Category Archives: Social

A Snooker Anecdote…

I’m sitting here watching the first semi-final of the World Senior Snooker Championship, between Jimmy White and Stephen Hendry. They have both (visibly) aged, and they don’t do it like they used to, but it’s a fun reminder of the many battles these guys had during the nineties.

It’s also the 63rd birthday of my favourite snooker player of all – Steve Davis.

I met Steve once. It was early 2002 and I was at the cinema with my mate Andy watching the previews before The Royal Tenenbaums. I saw two guys walking towards us, and I turned to Andy to exclaim how much one of them looked like Steve Davis (he was here for the Scottish Open). Of course, he didn’t watch snooker, so he had no idea who I was talking about. But as he got closer I quickly realised it actually was him.

Before I could figure out what to do, Steve and the other guy (who I assumed was his manager) squeezed into our aisle and excused themselves so they could get past us. I quickly shot out my hand and said, “Hi Steve, I’m a big fan. How are you?” He graciously bundled the big tub of popcorn and super-sized Coke to one side and shook my hand…

After the movie, (in fact, as soon as the credits began) I dashed to the toilet so I could avoid a repeat of the awkward moment when I had met my idol two hours earlier. My intention was to stay there long enough for the screen to empty and I could save myself any further embarrassment, which was a fine idea, until Steve walked in to the bathroom and went to the urinal next to mine.

So there I am in a public toilet, standing next to a snooker legend I had looked up and respected for years… with my dick out.

I zipped up and went to wash my hands (yes, something I did even before Covid-19), looked in the mirror, and told myself not to say anything. Just be quiet. There’s nothing else to say – you’ve introduced yourself, and he shook your hand. What more do you want? Dry your hands and walk away. It was already weird before the bathroom, you certainly didn’t need to add any more fuel to that particular fire. And besides, you don’t talk to a guy while he’s at the urinal, everyone knows that!

Of course, instead of taking the sensible route I asked Steve if he had enjoyed the movie, and I immediately wanted to fall into the sink and slip down the drain. I’m not really sure what he said – I was out of there before my embarrassment bubbled to the surface.

So if you ever hear Steve Davis tell a story about the creepy guy he met in a toilet one day, that was me!

Anyway, happy birthday Steve!

Money For Nothing…

s-l640I do not actively collect coins, but over the years I have amassed quite a number of them from over thirty countries. I have picked them up from various places and people, and without even trying, I now have a couple of hundred coins, separated by country into their own plastic pockets.

Sure it’s nerdy, but I would never claim otherwise.

Most of the coins are fairly recent, but I have a lot that come from the nineteenth century, including a silver Crown from 1888 that – according to available resources – seems to be worth up to approximately £300 from a generous dealer…

… not that I have any intention of parting with it or any others I have that could pay the electric bill. I may well be out of a job soon, and I could be sitting on a veritable goldmine, but that’s a few steps down the line yet.

The Next Chapter…

After several months of being on furlough, it seems that Covid-19 may finally have added my job to the thousands of others across the world it has chewed up.

I’m disappointed, of course, but I won’t moan about it. There’s nothing I could have done to change things, and there are many others who have been dealt a far worse hand this year. Everything happens for a reason, as they say, so perhaps this is my chance to move onwards and upwards, and find a job that allows me to stay in bed later than 4am.

I’ll get something else, I’m sure, but the uncertainty of everything that is happening in the economy at the moment makes it a little frightening to be without that job security.

Things would perhaps pan out differently if I was single, and I only had to look after myself, but I have The Fiancée© to consider, and a house to maintain, so that is a responsibility I cannot forget or neglect.

Hopefully the world will settle down soon, and we can pick up the pieces of this broken year.

Skeleton Crew #10 – Word Processor of the Gods…

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Word count – 7,000

Word Processor of the Gods is about a writer who happens upon a word processor, left to him after the death of his brother. He quickly discovers the machine has the ability to add and delete things from his world.

This story spends a long time setting everything up, and – although the background is relevant to the protagonist’s justification – it really doesn’t make the words more enjoyable. In that way it feels unbalanced.

Word Processor of the Gods is a great concept, and the writing itself is competent, but it’s not as good as I wanted it to be. After the initial set-up, it seems to reach a crescendo very quickly and then it just fizzles until the end, but thankfully, there is enough good stuff here to see it across the line.

Recommended ⇑

After the Storm…

This morning I was awoken by the most almighty crash of thunder I have ever heard. It sounded like a bomb… or how I imagine a bomb would sound. The rain was coming down hard, and lightning was strobing the sky for what seemed like hours. The whole thing was adrenalising, not unlike how you may feel riding a rollercoaster.

It wasn’t just here either. There has been flooding all over the country. People have lost their homes and their belongings – some have lost their lives – yet, looking around now, it’s hard to see any of that.

It’s early evening just now, and it’s currently 23 degrees where I live. There is no wind to speak of. I’m sitting in my back garden, listening to the neighbours talk about the best way to barbecue a steak. The sky is clear, and the kind of blue you usually only see in paintings or cartoons. It’s one of the hottest days of the year.

Tomorrow’s forecast is for more rain.

Swinging Back…

I found a Swingball set in our shed today that I had forgotten was there, and given that the weather was so great I figured I’d get it out and give it a go with the family.

