350 MILES TO SEE RADIOACTIVE SHEEP by Richard Karsmakers
We're not alive, and not kicking either.
We're barely awake, but bursting with joy although one wouldn't
particularly notice that.
Today will be the day that we have both looked forward to
tremendously: The day we will visit none other than Jeff Minter -
Yak the Hairy.
I think I just need a little time to get to grips with myself
now, for I usually don't (want to) wake up at times like these.
The sun is shining outside already as if trying to comfort us.
We're at Newcastle Station, which is now nice and quiet. I've
just had some breakfast consisting of a doughnut (yummy!) and a
glass or orange juice (which was ridiculously expensive).
The taxi that Peter had arranged yesterday arrived at 07:45 and
we ended up here at 07:55. Peter waved us goodbye looking rather
sleepy. We have just bought our ticket to Carmarthen (the town
from which Jeff will come and pick us up), which is about 350
miles, 7 hours and £100 distant from this place.
Through the windows of the train, which left at 07:20, a most
astonishing view unfolds itself before my eyes (not before
Stefan's, since he seems to be sleeping - as usual): A beautiful
shiny morning over Newcastle as we cross the river Tyne once more
over one of those high bridges. The clearest blue sky imaginable
hangs above it all, only dotted with feeble white clouds.
I have been stumping a bit, and forgot to mention one of the
stations we've already stopped at.
Anyway, we're at Darlington now.
The buffet, just one piece of train ahead of us, has just
opened. Enormous gatherings of human beings drag themselves to
that approximate direction to allow themselves to get their hands
on some breakfast at last.
The ever increasing number of people rushing to the buffet with
empty hands and returning with various filthy salad-clad
sandwiches and coffee almost drop to the floor in an attempt at a
massive Pope-imitation as the train halts at North Hallerton.
Stefan still seems to be quite fast asleep, and a satisfied grin
seems to be unconsciously finding its way on his lips as the
train halts at York.
Today, he will visit the man who he admired since at least six
years (back in the VIC 20 days): The Yakkiest person around!
Since I can't get coffee down my throat without immediately
afterwards experiencing certain nauseating feelings and since I
didn't want to drink any tea, I got some Coke. But since I cannot
have breakfast on fluids alone, I also got a large Prawn sandwich
(delicious, expensive - but at least no tomato or salad on it!)
and a hot cheeseburger (the last one present in the train, so the
buffet-man confided in me).
Stefan still sleeps, though the grin has been replaced by the
usual sleeping impression: Mouth comfortably ajar (or should I
say: Blatantly open?) in an general emulation of stupidity.
I seem to lose grips on this. I don't know what to write down
now except for: Train arrived at Doncaster.
I feel a bit sleepy. Stefan woke up and is at the moment
questing for some breakfast, carefully scavenging the train in
search of nourishment. Apart from the fact that I feel sleepy, I
also feel slightly lonely. I miss my ST. I miss the regular
abundance of good music that is usually filling my room. And I
miss more. But I have decided not to tell you (yet) about this
The landscape scrolls smoothly by in super-multi-parallax
England is beautiful.
Here you got it: Train arrived at Sheffield.
We have now both boosted up our walkmans with some pretty heavy
Heavy Metal. It's still well over two hours to Bristol, which
will be the first place where we must change trains.
Derby. The Train Station where Tim Coupe picked us up less than
a week ago, taking us to Steve Bak.
Am I becoming sentimental?
I am afraid I am.
"Join us now in vengeance and let the bodies rot"
-- Metal Church
"Reach up to the heavens and make the bodies burn"
-- Metal Church
I just called Jeff Minter from the train telephone. He was,
quote, "afraid there was a slight bit of a problem": His car had
problems (an empty battery) so that he couldn't get us from
Carmarthen to Newcastle Emlyn where he lives.
Can't ANYTHING go well with us?
So that might be yet another financial setback for us because of
excessive taxi costs. Shit.
Birmingham New Street - clear thoughts of negative opinions
about British Rail pop back up in our memories.
That bastard Stefan is farting like hell! He always accuses me
of farting when I wake up at morning (which I do), but he does it
now in such an awful way that it actually hit my throat and
caused me to cough.
I cannot say I particularly like the fact that we are STILL
standing at Birmingham New Street Station. As you will remember
from the train voyage to Steve Bak, the train got some engine
failure here and we had to go through an alternative way - that
was also quite much slower.
So grim doubts of enormous delays are gathering in my brain
coils. And there seems to be no sign whatsoever of the train
Surely this can't be? Can this be?
No. It can't.
Or can it?
