Saturday, January 17, 2015

95 Days of Happiness

It is believed that by taking photos of things that make you happy (every day for 100 days) you will improve your mood, become more optimistic, and, intriguingly, receive more compliments. Does it work? Let's find out! (Or go to part 1 to start at the start).

Day 92

It was the night before moving into my new flat. The old flat was an orderly mess of cardboard boxes, cupboards were bare, tempers were frayed.

We needed to get out for a bit, so Jen and I went round to Anna's for pizza, beer, and Apprentice.

Note that 'Apprentice' doesn't mean the dire American travesty, but the hit UK series. It's got some value as a set of business case studies, there's a serious message behind it, and the editing is superb.

But of course, people watch it for the idiots.

This guy's name is Giles, spelled with a 'Ch'. He chose that suit of his own free will!

Idiots who believe they are the best and brightest young business people in Britain. They say things like 'I'd sell ice to the eskimos' but when under pressure they offer 99% discounts and high-five each other to celebrate the sale. They say things like 'I smashed that presentation!' and are confused when it is pointed out to them that the audience hated it and didn't place any orders.

It's a brilliant show to watch in a group because not a minute goes by that doesn't provoke laughter, gasps, or a full-body cringe. 

So entertained and distracted was I that by the end of the episode, I'd totally forgotten the stress-filled day that lay ahead. Fortunately Jen was on hand to remind me. "Tomorrow," she said, "is going to be a dick."

Day 93

The move was awful, yet barely anything went wrong. I can't imagine how it feels for people whose delivery trucks don't turn up, whose new flat doesn't have a lift, and all that. Even in the best case scenario it takes as much out of you as an embalmer.

When the movers were finally gone and we were alone in our new world, Jen curled up into a ball on the floor and started snoring.

I walked around rubbing my cheeks onto all the surfaces, then set up my PC so I could play my new obsession - Rimworld.

Rimworld is very much like real life, but instead of watching in horror as an elderly Turkish man buckles under the weight of your girlfriend's ornamental treasure chest - actually, never mind, Rimworld is nothing like real life.

It's a charming, addictive game where you control some everyday people who are marooned on a remote planet. It's a bit like Robinson Crusoe, except the colonists have psychological traits like 'nudist' (they get grumpy if you make them wear clothes) or 'prostophile' (if you cut off their arms and give them a bionic replacement, they'll be ecstatic).

This picture is not a typical scene from the game - it's actually my new flat. I had my colonist dudes build it so I could plan where to put the furniture. 

Bottom left is the entrance, to the right of which is the bathroom. All the gaps around the edge are windows. (Buildings in Rimworld don't have windows yet - the game is still in development.)

The room on the bottom right will be my office. Above it is a 'loggia' or winter garden (Basically a conservatory, but on the 7th floor). The battery thing next to the 4 stools symbolises our TV and sofa. The 'Stomp' character represents Jen and her crazy loud footsteps.

Who says games are a waste of time?

Day 94

I woke up in the new flat for the first time, and opened the window. It was really, really quiet. So quiet that I could hear cowbells in the distance. Cowbells! From a farm! Instead of thumping bass from shitty car stereos. Instead of barking dogs!

My new neighbour

I felt incredibly refreshed and relaxed, and Jen and I took a tour around our new domain, discussing where we were going to put things. I pretended to agree with her, because I knew that she'd be away for the weekend and I'd be able to do exactly what I wanted. After all, I'd been practising my organisational skills on Rimworld. Jen wouldn't know where to put a defence turret so why should I let her choose where the sofa goes?

I mentioned how incredibly quiet it was compared to the old flat, and we looked for other points of difference.

Me: "The dishwasher doesn't just push dirt around the plates, it actually cleans them."
Jen: "It's nice having our own washing machine and dryer instead of being allowed to use the communal one once every two weeks."
Me: "The bathroom fan isn't noisy so you can relax in the bath with the light on."
Jen: "The landing doesn't smell like piss."

