At last, the full, terrible story can be told...
The Aftermath of Bristol International Noder Meet
(by booyaa, edited and expanded by Tiefling)
DAY ONE - FRIDAY - ALIEN ABDUCTION AKA THE DAY BOO DIDN'T MAKE
<insert time lapse here / alien abduction>
Tiefling takes up the baton for the first leg. I'll try to use italics consistently for my own contributions here - booyaa put in a hell of a lot of work on this WU - if you like what's here, bestow your bounty on him. And so, on with the show. I strolled down to Paddington Station on the Circle Line after work on the Friday (so if there's anyone who can sadd something about what things were like earlier on the Friday, do let me know), had dinner, and caught the slightly delayed Great Western Trains express to Bristol. Upon arrival, I hailed a cab to the Youth Hostel. The cab had a 'no smoking' sign up, which didn't bother me, as I'm a non-smoker. What did bother me was that the driver was smoking. Eventually, I arrived in the vicinity of the Hostel. I dumped my bag in a room full of strangers, and headed next door to Arnolfini, to locate the noders. So dazed was I that I walked straight past a long table full of noders, and had to be hailed by wertperch. I settled in, chatted to insanefuzzie and assorted other noders2, and drank a too-hurried pint of Guinness before we all headed off in the direction of ascorbic's place, by way of the local takeaways and falafel stands. Ascorbic is a Very Nice Man, and his housemates deserve credit too, because they all put up with an enormous deluge of noders.
At ascorbic's, there was considerable consumption of Stella Artois, and I amused the gamers present by cracking open the set of Chrononauts I had brought with me. I apologise for losing track of all the noders who played this game over the course of the weekend. There were quite a few. HamsterMan in particular was wildly impressed. Those less enchanted by such things relaxed or began the use of the resident apple laptops (whatever they're called :-) to surf e2. I think it was also on this evening that I was introduced to the disturbing but hilarious Tales of the Blode. At length, the YHostellers (me, StrawberryFrog, Mortice and Trust the Doctor) headed back to the docks. On the way, we turned the wrong way and spent a long time wandering along riverside paths. arieh came some of the way with us. We got back a little late for the hourly door-opening, but were let in anyway. As mdn hadn't yet arrived, but had a bed reserved for him, I took it rather than spend a night with the strangers in the room I'd booked for.
DAY TWO - SATURDAY - BRISTOL INTERNATIONAL NODER MEET AKA THE DAY BOO DID MAKE IT
Before booyaa arrived, all we'd had time to do was to get up and have a spot of breakfast.
As with all noder gatherings I woke up filled with anxiety and worry. Unlike 'The Sensible Thing' I did not have the time to read everyone's bios let alone their writeups. I just have enough time to check the message inbox and get a shower. Turns out I would have to entertain myself until about noon as everyone was up really late and wouldn't be rising until much later on.
So much for an early start. There I was thinking that this would be no sleep till Brooklyn^H^H^H^H^H^H^Hristol but apparently even noders need their sleep! The train ride would prove to be non-eventful but when you're hurtling down two pieces of metal at 70+ miles per hours this is usually a good thing. The only thing I must say is that Bath Spa will be paid a visit soon I don't recall ever seeing a town look as pretty as it did from train. I strongly recommend a meet in Bath at some point.
I arrive at the Bristol Temple Meads station just shy of nine o'clock. Now knowing what I know about Bristol (via CNN crime bulletin) I knew this place was dangerous. I wasn't taking any chances so before I was going to head out I was going to tool up. I go to a W.H.Smith located inside the station and buy three disposable cameras for the price of two. I still have no idea how to get to this hostel so I ask the assistant who also doesn't know. With the aid of a city map we find the hostel which is located on Narrow Quay. I have an American moment and pronounce it /qu-way/ and proceed to be corrected by the other assistant,'It's key'. The hostel is a significant distance away (about a kilometre - anything over a mile for a Londoner is significant) and it's a very windy route to get to. (A kilometre is less than a mile - Ed.)
I pull out my compass to gain my bearings then as if to warn the wilderness of my presence I let out an almighty primal scream,
Hey - I'm a Londoner, what you expect?
