Monday, 19 April 2010

An Autobiography, In One Blog

Okay, so this is my unexciting life as it stands. Eighteen years, compressed into what I'm sure will be a depressingly short, unexciting bit of text. I won't edit this being said, so if it turns out to be super-long then I guess that's stopped that.

I was born on May 15th 1991, at about 10am, in Addenbrooke's Hospital in Cambridge. According to my parents, during my birth a radio was playing Nessun Dorma, as performed by the late Pavarotti, and the doctor was singing along to it. I guess now would be a good time to make note that everything I say in this entry will be 100% true, with no fabrication.

My earliest memory is a tiny snippet when I was around one, in my father's arms, who thanks to his lack of parenting ability was taking me to a toilet. My mum began shouting at him due to my wearing of a nappy.

I was able to write my full name (Andrew McCluskey) unhelped before I hit two years of age. Furthermore I could interpret basic signs and was considered by many at the time to be a genius in the making.

In those days, a very popular gameshow in the UK was "Bullseye". As a youngster I was scared of the bull in the programme - it would start me crying if the TV was running in the background with it on and it showed up.

We moved out of that house when I was three and a half due to ongoing wildlife somehow getting in. Despite being so young I still remember the layout of about half of the house, including the living room and the spare room (though not my bedroom, oddly). I also have a couple of very sketchy other memories such as me and my cousin using the spare bed as a trampoline, and a home-built piece of outdoor goodness dubbed "Swingboat", which, as suggested, was a boat-like item attached to a swing system. The house we moved into is the one in which we remain today.

In nursery or whatever it was (playgroup or something, I believe), I remember several activities like playing with Stickle bricks, making pizza and learning how to write

I remember thinking, prior to the beginning of primary school, that I would have to move and sleep there. The prospect frightened me and I became rather scared of it. My mum set my mind right, however. I also remember standing against the kitchen door in newly-clad school uniform (including a dull burgundy jumper) just before I was to go to school for the first time, for a quick photography session.

I was told off in my first year for use of relatively profane language. Amusingly, the person I'd learnt it from was caught quickly because he had a strong Northern accent and I'd learnt to say one of the words his way (we say bar-stard, he said bAH-stard, with the "ba" from "ban").

I was sworn at by a teacher when I was five or six because I wanted a go with the "end of lunch break" bell (a literal metal bell), so went ahead and pilfered/rang it. She was not best pleased, but I later learnt she was told off for the swearing part.

(Please understand with this point that at a young age I had no idea of the acceptable boundaries when doing stuff) I was once dared by a "friend" to drop my trousers in the playground. I was strongly punished by one of the wanderers of the playground, who was incidentally the guy that dared me's mother.

I did very well in some subjects - English and Maths, in lower years, even taking a Year 9 SATS paper in Year 6. But I despised, and was bad at, both History and Handwriting (which, back in those days, had its own lesson). The former, I was actually stood up infront of the entire class at one point as the teacher read out what I'd written, with the opportunity for anyone in the class to point out when something read out was false. The latter, I just sucked at. I can't join up letters for the life of me and really, even back then, saw no point whatsoever when my normal handwriting was perfectly legible.

People often joked about putting others' shoes in the school toilets. I, of course, was the goon that went and did it. I had to apologise to the poor lad's mother in person after school for doing it. I actually got in trouble with the headmaster a lot - due to my outcast status even at that age I guess I was just destined to f*ck about.

However, I was often regarded as being kind. A friend's eardrum burst once at primary school, leaving him in tears. I went, gave him a manly man-hug and went to call the nearest dinner lady to help him out. On a separate occasion (about the same age though - we were probably 8-9) I noticed someone who I wasn't massive friends with, sitting on the allotment opposite our house, crying. I actually went out to have a chat and shared some of my sweets with him. I actually distinctly remember the sweets, down to their very taste - a small box containing a large amount of miniature candy letters, that tasted rather sickly but were still nice. Bought in a shop in Bury St Edmunds about 200 metres away from the bus shelter that later folded.

