Friday, February 25, 2011

Booty Call

My walk home from uni takes me past an old BT phone box. Y'know, the kind of thing you used before you had a mobile phone? Hah, remember coins? The future rules.

Anyway, today as I walked home I noticed something odd about the phone box. It had been given a caption. In real life. A band of text had appeared across the centre. It read,

"Who will you end up spending the night with?"

Oh BT, you saucy minx, you! I'll bet you want me to step inside and make a booty call right now, don't you? With everyone watching me through that dirty glass? You pervert!

Well, I have news for you, your cheap tricks won't draw me in, not this time! I don't even have any change on me, or I would have given it to the real tramp up the road. So there!

I'm going to have to get a photo of this next time I walk that way. The phone box, not the tramp. Obviously.

[Edit, 14:59, 29/02/11: Just got a photo, will post later.]
[Edit, 13:46, 01/03/11: Here it is!]

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Rise and Shine

Lately I've been having trouble sleeping. It's not so bad, it just takes me longer to fall unconscious than I'd normally like. The problem is then getting up on time in the morning.

As a student, getting up early in the morning is especially tough. No one depends on me to be awake in the morning. I don't have a job. Nothing terrible will happen if I miss a lecture - especially since all of the notes are put online now.

One of two ideas tend to come into my head:

1. I'm paying for this. I'm paying about £2,000 a year to skip lectures. I have about 23 weeks of lectures, each of which actually contain about 8 hours of lectures. That's only 184 lectures. Each lecture costs me £10 - whether I show up or not. £10 is a lot of money for someone with no money... I'd better go!


2. This is the only point in my life when not getting up won't have seriously negative consequences. At least, until I retire... I'd better make the most of this!

Of course, any day that I get up late I end up feeling guilty about. So, in an attempt to combat the temptation to sleep in, I moved my alarm clock to the other side of the room last night. That meant I'd have to get out of bed to switch it off.

I was worried that I'd be tempted to get back into bed after doing so, so I stuck a post-it note on top the alarm clock. It said,

"Wait! Don't go back to sleep! Think of all the stuff you could do! Notes? Breakfast? Something?!"

I'm sure the note would have worked brilliantly. Unfortunately I decided against actually getting out of bed to turn off the alarm clock, because I had set it to play Radio 4 in order to wake me up. Instead I dozed and listened to the news.

I eventually got up half an hour later, when a programme too boring to bare came on.

Sunday, February 20, 2011


I think I mentioned that when I was in London last weekend our hotel bar was a specialist rum bar. Apparently this was God's way of rewarding me by waiting for a month after my actual birthday to celebrate my birthday with my best friends. Without much persuasion, I convinced my best friends that we should get at least on drink there.

I love my friends, but they can be unadventurous with alcohol at times. Jenny got a pint of Pilsner, Hannah got an orange and cranberry juice. Both of them got a raised eyebrow, and I went to stare at the bottles behind the bar for a while. I discovered that the hotel does not bother to train its staff.

Sofia the bar girl noticed me, and came over.

Sofia: Hi, what can I get you?
Becky: This bar specialises in rum, right?
Sofia: That's right.
Becky: Well, perhaps you could recommend something? I'd like a good rum for drinking over ice, I know I really like Havana Barrelproof and all Appleton Estate rums that I've tried, any ideas?
Sofia: Um... Do you like Bacardi?
Becky: I, uh-
Sofia: Or Morgan's Spiced? A lot of people like that!
Becky: You know, I think I'll just get the barrelproof.
Sofia: Ok... lets see now, where's it gone...?
Becky: It's the one with the blue label, just under the bottle of Gordon's.
Sofia: Oh! Great!

She poured me an admittedly generous double measure, because there wasn't much left in the bottle. She then studied the till.

Sofia: Ok... let's see now, where's it gone...?
Becky, reaching around the bar and tapping the correct button on the register: Here it is.
Sofia: Oh, thanks! I've not been working here very long, haven't quite got the hang of this yet.
Becky: I would never have guessed.

