Feelin' East Anglia

(a Cambridge Mini-Meet)
(or.... something like that. I dunno. Don't ask me...)

Juliana Hatfield's gorgeous song of small-town blues has rung truer than ever with me recently. It may have been written about Juliana's experience of Cambridge, MA, but it's a song that closely reflects my own experiences of Cambridge, England.

"I just want to be entertained; I want to feel alive again."

Faced with the prospect of yet another soul destroying weekend of alternately wandering round town trying not to laugh at random strangers and making everyone's head bleed in the chatterbox, somehow a little 'social activity' (which I normally avoid like the plague) didn't seem like such a bad idea -- the idea of a miniature noder meet in Cambridge? This I had to see...

wertperch ('Kevin')
Hitching down from Nottingham for the weekend; chief instigator of activities and maker of decisions. Almost sociopathically charming, apparently capable of charming the pants (literally) of anybody, and entirely unapologetic for it.
(darsi) ('Lila')
To borrow wertperch's words, an "absolute sweetie", hyperanimated and all too eager to make threats of physical violence, but in the nicest possible way.
call ('Colin')
Me. I'm dull. The quiet one, though you'd probably never think it from the chatterbox archives.Who would've thunk it?

Friday night GTKY at The Regal, and some challenges. Trying to find people you don't know by sight in Britain's largest pub, and avoiding real life huggles (only mostly successfully). (Issues). Connecting faces and voices with nodes is an interesting experience. (darsi) was in many ways almost exactly as I'd imagined. wertperch, however... I think on some level I'd assumed he should be old enough to know better. There's no repressing the teenager in some people, I guess :) Virtual attendance by text message was observed by dwardu and BlueDragon too.

By virtue of stowing wertperch safely at my place for the night (via a trip back on the 'School Bus'), and seeing the world through the eyes of an editor for a short while (and also deputizing for the fingers of Klaproth on dvorak keyboard) it was nice to have a few of my own opinions validated, but also cast a whole new light on the amount of mess there is in here. Suddenly I've gained a whole other respect for dannye.


Living in the place for over 2 years, doing "the tourist thing" always seemed somehow inappropriate. Having the excuse of a genuine tourist in tow, though, provided more than enough justification to wander round staring impolitely at the spectacles and curios of the strange little town (after coffee at the Corn Exchange and coming to an agreeable contract of mutually assured destruction. Burning Down The House being the chief threat subscribed to by all parties.)

Punting, for instance, involves a level of skill and experience that can only be appreciated when observed practiced by a complete novice. Pushing a boat along with a stick might sound easy, but in reality it seems a lot more like playing Defender with an articulated truck. Of the atrocities we saw, there were at least 2 collisions, one well veiled attempt to knock down Mathematical Bridge, several novices punting backwards and at least one committing the local heresy of punting Oxford style.

The one advantage we could find in the form of transport, however, is that it does get the tourists within easy paddle whack range of the ducks. Suppertime treats for all, if you have the will. Most tourists seem to make do with simply taunting the ducks with bread, snatching it away from them when they attempt to take it. Cruelty.

Then on to the Fitzwilliam Museum for a spot of the old 'cult-chyir'. And because they don't charge an admittance fee. Points were scored all round:

Yay for us! No XP or upvotes were garnered for the experience, however. And I can't quite remember the name of the artist who painted the snowy French landscape with the inexplicably dynamic trees which stuck in my mind because it made no sense whatsoever.

Random points throughout the day were devoted to avoiding wertperch's newly acquired disposable camera. I'm... not photogenic at the best of times, and with 3 or 4 days of face-fuzz, Saturday was definitely not one of the best times. (darsi) having her own issues with photography, this lead to several suggestions that the disposable camera should, indeed, be disposed of ahead of schedule.

Then, naturally, on to another pub, The Mitre in this instance, for coffee. And then beer (or, in my wussy-ass case, Coke). Notable quotables:

"Oh, I had an excellent cocktail there once. What was in it now? Uh, there was absinthe, and ... uh ........."

-- wertperch

"G4/500...? Good machine!"

-- (darsi)

...along with the inevitable discussions of topics such as Linux distros and device drivers and switching hubs, editorial policy and writer's block.

And there's so much more that I want to write down, to remember, but it's already slipping; soon enough all I'll remember is how much I enjoyed it all... and besides, you've all stopped reading by now, haven't you?

Now I just have that nagging feeling that another of those 'decision' things will be expected of me regarding the 17th. Decisions, decisions...!

Consider this your written warning
(or How I learnt to stop killing people and smile sweetly instead)

I was told I could add here so being in my nature to disagree with anything at all that is said I will happily do so. First of all there is no mention of kittens in call's write up. Not a word spoken about the little fuzzy monsters. Not even a whisper about those mortal little balls of teeth and hair. So I have come to rectify the situation. During the remainder of this write up please substitute every other fourth word for kitten, also change the words beer, sweet, cold and call for the word evil.

