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(Shamelessly nicked from Rachel’s post…)

On the 25th September, Ian Rachel and I are walking an overnight marathon for cancer research. We start at 9pm and walk until the early hours, when hopefully we finish with breakfast. (Mr Barringer who is doing the walk with us has plans for a kebab half way round, but I’m not sure that’s a good plan).

The following weekend we are doing the Men’s Health Survival Challenge, a 10K race with an obstacle every K. And not a minor obstacle either, you can see the details at

If you would like to sponsor us for this idiocy, and raise money for cancer research, you can sponsor us at

Cardiff Photomarathon 2010
On A Shoestring

"On A Shoestring"

Photos from the photo marathon thing Rach did over the weekend (with me coming up with ideas and positioning stuff):
Basically, we had 12 hours to do 12 photos. At the beginning they gave us 4 topics, then 4 hours later they gave us another 4 and so on.
We weren’t allowed to do any photo editing at all (not even cropping the pictures), and they had to be in exactly the order they asked for – so no finding a better picture later on in the day!
We had no idea really what would come up, and so pretty much improvised all of it. Happily, the first idea we had was ‘Lego men!’ and after a trip to a toy shop it all just worked. I’m really pleased with them. :-)

T-Mobile Monkeys

Jesus, T-Mobile are rubbish.

I’ve just tried them for the first time — ordered a pay-as-you-go broadband dongle.

Unpacked, put in the Sim, plugged in, turned on, all hunky dory.

But wait – no credit, so I can only get to their site. What happened to the £10 topup I ordered? Hm. It’s on the piece of paper, so I must be due it, right..?

Nothing showing on the website… let’s ‘phone them!

Me: “Hello, I ordered this, and haven’t got any credit.”

Monkey #1: “Oh, sorry — I’ll just transfer you to the right department.”

Dept. Of Monkeys: “This department is currently closed and will open again tomorrow morning.”

Cock. Oh well. I guess I’ll pay for some credit now, and deal with that tomorrow.

Go online.

T-Mobile Site: “You have tried to buy £5 credit. This exceeds the maximum amount allowed.”

What? Try again. *click*

T-Mobile Site: “You have tried to buy £5 credit. This exceeds the maximum amount allowed.”

What? Is it because I’m using Chrome? Let’s try Safari.

T-Mobile Site: “You have tried to buy £5 credit. This exceeds the maximum amount allowed.”

Jesus! Let’s try doing it by text message.

T-Mobile SMS: “There is a problem with your order. Please phone customer services.”

Grrr! Okay, let’s do that (racking up the call costs already)…

Monkey #2: “Oh, yes, sorry — if you register a new card, you can’t use it for 24 hours.”

Me: “So how am I supposed to use this device?”

Monkey #2: “You could go to a shop and buy a voucher…”

Me: “I’m sorry, that’s just not acceptable. Put me on to your manager, please.”

(After much wrangling with manager…)

Monkey Senior: “It’s because you’ve exceeded your limit with T-Mobile for this card.”

Me: “I’ve never used this card with T-Mobile. Except to buy the dongle.”

Monkey Senior: “Oh well, that’s why.”

Me: “You’re saying I can’t use the same card to buy credit for this device in the same month I bought it?”

Monkey Senior: “Yes, there’s a limit of £30.”

Me: “It didn’t cost £30.”

Monkey Senior: “Yes, but you spent £10 on a top-up…”

Me:Which you haven’t given me!

Monkey Senior: “Yes, that department is closed until tomorrow–”

Me: “What can you do about this?”

Monkey Senior: “Nothing.”

Me: “So how can I use this at all, in the next 24 hours?”

Monkey Senior: “You could go to a shop and buy a voucher…”

Me: “I want to make a formal complaint.”

Monkey Senior: “You can’t do that until your account is fully set up. That’ll take 24 hours…”

*Ian bangs head off desk*

Needless to say, I shall be taking my custom elsewhere…

How on earth do these people ever make any money out of anyone? Why do they still have customers?

P.S. If anyone knows anyone who works at T-Mobile, give them a kick from me. :(

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iMac for Sale

2.66 GHz Intel Core 2 Duo
ATI Radeon HD 2600 Pro
20″ 1680×1050 Screen
320GB HD
Hardly used. Manuals, boxes, all the rest of it.
Just over a year old.
£750 o.n.o.

The Great Exhibition

So, this weekend we were at White Mischief’s “The Great Exhibition” in La Scala near King’s Cross; a Steampunk cabaret event with a few market stands and some other bits and pieces.

There are many, many photos, some of which are here. Rachel has a few on her Flickr site, too.

It was a good show. We did keep thinking ‘If we were running it, we’d have done this,‘ but that’s just us in our usual event-organiser mode. A number of excellent costumes, some good music (particularly Mr B The Gentleman Rhymer and Tankus the Henge) and a collection of cabaret acts that ranged from the sublime to the ridiculous. Only a couple of duff notes (oddly, echoing the problems with the Serenity event of a few weeks back).

Also nice that a whole bunch of us collided there — some through preplanning, some through happenstance.

