(Or, as I prefer to think of it, twenty one for the third time.)
And it's snowing. And life is good. The next big adventure will be dying, but of course we don't want that for ages yet. Or at least, not until the correct time.
Sitting waiting for the man from Comet bringing my new microwave. Not as agitated as usual when someone has to visit my home, as only last month a man also from Comet came with a new washing machine. My appliances are ganging up on me. Funny the one thing I would like to break, the telly, so I can get a nice HD one with a clear conscience, shows no sign whatever of fading. I even dusted the screen last week and now I can see Friends in vivid colour.
The last washer lasted fifteen years. I looked at the shiny new one, and wondered if it too would last that long. And then, for the first time, the thought occurred that I might not be around in fifteen years myself. That's right - the washer might outlast me! I joked about this with my bingo ladies, and got the clear impression they too have these thoughts. Mortality, eh? What is it like!
But, to paraphrase Mae West slightly, it's not the years of your life, it's the life in your years.
Sweet and Sour
One of my bingo ladies very kindly gave me a large bottle of honey and cider vinegar for my Christmas present. Normally they very kindly give me socks or chocolate, so this is a new venture. I'll let you know. My dad swore by cider vinegar, and he lived to eighty something. Unfortunately he also swore by about seventeen other quack remedies, so it would be difficult to separate out their effects, if indeed any.
A Brief Decade
Seems like only ten years ago I was lying on the couch in the depths of abject depression hearing the millennium fireworks going off above Edinburgh Castle. I didn't want to continue living in those days, but peskily kept waking up each morning for more torment. "Well, you might as well take a look, as this only happens every thousand years," I thought. And did take a look. And then back to bed with the covers over my head. Guess I must have been fifty three.
Since then there's been Naked Blog, hill-walking and now World of Warcraft. Life is good indeed. I have been in the Guardian, on the radio local and national, and even won a bingo calling competition.
Thank you for all your comments and love in other ways. I know I've only met a minute fraction of the people who come here, but that's how life works in this new connected world. Not virtual though, very real. Typing may be less than talking, but it sure as heck beats silence.
May the teens bring you all the noughties did and more.
What do you call these damn decades, btw? From the last century there's really been only the "roaring twenties" and the "swinging sixties" which have survived. But make no mistake: I have every intention of seeing out the teens and getting right into the twenties and beyond!
Thank you. You did make a difference.
(And now I have to go before I get all maudlin. And it's not even noon! And in the middle of blogging the man brought the combination oven, but it was just a doorstep drop, so I didn't get to show him the clean bit where it goes.) And on that unintentional but delightful double entendre I'll bow out the Naked Noughties!
Heartache, when it comes, strikes hard in Warcraft. Not at all what you would expect to hear about a computer game, and certainly never said here about Doom or Prince of Persia or Quake 3 Arena. But Warcraft is much more than a game: it is a community.
A large community, granted, but the eleven million lost souls are divided and subdivided ending eventually in family-sized groups called guilds, each with their own bank, professions, specialities and styles.
The game provides the software to create and maintain the guilds, and then takes no interest whatever beyond that. (Apart from obvious checks on the legality of the conversations, which we all have to consent to.) And every guild has a Guild Master, or GM, and since about March this guild has had me. And it hurts to hell when someone leaves, especially, as yesterday, someone stretching back almost to the beginning.
Very, very sad night for me, then. Considered leaving the game for a while... just walking away. Some people manage to do that. But then that would mean handing over the reins of my guild, which would be a bit like giving away a baby. I made it. It's a lovely community. But it just doesn't have the high end gameplay they sometimes come to demand. More chatty than shooty, you might say. Bit like this, but always on.
The Day of the Triffids was on yesterday, episode one of two, finishing tonight. I watch so little television (Friends excepted) these days, that anything I do see becomes quite an event. And it was a bit like the curate's egg... good in parts. The good parts were the scenery and Eddie Izzard, and the bad parts Dougray Scott and Joely Richardson, both of them trying to outdo each other with "I'm so bored with this script" attitudes. Scott has lost so much of the top from his voice, due no doubt to consumptions of tobacco etc., that it's often hard to make out what he's saying. So a flawed work then, but for those coming new to it probably not three bad.
