The week before Block Party was a series of potential disasters, averted by last-minute interventions. Come Saturday, I knew that we'd done all we could, and if things went wrong on the day we'd deal with it somehow.
Indeed, things did go wrong: the food van we'd booked didn't show up. It was completely unavoidable: there had been a death in the family, so I suspect the last thing they wanted to do was serve burgers to us nerds while grieving.
As predicted, we dealt with it. Or rather, my daughter Hayley, and our compere supreme Chris Coltrane, dealt with it - coming up with a plan to order a job-lot of pizzas, and sell them for a couple of quid a pop, on an honesty box system. Any profit went straight towards our charity raffle fund.
This did mean a rejigging of the evening section - the Digitiser panel had to be cut short (we were very conscious that a lot of the audience needed to catch trains) before we even got to the part of the story where Tim got fired. Still so many stories left untold. But that's getting ahead of myself.
I wasn't able to get to all the daytime panels - I was too busy stood at the Digitiser merchandise stall, or chatting to people - but I understand they went well.
The day was quieter than hoped, but it worked in our favour when the schedule started overrunning; it meant we could drop the second of the designers' panels.
That was my first sort of official part of the day - talking with Dan Farrimond, and my old Teletext/Ladbrokes/School friend Steve Horsley. What the teletext fans in the audience made of my appalling, rambling, tangential anecdotes about Danny Taurus's wig and my old art teacher's funeral, is anyone's guess. Sorry. I can't help myself.
Once 5pm arrived, the place started to get busy, and we stopped worrying about whether the cavernous main hall was the right location for the evening activities.
I was doing my best to chat to as many people as possible, while also trying to help get a stage set up, with a video screen, prepare for the quiz and panel, and then deal with the bombshell that our food wasn't going to arrive as planned.
I can't stress enough the effort everyone in the team put in - particularly Sanya, Chris (with his bag of snacks for everyone) and Hayley, plus the guys from the Centre for Computing History. They're all the real unsung heroes of the day - and it's because of them that everything ran relatively smoothly.
Given how much could've gone wrong - and a BBC Model B did explode at one point - tempers never got frayed, and everyone stayed in a good mood. As frantic and frenetic as the evening became, it remained, at every stage, utter fun. Even the pizzas, I think, brought us all together in a sort of Blitz spirit.
Everyone I spoke to - and I could scarcely walk two feet without being stopped for a chat - seemed to understand that I was always within about 30 seconds of being pulled away to deal with something. Nobody tried to monopolise me.
Which was lovely of them, but also a shame, because I wanted to talk to everyone as much as possible. Thank you to those who made the effort to be there - we even had a couple come from Scotland just for Digifest.
The first big sigh of relief came when the videos were screened - originally we'd planned to run the spoof ads into the Digitiser pages montage - but we decided to have a break (again, at the suggestion of Chris Coltrane) so that people could eat, before we ran the montage, straight into the Digitiser Q&A. The videos got laughs.
They also got lots of baffled/appalled looks. And that was exactly what I wanted.
I've been working on the videos for months now - since the start of the summer - so to see the work pay off was a huge relief. Please share the YouTube compilation if you can (I'll get the other bits of videos up at some point for you). If they're popular online, I'll try and do more.
By this point I was starting to flag, but being on stage with Violet and Tim for the first time ever - ably hosted by Chris - remained a joy. I just wish the panel could've gone on longer, as planned. We'd barely scratched the surface of Digi's history, before we had to stop, to get set up for Quiz-Me-Do.
I expected Quiz-Me-Do to be shambolic, and that we'd be winging it as we went. I also expected to be a bit nervous - having never done anything remotely like it, and not seeing myself as a performer. Somehow, I had no nerves whatsoever. Public speaking I've done a fair bit of, but public performing is something new. I had no idea how I'd handle it. In the event... I loved every single second of Quiz-Me-Do.
The first winging it came when I realised that there was absolutely no room on the stage for my big entrance (matron). I had to ditch my Mona Lisa dance routine, which I'd come up with before I left for Cambridge that morning. The audience interaction with "Moc-Moc" ("A-MOC!") went well, and I got a laugh for the "It'll be fine for what it is" joke.
