Saturday, April 05, 2008

Bless me

Yep, I've got a really rotten cold. Achoo! I'm all sneezy and snotty and sicky and it's no fun at all.

Still, I've got another long weekend to get over it - finished at Saint-Gobain on Friday. Granted, it's an unpaid holiday, and it would probably be better to be earning, but yay. Unless I sneeze myself to death at some point.

Friday, April 04, 2008

Celebrity news

All the many fans of The Mentalists might like to know that it's my grandma's birthday on Sunday. She's 88, and it's surprising how difficult it is to find a birthday card with two fat ladies on it. She's also suffering with bronchitis at the moment, so I'm sure she'd appreciate any get-well-soon comments you might like to leave on the blog.

I've also got a rotten cold today, and could do with some get-well-soons. So, I suppose, could Prince Philip, since he's in hospital with a chest infection. Grandma is pleased to be sharing an ailment with the Duke of Edinburgh (who's a year or so younger than her) although she isn't a big fan of his, being of the opinion that he was a lovely, handsome man until around the age of thirty, when he became a miserable old fart. She feels it's the Queen's fault.

Wednesday, April 02, 2008

It's noisy out there

The light has just about completely faded away (yay for British Summer Time!) and I've had my window open, on account of having filled the room with smoke while cooking tea, and the birds outside are making a heck of a racket! It's times like this that I wished I'd paid attention to my dad's occasional lectures on the subject of birds and what they do, so that I could identify which species is making that screeching noise, and which is doing that sort of beeping. That's the kind of thing it's hard to learn without spending your life sitting in hides wearing a hat with twigs sticking out of it, peering through binoculars at tits and boobies.

As for the book-writing, I think I probably am going to at least put together a proposal for the "How To Improve Your Memory" book that that publisher wanted. In fact, I've already got one I wrote waaaay back in 2003, the first time someone asked me to write a book for them, before I decided to turn them down for various reasons that made sense at the time. Maybe I'll dig that up and see how bad it looks.

In the meantime, I've picked out another publisher to try to tempt with How To Be Clever - this will be number 5, and the scores so far are one outright rejection, one no reply (the one I sent the wrong covering letter to), one 'we'll print a book by you with a similar title if you rewrite it completely' and one 'we're not printing that, but we'll print a memory book by you'.

Tuesday, April 01, 2008

A poem in which dinner, interrupted by an elephant, illustrates a moral lesson

Young Modestine and Pamela and Fortitude and John
Were dining at the table on a meal of roasted swan
When from without there came a crash that caused the walls to shake
And plaster from the ceiling fell and spoiled the simnel-cake.

"Great heavens!" bellowed Fortitude, and ripped off all his clothes,
"God's genitals! By Christopher!" and other suchlike oaths,
"It seems to me the very world is being torn to bits!
Be quick and make your peace with God or suffer Hell's foul pits!"

"Don't talk such rot," said Pamela, an atheistic lass,
"Like many earthquakes have before, this one will swiftly pass."
But then again from outside echoed such a frightful clang
That Fortitude with panicked loudness rang for Jones, his man.

"The tiger-trap," the butler said, "was baited with a plant,
And not with meat, and so, of course, ensnared an elephant.
The gentle herbivore passed by and stopped to take a bite -
The trap was sprung, down came the cage and now behold its plight!"

"That will be all," said Fortitude. "Wait! Go and fetch my gun!
For now we have the beast caged up, let's have a bit of fun!"
"By cracky, yes!" cried Pamela, "Go, fetch my gun as well!
And though the place does not exist, let's blow the brute to Hell!"

Said Modestine "I don't approve of harming living things
(Except those horrid, nasty swans that hit one with their wings).
I think that what we should do is just let the poor brute free,
For do not all the beasts of Earth deserve such rights as we?"

"By no means does an elephant deserve the rights of man!"
Screamed Fortitude, who took his gun, "For God's almighty plan
Was ever that the man should kill all creatures great and small,
In payment of the debt they've owed since Noah saved them all!"

"I must concur," said Pamela, "though talk of God is daft,
For all religions great or small do naught but make me laugh,
Yet we whom evolution made the lords of all the Earth
Have every right to kill or maim a beast of lesser worth."

