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Northampton 1.0 and Milton Keynes 3.0: Report


From: "Dragon Prince" <brett.taylor@clara.co.uk>
Newsgroups: alt.fan.pratchett
Subject: [F] Northampton 1.0 a report of sorts
Date: Tue, 25 May 1999 16:38:25 +0100
Message-ID: <7icd01$orq$4@library.lspace.org>
Reply-To: "Dragon Prince" <brett.taylor@clara.co.uk>

well I thought I'd better get  report to group

Attendance Dragon Prince Grumbledook MrO CC Supermouce (hug) Gid & Suzi.
Spirti spirits mum, R Barry(the official sad bars***D) & THe AFPhantom.

Grumbledook picked YHN up from his humble abode and together travelled
to the site of the alledged meet.  On ariving CC MrO and Supermouse were
found to allready be in residance.  Gdook then preceaded to get the
drinks in.  SuperMouse requested fruitjuce and had her second loozer of
the evening. talk turned to chocholate as Maya gold and that rether
potent 98% cocca stuff that CC can obtain was produced as was a bar of
Lindt that to YHN's eyes looked more like an offencive weapon than a bar
of chookie!

Gid and Suzi appeared aproximatly 30 minuites after we arrived suzi
producing several bars of the better stuff. gid was in his element on
discovering the pub had several (eight IDB) real ales on hand.  Gid
settling for Timmy taylors Landlord ( a good Choise).  talk was talked
and subjects were geeked.  Spirit and her Mum arived and Hugs were
exchanged.

around 9.30 a ghostly angel in the form of the AFPhantom wofted through
the door of the establishment.
helos wer given and recived and moor old toot was tooted.


the non drinkers were knocking back the Looza's and those imbibing were
enjoying the ales on offer.  several beer menus were borrowed for
historical referance and YHN hopes to post a cpy on the web at a latter
date.

to give an Idea the pub has 20+ belgian bottled bears available along
with a simmilar number form other parts of the world 5  house draught
ales and upto 6 guest. and a range of over 40 singlr malt. truly a
drinkers paradice on earth.

for those wondering the Looza is a 100% natural fruit juice drink but
well you know afpminds and all that stuff.

around 11 the meet broke up with thoughts of MK3.0 the next day and the
exploration of bletchly park whitch in YHN eyes is well worth a visit if
only to fondle old putes or see the loft where Turring and co came up
with the first computer (dependant on definition etc).

A second Northampton Meet is planed for latter in the year.  more
details to follow.


From: "AfPhantom" <Jarrad@afphantom.freeserve.co.uk>
Newsgroups: alt.fan.pratchett
Subject: [F]inally - Northants 1.0, MK3, and one or two others...  VERY Long!
Date: Sat, 29 May 1999 13:11:36 +0100
Message-ID: <7iom03$ng5$1@library.lspace.org>

Deepest apologies for the meet report taking so long to
come off the press - this ghost has been most
exceptionally busy for the last week-and-a-bit, and
my journalistic tendencies have been laid aside in
favour of other considerations (such as looking for a
new job!) Still, for what it's worth - it's here now...

Skip this bit if you're only interested in the meet - the first
part is nothing but complete and utter unmitigated
wibble.

Not that the rest of it isn't also wibble  :-)

-------------------------

The Bit Before The Beginning - yet more train stories

-------------------------

It was a long weekend, but a good one. I left my house
at about three o'clock on Friday afternoon so as to give
me ample opportunity for some casual strolling of the
mile-and-a-half-or-so to my local train station, to arrive
relaxed and happy for the half-past-three train. This
would then take me on a short and swift journey to the
Malt Shovel Tavern in Northampton, therewithin to sample
some fine ales and pass the evening in light-hearted and
witty banter with my fellow afp'ers.

That was the plan.

The reality was that I got half-way to the station and
realised I had left my wallet at home, giving me ample
opportunity for some frantic running (uphill) back to my
house and a mile-and-a-half sprint to the train station.