Day 95

I told my brother I had just finished binge-watching Breaking Bad and True Detective and was in the market for a new show.

"Oh, that's easy," he said, while taking a duck-faced selfie. "Gogglebox."
His delivery was like the man in The Graduate who says 'plastics' - as though the word explained itself. In my opinion, it didn't, so I asked, "Gogglebox? What's that?"
He eyed me with pity. "It's a show where you watch people watch TV."
"You... watch people watch TV? Seriously? And that's it?"
"Yes." Then he repeated the word Gogglebox, this time like he was Orson Welles.


It sounded like something stupid to put on that would annoy Jen, so I gave it a go. But after five minutes we raised our eyebrows at each other - it's bloody brilliant! 

People watching TV

It's my new favourite thing. 

You get a clip of the TV show that they are watching so you know what they're reacting to, then you see the goggleboxers laugh, cry, complain, and discuss. Inevitably, you react to their reaction, whether that means tears or tearing into politicians. 

Example: today they were watching the news. It had a report about desperate migrants trying to get into Britain via the Channel Tunnel. The poor sods were sneaking onto the axles of trucks and clinging on for dear life. There was hidden camera footage; it was appalling and terrifying.

The various families and friends discussed it for a few minutes, but the final word fell to 14-year-old Amy. "Well," she said knowledgeably, "if they're willing to risk their lives like that, it just goes to show how bad things are in Calais."

Must watch. Two thumbs up.

Progress after 95 days:

Mood: Uprooted but happy

Compliments: "Are you still playing that stupid game?" "You forgot to do this section on the last post." "Everyone says you're a brilliant teacher."

Optimism: Running wild with expectation on the edge of the unknown

Monday, January 05, 2015

How to Not Die Like Bob Marley

"In July 1977, Marley was found to have a type of malignant melanoma under the nail of a toe."

So Much Trouble in the World

"Now they sitting on a time bomb. Now I know the time has come."

I was slapping my belly in front of the bathroom mirror (I'm unsure whether to describe this as a hobby or a ritual). I put my hands on my hips and let my gut hang out, and turned sideways to admire my bulbosity. My gaze was drawn to a weird patch of skin on my back. It looked like a bunch of rotting Christmas sprouts.

I sighed. "Probably should get that checked out," I said.

Them Belly Full (But We Hungry)

That was in 2009.

Once a week for the next 5 years I did and said the same exact thing. Every time I either forgot or chickened out. There were always other demands on my time, and what if it was bad news? 

"Shoulda come earlier, fool! Now we gotsta amputate youz back.  You ain't getting in no plane."

I wasn't sure I could deal with that kind of news. So I did like Bob Marley:

Forget your sorrows and dance!
Forget your sickness and dance!

(Eventually I found enough time and courage to make an appointment.)

Could You Be Loved

The dermatologist told me to hop onto the examination table. She peered at my moles through a special device that looked like a cheap toy. After three seconds she breezily said, "No problem there!"

Huh? I'd been worrying about nothing the whole time?

"Now turn over and let me check out your legs." I briefly considered refusing. After all, didn't Bob Marley once say 'don't let them rearrange you?'

The doctor spent a long time peering at some insignificant freckles. Then she took even longer studying a bruise on my foot I'd gotten playing football. "That's just a bruise from football," I said.

"Ha!" she laughed. "That's what killed Bob Marley!"
"Excuse me?"
"Bob Marley had the same exact bruise as you. In his case it was a melanoma. He thought it was an impact from football. It killed him."
She was so delighted that I didn't really know how to respond. I was also unsure what melanoma meant. I was thinking about 'melanin' - the harmless pigment in skin. How would that kill anyone? "Er... so what... er what?"
"This will have to come off," she said, indicating my foot. "This too." She pointed to a tiny black dot on my shin.
My foot! I needed that for picking up the remote control when I'm on the sofa. And my shin! I needed that for bumping into coffee tables. "Just to clarify, what do you plan to remove?"
"This." She waved.
"Be more specific."
"This little freckle thing. It is, how do you say in English?... suspicious. And that one. To be sure."

