Poltergeist

No jokes, no twist in the tale, this is the true story of the freakiest thing that has ever happened in my life.

In the early-1990’s, I rented a small terraced house for 6 months in the beautiful small town of Haworth in West Yorkshire. I won’t tell you the name of the street because I know what you are about to read, however, here is a picture. I lived about half way up on the right-hand side.

Sand Street Haworth

When I first moved in, the landlady gave me a little tour of the old house. It was very small with a tiny entrance behind the front door and a living-room with a micro-cooking area at the back. There was a double bedroom on the first floor and another smaller spare bedroom in the attic. From the kitchen area, there was a door leading to stone steps down to a dark, musty cellar. It stored some old brooms, some essential tools and spider-web covered wine bottles. It was the first of only two occasions I ever went down there.

Every house has its own sounds, and I eventually became used to what was normal. As the months went by, I became increasingly aware of other strange sounds. Floorboards would creak in the middle of the night, the door leading to the attic would slam at unexpected times and every time I checked, it was closed solid. I would occasionally feel a temporary breeze flow through my bedroom, and yet all windows and doors would be closed, there were no vents in the walls. These events were more frequent when my 3-year-old son stayed with me. I have no idea why but that was an undeniable fact.

Those who know me will understand there is a logical scientist inside, trying to get out. I have little time for UFO enthusiasts, ghost-hunters and anyone attempting to convince me about religious creation theories. It is for this reason that what I’m about to tell you cannot be dismissed as the ramblings of someone who wants to believe in the unbelievable.

Towards the end of my six-month tenancy, the strange unexplainable happenings had escalated to daily occurrences. I admit I always thought it was an odd house but at no point was I ever worried or scared. My son was not with me on this one particular night. I was awoken at around 4 am with a loud bang in the kitchen right beneath me. I genuinely thought there was a burglar downstairs, so I hurled myself out of bed, out of the bedroom, launched myself down the stairs in the darkness and burst into the living room/kitchen. High on adrenaline, I turned the light on ready for a confrontation, but there was no-one there. I scanned the room, even looked behind the settee in case someone was hiding, but I was on my own.

I checked the front door, the only way into the house – it was locked – then returned to the living room. Somewhat puzzled I walked into the kitchen, and my heart literally skipped a beat; that’s when I noticed the weirdest thing I’ve ever witnessed. On the draining part of the kitchen sink was a wooden chopping board. Slammed into the board was my super-sharp bread knife, recreated in the picture below. It was swaying from side-to-side.

Chopping board and knife

I had not used that knife in the days leading up to that night, nor had I ever kept the wooden chopping board on the sink. I looked to my right and saw that the door to the cellar was ajar by about three inches; it had been shut since the day I moved in.

Now I admit that at this point I was starting to worry. Using more force than I thought I would have to, I extracted the bread knife from the chopping board pushed open the cellar door and turned the light on before descending, holding the knife in front of me. It was only a small area, and all I could see was the broom, the tools and the spider-webbed wine bottles. There was no other way in or out.

I cannot explain the events of that night. I promise you there was no alcohol involved that might have clouded my judgement and there’s absolutely no exaggeration for story-telling effect. A few days later, I handed the keys back to the landlady. Of course, I recounted these events to her but she just smiled in puzzlement and said that she’d never experienced anything like it while living there herself, her previous tenants had never mentioned anything either. She probably thought I was a nutter!

 

20 Degrees of Separation

I recently had a ‘light bulb moment’, not about light bulbs, but about toilet paper. [Now there’s a sentence that I’m willing to bet has never been written before!]

Before I explain my idea, it is important to clearly state one major assumption that this blog post relies entirely upon. When toilet paper is used, two sheets are stripped from the roll and folded across the perforations in the centre. This has already ruled out any interest from one of my daughters who, after wondering why my toilet paper expenses were so high, I discovered wiped herself by taking about 12 sheets and wrapping it around her entire fist for fear of having to touch any of her own undesirable matter.

This is a diagram, to scale, of two sheets of toilet paper, the black line down the middle indicating where the perforations are.

Paper 0 degrees

When folded evenly, I can tell you that the length is 12.3 cm and the width is 10.2 cm, resulting in a total surface area of 125.46 square cm. It occurred to me that it is not necessary that the whole of that surface area needs to be a double-sheet thickness, but you still need that security of the bulk of the area being thicker. Can you tell I’m desperately trying not to be crude in my descriptions here?

