Friday, 24 September 2010

Hand History - Part 14

Of all the fun months of Third Year, March was probably among the most serene. The weather was just beginning to warm up a little yet exams and long-essays were still a while off. Half way through the month I repeated the previous year's ritual of banning myself from online poker for the duration of the exam revision period. To be honest, what this really meant was banning myself on Full Tilt for 2 months and from Stars for 3 months - I could still play on other sites and I did, including a brief return to Party and a slightly longer period at Betfred. But the main reason for banning myself was to make sure I wasn't lured in by the SCOOP, and I still credit banning myself from the most desirable sites as helping to increase my grades by around 2 or 3 points.

After the end of term things began to get a little more regimented. I had opted to stay at University for the holidays (as most of my friends and housemates were doing too) and try to stick to a revision/long-essays schedule, something I was more or less succesful at.

However, there was one afternoon, the last Sunday of the month, in which I was becoming restless and lazy. I browsed Warwick Poker to find out one of the Warwick pro's had made the final table of the London GUKPT £3K buy in main event. Very quickly a wicked idea popped into my head. Why not go down and WATCH, I can play some £1/£1 NLHE if I get bored too! And I can make my buy-in last the whole night and go home on a dawn train with my return ticket. What could possibly go wrong! I didn't really know the guy who was playing. In fact, I can't even remember his name. Jambon or something? It was just a premise for action, in the same way that supposed 'border disturbances' in September 1939 was the German 'justificaiton' for the invasion of Poland.

I told the Goblin what I was going to do and urged him not to stop me (not that I suspect he would have). My sense of freedom was willing me down southwards, I had to follow it! So off to the Kenpas Highway cashpoint where I took out £250, this being roughly enough for my journey, meals and £200 worth of chips as a bankroll for the night.

As I strolled down the park I felt very happy. It was warm and the people at the park were clearly having fun in that unique start-of-Spring way. I felt very civilized too - a gentleman taking a day off from work to go and play some cards in London. I had even brought a book with me Fernand Braudel's A History of Civilizations.

The train journey was surprisingly quick - I often have to remind myself that Coventry and London really aren't that far from eachother.

It was still mid-afternoon when I arrived at Euston and so I resolved to walk down towards Edgware Road, whose location I only knew roughly. On the way I stopped off at the Poker, Bridge and Chess store. As I got near Marble Arch I still had trouble finding my location. I ended up doing the decadent thing and hailing a cab. He was confused by my request for the 'Grosvenor Casino', but when I started calling it 'The Vic' he knew exactly where I meant. 10 minutes and £10 after getting into the cab, I was there.

It was my first time here. I made my case. I was here to watch a friend, and I was interested in playing in the side too. Do I need to sign up or anything? I showed them my driving license and they gave me a card. The two secretaries were young and pretty friendly, though I remained serious for all their jokes. I was a man on a mission, after all.

I had always been fond of the 'dull English poker scene'. This didn't stem from my own experiences of them. In fact at my first few times at the casino I was pretty anxious. You know, what if one of the regular, fat, bald-headed gamblers starts to make inquisitive glares at you. What if you bad beat the large Polish guy. What if one of the punter's wives gets very lucky in a hand against you.

My fondness for the dull English poker scene came about largely from watching a few televised events. The GUKPT 2007 coverage (which I saw on Pokertube long after it happened) was part of this. I liked the idea of 9 men (and occasionally 1 woman) sitting around after a few days of play, safe in the knowledge that they each have a few thousand pounds behind their belt along with the prospect of a few thousand more by the end of the night. I.e. Final table poker. Yet all rather casual and unglamarous. "I call." I pass." "Pass." "Pass." "How much do you have behind you?" "About 120k" "Right, erm. I raise all in" "Oooh, the online pro from Denmark has a tough decision here. What do you think Roland" "Yeah Ace Queen. Good hand but difficult to play against an all in." "Of course if he did call it would be a race." etc etc

And it was a GUKPT final table I was here to see tonight. Nominally anyway. It had only just started by the time I arrived, though it was very busy. There was no easy place to view from, certainly nowhere to sit down. With this in mind I went to the cash games desk and signed up for three tables, a 1/1, a 1/2 and a 1/3. After around an hour or so there was a space at 1/1 (I have not had to wait so long since then!). I went over to the cashier, bought £200 in chips and took a seat.

