Wednesday, 30 November 2016

PigDogs: Hunting for Bunting

freakish halloween costumeGoodness me! That was a frisky one this morning with people scraping ice off their cars and dogs in the park wearing special dog coats and minus 9 degrees in a completely made-up place called Benson, who was a butler 20 years before I began this incarnation.
And even though I am in the Lego Team, I still had to do an hour of PE and French. But we did get a bit more time to prepare our Lego Robot. We have special plans to retain our title against those jealous 16 year-old opponents: some of the tasks involve carrying Trainers (Lego mini-figures, not shoes), milking a cow (enough to bleed it dry of milk, but not so much you make it poo itself), doing the Pig-Dog challenge for 25 points and taking a furry muff to the panda enclosure to keep their little paws warm for a bonus 10 points. We are still trying to get our Robot to sing "Stick it in your bottom, Grantchester Junior School" but we have hope.
bunting wreath garlandJof has been very busy making Xmas bunting. Ever since the Great Bunting Drought of 1973 she has been cutting up her old Prom dress to make unlicensed festive bunting. The last known underground bunting dealer got captured by bunting sniffer dogs whilst crossing the Danish border with a shipment of high-grade Moroccan bunting. There has been a steep rise in the shady world of illegal bunting trading, and a proliferation of freelance bunty-hunters. Tragically, we are now seeing underage bunting trafficking where bunts are captured in eastern bloc former Soviet states such as Romania. Their serial numbers can be filed off without anaesthetic, they are cut into triangles against the grain, with no consideration for weft or pattern, and smuggled out of the country disguised as uncertain curtain samples and Scout neckerchiefs.
I eschewed the obvious chance to wear it like a bikini, but still posed with it by the back gate, sure there's a good reason.

Tuesday, 29 November 2016

Early Thunder: Sir Wumfalot

arab drivers dangerous failWell that was a nippy start to the day! That's why the gritter lorry was out last night on the way back from Scouts.
Anyway, I did some fractions and wrote my court roundup report into the trial of Goldilocks and moved on to printing labels for my artwork. The arty efforts by the whole school will be hung in the Pyramids Centre this Friday and everyone has to bring lots of money to buy their own kid's work back off them, in a blatant fundraising event. Those kids who have still not finished their pictures will find them in the Dunces section, displayed right by the front door to embarrass and enrage their parents for administering insufficient whippings.
noisy boiler ideal logic + combi 30I originally made a picture with a theme of sunset by the lake, but changed it to sunrise during a thunderstorm, so called it Early Thunder. My description was so long I had to use the minimum font size for the label.
Over the last week, our boiler has gone from a sleek and silent provider of warmth to an outcast. It still provides warmth, but sits in a corner going wumf wumf wumf very loudly indeed, and at such a low thundery frequency it makes your lungs rattle, much like the machines in the Ropery sketch I did at the Festival of christmas. So at last some boilermen appeared and battled with it and now it still goes wumf wumf but at least they've ordered some parts. The good thing about having your own room is being able to run upstairs and slam the door when you've had a challenging time on the English literacy homework or the 'Your time is up on Minecraft' issue. The worst part is having to slink back downstairs again and apologise when suppertime is called and it's crispy prawns.

Monday, 28 November 2016

What shall we do with the Drunken Actor

italian vineyard destroyed in landslideI was VERY tired this morning. Sometimes 9 hours of sleep isn't enough, so I wilted and dozed fitfully but the walk to school blew some fresh air into my addled brain.
I did a show'n'tell about my free 3-day dockyard pass and everyone wanted to borrow it until they found out it was out-of-date, in that it was just an official ID badge for the event, which is over. But they loved my rendition of "What shall we do with the Drunken Sailor" and I wonder if that song has ever had any other ruder lines to it, for they sure would fit. Apparently quite a few of my colleagues saw me performing but I guess I was too caught up in the moment to notice them.
And because I had finished my artwork, I was the only one allowed into the Lego Room for robotics work: Ben and I designed the Team Shirt for our competition and our names will be in gold on the back.
Took Sham home again for Pokémon challenge and as we were prosheeding in a weshterly direction, an old man went shoo shaa shee at us, gesticulating vigorously. Now, we were surprised to hear anyone else using our shpecial language with -SH- noises in every word, but it turned out he just had no teeth, and was wondering why we were walking while our pet adult was on the scooter. Hot food was welcome and it was lucky I showered before Scouts (where I won Sleeping Lions) because the tiredness caught up later, and I was righteously angry about being an uptight martyr.