By the way....the beeping in my ears (since Tuesday evening) has
passed away in the course of yesterday afternoon. That was almost
We got out at Bristol Temple Meads. The sound of gulls brings to
my attention that the sea might indeed be very near - for the
first time since one and a half week ago (when we actually flew
The last hour or so in the train, we didn't do much. The train
didn't stop anywhere and we just listened to some tapes on our
walkmans (Metal Church and Metallica, basically).
The train leaves for Newport, where we have to get out and are
supposed to switch to Swansea. It is a quite small train that
isn't quite as comfortable as the one we left half an hour ago.
The thing makes a hell of a noise - especially when it goes
through tunnels, where one's eardrums seem to be instantly
obliterated and where my 1 cm hairdo gets all mixed up and
We just noticed that there are messages on the side of one-pound
coins. Different ones (at least three). One of them is "PLEIDIOL
WYR IM GWAD", which we suppose means "I PLEA MY WIFE IN THE
We accidentally just entered Wales. A strange feeling clasps our
hearts as we go through this rather invisible boundary.
Stefan just beat me at a Flatten-a-Cola-Can-between-your-hands-
We left that noise little train and are now standing at Newport
(which is Casnewydd in Welsh). The sun shines like a raving mad,
and apart from the stench of the trains I think I can indeed
smell the sea.
But, then again, that might be my mere imagination.
The train is scheduled to leave at 13:40, so I think it's safe
to assume a quest into town to go and look for something to
Stefan will remain behind to guard our luggage.
I just came back from my quest. Newport (or Casnewydd, or
whatever) is a rather dull town and only seems to be filled with
Real Estate Agents and Mortgage Offices. Very strange indeed,
just like in a nightmare.
But I did succeed in getting myself some of that simply
delicious Cherry 7Up.
It's kinda kinky to walk around in a Welsh town with my ST NEWS
T-shirt on (the one we had custom-made in Carnaby Street, London,
one week earlier, remember?).
The train leaves - on another platform then it was supposed to
leave from, and 10 minutes late. Nice thing, this British Rail.
Most places are either occupied or reserved for people who might
like to utilise the Hot Meal Service.
Just before leaving, Stefan bought a poster-magazine of "Indiana
Jones and the Lost Crusade" - which happens to be quite a giant
poster of the movie with some texts and more piccies on the back.
We sweat ourselves virtually to bits.
We've arrived at Cardiff Central (which is Cardydd Canolog in
We behold the sea!
We behold the sea!
We are happy and rejoiced, and beautiful memories already pop
back into our minds of having baths and things like that (for,
some way or another, we had our last showers/baths on last monday
morning - largely due to an enormous lack of time and too many
other things that needed to be done).
A while back, we halted at a town called Bridge End, which is
Pen-y-Bont in Welsh. When we also read that "departures" is
"Trenau'n Ymadeal", we realised that it all sounded a bit
Tolkienish. So this is where the great master of fantasy fiction
got his inspiration from!
We are now spontaneously childish and shout Dutch swearing words
through the train - nobody can understand them anyway.
Port Talbot Parkway.
No further comments.
Wales is a very beautiful country indeed - it's far more hilly
than England, a lot more rugged and also much more savage - which
is probably the reason why one Jeff Minter decided this might be
a nice place to go and live.
It's truly fascinating.
And we're really feeling mealy dull.
Neath. Now, there's only one more stop to go before we arrive at
Swansea, where we have to switch trains for the last time - to
Swansea station, where we just got out, is a lot larger than I
imagined it to be. There are still direct lines to London from
this town, and there is a Menzies shop here as well.
Let's get some fluids and chocolate!
We're now sitting in a completely stuffed train to Carmarthen.
We have succeeded in getting our hands on some Coke and Bounty
bars, and we stuffed our rucksacks in the luggage compartment -
so I guess you could say we're slightly happy (and at least
The train just left - and it goes backwards!
That filthy asshole Stefan just now opened a Coke can in my face
and now my bloody ST NEWS T-shirt is disgracefully stained!
I'll teach him, that son of a bitch!
We just left a town called Llanelli, and at the moment the train
is driving at about 10 metres from the very sea. It looks rather
nice, and surely nice and peaceful.
Maybe I can throw Stefan off the train in sweet revenge for the
stains caused? Maybe he'll drown? Sounds good. Sounds fine.
Hold tight to your seats: We just halted at a place called Pen-
Pre/Porthy-Tywyn (in Welsh), which really is Pembrey and Burry
Kidwelly (Kydwell in Welsh); only one more stop before
We still see the sea and Stefan was enchanted by a distant
castle on some cliffs stretching into the sea as we halt at
Ferryside (Glannyfferi in Welsh). He actually made a couple of
pictures of it through an open train window.
