Today may be the worst day of my life.
However, I think that two days hence will actually be the worst day of my life.
Naturally, I'll let you know.
Some kind person slashed all four tyres on my car last night.
OK, I won't have to pay for them since it's a company car but it still burns me up that some little *insert expletive of choice here* has done this for no real reason but blind spite.
About a dozen other cars between mine and The Ash pub have been done. Do you think there may be a connection?
Busy, busy, busy . . .
For a change, it's not work.
A week ago, I drove down to London to buy a pair of axles off a lad. What should have taken a few minutes eventually took over an hour. This was because his dad turned out to be a car mechanic, originally from Cyprus and a really nice bloke to boot. We sat around and yarned about cars we'd driven, crashed, brokem, mended and lusted after. He was way ahead of me having two huge garages stuffed with classics. So stuffed, in fact, that he tried to sell me a
Dolomite Sprint in order to make some room. I'd have loved it but since I'm in my normal state of financial woe I declined.
That saturday was spent setting up and then setting off a firework display just outside Sheffield.
This activity was sold to me as fun.
Having agreed to do it, the two 'experts' then proceeded to explain how I was going to be very lucky if I came out of the display un-scorched if not actually missing digits.
As it turned out, it was fun - in nerve shattering sort of way. Scared stiff that I would miss a cue, light the wrong pyrotechnic or, in an extreme case, actually die, I spent the twenty minutes or so of the display in a state of near panic. No idea what it looked like, of course, since you can't see the display when you're stood right underneath it.
Sunday, by way of a contrast, was a much calmer affair. I drove Julia to Oxford where we met up with Holly and her boyfriend, Chris. We had a little lunch and then went to the Sheldonian Theatre to hear Phillip Pullman (of 'His Dark Materials' fame) talk about his new book. The talk was fun but the seating was torture!
Monday, I took Julia, her sister Kim, her friend Sarah and her tutor Colette to London for the Hand and Lock prize fashion show. In order to make a day of it, I dropped the girls at the V&A at about eleven and then, since it's impossible to park in London, turned about and headed to the RAF museum at Hendon. I bummed around for a few hours, chatting with the staff (it's nice to go to museums during the week. It's quiet and the staff are less harassed) and trying to find anyone who knew who and how the ventral Vickers 'K' fitted to the Battle was fired. Around two-ish I drove back to the V&A and picked the women-folk up. What followed was forty minutes of hell trying to drive the five or six miles across our nation's capital to the Textile and Fashion Museum in Southwark. This was the venue of the Hnad and Lock prize fashion show. Julia and Sarah were both finalists and, soon, they would find out if they had won. I dropped them off at four and, once more, headed for the suburbs finally coming to rest in at a Tesco somewhere on the North Circular.
Meanwhile, the girls ate nibbles, drank a little wine and looked at the other competition entries. You can see a montage of them all here. Julia's entry is here and Sarah's is here.
I had a little dinner while I waited, read the latest edition of Practical Classics magazine and fretted slightly.
I thought that, should either of them win, then they might like to celebrate.
I thought that should they not win, then they might need commiserating.
I went back into Tescos, bought two half bottles of champagne and a kilo of crushed ice. Returning to the car, I emptied the two plastic tubs I use for storing rubbish until it can be safely thrown away, inserted the champagne bottles and filled them with ice. Then I headed back to Southwark.
Well, gentle reader, they didn't win. They did, however, both agree that the designs that did win thoroughly deserved to win. As we drove home I was the only person in the car who wasn't slightly giggly, female and drinking champagne.
Julia and Sarah have already started thinking about the 2013 prize.
Oh, here are the winners.
