Monday, 29 October 2007

I don't get ill. Only children and old people get ill.

Back when I was a manager, I used to get very frustrated whenever one of my minions phoned in sick. Mainly because we were quite a small team, and so the absence of any one person was keenly felt by the remainder; but also because I was naturally quite suspicious as to just how sick they really were. Migraine? Pah. You’ve got a headache, or more likely, a hangover. Take some paracetamol and get your arse in. ‘Flu?! You can’t phone in sick if you’ve got ‘flu, because you can’t even get out of bed if you’ve got ‘flu. You’ve got a cold, or more likely, you’re just a lazy twunt. Have a cough sweet and get your arse in.

Eventually my mild distrust became more of a demented paranoia; my staff were always lying to me about everything, none of them could be trusted, and there was actually no such thing as illness.

Which made things very confusing for me when I got ill (as scarce an occurrence as this was). I decided in the end that all this ‘ill’ business was every bit as fictitious as I suspected, and I was merely experiencing symptoms of illness.

Much as I am now, a situation probably not helped much by my decision to attend a gig by the ever-splendid Taint at The Croft last night.

Terry was supposed to be joining us, but true to form he flaked out at the last moment. This left just The Boy and I. Sam didn’t fancy taking Terry’s place, but was kind enough to give us a lift down there. We arrived at about quarter past eight, only to discover that Taint were the only band playing, and that wouldn’t be happening until quarter past ten; leaving us nothing to do for the next two hours apart from slouch about on the big comfy sofas in the front bar and get very drunk.

Taint were of course excellent; but I’ve written about them before, and feel no need to repeat myself here. After a solid hour of ‘rocking out’, The Boy and I took a short wander up the road to the Cat and Wheel, where Dozer happened to be doing his Big Friendly Doorman bit. More booze happened, and then the now near legendary Sam came to pick us all up and take us home. What a hero. The Boy was utterly broken, but still managed to make it as far as her bed; I, on the other hand, rather predictably passed out on the sofa, and so didn’t officially get to bed until 5:30 am. Hooray for me.

The other possible cause of my “You know how other people feel when they think they’re ill? That’s how I feel” thing is the relentlessness of my weekly schedule at the moment. On Monday I’m in school for six hours, the rest of the day given over to homework and the like; on Tuesday and Thursday I’m in for eleven hours; I work at the big gay department store for ten hours every Friday and Saturday; and on Wednesdays and Sundays, I am a slave to my Chaos Dragon (not a euphemism for masturbation, I swear).

I thought I’d have this sucker finished a week ago, but the sheer size of the thing is making me wonder if I’ll even have it finished in time for the tournament. The fact that it’s taking so long means that I have no chance of painting the other bits and pieces I was planning to take, and so I’ve had to change my army list; the second unit of brilliant but unpredictable Beastmen have given way to an already painted but predictably rubbish unit of Ogres…

I know you don’t really care about any of this, but that really is all my life consists of at the moment.

Monday, 22 October 2007


So anyway, random computer rebellion notwithstanding, the last two weeks have been fairly unremarkable.

Big school: I am continuing to be quite alarmed by just how much of my first year I seem to have completely forgotten. When a simple stress analysis problem was presented to us last week, I stared at it blankly with the rest of the class. We could all see that it was a relatively simple problem; but at the same time, none of us could remember how to solve it. It reminded me of the kind of frantic confusion I often experience first thing in the morning, when my alarm goes off… I know that some complex relationship exists between the buttons, the glowing red numbers and the persistent bleeping; but I just can’t figure out what it is…

Work: Everyone is either very friendly, or very gay, or both. Mostly, working at The Big Gay Department Store seems to consist of standing on one’s feet for ten hours, talking to people with a degree of politeness more commonly reserved for foreign dignitaries and grandparents. I am working as part of the SPT – the Services and Payment Team - which means I am a universal, interchangeable till monkey. I don’t work in any given department, instead I turn up in the morning and find out which till bank(s) I have been appointed to. So far, I have worked on kitchenware, china, glass, furnishing fabrics, toys (which is kinda cool – it’s full of toys), menswear and childrenswear. It is forbidden for men to work in womenswear, as many female customers take offence at men touching their pants; but it’s okay for us to touch their kid’s pants, so childrensear is not a problem.

Home: Is all considerably more bearable. We are all working/schooling/both, and are no longer getting under each others’ feet or on each others’ nerves. We’ve started to regularly attend the Inn on the Green pub quiz each Sunday with Matt “I Can’t Help The Superiority Of My Race” Smith, and have decided that our team name each week shall be a different Arnie quote. The first week we were “I Need Your Clothes, Your Boots And Your Motorcycle”; last week we were “Phased Plasma Rifle In The Forty Megawatt Range”; and tonight we wer “What Is Best In Life? To Smash Your Foes, See Them Scatter Before You, And Hear The Lamentation Of Their Women”. Our strong sense of morals and lack of internet phones means that our best finish thusfar is 8th out of 16.