It's the end station of this line - the railway simply stops
beyond it. Now, we only have to look for a bus to Newcastle Emlyn
- looking for a taxi (which Jeff suggested) would probably be
somewhat heftily priced for our small budgets.
Never guessed it would come this far.
After wandering through Carmarthen for about a quarter of an
hour looking for a bus, we were told that it had left just before
four and that only one bus left every three or four hours.
There was nothing else we could do except for hitchhiking. So we
took a pen and wrote "Newcastle Emlyn PLEASE" on the inside of
the white cover of a Hewson press release package, and strolled
along the road that would eventually bring us to Newcastle Emlyn
- thumbs up.
It could have been a long and tiresome journey (it's about 30
miles which is over 45 kilometres), if it wouldn't have been for
an extremely nice mother with her son who had just done shopping
and who turned out to live in a town called Church of St. Mary
(don't bother looking at the map, but it's about 15 miles from
where we needed to be).
In spite of the fact that their blue Volvo 343 was crammed with
shopping, we still managed to stuff everything (including our
rucksacks and even ourselves) in the car and they took us to
their home - a remote but really lovely farm with an enormous
lawn on which about half a dozen sheep were grazing.
As we played around with a truly adorable young kitten, two
Welsh Corgi dogs they had and one Shepherd dog of the neighbours,
they went inside and found out exactly where Cwmcych would have
to be (the actual town where Jeff lives, near to Newcastle
Emlyn - which is pronounced something like 'ceemquiche'). They
also decided that we were 'two poor foreigners' and decided to
take us all the way up there.
The Welsh are surely splendidly nice folk!
May the sun grow their crops forever, may the software lords be
merciful on those who happen to have home computers and may they
never get hit by viruses that either kill their sheep or their
We have arrived at Newcastle Emlyn (Welsh: Castel Newydt Dmlym)
- now we only need to go to the west side of town, where Cwmcych
is supposed to be. There, we should meet she guy we wanted to
shake hands with so desperately.
After driving slowly through some quite long roads, eagerly
reading all names of the house (houses don't have numbers here in
this rather remote part of Wales - just names), we stepped out at
the place where we had to be. It was 17:20.
The awfully nice woman and her son were thanked extensively by
us (they refused some monetary contribution to their cash-flow,
however), and we waved goodbye as they disappeared behind a hill
and went home to their nice little farm with the nice little
young kitten, the nice Welsh Corgi dogs and the nice sheep again.
"Danrhiw", we read once more (and aloud this time) as we push
the gate open a bit further and step into Minter's domain. We
look around with amazement and jealousy in our eyes.
We can't believe that we have achieved in reaching our goal, and
can't even believe the form this goal turned out to be. This is a
When I retire, I want to live in a place like this.
Jeff lives in a cosy white cottage - not too big, not too small
- in a valley between two rough, tree-clad hills. Next to his
house, a small lawn can be seen in which a couple of sheep are
grazing. Beyond that little lawn, the sparkling water of a little
brook can be seen - also making that familiar soothing sound of
running water that can make many people want to go to the
lavatory instantaneously. Fish can actually be seen jumping and
swimming in that very brook, and it's hard to imagine that this
place is actually in the same country (yes, even in the same
pangalactic dimension) as a city like London with its sticky
filth and damp heat.
Normally, you would close the eyes just to dream and see a place
like this, but here you can experience it with your eyes wide
The sun is shining, but the heat of its rays is instantly
transformed into gentle warmth in the coolness of the valley and
the general restful radiance of the scenery.
A Ford Escort Convertible is on the driveway - in the process of
having its battery re-charged. This car is the only thing that
would remind you that you're actually in the modern world instead
of some faery-tale land where everything is beautiful, radiant,
fresh, green, magic and scenting deliciously.
If there will ever be a place that inspires me to write lengthy
poems and novels about nature and the general beauty of life,
this is surely it.
We take for the driveway and pass the car. There is nobody to be
seen near it - only a long cable that is probably plugged into a
mains socket behind a window that is ajar and through which it
disappears into the dimness of the house.
Nobody can be seen in the house, either.
All we hear is the sound of some sheep bleating peacefully along
with the sound of the brook. All we smell is nature - fresh grass
and moist, green trees.
And, of course, there's loud Pink Floyd music pouring through
No other sounds. No hints at any civilisation, here (for you can
discuss a long time about whether Pink Floyd actually happens to
be a part of civilisation or not). Sigh...
