24 Hour TV Marathon

My name is Roo and this is the longest day of my life

or

How to survive a 24 hour TV marathon

Some friends and I talked for a long time about watching all 24 episodes of the first season of 24, back to back. If you take out the trailers each episode is only 45 minutes long. Rather disappointingly, this means that a 24 marathon is only actually 18 hours of televisual entertainment. To watch all 18 within one day leaves 6 hours of peeing and napping time. An excellent plan. After all, if you’re going to spend 24 hours of your life watching a TV series, you might as well get it all over with in one day. It’s an epic undertaking, and one which, in getting ready to try it, we understood would involve plenty of planning and preparation.

Stage 0: How to watch the series

Ideally, we’d start at midnight and follow Jack Bauer’s longest day in real time. If you have the episodes taped including the adverts then wherever the adverts pause the action you could take a break until you are in sync again. This means stopping every quarter of an hour, but only for about 5 minutes; a rather inflexible schedule. Furthermore, finishing a 24 hour TV marathon at midnight would be much more painful than finishing at say, 8 or 9 pm and getting an early night. We decided to aim to begin our marathon at about 9pm and play the episodes back-to-back, pausing to nap when we get really tired. In this manner we aimed to save up the 24 x 15 minutes for two or three few long breaks, making watching Jack’s 18 hour day within 24 hours perfectly feasible.

Stage 1: Preparation

Friday. 5pm

It’s Friday, so we leave work early. Preparation begins. We hit the supermarket first. A good selection of food is important, and we realised that we’d want lots of liquid. Plenty of carbohydrates would also be important. For the three of us, we purchased

  • A packet of mixed-leaf salad
  • A bag of sliced carrots
  • 4 apples
  • 2 grapefruit
  • 1 tub of potato salad
  • 8 different dips (cheese and chive, Thousand Island, tikka, barbecue, etc)
  • 1 large tub of Philadelphia soft cheese spread
  • 1 packet of good, thick-sliced ham
  • 2 bottles Lemonade
  • 2 bottles Apple Tango (1 diet, 1 regular).
  • 4 bottles Coca-Cola
  • 2 cartons fresh fruit juice
  • 4 cans Red Bull
  • Plenty of cookies
  • 1 loaf crusty bread
  • 6 current buns
  • 1 pack breadsticks
  • 3 tubes Pringles
  • 1 pack Kettle chips
  • 1 pack Walkers Sensations (Thai sweet chilli flavour. Yummy)
  • 8 sausage rolls
  • 1 box of cream crackers
  • 2 boxes Cadbury’s Fingers
  • 1 sack cheap wine gums
  • 1 large Toblerone
  • 1 pack Extra Strong Mints

Stage 2: Set up

We pick the room in which we want to relax for the next day of our lives. The living room, with its TV, comfortable seating and ample floor space, seems to be the best bet. We set up the room for maximum comfort by turning down the lights, placing a mattress on the floor and bringing in an extra beanbag. The three of us (kyb, my wife and I) now have a wide choice of places to relax.

Friday. 7:50pm

We unpack the shopping. The drinks go straight into the fridge, and most of the food is put straight onto the dining table. One long buffet seems like the best way to eat during this marathon TV session. Managing and controlling your own diet, while not easy, is a great way to stay awake. Large meals take a lot of digestion, leaving you feeling sleepy a while afterwards. Taking on small morsels whenever you feel hungry prevents this problem, plus it’s fun. With the wide variety of foods we’ve got, controlling our sugar levels should be easy.

Stage 3: The marathon

Friday. 8:45 pm
Press play.

9:30 pm
1 episode down, 23 to go. Great stuff. I’ve already seen the first half of the series, so the first few hours are just a recap for me.

Saturday. 1 am
24 is still very exciting. For them it’s 6 am already. That’s ¼ of the way though. We’ve just met Milo at the CTU. He’s the suicide toe guy from 6 Feet Under! We’re all starting to fade. I’ve eaten too much, so I’m bloated and sick feeling. It hasn’t turned into tiredness yet, but I worry that it will do soon. The Red Bull is calling me.

