For those who missed it, a brief update on why certain people may be ashamed to show their faces around here for a while...
Admittedly I was about half an hour late turning up at the Sun in Lamb's Conduit Street; detained by a film preview at the NFT ("Deadly Advice", British dark comedy, rates about 5/10 but some brilliant cameo performances) and apparently I missed the first three rounds of drinks and Foddy announcing the exciting news that he and Fis are going to be married next month. I hope the two of you are blissfully happy together -- and it's a lovely ring, by the way. I also remember being particularly struck by Richard Clayton's fetching two-piece outfit, made entirely from ribbon cables and the errata pages from a Unix manual.
Anyway, after some of the usual horseplay (Lance will be getting the dry-cleaning bill for my Armani suit after that scrambled egg stunt) Cliff, Giles and Mark announced their intention of drinking the pub dry by way of recovering from this week's ftp crises. There were protests that they'd never manage it (since the Sun carries over 40 real ales on tap) but they were not to be moved. Being teetotal and not very thirsty I offered to help out with the peanuts, but was turned down.
Things got a bit blurry after this, but I recall Charlie Stross beating one of the regulars to death with a copy of modem.txt because "he didn't like his shoes", and someone -- could have been Paul Martin -- reprogramming the video trivia game to play Doom. By this time the place was really humming and almost every table had a laptop or palmtop on it. I wish I could remember who it was who'd brought the acoustic coupler and had logged on to IRC via the payphone. I definitely remember Murff trying to sell me some "hot codes" he'd "scored" recently (although they looked like radio frequencies to me), because I think it was at this point that Flatline crashed his Range Rover through the pub wall and burst out through the windscreen, waving his massive .sig around like a caber and demanding retribution and justice against all who had maligned him. Paola, Frank and myself swiftly made our excuses and left for an enjoyable face-filling at My Old Dutch.
To those of you who are asking yourselves why you weren't there, we were wondering the same thing. Where WERE you people?
-- James Wallis (firstname.lastname@example.org++++Writer/Editor++++The Wonderful Pig of Knowledge) sez: The first step towards becoming a professional writer is to stop talking about how nice being a writer must be, and go and write something++++++++++++
It's 3am and GLR has just announced that the police cordon around the Bloomsbury area centring on Lambs Conduit Street has been eased off and the fires are dying down, although the national drought of Brakespeare's looks like it'll probably last the month at least. Traffic is still being diverted around the area, mostly due to the large pot-holes which have appeared in the roads. Winds light to southerly, good.
Things are still hazy, but they're beginning to come clearer if I concentrate and can blot out the buzzing in my ears for a moment. We went back to the pub after eating, to find the party still in full swing. Everyone was there. Empty pizza boxes and burnt-out EPROMs littered the street outside. Life was fun and life was gay for at least another few minutes.
It's hard to say exactly the moment when things started going badly wrong, but a stressed hush did fall over the pub when Fis went up to the barmaid and asked for a half of shandy and suck my penis. Scarcely had the conversation recovered when Giles, wearing a crown made from the remains of a smashed ethernet card, leapt onto a table and proclaimed that he was the god of all FTP servers and we should all bow to him in supplication or he'd go down again. He added that the machines were his friends, talked to him in his sleep and had promised that they'd be good now, but that they demanded regular sacrifices. He then produced a can of lighter fluid.
Obviously the strain of the last week had got to him, probably exacerbated by the article in Friday's Independent, which contained the lines: 'I can now give a step-by-step guide to how Apple Mac users in the UK can start "surfing the Net." Begin by phoning Demon Internet Services...' He'd been heard muttering something about "more support calls... more support email... newbies to the right of me, newbies to the left of me... why can't they just read bloody modem.txt... follow-ups to demon.ip.support.mac, please..." earlier in the evening, and his bloodshot eyes and general Scooby-Doo complexion had led several people to comment on the debateable and probably fragile state of his mind.
Anyway, I think it was Angus (could have been Jimbo, could have been NeilM, could have been all three -- I'd been sniffing floppies most of the evening and was far from compos mentis) who jumped on him before he could do anything with the fluid. Palmtops, radio modems and portable peripherals went flying everywhere as people dived for cover. No doubt everyone has already seen the press and media coverage of what followed; it was already on the front covers of the early editions of the Saturday tabloids on sale as we staggered home through the West End. As I said above, it seems to be dying down now although it'll be months if not years before that area of London recovers from the devastation, the looting and the destruction of an entire community; not to mention the uprooting of several fine and ancient trees and the defacing of a Grade II listed building which now has the words "Ia! Ia! Shub-niggurath!" chiselled across its facade in 1200pt Courier.