I must admit, I got more than the five minutes of fun out of it that I had expected. It actually scratched an itch I did not realise I still had, and made me pine for my summers playing tennis, which is a sport I reluctantly let go of a few years back after having played it consistently – and at a fairly competent level – for over two decades.

At least tennis affords you a proper tool for the job. Those undersized plastic bats are extremely unforgiving, and I won’t be surprised if there’s a blister the size of a dinner plate on the side of my thumb when I wake up tomorrow… but it was worth it for laughs we had.

Of course, this year is a bust for tennis (this year is a bust for most things), but maybe I’ll get my racket out of the garage and smack a few balls against the wall anyway.

On Our Way Back to Square One…

So – after confirmation of dozens of positive Covid-19 cases from a handful of pub in the city-centre – it was announced this morning that Aberdeen (a place that doesn’t lead the pack in anything) would be the first city in Scotland to be subjected to a local lockdown.

And you know what? We deserve it.

I say we, but of course, I’m actually talking about the dickheads who have deemed alcohol to be of such great importance that they will go to any lengths to sit in a crowded pub, and nurse a £5 pint of beer. Because the virus won’t strike them, will it? Nor will it touch anyone they have been in contact with, right?

No. Don’t be silly. You just sit there with your drink – you’ve waited so damn long for it.

If people can’t stick to the rules (rules that have been put there to protect all of us) then they deserve to stay home and forego the social norms that were recently given back to us. Because guess what? If you break your toys, then you can’t play anymore.

It’s just a shame that these bad apples (and yes, it’s a minority) spoil the progress for everyone else as well.

Most of us are doing our best to put Covid-19 behind us, or at least, learn to live with it responsibly, but until people wise up to what is going on – to what has been going on for months now – it’s going to be a long time before this pandemic is in the rear view.

What I’ve Done This Month #July…

After playing about with editing an existing board game, with my take on Monopoly, and then designing a Scotland map for my extension to Ticket to Ride, I turned my creativity to something entirely new, and decided to build my own board game. You know, this pandemic sometimes gives us silly ideas…

I went with a wedding theme (because there doesn’t seem to be any of those) and over the course of a few weeks I fleshed out the concept, drew out a few trial runs, and spent more time in the crafting section of shops than I would like to admit. In fact, when I went to buy coloured paper the proprietor asked if it was just for my kids to play about with… I decided it was best for all concerned if I just said yes.

Anyway, it’s called Get Me to the Church, and it’s a (fairly simple) affair where the object of the game is to, well… get to the church. We tried it out for the first time this afternoon, and – with the exception of a few teething issues that should be easily ironed out with another draft – I think it went down quite well.

I was hoping to get back into my writing in August, but it seems that I’ll be polishing up this game first, and then trying to find someone who may be interested in taking it further…

Anyone know Hasbro’s number?

Getting a Little Nerdy…

dsc_08223427293So, a couple of days ago, my email to the producers of Ticket to Ride resulted in a response, asking me to send along a link so that they can add details to their fan page.

I checked it out, and it seems there are many other players who have had similar ideas – although (crucially) there are no maps there for Scotland, and very few of the ones listed are available in a physical form. As good as a lot of them seem to be, most of them appear to have been built on a laptop.

Well my iteration is certainly physical. At 33 inches by 47 inches, the game board is probably a little too big to be considered mobile, but secured and backed by some lengths of 2×4 it is very stable and will easily stand in the corner of a room or garage when not in use. And because it has been built on foam card, it is extremely light as well, so there is that.

I used a lot of primary school effects such as glitter, colouring pencils, and gold stars (the kind your teacher used to stick on the wall if you were good, or – in my case – used to scratch off if you had been naughty). I even bought a couple of sets of Scottish playing cards so that I could use the design as the backing for the train colours that I required… it’s all about the little details.

The game has been played half a dozen times, and while everyone else in the house has claimed victory at least once, I have yet to win a game, so that is a bit annoying. Of course, none of this will make any sense to you if you have never played the game, but thanks for indulging me.

Onwards…

 

 

Games…

So my new localised (albeit, crudely put together) version of Monopoly, and my (rather oversized) Ticket to Ride – Scotland map, have both been completed and tested. They have taken a lot of my recent furlough time, but the good thing is that they both work, and they are both enjoyable in the same way that the base games are.

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I made several changes to the basic rule set of Monopoly, including writing a complete set of new Community Chest and Chance cards, and adding a couple of casino spaces to the board, along with their own set of cards. These changes were a concerted effort to shorten the length of the game whie also injecting a little freshness into the mix. While these changes didn’t seem to have much effect on the duration, the consensus was that they did make the game more involved and interesting.

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Ticket to Ride – Scotland was a much more school project kind of creation, because I didn’t have a base game to begin with, just the basic rule set, which is a little different for each version released. I bought some foam boards, used Lego for the tracks (and the playing pieces), and developed 72 routes – which is more than most other iterations of the game. I also had to make my own colour-coded train cards (over 100 of those) which anyone who has played the game will be familiar with.

In fact, I was so impressed with my effort that I sent off an email to the guys who produce the Ticket to Ride franchise, hoping for a little feedback!