Yesterday evening rotwang, ex-DodgyLodger and I went to the Epsom firework display; naturally there was Camera Tech in tow. I tried taking some pictures of last year's fireworks at Butlin's (GenCon UK coinciding with their fireworks weekend) with some degree of success, but this year was definitely better. I acquired a remote control shutter release for my camera last Christmas, and that plus a tripod makes for much easier photographing of fireworks -- not least because the remote control supports the "bulb" setting on the camera (which, for those of you who do not know of such things, is a shutter setting which basically means "open when I press the button down, close when I release it"). Ideal for fireworks as you can open the shutter when you hear the firework being let off and then close the shutter once the actual burst has happened; using the remote control you also don't jog the camera when you're doing this. (Cable release would also work, 'course.) The slight downside is that you do of course wind up carrying a tripod round with you, but the lads make excellent Sherpas for such things, even when they were distracted by the lure of blue glowing lightsabres (fairground tack).
There will probably be photos up at some point.
thalinoviel is a bad, bad girl, as she was the one who suggested a weekend jaunt to the Petersfield Bookshop. Somewhat impressively I managed to come out having spent less than £50, and some of that was on stuff for other people; rotwang, ex-DL, thalinoviel, mitchy, cookwitch and d_floorlandmine were very patient with me as I took about 15 minutes longer than everyone else (making for a total of, er, somewhere around the two-hour mark) to explore all of the shop's nooks and crannies. We then went for a pub lunch which would have been significantly improved by the Oriental Crispy Duck not turning out to have been covered in something bearing a fairly strong resemblance to toffee -- thankfully rotwang was willing to swap his steak and mushroom pie for the Sugar Overdose Duck, and they did have a cheeseboard on the dessert menu, so I didn't have to go hungry...
During the previous week I went to two British Computer Society events (rotwang is a member and thus is on their mailing list for talks, most of which are open to members and non-members alike). First up was a talk at the main BCS building in central London on The Ideal Of Program Correctness, given by Tony Hoare (who was head of the Computing Laboratory in Oxford while rotwang and I were there; this was before he
The week before that I was in Guildford again, attending a Guildford Book Festival event entitled "Why Crime?" -- various crime writers including Michael Marshall (Smith) talking about what attracted them to (writing about) crime. I did have to brave the mean streets of Guildford to get to the event, though; when I asked a security chap outside one of the clubs for directions, his response was along the lines of "See that alley over there, with the guys fighting? Avoid them, but that's where you want to go." By the time I'd crossed the road to where he'd indicated, the guys concerned had progressed from "fighting" to "being arrested" -- and it wasn't even 8.30pm on a weeknight yet. But I digress.
MM(S) was one of five guests on the panel discussing why they wrote crime fiction, and what its attraction was (the others being Frances Fyfield, Laura Wilson, Graham Hurley and Jim Kelly; Natasha Cooper chaired the panel). Topics ranged from what gave the writers the initial impulse to write crime, via whether there was anything they wouldn't write about and why violence has to matter, to why Portsmouth is a great place to set crime novels (it explains so much...). I acquired novels from all of those mentioned other than MM(S) and had them signed, although those from Graham Hurley (the one who writes stuff set in Portsmouth) wound up with drown_not_wave as part of her birthday present. (Not entirely surprisingly I already had all of the MM(S) books that were being sold there, so it was just as well I'd brought along an anthology and the Time Out Guide to London for him to scrawl on.)