As we walk onto a small piece of pavement between the cottage
and the lawn on which the sheep still graze sedately, we see a
can of cold beer covered with droplets of moisture accompanied by
a man with long hair, beard, moustache, jeans, a black "Delicate
Sound of Thunder" T-shirt and bare feet that are put comfortably
up on a fence.
As we appear before him, the can of beer is put down and some
John-Lennon-sunglasses turn towards us slowly yet eagerly. Next,
these are taken off and the man arises from his comfortably
tilted chair, flamboyantly stretching out his hand in greeting.
It's indeed him. Jeff Minter. Yak the Hairy. The Games Guru. He
Who Made "Gridrunner" and "Andes Attack" - He Who Temporarily
Numbed Me Totally For Everything That Has To Do With Sex,
Alcohol, Money And Heavy Metal (in short, numbing me for
everything I like about life).
As my hands stretch out to clog the air in his throat for the
rest of his miserable life in sweet revenge for causing so much
mischief and hard core addiction, I am barely in time to
transmute the movement into a greeting likewise to his. We shake
Jeff's hand in turn.
"Gee, hi. Sorry I couldn't pick you up from the Station!" he
confesses, after which he offers us some beer to soothe our moods
and throats that are once more almost disabling our breathing
apparatus in desperate thirst.
We put down our rucksacks somewhere in the cottage where there
are probably the rudimentary remainders of what used to be a
clean, tidy kitchen - but which is now filled with various things
including a true but unfortunately busted "Empire Strikes Back"
arcade hall machine. There are Pink Floyd pictures as well as
things that have something to do with camels everywhere.
I wouldn't mind to live here!
There's also a Siamese cat that's losing hairs at a devastating
rate. It's called Dennis.
We spent the next while catching our breaths and getting the
sweat to dry up from our brows, comfortably chatting with Jeff
about the various things that make life interesting (games,
computers, game consoles, the universe, Llamasoft, ST NEWS...).
We've just seen a test version of "Attack of the Mutant Camels"
Jeff is planning to make his first upcoming product on the ST.
It's just some scrolling and rasters - nothing more.
We're now in Jeff's living room.
Ahem. Actually, this room is a mixture of furniture, computer
systems, TV's, arcade hall machines ("Mach 3" and a "Defender"
clone called "Stargate", I think it were), cables, game consoles
and llama souvenirs lying around. It's also his working room,
Jeff surely must have every games console on the market (except
for the Nintendo Gameboy and the Atari handheld one, which he was
eager to get).
The door openings are fairly low, and I was to hit my head many
times before we would leave.
Ah: We now see a thing called "Fooberol", which is a kind of
"Arkanoid"-"Deflector"-and-more-game-original ("NO CLONE!" Jeff
cry-out), while Jeff tells us some of the cheats to his other
games: Just simply enter pause mode and enter "delicate-sound-of-
thunder" for "Andes Attack" or "pink-floyd-are-gods" for
With both games, you'll now be invisible. But watch out in
"Gridrunner": Don't shoot the damn Guinea-Pigs! If you don't
shoot them, you can get a hiscore of about thirteen and a half
million - which I was to do later, when I got back home.
Jeff is now extensively playing "Attack on the Mutant Camels" he
is doing on the Konix game console (he programs it through A PC).
It's a very zany game with self-generating music (12-voice
stereo), five-level-parallax fast scrolling, enormous amounts of
colors and rasters....
Not long after having looked at "AMC" on the Konix, we decided
that it was once again time for something to eat. So we went over
to the local pub (a mere 100 yards or so down the road!) and
ordered 'the usual' (which was, quite remarkably, Chili). The pub
was called "Fox and Hounds" and the chili turned out to be some
of the best I have ever eaten in my whole life (even though my
residence in this dimension of the universe hasn't been that
We happily chatted and drank quite a lot of beer (those large
pints surely make you go light-headed at an awesome speed! "And
they surely make you shit napalm tomorrow!" Jeff quote). Since I
discovered in time that I was getting drunk a bit, I ran (or,
maybe, I stumbled) down to the house again and fetched the
interview questions, the walkman and the photo camera. It had to
be done 'now or never'.
Jeff is truly a man who is just as excellently humorous and cosy
as he is unique (and, like people sometimes say, weird). We found
out that he is just like us: He likes loud music, coding, playing
games, and having fun in general. We're slightly mad, too, you
Just before I went, he told us that his mother's dog is "so
stupid that it has to relearn its name every day - even the dog
in "Hover Bovver" (8-bit game, ED.) was more intelligent, and
that was but an algorithm"...
He also mentioned pushing my virus killer and ST NEWS in an
upcoming issue of his regular "ST Action" column.
