One regular was Tommy 'the beams' man. Tommy had the most extraordinarily well-constructed delusion I've ever come across. Whenever I met him, he was wearing a tin-foil hat; well, more of a skull-cap really. He'd moulded it around his head to deflect 'the beams'. The story, as I recall (Chris - you may be able to correct my faulty memory here), was that somewhere in the depths of England, there was a big house where a scientist (mad presumably) had built a beams machine in his laboratory. When it was fired, it modified the behaviour of whoever the beams shone on. Tommy believed that the scientist had died or was in some indisposed (one time he told me he'd broken his leg in a skiing accident) and was unable to tend the machine. Meanwhile, some kids had broken into the scientist's house and had been playing around with the beams machine. Consequently, it was now firing randomly and whoever it hit became incredibly aggressive. He blamed the beams machine for the Miners' Strike, the Falklands War, the deposing of the Shah of Iran and the death of John Lennon. Luckily, he was safe because of his special foil helmet. It was all quite extraordinary.
Tommy was a loony in the sense that Monty Python and The Goodies used the term; a mild-mannered, strangely eccentric, lovable and harmless delusional. It's politically incorrect to use the term these days but I use it here with some affection, not as a term of abuse. Tommy was of a breed we don't seem to see any more. Or, at least, I can no longer spot them. Walk along Oxford Street today and almost everyone appears to be talking to themselves. I can't tell the Tommys from the Bluetoothers. And I'm in the same boat. If anyone saw me wandering around the fields behind my house this afternoon talking to myself, they might have said, 'Aw ... What a shame.' Please rest assured that I was making some notes and comments for the new book. I swear on the life of my chess-playing rhino, Kevin.
P.s. As a complete aside, did you know that 'Bluetooth' is named after a tenth-century king, Harald 'Bluetooth' Blaatand, king of Denmark and Norway, who united the Scandinavian tribes into a single kingdom. The implication is that Bluetooth does the same with communications protocols, uniting them into one universal standard. The Bluetooth logo is based upon a merging of two Germanic runes analogous to the modern Latin letters H and B, in Harald's honour. See? Always learning.