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That was a fun night - in Cambridge for The Calling, with Fross as guest DJ. It also happened to be [livejournal.com profile] elise's 20th birthday, with [livejournal.com profile] ciphergoth and other folks in attendance.

Pretty much an abridged who's who of uk net.goths, really - Saiira, Tal, Suzi Brent, H Duffy, Avaritia, Marc Elston, Jynx Kat, Banshee, Loki and more. Plus all the resident Camgoths, of course. Enough to summon up that "party hard / emotional pressure cooker" atmosphere that you only usually get at Whitby and Slimelight, anyway. A mixed blessing, as ever. I think the Midlands contingent escaped more or less unscathed on this occasion, but the trauma and woe roadshow was definitely in town... :(

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Firstly, the bad start to the weekend - [livejournal.com profile] _gh0st_ was walking home through Coventry on Friday night and ran into some townies/trendies/casuals/CTWs/pondlife (choose your preferred term). They didn't approve of his dress sense, it got a bit heated and ended up as a scuffle. Nothing too serious, but he was a bit shaken.

After this, he decided he wasn't going out for the rest of the weekend, which is pretty understandable, IMHO.

The rest of the usual suspects headed into Birmingham for the evening, to see a couple of bands at the Mercat. The bands (D.U.S.T. and Emma Conquest) were good, and the evening was generally entertaining. And reassuringly busy, given recent worries about the venue's future. [livejournal.com profile] melston, who'd driven up from Southampton, arrived late. As always. So late, in fact, that he entirely missed the band he'd turned up to see. Ooops. They then presented him with a jar of pickled onions, in tribute to this achievement. Anyway, Marc kindly offered a couple of us a lift back to Coventry. So we accepted. Then he pointed out that he wasn't entirely sure where he'd left his car - "er, Chinatown", he said. This is when the alarm bells should've started ringing.

My knowledge of Birmingham geography is not good. Normally, it doesn't need to be. I can navigate the centre of town, and I can find my way down to the Mercat (in the Digbeth area) and back. That's about it.

So Marc asked someone else - a couple of the local gothfolk - for directions. Very wise, I thought. At this point almost everyone had left the pub, the main doors were closed and the side doors were opened, and the bands were loading their stuff into cars. Our advisor glanced at Marc's scribbled notes, nodded sagely, pointed out through the side doors, and said "it's that sort of direction, about ten minutes walk, just off [name forgotten] street". Filled anew with confidence, Marc wanders out the side doors, says farewell to bands and other disreputables, and sets off in search of the car. With myself & Matt in tow.

"It's very quiet out here", thinks I - "Well, aside from the constant revving of engines in the distance". Digbeth is boy racer territory, and there's usually a few illegal road-races going on a Saturday night. Joy. But, oddly enough, there don't seem to be any cars actually visible on the road we're on, which is lined with back entrances to pubs, shops and warehouses. Strange. Oh, and there's a police helicopter overhead (fair enough, probably watching the racers) - but why is it now training the searchlight on us, and circling? Maybe they just picked us out by chance, it's not as if they're keeping the searchlight on us, after all. Oh, look, it's back on us again. Uh-oh.

Then we turn a corner, see a huge closed gate dividing us from the busy (full of boy racers and drunken spectators) road, and begin to understand. We're in a sealed-off area, for commercial use only, without public access. Ah. That would be why the police seem so interested in our presence, then. Still, there has to be some way out, the bands were coming this way, so...

A few turns later we lose the interest of the police helicopter and find the main gate. With a fussy looking security guard talking into his radio (presumably to the crew of that helicopter...) "yes, they're here now - no, no, they're just goths" (he looks up from his clipboard) "Got a permit, lads?" (much shaking of heads. He tuts.) "Nope, no permit. Not with the bands, then. I'll take care of it". We get a telling off. It's entirely possible that the Mercat subsequently gets a telling off, too, for letting loons like us loose in a "secure area". Then he lets us out into the big wild world. Onto a street lined with large unshaven drunks leaning on their cars, quaffing lager, and watching the cars race past. I think we've just found the "spectators pitch" for those illegal races.