Here is my idea. Instead of creating those perforations perpendicular to the paper edge, why not cut them at an angle? 20 degrees from that perpendicular seems perfect to me, as per the diagram below, again drawn to scale. The cutting process should alternate between a 90-degree perpendicular cut and a 20-degree cut (this is actually 70 degrees from the paper edge).

Paper 20 degrees

This is what the shape looks like then the paper is folded using the angled perforations.

Paper 20 degrees folded

The dark blue area is double thickness, and the pale blue sections represent single sheet thickness. If you hold the paper by the folded edge, then the single sheet parts are situated on the outer edges of the “action areas”. I have calculated using the formula for determining the area of a triangle (0.5 x base length x height) that this configuration of the end shape increases the surface area by 39 square centimetres. That’s a whopping 31.09% extra surface area, created by simply cutting perforations at a 20-degree angle!

Now, if you were Mr Andrex and you were presented with this idea, would you:

  1. Market it as a gimmick,
  2. Market it as an innovation that provides over 30% more efficiency,
  3. Cut the volume of paper used per sheet and therefore reduce raw material costs while still providing the same useful surface area?

I suspect I know the answer.

If I Were in Charge of FIFA – Part 1, Realistic Solutions

As a youngster, I used to love football, really love football, in fact, I was probably in love with football. My interest has declined over the last decade to the point where, after virtually every broadcasted match I watch, I end up saying to myself, “Well that’s another 2 hours of my life I’ll never get back”.

There are many reasons for this, the main one being the attitude of the overpaid prima-donnas who happen to be blessed with a modicum of soccer skills and are only in the sport to allow them access to a Z-list celebrity lifestyle. High profile players are judged not so much by what they can do with a ball but by the volume of tabloid column inches commanded by their wives/girlfriends, the “swag in their WAG”.

As a general observation, players these days have no club loyalty, and the ludicrously high transfer fees mean that any person in their right mind would grab the opportunity to part company with their employer. Those transfer fees and wages are in turn funded by ridiculously high admission fees and merchandise costs, so ultimately your ‘average Joe’ is financing this entire culture. While all this irritates me beyond belief, I do not think this is the reason for my level of disinterest; the truth of the matter is that the majority of games involve a feat of endurance just to get through the sheer boredom.

Sleeping-football-fan-640x400

Imagine returning home from an afternoon at the footie and your partner asks you if it was a good game. You reply, “it was one of the best nil-nil draws I’ve seen for a long time”. “We were all over them”. “We had at least four shots on target”. “Two players were booked for pushing each other near the touchline”.  “The ref was blind”. “We should have had a penalty”. “Our manager nearly blew a gasket on the touchline”. By the time you finished, your partner has already stifled a few yawns and is thinking about what’s on TV later.

I don’t like it when people moan about stuff and offer no kind of solution to the problem, so the remainder of this article will focus more specifically on the things that bug me and what can be done to make the situation better. Modern day culture makes it difficult for players in the higher echelons of the game to change their egotistical attitudes, but the rules of the game could be modified for the better to provide more entertainment for the paying customer; so, if I were in charge of FIFA…

Match Time

A professional football match is 90 minutes plus injury time but the average English Premier League game has the ball in play for just 63 minutes. You wouldn’t buy a pint of milk, open it and find a third of a pint is missing so if you pay to watch 90 minutes of football you should get 90 minutes of football. Whenever a free kick is awarded anywhere near the penalty area, it takes around 60 seconds just to discuss tactics, get the wall sorted out and wait for the referee to spray his can of squirty cream. That’s one ninetieth of your admission fee watching everyone fart about, immediately and invariably followed by someone hoofing it over the crossbar and into the crowd. There is a simple solution, STOP THE CLOCK WHEN THE BALL IS NOT IN PLAY! Even if a match is cut down to 80 minutes playing time, you would still get greater value for money… and there would be no need for arguments over the length of injury time.

Shepherding the Ball Out Of Play

You see it happen in every single match; the ball is passed to a team member, and as it trickles towards the touchline a defender is able to get between the ball and the attacker, and shield it with no intention whatsoever of making a play. As a defender, the purpose is to gain your side a throw-in or a goal-kick but what is happening here is a blatant obstruction. Fans want to see players challenging for the ball, not to see players stopping others challenge for the ball. The same applies to that ridiculous charade towards the end of a game when a team in the lead deliberately head toward a corner flag and attempt to protect it with no intention of being positive. Solution? Award a free kick against the offender, simple.

