 23. I haven't grown significantly since then, as far as I know, so why do I remember the place being so much bigger?

Instead, I'll post tonight that the prize fund for the World Memory Championship has just been announced (woo!) and there are very nice prizes for the top ten competitors (double woo!). I quote:

The total prize fund will be US$ 30,000.

This will be divided in the following way.

The World Memory Champion 2007 will receive US$10,000

The Silver Medallist will receive US$ 5,000

The Bronze Medallist will receive US$ 3,000

Competitors achieving 4th to 10th place in the competition with each

receive US$1,000

I am sure you will agree that this exciting news will dramatically raise the profile

of the Mind Sport of Memory and contribute to making the 2007 World Championships

in Bahrain the best yet.

Our grateful thanks go to Shaikh Hamad and Intelnacom for their tremendous support

Presumably the remaining $5,000 will be embezzled by someone in a position of power. But even if the prize fund is actually only $25,000, that still makes it the biggest ever by a long way! And since so few of the world's best memorisers will be turning up, anyone who can scrape together the cash for a flight to Bahrain stands a very good chance of making back a good part of the cost. Hopefully this'll inspire a few last-minute entries (and hopefully the WMSC don't really mean it when they say registrations close a month before the competition, because that's just silly).