Wednesday 9 November 2011

My Hundred Days

I've been racking my brains a bit trying to think of something special to do for my 100th post on A White HorizonHannah's done some interesting things for landmark posts, and I initially thought about offering my own take on one of those, but then I decided that the 'centenary' is too big a moment to settle for plagiarism.

On Monday night, I had an idea: a list of 100 of the most important/formative/memorable days of my existence.  I've done some maths and worked out that I've been on this planet for 8664 days (plus however long I was in development pre-birth), so on average I need to pick just one day in every 87 to feature on this list.  Here I go...

In chronological order:

  1. Sometime in the second half of May 1987: conception.  Psalm 51:5b, and all that.
  2. 18 February 1988: started being born.
  3. 19 February 1988: arrived at a hospital in Portsmouth, still inside Mum, and after 24 very unpleasant hours (I don't remember them, but Mum and Dad say they were terrible and I'm willing to bet I didn't enjoy them much either), I finished being born at about 22:45.
  4. Early-mid March 1988: at the age of only 3 weeks, I moved house for the first of several times, from Havant to Bristol.
  5. 13 June 1990: lost my only-child status as Catherine was born, at about 23:15.
  6. Probably circa 1992: that incident with the stuffed E.T. toy.
  7. December 1992: that school Christmas party.  I served my first two terms of school (yes, the use of prison-esque terminology is deliberate) at a little primary in Bristol, which I hated.  I had numerous disagreements with my teachers, despised several aspects of the place which I thought were illogical (why did I start off in Class 5, for example?  I thought you should begin at the beginning, and start in Class 1?), and never made a single friend.  And then there was some sort of party, I think a pre-Christmas one, and there was a misunderstanding as to whether the party food was instead of or in addition to the usual packed-lunch requirements, and after wandering around the building being confused for half of lunchtime, I ended up having to eat some sort of sandwich things that really didn't appeal.
  8. Somewhere from September 1992 to March 1993: on the subject of that school, there was also the incident where my teacher carried me kicking and screaming (quite literally, I'm afraid) to a different classroom to see how well-behaved the children were there.  I fell compelled to point out that I really thought I had a genuine grievance to throw that strop about - I wasn't just being difficult because I felt like it.
  9. Circa 1992 / 1993: I vaguely remember being shown Snow White and the Seven Dwarves sometime in my early days.  In retrospect, it was probably just after the film's digitally-remastered re-release.  It might have been my first cinema trip, and it's definitely the first film or TV material that I specifically remember seeing.  The bit that stuck in my head was this rather charming moment in the dungeon - I hope that doesn't say anything too bad about the state of my head?
  10. Early March 1993: we moved from Bristol to Cardiff.
  11. Sometime in 1993: cottoned on to the fact that each day and each year had its own number - I understanding the calendar, basically.  No idea what date this was, but I definitely remember it was in '93.
  12. Probably 1993 or 1994: my school class (I liked the school in Cardiff much better than the one in Bristol, by the way) was taken up to the staff room and fed small pieces of cooked turnip.  I really don't know what they were trying to prove, I just remember the veg.
  13. Probably late 1994 or early 1995: was allowed to make a cardboard model house at school (can't remember what academic context it might have had).  It only had a ground floor, and my ambitious lighting scheme was curtailed by the fact that they only let me have one bulb, but otherwise the project ranks as one of the high points of my three years in school.
  14. September 1995: began home education.
  15. Second half of 1995: on a visit to someone else's house (I can't remember whose) I came across a Buzz Lightyear toy.  Didn't think anything of it at the time, but that inconspicuous moment was the first time I crossed paths with Pixar Animation Studios.
  16. Tuesday 26 September 1995: started keeping my oldest surviving diary/journal thing.  The first entry was about some sunflowers I'd been growing in the back garden, and the book has some of the petals (remarkably well-preserved) laid out on its front cover under some sticky-backed plastic film.
  17. Wednesday 4 October 1995: the second entry in the sunflower journal records the fact that "we saw lots of snails on dead twigs" - I still remember the incident: the 'twigs' weren't technically twigs, but the dead stems of some annual hedgerow plant, two or three feet high, and the shiny little yellow- and brown-shelled snails which caught my attention, sitting on the dead twigs in large numbers, were almost certainly Cepaea hortensis.  This might not have been the very beginning of my fondness for the species, but it was certainly very close to the beginning, and an important formative moment.