3:30 am
I just finished my first can of Red Bull but the effect was not immediate. Tiredness comes and goes. For the past hour my eyes have been closing. Dry eyes. Perhaps I need more water. I don’t think I’ve slept, but I came pretty close. Just went outside to look at the stars. It’s a clear night. The coldness was refreshing and woke me up. Perhaps the Red Bull is kicking in.

We’ve found we keep changing positions. After every episode it’s good to stand up, walk around and sit or lay down somewhere different. We’ve also noticed that, as nice as Coke is, it’s very sugary. Sugar crash is exactly what you don’t need if you’re trying to stay awake. I’ve moved onto cold water. Others have been sensibly using diet fizzy drinks instead.

4:45 am
The others have been snoozing for a few minutes. They’ve both seen this episode before, so they’re not missing anything. I think it’s time to pause the action at the end of this episode and have a nap.

7:45 am
We slept for 2 hours. We’re still amused by how crazy our marathon is. We keep describing it as ‘epic’. Having woken up and breakfasted (grapefruit). Though tired, we continue at 11am Jack Time.

10:00 am
The past 2 hours have gone by very quickly. We need to get air in our lungs, sun on our skin and infinity in the eyes. We go for a short walk. The morning sunlight reduces our melatonin levels and increases our wakefulness and cheerfulness.

1:30 pm
Lunch. Nice to eat some bread and ham. Refreshing. Not so tired now. We’re now ¾ of the way through the series, and we’ve given up counting the number of dead people. It’s becoming highly exciting. Even captivating.

4:30 pm
Last two episodes. Very tired now. Blinks are becoming increasingly long. We devise a 24 drinking game. Hysterical laughter at every suggestion. Not concentrating hard enough on plot. More Red Bull.

5:15 pm
Wow! End of penultimate episode. Wuh? Big twist. How does this work? What will happen? Suddenly awake and paying attention.

6:00 pm
Finish. Tired. Good series. Looking forward to the sequel. There’s going to be a sequel, right? They can’t just end it there.

Watching 24 within 24 hours turned out to be easy enough. You get 6 hours off after all. We actually only used about half of our allotted break time, so the next 2¾ hours we can relax, satisfied.

The 24 Drinking game

What could be harder than a 24 marathon? A 24 drinking game of course. This beats the Star Wars drinking game hands down. It’s on a different scale. Even a new Star Wars drinking game, with extra rules, for all SIX episodes will not involve as much drinking as the 24 drinking game. It’s not as crazy as the Withnail and I drinking game of course, but depending on what you’re drinking it might come close.

Take a drink whenever…

  • you see someone using one of the following three laptops: a Thinkpad, an iMac or a Powerbook
  • someone closes a door in someone else’s face
  • someone in CTU uses the word “socket”
  • Jack flips out and loses his cool
  • Nina lies
  • someone is killed. (If a plane is blown up, you only need take one drink)
  • someone, who looked liked they were dead, turns out to be alive. If later in the story, then do die, then drink again.
  • any person, place or thing is described as being “compromised”
  • someone in CTU says “line 2”
  • someone refers to ‘secret’ ‘private’ love triangle between Jack, Nina and Toni
  • someone tries to phone someone, and gets voicemail instead.
  • someone reassures someone by saying they will “get through this”
  • a character suddenly turns out to be untrustworthy and dangerous
  • a new character is introduced.. and they have an East European accent
  • someone in a governmental agency ‘breaks protocol’ or goes against ‘procedure’ (examples include but are not limited to hacking without a warrant, giving computer access to an unauthorized party, tranquilising a superior, …)
  • you notice a continuity error
  • anyone uses the word ‘patch’, as in “Patch me through”
  • someone mentions “The Balkans”, “Bosnia” or “Kosovo”
  • Jack says “Palm Pilot” when he means Handspring Visor
  • you see one of the characters sleep, eat or go to the toilet.
  • Jack is given, borrows, or otherwise obtains another mobile phone or ear-piece.
  • Senator Palmer’s wife uses the word “election”
  • any character is handcuffed

NB: I have not attempted this game. We designed it while watching the series to keep ourselves amused. If you try it, make sure you first purchase copious quantities of alcohol, as going shopping half-way through playing this game is not advisable. Anyone crazy enough to undertake it should be congratulated and then rushed to hospital.

