3 October 2015

The one with the Apocalypse

Aside from the film crew of the average Hollywood blockbuster, I can’t imagine many people get the chance to be a fly-on-the-wall during the apocalypse. After finding out via my local boardgames club that the world was soon to be attacked by an unknown threat that could potentially eradicate the entire human race, I knew I there was only one thing I could do; head to Duxford to watch 50 people try to save the world. 

After driving for two hours through a suitably ominous fog, I arrived at the Imperial War Museum to join a group of eager individuals complete with DIY-d military uniforms, homemade press-passes, hand-knitted microphones(!) and ten-gallon hats (Hi, Texas!). We were warmly welcomed by Jon and Sam (the masterminds behind the game) who outlined the concept for the day’s events, along with a cheery reminder that we were “all winners". At least until disaster struck….

Hand-knitted mic, complete with shiny silver threads <3

Each player was presented with a role-specific information pack, which ranged from corporate organisations to the FBI. These were supplemented by a live feed of news broadcasts, coming from both the in-game journalists and the moderators themselves, and updates via the dedicated site. I have to admit, when I spotted that the first news bulletin related to a “severe fog that has descended on our roads, which the CIA had labelled it as ‘suspicious’” I started to wonder whether the game was actually a genius double-bluff by actual supervillains capable of controlling the weather. 

The scene was set, with only 5 weeks to go until the next Presidential Election and the Republicans currently in power. The Government representatives were tasked to elect a Chair and a House Speaker, and the Republicans also had to choose their President and Vice President. I suggested using Rock, Paper, Scissors; but apparently that was inappropriate.

The newly-appointed President was immediately moved into the White House; AKA a corner table in the room populated by the Government. I wasn’t sure whether the subsequent apparition of huge bags of gummy sweets was for government bribes or a result of the first Presidential act, but it seemed like the start of a very sticky situation...

I should probably warn you at this point that my knowledge of the USA’s political system is based solely on watching House of Cards, so I was not best equipped to assess the parties’ individual tactics. However, what was immediately clear (without the need to Google “Which is the blue one?”... ahem) was how enthusiastically everyone had embraced their roles. Every table was in use for in-depth negotiations, with more furtive discussions taking place in the corridor outside and the adjoining breakout room (which housed “the rest of the world”, of course).

After setting up camp on the moderators’ table, I spent the first few hours flitting between various groups, to introduce myself as “non-game press” and assured them I wasn’t the antagonist (aka The Bad Guys). Pleas to the contrary were only moderately successful, as this was of course “exactly the kind of thing the antagonist would say”. I also realised that wearing my Space Dress might not have been the smartest move, as for some unknown reason some people concluded I must be working for NASA…(I wish).

After being saddened by the corporate reps rejecting my suggestion that giant Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups would be a more desirable apocalyptic commodity than bottled water*, I then discovered one of the best envelopes I’ve ever seen:

I followed this by going on a tea run, as everyone knows it’s impossible to overcome impending doom without a cuppa, and thankfully returned just in time to witness the Presidential Election; a “proper moment” (defined by Jon) which resulted in the Democrats taking over the White House with their own selection of snacks. 

Whilst the Democrats celebrated over lunch, I found myself completely captivated by how the game was organically evolving in response to requests for further information. The basic model incorporates the threats from the cream of cult disaster movies, which can then be enhanced using attendees’ speculations (depending on how awesome they are, of course). Essentially, a query about giant robots could result in the moderators choosing to deploy some giant robots.

Somewhat eerily, after talking to the Head of Defence, I created my own theory based on krakens; which subsequently turned out to be the actual pre-planned threat**!! Along with political assassinations, poisonous aphids, and genetically modified super-soldier conspiracies. Obviously.

As if all this wasn’t bad enough, midway through the afternoon the CIA discovered that one of the pharmaceutical companies had been acting as the antagonists, and was essentially personally responsible for releasing the Kraken.... The pantomime-worthy boo-ing that followed was a testament to how seriously everyone was taking this Kraken business. 

From that point on, disasters came thick and fast. Nuclear strikes failed to destroy them, oil reserves ran dry, and the Kentucky rep embraced alliterative insanity; declaring himself King of Kentucky and deciding to build a Seapark for the Kraken (rather adorably nicknamed "Karen" due to an earlier newsfeed typo). Despite all of this, the US somehow managed to overthrough the Krakens plural (who had been breeding like aquatic rabbits) and a cheer went up around the room after The President's closing speech.

I had a seriously brilliant time at the Megagame, regardless of the fact I wasn't even playing. I mean, it’s not every day that a girl gets to meet three US Presidents. Admittedly, one of them was actually a President from a previous Megagame who lost control of the US and subsequently committed suicide, but it seemed churlish to hold that against him. Because, it turns out, Megagames are pretty hardcore....

Katie xxx

*They eventually opted to sell hazmat suits, complete with the excellent strapline Be prepared for the worst at an affordable price for every American.