Meanwhile, every spare bit of time I get is spent painting toy soldiers; the current bane of my life being a rather large and unpleasant Chaos Dragon.

I bought my ticket for the Warhammer Grand Tournament Third Heat quite some time ago, when I only had a handful of troops and a fire-breathing killpig to paint. Now, with less than four weeks to go, I have an entire handful of troops and a fire-breathing killpig to paint…

It's a hard life, being a nerd.

Thursday, 18 October 2007

So anyway, that thing about normal service having been resumed…

What an impeccable sense of timing.

I went onto Radiohead’s website a couple of weeks ago – they’re releasing a new album, entitled “In Rainbows”. Since they are no longer under contract to any record label, the Oxfordshire miserablists have decided to release it themselves. The CD will be available in all good record stores later this year, but in the meantime they have made it available to download from their website. People are free to decide for themselves how much they would like to pay for it, and if they want to pay nothing at all then that’s fine.

So naturally, I was there like a shot – and ended up paying forty quid for a pretentious boxed set that comes with vinyl seven-inches and a CD and a fancy booklet and so on. Plus, I still get to download the album from their website, just as soon as it is made available. Hurrah!

Anyway, about that impeccable sense of timing. I switch on my computer one morning to check my emails, and hey presto there’s one from the good people at Radiohead telling me that I can now download their spiffing new album. Great, except I’m kind of in a hurry to get to school, so I’ll do it later. Two hours of Design Embodiment and Material Selection and one hour of Engineering Mathematics later, I get home, switch on my computer, and have the following conversation (sort of).

Computer: Hey, how’s it going? You know that thing? That window thing?
Me: You mean Windows?
Computer: Yeah, that Windows thing. Well anyway, I can’t make it work. You should, like, I dunno, restart me or something?...
Me: Err… okay.

(---click--- whuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuur…)

Computer: Yeah, no, that kinda didn’t work. Maybe you could restart me in safe mode, or in safe mode with networking, or some other thing.
Me: Nope. Nothing works.
Computer: Well, I’m all out of ideas. I guess you could use me to weigh down paper, or hold a door open, or something. Kinda sucks that you can’t download that Radiohead album now too, huh? Hey! How cool would I look if I was flying out of your window right now?
Me: …………

Stupid machines. It’s tricky to get to a computer at school at the moment, as it’s still only a few weeks into the new semester and the place is full of eager young first years; so I had to resort to using The Boy’s Mac a couple of times.

Good things about Macs:

  1. They look like boiled sweets. Well, hers does anyway.
  2. Mac users tend to be quite fanatical about Macs, and as such are quite easy to wind up in a classic Amiga vs. Atari sort of way (or SNES vs. Mega Drive, if you don't want to go completely retro).

Bad things about Macs:

  1. When your 'proper' computer breaks down and you have to borrow a Mac, you can be sure that the owner won't let you forget about it in a hurry.
  2. All the buttons are in the wrong place.
  3. The mouse doesn't work very well. Well, hers doesn't anyway.
  4. They live in rooms that smell like girls. Well, hers does anyway.

Thankfully, I live with Mr Dozer; and whilst he may not know what the dishwasher does, and doesn’t fully understand how all our bins keep magically emptying themselves, he does know how to fix computers.

He successfully diagnosed the problem as Windows being “a bunch of gay” – possibly caused by gay electricity, or interference from a gay weather balloon. The only solution was to completely reinstall Windows.

It’s pretty much all fixed now, apart from the fact that my computer seems to think that it is now American; and as such, disagrees with my keyboard on a number of key issues, such as the location of the @ symbol and the existence of a pound sign.

Nothing a hammer won’t fix.

Monday, 8 October 2007

Gin’ll fix it

Normal service has now been resumed. Please, remain calm people.

I started back at big school this week. My first lecture was at 9.30am, and would be a new module for this year – Design Embodiment and Material Selection. So naturally, the best way for me to prepare for this was to stay up late with Matt Who Is Not A Nazi, drinking beer and watching Robocop.

A timeless classic, I’m sure you’ll all agree; it has everything, from drug-addled cop-killing psychopaths to sleazy 80’s businessmen, and of course that most magic of ingredients – big angry robots.

Terminator has them. Transformers has lots of them. Cheaper By The Dozen doesn’t have any; thus proving that for any film to be truly awesome, it must have big angry robots in it (though they may also be substituted for aliens, ninjas, cowboys, barbarians, maverick cops that play by their own rules, explosions, or that guy from Police Academy that does all the sound effects).

Anyway, my first week back at big school has been really good. It’s nice to have some kind of purpose again, and to do something a bit more mentally stimulating and challenging than trying to work out how to most efficiently load the dishwasher.

