Category: Friendship

To dust before you realise

People baked mud into bricks and built
Towering edifices to impress their gods.
They made discoveries unravelling the mysteries of the universe.
People fought against injustice,
They took a stand for what they believed was right,
They banded together to help the weak.
They watched the walls fall.
They stood defiant in front of tanks and refused to move.
People worked on unimaginably complex problems and solved them.
They crossed the void between earth and the moon
To land on that distant world and return.
People felt joy at each other’s achievements,
They felt the warmth of love in their hearts
And they felt the sting of betrayal,
The heat of jealousy and the bile of rage.
People meant something once.
People accomplished so much
But none of it mattered.
None of it mattered.
None of it.

Witcher starter set

Karl Anglii , wiedźminie

It probably comes as no surprise to anyone reading that I’m a pretty big fan of The Witcher. Although I’ve not read the books (I really should fix that), I love the computer games, and everything about them – the setting, the characters, the shades of grey in the decisions you have to make. And Triss Merrigold is pretty much my perfect woman. But I digress…

Anyway, my friend Nathan is also a massive Witcher fanboy. In fact way moreso than me. One of the reasons I love this guy is the fact that when he gets into something, he doesn’t do it by halves. Literally everything related to his current subject of focus must be obtained, devoured, investigated, learned, lived. That level of enthusiasm is completely energising to be around, and in all honesty, it’s helped me through many a rough patch over the past three years. Nathan’s enthusiasm is infectious, and I find myself more excited about anime, more interested in manga, more addicted to videogames than ever before, simply by hanging around with him. The world needs more people like this.

It was my birthday recently, and Nathan made me the most awesome gift. A “Witcher Starter Set”. It comprises a Witcher’s medallion, two Witcher’s potions (swallow and tawny owl) and  bag full of orens. The medallion was purchased, but the rest were hand crafted. The wax seals on the potions are so well done, the whole thing is great. Nathan told me “the potions are technically drinkable, but it’s probably best if you don’t.”

These are EXACTLY the sorts of gifts I love to receive, and I’ve already had comments today about how much happier I seem than normal. Check out the picture below (taken at work, I’ll try and get some better photos when I get home)

Witcher starter set

Two potions (Tawny owl and swallow), five orens and a witcher’s medallion. All you need to get started

I even received my first contract: hunt and kill the twisted “Gove” which has been skulking around Westminster!

Seeing other people can really help you solve problems

Spend all day writing
Code which fails. Meet up with friends.
Then you fix the bugs

Yes, I had spent pretty much all damn day trying to modify a program to map two separate joystick devices to one virtual device so that I could play a game. Just one game. The code was almost there but it wasn’t working properly – it was combining the devices, but the axes were barely reading. I was about to give it all up as a lost cause, and then I went to see a few friends. When I got back at 2:00 am I decided not to go to bed and instead to have another look at my code. And then the answer was staring me in the face. The joystick driver works now and I can play my game. It was literally a 5 minute fix, but I don’t think I would have even spotted it if I’d not have been around such great people.

The stars are the same here, at least

Wake up in unfamiliar surroundings
And contemplate the journey that led me here.
Late night spontaneity taken to extremes,
Two souls crying out for something
But never certain of the nature of their desires.
Well met, and matched, and joined;
Gliding on the fragile surface tension of unfamiliarity.
A journey to places, sights, sounds and feelings
Both new and forgotten…

But what happens when we run out of roads?

I never found the game beautiful except for this one time…

Me and my father have had a bit of an odd relationship over the years. There’s been numerous reasons for it, which I’m not going to list here, and blame lies on both sides. However, over the last year or so we’ve both been making more of an effort to build bridges over all the bad blood which has flowed in the past.

And honestly, things are pretty awesome at the moment. Yesterday I did something which, had you asked about two years ago, I’d have categorically said “That will never happen” – I sat with my dad and watched the F.A. Cup Final.

I despise football (that’s soccer to all you merkins), and I always have. I hate the showboating of the players. I don’t understand the rules. I find it boring. I don’t understand the attraction. I just find it boring. My dad loves football. He also hates the showboating. He understands the rules because he used to play semi-professionally. Obviously he doesn’t find it boring.

So we had the hatred of showboating in common. But then I realised there was something more. The two teams playing were Arsenal and Hull City. Hull city were absolute underdogs, and Arsenal are supposedly one of the best teams in the country. My dad is a Tottenham Hotspur (“Spurs”) supporter, so naturally hates Arsenal (“The Gunners”) – Spurs and The Gunners are rival London teams, see. I have a natural penchant for always rooting for the underdog, and so we had a second common point of interest.

So imagine our elation when mere minutes into the game, Hull City smashed one into the back of the net. A few minutes later they sent another one in. We were less than ten minutes into the game and “our” team was already 2-0 up. Of course, dad and I were cheering and discussing what the Gunners were doing wrong. I went along with Dad’s suggestions, as I had no real clue about what ANYONE was doing, right or wrong.

The game went into extra time, due to Arsenal gradually clawing back to equalise over the remaining 80 minutes of the game. It looked as if the match would go on to penalties, but Arsenal managed to knock another one in late into the second half of extra time, and that was that. Still, Hull gave them a run for their money.

Dad and I caught up on bits and bobs, and then he showed me a bunch of books which he had found which I might be interested in. Including some cold war thrillers, some books I vaguely remember from my childhood, and some German school books which he originally learned from. He then gave me a lift home.

All in all, it was probably the best Saturday I’ve had in a long time. Thanks Dad.

Tortured till dawn

I had a dream last night which left an impression. Details are, as always, sketchy, but here are the fragments that I remember:

I was in a city I had never been to, and I have recollections of needing to visit a grand temple for some sort of service. Not because I was a follower of their religion, but because I wanted to see the temple in its full glory.

I was in a room –  a kitchen, maybe? It seemed to be part of a dormitory or hostel of some sort. I was sewing messages onto fabric, but doing so at an extremely rapid pace. It seemed as though I was leaving a message for someone. I recall being asked a question about my friends’ religions, and I was making a number of bracelets for each of the different religions – Christian, Sikh, Hindu, Agnostic, Discordian… The bracelet for the discordians initially had the form of an actual bracelet that I once made for somebody, but it was left changed at the end.

The person with whom I was communicating in this strange way was not actually there – I knew who she was, but we had not met face to face. She responded to my messages with one of her own, a beautiful painting of a moon in a red sky. I responded by painting my own picture (which I cannot remember the details of), and then when I looked at the moon I saw a message hand written underneath it. I cannot remember the exact words, but it was to the effect of: “I am confident and self-sure to the point where people consider me vain and arrogant, you will not like me”.

I then found a door into a small room which was filled with paintings, beautiful paintings of people and places, all framed, hung and forgotten. As I looked at all of them I grew incredibly sad and began to weep. I knew I was being foolish, expressing such feeling for paintings, but I could not hold back the tears as I thought of these Incredible pictures – people, places, memories – seen and enjoyed by nobody except the artist.

Then she appeared, and held me and told me it was OK. I laughed and apologised for my ridiculous tears, at which point she kissed me.

I don’t remember what happened next, but I recall being in a car with the girl and two of her friends. We were laughing about ridiculous game-bugs that people had logged onto testing databases (The only one I remember was “The computer is on fire”, which I guess is funny because it’s not a software issue, it’s a hardware issue). I don’t know where we were headed, but looking at my watch, I could see I was late for the temple service…

That’s all I remember. When I woke up, I discovered the tears had been real. The temple I have never seen before. The paintings I don’t recall seeing before. But I know her face.