Iron Lion Zion

A quick look on Wikipedia suggested she'd got the Bob Marley story wrong, but whatever. The operating room contained a massage table and not much else. 

The only decorations were the knives that would slice up my beautiful flesh.

I tried to be iron like a lion in zion, but was more frightened than a bison in Brighton.

My worries were misplaced. The anaesthetic injections were painful, but I didn't feel the knifework and the stitches were painfree, though weird and icky.

"Don't shower for two weeks," she told me as I hobbled out.

"I wasn't planning to."

Nice bit of blood oozing out there

Wake Up and Live

The dermatologist gave me the results of the biopsy. It took a while because she didn't know any of the relevant words in English. Eventually I just said, "Is it cancer?" and she said no.

Get Up Stand Up

The lesson here is probably something like 'check your skin and if you see anything weird go see a doctor.' Or perhaps the real lesson is 'don't try to shoehorn a Bob Marley theme into a text because it's hard to do well.' 

But the message I'm ending on is: 'There's no point checking your skin because you don't know what to look for, so just go to an expert and let them do it. Oh, and do it right now.'

Wednesday, December 31, 2014

My Miserly Month

Note from Andrew - "For the first time, this blog has a guest writer. Be nice to her."

by Jen

Hi, everyone in Internet Land! My name is Jen. I'm Andrew's girlfriend. (Yes, I won the dating lottery. Don't ask how many tickets I bought. Lol!)

Andrew did a project in July that he called his 'Miserly Month'. He said he wouldn't spend any money and that he would write about it on his blog. Well, the year's nearly over and there's still no sign of any article.

"Where's your article?" I asked him about an hour ago. "I really want to read it."
"Here's my article," he said, throwing a dog-eared notepad at me. Receipts and post-it notes showered in its wake, like sparks from a comet. "You write it if it's so easy. Go on! Write it. See what happens."

I used to like writing. I mostly did poems about ponies and homoerotic Westlife fanfiction. "Fine," I said, "I will. As soon as I find my crayons."

Setting the Record Straight

Since I'm here, I'd like to make sure everyone knows that things Andrew writes about me aren't always true. 

First, I'm not a dwarf - I'm 164 Swiss centimetres tall and can reach almost all the shelves in a supermarket. Second, all the stuff about me getting furiously angry about inconsequential things is only true according to a very narrow definition of the word true.

Events Leading to Miserly Month

Andrew had been reading a subversive blog called Mr Money Mustache for a couple of weeks. Its idea is to furiously squirrel away money until you can quit working. Sometimes Andrew would look up from his phone and say things like 'this guy in Milwaukee sold all his chairs and now he just squats' or 'this guy in Denmark harvests his own toenails and sells them to churches as confetti.'

After reading the entire blog from start to end, he jumped out of bed.

He stormed around the flat looking at things, questioning if we needed them, querying the cost of everything. Where do we buy our milk? What's the EBITDA on these houseplants? Why do we need two frying pans? ("One's for chicken eggs, one's for ducks.") We never use this table! ("I use it every day but you never notice.") Why do we have ornaments? ("They're cute and pretty.") How much do we spend on toaster oil? ("Nothing, that's not a real thing.") Could we sell this used cardboard? Could we wall off half the flat to save on heating? 

And on and on. I began to wonder where this process would end. It was easy to picture Future Andrew very very clearly.

Future Andrew

After working himself up into some kind of financial frenzy, near the end of June he said, "Oh, by the way, I'm not going to spend any money in July." 

I'll admit that I freaked out. I wanted to yell, "I don't want to use junk mail as toilet paper!" I wanted to shout, "I don't want to take baths in reclaimed rainwater!" I wanted to scream, "I'm a girl! I like soft furnishings and creams that cost more per kilo than plutonium! You're supposed to make my life better not drag me into your whirlpool of craziness!" 

