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Tiswas Night 2008 - John C. Kirk

Aug. 19th, 2008

01:57 am - Tiswas Night 2008

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On Sunday I went up to The Horseshoe Inn in Wellingborough for "Tiswas Night". This was a themed evening, organised by one of my teammates from the World Custard Pie Championships, so there were various sketches/games in the beer garden as well as the official Tiswas cage (from the "Reunited" TV show). I had a really good time, so it was well worth the trip. I was back late, so I took today off work, which is why I'm posting so many blog entries!

If you're on Facebook, you can see various photos of the event, and there should be some video clips at some point. In the meantime, here are a couple of (cropped) pictures of me:

John at the news desk

At the "news desk" (reading out fake headlines with dire puns), just after someone threw a bucket of water over me. Apparently I'm just about to use my heat vision to warm up...

John dancing

Here's me strutting my funky stuff on the dancefloor, for "musical splatues" (musical statues with forfeits). I'm not much of a dancer; I did ok with choreographed stuff in musicals, and I learned the basics of ballroom dancing, but I don't really have the imagination/inspiration to be spontaneous at a disco. However, in this case it didn't have to be good, and I didn't mind looking silly, so I just went for comedy moves. I won that game, so I avoided the custard pies, but the prize was a trip to the cage.

There were a few people from the internet there, but it was mostly the pub regulars; they did a similar event last year, so it's becoming an annual tradition. They're all very friendly there, so if I lived in the area then I'd go along there more often. How many pubs do you know that have regular "Magic the Gathering" sessions?

The thing that struck me most about the event was just how normal and relaxed it all was. I realise that this type of thing is unusual, and most of my friends have outgrown it, so they tend to roll their eyes whenever I talk about it and I try not to bore people by going on about it. In a case like this (or the WCPC) I get to widen my social circle a bit, and have a good time without stressing about overstepping my boundaries. For instance, there was a "free for all" at the end of the evening, and people I'd never met were casually flanning me as they walked past, so I was quite happy to return the favour. Similarly, if someone's already covered in mess from head to foot, you can be reasonably sure that they won't get upset about a bit more.

As for the clean-up, in retrospect it would have been a good idea to take my wallet out of my back pocket before I went into the cage. (I put my watch/phone to one side.) Fortunately, banknotes and coins are pretty resilient. In fact, given that the gunge was ankle deep on the floor, I would have been better off removing my boots too, and just going barefoot. Aside from shoes, I took a complete change of clothes with me (and a towel!), so I hosed down my dirty clothes in the garden. Even triple wrapped in carrier bags, they still leaked a bit, but wrapping the whole lot in my towel kept it roughly under control. I put those clothes through the laundry today, and they came out ok, although I've been picking feathers out of my underwear. That's not quite as dodgy as it sounds! There were some feathers on my T-shirt which got transferred to other clothing in the washing machine.

This then ties into a wider idea: I think that the key to happiness is "don't do anything that you'd be ashamed for your friends to know about". That doesn't mean that you should only do things that your friends approve of, or agree with; for instance, some of my friends don't drink alcohol, so I might be less likely to drink when I'm with them, but I don't hide the fact that I drink in general. So, rather than saying "Would this bother them?", it's more a case of "Would it bother me if they knew about this?"

If you do have secret hobbies, there are then two ways to deal with that. Firstly, you could stop doing it, in which case you won't feel guilty, or worried about other people finding out, but you're also making yourself a bit more miserable. Alternately, you can be open about it. That doesn't mean you have to bore people, or give them more information than they'd like (e.g. Twittering about the details of your bowel movements), it just means you do what you do and answer questions if they arise.

Similarly, you don't have to share things with the whole world; I've made quite a few blog posts which only my friends can see. However, I tend to agree with xkcd (again!) about my future job prospects; if a prospective employer turned me down because I have a Spider-Man costume then so be it. So, I find that it makes life easier if I go by my real name on the internet, rather than fragmenting myself into several online identities and maintaining pseudonyms. Really, it's about bringing my public and private image into congruence. (Hopefully that doesn't sound too pretentious!)

Taking a practical example of this, a few years ago I bought a fedora from HatsDirect.com. I specifically ordered it for a party that had an Indiana Jones theme, although it didn't arrive in time for that, and I thought it was a pretty cool looking hat anyway. However, when it did arrive, I then felt a bit self-conscious about actually wearing it in public; it looks good on Indy, but it's unusual to see people wearing hats like that on the street (the only common ones are baseball caps/hoodies, or beanies in the winter).

I could have just left the hat in my room, and never worn it outside (or waited for the next fancy dress party), but I think that if I'd done that then the longer I'd waited the harder it would become to get up the nerve to wear it. So, rather than just being an unusual piece of clothing, it would be The Hat, looking accusingly at me every time I came home. Instead, I wore it into work a couple of days later. When I got on the train I felt as if people were staring at me, and I was half-expecting them to start pointing/laughing, but actually nothing happened, so after a while I relaxed. When I got into work a couple of people did double-takes and said "Nice hat!", but that was all. The same thing when I went along to another event after work in the evening.

You may well have seen me wearing it, although I don't have photos; I tend not to take photos of myself, so the pictures you get of me are pretty much dependent on who else is around. I don't wear it all year round, because it doesn't handle rain/snow very well, but I do wear it quite often in the summer, and the theory is that it will look better once it's a bit battered and "worn in".

So, this type of thing actually works quite well as a confidence building exercise. As some of you know, I've been trying out online dating recently, and I'm taking a similar approach there: I'm quite upfront about the fact that I have shelves full of Star Trek novels, and if that puts people off then so be it. Really, it's all about growing up, and deciding what type of person I'm going to be.

As a meta note, I was in the middle of typing this when I got redirected to someone else's LJ post from 28th May ("Leo's Howls"). Has that happened to anyone else?