04/11/2004 - 04/18/200404/18/2004 - 04/25/200404/25/2004 - 05/02/200405/09/2004 - 05/16/200405/16/2004 - 05/23/200405/23/2004 - 05/30/200405/30/2004 - 06/06/200406/06/2004 - 06/13/200409/26/2004 - 10/03/2004
the olden days

Friday, May 21, 2004

Here is an important thing: When you go for a bike ride, go uphill first.

I am horribly unfit. Firstly I'm overweight - not grotesquely so, but enough that when I see my reflection in a shop window, I double-take and think, "that can't possibly be my belly," before the crushing realisation that it is. I have man-boobies.

Unfortunately, because getting fat(ter) is a gradual process, it sneaks up on you. That's almost true. Whenever I visit my parents, my mum tends to greet me with a cry of, "Look at the SIZE of you." But in-between times, it sneaks up on me. But what's really made me feel like the Blubberwhale King has been climbing flights of stairs. If I'm in the position of having to go up a couple of floors, I'll trot my way quite happily, until I reach the floor I'm stopping at, and find that I'm having a heart attack. This proves inconvenient on a regular basis.

So something in my brain has snapped, and decided: it's time to do at least something. I found myself, quite involuntarily, pumping up the tyres on my bike. The bike that has remained on the same spot on my roof (well, the shop's roof, and my bit of it) for a year. I'd forgotten that it has two different types of tyres, and so needs two different pumps, and I could only find one. (The other one, it turned out, was clipped to frame of the bike, which seems a ridiculous place to put it). So I drove to the place I was planning to cycle to, borrowed a bike pump while I was there, and drove back. Pumped the tyre up. Stood back. Looked at the bike and realised I now didn't have a reason to ride it. Failure.

So yesterday I defiantly rode it to a meeting in the village, despite the rain. An incredible 500 metres or so.

Which brings us to this afternoon. Tonight I'm taking my younger youth group on a walk. I thought it would be a very good idea to take my bike to check the route, remember where we were going. Genius. The rough route would take us down the valley, along near the canal, and then back up again. And so down the hill I cycled. I was going incredible speeds, 50, 60 thousand miles an hour. And when I got to the bottom, I was thinking, "I live in the most incredible place! Why have I wasted living in such a beautiful area?" I wasn't going to stop there. The road doubles back on itself, leading to a weir and a nice riverside pub. I know this, because I have driven there.

So I hurtled along, faster and faster, flies and my eyes becoming as one, and then at the end of the road, where it sloped up quite steeply, I didn't get off - I just pumped my way up. I WAS VICTORIOUS. I had a celebratory glass of Coke in the pub, which the nice lady gave me for 10p cheaper as I was just short with the change in my pocket. I felt remarkably good, sat at wooden outdoor table, overlooking the river, surrounded by green in every direction. (Except for up).

There's no real need to go on, is there? I thought the sensiblest thing to do would be to go up the bridle path that cuts a straight line all the way up the hill, rather than the meandering, weaving path of the roads. For the fun of it, I thought I'd see how far I could cycle up it. About a metre. But that's not because I'm the rubbish King Blubberwhale, but because this path is just shy of vertical. I wasn't entirely sure why the myriad stones and rocks weren't all rolling their way to the bottom. About halfway up, my bike became a sort of two-wheeled zimmer-frame. Two thirds of the way I up I made a solemn life-oath that I would never, ever cycle to the bottom of that hill again.

At the top, I realised I had no idea where I was. Which was only bad because it meant I didn't know how much at the bottom of the world I still was. Correctly picking right bore me out onto a familiar road, at the bottom of a horrible hill, but at least close to home. I didn't cycle the hill - I didn't have the strength. But I did ride the last five minutes home from the top.

The thought that dominated, when "never do this again" gave it room, was "I cannot believe I thought this would be a good idea before going on a walk tonight." I have no idea if I'll survive, or if I will have to be dragged by twenty twelve year olds, all singing "KING BLUBBERWHALE IS DEAD!" before a celebratory dance.

However, getting back I realise that I am in fact just the slightly overweight King of All Things Good and Decent, and that it might be fun to see if the route gets easier through repeating.

I might be mad now. 5:42 pm [+]

Wednesday, May 19, 2004
Today I finally made some use of this sunshine we appear to be having.

Fresh hair cut and purpled, I left my curtain encrusted hovel for exterior exposure, and lunch with Kieron and Jim in a pub 'garden'. This was followed by some wanton sitting on grass in the middle of the afternoon.

This feels right. Obviously, sitting around in the sunshine when everyone else is at work feels right - how can it be wrong? But I mean, this feels like the right way around for me at the moment. I allowed a brief glimmer of guilt to flash through me, knowing that others on my course were probably doing some sort of youth work paperwork rubbish, or writing journals, or somesuch worthy activity far more impressive than sitting in the park and talking about Thief. But then I remembered that I'd finished work at 4am this morning, and yet gotten up before 10. Work, see. Reviewing some rubbish RPG thing for Format. And then moreso - Wednesday is my day off! Because come Sunday, I'll be working from 9.30am until 9pm. Admittedly with a gap in the afternoon, but that shall be inevitably filled with writing journals. On a day that isn't my day off. This is the way my brain has always intended to work - late at night, with day time for goofing around.

I know Steve D will be groaning, slapping his forehead, and planning to slap mine in a couple of weeks (his 13 year old daughter Miriam has asked me to be her godfather at her baptism - very proud). But it's in moderation. 4am is exceptional. 2.30am is normal, and quite acceptable, thankyouverymuch.

