Thursday, October 25, 2007


Bought a new towel today, so I can go swimming without looking like some kind of ragged pauper, and the woman on the till in the textiles shop asked me "Do you want any facecloths to go with that?" I find that quite offensive, actually. It's like saying "You obviously don't wash your face on any kind of regular basis", and not too far removed from spitting on a hanky and wiping my face for me in full view of the public. I suppose that might be a normal thing to say in textiles shops, actually, since I haven't bought towels for many years, but that was my reaction, anyway. I didn't buy any facecloths.

I didn't go swimming, either, but fate was just conspiring against me there, it wasn't my fault. I woke up at 4am for no readily apparent reason, and wondered if it was my subconscious mind prodding me to talk to my friend on the west coast of the USA who'd been wanting to chat with me for a while, and who would most probably be sitting at his computer in the early evening over there right then. So I got out of bed and found that not only was he online, he'd just sent me a message five minutes before, so naturally we had to have a quick chat. Two and a half hours later, he went to bed and I figured there wasn't much point in me going back to sleep. By nine o'clock I'd changed my mind, since I was feeling like I might fall asleep on the floor at any moment, so I went back to bed and slept till one in the afternoon.

I REALLY need to get a job. This can't be a good way to carry on. My body clock's all out of whack now. Although that might be a good thing - I'm going to Manchester this weekend for my late birthday party, we're all renting a house for the weekend and going to bed at unusual hours is very much the norm at these things.

Might not blog again till Sunday, we'll see - I might bring my laptop with me and share some enlightening drunken ramblings with my loyal readers in a quiet moment.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

My bank has become a trendy wine bar

The HSBC in Derby is closing down and moving to a much smaller building down the road, some time next year. It's a real shame, because it's a really impressive big stone bank building of the kind that you practically never see still being banks any more. But apparently it's about ten times bigger than modern banks need, with all this work-of-the-devil internettery and cashpoint machines, so they're selling it.

Maybe the new owners will turn it into a swimming pool. That'll be convenient for me, seeing as I'm the kind of fitness fanatic who goes swimming every day, starting tomorrow. Remember that resolution I made last week to lose a small amount of weight in the next month? Well, swimming is the answer. I would have started today, only I haven't got a decent towel that isn't falling to pieces, and it looked like rain, and it was a bit chilly, and I'd got a new book to read. But tomorrow, definitely.

And I'm also going to write my book tomorrow, too.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Doncaster, synaesthesia and kitty-cats

There can't be many blogs that offer you all three of those in one night.

You may remember that a month or so ago, I wrote about how I'd decided to go to Doncaster, on the grounds that it's quite nearby and I've never been there before. Well, it occurred to me today that I HAVE been to Doncaster, at least once, for an othello championship. It was the nationals, back in 2003, I think, and I played extremely badly. There was also probably a regional in the same place that I went to, as well. It's a good thing that I didn't end up going to Doncaster and expecting it to all be new to me, or I would have been deeply disappointed.

Or maybe not. You never know, since my mind works in strange ways. It's the Champions League football tonight, and I recently found myself thinking that it's unfortunate that Manchester United and Arsenal are playing one night this year, and Chelsea and Liverpool the next, since Man U and Arsenal are very similar teams to each other, as are Chelsea and Liverpool, so viewers who prefer one or the other type of team don't get to watch both their games. I contemplated writing this in my blog, and started trying to put into words exactly why these pairs of teams are alike, and the best I could come up with was that Man U and Arsenal are sort of like a big red cube, whereas Chelsea and Liverpool are more like some kind of wavy line. It makes sense in my brain. Chelsea and Liverpool are very much like the letter C in that respect, whereas the others are more like B or D. I suppose this is the synaesthesia in my family that I've always said I haven't got. Ah well, I'll have to stop denying it in future.

Doncaster is an anagram of 'on red cats'. If you want to read up on red cats, and other kinds, you could certainly do worse than check out, a site that's just been set up by a friend of mine. This is an unpaid advertisement, there has been no bribery involved whatsoever, so as a personal favour to me, please go over there and click a google ad or two, even if you loathe and detest cats.

If you loathe and detest cats, by the way, what are you doing being friends with me? I love cats. How dare you say such nasty things about them?


Monday, October 22, 2007

I'm number two!

The very worst, most unoriginal thing you can do with a blog is link to an interesting story on the BBC News website, so in the spirit of that, here is an article all about the talent English sportspeople and teams have for coming second in major international events. I'm proud to be part of that tradition. Who knows, if we work really hard at publicising the world memory championship, I might end up mentioned in the same breath as Lewis Hamilton and Jimmy White.

Which reminds me that the BBC Sports Review Of The Year is coming up soonish (or at least they're already running ads to encourage people to vote for the Personality Of The Year), and I've always thought it would be nice to get a passing mention for mind sports somewhere in the course of that long, dreary, annual celebration of the year's sporting events (or at least those of the year's sporting events that the BBC has the rights to video footage of). I'm not saying I should win the Sports Personality Of The Year award (although I should), just that it would be cool if they'd do a bit about the likes of chess and bridge and things, by way of contrast to the usual stuff on there. There's plenty of interesting stuff to talk about in the world of British mind sports.

And anyway, I'd be a better winner than Zara bleeding Phillips.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Otara Millionaires Club

Yes, today saw the inaugural Online Memory Challenge, and a lot of fun it was too! Two Englishmen, an Australian, a Norwegian, an Indian and a Latvian brought together by the wonders of the internet to compete against each other in a mini-memory championship without having to leave their homes.

Simon Orton (the Australian) has designed a flabbergastingly magnificent website for the purpose - we had three disciplines, five-minute words, five-minute numbers and speed cards, and all we competitors had to do was log in at the right time, chat while we watched the timer counting down the time to the start, and then start memorising when it told us to. The words/numbers/cards appeared on the screen for five minutes (all in the right format and size for easy competition-standard memorisation), then disappeared to be replaced by the recall page. We typed in the answers, and if you finished early you could click a button, the machine instantly calculated your score, and returned you to the spectator lounge, where you could watch everyone else's recall pages being filled in. And laugh at my inability to remember the word 'fauna' - I reeled off the rest of the words with no problem, and then spent the rest of the recall time staring at the blank space and thinking "I know it was some kind of animal, but what kind?" At the last second I took a wild guess at 'goldfish'. Well, it was close.

And you know what? I think this is the future of memory competitions. Not so much the doing it over the internet part (I like to trust my fellow competitors to play fair, but I don't think I'd be entirely comfortable with having the world championship rely on people not sneakily writing down what had appeared on screen), but the computerised aspect. I've always been sceptical when people have suggested doing it all on computers before, but the OMC has converted me. Simon's program worked so smoothly and perfectly, completely without human intervention once the competition had started, that I now believe it would be possible to do this at a real memory championship without it all going horribly wrong.

I'm looking forward to the next OMC - hopefully it will be bigger and better! (And yes, I won this one).