Something for the Weakened

Archive for February, 2005

Leisure Suite

February 28th, 2005 by

Ahoy hoy my little cherubim. Welcome to my week of leisure. Yes, nine days without that nasty work habit (though I’ve already squandered three of them). As I type this I’m contentedly chomping on some cheese and chives – not crisps, I hasten to add! I’ve not had real chives for years and am only just realising how much I’ve missed ‘em. Mmm, chivey. Anyway, you ask, what baring does any of that have on us? Well, I reply, it does mean that I should be able to easily post on a daily basis (first three days withstanding), possibly including some sort of location report if my plans come to fruition! How’s that for action, ye tubby wastrels ye! Tomorrow I’ll try and put up the next History of Collecting and then, hey, who knows what Dionysian exploits may follow. Until then, I feel I ought to point you in the direction of , which I can’t remember if I’ve linked to before or not. Give it a look – it’s far funnier than I ever will be and some of the Fan Fractions had me convulsing with mirth. Must post now, lest my piece of poo PC die on its arse once more. Bysies.


February 24th, 2005 by

Oh, yeah, just remembered what I mentioned in the second part of the triptych. It was this. Enjoy.

Ah ah ah ah ah ah, mic check

February 24th, 2005 by

Hello? Coo-eee? Anyone out there? I feel I have to ask, the last two posts I tried to put up seem to have vanished into the ether, which probably isn’t a bad thing. They were part of a triptych, the third part of which I never even got around to posting before everything went dark. They did explain why the site was down though, which may have been of some interest to any of you witless enough to come here on a regular basis. It was all for entirely technical, server jumping reasons which I can’t say I totally understand, but were apparently necessary. Apologies on my part for not realising that nothing was posting. I shall have grumpy words as it’s happened three or four times now.

So I’m sure you’re all sitting there, breath baited like a badger, waiting to find out what ludicrous excitement has been filling my life in the intervening days. Well, err, yeah, the usual really. No spectacular revelations, no tremendous nights of debauchery (well, no more debauched than my usual middling level), just the regular drudgery that is my life. Anyway, I did at least save the third part of the triptych, which does at least contain something of vague worth. Cast your minds back to the sixteenth of February and let’s see if this rings any bells for you!

I was watching a gig last night – a band called Hood (ahh, the temptation to start a cover band called Hoody is almost too much to bear). This was all very enjoyable, but led to my witnessing an odd phenomenon which I feel I should share with you all. On a couple of occasions some bloke walked past me. Nothing odd there you cry. But you’re wrong. Somehow the man smelt of Blu-Tak. This utterly mystifies me. How does one actually end up smelling of Blu-Tak? As far as I could see he wasn’t carrying any and I imagine only an open package at nose height would have aroused my notice. Could he have been rolling about in it, like some deranged Blu-Tak tycoon? Or has it been released as a fragrance (Eau d’Blu anyone?)? Any answers would be gratefully appreciated.

Right, that’s your lot. Posts should start becoming almost regular again for hereon in (if they fucking load), so hopefully regale you with more epiphanies in the morrow. Then again, how many times have I said that . . .

A History of Collecting – Part Nineteen – VICtor

February 13th, 2005 by

Hello all. First up, yet another apology for yet another week of inactivity. The transition from drunk to hungover to exhausted took quite a toll on me this past week, coupled with a general sense of apathy and what might be minor artistic burnout. Not that I’ve been doing enough artistic to actually burnout from it, but hey, any excuse is a good excuse. Hopefully this coming week will be different, but then I said that last week. Anyway, back to the documentary. For one of my usual preambles, please see below. Ta.

It’s been a long, long time since I last played an actual computer game. This seems quite odd to me casting my mind back, as I did go through quite a spell obsessing over them. It was one of the few hobbies that both my brother and I got into at about the same time, mainly due to the fact that we only ever had one computer between us. Some amongst you may remember mention of the ZX81 my father acquired back when I was really small. As far as I can remember it only had one playable game in which you had to try and bomb a city flat before you flew too low and into a building. Probably more popular in Saudi Arabia, as I tired of it’s three blobs of graphics for the plane quickly and returned to my Action Force figures. The ZX81 itself packed up within a year or so of its acquisition, allowing me the only other fun I ever had with it; taking it apart.

It was probably just as I was going into my Action Force lull and a few years before ‘my most shameful spell of collecting’ that my family finally got another computer. The exact circumstances escape me, but it was a second hand VIC20 that my brother and I were presented with as a joint Christmas present. It had quite a few games with it already and, joy of joys, a joystick. This made it seem like a real toy to us. Our parents’ refusal to buy us a games console was presumably down to the lack of any possible educational value it would have. At least this had a keyboard, but as I remember it, no actual word-processing capabilities. But we didn’t care. All the keyboard was useful for was hitting the space bar if you wanted to lob a grenade.

This was my first real experience of computer games. Neill (with two Ls) didn’t have one at this time and the few other kids houses I’d seen with one in never allowed me much playing time on there’s. There were no arcades anywhere near our home. We never played on them when the fair came to town or in any when we were on holiday (gambling or wasting money staring at a screen for under five minutes were not encouraged). As such my brother and I quickly immersed ourselves into these games, when we weren’t squabbling over whose go it was. There were only two problems. The first was the fact that we weren’t very good at the games. This was down to a mixture of inexperience at playing and neither of us having particularly long attention spans. If I only ever got to level three of a game and would always die in the same place, I would eventually give up and start playing another. In all my years playing computer games, I don’t recall ever completing one without the help of some sort of cheat mode. The second problem was the fact that the VIC20 became obsolete just before my father had bought it.