A couple of police cars are discreetly parked, watching - but they don't seem to want to start anything with fifty odd drunks. Fair enough, neither do we. So we walk along, don't bite at the "Fuckin' 'ell, what do yoo look loik, yer posey poofter?" and "Oi goth!" comments, and go get lost in a better part of town instead. Eventually we find the Chinatown carpark, and all is fine. It was an.. interesting... end to the evening, though. Finally got home at about 1:30, to sleep at about 4:00. Coffee, breadsticks and geekery occupied the interval.

Quote for the day (unrelated):"I would rather die by my own faults than live strangled in the protection of others" (Soracia, the latest T&K)

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Oddly enough, there are days when I love my job. The weather's cooled again, so I've been back to my usual coffee-drinking rate. Which (coupled with a touch of illness the other day, which left me rather light headed) has given me a wonderful caffeine buzz. Far too much energy, in an argumentative enthusiastic sort-of way.

Things, both in and outside work, are Going Well. I just keep waiting for the other shoe to drop...

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This has more or less been a non-week for me, which is why the journal's been empty. I've been doing that "slow down" thing, although I'm not entirely sure that it worked.

I had a great night out at the new Oxford goth thing (Intrusion) on Tuesday, in the company of friends who I don't see as often as I ought to. But aside from that, it's been... quiet.

Sleep, work, food, a brief spell as a couch potato. That's been the majority of it. Looking at the utterly horrible week that many of my friends seem to have had, I think I got off very lightly indeed.
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My head hurts, my eyes don't seem to want to focus properly and I can't get any sleep. I think some sort of bug is creeping up on me, using heat exhaustion as a stalking horse. This is not good.

Aside from anything else, it's left me in an unusually pointy mood. Or, rather, just as pointy as usual - but without the energy/alertness to self-censor reliably.

Some rain would be nice. Preferably before I kill somebody or seriously limit my career.

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It's just too hot. I'm generally bad with heat, and I'm working in a glass box with no air conditioning, which doesn't help.

Also, as it's far too hot for coffee (and I don't drink Cola-type things if I can possibly help it), my caffeine consumption has dropped to virtually zero.

This means that my brain is stuck in neutral until I adjust. Wonderful.

Oh well, normal service will be resumed in September. Always assuming that I survive the Bicon experience, of course...

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Time to slow down. I've been travelling a lot recently - visited a couple of festivals, a lot of friends, far too many clubs and gigs.

It's definitely taking its toll. Not severely, but enough that I notice it. So I'm taking a break for a bit, to recover. Or at least that's the theory. Given that I'm still going to at least one club a week and attending at least five gigs in July (one in Bath, one in London, two in Birmingham, one in Coventry...), it's not really much of a break, is it?

Maybe I'll just settle for more sleep and less alcohol. It seems that I'm drinking progressively less at clubs and gigs anyway, which can only be a good thing.

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Dover is one of those places that's guaranteed to restore my lack of faith in humanity. I mention this solely because I spent six hours trapped there last week, after we missed our ferry. Not really the best start to a holiday - especially when I'd had to force myself out of bed at the ungodly hour of 4AM so that we'd be there in time to catch that ferry...

One very awkward consequence of this delay was that when we finally reached the Losheim campsite it was 10:30 in the evening - and we had to pitch our (four) tents in the dark, aided by one small and feeble torch. Which went out after ten minutes. Oh, and we'd all assumed that someone else would bring a mallet. Ooops. As I say, really not the best start, although with hindsight it's almost funny.

From that point onwards, though, it was all pretty wonderful. Good music (my band review is on Usenet's uk.people.gothic, in the "Zillo" thread, if anyone's interested), friendly people, great atmosphere. One of the best weekends I've had in ages - even the bursts of torrential rain on Sunday afternoon couldn't ruin it. Perhaps they even added to the atmosphere, as the main result seemed to be an odd camaraderie - several thousand damp goths standing in ankle deep mud, cheerfully sharing umbrellas and alcohol with whoever happened to be standing next to them.

The downside of this was that returning to the UK, and then immediately going back to work, really wasn't much fun. Between exhaustion and the post-holiday blues (I find that everyday life always seems bleak, slow and generally worthless for a week or so after a really good holiday), I've been utterly antisocial - both online and irl. Especially this time, as I wasn't even in a very good mood when I left.

So, as ever, I apologise if I owe anyone e-mail! I'm now recovered, more-or-less awake and coherent again, so I'll try to catch up on everything over the next few days.

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