Tuesday, 29 October 2019

Where my peoples at?

Asgard has fallen! Well, perhaps that’s a little overwrought, but #SuperluckyLive is definitely over. On Saturday I was surrounded by my spiritual brethren and hugging it out with legends. Today, by contrast, I am huddled alone in a cold box-room, scowling at my in-tray.

Me, my goofy mug, and 1x bona fide legend
Spending all that time team-comping and chin-wagging about stories both winning and otherwise was one long sugar rush … Monday, however, was the drop. That feeling of belonging dissolved into one of isolation, of PUT ME BACK! TAKE ME HOME!

But even the sunniest days have to throw shade somewhere. And now that my laptop’s out of the glare, I can see my virtual peoples all the more clearly. Hello all you SuperLuckyLovelies! Don't be strangers!

Monday, 28 October 2019

Double down

Things don’t always go according to plan. That’s not to say they’ve gone wrong, of course; it’s just that the outcome, the journey, or possibly both, have diverged from expectation. Parenthood is a case in point. Well, sort of: parenthood is a largely thankless travail where anything and everything you do will be criticised by someone at some point, and the only way your predictions will pan out is if you expect to balls up everything in the first place. But still, just because you’re permanently in the wrong, that doesn’t mean that the whole thing has been a catastrophe. (It’ll still feel like it, sure, but legally speaking, only a small minority of cases are unequivocally catastrophic.)

In terms of prizes, for example, it was barely a fortnight ago that my coffee turned up a few months late, but buddied up with another half-pound friend. Likewise, today, my biggest win of the year pretty much doubled in size thanks to an admin error.

How so? Well, just before Instagram called time on its ‘following’ tab, I found a small-odds competition to win a case of reds from the Sunday Times Wine Club. Within a week of pulling my name from the hat, a dozen bottles turned up at my house. The only problem - and let’s be quite clear, this really wasn’t a problem - was that these weren’t the bottles I was supposed to have won.

Mindful of the fact that someone had kindly just given me a hundred quid’s worth of wine, I most definitely did not complain.

What I did do, however, was thank the promoter, but point out that the bottles weren’t the ones I was expecting, and that while this was absolutely not an issue for me, I didn’t want one of their paying customers to be upset because they were waiting for the box on my hallway floor.

The thing is, while I did prefer the look of the original prize, most promoters reserve the right to substitute prizes, in part or whole, with an alternative of equal or greater value - and I’m cool with that. Had the promoter offered to replace the wine, I would have been happy; had they not, I would still have been happy.

12 of the best
What I was not expecting, however, was for the promoter to say, hold up, that ain’t right - tell you what, hang on to that box and we’ll send you the proper one right away. Truthfully, I’m still rather taken aback.  I mean, if things had gone to plan, I’d have been able to stick all the booze in the cupboard under the stairs. As it happens, I now have a dozen bottles of sauce obstructing the passage through my kitchen. But then, some problems are nice to have, aren’t they?

Sunday, 27 October 2019

Hard copy light reading

I was humbled at #SuperLuckyLive yesterday when the little box of books I'd taken along sold out in minutes! If you were hoping to buying one, I'm SO sorry I didn't bring enough - I really thought that anyone who was interested would have downloaded it already! 

If anyone is still hungering for a genuine paper copy, send me a PM, and if there's enough interest, I'll be able to make a bulk order and get you one for less than the Amazon price! If you really want, I'll get the unboxing king (aka my son) to sign it too 😂🤣

And in case you're wondering what on earth I'm talking about, you can read all about the book here!

Friday, 25 October 2019

Forever Chasing Supernovas

Some competition entries take seconds; others take hours - but if you're getting into the zen of the endeavour, that's no bad thing. Well, it might be a bad thing if you're in the middle of your manager's PowerPoint presentation, but you get the point.

By way of example, Fortnum & Mason have recently been running a short story competition, with a shedload of gourmet chocolate being awarded to the winner. By any measure, that's a nice prize. It's also a nice challenge.

The brief? Write a 500-word story for their chocolate library. Said story must be inspired by one of three starting points vaguely related to a specific F&M chocolate bar.

I've gone for the Forever Chasing Supernovas (milk chocolate and passionfruit) bar - based on the brief that "for the last 1707 years, four passionate astronauts have hurtled through space, on the hunt for a peculiar portal to a spell-binding dimension".

Science fiction is not my forte, however, so I'm really hoping the stories are being judged by a Beatles fan. Not that the Beatles are my forte either... Anyway, here's my effort - let me know how many songs can you identify therein!