As I walked to the house and back again, I found some time to
contemplate the beauty of the landscape with its sounds of
running water and whistling birds, and the nice old houses built
of pure stone instead of city concrete.
The place was smashing. Smashing beyond comprehension or
description. I simply couldn't find the words.
When I came back, we took some really zanily weird pictures in
some pretty zarjaz poses and positions (on one of them, Jeff is
eating his shoe). After that, we proceeded with the interview
that we wanted to do. He smoked Camel cigarettes while answering
them, by the way.
What is your date and place of birth?
Jeff: I was born in Reading on the 22nd of April 1962.
How did you end up in the computer industry?
Jeff: It all started when I was at six-form college, where I
inadvertedly wandered into a room that happened to contain a
micro. I sort of saw this thing and this guy sort of playing a
game on it, and I thought "Hey! He's playing a game on this weird
hunk of junk." So I asked "How come you play this game?" and he
said "I programmed it in". So I thought "Wow! I want to do that!"
So I borrowed a book on Basic from the library and came in the
next morning at half past six and wrote my first basic program.
That was it. That was on a Commodore PET.
What do you dislike about the software industry?
Jeff: I dislike the fact that a lot of the industry now is owned
by a couple of large companies, and it's very difficult to reach
the market for me, personally, because I can't afford to place
the advertising everybody else places. It is too much driven by
money and not driven by enthusiasm. It used to be the other way
around; it used to be driven by enthusiasm.
What do you think is the best game on the ST?
Jeff: I would have to think is probably "Virus". In general -
not just on the ST - it will definitely be "Star Raiders" on the
8-bit Atari, without a doubt.
What's the lousiest game, you think?
Jeff: Oh, good Lord. I don't really like to say that. But I
will. It's "Revenge of the Mutant Camels" by Mastertronic -
scumbags! May the flees of a thousand camels infest their pubic
What are your other interests besides computers?
Jeff: Pink Floyd, sheep, skiing, Pink Floyd, loud rock music,
generally having a good time.
What have you done on various computer up to now?
Jeff: Well I started out on the Commodore PET to amaze my mates
at school, and the first commercial thing I did was designing
graphics for a game on the ZX81, and later did "Space Invaders",
"Centipede", a 3D maze game and a weird game called "Deflex" on
it. Then I got on to the VIC-20 where everything, like, really
started: "Andes Attack", "Abductor", "Gridrunner", "Matrix",
"Laser Zone", "Metagalactic Llamas" and "Hellgate". Then on the
Commodore 64 "Attack of the Mutant Camels", "Revenge of the
Mutant Camels", "Sheep in Space", "Ancipital", "Mama Llama",
"Batalyx", "Hover Bovver", "Matrix", "Laser Zone", "Iridis
Alpha", "Psychedelia" (light synth), and even a colour
synthesizer and "Voidrunner" (follow-up to "Gridrunner") for the
Commodore 16. I did some stuff on Atari 8-bit: "Attack of the
Mutant Camels", "Hover Bovver" (though a hacker-friend of mine
actually converted this) and "Gridrunner" (fairly lousy version,
though). Then, on the ST, "Colourspace", "Trip-a-Tron", "Andes
Attack" and "Gridrunner".
What do you think is your best achievement on the ST?
Jeff: Undoubtedly "Trip-a-Tron".
What do you think of ST NEWS?
Jeff: ST NEWS is excellent - it's one of the best things I ever
read. I mean it's good to see anything that is put together by
people who are enthusiastic. You're performing a service to
people by telling them about games - many times reviewers play a
game for five minutes and then rate it, but you guys are
obviously quite into it. It shows in your novellas. You get a
laugh, you get told about the game, and also one of the things
that I really like about ST NEWS is the technical stuff: Telling
people how to do all these wonderful demos and stuff like that.
It's excellent, I think you do a great job.
Do you know a nice joke?
Jeff: Why is a camel called 'the ship of the desert'? Because
it's full of Arab semen (oops, Jeff, that's slightly risky! ED.)!
What car do you drive?
Jeff: Well, when it's working, it's my Escort 1.6i convertible.
What tools do you use to program?
Jeff: On the ST I use "Devpac II". To draw, I generally use
"NeoChrome" - though it's underpowered it's very comfortable to
use. I think it has just about the best user interface of any art
What's your favourite book?
Jeff: Probably the trilogy of books done by Brian Aldiss which
are about a planet with a very eccentric orbit. It's from that
book that I got "Ancipital".
Jeff: "Bladerunner" perhaps, or "Coyaanysqatsi" (spelled wrong,
I think! ED.).
Jeff: Tunafish sandwiches.
Jeff: Inca Cola. It's yellow and you can only get it in Peru.
