Saturday, April 06, 2013

Wa erf?

The Waterfall pub in Derby is now called the Wa erf, according to the big letters on the wall. I suspect someone must have stolen the other four letters - and given what they spell, and that you'd need to be able to reach about twelve feet off the ground to swipe them, all evidence points to someone who's of above average height.

Wednesday, April 03, 2013

The goggle box

While I was too poorly or too busy remembering numbers and things to be sitting in front of the telly, the Easter weekend saw the return of Doctor Who and Jonathan Creek! Yay!

Although the Doctor was pretty good, my thoughts on watching the opening moments went along the lines of "Oh, the whole world in some kind of peril again. Oh, wow, it's wi-fi that's our enemy this time. Didn't we already do sat-navs? Seriously, he's not even pretending he doesn't write these in the car on the way to work any more!" This was followed after the opening titles by "Where did they find that guy? It's not just that he can't act, he sounds like he's never heard anyone act, or talk, before! Meanwhile, the older monk talks like everyone used to in Doctor Who of the sixties. They really ought to do a special episode where all the actors talk like a fifty-year-old BBC drama, that'd be cool!" And then "Wait, the whole opening couple of minutes was just there to justify the clever episode title, wasn't it." And then there was "So how did the hulking great robot get into the upstairs of Clara's house so quickly? What, did it climb up the drainpipe?"

But after that, and after resisting the urge to just fast-forward through it and skip to the end to see the Doctor press the good old 'make everything okay again' button, there were some good points, and I did like the clever revelation that it wasn't the real Doctor who'd broken into the building. Steven Moffat does write the exact same story over and over again, but it's usually entertaining when he does.

But then I can't help thinking "Maybe Doctor Who should try to be Jonathan Creek, just for a change, every now and then?" Because that's a programme that really makes you think "Oh, that's very clever, in a silly kind of way!", which is exactly the kind of thing that Doctor Who strives for a lot of the time. And the Doctor really should be more of an outer space detective, it suits him.

The new Jonathan Creek was just awesome in every way, and there needs to be lots more of it. Particularly Rik Mayall!

Monday, April 01, 2013

Dragon flu

Okay, I'm finally back home in Beeston, a day later than planned! I had to stay an extra night in the hotel in Pontypool, because I was hugely, violently ill all day on Sunday. I did suspect the catering in Llanover, but nobody else was affected, so it must just have been some evil Welsh virus - it was a proper 24-hour thing; having been up all night being sick and generally yucky all day, I woke up at 11pm on Sunday night suddenly feeling a lot better again. I absolutely never get ill, so this whole thing was a bit of a disturbing surprise.

In any case, that's set back my easter-weekend schedule enough that only now do I get to talk about the Welsh Memory Championship 2013! Everybody will have forgotten about it by now...

I got the train to Abergavenny on Saturday morning and cycled to Llanover from there - it's actually only a bit closer to Abergavenny than it is to Pontypool, but I was trying to make sure I didn't get lost, having made that trip last year. It worked, too - I was at Llanover Village Hall well before the start time of nine o'clock! It was only on arriving that I suddenly realised I wasn't wearing my hat, and had to unsuccessfully rack my brains for where it might have been. I eventually concluded that it was back in my hotel room, along with the spare pens I'd cleverly thought to bring along because my favourite biro was running out of ink, but no. I can only assume it's on the train, never to be seen again. Oh well, time to keep the headgear industry in business by buying Hat Number Six, and I'll have to do it before I go to Darmstadt at the end of the month! Maybe I should go back to the fedora, I don't seem to lose those with quite such frequency.

The village hall is a really great location for a memory competition, as I think I might have mentioned last year - it's quiet, there's a little room for arbiters, a kitchen and a big, spacious room for the competition itself. Which is good, because we had a record turnout, something like seventeen competitors, including more newcomers than you could shake a stick at and delegations from Sweden, Norway, Hong Kong and the Phillipines, plus the ever-awesome Dai and Phil to keep the whole thing running smoothly.

We started with names and faces, which didn't go too terribly for me. I'm trying to be a bit more systematic about it nowadays, rather than just looking at the paper and thinking 'right, how am I supposed to remember these things?'. But after that, we went on to five-minute binary, and I did better at that than I've done for many a year! Granted, not quite well enough to get my old world record back, but in fact I got the exact same score, 930, that I did in the golden age of 2008. Next time, I'm sure I'll do even better!

In random words I got an extremely respectable 87, then in 15-minute numbers a sort-of-acceptable five-hundred-and-something, and then five packs in 10-minute cards. Both of which I could improve on, but it's still a lot better than what I was getting this time last year. After a nice buffet lunch which wasn't at all responsible for poisoning me (that was probably McDonald's in the evening), it was five-minute numbers, which was my only completely disastrous result of the day, something awful like 160. I need to get back in the habit of being comfortably able to do 360, error-free, every time.

Anyway, I was roughly neck-and-neck with Jonas all the way through, but he moved ahead with one of his usual earth-shattering scores in abstract images, which I can definitely get better at with a little more practice, and beating me in historic dates, which I really should get good at again. We both got 100 in spoken numbers - that's the kind of thing that happens a lot when there are just two trials, of 100 and 400 digits - and so he had a lead of about 250-ish points going into speed cards.

We both did a 40-something-second first trial, then I came thiiiiiiis close (imagine me holding my finger and thumb really really close together) to winning it at the last, with a 26.88-second pack where I annoyingly switched the order of a pair of images right at the end. Oh well. So Jonas breaks my unstoppable Welsh Open winning streak! Much deserved, of course, and all the more motivation for me to try to win it back next year! John Burrows was overall-third and new Welsh Champion, beating last year's winner (and only other Welsh competitor) James Paterson. Dai had arranged some awesome medals - the international-competitor ones had a Welsh dragon made up of flags of all nations on them! - and Phil Peskett (one of those newcomers I mentioned) accompanied the prize ceremony by playing triumphant music on the piano. It was almost as stylish a ceremony as at the World Championship, and lasted for less than six hours!

Anyway, sorry for the cursory and entirely-me-centric review, but I'll be back on form shortly. Going to have some chicken soup now, not that I'm feeling all that much like eating, but I'm pretty sure I read somewhere that going 48 hours without any kind of nutrition is bad for you. Cymru am byth!