** I might have yelled “YES! KRAKENS!” and punched the air simultaneously. Might.

27 September 2015

Hundreds and Thousands

Hello lovelies!

How are you?! Eaten any good cakes recently? 

My last few weeks have been sprinkled with more happy things than I can recall (possibly because some of them happened after multiple cocktails...) but I'm going to try my best to do them justice. Here we go...

New friends
Mostly thanks to Meet Up, my phone contacts have tripled in the last few months. And it's definitely not a quantity over quality thing - I've just been lucky enough to meet a smorgasboard of absolutely fantastic people. I've gained brunch buddies, adopted new siblings, and even had a bramance*.

Pre-charity shopping waffles. Can Saturdays get any better?!

I also had the time of my life at my best friend's wedding on the Isle of Wight. It involved five kinds of cake, a jukebox of Michael Jackson's finest, and ending the night dancing to 90's grunge whilst wearing a tie like Rambo. Kind of wish she could get married again.

And don't even get me started on my amazing Book Club mates. I co-founded it with two friends in April, and five of us bright young things now meet once a month to spend four minutes discussing a book we've half-read, then spend the rest of the night demolishing cocktails, carbs, and ice-cream sundaes. I can't imagine many people end up hungover from partying too hard at book club...

You guys really are the best.

Cocktail Crawls
I've decided that cocktail bar crawls are way more sophisticated than pub crawls, and a much classier reason to be tipsy (and then some. ahem) at 6pm on a Friday... I've (literally) stumbled on several new-to-me establishments of late; one of which has a candy floss machine BEHIND THE BAR. I've also refined my choice of wine - I'm pretty sure only the fanciest vintages come in their own gold cage.

Getting my geek on
I can't deny it any more; I'm a fully fledged boardgames geek. Been there, done that, wishing I had the t-shirt (I'm seriously considering starting a geeky t-shirts wishlist...). I've become a regular fixture at my local Boardgames Club and despite dying of thirst, being eaten by sharks, and being called a werewolf (and that was just on Wednesday!) I'm having a fabulous time.

The Perfect Email
What's that, Natural History Museum? Would I be interested in perusing your new "Kitsch Dinosaur" collection? Hmmm... let me just think abo... OF COURSE I BLOODY WOULD. 

I wish they'd make a suit in this print. I'd TOTALLY wear it to work. 

Embracing the spontaneous
Thanks to a bunch of lads from Wokingham, I no longer have to wonder "What would I do if a stag do of complete strangers invited me out dancing?". The answer to that mystery is apparently "Getting home at midday with arms covered in VIP club stamps, Jaegermeister in my hair, and the nickname Shark Eyes"... 

Lazy Sundays
I'm currently cat-sitting and flat-sitting for some lovely folks who are off on their honeymoon, and we've decided to spend the day on the sofa catching up on bad TV. 

Photo taken immediately after asking Cat if she wanted to watch MIC.
Didn't know kittens could facepalm...

Katie xxx

*Like a bromance, but for girls. I've copywrited that.

3 September 2015

Three Things Thursday

Today I'm feeling especially grateful for...

1. The lovely bods at the AA
Who had to come to my rescue TWICE over the weekend. Steve bravely suffered through a cup of totally awful tea on Saturday morning, and taught me that my car speaks in Morse Code. Who knew?! 

"Dave" (he didn't actually introduce himself, but he totally looked like a Dave) came to my aid at God Awful O'Clock on Monday night, after my car made a weird ker-chunk noise and the battery light came on. Followed by a whole bunch of other lights, which made my dashboard look like an angry Christmas tree. Despite the angry engine noises, I felt almost overwhelming lucky by the fact my car decided to break down just as I happened to be within coasting distance of my Grandparents' house - the only familiar faces on my 30+ mile drive! Dave went above and beyond trying to fix my car (which decided to play dumb the moment he got there) by offering to follow me home in case it happened again- despite it being completely out of his way. Thanks, Dave!

2. The girl at the Real Eating Co.
Who saw the look in my eyes when I jokingly asked for "the biggest slice of coconut cake you can get away with", and brought me THIS:

Yes, that's a dinner plate. And a regular sized fork. It was genuinely bigger than the four-cup teapot. I LOVE YOU, REAL EATING CO. GIRL.

3. Arundel
As a West Sussex girl born and bred, I've been to Arundel more times than I can count* but it never fails to delight me with it's fantastic architecture and independent eateries; it's just bloody lovely. 

See! Told you.

I still managed to discover all manner of new eccentricities on my latest visit, including a real life Bernard Black (who owns the Old Maps gallery on the High Street and really doesn't like questions), three floors of seriously beautiful books, and the club I want to join more than any other:

Are you doing it, Michelle? ARE YOU?!

Last but by no means least, check out this incredible pair of knockers: 

I'm assuming the doors are going through puberty. Happens to the best of us...

What have you been feeling thankful for recently? 

Katie xxx

* Seven times. I can only count to five.