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. 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)