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What’s in a Name?

May 28, 2013 8 comments

Daily Prompt: Say Your Name – Write about your first name: Are you named after someone or something? Are there any stories or associations attached to it? If you had the choice, would you rename yourself?

Alistair. That’s my name. My first name in full.

It’s rarely used. It’s quite long and cumbersome. Three syllables. I tend to shorten it to “Ali”, hence my blog name, draliman  – Dr. Ali (man), as I explained here.

I don’t think there’s a particular story behind my name. I seem to recall my parents telling me that they quite liked it and I ended up with a hybrid spelling. My Mum is Scottish and the true Scottish spelling is (I think) “Alasdair”. My Dad is English (aargh, sorry Dad, Cornish!) and a more English spelling is “Alister”. I ended up with a mixture of the two (but still a perfectly valid spelling).

Obviously people spell it many ways. I’m not generally too bothered unless it’s an official document.

My parents are pretty much the only people who always use my full first name. And, funnily enough, me – when I’m on the phone. You would too, if your phone calls always went like this:

“Hi, Ali here!”

“Hi there, Alan!”

At school, the bullies called me “Roland”, after a character in a BBC childrens’ drama of the time, Grange Hill.

Me and Roland

I’m on the right, taken in Germany in 1985.
Photo of Roland copyright BBC, I would assume.

Do you see the resemblance? If I could find a picture of me at school (my Mum has all of those), you’d see that we’re almost the spitting image of each other.

Damn those NHS spectacles (and all the chocolate bars I ate).

I wouldn’t change my name. Because it’s me.

I could always go by something macho like “Jake Bullet“, mind.

Holo beam me up warptastic

May 26, 2013 9 comments

Daily Prompt: The Next Big Thing – What will the next must-have technological innovation be? Jetpacks? Hoverboards? Wind-powered calculators?

Ant or computer?

An ant – or a mobile quantum computing device?
Photo – Fir0002/Flagstaffotos (see below for full details)

It’s going to be quite boring, is what it’s going to be. It’ll make a big difference to us, but we won’t care about the technology. I’m thinking quantum computing and storage or some such thing. We’ll have ultra fast computing with thousands of terabytes of storage in a computer the size of an ant, but we’ll just view it as “the next generation of computer – about time it arrived, what are those scientists thinking, taking so long?”. Hey, we could mount these new computers in an ant for computing on the move.

What about the examples in the Prompt? Jetpacks? Dated. Tried it, didn’t work, move on. Hoverboards? Very “Back to the Future”. Wind-powered calculators? Ooh, yes, I want one of those. Please? Pleeeease?

How about the “next big thing we really want” instead? Or to be more specific, what I really want.

Molecular transporters. There’s the thing. Beam me up! Forget hours standing in airports. We can spend hours queuing for an international beaming instead. London to New York in 3 seconds (please arrive 3 hours prior to departure, check-in closes 1 hour before). Marvellous!

Now we’ve got travel sorted out, how about entertainment? Some sort of “deck” using “holograms”. We’ll call it… a “Holodeck”! Yes, what an idea!

We’ll also be needing to explore the universe, find new planets to live on. We’ll be wanting to “boldly go where no man has gone before”. We’ll need something to “warp” space so that we can get to new planets quickly. Let’s call it “warp drive”! Yes! We’re really cooking now!

All that’s left now is something to defend ourselves with while we’re out exploring. Lasers are all very well, but we really need something which will allow us to “stun” our foes. After all, we can’t be known around the universe as a bunch of killers, can we? I’m thinking some sort of “phased” energy. We could call the device a, a, a “phaser”! Yes! We now have all the ingredients we need for a better tomorrow!

The technology might not be there yet, but it would make a damn fine TV show. Maybe I should propose it to a TV production company? There could be some money in this. I have created…

… hang on a minute. It’s Star Trek isn’t it? I’ve just reinvented Star Trek.

Arse.

