Well it's (or rather was) my World of Warcraft guild, which I won't name for reasons of privacy (and Google, natch).
So what's a damn guild then, and why does it matter that you've left? In a world full of dead Jade Goodys why should I spend my time reading about a game I neither know nor care about?
Well I can tell you, because the answer is simple humanity. Human community. The company of others through the medium of type. Typing to people you will never ever meet, yet still strangely care about.
Well it should. Because you're in a sort of guild yourself, whether you like it or not - the guild of Naked Blog readers. Except this one isn't 24/7.
Oh - it's available 24/7, but except for my posts and the occasional but much-loved comment like all blogs it's totally inactive. Whereas a guild is always there, always on. Since December there's been only one occasion, exactly one, where I logged on to Warcraft and no-one was there in the guild list. I was alone. And that's now where I am again.
At the rising of the dawn they were there for you. At the going down of the sun they were there for you. If you logged on about 6 or 7 am you would meet the nightshift stumbling to bed after a night of slaying cartoons, while the dayshift staggered groggily to their keyboards to start their daily fix. Start at 6 and be buzzing by 11 I discovered. It's so addictive, they say.
AYE FOND KISS
So there they are, gone now. A, the single mum of two, bossing everybody about and foot-stomping when things didn't go her way. L, the cyber-trannie, a man running a female character. (Most of the female toons are really men, they say. Take a walk on the toon side.) B, the trainee mechanic, very friendly, who I took a more than fatherly interest in. D, my own the father figure and mentor, who kindly lent me a small fortune in game money for my first horse. T, the guild master, who also had her husband, son and nephew in the guild. (The family which plays together, stays together.) All of them my new family. Since December. The ones I spent my entire ten day holiday with. The ones I truly didn't abandon you for, I'm now so glad to say.
Sounds quite nice, once you allow for terminal sadness and geekiness. So por qua did you leave? Bust up? You being stroppy and demanding as usual?
Well no, not really. I understand that in any community you have to take the bad with the good. You won't ever find any group of people one hundred percent to your liking. Nor even one person, if you think about it. Good and bad. Ups and downs. Give and take. Yin and yang.
But it's when the bad starts to outweigh the good, and the truth sinks in that the community is causing you more grief than pleasure, that after much delay and consideration you have to grasp the bull by the horns firmly and pull the plug. This causes a storm in a teacup, and then of course you're rapidly forgotten. I'm sixty two, ffs. No illusions about my importance in the scheme of things. Any scheme of things.
So are you giving up World of Warcraft, Peter?
Hell no! I'm looking for another guild. Anybody want a level 60 warrior and 65 deathknight?
IN OTHER, NON-WARCRAFT NEWS
Last Sunday's Pentland walk was a genuine pleasure. Stewart's friend, a lady in her fifties, was delightful. And her being a bit of a beginner meant that for old lags like me the walk was non-strenuous to the nth degree. In fact I even got in a bit of "showing off" at the beginning, where I ran up the hill ahead of them both. (It's no wonder I have no friends!) Well, everybody does it...
I've been back twice since then, most recently yesterday. Fitness will return. It always does.
The Flot was quite funny yesterday. A funeral party was bigging it up in the function room, all black ties and pints of lager. (It really irritates me when people refer to these parties as a wake. A wake is something quite different, and takes place before the funeral.) But then lots of things really irritate me.
Sixty people were there, Scott the bar manager told me. "Sixty!" I cried. "I'd be lucky to muster six!" Then a party of handicapped adults came in. Severe learning difficulties some people call it. Mongoes, some others say. (Unkind term, do not use.) I envisioned some sort of post mortal clash breaking out between the two factions, but the Flot is too classy a place for that. Really I have no time for trashy pubs these days. Misspent youth. And middle age. Now I'd rather misspend my time in Azeroth and Outland. Cheaper!
Right, that's yer lot. I've got an hour before work to run about in Warcraft. Alone there now, as I am everywhere else. Sigh. But it's not so bad. Beats people and their annoying ways.
And hi! Howya doin? It was four in the morning about an hour ago, and now it's just about five. At nine I'm due at Stewart's and after that we're tackling some Pentlands. Just a few, like the old men we nowadays are. A lady friend of Stew's will be there whom I haven't met, yet strangely I'm not feeling terrified.
This is progress. As is me not logging onto Warcraft since Thursday. That's right. Clean for two whole days and it feels good. In fact Thursday was the first social day of the year, when Stewart and I had a couple of pints in George Street Wetherspoons. He really is a treasure. This is how it happened...