The Players
(Yes I know you already know)

wertperch - If I try to describe wertperch all I can do is laugh. He is like the wertperch we all now and love here, darling, sweet and ever charming but he is also evil in a funny way, a man to look out for. Word of advice: Never ever let him near lighter fluid.

call - He is quiet. Really quiet, and he doesn't smile much he just watches people. Sometimes though I would see this evil glint in his eyes that would make me want to hug him. I tried a few times but only managed a partial victory. It was still fun to watch him jump when I came near him.

(darsi) - Me, me, me!

Act I
(Friday. And no, I am not going to do the stage directions)

After a day of planning in the vaguest way possible ("We'll met somewhere and find a place for coffee") I left work at 17.00 and ambled into town, finding myself with few hours to kill before wertperch arrived and call got out of work I decided to have a gourmet Starbucks coffee at Borders and leaf through this months film magazines. At 17.20 I got one of these life-threatening calls that mean you have to interrupt everything you are doing immediately. So I had a rather hurried and sad conversation with my almost ex-boyfriend before jaunting down to The Regal to find wertperch somewhere. Lucky when we saw each other we both knew exactly who we were so a flurry of warm hellos ensured and we dashed into the pub to find alcohol. After a nice GTKY chat (but not much 'cause he is my mentor after all) I went in search of more booze and cigarettes while call found his way to table. I have to say now that call is a lovely boy (sorry dear but you are), quiet, reserved and though at first scared of me, maybe I am mistaken as I was well on the way to a Guinness induced stupor by then. If you ask me what made the evening so wonderful I couldn't tell you. I loved the company and loved the conversation (whatever it was) and I loved the whole setting. What I do remember an argument about awkward silences that turned into an awkward silence. Or maybe it was the other way around.

Act II
(Saturday. My feet are cold)

I woke up remembering a promised SMS from Kevin and promptly saw that my purple DM's had fallen on the telephone and appeared to have turned it off. Further investigation showed that it had made a long distance call to someone called "Grandma" in Spain, I can only assume this is the grandmother of my flatmate in Bilbao whose phone I am using. This 5m 14s. (!) call had managed to run down the battery and use up my credit. After sorting that mess out I woke up enough to log on to E2 and to my surprise found call and wertperch nattering away. After the normal morning hellos and strange conversations about darsi and kitchen tables in the catbox, I looked out the window and saw a glorious sunny day. With my usual lack of attention, or thought for that matter, I happily donned a long bright skirt and summer sandals.

After making it into to town without losing any toes to frostbite I found a table outside a nice cafe. Eventually wertperch and call turned up dragging me from my Philip Pullman induced heaven. Since the place I was at was packed (I also forgot it was Saturday lunchtime when I left the house) we wandered around the back streets of Cambridge and had a nice, though smokeless, cup of coffee at the Corn Exchange. I do believe there were threats of arson, murder and talk about stupid names. The general consensus was that random acts of violence against each other were to be planned acts of violence against each other instead in order to maintain politeness and good vibes. By this time my feet felt like they were going to crumble into shards of ice at any moment. Since both me and call seem to be the least decisive people on the planet, the tourist and the only person in the group who had no idea where he was going led the way. I got to sort of dance on a grave, wertperch got his camera and call found out that he is just as sad as me.

The next stop was the backs of the Cambridge colleges, a nice walk along Kings Parade even though the camera was brandished a few too many times and temptations to dispose of it were great. I hate pictures. The Mathematical Bridge even though one of the most boring landmarks you can imagine; a small, old and ugly wooden bridge that is locked form the public turned out to be great fun. Various ideas of how to variously kills tourists, ducks and students with machine guns were thrown about. My feet had shrivelled up and died by this point

From there to the Fitzwilliam Museum, which as call said is free and very cultural. A bit stuffy and in desperate need of a lick of paint it is still has a big, decent display. The whole experience for me was rather ruined by the fact the staff kept staring at me all the time. Maybe it was the skirt, maybe it was me, whatever it was it was unnerving. But despite all I enjoyed staring down a sixteenth century painting of the Trojan Horse scene, the artists name escapes me but for some reason the whole painting just made me sit there willing for it to go away and come back improved. With our own little additions to the cause (typos, nit picking and rescue) I think we all had a great time.

The tourist experience was well round off with a sausage inna bun (at cut throat prices) and a few drinks (too many) in a lovely pub down the road. After making fun of the punctuation and the overplayed humour in the menu we settled down into a nice conversation about…everything. I was even allowed to show my true colours for a while when they discovered my secret identity. I believe the quote that quote missing from call would be:

- Please don't do that. I mean it. Stop it.

I didn't stop of course. He should have known better by then. After a mutual agreement that it was time to go home we wandered down towards the bus stop with a quick stop at Burger King where I consumed a large amount of cardboard rings and the guys enjoyed a rat burger, I mean Flamer. After a quick hug and a wave we all dashed away and I arrived home tired and totally in peace with the world.

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