But Modestine was adamant and, taking up an axe,
She vowed to free the elephant from both her friends' attacks.
She cleaved in twain the tiger-trap, and out the monster flew -
But tragically it flew straight at the rifle-toting two.

And neither fervent prayers nor screams availed them in the least
As Fortitude and Pamela were crushed beneath the beast.
And as it fled into the hills sans backward glance or halt,
Poor Modestine could only say "I fear this is my fault."

"Indeed," said John, who seldom spoke, "though now we'll have some peace,
With jumbo gone and those two dead, their squabbling will cease.
But had you kept your big mouth shut and let them have their will,
The Christian and godless both would now be living still."

And so the moral of this tale is clearly to be seen:
When choosing guests for dinner, never ask a Modestine.
A difference of religion comes to nothing in the end,
But one who won't shoot elephants should never be your friend.

Monday, March 31, 2008

So many offers...

Why is it that nobody wants to publish How To Be Clever, but everybody wants to publish a different book by me? I had the 'teach yourself' people wanting it completely rewritten in their style (basically changing everything except the title), and I've had another email today saying no, we don't want HTBC, but we'd love a 'How To Improve Your Memory' book from you. The world is full of Improve Your Memory books, for flip's sake! The point of HTBC was that it's something a bit different from the books already on the shelves! Does nobody want that kind of thing except me?

Sigh... I might just write both those unsatisfactory things, rather than keep pestering people to print the good book. It's too much hassle.

As for the day job, I'll be finishing this month-long temp job I'm doing at the moment in a week or so, but the company have another job to offer me, more number-crunching of a fairly basic kind, but it'd be something to do. Different building on the same site, though, so I'd probably have to vacate my little office and share one in the more modern building.

Like the books thing, neither of these jobs are really the kind of thing I'm looking for. The research thing is a more junior kind of position than I've had before, and they're both a lengthy cycle ride from anywhere I might be able to cycle from.

Would someone out there please offer me a good job, and publish my book in the way I want it to be published? Is that too much to ask?

Sunday, March 30, 2008

Galactic memory update

Heed my words, puny earthlings! I have travelled many light years to find you -- and to bring you a message from Kurrgo, Master of Planet X!

No, sorry, got confused there, because I've been reading old Fantastic Four comics. I meant to say Heed my words, puny earthlings! I just wanted to spell out for the benefit of those who read my blog but not the memory newsgroup, and yet are still interested in memory competitions, what is happening over the next few months:

Sunday 4 May - Cambridge Memory Championship, Trinity College Cambridge, national standard competition - 5 min words, 5 min binary, 5 min names, 15 min numbers, 10 min cards, 5 min numbers, abstract images, historic dates, spoken numbers (100 & 200), speed cards. This is going to be a bigger event than the last two Cambridge championships, judging by the number of entries and interested people so far - and the location is much, much better too! Entry fee £5, beginners free. and

Saturday/Sunday May 24/25 - Derby Memory Championship, Derby, international standard - 30 min numbers, 30 min cards, 30 min binary, historic dates, spoken numbers (100, 200, 300), abstract images, 15 min names & faces, 5 min numbers, 15 min words, speed cards. I'm competing in this one myself now, just to keep you informed - thanks to James Paterson for creating the memorisation papers, and Phil
Chambers and other volunteers for running the show on the day. Entry fee £10, beginners free.

Friday/Saturday July 25/26 - German Memory Championship, Tuttlingen, international standard - 30 min numbers, 30 min cards, 30 min binary, historic dates, spoken numbers (100, 200, 300), abstract images, 15 min names & faces, 5 min numbers, 15 min words, speed cards. Same great location as last year, I'm sure it'll be a fantastic competition! Entry fee not on the website yet, it's normally around €30, which includes lunch and an evening memory performance event.

Saturday/Sunday August 16/17 - UK Memory Championship, Simpsons-in- the-Strand, London, national standard - 5 min words, 5 min binary, 5 min names, 15 min numbers, 10 min cards, 5 min numbers, abstract images, historic dates, spoken numbers (100 & 200), speed cards. A national standard, but over two mornings rather than a whole day like usual. So plenty of time for sightseeing in London! Entry fee £20, or
£40 including a gala dinner.

And I hope to see lots of you there! The Derby championship will be filmed by ITV as part of the latest documentary on the subject, so this is your chance to star in my next TV appearance!