Another trip to San Francisco

Today is the first day of my trip to San Francisco. I was talking with a friend recently about this trip, and it turned out that he and I would both be flying on the same day. At this moment, he is flying to Brussels.

“Brussels?” I exclaimed. “From London? That hardly warrants space travel”.

It was a braino, caused by reading too much Sci-Fi. Space travel is nearly what we do though. Today, my friend and I strapped ourselves into hulking winged submarines and stayed in the air thanks to aerodynamics and bastard noisy engines.

There is nothing more boring than transatlantic flight. At least putting in that little extra effort to make it into space would bring the benefit of weightlessness. I believe the big airlines would find a way around it though. Too dangerous. Consider ducking your head to avoid lumpy clouds of vomit. Imagine spilled drinks floating around in fizzy multi-coloured bubbles.

I am flying from London Heathrow to San Francisco direct on Virgin Atlantic. This flight will last for just over 10 hours. As I type this, I’m nearly half way through it. I managed this feat by employing a variety of time-wasting techniques. I ate the cute little cooked chicken dinner. It doesn’t really matter what the meal was, it was the chicken dish. It seems to always be a choice between chicken and salmon. Vegetarian if you requested it in advance. I also drank an appalling gin and tonic (no lemon and no ice. Foul). I watched an in-flight movie. I put in my complementary Virgin earplugs before covering them with my noise cancelling headphones (purchased last trip. The best $100 I ever spent) and having a bit of a nap. I woke up over Greenland and took some digital snaps. I walked aimlessly up and down this aisle. For a change of scenery I tried walking the other aisle too. I visited the toilet more often than I strictly needed to. Now I’m not sure how I’ll make it through the rest of the flight. Perhaps another film. There’s enough time for two. I once read all of Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance from cover to cover on a flight to Chicago. I once read Jurrasic Park in one sitting while waiting for a delayed flight in Greece. I think – when this turbulence calms down a bit – I might finish Iscaac Asimov’s Foundation.

Greenland?

Greenland?

This is my first flight on Virgin. Work usually makes me fly American Airlines, which nearly always hub in Chicago. Flying direct is much better. The only thing more boring than transatlantic flight is waiting for two hours in O’Hare. For such a busy airport it is grossly and unnecessarily dull.

At 6′ 4″, I am pretty tall. Whenever I arrive at a check-in desk I stand as tall as I can. It reminds me of buying booze at various pubs and off-licences aged 17. Then I always got away with it. These days the check-in staff usually take pity on me and put me in a bulkhead or emergency exit seat. The extra legroom is very much appreciated. As an added bonus I get to chat with one or two of the flight crew at takeoff and landing. They have these neat little fold-out seats which face the able-bodied passengers sitting next to the emergency exits. Today’s stewardess really obviously enjoys her job. Today she is working a 10 hour flight to San Francisco where she will make a two day stopover. She’s already planning to visit Macy’s. For the past six months the jet-lag has been getting to her. Virgin Atlantic doesn’t fly short distances. They go to various destinations in the US plus Hong Kong, Barbados… all places with 6 or 8 hour time differences. Two days is not long enough to acclimatize. She suffers two nights of insomnia in the US, the two in the UK. This pattern is really getting to her. She looks exhausted. I hope she gets the transfer to ground crew for which she’s applied.
My trip will last four nights. Almost enough time to get properly used to living on Pacific time before flying back on Thursday. I’ve heard that most people’s body clocks are capable of shifting one hour per day, but that travelling East is worst. I think I recover a little faster than that, but it’s an interesting rule of thumb.

