In December there were two aims, one to simply pass the time, and the other to check out this game everyone was talking about, World of Warcraft.
At first I joked with you here - made subheadings of WORLD OF WARCRAFT. Joked about the things people said, prophesied with my pen.
And then, for those who pay attention, there came descriptions of the real world being coloured through Warcraft eyes - the Regent Road cemetery gates post.
And then it got more than that. Then it started to seem so much more fun than the telly. Why go hillwalking in the cold and wind, when you can sit here in the warm.
Obama? Who cares? Big Brother? Who cares? Slam, bam, and try not to die too much. Losing weight by the simple process of not bothering to eat.
Sunday I spent the entire day playing warcraft. Oh, I attempted to do other things... spend a normal day sort of. But no. Got all togged up for the pub and then sat down. Sat down to my cotton wool new friend, Warcrack.
Cue yesterday the exact same thing. Six in the morning to three the next.
And now today, when I realised to my horror I'd became sexually aroused while playing.
That thing which never happens to old men, and which we don't discuss here. By a picture of a cartoon bull, and the words of the person behind it.
(This is a secret between you and me, by the way. No-one must know this, or they'll all be wanting to do it.)
IN OTHER, LESSER NEWS
Michelle is out of Celebrity Big Brother.
Obama is in to the White House. (Or maybe not - I really can't drag myself away from WoW long enough to find out.)
I've had various habits in the past, but never one this quick, this excluding of everything else. At least with Class A's you get the urge to clean the house.
LATE EXTRA, WEDNESDAY MORNING
I've got this gap, this wee lacuna in my Warplay, while Blizzard Entertainment, our dealer, downloads me a patch. Patches are improvements to the game which keep you hooked. You see, unlike boxed games, this one can never end.
Hardly surprisingly the interweb is awash with Warcraft horror stories... mostly broken relationships through neglect of family. One guy couldn't even leave the game to be with his wife in her labour. Youngsters getting panic attacks and being unable to stop... continuing to play in panic and terrified. I truly can't imagine how awful this must be.
Many WoW-ers are not very literate, but someone who is writes movingly here.
Writing might be a bit over these days, so YouTube fills the gap. There are loads of short movies about WoW addiction, most of them comedies by American college types "interviewing" their pals. But many true words lie behind the jests, I sense. "Killing Level 2's makes me feel like a man..." And, apropos of my own experience above, "Night Elves get me real hard..." One amusing documentary is here.
What on earth has been unleashed on the world? The sci-fi writers were not wrong.
My patch is 97 percent downloaded now, so it's back to Azeroth for an hour or so. Addiction? What addiction? I can stop whenever I want...
Interesting evening on the screens last night, where
(a) Channel Four stuck the knife into Paul Burrell
(b) Paul Burrell stuck the knife into Prince Charles
(c) Coolio stuck the knife into all the CBB women as usual, and
(d) Me, I stuck my very expensive two-hander axe with twin blades into the usual gang of monsters.
"Is this game (World of Warfare) as addictive as they say?" I asked on a chatting channel. (You can chat while you kill.)
"Yup" said one
"Hell yeah" said another, and
"Worse than that," said the third.
What have I unleashed on my already fragile personality? I'm now Level 22 which commands respect from those of lower levels, and derision from those much higher. This game is more class-conscious than Edinburgh, I swear it.
Sorry I haven't read any of your work at all. I do despair. And now it's work till Sunday.
This portion was started yesterday afternoon, Tuesday in the pub, but got interrupted.
Well, maybe that's a slight exaggeration, but she certainly changed this day.
Let me explain.
It's nine this morning and the forecast is good. Zero or minus one, lots of sun, and wind only 29 mph, as opposed to the 69, yes 69 mph on Sunday. Perfect for the hills, in other words. And normally that would be a no-brainer.
But not today. Not now Warcraft has entered my life. Today I was actually considering a day sitting at a computer, moving my fingers. Occasionally wrist. Occasionally eating. Because on my right shoulder an entity was whispering, "Pentlands, Pentlands, Pentlands. It's the best conditions for weeks, and you know you have to do it."
And on the other, sinister as they say in Latin, was a creature whispering, "You don't need conditions for Warcraft. It's always warm and cosy. You might even get to type to other humans."
Which one was winning in the mortal duel, where my very health was at stake? Well it was Warcraft. So much less effort. No hard breathing required. None. Until I saw Anne Diamond on the Breakfast sofa. "Wonder what she's banging on about," I mused. And it was a topic close to my heart, metaphorically and literally, the subject of FAT.
For ten minutes Anne railed on about fat. She's made a series, and written a book. She said we have made food into a God. (In my case you would probably substitute Tennents lager, but the end result is the same.) And then, crucially, she said how TOTALLY INACTIVE WE HAVE ALL BECOME.