But I couldn't form the words. I ran out of the flat sprinted to the nearest shop and bought a cake and ate the cake right there at the checkout while the woman watched me eat the cake and said I had cake on my chin

My Experience of Miserly Month

It's fair to say I was dreading July, but it started quite normally. As always, I woke up giggling because of a dream (this time about a pair of crime-solving ponies who told me secrets), and started getting ready for work. 

I was surprised to find Andrew in the kitchen making a packed lunch. He never did that. He told me that normally he'd spend 15 francs at Subway. 15 francs! My mouth dropped open and it took me a moment to realise he was trying to wrap some grapes in greaseproof paper. I showed him where the clingfilm was and left.

When I got home I asked him about his day, looking for clues that he was slowly turning into a tramp. I was perplexed to hear that he had bought a new iPhone. "What's miserly about buying the most expensive phone on the market?" I asked. He said that "because of reasons" it was actually only going to cost him 70 francs and he thought it was worth it to skip two generations of phone.

I started to wonder if I'd misjudged this miserliness thing. You can be frugal and have nice things?

The days passed. We were supposed to meet a friend for drinks. "I don't want to spend silly money in a bar," said Andrew. Aha! I thought to myself. Now I can get angry at him and have one of those dramatic episodes I enjoy so much. But he continued, "So I bought some little bottles of prosecco and some snacks. We'll sit by the river." "Oh," I said, quite disappointed, "That actually sounds lovely."

His main target for savings seemed to be food. He encouraged me to make healthy things for dinner and to make big portions so he could eat leftovers for lunch the next day.

sensed an opportunity to break his spirit and end this stingy stupidity - I cooked lentils night after night after night.

On the sixth day I held a bag of red lentils behind my back. "Andrew, guess what's for dinner?" I revealed the bland, lifeless legumes.
"Oh," he said, his face crumpling. "Lentils. That's... really great. Cheap and healthy. Yes, sir, cheap and healthy." He went to his computer, opened a financial spreadsheet and stared at it while rubbing his temples.

The next day he came back from Aldi with a bag of groceries. "Look," he said, "They have lentils in Aldi. Half the price." We stared at each other for a very long time. I cleared my throat - "I was thinking we could phone a pizza tonight. Um... my treat."

So Andrew won that round, but who won the war? 


Andrew spent 280 francs in July, which included a haircut (I didn't notice), 3 giant tubs of ice-cream (unshared) and 2 pizzas. About a third of what he'd normally spend. Not zero francs, then, but not bad. (For comparison, know that I spend 90 francs a month on cake, pony ornaments, and my Westlife Uberfanclub membership.)

Eating all my delicious veggie food helped him lose two kilos - his belly was getting almost ripped. It's back to flabby now because in the meantime we had two holidays and a stressful move. But he's still fairly frugal, and a good thing too with all the bills we've had.

I'm not 100% on board the frugality train, but at least I've learned that it's clean and the seats are comfy. (We just bought a premium sofa for half price - yay!)

Most of all, I've learned not to be such a drama queen babyhead and to trust in Andrew and the wisdom of all his plans and whims.

Saturday, December 20, 2014

91 Days of Happiness

It is believed that by taking photos of things that make you happy (every day for 100 days) you will improve your mood, become more optimistic, and, intriguingly, receive more compliments. Does it work? Let's find out! (Or go to part 1 to start at the start).

Day 85

We landed in Nice to spend some time there before a wedding. We needed to take a bus to our hotel.

Being ignorant of French travel norms, we went to the bus station. After queuing for a while, it was our turn.

"Good morning, sir," I said, "I should like to buy two bus tickets."
"Ha!" roared the Frenchman manning the counter. "Ha!"
"Um... right. Two tickets, please."
"This is the bus station," he told me. "You can't buy bus tickets here."
"I just saw you sell tickets to all those people."
"Those people," he told me haughtily, "were buying tickets for the bus. Not tickets for the bus."
I rubbed the bridge of my nose. "So where do we buy tickets for the bus." His eyebrows shot up. "I mean the bus."
"On the bus," he said.

