Avatar Take a trip with me

The last two years have meant that most people haven’t been away on a proper holiday, myself included. Not that I really wanted to go anywhere. Can you see me in a pair of shorts sat on the Bermuda Triangle trying to buy a croissant? No, exactly, it’s not my style. Even so, it would be nice for a change of scenery.

So what do you do when things aren’t going right? Making your way in the world today takes everything you’ve got and taking a break from all your worries sure would help a lot. Wouldn’t you like to get away? Sometimes you wanna go where everybody knows your name to Delicious City.

Mmmmmm, taste it!

Situated in close proximity to my office, many a time have I walked past and pondered the delights of Delicious City. I’ve been to cities before but never anywhere delicious. I expect I’d walk in and there would be people taking huge chunks out of a skyscraper made of ham, punters stood waiting for a bus and then when it arrives they punch out the windows and suck them like lollipops, and drunken bystanders hanging around in parks for the champagne fountains.

Willy Wonker’s Chocolate Factory has got nothing over Delicious City.

So why haven’t I been already? I’m worried that I would never escape. You know me and food; once I’m in, I’m gone. Surrounded by an entire city made of food would only compound matters even further and you’d never hear from me again. I’d be riding a cloud made of candy floss and chasing cats made of Oreos (because the animals, for some reason, are also delicious).

Now I’m falsifying a form so I can get into the RSPCA and eat all the animals in there. I’m also drop-kicking a watermelon into a taxi’s windshield so I can steal the marzipan from it’s back wheels. Now I’m scooping the bacon from the washing lines of my neighbour’s gardens, pushing them into a sandwich that’s thicker than my neck and breaking into the museum on the corner in the hope that they’ve got some brown sauce for this bad boy.

Oh dear Lord, what is wrong with me? I punched an old lady in the face so I could use her mobility scooter to get into the gym and taste the swimming towels (they have the best and keep them for themselves like a bunch of grumbo grumps). I ordered pancakes at the cafĂ© then refused to eat them because I filled up on bread napkins before they arrived. I think I ate my boss’ shoes due to them smelling like fresh pizza.

As you can see, I can’t have anything nice and my excursion to Delicious City, or any city in fact, has been delayed indefinitely.

Avatar Chess for beginners

I learned how to play chess when I was about ten.

Wait. That might be overstating things a bit. What happened was that one of the other kids at my childminder’s house could play it a bit, and they showed me, and we had about three games that lasted about five minutes, and then I didn’t play it again until last week.

Last week I was reintroduced to chess, and found I had forgotten almost everything. If you have also forgotten everything about chess, either because you haven’t played it in a long time, or because nobody told you anything about it in the first place (sometimes referred to as “pre-forgetting” or “not knowing things”), then allow me to help.

Setting up the board

You need a big square made of other squares. They should be chequered. You also need lots of playing pieces. If you don’t have a chess set, you could borrow the pieces from a Monopoly set instead, but you will need five Monopoly sets because chess uses a lot of pieces. Put the pieces in lines.

How the pieces move

Every piece has rules about how it moves.

  • Pawns are small and so can only move slowly. They can go two squares, but only once, and they can only go in a straight line forwards, like one of those toy dogs on wheels. If they eat another piece they can go diagonally.
  • Castles are actually called Rooks. They are also sometimes known as Towers or Rectors or Benedicts or Backsliders or French Fancies or Ronnie Johnsons or Fluteypipes. They can go left and right and up and down, and they can go as far as they like, and in that sense are not much like castles at all.
  • Knights look like horses and can jump over other pieces, but go sideways a bit when they do it because they have bad ankles.
  • Bishops move diagonally and have nice hats.
  • Kings are rubbish. They can go anywhere but only one square at a time, and if someone else eats your King then you lose. If you try to protect your King by taking it off the board and hiding it, which is the most sensible thing to do if you want to win, then you also lose, apparently, which isn’t fair.
  • Queens can go as far as they want in any direction and might also be able to fly and travel underwater. This is similar to the real Queen.

Strategy

White always goes first. However, the ideal way to start the game is to steal some of your opponent’s pieces before the game has started. This early pre-game attack can offer many advantages in the later stages.

Attempt to gauge your opponent’s skill level at the beginning of the game by sliding all your pawns forward two spaces in a single move. If they are inexperienced enough to let you get away with this, you can claim a great deal of territory this way.

Spend lots of time taking your turn so it looks like you’re thinking really hard. This will make your opponent nervous.

Win the game by taking your opponent’s King. You can do this either by moving one of your pieces into a position where the King will be taken on its next move no matter where it goes, which is called “checkmate”, or by picking it up and refusing to give it back when you’ve had enough, which makes it impossible for the other person to win, meaning you have won by default.

If you have any chess questions (“chesstions”) please post them below and I will do my best to help you become a Chess Grand Master just like me.

