Saturday, 16 August 2014

Number 33

I don't know much about these, but having opened the challenge have found out that the world centre for them is around Avebury in Wiltshire - an hour and a half away from us. Reading up on them after the challenge, the debate is between people who believe they're man-made - which is hard to believe, looking at the pictures of the complicated ones - or whether they're made by aliens - which is hard to believe, looking at the pictures of aliens - I will give the definitive verdict.

Number 32

Claire had warned me earlier in the week to keep ten past seven on Thursday free. At 6 o'clock on Thursday I opened the challenge, secretly hoping it said 'Eat two whole lobsters'. But it said ...

Great. I've always wanted to try something like this, but was waiting to have something wrong with me. So what was happening at ten past seven? A reiki session, Claire told me. I knew this was some kind of Japanese hocus-pocus, but didn't know what it involved.

I've got good at staying calm and keeping my expectations neutral, and I was doing these as I rang the doorbell on the dot. The therapist appeared, looking relaxed and friendly. She showed me into the sitting room, where some monks were singing ambient music. 'OK, can you strip down to your underwear and lie down on the couch, please?' she said. 'Oh Jesus,' I thought, regretting choosing my old Dukes of Hazard pants and starter bra. 'Only joking,' she said. A wave of relief went over me – was this part of the therapy?

I lay on the sofa and closed my eyes as instructed. 'I'm going to put my hands over your face – they smell of chocolate brownies.' In other circumstances, this would be fighting talk, but I went along with it.

The first effect was an immediate warm feeling on my face, like being under a sun lamp. I do – or, more accurately, did – meditate occasionally, and knew the feeling that you get from it. But the feeling that it takes ages to get when meditating started immediately – a feeling like my eyeballs were moving upwards ... then the colour show:
1. Different-coloured circles appearing one by one then shrinking as the next one appears.
2. Blobs of clotted blood dancing around on a background of fresh blood.
3. Clouds of tiny bubbles darting around in bluish water.
4. Same as 2, but with a different basic colour.
5. A dark blue carpet with fine gold lines in a clover pattern.
In the middle of the show there were two other effects: first some random worry-type thoughts, which I can't remember, like when you remember the feeling a dream gave you but can't quite pin down the details. All I remember is that Pam Ayres featured.
Then, towards the end, I suddenly had no idea what position my body was actually in, but it felt like I was standing up and bent into some awkward shape – back twisted, head turned right round. Not painful at all, but the fact I couldn't feel I was lying down was strange.

After the twisted body interlude, I sank back into the colour show. This was eventually interrupted by the sound of the door of the room opening, followed by various household noises. I gradually remembered that I lived in the real world. I had no memory of the beginning of the session, but had a vague feeling I didn't want to move.

'Have you nodded off?' said the therapist, handing me a glass of water.
'No ... just ... light great ... colours ... Pam Ayres feeling.'
'Have a drink.'
I had a drink of water, and sat up, feeling groggy but great. As I came round, I described the experience to the therapist, who seemed pleased with the result. I asked her to take a photo of me pretending to see colours.

'Thank you and goodbye, Doctor Haining,' I said as I left ... 'Hang on ... haven't I seen you before somewhere?'

Number 31

OK. With backing singers.

Sunday, 3 August 2014

Number 29 update

Bubble machine turned out disappointing - it just parps out a weak bubble every couple of seconds. But ... we hired a motor punt on the Thames, which was fantastic, and switched on the bubble machine during the trip. There weren't many bubbles, and they went in our eyes; it was hard to crop a photo to make it look like there were a lot of bubbles, and they were fun.

Saturday, 2 August 2014

Number 30

Everything hinges on the result of the test. Ideally, I will end up with an ambitious wishlist involving travelling the world and spending years mastering new activities. At worst, I might only have time to boil an egg and read half a newspaper.

OK ... here goes. Typing in that address has used up a good part of what I had left for a start. Right ...
... height in inches ... weight ... Do I expect to be married for most of my life? Well that depends on the result of the test. (Does it add or take away from lifespan? Presumably if you marry a young Moldavian woman when you're over 100, it could shorten/end it.)
What fitness quintile am I on? Well, I'm no oil-painting ... hang on ... no, it's exercise - I'll award myself a Q4 - might gain me an extra few years.
I reside in ... none of the US states you can choose from. I reside in don't know. Is that good or bad?
The driver of the automobile I most frequently travel in is sometimes/never/don't know drunk. This is getting bizarre.
OK, so ... none of the ten biggest stress-causing life events have happened to me in the last year, for which I'm very grateful.
I'm guessing I'm outside the 15% least depressed of the population, and I regularly wear a seatbelt on the way to my non-manual job, where I often have five food-types for lunch, which is less than ten per cent fat - that's a high-scoring flurry to finish with.

And I will live to ... (press button - camera zooms in on my sweaty, twitching face for twenty seconds) ... 86.64 years!

Well, I'm happy with that, although it will be a crushing blow to all future young Moldavian women, and I can only apologize to them. So that gives me another 36 years to fit in the five things which I will now start thinking about. Strangely, it's very close to my (living) dad's age now. Hope he's OK.

Number 29

We're off for a few days camping. There's a plain cardboard box in the boot of the car, with a folded slip of coloured paper with '29' on it. I open and read it.

Hmm. What could that be? Maybe it's one of these ...

I wouldn't mind, because I've had real problems with stagnation of the liver and hysteria recently. If I'm really lucky, could be a pair of these - practical and eyecatching ...

If it's one of these, I'm not going to use it - my cheek would never go back into shape!

I open the box with hands shakier than a Hamilton Beach Vibrator. Oh, it's a ...

Very unexpected. Never thought I'd own one of these. Although the picture on the box suggests it's a magnet for young blonde women, it strikes me more as something the childcatcher would have kept in his bag if he'd been born in the age of plastic.
I wonder what the suggestions are ...

I will have to play this with caution. At best, I could be treated with the same kind of suspicion as 50-year-olds who hire themselves out for children's parties as entertainers or mobile disco DJs. And using a bubble machine to lure young children into a bush could go quite badly wrong. I'm picturing an ashen-faced jury as a psychiatrist holds up the bubble machine in court (I might suggest that to the manufacturer as an alternative box image). I'll make sure that whatever I do, my wife and microscopic daughter are doing it too. 

Number 28

Claire hands me the new challenge when I get home from work.
OK then, I will. I have always wanted to eat lobster, as Claire knows, but it's too expensive. But Claire has got hold of a money-off voucher for Loch Fyne, so off we go. Sounds like more of a treat than a challenge to me, but I'm not complaining. She's pre-ordered my lobster. Here he is.
The chef gets to work - not one for the squeamish.
Ten minutes, later, it's there in front of me.
I just check with Claire that the challenge wasn't literally to eat the whole lobster, but just the normal, meaty bits, and I'm off.
Clearly a serious business - I'd held a smile for 23.2 seconds, waiting for the shutter to click.
And it's gone. A one-kilo lobster, inside me. Very nice too.