Thursday, 30 August 2007

Man vs Nature; The Road to Victory

So, the much anticipated update. The thrills and spills of last week included live music, stomach bacteria and a spot of extreme g
ardening – though not all at once.

On Monday I went with Jeff “My Wang Is Black As The Night” McDeath and Charlie to The Thekla, to see Tokyo Police Club – a curious indie band from Canada. Charlie and I thought they were pretty good, but Jeff – who regards himself as the High Lord of All Indie – was less convinced, and chose instead to amuse himself by getting very drunk and describing in graphic detail to Charlie how he planned to brutally violate her. What a class act.

A few days later, I decided to try and reclaim our back garden from the forces of nature which were, at that time, very much in control. Stage One of the operation was a de-weeding mission, carried out using a serrated kitchen knife (necessary due to the inch-thick stems on some of the more established weeds), and a pair of “thorn resistant” gardening gloves – an application of the English language that quickly proved to be creative in the extreme.

After filling seven bin liners with nettles, thistles and all other kinds of crap I ain’t never seen before, it was time for Stage Two – Lawn Assault. I plugged in our recently purchased lawn mower, and went in for the kill.

I’ll admit that I’m not much of a gardener, but
I’m still pretty s
ure that cutting grass shouldn’t require a run-up. Perhaps it has something to do with the fact that the grass hadn’t been cut since October last year, and was now a good foot and a half long. This would also explain how our relatively compact back garden yielded five more bin liners full of grass, and took over two hours to bludgeon into submission.

The next day I took Sam to the doctors so that he could find out that he was suffering gastroenteritis. Hurrah! Now, as well as hearing all about his bowel movements, we get hear his wails of despair as his rebellious digestive tract sends him fleeing to the nearest toilet at very short notice. This was exacerbated today when Charlie - seeking revenge for Sam’s failure to fill up the dishwasher despite being asked both nicely and repeatedly for a day and a half - locked the downstairs bathroom that is closest to Sam’s room from the outside, thus forcing him to run up two flights of stairs to use the other one. Charlie refuses to concede that this was an act of pure undiluted evil on her part, because a) she feels it was entirely justified, and b) it’s funny.

In any case, it all seemed like a good excuse to escape from the house and pop over to Bath to visit my friend Terry. We went out to see local band Mea Culpa at a pub called The Porter Butt, officially the crummiest venue I have ever been to ever. The band were good, though – kind of metallic-post-rock-grindcore, or something. The singer did a lot of jumping about, climbing chairs and speakers, and taking the mic out onto the floor; at one point managing to get all the way to the bar, where he ordered himself a drink mid-song. It’s a shame that there were only about twenty people there to see it really.

The day after that I went all the way back to my parents in Surrey for a meal to celebrate my sister’s birthday, before coming all the way back on Sunday for The Boy’s birthday party. The 90’s theme was observed by just a few of the attendees; The Boy herself dressed up as Tank Girl, her friends Chrissie and Bryony came as Lara Croft and (children’s TV presenter/wife to Fatboy Slim) Zoe Ball respectively. Sam – who by this point was feeling a bit better – also stuck to the 90’s theme, but chose a different century to the rest of us, donning some of his historical re-enactment garb and assuming the appearance of a 1690’s Dutch Merchant. And then there was me.

Guess who?

Sunday, 26 August 2007

Super-lame update-a-rama

This is the first time I’ve been home
for any great amount of time in the last few days, and it’s The Boy’s birthday party. She decided on a nineties theme, which means I will be spending the next few hours cutting up this shitty blonde wig to try and make it look a bit more like Kurt Cobain’s hair; then trying to make it look like it has a gaping exit wound in the back of it. Tasteful.

Then I can spend the rest of the night trying to get drunk enough that I don’t care how stupid I look. I have to say that I am feeling far more confident in my ability to succeed in this particular venture.

All of which is a roundabout way of saying that you’ll have to wait a few days for a full account of yet another thrilling week in my shitty life.