San Francisco

Trams in San Francisco

I’m considering living on a much more Eastern timezone while I’m in California. If I go to sleep at 8 pm and wake up at 3 or 4 in the morning then I might return to normal twice as quickly. It’s a good plan and I’ve always talked about doing it. The other benefit, for the frequent business traveller, is that you are also able to work more closely with your colleagues in the UK. That doesn’t affect me this week though. My colleagues are well aware that I’ve abandoned them for a week.

Looking For… The Best of David Hasselhoff

Hasselhoff’s music finds large audiences in Germany, Austria and Switzerland. David has released over 30 albums, many of them going ‘gold’ (i.e. selling over half a million copies). His music is also favoured by those with the most extreme of eclectic tastes. Released in 1995, this one is an absolute jem.

His vocal range is as broad and sweeping as that of his acting.

— Iella Dunthorpe from Wellington, Delaware USA

A full 6 years have passed since this compilation’s release, and still the Grammy Awards have yet to recognize this monument of musical achievement.

— A music fan from Kessel Spice Mines

Loud beats want to make me get up and dance in apartment with brother Chau and man who rents room in my house. Number one singing!

— Wo Hong Liu from Bierstadt, Korea

…now through the miracle of the now-profitable Amazon, you can realize your Hasselhoff dreams and put all of his biggest hits on just one slot of your 5-CD changer, leaving the other slots for Ace of Base, Brooks & Dunn, Faith Hill, and that hilarious (sic) Garrison Keillor. Danke Schon Mister Hasselhoff!

— A music fan from Houston, Arkansas

… A quick selection of quotes from the dozens of reviews on Amazon. Interestingly, each one ended with the line ‘The song “Hot Shot City” is particularly good’. Does this indicate the work of one crazed individual? Or that a meme got picked up?. Quite probably both.

San Francisco, Day 3

Another foggy day in San Francisco. By the end of it I will have spent an hour misleading an art gallery. First though, I decide to head to Alcatraz. I feel that the weather should perfectly suit the mood of the setting. I am excited about visiting the Rock. The concierge at the Hilton dashes my hopes though. “Sir, they are fully booked until Friday”. Damn. Other than the potential of seeing the seals again, I see no reason to go back to the wharf today, so I am pleased that I checked the Alcatraz situation before going to pier 41.

What to do instead? I decide to check out the art galleries. My wife is a artist, and she has taught me well in the ways of the art critic.

At the first gallery I get a frosty reception. This does not bother me particularly, as I am there only to browse. Buying original art works is not something I am likely to be able to afford for many years. The Picasso and Rembrant etchings before me are more than just a little out of my league. When the staff of the second gallery ignore me in exactly the same way as the first I become a little worried about it. My paranoia grows and I believe that they are quietly mocking me by pretending I don’t exist. I narrow it down to my age (22) and my appearance (trousers and shirt are not scruffy but not obviously screaming “art collector” either). When I enter the third gallery and a very friendly Californian guy greets me happily my spirits soar. Perhaps I am capable of pulling this off after all. So, by accident rather than by plan, I gradually begin to slide into a simple but total deception of this smiling man.

It begins with an icebreaker. He greets me with more effervescence than I’m used to, even in California, the most bubbly of states. I, after returning his salutation and assuring him that I’m doing very well today thank you, inform him that Californian galleries seem more friendly than those of Paris or London. This has two obvious effects.

  1. It demonstrates that I am English and not a local. Furthermore, if he is one of the seven Americans in the world capable of differentiating between a London accent and a Liverpudlian, that I am from the south of England with an accent which we would call home counties. This is not a deception. I don’t need to put on a posh accent. For some reason I speak like a toff all the time. Sometimes I am aware of it but rarely do I try to disguise it.
  2. It implies that I am familiar with European art galleries. Not, perhaps, a total lie but I get the feeling that the total lies are not far down the track.