Around me was a mixed group. There was one old man who looked a bit like Doyle Brunson, a few studenty types who looked reluctant to gamble. One or two Asian gamblers who bought in for over the £200 maximum.

My plan was to shortstack - buy in for the minimum and replenlish my stack if I lost. The minimum was £40, so I bought in for that. Lost a few chips early on. Was down to about £25. Doyle limps in early position. I raise it fairly large (around £7) with AQ to squeeze out the limpers. Doyle comes over the top. I call. He rolls over QQ and takes the pot along with my first buy in. Nil desperandum, I chuck another £40 onto the table.

One man wanted to buy some more chips from the cashier, but it was closed. So I sold him £40 of mine. After a while I got impatient of sitting on just £40 and so whacked on the other £80 or so which had so far been left unused.

I proceed to lose a few small pots, mainly through playing scared aggressive. This essentially means trying to enter more pots than I really needed to, but entering aggressively as a justification. I.e. to collect the 'dead money' in the middle. I was playing badly, and was not sticking to my original strategy. We already see that I had abandoned my 'five £40 buy-ins' idea! Though such a strategy had its limitations, at least it would have served my intented purpose - playing the whole night, as I may have been able to survive a lot longer on 5 buy ins, even if this meant minimizing my potential profits.

But I was in no state of mind to make a profit. I began to realise how ridiculous this whole adventure had been, and even at one stage thought I might just go and play Roulette because my edge there was probably better (although still unfavourable obviously) than it was at this table. Not that any of my opponents were playing particularly well themselves, but at least they weren't playing scared.

My final hand came at a time when my stack was at around £80. I raised 99 in middle position to £3. The button made it £6. I called. The flop was 865 with two-flush. I bet a small amount,a round £5. He raised to around £10 or £15 (big difference, I know). I paused for a but a few seconds. "All in?" I announced, pushing forward my remaining chips. He called pretty quickly. The turn came a 7. I flipped over my 99 triumphantly as if I had sucked out on his set or something. River was a flush card. He then flipped over his A7 suited to reveal the flush. I was too confused to even feel let down at this defeat. I sorta shrugged my shoulders, picked up my book and scarf and left.

A lot of time had passed, somehow, and it was dark when I took the grim cab journey from the casino to Euston. I decided that cab journey was the last extravegant expense I would indulge in for the time being. I felt guilty and a little stupid, although already a little wiser. I was lucky that I had sold £40 worth of chips - otherwise it would well have been squandered with the rest of it. I got home at about midnight and didn't get to sleep till 3.

Subsequent visits to the Vic have been more successful (and you shall hear about some of them in later installments) but this particular one had been a textbook failure - I had gone down on a whim, I wasn't really prepared and I only got what I deserved. How did I keep my flagging spirits up on the train journey home? I started reading A History of Civlizations.

I wrote a little rhyme about the whole incident the next morning.

It's fun to gamble and buy in deep
£1 blinds, it's fairly cheap
though the rake is fairly steep

But hours later, like a sheep
I had no pile of chips to heap
I didn't fuss, or wail or weep
So out the cardroom I did creep
To poker dreams we must not leap
Those gamblers; do not as idols keep
Their eyes heavy from lack of sleep
and sowing all that they must reap

Hand History - Part 13

I should tell you a few more facts about the sheer excess and pomposity that went into that $800 bankroll project.

I actually kept a folder (purple, it was) in which I would keep a written record of each and every single game I played. That's right. Not even a computerised record - a written record, with a neat little 'bankroll update'. This may not seem bad in itself, but symbolically the idea of keeping these things in a folder essentially evoked a sort of permanancy. Bear in mind that my academic work was also kept in folders (seperated by module) and so I had essentially put my poker activities on par with my academic activities, implying that it was almost a module in itself- certainly something that would be carried on through till the end of the year.

I don't have this particular document any more. I believe I threw it out in disgust as part of my end-of-Third Year cleanout. I believe the purple folder, however, is behind my bed somewhere, along with a few other empty folders.

