Tuesday 25 April 2023


 I'm not much of a gamer, but I want to recommend a computer game to you. It's called "Universal Paperclips". It's available for free in a browser, or for $2.00 as a mobile phone app. It's a simple text based game, but it's incredibly compelling and there's a wonderful science-fiction story inside it. It takes between 6 and 10 hours to play it (world record speedrun is a bit over an hour and a half) and I could hardly put it down. It would make a perfect distraction on a long flight or some other boring journey.

Don't look it up, don't start reading about tactics, or how to finish it, everything is a spoiler. Not understanding the game mechanics is part of the fun. This is all you need to know: It's called "Universal Paperclips". You are an artificial Intelligence who has been created to make paperclips.

Richard "Value Drift is the new Blue Shells" B

Friday 21 April 2023

Cover Your Eyes

I've lived in the same house since 1998, but last week I discovered something new about it.

If the bathroom door is open AND the bedroom door is open AND the bedroom curtains are open AND the guy next door is working right at the top of his decking on the right hand side he gets to see you getting out of the bath.

I wasn't sure what gesture to make when we saw each other. Is that a nod? A wave? A hurried slamming shut of the bathroom door? I looked away, quickly readjusted my towel and damply shuffled off to where he couldn't watch me drying myself.

Richard "line of sight" B

Tuesday 11 April 2023

Easter Egg

 I've never thought of egg hunting as part of the Easter experience, but this year I accidentally took part in three Easter egg hunts. There was one at the office that I hadn't entered. One of my friends was unable to attend so she let me compete in her place. I found three eggs and won three prizes but they were all small and low status.

 I found myself eating breakfast in the pub on the Saturday of Easter weekend (because the cafĂ© was closed, not because I'm a high-functioning alcoholic) and there was another Easter Egg hunt. There was a sign up beside the till that said if you could spot an egg behind the bar then you would win a prize. I pointed out an egg in one of the optic hangars and won another small chocolate egg.

 The weirdest hunt was one that fate and circumstance set for me. I wanted to cook cremes caramel for my friends, but I didn't have enough eggs to make the custard. The local Co-op was closed for Easter, the Tesco Express was open, but had sold out of eggs. The little Tesco by the roundabout was open but had sold out of eggs. Thankfully the convenience store in the Texaco petrol station had eggs to sell me. Buying them felt like a real achievement.

 Richard "happy zombie Jesus day" B

Tuesday 4 April 2023

Do Not Want

 I was talking to my brother about reading menus. We both think that there are often too many words, and we both don't like to keep people waiting, so we will speed read the items and quickly pick something that we like. He asked me what term you could miss at the end of the description that would completely change or spoil the dish you thought you were going to get. I thought the question was hypothetical and was quite proud of my answer: "... flavoured sauce".  It turns out that the question wasn't exactly hypothetical and that it had once happened to him. He thought he was ordering a lobster bisque. Lobster blah blah stock blah blah vegetables blah white wine blah blah blah. He missed the critical last word which was “FOAM”.

 Richard "garden path sentence" B


On Friday I checked in to the nicest hotel room that I've ever been in. To welcome me there was a bunch of flowers, a box of chocolates and a bottle of prosecco. When I talked to my siblings who were in equally expansive suites they hadn't got welcome gifts. I took the booze to my brother's suite where we shared it. I gave the flowers to my sister in law because we assumed they were intended for her as her and her husband had made the bookings. I didn't mention the chocolates and have been slowly munching my way through them.

 When I handed the flowers to my sister in law we saw that there was a small card with them. It read "To my darling Ruth. Happy Birthday". None of us is called Ruth and none of us was celebrating a birthday.

 It turns out that there was a no-show in my suite the night before and the housekeeper hadn't felt the need to clean it again.

 Richard "The chocolates were lovely" B