Cherry blossom “season” 2014

It was about a month ago now, but there you go. All pics taken round the back of my work…

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I also went to fuckin’ Japan again in the middle of May. I HAVE to go and work as an ALT now, no more mucking about. I just feel at home there… especially when a lot of the “disadvantages” of Japan touted about by shocked liberal Californians, who were expecting a vegan pacifist wonderland, are actually things I like.

That does mean I won’t make any more progress on my comics, or blog posts, for a long time. But how will anybody notice the difference? XD

Little Downham Byegones and Organs fair, 29th March 2014

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I remember going to this event a few times as a young child (when the car-trailer-sized mechanical organs seemed like gigantic towering machinery), then didn’t for years and years. As my interest in classic cars, steam engines and patriotism increased, the more annoyed I got with myself for always forgetting this (only remembering as I drove past it, on the way to some other place).

More recently, I got involved in an international group of friends called The Regular Sweets, and we make collaborative and individual videos about our lives, and where we come from (and, less recently, I started this blog XD). This event was perfect material for that, so off I wandered!

Agricultural engine “Success”

I actually thought there would be more steam engines than there was, and there was only one “full size” one (unless you count the steam car that was also there). I also thought there would be steam engines powering the mechanical organs, but actually they were just run on electrically-generated compressed air instead.

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And an information board about the engine. Interesting to see it was built in 1914. 1914 is quite “in the culture” at the moment, as it’s now 100 years on from World War 1. Much is made of the “modern warfare” aspects of that conflict – the aircraft, tanks, machine guns etc. But in everyday life there was still plenty that was driven by “Victorian” technology! These traction engines in particular would drive from farm to farm (very slowly), and would then stay still, using their engines to push and pull machinery such as ploughs up and down fields with pulleys.

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Other steam engines

There was also a couple of mini traction engines, though one of them had two seats and was being driven around. Steam has incredible torque, you know. At one point they put it into reverse and just instantly went backwards, no need to stop first XD.

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And then there was this “Lykamobile”. It looks like a Victorian car, but has modern “59” (that’s late 2009, not 1959) numberplates. I thought it might be electric, as I think the safety regulations are a lot more lax for electric cars (mainly so the G-Wiz could be sold here, though a reproduced original Mini couldn’t). But actually it’s steam powered! It can also be bought and built in kit-car form, meaning you could have a steam car of your very own! (With a lot of money and assembly time, anyway).

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http://www.steamtractionworld.com/lykamobile.htm

More classic commercials

A Ford Escort van, Morris Minor van and Commer van. Last time I went to this show properly, probably 2005-or-so, there was a Morris Minor van for sale, which needed quite a bit of restoration. I wonder if this is the same one, newly finished?

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Also, an old military ambulance, based on a Land Rover. It won’t be from during the war, but is probably from not long after it.

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Classic cars

There was quite a few, and quite a variety, of classic cars there. Though there was also several Morris Minors, two very similar Rover P4’s, and even a couple of 50’s Vauxhalls of the same family!

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Morris Oxford estate, and 2CV-based kit.

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Big green Austin, of some kind, with military markings.

Here’s some immaculate Rover P4’s, and a Morris Minor. Just the sort of scene you might have seen on a hastily-converted “bomb site” city-centre car park, circa 1959.

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MKII Lotus Cortina, but not in the famous Lotus colours.

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Vauxhall Cresta from 1955. I think this was before the “P series” Crestas, which started from the PA Cresta, which looked like a 57 Chevy, or something.

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A Swift… *squiiint*… F Type?

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Morris Minor Travellers.

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Something from the Rootes group; Singer / Sunbeam / Hillman etc.

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The cooler Lotus Cortina. I once saw a fake one for sale, based on a normal 2-door Cortina that had had a ‘modern’ (well, 80’s) 2-litre Capri engine chucked in. Wish I’d bought it!

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Morris Six

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Can’t remember what this was

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Vauxhall Velox, a lower “trim level” than the Cresta.

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Austin Cambridge, basically the same as the Morris Oxford from above.