His attention sufficiently captured, he asks what I think of the rather striking Andreas Nottebohm painting I was admiring as he greeted me. I tell him I am not familiar with the artist but I am fascinated by the technique. Is it acrylic paint applied directly to aluminium? David (for such is the Californian’s name) seems pleased I spotted that and wants to show me more of the Nottebohm works they have. I am genuinely keen to see more. This artist is new to me, and I really love the three pieces I’ve seen so far. We merrily chat about the style and the kind of lighting required to bring out the textures ground into the aluminium sheets which give the paintings their unique (as far as I’m aware) look. By this point we have gone up some stairs (past some Picasso etchings and, I note with joy, Salvador Dalí paintings) to a larger collection of Nottebohm paintings. They vary in size and shape (some are huge concave dishes) but all would make great book covers. They seem to depict the unseen depths of space. Some are strewn with intricately drilled and detailed markings – like an alien map or instruction manual. These pieces could, the viewer could easily imagine, be artefacts. Beautiful objet trouvé rather than man-made art. Others look more like intense space-scapes. Light plays across them revealing new aspects with every move of the head. The textures in the underlying aluminium are as important as the mind-bending shapes and colours the paint which covers it.

I realise that I am gushing a bit about these paintings but I want to emphasize that I am not pulling this guys chain. I have a very real admiration and respect for this work. It appeals to the sci-fi reader in me.

Now the crunch point. So far I could walk out the shop without having said an untrue word. The fulcrum is a question which David who has been subtly probing about where I am staying (the Hilton) and what work I do (computer geek) comes out with the biggie. “So, what do you collect?”.

I am pleasantly surprised. His incorrect assumption that I own art pleases me greatly. I also presents me with a dilemma. If I were totally honest I would laugh lightly and say “I wish” or something similarly self-deprecating. I am here to browse, thanks for showing me this stuff and do feel free to get back to your paying customers. Something in me doesn’t want to be so honest though. He has spent quite a while with me already, and I don’t want to let him down. Plus, my ego was dented earlier by being ignored and David has just enlarged it quite enormously. I’m also interested to see how far I can take this. Do I lie and name some obscure painter, or even make one up? This is risky. I may be expected to know what the works that I own are called, their style, where I purchased them and so on. I am not a bad liar but this is too complex for me to get into. The happy medium is to admit that I currently have no collection but also imply that I might be here to investigate the beginning of one.

This minor hurdle out of the way, David moves on to the next stage. Prices. This gallery (I won’t name it for David’s sake) is not so coarse as to display prices next to the art. Now that he believes I am for real (something my self-confidence is still floating over) he guides me through the prices of the works. He does not even, as I was more-than-half expect him to, concentrate on the cheaper works. Instead he concentrates on the ones I admired the most and goes from there. Essentially, though, I can spend from 2-3 thousand dollars, for a 4 x 3 inch work, to 50 or 60 thousand for the larger pieces. In order to maintain some sanity I indicate that the more affordable paintings are very interesting to me. I don’t say ‘affordable’ though I say ‘accessible’, thinking it’s a more respectful word when handling money. Looking back on it, ‘accessibile’ to an art dealer probably equates to ‘understandable’, but I’m sure he knew what I meant.

At this point he suggests that I might want to come to a Nottebohm exhibition in one month. We have passed the point of no return now. My brain too well fluffed to do anything other than say “I would love to! I don’t see why I shouldn’t come back for that”. A total lie. The reason I won’t be there is because I am really here on business and couldn’t really afford the flight let along the paintings I’m pretending to be weighing up. David doesn’t know this though, so I am taken to a small back room. A dozen or so of the smaller pieces are brought out from storage. David wears white cotton gloves. The small pieces are known by the artist as ‘Universes’ and I go through a frankly unbelievable process of selecting the ones I particularly like. I even, internally laughing at how far this has gone, pick out 3 that look good together as a triptych.

