The roundup

So, the Actimel Challenge is over – “two weeks of drinking the ‘delicious probiotic yoghurt drink’ will improve your life” claimed the advertising, and who am i not to take up that challenge? I’ll tell you who, I’m webponce – sucker to marketing suggestions.

The final three days of the challenge ran smoothly enough, a shot of Actimel every morning. Saturday i managed to finish my paper, and then onto a party. Sunday was spent lazing around in the most wonderful of ways, and Monday was a day off work and the deadline for my paper, which i managed to hit – in fact, turned up before the graduate office was even open.

So in retrospect, has drinking Actimel every day for two weeks made me happier?

I’ll have to say this, I am happier, but was it Actimel which made the change occur. I think its only fair to use some form of scientific principles here – the control, for whom Slim shall suffice (I’m not sure he’d appreciate being used as the guinea pig, nor the control, but he has to realise his importance in this experiment).

It snowed, and that added considerably to my happiness – but it snowed for all london, a good number of whom I’d hazard a guess are not drinking actimel (slim for example) – so i feel safe in saying that Actimel was not responsible for the snow. i think it was caused by low temperatures and, well, snowfall.

The ‘crash’ scenario, now, there is not a doubt that it was caused by me forgetting to drink my actimel. Plain and simple. If i had have drank the actimel, it may have still happened, but lets face it, i didn’t drink it, and it did happen. Let me turn to the control for a moment, Slim didn’t care that the portal had gone down, it was none of his concern – hence, only did i have puppies in trying to work out what went wrong. it was punishment.

i’m not any happier – but if i don’t drink actimel – i might die horribly.

sooooo, i think i’ll stick with it.

to be perfectly honest, it takes the edge of my hunger in the morning too – although a bacon sarnie would probably do the same.

Spectacular proscratination today – and as a result, the front room is tidied, dusted and vacuumed, all the washing up has been done – the fridge is more than fully stocked, i have more clean clothes than ever known, the bathroom has been cleaned, even around back of the loo and around the shower fittings. All the bins have been emptied and refilled, my nails (finger and toe) are short and the essay is no closer to being finished. still – at least you can see your face in the carpet.

Okay, so i didn’t mange to find any actimel at the supermarket – but i thought, who’ll know? If i don’t tell anyone that i’ve skipped day 9, nothing bad can happen. How wrong i was. First of all, i finished my book “The Windup Bird Chronicle” overshooting the tube station as i was massively engrossed in the final chapters, which left open more questions than it answered. Later in that day – plans to go and see a play with some friends fell through as there were no tickets available, and then to top it all off, another friend got her phone stolen (i think possibly because she was the one to drink some actimel for me on the first ‘missed’ day – and fate was getting back at her).

Day 10 was fairly uneventful, and equally day 11, but i had drank my actimel, and nothing bad was happening – so surely thats a good thing?

Oh how well i remember this – the painful feeling around your eyes when your body is screaming “oh for the dear lords sake, use your feet, walk to your bed and put your head under your pillow for morning is coming yet again, and ye, lacking sleep, shall suffer the consequences of feeling a little bit shit tommorow”, and you shout “ha! no body, i shall not be taken in by your lies, morning is hours away yet, and i can continue on with my herculean task, i shall show you, my mental strength shall prevail over the body. ha again!”.

just days left until the paper is to be handed in? yup, you betcha.

I’m midway through writing a paper for my MA at the moment on digital class structures (insert yawn here) – which needs to be shown to my lecturer as a first draft on thursday afternoon. as i’m out tommorow evening, that means i have to complete it tonight. as a result, i have done a massive amount of laundry and quite a bit of tidying up, replied to a large number of emails, checked around a couple of sites, written this blog, watched a bond movie, eaten dinner, made two phonecalls and generally procrastinated. if only you could get a degree in that – although i suppose by turning up or doing the work, you’d fail by definition.

i ran out of actimel today – on day 8, which means i have to treck to the supermarket tommorow to buy some. i’m concerned that tesco metro on bishopsgate may not stock the product – in which case, i have a problem. granted, nothing has happened on days 7 and 8 to make me believe in actimel’s amazing powers of improving one’s life, yet i think its lulling me into a false sense of security – and after the server crashing fiasco, i’m not man enough to take that risk.

there.. thats another 10 minutes wasted.