Arriving just in time for the train, I leaped aboard in a
single bound and settled back secure in the knowledge
that I was on my way. My complacency was somewhat
shaken however, when I arrived at Oxford seven minutes
later to hear that the train I was on would be going no
further, due to a particularly well-aimed lightning bolt
striking the signals at Reading. This "Act of God" had the
dual effects of bringing the whole rail network in the south
of England to a grinding halt and various transport unions
into wholesale renegotiation of payscales based on the
likelihood of further divine intervention during routine
maintenance work.

By now I was beginning to regret certain aspects of my
Molemeet report, in which I had been unwise enough to
include some minor criticism of the disposition of certain
London Underground employees. I had a sinking feeling
that my karma was out to get me...

Having sat for an hour and a half on the platform at Oxford,
I finally gave up trying to get where I was going and just
settled for the next train headed somewhere other than
completely the opposite direction, which just so happened
to be a special service to Banbury. As the train pulled into
Banbury station I began to feel a real sense of progress
and cheerily remarked to the person next to me as I put
my book away, that "things can't get much worse",
whereupon the zip on my bag snapped off in my hand.

Hopping on the next train to Leamington Spa, I reflected
that I really ought to refrain from such unwise remarks in
future, but at least I was going in the right direction and
I wasn't going to let anything else bother me.

I am both claustrophobic and scared of heights, which
could account for the fact that ten minutes later I found
myself pressed against the door of the packed train in
a space which a sardine would have considered
uncomfortably small, unable either to stand up straight
or to avoid the wonderful view of the eighty-foot drop over
the side of the railway bridge upon which the train
remained stationary for twenty minutes.

Distinctly shaken and feeling somewhat unwell, I eventually
found myself standing on the platform at Leamington;
waiting for the next leg of my journey, which was to Coventry.
In order to calm my nerves, I went into the cafe to order
myself a cup of coffee - which was duly delivered with an
inordinate amount of money requested for same.

Pulling my wallet from my pocket, I was dismayed but by
now not entirely surprised when it disintegrated in my hand,
scattering pound coins to the four winds and allowing them
to roll joyously to freedom and safety in various filthy, sticky
and dusty crevices beneath the main counter. My best
estimate is that I inadvertantly spent about 8 on that cup
of coffee.

It was not worth it, trust me.

Arriving but an hour or so later at Coventry, I resigned
myself to the 75 minutes I would have to wait for the
next train to Northampton, and settled down to read...

....as the relevant train arrived, I started to gather my
belongings, only to discover that for the last hour and a
quarter my things had been sitting underneath a leak in
the roof and that my sleeping bag was wet.

If there is a moral in this story, other than "don't say nasty
things about UK railway services or you'll regret it", then I
haven't found it. All I can say is that I was very very relieved
when I finally arrived at Northampton train station at about
twenty to nine in the evening, a journey of roughly 47
miles having taken me more than five and a half hours.

Setting my features into the happiest grimace I could
manage under the circumstances, I strode into the
designated pub thinking to myself "this had better be
worth it..."

-------------------------

The Beginning

-------------------------

....and it was. Walking into the Malt Shovel to a cheery chorus
of "hello's" went a long way towards brightening my mood,
and the phrase "They've got a really good choice of beer
here," from Gid Holyoake (bless his 'eart) well and truly
completed the job. Within moments it was as if the last
several hours had never occurred and for me the meet began
in earnest (although others had been there for some time - if
you want to know about anything prior to my arrival, read
Monsieur le Dragon Prince's report!) Unfortunately, I am not
in possession of the quote file from aforesaid meet, so I
can't jot down for you any demented and/or highly ill-advised
phrases which may have found their way into the open
during this meet... and perhaps it's just as well.

It being the end of a long week, it could have transpired that
things went very quietly and slowly with everyone mumbling
gently into their pints before falling into a stuporous doze under
the nearest convenient table. However, this danger was
quickly averted by the presence of the lovely Spirit, whose
personality throughout the whole weekend was so bubbly that
we were continually stalked by representatives of Perrier
hoping for a franchise. :-)

You've heard of the phrase "Drunk on life," and similar
sentiments?

Well, don't believe a word of it - whatever it was she was
carrying around with her in that little bottle of hers would cheer
anyone up. Later in the weekend, people were so cheered
up by that same little bottle that they had to be tethered to
something heavy to stop them floating Mary Poppins-like
over the rooftops of Stony Stratford, but I digress...