Negative Play

The primary objective of the game of football is to score goals. The goalposts are deliberately placed at the end of the pitch where your team is facing, so why do teams spend so much time passing the ball in the opposite direction? One of the best rule changes introduced in relatively recent times was disallowing the goalkeeper from picking the ball up if it was passed intentionally by a player in his own team. This doesn’t, however, stop most professional teams from retaining possession by tip-tapping the ball back and forth across the line of defenders, which often includes the goalkeeper, for minutes at a time. This is against the spirit of the game. I will never forget my Dad refer to Ray Wilkins as “the master of the square ball” because he only ever passed it sideways; he nearly fell off his chair when Wilkins passed FORWARD to an attacker during an England World Cup match in 1982. Michael Carrick can be tarred with the same brush and virtually every Premier League back four are guilty of this shameless possession-retaining tactic. There are of course many modern day players who at least attempt to move the ball forward at every opportunity, but we do seem to be missing that level of drive and energy provided by the likes of Bryan Robson, Paul Gascoigne, Johan Cruyff, Diego Maradona, George Best and Carlos Tevez.

In basketball when a team starts with possession, they are given 30 seconds to attempt a shot. Why not give a football team say 15 seconds to propel the ball into the opponent’s half and then award a free kick against any team deliberately passing the ball back to a teammate in their own half?

Bookings

I have a real problem with deliberate foul play. The yellow card given to players often does not benefit the team that has suffered unless a persistent offender is sent off when they receive two yellow cards. I know there is a totting up system where a player can be suspended for receiving too many yellow cards, but all that does is penalise that player in a future game where a manager can plan for that player’s absence. The answer to this problem is again very simple, send a player off the pitch to a sin bin for 10 minutes so that the team that has been fouled receives some immediate benefit. They have this system in rugby league, rugby union, ice and field hockey, handball, basketball, etc. A red card offence should still be a complete sending-off for the remainder of the game.

Oh, and if a player wants to take his shirt off and whirl it around like a helicopter blade after scoring a goal then let him (or her!); in what world is that a bookable offence?

The Offside Rule

The great Dutch striker, Marco van Basten, suggested we should remove the offside rule completely from the game of football. He was somewhat lambasted on social media for such a radical change to this ‘beautiful game’. If you think about it, you will come to the conclusion he is absolutely correct. The offside rule causes lots of controversy, and it is tough for the officials to get it right 100% of the time. It is far too often the topic of conversation between TV pundits when reviewing the key events in a match. While scrapping the offside rule altogether would eliminate these minor problems, it would actually resolve one major one. If you were to watch a game from a helicopter above the ground, you would find that, apart from the two goalkeepers, the majority of the action takes place in the middle third of the field; what’s more, all the remaining 20 players are amassed into that small section of the pitch. I attended a match a few years ago where there were so many people packed into the middle that whenever there was a goal kick, it inevitably resulted in a game of head tennis. Forwards cannot go beyond the defender’s backline for fear of being offside, but if there was no offside rule and they can go wherever they like, then the players would spread out across the pitch leaving more space for the talented players to show their skills and the public to be entertained.

Video Technology

Other professional sports incorporate modern technology to get on-field decisions correct. Cricket and tennis have ball-tracking simulations; both forms of rugby and other sports also have video replay technology for the top games. The argument against this is that play is disrupted, and the flow of the match is halted but, in truth, these decisions take no more than 30 or 40 seconds, and the most correct and fair result is applied. Some argue that this builds up the drama for both the TV viewer and, where there are giant screens available, to the supporter in the ground. When you consider how much time is spent arguing over whether or not decisions were correct, what is an extra 40 seconds during the match time? Of course, the game clock is stopped during this scrutiny by a 4th official, so no one is disadvantaged. Penalty incidents, bookings, deflections for corners and close offside decisions could all be impacted. I would recommend that video technology could be called upon at any time by the referee, but also optionally once per half by each team, and the request is not lost if the challenge is subsequently successful. FIFA should adopt video technology now, fact!

Diving

Feigning injury to get another player booked is almost as bad as fouling an opponent. The excruciating agony etched across the faces of players who have received the merest of taps on the ankle or an awkward-looking fall following a collision defies belief. Two minutes later, they can be seen running around like young puppies. Pack it in, it is cheating. A yellow card, a fine and a sin bin will solve this.

Backchat/Respect

Match officials are not corrupt. No one is saying they are perfect and make the correct decision every time, but they do the best job they can for a fraction of the pay awarded to the players. They must still, however, be respected; every decision they make is in good faith and does not warrant backchat, questioning or, in the worst cases, insulting verbal abuse. Players and managers must respect all the match officials.