  18. 6 January 1996: we left the UK for a two-year stay in Hong Kong, where Dad had got a contract to set up a test lab for a government agency.
  19. Later January 1996: found a two- or three-inch-long shell in a gutter, white with dark-brown spots.  Kept it (and, I'm sure you'll be glad to know, cleaned it).  It turned out to be the first of several of its species that I would acquire in Hong Kong, and it kicked my recently-formed interest in shells into a whole new gear.
  20. Late January / early February 1996: moved into our new flat at 17G Orchid Court, Sha Tin, which we would call home for nearly two years.  The block of flats, along with four others, is on the roof of a shopping centre, whose McDonalds' and Pizza Hut outlets would be a lifeline, and there was also a musical fountain in the middle of the main atrium, which I found endlessly fascinating.
  21. Saturday 22 June 1996: one of the occasional Saturday mornings on which I went with Dad to his lab.  I don't know whether it was the first, but I saw fit to record this one in my journal.
  22. Summer 1996: my conversion to Christianity.
  23. Can't remember if it was the autumn of 1996 or 1997: was told I would be taking part in the Sunday School musical production for Christmas, and was duly packed off to the upstairs classroom where the first rehearsal was taking place.  I hated it with every fibre of my being - I can't and won't sing on a stage, and nobody has any right to tell me otherwise - so I stood at the back of the group in ferocious silence, with my arms folded and (I'm told) a glare like a thundercloud.  Once the adults concerned had realised I really wasn't going to sing, they decided to let me be the narrator instead, which suited much better.
  24. Saturday 28 September 1996: went for a walk in the local park, and picked up a load of leftover wax from the candles used in the Moon Festival lanterns the previous night.  Made a candle of our own from the leftovers.
  25. Sunday 27 October 1996: my baptism.
  26. Wednesday 27 November 1996: went round the local park to see the giant lanterns that had been set up for the Zigong Lantern Festival.
  27. Sometime in 1997, I think, but it could have been late 1996: our train stopped at a station which happened to offer a view of the road where our bus route to church, the Kowloon Motor Bus 85, went - and on the road below I spotted an 85.  But not just any old 85.  Instead of the dull-yellow colours which 85s usually sported, this one was white - which probably won't mean much to you unless I explain that the white livery was reserved for air-conditioned buses.  After several months of suffering our way to and from church in non-air-conditioned buses, KMB had finally seen fit to put air-con vehicles on the route.  That made me enormously happy.
  28. Saturday 4 January 1997: drew the first in a series of pictures (each comprising four A4 sheets end-to-end) showing various villages in a fictional country of my own creation.
  29. Tuesday 11 February 1997: went down to Hong Kong Harbour to see the Chinese New Year fireworks show.
  30. Early 1997: went to the cinema to see Star Wars 20th-anniversary Special Edition.  It mostly went over my head, but repeat viewings on rented VHS tapes over the next few years were better appreciated.
  31. Wednesday 28 May 1997: Ben born, 20:53.
  32. September 1997: left Hong Kong for a 3-week trip to Australia, via Manila Airport in the Philippines.
  33. Later September 1997: discovered a shell shop in Townsville, North Queensland, and was struck by several specimens of the Venus Comb Murex.  Couldn't afford one at the time, and had to wait years and years to get hold of one.
  34. Friday 9 January 1998: touched down at Heathrow 4 in the early morning, back on native soil for the first time in two years and three days.  My diary says Auntie Tina met us at the airport, but nobody else seems to remember that point.  We immediately head back to the old lair in Cardiff, and on the way make our first crossing of the New Severn Bridge, which was opened in our absence.
  35. Friday 23 January 1998: we acquired our purple Ford Galaxy, which we gradually ran into the ground over the next 13-and-a-half years.
  36. Saturday 13 June 1998: we went to a Christian home educators' meeting, and meet a family called the Johnstons for the first time.  I certainly didn't appreciate the gravity of this moment at the time, but it turns out to have been very, very important day.
  37. Sometime in 1998: completed the loft conversion which we'd done to create a new play room.  Began building a new incarnation of my lego-and-cardboard city.
  38. Sunday 28 March 1999: first visit to Yateley Baptist Church.  I've been there so long now that it almost seems weird to think that there was a first visit.
  39. Monday 2 August 1999: I woke up late for a Monday, realised that Dad didn't come in to say goodbye before setting off to Hampshire for the working week, and started getting a bit upset, before it turned out he didn't go to Hampshire at all that morning, because Sophie had been born at 05:01.
  40. Friday 22 October 1999: we moved out of our house in Cardiff, spent part of the day with friends at their enormous, half-decorated pile (which I found a fascinating place) and then went down to Devon to stay with Mum's parents in Plymouth for a few weeks.
