Monday, 21 June 2010


As we turned the corner into the Sainsbury's car-park and I caught a glimpse of a stormtrooper sitting in the passenger sit of my friend's red mini, I knew it was going to be a very interesting day.

Saturday the 19th of June was the date of my stag event, and all I was 'supposed'to know about the day was that we were going somewhere and that there would be a Star Wars/sci-fi fancy dress theme. I say 'supposed' because my brother (one of my best men) had accidentally told me where we were going for the day; Legoland Windsor! I was a little disappointed that I wouldn't have the surprise on the day, but that quickly faded when I remembered; we're going to Legoland!

I had been told that a costume would be arranged for me, and so I stood nervously waiting for it to be revealed, as my friends turned up in their fancy dress. We had a couple of stormtroopers, Darth Vader, Yoda, Darth Maul, Obi Wan Kenobi, the Emperor, a rebel trooper, Buzz Lightyear and a ghost buster! Once everyone was there, my other best man Matt got my costume out; I was to be Princess Leia! My clothing consisted of a white dress (which was surprisingly comfortable) and two Danish pastries taped to the side of my head, meaning that for the whole day my face smelt like a bakery and I couldn't hear a thing!

Once we had all arrived at Legoland my tasks and challenges began. I had a list of items I have to try to obtain throughout the day, such as a used tissue, an AA battery, a piece of cheese and so on. I managed to get seven of the twelve things, which I think wasn't too bad. I also had to undertake some challenges, the biggest one being that I had to recite a poem I had composed during the car journey, containing certain words and phrases chosen by my best men. I have included it below for your literary interest, the prescribed content highlighted.

Lego, will you marry me?

I love Lego, it makes me want to spasm,
I love it so much, I might turn to ectoplasm,
As a young padawan, the blocks I would wield,
Building X-wings and TIE fighters, complete with deflector shields,
When I've got some Lego, I must report,
I feel like Luke, firing down the exhaust port,
I could be anywhere, even Calne Country Festival,
Cos when I've got Lego, I'm feeling best of all,
I'm going to build a Lego house, full of Lego apparel,
A Lego bed, a Lego chair, a basin and towel,
It could be in Crudwell, maybe in Hackney,
But what I need to know is, Lego, will you marry me?

Although I was the most unusually dressed (one mother told me that my costume will probably traumatize her children), I wasn't necessarily the person who got the most attention. Yoda was a favourite throughout the day, with many children wanting their picture taken with him, and a surprising amount of kids wanted to be killed by Darth Vader and the stormtroopers! It was also hilarious listening to people's reactions to our fancy dress, one dad turned to his son and said, "look, space guys!"

After spending the day being humiliated (but all in good nature) and thrown up in the air whenever anyone said the words 'Princess Leia", we all headed back to Calne and regrouped for a curry later on. A few more of my friends joined us for the meal, one turning up as a Darlek. We moved on to a local pub after the meal and watched a band play, before supposedly returning to my house to wind down the night.

When my brother returned to the living room after being absent for a good twenty minutes or so, I knew my final tribulation was upon me. I passively allowed myself to be blindfolded and led down the road to an awaiting car. After we had turned a couple of corners I had lost any sense of my surroundings, completely unaware of where we were heading.

Eventually I was taken out of the car, a stormtrooper helmet placed on top my blindfold to make doubly sure I had no clue of my location. We stood out in the cold on some grass for a while, my friends chuckling as I nervously chatted away to myself. Then we were on the move again, heading down a hill and then along a path, and stopping on some grass again.

Things got a little confusing at this point, as I was placed in a small inflatable boat and slid down a steep slope onto some water. All I could think was, how did we get to the beach so quickly? Once I had been pushed out into the water a little further I was told to take of the blindfold. I removed the mask and was instantly hit by a barrage of lemonade sprayed by my mates on the river bank. I sat in the dingy, soaked to the bone, only slightly recognising my surroundings (I wasn't wearing my glasses at this point) and wondering how on earth they had come up with this idea!

Once back on dry land, I looked around at the buildings and trees, still not quite sure where I was, even with my glasses on! Then I realised that we were in Chippenham, the next town over from mine, down where the river passes by the sports centre. Up until that point I had no idea at all where we were, a very unsettling a experience!

It was then time to head home, where I could finally shower the baked goods off the side of my face and remove the pink fairy tattoo from my forehead (one of the challenges from Legoland; sadly it didn't survive till the next day!).

So that was my stag day; Lego, pastry and watery kidnap experience! I have to say I really enjoyed the whole day. It was nice to face a few embarrassments and challenges but without it ever going too far. Thanks to Joe and Matt L for organising the whole thing, you did a fantastic job, and thanks to Adam, Dan, Ben C, Matt C, Matt H, Alex, Tim R, Chris, Tom, Tim S, Ben T, Mark and my Dad for joining in with an epic day. May the force be with you!

Tuesday, 15 June 2010


"Seriously guys, you've gotta sign up,” Will enthused. The young dark-haired student sat with his two companions in the university coffee shop, other groups sitting at the surrounding tables, the warm cosy room filled with conversation and laughter.

