It was a dark and stormy night in Transylvania…

Well, actually, it was a pretty cold and generally miserable night somewhere in the outer reaches of London. There was initially a small group of die-hard alcoholics (namely Mindy, Zero, Elusive and Pegasus) quietly getting pleasantly drunk in a corner. This group of quiet, peace-loving friends was soon shattered by the arrival of a suspiciously Shady character, whom one of the group of heroes recognised vaguely as being Shooty. However, being not TOTALLY sure, Pegasus then proceeded to attract attention to herself (and the group of heroes) by constantly saying the word "Shades" at very loud volume at occasional intervals. This subtle ploy worked; Shooty finally forced himself to come over and introduce himself. This came as something of a relief to all concerned.

General chit-chat was followed with more beer. More beer was subsequently followed by the arrival of Slime, much to the joy of Mindy, who had a 50p stake that he would be the next to arrive. This caused much disgruntlement. However, any petty differences were soon forgotten with the arrival of more beer…

By now, one or two of the group were getting pleasantly merry. OK, well, at least one of them was. Suddenly, as if by magic, Smid appeared. This, again, came as something of a shock as none of us were expecting his arrival. However, very pleasant the shock was and nothing personal Smid, even if you DIDN'T buy more beer.

(At this point in the meet report, Pegasus was forced to stop and await the arrival of Mindy's Book of Attendees, as the application of far too much alcohol had addled her brain somewhat).

Just when we thought it was safe to stop talking about Shades, there was a mass arrival of people. Fresia and Saint arrived followed by (aaaagh) Bergkamp, who, in an uncharacteristic show of amiability bought Pegasus a drink as a feeble attempt to make up for low-stamming her after a particularly unpleasant attack by the beggar, but I don't bear any grudges whatsoever, growl, mutter, whinge.

It was starting to get a little crowded and cosy in our corner, so we began to spread out to other tables. This turned out to be a timely decision, as there was another influx of people; namely Quinch, followed by Merlin (did that hat have a quarantine licence???), Malwen and Badriya.

And then, the moment we'd all been waiting for. (This is the obligatory crawling paragraph). Without any prior warning, we were graced with the arrival of Perialaga, Chant, Ford and Maude. Much hugging ensued, followed by demonstration of encroaching old age as ribs were noticed to be sore. Ah, for the good old days of pain-free-hugging.

Something spooky then occurred. (Insert theme tune from 'The Twilight Zone'). After a chance comment by Pegasus to Mindy about "Last time I saw Hazeii he looked like he'd just been swept in off the street," much merriment ensued on the passing-by of a street cleaner. Mirth had barely ceased when in strolled Hazeii, who, no doubt was much baffled by the hysterical laughter coming from our now nicely-settled corner. And look, Hazeii! I haven't called you Hazell once!

Boy, was it packed, or was it packed? At this point, Pegasus and Zero announced that what with one thing and another and being as both of them had nothing better to do at that particular moment, they were officially getting engaged. This, of course, was in Real Life, so there were no mud-wrestling matches between Mindy and Pegasus, much to the disappointment of several male Shadists.

We thought this was it, but Supe arrived shortly after, followed by Mr Hugs himself, the One, the Only Beermat, accompanied by Aeia and Ed.

What joy, what mirth, what merriment. And more beer.

More beer, more beer, much giggling. One of the more interesting things to come out of beer-induced conversation was the suggestion of a new puzzle involving two Shades players and the Drawbridge area of the castle. Hazeii suggested that the Drawbridge be held down by a particularly strong length of elastic, which, when cut by another player would send the person currently standing on the Drawbridge hurtling though the sky to a previously unexplored area of the game. This met with much approval and applause. However, on reflection, this perhaps had more to do with alcohol than any real sense of appreciation.

As per usual, chucking-out time came all too soon. A brief altercation between Bergkamp and Zero outside the pub came to nothing, and Maude was last seen asking Mindy if she could attend her wedding. We are still trying to work this one out.

A nice, kindly old gentleman left the pub at about this time and said 'goodnight' to us all. We are still in discussion as to whether or not this was Frobar.

All in all, a nicely attended meet. I don't think I missed anyone out in the above list, but just in case I missed anyone out, here is the definitive list, not necessarily in the correct order; please feel free to rearrange at your leisure.

Mindy, Zero, Pegasus, Slime, Fresia, Saint, Bergkamp, Shooty, Badriya, Malwen, Merlin, Aeia, Perialaga, Hazell-I-Mean-Hazeii, Elusive, Chant, Supe, Ford, Maude, Smid, Beermat, Ed, Quinch, Nice Old Man Who Said 'Goodnight' To Us All and Barman in Dodgy Baseball Cap.

Good meet - thank you all for your congratulations and for turning up, I suppose! Look forward to the next one.