Wednesday, July 10, 2024

Ranting for the beatified

Wells - Dithering capital of Britain (Warning: Rant)

I'm through with driving in Wells. I really am. The fannying about at junctions is just beyond the pale now. 

"Ooooohhh....should I go left or right, or right or left?? I don't know Margaret what do you think?"

...as the green goes to flashing amber.

Or someone twiddling their bits - 30 seconds of onanism at the lights - just can't help yourself can you?

I just don't get it. People who dither like this (cue monstrously reductive generalisation...) are invariably in micro minis or SUVs, looking to park, not reading signs, not paying attention and running through red traffic lights, or just stopping randomly. 

Balls to 'mirror - signal - manoeuvre'. Any form of adherence to the Highway Code is a sign of weakness.

Well I've had enough, okay?

I'm through with your private school mummy or daddy holding up the traffic to drop Chlamydia and Ptolemy right at the school gates in your SUV castle of entitled arrogance, or trying to park your spotless giant 4x4 you insist on owning - presumably because everyone in your upwardly mobile set has one - which has never even taken a B-road, into a hospital car parking bay and taking forever to park the thing, then you can't get out because the car's too wide.

Fuck fuck fuck.

You scum!!!!

Then you drive out of Wells and you're on an A-road all of which are single lane and for the best part impossible to overtake on, and the speed limit is 60MPH and there's someone up ahead in one these cars and they're holding everyone up doing 38MPH.

And you're stuck for miles, and the miles feel like a slow descent to hell.

And don't get me started on cyclists going the wrong way up the one way High Street. Their time will come.

Oh yes.

Their time will come.


And ...breathe...

Love me!

It’s a strange thing, but in some odd fantasy I imagine some of the popular kids at school get FTD or other rare dementias and join me on here and we become friends as I can help them and we also now have something in common.

Pathetic or what? Then I wake up and think, nah, fuck 'em.

Weird thing is the people I had beef with or who had beef with me, if I met them now on a superficial level at least, I'm sure we would get on. But when you do meet people from your past, it's as though  you pick up that unique group dynamic when you last left off.

The Hollywood director is still the class prat to us and the butt of friendly jibes.

The alpha male is now seen as a bit of a narcissist whose high opinion of himself is now reacted to with surreptitious smirks.

The paranoid one who was funny but volatile we now see as quite unhinged.

It's very easy to break back into those roles, or to suddenly have one's eyes opened with the wisdom of our years, to see someone for who they are, not who we thought they were.

As I've said before, I was not the easiest of people when I was younger. When I met J I was feeling pretty good - calm and kind, I like to think. I got ill a few years later and those dials of my character got moved around (think of your nan trying to find the volume control on an old cathode ray TV set, but moving everything else instead so the picture is now too contrasty, too brilliant, lacking in colour and way too loud) and well, the rest is history.

I know it can be difficult to think of your nan fiddling with nobs but I digress...

Why do I crave people's approval? I guess it all comes back to being socially awkward and wanting to fit in and be popular. It's also much easier when people are being kind and accommodating with each other as I'm not good at conflict.

Pathetic or what? 

Aren't we all, Deirdre? Aren't we all...


Recent purchase

They go with absolutely everything

Timmy Mallet goes to Pride. I love them. They're so out there that they really do go with nothing and at the same time (dualism) go with everything. I wear them with jeans, t-shirt and a buff on my head. I look like a court jester, with my big curly 'tache. 

It's a look I'm rocking

Dress how you want - balls to convention.

Life's too short innit?

Music

When I lived in London I got tickets to go and see Louis Cole live. I looked up the venue on YouTube and saw his last concert there. There he was playing this incredible music, with superb musicians and singers, and the crowd of people were just talking all the way through it. 

They were just there for a social occasion - oblivious to the amazing music. I decided I wouldn't go as with FTD I may have gone ballistic at them (this was pre-Sertraline) and get thrown out after headbutting them like dominos. 

An ex of mine told me she went to see her idol Stevie Wonder in Hyde Park, London. It was probably one of the last gigs he'd ever do and people were just talking all the way through it.

He's a living legend FFS!

Another phenomenon is people filming everything on their smartphones. So instead of taking in the entire concert in the present, you're instead being a videographer. Now, that's a different thing to being an audience member. All you end up with is a messy audio and the back of people's heads. 

There have been altercations in West end shows as people have come in drunk and have acted disgracefully (a bit like in Shakespeare's time).

I've gone to art-house cinemas and even there there are grown adults in the back row on their smartphones - you can see the lights of the screen in your peripheral vision. 

We seem to be becoming entirely REactive as a species - and it's all down to the addictive nature of social media. 

Here's an interesting video by musician and producer RIck Beato on the subject: 

Monstrous Elections

Goodbye venal 5th-rater scum, hello new government. 

However, thanks to our bizarre electoral system, Labour received just 34% of the national vote = 67% of the seats.  The worst served were the Reform Party who received 18% of the votes and got 5 MPs or just under 1% of the entire House of Commons.

(Sheds crocodile tear...)

Most Lib Dems ever - if you count them as the old Liberal Party, the most seats for 100 years or so. We went LibDem here, thank goodness.

The centre and left ganged up against the hard right in France to stop Le Pen.

I'm interested in what happens now to the Conservative Party and the battle which will ensue. There are so many factions  - did they lose because they weren't right wing enough? Or was it that the public had had enough of 14 years of a tanking economy compounded by the disaster that is Brexit, George Osborne's austerity for the poor, foodbanks, May's failure, Johnson's lies and deceit, partying during lockdown while his plutocrat buddies crammed their pockets full of taxpayers' money in order to deliver pisspoor PPE; Truss's disastrous 45 day premiership and the billions lost in that budget, and the shambles of venal 5th raters who are left?

