The Late Summer Radish in Leeds was a modest gathering by the recent standards of h2g2 meets, but a fine time was had by the relatively small number of us who were there. It had been organised very hastily because everyone had enjoyed themselves so much at the previous northern English meet, the Spring Onion in Manchester. That had taken place only three weeks earlier, but we all wanted to say 'goodbye' to Bagpuss, who was quitting Britain for a new life in Canada. 25 August was the last Saturday when he'd be available, so 25 August it was for the Radish.
The short notice reduced the number of Researchers who could make it, but a couple put in impressive efforts to get there. Wumbeevil came down all the way from Glasgow, and h2g2's President Peregrin made a long journey in the opposite direction from Southampton. They were joined by 2Legs, Tinkerbell, Bagpuss, Cakewalker, myself, and the organiser of the event, Amy The Ant.
Amy Pawloski unsurprisingly couldn't make it all the way from California, but she faxed over a self-portrait, which was ceremonially placed in its own chair whenever the Radishing Crew were in a pub. Two traditions seem to have been established for h2g2's northern England meets: they are always named after vegetables, and someone who can't be there is always represented by a drawing. At the Spring Onion, we'd had a drawing of Mark Moxon.
Early afternoon travellers passing the tables outside the Wetherspoons pub at Leeds Station must have been puzzled to see a hand-drawn paper sign bearing the single word 'RADISH' on display. When they got closer, they might have noticed a number of real radishes scattered on the table surrounded by h2g2 Researchers. Doubtless they would then have hurried on and hoped that these odd people weren't dangerous.
Two or three drinks later, a taxi and Tinkerbell's car transported us up to the 'Roundhay Fox' pub alongside Roundhay Park for another pint or two of inspiration. It was then, in late afternoon, that Amy the Ant managed a remarkable feat: she persuaded a group of h2g2 Researchers to leave a pub. It was time for the centrepiece of our day: a visit to the Tropical World mini-zoo at the edge of the park.
And Tropical World is really something. An amazing array of wildlife - monkeys, lizards, snakes, exotic fish, parrots, butterflies and more - are to be found amid some amazing indoor scenery, with trees, vines and indoor lakes and mini-waterfalls. Some of the animals are kept in small glass-fronted cases, which seems a little sad in some cases and necessary in others (the snakes and the tarantula, for instance). But the parrots and butterflies fly around freely in the small yet spectacular indoor jungle, where you have to keep avoiding hanging vines and giant leaves. Never would I have imagined that such scenery and such creatures could be seen so near to inner-city Leeds.
'Tropical World' is, as you might expect, heated to tropical temperatures. So we were well and truly ready for more drinks by the time we got out, and hurried straight back to the 'Roundhay Fox'. 2Legs was so keen to get back to the boozer that he jumped down a small flight of steps en route. He injured his ankle on landing, and was sadly forced to drink lots of beer later in order to numb the pain.
After more beer, dinner and still more beer, it was time for the quiz, set by Bagpuss with a section of questions designed to test how closely we'd been paying attention to the new Entries listed on the h2g2 front page that week. There were three teams of two, and it was myself and Wumbeevil who emerged triumphant. Somewhere, there exists a picture of me doing a drunken lap of honour around our pub table brandishing our lavish prizes, namely two BBC marker pens from the desk of Mark Moxon. The book donated by Abi was presented to Bagpuss as a leaving present and a 'thank you' for setting the quiz.
All too soon, it was time for Cakewalker and I to accept Tinkerbell's kind offer of a lift to the station to catch our last trains home. We left in such a hurry that I never said a proper 'goodbye' to Bagpuss - so if you read this, Baggy, good luck in your new life.
Finally, I must mention one thing that both amazed and impressed me. I now know for sure that there is one Researcher on h2g2 with a greater capacity for strong drink that myself. I soon stopped trying to match Wumbeevil pint for pint, but I still had a hell of a hangover the next day. Rumour has it that, back at Amy's Ant's Nest, Wumbeevil ended up crashed out in a chair, too well anaesthesised to notice when he banged his head on the wall and got his feet tangled in a potted plant.
Amy the Ant's thoughts on this have not yet been recorded. But they may well be, when she gives us The Radish Part 2...
(Note: We're hoping that Amy the Ant will be be fit to write Part 2 of this report in time for next week's Post. Sadly, she's in hospital for an operation this week. Get well messages and virtual gifts will be welcomed at Amy's Personal Space.)