Sunday, 27 November 2016

Abandon Rope all ye who enter here

portsmouth historic naval dockyard museumHooray! The final day of the Festival of christmas at Ye Olde Dockyard, scourge of nations, iron fist of the Monarch, and place of big guns on ships. So here is a picture looking down the barrel of the forward 6 inch gun on HMS M33 Monitor boat from the first World War: she saw action off Gallipoli and currently this gun is pointed at HMS Victory.
While I enjoy acting and any chance to flaunt my prowess upon the concrete stage, these 10-hour working days are quite knackering and take up the whole weekend.
portsmouth historic naval dockyard museumSo this time I got myself up and made breakfast and got completely ready all on my very own but did get a random bonus cuddle from Jof before I left. I am Actor #1 in 'The Factory Kids' which is a story of harsh working conditions in a rope-making factory employing child labour to achieve its ropey ambitions.
So here is yet another picture of some authentic rope to lend some true hemp fibre to this Land of Rope and Glory, proving that there is indeed a noose loose aboot this hoose (or knot).
Portsmouth historic dockyard festival of christmas actorsWe performed our piece many times, alternating with the Seaweed Song which is an interminable ditty about married life in the over-50s, in the 1850s. During later performances, we had to compete with the Roving Sea Shanty Singers who positioned themselves a little further down the lane and shantied boisterously, so we had to shout even louder to compensate and keep hold of our audiences.
Once they'd gone, we stole their wooden bench and barrel to discourage them from returning.
One of our sidelines is begging. This dubious activity started with me last year holding out my cap and saying how I hadn't eaten in 3 days etc, and gradually we improved, adding new things with advice from the seaweed man, Dudley. In the end, 3 or 4 of us lay on the ground by our hats while Sydney mothered the littlest little beggar and the girls put on their best hungry eyes.
Portsmouth historic dockyard festival of christmas actorsRound the corner on Snowy Street, there was an adult beggar, a down-and-out probably, who lies there asking for a handout with his pewter tankard of mead and his begging bowl. Calls himself destitute, but I notice he can afford the latest model iBowl, not like us poor paupers. By the end of the 3-day run, we had jointly amassed (definitely a team effort) a massive £30.94 and one Eurocent, which we ditched. Not bad for some deadbeat Victorian waifs!
Anyway, we did our set piece (just under 5 minutes long) like true professionals and maybe next year we'll get onto the wooden stage next to the Undertaker or the Judge. Got home tired but happy, what a funny way to spend your weekend. Was yours any better? Sang myself to sleep with a medley of Silent Night, What shall we do with the Drunken Sailor and other Cockney hits of the 1880s.

Saturday, 26 November 2016

Never the Twine shall Meet

portsmouth victorian festival of christmas historic dockyardAnd this was Day 2 of my Rope-related performance at Her Royal Highness the Dear Old Queen's Historic Dockyard, although for the duration, Her Royal Highness has been replaced by Her Royal Highness Queen Victoria.
portsmouth victorian festival of christmas historic dockyardIt was up to me to get up and get ready for my lift, and I did exactly that although both parents checked up on me. I hopped out of the door and was gone.
We signed in and got our orders which were the same as yesterday and the littlest actor turned up but he had 2 problems which affected his performance: bright blue trainers and a massive toothache. One was authentically Victorian, but the other, not so much. He left during the day.
portsmouth victorian festival of christmas historic dockyardWe were set up in Sunny Street which is only round the corner form our performance pitch last year. The giant thing behind us represents the Rope-making machine on which we work: and we also get a handcart and hats.
So here is another picture of some rope (section of anchor rope from HMS Victory): a fairly historic item, should be in a museum or something. Oh, it is.
Many other actors are supplied by our theatre and include nurses, suffragettes, royalty, soldiers, prisoners, policemen, Scrooge, vagabonds, musicians, chimney sweeps, a judge, pearly kings, street vendors, beggars, pneumatic-busted whores, and unspecified - such as the middle of the 3 whores hanging out of the pub window: he has quite a big beard for a whore, depends on what takes your fancy I suppose.
portsmouth victorian festival of christmas
Anyway, here we are doing our thing, with me strutting out front manfully, holding it all together, you know the way it is.
portsmouth victorian festival of christmas historic dockyardWe did our performance many many times during the day and in my mind, I was the stand-out performance artist and not enough grateful members of the public stopped to watch us. But the show did indeed go on as we planned: even with only 2 parents and a childminder we faithfully completed our task like true pros.
portsmouth victorian festival of christmas historic dockyardBecause we have a good union (or maybe government rules about under-age performers) we had numerous breaks and absolute packets of snacks and it was all pretty good actually. The bizarre angels-on-segways trumpeted past from time to time and our pictures were taken more times than the Mona Lisa.
victorian festival of christmas portsmouth We had a few goes at begging: I lose a leg and lie on the ground and we increased our takings to £12. One of my audiences included Erin but I didn't see her or anyone else I knew, too busy acting.
So the parents visited today and appeared on and off throughout: I later learned that they had bought 12 different kinds of cheese. Strange place to buy cheese, you might think, shouldn't they be buying me Xmas presents instead? Perhaps they just haven't told me about those bags hidden in Jof's room.
I also got a letter that gets me a free ticket to the panto and they want me to audition for something else. At the end of the day we all did the massive parade behind a load of Scotsmen in dresses playing dead cats.
I got home and wasn't hungry because of all the sausage rolls and watched Youtube videos to calm down. But hot food made me feel better and I sang carols until bedtime at 10.

