The Date: 27th - 28th October 2001
The Place: Cambridge
The Occasion: Paul's birthday
If you'd like enlarged versions of these photos, just email me.
As with all things on the Culture email list, this started with an email. Or rather, a series of emails about a party being held in Cambridge to celebrate Paul's birthday, Paul being the friend of Culturnik Irregular Rich Baker. Spurred on by the promise of alcohol and, well, not much else, members of the London Faction of the Culture made the trip up to Cambridge along with Steve (Eccles), who came from Cardiff.
I live at Trinity College in the university, so it only took me about 20 minutes to cycle across to Rich's house, with my PSOne and Dance Dance Revolution dance mats carefully stowed away in my backpack. When I got there, I could see that Eccles had already made it ahead of me and was loitering in Rich's room, whereupon I had the opportunity to have a look at his leather trousers, which he hadn't put on yet.
Eccles, looking particularly thoughtful in this pre-leather trousers photo. This is before he'd explained the origin of his nickname for the third time (idiot guy from Goon Show is all I remember).
Rich, giving us a visual demonstration of what the post-humans will look like.
Eccles, again in his pre-leather trousers phase, toting his camera with the eye-destroyingly bright flash.
I got to the house at about 4pm and we pretty much mooched about there as Paul got the barbecue ready and made sure that we all had robust immune systems to fight off any unwelcome travellers hitchhiking on our food. After making ourselves familiar with the workings of the LCD touchscreen remote control, which Rich probably procured on one of his frequent journeys to the future, we all settle down for some serious TV watching.
Rich, fully prepared for the arduous task of TV watching that lies ahead.
Eccles also changed into his more stylish and presumably comfortable leather trousers, which he seems inordinatately proud of in this photo.
First up was Vampire High. When I first saw the trailer for this show a long while back, I honestly thought it was some kind of joke by Sky. Unfortunately, I was proven wrong as we watched this half-hour monstrosity, which was some unholy hybrid of Buffy and the innumerable teen-shows out there. According to the intro, there was some sort of vampire civil war where they all died and now it's up to one headmaster to protect and teach the few remaining vampire kids, wh,o it must be noted, exhibited absolutely zero properties of vampires during the show.
About halfway in, one of Paul's friends walked into the room and asked what we were watching.
"It's called Vampire High. Teenage vampires at school."
"Yeah. Perfectly understandable. See, they had this civil war..."
Anyway, the storyline was pretty terrible and there was some silly Outer Limits-esque voiceover at the end talking about the moral of the story or some such nonsense. Next up was Roswell High - there was definitely some sort of other-worldly teenage high school thing going on, and we didn't like the look of it.
Why were we watching this? Because it was before the Simpsons, of course!
Paul and his girlfriend Anja.
Paul, not looking too happy about the low quality of programming shown by his TV.
After a couple of episodes of the Simpsons, Paul proclaimed that he didn't want to watch TV for the entire night and shortly afterwards left with Rich to pick Kim up from the railway station. For the purposes of narrative simplicity, I will say that around that point the party officially began and everyone (apart from Lal, who arrived later) suddenly appeared inside the house, bearing drinks.