John Walker's Electronic House


Adventure #1: 200 Yards Behind My House

by on Jun.07, 2006, under Photos

One of the more stupid things I ever did was live in the tiny village of Winsley for two years and never explore it properly. It was partly because my social life existed in Bath, so spare time was spent there, and partly because I’m stupid. Before I moved away I decided to walk around the area I’d only given cursory exploration, and discovered a little too late that I lived somewhere exquisitely beautiful.

Since moving into Bath I’ve never taken it for granted. I walk the ten minutes into town most days, and never fail to enjoy the architecture, the peculiar alcoves and stone passageways that mysteriously cut narrow ways through the walls, and the fantastic skyline of spires and steeples against whatever colour the sky may be that day. However, true to form, I have been here two years and entirely ignored whatever may lay behind me.

One of my favourite things to read are Rev Stu’s travel pieces. Obviously he writes extremely engagingly – there’s a reason he’s the man half the games writing industry have made their careers by copying – and in these pieces there’s a far more personal touch, despite the infuriating impersonal pronouns throughout. And like so much of what I do in my life, I find myself lamely copying him, but on a far smaller scale. So here is the first of this week’s three adventures.

Nothing is so intrepid as walking 200 yards behind where you live, so that’s where my journey took me. The thing is, the 200 yards behind me are near-vertical. The hill on which I live begins relatively steeply, but keep going past my flat, around the corner, and it looks more like a wall than a road. I have lamented the incline when visiting the local GP atop its first peak, but on this particular clement evening my plan was to keep on going up until I ran out of up to go on.

The aim was to secure the very best view of Bath imaginable, the collection of gleamingly white and beige buildings sitting conveniently in the bowl of a valley. So with camera out, I tromped up the hill with a vigour in my step, snapping photographs in front and behind.

minus naked children

A streak of tiny pink came rushing toward me from uphill in the form of a seemingly unaccompanied, entirely naked two year old boy. Two thoughts: 1) if this kid is lost and scared, what on earth would I look like helping a naked toddler in the middle of the street. 2) I’m holding a camera and now surely only seconds away from prison. My camera hastily shoved in a pocket to ensure no onlookers mistook me for some manner of documentary paedophile, I was relieved to see an entirely clothed mother come around the corner trying to retrieve her escapee. Awkward smiles were exchanged, the tiny streaker’s broad grin given a friendly hello, and I continued on my way unarrested.

I have no sense of direction. I don’t mean: I have a bad sense of direction, and often make mistakes. I mean: I have no sense of direction, like deaf people have no hearing and dead people have no pulse. I’m not being self-effacing. I’m not exaggerating for comic effect. Look, what’s wrong with you, why can’t you just accept it? I have none. As if the region of the brain responsible for it were entirely missing. When new to Bath I once walked for fifteen minutes in a straight line and finished back where I started. That was scary in the extreme. Although I still suspect the town of some sort of Dark City shenanigans.

I have NO idea what this is

So this means any unaccompanied journey for me is fraught with possibilities. I’ll set off in a direction, not really sure which, and then attempt to remember any landmarks I might walk past in the hope of ever coming home again. Deciding I wanted to make what would be a very short walk a bit longer, I turned right instead of left once as high as I could get, and managed to walk in what would have appeared to onlookers as a calculated and ingenius circle. Unless they were close enough to hear me mumble, “This road just seems to keep going down, and in the wrong direction,” followed by, “I’m going to have to head back soon because this is getting silly,” and then finally, “How the HELL am I HERE again?!”

postmen must want to kill themselves

So that achieved and some exercise performed, I plodded off the other way to get some views.

Bath is endlessly beautiful, and utterly peculiar. Turning corners reveals constant surprises, and the hill behind my house held plenty. There are no patterns to the architecture, other than the presiding rule that only Bathstone may be used, and no red bricks at all. So a road can contain something like this:

what a lot of fires they must have

And then this:

well la de da

Next door to this:

And then you turn right and see this:


However, as nice a place as it may seem, it’s not safe for graffiti MANIACS.


More views were snapped from the vantage point of a seemingly three foot high wall, but of course walls on near-vertical hills don’t stay three foot on both sides, revealing a good twenty foot drop the other side. But it looked pretty.