I've been to Peru twice.
Jeff: Yeah! Pink Floyd! Yeah!
Who do you consider to be the most interesting person in the
Jeff: Oh..I don't know. It's so many. Off the top of my head,
probably David Braben or Jez San. Braben I think has produced the
best games, "Elite" and "Virus", but if I would have to mention
someone who is REALLY interesting it would be the guy who did 8-
bit "Star Raiders", either Dave Lubar or Bubar. I think he was
German but he went to live in America. What he did in 8 Kb has
lasted 10 years - it's absolutely remarkable. Nobody knows much
about him nowadays.
What are your main sources of inspiration?
Jeff: Pink Floyd and Williams arcade games.
What's your opinion about software piracy?
Jeff: I like the technical expertise of hackers, but I deplore
what they're doing. I don't think that it's right for one bunch
of programmers to go and destroy the living of another bunch of
programmers. There should at least be something between
programmers - you don't do that to other programmers!
What's your worst habit?
Jeff: My worst habit is probably smoking; something I shouldn't
do but do a lot of.
Do you know what a 'bong' is?
Jeff: Yes. Is a device, technically a waterpipe, used to smoke
weed (In case you don't know C-64 "Revenge of the Mutant Camels",
you will not get this joke, ED.).
Do you like the fact that you're being referred to as a 'cult
Jeff: Well, I don't know what to think about that, really. As
far as I am concerned, I am just a fairly talented weirdo.
Would you like to express your views on 16-bit software prices?
Jeff: OK. Some games are worth 20 pounds. Well, I would
willingly pay 20 pounds for "Virus" - technically brilliant and
the gameplay is superb. But most games that are sold at 20 pounds
are overpriced; all they are is just shoot-'em-ups. They are no
more difficult to program on the ST than they are on the C-64. I
don't see how you can justify charging twice the price for it. I
think the majority of 16-bit software is overpriced. Some games
are worth 20 pounds, but they're rare.
What's the name of your favourite sheep?
Jeff: Oh, I couldn't split them up. They're Molly and Flossy.
Can you elaborate your views upon people eating Kebabs (shoarma
or shawarma) in current-day modern society?
Jeff: Bwaarg. People shouldn't eat sheep at all. Sheep are
lovely, gentle creatures. They don't harm you at all. I mean I
wouldn't take a knife to my grandmother, and I wouldn't take a
knife to my girlfriend, and I wouldn't take a knife to my sheep.
And I wonder why anybody else should.
How did you get into 'beastie' stuff?
Jeff: I always had a rather unhealthy obsession with animals
since I was into camels at the age of about fourteen. I just
(At this moment, people start playing 'Barskittles', strange
game that one of the older blokes seems to be really good at. It
can be compared with bowling, but the bowling ball is smaller and
lighter and tied to the top end of a stick that stands vertically
upon the table. Around this time, 22:04, I also feel that my head
is like triangle point-down on a flat surface...)
Why did you decide to move all the way upto Wales?
Jeff: I like the isolation, and house prices are cheap. Here, I
can work, and have some land to keep my sheep on, and here I can
play loud music at four o'clock at night. Space - the final
frontier. I intend to buy some of the adjacent land in due
course, so that I can keep some llamas there as well.
When is YOUR "Revenge of the Mutant Camels" coming?
Jeff: When I get time.
We chatted even more, after this interview was concluded. Beer
was consumed in excess quantities (I think we had about four of
five of those sizable pints each) and the tongues got really
lose. We also went to the toilet dozens of times (Jeff - 2,
Stefan - 1, me - 5).
At half past ten, we walked back to Jeff's house. Along the way,
Stefan almost threw himself in the brook because of sheer
hard-core excitement. When we arrived back at the place, we went
to have a look at the television: There was a broadcast of Pink
Floyd's Venice concert on BBC, and Yak of course wanted to see
that (so did we).
By the by, did you actually know that the major of Venice was to
be fired for allowing this concert to take place? Pink Floyd's
music made such a noise that parts of the old city collapsed...
We have taken quite some zany pictures here - and Jeff is
present in some pretty weird poses on many of them.
Stefan obviously feels at home here, for he was soon happily
farting away so that I lost myself in violent coughing.
"I would like to live here..." (Stefan quote).
In spite of the fact that I really liked the concert and wanted
to talk some more with Jeff (who was really getting into the
music, slightly banging his head and mimicing playing drums), I
couldn't keep my eyes open much longer, and at half past eleven I
decided to go and prepare myself to go to bed.
