In the afternoon, we interviewed comedian Helen Keen for the podcast. I stalked her on Myspace a bit years ago, and since then she’s been given her own show on Radio 4, won awards, and just done loads of writing and performing. Helen talks at a hundred miles an hour because she has so many ideas in her head; she’s really funny about stuff you never thought was funny. We were a bit cautious about introducing her as a geek comedian in case it sounded offensive, but there’s no getting around the fact that she’s done two stand-up shows about rockets and a show about the North Pole.
I was very excited to learn that Helen’s dad is a postman, because (as anyone who’s read EOC will have deduced) I’m fascinated by the UK postal system. I told her my dad’s a rocket scientist, and we agreed we should do some kind of dad-swap. She’s so sweet. She even wrote us a little thank you note when she got home. She has the rosiest cheeks and loveliest skin, and I don’t know if I want to be her fan or her friend or WHAT.
Anyway. Then Roo and I had to rush to the Southwark Rooms, where we were hosting our live 50th episode party thing. I’m trying not to over-use the word lovely, really I am. But my god. What a crowd. What a night! I’m welling up just thinking about it.
I was so touched that so many people came, and most even did as they were told and brought games. It was a real collision of worlds for me; some of my old pals from years ago were there, playing silly games with Shift Run Stop listeners we’d never met before, and previous guests got to meet each other for the first time. I didn’t really play any games myself, except a few handhelds – I was keeping an eye on the door, and the bags, and just generally chatting to people. I can’t really remember talking to anyone for long which was a shame in a way, but there seemed to be so much to do. The four hours went by so fast!
Previous guests I was aware of being there: inventor James Larsson, games designer James Wallis, podcaster Myk Reeve, programmer/anosmic Alice Bartlett, Bletchley campaigner Sue Black, B3ta founder Denise Wilton, Thick of It producer Adam Tandy, snacks man Dave Green, Nethernet designer Duncan Gough, comedy writer Kev Cecil, sneeze counter Peter Fletcher, Guardian games columnist/author Naomi Alderman…
It killed me to compress them all into a few words like that because of course I don’t actually think of them like that, but hopefully those words are good for triggering a memory. Some who said they’d come didn’t in the end, but many who hadn’t said anything just showed up, as a fantastic surprise. I want to shout out to Simon Thornton and Katy Lindemann in particular for bringing an entire SUITCASE (genuinely) of powered-up 80s handhelds for people to play with (and an old “laptop” for me), and James Larsson for bringing these beauties. Peter Fletcher had come over from Birmingham for the afternoon in the full knowledge he was going to have to get a very, very late connecting bus for part of his trip back. Yet still he came, and I really hope he had a good time because it definitely made everything better just having him there.
Selfishly, I was also pleased to see some women there. Between chatting to Helen K earlier in the day and talking to the women at the party, I actually talked to some people about fashion yesterday. It’s a relatively secret interest I don’t normally have an outlet for, but I think all the women, as well as looking great themselves, commented on my outfit, which sounds shallow but is actually about sooo much more than clothes. Women understand how much work/thought goes into this stuff (Sue Black got straight to the point “you’re so THIN”)…. and of course it’s a bonding thing. But I guess my point is: that’s a whole axis of interests I don’t get to indulge at the usual male-dominated geek events. Yes. On the whole, I recommend arranging the kind of event you’d like to go to.
Other games I saw people playing included Kev’s brilliant “Guess What?”, the hilarious “Headbandz”, Backgammon, the Pacman board game, poker, another card thing? A thing where you had to build a pizza or something? And I loved that we (i.e. Roo) got our fave Prestel game Scoop working on the screen. Sue Black’s lovely son brought an X Box but we didn’t have the right cable. It was a good venue but fewer surfaces than I remembered, and although everyone made great use of the space I reckon at future events perhaps more tables will mean more games actually get played. In truth though, I think last night was principally a social, with some gamey distractions for those who fancied playing something. The next thing we put on might be something else entirely.
Thanks so much for coming and supporting us and enjoying yourself. It all makes me feel a bit funny to be honest.