Long Penalties

Some offences, particularly those in the penalty area, are more serious than others. A blatant foul to prevent a scoring opportunity or maybe a deliberate handball on the goal-line are typical examples of the standard penalty situation. Accidental handling of the ball or maybe a bit of mild shirt-tugging could warrant a “long penalty”, this is just like a normal penalty kick except taken from anywhere on the white line defining the penalty area with just the goalkeeper to beat.

 

I firmly believe that all the ideas suggested in this article are realistic and with a few open minds and a willingness to experiment, FIFA could give great consideration to them. Maybe, sat in their ivory towers, the powers that be have already discussed similar rule changes and dismissed them for now?

It’s time for a bit of fun through some more radical thinking. Please continue to the second article in this two-part analysis to see the possible effect of some new rule changes along with a worked example from the recent Huddersfield v Reading 2017 Championship play-off final.

Beard

I won’t bore you with details of what I do for a living; it’s IT development, that’s all you need to know. Deadlines play a major part in my planning, and last Friday was the scheduled delivery day marking the culmination of a six-month project. At the start of the week, there was still much work to do and many hours to spend. I knew I needed to be focused.

As a personal incentive, on the previous Sunday, I made the decision not to shave until the project was delivered. The decision didn’t make much sense to my wife, Angela; if I’m honest, it didn’t really make much logical sense to me either. I don’t particularly like having facial hair; if it’s not good enough for the top of my head, it’s not good enough for my chin! The glorious moment to be attained just after removing the offending growth was to be my motivation. The sooner I finished the project, the sooner that glorious moment would arrive.

I work at home so no one, apart from my family and my mirror, was subjected to this unkempt appearance. As the days progressed through the working week, my look went from lazy to dishevelled to downright scruffy.

Earlier this year, my son, Craig, grew a beard. He visits home every two or three months, but we still catch pictures of him on Facebook. The first time we saw a photo of him with a beard, we could barely recognise him. I genuinely thought he must have lost a bet with one of his mates. We have since become used to his new appearance and begrudgingly admit that it probably suits him. It’s the way that young men in Britain seem to be going these days. My only concern is whether it snags on his snooker cue when taking a shot.

Back to me (well, it is my blog after all). By Thursday, my chin started to look like Tim Metcalfe on Coronation Street; the top of my head does, too, but that’s another story. I only mention this because I noticed that in an episode on Wednesday, Tim set off in his taxi with stubble that looks like mine and arrived at his destination with just a single-day growth. It was either a continuity error, or Tim kept a battery razor in his glove compartment.

My project was delivered early on Friday evening. The photograph below shows my chin just a few hours before the aforementioned ‘glorious moment’ arrived, and I was able to remove it.

Stubble

From the outside, I fully accept this is a raggedy, unattractive, tramp-like appearance and one which my friends and family have rarely seen. I look like a cross between Worzel Gummidge and ZZ Top. From the inside of my face, for a few fleeting moments, I considered it as a classic bit of designer stubble… I am, however, glad it has gone.

Boiler Camouflage

I have always wondered what the point is in having children if you can’t have some fun at their expense. Last week, it was time to extend the theory; what is the point in having parents if you can’t have some fun at their expense?

My dear old Mum had a new boiler fitted on the wall of her kitchen, beside the sink. There is scope here for an “old boiler” joke, but I’ll let it pass because I love her too much. The boiler had some unconcealed pipework beneath it; Mum thought it was a bit of an eyesore. She asked me if I could look on “that Internet thing” to see if I could find anywhere that sold some kind of prebuilt casing that could be used to hide such a visual monstrosity. It had to be something removable so that she could clean behind it and, more importantly, access the tap should the water pressure need to be increased.

She gave me the measurements, and I did some web searching. I found a couple of companies, but any prebuilt casings were the wrong sizes so our only option would have been to have an expensive bespoke job carried out, perhaps by a joiner.

It was time for a bit of fun. I found an old empty TV box at home and cut it to the exact measurements. I deliberately picked out the most garish colours to be positioned on the visible side; they look great on a TV delivery box but would not look so great when situated underneath a white boiler.

Technika Image

The corners were fixed with a tacky piece of Sellotape, and I took the hideous contraption to her house. Acting in a way that could only be likened to the great Sir John Gielgud, I told Mum I had solved her problem and positioned my invention underneath her boiler. It fitted perfectly but looked like a carbuncle on the backside of humanity. For 5 minutes, I pretended to be very proud of my handiwork, knowing that she wouldn’t want to hurt my feelings by offering her opinions on this piece of garbage.