Throughout Year 5 and 6, there was a chap called Karl Huck. The oddest thing about him was that we were great friends outside school... and bitter enemies IN school. I can't recall how many times we were confined throughout lunchtimes due to misbehaviour over arguments. During either Y5 or 6 I was actually given control of the small library, including its box of K*Nex, due to my trustworthiness. The trouble I had with Karl meant I was demoted from the position.

Year 6 held a four day excursion to a grotty little village called Aylmerton. I won't go into that because I despised it - it was basically a foray of bullying, depression and, in a slightly more positive twist, losing my scarf then finding it wrapped around a tree the day after, having been really upset about its disappearance (my mum had hand-knitted it and I was distraught it was gone).

I was tipped to win the Best of the Year award at the end of Y6 (the final year of primary school). Two days before that we (the Year 6s) were, as a going-away fun thing, put into groups and "sold" as slaves to other years. The group I was in were bought by the Nursery, so while other groups were doing work, we were constructing a play area out of giant Meccano-esque pieces. That was superb fun. The day after, however, was disappointing. Having spent my entire primary school years at that school, with rather a nice collection of achievements, not to mention some of the best SATS scores in the year, I actually lost the award to a girl who had joined in Year 5. Dang.

The prospect of high school was scary. I'm sure most of the people reading this will know how daunting it is to go from being the oldest in school to the youngest in the space of a couple months. I didn't fare well. Three days into Year 7 I lost a tooth. I basically spent the entire of that year being a living joke due to an odd noise I could make (prompting so, so many people to shout "Do the thing!"). It took until Year 8 for the "laughing at you, not with you" philosophy to sink in, so I stopped doing it, much to the disappointment and resulting insults from older students. One thing good did come out of Year 7 though. In January 2003, a new program popped up on the PCs... a little program called "Game Maker 5.0". Though that discovery itself was good, it was supposed to be, but was never, taught during ICT lessons. My best achievement for about half a year was a clone of the Asteroids game it comes bundled with, albeit with all the asteroids turned into swears.

In Year 8 I went abroad for the first, and currently only, time in my life... of all places, to Normandy, France... for around a week. It was mildly interesting, and I have plenty of memories from it. The kid that retorted to the teachers offering him ratatouille with "Rats? I don't want RATS!", followed by his being kicked out of the cafeteria with no food and an angry old cow of a teacher I still don't like. My purchase of a French-language-only copy of Pokémon Gold for €10. The photographs I took, including an amazingly-timed one of a friend jumping off his top bunk (caught him in mid-air). Infact, the four guys I shared the dorm with remain friends to date. I also remember the evenings playing football, and the guy that was urinating on the side of the mall I got Pokémon Gold in. He reacted to the sight of a class of tweens/young teens by simply returning his head to face the wall. The whole bloody town stank - I'm not kidding. Seriously unpleasant. Must've been worse for Matt White, who, being a vegetarian, was furious when all the vegetarian packed lunches contained fish.

Year 9 was mostly uneventful. A trip to Swansea (I think), with the opportunity to climb a wind turbine from the inside and see what it was like about 200 metres up. That was a flight of stairs I'm enemies for life with - my poor, unexcercised legs were like jelly when we got to the top, so the should've-been-easy descent needed mastery of the technique of not falling forwards and plummeting to certain death. It also featured the final SATS tests, which I did fairly well on (Maths - Level 8, English - Level 6 (killed by literature), Science - Level 7). It was also Year 8 or 9 in which I hit the limit for a spelling test which determines your age, by getting an unprecedented 100% on it.

Year 10 was just a bit boring. Plain and simple. However, its end signalled the start of what would be the most up-and-down six months of my life... starting in June 2006. Work experience. Those ten days of doing what my father does were the slowest of my life. I spent two nights in tears and I very frequently passed the time while doing it by calculating how many thousands of seconds were left before the end of the work day... then counting down. You can't squeeze saying "7,213" into one second so after a hundred or so I'd recalculate and express pleasant surprise that the number of seconds that had actually elapsed was about double those I'd counted. Please, please take note that this was MORE FUN than doing the job. Only three things good came out of doing this stuff - it's where my love of Bovril began, I got £80 for doing it (I was never told about this beforehand so there was no "ooh, I'll get paid" motivation for it), and I now know never, ever to enter the mechanical industry. I'd also mention having Mr Hewitt, the high school headmaster that was leaving that year making it the last time I ever saw him, as a high point, but it was kinda saddening really. He was an amazing bloke.

