I had arranged to travel up to Wolverhampton with a bunch of reprobates from HantsLUG, the co-ordination of which involved two cars, two drivers, two hotels, three pizzas and one GPS system. Setting off after our respective work days ended, we converged on Farnborough, the staging point for our journey. We fuelled up on pizza in Alan’s garden (with the lovely and ever-patient Clare) before setting off. Alan was driving, I was in the passenger seat on the pretext of operating the TomTom.
The two and a half hour journey from Alan’s house was consumed with the Geek Car Number Plate Game. Usually players work separately, in different vehicles, over a period of weeks. This rather special game was given extra tension by all the players being in the same car. Comeptition for the available plates was fierce. Alan and I had a strategic advantage, being sat in the front of the car, although my game suffered because I was keeping score too. Laura and Adrian both got a few, but not enough. Adrian got the short straw by sitting in middle of the back seat of the car. Alan did very well at first, getting most of easier two letter acronyms. But Hugo displayed his knowledge of computing minutae by getting lots of very obscure three letter acronyms, allowing him to overtake Alan’s score with fewer “hits”. I should probably go through Hugo’s entries to make sure he wasn’t just making them up.
I stayed at the Quality Inn last year. It’s nothing special, but serves the purpose of somewhere to crash between Linux-y activities. The public areas of the Quality Inn are perfectly acceptable and the staff were friendly. The hotel was busy at the weekend, and we were put in the Business Centre, a short walk from the main hotel. The room wasn’t up to the same standard as the rest of the hotel though. Nothing broken, but it was in need of redecoration. The bathroom fittings were old and discoloured. It took two minutes to find the bathroom, which was hidden in the end compartment of the wardrobe. Really. Ruth Watson would have something to say about that.
On getting to the hotel, we bumped into Christian Schaller of Fluendo at reception. I was sat next to Christian at the curry after last year’s LRL and it was nice be recognised! In the bar at the hotel was Seb Payne, busily uploading photos from his Mac over the hotel’s wireless connection. Poor lad, he doesn’t look anywhere near old enough to get in to pubs, so was stuck back at the hotel whilst most other people were off in town.
Last year I travelled up to Wolverhampton on the morning of the event, so I missed the Friday night frivolities at the Hog’s Head pub. This year though we had arranged the schedule to be there in time for a drink or two before the pub shut. A taxi ride from the Quality cost about Â£4 and meant that Alan could drink. Having promised Clare he’d have his mobile on him all weekend, he went and left it in the hotel, so left a very sheepish message for her using Adrian’s mobile. The LUG Radio community had arranged to meet in the Beer Garden at the rear of the pub so we dived through the bar to the doors at the back. The garden wasn’t really a garden, more of a yard. It had four walls and something approaching a roof. Still, it is a city centre pub so perhaps that’s the closest to a garden they could manage. The yard was doing a good job of penning in about 60 geeks in differing states of inebriation. We met up with Hugo and Adrian, who were staying at a different (closer) hotel. They had already found Phil Clarke and Andy Smith in amongst the crowd. Phil I’d met briefly at a HantsLUG meeting a year or so ago. Although I’ve talked to Andy a fair bit on IRC, we’ve never met, despite us both being at FOSDEM in Feburary 2005. Both really nice guys, and both staying at the Quality.
The #lugradio crew had arranged to wear Jono-style beards in the pub that evening, mainly because Jono had promised to shave off his beard if Â£400 was raised for Amnesty during the weekend. The idea was that the presenters who had been preparing the venue would arrive at the pub to an assortment of dodgy looking beards, rather like Jono’s. Although we were too late to the pub for this part of the evening, I had ordered five beards from Joker’s Masquerade and we duly donned them:
I went over to say hello to the #lugradio people, including Neuro, mrben, Adam “drinky” Sweet as well as the presenters. Jono loved the beard (there are some photos that will surface in due course, I’m sure). Aq was very amused that these beards were sold as Arab’s beards, especially given that Jono was called Ali Baba by a waiter, as reported during a recent GUADEC show.
For my money Adam “drinky” Sweet was the most hammered. I had a bizarre conversation with him that went something like this:
Me: Hi Adam, I’m Tony, we were at the paintballing together last year.
Adam: Oh, hi, how are you doing?
Me: Not too bad, I’m helping out with the audio tomorrow.
Adam: Nice beard.
Me: Yeah, I figured if I put this on and tell people I’m Jono’s cousin I stand a better chance of pulling.
Adam: So, are you in to Linux at all then? Or has Jono just asked you to help out?
Me: (quietly) I’m not really Jono’s cousin.
After this Matthew Revell came over to say hello, in a rather fetching pink and brown rugby shirt. Matt was really friendly and it was great to meet him again. Ade came and joined our table for a chat later, even sampling one of our beards.
We shared a taxi back to the hotel with Andy and Phil. We all stopped for another drink at the hotel, where at one point I got in to conversation with some very drunk hairy hacker types who obviously didn’t think I looked geeky. (“There’s a big open source conference going on this weekend,” I was told. “I know,” I replied.) To be honest, I’m quite glad I don’t seem to appear geeky. Got to bed not long before 3am, having had a great evening and looking forward to the following day.Pin It