That youth groups take place in the evenings seems ideal for this pattern, but that other people exist in the daytimes does not make for a helpful planning side to all this. Ever moreso, I find myself thinking in the direction of eschewing full time youth work once I'm qualified, and instead sticking to voluntary stuff, in order that I can continue my gratuitous lifestyle. And hopefully take on more work without fear of clashes with college, essays, journals, meetings, weekends away, having to stay overnight in Bristol half the week, and on and on and on and on and indeed on. Oh, you poor folks, you don't need to know this.

Lunch included the inevitable portion of Mocking John for Being a Christian. This is all done within the realms of friendly banter... I tell myself. I am an object of curiosity, for that at least. Anyway, this lead on to Jim's formation of an entirely new religion and deity, Horace the Endless Bear. In an act that may possibly conflict with my current faith, I have found myself pledging, in the event of surviving a nuclear holocaust, to promote this religion alone to the few that still live.

And finally, it became very important that I do this:

In the shop window of the Spar below my house. 8:56 pm [+]

Monday, May 17, 2004
So this is what the previous post was meant to be about - the being inspired yet uninspired thing.

I have an idea for a radio comedy programme that I think is good, and might work. Problem is, I've no one to write it with, and I've always figured I'm one half of an effective writing team.

This matches up with my theory about marriage - I figure that I'm one half of a very effective team for surviving life. Trouble is, my teammate seems missing.

So all I'm after is a comedy writing wife. That's all.

However, I will settle for a comedy writing fake wife, if absolutely necessary. So what I'm looking for is someone who listens to Radio 4 all day long, every day, despite hating most of its output. If you don't listen to Radio 4 all day long despite hating most of its output, then that probably sounds quite a weird thing to do, and even more weird to expect someone else to do it too. However, if you're the person whose brain (and potential marital status) I'm looking for, then you'll entirely understand what I mean. Oh, and you need to want to write comedy too.

My hopes aren't exactly super-high that anything will come of this appeal. Comedy writing partners are only found by mistake or at an Oxbridge college. The latter is a little unlikely, and I'm bored of waiting for the former, so at least I gave this a go.

Email me if you're interested. 9:21 pm [+]

This evening I am a complicated combination of inspired, and entirely uninspired.

I'm also feeling that strange awareness of having the strangest audience for this blog. People either read this because I am the bloke who writes the budget reviews in a PC games magazine, or because they know me in real life. I think the overlap of this particular Venn diagram is a little on the small side.

I mention this because it creates a confusing dichotomy in my brain about what I want to write here. Sometimes I want to moan about being single or something, but then I think: oh no, there are strangers reading, strangers who might think I am some sort of love god, and how can I disillusion them? No. No, I don't ever really think that. But I do feel troubled about discussing the finer minutia of my morbid life.

Sometimes I want to moan about my degree, and where I am with my youth work qualifications. I've got less than a month to have all my fieldwork stuff in, and I'm ages behind on it all, due to being very lazy indeed. But I have to get it all sorted because otherwise I'll have wasted an enormous amount of the last two years. Not the actual youth work itself - that is what it is, independent of this silly degree. It's just that the degree leeches off the youth work, trying to make it all official and important and qualified and journalled and rubberstamped. The wasted time will have been all the stupid journals I have written, and all the tedious 'small group' meetings I've attended, and the endless forms and meetings and dilemmas and confrontations. Blimey, that's a bit sad - my motivation to finish is so the crappy times at least went towards something. I expect I'm just moping. I'm sure I'll have more enthusiasm soon. Perhaps I'll find it again after Deadline Day, June 11th. (That reminds me - when Kieron Gillen used to do Gamer's game commissions, they included the line, "And by 'deadline', we mean exactly that. The line which, if you cross, you will be made dead.")

I should mention some of the stuff I'm doing for PC Format. In the issue in the shops at the moment - the one with the stupid rubbish photo of a girl licking a graphics card, irony apparently - I have a four page feature all about file sharing and stuff. It's quite good. It's good enough that it annoyed Macrovision (people responsible for the copy protection on CDs and games) so much that they wanted to tell me off... by taking me out for lunch. How media-whore is that?! So this at once proved that there is indeed such a thing as a free lunch, and in fact one that gets you more paid work as a result of it. They sure showed me.

But there's other stuff too. As a result of that article, I'm supposed to be writing a monthly half page thing about file sharing and the RIAA and suchlike. Though I got myself in some trouble with that today. I made a comment about some senior editor bloke I don't know in my copy, and he - erk - read it. I wasn't rude or anything, I just said that I'd ignored something he'd said to do in the commission because it didn't work. He sent me a cross email. I imagine I'll be killed to death tomorrow for that.

But better, I have a monthly page now of writing about weird websites. It's not the most original idea, but I don't think it needs to be. It's a place to link to whatever websites have made me laugh or be impressed that month, and to look back on an old dead site that was once great. It's fun to write, so I'm really pleased to have that.

Plus, this month I got to realise an ambition that I've had for ages - I got to write about toilets in PC games.

For the last few years, it's been something of a running, er, joke, that I've pitched the idea of a feature about toilets in PC games. Obviously no one has ever said yes, because it's a rubbish idea that just amuses me to say out loud, but would probably be the worst thing ever if I had to do it. But, the perfect compromise was realised. Alec at Format commissioned a single page of it. I'm really pleased with the result - I've managed to get some really good genuine developer quotes, and put together a really deadpan (though completely ridiculous) page. I don't want to spoil any of the jokes or names of developers here, so if you're the only person who'll care about this, you've got just over a month to wait. I've also got a few pages about Sid Meier in the PCF out in a few days.

Interesting - the thing this entry was going to be about hasn't come up. I'll write that next, just above. However, instead, I think I've decided to be a bit more open and honest on this blog, whenever I get around to updating it. Who cares what strangers think? Well, I do, but let's ignore that. 8:19 pm [+]

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