Reading the Retro Gamer Magazine I noticed that there was to be a Classic Gaming Expo in London, it said that would-be exhibitors should contact the organisers to reserve space for their stand. I considered it briefly and decided against it. Having attended the Acorn User Shows in the past I knew the amount of work involved in putting in a showing at these things made it very hard (and expensive) work, something I didn't fancy much at all
Anyhow, about a month before the event, I received an email from Jeremy Grayson who being a very keen BBC games collector and player was wanting to put in a showing for the BBC computer. He had been speaking with Chris Millard the organiser of the event and had secured a stand to put in a showing for the BBC gaming side. He had emailed a couple of other folks to see if they were interested too. Being a keen gamer myself and a collector of gaming machines, after a bit of thought I realised that this was something not to be missed.
There followed a few weeks of preparation involving designing and printing posters, planning how many computer setups I needed and cadging monitors and disc drives. Deciding what to take and what not to take was particularly difficult
We planned to go up to the Expo on Friday 23rd to set up. Early on the morning of the 23rd I set off to have my usual morning cycle ride. Towards the end of my ride a bee hit me in the face. Over the weekend a large grotty patch appeared on my chin, just what I needed. So anyone that saw me there that weekend, now you know what it was!
After an awful ride down from Hull to London taking 7 hours in baking heat we arrived at the Fairfield Halls where Chris showed us around the areas that the show would be in. There was a main hall which the 'BBC Games Resources' (Crispin Boylan (BBC Games Archive), Jonathan Harston of JGH PD, Jeremy Grayson plus myself and my wife Gill) would be in. Then there was a small raised area in the entrance hall, an area on a balcony in the entrance hall and finally another smaller hall near the balcony. There was also a cafeteria type area on the top floor where there would be refreshments (I never did get to visit this)
We had a huge stand in the center of the main hall, 10 tables in a big square. I promptly unloaded the car onto the tables and began the long job of setting up. First thing was to get all the computers, monitors and drives switched on and give them a good long test. It is a good job I did this as about 2 hours after switching on, Gill noticed a plume of smoke emanating from my 1770 BBC. Quickly unplugging it and hiding it from view, I don't think anyone spotted the disaster, I removed the fuse from the plug, wrapped it up and placed it in a box where it slept for the rest of the show. As it turns out, this was the only casualty of the weekend (on the BBC stand anyhow). Later, at home, I removed the PSU, switched it on and left it several hours. It was fine, so I replaced it into the BBC and left it switched on for 24 hours. All seems fine. There are some spiders webs in there so I am wondering if some poor unsuspecting bug got fried
I received a phonecall from Jeremy who having left work early was now stuck on that large car park around London that they laughingly call the M25 (the time we spent on it and the distance we travelled, I could have cycled it quicker). Unfortunately he was not going to be able to get to the halls before they closed them up at about half past 8. I nearly managed to get everything sorted. Crispin Boylan had been unable to find the event despite having been outside it. There were no posters or anything now I think back
A few of us went out for a Pizza and then for a well earned kip in the hotel.
Woken about 2.30am by a short burst on the fire alarm, what a good time of day to test the dammed thing. I was awake at 5am. Too excited! Down to the halls for 8am and a bit of sorting out. Jeremy set off to pick up Crispin at about 7.30am. This, with the London traffic ensured that they did not arrive at the halls to set their stuff up until well after the public were in there at 10am. It was not all that disastrous as there was not a great rush of people. More a steady trickle, this is how it was over the weekend. Just enough to keep us all active but not enough to have us run off our feet (I remember how hectic the Acorn User Shows were and I felt after those that I had missed out on chatting to folks)
The day went very quickly. Most of the time I was simply chatting with folks, many I have only had email conversations with previously. This was just what I had hoped would be the case. We had several BBCs, Masters and an Electron all ready for use. Most with games running on them to tempt the punters. Many people were wandering up, sitting at the BBCs and playing contentedly. It was great to see the pleasure on the faces of folks rediscovering their old favourites. Jeremy and Crispin were the main authorities on the games and were sorting folks out with games requests. Jeremy had spent weeks compiling a pile of discs of his favourites (these I have now imaged for posterity). I think they even found time to have a bit of a high score competition
Ted brought me his Master for repair and servicing. I carried it out on the spot. Jules Richardson who was with the Bletchley Park Museum stand with his eagle eye spotted the power supply was a bit odd. See the photograph below
At the end of the day the Sinclair C5 came out and Chris Millard had a bit of a tear around in the main hall circling all of the stands. We went out for a meal to Weatherspoons. I was absolutely amazed, beer £1.50 a pint and two meals for £4. I thought London was going to cost me an arm and a leg. We had brought all our own food with us which I think did save us quite a few bob really. Jeremy did likewise, even bringing his own booze, by the way, thanks for the bottle Jeremy, it was beautiful
