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Further depressing thoughts

Jane, if you ever did go and look at that Quora thread, don’t worry about whether you need to tell me I was in fact being rude during it. I have stopped worrying about that (what stage is Acceptance?) and am now worrying again about whether I’m going gaga.

Reason being there are two occasions in that thread when I make a comment and the other person says: “What do you mean? I clearly already answered that?”

And I go back to check and lo, they have.

Still more worrying than that is my instant self-justifying thought: Perhaps they are editing the posts to confuse me… (I tried checking but I can’t figure out how to see if someone is editing their comments. It’s quite easy to do when you’re checking main question threads.)

I’m not sure if accepting that I’m going a bit lacking in the comprehension and noticing things department is any saner but it’s definitely the politer course to say ‘Oh, never mind: it must be me.”

The other depressing thing was a thought that struck me when I was getting supper. “This universe I seem to be experiencing shows a striking resemblance to an Alien Space Bat intervention. Really, really unlikely people are having political successes.”

I’m sure you must have had the same thought, if you’re at all an sf and alt-history fan.

But the really alarming question is what sort of alt-history the Space Bats are going for.

Is this an honest ‘what if Donald Trump and Brexit had won back in 2016’ intervention?

Or is it one of those alt-histories that have a thesis about how things would have been wonderful if only their heroes had got the fair chance they deserved.

Or in other words are the ASBs Trump and Farage fans? Will they continue to distort reality?

If you hear that I have been smote down in the next few days, have the police check for crop circles and scorch marks in the area. Just sayin’

Am I an ogre?

I ask purely because I’ve been accused of frothing at the mouth, disrespecting other people’s experience and lashing out at everybody around me in my rage and frustration.

Now this was on Quora during a discussion of Brexit but I’m still a little concerned.

Perhaps being in the Far Isles for so long has been a bad influence on me. I play the role of a retired monarch, a Cardinal Archbishop of the Catholic Church and so I have a tendency when in character to say unto one ‘go’ and expect that he will and that right speedily.

Or maybe it’s the Oxford influence. I’ve never thought I was one of the elite. I’ve met a few and they didn’t welcome me into their company with glad cries and mentions of Old Times Sake. But perhaps the attitude has rubbed on along with the accent.

And there was the moment in New York when Ann said to me that I really couldn’t address the people preparing my breakfast in those tones even if they had got my order wrong.

I have, as a matter of policy, stopped being polite about Brexit though. It is hard to get an idea into the mind of someone who is hostile to everything about it so I can’t claim I’m fighting to convert Leavers into Remainers. what I think I am doing is fighting the memetic battle for those people who aren’t sure or who don’t much care.

And a voice at the back of my mind says: How many of those do you think are hanging around on Quora, you old fraud? You are really there for the pleasure of having something you give a damn about to argue around and about.

Well, maybe. I yip like the little dog in the Tarot card, trying to keep his master away from the precipice. I drop words in people’s ears and hope against hope that things might swing back my way.

Which is, of course, the way of sanity and sweet reason. Trust me on this.

Persecuting the Pusscat

Turning away from my political gibbering for a moment let me record that I am currently being mean to Monty.

All in a good cause of course, though he may not agree. He’s had a sore on his head that has refused to heal for a couple of years now. He’s FIV+ and doubtless that’s been a factor but there’s also the fact that he keeps rubbing off the scab whenever it forms.

Being an old softy I have mostly ignored this. I didn’t want anything to inconvenience my flatmate at all, at all. And most of all I was dreading the reproachful looks I’m currently getting and the sight of him struggling to do things as simple as lick his paws and then clean his face. Cowardice I know.

But since I’ll be off to Germany for five days later this month I thought I would enquire about whether it would be possible to put a cone on his head while I was away. The nice trainee nurse at my vets said sure and recommended something called a ‘Comfy Cone’.

And since I could not actually face the image of myself being too cowardly to put it on him the morning I left and crossing fingers he’d be all right I’ve been and gone and done it.

He’s gone silent. He’s normally a very vocal cat, miaowing away like nobody’s business as he comments upon his day, my tardiness in feeding him and a lot of other stuff best known to him. But since I put this cone thing on him not a squeak.