I was walking along the banks of St Margaret's Loch in Holyrood Park. The sun was high, geese, ducks and Mute Swans were cackling away, when my phone ding dinged in my pocket. The phone I haven't dared answer for two months. "It's now or never, kid," I thought and reached in and nervously pulled it out. Thirteen new messages. Eight missed calls. One voice call. I noticed a grassy bank, remembered you're allowed to sit on grass, so sat and read my texts. Oh - most of them were from Vodafone and Phones4U wanting to sell me stuff, but a handful were from dear dear friends. Thank you. True friends are those who don't mind if you go away for a while, those who don't demand continuity.
There's friendship of a sort on Warcraft also. Oh yes, it's very sociable. Typed sociable. You get to know in type people you'll never ever meet. Bit like this, really, except they're much more sparse with the personal info. As am I. But again that's part of the fun... double identities. Oh, I've got them all mapped on to some of you! I especially have a new zed and a new mike. Quite awesome. (But they'll never really replace the originals. Don't worry sweeties.)
Looking back now I can see Thursday was a bit of a watershed in more ways than one. I'd wowed (World of Warcrafted) fromm about seven in the morning till early afternoon, then it really was so sunny that "should go out" overcame "want to stay in" and out we went. To the Regent, for a couple of lagers with PJ and a big beardie kiss from Alan the owner. He really is a treasure. And then... Arthur's Seat. Get back to where you once belonged.
Strange it was, moving again after all this time. Did I mention my recent holiday? That's right. Ten days of total Warcraft immersion. Five, six, seven in the mornings till falling asleep at night. Why? Because it was there. And because I've done something similar much earlier in the internet, in IRC, when the typing was dirty and the pictures you made up in your mind. But I did huge immersions then also... whole holidays sat on my arse typing. I know it well. You meet the strangest people. And the nicest. And you can be whomever you want. Several people a day if you want. But now I don't lie. I just don't answer some of the questions. Oh, I changed my job very very slightly, because people have a whole bunch of conceptions of bingo, most of them wrong. Oh also, I became heterosexual. But that isn't such a lie really, as it's been close to two decades since I've been any sort of sexual. So one celibacy isn't that much different from another, if you get my drift sorta. I actually hate sex - the very thought is repellent to be honest. Strange, when you consider the amount I packed in. But I digress.
Climbing Arthur was funny. Hurting a bit, despite the lager and jammy scone I'd bought in the Regent. "You must climb the hill," I kept saying. "Just climb the fecking hill. Put one foot in front of the other. You must climb the hill. Your entire future depends on climbing this hill, on this day, in this time. Climb the hill. After you climb the hill you can Warcraft all you want. But you must climb the hill."
So I climbed the hill, and it was good. Sweet memories of when I had hair, and used to get myself photoed and later post the piccies here for ya. Proud. Happy days, glory blogdays. We'll get them back. We have built too much, travelled too far together to throw it away to a mess of cartoons.
"MSPs are queueing up to be on my show," Stew said later, in the pub. He's back on the radio. Thursday mornings. Catch his show on the interweb. He really is quite splendid. (MSP means Member of the Scottish Parliament.) Scotland is governed just twenty minutes walk from my home. That's right. There's more to Edinburgh than tramworks, although you wouldn't think it, looking at the state of Princes Street these days. Ruined. A city brought to its knees by the malevolent vainglorious ineptitude of our elected representatives. And yet nothing can be done. They are accountable to no-one, and their idiocies go unpunished.
Well, my six o clock alarm has newly rung, and it's time to get ready for the Pentlands today. Three of us. Let's hope three's not none.
It's been lovely writing to you again... such a change from the lmao and lol of warcraft correspondence. Some people put lol and the end of every line... as automatic and thus meaningless as the x at the end of a text. Or the yours sincerely at the end of an old fashioned letter.
But writing is truly over, and now we live in the YouTube generation. Or just Tube, as they call it. Usually my recommendations here are ahead of the game... think Franz Ferdinand, Russell Brand, and so many others too numerous to mention. But today I'm going to point you to a Tube from two or three years ago, which you quite possibly have already seen. It's Gary Brolsma miming to Numa Numa, and it's had over twenty seven million views. One minute 38 seconds of material, and Gary is more famous than Stewart could every dream of. Or even me - and I've been on the telly twice. One minute 38 seconds of material and he's appeared in both Simpsons and South Park. One minute 38 seconds of material, and what do you do with the rest of your life?
Tomorrow, or more realistically next time... more of the Numa Numa phenomenon. It's actually far bigger than Amarillo.
Must rush, darlings... the hills are alive and the Lidl Weather Station is set to sun!