Another day led to another challenge. Photograph a robot.
I made it harder for myself than I needed to. I responded, "Not a droid."
That would have been too easy. There is a droid in this house. Too easy. In any case, my challenger has somehow managed to avoid absorbing information about Star Wars.
Our house also contains a Clockwork Man from Doctor Who. There are probably other forms of robot too. One thing we don't have is the robot from the Magic Robot game, the one that pointed to all the answers to general knowledge questions because it was so clever.
I remember in primary school I would be a little jealous when people brought that game in for the last day of term. Briefly jealous. Only briefly, because after five minutes the game started to get a bit dull, the novelty of the robot having worn off. I never had that game. It wouldn't have helped me either for this challenge because the BBC pointed out that it "is not a robot" so it would have only gained a false success by photographing it.
I wanted to find a robot when I was out. A proper robot. Preferably one that looked like a proper robot. Like Robbie, or the one from Lost in Space or Metropolis. A proper honest-to-goodness robot of the kind someone of my age would have drawn at school if asked to draw a robot. There are so many kinds of robots - one of our local hospitals was the first in the UK to have more than one robot surgeon. But I wanted a proper one. The kind you might have found on the cover of Isaac Asimov sci-fi novels. A robot with three laws. Not a welding robot from a car factory.
I caught the Metro into town and made my way to the Sunday Assembly, all the while looking for robots. As I left the Metro station I encountered three artificial men. Here's one of them.
This is one of the potential selves of a man. He is artificial, sculpted from bronze in 2003. But he's not a robot. I walked on.
I deliberately passed another creature and was sad to see that some attractive graffiti I'd photographed a few months ago had been totally spoiled by horrible graffiti. The original had added to a wall in a back alley. Now it was just ugly.
Even had it been unspoiled, this would not have completed my quest. Because a cyberman is not a robot. It is a cyborg and that's a very different thing.
On the other side of the back alley I spotted that a homeless soft toy had been sleeping rough. Homelessness - of humans, not soft toys - is a big problem here just as it is across the country. I read this morning that the number of homeless people has doubled since 2010. Another example of the results of the policies of our caring, sharing Conservative government.
I walked on and approached the venue for the Sunday Assembly. This is The Core, the first of many buildings forming an area of the city being redeveloped mainly for scientific enterprise. A science place. Maybe I would find a robot there.
But no. There was no robot. Death was there though. Also attending the assembly were a witch, a zombie, a vampire and a range of other curious people. After the assembly I went for lunch with some people. An uncharacteristically social thing for me!
I was among geeks and so asked if they knew of any robots to photograph. Inevitably the conversation then descended into definitions of robot and also to complaints about an exhibition held at the Centre For Life here earlier in the year. It was called Robot. It included Iron Man. Not a robot. An alien from Mars Attacks. Not a robot. An Imperial Stormtrooper. Not a robot. The Borg Locutus. Not a robot. There was some justification for the complaints.
After lunch I went on to the geek shops of Grainger Street. Surely I would find a decent robot to photograph in one of them. But no. They are full of superheroes, Star Wars, Doctor Who, and Warhammer. Robots aren't the big thing and there wasn't a decent robot anywhere. I did spot this though, which has made me want to reacquire a copy of all the books and read them again for the first time in many years.
I seemed unable to find a robot. It was tempting to fall into despair and agree with these two droids - who would have meant the completion of my quest had I not banned droids from my challenge.
I walked on and spent some time having my eyebrows threaded. I used the time to consider my quest. And also to consider spirituality and religion because that kind of thing is in my head a lot of the time. The threading location didn't have a robot. It had some attractive Hindu deities but no robot.
Leaving the salon I looked up at this. The Emerson Chambers. Surely a building such as this one might contain a robot. Especially as it contains a bookshop with some toys and a children's section. I entered, full of faith that my quest was nearing completion.
As I walked around the children's section I had another thought. What if I could find something in addition to a robot. What if I could find and photograph something like this:
Yes. That completed the second challenge from the previous day. To photograph a pink flamingo. I found these in a gorgeously illustrated book, Midnight At The Zoo, by Faye Hanson.
But it wasn't a robot. I couldn't find a robot anywhere in the children's section and was beginning to give up hope as I explored the rest of the shop. I had already worked out in my head how to create a robot of my own when I got home. But then, a miracle. A blessed miracle. [Okay, so it wasn't a miracle in the strict sense of the term. There had been no suspension of the laws of nature as a supernatural being stepped in to override the universe on my behalf.]
I found this. A robot. And nobody could ever tell me that this isn't a robot, because it says "ROBOT" on the front.
I also found this creature but he would not have counted as a success for the challenge. I could only photograph the box, not the robot inside. I asked him whether he would agree to come out but he was a particularly shy robot and said he preferred to stay inside. I explained to him about the photographic challenge and that he would be helping me a lot. After some hesitation he did agree to come out of his box. But he would only do so if I agreed in return to give some money to some people standing behind a counter. Bribery! I wasn't going to give in to that. And so I only photographed the box. It was fortunate that I had already found the other robot. A robot who was only too glad to have its picture taken.
I left Emerson Chambers happy. I had completed the quest. And I walked through the city centre with a new spring in my step. It was quite uncomfortable as the end of the spring dug into the sole of my left foot. It also made it quite difficult to walk. I only had one new spring. My right foot was springless so I was quite unbalanced and I must have looked even stranger than usual stepping off one foot gently and bouncing three feet into the air from my other foot. It's a wonder I didn't cause an accident. As I approached the end of the street I sat down on a bench and removed the new spring, carefully placing it into a recycling bin.
I had time to wait for my bus so I spent the few minutes wandering. I was tempted to walk to the hospital and see if I could take a picture of someone smoking in front of a no smoking sign - the photographic challenge I had refused. But I wanted to get home so just took a couple of pictures from the university campus.
It had been a good day out. The Sunday Assembly. Yay! Lunch with nice people. Yay! At the bun shop. Yay! And an enjoyable and successful robot quest. Yay!