Holodeck

“Holodeck” by DraliDoodles (TM). See below for apology.
Is this me on an alien planet? No, I’ve beamed onto a holodeck on a warp spaceship with my phaser!

An apology by the DraliDoodles (TM) team: DraliDoodles recently borrowed a drawing tablet from work in an attempt to make DraliDoodles (TM) appear more professional. It appears to have had the opposite effect. Apparently if you can’t draw to start with, a tablet only makes it worse. Sorry. [We’re going to go with the “it was drawn by a six-year-old” cover story, people.]

Photo – “Meat eater ant queen excavating hole”, from WikiMedia by “Fir0002/Flagstaffotos”, non-commercial distribution  (CC BY-NC)

Life Story

May 25, 2013 2 comments

Daily Prompt: Elevator – You’re stuck in an elevator with an intriguing stranger.

I yawned as the lift approached the third floor. Seven floors down and the damn thing had stopped at every floor. The third was no exception. I groaned inwardly as the doors slid open to reveal a short, grey-haired man. He tottered in, barely making it inside before the doors slid closed.

“Which floor?” I enquired as the lift began to move again, gesturing towards the buttons as he smoothed imaginary wrinkles out of his white linen suit.

He looked at me and smiled, his aged face crinkling even more (if that were possible), a glint in his surprisingly bright blue eyes.

The lift shuddered and ground to a halt.

The first flicker of fear trickled through me as I moved to the control panel. I wasn’t particularly claustrophobic, but I did harbour a secret fear of plummeting to my death. I jabbed at the buttons. Nothing. I pushed the alarm switch. Still nothing. Maybe it’s a silent alarm?

The man spoke.

“I remember when all this was trees and fields,” he said, gesturing expansively, moving his arms to encompass the entire lift.

“Right, yes,” I replied.

“Over here,” he continued, pointing towards the back wall, “was the lane I walked on my way to school.”

I looked at the wall and nodded, humouring him.

“When I went to school at all!” he cackled. “We often didn’t make it on hot summer days. You see that factory, just there?” He pointed to his left.

“Um, factory…?” I replied.

“That used to be a field, we played there on the hot summer days when we didn’t go to school,” he continued, ignoring me. “Ah, those were the days.”

I jabbed at the buttons on the control panel again. I was feeling more and more anxious. This guy seemed harmless enough, but he obviously wasn’t in complete control of his faculties.

“And over there,” he went on, “was the farm where I worked when I left school.” He was pointing to the right wall now. “As you can see, it’s an industrial estate now.”

I looked at the wall.

“An industrial estate, um, yes,” I replied.

“And there’s the park where I met my wife,” he went on, a faint smile on his face. “Fifty five years we were married.” He was staring at the wall, a wistful look in his eyes. “Fifty five years.”

Poor old guy. I wonder if he knows where he is? I wondered. There’s probably someone looking for him. He’s probably wandered off from assisted living.

“That was the church where I married my Masie.” He was looking at the wall to his right. “As you can see it’s still there. Not everything has changed.”

His tone turned sombre. “That was the church where I buried my Masie.”

He bowed his head and turned away, trying but failing to hide the tears which sprung into his eyes at the memory.

I hesitantly placed my hand on his shoulder and we just stood a moment as he relived old memories.

The lift started again with a jerk and I stood back, feeling awkward. A second later the doors slid open.

“This is me!” he exclaimed brightly and stepped out of the lift, all hint of sadness gone. I stared past him but could see only darkness. Maybe the power was out. Maybe that was why the lift was having problems. Maybe the stairs would be a better option. Besides, I couldn’t just let the poor old guy wander around all confused. I moved to follow him but the doors closed abruptly, forcing me to take a step backwards. They opened again immediately. Beyond was the familiar second floor, brightly lit. A couple of people were waiting to get on, seemingly unaware that the lift had been stuck between floors for the last five minutes.

I stepped out of the lift and looked down the corridor, first to the left and then to the right. There was no sign of the man.