Next morning I was once more up with the larks and while Gill and Jeremy were lazing around filling their faces with bacon and eggs etc, I was making hay. I wandered right around the event and had a good look at all of the stands. This was just about the only time that I left the BBC stand. Chris got the C5 out again, this time in the car park which was reasonably empty first thing in the morning. I had a go on it. Great fun. See the avi below for a short clip
As with Saturday, Sunday was a good steady day. Not rushed off our feet but a steady trickle of folks to chat to. Jeremy had put Granny's Garden on to one of my machines. I was very surprised at how many people stopped and played the game. Lots more smiled and commented on it as they walked by. Needless to say, Jeremy was not surprised. I do remember that he had repeatedly told me in the past that it was really popular, guess I had not believed him. Jonathan Harston attended to help. It was great seeing my old mate again for albeit a short time. He brought his Master Compact setup with him, a true hero, on the train and tram with a large box dangling off each arm, argh, I just realised I should have photographed him with his boxes. He spent a fair bit of time trying to put viruses from his CD onto my laptop. Fortunately I think my AV software handled it. It seems that Jonathan collects them on purpose
We were packed up by 6pm and on our way home by 6.30. Home by about midnight. Not so bad for me but Gill had to be up at 5.30am for work. On its own this was acceptable to her. What tipped the scales and got me in the dog house was when the day after (Tuesday) my cycle seat snapped as I was out on my morning ride and I had to ring her up to be rescued when she was at work again not long after :-(
Gill and I had a great time. Thanks to Jeremy for all the hard work preparing and organising for our attendance at the event, without Jeremy the 'Games' bit of the 'BBC Games Resources' would have been missing. Thanks to Crispin for coming and helping out, I did notice you keeping the machines going and helping out the folks. I also noticed you soldiering on well with some that I would have run away and hidden from ;-) Without you two the BBC side would have ground to a halt
There is not much mention of the other exhibitors here. An oversight on my part, I realised after getting home that I had taken very few pictures of anything other than the BBC stand. For details of the other contributors click here the official photos page of the CGEUK.
Finally a comment about the behaviour of the visitors. It was amazing. By the time I got my things home, nothing was missing or broken, that is fair enough. However, surprisingly, there was no sign of any grubby fingermarks on any of the kit. Not even a fingerprint on a monitor screen. Our kit was treated with great respect and looked after by every person that came near to it. The first day I had put out posters asking folks not to eat or drink near to them. The second morning I removed the posters as they were not needed
Here are details of CG Expo UK 2005. There is a possibility there may be one for Christmas. Anyone else interested in helping out on the stand should contact me
If you have any you took, send them to me please, I will put them up here too
Check out the official CGEUK 2004 photo/report page
|Setting up on the Friday|
|Jonathan Harston sat at my laptop installing virii|
|All four of us, Crispin, Jeremy, myself and Jonathan|
|Jules Richardson proudly displays a Laser Disc setup|
I just wanted to say how much my friend Stuart and I enjoyed the Retro Gaming Expo on Saturday when we played some of the old classics on the selection of BBC Micros and Masters you had available. I found it very refreshing playing Elite again after 20 years <blimey has it been that long> and finding that I even remembered how to play the game. Even the button layout still felt familiar.I remember playing that game on my BBC at home every day after school, usually into the early hours.It was a joy to relive thanks to your dedication in keeping the BBC alive.
I've also attached a couple of photos I thought you might like for your web-site.
Anyway, thanks again. I'm definitely going to keep my eyes peeled for another BBC (I sold mine for £7.00 - It still hurts) and a mint copy of Elite on Disk.
|Mending Ted's Master|
|Note the spelling? A Master PSU|
|Me sat in a Sinclair C5|
|Back Home. A huge pile of boxes to sort out|
|17 meg||The show. A video of the show. Setting up. Opening speeches. The show gets going. The Sinclair C5. Day two. The four of us. Send a blank writeable CD and return postage and I will send you a higher quality version of this|
|The rest of the photographs are cut down in filesize considerably. You can get at them by clicking on the thumbnails below. They vary considerably in quality. Some taken by Gill, some by myself. Click on the thumbnails. They will open a larger photo in a separate window. Onced opened, the separate window will be re-used|
Thanks to Chris and Christine Millard, the organisers of the
Thanks to The BeebMaster who kindly loaned disc drives for the event
Thanks to Steve Botterill for the donation of software
Thanks to Richard Hanson for donation of Software
Thanks to Steve Hanson for the loan of some FANTASTIC items to display at the CG Expo. There are also have a few goodies that collectors may be interested in.... :-)
Thanks to Jeremy Grayson for getting the ball rolling and spurring me on to make a go of this
Thanks to Crispin Boylan for helping out
Thanks to Jonathan Harston for helping out
Thanks to Gill, my long suffering wife for coming along to help. I owe you a pint ( if you don't want it, I will have it... )