Portsmouth Were and Fur Meet II, 28-31 May 1999
PORTSMOUTH MEET II
After a few problems with accommodation, we finally managed to organise a second Portsmouth meet, albeit for a smaller number of people than was originally planned and that came to the first Portsmouth meet back in February. It was a bit hit-and-miss until the last minute as to who exactly would be coming, at what times, and where they would all be staying, and so no specific activities were planned other than a trip to Hastings on the Saturday.
The weather behaved itself, only raining on one occasion over the whole of the four days, which made a change to the storms that some experienced over the previous couple of days.
But anyway, this is how it went:
In anticipation (!!) I arrive at Fratton Railway Station to be met by a (rather a relived that somebody turned up, I have to say) looking Chikki at 4 p.m. only to find that none of the other expected arrivals had yet made it. Ragtag had phoned to say he would be late picking Sci up from London, and Stormrider had obviously too been delayed.
So I went back to Chikkis house, just down the road from the station, to be met by a mountain of Tiger plushies and posters all around his 6 by 6 bedroom, which even the most serious Fur couldnt resist picking up and cuddling. While we awaited some more people, Chikki showed me his Play Station, in particular, a game called Tai Fu in which the main character is an anthropomorphic tiger. Back to Fratton station to collect Solulo and Lunariia, who had been at school all day, before a return to the Tai Fu and the plushie cuddling, only this time with four of us instead of two. Lunariia realises that perhaps telling Lomax that one whole level of the game requires killing anthropomorphic leopards by chucking them in a fire isnt too good an idea, while Solulo notes that plushie hugging can get very addictive...
Half past nine, and a swan and a rotweiler turn up in the shape of Stormrider and MegaDog. Still no sign of Ragtag. The game playing and plushie hugging is adjourned, and we wend our way down to a pub just up the road from Fratton station for a little liquid refreshment and quick food (well, far quicker than going for a hunt...). Meanwhile, Lomax finds his way to Chikkis place on cue, and the tiger obliges and goes to pick him up. At this point, it was noted that swans have a remarkable like for vegetation, particularly lettuce, as Stormrider ate his was through about 5 basket-fulls of the stuff, much to the disgust of one particular canine.
Somewhere between 10.30 and 11 p.m. we all stopped for the night, MegaDog and Stormrider scampered off to their lodgings, while the rest of us detour back to Chikkis house to pick up my stuff, before returning to Fratton station, where Solulo, Lunariia and I were to leave for Solulos house back in Fareham where we were all staying. Ragtag had phoned!! In true fashion, he was going to be late - 7 or so hours late. His guesthouse room having been let out to someone else, he, Sci and Torne had to suffer the night in Ragtags car.
Solulo, Lunariia and I awake early, in readiness for a day in Hastings, about 80 miles away from our base in Portsmouth. We get to Chikkis house at around 10.45 to find everyone else, including a rather worn out Ragtag, Torne and Sci, sitting around in readiness for us. Ragtag and Torne stay behind to catch up on much needed sleep, while Chikki does likewise so as to be around for Utlahs arrival at 3 p.m.
After meeting Sarah (a friend of Solulos, and a dragon enthusiast) The rest of us head off in Stormriders Viva - with even more electronic refinements - a Flux Capacitor, swan fog-lamp and karioke machine (just how much of that car is the original?!?!) - and the MegaDogMobile down to Hastings, where a young Dragon and her family were in waiting for us. After a slow journey behind a horse box, some daring overtaking manoeuvres on the drivers behalves, and a rendition of The Lion Sleeps Tonight with two fox puppets in the lead roles, we arrive just in time for lunch in Polenths house, together with dad, mum and brother, all of which seemed to be in a similar frame of mind as Polenth herself.
At that point, the My Little Pony collection was brought out - or rather, it was so big that we had to go up to Polenths two rooms to see it. There, a whole hoard of brightly-coloured horses awaited us, just as we had been promised. MegaDog became addicted to a talking dragon, while Sarah found the Furby...and Die, Die, Die became a suitable phrase for the next 15 minutes...