We went to the closest stop, which was the wrong stop, walked all the way back to where we started, by now leaking sweat from every pore. We found the right stop by following the deepest trail of sweat, waited for the right bus, and bought two tickets. Hooray!

After the relief had worn off, I began to fret. "What was the name of the stop again?"
Jen looked on her phone. "Aauaauaa," she said. (That's what it sounded like, anyway. The French attitude to consonants is one of their many faults.)
I looked around and realised there was no digital screen or route map. The only information we could get was the name of the stop we were going past. We didn't know if our stop was the next one, or the third one, or the umpteenth one.
Jen went to ask the driver. "Will you be saying the names of the stops?"
"Nah, too much effort." Shrug.
"When is Aauaauaa?"
"Um... yeah. In a bit." He glanced behind him. "I guess."
"We were told the trip would be about 20 minutes."
"Could be."
"There are many ways you could help us out, here."
Shake of head. "Look, come back in 15 minutes and ask me again."

Annoying. Plus the bus was jam-packed. You know those pictures of crowds on Indian trains? Imagine that.

But without the camaraderie.

We drove at 200mph for three stops, hit traffic, and progressed at a speed roughly equivalent to being pulled across the Sahara desert by huskies specially bred to have tiny, tiny legs.

Finally we arrived. When Jen told me we had to change to another bus I nearly wept. Fortunately, it came quickly. We didn't even have time to check the timetable when the doors opened. We stepped on.

"Do you go to Ouiouiwee?" Jen asked.
"I dunno," said the driver.
"How can you not know?"
"I don't know all the stops in Nice," he said. He couldn't even be bothered to shrug.
"You only need to know the stops on one route."
"Well I don't."
Eventually a fellow passenger told us it was the right bus, and a different one told us when to get off.

Transport in France is an absolute shambles. I'm not even going to write about the trains there because just thinking about it gives me nipple warts. There are millions of French people suffering from and through that 'service' every day of their lives, a thought that makes me very happy indeed.

Day 86

Parts of Nice are really great. The old town is superb, and next to it is a long park with fun play areas and refreshing fountains.

Then there's the beach. Three of us went to have a swim. It's rocky, with a sharp dip at the point you enter the water. I had two glasses of prosecco then hobbled towards the dip. I slid down with what I like to think was gravity-defying elegance and my belly-flop into the water was totally intentional.

After flailing around at toe-depth for a bit I decided I had ingested enough salt water for one day. In the five minutes I was there, I developed an overwhelming terror of being bitten by a shark. My companions mocked me for this, but the thing about water is that in such large quantities you can't see what's in it. It's a frightful place, the sea.

So I decided to leave. With one main problem - what looked like a dip from one side has, from the other side, the countenance of a cliff. I tried to clamber up, but with the rocks not only wobbling but also trying to pierce my flesh, and with wave after wave crashing into me, I kept losing my balance and toppling backwards.

This continued for quite some time, because my 'friends' were too busy laughing - literally weeping with joy - to help. Finally, a stranger took pity on me and threw me some flip-flops. With those on I was able to manoeuvre myself so that my bottom faced the cliff and I could shove myself up, ass first, three or four inches at a time.

So yeah, basically I emerged from the water just as sexily as all English guys.

Day 87

Still in Nice, I saw a shop I thought was funny. It was this hairdresser:

Normal hairdresser, right? Look closer.

What exactly drove this poor man to stop serving female customers? The mind boggles.

Day 88

Today there was a wedding. Cecile married Nick. Cecile's a journalist and works for a newspaper in Christchurch. She asked me to write a review of the wedding, which I did. It's literally the best thing that has ever been written about weddings and I was quite chuffed to see it printed.

Look! There it is! In a real newspaper!

That's my article on the left. Now it wasn't pure, unalloyed joy I felt - I had two reservations. First, they changed the title of the piece. It was given the uninspiring title, 'It's a nice day for a French wedding.' Not only is that incredibly dull, but it also removes an important bit of information and makes parts of the article unnecessarily weird.