And that was that. All thoughts of Warcraft aside, and off to catch the half past ten bus to Flotterstone. (By now it was too late for my customary nine-thirty.)
FITNESS IS A FICKLE FRIEND
You better believe it. Like an old man I puffed and peched my way up Turnhouse Hill, stopping five times. Five. Normally I stop zero times, or one on a bad day. People were behind me, hundreds of feet below, but I had still had to prepare myself emotionally for being overtaken.
Wow! What a great series title that would make, by the way. Overtaken. One word titles are all the rage, such as Lost, Survivors, and now Unforgiven. Survivors though. What was that all about? Oh dear me that's six hours of my life I'll never get back. Even though I could look at Max Beesley all day, preferably from underneath.
And that was the shortest hill day I can remember. Up Turnhouse. Down the other side. Couldn't face Carnethy, so retraced my steps back up to the summit of Turnhouse. Making two ascents, where normally there are nine. Fitness is a condition that demands constant work. But I WILL climb happily and swiftly again. WILL. For me the fun is not just doing a thing, but doing it better than others. Can't help it. Activities I'm not very good at, like heterosexuality, I just discard altogether. (Oh I dipped my toe in, believe me I did. Sixty-seven wasn't called the Summer of Love for nothing.)
This portion was written today, Wednesday.
It's almost too painful to watch. Too awful even for the tabloids, although I'm sure they're doing their best. Last night was taken up with the buck nigga upsetting the purdy white lady Michelle. (I have no idea what makes Michelle a celebrity, incidentally. She's not exactly Germaine Greer.) But he really is repellent, that Coolio. La Toya tried to do the homeboy thing with him, to get him to stop abusing her, but 'twas all in vain. Dreadful, but then so is Celebrity Big Brother these days. I was chatting with my manager last week, and we agreed the one with George Galloway, Rula Lenska, Pete Burns and Michael Barrymore had to be the best.
Alopecia stalks my scalp again! So far only at the crown, but it'll spread as surely as Flora. Mebbe do some video for you while I still look reasonable from the front.
I'm beat. If I knew the cause then I'd deal with it. But you just have to guess. So I reckoned one possible candidate was the Wireless N laptop card just inches from my head, hours on end stuck in front of Warcraft. Can't be good, all that packet data sizzling through yer bonce. ENHANCED RANGE AND SPEED! So yesterday I invested fifteen quid in an enormous ethernet cable to drape through the house instead. Inconvenient, but then so is being bald.
Oh I do despair. Getting my hair back was one of the happiest things of my life. But never mind. Worse things happen at sea. And thank you Anne Diamond.
Round about this time of year I have to pull myself together and realise I live in a world which contains people other than me. People who've been very kind and to whom I've not replied. People who will take so much, but not go on for ever. People like you.
Warcraft has delayed things a bit, but more of that later. Yesterday I took myself off to the Regent, keyboard in pocket, to reply to the seasonal texts. Yes, that's right. At the height of the turmoil it's not possible even to text. But my friends know that by now, and put up with it. Long suffering.
Yesterday texts, today it's the interweb, tomorrow the phone calls, still blinking a baleful green light at me, and then on Sunday I will timidly and haltingly meet the first real life person of the New Year, who is Sandra. I told her not to go buying any new outfits for the occasion.
Well, there I was, texting away yesterday, when who should reply to my reply but Stewart my walking companion. He's back from England for good, and was passing time in similar fashion to myself in Leith Wetherspoons at a pound a pint. As opposed to my three quid a pint in la Regent. But it keeps the riff-raff out. We agreed to meet for a New Year swallow in some bar in the Omni Centre which was freezing, but full of attractive young women, so Stew was in full voice to impress them. He's going to be on a TV show during the next Edinburgh Festival, and invited me to co-host with him. He said the camera loves me. I said neither of us know anything about Arts. But then I said well neither do ninety-five percent of the wallies you see on the telly anyway.
I think we should go for the Justin Lee Collins and Alan Carr model, just older. Well, either one of us is older than they twa put together. Did you know it was David Bowie's sixty-second yesterday? That's right. Just one week younger than yours truly, and almost as famous.
Also Stew was over the moon at getting a silver medal from some Leith church or other for services to the community. Mary the Landlady is getting a gold one, so I asked what colour mine was but apparently I'm not getting one. This despite all these years of blogging about the damn place. Next time I'll blog about somewhere else, thank you. I'll have you know people came all the way from New York to see the Port o' Leith Bar. Noo Yoik. Just after nine eleven when it was really famous.
Talking of the USA, last night I fell asleep with the telly on, and just now I'm getting flashbacks of Dubya getting punched as he walked along. Is this right, or merely an hallucination brought on by drink?