But apart from that little episode, the rest of the term was fairly successful pokerwise. I don't recall any big wins or major losses. I do recall enjoying PokerSoc. DKSOP home games were fairly infrequent. Although all three of my housemates played poker (to varying degrees of intensity but to a similar degree of skill). One November weekend was particularly memorable. Saturday night me and the others went up to Leicester to visit our old housemate who, having dropped out of Warwick, was now in halls at the University of Leicester. Essentially though it was a DKSOP reconvention, and we played tonnes of turbo tournaments, just like old times. On the Sunday evening we returned. I had a 2,000 essay to write for the next day. Goblin had a FTOPS Event - I believe it was a $129 bounty event and that I had 30% of the action. I completed the essay (by 10am the next morning), though Goblin did not make it very far in the tournament - the bell curve was not very kind to him that night (though he had had FTOPS successes in the past).

I did manage to get a free copy of Poker Tracker 3 through some deal they had running on Titan Poker. Not that I am a grinder - I didn't have much use for the software although it's nice to know that it's there if I ever do.

Early on in the term I played a £20 heads up with Goblin. Though this figure isn't particularly extravegant the structure was: 10k, 1 hour blinds. I ended up losing in the 250-500 level. He trapped me with this Queens - I shoved K7o from the big blind. Funny how I emphasise that it was offsuit. Queens, of course, are offsuit by definition, unless you have a faulty deck!

Either way, he dominated the game and it was only a matter of time before he got all my chips.

Going off to the end of term: I had a rather lonely weekend in early December. I almost wrote reams about it but have chosen not to. Let it suffice to say that I came out of it much spiritually tougher than before, and after a brief re-examination of my life priorities (the most important choice you make in life is what you choose to make important) I had about as much fun in Term 2 as I could have hoped to.

And poker went extremely well in Term 2 as well. One weekend our former housemate from Leicester came down. Naturally, we took the opportunity to go down to Stanleys casino, our friend being a former regular and (rightly) considered one of the very best players there. It was a Friday night. It was a Pot Limit Omaha tournament. I think it was a low buy-in rebuy with a fairly fast structure. All tournaments at Stanleys had fast structures, which is a shame because otherwise it's a lovely place to play.

Me and The Conjurer (one of my housemates) ended up getting to the final 3. We made a deal with the remaining guy and split the beans three-way. Conjurer was first in chips, I was third in chips. DKSOPers being a great fraternity (robbing from the ignorant, giving to the needy - us) we split our winnings with the others. It was a pretty nice tourney, although I had gotten a bit tired of looking down at four cards at a time!

Thus you can understand my relief when, two days later, we all went down for a NLHE tournament. It was myself, The Conjurer, Goblin and our Leicester friend The Dragon, the Lion opting to stay at home. He rued that! Out of the fifteen people who turned up to play that day, we came 1st, 2nd, 3rd and 4th. Yes, that was pretty much the best possible result. Literally. Yet it didn't seem that odd. I, and I believe the rest of us, felt the same way I always do when I succeed at something - a sort of calm elation, a plateau of success. A sort of magnanimity. Naturally though, like the young gangsters we were, we took photoes of ourselves with all the cash afterwards (although it wasn't that much! fifteen players, £5 rebuy. Or was it a £10 rebuy? It's strange how some details just go unremembered!)

The event which finished off this rather fun little term was the Warwick Series of Poker. Or, the WaSOP for short. I had known about the WaSOP in previous years. In 1st year I had gone to see it while it was going on, and admired the casual disregard the old timers had for the £50 buy in, although I was surpirsed to see a few fellow 1st years in the fray. In 2nd year I had missed the event - it was a bare few weeks after the incidents which led to my temporary withdrawal from the poker scene (how I now hate hate hate letting that happen! I was 19 years old! Why on earth was I domesticating myself so young?!).

Third year however was different. I had the money, talent and freedom to enter the WaSOP.

First came the preliminary event, the WaSOP Pot Limit Omaha. It started off with 10K stacks at 25-50 blinds, intervals every 20 minutes. But as often happened at PokerSoc events, the blind intervals had to be shortened as the usual we've got to be out of this room by midnight! rush ensued. The Conjurer managed to come third, for which I think he got £80. A good start to the WaSOP.