Interesting times.

Very worrying with Biden now after THAT televised 'debate'. 

Gavin Newsom is the Democrat president-in-waiting direct from central casting. Can they persuade Sleepy Joe to go? 

The consequences are too dreadful to bear.

The world  - literally the world - holds its breath. 

I know Joe reads this blog and I will say this: 

Joe, please do the right thing and step aside. We (the world) need to beat Trump!

Thank you.


Sunday, June 30, 2024

Ramblings, inanity and an ode

Glastonbury is off the menu....

Thankfully it's far enough away (4.3miles according to Waze) for us to not be affected by it, let alone be able to hear it. 

Certain roads are totally impassable over this long weekend at the world's biggest pop festival.

Last year my favourite artist Louis Cole played. He was one of the first acts on the West Holts stage on Friday. I had a look at the line-up this year: not a single jazz-orientated band or artist could I see. No Thundercat, Louis Cole, Kamasi Washington or whoever.

The rest of the line up I either didn't know or wouldn't get out of bed for. Lots of earnest and not-particularly-talented indie rockers, middle-classed punkers and has-beens. 

I read today Coldplay were good - but they are highly competent musicians who put on a proper show. 

Just saw a clip. So bland. Jesus. 

I'll interrogate friends who were there to see what acts were good, once they've returned to planet earth. 

I went to Glastonbury for the day in both 84 and '87. It was so different then. This was even before the ravers arrived, which was a big thing at the time as the old school hippies didn't want the festival to turn into an acid-house rave, which of course it did.

Wandering around semi-drunk on excruciatingly disgusting cider (malt vinegar with 'bits' in) looking at crap stalls and acts that really didn't do it. Wander off again. 

Back in the 80s the stalwarts were reggae bands like Black Uhuru and Burning Spear, indie bands like Spear of Destiny, Hawkwind and The Enid (for the hippies), and some other punk bands or post-punk like New Model Army and Killing Joke.

No corporate fields, no mega-stars, the sales pitch ringing out was 'Black hash, black hash!' and everything was overpriced as you were stuck there. 

I remember the anti-capitalist hedge-monkeys selling 25p cans of lager for £2 a pop. 

Yeah! Right on man!

Toilets with an Everest of human shit and flies poking through the seat. 

And the crowds! 

If it wasn't quite my thing then, with FTD it would be my worst nightmare.

Now you drive your Range Rover there, paint your face and act like a hippy for a weekend, leave the tent for some minion to dispose of, and drive back to your desk job at Slater Nazi in the City.

As you can tell, this curmudgeon never really understood festivals!

Sport

For or against? I like watching team sports - less good with other stuff. Found myself watching videos of Ronaldinho. He was wonderful. 

It's in stark contrast to the Euro Cup on at the moment. England have been so conservative and dull so far. I'm not a football fan, so has the game changed in the last 20 years to become in effect a possession -at-all-costs and zero risk affair? I get it that tournaments make all teams play differently, but the lack of creativity and flair is difficult to watch. 

Watching the NRL (Australia's Rugby League on the other hand is something else. I love the athleticism and warrior attitude of the players. The skill-set and bravery of the players is something else. Rarely is there a dull game.

And then Wimbledon is about to begin. Being a bit of a Joey I was crap at tennis. I have no interest in the game. 

Darts for the middle-classes.

Pseudo intellectual rambling

It was our monthly FTD group meeting the other day. Being a bunch of dementeds, there was a bit of confusion about the timing - 5pm in British Summer Time (BST)  or 5pm in Singapore Time Zone (SGT)?

I've always been fascinated by who I am, who I really am, who I want to be, and then trying to be at peace with who I actually am. And who truly knows themselves 100% even in an entire lifetime? 

Is anyone truly self-aware enough to realise how they impact the world around them in the present moment?

I throughly doubt it. But it's something to aim for.

Looking backwards and analysing a situation (self-reflection) is easier the older you get - and if you don't have an inkling of how you impact the world by the time you're 40 and are angry with the world because it's not exactly what you want it to be, then you're probably a lost cause.

I've always looked to myself as the problem and am highly self-critical, to my own detriment. I guess I want things to be perfect, not just good. 

I want to be witty and to have responded in a social situation with the best one-liner ever, but it fell flat or was cruel or just wasn't as funny as I thought. How can I avoid that? What should I have said?

Oh hindsight - what a bastard you are!

Story of my life. Some people just seem to find life really easy. Or they give that impression at least. I've never been one of them. I was always awkward at school. Saw the popular kids. Then similarly to girls with autism, I just tried to mask my insecurities and social spasticity by copying. 

Literally copying.

Who are we? Do we ever really know ourselves? Can we ever be honest enough to delve into the darker corners of ourselves and deal with what's there?

Probably not. 

But at any given moment, what is governing my actions? 
  • Am I having a good or bad day with my dementia?
  • Did I sleep well last night?
  • Am I stressed or relaxed? 
  • Why? Should I be?
  • Did I drink too much last night?
  • Have I drunk too much now?
  • Am I annoying Blaise?
  • Should I go home?
So many questions, so many variables. I'm glad I did a Mindfulness course to at least have the ammunition to realise the separation of SELF and STUFF. 

But the above bullet points I see like a bar chart or graphic equaliser, and try to quantify each metric in any given moment.

