Rupert Goodwins' Diary

Tuesday 6/1/2004A geek is a geek is a geek. But a geek inspired can be a thing of wonder.

Tuesday 6/1/2004
A geek is a geek is a geek. But a geek inspired can be a thing of wonder. Take Geoff Marshall, email admin for a big British broadcaster and a man whose true nature is not in doubt. He obsesses about London Underground, to the extent of taking part in attempts to beat the all-stations-visited record. He records fake adverts for Fox's biscuits. He knows all about bank holidays. In short, the man is a classic nerd.

Like all nerds - especially the fashionable ones who pretend they're too cool to wear propeller hats -- he has heard the call of the iPod, and he longs to answer. But like all sensible chaps, he finds Apple's asking price just that bit too high. He was complaining about this in the pub to a couple of friends, and said "If only I could get five hundred people to give me fifty pence each…." As one, they dipped into their pockets and handed over the aforementioned septagonal coinage. "There you go," they said. "Only 498 to go".

A challenge! Geoff needed people - and fast. Where does a geek find people? Online, of course, and with Paypal he could solicit donations with ease. And so his 50p In Da Pod Web site was born. Why would strangers send him 50p? Because he tells a lovely story, that's why -- and also because he'll put your photo up on his site and have a song of your choice dedicated to you installed permanently on his toy, when he reaches his target. At the time of writing, he's up to 186 -- and that'll be 187, 'cos I'm going to send him 50p and ask for Metal Machine Music by Lou Reed. Heh.

So, who on earth would send him money? Other geeks, obviously; people who want a bit of publicity for their own Web site, online service or general silliness, and lots of people who also want an iPod and who clearly think this is going to rub off in some mystic way. Lots from abroad, too: Canada, America, Norfolk… and Iraq.

Yep, Iraq. The best contribution by far comes from Lieutenant Colonel Rick Richardson of the US Army, who's out in Iraq doing that shooty thing. He's an iPod owner too, and wants to spread the love. Cooler still, he sends some pictures of himself posing in full fig and sporting his milspec iPod beside various world-famous Iraqi sights - the Hands of Victory monument, and most gobsmackingly impressive of all, The Famous Foxhole Itself. There it is, in its bricky glory, with L. Col. RR's own iPod perched pertly on the pointing. Just the sort of thing to keep you company while you're growing a beard.

Will Geoff make his target? I'd put money on it. Am I insanely jealous that I didn't think of it first? More than words can say. Will he ever get the world record for visiting all the London Underground tube stations? Now for that, we'll have to wait and see.

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