Friday, 25 November 2016

Money for Old Rope

truck hits train on junction fatal errorHooray! The weekend of the Portsmouth Royal Historic Dockyard Festival of christmas is here! I've been waiting a whole year since the last one.
Anyway, like the new-fangled responsible adult that I want to be, I reset my own alarm clock for 645 and slept. Sadly, I had set it for 645 pm so the first I knew anything was wrong was when backup reveille trumpeter and taxi-driver 'Bud' whipped me with his own trousers and informed me I had 29 minutes left before we left the house. This was actually quite enough time as breakfast #1 was ready for me and I'd already put my socks on the night before to save time and the Acting Bag with all of its stuff (remember this) was ready by the front door.
festival of christmas portsmouth dockyard actorSo we texted Sydney to say on-our-way and drove down to their house, playing 'And the Angels Sing' by Benny Goodman and his Orchestra (1939) at top volume to listen to the clever vocals, tveetling trumpet and bum-banging big band sound. In fact, it was so good we played it again for Sydney's benefit and when it was over, that's when they remembered they had forgotten their passes.
Now, for those of you who do not work on a functioning naval base with armed guards and actual warships on active service, forgetting your security pass is a Class A Fatal_Error, so we drove back to their place and travelled many roads (how many roads must a man drive down? 42) and got to the theatre 4 minutes late for our Call Time. Still, you've got to laugh, because nobody noticed.
illegal begging fundWhat people did notice was that only 3 of us turned up, the 4th driving in from miles away but forgetting to get her licence to miss school. So we got changed and walked to the Dockyard and performed our sketch as best we could with 3 people and a following wind. Soon, we had performed it 20 times or so and voluntarily cut our own tea breaks down a bit so we could go begging. This was a gas last year where (as chimney sweeps) we scored £3.90 by asking for money for food, please don't send me back up the chimbleys 'cos me lungs are all shot through.
Bizarrely, this year we were classed as too young to be chimney sweeps so we did the Ropery sketch instead. But our calls of "Please give us money for me brother, he's injured" and "gizz some spare change, Guv, I haven't eaten in days" worked a treat and we collected £7 from the good old British public, although you've gotta ask just how ethical that really is. My patter was quite divisive, in that I successfully divided the coins from their owners very efficiently. Then we handed out free child tickets to the Snow White panto at our theatre: when I approached kids to offer them the free tickets, they ran away, but the girls were much more successful. I didn't threaten to kill anyone, honest. So, by the end of the day, I was both tired and wired, good to get home but eager to explain all the good bits. Thankew, thankew, I'll be here for the rest of the weekend ...
Sang carols until socks were stuffed in my mouth slightly before 10pm.

Thursday, 24 November 2016

Goldilocks is Innocent

Today is Friday for me (the end of the week) because tomorrow I'll be travelling 150 years back in time to become a child slave for 3 days. To this end, I have had a vitamin-ectomy to encourage some croup, beri-beri, rickets and scurvy, and have had 17 teeth removed for authenticity.
blowing tea out of a teapot into a cup
Anyway, after some reading and maths, we caught up on Goldilocks! The Series, in which we listened, transfixed, to the testimony of Inspector Gudgit from the Yard. Previously on Goldilocks!, our intrepid heroine had been caught bang to rights by Her Majesty's Constabulary in a compromising position, upstairs in bed, in a ransacked house with numerous traces of evidence pointing to her as the culprit. But we now discover that the alleged invitation from Baby Bear had been discovered at the accused's home, and that the Farfar-Awayland Annual Charity Marathon was not a fictitious event and, indeed, that Goldilocks had won it for the last 3 years and was the favourite in this years' race. Furthermore, Baby Bear had been expected to come third behind Goldilocks and Little Miss Muffet, who unexpectedly tripped and fell (breaking her ankle) just as Baby Bear passed her on a bend out of sight of the crowd, in a shock suspiciously reminiscent of Zola Budd and her rival in an Olympic race. He had then been caught on camera bragging about his victory and his prize (a bag of magic beans).
Later I tried on some thermal leggings to keep my willocks warm during the Festival of christmas and I sorted through my 'Celebrations' chocolates from the Scouts to see which ones I didn't like (and which could be given to my fellow actors) and incredibly, it was just 3 out of the whole box.
Later I watched 'Speed' in which a mad bomber battled cleverly against Ted from Bill & Ted and Miles Bennett Dyson from Terminator 2 and there were lots of guns and bombs and crashes and insurance claims. And some snogging, with Sandra Bullock.

