Things you should listen to -Richard Herrings “Me1 vs Me2 Snooker”

I remember hearing about this “event” years ago from Richard Herrings blog.  As someone who loves people who do daft stuff (My love for Vic n Bob is built on this) I laughed to myself at the concept and made a mental note to check it out at a later date.

I then forgot completely about it.

Fast forward to this moment in time (depending on when you read this) and I saw a tweet from Mr Herring mentioning that he was about to release a new Me1 vs Me2 podcast.  Now I was suprised for a couple of reasons.  First – That it was available as a podcast as I had in my head that it was a video he was doing.  Second – that he was still doing it.  So I checked out the Podcast and saw that he was on episode 83.  Throwing caution to the wind, I started to download episode 83….on the episode notes however, there was the following words.

“After the controversies of Frame 82..”

I did not read any further and was downloading episode 82 withing seconds.  That night I decided to share the episode with my girl…she is very nice and smiled at me as I pressed play.  I appreciated the support , she is very kind to me.

Now I feel I should explain exactly what Me1 vs Me2 snooker is actually about, just in case the title does not make it clear.  Richard Herring commentates as Richard Herring 1 plays snooker against Richard Herring 2.  In his house, in his spare room, on his own.

Yeah.

So the episode started and I settled in, expecting to maybe listen for a few minutes, having a laugh at the silliness and then moving onto something else.

I was entranced.  This is what I used to do as a child.  play myself at snooker and commentate on it…albeit in my head.  Listening to the game, I was reminded of that younger version of me and a wave of lovely nostalgia swept over me.  The game was tense, Me1 was ahead most of the match but Me2 was making a strong comeback and then…….

Then……I cannot really put into words what happened* and the episode was done.

20+ minutes had passed by and I had not missed them.  Episode 83 was starting and I had no intention of switching it off.  Why was this compelling audio?  Was it purely the daftness of it all?  Am I getting to the age where anything different is automatically interesting to my befuddled brain?

Probably all of the above.

Episode 84 has just been released and downloaded….but I find myself thinking I should just start at episode 1 and work my way through them all.  He releases these so infrequently that I want to revel in the tension for as long as I can.  I also realise that this means I have no hope and this is my life now.

It’s not a bad life.

Oooh…he has another podcast.  Stone clearing with Richard Herring…hmmm I wonder !!!

 

*Of course I can….but I wont…you will have to listen for yourselves.

 

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Another Monday evening

It was ridiculously hot in the darkened office.  Johnny knew that he could switch on the cooling air con but he also knew that he could not afford it.  Not this month, very possibly not next either.  The picture business was not what it once had been.  Sure, people still wanted art to hide the grim reality of the industrial mess outside their living quarters, they just wanted that art cheap.  Cheaper than Johnny could make it.  There was still some regulars, mostly from tech corporations that wanted to stand out from the others.  It still was not enough.  He had started making detailed, fully interactive landscapes that the user could enter and move around in.  This had quickly morphed into vivid colours and sounds.  In turn this became generic views of places that no longer existed.  Probably never existed but that was what sold.  What had started as a passion project had become a drudge.  Employment was hard to find and he had decided to just scrape by for as long as he could.

There was a knock at the door.  Putting down the laser brush, he flicked on the nearby monitor to see who was there.

“Jesus, what the hell does he want?”

The words were formed in anger and as the front door of the studio slid open, in walked what could only be described as a floating mess.  Flies buzzed around outside the studio, the invisible electric barrier had clicked on and was doing its job keeping Mother Natures less desirable creatures from polluting the sanctity of his space.  The man was hunched over, the result of a broken arm that he had not been able to afford to have set properly, as little fizzes of electricity burst all over his manky clothes as the barrier cleansed him.  Camero was a man of the street and was a walking reminder to Johnny to never go outside again.

“Ah Johnny, I always love visiting you.  I leave here feeling cleansed”.  His voice was raspy and liquid.  He liked the drink and when he could not afford alcohol, he would move onto anything he could lay his grubby hands on.  Johnny sneered and was about to turn back to his work, when he noticed a second person enter.  Dressed in the grey uniform of the recently revived, the man looked confused.  Future Shock was a horrible thing and while he had seen many people struck by it, Johnny had not seen anyone go quite so pale during a bout.

“Who’s the grey?” Johnny indicated with a nod as he stood up, placing the canvas behind him.  Something did not feel right and he wanted to have the protection of something in case he had to fight.

Camero was grinning.  This in itself was an unnerving sight.  The combination of missing teeth with the ones that still clung on was testament to the wonders of ignoring dentists.

“This man Johnny,” a dramatic pause while the mess gestured theatrically, “is you.”