The next day came the grand event, the one so prestigious we had all bought in for it weeks in advance via Paradise Poker, whom were adding value to the prizepool. The WaSOP Main Event, £57 buy in (transposed from Euros, the currency Paradise deals in) 10k starting stacks, 45 minute blinds.

To get myself in the mood for epic tournament poker (although I was already very much in the mood) I watched the documentary of the 1973 WSOP Main Event. This video represented (and still does represent) to me a sort of classic old-school convention of gamblers, which in a way reminds me of what PokerSoc can be like at the best of times, and how DKSOP is all the time. People who are quite happy to get together in their little group, stake some money, play some cards and see who's the best, while happily ignoring what ever trivialities are going on outside the card room.

And theWaSOP main event lived up to expectations. Held in The Isle casino (now part of the Grosvenorchain) it was a large and fairly glamarous location. The tournament started off well for me - I never strayed too far below my starting stack and found myself playing good, patient poker. I was treating it like a marathon, not a sprint. I was playing my hands for value - I wasn't getting into any disadvantageous spots. Goblin (who was on my table), on the other hand, had nothing but bad luck, and the frustration just oozed out of him.

Conjurer was out later, having been placed at the table of death to start with but essentially succumbing to below-average luck as the afternoon went on.

Jonny, who had joined us, also went bust fairly early on.

The Dragon and the Lion were not playing.

I managed to make it through to Day 2! I was the benificiary of some nutty play of one of the Warwick pros. He didn't want to get through to Day 2 as it would mean he'd have to miss the 'Sunday Majors'. Accordingly he was shoving every hand. With this in mind, my KQ looked pretty good. He had a lower king. And my kicker was good for 35,000 chips or so, and I took this figure with me to the next day.

I turned up again the next day (obviously). Around fifteen remained and the top 8 got paid. My stack dwindled a little to start with but I was making good reads and avoiding calling my chips off behind. Then suddenly we were down to ten. Alas, I was down to about seven or eight big blinds after all that. Two hands into the final table I shove J5o from the button - it had been folded around to me. Am ambitious play, but I had already noticed the small-blind was motioning a muck. Sure enough he did. But then the big blind, after thinking for about 10 seconds, called, rolling over two nines. To suck out I failed, and I was out.

I decided to walk back home, which took ages and took me through some pretty dire parts of Coventry, some of which honestly seemed more like South London than the West Midlands. I felt fairly small on the way back, as one usually does after missing out on a big score (top prize around £1,000 plus lots of PRESTIGE).

And so a fairly eventful term of poker.

Just writing this has made me realise how intensely I miss university life. Ah well, there's a world out there!

But for all these little gems, the most defining of my poker experiences had yet to come. Yea, it was waiting round the corner for now, but soon it would pop out LIKEA BAT. Or should I say, I fell into its decadent nest. Or web. Or whatever. You shalll see!

Wednesday, 22 September 2010

Waking Thoughts

Between bed and the table
I don't mean to be rude
But to decide I'm unable
Between sleeping and food

Tuesday, 21 September 2010

Habemus Papam!

I went to London on Saturday. In truth I had gone up simply for a break from the routines of home life and had planned the journey some time earlier. However, it happened to coincide with the Pope's visit. With this in mind I'd decided that I'd go to Hyde Park in the evening so that I might witness the spectacle and commotion.

The first time I saw any papal activity was at around 10.15am on my walk from Victoria Station to Westminster. As I strolled along Victoria Street I noticed a large mass of people blocking the way ahead. They were facing not towards me, nor away, but to the side, towards the sight of Westminster Cathedral. The only way to pass them was through a narrow sliver of pavement, about one or two persons wide at most, which the police ensured was kept free so that people might walk from one side to the other.

The crowd itself was probably around 500 people. And soon it was around 501, for I joined near the back. I heard the voice of His Holiness, as loud and clear as a thunderclap. However, this was simply due to the wonders of technology. The Pope was inside the Cathedral, whose doors were closed to us. There was however a video and audio link, the screen so large that I could capture his every gesture. Not that there were many gestures to be seen. And the words, though spoken clearly, were the same platitudes you get in any sermon,

More interesting than the Pope (in my opinion) was the crowd itself. They were from all around the world (though there were, as may be expected, a lot of Irish voices) and given the density of Vatican flaglets and the intangible sort of devout intensity that pervaded, it was clear that, as a non-believer, I was in the minority.

