Being a rather Tiefling-centric account of our subversive exploits in the city of that famed revolutionary, Robin of Loxley, namely and to wit:
Nottingham, in the county of Nottingham. With profuse apologies for subjectivity and amnesia, and many thanks to wertperch and frost, who put up with us all for two days.
Preamble: I got my stuff packed up for my
starring role as the Head of Intelligence in A Plot Thickens: Nottingham Noders Unite to Nobble Society on Thursday night. Not sure quite how the sleeping arrangements were going to work out, I duly packed my sleeping bag - which occupied about half the space available in my largest suitcase - the one I had taken to Australia with me. Thus encumbered, I made my way to St Pancras station very early on Friday morning. The rest of my family were off for a weekend in northern France, so I got a lift to St Albans station before 7am. Once I'd taken my case to the left luggage office, I got out and checked my tickets. I was a bit alarmed to see they said 'Not London' on them, as I thought I'd bought tickets from London to Nottingham. A telephone call to Thameslink customer service suggested I'd have to fork out a tenner or so for an additional ticket. When I got back to St Pancras in the evening, and tried to buy this ticket, the nice man at the ticket office said I didn't need it after all, as my season ticket would cover the difference. I took a big sigh of relief, and then realised I'd got there early enough to get the preceding train. Dash dash dash. Once I'd caught the train, I made myself fairly unpopular dragging my big suitcase the length of the train to get to standard class. I then dragged it, and myself, into one of the toilets in order to change and neaten up. It's not a lot of fun working out of a case that's more than a third of the area of the entire cubicle, and my mood was not improved when, as I changed, some idiot thumped on the door and yelled somethingincomprehensible. Not particularly wanting to leave half-ready, or to get thumped by this moron, I took my time. As the train approached Luton, I finally peeped out, to find the train a lot more peaceful. I stowed my case on the rack, got myself a burger for dinner, and settled down to try and read a book. A friendly traveller insisted on chatting to me until Leicester, and not long after that we were approaching Nottingham.
I contacted nine9, my fellow-conspirator and Commander of the North, on my
secret portable transmitter, to let him know I was going to be
"But you're not early! This is when I expected you to show up!"
Checking my watch, I saw he was right: Midland Mainline, in their infinite
wisdom, had let the train run late without telling anyone, much less apologising. I disembarked at Nottingham, and headed out to the taxi rank at the front of the
station to meet nine9. While he and I jabbered on our walkie-talkies, I succeeded in dropping my big, heavy case on my foot. Cue much swearing. Eventually, we made contact. Having done so, we dashed to The Salutation, where we were due to meet the Dear Leader. On arrival, we couldn't see any noders, so nine9 phoned the perch. Moments later, the bearded one emerged from a low doorway, waving and smiling, and we headed for 'the King Charles Snug', a cosy little room that seemed to be furnished with noders. I stowed my case and settled down to a pint of something simply called 'Dark'. I also made sure that nine9 sampled some, and he liked it sufficiently to order a pint of it himself. For some reason I was forcibly reminded of 'It comes in pints!' from the Fellowship of the Ring movie. Having ordered it, he then failed to finished it, and wussily returned to his Smirnoff Ice. I did him the favour of finishing his pint for him. I was also introduced to various noders I'd not met before, including dabcanboulet. As we were guzzling beer, CamTarn and 409 arrived, hot-foot from Scotland, and joined in the merrymaking. Once closing time approached, we all jammed into a taxi and headed for werty's place.
At werty's, we were introduced to the fabulous banana chair, and made tea. I, dabcanboulet, nine9, and frost headed down to the local Tesco to get food. I obtained a piece of Cheshire cheese, to demonstrate that some
British cheese does not taste like rubber. The others
grabbed various bits and pieces, and we headed back to the house. For all I know,
wertperch still has that cheese, because I totally forgot about it for the next two days. After chatting for a bit, we all retreated to bed, so as not to be too totally exhausted the following day. As I was sharing a room with the perenially talkative nine9, I didn't get as much shut-eye as perhaps I needed, but I wasn't sorry.
Part the Second: Saturday Afternoon at the Movies, and a Ghost Appearance
The following morning we got up slowly, especially wertperch, who remained
stylishly relaxed in his dressing gown for much of the morning. While we sipped
our tea, we discussed light and airy matters such as astrophysics, cosmological
topology, Christian and Hindu theology, and the difficulty of understanding Gödel, Escher, Bach: An Eternal Golden Braid. Eventually we got our act together and trogged down to the bus stop for the ride into the town centre. Nine9 and I went to buy bootlaces, and everyone else went to find the rest of our company. Once we'd changed our laces, we called Kevin and found ourselves charging past a funfair in the town square doing the 'Treasure Hunt'/'Challenge Anneka' thing, listening to wertperch over a mobile phone. Eventually we ran right past him, and headed for the cinema.