Bikes

There wasn’t that many bikes, of the motor or pedal kind XD. And they were all kind of crammed away behind the mechanical organs.

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Honda

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The best one, late 20’s / early 30’s mean machine.

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A pedal bike based on a post office motorbike, from the 40’s

Tractors and Stationary engines

There was plenty of non-steam farm equipment too, mainly old tractors and a bunch of small stationary engines (internal combustion). Most of the latter were running, and backfiring like mad. They were all pretty crudely built, some just had a big hole for an exhaust pipe. I loved the smell!

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Rat tractors!

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RrRrRr-PHUT! RrRrRr-PHUT!

Mechanical Organs

These are one of the main attractions of the show. They have a lot of wind-pipes like a church organ (though with a different, less sombre tone), mechanical drums, bells and other tinkling bits. Some even have animated figures that move! In Victorian times, they were controlled by long strips of paper, card or punched wooden sheets with holes in, or else revolving drums with spines on. All these systems activated ‘switches’, or valves for air pressure, as they moved – making them an early ancestor of computer programming. I don’t know if the organs there that day were Victorian survivors, newly-built, or maybe restored old ones which have been installed in modern trailers.

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Fenlander II

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Galadriel

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Los Tubos… this one had quite a different tone to the others.

Byegones

Inside the village hall, there was a number of displays of interesting old things. There was also a number of barrel organs and smaller mechanical organs, though I forgot to take pictures of most of them.

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Small piano thing, on a table of assorted bits and bobs

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Matchboxes… surprising to see how old some brands (like Spar) actually are!

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Old car ornaments

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Cans for petrol and oil

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Toy cars

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Farm tools

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Ice skates.

Somebody at my work does something called “fen skating”, where they wait for areas of fenland to get slightly flooded in winter, and then freeze. If you get enough rain, followed by low enough temperatures, you could skate for miles, in and out of trees, over fences and so on.

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Childcare / midwifery table

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Magic lanterns

Magic Lanterns were the “TV” or “Cinema” of the day, with several projected pictures over one another giving the illustion of movement, for instance a scene of a fire with ‘moving flames’, or a ship with the sails dropping. This one would probably have been extremely expensive.

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More modern video equipment, including a 60’s cine-camera and 80’s video camera, which you actually put VHS tapes directly into!

Heh, I mentioned seeing somebody with an even bigger VHS video camera at a school sports day in about 1991, my mum had his name instantly. She never forgets the “insult” of somebody conspicuously-consuming, evidently.

Barrel / Smaller Mechanical Organs

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One “played” by an animatronic clown. There was actually another one being played by a teddy bear, but I forgot to take a photo.

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Other ones

The event was pretty cool in all, though not very big (I’m sure there used to be another event in the village that was in both the village hall car park, park car park, and school playground, with all sorts of events and displays). But it did put me in the way of knowing that there’s a much bigger steam engine / classic car show in Haddenham in September, which ought to be worth seeing (well, if I’m here in September, anyway). There’s also a place called Prickwillow Engine Museum, with displays of steam and diesel engines which used to be used to drain the fens. That might even be worth a “dashcam” cycle trip to!

The miscs

Just a bunch of other photos from my phone…

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Revised “looking for a Japanese girlfriend” t-shirt design

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Odd thing seen at Camcon

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Things that people made for my work’s charity Halloween party.

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Soho Bullit! Right next door to a good Japanese book shop, which is called, er, “Ultimate Dry Cleaning”.

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Suddenly, and for no reason, these thumbnails have started to be stretched vertically. Anway, a gingerbread house somebody at work made for Christmas. Check out the second photo!

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Third hibernating butterfly to wake up too early. This one I kept in my cabinet with a flower it could eat pollen from, but it died anyway.

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Decorative lamp I got my granny

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The last sunset of the year (2013!) was wonderful. Taken with two different cameras…

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There’s a monthly manga meetup in London, which I went to a few times last year. This year I hope to go more regularly. I had to kill time (it’s on a Sunday, everything shuts hours beforehand), so went to the Embankment, first time I’ve been there, actually.