A walk was called for, and in the basking hot weather, the eight of us set out for the nearby marshland and woods. With discussion ranging from the practicalities of a Hearts Dream type project to MegaDogs latest computer antics at work, we were certainly kept amused for the duration. Coke and water provided on return, we sat around for a bit longer in Polenths house before having to return.
On arrival at the same pub as of the previous night, we met up again with Chikki, together with Utlah, who was trying desperately hard to wolf down a burger so that we could all go inside for more drinks and food. Stormrider managed to keep his lettuce addiction up for another night, only this time eating more of the stuff.
After being fed and watered, everyone paraded down to the beach, meeting up with Ragtag and Torne on the way, both of whom were in a rather playful mood. MTBer had phoned to say he wouldnt be arriving until after midnight due to the effect on the trains of storms the night before, so we had a couple of hours to spare. This was spent lying flat on our backs on Southsea beach gazing up at the starts and the full moon. Flat, that is, apart from Ragtag and Torne (wearing a rather suspicious Property of Ragtag collar tag, with a padlock to which only the latter had the key...), who decided that they could make better use of their time by running round and round the rest of us playing some strange cat-and-wolf game.
Solulo, Lunariia and I left for home at about 11 p.m., the others following shortly afterwards.
A slightly later start to the day. After I had been introduced to the virtues of anime by Solulo, Lunariia and Sarah, everyone else turned up at Solulos house (minus Ragtag, who was by now proving to be consistent at least...) at 11 a.m. ready to go out for a picnic. A stop at the local supermarket ensured we all had plenty to eat, including 3 jars of Nutella, 4 tubes of Jaffa Cakes and 30 jam doughnuts, while Tornes dog collar and padlock were by now acquiring several strange looks from passers by.
We then wended our way down to the picnic site - a clearing in amongst a small area of vegetation which Chikki and Solulo had found the previous week, and which meant we could eat undisturbed, with only the noise of the traffic on the nearby motorway to put us off. Torne decided to experiment with cramming a whole block of cheese into a scooped-out baguette, while Stormrider went more for the vegetation again...
At this point, Stormrider finally decided it was time to bring out the photos that Utlah had taken of him in his racoon fursuit in the car park of Sheffield station a few weeks before. Though a little fuzzy in parts (although what do you expect from a fursuit?!), the pictures seemed to go down quite well with everybody. However, Utlah had made up his mind that he was not going to now be seen in any photograph with Stormrider...
Sci spotted a tree growing out over the cliff just in front of where we were sitting, and decided that foxes were meant to climb trees after all...but the felines gave this one a miss, as it looked a bit on the difficult side! Meanwhile, Lomax was gradually being seduced into unconsciousness by some rather nifty scritching from Chikki (Im told he does do it rather well...) and shortly after that, Lunariia and Sci joined in the mini- Furpile that ensued. While Torne may not be exactly the property of Ragtag, he certainly can act like him, and spent about 15 minutes in lupine joviality with Solulo, while she and Sarah were trying to see just what two foxy glove puppets could do.
Picnic over, and with everyone refreshed, replenished, Lomax awakened and Torne calmed down, we set off back to Solulos house. There, her parents didnt seem to mind one bit that their lounge was invaded with a group of a dozen strange animal people, although with the door closed, I dont think they quite realised exactly what was about to happen.
Solulos rats provided entertainment for the next half an hour, as they were let loose over the lounge floor and had a chance to sniff all of us out. While we tried to tempt them with large helpings of Nutella, they had a hard time deciding whether to go for that, or Lomaxs legs. In the end, they got thoroughly addicted to out Nutella, though this could have almost been predictable...
