Cambridge Trip Pre-Jagex
Jaagex Runescape Cambridge
Yesterday morning I spent a couple of hours getting ready to leave the house. That included hunting through maps for the route and directions to the B&B, but it also involved carefully noting all of those questions asked in the previous entry about this.
I can't promise to get any answers for them, but what I can guarantee is that every question asked by a Sal's person on that blog entry is now carefully typed up on a single A4 sheet and sitting in my bag. I'll ask them and that's as far as I can go.
I hit the road at half 11. Cambridge on the other side of the country, east of me; but it's fundamentally two extremely long roads there, with some faffy little ones at either side. The M6 empties onto the A14, carry on until everything goes ridiculously flat and there are no petrol stations.
This latter was a problem. Once you enter the southern tip of Leicestershire, there are no services on the motorway. This was the moment that my petrol light chose to come on. I didn't fret. After all the map had made it look like I'd be leaving the motorway shortly. There was bound to be services as soon as the slip-road ended. There always were. Prime business location and all.
*insert slightly hysterical laughter*
Instead that junction had roadworks. They were even more annoying than the roadworks which had gone on forever through the Black Country and Birmingham. At least you moved through them. These Leicestershire roadworks saw me sitting half on the motorway, half off, shifting a yard or two every few minutes, then stopping again.
I couldn't see anything except the backside of a lorry. There were a lot of lorries here. The ferry port of Felixstowe is further along the A14 than Cambridge, so there seemed more cargo lorries than cars.
And all the time, my petrol is dripping away.
I finally managed to get onto the A14 to find said lorries competing with each other for progress. They colonised both lanes of travel; and lorries don't move very fast. We crawled by a sign, 'services 17 miles'. You have to be kidding me!
There was no way that I was going to have 17 miles worth of petrol in my tank. The dial was right back on the second red line and it had been for a while. I left at junction 1, on the basis that there HAD to be a petrol station here.
Nope. There was a country lane with Saxon sounding village names on a sign before me. I picked the nearest. Thornby 2 miles, then drove praying through scenery where absolutely nothing is holding up the sky. Flatness for miles. Rain-sodden clouds for miles. No hint of a petrol station for miles.
Just past Thornby, a lady was sitting in her car eating her lunch. I appeared at her window, with a map and a look of desperation. My petrol light was not only on now, but it was flashing. I had visions of having to call the AA and say, "I'm in the EAST. I don't know where. Please bring petrol and mountains."
The lady said that there was possibly a petrol station in Guildsborough, because it was quite big. I went there. It wasn't quite big and there wasn't a petrol station. But there was a post office-cum-general store, full of customers. I burst in there and the lovely gentleman behind the counter drew me a little map to the nearest services - six miles away.
A customer intervened. There was another one just three or four miles away. He altered my map and repeated the directions several times. Everyone was wearing the pained expression of 'she's never going to make it, not with the light long since flashing'. One man told me that he'd pray for me.
It must have been that divine intervention that kicked in, because by the time I reached the petrol station in Spratton, I'd done about 20 miles with the light actually flashing. I'd done about 40 since it had first come on!
All in all, the petrol adventure took nearly three-quarters of an hour diversion. I finally made it back to the A14 in time for those threatening clouds to drop their payload. It was sheet rain smashing blindingly against the window-screen. Everyone slowed right down. Every vehicle had turned into a moving pocket of backlash water. The lorries slushed move over everyone.
According to my Dad, it should have taken an hour and half to get to Cambridge. It took three.
But happy days! I was here! And that was exciting! Cambridge isn't just the home of Jagex, it's also Syd Barrett country (and he's God. I might pretend to be Wiccan, but I'm actually SydBarrettian. True religion.). Moreover it's the home of the owners of another forum which I frequent and I had a meeting set up with them too.
As soon as I left, on junction 33 of the A14, I could see the Science Park. Of the three lane traffic, two are devoted to funneling vehicles into it. It's HUGE; and that's where Jagex are based. That found, I carried on to the Alder Lodge.
This was the B&B that the nice lady from Laterooms.com had found for me, when my original choice refused to take people for one night mid-week. It was not only much nicer, but was literally around the corner from Jagex. That was purely coincidental, as the lady had been looking for something cheap in the vicinity of the centre and this was the best that she could do.
I was shown into my room and immediately boiled the kettle. While I was sorting out my bag, I could hear two men loudly canting in a neighbouring room. Suspicion dawned, but I shrugged it off, after all the odds against it were astronomical. Then I recalled that it was Beltane, which means that bizarreness can and will happen to point where it's normal.
The fact is that before I'd left the house, I'd received word from Fred that Runeshark were also going to be touring Jagex the same day. I've watched their Godsword from Scratch videos, as MFI is a huge fan and he introduced me to them. However, I didn't know James and Simon themselves. I urgently blasted off a few Tweets, in an attempt to make myself known to them before we left. There was no response. Why should there be? If it had been Silentc0re or even Excl, then we'd at least canted before. As far as Runeshark were concerned, I was some random Runescape player crashing in on their big day.
I opened my hotel room door and just a few feet away the door opposite was wide open. I hadn't expected that. I cringed away with a 'sorry' and went to shut mine again. Then stopped myself with a mental beratement of 'noob'. Both lads were looking at me. I gushed out, "Are you Simon and James?"
"Yes." They both looked a bit confused.
I suppose that I should have explained myself, as they were staring at me. Instead I babbled out, "No, that does't happen." Before gathering a bit of decorum. "I'm Merch Gwyar." Blankness. "I'm visiting Jagex tomorrow too."