You may, Constant Reader, have heard mention of a peculiar
fruit concoction going by the mirth-inducing moniker of "Looza",
predictably pronounced to rhyme with "loser". I will say little on
this subject, other than to recount a little snatch of conversation
I overheard...

Someone (sorry): "Shall we all go to the bar and listen to Gid
ordering a Looza?

Spirit: "No thanks, I just divorced one!"

Perhaps it _is_ a shame that I don't have the quote file, after all :-)

BarryR has to win the prize for bringing the most peculiar
object of the evening (and if it was not he then I apologise
in advance - and if there was something even more peculiar
there present and I just didn't notice, I really don't want to know!).
I have seen them before, if only at a safe distance - a sort of
bird-like Gonk onna stick whose sole purpose under creation
seems to be getting hauled to the top of its perch by someone
who likes this sort of thing and then sliding back down again,
head-butting the pole furiously as it goes. The effect was
strangely hypnotic, and I found that I had consumed two pints
of (very good) beer, eaten a bar of chocolate and composed
a flute sonata with my left hand before I could tear my eyes
away again.

This caused me no small amount of consternation,
especially when I observed that those people sitting
closer to the object than I were even more heavily under its
diabolical influence. Mark Dakto (dMark) was
absent-mindedly translating the whole of War and Peace
into Klingon [1] whilst being completely oblivious to his own
actions, MrO chewed a table leg into a passable imitation
of the Venus de Milo and Spirit's mum donned a nun's habit
and sang the whole of "Der Fliegende Hollander" in a
pleasing baritone with one foot in a bucket of brandy.

Apparently, I'm the only one who remembers any of this.

Eventually, the bird-thing was safely tucked away and the
evening proceeded apace. As usual, the conversation
took a turn towards matters technical... However, just as
I could feel myself giving up any vestiges of humanity and
becoming the full-on card-carrying triple-A Geekozoid
personality that is my eventual destiny, a reprieve was
granted in the form of an hilarious story from Spirit's mum.
Gleaned from the days of her time as a staunch upholder
of law and order, she spun us a tale of tragedy, passion
and 'coitus inseperatus' that conjured up images which
haunt me still... I won't spoil it for you by recounting it here;
for some things to come out well in an anecdote I guess
you just had to have been there, and she was. :-)

After this, talk quickly rolled back into the gutter where it
truly belonged despite Gid's valiant rearguard action in
favour of the huge list of obsolete electronics he keeps in
his house. His plans were thwarted by the arrival of a
strange, wizened little man with a tray of assorted
fishmongery who proceeded to peregrinate around the
pub a-selling of his wares to unwary customers, a tradition
of the area with which I was completely unfamiliar. My
normal reaction to such an event would be to say
something like "Oh good. Dead fish," and hide under the
table until he went away, but in this instance I (along with
several others) had a serious case of the alcoholic
munchies and we descended upon his tray with squeals
of delight; or at least, suppressed disgust.

Amazingly enough, this trick of going around pubs with
a tray of naked shellfish and similar fare seems to work
very well and I heartily recommend it to anyone who is
hungry enough to eat kebabs. Unlike this latter more
traditional food for the inebriated, the trays of pickled
herring I consumed that night didn't leave me feeling on
the following day like I'd eaten several pounds of wet
clay wrapped in cat fur, although it did have the side
effect of making everything taste of fishy vinegar for
twenty four hours.

The man with the tray didn't have a paper hat, nor a small
gas-powered time machine (WS) but he _did_ laugh
merrily when I asked him if his name was Dibbler...

At the time, I thought the laugh meant;

"Ho-ho. A fellow Pratchett fan! What an amusing fellow he
is, and all his nice friends too!"

Now I sadly suspect that the laugh _actually_ meant;

"Oh-oh, a six-and-a-half-foot drunken lunatic in a trenchcoat,
flanked by an even bigger lunatic on one side and a man with
a beard the size of Belgium on the other. Maybe if I laugh
politely they'll think I understand what the hell they're on about
and I can get out of the pub without being forced to give 'em
a good whelking."[2]

I must stop trying to be friendly to strangers when intoxicated;
as I never seem to get it quite right...