A crushing disappointment for literally one or two people, I’m sure.

Wednesday, 22 August 2007

The coolest place in the universe, apparently

I got an interesting letter from the placements department for my faculty at UWE this morning. Based on my average first year grade, I have been selected to apply to the Industrial Placement scheme at Cern, which is apparently the European Organisation for Nuclear Research, the world’s largest particle physics centre.

It also sits astride the Franco-Swiss border near Geneva.

The timing is quite uncanny, as I find myself tonight wondering just what the hell I am doing here. Maybe it’s just symptomatic of me being grumpy, since my fairly standard early evening nap during the last half of The Simpsons was cut short by me spilling half a cup of tea over myself, but I feel like I’m having some sort of epiphany. Or maybe it’s just wind…

Either way, I’m certain that I remember one of the primary reasons for me ditching my old job and choosing instead to study mechanical engineering, was that I was tired of being a manager. I just didn’t enjoy it much, controlling people and being responsible for making sure that simple things get done.

Only now, it seems that despite the change in career, I have simply swapped staff for housemates. Maybe I’m just bossy by nature, I don’t know. But as much as I love them, they drive me up the fucking wall at times. And so I’m thinking of running away to join the circus… well, a different circus anyway.

One with particle accelerators.

Monday, 20 August 2007

Type 6 post

Although it wasn’t intended to be, clearly my assertion that I might start posting more than once per week was no more than an empty threat. This could be viewed as either a blessing or a curse; you get less reading material, but it is (in theory at least) less banal. Probably a lot less emo, too.

I could try to claim that I have simply been far too busy to write, and as an experienced and dedicated procrastinator I reckon that I could quite easily make it sound as though the mundane activities of the past week have left me run off my feet. The truth is that aside from a job interview, some banger racing and a lot of toy soldiering, I’ve mostly just been to drunk and/or lazy to drive a computer.

Yep, more banger racing. Since it was only Dozer, The Boy and myself going this time, I had to do the driving, since neither of the other two have a car licence. In fact, Dozer still doesn’t have a bike licence, a fairly essential piece of paper for anyone wanting to be in a biker gang… he assures us that he is getting it all sorted out. We know full well that he isn’t doing anything of the sort, but it’s easier to just not care – and so that’s what we do.

Anyway, I actually remembered to bring my camera to the racing this time, so you can be bored by pictures instead of words. You lucky people.

The view out over the pit area, just behind where we were standing. That's a whole lot of Somerset right there. As impressive as the view was, what was even more impressive was the way that no matter what kind of damage had been inflicted on a car during a race, it could all be fixed with either a hammer, or a really big hammer.

As luck would have it, this was the first (and quite possibly the last) time that Mendips Raceway had ever hosted Coach Racing. The racing itself was pretty dull, what with coaches being quite desperately slow 'n' all; but the demolition derby at the end of the day was splendidly destructive, even if there were only five participants - four actual coaches, plus one light goods vehicle with windows painted onto the side of it.

The job interview was for the position of “Part-time Guest Services Assistant”, or something. Basically, driving a desk at Bristol Premier Apartments for sixteen hours a week. The pay’s pretty crappy, but it seems like a nice place to work, and it is a bit different to the retail environment that I’m more used to. The interview itself seemed to go quite well, and I should only have to wait another week for them to get back to me and explain that 11 years experience in the toy soldier retail industry is worthless, and no, I am not even fit to answer their phone.

Most of my time this week has been wasted in the company of Mr Jeff McDeath A-Bomb Urban Destruction, either getting drunk, or playing with toys, or both. He is a servant of the Dark Side of procrastination (ie. just plain lazy), and as a result missed out on getting a half-decent degree by a whisker; then applied for a teaching course in London far too late to have any realistic chance of getting in; then applied for the same course back here in Bristol even later, with even less chance of getting in. The legendary Remorseless Loving Machine is now supposed to be finding himself a job of some description, but instead is spending a lot of time at my house playing games and smoking weed. Silly boy.