I did a double-take on arriving, as I wasn't sure whether we were about to go and see a film! In fact, the cinema was a real cinema, but contained an excellent
café and bar. The only drawback of this establishment was the continual
projection of looped films onto two of the walls. One film was simply stills from
other films - I spotted Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, the BLCoD (qv) spotted
something with boobies - but the other was an irritating, jerkily-filmed sequence
seemingly to do with the aftermath of 11 September, 2001 in the USA. I tried to
find other things to concentrate on, as images of burning skyscrapers are not an
ideal aid to digestion. At the bar, in addition to the folks mentioned already -
except dabcanboulet - were the Brummie Lesbian Contingent
of Doom! These charming young ladies invited nine9 and me to sit at their table, and declared me to be an honorary lesbian, and also an honorary outie. Deeply flattered by these attentions, and encouraged by nine9's superior talent, I was tricked into singing, and not for the last time, either. I'd like to apologise to anyone who was listening, and reassure them that no animals were harmed in the production of my singing voice. Having croaked my way through Es ist ein' Ros entsprungen, I rashly progressed onto Latin hymns, and was only prevented from going further by the arrival of my lunch, which I then failed to finish. The cinema café also proved its worth by having Pilsener Urquell on tap, and all three kinds of Leffe Beer - Blond, Brown/Dubble, and Tripel - in bottles. While we were having afternoon tea and taking photographs of each other, Jaz arrived, and a little while afterwards we set off to roam the city.
Not that we roamed terribly far. Having passed St Mary's Church and the
Galleries of Justice museum, we found that the redundant church which had
previously housed the Lace Museum was now a Pitcher and Piano pub/wine bar job, and so we headed inside. After ferreting around a bit, we found a set of tables big enough for all of us, and sat down. The service was not quick, and while we were waiting, HamsterMan arrived, completing our illustrious company. The music in the Pitcher and Piano was a bit loud, and not terribly good, and I had difficulty hearing myself think. Eventually, once we'd all eaten and drunk as much as we could stand, we headed back to the Salutation for the beginning of our 'ghost walk'. This first involved going and standing in the churchyard of the terribly trendy St Nic's church, where the tour guide or ghostmaster stood on some poor soul's grave an delivered a suspiciously familiar doppelgänger story. Then we headed on to a dark alley where we heard a largely conjectural story about a prostitute's dead baby. With numb feet, we pressed on to stand outside the Trip to Jerusalem, Britian's oldest pub, where we heard a long story notionally about the area we were in, but consisting mostly of an horrifically graphic account of the death of Edward II, and a similar explanation of hanging, drawing and quartering. Some of us were not impressed by the not-that-there's-anything-wrong-with-that attitude to Edward II's sexuality - for the record, the real problem was not that Edward had boyfriends, but that his boyfriends seem to have been total tossers - and some of us were also rapidly freezing in our shoes. nine9 and I felt the snug at the Salutation beckoning, and went to join the noders who had remained there...
...but who had disappeared. After looking unsuccessfully for them, we got drinks and snacks and awaited the return of the rest of the party. Eventually they came back, looking extremely cold but seeming to have enjoyed themselves. Not long after that, we miserable party-poopers headed back to the house, accompanied by the BLCoD, CamTarn, 409 and HamsterMan. The taxi drive seemed to know the city about as well as I do - ie, hardly at all. Eventually, we walked the last little bit of the way. Exhausted, nine9 and I turned in for the night, so some other noders will have to describe what else happened. The following morning I got up to discover HamsterMan offering toasted bagels and cream cheese for breakfast. These seemed amazingly popular, and HamsterMan was regarded with awe as their provider. Wertperch was not idle either - except in the matter of getting dressed - and produced very welcome tea, and coffee a bit later.
Part the Third: The Time Warp
Wertperch and I presented a tasteful array of dressing-gown wearing, and then,
while I was in the shower, nine9 was briefly spirited away by his relatives.
Fortified by coffee, I got out my battered copy of Chrononauts for the remaining noders. Frost took to the game like a duck to water, and HamsterMan was an old hand, having learned it at the Bristol International Noder Meet. A scar faery joined in keenly as well, and before long we were playing the usual rounds of 'spot the cockroach', 'kill the Führer', 'prevent World War 3' and 'catch the dinosaur' with great gusto. nine9 returned during the second game, spent the third game playing and learning as he went along, and then suddenly won! Well, not too suddenly. He showed me his hand first, asked me if certain moves were valid, and then proceeded to trounce everyone in an highly inventive fashion, briefly making Martin Luther King president in the process. I could see some of this coming, but was left staring at a hand of my own useless cards while he proceeded to clean up.
Then we had just enough time for a few more photos, and a soon-to-be-infamous
tape recording, before we needed to catch the bus to the station. We also packed our stuff, and nine9 left various things behind, and we did the Lord of the Rings alternative casting. Then we got the bus, HamsterMan, so save me, a scar faery, purple_curtain, nine9 and me, and were supposed to go all the way to the station on it. Just outside the Salutation it stopped for a time check, so after some pleading we got ourselves let out and went into the Oliver Cromwell snug for a spot of light lunch. We also sang a lot of church music rather lustily. Then we dashed to the station, and the Hamster and I threw ourselves onto a train which appeared to be about to go. It then sat in the platform for a few more minutes, so we got a slightly better goodbye after all. Then it was off back to London, work and all the usual.