Saturday, April 04, 2009

Ohhh, my head...

Sorry about last night's unusually brief post. I wasn't planning to go out drinking - for one thing I'm suffering from a terrible cold at the moment - but my brother phoned me and invited me to come out and buy him drinks, and how could I refuse? But I blame the cold virus for the fact that I've had the worst hangover of my life today. I didn't even drink all that much, but I still feel pretty terrible even now, and I'm sure it can't be that I just can't cut the mustard like I used to.

Still, to look on the bright side, while we were loudly singing and carousing and breaking things, a passer-by glared at us and said "Bloody students..." Obviously I still look youthful for a 32-year-old, bald accountant!

Friday, April 03, 2009

Thursday, April 02, 2009

Cambridge! Roll up, roll up!

Okay, this coming weekend is my official emailing-everyone-about-the-Cambridge-Memory-Championship weekend, so here's a little advance warning, just in case anybody wants to email me first and tell me they're definitely coming. Because the 'definites' list consist of a Norwegian, two Swedes, two Germans and an Italian from Tunbridge Wells, so it would be nice to also have a confirmation from some of the British people who've said they're probably coming along.

Wednesday, April 01, 2009

Maybe I should lose weight

Or perhaps it's just the ancient dining chairs this flat came with. Either way, while memorising cards this evening, I tilted my chair back on two legs as I always do, only for it to fall to pieces and drop me comically on the floor. Oliver Hardy couldn't have done it better, I just wish I'd had a camera filming me at the time.

I should get some more chairs this weekend. I've been meaning to get some new furnishings to fill out this semi-furnished flat of mine, perhaps I'll go to SAS Furniture (the strangely military-sounding shop down the road that I've been driven past on the way to Grandma's house for my entire life, but have never gone inside) and splurge on some tacky and tasteless items!

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Just how much of a celeb am I?

Let's just look a bit more closely at last night's "clever celebrities" lineup on Watchdog, and bear in mind that they invited me to be on it only for me to turn them down because of the Welsh Memory Championship. The team consisted of Keith Chegwin, Konnie Huq and Iain Lee. Those are all Real Celebrities! Okay, I'm sure even they would agree that they're not exactly A-list superstars, but they're all unquestionably people who the man on the street would describe as celebrities, rather than people who've been on the telly once or twice. Except possibly Iain Lee, who I had to look up on the internet, but he's got his own radio show, so he must be cool.

And they wanted me on the team too! I'm really chuffed by this. That means I must be a genuine famous person! I'm quite serious, by the way - I realise that there are people in the world who wouldn't consider it a high point in their career to be listed alongside Cheggers and her off Blue Peter, but I really do! This really is fantastic stuff, and I'm all delighted! I wish I'd blown off the memory competition and done Watchdog now...

Monday, March 30, 2009

Other things I've learned recently

Bristol Parkway train station hasn't got a platform 1. Just 2, 3 and 4. Which is groovy, because it reminds me of good old Skegness station, which has six surviving platforms numbered 2 to 7, although only one of them ever gets used. Cardiff Central makes up for this by having a platform 0.

Slightly more interestingly, I had something of a revelation while on my way down to Wales on Friday night. I just thought to myself "You know, actually, the reason I have an aptitude for memory stuff is probably that I've had a lifelong obsession with cartoons, comics and any and all forms of visual storytelling. And the basic principle of memory techniques is to use mental visual storytelling to remember things. Hey, I've never thought of it like that before!" Dai's response when I told him was, I suspect, pretty much what everybody else will be thinking too - "Well, yeah, that's kind of obvious, isn't it?" - but this is a whole new outlook for me. The fundamental interconnectedness of all things amazes me!

STOP PRESS: About five seconds after typing Dai's name there, blow me down if I didn't get an email from him, reminding me that Watchdog was on tonight, and guess who they got for the pub-quiz segment after I turned them down? Keith Chegwin! Wow, I'm cooler than Cheggers! When do I get my own series of Zoomy Plays Pop?

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Cymraeg Chof Chydymgais / Welsh Memory Championship

'm hovercraft ydy llonaid chan llyswennod. I have returned from the land of bilingual traffic signs and train station announcements after a very fun weekend! Ai Ddeudais caech a 'n arddun chorff , afaelech 'i rhago? Wales is certainly an interesting place to visit, and it's funny that I've never found a reason to do it before now. Dwi na 'n bellach heintiedig. The first-ever Welsh memory championship was a big success, even attracting three Welsh competitors (as many UK competitors who turned up for the first UK championship) as well as six outsiders. 'm ddidennau chwala ag ddifyrra! And I did rather better than I'd expected to do, which is reassuring!

It's great to be officially back in the memory-competition season! Ringland Community Centre, near Newport, welcomed a posse of new and old memorisers - a Welsh Team made up of old hand James Paterson, newbie Carl Griffin and new-to-competitions-but-not-to-memorising-cards John Burrows; an English Team of me, Katie Kermode and Ameel Hoque; and a Foreigners Team of Dagfinn Hammar (Norway), Idriz Zogaj (Albanio-Sweden) and Conor Muldoon (Ireland). Plus an all-important organising and arbiting team of Dai, Dai's dad and neighbour Sian, Phil, Warren and (Ameel's girlfriend who mentioned during one conversation that nobody ever spells her name right but who for some reason I didn't ask to tell me the correct spelling, so if this is right I'll be very surprised) Dionne.

I haven't got the final results to hand, so can only rely on my memory, but we started off with a new world record in the 5-minute words, from Katie of course, with 109 (or something close to it). I think that was the only world record of the day, I certainly wasn't up to speed enough to set one, unless there was one in the names and faces right at the end (we did that discipline last, unusually, for technical reasons - the papers needed to be printed out during the competition). I got an 82 in the words, which I was entirely happy with. I moved into the lead after discipline two, 5-minute binary, with a pretty impressive 840, and I think held on to it all the way through from then on. Throughout the competition, I was some distance away from my best, but not as far off as I'd thought I would be - my brain was running slower than it does when I've been training, and I was completely burnt out by the end of the day, but I posted quite acceptable scores in nearly everything.

Katie was a fairly comfortable second place - she's the top contender for next-new-British-World-Champion at the moment, unless she forgets everything during the general excitement of having a baby in August - and Ameel and James were fighting it out all the way through for third, with Ameel ending up on top. Hooray for Team England!

Dai provided floor-space (and even bed-space for me! I'm privileged, on account of I'm the world champion, you see), food, drink and fun for everyone, and organised a cracking weekend. Book your tickets for the next one, this time next year!