Sometimes, there is no justice…

Sometimes, there is no justice...

Some thirteen years ago when flicking through Ceefax (remember that, children?) and the television listings I would come across a series based on the Internet industry – so I thought I’d give it a go. Called Attachments, it would focus on the weird lives and somewhat twisted loves of the characters involved in an Internet start-up called SeeThru. It would feature a number of characters that would themselves not be very interesting, but who would gradually acquire a cult status among a small group of random people.

The programme itself was pretty awful. While for me the Internet industry involved working with third-party foreign auxiliaries who couldn’t speak proper English and project managers that made ritualised incompetence an art form, the lives of the characters in Attachments was completely alien – a motley collection of dislikeable individuals including a web developer with penchant for punctuating his HTML coding with naked office skateboarding sessions.

Not long after the programme had finished I’d venture onto the site, and find the bulletin board there. For some very odd reason, I was hooked. Maybe I was just bored, as I was spending much of my office time juggling between small code edits, wanting to thrash the life out of the gormless project manager and simply twiddling my thumbs. So I simply waded in, churning out reams of crap and debating with characters I only knew as “Annerobinson”, “Starfish”, “Kitty” and “Tav”. I would meet a number of interesting and at times infuriating people and indulge in what seemed like ceaseless debates and discussions – and eventually meet the love of my life, my own attachment. But that’s another story.

Among that small group was “Sabian”, who turned out to be an American expat. Within a few days, my somewhat jaundiced view of those characters with funny accents from across the Atlantic Ocean would be tempered. Among all of that little online gang that had gathered in this little virtual nook, here was a guy who didn’t buy into anything because he felt he had to, or join the “in-crowd” because it was the cool and accepted thing to do. He’d even agree with me about machine-gunning certain sections of society.

Within weeks some of us would organise a gathering outside of our little home on the web, and that first meeting in late 2001 would see my put the name to a real name, and the real name to a face. “Sabian” was in fact Andy, and his virtual partner “Pie” was in fact his very real partner Celeste. After-work pub drinks would be followed by an evening meal and, to quote Ellis Boyd “Red” Redding, I think it would be fair to say I liked Andy from the start. He truly was a larger than life character.

SeeThru would be wound up with the end of the television series and the small community would transfer to a new site called TheMoonOnline, and for a while things would continue. I would go by the name of Samuel Norton, while Andy would still be Sabian, the “Token Yank”. I would meet Caroline on TMO, and my life would be transformed forever; when it finally went to Interweb heaven a few years ago, a piece of me would die with it. It sounds really quite naff, but there you are.

The members of the SeeThru/TMO community would go off in their own separate directions, and many of those names would disappear into the ether – swallowed up by real life. In the main, while I would be happy to engage in discussion and occasionally tolerate the odd gathering or “meat” (for an explanation, look here) I’ll be honest in saying that I didn’t particularly care for many of them as individuals – a feeling that was mutual. Over time I would re-connect with some people on Facebook, and Andy would be one of the first I would look up. In fact, I think he added me.

Imagine my shock, then, when I heard that Andy had suffered a massive heart attack and would be in hospital in a medically-induced coma. I found it difficult to believe: here was the guy who just a couple of weeks before had been mad as hell at having to board up his gate to stop Notting Hill Carnival “revellers” from relieving themselves in his front garden.

My first thought would be with Andy, Celeste and their two daughters, and would be quickly followed by the question that continues to plague me in situations like this: with all the useless shitheads in circulation out there, why him? Why Andy, who is genuinely one of the good guys? There is clearly no justice.

At this time Andy is still in hospital in intensive care, and everyone is waiting for good news. Tests, EEGs, and more tests. There’s movement, but nobody knows just how good or bad he is right now. All I can hope is that he is back with us soon, and will pick up that discussion about having that machine-gun nest installed in time for next year’s August bank holiday.

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