There's Geraint residing somewhere within my damaged brain, and then gravitating around me, my emotions, reactions, observations, motives, desires. Because I don't practice Mindfulness everyday I'm not as self-aware as I should be, but it's a good thing to at least have the knowledge of IT.

What was I saying again?

Gaming 

I ran Icewind Dale on Thursday for the Wells D&D crew. We missed Katy who has fled Pilton to avoid the festival influx (300,000?) on the village. 

I think it was a good game. I played a new wizard called Velynne. She is a posho who came to wizardry later in life, has had trauma evident in her shaking hands, talks about her débutante past with fondness, and is hanging out with the party. I like fleshing the characters out. It doesn't take much and it make s the role-playing part much more visceral and in fact easier.

On Wednesday I played Larry's Temple of Elemental Evil which was brilliant as ever - huge dungeon crawl and massive drawn-out fights. Very complicated they are, and great fun.

Monday's session with Sacha and the boys in D&G (D&D for dyslexics) was cancelled.

But Friday's fortnightly Pathfinder was a 4 hour session run by Stephen down in Rowden's Road. I like Pathfinder or 3.75 as it's known to role-players. It's a very catholic version of D&D to the rather puritan D&D 5.0. You get much more of everything - choices, special abilities, magic items - and as the DM describes it - it's more 'crunchy' -  as in number-crunching.

Because all games are essentially numbers disguised by scenarios. That's why the maths guys can 'break' a game - they scan the feats and abilities, take this that and the other, and not only can their character not be hit, it obliterates everything in front of them.

I like my witch - middle-aged lady who looks and talks a bit like 40 something Mary Beard, and hexes everything in sight. 

She used to have a stall in Camden Market.

We're doing okay in a system I used to play and which the others have never played. Good fun, and always interesting to pick up methods and tips from other game masters.

And now a poem what I wrote...

Ode to my winkle

Oh....my...winkle is a super

It came with a winkle hat

A surgeon hacked it off one day

Now what d'you think of that?


Oh my winkle is a-shrinking

It used to be magnif'

But after forty years of use

It's fallen off a cliff


Oh my winkle's short and wrinkled

It looks like a walnut whip

It's brown and short and stubby

with a light brown crusty tip


Now my winkle has retired

It got me from a to b

I liked my little winkle

But now it's just for wee.


Monday, June 24, 2024

Average post about dementia

An Apology

I know these posts are becoming more irregular, the quality goes up and down, and they also reflect my mood (so I've been told).

My day consists of walking Tomos, meeting the other dog walkers, letting the dogs play, then going to the pet shop where Tomos jumps onto the counter with both paws so they can throw him treats. We then buy a dried bit of an animal and go back to his home where he munches that part of the animal.

I come home, and make myself breakfast (smoothie, coffee, porridge with a teaspoon of honey) and then catch-up with the news and YouTube subscriptions. 

I might even perform my ablutions...

Buying food, some chores around the house. Then  watch reams and reams of YouTube. If I'm doing chores I listen to Times Radio or The Rest is Politics or Page 94  -the Private Eye podcast. If I'm shopping I just have the noise-cancelling on and nothing else as you'd be amazed how loud supermarkets are - the chatter, the air-con units, the trolleys etc. 

I no longer have a subscription to The Times but I like the radio show as it features some of my favourite hacks - Matt Chorley, Giles Coren, James Marriott, Rachel Sylvester among others. It can be very funny.

I am actually reading The Guardian. I also watch John Harris who I've seen speak at one of those posh festivals - and he just goes to small towns and talks to people in the street about what their concerns are. He's so personable and unpretentious - he just gets people to unload. He's quite brilliant at it.

So what have you been up to then?

Gosh. Er, I'm not sure. I'll have to look it up on the calendar. 

Erm, not much it would appear. 4 game sessions last week, looking at buying a gaming computer but can't justify it, watching YouTube, and 2/3 nights of heavy drinking. Not big or clever. At least I'm not drinking at home anymore.

This week I have been doing lots of gaming - 2 sessions on Wednesday alone - and running my Thursday group. At the beginning of the session I couldn't remember the last location the party were at so I went with one and got it wrong - they'd killed the giants a two to three weeks previously.

That was a bit worrying. Making new memories is, you see.

So it wasn't the greatest start. Everyone seems to love the role-playing bits, so I can get all RADA about it and camp it up.

Making up daft names and basing the characters on other kids' mums from school, amalgams of people I've met and sometimes just putting a few traits on a piece of paper and assuming a [silly] accent.

One example is I'm using Mrs Sxxxxx as a rather scary Tiefling (cambion) Wizard called Avarice. She speaks to the characters in a rather emotionless Thames estuary monotone, constantly berating them for their failings and general incompetence. 

I should have done acting but I was so incredibly oversensitive as a child I could not bear to be made fun of, so I daren't expose myself on stage.

So I'm doing it now. It's nice to improvise  - I wouldn't be able to memorise a script anyway - especially now.

What I SHOULD be doing

I should have performed my ablutions already, that's for certain.

I should be making notes on Icewind Dale  - this has become procrastination No1 for weeks now.

I should have replaced Nerys's sills.

I should be doing more chores around the house.

I should be reducing my drinking even further.

I should be more careful when I'm out and about. But I love socialising and when the mood takes me I don't want to stop.

I should manage it all a little bit better though.

Rediscovery of the Week

Then I found this - from Around the Horne - the super-popular 1960s comedy radio programme. I always loved these camp comedians from this era but especially our Kenny. 

An autodidact, but a really troubled, conflicted soul, who was disgusted by his homosexuality, he could be utterly charming and hilarious one minute, then utterly vulgar and cruel the next.

