There were six of us: Heidi adelheid) and her friend Dan, Sara and her friend Andrew, Jerry and me. Dan and Andrew have yet to join ZZ9 -- we trust that the necessary pressure is being applied.
We found each other on the main concourse in the usual way. Heidi had received word from Ian (redbrown) that Jerry would be a half-hour late (railway engineering), so we waited until half-one for him to arrive.
We toddled up the road to a nearby Weatherspoons for beer and food.
I said "Black Sheep?" and earnt three yesses. I turned to Sara and Andrew and said "Black Sheep?". Heidi said sternly to me "You're not going to try and corrupt our younger members." Younger members? Sheesh. So four black sheep and two cokes. Fish, sausages, vegeburgers. Chips.
There's a river which runs through the centre of the city, and Heidi conducted us to Granary Wharf, where it runs under the railway, and the path runs under the arches and over the water -- there are some extraordinary rapids immediately beneath us. I took photos, but the lighting was very poor, and I don't know if they'll come out until I get back home and can download them from the camera. These "dark arches" are not as dark as they were, by all accounts -- they used to be populated by dark, sinister and fascinating shops run by dark, sinister and fascinating people, but now it's brightly lit, the rents have gone up, and there's only a few shops here. We saw a shop with bizarre clothing, a shop selling goth tat, and a shop selling sheet music ("closing down sale due to retirement").
There's an old corn exchange, which is now full of small shops. There was a huge crowd of goths outside, we wondered why. We pressed through the throng and wandered round the shops. Heidi and dan went in one direction, Sara and Andrew in another, and so Jerry and I wandered from shop to shop doing the "look at that" act. I found a couple of T-shirts, one of which will be of interest to some of you -- I'll wear it at DrunCon and try and get it photographed. I bought a book of illustrations by R Crumb, and I found the perfect present for daemongirl.
Heidi conducted us to a covered market, quite a large one, the name of which escapes me. Again, we split up into the three natural pairs (teenagers, twentysomethings, dirty old men) and wandered around the market. Jerry and I found two bookstalls -- one was all boarded up, the other was just closing. We resisted buying meat, spices, sweets, towels.
We stood around for a while outside the market until the group reassembled itself, and then we hummed and haaed and wondered what to do. Sara and Andrew made their excuses and left.
and the four of us decided to head for a cinema and see what there was to see. We looked at what was on offer, and decided on the Matrix sequel, and started to queue for tickets, but while we were still in the queue, the screen above the box office flipped over to "FULL" and we had to abandon the idea.
Instead, we went to Borders, a large retail bookshop which was still open. I'm afraid I bought a couple of books, I couldn't help myself. There was a bizarre pronouncement from Jerry, which I've quoted in the ZZ9 meetings book and won't reproduce here. And a little later, Jerry pointed at another customer and whispered in my ear "That T-shirt is black-on-black!" I went and looked. It was. I said to this unsuspecting fellow that we produce a black-on-black T-shirt, the Douglas Adams Memorial T-shirt. He said "Ah, a fine writer", and so I peeled back my jacket and let him read my shirt: "The vogons destroyed my planet and all I managed to salvage was this lousy T-shirt", and a conversation about ZZ9 ensued. I introduced myself as ZZ9 publicity, I introduced Heidi as ZZ9 membership. And he took a note of the URL, http://www.zz9.org. And then we disappeared upstairs for coffee.
I was left in charge of the bags while the others went to sort out coffees. I took out the PDA and started typing up some of the above, and when they returned, the ridicule started. "Are you going on-line again?" asked Heidi. "I'm not online," I insisted, "I'm just typing". But it wasn't sufficient. They were reading over my shoulder when the unit warbled and a pop-up window appeared "you have 36 new emails". There were photos. They stood around me in a circle and pointed at me. They laughed. Ah well.
And then we wandered back to the station to put Jerry on the train. Because of the kids, we'd spent the afternoon shopping instead of drinking. To crash at Heidi's parents' house as planned didn't make much sense, so I got back in the car and headed off.
And that was the Leeds Slouch.
Paging hddod -- please nick this and edit as necessary for the next MH.