Fear and Loathing

John Minson


Last month, something went severely wrong with this column. It was nothing more than rumour and scurrilous gossip. And FEAR AND LOATHING is more than cheap jibes.

Sadly jibes come no cheaper than those aimed at Cracked and Tubby at Thalamus. They’re ten a penny. Latest from the Islington institute for overindulgence is that the dynamic duo, Flathead and Captain Corpulent, the tea boy wonder, crashed their Pratmobile.

Yes, in just one week, they managed to total the company car — a Datsun Cherry — no fewer than three times! The last concussion was so conclusive that the poor Nipponese auto is nixed. But commiserations to both of them on the loss of their Cherry.

But no more. We turn to more serious criticisms. My fan club has been writing in to complain about my self-indulgent fantasies. I was particularly taken with Mr C H Evans’ query, “Who is this stupid little prat?” Well, CH, actually I’m rather a big “little prat” and as to your brave challenge, “he can try to rip out my liver if he wants to”, I wouldn’t wish to touch any of your organs. Instead I have an electric drill, hammer action, reserved for my next visit to Powys!

J A Attwood of Norwich, a city torn apart by its inner city hooligan element, comes closer to the mark. He complains about my fixation with food and a certain vodka and tomato juice cocktail. I agree! Boozing and drinking are not fit subjects for young, impressionable readers. But what can replace them? I fancy a certain white powder that you suck up through a straw. Yes. Sherbert. This months quest is for a baggie of sherbert.

And this month’s quest begins at the Grosvenor House launch of Dragon’s Lair by Software Projects. The Spectrum version of the game they said couldn’t be done wasn’t done, of course, apart from the final screen. It looked fun, but don’t expect the laser disc graphics of the arcade original.

No guzzling here though, Attwood. The butties were curvier than boomerangs. I suspect they were of Liverpudlian origin but the poor delicate things had not travelled well.

The Edge was celebrating its fourth birthday and a move to new Covent Garden premises with a bit of a bash a day or two after. Plenty of icing sugar topping the cake, but no sign of sherbert. Still, a wacky time was had by all, especially my Swedish girlfriend, who was chatted up by a succession of software types.

Funniest faux pas came from a tyro freelance journalist who was wandering round touting for business. He sidled up to her and having introduced himself, asked her if she heard any software stories to tell him. I can only think this is the sort of guy who would ask Paula Yates for gossip about Bob Geldof!

By now I was itching for some of the fizzy stuff. Sure I could have scored a deal down at the corner shop, but I prefer to lig everything! So I went Beyond Southampton Street, where I found Francis Lee and the gang sporting pointy ears and uttering “Beam me up, Scotty.”

The Eligible Baxter, mapped outside a London Eaterie wherein he was about to reveal the secrets of BEYOND’s next scheduled release, the official STAR TREK game. Certain of my readers will be pleased to learn that alcohol is not served inside such establishments...

Luckily Baxter was present to lunch me and drop the odd hint that this outbreak of irrational behaviour was related to some new release or other.

Apparently the Beyond stand at the PCW show will be shaped like the Enterprise... though why anybody should want a stand modelled on a now defunct micro is beyond me.

Something fishy about the next port of call. Piranha software is a new name, but behind it lurks an age old concern, Macmillan, the book publishers. So when they splashed out on an informal launch do, it was in the oak-lined splendour of the WB Yeats room.

The meal was rather less staid than the surroundings, consisting of a selection of painfully punning nibbles on the piranha theme. The Piranha Balls caused much merriment, I can tell you. The Piranha Cocktail, which turned out to be Black Velvet, was much more palatable. But I’m talking about alcohol again.

Suddenly a charming lady named Mandy sidled up to me, and offered me something very special if I’d only let her digitise me! What she meant was that Strike Force Cobra, one of the first Piranha releases, is to feature photos of the team members, and it was up to us mega-butch journos to portray those micro-chip marvels.

There were eight of us who had our piccies snapped and no, I won’t tell you which one of the Cobra Force I am, except to say that the grease paint moustache and eye make up (eye make up!) didn’t wash off quite as easily as Mandy had suggested, and I was followed round the PC User business show all that afternoon by somebody called Bruce.

Back to my payment for suffering this indignity. Did I get a Barret’s Sinus Clearing Sherbert Fountain? No! I got a fluffy toy piranha. The company had fifty of these specially made, and extremely cute they are. I’ve called mine Alan after the biggest piranha I know.
Hunger S Minson