Steampunk is clearly the up-and-coming genre. It’s been simmering away for a few years, but now seems to be boiling over. Odd, really — there’s no single big media event (like an extremely popular film) that I can think of which has given it the push. We were wondering if it started with the resurgence of burlesque — maybe it’s just that the gents who go along want to be able to dress up, too…?

As you may have gathered, Bill was there. With a silly costume he’d built the day before.

And, to give you some idea of the high profile of Steampunk at the moment — Bill found his way on to the front page of BoingBoing. And my chin found its way on to a BBC report on the event.

Rather different from the normal coverage of us wearing silly outfits!

In other news, I heartily endorse the Daily Mail song.

In very brief other news:

  • Work=busy.
  • Cardiff=far away.
  • Script draft 1 finished, draft 2 under way.
  • New writing project codename D under way and gathering steam.
  • Labour MP replied to my letter about the Digital Economy Bill by passing the buck to Mr Mandelson. Who hasn’t replied, needless to say.
  • New tech project codename T under way and gathering steam.
  • The omens look good. Shame we had to kill the goat to find that out, really…

Email Fail

Rachel and I are having major problems with email at the moment. Our normal email addresses have stopped working, and may be in that state for a few days for all I know. If you need to contact us, comment here and I’ll get in touch (we still have working email addys, just not the normal ones).

Damn you, technology!

Update: Fixed! Thank gawd…

“Powerful big rats, gentlemen!”

So, a week or so in Venice, where 16 of us accidentally won the Venice Carnevale’s mask/costume competition while dressed as giant rats. I say accidentally because all we were trying to do was to get up on stage and have a bit of fun; then they invited us back for the next round (on comedy value, we assumed); then they let us through the first round of the final (audience sympathy, we assumed, and the fact that we bribed the judges with cheese) and then we discovered that we’d won.


Y’see, there were all these other entrants who have undoubtedly spent months on their kit. Or have hired kit from people who have spent months on their kit. Specifically targeting the costume competition.

All we did was turn up. I mean, there is work in our kit, obviously – Pete (and Kangena’s) rat masks at the least. And some of our coats are ENO, and Rach made all her stuff and a robe for me, and so on and so forth. But none of it was intended to win the competition.

So we felt horribly guilty, and left before we got lynched. Although when we went back for a last hurrah on the final day of Carnevale everyone still seemed to like us. ;-)

Allegedly we have won a rather fantastic prize, but it’s yet to be confirmed, so…

Terrible shame that Jen and Tim got messed around by EasyJet and couldn’t go, and other original bookers couldn’t make it. :(

(There’s a Facebook group here, which should have pictures and such soon.)

Other ratty highlights (some of which from a series of challenges we made up on the spur of the moment) include:

  • Elle and Ben blagging free drinks at Florian’s (the most exclusive coffee bar in Venice).
  • Elle and Lucy B performing “I like big rats/and I cannot lie” + burlesque stripping (down to their tails) while Nick and I attempted (badly) to beatbox in front of an audience of mostly uncomprehending Italians. This was our entry (and I use the word advisedly) in the International Erotic Poetry Contest. All of the other entries were in fluent Italian. You probably had to be there.
  • The snail rider (made out of a Segway and lots of foam rubber).
  • Gill blagging free pizzas at a restaurant (contingent on us making the place look busy, which we managed with ratty aplomb).
  • Being dragged into ‘the oldest glassware shop in Venice’ to promote the owner’s wares. If I’d had my wits about me I’d have staged a dramatic collapse through a shelf of glassware as a consumer statement. If you ever take a trip to the island of Murano you’ll understand why. You have never seen so much appalling tat in one place. But we were given a free mouse made of glass. How lovely.
  • Rats leading several thousand people in “YMCA”. (That wasn’t me, honest, I wasn’t anywhere near it – blame Jo.)
  • Ben and I being attacked by a port ninja. A port ninja is a rather rubbish ninja who pulls ninja moves on you that are so appalling that you cringe, until he mysteriously produces a bottle of rather fine port from a previously undiscovered orifice. A ninja who produces free port is clearly the best kind of ninja. Good job he didn’t flip out. You know what they’re like.
  • The words “Something Strange Happened Here” written in neon lights across an otherwise innocuous-looking warehouse building on the north side of the main island. We still haven’t got to the bottom of that one…
  • Seeing our pictures in Italian newspapers, and people mistranslating the Italian as ‘global domination’. Well, it was a nice thought…

Oh, I dunno. Lots and lots of stuff. It was a busy week.

In other news, just got back from my first Serenity LRP event. It was very cold. I will probably have more to say on the event elsewhere, but it was our first LRP of any sort in 2-and-a-half years. Sadly it didn’t live up to the hype. Here’s hoping that was mostly due to the adverse weather conditions… although I’ve a sneaking suspicion it may also be due to our increasing age and cynicism.

Behold, the genius that is:
Muppet's Bohemian Rhapsody:


My Worst Words
Just a quick reminder that if you're looking to improve a kid's vocabulary for Christmas, you can't do better than My Worst Words.

Just imagine the happily drunken hours around the Christmas tree, watching the grandparents' faces as their little cherub pipes up with exactly what they see on the page.

G'wan -- you know you want to. ;-)

All Baldur's Gate lovers...
Dragon Age is the new Baldur's Gate.

Highly recommended...