A funny thing happened to me at a conference …

Things have a habit of happening at conferences, don’t they? Especially blogging conferences where lots of parents are enjoying a rare night away from the kids. (No, I’m not talking about those kinds of things. Get your head out of the gutter.)

My ‘things’ at BlogOnToys last weekend were a couple of minor disasters. These are my stories.

Such a loser

If you’re of a certain age, you will remember the Eighties chart-topping dirge Every Loser Wins by Nick Berry (Wicksy from EastEnders).

If anyone ever writes a song called Every Winner Loses, it could basically be the story of my life.

Some people are born lucky. I was not. I’ve never won so much as £10 on the National Lottery. If you see me queuing anywhere, you’re best advised to join another line. Without fail, I always pick the slowest-moving queue. You know, the one where someone has to get a split packet replaced. Or where the customer in front of you insists on slowly counting out the exact amount in coins.

So, anyway. I am to good luck what a Premier League footballer is to shopping in Poundland. The two simply do not co-exist.

Now it’s a long-running joke at BlogOn that, every time I attend, I will buy a fistful of raffle tickets and win nothing. At seven previous BlogOns, I have walked away with the grand total of zero prizes. Nil. Nada. Null. Bugger all.

I don’t mind too much. I accept that I’m just one of life’s unlucky losers. The proceeds from the raffle go into the BlogOn Community Fund anyway, so it serves good causes.

On Saturday afternoon I attended the raffle draw more in hope than expectation. As the number of remaining prizes out of the total of about 240 started to dwindle, I resigned myself to going 0-for-8. In fact, I was just joke-tweeting about this when my name was called out.

You what?

Obviously, there had been some kind of catastrophic error. It must have been Tom (who I was standing next to) and not Tim scrawled on the back of the ticket.

But no, it was me. I’m not kidding: a big cheer went up from people who are well aware of my raffle-related trials and tribulations.

So I headed out to survey the remaining prizes in a befuddled daze. I’m not used to this. What am I supposed to do, again? All the big prizes had long since gone but I picked up a game, Forbidden Island, that looked well-suited to our family of keen board gamers. I was happy with that. Very happy.

Giddy with the adrenaline rush of victory, I texted my wife immediately with a photo. Hey, I won something in the raffle for the first time EVER! This game looks like fun.

Two minutes later, my phone pinged in response. I expected congratulations or, at least, mild celebration.

Instead, there was an image with no text. Curious.

At home we have a basket of games we’ve bought or been gifted but not yet played. The photo Heather had sent was of this basket. On top was a copy of the same game that I had just won.

Even when I win, I lose.

Damn you, raffle. One day I will conquer you, mark my words. One day!

You’ll know when that day arrives. When the weather forecast predicts a cold day in Hell, that will be it.


12 steps

I’ve been on a health kick for nearly a year now. I keep a monthly diary on the blog. (Here’s my most recent entry.) During that time I’ve lost 3½ stone, started doing Parkruns and I’m entering a Tough Mudder 5K in two weeks’ time.

As part of this, I’ve been recording how many steps I achieve. My goal is to do at least 10,000 a day.

So far in 2019, I’m averaging over 18,000. So 10,000 a day is pretty routine for me – so much so that I started Saturday with a streak of 336 consecutive days. Less than a month from being able to say I had done 10k steps every day for an entire year. Barring injury or illness, a formality, right?

Oh, if only.

Knowing that I would be spending the whole of Saturday cooped up in a hotel at BlogOn, I carefully planned my day. I turned up at the venue early so that I could do a 30-minute walk. I figured I’d manage the rest over the course of the day.

At 11pm, in the midst of the after-conference party, I looked down at my Fitbit and saw that I was just under 9,900.

That’s okay, I thought. Nearly there. Job done.

The next time I checked my Fitbit was four minutes past midnight. My step count: 9,988. Twelve steps short. Twelve! FFS. Eleven months of consistent daily effort down the drain, all for the sake of not getting one more round in.

Aside from this being a salutary lesson about getting the beers in more often, I had also rebuffed my friend Fran’s attempts to get me up on the dance-floor about half an hour earlier. Now I don’t dance. I never dance. There’s a good reason for this. It’s a sight not fit for sensitive eyes; one that should come with a mandatory 18 certificate. I’m also pretty sure the hotel’s insurance didn’t cover the unacceptable risk to life and limb that me stepping on to a dance-floor represents. So I refused for the sake of the greater good, and not just because I’m a crap dancer.

You see how altruistic I am? Always putting the needs of other people first, me.

But at that moment, at 12:04 am and having basically missed a slam-dunk shot at a significant (to me) milestone, I really wish I had swallowed my pride and gracefully accepted Fran’s request. Even if the inevitable result in musical terms would have been less the Arctic Monkeys’ I Bet You Look Good On The Dancefloor and more Sophie Ellis-Bextor’s Murder On The Dancefloor.

And so those are my two little personal tales of woe from BlogOnToys 2019. Do you have any similar conference-related stories?


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