Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Clarkson's Hints

'Who has not Jeremy Clarkson read?
Is any mortal so ill bred?'

This is exactly the sort of thing that a young Boswell would have penned in 1760 had Clarkson been active at the time. Clarkson's book, I Know You Got Soul, is a triumph. Presented as a series of fun facts about popular machinery, couched in the imitable style of Clarkson's curmudgeonly onscreen persona, the book is actually a tortuously spasmodic poem composed in free verse, meditating upon the nature of Western culture's obsession with technology, and those who worship such.

In some ways it builds upon the earlier "I Don't Believe It!": Richard Wilson's Book of Absurdities, the diction and form of which subverts contemporary fascination with the 'factoid', that ludicrously nugatory mode of information dissemination. Clarkson, however, greatly extends Wilson's essential thesis and more artfully drives his point home. But this will be obvious to those who have read the text, so I have no need to elaborate further. Those who have not read the text are ignorant and contemptible, and I would happily send a plastic dog turd to your homes to indicate my disgust but postage and packing costs would be prohibitive.

Concerning grail-clues, I believe the central one rests in Clarkson's unique contention that Zeppelins possess a soul, for I felt a tingly feeling when I read that particular section. Additionally, I instantly realised that I Know You Got Soul is an anagram of "Wings! Look out you!", wordplay that a writer of Clarkson's calibre would not fail to be aware of. This is clearly a warning from Clarkson to be wary of bird attacks should I eventually come to explore the skies for Zeppelins. I know from past experience that birds can be wicked, and I know C. S. Lewis portrayed certain birds as being in the employ of the White Witch, so Clarkson's advice is well founded. Birds can be sly and traitorous.

Monday, June 19, 2006

W.H.Smith helps out

I have just returned from the stationer W.H.Smith in the Overgate Centre and I bring with me good news. The shop opened at 8:30am, so I stood outside the centre from 3:00am to ensure that I secured a good place in the queue. As it transpired, no queue formed and I was the only person in the shop when the doors were eventually flung open by a bespectacled youth ready for the morning's business.

At once I handed the teenager my £5.00 book token and made it clear to him that I would brook no insolence.

"Sir, I present to you this token: kindly exchange it for the prize that is my due. Note that I will not allow myself to be subjected to any trials or tests - I am more than worthy. This quest was alloted to me by Ustinov himself," I said.

The youth replied in an American mode of speech.

"Uhh...okaaaay...sure...whatever," he said. I felt a wave of rage shudder through my shoulders, spurring me to strike the youth with the back of my hand, but I restrained myself.

"Give me my due," I growled, raising my arms in a pose that I remember Dennis the Menace once adopting when he sought to intimidate Walter the softie.

The ill-bred fellow rolled his eyes and repeated his mantra, "Uhh..whatever", then handed me a paperback book from a display near the door. It was I Know You Got Soul by Jeremy Clarkson. I thanked the youth and kicked his shin.

I will now read I Know You Got Soul by Jeremy Clarkson, in order to penetrate its mysteries.

Sunday, June 18, 2006

Explanations and Further Leads

My dear and patient readers, I have much to relate. I have been unable to update this electronic diary for the past week or so as I have been confined in a private room in a hospital ward, comatose for much of the time and hooked up to a saline drip for the rest.

My private room had a television set exclusively for my own use, which showed the World Cup endlessly. I have not heard of the 'World Cup' before - a student doctor told me that in the 'World Cup', male representatives of the world's nations meet in giant German arenas to try to kick a ball into their enemy's net using cunning and athletic prowess. The least successful nations are eliminated and the strongest proceed to the later rounds until there remains only one nation, which is declared the winner and gets given a small trophy, a bottle of fine champagne (vintage), and a hearty round of applause.

A nurse in the hospital told me that this is a good way for men to work out their inherent anger with foreigners and to thus avoid real wars with real casualties and bloodshed. This is all very well, but Neighbours has been put off the air until this dreary and interminable competition has been played out. This is wholly unacceptable and the depression brought on by learning of Neighbours's abscence from the TV schedules delayed my recovery by several days.

I must now reveal how I found myself confined to a hospital bed, miserable and in pain. Several days ago now, I welcomed a visitor into my Dundee home. He was a representative of Hughes de Payens Software Ltd, Hull, come to bestow a gift upon me, my prize for successfully completing Manic Miner and surely a key clue in the Grail quest bequeathed to me by the ghost of Ustinov. The man introduced himself as Miss Agatha Daggs, M.Litt, and congratulated me on my recent success in besting the game. My suspicions were at once aroused because this man was patently an albino, but one who had gone to great lengths to disguise this fact. He had grown long mousey brown hair on his scalp and had acquired a glorious sun tan all over his wide-hipped body. He wore make-up, perfume, and nail polish to disguise his albinism from me, but I was not to be fooled. Wary though I was, I allowed this faux-albino into my living room, assuming from his feminine build that, should he attack, I could easily overpower him.

