Star Wars fever has hit the UK. At one minute past midnight on 1 July, cinemas throughout the country opened their phonelines for advance bookings - and promptly fell over. There I was, dialling the Odeon shortly after watching ER, only to be faced at first by an engaged tone, and later, by a BT announcement saying it probably wouldn't be receiving any more calls that night. The cinema giant's website also seemed reluctant to accept my credit card details or, in fact, to open at all. Realising the force definitely wasn't with me, I retired to bed with only my lightsabre for comfort.
The following day, I decided to pop down to Leicester Square to check out the queue for tickets. We've all heard stories about passionate US fans who had been queuing for several weeks before the US premiere in May. The queue was so long that it passed by a public payphone, the number of which was posted on the internet. One slow afternoon, towards the end of April, a colleague of mine called it, and was understandably shocked when a fan answered after two rings with: "Hello, you've reached the Star Wars queue, how can I help you?"
Anyway, I was as surprised to discover our main London Star Wars queue measured about 30 minutes' worth of people long, so I decided to give it a shot over lunch. Within seconds, I was chatting to the people at the front about the various merits of digital cinema projection and the Dolby Digital EX surround sound standard.
It didn't take long to realise we were all in IT - me a lowly hack, and they, games developers in town for a Microsoft conference on DirectX 8. I even gleaned some goodies before they realised my dastardly profession.
However, we were united by our love of IT. A mere two days later, I discovered that my passion for the subject could land me (and my friends) into real trouble. Myself and seven others were enjoying a curry at the Bombay Bicycle Club in Clapham, and in a fit of spicy euphoria, I was enthusiastically spouting forth about how IBM first approached Bill Gates and why e-commerce has made Michael Dell an especially rich man. So far so good, but the lady at the table opposite me suddenly stood up, turned to me and asked me to shut up. She'd heard enough IT for the night and apparently my voice was resonating in her head. One thing led to another, and before we knew what was happening, she was effing and blinding at the top of her voice, shortly before being ejected by (my friend) the manager.
I'm still confused. Can the amazing story of the birth of the PC really bring out such extreme emotions? Maybe her iMac had just broken. Perhaps Dell's recent profit warnings had personally affected her and the mere mention of the chief executive over dinner was the straw that broke the camel's back. Me, I'm putting it down to curry-rage, the dark side of the force, and hoping that my Jedi training helped defuse the situation. So saying, I think I'm going to lie low over the next few days. Thanks for listening.
Gordon Laing is a freelance IT journalist.
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