Bristol Youth Hostel
I can heartily recommend this hostel again the staff were really sweet (some were hella cute too might I add). Very clean, just don't drink coffee or eat there. The only shock I had was when I thought someone had nicked my bag from the luggage hold. Turns out it had moved and then buried under more luggage.
The noder spotting quest begins as I meet up with StrawberryFrog, Tiefling, trust the doctor and Mortice.
StrawberryFrog and Tiefling are on a mission to seek socks (which I would later discover would be a re-occurring theme). Thoughts of Red Hot Chilli Peppers and sockpuppets pop in my head and I pray it's the latter. I can assure you that the socks were desperately needed, but only for putting on feet.
Bristol City Centre
The first thing I notice about the city centre is the vast quantities of dried blood on the pavement (which I would later discover would be a re-occurring theme). I'm not kidding being a Londoner I like to think my city's the one with the problems; okay granted Manchester has the monopoly for the headcases. It appears that Bristol is either inhabited by people who get nosebleeds a hell of a lot or these lads like a bit of rough and tumble.
StrawberryFrog and Tiefling are men after my own heart when it comes to sock shopping or shopping for that matter. There wasn't any posing in front of mirrors with their foot clothing or the dreaded enquiry, 'do my ankles look big in these socks?' they went into NEXT and went for blister (no pun intended) pack of five black socks. I must take this opportunity to sing the praises of black socks they may not be as classy as a pair of Burlingtons but they won't be a source of mockery as white socks and black shoes frequently are.
With our quest complete we make our way back to the docks with a view to reaching Arnolfini for some well deserved refreshments.
As we walk along the dockside trying to find a place to have a snack and drink other than Arnolfini which I can only assume the guys are now bored of (they all arrived the day before), I notice yet more dried blood. This time I ensnare Mortice in my morbid fascination and he too partakes in a new sport dried blood spotting. This novelty last about the same time it takes for a newbie who bitching about being downvoted in the cheddarbox to get borged.
As we go order our drinks I notice a missed call: it's an international call from country code 46. I contemplate returning the call as I fear it could be work related. Eventually I reason with myself that this could be a noder and it does indeed turn out to be - mdn.
The noder spotting quest count is four, well, five if you count the time I looked at the mirror first thing in the morning at home. <cue robotic laughter> Sorry folks this aftermath node is proving to be agony to write bear with me we'll get to the end eventually. I hope.
mdn arrives on the scene and now we are five, um, six.
Identifying noders in a crowd of weirdos(!) is a tricky task. We've all been there: the fear of strange looks or the pointing and laughter that ensues when we get the wrong group of people. Advice for future gathering organisers bring a sign or a symbol that us noders can immediately identify. A cuddly fur toy (like a monkey) is a good idea. Pint glasses are not. At about this point, someone mentioned paypal and the Donation Box, and I mentioned the difficulty of using it without a credit card. Somehow this developed into an impromptu fundraising event, and people began spanking the table-top with banknotes. I realised that, having said it, I'd better do it, and buggered off to the bank machine to get some cash. More moneyraising was to occur later...
banjax arrived at this point with Jordan (NNF) and that patented 'I really hope you guys are noders' look of hope. They were both rapidly assimilated into the group, and joined us as we lamented the lack of breakfast food at Arnolfini. There had been brekkie at the Hostel, but that doesn't count, least of all for me as I didn't order any.
Our table started to buzz happily with noderspeak. We may not contribute in frequently or share noding topic but we know about e2 culture and are savvy with the politiks. That and we all lead interesting and varied lives. Actors, teachers, students, office workers, civil servants and pornographers. Who is a pr0nographer? It's not you, is it, boo? As for myself, I freely admit to being a bureaucrat, and not a very good one, either. Once the next few noders showed up, we began to overflow our table and spilled out onto the dockside, next to a statue commemorating the discovery of mainland America by John Cabot, who sailed from Bristol. People began to go in search of lunch, and a consensus was needed.
Noders: wertperch, insanefuzzie,CamTarn,ascorbic, bexxta, Frankie, Teiresias, Hamsterman, Oolong and BlueDragon.