Wednesday, 23 November 2016

Fingering a Drugged Blonde

use condom advert in magazine trendy young thingsThe most important thing about today for me was the presentation to the headmaster. He sat in judgement while my Robotics team made our speeches, performed our sketch and demonstrated our Lego Robot with multifunctional tool head.
So we did our run-through and everybody liked my demo drone model but our presentation came in at one and a half minutes over time.
This means we had to cut some script so we redacted the biggest paragraph but we were still a minute too long, so we'll have to look again at the whole performance and wield the knife more cruelly, just as long as my scenes don't end up on the cutting room floor.
In Wordsmithing, we were encouraged to write more posh, like, with constructions such as Had I considered this, I might have decided that, and the if ... then and I suggest that variants in which I wrote that if I was a penguin, then I would eat fish.
On a more topical note, I also said that if I was an adult, then I would try to decapitate Donald Trump, and I suggest more people try to assassinate Donald Trump, which is incitement to riot, a proper crime.
royal bank of scotland coroporate giftSpeaking of which, we continued with the trial of Goldilocks: could it have been an inside job? New information has come to light that suggests Baby Bear was in on it: he invited Goldilocks round at a pre-arranged time, left bowls of porridge drugged with Rohypnol out for the taking, and while Goldilocks was asleep upstairs, trashed his own apartment and left a trail of phony evidence.
Thus when the Family Bear returned from doing whatever bears do in the woods, he was able to evince false outrage and finger Goldilocks, who had no memory of the incident and conveniently attempted to flee the scene when woken up by 3 angry bears. Can we establish a motive? Does Baby Bear have a cast-iron alibi? Is the Pope catholic? Tune in tomorrow for the next thrilling instalment...
I spent an hour practising swordsmanship with extra blood-curdling snarls in my bedroom until Jof got home with a really big bouquet, a reward for doing so much in her works quiz, apparently.

Tuesday, 22 November 2016

Goldilocks and the Genius

cosplay barney dinosaur in pubA much easier journey to school today as I got a lift in. This is because of the Lego Drone model which made it safely into the Robotics laboratory for the presentation tomorrow.
lego robotics competition first lego leagueWe continued with our autopsy of a court case in which Goldilocks is accused of trespass, criminal damage, theft of wholesome oaty breakfast provender, and rampant ongoing perjury. The accused was discovered asleep upstairs in a house which had been broken into and ransacked, with traces of oatmeal around her mouth, fragments of window glass on her dress, and with a single trail of child-sized footprints leading upstairs from the kitchen.
The accused pled not guilty and suggested that she had been training for a half-marathon with Baby Bear (who denies knowing the accused) and was asleep from her exertions: furthermore, any breaking and entering, and porridge consumption must have taken place while she was asleep, and by persons unknown not yet apprehended by the authorities.
self-tape audition on home cameraWhile Goldilocks looks about as guilty as Hitler posing under the Arc de Triomphe, she has lawyers and they are preparing their defence: we can't wait to see how it turns out. Maybe there will be a surprise witness, an undiscovered twin, some inadmissible evidence following a botched illegal search, or maybe Daddy Bear will drop the charges, admitting Goldilocks is his secret love child.
Anyway, once I'd had a Snack-For-A-Growing-Boy™, I read through the script sent by my agent and we set up the camera on a 4 1/2 inch shell casing on a chair (the right height), with an idiot board stuck to the shelf behind, and we rattled off the screen test in 1 minute and 2 seconds. I played some crowd called Einstein, aged 10, who shows off his knowledge of pi and worries about his future as World War 1 breaks out.
Now, we all know that a ten year-old Einstein did not speak English with a dodgy German accent, for he spoke German. So I sensibly took his lead and also did not speak English with a dodgy German accent, because I sounded like Doofenschmirtz on acid.

Monday, 21 November 2016

Game of Drones

engrish arcade mall shop tailor failWell, the endless parade of victorious days just keeps marching past. I got 39/40 in the maths test because I wrote the answer to the last question next to the box, not in it. Tough judges. My Lego Robotics team and I spent some time perfecting our presentation, and we've got a script, some Powerpoint slides full of information and they liked the picture of me building the non-functional demo model so they demanded I bring it in.
Thus I did a bit of father-son bondage in the afternoon where we strengthened the tool arms and made the bricks a uniform colour and improved the radar turret and put a cylinder in one of the grabber arms to simulate a discarded tin can clogging up the oceans and streamlined it a bit.
lego model first lego league tournamentSo we took some official pictures and tried to email them to me at work but the Mailer-Daemon wasn't playing and I had to log on from home and upload them to my own Google-Drive. First world problems, this never used to happen in the 1970s. Well, we've just got to hope the headmaster is impressed.
Later, my London agent (yes) sent me through an audition request for a character in a TV show, that's another script I have to learn on top of the Lego Robotics one and the Festival one. In Scouts I got a certificate (with my name spelt wrongly) for my victory in the backstroke finals and a massive tub of Quality Street chocolates for finding the Scout memorial stone first! In the actual Scouts session we spent most of it playing games and being told to shut up. It's only fair.

