“Where did you get it?” I asked, “In the States?”
“Ah. It’s actually a Pebble watch.” he replied exchanging a knowing look with his friend over the table, chuckling as he added “It’s got eight days of battery.”
I sensed a challenger. “You’re saying it’s superior?”
“No, not at all, I’ve had it for a few years now. I love not having to get my phone out to see what’s just buzzed. ‘Course it does make the people you’re with think you’ve got somewhere more important to be – but soon that’ll just be absorbed into the culture!”
I looked about at the various paraphernalia accompanying my fellow travellers. A long wrapped up sword lay in the rack above us, bulging rucksacks stuffed with who knew what; a certain excitement palpable in the air.
“Where are you all off to?” I enquired.
“A LARP event – you know, Live Action Role Play? It’s four days of swords and sorcery in a field – basically a Tolkien-like world.”
My hunch was right: I was in the midst of some of my most favourite people – geeks. I smiled to myself, acknowledging karma and the day that was in it. Had Nick sent them especially? Generous to a fault, it wouldn’t have surprised me.
My two new computer scientist friends along with one of their girlfriends patiently and calmly answered all my questions. “Is everything really black and white for you?” was my first.
Luke and Benj looked at each other and paused for a while.“Well” Luke started, “If you have lots of black and lots of white you can get shades of grey.”
Benj nodded in agreement. I giggled. Mr S would have loved it.
We covered virtual reality headsets – ‘Awesome! Make you feel like you’re in that world 100%’ – Google Glass, Microsoft Holo, 4G, and of course the ‘fantasy’ games in some detail.
I was intrigued by the sword and Benj took it down to show me. “The arrows that we shoot at each other have a foam tip like this ‘stab safe spear’” Isabel told me. “You don’t get impaled that way – it’s really good!”
I asked what happened if you kept getting shot at. “You’ve got so many hits – eventually your time’s up. But, it’s actually really great when that happens because you get the chance to live again as a different character.”
“Anyway, enough about us – where are you headed?” she continued.
“To say goodbye to an old friend” I replied, looking out the window at the vibrant green countryside passing, thinking how very surreal but real it was at the same time.
Dedicated to Nick ‘Ringo’ Southall 16th March 1971 – 6th May 2015.
One of a kind.