And now I must go back to my guild and pray no-one's left today. Haven't been on all day due to horror. And this afternoon my microwave broke, just one minute into Chicken Tikka Masala. A frantic check on the Comet website got me a new one for Thursday. With fan-assisted oven included for those pesky "Oven Bake Only" creations. I depend on a microwave to live, you know. Have had to buy in Pot Noodles and other kettle meals. Oh and I ordered an iPhone. Thanks for all your inputs. Now I can be lonely on a much higher plane.
It's off to work for me today, say hello to my bingo ladies, and hear about their Merry Christmases.
Channel Five were doing Gadget Of The Decade in various categories. iPhone won Best Phone and iPod best Music Gadget. Then iPhone went on to win Best Overall Gadget. (These were based on viewer votes, and iPhoners do tend to get a bit evangelical.) But still, impressive results.
Back to work as I say.
Now - while you're eagerly awaiting my return, you can entertain yourself with 2009 Naked Blog archives, only now published on the sidebar, in a strictly limited edition. A quick glance at January seems to show my horror at the developing Warcraft addiction, a topic I'm sure you're quite sick of, but there it is for your delectation once again.
Three or four of the months currently show "Page cannot be found". This is due to complete lack of blog for that month, but I'll correct that shortly with a personalised single entry for you.
Enjoy the Sales! Remember VAT goes up on January 1 I think, so get your large purchases in this week. I'm thinking HD telly.
Darling Zoe found the Christmas excitement a bit too much this morning, and was sick on the carpet. Just a little bit, and I mopped it up with tissue.
The City of Edinburgh Council might have unlimited funds for trams and property developers, but the matter of salting and gritting the pavements is apparently not on the menu. Thus at a stroke, everyone over sixty is trapped in their homes, unwilling to risk a fracture by going out. Shameful.
On Tuesday I skated up the pavements of Easter Road to the Regent, and on the way back fell on my derriere on the steps at the very top. A kind young man extended a hand of help. Then barely a minute later, I heard the crash of the next victim. We got to chatting. He said the entire Leith Walk was untreated.
In these small ways do our leaders damage our lives.
Jonathan Freedland writes an interesting piece about loneliness on Christmas Day. It's essentially what I've been banging on about here every year for the last decade, except that now it no longer bothers me. It's a day. Get over it. Beginning, middle, end. Then gone till the next time. It can no longer hurt me. I have seen through the ruse.
TV station E4 offered some practical psychology last night by showing four solid hours of Friends. The nation's prozac. Still lovely, after all this time, although I have to admit I can recite most of the gags backwards by now. So I played Warcraft in the background. Or the other way round.
Hi Ho! It's back to work tomorrow, after my December break. But just for one day, and then off for three. It's a hard life, but somebody's got to do it.
Sunset is a whole minute later than before, at 3.41 rather than 3.40, according to my Lidl Home Weather Station. So you see the nights are already getting lighter.
Have yourself a very merry Christmas. Lots of snow here, as I say, just it's too dangerous to go out in it. Me I'll be playing Warcraft all day with the other sad loners. (And if you think I believe that for one minute...!)
And here we are again, post solstice apocalypse, the apocalypse I never even noticed!
Sitting in the Regent this afternoon, spending money for a change, but heck I've got so much these days, since Warcraft. Thinking of an iPhone. Thinking of a netbook, so I can write to you from the Regent, which I'm hardly ever in, but then you never know when the urge might strike.
It's been lovely seeing you popping into the comments over this last almost fortnight. A very great joy. Ten years is not a moment.
Sitting in the Regent with the laptop, looking like a saddo laptop person but older, much older.
Murdo was here. He gave me some of his garlic bread with cheese. Kindly. Then I ordered nachos with beef. I think Murdo thought I was showing off, but no.
Is blogging over? Has it had its day?
We had a ball in the early days, us small bloggers and and the as-yet-unformed search engines. So high, on so many searches. But now it's all corporate. And we didn't think of ourselves as small bloggers. Editors of prestigious newspapers read our pages and left kind comments. Like Emily Bell.
I bought a new washing machinelast month. Bosch. The trusty old Hoover model eventually gave up the ghost. Toasted the Bosch with a glass of white wine. Semillon Chardonnay. Strange new world, drinking Australian wine, watching Chinese clothes going round in a German washer. And it was November 12 as well.
And now we feel an iPhone coming on. Not that there's the slightest thing wrong with the Nokia N95. Just that iPhone has so many apps. iPlayer. Guardian. WoW Armory. So many things brought out just for that platform, even if the phone is a bit crepe.