Sunday, 20 November 2016

Carols and Armed Guards

lumps fort sea defences southsea promenadeLeapt out of bed at the crack of half ten, I deserve it. Loudly unloaded the story of last night's Scouting victory to a slightly dozy Jof.
But the main activity of the day was a rehearsal for the 3 days of street performance I'll be doing next week. We all gathered at the theatre (Sydney kindly giving me a lift) and in the end all we did was sing carols because we'll be doing that every morning to serenade the queue of lucky punters before we start the main performances.
The theatre director said that every year the Festival gets bigger by 8000 people so we could be seen by 60,000 humans, 5 TV stations will be sending camera crews, various radio stations and newspapers and stuff will be sending reporters and of course a gazillion normal humans will be wielding their cameras, so if we play our cards right, we could be famous!
spitfire flying by southseaAlso they're opening up a bit more of the dockyard to the Festival and so we should expect to see lots of heavily armed guards dotted around, because it's a working naval base and those naughty ISIS johnnies would just love to get one of their special rucksack-operatives past the bag search. A few years ago, somebody left behind their lunchbox with a cheese sandwich in it and that set off the sniffer dogs and the bomb squad took the lunchbox outside and blew it up, too much chili sauce probably.
And we've got a new route for the parade and security passes and our green room where we have lunch will be guarded and it just keeps on getting better, especially as we're old hands now having done it last year.
At going-home time, we got a cryptic message about doing a hostage exchange in the D-Day museum car park, so we went along to see what the fuss was about. The storms last night must have coincided with high tide again because just like 2 years ago, the sea had washed the beach right up onto the road and knocked out lots of the giant concrete blocks holding the world together. A lone Spitfire flew past, checking out the damage, because he doesn't care if the seaside road is closed in 3 places due to all the shingle, sand, seaweed and driftwood all over the road.
portsmouth storm damage flooded seafront
And the bandstand by Henry the 8th's Castle was flooded again, looking serene in the evening light. Sydney and I are the 2 little figures on the right. All the trees are naked and the roads are covered in leaves: funnily enough, it's due to rain heavily again tonight.