“Excuse me,” I asked the couple as they moved past me into the lift. “Did you see which way that old chap in the white suit went?”

“I’m sorry, who?” asked one.

As the doors closed I saw their blank faces as they looked at each other, frowning in confusion.

Ever Changing

May 22, 2013 16 comments

Daily Prompt: Goals – When you started your blog, did you set any goals? Have you achieved them? Have they changed at all?

I can’t make up my mind from one moment to the next, is my problem. Any goal I see for my blog changes from day to day. I just sort of write, really. Get my thoughts down. Be part of a worldwide community of people who also just sort of write, really.

I first started my blog back in, hang on, let me check…

… still checking…

… July 2011 with “Monkeys and typewriters“. Okay, I thought it was longer ago than that. I was pretty sure I was approaching 3 years rather than 2.

I didn’t have any particular goals. Thoughts kept popping into my head (like monkeys and typewriters), and I wanted somewhere to write them down. And so my blog was born. Hooray!

It has evolved a bit over the (apparently nearly 2) years. I’ve done a bit of shonky poetry. I’ve written a bit of mini fiction. I’ve even done some complementary (and largely talentless, but that’s their charm) sketches in the form of the ever-popular DraliDoodles!

I’d love to say I write purely for me and for the joy of writing, but that would be a big fat lie. I love it when people “like” what I write. This appeared in my “notifications” speech bubble thingy a couple of days ago. I know it’s not a lot compared to some of you guys, but I’m chuffed. Yay me!

200 likes for me.

“Likes” for me! Yay!

I love it when people start following my blog. Then I panic a bit. Did they follow me based on one piece of fiction? I don’t do much fiction! I can never think of any ideas! It’s too hard! That’s when I have to take a step back. Primarily I’m writing for myself, in the hopes that other people will like it. So chill out, draliman.

I’d like to post more, but after spending 10 hours at work (on a computer) all I generally want to do is watch TV and then go to sleep (that’s a good excuse for my lack of ideas). Since I discovered the daily prompts earlier this year I’ve managed to post a bit more.

I started out with no clear goals, and I still don’t have any. I’ll just let it take me where it will!

Thanks to all of you for reading and being my online buddies :-).

Categories: Daily Prompt Tags: ,

Raaaaaar!

May 15, 2013 10 comments

Daily Prompt: The Interview – Interview your favorite fictional character.

draliman: And welcome to “dralichat in the afternoon” here on Radio Drali!

(“Tune on in to dralichat, dralichat, DRALICHAT!“)

draliman: And this afternoon we have a very special guest, Mr The Incredible Hulk! Welcome to the show Mr Hulk, or can I call you Incredible?

Mr Hulk: Raaaaaaaar!

draliman: So, Mr Hulk it is. So, Mr Hulk, what made you want to get into the rampaging business?

Mr Hulk: Raaaaaaaar!

draliman: Okaaay, could you describe your typical day?

Mr Hulk: Raaaaaaaar!

draliman: Riiiight, and what do you see in your future? Another remake of a remake?

Mr Hulk: Raaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaar!

draliman: Uh, no, don’t eat the furniture. Ha ha, sorry about this listeners! Please Mr Hulk, put the chair down!

Mr Hulk: Raaaar (munch munch munch) raaaaaaar!

draliman: No, please, my arm, oh God he’s got my arm, please tell me they can sew it back on, hey come back with my arm, uh (passes out)

Producer: Cut to commercials, cut to commercials!

Mayhem in the Studio

“Mayhem in the Studio” by DraliDoodles(TM).

Ripples

May 14, 2013 7 comments

Daily Prompt: Fill In the Blank – Three people walk into a bar…

… although to even the most casual of observers it is obvious that their arrival together is mere coincidence. The barman watches as they approach. He recognises each one, knowing what they will order, where they will sit.

