Saturday, August 07, 2004

The Player

Well, me-sa back!

I flew back from my fortnight's holiday in my Alsacian writer's retreat (i.e. staying rent-free at Fleur's parents) this afternoon, arriving some thirty minutes early, having arrived a net fifteen minutes after I left Basel, accounting for time differences. I was off the plane and through Passport Control within ten minutes, looking forward to the inevitable hour wait for my bags to arrive, when, hark! Incredibly, the baggage belt for my plane was announced within about five minutes, and doubly miraculously, my (only) bag was third off the plane and onto the belt. Yes, THIRD! This is too good to be true, I think to myself, if the taxi driver is on time, I'll be home by 2pm! Plane touchdown at 1.10pm, in the baggage hall by half-past, this couldn't be any better!

AN HOUR AND A HALF LATER... is there any sign of my taxi driver? Like fuck is there. Whenever I travel alone back from France the same thing happens - I get stiffed by my taxi firm. It's 3pm, I can't be arsed waiting anymore, and I'll be damned if I'm going to give £30 to a bastard who's kept me waiting at least an hour over the time I'd have expected him to be there. So I trot downstairs to the Bus stops and take the RailAir to Woking Train Station. It takes half an hour just to get out of the bloody airport, but at least I'm moving. Another half hour, and I'm stood at the taxi rank at Woking Train Station, sliding into the leather seats of a Peugeot 406 HDi, and finally within sight of home. I don't get home until nearly 4.30pm, but at least I've saved myself nearly a tenner on the Airport Taxi fare. Not much of a compensation for two lost hours, but enough to buy my beer for tonight.

Other than the debacle of the trip home, my holiday was relaxing as well as productive. I managed to write seven articles, including two Videogame Theory columns, a new Devil's Advocate that gives Max Payne a conceptual kicking, plus a reworking of my Star Wars: Supremacy 4000 word Opus Magnus, a slightly slimmer "concept" piece that recounts the tale of an Empire-side game of Supremacy in the style of Darth Vader Meets Bridget Jones's Diary. I think it's very edgy and very funny, but I'm horribly biased. It should be going up on the State website fairly soon.

Other than that, I managed to pick up DVDs of The Hudsucker Proxy (an American Import bought in a Swiss bookshop, of all places) and Barton Fink (a French Region 2 Special Edition, which thankfully has an English Soundtrack), a Moby CD (The Play B-sides CD), and in Heathrow on the way out, a 512MB Packard Bell Audiokey MP3 player (hence the post title) which I've only now had the PC equipment to test out.

An MP3 player has been on my "Want!" list for a while now, though I'd been holding out until I saw a 512MB USB player for less than £150, and this one, with the reduction in price due to no VAT in the airport, was only £115. I know that for a few quid extra I could probably bought a 4GB one, but my music collection isn't THAT extensive - and the whole point of getting a Flash based one is to put just a couple of hours of music on it based upon my mood - and really take advantage of the Plug 'n' Play, allowing Fleur to drag and drop tracks onto it when she goes running.

I can get about 150 WMA tracks onto it, which is just about right, both for my attention span and the diversity of my music collection, and the headphones have a nice strap and seem to be of decent enough quality. I'll have to go out tomorrow and get myself a supply of AAA Duracell Extra, as I can see it coming in handy when I'm writing, and maybe even at work. It's even quite sexy, to boot. Not quite as sexy as an iPod, perhaps, but even so, it's probably my best purchase of the trip - the two bottles of very fine claret at purchased at RIDICULOUSLY CHEAP French supermarket prices not withstanding.

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