Nice girl. Gormless, but nice. I even tipped her, but then I did get about three shots for the price of two.

I sat down with my drink, and enjoyed the sensation of all the troubles I don't even have melting away. The others declined my offer that they try a sip. All was well with the world.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Yorkshire Lass

There are some things I miss about living in Yorkshire. I miss the pretty countryside. I miss the home I grew up in. I miss the funny way people talk (although people talk pure mental here too, pal). I don't miss the difficulties involved in getting places.

I don't like having to wait for a bus in order to go shopping. This may surprise you, but in truth I am not a very patient person. I don't even like having to wait for the morning before I go shopping, and have often given in and ordered shoes online instead. Then I have to do something very distracting while I wait for them to arrive. More shopping usually does the job.

Cities suit me better. Glasgow may not have much of a subway system, but at least I never have to wait for more than eight minutes for a train. There's even a few clothes shops on the street I live on, allowing me to walk instead of waiting. This is very positive for an impatient person.

In Leeds I need to wait for a bus. It only arrives every half hour, and sometimes it just doesn't bother. On Sundays it's hourly and I'm pretty sure there's never one at 11 o'clock. At least I've never caught it even if there is one. It then takes half an hour to get me to city centre or worse, to Wetherby. From there I can get another half-hourly bus to Harrogate or a two-hourly bus to York.

It's freakin' 2011! I know the North of England is supposed to be a bit backward, but it's not supposed to be worse than Scotland! Where the hell is my teleporter?

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Always Tick the Box

At some point in my life I have failed to tick a box that says "If you do not wish to be contacted by third parties for marketing purposes please tick this box." That or I have accidentally ticked a box that says the opposite. These marketing types are sneaky like that.

As a result I received a letter this morning that had "Official Confirmation of Award" stamped on the front. Unfortunately the letter inside said that I could have between £15 and £1,500 if I opened a credit account with Littlewoods. I have never shopped at Littlewoods in my life - nor have I opened a credit account. It's unlikely that I'll do so for a measly £15.

I used to get plagued by emails, catalogues and texts from Dwell, who sell furniture and the like. You read that correctly by the way, they sent me text messages. To my mobile phone. The bastards have no mercy. Everyone gets that tiny buzz of joy when they get a text, but for some time mine were occasionally "20% off at Dwell this weekend only." They arrived about once a week.

I emailed them a few times telling them to leave me alone, and after a while they did. I still get catalogues selling old people stuff and expensive gifts of the pseudo-ethnic variety. Just in case I want my home to look like I'm in my 70's but I spent my younger days travelling to the People's Republic of Ethnicograd. I don't, since you ask.

One day, I'll be patient enough to contact them all. I'll tell them that I'm both penniless and very boring, and that I therefore can't buy any of their expensive and exciting stuff. Until then, I'll keep dropping their letters directly into the recycling.

The moral: Always read the text next to any tiny hidden box on any form you fill in. Think carefully about ticking it, or you may be plagued by minor inconveniences until you can be bothered to do something about it.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Night Frights

This weekend I was in London with Jenny and Hannah. We saw Grease (actually pretty good), I drank Havana barrelproof in the hotel bar, we ordered and ate too much breakfast, we shopped at a vintage market, etc, etc.

The three of us shared a hotel room. At the end of the night we all went to sleep. A couple of hours later, Jenny awoke. It seems my pillows were arranged such that it looked like I was sitting straight up in bed, staring. Terrified, she woke Hannah.

"Hannah, look, there's something wrong with Becky."

"Wha? Mhhhrr."

"She's just sitting staring at us!"


Jenny then nudged me.


"Mmm? What?"

"Oh... Never mind."

"What's up?"

"Go back to sleep."

I don't need telling twice, so I went back to sleep, willing to have the situation explained in the morning. Jenny also went back to sleep - knowing when she nudged me that I was not my pillows. Pillows are just not scary.

Hannah, on the other hand, was just coming around, and was certain she had heard Jenny say,

"There's someone in the room staring at us."