This goes on for perhaps half an hour. I have wasted an hour of David’s time now. Gentle guilt rests on my stomach. Before I can leave though I am shown catalogues. We exchange email addresses and I dutifully take a small Nottebohm brochure and agree that arriving 2 or 3 days before the show to get an early look at the new pieces will be wise. David also offers to email me some jpegs of other Nottebohm paintings which might be there. (I am really looking forward to this). He also takes my home address, which I give so that he can send an official invitation to the show. In return I agree to email him once I know when I will be arriving and where I will be staying in San Francisco. The one thing I demur on is my home phone number. Emails and letters I can cope with. Real-time communication would embarrass the hell out of me though.

In the evening I have chinese with some new friends at a great restaurant called the House of Manking. This we washed down with drinks at a variety of bars. I go to bed with a slightly guilty conscience. Poor David. He was so nice as well.

San Francisco, Day 2

I awake to a dark and foggy morning. There is a false horizon, I can see only 4 blocks in any direction. My head feels a lot like the weather. Misty. Opaque. I was up until 11 last night drinking with some new friends. I reflect on how quickly one is able to make friends with total strangers when travelling alone.

I awoke at 6am. One hour later than yesterday. Clearly my jet lag is still there but getting better. Someone once told me that jet lag is overcome at a rate of one hour per day. He seems to have told me the truth.

I get to the conference early; before 8am. I spend several hours preparing for a talk which is to be given at 11:45. This preparation time is stressful. The presentation I had carefully crafted last week is totally blank. 29 slides of whiteness. What has happened to it? I practically have to recreate it from scratch. I actually end up using the printed handouts for the presentation as a basis for re-writing it. Much stress. My happy afternoon and evening yesterday are forgotten. This is what travelling is about. Horrible lunches, long waits in airports and unexpected stress.

Fortunately, the talk goes really well. There is lots of laughter in the right places and some heavy-duty applause at the end. Afterwards its lunch; a chicken BLT and a can of Cherry Pepsi (picked just because I’d never seen it before. It turns out that Cherry Coke is better).

The fog lifts and the sun reveals a warm day.

In the evening I meet up again with my new friends and we go to Scomer’s. A great restaurant with a speciality in sea food. Afterwards we wander across to the next pier along. Seals. Dozens, perhaps hundreds of real live seals. They bark. They snort. They sneeze. They stink like shit. During a walk along the street we find that there are as many crap shops full of crap as there are seals. I buy a $12 pair of sunglasses. Wearing them at night makes me feel like a rock star, so I stop.

Bed. Sleep. Tomorrow I will be a tourist all day.

There is a drug treatment center in tampa that helps people with overcoming the addictions

San Francisco, Day 1

I love my job.

I’m sitting in a 25th floor room in the Hilton, San Francisco, looking out across the city. Magnificent. I vow to ride up to the top floor later. From the 46th floor I will be able to see more than just this glimpse of the Golden Gate Bridge.

I arrived yesterday evening after a gruelling journey from England. A whole day without rest. The only advantage was that I had time to read the whole of Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance. Air travel is boring but at least its a great chance to engage in mammoth reading sessions like that. Jet lag is a bitch though; it woke me up after only 6 hours sleep last night. Look, internal body-clock. I need this. Don’t you understand? It’s not midday, it’s four in the morning. No sense reasoning with it I suppose. Best just to gradually adjust.

I’m here for a conference. I am speaking at a ‘Technical Developers’ conference. (There are non-technical developers somewhere? Keep them away from me.) Today is a dead day as far as the conference goes. Food and drinks will be served later, so I shall go and network. I have business cards with me. These will go to deserving people only. Business card whores, who feel the day is not complete unless they get through a stack of 50 cards, annoy the hell out of me. I couldn’t do that. I brought about 20 with me. Most of the reason I’m so frugal with my cards is that I hate it when people contact me after conferences. I’m a developer. Conferences are strictly a side-line.