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Classic Westerns

I caught Winchester 73 on TV years ago, and it immediately became one of my favourite films. In HMV today I saw it on sale for just £6, and bought it. I also saw another, erm, “western” which isn’t quite to orthodox XD

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 Now, which do I watch first?

Apparently it’s based on a zombie hack n’ slash game in Japan. And the temptation to move there grows once more…

FX Haruhi

I was wandering Japanese videos on Youtube, probably looking for Ryukoka / Gunka, or WW2-era propaganda footage, when I ran across a Christmas video from this bona omi:

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That text scrolling across him is because these videos originally come from Nico Nico, which displays comments scrolling across the screen at the point in the video where they were made. You’ll see those a lot as this story unfolds…

Why yes, that is a sexy Christmas elf costume sold in kinky shops. I re-found the video about a month after, when I went back to my own channel for something and saw the record of a comment I’d posted on it. I scanned about looking for more videos of this guy, and discovered he’s got quite a line in cross-dressing:

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And yes, his lallies are rather bona, too:

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Holy shit do I want that

I noticed that videos of him, ripped from Nico Nico, had been uploaded by many different people. A sure sign that he is, for better or for worse, internet “famous”. Google Chrome translations revealed many negative comments saying things like “death”, “scrap” and “scum”. I’m guessing it’s worse.

I found out he was calling himself Haruhi Suzumiya. Unfortunately, I quickly found out that was the name of a famous manga character, and so not much help. But I also noticed that FX (ForEx, for foreign exchange) trading was mentioned in conjunction with him a lot. I googled “FX Haruhi”, which offered to autocorrect to “FX ハルヒ”, and the hunt was on! I found, er, this:

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Machine translated once again, as all the text bits in this entry will be

http://www43.atwiki.jp/niconamafx/pages/15.html appears to be a website with ‘profiles’ of people who have become infamous on the Japanese-language internet, and he’s one of them. That thing about him being “neat” is actually a mistranslation of NEET, or Not in Education, Employment or Training. It was originally used in a British government report to describe people on the dole, but has since been seized upon by far-eastern geeks. In Japan it’s become synonymous with Hikkomori, or “shut ins”, kids who are so socially awkward they never go out at all. But FX Haruhi is not quite that extreme.

The site follows up with a list of his, er, “sins”

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“Preformatted doubly eyes”? Piss off, his eyes are gorgeous

Apparently he exposed some bank account details accidentally on one video, and these people have “made a beggar many times”. They then follow up with loads of salacious stalker gossip on how often he has a bath. Who really has the moral high ground here, eh?

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Then there’s his sins in FX trading. Apparently he lost (a lot of the machine translations say he “dissolved” or “melted” XD) 10, 17 or 20 million yen (not as much as millions of pounds, but still a lot), which was apparently his parents’. OR which he had won at Pachinko (Japanese “gambling”, which you technically can’t play for cash, but everybody does), which he had apparently been playing under-age.

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FX Trading, yesterday.

Though from his mother’s reactions in several videos, it probably was his parents’ money he wasted. He certainly seems to like gambling, in fact he even has a bandit in his room, and plays it on one of the videos XD.

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Still looking adorable ^-^

After a video of his loss, and his mother screaming at him (The video where this apparently happened, though of course I can’t understand anything beyond a lot of “nan da yo”, is zoomed in, has another window covering up the ‘action’, and millions of Nico Nico scrolling comments in all colours), the story was picked up by some minor Japanese news sites. The machine translations doing the usual hatchet job:

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http://blog.livedoor.jp/dqnplus/archives/1621104.html

http://rocketnews24.com/?p=93673

Mind you, at other times he doesn’t seem too badly off (the videos have all been deleted and re-uploaded by random people, it’s impossible to work out a proper chronology):

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Keep it there, chum. It’s safter than turning it randomly into Euros and back

His mum often appears in the videos, but isn’t always ranting either. In the Christmas video I saw first she is for a bit, even when he tries to bribe her (XD). In another one they’re both vlogging and drinking together XD.