He’s still willing to climb up on my lap and purr when I stroke him though and that’s something.

There will be no pictures to illustrate this posting despite the fact that he looks so cutely grumpy and grumpily cute in his blue cloth cone. We shall see what we shall see over the next week or two what we can achieve by the way of letting the wound scab over and healing start.

On the new Doctor

Well, OK.

That was alright. The monster was a ripoff of a well known commercial franchise. There was a bit too much preachiness and the deliberate plucking-at-the-heartstrings stuff always gets up my nose a bit if it’s not built up to first.

Some of the Yorkshire accents sound a bit duff in the minor parts. But I’m from Manchester so what do I know?

But on the other hand the explanation of what regeneration felt like was a nice, poetic expansion of the mythos. It had pace and energy. The lead looks like she can grow into the part.

They haven’t offended my sensibilities in the first episode. And the whole thing hung together. They have my permission to continue.

Getting old, getting confused, getting afraid

I was up in Birmingham yesterday, Saturday 6th, attending TekUCon a one day event for the world of the Empire of the Petal Throne.

Fun was had, thank you for asking, and I finally got to use HEROQUEST to run a Tekumel game which went well (and even better when I ran if for the Whartson Hall group at Roger’s this morning). It still needs work as a system: the players were forgiving of my fluffs and failures. I’m not sure if my next step is to work on the HQ version or see if this has bumpstarted my interest in getting REIGN OF THE PETAL THRONE working.

But all that is by the by. The point of this post is when I got back I found in my e-mails a missive from the excellent Leisure Games of Finchley, thanking me for my order and saying I can pick it up from the shop.

Now under other circumstances I would have merely been puzzled by this. Not only could I not remember ordering anything from them but I always pay for postage as I neither live nor work in London, let alone Finchley. I wouldn’t have panicked: I could wait till Monday to ask them what was up.

But I had finally gotten around to doing something I had been meaning to do for a while the day before and installed a Home Cloud (no manufacturer’s names, no packdrill or endorsement) on my home machine so I can have something under my control where I can put data and backup for my numerous devices, that I can reach through the web. I first had the idea to do this a while ago and a friend’s enthusiastic mention of his setup on Wednesday made me decide to go ahead and order one. It came Friday, I set it up and left it running on Saturday while I was out.

I think (and this probably is the core and jist of this posting) that when you get old, even if you’re not aware of it, doing new things requires an investment of courage that drains your reserves of composure so that if a shock hits you you’re less able to withstand it.

That e-mail made my mind immediately jump to ‘Oh my Gawd! It’s not secure! All my data is vulnerable! All my money will drain away before I can do anything about it!” (Leave aside that ‘most of my money’ is invested where you can’t get at it via my bank account.) My tendency to self dramatisation, which does so much excellent work in service of my hypochondria, went into overdrive.

This wasn’t helped by the fact that my bank no longer update your account over the weekend and any credits and debits are going to be languishing on their cloud somewhere until first thing Monday morning. The upshot of which was that I couldn’t go on line and see if there was any supporting evidence for my gibbering.

Well, all was well after all. I got a phone call in the middle of the Sunday game: Leisure Games responding to the quavery message I had left on their answerphone. It was something I had pre-ordered back in May and had forgotten about. They would post it to me. Perhaps the e-mail should never, in fact, have been sent. Excellent customer service there, lads, and who knew they worked on Sundays?

I got home and plugged the home cloud back in. I feel silly. No, it’s no use telling me I wasn’t.

I have gained perhaps a little insight into why growing more conservative as you grow old is a cliche. You can’t cope with shocks so well: it’s not something you think about normally but the world is growing more and more alarming with every passing day. Like my neighbours who voted Leave I find a lot of the past forty years a gradual betrayal of the best things I remember from my youth. I just blame the mess on different players.

Perhaps those who write dystopias have done too good a job for the world’s health? People take them as prophecies rather than warning and a lot of commentators on public affairs seem to expect things to fall to shit in the next week or so (unless we follow their advice, of course).

In my e-mail feed when I got back from the Sunday morning game was an e-mail from next year’s Eastercon committee. Perhaps I’ll propose a topic for a panel item. “Fear of the Future.” Hmmmmm.