Avatar Crossword answers

Everyone – and I mean everyone – has been waiting for this moment impatiently and, in some cases, violently. I am pleased to now be able to bring the impatience and the violence to an end, with the release of the answers to last month’s Pouring Beans crossword.

Back in early March, I stated very clearly that there were “no prizes”, but then shortly afterwards in the comments I appear to have also promised everyone prizes, so I suppose we’d better go ahead and analyse the entries that have been submitted.

Kev made a very good attempt in which he got all the answers right. His handwriting (or “handers writers”) was a bit messy but it would be churlish to deny him a prize on that basis, so a prize it is for him.

Ian made what I can only describe as an avant garde attempt at the crossword, getting only five of the twelve clues right, but redeeming himself with clear typography and also a very enjoyable drawing of a stickman with a ladder. On that basis I think he also has to get a prize.

So, with all the formalities out of the way, it just remains for me to offer my congratulations to the winners, whose prizes are now on the way, and to thank you all for taking part. Thank you. No, no, thank YOU.

Avatar Crossword

Time to sit down with a nice cup of tea, and perhaps pull a rug across your knee to keep you warm like an old person, while you have a go at the Pouring Beans Crossword Puzzle. There’s no prizes, it’s just for fun, and possibly not even that.

Answers in a few weeks. Good luck.

Across

1: Morrissey’s typical remark on seeing some birds (8)
5: Fair description of former regular commenter Pete Doherty (4)
8: The Beans Massive wrote a book about a Magic one (4)
11: A Lego car of the right size (8)

Down

1: A Montessori school activity requires children to pour these (5)
2: Chris’s favourite brand of pesto. Making crosswords is difficult and sometimes you just have to go with whatever fits (5)
3: The location of Dr Rombobulous Combobulation’s hat in relation to his head (4)
4: What we store on the Magical Computers (4)
6: A Jewish priest. It has nothing to do with the Beans but, again, it fits, and beggars can’t be choosers (5)
7: The number we need and are (5)
9: A Smidge Manly impersonator stole this from the real Smidge (4)
10: Noise made by lions and also former regular commenter Brian Blessed (4)

Avatar House

There will, I expect, be more posts from me on this subject in the near future, because it has become a very large part of my life. But for now, it is probably enough to say that getting yourself a house is an enormous process that takes up a lot of your time and energy, and has far reaching consequences for the whole of your life. It is difficult and tiring.

On the other hand, though, it’s one of the best things ever, and it has made us this happy.

Normal service will resume in February. In the meantime, if you need me, I’ll be trying to find something in a box that is under three other boxes at the back of a room full of boxes.

Avatar 2021 State of the Beans Address

Hello, and to a certain extent, welcome. Thank you for coming. My name is The Honourable Sergeant-Major Professor Lord Sir Elbert Louche, KBE, and it is with great pleasure and moderate smugness that I return again this year to deliver the annual State of the Beans Address.

It is a very different address this year, of course. For social distancing reasons, I am speaking to you from the top of the ornate clock tower that adorns the Beans, with my voice amplified using all the many shouters attached to the corners of the tower. And for you, the audience, this is a drive-in event. I must ask you to please remain within your cars, and choose between either opening your windows slightly for ventilation, or breathing. You cannot do both.

Read More: 2021 State of the Beans Address »

Avatar ‘Snakes and Lads’

You know what’s wrong with board games these days? They’re not tough enough. Whilst they are entertaining and enjoyable, informative and fun, maddening and frustrating at times there is nothing about them that gives the impression of tough.

Courtesy of my toxic masculinity, I have come with a new take on an existing idea that will blow all you soft willows out of the water and into the gutters. It will remove your eyes and replace them with hot coals of pain.

‘Snakes and Lads’ follows the same basic formula as its predecessor, ‘Snakes and Ladders’; you have a board with one hundred squares and the object is to get from the bottom to the top first.

You play as Tony, a right hard lad who whilst out drinking with his mates decides that they should place a little wager on who can get to the kebab shop first. His best mate, Tony, who has been sh*t-faced since 7pm is of course well up for this. His cousin, Tony, never says no to a bet and the same goes for Tony, Tony and his dad, Tony (I should mention that you don’t necessarily need six players in total but it does help).

So, as one of the Tonys, you wander through the streets trying to get to the kebab shop. If you land on a snake, you strangle it like the piece of savage meat you are. This however does mean that the time you spend boshing that sod into the next week causes you to fall behind and you go back down to the corresponding square below. If you land on a lad, you go right in for a fight with that sucker. You roll the dice and if you get an even number, you smash ‘im down. If you happen to roll an odd number he gets in a cheeky punch and you stay where you are.

The first to reach ‘The Quilted Slosh’ gets to call all the other players whoopsies and collects a tenner from each of them.

Extra points for those who sit on a steak whilst playing and eat a whole bag of sugar all at the same time.

I have never been more convinced of my genius until this idea.