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Still that doesn’t stop the flow of negative comments. Here’s a typical one. Something tells me that the poster can’t be trusted, though.

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LOL, “scrap” again

The wiki entry I found about him also has a list of quotations from him and his mum. Hilariously, the translation of a website created by people who are more sympathetic to her called her a “hag”.

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Then there was “the damn war and bloodshed”. The translators have really gone to town on this one!

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What?

It starts off with him talking normally, then he leaves and there’s a great deal of shouting from him, his mum and somebody else. With the usual excitable text speculating on what is happening:

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Then he comes back like this:

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How dare anybody injure such beauty?

Apparently he tried to borrow ¥30,000 off somebody, possibly his grandfather, somebody dodgy, or another trader. That person came to visit and trouble ensued (one translation of one of the mirrors of the video even implies it was the police who came round(!)). The Wiki mentions this too, saying it happened in March last year

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Youtube commenters reacted with the typical level of sympathy:

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10? 17? 20? Make your bloody minds up

An artist also got an Ukiyo-e style “fanart” tagged on his (well, possibly his) Nico Nico page:

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Oh dear…

But despite all that mess, he’s still gorgeous, isn’t he? Which brings us on to where this post is going, namely that

I WANT TO BE HIS BOYFRIEND!

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TAI-HE-I-YO-O-OO!

Why yes, that is a very wonkily-drawn rendering of the Mikasa, a product of the Anglo-Japanese alliance. I want to Anglo-Japanese a-lie with him, all right. I even bought a comic on the subject:

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Bad teeth, ugly smile. This pic took like 30 goes before I produced a non-blurry one, so it will have to do >.<

Just look at him! “Doubly eyes”, indeed. His eyes are wonderful :3

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<3 <3 <3

BUT, is he so? Well there IS one video where he’s trying to flirt with an American girl who owns lots of snakes (well, he’s typing pre-made lovey phrases to her whilst actually talking to somebody else on Skype XD)

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We also learn that a Jigglypuff is called a Purin in Japan.

But then again, some of the things he does in other vids are rather camp:

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That second one is a funny delayed reaction to delicious noodles XD

There’s also a report on that wiki page that he “raised a queer voice” while shirtless in front of a station, before “collaborating” with the police. Could be have been trolling for trade? XD

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Mind you, after that we have more records of financial misdemeanors. I hope, if we ever get gay married (do they even have that in Japan?) that he doesn’t Jew me out of my money, like a Turk.

And while not an indication of blueness per se, he does like cute cats, including a very sweet and squeaky tiny kitten ^;^

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Anyway, having become very intrigued by his enchanting beauty, I had to go and search for ‘legit’ pages actually written by him. I found what appears to be his Twitter. Apparently he recently bought a car, so can’t be doing all that badly, even after “melting” so much money.

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https://twitter.com/suzumiyakurona

And as this is an eye-candy post in the newly created eye-candy category, here’s just a bunch of other pictures of him I collected but couldn’t slip into (ooh, ain’t ‘e bold?) the post any other way.

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Remember to cut out and keep your voucher

 “But wait” you say. “What’s this about him raising a queer voice while shirtless outside a station? Did the wiki-creators follow him about, or did he film that?”. Well, unfortuately the video is at powerpoint framerate, but we do get a glimpse:

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Holy shit do I want to possess that

And then his “collaboration with” the Saitama police:

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Oh dear…

He really ought to move away from his detractors and the bad memories, and make a fresh start elsewhere. Now I’m not making any sort of undue suggestions about drastic moves halfway across the world, but, well…

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 Nobody gonna take my guy, gonna keep him to the end

Nobody gonna take my guy, he stays close on every bend

 Ooh, he’s a killin’ machine, got everything

Like a movin’ mouth, body control, and everything

I love him, I need him, I see him

Yeah, he turns me on

All right, Hold Tight, I’M A HIGHWAY STAAAR!