The summer holidays made up for the woe of that lot. I was invited to spend a week on holiday with a friend. This was amazing fun and once again spawned a nice little handful of anecdotes. The time when we were both hungry at 11pm so jumped out of the caravan window and ran to the nearest 24/7. The swimming pool, which contained a very spoilt brat that wasn't getting anything she wanted (yay for sadism). The actual getting to the resort and the going to ASDA on the way there, in which it rained so, so horrifically ASDA was evacuated due to flooding and my parents had to give me £20 to buy myself a cheap new pair of shoes for the holiday to make up for the newly ruined pair I was wearing. The time we accidentally spent our bus fare on rides at Pleasurebeach and had to walk the five miles back to the resort, with no money for drinks (it was a scorching day). The time we walked to some of his relatives, another multiple-mile trek, had KFC there, watched Dora the Explorer, then tarted about in a nearby playground like a pair of thugs. The list goes on. Sadly, later that year, I lost contact with him. My only hope in reaching him again is his sister's Netlog account. I'm not a stalker, I promise.

Then came something I'd never have expected, given my social status, looks and personality - I got a girlfriend. Just to skim the gruesome details, we did... things... but I think my nasty, nasty "have to please this girl or I'll end up unhappy and single again" reflex kicked in, it drove us apart, and, woe and betide, I ended up single again, a status I've maintained now ever since. Do I regret it though? No. It taught me things I never would have otherwise learnt, and when I do find another girl I want to be with who, of course, wants the same thing back, I'll hopefully be readier.

So this is now January 2007. Put into GM perspective, YoYo Games was a splash screen, Game Maker was newly 7.0, and I was a dipshit. My best game was a boring (but quite long) maze/platformer hybrid with substandard racing and flying levels about 70 levels in. (It's called "Gamanstake" if you want to get hold of it.) Skipping several months because I didn't release much noteworthy bar Elemence Gold, the predecessor to AuX which is still on YYG today, and schoolwise nothing happened other than awkward encounters with my ex in corridors and the GCSEs, which I frankly didn't revise for and passed all ten anyway. That was basically where I should have said "okay, that's enough. Education, I'm done with you.". But I didn't.

And, in the single most regrettable thing I've ever done, I spent two years in Sixth Form. Two years I could have used to actually be productive. But nope, I threw away two years of my life, which is probably about 1/40 of my entire life (less if I'm being pessimistic, given the amount I've been sick lately and how unhealthy I am anyway), when as little as the first week in I knew it was a massive mistake. The only subject I passed (and it was a poor pass) was in design & technology, which Hartismere basically used for "woodwork". I will never do woodwork in my life. I did do a computering course but it was utterly leftfield to what I WANTED from a computering course, and I ended up failing it due to my inability to work the devil's own PC program, Microsoft Access.

Since leaving, I've been very lazy but also a lot happier. Two years of shite, proceeded by what is now nearly 11 months of actual productivity. It was a non-starter to begin with - my mum went into hospital for two weeks in June '09, leaving my drunken father with the opportunity to basically degrade me in every way physically possible and put me into a genuine depression that took about a week of my mum returning to start going away. What did keep me a little cheery during those tough few weeks was that I'd just released Innoquous 3, probably one of my best, if not my best, game to date. Since then, I've basically had the ups (madnessMADNESSmadness), the downs (1n23g4r), and the centrals (It Only Takes A Second).

Now, I'm hoping that I can get this job with YoYo Games, move to Dundee and give my life a little kick up the arse. It's what I've been needing for a long time.

That's by no means comprehensive. I've left hundreds of details out, either accidentally, non-notability, or in a couple of cases secrecy. But I hope it's been enjoyable to see my rather banal life, with all its points fit quite easily into a single box. Anyway, I'll see y'all in the next blog!



  1. Cool story!
    Good luck with the YYG job. :) I had almost forgotten that you were a mod there. :P

  2. That was an awesome post. I actually read it all. O_O

    Kinda reminded me of some things of my past. :3

    Good luck with YYG; starting a new life there sounds like just what you need. :)

  3. DarkDude: He's not an MOD anymore!