The poor chick didn't get back to sleep for hours.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Bad Planning

"I think we should keep drinking." I said to Gav as we finished the fourth bottle of wine and the second episode of Battlestar Galatica (damn right I know how to party). To be fair, we'd had a meal and a couple of friends to help us through the first three, but to my count that means we finished 1.25 bottles each.

It also meant that 30% of the wine bottles currently above the cupboards in our kitchen were consumed last night. A statistic that would have meant certain death at many points in the year, but fortunately the cupboards have recently been cleared (because they were full). A statistic that incidentally, I got wrong when I tried to calculated it last night (because I was full of wine).

At 4:30 this morning when I woke, sweating and shaky and very thirsty, I identified that saying "I think we should keep drinking" was probably a mistake. At the time though, Gav heartily agreed. So we powered through a bottle of Baileys, which Archie returned to help with. I drank a few rounds of Amaretto, Gav got to work on the black cherry liqueur. All in all it was a pretty decent effort, and a most entertaining evening.

Waking at 4:30, though, was less fun. I stumbled to the kitchen to pour myself a glass of water, and discovered we'd left the lights on. I returned to bed, trying not to think about the fact that I had to get up in two and a half hours to catch a train to take me to London. Failing.

I've no idea what time we gave in and called it a night. What I do know is that I'm miraculously fine* this morning, and that when I was making my bed at 8:00, I discovered that my hot water bottle was still warm.

I'd write more, but I have a train to catch. I'm slightly concerned that I'll arrive at the station to find that I've missed a whole day. Maybe even a week.

*I say "fine," I'm definitely not safe to drive, but at least part of that is due to not actually having a license.

Friday, February 11, 2011


I was having a chat about the nature of talent versus skill with Martin a couple of days ago. Less a chat, more a debate. Ok, maybe it became bickering at one point, but it was an entertaining bicker.

Until he had the gall to say,

"You're entitled to-"

I cut him off,

"Oh am I? How sweet of you!"

"...I was going to say 'You're entitled to your opinion and so am I,' before you interrupted me."

Of course you were Martin. I knew you were, but that was kind of my point. People do this all the time. It's either "we're all entitled to an opinion" or, "that's just your opinion" or something equally banal.

I backed down. It was a stressful evening for him - he was running the AstroSoc Burn's supper at the time. Also, I probably could not have replied as I wanted without raising my voice, and this was a polite occasion. If I could have spoken more freely I would have said,

"Of course we both are. That's why we're having this discussion. That's why any discussion is ever interesting. For Goodness' sake don't ruin it with empty, tired platitudes."

That is my request to anyone who does this. We all know we're entitled to an opinion, but if we can't discuss and challenge those opinions, they aren't worth anything at all. Your opinion isn't sacred, it isn't special and it may even be worth less than that of an opinion formed by someone with more information on the subject, but as long as you're willing to consider it, it isn't totally worthless.

Equally, the fact that this is "just my opinion" doesn't matter. It may not have been worth very much to begin with, but calling it what it is doesn't decrease it's value. If you'd rather no one ever voiced an opinion you're a worrying individual, and you probably have some deep-seated control issues.

Feel free to disagree, but don't think that that will make you right.

Disclaimer: Martin is one of my best friends, I'd still hang out with him if he was guilty of doing this every time I saw him.

Wednesday, February 09, 2011

Infectious Geekery

Not long ago my friend Martin discovered (to his glee) that a Battlestar Galactica board game existed. He emailed a few friends, asking if they'd be interested in playing. I was one of those friends, we all agreed to do so. To be fair though, we're all physicists, as a collective being geeky is one of our favourite pass-times.

Last Saturday they played the first two rounds. I did not partake, not because it was a Saturday night and I'm too cool, but because I was at a friend's engagement party (being told that as a physicist I was unemployable. Go figure). An engagement party is something I didn't feel that I could miss, but I was slightly jealous about not playing.

Last night Martin sent me a text, asking if I was free to play. He said he was going to invite the same crowd as previously. I accepted - but I was the only one. With only me, Martin and his flat mate Steve, there would not be enough of us. Who else could we possibly ask?