The crowd were friendly too each other - one taller man happily letting a shorter man go in front of him to get a better view. It was nice to see a friendly crowd, not in a mawkish heartwarming way, but because every other time I see a crowd they tend to be loud, vocal protesters with all the unpleasantness, emotional baggage, pigheadedness, insecurity and dogma that the average protester brings with them.

One man loudly asked one of the policemen when the Pope was due to come out. "About ten minutes" said the copper. "Pardon!" shouted a man. "About ten minutes!". The questioner then admitted to having a hearing problem, and thanked the policeman.

I stayed for about fifteen minutes but based on my limited knowledge of liturgy, I deduced that the ceremony was nowhere near the end. Also, there was no guarantee that the Pope would leave through that entrance, although there were a square-formation of young people waiting not far from the door, dressed in blue/yellow robes as if they were part of a choir or a youth organisation.

About seven and a half hours later on my return walk (from Oxford Street towards St. James Park) I noticed a temporary barrier had been erected across the length of The Mall. The famous lines of Union Jacks were interspersed with the flag of the Vatican City. Crowds a few persons thick were hugging either side of the barriers. The Pope, it was said, would be coming down this route on the way to Hyde Park

The police were not letting people go from one side to the other. Fortunately one American woman was pushy enough (verbally, not physically) to allow a small section of us to cross to the other side. She had a friendly rapport going with the police officer, and joked how British policeman were soft, and that in New York or Boston the policemen would not have allowed any sort of negotiation at all. "STEP BACK LADY" etc.

Now in St James Park I took a spectator-point on the steps of some statue. A few other people had had the same idea, but it was worth sacrificing 5 metres or so of proximity for a better view. The police were on full pestering power, and two people standing near me were questioned. I did not hear what the conversation with the first person was about, but the second one was apparently in trouble for crossing the barriers without permission. The two argued for about 10 minutes and, I believe, the man was eventually given only an informal caution.

It wasn't for around forty minutes that the pope's entourage arrived, although we were able to tap in to the audio clues around as he approached. The hovering news helicopter was slowly beginning to hover nearer to us. People who could see around the corner of St James Park (to which I was fairly close) were starting to take photographs down their particular vista. Preceded by several security vehicles and police motorbikes there came... The Popemobile! From his familiar dome turret he waved, along with two other ever-presents who always seem to be in the Popemobile with him. I reckoned the speed of the Popemobile to be extremely leisurely, around 5mph (you will excuse my constant flicking between metric and imperial).

What happened next was madness. Having caught a good glance of the Pope I thought I might try to keep up with the vehicle. 5mph is only a light jog or a long-stride walk, so it wasn't too much of an effort and I didn't have anything to carry. Naturally, as I looked ahead I assumed I was the only person doing this. It wasn't till I looked behind that I found that dozens if not hundreds of people (as they came around the corner of St. James Park) were doing the same as me. It was the craziest thing I have ever seen. Imagine a Disaster Movie - hundreds of people running away from the space-monster whom is rapidly consuming downtown. It was that sort of feeling. It was madness, no other word for it.

This bizarre spectacle continued for about four minutes, until the park stopped and the security barriers curved around to stop us from travelling any further along the Papal route. Along the journey I saw many crazy, some stupid things. There were a number of professional photographers who, armed with stepladders, mounted themselves somewhere in front of the pope in order to get a good shot of him once he crossed the path of their lens. Then they would get off the step-ladder, take another sprint slightly further up, and repeat the ritual.

Though my own running was that of a sneering, rational spectator, it was clear that there was a strong sense of excitement in the running crowd. It was all rather haphazard, and a few people (including a young girl) fell over during the scramble, although as far as I am aware nobody ran over each other - it was not quite crowded enough to be a stampede. Mind you, there might have been some trouble as some people, in their rush, were ignorant enough to run behind some of the police horses. For those not aware, you must run in front of a horse, not behind it. And certainly not through it.

Amidst the crowd and the running I saw two people, a man and a woman (or a boy and a girl, I suspect they were about my age or slightly younger) stop to embrace each other. Though I couldn't help but shudder at the melodramaticism of it all (it's not bloody VE Day) at the same time I found it very sweet, and from their smiles afterwards it looked to me as if it was the first time those two had kissed, and they seemed very excited.