The Businessman

He looks out of place in his Savile Row suit, silk tie and expensive wrist watch. He takes his order – a double whisky on the rocks – to a seat in the corner and sips slowly. He is in the business of buying struggling companies for next to nothing, stripping them and selling them off piecemeal for huge profit. Now highly successful, he never forgets his roots. His Dad brought him to this bar when he was small – he’d practically grown up here. On completion of every successful deal he comes in, sits in the corner and sips his whisky while his driver waits patiently in the Bentley. You wouldn’t leave such a car unattended in this neighbourhood.

The Mechanic

Looking older than his years, he orders a glass of iced water and sits next to a window where he can watch the world go by. He splits his time between bars, shopping centres and, when weather permits, the park. He lost his job three months ago and hasn’t found the courage to tell his wife. He hides the letters from her – letters threatening repossession of his house. Where will he live? What about the kids? He burns through their savings in secret while he hopes fate will provide him a new job. He remembers the day he found out his job was gone. A nameless, faceless company had bought the chain of car servicing specialists he had devoted his life to and split it apart. Ninety percent redundancies. Stunned, he had walked away from the car he’d been servicing, neither knowing nor caring that the brake system replacement was left half-finished.

The Drunk

A sad shell of a man, he walks on unsteady legs to the bar. Unkempt and unshaven, he orders the cheapest cider. Although barely midday, he already reeks of booze. His hand shakes as he downs his drink and the memories of that day three months ago come unbidden to his mind. Walking with his beloved wife across the pedestrian crossing. The car which threw him sideways, breaking his leg. His wife, thrown across the bonnet into the windscreen, killed instantly. The police had told him that it was “mechanical failure”. A failed service had left the car with only drops of brake fluid in the cylinder. It was impossible to find the person who had serviced the car, they’d said. The company had recently been bought out and split apart. The paperwork had been lost.

Ripples

Every act, every decision causes ripples which spread outwards to touch, change, save, destroy lives.

The ruthless businessman. The negligent mechanic. The grieving drunk.

Three people walk into a bar.

A Different Person

May 5, 2013 7 comments

Daily Prompt: It’s a Text, Text, Text, Text World – How do you communicate differently online than in person, if at all? How do you communicate emotion and intent in a purely written medium?

First off, let’s rephrase the first question.

“Do you communicate at all in person?”

No. No I don’t.

Well, OK, obviously that’s not strictly true. I couldn’t function in today’s rough-and-tumble world without saying a word. I communicate fine at work, but I’ve known many of those people for years. I’ve worked there for nine and a half years and I’ve never had a day off sick – that’s entirely irrelevant, but I’m very proud of the fact :-).

Put me in a social situation and… nothing. If I know the people, I generally try to ignore them, close my body language and let other people talk. Then I get upset when they ignore me back. Go figure. I’m my own worst enemy.

Drali Ninja

I sneak unseen into a room of “new” people.

If it’s a group of “new” people, I ninja my way in at the back of the room and “people watch” – I won’t say anything, other than answer questions, until I’ve “sized them up” a bit.

And small talk – what’s up with that?

“Goodness, it’s raining again.” Yes, I can see that.

“How about the game last night! Eh?” What? What game? Are they talking about football? I just don’t know.

“How are you today?” You don’t really want to know, do you? Maybe I’ll take you by surprise and bang on about all my troubles.

Text-wise, I write texts in complete sentences (usually) with proper punctuation intact. “Text-speak”? Have you ever tried actually texting “c u l8r” on a phone with auto-correct and suggestion lists? Can’t be done.

Online (e.g. in a blog) I find it easier to “speak”. I can express myself more readily. I can think before typing. I have time to find the words. I can proof-read to ensure I haven’t said anything nasty. I don’t have to actually interact with people in real-time. (Don’t get me started on using the phone :-(.)

As for communicating emotion, there’s probably more emotion in my posts than there is in real life. And that’s not a lot. Hey, I’m a bloke. I’m emotionally crippled by design. I’ll just hold it all in, thanks.

Photo credit – Katsushika Hokusai, derivative work: AMorozov, Wikimedia Commons licence