  41. Early December 1999: we moved into our current house in Hampshire, and started going to YBC regularly.
  42. Sometime in 2001: Universe XGT had its beginnings in a Lego-based game while Tim was on a visit to Hampshire.
  43. Last week of October 2001: joined our church's annual Youth Hostelling holiday, which was in Hastings that year.
  44. Thursday 20 December 2001: Mum, Dad, Cat and me went to the Odeon Cinema, Guildford, to see The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring the day after it opened.  My interest in filmmaking began during these 3 hours.
  45. 15 June 2002: started work on my first-ever animation - a tiny little clip of a plant sprouting, with the frames created pixel-by-pixel in Microsoft Paint.  It was so bad that I don't plan on showing it to you, but it sowed the seed of better things to come...
  46. September 2002: began GCSE studies with an online school called NorthStar.
  47. 5 February 2003: began work on what would become my first completed CGI animated short, Martian Ballet, in collaboration with Dave Allwright.
  48. Not really sure when, but possibly circa 2003: the night Dad and I helped Grandma and Grandad move out of their old house.
  49. June / July 2004: completed GCSEs.
  50. 28 August 2004: completed my first successful attempt at stopmotion, White-tack.
  51. September 2004: began A-level studies at Farnborough Sixth Form College.
  52. 5 January 2006: began work on Arthur & the Punk, the first in a trio of plasticene-stopmotion shorts which would take a total of almost four years to complete.
  53. Sunday 19 February 2006: turned 18.  Now legally allowed to buy pointy objects, tobacco, booze and Quentin Tarantino films on DVD.  Didn't make use of any of these new-found rights.
  54. Friday 9 June 2006: on the spur of the moment, wrote the first eleven episodes of a little webcomic called Cylinder and Miserable.  I put 4-digit numbers in the filenames (e.g. "Cyl_and_Mis_0001.gif" - now reduced to "CM-0001.gif"), but never really expected that I'd need all those zeros.  Time would tell...
  55. July 2006: completed A-level studies at Farnborough Sixth.
  56. Last week of August 2006: attended Root Hill Camp for the first time.
  57. Last week of October 2006: went on my sixth and last YBC Youth Hostelling holiday.
  58. Friday 27 October 2006: Tim and I filmed X-Battles GT1: Attacking, mainly as an exercise to let Tim have a go at stopmotion.  It turned out to be the first of several instalments in an increasingly technically complex series.
  59. Monday 27 November 2006: published the first episode of Cylinder and Miserable.
  60. Sunday 17 December 2006: I drew and published the first episode of an untitled Christian comic strip series, which I would later name Grace and Caffeine.
  61. April 2007: went to India for two weeks.  Got sick.  Nearly died.  Never going back.
  62. 28 May 2007 (or thereabouts): after a very long time with no animals in the house, we acquired the first of what would prove to be at least half a dozen hamsters.  Hammy the hamster was Ben's main present for his 10th birthday, and would stay with us for about two-and-a-half years.
  63. Mid-late June 2007: after 8 months' work, I completed my giant mosaic project I See the Light at the End, in the knowledge that it will soon have to be taken down and put into storage as the building housing it is going to be demolished.
  64. Monday 2 July 2007: got my email working properly after several months of downtime.  May seem trivial in retrospect, but it meant a lot to me at the time.
  65. Wednesday 4 July 2007: as an offhand remark in an email, I suggest the formation of a group called "the Fellowship of the Unsubtle Lead Bricks", to comprise (initially) myself, Tim and Sarah.
  66. Friday 20 July 2007: took, and failed, my first driving test.  Everybody then told me that all the best drivers fail at least once, and the experience spurs them on to become better drivers.
  67. Saturday 4 August 2007: while at a barbecue at Tim and Sarah's, I came up with the beginnings of an idea which I called Alpha One's Laser CafeThe resulting stopmotion film has become the first instalment of a quadrilogy, with the third film half-way through shooting, and the fourth in the scripting stages.
  68. Thursday 13 September 2007: passed my driving test on the second attempt.
  69. Later September 2007: began my BSc course at Farnborough College of Technology.
  70. December 2007: discovered the existence of Farnborough Tech's very small Christian Union.
  71. Monday 31 December 2007:  completed Day-Glo! (the second of my three plasticene short films) with just hours to go before the end of the year, after a final push by Tim to complete the score - the first of several he has composed for my films.
  72. Some time in early 2008: met one Lewis Connolly for the first time.  Apparently he'd already 'met' Cat over Facebook, but this was the first time any of us saw him in person.
  73. Sunday 6 July 2008: had problems, and ended up rather depressed by the evening.  Mum then decided it was time to tell me her thoughts re: me and the autistic spectrum - which explained a lot.