It was only afterwards that I realised just how despicable and weird the whole ceremony I had just seen was. This man, The Pope, a mere mortal, seemed to have the following of a God or a popstar. I could never imagine Gordon Brown (or for that matter any other Prime Minister, including Winston Churchill) being able to attract such lunacy.

Saturday, 18 September 2010

Self-fulfilling, self-denying mediocrity

Actually there's a song which is like "If you got to know me I think you would like me very much" (a guy singing). Which is kinda sad cause part of being likable is the ability to offer an initial if brief avenue in the early stages of a human interaction in which people CAN get to know you, or at least provide glimpses of what you are and see whether they wish to pursue things further from there or rather confine you to the pile of acquaintances (I talk of all interactions, not just romantic relationships).

So the question is, why would someone WANT to like somebody who does not provide this said avenue of time in which a proper first-impression might be formed?

It's a bit like saying "if I'd worked harder at my degree, I wouldda got a first" - well, erm, yeah, except that's what part of a FIRST actually measures - the ability to work hard!?

So both in the human relationships example I have given and the degree example, we see people subtly if rather nasally boasting how great they are yet moaning at the fact that their refusal to 'play the game' in either case leads to their wishes and desires ultimately being unfulfilled.

O' course I don't claim to be completely innocent of this myself. In fact, I'm not, and it is the realization of this fact that causes me to write about it.

Anyway off to London now

Friday, 17 September 2010

Dream from last night

Joshua Smith added 'gettin' paid and gettin' laid!' to his interests

"mate, do you even have a job?"

"well no"

"and do you even have a girlfriend?"


Joshua Smith removed 'gettin' paid and gettin' laid!' from his interests 


Just a little joke to get y'all attentive. Not that I have an awful lot to say today. Had one of the most mundane dreams I could possibly have ever had, ever. Was given a series of tests to do - one was maths based, one was an essay-quiz about popular culture, and another was some sort of text which seemed to integrate pictures of art with paragraphs of words (like in John Berger's Ways of Seeing). I had 7 hours to complete the test (I believe it was about 9am dream time). From my initial glances at the tests I was puzzled and annoyed - how was I going to get seven hours worth of brain-material on to these obscure examination papers? Yet at the same time I bargained for time. I was thinking about phoning my driving instructor to cancel my lesson, and asking my family whether I could skip the ritual Friday lunch.

I believed the tests were for a job interview, and so I was wondering how much effort I should put into it - the tests were so obscure and difficult it was hard to know whether it was even worth trying or whether I should just take the day off and find something better to do.

I woke up at around 6.30am. Not being due up for another hour (and being pretty exhausted anyway) I slept again. But even then there was no escape. Though my dream subject was no longer the said tests, I had basically the same sort of feeling. Basically I dreamt I was back at school again where I was in trouble for not doing a piece of work. My argument (as I persisted angrily to my friends, who were sympathetic to my plight) was that the work  was non-assessed, and as I had more important work to do (for the same teacher) that should take priority. Mr Crichton (and for some reason, Mr Anderson) were in the dream, and they did not agree with my argument, and we were scheduling another meeting in which I could make my case. I felt like Galileo facing the Roman Inquisition.

So a tedious, awful, dull set of dreams. Banal. Pathetic. I'm not pleased with my subconscious at all. Perhaps it shall make things up to me tonight.

Thursday, 16 September 2010

So, where was I

The master didn't have any work for me today (barring a journey to the Post Office) so spent most of the afternoon reading. Managed to finish Alistair Cooke's Letter from America. Had been dipping into that since May. And I mean dipping in literally - as the chapters are short (around 5 pages per broadcast) the negation with the bathtub is easy - you don't have to leave the bath mid-chapter or anything like that. Not that I dipped the book itself into the bathtub. Nor did I try to read it in the shower.

It's a funny sort of book, Letter from America. For a start it isn't really a book - it's a selection (of about one hundred) of British-born journalist Alistair Cooke's weekly radio broadcasts he produced for the BBC from, as you may have gleaned, America. Usually from the New York studio, the city where he was based. He broadcast every week from 1946 until his retirement in 2004 (he died the same year, aged 95). It was my memories of these later broadcasts which led to to buy the book in the first place.