And netbooks! What is it about connectivity? But I have to say I do "do" connected. The Nokia phone rarely goes a day without a good old browse.
Men With Funny-Shaped Balls
Massive, and I mean it enormous big-ups to Welsh Rugby player Gareth Thomas for declaring his homosexuality. Seeing him this morning on BBC Breakfast almost brought a tear to my Crispian eye. So far we've come. A major, major step, following nicely and timeously from St Stephen and St Peter. (No, not me, silly. That other Peter, the Lord.)
Well, almost there now. It's very strange, doing this countdown again as I've done for at least a decade, and feeling nothing. Nada. In 2009 I really don't care about the winter Solstice. It means nothing, less than nothing. Purely academic. Bizarre. But wouldn't it be such a dry, arid life if we never changed, never grew?
Real life is elsewhere, hiding behind the plastic of this computer screen. Behind this plastic computer screen is a game to be played, challenges to be met, a game that never ends. And of course people. Not that you are not people, not that, far from that, just that the WoW people are there more. Much more. We have a shared hobby, problem, hobby problem whatever. So new. There is no medicine, even if we wanted some, which we don't.
Today I went outside for a short while, just the second time in over a week. Had to get cat litter and coffee. Most other things can be procrastinated, but not coffee and cat litter.
Hi there. How's it hanging? How's your bum for lovebites?
Nearly went out today, but there was a short blizzard.
Have to go out tomorrow for cat litter.
Courtney Cox came on Scrubs, so I turned the sound up. It wasn't too bad, but TV as a medium is just so over. Except Friends, of course. Why watch, when you can do? I said the same on Comment is Free about golf. In reference to Tiger Woods. Just hitting a ball into a hole with a stick, I said. All right to do, in an infantile sort of way, but paying someone else to do it for you is moronic. Regular readers will already be aware of my disdain for batting a ball over a net, or kicking a bigger one into a bigger net.
Tiger Woods was voted athlete of the decade. If you can tell me wtf is athletic about golf, I will eat my golf cart. Now adulterer of the decade... that would be more interesting. Athletic.
Someone wiser than me (in this one sentence at least) said a man is as faithful as his options allow. I take that further and say that a woman who marries a man with enormous options cannot get upset when he plays away. Exercises his options. Take the money and move on. Like Heather McCartney.
We've had three relationship breakdowns in the guild in the last month - two straight and one gay. Married women becoming single mums. And they say it's only a computer game. There's a video in yesterday's piece (which I actually wrote five minutes ago) about Warcraft addiction. It's very good, except the boy's mother terribly overreacts.
Lovely to see Brett and mike in the comments. And all of you. Thank you so much. Still a vacancy.
Hiya! Another quiet day, mostly Warcraft and Friends. WoW came second in the Guardian best 50 games of the decade. Two other favourites were highly ranked also, Vice City and San Andreas. (Both of them written just across the park from me. Just as Trainspotting refers to the end of my street.) We scoop the pool in undesirables I guess. Rockstar North were on (meaning alongside) Leith Links, but have flitted up the Walk to that glass effort close to the Omni Centre. Ninety-nine point nine percent of people think the GTA games are American. I pity the fools. WoW is definitely American though. There are interviews with its creators, every single one white, male and 30 to 35. Wearing jeans. Bizarre.
This afternoon I started to get ready to go out a bit, Regent mebbe, but the sky was thick and grey and eveningish, even at half past one. So I decided wtf. Always plenty to do on warcraft. Plenty of people to type to.
Looked at iPhones on the net, and saw there's a Nokia 900 phone come out, which is so advanced they don't even call it a phone.
So many phones, so little time. Of course I could save 500 quid and stick with the N95. Retail therapy is fierce but brief. That's why you should always spend your money on things that actually "do" something.
You can read about the popular games here. The descriptions are lovely. Tomorrow they tell you the winner, but the comments seem to be pointing to Half Life 2.
Over all games of all time though, I still think DOOM has the edge. Plus it was a pivotal time of my life. My phone went ding ding with a text today, the first sound for over a week. It was a message from Vodafone saying VAT returns to 17.5 percent next month. How kind of them to think of me.