Saturday, 19 November 2016

It's a Fair Copse, Guv

5th portsmouth scout group milton st jamesOccasionally in my life I have such a run-of-the-mill day that I have to record that I did fractions at school, or I found a leaf in my sock, or some banal observation on the weather, with only a funny picture of a cat with a tin of cat food on its head and a promise that the next day might be better.
And on other days, I make up for it.
I have acting lessons on Saturdays and therefore sit naked watching TV until I am told to dress, and eat, and get off my bottie etc. But this time we nipped out early to go to church. But that's against your religion, I hear you cry, and yes it is, but the church have these little fairs and tabletop sales and my Scout group attends and it's only polite to go and show your face, donate some money, meet the people and wear the magic Scouting neckerchief that gets you in free.
We got there as the bell was tolling (apparently it tolls for thee, don't ask) and there was an actual queue to get into church, first time since the 2nd coming, although a larger (hoho) proportion of the queue was for the Weight Watchers meeting upstairs. I bought a Minecraft book (20p), had a go on the raffle, the lucky dip (DVD of The Jungle Book - already got it), did an unpaid modelling job for an Asian priest who wanted a picture of a kid at the face-painting stall for his website, and played 'Tickle the Tinsel' which is not rude at all: the Scoutmaster drops a bit of tinsel down a drainpipe and you have to bat it with a rounders bat when it exits the tube. In other fairs it is called splat the rat.
Well, I certainly tickled his tinsel and won some sweeties, and I spread joy and happiness using only my smiling face. Then we scarpered. But while I was viewing the Tombola prizes, Bud had been cross-examining the Scoutmaster.
bransbury park southsea 5th portsmouth scoutsYou see, a few days ago he posted on the closed Scout Group Facebook page a challenge to find a memorial stone that they had planted 6 years ago to mark the centenary year of Scouting. And to make it easy, he said what town it's in - that's all. The stone mentions that a coppice (I think he meant copse) was planted to commemorate the centenary, and in the picture he posted, it had some leaves on it and was surrounded by grass.
So there's your piece of cake challenge, first to take a selfie by the stone gets a small prize and kudos, and the chance to use "It's a fair copse" as a title. My assistant spent 4 hours searching for it (he has a lot of time off at the minute) and with the extra clues gleaned from the naughty Scoutmaster we just hoped that Flynn wouldn't get there first.
Then Sydney arrived and we went to acting in which we rehearsed our Festival of christmas play many times and we ganged up on the little loud kid by pretending he wasn't there. Afterwards we took Sydney home and went to Bransbury Park where my class used to walk to the swimming pool and wandered around in the woods for 20 minutes in the rain before we found the stone, stuck out in the middle of the field.
And we posted my selfie first, hurrah. This allowed me some free time on the X-box before the annual Scout swimming gala. Jof went out to her work quiz so us chaps headed off into the squally night with hope in our hearts. The Scout Swimathon has been a favourite event for a few years now and last year I failed in the backstroke final because I slipped when pushing off the wall, and I was determined to banish the ghosts.
mountbatten centre swimming pool alexandra park portsmouth
On the first race (breaststroke under 9s) someone couldn't swim and the lifeguard had to dive in and rescue the sinking contestant from 6 feet from the edge. My first event was the backstroke under 12 (even though I'm 10) and I came first, even though my name was spelt wrong in the programme. It is another tradition to count the number of spelling mistakes in the programme, and there were many. Then Robert came first by miles in his freestyle race. Johnny's name was also spelt wrong in that he was labelled as Iona Focaccia, some kind of Scottish herby bread product. He came second and then I came second in the next race under the name of James T (not Kirk) who was out with a chest infection.
scouts district swimming gala prize plaqueAnd my Scout group scored points variously (but not as many as the JBs group) until the backstroke final in which I won the title, exorcising those ghosties forever. Robert won his freestyle title by miles, his secret is to leap off so far he only has to swim a bit more and he totally spanked the opposition. Then James T Me came 4th in the freestyle final behind Johnny and well whatever. Lots of points were scored, and points mean prizes. We all had a splendid time and it was great fun, but I didn't win the Jeroboam of Lambrini in the raffle. Or the chocolate. But I feel victorious, I am the Backstroke Boss. Home for hot pizza, I had my Minecraft videos and Bud curled up on the sofa with a hot pint of wine, this is the life, srsly.
And then, just before bedtime, the naughty Scoutmaster posted that the team points we had scored were sufficient to win us the District Trophy for the year. My chest swelled so much I busted my shirt, like the Incredible Green Hulk. Now THAT'S what I'm talkin' about, and why I insisted on staying up so I could tell Jof, stuff bedtime. But by Midnight I lost consciousness and she returned to say she'd come second in the quiz, raising £1,100 for charity!

Friday, 18 November 2016

Want: Muffin. Get: Nuffin.

laughing at dumb kid stuck in a footstoolAll the usual stuff in school today, fractions, friction and distraction. The friction was in PE where our team-building exercises were even worse than usual, my team had SelfishGirl and CrunchyGirl (nice on the outside, crunchy on the inside) which hobbled us completely. The distraction was not mine, but some of my colleagues who will have to complete their unfinished work at home this weekend, Ha!
And we got a rather groovy flyer for the Art Gallery at the Pyramids (everyone in the school has made an artwork for it) that was designed by Erin, lots of colour and quality although the girls could be happier. We still have a flyer from the Year 3 school play that she drew, maybe she'll become a graphic designer one day. The school is hoping that generous parents will take pity and buy their kiddies' artworks to raise money for school funds, although I can't imagine they'll say buy it or we'll burn it. And there was the advert for Meet Santa at Lumps Fort Miniature Village which Ben and I successfully attended 6 years ago but I now reckon is a bit young.
But then I made an impassioned speech about the upcoming Victorian Festival of christmas and said I'll be appearing on all 3 days as a Victorian Street Performer and everybody should come and see it, because it is a momentous local festive event with lights and reindeer and santas and stalls and me and some other actors and mulled wine and mullered winos and beer tents and music and whores and fake snow and that whiffy cheese that matures in a cave and it'll be epic.
victorian performers groundlings theatre
I also brought home the menu for the christmas lunch and had to choose between Chocolate Muffin and Chocolate ice cream and I chose muffin and he said I was allowed a pudding and I didn't have to have nuffin but he'd put me down for it and that is why we hate parents, because they are all spanners.
At home I made my Lego drone (non-functional demo model) for the Lego Robotics challenge. It is grey and has big claws but does not gestate from a face-hugger.
fleur de lys scouting association logoAlso I tried on my new Scout belt which will make me super-smart if I ever choose to be, I'd be lucky to have some old twine to hold up my Victorian britches in the festival of christmas, it's alright for some. Incidentally, the lady in the GIF laughing at the stupid kid stuck in a footstool looks familiar. I went through my lines for the Festival and gosh, I seem to be good at something. As well as all the rest of the stuff.
And a special shout out (hoho) to all those drunken students screaming and fighting on the pavement outside at 0100 last night, ps you've left some vomit behind, please come back and retrieve it.

