Tuesday 13th July 2004
CNPS numbers spotted 3 (902).
I had woken up early and gone for a CNPS walk in the hope of finding this elusive 900. I couldn't work out what was my best tactic. Should I stand in one busy place and watch the traffic or was I better off walking down streets I hadn't been to before, which would at least give me leads on any future numbers as well as a chance of seeing a 900. I did a bit of both, but after an hour had not seen the number I covetted. It was very frustrating. Obviously the more time I spend looking the more my chances of seeing one, but conversely I'd had three days of not seeing the number and there was no reason why I wouldn't have to wait another three days or longer.
I went home despondent and tried to work.
In the afternoon I realised I wasn't getting anywhere and so thought I'd have another search for a 900. I walked off aimlessly, but then decided that I would head up to the Westway where the rush hour traffic should be just beginning.
I promised the gods that I would literally go down on my knees if they rewarded my commitment.
I stood waiting for a long time. Half an hour passed. I saw two 100s, a 300, a 400 and two 600s. I saw four 901s and three 902s, but no 900s.
I perservered. I was going out tonight, but I figured I could wait here for at least an hour and was considering just staying in the same spot until the 900 went by, however long it took. It would be like I was queueing up for the January sales (and if things carried on going so badly I might actually be).
What has my life come to? I felt both foolish and strangely noble. This task is the hardest of them all, I think, or at least takes the most dedication. If I do finish it in time it will be one of the most monumental achievements, as well as possibly the biggest waste of time there has ever been.
Nothing was going my way, but I kept waiting, because in CNPS the next car could be the car you need.
The gods were certainly enjoying themselves and they weren't going to let me off the hook too easily. I knew they were taking the piss when a lorry went by with a 900 registration. I should have been delighted, you'd think. But no. This lorry had a foreign number-plate, something expressly forbidden by my own rules. I'm not sure why I even made that rule up - probably out of some sense of national pride, but also because a trip to France with its two digit numbers would mean you got to 100 pretty pronto. This was the first time I had fallen foul of it. I felt sick to the stomach.
Earlier in the day someone had emailed me to say that when they used to play the game as a kid, the 777 acted like a joker and so whenever you saw one you could count that as the number you needed. He asked if this was an acceptable rule and of course I told him he was being ridiculous and that if he wanted to play the game with metaphorical stabilisers on his metaphorical bike then that was up to him. I seem to remember that 777 had been a pretty hard spot in itself. But today, as if to mock my adherence of the rules I saw about five 777s. If only I had had that rule I would have been flying ahead.
With all these worries going on in my head I almost missed the gift the gods sent me. A motorbike went by. It was a 900. I was so surprised that I didn't react for a while. I had to make sure I wasn't asleep (and each morning now I have a half-waking state where cars are passing in front of my eyes as if I've been playing a boring number-plate based video game. So far the number-plate I've needed has never appeared in these half-dreams, but needless to say it wouldn't count if it did. But how can I be sure when I am asleep and when I am awake?).
But the fumes in my nostrils were all too real. I'd finally done it. I was in the 900s. Suddenly everything seemed possible again.
I was so delighted that I temporarily forgot my deal with the gods. I hadn't gone down on my knees. There were people around. I felt self-conscious. But I knew the gods had been testing my resolve and that if I didn't thank them for their eventual munificence then they would scupper my task.
I sort of pretended I had a cramp of something and knelt down on the dirty pavement and thanked them.
My prayer was rewarded. On the way back home a 901 drove by and I had already spotted a 902 in the next street so I went to pick that up. I didn't manage the four cars I need a day to complete the task, but I had overcome a bigger hurdle. 900 should be the last rare number I need - 999 seems quite popular and though there are gaps in my records I only need a couple of days of getting 10 numbers to get me right back on course.
It's just a question of whether it's more important to write the show or to finish CNPS.
I think we all know which is more important.
The rest of the tasks seem to be coming togehter. I have a few people sounding out Germaine for me adn Colchester Zoo are letting me muck out their elephants. I may also be going to London zoo to go in the enclosure with the man-eating komodo dragons. Which would mean my fire-walking would no longer be a part of the show. But I'm having difficulty making that fit into the tasks as it is. And man-eating dragons and a good substitute for man-eating horses.
Unless they eat me of course. In which case I'm a bit fucked.
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