[JagFest Vindaloo]

Text by Shiuming Lai
Photos by Mark Rayson


Still feeling the absence of a British traditional Indian meal at the first JagFest UK, MyAtari and its merry band of curry worshippers decided to have a warm-up for the main course this year. Not that we needed an excuse for a curry binge. Readers were invited, too.

If only organizing everything was as easy as this, there would be quite a lot more events in the calendar. We had a guest list of 20, not bad for a first effort. Unfortunately, four of those on the Atari side weren't able to make it at the last minute. Editor Matthew Bacon, whose inhuman working hours around which we planned the date, got sent off to an assignment in Bristol. Matthew Preston was off sick, Thomas Wellicome got tangled up by an incompatible timetable and Birmingham lad Gaztee (Gary Taylor) simply forgot to book the day off work! Therefore the prize for the person having travelled the longest distance goes to CiH (Chris Holland), all the way from Northampton. What that prize will be is still to be decided! Judging by his e-mail the next morning, though, I think another curry would go down nicely.

It was a breezy Sunday evening at the end of April. I went to Wimbledon earlier than the suggested meeting time of 19:00, to scope around and see if anyone else had arrived and needed help with directions and parking. My written instructions and little map were probably more confusing than helpful. Some people would also be meeting up in one of various pubs and bars dotted along The Broadway. As I headed towards the ear-shattering Australian bar, Mark Branson shouted me from across the road, he had arrived first with Felice (Richard Spowart) and Paula.

Felice and Mark are members of Cheshunt Computer Club, so were able to recognize each other in the street. I expected Mark Rayson of Retrovision and his mate Sty (John Guy) to be there drinking first, but only I knew him so far. Questions to the others as to whether they saw a man with a green head in the bar drew looks suggesting that I might be rather intoxicated myself, but as Retrovision fans know, Mark has his head painted green when he hosts a gig. He obviously didn't fancy getting beaten up on the way here from Oxford and thought better of it! We eventually found him and Sty at the bar in our destination of Ahmed Tandoori, enjoying some beers and nuts with Peter West and Ian Smith. I hadn't seen Mark since RV3, or indeed without a green head, so it was great to see him again.

[Photo: Rain and Ciaran]

Once the first arrivals were settled into the long row of reserved seats and tucking into popadums, Cheshunt club member Derryck Croker entered. Then came JagFest UK gaming champion, Ryan Edwards, followed by Rain Ashford and Ciaran the Dragon fan from Retrovision. Here the joys of mango chutney were finding a new audience, as would mango lassi later on, to those used to drinking only beer with their curry.

16/32 Systems boss Nick Harlow made a late entrance after I saw him screech past outside in his new motor, asking for a quid for parking (he does such a roaring trade at shows and conventions, he probably only carries 50 notes!). It was Sunday, so I directed him towards free parking. Happily we munched, when Felice got a call from CiH, lost somewhere in South Wimbledon. I had a complete mental block while trying to give him directions, until he mentioned he was near the Wimbledon Audi showroom, at which point I remembered a kebab house down there I'd visited a couple of years ago, and realized he wasn't where I first thought he was. I excused myself and went outside to try to catch him before he got stuck in the one-way system that Mark Branson had already experienced several times over before. Eventually I found him in the Safeway car park, where there were no spaces, so I hopped in and we powerdrifted around the back streets until we got to some spaces on Queens Road, adjoining The Broadway.

[Photo: Peter West, Nick Harlow and Felice]

Peter West on the left contemplating how to eat a floppy disk while Nick and Felice deliberate over the bites on offer.

[Photo: CiH, Shiuming, Derryck, Peter, Nick, Mark]

Much twiddling of thumbs and waiting.

[Photo: Ciaran, Sty and Ryan]

Ciaran, Sty and Ryan. Also waiting.

By this time it could be said that things were in full-swing, we had a hilarious farce with the ordering of the various courses, nobody really paid attention to the waiters desperately trying to make sense and order of the requests, finally splitting each category of food into a separate stage of order taking. All seats were packed, yet we were still missing our man from the home of JagFest UK, Elliot Swanton. Where would he sit? The rumour mill began to grind... Perhaps by himself on the table behind the next partition?

In anticipation of the feast to come, Mark Branson explained to me the hardcore dishes above a vindaloo, and how in his youth he could take a curry of fire and smoke in his stride. I just wanted to know when he would start sending me loads of ASCII about his Falcon tower project that's been going on for what seems like an eternity.

When my seekh kebabs turned up (minus sizzling crisp onions that I so like), I forgot my own name and systematically demolished them, following through with a portion of vegetable samosas. Being a condiment fiend, I kept all the little dishes of spices and sauces hidden from view so they wouldn't be taken away when the main course came.

[Photo: Seekh kebab]

Similar in texture to Spanish chorizo, and also spicy, but quite different flavour.

Nick was pushing for ideas to promote JagFest 2004. Even as I write this, it's only dawned on me now how close we are. So: Everyone, come to JagFest 2004. There, done my bit.

On the subject of magazines, Nick had just taken delivery of some copies of the new English version of the French ST Magazine (see the review in this issue). He didn't bring any with him so had to take orders and mail them out later.

I was hoping to buy some VCS 2600 games from Ryan, having missed the opportunity last year because my brain didn't register, but in the meantime he had alternative ideas for them. I'll let him off, as he will still be saving some for me.

[Photo: Ryan's Atari T-shirt]

Ryan's T-shirt from an Atari club in Japan.

[Photo: Beer bottle]

Is it the latest Jeff Minter game? No, it's an empty beer bottle!

Elliot did manage to find us eventually and the people sitting by the wall shifted along and got cosy to make space. He brought along a new 2600 game he just got from AtariAge, Oystron. The product artwork and manual looked superb.

Amazingly, we were all full of curry by 21:00. Derryck, Peter and Ian decided to go home at this point. The rest of us went in search of drinks.

[Photo: Outside the restaurant]

[Photo: Walking to the bar]

[Photo: We came...]

[Photo: We left]

Unfortunately our first stop was not open, even though the lights and signs were all on, so we left as quickly as we came. The Australian bar was even rowdier than before so we settled for the quiet(er) Irish pub, where we could at least hear each other without screaming like lunatics.

[Photo: Mark and Nick]

Mark Rayson and Nick Harlow.

[Photo: Nick talking]

"I've had a half and I can still put my finger on my nose..."

[Photo: Elliot talking to Ryan]

This is an Irish pub. Elliot drinks Guinness, Ryan drinks Guinness.

Elliot, Mark Branson and I had a long chat about Falcon accelerators and 68060 chips, the latter of which Elliot has been buying up like there's no tomorrow, in the hope of finding one that will go over 72 MHz, or even one of the elusive Rev. 6 so he can join the 100 MHz club. Mark was good enough to hang around chatting until I left, because he had his empty Falcon case in the boot of his car, ready to give to me for some photography work.

By the time I did leave, Mark Rayson and Sty were probably the last men standing. A great time was had by all, we'll do it again for sure.

Curry night trivia

  • The final bill was 267.90.
  • Three of the group were CT60 owners.
  • Three had CT2.
  • One of each belonged to CiH.
  • Nine people (60%) had an Atari Falcon of some sort.
  • We had two ladies helping devour the curry.
  • Still, two plates of pilau rice were mysteriously left over.


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MyAtari magazine - Feature #4, May 2004

Copyright 2004 MyAtari magazine