After the gentleman had made his swift departure, our merry
crew - stomachs now lined with essential oils, vitamins and
bits of plastic fork - got on with some serious drinking.
Naturally, we became somewhat more raucous in our
wassailing and carousing. After one particularly funny remark
and an ensuing screech of laughter from Spirit, glasses
smashed on the bar, the beer curdled in the brewery across
the road and the pavement outside was suddenly covered
in dazed bats.  I finally got to chat with the absolutely luvverly
Supermouse (for which I am truly thankful), and general
mingling and merriment seemed to be going on all around.
Nonetheless, despite all this highly enjoyable frivolity it was
soon to become apparent that no-one had changed the UK's
archaic and disappointing licensing laws and we were,
eventually, forced to leave.

Chiz, chiz.

My deepest thanks and sincerest congratulations to our
excellent host Brett for organising his first, very successful,
afpmeet. All Hail Northants 1.0!

My tale, however, is not yet told...

-------------------------

The Start of the Middle Bit

-------------------------

With great aplomb, the two designated drivers for those
afp'ers heading to Brett's abode - the redoubtable stalwart
known to the world as GrumbleDook and the formidable yet
retiring MrO - shepherded their respective groups of
drunken afp'ers to the appropriate vehicles and our journey
was underway.

I think that now is probably a good time for me to extend my
heartfelt thanks to GrumbleDook, MrO, and all those other
wonderful afp'ers who give up their time and car-space to
facilitate our various gatherings, and without whom I and
other vehicularly-challenged individuals would scarce be
able to attend afpmeets, lest we risk the vengeance of the
God of Rail...

I've done it again, haven't I?  I'm doomed.

Anyway, aside from a single inexplicable incident in which
an unknown object hurled itself at the side of Grumbledook's
car leaving a nasty dent, our intrepid crew arrived at Brett's
house without further ado.  Unfortunately, GrumbleDook was
unable to remain with us, having pressing business
elsewhere.  This left Brett, ccooke, Supermouse, MrO and
this ghost to go on to an extended and protracted evening
of further mirth and merriment, ably assisted by the film
"Austin Powers", starring Mike Myers (a.k.a Wayne of
Wayne's World).  All in all, it was quite a funny film in pseudo-
James-Bond tradition, which managed to parody an
inordinate number of venerable institutions in the first ten
minutes.

I only mention it because it also gave Supermouse an
opportunity to win my coveted Incongruous Remark of the
Year award...

[avoiding spoilers as much as possible]

In one scene, the slapstick humour is temporarily suspended
in favour of an impassioned speech from the leading lady
on the subject of the hero's infidelity.  Building to a triumphant
crescendo - poured forth in a torrent of wounded feelings,
anger and bitterness - she utters the line "...I think you're
going to be very lonely."   She slams shut a pair of sliding
doors behind her, pulling the drapes together as she does
so and leaving the stricken and angst-filled visage of
Mike Myers gazing prognathously after her.

Whilst the other members of the foregathered audience
stayed in a respectful silence at this emotional piece of
cinematic history, Supermouse leaned forward and peered
critically at the screen.  She cleared her throat as if to speak,
and we waited with silent tears in our eyes to hear what
tribute she would pay to this overwhelmingly sorrowful
depiction of human relationships...

"What horrible curtains!" exclaimed the singularly unmoved
Supermouse, which quite spoiled the moment really...  :-)

The film over, the exhausted MrO did his best to retire for
the night for some well-earned rest, whilst the rest of us
continued in unnecessarily loud conversation, totally ruining
the poor man's attempt at slumber.  Sorry, Maurice!
ccooke did eventually feel the need for sleep also, but
Brett, Supermouse and I burbled merrily onwards until
the following morning.  It was great fun and many geeky
things were geeked - computers, computer games,
medical conditions, archery, history, alcohol, chocolate
and good-old-fashioned gossiping managed to sustain
us the whole night through.  Of course, Brett - marvellous
fellow that he is - was also only too willing to supply
quantities of coffee and/or tea on demand, which probably
helped!  If there is any afpmeet at which there is a
possibility of staying up the entire night and talking, I
cannot recommend it strongly enough  :-)

When we eventually flagged, Brett (I seem to recall) went off
to read afp whilst we two remaining looked for clear bits
of floor to collapse unconscious upon.