He read lots of stories on Jackanory and he was spell-binding. And also the Carry On films of course.

I love his word play and erudition, his voices and outrageousness. Poor bugger. 


We don't have characters like that anymore.

Thought for the day

A therapist is someone you pay to tell you that you're right and everyone else is wrong. 



Tuesday, June 11, 2024

Dementia Philosophy Post

Epicurus or Zeno?

I was never interested at all in Biology or Chemistry, but I loved Physics. When I did Julius Caesar for O-Level English Literature I looked into Brutus and Cassius's philosophers of choice: Zeno the stoic for Brutus and Epicurus for Cassius.

In short, stoicism is living a life of virtue accordance with nature, where calm reasoning supersedes emotion.

Epicureanism is about living life to its pleasure without resort to Hedonism. It was a version of  Zen in its own way - you wanted peace, pleasure in small things and no excess in materialism or emotion.

Sound quite similar, but they became opposites.

To me reading up on these guys was a revelation, and much more interesting than the text was then to a 15 year old boy who liked looking out of the window.

Physics and philosophy - the subjects of dreamers. Now that would have been a curriculum I could have got behind.

In the end art and history for A-Levels.

When I retrained I chose stonemasonry but in retrospect I should have been a field archeologist.

Hindsite is a bastard.

Morning Walks

I love walking Tomos. He's such a happy dog. He wants to meet everyone and say hello. 

Today we stopped by the moat and saw the cygnets who are now growing up and are half the size of their parents but still with the grey plumage.

We also saw tiny baby moorhens! 

I love their feet too.

They were the size of a goose egg each, with black fluff and bright red beaks. There must have been 8 of them. They were so tiny they would alternate between paddling and then walking on the pondweed. Like Rallycross, but for wildfowl.

Tomos is always looking to run and play with other dogs. Some dog owners are very nervous, and unsurprisingly their dogs become nervous wrecks too. Dogs are social animals and the majority of the dogs we let off in the field by the moat and they run and play bitey-face for as long as they can. Tomos being of great working stock can go on all day.

Elmer Tomos
I hate getting out of bed but I really enjoy walking Tomos and meeting the other dog walkers. Yin and Yang, eh? 

Or to put it another way, bloody 'dualistic world shit', to quote the great thinkers Derek and Clive.

Gaming Bit

Back playing Baldur's Gate 3 on the computer.

Rosie is my little halfling (Hobbit) bard. She's leading the merry band of misfits through the Sword Coast and into the Underdark. She's 3 foot high with red hair, facial tattoos and piercings. She's already slept with 2 of her party. I think she'll have all of them by the end of this adventure. 

It's good fun running through this again. It beats endlessly pouring over my D&D adventure book waiting for the information to absorb into my brain. 

There are so many variables involved in this game - almost impossible to have the exact same experience twice.

You see I can feel my interest in tabletop D&D waining. I've had this before a few years ago and then it came back with a vengeance, so hopefully that will be the case now.

Maybe I'm no longer able to make new memories, which is why when Dungeon Mastering older adventures I've run before it's easier. I'm hoping that this adventure just happens to be an anomaly and that I'll be back in the thick of things, living and breathing the adventure we're playing at any one time and able to run it like I used to, acting out the characters, doing their voices and describing the story in rich detail with all the atmosphere intended.

If not then there's nothing I can do anyway, and I'll have to move on and find something else. I still enjoy playing, which is much easier to do. 

That's where the stoicism comes in.

Hives

This is a recent thing. I thought they were bedbugs or cat fleas initially, but they're either an allergy or a response to stress. 

Being on Sertraline I'm never that conscious of being stressed, but J and I are going through the divorce proceedings and she's been really good with me. It will all work out for the best. However, the process is not unstressful.

The hives may be an allergic reaction to soft fruit. I'm eating a lot of strawberries at the moment.

In fact, the timing is so apt me being here for my parents as both can't move very far and rely on me to do the shopping, ferry them to and from medical establishments and do other stuff for them. 

Is this part of a cosmic plan? Is everything settling in place as part of the grand narrative?

Bollocks it is.

Anyway, my brain hurts now.

Monday, June 3, 2024

The (brain) fog is growing thicker, as am I

Weekend in London

Just come back. Left on a coach on Sunday morning, getting to Hammersmith at 12pm precisely, then met the players in the Willoughby as normal - or as normal used to be -  and played Soulbound RPG. It's a bit like D&D in a broken world of dread fantasy. It uses a simpler d6 system as opposed to a D20 system, so it's easier to pick up.

Adrian ran it and it was very good, even though my character got ripped to shreds at the end. 

It was a noble sacrifice. 

I then stayed at Adrian and Lisa's and had a lovely meal in the garden, and watched as Lisa pointed out a flying stag beetle in the sky above, which zipped past at 10pm, which are endangered thanks to humans.

I then went to bed early, zonking out at 11pm in the room with my amphibious and invertebrate buddies, croaking and hissing away. It's like falling asleep in a rainforest without the getting-eaten bit.

Morning: I'm incapable of logistics these days (one of the reasons my work became impossible) so I got to New Malden station to see Sacha and Alice, but then panicked about trains being late and missing my train home, so I texted my apologies and ran back onto the platform.

Nerys was at Castle Cary to pick me up at 2pm. And here I am. 

I am absolutely hanging inside - I feel like I need descaling from head to toe. I need to be abstemious for a while; my stomach is distended and I feel like shit. 

Let's try and bring myself back on the tracks.

Pond Life

You see, I've become almost completely reactive. Just watching YouTube clip after YouTube clip. 