He explained that the official prize for beating Manic Miner had been set in 1983 and was four month's subscription to Speccy Plus! magazine, which had unfortunately gone out of business on the same day that the game was released, so no one yet had ever bothered to phone the number to claim the prize. I detected that he was testing me in some way, subtly probing me to see if I was worthy of the true prize, the secrets of the Grail's location.

"A prize is mine by rights," I said, "And if you cannot provide me with the stated prize, you will have to find some other way of pleasing me, Miss Daggs!"

This did not please the man. He repeated that the prize was now only to be considered a novelty, and that I could not realistically expect to receive issues of a magazine no longer in print. As a gesture of good will, he said, Hughes de Payens Software Ltd, Hull, would be delighted to offer me a W.H. Smith book token to the value of £5.00. I declined, stating that I sought only the true prize. Here I winked at him to indicate I was aware of the game he was playing, and said, "You shall now give me my prize, Miss Daggs". Here I winked again and, leaning in very close, smiled to show that I knew there was an exciting prize awaiting me behind all his bluster. He maintained a steadfast composure, so I squeezed him companionably on the knee and winked a third time.

It was then that he revealed his true albino nature and flew into an apelike fury, beating me about the face and screaming. He produced a can of mace and sprayed my eyes, which caused severe discomfort.

And so I found myself bludgeoned by that albino. I awoke in hospital where the police came and questioned me about my conduct towards Miss Daggs, that treacherous albino, presumably to see if they could find and arrest him for his wickedness towards me. My good friend Dr Anthony Gland the psychiatrist was called for, and the police went away after he spoke with them and explained to them my Grail Quest.

Returning home today, I have found the £5 book token for W.H. Smith still lying on my couch. It occurs to me now that this is actually the prize I sought after all - it is a patent clue! Tomorrow I will go to W.H. Smith and follow this lead. Representatives of the Knights Templar may be in league with that renowned stationer.

Sunday, June 04, 2006

The Game is Beaten!

I have repetitive strain injury in my wrists and find myself hunched and near blind thanks to my excessive effort to solve this computerised puzzle. Nevertheless, I have triumphed. The cavern "Ameobatron's Revenge" caused me significant difficulties, but after learning the trick of it, there were only two further levels to complete, which by the grace of a god I managed on my first attempt.

When Miner Willy flung himself into the game's final exit, the screen faded to black. Then the strange eggman from level 5, Eugene, appeared and a few lines of text emerged from his lipless mouth.

"Congratulations game-player. I am Eugene. I am the Architect. I created these computer-generated subterranean grottos. You have successfully beaten my design, although you remain irrevocably human. Your ascendancy and incontestable accomplishment is merely the sum of a remainder of an unbalanced equation inherent to the programming of 'Manic Miner'.

You are the residuum of an anomaly, which, despite my sincerest efforts, I have been unable to eliminate from what is otherwise a harmony of mathematical precision. While it remains an encumbrance assiduously avoided, it is not unexpected, and thus not beyond a measure of control. Which has led you, inexorably, here... Please phone 6031769, provide your name and address, and we will send you your prize.

--Hughes de Payens Software Ltd, in conjunction with Bug-Byte, Hull, UK, 1983."

I immediately dialled the number and gave my details. A shadowy, raspy voice reeking of mystery and imbued with the tomb-dust of accumulated centuries said that I would receive my comeuppance in due course, which sounds very exciting! At last, everything's coming up Horton now!

Thursday, June 01, 2006

Continued Electronic Spelunking

I find myself short-tempered and impatient to an intolerable degree. I have been playing this damned 'computer game' consistently for many, many hours, and have consequently developed a legion of ulcerous sores all over my legs through lack of movement and impingement of blood circulation.

I can get no further than a cavern called 'Eugene's Lair' populated by toilets that are somehow imbued with sentience. When I collect all the required flashing objects, a bespectacled egg man (presumably the titular 'Eugene') begins to glow and at once moves to block my path to the level's egress. I wish the game allowed my character, Miner Willy, to carry some form of automatic firearm, for then the cretinous Eugene would pay with his life.

I must keep trying, though I risk Deep Vein Thrombosis. Perhaps there exists a way that I might cheat the system using a computer virus or some such. I must not let Sir Peter Ustinov down.