Meanwhile, it seems that Sam has developed a new and quite unsavoury habit. For some reason he has taken to graphically describing his bowel movements to anyone that happens to be around at the time. Last week we all got to hear about an unpleasant and embarrassing “following through” incident when he tried to fart in bed one morning; more usually he simply insists on describing how he feels his excremental efforts have rated on the Bristol Stool Scale, a local cultural and scientific claim to fame that I had not previously been aware of.

In hindsight, I was probably far happier in my ignorance.

Monday, 13 August 2007

Of mice and meh

It was once explained to me (by a fellow called Dan, at once the best and worst staff member I ever had working for me) that everybody zips their anorak up for something. It might not always be something that is generally considered to be anorak-worthy (ie. geeky), but everyone has something that they are passionate, maybe even fanatical about.

Turns out that I zip my anorak up for quite a few things. The toy soldier thing is an obvious one; but then there’s also Formula One, and all the different bands that I listen to. And then there are systems.

You know, like having set ways of doing stuff; rules, routines, that sort of thing.

Maybe it’s not really an anorak zipping thing. Thinking about it, it probably has more in common with some of my OCD habits, like having to have the sun visor down whenever I’m driving (even at night), or feeling distinctly uneasy when eating with a knife and fork that don’t match.

The point is, I like to have rules and order. When I started this shitty blog thing, I made myself just one rule, and that was to always have a fresh post up by the following Monday.

I set this rule for a number of reasons. The first was to make sure that I did actually bother to update with some degree of regularity, since I am a seasoned procrastinator; and without a self-imposed deadline, chances are that I really would end up performing the Willard Foxton Manoeuvre. At the same time, I didn’t want to be forcing myself to write a post every day, as I seldom have very much to write about. Endless tales of how I sat around the house watching TV and painting toy soldiers in my underpants do not a good blog make.

The downside of only posting once per week is that some of the emotional content is lost. Looking back at the week just gone allows for a more measured and logical assessment. For example; on Monday, I felt okay; but on Tuesday, I was really angry with The Boy for some reason; and then on Tuesday and Wednesday I felt desperately unhappy. My memory is poor enough that the precise reasons for any of this are something of a mystery. Right now, all I know is that I am feeling quite drunk (unlike two days ago, when I first started writing all this gibberish…)

And herein lies the problem. For me, each post should be a single snapshot in time; not necessarily a tedious recollection of ‘what I done this week’, but an account of how I actually feel about stuff.

Meh. I don’t know, maybe I’m just being a bit emo about it all.

However. The rule has now been changed. I shall now have a MINIMUM of one post up by the following Monday. In the apparent absence of anyone else that I can speak to about all the various shit in my life that I find to be quite bothersome, I shall hope to find the process of blurting it out all across the intraweb somehow cathartic.

In the meantime… here’s what I done this week.

On Monday, I went up to The Inn On The Green with Sam, Charlie, Dozer and The Boy. After asking my housemates if they would be at all opposed to the idea of me keeping a couple of mice, I embarked on a tale of an Eyehategod gig that I went to some seven years ago, where I saw some guy trying to crowd surf knock himself out on the lighting rig in that splendidly low-ceilinged venue. And so animated was my storytelling, that I managed to headbutt my own pint glass in the process.

No, I did not spill anything, and no, the glass did not break; but I may have just added to my fearsome collection of drink induced scars.

Naturally, the next morning I swore that I would never drink again, and then invested in a mouse cage, some mouse food, some mouse-oriented stimuli, and a couple of mice.

They are both females; the one on the left is called Mata Hari, named after a Dutch exotic dancer whose lust for uniformed men eventually led to her execution in 1917 for suspicion of being a French double agent. The one on the right is called Mouse, because she is a mouse.

And then on Friday, I went out with Mr Dozer and got horribly drunk.

Sunday, 5 August 2007

The difficult second post

And so another week has drifted by in a fairly unremarkable fashion.