I briefly visit the conference center. About 9:30. No rush. I register – enjoying as I always do the ever-so-slightly surprised look in the eye of the staff when I (looking no older than my 22 years) register as a speaker. Internally I’m saying “Yes. I’m speaking. Yes, I probably am the same age as your son. I’m sure he could speak in public too if he wanted.” I have never had a problem with speaking to audiences.

The cinema one block from the conference center opens at 10 am. It was a Loews Cineplex. I watch the 11:30 showing of American Pie 2. Not quite as funny as the original but pretty watchable. The hour between buying the ticket and the start of the film I spend wandering and eating. I found a Burger King. It took an age to find the right change. “A dime is 10 cents, right?” I’m still not used to this currency. I will never know why the nickel is twice the size of the dime. That’s stupid. My favourite coin is the quarter. Pretty, pleasantly sized and a reasonable value. We don’t have 25p coins in the UK. The 20p is the closest you get. Mind you, we gave up on £1 notes a while ago too (we == English. They still exist in Scotland). Dollar bills don’t annoy me though. It’s fun to hold a wad of cash and not know how much is there until you’ve checked every note. Does the Federal Bank think that different colours and sizes for different valued notes would be too radical?

San Francisco feels like a real US city. I was in Minneapolis two weeks ago (another conference) and it felt much more sterile. San Francisco is dirtier. It has more homeless people. I felt more threatened as I wandered at dusk last night but, wow, it’s more real . It’s far more alive than Minneapolis. You’re ON the streets rather than 20 feet above them in a glass-covered walkway. Oh, and the roads really do go up and down hills just like in all those driving games. I havn’t seen anyone leave the ground yet but I’m sure with just a little speed it would be possible. Perhaps I will rent a Porsche and try it later. Or perhaps not.

I spend some time working. I have some Java to write.

The dinner at the conference center is good. Buffet food and free beers. I feel lonely and lost at first. There are over three thousand people and not one person I’ve ever met before. I wander around with food and beer looking for a table. When I sit down randomly at a table it is next to a young couple from Australia. He works with the software product I used to test. We talk shop, interspersed with pleasant small talk about the differences between Australian, American and English cultures.

He wants to mingle some more, so I continue to wander. I get chatting to two very friendly guys. They have recently signed a resale agreement for the brand new software I am here to speak about tomorrow. We chat happily about its features when suddenly it hit me. I am networking. It hits both of us at once, and we exchange cards.

The guys want to watch an American Football match at their hotel (the Hilton. It’s my hotel too), so we go there and get a few more beers. Conversation is varied. American Football. Rugby. The Kyoto Protocol. Hunting. Planet of the Apes. South Africa. Max Payne.

As I get to bed at 11pm I send my wife an SMS message. She replies straight away. She just got up. Of course, it’s 7am at home. Very weird.

Dreamlog – Jan 25th 2001

I was in the back garden of a big house. There was a party going on, with loud music, drink and drugs. I decided to show off a bit, and started spinning round really really fast. Eventually was spinning with such speed that to everyone else, I was a blur. At this point I hopped into the air, and (perhaps because I was spinning so fast) I stayed there, rotating like a floating spinning top 6 feet off the floor. This was cool. I often have dreams that I can fly / float / jump really high, but this was better. I could control my balance and speed by moving my arms, and I knew that everyone in the garden was watching my display.

After a few minutes (I wasn’t even beginning to get dizzy!) I collapsed dramatically into a crouch, and slowly floated down the ground, my spin decelerating. The crowd cheered, and I eventually scrunched my toes to stop myself totally. I found that although I could still jump on the roof of the house (which I did a few times – but got bored at having to lower myself carefully from the windowsill) , after my previous balletic performance, no-one was impressed.

Dreamlog – Dec 4th 2000

Unusually for me, I remember 4 dreams. All very vivid.

One.
I went into a corner shop to buy a Kit Kat (a chocolate bar wrapped in foil and paper). The shopkeeper winked at me and showed me how to fold the wrapper in such a way as to conceal drugs in it. Suddenly the Kit Kat was enormous, and the wrapping was Tin foil and bubble wrap. There was a pocket big enough to hold a kitten in the wrapper. Later, when I woke up, I wanted to remember how to make that fold.

