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I post infreqently, and badly.

I'm on twitter.

And facebook although I'm only really there out of professional curiosity.

And I started this thing for gamers which kind of grew.

Recent front page messages:

Been a while ....

(Thu 10th Aug 2006, 14:26, More)

Best answers to questions:

» Stuff I've found

Mana from Heaven
At a time in my life when there wasn't really enough money to go round, my partner and I managed to scrape together enough money to go on a holiday - the first time we'd managed if for several years. Popping down to the travel agents we discovered, to our joy, that if we took every bargain basement option available to us we could just - just - afford to to the golden triangle of Italy: Venice, Florence and Rome, something we'd always wanted to do.

We were overjoyed, but there was a small problem. There was very little money left to actually take as spending money. So we arrived in Venice with very little cash and had to ration it very carefully. Once we'd spent on various entrance fees we couldn't afford to eat out, even cheaply, so we were buying basic foods in supermarkets and scoffing them in the hotel every night.

Still, the sights were so fantastic we didn't care all that much. Venice passed and we went on to Florence. And on the second day in Florence we were sitting, with hundreds of other tourists on the steps of Florence cathedral, enjoying the sun when my partner suddenly gripped my arm.

"What's that?" she asked. And, as carefully and unobtrusively as she could manage, she pointed.

What's she's spotted was a dropped money clip. A clip stuffed full with a big, fat, wad of cash.

We argued briefly about who, if anyone, should go pick it up. Eventually I agreed and again, as unobtrusively as possible, I went and picked it up.

We counted it. It was in Lira, obviously, but it came to about 200. A lot of money. For us, then, a small fortune.

We debated on what to do with it. At first I was all up for handing it in to the police. But the police in Italy are all corrupt, aren't they? But we should still do it ... but then again it's in a clip with no identifying features. Anyone could pick it up and claim it, either from the steps or from a police station.

And slowly, gradually, we convinced ourselves to keep it.

And then we went out to an expensive restaurant and then got horribly, horribly drunk. And did the same the next night and every holiday night thereafter. And we still had some change left when we got home.

Best holiday ever!
(Thu 6th Nov 2008, 13:12, More)

» Greed

A Lifetime's Ambition, Ruined
I am, and have always been, fascinated by animals. I watched more natural history programs on TV as a pre-schooler than is at all natural. I can remember at the age of five being wildly excited because I was allowed to stay up late and watch the original broadcast of Life On Earth in 1979. Biology was a natural choice at University, as was postgraduate study. Animals are great, and I can't ever know enough about them.

Unsurprisingly, many of my life's ambitions revolve around seeing animals. Some - such as finding my own fossils and seeing a live whale - I have fulfilled. Others, such as going on safari, I have not. One of the most treasured ambitions that I nurtured was to go diving off the Great Barrier Reef in Australia, a site of such dazzling biodiversity that send any red-blooded natural history enthusiast into near-instant paroxysms of orgasm.

It was an ambition I thought I'd never fulfil - too far away, too expensive. Until my girlfriend at University picked up nothing less than a years' paid work placement in Sydney as part of her degree. Suddenly all I had to find was money for a flight and a spending money: everything else would be catered for. I was very sad to see her go but as the weeks ticked past I became so excited. Not only would I get to see her again soon, but I'd be going to Australia! And, of couse, we'd planned to drive up to Queensland and fulfil my ambition of going diving! Oh, the ecstasy!

There were a few teething problems. I had to learn to dive first, but that proved no great obstacle as I didn't need to be properly qualified, just vaguely competent. It was a long way too, but we hired a camper van and drove on up there. The night before I was so excited I could barely sleep.

We'd booked ourselves on an organised dive tour, and had time to kill on the boat from the mainland over to the reef. It was a pretty nice boat with plenty to do to keep us occupied but one of the fun bonuses of being on a nice boat was that they'd laid on a nice buffet. We both liked - and still like - to think of ourselves as gourmets in the making so we sat down to appreciate what was on offer. It was pretty good, so we had some more. And then again it was all free as part of the ticked we'd paid so we had a bit more again. And then of course there was dessert. Delicious! And before we knew it we were there, and getting changed into our wetsuits, with me almost shaking with anticipation as I climbed into the water.

At which point I discovered I'd eaten far too much to swim, got terrible stomach cramps and could do nothing other than cling grimly onto the boat ladder while the rest of the group swam off to enjoy the underwater safari of a lifetime.
(Tue 19th Apr 2011, 14:55, More)

» Nightclubs

Tiptoe through the tulips
I was once in a strange nightclub in Norwich, and very, very drunk.

I decided it would be rather nice to have a big spliff. But, alas, I discovered I was down to my last rizla! Anyone sober, at this point, would either have settled for a small reefer or given up.

I, on the other hand, decided to make a tulip.

For those unfamiliar, a tulip is formed by making a cardboard tube out of the front of your rizla packet, then sticking your rolling paper back in on itself to form a package, filling said package with dope and tobacco, then inserting said tube into said package, tying the neck with "string" made out of cigarette packet foil, and then flipping the execess paper back up round the bulb, forming a flower.