Blogging conundrum #2: How does one make this sound interesting?

A number of options are available. The first is known as the Willard Foxton Manoeuvre, and involves garnishing the truth (or more commonly, disregarding it entirely) to create an elaborate and captivating tale of pirates, hula dancers, snappy one-liners and scrapes with death.

The second option is to not bother trying, since if something is hard to do then it is clearly not worth doing. This will become one of those many, many blogs which was started with good intentions, but only got as far as a profile and a single post before the writer decided it was all far too much effort; and that time in front of the computer could be far better spent looking at pornography. This is known as The Other Willard Foxton Manoeuvre (although I can’t be certain about the pirate hula dancer porn).

The third option is to acknowledge the fact that this blog presently has a readership of one, and that this is only likely to increase if I decide to make a habit of reading my own posts after I publish them. And so it really doesn’t matter how interesting my week was to the casual observer, since nobody is observing; casually or otherwise.

Last weekend I found myself at Mendips Raceway with Sam, Dozer and temporary-pseudo-housemate Joss, watching brightly coloured motor cars get smashed to bits. I got a little bit sunburnt, and more than a little bit drunk on the local cider, which was decanted from a large, unlabelled barrel, and may or may not have been used to power some of the bangers out on the track. The important thing is that it was cheap and potent, and ensured that I fell asleep in the car on the way home – a mixed blessing given that Sam was driving, as whilst it meant that I couldn’t be scared out of my wits by his lethargic driving style, it also meant that it was down to Dozer and Joss in the back to pay attention to the road and helpfully point things out to Sam, like turnings, red lights, and stationary cars that lay directly in our path of travel.

Sam is utterly harmless and entirely gormless. One of the loveliest chaps a girl could ever hope to be just good friends with, he has recently taken up pipe smoking, and once ambiguously described a woman in his office as being “a bit like Anne of Cleves”. He’s a little bit like the stereotypical 40 year old virgin that still lives with his mother; except that he’s 24 years old, and he lives with us.

The next day bore witness to culinary adventures, as Dozer had a crack at making some special “herbal” confectionary. Using just three large bars of Cadbury’s Dairy Milk and an eighth of weed, he succeeded in creating chocolate that didn’t taste very good, and that wouldn’t get you high.

And that’s pretty much it. The rest of my time this week has been spent tinkering about with toy soldiers, and trying to weigh up the various pros and cons of traditional mouse cages compared to the new-fangled Rotastak tube-and-pod arrangements.

I am thinking of getting myself a pet

Wednesday, 1 August 2007

Well, at least I'm still not on myspace

And so I have become one of those people; a Blogger. Urgh.

Getting this together has not been a swift process, and not only because I am so cripplingly e-tarded. I pretty much fell at the first hurdle; what name do I give to my blog?

This is important stuff, and after not really thinking about it very much at all for a few days, I resolved to create a long(ish) list of potential titles from which to choose. Naturally, only one was going to make it to the final cut; but a great many others were easily discounted for either sounding a bit too much like the name of an emo/hardcore fanzine, being blatant Radiohead lyrics, or in at least one case sounding like the title of a porn film. Here are the ones that didn't make it.
  • Time Heals Nothing
  • Minus One
  • What Happened Next
  • Fitter. Happier
  • The Melancholical Engineer
  • The Ben(ds)
  • Gravity Always Wins
  • Mea Maxima Culpa
  • Never To Be
  • Stalker's Remorse
  • Angstroneering
  • Pig Brittle
  • Naturally, It All Went Horribly Wrong
  • Loose Ends
Then of course a good few hours were lost as I attempted to create a profile which would make me seem witty, intelligent and debonair, but without making it look like I was really trying; or, more specifically, trying and failing. Plus another hour of attempting to attach a photo (there's that e-tardedness I was talking about).

Only then did I realise that a blog probably ought to have some kind of content; and all I had was a list of rubbish names for a blog...