At first this wasn’t really an issue. The computer game section of Giles’ in Toon Town still had compatible games available, as did the tiny computer shop in Witney. Neither were my brother or I particularly bothered, as we were still entranced by the bulky graphics and the myriad pretty colours. Not to mention the cheery playability of games like Skyhawk (essentially the same as the ZX81 game, except for the fact you had a joystick. A joystick!) and the like. But as time went on, the games became tiresome. Level three would become even more of sticking point on so many different games and there were no longer any new ones on the shelves to buy. Occasionally one or two might turn up in one of the many car boot sales we were visiting (of which more at a later date), but even that regularity was rapidly diminishing. So it was decided something had to be done. We upgraded . . .

A History of Collecting – Part Eighteen – Bikes (finally)

February 6th, 2005 by

Merry evensong to you, one and all. It’s time for another trawl down Remembered Avenue (Memory Lane has become so passe these days, don’t you think?) as your host, Mr Alastair, takes you on yet another whistle stop tour of his mediocre life. Marvel at the inane detail! Scream at the blatant inaccuracy! Thrill to the sound of your own yawns! Reading is believing . . . or is it just a large town? You decide!

Okay, bikes. An essential part of any youngsters life and doubly so in the fields of collecting at a youthful age. The chronology of this is kind of messed up, as readers of the previous episode should recall, so let’s just launch into a full-length recall of my cycling days. Despite the importance that bikes hold in my history, I at no point actually collected them. For a time my brother sort of did – becoming obsessed with mountain biking was one of his many short lived fads. But to me they were only ever a source of amusement or practical necessity. Also, being the weedy geek that I was, they were also something which came to me late in childhood. I had mastered the tricycle at a fairly young age and received my first bike when I was probably six or seven. It had stabilisers. I seem to recall that these were removed maybe once or twice in an attempt to make me ride properly, but only resulted in showing up my incredible lack of balance and terror at falling off. The stabilisers remained in place from then on. I was mocked by many of my peers, including Neill (with two Ls), but still refused to bow to the pressure and refused to learn.

This came to an end when I must have been pushing nine or ten. By this time my brother had grown tall enough to fit on the bike and was interested to learn proper riding. This he did, with the ease a child normally learns. There probably wouldn’t have been a problem there for me, were it not for the simple fact that my parents let him have the bike. This of course incensed my collector’s need to horde and hatred of the transfer of property to anyone except me. Thankfully my parents were happy to get a new bike (as I didn’t actually fit on the old one any more, but it was, you know, the principle of the matter) so long as I would actually rode it. So, one fateful summer night, my father taught me in our back garden, with the old push him along and make him pedal trick. Surprisingly I picked this up quite quickly and was confident enough to even go out onto the quiet road in front of our house that same night!

And for many years, the cycling continued. Not over great distances at first, the two hundred yards to Neill (with two Ls) house, around the village (which was no longer than a mile long), though never to school, as that was only fifty yards from the house. That was until the Cycling Proficiency test, which I somehow managed to pass, in spite of getting more than the three allowed theory test questions wrong. Then came secondary school. This was about two miles away from home. It wasn’t considered to be far away enough to be given the complimentary bus that villages further afield got. Neither of my parents worked in Witney, so a lift was out of the question and being such a tiny village the bus service itself was that abominable that it wasn’t really a viable possibility. So cycling it was.

These rides would be my first experiences of possible commerce on a bike. Occasionally having some pocket money left over from the weekend allowed for the chance to stop into the village Post Office and buy sweets or possibly some left over copy of the Beezer they might have lying around. I often recall seeing a comic there with a little BBFC PG marking on it (implying ‘Parental Guidance’, for those of you with no interest in censorship or small print on video cases). Can’t remember the title or what it was supposedly about and couldn’t afford it at the time either. Never seen it since, sadly so shall probably never know. Sigh. Anyway, as my years increased so did the distances I would travel. Eventually Neill (with two Ls) and I started going on bike rides at the weekend, sometimes heading over ten miles away from home before having to turn back for tea. Though it doesn’t seem like far now, it was fascinating to us to plot out a route on my parents Ordnance Survey map, taking in as many unexplored bridleways and mystic woods as possible. There were many of these, some obviously more impressive than others, some which just involved us downright trespassing. But there were also a great many towns and villages in the area and back then they almost all had newsagents.

It quickly became apparent to me just how limited the range of comics available to me in Witney was. For some time I went on a constitutional hunt around those newsagents I hadn’t visited shopping with my parents on the Saturday on the Sunday morning. Many a gem was discovered in this way (as last weeks instalment is testimony too). I rapidly motivated my forces and took to my bike with even more regularity, travelling hither and yon, seeking out new and unseen publications which had either flown off the shelves in town, or which the foolish agents of news themselves hadn’t ordered any copies of. My metaphorical net widened even as it’s holes tightened. This hunter gathering behaviour continued for a good six or seven years, until the point I was making enough money to catch a bus into Oxford by myself on a semi regular basis. I only rode into the city the once, but that tale will have to wait for another day, featuring as it does in my most shameful spell of collecting ever . . .


February 2nd, 2005 by

Hello everyone. I’m tired, I’m drunk and I’m snotty. I’ve consumed that many lozenges that frankly it’s quite probable I might burst at any moment. Just thought I’d let you know. Must dash, I’ve got sleep to do and that . . .

Please note – ideas are consolidating in my head. Something interesing may follow soon. Then again, it may not. Time will tell . . . Or not. God, I hate disqualifying everything I say due to my realisation of my own laziness. Perhaps I should do something about it . . .

or not . . .