Reading only a bit. 

Sat here in my man-cave looking out of the window then turning 90' back to my screen. My brace of views.

Going to the supermarket, walking Tomos. Taking one of my parents to the hospital or doctor what seems like twice a week.

Going to the pub. Drinking too much. 

When I walk Tomos I think dumb things, make up stupid names like Dame Hillary Frankensplurter or Cedric Mufflespart, Doris Minge...that kind of thing.

I resort to childish playground humour. 

(If you hadn't noticed.)

Walking in Waterloo station today, wearing a Mutley T-shirt, I felt I looked rather like a disabled - dressed funny by my mother - in contrast to all these stylish people walking past. 

What the well dressed man in Wells is wearing this season

Damn. I used to be stylish - more so than these buggers. I should try harder. 

You just don't get the gentlemen's outfitters in Wells.

You help your mates

It was nice to meet up with people this weekend. 

A lot of the gaming sessions have been cancelled recently for one reason or another, which is disappointing. Still, last week during half-term I had a call from my friend Katy, of Edspired Tutoring fame. She was running a game in Pilton Working Men's Club for the kids, and she was suffering with food poisoning. 

That morning, Jacqui and I had had a difficult but necessary meeting about our divorce, which I'm glad we had. I received the distress call from Katy in the form of a text-message at 10.43am midway through the meeting, and managed to get to Pilton by 12.30.

Katy was white as a sheet and really having a horrible time, so we co-ran the game  - the kids were really good actually - aged from about 9-14. Very sweet some of them. And they knew the game too. 

It was nice to help. Because that's what we do for each other.

Without that, what do we have?

This is one of my favourite YouTube clips. Because this guy is a real character and epitomises the phrase 'salt of the earth'.


Reasons to be cheerful

When you're having a bit of a lull in your abilities it's important to try and keep going and concentrate on the stuff you can do. I can a still run a game of D&D but I'm not all 'over it' like I used to be. What I mean is, I don't know it as vivdly as past adventures. The key parts haven't resonated in my mind like they used to. It's all a bit more hazy.

It's a combination of my deteriorating cognitive faculties and that this particular adventure is just more difficult to run. 

Well, anyway, whilst I can still do these things so that people don't notice, I won't be able to forever. Maybe one day I'll just say - 'I can't do it anymore' - and that day will come sooner or later. 

Shame, as I've got some really good Kickstarters due to arrive over the next 12 months that I may not be able to appreciate...

So, I've had some really nice times recently/ Meeting up with Tanith, Robin, Anita and Nerys, bumping into Aisha and having a gossip with her, meeting Matt and Floyd outside my house on their daily walks for a chat, catching up with Herb and his dog Daisy when I'm walking Tomos in the morning, and then looking forward to playing online on Monday evenings with Tim, Sacha, Eddie and Boyd, on Wednesdays with Larry, Callum and Ross, and on Thursdays in person with the Wells crew of Simon, Matt, Luke, Katy and Hannah, then the socials with Clare and everyone else.

And in the summer going to stay with Mat and Suzy and Rupert and Sophie, and more gaming and lounging and chatting and relaxing, and hopefully seeing Mark H and Will and Ben and Becks in Wells some time.

I'm conscious that I'm actually lucky to know so many people, have an active social life and have things to look forward to. Because some people don't, and I can't imagine how depressing that must be.

And also Helen Mirren.
Thank you, universe.





Sunday, May 19, 2024

Enough of this simulation

Sir, this earth simulation has malfunctioned

What? They've invented a what? An internet? What type of thing is that?

Well sir, that's where all the information in their world is available on their palmtop devices in an instant.

Sounds marvellous. And the problem is what?

Well sir, facts and misinformation are served up on the same platter as you will, and the residents find it very difficult to ascertain the truth from the lies.

Anyway, I thought they were dealing with climate change? What are they doing?

Er. Well some people  - the scientific community - are all for solving it, The others, aren't. 

The others? Who are they?

Well, mainly oil sponsors, the misinformed, billionaire plutocrats - that type of thing,

Ah. I see. So what's happened?

Well, while they had liberal democracies who were accountable all over the planet, they're now electing bigoted idiots instead, who appeal to the worst instincts of the mob and who are bankrolled by the billionaires with their vested interests. It's got to the stage where it's beyond saving.

Ah well...obliterate earth 10056/QQQQX9 and pull up another one. The experiment must succeed!

Yes sir.

Sir, we're running out of them...

Time

When you're 50 a decade is one 5th of your life. 

When you're 5 a year is one fifth of your life.

You're always looking backwards on your life which is why our perception of it is that it speeds up exponentially.

Our brains also dismiss the things we've done many times, whereas a toddler experiences everything for the first time and records it. We should try and do new things all the time, but having FTD, I only seek familiarity and routine. 

https://drdavidhamilton.com/why-time-speeds-up-as-you-age/

2 for 1 sale at the hospital

Parents were ill recently. I won't go into details, you'll be pleased to know, but they synchronised maladies so when one went in the other followed: different illnesses but at the same time.

So Thursday to Monday was taken up with going back and forth to Yeovil. It's about 30 miles, and takes thankfully only 45 minutes as the road is quite fast.

The standard of driving is so bad these days, with both type of idiots on the road: ditherers and boy racers. 

Boy racers, often in an older BMW M-series, over-take like nutters and disappear in a roar into the horizon.

20 miles later you're right behind them at a junction.

And the ditherers....Jesus.

It's enough to make you demented.

Get stopped by the police much?