Two hours sleep later, and it was time to continue the
weekend.  Once those who felt the need for breakfast
had headed MacDonald'sward and returned, the five
of us piled into MrO's car and we headed off to
Stony Stratford, thus beginning...

-------------------------

The Indeterminate Bit - Schrodinger's Afpmeet

-------------------------

Through no fault of MrO's, we found ourselves all five in a
car clearly designed for exactly four.  As two of the five were
ccooke and myself, this was possibly even more cramped
than it might otherwise have been, as either of us could
lose six inches from our height and still be over six feet
tall...  After a couple of abortive attempts at getting everyone
in we did eventually manage to compress ourselves
sufficiently to make the journey, albeit with a bumper
sticker that said "Warning:  Contents under pressure".

To distract ourselves from the distressingly intimate contact
we would have been likely to find ourselves in had the car
so much as run over a large pebble, conversation turned
this way and that until someone realised that, as there were
five of us in the car, we were technically chorate.  The only
problem was that we couldn't make up our minds whether
this constituted an afpmeet as we were currently in transit
between one meet and another.

It therefore fell to this ghost to decide that as we could not
make up our minds whether or not this was a meet - and as
the situation could not be resolved without the presence of
an external observer - we were in a state of both meet and
not-meet, and that the probability waveform would only
collapse at such a time as our meetness was absolutely
determined.  I therefore dubbed this occasion "Schrodinger's
Afpmeet", and it was agreed that at some point in time
an [Announce] would be posted.  The decision of the
moderators of a.f.p.announce as to whether or not to allow
the announcement to be posted would determine
retroactively once and for all whether the meet had, in fact,
taken place.

Thankfully we arrived at Stony Stratford before this line of
enquiry could be pursued any further, to the intense relief
of all concerned  :-)

-------------------------

The Middle Bit - Bletchley Park

-------------------------

At Stony Stratford, we five met up once more with BarryR
and Spirit.  After some discussion and the purchase and
consumption of far too many chips and similar greasy
items from a nearby fish and chip shop, we were ferried to
Bletchley Park - once more relying on the good auspices
of MrO for our transportation.

For those who are - as I was - unfamiliar with the history
of this manse, http://www.bletchleypark.org.uk/history.htm
actually provides a fairly decent precis of its both its
origins and its significance in the codebreaking
operations of the Allies.  Even if you are as aggressively
disinterested as I in the details of the Second World War,
the site nonetheless retains a great deal of interest for
those with even a passing interest in the development
of computing technology.  It was quite a strange feeling -
listening to the history of the place and looking at the
photographs and reconstructions of monstrous,
lumbering, archaic, machines [3] - to reflect that in less
than 60 years we have moved on from paper tape, great
big cogwheels and valves the size of sofas to moaning
about Microsoft, wondering which 3Dfx card will best
accelerate the graphics in Half-Life and buying computer
components which are slightly less difficult to assemble
into a working whole than the average set of technical
Lego.

Scant seconds after the second carload of afp'ers arrived,
the scheduled tour of Bletchley Park began.  Our guide
for the afternoon was a late-middle-aged woman with a
Welsh lilt poorly concealed behind a fake public-school
accent, who at first came across as a shining example
of the taxidermist's art before finally warming (slightly) to
her audience.  She completely failed to instill a sense of
awe and wonder at the history which had been made at
the park and told rotten scripted jokes as though she
was reading them from a Post-It note stuck to the inside
of her eyelids, but was pleasantly eccentric enough that
I quite liked her  :-)  The main thrust of her talk kept
coming back to unsubtle hints that the Park was badly
in need of revenue, and that the Arts Council had turned
then down twice already...  so if anyone is feeling
particularly public-spirited and hasn't yet fulfilled their
petition quota for the week; here you go - have a cause
on me!