A sigh forced its way out of his mouth.  He was already calculating how long before he could force them to leave him alone.  Johnny’s hand had subconsciously gripped the edge of the canvas, readying itself for whatever was coming.

The silence lasted for what seemed like an age, Camero still gesturing to the Grey while he looked for a reaction that was never coming.  Slowly he lowered his arms, checked his fly and then walked over to the confused man.  Putting his arm around him, Camero guided him towards a nearby chair and helped him sit down.

“He’s still a wee bit ice sick, the poor loon,” a grubby hand ruffling the mans hair as if a proud parent.  Then he turned and  walked straight up to Johnny.

“So you know me?  I hang around outside the freezer and greet the new born as they leave.  Show them around, tell them what has changed, some of which is even true.  Help them spend their cash to get them started and graciously accept the inevitable reward for doing so.  It has made life that wee bit easier over the years.”

Dirty fingernails prised open a can off alcohol that he had somehow liberated from the nearby cool box.  One sip, two sips, three sips later, the can was empty and Camero looked directly at Johnny.

“In that time I have made a number of acquaintances that have made the whole job so much easier.  Imagine my surprise when my latest friend,” he hooked a thumb over his shoulder towards the grey, “when we go through his papers and find out that his name is…”

Frantic ruffling through his many pockets produced a relatively neatly folded piece of paper.  Unfolding it, Camero jammed it towards Johnny’s face.

“…Johnny Todd Christos.”

Johnny relaxed his grip on the canvas and noted where his laser brush was.  If it came to it, he could probably use it to distract them long enough to force them outside.

“Yeah Camero…..having the same name is not really going to convince me is it?”

With the paperwork not having the desired effect, the street tramp lowered it slowly.  There was a look of total defeat on his face.  If you had looked close enough (assuming you could bear to be that close) you could swear there was a tear in the yellowed eyes.  The paper was folded again and slid into a different pocket than the one he had removed it from.  Turning his head, Camero looked at the grey and sighed.  Then his left hand slowly rose and in it was clasped a very official looking police report.  It was almost comical to see the lengths that he was going to.  Johnny decided he was not going to play along, so he grabbed the report and scanned the contents.

100% DNA confirmation of identity

100%?  Nothing was that accurate.  Before the question could be asked, Camero continued.

“You see, I walked into the station on Queen Street and just happened to mention that I had witnessed a very well to do man jump from the railway bridge.  While I could not find an actual body, I did manage to find a rag of  bloodied clothing that had been left on a ragged edge of the bridge.  They tested it to get the name and guess what?  It came back as a match for you.  I would imagine the police will arrive here at some point in the next few months to check if you are still alive.”

Anger is a very unpredictable emotion and Johnny was struggling to keep it under control.  He could now see a rip in the grey mans sleeve, caked with a small amount of blood.  What kind of nutter was Camero?

“Johnny…Johnny, calm yourself.  This is Chiba level man…..Fucking Chiba.”

The grey suddenly became focused at the mention of that.  He whispered “Chiba” and then his eyes became unfocused as his mind started to search through the memories to place it.  Camero grabbed Johnny by the shoulders and span him round to face directly at him.

“All those churches that believe that their god will take them and put them back into the time stream way back, way before all the world went to shit.  Every single one of them will play a pretty penny to get proof buddy.  You are that proof.  You are fucking Chiba”

Front Line Defense Force

The sirens blared through the night and neon sky of the Granite City.  Late night shopper ran from the approaching horde, dodging into the safety of the nearest shop.  They would watch it all unfold in front of them whilst being link sold products they did not want or need.  This was the way it was.  This was the way it will ever be.

The soldiers arrived, clad in the military standard electric blue with neon orange, red and green accents.  Lining up in their regimented rows they faced down Union Street towards the enemy, their colour changing capes fluttering in the wind.  Commanders walked among them barking out orders, telling them to remember their training, to put their trust in the commander and in one particular case, showing a new recruit how to wear a headband properly.

Somewhere, possibly nearer than anyone realised, a room lit up red.  A solitary figure walked into the centre of the room and clicked their fingers.  A deep bass beat thrummed from below as solid light consoles appeared all around them, encasing them in technology.  Their fingers started pressing buttons, sliding sliders and spinning discs.  This was a well practiced and well choreographed procedure.  The bass beat was joined by a hi hat, keeping time with the fast fingers of the figure and then a wall of synthesisers rounded out the soundtrack.  The red room glowed and faded in unison with the music.  A large triangle button glowed luminescent green in front of the figure.  They were ready.

Two soldiers on the front line looked at each other.  This was not the first mission that they had taken part in but each time could be their last.

“Here we go again.” said the older of the two.

“See you on the other side.” replied the other.