The intention was to come clean and throw it straight in the bin. When it came to that point, Mum said that it was OK and to leave it there for now. At this point, I thought I was the one being wound up which brings me back to my very first point, what is the point in having children if you can’t wind them up? I guess I’m still their child, after all.

When I revisited my parents a few days later, I was stunned to see what my artistic 79-year-old mother had done. She had taken my TV box, turned it inside out and covered the exterior in white sticky-back plastic which she had hoarded away back in the 1970s next to the Fairy Liquid bottles to keep up with the latest Blue Peter trends. [Seriously, who keeps sticky-back plastic?]. She then found some white plastic edging – probably left over from a 1980s MFI flat-pack cabinet – and connected that to the top and bottom of the box. Finally, she found some Velcro stickers which she used to connect it to the posts on the wall underneath the boiler so that it would stay in place and yet be removable. Here is a photo; amazing eh?

Mum's Boiler

For once, I’m happy that my joke backfired. Maybe there is a business opportunity here? It’s possible that she took her inspiration from the days when she attended the same art school at the same time as David Hockney. As a postscript, and partially unrelated to this blog, here is a picture of her latest painting which I call “Wet Westminster”. I’m very proud of her.

Mum's Painting, Wet Westminster

 

The Adventures of the Boy with the Bear with the Blanket

For this week’s blog, I thought I would break with tradition and venture into the world of children’s stories. Inspired by my Grandson, Harry, here is a short story aimed at 3 to 6 year olds.

Pizza Time

Henry is a very cute little blond boy.

Henry

Henry’s best friend is a little bear called “Bear, Bear”, a bear so good they named him twice.

Bear Bear

Bear Bear’s best friend is a cheeky little blanket.

Blanket

Henry, Bear Bear and Blanket went to New York, New York, a city so good they named it twice.

New York New York

New York New York is a very big place, and after walking all day, Henry felt hungry. Looking for somewhere to eat, they found a pizza restaurant called “Pizza Pizza”, a restaurant so good they named it twice.

Pizza pizza Restaurant

A rather charming waiter sat the three friends at a nice table and asked Henry what he would like to eat. Henry asked for a pizza.

Pizza

“What would you like on top of your pizza?” the waiter asked. Bear Bear replied “Another pizza!!”

Pizza pizza

“And what topping would you like on that pizza?” Blanket said, “Another pizza!!!” So they were served their triple-decker pizza.

Pizza pizza Pizza

A man at another table to the right was about to order his food, looked across and said: “Yum, I’ll have what they’re having”. A lady on the table to the left was also about to order, she said: “Yum, I’ll have what they’re having”. Soon EVERYONE in the restaurant was eating triple-decker pizzas.

Henry went to pay for their meal, and the manager came over and said they did not have to pay. In fact, the pizza was so good that they would add it to their menu, but it needed a name.

Italian Waiter

Bear Bear said, “Call it the ‘Pizza Pizza Pizza’”… so they did, a pizza that was so good they named it THREE TIMES.

Pizza pizza Pizza

Nine Lives

Something recently reminded me of a short story I wrote over 20 years ago. It was handwritten on a long lost scrappy piece of paper but using the same idea I decided to rewrite it for this blog. I hope you enjoy it.

 


Nine Lives

The year was 2424. All wars between countries and religions had virtually ceased; the human race had to act collectively to combat a mass, worldwide alien invasion. For centuries, there had been increased sightings of alien craft for the governments of the world to accept the threat could not be ignored. They pulled together, agreed on peaceful settlements and combined all efforts to a global defence strategy.

The alien beings were desperate to colonise our planet due to the exhaustion of their own natural resources; the already overpopulated Earth had insufficient assets to sustain multiple lifeforms. After weak attempts to negotiate settlements, the foreign lifeforms had no option but to endeavour to wipe out humanity and take over the Earth for the survival of their species.

The human race appeared to have little to fear. While the aliens had sophisticated spacecraft, the living beings were small, slow-moving lifeforms with limited intelligence; they were no match for a human being if it ever came to 1 to 1 combat and their versions of weapons were the equivalent of peashooters in comparison to the more advanced Earth defence artilleries. They did, however, have two advantages: firstly, they could breed very quickly, resulting in huge numbers already adapting to life in the Earth’s atmosphere; and secondly, they were disease-ridden, harbouring infections which had no impact on their own lifeform but were deadly to humans.

