RISC World

RISCOS SouthWest Show

Aaron's action packed show report live from the day of the show at the Webbington Hotel...

Those of you who remember my show report from last year will recall that on the morning of the show everything was covered in snow, well this year it was different. On the morning before the show Bracknell was covered in snow. While the rest of the country had been freezing we had been quite nice and warm thank you, however the fiendish British weather must have noticed that we had got away with it so far and decided to dump all the remaining snow on us. Luckily by lunchtime the roads were clearing, although the snow was still falling. So would it be safe to venture down the motorway? Well I had just had four new tyres fitted to the Shogun to replace the Goodyear racing slicks that had just scraped through an MOT. Plus, of course, if I didn't go I would still have to pay for the hotel room, and the it's too much. I will have to go.


So off I went, and within 10 miles the snow had stopped and there wasn't a trace of it on the ground, the roads were dry and the sun was shining. I carried on down the M4 only getting slightly delayed by a gritting lorry. Presumably the road was being gritted now because there was no chance of all the high quality grit being washed away by any snow. So just over two hours later I pulled into the Webbington Hotel and immediately parked round the back in the loading bay, which was suspiciously empty. Where was everyone? The tables were arranged but of exhibitors there was no sign. I checked in. "Yes Mr Holden has already checked in." And then gone to bed I assume. I found my room, which was number 2, which my tiny little mind found rather amusing. Even more amusing, Dave Holden was number 1.

Having had time to be organised this year I had bought my floor plan so I knew where my stand was. But wait? What's this crappy old wobbly table doing here? I deftly swapped it for one on someone else's stand. Having all but set up Dave Holden finally appeared sans floorplan. Well he's always next to me, since we both know what the other sells we can cover each others stands when one of us needs to get a coffee. So Dave sets up APDL next to me. Just as he finishes John Stonier the show organiser appears. "Dave your stand is over there! What are you doing here?" I hide behind a pillar whilst it's sorted out. Dave wins by playing the "Well I've set up now" card and keeps his stand. I now come out from hiding and watch as all the other tables are re-arranged to sort out my mistake. Oh look, the bar's open.

Over the course of the evening a number of exhibitors arrive and set up. An interesting rumour starts, apparently "someone from the health and safety people will be coming round to see if any second hand computers being sold have a valid test certificate". I'm not convinced. Dave Holden isn't convinced. In the end after a long discussion nobody is convinced. After all who could possibly benefit from there being no secondhand computers on sale? Of course I'm not selling any second hand computers but that doesn't stop me getting my 25 quids worth in. Finally the noise in the bar gets too much and I head for bed.

Luckily this year my room is at the end of a corridor and I don't get woken by any ARM Club drunks during the night. Next morning dawns clear but cold, just like the tea I have tried to make, yes the kettle doesn't work. Luckily the shower is also a matching accessory and offers a fine choice of cold water. I have a bath and head for breakfast. Ah that's better, it's self service, I cram a plate full of sausage, egg, bacon, sausage, bacon, mushroom, egg and sausage and sit down opposite Paul Beverley. We discover that we both drink Earl Grey tea, I protect my teapot like a crouching tiger, but no, he has to go and finish setting up. I return to the self service breakfast, my tea safe, I can see the worried faces, will I leave any food for anyone else?

I check out of my room, "Did you have the prawn salad last night?" Yes, surely you don't want it back? No, it's just they mixed up all the dinner bills and tried to charge Dave Holden for everything. I thank the receptionist for her attempt to lower my bill and head into the show. I set up the laptop and arrange the stock and then have half an hour to wander around before the customers are allowed in. At this point I discover that there seem to be customers in already. "Those are just helpers", well they seem to be helping themselves to the prime stuff from the charity stall, oh well.

By 10 o'clock I have another "Is the show open yet?" moment. "Yes", says a passing customer, and he was right as within minutes I am inundated and have a very busy morning. Annoyingly I miss the first talk from Castle Technology, called Castle Matters. "Oh look they've missed out the doesn't" quips an unnamed exhibitor. It's such a good gag I recycle it myself later. I collar a keen looking customer as he leaves the lecture theatre, was the Castle talk interesting? "No". Before I can get an expanded answer he wanders off. Oh well thanks for your help sir, I was only trying to get information for a show report. Now I'll have to wait for the report on Drobe to find out what happened.

Peter Naulls

At this point I would normally go through the automatically generated show text, something along the lines of "<name of exhibitor> had a crowded stand and was demonstrating the latest version of <name of product> to excited customers". However I can't be bothered. So instead here are some pictures.

RComp busily selling the latest upgrade or something

CJE sink

You'd like to buy an Iyonix sir?

It's Geminus Jim.

The most interesting new item on display was the latest version of TechWriter from Icon Technology which did look quite funky with it's new macro scripting language. APDL have now started bundling sets of Fourth Dimension games together and have a flight simulators CD. Whilst Dave is away getting a coffee I swipe a copy, install it on my laptop and just manage to get the CD back in the rack before he returns.

After the busy morning the afternoon is very quiet, I get a brief flurry of orders just after Paul Middleton has finished his talk and then it goes a bit quiet again. By four o'clock it's getting very quiet, and rather like a recent poll on the Iconbar there seem to be as many exhibitors as customers, I decide to pack up. The benefits of travelling light show themselves again as before most people have started packing up I have loaded up and have got back to the bar for a shandy before going home. As usual I get one final order after I have packed up, but it's OK as it's Chris Evans, so I return to the Shogun and grab the stuff he wants.

Then I make a couple of phone calls and start heading home. Was it a good show? Yes it certainly was and was well worth attending. It was slow in the afternoon, but quite manic in the morning and I have a nice pile of credit card slips to process. I finally get home about half past seven just in time to be told everyone is going to the pub. I suffer a crisis. Do I go to the pub? Or do I process all the credit card orders, add the customers to the database and then issue any unlock code requests? I decide to do the latter and having done that decide that I ought to write a show report whilst it's still fresh in my memory. The time is now 10:40 in the evening, good night.