If you are on Facebook, check out the Hand & Lock Facebook page
Some of you, although not many I suspect, may have wondered where my user pic comes from. Well it's from a classic computer game from the mid eighties. The Lords of Midnight was the creation of Mike Singleton a former english teacher turned games designer and it was, possibly, the first real epic computer game. If it wasn't for Bell and Braben's ELITE, I'd say that it was the best 8-bit game ever made. The first thing that struck you on loading the game was that you viewed the world through the eyes of your characters. For the first time an entire three dimensional world was there for you to roam as you pleased. As you moved, your view changed; citadels and keeps appeared on the horizon, armies lurked in woods and mountains and, when you finished moving your troops, you "called down the night" by pressing 'u' and the little processor in your Spectrum would move the enemy armies around before giving you a little text run down of what had happened during the night. All the text in the game was written in a slightly odd way. The message after each nights calculations were complete went something like this;
"Night has fallen and the Foul are abroad. Twelve days have passed since the War of the Solstice began. The bloody sword of battle brings death in the domain of Blood and Shadows and Of the Moon.
Do you want the dawn?"
The whole game was obviously very influenced by the Lord of the Rings. The Evil Enemy, Doomdark, had a powerful artifact called The Ice Crown. The Ice Crown radiated a crippling cold that sapped the courage of your troops. Luckily, your Main Man, Luxor, The Moon Prince, had the fabled Moon Ring which countered the ice fear so any Lords close to Luxor were protected to some extent. To win the game you had to either destroy the Ice Crown or capture Doomdark's fortress, the Citadel of Ushgarak. To destroy the Ice Crown you had to get Luxor's son, Morkin, to steal it from a Tower in the far north and then destroy it. There are four ways to destroy it but you don't know any of them when you start the game.
If you checked on the status of one of your Lords it might say; "The Lord of Gard. It is Dawn and Gard is Utterly Invigorated. The Ice Fear is quite Cold. Gard is slightly afraid. He has with him the Sword Dragon Slayer . . . He THINKS again . . ."
An entry always ended with the words He THINKS again even if the status of your Lord was "Wolves killed him . . ."
A lord's status ranged from Utterly Invigorated to Utterly Tired and unable to continue. He may be Utterly Bold if the Ice Fear is mild or he may be Utterly afraid (and refuse to fight, rot his soul!) if the Ice Fear was Cold or, heaven help you Utterly Cold.
Anyway, if you want to play the game, and you should, it's available totally free, ported to PC and with updated graphics here http://www.icemark.com/ or play it as a Java Applet here http://www.cs.ubc.ca/~cubranic/jlom/jlo
You may also wonder why I suddenly feel the need to talk about a game which was state of the art circa 1983 well it's because I recently found out that Mike Singleton died last week at the age of only 60 and I feel that I ought to say just a little something about what I consider to be his finest creation and just how much enjoyment it's given me over the years. It has allowed me to post things like "Pete Arundel. He stands on the M6 looking North towards Hilton Park . . ." and, just occasionally, have a fellow fan recognise it for what it is.
So the evil frogs have published pictures of Her Royal Highness' boobs.
The evil editor of "Closer" magazine [france] (not to be confused with "Closer" magazine [uk]) has justified splashing Her Graces puppies all over the front page by saying that it was, basically, "In the public interest".
On hearing this I thought, "Bollocks, you french tart! This is purely a grubby way to increase your circulation. In no way is this In The Public Interest!"
I then thought, "Hmmm . . . I wonder what the Royal chesticles are like?"
I then thought, "I bet a quick google image search will allow me to satisfy my sudden curiosity"
By this point I was beginning to wonder if they were, after all, in the public interest since I was obviously interested if only in finding out if Kate's knorks are in any way as pert as her sister's arse (which is so pert, I believe, that it was agreed by all men who were forced to watch that it almost made the bloody wedding worth watching).
Luckily, being a rational human being, I curbed my rampant blokish urges to view Her Grace's convexities and reminded myself that What The Public Is Interested In is not necessarily In The Public Interest.
We went to the opera this week . . .
Well, sort of. We went to see the Oxbridge Opera company perform Ruddigore which is, as I'm sure you know, one of Gilbert and Sullivan's comic operas.
Now I am also sure that you know some of the G&S canon even if you don't realise it. "I am the very model of a modern Major General" is probably the best known piece but, trust me, there are loads of tunes that you'll know.
However, none of the tunes you may know will be from Ruddigore. None of its many songs are particularly catchy whilst still being entertaining - which is, I suppose, a dubious achievement.
