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Corridor

As narratives go, this one was painfully predictable: the day after I decide to continue writing this blog I have nothing to write. I’m even unable to fabricate a vaguely interesting lie that I can pass off as today’s event, in two hundred words or more. Bone dry. Nothing. Allow me to recount my day in order to demonstrate what I mean:

I walked up to Beech Road – Chorlton’s supposed centre of Bohemia – this afternoon. It was quite nice, but hardly as trendy as billed. It is also very short and the majority of the pedestrians were walking dogs. I don’t like dogs. I had a San Miguel at a little tapas bar, bought some ginger from a grocers that almost exclusively stocks spoiled fruit and vegetables (apart from the ginger, of course – my initial reason for entering was to buy mushrooms), and had a bite to eat in a wonderful Thai restaurant called Thai Spice. I returned home to rest shortly after.

During my downtime, I had a gander at the Beech road website. It advertises every shop, bar, and restaurant in the locality, apart from the terrible grocers. I laughed.

Actually, that wasn’t so bad. I’ve written worse.

© 2011 Ashley J. Allen, All Rights Reserved

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Well, we got there. At times (i.e. most of the time) I doubted I would make it to this point alive, but here we are: today marks one whole year of daily blog posts*, and with it a decision as to the future of The Blank Page. The problem is, I still haven’t decided. Apologies to those who were eagerly anticipating such news (likely praying for a swift death). So, yeah, I don’t really know what to do.

In the absence of a conclusion I’m going to continue until I either run out of words entirely (though I suspect that occurred… ooh, about twelve months ago) or the blog organically evolves into a more appealing, sustainable, and structured form. I have veered from the dizzying highs of averaging thirty-three hits-a-day just two weeks ago to getting a depressing three views so far today. Since I perversely enjoy wallowing in my own misery, I will not rest until my readership has dwindled to zero. That is my new impetus, for the next day or so.

In other news, those who know me may remember that a few years back I wrote and was co-producing an independent feature film called Queensberry Rules. After about a year, the project unfortunately collapsed under its own weight. Last year, however, I was approached by Chris Detton – my former co-producer on the project – who wanted to purchase the rights to the script in order to produce it himself. I was more than happy to come to an agreement with him (the contract for which I vaguely alluded to a while back) since it seemed a waste for the story I created to remain in limbo.

I’ve kept quiet about the resurrected project during the early pre-production phase, but today Chris alerted me to an article about the film on the Daily Post website, so I feel more comfortable about releasing some information about the project. The new production team were eager to reshape my original idea into a crime thriller, so very little remains of my script – two scenes on last reading, but they may yet have been cut in further drafts – and the script has been redrafted by up-and-coming writing duo Paul Howard Hunt and Matthew J. Trow.

I believe that the production team are still casting and seeking other help, so if you are interested in getting involved, please contact Jo Lloyd either via e-mail at jolloyd_27@hotmail.com or by phone on 07595 422551. The film is to be directed by Roger Christian and shooting is slated to begin in October in the North Wales area.

* Though, confusingly, this is my three-hundredth-and-sixty-eighth post. I’m a bit confused as to where the extra post came from. Are WordPress counting my About page, or did I post twice in one day and forget? I need to know. Looks like I’m going to have to go through the blog, counting each post manually.

© 2011 Ashley J. Allen, All Rights Reserved

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As I was about to hop in the shower this morning, there was a vigorous series of knocks on the door. Being pretty naked, I hastily threw on some clothes. Bare-footed, with my t-shirt on inside-out and my fly unbuttoned, I opened the door to find a bald man with a dab of white paint on his chin:

“Alright. Andrew?,” said the paint-flecked man.

“No,” I croaked, still suffering due to the swollen scar tissue in my throat.

“Oh, do you rent?,” he enquired.

Slightly off-guard due to the early hour (it was almost 11:00), I replied, “Err… yes.”

(Shortly after, I wished I’d have jokingly challenged him with, Do you mean am I gay?. This is why I often make bad first impressions).

“Is Andrew in?,” he asked.

“There’s no Andrew here.”

“Oh, that’s odd. I fitted a new window here last week.”

Though I instinctively doubted myself, I informed him, “You really didn’t.”

Insistently, he queried, “Are you sure?”

After dismissing the idea that I may possibly have a blind spot for bald glaziers or secret housemates called Andrew, I clarified, “No, there’s no Andrew here, and you haven’t been in this house. Maybe it was one of the other houses,” I pointed down the road, “They all look pretty similar*.”

Slightly deflated, the man conceded, “Oh, OK. Sorry to bother you.”

“Not a problem.” I closed the door and buttoned my fly, a little too late.

Situations like this often elicit an undue sense of paranoia in me. Was this man genuinely mistaken, a complete nutbox, or was this exchange part of an elaborate scheme to rob me, kill me, and/or bum me? I also considered possible scenarios that were never at risk of occurring – what if he’d forced his way into the house? It’s not like I could have stopped him: regardless of the fact that he was quite a stocky chap, I’m a congenital weakling. I mean, I’ve been beaten up by girls – scrawny little girls. I can’t help my brain operating in this manner. As with most things, I seem to suspect that there is privileged information that I’m not party to and my subconscious enjoys filling in the gaps with stupid plots, creating stories where there are none. But why does my inner self insist to cast its external counterpart as the perennial victim? I don’t feel much like a victim, but maybe my subconscious disagrees.