“I dunno,” remarked Emma, absentmindedly playing with her long blonde hair. “I've already got profiles on three or four sites and I used them all for about a month before getting bored of it.”

Absolute.Network is different,” replied Will, sipping his coffee. “You don't have to do anything accept create a profile. The programme assimilates all your information for you.”

How does that work?” questioned Henry, adjusting his glasses.

Well it uses your web cam to get your picture – ”

That's fairly obvious,” interrupted Emma, making Henry chuckle.

“ – but it also scans your surroundings and gathers the information needed to fill out your profile,” Will continued, ignoring her joke. “For example, I was doing some reading for my course last night, and when I checked my profile the programme had added my degree course to my personal info and had made a post about the exact book I was reading.”

Henry frowned.

That sounds a bit invasive.”

No, it's cool. There's loads of stuff in the regulations and rules that stops anyone from stealing your identity.”

Yeah, if you trust that stuff,” retorted his friend.

You're just too paranoid, Mister 'I change my email account every month',” said Will playfully, flicking a biscuit crumb at Henry, who dramatically pretended to be shot as it hit him, the trio laughing.

Maybe I'll give it a try,” said Emma thoughtfully.

Well, don't say I didn't warn you,” Henry said aloofly. “These things will take over your life.”

Entering his bedroom, Will took off his backpack and tossed it onto his unmade bed, sitting down at his desk with a sigh of relief. It felt good to get home. Surprising how three hours of lectures can really take it out of you. Almost like a really day's work. He turned on the monitor of his computer, the screen flickering into life. His Absolute.Network profile was gradually filling up with information, the 'hobbies and interests' area brimming with all the films, books and music he liked. Will smiled. So much easier than doing it all himself.

As he glanced at himself in the mirror something caught his eye. He stared at the reflective surface, confused. He was missing a freckle. He touched his face, his fingers passing over the place where the brown dot once was. Well, where he assumed it once was. Had it always been there? He turned back to the computer, scrutinising the image of his face on his profile page. There it was, just below his left eye. Maybe it was just a bit of dirt or a pimple, he thought, but in the back of his mind he knew it had been there for as long as he could remember.

A knock at the door startled him.

Hey Will, you there?”

Yeah, come in.”

The tousled curly-haired head of his house-mate Alex poked around the door.

We're going out for a curry, you wanna come?”

Um...yeah, alright,” replied Will, grabbing his jacket and following Alex out of the room, the missing freckle pushed to the dusty recesses of his mind.

Will climbed sluggishly back into bed, pulling the covers tightly around him. He felt terrible, completely drained. His house-mates had all made remarks about his colourless complexion when he had ventured downstairs for a slice of toast, urging him with concern to visit the doctor. He waved their anxiety away, asserting that he'd be fine in a day or two. It had already been three days since the illness had started however, and he couldn't even fool himself into thinking that he felt any better. He sank in and out of sleep, all the while his computer humming away in the background, a soothing electronic buzz.

He awoke, his bedroom shrouded in darkness, a shaft of streetlight dissecting the black space from between the parted curtains. An uncomfortable itching sensation covered his entire body, running from his head to his toes, like a thousand ants prickling his flesh. In the dimness he forced himself into a sitting position. He felt so weak. So tired. His head ached, his eyes dry and irritated. He scratched at his arms, the itch burning his skin. Something wasn't right. His skin felt...different, taut and cold. He laboriously swung his legs out of the bed and stood up, inspecting his body in the mirror.

The breath left his body as he caught sight of himself. His skin was completely featureless. No hair, no freckles, not a wrinkle or crease in sight, his body like a grotesque porcelain doll. A cry of fear escaped him as he saw his face. It looked like it had been sanded down to an almost faultless sphere, his nose reduced to a small lump, his mouth a smooth line, his eyes sinking into their sockets. His breath was shallow and fast, as if his lungs were being slowly crushed within him.

Then he saw the computer screen. Glowing in the black, it displayed his Absolute.Network profile picture. Not just a good match or a high-resolution digital copy, the image was perfect. His hair, his face, his imperfections and freckles; everything that was missing from his current mutated form. It was him.

Panic rushing over him, he stumbled towards the computer. He had to shut it down. He fell to his knees, his strength waning, head swimming, vision blurring. He reached out his hand, inching closer and closer, his finger brushing against the power button. Darkness enveloped him, wrapping him in unconsciousness. His body fell limply to the ground, motionless on the carpeted floor.

Emma and Henry sat in the coffee shop, mugs in front of them, a third mug in front of the empty place at the circular table. Henry checked his watch.

He's never this late,” he remarked.

You'd think he'd have told us if he wasn't coming,” Emma said, taking out her phone. She placed it against her ear, listening for a few seconds, then removing it. “No answer. I'll see if he's sent me anything on my profile.” She tapped the screen of her touch-phone, cycling through the menus and gadgets. “Nothing. I'll send him a message, he's always online.”

The End