It's not an easy thing to do. And the result is pretty impressive. So I was particularly amazed by the fact I pulled it off whilst completely rat-arsed. I got a good back-slapping round of congratulations from my mates, sat back, and lit the thing up.

At that point I became aware of two things.

Firstly, most of the people in the nightclub had stopped dancing and had come to sit in a big circle round our table.

Second, there was a tremendously nervous nightclub employee hovering over me, offering the following advice ...

"The management don't really mind if you do that in here, sir, but ... could you be just a little bit more discreet?"
(Wed 8th Apr 2009, 14:23, More)

» Mobile phone disasters

Revenge of the Telesales
Like most people I get Telesales calls on my mobile from time to time. My response to this sort of thing is a universal "no" before I hear any of it, but "no" can be phrased with various degrees of politeness.

One day I got such a call from a Scots gentleman when I was feeling particularly irritable. I asked him if I knew him from somewhere or whether I'd given him my number and when, obviously, he replied in the negative to both I asked him why the fuck we was phoning me up then, and ended the call.

A minute later my phone started ringing - a glance at the screen revealed it was the same number as before so I just pressed end call. Then it rang again. And again. And again. For about fifteen full minutes the guy kept ringing my number over and over again. Occasionally there was a pause and an answerphone message indicator would pop up.

I chose to listen to the first message in the queue. My persecutor begin to describe, in labourious and grotesque detail, his weekend encounters with various Scottish ladies of questionable virtue. It wasn't low grade-porn, but seriously revolting filth. I listened to it for long enough to realise what he was up to and then deleted all the messages.

Unfortunately the guy was clearly not smart enough to have bothered to check whether or not his number was screened. It wasn't. I tried calling it but got an "outgoing calls only" response. Then I tried googling it - nothing. *Then* I tried googling the dialing code - success! And, further searching later I discovered that there was only one call center in the vicinity. So I called that, spoke to the receptionist, confirmed that the nuisance calls had indeed come from there, and lodged a complaint.

30 minutes later I got a call from the manager there who told me that of course, they log all outgoing calls, and he'd listened to what his employee had left on my answerphone and was so disgusted that the employee had been fired on the spot and literally thrown out of the building along with the contents of his desk.

I felt a mixture of triumph at having tracked the bastard down, and guilt at (temporarily) ending his livelihood. After all, I'd wound him up first. What do you think - who was the sinner here, him or me?
(Mon 3rd Aug 2009, 11:50, More)

» Churches, temples and holy places

I once went to a Hindu wedding
It took place in a large hall in a Hindu temple, with a stage. My good friend the groom and the bride together with the officiating cleric were up on the stage, dressed in the most outlandish fashion including the first pair of actual, real-life, genuine shoes-that-curl-into-a-spiral-at-the-tip that I'd ever seen.

My friends & I all arrived together and we discovered to our that our good friend, the groom, had had us all labelled "honoured guests of the groom" which meant we were kind of the equivalent of the best man en masse and although we took no part in the ceremony, we did get to sit right at the front of the hall, up with the parents of the wedded parties. Seeing as none of us was religious, let alone Hindu, and we were all white we felt genuinely embarrassed that we might be taking the best seats before people who might, well, be more interested in the whole proceedings. We were just there to support our friend and for the curry (which was excellent).

As things got underway, once we'd all had a good giggle at the shoes, it dawned on us that this wasn't going to be the most interesting spectacle ever. It was - unsurprisingly when you think about it - conducted entirely in Hindi, which none of us spoke. So we sat and shuffled our feet a little as the mums and dads next to us got all teary-eyed over the wedding of their darling children.

After a little longer it dawned on us that there were relatively few similarities to the Christian-model weddings that we were used to. One major point of difference was speed. This one went on.

And on.

(in a language none of us understood)

And on.

We grew restless. We grew bored. We began the early stages of nicotine withdrawal. Our legs cramped. Our brains began to turn to jelly. But out of a profound respect for a culture to which we were foreign and which had welcomed us with open arms, and for those parents we were sharing a table with and who were clearly wholly absorbed in the ceremony before them, we endured stoically and in silence.

It was awful.

Eventually, it ended. There was no reception afterwards in the traditional sense (no alcohol, you see) but people hung around and chatted. We went outside for a cigarette. And shortly we were joined by the newly married husband who'd been gasping for a fag as much as we had.

"Why?" we cried "Why did you not warn us in advance?"

"Does go on a bit, doesn't it" he admitted. "But then .. " and a sly grin began to spread across his face ".. if you're not sat at the front, it's considered acceptable to chat amongst yourselves, or even leave the room for a while if you want to."

"But you listed us as honoured guests!" we cried "We couldn't do that".

"No" he said, grinning like a fucking Cheshire cat "You couldn't"

He was a lucky man not to have been beaten to a pulp on his own wedding day, by his own "honoured guests".
(Fri 2nd Sep 2011, 16:57, More)
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