The doctor found out Dad had pneumonia in one lung. Now he's taken 2 day's worth of antibiotics and he's already back at Tescos talking loudly about how the fish counter isn't what it was.

That's progress, though on Monday we're at Taunton checking out the dodgy pacemaker.

Antique humans.

Thursday D&D group

D&D group wanted me to name-check them. Well tough. Matt, Katy, Luke, Hannah and Simon can all do one.

I'm not in the business of cheap publicity.

Except for myself.

Having had a cancelled session due to ill parents, the last session we had went really well. It all takes place in the eerie, perpetually dark and frozen Icewind Dale. Lots of sinister things are happening as the party travel from town to town, sorting things out, but then discovering more intrigue and twists and plots as they go. They're now third level which means they are starting to get tougher - more resilient and potent. 

I'm feeling more confident running this adventure but it's all still very cloudy in my mind in comparison to previous adventures - some of which I've known inside-out. 

Now I know the bare minimum and have my notes to remind me. I still need to précis the rest of the adventure. Getting round to doing it is another thing entirely.

I guess that's just the way things are from now on. I cancelled my newspaper subscription for the same reason - assimilating the information is still doable, but retaining it is very difficult.

Bad Habits

Been drinking way too much. Feel like a kettle that is badly in need of descaling. 2-3 bottles of strong beer every night.

Well last night I didn't, and I need to keep that going for a while. I love the taste of the stuff but then don't know when to stop. Last night I had some Yogi tea and watched some TV. I didn't crave beer. It was easy.

Weird relationship with alcohol. 

I dreamt I could levitate. It was really nice, but people weren't that impressed. I contacted a post-grad researcher at a London university in order to prove scientifically that I wasn't a fraud. He was the only one genuinely intrigued and amazed at my super-power. 

Cut to a few months later and everyone in the world could levitate too. 

Story of my life, that.

Good Habits

I've been watching 2 new YouTube channels. One is Mr Frog. This guys has a bunch of amphibians and a bearded lizard, and they stand around while he feeds them [warning] live cockroaches and worms. He puts in weird little sound effects. I find it hilarious.



The second is a guy called Ari who is a polyglot - he has an amazing ear for languages and can learn conversational anything within 2-3 weeks. It's a bit showy-offy but...the joy he brings to everyone when he speaks their language is palpable. I think it's great. 


I'm watching fewer videos about Trump as they're clickbait and all the same, and instead more music and sports videos. I've enjoyed walking Tomos too, and I've been looking after the old folks a bit more while they get back on their feet. The chores give me more get up and go as I would just sit on my arse all day otherwise, and once you're up and about you see more stuff that needs to be done.


Tuesday, April 30, 2024

I find you very puerile...

Sympathy for the Beige

Spare a thought for dull celebrities. I know I know, they make a lot of money. 

'He's a great bloke. He's got loads of money.' 

Yes, unlike that lovely old pensioner down the road living on government handouts. Evil witch.

Anyway, I digress...

These people are efficient yet dull: human Mars bars.

Ronan Keating of Boyzone fame


One such person is Ronan from Boyzone. They sang banal covers of sugary, forgotten 70s popsongs. They resurrected these hideous things like the terpsichorean necromancers they were.

Then they got old and wretched and Ronan found himself on daytime TV. 

He has no sense of humour and nothing interesting to say. Just wallpaper. Suits the medium I guess.

But when he sang in the group he affected this weird speech impediment. His handlers must have advised him to. 

"Ronan" they said, "you're almost see-through. Lose a leg or something. The viewers barely notice you!"

So rather than becoming the world's first quadriplegic pin-up he bottled it and instead developed this weird speech impediment.

'Say' became 'Shay' or even 'ßay'.

That's the lengths beige people have to go to to be interesting. 

So sad.

Another is Dermot O'Leary, or rather, Dermot O'Dreary. The girls loved him. But if you just listen to him without looking at his front-head you'll see what I mean. 

Years ago I was driving on the M4 and turned the FM radio on. All I could get was Radio 2 and inbetween the dull music - where even Elbow are considered too out-there to be on the playlist - he was bloody presenting this radio show.

 Just muttering endlessly about absolutely fuck-all. I felt myself nodding off - it was more effective than sleep songs or ambient music on The Calm App or chloroform.

It was actually dangerous - no one should have let him on there because it was hazardous to motorists.

And then he presents X-Factor or Britain's got no talent whatsoever, with the Great Satan and Death Becomes Her. More banality for the masses.

I mean how bloody beige can you get?

He's professional and efficient and dull. The Chartered Accountant of television presenting. 

Actually that would be Sophie Raworth. 

I feel bad for them all. I really do.

Poor bastards.

Talking of accents...

I was assisting a photographer friend of mine once upon a time. I set up the lights, and tried to make the subjects feel at ease. 

One lad  - posh Edinburgh - had just joined the particular accountancy firm we were doing the shoot at, and was nervous. He had a big round head and a chubby body, bursting out of a fashionably tight suit. It wasn't the greatest styling.

Anyway, I asked him what he'd done recently, just to take his mind off things.

"I went to the cinemahh with some friends."

Oh, what did you see?

"Ted."

Did you like it?

"I found it very puerile."

I had to stop myself laughing - there's something about that accent that's so snooty and dismissive and of course so funny. 

Of course Ted is puerile - that's the whole point. 

I'd seen it too and thought it was hilarious. But then, I am its target audience.

It's a Miss Jean Brodie accent. In my mind somewhere between Denis Law and Fyfe Robertson with an altogether disdainful tone, and best spoken with nostrils flared.