Another Damn Thing

Apologies for not writing more frequently. I’ve been agonizing (as only someone with nothing dreadfully important to do can) over a thing I’m writing for a games convention at the weekend and dithering as only an aged gentleman can.

But I have to share with you more news of my incompetence.

I acquired a while back a walking stick. One of Boots’ finest products, a three part steel tube that can be folded away, with the intention of using it to compensate for The Pain In My Right Foot, a condition that seems to dominate my days at the moment.

I’ve had it for nigh on six months or more now (the stick not the pain: the pain is nearer fourteen months) and just today I discovered (from making a sarky remark about walking sticks not coming with instruction manuals) that I’d been using it wrong all this time.

According to this training video on the NHS website I’m supposed to be using it on the left side of my body, not the right. This strikes me as counterintuitive: I’m trying to get the weight off my right foot and using the stick to bear the weight on that side seemed the obvious way to do it. Seems not.

I tried doing it the other way today… Either it made no difference or made it slightly worse. Perhaps I haven’t got the knack of it yet… Or perhaps I’m a perverse old bugger and will just have to go back to the way I was doing it before.

I had been congratulating myself on noticing the walking stick and crutch users much more since I became one myself. But obviously, as Sherlock Holmes says to Dr Watson, I see but I do not observe. Or maybe most of them are doing it the wrong way too.

Still no sign of an appointment from the foot specialist yet. Grump.

Domestic rambling

I hate getting up early in the morning so I tend to be cranky when young women ring up and want to Make Appointments for me. These always seem to require an early start. I’m even curt with the people from my doctor’s surgery (“You want to drag me all the way up to Cressex? Can’t you book me into the surgery five minutes walk from my front door? It’s why I registered with you!”) and they are presumed to be trying to do me good. So the young lady who called up last week from the water company (I nearly wrote ‘the Water Board’ which is showing my age) got the full Grumpy Old Git treatment. I let myself be persuaded partly out of awareness that I was being needlessly disagreeable and partly because she was wanting to send someone round to check for leaks and ways of saving water. I found my hypochondria extended to water related matters and if I didn’t have the check done I’d worry.

A Nice Young Man came round this morning and asked me a lot of questions before fitting a device to my ball-cock that would retrofit the loo to do either a full flush or a short one just like more modern toilets. He took out the bag of water absorbing gel that was the last New Fashionable Gadget to try to reduce consumption. I wonder what will replace this one and whether I will be around to see it.

He also left me an hourglass/egg timer thing which was supposed to encourage me to take less time in the shower. (See picture.) I balked at this and told him loudly that I was Retired, Dammit! I wasn’t watching any sort of timing device any longer and certainly not a four minute one.

And then I asked him (we’re getting to the point of this story now: be patient) whether he ever got those recurring dreams in which he found himself back in school, having to do it all over again. I was leading up to my explaining that when I retired my recurring dreams shifted from going back to school to having to go back to work.

And to my astonishment he said no, he’d never had dreams like that! All his dreams were focused on the future not the past! I was that astonished. I nearly lost it entirely, the smug young bugger! How dare he go around being all positive and focused! A little angst and worry would do him good!

(Seriously, I’ve never encountered someone who didn’t get that dream before. Well apart from Hartley Patterson whose dreamscape is seriously weird and deserves an investigation by someone who is in need of a PhD topic.)

I’m up early again tomorrow too to go up to the surgery in the Cressex to have a twenty-four hour blood pressure monitor fitted. I hope that it will show that the daily gym sessions I’ve been doing for the past week are helping. They certainly aren’t having any effect on my weight yet but I’m feeling a lot less seedy than I did before taking up raising my heart rate under controlled circumstances every day.

I find that playing the Grenadier Guards Band’s version of Sousa marches works best to keep me going on the rowing machine and the exercise bike. THE THUNDERER, LIBERTY BELL and EL CAPITAN make you really want to push on up that simulated hill.

And I received today something I’d been looking forward to a lot: my copies of the print version of the web comic NARBONIC which I Kickstarted some considerable time ago. Already re-reading the stories of Mad Science and True Love is keeping me from doing things I really ought to be doing.