At a quarter to twelve, I was in bed while Pink Floyd was still
playing loudly downstairs and while Stefan was playing the
"Stargate" arcade machine in Jeff's living room. Normally Stefan
always talks this shit of being tired and all, and now he can go
to bed but doesn't.
Sunday, July 16th 1989
Stefan goes to bed. As soon as he lies in it, there are some
soft (and, so he proudly states, warm!) farts. The bastard.
Let's go to sleep.
("Yaaaaahhhhh...." Stefan quote)
We are awake.
There seems to be something about this house, its atmosphere and
its inhabitant that makes me positively shudder with excitement
at the mere waking up. The sounds we woke up to were the soft
sound of Pink Floyd's "Shine on you Crazy Diamond" and the nearby
bleating of sheep.
What can be better (except maybe for waking up next to a loving
Stefan is in a worse state: He has slept quite bad because he
seems to have caught quite a severe cold. He can now almost not
talk and seems to feel terrible.
As I come back from the bathroom after having washed myself, I
see Stefan playing "Star Raiders" on the 8-bit Atari, guided by
Jeff. His voice seems OK now, and there doesn't seem to be much
of a cold present, either.
So I guess he was just acting before - nice to know for the
future when he might do it again; I already almost started to
feel a certain pity for him.
But now I surely don't any more.
Jeff is now demonstrating some games on the "PC Engine", a
fantastic games console at about £80. The sounds are fantastic,
and so are the graphics and the scrolling. A very nice thing.
Especially "R-Type" looks great on it, and Jeff knows how to play
these games with an unexpected experience. He has just about all
games available on the machine.
Violent sounds of cries, moans and more or less muffled curses
pierce the sky each time Jeff gets shot, or caught, or dies, or
smashes into another means of certain destruction.
Jeff just mentioned a unique thing that I will buy the very
moment I can get my hands on it, and which is the Atari handheld
(I have gathered together some information about the thing,
which you will find at the end of this article)
I thought I had done everything by now, from visiting Heavy
Metal Concerts to visiting Amateur Theatre Performances, and from
eating extensive English breakfasts to eating Cheeseburgers and
Coke on an empty stomach.
But, just now, I topped it.
I drank a pint of bitter for breakfast.
Stefan still has to go and wash himself, by the way, and he'd
We're in Mr. Minter's Escort Convertible, and it's sure fun!
Stefan sits in front, and I sit in the back with the entire roof
The wind blows through my meagre hair while Vangelis' "Direct"
tears the silence to hopeless threads. Vangelis, by the way,
seems to have heard of Trip-a-Tron and Jeff told us this master
of synthesized sound was interesting in using it himself, too...
Sitting in the back of a Cabrio is really neat. The car whizzes
up and down the Welsh hills and the trees flash by in nothing
more but a green haze.
We see the back of Jeff's car rapidly decreasing in size as we
stand at Carmarthen station, forlorn and without hope of ever
again meeting such an interesting and unbelievably zarjaz person.
There were some emotions as he dropped us off here; I felt the
same like I often do at Heavy Metal concerts: "This isn't
happening to me. This is all too beautiful to be true." I had to
swallow, honestly, not to start sobbing hopelessly.
Well, at least there is some kind of consolidation: Jeff told us
we were welcome at any time if one day we would decide to stay at
his place for a week or two on a REAL holiday (a leisure one,
The train leaves from Carmarthen, on its way to Swansea where we
will have to change to Swindon over Bristol. It left nineteen
(na-na-na-na-nineteen) minutes late, so we will probably miss the
fast connection at Swansea and lose half an hour or so.
Just before we jumped on this train, I went to visit the john,
and I was rather interested by the Welsh name for 'Gentlemen' -
which is Dynion and which I personally find to sound like some
Slowly, the distance between us and Yak is growing. It feels
like some piece of rubber that is being pulled further - which
has not yet broken.
Pembury en Burry Port station.
Gowerton station - a place that we didn't particularly stop at
on the way to here. Or has my memory ceased working?
The train arrived at Swansea - we got out and are now looking
for the train to Swindon (or the train to London, where it is
supposed to end up eventually).
The train leaves from Swansea. Stefan almost missed it, since he
was fetching a couple of spongy Cheeseburgers.
Almost opposite us, a very ugly old bag (female, ED.) is
sitting. She has been using lipstick much too much, and is
wearing ghastly large plastic light blue sunglasses.
Obviously, one more old woman who thinks she's still beautiful.
I wish they just wouldn't harm their looks by using all the
excessive paint on her face - now she's an ugly old bag instead
of just and old woman.