It should have been called 'The Case of the Insouciant Celebrant' - a title I'm sure a literate, inquisitive person such as yourself will find deliciously intriguing. When you read the article - by clicking here - you'll understand why changing the title is a crime against literature.

MOREOVER, my good friend Cecile told me that she had intervened in the editorial process when she learned that my article was to be given full-page treatment. Full page! Me! In a real newspaper! But NON. Non, non, non. "I made them change it to half a page," said Cecile, "Because I've never had a full-page article so you can't get one on your first go. That wouldn't be fair, would it?"

Day 89

I left Nice after two bus trips EVEN WORSE than the ones on day 85. Joy!

For the photo of this event, here's one I took of a guy who was at the airport with us - crippled Arsenal star Olivier Giroud.

Day 90

Great things about being back home - tea with milk you can trust; sleeping in your own bed; catching up with all the internet stuff you missed.

To think that I nearly didn't see this sensational image:

Don't dial 0465-8767-1724-6613, because that's the police.

Day 91

As much as I enjoy pretending to be mad at Cecile, she did trust me to write the review of her wedding (a trust I spectacularly and hilariously betrayed) and she even paid me the fee she got (which I said wasn't necessary).

At the same time I was paid for editing a dissertation, and got a gig translating a corporate website from German into English (note - I don't speak German and they paid a fortune). 

Three pieces of paid writing work in a month! I felt like Catherine Cookson. I earned enough to spend two weeks in Nice, or buy 32 crates of cheap beer from Aldi.

Guess which one I chose?

Mood: Relieved.

Compliments: "Andrew seems to be perfect." "It's still on your chin. No, the other side." "You always ruin everything."

Optimism: Coming up was a family holiday and moving apartment. Lots of stress on the horizon, but I felt quite sure everything would turn out well. So... 7 out of 10.

Monday, November 17, 2014

84 Days of Happiness

It is believed that by taking photos of things that make you happy (every day for 100 days) you will improve your mood, become more optimistic, and, intriguingly, receive more compliments. Does it work? Let's find out! (Or go to part 1 to start at the start).

Day 78

What's the most compelling piece of television you've seen recently? Breaking Bad? House of Cards? Those shows are great but crumble when judged against The Great British Bake Off.

The concept is simple - a bunch of middle-class Brits get in a tent and are told to bake a lemon cake or a shortbread. We watch them. It is amazing. 

More people watch it than watched the World Cup final. It's all very gentle and civilised and full of mild humour. Which made The Bincident all the more thrilling - contestant Diani took contestant Iain's Baked Alaska out of the freezer. It melted. If that'd been me, I'd have yelled at Diana so loud and long her bones would have shattered and I'd have used her jellified remains as ersatz ice-cream. Instead, Iain, the victim, took his ruined bake, threw it in the bin, and stormed out of the tent. Out of the tent!

While the bincident was playing out on screen I neither blinked nor breathed. I realised Dirty Diana progress to the next round and the Innocent Iain would be sent home. "What the eff," I said. "What the very eff."

Nor was I the only one to get worked up - thousands of people phoned the BBC to complain (about the injustice) and social media was abuzz, and the biggest newspaper in the country ran this front page:

A show about baking. Front page news! Baking. Sometimes I love being British.

Day 79

Today I was subjected to a sustained assault on my health and dignity. I was forced to go camping. It was for my friend Kevin's stag party, which makes sense until you realise the camping was his idea.

For those who don't know, camping is where you wait for the coldest, wettest day of the year, drive into the countryside until you're dangerously far from a Domino's Pizza, and erect a nanometre thin piece of cloth. This is called a 'tent' and you 'sleep' in it.

There were seven of us at the start. It turned into one of those horror movies where people are taken out one by one. We lost Tim to wakeboarding, which is as related to waterboarding as the name suggests, and soon after, Alex had to go to put out a fire in his friend's flat 100km away. 