On Saturday, I got to wear a tie for the first time in about thirteen years when I went to my induction at The Big Gay Department Store. Along with about twenty other smartly dressed boys and girls, I was led into a training room which was polluted by the sounds of M-People singing “What have you done today//To make yourself proud?”…


Sometimes I wonder if maybe I’m just far too cynical by nature, but it all seemed a bit patronising. Make that very patronising. Personal highlights for me were;

  1. The obligatory “this is how you must lift a box” demonstration.
  2. The video explaining to us that fire was bad, m’kay? (complete with an explanation of how when lifting, you should keep your back at a 90 degree angle to your pelvis…)
  3. The other video explaining to us that disabled people were just the same as the rest of us, except that they’re disabled; and that we should treat them just the same as other people, and here are some instructions on how to treat people who are different to other people just the same as other people.
  4. The other other video explaining how great it was to work for The Big Gay Department Store, which was essentially a six-minute musical montage of people working at The Big Gay Department Store and pretending it was great.
  5. The till training given to us by a woman that seemed barely able to read.

The day finished with a brief stint on the shop floor, learning just what my new part time job would entail; tolerating the presence of co-workers, whilst speaking to customers in the polite and well-spoken manner usually reserved for foreign dignitaries and grandparents.

Sunday was far better by comparison; after getting up nice and early to watch the Chinese Grand Prix, I bimbled off to watch the last bangers meeting of this year with Mr Dozer. The first corner of the first lap of the first race saw one of the cars get flipped onto its roof; the day pretty much carried on like that, with the grand figure-of-eight destruction derby finale having to be stopped at least twice when cars burst into flames. Good times. We got back just in time for The Inn On The Green pub quiz, where we came in a fairly dismal 13th out of twenty; but there was still lots of drinking to be had, so it was all good.

Less good was the drunken cook-off that took place when we all finally stumbled back, but it would seem that alcohol has thankfully erased that memory.

The blog you are visiting may be experiencing technical difficulties

Or, to put it another way, I'm far too drunk and tired to write.

In all fairness, you're probably too drunk and/or tired to read, so I reckon this works out quite nicely for all of us.


I shall write tomorrow.


Monday, 1 October 2007

Time is an illusion. Lunchtime, doubly so.

Is it really only a week since I last typed out reams of gibberish? It seems like less than that, and yet if I try to recall the contents of the last post… well, basically I can’t. I had to visit my own blog and read my own words in an effort to understand what happened and when, and to try to jumble recent memories into some kind of chronological order.

Perhaps I am drinking too much.

In any case, it would seem that when I last wrote I had secured relatively undesirable employment with the impeccably dressed people at The Big Gay Department Store. My only hope lay with the bookstore Waterstones, with whom I had an interview on Tuesday. If I’m honest, I think it went a bit shit. I’d prepared quite well, and felt reasonably confident going into the interview, and gave some good answers to most of the questions… but there were bits where I just knew I was screwing it up.


Waterstones phoned me back later that day, offering me a weekend contract that paid less per hour than The Big Gay Department Store, and offered fewer benefits too. This was a result.


It turns out that despite what I was told when I originally applied, they were only recruiting for temporary positions… whereas The Big Gay Department Store had already offered me a permanent part-time position…

And so today I bought myself a natty shirt and tie combo, and started to contemplate a life in retail which didn’t involve toy soldiers, and where you couldn’t tell kids they were gay for liking Wood Elves.

Some other stuff happened this week too. On Wednesday I went with Charlie and The Boy to see popular beat combo Reuben at the Academy, where the substantial main stage area was closed off for ‘soapy love time’. This meant that we had to watch the two very mediocre support acts and the very splendid Reuben in the tight and sweaty confines of the upstairs bit, where the sheer combined mass of the audience distorts laws of physics such that;

1. The band appear very small, and difficult to see.

2. The cheap domestic lager becomes surprisingly expensive.

3. You emerge from the gig soaked in sweat, but it’s not all your own…

Despite all this, Reuben really were excellent, and quite charming too, the intelligent wit of their song lyrics flowing over into the between-song banter. Highly recommended.

Naturally, there was further drunkenness and Warhammering with Jeff “My Body Is Nothing More Than A Pedestal For My Wang” McDeath, although this has all but come to an end now. The Beef Iron Sex-Plough has secured himself employment in London as some sort of shark/estate agent hybrid, and so will now be selling houses and preying on women some 140 miles from here.

But, as is the way of such things, no sooner does one nerd depart than two others arise to take his place; Dom has just returned from a thrilling summer of Living With His Parents, and my old part timer (yes, another one) Matt has just moved into a flat over the road. The drunkenness and Warhammering will continue unabated, pausing only briefly for Mechanical Engineering lectures.

Which start tomorrow.