I can't see my house from here

And then excellently, in my usual fashion, I decided to trudge in a random direction to see where it took me, to find that it took me to exactly where I’d started, only realised when I recognised the same grafitti on a gate. I am dumb. But also lucky. This is where I get to live.

I live one trip and deathly stumble from here

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When Gods Attack

by on May.12, 2006, under Photos

Using the sophisticated 15 second video feature on my seven year old digital camera, and then capturing screens of it in terrible quality, I have proven the existence of long, thin and extremely transient UFOs/angry gods attacking Bath, in what I believe is a traditionally blurry style.

The first signs of attack, as a portal opens above Bath’s Bath.

No more plants
Shortly after the Sun is destroyed, some form of electrical beam burns the ground below.

No one is safe
At this point the main rift in the universe tears open. I’ve captured it in three stages, demonstrating the full force of the attack.

Fry the women and children first!
The rift explosively lets through untold volumes of “danger” into the world.

There is no hope
As it appears to be closing, the full horror is revealed as dozens of other enslaughts begin.

Goodbye cruel world.

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by on Aug.29, 2005, under Photos, Rants

I’d like to make a complaint.

Some complaints. The first being about the Sun. While I recognise that the heat it sends our way is somewhat necessary, and while I do appreciate that the light it offers lets me see stuff, I would still like to object to the way it has rendered my face unable to pull expressions of horrible agony I feel without cracking in half and falling off. I’m used to deliberately hiding from sunshine, aware of its despicable evils, and instinctively covering myself in Factor Building suncream as soon as an Angel-like dash through its beams is unavoidable. Too used to it. So when it snuck up on me, I had quite forgotten how quickly it acts. Helping at Jo’s 180 skate park at Greenbelt, I was sat still on a chair, watching a kid try the same trick (a 180 off a low block) for an hour. It was a fantastic thing to see – someone keep trying the same trick, over and over, getting closer to landing it as he went along, ignoring it when he slipped back, and then finally landing it, and realising that I’d seen and there was someone to share the moment with. Gnarly. All the while, ultra-violet light was secretly setting my face on fire. This morning, returned home a day early to get ready for going to Poland tomorrow, I am sat with a rigid blank expression when my face really wants to be contorted into poses of anguished screams. The only after-sun in the flat seems to make more boasts of its ability to help maintain my tan than stop the raging burning pain. I can’t go outside to find a pharmacist open on the Bank Man’s Holiday, because I would scare the children.

Cheltenham Racecourse, since you asked

I would also like to complain about the wind. While the peoples of New Orleans are making such a big fuss about it getting a bit blowy, no one’s taking any notice of my victimhoood of the dangerous moving air. Again, on the 180 skate park (I keep linking in the hope that people with large amounts of money and decent hearts will read about it and donate enormous sums to the extraordinary project), wearing my staff badge about my neck, the wind whipped up the laminated slither of deadly plastic and jabbed its sharp corner hard into my open right eye. It only stopped weeping twelve hours later.

Ollie doing an ollie

And finally, I would like to complain about the ‘Mexican’ food I ate on Saturday, that decided to leave my body with such ferocity that my entire being prolapsed through my bottom. Thank the good lord that Greenbelt happens to have one block of actual real-life toilets, as well as the ten trillion chemical pots scattered about the fields. I did, I confess, have to use the “disabled only” toilet. I really had no choice – it was “disabled only” or “on the floor in front of everyone”. I feel I made the right decision. Until upon leaving I saw a young kid in an enormously complicated electronic wheelchair waiting outside the building. Actually, no – unless his evacuation was as urgent as mine, I think it’s only polite to give up your exclusive cubicle for someone in so much need. Poo. Poo poo poo, lots more mentioning of poo.

Jumping a big top

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Boston Tea Party, Bristol: Toilet Graffiti

by on Jul.23, 2005, under Photos

Men’s toilet in Boston Tea Party Bristol, second cubicle:

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Gaps In Bath

by on Jul.19, 2005, under Photos

Inspired by Stuart’s recent photographic spree, and then in turn by AK’s spoof, I’ve finally taken some pictures of the thing I walk past every day, and always mean to photograph.

Full size versions here.

I love these steps that disappear up alleyways on Walcot St.

And I love these ones too. There’s one more set to get today.

Then there’s this peculiar alcove that seems to have no reason to exist, but grows the most beautiful weeds.