* I live in a typical cul-de-sac comprising ten identikit houses.

© 2011 Ashley J. Allen, All Rights Reserved

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Red Eye

Dammit! There is already a computer game called Genocide, and it seemingly pre-dates my own concept. How did I not know this, despite not doing even rudimentary research? It’s true, there really is no such thing a new idea. At least I have a fall-back: a tea-brewing simulator. If you don’t see the value in such a game then you obviously fail to recognise the skill that goes into making a great cup of tea. You probably use Tetley tea bags and put the milk in first. You disgust me.

Speaking of Genocide (the game, not real genocide), my prediction was true: my readership has tailed off significantly since I foolishly unleashed that particular post. Whether there is a correlation, I’m not sure. I am currently pondering an even more controversial post in the near future just to test the idea. We are fast approaching the first anniversary of The Blank Page, so if I do decide to end it maybe that would be the most appropriate way. Ah, but if I finish there I will have no way of proving my hypothesis. I didn’t think this through.

Ugghh! Hattie just sneezed on me! If I get myxomatosis now I’m going to bleed all over her in the hope that she catches ME.

© 2011 Ashley J. Allen, All Rights Reserved

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During my recent afflicted period I have been assessing my use of time. There’s a term in economics: sunk costs. It refers to retrospective costs incurred that cannot be recovered. Like a failed investment, it has been spent; gone, no recourse. Apply that concept to time, specifically those days, months, and years that on reflection were squandered. How much time do we all pine over? The wrong turns, the miss-steps, the make-dos and the dead-end relationships. Instead of grieving over lost time consider it a speculative gamble. Thinking of my “wasted” time as simply sunk costs has allowed me to contextualise it more constructively. Instead of ruing past investments, I focus on future spending, just so long as I dispense that time wisely.

As the above may suggest, I’m still a tad unwell. I manage to temper that by producing a page of script, which also served to nullify the four hours I spent playing LEGO Batman. I can’t help it: the game keeps taunting me with a completion  percentage after every level, and I’m only on 74.6%. During my recumbent gaming, Hattie the rabbit once again imitated my every move. This time, I took photos. I couldn’t get close, though, as she would leap up every time I stood, hence the wide shots.

This was at 11:00:

Then at 13:00:

14:00:

And then at 16:00:

I’d quite happily watch her morph into the carpet all day. Another sunk cost? Money in the bank.

© 2011 Ashley J. Allen, All Rights Reserved

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Assay

I spent the evening in a Bangali restaurant called Coriander, where I celebrated my Birthday. Reports and reviews had led me to believe that Coriander is “the best kept secret in Manchester,” though by posting such a statement online it entirely contradicts their declaration. Regardless of technical oxymorons, I got the impression that Coriander had the potential to usurp The Great Kathmandu, my favourite curry house in the World, ever (or, at least, it was until they extended the premises: their previous high standards are struggling to be met with the increase in custom).

I spent dinner discussing (mostly with myself) my personal rating system. I usually rate out of ten, with ten set as an unattainable figure, the impossible ideal. Ten is perfection. I also avoid the risk of rating something 10/10 and then later encountering a candidate to surpass it. In my system, if I award a two or more things a mark of 9/10 then to differentiate them I can easily switch to a one-hundred point scale. For example, Primer, Dancer in the Dark, and Don’t Look Now are 9/10 on the ten point scale, but when I convert those scores to my hundred point scale Primer is on 91/100, Dancer in the Dark is 94/100, and Don’t Look Now is 93/100. Oh, I should also add that, on my hundred point scale, the highest possible score is 98/100, not 99/100. I’m not entirely sure I can articulate why, but ninety-nine feels uncomfortably close to one-hundred.

People assume it must be infuriating to be this anal, but it’s surprisingly fun.

Coriander earned 7/10.

© 2011 Ashley J. Allen, All Rights Reserved

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Mega Dive

While rearranging my console games* earlier today – in alphabetical order, of course – I noticed that I had quite a few, far more than I had thought. I came so very close to counting them, stopping myself rather self-consciously, but not before I was reminded of how, in my youth during my SEGA years, that number would be a status symbol, a glorious playground badge of honour. I seem to recall that my Mega Drive collection, at its peak, was over forty games, including Desert Strike, Speedball 2, Sensible Soccer, Streets of Rage II, all four Sonic the Hedgehog games. Back then I was so cool.

I convinced myself that I didn’t count the games as I had grown out of such trivial, childish materialism. The real reason is that, since I my Wii, PlayStation 2, and Xbox cannot compete with the heavyweight PS3 and Xbox 360, and in trying to brag I would only draw attention to the fact that I am barely in touch with seventh generation consoling (due to its graphical limitations, the Wii barely counts), underlining my age-and-finance-induced fall from grace. I mean, I still say Grand Theft Auto rather than abbreviating it to GTA like the cool kids do. I’m so glad I’m not eleven years-old still.

* I can’t bring myself to refer to them as video games. It sounds too vulgar.

© 2011 Ashley J. Allen, All Rights Reserved

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