As you may have heard, police have issued a description of a man dressed (apparently) as a tall blue hedgehog, who they would like to question in relation to the event. I would like to state unequivocally that at no time did I see such a man, and even if I did I'm absolutely certain that he had nothing to do with the regrettable incidents of Friday evening. Besides, I don't think we should be apportioning blame; we should instead be trying to put it all behind us, to let time and memory blur the horrific details of what happened, especially the faces of anybody who might have been dressed as some kind of animal -- which, let's face it, isn't any kind of crime, is it? It's a perfectly harmless hobby... my goodness, is that the time? I'm sorry, I must be going now. It was nice to see you all, anyway. My sincere sympathy to all those who lost limbs and relatives in the tragedy, and I promise I'll be offering further platitudes just as soon as I get back from my extended holiday to somewhere very remote where they wouldn't know a blue hedgehog if he kicked them in the head. Which he may do.
-- James Wallis (email@example.com++++Writer/Editor++++The Wonderful Pig of Knowledge) sez: Bite off your tongue++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++Swallow it whole
Thanks, James, for that splendid description of last evening's events. Readers will note that James arrived half an hour late and so I shall described the events for that time.
Frank and I arrived at The Sun on Lamb's Conduit Street a little after 8pm. Emerging from our taxi, we noted the short people playing by the bicycles stands and our hands flinched at our weapons as one looked toward us. They seemed to be in a post-dinner stupor and so we decided that they were harmless, for now.
We walked up to The Sun and performed the Demon Knock on the door. There was no response and we knew then that something was dreadfully wrong. Pushing open the door a little, we could make out the dark forms of shadows moving back and forth over the wooden floor. We checked our weapons and pushed the door all the way open and entered The Sun. The ensuing silence was broken only by the sound of peanuts being shelled by someone obscured by the juke box. Of the peanut-sheller, I could only make out that he wore a pair of very shiny blue shoes. I made a mental note of his position.
After two minutes of staring at us in open-mouthed wonder, the shadows turned to their previous tasks and made a pretense of ignoring us. We calmly approached the bar and Frank asked me what I wanted to drink. I quickly withdrew my eaves-dropping detector and, when satisfied that no one was listening, asked for half a pint of shandy. Frank's drink returned in a large earthenware pot. The pot contained a fuming liquid laced with brown smoke. As we sipped our drinks, we looked around for our comrades. As our eyes fell upon each group, Frank stumbled forward to retrieve them. At the same time we noticed the group by the door. They had been looking over at us as well and so Frank and I discussed tactics of approaching them without being seen by the man in the blue shoes. We indulged in the ceremonial exchange of ohgoonyouaskthem and noimshyyouaskthem.
After ten minutes of such vigorous banter, I noticed that the man in the blue shoes was reaching for his shoe. I shouted a warning to Frank and I tucked down, rolled over, barely catching a glance to Frank to see that he had withdrawn his palmtop and was using it to break his way through the bar. I rolled twice, limbs held tightly against me, passing the man in the blue shoes, and then sprung up, grasping the small weapon from my boot. I levelled the weapon at the man's head, and said, in my deepest voice, "hey mister, you know you can't eat peanuts after touching your shit-covered shoe". The man opened his mouth to respond, but, before he could say anything, I sneezed on him a lethal virus that knocked him out. Before people could breathe out in relief, there was a commotion at the door as ten mishapen forms crashed through it and landed, writhing, on the floor.
From the shouts and equipment about them, we realised that these were the people we had been seeking. I spied a nubile blonde woman and held out my hand to her to help her up. She told me that her name was Fisella but that I could call her Fis. As she stood up, the wibbly form of Foddy, clasping Fis's hand, emerged from the tangled limbs, the smile across his face rendering him momentarily wibble-free. I smacked him across the back of the legs for Paul Allen. By now, the rest of the group were staggering to their feet and the murmur of "SX or DX?" and "laptop, notebook or palmtop?" could be heard. After the third round, Fis showed us her pea called Ness which, she told us, played a melody when sucked.
Too late, I noticed the tall man dressed, apparently, in a blue suit wandering through the crowds waving a large piece of paper. I opened my mouth to shout the warning to Frank but, when I looked over to where Frank should have been, I saw instead a blue cloud forming into the shape of a studded collar. Frank was squirming on the floor, fighting off the needles coming at him from the cloud, sweat breaking out on his face and spilling onto the floor. I blinked and the blue man was gone, only to catch a glimpse of a tall man in an Armani suit disappearing round the corner.
The rest, as they say, is history.
-- Paola Kathuria -*- ArcGlade Services Ltd -*- firstname.lastname@example.org