Though his style always seems to be that of the consummate moderate (as he seems to be in his American Journey and his documentary America (spot a common theme?)) it is funny how Cooke becomes mildly more whimsical and subtly irreverent as the years go on, becoming in my eyes (and ears) something of a Roald Dahl figure.

There are a few recordings of his letters here to give you a taste.

Having spent the afternoon in bed reading (although unlike Alistair himself, I had two, not three pillows) I had to stretch my legs and went for a quick run around the park to ventilate my brain, which had just spent the last three hours in turn-of-the-millennium America (needless to say, the letters are presented in chronological order).

The odd and interesting thing is what happened when I got back. Though the run was not long, it was conducted at a decent pace, and so on my return to house I was moving quite slowly, worn out as I was. As I entered the first thing I saw was the strong if rather weird yellow light coming through the landing window, which made everything a little hazy. From the kitchen I heard the song  Blue Moon by The Marcels, except that this was a slowed down version from the film Grease. So my walk up the stairs was rather surreal - the music was in slow motion, my footsteps were in slow motion, and everything was in a weird, yellow haze.

Last time I went running I saw a discarded apple core outside the Coptic Church in Davigdor Road. This made me laugh pretty hard. But in case you haven't made the link (God knows I have to explain many of my jokes these days, as the last post attests to) the reason for my mirth was the fact that 'twas the eating of the forbidden fruit in the Garden of Eden that proved the origin of all mankind's sin. And so to see one eaten lying outside the church (unintentionally I am sure) proved the origin of my laughter.

Wednesday, 15 September 2010

Shoulder Arms? Shoulder Responsibility!

No, this isn't some tirade against gun crime or some sort of critique of the military (a critique I would have absolutely no right to make). I'm just a bit fed up of seeing cadets walking around Brighton in their uniform. I was only in the CCF for one year (and even then it was little more than weekly parading and rifle-training) but we were always told never to wear our uniforms in the street. And even if we had been allowed, it just seems like bad manners. A policeman wears his uniform that he might be identified as such, and be approached as one and act in that capacity, whatever that might entail. The uniform is not just for style (stylish though many of them are), it's a practical signifier. However, when a cadet is walking around the street in his uniform, he is not expected to act as a soldier. There are no officers to obey, there are no instructions to receive, and there are no tasks that the cadet can take out in his capacity as a cadet - he has no authority whatsoever.  So why wear the uniform?

I understand that when there are cadets walking in groups (for, say, a field day or other team exercise) then they have to be in uniform. But this does not apply for individuals out-of-hours.

In other words, just because I'm a Tory doesn't mean I like the idea of people walking around the streets in military uniform.

That said I do slightly miss my own uniform (which I had to hand back at the end of the year). Of course I could have trained as an NCO, but I didn't want to at the time, lazy, diffident 15 year old as I was. It'd be fun barking orders at people and getting them to march up and down the squuaaaare?!! (I can attest that, from my own experiences some 20 years after this Monty Phython film, Sergeant-Majors have not changed a bit)

Instead I joined the Creative Writing group. To be honest, considering we were all 15-16 year olds the work we produced was fairly fun and not at all pretentious or hormonal (there were a few exceptions).

Mentioned the Creative Writing group (and the 'creative' field trip) back in my old blog. Here's the link.

Tuesday, 14 September 2010


yerr, I just have a complex about making myself entirely clear so as not to be misunderstood, or for the joke not to be got

Joke 1
then again it's been said (I think by Mark Twain) that a joke is like a frog. You can dissect it to see how it works, but it will lose its life in the process.

...Joke 2
This is because when you unravel a joke into its components and essentialisms, the shared human experience and understanding when enable us to 'get' the joke are brought the the forefront and are therefore rendered awkward, factual, and unfunny. Which is like a frog, because it's green.

Joke 3
In that joke I made it look like I was making a ridiculously illucidatory explanation in which I, ironically, dissected Joke 1 to death. And then proceeded to make a ludicrous comparison by suggesting the greeness of a frog is the most important feature of a frog in the context of this joke. Which is ridiculous of course, cause we all know that frogs are brown.