Friday morning after the day before, and the first thought swimming around in my head when i wake up is “actimel! actimel! actimel!” – there is not a chance in hell that i won’t forget to drink my actimel today – the fear of day 3’s incident has branded its mark. i even contemplate getting a tatoo on my hand “Remember Sammy Jenkis” but maybe thats a little extreme – i’m allergic to pain anyway.

i have lunch with simon, adrian and slim – good food, i go back to work, i go for a drink or six with alex slim and greg.

saturday – and nothing again to speak off.

oh my god – sainsburys was [again] absolutly packed. its a true hell on earth, even with built-in temptations (the deli counter, the numerous attractive single women putting meals for one in their baskets, the sweeties aisle, ben and jerrys). the ungodly screams of pain and terror as lost souls float around the supermarket looking for organic asparagus tips, and finding nothing more than miniture ornimental cabbage. the catfights over the last packet of quilted loo roll, the mad panic dash to find a checkout queue which is shorter than portions of the great wall of china.

i then see a lone trolly standing on one of the aisles, already filled to bursting, and i have an idea. what if you didn’t have to shop – wasting time meandering around the shelves looking for dried miso soup or grain fed duck breasts. what if you could turn up at the supermarket, and view a range of prefilled trollies/baskets [delete as applicable to how much shopping you need]. you simply pick the trolley which suits your needs best, pay and leave. you wouldn’t even need to go through the checkout, as they already know how much the trolley is valued at.

you could even have themed trollies, the christmas trolly (turkey, crap joke books, alka-seltzer), the houswarming party trolly (stella, peanuts, alka-seltzer), the single bloke trolly (stella, peanuts, alka-seltzer), the sunday roast trolly (beef, potatoes, alka-seltzer). you could have celebrity themed trollies, what would the celebrity have in their trolly? the les dennis (meals for one, cd of love songs, alka-seltzer), the jamie oliver (frozen ready meals, alka-seltzer).

it would be a revolution, and not only would it ensure that your day is not wasted in checkout queues, it would also solve those hours spent choosing what to cook – you’d have a set number of ingrediants, and you would be forced to do something with them – like total immersive ready steady cook, but without fern britten.

i’ve seen the future – and the future is pre-packed.

sunday and the paper writing isn’t going fantastically well – whether the actimel is in my tummy or not. so i went out for a walk and found four road traffic accidents, 18 disposed xmas trees and a scooby doo DVD advert on a bus. i’m back now, and saw the last five minutes of crocodile dundee, the last half of the goonies and am about to cook food. however, S to the L to the I to the M has started a ratings war over at his blog, so i have to plan my revenge first of all.

Uhoh trouble ahead… 12.30pm, and things are not going well. A large european internet portal which i’m responsible for technically went down, for no reason. We hadn’t touched the site for days, no changes … nothing.. and pop – it didn’t work.. right just i had to leave the office to go an do an assessed presentation at university.

Ah ha! I hear you shout.. actimel didn’t help you out there did it?! well, i’ll let you in to a secret. I forgot to take it this morning – AND LOOK WHAT HAPPENED!!!

Running around like a mad man I call the people in Germany who look after the servers, desperate to find a resolution to the situation which was giving me kittens, and all i can think of is those little bottles of yoghurt in the fridge which i’d forgotten to drink this morning. How could i have been so careless? But to no avail, everyone I needed to speak to in the German office was not in front of a computer to be able to do anything.. so i leave work head spinning with fears that the site is severely broken, and wander into my assessment – not having had time for lunch and tummy rumbling louder than an American President throwing his toys out of the pram about alleged weapons of mass destruction.

5pm and i leave the lecture, presentation done, and not feeling sooo bad about stuff. i call the german office to see if the woman who had been helping me out was around to get an update – but when the phone was picked up, someone started talking german at me. to my surprise, i answered in german and asked to speak to her. he replied that she wasn’t in the office as she’d gone home for the evening – to which i thanked him and said goodbye.

Upon arrival at the office – i check the server, and it seems to be resolved, without word from anyone. Sat confused, i look around and scratch my beard when Kirsty sms’s me to say not to worry, as after hearing i’d missed my actimel, she had drank one for me, at around 4pm.

Okay, so now, i’m terrified. I don’t dare not to drink actimel.. if i miss it ever again, what else could go tragically wrong? Although I did not move any closer to happiness today, the lack ingestion of actimel by me did throw my life into total blairwitch like terror, and the subsequent drinking of the product at a later time on my behalf seemed to resolve the situation – to which end i will today give actimal 2 bonus points. (and thank you thank you thank you to kirsty for, well frankly, saving my life).

actimel (and unrepetant fear of impending doom) 5 – cynicism 1

11am – and if yesterday was an hors d’oeuvre of snow, today is a three course meal with coffee and brandy.

the second bottle of actimel went down faster than bristol rover’s league position over the past two years, and the challenge continues.

today, due to the vast amount of snow, i’m happy as larry once again, and as i’m waiting for someone to visit to install a brand spanking new 1mb internet connection at our flat, i’m toasty warm, listening to music on the hifi, eating satsumas, and have even received a couple of personal phonecalls. most lovely.

another late addition to day 1 of the challenge, and we’ve been invited to pitch for one of my favourite female artist’s website – which i’m frankly over the moon about. thats three more points to actimel.. although the day is not yet over. will cynicism manage to claw some dignity back?