We had some weather recently

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I time-travelled to the past, and it was black and white

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Oh also somebody left my work recently. Unlike every other time ever, I actually went to the leaving party (because unlike almost every other time ever, she hadn’t fucked me off by randomly having a go one morning because a gas cylinder ran out, when I have nothing to do with the gas cylinders, or something). I missed the last bus back to Madingley Road Park and Ride, so had to walk it. There’s a nice ‘spooky’ section right on the edge of the city, unfortunately I couldn’t take a decent pic with only the phone. But here ya go anyway.

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Nice cobwebs in the grass

And right on the heels of a post about our favourite atrocity-merchant, comes a picture of a beautiful scene I saw at work one day. The sun was going down and reflecting on thousands of small cobwebs strung between grass. Shame you can only barely make out some of them in this photo, as it was taken with the phone camera.

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Three Saturdays

Not updated this again for ages. Dum de dum. Things have been ticking over, issue 2 of my comic (supposed to be cover dated March – April) is still not finished, but ought to be tomorrow. Only the editor’s page and a map to do!

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EXTERMINATE!

Also Doctor Who is back on, but I missed the start of the episode just gone >.<, I notice it appeared to show a prosperous India of the future, with it’s own space programme. I notice that this prosperous India of the future was still full of ethnically Indian people, though. I remember some “leaked episode synopsis” that was doing the rounds before the last series, which suggested there would be an episode set in Japan in the 2170’s. I bet if the BBC had actually made that, the Japan of the 2170’s would still be populated entirely by ethnically Japanese people.

Of course, in my own comics, scenes set on the future Earth will have, say, a mostly black guy (‘pure’ races will be rare hundreds of years in the future) named Vladimir Rodriguez, who comes from Tokyo and mainly speaks Japanese. Just to ridicule this “mah effnic origin” disease that the yanks are into, which is infecting Britain at an alarming rate.

But enough of that. Two saturdays ago (or 1 week BDW) we had a huge storm. There wasn’t much visible lightning, but the thunder was just a constant rumble, it sounded like when you are videoing something and the wind blows against the microphone. I did capture a bit of footage, some of the thunder and some of the rain.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Wj_DpbIINUQ

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HXJEKD_oetc

There had also been hail before that, I got a few photo of that after it had finished.

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There was also cool-looking clouds and sewage coming out of the drains, which somebody drove through really fast with their window down slightly, lawl.

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Anyway, on the second of these saturdays, I trolled into Cambridge to see my friend Asha. Except (as usual) she took forever to get ready (it was literally like all day). So Instead I wandered around Charity shops killing time. So, lets just turn this into a haul post!

The best thing I got was this:

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Grummock yer parts…

It’s a tape of Round the Horne , the greatest radio comedy ever! It’s where Julian and Sandy, who I’ve just noticed I never posted about (to my shame, got a CD of them ages ago), come from. Anyway, it evolved out of another show called Beyond our Ken (the host of both was Kenneth Horne), but was a lot funnier.

Anyway, this box contains 2 tapes, which are supposed to be the third set of four episodes. But one of them is actually from the tenth set, but as the show had got into it’s stride then I won’t complain! Anyway, aside from Julian and Sandy (polari-speaking queens who did a different, innuendo-laced, job each week)

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‘Evvy Metal

I also got this, for the amazing price of 10p. It’s an old demo tape by a band called Jackal, probably from some time in the 80’s, or maybe early 90’s. The paper insert appears to have been produced on a photocopier, and the red has been hand-coloured. An (admittedly vague) search of the internet has failed to turn up any reference to a metal band called Jackal, so I assume they are long since defunct. Shame, the music is actually pretty damn good (in fact, better than some early thrash which was signed by big labels – like old Testament – which all sounds like it’s recorded in an echoing empty room).

Also, I have been looking at Danny Choo, and his other site called Figure FM, recently. A lot of people were posting pictures of their “otaku rooms”, awash with manga, anime DVD’s and figures. I wanted to tart up my own otaku room a bit, though of course I am an otaku by the Japanese definition and not the foreign one XD. I needed some models to display – no, not anime figures! I’m an otaku for old British culture, and that means…

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Airfix!

