(apologies I have no pictures because apparently my memory card decided it didn't want to play!)
This is not the Sunday Sermon I'd intended to post up today, I had a spark of inspiration. Sometimes in life you have your life choices brought into very sharp relief and you ask yourself... did I make the right choice? You know, should I really have gone with extra chilli sauce, did I really need the stupidly expensive store insurance that they never intended to pay out on and... wargames or motorsport. Invariably I've been happy with the choices I've made. OK so sure I'm not an international playboy with honey's dripping off of my arms. But that's OK, I only need one honey and the one I've got is one of the best a man could ever hope for! No really she's awesome. However, as the Cursed and I walked up to the Castle Donnington Exhibition Center to attend the Derby World Wargames event, a choice I made many, many years ago now was brought into focus.
You see, when I was a wee nipper I was offered a choice of attending one of two events. The first choice was whether I wanted to go to some Superbike race or other my dad and brother were wanting to go to. The other option was whether I wanted to go to Games Day instead, as I'd already got the tickets. Now I can't remember exactly what the motorsport event was, but I did love my motorsport, and I still do. My father, and indeed my older brother have taken me along to witness many forms of mechanized transportation vehicular races, and jolly good fun they are too. But, for some reason that day I chose Games Day. Thus condemning my brother to a weekend watching said motorsports event on the TV, while my dad had to suffer taking me to the NEC I believe it was to play games, and see stuff I'd already seen and played... just on a grander scale.
So why did our days excursion to Castle Donnington bring this long repressed memory flooding back... well... as we traipsed across a muddy field we could hear the strain of internal combustion engines being thrashed to within an inch of their lives, and the rich smell of fuel being burnt off in global warming level of quantities. We also saw a few brief glimpses of the lesser spotted orange 'bonnet babes'. You know the sort, knee high boots with leather / PVC skirts and make up that would make most porn stars seem classy. It looked decidedly tacky in a sort of glamorous way. Where were we heading? Well, we were off to a large warehouse in effect full of sweaty nerdy geeks with a love of miniature toy soldiers, and a scant disregard for personal hygiene. As I said, sometimes life really does bring those life choices you make into sharp relief!
While in said venue the strain of the engines outside reverberated throughout the venue, and... well I couldn't help feeling that maybe I'd made the wrong choice! Last year when I was at the Derby World Wargames event it was held in the far more accessible Derby University. OK, so the space wasn't the best in the universe, but it worked. This year it was one big long space and the noise was bouncing around inside the tin shed terribly. I couldn't hear myself think and then... vrroooooom!!! Those life choices again. There were a few tournaments going on, and honestly I wouldn't have wanted to have been taking part in them. The racket and trying to concentrate would have given me a headache, so to those of you who went there and ran games and took part in tournaments I salute your fortitude and perseverance. Truly you are the iron men and women of the hobby.
I'm going to say that I think the switch of venue is a bit of a failure. While Derby University was at times cramped, it never felt unwelcoming. Castle Donnington Exhibition Center is unwelcoming. It just doesn't look pleasant and the environment inside was dark and dingy. Also I think there were less exhibitors this year. Whether that was due to the change in venue, or just the God awful state of the economy I don't know, but it felt like there was far less interesting stuff to see. There were the usual stands I always look for at these events, but many were missing and those that were there seemed smaller this year. There also seemed to be less attendees this year... but that just could be an optical illusion. So we all make choices, and some of them will be bad, and for me moving the venue to be so far outside of Derby was a bad move.
Sure there's every chance its just the usual trouble that any event has after moving venue, but I spoke to a number of traders who felt the venue wasn't as good, and that things hadn't been as lively as previous years. Sometimes you have to live with the choices you make... and other times it's wise to admit you might have got things wrong. If Derby University wasn't the right venue anymore that's fine, but Castle Donnington certainly isn't the right venue for the events they have going on at the show. If the show remains at Castle Donnington Exhibition Center I'll not be going back, because:
- It's a pain in the arse to get to, and piss poor public transport means I can just pop along.
- I just don't like the big dingy shed vibe of the venue.
- The noise inside was deafening, certainly didn't make me want to play any games at all.
So perhaps it was a mistake. Still, at least there weren't any orange booth babes. Peace out!