They say the good thing about blogging is its immediacy, yet this is almost last week. Surviving Gazza was a "fly on the wall" (strangely outmoded expression, as there's barely any telly which isn't FOTW these days) documentary about the family of Paul Gascoigne.
For my overseas readers, just a mention that Paul Gascoigne (Gazza) is a footballer who used to play for the England team, and became a media darling. However, the fame didn't land on strong enough shoulders, and he also succumbed to the demon drink and related substances. His downfall still sells cheap newspapers to common people, so the press continue to hound him round the world from booze den to rehab to the next booze den and so on. There really should be something done about those people.
Of his family we knew nothing, except for the reports of violence to his (now ex) wife Sheryl. In fact, we tended not to even imagine a family of real people behind the enormity of the tragi-comic mess. We knew nothing of his two step-children, now in their late teens, and his own son, aged about twelve I'm guessing. (He's got his father's eyes.)
But now we do. And what a surprising group - middle class, educated and articulate. All the things, in fact, that Geordie boy Gazza is not. And therein might well lie the rub. That's what can happen when women like Sheryl marry a bit of rough.
At the beginning I hated this film, due partly to the sheer inappropriateness of making it at all, and then to the crass and amateurish questioning of vulnerable young people. But as the hour wore on, and the questioning ceased and gave way to just watching, then it took wings and flew. I thoroughly recommend you watch this, almost certainly the best real life TV I've seen.
CELEBRITY BIG BROTHER
Yawn, yawn. They're praying each night that one of the white girls will use the N word about Coolio. Praying. Bet they'll bring back Jade.
WORLD OF WARCRAFT
The solution is becoming the problem. This pastime is shoving out of the nest, cuckoo-like, all my other activities. OK they weren't that much, but had settled lately on a nice blend of hill-walking, sudoku and blogging. Interspersed with real life contact at work and in the pub du jour. All very well, and a nice business model for the third age.
But not now, Jose! Now I'm Seafield the Undead Warrior, I'll have you know. Level 18. Look on my weapon ye mighty and despair! People invite me into their groups to look after them, kill for them. A rather different life-model than I'm accustomed to. The words butch as fuck come into mind. Oh, I could have been a priest or a mage... intellectual... but no - I chose the gangsta life instead. I wonder if you get a moll in higher levels? Interesting. Very Grand Theft Auto.
Oh, and nearly forgot. You'll laugh at this. Mebbe not a lot. Yesterday I was walking along Regent Road admiring the sun over the Crags and Arthur's Seat. Regent Road is something of a gay trolling area at night, due to the high number of cemeteries (what is it about gay men and cemeteries), but this was the middle of the afternoon, goddamit.
When what should I see, afternoon or not, but a number of shifty-looking geezers hanging about cemetery gates. And what did I think? Did I think... sad queens looking for a bit of freezing how's yer father? No, I thought... just like World of Warcraft! And then, later on in the Omni Centre pub, I noticed the handsome young barman's arms were covered in warrior bling, and warlike tattoos were on his arms. "Warcraft?" I almost asked, but didnae. That time.
GOOD HOUSEKEEPING GUIDE
"Lidl is so over," Stewart said, when we left the Omni Centre. "Their bread has gone up thirty percent, everything's dear, and their bargains aren't bargains any more. I blame the falling pound against the Euro."
On matters fiscal I have little knowledge, or interest beyond the obvious. So I demurred. We went instead to a shop in the St James Centre called Poundland. Everything's a pound. You can get eight AA batteries for a pound. A microphone and van-driver earpiece for a pound. Ten food containers (with lids) for a pound. Four handwash gels for outdoor pooing for a pound - and so on. I filled up an entire basket of stuff and it was only nine pounds. So I recommend Poundland, although make sure your phone, purse and wallet are well zipped up and out of sight.
That's it for today, folks! Thanks for all your comments, which I don't always get to on the day due to matters explained above. But still much loved.
Coming soon: recently-discovered footage of me in the Pentlands, filmed by Stewart a couple of years ago. A must for all my fans.
Yesterday was glorious, quite wonderful, because it had no work and wasn't in December. A day, in short, just for "me-time". Nice me-time, as opposed to the alternative. Thanks to whomever phoned in the afternoon, but I can't pick up quite yet. Even listening to messages would still be too intrusive. But it will come. It's all good. And I did a washing and even washed up.
Around three got ready to go to the pub as I'm trained to do, but then demurred. Thought of the calories! (Booze plus subsequent munchies.) Plumped for an evening in front of screens instead. Friends, ever dependable, although of late I've even been known to switch certain episodes off, feeling I just can't bear the seventh or so repetition. And then it elided seamlessly into...
