Thursday, September 18, 2008

Well, I did it.

I bought a new rucksack. I hated to do it, but I had to face facts - my beloved old rucksack is now essentially just a scrap of cloth that, at best, can be wrapped around things and carried in my arms without dropping too much stuff from it. It's not actually going to be possible to take my clothes, cards, toothbrush and other memorisation accessories on the plane to Paris in my old rucksack.

This is terribly sad, but I suppose I have had fourteen years of loyal service from my rucksack, and before that it put in a good three or four years carrying my brother's PE kit to school. Maybe I'll give it back to him now, seeing as I borrowed it temporarily from him in autumn 1994, or maybe just keep it in my box of treasured memories.

Apart from buying a rucksack, incidentally, I am completely and totally unprepared for the French Memory Open, or whatever it's called. I've done no training, I haven't planned out what journeys I'm going to use or how much I'm going to attempt in each discipline, I haven't even printed out my e-ticket details, map to the hotel in Maisons-Laffitte and useful stuff like that. I don't really feel like I'm going to be getting up early tomorrow to get the train down to Birmingham airport, then spending a day in Paris. I'm sure I will, but I'm surprisingly underprepared. We'll just have to see what happens.

And you, blog readers, will just have to see me on Sunday, because I won't be blogging till then. Au revoir!

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Get off your back, go into town, don't let them down

One thing they do at Boots is encourage head office staff to go out into real live stores and help out on occasion. So that's what I've been doing today, back in Derby. It's really groovy - in all my varied jobs over the years, I've never actually worked in a shop before, so this is all new and exciting.

Nobody in the store recognised me (my fame might just possibly be fading here) but when I went for lunch someone did ask me "Excuse me, are you off the telly?" I like that phrasing better than the more common "Did I see you on the telly?". Being 'off the telly' suggests that I'm a regular TV star, rather than a subject of a one-off documentary. It's a subtle point of linguistics, but very flattering.

(It occurs to me that any foreigners reading this could use it as a local-dialect lesson, if they ever come to this part of the world.)

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

I have this conversation a lot these days



"Remember me?"

"Um... no."

"Steve Barker [or possibly Chris Barton, or something along those lines]. I was in your brother's year at school. How can you not remember me? You're a famous memory man, I've seen you on TV!"

See, the non-famous-memory-men-and-women of the world have me at a real disadvantage now. They know all about me from my many TV appearances, whereas I, with my famous inability to remember names and faces, know nothing about them. And yet it's me who ends up looking stupid! I tells ya, it's tough being a celebrity.

Anyway, I don't remember any Chris/Steve/something-similar Barker/Barton/something-like-that being friends with my brother. I didn't pay much attention to those little urchins in his year, but I knew all his closest friends, I thought. I should be at least vaguely aware of the existence of someone who, when told that our grandma lives in Chilwell like he does now, observes 'oh, is she still around? I remember Joe used to go to Chilwell to see her on his holidays...'

Perhaps he's some kind of conman. Or perhaps I'm just really, really bad at remembering names and faces.

Monday, September 15, 2008

We are the world

Following on from last night's entry, I also have the same kind of feelings about the world championship as I do about the French. Apart from the bit about how it hinders my training for the world championship, of course, because that would just be silly. But I'm not really all fired up about the WMC at the moment, and I haven't done anywhere near the amount of training that I should, with one thing and another. Turnout is going to be pretty low this year, with plenty of people who could just about afford one trip to Bahrain not being able to make it an annual holiday, and a probable lack of Gunther and all the other previous world champions. I'm told that there might be even more Chinese competitors this time round, but I haven't seen a list of names yet, and the one of them who I'm friends with isn't going to be there. I just worry that the whole thing's going to be a bit of a flop.

Still, this shouldn't stop me getting into some serious training. I need to knuckle down and get my brain in gear, quick. Shame I've got Paris this weekend, Sheffield next weekend for the othello, a brotherly visit the weekend after, and then we're practically in Bahrain already, even without the inevitable BBC-pestering that's also going to happen. I have a feeling I'm not going to win again this year.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

So this is gay Paree, come on along with me!

It's the first ever French memory championship next weekend, in Maisons-Laffitte, near Paris. I'm going along, although to be perfectly honest I think I might prefer not to be - it's a very small competition that few people will be coming to, and it's actually more of a hindrance than a help to my preparations for the WMC next month, because I need to be practicing the long disciplines now, not the quick ones we'll be doing in this championship. But still, I said I'd go along, and it'll hopefully spread the word in a country that's remained bafflingly untouched by the spread of competitive memory in Britain, Germany and Austria. With the greatest of respect to Pierre, it would be nice if more than one French person had ever competed in a memory championship, and from the sound of it we might just double that figure next Saturday.

Still, Gaby and Idriz will be there, which will be fun, and I'm going to spend Friday seeing the sights in Paris, which I've never really done before (I've made two flying visits in the past, but never even been to the Eiffel Tower. I mean, I already know what it looks like, but it seems silly to have never been there in person.)