For my own mysterious reasons - which are plainly laid out here- I'm taking photos of things that make me happy. One a day for 100 days, in the style of the 100HappyDays project.
This series was slightly delayed by two weddings and a move (Did you know? - Two Weddings and a Move was the working title for 'Four Weddings and a Funeral' - in the first draft, the gay fella read out 'Stop All the Clocks' while everyone else hauled furniture upstairs).
"One thing I don't understand about Switzerland," I said to a student, "is why my electricity bill is so low. I mean, I'd almost prefer to pay more. Electricity should be expensive so we use less and save the planet." "I totally agree," came the reply, "but it's strange because my bill is quite high." Somewhere in the world, a crack of thunder rumbled ominously.
The student said, "Now tell me more about your plan to spend no money in July." "Well," I said, "my plan is to spend no money in July." "Gosh. I hope you don't get any unexpected bills!"
On July 1st, just after breakfast, I went to my mailbox and found an unexpected bill. The electricity company had been undercharging me for 6 years, and decided now was the right time to ask me to pay the difference.
I took the news with a smile and good grace.
Still, six years. Six bloody years. You have to laugh.
One of the basic principles of relationships, which any fool can learn from watching sitcoms or romantic comedies (e.g. the classic Three Weddings and a Baptism), is that people should notice when their partners have had haircuts.
I take care to notice Jen's hair every morning and evening and comment on every change, even if it's just a suspicious darkening or if it has acquired a more wig-like texture.
Needless to say, I have noticed every haircut Jen has ever had since the beginning of the relationship.
She hasn't noticed a single one of mine. It's got to the ludicrous point that when I say 'Do you notice anything different?' her eyes dart around the room and she shouts things like 'The chair is bigger? The printer is out of ink? You hid my crocs?'
Today's failure made it Andrew 14 - Jen 0 in haircut-noticing. So I've got that going for me, which is nice.
My new iPhone arrived. It's the same as the old one, but a bit bigger, and a fraction faster. It was fun unboxing it, stroking it against my cheeks, and trying to get the fingerprint scanner to recognise my tongue, but I quickly reverted to normal use - looking for pictures to send to my German friend Anna that she'll find disturbing or annoying.
As the first ever transmission from the new phone, I sent her this:
The reply was simply, 'dude, WTF.'
I assume she looked away as fast as possible, but it must have been nagging at her. Every few minutes I'd get a follow-up question: 'What's that thing she's hugging? Where did you get this? Is this what a wedding in Manchester looks like?'
Monty Python did a show at the O2 arena in London which was also streamed live in cinemas around the world.
One of my students thought buying tickets to that broadcast would be the perfect way to seduce a middle-aged Swiss woman. If you're not familiar with the Swiss, I can tell you that the previous sentence is as surreal as anything the Pythons ever came up with.
To his great surprise, he was rebuffed, so he ended up inviting me. I smuggled in some mini-wines, we got 'just as sloshed as Schlegel' and chuckled at the sketches.
|No-one expects original material|
There was nothing new, which I found disappointing. But as the alcohol kicked in I decided I was having a good time anyway. It's all very well trying to be fresh and original every time you perform, but probably most fans want to hear the classic hits. Jen, for example, doesn't laugh at much of my new stuff, but has fits of giggles when I sneak up behind her and burp in her ear.
After a bad start to my spend-no-money project I finally had some good news: I sold my old iPhone for a fair price. That meant all the calculations I'd done before upgrading hadn't been mere fantasy, but cold hard science.
Of course, it meant handing over my 4S, my faithful guide and companion. That little phone and I had some good times. There was the time we watched a video of Scarlett Johansson squirming on a rubber ball on a loop for about eight minutes. There was the time I pretended to use it to film some hoodlums and they got spooked and ran off.
But there was also the time it used a whole month's data plan in ten minutes instead of connecting to the wifi in my flat. There was the time it charged me for data roaming in Spain even though I'd turned off all the roaming features. And there was the time it took all my voice memos, containing some important notes to myself about my book, sent them to the NSA, then wiped them from my account, while laughing and nudging its mates.
You know what? I've changed my mind. I hope that piece of shit phone chokes on its own vomit!
One of my students has worked for his bank for so long that they gave him a three-month sabbatical. He was telling me about his plans.
"I'll fly to New York, spend some time there. Then fly to Vancouver, and take a month-long luxury cruise ship down the coast of America, Mexico, through the Panama canal, round the Caribbean, and up to Miami. Then we'll drive around California for a while. There's a bunch of spas we want to try out."
It's all too human to listen to such things with envy and resentment. But I was just really happy for him. That surprised me. Why should I be happy about the happiness of someone else?
Maybe it's because he's a great guy and I know he deserves it. Maybe it's just that I'm growing up, maturing, becoming a better person. Hmm. No, it's the first one.
|"Um... they're gonna come back for us, right?"|
You might remember me trying to put some pizzazz back into my relationship with Jen by becoming more mysterious. That basically meant not answering her questions in full and not finishing certain
Everyone I know, with one exception, thinks me being mysterious towards Jen is a good idea. But they also say that I should 'be nice' to her.
So I thought I'd get her a little present. I acquired Harry Potter book 1 - she wants to read all the HP books so she can enjoy the 'Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality' I mentioned last time.
When she got home I told her it was hidden in plain sight, and if she found it she could have it.
She wandered around the flat looking kinda gormless actually, and in the end I realised she wouldn't ever find it without help. So I gave her some hotter/colder hints and when that didn't work I picked it up and put it in her tiny hands.
"Aw!" she said, making her sloth-in-a-bucket face. "Where did you get this?"
"Oh," I said. "Just from a place."
"No, I mean, did you buy it or borrow it or what?"
"I have my sources."
That went on for a while. Finally, she went to do what she calls a 'lady poop', and I reflected on how my combination of thoughtfulness, generosity of spirit, and elusive mysteriousness makes me a wonderful person to know.
Progress after 77 days:
Compliments: "The things you think of! Your brain is just really weird." "You got thinner. It's like hugging a stick." "You made my day!" "Oh! It's actually quite firm."
Optimism: Mostly apprehensive about surviving/not being bankrupted by future events - two weddings, two holidays, and one move (another discarded movie title).