By then I could relax - albeit not enough to stop me ballsing up my very first puntroduction, or melting to death in that ruddy sequinned jacket (I thought too late of an hilarious "What an unfortunate sequins of events" joke about my profuse sweating).
Once I saw YouTube hero Ashens frantically scraping at John Romero's hair with a brush, I knew it was all probably going to work, one way or another.
The rest rolled along nicely, seemingly with many an unplanned surprise: hotdogs being thrown around the stage with abandon, Carl Attrill's impromptu rendition of the Quiz-Me-Do theme music, and Chris Coltrane's remarkable Wargasm mime, and him terrorising a gentleman in the front row by screaming "QUIZ-ME-DO!" into his face.
Sanya and I had spent the past month and a half brainstorming game ideas - if you weren't there, you missed the following:
- Stuart "Ashens" Ashen crawling around on his hands and knees, looking for lies written by Julian "Jaz" Rignall, which had been stuck to the underside of audience members' chairs. And then feeding them to Jaz, while we all shouted "Eat it, pig".
- As mentioned, Ashens brushing baby turtles out of John Romero's hair.
- Chris Coltrane wearing an Elizabethan ruff and pantaloons, while shooting bad ideas out of Peter Molyneux's forehead.
- The entire panel playing Sniff My Ring - a game in which they had to smell Sonic's tainted gold rings.
- Tim and Violet playing The Streets Run Red With British Blood - in which they had to "bleed" Lord British, while the audience chanted "Blood! Blood! Blood!".
- YouTuber Mentski in his blacked-out gas mask, throwing slugs at the eyebrow-less visage of Shigeru Miyamoto.
- The sight of TV legend Violet Berlin fisting Mario's box.
- And much more, that is impossible to describe, or best left for when the video goes online.
As soon as Quiz-Me-Do came to a close, my brain shut down. It was like crossing the finishing line of a marathon, and just collapsing.
I rambled through the special thanks - mumbling my way through thanking our sponsors Open Broadcast Systems, and forgetting the likes of Louise and Alex, who spent the entire day filming, and Chris Jerden-Cooke, who composed the brilliant Quiz-Me-Do theme. I know he didn't want me to point him out, but... well... I'm doing it here whether he likes it or not.
I almost forgot to thank the GamerDisco chaps, but failed to mention Steve for coming along and sharing the designers' panel with me, and I probably didn't say how much I appreciated Tim and Violet being there - three of my oldest friends, none of whom I see enough of.
I also can't remember if I stressed exactly how brilliant Jason and the Centre's staff were on the day. Every request we threw at them they tried to accommodate. I doubt the museum - which you should all visit, because it's brilliant - has ever seen anything quite like it.
And I don't know if I stressed how much Dan Farrimond contributed to the weekend - it was his enthusiasm, positivity, and general encouragement which has helped sustain me through the whole organisation of the event. And, indeed, Dan was the first person who knew that I was sort of bringing Mr Biffo out of retirement. Dan also organised ALL the daytime schedule, and pulled everything together. He's a hero.
Suffice to say, if you'd told me two years ago that I'd one day be hosting a teletext and Digitiser festival - with some of the old Board of Biffo members as attendees - I'd have literally laughed myself into a coma.
The fact that everyone has been so bloody lovely since I brought Mr Biffo back, been so supportive, and has said so many nice things to me over the last couple of years, gave me the confidence to stage this event. Not only stage it, but get up in a gold sequinned jacket, and arse around for an hour. I'd worked so hard to withdraw from any spotlights, that it's difficult to even comprehend reaching this point.
By the time Block Party was over, I'd been awake for near 20 hours, and on my feet for 16 of those. Suffice to say, yesterday I crashed hard, passing out on the sofa for four hours. I'm still shattered today - and, oddly, have lost all feeling in both my little toes.
It's a weird, surreal, and blessed life when you get to do something, or have done something, where people tell you it's important to them, or influenced them. All of you - and you know who you are - who said something to that effect on Saturday... it is so appreciated. Even the guy who told me he didn't expect me to be - and I quote - "such a hulk".
I loved the day, I loved putting the videos together, and I loved hosting Quiz-Me-Do, but we did it for the people who bought tickets - and I hope everyone who came felt it was worth it, and that they had a good night out. I'd love to hear from you - not least because we're going to do another one. No question.
Maybe next time we'll have worked out how to actually make a profit...