Saturday, March 01, 2008

Dear me

This is twice in the last couple of weeks I've nearly forgotten to write my blog last thing at night. You'd think it would be a matter of routine by now. So I'm forced to dash something off while playing othello and watching football. Tell you what, I'll just write this measly little paragraph tonight, and do a really big and interesting blog entry tomorrow, okay?

Friday, February 29, 2008

I'm a writer!

Woohoo! You all thought I'd never do it, but yes, I've finished the rough draft of How To Be Clever that was going to take me a week or so to put together when I first started talking about it back in 2003 or thereabouts! Wow, what am I going to do with all the time every day that I previously spent not writing my book?

Well, for starters, there's another Online Memory Challenge tomorrow. Please do come along and have fun!

Thursday, February 28, 2008

Yesterday and today

Other things worth mentioning about yesterday - the uni provided biscuits and crisps at the demo. That's a first. And they also put up posters all over the place promising a presentation by "James Paterson, a memory champion". Also, they gave us a bottle of wine, a box of chocolates and a thank-you card. I took the chocolates.

As for today, I found out that I've got a second interview, on Monday, for that job that I really liked the sound of at Gardner Aerospace, so everyone has to cross their fingers for me. But not particularly tightly or fervently, because I've also got a temp job at Saint Gobain Piping out in the wilds near Ilkeston, starting on Tuesday - just for a month, and it's just making sense of badly-recorded payments to customers, but it'll keep me off the streets. And who knows, it might even be fun - it'll be a lot of playing with Excel and reconciling numbers, and I do love that kind of thing. I'd still prefer the Gardner job to work out, though. The 'interview' for this temp job today consisted of me sitting in the boss's office while he told me anecdotes about people he's worked with and then offered me the job. I hardly said two words. Some short-term jobs don't bother with an interview at all, but perhaps he just wanted to know what I look like before he hired me.

Tomorrow, book finished. Weekend, book sent to anyone who wants to read and criticise it for me. Also I might look in to getting it published, but then again I might not. I'm not sure I can really be bothered with that, all I care about at this point is finally doing this thing I've been vaguely meaning to do for so long.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008


I was late going to bed last night, as I always am when I know I need to be up early in the morning, so I was just dozing off at just before one o'clock in the morning, when I was woken up again by the bed shaking. It only lasted a few seconds, but it was really weird - I've never felt an earthquake before. So that's another thing I can add to my list of life experiences.

If there hadn't been an earthquake last night, this blog would have been called "Green Egs And Ham", because we went to Royal Holloway University in Egham today for another memo demo. This one went really well - sixty people rather than six, and they all seemed to have a good time. And I won the journey-home Tetris tournament 43-23.

And tomorrow it's another middle-of-nowhere interview, for a temp job this time. It's a hectic life, considering I'm unemployed. But progress is still being made with the book. Friday, definitely, final deadline, all finished. Probably.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Well, I think it's a silly name

Breedon-on-the-Hill is sort of on a hill, I suppose. It's higher up than the villages around it, anyway. But the thing is, there's another, larger hill right behind it. So if you stand in Breedon and look north, it looks like you're actually down at the bottom of a hill. When I go to a village that has 'on-the-Hill' as part of its name, I expect to be able to look downwards from all directions!

Apart from that, it's a very nice place - one of those old-fashioned, impossibly picturesque places that looks too timeless to be real. I had lunch in a pub where even a five-foot-eight man like me has to duck low roof beams all over the place. Even the aggregates-and-building-materials company I was being interviewed at has its head office in the old manor house, Breedon Hall. It's all very pretty.

The job doesn't impress me so much now I know more about it, though. To be honest, I'd rather not get this one.

Monday, February 25, 2008


Today's trip to Birmingham University got off to a cracking start. I realised when I got to the train station that I'd left my hat at home. This is, obviously, preferable to leaving it on the train, but it was still annoying, especially since Emma from ITV was coming to film the memo demo, as a taster for the genius documentary. I get very few opportunities to wear my poor hat on TV without people complaining that it shadows my face because of the bright studio lights. Still, I managed to meet up with James and catch our train without any real difficulty, and we spent the short trip up to Birmingham discussing various memory-related topics.

As we were getting off the train at New Street, the man who'd been sitting opposite us and listening in on our conversation said "Excuse me, isn't that your bag?" I'd very nearly left my trusty rucksack, containing my laptop, on the overhead rack. "And you're the memory man!" added the observant gentleman. He obviously thought we'd just been having him on about the whole memory thing. I don't know which would have been more devastating, the loss of my expensive laptop or the loss of my beloved falling-to-pieces rucksack.

Waiting for Emma in the pub at New Street station, we had a go on a quiz machine. One of the questions it posed us was "Who won the men's Wimbledon championship in 1975?"

I grinned at James, who has memorised all the post-war Wimbledon winners for the purposes of our university demos, and said "Hah, great question!" He replied "Um..."

He did get it, just in the time limit, so we both avoided a lot of memory-related embarrassment before the demonstration started. We met up with Emma, got down to the university, prepared our powerpoint demonstrations, had lunch, met up with Other James, found the room and were all ready to begin with plenty of time to spare, for a change. Also for a change, nobody from the university staff came to talk to us. James had been dealing with a Jo, and he did speak to him/her/it on the phone once, briefly, but otherwise we were left to our own devices entirely.

It then turned out that the university hadn't advertised the memory performance at all, and they'd scheduled it to start two hours after lectures finished for the day, so nearly everybody had gone home. We got a whopping six people in the audience, two of whom had to leave early for a seminar. So, all in all, not the best of our demonstrations to have Emma filming. Nonetheless, it all went well. We educated and astounded, as usual, and of the brave six who knew the event was happening and hung around to watch it, at least a couple were very enthusiastic about memory, keen to take part in the upcoming university championship, and happy to spread the good word. So I'd still say the day was a success. Who knows, we might have a future world champion there!

And no long train journeys or overnight stays, either. All universities should be so close to Derby. Tomorrow, I've got this interview in Breedon-on-the-Hill, the most isolated and difficult-to-get-to place in the world. Still, beggars and unemployed accountants who need the money can't be choosers, and it's a good job with good pay. Maybe I could relocate to somewhere closer. Or learn how to teleport instantly from place to place.

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Enormous throbbing pens

Another reason why I need a job is because I need to be able to steal pens from the office. I get through biros at a terrible rate - they either disappear or mysteriously break in half when I experiment with them to see how far they'll bend before they break. I bought a couple recently, and now I can't find the things. This is all the more annoying, because there are only two places I ever put pens - on my desk where I memorise things, or on the kitchen counter where I leave whatever I empty out of my pockets. Or occasionally here on the settee if I have occasion to write anything when I'm watching telly or talking on the phone. And yet the things disappear. Perhaps they're running away before I accidentally break them in half.

And no, the book isn't finished. But it is very, very nearly finished and I've done a lot of work on it today and it'll be finished very, very soon! Now I must go, the football's on telly.