Two
A middle-aged couple were having sex in a little wooden house. Disturbingly, their teenage daughter was sitting in the corner shouting encouragement at them.
“Go on Dad, f**k a stone off her!”

Three
My brother, my wife and I were driving a big black car around the owner’s house. We couldn’t make it stop. Putting it in neutral and applying the handbrake didn’t help – It just kept on going. We were getting worried that we wouldn’t be able to put it back in the garage without the owner noticing it was missing. Eventually, the owner’s son hopped in and told us to drive it into the tennis court and turn off the engine. It stopped just before a high grass bank. Phew. As we got out, the car was actually R2-D2. The helpful boy looked at me, he was wondering if I was going to take it with me. “You keep the droid”, I said kindly.

Four
I dreamed there was a wasp in my ear. No visuals, no-one else in the dream, just me and a wasp – sound and feeling. I woke up terrified. This has happened to me while awake before (though I was only 5 years old and so don’t remember it well). On waking, I was panicking. The change from dreaming to being awake was slow, and I thought it was happening for real. Relief when awake enough to realise it wasn’t.

Today was a good day

Oooohhh. This morning I felt GOOD. All day yesterday I had a hangover. The mother of all hangovers and the father-of-all-hangover got together again for one night to make a little baby BASTARD of a hangover just for me. It was self-inflicted of course. No-one ever had a hangover without it being their own fault. I hope not anyway (I’d find it difficult to imagine … unless you have some pretty evil friend who thinks its funny to feed you Vodka in your sleep…)

Oh yes. Vodka. 50:50 Vodka and Orange. The Screwdriver. HmmmHmmmm. I love Vodka and Orange even more than beer. Between 4 of us we got through 8 cans and 2 bottles of Vodka. So yesterday morning I woke up feeling really thirsty, and like my brain was 2 sizes too large for my head. I felt a bit better after

  1. taking a Shower
  2. 2 glasses of water
  3. 1 mug of tea
  4. 2 paracetamol
  5. A number 2

Sitting down, however, made me very nauseous, and I threw up. Not pleasant. I hate throwing up. I really hate blowing bits of last-night’s-rice from my nose after throwing up. I REALLY hate smelling my own puke for 2 hours after throwing up. Not nice. All day yesterday I felt like death. I got very little work done because I couldn’t concentrate on anything. I was going to node my hangover but it was too depressing.

Today is the 1st of December. In my Cadbury’s Advent Calendar this morning, I got a chocolate in the shape of a Christmas Cracker. I forget what the picture was. The drive to work was heavenly for two reasons.

  1. I didn’t have a hangover. Hurrah
  2. BBC Radio 1 was playing some really cool tunes, including…
  • Tainted Love – Soft Cell
  • I Love to Hate You – Erasure?
  • Rescue Me – Madonna

It was half an hour of a particular year. I never got to hear what year it was (arrived at work too damned soon)

Dreamlog – November 8, 2000

In last night’s dream, I was biting my fingernails (as I often do when awake) and noticed a very itchy feeling under and around my fingernails. I poked around (using a cotton bud or q-tip) and revealed a cavernous hollow filled with writing white-yellow worms.

I have had dreams before involving pulling large, earthworm-sized (again, white) worms from the sides of my fingernails, leaving being fat cylindrical holes of the same diameter as the invasive beasts. This is – it seems – as popular as dreams where your teeth fall out, or dreams where you can’t move. In last nights dream though, the worms were smaller – like thin maggots.

Having been pulled from my fingers these worms made straight for my eyes. I didn’t realise this until I’d seen something wiggling in my wife’s eye.

Next, I peeled back my the skin above my ears, revealing weird shallow hollows in the structure of my skull. Again, using a cotton bud I set about cleaning away a thin layer of stinking black filth that had somehow accumulated there.

I woke up feeling quite nauseous. A feeling that returns now as I recall the dream.