12midday: woohoo! two slices of cold pizza left over from last night!

10pm: little more has happened to suggest that my day would get better nor worse, apart from a little bit of waddling on the way home, doing my best constipated penguin impression to ensure i don’t end up gliding down clapham road on my arse before the two week challenge is up. however, our new internet connection apparantly also comes with every video-on-demand channel which the service provider can throw at us, so the amount of television we can now watch has jumped up about fourty-fold. so i wrap up warm in my freezing cold room to end day 2 with actimel 2 points in the lead.

actimel 3 – cynicism 1

As i try and think of a suitable snow related song, let me tell you about day 1 of the Actimel project.

Actimel (a “delicious probiotic yogurt drink which contains L.Casei Immunitas”) have recently started advertising a campaign that after 2 weeks of drinking their product – if you don’t feel better (and want to slide down a hill on your briefcase), [ooh] Danone will give you your money back. So, who am i to turn down two free weeks supply of liquid? and as any true scientist would do, i shall be noting my observations. At the end of two weeks, i’ll summarise my findings to let you, the consumer know if Actimel makes a drop of difference. I currently theorise not.

Day 1:

My first taste of the actimel stuff – and its basically quite runny orange flavoured yop, with bits of what i hope is orange. Not unpleasant, kind of reminds me of those set yoghurts you used to get as a kid, but not set, and colder as they’ve not been in a lunch box for four hours next to a ham and egg roll sandwich and a fun size twix. not expecting an instant result, imagine my surprise when i look out of the window, and et voila – it was snowing! in london! in january! with more exclamation marks! than you can shake a stick! at!

running outside immediatly in my jimjams, my mother pulled my back inside and made me put on some wellies and a coat – which i did and then ran outside to find a blanket of perfect white snow. i ran around in circles for a short while and fell over laughing, reminded of childhoods past. then! an idea! i’d make a snowman. i started with the tiniest ball of snow and packed it together with my already blue hands, but the cold didn’t matter – i was warm with a glow which radiated far more heat than any gloves or scarf.

pushing the tiny ball of ice around on the ground, the sphere grew and grew, until it was twice the size, four times the size, eight times the size, 16 times the size, and eventually, resembled a teenage Rik Waller after sunday lunch. Perfect I thought, and repeated the same process for the head. i was out of breath by the time i’d finished, but there he stood – a blank faceless expression adorned his blank faceless face. I looked at him, and could he have looked back, he would have done. He needed features.

i ran back into the house and fetched some coal for his coat buttons, and eyes, and a satsuma for his nose. i borrowed my father’s scarf, and wrapped it around his huge neck, and placed my mothers old sunhat on his icy head. with my forefinger i scraped a mouth into his face. the snowman smiled at me. i smiled back. i had made a friend.

by then, it was nearing 9.30am, and i had to go to work, so i ran back into the house full of childish glee, and got ready.

actimel 1 – cynicism 0

ps. on the tube, i read drew barrymore is getting married to someone who isn’t me for the third time. i think she’s doing it out of spite now.

actimel 1 – cynicism 1

matthew knight is to take over as the university´┐Żs director of human resources

matthew knight is the senior partner of knights

matthew knight is well

matthew knight is an organic farmer in mid

matthew knight is the senior partner of knights solicitors of 25 high street

matthew knight is a joint master of the ashford valley hunt

matthew knight is in the oman

matthew knight is number 33

matthew knight is now in texas with the us air force

apparantly.

bumped in to minnie driver whilst i was shopping off kings road this afternoon. she gave me a double glance. i must appeal to the sexy screen star type, even with unruly hair. i then proceeded to shop lots, and find the most beautiful sunset i’ve seen in london yet.

i’m 24 now, and when you reach your ‘mid twenties’, people start buying you grown up presents – okay – technically, i ask for them too. case in point, slim got a toaster and microwave for christmas. i got a dressing gown, and in its defense i did ask for one, so its not a criticism in the slightest. however, it does seem to be the thing which Powergen have been looking for since their inception. I fear it may be the answer to the earth’s power problems. it is the pinnacle of perpetual self fulfilling kinetically created energy. one imperceptable movement from me, and the gown of power generates some 20kW of static electricity. i’m working on a conduit which allows me to transfer the stored energy into some form of battery cells which i could use in my discman – but when i do – don’t be too surprised if in 20 years you’re using units of power called ‘Matts’. kilomatts.