I’d seen this set advertised in Commando a few times. You get two planes and a display stand for yer money. I got that one because “jet planes are easier, they’re just pipes with wings on” and also having an Argentine plane would be a bit “weird”. I presume the standard Douglas Skyhawk kit Airfix make comes with 1960’s US Air Force decals. I’ve not started to make this yet, though. As it will be displayed I want to get it right, so got a ‘simpler’ kit to ‘practice’ with. Of course I made tons of these as a kid (I also did a bunch of cheap foreign kits which never got painted, bright green ME109 ahoy!), but I usually just slapped on single coats of paint, glued on the decals (paper and all) and then they got broken and chucked out XD.

Oh yeah, the display cabinet itself, well I got that (along with some other bits) a few weeks ago when I went to Ikea. It’s a Detolf cabinet, which nearly all the otaku rooms on Danny Choo have XD. I have stuffed it with various odds and ends at the moment, but they’ll be gradually replaced by Airfix planes and ships (got my eye on a huge Golden Hind, but that will be tough to build), Gundams and a few (and I mean a few, possibly two XD) anime figures XD.

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The full thing. All that crap next to it is a stack of Roy of the Rovers which desperately needs gaps filling, putting in order and binding into 6-monthly books. Anybody got a spare grand?

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Some Lego stuff, including the Lego Felney characters, from when I had a regular webcomic (ha!) and the scanner broke. Also some limited edition Corgi Minis, a limited edition Lotus F1 model (now very battered and with sun-faded stickers) and some other bits.

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A Download Festival programme, a Star Wars toy, more lego (“FW Devil 1” is a ship of my own creation called a Slasher), some Judge Dredd cards that the Megazine gave away, my Camcon wristband and some bijou statuettes.

And so on to today. Today was the second day of “Open Cambridge”, an event I also went to in 2010. Basically various colleges open up certain seldom-seen parts to the public for free. Lots of guided tripettes also take place around the city, but those were all fully booked months ago. Anyway I made a list of small libraries in colleges that I wanted to see and trolled around, only to find that this year’s Open Cambridge had a slight difference, namely, it was shut! Still I did go to the Whipple Museum (which is open to the public all the time anyway) and to the Sporting Christ’s exhibition, in one of the libraries there (which, it turned out, is a separate exhibition running for the duration of the Olympics and a good month and a half either side to boot XD).

Buut before that, I went into Ely and got a simpler Airfix kit, from the “City Cycle Centre”, an independent toy and hobby shop (with a side of DIY and, of course, cycling). I used to go in there a lot as a kid, but then we called it Zaskies, for some reason. It used to sell these wicked cap guns that looked almost like real rifles and shotguns, you wouldn’t see that these days! Anyway, up the stairs and round the corner used to be the Airfix (well and Revell, Tamiya and so on), Warhammer and Hornby department. These were all still in roughly the places I remember, but are now bigger(!) than they were when I was a kid. The back wall has also been knocked through and a load of other rooms (perhaps store rooms or other shops before) have now been incorporated into the main shop. Anyway, which simpler kit did I buy just to get my eye in? Which do you think?

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Can’t beat the classics!

… Mind you, if they’d had a Red Arrow I probably would have got that XD. It was £8, though the same sorts of kits in Model Zone (where I got that Falklands set) are only £5.99, you have to support these independent shops or they’ll disappear!

After that I trolled off to Cambridge, to be disappointed XD. Still I couldn’t resist the Haunted Bookshop, and bought a hardback, cloth-bound prospectus for a girl’s boarding school. Like you do. There’s an inscription dated 1943 in it, but I should think the book itself is older, from before rationing, because the paper is lovely, thick and glossy. It has a great many photos, which will be useful reference material for illustrations in my own boarding school story, Xin Zhou’s Schooldays – the first chapters of which will appear in the Red, White & Blue issue 2, erm, eventually!

 3sats13.jpg – 3sats14.jpg