Tuesday, 2 July 2013

Warning: Contains Train Nut

Mike G is a totally obsessed train nut.   You just need to flick through his flickr account to discover this. He is the sort of guy who buys his kids a train set and then doesn't let them play with it because they don't observe Rule 55 properly.

He also has a refreshing interest in the remoter reaches of  professional football where he uses his clout to rig Macclesfield Town matches so that he can relieve suckers of bottles of champagne. His reputation as a card shark travels before him


What we like about Mike is his down to earth approach. None of this reach for the stars luxury or time travel nonsense for him.  A pint of Red Willow and a Scotch Egg at the Catford Bridge Tavern  gave the long suffering DD budget a break and it was a relief to be able to use the Oyster card for travel rather than the Platinum Visa.

How did you become an archaeologist?
I spent an awful lot of time digging through Der Fuhrer's code when we worked together at Yahoo, trying to find interesting things. Archaeology is a logical - but muddier - step from that.

We hear that you have worked with ML previously. Any anecdotes that you can share? (Please remember this is a family site)

ML used to be a big fan of a "splash and dash" after work, the name of which implies a swift pint followed by legging it home before he got a telling off from his missus.

Unfortunately, ML usually failed on both counts. The "splash" invariably turned into six pints, and Mark's ability to fall asleep on the train home from Paddington to Reading was legend. He's woken up in Didcot, Swindon and, most impressive, Swansea. His missus refused to let him out for weeks after the Swansea incident!

All other ML anecdotes are very much unsuitable for a family audience.

What is the best piece of code that you have ever written?

I used to run the official web site for my beloved Macclesfield Town FC. A well known football news web site was constantly nicking every news story that we put up on the site, changing a few words, and republishing it. It was getting very annoying, so I wrote a bit of code to show them different stories to everyone else. We managed to feed them, over the course of a week, a series of more and more improbable stories, that they dutifully republished, culminating in the announcement of the shock signing of the chairman of Macclesfield Town's Scandinavian supporters club.
(Mike has been known to set lions onto opposing fans.)

What is your earliest memory of train travel?

Stockport to Peterborough, sometime in the summer of 1988. Five and a half hours on a Sprinter. Ouch.

What's your best train journey ever?

About ten years ago, a group of us (ab)used some free South West Trains all day passes to complete the ultimate pub crawl - to have a drink in ten counties in one day. It's a good job one of the group wrote the day up (link is http://www.beerintheevening.com/articles/10cc/ ) because my memories of the day are very fuzzy indeed.

What's your worst train journey ever?

The same trip from Galway to Dublin that Darren F described in his interview. It makes me feel ill just thinking about it now.

What on earth persuaded you to sign up for GCERC?
I'd followed the trip round India with interest, and as soon as ML said there was a plan for a trip around Europe I signed up immediately. It's a shame I can't do the full circular tour, but on the plus side, I don't have quite so many underpant-related logistics to concern myself with.

Norway sounds expensive. Any good tips for cheapskates?
Pretend the exchange rate is £1 = 25kr and it doesn't seem that bad.

Tell us  more about the kitten pictures.

I can't. The NSA and GCHQ will come after me.  What Lloyd said about Darren secretly wanting to be a nun is all true though.

Which bit of the trip are you looking forward to most?
The Arctic Circle, Berlin, Prague and Budapest. Oh, and every single alcoholic beverage along the way.

If you could have a model of any prototype you like for your garden railway what would it be?

I'd love a Class 37. Modern(ish) British outline stuff is pretty scarce for 45mm tracks, about all you can get is the Class 66 which isn't exactly the nicest looking engine on the planet!


 If you could bring anybody from any point in history along with you who would it be?  Please bear in mind that this person will have to stay on board when you bail out at your nominated city starting with B.
The woman who runs the laundrette near my house, because I think there'll be a desperate need for clean clothes by the time I leave the group in Budapest!

Fårikål or Rakfisk?
Fårikal, definitely. Rakfisk is pure evil in food form.

Please nominate three tracks for the GCERC music collection
Don't Stop Me Now by Queen
Margate by Chas and Dave
Waltzing Along by James

And then we went back to Mike's house to play trains.

Tomorrow John H tells us about his Rock'n'Roll lifestyle. Unmissable.

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