Dateline:- Not The Acorn User Show II SHEFFIELD July 1997
Yes, I know it is now December, and a few weeks have passed since
the event, but you caught out me and Chris by actually sending in so many
submissions for the issue this should have been on that there was no room
for it. You haven't escaped though, cos here it is now.
Well, here we are again. Another year has gone by, as has another
NTAUS, and we're all still ( mostly, apart from Neil who obviously could
not face the certainty of losing another argument ) talking to each other.
After a couple of weeks of right dodgy weather, which had me
alternately packing and unpacking me sun-block and me thermals, The Great
Day finally dawned clear and bright, giving the 8BS T-shirt the chance of
a second outing. ( well, I don't want to wear it out through over-use )
Scooping up the fair-weather gear, I headed for the Gateway to The North,
St Pancras. Yes folks, this time I was going in ( relative ) luxury on the
train. After last year's journey, there was no way I was going by coach,
and as the chauffeur insisted that he had booked his day off months ago,
and the helicopter was in for it's 10,000-hour service, it was either not
go, or go by train. So I did. Go by train that is. Reached Sheffield
feeling much the same as I had when I left London, albeit a few pounds
lighter; free tea and coffee on the train, but they more than get their
money back with what they charge for sarnies! At least I arrived relaxed,
rather than totally bushed as I was last year.
The train station is quite close to the bus station that I arrived
at last year, so referring to my trusty phrase-book " Northern-Speak for
the London Gent " ( see 8BS ad for details ), I managed to make myself
understood by one of t' locals, and found my way to the right bus-stop for
the rest of the journey. Sheffield bus-drivers must go to the same
training school as their counterparts in London though, cos just as I got
to the rear of the bus after trotting 50 yards up the hill, it pulled
away. Made me feel quite at home really!
The next one soon came, however, and after a roller-coaster ride up
and down them thar hills, I finally arrived in Walkley. Swiftly strapping
on the crampons, I set off up the final face to Jonathan's house, and did
I get a welcome when I arrived? No. I did not. When I got there, the house
was totally devoid of peoples. I knew I had got the right day, and the
right address, had they postponed it and not told me? Oh well, sort out
the priorities. Down to the shops, pick up some coffee, sugar, and milk,
and back to Jonathan's for a well-deserved cuppa.
Just as I get back to the house, a tatty old VW camper pulls up
outside. Could this be Chris just arriving, I wondered? No it wasn't. It
was Chris and all the others returning from a Take-away with face-feeding
materials for themselves, but none for me. They made some feeble excuse
about not knowing what time I was arriving as the reason for not getting
me any, so quick hellos were exchanged before they all trooped indoors, I
toddled off down to the chippy for me own vittels, climbed back up again,
and we all settled down to some serious odge-stuffing.
The others turned out to be Jonathan himself, Jon Ripley, Andy
Nelson, and Mark Usher all the way from Austria no less. The traditional
( well, this was the second year, and we did the same last year as well )
insults about hair, or lack of it, were made, whilst we exchanged travel
stories. The 8-Bit Canterbury Tales, I suppose.
Having fed me face, I got up to make some coffees, and met some
people in the kitchen looking for somewhere to put away their shopping.
More 8BSers, I at first thought, and greeted them warmly. The lack of
insulting replies identified them as non-8BSers, so I assumed ( how was I
to know if nobody told me? ) that they were students staying over during
the summer. The appearance of some children added to my puzzlement as to
their collective status, but as nobody ( not Jonathan anyway ) seemed
perturbed by their presence, I assumed they must be kosher. Having been to
Jonathan's before, and therefore knowing the layout of his kitchen better
( I thought ) than what I now took to be tourists, I kindly showed one of
them how to re-arrange the contents of the fridge so she could fit her
milk etc in amongst our tinnies etc. The reason for the bemused expression
on her face did not become apparent until much later, when someone ( not
Jonathan anyway ) bothered to tell me that the lady was actually
Jonathan's wife, Lydia, over from Hong-Kong with some of her family for a
holiday. Egg on face, or wot?
The actual chronology of events gets a bit blurred after this, due
mainly to the fact that I did not get any sleep until the wee small hours
of Monday morning, the reasons for which I will explain later, but I will
relate the main events of The Weekend as I remember them, even if they are
in the wrong order.
With Jonathan, Sheffield's answer to Sherpa Tensing, as our guide,
Chris and I set off into town later to pick up one Peter Shaw ( Shawty, of
Digital Solutions fame ) and add him to our merry band. He had, it seems,
spent most of the day on one coach or another, tootling around various
parts of the country. This wide-ranging travelling was apparently planned,
but what he had not planned was to be stuck on the sunny side of the coach
during his travels! The result of sitting in so much sun was a very sweat
and hotty Shawty, whose hair gel had set so hard as to resemble more a
miner's helmet than a hairdo, which was fortuitous in that he did not feel
his head hit the top of the doorframe as he got into the camper!
On our arrival back at basecamp, I took him round to the chippy for
sustenance, and helped him back up the hill to Jonathan's. Having fed his
face, he then started digging in what I thought was just a sports bag, but
judging by the amount of stuff that he pulled out of it, could only have
been his own personal Tardis. Software, software, and MORE software, as
well as the odd bit of hardware and even odder bits of day-wear, appeared
out of this seemingly bottomless bag. Machines were hurriedly cleared of
what they were running, so we could have a look at all his wares.