Noder count: 17
Bar Room Bar
Time is an illusion - lunchtime doubly so
Many of us adjourned to a bar opposite rejoicing in the name of 'Bar Room Bar'. They do pizzas, savoury pancake wraps, and pints of Guinness. I manage one each of these. Before the serious consumption of food and beer could commence, though, we had to do some impromptu furniture removals. Sofa-droppage ensued, including a moment when the entire thing got put down on my hand. Argh. Meanwhile, bexxta was employing her charm, persuasiveness and mad haggling skillz to get the bar to put the rugby up on the big screen (instead of the Cartoon Channel). Non-rugby-watchers played Chrononauts or just chatted. Frankie, Teiresias and others watched the rugby, and cheered wildly at intervals, leading others to say 'What did I miss?' Although I didn't watch the rugby, full respect is due to bexxta for wangling it. Did I mention that noders rock?
Noders: call, Siobhan, arieh
Noder count: 20
The bar had very interesting decor: inflatable rafts hanging from ceilings, strange illuminated boxes forming rooms within rooms, standard-issue industrial piping, very minimalist or something. More seats got assimilated and soon we had one huge noder seating pod. (I'm supposed to draw an ascii of before and after, but I can't. Sorry.) A writhing mass of noders sprawled out across the super sofa; mdn's ear kept playing up. More bizarre discussions, and a lamentation of the lack of regular playing cards. More than any other meet I've been to, this one resembled a physical journey through e2. All kinds of wonderful esoteric material was offered up by people for discussion, and it became quite difficult at times to follow the thread of conversation.
Ferry cross the Mersey (well kinda well no not even)
When we'd finished watching the rugby, we headed out to catch boats. Because some of the group had pre-booked tickets, we had to split the group at this stage. Never split the party! I was in the group that went without pre-booked tickets, and wound up at a pub called The Cottage. The skipper showed us his three point turn skillz, and just didn't ram the aforementioned bloodstained dockside. We saw coloured houses on the hill, where the ground rises up towards Clifton; a block of flats with no corners being built; and the Bristol Industrial Museum. The local architecture was to prompt various interesting discussions in the course of the weekend. The voyage (on the canal, not the Avon) was very pleasant, and we could just see the Clifton Suspension Bridge at the end of it.
Group splittage occurrs again!
A prewarning from the landlord about the hoegaarden at £3 a pop led to prudent drinks choice The beer was very pleasant at the Cottage, although a thirsty dog competing with the thirsty noders gave rise to a great deal of anxious pint-watching. At length, the others showed up. Banjax and I mulled over our pints and put the world to rights, especially with respect to education - he is a teacher, after all. Once we were all pretty much together again, we headed for dinner, by way of a sculpture of a hand, and ascorbic's place.
Noders: SharQ and Conquest
Noder count: 22
Boo's impressions of this fine establishment seem to be much the same as mine: Decor - Wood carvings of Chameleons and Crayfish. Real prawn crackers. Animal beer - Tiger, Kirin and Elephant. Food was sehr gut! Even made my San Miguel taste like plums! The Tsingtao wasn't bad either. Most of us were present for the grand slap up nosh which ascorbic had cunningly orchestrated. Discussion was wild and various over two tables of noders. I can't remember exactly what I talked about, or heard talked about, but a good time was had by all.
, princess loulou
The story about the drunken noder who broke beerage
The story about the drunken noder who pleaded with the staff to pay for the beer.
The story about the drunken noder who guilt ridden headed back to love shack laden with jack d and coke.
Booyaa, I didn't go to the offy. What are these stories? Update: Her Supreme Majestic Highness tells me that it wasn't her, but someone dropped and broke some beer. Apparently the off-licence guy was very nice about this little accident. Meanwhile, Hamsterman and I went and bought some packs of cards, for reasons to be revealed. We claimed we were going to the supermarket (50 minute round trip) only to get exactly what we needed at the local newsagents, and return in 5 minutes or so.
ascorbic's love shack
Bemused housemates (to whom much thanks is due). We played more Chrononauts, and also Mao. Some of those present understood how to play Mao. Some picked it up rapidly. Some didn't. Some ran like hell. Lots more discussion (which I'm sure some other noders will tell me about), and then, when the sun had set: !!pyromania w SharQ!! SharQ demonstrated his skills as a pyrotechnician by breathing fire, larking around with burning clubs, setting his head and arms alight (deliberately) and his face, too (not so). Those present were seriously impressed. SharQ looked a bit, well, flushed for the rest of the evening, and eventually decided to head for home and safety, announcing "So long, thanks for the cumcumber".