Stormrider disappeared, and came back with a pair of racoon ears, made from soup spoons with a fur coating, and a racoon mask. These promptly got distributed around, and most people had a chance to try them on, including Utlah despite certain bad memories with that fursuit from a couple of weeks back. They perhaps suited Solulo the best, though, who looked as if racoon ears were the one thing shed been missing for 17 years. Stormrider disappeared again, and came back in full costume, just as wed seen in the pictures over lunch. While the tail was offset horizontally by about 6 inches, and various vital seams were yet to be sewn up, it looked pretty impressive when combined with the mask and ears.
Of course, I had made a promise that at the sign of Stormriders fursuit, I would get my attempts at tail-building out, and put them on. After much persuasion (and I mean much - they had to beg!), I managed to be lulled into doing so, and despite not having any fur and being stuffed with old socks, they seemed to go down quite well. I also donned a wolfs head that MegaDog had somehow acquired, while Utlah decided to get his own back and take a photo of me... Meanwhile, Solulos parents and brother were completely oblivious as to what was going on in their lounge - it was Solulos turn to come under Chikkis scrtiching powers while everyone else was admiring the various bits of fursuits flying around.
We ordered some pizzas for supper that evening, and went down to collect them, having been careful to remove any traces of fursuits. Lomax did get a rather funny look from the man behind the counter as he signed to pay for the pizzas with a fox puppet on his other hand. A short walk up the road to the Fareham Garden of Sensory Reflection, and we sat there to eat, including trying at least to finish up some of the food from lunch time - there were still about 20 doughnuts left! Stormrider had smuggled down his racoon ears, so he promptly donned them as everyone decided to do the Monkey Walk in a circle round the central point of the garden trying to assimilate Utlah and MegaDog, and failing albeit oh so narrowly. I couldnt persuade them to do it digitigrade, though...
It was back down to the pub in the evening - this time to the Cob and Pen which Stormrider had spotted earlier on in the day. Despite its name, it was not, however, swan themed, much to peoples disappointment. Stormrider wore his ears still, and explained them away to the landlord as being his contribution to part of a furry evening! :P The highlight of the evening was Sci walking up to the bar with a fox puppet and asking, Half a pint of Coke and...*whisper, whisper*...a packet of Pork Scratchings for the Fox please. To which the barman replied, Im sorry, but youll have to go outside, we dont serve pets in here! At about 10 p.m. we adjourned from the pub back to Solulos house, and a last-ditch attempt to catch the barmans eye with the Fox puppet, muzzle in the Pork Scratchings, failed.
After hugging and saying goodbye to Stormrider, who was on his way back to Sheffield for an exam, Solulo, Lunariia, Sarah and I left the rest of the group to find their way back to Portsmouth, and, if they were as nackered as us, they would have probably gone to bed nice and early.
Monday was really to be a saying goodbye day, as various Weres and Furs were leaving at all different times throughout the day. So, to pass the time, we went for a walk along the beach at Southsea, since Ragtag, Torne and Sci had to be off around midday. But not after we had tasted the latest culinary delicacy to come out of Furrydom with the compliments of Solulo: blackcurrant jelly with, yes youve guessed it, Nutella, complete with banana milkshake powder sprinkled on top. Utlah tried whole cup of it, and seemed to suffer no long-lasting side effects, so we presume its perfectly safe... Then somebody across the road spotted us having a group photo, leaned up against his window, and took a photo of us himself - whether he wanted to leak it to the press or just inform a friend that Yes, those people who came round here back in February really are weird, we dont know...
Our walk along the beach wasnt just any old walk - after all, were all Furs! :) Chikki had in his possession latex lion and tiger masks which he and Lunariia donned. Solulo and Torne had their collars on, and Torne borrowed my tail, while Sci had his on too. By now, what I had considered a pathetic attempt at a tail had managed to get four other people addicted to having one of their own. And there were those two foxy puppets again of course. Well, you didnt think theyd get me walking along the crowded seafront in a tail, did you?! The plan was supposed to be that Ragtag met up with us along the seafront, but in true fashion, he failed to spot us (How?!?!) and had his mobile turned off.