If you had been looking from an angle that would have been considered dynamic, you would have seen that one after another, each soldier would place headphones over their ears, say the words “I consent” and their gaze go glassy.  It would have looked incredibly cool…If you had been at that specific angle of course.

The figure in the red room watched the monitors.  The enemy was getting closer.  Beasts of another dimension, hell bent on creating chaos and confusion.  Not today…they thought as they slowly reached for the green triangle.  Finally they spoke into the nearby microphone.

“This is DJ L.O.D,” then a pause for dramatic effect before adding, “Lets Play.”

The triangle was pressed.

The music surged into the night.

 

Dream of me

She had been staring at me for just long enough for it to have become uncomfortable.  I had tried to ignore her at first but every time I glanced, she was there.  Her eyes shining in the sunlight streaming into the train carriage.   Eventually she smiled and instinctively I smiled back.  This seemed to be a sign and she moved further up the cramped carriage, towards me.

“I dreamt of you last night”.

Where do you go with that opening line?  I smiled again and quickly looked out the window.  The reflections showed her moving away, so I turned back.

The reflections lied.

“I know it sounds weird.  Yet I dreamt of you last night and I have no idea why?”

“Well that’s dreams for you”.  She smiled and we stood in silence for a while, however the business of the train meant that she was way too close to me while we tried to ignore each other.

“We knew each other,” she whispered, not looking at me, “In the dream I mean.”

I thought about moving further down the carriage towards the doors but before I could, she had moved away.  Breathing a sigh of relief, I waited out the rest of the journey.

Later that day, whilst at work, I reached into my pocket for change and found a small slip of paper.  Written in lipstick was the words

“Dream of me”

To be honest, I have had stranger mornings.

That night, when sleep eventually started to claim me, I found myself thinking of her.  I could not remember her hair style or colour.  Not what she was wearing, nor what her face looked like.  Her eyes though, there was no way I could have forgotten them.  Burned into my memory, still shining in the daylight.

In that nights dream, I found myself standing at the mouth to a cave.  I could not recognise where I was, only that there was a lot of shadows outside.  On the horizon I could see a bright white light creeping closer.  This filled me with terror.  I could hear people behind me, inside the cave.  There was a sense of pain and fear in the air.  We were all scared by the coming light.  A great crackling fire lit the interior of the cave and I could see men in suits standing around it.  Their discussions were animated according to their movement but their words were lost in the general noise.

A voice at my side whispered.

“At least we tried.”

I tried to see who it was but the light was almost upon us.  I could only make out the eyes.  Bright and shining in the coming light but full of resignation.  Tears were forming and slowly dripping down the face.  I smiled at the person and looked back at the oncoming brightness.  It was as if there was nothing behind the light.  It was not sunlight, more an encroaching wall that seemed to bleach out anything it passed.  All I could see was white.

Reaching for the persons hand, I gripped it tight.  It was warm and soft and some of my fear dissipated just with that human contact.

When I spoke, my voice did not waver.

“Don’t cry.  We will remember.  Just say goodbye”

Then the light hit us.

 

In the mists of memory

I was just a child when the world almost ended.  My recall of the events is fuzzy to say the least.  As the years pass, I find my memory wandering even more and I am not sure of what was real anymore.  So I am writing this down, somewhere private and hidden, so that if I start to forget, I can remind myself of how things are and of how they used to be.

In the early days, my parents had joined the streams of people heading south to the capital.  It was safe there, we had been told.  I remember very little of the journey other than a hunger that was never satisfied.  We ate at night, whatever we had carried with us, all the while surrounded by large groups of people for safety.  In the morning, some of those people were no longer there and we knew they had been taken.  My father told me that we should always be grateful that it happened to someone else and not us.  My mother stayed silent but I knew that she was horrified.

Arriving at the gates to the capital, the newly erected walls stretched to the sky, sealing the people off from the horror outside.  Days we queued to get inside.  Each and every person was checked for signs of infection before they were allowed inside.  Always a small group at a time, as if there was no rush.  I saw people go mad in that queue.  Fighting for scraps of food or position.  My father kept us safe though, his build giving the impression that he could handle himself.  Luckily nobody tested that theory.

Inside the city was in stark contrast to outside.  There was light everywhere, glinting off the shiny buildings and making everything feel familiar and safe.  I waited for my parents to get through the checkpoint, sitting in a waiting area with other children.  Friendships were made and lost as eventually we were re-united one by one with our families. I was one of the lucky ones, my parents got in.

Then we were allocated living quarters in the newly constructed part of the city.  My mother kept saying that the government must have known the disaster was coming.  How else would they have had all this ready, she whispered to my father.  The wall, the houses and the screening.  He just told her to accept it.  This was not the time for questions.  Conditions were basic but this was surely temporary.

It wasn’t.