The Hell's Angels invade (well no actually it's jasstrong and lkchild (Noder count: 24)! jasstrong is über düde: she's ported linux kernel to solar powered parking machines, level crossing gates and supermarket freezers. StrawberryFrog is overcome and proceeds to worship her. Lauren rocks too - Tiefling : Arieh returns with NINJABONG (well sorta); we smoke some delicious apple tobacco. I thought it was lemon, but perhaps that was at some other point.
Why I love noders 3 conversation:
1 - Teiresias, Tiefling and StrawberryFrog - Wines
2 - Teiresias, insanefuzzie and arieh - Data mining (sounded like it)
3 - Teiresias and me - Work (yawn...my fault ;)
In search of food: Fresh blood!
Eventually, things began to wind down at ascorbic's, so the YHostellers (including mdn and loulou) decide to go and hunt some supper in central Brissie. Bad move, punk. As soon as we crossed the lifting bridge outside the hostel to where Bar Room Bar is, we found the cause of the blood on the pavement. Indeed, several causes. A guy banging at the window door and shouting to someone inside, "Come outside so we can have a good fight". People kneeling or sitting by the roadside or dockside clasping dirty paper napkins to open wounds. Lots and lots of pissheads. We slunk our way through this delightful company, trying to look about as threatening as blancmange, and made it out into the main thoroughfare. Where there were several extremely full cop vans riding up and down with the lights going. A tale of four takeaways (three were full: guess which one we went to get food in). Having made a beeline for the safety of the dockside outside the Hostel, we proceeded to tuck in. One mouthful inspired me to invent the new sport of chip flinging although I'll never compete at the Commonwealth Games - I didn't even get the soggy, inedible, half-cooked item into the dock. Shortly after, everyone inclined to the same view of the food, and we headed for bed. This time I did have to sleep in the room full of strangers, and additionally slept in my clothes. I understand I wasn't the only one: Crawled into bed (didn't even bother to remove bedding) much sniggering occurs from the opposite bunk.
DAY THREE - SUNDAY - THE PURPLIFICATION OF LAUREN PERCH
ascorbic's love shack - part deux
When boo and I were up, we couldn't find any other hostelling noders. After hanging around for a bit and trying to wake them with their mobile phones, we decide to go and get some breakfast at a cafe in a local science centre exhibit thing. This consisted for the most part of coffee, although boo sampled a deeply regrettable ham and cheese croissant before having a sandwich, while I had two coffees and a chocolate biscuit. During these proceedings we managed to contact princessloulou and get her to join us. We eventually joined up with the remining hostellers on the dockside and made our way to ascorbic's place.
'wert gets some ink juggling' The highlight, as it were, of this part of the meet was the ceremonial, fund-raising and generally hilarious dyeing purple of wertperch's chest hair. Full gruesome pictures of this can be found at werty's site. In short, siobhan and bexxta had what it takes to colour wertperch. Watching him wandering around topless and wrapped in cling film was ... interesting at that kind of time on a Sunday morning. It may well have been afternoon at that point, but I forget. By the end of the weekend we had raised £255 for e2! The cheque is in the post. There was also cooking, and cleaning, and yet more use of the macs. I became thoroughly disoriented for no good reason, but did my best to muck in. Full credit must go to the hardworking noders who did most of the clearing up.
Eventually, the meet began to split up. Some of us headed for Bar Room Bar (the area once again being free of drunken prats, present company excepted of course). There was a spot of dinner, and then I set off all on my lonesome to the station. Many farewells stopped me going straight away. Thank you all, guys. Then I had to run to catch the train, and literally just got myself aboard as the whistle blew. I then located booyaa, princessloulou, and StrawberryFrog, and we spent an enjoyable journey back discussing a wide variety of topics. Mind you, this opinion was not shared by a Guinness-swilling fellow-traveller in a nearby seat, who let everyone know, with and without his mobile phone, that the train was 'full of fucking foreigners', and as we got off, we heard him passing on the information that he'd been stuck 'with a load of tossers talking shite'. It's good to be appreciated.
1 - A parting quote from Tiefling
2 - ascorbic
, trust the doctor
. If I've left you off, let me know.