Forever Chasing Supernovas

Happy birthday, Captain! You’re 1,740 today, but you don’t look a day over 64!
“I’d not look a day over 33 if you’d only leave me in stasis.”
Lieutenant Harrison’s baked a cake!
“I sincerely doubt that.”
OK. I baked the cake. But Lieutenant Harrison gave me the recipe.
“You woke up Lieutenant Harrison just to bake a cake?!”
Well, technically, she was already awake…
“You’re saying she disabled the hibernation protocol from the bridge while cryogenically frozen inside a locked stasis pod?”
Yes. I mean no. Um. It was an accident.
“You brought her out of stasis by accident?”
Yes. An accident. I was lonely so I accidentally pressed the off button.
“Ringo, you’re a robot.”
“Whatever. You’re programmed aren’t you?”
“And what is your prime directive?”
To safeguard the crew as we traverse the Kanaloa nebula and pass through the Māla wormhole.
 “So, why are we having this conversation?”
Because it’s your birthday!
“This isn’t about me is it? Last week you thawed me out for World Stationery Day.”
But you love pens!
“I’ve not seen a pen in 1,700 years!”
But everyone loves pens!
“Who’s ‘everyone’, Ringo?! Everyone we ever knew died centuries ago! Heck, for all we know, civilisation itself died centuries ago. It’s not like Earth’s been in contact for, I dunno, the last thousand years or so!”
You know what you need? A proper blowout. You know, sit back … let the evening go. Live for the moment. Enjoy the show.
“What I need is to be put back into cryostasis.”
I’m sorry Jean-Paul, I’m afraid I can’t do that.
“What do you mean you can’t do that?! Your prime directive…”
…is to look after you, yes, and that includes not letting you sleep through dangerous astronomical phenomena, such as Phi Mu 217-9300 going supernova.
“I’m sorry, what?”
In approximately 90 seconds, Phi Mu 217-9300 will go supernova.
“What?! Where’s Georgia?! Where’s Mack?!”
Lieutenant Harrison is on the bridge, transmitting data back to Earth. Mr McKenzie is … not at his post. I think he’s unwell.
“Why didn’t you wake me earlier?! We’ve got less than five minutes before we’re toast – I should be on deck with my crew!”
So, I’m not crew any more? How’s that supposed to make me feel? I thought we were friends…
“You know full well what I mean! I can’t leave Georgia up there all alone!”
I brought chocolate.
“You did what?”
Milk chocolate. Filled with passion fruit. I thought you might like it. Just a little token of appreciation, you know, from me, to you.
“I haven’t tasted chocolate for 900 years. I thought we’d run out?”
I was saving it for a special occasion.
“Like my 1,740th birthday?”
Or the end of a long cold lonely winter, perhaps.
“1,707 years is a long winter.”
Yes, but the sun’s here now.
“Yep, here it comes.”
And how’s the chocolate?
“It’s all right, Ringo – everything is. It’s all right.”

Thursday, 17 October 2019

My party piece

As much as I love a novel entry mechanic, especially a collaborative one, the absurdity of Twitter parties is something I just can’t escape.

Semantics, of course, is a classic stumbling block: I’m not a “party” person. For a start, I get nervous when backed into social situations and am expected to maintain fluid conversation under pressure; for a second, I’m still processing the trauma of being forced to play postman’s knock at my sister’s sixth birthday.

I’m also unclear about terminology. Are Twitter parties something one attends, partakes in or just does? Am I an invitee, a delegate or just a passer-by?

But these are just personal hang-ups that I need to work through. The really absurd part is the party itself. In real-life, the closest approximation would be a launch party for some intricate widget, where the host is up on stage, elaborating on the finer points of said widget’s exquisite filigree detail, while the guests are all tangentially gibbering among themselves, hashtagging their every burp. Case in point: I’ve just sat through a Twitter party about temperance, and before you could say virgin martini, the secondary conversation had slurred into a bonding session for milk-loathers.

Half an hour of gratuitously hashtagging jibber jabber is normally quite enough to get a hashtag to trend. For the promoter’s marketing team, this ticks a very important box; unfortunately, it also leads to gatecrashers hijacking said hashtag in an attempt to hawk snake oil and penis pumps. That’s when you know the show is over. That’s when the promoter pulls down the shutters and literally starts paying people to leave. To be sure, I’ve been to worse parties - I’ve hosted worse parties - but not ones planned to pan out thus.

But comping isn’t real-life; it makes you do things you wouldn’t normally do. And in that respect, it’s not unlike Special Brew - albeit Special Brew with prizes. For example, in this instance, moving outside my comfort zone won me a £50 Amazon voucher - my biggest prize this year, and exactly what I need now that the Christmas shopping season beckons.

 [16/10 filed late]

Tuesday, 15 October 2019

Never too late

Setting a new record, a prize that I've been looking forward to receiving since March arrived today - that's a wait of seven months, give or take.

It's a bag of coffee, worth no more three pounds, so was it worth the chasing? The answer's in the question, ie: coffee.

I've weaned myself off coffee before; truth be told, I even spent a few weeks completely caffeine-free, but that's not something I'd recommend. At least, I'd not recommend doing it like I did, which is to say, cold turkey, as the experience is not unlike someone hammering your eyeballs with the heel of their boot.

But withdrawal symptoms aside, one thing that reducing my caffeine intake has taught me is that without coffee, I'm not actually human. I mean, obviously I'm unbearable, but that aside, I just like it too much. Between the children waking up and going to bed, my morning joe is invariably the high point of my day. I don't mean that to sound like I love coffee more than my children, but ... then, maybe I do ... you know, I've never really thought about it like that ... so let's just say it's less demanding than my children and leave it there.

Indeed, the whole point of this story is that today, I received gratis coffee. But the story doesn't stop there, as the promoter chucked in a second bag too - and a fancier spec of coffee at that. So forget better late than never; sometimes things can be better late than punctual too.

Sunday, 13 October 2019

Match & Win

Kicking myself because I failed to click that this year’s Cadbury’s Match & Win promotion used the same mechanic as last year - in other words, the barcode and batch code on one bar of chocolate are good for two entries a day, for every day of the promotion. With one week left to get entries in, the chances of me scoring Norwich tickets are looking wafer-thin. Especially if I’m going to need Chelsea to lose 2-4 to Newcastle at home just to make it through to the prize draw.