Monthly Archives: October 2010

Weekend Update

As I speculated in last night’s blog entry (the shortest one ever, fact fans), I woke up this morning without a hangover, due to the fact that I stopped drinking at a reasonable hour and then stuck to the lemonade. It was an astonishingly mature decision for me – I’m notorious for drinking way too quickly and my level of pissedness consequently increasing even when I’ve decided to stop – and it meant that my ritual taking of paracetamol this morning was more for completion’s sake than anything else. Thanks go to my wife’s friend Lucy for inviting us. (And when I say “us”, I do actually mean plural, as in my wife and I. Not the Cheryl Cole form of “us”, which the Geordie chart-topper uses to mean just her, in the singular. [/pedant])

Unfortunately, due to being away in Shrewsbury I’ve had very little time to put into Rock Band 3, which arrived on Friday, but I’m very much looking forward to getting properly acquainted with the accompanying Keytar and learning how to play it. My initial attempt very much resembled the first time I picked up the plastic guitar in the very first Guitar Hero – I was utter rubbish but instantly wanted to play it for hours. Rather awesomely the Keytar doubles as a real MIDI keyboard, so by buying a certain peripheral to allow it to plug into my iPhone, I’ll be able to use it with NanoStudio. It’s nice of Harmonix to decide to make it a proper instrument.

Rock Band 3 has new “Pro” modes which involve learning how to play real instruments, and Fender is making an electric guitar with special sensors in all the frets that enables compatibility with the game while also working as a proper guitar outside it. This means that players will be able to learn all the in-game songs (and forthcoming downloadable content) through the game to the level where they’re playing them properly with all the notes, on a guitar that is also a real guitar – it’s the ultimate evolution of the Rock Band concept.

The Fender Squire, though – the instrument in question – isn’t out until sometime next year. That’s going to be an amusing conversation with my wife… Oh shit, she reads this blog. I’m whistling innocently right now. Got to dash. Bye!

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Sobriety Test

I’m writing this entry on my iPhone as I have no access to a computer and it’s rather late. I’m in Shrewsbury, I’ve been to a friend’s party, and for one of the very few times in history I actually stopped drinking after I reached the wall. I quit the lager and attacked the… er… lemonade. So now I’m going to bed, sober as hell, knowing that there will be no hangover in the morning.

I feel almost grown up.

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This weekend is party weekend. I’ve already been to a leaving do this evening and a friend’s party, and tomorrow I’ll be driving three hours to Shrewsbury for the birthday of one of my wife’s friends. Going out two nights in a row is a bit scary for a thirty-two year. The hangovers are worse, for starters. A bit more sleep is required, which means there’s very real danger of a short temper and the patience fuse running out quickly, resulting in a supreme explosion.

I guess the smart move is to get as much sleep as possible in the interim. With that in mind, off I go to bed. Tomorrow night I’ll be sleeping on a strange bed in an unknown house, so I’d better achieve as much shut-eye as possible right now. While I’m knackered at the moment, I’m very much looking forward to this weekend. I’m anticipating pretty awesome hospitality, so I’ll let you know how it goes.

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Next week is definitely The Week Of Pain (TM). Aside from going to see the dentist on Wednesday, I’m now going to see the doctor on Thursday to receive jabs a plenty for my holiday: Hepatitis A, Tetanus, and one I can’t remember. The last time I had an injection was about eighteen years ago, so I have no idea whether I’m going to be nervous or absolutely fine. Hopefully the latter.

You may recall the problems I had in getting the answer as to whether I needed any injections at all. Thankfully my lovely wife Jo unleashed the smackdown on the phone to my doctor’s surgery after her own practice nurse rang to confirm what she’d need to have done, as it became very clear that I couldn’t just wing it without it being a risk.

Following a long conversation, during which she laid out the sheer ridiculousness of the receptionist claiming they couldn’t do anything because they have no childhood vaccination notes for me and their travel nurse is on holiday (“So when the nurse is on holiday, do you just expect everyone to go private?”), the receptionist eventually agreed to speak to the doctor on my behalf. Lo and behold, this morning she rang back to say that I should come in and have exactly the same jabs as my wife. Patient power!

Jo could probably persuade Bobby Charlton to move to Man City.

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I’m still alive, then. If the long walk from my car to the dental practice was scary, the seemingly endless time spent in the waiting room was worse. My dentist was running ten minutes behind with her appointments, and even though I really didn’t want my name to ever be called, I also didn’t want to keep getting more and more nervous with every passing second. I barely slept a wink last night.

