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Tuesday 16th July, 2019

Bizarre Thought for the Week, w/c 17th April 2006
Tony Dobson

Hi all,
I suspect not many of you have been working on both the Friday and Monday of the Easter weekend. Some of us (namely yours truly) are stupid enough to work both of them, accepting time in lieu as a reward. Sure you get to take the time off when you want to, but you have to suffer Bank Holiday public transport along with the nagging thought that you could be doing something more enjoyable.

As for the weekend I had? Well come early Sunday evening I was pretty fed up with not having a weekend to do anything I had wanted to do. On Friday night I was the taxi driver for my wife and daughter. On Saturday night we had been over in Clydebank at a 60th birthday party. It was nice, but we were really there so that Chloe could be shown off by her Uncle and Auntie. Lorraine and I didn't really know anyone there, so we felt a bit awkward. I ended up amusing myself by calling Neil's mobile when the DJ played "Gold", which led to an exchange of text messages about ninety minutes after the fact:

Neil: "You rang. What's up?"
Me: "The DJ at Sandra's Mum's 60th just played Gold. I had a bit of a Pat moment. I 'gise immensely."
Neil: "You're indestructible!"

(Unquestionably the funniest text message I have received this year. There is no competition.)

Sunday afternoon saw me running errands (as per usual), so by the time I scrambled home, put on a quick dinner and sifted through two pieces of paperwork (hampered by my hole punch going walkabout) I wasn't really in the mood for yet another night out. By the time we got into the car I was just about in full rant mode.

"And another thing," I said tersely to Lorraine as we headed towards Hamilton. "When it comes to my birthday, I just want to be with you and Chloe. I don't want to celebrate it with anyone else." For some reason my wife was keeping quiet. "Why are you ignoring me?" I asked. "Because you're in one of your moods," she replied. Fair enough, she had a point.

It didn't help at the time that we were going to see some friends in Hamilton, and we hadn't been to their house before. Episode no. 401 in the ongoing series, "Adventures With Directions"! I've lived up here for nearly nine years now, and for the number of people I know there along with it being a mere ten minutes from home I really should know my way around Hamilton better. Being honest though if you asked me how to get to the many parts of Hamilton I couldn't tell you. I couldn't draw out even a rough aerial map of the layout of the town.

Thankfully we got somewhere close and a quick phone call led us in the right direction. Soon we were in a room full of people, just when I wasn't feeling particularly sociable. Before you knew it someone was getting a Playstation out and asking if I wanted to join in the upcoming game. Why not? It would take my mind off other things I needed to do. As the connections were being hooked up I was asked, "Have you got a Playstation?" Nope, count me in with the "have-nots" then.

I really was in a bad mood wasn't I? The fact is that although having one would be a luxury to us I probably wouldn't choose to buy a games console. I'm nearly 31 and still tend to recoil in shock when I see the prices of some games in HMV and the like. Hardly the wisest use of money for us, is it?

With everything in place I was handed something which wasn't your typical gamepad. This was almost shaped like a remote control, with a large illuminated red button rising above four smaller buttons. The game was called "Buzz", a spin on the usual game show format.

Up against three opponents I quickly got the hang of the game. It reminded me a little of the discovery of the original incarnation of "You Don't Know Jack", albeit with better use of multimedia, a better mix of questions and a more annoying/less amusing host. I guess that's what nine years does to quiz games.

Before I knew it I had beaten my first three opponents. As host David had suggested that "the winner stays on" I remained in place, and somehow managed to win another game. By now I was becoming a marked man, with phrases like "Can he stay undefeated all night?" and "Is he leading again?" ringing in my ears. Another player pointed out, "You need to spend a lot of time sitting around watching TV to be good at this." I would disagree. You need to spend a lot of time watching TV, reading newspapers and surfing the internet. Thankfully I've been memorising useless information for years (which inspired my friend Chris Ranson to brand me "Captain Irrelevant" during our time together at University), so I was perfectly suited for this game.

Despite being the main target in the point stealing round I managed to win a third game, by which point my mood had completed a full 180 on what it had been a few hours earlier. For a fourth game the big guns came out, and I came up against the three most experienced players of the game. This was another challenge altogether, playing against players familiar with the format and what you need to do to win.

Finally my luck ran out, although I was happy to finish in second in the circumstances. Besides anything else I had work to go to the next morning, unlike just about everyone else there. And yes, I did also admit to Lorraine that I had enjoyed myself. Sometimes your wife does know exactly what you need, even if you'll only agree later through gritted teeth.

Have a good week!

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