Thursday, 17 November 2016

Spotless intentions

unsecured load of paint in car faildots spots on shirt for children in need schoolsOK, so some days at school are boring, or at least, go as planned and contain nothing remarkable. Best I can offer is when we did some kind of 5-step process (read, comprehend, select bullet points, précis original text) and I graduated to Step 5 which was continue with your 3rd draft of the picture for our art gallery.
dots spots on shirt for children in need schoolsThis meant we were let loose on the good quality paper and the proper inks and paints where generations of previous students haven't got their sweaty mitts on them and made them all go browny-purple.
Gosh, it was good, using a syringe-like dispenser to ooze virginal white (quite) into jade green with aquamarine and mix to make my sea.
Some of those poxy Year 3s are on their 7th draft, some who waste time or who are using the printing press only have time for 2.
Tomorrow is Children in Need Day. This worthy cause nets millions of sovereigns of the realm every year for these needy kids and our school, like all the rest, charges you £1 to come in in civvies with a spotty motif.
In years past, I have donned a hand-modified plain white T-shirt with dots and planets and star systems and black holes and aliens and so forth: and lots of fun they are too. Here are 3 of my previous efforts.
dots spots on shirt for children in need schoolsmeon junior school lego robot winnerThis year, I had the choice of 1) Go to Giant Tesco and buy some more plain white tees to be modified, or 2) use my "Now I have a machine gun, ho ho ho" T-shirt and modify it with bullet holes on the front and star systems on the back.
In my opinion, bullet holes are incompatible with needy children, and I just couldn't be bothered to go shopping for more so I declared I was too old for this dotty lark and that I'd pay my (OK, his) £1 and do nothing.
So here is a picture of the First Lego League trophy won by my school last year, that we hope to retain on a tense robotic stand-off later this academic year. With Jof out swimming again, I had enough free time to have another non-frightening alien-free film, so I chose little-known 80s Rom-Com "Commando" in which my favourite film star shoots, stabs, detonates and steams his way through 7 grillion rent-a-soldiers and finds a new girlfriend.

Wednesday, 16 November 2016

Matinee idolatry

invitation to psycho axe killersIn my hour-long French lesson, I was told that, like many others in my class, I am now 2% fluent in French. Can you really be 2% fluent in something? Is one of those egg-timers of Damocles dangling over my head saying 2% loaded but not telling you what actual data rate you're getting from your broadband provider?
Anyway, Jof had been busy on Amazon again and I had a wide choice of DVDs to watch, to while away the evening. Because I'm only allowed one hour per day on Minecraft Never-Ending Story, I opted for an afternoon showing and had to choose which one. I am currently scared of aliens having watched the Simpsons episode where Skinner falls into a bucket of worms, so ET, Mars Attacks and Flight of the Navigator were out.
I fancied silly gangsters so it was A Fish called Wanda, that naughty Mr Cleese seems to get everywhere. I liked dancing in pants, flipping a gun past the airport metal detector, the accidental dog-killer and using a crossbow to open a door.
Later, I decided I liked the Lion, Witch and Wardrobe series because they had trans-dimensional Portal-rings, and I haven't even met the phase-change Reality-Shift Wardrobe yet!

Tuesday, 15 November 2016

Angry Music (crotchety crochets and moaning minims)

cats drinking spilt milk from gutter in roadWell, so much for getting up on my own. I was in mourning, you see, because due to a deep phlegmy cough, I have lost my voice. To someone who uses his voice as much as me, this is a terminal disability, like asking a Retarius to enter the Coliseum without his trident, or asking dark wizards of rock 'Bouldermort' to perform their 1972 hit 'Feel my Elder Wand' without their custom-made phallic guitars.
lego robotics challenge Anyway, this meant I couldn't sing during musical assembly or during the pointless hour-long music lesson in which I learned nothing except that the keyboard can sound different if you change its settings. This was because of Loud Child A who shouts all the time and Loud Child B who babbles and pesters me all the time and I'm not allowed to give away my Pokémon cards in school because it causes interest and I hate everything.
Incidentally, here is the demonstration track or structured test bed or Robot Nürburgring with the turning circle and the shark tank and the hostages that need rescuing. It's quite big.
At home Jof calmed my anger by teaching me fractions, assisted by pain medicine and chocolate.