My flat mates. Obviously.

Gav is a massive BSG fan, he discovered the series well before I did, but I'd like to think that he's been getting increasingly geeky in the time we've known each other.

Harry is a moderate BSG fan, and was a closet geek. He's now out in the open, revelling in the statistics class he's been taking this year (probably the first maths he's done since 2006), playing video games, watching sci-fi, etc, etc.

Archie... Well, Archie was out at the cinema with friends. He's not quite the anti-geek, but compared with the crowd we're talking about here, he may as well be. I guess he sometimes watches Dr Who.

So, we trotted off, beers in hand, to play the nerdiest board game I have ever seen. We were well behaved, and quit at midnight. All agreed it was a good game, none ruled out the possibility of playing again.

For physicists this is normal. Gavin is a film student. Harry does medicine. They should, if playing to their stereotypes, both be out getting wasted every night. I probably can't claim the credit for them not being dreadful individuals, but I would like to consider the possibility that geekiness is infectious.

Hell, Archie's managed to catch almost everything else - maybe he'll catch this too eventually.

Saturday, February 05, 2011

The Overwatch

I have a new favourite gaming beverage. I'd like to share it with you.

The Overwatch

You need:
1 friend
2 bottles of Crabbie's Alcoholic Ginger Beer
3 limes
4 shots dark rum (ideally Myre's or Black Seal, but almost any good dark rum will work).

  • Pour a small glass of ginger beer from each bottle and drink with ice.
  • Juice the limes and shake the juice and pulp with a the rum and a little ice.
  • Pour this liquid into the now slightly emptier Crabbie's bottles and stir with a straw.
  • Drink whilst gaming. Win often.
  • Rinse and repeat, until at least 3am.
I'm willing to admit that it's simply a more badass version of a Dark and Stormy. I'm not willing to admit that it's anything less than excellent. The only thing I can think of that may improve it would be finding straws long enough to reach to the bottom of the bottle.

Fancy a game of Half Life?

Thursday, February 03, 2011

Stop! Spammer time!

I am fortunate in that I don't get a lot of spam, which is probably because (in spite of what you may believe) I have little interest in dodgy websites and a healthy respect for anti-virus software. However, no email address above a certain age can be entirely pure, so I thought I'd share with you some of the finer items I have in my spambox at this time. I'm nice like that.

Date: 6th January
Sender: Nick Clegg
Subject: One week left until polling day.
Comment: Awww, bless. Well, I don't remember telling gmail that I didn't want to read any messages from Nick Clegg anymore. Which, while it was correct to put the message in spam, is a little worrying. Not that I'll correct the filter. Poor sod.

Date: 30th January
Sender: 500 Free
Subject: Click Here to Claim Your PRIZE!!!
Comment: This one gets full marks for effort. It's delightfully old school, I didn't think people still produced things like this anymore. It has animated .gifs for goodness' sake! It claims my prize is "£500 Free!" Sadly, the £-sign keeps switching to a $ or . I just can't bring myself to click, in case I get one of the lower-value currencies. Also because my brains have not yet leaked out of my eyes.

Date: 3rd February
Sender: Ask
Subject: Looking for Some Sparkle this Valentine's Day?
Comment: Are you implying my previous Valentine's days have lacked sparkle? Are you really implying that my life in general lacks so little sparkle that I'm going to be impressed by your "£16.95 for three courses and a glass of prosecco?" How dare you? I don't really do Valentine's day. Myself and the chap will swap cards and maybe a token gift, but I have little interest in much else. Far less a set Valentine's menu at Ask. Purrrlease.

On starting this entry I was kind of hoping to have some slightly more hilarious spam. I've got nothing about penis enlargement. No "hott" girls in Glasgow who want to talk to me now. I might have won £500, but there's nothing about online poker or bingo. No one wants to sell me prescription medication or weird software. Not so much as a Russian bride offer.

I feel a bit left out. Maybe I should visit some of those dodgy websites after all.