As it turned out, the appointment wasn’t too full of pokey implements. Thank heaven for small mercies. I quickly let it be known (ie. I blathered incoherently) that I was a nervous patient, and specified exactly why I was there (as I explained in yesterday’s blog, an old filling had partially fallen out). After a quick root around my mouth, the dentist took two X-Rays and I sat in the chair waiting for the results. There was a nasty moment where the dental assistant came in and said, “The picture’s totally black!” Oh no! My teeth must all be falling out! But luckily the machine had just cocked up (it had happened a couple of times recently, apparently) and so all the dentist had to do was take another X-Ray.

The results revealed that I did indeed need the offending tooth refilled, but the rest of my mouth was fine. Huzzah! I have a stay of execution until next Wednesday morning, when I have to go in for half an hour for the dentist to cause me pain. To say I’m not looking forward to it is an understatement, but at least I get to have one final nice weekend before I die. I had to pay for next week’s treatment before I left, though. As my wife speculated in the car on the way back, it’s probably because I’m a flight risk.

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This blog entry is brought to you in association with Scaredycats…

Tomorrow morning I’m going to the dentist. I’m more frightened of these drilling ogres than Wayne Rooney is of the Sunday papers. I haven’t been to one for five years. I think I inherited this blind terror from my mother. I’d rather go to a ten hour Mick Hucknall concert than sit in a chair while having the insides of my mouth poked with pokey things.

So why now? Well, unfortunately an old filling that I had when I was a child has partly fallen out. I was chewing some gum (that’s Wrigley’s as opposed to my actual gums – Jesus, that would have prompted an earlier visit) when the minty goodness suddenly changed to a more… how do I describe it?… crunchy taste. Oh dear.

Even this wouldn’t usually prompt me to dare to visit a dentist until extreme pain set in (it hasn’t yet, thank God, it’s just mildly uncomfortable), but given that I’m going on holiday in just under two and a half weeks, I’m paranoid about my mouth suddenly deciding it wants to be on fire in Grenada. Given the choice, I’d rather trust myself to an NHS dentist than the healthcare system of a Caribbean island. Their pain merchants may be 100% fine, above board and brilliant, I don’t know – I’d just rather not take the chance.

So off I go to certain death. Goodbye, cruel world. If there’s no blog entry tomorrow, you’ll know that I didn’t survive. If I get a wink of sleep tonight, it’ll be a bloody miracle.

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Argos For The Win

I’m going to be without a telly until next Monday. Even though I’m away this weekend and so wouldn’t have been able to use one anyway, it still seems like an awful long time to have a great big void in the middle of my games room.

My telly had a problem: something was wrong with its video processor, which meant that fast movement was causing the picture to blur excessively no matter what mode it was in. For videogames, this meant that moving the camera left or right became a smear-fest. All of a sudden, every lead character was a drunk. Static scenes and scenes with little panning movement still looked fine, but I needed the problem fixed. So let me give you all a good piece of advice – hold onto your receipt.

Until I looked high and low for it without success, I would have put my house on the receipt being in a certain place. I can even remember putting it there. But of course, this being my life, the one receipt I needed to find had decided to go walkabout, never to be seen again. And so the call centre wars began. My wife rang up Samsung, the manufacturers of the TV to ask what they could do. All I wanted was an engineer to be called out. But Samsung was about as helpful as a fireman this Bonfire Night. It made no difference that the telly was only manufactured last July (and bought by me last December), they wouldn’t do anything at all without a receipt, and their Indian call centre staff wouldn’t deviate one iota from their scripts. Clearly the Sale of Goods act doesn’t exist – Samsung deeming it acceptable for a TV to develop problems within one and a quarter years of its date of manufacture. Ludicrous.

The retailer I bought the telly from – Argos – initially had the same response, requiring a receipt to do anything. But following a second battle with Samsung, after which my wife had to be made many cups of tea as the call was so frustrating, a lady from Argos took pity on us and agreed to look for the transaction. Lesson number two – never pay for anything expensive in cash. Without a card payment, it’s very difficult for a company to find your purchase record. But luckily there was only one TV of the particular type and price sold at that particular store on Boxing Day, and so this was deemed enough evidence that I did in fact buy it from them. Having directly contacted the store in question, the lady from Argos customer services arranged for me to return the TV and be given a gift voucher to the value of the original purchase, for me to spend on a new one.

So that’s what I did, and the new model is being delivered in a week’s time. This time, I’m framing the bloody receipt. And since it has to be delivered (with a small charge added for that), I got to make a card payment too, just as added proof in case anything goes wrong again. I really can’t fault Argos, who went above and beyond the call of duty to keep me happy. I’d definitely recommend buying from them. The less said about Samsung and their pisspoor customer service, though, the better. Frustratingly, as it’s still best in its price bracket, my new telly is the 2010 model of the one that went wrong. But if I need help in the future, I know who I won’t be counting on.

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