its amazing how even after two weeks of not going to work on the tube every morning, you can drop without thought back in to a routine without thinking. whenever i step out of bed in the morning, i’m on autopilot through getting into the shower, fiddling with the taps until its the correct temperature, drying myself, finding a clean[ish] t-shirt, leaving the house, returning to the house to remember something i needed, working to the tube, getting on the tube, and reading until you notice moorgate station. baa.

review of 2002

as ever, i try and write some small review of the previous year – somewhat like tony blair in his new year speech, what went wrong, what’s going to go wrong, and what the hell we can do about it – although, i’ll try and steer away from all doom and gloom. also, so that you’re aware, i always write two reviews. one for public consumption, and one to put in my ‘chapter ones‘ folder.

to the start of the year, and de-construct, the care unit which looks after me during weekdays, moved to new offices in the east end of london, in fact, back to the old stomping grounds of the deepend times, two streets away from scrutton street in fact, and on the very same road as the griffin, our beloved pub.

i joined the gym – and the less said about that the better – actually, in my defense, i actually went quite often, had a whole mindset about becoming the person i wanted to be, blah blah blah, and went swimming fairly regularly. occasionally made the mistake of trying to use the running machines/weight machines/cycle machines and made myself just look plain silly – and noticed no discernable difference in shape, weight, height or cardiovascular stability. i have since put on 9lb.

february 14th comes and goes.

the winter of discontent began, i went skiing, and spent most of the time on my ass, out of breath, or peering down the slopes terrified that there was no way i could make it to the bottom due to my pathetically weak leg muscles and just the slightest drop of vertigo – i’ll take that back, not slightest vertigo. huge. massive fear of heights and edges. always had it, always will, and always put myself in positions where i can worry about it lots. sucker for punishment.

march rolls around, and i launch 5 sites in one weekend. no sleep. sucker for punishment.

april arrives, and i get all odd in the head – and i quote:

“Maybe i’m helplessly drifting back into that same place i was last Easter, looking for some bigger picture, some higher meaning, some deeper understanding of everything, but i am sure of one thing, that things are different now – and i’ve got to make the most of what i have and can be.”. nonsense i tell you, i’d obviously spent too much time thinking, and not enough time doing. all i’ll say here is ‘out of sight, but certainly not mind’.

another [alleged] webponce double finds itself on to our shelves, as will young is crowned pop idol, and sits back whilst watching g-g-g-gareth gates frankly do better on the sales front.

Summer arrives, and i, for the first time in 2 years, move out of east london, and onwards ever south to clapham. farewell to the mean streets of E2 and cross the river of our fine city, on past the elephant and castle, beyond kennington, and stockwell becomes the gateway to our new abode (i tell everyone i live in clapham, but lets face it, its stockwell.) and oh my god do i have a lot of crap. i threw away about four van loads of stuff, and still managed to spend two days shifting goods which i blatantly never knew i had. how does someone so young have so much furniture?

tube strikes start growing in regularity, and the country plunges into strike fever – soon to be joined by the firefighters. i wonder what would happen if the staff of costa and starbucks were to go on strike – would the whole economy collapse?

i learn just how much tube drivers are on, and just how much they want, and start ranting in the office about how disgusting it is. i also start reading the papers in the morning, which fills my head with lots of wonderful ideas and trivia, but also means that i never quite finish that book in my bag. i also realise that tube strikes are a fantastic excuse to not be in work.

kate lawler wins big brother. (and i worry myself that i still remember her surname six months on)

further depression sets in as i keep thinking about things too much, and go a little odd (again), but then have a life altering moment whilst dancing in bedrock at sasha’s album launch party and smile for a good few hours (also lose 2lb through sweat).

simon and i go to madrid, and realise there are no left turns, become nocturnal, and i capture the travel bug for a short moment.

we have a few ‘housewarming’ parties at the flat, notably not inviting most people we know, using the excuse “oh yes, we’re having lots of little parties” – which, was meant to be the case, but never really got around to doing the rest of them. we still have people’s tupperware in our kitchen some months after the event.

and whoa! september already, decon is 1 year old, and everything seems a little scary. where did that past twelve months go – as i can still remember so vividly the day we lost our jobs (and family to a small extent) at deepend. and once again, i start thinking too much. i obviously have far too much spare time if i have room to think, so go back to university to do an MA. sucker for punishment – but it serves its purpose, and my head is again filled with lots of wonderful ideas as i read sources i’d never have bothered with before. i also gain an NUS card – which gives me discounted cinema tickets. which is nice.

and wallop – before you know it – december. what a month. kirsty returns from her travels, i do some christmas shopping, i get a little bit older, but not quite enough, and new years eve is upon us faster than you can say “but angus deayton couldn’t possibly present it this year”.

predictions for 2003?

yes. plenty. you’ll have to find my chapter ones folder to find out though :)