Disastrously, now that my CSI affliction is no longer taking up so much of my time, something new has come along to keep me at my desk well through the wee small hours. I’ve treated myself to a copy of Sid Meier’s Civilization III, a strategy game where you basically take over the world, and win by building a population up from a small group of settlers who don’t know how to read, to a massive civilization covering the face of the planet building a spaceship. I last played this obsessively on a laptop from my room in Germany during the six months I spent in Magdeburg as part of my degree. My daily routine there was a shocking combination of spending all day in the IT suite reading UK newsgroups and all night at home hunched over my desk playing Civ II, avoiding the frequent and noisy corridor parties in the hall of residence. I had only three hours of teaching time, and no commitments whatsoever apart from eventually producing essays that would lead to being awarded Scheine, that would prove to my tutors back home that I had done the minimum needed, academically-speaking, to progress. My time was filled with other pursuits also: a lot of sightseeing on DB Wochenendtickets, since it didn’t take a lot of time to exhaust the potential of Magdeburg.
I’ve spent days of my time since last weekend eyeballing an imaginary world whilst my little men battle it out in three entire games of Civ. For a game where you have to invest such a lot of time, you can get your ass whupped and lose the entire game in just a few seconds at the end. You spend 4 hours building the United Nations, and then lose a vote in the blink of an eye. Whilst it takes a long time for another nation to wipe you off the face of the earth, strong nations can build a spaceship only a few turns after completing the Apollo Program. I haven’t won a game yet. In Germany, I got to the point where I could win the space race every time. It’s going to be a few weeks until I learn to whup the new AI. And then, I understand, CivIV in the Autumn.
Not, of course, that I have a few weeks spare to devote to learning to play a computer game when we have a General Election to win. Election fever is certainly beginning to strike following Labour’s spring conference heralding in the mini-conference season. Ours is only a few weeks ago, and I’ve still not sorted out a hotel for Harrogate.
Not a lot of time in the coming months for the domestic stuff, so I’ve been catching up a bit on the things I’m supposed to do every week and haven’t done for far too long: cleaning out the fish, sweeping the kitchen floor, making lemon curd. Erm, dearie me, the cooking is far more interesting than the cleaning. I’ve made a panettone for breakfast on Valentine’s Day tomorrow. This hasn’t risen as much as it should have, but then the recipe calls for a 8″ tin, and I was keen to try out my new 9″ tin. What a difference an inch makes, eh?
And — oh my. No connection, but I’ve just discovered that thinking poof’s crumpet Alistair Appleton has a blog. Gosh, I feel priveleged to find out what’s behind the front man for Cash in the Attic. No really. And from my brief look at it, he seems a really great guy, as well as looking a million bucks. There’s thoughtful stuff about Berlin (although he doesn’t seem to know, despite having lived in Germany for six years, that the plural of Biergarten is Biergaerten, not Biergartens), a Rufus Wainwright gig, presenting the Proms.
And, oh the photos! Be still my beating heart.