Anyway, to get back to the actual evening's entertainment, it was brilliant. Beautifully staged with excellent costumes and an amateur cast that was astonishingly good for, well, an amateur cast. Much as I enjoyed it, I came out humming tunes from "The Pirates of Penzance";
The final, notable point about the evening was that I took not only Julia but also Holly, her boyfriend Chris and my dad along too and after the show we all walked the two or three hundred yards up the road to where I had parked the car. I found this troubling because my Dad found it difficult. His balance is very poor these days and, in the dark as we were, he finds it difficult to stay upright without a firm visual frame of reference. I took his arm and supported him for the last stage of the walk and helped him into the car. It suddenly hit me that he was an old man. For the first time he seemed old to me and the sudden realisiation that he wasn't immortal hit me like a hammer.
. . . I think I'd quite like to marry Mrs Patrese. I decided this at 3:14 due to the wonderfully expressive Italian arm gesture.
Looks like Hollywood has missed the point again . . .
As"the film returns the celebrated character to the dark, visceral incarnation from John Wagner and Carlos Ezquerra's revered comic strip."
Not if the trailer is anything to go by.
I bet this Dredd isn't funny either.
If you really, really want to know how Dredd should be done try hunting down the Big Finish audio stories because they do get it.
Where to start . . .
Well, a week or so ago I went with Julia, her sister Kim and her husband Mel* back to the Arena Theatre in Wolverhampton to see Situation, the latest show by Last Fancies. Last year we went to see The Death of Georgia B, a sort of super-murder-mystery evening which proved to be the best evenings entertainment I'd ever had - although at the end of our investigations we hadn't clue who'd done it . . . Since we'd had so much fun blundering around the first time, we didn't hesitate when word got out that Last Fancies were doing a new show and booked tickets as soon as they were available.
We weren't disappointed. We arrived at the theatre and were presented with a sticker marked "Art is not a Crime" and a lot of photocopied newspaper clippings dated several years in the future. These clippings told us of the new laws to outlaw any but state sponsored art and also about a mysterious, illegal venue where rogue artists could perform. This underground theatre was run by the enigmatic Morgan, Britain's most wanted artiste!
Once we actually got into the show (after being split into three groups and being sent in through three separate entrances) we found ourselves in a derelict theatre lit by flickering florescent tubes. We groped our way around until we found, sitting all alone, a baby grand piano. With nobody around, I sat down on the stool. I said to Julia, "It's a pity I can't play . . ." at which point a voice came over a P.A system saying, "but you can play if you like"
"I don't even know where middle C is", I replied, pressing a key near the centre of the keyboard.
The voice over the P.A. sang middle C. By total chance, I'd hit the right bloody note . . .
Nothing else happened so I got up and wandered around a bit more. I soon lost Julia, Kim and Mel but eventually bumped into them outside a room containing a naked girl and lots of paper.
I moved on since I can't draw and felt that popping my head around the door merely to check out the naked chick would be ungentlemanly. Mel can't draw either but he's not a gentleman.
So I went up the nearby stairs and found a girl with a trumpet and a tuba. Did I want a go? Oh yes! A Chance to make noise - which I did. Actually, I was quite good considering I can't play the trumpet.
I shalln't describe any more because there was too much to see and I missed loads of stuff but here is a review from someone more eloquent than myself; http://www.tettenhall.co.uk/?p=3892
The show lasted one hour twenty minutes with the last twenty minutes being taken up by a short cabaret (including a rather attractive fire-eater in stockings and basque apparently - I didn't notice. Nor did I notice the belly dancer)
The Death of Georgia B
Situation teaser trailer
Part of the finale of Situation - Mummy's always sneaking off to Morgan's!
Right, next up is Julia's entry for the 2012 Hand and Lock prize for embroidery. She went for the second brief and came up with this dress and coat combination modelled here by her friend and fellow student, Sarah.
*Yes, that's right, Mel and Kim and before you feel the need to quip, we've heard them all.
Yes, they are respectable.
These may be significant!