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THE GORDIAN KNOT

23 March 2005

I've got a mysterious tale to share that would make Agatha Christie turn pale.

Last weekend I had a party in a casino for all the employees of the chainstore I work for. It started at 19.30, so I had a pocket of time in the afternoon to get some work done. Pre-emptively sketching the new August seemed like a wise idea, so I did. For completeness, yes, it was this very page. Or rather, it wasn't. Already mysterious, eh? While I was drawing, housemate and friend Jasper came in to query if he might use my computer when I was gone, which has a connection to the internet. So when I was done drawing and went to the casino, I left the door open for Jasper to enter my room.

I never visited a casino before, and after this I'm pretty sure it won't happen again. I found it a remarkably pathetic place. It made this impression on me for two reasons. The first was that I had never really realised until then how utterly useless it is to gamble away your money when you don't have a say in whether you win or not. It's completely up to chance, which are quite unfavourable odds. If I'm putting something on the line I'd like it to depend on my own wit and strategy, instead of a cold machine that doesn't feel anything. The second reason was that there was so very little 'antique' value there. Everything was digital, virtual. The hazy gloss of computerscreens shined on faces of old ladies with beakers full of coins, and it was so completely lifeless. Even if the gambling would have had any appeal, I surely wasn't going to sit in front of a screen portraying fake wheels and illusions of gambling apparatuses.

Which brought me to another thought. The [senior] people who are mesmerized by the screens now must be entranced by the concept of virtuality and interactivity. How will the casino's fare if they are gone and replaced by, well, us? We who are used to interactivity that runs infinitely deeper than pushing a button and seeing virtual dials spin? They are dead! Casino's might have to completely rethink their methods. But I might be mistaken. Actually I think I am.

Regardless, I went home not too long after I arrived, because these parties are usually diplomatic engagements for me anyway. I'll show my face, have a few drinks on the house, talk to some notables and friends, and then get the freak out of there. Well, I did have fun, really, but for me the expiration date of a party is always due quite swiftly. Anyway, when I returned home I didn't notice anything peculiar. No corpses in the curtains, and my majestic collection of birds was still there (actually I don't have birds). I went to bed. When I woke up I got to the living room and then it hit me, my sketched page of Captain August was missing! Before I go any further, I have to tell you that I am, in fact, quirky. That means that whenever I've drawn something and leave it lying, I always flip the page so that (get this) dust won't settle on the drawing. But oh dear, the page was missing. And I had a suspicion. I rushed to Jaspers room and asked him and- well, in the end he managed to extract the page from the garbage bin, all messed up, torn and crumbled. He hadn't seen the drawings on the flipside and had drawn a thank-you-picture for me for my leaving the room open, only to get embarrassed by it and discard it before I returned.

The upside is, now Jasper is eternally endebted to me and I will be able to get anything done from him. He is now my involuntary slave forever, and I his legally binding master. So yeah I had to redraw the page, but I think I managed to improve on the original. I hate to do things twice, but at least it got me instant material for this rant. Turn around, step on another ridiculous situation.

Roderick.