So instead, we went for a wander, dressed up in our bits of Furry gear (pity Stormrider wasnt still around...) and seeing the sorts of reactions we got from both kids and adults. People stared at us out of their car windows with looks of Has he really got a tail on?, other people pretended not to notice. Numerous kids couldnt tell the difference between the tiger and the lion, and I think at one point, Chikkis lion was referred to as a wolf...
After Ragtag finally managed to phone, and it was revealed he had been waiting miles away for us, we sat town to wait for him to come to us. We had inadvertently come across a group of French children, here on a visit, who were only too fascinated in us... Solulo walked up to them, and in her best French, tried to explain to them Je suis un Loup-Garou, but they didnt seem to understand...instead replying with Err...Je suis Français, je ne comprends pas.
Ragtag eventually joined us, and so we walked all the way down to where his car had been parked. Sadly, he had declined to wear his panther suit. On the way, much more public interaction, and we found some tanks outside the D-Day museum, which Sci immediately seemed to fall in love with. Torne decided he too would climb all over them, but probably more because he wanted to show off the fact he was wearing a tail at the time...
So eventually, we were forced to say our goodbyes to Ragtag, Torne and Sci as they headed off in Ragtags car (complete, as we found out when he drove off, with fully detachable body add-ons...) back to their various destinations. We headed off back to Chikkis place to check on train times for Sarah and Lomax, but not after having bemused the car-park attendant by Chikki asking him directions dressed as a lion...
After a further spell of Jelly and Nutella eating, and Solulo quite literally getting a taste of her own medicine, it was sadly time to go back to Fratton station to bid farewell to Lomax and Sarah, who, combined with Ragtag, Sci and Torne, had all seemed to have enjoyed themselves immensely. Back at Chikkis house, the rest of us met up with Swampy, who had not long beforehand arrived back in Portsmouth after a parallel meet up at Sandroos place in Leamington Spa. With an extra car to paw, he took us all down to Portsmouth seafront, and to a pub there where we sat for a bit.
From there, we all had a rather pleasant (and yes, in out bits of fursuits again) walk along the coastal walls, trying to push Utlah off the edge but instead causing him to act more lupine than usual... We reached a fish and chip shop, where I discovered that Solulos constant fears about the demonic pigeons and their plans for world- domination were in fact becoming true, as one with an obvious diarrhoea problem kindly let me know! :)
For the last time of the meet, we found our way back to Chikkis house, and, wanting to avoid unnecessary conflicts with the photo-takers across the road, the eight of us managed to break the world record by two for the number of people crammed into Chikkis bedroom. After a final scritch, during which Solulo surrendered to the same fate as Lomax on Sunday, it was time to say and hug everybody goodbye. First, Utlah and MegaDog as they drove off, then Swampy, and back at Fratton station I had to leave Chikki, Solulo, Lunariia and MTBer to their own devices as I headed back to Essex, a contented little wolfie.
For a start, everyone enjoyed themselves, and all thanks must go to Chikki for getting it together in the end, and for coping with all the problems on the way to make it so enjoyable and fun. Thanks also to those with transport - Stormrider in his less-than- standard Vauxhall Viva, MegaDog in the MegaDogMobile and Swampy on the Monday.
With nothing specifically planned, and perhaps for future reference, this type of meet seemed to go much better and smoother than one where every minute had to be timed and filled with a designated activity, since it gave us as much time as we wanted for things like Furpiles etc. And the size seemed about right too - not too many people to make everything very impersonal. Just that the meet could have been longer! :)
One final vote of thanks to everybody who came, or did any organisation whatsoever for making the Portsmouth Meet II or Return to Insanity such a success, with a wish that it can be repeated soon.
All text and images Copyright © 1999
by "Lone Wolf" unless otherwise stated