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."
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?
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."
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