One of them explained that they hadn't known that anyone else would be coming. In truth it was all a bit awkward. They appeared to be polite, lovely lads, but they were also busy sorting out equipment for some imminient filming. I kind of faded back into my room after a few minutes and left them to it.
But never fear! I was off to DO Cambridge! The afternoon passed in a whirl of Syd Barrett related sites. Part of the reason for my late departure was because I was scouring the internet for lists of them. From the second that I stepped off the bus, I was finding them. I have photographs of doors! Syd once played in a room behind them or the like. One by one, I ticked off the places listed in my pad, really enjoying myself for having been.
The only one I missed was his memorial bench in the Botanic Gardens. That was put there by the Astral Piper website back in about 2006. I donated money to buy it; and got the t-shirt that I was now wearing in response. But you have to pay £5 to get into the gardens, which really didn't seem worth it for a bench. It's not like he'd ever actually sat on it. It was a MEMORIAL bench.
I have got two photographs of myself in places where he was photographed though. One was taken by a lad reading 'V for Vendetta' (well trying to read it, until he was interupted by a grinning fangirl wanting random pictures taken). I have to say that everyone that I met in the East has been extremely friendly. They will all stop for a cant with strangers; and they will go out of their way to help visitors to the area.
Absolutely not what I expected from a bunch of Saxons and Angles. The impression that I got (from the 6th century histories) was far more blood-curdling. I did notice that, though there are all colours, heights, shapes, races etc, the predominance in the East is for tall, blond people. We're mostly short-arse, dark haired people in the West. Our histories are all around us, if we just look.
In Cambridge, history is very much in your face. Many of the buildings are mediaeval. The streets and alley-ways curl around them; and you can see how the city grew holistically from the 1100s. Modernity appears grudgingly super-imposed over the top of it. Even McDonalds has been forced to blend into the background. It's double gold arches are relegated to mere decoration on an olde worlde faux gas lamp outside the door.
Once I'd run out of Syd Barrett tourism possibilities, I took to staring up at torrents and walls, educating myself by reading plaques on the wall. I found the place where Physics was invented, so took some photos for Audioworm. (There's also a nuclear clock on a prominent street corner. It was designed by Stephen Hawking, according to my reliable source - the taxi driver - and it's the most accurate clock in the world.)
The other main thing that you notice about the city are the bicycles. They are everywhere! Racks of them populate every spare space. Notices on shop windows threaten pain and instant death if you rest your bike against them. Young, old, fit and gasping, they all had their bicycles. I finally got another insight into Syd Barrett's song 'Bike'. Got it!
Eventually it was time to meet Eddz and Toad. The former is local, while the latter is staying with him while she does her university degree. They are the owners of another site I'm on, which is similarly full of wide-eyed people right now. The issue here isn't the potentially criminal, morally reprehensible sort currently enjoyed by Jagex; it's more the 'zOMG! We're moving sites and we have to PAY for it!?!' variety.
Eddz, Toad and I had a meal in a Japanese restaurant and discussed it all. Then we wandered around the city looking at stuff that I'd missed before. Finally we ended up in Syd Barrett's favourite pub ( >.> ) for the rest of the evening. Canadian Toad was introduced to Pimms. I got my photograph taken at the top of the stairs to the Jazz Club below. And we discussed the site.
The conclusion was the best of all. Many breaches of communication were fixed. I was delighted to return to the forum, once I was back in my hotel room, and declare that I now supported the changes. Our site was not disappearing; and the new site (Anipan) sounds amazing. I'm really enthusiastic about it and willing to help them achieve it.
It could potentially blow DeviantART out of the water. Neither of them said that, but I will. And that can only be a good thing, considering how downright dodgy the administration of DA are.
We were having such a good time by the finish that I ended up missing the last bus back to the B&B! I ended up having to pay £8.40 in a taxi. *sob* This whole trip, what with one thing or another, has turned out to be way more expensive than I can easily afford. I'm seriously going to have to tighten my belt for a bit, though a lot of it got pushed onto my credit card, so it can be in installments.
I finally fell asleep around 2am, which was a git, as my alarm was set for 7am. I could hear Runeshark giggling and chatting away in the neighbouring room. They sounded so happy, bless them.
I don't do mornings. I especially don't do mornings after little sleep, when I have to get dressed and go outside to have a cigarette; negotiate my way through an unfamiliar kettle; shower, dress and make myself decent in an unfamiliar bathroom; and then have a conversation over breakfast.
To make matters worse, as soon as I staggered blearily onto the toilet, I had a stark reminder that I had hit puberty all of those years ago. Before the male Slammers scream, 'Errrkkkk! TMI!', let me explain why that's in here. I do want to get things said, on behalf of players, to Jagex. But I'm now doing that with cramps and all of the colour drained from my face. A stern word will have me in tears. A sharp word will have me punching someone's lights out. And in this state, I go to represent you all.
Runeshark have already gone. They have a separate tour to me, with their's beginning at 9am. Mine is midday. I briefly spoke with one of them at breakfast, but we didn't get a good conversation in. Hopefully we'll catch up later on.
It's 10.35am now, and I'm typing in the Alder Lodge. In 25 mins, I have to leave this room and therefore lose internet connection again. I'll try to Tweet as much as possible. In an hour and 25 mins, I will be entering Jagex Studios and potentially signing an NDA.
Please note that anything I say after that will be within the limits of its terms and conditions. Wish me luck.