As the years passed, I was moved to a more child friendly part of the city.  My parents were sad but strangely I felt excitement.  This was an adventure of the kind I used to read about while my parents went out to work.  I boarded the train, telling them that I would return soon with tales of my travels.  I waved once and then did not look back as the train pulled away.

I never saw them again.

My daily routine was established back then.  Rise from my bunk, eat the allocated food in a canteen with others of my age while the large Television showed what life was like outside the walls.  Packs of mutated beings, scavenging for scraps.  Killing any and everything they came across.  Occasionally our army would rescue survivors and we got to watch the whole operation live as we ate.

It never occurred to me then that the camera placement was a little bit too convenient.  You don’t.  It is far easier to believe what you see and hear.  The plague had made the rest of the country a wasteland and we were safe here.  Conditions were harsh in the city but the alternative was worse.

Of course I know different now.

Routine goes on and on

The pills keep the world in black and white. That is what they were designed to do and they are really good at their job.

For most people anyway.

However, there are times when the colours slip through for a moment and I can see the world the way it is supposed to be. There is clarity and beauty and it makes me remember.

This is not allowed anymore and so I do not mention it to anyone.

The same goes for the people in the glass. They are still there, staring at us, judging us. Every time I take the train, I can see them. Everyone must be able to but nobody talks about them either. It is easier that way.

I get up each morning at the allotted time. Prepare for the day ahead and take my pill. Years of taking them has made me almost immune to the nausea now. I go and stand with the other commuters and wait for a train that is never on time but is also never late. It can’t be late because that would indicate that things are not working properly. That just does not happen anymore.

Inevitably I end up standing as the train trundles towards the job sector, seats already full by the time I get on. Everyone looks down, either at their phones or the daily newspaper. I mostly do the same but I cannot help myself at times and I have to check. My eyes flick towards the windows and I wait for the light outside to show them to me. Exact duplicates of the people on the train but in colour and angry. So, so angry.

Others must see them too but it only takes a suspicion and you are taken away for therapy. Those that do come back are never the same. See that happen enough times and you quickly learn to shut yourself off from the world. Give the impression that you are in your own little world. They never check those people. We are quiet, we do not question and we are pliant. That is how you get on today.

I get off with the crowds of people and make my way to my job. The one that was allocated to me and the one that will decide when I am no longer wanted. I wonder if the glass people are still there, trapped in the train windows or if they are walking along beside us. Still watching, still judging.

Still angry.

Confessions of an IT fixer

“My husband says that we have been infected by one of those Russian virus things.”

Svetlanas rough accent cut through the silence that hung as we watched her computer screen fill up with porn pop ups.  We both knew she was lying but I am a professional.  I was not even going to ask her if her name was really Svetlana.  There are not many Aberdonians with such exotic sounding names and of those that exist, I am pretty sure that she was not one of them.

“He spends so much time on this bloody thing, checking football results and international politics, that I sometimes thing he should have married it.”  Her laugh sounded nervous.

I smiled at her and moved the mouse to start the cleaning process.  She politely asked if I wanted a cup of tea, her eyes glinting in that strange middle aged way.

So I set about dithering in ham (technical term) and realigning the TDS Flange (Old School Technical term), she busied herself in the kitchen.  It was a normal day for a freelance IT fixer.

Or at least that was how it started out.

“Ooh how clumsy,” her broken glass words brought me out of the Working focus I was in.  Looking up her white half cotton, half something else blouse was now soaking and see through.  “I somehow managed to spill all this warm soapy water all over myself,” she added.

Gallantly I stood up and went to her assistance, much like the knights of old did.  As I helped her unbutton her garment I became aware that she was not wearing any underwear, which struck me as strange as her house was not particularly warm.

At this point dear reader, I must admit that I am a man and as such, there are things that I have almost no control over.

(Although I have more control over these than most)

“So any chance of that cup of tea?”  Her sighs of delight filled the room.

Later as I licked the cream off of my fingers, I felt I had to compliment Svetlana on her excellent choice of cake.  Not Marksies sadly but it was tasty nonetheless.  I made a mental note to check the box before I left.

Svetlana sat in front of her now working computer, her face a strange mixture of relief and confusion.  I could see by the tears forming in her eyes, that I had got her out of a jam.  Part of the job is what I would have told her.  Had she asked.

“So that is everything working for you now.  I would tell your husband that the Russians wont be attacking him again.”  I started packing my bag and folded the payment she had left me, into my high quality leather wallet.  As I turned to go, she spoke a phrase that would change my life forever.

“So do you fancy a shag?”

I paused and looked at my very exclusive and not cheap watch.  I charged by the hour and she had at least 20 minutes of my time that she had already paid for.

“Yeah Alright.”

That was my first mistake.