As I understand it, Mark ( who is actually mostly a Brit, but lives
and works in Austria ) is on a personal crusade to obtain every bit of
8-Bit software ever written, and any associated artwork, and preserve it
for posterity on a PC. A very laudable project, and one of very few good
uses for a PC. Consequently, he wanted copies of all that Shawty had
brought with him, and this was one reason why, in company with Shawty
himself, I got no sleep until the wee small hours of Monday morning, as we
set about the task of formatting discs and producing copies for Mark to
take with him. We also had some fun hacking into a game and writing some
cheats for it, but this was much more of a team effort ( yes folks, even
including our squeaky-clean Editor, oh how the mighty fall when there's
fun to be had! ) and, before you ask, no there are no copies available!
We all narrowly missed being locked in the pub one night, although
Jon and Andy did manage ( accidentally, they insist, likely story! ) to
get locked in the following night, and despite their protests ( they say )
were not allowed out 'til gone 4am, poor souls.
Frank Jones popped in again this year for a quick visit, although
sadly Mick Reeves was not well enough to accompany him on his travels. We
were joined late Saturday by Edward Bristow, who seemed to have brought
his whole setup with him in the back of his car all the way up from
London. Edward appeared a little bemused as we swiftly hoovered out the
contents of his car and set it up in The Show Hall (Jonathan's back room),
but the extra Master he had brought was sorely needed and, after being
re-configured due to having a bat flattery, was soon pressed into service,
and the pile of printed matter which accompanied Edward was also quickly
ransacked with cries of glee.
Poor old Jon and Andy got locked in the pub AGAIN. However, Sunday
hours are strictly observed (!) in Walkley , and they were turfed out and
home by 2am. Over The Weekend we also visited the pub during more normal
hours, played a few games of pool which some of us won and some should
have never, ever, been let near a pool table. You know who you are!
Chris only brought one toy with him this year ( so it's all his
fault we spent so much time in the pub, Gill ); a digital camera which he
produced from time to time to try and catch us in compromising and/or
embarrassing situations, presumably with a view to boosting the club funds
by selling the piccies to the tabloids. But we were having none of it, and
every time he pulled it out we fell about laughing, and the same applies
to the camera. He did get some good shots though, some of which were in a
recent issue. I'm the furry blur standing behind Jonathan who was sitting
down doing what looks like his Ernst Blofeld impression and stroking his
pussy, though I'm told it was a long-haired Yorkshire rat, sorry, Terrier.
Monday dawned bright and clear ( I know, cos that's when Shawty and
I decided that perhaps it was time to call it a weekend and get some kip
on the floor of The Show Hall ) and everyone else walked over, round, and
even ( judging by the trod-mark-sized bruises which appeared when I got
home ) on us, as they started making preparations for the journey home.
Jon had revised his travel arrangements to include going to Andy's
for the following week and, as well as trying frantically to alter his
ticket bookings to facilitate this, also appeared to be intent on taking
most of the contents of The Show Hall along with him, but unfortunately
he hadn't previously thought out how he would carry it all! What started
out as a cause of merriment turned to slight panic, as our mutually-agreed
deadline for leaving got ever nearer, with Jon still trying to make
arrangements as to where, how, and by whom, he and his baggage would be
transported. Eventually, with both time and tempers getting shorter, and
much firm encouragement from Chris, he managed to get something sorted out
before we sorted him out.
We all trooped out to the camper with our gear, Chris getting there
first and bagging the comfy front seat behind the wheel cos he said it was
HIS camper. We agreed on condition that he did the driving. Jonathan
bagged the other comfy seat in the front claiming that he needed to see
where we were going so he could navigate us around Sheffield's one-way
system. ( I think this was only an excuse though, cos I am sure I remember
passing the station at least once before we arrived! ) Howmsoever, with
that, me, Andy, Shawty, Jon and half The Show Hall, literally piled into
the back of the camper, waved a cheerful ( if rather cramped ) farewell to
Edward, Camm Street, Mark in his bright red sports car ( and you know what
they say about the substitution aspect of men with bright red sports cars
don't you? ) and set off on the first leg of the journey home.
Luckily it was downhill most of the way, so the ol' VW got us there
in time for our trains and bus. We all promised to phone each other, and
of course we haven't, but then who does? We all arrived safely at our
various destinations, which is the main thing. In fact, Edward ( who had
thought we would all be going home on the Tuesday ) had packed up all his
gear and only waited for Jonathan to get back home so he could say Ta-Ta,
and left soon after us, arriving home in his part of our Capital City not
long after I got to mine. Come earlier next year, Edward.
I am sure I speak for all of us in saying many thanks to Jonathan
for putting us up and putting up with us again this year.
Hopefully, within a few months he will have forgotten the amount of
disruption we caused, and offer to do the same next year? Maybe by next
year Neil will have found an argument he thinks he can win, and decide to
bring it along with him? I must say that I have far higher hopes for the
former than the latter. Still, fingers crossed! Cluke ( K6X )