My character for tonight’s murder party is a burglar. Costume – stripey jumper, swag bag, burglar mask.

I have had no time to shop, so it’s a stripy jumper from the wardrobe stripy long-sleeved T from P’s wardrobe, a strange briefcase I got free from Viking once to have my “safe-cracking tools” in and – since I haven’t been to a costume shop, for the mask, I bought… a pair of tights. The stocking-over-the-head look is far more frightening than a comedy mask.

Just one thing – even with a tight over my head, there’s no doubting it’s me. It doesn’t disguise me at all! Just as well I really wasn’t planning on holding anywhere up.


P is going as a detective, so amongst the props I’ve bought him a Hamlet cigar. I just had to pop down to the Co-op for a pair of tights and a cigar. The guy on the till looked at me a bit strangely and said he hoped I’d have a really good night.
Happy New Year to all my readers!


“Don’t pricktease, you Russian baboon!”

I’ve been given the run of the house to myself, so I have been taking the opportunity to use the shiny new DVD player I got for Christmas – on a set of Spooks series 1 DVDs.

I haven’t managed to see any of Spooks on the TV, so I’m coming to this very late. It’s really good. Very edgy with some unexpected plot-twists.

And then, halfway through the series, enter Hugh Laurie as the MI6 agent. Is he there for light relief? It seems slightly jarring – after all the high drama, the intrigue, the unexpected and gruesome deaths, the deathly seriousness, then suddenly we have Laurie, almost in the character he used to have in Fry and Laurie. Hmmm.

Just popped over to www.MI5.gov.uk -“Last updated 15.12.06 1000” – very reassuring. Hmm. And the site is available in Urdu, Arabic and Welsh. Eh? Pop over to MI6 – and that’s available in Spanish, Russian, French, Arabic and Chinese. In that order. No Welsh.

EDIT 04:21 – Gordon Bennett, that’s such a cliff hanger to end a series on!


Oh, dear, I’ve done it.  I’ve ordered Wii. I’ve taken Leigh’s advice and given my credit card details to Gameplay – a bumper order for Wii, Wii Play, Zelda and Rabbids.

At least when Leigh ordered, he had a count-down for Wii to arrive – I’ve no idea when they’ll fulfill the order!

I can’t go near my computer without googling Wii, so I know there’s going to be Linerider for Wii (???) and you can even get a Wii WordPress plugin that reformats your blog so that you can read it (and post to it?) from Wii.

Is it really wise to invest in new computer hardware and a massive drain on time so soon before the all-important local elections?  Probably not…

Show me the Wii to go home

Off to see my parents shortly – they’ve kindly agreed to meet me in a pub halfway between home and here so that we both get a reduced drive.

The pub is in Droitwich, just off the motorway.  The normal drive home takes about three hours, half of which is driving 2/3rds of the distance on the motorway, and then just as long driving fewer miles on twisty country roads.  By meeting in Droitwich, my parents don’t have to do the motorway driving, which they don’t like, and I don’t have to do the twisty country roads, which I don’t get much practice of.  Ideal!

Gun culture

A colleague is having a New Year’s Eve murder party, rather like we will be, and mentioned in passing that she needed a gun.

I have a gun, that’s just gathering dust at home, a toy, prop-gun I bought for a fancy dress party last year, so I promised to bring it in to work today to lend to her.

She’s only part time, and I arrived today after I knew she would have left, so I called by her house to let her have it.

I felt self conscious just crossing the road from the car to the house whilst packing heat and was then caught in a dilemma when no-one answered the door.  Can I post a gun through the letterbox?  Was I even sure I had the right house?  Is knocking on someone’s door, whilst holding a gun, a good idea?  Is it best to hold it openly, or to conceal it in one’s coat?

Much later in the evening, colleague’s husband came to the office to discuss something else so I passed the gun to him to take home.  I had to go back to my car to retrieve it, and by the time I got back, he was sitting in his car.  Which meant I had to walk over with a gun in my hand and tap on the window.  Good job he was expecting me.