Ayn Rand down the pub (who's been banned for 2 weeks - ha ha) speaks like that too. Can't wait to see him again when he's taking court with his bitches, spewing his plutocratic nonsense for the whole pub to hear, and talking of 'silly, opinionated women.'

Yes, how dare they...

I shall challenge the fucka. And then write about it HERE! John Otway will guide my debating style:




Lots of dot dot dots...

Yes. Punctuation. There's a thing. 

For or against?

The apostrophe was always a problem. Brought in to the English language by the Georgians, apparently most people have a problem with it.

Well, I say most people are DUMB!

Get over it and LEARN THE RULES!

That's why I'm the world's worst teacher. Doing it for them or hitting them over the head with a travel-anvil because they don't get it.

What are you up to these days, Geraint?

I'm glad you asked me that, Clarence. 

I'm writing in a posh Edinburgh accent as you can tell. 

My days are spent reading and weaning myself off of 'what's Trump said now?' videos on YouTube.

I walk Tomos every day. I speak to the dog-walkers who don't mind my presence - getting fewer by the day, restraining-orders being what they are.

I shop at Waitrose and Tescos. I sometimes meet up with people one-on-one. I see my sister. 

I need to get away at weekends more and see friends out and about.

I sometimes wash.

(Only joking.)

I cleaned the bathroom the other day - I had to be asked even though I knew it needed to be done.

I should mow the grass but I like seeing the dandelions and daisies. I remember buttercups too - don't see those anymore.

Everyone has to have a uniform lawn here. But no one ever wrote a poem about a lawn. But meadows seemed to inspire lots of people.

Oh lawny lawn,

Oh lawny lawny.

Come to me,

I'm really horny

Doesn't work.

End. 

(E.E.Cummings, aged 12 and a half.)

Oh, I ended up watching - bingeing - Fallout on Prime. It was wonderful. 9/10.

Our hero.


Tuesday, April 23, 2024

D&D-skilling

Being Boring

So I had this whole blogpost. And it was so boring; I didn't want to inflict it on you.

So you'll be pleased to learn I haven't.

I'm so interesting I have a series of novelty t-shirts. This is the latest:
My Mother does not approve

I have had many compliments from people in the pub. Well, it is the height of wit and sophistication, after all. 

That settles it: I shall buy some more.

I've always wanted a t-shirt that says 'The band on your t-shirt is crap.' You could have a whole load:

'All your opinions are rubbish'
'Why do you work at that place?'
'You're the Dungeon Master...' (I hear that a lot.)
'Why that outfit?'

They could really have an impact. Thought-provoking and fight-inducing Tees.

I should also write my guide-book for elderly - 'Around London in 13 toilets.' 

That's a good dollar, the toilet market.

Hampshire

I spent the weekend with friends in Hampshire. I'm very lucky to have friends like these - proper friends. Always there for each other.

Their dog Douglas is a golden Labrador and he is lovely. He's very calm and loving. 

I do love dogs as you know.

It's lovely to have them in your life. I've come to believe animals are nicer than humans. Well, I don't personally know any Komodo Dragons or stonefish, but you get what I mean.

Rupert (human) is very nice too. I keep calling him Wilbur (dog). I have no idea why.

Typing and flab

My typing is getting worse. Much worse. I'm having to correct so much of it as I go. I do have bad days and good days with these things.

In fact I've just raised the chair and I've already improved my typing...

But with FTD while you have ups and downs, your head will never be clear of the fog again.

So while the panic is over, I do notice decline in certain areas.

I'm properly flabby now too. 

Again.

So I am improving my breakfasts with porridge with seeds , berries and real honey. I had it this morning and it took almost the same time to make as toast. Easy. And delicious too.

I also need to borrow my sister's bike and ride around as my legs are like Crazy Legs Crane's.

Exhibit A


TV and Shit

So, as new TV series drip-drip through after the actors' strike in the US, here are some what I watched recently.

For All Mankind on Apple TV. Started off interestingly with an alternate history where the USSR beat NASA to the moon. It then focuses on the families of the astronauts. I started to fast forward through those bits to the actiony bits. This is not what sci-fi really is. I'd say it became rather like Eldorado in space. 5/10.

3 Body Problem on Netflix. Based on a 4 part series of sci-fi novels by Liu Cixin. It features lots of improbable cigarette smoking in Western offices and the Wow signal from 1977, which a Chinese scientist decoded and replied to, which turns out not to have been the best idea. It's interesting. I binged it over a couple of days so it must be good. 8/10

Fallout on Prime. Interesting and beautifully styled. But like a book I didn't watch it the next night and then 2 weeks passed. DO I care about the people in it? Not really. 6.5/10

The gaming bit you always ignore

On my 2-part session of DMing for the kids over Easter, I asked them in preparation to specifically use the old analogue method of character creation with dice, pen and paper: creating the character from concept, through to rolling for their ability scores, selecting their skills, abilities and spells, then methodically working them up to level 4, which makes them more powerful and involves some thought and some arithmetic.

2 of them did, and 3 didn't. 

The three who didn't just pressed go on the computer charactermancer and ended up with characters whose ability scores were random, so you can get a super intelligent barbarian who has the physicality of a middle-aged librarian, and the kids get frustrated because their characters are useless.

It's not much fun when you can't even pick up your battleaxe.

The modern world is all about labour-saving, shortcuts, saving time. The offshoot is deskilling: being oblivious to processes and ultimately being unable to fix or improve things.

We are reduced to pressing a button on a computer which number-crunches in microseconds, making the decisions for you.