Monday, 14 November 2016

Supermoons and Systems Integration

asians on motorbikes carrying huge signToday I went into work on my day off. Like so many adults who seem to be bringing their work home with them, I and 9 others decided to forgo our inset day and go into school to work on our Lego Robot coding project.
We have designed a marine autonomous vehicle with tools and appendages and solar panels and everything, to trawl the unforgiving seas of the world and pick up litter. To demonstrate this, we have made a drone that can push, pull, capture and manipulate various objects on a test bed.
lego programmable robot schools competitionThis meant running back and forth from the IT suite to the test room, debugging the software, modifying the crane arm, designing the soft tooling from scratch and doing a presentation. Sadly I was so busy I forgot to take any pictures using the camera in my bag. If our presentation in a month is good enough, we will progress to the next round and be filmed by the BBC (again).
I was tired out and had to have pain medicine for my legs.
During the Lego session 2 of us were tasked with making a larger non-functioning demo replica without the servos and actuators. I tasked my sub-assistant with retrieving all the fifty shades of grey blocks from my Lego block-box and got on with mine.
In Scouts, we were supposed to see the supermoon. I'm sure it looked all very wonderful above all the clouds. I have trouble with my Scout Scout shirt. It is very big and I might blow away in a wind. I am assured that I will grow in the next 3 years, hey, didn't happen the last 3 years so why should I believe you? I got a hiking badge and my 10 nights away badge! Apparently there is an entertainment badge, the Festival of christmas will count! Even more for my pet seamstress to sew on.

Sunday, 13 November 2016

Bette Davis Ice Station Zebra

zip top baggie of weed ganja grass cannabisThe usual start to the day, which on Sundays is to watch Minecraft videos in my pants until about 3pm, when I am finally forced to get dressed and have breakfast.
It being Remembrance Sunday, the massed riders of the British Legion drove their motorbikes to the war memorial on the seafront. But every other bike owner this side of the Grand Canyon joined in, especially all the ones with Vespas with racks of extra wing mirrors, so it became a vast hairdryer convention that blocked the streets all over the island.
While Jof binge-watched Doctor Who, I installed Minecraft Storybook on my X-box and it was, like, 9 Gig so it updated for hours.
telltale games mojang minecraft xbox oneAnd on his run, Bud found yet another special packet of dreamy herbage dropped by those fiendishly dopey weedy guys onto the pavement. The grass certainly won't be greener for them when they realize they've dropped it. It's bizarre, the way this keeps happening. This one is called Basil Bush - smoke in peace, and has a hairy bloke on the front looking slightly lost for words.
Anyway, after a Forgotten Password? error, I finally got onto Minecraft StoryMode and it was epic. You control the main character and decide where he goes and what the team of master-builders do next: there's an edgy teen with red hair and a pig and ghosts and zombie soldiers and bad language and a building competition against people who make fun of you.

Saturday, 12 November 2016

John Foster must Die

portsmouth royal historic dockyard rope making exhibitionI'd got 2 hours of Minecrafting in before I was forced to leave the house in a huff, surely I could have had more. But it was acting and a bit of a day of reckoning, because we all had to learn our lines and last week I wasn't the best.
But all my hard work during the week paid off and I was epic. I was also the only one to notice the large mirror slowly falling over onto one of the girls, and I shouted out but it was too late and she got a right old clonk on the head and had to be taken away, poor girl. Rather ironic given that this is a play about unsafe working conditions in a Victorian rope-making factory employing child labour. So here are some pictures of Victorian rope.
portsmouth royal historic dockyard rope making exhibitionWe're now learning our movements to accompany the script, a gentle choreography of demonstrative arm-waving although I do have to put my hands over my ears at one point, only for them to be pulled away by the tragic John Foster. During the pivotal scene in which John Foster is strung up by his own neckerchief when it gets stuck in the unsafe rope-making machinery, he has to go backstage because we won't have the stage equipment to actually suspend him, twitching, as this will be an outside performance. Also he will have to die and come back to life repeatedly over the 3 days of the Festival.
xbox 1 minecraft storyboard disc
I dislike trousers. Not only does this generally mean I live in pants at home, but when I am forced into covering my legs, I only select tracksuit bottoms, for they are soft and forgiving, and more comfortable for the more prosperous waistline. So (ignoring the 2 new pairs still with labels on in my clothing drawer) I made Bud buy me 3 new pairs in Giant ASDA. While there, he got the film ET and I got a new Minecraft Storymaker disc for my X-box, as an early Xmas present. I have agreed that the only thing under the tree on christmas morning will be a chocolate orange, if I haven't already eaten it. I rattled off both my homeworks and vanished into my room with the disc.
Film Night: Mr Monty Python and his fabulous Quest for the Holy Grail. It was a slow starter for someone used to Schwarzenegger movies but as soon as I'd got in tune with the stupidity, it was ace. The Holy Hand Grenade of Antioch, the Castle of Aargh, the Demon Rabbit and the Trojan Rabbit, I understand them all. Yet another chapter is added to my burgeoning databank ...