Left the house today, for the first time since Saturday. Strange always, seeing so many people out and about and unlike work not having to talk to them. Work was the reason I stepped out... it's the Christmas "do" this evening, and I don't feel well enough to go. Been having intermittent stomach ache recently, crippling, and had an attack last night bad enough to keep me awake till four. But I had to get a gift for my Secret Santa recipient, so he wasn't sat there with nothing. (Big hearted. That's me. It's just the kind of guy I am.)
To be honest, I've missed the last several Staff Parties. Just so old. It's twenty years from me to the next oldest colleague, and forty to most of the staff. There used to be loads more of my generation, but all have left.
Just a short post today.
Hope you are all well and loving life. Or a least coping.
Bit by bit my blogfriends are turning up! So nice. Hi all. Missed you and think about you lots.
Lusting after an iPhone intermittently, especially since the Guardian app arrived on Sunday I think it was. You can already browse the Online Guardian very well on your mobile using m.guardian.co.uk, but this seems to take it to new limits.
I don't think the iPhone is nearly as good as the Nokia N95, but it does have a touch screen and apps to die for. The Nokia Ovi app store is rubbish. Amazingly rubbish.
It's Monday evening now, and I'm still on my couch. Scrubs is on the telly, as it too sometimes comes on after Friends. And as with Ugly Betty and One Tree Hill, I've never ever heard one word of it. Because silence is so precious. There's so little silence these days. When I was young I loved music. Studied the violin up to Grade Seven... even got a Merit in the exam! I loved violin music when I was young, but now I'd take silence any day. Or the whistle of the Pentland wind in my ageing ears.
Tomorrow it's the works Christmas "do". There's a meal in a Leith restaurant, and then the young ones vanish up town to the "clubs" or whatever those grotesque, deafening horrors are. Hopefully my portion will be over quickly, cleanly and quietly. There's to be a secret santa scenario. You have to spend ten pounds, but I can afford it. But just what do you give a 21 year old man? Secretly?
And now back to the flock. The guild that I run. We've had three relationship break-ups in the last month, and I'm not meaning crushes or flings... we're talking about married couples with children. So sad. All of human life is there. And they say it's just a computer game.
Seven days to the Solstice. You are now in the darkest fortnight of your life. Thank you all for your comment love, but especially Danny.
It's Sunday evening, and Ugly Betty is on the telly. Ugly Betty comes on after Friends, which is still compulsory viewing, even after all these years. Even though I now know the punchline to just about every gag. Frazier, Will and Grace, South Park are all very good in their different ways, but Friends quite simply ftw. (A slightly rude abbreviation used online. The t and w part mean "the world". The f part would often be said by *ssholes like Gordon Ramsay or Billy Connolly.)
Friends ftw. And my viewing has contracted to just one show, in this brave new Warcraft world. Oh, very occasionally I'll have something on in the background while I play, such as Andrew Marr this morning, where I noticed Ed Balls looking wild and disoriented after a presumably intoxicated Saturday night. And Nicole Kidman trying to appear interesting, whilst giving absolutely nothing of her actual self. Shoes to die for. If I were a woman. Which I'm not. And the one time I wore "heels" I nearly broke my toes. And learned that afternoon what women are prepared to suffer for fashion. But they looked great on Ms Kidman, and she was sitting down.
The characters on Ugly Betty look like human cartoons, with makeup so thick you see little sign of facial movement. Weird.
Holiday started today, thirteen days of December nothingness, in which I can go out or stay in at my whim. Depression should be minimal, as when your attention is almost exclusively on a computer screen it doesn't really matter what outside is doing. Booze is a thing of the past, and for the first time in over sixty years I have money in the bank. Yes, it took that long. First I stopped giving it to tobacconists, and now to publicans. It's an exquisite pleasure to have the fruits of my labours in my wallet, rather than them clutching for the surface in a sea of minuses.
After Ugly Betty comes One Tree Hill. It too has loads of big close-ups, as I think they're called in the trade. It too I have on without sound, so I can make up my own story when I glance at it. There's a dude with perma-stubble and pale blue psycho eyes.
The always readable Charlie Brooker writes about computer games here. (Don't worry, WoW isn't in it! You won't get hooked!)
And now it's time to return to my flock. I play a priest character these days. The ways of the warrior were not appealing in the end. As a priest I heal in battles. And I can resurrect the dead. While in real life I get to call the bingo. No contest, if you think about it.