Once the tour was over, the fun really began.  Let loose
on an unsuspecting site of historical significance, the
afp mob roamed the corridors of a large outbuilding in
which many exhibits were ensconced.  Not really being
all that fussed on the myriad of posters and suchlike
outlining the course of WWII and the part of the code-
breakers therein (admirable though it was), I wandered
off by myself for a bit.  Unfortunately, the first thing I came
across was the replica code-breaking machine set out
for unwary members of the public to try...  I rapidly
determined that any attempt to take up the challenge
and do a quiet bit of deciphering was likely to overtax
my meagre handful of grey matter to the point where it
would doubtless evaporate.  I was sure that my head
would implode from the partial vacuum caused by the
sudden disappearance of my remaining brain cells
and I was rather keen to get to the meet that evening;
so I scurried back to the others - consoling myself with
the thought that the people working at Bletchley were
obviously far more intelligent than could possibly have
been good for them - when we saw It.

It stood there with It's door invitingly open, promising
shadowy delights beyond the ken of the human spirit,
It's influence extending into the corridor where It
captured my fellow afp'ers and dragged them
willy-nilly into Its unrelenting grasp...

Only a group of afp'ers could have managed to
discover such a place accidentally.  We had died
and gone to Geek Heaven - we had found a computer
exhibition.

This was not the sort of computer exhibition where the
latest, shiniest hardware sits on gleaming pedestals
and fast-talking sales reps wave epilepsy disclaimers
in your face before slapping on a pair of dodgy virtual
reality glasses and putting 10,000 volts across your
pre-frontal lobe.  This was a true geek's paradise,
an Elysium, a balm for the troubled geekly soul where
electronic gadgetry so old and complicated that it could
only be operated by those over the age of 50 or under
the age of 12 was refurbished and resurrected, once
more to delight the senses of the vitally deficient.[4]

I shall not attempt to catalogue the contents of the room
as my tastes do not extend in that direction and I
regrettably lack the facility for memorising the long
strings of pointless acronyms that would represent an
accurate inventory.  Any error on my part would doubtless
see me struck down by the wrath of the Gods of Geek,
so I shall leave it to more technically apt minds than mine
to discuss the proud lineages of the venerable
equipment we encountered on that special day...

Instilled with a profound sense of the sanctity of the
place, the gaggle of afp'ers entered and discussed
antiquated hardware in hushed tones before settling
down to a few games of Pong.  In no more than an
hour's time - I deceive you not, Constant Reader - the
chap who was in charge of the place and who was a
computer history buff of the first water had been utterly
geeked into submission and actually left BarryR and
ccooke in charge whilst he went out for a coffee or
six.  Amazingly enough, he did not return to a room
devoid of everything but a boxful of dodgy silicon
and a mains lead, although BarryR - who shall remain
nameless - _had_ hacked the high score table of
Tetris to forever commemorate our visit, furthermore
leaving it in such a condition that it could not be
overwritten.

I can only hope that the Gods of Geek regard this
deed as a humble offering to their glory, rather than a
sacrilegious act of vandalism.  If t'was the latter then
I fear that the gates of this particular Eden will be
forever barred to this and other groups of afp'ers...

-------------------------

The Last Bit - Stony Stratford

-------------------------

Eventually we were forced to leave Bletchley Park, as
the thought of being locked in overnight with the
Ghost of Technology Past roaming those hallowed
corridors was too frightening to bear.

Besides, we were hungry.

MrO - one of the few remaining true gentlemen - once
more acted as unpaid chauffeur and ferried us back
to our designated rendezvous.  For some reason I
have not yet been able to discern, Brett, Supermouse
and I spent much of the time waiting for his return
coming up with otter recipes, devising such culinary
delights as Chicken Tarki Massala and that famous
Japanese dish - in which choice cuts of otter are
marinaded in rice wine - Saki Tarki Teryaki  ;-)

No more in-jokes, I swear!

The meeting-up of afp'ers at The Plough and their
subsequent trek across the howling wastes of Stony
Stratford (for about 400 yards) to the designated
Chinese restaurant came off with a minimum of
ado and a fairly limited selection of alarums.

I know I'm going to be the subject of censure for
this, but I absolutely _can't_ remember the names
of everyone there!  I beg forgiveness from anyone
who I miss from the following list or who is included
erroneously - my memory has about as much spare
room as Bill Gates' wallet and I'm hopeless at names...
I swear it's nothing personal  :-)

Chancing my arm, an incomplete list of attendees
at the restaurant includes (in nor particular order)
Spirit, Spirit's mum, jester, DMark, MrO, ppint *hugs*,
Supermouse, co, Ponder Stibbons, &, ccooke,
Andrea, Chris Suslowicz, Gid, Suzi, Womble and
this ghost.

