Spent Friday though Sunday in London with Junior and his buddy, both 14. My original plan had been to find a gaming convention with both a video game track and a boardgame track. But failing that, I got tickets for the Eurogamer Expo at the Earls Court Convention Centre in London, which is all video games. My once substantial interest in such has long evaporated, but I kept the Saturday free for other activities.
In order to be sure to get the boys into the fair I had to buy a ticket for myself as well, and I checked out the place without finding anything that caught my interest. It was all in all a fine setup and well worth visiting for the aficionado. But three things were positively repellent: the dominance for first-person military simulations, the poor wifi, and the (admittedly few) booth babes in scanty clothing. A small but considerable proportion of the attendees were girls and young women. I find it really embarrassing that they should have to confront skinny bottle-bleached models in orange hot pants. And as a male I’m insulted by exhibitors who think I’ll be more interested in their products if their representatives show cleavage. By all means, more women in the booths and as attendees! But as knowledgeable and interested people, not as walking Barbie dolls.
Friday while the boys were revelling in the digital, I went to the British Music Experience, a pop music museum housed in an annexe to the O2 event arena. Saw a lot of pop memorabilia and video clips and had a good time on my own. Then I picked up the young gentlemen, had a proper curry dinner and played two games of Munchkin at the hotel.
Saturday we went to the Science Museum, spending most of our hours there checking out the Alan Turing Centennial Exhibition and rocketry history in detail and participating in Google’s Chrome exhibition with interactive music, robots drawing in sand and more. The boys didn’t want to leave. The music thing was particularly cool, with a large room full of acoustic instruments jacked up to computers and all controlled by a sequencer. Some instruments were programmed by people on the net and others by us who visited the exhibition. Fun! I was also thrilled to see a V2 and learn that those rockets were the first spacecraft — though only in order to reach England fast. Then we walked along the Embankment from Westminster to the Millennium Bridge and spent an hour mudlarking at sunset on the riverbed as it was successively revealed by the ebbing tide. It’s one big culture layer: mostly brick, roof slates and bone, but also pottery, clay pipes, glass, flint and more. Judging from the darkened but otherwise pristine state of the bones, an 18th century culture layer has recently been washed out here. Then fish & chips at a Lebanese place and reading until bedtime.
Sunday the boys went back to the fair and I had lunch with Ed, one of the finest students who dug at Skamby in ’05, and his charming wife Olivia. Good people, good times! Then I shepherded the young masters back home (subway, train, plane, bus, subway, commuter train), our only mishap being that airport security confiscated the bullet-shaped caps of the freebie memory sticks they had scored at the fair.