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Hello one and all, wanted to sum up my version of the Manchester meet before my crap short term memory successfully deletes itself.
Caught up with Kieran in front of the WHSmith in Buchanan Bus Station where we shared an emotional embrace, was also nearly lynched for walking out with an unpaid for GamesMaster magazine. We then boarded the bus and traveled down to Manchester, where I got a good laugh at Kieran's silly Amazon Kindle, an electronic book reader and handheld Minesweeper games console. The ride itself was a lot smoother than when I had to travel down to Manchester for Luis' birthday celebration in 2010 because of the good banter that Kieran and I usually share.
We arrived a few hours later down in brilliantly overcast Manchester where we rendezvoused with good friend and Glaswegian superstar Bezman who took us to the food court in the Arndale shopping centre. There was a very good turnout and I was met by a wide range of familiar faces like Tommy "Rockeroid" Robin, whom I shared a flat with for the Dublin meetup, Oliver "Oliver" Smith from London, where we performed a stomping performance of Electric 6 anthem "Gay Bar", and Michael "Ragnarokia" Warburton who I know best as the man who played as my shadow for 3 days at the Epic Summer Glasgow Meetup of 2010. D'awww.
New faces there were Edinburgian (?) Dean, the man that Martin Money Lewis goes to when he needs to boost his credit rating and JAWDINE, who was a very pleasant fellow to meet and who wore a cool hat. Hooray!
To kick the evening off we travelled to the skyscraping "Premier Inn Of Doom" hotel where we played Jungle Speed with demi-god Bezman and Oliver, Keith "KaynSlamdyke" Evans, Michael, James "JPie" Prankard, and Ben "Wonchop" Smallman. It was here that Oliver mysteriously suffered from the preliminary effects of tachycardia at the beginning of his third game, beating resident champion Bezman twice in a row. He was able to complete his game after giving himself immediate medical treatment with his spy kit, investigations on the incident are still pending.
The Orchid Lounge kareoke bar was our next destination, and kareoke is always fun at the Newgrounds meets. Pretty much everyone gave it a bash, even Michael did a rendition of "I'm Too Sexy" by Right Said Fred, and I was told that I was bloody awesome at performing Louis Armstrong's "What A Wonderful World". Who'd have thought it, eh? It was great fun, Wonchop and Bez stormed the dancefloor and we all hugged each other when Luis and Jawdyn performed "Space Oddity" by "David Bowie". A night to remember. Video!
For dinner, me and Oliver gave into our gluttonous sides and we each ordered a Super Sized XL Bacon Double Cheeseburger Meal...with extra cheese and bacon. Mmm, fattening!
Prior to the meet I met this girl called Miranda on Omegle, and we've been talking for a few months or so. By chance, we were talking one day and she told me that she was going to be in Manchester while I was visiting, and thought it a good idea to ask her along so she could cruise with us for the day. Fortunately, there are still good/brave people out there that believe that you can meet someone from the internet and not be molested (Warning: Luis is to be approached at your own peril), and she came along to the Arndale shopping centre as we waited for English poopy gentleman liljim's phantom minibus. I can remember my throat being really hoarse that day, most likely from the energy spent on my powerful performance the night before. I couldn't even neigh, so there were no jokes to be made there. Anyway, Miranda took to her new surroundings like a duck to water, or a moose to a forest, and got on really well with all of the people there. ONE OF US, ONE OF US.
Never got to go snowboarding though, which was a shame. Turns out all of us had to book weeks in advance, nearly all of us did! What few remained gave the Luge a try, which reportedly was disappointing. Still, it gave me more time to shoot the shit with other Newgrounds users, as well as newcomer Miranda. Once again, I dined on a burger the size of my head with onion rings.
That evening we went to an awesome LAN centre/bar hybrid called the Kyoto Lounge. For a fiver each we got to play as many Steam games/console stuff as we liked. I was really impressed, we've got a Gamerbase up at Glasgow but not one with a bar. If there was one up at Glasgow then I'd be up every weekend, it was all very good fun.
Sunday has normally been the detox day of the Newgrounds meetup formula, with some kind of peaceful activity planned like a bit of sightseeing or some football, or planting a tree. With Luis out of action though, it was up to us to draft our own action plan. One quick shower later, I was down at the Arndale shopping centre to meet Bezman, Kieran, Michael, Jawdyn and Dean and off we went to terrorise the resident shoppers in HMV like the campest squad of boss characters you've ever seen. Think the Indigo Wolves, like in Ghost Squad. Then it was time to go to the Printworks for one final drink (so it ended up to be more of a retox day) and grab some KFC.
It was a tearful goodbye, as I proceeded to sob into the jacket of each Newgrounds user in turn. Apart from Michael, I was scared that he'd try to kiss me, so I settled for a casual fist bump instead. It was then that me, Kieran and Bezman departed Manchester in a blur of light, ready to return to our home planet of Scotland.
Every Newgrounds meet I have been to has been nothing short of magical, and the banter comes thick, fast and funny. It could be argued because they're so infrequent and that there's going to be more to talk about, but who cares? Weekend getaways a couple of months apart, away either around the UK or Europe just seems like such a better idea than a week off in Spain. They're not too costly, and you always return from them with a warm, satisfied feeling that sticks around for a few weeks afterwards.
You know what you have to do now. Get your plans sorted for the London Meet in August. Not me though, I'll probably find a kind enough stranger with a big 'ole van to take me down there on the day of the meet. Sorted. B)
Grant "Black-Ops" Wightman