The aliens had to be controlled, ideally eliminated altogether. Humans lived in vast controlled zones, protected by giant magnetic shields which were virtually impenetrable. With ever-increasing extra-terrestrial numbers, there was a danger that those shields might not last forever. As a consequence, daily efforts were made across the globe to cull the invaders and keep the numbers to manageable proportions.

Surveillance vehicles called “Thundercats” were sent on patrol, leaving the safety of the controlled zones to seek out the intruders and kill on sight. The Thundercats were fast-moving, multi-terrain armoured tanks with their own mobile magnetic defence shields capable of withstanding a small atomic bomb. The aliens were not difficult to find, they would plod towards the tanks with a single-tracked, zombie-like dedication and no plan of how to attack. They could be killed with a single shot, and their bodies would decompose within days. The patrol missions were more like cleaning-up exercises than acts of war.

 

Spencer Invictus was a much-decorated and highly respected Captain in charge of a small specialist team managing the patrols. He was the youngest man ever to be assigned the position of Captain, and his operational knowledge of the Thundercat surveillance tanks was second to none. On February 1, 2424, he turned up for his usual working day at the “Station”, the simple name given to the depot which was the home to hundreds of war machines. He said goodbye to his 13-year-old brother who loved to be in his company and entered his Thundercat for a two-hour shift.

Gliding effortlessly across the barren terrain outside the human zone, he successfully sought out dozens of cumbersome alien land vehicles and even more of the sluggish creatures. He felt no remorse as he blew them all to smithereens with the minimum of effort. In his eyes, it was simply a job to be carried out. He used to say that he very much enjoyed his job; there was something therapeutic about eliminating evil and ridding the world of these dangerous creatures.

He had just started his return journey back to the Station when something odd caught his eye. The skies rapidly darkened and his dashboard control panel began to flicker. Unconcerned, he opened the communication channels back to the main Station switchboard. “Delta, Alpha, Gamma, over.” No answer. “Delta, Alpha, Gamma. Come in, over”. No answer. The override amber alert setting was activated on his dashboard, but still, the skies darkened.

Additional attempts to communicate with the Station or indeed other surveillance vehicles met with similar failure. He still did not know what was happening but was sufficiently concerned to set the override red alert setting and then accelerated the Thundercat to its maximum speed. Shortly afterwards, the cause of the darkened skies became apparent; an alien Mothership, the size of 14 football pitches, arrived directly overhead turning daylight into virtual night-time.

Spencer weaved his vehicle as fast as he could towards base when he noticed the eight super drones hatching from the Mothership. They completely surrounded the Thundercat, and in an instant, before Spencer had a chance to re-adjust his vehicle missiles to point to the air, each super drone, in turn, unleashed cutting-edge laser weaponry. According to the monitor, the attacks depleted the shield’s defences by 12½% each time. Within 30 seconds, all the drones had unleashed their maximum destruction.  The Thundercat’s first eight lives had been cruelly taken, it was left to the Mothership to deliver the final ninth blow to a terminally weakened vehicle. It seemed to delay the inevitable, almost savouring the moment.

Inside the ‘Cat’, there were no remaining weapons, no movement capabilities, no power apart from an emergency override to feed the computer, and no hope. As the cockpit temperature rose to critical proportions and a bright white light covered the whole area, Spencer screamed his final act of defiance, “Come on then, just do it”.

In the last moments of life, the first part of the brain to die controls all the day-to-day decision-making processes and body movements. After this, the middle part of the brain which stores all memories takes control; this is why people say your life flashes before you. In his last fleeting moments of life, Spencer thought , in reverse order, about when he set out on patrol, how he left his young brother playing in the Station, the day he started work and went out on his first patrol, a brief fight he had whilst at school and his first day at nursery. As his eyelids were about to shut for the very last time, he glanced at his monitor which fizzed, crackled, went black and then, for a split second, displayed two words…

..

..

..

..

..

..

..

 

“GAME OVER”

 

Tom put the PlayStation controller down on the coffee table and searched for the disc labelled, “Tomb Raider”.

Meanwhile, in another corner of the interconnected web-enabled virtual world, a Japanese teenager from Downtown Shibuya, Tokyo, who controlled a Mothership, took the option to save his game, another level successfully navigated.

..

..

..

 

 

Did you spot the subliminal clues?

  1. Spencer Invictus = “Space Invaders.”
  2. Delta, Alpha, Gamma, over = “Game over.”
  3. Spencer’s brother played in the Station = “PlayStation.”