There - after some debate on how best to go about it -
we were to indulge in some excellent food; although
I would like to go on record as saying that this was the
last time I will ever go into an evenly-shared meal
with a group of people who have such meagre
appetites  :-)

Nonetheless, the meal itself was lovely and provided
sufficient calories to fuel the journey back to the pub,
where I was surprised and delighted to finally meet,
amongst others, Peter Ellis (first words to me "I think
I owe you a hug") and The One True Relative himself,
Thomas Pratchett.

This latter worthy - and I'm sorry, but this has to be
mentioned - was wearing a coat of such utter
snuggability that he spent the entire night being
summoned hither and yon in order to be stroked.

If I have a question about this extraordinary garment,
it would have to be "Where can _I_ get one?"  :-)

The first scene that greeted my bemused eyes when
arriving back at the Plough was actually that of BarryR
wearing two flowers on his head like horns - prompting
my remark listed in the MK3 quote file "Oh my God, it's
BeelzeBarry!".

Also at the pub were Brett (our gracious host of
Northampton), Jules and Helen Highwater - I am
certain that there were others, but again I beg
forgiveness as my memory fails me yet again...  :-(

It was a good evening - it was a _very_ good evening;
in fact until someone invents an all-embracing superlative
describing utter fabulousness then I shall leave off
telling you just how good it was, lest this bit of the
report starts looking like the Happy Man's Thesaurus.

Still, it was damn good  :-)

The Little Bottle Disease mentioned a couple of thousand
words ago seemed to be contagious, with ppint also
producing some strange yet delightful concoction involving
ginger.  The only thing I remember from the label on the
bottle is the warning "Do not expose to bright lights or
oxygen", but it _did_ taste very nice indeed, whatever it was.

Later events included Peter and I geeking filks, Gid and
I geeking Welsh songs and some spirited attempts to
sing the entire Philsopher's Song in one breath (at which
BarryR cheated horribly *g,d & r*).  For anyone who's
interested, we came to the conclusion that it is perfectly
possible provided that you don't put a twiddly bit in
the middle...

I guess you just had to be there  :-)

Much enjoyable conversation was had (in-between
people sticking their fingers in their ears to block out
my singing), with Spirit moving from group to group
like some sort of happiness-spreading random particle.
People bought beers or other preferred beverages
for each other, and a general atmosphere of contentment
and gaiety suffused the party until, inevitably, it was time
to leave.

Rarely have I had a more enjoyable weekend with a more
wonderful group of people - and I don't expect to again, at
least not until the next afpmeet  :-)

My undying thanks to Spirit for organising the latter half
of this weekend of afpmeet frivolity and for being a generally
huggabubble person, my deepest gratitude to the Stibbons
family for going out of their way to ferry me to a party
afterwards [5] and big soppy *hugs* to everyone who was
there, and more especially those who couldn't be.

Unless you don't like hugs, of course  :-)

I'll also thank _you_, Constant Reader, for sticking out this
meet report to the bitter end, and I hope that if you've never
been to an afpmeet I've given you some idea of just how
good an afpmeet can be.  Turn up at the next one and I'll
buy you a beer  :-)

My tale is told.


AfPhantom the Extremely Knackered,

Seraph of the Heavenly Host, blissfully enabilh'elated, happily afphianced
to the Magical Mad Dragon and the Elysian Elaine *hugs*, back in the jug
agane (ra skool!) at the Molehill, blissfully afpwedded to Trina and
shotgun-married to Peter Ellis <g>

[1] Although in Klingon, of course, the title is two-thirds shorter.

[2] I'm not sure what this would involve, but it sounds _terrifying_.

[3] This is not a cue for the anti-PC movement to come crawling out of the
      woodwork, but I guess the comparison had to be drawn  :-)

[4] In case you haven't come across it, this is politically correct
terminology
     for "lacking a life" :-)

[5] At which there was a bouncy castle, and I _still_ couldn't persuade
     any afp'ers to come with me!

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