CELEBRITY BIG BROTHER
Oh yes. Promised myself not to, but you just can't help it, can you? How else would you find out what Tommy Sheridan's really like? Or why La Toya Jackson has had her face made into a doll? And what really did happen to her nostrils? And just how nasty the fat chain-smoking one is going to be, once she stops trying to act nice.
Interesting set of "must-have's" they're developing. There's the Scottish mad politico, previously Galloway, now Sheridan. The pretty boy, this time an utter nonentity. The black American stud, and some totty for him to erect over as the chastity grinds on. (No offense to my US readers, but do we really always have to have your cast-offs on our show? Do we not have enough car-crash sleblife of our own?)
And of course all washed up. The washed-up weather girl, whose book ruined an innocent man. (More of that later when I do a modicum of research into the ins and outs.) The washed up Terry Christian with his Embassy voice wishing he was Simon Amstell again. Embassy voice here means cigarettes. So much smoking going on. I hate seeing people smoke, so pathetic, but as in all soaps you need as many discrete areas as possible. Because the gossip is all. There never will be any shagging really. Not with slebs, even z-listers like these.
Still to come: why La Toya said her brother probably did abuse those kids. How Tommy Sheridan managed to defeat the Murdoch empire. (For now. Oh they haven't finished with him yet.) What it's like shagging Sven Goran Erikson (Sp.) And so on. This could run and run.
WORLD OF WARCRAFT
Level 14 now. Yesterday I saw a level 60 player and it was awesome. Stood right beside him as streamers of electricity shimmered and shot from his staff. From his horse's legs. He raised his hands to the heavens and I swear God Himself came down from the skies in a pyrotechnic display. There was only one thing to say and I said it. "Impressive, dude, but what do you do for an encore?"
What he did for an encore was to help me with a dangerous quest in Agamand Family Crypt. Quests are tasks, usually involving fighting, to help you progress through the levels and populate the virtual world. They are a hook, much as the CBB people get tasks every day. And I climb hills. And you do whatever you do.
Warcraft is getting "social" in that cyber way some of you will know from Internet Relay Chat, but always there's Johnny Vegas and Beauty's Castle in the background. "We were on a virtual picnic. She said she liked my sandwiches." One of the funniest, yet vicious, lines I've ever heard. But social yes. I'm in a guild. Training in the profession of alchemy. Got an admirer. (You should see the size of my weapon.)
Hours are spent with people I'll definitely never meet, yet I'm unable to speak on the phone to my closest friends. Blogs come somewhere in between, but I've not been one of the greatest blog-socialisers, I must say. I think in Scotland we've abandoned blogmeets completely. Getting pointless. Might as well have biro pen meets.
Today is a toss-up between the Pentlands which will be bright but minus six and thus treacherous, or more Warcraft which will be unhealthy in other ways. I think the hills have it. Back on that rollercoaster. Cya.
So the ghost train pulls in to the station, and gingerly and unsteadily I step out of the car. The car which has been my home for the last couple of weeks or so, but which will now stand idle for another eleven months. Darling zoe has her rhythms; I have mine. December, especially the second fortnight, proved every bit the white-knuckle I feared, and yet also in a strange way embrace. Excitement. And without the darkness, how would we know there was light? (That's probably an unoriginal cliche, but does this look like a face that cares?)
This morning the sky is lovely blue, with wisps of red now turned white. It will be a cracker. Sadly I'm constrained to the microphone for a day, but then there will be three glory days of reality. Already there's half an hour added on to the daylight. (Lidl weather station. You really must get one. I see they're advertising a reducing bra in this week's catalogue, should you require a reducing bra. I'm just saying.)
I've thanked everyone so much it's become a bore. But I haven't yet mentioned the staff and customers at the Regent Bar, which was this year's bolthole. Your company meant more than you will ever realise. Especials to Dave the Writer. It really is glorious to be drinking there again, and so handy for nipping up Arthur's Seat, to clear your conscience. You can go up before, during, or after your bevvy. Every pub should have a mountain beside it.
Oh, and talking of drinking, there's been too much of it. And drinking leads to eating, and there's been too much of that as well. Put on half a stone in two weeks. (Seven or eight pounds.) Fruit just seems so unappealing when you're pissed. Bring on the cottage pie! Two of them! Ah well. You got to laugh.
WORLD OF WARCRAFT
Level 13 now, and starting to work with teams for the harder quests. Yesterday there was me, another warrior, and a priest killing monsters at Agamand Mills. The priests don't kill much, but they put spells on. And they can resurrect you, which saves time. I'm starting a Friends list. This could run and run.
But the main attraction remains as ever my beloved hills. Need to do more of them, and less lifting of pints. But it will come to pass. Time to step off the ghost train and get back on the roller coaster.