("Sorry, young man, but this is none smoking. Not that I mind,
but you see this sign?" Ugly Old Bag quote - pointing out a none-
smoking sign stuck to the window to another man who happened
to dare lighting a cigarette)
Neath. Still fascinated by the ugliness of the aforemeant
We're now both zealously reading some Stephen Donaldson books
Port Talbot Parkway.
No further comments.
Bridge end station.
Cardiff Central station.
Newport station. This time, lucky for us, we needn't switch
trains. You never know here - they might have hustled all
platforms and departure times again...
We leave the beautiful, rugged, superbly hilly country of Wales.
With some meekness, we think back of the joyful moments, Jeff's
enthusiasm that lit our kindling flames to blazing fires of
inspiration, and visions of endless mega-games we would like to
write on the ST.
Bristol Parkway station.
I wish to apologise for the fact that all I seem to be able to
do is typing down the names of the stations we stop at.
I am sorry, but that's all I can do for nothing exciting is
happening anywhere, and I feel this is necessary for the sake of
Oops. Something exciting seems to happen somewhere in the train,
as the senior conductor just asked whether there was perhaps a
doctor in the train.
Someone experiencing breathing problems?
A women in labour?
We happily leave the train at Swindon. Now, we can at least grab
a bite to eat - I haven't had anything except for a pint of
bitter for breakfast and a Cheeseburger later. I am really dying
for some food.
The train to Kemble is supposed to leave at 19:40, so that
leaves us with loadsa time to find a snackbar or something.
We're back from a quick walk (with rucksacks) through the
vicinity of Swindon station.
Everything is closed in this bloody town on Sunday! We did find
an empty MacDonalds bag which tempted us very much to go and raid
and/or scavenge the town, but we decided to go back to the
station instead and try the 'Quick Meal' service there.
So here we are now. We're drinking Coke, and Stefan got a
Tunafish sandwich. I got one, too, as well as a doughnut, some
'real fruit yoghurt with strawberry' (though they didn't have a
spoon so I have to drink the stuff) and one orange juice.
That should suffice to keep us alive 'till morning.
Well....it has to.
The train has just been entered by us - the train that will take
us to Kemble. With interest, we read a magazine lying in the
train that also covers a neat little device by the name of "Sharp
IQ". Sounds nice, but rather expensive.
We had seen adds in the London underground and they seemed to
promise a lot, but you seem to have to buy lots of extras to be
able to do all the things that they promise you're able to do
We've arrived at Kemble and got out of the train.
Now, we only have to find a taxi. Julia Coombs, Publicity
Manager of Microprose, told us to call Ed's taxi that could get
us to our destination: "The Crown" Inn.
So let's go and hunt down a payphone.
The Atari Portable Colour Entertainment System (APCES)
Please note: This is no review and not even a preview. It's just
some specs, really.
The APCES is a revolutionary new game console made by Epyx,
heavily financed by Atari Corp. It is set to beat everything else
on the portable game console market with a 16 Mhz CPU, 64 Kb RAM,
16 Megabit addressable for credit-card-sized game cards, 4096
colours (of which 16 are available on the screen without
interrupts), 4-voice stereo music (chip designed by the guys who
did all the Amiga custom chips, Jay Miner and David Morse),
hardware scrolling, hardware sprites, hardware sprite scaling,
special chips to handle 3D routines, 3.5" color LCD screen with
160x102 pixels resolution (that you can watch even in daylight,
with objects that don't blur!), six titles already available
("California Games" which you get for free, "Impossible Mission",
"Monster Demolition", "Time Quests & Treasure Chests", "Blue
Harrier" and "Gates of Zendocon"), multi-player/multilevel
capacity (you can link several APCES's together), eight-way
joypad, retail price of $149 (about 300 Dutch guilders, or just
over £80), the size of a video cassette and a weight of one
pound. The system is powered by six AA batteries, an AC adaptor
or a cigarette lighter adaptor. Epyx expects to have at least
four extra game cards available by the end of this year. It will
be supported in the United States by a $15 million TV campaign.
The thing is now said only to be available in the U.S. and
Schiphol airport (Amsterdam, Holland), but is said to be more
commonly available by the end of September. Then again: That's
Thanks to Microprose, Jeff Minter and Atari Benelux for the
The text of the articles is identical to the originals like they appeared in old ST NEWS issues. Please take into consideration that the author(s) was (were) a lot younger and less responsible back then. So bad jokes, bad English, youthful arrogance, insults, bravura, over-crediting and tastelessness should be taken with at least a grain of salt. Any contact and/or payment information, as well as deadlines/release dates of any kind should be regarded as outdated. Due to the fact that these pages are not actually contained in an Atari executable here, references to scroll texts, featured demo screens and hidden articles may also be irrelevant.