Friday, 30 May 2008

The Leicester Llamas - a History

This is a bit long, so if you only have a short attention span, or have something more important to do (such as watching Don't Forget the Lyrics), just read the first paragraph.

Although it's only about five or six years since the original Leicester Llamas website disappeared, it seems longer, and I'm sure there must be many birders who've never heard of it, or if they have heard of it, didn't see the original. For anyone who doesn't remember it, the Leicester Llamas was a satirical (or mostly just plain silly) birding website. The name 'Leicester Llamas' was originally the name of our bird race team, and was inspired by Steve Wright's character Llama Man on his old Radio 1 show.

The website was the product of many evenings of substance abuse by myself and Richard Fray, with occasional input from Richard's brother, Rob. My memory is somewhat hazy now (I wonder why?), but I think the site first went online in about 1999 or 2000, and hung around for a couple of years. However, the origins of the Llamas go back further than that, to a birding holiday in Shetland in 1996.

Around this time, we had the vague idea of bringing out a satirical birding magazine as a successor to the very popular and funny Not BB, which first appeared in the mid-1980s, and ran to four or five editions. To this end Richard started writing down ideas as they occurred to us in a 'humour book'. Of course, we were far too lazy actually to do anything about getting this into print, but nevertheless we kept on accumulating material. Then in the late 1990s we discovered the Internet, and that seemed a much better place to publish our nonsense.

So Richard and I learnt how to create websites... the hard way. There was none of yer fancy Dreamweaver stuff at first; oh no, the original Llamas site was hand coded in HTML using Notepad. No wonder the design was quirky, to say the least. The photography was also primitive by today's standards, being a combination of scanned prints and low resolution videograbs. Using our clunky old PCs running 'fucking Windows 98' and painfully slow dial-up modems, we uploaded our creation and unleashed it on the world.

Highlights of the site included: 'They're Nerds - the magazine of the IQ40 club'; 'Things that wankers say' (my personal favourite being “I hear you have a website that discredits me”); 'Place names explained' (a blatant rip-off of Not BB, which has subsequently been used yet again by the Punkbirders); a page about Rob's dog, Sparky, and a Poetry Page. As an aside regarding the latter item, a few years ago I got into conversation with a very posh lady and her husband on the dam at Rutland Water; after a while she said “You're not one of those Leicester Llamas, are you?” I somewhat shamefacedly admitted that I was. “Oh, we absolutely adore your site,” she continued, “we especially like the poetry page, and particularly the last one.” This was an unexpected reaction indeed, as the 'poem' in question was...

There once was a twitcher called Lee. WHAT A CUNT!!!


Which only goes to show, as Terry Pratchett is fond of saying, that you never can tell.

From these brief examples, you can easily deduce that one of the main targets (oh all right then, the main target) of our piss-taking was the UK400 club and its esteemed proprietor, variously satirised as L.A.R.G. Ego, L.G.R. Sole, L.Y.R.E. etc, etc. Not surprisingly, he didn't take kindly to all this slagging off, which of course spurred us on to even greater efforts. I think there are two main things which people remember about the Leicester Llamas; one is the page about Sparky, and the other is the photo of 'Britain's top twitcher' resplendent in metallic blue and silver shell-suit and wellies, bouffant hairdo, three gold chains round his neck and pager on belt, which when clicked on, turned into 'Ali Lee' (see below):


So what happened to the Llamas? The main reason for the site's demise was that in 2003 Richard met and married Melanie, an ex-pat British Llama-fan living in Arizona. With one half of the writing partnership now several thousand miles away in the USA, things were obviously never going to be the same again. Rob and I also gave up twitching around this time, which meant that we were no longer as aware of what was going on in the birding scene. The site stayed up for a year or two until the domain name ran out, and then disappeared. Some of it can still be seen (minus most of the graphics) on a web archiving site:


http://web.archive.org/web/20010925161040/www.cpcayless.fsbusiness.co.uk/


In June 2007 Rob moved to Shetland (see his website http://www.robfray.co.uk), leaving me as the sole remaining 'Leicester Llama' actually living in Leicester, hence the singular title of this new blog.

I'm fairly sure the Leicester Llamas was the first birding humour website, but subsequently others have appeared, particularly with the rise of the blogging phenomenon. Foremost amongst the recent arrivals have been the Punkbirders, Tom McKinney's completely mental (and very funny) blog and Martin Collinson's 'George Bristow's Secret Freezer'. And no doubt there are others that I haven't come across.

Fuck it, that's enough. No-one will ever read this far anyway. This is the Internet for fuck's sake - people want bite sized snippets of bollocks about 'celebrities' that they can read in ten seconds and then move on to something else, not pages and pages of solid text wittering on about some stupid website that disappeared five years ago and wasn't really that funny anyway.

13 comments:

Andy Mackay said...

The web archive link doesn't seem to be working at the moment, but hopefully that's just a temporary problem.

John Hague said...

Andy, good to see some Llama related nonsense back on the web. Aiyee

Skev said...

Ali Lee - fucking classic. Only a cunt on casters would go out dressed like that.
Pacific Swift my big fat arse.

Lee G.R. Evansake said...

Dear Mr Llama,

Please remove immediately all images, references and comments slighting my good name and reputation as Britain's number one yearlister, record adjudicator, rare bird author and twitch organiser. You and all of your cohorts are hereby banned from the IQ40 club for life. Which means you can't split Common Buzzard into the three recognised species (Pale Common Buzzard, Brown Common Buzzard and Slightly Darker than the Pale Common Buzzard).

Andy Mackay said...

Um, no I don't think I will actually. However, there's unlikely to be anything else about you on my blog, as I don't twitch any more, and even if I did I wouldn't give you the 'oxygen of publicity'. You are a pointless non-entity as far as I'm concerned.

Richard Fray said...

Nice to see the Llamas getting another run out. We used to be quite funny! Well, sometimes.

Anyway, I've put that all behind me now and turned into a right boring bastard, you'll be pleased to hear :)

Richard Fray said...

Seeing as Andy didn't post a link to it in the Llama's history (the miserable bugger) here's my Arizona Wildlife Photography website, which is painfully unfunny - unless you think the quality of the photos is laughably bad.

Andy Mackay said...

There is a link to your website in the main 'Links' section, AND it's near the top as they're in alphabetical order (apart from the link to this article which I'm keeping at the top). So stop fucking complaining, Fatboy!

Dave Sewell said...

Good to see the Llamas resurfacing albeit in singular form (no doubt Andy will argue he was the creative genius behind it all anyway!)

Interesting to see where you guys have ended up and indeed the lengths you've all gone to to get as far away from each other as possible!

Andy Mackay said...

Good to hear from you, Dave. What are you up to these days? And have you got an up to date e-mail address for 'Dipper Dixon'? You can use the contact form on my wildlife art website if you haven't got my e-mail address. Cheers, Andy

JH said...

I am looking forward to some ID-features of the various Daurian splits, that the LL's somehow only alluded to...

Lager Naves said...

Shell Suit for sale. Metallic blue with matching jelly boots. I did have some bloody mega hold hairspray for sale too but that was in the boot of my Vectra when it got nicked, along with my 14 new scopes, 78 pairs of specially made Leica bins, a bag full of cameras and my white wedding suit. Offers on the shell suit over £81.97 please.
All the best

Lager naves

darrell j prest said...

somewhere in the depths of my spare room i think i may have the whole of the original website on paper,i mean i printed off the whole site way back in 2001,i will try to find it one day