The next session I run we are going to roll characters in the old way, which is actually part of the fun, but it does involve some thought.

I know reading big books can be a bore, but you really could force yourself to just read the bit that's applicable to your character. 

I made a late start to photography after buying a terrible digital camera in 2003, and then I went to college and learned photography using a totally manual, large-format camera and made expensive mistakes using 5"x4" Polaroids and film. 

I learned to use my own judgement when using any camera after that. 

Similarly with masonry - some people calling themselves masons can't use the hand-tools, and some places on site you can't get to with an angle-grinder - mallet and chisel is the only way.

We have deskilled ourselves over generations. Understandable as many of the jobs were exhausting and let's face it, horrible. 

But the upshot of this is we are becoming Eloi and Morlocks. And fast.

Conclusion: you can never learn too many skills. 

Icewind Dale

I'm currently preparing the above title for our next 8 month long Dungeons and Dragons adventure. Like Tomb of Annihilation it takes place in an extreme environment, and is epic in scale.

But what is slightly off-putting is the size of these adventures: this book is 300 pages long, and details new monsters, characters who the players will meet, environmental hazards, small quests, side-quests, the main quest(s). 

Let's play humans!

I can imagine this being very off-putting for new players/Dungeon Masters.

When I started 40 years ago, an adventure was 12-30 pages long, written by computer programmers (without being computer programs) and you needed to almost decode the entire adventure in order for it to make sense and be playable. 

But they were concise, the information was all there, and once you got used to them they were easy to run.

Now they're 10 times the size. That's a big difference.

But we started last Thursday and had a good time. The session zero was great - we fleshed out the characters and they are already very distinctive. 

Let's go!





Friday, April 5, 2024

Optimum Girths

Comparing Nibs

I don't think many people hand-write much these days apart from shopping lists. I hand write lots - having written a diary since I was a teenager.

I mentioned this to Mark the other day on a video call and we got our nibs out and had a comparison.

He surprised me by getting out his vintage Parkers. Beautiful things, So elegant.

While some people love watches, I love stationery.

Here are 3 of my pens: 2 Rotring Art Pens and a Lamy Accent. I had a Cross which I wrote with for years but it recently bit the big one. So I took up with the Lamy Again.

Some pens


Post

I love getting things in the post and today was a very special day. 

In 1992 on the Tottenham Court Road I did a personality test. It said I was a very BAD person.

I didn't want to be a BAD person. Luckily they had a book which would make me into a GOOD person.

It was called Dianetics.

I bought it but didn't read it. 

32 years later they're still sending me these every few months.
Contains a lock of Tom Cruise's pubes, destined for Ebay

I love how desperate/persistent they are. They have less than 40,000 estimated people left in Scientology and as a result they are running out of money. 

One of the good things about the internet is now everyone can see how preposterous it is as nothing is hidden - they can't keep a lid on their secrets anymore.

We all know about hydrogen bombs and Thetans and volcanoes and Xenu. It's laughably-bad trash-sci-fi made into a religion. And we can all see it and make fun of it all, which of course they cannot bear.

Good.

And then my new pants came as well. 
State of the (f)art pant
What a day! Can't wait to wear these bad boys.

Think I'll get the letter framed.

Accents

I like accents

When I was at school kids were bussed in from surrounding villages I'd never heard of. Some of them had accents so thick I could barely understand them.

You never hear westcountry accents elsewhere - especially London. Everyone assumes you're dumb if you speak in the westcountry burr, so if you have one people tend to lose them.

People in London - especially public school types - also think that about the Welsh. Don't believe me? Having Welsh parents I'm particularly sensitive to these things, and people say the most extraordinary things they wouldn't dare say about West Indian or Pakistani people anymore, instead directing their bigotry against other minorities.

I realise the animosity works both ways.

But you get my point.

Now that I've returned to the town of my birth I seldom hear those very strong accents from 40 years ago. I think with decades of radio, television and now social media those accents have homogenised. 

The BBC has an archive of regional accents going back to the 1920s in remote parts of rural Britain, and most have disappeared.

Thanks to those awfully bright people who run the BBC, it's no longer available.

Anus is best said in a south African accent. The south African tongue around ‘anus’ is something to behold; something to savour.

“Yah. EYEnoose is my five-reet word.” (How to speak South African.)

“ ‘andy tups.” What you get from watching daytime TV.

The same person said:

"When I shout at someone, it's all over after that."

 Well, it may be all over for you, but it may not be for them.

Bloody cardigan-wearer.

The size of heads

I have a very large head. It is in disproportion to my puny frame. I take a XL in hats. 

Not a large - AN XL!!

Jacqui has a very small head. Think a lemon and a grapefruit.


As scientific as it gets

I wish I didn't have such a massive head. 

I wish I was a little bit taller...

Why I want to live in a Carry on world

I want Barbara Windsor to wiggle past to the music of Eric Rogers.



I want Charles Hawtrey to keep a hot water bottle under his kilt because it keeps his dangler warm.

I want Valerie Leon to work in a camping shop and show me how to get the [tent} pole up.

I want Terry Scott to be Tarzan.

I want Kenneth Williams to be Kenneth Williams over and over again.

I want Bernard Bresslaw to say 'I only arsked' in his high-pitched voice.

I want Sid James to be the lothario and do his laugh and go "Cor blimey!" when he sees a naked lady.

I want Joan Sims to be absolutely disgusted when the nude men turn around.

I want compulsory double entendres.

I want distinctive, infectious laughter.

I want silly to replace depression.

I want to be a highly repressed male surrounded by right dolly birds.

And what is wrong with that?



Oh. Okay.