Just so you know, this blog entry might equally well have been entitled "Put Your Chocolate On My Cream Mountain". Or "Taste the Blood of Doctor Acula".
The Black Library's Expedition to Games Day Italy was marked by an unusually large number of actual rotfl moments, all born out of idle conversations that are now impossible to forensically reconstruct. I could spend some time explaining that "Put Your Chocolate On My Cream Mountain" was something Mr Nicholas Kyme requested, straight-faced, of the over-decorative dessert chef at the restaurant we frequented in Modena, one of those things you say before you've entirely thought it through. That, however, doesn't adequately explain why it reduced our entire table to helpless laughter. Helpless, weeping, fist-banging laughter.
We'll get the grande thing later.
In the company of Mr Kyme, and Mal Green (aka "Malbert", "Malbatross" etc), I headed for Modena, where we were joined by our very fine hosts from GW Italy, and our conversational co-conspirators from Forge World and the Studio, including Ead Brown, Tris Buckroyd, Jes Goodwin, Christina Burton, Alan Merrett, Joe Tomaszewski and Andrea Wright. In the days that followed, a number of conversations took place that, as Ead put it, caused us to go to bed with 'laughter headaches'. This is no bad thing, although It Was Really Funny But You Had To Be There stories do not a good blog make.
I can tell you that Games Day Italy was a roaring success, that we were made to feel very welcome, that the Italian staffers and the fans were incredibly friendly and enthusiastic, and that Modena is a beautiful town. I can also tell you that "grande" is Italian for large, and "latte" is Italian for milk. These things are useful to know.
I can also tell you that the mid-sized items of luggage that some passengers insist on bringing aboard as carry on, because the flight's 'only two hours long' and they can't be arsed to check them through baggage, despite the fact that said luggage will occupy ALL available locker space and caused untold invoncenience during disembarkation, will henceforth be known as "carry on douchebags". This is a blanket term for both the luggage and the owners thereof, and is named after the imaginary Carry On film of the same title. I can also tell you that at Bologna airport, we went down a ramp to board our flight home and were confronted, twenty feet away, by a plane. We knew it couldn't be ours, because there was a bus between it and us, a bus we were required to get on. Our plane is waiting at another stand, we decided. We got on the bus. It started up, drove around the plane in a tight circle, and stopped again as far away from the boarding steps as we had been from the nosecone in the first place.
I can't, on the other hand, tell you why our "League of Master Supervillains" (a work in progress), caused quite so much hilarity, though I can mention it includes The Menguin, The Crouton (aka, mild-mannered Bob Gently), The Pixilator, The Manchovie, Subliminal, plain old Liminal, and Mr Acula (he'd been struck off). And probably The Procrastinator.
So to Fair Modena, where we lay our scene.
Pretty isn't it? I took a LOT of photographs of the streets and general civic loveliness, but I'll spare you the holiday snaps because a) you get the idea, and b) it's clearly a hard life, jetting off to handsome locations like Modena to 'work', and I want us to still be friends by the end of the blog.
There were fine things to see, such as this famous statue depicting St Francis Lamenting The Loss Of His Smartphone In The Pond.
We also discovered that the chief local delicacy was not, as one might expect, pasta. It turned out to be the wrap.
Suffice to say, it was a very nice place to wander around. I recommend it, and its cathedral and museums, very highly indeed. There were an inordinate number of pipe shops too. Pipes for smoking, that is. And lingerie shops. Man, can you buy a lot of good lingerie and pipes in Modena. We never saw anybody smoking a pipe but, to be fair, we never saw anybody wearing lingerie either. I think the long Italian lunchtimes, where the only things to be seen on the streets are English idiots wandering around in search of beverages, must be a great deal more louche and exotic than we first imagined. Fancy a shag? Si, but let's have the sex first.
One place we were determined to find was the Modena branch of GW, except that Mal had forgotten to write down the exact street address. After some aimless wandering and several abortive plans ("Let's find a news stand and look up the address in an Italian copy of White Dwarf!", "Let's go into the computer shop and look up "GW Modena" on the interweb while we pretend to explore the display models!"), I came up with the blisteringly great idea of ringing Nik back home in Maidstone and asking her to google the address. As a result, shortly thereafter, we saw this:
And Andrea and his customers were delighted to see us.
It was in a street nearby that the grande thing happened. We're well aware that in Italy you don't drink hot milk after noon, and that coffee comes AFTER food, but - heck, we're English and its hard to quit our barbarian habits. Late in the afternoon, we sit down at a cafe, and Mr Kyme orders a "latte grande", just like, you know, in Starbucks. It's what he wanted, okay? He maintained his desire for it all through the waiter's increasingly panicked interrogation. There, in a nutshell, is the falsehood of marketing. Starbucks use the words in an attempt to convince us we're ordering something exotic and cosmopolitan. Chic, if you will. Starbucks can bollocks. Nick got a glass of hot milk. Not only that, but it was a large one, as he had specified. He insisted it was quite nice. We insisted he might like a lovely nap after his milky drink. We also took the piss relentlessly for the Whole Rest Of The Weekend. You play the hand fate deals you.
The show itself was in a terrific modern venue built to hold the AGMs for Ferrari. Seriously. Modena is slap bang in the middle of thoroughbred Italian sports car country. Exhibition space surrounded a main auditorium where the talks and readings were to be held. Not intimidating at all, then.
We had, of course, brought stock. English language stock, which was both brave and slightly passive aggressively jingoistic of us.
Still, who could resist piping hot Prospero Burns's fresh out of the book bakery?
The local carabinieri had, by that stage, circulated images of the usual suspects. This was due, we believe, to an incident of Da Vinci Code-esque mystery and adventure which had taken place the previous day during our wanderings. Mal, Nick and I had inadvertently strayed into a private, sacred and downright prohibited part of the cathedral during out touristy ramblings. A clerical official appeared and repeatedly hissed the word "Scusi!" at us. Scusi is, of course, an Italian word meaning "Absent yourselves from the bishop's bedroom immediately". We had already discovered that the custodians of the Duomo guarded their secrets jealously. A sign at the main door read "Please do not take photographs inside this building or you will be invited to get out". I love that. "Invited to get out". It's on a par with "Encouraged to die" or "Coaxed to burn".
A number of additional crimes were duly taken into account.
Then Nick and I faced our audience. I told you the auditorium wasn't intimidating. No sir, not one bit.
A roaring trade in signed books then followed. Here we see Mal, slightly stunned at the amount of business he is doing. In all fairness, he had drunk so many espressos by then, he was vibrating like a humming bird and could see through time.
I noticed this banner, one of the many brought to the show. From my perspective, it covered a number of interests close to my heart.
I also can't end this post without letting you glimpse the wonder of the Eldar craftworld constructed by one of the Italian clubs. I am trying to find out what the Italian for awesome sauce is.
I'd like to thank everyone who came to see us there, people like this happy band of GW enthusiasts. I would also like to thank the GW Italy crew: Elmes, Mauro, Gerry, Antonio, Andrea, Manuela and all the others who gave up their weekend and put in the hard work to make the third Italian Games Day a roaring success.
See you next time and, as they don't say in Italy, but do say wherever large milky drinks are politely requested, ding dang do!