I have a confession to make.
I'm a roleplayer.
I voluntarily choose to spend my Friday nights in a room with 14 or so other people(mostly guys), pretending to be someone else.
I've been a samurai, a wizard, a vigilante in mech armour, a pirate, a priestess of the god of magic, a woman who evolved from dogs, a fighter, a pixie, a vampire, a werewolf, an elf, a prostitute, a drug addict, a cartoon kangaroo with a pouch which contained an almost infinite number of items (some of which were larger than she was).
Friday night games are quite tame. We describe what our characters are doing and saying and roll dice to see if we succeed or not.
But I have also ventured further into this dark world and become involved with LARP. LARP (pronounced larp, to rhyme with harp) involves you acting as your character. This usually means you dress up and speak like them, perform all of their actions, and if necessary fight each other with rubber weapons or toy guns. It's so much fun.
The biggest LARP in the UK is a fantasy game run by the Lorien Trust. Their main event is The Gathering which runs over a weekend in August, and is attended by up to 3500 players. I don't go to LT events anymore (for various reasons) but I have a funny story relating to them which I'd like to share with you.
The LT events are held in a little village called Spondon, which is near Derby. Of course, all that running around in armour and casting spells is thirsty work, and players often need to go into the village to buy more alcohol (sometimes even food). The locals are used to the mad people in costume by now, and don't bat an eyelid when a guy in chainmail with a huge rubber sword goes into a shop for a case of beer and a Pot Noodle.
A friend of mine gave me a lift to the shop one time - I was in a long red flowing dress with a sword and a bow on my back, with pointy elf ears and James was dressed as a troll, green makeup, prosthetic horns, padding, scary contacts, huge axe, the lot. We were perusing the drinks aisle when I noticed a small boy of about 3 or 4 staring at us. I smiled at him and he looked a bit scared. Then he pulled at his mum's skirt and pointed to us.
"Mummy, there's a monster!" Obviously not used to this roleplayer thing.
Mum glances over. Obviously used to this roleplayer thing. Without missing a beat she replies calmly,
"Don't worry son. Even monsters have to shop."