Roy Orbison in cling-film

A roll of cling film.

The telephone conversation began with an apology and ended with news of a new novel, about wrapping Roy Orbison in cling-film.

It was my cousin Alan and he’d called during the Powerpoint Edinburgh band rehearsal yesterday. He was meant to be visiting us in Anstruther today, but he’s has a bad cold for the last two weeks and needed instead to curl up in bed with a good book.

I understood, promised that we’d reschedule and left him to his good book.

That good book, it turned out, was Ulrich Haarburste’s Novel of Roy Orbison in Clingfilm by Ulrich Haarburste (Serapion Books, 2007) ISBN: 978-0-9554602-0-3.

If that sounds like just your cup-of-tea then you’ll be delighted to learn that there’s a website (called, predictably, Ulli’s Roy Orbison in Cling-film site) that contains a few of his early short stories, and that they made me cry with laughter. So much so that Jane had to come through to the study to make sure I was laughing and not weeping my poor heart out.

Here is an excerpt from story #1:

Roy Orbison walks inside my house and sits down on my couch. We talk urbanely of various issues of the day. Presently I say, ‘Perhaps you would like to see my cling-film?’

‘By all means.’ I cannot see his eyes through his trademark dark glasses and I have no idea if he is merely being polite or if he genuinely has an interest in cling-film.

I bring it from the kitchen, all the rolls of it. ‘I have a surprising amount of clingfilm,’ I say with a nervous laugh. Roy merely nods.

‘I estimate I must have nearly a kilometre in the kitchen alone.’

‘As much as that?’ He says in surprise. ‘So.’

‘Mind you, people do not realize how much is on each roll. I bet that with a single roll alone I could wrap you up entirely.’

Roy Orbison sits impassively like a monochrome Buddha. My palms are sweaty.

‘I will take that bet,’ says Roy. ‘If you succeed I will give you tickets to my new concert. If you fail I will take Jetta [Ulli’s terrapin], as a lesson to you not to speak boastfully.’

I nod. ‘So then. If you will please to stand.’

Roy stands. ‘Commence.’

I start at the ankles and work up. I am like a spider binding him in my gossamer web. I do it tight with several layers. Soon Roy Orbison stands before me, completely wrapped in cling-film. The pleasure is unexampled.

‘You are completely wrapped in cling-film,’ I say.

‘You win the bet,’ says Roy, muffled. ‘Now unwrap me.’

‘Not for several hours.’


I cannot wait until I get my hands on this book, and allow my eyes to wander freely between the words. You can read the author’s description of the book on his Now you may read a novel of Roy Orbison in Cling-film page. It ends with

PS. Film and video game rights are still available

And as if by good fortune PC Plus magazine this month comes with a full copy of The Games Factory on DVD. Budding game writers commence!

Teach Yourself Mahjong (3rd edition) out now

Teach Yourself Mahjong

This week I received a package from Hodder Education in the post. It contained my complimentary copies of Teach Yourself Mahjong (Third Edition) by David Pritchard. And me. (ISBN-13: 978-0-340-92726-7, ISBN-10: 0-340-92726-7.)

While I’ve probably blogged this before it’s probably worth repeating that the reason I came to update the third edition was that the original author, David Pritchard, died suddenly in December 2005.

As I’d done some consultancy work for Hodder earlier in the year they approached me to write the update, following Mr Pritchard’s original update plan. The copyright of his work remains with his family, I believe, who also receive any royalties, while I get the copyright for the portions that I wrote:

Copyright Gareth Saunders 2007

I provided around 70 updates on the second edition and two new chapters, one on Chinese Official International Rules and another on mahjong on computers and the internet, which is one of the most comprehensive accounts of this subject in any mahjong book today. It was a lot of fun to write, and a lot of hard work and discipline, but certainly worth it.

Among the pile of free copies that Hodder kindly sent me is one marked “correx” in which I’ve to scribble any corrections for the next reprint. I’ve spotted a few already. If only I’d a copy of Teach Yourself Publishing and Teach Yourself Proof-reading to help me.

Teach Yourself Mahjong is available at all good bookstores, including Amazon UK.

Lenovo ThinkPad battery recall

Lenovo laptop battery

The days of laptop battery recalls are not over, it would appear. Lenovo are recalling a bunch of ThinkPad batteries just now.

Thankfully (for me) the battery for my Lenovo 3000 C100 is okay and not being recalled. You can check if your Lenovo laptop battery is being recalled here: Check battery. There are two ways to do this.

Option 1

If you’re actually using your Lenovo ThinkPad to check that website WHAT ARE YOU THINKING??! It could blow up in your face! And you could delete the whole internet by doing that!!

If you are still here and insist on using your ThinkPad you can actually download an actual application which will quiz your actual battery directly. It actually works something like this:

Application: Excuse me battery, is you, like, a dangerous one?

Battery: Why should I tell you?!

Application: Cos, like, yeah … I’m from your maker.

Battery: Aw, right. Okay, then … em, no I’m fine thanks. No unsuspecting house fires caused by me. Thanks for asking. Bye!

Application: Bye!

Something like that.

Option 2

The second option involves physically removing the battery from your laptop and entering the 22-character serial number into an online form.

It looks something like this:


Do not confuse it with something like this:


That’s a credit card number. I don’t know whose. Why not try it out at and see if you can order yourself some tasty gear. You’ll obviously have to make up the other details, like expiry date, CVV number, name, address, … other stuff … but I’ve done the hard bit for you: the long number.

Anyway, back to exploding batteries.

Then click the “Continue” button and as if by magic you’ll be told whether you have a safe battery or a potential weapon of mass destruction warming your lap.

This has been a public safety announcement from the Potting Shed Computer Safety Services trying to help you feel positive about the potential destruction of your precious data.