By breakfast, the conditions plus alcohol plus thumping music and screaming kids had reduced everyone to gibbering wrecks. All except the groom who announced he would 'pop in the lake for a quick 5k swim'.

The one good bit was the premium wagyu burgers that Brett brought and grilled. He topped them with blue cheese and they were pure heaven. He quoted Leonidas by saying, "Tonight we dine in hell, and the food is surprisingly good."

Day 80

One of my students was alone in the classroom. "The others can't come," he said, "Too busy." 
At first I was disheartened. He was the weakest in the class and it would cost me more effort and energy than if the stronger students had been there to do my work for me.

After a few minutes I realised something had changed. "This guy," I thought to myself, "Has improved beyond all recognition. How did that happen?"

I pointed out that his English was really good and asked him why. "Because you're a good teacher," he said, and we both had a good laugh. "No, but really," I said. I wanted to know.

"Well," he said, "I installed that Duolingo app you told us about. I practice ten minutes every day. And I watch NBA basketball. That's in English. But I guess the main thing is that I watch a lot of Geordie Shore." "You mean Jersey Shore." "No, Geordie Shore. People from Newcastle going to parties and being moronic."

So there you have it, people. The secret to incredibly rapid language acquisition is these guys:

Britain - exporting language and culture for a thousand years.

Day 81

If you're new here, know this: Jen is my girlfriend and she rides horses. 

I was reading a comic hidden behind 'The Consolations of Philosophy' when she came home from work.
"A guy emailed me today," she said. I wasn't immediately interested, and made some non-committal noise. "It was a strange request... or maybe... Never mind."
I looked up. "What sort of request?"
"The strange thing was that he wrote via my work email. So he must have been googling riding teachers or just looking for women who ride."
"And? The request?"
"He said he would pay me if I let him clean my boots."
"Oh," I said, and looked back at my comic. Then it clicked. "Wait - he'll pay you?"
Time passed. 
"And I suppose the dirtier the boots are, the more he'll pay?"
"I didn't go into detail."

Budding entrepreneurs take note: there's easy money to be made from these fetishists. I got Jen to give me the guy's email address and he's paying me 20 francs to print this photo of her:

Day 82

Because everyone schedules their weddings to cause maximum inconvenience, I was forced to go my second stag party in a week. I was still covered in leeches as part of my rehabilitation from the first one. 

Nick's stag do sounded just as fun as camping - the victims had to cycle the length and breadth of Switzerland then go rock-climbing up the most jagged, skin-flaying outcrops of hell ever discovered.

Luckily I had to work so missed all that and just went to dinner. Except the groom, everyone - literally everyone - at the table was called 'Andrew'. I waited for an explanation but I waited in vain.

When Nick went to the toilet I asked why all Nick's friends had the same name.

"I have a theory about that," said Andrew. "When I first met Nick he was quite diffident towards me, but when he heard my name he completely changed. He started biffing me in the arm and buying me beers. Next time I met him was at another party, and I observed first-hand as Nick met Andrew."
"Me?" asked Andrew.
"Yes, you," said Andrew. "And I realised that - shit, he's coming." He cleared his throat and continued talking about lobular fatigue and ductility.
I never heard the end of the story, but later I got an anonymous text message which had just one word: 'prosopagnosia'. 

If I can survive a week without being forced to go to parties, maybe I'll have time to look it up.

Day 83

Today I discovered a Twitter account called 'Drunk Furniture' and had a good laugh at it. Here's a small sample:

"It's funny," said Jen, "But why is there so much furniture lying around?"
"That's Britain for you," I said fondly. Sometimes I love being British.

Day 84

This post is already quite long so I won't write anything about day 84 except to say that I had a good time and I was happy and this picture was related to my happiness:

Mood: Good

Compliments: "You've told this story before. But tell it again." "I hadn't even noticed your bald spot until now." "You don't smell but those socks smell."

Optimism: High