... in a galaxy far, far away, I used to be into live fantasy role-playing (aka LRP/LARP to those nerds in the know). In the early 1980s, LRP was really only starting out in the UK and I spent many weekends with a group of like-minded nerds - and I mean that in the most affectionate way - from Liverpool University at Peckforton Castle in Cheshire, playing Treasure Trap. If you really want a laugh, click the link. I knew these people. I was one of them...
So there we were, spending weekends camping in a real live castle, with one toilet between however many people were staying. I think there was a shower put in much later, but let's just say it wasn't a health spa. Mostly in bizarre costumes, we'd eat down the local pub and drink into the small hours in the top of one of the towers. Then there were the adventures: many hours enacting various quests throughout the castle. I say enacting, but those of you who have ever played Dungeons & Dragons will understand it's more like free-form acting, with an overall end objective, but you kind of make up the rest as you go along, keeping in character of course. Anything can happen - and often does.
I was writing back then too, and if you are a fantasy writer, you really can't beat the experience of living some of this - I can give you an exact reaction to creeping along a stone corridor in the dark, rounding a corner and coming across a 6ft long-haired, bearded bloke, built like the proverbial brick shit-house, wearing studded leather and wielding a steel sword. Or watching an execution on the drawbridge by flaming torchlight. Or abseiling from a tower while a horde of mad people are firing arrows at you. I've lost touch with most of the people from this part of my life, which is a shame as they were a great bunch of guys and we had some fantastic weekends.
Fast-forward a few years and I'm supposed to have grown up as I'm married with a mortgage and a job. But I'm talking to some like-minded people on CIX and get invited to participate in a Star Wars event in South London. I get a kit list sent to me, with joining instructions and a character sheet. Bear in mind I've never met any of these people before, but I venture off to some disused warehouse that has been decked out for the day, get my laser tag equipment and we're off on a 12 hour adventure loosely set in the Star Wars universe. I had one of the best days of my life, totally immersed in an alternate reality, trying to steal a secret CD and divulge vital information to the opposition (yes, the traitor was ME, mwha ha ha...). Came back through Waterloo station in costume late at night with some of my compatriots and we did get some strange looks, although this was fortunately well before all the terrorist alerts.
So I apologise to anyone who knows me. I was a nerd. And I loved it!