And finally, there’s my favourite building – this mysteriously shaped and placed… thing, on Margaret’s Hill, just before my road.

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Exeter Holiday

by on Jul.11, 2005, under Photos

I have recently returned from an oh-so splendid holiday, spent in the tropical climes of somewhere between Exeter and Torquay. Yes, I know – I am so cool.

I went with the lovely Jo Dolby to stay in a friend’s… well, we thought it was a cottage. It turns out, the incredibly generous Stam family allowed us to use their five bedroom, three bathroom, palace.

comfy sofa joy
bannisters of glee
there's a pool table under that cloth

So that was a flipping fantastic surprise. There were two big gardens, some stables, and a field. And best of all, a strange man who lived in the garage.

I can’t really remember what order everything happened in, except that Sian and Rich joined us on Saturday as it was Sian’s birthday, so I know Saturday things happened then. There’s a day’s worth of pictures missing after I left my camera at the palace, so we’re waiting for the disposable camera pictures to come back. Tales of The Most Boring Castle In The World, and climbing Becky Falls in bare feet shall have to wait.

Despite appearances, I do like to be besides the seaside. (Which is conveniently located besides the sea).

The sun was in my eyes. Oh, and a CAMERA POINTING AT ME.

Jo demonstrated a more impressive level of enthusiasm.

That's not a sandwich. That's her actual face.

I shall wait until the other pictures are back to tell the tales. So meanwhile click on any of the pictures above to see the whole lot. And don’t go posting them on gaming forums this year, you weird stalking freaks.

However, what cannot wait is this picture of Richard Wand, naked, swimming in the amazing cove we found in Babbacombe Bay. I did no such thing – I have far too much dignity than to go swimming naked with Sian’s boyfriend at night time in the freezing sea in front of a scared looking fisherman. I kept my boxers on. And frankly, the world should be grateful. Stripped bare, I look like the bastard offspring of a woolly jumper and a binbag full of custard.

Oh dear God.

More soon.

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Recent Events

by on Jul.02, 2005, under Photos

The last couple of weeks have been a frenzied trek about the country for all manner of exciting adventures.

Things began, um, a while back with Nick’s “Pre Wedding Jaunt”, and not in any way, “Stag Do”. This took place in Edinburgh for the weekend, where ten of Britain’s loudest men gathered to bellow discussions at one another and the people of Scotland. While the majority of the time was quite civilised, a token nod to the wretchedness of stag culture appeared in the form of a surprise game of paintballing. Oh, what joy.

“Why? Because it really bloody hurts when they hit you, that’s why. It’s a stupid, mindless, ridiculous activity where idiotic men deliberately hurt one another in a miserable, muddy wood.”

“But it’s meant to hurt. That gives you the incentive to avoid being hit.”

“Yes, and the most effective way to avoid being hit is, TO NOT GO PAINTBALLING.”

It was, as expected, awful. Our desired plan of splitting into two teams of five – Team Jew, and Team Gentile – were immediately evaporated when lumped in with two other stag gatherings, each sharing a combined IQ of about 7, and fewer chromosomes. These sub-human primordial oozes ensured that at no point could anything approaching ‘fun’ be achieved, too achingly stupid to comprehend the simplest of instructions. “Hold you gun by the wire,” shouted the staff. “THE WIRE.” “NO! THE WIRE!” Until eventually the marshalls had to actually take the guns from their hands, turn them around, and then put them back into their primitive, barely prehensile hands wire first. This became far worse when it came to understanding the instruction, “Don’t shoot your gun after the game over.”

I was hit three times. Once in the back of my head, another time in the middle of my back (please note I was facing forward), and a final time in the shoulder, while walking back to the base, after the game over. Adam still bears the mark on his neck where he was hit post-game.

It’s hard to say whether all that was worth it to see this, but it was certainly close.

Early Halo 3 screenshots released

Then there was the college residential in Cheltenham. Two days of lying around in the sun with lovely people. Well earned.

Try and pretend this is more interesting

Then the final weekend of youth work, already documented.

And Thursday, Nick and Victoria’s wedding. That’s no small statement. I take full credit for the whole relationship, for reasons that are too boring to chronicle again. But let it suffice to say, they owe me everything, including the 60 pounds for the supposedly free hotel room on Thursday night.

Just add milk

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