  74. Monday 7 July 2008: I drew the first of what would prove to be an ongoing series of pictures documenting my feelings on the Aspergers diagnosis.
  75. Monday 14 July 2008: visited a small war museum in Northumberland.  The enormity of what had happened got to me somewhat.
  76. Last week of August 2008: my third year at Root Hill.  Met Sam Arthur for the first time.  Can't remember if this was also the year I first met Josh Hall or if that was 2007 (a little help here, Josh?).  Also took over as official videographer for the week from camp organiser Dave Hollands.
  77. May / June 2009: directed live-action film for the first time, on the college project One in a Million.
  78. Tuesday 9 June 2009: wrote the 1000th episode of Cylinder and Miserable, finally making use of all those zeros I gave myself three years earlier.
  79. Saturday 1 August 2009: Cat & Lewis married at YBC.  I was one of the ushers, along with Lewis' brother, and Cat asked me to sign the register as one of the witnesses.
  80. Friday 4 September 2009: the beginning of a long and productive relationship between myself and Sony Creative Software's Vegas Movie Studio.  Proves that despite what some Mac fans claim, you can edit HD video perfectly well on the Windows platform.
  81. Saturday 5 December 2009: completed The Probe Has Succeeded, the last film in my claymation triptych.
  82. Tuesday 27 April 2010: having previously written the script for Megastropulodon Attacks! and been tasked with supervising the visual effects, I was now given the director's chair after Esam sacked the previous director for not engaging properly with the project.
  83. Early June 2010: completed the final module of my BSc at Farnborough Tech.
  84. Friday 23 July 2010: during a sugar-fuelled bout of creative zaniness in the small hours of the morning, Tim, Sarah and I created the first few episodes of our new cross-continuity comic strip Fort Paradox.
  85. Thursday 22 July 2010: completed X-Battles GT4: Deflecting (made by Tim, Sarah and myself), reviving the long-running tech-experimentation series and moving it into the HD age.
  86. Saturday 31 July 2010: drew the 178th and last episode of Grace and Caffeine, ending a creative undertaking which had been part of my life for more than three-and-a-half years.
  87. Last week of August 2010: my fifth year at Root Hill, and my second time doing the camp video - this time in widescreen!  Lots of major highs and lows.  High points included meeting a certain sheep- and Doctor Who-obsessed ginger person for the first time.
  88. Wednesday 1 September 2010: started blogging at A White Horizon.
  89. Tuesday 26 October 2010: found Coco the hamster dead in his cage, and as everyone else except Mum was away on various trips all week, it fell to me to carry out the funeral.
  90. Thursday 28 October 2010: graduated from Farnborough Tech with first-class honours.
  91. Tuesday 2 November 2010: published the first episode of Fort Paradox.
  92. Saturday 27 November 2010: went to the Root Hill reunion in London.  Got a scenic tour of several major rail stations and discovered that I don't like Harrods.
  93. Late November / early December 2010: quit Facebook, because I could.
  94. Friday 3 December 2010: invented the Binary Advent Candle.
  95. Thursday 30 December 2010: did my first acrylic painting since finishing A-level Fine Art six-and-a-half years previously.
  96. Saturday 1 January 2011: completed the 720p HD remastered version of Martian Medicine - likely the final iteration of the Martian Ballet Trilogy, after seven years (on-and-off) in the making.
  97. Saturday 22 January 2011: Hannah's 18th-birthday party - in Kent.  Getting there involved what is, to date, my longest-ever solo road trip.  There was a point half-way back to Hampshire in the small hours of the next morning when I sat in the car in a motorway services car park and seriously considered sleeping there until the morning, but I decided this wasn't a great plan.
  98. Thursday 27 January 2011: set myself a weekly-animation challenge under the title Arbitrary Stopframe.
  99. Thursday 19 May 2011: saw a kingfisher on the River Blackwater, which inspired me to begin work on my most ambitious painting ever.
  100. Monday 7 November 2011: completed my kingfisher painting circa 23:40, after five-and-a-half months in progress.

So there you go.  Me to date.

- The Colclough


  1. You now seem to have created a draft for an autobiography! Just flesh it out a bit and you're sorted!

    It's odd to see how much difference an age gap makes when you're younger. For example, you were baptised when I was 3 1/2. How odd does that seem?

    Also Re: 97. I now feel bad for making you drive tired and really hope I made the evening worth it!! As I seem to say every time it gets brought up, it was great to have you there.

    Also... this reminds me that I need to blog....

  2. re: 97 - i usually keep functioning until after 1 in the morning even when i don't want to, so the driving thing wasn't that big an issue really. and yes, it was worth it =]

  3. I also studied at fbro and also the College of Contract Management, must have been around the same time! What courses did you do?!