Actually carrying a gun is pretty strange to me. I’ve never shot a real one of any sort, and certainly never want to have to fire one in anger.  I think it might be interesting to spend an afternoon in a rifle range somewhere to find out what shooting is like, but I’m pretty unlikely ever to hit a target.

Despite never handling a real one, I know all about guns from US films and TV shows.  I know how handle one, to clean it, never to point it at anyone; how to hold one together with a torch, how to pistol-whip someone.  It’s amazing how a prop gun takes on a life when you pick it up.  It’s fascinating what play-acting occurs to people when you give them a toy gun.

In all the day I’ve had it, I’m really glad I didn’t bump into anyone who thought it was real, or who had to take a split-second decision on whether or not it was real.

So, how d’ya get a Wii?

Never having bought a games console before, I don’t know how you go about it when you’re in the period between the initial batch having been sold out and the next batch… arriving when?

None of the online retailers seem to be doing pre-orders at the moment, they’d all rather get you to pay over the odds on eBay or Amazon Shops.

When will the next lot be coming to the UK? How do I find out? Can I put my name down for one anywhere?

Will there be Tombraider Wii?  Will it be possible to use other people’s savegames to get you through the impossible / tedious levels?

Washing machine latest

The machine is back in the land of the living.

Men came round and repaired it and charged us £25 for the privilege, even though it should probably have been under guarantee.

Then they brandished a bra-wire at us!  There’s no way that came out of any clothing in our household!

A happier ending than some, anyway!

Leigh’s Wii

For lo, a voice in the wilderness is calling, “Prepare ye a Wii for the Lord!”

Leigh brought his long awaited Wii with him to the party on Boxing Day to show how marvellous it is. After all the many jokes based on the name (“playing with Leigh’s Wii”, “wii-ing in the living room”, “wii-ing all over the house”) we got a fairly comprehensive tour of what Wii can do.

And it is quite impressive. Leigh is fully kitted out with Wii, Wii-motes and nunchucks coming out of his ears, Wii-branded bags, games from Sports to Zelda, so it could well be a more impressive experience than your average out-of-the-bag Wii.

First we got to check out the army of WiiMiis he has created – there was already an avatar for everyone at the party, plus most of his extended family, and a handful of Star Trek NG characters. We did get a bit of a say in improving some choices he’d made for our characters – “Why is my mouth like that?” and so on.

Then we got to play. The whole point of Wii is that you have a controller, the Wiimote, that isn’t physically connected to the machine, and is very sensitive to movement. So playing involves tweaking the bits around in hundreds of different complicated ways. It’s deliberately aimed at all sorts of people and not just the usual games console suspects. A quick look at Flickr suggests many – from old to young – are enjoying the Wii’s charms.

We all got a good go on WiiSports – I got strikes in Wii Bowling, which is more than I get in real bowling! Baseball was interesting, although I’m still not sure how you play the game. Baseball all the more interesting because although it only has two human players, it drafts in all the WiiMiis on the system to play as fielders etc. I was caught out by Worf on more than one occasion.

But WiiBoxing was the real killer. There’s a short video of two players WiiBoxing on the Wiibsite – I didn’t realise you could do it sitting down! I was boxing C, both of us with a Wiimote in one hand and a nunchuck in the other. And the various Wii moves – punches to the head, punches to the body, and defensive moves – are all designed to be similar to actually hitting people. So we got in a bit of a frenzy fighting, and it was pretty physical. I managed to keep my end up in the first round, knocking C to the ground, only to be KO’ed myself in the second. By which point I was gasping for water, wishing I’d thought to bring my inhaler, and C had to pop outside for air. Days later, and my muscles are still killing me all around my back and shoulders!

It was rather good fun, and we’re half sold on getting one ourselves. We can rationalise it in all sorts of ways, including it being good for our physical fitness! They are not all that pricey, just at the moment, they’re pretty much unobtainable except by paying well over the odds on eBay. So, in the few months before another consignment reaches these shores, we can probably manage to save up for one. And by then there will be more games for it – I’m intrigued by Animal Crossing for one.