The archetypical December high pressure is here, bringing weather charts of wall-to-wall sunshine. It should be a wondrous thing. Nature's anti-depressant. But here in Sunny Leith at least, the only thing wall-to-wall is fog. Thick fog. Lentil-souper. However it is the job of the hill-walker to rise above that, quite literally.
Hill walking is the second of my big Warcraft losses, the first being almost all of my friends. Stewart my walking companion has been very loyal, getting in touch without demanding reciprocity, and organising jaunts of every decreasing demand, as active glides inexorably into sedentary. (It's a glory to write the way I love to, rather than the self-elected dumbing down of internet chatspeak!)
Yes, this once-fine body I'd built up is turning into a crock of poo! Eighteen hours a day sat rigid at a computer is bad news in anyone's language, and for one of 62 it's a disaster! I'm acutely aware of that, and fight hard against the demands of the addiction to still get some hills in. Thank you, Stewart.
People are a different kettle of fish, and come in two flavours.
First are the ones you know, and sometimes love, sometimes not, in what's come to be called meatspace. I never was richly blessed in that area, as I'm sure you have long detected. Which is where the internet comes in. People crippled by shyness in real life often find themselves much less restrained, more able to open up, with the facilities the internet affords. Chatrooms gave way to blogs gave way to Facebook, ending for the moment on Twitter. Media within a medium.
And the entire purpose of all of the above is human contact.
Just as the telephone removed the need for proximity in conversation, so the internet removes the need even for speech, and turns it into typing. So people can communicate, after a fashion, without being either seen or heard. For the shy, the awkward, the social misfit, this is heaven indeed in a broadband.
Where is this philosophy leading? Well, it's leading right to you!
The making of blogs was the comment box. Before that all was gaslight. Perhaps once every two months someone would send a kind email, but other than that nada. Then comments came and rocked the world. Suddenly, the intellectual austerity of writing became a flesh and blood community. Well, almost flesh and blood. Well, it depended, once again, on your real life personality. The outgoing got together in blogmeets, while the shy, like this author, seethed at home realising the party was still in the next street after all. That Cinderella was stuck to the fireside, while the sisters, ugly or not, were bigging it up at the blogball.
And that's enough psychology lecture for today! Human relations? I could write a book about them! I was saying to Chav Gav in a text last week that one of my fantasies is that some day I'll tire of Warcraft and make a second debut, and that everyone who used to like me still will.
Another, related thought was that some day I'll write a blog post and people who used to comment still will. And you have. Thank you for that, so much.
And now I must tend to my Warcraft flock for half an hour before work. Last day of work before almost a fortnight off. Right through some of the tricky days, starting back on Boxing Day. I sense you might get more of me than you bargained for!
Let's hope the ridge of high pressure lasts. Thanks for your comments, they are like diamonds. Some people have still to show their hands. Darling zoe says miaow.
Coming soon: computer universes, the future of the species?
Hi there! Been a while, as they say. Just spent an hour trying to get this Blogger account up and running again. This is the measure of my love for you.
During the lay-off I started another blog connected to World of Warcraft, started it under another alias, and that's what caused the problemo. However, fingers crossed you'll get to read this in a trice. And I'll do my very very to write to you daily for a while at least. Catch up on all the gossip! (Not that there's been very much!)
In real life, anyway. But these days my life is spent more and more in a machine-mediated shared fantasy, aka Massively Multiplayer Online Role-Playing Game, aka MMORPG, aka the one and only World of Warcraft.
Currently being advertised, as you might have seen by Mr T. Last December it was the near identical ad with Ozzy Osbourne. Maybe Alan Carr next time, although ah hae ma doots, as we say here in Bonnie Scotland, home of the world famous Susan Boyle, but no longer of Abdul-Baset al'Magrahi or however you spell him.
So much has gone unblogged! How on earth has the world kept turning? And what is the future of the small blogger, now we've been so successfully subsumed by the big boys? Just the other day some tin-pot Guardian moderator deleted one of my comments. Deleted! Moi!
Felt like writing in and saying, "Do you know who I am? Emily Bell your editor has written in my comment box! And Anna Pickard! And Jon Ronson!" Oh yes. There's no room left for the private citizen. Or is there?
Much more on this and other topics over the next few days. In the meantime... thanks for linking me if you have, and if you've dropped NB, then you'll just have to pick us up again.
Even if we did get overtaken, we deffo were there before them!